my new hire has past bad blood with another new hire

A reader writes:

I lead on HR for a small (less than 50 people) company. It’s a very laid-back, friendly environment and employees frequently socialize. About a month ago, we brought on a new hire, Aidan, who has been doing really well–he loves the company, his team and manager love him, all good. We have another new hire in the same role, Miranda, joining the team in a couple of weeks. Aidan and Miranda worked together previously at another company. We had been talking to Miranda for awhile, and made the offer to her right around Aidan’s first day.

Last night, we had a company happy hour and he told me that Miranda is the best friend of his ex-girlfriend, and there is apparently bad blood between him and Miranda. He referenced that being why he left their old company, which was under a year ago. I encouraged him to tell me anything I could do to alleviate concerns about working with her–seating arrangements, speaking with his manager, etc.–but he insisted it would be fine. When his manager had told him Miranda was hired, he had only good things to say about her ability to do her job.

We discussed it this morning (informally), and he assured me again that it won’t be an issue and that he wouldn’t have brought it up if he hadn’t been drinking (he was in no way inappropriately drunk, just had had a few beers). She knows that he works here already. I’m obviously concerned for a number of reasons and I’m not sure what to do. Should I tell their manager? Their manager’s supervisor? My manager? Should I have a more formal conversation with him about it, and/or have a discussion with her when she starts? Or do I just let it go and hope for the best?

I’d give their manager a heads-up, but other than that I wouldn’t do anything.

It’s useful for their manager to know the back story so that if she does notice any weirdness or problems, she has context for it (and can either nip it in the bud if it’s serious or just ignore it if it’s more like mild uneasiness between them).

But Aidan is telling you that it’s not an issue and he’s asking you to drop it. Believe him! If it becomes an issue, his manager can deal with it then — but give him the benefit of the doubt that he’ll handle himself professionally, until and unless you see that he’s not.

If it does become a problem, his manager should tell them directly — or just one of them, if only one of them is the issue — that they need to behave professionally and civilly to each other, and not let their personal feelings disrupt their work or make things tense for people around them. But she should wait and see what happens first, because it would suck to be on the receiving end of that conversation if you hadn’t actually done anything to warrant it.

Speaking of things that suck — this so sucks for them! Aidan left a job to avoid this person, and now here she is showing up at his new job. That’s no one’s fault and there’s nothing any of you could have done to avoid it, but let’s all take a moment to recognize how crappy the vicissitudes of fate can be when we least expect it. Poor Aidan, and poor Miranda.

If this were a rom-com, they would end up happily married at the end of it. In this case, we’ll just hope that their self-interests will drive them both to behave professionally, and maybe they’ll end up realizing in time that they can tolerate each other reasonably well.

{ 132 comments… read them below }

  1. Roscoe*

    Please let it go and assume that you hired people who are mature and can behave professionally until they give you a reason not to. I think ideally you wouldn’t do anything like have Aidan training Miranda or sharing a cube or something, but aside from that, just treat them like any other 2 new hires.

  2. AdAgencyChick*

    Yes, drop it! He’s clearly not interested in letting past drama ruin his professional life. If it becomes an issue, hopefully their manager will manage them. But it’s not OP’s issue to resolve — if it even becomes an issue at all.

    1. TootsNYC*

      He apparently wasn’t interested, about a year ago, in having *present* drama ruin his life; that’s why he left that company–to get away from the drama.

      Though, he left that job ” under a year ago.” And started here “About a month ago.”

      I’m wondering what he did in the meantime; did he just quit, and then start looking? If so, I think that really proves that he’s pretty drama averse.

  3. Snarkus Aurelius*

    This situation is a good reminder to always, ALWAYS be on your bestest, classiest behavior as much as you can when a relationship goes south…because you never know when you’ll see that person and/or her friends again!

    (That’s not directed at Aidan or Miranda specifically, but it’s always a good rule to live by. Besides, Aidan was too good for Carrie anyway, and Miranda always needed a spine when it came to her friendship with Carrie.)

    I recall a friend of mine getting jerked around and eventually ghosted by her ex…who started dating a childhood friend of hers a year later.  Imagine his surprise when he showed up for a double date!

    Another friend of mine was doing some hiring for a federal agency when she came across a resume that had a familiar name.  She called up their mutual friend to ask about him.  Turns out the job applicant had slept with his intern (in their bed!) and stole some stuff when she asked him to move out.  No, he didn’t get that job, and he’ll never know why. I wish he’d known though.

    1. Dana C*

      I am so exhausted I totally missed the S&C reference going on here! Thanks for clearing that up!

  4. Adonday Veeah*

    I disagree with Alison about telling the manager. Once the manager “knows” she can’t un-know, and if there is never a problem, why put it out there. If a problem arises, I believe that would be the time to mention it to the manager.

    1. MK*

      I think this depends on how the OP handles it. Definitely don’t divulge the dark past of the two new hires as if it were a huge issue that needs to be dealth with extreme caution to avoid potential disaster; just casually mention that they are “ex’s best friend” and “best friend’s ex” to eachother.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I think it might be a good idea because the manager might want to minimize their need to interact, as long as it doesn’t create more work or keep either of them from advancing, at least until they show that they can work together in a civil manner, if not collegially. It would certainly be to everyone’s benefit to cut it off immediately if they started making snide comments to each other in a staff meeting, but if the manager has no idea of the history, I can see the manager being caught off guard if they have no reason to expect anything other than reasonable behavior from the two of them.

      I see your point, but it’s like one small red flag in an interview or resume: it isn’t a reason to take drastic action, but possibly a reason to scrutinize everything else for signs of a deeper problem.

      1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        Yeah, this. As long as there isn’t a professionalism problem on the manager’s side (which the OP is in a position to know more about than we do), then they should be able to take “hey, heads up, these two might have a little friction, hopefully not, but maybe don’t sit them next to each other” for what it is.

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yep. Otherwise the manager could unintentionally aggravate the situation — for example, sending the two new people to lunch together, etc.

        1. Creag an Tuire*

          Or worse, if they are in a rom-com, the manager (Luke Wilson) will send them on a conference together and book them in the same hotel room to “save money”.

            1. Creag an Tuire*

              Aidan is played by Matthew McConaughey.

              Oh, Miranda. Poor, poor Miranda (Ellen Page).

              1. Liana*

                Hmm I think Miranda should be played by Rachel McAdams! Or possibly Kate Hudson – she’s got the rom-com shtick locked down pretty well.

                1. Sourire*

                  Kate would definitely be Carrie moreso than Miranda I think.

                  But just think, if they have to bunk together they can recreate that scene where Miranda slips in the bathroom and Aiden has to rescue her, and suddenly the bad blood turns into romance… *cue sappy music*

    3. KT*

      I agree with this–I don’t see the need to tell the manager unless there’s an issue. If they say they can handle it, why look for trouble?

  5. Case of the Mondays*

    The world can be cruel, that’s for sure. I worked with someone at firm A that went to firm B likely to avoid some mean people at firm A. Two years after working there, firm A was bought out by firm B and they all had to work together again.

    1. Mike C.*

      See also “The Good Wife” and “Mad Men” and every other show dealing with firms. :)

    2. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

      Oh, in my world, I’ve seen people fired by company B – they end up at company A. Then company B buys up and merges in company A – and guess what?

      The guy who was fired by company B is working for company B again.

      With few exceptional cases, you get over and beyond it.

        1. Rebecca in Dallas*

          Burt getting fired (again!) by Roger was seriously one of my favorite scenes.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      This was my nightmare when I was job hunting after Exjob. When I heard BullyBoss had been fired, I was terrified I would end up working with him again. He was sooo annoying. Thankfully, I heard he started his own business, and there’s no way in hell my current company would hire him, because as far as I know, he can’t do any of the things we do.

  6. B*

    Please drop it. He mentioned it, said her work was fine and that it wouldn’t be an issue…twice. There is nothing there unless you keep harping on it. Should something flare up, then you deal with it. Until then I would really let it go.

    1. TootsNYC*

      I actually might drop in Miranda’s ear that Aidan said good things about her work. The way I might if I didn’t know any negative backstory.

      1. Buffay the Vampire Layer*

        I actually really like this idea, but only if it can come up naturally. If it looks too forced that might make Miranda feel the need to go to Aiden herself to clear the air and that would be awkward for everyone.

  7. KR*

    Good advice and good luck to all involved. If Miranda was his ex-girlfriend, I think it would be more of an issue but people fade in and out of friendships and relationships all the time. They should be able to work professionally together.

  8. AMG*

    The only thing that concerns me is that he left his old job to work here because it was so bad. I hope everyone stays professional.

    1. LBK*

      Yeah, that does make me a little uneasy, but if the breakup was still relatively new there could’ve also been a sting of having to be around his ex’s best friend every day that’s faded by now. Presumably he’s moved on, so it won’t be as emotional to have to be around someone that connects him to his ex.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        That’s what I was thinking–plus, there could have been other reasons he left the job (like gossipy coworkers or just a seeking a better paycheck).

    2. Hilary Faye*

      This gave me pause as well especially since it’s only been a month. That’s not a lot of time to pass for everything to suddenly be fine. I still don’t think HR or the manager should get involved but I’d probably keep a close eye on the situation.

      1. Kyrielle*

        No – he started here a month ago but left the job with Miranda “under a year ago” – we wouldn’t have a different timeframe for that if he left it a month ago when starting. If it’s two months, I’d be worried. If it’s 6+ months? Not as worried.

      2. MK*

        It has been a month since Aidan was hired, but under a year since he left the company to avoid Miranda; “under a year” to me suggests closer to ten months than one.

        1. Anon Moose*

          And the breakup with Miranda’s friend could very well have been longer ago than when Aidan left last job, too. Presumably you’d have to work with your ex’s bff for at least some period of time for it to become clear that you should leave due to the awkward.

  9. LBK*

    So far everyone seems to be acting professionally, so I think you’re safe to proceed without worrying too much about it. Aidan said there wasn’t a problem and Miranda knew he worked there and still took the job anyway, so it doesn’t seem like it was a red flag for her either.

    That being said, sometimes you might think you can be around someone and then once it’s actually happening, everything that used to be a problem between you comes up again. You forget all the reasons you wanted to get away from them in the first place once you’re distanced; it’s the same reason some people miss and sometimes go back to their exes. I’d be interested in an update on this one in a few months; I think everything will probably be fine, but I’m also curious to know if that professionalism stays in tact once they actually have to see each other every day again.

    1. Persephone Mulberry*

      DID Miranda know, though? The letter doesn’t say. It says the company knew they worked together at the previous place, and that they told Aiden she was being brought on board, but nothing about what Miranda knows. If things were that unpleasant between them that Aiden left over it, they probably don’t keep up on Facebook about where his new gig is.

      1. Adonday Veeah*

        “She knows that he works here already.”

        I’m thinking “she” means Miranda.

    2. Kyrielle*

      I’m not sure Miranda knew, actually; the offer was extended at around the same time as Aidan’s first day, and since he left that old job “under a year ago” they were not working together when he accepted this position; it seems unlikely that she would have known. (Does she follow him on social media? That seems…unlikely.)

      On the other hand, it’s been “under a year” (but presumably more than a month) and it sounds like Aidan, at least, has moved on to where he can cope. I would just sit and watch in case Miranda hasn’t, but it’s very possible she has, in which case, there’s no big deal here.

  10. Persephone Mulberry*

    I may be reading stuff that isn’t there, but it kind of sounds like the “bad blood” is mostly on Miranda’s part – Aiden left a job to get away from her, yet still had good professional things to say about her.

    1. Diluted_TortoiseShell*

      It’s also possible Aiden is the bad blood and he is setting up the perfect pot stirrer scenario.

      Miranda is getting hired? Well her work speaks for herself so I can’t get her there. I know I’ll speak well of her to throw off others, let slip our “bad blood” to instill the doubt, then push a few buttons and watch it all go to hell.

      Any workplace issues with Aiden and Miranda should be thoroughly investigated and not assumed to be either persons fault.

        1. TootsNYC*

          I took Diluted_Torte’s comment to mean that EITHER scenario is possible. After all, this was the last point:

          ” not assumed to be either persons fault.

          1. Diluted_TortoiseShell*

            Yes exactly. I don’t think this is the likely scenario – I’m just pointing out that any issues should be investigated thoroughly.

            I worked with a pot stirrer once – they are master manipulators and their classic tactic is to garner good will with compliments towards their victim, instill some doubt in an authority figure “Diluted is so great with spreadsheets, it’s too bad she struggles with X”, then mislead the victim about X and let the boss make all the wrong conclusions.

      1. roisindubh211*

        that’s kind of where my mind went first, TBH. If he can work with her and thinks she’ll do a good job, it was really not necessary to mention something that will have her under the radar as soon as she starts.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      Yes, but “get away from her” could mean that he didn’t want to be around someone all the time who reminded him of his ex, and/or took her side when they broke up, even if it was amicable. I would feel awkward and want to leave myself.

  11. Anon Moose*

    I think its very possible LW is giving the fact that he “referenced” leaving old job because of Miranda too much weight. Or is misinterpreting/ not knowing the full story. You just hired two people in the same role from a competitor. If they both wanted to make the move pretty much simultaneously there’s a good chance there’s other reasons that new job is preferable to old job- more money, better company reputation, old job was horrible for reasons x, y, z. Not working with ex-gf’s friend could have been one factor or a bonus factor to Aidan switching jobs, but perhaps not the whole reason he moved. Also, time has passed so it very well may not be nearly as much of a big deal for them to interact as it was right after the breakup.
    And you know, in the moment after Aidan was told he would be working with Miranda again, that could have surprised him and he could have said something that he later thought better of or “referenced” it partly as a joke. “Oh I thought I was getting away from her haha.” I think it would be weird for you to go to his manager about a conversation at a happy hour (especially absent any other indication of reason for concern).
    TLDR- don’t read too much into a casual convo at a bar and let Aidan, Miranda and their supervisor work stuff out on their own.

    1. ChrisF*

      Hi guys, OP here! Thanks for all the input (really). For what it’s worth, it wasn’t said in a funny or dismissive tone–it was very serious, and he made it clear that was THE reason he left that company.

      But, I will go with having faith in my coworkers in acting like adults. The manager and I have a good relationship if any performance issues do come up, but I will probably give her a non-alarmist headsup.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        If it’s been a year, and they are otherwise reasonable adults, I would hope things have calmed down by now. I hope so, and hope it all works out okay.

      2. snuck*

        I like your plan of non-alarmist heads up.

        New hires sometimes come with a few unexpected twists… after the fact you find out they have a daycare pickup one day a week, or that they are needing a special chair for a back injury, or that their annoying ex is the reason they moved, or that they recently worked with someone else on your team and there was drama…

        I like that the fact that new hire has given you a heads up… it means you won’t be blindsided… and hopefully one day you can look back and realise it was all nothing. I know as a people manager I’d want to know, particularly if both were in my team, or were both working closely… especially as I’d already know they used to work together so I’d be likely to look to them to look after each other.

  12. tango*

    I guess I am not as willing to believe that Miranda didn’t know Aidan worked at this company and specifically this job. With todays social network sites and Linkedin, etc, it’s pretty easy to know where someone goes when they leave a job. Not to say Miranda specifically applied to the same company & job to be near to Aidan so she could cause him trouble on behalf of her best friend who is still hurting over a relationship going south, (or to report to best friend everything Aidan is up to) but I’ve read AAM long enough to know to never put anything past anyone in regards to weird behavior.

    1. TootsNYC*

      her best friend who is still hurting over a relationship going south

      (It’s possible the best friend/girlfriend is the one who behaved badly; it’s also possible Miranda was the cause of the breakup, and that’s the cause of the bad blood; nobody knows.)

    2. snuck*

      I have to admit this thought crossed my mind.

      If there’s a break up bad enough that someone is going to quit a job so they don’t have to deal with said breakup… then …. there’s someone with a few screws loose somewhere in the mix… and it sounds like it’s not just the new hire, the ex… but also the ex’s best friend and who knows who else in the conga line. I will admit to wanting to watch closely, especially in a small business where things are more… intense.

      The one saving grace is that I’m assuming Miranda being offered at around the same time as Aiden joining the company meant that Miranda was in the application process before Aiden would have told anyone he was joining the company… and thus it’s a random coincidence, rather than a Single White Female Stalker.

  13. Minion*

    I think it speaks well of Aidan that he’s not interested in trash-talking Miranda even though he had a great opportunity when his manager told him Miranda had been hired. If he had taken that opportunity to run her down either personally or professionally, then you might have more to be concerned about. It sounds like Aidan’s already behaving in a professional manner and hopefully Miranda will as well.

  14. Jenny*

    The letter notes that Miranda is aware: “She knows that he works here already.”

  15. ThatLibraryChick*

    Slightly off/on topic: Who chooses the names for the letters? Is it the OP or Alison do you choose them? This one is one of my favorites.
    PS I was always #TeamAidan. Pff Big

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Generally, it’s the letter-writers. (Someone chose Star Wars names recently, and I had no idea that’s what they were from and was mystified about the jokes in the comment section about it.) I choose the ones where I deliberately anonymize something, like with sample cover letters.

      1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

        You definitely have a core cast of characters, too, which I enjoy! (Persephone Mulberry, Apollo Warbucks, and Lucinda stick in my head.) Though I haven’t paid close enough attention to tell if they have stable personalities. Do you have mental images of them?

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Ha, no, I don’t — which is weird because I definitely have mental images of many commenters. (Is that disturbing for me to admit?)

    2. Unicorn Horn*

      fI am glad I wasn’t the only one thinking SATC…all I can think of now is Nina Katz, “The Face Girl”.

      1. TrainerGirl*

        Nina Katz was the worst! Carrie’s self absorption was very hard to take, but this was one time I could understand it.

  16. SaraV*

    Just came to say…

    Anyone else have Taylor Swift now stuck in their head after reading the title?

    *slowly raises hand*

    1. Armchair Analyst*

      I also keep reading it as “new hire has PASSED bad blood with another new hire”

      Which hopefully sounds too horrible to read on here, but who knows.

    2. fposte*

      I was thinking that that would be a generational divide–I knew about the Taylor Swift but I went to Neil Sedaka. And it’s really dorky earworm.

    3. Rat Racer*

      That is so interesting, I DID have that song stuck in my head, and didn’t realize it was because of the title of this post. Hello subconscious brain, I see that you’re not communicating with pre-frontal cortex today.

    4. Creag an Tuire*

      Ughhh, yes.

      The worst part of it is, I once looked up the “story” behind that song and, honestly, Taylor, you’re being a Drama Llama.

  17. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    You know, it’s a funny thing. Really is.

    I have run into people I feuded with in past jobs – in later life, when we were in other situations, sometimes at a new environment for the both of us, we became best friends and colleagues.

    I know, I know, I’m an old geezer, and guys in their 60s shouldn’t be giving advice to the younger crowd. A lot of the audience in here is female, works for non-profits, and are under 35. But I’m gonna do it anyway.

    The adult working world is not junior high. You have to act like adults, and if there were personality conflicts in the past – YOU MUST grow beyond them. You don’t build cliques in the workplace, you build teams.

    If you find yourself working with someone you didn’t like in a past job – turn the page and go forward. You won’t survive if you can’t evolve forward.

    Get over your past differences – you don’t even need to address them. Just do so through your work. And even then, if you don’t find that you like the guy or gal – but can work with them – remember Al Davis’ (Oakland Raiders) old adage about eccentric players = “you don’t have to take them home with you at night.”

    1. Diluted_TortoiseShell*

      This comes across of super sexist!

      If you had just left of the whole “I know I know” paragraph your advice would carry so much more weight.

      1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

        No, it’s not sexist. But AAM has advised not to take the advice of elders in job situations. I come in here to discuss job situations but usually end up giving advice that’s contrarian because I’m coming from “a different world”. It was given as a disclaimer. And the fact that I recognize – by postings – what the primary audience is in here.

        And she’s usually correct on taking advice from elders. But this is a piece of LIFE advice. Which does not change.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          The issue is implying that women would particularly bristle at this advice or need to be told that the working world is not junior high. If that’s not how you meant it, then cool.

          1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

            I did not intend to come across that way – just to state that I’m from a different time and perspective than the majority of people in here – but hope my advice is taken appropriately.

            If people read MORE into that, then, well, sorry.

            From what I understand – Aiden let his boss know that. IOW – “watch my back, boss, but I don’t think there will be any problems.”

            A lot of people seemed to read more into this situation than what exists.

            By the way – I mentally reviewed the situations of “past lives reuniting” – all four were male, and all four worked out well.

            1. Sourire*

              Thing is, everyone here is offering advice from a different perspective than the other commenters. There really isn’t a need to qualify that in many cases (unless it’s “I’m not a lawyer, I’m not from the US, etc”). The qualifying adds this “other” status to your advice that needn’t be there.

            2. Liana*

              Stop talking about gender. It’s actually pretty irrelevant here, and it definitely gives off the impression that you think these conflicts are rooted in gender-based differences. I know, I know, it’s not what you “intend”, but that’s how plenty of people are reading it. It also doesn’t help that you casually threw in the “FYI, all my situations were with men and it worked out well.”

                1. neverjaunty*

                  You can win pretty easily!

                  1) Don’t say patronizing crap.
                  2) If you make a mistake re #1, own it and move on; don’t blame other people for taking your words at face value.

        2. What?*

          Yeah, its still condescending. (You implied that women, those under 35 and those in nonprofits are like junior high.) You’re also saying you think you know the general audience here on an anon site and you’re placing yourself above them. If you think your opinion is relevant, you should probably leave that kind of age/industry stuff out unless its relevant, which I don’t think it is here.
          Alison usually says not to listen to elders about *job searching* etc because that environment has changed drastically in recent years. Not on workplace norms, on which there are generally a range of opinions and industry norms expressed here by a variety of people of different experiences and ages, as far as I can tell.

          1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

            Ah, I can only remember when I discussed how I was laid off in an affirmative action scheme and everyone got on my case.

            I come in to advise and I get ripped apart.

            I should have just said – get along, this isn’t junior high. Whether it’s a group of men or women ….

            And as I said – people read too much into situations.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Hmmm, that’s not how affirmative action works. It’s against federal law to make decisions based on race, sex, etc. You can’t lay people off based on race or to advantage someone of another race. I don’t know what the situation was, but it’s important not to lump it in with affirmative action that way, because it reinforces really harmful ideas about race and employment.

              (The data is also very clear that as white people you and I both benefit enormously from racial bias overall.)

              I certainly don’t want anyone to feel ripped apart here, but I’m proud to have a community that speaks out on things like that.

      2. Minion*

        I didn’t read it as sexist in any way. It was simply saying, “Hey, I know I’m different from a lot of you, but here’s my advice for those types of situations.”

        1. TootsNYC*

          ditto. And to mean, “since I’m a different gender from lots of the people here, I may not start from quite the same worldview, or I may be SEEN to not start from the same worldview.”

        2. Not So NewReader*

          It kind of resonated with me because I had a boss who used to say, “If I tell you to work with that person, then you are gonna work with that person. End of discussion.”

          There are bosses out there who do not care what went on in the past. “Oh, Bob torched your house? Get over it, work with him anyway.”

          I am happy to say, I see less of this than I used to, but I am sure there is plenty of it that still goes on. Kudos to the OP for thinking/planning ahead and trying to find a scenario where everyone lands in a good spot. It sounds like this situation will work out okay in the long run.

    2. KT*

      Agreed. I mean…work’s still gotta get done, and working with people who dislike or even downright can’t stand is part of the deal.

      There’s been some coworkers who I’ve gotten in screaming matches with, but when it came down to an important project, we were able to work together and produced great work together.

      1. Diluted_TortoiseShell*

        This was one of the points I made in the LW who wondered if their cover letter would stand out if they highlighted how college was like full time work. In college, interpersonal stuff really doesn’t matter. At work, it can tank you.

    3. MsNarwhal*

      I think the advice you’re giving to “turn the page” is good, but what does some of the readership being female, working for non-profits, or under 35 have to do with it? I can think of plenty of people who aren’t in any of those categories that are major grudge-holders and could take that same advice.

      Not trying to pick a fight or anything, but that sentence seemed odd to me. If you’re just saying that you personally are fairly far removed from those groups, I’m not sure that really matters when it comes to this topic.

      1. Minion*

        “If you’re just saying that you personally are fairly far removed from those groups, I’m not sure that really matters when it comes to this topic.”
        Looks to me like that’s exactly what he’s saying. As in, this may or may not be relevant to you because of our differences, but here’s my advice.
        I don’t think there’s any reason to assume he meant that women under 35 who work at nonprofits are all grudge holders.

          1. TootsNYC*

            because it gets brought up in so many other places that he’s self-conscious about the differences?

    4. Kyrielle*

      No comment about age and gender needed.

      My much older male boss was shocked when I advocated strongly for hiring someone who had applied, who used to work there previously and wanted to come back. We had a position that needed to be filled; it was exactly what he had been doing before, and in fact we were short on people with his specialties.

      He and I had rubbed each other wrong from the get-go; we simply didn’t get along. So what? He was good at his job, and he was exactly what the team needed at that time. We weren’t trying to hire someone to be my bff; we were trying to hire someone who could do the job we needed done. He not only could do it, he was worlds away a better choice than any other candidate.

      I can’t say we got on brilliantly the second time either, but we got along professionally, and guess what? He was an awesome choice and got the job done, and we were so lucky to have him on the team.

      Baffled me that my boss was surprised I suggested we hire him. (I think he would have anyway – he just expected me to argue against it. Um, no.)

  18. Sourire*

    Really hope it ends up working out for these two and there are no issues. I have “bad blood” with one of my coworkers because of a personal issue that occurred outside of work (I briefly dated her now-husband while he was also beginning to date her – unbeknownst to me and I broke it off as soon as I found out) and it’s the worst when someone isn’t able to be professional toward you. For the most part, I don’t have to interact with her at work luckily, but the rare times we do she is entirely unable to put her feelings aside and it’s incredibly frustrating to both me and the people working around us when it happens.

      1. Sourire*

        I think it’s always easier to blame the other person than the one you’re in a relationship with, and it doesn’t help that she’s kind of a drama-llama anyway (she’s forever sending passive aggressive office-wide emails about silly things and such). I ignore any and all drama and act as polite and cordial as possible around her (which only seems to make her more annoyed). I wish she could do the same.

        1. Christopher Tracy*

          I think it’s always easier to blame the other person than the one you’re in a relationship with

          Yup, because if people did that, what does that say about their judgment and who they chose to be their partner?

      2. TootsNYC*

        well, or she shouldn’t be mad at either of them, if it was a matter of “just starting to date.” It almost sounds like the guy was dating Sourire first, and then started dating the woman he eventually married.

        The funny thing is–if it’s a competition, she WON! And she’s still mad, which makes it appear as though she thinks she lost.

        1. Sourire*

          I get the feeling how things went down and what he eventually told her aren’t exactly one in the same, hence some of her behavior.

          From what I gather, he’d been friendly with her for a while, and thought that by telling me that they “talked” that meant I was aware he also planned on or had been seeing her (silly me thought that meant they were merely friends.) When I found out that wasn’t the case, I asked him about it and he told me he really liked us both and couldn’t decide, so I decided for him. Even if we leave all the work-drama possibilities out of it (can’t even imagine how much worse it would be if I’d ended up with him), if it’s a hard choice for you between me and someone else, it’s no choice at all for me. Buh-bye.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Oh ha, just for future reference, “talking” with someone really means you’re interested in them. So if you’re trying to get an ex back and he says he’s been “talking” to someone, fuggeddaboudit. Don’t ask me how I know that. >_<

          2. TootsNYC*

            ” he told me he really liked us both and couldn’t decide, so I decided for him.”

            That probably explains why she doesn’t think she won. If she caught the slightest whiff of that (and she had to have smelled SOMEthing; plus, you were the one who dumped him; he didn’t dump you for her, so she may feel like a consolation prize), it would fuel her sense that she was 2nd best.

            Boy, would it suck to be her, in that marriage! (Him too, but I actually feel for her more.)

  19. Liana*

    I suspect Aidan might be a bit embarrassed about mentioning it in the first place, hence his insisting that it wasn’t a big deal and things will be fine in the future. Also – if Miranda knows that Aidan works at the company and hasn’t said anything to management yet about their bad blood, I think that speaks pretty strongly to her ability to stay professional. She probably doesn’t think it’s a big enough deal to warrant bringing up.

  20. Rit*

    I agree with the majority- once Aidan said it’s not an issue, take him at his word unless he gives you a reason not to.

    It does make me wonder, though. What on earth would someone do if the Aidan or Miranda was someone the other person absolutely could not handle working with, under any circumstances?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      If there were some easy way to move them to a different team, that could be an option, if it worked for the team they were moving for. But otherwise, they’d have to decide if they wanted to quit over it. Staying and not being able to deal civilly with someone else wouldn’t be an option.

      1. Sourire*

        Adding to this a bit, I wonder what would have happened had Aidan said something to that effect when his manager asked him about Miranda before she was hired (I assume manager saw they were former coworkers based on the resumes and that’s why it came up). At what point do you let a current team member’s (especially a brand new hire) preference come into play. I assume it’s probably shades of grey, like if she was his ex-wife, had assaulted him, etc it’s different than it was merely uncomfortable to work around her after a break up.

        1. TootsNYC*

          I think if I really liked my new hire, I might pass on the other person, unless for some reason I really needed that skill, or heard tremendous things from someone else.

          I’ve already started with Aidan; if I can hire Wakeen instead of Miranda, and be pretty much just as happy, why wouldn’t I? I like an easy life.

          And again–a really important reason for Aidan to come across as professional as he can, because that’ll make him more credible if he needed to be.

        2. snuck*

          There’s too many variables for me to be absolute…

          But if I was going to hire someone new, and an existing staff member raised an issue… I would reference check closely for the raised behaviours… and examine whether the two would work apart… and take into consideration what I know about the existing staff member… and expect professionalism if I decided to proceed, but yes… it could affect a hiring decision in very specific team roles (ones that involve a lot of travel, long hours together etc).

          If I was in the Aiden/Miranda situation… I’d let them both come onto the team, assuming their abilities and skills were both reasonable equal… and then manage the behaviours professionally… especially through any probation period.

          If one of the new people coming in was very highly and specifically skilled, and it was a skillset I was having trouble filling… I would be more inclined to retain the harder to hire person, but not at the price of taking someone on my team who was hard to work with – I’d be rexamining that person’s interpersonal skills through to the end of probation, and be prepared to act quickly and try to regroup the lost staff member if my immediate gut feeling of issues was confirmed by the new hire doing something quite difficult to manage in the early days.

      2. Rit*

        Yep, that makes sense. Still, what a nightmare in some situations (ones far beyond Aidan and Miranda’s situation, it’s just where my mind went). I remember the palpable relief I felt when I found out my version of “unable to work with this person” had moved to another city and I didn’t have to fear the thought of running into them at work some day.

    2. TootsNYC*

      Well, if I were giving confidential advice to the Aidan, I would say that when he heard they were interviewing Miranda, he should indicate that he has reservations about her skills or her ability to be professional on the job. And see if he can tank her application without making himself look bad
      When you think about it, there are SO many ways you can damn someone with faint praise, exaggerate a known but minor fault, etc.

      In fact, if Miranda herself would truly be part of the problem, that’s information the company should have, frankly. And I’d sort of expect my still-new employee to share that with me.

      If Aidan didn’t get a chance to provide any info, then I’d say the standup thing to do is to go to the boss and say, “I envision a problem. This person and I have trouble getting along. I try my best, but here’s where the problem will be.”
      And then ask for a transfer, or simply promise to do my best, and then quietly look for work elsewhere. Which would really suck if you were the person trying to be professional.

      And of course, as always, it’s so important to manage your own reputation and credibility. The more obviously professional you are, the better your chances of saying, “I don’t want to work with this person directly anymore; you see how he/she is,” and being taken seriously.

      1. TootsNYC*

        and yes, I know how slimy that sounds.

        But I’ll confess–I sort of did it. Well, what I did was say, when asked about someone I did NOT want to work with, for personal professional reasons (get it? professional reasons that were more personal in scope than simply skills), “I signed a non-compete clause, so I don’t want to say anything.”

        But I really toyed with saying, “she hadn’t been doing that job very long; I had to coach her quite a bit,” etc. I’d have had the credibility to be believed.
        I couldn’t quite bring myself to be even that negative–but I do think it would have been fair.

        I also toyed with flat-out saying, “I really don’t want to work with her again. I don’t want to get into it, but things were really awkward at the end of my time there, and I’d prefer simply to not enter into a new working relationship with her. I don’t have much to say about her skills one way or the other; this is really the only point I want to make.”

        I took the chicken’s way.

    3. NicoleK*

      That scenario happened to me. I absolutely hated working with coworker. I hated having to work with coworker. Every single day was BEC day. It was a combination of personality conflict, communication style, work style, and her failure to produce. I left my job six months after coworker joined the company partly due to coworker. Side note: I had lunch with Old Boss recently and she admitted that I was right.

  21. Cafe au Lait*

    You might find that Mirada opts out of the situation on her own. Years ago I interviewed and was offered a job in a small department. I would have worked very closely with my peer that was also just hired. When I heard his name, I realized that it was a man that had ghosted on me two years prior. I really saw myself having a future with this man, and was incredibly upset when he disappeared from my life.

    I withdrew from the interview process. I knew I couldn’t be professional when working with him.

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