my coworker keeps trying to film me for silly videos and won’t take no for an answer

A reader writes:

I’ve been employed with my current company for over seven years now, but was promoted three years ago. My promotion required a shift change, and with the shift change came working with different people, most of whom I had only communicated with through emails previously.

This has become an issue with a member of upper management/human resources who is never without a camera or a video recorder. She will literally pop into my office with the video camera running and start asking me to do silly things like say “Arrgh” for talk like a pirate day. I am uncomfortable with being on camera or having my picture taken, and having it forced on me is worse. She is very extroverted, and when it comes to performing or having my picture taken, I am introverted.

I asked her to stop and was met with a sarcastic “really?” I replied that I was serious and I did not like it. This has not stopped her from coming in with a camera and recording me or taking my picture other times. Her supervisor makes comments about the excessive camera use, but still laughs at it. I know it’s all in fun, they show the videos at staff meetings, but for me it’s not fun at all. Asking her to stop doesn’t seem to help, and it doesn’t appear her boss cares that much either. I don’t want to come across as the “downer” but how can I make it perfectly clear that I do not want to take part in the video’s and pictures?

Ugh, that’s incredibly obnoxious and I don’t blame you for hating it. It’s compounded by the fact when you tried to opt out, she ignored you. It’s one thing to be oblivious to the fact that not everyone loves appearing on camera; it’s far worse to keep pushing after someone has made it clear to you that they want you to stop.

Anyway, go talk to her at a time that she doesn’t have a camera in her hand and say this: “Jane, I know you take photos and video around the office a lot. I’m really not comfortable appearing on camera, and I want to ask you not to push me to participate in that. I know some people really enjoy being filmed; I’m not one of them. Can we agree that you’ll leave me out in the future?”

The tone you want here isn’t pissed off; it’s calm, sincere, and a little concerned. Some people feel more comfortable saying something like this if they’re also a little self-deprecating about it (“I know I’m weird about it, but it’s just a thing with me”) so if that makes you more comfortable, that’s fine too.

If she laughs it off or mocks the request, stay calm and sincere: “Oh, I’m really not joking. I need you to stop photographing and filming me.”

If this doesn’t work, it’s not unreasonable to talk to her manager. I’d sure as hell want to know if someone on my staff was hassling someone like this after explicitly being told to stop. It’s hard to imagine her manager is going to tell you, “No, you just need to suck it up in the interest of playing silly videos at staff meetings.”

But if that doesn’t work, then you might just need to deal with it in the moment when she tries it in the future. That would mean that when she approaches with a camera, you say, “I’m sorry, I’m on deadline right now and can’t stop what I’m doing” … and/or “I’ve told you not to film me” … and/or get up and leave your desk.

And for the record, she sucks.

{ 355 comments… read them below }

  1. fposte*

    Definitely agreeing on the “she sucks.” We’ve taken candid in-house video sometimes, and we indicate in advance that opt-outs are honored, and we accommodate requests to minimize face-showing or whatever.

    I’m also thinking that if the OP does need to go back to her manager to shut this down and the manager waffles the equivalent of “No, you just need to suck it up in the interest of playing silly videos at staff meetings,” it’s effective to articulate what priorities are really being laid out here. “I’d like to think the company supports employees’ being able to get their work done and treat colleagues respectfully over entertainments–can we find a way to make that happen?”

      1. fposte*

        In case it’s not clear, by “candid” I mean “unrehearsed,” not “sprung on you out of the blue.” It’s a way to show our process, which we get asked about frequently, to our distant customers and the field generally, as well as to prospective students for our program who are interested in the area we’re working in.

        1. Arbynka*

          When I first read candid camera I thought of Jamie Kennedy experiment where the boss invited employee to the meeting room and told him they traded him to another company for twelve thousand dollars and some office furniture. It was both horrible and hillarious at the same time. I still feel guilty for laughing at it.

  2. SJP*

    Oh god, this just seems so lame. Who actually would want to do this, and then worse.. show it at team meetings. Do people actually laugh at this type of stuff…?

    1. maggie*

      Only to keep their job, aka “Oh..uh…hahaha, boss that suuure was funny” said with fake but scared smiles plastered on the rest of the audience’s faces.

      Seriously, you are NOT the Office — why is this a thing?

      1. LawBee*

        The more references I see to The Office, the happier I am that I never watched it. I think my embarrassment squick would be on high alert.

        1. Formica Dinette*

          That’s why I didn’t get into the show. That kind of thing just isn’t funny to me. I swear I have a decent sense of humor, though!

            1. Vicki*

              Same here. Spouse and I prefer television that doesn’t insult our intelligence. We don’t want to be made fools of; why would we think it’s funny to make fools of people for “entertainment”?

          1. Anonsie*

            Same. I get tense and embarrassed myself.

            I watched a lot of it anyway on Netflix and just skipped the Michael Scott parts :x

        2. AGirlCalledFriday*

          It’s supposed to be squicky though! You wouldn’t be a decent person if you didn’t cringe sometimes. Still, very worth a watch.

    2. Busy*

      I’m a company that has a start-up feel to it (sort of creative, non traditional industry). We film stuff all.the.time. For the website, for our customers, for staff meetings, you name it. In this industry, it’d be weird if we didn’t do that kind of stuff. That said, it’s understood that not everyone wants to participate in it, and we definitely don’t make people participate who don’t want to! Honestly, I’m one of them — I hate it, but I sort of get forced into it because I’m the head of a department. I suck that up as something that comes with the territory/position, but I would never make my team do it if they told me they didn’t want to. Maybe talking to the manager like Alison suggested would help. If talking to camera-happy’s manager doesn’t work, at least go to yours and let her know what you tried to do to fix it and how they didn’t listen. If your manager is anything like me, I’d put a stop to it so fast heads would spin.

    3. Elsajeni*

      I work at a university, and our communications/marketing people will sometimes set up a video station and film groups of students and staff with a prompt like “Hey, dance to this song for 10 seconds!” or “Hey, answer this question in one sentence!”, then compile them, and they really do make charming videos (and great promotional material for the school); I imagine that’s the kind of thing the OP’s coworker is trying to achieve. But what makes ours work is that 1) they’re completely opt-in, 2) they’re rare and usually associated with a special event like graduation, and 3) they’re drawing the people they’re filming from a large enough population that the same people aren’t always getting asked to do it.

    4. NewishAnon*

      At last company they do an annual department movie. They male up some story line, usually with a lot of inside jokes relating to work processes or managers, and get people to act in it in funny costumes. A lot of directors participate and it’s fun to see them dressed up in something like an long night shirt with floppy cap or cracking jokes about themselves. They schedule an event for the whole building to come see it (several hundred people) and send it out by email for non-local employees as well. It’s usually about an hour long they serve popcorn, candy and drinks too. It’s a big ordeal and it’s so popular they often have to schedule a second showing for people who were out of the office that day. It’s a real good time.

      That said, only people who want to participate are in it. No one is forced or even filmed unexpectedly. I’m the kind of person who hates being on film so I’d never do this. But yes, some people like it and it’s fun to watch when the people filmed are into it.

  3. Tiffy the Fed... Contractor*

    This is so strange. I get wanting to film family, but film coworkers…? This is so unprofessional. And weird. This should have been a supplemental WTF Wednesday post.

    1. jag*

      Whether or not it is unprofessional depends on why they are being filmed. There are legitimate business reasons to want to film people at work in an organizations. See Busy’s comment above.

  4. BRR*

    I think it’s key to ask her to stop it in the future. Not just voice your preference but making sure she acknowledges it.

    A last resort, and this is just covering all options but not me necessarily endorsing, is the laws in your state regarding how much consent is needed to record.

    1. Vicki*

      I want to emphasize this sentence from AAM’s response: “Can we agree that you’ll leave me out in the future?”

      She often suggests something similar “What do we need to do to make this happen?”

      These are important sentences.

  5. AdAgencyChick*

    If she’s high-ranking enough that you can’t make her stop through pressure from her boss, I vote for following the adage, “Never be good at anything you don’t want to do.” Give her such boring, uninspiring footage that she won’t want to film you any more.

    1. ActionableResearcher*

      Agreed, I’d take it one step further though (similar to celebrities when they don’t want to be photographed/filmed by paparazzi), and hold my hand or notebook in front of my face. Then just continue the broken record approach and repeatedly tell her “Jane, I’ve spoken to you about this several times now, please do not film or photograph me. I am quite serious.”
      If she continually doesn’t get useable footage from you, she’ll eventually avoid you.
      BTW, this is beyond obnoxious, do not let her try to convince you otherwise.

      1. Apollo Warbucks*

        I wouldn’t necessarily make a big show of not wanting to be filmed, I can just imagine the person doing the filming thinking its funny and showing the footage of the op hiding behind a notebook trying to avoid being filmed to embarrass them.

        I agree with ThursdaysGeek’s comment below that no reaction at all to the camera is the best course of action, if the filming isn’t stopped, as it should be.

        1. aebhel*

          I think saying ‘Please leave me alone, I don’t like being filmed’ on camera is good. I wouldn’t hold up a notebook or my hand because the kind of person who does this sort of obnoxious crap often finds that sort of thing funny.

      2. NoPantsFridays*

        This. Cover your face with a notebook/binder. A classmate in college would constantly try to take pictures and video of me (and everyone else), and I held a notebook in front of my face. I also had a professor who insisted on taking pictures of the entire class, and I did the same thing. As far as I know, there are no pictures of me on the internet.

        1. NoPantsFridays*

          And it was with a minidisc video camera, so it was blatantly obvious what she was doing. She couldn’t pretend she was texting as one could with a smart phone.

          That was in college though, I can’t imagine someone doing this at work, it’s so juvenile and unprofessional. Even recent grads, college interns, high school students working over the summer, etc don’t do this.

        2. Arbynka*

          Oh this could escalate quickly with me. The possibilities are endless. Michael Myers mask. Rotting zombie mask. Any gruesome mask. Horror movie junkie here. I would have introduced her to my idea of fun ;)

          1. Bea W*

            My first thought was to use a paper bag – plain or decorated. There are just so many possibilities for masks and the creative usage of office supplies here.

          2. Anon Accountant*

            That’d be funny. I’d venture a guess she wouldn’t show that footage at a staff meeting.

    2. ThursdaysGeek*

      Yeah, don’t say anything, don’t acknowledge her, just keep working. Who wants to watch a boring video?

    3. Clever Name*

      Agree. I was going to suggest completely ignoring the camera and continuing to work. Bonus points if you can ask you coworker a really boring work question. “Oh hi Jane. How are things going with the TPS reports? Mmmmhmmm… I’m really slammed with a deadline, so can’t talk much now!” and then turn back to your computer or whatever you were doing and continue to work.

      1. LawBee*

        It would be good if OP could ask on camera if Annoying Coworker had completed a task she’d been assigned.

        “Say ARGH!”
        ::looks up:: “AC, did you return those phone calls you were assigned?”

        “Say WABBITS! It’s Wabbit Season!”
        ::looks up:: “AC, I’m glad you’re here. Let’s have a quick status check on your projects.”

        Of course, this would only work if OP had authority over AC. :/

        1. fposte*

          I think there are ways to make that work even in this situation, though, if the OP had a mind to. “Oh, since you’re here, can you explain the fee structure on the 401k? I was looking at the Prudential contract and it didn’t seem to break out the M&E fees. And I don’t get the way the company handles jury duty compensation–can you explain that? What happens if I’m called but not impaneled?” Etc., etc., etc. The upside is the OP might learn a lot of useful information about stuff at the same time.

        2. Bea W*

          Or you could go in a completely different direction… (not recommended, just purely for imaginary entertainment.)

          AC: Say ARGH!
          OP: ARGH! OMG what is that smell?! (make awful face) It smells like someone farted. AC did you FART?! That’s so gross!

            1. Bea W*

              Depends on the audience (I know! You’re all thinking who doesn’t think farts are hilarious?) I know people who would slink away and never film OP again.

      2. AdAgencyChick*

        PERFECT. I think this is better than saying “I don’t want to be filmed,” because OP’s letter indicates that this person does not take no for an answer. But two or three attempts that produce nothing but dull, boring footage of OP working, and this twit will soon have the idea that OP is too boring to bother filming.

    4. phillist*

      I came to suggest this very thing.

      Jane: Say “argh” like a pirate!
      You: *typing*
      Jane: Come on! Pirate day for company reason things!
      You: I’m sorry, did you need something? *even more typing*

      She may pout a little, but I have a feeling she would just move on to more interesting subjects.

  6. Natalie*

    If she persists even after you’ve tried this advice, I’d just say “no thanks” and keep working or walk away, depending on whether you feel you can keep working while studiously ignoring her.

    1. maggie*

      I’m actually worried that even if she negatively engages, this woman will take the footage and use it to rib her behavior, like it’s known that she’s a fuddy duddy (do people even say fuddy duddy anymore? Well, they should.)

      1. Natalie*

        See, I think if you can say “no thanks” in a cheerful, upbeat manner you just look like someone who doesn’t really care and isn’t giving this funny video thing another thought. And if this woman does start showing everyone footage of you typing because you’re *soooooooo boring*, it’s probably going to make the woman look worse than you. You’re just typing.

        1. fposte*

          I’m also liking this because a cheerful and upbeat “No, thanks!” (maybe with an added “Enjoy the video, though!”) removes the fun vs. not-fun polarization. You’re happy and typing and having a good time doing your own thing; you’re not engaged in reacting to her, and you don’t need to be coaxed into enjoyment because you’re already having a good time.

  7. Mike C.*

    The entitlement of someone like this just gets my goat. I’m not paid to be your dancing money, get out and let me do my job. If she doesn’t like it, she can build a bridge and get over it.

    1. Arbynka*

      I would take all of my self control not to smack the camera out of her hands. I really do not like taking pictures/being on film and if I ask you politely and you won’t stop I will not be amused to say the least. Sorry if I am bit rude today, we just lost our oldest cat this morning, she was seventeen and so sweet. I tend to have a shorter temper when I feel sad.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        So sorry to hear about your cat, Arbynka. Unfortunately, I’ve had to say this to a few friends lately: Just remember what a great life they had because of you.

    2. Camellia*

      “dancing money”?? I’m (pretty) sure this is a typo but it cracked me up! I needed that, thanks!

  8. hildi*

    How strange. I think there are a lot of people who tend to be more extroverted that still would NOT want this! So don’t feel bad, OP, like this is an extrovert/introvert thing. It’s a butthead thing.

    I know I wouldn’t be able to pull this off, but I wonder what effect it would have if she came in and told you to cluck like a chicken or whatever and you agreed. Then you look deadpan into the camera and say whatever professional, tempered thing you’re going to say to tell her to knock it off. I don’t necessarily think that’s the way to go on this one (I agree with Alison!), but I’d be curious to know if that would have any impact on her.

    1. fposte*

      I was all over this idea, actually, but then I thought–what if the videographer is into the power play enough that that footage would be used in the film for laughs?

      It’s just hard to know what’s going on in the brain of somebody who overrides clear requests like this.

      1. hildi*

        Yes, I thought of that, too, after I posted this!! I thought well maybe they’ll take whatever you give them and make fun of you. So I officially withdraw the suggestion :)

        And your last statement is so well put. I’m utterly fascinated by people who behave like this. I really want to know what’s going through her mind and what satisfaction she derives from this process. Is it the art of “creating” something? The fact that she gets to see people squirm? Being the “social coordinator” makes her feel important? I dunno, but I would love to know more.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I think that some people have a complete and utter blind spot about the fact that what’s fun for them may not be fun for someone else, and they immediately go to “oh come on, lighten up” in their mind as if that’s an acceptable response.

          1. hildi*

            I agree – and then I feel compelled to discover where that comes from. Like did they see that growing up? Were their parents jokesters or something? Have people just never pushed back to them about not wanting to go with their schemes? And maybe it’s just their DNA and really has no reason, like you said!

            1. fposte*

              I don’t even think it’s about liking joking–these are people who can’t understand how you couldn’t like [TV show], and they’re dying to teach you how to appreciate it, and they genuinely believe that people who like anchovies are putting it on, because they’re so obviously inedible. They just don’t get that people have different responses than they do.

              [Disclosure: I don’t like anchovies, but I fully believe other people do.]

            2. SJP*

              Anyone else get the vibe that this women has watched too much of “The Office” and is trying to make like mini episodes like this in your office…

          2. Bend & Snap*

            “lighten up” is so condescending and disrespectful in ANY context. I don’t know why people think it’s okay to say.

            1. A Teacher*

              It reminds me when someone tells me “smile” if I’m in the mood to smile I’ll smile, I don’t need someone else to tell me that.

              1. Arbynka*

                People learn very quickly not to tell me that. Apparently I don’t do very nice fake smile. I swear the lady at DMV took a step back when she saw it.

            2. Hlyssande*

              That’s one of the phrases I hate the most. My mom always used it on me growing up when I was angry/frustrated/venting about something.

              Nowadays, I’m instantly angry when I hear that phrase because it was used on me for perfectly normal teen angst/frustration/acting out.

              1. Youth Services Librarian*

                My mom tried to feed me Vitamin B when I was a teen. Someone had told her it made you more cheerful. It didn’t work.

    2. Alistair*

      This could be the answer. Develop a script you can use every time about how you don’t want to be filmed (others have already made some good ones) and every time she pops in with the camera, look directly at it, say your script, and get back to work.

      Do it every time, no changes or exceptions, and hopefully she’ll knock it off for good.

  9. Interviewer*

    I think after the 800th time being filmed for something zany, I would have to be completely and totally amazed. “You mean, they pay you to put together great videos ? How much time do you think you spend doing these videos every month? Is anyone helping you with the editing and presenting? How many people do you usually film? Do you film a lot of people while they’re on break, or is everyone working like me? Do you ever do several takes, if it’s not quite right? Have you ever organized rehearsal sessions for big groups of people while they’re at work?” Like, just keep asking questions, being really eager and keenly interested in the answers, and keep probing until you hit that guilty spot. You will NEVER see her again.

    1. ThursdaysGeek*

      “So, if people are working on deadline and you interrupt them so they miss the deadline, that’s ok? Has that happened? Or do you just break their train of thought and put them a bit behind? What does that cost the company anyway?”

      If you ask the right questions, she may film you, but it will never make it to the showing in front of other people.

      1. Interviewer*

        “Do you ever film people while they’re meeting with clients? What if they’re on the phone with a client? Is that okay?”

      2. Bea W*

        “Is there any truth to the rumours we’re being sold to Company X and everyone will be laid off?”

  10. JMegan*

    I think ignoring her is the best option. Just say no, then turn back to your desk and keep working. Or if you can’t focus on real work while she’s hovering over you with a camera (who could?), then you could open up a Word doc and just start typing your grocery list or whatever random words come to mind, just so it looks like you’re working.

    Also, I think some advice often given to parents may apply in this case – the behaviour may escalate before it stops. So when you say no, she’ll probably do a bit of “Oh, come on, please? Just for a minute? Just for fun? All the cool kids are doing it!” Which means you’ll have to ignore her even harder while she’s doing that – whatever you do, don’t give in. Just look at your computer and keep typing until she goes away. If you give in after six “pleases”, then she’ll start to think that’s part of the game, and it’s so cute that you’re pretending not to want to be on film but you’ll give in if she pesters you enough.

    So, as hard as it may be, just ignore, ignore, ignore. Eventually she’ll figure out that you’re no fun, and leave you alone.

  11. Ann Furthermore*

    Ugh, that would really be awful. You have my sympathies, OP. Some people enjoy having their picture taken and being filmed, and some people don’t. And that’s OK, either way.

    Last year, someone suggested me as a candidate to be featured in my employer’s ethics program. This involved being photographed (by an actual photographer, not just someone with a cell phone) and interviewed by someone from the ethics office. There were 2 possibilities. Either the feature (with my interview and photo) would be company’s ethics page, which I was OK with. The other option, which I found much more horrifying, was that my picture and a comment from my interview would be featured on an ethics poster, which would be displayed in EVERY facility around the world. OMG. Since someone thought enough of me to suggest that I was a good example of an ethical person, I didn’t really feel like I could say no.

    I’ve spent the last year dreading that I’m going to walk into the office one day and see my picture staring back at me. This all happened last year at the end of February. I’m hoping if a year goes by and I don’t end up on a poster, then I’ll be in the clear.

    1. Newsie*

      Ugh… cringe. I would hate that. Diversity council asked for me to be part of a company-wide diversity presentation that would appear in every office. Yeah… no – I had the same concerns you did about rejecting when people thought I was a good example. So instead, I said “Thank you very much for considering me as a good example of diversity at [company.] Unfortunately, I just don’t feel comfortable speaking on camera! I’ll have to decline participation. Good luck in filming this campaign!” And they seemed nice in response, I suppose.

      Still – I bit my nails when I hit send on that one.

  12. Editor*

    This makes me irrationally angry. I would be tempted to take the person’s phone and march right down to HR.

      1. Adam*

        I usually try not to make sweeping judgments about a person because they have one really annoying habit, but I can’t help wondering if an HR rep is THIS repetitively intrusive and dismissive with this camera crap, exactly how good is she at the rest of her job?

        1. Kyrielle*

          It depends on her role, though. For a while (years ago, thank heavens) our HR department included a “director of morale” who ran contests, put together the employee recognition programs (thank goodness we no longer have that one – I don’t need to be allowed to pick tacky costume jewelry or a mini crockpot because I did a good job, thanks), had offices organize get-togethers (company funded), etc. There were, in fact, video contests – but luckily they were “form a team, create a video on X topic under Y requirements, and submit it, winning team splits a prize”. Which is sort of sad in a professional workplace, IMO, that has nothing to do with artistic or video pursuits, but at least it was totally voluntary. I could so see the person who held that position while it existed doing this, and yes, technically she “was HR” but she didn’t handle -any- of the other HR functions (hiring/firing, payroll, benefits, etc. – those all went to other positions, which still exist).

          So you can be in HR, but not be _the_ HR, or even the “main” functions most of us think of as being in HR.

            1. Kyrielle*

              I could if it had been a standard, but it was a warm-only “sauce” crockpot.

              Which isn’t terrible, but…as a reward for going above and beyond, it feels a bit weak. ;)

      2. Editor*

        Ah, I missed that part. I’d still want to go over her head; there’s always someone above you.

        1. Editor*

          Different editor here. We’re going to have to diversify our names so we’re not both using the same handle. :)

    1. sunny-dee*

      I have to admit, I would be sorely tempted to yank it out of her hand it batter it to pieces. I wouldn’t — but I would want to.

  13. Adam*

    I HATE the way I sound on audio/video recordings, so this would drive me absolutely bonkers. My department at work recently decided we were going to make a five minute video to be used during new employee orientation to introduce new staff to what our work group does. And when I say “my department” I mean maybe two upper level managers who thought it’d would be cute to have staff chat on screen and try to do improv about their days and work life. Even more fun they thought the best time to shoot this would be during the week of Christmas.

    Unsurprisingly, just about everyone else seemed to hate the idea, but since my workplace is very passive-aggressive-non-confrontational we all just murmur irritably among ourselves.

  14. Z*

    I can’t believe these comments about entitlement and disrespect and whatnot. There are some letters on Ask A Manager where it’s mindbogglingly easy to read between the lines and see that it’s really the OP who is a pill and is probably not very fun or easy to work with. AAM’s advice is good because it gets the OP to handle things in a neutral, constructive manner rather than just sitting around being passive aggressive and probably even more annoying to co-workers. I guarantee you that this woman with the camera has probably only come by once or twice and OP has blown things way out of proportion, unless AAM has rephrased or paraphrased the original letter. When people go out of their way to mention that they are introverted, phrases like ‘I know it’s all in fun’, etc. just tip me off that OP is not someone I would want to be around at all. I wish more commenters were better at actually reading these letters and not just knee jerking to the letter-writer’s side.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Whoa, where are you getting that? I don’t see anything in the letter that indicates that and it seems like an awfully mean-spirited reading of the situation.

    2. Sam*

      …are you the camera person…? Because unless you are actually the person this letter is about, I don’t see how you’ve come to any of the above conclusions.

      1. Arbynka*

        That’s what I thought. BTW, just to say, I worked with quite a few introverted people and I love being around them.

    3. MJH*

      I would never go as far as you do with the assumptions on this particular letter, but there is definitely a feel to the comments on this site generally about hating to socialize at work, how annoying games or dinners or team-building events are, how annoying it is when coworkers do X, Y, Z and how *so* many things are not professional, etc. And that is fine, and it’s important to take others’ feelings into account. But sometimes everyone just seems kind of anti-fun.

      I enjoy offices where people socialize, talk about non-work related things, forward crazy emails, go out for happy hour, and make silly videos. (And I am an introvert! I just like being a part of stuff like this!)

      1. Arbynka*

        Hmmm. I never seen it that way but I can understand why it might came across like that. Personally, I am not againts fun but I am againts forcing others to participate in my idea of fun.

        1. BRR*

          I can also see how it comes across that way. I think it’s picking up on the differences.

          Having a work gathering with voluntary karaoke vs. forcing everybody to participate in karaoke and giving out awards for people who are not good at singing.

          Having a mutually enjoyed conversation with a coworker vs. having a coworker come by when you’re on a tight deadline and they aren’t picking up your hints to leave because you have work to do while they talk about their belly button lint for the 50th time.

          1. Bea W*

            I love karaoke and I hated the idea of the forced participation when I read that letter. Forcing people to have fun generally has the opposite effect. It’s not fun if it’s forced upon you!

            1. fposte*

              Though that was the letter where I made a case for the possibility that the OP might actually find it was okay, even though she didn’t want to do it. I do feel like that possibility gets a little underrepresented here sometimes–that we can experience the thing we dreaded and find it wasn’t as bad as we thought. Though we do hear that about writing cover letters :-).

              1. Bea W*

                I have that experience sometimes at the dentist (not as bad as I thought) but I wouldn’t call it “fun”. :D

                1. NoPantsFridays*

                  Yeah, exactly. I’m not a bad singer (or so I’ve been told by strangers on the internet, haha) so if my workplace had mandatory karaoke I’d probably attend. I’ve done karaoke before and didn’t hate it. However, there are hundreds of other things I’d rather be doing with that time. Not hating something / “It wasn’t terrible” is not the same as “it was fun”!

                2. fposte*

                  But the OP of that letter did end up having fun–I should have been clearer that that, rather than dentistry, was my point :-). I think it’s fine to validate the right to politely opt out of stuff; I agree wholeheartedly with doing that and think that the OP in this letter should be left the hell alone. But I think (and Totes talks about this a little at the bottom of this post, too) we sometimes talk as if it’s impossible to adapt to something we initially find offputting and find it valuable or rewarding. And I think that’s a really important possible growth too, and sometimes we risk not only catastrophizing but making it into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

        2. ArtsNerd*

          Yeah, I’d wager a guess that the majority of us are totally cool with silliness – but only when it is *optional* and doesn’t interfere with the core work that needs to get done.

          At OldJob some of our service employees got together and recorded a rap about their work and our products. The lead guy is a local rapper in the music scene, and they really pulled it off. It was effing HILARIOUS and we couldn’t get enough of it. That is good silliness.

          Had we decided that the entire staff needed to perform in a rap video as a team-building exercise, that would be something for AAM to tear apart – and rightly so.

        3. Janet*

          Yes. This. And I would add, some of us have family and other responsibilities and want to choose how we spend our time outside work. I definitely socialize with co-workers, but I do so during mutually agreed-upon times and would never pout or accuse someone of being no fun if s/he didn’t want to participate.

      2. tt*

        “Anti-fun” is a subjective term though, isn’t it? Just because you or I may like something, doesn’t mean everyone else does or should. That doesn’t necessarily make them “anti-fun.”

        1. Ethyl*

          Ugh yeah, sorry but none of the things MJH lists are “fun” for me. And I don’t assume that what I do for fun would be considered fun by others. If I was a manager, I wouldn’t make weekly downhill mountain biking a required “morale boosting” activity.

          1. Anna*

            But I think what MJH is picking up on is what sometimes comes off as a general lack of anything pleasant. So you like biking downhill, but that’s the only thing you think is fun? Nothing else? People sometimes comment that they NEVER socialize with people they work with or they HATE socializing with people they work with and I know I find that a little bizarre. Some of my closest friends are people I worked with at one time or another. People’s comments tend to sound like whenever someone brings up weekend activities, they sit there stony faced staring until the conversation moves on to work related topics.

            1. Bea W*

              Some people do (sit there stony faced waiting)! There’s nothing wrong with that. Different strokes and such. Just because someone doesn’t like socializing at work or with co-workers doesn’t mean they don’t socialize with anyone ever. I assume they prefer to socialize with other people in other places (or maybe they hate that too, and that’s okay) .

              When someone mentions “I like biking downhill.” That’s not an all inclusive statement about what they enjoy doing. It’s just an example of one thing they enjoy. Likewise when people say they don’t like activities, it’s not that they are saying “I hate everything!” (unless they are Grumpy Cat.)

              I run on the assumption everyone has something in life they enjoy whether they talk about it or not.

              1. Anna*

                Actually, I do think there’s something wrong with that. It sort of indicates you aren’t good at even the minimum level of politeness.

              2. fposte*

                Because they’re quiet and don’t talk about their weekends? That’s not impolite by any definition. It may not make them endearing to a more chatty circle, and that’s fine, but it’s not rude to be a listener in a conversation.

                1. Anna*

                  I think being stony faced and staring at someone until they get back on to work based subjects is not the barest minimum of politeness and pretty weird. Sorry, just how I would view it. Don’t want to have long chatty conversation, hey I get it. Stare at me when I ask how your weekend was? Really?

                2. ReanaZ*

                  I find I only resort to staring when people have repeated ignored my soft hints (short answers, polite redirects, etc.). And if I’m just staring at you as you ask me about my weekend and you aren’t taking the hint to stop asking me, that’s not the height of politeness either.

                  (For the record, I like to chat with coworkers. I like a small amount of chitchat and camaraderie, and I do have coworkers who have turned into good friends. But I also have had boundary pushing and ignoring coworkers who wouldn’t take a conversational hint. If people are stonewalling your “polite” attempts at communication, you probably should take a hint.)

      3. Ask a Manager* Post author

        This seems to be one of the few places on the internet where it’s commonly acknowledged (and, ahem, highlighted by the blog author, who feels strongly about it) that it’s totally fine not to want to socialize/play games/whatever while still being possible to be a normal, pleasant, and even amusing person and excellent at your job. So I think it feels like it gets discussed a lot more here because there’s such a lack of it in other places.

        1. Myrin*

          That’s what I was thinking. While I do understand where the abovementioned perception of the comments here comes from, I absolutely believe that is because here people feel comfortable voicing how they don’t like socialising at work whereas they’d be too shy (or whatever) to do so on other sites.

        2. Windchime*

          I am perfectly pleasant at work. I like to go out to lunch with coworkers and I like to see pictures of peoples pets and kids. But I am being paid to work and produce results, and I can’t do that if I’m standing around laughing and yakking and filming people all day long. So a few minutes of socializing? Great, bring it on. But I would honestly feel guilty if I was spending hours of each day goofing around and making videos of people who don’t want to be video’d. And it’s not an “introvert/extrovert” thing; it’s a “responsible adult who gets paid to do work” thing.

      4. Kyrielle*

        I love photography. I’m kind of fond of video. I take photos all the time. During office parties, I take photos of my coworkers.

        And I ask first, and if someone doesn’t want their photo taken, I don’t take their photo. I don’t need to in order to have fun, and no one else needs it to happen.

        There’s no reason _not_ to do silly videos as described with the people who consent to them. There’s also no reason to force anyone.

        And if someone came up and wanted me to do something that completely ridiculous – and totally scripted by them – I would be annoyed. And if they interrupted my work and caused me to lose my train of thought, I’d be really annoyed.

        Conversely, if she sent out an email saying “Hey, ‘talk like a pirate day’ is coming up! It’s on Saturday this year, so can we celebrate in the office on Friday? I’ll be coming around mid-morning with my video camera for anyone who’d like to say ‘arrr Matey!’ or ham it up a bit.” – I might well decide to take part. If I was busy or in the middle of something, I’d either decline or ask if she could stop by again in 5-10 minutes, but as long as it was respected, so what? (Heck, I like Talk Like a Pirate day. With advance warning, I might have a pirate hat, eye patch, and stuffed parrot ready to apply. But again, if I was ambushed and/or was working on something I needed to focus on, I would decline – and I would expect my declining to be respected.)

        1. fposte*

          I really like the process you’ve described here, and maybe the OP could even suggest it. It’s just as fun for the people who are already on board, and it gets readier participation from the rest. (And if it means you get fewer people doing it, that’s a sign that they just weren’t that into it in the first place and only did it because they got ambushed.)

      5. Helka*

        That’s cool that you like being part of stuff like this. But I think what you should take away from your observation is not that this site in particular is filled with unfun workaholics, but that there many people out there who don’t share your view of what’s fun at work. An office environment shouldn’t be “fun for some people, discomfort for others.”

        1. fposte*

          I don’t know if I agree with that as an overall statement, though. I’m not sure that “fun for everybody” is a workplace goal anyway, because it’s work. And workplaces really do get to set their own cultures and expect employees to adapt to them, and that includes nerf gun battles. That doesn’t mean you can’t try to opt out if it’s not your thing (and the situation in this particular post doesn’t seem to be a company culture thing, just an incidental tendency), but I don’t think an office is obliged to create an environment suitable to employees of various tastes. There’s a Billfold piece up right now about somebody who found it tough to work at Amazon as a person who really didn’t like dogs, for instance, in a building where having dogs in most of the offices was a big thing. And I understand that’s difficult, but I also think Amazon gets to say that they’re about having dogs in the office.

      6. Beebs*

        To be fair, I don’t think Alison receives many letters that say “my office environment is so fun and awesome, and I love every minute of it, what do I do?” People have varying versions of fun and enjoyment, and that is ok.

        1. Natalie*

          That’s the AAM blog in the Lego Movie universe. Everything is awesome… everything is cool when you’re part of a team!

      7. fposte*

        I think “definite feel” is about the takeaway rather than any genuine polling, though. As Alison notes, this is fairly unusual as a place where people who don’t like stuff can say so, so a few people often excitedly bounce off each other at having found agreement for once, and most people aren’t posting to disagree with it, so it seems like a more widespread conviction that it really is.

        1. Elsajeni*

          Plus, threads like that tend to attract a bunch of additions — one person mentions a workplace “fun” activity they dislike (or a workplace gift they wouldn’t want, or…), and a string of other people say “Oh, you know what’s even worse? MY least favorite thing, which is…”, and you come away thinking “Jeez, everybody hates everything” when a more accurate summary of that thread would be “Every ‘fun’ thing will be disliked by at least one person on this earth.”

          1. fposte*

            Oh, that’s a good point! To the reader it can feel like a cumulative list when posters didn’t mean it that way.

      8. LBK*

        People on AAM are only “anti-fun” if you use a narrowly defined Jim Carrey-esque definition of “fun”. I don’t know when as a society we decided this would be the only acceptable definition but it’s really annoying. Want to know what I find fun? Sitting silently on my couch with my cat binge watching The Wire for 6 hours. That is an absolute blast to me. I’m getting excited just thinking about doing that this weekend. So if my company wants to organize a sponsored TV-watching night, I’m totally down, but if we’re going to be playing charades in front of the whole department instead I’m going to emphatically pass.

        Seriously, I’m so sick of “fun” comprising only being goofy and silly in front of others, especially others that I may not have particularly close relationships with. That doesn’t mean I don’t socialize with my coworkers, talk about our lives, trade funny emails or occasionally go out for a drink. Those things don’t in any way preclude me from opting out of other things I don’t find enjoyable.

          1. tt*

            I’ve never seen The Wire, but can I watch TV with you?!

            I love to scrapbook. Some people I know think it is the most ridiculous waste of time ever. I don’t try to talk them into it. You want to play with paper, and I’ll be perfectly thrilled to bring in my supplies and share, but you want a nerf-gun war, and I’m going to hide in the bathroom!

        1. Kyrielle*


          For me, it would be: Hanging out with my camera in nature, taking photos – a hike, the Japanese Garden, the local park. Playing Monopoly or Thunderstone. Curling up in a warm cozy spot with a mug of tea and a book. Listening to music, eyes closed, no agenda in the world, just the music. Or maybe coloring in an artsy coloring book or page while listening to the music. Petting cats (or cooing over kittens and luring them with toys). Making my nails all glittery.

          Not, say, bowling, laser tag, rock climbing, goofy videos, etc.

          My coworkers are awesome. Some of them like things I don’t! Some of them (most of them) like at least some things I do. Sometimes we hang out together. Often we talk casually. There’s a board game night after work sometimes, and some of the guys bowl together. All of this is great. In part because all of it is optional, and to comfort level, and generally no one seems to mind the differing comfort levels. We’re all there to work, and after that, we’re human beings and try to respect each other’s differences and still have fun. :)

          …also, it’s my birthday weekend, I’m off work until Tuesday due to some vacation time, and I think I just started this with a whole list of things I now want to do! lol

          1. ThursdaysGeek*

            Happy Birthday! My spouse’s birthday is Saturday, but we’re celebrating on Sunday because we’re taking a ton of teens skiing on Saturday. I’d rather have a normal weekend with time for my chores — no, I’d rather have time to curl up with a cat and a movie, but a packed weekend will be fun too. I hope yours is even better.

            1. Kyrielle*

              Happy birthday to your spouse, and I hope the weekend goes well and is indeed fun!

              Thank you! :)

        2. Anna*

          I think you’re missing what’s being said. Acting silly or goofy is not what MJH is referring to, at least how I read it. I think often people inadvertently come off as…incapable of enjoying ANY social interaction with coworkers or only “fun” in a very proscriptive, incredibly narrow definition. “You may pick something moderately enjoyable from column A or B, but only if it passes rigorous ‘Is this fun’ tests.” And weirdly enough that test is proctored only by the person who has the narrow definition of what is fun at the workplace. I don’t act silly or goofy at work, because it’s not my milieu. But I’m willing to give things a try, or participate in a way I feel comfortable because it’s a way to be part of the event.

        3. bkanon*

          Hand me a book of logic puzzles or clear a table so I can put down a jigsaw puzzle, and yes! I’m there and I’m having FUN. Singing, dancing, being on video? NOT FUN. So yeah, I agree. There’s a lot of different kinds of fun, and I’d be thrilled to participate in a board game socialization night. Went out with co-workers to a quiz bowl/trivia night at a bar many years ago, and *that* was a good night out for me.

      9. Observer*

        Actually, it seems to me that attitudes that produce comments like the one we’re responding to that drive much of what you refer to. “I’m introverted” and “I know it’s all in fun” are signs that a person is not someone you would want to be around? Really? Although I enjoy socializing in the office with my workmates, I would hate to be forced to socialize with Z, or anyone with a similar attitude.

    4. hildi*

      I can see what you mean about the comments sometimes getting a little dramatic. I kind of dropped away from reading for a while because I was struggling to get through all of the outrage over particular topics. So now I just skim the comments on those particular posts because I think this is a pretty safe and healthy place to debate those issues, but they just inflame my brain so I lay low on those. Perhaps that’s something you’d consider for those topics that start talking about introvert/extrovert?

      One other thing I think is important to keep in mind: We only have the OP’s perspective on the situation (which can you imainge how much more amazing this site would be if we were able to get the other party’s point of view for each letter that was written. Now that would be a conversation). So all we get is what OP says and we of course have to keep in mind that their experience is filtered through their own bias and judgments. And sometimes that comes off as a little annoying, unsavory, overreacting, etc. to some of the readers. That’s why I like the posts where OP comes back and fills in more information. That almost always changes the trajectory of conversation because we have more context now. That’s everything when you’re having a discussion about a person’s perceptions.

      1. fposte*

        I think it’s an internet tendency generally, too; AAM is milder than a lot of places on the righteous indignation tip, and she herself is less inclined to it than the some commentators (as she just noted on the wannabe Mafioso post).

        I think also it’s sometimes a way to be supportive of the OP, as in this case. Same as with my friends who will support my venting over stuff that just frosts me even if it’s not objectively that big a deal. Most of us know what it’s like to be really irritated in the office :-).

        1. hildi*

          Yeah, I can’t even read stuff on any other site than this. Because here at least we have a thoughtful debate, analysis, and sharing perspective. That’s why I wouldn’t condemn it here when it gets a little over the top for my personal preference (which is why it’s my job to back out, not the entire commentariat (is that word you used one time, fposte? I loved it) to clean up its act. That’s Alison’s job and she does an admirable job at keeping a balance of expression but calling out the really unhelpful stuff); but I don’t condemn when the comments do get a little dramatic because that’s what we’re supposed to do here and the vast, vast majority of us do it respectfully.

          You’re right about doing it to the support the OP, too. It feels good to have your views vindicated, which is why people write in. And then there are the times where OP doesn’t get vindicated, and the readers here try to help them see that. Which I think is why this site is so damn successful.

        2. Arbynka*

          Yes. Many times while reading something I can relate to I am liable to project my own irritation into the subject.

          1. hildi*

            and then it just has a compounding effect when everyone else is doing that, which is totally understandable. That makes sense.

            1. fposte*

              I also think there’s a genuine weather effect; even though we come from all over, I do feel like we get a little crankier when North America hits real winter.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                I just checked the two times that the comments got cranky enough that I’ve felt compelled to do a post calling for civility: February (2012) and March (2014). Very interesting.

                1. Kyrielle*

                  Makes sense! I would guess a relative majority of your readers are from the US or Europe, all of which is “enjoying” winter: shorter days, less light, colder weather. Less light can impact people’s moods; so can the weather; going out is generally less attractive to most, and in some areas simply less *possible* sometimes.

                  Which means that not only are people perhaps less their chipper summer selves (and I say that tongue in cheek, as I have allergies and don’t do well in heat, but I am not most people), but they have more time to be on the internet, and less to do that looks more inviting than replying – one last time, really – to something they perhaps know they really ought to drop.

                  Not, um, that I find myself doing that on some sites or anything…..

      2. SJP*

        Thing is though MJH, people who are totally happy at work, and their colleageus aren’t going to be writing in for advise on stuff. So of course it’s going to seem like people not liking their coworkers or whatever cause they’re the ones they need to ask help from Allison!
        A LOT of people work with really obnoxious asses, so I get why some people write in and ask how to deal with this stuff in an adult way, and without exploding into a rant or whatever with the coworker they don’t get on with.
        We all don’t get on with some people in life, thats just the way it is, least these people are writing in to get decent answers so as to avoid making some annoying coworker being butthurt!

        1. Ann without an e*

          To add to your point some people (me) are working in very toxic environments, and this site is a place of refuge where we don’t have to feel sooooo alone. Sometimes its just a good place to vent and get a little bit of sympathy from people that can identify with your problems. In other cases its a good place to get advice on similar situations so you can handle things gracefully from the beginning.

          Also in the case that one of us totally miss handled a difficult situation we can use that experience to guide others in what we wish we had done and then hope to read a, “thank you to you and your readers for the great advice” follow up post.

    5. Lily in NYC*

      Wow, in one comment you managed to read minds, accuse Alison of changing the letter, and then told us we are a bunch of dummies who can’t understand letters.

    6. Art*

      I am the OP. You can “guarantee” all you like, however you are inferring a lot in my letter that is not actually there, or insinuated. I have written as “introverted vs extroverted” because, to me, that’s a large part of it. I do not like being on camera. I do not like speaking in front of people. I don’t like that my picture is on the website several times, and I don’t like being in the video’s at meetings. There are many people here who DO like that, they like acting things out and being the center of attention. I feel there is a disconnect between people who like to be the center of attention and those who don’t. I often find more extroverted people don’t understand those of us who are more introverted when it comes to pictures, video’s, etc. I don’t recall putting an amount of times she has come in to my office, nor have I counted. I can “guarantee” you that it’s been more than a couple of times, and less than 100 times. The only person I have mentioned my specific discomfort to has been my immediate supervisor. It’s all good, I wouldn’t want to be around someone who has such a negative knee jerk reaction to a couple of paragraphs any how.

      1. Brigitte*

        Hi Art – I wasn’t going to comment on this in your post, because it feels very beside the point. But you’ve strengthened your position here. Please don’t make this an extrovert/introvert issue. There are lots of extroverts (myself included) who also don’t like speaking in front of people or being in videos at meetings. Just like there are lots of folks in Hollywood who are introverted.

        As an extrovert, I would find this behavior disruptive, and I’d be mortified to be in your situation.

            1. Muriel Heslop*

              This. I am a revoltingly social extrovert who loves public strangers, performing, and talking with strangers. I would NEVER put a camera in someone’s face without asking their permission and would immediately respect that they didn’t want to be on camera. It’s about boundaries, not about being extroverted or introverted.

        1. Rita*

          Yes, thank you. I don’t think this is an extrovert/introvert thing at all. It’s about different comfort levels.

      2. Zillah*

        I don’t like that my picture is on the website several times

        I’m not sure if you said this in the original letter or if I just missed it, or if this is the first time you’ve said it – but yikes. Putting someone’s photo up like this is something I feel really strongly about, especially as someone who had to grapple with some (hopefully?) low-level internet stalking from an ex many years ago. There are a lot of reasons why someone might not want their picture up online, and not respecting that is really messed up, especially in this context.

      3. Kathryn*

        Add me to the list of extroverts who would not welcome in the least this level of recording tomfoolery.

        I don’t think this is introvert/extrovert, I think it’s about respecting boundaries. I really don’t have anything nice to say about someone who continues a harassing behavior after they have been asked to stop. At best, they are being a clueless jerk.

      4. Observer*

        I have to agree with the others. I’m not an introvert by any means, but I’d be horrified by what you are describing. I look terrible on camera and I’m not good with goofy type stuff (except to some extent when a goo-goo-ga-ga-ing with babies and playing with toddlers.) I’ve even asked our receptionist to record my phone greeting once. (She was really nice about – and she had a GREAT phone voice. It’s a shame that was a couple of phone system versions ago.)

      5. Omne*

        Don’t know how comfortable you would be doing this but in the past when this type of thing happened where I work I would passively refuse to participate. Basically I would look up at the camera with a slightly bemused/mildly puzzled expression and then say absolutely nothing, regardless of what the camera person said. I would keep the expression and possibly blink a couple of times. They lost interest very quickly. Then I would go back to work.

    7. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      I don’t think it’s wrong to accept the OP’s version of events, since that’s all we have. But nitpicking and accusing the OP of being no fun is a good way to have no more letters, because it’s horrible to write a letter and have dozens of people calling you any number of cruel things.

    8. Bend & Snap*

      “I wish more commenters were better at actually reading these letters and not just knee jerking to the letter-writer’s side.”

      This made me laugh. The majority of AAM sucks at reading letters? OK.

    9. LawBee*

      One week, AAM commenters are being fussed at because we blame the letter writer too much, the next week we’re fussed at because obviously the OP is a pill and we’re not blaming her enough.

      Z, my dude, Alison doesn’t edit the letters. They are posted as she receives them, typos and all. And continuing to do something after being explicitly asked not to is definitely a matter of respect. Your “I guarantee you blah blah” statement is pretty much pointless, as there’s no way to prove it right or wrong.

      Chillax, as the kids say.

      Sincerely, an extrovert who also would be really annoyed at this behavior.

      1. sunny-dee*

        I thought (and I could be mistaken) that Allison did do light editing for typos? Not changing anything, just fixing misspellings and things.

    10. alma*

      Even if OP is the biggest no-fun-having pill in the world, she deserves to have her very reasonable boundaries respected.

      I wish more commenters were better at actually reading these letters and not just knee jerking to the letter-writer’s side.

      This is just straight up rude, condescending and uncalled for.

    11. fposte*

      I think you’re making a bit of the error you’re suggesting other people make, though; you’re suggesting that you’re “reading the letter” whereas people who have a different take aren’t, so you’ve got your own lens that colors your take too, and you’re avoiding the neutral ground you’re applauding Alison for. You’re not a pill for thinking that being videoed isn’t a big deal, and the OP isn’t a pill for not wanting to be videoed.

    12. Serin*

      “And everyone who’s worth working with loves wearing the little paper hats I make for them! If they say otherwise, they’re just funnin’.”

    13. HigherEd Admin*

      Let’s say for one second that you’re right and this has only happened once or twice and the OP is what you might call a “pill.” The problem is that that the OP may or may not be a fun-hater (which I don’t believe s/he is), but that OP has explained a disinterest and a dislike of being involved in this particular non-essential, non-work activity and that the HR person has completed disregarded OP’s feelings and request. This would be problematic in any scenario. You don’t get to override someone else’s comfort just because you think we’re all just “having fun.” If someone asks to be left out of something that’s not a required function of their job, I don’t understand why that person’s wishes don’t get to be respected.

    14. aebhel*

      I wish commenters were better at reading my bizarre paranoid suspicions into letters instead of assuming that OP’s are reasonable people who are telling the truth.

      Fixed that for you.

      Some people don’t like to be filmed. It’s not a cause of great sturm und drang unless you’re the sort of person who can’t tolerate other people not enjoying everything you enjoy. It sounds like that’s the amateur videographer’s problem. It also kind of sounds like it’s yours. People here don’t think she’s obnoxious because she’s filming; they think she’s obnoxious because she’s doing something totally unnecessary that obviously makes her coworker uncomfortable for no better reason than the lulz.

    15. A Teacher*

      Holy WOW! that’s a lot of trying to read a lot of people’s minds off of the internet that you don’t actually know. As a semi-regular commenter but someone that reads daily, I don’t always agree with what people post but sometimes it just gives me a different perspective. I can tell you the letters on here and the comments section have been really valuable to this career education teacher.

      The OP may have lots of reasons for not wanting to be filmed–simply not wanting to be filmed is enough. Some people also don’t understand that “no” means “no” not “no means yes.” We usually take the letter writer’s take as being truthful and giving them the benefit of the doubt, not sure why you aren’t doing this but holy knee jerk reaction on your part.

    16. Chinook*

      DH has had to deal with a person who reapeatedly want to take his picture “just in fun” at a private event so she could post it on Facebook. He repeatedly told her no and she kept saying it was in fun, bugged him about being shy and told him to loosen up, etc. and he kept trying to have her back off neutrally. Eventually he told her no uncertain terms that, because his job in the military specifically bans him from posting his image on the internet for security reasons, if she insisted on taking his picture, he would remove the camera from her possession and delete it from the machine. He was military intelligence and knew exactly what could be done with said photo on the internet. She backed off and sulked her way to other guys in uniform who were more than happy to comply

      As I said, sometimes there are deeper issues when people say no that they don’t want to go into and no one else needs to know. What about a victim hiding from her abuser? By posting their image in the context of where they work, you have left a small arrow pointing to her location for certain parts of the day, putting her and her workplace at risk.

      Or she could just not like having my picture taken unless she was given enough warning so she can come to work wearing matte makeup instead of mineral (which gives horrible shine in photos) because she cares about my professional image.

      1. Anna*

        I think that’s a little excessive, and different when you’re on a military base. The chances are slim that any of us will run into a person in military intelligence at our offices. If someone doesn’t want their photo taken, which is completely fair, it’s probably an easier argument to make that they just don’t enjoy it and the picture taker should respect that than arguing they may have a high level top secret job and that’s why you should respect their boundaries. How about just respect their request to not have their photo taken and not worry so much about the WHY of it?

        1. Observer*

          I totally agree with your last sentence.

          But I think Chinook makes a good point. While it’s unlikely that your going to run into a person in military security at a party, there are a lot if unexpected and uncommon reasons why someone might even have a need to not have their picture taken, or taken in a certain context. And, these are reasons that people probably don’t want to talk about for good reasons. That’s not THE reason to respect a person’s desire not to have their picture taken. But it is an ADDITIONAL factor.

    17. Mike C.*

      Why don’t you actually bother to directly respond to someone rather than leaving this sort of comment just floating out there? Why aren’t you interested in having an actual discussion?

      1. LBK*

        Frustratingly, I find this happens frequently with really jarring comments like this. The people that leave them almost never seem to come back to discuss further.

        1. Arbynka*

          I thought they called this seagulling on other board ( you know drop in once and leave) but now I googled it and Wikipedia has a quite different meaning for seagulling.

          1. fposte*

            I’m guessing you really mean Urban Dictionary, and I think I’m not going to look :-).

            (I did see “seagulling” mentioned here for managers or colleagues who do that, though.)

          1. fposte*

            On more incendiary topics (which I don’t think this was) we do sometimes get posters that I think aren’t regular readers and found the discussion via Google or interested mention. Like anything involving lactation.

            1. Natalie*

              Pantyhose. Still reining as the only closed comments, as far as I know.

              (Hopefully this isn’t like a Candyman situation where I’ve now summoned the pantyhose weirdos.)

              1. Anonsie*

                And for what it’s worth, IME this is far and away one of the most incendiary topics possible when it comes up anywhere on the internet or in person. Which, considering the ways people online get riled up, is a pretty spectacular achievement.

    18. Observer*

      You hit a raw nerve here, I can see. I haven’t read all of the conversation that you’ve sparked, so I may be repeating what others have said. But here are some things you need to realize.

      The first time you come to someone and ask them to do something extracurricular, it’s no big deal. But if they tell you “No.” “I don’t want to do this” “Please don’t ask me again.” then that’s the end of it. Even asking a second time is inappropriate. So, even if the coworker has only asked once or twice after being told no, it IS a problem. Not respecting “no” is a HUGE issue.

      People don’t come to work to amuse you. There is no need to be a “fun” co-worker. There IS a need to be respectful and tolerant -which means accepting no the FIRST time it’s offered. There is also a need to be polite and cooperative on work related / required activities. Those the things that make a person easy to work with and it’s their lack that make people hard to work with. Fun has no bearing on the issue. And, if you are the one who is so focused on fun that it makes you disrespectful and intolerant, then it’s not surprising that you find them difficult to work with. A lot of people don’t work well with people who are fundamentally disrespectful of them.

  15. HM in Atlanta*

    This reeks of an HR person reading an article about culture at ‘cutting edge company’, where they mention people filming each other. AAAAND, then doing whatever was mentioned in the article without thought to how it will actually play out in her company’s culture.

    This kind of crap is why, when people ask what I do, I talk about coaching managers and business strategy (and never use the dreaded “HR”).

    1. Adam*

      Yep. This is right up there with spontaneous Nerf gun battles and employee break room with a ping pong table. If people like it and are on board with these off beat work environments, cool. But continually subjecting the “Not interested, thank you” people to it is a surefire formula for office strife.

    2. Christian Troy*

      Those were my thoughts as well when I read this. I could just feel my eyes rolling that this person probably thought they were doing an awesome and fun trendy thing without realizing how it was starting to cross the line into huge annoyance.

      1. fposte*

        Though to a lot of the people there it is an awesome and fun thing–she’s not wrong about that, she’s just wrong about everybody feeling that way.

      2. Anna*

        I can’t understand why she’s so insistent. It doesn’t reflect poorly on anyone if the OP doesn’t want to be photographed or videoed being silly. NOBODY WILL NOTICE. It’s such a weird thing to get bent out of shape about.

        1. fposte*

          I know, right? But sometimes I think people like this are locked into that mode you see where people need to be begged to do stuff they really want to do–maybe this is the long-term consequence of every friend who said “No, I look hideous!” and really meant “Tell me I look beautiful twice more and take the picture” and said “I can’t possibly have dessert!” and meant “Please insist I do several times so that I may.”

          Which is yet another reason why I wish people wouldn’t do that.

  16. HR Manager*

    Yeah, crazy rude lady. If being direct with her doesn’t seem to click, I’d also bring it to her manager’s attention and let her manager know that you’ve tried to address this with her, but she doesn’t take your requests seriously. Ask her manager what she thinks the best approach is to make her understand that you do not want to appear on camera.

  17. Ann O'Nemity*

    I wonder how much upper management supports these videos. Are these “fun” videos generally accepted as part of the quirky cultures of the company? I bet that in some companies, unwillingness to participate could be construed as not being a team player or not fitting the company culture.

    1. JMegan*

      On re-reading, I see that the Camera Lady actually IS in upper management, as well as HR. Yeesh.

      OP, you have all my sympathies!

    2. Adam*

      It is weird the things that management will let slide. My direct manager has to go these team meetings I’m not a part of (thank God), and he tells me that the Admin Assistant added an “icebreaker” section to the beginning of every meeting where they go around and list off one random factoid about themselves based on whatever the question of the week is: “What TV show are you into right now?”, “Where did you grow up?”, etc.

      This is a weekly meeting and they do this icebreaker routine. Every. Single. Time. These people all work together. Some of them have for years, so this chit chat is beyond pointless. And since everyone has to go it can take 30 minutes or more sometimes. (Did I mention this meeting is usually on Monday morning?) My manager has gotten in the habit of purposely showing up late to avoid the nonsense, and I frankly don’t blame him.

      1. tt*

        That sounds beyond painful, to do it every week. Is the Admin in charge of these meetings, because I don’t understand how she’d be allowed to just implement this herself, if she’s not in charge.

        1. Adam*

          I think she organizes them and takes notes, but she’s not a staff member with any measure of authority. I could make all sorts of assumptions based on the general makeup of the department, but that would be total speculation on my part. The only thing I can say with certain is that in general people hate confrontation in this office, and will avoid it at practically all costs, including inane meeting practices.

          1. AGirlCalledFriday*

            Can I just say that this non-confrontational thing really gets to me? I understand that some people don’t want to get involved with some things, but what I have seen happen all too often is that those who are willing to stand up for what they believe is right get no support and are in fact shamed for ‘starting things’, making them unlikely to make waves in the future. And in the meantime, everyone gets walked all over.

            I really can’t understand the mentality of people who prioritize their own comfort over the well-being of all concerned. Burying heads in the sand is not how positive change is made.

            1. Mander*

              “…people who prioritize their own comfort over the well-being of all concerned. Burying heads in the sand is not how positive change is made.”

              Pretty much sums up world politics, including workplace politics! ;-)

      2. OldAdmin*

        The icebreaker game is one of many highly painful classic starter activities for SCRUM meetings (read up on it, it’s a mixture of process management and pop psychology = “activate your right brain” etc.).
        I have been attending SCRUM meetings for years, and have endured every mindnumbingly childish game ever invented for SCRUM: “what tree/car/country are you”, playing with story cards, arranging logo dice and telling a story from them, picking picture, having unwanted pictures taken, touchyfeely group games with extremely shy nerds (that did not go down well), standup arrangement of people, throwing balls around, building straw towers, drawing logos on bits of paper… the list goes on forever.
        The waste of manpower and time is horrendous. The upside is I have learned to plaster a fake smile on face, and to tune out completely, mechanically (and successfully) complying. So much for “activating my right brain”.
        Did I mention these SCRUM people never, ever take No for answer, and will harass everyone during the meeting for as long as it takes to enforce participation?

  18. HHunter*

    Am I the only one who read this and immediately had flashbacks to Pam on the early seasons of Archer….?

  19. The Cosmic Avenger*

    We do videos on our corporate intranet, but people are asked, they can opt out, and they’re asked to talk for a couple of minutes about a topic of their choice. This is just inane. Just play some damned YouTube clips if you want amusing video to “liven up” your staff meetings.

  20. beachlover*

    Oh Heck NO!!! When I was growing up, my oldest brother was a Photography major. I was constantly being asked to pose etc. When I was very small it didn’t bother me, but after a certain point, you could not get me to pose and in almost every family picture, I am crying. To this day, you will rarely get a picture of me. The minute she popped into my office, it would be “please don’t video me” and if she persisted, I would ask her to leave , and turn away from the camera. She would find it very hard to get me on video without my hand up in front of my face.

  21. CNW*

    I completely agree with Alison’s advice – make it clear that you are uncomfortable and that you expect the behavior to stop. I would then speak with my manager – not hers, just to inform them of the situation.

    Sidenote – I’m bit surprised that people find the video recordings so abnormal? I mean with Youtube, Instagram, Facebook, and camera phones it’s not really that strange to record people. This happens at my job – short clips shown at department meetings, etc. and its a conservative Fortune 100 company. BUT, consent is always requested for those involved, no one is forced by rude, pushy camera people. Maybe that’s the difference.

    1. tt*

      I see your point about the increased regularity of it, but it’s really not the norm in some work environments, or even personal circles. No one in my friends/family videos people, even at social events. There’s definitely some picture taking, but pretty much by request/agreement – it’s not an intrusive, in-your-face kind of demand. On the rare occasion that happens, I do cover my face or turn away.

    2. Kathryn*

      In my work culture, videos would be extremely abnormal, typically they are formal affairs out of marketing with some pretty formal consent practices. Photography can be more casual, but even then, it’s very limited and done with explicit consent.

      In my social circles, photography is a bit more prevalent, but consent of the photographed is really highly regarded. Taking, or worse yet, posting or sharing pictures of people without their permission will get you disinvited to most of my social circles and events. It’s Just Not Done. (Some of that is that we have a number of serious photographers who take model consent seriously. Some is that the group has a number of people who work in various parts of security. I think most of it is that my friends aren’t jerks and don’t get anything out of forcing people to do things they don’t want to.)

    3. Observer*

      I don’t think anyone has ever photographed anyone in my office outside of fairly scripted situations, such as a site visit by dignitaries or representatives of funders with photogenic clients. I don’t think it’s happened even at our office lunches where we do do “fun” type activities.

      I don’t think we are unusual. The point being that taking photos and videos AT WORK is probably not all that typical, especially not by people who just want to have some fun and doing spontaneous videos.

  22. Well*

    If this person is HR, I would think you can easily address this in a way that will get her to back off by speaking in the language of HR. Find some time to talk with her directly and say something like this:

    Hey, [XYZ]. I know you’re really committed about creating these videos. I think it’s awesome that you’re so enthusiastic about them, and I love the celebration of the staff we’ve got here. But I wanted to let you know that I really am uncomfortable being recorded. I don’t want to be a spoilsport – like I said, I love that you go above and beyond to create them, and I bet there are folks who love it when they’re in those videos – but that’s not me. I’m serious when I say that it’s making me uncomfortable. One of the things I like about the culture at [our company] is that we’re generally pretty good about recognizing employees in ways they appreciate.* Can you honor that spirit by not recording me?

    [Obviously if you feel like this is a baldfaced lie, don’t say it, but even if it’s stretching the truth I’d say something like this, as it will help to reframe the way she thinks your refusal. It’s presumably part of HER JOB RESPONSIBILITIES as HR to foster a culture at the office where everybody feels welcome, and she’s failing at that every time she puts a camcorder in your face.]

    1. fposte*

      “It’s presumably part of HER JOB RESPONSIBILITIES as HR to foster a culture at the office where everybody feels welcome”

      Is that part of most HR departments’ responsibilities? I’m not being snarky, but that sounds more like a psychological goal than I’ve heard from HR.

        1. fposte*

          Yeah, to me HR is more about benefits and compliance and such. I don’t even know that every company or org would agree that being welcoming to everybody is a priority–that sounds more like a goal for their treatment of clients and customers. But I know it get can pretty variable out there.

          1. Well*

            Sure, HR includes that stuff too. I’m not suggesting that this person spends her entire day sitting around thinking about organizational culture. But I think most organizations have – at least in theory – a commitment to making employees feel welcome/valued/etc, and while that responsibility is generally carried by managers for their direct reports, HR is often tasked with handling that in a broad way.

            Obviously the reality varies widely. But the ongoing “let’s videotape our staff and show the clips at the start of staff meeting! it’ll be cute and different and hip and energizing!” strikes me as exactly the kind of misguided morale- and team-building crap that I’ve seen HR departments try in the past.

      1. Well*

        The job descriptions I’ve seen for HR usually include a line to that effect or similar. (The first description that came up when I googled “HR Generalist” included “the HRG will be a catalyst for cultural advancement of the organization by consistently modeling a positive attitude, cooperative team spirit, and high integrity” which is the kind of thing I’m talking about.)

        At every organization I’ve ever worked at, HR has owned things like diversity/inclusion initiatives, the planning and execution of org-wide morale-building outings/activities, inculcating the organizational values, etc. as part of their talent management function. I think framing this through that lens (I assume that’s how she sees/justifies the video creation in the first place, right?) will make it a lot harder for her to dismiss it as the OP being a no-fun spoilsport.

      2. jag*

        It is certainly part of some HR departments’ responsibilities, particularly in large organizations with many professional or skilled staff. Not sure about “most” though.

    2. NinaK*

      yep. just about to post something very similar …. I would take Allison’s advice but start with “I think it is great you put so much effort into adding a few laughs to our staff meeting. Taking the video must take away from your other responsibilities so thanks for doing it.”

      Also, maybe you could you offer something in lieu of being taped … like wearing an eye patch and shoulder parrot to the staff meeting on pirate day?

    3. LBK*

      I think this varies heavily by company. I’ve never interacted with anyone in HR in any way since being hired 3 years ago. I don’t think I’ve even received any kind of company-wide communications from them. At my office any kind of department-wide culture would fall to people within our department.

      I’d guess the situation you describe would be more common at smaller companies that may have only one or two HR people that work closely with all other employees and are responsible for things like company activities and day-to-day culture setting. In my office that’s handled by the executive admin, our marketing team and our management.

    4. Adonday Veeah*

      “…speaking in the language of HR…”

      See, here’s the problem with that, Well. As an HR person I can tell you that anyone who is that tone deaf does NOT speak HR and never will. They can barely speak “rational Human.” Whistling in the wind, my friend.

  23. Chinook*

    OP – has the photographer been clear about how she is using these images? Are they guaranteed for internal company use only or does she post them on the internet (with or without editing). Is she isuing her personal tech or is it company owned (and thus a little more controlled). What happens to the images if she leaves teh company – does she get to take them with her? There are very legit reasons for not wanting your image (especially tagged with your name and/or place of business) loose on the internet. Unless you are a public figure, I would think you have every right to tell someone “no pictures” and expect them to respect that.

    1. Busy*

      In some states you’re required to get someone’s written permission to use the images outside the company… It might be worth looking into.

      1. Alma*

        Alison, would this be a “blanket coverage” for opting out of video and pictures? After having an intentional discussion with the HR film bug, the OP could draft a letter to the effect of “as we discussed on X date, I request that my image not be used in any any way with out my written consent. This includes images taken before this date, in-office publications or films, or materials that will be made public.”

        I would then have this placed in your employment file.

          1. fposte*

            I suspect it’s up to the employer’s policy, but I think we’re getting into pretty refined areas of law that is likely out of the wheelhouse of most of us here.

            And of course they can legally fire an employee who doesn’t want to be in images–not that I think it’s that important to anybody at the OP’s workplace for that to be relevant, but it’s not like the workplace just has to say “Oh, okay, never mind.”

            1. Cannot be found.*

              I think employers should have a policy, a reviewable policy given out before starting a job about photos, images, videos etc. because I would opt out at the start, or I would consider very carefully if it were the job for me. I have had things like this sprung on me and I really didn’t appreciate it.

              Because speaking of legally firing employees, if I were in the position that Art the OP was in, I would let the company know that if my wishes to not be filmed could not be respected (after repeatedly asking that it stop as in the instance of the OP) they could feel free to seek my replacement, because I would soon be on my way out.

              As someone who has been stalked in the past, and had to take great measures to “disappear “on the internet, I don’t need to be found because someone took and put up my photo without my consent. I am sure if they really wanted to they could find me, fortunately this stalker isn’t too tech savy or has lost interest, because I haven’t heard from them in years, and would like to keep it that way.

              Sorry also if I am rudely pre-empting anyone, but I never bring it up to management. I have in the past, and been treated dismissively or worse harrassed over it. I have learned to keep quiet, because most of the time I want to keep my job.

  24. Pucksmuse*

    I think the key here would be to make yourself as uninteresting as possible. You ignore the fact that she’s holding a camera and keep working. And when she tries to get you to yell like a pirate or whatever, you say, “No, thanks, I’m good.” in a light, polite tone, while still working. Just keep working.

    What’s she going to do? Get mad at you because you’re working? And if she does, say, “Just I’m clear, here. You’re upset with me for not letting you interrupt my work and continuing to be productive?”

    1. AdAgencyChick*

      I was just going to come back and say that “No, thank you” is an excellent response. This coworker clearly does not stop with “no,” but might be nonplussed by “thank you” enough to walk away and then wonder, “What just happened?”

  25. Isabelle*

    At first I couldn’t understand how the colleague was allowed to shove a camcorder in OP’s face because in several European countries, filming colleagues at work isn’t possible without the consent of the people being filmed. This would be a breach of the data protection act.
    The workplace isn’t considered a public area, where anyone is free to film and take pictures.

    1. Natalie*

      I’m not sure entirely sure how workplaces are viewed in the US (it might depend on the type of workplace, i.e. public store vs small office with no visitors), but at my company IIRC I had to sign something acknowledging that I might be filmed or photographed and used in company documents, on the website, etc. I believe my college had a similar sheet, although there I definitely remember being allowed to opt in or out.

    2. JAL*

      That’s how I am pretty sure it works in the United States. If you have a reasonable expectation of privacy in a location, it’s illegal without the person’s consent, especially if it is being published.

      1. fposte*

        I doubt you’re considered to have a reasonable expectation of privacy from your employer at your workstation, though.

        1. JAL*

          This is directly from my employee handbook:

          “Employees are prohibited from having any form of
          recording or photography device in the workplace and
          from recording or photographing fellow employees in the
          workplace or during working time. Violations of this
          policy may result in discipline (including the possibility of
          discharge), immediate removal of the recording device
          and/or the employee from the workplace, and retention
          of the recording device for inspection by the company
          and/or legal authorities.”

          1. fposte*

            Which is 1) a policy rather than a law and 2) about employees non-work actions. It doesn’t mean HR can’t take pictures of people for the website; it means you can’t whip out your phone to take funny pictures of your colleagues during meetings.

            1. JAL*

              I don’t know what sector the OP works in, but in most professions other than a select few, it looks unprofessional to have a ton of pictures of the employees on their website too. If you’re in a certain field, you should be able to expect that level of privacy and professionalism.

              1. fposte*

                But expectation doesn’t get you anywhere but confirmed or disappointed–it doesn’t give the OP any more or less right to opt out. If the OP’s at a company where this happens, that’s the norm there.

                1. JAL*

                  Then I suggest she open her mouth and find people to ban together and get it to stop. It’s ridiculous. I have severe anxiety and if people were doing that to me, I would be raising hell because stuff like that makes me anxious.

                2. Anna*

                  Right, but that would be an accommodation for you, not necessarily something that create a blanket change in the policy. And I don’t think it’s just a “select few” where it would be all right to have tons of photos. The overarching culture of employed society is that we tend to like to see the actual people doing the actual work for the company, and not hired models sitting behind generic desks. I’m not sure the OP is talking about excessive photos all over the place, anyway.

        2. Anonsie*

          Considering plenty of American courts have ruled that upskirt photos and videos are legal because women in public have no right to expect such privacy, I’m inclined to agree.

  26. Malissa*

    “Hey Jane. Please quit taping me. I’m in the witness protection program and if this video get leaked online we all could be in danger.”
    “Hey Jane, I have a crazy ex-husband that I’m hiding from. I’d rather not risk my picture being out there too much.”

    There are real reasons why somebody wouldn’t want to be taped and Jane really needs to respect that.

      1. Arbynka*

        I agree. While I get the intent, lying about your life being in danger is not a good idea. It could backfire so bad. Plus, I just don’t think one should lie about such things.

      2. Malissa*

        That was a little tongue in cheek. But those are examples she could give that might make Jane think twice. Sometimes you have to draw a road map. I know this because I’m a person who occasionally needs that map drawn for me.

        1. fposte*

          I think you can say “What if…?” if you want to draw a road map, but lying isn’t a good way to do it.

        2. Chinook*

          As someone who has to deal with this because of DH’s job (was intelligence, now a cop), sometimes people just dont’ take the hint. Even as something as simple as a photo directory for my church led to difficult questions when people asked why my husband wasn’t in the photo with me (answer: because bad guys can read and he doesn’t want to identify his weakness). Luckily, others were satsified with he doesn’t want to be in it and were just wanting to verify that I knew he could be.

          Thos who have been blind to “no” being a full sentence need to be aware that what they see as innocent can cause harm to others.

          1. fposte*

            Sure, if it’s true. It would be true to say “Have you thought that some people might be hiding from abusive exes?” But saying you are when you’re not is a dubious act to me–it’s using somebody else’s life trauma to get out of saying a simple no for your own just reason, and what are you going to say if the videographer bursts into tears and says “Me too, and I’m so tired of the shelter”? “Oh, my bad, I was just joking”? It’s kind of like claiming to have a disability in order to make colleagues treat you the way you prefer.

    1. soitgoes*

      Well, people in witness protection don’t go around telling coworkers that they’re in witness protection, especially HR. This person already has boundary issues; do you really want to give her the impression that OP’s name and social security number aren’t real?

  27. Robin*

    Tell her you’re in the Witness Protection program and that the men in black might confiscate her phone.

  28. Juli G.*

    I think taking it to her manager is a solid idea. The manager sounds moderately irritated themself and hearing that it’s effecting others might spur them into action.

  29. JAL*

    If she is publishing these photos and videos without your consent, even on just Facebook or YouTube, I am pretty sure this is illegal. Unless you signed a waiver saying it is okay for your picture or video to be taken when you were employed, then it isn’t allowed. That’s how it works here in NY at least. (Correct me if I’m wrong).

        1. Zillah*

          Well, no – it has to be considered newsworthy if it’s being used for commercial or business purposes. Again, IANAL, but while these pictures/videos are being taken at work, I think that those guidelines are generally more about preventing businesses from profiting off using a person’s image without their consent and/or implying their endorsement of a product they haven’t endorsed. I’m not sure using the pictures/videos at staff meetings would qualify.

          Incidentally, it is absolutely not illegal to post those pictures of Facebook or Youtube – that’s not a commercial use, so your link would not apply.

          1. fposte*

            I am finding a general discussion that suggests it’s possibly a problem to use employee images on their employer’s website without their consent (though, as I state below, I think this is more a theoretical obstacle than one that matters in practice). I’ll post the link separately.

            1. JAL*

              Yes, but also I know from experience, if you threaten to get a lawyer on their case, it usually stops instantly.

              1. Zillah*

                In general? Sure, that’s probably true. But at work? I’m not sure I buy that threatening your employer with legal action is going to stop the photography in the way that you’d like.

                1. Zillah*

                  Okay… but just to clarify, while it might get “Jane” to stop taking pictures, threatening your employer with legal action is going to significantly degrade the relationship, which is not necessarily what the OP is looking for.

                2. fposte*

                  While I think threatening to get a lawyer can stop many things, but it doesn’t prove that they were illegal.

                3. jag*

                  “It probably would work actually. I’m done arguing this. Y’all are ridiculous”

                  Yes it probably would work. It would also probably do huge damage to your work environment. That is to say, Zillah was spot on – it might not stop in a way you’d like. It’ll stop, perhaps with you being forced out or a with a huge blow up of some sort.

          2. Chinook*

            “Incidentally, it is absolutely not illegal to post those pictures of Facebook or Youtube ”

            This is ironic because once something is posted on Facebook and Youtube, it is easier to share, tag and be used for metadata about an individual and there is no way for it to be removed. I think some people who do this dont’ realize it isn’t abotu copyright or money but about privacy.

  30. Phyr*

    If I was in the OP’s shoes I would start holding up a sign in front of my face that says something along the lines if “name, don’t you have a project you are supose to be working on?” While saying the same thing. This way the footage is completely useless. even if she tries cropping it it would draw attention to the sign and to the fact that she isn’t working.

  31. just laura*

    Person who apparently needs more work to do: “Talk like a pirate!”
    OP (with a nice tone and smile): “No comment.”
    PWANMWTD: “Do the YMCA!”
    OP: “No comment.”

  32. Allison*

    I’m in talent acquisition, and I totally get wanting to have fun videos on your website, and ideally viral YouTube videos that give people a sense of how much fun it is to work for your company. Companies really want to convince potential candidates that they have a genuine “work hard, play hard” atmosphere, and hey, everyone loves videos, so make some videos! But then they realize they need footage to make the office seem fun, and people aren’t exactly dancing around and being goofy *all* the time, so you either have to be in the right place at the right time to capture the magic, or stage a few things.

    Making these videos for staff meetings isn’t dissimilar, only you’re trying to re-convince people the office is a fun place to work after they’ve started to realize it’s just another boring office.

    But not everyone wants to be on camera. Some people just want to go on, do their work, and go home, and not be bothered about some silly video, and that needs to be respected.

    1. Sherm*

      Yeah, I applied for a job where “We work hard and we play hard” was written several times on their website. They seemed desperate to convey the impression that “WE’RE JUST SO FUN AND CRAZY! WE’RE THE COOL KIDS!” The field is actually known for its geeks and its introverts. There was one, obviously staged, video, in which employees were dancing in a shared office space. Many of them looked uncomfortable. It sapped my desired to work there. I love to joke and laugh, but I don’t want to dance with my anxiously strutting coworkers.

  33. jag*

    ” I am pretty sure this is illegal. ”

    Generally not true, at least in the US.

    In many places it’s illegal to use photos of people for commercial purposes – ie to help sell a product or service – without their consent.

    But it’s not illegal to use photos of people taken in a public place in a journalistic or educational or artistic way, even if your are selling your journalism. Offices are not public places, but if the action is sanctioned by the company, I’m extremely doubtful it is illegal.

    Note also that even where it is not OK to use photos without consent, the law won’t require a waiver – just consent. The waiver is an instrument the photographer uses to prove/record that consent was given.

    I’m not an attorney. I live in NY. I’m not certain the legal situation is the same for videos as for photos, but believe it is in most places.

    1. Zillah*

      IANAL either, but my understanding is that though the visual aspect of a video is protected the same way that photography is, the audio aspect may not be.

      1. Natalie*

        It depends on the state (one or two party consent) but I’m not sure if you have to do anything besides inform people that they are being recorded. Their continued participation is taken as consent, hence those alerts at the beginning of a phone call “this call is being recorded for quality assurance purposes”.

    2. JAL*

      It has to be considered “newsworthy” if you are being recorded, whether in photograph or video. This does not seem to be newsworthy at all. It’s embarrassing and defamatory.

      1. JAL*

        In other words, the determination on whether it is newsworthy or not is up to discretion of the judge. From the NY case law I have read, it can go either way.

        1. Zillah*

          Like I said above, you’re missing a really important piece of the legislation:

          To state a valid cause of action for violations of Section 50 and 51 of the New York Civil Rights Law, a plaintiff must allege that: (1) defendants used his or her image; (2) his or her image or likeness was used for commercial and business purposes (as opposed to being used in matters relating to legitimate public interest); and (3) that the use of his or her image was unauthorized without plaintiff’s consent.

          (Emphasis mine.)

          That’s a really, really important distinction.

          1. Zillah*

            (From your link above.)

            Now, I’m not convinced that it is entirely legal for the HR rep to be posting the OP’s picture on the website without their consent, and it’s certainly rude and inconsiderate. However, I think you’re really overstating what the law is in New York – by your logic, it would also be illegal for pretty much anyone in NYS to post pictures of their friends on Facebook.

      2. fposte*

        I don’t think that’s the simple test even in New York, though; it’s perfectly legal to have security cameras in stores there, for instance, and it’s legal to have open cameras in your workplace and even secret video surveillance in permitted areas. The issue is when you can publish without the consent of the subject. The thing is, it’s perfectly legal to fire an employee for being unwilling to give consent, and as people note it’s not uncommon in workplaces for employees to sign a blanket “yes, you get to use pictures of me” waiver from the get-go; it’s also unlikely that there’s much in the way of damages in a situation like this, so it’d be tough to find a lawyer and it would probably cost you more than you’d get.

        So while I agree in theory that it’s possible the employer is crossing a legal line by posting a picture of the OP on the website, I’m not sure it really gets her very far. This really isn’t the kind of situation that the law was created to redress.

        1. JAL*

          Even if it’s not illegal, most companies have strict policies about recording on property, with the exceptions of sectors like social services or non-profits who generally work with the public. Again, general expectation of privacy.

          1. Zillah*

            But you don’t really have a general expectation of privacy at work – we’ve talked about that here many times.

    3. Student*

      Unions often have rules about filming their members on the job without their knowledge and consent. This is a useful angle I used to persuade my boss to not put up cameras to monitor me in a lab, once. Told the boss that the unionized craftspeople might not do any work for us if they were monitored on a camera without their input. He backed way off.

        1. fposte*

          Nobody said you were insane–you’re kind of having a hyperbolic day here, between you being insane and us being ridiculous :-). We pointed out that what you were quoting to support claims of illegality didn’t do that. Nobody said that meant *nothing* could forbid it, just that what you were citing didn’t.

          1. JAL*

            Lol, I’m kind of being irrational today. I have a herniated disc and I’m at a pain level of a 12 out of 10 (that is not a hyperbole, it’s really that bad) and sitting at work has not been helping. I’m just proud of myself that I made production today.

            1. fposte*

              Hey, I’m still recovering from a laminectomy and partial diskectomy, so I know what you’re talking about. Nerves do not fool around.

              1. JAL*

                I took a sick day tomorrow so I can figure out this crap. My pain has not been this severe since I got my last pain injection. They think I’m going to need at least a microdisectomy and referred me to a surgeon at my appointment today. I’m 20-something. I’m too young and too early in my career to be in debilitating pain.

                1. Zillah*

                  As another 20-something with far more health problems than seems fair for someone my age, huge huge sympathies. :( I hope it gets worked out.

  34. BadPlanning*

    Is there anything confidential around your office that you could use as a reason that surprise filming/photos are not cool? Not to say Coworker is trying to steal information — but if she takes a video when you have some sort of sensitive or confidential information sitting around or frequently up on your computer and she replays bits of it for friends for fun…suddenly information is being shown to third parties.

  35. Pennalynn Lott*

    It’s amazing that someone who is in HR is doing this. That makes it even more obnoxious, in my opinion.

    I once had a camera-happy manager and I finally had to ask him if having my picture taken (and displayed at departmental meetings) was a condition of employment, because if it was then I would need to look for another job. He knocked it off after that.

  36. Student*

    It might both solve the OP’s problem and do something socially useful to use this as a diversity soapbox. In the places where I’ve worked, people who do this kind of thing tend to focus disproportionately on whatever they regard as photogenic. An awful lot of times, the film-maker decides that “photogenic” means white women, especially “classically” pretty, thin, dainty white women. It also often means people look for white men disproportionally, because they are often regarded as the default assumption for any film character.

    OP, if you either sincerely or insincerely point out to the camera-wielder that she is focusing a lot on YOU, depriving other co-workers of their time in the spotlight, maybe she’ll at least look elsewhere for material. If you get into a good harangue on diversity and the way people are portrayed in media, you’ll probably scare her off for good (and maybe also make her think some). There are a lot of ways you can go with this, no matter who you are. If you’re thin and white and female, go with the argument in paragraph 1 and complain about beauty standards for women. If you’re a white man, you go with a white-guys-are-overrepresented spiel. If you are anything other than a white woman or a white man, you can complain about how your demographic is being portrayed as the butt of a joke instead of being taken seriously. You can also make a convincing complaint about being targeted to be the butt of jokes if you happen to be overweight, regardless of skin color.

  37. Maureen P.*

    My company is trying to adopt “lean” practices, and they brought in a consultant who told us that we needed to take lots of videos (as in, hundreds) of our daily work, and the “lean” things we do to improve our daily work, and post them on YouTube for other people to learn from. As far as I know, no one has done this. Thank Jeebus.

    1. Anna*

      Having gone through lean training, this seems remarkably unlean. You’re expending a lot of energy on an activity that doesn’t directly improve the outcome.

      1. Anonsie*

        All of my experience with “lean” business practices are like this. “We’re trying to be lean so we’re going to have everyone do a week-long training on lean practices and followup trainings every time a process is changed and add a lot of documentation so we can see how lean we are and add meetings with lean consultants who will give feedback and have those consultants just interview everyone in the department individually to decide what the department should do next instead of the people in the department doing it and…”

  38. SaintPaulGal*

    I haven’t made it through all the comments yet, but I have to say I am surprised at the forcefulness of peoples reactions to Camera Lady. Maybe it is because OldJob was pretty into silly videos and the like, but…why exactly is this an issue to bring about such a staunch response? Privacy? As though the people in the staff meeting were unaware the LW worked there and now she is about to be outed?

    I get it, but I don’t *get it.* Look, I’m someone who hates to be photographed, let alone being videotaped. I’m not always super fond of how I look, and I am pretty sure basically every human alive hates the sound of their own recorded voice. But I realize that that is me being silly. Other people already know what I look and sound like–it’s not as though a video is somehow exposing me.

    If Camera Lady is legitimately interfering with your ability to do your work, address it like any other distraction. “I’m sorry, Jane, I have to submit this report by 4 so I can’t help with the video today.” Otherwise, a few photos or a video of you saying “arr!” seems like a pretty low price to pay to be seen as someone who participates in the team rather than a grouchy outsider. Not every single moment of your job is going to be spent doing things you independently adore–sometimes you have to un-jam the copier or say “arr!”

    1. soitgoes*

      When someone else is filming you, you’re forced to act how they want you to act. OP might not want this coworker to feel like she’s free to offer commentary on OP’s personality, demeanor, appearance, etc. It’s especially obnoxious if this “director vs. my actors” dynamic plays out socially in the office, and OP isn’t wrong to decline to participate in that. Someone who’s filming you is basically claiming the right to tell you what to do.

  39. Rae*

    As mentioned by other people, if these videos end up on a youtube account that has ads it is a commercial benefit and it’s illegal.

    1. JAL*

      I would also think any website that you get revenue from, directly or indirectly would count as commercial. If your business is selling products or services to customers, it’s probably commercial. The only way I see this not being illegal if it’s a non-profit or in the public sector.

      1. jag*

        ” The only way I see this not being illegal if it’s a non-profit or in the public sector.”

        No, non-commercial use can be done by for-profit companies too. For example, in posting on an intranet for employee morale or training. Or, as you’ve said, in reporting/journalism. Commerce is about sales/exchange- and noncommercial use is possible inside for-profit entities that are doing other noncommercial activities.

        Please stop with the over-the-top efforts to say this is illegal. It’s illegal in some circumstances, but not as many as you keep saying.

          1. ReanaZ*

            I mean, you can say whatever you like, just as we can continue saying you’re very clearly wrong and that we want you to stop.

  40. TotesMaGoats*

    I wanted to wait until a little bit of the furor had died down before I chummed the water again. There is no law, rule, regulation or policy that says that you will be comfortable with everything thing you do in life be it personal or professional. We have gotten to the point in society that anything that makes us uncomfortable, to any degree, is immediately labeled as wrong/bad and must be stopped.

    There will be times when at work you will be told to do things that make you uncomfortable. It could be giving a speech in front of a lot of people, presenting a high profile project at the last minute or something else that you normally wouldn’t do or wouldn’t want to do. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do it. In fact, I would say that unless it’s illegal or immoral, you probably should do it. There are a host of reasons why. It can help you grow personally (ie. learning to give speeches) or professionally (by being an active part of the team). And learning to be uncomfortable but still productive is a part of life, I think. I had to, at the last minute, lead a meeting of my entire department (50+ people) when my boss called in sick. Literally. She was stopping our conversation on the phone to yack. Yes. I had only been on the job for a little over year. Public speaking doesn’t bother me but I’d never lead a meeting like that and in 5 minutes she was filling me on 6 hours worth of information I had to handle. It was scary. I was very uncomfortable as several big bosses were popping in throughout the day. Talk about uncomfortable. Added to that some dynamics with fellow directors who’d been there longer but weren’t asked to lead the meeting. But I did it. Learned a lot about myself and other while doing it. Got good props from my boss for it. It was worth being uncomfortable.

    Would it be annoying to get constantly bombarded with those interruptions? Sure. And should she back off when asked? Absolutely. Would it kill you to find some way to play along every once in a while? No. This is one of those situations where you have to ask yourself if it’s a hill worth dying on.

    1. neverjaunty*

      Yeah, actually, it is. Because Camera co-worker is being an ass and refusing to respect OP’s politely-stated refusal. If instead the camera person were asking for permission FIRST, and trying to politely convince OP to play along? Way different.

      A lot of the contrarian responses here are reminding me of those stupid peer pressure videos we saw in school health class about underage drinking, where one kid is refusing to drink and all his friends are saying things like “Don’t be such a drag! It’ll be fun! Why can’t you let go just this once?” while shoving booze in the kid’s face.

      1. Laurel Gray*

        I agree with neverjaunty.

        Also, from the OP’s stance, I am guessing that being filmed regularly is NOT something she signed up for when she interviewed and took this job. I am a video-shy person who would be completely creeped out if someone continued to video record me after I have asked them to stop. I’ve confronted pervs in the streets about this and would definitely pull a coworker to the side and tell them to knock it off.

        1. tt*

          I’m with neverjaunty and Laurel Gray.

          I do make effort to do things in my life that are uncomfortable and challenging for me (particularly in the last couple of years), but that doesn’t mean I have to accept every uncomfortable activity that comes along. Taking a picture once, I could deal with. On a consistent basis, for no useful or productive reason? No. Asking me to pretend to be someone I’m not and act like a pirate or some other silly character, absolutely not.

      2. SaintPaulGal*

        But the booze in your parallel is harmful and the kid could face legal penalties for drinking it. This is more like forcing the kid to eat their peas. Some kids love peas and other kids hate them, but an authority figure (Camera Lady is in upper management) has every right to decide “people who live in my house eat their peas.”

        Should Camera Lady allow the OP to opt out? Absolutely she should. But the OP does not control Camera Lady, only his or her own reactions and behaviors. He or she has asked to be exempt, but apparently that request has gone nowhere. At this point it seems like far less effort, time, and angst to simply treat this as an unpleasant job duty like any other.

        1. neverjaunty*

          Seriously, this is such a terrible analogy that I don’t even know where to begin. The OP is a stubborn child who doesn’t understand that being forced to act silly is good for her, like eating peas, and the HR person is a mommy who has every right to ignore OP saying she doesn’t like it?

          The point of the peer pressure videos is that when people try to make you do something by shaming you and suggesting you have to cooperate by proving you’re a good friend, they’re the problem, not you.

          1. SaintPaulGal*

            I will admit it’s not a perfect analogy. I don’t think being silly is somehow good for the OP. (But in all fairness, the analogy I was responding to wasn’t either–underage drinking can have serious lifelong consequences, and we are talking about a few moments of exasperation here.) Let’s change it to “eat rye bread.” Rye is pretty divisive, and as far as I know it is not better for you than other forms of bread. Demanding that your charge eat rye bread if they dislike it is overbearing and obnoxious, but still the prerogative of the authority figure if they want to force the issue.

            In the end I think it comes down to whether this is a job task. In my opinion, all signs point to yes. The images and videos are used in an official capacity on the website and at meetings, and the person behind this initiative is in upper management. The OP has asked not to be included and has apparently been told that participation is mandatory. That says “job task” to me. Whether or not this SHOULD be a required part of the job is a completely different question, but it seems pretty clear to me that management has decided this is what they want.

            As a job task, this falls into the giant bucket of stuff people do at work that they dislike and/or that is a terrible idea. Employees can push back against such things, but at a certain point it is no useful to keep pushing back. At that point it is up to the employee to decide if whatever is being asked is so egregious that they want to move on or whether it is something they can live with

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Eh, I don’t think there are any signs it’s a job task. It seems to be the pet project of someone from HR, who doesn’t manage the OP. No one else seems to be especially gung-ho about it that we know of. It’s totally reasonable for the OP to assume she can opt out.

            2. Observer*

              Actually, I agree with Allison that this is probably NOT a job task. And while it probably wouldn’t kill the OP to be on these videos, the videographer’s behavior is rude and obnoxious. Even if it WERE a work task, it should have been handled differently. But it is not even that.

    2. Adonday Veeah*

      I am failing to see the comparison between being asked to step in to lead an important meeting (congrats, by the way — sounds like you were a hit and saved the day to boot) and having some yahoo stick a camera in your face and asking you to talk like a pirate.

    3. alma*

      <There is no law, rule, regulation or policy that says that you will be comfortable with everything thing you do in life be it personal or professional. We have gotten to the point in society that anything that makes us uncomfortable, to any degree, is immediately labeled as wrong/bad and must be stopped.

      Who in the world is demanding that the world make them comfortable at all times? Asking that a coworker observe a basic boundary, for a non-business-critical matter, is not equivalent to demanding a world of bubblegum and cuddles.

      Yeah, we are all going to have to deal with things we don’t like. But for some things we don’t like, “Hey, can you please stop doing X?” is actually a completely reasonable response.

      And if you’re engaged in something relatively frivolous (with all due respect to Talk Like a Pirate Day) and a person asks you to not involve them… why is it so hard to not involve them? Why is it even a question?

      1. soitgoes*

        Yeah, the idea that the person making the initial action is always right and that the re-actors have to always adjust doesn’t go very far before it makes me reaaaaaaaaaaaally uncomfortable. This comes down to:

        Person A likes to film people
        Person B likes to not be filmed.

        In this battle of wills that is driven by subjective WANTS of basically equal importance/value, I don’t think the desire to not be filmed is more egregious than anyone else’s desire to film people.

      2. neverjaunty*

        Seriously. Didn’t people used to excuse sexual harassment in the same way? Oh, who cares if the boss is a dirty old man, it doesn’t hurt you if he makes little jokes or checks out your butt? Besides, all the other female employees think it’s cute, why are you so uptight? If you don’t like it just put up with it, we don’t love everything about our jobs. Blah blah blah.

    4. Rae*

      There are always uncomfortable situations in work. One summer during college I walked into a convenience store looking for a job, was employed in minutes and the manager had to do a bank run three hours later. I’d never been in the store before that day. That was a crazy stretch, a challenge and poor management but one of the best things that happened as I did not disappoint. I eventually moved onto a “real job” but still, a great experience.

      This differs from something that is truly uncomfortable and potentially not safe like having to work at night alone after 9pm. Something that can be illegal if done wrong, just like video taping. Besides that, career goals can include things like security clearance that can be seriously effed up by being misrepresented. Not to mention domestic violence issues or simply wanting to set a good example for a teen about recording and online presence.

    5. TotesMaGoats*

      I knew most people would disagree but that’s the beauty of AAM and being able to share opinions.

      1. fposte*

        And as I note upthread, I agree with some of your underlying points. I think this post isn’t the best example for them, though, so I think they’re harder to make here than they might be in another discussion. So I’m going to wait :-).

      2. Anna*

        I’m kinda with you. It’s the same idea as the world being offensive. You are going to be offended. You are going to be asked to do things you don’t want. While I will do my best to respect your boundaries, I can only do so much to make sure you’re okay. The rest is entirely up to you.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Right, the rest IS entirely up to you. And that’s why the OP needs to say “no, thank you, I’m not interested in participating.” But then the coworker should respect that, no? And not keep pushing it since it’s not actually part of her job? I guess I’m confused by the point you’re arguing. You say you’ll do your best to respect someone’s boundaries, but that’s something the OP’s coworker is not doing and what people here have a problem with. No one here has argued that the coworker is outrageous for trying it in the first place; the issue is that she won’t stop even after being asked to.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Oh, ignore me. I was thinking your earlier comments were arguing a different aspect of this and then was confused when I put them all together in my head. Wrong person!

  41. soitgoes*

    Ugh, I hate stuff like this. Some people have legitimate reasons for leading very private lives, and if this coworker decides one day to upload these videos to the company website or facebook page, it could cause a lot of trouble for people who’ve worked hard to stay under the radar.

    tbh I hate “meet the staff” pages on company websites too. Please don’t put my name and photo on a site that would easily let certain unwelcome people know, with a quick google search, where they can find me during business hours.

  42. Elkay*

    Honestly, I think this is a situation where going to your boss (or her boss) and getting upset would work really well. Generally people don’t know what to do when you’re upset/distressed, they want the situation to stop because it makes them uncomfortable and I suspect the fear of an upset/distressed employee in their office more than once will get them moving.

  43. Amelia*

    Definitely not cool. People have also sorts of reason for not wanting to be filmed, regardless of if it’s for corporate public uses or just for the staff Intranet. We always respect the staff person’s wishes and that extends to staff events, profiles, retirement parties, etc.

    There is also the concern of who “owns” the images. Is it the company? Is the individual videographer? Where does all the extra footage go that isn’t used?

    1. soitgoes*

      The question of ownership is interesting. Depending on how often a company updates its website, the same main photos of “Look at us in a staged meeting on the one day we all planned to wear navy blue” could be up for years after those people no longer work for the company. Demanding compensation would be silly, but I wouldn’t be comfortable with being one of the “faces” of a company after I started working somewhere else.

      1. Joey*

        Here’s an interesting tidbit. Pictures of poor performers will never appear on my companies website. I suspect it’s the same everywhere else. My PR always checks with me on names before they use employees for marketing materials. Meaning, if I interviewed you for a job and saw your picture on your company’s website that’s instant positive reference.

  44. Joey*

    I hope you understand that there’s the possibility that you’re choosing to give up an opportunity that might impact your rep and indirectly your career path there. Are you okay with being labeled as “not a team player” or similar? Because many people would rather promote someone who is going to participate in culture type activities their company promotes.

    1. Anna*

      I think this concern is so unlikely, it’s not even actually a concern. Why should the OP do something they are clearly not comfortable doing just so they can be seen as a team player? It seems to me the definition of team player is someone who will do things they clearly do not want to do so that no one will think they’re not nice. I would much rather the person who enjoys doing these sorts of things participate as fully as they can (or want) and leave the person who doesn’t want to participate get a break. I would also prefer to be known as someone who respects my coworkers’ boundaries than someone who says Arrrgh on Talk Like a Pirate Day. And this is coming from someone who for several years participated in themed lunches with a small group of coworkers on Talk Like a Pirate Day. (We did not do silly videos, and they were not forced on anyone. An invitation went out to people and whoever wanted to showed up.)

      1. Joey*

        You’re kidding yourself if you think not playing along with these sorts of things doesn’t affect the way people judge you.

    2. C Average*

      I think you’re right, but I also think this reality is unfortunate and worth pushing back against.

      If everyone cheerfully goes along with some pointless, non-work-related thing that they hate just because A Person In Authority Said So, pointless non-work-related things catch on and stay around.

      If people who hate this stuff and don’t see any purpose to it politely push back and state their case, the idiots who push this stuff won’t be able to accurately say, “Oh, everyone loves this, it’s great for morale.”

      It’s fine to have a fun office where there are hijinks and goofiness, but it’s a lot healthier if the people who don’t dig that stuff can just quietly say “no thanks” and not be badgered about it.

      1. Anna*

        Oh I agree. There should be push back (gentle, non-confrontational push back). I just feel like being perceived as “not a team player” is most often used to get people to do things you think they should do or want to do, even if it makes them uncomfortable. It feels manipulative to me.

        1. Mander*

          +1 to this and to C Average.

          To me, “team player” means that I do things that support the organization (and the division that I work in) as a whole, rather than only looking to do things that benefit me directly or strictly sticking to my job description. It does not mean accepting everything I am presented with without question, regardless of whether it makes me feel uncomfortable, or agreeing to things that I think are foolish or detrimental to the organization as a whole.

          Good team morale includes respecting boundaries and preferences, and not hounding people over non-essential things that make them feel uncomfortable. If the dominant view at a workplace is that you have to take part in “extracurricular” things you are not comfortable with in order to be viewed as a team player, then I think that is a view that is worth challenging. Politely, of course.

  45. AcademiaNut*

    I’ve been filmed in a professional context – live streamed public talks, and the occasional interview for the news. I’m a science/tech type, so this isn’t a standard part of our job description, but it pops up occasionally as a voluntary opportunity for PR/public outreach, which is important when it comes to the whole taxpayers funding scientific research issue. I do it in part because I think it’s important for people to see women and other under-represented groups working in the physical sciences. My only stipulation is that I don’t have to watch the video afterwards, because I hate seeing myself in video.

    I’ve been videotaped in random social situations as well, without it bothering me – I’m pretty sure there’s karaoke footage of me out there.

    But what the OP described wouldn’t be okay for me. If I’m being videotaped for professional work, I want to be asked, in advance, and have the opportunity to tidy myself up and dress in a way that’s flattering for video. I don’t want someone to barge into my office when I’m working, shove a camera into my face, and tell me to act silly, and then to have them do what they want with the video. When the whole process has absolutely nothing to do with my job or my employer’s business, and is done solely to make other coworkers laugh, I would be even less amused.

  46. AF*

    OP, I’m sorry you’re going through this. Also sorry that I haven’t had time to read all the comments but just wanted to mention a few things:

    1) Besides dumb-sounding morale boosters, what is the actual purpose of these videos? I’m unclear about it, and concerned that, if her boss or your boss think they’re dumb, why is she allowed to do this stuff as part of her job? Doesn’t she have anything better to do?

    2) She’s in HR and refused your request to stop videotaping you? Sounds almost unethical from an HR standpoint. I know it’s not illegal and probably doesn’t meet the definition of harrassment, but it just seems like this person doesn’t understand basic employee interaction. And I might be wrong, but if your image is going to be used by the company for promotional purposes, don’t they have to at least notify you when you’re hired and allow you to opt out?

    3) I agree with almost everything Alison said, except that I would not use self-deprecating speech like, “I know I’m weird.” I don’t think it’s weird at all to want someone to respect your request – although I tend to be on the more serious side when it comes to situations like this, so others might disagree.

    OP, I hope it works out for you. And I hope this person’s camera “accidentally” breaks ;)

  47. C Average*

    I’m someone who used to be considered not a team player by my manager in part because I didn’t want to participate in the nonsense she came up with for our team, mostly outside of work hours but sometimes during the workday.

    No, I don’t want to do karaoke with you. No, I don’t want to play paintball with you.

    Eventually we talked about it in a one-on-one and I explained to her that I felt that the whole reason we were even doing these things was because they were fun FOR HER. We were constantly doing one thing or another that wasn’t related to the job because she’d picked a thing she wanted to do, figured out a way for the company to pay for it under the heading of “team building,” and pressured the rest of us to do it, too. If it was really all about camaraderie, I told her, why wouldn’t we drag the whole team out on something other team members wanted to do? Why weren’t we going to a football game because Apollo enjoyed that, or going to see Shakespeare because I like that?

    It wasn’t about team-building or morale at all. It was about doing stuff the boss enjoys on the company dime and inflicting it on her unwilling teammates. Not cool. And worth calling out.

    I told her I’m happy to do all I can to demonstrate that I’m a team player by contributing to the team’s success in a work context, and that I’ll happily accept any feedback on my project work, collaboration, contribution, etc., but that with a few rare exceptions–we’re talking once or twice a year–I don’t wish to participate in these little adventures of hers. She can have her adventures, I can have mine. No reason we need to have them together.

    We’re getting along better than we ever have now. I do all I can to show I’m a team player when it matters, like in meetings and in project work. And I don’t get pressured to do stupid shit that’s not my idea of fun just because my manager enjoys it.

    1. Anna*

      I think this supports my feelings that it’s an accusation made to get someone to do something you think they should do. Nobody wants to be seen as difficult or not nice, so when you tell someone they aren’t a team player, you’re not actually concerned about their standoffishness or that they’re alienating their coworkers; you’re trying to get them to do what YOU want them to do. It’s a BS accusation and if someone told me I was not a team player (dumbest phrase ever), I would definitely ask for examples relative to my work.

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