our intern talks like a child, should my resume mention training to be a fitness instructor, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. Our intern talks like a child

I’m a recent graduate working as a clinical social worker at a program with people with dual diagnosis. They can be a “tough crowd” sometimes, as many are referred from the prisons or probation, so a professional demeanor is especially important. While it is technically my boss’s job to supervise all of our interns, it has fallen on me and another coworker to train them and give them feedback. One of the interns comes across as very young for a 20-21-year-old. She speaks in a very childish manner, says “umm” and “like” excessively, uses “up-talk,” giggles a lot, etc. The clients do not respect her at all and it will not help her to move forward in her career. When she gets her first paid job, she needs to come across as a professional.

First, should I address this issue? I could bring it up to my boss, but knowing her style, she will never broach the topic (partially due to avoidance, and partially because she sets the bar way too low for interns who will be entering the professional world in six months). If I should address it, how can I do this without hurting her feelings? I know it shouldn’t matter, but she seems very fragile and has never worked at all, so I’m guessing she has only experienced praise, especially with her “cute” demeanor.

Yes, please say something! You say that it’s fallen to you to give her feedback, and this is absolutely something worthy of giving feedback on — especially for interns, where part of the point of an internship to learn about professional norms and work habits.

I’d say something like this: “I’ve noticed that you sometimes use speech patterns that make you sound less serious than you are — things like X, Y, and Z. I know from working with you that you’re smart and thoughtful, but when you talk like that, it will make people take you less seriously and can get in the way of your ability to be effective. That’s actually true in any professional environment, but it’s doubly true with the populations we work with, where having a professional demeanor is especially important.”

If your tone is “I think you’re great and I want to see you succeed,” it’ll probably be easier for her to hear. And if you can throw in a side of “I know this switch can be hard to make when you’re at the start of your career,” that will help too.

2. Should my resume mention that I’m training to be a fitness instructor?

I recently decided to begin training as a fitness instructor. I started practicing this particular workout as part of my regular fitness routine, but now am at the point where I really love it and want to share it with others. I have a full-time “day job” in government relations and have no intention of leaving or making fitness my primary source of income. I will only be doing the fitness coaching some nights after work and on the weekends.

With that in mind, should I list this on my resume or Linkedin profile? It is not relevant to my work or career field, but I could see an argument to be made in listing it to show that I have a diverse set of skills and can manage multiple time commitments. Yet, I don’t want it to draw attention away from my actual job or have it be a distraction.

I wouldn’t list it since it’s not relevant to the work you do. Employers are less likely to see it as evidence that have a diverse set of skills (irrelevant if those skills don’t help you do your job better) or that you can manage multiple time commitments and more likely to worry that it will distract you from your main job. That’s especially true since you’re just training to do it now, which raises the question of whether you’ll soon want to build your career in that space instead of your current one.

I’d rather see you fill your resume with accomplishments related to your field.

3. Explaining a recent gap in employment, on LinkedIn

If I recall correctly, you advise people to use cover letters to explain circumstances why a resume has gaps or seems otherwise sketchy. For example, they should explain that they have been unable to take long-term employment due to external circumstances such as an ill parent, and that those circumstances have been resolved. Should my LinkedIn profile contain a similar explanation? (I had to be available to help my mother after she suffered a bad fall. She’s in physical therapy now and is doing great.)

My most recent LinkedIn job title is “Freelance Teapot Designer” and shows that I have been doing that for the past eight months. I can only list a couple of bullet points because of the nature of the short-term assignments I’ve taken. I’m concerned that it screams OH HAI I CAN’T FIND FULL-TIME WORK BECAUSE I SUCK. Would a brief explanation in my profile hurt or help?

I wouldn’t. For whatever reason, it’s not the convention to list that kind of thing on LinkedIn.

4. Should I be alerting employers that I’m deaf in one ear?

I have an issue which is going to come up as I finish my education and start to look for jobs. I am completely deaf on one side only, with excellent hearing on the other ear. This, combined with a fantastic drama teacher and years of coping means it is difficult for people to realise I have a hearing problem. It is usually only an issue when there is excessive background noise, and I am not embarrassed to ask people to repeat themselves when I need it.

My question is, when do I tell prospective employers? I am currently looking at an application form which asks me to let them know if I have special needs, but as there are no accommodations an employer can provide for me, I don’t know whether I count for that. I have been registered as disabled during all of my education, but there were no special accommodations in place for me. If I get to an interview stage, do I tell them straight out? I have done so in the past, stressing I can cope perfectly well with my hearing loss. I’ve even managed to work in a noisy bar with this disability, so it is doable! If I’m not up front about it, do I face any legal issues?

I don’t want to put prospective employers off by mentioning a disability (which, for me, is more of an inconvenience most of the time), but I also don’t want to appear to be hiding it. Ideally, this shouldn’t be an issue for any hiring managers as I’m not going into fields where full hearing is essential, but I’d like to know when you think is the best time to disclose this?

If you’re not requesting any accommodations, there’s no need to mention it all. If there are times when it’s useful for people to be aware of it, then I’d probably mention it early on a new job (once you’ve started), in the context of “hey, I have this issue, and it’s usually not a problem but I figured I’d make you aware of it” … but it’s entirely up to you, both in terms of timing and whether you mention it at all. (There’s zero legal obligation to alert people to it.)

5. How many pay stubs should I keep?

This is probably a no-brainer for people who have actually had multiple professional jobs, but I just don’t know who to ask it to! I have a tentative offer for a new job, and while I haven’t put in notice yet, I’m working on starting to subtly wrap things up at my current job. My employer offers only electronic paystubs, and I don’t think I’ll have access to the system for long after I leave. Should I print copies of my paystubs for my own records? If so, how many? A year? The entire three years I’ve been with the organization? None?

It’s smart to get this stuff into your own files, and I don’t actually think it’s a no-brainer for more experienced people! Assuming that the stubs all include year-to-date info, I’d just print the last one of the year for each year you’ve worked there, and the three most recent for the current year.

{ 125 comments… read them below }

  1. Larisa*

    I agree with the first point. I’m almost 30 and over the last few years, I had to make a conscious effort to speak more maturely. It didn’t help my cause that I have a real ‘babyface’ and look younger I am (I still get carded now and still often automatically get sold an under 26 train/bus fare) and my voice sounds particularly young on the phone. But definitely be nice about it like AAM says. It’s not so bad now I’m older and don’t mind being mistaken for a couple of years younger, but a few years ago, I was pretty self conscious about the fact that I was a 24 year old who barely looked 18 and basically being told ‘Hey Larisa, you come across like a baby with your giggly voice’ would have really upset me.

    1. Felicia*

      I have to make that effort now, as a 24 year old who apparently barely looks 18. I think it’s also important to recognize that it’s not something she can just turn off and not something she’s doing deliberately. It takes a lot of constant effort. I got similar feedback when i was about 20 and looked 15, but it upset me because it was deliveried in a way that made it sound like i was doing it on purpose and could just stop instantaneously if only she’d point it out. Thats not how it works. I can speak more maturely now and usually do but it’s still a concious effort and not my default

    2. some1*

      I look and sound younger than I am. When I was in my 20s and had a landline, telemarketers used to ask me if my mom was home when I answered the phone.

      1. OP*

        If it were a matter of her voice, I wouldn’t address it. I wouldn’t expect somebody to take voice lessons because they naturally speak in a high vocal register. There is a huge difference between having a young voice, and using young vocal patterns.

        1. Sidra*

          Absolutely this. I have a deep voice for a woman, but if I said “liiiiiike” and used vocal fry or up speak, people would think I was super young, paired with my babyface.

        2. Observer*

          That’s true. But often still not so easy to get around. And sometimes, it seems like it’s a speech pattern or something else that is under the person’s control, but that’s not really the case.

          I had a coworker who was really good at her job – mature, capable and dependable. But she looked like she was probably no more than 15. She gave off the impression of being “bubbly” and “giggly”, but when I actually think about what I saw and heard, I don’t think I ever actually heard her giggle. And her voice made certain voice patterns show up much more than for other people.

          My point is that she may actually be doing things like using up-talk more than others do – or you may be noticing it more because her voice highlights it more, or makes you expect it more.

          Nevertheless, bringing it up is a good idea. The idea is that she should work on the things she can control, and figure out what other things she can do to counteract the issues she can’t control.

  2. OP*

    I understand the challenge of being taken seriously due to age. I’m not much older than the interns as I just graduated with my master’s degree myself! I’m younger than the vast majority of my clients and they do mention it. Due to my knowledge of this, I make an effort to dress more professionally than the dress code requires and generally present myself professionally. It isn’t the tone of her voice (that can’t be helped so I wouldn’t bother saying anything if that were the issue), it is just her speech patterns and overall silly/carefree attitude. I’ll take Allison’s advice, it is just awkward because it is hard to tell somebody that they are coming off as unprofessional, especially when they are trying very hard! She is doing a lot of things very well, but as you know, perception is everything. I hope she takes it well, as I will be as gentle as possible. I do like her and want to see her succeed.

    1. OP*

      Oh, and to clarify, I meant she acts very young, not that she looks very young for her age! One of the other interns looks younger but is much more serious and has been received very differently by the clients.

      1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

        This makes sense. One of my rules is to never give feedback on something a person can’t change about themselves (like telling them how others perceive them because of their height, face, regional accent, etc). But I don’t think that is what you are doing here. Learning to talk like a professional is something that we all have to do in one way or another….it might not feel natural at first, but it does matter, and it can be changed. Tell her!

        1. OP*

          I think it came pretty naturally to me to talk professionally. I’ve always changed my manner of speaking depending on the audience. I think it makes it harder for me to give feedback, because changing how I speak is something I don’t have to think about. Hopefully when I point this out to her, she will know how to change these habits because I wouldn’t know what to tell her about how to go about doing this.

          1. catsAreCool*

            Toastmasters can help with this. She might want to join a Toastmasters group or at least visit a few.

    2. Larisa*

      I get what you mean. I guess what I meant was more just that I agree to tread carefully because someone who looks younger, it is something I can be a little sensitive about and if I was in her shoes, if phrased the wrong way, I’d have struggled to take it very well. It’s nice that you like her and want to do it as nicely as possible though :)

    3. EngineerGirl*

      I would phrase it as something that is keeping her from fully succeeding. Let her know before you say anything in detail that what you have to say may be hurtful, but you want her to know so she can correct it. Let her know that the business is pretty demanding and due to its nature the standards may be higher than other places. And let her know that her demeanor is actually keeping the clients from respecting her – something she must have in order to be fully effective.

      1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

        I would actually avoid saying that your feedback might be hurtful. Giving and receiving matter-of-fact feedback should be a normal thing. Especially in social work, feedback can feel more personal or intimate than in other settings. When you are working with people on difficult issues in their lives, it’s normal to process with peers or superviors the way your own issues bump into your work and identify ways to be effective with clients regardless of your background, fears, traumas, or beliefs. Interns, especially, have to work through this stuff. It’s a very different culture than, say, banking.

        1. EngineerGirl*

          Receiving feedback is normal, but as an intern this may be her first time. A lot of younger workers are shocked when you have something negative to say that isn’t rah,rah, you can do it! They need to understand that the dynamics of a job are going to be different than school or home.
          I agree that feedback is normal, and maybe it should be framed that way. But rules for interns are slightly different (softened) because it is their first time in the work world.

          1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

            I hear you, and I think it is a tough balance with social work interns (which is where my experience is). If they don’t get up to speed during their internship, they can really struggle to find jobs down the road, or to succeed in those jobs. During an internship, you get a ton of attention and feedback – future supervisors may not have as much time to be focused on helping you grow. SW interns also tend to have a lot of support from professors and peers, like weekly discussion groups, to process internship experiences. This is their chance to get to the point where they can operate as professionals. While internships are optional in some fields, they are almost always required for social workers…they graduate with hundreds of hours of experience. Also, ineffective social workers have the opportunity to really hurt potentially vulnerable people who may or may not be working with them voluntarily – so it matters a lot.

    4. Josh S*

      It’s not about being as gentle as possible–it’s about helping her see herself clearly, and doing that in the way that will be least unpalatable for her and most likely to encourage her to change. For some people, that’s extensive coaching, check-ins, reminders, and gentle nudges; others require a swift kick in the butt in teh form of direct, unvarnished truth, spoken plainly.

      I’m not sure which is the case with this intern, but I tend to opt for the direct approach (at least to start), since that way I know that there is no possibility of missed meanings.

      Don’t focus on “gentle”–focus on being “clear”.

    5. Meg Murry*

      Depending on where you are in the internship stage, if you don’t want to overwhelm her with negativity all at once you could try addressing it one point at a time. For instance, first start by explaining that she may not realize it, but you notice she is often phrasing sentences like a question and she needs to work on making them as declarative sentences (and give her examples of both types). Then next work on the “um, like” and giggles, etc.
      Could this all stem from her being nervous and not yet confident she knows what she’s doing? Could you role play with the interns? Or help her write a “script” for common situations (introductions, referring people to a specific service, other conversations you may have frequently)? Possibly even video taping the role playing and play it back to them? That was extremely helpful in the public speaking courses I took – painful sometimes to watch myself stammer and say “um” – but it also helped me improve a ton.

      1. olives*

        That actually sounds much more painful – having someone slowly criticize you over time and not explain what they’re doing can just make you feel like you do everything wrong and just undermine your self-confidence. I’d first approach her by mentioning the overall effect, and asking if she’d like any help working on it – she may know EXACTLY what she’s doing and how she comes off, but not realize that it has negative effects in the workplace.

        Most people who take on demeanors like that are able to code-switch to professional when necessary. She just may not realize that she needs to yet.

        1. Meg Murry*

          Yes, I wasn’t sure if it would be better or worse to spread it out. I meant more as part of “this is what you’re doing well, this is what you need to work on” conversations – especially if she gets better at speaking declaratively, OP could then say “You are getting much better at speaking declaratively, and doing (insert other thing here) well, but you still use a lot of filler words that aren’t helping you come off as confident, so let work on that this week”.
          My concern was just that telling her everything about her speech pattern was wrong all at once would be hard for her to fix, and it would be easier to try to address it one point at a time.
          One other point – I’m guessing your clients are older than her, and she may still be in a mode to defer to adults. Reminder her that she is the professional, and she needs her clients to see her as such – not as a youngerb person deferring to them. She should still be polite, but she is their equal, not a child – that can be hard for some people to make the switch for, and doubly so if she comes from a background where even adult women defer to the men.

        2. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

          Yes. Yes! She may already speak differently in other situations and just be coming across like thus because she is nervous.

      2. Chinook*

        While normally I would agree with not wanting to overwhelm someone with negative feedback, at this point it would be doing the intern a disservice. It would be kinder to tell her that her speech patterns and body language are making it difficult for her clients to take her seriously and then giver examples. This allows her to be aware of the overall problem and self monitor. She may already be aware of how she portray herself and that clients aren’t taking herself seriously but not made the connection (or written it off as a bias against someone younger than the client).

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Yes, I agree–if it’s affecting her at the job, it needs to be addressed. And like Alison said, interning is for learning. This is an excellent opportunity to learn something she needs to know.

    6. MissDisplaced*

      “She is doing a lot of things very well, but as you know, perception is everything.”

      And that’s a great way to frame it! As people who do this in their speech patterns often aren’t aware of how they sound, I think she’ll take it well. It’s also good to mention that because she is just beginning in her career this is a good time to address these things so that habits don’t become too ingrained. If you can point her to anything helpful (toastmasters, communication courses, public speaking, videos, etc.) it would also be great. This is the whole point of internships… to give new graduates a chance to learn their field and gain valuable feedback.

    7. Artemesia*

      I would think carefully about VERY specific vocal behaviors. eg. the up talking is a killer and she probably doesn’t even know what that is. So explaining it and why it is a problem and demonstrating it will help her try to control it. I would identify 3 things at most — the ‘likes’, the up talking and the giggling and focus on those. Make clear it is a project — not something easy to do instantly but something everyone needs to do when they make the transition to this kind of professional role.

      1. fposte*

        Yes, I’m a big fan of the “pick three specific things” approach. Another thing to consider is her written communication. If that’s good–if she’s not lower-casing all her letters and throwing in emoji, say–use that as an example of how she does manage to currently communicate well, and maybe she can evoke her writing mode when communicating orally.

      2. Kas*

        I’m curious – what is “up talking”? It’s not a term I’ve encountered before. Is it like that thing you see in some website headlines where descriptions of the linked content are exaggerated?

        1. CheeryO*

          I think it’s when you inflect upwards at the end of a sentence like you’re asking a question. It makes you sound unsure of yourself (as someone who is totally guilty of doing it).

        2. Artemesia*

          Great example of why it is important to explain as most people who do it probably have never heard it described. Uptalking is the intonation where the voice rises at the end of the sentence as if it were a question — it makes the speaker seem tentative, unsure of herself, ‘girlish.’ It goes neatly along with lots of ‘likes’ sprinkled through the conversation.

          1. fposte*

            Though that’s a very American take–it’s much more non-gendered and predominant in Australia, for instance. (There’s apparently argument in the UK about whether they’re getting the tendency from California or Australia.)

          2. Kas*

            Ahh, yes, I recognise the phenomenon now :) I know it as “high-rising terminal inflection”. Thanks

            Incidentally, I’ve seen comments here about vocal fry and how annoying it is – I also find it irritating, but it seems to me that it does create a drop in vocal pitch at the end of the sentence, which has some utility, at least. Just lose the creak, yeah?

    8. INTP*

      You can frame this as one of those things that people unfairly judge about rather than as a criticism of her. “You should be able to be yourself and not be judged, but unfortunately it’s harder for young women to get respect than other groups of people. This means that we have to act even more serious and professional than other people and speak even more eloquently.” Then go into the specific things that she does – specifics are important because she probably doesn’t even know what she’s doing. Acknowledge that it will feel uncomfortable at first because many young women adopt characteristics like up-talking because they’re made to feel like they shouldn’t be too confident in what they’re saying or take themselves too seriously, but moving past those mannerisms will help her gain respect.

      1. OP*

        I really like that way of framing it! It normalizes the situation. I could also explain ways that I have had to change to be viewed more professionally and taken more seriously, because it is something that all young women need to be aware of. I never used uptalk, but I used to be one of those annoying apologizers. I also dress a notch up from what is required.

  3. Weasel007*

    #5 – make a habit to send a copy to your personal email each pay period. I have a print to pdf on my work computer. I name it something like “paycheck dd_mm_yy”. Then in my gmail i set up a filter to pull up all those in one folder. Just my idea. It works great for me.

    1. Natalie*

      Yes, PDFs are much easier to store and free, essentially. If the LW’s pay stubs aren’t already available as PDFs, there are a number of free converters online.

      1. Sandrine (France)*

        In France, you need to keep paystubs FOREEEEEEEEEEVEEEEEEEEER. Or something.
        Because, come retirement, you might need to use them for whatever reason.

        Now, I’m not one to throw away important papers like that, but… given that I may not be able to retire for about… hmm, over 40 years, if not more… That’s a lot of papers to keep u_u .

    2. Elkay*

      I keep mine on Dropbox.

      I’m much more paranoid about keeping my payslips now they’re download only, at least when they handed them to me I knew that I had the record in my hand at some point, even if it was now in the bottom of my handbag/in my filing pile/somewhere in my house.

      UK is keep for 7 years I think but I’ve got more than that I’m sure.

  4. Ellen Fremedon*

    Regarding point #3– what if there is no reason for the gap? I was laid off in January and I’m still searching. I haven’t even managed to find any short-term or freelance work, so there’s nothing to put on the top line– just a work history that ends ten months ago and nothing in the meantime.

    At what point do I start mentioning the amount of time I’ve been unemployed, when I don’t have an employer-friendly excuse? Is it better to just not say anything, or to call attention to the fact that I’ve been job-hunting full time all this time without a single offer?

    1. The Earl Marshal*

      Being laid off is a common situation many people find themselves in. I was laid off in May of this year and have been asked in interviews “are you currently working”? I respond truthfully and say there was a lack of work at the small organization I was employed in, and that’s it. I have never encountered a recruiter or hiring manager that expressed surprise at the fact that I was laid off. I wouldn’t call attention to the fact you have been job-searching since January, since that would be evident in your resume. Have you volunteered/learned new skills since you have been unemployed? If so, that would be a good thing to mention in interviews.

    2. T. Jane*

      Don’t be discouraged by the lack of the response from today’s HR and recruiters. There is a total bottleneck in connecting good talent with good jobs and HR/recruiters are it. I think they rely too much on job search engines or database queries that exclude anyone with an employment end date on the top line. Just show you have something currently going on. School or training seems to be a good way to fill the gaps and open up possibilities. School or training also creates opportunity through making contacts. No need to mention your gaps in employment. Let them ask, then tell them you were laid off and be positive about your skill set and whatever you’re doing to enhance them currently.

      Location is another blocker that I ran into. I lived in a small town but was applying for jobs in a larger city. I got a job and the employer paid to move me there but it was an even more remote and smaller market. When that contract was closing, I applied again in the large city and got no response. I follow-up called and the large city employer HR said they only were considering local candidates. Their ad did not say that. I said I was moving there in one month and suddenly I was a candidate and got the job. I moved to the big city, the job was a nightmare, and I quit after a week. The up-side is suddenly I get regular responses to applications because most employers are silently considering only local candidates. Something to keep in mind if you’re applying from a distance.

  5. Leila McC.*

    I moved to Honolulu few years back, and have had to come to terms with a reality very common here, especially among “local” Asian women (but never with Hawaiians, other Pacific peoples or whites,) of colleagues and staff across industries talking in “baby voice.” ALL THE TIME. It’s not an issue with the content or grammar of what they say (which is professional, generally) but in pitch is so measured and high as to sound like a 4 year old (or, like a parent talking to their own 4 year old chile in “baby voice.”) It took time of settling in to realize it was not just the young woman in my office (if so, I might have written such a letter to AAM asking how to “address” it,) but rather a norm that is accepted and possibly even preferred. I learned that over time, alas, when actually told that my normal, professional voice was thought “too serious.”

    For the record, I am half [Southeast] Asian, so I gather people expect me to sound like “the other Asians,” but I was adopted by a white American family and not raised in an area with many Asian people at all, so this was all very perplexing to me.

    I share all this, wondering if there are different regions of the country where different tones of voice or manners of speaking are normalized or preferred, and even if the Original Poster’s intern could be from one such place where her way IS the norm.

    1. OP*

      I think you brought up a great point about cultural differences in speech patterns and how women are socialized to speak! In this case, she is Italian American and from the same area as me, so this is not the reason for her speech patterns. That is really interesting though that they talk in a high pitched voice.

    2. EngineerGirl*

      I’ve seen this also in CA with some first generation Asians. It does become a cultural conflict. The lower voice is expected in the “white” industry but they are expected to speak high voiced to their Asian peers. Can’t win.

      1. fposte*

        Though I think code-switching is a pretty common phenomenon, so they wouldn’t be alone in doing that.

        1. EngineerGirl*

          The conflict I see is in mixed groups, say, a room filled with 1/2 Caucasian and 1/2 Asian.

    3. Chinook*

      That is a good way to look at I. I noticed that, when I spoke Japanese, my voice would go up in pitch (and even higher when I answered the phone) and then realized that my Japanese coworkers (who learned English abroad) all lowered their pitch in English whereas my male coworkers spoke both languages in the same pitch. But, since it is best to adopt to the local culture to be taken seriously, it is best to let someone know when it causes issues.

    4. matcha123*

      My best guess with this is that due to the large amount of immigration from Japan and Korea, and the more constant contact with those two countries, a lot of the norms from Asia are passed over to Hawaii and California.

      Here in Japan, there are sooooo many women with high voices. Some are naturally slightly higher and some are artificially higher. It’s really strange to hear a 60-something woman talking in a voice that sounds like she sucks helium for fun.

    5. HR Manager*

      I hope the tendency of modern youth to insert ‘like’ into every 3-4 words is not accepted anywhere. *shudders* I had interviewed a candidate who would add “..and what not.” to the end of almost every sentence. We hired her because she was an otherwise qualified and capable candidate, but the manager did eventually have to coach her out of the the phrasing…and what not. She was on a phone job too. I know this was not easy, and I hope she appreciated the feed back at the end.

  6. Janie*

    #4 I’d only mention it in applicable situations where it’s necessary for someone to know or if it’d make more sense for someone to know.

    I have (central) auditory processing disorder which means I also frequently have trouble hearing (thank god for subtitles or my poor husband would get sick of how many times he’d have to rewind a scene so I can hear properly), especially in excessive noisy backgrounds, with electronics or when more than one person talks at once. If I need someone to repeat his or herself more than once or twice, I typically mention (“I apologize, I have difficulty hearing. Do you mind repeating that one more time?”) Or, if I need to request to sit at the front of the room.

    Basically, I bring it up organically, when I need to, which is typically when I’m experiencing hearing difficulties in the moment. This may be in the hiring process or it may be after I’ve been hired and have the job. It’s just depended on the situation.

    Everyone is really understanding though! It hasn’t been an issue!

    1. OP4*

      Thanks for this! AAM’s advice and your comment are how I’ve normally handled such things, but if I’m moving into more professional spaces, I wanted to make sure I was doing the right thing.

      I’ve found the best time to be upfront about it is when I’m teaching, in which case the students have to know I need them to speak up, but otherwise I’ve just been raising it when it comes up, which is usually when I’ve jumped a mile because I didn’t realise someone was talking quietly on my deaf side until I happened to turn around!

      You’re right that people are usually very understanding – especially my manager who has a relative who is hard of hearing – and it normally isn’t an issue at all.

      1. anonagain*

        Just to add to the advice given, which is excellent: When the application says to let them know if you have special needs, it generally means to let them know if you need a reasonable accommodation for the application itself. This is if you need the application in a different format or you’ll have an interpreter at the interview or something like that.

        If you need an accommodation for work, which it doesn’t sound like you do, you don’t have to request that during the application process anyway.

        1. OP4*

          Thanks very much for that clarification! I was worried if I didn’t declare it then I could be accused of being untruthful in my application.

      2. Janie*

        You mention below you are in Ireland. I’m not sure about the laws there, but in the U.S. you are not legally required to disclose your disability if you don’t want to do so based on the ADA.

        Putting aside legalities, I can’t imagine (and have never encountered anyone myself) who is mad that a disability wasn’t brought to their attention earlier. The only instance I can think of is when it’s something that might impact performance–and even then it’s usually the direct supervisor feeling frustrated that he or she might not have been accommodating before whereas if they had known they might be more empathetic to the situation.

        So, in general I’d say it’s whenever you feel most comfortable bringing it up, which it sounds like you are already doing!

        1. OP4*

          Thanks for that reassurance. I was wondering if I had just lucked out with the managers I had, but it would seem I’ve had pretty decent ones…

      3. jordanjay29*

        As someone who is hard of hearing in both ears, but able to cope through 90% of interviews and life, I usually wait to bring things up until I get the job. It usually goes something like this: *shaking hands* “I look forward to working with you. By the way, I wanted to mention that I’m hard of hearing. Pretty much the only thing I need is for people to look at me when they talk to me and speak clearly. If I need more adjustments, I’ll let you know.”

        I’ve only brought it up once in an interview before when I had to interview by conference call with lots of noise and echoes. I was actually surprised in a recent interview by the interviewer noting that might right ear is better, which it is, without my having said anything. So there are some employers who seem to be very progressive about it, and even intuitive, I think most of them are looking out for their future employees.

    2. ali*

      Yes, I love this “bring it up organically”. I’m completely deaf in one ear and 60% deaf in the other (and wear a hearing aid). I do not usually need any special accommodations, so I don’t bring it up until I need to. It does usually come up in the hiring process because I’ve found that people like to do phone interviews with me where they are on the speakerphone on the other end and that just doesn’t work well for me.

      Now that I’m working in the office more often (I work from home a lot), I have a button on my cube wall next to my nameplate that says “please get my attention before speaking”. Just about everyone knocks on my cube to get me to face them before they talk. It works really well.

      I think you’ll feel when you should bring it up – as you say below, the students need to know in a lot of situations, but there’s definitely no reason to mention it on your application (unless you are teaching special needs children, in which case I’d put it in the cover letter because it does give you a familiarity with special needs).

  7. Apollo Warbucks*

    #5 In the UK each employer has to give you a form when you leave that shows the year to date figures for pay and tax for the period of employment during that tax year. Another form is issued at the end of the tax year again showing all pay and tax paid during the year. So that kind of makes keeping pay slips unnecessary.

    1. B*

      P45s and P60s ftw!!! Haha you wouldn’t normally hear that ;)
      I have all my P60s butstill have all my old payslips. I really should shred them :-/

    2. misspiggy*

      ….except that you should always have the last three months’ payslips accessible to apply for mortgages etc.

    3. Lamb*

      In the US they don’t have to give you anything like that when you leave, they just send you the tax document (in many cases its a W-2) come tax season.
      Aside from taxes it’s good to be able to get ahold of a recent paystub/paystatement in case you need proof of income.

  8. Suzanne*

    Ah, the “baby voice”. It is rather ubiquitous. I’ve run across it more times than I can count and it’s particularly difficult to understand on the phone. Yes, tell her in a gentle way, if you can, although this type of criticism is never easy. But I know when I run into that type of speech pattern, I immediately think air-headed bimbo and I doubt I’m the only one.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      You’re not, though I don’t always go to the “bimbo” part. The voice is so important, and people often don’t even realize it. Fair or not, I fail to take people seriously when they don’t pay attention to their speech patterns. It’s not just women– I’ve dealt with guys who talk like “bros”, and that’s just as bad. When it’s been people who work for me, I try to instill overall confidence, and that eventually helps with the uptalk. I’ve had people who think vocal fry and baby talk makes them sound cool and/or sexy, and I look at them as lost causes.

    2. Windchime*

      There is a high-ranking person (Administrative level) at my workplace who is a big fan of the baby voice. She uses the baby voice combined with a slight lisp while she publicly embarrasses, humiliates and criticizes people in meetings. For a long time, it seemed that upper management wasn’t really sure what to do about it; after all, if she was using the innocent baby voice, maybe she didn’t really mean to be so hateful? How can a person with such a tiny, lisp voice be intentionally awful? Thankfully, the issue was finally addressed (not the baby voice, but the horrible behavior that came with it).

      Many times, people who use the baby voice know exactly what they are doing.

  9. Kate*

    I would also print out your very first pay stub and maybe any one where you got a raise so it can show your progression of raises. I’ve had jobs ask starting and ending salary.

  10. Shortie*

    #4, I thought Alison gave good advice to wait until early on in the new job if you need to tell someone about it. And although it’s absolutely up to you whether to tell people even then, it may not be a bad idea. My former co-worker, let’s call him Andy, was deaf in one ear, and he didn’t tell people until it became an issue, but he also didn’t realize other times when it was an issue, such as when people who didn’t know would get upset because they thought Andy had an attitude or was ignoring them. Granted, people shouldn’t get so easily angry or upset and certainly should assume good intentions until intentions have been proven otherwise, but mentioning it also could have helped Andy by helping some of his working relationships. Again, though, I think Alison is right on the money that it’s completely up to you. This is just one experience that I had and thought I’d share.

    1. Meg Murry*

      Yes, my son is deaf in one ear, and sometimes appears to be blowing people off when they say hi to him as he passes them, but he honestly just didn’t hear or notice them. Not a huge deal, but it can come off as standoff-ish, so that’s something OP may need to be careful of.

      The other place OP may have trouble is with conference calls. With only slight hearing loss I always find them difficult to understand who is talking or to catch all the details – but I think a lot of people also struggle with this (especially, I’ve noticed, people taking a call in a language that isn’t their primary language – I worked for a company that brought managers over from thei Japanese location, and I was often asked to sit in on conference calls that weren’t technically my area so I could take notes and help out when people were struggling – I did a lot of whiteboard writing in those meetings).

      OP can also help him/herself by using a lot of the techniques Alison and commenters have mentioned here for dealing with phone conversations or meetings by sending an email recaping the most important points to make sure nothing was misunderstood.
      Overall though, I agree with others that you don’t need to tell until you’re hired, especially if you aren’t asking for accommodations, but it would probably be a good idea to disclose, just so people are aware, and don’t get annoyed if you ask them to repeat what they said – or if, like me you occasionally answer the completely wrong question.

      1. doreen*

        I have a similar issue, although it’s my peripheral vision in one eye. It doesn’t affect my work, but more than once I’ve had people think I was ignoring them when I’ve passed them without saying “hi” when in fact I simply didn’t see them. (and they didn’t say anything either , or I would have heard them. There must be some unwritten rule about who is supposed to speak first that I don’t get )

      2. OP4*

        That is a great point about the conference calls, thank you so much. As my working ear is very good, phone calls are usually all right for me (and perhaps easier because I can’t get distracted by other noises), but multiple people speaking at once is an issue. I think on my first conference call I will be making notes and sending emails afterwards.

        I have had a lot of the same problems as your son in regards to being seen as standoff-ish, particularly when I was very young and the other kids didn’t understand that I couldn’t hear them or work out where they were standing if they were shouting from far away. Obviously I don’t know how old your son is, but if he is younger, as he gets older this will get easier because his peers will understand it better. You’re already making it easier by not considering it a huge deal. My mom was the same, she had my back over it all the time and never acted like it was a huge problem, so I’m not at all self-conscious about it now.

        1. LJL*

          My office mate in my first job was deaf in one ear. It just so happened it was the ear next to my desk. he let me know of the problem and told me that if ever he didn’t respond, I should use a visual cue or try speaking from the other side. It was never an issue for us, perhaps because he took the time to let me know when I first started.

    2. Monodon monoceros*

      I’m trying to figure out how to deal with this right now. I have a colleague who is very hard of hearing, but is not doing anything about it, and it’s becoming a problem. Right now he is the Chair of two important groups, and is having difficulty hearing what is happening in meetings. Most of the others know he can’t hear well, but sometimes we have people from outside the org coming to the meetings, and to them it just looks like the Chair isn’t paying attention, which is bad. He also sometimes doesn’t hear key points brought up in the meeting, and then questions why I have it in the report, which is an even bigger problem.

      My boss and I know someone needs to say something to him, but we have been trying to figure out who should talk to the poor guy about it (neither of us are his “boss,” he works with our org, but is not an employee. It’s complicated) and what do we suggest? We don’t want to tell him he can’t chair the meetings (no one wants to tell someone a disability might stop them from doing something), but he must either tell us what he needs to help him out, or tell the participants what they can do to help him (or get some hearing aids or something!).

      1. LisaS*

        It’s tough. My dad has been hard of hearing for years, refused to address it & basically just criticized everyone else for “mumbling.” This year, though, he sobered up and started going to AA meetings, and very quickly realized he a) couldn’t hear anybody clearly and b) needed to keep going, not find a handy excuse to quit. Result? Hearing aids, and a lot less yelling at my mother that he can’t hear her… So I’d suggest finding a way to say something to this guy about how it’s making his chairing of the meeting less effective than it could be. It may be his moment of clarity in the same way it was my dad’s, if doing this is important to him.

      2. OP4*

        This is a tricky one, because it is a medical issue, but it’s also affecting his work. I think your boss, as the more senior person involved, should speak to him, and ask if there’s anything he would like people to do to help him, such as taking detailed notes he can review later. Another suggestion, if he’s willing, is to tell anyone coming in about his hearing loss, so they’re prepared to speak louder and/or slower to accommodate him, and maybe provide notes in advance.

        If he’s older and it’s a recent hearing loss, he may be embarrassed by it. It could also have happened so gradually he never noticed how bad it was getting (I was short-sighted for at least a year before I realised it, because it happened slowly).

        As for the hearing aids, ask if it’s an option, but keep in mind, it may not be. I’m not a candidate for hearing aids or cochlear implants, so I just have to work with what I have and hope for the best.

        1. Janie*

          I worked for a school for the deaf, and we had success with bone conductive hearing aids for unilateral deafness. It sounds like you’re comfortable with your ear and I’m sure you’ve discussed this more in depth with your audiologist or ENT–just wanted to throw that out there as an option just in case though!

          1. OP4*

            As my hearing loss is sensorineural, bone conduction is not an option for me (according to my ENT). There was talk of a hearing aid which would transmit to my working ear, but as I was getting an inner ear issue fixed, that took priority (which is fixed now, so I don’t have to explain regular dizzy spells to employers any more, so yay!).

            1. Anonsie*

              CROS systems, yes! There are newer ones that have come out fairly recently (last couple of years?) that work a lot better than the old ones did. So if it’s been a while since you looked into it, it might be worth looking again.

    3. OP4*

      I have a standing policy that it is my job to let people know so they don’t think I’m ignoring them. It’s the trickiest part of hearing loss, because we have to do more to make sure we hear than most people do. As I’m not at all embarrassed by it (it’s been like this for as long as I can remember), I don’t discourage anyone from mentioning it around the workplace, because people knowing makes my life easier.

      I’ve had a couple of customers get angry when I’ve had problems hearing them (when it’s been very busy and loud), but only one ever stayed annoyed after I explained I was a bit deaf and needed them to speak up. I’ve found being upfront when it comes up is always the best approach for me.

    4. JP*

      This is really interesting because I just started a new job and haven’t told them I have hearing aids. I’ve had some trouble understanding people but always ask them to repeat things, on the occasion I can’t hear. I’ve been there for 2 months now that I feel like it may be too late to mention it.

      1. OP4*

        I don’t think it’s too late. Many people don’t realise I have problems, and I recently discovered someone I’ve worked with for two years never knew I was part deaf when she tried to talk into the deaf ear. So I just said something along the lines of ‘I don’t know if you know this, but I’m half deaf, so if I don’t reply, I probably haven’t heard you, so just shout at me if you need to.” But I’m comfortable with that, so it works for me. The best time for me to do it is always when I’ve missed something because it’s not out of the blue.

  11. NurseB*

    #1 – I think too many times we’re taught academics but not presentation of professionalism early enough in life. I started a new job a couple of weeks ago and was oriented with a few other people, one of them being someone new to our profession. At one point her and I were talking and she said “at least I can say, oh I don’t know because I’m a new nurse”. I politely explained to her to NEVER say that or try to make excuses but to always exude confidence to her patients, even if she did need to ask questions and get help from peers, otherwise her patients would not trust her. She thanked me for pointing it out and said it made a lot of sense. I think people with experience definitely need to help those without it.

    1. OP*

      Yeah, most people would feel a bit nervous if their nurse said, “Oh I don’t know I’m new!” I would probably ask for a new nurse.

      I think it’s an excellent point that we don’t learn professionalism. I suspect it is an even bigger issue for people who don’t have parents who are able to teach them how to navigate the professional world. I did take a business and professional communication course in college, but that is just the tip of the iceberg.

  12. HR Girl*

    On #4 – if you’re American, are they asking on the actual application or is it part of the EEOC voluntary portion of the application? The EEOC is asking for disability numbers now, not just race and veteran status so they might be asking for those tracking purposes and the hiring manager doesn’t see it at all. Just a thought!

    1. OP4*

      I’m not in America, but there does seem to be a push here in Ireland to keep those kinds of records. Still, it’s listed as ‘Special Needs’, not disability, so that has confused me a bit, as the latter implies (to me) that they’re asking what they can do to assist me.

      1. Connie-Lynne*

        I’m in the US and we also have a disclosure section asking if we have any need for accomodations. I usually say that I have arthritis that doesn’t currently need accomodation.

        That way, I’m covered in the sense that I’ve disclosed my problem, but still leaving things open in case my situation changes (for example, I have occasionally been unable to use stairs).

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          One thing to just be aware of is that you have zero obligation to disclose it. If at some point you do want to ask for accommodations, you can disclose it at that point, but definitely don’t interpret that form as meaning that you have an obligation to if you prefer not to!

          1. OP4*

            That is a relief to know. I always wondered if there was a legal requirement on me even in industries in which I didn’t need full hearing (I know when the army reserves recruited at my secondary school, I was told my hearing didn’t allow me to sign up). It’s good to know I don’t need to disclose this. All the advice has been great, thanks to you and all the commenters, my mind’s much more at ease now.

  13. Graciosa*

    Re #5 –

    Okay, maybe I’m missing something, but why do you need any but your most recent paystub if you are about to leave a job? Previous years are covered by W-2 forms (unless you’re throwing away your tax records every year) and my current one always has the year-to-date totals. I can also see the point about meeting the application requirements if you plan to apply for a mortgage (although doing it before your job changes is probably smarter). But what otherwise unmet need would be addressed by a collection of paystubs?

    I am honestly curious because I hardly ever use mine. I occasionally check my contributions to things like my 401k or HSA and make adjustments, but that’s about it.

    1. Brett*

      Most important reason is to record _all_ of your transfers to tax deferred or tax sheltered savings accounts. There is also the possibility that your W-2 is retroactively adjusted on you, and then you need your individual pay stubs to reconcile what happened. It can be very important when deciding if you pay the penalties or if your employer pays the penalties. Also very useful if you had any wage garnishments that you want to have proof of.
      Employers keep these for four years. I’ve followed the general tax advice of keeping any tax related record for 7 years. This is easy if your paystubs are all PDFs.

      1. fposte*

        You should also keep electronic records of statements in those tax-deferred and tax-sheltered accounts–don’t just rely on your ability to pull them off the custodian’s website when you need them.

    2. Janie*

      Your company is required to send you a W2. If they don’t, and you report them, you are still required to file your taxes for the year so that is an instance when it might be handy to keep pay stubs up until you get the final calendar year check or w2. You could use direct deposit as records for your take home pay but it won’t show what was withheld.

    3. Thomas W*

      I can give you an example of why it’d be important to have all of them: I had an issue where I started a job in California in 2009, and left that job to move to Ohio in 2013. When filing my taxes for tax year 2012 (I filed during March 2013), I was a week away from moving. My accountant listed my new Ohio address so that any followup correspondence would not be accidentally sent to my old address. Turns out that flagged the Ohio Department of Revenue to expect an Ohio return, and they required evidence from each month to prove that I had lived in California during all of 2012. I sublet an apartment the entire time (so no lease), and I was using a cell phone on a family plan based in another state. I had nothing proving I lived in California during all 12 months … except my pay stubs! I was self-employed, and only had one client during 2012, so my 1099 had the California address, but didn’t prove I spent the entire year there. The pay stubs saved my back and I didn’t even keep them intentionally. Food for thought!

    4. Judy*

      If you are relocating after you leave the job, many utilities or apartment complexes require 3 previous pay stubs for their background check. You also can need it for getting a new house loan, if you’re relocating.

    5. Ruth*

      I was laid off two years ago, and when I applied for unemployment (in California), they asked for my earnings (pre-tax, I think) for each of the previous five or six quarters. I had all my paystubs, so it was relatively easy to add them all up.

  14. Kat M*

    #1: Quite a few people in my Toastmasters club were referred to us by their supervisors for very similar reasons. All of them have made quite a bit of progress in sounding more professional since joining. It’s a great opportunity for people whose communication skills are holding them back in their careers. (And the networking is really helpful for new grads, as well.)

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      This is a great way to go about it, especially for an intern– recommend Toastmasters! Internships are supposed to be about professional development, right? “I want you to attend a few Toastmasters meetings– it will really help you build your confidence in a professional setting and give you the tools to present well.” Also takes the pressure off the supervisor having to do the voice modulation teaching.

      1. Colette*

        I think the OP should point out the behaviour and let her know it’s a problem and why, but after that it’s up to the intern to solve. The OP could certainly share resources (I.e. “Toastmasters can be helpful when you’re working on communication skills) but telling her to attend meetings is going too far, IMO. The only way the intern will change is if she wants to, and being expected to go to meetings she may not be interested in or have time for might be enough for her to dismiss the feedback altogether.

    2. OP*

      I never heard of Toastmasters before but I checked out the website and it seems like an excellent resource. Unfortunately I just checked for clubs in my area and there aren’t any within 50 miles which is disappointing. I will see if there are similar organizations around that I could offer up as a resource.

      1. Queen Anon*

        I doubt you’re missing anything. I know my opinion is a minority opinion – and I’ve never attended a Toastmasters club – but I think Toastmasters turns out a horrible product. It’s easy to tell when someone is a Toastmasters alum because they give speeches that are dreadfully over-animated and earnest. They always sound a bit condescending and like they’re selling something. I hate to hear them! However, I’ll admit that I’ve only ever heard Toastmasters alums from one particular geographic location, so maybe it’s just a bad bunch and that overall they turn out good product.

        1. catsAreCool*

          I’m in Toastmasters and have been in it for a few years. What you’re describing doesn’t sound like most of the Toastmasters I know.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          We have a club at my work and I checked it out, but it’s just not for me. I have performance experience, though, so I can draw on that when I have to speak or give presentations. Plus, I just don’t have time to do anything work-ish outside of work hours.

        3. jag*

          “It’s easy to tell when someone is a Toastmasters alum because they give speeches that are dreadfully over-animated and earnest. ”

          I’m interested in how you can know this. Do you ask most people who speak well if they are Toastmasters alums?

        4. Kat M*

          I’ve seen this from a few of the newer people in my club, and it seems to be a speaking style picked up by folks who either experience a similar style of speaking in church, or who are really into “motivational” speakers. Those who go through the advanced manuals usually grow out of it after a while.

      2. straws*

        You might check out community colleges nearby to see if they offer speaking or oral communications classes. I took one at my local college and felt that I learned a lot. We also recorded most of our graded speeches, so I can still refer back to them to review where my weak points are.

      1. Kat M*

        Of course, just as with any training program. But it’s an awful lot less expensive than taking a public speaking course at your local community college.

  15. T. Jane*

    #1 Suggest or invite her to watch a movie called “In A World”….it addresses this very squeaky baby, giggling up-talking annoyance towards the end. Besides it’s a good movie. Having said that, I recently experienced working with a young woman who did this as well. It was grating but the boss loved it and in fact was enamored of all her cutesy unprofessional behavior to the point of open amusement and flirting in meetings. This went on for several minutes at a time. It was awful and lead him to spoon feed us tasks and generally micromanage in that parental fashion. It was very uncomfortable at least and really horrifying given what it does to drag all women down in the workplace in general.

    #3 Which leads me to thank #3 for the question and answer about breaks in employment. I’m also freelancing while I complete my MS degree this semester. I’m a seasoned worker achieving education and 2nd career refocus which was a great plan, but the career refocus has been more difficult than I anticipated. I’ve had a great 18 month position in the new focus and moved to a more target rich environment in May. Since then I’ve accepted two jobs that were grossly misrepresented in the interview and description. I dropped one after 1 week and the second after 1 month. Both were very well-paying jobs and both fit perfectly with my education and experience. I felt confident in each, yet the management (as in micro) and culture (as in needlessly frenzied) made both nonviable for me. I have made note of the clues in the interview that I should have recognized and declined the positions, so live and learn I guess.

    Turns out, they really don’t want you to be confident, calm, professional, and knowledgeable. Re-calibrating currently while I finish up my master’s degree then trying a different approach on January 1. I don’t want to put those two bad experiences on my resume at all. I wonder if future prospects can dig up that info or if I should leave it under the freelance banner?

    1. Connie-Lynne*

      I wouldn’t bother putting those two bad experiences down on a resume — both were very short terms. I would, however, list them for a post-employment background check (for example, for PCI certification or working with minors).

      It sounds like you won’t have a gap in your resume at all, since you were (and are?) still enrolled in your Masters’ program?

      1. T. Jane*

        Indeed, I am still enrolled in the Master’s program and should graduate in December. I don’t anticipate any instances but will remember to list them for post employment or security certifications. Thanks!

    2. Artemesia*

      Thanks for the movie rec — it is on Netflix streaming and we watched it tonight — it is difficult to find anything watchable on netflix and this was fun to watch especially in light of this discussion.

  16. Nanc*

    Last century when I got my first ever full-time job, my supervisor did the 3 things feedback with me every other week the first 6 months. The very first feedback was that I sounded too nasally and monotone when answering the phone. She set aside time for me to practice with an office mate responding to common queries and helped me create my “phone voice” which I use to this day. I did go home and cry the first day I got feedback but in the long run I appreciated her brisk manner and focus on finding a solution. It’s embarrassing, your intern will probably be upset but at the end of the day if your manager/supervisor is charging you with training, this is part of it. I do find I have an “office voice,” “phone voice,” and “teaching/training” voice. I wish I could recall the name of that first supervisor because I would love to track her down and thank her! She was a stunning example of what a good supervisor should be. Other posters have some great suggestions on how to handle this. Maybe you could create a little plan, present it to your supervisor and make it part of the intern training process. It will be helpful to everyone and you’ll get credit for creating a great procedure.

  17. Jerry Vandesic*

    #1: I’m going to be a bit tough on you, but you need to do your job and “train them and give them feedback.” If giving feedback is hard for you, you might want to read the book “Difficult Conversations” by Stone, Patton, and Heen. You might also want to take a class on the topic. But you need to provide feedback to the interns, especially the one you mention. It doesn’t matter that this should really be your bosses job. She gave the job to you, so it’s in your hands. If you can’t give difficult feedback, you need to step aside (and let your boss know), so that there is someone in the role that can provide the necessary feedback.

    1. OP*

      You’re right that I need to train them and give them feedback. I feel it was a bit disingenuous of my boss to assure the school that she would be doing the training and supervision when in reality she put it on me (without asking me by the way, just telling the interns to come to me; telling them that I’m better at the electronic medical records; not watching their groups so putting me in the position of seeing them not get the feedback they need or step up to the plate, etc.) I would be more thrilled about this if we weren’t down an employee due to maternity leave, but alas, it has fallen on me whether I wanted it to, whether it was fair, etc.

      So, I have given them feedback on their social work skills. It is a bit more difficult with personal issues. I don’t want to step aside because I don’t think they will hear the difficult feedback they need to hear if I try to put it back on my boss. My boss only gives me positive feedback even when I request more about where to improve, so I don’t think it would be different for the interns. During my internships, I had one who was very direct with me about where I needed to improve, and one who only told me what an awesome job I was doing. I learned a lot more from the former than the latter.

      1. Anonsie*

        I also want to draw attention to what you said here:

        I’m guessing she has only experienced praise, especially with her “cute” demeanor.

        That’s a pretty big assumption to make, and I would really caution you against it. Her speech patterns are very common and typically well-received, but I have noticed that a lot of people assume that women who have these types of speech are being cutesy on purpose so they can get out of responsibility or play “I don’t know, I’m just a girl, teehee!” at work, which is a pretty big conclusion to jump to.

        1. OP*

          I’m not assuming she’s being cutesy on purpose to get out of trouble. I mentioned that because I wanted to be considerate of the fact that she may not be accustomed to receiving negative feedback. I never had a “cutesy” voice, but I know that having a “cute” younger looking face has influenced how people respond to me.

      2. T. Jane*

        Maybe try to make it not so personal. For instance, I’m sure everyone is trained on “business attire”. It’s as important to sound professional as it is to look professional. Maybe all interns/students would benefit from this training for that matter. Perhaps schools should add this to their “Dress for Success” career advising so the students could be more confident as interns. (And, you wouldn’t be put in this position.) This is a new setting for interns and it’s a given they will probably be nervous at first. For certain, interns want to do a good job and have a good experience.

        One way to introduce the professional voice concept and possibly help them feel more confident, might be to train the intern on how to create a professional sounding voice mail greeting, then give pointers on tone/octave, giggling, and up talking during that short session. It’s not personal, it’s just business. This is an opportunity to provide feedback in a positive way when they get it right after practicing for awhile.

  18. Lisa*

    #4 – I too am deaf in one ear. Either it was an ear infection and my parents didn’t realize it when I was a toddler (i had so many that not all warranted going to the doc) or it is genetic hearing loss from a great-grandfather, which 2 of my cousins also have (I learned this on facebook, I had no idea they were also deaf in one ear, and after asking my mom learned that being deaf in one ear was something a few people had on that side of the family, but since no one discussed it via the last 2 generations, we all thought we were special and neglected by our parents as toddlers with ear infections).

    Ok, back to announcing your hearing loss. I wait until I am on the job on the first day. I say ‘hey, just so know, I am deaf in my left ear. I won’t hear you if you are right next to me on that side, so talk louder to me, tap my shoulder, throw something at me, and don’t be surprised if I jump or am startled when you are right next to me. If I have earbuds in, you really do have to tap me on the shoulder.”

    The only accommodation that I have needed was for headsets. Most have really awkward ear pieces that hurt, or are only for one side – always the wrong one. So my accommodation is that I choose the type of headset I need.

    Be aware of hearing-based performance issues though.
    —If your in a meeting and soft talker is leading, you need to tell them upfront that you can’t hear them. I know it sounds awful to keep repeating it, but you have to even if you’ve said it 3x in one meeting already. You will miss something important if you do not force soft talker to speak up esp if its a boss. It also helps to have a hearing-buddy vocalize this too. If you 2 are in the same meeting, let your buddy say ‘i can barely hear you, and if can’t then Lisa is basically in this meeting with the mute button. please speak up.’

    —Since my hearing loss is pretty much from my whole life, I overcompensated by talking softly. This has made me have feedback about not projecting my voice when in meetings. Just something to be aware of.

  19. mobiuschic42*

    For OP#4: This is waaaay late (reading through archives, yay!), but I, too am deaf in one ear. I agree that it’s mostly only a problem in loud places and if someone “sneaks up” on me on the deaf side.

    I haven’t had any problems in either of my post-college full-time jobs (computer programmer and English teacher in Japan). I usually only bring it up when someone tries to talk to me on that side, or if they notice that I’m constantly turning my entire body to talk to them when they’re on my left [or to my friends when I’m zoning out at a party or a loud restaurant because it’s too hard to focus on the sound]. I just say, “oh, sorry! I’m totally deaf on my left side, but my other ear works fine!” and it’s never been an issue. Sometimes people ask me for my story, which I’m happy to share. After that, the most mention it ever gets is either gentle reminding on my part or asking “which ear was bad again?”
    This tactic has worked both in America and in Japan (though I had to learn how to say it in Japanese! “hidari mimi ga warui desu. sumimasen!”).

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