my boss told me to stop emailing him, a job interviewer secretly taped me, and more

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

1. My boss told me to stop emailing him

My boss has asked me to stop sending emails (even though I have explained I want them as a record) and to talk to him face to face instead. He has pulled me up on it twice and in front of the office accused me of being nervous to talk to him. I regularly speak to him face to face, but when I have important information I am communicating with him, I have always been taught from previous roles to have an email record. His response was that he is getting angry that I send him emails. What would you recommend? I would feel extremely uncomfortable not having email records.

There are all sorts of reasons your boss might want you to send him fewer emails, like that he’s trying to manage an overflowing in-box, or that he finds it more efficient to have a conversation where there can be real-time back-and-forth, or that he simply prefers communicating in person. Regardless, he’s your boss and if he’s telling you to do that, you need to do it. He gets to make this call, regardless of what you were taught in previous jobs; this isn’t a situation where there’s only one standard of rightness that’s so important that you must adhere to it even when your boss is telling you otherwise. Do what he’s asking.

If there are issues where your boss is misremembering conversations and you want a record for that reason, or where that’s not happening but you want a record anyway, keep your own notes. That doesn’t have to happen via email.

2. A job interviewer taped me without my consent

I had a third interview with a company today. While meeting with the hiring manager, I noticed mid-way through the interview that I was being recorded by a webcam. The manager acknowledged that I was being recorded and then asked for my consent. I begrudgingly gave it and we continued. I did not want to say no in fear of losing the job. However, I began questioning my mannerisms and verbiage. I don’t mind being recorded as long as I know about it beforehand. When I left the interview I didn’t think much of it, but now that I have had some time to think, I have a bad taste in my mouth.

I live in Florida, and I am pretty sure I cannot be recorded without being asked for consent upfront. Is this allowed? Do I have any legal recourse if not offered the position? I can only assume it was due to something that was recorded, as this was my third interview in one week.

I wouldn’t assume that if you don’t get the job it’s because of the recording. People do third interviews all the time without being hired; a third interview isn’t a job offer.

That said, an employer who records an interview without bothering to tell you and then asks for your consent only once you notice the camera is a sketchy employer. And yes, in this case they appear to be breaking the law, since Florida requires that all parties being recorded consent to the taping. That wouldn’t give you grounds to sue for not getting the job, but you might have legal recourse in regard to the recording itself (although I’d question whether it’s worth putting time and energy into pursuing).

Since it’s easy to feel caught off-guard by employer weirdness during an interview and not know what to say when it happens, here’s some language to use in the future if an interviewer does something that seems shady or inappropriate: “Oh, that’s unusual. Can you tell me more about why you do that / are asking that?”

3. Should I turn down a job out of gratitude to a relative?

I’ve been looking to move to a particular city for a few years now. The reason I haven’t moved was because my industry is really small in said city, and I never felt comfortable moving without a new job lined up. The risk would just be too high. In December, I was lucky enough that an extended family member, who knew my struggle to find a job in that city, offered me a position to work with him. I’d be his one and only employee. This job would also not be in my current industry. Thanking my luck that I’d finally be able to at least move with a job, I verbally agreed to the position, but we agreed that I would only start full-time in May (due to benefit and incentive-pay constraints from my current job). Until then, I would work part-time (on top of my current job) so that I could give this job a trial run and see if a) I like working with him and b) I liked the work itself. It was also known that this job would always be a transitional job that would help him reduce his workload and would help me move faster to my desired city.

Fast forward to the past two weeks. I randomly got a call from my dream company (in my desired city). They had seen my resume that I had sent over six months ago and wanted me to come in for an interview. I couldn’t pass on this opportunity and decided to give the interview a go. I just received word from my references that they had been called and they were told, by phone, that I’m “being strongly considered for the job.” This is my dream job and I’m super ecstatic that I got to this point.

That said, I feel really guilty too. I feel like I’ve already committed to this family member and that I should continue working with him no matter what. He has put in time and money into me and turned down work waiting for me to join him. I know that my dream job is where I should be, but if I do get the offer, should I turn it down since I’ve made him wait so long and technically made him lose money? I should add that, for both jobs, no contracts have been signed. Also, salary and benefits are equivalent for both jobs and are not defining factors.

Talk to your relative and explain the situation. I think you’re thinking it’ll cause him more hardship than it actually will. You’re his one and only employee, which says that he was probably happy (or at least reasonably content) functioning on his own and that he offered you the job to help you out more than because of crucial need on his end. Plus, you both agreed it would be transitional, not permanent, and you both agreed you’d be working with him part-time until May to figure out if you liked the situation, which means there was always a possibility that you wouldn’t.

I doubt that your relative would want you turning down a “dream job” (problematic as that term can be) out of a sense of obligation. And if he does, then he’s not being fair to you, particularly given all the caveats to your arrangement above. What you do owe him, though, is transparency about what’s going on, a clear expression of appreciation for how he’s helped you, and a sincere inquiry about what the impact of this will be for him so that you can see if there are ways for you to help mitigate that.

4. My boss applied for my job

I’m the executive director of a nonprofit. Before I was hired, my boss, the volunteer board chairman, applied for my job and didn’t get it. Now she’s making my life miserable, nitpicking simple decisions and questioning my every move. She was encouraged to apply by the former executive in my position, so she enthusiastically began to imagine herself in this role. However, she is not at all qualified, which was quickly recognized by the search committee. I don’t know anyone who would see this situation as healthy. I’ve been here four months, love my job and am accomplishing a lot, but this stress can’t continue. Any ideas about how to handle this situation?

Can you talk to other board members and let them know what’s going on? Ideally in this situation you’d talk to the board chair, but since the chair is the one who’s the problem, it sounds like you’ll need to enlist other board members to intervene.

Alternately, you could try addressing it head-on with the chair, but whether or not that’s the right path will depend heavily on her personality and the dynamic between the two of you.

5. How to let a regular sub know she doesn’t need to remind me of who she is

I work in an industry where we employ subs to cover shifts when regular employees aren’t available. I’ve been in my position about seven months now, and one of my subs (we’ll call her Tabitha) always begins her phone conversations with me by saying, “This is Tabitha Smith, I’m one of your subs…”. I know who she is! How do I kindly let her know that, without coming off as annoyed?

“Tabitha, of course I know who you are!”

If a couple of times of that doesn’t solve it, resign yourself to this being how she’s going to start phone conversations.

{ 259 comments… read them below }

  1. Dan

    #1

    Regardless of what you have been taught in the past, there is a real push now by some employers to keep “the paper trail” off of the email. I had to sit through a training class a week ago for my company, where they basically said that if you would be uncomfortable having your email made public during a lawsuit, then you should not write whatever it is you are thinking. They went so far as to say that opinions should be left out of emails if possible. For example, instead of saying “the email marketing campaign seems like a waste of money” say something like “the email marketing campaign is expected to generate X leads at a total cost of Y.” Our threshold for spending that amount of money requires us to generate Z leads.

    I have no idea how much of a shift will actually occur at my company, but my point is that things that may have been true in the past could be changing. Some people are very particular about what is said in email. Your boss may very well be that person.

    1. Mallory Janis Ian

      + 1

      When a topic seems sensitive, I’ve actually had an in-person conversation with my boss first in which we discuss how I shall phrase my email to him. Then I email him, using the suggested phrasing, and he responds via email.

    2. snuck

      I can hear the OP wants to track what they talk to him about – but we don’t really know what the OP is emailing. If it’s politically sensitive stuff then a chat with the manager about how to phrase or handle these sounds in order. If it’s every day minutae then it sounds like the manager is being bombed all day. Is it possible what you think is important he doesn’t? Do you have a relationship with him that is fraught and he is annoyed at you documenting every single conversation to the tiniest degree? Does your role normally interact with him the way you are, or are you working differently to others in your team with similar responsibilities?

      Is there another way to communicate this – do you have occasional or regular catchups with him to discuss items (and can be minuted or noted afterwards), thus keeping communication to a few touches a week. Maybe your job role requires a regular update… if so is the information you are providing what he cares about, and is it coming through as a single regular easy to read report, or in piecemeal bites that aren’t cohesively pulled together. Take a look at what you are sending him and maybe see if you can reduce the amount you send him – look at frequency, and reason. And for now think twice before you send. Because he isn’t likely to fire you for sending an email, but if you annoy him he then could start to view all your work through this lens and it mightn’t be healthy. Work out what it going on and take it from there?

    3. nofelix

      “opinions should be left out of emails if possible”

      This is pretty good advice anyway. At least, whenever giving your opinion make sure it is your professional, considered opinion that you wouldn’t mind defending in court, to a client or your boss. Definitely use professional and courteous language. If the marketing campaign really is a waste of money and it’s your job to evaluate such things then not speaking up is no good, just phrase it carefully. Saying “x leads at a cost of y” risks the poor value for money being overlooked by whoever reads your message, so in this example I’d compare it to something else like past email campaigns or industry benchmarks.

      1. Kelly L.

        I developed the same habit, just because so many people don’t know how to email someone without forwarding everything ever written on the topic. I don’t want my bosses sending my annoyed behind-the-scenes email to outside people by accident, so I don’t send annoyed behind-the-scenes emails anymore. This results in a lot of situations where I send a perfectly curated email and then stick my head in their office to say “Oh, BTW, this person is irate and cussed me out and is totally wrong besides.”

        1. Artemesia

          Good point. I had a boss with terrible judgment and so learned to be careful. He once asked me for advice about a special client request that was in violation of our SOP and norms. I let him know why we didn’t do this, and that it was not a good idea for that reason but also gave him a couple of options to pursue if it was important to him ie how to end run the system. He emailed my response as is to the client. Just wrong on so many levels.

          Lesson learned.

      2. Stranger than fiction

        This has been a huge learning curve for me at my current job. I really had to learn to take the feelings and opinions out and stick to the facts, just like you and Dan are saying. Upper Management here can be a bit prickly and I once inadvertently insulted one of the managers (well, she thought I did, but I was really criticizing the sales person under her).

    4. Doriana Gray

      @Dan – I work in an industry where this has always been the rule. If we ended up in litigation due to a decision we made, all of our emails and file notes would be discoverable. The only time I preferred to email my boss was in my previous division, and that was because she had a bad habit of saying one thing and then conveniently forgetting what she instructed us to do, so I wanted everything she told us in writing so I could send it to her whenever she questioned why I’d done something.

      Now that I’m no longer working for boss from hell, I take all questions to my current manager directly to him and discuss issues face to face. He gets a ton of emails (as did my previous boss), so I’d rather not email and wait days for a response. I was willing to make the time tradeoff with previous boss due to above flakiness (and her nasty way of responding to questions – I wanted that in writing, too – but that’s a whole other story).

      1. TootsNYC

        she had a bad habit of saying one thing and then conveniently forgetting what she instructed us to do, so I wanted everything she told us in writing so I could send it to her whenever she questioned why I’d done something.

        And this is why OP#1’s boss doesn’t want her sending these emails.

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          That wouldn’t be my first assumption, seriously. I’d assume he gets too much email or finds it easier to talk things out face to face, both of which are really common reasons to say this.

        2. Emmy Rae

          My boss has made it his mission to prove that this is not necessary – you can deny an instruction you issued earlier in the email chain with no repercussions. No paper trail will deter him!

        3. Miss Betty

          I know Allison said it wouldn’t be her first assumption but it would certainly be mine. (I say this from experience. I’ve had more than one boss who disliked paper trails because she wanted to be able to deny she actually said anything she might change her mind on later. You know the old saying – fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice….

    5. Meg Murry

      This is also the case if you work in the public sector where email records can be requested as part of a public records inquiry. My husband works in local government, and he’s had to explain to more than one person that while it is annoying to keep certain things to in person or phone conversations, they need to not put anything into email that they wouldn’t want printed on the front page of the newspaper or put up on the web. Even taking notes on your work computer or in a work diary could be requested, if the requester knew about them.

      1. Broadcastlady

        I just did a ten week investigation into our local police chief that lead to his forced resignation. I sent a public info request, got(and meticulously read) 1,300 emails and ONE of those emails got me the goods.

    6. Bibliovore

      We had a training when I arrived as to what should be in an email and what should be in a phone call. Email was for documentation and factual information. All of our records are subject to FOI. Anything that would be an issue if made public is to be in-person or on the telephone..

    7. Lindsay J

      This. I haven’t gone through a formal training about it. However, it’s definitely been indicated to me that if something could be construed as being problematic during a lawsuit or investigation we should not discuss that item via email or over our recorded phone lines.

    8. Honeybee

      I work at a large company and we’re sensitive to that, too. In fact, it’s not uncommon for us to have a coworker look over an email before we send it out to a partner or client just to make sure everything is kosher, and in my first 3 months or so almost everything I sent out to people outside our team was looked over by a mentor or senior coworker. We’re really careful about it I think in part because of the increase (or perception of one) of company scandals occurring because of something someone said on email or internal company social media.

  2. Artemesia

    #3 So often in life people make decision based on a sense of obligation or ‘what they should do’ and in the process misread the situation and end up doing the thing that doesn’t work for anyone. As a kid my parents offered me a fabulous English racing bike or a big fat tire clunky bike. (that was pretty much the bike choice in those days) I assumed the one I wanted, the English bike, was much more expensive and so chose the cheaper one. I later found out the moose I ended up with cost exactly the same. Never try to second guess the other sides of the conversation in a high stakes choice.

    Your relative is probably more about helping you than needing your work. I’d be up front — make it clear that it is the field you hope to pursue and have this opportunity and that you feel terrible about breaking your deal with him. I’ll bet it goes very well. If it doesn’t, you are still at the point in your career where you need to do what is best for you.

    #4. This is a real job emergency. The rest of the board has to be brought in on this. Is there an executive committee of the board? (obviously you’d meet with them first without her) Do you know the board well enough to know its informal power structure? It might be helpful to meet with a handful of people with influence. The fact that they didn’t hire the chair is telling — I wouldn’t assume her power is uncheckable. Hard hard thing to do but you need their advice and their read. If they are not responsive, you have your answer. You could deal with her first and then go to the board but it sounds like you have a lot of data already to work with. You obviously need to be able to provide the pattern and some concrete detail. Good luck with this.

    1. John

      There should hopefully be a personnel committee of the board. Of course, I chair a board and head that committee, so it wouldn’t help.

      If there’s not, OP could suggest that it would be helpful to form one — consistent with industry best practice — and then try to steer them toward putting another board member in charge.

      But if you have a good relationship with another member of the board, it would be helpful to have a candid discussion with them. You need allies.

  3. Alanna

    I had a friend who made fun of me for always starting my phone calls with “this is Alanna.” Because, you know, I was on a cell phone. He knew who was calling. But somehow I can’t quite make myself believe that I am really in someone’s contact list? I think Alison’s answer will work, and reassure the sub at the same time. But if it doesn’t try to just think of it as a verbal tic?

    1. ginger ale for all

      It is also good manners, jmo. Plus, not everyone has a cell phone and is would be courteous to not assume they do.

    2. nofelix

      I find one can normally tell from how they answer the call whether they know it’s me calling. If they know it’s me they’ll say “Hi!” or my name, otherwise it’ll be “Hello?”.

      1. Yetanotherjennifer

        That feels so awkward to me. Even if I know who’s calling I let them say hello and identify themselves before greeting them by name.

        1. Koko

          Thinking about it, that’s what my friends and I do too. If I know you, you get, “Hey!” or “Hello!” with firm punctuation at the end. Otherwise it’s “Hello?” with a clear question mark at the end. It’s usually clear from the person’s tone of voice when they answer whether you need to identify yourself or not.

    3. blu

      I think though the equivalent of what the OP’s sub is doing would be for you to say “Hi, this is Alanna, one of your friends”. I don’t think she is objecting to Tabitha identifying herself by name, I think it’s that she thinks she needs to specific that she is one of their regular subs.

      1. Judy

        My father in law had a unique name, I’ve never met anyone else who had that name. I don’t remember what greeting he used when a person answered, but every message on the answering machine was “Hi Bob, this is George, your dad”.

        1. Gandalf the Nude

          I’d wondered this, actually, whether Tabitha actually has a somewhat common name and wants to make sure everyone knows which Tabitha is calling. I wish our employees would do that. We have about 5 Waylons, 3 Boyds, 3 Arts, and a half dozen pairs of other names, and most of them expect me to know which one it is when they call.

        2. Mookie

          For about nine months, I had a manager who regularly introduced himself on the phone to me as “[Boaty McBoatface]… your boss.” Always with the implied ellipses. It’s a really offputting verbal tic for me, partially because as a kid I had a great-aunt and -uncle who used to send me birthday cards (with checks made out for $1.25, signed over to my first name in square-quotes, implying at twelve years-old I’d acquired a pseudonym) carefully explaining who they were and why they were contacting me.

          1. TootsNYC

            Did you send them thank-you notes? If you didn’t, that may have been a hint. They didn’t feel they were “real” to you.

            1. Mookie

              They’re Minnesota Nice types (not actually from Minnesota, so the state was spared that, then) and lifelong critics of Loving v Virginia, if you get my meaning, so felt that the further you descended the old family tree the more intellectually inferior you were, thus requiring them to conceal their natural contempt and disgust in gentle, endlessly patient handholding, like explaining what birthday cards meant and why they only arrived once a year. They got their handwritten thank-you notes, though (sticklers for decorum who are actually quite rude always insist on everything handwritten and as inconvenient as possible, I’ve noticed), on stationary recycled from paper grocery sacks and in common, underbred pencil–grammatically impeccable, with faultless diplomatic wording, and in as Greek a penmanship as I could muster.

              /family resentment TMI

          1. Emmy Rae

            My dad to every sibling: “Hi Sibling, it’s Jeff, your FAVORITE brother.” There are 5 brothers so it’s a stretch claim for sure.

          2. Alienor

            My dad always did that too, but only on the answering machine/voice mail. Sometimes he said it at the end of the message as an afterthought, like “Happy birthday, I hope you’re having a great day and I’ll talk to you later. This is your dad. *click*”

            I actually think that always identifying yourself is a holdover from before caller ID and cell phones existed. I was born in the very early 70s, and most people my age and older seem to have been taught a very specific type of phone etiquette: when you call someone’s house, you say “Hello, this is [your name], may I speak to [their name] please?” and when you answer the phone at your own house, you say “Hello, [lastname] residence, [your name] speaking.” I bet “Tabitha” in the original letter is either a little older, like 50+, or else had older parents who taught her to do this.

            1. ThursdaysGeek

              And rightly so, since Caller-ID sometimes only gives a number, and sometimes doesn’t give that; because people are still using a combination of cell and land-lines.

              It’s kind of like adding the ‘Hi Thursday’ to the top of the email and adding your name at the end. I can tell who it’s to and from, but it softens the conversation, makes it less abrupt.

            2. Ife

              I’m 26 and I was taught those phone manners too. Apparently my parents were old-fashioned though, because when I’d call up a friend’s house for the first time, the parents were so delighted by that phrase!

              Even with a cell phone, I still start with “This is Ife” if I don’t recognize the number or if I’m calling someone that may not recognize my number. Honestly, if I were someone’s sub I would probably start with “This is Ife [last name], your sub…” just out of force of habit.

            3. Biff

              I think that announcing who you are is also common for folks who are accustomed to having a poor connection or talking to people with hearing difficulties. For example, I expect my family to know who I am, but I don’t expect that they’ll be able to hear me well enough to identify me right off the bat (everyone in my family has at least one ‘sonic double’ on the phone. Whereas you can easily tell the difference in real life, the fuzz factor of the phone kills the differentiation.) So, “Hi, it’s BIFF! How are you?” is my pretty standard opener.

          3. KH

            Hahah. I’m not the only one.

            My dad always left messages saying “Hi Honey. It’s me, John, your dad.”

            Yeah dad. I got it from “Hi honey.” :)

        3. LSCO

          Haha, I do this whenever I phone my nan! I always start the call with “hi nan, it’s your favourite granddaughter*”. Mainly because I know she doesn’t have caller ID and it’s a nice way to introduce myself without launching straight into the conversation. My nan totally got me back once when she phoned me by saying when I answered “Hi LSCO it’s your favourite nan”. Bless her :)

          *I am not being big-headed, I am her only granddaughter and therefore her favourite by default..

          1. Emmy Rae

            Ha! My dad liked to call his mother and introduce himself as “It’s your favorite child.” My grandma got him back by always guessing a long list of her other children until he gave up.

            Maybe it because they were in such a big family (12 kids); they all referred to themselves as the favorite.

            1. ThursdaysGeek

              I’m my mum’s favorite middle daughter. We always qualify the favorite part enough that we can all be favorites. Which we are.

    4. Oryx

      If he knew who was calling, then he should have answered “Hi, Alanna” so you knew he knew.

      1. TootsNYC

        yeah, actually, if you’re going to use his standard, then he would be the one who is wrong first.

    5. Yetanotherjennifer

      Yep. I’ve got the song “Unforgettable” running through my head now and like the song, there are some people who are unforgettable and there are others who are utterly forgettable. I’m not sure which camp I fall into but I like to help people out and remind them of who I am before they have to ask. Obviously, not close friends, but people who don’t see me often. And I have an out of state cell number so I’m careful to identify myself on first texts and calls.

    6. Rebecca

      Yeah, I was thinking that Tabitha could be doing this because it’s better than getting a few minutes deep into the convo and realizing that the person you called has no idea who you are…

    7. Bibliovore

      I used to start phone conversations with my father ” Hi dad, its Agnes” I was the only girl with three brothers. I never got that a female voice meant that his daughter was calling and I didn’t have to say my name.

      1. Lore

        I am also an only daughter and on more than one occasion, I’ve called my dad, said “Hi, Dad!” in my female voice, and been asked “Who’s this?” I used to tease him about his secret second family…when the more prosaic explanation is probably that he needs hearing aids.

      2. Turanga Leela

        I’m also the only daughter. I used to leave messages at my parents’ offices that began, “Hi Mom, it’s me.” No idea what I was trying to accomplish there.

      3. TootsNYC

        Actually, given the prevalence of phone scams (“Hi, Grandpa!” says the scammer, and when my dad says, “Is this Jason?”–bcs that’s the only grandson of roughly that age–the scammer says “yes,” and off he goes), I think it’s VERY important that we all identify ourselves by name.

        I was visiting my dad when he got one of those calls. They’d got him the first time, but he’d wised up, and when they called, he asked if they were “George,” MY son. When they said “yes,” he put me on the phone.

      4. Joan Callamezzo

        Heh. I’m an only girl with 3 brothers too, and when I have to leave a message for my parents I always say, “Hi, it’s your favorite daughter.”

    8. manybellsdown

      Yeah, I feel for “Tabitha” because I never think anyone either a) remembers me, or b) recognizes my voice. And since I have an exceptionally common first name, I’ll add the last name on there too, because there’s probably another Jennifer that they might mistake me for.

  4. Little Teapot

    OP #1, could you meet face to face like he wants and then send an email saying, “Boss, thanks for meeting with me. Was great to get your opinion on the teapot colouring, and to receive your feedback about dealing with teapot vendors.”
    That way you’re doing what he wants, and you get what you want (email record of what happened/his feedback).

    1. Graciosa

      No, this way you would be *pretending* at first to do what you think he wants by having a conversation, and then doing what you want by sending an email which he directed you *not* to send.

      Do not do this.

      If his problem is related to an overflowing inbox, or issues with what records should be kept in written form, sending an unnecessary email does not help.

      Just to be clear, the boss gets to decide what’s necessary. He has, and emails to provide you with a written record don’t qualify.

      Even if his reasons are different, you (the OP) don’t get to overrule him just because you disagree.

      Defying the boss’ direct orders because you want to do it your way instead of his way is insubordination. Don’t do that.

      1. Graciosa

        Just to be really clear, cloaking this in a request for “feedback” doesn’t change the nature of what’s going on. The boss wants to have substantive conversations face to face. He doesn’t want email. Playing games to send the email he doesn’t want is the wrong thing to do, even if the OP pretends to be “summarizing” or “asking for feedback” or “just confirming how to proceed.”

        The OP isn’t being asked to break the law, just to follow the boss’ instructions about how work is handled in the office.

      2. Little Teapot

        Good point all! I was trying to think as to why OP wanted a record, and if there was a way to meet both their needs.

          1. 2horseygirls

            ^ This is perfectly acceptable. “3.17.16 @ 10am. Spoke with Bill re: rainbow teapot spout design. We discussed merits of spouts 1, 3, 6, 7, and Bill approved #3 to move into production.”

            I previously worked in higher ed, where every email was subject to Freedom of Information Act requests. Your boss might have a similar background, thus the request to stop. Regardless of what you’ve done in previous positions, continuing to do so after being told directly multiple times to stop is sort of begging for trouble IMHO.

            1. Kyrielle

              Also, check with your boss. It’s possible your emails are subject to something similar, in which case you need to find out if – for example – a document in a personal notes folder might be okay, or might be problematic.

          2. Stranger than fiction

            That’s what I was thinking, or Ever note. Or, keep a “meetings w/ Boss” folder on your computer, that way there’s dates and everything if the Op ever does in fact need back up documentation.

            1. Alienor

              I totally see what you’re saying, but if Boss is absentminded, wishy-washy and/or actively evil, and OP has been burned many times by him saying one thing and then retracting it later/dumping the blame on her, I can also see why she’d want evidence to protect herself, and personal notes don’t have the same weight of proof as a time-stamped email. That said, if Boss told her to stop, she has to stop…but if I had a boss I didn’t trust, the very act of being told to stop would make me nervous that he was planning to throw me under the bus in some spectacular way.

        1. Erin

          I’d agree this would be an excellent suggestion if he hadn’t told her several times no emails. Sending an email like that – a clearly unnecessary, just for the records one – would really push him over the edge.

      3. nofelix

        Agreed, don’t do this. Boss has been very clear that he wants to talk face to face AND does not want emails. Doing one and not the other is no good.

    2. HMM

      If they’re meeting face to face frequently, I think this would probably be even more annoying then what the OP was doing to begin with. She would just be ignoring his very direct request to stop sending emails.

      1. HMM

        Not to mention saying “thanks for meeting” after every meeting starts to sound… Disingenuous? Passive aggressive? Not good, in any case. Useful if you meet with someone only very rarely, but otherwise, no.

    3. TootsNYC

      That’s even worse!
      It’s VERY adversarial: “I don’t trust you to remember what we said accurately, so I’m going to email, and then when you say I got it wrong, I’ll say, ‘It was in the email I sent to you!’ ”

      If you need notes, make your own.
      If you need him to check over your notes to be sure you remembered it all right, then directly ask him, in person to do so on a piece of paper, not an email.

  5. Little Teapot

    OP5, I tend to do this too. I temp as well and even if I’ve met a perm worker 10 times on prior shifts I always say, Hi, I’m Little Teapot, I work for Teapots Temp Agency – just in case. Perhaps you use a large amount of temps and she is worried you’ll forget, or doesn’t want to flatter herself that you will remember? Either way, I do it too! And I don’t mean it to be annoying, simply, recognizing I am a temp and the perm workers have no obligation to remember who I am.

    1. John Cosmo

      In the overall scheme of things, someone who calls you on the phone and announces who they are isn’t that big of a problem to have. In spite of most phones having caller I.D., and my having a distinctive voice, I find that I when I don’t do say who I am, the called person inevitably asks me, “Who is this calling?” and “Where do you work?” I’m just sayin’.

      1. Nobody

        Agreed. Whenever I call someone in another department, I start with, “Hi, this is Jane Smith from Operations…” Occasionally, people joke about it, like, “Uh, yeah, I know who you are, Jane,” but if I don’t say it, I get, “Jane WHO? Who is this and why are you calling me?” So I just make a habit of saying the whole thing even if I’m pretty sure the person I’m calling will remember me. It’s probably the same situation with the sub; she probably gets a lot of people who don’t remember her, so she just always introduces herself as one of the subs to head off any confusion. Don’t take it personally.

        1. Elizabeth West

          We are told when hired that we have to identify ourselves, both when calling and when receiving calls. So I answer the phone like, “XYZ Widget Company, Liz speaking, how can I help you?” I call like, “Hi, I’m Liz from XYZ Widget Company calling for Buffy Summers [or returning Buffy Summers’ call].”

          I try not to say “this is Liz,” because on people’s phones it sounds like “Zzzz zz zzzz.” And then they say, “Who?”

    2. Bloo

      I don’t temp but I don’t ever assume anyone remembers me. Even if I said, “I’m bloo,” I figure their response might be, “….bloo from…..?”

      To me it facilitates faster conversations by removing guessing games for some.

      Also a poster on another forum I visit has an “excuse me for living” response for some faux pas. This is so small. Let it go.

  6. Chocolate Teapot

    5. I suppose you are more likely to remember an unusual name (Tabitha vs Jane) but also, if you are expecting to speak to permanant co-worker Engelina and get temp Tabitha instead, then it helps to know. (How long will Engelina be away for? Is Tabitha just covering for the week? etc.)

  7. Jack the treacle eater

    I’d worry about #1 in a toxic work environment. I was in a situation where the company ethos was face to face conversations. The problem with this was that decisions got lost; worse, managers would make decisions, then go back on those decisions and then castigate subordinates for doing what they had previously been told to do. Managers would make unethical or illegal decisions, which they would then distance themselves from leaving the employee exposed; or their desire not to have an email trail might be because of a desire to cover themselves. In such circumstances, and particularly where breaches of employment or other laws and possible disciplinary or court action might result, I’m not sure personal (and unverifiable) notes would be adequate.

    1. Nobody

      Yeah, obviously we’re only getting the OP’s side of the story, but it does seem suspicious that the manager is so adamant about not wanting a paper trail. The OP didn’t say the manager was complaining about an overflowing inbox, so it makes me wonder if there’s another reason he doesn’t want a record of what’s discussed.

      On the other hand, it could be that the OP is being needlessly paranoid about keeping e-mail records of everything, and I can see how it would get annoying for the manager if an employee sent follow-up e-mails after every face-to-face conversation.

      1. Random Lurker

        When I read it, I thought paranoid employee + insecure boss = reaction like this. Telling him you want a paper trail is very possibly being interpreted by him as “I don’t trust you” – if he’s insecure.

        1. Sarahnova

          I don’t think he necessarily has to be insecure if this is annoying him. I can think of several legitimate reasons for him to be annoyed that don’t rely on his being insecure.

          1. Random Lurker

            Fair enough. I’m projecting a little because I’m dealing with an insecure boss who takes everything as a slight.

            You’re right though – suggesting you want a record could be taken poorly by many people.

        2. Erin

          I feel like it’s a chicken or egg thing. Does he not want her keeping records because he does in fact have something to hide, or is he only sketched out by her because of her wanting to keep records?

      2. Katie the Fed

        I’m so confused by this that I feel like we’re reading different letters. The manager said nothing whatsoever about not wanting a paper trail. And that’s not the logical conclusion from his failure to cite an overflowing inbox. He doesn’t need to give a reason – it’s his preference, and there is nothing in the letter to indicate there are any suspicious or nefarious reason. He could require all my employees to wear yellow on Fridays just because he likes it. This is a basic matter of following directions.

        1. Erin

          True, OP didn’t say Boss said it was because of a paper trail. And I agree that she should probably just adhere to his quirks because he’s the boss and that’s what’s up.

          But, if it were me, I definitely would assume it was because he didn’t want a paper trail, and I would feel very sketched out by that. He’s not obligated to give her a reason, but since he’s so adamant about it, and basically embarrassed her in front of the office about it…it would be nice if he shed some light into his reasoning.

          1. Amalie

            That’s a big assumption to make, and not a helpful one. There are many other reasons this could be happening, and assuming the worst isn’t a good way to handle it. Looking unreasonable, insecure and paranoid doesn’t exactly scream professionalism!

            1. Erin

              Maybe it’s just my personal experience teaching me to always cover my butt at work, but yeah. Unless he stated another reason – overflowing inbox, whatever – that’s definitely what I would first assume.

              1. Just me

                I ALWAYS put stuff in writing at my old job. I had to pull up old emails to prove my boss said something multiple times a week. It was exhausting, but I had to cover my a$$.

              2. Alienor

                I would too. I’ve had a boss who was both legitimately forgetful and loved to throw people under the bus, and everyone who reported to him kept records of *everything* he signed off on or told them to do.

                1. JaneB

                  Me too – every boss I’ve had has been overworked with too many people to ‘manage’ – I get a one to one MAYBE twice a year, we have group meetings once every two months, otherwise it’s all ‘manage by vague email or comment in passing in the corridor or call people out in meetings for not having done something they never knew about’. Boss complains about the rumour mill at work, but honestly, a lot of the time that’s the only source of any information.

                  Boss is over-worked, legitimately forgetful, and highly prone to being swayed by whatever he just read/heard about from another department at a higher-ups meeting then get mad at other people for not realising this, so creating a paper trail is in everyone’s interests.

          2. Murphy

            Yeah, I think that’s a big assumption to make. My boss has been clear that he doesn’t like or read long emails. If I want an answer from him it needs to be in person. I prefer email (my boss isn’t the best communicator – he sometimes misses words or ends a thought before it’s done – because his brain works faster than his mouth), but it is what it is. I don’t send much to him in email any more and I’ve had to figure out a way to get the clear communication I need, up to an including looking puzzled and saying “what? sorry, I’m hella confused.” He’s the boss, he gets to set the rules.

            I, on the other hand, ask my staff to send me emails on certain things so I don’t forget or miss anything (I can be a bit scattered and forgetful otherwise). They would prefer not to have to do that, I’m sure, but here we are.

            1. Bookworm

              I think it’s also possible OP is emailing about things that don’t necessarily require a paper trail…there are definitely some convos where after they’re done I rehash in writing / email to confirm…..but those are the minority.

              Most conversations aren’t important enough that we need to get all the details down in writing, we just need to get it done.

        2. Nobody

          Maybe it’s just the way the letter is phrased, but it seems odd that the manager made a blanket demand to stop e-mailing him and gets angry when the OP sends an e-mail. It’s not that hard to ignore or delete an e-mail, so it makes me wonder if there’s a reason he doesn’t want their conversations put in writing.

          With the limited amount of information in the letter, it’s hard to tell if the manager is flipping out about the OP asking about something by e-mail a couple of times per week (which would be weird and suspicious), or if the OP is sending the manager 10 e-mails per day and the manager is getting exasperated by the excessive number of e-mails (which would be understandable). We usually give the OP the benefit of the doubt.

          I think it would be pretty strange to require employees to wear yellow on Fridays with no explanation other than a personal preference. Just because a manager can order employees to do things for no particular reason doesn’t mean he should.

          1. fposte

            But wanting to be talked to isn’t an arbitrary or particularly unusual request. Even if the boss wants it because he sucks at organizing emails or has been FOIAed at a previous workplace, it’s not such an onerous request that it makes sense to push back on it to this degree.

            We give OPs the benefit of the doubt in taking them at their word, and we’re doing that here. The OP has said her boss has told her repeatedly to stop doing this. The only reason she gives for not wanting to stop doing this is that she learned differently. That’s not enough of a reason not to do what your boss wants on a pretty low-impact request that makes a big difference to the boss.

          2. Katie the Fed

            He prefers to receive his information face-to-face. That’s not an unusual request! A lot of communication is non-verbal and maybe he just likes it that way.

            It really doesn’t matter what the reason is, or what OP thinks should happen. He’s made a reasonable request and she continues to ignore it.

            1. Nobody

              I think it is pretty unusual for a manager to request never to be e-mailed. E-mail is the predominant form of communication in most offices. If there is a reason the manager doesn’t like e-mail, it would probably go a long way for him to explain why.

          3. Sparrow

            I assumed the boss was actually getting irritated because the OP continued to send emails when they’d been instructed to do otherwise. That seems like a more likely source of frustration than the emails themselves.

      3. TootsNYC

        It can be very adversarial: “I want to be able to prove what you said.”

        Even a good boss will get annoyed at that.

        If it’s a toxic workplace, get out as fast as you can.

    2. Sarahnova

      But you can’t live your life covering against a toxic work environment if you’re not in one, as Alison has discussed before; this behaviour is dysfunctional in a non-toxic environment. The OP equally didn’t say anything about wanting a record because her boss changes decisions, just that she was “taught” to do it in a previous role. And nothing about you sending an email prevents your boss from saying, “I didn’t say that.”

      Absent any evidence of a toxic environment, the OP should do as her boss requests.

      1. Natalie

        And if you are in a toxic environment, email is pretty thin armor. My office used to be like that and the reams of documentation my old bosses generated didn’t actually accomplish anything. None of the toxic higher ups liked being called on their shit, they certainly didn’t wander off contritely. The only benefit I ever saw was reminding myself that I had in fact read this or that policy.

        1. Doriana Gray

          And see, the two toxic environments I worked in, email was our best defense. If we forwarded bad boss the email chain with her (and both toxic jobs had managers who were “her”) instructions in it, she’d sheepishly back down from her rants, especially if her boss was also cc’d on it.

        2. Lindsay J

          This. I’ve never been in a situation where producing documentation would have helped the situation, and generally it would just make me come off as, bluntly, a pain in the ass.

          In a dysfunctional environment, documentation tends to be met with, “I know I said X then, but…” [I’m saying Y now][you should have known I really meant Y][X was right in that situation but this situation is different and you should have done Y instead], etc. I can’t picture a manager in a dysfunctional environment seeing the email documentation and tucking their tail between their legs and admitting that they are wrong.

          A manager in a functional workplace would admit they were wrong if called out in that situation, but generally in functional environments you wouldn’t need to pull out the emails to document that, an, “Uh, boss, when we started this project you said to do X,” would suffice.

          I see people a lot of times treating documentation as some type of bullet-proof shield, but it’s really not. I like documentation, but I keep what I need to prove I did what I said I would do, not to prove what someone else said to me at that point in time. (Unless I am doing something against my discretion that was ordered by a higher up. Then I do keep documentation, not to use against that person later in conversation but to cover my ass in case someone else questions why I did that later, at which point I can say “Wakeen told me to, despite my misgivings about A, B, and C.”

          1. Katie the Fed

            YES. This is exactly it. If boss is a jerk, producing “evidence” isn’t going to make him realize the error of his way. It’ll just make him double down and probably be even more jerkish at the evidence-gatherer.

    3. nofelix

      In such instances where it’s useful to have a record of decisions, one can always record them without sending copies to anyone else. It’s possible to be accused of falsifying notes but that rarely happens. Generally people know that if, for instance, I call out someone’s record of a meeting and then their record is corroborated then it’s very embarrassing for me and my reputation is shot.

      1. Not an IT Guy

        True one can record, but there is always the chance that the boss will refuse to believe what he said if it will work out in his favor. I can easily say “Boss, I have it in my notes that you told me if I did X, Y, and Z within 90 days I would receive a raise. I performed X, Y, and Z however it’s been over a year and I would like to re-visit this conversation”, and the boss could easily say “I never said that” even though he did.

        1. LSCO

          Maybe, but an email to oneself will be date/timestamped, which will help overcome accusations of falsified note (and I assume some note-taking programmes would do much the same). It would be a long game to send an email to yourself 6 months before you try to “catch” the boss out. Sure, some things can be doctored or fakes, but again.. it’s a lot of effort and only the really paranoid or insecure are going to argue it.

          1. 2horseygirls

            Having worked for one of those paranoid, insecure bosses, I am here to say it is very possible.

            I had filled out a vacation slip (including the date, as we all automatically fill things in), then held it for a week because I wasn’t sure the plans were solid. When they were confirmed, I submitted it without looking at the date at the top.

            When my boss called me in to deny it (which was a whole other can of worms), she had the employee contract in front of her. She accused me of DELIBERATELY submitting it outside the 72 hour window of approval stated in the contract to GET HER IN TROUBLE.

            I was flabbergasted! I had worked in another department for 6.5 years prior, and received slips all the time from my teammates with “out of the window of approval” dates on it. Our boss didn’t make a big deal about it, and neither did we – it’s not like she ever denied a vacation request (she might make a comment about making sure there was coverage (ie, the whole web team couldn’t be out on the same day. but we were expected to sort it out among ourselves)).

            AND FormerBoss brought it up in my review as well (along with 13 months of stuff she had just been sitting on because “she had to have something to put on the review” – naturally…..). I literally sat there with my mouth open, then regrouped and said ” What in the past 14 months of supervising me, or the past 5 years of working with me in the other department, would make you think I would do something like that?” She actually looked embarrassed for two seconds, before continuing to explain to me in great detail how much I sucked.

        2. Lindsay J

          But even if you do have the email, the boss can say, “Well I said X, Y, and Z, but obviously I meant you need to do A, B, and C also.” “I did say that but circumstances have changed and now a raise just isn’t in the cards at this particular moment.” “You did do X, Y, and Z but you also did terrible thing Q which means we can’t even consider you for a raise at this point.” “That discussion meant you would be considered for a raise if you did X, Y, Z, and you were considered but it didn’t happen for other reasons.” Someone who doesn’t want to be held to their word will find a way to weasel out of it. And since an email generally isn’t a binding contract, “Eh, I changed my mind” is really all they need to say to get out of it and you don’t have much recourse other than to escalate to someone above him or search for another job, both of which you can do without email.

    4. NJ Anon

      I’m with you. If my boss decided she didn’t want emails, there would be an Exodus right out the door. She has a terrible memory (or is totally scatter brained or both). She is a horrible communicator as well. We all need to cover our collective assets!

    5. Stranger than fiction

      Yeah, I think that’s what is at the heart of this letter. I’m not a lawyer, but I believe that any written documentation can be used in court. It may not be as neat and official and time-stamped as an email would be. But if the Op has organized, dated notes, I’m pretty sure that would be fine. I may have even read that here in one of the comments.

  8. Katie the Fed

    “even though I have explained I want them as a record”

    There’s not enough side eye in the world for how I would feel if one of my employees told me that. It’s weirdly adversarial and makes it sound like you feel you need a court reporter around when you engage with you boss.

    The man wants you to talk to him instead of emailing, so talk to him instead of emailing. He’s allowed to set his preference for communications.

    1. snuck

      That’s how I feel about it. I’ve had adversarial employees in the past who would scribble in diaries all day long and were always muttering about something. They were also (generally) the ones most likely to cause a kick up if you wanted to change any element of work conditions (even simple things like which day the fridge gets cleaned out in the lunchroom or whether the copier will be positioned here, or there) and were a complete NIGHTMARE when you wanted to change something that actually affected them. Heaven forbid you change (with union interaction and support) the whole centre’s working hours to meet daylight savings times… the biggest ructions would come from this small and difficult group of employees. They would also regularly dip their nose into business that was nothing to do with them, and stir it up. Several workplaces, several industries, every place had at least one of them. ARGH!

      In the OP’s previous job they were taught to send emails, in the current one it’s entirely possible the boss has dealt with a bunch of annoyingly pedantic previous staff and has a low tolerance for this stuff now!

      1. Katie the Fed

        “Several workplaces, several industries, every place had at least one of them.”

        Oh god, yes. The self-appointed hall monitor. Too many bosses are too afraid of them, too.

      2. Erin

        I laughed out loud at this.

        I’ve always kept informal records at work, not to record things so much like the OP (although I do think that is good practice) but to remind myself of what I’m working on. Okay I worked on Project X Monday, Tuesday had a meeting with Cheryl on Project Y, so on Wednesday I should probably move to Project Z I’ve had on the back burner, and should circle back with Cheryl by Friday…

        Or, I want to be able to answer my boss clearly if he asks what I’ve been working on instead of going blank and thinking, what the hell DID I do today.

        But yeah, now I’m wondering if people see me writing in my notebook if they think I’ve got a Harriet the Spy situation going on where I’m watching all of them and keeping tabs. Haha.

        1. Mimmy

          Now I don’t see anything wrong with keeping personal notes to keep track of what you’re doing. I’m the same way.

        2. Katie the Fed

          One of my employees takes very detailed notes with dates and such, and it’s really useful. Someone can say “I think we had a similar thing to this last month” and he can go back and find it. It’s not weird or suspicious. Now, if he said “I’m keeping track of everything so I have a record” that would be really strange.

        3. snuck

          Nope. Your fine. It’s about attitude. You might be one of those employees who keeps a close record, and it can be helpful. If you are using your records in a negative way all the time that’s completely different. If your records are so you can keep track of your workload, normal within context of your job/tasks, and generally just simple task management then it’s fine.

          If you are scribbling down in a diary hunched over so no one can see it… If you are noting what time staff come in and out (that you don’t manage)…. If you are noting down every conversation EVER with your boss in detail to the point of ridiculousness (“Manager will reply to leave request by Tuesday” – Manager always approves leave requests on Tues and there’s no history of delayed leave requests – this note is unnecessary then) …. But writing down your tasks and looping back? That’s just your workstyle and fine.

    2. Boo

      I wonder if this has been misinterpreted in OP’s case? As an EA I’m a huge fan of a paper trail because I have a terrible memory and I need my emails etc to refer to, but to keep track of me not my boss or whoever else I’m emailing. I wonder if OP meant it in the way I do, as a record for themselves, and the boss took it at face value? Might be worth OP clearing that up.

      1. Lindsay J

        But then why would the OP still be pushing on the email thing? If she needed notes for herself to refer to she could jot down notes during the conversation and keep them in an organized notebook or transfer them to OneNote or Word or a ToDo or project management app or email them to herself or any other thing that doesn’t clog up the boss’s email when he’s specifically asked her to stop doing so.

    3. TootsNYC

      this!

      It’s actually a pretty adversarial sort of thing to do. It’s so often recommended as a tactic when you want to create evidence.

      I would totally have the same reaction as the boss.

      Now–if what’s going on is that in a particular instance, the instructions, etc., were kind of confusing, and you wanted to write it down and have him confirm that you got it all right, then ASK IN PERSON if you can do that, but don’t make it an email. “This is feeling kind of complicated–I’d like to draw up a list of these steps so I don’t forget one. If I bring that to you, would you look it over with me to be sure I didn’t miss something, or misunderstand it?”

      Because if it’s that, then all these email are not going to get you a good solid look from him; it’s just too many.

      1. snuck

        Try the old “Let me see if I’ve got this right, you want me to *insert dot point summary here* yes?” and now you’ve got clarification in verbal form.

        Unless it’s a highly technical and challenging issue, that requires very specific technical/coding or accounting or legal instructions… that’s when email clarification is probably useful. If the OP is a reporting analyst having to draw complex and detailed reports together then having an email trail is helpful so everyone knows what the report will cover. If it’s about how many people are going to book into the team meeting each week for catering purposes the boss probably doesn’t need explicit details.

    4. Artemesia

      If the OP is concerned that decisions later get denied etc, the way to continue is probably to keep her own record of the conversations in a running diary. If the problem is not public availability of the email then she could email a memo to herself for the record after conversations.

      Of it that is an issue, just keep some sort of memo or diary of discussions and decisions. It doesnt’ always have to be a shady boss who hangs employees out to dry when they do what they are told; it can also just be an environment in which things get confused or forgotten and having a decision record is useful. I would frame it if it every comes up as ‘keeping track of what we agreed I would do so I don’t forget’ rather than ‘document you.’

    5. Elizabeth West

      I think OP can just take notes as they talk, like writing down directives and the like. I would frame it as “I want to make sure I have these action items noted for future reference.” I’ve never had anyone object to this. She could just take a little pad and pen with her when she goes into these meetings.

  9. RobM

    “My boss has asked me to stop sending emails (even though I have explained I want them as a record) ”
    — so send yourself the email as a record and do what the boss wants.

    “Do I have any legal recourse if not offered the position? I can only assume it was due to something that was recorded, as this was my third interview in one week.”
    — I would suggest that if you don’t get the job because of something that was recorded, the problem isn’t that it was recorded (though I agree that’s shady) but that you said it.

    I’ve certainly been to jobs that have had more one or two interviews. Nothing unusual there per se.

    1. Mary

      This is what I do when I want a record of something I am working on. I send the email to myself. And then I file it away with the project correspondence. Sometimes I want to record details of meetings, actions, why I arrived at a conclusion etc.

      I find I look for things first in my emails so it makes sense to me to store my notes there too.

  10. nofelix

    #1 – In my industry it’s common to keep a ‘day book’, like a diary. Any time something important happens, write the date and topic at the top of the page and include some notes. I find it invaluable, and is a pretty reliable record.

    1. Michelenyc

      Mine too! I actually have a few that go back a few years because a lot of the information I can still use today.

    2. Cath in Canada

      I’ve carried this habit over from my days working in a lab, and it is so useful!

      I use notebooks with numbered pages, and label the books alphabetically. I then keep very brief notes in an Excel spreadsheet of which pages of which books relate to which projects. Then I can search the spreadsheet for “wasabi chocolate”, and go straight to pages B127 and C008 to find the relevant detailed notes from that project’s meetings. It takes a little time each week to keep everything up to date (it’s a good Friday 4 pm task), but saves me tons of time looking for my notes.

  11. hbc

    OP1: I’d make sure to check with your boss as to why he doesn’t want emails. If it’s just about his inbox, then keeping your own separate notes would be fine. But if it’s about keeping certain things without a paper trail, then he’s going to be ticked to find out about the notes. (It doesn’t have to be for nefarious reasons, depending on the subject matter and the likelihood of lawsuits.) And if he just doesn’t want you to spend 30 minutes covering every possible question he might have so he can take 10 minutes to read the email, when you both could have it covered in a 5 minute conversation, he might be fine with a summary email after you meet. (Especially if you have a key word in your subject line and he can filter those emails straight to a folder without seeing them.)

    Just ask so you can be sure you’re following the intention of his request. In person.

    1. Cody's Dad

      No, no,no! What part of don’t send the boss emails are you and the OP missing??!!

      If I was the boss and I gave you explicit instructions not to email me and then you send me a summary email I’d think of it as I TOLD you not to email me and now you are just doing what you want to anways! What part of my explicit instruction did you not comprehend?

      Some posters are thinking the boss is trying to hide something but I think you are reading too much into it as there’s no indication of that from the OP.

      I see it as a preferred style. OP wants everything documented and boss wants a face to face conversation. Seems pretty easy to me to see which style we will be using.

      I see the OP as extremely conscientious. I also see the Boss aggravated that EVERY little decision (or task) is emailed to me in which I must read several emails a day from OP, respond to them, read yet another response from OP in regards to my response even if it’s just saying ok or thank you….then repeat the cycle again bcse I asked you to do three things for me today and now I have three different email threads going back and forth bcse you need to document EVERYTHING! This would drive me insane! I don’t have time to email you all day long over anything and everything. Ask me in person, ask your follow up questions and be gone!

      And for the record I usually prefer email for quick questions and FYIs but if OK was my admin asst. she did drive my nuts! TAKE NOTES!

      1. Katie the Fed

        I actually prefer a lot of stuff on email – like someone asking to take leave next month – I like to be able to refer to that later if it didn’t make it on the shared calendar or something.

        But that’s my preference. And guess what? I’m the boss, so my preference wins. OP’s boss doesn’t want email and is getting annoyed that he’s not being listened to.

      2. hbc

        Wow, did you even read what I wrote? I said to *ask* the boss *why* he prefers no emails to better understand why he’s saying it. In other words, to better follow the instructions and the intent behind them. If it’s just about style, there’s absolutely nothing conflicting about face to face conversations and documentation–the documentation can either be after the fact or to OP’s own inbox.

        To be clear, I’m imagining something like “I’m going to come to you first with items like X and Y as you’ve asked, but I want to make sure I understand the ‘no email’ rule. Is it that I’m sending too many emails or is it something else?” Assuming the answer is yes, then “Okay, you know I like to keep a lot of notes, so I’m just going to email myself–but after we talk.”

        1. Katie the Fed

          He’s already angry that OP is disregarding his clear guidance. No need to ask why (which would be super annoying). Just stop sending the man emails!

          1. JessaB

            “Why?” does actually have a valuable set of information attached to it. There’s actually a place between zero and a multitude, and if you’re not sure what on the spectrum DOES require an email (and I guarantee the answer is probably not zero things ever,) the conversation has to happen.

            And honestly the boss should probably have had the conversation first. I have a feeling that it’s possible they might have. To get to the point where it becomes “do not ever email me,” a good boss (not saying this one is) would probably have gone through don’t email me about x, z, 123, q.1″

            I just feel there’s a lot missing from this letter as to how it got this way or why.

            1. Katie the Fed

              Yeah, but at this point I think it should be limited to MAYBE a “is there anything at all you want me to email, or should everything be in-person?” Because frankly OP already sounds like she’s at the pain-in-the-butt stage and the best thing you can do at that point is the thing you were asked to do.

              1. fposte

                Yeah, I would take a request for more info at this point as a sign that they were going to do everything possible not to comply with a fairly simple request.

              2. insert witty name here

                I think hbc’s point is that the boss may want no records of any kind, even handwritten notes, and therefore the OP should ask “why” to ensure that the boss’s request is being carried out to the fullest.

                1. fposte

                  That’s not so much a “why,” as an “is it okay if I…?” And you’ll be a lot better off at this point avoiding a “why” construction.

            2. Stranger than fiction

              I’m with you. A just plin “Why?” could, however, come off as adversarial. I was always taught to say “How do you mean?”, although that doesn’t quite fit here. Either way, if clarification is needed, Op could ask, delicately. If not, just err on the side of caution and stop emails altogether in the meantime, and keep your own notes.

        2. Oryx

          The thing is, the boss is already angry at the OP for the emails. Going back and bringing it up yet again is probably not going to get a positive response.

          He’s the boss. He doesn’t need to give her a reason. He said, no emails. Don’t keep pushing this.

          1. Myrin

            Yeah. I feel like asking why could have happened the first time he brought it up but now that it’s already this Kinda Big Thing I wouldn’t recommend doing it (although I’d still be interested in why he’s so adamant about it but, well, can’t have everything).

            1. Katie the Fed

              It sounds like he’s asked her at least 3 times already. That’s two times too many.

              1. Oryx

                Yes, if I had a co-worker doing this, she’d be at BEC stage already with me. I can’t imagine I’d like a boss feeling that way.

            2. The Cosmic Avenger

              Ha! That’s what I get for commenting without reloading to look for new comments, I had the same thought below.

          2. The Cosmic Avenger

            Yes. I think the problem is that the OP could/should have done something like hbc suggested the very first time the boss mentioned not sending emails, but at this point they need to comply for a good long while, and then once the boss is happy with how they are handling communication, then maybe they could ask for clarification.

            1. fposte

              Right. If the OP ends up over-relying on email, the boss can correct her back a little. But it’s not a good idea to insist you have to understand the calibration before complying.

        3. LSCO

          I understand your intent here, but this really isn’t up for discussion. OP’s boss has said to stop sending emails. The reason doesn’t matter – maybe his inbox is too full, maybe he’s covering up something nerfarious, maybe he’s joined a new religion which forbids him from reading emails during daylight hours. It doesn’t matter – what matters is that he’s the boss and he’s asked OP to stop sending him emails. OP needs to follow that pretty clear instruction.

          FWIW OP, if you really want the back up of documentation, email yourself the same email you would have emailed your boss. The email will be date/timestamped which could help combat the potential accusation of it being falsified, you’ll still have notes to refer to if you need it and if there are ever any disputes, you can easily forward that email to others to say “boss said x y and z, I made sure I noted it down so I wouldn’t forget” or whatever. It’s not foolproof, but it’s no less foolproof than keep emailing the boss for

          1. Workfromhome

            +1 on this. Keep sending all the same emails you always have. Just don’t send them to your boss send them only to yourself. I agree that if the boss explicitly says no emails you need to comply but no emails to ME doesn’t mean the OP needs to disregard a system that has worked for them very well and has become a work habit.

            The process of writing an email reading oit over and making sure its what you want to say (or even leaving it on your drafts until you cool off and then deciding if you want to send) is a big part of my process. I’ll often write the email out then call and actually trash the email just because it helps me think things through.

            It would have been a good thing to ask why the first time because now its been brought up multiple times its going to seem argumentative. But I would still keep sending the emails to myself for the inevitable situation where someone (maybe even the boss’s boss) says “where is the email documentation for this big decision or for this big mistake you claim you only did as boss requested.

            I may be biased but I’m an email packrat and its saved my butt more than once. Maybe there are some work environments out there where the level of trust is high enough not to do it but I’ve never worked in one.

            1. Stranger than fiction

              Ah, I guess my mind ignored the part of the letter where the Op had already had the conversation with Boss multiple times. I just dug up an email I needed from 2012 the other day, so hopefully the Op’s notes can have really good headings and keywords for them to search on when the need arises. I’m a horrible note taker myself, so I’d probably opt for the emails to myself.

            2. leslie knope

              i think it’s really odd that people keep suggesting to make notes for yourself. how is that going to be useful as public record? can’t someone just say you falsified them?

              i also think it’s strange people are so adamant that there’s nothing odd about not wanting email records of conversations that happen. it’s definitely weird, and saying “he’s the boss so just do it” leaves a bad taste in my mouth. we know how people in authority can abuse it, and we’re suggesting someone adhere to a request NOT to document anything that goes on in the workplace?

              1. Ask a Manager Post author

                Because there are lots of perfectly legitimate reasons for the request — like simply having too much email, or feeling the topic will be easier/faster to discuss in person.

              2. fposte

                Well, the advice comes from a pragmatic standpoint–an employee who keeps refusing to do as the boss asks is an employee at high firing risk. And in general, doing stuff because the boss wants it is pretty much the rule, whatever taste it may leave. It honestly wouldn’t occur to me to always tell my staff why I want some things in one common form instead of another–I don’t explain why stuff needs to be in this font rather than that, for instance, but I just require that it is–because it would take twice as long to get everything done.

                In most workplaces it’s fine for employees to *ask* why if they are genuinely interested in the answer, not just as a way to say why can’t I have want I want (it’s like rejected job candidates that way). I would definitely have supported the OP’s inquiring why the first time it came up. But not now, because it’s too late for it to seem like anything but an evasion of the request for something that wasn’t unreasonable to ask for in the first place.

                In short, I think it’s one thing to say that bosses should generally explain stuff; it’s another to encourage somebody already in trouble for belaboring an error to drag the problem with her boss out further by questioning him.

              3. Katie the Fed

                “can’t someone just say you falsified them?”

                Who though? What investigation is going on in this hypothetical circumstance. What is everyone so worried about happening? I’m being serious here – people keep talking about proof and documentation and evidence – of what?

                I mean, let’s say there really is something illegal going on, like sexual harassment or embezzlement. Do we really think there’s going to be a magic bullet email exchange like:
                “Hey boss, just wanted to recap our meeting in which you called me an Oily Bohunk in reference to my eastern european heritage.”
                “Yep, that’s what I said!”

                or
                “Boss, just wanted to confirm you want me to transfer $200k from the company account to your personal one in the Cayman Islands.”
                “Yes, please do it by 4pm”

                Usually the reason you document things (and notes are ok) is to refresh your own memory when you get asked about something a few years later. So when you know something is heading to lawsuit territory, etc, you write down what you know happened when so that you’re prepared for a deposition in a year or two. But you usually wouldn’t do that unless you know something untoward is going on.

                1. JaneB

                  Well, it doesn’t have to be all about the law suit type situation.

                  For example, one boss I worked for would regularly flip through a report I’d prepared and ask something like “why on earth would you use X kind of graph?” Being able to say “because that’s what you asked for last week in your email” or “I emailed to get your approval last week” deflected that one nicely, especially if the email was in the project file – sometimes we had productive conversations about why he’d suggested that, or what he’d actually meant, sometimes he’d just tell me to go away and do it differently – but the same method didn;t work if you said something like “because you said x…” – THEN it was your fault for not listening, or you’d imagined the conversation, or he hadn’t been listening and hadn’t meant it that way. Email was ‘real’ for him in a way conversations weren’t, partly because he was very busy and genuinely didn’t remember conversations happening, partly because he was one of those ‘let’s paint it orange!’ people who throw ideas out into the world all the time verbally, good, bad and indifferent, and tended to think things through more when filtered through words on paper or a screeen.

                  So it was about self-protection, but more in the sense of protecting my time and not derailing my project for a week by following a wrong direction, rather than anything legalistic.

      3. Observer

        I think you are missing something. It’s worth asking, because it’s possible that the boss would not mind a summary AFTER a discussion, as long as it also had a keyword so that the boss could even use a rule to automatically file it away.

        The reason I say is because the OP says that her boss complained that she’s “too nervous to talk to him.” That indicates that he feels that a back and forth between them in email is more time consuming and annoying than a quick conversation, which is quite understandable. But, that doesn’t exclude a recap after the back and forth is done.

        But, don’t just do that. *Ask* and see that the boss says. And, DO NOT ARGUE!

        1. Observer

          I do agree with everyone who says that you need to comply FIRST and then ask about it. As well, you need to make it very clear that you will continue to do what the boss says, and that you are not questioning your boss’ correctness but trying to understand the limits of what he is requesting.

        2. hbc

          Yes, exactly, thank you.

          I’m probably coming at it with a dirty lens, in that a lot of people in my office will make these absolute pronouncements that don’t cover their actual pain points. “We are never going to give a credit to this customer ever!” Really, so if they pay up front and we ship them something bad, we’re not giving them their money back? Oh, no, what they mean is [something related.]

          If the anger is about keeping things off the record, sending self-emails is just as bad. If the anger is about not having a conversation first, the later emails are fine. You only know if you ask (carefully, and making clear that you’re planning to comply since the track record isn’t good.)

  12. Dom

    Try saying, “I’m not interested in your name, you worm.” That always gets them fired up.

    Oh wait, wrong kind of sub…

  13. Dangerously Cheezy

    OP1 – This really all depends on what she is emailing, when she is emailing and what she is emailing. At my old job I emailed about everything because the bosses had a very selective memory, but sometimes I’d take it too far and email someone a question when they were just standing around several feet away. The important emails for me were always getting or confirming specific/important instructions, people never gave instructions in a way conductive with taking notes so an email would be all I’d have for solid reference.

    I’m wondering if this is a case of the boss perhaps not checking his email often either because it isn’t important to him or there are just too many to tackle. So if she is emailing him questions and not asking them to his face, maybe he isn’t seeing the questions until it is too late – or even worse, she isn’t following up in person and just waiting for email replies.

    I think the best course of action would be to sit down and have a conversation about it, I think he’d rather have her ask questions about why rather then disobey him or constantly roll her eyes at his request. Both sides giving their reasoning could end up with a compromise and agreement over what is appropriate to email.

    OP5 – I think everyone should do this. I spent 2 years at a company and it was impossible for me to distinguish voices when they called my phone. It was so embarrassing to have to ask ‘who is this?’ a minute into the conversation. To respond to someone in a way of “I know who you are” just feels rude to me, she has a reason for introducing herself. Some people also have phone anxiety and need to follow a script when they call people. It would be much more polite to just say “Hi Tabitha, how are you?” or if you have caller ID you could always just start with “Hi Tabitha” and eliminate the need for her to introduce herself.

    1. fposte

      After the boss has corrected you on something like this twice, you don’t ask for a meeting unless you have a compelling reason you haven’t mentioned before, like you didn’t want to say that your ADHD means you need to email as an accommodation. The OP’s reason is just that she thinks that’s the right way, even though she’s been told more than once that it’s not and she needs to knock it off. That is not enough to justify asking for a meeting with the boss–all that’s going to do is cement the notion that she’s somebody who’s resistant to taking direction when it conflicts with her wishes.

    2. Erin

      I agree with you on number five. I’m sort of surprised there’s so much discussion on this one. Who cares if she identifies herself each time? That’s good practice when you’re making phone calls anyway. “Hi, this is so and so, I’m calling because (reasons).” “Hi so and so, I’d be happy to help you with that…”

      If she says it like a question, “Hi, this is Tabitha, one of your subs?” then yes absolutely say, “Of course, hi Tabitha!” but otherwise just let that go.

      1. Meg Murry

        Yes, I agree with this. If she is stammering and stumbling and taking a minute to get out “Um, Hi, this is um, Tabitha, um, one of your subs? Um, through Subcontractors R Us? In the, um Teapot Division?” I could see how that would be annoying and something you need to coach her on to break her of that. But if she’s just saying “This is Tabitha, one of your subs” the same as the “This is Jane Smith from Operations” as mentioned in another comment, I don’t think you need to worry about it.

        I am in the “provide me with a quick reminder of who you are please” camp, as a person who gets far too many “Hi Meg, this is Bob” calls, where I’m racking my brain thinking “Bob, Bob, who is Bob? Bob my neighbor? No, he wouldn’t be calling me at work. Bob from IT? Doesn’t sound like him. Oh, I bet it’s Bob from ABC Corp that I emailed last week, let me see if he gives me any more hints before I jump in and find out I’ve got the wrong Bob ….”

        1. Lily Rowan

          Yeah, I just did that in person — ran into a former coworker, and I could see in her face she didn’t quite know who I was, so I immediately said, “Lily Rowan from ABC Corp” — full name AND place we worked together.

    3. Amy UK

      “I think the best course of action would be to sit down and have a conversation about it, I think he’d rather have her ask questions about why rather then disobey him or constantly roll her eyes at his request.”

      I think he’d rather have her just follow the simple request he’s made with no eye rolling and no questions, to be honest.

  14. Fabulous

    #1 – I sympathize with OP. I can rarely remember details about face to face conversations and I am fully aware that I am a horrible note-taker. As such, I always work directly out of my email. If something is not documented there, it’s like it doesn’t exist. My work email is meticulously organized so that my inbox rarely gets cluttered with non-task related items. It really just sounds like the boss doesn’t know how to manage his inbox and gets mad at other people rather than taking the time to set up some sorting rules.

    1. Three Thousand

      I agree that it seems over the top for the guy to be so angry at this. Sure, he’s the boss and you don’t want to get fired over something stupid, but I’m definitely judging him for being cagey about why he doesn’t want emails and then getting mad about it.

      1. fposte

        He’s angry because he’s told a staffer at least twice to change what she’s doing and she’s still not doing it. I’d be ticked off too.

    2. BethRA

      Or he has a system that works for him, and is asking his employee to adhere to that system rather than the other way around? I’m all for managing up, but I would never expect my boss to ditch her organizing system for my benefit (especially since her other reports have systems of their own).

      If you need to organize yourself via email, but your boss doesn’t, you can always just email yourself.

    3. Michaela T

      Yeah, people are being really protective of the boss in their responses. Isn’t it important that a boss be willing to work with an employee in a way that works best for them? Or come up with a compromise? The OP specifically says the boss called them out *in front of the office* and accused them of being nervous to talk to him. That’s not good management, in my opinion.

      1. fposte

        “Isn’t it important that a boss be willing to work with an employee in a way that works best for them? Or come up with a compromise?”

        Well, no. In fact, it’s important for an employee to work with the boss in a way that works best for the boss. Yeah, the boss shouldn’t have said this in front of people, but the OP’s behavior would be a huge red flag for me as a manager–I’ve corrected you twice and you’re still not doing as you’ve been asked. Sure, there are situations where compromise is possible and reasonable, or where it doesn’t make any difference to the boss so the employee’s preference is deciding. But this is how the boss wants to get his information from the person whose job it is to support the boss.

        1. Anna

          I don’t know. I think it’s a two way street with the employee putting in more of the compromise. But the boss has absolutely stated there’s a preference and the employee should stick to that preference. It would be different if there were logistical reasons (employee has a disability or something), but I don’t think any boss should have a “do it my way or suffer” attitude.

          1. fposte

            I agree that that’s a bad approach; I also think it’s a bad approach for an employee to have an “explain it to me or I won’t do it” attitude, and the employee is the one who’s going to pay in that clash.

            That’s why Michaela’s comment alarmed me–it’s an expectation that can really lead you to disaster in the workplace. Sure, workplaces will offer what flexibility to employees they can because of the value that means to the organization. But in a situation where my preferred method of getting something to my boss differs from his preferred method of receiving it, he’s got the right of way, and it’s not reasonable of me to expect him to change to a method more convenient to me or to compromise. He is the boss of me. It’s right there in the name.

          2. Observer

            Also, it didn’t sound like a “do it my way or suffer because I AM THE BOSS and YOU ARE A PEON.” The boss actually does have at least one perfectly legitimate issue that he communicated. Considering that this was the THIRD time he called her on it for her to respond, essentially “Well, I don’t trust you and that’s how we did it at my last job” was never going to get a good response. To be honest, I am totally not surprised that her boss told her that he is getting angry.

      2. Artemesia

        It is not good management, but it is the management she has so she needs to learn to work with it. Sounds like more conversations with a diary she keeps to keep decisions clear for her as she works. And no more Emails.

      3. Anonymouish

        I think this is a ‘managing up’ scenario. Whether it’s a weird quirk of the managers or an attempt to get OP to stop asking permission for tiny things like changing email fonts, it’s going to be in OP’s best interest to get along and do what he wants. The manager does not have the same obligation, as it’s in his best interest to hire people who can work efficiently towards his/the company’s goals.

        1. fposte

          To me this isn’t even managing up; that’s when you try to change your manager. This is just doing what your boss tells you to do–which is pretty much the basic requirement of a job. And it’s not like you get off that hook once you’re managing somebody else–the OP’s boss is doing stuff the way his boss has told him to, and that boss is doing things the way his boss has told him to, etc.

      4. leslie knope

        i understand that you should follow your boss’ instructions which the OP did not do, so obviously the boss is annoyed; however, i find it really jarring for people to be saying “do as you’re told” like the OP is a servant and the boss can do whatever they want. i realize that they’re the boss but employees aren’t mindless drones.

        1. Fabulous

          I once had a manager who had the “do as you’re told” mindset. He wanted our inboxes to be at zero at the end of the day, our task list to be entered into Outlook (wording the task his way only, no exceptions), AND have a written list too, which would then be reviewed with him in the morning to prioritize our day. He was insane.

          1. afiendishthingy

            But this is totally different from OP’s situation. He’s concerned about the state of his own inbox, not OP’s.

          1. Fabulous

            It’s not so much “forfeiting your personhood”, it’s working against what’s natural to you. If it’s not natural to do things one way and someone is forcing it upon you, I don’t know about others, but I have a tendency to rebel against it. It’s kind of similar to how kids/people learn. Not everyone can sit in a lecture and absorb it all, some people need visual cues, some people need hands-on.

            The workplace is the same; some people work differently than others. Compromises must be made to work together effectively, even if (in this situation) it’s “If you can email me your requests, I will bring any questions or follow ups to you in person.”

            1. afiendishthingy

              But the boss is asking for the OP to bring these issues to him in person rather than email, and she’s continuing to email. So you could say she’s working against what’s natural to him. He’s not trying to change her entire working style, he’s telling her how he wants stuff to be directed TO HIM. This isn’t micromanaging.

        2. Sparrow

          But is having a conversation in person rather than writing an email really going to undermine an employee’s personhood? This blog definitely demonstrates that there are some bosses that do or demand things that are beyond the pale, and employees should push back in those cases. I have a hard time slotting instructions to follow the boss’s preferred (and totally rational) communication method into that category.

          1. fposte

            Yeah, I think there’s a long way on the spectrum between “mindless cog” and “acceding to the boss’s expressed wishes in a common way.” It reminds me of the OP who was annoyed that her boss put papers on her chair (I’ll link in followup).

            It does feel a little to me like some people are just uncomfortable with the notion that bosses get to tell people what to do. But they do, and that’s not the same thing as making employees into automatons; they’re just people who need to follow directions when they’re given.

            1. afiendishthingy

              Yes. I’m sorry, but what do people think “boss” means? Obviously there’s more to the job than “tell people what to do”, but that’s clearly part of it.

  15. Jess

    OP5: Is it possible that Tabitha is *required* to identify herself as one of the subs? If your subs are from a different company, such as a staffing agency, then it’s a possibility.

    I work as a federal contractor, and our contract requires all of us to identify ourselves as such in all communications (phone, email, face-to-face). Just last week I was on a teleconference and momentarily forgot, so my intro went, “This is Jess from [place]. Excuse me, contractor from [place].” This is a regular teleconference and the facilitator was all, “Oh, Jess you don’t have to do that,” but I had to tell her that I’m required to do that.

  16. Erin

    #2 – For what it’s worth…I’m pretty lackadaisical about being recorded. I live in a one party consent state, and as a freelance writer, I sometimes interview people over the phone without telling them they’re being recorded (as long as they’re in my state, obviously). On the flip side, for my day job, I often have to call places where they record everything. Which they do tell me, but basically I almost always assume when I’m calling a business I’m being recorded.

    And I think what happened to you sounds really shady. Not just because you live in a two party consent state and they didn’t consent you until you noticed what was up, but because it was being visually recorded. It wasn’t just the audio. That seems so much more invasive to me.

    I’m sorry you’ve already been to three interviews with these people, but this would be enough information for me to take my hat out of the ring. Are they recording their employees during the day, without telling them? What else are they shady about? I would always be wondering.

    1. videogamePrincess

      Wait–is it obvious they’re being recorded? I would feel weird anytime I was being recorded without being let know, but if the setup was obvious that would be basically equivalent.

      1. Erin

        Honestly, I’m not sure. I’ve been so nonchalant about this because of my own nonchalance when it’s the other way around, but I’ve been thinking about making it more clear at the start of the phone call just in case.

  17. KWB

    #5-“Harriet Jones, Prime Minister!”

    (A quote from a popular 21st century Earth TV show, but I guess what I mean is, that is kind of endearing when wildly famous people do it, but wildly annoying when anyone else does it. And the criteria for “wildly famous” are hard to meet.)

    1. Aunt Vixen

      I was just coming in to make exactly this reference. “Yes, we know who you are.” :-D

    2. Naomi

      IIRC, it kind of went the other way for Harriet Jones. When it was “Harriet Jones, MP for Flydale North”, it was necessary to tell everyone who she was. Once it was “Harriet Jones, Prime Minister”, everyone up to and including the Daleks responded with a weary “Yes, we know who you are!”

    3. TootsNYC

      Glamour magazine ran a cover story/interview w/ Kim Kardashian West.

      When the writer went to Kris Jenner’s house to interview Kim, she waited in a comfortable living room.
      In walks Mrs. West, who walks up to the writer and says, “Hi, I’m Kim.”

      The writer was terribly charmed; she was expecting to meet Kim, Kim is famous, but Kim still introduced herself.

  18. cataloger

    #1 I’m not suggesting that the OP continue to send the boss email, but to those suggesting that she just take better notes or send herself an email, that may not serve the same function; such notes do keep a record of your understanding of a situation, but an email to the boss is more like a confirmation of shared understanding. If on July 7 the boss says one thing, and OP says “but my notes from March 12 say this,” that’s not as strong as “my email to you on March 12 says this, and you said that was right (or at least didn’t correct it)”.

    1. TootsNYC

      That’s so adversarial, though. And it’s obvious.

      It’s also really unfair–it’s playing “gotcha.” I would totally reject that premise–that your email must have been right because I didn’t correct it.

      We had the conversation, I’m not going to read through the whole confirming email. I’m busy–I don’t have time. I regard that email as junk mail.

      If you want me to confirm the procedure, you need to directly come to me and say, “I’m making a list of what’s supposed to happen, would you look it over?”

      The OP didn’t mention that her boss is prone to saying one thing and remembering another. So I’m going to assume he’s not.

      Also–she STARTS with an email, it seems, at least on some things. He wants her to come to him for face-to-face communication.

    2. LSCO

      That’s true – but OP can still get the confirmation and acknowledgement from her boss verbally, and record that in her own notes (if she wants to). Of course the boss could easily say he didn’t say x y z 6 months ago, but a timestamped email to yourself with the line “checked with Boss what pattern to paint on the teapots, he agreed the xyz pattern” will still serve as back up if you need it – few people are going to argue you’ve gone to all the trouble to fake a note and doctor the timestamp, or even more ludicrously send yourself the *wrong* note just so you can catch the boss out at a later date.

  19. S.I. Newhouse

    OP #2: A company that films you on a webcam without your consent, to me, is really creepy. It’s natural to be disappointed that you haven’t yet been offered the job, but you may want to ask yourself, is this really the kind of place you want to work?

    Yes, I know there’s a good chance that the webcam is there just so the employers can recall aspects of the interview later, and no other nefarious reason. But still… to me, that’s creepy as hell.

    1. Ama

      Yeah, if the OP noticed the webcam and the interviewer then said “Oh, I’m sorry, I forgot to tell you [reason for recording the interview]” that would be one thing, but it sounds like the interviewer didn’t volunteer a reason for the recording or act particularly apologetic about not telling OP upfront, which concerns me. At the very least, it sounds like communication at this office is not great.

  20. calonkat

    #5, I tend to do this. I have a somewhat old fashioned first name, and I still don’t want to assume that I am the ONLY person with that first name the person I’m calling deals with. If given a choice between a brief intro (I’m Ethel, one of your subs) or launching into a conversation while the person is still trying to remember WHICH Ethel they are speaking to, I always go with the brief intro.

  21. CH

    OP2 I’d be hesitant accepting job with this company. As SI Newhouse said they could be filming you to recall aspects of the interview, it’s something they could have easily mentioned. Why be so secretive? I’m concerned that you are in a two party consent state and it wasn’t even mentioned until you discovered the situation. Surely any business owner would know they needed your consent and if they don’t then there is something wrong internally with the company. I realize my opinion might be be going overboard but if the company is overlooking this situation (no matter how trivial their reasons were for filming/ recording), I’d question what else is being done so lax at this company.

    1. Stranger than fiction

      Well, if you’re overboard, then I am too. I get the feeling there’s other people in the company reviewing the video to see if the candidate has the right “look”, which is discrimination territory. Otherwise, the interviewer would have disclosed it up front.

    2. Jade

      This is a good point. If the interviewer was on top of things, they should have had paperwork for consent ready to be signed before they began. I feel like they were hoping OP wouldn’t notice, or else they would have been apologetic when OP found out. If I were OP, I’d run away from that place. I’d also leave some reviews behind to give people a friendly (no need to be malicious) heads up to ask the interviewer if they are being recorded before beginning their own interviews. Glassdoor has separate pages under each company where you can discuss your interview process. That would be an excellent place to leave this little tidbit of information.

  22. BethRA

    OP4 might also, at some point, want to suggest that the Board amend their bylaws to prevent a situation like this from happening in the future (assuming she builds a good enough relationship with them). Having a Board officer apply for a leadership position in an organization while still on the Board is a huge conflict.

  23. Working with boards

    #4 Working with a board can be tricky. A group of people who are not involved with the organization on a day-to-day basis and who do not have your expertise and inside knowledge get to review all your decisions. You do not say in your letter, but generally directors meet with their boards only once a month, which gives you the duration of that meeting (an hour or two) to explain everything you and the organization have done for the past 30 days and gives the board an equal amount of time to determine whether they are confident that you are doing your job well.

    I disagree to some extent with Alison’s advice here, in that I would not address this directly with other board members, especially this early in your term. Instead, I would work at developing positive relationships with the other board members so that you can count on their support in a vote. I would also make my reports to the board as thorough and transparent as possible to provide less opportunity for nitpicking.

    I would only have direct conversations with the chair or other board members if the chair was seriously overstepping boundaries, like disparaging you in a public setting or to your staff. Nitpicking is annoying, exhausting, and even demoralizing, but it can be construed as being within the realm of a board member’s responsibilty of oversight, and as directors, we need to be tough enough to withstand it. Working with difficult people is an opportunity to develop important interpersonal skills. Show the rest of the board they made the right choice in hiring you by withstanding these attacks with resolve, grace, and good information.

    Best wishes!

    1. Erin

      Ugh, boards. I used to work with a seriously corrupt one; boards always leave me with a bad taste in my mouth.

      I agree with your advice – I think it would be better to develop a good rapport with the other board members, letting them see you for who you really are.

      I would head off the nitpicking and decision questioning as best as possible in the moment, probably seeming confused that she’s asking stupid questions. “I’ve done it this way since I was brought on, and understood it to be the best course of action – is there a reason you don’t think so?” “I was under the impression I had free reign over this and didn’t need to check in with the board – did something change?”

      I don’t think anything is to be gained by confronting either her or the other board members. Only if it’s literally impacting the ability to do work, and then I’d address it more like the board in general, not her specifically. “I’m finding when I’m working on X project I get calls and check ins so frequently it’s actually a detriment to my work flow. This is how I handled the Y project, which the client was pleased with – can I handle X the same way, maybe checking in just once halfway through, or what do you think would be a good system here?” That sounds better and less adversarial than “Jane calls me five times a day whenever I’m working on a project. Clearly my work speaks for itself and I know what I’m doing, so can we stop the micromanaging or what?”

      But if you can, I’d just keep plugging away and letting your accomplishments pile up. The other, non-bitter board members should recognize the good work you’re doing, without having that image of you muddled up by your issues with this woman. If she’s acting unreasonably, which is sounds like she is, then her actions will reflect her, not you. If the other board members are sane they’ll see that.

  24. Jiffy

    My boss is so paranoid about being hung out to dry that she prints out paper copies of all emails, thinking that one day she may be blocked from the computer system and unable to access her CYA emails. Meanwhile her office is tiny and stacked wall-to-wall with books and papers like a hoarder’s paradise. Good luck finding anything!

    1. Ad Astra

      Well, I’ve always wondered what could possibly motivate people to print all their emails, so at least now I have an answer.

      1. Erin

        I used to try to keep hard copies of all electronic copies so that one system backs the other one up. If the computer crashed, we have hard copies; if there’s a fire, we have electronic copies.

        But with “clouds” and storing things online these days it’s sort of a moot point.

        I do have a coworker who likes hard copies, and other coworkers had to move a very large and expensive (and arguably unnecessary) filing cabinet into his office. When he already has several. :P

        1. Elizabeth West

          This is what my old boss used to make me do with packing lists generated in our Access shipping database. If I needed to reprint a packing list, or needed to see what was sent, all I had to do was search it. But I had to print a copy for the box and a copy for two rapidly filling file drawers that we never referred to. She insisted we have it, just in case, even though everything was backed up regularly. When she and her husband (the GM) left after the buyout, I trashed all the copies and quit doing it. It saved SO much paper.

          The company also printed every single quote they sent (usually by fax). Gaaaaaaah.

        2. Stranger than fiction

          Yeah, we have a manager like that. We call her Tree Killer. When I started, I was told it was because she didn’t know how to scroll or search her way through a spreadsheet, but actually the stuff rarely even gets reviewed by her. I actually stopped printing certain things for her several months ago and nobody has noticed, because everything just gets filed away by her assistant.

        1. Anonymous Educator

          Or, if you use an email client like Mail or Thunderbird, you can make offline copies of emails. There’s really no need to print them all out to paper. Honestly, as long as you’re “printing,” might as well print to PDF and save paper.

      2. Chinook

        “I’ve always wondered what could possibly motivate people to print all their emails, so at least now I have an answer.”

        DH, a man who has elevated the reduction of everything he doesn’t need to an art form (though I do point out that, for every Zelda and Kingdom Hearts game he owns, he has sold and then bought them back at least 5 times at a net loss of hundreds of dollars and I now insist he just gives them to me to hoard instead) actually prints out and takes home CYA emails because he is convinced someone is out to derail his career. He is so paranoid about this that even electronic copies aren’t good enough and they must be paper because no one can delete those. This is a man who has never had a paper version of a tax form or pay slip, which is to say that it isn’t just hoarders who feel the need to print those emails.

        As for Jiffy’s boss cutting down on the overall number of trees lying dead in her office – there is hope. My boss, when I started, had a an office that was legendary for being covered by paper. She has slowly taken to trusting the computer system and is now down to only four or five stacks of paper, and those are only because the documents require a physical signature as proof of being read. It only took 4 years for her to transform.

  25. SunnyDayGirl

    Well, I had a new boss where at the beginning I asked his preferences. He said, email, phone, whatever, but if in a bind, you can call my cell, I’m always available. Except he wasn’t. He said, no need for weekly touch points by phone (he was in another province) but could not keep track of things I needed from him (authorizations, dates, etc.). He finally reinstated the weekly touch points (they were done regularly with my previous boss) only to miss them, forget them or say, “yes, I’ll take care of that” or “remind me in x days” and then forget what we had discussed.

    He finally said, you know what? Don’t email, just call me and we can resolve things faster (after a particular painful exercise in misunderstanding and miscommunication, by email and by phone – it’s a long story where it turns out he was in the wrong). Turns out he had over 1000 unread emails. Now, to be completely fair, he was the senior operations manager for multiple sites and there was a lot of work but he had a team of three admins strategically located to farm off work to and I was one of them! He just was not that organized…and the exploding inbox just made it worse.

    But unless he was taking notes on his end – and I suspect he wasn’t – using his preferred method wasn’t making the work go any smoother. He would send over workmen to a remote site with NO warning to me, or to the remote site, despite liking his phone over email and then sounded surprised when I told him that he had to warn staff when workmen were being sent over.

    OP1 – take notes; email yourself and see how the workflow goes. If things appear to go smoothly and work gets done, then accept this change in workplace culture. If you find yourself chasing him for answers/results/deadlines because of conversations that are not well remembered, I would suggest summary emails. Give it a few months and see how it goes.

  26. TootsNYC

    #5–instead of the annoyyance (which focuses on you), maybe find a little sympathy (which focuses on her)

    If this has any meaning at all (as opposed to simply being a habit), it speaks to her level of confidence. She doesn’t think you will remember her; she doesn’t think subs are “real people” to your company.

    If it reflects on you at all, it -might- be an indicator that you’re sort of “not quite real” in your interactions w/ her or other subs, and treat them a little off-handedly. And that might be something you’d want to change–IF it was true.

    But even then, it’s far more about her than you. Being annoyed makes it about you; don’t go there.

    Alison’s got a great script. Add a welcoming tone to your voice, and you might go a long way to fixing the underlying problem.
    And if you don’t–remember: it’s not about you. It’s about her, and whatever manners she has adopted, or whatever insecurities she struggles with. Either way, it’s her, not you.

  27. Mimmy

    #1 sounds like a real mismatch in communication preferences. Is this the kind of thing that a candidate can ask about in a job interview? I know that I can never remember anything in face to face conversations unless I take notes–I need that dual input for anything to stick in my brain!

    #2 – Hmm. While I think this interviewer handled the camera thing inappropriately, I wonder if he wanted to be able to refer back to the recording in making his hiring choice and felt that not telling the OP would be the only way to have an honest assessment. Or, perhaps he was concerned that by telling interviewees they were being recorded up front, it would make them nervous. I know if I knew I was being recorded, I’d feel very self-conscious, which would likely impact my interview performance. Doesn’t make it right though–if they’re in a two-party consent state, what he did was illegal.

  28. Scott M

    #5 : I often remind other employees who I am when I call them, often using my last name and which department I work for. I do this because I have problems remembering people/voices, and I kinda forget that others don’t have the same problem.

    For example
    1. I don’t recognize people’s voices easily over the phone, so I want them to know which ‘Scott’ they are talking to. So I say “Scott M___, from I.T.”
    2. I have trouble remembering people (I’ll remember the subject of the conversation, but not the person). So if you talked to me a few weeks ago, I’ve probably forgotten who you are. Even if we worked together on a project for 6 months, if we haven’t interacted for a few weeks, I’ll have to be prodded to remember who you are.

    Maybe the OP has the same issue and forgets that not everyone is like this.

    1. Sparrow

      I do this, too, but it’s because I assume the other person won’t remember me. I frequently reach out to people in the organization I don’t have regular contact with, so I do it for context. If I talk to them enough, I’ll drop the last name (I have a fairly uncommon first name), but I still include department!

    2. OP 5

      My organization isn’t that large (130), and our substitutes are actually our employees (not employed by a 3rd party). Everybody pretty much knows everybody, which is why I thought it was interesting that she would fully identify herself every single time on the phone. But if she chooses to do that, I guess there’s nothing wrong with it.

  29. Former Retail Manager

    #1….If the OP is reading comments, I’d be interested to know what types of things are being e-mailed to the boss. I think it will provide more context. I’d also do what he’s asking and not bring it up again and see if his attitude toward you improves.

    If it’s just mundane stuff that is cluttering the inbox, or basic instructions that shouldn’t need to be repeated or can be found elsewhere, then I see the Boss’ point.

    However, I will say that everyone that I have ever interacted with that was adamant about not sending e-mail, had a reason other than excessive e-mails cluttering their inbox. They all didn’t want a paper trail for one reason or another. Mind you, it may have nothing to do with the OP. It may have something to do with their own boss, such as a directive about not wanting certain things in writing, that you may never be aware of. But I have never found it to be a particularly innocuous reason and if a situation arises, it becomes a he said/she said in which the Boss will almost always be believed based upon their position and tenure.

    I currently interact with an internal technical advisor on a periodic basis who always responds to e-mails with a phone call or a procedural cite that I can locate on my own, and leaves much room for interpretation. It’s infuriating when you have to take actions based upon someone’s directive that they refuse to put in writing because if it turns out to be wrong, it is then on you, and not them. They can then come back and say that you must have misunderstood their directive……and voila….a he said/she said situation. My own, very detailed, notes taken during the conversation and immediately afterward have never really helped the situation.

    And all of this is not to say that certain things shouldn’t be discussed via e-mail, but it sounds like Boss needs to tell OP that he doesn’t want to discuss e-mails about X, Y, and Z via e-mail due to the sensitive nature, etc.

    Could OP maybe ask a co-worker whom she has a good relationship with if they’ve encountered this issue or which issues shouldn’t be discussed via e-mail. Maybe they could shed some light on the situation?

    1. TootsNYC

      Well, the one thing this boss has said is, “are you nervous about meeting with me face-to-face?”

      So that might be an indicator that his insistence is about creating a face-to-face relationship, that the relationship is what he’s focusing on.

      I know that if I am often frustrated by staffers who do everything by email instead of talking to me. I like a personable relationship in the office; it’s one of the tools I use for motivating, rewarding, etc. And, it’s my style. So people who frequently put up the screen of email make me uncomfortable.

      1. Meg Murry

        Yes, I wondered if OP appears to be sending emails as a way to avoid her manager, or is sending emails when the situation requires a timely response and the manager doesn’t check emails very often. For instance, if the manager has taken to the “only check email at certain times of the day” approach and OP is emailing with questions that could be solved with a simple check-in or phone call (and it appears in this case that the manager wants OP to make that type of communication) much faster.

        I’ve seen people use email as a way of procrastinating and drawing out a task waaaay too long, instead of making a simple phone call and asking the boss “X or Y?” or trying to spell out a situation in email that would go much smoother by just handing the person a spreadsheet or other visual aid and pointing right at the place related to the question. OP, any chance you are sending emails about things you are otherwise procrastinating about, because you are nervous to tell the boss the status (hey boss, I need your help with this file that is actually already 2 weeks late)?

        1. TootsNYC

          Well, if it’s that the boss doesn’t check emails frequently, our OP should specifically say that, and ask him for ways to get what she needs in time.

          But the only thing she gave as a reason (to us, when she had time to put in anything she thought was important) was:

          when I have important information I am communicating with him, I have always been taught from previous roles to have an email record. His response was that he is getting angry that I send him emails. What would you recommend? I would feel extremely uncomfortable not having email records.

          It seems to be about documenting. Maybe also about clarity.

          So if she wants it written down, she should think about why SHE wants it. And then figure out how to get that without emailing.
          Maybe it’s writing out a procedure and going over it with him. Maybe it’s about saying, “I find that often you tell me I’ve done something wrong, and I am certain I’ve done what you said in our conversation about it. What can I do to be sure we’re both on the same page, and we’re not remembering things differently?”

    2. TootsNYC

      If I found out that someone who had been told 3 times to stop emailing me and just come talk to me, had been asking colleagues for ways to get around it, I’d be really annoyed.

      1. Former Retail Manager

        I’m not suggesting she ask colleagues for ways to get around it. I’m suggesting she ask them why the boss is so dead set against the e-mail that he’s mentioned it to her multiple times and is now angry with her. He clearly feels strongly, but she seems to not understand why. Perhaps if she had the why, she would understand his point of view. Regardless, she should comply with his request. And I agree with the face to face relationships. I’m a fan of them.

  30. TootsNYC

    And last (sorry–I keep having these thoughts)

    they refuse to put in writing because if it turns out to be wrong, it is then on you, and not them. They can then come back and say that you must have misunderstood their directive……and voila….a he said/she said situation. My own, very detailed, notes taken during the conversation and immediately afterward have never really helped the situation.

    An email from you is not going to help the situation either. The answer will be, “you misunderstood me, and I don’t have time to read and reply to your follow-up ‘gotcha’ emails.”

    1. Anonymous Educator

      An email from you is not going to help the situation either. The answer will be, “you misunderstood me, and I don’t have time to read and reply to your follow-up ‘gotcha’ emails.”

      Yeah, that could work, but it’s slightly less convincing. If you email someone and say “Just to follow up on our conversation, my understanding is that we agreed on X, Y, and Z to be implemented in such-and-such a fashion,” and then the person does not respond with “No, that’s not correct,” the bluffing is a lot less convincing. Of course, if that person is your manager, she doesn’t really have to convince you of anything. It’s more like you just not feeling gaslit.

      1. Graciosa

        I really don’t think it’s unconvincing, but some of the executives I work with have inboxes that routinely contain thousands of messages. There is honestly no way these are all being read.

        There are entire management courses devoted to managing your electronic inbox, and I have yet to see one that did not include some instruction to eliminate unnecessary email at the source.

        I would absolutely believe that the email was never read.

        The only difference I see between the email to the boss and any records the OP decides to maintain for her own use without involving her boss is that the insubordination of the former could seriously damage their relationship.

    2. Former Retail Manager

      In my scenario above, I am asking someone for guidance on a particular action to take, and they refuse to commit to anything in writing. They instead call. If that course of action is later questioned, then I have nothing to fall back on because they are playing games and won’t put it in writing, despite being the expert in that particular area. I accept their phone call, make notes of it, but I don’t e-mail them a recap. There is no point. They wouldn’t respond anyway.

      In my scenario, an example might be:
      Me: I have situation XYZ. The manual says that it could be treated THIS way or THAT way. Based on the facts and circumstances outlined above, do you recommend THIS way or THAT way?
      Expert: Responds with manual citation, copied and pasted, that says “Situation could be treated THIS way or THAT way.” Yep…I already know that….not helping when it is your job to direct me on a course of action.

      Expert then responds with a phone call suggesting I do something THIS way or THAT way, but refuses to ever put it in writing. I will recap the telephone call with expert in my notes, but never send an e-mail. When my work is later reviewed, all that ever exists are my own notes about our phone call, that they can easily dispute.

      1. TootsNYC

        Yes, but your email saying: “Per your recommendation in our phone call, I’m going to do it THIS way” can also be denied. You misunderstood. And they didn’t open your email because they thought you were done w/ the convo.

        It would be as credible as an email to yourself that says, “Per expert, phone call X, we’ll do it THIS way.”

        1. Anonymous Educator

          Actually, it’s a bit more credible than an email to yourself. An email to yourself doesn’t have the chance to be looked at by anyone but you. If you sent the email to your boss, your boss has the opportunity to look at it. Now your boss may not actually look at it, but she has the opportunity to. If you send it to yourself, you can write “My boss said I get %500 raise next year,” and your boss, even if she wanted to check all her emails, would never see that email.

          1. Graciosa

            Only if you assume the boss actually read it, which is not necessarily a good assumption.

            And this explanation to justify the email definitely signals an adversarial relationship. Turning a boss into an enemy rarely works out well for the employee.

  31. Lindsay J

    #3, definitely don’t turn down the job in your field.

    It sounds like your relative offered you this position in order to help you out, more than anything else. It doesn’t sound like you are replacing an existing employee, it sounds like he is adding one. So it’s not like he has had an unfilled position with work piling up for months while waiting for you.

    Plus, y’all agreed that it was temporary and transitional, and even when the job is not offered by a relative, most bosses understand that an employee will leave temporary work if offered a more permanent position.

    Ditto for someone taking a job outside their field – most assume that someone taking a job outside of their field will leave if/when they are offered a job in their field.

    And honestly, even if he isn’t understanding, I think you need to take the job if it’s offered to you, anyway. Ultimately, there is no reason for you to feel guilty. And ultimately it is your life and sometimes you need to do what is best for you, even if it inconveniences others. Having a permanent job in your field will lead to a huge jump in your quality of life now and in the future vs. a temporary, not in your field job with your relative.

    If he really needs to hire a second employee he can put an ad out and hire someone else, with the way the economy is he shouldn’t have much difficulty finding someone.

  32. Jill

    #5 It could be that Tabitha was trained to identify herself by department and it’s now habit. Like, “Jill from Accounting” ass opposed to the Jill in facilities or the Jill that works in the cafeteria. It’s just that she’s a sub so she has no department identifier?

    I say this to agree with others who have suggested it’s just a verbal habit.

  33. MissLibby

    #4 – I was in a similar situation with an overly involved board member at a small non-profit that I was the director of several years ago. The situation was further complicated by the fact that the board member had “filled in” for the director during the time the previous director left and when I was hired. However, many of the other duties of the director were handed off to other staff and board members as well, so she was really just doing a small part of the job. She would come in almost daily and tell me what I should be doing and when I pushed back that I didn’t have time or had other priorities, she would say that she had time when she was the director. It was very frustrating.

    Basically, you need to firmly and consistently remind this board member that you report to the full board, not to the board chair. This was especially needed in my situation as this person sometimes tried to make decisions and give me direction “to get stuff done faster” on things that really needed to be voted on by the board. It is also very helpful to have good relationships with other board members that will advocate for you during board meetings. It shouldn’t have to be that way, but that was how survived until I could find another job.

    1. Catbird

      You’re right, and as someone else suggested, we need an executive committee–STAT. Thanks for your suggestion!

  34. Susan

    #1: My instinct would be the same as yours. I personally think one-on-one conversations are great, but overall points are better remembered if you can go back and reference them.

    I wonder if a compromise could be using your mail system (do you use Outlook or Gmail?) to create an official meeting for you to talk, instead of just informally going into his office. Then in the meeting description, you could make a bullet list of the main points you intend to cover. That way you may not have all the minutes written down, but you have documentation that you two talked about x on y day.

  35. Kapikui

    #1 I had a boss that was trying to trump up a reason to fire me. Since I was not an at will employee, there had to be cause. I was good enough that they couldn’t trump up cause on normal foibles in the workplace, so they were trying to manufacture cause. They wanted to avoid a paper trail so that they could report that they could tell me one thing, then reprimand me for not doing something entirely different. So using email to communicate was pretty much forbidden (strange for an IT department, but go figure).

    I had to write down pretty much each conversation, then email it to myself on a specially created gmail account. When the wrongful dismissal hearing came up, their lawyer tried to discredit my log by saying that I made it up much after the fact. Since I had the time and date stamps, they couldn’t do that. Later one of the managers had to be restrained by the security officer acting as a bailiff when it was pointed out that he was certainly lying.

      1. Kapikui

        Nope, I ultimately lost that one. I had most of the charges thrown out, but they made one stick. That’s all it took. Now instead of getting $50,000 in IT, I get < $10,000 delivering pizzas. The fact that I fought it has pretty much torpedoed me for any future professional jobs unless I start my own business.

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