my boss keeps crying at work, LinkedIn user hit on me, and more

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

1. My boss keeps crying at work

My boss regularly cries at work – I’ve seen her cry about 10 times this year. The most recent time was today when my colleague quit as she has a promising opportunity. I find it really off-putting and am angry at the emotional burden she has put on my colleague, who now feels guilty about her choice. Is this a ridiculous thing to go to a regional manager about? I pity her but I think it has happened too frequently.

Yeah, it would be disconcerting to see your manager regularly crying. And crying because someone is leaving is taking a normal part of business way too personally.

If it’s truly interfering with your work, I could see discreetly mentioning it to someone above her — if you have a decent relationship with that person and they’re known to handle work issues reasonably and skillfully. But otherwise, I’d instead wait for a clearer opportunity to raise it — such as if you’re asked to give feedback for her evaluation, or if an opportunity develops organically in conversation with her. That might never happen, of course — but if you have decent rapport with her, I could imagine relationships and contexts where it would be reasonable to say, “Hey, when you’re so visibly upset about a work issue, it really rattles the team. It’s tough to work around strong emotions like that, especially from the person we’re looking to to steer the ship.” I can also imagine relationships and contexts where there would be no way to say that, of course, and if that’s the case, this might be part of the annoying package that comes with your manager.

2. Rude comment from manager

I told my manager that I was fat, and she was like, “Yeah, because you eat the crap food.” I was stunned. Please help.

Well, it wasn’t the kindest response, but … it’s sort of disingenuous to make “I’m fat” statements and not be okay with the person you’re talking with taking it face value. And yes, it’s common knowledge that when people say they’re fat, they’re looking for some variation of “no, you’re not,” but it’s hard to blame people who don’t feel like playing that game.

3. Reaching out to network with rejected job candidates

I was on the hiring committee to add a peer to our team—someone with the same job title as me. We met with three qualified applicants and hired one. It was a relatively close race, but they had differences in experience and the hiring manager (my boss) ultimately chose based on skills and fit. My company does send a polite rejection letter when the search is over and a candidate is hired. Everything about our process has been timely and respectful.

I thought that the other two candidates were very talented and qualified and, being in a specialized industry, it was great to meet new professional peers. I felt like I identified with them on a personal and professional level, more than I do with my current peer colleagues. Would it be strange to reach out to them (separately) for a networking meeting? They are both new to the area and looking for work. The specific town that they live in (and I work in) is not known for having these types of positions in quantity or quality. I have knowledge about the local job market and the employers out there, and I am also starting a job search. I also have perspective on how their resume and interview was perceived by our hiring committee. (I would personally find it incredibly helpful to get feedback on how I present myself in job search situations.)

How do I do this with tact, or is it not a good idea to reach out to them?

I think you can absolutely do this as long as you’re clear about what the purpose of the meeting is. You don’t want them to inadvertently think that you’re considering them for a different role at your company, or that the meeting will help them be considered there in the future. Just be clear about your goal — for example, “We clearly have a shared professional interest in X and Y, and I know you’re new to the area and looking for work. I’d be glad to get coffee with you and share what I know about the local market” or whatever.

One caveat: You mentioned possibly giving them feedback about how their candidacy was perceived by the hiring committee. Before you do that, clear it with the committee. You shouldn’t speak for your company on that without your company’s okay.

4. My manager showed me a job ad and encouraged me to apply for it

My manager recently showed me a current vacancy in the papers and encouraged me to apply if I want to. But I’ve only been employed in this organization for four months and I’m still undergoing training — not to mention, the economics department is short on staff and I’m the only economist. Is this a good or bad sign?

I don’t know! It could be that your manager is one of those people who’s always on the lookout for development opportunities for other people — although she should have thought about how an employee would take that kind of thing, especially a new employee. Or she could know something that you don’t — that your job is unstable in some way. But instead of speculating and worrying, why not just ask her? I’d say this: “I’ve been wondering about why you showed me that job opening the other day. I’m really happy in my current role and hope to stay here for a long time, but our conversation made me wonder if you have concerns about whether it’s the right fit.”

5. LinkedIn user hit on me

I accepted a LinkedIn invitation without researching the sender. He wrote that he saw my picture and is single — pretty much what you’d write on a singles site. Should I block him, reply to him that I’m married, ignore him? If this has happened to any of your readers, I’ll love to hear how they handled it.

Ick. Block him and don’t give it another thought. (And that reminds me of this.)

{ 391 comments… read them below }

  1. KarenT

    #2 I agree it’s disingenuous but the manager’s response was pretty great. I hate that game too but I usually just change the subject.

    Colleague: I’m so fat.
    Me: Did you see the Jays game last night?

      1. lawsuited

        Freudian slip, I’d say. If someone brings up their weight as a topic of conversation, they have to be prepared for the person they’re conversing with to share their views on it. The manager’s response wasn’t offensive, per se, just his/her matter-of-factly worded viewpoint.

    1. Not me

      Yeah, I agree. I don’t like playing the “I’m fat” game, either. I don’t think being fat is necessarily the worst thing ever (so I don’t want to frantically reassure someone they aren’t fat), I don’t like getting into body image issues, I don’t want to talk weight with anyone other than my doctor, and tl;dr etc. Changing the subject works.

      1. Not the Droid You are Looking For

        I’m glad I’m not the only one who thinks weight discussions are for my doctor and my trainer only! I lost about 40 pounds (over two years) while working at my last job. I was amazed how that meant it was open season on weight discussions! People constantly asked me about my food intake, my workout routines (and gave their opinion on whether it was too much/too little.”

        I constantly found myself saying, “I’ve had a conversation about ___ with my doctor and she’s approved it!”

        It also lead to *a lot* of the “I’m so fat,” “I wish I could lose weight,” “I wish I had your dedication,” “You’re so lucky that you have time to workout,” or “I’d eat healthier too if I didn’t have kids.” Initially I was naive and thought people wanted information or ideas. But nope they wanted me to validate them.

          1. Not the Droid You are Looking For

            The food this coworker brought to work always seemed like what my 4-year old godson would pick out if I told him he could plan all the meals for the week. Toaster strudel or poptart for breakfast, lunchables or microwave pizza for lunch. Lots of fruit snacks and cookie packs.

            I *definitely* did not want to open a can of worms by inquiring if these were the only things her children would eat, so therefore the entire household just ate the same thing…

        1. ArtsNerd

          I have seen WAY too many loved ones gain or lose significant weight due to illness, medication, depression, etc. to ever comment on the matter.

          (It’s a bit awkward to hear “Wow, you’re so thin! You look great” when you’re actually dying of cancer.)

            1. AvonLady Barksdale

              Too true! I got a whole bunch of “You look great!”s after a terrible bout of depression during which I ate next to nothing. The worst thing was recently seeing a picture of me from that time (about 5 years ago, post-depression but pre-stability) and saying, “Damn, I was so THIN!” and having to remind myself what caused me to get there.

              1. TootsNYC

                yeah, me too! I sure looked good–but my lord it hurt! I’m heavier now, but I’m mentally and emotionally healthier.

          1. Not the Droid You are Looking For

            I have a dear friends recovering from an eating disorder. The look on her face when people comment about her weight is heartbreaking :(

        2. Anon Accountant

          Yes! When people find out that you are trying to lose weight or are exercising with a trainer and the comments start I like the Miss Manners fallback. “Oh dear! I wouldn’t want to bore you with details!” and change the subject to a neutral topic. “So are you a football fan? Any games upcoming that you have tickets for?”

        3. Nom d' Pixel

          Ugh. I have been there. The thing that really makes me mad about that sort of thing is that some people eat as a minor form of rebellion. Being closely monitored makes them want to rebel more, rather than encourages them. We are all adults, and we should not comment on how other people take care of themselves.
          You are so right about people wanting you to validate them.

          1. Not the Droid You are Looking For

            Seriously. I would never comment on someone else’s food, other than the occasional, “that smells delicious” with my fellow-foodie coworker.

            The worst saying things like, “why are you eating carbs, I thought you were trying to lose weight.” or “You shouldn’t eat that banana, they are high in fat.”

        4. Tinker

          Ugh. I did the same thing some years back — in my case it was during undergrad, and mostly concerned family. A number of my female relatives are enthusiastic players of the fat/diet talk game, so I rather naively thought that actually setting out to avoid the state of dreadfat (and, in that case, doing so successfully) wouldn’t be weird. It was weird. Actually the peak weird, and it’s illustrative of the entire problem I think, is that there was a point where my mother started obsessing over the fact that unexplained weight loss is a symptom of diabetes. Because, apparently, changing one’s eating habits and consequently losing weight is not the expected result — I say sarcastically, but it really is true.

          You’re supposed to TALK about diets a lot, and how fat you are, and how terrible it is to be fat, but coming to terms with the reality of your body and/or making lifestyle changes that serve to alter that reality (for those people for whom that is an effective and realistic prospect; it was for me for reasons that don’t necessarily apply to everyone) would potentially get you off that particular hook, and for some reason that upsets the social applecart.

          1. Not the Droid You are Looking For

            + 1,000x

            I lost friends over my weight loss. Literally, a good friend told another that she didn’t want me around because my healthy food choices were depressing..

    2. Young reporter

      Yeah that was my thought – I get not playing the game, but I’d just respond with “Yup, which is fine” and change the subject.

      1. Marian the Librarian

        Agreed with this response if the person is actually fat. If the “I’m not fat” offender is thin, I usually respond with, “Why do you say that?” or “How so?” because the person is usually using “fat” as synonymous with “ugly” and that usage ticks me off so I don’t validate it. We all have days where we don’t feel attractive and I’m fine with giving out sympathy/complements if someone articulates it like that, but not if someone is using “fat” to mean “gross.”

        Boss’s response to this question was ridiculous though. Obviously, lots of people who are fat do not eat junk, and lots of people who are thin do eat junk.

        OP, unless you’re a model or actress or some other job that relies on your appearance, probably leave the body talk at home.

        1. AnonyMiss

          Completely agreed. Some people are fat, some people are skinny, some are inbetween, and it’s nobody’s business why or why not you belong to one group or another. Also, if OP is really, actually fat… well, it’s obvious, and there’s no need to call attention to it. I’m fat. The only time I ever mention it is in a self-deprecating joke after having to get to my 10th floor office by stairs leaves me breathy, or if I have a hard time squeezing through between furniture piled into the corridor. I’m also not expecting anyone to tell me I’m not fat, or that it’s OK. I laugh at myself, and at most, I appreciate if people laugh with me. (And I also sure as hell not expect anyone to tell me it’s because X, Y, or Z!)

      2. That Marketing Chick

        I’m a pretty honest and blunt person and take people at face value, so if someone made that comment to me (and I did think they were overweight), I would acknowledge it with something positive like suggest they start walking with me on breaks or tell them what I did to lose 20 pounds. But honestly, if you say you are fat and she sees you eating crap food….as much as it hurt, maybe it can be a turning point for you to start eating better? Otherwise….if you think you’re fat… why would you even say that in the first place???!!! Do you just want people to lie to you???!!!
        If she doesn’t see you eating crap food, then she’s not only being rude…she’s also mean.

        1. Cat

          I don’t like the “oh no, you’re sooooo thin” game either but making an unsolicited comment on how a co-worker eats is not okay ever. And a comment about body weight is not asking for a comment on eating habits.

        2. lawsuited

          I’m fat, and if I mentioned it I would way rather someone say “Yep, it’s because you eat cupcakes” (which is true) than suggest I start walking with them on breaks or tell me how they lost 20 lbs. I like the way I am, and wouldn’t be thrilled if someone’s response was to figure out how they could change me.

    3. UKAnon

      I can’t help wondering how many times OP has tried to play the game in the past. If this was the fourteenth time this week, I can completely understand how the boss snapped.

      Unfortunately, OP, if you make those sorts of comments you risk those sorts of responses.

      1. Kate

        Yeah, not saying the response wasn’t totally rude, but OP did go there first.

        Reminds me a bit of when my boss came in with a really ugly haircut, and was like ‘oh my god, my hair is ugly’. And I was like ‘Yeah, it sucks they messed it up. Did you tell them it’s not what you were expecting. They may offer to fix it.’

        ..And then she got super offended that I didn’t like her hair. Apparently she just wanted me to validate her and spend five minutes going on about how her hair actually looks good. I don’t play those games.

        1. Elysian

          I agree – this behavior all falls into the category of passive-aggressive as far as I’m concerned, and I just don’t have the gene. Can’t do it. I’m ok with that.

      2. VictoriaHR

        Yep. OP, honestly that’s a really immature thing to do to people because it puts them on the spot of having to comment on a colleague’s body. I’d say work on your own body issues on your own time and don’t bring it up at work.

      3. Jen

        Yeah, my boss (who is very very overweight – it’s not like a body dysmorphia thing) is constantly talking about himself as being fat. And he says this and then pauses to look at you like he expects you to argue or something. I hate it. It’s so awkward. He is overweight. I feel stupid being like “Oh no, you’re fine!” but then it also seems really unintelligent for me to be like “Yep.” so I now just pretend like I didn’t hear him.

        1. Stranger than fiction

          My boss says she’s fat once in a while. My response is “Oh, stop”, with a hand wave, then move on.

    4. INTP

      Yeah, I hate this game too. I actually lost friends over it growing up because I didn’t really understand the whole point so when my friends asked me if I thought they were fat, I’d answer honestly. Now I understand what’s happening but I can’t stand it. I’d normally just quickly change the subject too, but frankly, if someone tried to pull it too often, I could see myself responding with something kind of harsh to discourage them from trying it on me again.

      If OP is very young though, he/she might not realize how much this is frowned upon in adult society – teenage girls especially seem to do this as some sort of bonding ritual (as I clearly learned the hard way). OP, it’s not an unforgivable mistake, just treat this as a learning experience about how annoying that behavior can be.

      1. Kate

        Hmm yeah, if this is the first time the OP’s asked /said they’re fat at work, then the boss was pretty rude. If she’s done this multiple times before, then the boss was still rude but way more understandable IMO.

      2. The IT Manager

        I have never played that “game” with anyone. In all honesty I would not have known my response is supposed to be “no, you’re not.” I do however miss social cues and I’m socially awkward and have social anxiety so now I have to wonder if not knowing these rules have gotten me in trouble in the past.

        With all that in mind, now, I really don’t like the OP (game player / liar), but I am still wondering what response she wanted because I just can’t buy that this is a “rule.”

        And I do know the joke that a husband is never supposed to answer that question honestly, but that’s a joke, right? A woman wants to hear that her husband thinks she’s attractive to him and that she’s beautiful no matter her weight, but being fat/overweight is physical condition that is either a true or false. There’s a grey area where you go from being fit to carrying a little extra weight to fat, but once you reach a certain point you’re fat and there’s no debate to be had.

        Honestly, people, I feel like this conversation is a revelation to me about a game the world has been playing that I am unaware of and I’m now angry that this unwritten social rule about when to lie may have been holding me back my whole life and I didn’t know it.

        But in all this, still super weird to be discussing you’re weight with your boss.

        1. BeenThere

          Yeah I never understood this game either and was regularly in the doghouse with all my female friends. I was convinced I’d never find someone of my own sex that didn’t play this game, then I went to university and studied engineering and found a fanatastic group of women. We are spread around the globe today however we are all still great friends.

          Incidently this is why my husband and I can go shopping together, it’s a safe place for us to say that piece of clothings does not flatter you. So we never buy something we won’t wear again and we look great :)

          1. Becky B

            “Incidently this is why my husband and I can go shopping together, it’s a safe place for us to say that piece of clothing does not flatter you. So we never buy something we won’t wear again and we look great :)”

            A thousand times yes. It’s a piece of fabric, not the bedrock of my entire psyche and self-worth.

            1. madge

              Yes, yes, yes, to your comment and BeenThere’s. Dressing rooms are their own level of hell so if you won’t give me an honest opinion, don’t shop with me.

              I can’t fault the manager if this is a regular thing. It’s irritating to hear people go on about being fat (while eating typical office garbage snacks all day), and not having time to work out even though they discuss hours worth of their favorite TV show. Uh, there’s your time. And you do eat crap food. And that’s fine but don’t expect other people to regularly develop blindness to boost your ego.

          2. Lady Bug

            My husband has the best answer when we are shopping and something isn’t flattering on me, which I can generally see anyway. He goes with, “I think you look great, but you’ll hate it and be self-conscious.” We both know its a game, but hey it works. He also has no problem saying if he dislikes a pattern/cut etc., but we usually agree on that sort of thing.

            1. KJR

              My mother’s version of this was always, “It doesn’t do anything for you.” I was able to take this in without feeling like there was something wrong with me…it was the clothing!

              1. Ad Astra

                I use that all the time! It really is about the clothes, not about the body. I also try to use “It’s a little too clingy/long/short/whatever” or “I prefer the other one you tried on” when applicable.

                1. TootsNYC

                  My mom was really good about that as well, stating that the problem with the fit was the clothes’ fault, not my fault.

                  “It doesn’t flatter you,” is what she’d say.

              2. K.

                I say that too, about myself and others, because it IS about the clothing. In my opinion, saying “That doesn’t flatter you” is a way of emphasizing that rather than veering into what’s “wrong” with a particular body type. One of my best friends is five inches shorter than I am and pear-shaped; I’m taller and hourglass-shaped. Different stuff looks good on us. That’s cool.

            2. UKAnon

              Mine is usually brutally honest – which is fine because I’m rubbish at buying clothes so I appreciate an objective opinion – but lately we’ve developed the code of “Hmm, maybe, but then when would I wear it?” which is a good excuse to overlook something too.

        2. Kate

          Hmm yeah, perhaps the boss didn’t even realise you’re not “meant” to agree with someone when they say they’re fat. It’s not necessarily intuitive that if someone is fat and they acknowledge it to you, then you’re not allowed to proceed based on that acknowledgement. (Though I recognise the comment on the OP’s food choices was rude regardless.)

        3. over educated and underemployed

          Re: women and their husbands – the issue there is “do I/does this make me LOOK fat,” which is a different question about whether an outfit is flattering. The conventional wisdom there is that moms, sisters, female friends, etc., can say “oh no honey you have to wear something else” but husbands have to say “you look amazing” because men don’t get fashion anyway. YMMV on whether this is legit or silly (depends on the outfit/husband, I guess!), but the cliche is NOT about the woman’s weight as objective fact!

        4. VictoriaHR

          Derailing this thread – I was diagnosed with Asperger’s last year at the age of 39 and it was quite the revelation for me. Like you, I’d been struggling my whole life with not picking up on social cues and not knowing what the “right” thing to say was in social situations. Your paragraph about being angry about missing out on a game that the rest of the world knows how to play, is what I felt much of my life. You may want to read up on Asperger’s and see if it applies to you. Definitely not trying to diagnose you, just sharing my experiences. My diagnosis was a huge relief to me that I wasn’t “wrong,” just “different.”

          1. Dana

            A very close friend got a similar diagnosis in college and it really seemed like a relief for her. All sorts of pieces of the puzzle of her life seemed to fall into place with just a little realization that she was different, and that was okay. And I learned new words like “neurotypical”.

          2. Camellia

            I think of myself as a ‘cat’ in a world of ‘dogs’. Dogs are pack animals, they bond together, etc. Domestic felines don’t. I was with a friend in a restaurant one time, where we had met her mom and two sisters, and they got up and went to the restroom. I noticed my friend watching me and she said, “You really don’t understand why we go to the restroom together, do you?” “Nope.”

            They DO move in herds!

            1. The IT Manager

              Did she tell you why they went to the bathroom together? Because I don’t understand that either.

              1. Abyssal

                YMMV, but it’s often because it forms a natural break in conversation when someone stands up to head to the restroom, therefore it’s an opportunity for someone else to also go without missing out on whatever is going on.

                1. Clever Name

                  Really? Is that it? That doesn’t make sense. I’ve never felt the need to go to the bathroom with a group of women. Probably because I use a restroom break as an opportunity to get away from the noise/people.

              2. Camellia

                Maybe too late for anyone to see this, but apparently it is often a lack of confidence/feeling self-conscious. A woman who lacks confidence can feel uncomfortable walking alone across a room in front of people who are seated, even if their attention is not necessarily fixed on her the way it would be a speaker or presenter.

              3. Rana

                I’ve always assumed it was because people either didn’t want to interrupt an ongoing conversation in order to pee, or because they wanted to talk about something they didn’t want to discuss out in the open (like whether so-and-so’s new boyfriend is hot or not).

        5. Ad Astra

          It sounds like maybe you weren’t socialized to think being fat is the worst, most unattractive thing a woman could ever be. This is actually a good thing, but it may have been the cause of your misunderstanding with teenage friends. The “reason” you’re supposed to say “Oh, you’re not fat,” is because “fat” is interpreted as a negative evaluation of someone’s looks, not an objective description of someone’s body composition. To people who’ve been socialized this way, it’s exactly as if they’d said “Do I look ugly today?” and you said “Yeah, you’re kind of ugly.”

          It’s taken me a long time to realize that I can be fat without being ugly.

          1. F.

            I am far more concerned with what is in a person’s heart and mind and how they behave than what they look like.

          2. Marian the Librarian

            > To people who’ve been socialized this way, it’s exactly as if they’d said “Do I look ugly today?” and you said “Yeah, you’re kind of ugly.”

            Yes. This is the reason why it’s SO important to redirect! Fat is not synonymous with ugly, it is a descriptor just like “brunette” or “tall.” Saying “I’m fat” should get the same kind of response as “I’m tall” or “I have red hair.”

            1. OhNo

              Exactly. Being fat should be an objective quality, not something that you have to downplay to save people’s feelings. That’s why whenever someone points out something obvious with the implication that it’s negative around me (which happens quite a lot – apparently I have a lot of fatphobic acquaintances), I reply with a sarcastic “well spotted”.

              That woman is fat? That man is bald? That person has trouble walking a straight line? Well spotted. A+ use of vision. Way to use those eyes.

              Oh, I’m sorry, you wanted me to confirm your opinion that this physical quality makes them a bad person or somehow undeserving of respect? Not happening.

              1. AnonyManager

                Agreed! I love it! “Well spotted” is a perfect. I may have to use your response from now on!

        6. Jaydee

          You are awesome, and I for one wish more people had your view on this. I am well aware of the game, but you really helped me parse out why I hate it so much. I am fat. Of the true/false, objective, “the number on the scale is larger than the number on the chart in the doctor’s office” variety. The friends of mine who play this game the most are the ones who are not fat. One is probably literally half my size. They know they aren’t fat. They are using “fat” as code for “unattractive” or “gross” or “morally deficient” or something else. Which then perpetuates the idea that actual fatties are those things. But there’s more.

          I realized women use this code in a bunch of other ways. Change “fat” to any other negative thing. You say “I’m a terrible mom” or “I’m the worst” or “I’m such a slacker.” Then others reassure you that you’re not. Swap roles. Repeat ad infinitum.

          I rarely hear this from men, but it seems to be a dominant form of social interaction among women. Which I think puts women at a disadvantage. Why can’t we just acknowledge that we are smart, hard working, or good at things? Why is it seen as bragging or snobbish to do that, even when it’s accurate?

            1. Marian the Librarian

              > “I rarely hear this from men, but it seems to be a dominant form of social interaction among women. Which I think puts women at a disadvantage.”

              +100000, though self-deprecation can be common in some male-dominated cultures (I’m specifically thinking of nerd culture, here). Women are definitely NOT encouraged to take pride in their accomplishments. Can you imagine the reaction if you said things like “I’m an amazing mom,” “I’m the best,” or “I work really hard” to a group of women you weren’t close to? They’d all think you were extremely bizarre and probably that you were up yourself in a bad way. But if you said the negative statements you suggested in a group of strangers that were women, they’d respond with reassurance and act like it was totally normal. How messed up is that?

              1. JMegan

                I was reading recently about a woman (or group of women?) on dating sites, who started responding to compliments on her looks by saying “thank you” and agreeing. The responses she got were amazing – mostly along the lines of “Yeah, don’t be too proud of yourself, you’re not THAT hot.”

                So, yeah. All kinds of messed up.

                1. Kate

                  Yeah, it’s weird how women are supposed to accept compliments by deflecting. “That dress is beautiful!” “Oh, this old thing?”

                  I’m a woman who’s very confident in my looks and accomplishments (I blame my parents), so usually if someone compliments me I take it as deserved appreciation and answer with a sincere “thank you.” (And, because I feel I have to say this, I’m also realistic about my weaknesses and very open to constructive criticism.)

                  I’m lucky to have a group of women friends who would rather build each other up, who see it as a strength in one another when we say things like, “you know what? I’m beautiful/smart/really good at this.”

        7. Stranger than fiction

          Is it always a game though? I could see some people fishing for complements, but I’ve always felt most the time people just say it like an offhand comment.

          1. AnonyManager

            No it is not always a game. I am fat. I am half way through a year-long struggle to take off 115 pounds. When I state I am fat, I mean it! I am still 50 pounds overweight and I am working on it, but 50 pounds overweight is still fat. This admission usually comes a part of a larger conversation I am having. I generally find it a little offensive when someone tells me I am NOT fat. But I have come to learn that for some people the term “fat” means “ugly”, “stupid” or “lazy” (this has been mentioned in this thread already) so I try to be more careful who I have these conversations with. Even when someone notices I have taken off 60 lbs since they last saw me I try to keep the conversation short and light.

            I am a great mom, loving sister and daughter, good at my job and talented performer, I also happen to be FAT! I don’t really need anyone else to validate any of these facts for me.

            1. TootsNYC

              But…why are you ever stating that you are fat?

              OK, sure, you’re fat, and it’s a fact. But then, that means that we can see it–this particular fact is right there in front of us when we look at you. Why would you mention it, if you aren’t looking for some sort of response?

              It’s like saying, “I’m blond.”
              Or “I’m wearing a blue shirt.”

              OK, I see it’s part of a larger conversation–but if the response you get is, “Oh, you aren’t that fat” or “you aren’t fat,” then maybe you’re sounding too complain-y about the “fat” fact, and you should simply focus on the progress instead of pointing out your “faults” to other people.

              1. AnonyManager

                Since I am usually having this type of conversation with people I know and trust and we tend to be talking about our weight loss goals, exercise, nutrition etc. I really don’t expect a disingenuous answer. I don’t point out my “faults” to strangers expecting some weird sort of validation and whether I sound “complain-y” or not still doesn’t make a lie sound good to me.

          2. Jaydee

            I don’t think it’s always a game, in that I think it’s become such an ingrained method of communication that it’s probably only semi-conscious. It’s like saying “um” or “like” too much. And certainly there are times that someone has reason to talk about their weight as just a statement of fact. But I think it’s just such a common thing to put yourself down so that others won’t. (I’m also not even sure it’s always fishing for compliments so much as it’s just trying to fit in or avoid negative comments from others.)

            1. Zillah

              Yep. Women in particular are generally taught to soften and temper their statements, lest they inadvertently offend someone – “I think,” “in my opinion”, etc – and putting yourself down goes part and parcel with that. IME, women often feel like they’re imposing or being pushy if they’re not putting themselves down. I agree that it’s a huge problem and can definitely be part of a highly irritating game, but it also has basis in some much broader societal issues.

        8. Green

          Expecting your husband to meet your emotional needs with regard to your body image and attractiveness is a completely different can of worms than expecting your manager at your place of employment to do it.

        9. Koko

          I think that’s one of those “rules” that is really just a personal preference. If I’ve just started dating a guy and our relationship is not very established, then yeah, I probably would prefer to maintain the illusion that he thinks I look stunning 24/7. But if the relationship is well-established, and we’ve moved beyond the point where I expect my routine weight fluctuations to have any impact on our relationship status, then I would value honest feedback a lot more.

          At the same time, in order to maintain that illusion in a new relationship I would never ask if I look fat. I’m not the sort of person who would ever ask that question for any reason other than I’m actually trying to decide if I should wear this dress and I genuinely want to know if it’s unflattering.

        10. Kat

          It’s not worth getting angry over. I doubt not understanding this particular weirdness held you back. Your anger towards the whole thing concerns me. THAT, if you react similarly in other circumstances, could be the bigger issue that really would hold you back.

          I ignore the game playing/validation fishing. People learn not to do it with you. You dont have to be blunt or even rude to get the point across. Ignore it and move on with the original conversation or come up with a quick come back about being more interested in their brain than their (insert body complaint).

      3. Amy Farrah Fowler

        These types of games drive me a little bonkers too. It reminds me of the compliment game.
        “Oh, I love your dress”
        “What? This old thing; I look awful!”
        “No, you look amazing!”

        In an effort to garner more compliments, you act all self-deprecating so people will tell you how smart, pretty, wonderful you are. I think Amy Schumer has an excellent video about that on youtube. Why do people do this? I see it more with women than men, but why can’t you just say “thanks, I’m glad you like it” if someone complements your dress/hair/tattoo/makeup/car/whatever?

        1. Jaydee

          I find it much easier to accept compliments about my clothes or other things than I do about my personal traits or my achievements. If someone likes what I’m wearing or something I own, odds are it’s one of my favorites too. I say thanks and usually follow it up with where I got the item or something specific I like about it.

          Growing up, I was the know-it-all, goody-two-shoes, awkward, nerdy kid. I’m not going to lie, looking back I realize I was probably a bit obnoxious. But I learned pretty fast that only grownups like the know-it-all, goody-two-shoes, awkward, nerdy kid. And then you just end up getting “teacher’s pet” added to the list of reasons you’re uncool. I couldn’t exactly stop being smart or dorky or awkward, but I could totally make fun of myself before anyone else got a chance. It’s a useful coping method to an extent, but it does suck when you get to be an adult and still find yourself cringing when you’re recognized positively for something because you’ve spent years cultivating the ability to walk the line between “really knows her shit” and “who does she think she is?!”

        2. Zillah

          I said this above, but IMO, it has a lot to do with the way women are taught and even pressured to temper their statements in general. We’re taught that being straightforward is often synonymous with being pushy and rude, so many women shy away from expressing themselves in such a way on a regular basis.

    5. MK

      I find that changing the subject doesn’t always work, juts postpones the conversation. I go with “Well, a few extra kilos isn’t such a big deal, but if you feel uncomfortable in your skin, go to a dietician”, and then I change the subject. This gets across a) I am not going to offer compliments on being thin, which seems a wierd thing to laud someone for, b) I am not going to call anyone fat, even if it is clinically true, because the word has really bad connotations, c) I am not going to spent the next hour discussing dieting efforts, past, present or future.

      1. Aknownymous

        I respond along these lines as well. I loathe getting the “do you think I’m fat?”, because it’s a mine field of a question where you are putting the responsibility for your feelings and body image on me and my answer. I get that people in general are looking for reassurance of their attractiveness, but you can’t put that on anyone else, it has to come from within. I usually ask people how they feel about themselves, because that’s what matters. And if they feel they should lose weight, I’ll offer up a few suggestions of where to start, and then change the topic.

        I’d also love it if people stopped comparing bodies to each other. I work out a lot, and while I’m happy to share tips with people, some people have found a way to compare bodies with me that essentially ask “do you think I’m fat?” in other words. Like Sprocket wrote below – be happy with your body as it is, or work to get there. It’s pointless to compare yourself to other people, because you can only ever be yourself.

    6. Sprocket

      Yeah I don’t understand what help OP2 wants here. Were you fishing for a compliment or reassurance about your body? If so, don’t do that at work; coworkers shouldn’t be actively judging each other’s bodies. Save it for chat with your friends. Are you actually fat? Then maybe, though not said kindly, there could be true insight in your manager’s response about your food choices, and you can harness that to make the change you want.

      But still, no more talking about that at work. I don’t even like coworkers going on extensive discussions of their diet struggles, it’s awkward and doesn’t belong in the professional workplace. And rightly or wrongly, even as a woman, I find it harder to respect other women I work with as professionals when they try to rope me into discussions about their hang ups with weight and food. In my opinion, either be happy with your body as it is, or work to get there (whether that’s just learning to love yourself or making a change to your weight); It’s not a process I’m supposed to be involved in as your coworker.

      1. JMegan

        I think it’s almost a bonding ritual among women, this whole “I’m so fat!/ No, you look great!” conversation. Also, the food- and diet- talk that goes along with it. I don’t like it, and I choose not to engage when people start down this road with me, but it does seem to be the standard script for “connecting with another woman.”

        OP, I think the takeaway here is that this kind of conversation isn’t appropriate at work. It’s possible to do it with your peers, if that’s part of the established culture in your office, but never with your boss. I agree that she was rude, though! Best to keep this topic for those who you know are interested from now on.

    7. Cari

      I’ve stopped caring after seeing and experiencing the effects adults complaining about their weight and size has on the kids and others around them that are susceptible to body confidence and eating issues/disorders. Broke my heart when ex’s 6yo was picking at his food and said he wanted to be skinnier. Not possible, kid was tiny already!

      It’s also a manipulative trap, which is bad in itself.

      1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec

        Yep. My mom had an eating disorder when I was growing up, and really, really wanted me to be thin. As it turns out, I don’t have to try that hard with weight, but that didn’t stop me from being preoccupied with my weight from the start of puberty to about 30. I know mom wanted to “spare” me and had good, if disordered, intentions, but the result was that I rarely felt okay about my body. I just noticed a few years ago that other people regard me as thin, and that objectively, I’ve been thinner than most people the whole time I was thinking that others were constantly noticing my “extra weight” (aka, breasts, hips, no six-pack, legs that are not rock hard at rest). Feeling good about my body at any weight would have been preferable.

        1. Kate

          Yeah, I’ve always had issues with food and gotten loads of crap from my mother about it as well. It’s only now that I’ve grown up a lot, I can look back through pictures of my teens and recognise through my own eyes that I was one of the slimmest girls in the pictures. At the time, I genuinely thought that everyone was looking at me and thinking how disgusting I was.

          1. cozy mystery

            I had issues with body image too while I was growing up. My mother used to be a beauty queen and made it up to a state title. So I had three critics in my family telling me how fat I was growing up – my mom, dad, and brother. I was a size 9, 5’10 in high school but wouldn’t go out on dates because I felt like such a monstrous ball of fat. It was only when I got to college that I got a clue that body shaming was a sick game to play.

        2. Sammie

          Oh gosh! I feel for you. My mother wouldn’t even serve herself a plate of food at dinner. She would, however , eat from mine.

          Many, many hours of therapy were necessary to get me past that!

        3. abby

          This sounds like my growing-up years, except I ended up the other way. I am overweight and have been since my mid 30s. Not significantly, but enough that I am somewhat self-conscious. But I never discuss any of this with my co-workers, except for the time I cleared arriving to work about 30 minutes later than normal so I could exercise in the morning.

          Looking back, I see I was a very slender teen and young woman. I had curvy hips and thighs, but was slender. I thought I was fat. My mom constantly wanted me to diet, which I refused to do, and my step-dad called me “thunder thighs”. I only wish I was as “fat” now as I was then, and I wish I had been comfortable with my body then.

      2. VictoriaHR

        I’ve struggled with my weight my whole life and am just now exercising regularly, eating right, and maintaining a healthy weight for me. But I’m still “bigger” than other mommies and so it’s been tough not to criticize my body in front of my kids sometimes. But I think it’s super important so that they don’t see fat = bad/evil. They’re both skinny but if either of them gains a lot of weight, I don’t want them to feel bad about it. All I can do is model healthy exercise and eating behaviors to them and make sure that we never comment about others’ bodies, period, whether that’s “too skinny” or “too fat” or whatever.

        1. UKAnon

          You’re bringing back memories of my mum mentioning her weight and tactless child me thinking it would be reassuring if I said “But mums are *supposed* to be cuddly – you’re just a proper huggable mummy”.

          1. L Veen

            One time, equally tactless child-me saw my mother weighing herself and asked, “How much do you weigh? 100 kilos?” I was too young to have a frame of reference for how much 100 kg really was, and I thought a nice round number like that sounded like a reasonable weight for an adult. My mom was a bit miffed.

          2. aliascelli

            My nephew hugged me around the waist one day and said, “Auntie Celli, your tummy is big and squooshy!” I said, “Yep, God made my tummy nice and soft for hugs just like this.” He patted my tunny in approval and I was so relieved I hadn’t said anything bodyshaming. Bullet dodged.

      3. simonthegrey

        This is the main reason I want to learn better self-talk. I do know I am overweight, I do know I am getting healthier even though the numbers haven’t changed in quite a while (though I can feel my endurance is higher). I don’t want to hear my eventual daughter talk about herself this way, or think it is normal to have such a disordered view of herself. I know my depression makes me so much harder on myself than I probably deserve, and I don’t want to have my child go through that.

    8. Brightwanderer

      I’ll throw in another possible interpretation of OP2’s situation: she said “I’m fat” in a matter-of-fact way intended to short-cut some un-fun bit of conversation, meaning “Yes, I’m fat, let’s not dance around it, shall we?” and her manager responded with one of the common nasty assumptions that people make when you are fat. “Must be because you eat crap.” I can imagine being pretty taken aback by that if the original comment was intended to acknowledge her body type in a positive way and it was turned around to be yet another dig at how if you’re fat it’s because you stuff your face with fried food all day…

      1. Tomato Frog

        Yeah, I can think of times I’ve heard people say some variation of “I’m fat” and they weren’t fishing for reassurance or denial. I too am sick of people insulting their bodies to me, but these statements about the OP’s “game playing” when we don’t know the context seems like an unnecessary and misguided pile-on to me.

        1. Tomato Frog

          To be clear, I’m objecting to the assumption that this is game playing, not the assumption that this is an inappropriate thing to say.

      2. Anon for this

        This! I’m fat, and if it comes up in conversation, that’s the word I use. I’m fine with being fat, I’m healthy and strong (and also attractive). So if I matter-of-factly said I was fat and someone responded like that manager, I’d be super pissed.

        Though mayyybe the manager was trying to do a friendly joke and it flopped? As John Scalzi said, “the failure mode of ‘clever’ is ‘asshole.’ “

        1. Anon for this

          Wait, I didn’t mean to be anon for this, I forgot to change the name from when I posted yesterday. Oh well.

      3. KathyGeiss

        I’ve used this before so can totally see it happening (although we’ll never know without more info from the OP). I’ve had this convo before: person: “are you expecting!?”
        Me (with cheery enthusiasm): “nope! Just chubby.”
        Person: “oh! I meant you look great!” Me: “yep, I do!”

      4. Kate

        I wonder this as well. Maybe she said it in a joking way (still slightly uncomfortable, but hey) and the boss pounced on it.

      5. uh

        After thinking of this more I wondered if the remark was meant as encouragement. OP “I’m fat” Boss “You eat crap” but what boss mean was “You have the power to change that”.

    9. Ad Astra

      Changing the subject is always your best bet.

      If you agree that someone’s fat, you might insult them.
      If you deny that they’re fat when they really are, you’re making it sound like being fat is a horrible thing to be AND if that person is fishing for a compliment, you’re rewarding the annoying behavior.
      If you say “No you’re not, you’re beautiful,” you’re implying that fat = ugly.

      If I were close with this person, I might say, “Well, do you want to change the way you look or not? If so, do something about it.” But I don’t think most managers are that close to their employees.

      Of course, some people are simply stating a fact when they say they’re fat — like “Oh, I’m too fat to shop at that store” — and in that case you don’t need to agree or disagree. But it sounds like this employee was doing it in a complaining, self-deprecating way, expecting the manager to say “No you’re not.” That’s not fair.

      1. caryatid

        totally agree with all of the above. best just stay far, far away from this kind of conversation.

    10. TootsNYC

      the last time I did that “game,” my colleague responded to my “I’m so fat” with: “What are you doing to do about it?”

      THAT was a great response. It essentially said, “I’m sick of hearing this, shut up about being fat” (only politely), and it also said, “This is within your control, so really you should not be complaining about it.”

      I stopped in my tracks. And said to myself, Well, if I don’t want to be fat, I should do something about it.
      And I started to lose weight.

      One of the best things anyone’s ever said to me.

      1. Cath in Canada

        One of my roommates in grad school was always moaning “I’m sooooo fat”. After getting sick of the reassurance game, my other roommate and I started responding with invitations to come on a bike ride or a hike with us at the weekend, or “hey let’s book a badminton court tomorrow!”, or “the pool’s open from 10-2 today!”, without commenting on her weight at all, just emphasising the “let’s have fun together!” part. She never took us up on the offers, but she stopped moaning.

  2. The IT Manager

    #2, why, just why, would you say that to your manager? *

    Honestly what did you expect your manager to say? If you’re fat, you’re fat, and, hey, she was agreeing with. People usually like to be told they are right.

    * 100% not a discussion to have with a manager unless you’re in the military where being fat is a problem to be corrected.

    1. LisaLee

      Yeah, it seems like this relationship is a mess for a lot of reasons.

      Also, while what the manager said was incredibly uncalled for and rude, the whole “Oh, I’m so fat!” game is super annoying.

    2. Kate

      Ha, the boss sounds like my mother growing up.

      I’d love to know what the OP was expecting the boss to say in reply though. If you were hoping for a self-esteem boost from her assuring you that you’re not fat, well that’s not really an appropriate way to be interacting with your boss, (and an annoying way to be interacting with people generally).

      If you’re not fat, stop manipulating people into giving you compliments. If you are fat, then do something about it, or if you’re not prepared to, have a medical reason why you can’t, etc., then find a way to live with that, (and still stop manipulating people into giving you compliments).

    3. KT

      This is not a conversation to have with a manager unless you are a model and have to fit a certain size this weekend. I have no idea what you hoped to gain from saying “I’m fat” to a manager, but what you got back is something typical. I’m sure your hurt, but move on–you both were in the wrong.

      1. fposte

        And there’s nothing to be gained from the comment however the OP eats. So response fail–even if this *was* annoyance at a reassurance solicitation, that’s not the place to go.

      2. The IT Manager

        True. That last bit was rude; although, if LW snacks on junk all day it could be a bad way of advising the LW where one of the causes is.

        We don’t have much context at all. Why the LW said she was would help understand what’s going on.

        Unfortunately I’m betting from the three sentence question the LW won’t be popping into the comments to clarify. That said, LW asked for help which Alison didn’t quite provide. 1) Forget it. 2) Never say “I’m fat” or some variation of it to your boss or anyone else at work again so this situation doesn’t come up again.

      3. Brisvegan

        This.

        You can be fat and eat healthy, eat crap or eat both, plus exercise/not exercise. Also, most fat people (and I say this as an in-betweeny smaller fat woman) are pretty darn aware that junk food does not assist weight loss and may promote weight gain. It’s not exactly hidden knowledge in Western society. It’s not like a fat person would never have this hidden, arcane knowledge until the boss “helpfully” mentioned it. By saying that the OP ate crap, the boss was 1) rude about personal food choices, 2) used a rude/borderline swear term to an employee in a tactless/rude way 3) continued the irritating trope that fat people are too stupid to notice the thousands of food/weight correlation messages that saturate our media and 4) deliberately attempted to shame an employee for food choices that the boss may not mention to anyone else.

        I would use fat about myself as a neutral descriptor and not be seeking to be slammed about my food choices. I would be pretty taken aback if my boss said something like this. (Currently lovely boss wouldn’t be such a jerk, thank goodness!)

        OP, if you were just being neutral, now you know you have a judgmental fatphobic boss. If you were seeking validation or compliments, you know that you have a judgmental, fatphobic boss who does not respond well to this sort of validation-seeking. If you were seeking denials etc of being fat, maybe think about why you wanted that and what it says about your conceptions of your and others’ bodies. There is some great stuff out there on fat acceptance and body acceptance that is really great about learning to be kind to yourself and others at every size. No-one deserves body shaming, whatever their body type (thin, fat, tall, short, able bodied, disabled, etc)

    4. MashaKasha

      #2 reminded me of something my grandfather used to say – “Never tell people you’re stupid, because they will agree”.

      The manager’s response was bizarre, but OP2 put her on the spot. Who knows why, on that particular day, the manager decided she wasn’t going to play the game and respond with “awww nono, you’re not”? But the fact is, she’s not obligated to play it anyway. I’d barely tolerate this game from a family member, much less a coworker.

      1. Kate

        I think that’s another area in which this game gets played a lot. We probably all remember those kids at school who’d complain endlessly about how they’re going to fail, when their average mark was like 90%. And everyone else is rolling their eyes while reassuring them that they’re so smart and are going to be fine.

        1. Bostonian

          Oh, I was that kid. I think because I did well academically pretty effortlessly in my early school years, it took me a while to judge when I knew material well enough for an exam once I hit classes where I actually needed to study. I wasn’t actually looking for reassurance, exactly, but I was really insecure about things for a while there.

          I remember studying for an industry certification exam right out of college. It was pass/fail, and pass was 60% correct. The feeling of not knowing the answers to a third of the questions was so ingrained in me as not acceptable from high school tests where that would have been a D that I ended up studying way more than necessary.

      2. MAB

        Honestly I have told an employee who constantly complained about her weight than would eat junk all day long something similar. She would comment on my eating (I do eat ‘crap’ but I eat it in moderation and keep fit) daily and often would get upset when I or someone else would bring in treats for everyone in the office then eat twice as much as anyone else. The final straw was when she walked into the office announced she was fat and started to whine about how hard her life was, again. I was kinder then the manager in OP2 but I did say something like “Well,… you seem to eat a lot of fast food, baked goods and and you don’t seem to have a lot of time to work out. Maybe you need to change your diet.” She left in a huff and started to complain to my coworker rather than me.

  3. Kara

    I cannot imagine a situation where “I’m fat” is a conversational topic that would come up with my boss. I really hope the OP provides some additional information here.

    1. Blurgle

      Or with anyone except a medical professional, personal trainer, etc. It really makes it sound like you’re passive-aggressively fishing for a compliment.

      The only exception is if the boss expected you to do something (say, go on a rock-climbing expedition) that would not be safe due to your size.

      1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec

        I know this isn’t what you meant, but rock climbing is an activity without weight restrictions! The equipment is generally rated to at least 5000lbs, so unless someone weighs more than a minivan, there is no additional risk. I have a female friend who is about 250 (not “all muscle”) and a professional climbing instructor. I love how many not-thin teenagers she has inspired to climb!

        1. madge

          There’s not a word for how much I love what your friend is doing. One of the most important things adults can do is encourage kids/teens to be active. Please tell her random strangers on the internet think she is AWESOME (in a non-creepy way)!

        2. BeenThere

          Thank you for posting this, I have struggled to get my female friends interested in climbing because they think it is an activity for thin people. You have inspired me to go hunting on the internet for inspiring larger women who climb!

        3. ella

          So true! I have a friend who is overweight and a cancer survivor. She had one leg amputated below the knee (because cancer) and now she rock climbs, teaches para/adaptive climbing classes, and does a ton of activism work to get disabled people into her climbing gym. With the right gear anyone can climb, seriously.

        4. Brisvegan

          This is awesome! Those rock climbers mentioned here deserve internet high 5’s all round. Go them!

    2. Not me

      I’m also wondering why that needed to come up at work.

      While that was an incredibly rude response from the manager, I’m not sure what response OP wanted then or what they want to happen now, aside from an apology.

      1. Brisvegan

        Yeah, but sometimes it’s a defence mechanism to say it first for some people.

        Or like me, it’s just a neutral descriptor of my body type.

    3. INTP

      Maybe if you are booking business travel and need a second seat? You work remotely and your boss is questioning why you expensed such a pricey chair? Even in those scenarios, I would find it more professional to use a more neutral word than “fat.”

      1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

        “Fat” IS neutral. I’m tall, White, and fat. Those things are just true.

        1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec

          I’m not sure that is true if you are saying it about someone else, though I respect your right to describe yourself how you like. If I had a “fat” employee and I needed to ask about a second airplane seat, I would have to find some other way to ask besides “are you fat enough to need two seats, or is just one okay?”.

          1. Ad Astra

            Yeah, it situations where you’re talking about someone’s size, “big” is probably the better word. Because it doesn’t matter if this person has high or low body fat, it matters how much room they take up. The terms are related, obviously, but they’re not synonyms.

            1. simonthegrey

              My husband is both big and overweight – in that his shoulders barely fit through a doorway and won’t even when he loses his spare 100lbs. So a standard airplane seat, or anywhere he is crunched up against someone, is uncomfortable. Think football player or swimmer shoulders. So even when he finally finishes losing, he won’t take up that much less room across.

    4. AnotherAlison

      I can see a few cases where it would come up:
      – I need a 2x in the team shirt. I’m fat.
      – Can we talk about an extra seat on plane trips? I’m fat.
      – Can I order a sturdier chair? I’m fat.
      – I would rather not do [requested task x] where I am on my feet all day. I’m fat.

      (Given it would probably not be phrased like that, but it seems like weight discussions can come up through the normal course of business.)

      1. eee

        yeah that’s what I was thinking. The manager’s response was bad, and bringing up the topic all on it’s own was really weird of the OP–but yeah, I can definitely see cases where “I’m fat” would come up, because the person is trying to not beat around the bush about it. Like with your example
        “Why aren’t you wearing your team shirt for this event?”
        “Well boss, none of them would fit me.”
        “Really? They fit Bob, and he’s a man, and a foot taller than you!”
        “Yeah, I tried it on, but that’s still just a men’s large. That’s not going to cut it for me. It did not fit.”
        “I can’t imagine something would fit Bob and not you!”
        “Bob is just tall and muscular. I’m fat. The shirt does not fit me.”
        In those contexts, the response “Because you eat crap food!” is even more unacceptable.

        1. Ad Astra

          I’m always uncomfortable when people assume I’m smaller because I’m a woman. It makes me feel weird about not being small, like there’s something wrong with me for taking up space in the world.

          1. Marian the Librarian

            Agreed–it makes me uncomfortable, too. The guy I dated before my husband was tall and skinny, and at the time I dated him I was fairly thin, but he was still much smaller than I was. Once the girl who lived in the dorm room next to mine asked, randomly, with no previous context, “Is it weird to be so much larger than your boyfriend?” (with the implication that it was, indeed, definitely very weird). I think I just looked at her oddly and said, “No???” Super rude.

      2. Turanga Leela

        “I know I was just at the doctor, but I have to back for more testing.”
        “Did they say why?”
        “Well, I’m fat, so maybe that’s it.”

        Of course, a lot of people wouldn’t have this conversation, but I’ve had bosses who would chat about this kind of health stuff.

        1. Cordelia Naismith

          You know, being fat is not a medical condition. While there are many medical conditions that are associated with weight or that being overweight can make worse, it is also perfectly possible to be fat and healthy. There is no reason to go back to the doctor for more testing because you’re fat — you’d go back for more testing because the doctor thinks you may have a disease.

          1. Turanga Leela

            I’m not disagreeing with you—I know a lot of people with high BMIs who are extremely healthy. However, a lot of doctors treat obesity (measured by BMI) as a risk factor, especially with pregnant women or people who have other medical conditions. Speaking from personal experience, sometimes being fat means you get more or different tests at the doctor’s office.

            1. Cordelia Naismith

              Nevertheless, I think it would be…odd…to say you needed to go to the doctor because you’re fat. Also speaking from personal experience.

    5. AnonPi

      I think it can depend on office culture, and the relationship with one’s boss. For instance my work place for several years promoted a ‘biggest loser’ competition, so you had coworkers and bosses forming groups to compete and stuff. And they have other similar ‘wellness activities’ throughout the year. So I think those kind of things can kind of create an atmosphere where these types of comments/statements are made to one another. But yeah it can easily lead to crossing boundaries (for instance several weeks back my team leader made a very inappropriate comment about MY weight in front of others. Now I know in one way it was about me because she’s a bully and says crap all the time, but I also know it was in part about her because she’s always worrying about her weight). Its one thing to commiserate to each other, but I don’t think its a good idea to comment whether a person is fat OR skinny (IMO).

      1. Sammie

        The sales guys at old job did this one year. The winner fasted for the last three days! It was interesting to walk into the kitchen and overhear what used to be sports-talk evolve into “Woah….all he’s eating is lettuce”….”YUP and he ran ten miles at lunch…and then fainted.”

    6. LJL

      I think that body size/shape/type is a topic that should be avoided at work. Mine, yours, anyone’s. It just makes me uncomfortable, and this letter is the reason.

    7. JGray

      I agree that there are certain situations where it could come up in discussions about business things but just randomly is weird. Most managers will try to avoid having a weight discussion with an employee because the discussion can go into ADA territory or harassment territory way to quickly. I feel like that this employee is probably one of those people who will complain about being fat but then never really do anything to lose the weight or chance the situation. Therefore, I think the manager had the reaction she did because she probably hears I’m fat all the time. I could be way off base (and I am apologize if I am) but it just seem like this would be the only way to justify the response from the manager. Otherwise, I would have to have that if the employee has never mentioned her weight before and in a casual conversation said I’m fat & that is the mangers response than the manger is a little bit of a jerk.

  4. Katy

    To #5: Why just block him? I suggest you delete the contact so the connection doesn’t affect your feed.

    1. Kate

      I agree. Why block when you can delete?

      A few months ago, a guy I met on Tinder, who I saw once, somehow found me on LinkedIn. When he started endorsing me for random shit and sending me messages with winky faces, I just deleted him again. There’s two apps that shouldn’t be mixed.

      1. Kate

        Oh, looks like you’re right and it does pretty much the same as deleting. I had always thought it was like Facebook where they’re different.

    2. JGray

      I had never heard of this before. I am unnerved to find out that people are trolling for dates on LinkedIn. Note to self don’t accept random connection requests from people who had no other connections. I am glad to know that I can block and/or delete if this ever happens

      1. K.

        One of my friends gets hit on on LinkedIn all the time. I find it so weird. There are a trillion sites and apps that are expressly for dating and hooking up; why are people trolling for dates on a professional networking site?

      2. Stranger than fiction

        I hadn’t either! But, that may explain the random strangers that I have no professional connections to asking to connect with me. I always thought it was just people trying to beef up their number of contacts, but now I’m wondering. yuck. Same here, I don’t connect with random people. LinkedIn is supposed to be your actual network of colleagues, clients, industry connections, etc. Not a popularity contest.

        1. abby

          Same here. I never accept connection requests from random people, and after reading about this I am glad I don’t.

          1. Lucky

            Same here, except for LinkedIn requests from recruiters (in-company, not third-party), so long as they are connected to other recruiters I know personally. I figure if a recruiter wants to connect, it could be advantageous both for me and for my connections. But randos? no.

          2. Elizabeth West

            I don’t either. I also ignored a request from a former coworker whom I don’t really like that much and never see now. He has nothing to offer me professionally (nor I him) and I just don’t see the point.

            I barely use LinkedIn anymore and have considered deleting my profile. If people start winking at me (not likely anyway), I’m definitely out.

      3. the_scientist

        I feel like this is a recent development. Or maybe just recent to me? I am a young ish woman. I have always had a LinkedIn profile picture, but I recently updated my photo. I get at least one connection request a week from a random man, usually in another country, with whom I have no connections in common. Often, it’s a completely blank profile.

        So yeah, I feel like some “enterprising” men feel that LinkedIn is a potentially vast, untapped network of potential dates. It’s so weird. But I don’t connect with anyone I don’t actually know in person, so I just decline and move on.

      4. aphrael

        I got one where the guy added a bunch of people at once (later I noticed they were all women), then when I accepted sent a message to the effect of “you’re beautiful, and when a man takes the time to tell you you’re beautiful you know he sees your soul.”

        Blech.

        1. manybellsdown

          That sounds like the spammy message I got from a random guy on Facebook yesterday. It was all this “I can see you are a woman of character, integrity, loves life, blah blah …” Just a bunch of boring generic stuff that pisses me off from a stranger. And if he knew so much about me, he might have sussed out I was married before he hit on me, since my “integrity” doesn’t appear in my photos but my husband sure does.

      5. Marian the Librarian

        Not quite as weird/inappropriate, but I’ve had multiple men blatantly hit on me via Goodreads (which I use mostly for work). They didn’t send messages trying to start a conversation about books with the hope that it would turn into something more–it was the skeevy “I like your lips” kind of messages that I’d expect from a dating site. Definitely not the right venue.

        1. Cath in Canada

          Yeah I’ve experienced that on Quora – a question and answer site that I use mostly for work-related topics. Eww.

          OP (and others), check out socialcreeps dotcom – you are not alone!

          1. Hiring Mgr

            Yeah, I’m really good-looking (many of my friends tell me this, so it’s objective), and this happens to me every so often. Completely inappropriate–definitely block!

    3. Vicki

      When I receive a link request from someone I don’t know, I wrote back to ask why they want to connect. His response was something about liking the way I looked in my photo.

      I reported him to LinkedIn customer service. <<=== Do that!

  5. Suz

    I’ve had a few managers send me roles they thought would be good for me. I had been there for over between one and four years when these happened.
    In my case, it was because they appreciated my work, but thought I was ‘wasting my ability’ where I was as there was limited opportunity in the long-term. They’d sometimes preface it with “I really don’t want you to go, but…”

    It did feel a bit weird, but ultimately, they were trying to encourage me and give me confidence that I could do more

    1. yeah, that

      My husband has done that before–he has a few really good employees who are in temporary positions, and if a big career opportunity comes along for one of them, he sends it along. He honestly considers it a success if one of “his people” is hired for a better job than he can currently offer–it means they’ve been doing a good job and working hard.

      1. MAB

        I have done that too! It feels like a win-win and the employee sometimes returns to my company with more skills and since they left with a good taste in their mouths the retention rate is higher.

    2. LJL

      That has happened to me before. In that case, it was that the manager thought I was doing a great job but was privy to information that I didnt’ have about the funding of my position. I wasn’t sure how to take it , so I thanked her for thinking of me and filed it away.

    3. Not the Droid You are Looking For

      I have done this as a manager a few times:

      (1) for an amazing employee who was ready to take on a formal managerial role, but we did not/would not have one any time soon. A local company that had a great reputation as a good place to work was hiring, not only did I show him the ad, but I put him in contact with my connections there.

      (2) I had a long term employee who was burning out and her attitude was starting to pull everyone down. I was able to help her transfer to a new team that did the same work, but at a different pace (less clients, but bigger scopes of work). When I first told her about the new job she was highly suspicious and it took a lot of conversations.

      Both employees were rockstars in their new positions and the employee who transferred to the other team ended up moving into a managerial spot for that team. Sometimes it really is done with the best intentions.

      1. Stranger than fiction

        But at least you explained where you were coming from. The Op’s boss was all cryptic about it.

        1. Not the Droid You are Looking For

          In the case of employee #2, I completely blundered it on the initial conversation. Like, tears involved leavel blunder…

    4. TootsNYC

      I had a manager recommend me for a job while I was on maternity leave. She heard about the opening, thought I was good for it, and said, “I won’t be able to look you in the face if you come back to the pressure-cooker this place has become, and I didn’t tell you about this.”

      I think the manager needs to be way more open about why she did this.

    5. Brisvegan

      I had a former boss who couldn’t offer long term contracts tell me about my current job, which I love. He also gave me a great reference and supported me in my application.

      I will always be grateful to him for the heads-up and support.

  6. Zillah

    #5 – Don’t respond saying that you’re married, because that’s irrelevant – this would be equally unwelcome and inappropriate if you weren’t!

    Just block.

    1. UKAnon

      On LinkedIn where you have the opportunity to just delete, yes. Usually, this is unfortunately the most effective way of getting rid of men like that.

    2. Stranger than fiction

      Exactly. I tell my kids this all the time about FB drama. Don’t respond, don’t engage. I forget who, but a very wise person once said “The hardest thing to do in life, is to do nothing”. Basically, it’s human nature to want to take action, but sometimes the best course of action is no action.

      1. Amy Farrah Fowler

        The best “revenge” is living well. Honestly, anyone who creates that amount of drama is just trying to bring other people down because they, themselves, are unhappy, and misery loves company. By ignoring and not engaging, you limit their ability to bring you down AND they don’t get company for their misery.

    3. Joline

      I am admittedly what my mother would call a “Streithammel” – someone who’s always looking for a fight.

      I don’t think I could keep myself from first saying that I absolutely wasn’t interested and that I’m pretty unimpressed with someone trying to use a professional networking site as a dating site. Then see what the response is. Hopefully they register that it’s inappropriate. If not – at least I feel better for letting out my argumentative side. :)

      1. Elizabeth West

        I find that typing those inflamed reply comments in a Notepad document (where no one can see them but me and they have no chance of escaping into the interwebz) gets that urge out. Then I can block/delete without engaging much more easily. :)

        1. Joline

          I try to keep them from being inflamed – I agree that that definitely escalates things and is just a bad idea. I’d probably go with “I’m not interested. I am on this site for professional networking purposes – as that is its purpose.” So perhaps a little passive aggressive, but not overtly jerky I don’t think. :P

          If they then try to continue the conversation then I delete/block. Or just ignore. And in any case I might still do that after. But I’m not good at not giving a response. I think you’re right that if someone is just being super offensive that I should just steer clear.

  7. Anon for this

    #4 my manager tried this multiple times with someone about to get the layoff axe. He didn’t pick up on it and was surprised when he got canned.

    Ask the question but also look for other cues.

    1. Artemesia

      4 mos in this would be my worry. With a longer working relationship then it could be a kindness of seeing opportunity elsewhere, but with such a short time in at this job, I’d have my antenae up for upcoming layoffs or my own performance problems. I’d probably have a sit down with the boss to ask if this indicated issues we needed to discuss about me or the organization.

      1. Kyrielle

        This! But be aware that if it’s an upcoming possible layoff, your manager may not be permitted to tell you that.

        1. TootsNYC

          your manager may not be permitted to tell you that.

          Remember this! I know that I asked for a few sudden vacation days once (like, the next week) because I was trying to use them up, and my boss balked and said no, “we need you here, that’s a very bad time.”

          None of which was true. I wasn’t that thrilled.

          Then four days later I got laid off–and I realized that she knew it was coming, and was trying to save my vacation pay to cushion the blow.

          People over your head -can’t- tell you about those sorts of situations.

          1. Development professional

            In December 2008, my boss gave all 4 of us who worked for her insulated lunch bags as Christmas presents, and said, “we should all be packing our lunch from home because these are uncertain times.” I thought it was condescending, until they announced in January that we were getting across-the-board pay cuts.

        2. Stranger than fiction

          Ooh, that’s a good point. But, sometimes bosses can hint. Or, she can keep her ears and eyes open for other clues- are they struggling financially, missing their sales goals, etc? Are people leaving on their own accord?

          1. Kyrielle

            Yep. And the job suggestion may be a hint. Or it may be a boss just seeing an opportunity they think would be perfect for this person! But if it is a hint, it’s very likely the boss can’t be more direct.

      2. A Fish in the Sea

        I did this once. He thought I was trying to get rid of him, which was my ulterior motive, but I genuinely thought the other position was a better fit for his skills than the position in our company.

      3. TootsNYC

        I agree–I’d be alert for layoffs or performance problems.

        if either of those are true, then this is a kindness from the manager. But I’d want to know.

  8. AcidMeFlux

    #1, Sure, getting emotional at work isn’t the best response, but define what crying is. If colleague announced her new job and boss got a little teary-eyed and said, “That’s great, but we’ll miss you”, no big deal. If boss is bursting into tears at the drop of a hat, no-no. If boss, in quieter moments, expresses disappointment, frustration or fatigue in a private conversation with wet eyes, not great but not awful.

      1. AcidMeFlux

        Doubtless. I have seen that women can be accused of crying or “getting all emotional” for reacting to any negative situation with anything but a poker face.

        1. Koko

          OTOH, I once had a manager who referred to me as a “snake in the grass” because I didn’t display enough outward emotion in a disciplinary meeting, and the inability for her to read my emotions on my face made her suspicious of my loyalties and intentions.

          Being a woman: can’t win. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

      2. Foxtrot

        Eep!! I’m a woman who cries frequently in her private life and works really hard to keep it at teary eyes at work. Does anyone have advice to stop it? It’s just a natural reaction… :(

        1. Therapist

          Many people have emotions that are easily stirred and this is not a bad thing. It is just something that works best if it is harnessed. There are skills that can be learned to help navigate moments when the emotions come to the surface. In therapy these are known as distress tolerance skills. I would post a link, but I’m not sure if that is kosher. If you google it you should find a plethora of great information.

          Just FYI, a negative environment can actually make emotional regulation more difficult, so be aware that when giving coworkers overtly negative feedback, it could actually backfire.

        2. VictoriaHR

          When you feel that tingle at the tip of your nose, look up at the ceiling. Somehow it tells the tear ducts to knock it off.

          Unfortunately, it can also look to someone else like you’re rolling your eyes, so I don’t recommend doing it when you’re in the middle of a conversation or a meeting or something.

          1. Applesauced

            I’m trying this at the next wedding I go to. I’m not a very emotive person (resting bitch face and all) but I’ve just discovered that I cry at weddings. Even if it’s my boyfriend’s coworker and I don’t know the couple, I will tear up.

            1. Persephone Mulberry

              Totally works. I managed to get through my sister’s wedding (as a bridesmaid!) without a tissue.

            2. TootsNYC

              I cry at marching bands–I’ll have to give it a shot.
              (There was a parade 2 blocks away, and we could see if from the 30th Fl. window and hear it on the video feed on the computer, and I still teared up!)

        3. Chrissi

          If you get choked up and can’t talk, put the tip of your tongue to the roof of your mouth then push it as far back towards your throat as you can (just the tongue, don’t use your fingers or anything). It opens up your throat and keeps you from crying sometimes.

          The older I’ve gotten the more I cry (and when I’m depressed, it’s even worse) and the thing I discovered recently works better than anything. Do sums, multiples, division or any kind of math or puzzle in your head. Your emotions are controlled by your limbic system and doing math requires use of the prefrontal cortex. For some reason, using the prefrontal cortex kind of shorts out your limbic system. Personally I count up in multiples of 7. Uses just enough brain power to work, but isn’t so hard I can’t do it. You can’t do stuff you’ve just memorized or it’s too easy (for me, multiples of 9 or 5 are too easy, for instance). When I’ve done it, it takes the edge off just enough to keep me from tearing up.

          1. Koko

            This tip also works if you’re a nervous pee-er. Do some complicated mental multiplication and your bladder will release itself. I like to multiply two-digit numbers by each other.

        4. Chalupa Batman

          I’m a crier, and I actually saw a tip here in the comments of an older letter that works for me when I need to keep cool: put the tip of your tongue against the roof of your mouth and separate your teeth. It creates a completely blank expression and lets you focus on something else for a second. I have a dreadful poker face, but I hate when people hide information or don’t give feedback because I might get upset-of course I’m upset at bad news! But I’m a grown up, I can handle it! Please don’t coddle me because I might cry, give me a tissue and move on. Being able to call up a blank face helps a ton, and has the added bonus of keeping me from responding immediately to things that make me upset.

          1. TootsNYC

            Please don’t coddle me because I might cry, give me a tissue and move on.

            I had a doctor do that for me–I started crying, and he matter-of-factly got the tissue box for me, patted me on the knee, and completely ignored my crying. The world’s best bedside manner.

        5. Koko

          I am the same way. Listening to a few bars of Pachelbel’s Canon in D will immediately set my tears to welling up, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a TV character die or even come close to dying without bawling, and I’ve even been known to cry at especially stirring 30-second commercials for Walmart or cat food.

          In situations where I know I really oughtn’t cry, I blink a lot, take deep slow breaths, and as much as is possible while still retaining what’s being said, I try not to mentally dwell on what’s upsetting me. It’s touch to find the words to describe this, but often what I’m crying about isn’t the thing that just happened but rather the story I’m telling myself about the thing that just happened. If I can stop myself telling the story, I can better hold back the tears.

          So for instance, when a certain beloved professor of wizardry died, I wasn’t just crying because he died – I was instantly thinking, “How sad for all the people who love him! Think of all the wisdom he’ll never be able to pass on now! If only something had been done differently, he wouldn’t have had to die! How will the witnesses live with the guilt? Oh my gods, look at how much pain his loved one is in!” and it’s all those secondary story-thoughts that I was really crying about, the implications and greater meaning of his death rather than the death itself. It takes practice, but you can learn to observe yourself telling yourself stories like this and shut them down when you need to. When your boss gives you negative feedback and you catch yourself thinking, “He hates me! I’m about to be fired! I’m so deep in debt, I can’t lose this job!” try to shut down those thoughts before they run away with you.

    1. Olive

      Crying at the drop of a hat can be a sign of depression, though, so I’d approach that situation with care. You never know what’s going on.

      1. Rose

        Props to this!

        I’ve been short-term depressed for a few weeks now, mostly because of some recurring health issues and some personal hurdles going on. I can at least point to a circumstantial reason for the depression, but it’s even permeated parts of my life that area going well, and that’s hard.

        At the same time, I’ve had some tough stuff going on at work–kind of a chain of negative experiences. The first negative experience led to an embarrassing incident of messy tears, but since that day I’ve tried to keep it under control despite the depression. Unfortunately, I still get a little teary-eyed if something related to the ongoing problems happens. Nothing major, I just get tears in my eyes, maybe my voice breaks one time, and then I suppress it. But now I feel like I’ve gone from “that woman who can get through anything without getting emotional” to “that woman who cries at the drop of a hat”. I’m not a manager, but it’s still embarrassing.

        1. Laurel Gray

          Rose, thank you for sharing. I hope everything gets better! I get the feeling the OP’s boss may be going through something similar, but possibly in her personal life. Depression is one of those things that doesn’t leave when we want it to leave.

        2. Jesse

          Ugh, I had a similar run earlier this year, and I feel like I’m still trying to get my reputation back from it. It totally sucks — like you don’t feel bad enough already!

      2. Sarahnova

        I also went through a “crying at the drop of a hat” phase after miscarrying, when my hormones were haywire. (Some grief too, yes, but some plain old hormonal weirdness.)

      3. LeighTX

        This is what I was going to say–last year I was terribly unhappy at my job and it bled into everything, causing me to cry a lot and often for no real reason. I cried more at work in about a four-month span than I’d cried in the previous ten years. It was embarrassing and hard to control.

    2. Not Today Satan

      I thought Alison’s response was too easy on her and I think the letter writer should discuss it with a higher up sooner rather than later. I would *hate* working for someone who frequently cried–even if she’s not doing it purposely it’d be way uncomfortable and feel manipulative.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

        I hate when people are penalized for stuff leaking out of their eyes or even their eyes just filling up, especially because it affects one gender more than another. I’ve cried, rarely, at work in the long time I’ve been there, and I don’t feel apologetic about it in the least (even though it happened to be with a room full of men, peers and above who thought I should be apologetic about it.) I mostly told them they could bite me. Stuff leaks out of my eyes when I’m upset, deal with it.

        I don’t think people lower in the food chain should have to “deal with it” from a manager, especially if we’re talking about a crying scene or something, but there’s not a lot of detail about what actually happened.

        1. Eliza Jane

          Yeah, I really dislike the idea that it’s somehow worse for the people you work with the deal with your tears than for you to deal with the stress of not only feeling the emotion, but keeping it contained to where people can’t see it at all.

          In a situation where it is a manager, I would totally agree that the manager shouldn’t be having those kinds of meetings when he can’t control his emotions a bit, in large part because the manager has a lot of power to control timing of the meetings. But I’ve heard the same thing reversed, about an employee who cries, and how it’s not fair, because it makes it hard for his manager to do her job. The idea that other people’s unhappiness might make you uncomfortable, and therefore it’s incumbent on them to hide it at all times, just feels… awful to me.

        2. LBK

          It’s interesting that in the letters where we’ve looked at the flipside (manager not sure what to do about an employee who cries), people seem more willing to jump on the employee being manipulative, unprofessional, etc. Not to say that there aren’t people who also say “Just ignore it, it’s a thing that happens to some people and they can’t do anything about it” to those letters, but the responses generally seem to be kinder to this letter.

          I think it kind of depends on how the person reacts to it – if the manager is brushing it off saying “Oh my gosh, please just ignore!” and moves on, that’s one thing, but if she’s engaging in a full-on sob session…I don’t know if it really matters why she’s doing it. It’s kind of like missing work due to illness – yeah, it sucks and it’s not in your control, but at some point it’s just not feasible for the job anymore.

          1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

            IDK why people are so weird about tears, but then I don’t know any people who cry on purpose either. There aren’t many people who work with me who haven’t leaked tears or filled up in a one on one or small meeting. It’s usually frustration. It’s just NBD to me.

            I do get that if I leaked tears with people under me, and on a regular basis, that would make me look shaky.

            1. Anonicorn

              IDK why people are so weird about tears,

              Oh my gosh! *raises hand* I turn into the most awkward person ever when someone cries. I guess it’s because I don’t know how to react to it. Most of the time I offer to leave so the person can be alone and so I don’t have to deal with it, because I don’t know how to and because it probably has nothing to do with me. But I wouldn’t fault them for it unless it it were a habit or uncontrollable sobbing like LBK said.

              1. Ad Astra

                I’m fine with tears if I’m in a situation where I can hug that person. If hugging isn’t appropriate or desired, I am fresh out of responses.

                1. Ife

                  Oh man. If I’m tearing up but yet not crying I can usually get it under control with a few deep breaths. Unless somebody hugs me. A hug will open the floodgates!

              2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

                Interesting. I’m unfazed. Now I’m old, and pretty maternal (internally), but I don’t remember it being different when I was younger.

                I literally see it as water coming out of eyes and just one physical reaction out of many, akin to flushing red or whatever.

              3. LBK

                I had a woman burst into tears on the phone with me once and I had no clue what to do. It was really awkward – I basically just said “Okay, well…here’s my number if you have any questions” and then hung up.

              4. Sarahnova

                Since I’ve been doing work that is quite personal and emotional with people, tears are not uncommon (we had tissues in all the rooms for client work), and I’ve learned that one of the greatest gifts I can give someone is to be OK with their tears.

                If it is someone you want to support (friend/family/employee), here’s my approach: you don’t have to do anything. Just sit and breathe. If you feel you have to say something, just say, “Take your time”. After a few minutes you can offer them the chance to excuse themselves if they like.

                This will be uncomfortable for you the first few times. That’s OK; learning to breathe through that can be pretty liberating. Tears aren’t inherently scary.

                Just to be clear though, the above doesn’t apply when the cryer is your boss. I’m talking about a one-on-one conversation with a friend or perhaps someone who reports to you who is experiencing a tough time/frustration/whatever.

                1. Anonicorn

                  It’s different when it’s a friend or family member. But with a coworker or person I don’t know that well, it’s just about the most awkward situation ever. It’s good to know I don’t necessarily have to do anything.

                2. Sarahnova

                  My thinking’s really been shaped by something I read years back, about how in inpatient mental health units, comforting and soothing someone who is crying is a serious misstep because it’s considered an attempt to shut them up.

                  I don’t think there’s any need for most people to go that far, but it did get me to think about how most comforting is more about assuaging the feelings of the comforter than really helping the crier. Showing someone you are OK with their feelings and tears is a really big thing.

              5. Therapist

                Handing the crying person tissues is an action that acknowledges the moment without invading the individual’s space.

                For the offices that are hostile to leaking eyes, it can always be blamed on allergies. Today that is my problem ~ true story.

                1. Therapist

                  It reminds me of watching Saturday Night Live years ago, the character would say “I’m verklempt, talk among yourselves”.

          2. Ad Astra

            I suspect many of the regular commenters have evolved a little since the last “crying at work” post, and maybe that’s why we’re seeing more sympathy. But I can’t prove that.

            I agree that a graceful response to your own crying can make it easier for everyone else to handle the outpouring of emotions. I don’t have a problem with crying at work, but I would be concerned about an environment that fosters so many strong emotions. Is this a high-stress office? Do other people also express strong emotions? It’s possible the OP is especially bothered by crying, but if other people are often slamming stuff around or storming off, there could be a larger problem here.

    3. Anonymouss

      Yeah, bawling over lots of things would be too much.

      But if a fantastic employee is leaving and you’re announcing it to the group and get emotional (and again, the person isn’t crying over everything) and that’s considered making a part of business too personal?

      I’d have to disagree. For better or worse we spend significant portions of our lives with the people we work with. Attachment can and will happen. If someone were to get emotional over that I wouldn’t bat an eye at it, and it would NOT seem inappropriate to me.

      1. Charlotte Collins

        I had a manager get teary when she gave me my 5 years of service award while also announcing that I was leaving my position to go to a new one in the company. She said some very nice things about my work, too. I found it very sweet and touching. BUT she was not someone who I think I had ever seen tear up before, which made a difference.

        My next manager did cry to be manipulative. She once started loudly sobbing when a co-worker in a different city told her that her dog had died. (I get teary when people tell me this kind of stuff face-to-face, because they’re usually teary and I’m one of those “sympathetic criers.” However, this was told to her over the phone about a dog that she had never met. And she acted as if her own mother had died unexpectedly.) Between her and another person in the department who cried over everything (and admitted that she cried to manipulate her husband), I pretty much gave their tears the attention they deserved, which was none.

        1. Charlotte Collins

          Oh, and to be clear, my second manager was not suffering depression. This was only one example of how she was extremely manipulative. Also, a malingerer.

        2. MashaKasha

          I just lost a dog two months ago, and I’m like, What the what?! A dog only forms a bond with his or her pack (who would therefore be justified in crying when the dog dies.) Not with his or her pack members’ coworkers in other cities! So weird and probably uncomfortable for all of you in that office. Way to make another person’s loss all about herself, too.

    4. TootsNYC

      Having been someone who was suddenly crying at work, I would probably be saying to my boss, “Are you all right? You seem to be crying a lot recently, and it worried me. I know when I had my depression, that was one of my symptoms, this emotionality. I hope you’re OK, but if you think you might not be, please reach out for help. It’s out there, and it’s easier than you think. We have an EAP, so you can just call them. I worry about you.”

    5. Stranger than fiction

      I’m not convinced she was even crying because the coworker quit, it sounds like she’s crying a lot and having some issues, and that just triggered another bout of it. Depending on their relationship, maybe the Op can simply say “Is everything ok? I couldn’t help overhearing”.

      1. Anonymous Crier

        Having been exactly this boss, who was crying in personal overwhelmed-ness in professional discussions with folks who worked for me, I can say that for me it was part of a bigger overall, essentially, mental breakdown (depression and anxiety). In my case, having someone say to me that it was getting in the way of their being able to have a conversation with me and she couldn’t effectively do her work, put me on the path to now a way, way better place. I don’t know how true that would be for everyone– but it seems like gently asking if he/she is okay, and saying that you’d like to help as it’s affecting the productivity of the work is something that is at least necessary, if not actively helpful to your boss. It’s easy to lose sight of your impact on others when you’re in such a bad headspace like I was, so it might help out your boss to know how his/her actions are affecting others.

        1. TootsNYC

          It’s also easy to lose sight of the idea that help is out there, when you’re in such a bad headspace.

          When I was at crisis in my depression, a lady from my church became my lifeline. She called me every night for about a month, and it took a couple of weeks before I realized that she was on Suicide Prevention/Patrol.

          I don’t know that the risk was that high, but it was clear that she was going out of her way to help me. I’ve vowed to repay her by talking about depression and other mental issues as if they’re ordinary things like, oh, tennis elbow. And to encourage anyone around me who seems troubled to seek out help BEFORE it gets bad.

  9. Panda Bandit

    #5 – It’s never happened to me but I’d be tempted to send him a picture of something gross, then block him.

  10. dragonzflame

    #5 – I once had a guy add me on LI, telling me how beautiful I was and how he’d like to get to know me better. I didn’t get as far as accepting the invitation before blocking him (ew) but I have accepted invitations from people who then promptly sent me offer-you-can’t-refuse messages, and I’ve deleted and blocked them, too.

    My personal policy on LI is now to add them only if they are connected to others in my network whom I trust, or if I know them personally. I won’t collect contacts for the sake of numbers.

    1. Sarahnova

      Yep. I delete all contact requests from men I don’t know personally unless they’re in my field AND connected to a contact of mine, and if anybody got relationshippy with me on there, delete delete delete, baby.

    2. Stranger than fiction

      Ugh, I just remembered, a guy I went out with a couple of times like 9 years ago, is still semi-stalking me by emailing me “Hi” on occasion, and last year, I noticed he had connected with a couple coworker of mine on LI! I told my coworkers he was creepy and stalkery and to delete him as a connection.

  11. Little Teapot

    OP2, I definitely need more context. Why would you say that? What response did you want/expect? I too hate the ‘I’m fat’ game, but a work situation is NOT the place to play it!

  12. Ann Furthermore

    #1: Women are held to an unfair double standard when it comes to showing any kind of emotion in the workplace. In my case, tears are caused by being terribly angry or frustrated about something. And it has to be really, really extreme to get me to that point. In fact it happened on Friday for the first time in about 7 years, when I was essentially coerced and browbeaten into traveling to support ERP users for their month-end close, after doing that last month and enduring the absolute worst week of my entire career. Being told that I was going to be subjected to it all over again absolutely infuriated me, and sent me scurrying into the ladies room so I at least wouldn’t be seen crying at my desk. People remember things like that.

    On the other hand, last year the parent company I work for announced that they will be sending all of their accounting jobs offshore (deplorable and incredibly stupid decision made by some jackass in a corner office looking to up their bonus payout). When our CFO made the announcement, at the end of last year, he was very emotional (didn’t cry, but was visibility upset and on the verge of tears), and I’ve heard several people cite that incident as proof that he *really* cares about the people in the organization. Had a woman reacted that way, I’m pretty sure people wouldn’t talk about that incident so reverently. And I’m not saying he doesn’t care; I’m sure he does. No one wants to deliver that kind of news to anyone, or think about people losing their jobs and struggling to support themselves and/or their families.

    Conversely, there was another meeting last week where more about of the details were shared, including dates and the announcement that everyone is expected to job shadow and train the people who will be getting their jobs. Lovely. This message was delivered by a director from the German office, in his very forthright, no-nonsense German way, and he was roundly criticized for not being sensitive enough to the people who will eventually be losing their jobs.

    1. Sarahnova

      I totally hear you on the “crying in frustration” thing, and the double standard applied. Ann, this may be super presumptuous of me, but I found that working in therapy on how to be more assertive earlier in situations really made an unexpected difference in that area. I’ve found that as I’ve become much more able to say “I’m not really happy about that” earlier in situations rather than putting pressure on myself to swallow my feelings, my “crying in frustration” has decreased 100%. But I don’t know your situation, so YMMV.

      1. Ann Furthermore

        I appreciate the input. I used to be intimidated by dong this. In my late 20’s and 30’s I had to start forcing myself to do it, and it got a little easier each time. Then after I turned 40 it was like a switch flipped and suddenly I had no problem speaking up for myself — my threshold for BS and the amount of it I was willing to tolerate went waaaaay down, and I was not shy about letting people know that. LOL.

        1. Ann Furthermore

          Forgot to add that this is an extremely, deeply, totally effed up situation, and everyone involved is aware of that. And everyone under the sun is aware of my feelings on the issue.

          They think they can mollify and placate me by telling me, “[CFO] really respects and values your expertise.” Yeah, I recognize a stroke job when I see one. If he really valued my expertise, he’d tell his team to listen to my advice and follow my guidance, instead of letting it all go in one ear and out the other, and ignoring everything I say. And then getting upset and wringing their hands when things go to hell in a handbasket, and pointing the finger back at us.

          Ugh….must…..pull…..back.

          1. Sarahnova

            Ugh, my deepest sympathies. I hope you are able to not be in this situation soon, in whatever form that takes for you.

            1. Ann Furthermore

              Thank you. It will resolve itself, one way or another. Either my manager will free me from the clutches of this succubus of a group, or I will find another job.

    2. Eliza Jane

      I totally agree with this statement, particularly since there is no way for a woman to win this game. Emotions are real, and in stressful times, they WILL show. There are different ways that can happen. One is crying, one is getting aggressive and loud, one is going detached and clinical. When a man is detached and clinical, he’s logical and professional. When a woman is, she’s cold and frigid. When a man is aggressive and loud, he’s a go-getter. When it’s a woman, she’s a domineering bitch. When a man cries, he really cares. When a woman cries, she’s overreacting and emotional. There is literally NO WAY for us to not get the shit end, and we frequently get more than one at the same time, depending on the balance of our emotional expression and other people’s tolerance for it.

      Obviously, it’s not okay to bawl like a 2-year-old in your office because you ran out of staplers, but I have absolutely cried in the office, in the “my eyes are leaking because I’m running off of 4 hours of sleep a day and I’m here until 10PM again because Bob screwed up the damn build and we promised a delivery, and now we have to wait for our team in China to show up and step through the QA process because the Ukraine team is long gone, and we have to check off the boxes so I can initial them and we can deploy and they’ll be ready at 3AM when management in Berlin needs it” way.

      Emotions don’t have an off switch. We can control how we display them to a certain extent, but there are actual physical limitations to our ability to do it forever. And there are physical consequences to bottling things up. Maybe it’s time to embrace the idea that people we work with are human beings, and not expect them to be robots.

      1. Laurel Gray

        “I totally agree with this statement, particularly since there is no way for a woman to win this game. Emotions are real, and in stressful times, they WILL show. There are different ways that can happen. One is crying, one is getting aggressive and loud, one is going detached and clinical. When a man is detached and clinical, he’s logical and professional. When a woman is, she’s cold and frigid. When a man is aggressive and loud, he’s a go-getter. When it’s a woman, she’s a domineering bitch. When a man cries, he really cares. When a woman cries, she’s overreacting and emotional. There is literally NO WAY for us to not get the shit end, and we frequently get more than one at the same time, depending on the balance of our emotional expression and other people’s tolerance for it.”

        ALL OF THIS. ABSOLUTELY ALL OF IT!!!

      2. fposte

        Though this is going for the expressing emotions = lancing a boil theory, and there’s some really good research to suggest it’s not that simple and that letting it go instead of expressing it can actually be better. I also think there are ways of expressing emotions that you’re not including–you don’t have to be cold and clinical to say in frustration “This makes me incredibly frustrated!” and that generally is going to work better in an office than crying.

        I don’t think it’s a big deal for people to cry at work sometimes, but if I had a report who had cried in front of her staff one or two times every month this year, I’d have concerns.

        1. Laurel Gray

          Fposte, when you quantify the crying this way (2 cries x 12 months = 24 cries in a year!!!) I think I definitely have to agree with you and think it is time for BigBoss to speak to boss about an EAP and other options even if it means dealing with them during regular working hours. But I guess that would mean the OP would have to go over boss’ head and speak to BigBoss, which is probably necessary at this point anyway.

          1. fposte

            It’s a really awkward position for a staffer, that’s for sure. would feel like a big meanie saying “My boss keeps crying and I wish she would stop.” But I’d really wish she would stop.

        2. LBK

          This is a really excellent point. You can express emotions in the office but you’re expected to do it with words, which goes for the full range of emotions. It’s not really appropriate to scream at people when you’re angry/frustrated either even though that’s probably the natural emotional reaction most people would have to anger. I can’t think of an equivalent for happiness (jumping up and down, maybe?) but I’d say if there were one it probably wouldn’t be appropriate either.

        3. Eliza Jane

          So, I totally understand this, and letting it go is better than expressing it. But suppressing it when you can’t just let it go is worse than either.

          I think I was probably reading the crying differently from you — my read of “this year” was “in the last 12 months,” rather than “in 2015,” and I also interpreted “I’ve seen her cry” as more of a “we’ve been aware that she’s crying” rather than “she’s breaking down and crying in meetings with us.”

          I would also note that I have worked in places where saying, “This makes me incredibly frustrated” would be viewed very negatively, as if I was whining or not wanting to do my job or talking back. In some places, the fact that crying is a physical reaction is more forgiveable, because while it means I’m weak, at least I’m not *trying* to make my problems other people’s problems.

          1. fposte

            I’m genuinely curious–have people said that to you in so many words, or is that a general feeling? Because downthread you talk about feeling like visibly crying is likely to hold you back, so I’m wondering if it’s worth experimenting with stating your frustration instead if you haven’t been explicitly told that it’s a bad idea.

            I do think people, especially women, aren’t taught the skills to self-soothe and avoid crying and are instead encouraged to cry, and that then means a lot of us think that because we don’t know how to stop or retrain ourselves that it’s impossible to do so. Which sucks, because, as you note, it can interfere with your work in some fields if you can’t find a way to redirect.

            1. Sarahnova

              See, to some extent I’d challenge the idea that it’s necessary to avoid crying. Crying can be therapeutic and often makes the crier feel better. I do try to avoid doing it at work, because it’s a stigmatised response that makes many people disproportionately uncomfortable, but in your personal life, if crying helps you, go ahead and cry.

            2. Eliza Jane

              I have been told that in as many words, in “I don’t care if you’re frustrated, we’re all frustrated, this is the reality we have to deal with and complaining is dragging down the team.”

              1. fposte

                Presuming you’re only saying a single quick “Geez, this is so frustrating!” and then continuing with the topic, I think they’re out of line. But are you saying that in the same situation they’re okay if you cry? But they hold crying against you later or something?

                Sorry, I don’t mean to interrogate you, but the pattern isn’t making sense to me.

                1. fposte

                  Just to be clear, it may not make sense to you either–it’s quite possible they’re just not making sense, period.

                2. Eliza Jane

                  I don’t cry often, and when I do, as I said below, it’s a purely physical reaction, without a big spectacle attached to it.

                  So when I’m in a frustrating situation, rather than expressing the emotions verbally, which has gotten bad reactions, I bottle it in. By the time I’m at the stage where I’m going to start leaking, which is nowhere near as often as I am having feelings of profound frustration, I am no longer at a point where I can talk about the emotion without losing control, so I suppress and shove it back and end up with tears running from my eyes without crying noises or an effect on my performance.

                  The best analogy that I can come up with is a pressure release system. In order for it to work, you need to trigger a pressure release much more often than you actually have exploding teapots, right? So if the verbal expressions of emotion are pressure release, they would happen more often than the tears, which are a result of not letting that emotion out.

                  There’s also the aspect that when I express frustration verbally in a tense moment, it is like giving permission for everyone to do the same, and then the conversation can devolve into everyone venting. When I’m crying, it’s a thing that’s happening to my body, and it doesn’t actively demand a response. My tears aren’t making it impossible for me to write code or send emails or even have a conversation. They’re just a physical thing that’s happening to me. In fact, any attempt I make to stop them WILL affect my productivity, whether its staring at a light or trying to think of something else or stepping away to the bathroom for 10 minutes. If everyone could treat tears like they treat sneezing (pass the kleenex, move on with the conversation, unless the person is unable to focus because of it), I think we’d be better off overall.

                  I really don’t cry often at work. I used to do it a lot more when I was in a very toxic workplace, but now it’s maybe 1-2 times a year, usually when I’m overworked to the point of exhaustion, and feel out of control in my environment. There’s no way to deal with the overworked and exhausted except to get through it, and the judgment that’s attached to what I really feel is a physical response feels excessive.

                3. fposte

                  I personally don’t think the occasional cry in a workplace is a bad thing; I don’t agree with people who say it’s never acceptable in any workplace.

                  But I think it’s like anything you want other people to accept; it can make sense to you to want that, but people are still going to react to raised voices, microwaved fish, tears, etc. Anything you can do to frame it to your co-workers might help, too. I don’t know your field and how much of a problem this is considered generally there, but there are fields where I think it’s fair for crying to hold people back if it can’t be restricted to appropriate times–health care, aviation, communication, etc. If you’re within a field like that and really are finding this an obstacle, I’d consider exploring CBT to see if you can find ways to change your response to one that works better for your profession.

        4. Ann Furthermore

          You know, I went back and re-read the letter and missed the part where the OP said she’s witnessed her boss crying at work 10 times already this year. That’s pretty bad, and is indicative of someone who is either immature or is unable to control her emotions. I think crying 10 times over the course of your entire career is more in the realm of acceptable than crying 10 times a year — and the year’s only about 2/3 of the way done!

        5. Anna

          The issue that I have with this letter is I’m not entirely sure what ball the OP has in the game. The OP says they’re angry because it put the coworker in an awkward position for feeling guilty about causing an emotional response. 1. Why are you angry? It has nothing to do with you. Anger tends to be a secondary emotion that comes from another feeling. Is the OP angry because it made them feel uncomfortable to see crying? The OP’s discomfort and anger is really their own emotional response to manage. 2. Why does the coworker feel guilty? That feels a bit codependent and again, it’s up to the coworker to manage their own feelings around this. Getting upset isn’t great, but I have more concerns about the emotional investment everyone mentioned in the letter seems to have in these situations.

      3. shirley cakes

        Absolutely agree with, “Emotions don’t have an off switch. We can control how we display them to a certain extent, but there are actual physical limitations to our ability to do it forever. And there are physical consequences to bottling things up. Maybe it’s time to embrace the idea that people we work with are human beings, and not expect them to be robots.”

        There are so many factors that go into someone having an emotional moment at work – illness/depression, personal circumstances, hormones – that are usually more than just the work. Two of my wonderful employees gave their notice yesterday and I’m feeling quite overwhelmed today in both my personal and professional life. I had something additional delegated to my already full place this morning and I felt my eyes fill up in frustration and anxiety.

        As the boss, it’s my responsibility (no matter my gender) to buck up and get my emotions to a controllable place and to step away so I don’t make the team uncomfortable. I chose to take few minutes alone in the ladies room to gather myself, take some deep breaths and make sure I could put it aside until I can deal with the real issues at hand and take some time later to unparcel my emotions at home.

    3. JGray

      I agree there is a double standard for women and men generally get a pass for any emotion or lack there of. I wonder if the LW should talk to her boss. She can say what Alison suggested and perhaps she will discover some things about her boss she didn’t know. Sometimes personal things spill over into work life or perhaps the manager knows about a big change that she knows is coming for her works. When anyone cries it is hard no matter the situation but I think that a little more understanding will go a long way.

      1. some1

        I wouldn’t agree that “men get a pass for any emotion”. Lots of people think men are weak for crying about anything except death. Sexism hurts men, too!

        1. fposte

          And emotion isn’t just sadness–a lot if people react really negatively to anger, especially from men.

    4. Goliath Gary Willikers

      I recall reading a study years ago that basically confirmed this double standard’s existence. It was around the time of the 2008 US elections, and the researchers showed tapes of male and female politicians tearing up in speeches, interviews, etc, and asked participants their reactions. Participants overwhelmingly said that tears made the male politicians look genuine and empathetic, while the female politicians seemed weak and manipulative. Some of this may be down to people’s pre-existing biases about those politicians (I think two of them were Obama and Hillary, for example), but it was still striking.

      1. LBK

        Now all I can think of is the episode of Veep where Selina’s team is trying to manipulate her into crying the exact right amount of times on camera so as to appear sympathetic but not unstable.

      2. Nom d' Pixel

        I remember the press jumping all over Hillary for tearing up when she thought she was losing the nomination in 2008, but Bohner cried like a baby in every interview he did until people started making fun of him for it.

  13. NJ anon

    #2 A game one of my friends played in high school all.the.time. She was drop dead gorgeous and would stand in front of the mirror and say how ugly she was. We played once or twice and then stopped playing. After that she just got eye-rolls. As others have stated, why would you even say it? If you are fat, why announce it? If you’re not, you’re fishing for a compliment. Knock it off!

  14. Anonymous for this one

    #2 I feel like I need more, but the answer is sort of the same. If it was a compliment fishing expedition, then it was a rude way of answering it, but those expeditions don’t belong at work anyways, so observe that and move on. If it was like, in bigger conversation about something else*, it’s of course rude to conflate food or diet and size, but I think you still just need to let it go because I don’t think it’s the hill to die on at work.

    *I tend to use fat – or try to anyways – in a very flat, humorous or what not way, to deflate it’s weight (ha) when taking about size. As a neutral counterpart to “thin.” I also get asked very, very frequently if I’m pregnant (not, never have been) and to turn the awkwardness around, I’ve just started replying in a cheery tone that I’m just fat. If I was relaying that story of “So and so was in and congratulated me on being pregnant so I said I wasn’t, just fast!” and then someone said it was because I ate garbage, I’d probably be offended, but wouldn’t likely get into it at work.

    1. Blue_eyes

      This! I don’t understand everyone who is jumping to the conclusion that the OP was playing games. I do the same as you a cheerfully own my fatness. If I mentioned matter-of-factly that I was fat, I would be pretty pissed if someone turned that in to a chance to judge my diet. What I put in my body is no one’s business but my own, thanks.

      1. Chickaletta

        So, out of curiosity, how do you think people should respond to your comments you make about your weight?

  15. The Other Dawn

    #2 Saying “I’m fat” to your manager just seems so totally out of left field. How does that even come up? Was there a clothing or fitness discussion going on? What would make you say this to your manager?

    If one of my team members said that to me I’d be like, “Um….so….does that mean you can’t mix the ganache to coat the teapots today??”

  16. AvonLady Barksdale

    #3: I got my first post-grad school job because a person who interviewed me and didn’t hire me passed my resume to his colleagues. He was a VP and not a peer, but if he had been and had reached out in the way you’re suggesting, I would have been interested and grateful. It can be a delicate situation– after all, they just lost out on a job they presumably wanted– but if you handle things with sensitivity and enthusiasm, I think your idea to reach out to them is a great one.

  17. Allison

    #5, I was hit on at one point, and I forget what I did about it at first but then I noticed someone on my news feed (maybe the same guy?) posted a status about how he wanted to marry an American woman so he could live and work in the US. It occurred to me then that, to some fraction of men, their marriage prospects are linked to their job prospects in a way, and that’s why they might use LI that way.

    And I did, eventually, delete and block the person who sent me the inappropriate message and the guy who posted the status. Still can’t remember if they were one in the same or different men.

    Or they assume that women, even in a professional context, are first in foremost there for men to hit on. Ick.

    And some people use it as a dating site because it’s their main social networking site, so they hit on women there for the same reason us youngins sometimes hit on people on Facebook.

  18. Allison

    #2, I played the “I’m fat” game in middle school and into high school. Sometimes I was legitimately insecure and tried going on crash diets, other times I really did want my friends to tell me I wasn’t fat. Either way, I stopped making comments about my weight. Sure, sometimes after a week of eating a lot of cheese and not dancing I might feel like I’ve put on an extra pound or two, but who cares? Really, most people don’t really take notice of your body size unless you’re dangerously underweight or obese. Self-deprecating comments tend to do nothing but make people feel uncomfortable around you, because people wonder what reaction you’re trying to get. Not only do they signal to others that you’re insecure, but encourage body hatred of others.

    1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec

      Re: self deprecating comments: I see what you mean in this context, but I use self-deprecating humor all the time (about how I’m always dropping things, I’m easily angered by the copier, etc). I think other people find it funny – I find these things funny about myself – and it makes me (as the boss) more human. I am certainly not fishing for compliments, and I don’t think these things relate to my worth as a human. I’m curious where others see the line?

      1. Dana

        I don’t know about anyone else, but the line for me is saying something about myself other people wouldn’t say.
        Me: “I’m so clumsy”
        Other people: “You’re pretty clumsy”
        (reads to me not that bad)

        Me: “I’m such a stupid idiot who can’t ever do anything right”
        Other people: “You’re an idiot who can’t do anything right”
        (OUCH)

        1. fposte

          Oh, I really like this. It’s tough to articulate the difference between being willing to laugh at yourself and cutting yourself down, and this is really helpful.

      2. Mpls

        Behavior vs physical attributes? Physical things are (usually) evident upon sight. Behavior requires an action to demonstrate.

      3. Dang

        I’m down with self-deprecating humor, but I felt really awkward at this conversation with a coworker:

        Me: so, you moved here not too long ago for the job?
        Her: yes. So I have no friends.

        I mean I’d say something like that to an acquaintance as a joke, but I barely knew her and it was just… awkward and I have no idea what I was supposed to say to that?

  19. swedishandful

    #2 If I were in your boss’ shoes, unless you were asking for advice or she thought you had lost sense of reality, she should not have engaged you on your statement. However you think about yourself is your business, and nobody elses. There’s nothing worse than someone trying to convince me, disingenuously, about something that I know about myself – be it eating habits, procreation related wishes, body image, whatever.

    But she did. And in a candid way. Was she tactful? Not particularly. Most people probably would have been offended in your situation.

    The silver lining: your manager probably has a lot of integrity. Even if she’s a bit rough around the edges at least you know you’re getting the truth.

  20. TotesMaGoats

    #1-I’m getting a lot of anger and judgement out of you on this topic. You have no idea what’s going on with your boss and why she might be more emotional recently than before. You seem to be painting it as a character flaw instead of concern for a colleague. As a culture we view crying at work as a pretty big no-no in most situations. I get that and we all try not to but you don’t know what’s going on in her life. She could be dealing with mental health issues or hormonal issues or just stress that’s overwhelming. Seeing your boss cry, even frequently, shouldn’t be so off-putting that you can’t get your work done. I’d say it’s far less impacting than a boss who screams all the time. Show a little compassion.

    #2-Why on earth would you say that to your boss? Not the best response on her part but what were you looking for?

    1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec

      You know, I am pretty tolerant of crying. When people apologize, I normally lightly say something like “it’s really okay with me that you are a human being who has feelings.” On the other hand, I’m their boss, and it would be different if they were crying with the people they supervise. Unfortunately, a crying boss can make people afraid to share feedback or bad news, and that’s not good for the team. If I were aware of this, I would first try to talk to the employee about what was going on, and if it sounded too personal, I’d do an EAP referral or suggest a therapist. Compassion, absolutely. But I’m not sure it’s necessary to just let it go.

      Now, I don’t think OP should make these suggestions, but unless boss’s boss lacks compassion, it might turn out to be helpful to this manager and to the team.

      1. Anon For Crying

        I’m with you. I think there are many situations when being exposed to a grown person crying (such as when the grown person is your boss and is crying because your teammate has just given notice) makes people extremely uncomfortable and willing to go to any lengths to make the crying go away or not happen again. It’s not as big of a tantrum as screaming, but it’s an uncontrolled display of emotions nonetheless.

        I had an ex who cried at the drop of a hat. I am a straight woman. It was unnerving as all get out. He’s an ex because one day out of the blue, he dumped me. He cried when he did so. I remember feeling guilty, uncomfortable, and willing to say or do anything to make him stop. I actually told him he deserved better than me. I only said it because I felt I was being emotionally blackmailed at the moment. Because in a lot of situations, that’s what crying feels like, emotional blackmail. I can’t imagine how OP1’s teammate must’ve felt when their resignation notice was met with boss’s tears.

        1. Amy

          He broke up with me, too. And cried – and I found myself comforting him. There, there, you’ll be OK – hugging him and putting my arm around his shoulder while he was sobbing, and awkwardly gathering up his cellphone charger and toothbrush and whatever while he cried and then I found myself giving him a variation on the “there’s other fish in the sea” talk as I walked him out the door. It was the most bizarre break-up ever, and he’s either the break-up mastermind genius or he was just really sad about it, but I was flummoxed, I tell you.

          1. Anon For Crying

            Mine had first packed all my things from his place, driven to our regular mid-week date-night meeting location (35-40 mile drive for each of us), went through with the date without saying a word (picnic dinner and a hike). So I’d say it was pretty premeditated. Then when I was about to say “good night, see you in a few days”, he started breaking up with me and crying, while also opening his trunk and giving me the bag with my stuff. I was so caught up in comforting him, I had no idea how I felt about any of that until I was well on my drive home. Very bizarre, but hey, sounds like it works for them! I guess it’s a lot less drama when the other person is thoroughly shocked and confused. You say your part and leave before they even realize what’s happening.

    2. A Fish in the Sea

      I’m gambling it’s hormonal too. Maybe she’s pregnant. Maybe she switched to a new birth control or just entered menopause.

      The OP pities the crying boss, but it is disrupting the office. So someone needs to say something, with compassion.

      1. Charlotte Collins

        I’ve seen people cry in the office and a lot of the time, I completely understood and sympathized with them. But if the boss cries over every piece of slightly upsetting news, it’s not helping anyone and does need to be addressed.

        I’ve also seen people cry over things that I completely did not understand. My response was just confusion.

  21. Not Karen

    #1: I’m not sure what you expect to happen. It’s not like she can suddenly learn to stop crying.

    1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec

      Sure, but maybe there is a personal problem that is impacting her work, and the boss’s boss could make an EAP referral. I’ve had great success with EAP referrals. Most recently, the person I referred followed up with me to say that she didn’t realize how depressed she had been (understandably difficult recent life event) and that the EAP therapist helped her see that things could get better (and referred her to a doctor and therapist). Prior to this, she was attributing her moods to work stress, which, in context, seemed quite disproportionate. I don’t think the goal is to eliminate all crying, but when there is a strong pattern, it can turn out to be helpful to notice it and offer support (including outside support).

      1. Jesse

        So proud of myself! I’ve been meaning to call my EAP for months, and finally just did it right now! So thanks to all for mentioning it on this thread.

    2. fposte

      And there are indeed things people can do to avert crying, whether it be the physical tricks people talk about upthread or CBT. Crying isn’t an immutable response, and its frequency and amount are culturally learned, not just pre-programmed. You really can repattern that.

      1. Not me

        Even when you can’t stop it, you can leave the room for a few minutes, stay calm and explain that you cry easily, etc. I think I’ve seen people write in from the other side of this question, actually, and commenters gave great advice! …I just can’t remember where to find those posts. I’ll look later.

  22. Eliza Jane

    #1: Presuming that the issue isn’t with the noise involved, it sounds like your boss’s crying is upsetting you and making it hard for you to focus on your work. Which means that what is happening is that you’re having an emotional reaction to her crying which is interfering with your work. I wish that as a culture we could reframe this dialogue, which happens in all sorts of contexts, not just the crying-at-work conversation. Both parties in this are having an emotional reaction. Hers is to some triggering event. Yours is to her response to that triggering event. Why do we assume it’s easier or more correct for her to learn to deal with her emotional reaction than for you to learn to deal with yours? Is her emotional reaction interfering with her ability to do her job, or is your emotional reaction interfering with your ability to do your job? Is it both? Is it neither?

    1. fposte

      Because she’s the boss, for one, and she has responsibilities her staffer doesn’t.

      I agree that it would be great if people could take crying and raised voices more in stride sometimes, but in general, overt displays of emotion are going to elicit emotional responses–that’s evolutionarily why they happen. And emotional responses are usually going to be antithetical to work, so you really don’t want to elicit your staff’s personal emotional responses, whether it be alarm or rage or sadness, with frequency at work; that’s a speedy way to burn them out and give them job stress.

    2. Katie the Fed

      Part of the responsibility of being a leader is giving the impression things are under control, even if you’re freaking out. Your team looks to you for cues – you have to demonstrate that things are under control and being handled well – otherwise they start to get nervous and focus their energy on worrying and speculating.

      Imagine being on a plane and your flight attendant starts freaking out about turbulence – wouldn’t that make you panic too? I look to them for assurance that things are normal – if they’re losing their cool I’m going to freak the heck out.

      1. MashaKasha

        I found it crucial to even being a parent and a head of a family. Much more so when you’re in a leadership position at work, I would imagine!

        And you’re absolutely right! In our economy there’s always the expectation of shit hitting the fan, because everyone has seen it happen so many times at their other jobs. My boss is a stoic man – if I saw him crying in his office because a teammate of mine was leaving, I guarantee you the first thing to run through my head would be “Oh noes we’re doomed we’re doomed THE COMPANY’S ABOUT TO GO OUT OF BUSINESS AND NOBODY’S TELLING US AND THAT IS PROBABLY WHY BOB IS LEAVING TOO”. Upset, yes. Saddened about losing a team member and possibly becoming shortstaffed, yes. That is all totally understandable. But crying would set my alarm bells off like crazy!

      2. Eliza Jane

        I understand where you’re coming from with this. I really do. I guess I’m just reacting with a strong negative push because I feel like this stupid “ability to keep your eyes from leaking” is treated like such an integral part of management skills, which are basically needed if you want to move ahead in pretty much any professional office. It’s so hard to move to the next level without being in charge of people, and if control over your physical responses to frustration are crucial to being in charge, then there are some people who are never, ever going to be able to do it. I am totally capable of working while my emotions are running high. I can talk to people. I can keep my voice calm and level. I can make decisions. I can plan and execute. On the phone, you’d never know I was crying. But I can’t stop my eyes from leaking. And sometimes, I can’t afford to take the break I would need to push past it, because we are on a tight deadline. And I hate that this is apparently disqualifying me from moving ahead in a high-pressure world.

        1. fposte

          But it’s not just about how you are, it’s about your effect on other people. Think if you were somebody who were totally capable of working effectively while yelling really loud and angrily. That’s something that affects other people even if you’re fine.

          1. Eliza Jane

            Right, but that’s why I started with the question of “maybe consider why you’re having an emotional reaction to her emotional reaction.” I understand that other people may be impacted by it, but as with a lot of things, I wish we could ask people to be more accepting. If the manager was writing in to say, “Hey, my people get upset when I cry,” I could see saying, “Okay, so: maybe try not to cry so much?”

            But when someone writes in saying, “Other people are getting emotional and it’s affecting my ability to work,” I think there’s value in saying, “Can we think about how to work with people who are displaying emotion?” instead of just saying, “Well, they shouldn’t be doing that.”

            I am not a manager. And I don’t know if I’d be a good one, regardless. But I think it’s important to point out that the person angry and put-off by the tears (to quote from the original mail) is also having an emotional reaction, and to ask whether they could learn to not be bothered by it. I do think this thing about tears is a weird hang-up for us to have, culturally.

            1. Katie the Fed

              OP sounds like she’s angry at the impact of the crying, not the crying itself. If a colleague leaving feels guilty about it because the manager can’t handle it – that’s a problem. It would annoy me too.

            2. fposte

              I think it’s more than a cultural thing, though; the whole point of crying, evolutionarily, is signaling distress, so it’s not simply a question of changing a workplace more but fighting against some serious hard-wiring. It can be done, of course, but it’s like getting over jumping at loud noises and gagging at sewage stench–for most people, it takes some work and time to do that, and usually it’s because it’s key to their work or life that they do. I think that’s a lot to ask of people who are co-workers, but I think you can at least explain it to them up front so they have some context.

        2. Katie the Fed

          I think it’s something you’re going to have to get a handle on somehow, because it will affect how you’re perceived professionally. Unfortunately, someone in a leadership position who cries frequently is going to give the impression that she doesn’t have everything under control.

    3. Not me

      I think part of being a manager is being calm and reliable. I don’t mean that a manager should always have to be stoic or emotionless, either. Your emotional well-being is important but it isn’t a responsibility that your employees should carry.

      1. Charlotte Collins

        I agree. What if her response to bad news was to always get angry and start yelling? It’s a valid emotion, but not a valid way of handling it, and it will affect how staff interacts with her and perceives her.

        1. fposte

          Yes, I like the yelling analogy myself, because a lot of times people who are comfortable with crying aren’t with yelling and vice versa, so it helps illustrate how distressing it can be to be in the presence of a big emotional signifier.

  23. Owl

    I clicked the link that Alison provided in the last response, which is about why you shouldn’t use LinkedIn as a dating site . . . the post itself is fine of course, but the comments, oh my god. I want to strangle that Tom Collins guy.

    1. Allison

      I went back to that thread and tried to read Tom’s comments. I think I read those comments when the thread was active, it feels awfully familiar, but ugh . . . why did I do that to myself?

    2. Sarahnova

      Yeah, I ended up going back through that thread too, and being all “Ugh, thanks for being today’s poster boy for mansplaining, Tom Collins”.

      I actually responded back in that thread, but evidently the whole thing was so much yuck that I then blocked the memory in self-defence.

      1. Sarahnova

        Speaking of which, commenter who objected to use of the word “mansplaining” recently? Tom Collins is why we have the word “mansplaining”. Tom Collins telling a dozen female commenters that their lived experiences weren’t problems, and the things we said were problems for us weren’t problems, and all we needed to do was stop making a fuss and get our pretty heads on straight, is why we have the word “mansplaining”.

  24. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees

    1. I don’t know if you’ve worked there long enough to notice a long-term pattern with your boss, but is the crying a new development? If a normally level-headed person starts crying a lot at work it would seem to indicate outside stressors. A previous manager I had went from friendly-yet-aloof with us to frequently needing to excuse herself to cry after her mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer. While it was off putting to all of us (especially if we accidentally set her off with something innocuous like “the chocolate vendor gave us extra for samples”) we knew what was happening and could adjust our responses appropriately.

    2. While the comment was rude regardless, if you are indeed playing the “I’m fat” game looking for validation it seems you walked into it. If you were making a statement of fact where you were expecting agreement but not a lifestyle judgement then it seems extra inappropriate and rude but there’s probably nothing you can do about it except make sure the topic never comes up again.

    4. It was very jarring the first time my boss passed along an employment opportunity to me, but his intentions were good. I’m underemployed in a field where upward mobility is gotten by institution hopping or waiting patiently for someone to retire. In this case he means it as a compliment in that he things I have a future in the field though I always have that underlying thought of “wait, are you trying to get rid of me??” The other details of your situation should inform what exactly your boss’ intentions are.

    1. Erin

      Re #4 – I had a similar experience at a prior job. My boss was basically like, I love having you here, for selfish reasons I want to keep you, but there is no growth for you here. He didn’t exactly show me job ads, but he gave me a flashdrive to backup work I did for the company to use in my personal portfolio…to at some point get another job.

      I hope this is the case for the OP, but I feel like if it was she would already pick up on that. But since she hasn’t been at the job for that long, maybe not. Or it could be that the manager herself is soon leaving and was gently saying “Get out while you can!”

      If you *really* want to know OP you’ll just have to ask. =P

  25. Erin

    #2 – You didn’t provide the context behind your initial “I’m fat” statement, and as others have pointed out, it may have been a situation where you not fishing for a “of course you’re not” response, but…it really looks that way. Your manager was out of line either way, for sure. But you did comment on your body first, thus inviting others to do so. You both erred, but you erred first.

    #5 – Ugh, yeah just don’t engage at all.

  26. MsM

    #5 – While I agree that just blocking is the best response, I’d be tempted to ask where in my profile it indicates I’m looking for random hookups so I can edit it.

  27. Laurel Gray

    Re: Crying in the workplace

    I am not only comfortable with this, I understand and do my best to make the crier more at ease/less embarrassed. I’ve been the person colleagues cry to both inside and outside of work regarding work related things and it is completely understandable. Our jobs are tied to our livelihood – our ability to keep a roof over our head, food in our mouth, clothes on our back, Sallie Mae at bay for another month. Sometimes we reach a breaking point – horrible boss, horrible client, shit show project, toxic coworker – whatever it may be. Even when many people leave the office for the day, their work problems don’t stay at the entrance, they follow them home. The reverse of that is personal problems that pack their own lunch and decide to come to work with you. It’s human to be emotional and I don’t agree that crying is some type of extreme form of un-professionalism nor will I look at a colleague differently who I’ve seen cry. Like some others have mentioned, I wish work culture was less cold about showing “these kinds” of emotions in the workplace.

    1. fposte

      To me, that’s a different discussion, though. I think it’s okay to cry in the workplace, but I also think it’s not okay to do it with great frequency–I don’t think it’s okay to cry every month in front of your staff, for instance. Are you arguing for an acceptance level that would mean it would be okay to cry no matter how often you did it?

  28. Paulina

    It actually makes me sad and mad that OP #5 felt they had to write in about this – block and delete the contact. And if you feel like it, report him to LinkedIn. You always have 100% “permission” to block and delete creepy people on the Internet!

  29. Seriously?

    #2 I’m actually really surprised and upset by this answer. What happened to not assuming things that aren’t in the letter? There is no reason given to think that the OP here was fishing for validation/compliments. A lot of people are trying to destigmatize the adjective “fat” because there’s no reason it should be a value judgment/anything other than a description of a person’s body. If someone said “I’m blonde” and their manager responded “yeah, and you’re stupid too” would that be hilarious & laudable? I usually really respect your opinion, Alison, but what the hell?

    1. MsM

      But it’s also not a comment that makes any real sense in the context of a work conversation. So actually, yes, I think your blonde example probably would get a similar reaction (which, by the way, didn’t include anything about it being “hilarious” or “laudable”): sure, there are lots of nicer things the other person could have said, but what kind of response were you expecting, exactly?

    2. swedishandful

      I don’t think people are piling on the fat shaming here.

      And there’s a big difference between linking being fat with poor eating choices and low activity than linking being blond with being stupid. The first is a reasonable conclusion, especially with observed knowledge. The second is, as you say, laughable.

      (sorry to re-post, I meant for this go here…)

    3. MashaKasha

      Why would I tell my manager I’m blonde? Wouldn’t she already know? FTR, I don’t understand why OP told her manager “I’m fat” either. If it was for a professional reason like one of the ones people have listed upthread, I’ll stand corrected.

    4. Not me

      But why say “I’m fat” or “I’m blonde” neutrally in person? They’re both visible. What would you be going for there?

      I don’t make announcements that I’m tall, really, it’s not something I talk about unless I’m asking a salesperson whether the different sizes are sold in-store or online only. And I don’t go “PSA: I have freckles.”

      I don’t see a lot of people saying the response was hilarious or laudable, either. I see a lot of people saying it was rude.

      1. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees

        Ha, I never have to point out I’m the tallest one in the office, my coworkers do it for me… “Hey Xan, you’re tall… get that off the top shelf?”

        1. TootsNYC

          I usually say (to my husband, but sometimes to a tall colleague): “Come be tall in the kitchen.”

          And I’m more often saying, “You’re taller than me, can you reach that?”

          1. bkanon

            Heh, I get this all the time from little elderly women in stores. “Could you be tall for me, dear?” Not a problem. I AM tall.

    5. Ask a Manager Post author

      I didn’t say or imply it was hilarious or laudable, so I’m not sure what you’re referring to there. I said it was unkind, but that I also didn’t understand what the OP was going for mentioning it in the first place.

      However, people upthread have pointed out legit reasons it could have come up in conversation (as opposed to the OP playing the “I’m so fat” game, which is how I read it originally), and that would change my answer.

      1. Us, Too

        I think it could have been legitimate to mention being fat, but what isn’t legitimate (without additional information from OP) is the follow-up comment about it being because of her diet including “crap food”. That may not actually be true. Maybe there is information not included in the letter, though. Like the fact that OP eats a crap diet in front of her boss? That is highly speculative, though, and not part of the letter.

  30. swedishandful

    I don’t think people are piling on the fat shaming here.

    And there’s a big difference between linking being fat with poor eating choices and low activity than linking being blond with being stupid. The first is a reasonable conclusion, especially with observed knowledge. The second is, as you say, laughable.

    1. Colette

      Except, of course, there are lots of reasons people gain weight, including eating too much, eating too little, being genetically predisposed to gaining weight, medical conditions, and some medications.

      1. Marian the Librarian

        Yes. The only thing you can tell by looking at a fat person is that they are fat (or that they have rockin’ fashion sense). Not their activity level, not their diet, not their health status.

        Also, it’s worth saying that even if someone is fat because they eat “junk food” (which, again, you can’t tell by looking at them), they are still deserving of respect and common decency and they do not deserve to be judged negatively for their choices.

        However, as I said upthread, it’s usually (always?) best to leave any kind of body talk at home unless you work in a field where your appearance IS your job.

        1. Brisvegan

          +1 to both Colette and Marian’s comments.

          Why is it OK for the boss to make a rather rude and aggressive remark to an employee, just because they are fat?

          Fat does not automatically = any particular set of lifestyle choices and therefore judgment based on body type does = simple bigotry. Just because someone is fat does not mean that every cruel stereotype about their life, activity level and eating that you see on TV is true. It also definitely doesn’t mean rudeness, cruelty and bigotry is OK because you assume they have disordered eating (which may or may not be true + would you mock someone who was skinny and had disordered eating conditions?)

          Also, why does eating junk food = a terrible thing for a fat person, but not a thinner person? What stereotypes about impulse control, laziness and other behaviours are wrongly being projected on to fat people but not skinny people for the same eating behaviours? Why would you penalise someone who is fat with rude comments, based on an assumption about eating choices (or even seeing someone sometimes enjoy the same snacks as other people)? Why is that less bigoted than assuming blonds are stupid or assuming any other demographic group = whatever stereotype?

    2. Emily, admin extraordinaire

      I have three siblings. Growing up, we had similar eating habits (since we all ate only the food provided by our parents) and similar activity levels. Same lifestyle. I gained weight. They didn’t.

      Now, although we are all adults and living in different circumstances, we still have similar eating habits and similar activity levels (actually, since I go to the gym several times a week, I’m probably the most active of the four of us). They are all still within normal weight ranges (although at the top instead of the bottom; we’re all in our 30s now and time hits all metabolisms eventually). I am obese. In my case, it’s a combination of PCOS and inheriting my body type from my mom’s side instead of my dad’s. None of which you would be able to tell from the outside.

      So, no, it’s not always a reasonable conclusion based on observed knowledge.

      1. Joline

        I read their comment about “observed knowledge” meaning if the boss saw the person eating fast food for lunch every day and junk food throughout or something. There, of course, can still be other factors at play – but I read it as observing habits as opposed to just observing that someone is fat.

        1. Brisvegan

          Again, so what if they do have a habit of eating junk food? Why does that make it OK to be rude to this particular employee? It’s kind of an jerk move to comment on peoples’ food.

          1. Joline

            That wasn’t what I was saying (or trying to say) at all. I was just trying to clarify the idea of “observed knowledge.” I don’t think I made a judgement call there at all on whether it was appropriate or not.

            I think it’s inappropriate in most cases (unless, like some people pointed out, it came up for a work purpose…branded shirts or what-have-you) for the employee to bring up their weight/physique to their boss and I think it’s a generally jerk-move from anyone to have a response like that.

      2. Me

        Yep. Plus, my fat grandma hardly ate anything and lived to 91. Her skinny brothers died in their 50s. So there’s that.

  31. MashaKasha

    #5. Do not engage this guy. Do not reply, do not send him anything, do not say anything, just block.

    I delete recruiters and people I don’t know, but I would definitely block someone who doesn’t know how to LinkedIn.

    I recently had a man send me a LI request. I met him four years ago on a dating site. I emailed him with a thanks, but no thanks, and then we met in person through a meetup group we both belonged to. He’s 23 years older than I, does not take no for an answer, tried to buy me dinner in exchange for me pretending to be his girlfriend in front of his friends, and on the professional level, he made the news two years ago for having gotten jail time for having altered a dead customer’s will in his favor. (He is, or was, a financial advisor.) IOW there was no earthly reason for me to have him as my professional connection on LI, so I deleted his request. He then sent me another, plus a Facebook one. I blocked him in both places. I use my LI for networking and job search and do not need that kind of contacts on there.

    1. Shannon

      This.

      My husband had his ex-fiancee of over 30 years ago try to friend him on LI. She had issues with cocaine and infidelity. Now, she’s a special ed school teacher. One can only hope she’s put all that behind her. However, they’re not even in remotely similar professions.

  32. voluptuousfire

    Ew, definitely had #5 happen to me! I blocked the guy and reported him to LinkedIn. Some people just don’t have the social antenna to realize that LinkedIn is not OKCupid.

  33. LizNYC

    #5 That’s happened to me TWICE! So unwelcome and just weird.

    To block: “Go to the profile of the person you want to block and select “Block or Report” from the drop-down menu at the top of the profile summary.” You can check on who you’ve blocked by going to Your Privacy & Settings –> Manage Who You’re Blocking.

  34. SynapticFibrillation

    I think knowing the context of the “I’m fat” comment would be handy. It may have been a blunt answer to an uncomfortable question.

    Ive pointed out my weight when asked about why I buy my clothes where I do, why I’m not joining everyone at the beach, etc.

    My response is usually phrased in a humorous way.

    The rare time someone says something derogatory about my weight, my response is to thank them for the compliment, as if my weight is the only thing they have to complain about then they must think I’m awesome in every other way.

  35. The Strand

    In recent years, I cannot think of an adult I know who fits the “obese” or “morbidly obese” profile making an “I’m fat and unattractive” complaint, or seeking this kind of validation. If you are that overweight, you know it, and you don’t seek validation to the contrary… probably because of other comments you already get. (My spouse, who is obese, posted on Facebook about a shooting he witnessed walking out of a restaurant and immediately got interrogated by a close family member: “What were you doing at that restaurant?”. This family member has issues with his own weight.) You know if you complain about your weight and are actually fat, people will tell you why they think you’re fat, whether they are correct or not. OP, people will do that even in a supposedly professional setting: it’s the nature of dialogue about weight in this country. Like I previously posted, legitimate obesity researchers don’t think it’s *just* that people lack self-control or “eat crap” but also issues with the way our cities are designed, how much activity we get daily, air conditioning, lack of sleep, lack of work/life balance, and many other things going on in our society. But colloquially we aren’t going to waste time being thoughtful when we can quickly bounce the basketball onto the “crap you eat”.

    It’s the folks who do not appear obese or morbidly obese, I hear making comments about their body parts. I have heard very slim women complain about their bodies being fat in bathrooms and dressing rooms. It kind of reminds me of the way my friends and I used to moan about our bodies when we were teenagers. I would love to be the size I was at 16, and I roll my eyes thinking of how I described myself as having “thunder thighs”.

  36. No name

    I have a supervisor that does this. In her case, I think she is being manipulative as it occurs any time she gets feedback. It’s pretty tiring.

  37. Shannon

    #5, maybe I’m projecting my own issues onto this, but, women are conditioned by society to be nice to flipping *everyone.* If a someone is making you uncomfortable, you have every right to tell them to go pound sand. You don’t owe this guy anything and you have every right to just delete him off of your LI.

  38. Crabby PM

    Re: “I’m fat,” it depends on the context. I am fat. It is what I am. The term is neutral and descriptive. If someone were to say to me, “Oh, no, you’re not,” I would smile and gently say, “No, it’s okay, it’s an accurate description. Big girl here.”

    What if this was the situation?
    I’m trying to get past someone in a narrow conference room. The person moves forward, but not quite enough.
    “Could you please move up?” *tiny movement* “Mark, could you please move all the way forward? I’m fat and can’t get through.”
    There I am not asking him to say “Oh, no, of course you’re not fat.” I am just providing a reminder as to why moving the chair 1/8″ inch is insufficient to allow me to pass.

Comments are closed.