I’m required to share with my boss a weekly best and worst from my personal life

A reader writes:

My company reorganized and instituted a new policy for one-on-ones with managers. Once a week, at the start of our one-on-ones, I have to spend six minutes where my manager tells me the best and worse things in his personal life and I have to return the favor. We get three minutes each.

I don’t trust my manager enough to want to tell him any of the details of my personal life. He once told me that my personal life had no place in the office and told me that if, for example, if his son broke his leg or was otherwise seriously injured, that shouldn’t distract him from working as he normally would. But when I question these kinds of policies, he also gets upset and tells me I’m being hostile.

I’ve been preparing more neutral best/worst things in advance. But I’m dreading these weekly meetings now. Our company (400+ employees) doesn’t have an HR department and I don’t know who to discuss this with.

This sounds like a terrible misreading of the more common advice to open one-on-one’s by taking a moment to connect on a personal level. But that means saying “how’s everything going for you?” or “so have you finished the kitchen remodel yet?” or “how was your vacation?” or anything else that might help build rapport with a person you’re managing. It doesn’t mean demanding that they report to you on the best and worst moments of their week.

And really, what are they going for here with the worsts, in particular? They can’t possibly want you to talk about relationship problems, your breakdown in therapy, your kid’s drug problem, the midnight binge where you devoured everything in the fridge, or the fact that your husband is sleeping on the couch, right?

This is just terribly misguided. They’re going to get overshares from a small number of people and just make everyone else feel uncomfortable.

I suppose we can categorize this with other forms of contrived and misguided mandatory intimacy, like this and this and this.

If you had a decent relationship with your boss, I’d say to push back on this by saying something like, “Can we keep this informal? I like the idea of taking a couple of minutes to connect personally at the start of these meetings, but I’d rather not force it on the best/worst thing.”

But since it sounds like you already have a pretty strained dynamic, I’d just stick with really bland stuff. For example, for your bests: “I read a great book!” “I cleaned out the garage.” “I hung out with family.” And for your worsts: “Too much yard work.” “Cracked my phone.” “All this rain!” “Have a terrible boss.” If you really have to fill the whole three minutes, then by all means, go into great detail on any of these. I’m sure your boss would love to hear in detail about your garage-cleaning process.

My guess is that this will fall by the wayside within a couple of months because no one will really keep up with it (because it’s forced and unnatural). But for however long you’re stuck with this, keep in mind that there are lots of amusing stories for later in here, and that is your consolation prize.

{ 382 comments… read them below }

  1. F.*

    As an introvert who shares personal details with only my very closest friends, I can only say, “WTF??” The boss would hear in agonizing detail about how I dropped a stitch knitting or found a june bug on my roses or about the cute little baby quilt I made over the weekend. No way!

    1. Snarkus Aurelius*

      I went to a happy hour with a new VP way back when. She thought that was a good time to share that she had been molested as a child. It was awkward after that.

      Is that what the OP’s employer wants? I hope not.

      1. Manders*

        WOW. I’m always so surprised when I hear stories like this–how does someone work their way up to VP without tact and good judgement about these things?

        1. Here, kitty, kitty...*

          I am a survivor of incest. That is how I look at it, that I survived it. Which isn’t an exaggeration, given that around 20% of incest victims commit suicide. A large portion of the remaining 80% tends to become addicted to various substances. It’s no small thing coming out the other side of this experience.

          I don’t go around telling strangers or even casual acquaintances about what happened to me. But if the topic in general comes up, I share. Because the way I look at it, my molester threatened me with the death of my mother to keep me silenced. He shamed me for what he did, and so did my other relatives. Society still imbues a certain amount of shame in this topic. So I share because it is not MY shame, it is HIS shame, and I survived what he did to me. I still suffer every day because of what he did to me. I don’t think enough people in this country realize how devastating child sexual abuse is, and I view it as my responsibility to use my tiny, unimportant voice to share with at least a few that being molested is devastating, but that it is not something to be ashamed of.

          I understand it might make some people feel awkward, but I admit this is one issue where I feel it is more important to share my experience than to not make other people feel awkward. I firmly believe in sexual abuse, rape, and other violent crime survivors speaking up about their experiences.

          1. Observer*

            There is a time and a place for this, though. Happy hour with a group of employees at a new place of employees is NOT the right time and place unless someone was spouting off about the matter.

            1. Here, kitty, kitty...*

              I don’t disagree with you. As I said, I don’t usually share with people I don’t know. But if the topic came up randomly, then I might share. It depends on the dynamics of the people involved, etc. I tend to be the silent person when in a group of people I don’t know, as I use that time to get a feel for what the group is like and how it interacts.

              1. TL -*

                It’s not a topic of conversation I would bring up with my coworkers, especially new coworkers – I mean, I could certainly see someone sharing a news item and there being a moment of sadness and well wishes for the victim but anything more than that would be beyond the norm of all of my workplaces. I wouldn’t want to discuss it at work, not least because you don’t tend to know your coworkers’ backgrounds and what they’ve experienced.
                (In my friend group or in a purely social situation, it would be completely different, though.)

          2. Anonymousaurus Rex*

            Well said. Sure there are times when this is inappropriate to talk about, but if there’s an opening, I think coming out about this kind of thing is courageous and helps others to be able to speak out.

          3. Audiophile*

            I’m glad you survived. And you’re absolutely right to call yourself a survivor.

            It sounds like this person, just blurted it out at happy hour. It does not sound like there was an opening or a natural flow to sharing this information. That’s makes a big difference.

            For instance, I never mention my disabilities in interviews, except one time where it made sense to bring it up. I was interviewing with an organization that worked with people who have disabilities and it was part of the conversation. Other than that, I feel it’s not appropriate since I’m not looking for accommodations and I’m concerned about biases.

      2. Wendy Darling*

        I once went to look at a condo someone was renting out and the owner decided that the condo tour was the appropriate time to tell me all about her uterine fibroids, subsequent fertility struggles, and eventual hysterectomy. Because of all this, what should have been 15-20 minutes of me looking around took over an hour.

        I did not rent the condo.

    2. Ad Astra*

      Hey, even as an extravert who’s prone to wasting time with irrelevant, detailed personal stories, I’m still saying “WTF??” I could easily fill the 3 minutes, but I’d feel weird having to.

      I’m also surprised that a company with 400 employees doesn’t have an HR department.

      1. So Very Anonymous*

        Same here. I could probably end this program singlehandedly by OOPSIE! going over my three minutes every! single! time! You mean you don’t want a detailed precis of the book I read over the weekend or a minute discussion of my angst over a ridiculous medical billing situation? Well then, my job is done here!

        1. chillgamesh*

          Oooh! I like this strategy! I’ve always got new stories about times my cat barfed on stuff! Just last night, he stood on an end table and started retching…

            1. So Very Anonymous*

              Perfect opportunity for a Powerpoint! You can change out the slides to show the NEW places he barfed THIS week! With animations! And graphs! “Note his increasing tendency to barf on the sofa, as shown by this escalating green line! But the up side is that this means he’s barfing less in the kitchen than he did last week! What? Oh, my time’s up! DARN it!”

            1. I'm a Little Teapot*

              Heh. I’d go with a detailed summary of exactly how my Dragon Age Inquisition game is going (“…I just got a horse, and a horse with armor, and a tame stag, and apparently a zombie horse, which is probably the best, and here’s how many shards I’ve found, and I just built watchtowers but then my character somehow got teleported into a flooded basement by a creepy cultist, so I guess that’s worst.”

        2. Dweali*

          If ever there was an argument for spoilers to tv shows/movies/books these meetings would be it

        3. Abbott*

          We have a similar policy regarding one-on-ones and my manager in particular wants me to treat him “like family”. So I constantly tell neverending stories like this, I often make up really fantastical stories on the spot and I don’t think he has figured it out yet. He tells me about his marital problems and family issues though…

        4. Vicki*

          Dear OP – Are you taking notes??? You should be taking notes. We’re providing several months of 1:1 fodder for you here!

      2. AF*

        I’m also really surprised about the no HR department. But whoever implemented this new policy has some authority over getting rid of it – maybe an executive committee? If they are amenable, the OP could try to talk to someone in charge of the policy. And could probably get some coworkers who hate the policy too to go with him/her.

      3. KTMGee*

        Yes! How does a company that size not have HR? We’re somewhere around 300 globally and have a 10+ person HR, including training, recruiting and traditional benefits folks.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I mentioned this below, but you could have people who deal with benefits, compensation, etc., but without having anyone do employee relations.

        2. Elle*

          As an HR person, I would venture to say that no HR in a company that size is a disaster waiting to happen.

      4. Jadelyn*

        +100 regarding the lack of HR. My company has 500 people and an HR staff of 9 – even my mom’s employer, where the HR is incompetent and worse than useless, has *an* HR person for 150 employees. How do you get that big and have no HR support…?

        1. chocoholic*

          My husband’s company has ~130 and does not have an HR department. They have various parts of the HR function that different people are responsible for, but nobody in charge. It seems to work for them, though.

    3. Jen RO*

      I’m an introvert who has no problem sharing personal details with not-that-close-friends… but ugh, this idea is beyond stupid!

    4. DuckDuckMøøse*

      As an introvert, I would say everything was fine, and stare at my boss for the allotted time, or until he gave up, whichever came first.

    5. INTP*

      It could be fun to come up with the most superficial thing possible to be the worst of your week. “My Kindle broke and Amazon wouldn’t ship my new one until I returned it so I had to drive a half mile my out of my way to the UPS drop box when I didn’t feel like it!” (<true story from my week)

      1. Katie the Fed*

        True story: my maid service rearranged my spices. I know, #firstworldproblems but why would someone put the cumin next to the marjoram?!

        1. OhNo*

          Man, that would be my bad thing every week. I bet the boss would get pretty sick of hearing “They did it again!” every single time.

            1. Katie the Fed*

              See, I do it by category. Baking spices in one area, middle eastern/south asian/african in another, herbs in another, etc. It works well for me but I should stop before we go too far down a tangent :)

              1. Talvi*

                You’re way more organised than I am! The spice shelf in my cupboard is organised with “what did I use most recently?” in front and “I’m pretty sure the last time I used the sage was a year ago at Thanksgiving” at the back. There is a lot of hunting for that one specific spice involved.

                1. Honeybee*

                  That’s how mine is organized. I have a three-tier spice rack. Most-used spices go at the bottom and least-used go at the top. What’s in front is whatever I used most recently.

                2. Vicki*

                  We have a spinning lazy-susan thing for the occasional times we want to get to something at the back.

    6. kac*

      As an extrovert who has a very close relationship with her boss and frequently has pretty emotionally honest conversations with said boss–this has me nearly breaking out in hives.

    7. the gold digger*

      how I dropped a stitch knitting or found a june bug on my roses or about the cute little baby quilt I made

      i.e., all the cool stories my husband never wants to hear!

      (I can be a little long-winded.)

      (As you guys have probably noticed.)

    8. Vicki*

      I misread that as “cute baby quail you saw over the weekend”.

      Personally, I could never say, to my manager, “I like the idea of taking a couple of minutes to connect personally at the start of these meetings,” because I don’t want to lie. You’re my manager; I’m the employee. We’re not friends. We don’t need to connect personally.


  2. Katie the Fed*

    I don’t know what’s worse – the thought of my employees having to share this stuff with me, or the thought of having to share with them. ACK!

    Yeah…just go through the motions. It sounds like it’s a company policy, so he probably doesn’t want to do it either. Although telling you you’re being hostile isn’t exactly going to engender rapport. Oy.

    If you had a better relationship, you could really have fun with this. But he sounds like he’s not that affable in the first place. Meh.

    1. AMG*

      Yeah, the part where he is telling you that you are being hostile by not sharing your best/worst is disconcerting.

      1. Panda Bandit*

        Yeah, him saying that is manipulative. The whole exercise is badly thought out and has a really high chance of backfiring. You can’t force closeness.

      2. TootsNYC*

        This is a mischaracterization.

        From the OP: “But when I question these kinds of policies, he also gets upset and tells me I’m being hostile.”

        That’s very different.

        I think our OP could say, “I hate to dwell on the negative stuff. Here’s one small mildly interesting thing that’s going. Can we focus on the work stuff now, since I need to finish off the Tyler report?”

  3. Charlotte Collins*

    OP – You have my sympathy. This sounds awful. And Alison’s advice is right on. (As usual!)

    I’d be really tempted to say something like, “I was kidnapped by aliens.” (This could be best and/or worst, depending upon spin.) Or maybe something from the plot of a movie or TV show. (Think of it like a surprise pop culture quiz for your boss.)

    1. Elle*

      If you do a kidnapped by aliens theme, make sure you do a Kate McKinnon version a la Saturday Nigh Live!

      1. Charlotte Collins*

        I’m thinking Marty from SG-1. You could use his whole story arc as a best and worst.

        1. Leatherwings*

          I love you for this reference. Holy God. You should also reference your idea for a television show based on the whole experience as a positive: Wormhole X-treme

    2. Cat*

      I like that idea. You could do one every week. “Well, I found out I have lung cancer, but on the other hand, I came up with a new formula for meth.” “I’m on trial for incest, but I learned where the napalm is kept.” “Hmm, I’m having a breakdown about that time I killed a guy in Korea, but I just had an amazing idea for a Coke commercial.”

      1. moss*

        “I’m on trial for incest, but I learned where the napalm is kept”

        dying dying dead. These are awesome. LOL.

          1. Pontoon Pirate*

            Ah, this would be Game of Thrones, I believe. I’d hate to be the HR there. Turnover alone …

            1. INTP*

              OTOH, you don’t have to pay severance (no pun intended) to outgoing executives if you just behead them.

    3. MYOFB*

      In the 80’s, I had a boss that just couldn’t stop herself from prying into my romantic plans for Friday nights. No amount of telling her I was going home to watch TV would satisfy her, so I finally started giving her small details about my boyfriend Sonny. Without fail, he would always show up at 8pm on Friday night to see me. He was a good looking blonde vice cop in Miami who had a penchant for pastel linen suits and huarache sandals.

      This went on for weeks of me telling her some of the exciting cases he was on and how he cheated death on nearly a weekly basis. The other girls in the office played along and one even offered that she had a crush on his partner Tubbs. We talked about possibly getting together for a double date one Friday night.

      I still don’t know whether someone told her, or if she maybe happened to catch her first episode of Miami Vice one Friday night and realized what was going on, but she just kind of stopped asking – which was all I wanted in the first place.

      I still laugh when I’m flipping through the channels and see a Miami Vice rerun. My ex Sonny still looks the same – he never ages and is still wearing those linen suits. ;)

      1. WT*

        The fact that you and your coworkers could keep this going with a straight face is quite impressive. I would have been repressing a smirk too much to keep it going.

      2. Bowserkitty*

        This is fantastic…LOL

        You’re the original plot of The Office where they’re required to tell tragic stories about family members and the employees go through the plots of Million Dollar Baby, The Lion King, and naturally, Weekend at Bernie’s.

      3. periwinkle*

        That would be the perfect strategy for the OP! When you run out of movies, switch to literature.

        “So what were the best and worst things from your personal life this week?”

        “Well, my family and I went to this big neighborhood party. My mom was all psyched because some rich guy had moved to the neighborhood recently and she thought one of us should marry him. I mean, she didn’t even know anything about him! Moms are crazy, am I right? Anyway, so we did meet him and it turns out he was a really nice guy. He and my big sis hit it off – of course my mom starts immediately hearing wedding bells. Geez, no wonder my dad stayed home instead. This guy brought along a friend who was rich and smart and really good looking, but such a jerk. He wouldn’t even talk to anyone, just sat there checking his Android for whatever, I don’t know, Instagrams about better parties than ours. So, how was your week?”

        1. Vicki*

          It is a truth, universally acknowledged, that a bad teambuilding plan must be in want of sharing in AAM.

      4. Edith*

        That is exactly what Pam and Ryan did to Michael Scott when he tried force everyone to share stories of how the deaths of loved ones affected them. Well played.

    4. afiendishthingy*

      My best friend, my girlfriend and I all took the day off and ended up in the middle of a parade in downtown Chicago, and had lots of other adventures! What a gas. On the downside my friend’s dad’s car got totaled.

      1. Charlotte Collins*

        So, this weekend I spent with my brother trying to get the band back together. And his crazy ex-fiancee kept chasing us around. But the music in the diner was amazing!

        1. knitcrazybooknut*

          So I was supposed to be babysitting, but my friend called from the bus station and I ended up having to take the kids to pick her up in the city. What a night!

    5. GermanGirl*

      I’d be tempted to find something that is both best and worst every week, like I cleaned up the garage. Worst because I really wasn’t in the mood for it and best because I felt good when it was done. Use with any chore.

  4. Michaela*

    If you had a better relationship with your boss, I’d say to troll without remorse: “Best: I was kidnapped by aliens and experimented on over the weekend. Worst: They returned me to Earth in time for work Monday morning.”

    1. Lily in NYC*

      What the heck! You and charlotte both came up with “kidnapped by aliens” at the same exact time. I think you are both really aliens and are up to something nefarious.

  5. Graciosa*

    Oh good grief!

    You can’t create a great culture with this kind of forced fake friendships!

    Not to mention that it shouldn’t even be a goal –

    Your boss is supposed to help with your work issues, not take responsibility for your personal ones. This occasionally stretches into listening sympathetically when the two intersect, but nothing like this.

    I would take an effective, professional boss who got the management aspect right but never asked about my vacation over an incompetent or indifferent boss (not even a jerk) who insisted on something like this.

    1. JessaB*

      Yeh I would have to bite my tongue not to say “Worst thing: my boss asking me about personal stuff all the time.”

  6. Cambridge Comma*

    My boss (who has an amazing gift for conveying warmth and friendliness at a distance) talks about dishes/recipes and plants a lot, and I’ve noticed that you can talk about them for a long time without getting personal at all.

    1. Lily in NYC*

      This is totally my trick at work. I am really warm and friendly and chat about nonsense and it makes people think they know me well. When in reality, I rarely talk about my personal life unless it’s in general terms. So, I’ll tell a random story about my crazy grandpa (I could write a book about that dude) but no one knows if I’m married, single, have pets, etc…

      1. AdminNeedsAName*

        If you like to talk about them pets are a good source for entertaining but not-too-personal conversation, though! I got a corgi puppy a few months ago and I’ve never gotten along so well with my coworkers, haha

        1. Lily in NYC*

          I should make up a pet to talk about. I think it will be a foul-mouthed parrot. I am so jealous you have a corgi! They are such adorable and sweet doggies.

          1. Employee 427*

            A foul-mouthed parrot could be a good worst one. “Well, I discovered my parrot learned a new four-letter word yesterday…”

            1. A Non*

              That’s awesome. Parrots are good for all kinds of other mayhem, too – rare diseases, biting through anything broomstick sized or smaller, escaping, screaming loud enough to wake the neighbors… Oh, and the big ones have 60-80 year lifespans, so this can be a problem that lasts for generations!

        2. Kelly L.*

          Pets are my trick for getting along with relatives with vastly different political opinions. We can’t agree on anything else, but boy howdy, we can sure tell cat and dog stories for hours! :D

          1. Florida*

            My trick for dealing with family members with vastly different political opinions is to point out how stupid they are. Maybe I should get a pet.

            1. Formica Dinette*

              I vote for you to get a pet and continue pointing out to those family members how stupid they are. But I’d make a terrible advice columnist, soooo….

            2. MashaKasha*

              My trick was ignoring them and staying out of the family gatherings. But now one of the family members with vastly different political opinions is someone I happen to have given birth to. It’s a tough one. You can’t ignore and you can’t call names (nor do I want to do any of those things.) I don’t know how to handle this. It’s awkward. I do steer the conversation towards pets with him, I admit.

              1. Artemesia*

                Tough one. My parents had to deal with that, but we mostly didn’t talk politics as a result. I am pleased to have bred true and have adult children who share my political values. I have noticed that my son in law hates political talk though even when we are ranting things he believes.

                1. MashaKasha*

                  I banned my dad from talking politics at the family holiday dinners that I hosted; after he managed to compare myself and my then-husband to the Jews that voted for Hitler in the 30s. He said that because (are you sitting down?) we were going to vote for Kerry and not for Bush like he wanted us to. I told the family that no political talk was any longer allowed at the holiday table. The ban went well, we had a good ten years of politics-free holiday dinners. I’ve got to say, my son has a lot more tact than Dad did. No name-calling, no personal attacks, none of that craziness. Even though my other son and I disagree with him on pretty much every issue right now, we can all still have a semi-decent discussion once in a while.

              2. Shishimai*

                Wow – this turned into a long post. o.O

                I’m on the other side of this particular issue. I don’t discuss politics with one of my parents, because it always ends badly (and I don’t handle being yelled at well). We do a lot of talking about cats and plants.

                With the other parent, we can disagree without shouting or name-calling or ignoring, so we can have good discussions even though we’re pretty much at opposite ends. The key is the assumption (and it is hard, conscious work) that the other party is thinking it through and is doing their best to be on the side of the angels. I’ve talked it through with that parent, and etiquette and assuming positive intent are how we both get through those conversations. That, and it’s interesting to both of us to see the other party honestly engage with our ideas. :D

                It’s definitely hard and awkward, and results in some bruised feelings anyway. The key is the relationship’s strong enough to support some hard feelings, and we can talk about that too. In situations where mutual respect doesn’t exist, directing the conversation toward casual things is pretty much the only solution.

            3. Lindsay J*

              LMAO, this is mine, too. It doesn’t seem to work very well. Maybe I should stick to dog stories.

        3. MashaKasha*

          Kids were my go-to conversation subject for years, until they became teenagers and I was no longer comfortable sharing what they were up to; but, by that time, we had a dog. You can never go wrong with a story about a dog’s antics. The dog died last year, but my son and his gf very quickly came up with a pair of cats, who now live with me for six months out of the year. Cat stories are also a huge hit. Failing that, there’s always gardening and home repairs. I have also noticed that a few older coworkers talk about their new grandkids a lot, so that’s what I’m going to do when the cats are no longer with us, I guess.

          1. Vicki*

            Cat stories are definitely a hit (as evidenced by the Interwebs). During the other 6 months, you could just share storie of other peoples’ cats. Or dogs.

      2. Snarkus Aurelius*

        I had an old boss who once wondered out loud how the demands of our work affected our personal lives. She listed every employee and the name of his/her respective SO and wondered about it. When she got to me, she literally said, “…and Snarkus…Snarkus…Snarkus…”

        I wish I’d been there. She’d known me for four years and realized she didn’t know anything about me, which is exactly the way I wanted it.

        1. Artemesia*

          I once had an exaggerated sense of how women should separate personal and professional and was newly working on a research project at a research institute of a university. I remember a party where we were all standing around chatting with spouses included etc and people were talking about their kids and one said ‘oh you and Wakeen don’t have kids do you, this must be boring.’ At that time I had a 5 year old and 7 mos old who was still nursing — that is how be-kidded I was. So I just said ‘Oh we have two, a 5 year old son and a baby daughter.’ They acted like it totally upended their world view. For several days, I’d get people saying ‘Wow, I heard this amazing thing about you.’ I guess I had gotten carried away with the ‘all business’ persona.

          1. Rater Z*

            This reminds me of what happened with me five years ago. To make a short story long, I was working in a retail store where I was the only guy around about 10 women. I said this to various people over a week or so. I would say that I had just heard from someone I had not heard from or seen in 42 years. The person would always ask who I heard from and I would say it was my son.

            True story. He was 45 days old when my wife told me she wanted to be single again and so I had no contact with my son for that long. I did let her second husband adopt him. I didn’t realize until then that I had worked for over 10 years with people who didn’t even realize I had a son.

    2. nunqzk*

      Yes! I used food this way with a previous boundary-challenged boss.
      Her: I had a terrible weekend! [lengthy overshare about her family] How was your weekend?
      Me: Good. I tried a new pasta recipe, and it turned out great.
      Her: You seem stressed. You remind me of myself when [lengthy overshare about her marriage].
      Me: Yeah, after work I’m going to relax by making squash soup.
      Etc. ad nauseam until I was ready to move onto another job. I’m sure she thought I led a super boring life, but that’s fine. Eventually she started initiating conversations about food to connect with me, and that was fine too.

      1. afiendishthingy*

        I don’t know why, but “Yeah, after work I’m going to relax by making squash soup” cracked me up.

    3. Sparrow*

      Yes! Common pop culture interests have worked well for me in this regard, too. I have a (senior) coworker I can’t stand, but we can totally talk about Doctor Who. With my current boss, Hamilton comes up in about 75% of our non-work conversations. I’m pretty sure the other 25% are about her dog.

  7. Lily in NYC*

    Ugh, this is so misguided. I would be tempted to reply with TMI “worsts”. Like: Oh, I had terrible diarrhea all weekend.
    I feel like so many bosses want to improve morale but go about it in the worst way. Morale is horrendous right now at my job, and their solution is to start an “employee of the month program”. This is so not the type of place where this kind of thing works. We are an office full of highly-skilled engineers and urban planners (myself not included) and it just makes no sense to nominate each other when we don’t have many service-oriented employees here. Everyone just rolled their eyes and ignored it. I’d much rather they do something tangible like get us a water cooler and repair our disgusting bathrooms instead of rolling out “feel good” programs that only serve to annoy us.

    1. AdminNeedsAName*

      We had a terrible, stinky, broken coffee machine at my last job and when they finally replaced it you would have thought it was the second coming of Jesus. Morale was so high for a while after that! Sometimes the easy morale fixes are just physical comfort fixes that should be (but usually aren’t) easy for management to recognize.

      1. Lily in NYC*

        I know! The little things make a big difference. I should say something nice – our office did just give us a free friday off and people were really psyched about that.

    2. F.*

      The problem with fixing the bathrooms and getting a water cooler are that they cost money. Feel-good programs like “Employee of the Month” cost very little or nothing. I’d bet the CEO’s bathroom isn’t disgusting.

      1. Lily in NYC*

        Our president uses the same gross bathroom as the rest of us! It’s just that the ones on our floor broke recently and the facilities dept. is so overworked that they haven’t done anything about it. I am so thirsty all the time because I am too lazy to go to a different floor for water. But lately we’ve been spending our money on converting everything to open desk plans instead of things we really need.

    3. Artemesia*

      They need to look at how IT oriented places keep their highly paid software developers etc happy — it isn’t ’employee of the month’ or other fast food models — it is good coffee, good snacks, flexibility on hours, and of course they pay them well.

    4. TootsNYC*

      I heard once about a scientific study where they’d repaint the office different colors to see if it improved morale. they’d leave one color for several months and then repaint.

      They discovered that productivity went up right after painting, no matter what the color was. It was the act of having the office spiffed up that created the morale boost.

      1. addlady*

        “Maybe this time they’ll start trying other things as well!” << what they were probably thinking

      2. Edith*

        My company just redid the entire building– new flooring, new paint, new décor, the whole shebang– with the sole exception of my department, which wasn’t touched at all. They left us as is for completely legitimate reasons, but I have to admit my morale is a bit lower now. It took the rest of the building looking so spiffy for me to notice just how drab and dingy my department is. :/

      3. Fed Up*

        I can’t find the actual info, but this was originally done with lighting.
        At the end, they’d increased it immensely, then decreased it to the point where it was really hard to work, but ANY change increased productivity.

      4. Kraig*

        Shockingly they found asking employees increased motivation and satisfaction.

        This is why scientific studies on ergonomics don’t ask. The one where they asked factoey workers about lighting preferences then adjusted the lights always got satisfaction no matter the preference or if they went up or down. They then tried asking the workers and NOT adjusting the lights at all and found the same rise in motivation. It turns out just having managers ask employees what they would like done increases motivation.

  8. MsMaryMary*

    I totally agree about not wanting to sharing your personal life with your (awful) boss, I do like the idea of opening a one on one with a professional best/worst. Maybe you could start steering away from personal bests/worsts to professional ones. “You know, my non-work life has been pretty quiet lately, so I really have to say the highlight of last week was landing the Earl Grey account.” or “Our cable went out during the Wimbledon finals, that was bad. It’s almost as frustrating as when Outlook crashes. Do you know when we’re upgrading to the new version of Office?”

      1. Christopher Tracy*

        Agreed. I’d keep my bests and worsts to personal professional accomplishments/setbacks.

  9. Savannah*

    Chronic toe fungus trials and tribulations are the worst OP! lots of ups and down to share for sure…

    1. Formica Dinette*

      I was thinking ingrown hairs, but toe fungus works too!

      Or if OP is a woman of appropriate age, a hilarious number of men are easily squicked out by any mention of periods.

    2. afiendishthingy*

      Yes, I have an ingrown toenail which would be my go-to… I would make sure to have my boss examine it each time so we could monitor its progress together. Nothing brings people together like foot ailments!

  10. BRR*

    In an effort to build connections across our department my boss tried to force things as well. Myself and another colleague gave some feedback on her suggestions which were well received because we were trying to help here with her goal. It sounds like whether it was a suggestion from above or something he came up with, he doesn’t know how to small talk with colleagues (hence the 3 minutes each). That is another reason I think this won’t last long.

    If you have to go along with it I would probably end up with a lot of “ehh I can’t really think of anything, my week was pretty uneventful.”

    1. Charlotte Collins*

      I’d also be tempted to recite Gloria’s “I stepped on the ping pong ball” story from Auntie Mame. But you have to do it in her upper-class 1950s prep school drawl.

  11. Mustache Cat*

    I have a lot of hobbies that I can go on about at length but are deeply boring to everyone else. This man would hear a lot about the algae problem in my fish tank, and how I’m thinking of upping my liquid carbon input.

    1. Transit Whisperer*

      For me, he’d hear about all the Star Trek episodes I watched or comic books I bought.

      1. Charlotte Collins*

        And this is something that you can use to fill your three minutes every single meeting.

        1. dear liza dear liza*

          I love this so much. “Remember how last week I tried strategy A? Well, this week, I decided to go with strategy B, and plants 1-3 seem to be showing some improvement, but etc etc etc”

    2. Jadelyn*

      My frustrations with the mission I’m working on in Fallout4 or Mirror’s Edge Catalyst…the idea I have for a new jewelry design or a new maille weave I’m trying to master…details about my Tiburon and my planned mods for my car (Tuscani badges just got in last night, woot!)…forget 3 minutes, I could fill 30 minutes with any one of these in excruciating detail. I think he’d give up pretty quick.

    3. Rebecca in Dallas*

      So I’m a distance runner and I don’t think there is anything more boring for a non-runner to hear about than my training and race schedule. But sadly, I could talk about it for hours (and I do, with my running friends). In three short minutes, I’d only have time to talk about how I decided what to wear!

      1. Sparrow*

        I have a coworker who’s a runner, and whenever I run out of small talk, I just ask him about his training/next upcoming race and let him go for a while. It’s very convenient, actually!

    4. Alienor*

      Sidebar: If you have a freshwater tank, you can get a pleco. (I forget the full name…plecostomous something.) They live on the bottom of the tank and eat algae. When I had a fish tank years ago, mine did such a good job that I had to give him supplementary algae tablets to be sure he was getting enough.

      1. Mustache Cat*

        The common pleco grows to be over a foot long, and it’s considered inhumane to keep them in a tank below 55 gallons (and even there I wouldn’t).

        1. Alienor*

          I’m sorry I offended you. For what it’s worth, I did have a large tank and I would never treat any animal inhumanely.

    5. Meri*

      Yeah, I’d be going into detail about our weekly RPG sessions. “So we were on our way to meet the town mayor when we saw some guards harassing peasants, so we…”

  12. AnonNurse*

    I’m not having a great day at work today so all I can come up with for best is “I only worked 3 days last week” and worst as “I had a terrible shift where no one seemed to care that we didn’t have enough people and we were short staffed”. Yeah, not so helpful.

    Oh, just came up with another best – “I’m off for the next 6 days!” Unfortunately that is also probably not a great focus for a best for talking about personal lives with the boss. Good luck!

  13. AdminNeedsAName*

    This reminds me of one of my worst job interview experiences, where one of the questions was “Tell us about the worst moment in your life.” Like, wtf? It took so much to sit there and be reminded of my worst moment, hold back tears, and then come up with some b.s. I don’t understand how that was supposed to be helpful in a job interview for a low-level admin in a university department.

    1. ZSD*

      What? That’s terrible!
      Maybe, maybe they were specifically looking for someone who could deal with hearing about students’ terrible situations and still keep their composure. (I used to work with university students and definitely had them tell me about some difficult situations.) That interview question is the wrong way to go about it, though.

      1. AdminNeedsAName*

        Yeah, I think “tell us about a difficult situation and how you handled it” would have been much more helpful. The entire interview was a mess, anyway. It was a panel interview with their whole department, and all but two of them had obviously been told about it that day, so I would get one or two work related questions, and then something weird that they had pulled from Google. I got the worst moment question, along with questions about the best moments in my life, how to did I feel about being “lonely and alone in a new city” (a direct quote), how would I deal with their database vendor (not anymore specific than that, and they didn’t name the database vendor), and two questions about spirit animals – what was my spirit animal, and then one guy (who I had just met!) had me try to guess his. It was an emu. I did not get it right.

        1. Charlotte Collins*

          Out of curiosity, what kind of department was this? (I’m hoping that it was not Economics, but that would explain so much in the world…)

            1. Charlotte Collins*

              That’s what I was thinking, but I didn’t want to assume. (Proud English MA here! But that doesn’t mean that I haven’t seen/heard some very silly things. I was more a medievalist – it seems that the more Modern/Contemporary crowd gets into this sort of thing.)

              Otherwise, I was going to guess something in the fine arts.

        2. JustALurker*

          You are so good. I know I would have been caught off guard and probably blown the interview by asking “Am I being PUNKED!?”

          1. AdminNeedsAName*

            I did blow it with my spirit animal answer. I wish I was kidding, but this is what I rambled because I was so thrown off by the whiplash their questions were giving me: “An ocelot, because I could imagine myself owning one with it ripping my face off since they’re smaller than other big cats. Majestic, but house-sized.” It is burned into my brain.

            1. Rebecca in Dallas*

              OMG all I can think about with this answer is Babou on Archer! “Is that an ocelot?!” “It’s like Meow-schwitz in there.”

            2. The Other Katie*

              I literally laughed out loud with this one. You are amazing. I would have hired you on the spot!

              1. Charlotte Collins*

                Also, Honey West had a pet ocelot, so they’re clearly the Cool Kick A$$ Detective Girl option.

        3. MashaKasha*

          I’m afraid my spirit animal is a hyena, because I would’ve laughed hysterically at that question. I think your ocelot answer was actually very cool! “Majestic, but house-sized” is going to be my new “what are you looking for?” answer if I ever do online dating again.

          “Lonely and alone in a new city” seems pretty far off-track for an English department! Or did they mean lonely and alone as opposed to lonely and surrounded by zombies; or alone in the company of your imaginary friends?

          1. AdminNeedsAName*

            I did laugh when the guy asked me to guess his spirit animal. He added, “you’ll never guess it.” Then whyyyyyyy even aaaaaaaaaaaask???

                1. Polka Dot Diana*

                  I love taking those pointless quizzes that are “based on your personality.”

                  My spirit animal is a crow. Cute.

              1. MashaKasha*

                Oh, geez. Found a bunch of quizzes. Took one. Come to find out, I am a deer. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll go rummage in the trash while trying not to get hit by a car.

                1. Meri*

                  If you’re me and my husband, you just decide. (Mine is a manatee, because I’m fat, love to swim, and am good-natured.)

                2. Charlotte Collins*

                  Also, you can think, “I’m a manatee. I live in the ocean.” (Does anyone remember Dr. Katz?)

                3. HR Caligula*

                  Just googled and took 3 quick quiz’s
                  I go with Buffalo as closest fit, sans the hair of course.

                4. Polka Dot Diana*

                  Meri, I adore your spirit animal!! I will join you in spirit as a spirit sister manatee.

        4. OlympiasEpiriot*

          Ok. I have met emu (plural, I think you don’t add an ess). Why on earth was his spirit animal an emu?

          Curious, aggressive, fuzzy and great percussionists?

          Lay enormous eggs?

          Look like they haven’t changed from the Jurassic?


          From Australia?

          All his fat is an outer layer just under the skin?

          What? I’m bewildered.

      2. Sydney*

        Or ask “how would you handle it if a student came to you with a difficult situation?” and then give some examples. ie lost student id, locked out of room, failed a class/exam, etc

        1. AdminNeedsAName*

          Yes, precisely. There were much better ways for them to get the answers they were actually looking for.

      1. AdminNeedsAName*

        Right? I wish I had been quick enough to realize that the interview wasn’t going anywhere and just given this answer and walked out like a boss.

    2. Hazel Asperg*

      Oh my gosh, someone did not think that through. Like many people, I would be saying, “Thanks for the PTSD flashbacks, nice job(!)”

    3. Artemesia*

      The cousin of this question is ‘your most embarrassing moment.’ Yeah right, I am sharing that with you; it was bad enough the first time.

      But worst moment of your life? Only some yutz who has never experienced any tragedy would think that appropriate. Only a sadist wants to hear about a woman’s continuing miscarriages, the man’s loss of his infant son to SIDS, the employees military service where two good friends were maimed for life, or even about the loss of the employees parent. Horrifying

    4. Fafaflunkie*

      Should you get passed the memories of the most painful moment of your life, your curt response: “I’ve just experienced it.” Then walk out the door.

  14. Snarkus Aurelius*

    When will this BS about being besties in the workplace and treating one-on-ones like mini-therapy sessions STOP?

    I am here to do the duties listed in my job description, get paid, gain new experiences and challenges, and hopefully get promoted to something more.  I don’t care about your kid’s learning problems or your wife’s family drama or your dog dying.  I don’t know you that way, which is why I don’t care.  It’s not that I’m mean; it’s that the nature of our relationship is business.  I wouldn’t care about your credit card debt anymore than I would care about the barista’s roommate issues.

    We worker bees are thrown together by chance not by choice. So why do some employers insist on acting like we’re the best of friends who have to share the most intimate details?

    To finish this rant, AAM’s advice is a great way to act like you’re sharing a bunch of stuff when in reality you’re not sharing anything at all.  That’s the goal here.  

    For example, my sister (yet another person I know by chance and not choice) thinks we’re super close and share everything.  No way on God’s green earth would I ever tell her anything sensitive or personal because I’ve learned that lesson the hard way, but it’s best to let her think this or risk a complete mental breakdown.  The risk isn’t as extreme in your case, but the overall sentiment is the same.

    1. Katie the Fed*

      Well, that’s a little harsh. You can care about someone’s dog dying without being besties in the workplace. Ideally there’s a happy medium where you have a friendly relationship with coworkers without being BFFs.

      1. Snarkus Aurelius*

        It depends on who you are to me.

        If you’re the receptionist from my last job, then this would be normal. But you wouldn’t have told me at work in a meeting. You would have texted/called me that Bumper died last night, and I’d probably come over. And if Bumper was sick, I would have already known that. Why? Because we were legit friends outside of work.

        If you’re my current boss, I’d probably mumble an apology and sit there awkwardly because I wouldn’t have known a dog existed in the first place. Then I would have bugged you for those edits because that’s the only reason we’d be having a face to face this week.

        1. Cat*

          I feel like life has room for an in-between relationship where you say “I’m so sorry, I know that’s really hard” and genuinely mean it, but it doesn’t actually affect your life that much.

          1. Snarkus Aurelius*

            True but the nature of my relationships aren’t dictated by workplace directives. It’s more organic.

            This is a reaction I could demonstrate, but I don’t want to hear about it for three minutes, especially if I have pressing matters, and I can’t keep that forced conversation going for every meeting without feeling resentful.

            Once? Yes. On a regular basis? No.

      2. Isabel C.*

        I feel like there’s “caring” in the “aw, that’s too bad, I hope you feel better soon” sense, and then “caring” in the sense that we’re actually friends, I want to take an active part in helping you feel better, and if that includes sharing the details and crying on my shoulder, you’re welcome to do so.

        The latter is how I care about my friends’ problems; the former is how I’ve cared about most coworkers’. (I could see making exceptions in the future, but you can’t force these things.)

        I am also reminded of the chick a few jobs back who responded to “I’m taking a long lunch–have to get my bridesmaid’s dress altered,” with a forty-five minute tale of her marital woes, including the phrase “you can always use your hand.” (Considered gnawing my own leg off, at several points.) Like, I’m sorry you have had these issues, lady, and I hope your life improves, but…not your friend, not your therapist, please go away.

        1. Alton*

          I agree. There’s a line. I wouldn’t find it odd or over-sharing if I asked a coworker how they’re doing and they said, “I’m kind of down–my dog died yesterday.” And I’d feel sympathetic.

          When it comes to sharing more, there’s some nuance involved, and a lot of sharing can be awkward when you’re not friends. If a coworker went off on an unsolicited vent about their dog’s health problems, I would feel like they were venturing into more intimate territory. Sometimes that’s still okay if you can tell someone is really going through a crisis or tragedy. But I’ve had coworkers who made it a habit of talking a lot about their problems and personal life, and it got old since we weren’t friends.

        1. Katie the Fed*

          Me too! I read a Vox story yesterday about a dog dying and I was crying. I’m also PMSing, but still…

    2. sharon g*

      My thoughts exactly! I use to keep a small sticky note on my monitor that had “PAWANYF.” It stands for People At Work Are Not Your Friends.

      1. Windchime*

        I need to get this tattooed on my arm so I see it every day. It’s a lesson that I clearly need to learn.

    3. Christopher Tracy*

      I am here to do the duties listed in my job description, get paid, gain new experiences and challenges, and hopefully get promoted to something more. I don’t care about your kid’s learning problems or your wife’s family drama or your dog dying. I don’t know you that way, which is why I don’t care. It’s not that I’m mean; it’s that the nature of our relationship is business. I wouldn’t care about your credit card debt anymore than I would care about the barista’s roommate issues.

      We worker bees are thrown together by chance not by choice. So why do some employers insist on acting like we’re the best of friends who have to share the most intimate details?

      Amen. To all of this. I should print this out, frame it, and stick it on my desk.

      1. Lemon Zinger*

        Same here! I wish I could put it outside my cubicle so my coworkers would stop talking to me about their binge drinking on weekends…

        1. Christopher Tracy*

          Lol ugh. When I overhear those conversations, I put my headphones on and pretend to be absorbed in work.

    4. BRR*

      I definitely get and agree to a certain extent your view but it’s also very common to want a little warmth in the work place since we spend so much time there. I don’t think people need to be BFFs and I agree there is a lot of over-sharing that happens such as what you wrote. However some conversation helps a lot of people enjoy work more than just coming in and doing nothing but their tasks.

      I also think hiring is partially by choice and not just chance (and I’m a big believer in finding it odd how some people are so attached to some unpleasant relatives “because they’re family”). Hiring often has a fit component both from the employer and the applicant perspective.

    5. Jadelyn*

      I think there’s a happy medium in there – if you click well with someone at work, you end up talking about your lives, and a friendship can naturally develop that eventually extends outside of work. I’ve got a work friend who I bonded with over cars and driving, and we’ve made plans to go to one of the races at a local track together in a few weeks; I’ve invited him to come over and play the new Mirror’s Edge game because he doesn’t have a current-gen console to play it on but it’s a shared favorite game. But there are definitely people where I know that they’re married and have a kid with a grandkid on the way but that’s all, and I’m fine with that.

      I think the problem isn’t natural intimacy that can develop when you’re flung into a shared space and shared responsibilities with someone for half your waking hours – it’s the idea that you *have* to develop that intimacy with *everyone* in order to function together.

    6. Fafaflunkie*

      While you may nother care about the situations explemplified by your examples, at the very least you can show a little empathy: “I’m so sorry about your daughter not making glee club. I didn’t make my high school’s chess team when I tried out in 9th Grade.” (Whether that anecdote is true or not is another matter. )

      Seriously though, I would be flabbergasted to have to deal with this every week. Alison’s response was perfect.

      1. Fafaflunkie*

        “Nother?” This is my fault for not proofreading this dumb phone’s autocorrect before tapping Submit. I meant neither, obviously.

  15. Transit Whisperer*

    My kid has explosive bowel movements during the day. Go into the incredibly disgusting details of this–that should put an end to best/worst discussions pretty quickly.

  16. Polka Dot Diana*

    I’m not sure if I made the right decision in telling my former boss my mother-in-law died unexpectedly. (I mean, I was missing work for the wake and funeral so I needed to tell him). Since I am relatively young and my mother-in-law was relatively young and healthy, it came as a surprise to all. My boss’s way of connecting on a personal level was constantly asking me, “So did you figure out how she died?” along with commenting about my eating habits (“What are you eating? It looks terrible. Sorry, got into Dad mode. You’re the same age as my daughter.”) He also tried taking out our 19-year-old intern for drinks before realizing she was under 21. So he took her out for coffee. I can’t imagine what they talked about…

    I would take story lines from movies/shows/books to share. Pro: I finally caught the last horcrux! Con: I woke up with a horse head in my bed… ;)

    1. Christopher Tracy*

      “So did you figure out how she died?”

      “The same way you’re about to if you ask that question again.”

      Seriously – I’m glad this is a former boss. What possesses some people to speak?!

      1. Polka Dot Diana*

        He was pretty terrible. I’m glad to be out of there before the autopsy results came back! Don’t need to add any more fuel to this fire.

      1. Polka Dot Diana*

        He really did not. I work in fundraising, and he gave terrible nicknames to donors, like “vampire” and “evil stepmother.” He also called a few of our interns useless, and even made fun of my Chinese intern by mimicking what he thought a native Chinese speaker sounded like. Looking back, I don’t know how anyone survived working under him. Unfortunately he owns the company and isn’t going anywhere soon.

  17. burnout*

    I’ve been part of a business coaching group thing where they did something similar. It wasn’t designed to be REALLY personal… just a way to get to know each other better.

    As someone with a pretty bent sense of humor, I would use the opportunity to come up with some really ridiculous stuff to talk about.

    “Best thing this week is that I finally taught my dog to roller skate!”

    1. Snarkus Aurelius*

      I heard of a consultant who tried to get participants to tell their co-workers something about themselves that no one else knew. When the guy got pushback, he said, “But how are you supposed to trust each other if you don’t share something intimate?” My response is always this: you gain my trust by being reliable, not shoving your work on me, not throwing me under the bus, and the occasion exchange of favors. That’s it.

      1. UK Nerd*

        I have been told to tell people something about myself that no one else knows so many times that there is now nothing about me that no one else knows.

        1. Jadelyn*


          I always end up floundering with those kinds of intros – if there’s something about me nobody knows, there’s probably a f*cking REASON that nobody knows it, kthx.

        2. Merry and Bright*

          Me too. In my workplace it is the standard ice-breaker for team events, training courses etc.

      2. Tomato Frog*

        But aside from being wrong-headed about what makes you trust coworkers, it’s also backwards. You share intimate details BECAUSE you trust someone, not vice-versa!

    2. Burnout*

      “for my worst of the week…. Do you know how difficult it is to get blood out of carpet? Let me tell you…”

    3. Kelly L.*

      It’s gotten to the point that I have to suppress a visible eyeroll when I hear the phrase “go around the room and.”

    4. Marillenbaum*

      This is legit my life goal.
      Step 1) Get dog.
      Step 2) Buy Roller skates.
      Step 3) ???
      Step 4) PROFIT!

  18. Liane*

    There’s usually a Best/Worst thread in the Non-work weekend post. You are welcome to borrow some of mine. I know posing as a Jedi knight and still having to deal with a lovable dog’s travails isn’t quite as cool as being an alien abductee who returns just in time to catch their commuter train Monday. But you don’t want to overuse one pair.
    Maybe some of the other regulars will allow you to borrow theirs, too.

  19. Abigael*

    I just laughed out loud in my office at this response. Everyone is looking at me now. :P

  20. Michelle*

    I have a really good relationship with my manager but I would not do this. If I could not get out of it, I would absolutely make stuff up: “My power went out for three minutes during the news” or “My cousin Tyrion got his nose chopped off during the sack of King’s Landing” or “My friend Hodor was killed by the undead army while holding the door”.

    1. Snarkus Aurelius*

      I would reuse plots from Full House or Boy Meets World. That’s a nice, wholesome thing to do.

      “My kid’s principal is retiring and moving to Wyoming. We’re all bummed.”

    2. MsMaryMary*

      I really did have a manager (well, someone several steps up, we were not his direct reports) who thought that when we discussed Friends we were talking about our actual friends. It was a flat organization so everyone worked in a cube, and he was within earshot of our ongoing conversation of Friends plot developments. It took until he was trying to make awkward small talk one day and asked one of us if our friend Rachel had had her baby yet for everyone to figure it out.

        1. MsMaryMary*

          Well, he’d only sat near us (we were all entry level hires in our 20s) for a few months.

          1. WT*

            Ah that makes more sense – I was picturing years of him thinking “wow, they have a very wacky and interesting life 20 odd weeks of the year”

      1. Polka Dot Diana*

        That’s hilarious. If anyone is an Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt fan, this reminds me of when Xanthippe (Jacqueline’s teen step-daughter) recycled a romantic plot line from “The Babysitters’ Club” to impress her friends, haha.

  21. Pwyll*

    Good God do I despise these band aid solutions for culture problems. Sticking a bandage on a blemish neither makes it go away nor diverts attention to it. And you can’t fix a broken arm with a band aid either.

    If your morale is low at work, it’s not because you’re not connecting on a personal, intimate level with your boss. Sheesh.

  22. JMegan*

    I actually said NOPE out loud when I saw the title of this post. Good luck, OP – if nothing else, you have a lot of internet strangers on your side here!

    1. Florida*

      From reading the comments, a lot of them have pretty creative suggestions for fake best/worst too. Any time you run out of ideas, just ask on Friday Open Thread and I’m sure you’ll get a few good suggestions for the following week.

    2. Hello Felicia*

      Best this week – Random strangers agree I’m in a tough spot. Worst – They also agree I have a rotten boss.

  23. Menacia*

    I’m wondering “who” instituted this policy exactly? There is no HR department, so who is controlling the structure of one-on-one’s and to what end? Additionally, no one is forced to divulge anything they don’t want to, it’s not an interrogation, and so keep to the storylines others have mentioned here, kill him with boredom! My life is so boring as it is, that *no* one would want even a 3 second best/worst of my week. I really have to start remembering these stories to help me be more grateful about where I work and who I work with. Good luck!

        1. Afiendishthingy*

          Ha!! No, sorry, I wasn’t thinking of Pokemon fanfiction. But that might be a winning combo to kill the best/worst moment initiative! if OP and coworkers can all band together and pick different suggestions from the comments, the check ins will be the worst moments of boss’s day every day and he won’t want to do it anymore ?

    1. Jennifer*

      “Oh yeah, I totally caught ’em all while visiting the Holocaust Museum.”

      (Because that’s a thing now.)

      1. Kyrielle*

        *twitch* I saw that article. So wrong. Along with the ones deep in the interior of the Pentagon, the various police stations being hassled, and historic houses…that are actually people’s homes….

  24. Elkay*

    I used to have to do this every day, it’s really difficult to come up with something every day.

    1. WT*

      Honestly, I am not even that interesting to have something to say day to day. I mean there are waves of me being busy, but most of the time it’s the daily grind.

    2. K.*

      Every day? Jeez. I think for most people, their work week lives are pretty routine. I’d end up talking about my workouts, meals, and what I’m reading or watching every day, which would get really boring.

  25. Mike C.*

    Why can’t we just go to work and be compensated decently in exchange for doing good work and leave it at that? Why is that so much to ask for?

    It’s a job, not a relationship.

          1. Mental Health Day*

            LOL I wish I had made that up. But no. I can’t take credit for it. This was something said to me in real life.

      1. Isabel C.*

        “You mean at least one of you will misrepresent conversations for her own drama, one is convinced that the world has gone to hell since WWII ended, three can’t be in the same room without fighting, and everyone drinks two Manhattans a night?”

        …because I kind of enjoy that, from a reasonable distance. ;P

  26. anon for this*

    Are you me, anon? My manager has started doing that because most of my team are millennials (though in the older range, around 25 – 30) range, so not right out of school “young” millennials, and my manager thinks because millennials like sharing so much personal info on social media, it means we should talk about personal lives in our team meetings and one on ones.

    I just make up a bunch of stuff like “oh, I had to get groceries and I hate getting groceries” or “I got ice cream last night yay ice cream” because my personal life is not my manager’s business.

  27. UK Nerd*

    My team does ‘what we did at the weekend’ at the start of our Monday calls. Very informal, and ‘nothing much’ is always an acceptable answer.

    I’m a larper though, so they’re used to my answers being more like, “Me and my friends teleported into the heart of the Red Mountains, where we were besieged by goblins, but defeated them all, and after picking a few magic flowers we continued into the caves of doom where I was killed by a minotaur. So I bought a fake beard and now I’m a dwarf.”

    Maybe larp answers are the way to go on this one? Best part of the week: new personal best in goblin slaying. Worst part: died.

    1. QualityControlFreak*

      “Best: I snuck up on the Eater of the Dead, got a hand on him and suggested that he leave the area for the rest of the day, without getting killed in the process.

      Worst: He interpreted the suggestion to mean he could not come near ME (or possibly the area I was in at the time) for the rest of the day. Solved the immediate problem but not the larger one.”

  28. sam*

    I find commuting trouble/nightmares are always a good source of endless stories that actually have nothing to do with your actual personal life but occur outside of work. Bonus being, you have to commute every day so there’s always the potential for new events.

    (My old boss thought I was a magnet for these things, because I somehow always seemed to end up with the best (worst) stories from my commutes. All true, of course. I didn’t have to tell them as some sort of forced bonding exercise, but it was the sort of thing that you couldn’t help telling sometimes, in the, “you would not believe what happened this morning…” variety).

    Just in the past two months, I have been (1) physically grabbed by a guy who has now bothered me on three different occasions, (2) present for an actual full-on fistfight between two women because one wouldn’t move out of the doorway of the train, and (3) experienced the overwhelmingly pleasant occurrence of “ranting homeless guy with no pants who insisted on going down the up the escalator during the crowded morning commute”.

      1. sam*

        oh yes. and these were just the highlights (lowlights?) that I immediately thought of while commenting. I *may* post regularly about my encounters on twitter, or, if they’re particularly involved – my blog. my actual historical favorite is from years ago, when a woman got on the bus in the wrong direction, didn’t realize it until almost the last stop (where the driver was actually terminating service), but wouldn’t get off the bus to take the right bus because *that* was too difficult and she couldn’t understand why the driver wouldn’t just take her where she wanted to go. 40+ blocks in the opposite direction. (full story: http://www.very-simple.com/blog/2005/02/11/sometimes-crazy-people-can-bring-other-people-together/)

        See, that’s a great outside-of-work story that you can endlessly entertain your colleagues with, and it has nothing to do with your actual personal life.

        1. OlympiasEpiriot*

          Before I read your blog post, I was imagining something even more ridiculous, like she got on the Bx 19 in Manhattan and you guys were now near Crotona Park or St. Barnabas Hospital.

          Yeah, that’s a bunch of Noo Yawkers! :-)

  29. Leslie Howard*

    400 employees and there are no HR professionals? Isn’t the sector proportion something like “60-70 employees to one HR pro”? How can this be?

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Well, for the same reason companies aren’t required to have any particular department, from communications to legal; it’s up to them how they operate as long as they follow the law.

        2. Mike C.*

          HR also doesn’t have a regulatory or safety role, so it doesn’t make sense that such a position would be required.

        3. Fact & Fiction*

          Also remember HR departments are there to protect the companies, not the workers.

  30. The Great Canadian Lurker*

    This sounds like a job for World of Warcraft! I have yet to find a person who doesn’t play the game who can even fake being interested in it for longer than two minutes. Loot drops are an easy high/low point for the week, and I’ve got years of guild drama that I could use to bore someone to death. I’m pretty sure after a few weeks, my manager would be more than happy to skip this stupid process just to shut me up.

    1. LQ*

      Bonus if you take a crummy photo of your screen shot with your phone to share. :) Oh let me show you we did this Algalon run, it is so pretty.

    2. Liz in a Library*

      I’m so annoyed by the plummeting prices for sumptuous fur on that AH. Gosh, boss, it’s really ruining the cash flow on my alts… ;)

      1. The Great Canadian Lurker*

        Ironically, I’m overjoyed about the prices for sumptuous fur falling. With the announcement that legion won’t be bringing bigger bags and people rolling new characters because of class changes, hexweave bags are a license to print money on my server right now.

        1. A Non*

          I haven’t played the game in at least five years, and still vaguely miss the auction houses. It’s always made me wonder if that’s what it’s like to sell stuff on ebay.

    3. Joseph*

      Yeah. It’s definitely something which is great to talk about to other players, but is completely nonsensical to someone who doesn’t because they have absolutely no frame of reference. Your five minute discussion of the struggles involved in killing Heroic Archimonde and the strategy you finally used to succeed comes across as “Um, so he did…something…to um…beat a demon-thingy? Maybe?”

      Honestly, even getting the basic terms to understand your stories is itself a long explanation. I mean, even the most basic, simple concept of the tank/healer/DPS roles itself requires an explanation for someone who’s not a gamer.

      True story: My wife and I watched the Warcraft movie when it came out (she actually liked it btw). A couple days later, she saw me playing and asked whether my character was “good” or “evil”. And I’m like…um…I don’t really know how to answer that. Kind of? The 70 factions who I’m Exalted with would think so…but 20 factions that Hate me probably would disagree.

    4. Artemesia*

      Any hobby not shared by others. My husband sings and has with various groups, choruses etc over the years. I love the performances but there is nothing more boring than people talking about singing technique and minutia. I was lucky to find a friend in the new city we moved to at retirement whose husband also sings — the two of them can have this conversation while she and I discuss anything else.

  31. 2 Cents*

    Other suggestions for topics for the OP (to use in either the best or worst category):
    Found/didn’t find the Pokemon I was looking for on Pokemon Go.
    Managed to find the only un-air conditioned bus/train car/subway when it was 90 degrees that other day.
    Spilled my coffee on my white shirt.
    Upgraded my [insert home appliance here]
    Finished Candy Crush on my commute.

    A surefire way to get this ridiculous experiment to end:
    Got a clean bill of health from my gyno!

    1. Slippy*

      Could also talk about:
      You found that some snake venom works really well as a nail polish remover.
      New Kennedy assassination theories.
      A mute cousin that won an award for speed signing.
      A very odd duck (bonus points if you can make it resemble the person you are talking to without them noticing).
      Buying a new book to teach you how to identify the gender of oysters.

  32. LawCat*

    I had management like this. We were supposed to share personal stuff in certain trainings. I just made stuff up.

  33. Gandalf the Nude*

    Dead serious: try to find out what shows he watches or movies he’s looking forward to, and share spoilers as your best/worst.

    “Did you see the Red Wedding? I can’t believe it!”
    “Oh, it’s great, they actually found Dory! I’m so relieved!”
    “Worst? Do you know who’s actually the worst? Severus Snape. How very dare he?”
    “How psyched are you that Oliver and Felicity are finally a couple? So cute, right?”
    “Bruce Willis was dead the entire time! The entire time. What a twist!”

    And then delve into detailed synopses of the plot during your three minutes. I bet he won’t want to hear your best/worst for long after that.

    1. Manders*

      This is hilarious. I can totally imagine every person in the room making their best/worst a pop culture reference that the boss either doesn’t know, or doesn’t want to hear.

    2. So Very Anonymous*

      Or, on the flip side, you could offer NON-spoilers like “Who DID shoot J.R.? It’s been tormenting me for YEARS now! Does anyone know?”

      Years ago I worked somewhere where my coworkers were very snobby about the fact that THEY Did Not Watch television. A friend suggested that I go into work one day and say “Oh man, I missed the finale of The Bachelor last night! What happened???!?!” just to see if anyone knew the answer/gave themselves away.

  34. BadPlanning*

    Have you already had a meeting and done with 6 minute exchange? Since your boss doesn’t think personal stuff should be in the office, I feel like if you just didn’t jump into you best/worst and you hopped right into regular status…both of you would be happy.

    1. TootsNYC*

      I thought that too.

      Maybe even saying, “I know you don’t really like the personal stuff to impact the office, so I thought maybe we’d just skip that.”

      or not even saying that; just pretend it was never part of the agenda.

      There’s also really vague, “Oh, this and that, it’s hard to remember,” and then immediately asking a work question.

  35. Manders*

    I was once asked to do something similar by a really bad boss; we were asked to share the best thing that had happened to us that week at a terrible company with a huge morale problem. I said, “The money I made allowed me to adopt two cats,” and talked about my cats until my time was up.

    I was not asked to present again.

      1. Manders*

        The great thing about pets is that you can go on endlessly about your own, amusing the other pet owners in the room without having to reveal any actually personal details.

        For the record, my cats are the sweetest, floppiest, stupidest cats around. The have a mild form of brain damage called cerebellar hypoplasia that doesn’t actually hurt them, but causes some unusual behaviors. If anyone tries to dig too deep into my personal life, they will hit an endless well of weird cat stories.

        1. Bowserkitty*

          I had to google that, because I have never heard of it before! And then I had to Youtube cats with ch and now I’ve melted as usual when watching cat videos. I bet your babies are absolutely adorable!

          *sigh* I love being a cat lady.

  36. Lunch Meat*

    Tell about a dream you had. Best part is no matter what you say, it’s like you’re serious, because you can’t make up a dream weirder than dreams are. “Well, I was at this space station with some people from a TV show I watch and this girl I was friends with in third grade, and then I think there was a bad guy who wanted to blow up the station, but then I was at my elementary school and we were flying, but I had a test I hadn’t studied for, so then the guys from the TV show came and said…oh, it was so funny, what did they say? Um, it was something about talking dogs…it was really funny…So then I think my alarm went off but I thought it was my phone ringing, so I picked it up and it was my cousin…”

    1. JMegan*

      Now, was that on Wednesday, or Thursday? I think it was Wednesday, because that was the day the cat threw up on the carpet and…no, wait, it must have been Thursday, because that was the day they were out of my favourite shampoo at the drugstore. Or maybe I went to the drugstore on Tuesday, and the cat threw up on Thursday? Yes, that’s it, definitely Thursday. Now, where was I? Oh yes, the space station with my friends from elementary school…

      1. Joseph*

        Forgetting details like the day and stopping your story to think about them is *crucial*. Totally ruins the flow – so even the people who were enjoying the event get bored.

      2. Grampa Simpson*

        One trick is to tell ’em stories that don’t go anywhere – like the time I caught the ferry over to Shelbyville. I needed a new heel for my shoe, so, I decided to go to Morganville, which is what they called Shelbyville in those days. So I tied an onion to my belt, which was the style at the time. Now, to take the ferry cost a nickel, and in those days, nickels had pictures of bumblebees on ’em. Give me five bees for a quarter, you’d say.

        Now where were we? Oh yeah: the important thing was I had an onion on my belt, which was the style at the time. They didn’t have white onions because of the war. The only thing you could get was those big yellow ones…

    2. Rusty Shackelford*

      Oh, yes. And no one wants to hear about anyone else’s dreams, so this might help shut the whole awful thing down.

    3. afiendishthingy*

      Oh! I have super vivid dreams and this would be great. I also think it would be funny to admit upfront that they were dreams, and just EVERY time be like “The worst part of my week was I dreamed I was back in high school and I couldn’t find my locker and I was way older than everyone, and I also forgot to wear pants. The best part was I could fly and I had a dog who could talk and gave me this really inspirational pep talk. It started with a quote by Sojourner Truth, and then it turned into a song… Let me sing it for you.”

    4. Rana*

      I am reading all of these out loud in a breathless voice to my husband right now, and giggling madly. This thread is the best.

  37. Bowserkitty*

    We had to do a “weekend update” at the end of our weekly Monday meetings at our old job. Admittedly, it was the part everybody looked forward to most but I hardly ever had anything to talk about. “I watched TV with my cat. I played video games. I slept half of the weekend.”

    Others went into far too much detail that I think I blocked out…

  38. HeartsofPalm*

    My company requires a lot of sharing and emotional openness, which is so not my thing. So I give myself permission to lie. Moment of my life I’d most like to relive? What I want written on my tombstone when I die? Thing from my childhood that has shaped me as an adult. All lies. I feel no obligation to reveal information about myself and if you are going to pressure me to do so, I am going to make it up.

    1. Lemon Zinger*

      This is what I do as well. What I do during my off-hours is nobody’s business but my own.

  39. Argh!*

    This: “Have a terrible boss.”

    I once had a boss who asked us to reveal our biggest childhood challenges in a meeting! One of my coworkers talked about being sexually abused by a relative. That is too much information. She knew we all loved her (I guess) but I did not want to hear that. In another meeting we had to talk about the latest book we’d read, which is better. I talked about a work-related book that I’d just finished reading. The narcissistic insubordinate snake-in-the grass I had to share duties with talked about “The Secret.” My boss was so excited. It’s her favorite book. She went on and on about it. I’d never seen that SOB crack a book or ever heard him talk about any book ever! How did he know?

    And guess who got the job when our two positions were merged and guess who got the boot?

    (Not that I’m bitter)

    Sometimes you just have to CYA and go along to get along. If my current boss started that I would absolutely follow Alison’s advice.

    1. Florida*

      Oh geez, you shouldn’t have mentioned The Secret. That always derails the conversation on this board. The Secret and MBTI are two things that everyone around here loves to comment on.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I can only think of one time The Secret has come up (in that post about the office that believed strongly in it). But maybe if I can attract the memory into my life if I try to visualize it…

        1. Florida*

          You might be right. For some reason it seemed like more. It seems like sometimes someone mentions it, then we get off on its legitimacy (or lack of). I can’t remember for sure, maybe I’ll just go visualize some tacos. :)

        2. Artemesia*

          Reminds me of the time my daughter and I joked at bookstore in front of a pile of those books about how god really wants us to be rich only to turn and see a woman with 10 of them in her arms heading for check out.

    2. Kate M*

      Oh man. Sort of related, but I used to work at a camp when I was in college. We would have vespers (kind of a religious/spiritual time) every night. One summer the Camp Director decided that Thursday nights would be the nights at vespers that she would discuss how her little sister was killed when she was 5, which caused her father to go into a major depression (and some other inappropriate things that happened with him that I can’t remember at the moment), and then caused her parents to get a divorce after they ended up having another baby to replace the sister that died (her words). Somehow she thought it fit into the theme.

      After a couple of Thursday nights when the counselors had to comfort crying children all night because of the story, she was finally told that that might not be an appropriate thing to share with young campers.

      Some people just do not grasp what is appropriate to share in certain situations.

  40. Art_ticulate*

    Such brilliant trolling ideas in here. I’m putting all of them in my back pocket just in case.

    I’d be tempted to just repeat the same things every week, over and over, and see if they notice.

  41. CAA*

    Oh, I am so grateful my company doesn’t do this. I have one employee who freaked out over the “Goals” section of our performance review form a couple of years ago because that was too invasive. We straightened out the difference between personal and professional goals and all is ok now, but I cannot even imagine having a best/worst conversation with him.

  42. JMegan*

    Another possible conversation topic for you..

    Week 1: You know how wine can taste different depending on the kind of grapes, and the region, and the type of growing season, right? Well, did you know the same thing is also true of coffee? It’s true! Even the same type of coffee beans can taste different depending on how much rain the area received, so you can have a “good year” or a “bad year” for beans from a particular region, the same as you can with wine. Of course, you really have to drink your coffee black to really appreciate this…(then fill another two and a half minutes talking about coffee tasting in general.)

    Week 2: Did you know that my favourite coffee beans come from the Sumatra region? They have a little bit of a honey taste*, so they blah blah blah another three minutes about Sumatran coffee.

    Week 3: Now, my least favourite coffee is actually from Columbia. I KNOW, right? Everybody loves Columbian coffee! But let me tell you exactly why it’s my least favourite, in excruciating detail!

    *I have no idea if Sumatran beans have a honey taste or not, and I load up my coffee with cream so it doesn’t matter anyway. The point of this exercise is not to be factually accurate, but to bore your boss to tears in the hopes of ending it altogether! Unless you discover a mutual interest in the esoteric details of coffee growing, of course, in which case you’ll have to talk about goats or something instead. Good luck!

    1. Charlotte Collins*

      You can have the same conversation with chile peppers. :)

      I now want to lecture someone on the Scoville Scale.

  43. Anna*

    How could there not be an HR department with that many employees?

    Either way, I’d just start making up fake ones OR giving up the most phoniest of best and worsts.

  44. Cary*

    Just rolled my eyes so hard they popped out of my head. I’m trying really hard to imagine how the worst part would go . “Well I found out I have a STD that can make it impossible to conceive”. Kind of brings the check in to a halt.

  45. Mental Health Day*

    I’ve never been able to prove it definitively at any place I’ve worked, but it has always seemed to me that this forced touchy-feely crap is just a strategy by senior management to get people more emotionally invested in their jobs. This strategy costs them nothing (monetarily) and, thus, sounds great when you compare it to increasing salaries, building better IT infrastructure, improving work processes, giving out better bonuses or more PTO. All that stuff takes actual work and COSTS MONEY.

    Anecdote that I can finally laugh about:
    At one place I worked, it came down from on high that we were to have a “staff appreciation luncheon”. OK, great. Fully catered, right? Nope. Potluck provided completely by the staff (so we could appreciate each other, I guess). Leadership showed up, said some nice things for about 2 minutes, stuffed their faces, and went back to their offices. We also appreciated each other while we were cleaning up the whole thing. Fun times.

    TL;DR this is just a cheapskates’ strategy employed by ineffective leaders that generally backfires and usually causes more aggravation than anything. I say this as a person that enjoys socializing at work and meets many personal friends through work.

  46. Christine*

    OP — you know your boss, curious to know your answer to my question:

    “Is this his way of trying to find out if something in someone’s personal life affecting their performance? Or does he lack a filter of what is & what isn’t appropriate? I’m also wondering if upper management has said something about his interpersonal skills and this is his screwed up way of doing it?

    I do not agree with Mando’s saying you go soo wasted. Do not give him any ammunition to use against you? You can say the worse moment is this terrible story you heard on the news, or read; article you read about animal abuse; various news articles that were upsetting to you … as the worse moment. Best, sitting on the deck watching the humming birds. Nice breakfast with a friend …. some things that are relaxing but generic.

    Your role is to protect yourself. He sounds screwy, loose bolts between the ears.

    1. Alton*

      I got the impression that this is a new mandate from higher up, and that the boss is just going along with it out of perceived obligation. Since he’s proven himself to be uninterested in people’s personal lives, this might be hell is for him, too.

      1. Dvorak*

        I was wondering if anyone else had spotted it. I’ve been following both sites for a couple of years now and it’s somewhat surprising this hasn’t happened more often. Perhaps advice-shopping isn’t that common?

        1. GermanGirl*

          I’ve been wondering that, too.

          I guess the advantage of Stackexchage is that you get answers very quickly if you succeed in making the question title interesting enough. (If not, you’ll still get answers pretty soon if your question is intelligible.)

          The disadvantage is that you have to filter out the good answers from the bad ones yourself. Voting and the reputation score of the answerers can help with that. Also look at the comments, the commenters will often make you aware of any problems with a particular answer.

    1. Florida*

      Alison’s advice is better. This other column suggests it might be illegal, but that is incorrect. Unfortunately, stupidity is still legal in America (and every country that I know of).

      1. Dvorak*

        Keep in mind that that’s a Q&A site not a column. All users can weigh in and popular vote determines what’s on top. When a question attracts a lot of attention (usually for being bizarre) the most reasonable answers don’t always get that top spot, but Monica Cellio’s answer there has a similar take on the situation as Alison.

    2. OP*

      I did put it up on workplace stackexchange. I can’t remember if that was before I got a reply back from AAM or not. I was really curious what people thought about the policy though!

  47. OlympiasEpiriot*

    Not exactly the same thing, but this reminds me of a friend’s round-the-table, say-something funny-and-not-known-to-everyone-about-your coworker ‘ice breaker’. When I was being told, I started dreading what was going to come out because that could really go south fast, depending on how careful you were, or how sensitive the info the coworker might know/be unsubtle enough to share. In this case, my friend had gone through a HUGE career shift after getting out of the military and it was my friend’s boss who ‘shared’ “My direct report, who is an awesome teapot executive, is also a USMC sniper with 20 years of experience! I always remember this when discussing compensation.”

    These f*#%ing sharing things are really not fun.

  48. animaniactoo*

    Honestly, doing this would make me nuts – my boss is a venter, so I’m usually pretty up to date on her worst of the week anyway.

    But if I HAD to suffer through this, I’d treat it like the strengths/weaknesses section of my performance review. I’ll give you something that is true – but that will in no way give more ammo than you already have about me.

  49. hildi*

    I’m curious to know more about when you bring up the policies and then he says you’re being hostile. Just before that you indicated he himself doesn’t seem to believe in over-sharing at work. The first thing you said was that you re-orged and it’s your company’s new policy to do these one-on-ones. Makes me wonder if he’s just as pissed about the whole thing as you are, but doesn’t really know how to handle being pushed back against by his staff? Or maybe he’s tried to push back to his supervisors and they give him the same treatment? So his stress/anger about the whole thing unfortunately trickles down to you and he just closes off about it. It just doesn’t seem to me that someone that would espouse those beliefs (if your kid’s leg gets broken it shouldn’t affect your ability to do the job), would have such a dramatic change of heart and willingly embrace this forced sharing concept.

    So I agree with the others – just play the game with some benign comments until this blows over. Inititatives like this don’t really last all that long. I think they are pretty quickly exposed for how truly ridiculous they are, people stop doing them, or the powers that be come up with something “even better.” (!)

    Further, I don’t know that it really gains you anything by playing a sarcastic, nasty game with him (unless you are very clever and very charming and could easily pull that off). I think in the long run you do the both of you more favors to just be kind to him for being in what I’m guessing is a tough spot (to hate the directive, but have to carry it out). Good luck – I’d like to hear an update on this one!!

  50. Catabouda*

    In a previous job we got a new lead who read something that told them to do group exercises to build morale… so at a weekly staff meeting she introduced a topic, spoke on it for a very brief moment, then went around the room and asked everyone else to share.

    I have no idea which was worse – the guy who always replied “I am not interested in participating” who would then just stare at her while she tried to get him to join in, or the folks who were REALLY into it and blathered on forever.

  51. QMum*

    This sounds like a gross misinterpretation of what one-on-ones are supposed to be. Any one on one I’ve had consisted of brief discussions re: workload and bottlenecks , discussions/feedback on “how things are going” in terms of business objectives. The most personal thing was career goals or potential issues with clients or coworkers. Are you sure this what is going on company-wide? Or is your boss just taking advantage? It sounds like a very slippery slope of a policy – I find it hard to believe a company would do this without very strict guidelines as to what is to be discussed.

  52. Christine*

    Is this sharing of information a “new thing?” I gather they are trying to build bridges between management & staff; but I would so hate it. I can see information being misused; repeated, etc.

  53. Anja*

    One of my favourite boss moments of my professional career was an attempt at being social from a Partner at a Big4 accounting firm. Had our annual Christmas party and he sees me at a table having a drink or what-have-you. He pulls up the chair beside me, aims it at me, has a seat (I’m facing the table and he’s facing me), looks for a moment, and then proceeds with the most awkward conversation starting sentence I’ve come across: “so…your hair sure is…straight.” (I had straightened it for the Christmas party) I did not have a ready response for that opener.

    He then commented on it being less straight the next week in the office.

      1. Anja*

        I gave him credit for the effort. He really did try. And I will take awkward and genuine over faux friendliness and slick talk. I think of him much more fondly than the other Partner.

  54. Biscuits McGee*

    The irony is I would enjoy something close to this. I work for the evil mouse corporation and I never seen so many closed off people in my life. Everyone shuts their door at lunch and people ignore people in the hallways. And if you are not part of the “in” crowd, forget it. There are days I end up in tears just from loneliness. I suggested something like this to my boss when I started, just a morning pleasantry, not detailed life choices, my boss turned it into a daily work load meeting. When my boss went on vacation, she went to her son’s wedding, I had no idea he was engaged, let alone getting married. Hadn’t even a clue where the wedding was. It was kind of embarrassing when clients would ask, oh where did she go!? and I would be like, I haven’t a clue. I don’t know, I just kind of like small talk. One of the mean reasons I will leave the company is the loneliness and lack of any connection.

    1. Isabel C.*

      See, whereas that sounds kind of like my ideal. I like to read the Internet or work on my own projects (or meet non-work-related friends, location allowing) during lunch breaks, and at my last position, I vaguely kinda knew who was married and had kids but not much otherwise.

      I’m more open to workplace friends in future jobs, partly because I’m applying to a lot of places where I feel like we’d have more in common than being paid to be at Place for eight hours a day, but end of the day, I get my social interaction elsewhere. And it’s cool if other people do connect through work, or if I end up connecting, but places that try to force it…uuugh.

  55. East of Nowhere south of Lost*

    OMG, i would have a cardiac incident from the awkwardness. There would be many broken teapots if i had to share ‘moments’ with my manager. I don’t even tell people what i do on vacation.

  56. RVA Cat*

    Just crib them from pop culture – “can’t spare a square” could be worst *and* best….!

  57. VolunteercoordinatorinNOVA*

    This reminds me of the episode of the office (grief counseling) where Michael can’t deal with a death of his former manager so he forces everyone to share a story where they’ve lost someone. Pam and Ryan share stories from Million Dollar Baby and the Lion King as their own. So since this is such a ridiculous policy you should just tell him scenes from your favorites movies. For for Dirty Dancing (which is in my top 5), you could do

    best: landed an awesome dance move and had a great party
    worst: had to deal with an asshole of an waiter trying to hit on my sister

  58. Cat Boss Meme*

    My husband worked for the same company at the same location for about 8 years, then became a manager. Now he’s a boss over all his former co-workers, and therefore now privy to a lot of private things that push into work boundaries, like who is undergoing cancer treatments, who has been written up for things, who is not allowed to step on company property without security, really surprising stuff! Right after he became a manager, the company had a “holiday event’ at a bowling alley. Lame, I know, but the company couldn’t pay for booze and it seemed a better choice than a bar. My husband and the other managers are all about the same age, work together closely and get along with each other well, so the mangers and their wives all sort of chatted and socialized while the “young kids” bought themselves pitchers of beer, got hammered, and tried to bowl. At one point I was sitting alone at a table above the lane, watching my hubbie’s team bowl and cheer and his boss came up to me and started talking about “Yeah, the young kids can do this and that, and we’re the old timers.” So I said something like, “Oh, we’re still young, don’t worry about that,” to which he went on, “Yeah, look at X over there, he’s a a lazy punk who’s asleep on the job but one drink and he’s the life of the party!” Okaaaaay, a little weird.

    Then he goes on with Y is a lazy this, and Z is a smartazz and starts to share some really personal stuff with me about the employees, and I was just shocked! Did I say I was MRS manager – -I didn’t even work there! He wasn’t even drunk either, which might have explained a few things. Most of it I had never heard of before, so it wasn’t generally known office gossip or anything like that. Afterwards, I told my husband to NEVER share anything personal about our lives to this guy because you never know where it will end up.

    This personal best/worst scenario is a disaster waiting to happen!

  59. babblemouth*

    Goodness. My boos is a wonderful, empathetic, open-minded man, and I have no interest in sharing things like this with him in such a setting. At the lunch table, I might share the really nice stuff that happened, and rarely some of the worst (like “my roof is leaking, can anyone recommend a good company to fix it?), but the idea of having this mandatory? ugh.

  60. Critter*

    I wonder if maybe they want to do this kind of thing because we often spend so much more time around our coworkers than our own families? But still. Weird.

  61. Lauren*

    Personally, I would make up every horrible story I could possibly imagine so that they stop asking you to share. :D

    “My husband and I finally had sex on the kitchen table again after a hiatus of two weeks. Once we really got going, I orgasmed for at least 5 minutes. And as for the bad part, I found out that my stomach REALLY disagrees with McDonald’s quarter pounders. I can’t remember the last time lava flowed out of my body like that. But I guess that 5 pound weight loss is yet another victory. Can’t wait ’til next week!”

  62. paul*

    What an awful policy.

    We did a round robin once at a staff meeting where we had some new people and we were expected to tell something no one in the room knew about us.

    I’ve been here 9 years so mostly people know everything I’m OK with them knowing about my personal life. So I just lied and later brought it up with my immediate supervisor…

  63. stevenz*

    First red flag for me? Six minutes. Not five, not seven; six. That signals a couple of things to me. Aside from the rigidity, it makes it clear that it’s just an exercise, without any time for what may be a situation that warrants real attention. Stupid.

  64. george of the jungle*

    does anybody else find the ‘sponsored content’ videos that start automatically annoying?

  65. Jam Today*

    WHAT is the story with managers who insist that their employees have to expose their personal lives for public review? I get it at a vague level *if* it impacts work, but other than that it is stalkerish and creepy as hell. I’ve encountered this twice with male bosses (I am female) — both of which ended up with retaliation directed at me for insisting that my personal life is personal, and both of which also ended up with HR involved, with widely-differing outcomes for me.

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