how can I bounce back from disappointing my boss, I missed out on “one of the best minds of the 21st century,” and more

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

1. How can I bounce back from disappointing my boss?

I’ve been at my first post-college job for a little over a year. In this month’s check-in with my supervisor, I was called out hard for having let a couple of important tasks fall through the cracks. I don’t have any good reason — I just let myself get overwhelmed and didn’t ask for help. As a result, my non-core work responsibilities are being reduced until I can earn them back. My supervisor (who was only recently promoted to her role) has been my mentor since I began, and I feel absolutely horrible that I disappointed her and the department this way. Aside from working my tail off, what are some other tactics you suggest to bounce back from this and demonstrate my worth as an employee? I’ve been having anxiety and losing sleep over this whole situation, as throughout all my internships and other jobs, I’ve never, ever been someone who struggled or didn’t exceed expectations.

The best thing that you can do is what you’re already doing: work hard to show consistent reliability over time. Second, resolve that in the future you’ll proactively talk to your manager if you’re feeling overwhelmed and especially if you’re seeing that you’re not getting everything done (or if that’s in danger of happening). Many, many jobs have periods where you won’t be able to get everything done as quickly as you’re being asked to do it. That in and of itself isn’t usually a problem. What’s a problem — potentially a big problem — is if you don’t speak up about it. So resolve not to handle this the same way again in the future.

And third, work on getting comfortable with the idea that you’re going to have times that you struggle, and you’re definitely not going to exceed expectations on everything. That’s just the reality of professional work. If you were someone who has always excelled pretty easily until now, you’re going to have be deliberate about getting more comfortable with the idea that that rarely continues for anyone once they’re out of school, even if they were always the Smart One or some other type of golden child previously. That part of your life — where it all comes easily — usually ends once you leave school. That’s okay! But you’ll be much happier if you get okay with it being okay.

2. Rejected candidate told me I’d missed out on “one of the best minds of the 21st century”

I work at a university, and opened up two job slots for student workers (not work-study, but out of my budget). In four hours, I received almost 150 applications. After going through literally every application and then sending follow-up questions to my top few, I finally interviewed four and hired two students. They’ve been at work for a week now, and seem to be doing great so far.

The problem is that I’ve gotten more than one nasty response from students for not hiring them that are so far out-of-line it’s ridiculous. I really want to use this as a teaching moment somehow, but (1) don’t know how to respond to the crazy, and (2) am not 100% sure I should.

As an example, here’s a response that did not contain any swears or mentions of my obviously dubious parentage (those I’m just straight up ignoring, because going there will only bring me trouble): “It’s your loss not mine. I regret to inform you that you have missed an opportunity to work with one of the best minds of the 21st century.”

Thoughts? Advice? Am I better off just continuing to ignore these responses, or, since they are students at my university, should I address the issue with them? Right now I’m leaning towards no, but I honestly keep rethinking it.

One of the best minds of the 21st century! Amazing, and such a shame you missed the opportunity. And, uh, that person is weirdly sure of themselves.

In general, I don’t think there’s a lot to be gained by replying to rude responses to rejections, although it can at times be satisfying to send a dry, fact-based response (“we received 150 applications and interviewed the applicants with the strongest qualifications”). But these are students and this is an on-campus job, so while you don’t have to invest the time, it would be a particular service to them if you decided to.

(Frankly, you might also consider replying to the profane or insulting ones and saying something like, “I would recommend not sending abusive messages to potential on-campus employers if you hope to apply for on-campus work in the future.”)

3. What do companies mean when they ask for“strong written communication skills”?

I am in the process of job searching and it seems like most companies are looking for candidates that possess strong written communication skills. What exactly do they mean? I am not looking for any job that is dependent on writing (like a marketing writer), so what ability level are they looking for?

If you see that in an ad for a job that isn’t heavily writing-focused, it generally means that you need to write in a way that’s clear, reasonably concise, and gets your point across effectively and without spelling or serious grammatical errors. It means that your writing isn’t going to embarrass the company when you’re writing to clients, and it’s not going to cause confusion or necessitate a bunch of back and forth because your meaning isn’t clear. And it means that you get your tone in writing more or less correct — you sound professional, reasonably friendly, and not cold or abrasive.

4. Asking about a wedding shower at work

My fiance and I are getting married at the end of the month (we’re both men), and as the date gets closer we are both wondering if either of our offices have plans to throw a wedding shower for us. I’ve been at my job for almost a year and my coworkers have been asking me about the wedding for months. I know wedding showers are a common practice in both our offices, as we have both participated in others’ wedding showers since starting our jobs, but those have been for people in heterosexual marriages.

We aren’t interested in gifts so much as we want to feel equally celebrated by our coworkers. I’m worried that we’ll hold out hope for surprise parties (which happened recently at my office), and then after the wedding we’ll resent the next office wedding shower that we’re invited to or asked to contribute to. Is there a discreet way to ask about this?

Do you know who’s most often been in charge of planning past showers? Talk to that person and say something like, “I don’t want to presume, but I know we’ve done showers for employees in the past who were getting married. My wedding is next month, so I wanted to check with you about what makes sense as far as planning.”

You should hopefully get an enthusiastic indication that something is being planned or at least is going to be planned now that you’ve reminded them.

5. What verb tense should your resume use for your current job?

Obviously past jobs on a resume would be written in past tense. What about your current job? Do you think it matters if it’s written in present or past tense?

You should use present tense for your current job if you’re talking about ongoing responsibilities, and past tense if you’re talking about specific things you’ve achieved that you’re not still doing.

In other words, if you’re talking about winning the International Rice Sculpture Tournament last year, that’s clearly in the past and it would be weird to put it in present tense. But if you’re talking about your ongoing responsibility for training new rice sculptors, that goes in present tense because you still do it. So:

* Won the 2015 International Rice Sculpture Tournament
* Train all rice sculpting apprentices, with consistently positive feedback from apprentices and management

{ 468 comments… read them below }

    1. Big10Professor*

      I just hired some student workers, and the number of annoying follow-ups after I received applications was astounding. I can’t figure out if they just don’t think a student job follows professional norms, or if they really think they are getting an edge up by stopping by my office and otherwise reminding me of their interest.

      1. Artemesia*

        I think the average student would think (and be told by his or her parents, other adult role models etc) that ‘following up’ to ‘show interest’ would be a good thing. And I bet more students who do that get hired than don’t. Yes it is annoying — but not in the category of sending pissy emails or castigating you for missing out on a great mind.

        1. Anon Accountant*

          Absolutely. Many probably have been told “if you don’t show them your interest or tell them how interested you are they’ll think you don’t want the job”. Completely agree sending nasty emails isn’t right.

        2. Brogrammer*

          My parents were like this when I was in college. Even at the time, I knew it was bad advice, but I did it anyway because it made the bimonthly calls where they raked me over the coals for “not trying hard enough to find a job” go a little easier.

      2. Rusty Shackelford*

        I recently read a social media post about how to get a job. I don’t know who wrote it, or how old they were, but step 1 was to turn in an application, and step 2 was to contact the employer and ask if they’d received it, and tell them how interested you were, because this would “force them to review your application.” No telling how many impressionable youngsters read that and decided it was good advice.

        1. Whats In A Name*

          I did not read this article but have heard this advice handed out like candy at a Halloween carnival for years.

          1. Kelly L.*


            There was this idea that they were all kept in a stack of paper, and you were supposed to call and get them to pull yours out of the stack (by asking them to check that they received it), and then it’d be on top and they’d have to look at it.

            But whether they were in a stack of paper in the old days or not, they’re not likely to be stored that way now. And a lot of times, the person you’re bugging isn’t even the decision maker. I’m experiencing a lot of that right now as my department hires some students. Somebody’s still telling them to do this–the students’ “technique” is so identical that I’m sure they’re getting it from somewhere.

          2. C Average*

            Ugh. Yes.

            I wonder what percentage of applications actually don’t make it to their intended recipient? I’m guessing it happens about as often as things getting “lost in the mail.”

            1. Newby*

              Sadly, things get lost in the mail in some places disturbingly often (I keep receiving things months late but with the correct post date). A lot of on-line applications now have an automated “We received your application” e-mail which I think is great.

          3. Stonkle*

            I still get told to go down to the employer’s office in person and ask to speak to someone about my application. Cringe.

            The only time I follow up regarding my application is when I haven’t heard back from a temporary staffing agency, and that’s because they specifically ask their pool of candidates to do so.

        2. Koko*

          The one place this actually makes sense is usually retail/food service jobs. It’s an environment where hiring is often low priority, there;s always a big stack of applications, and most applicants are essentially indistinguishable from each other. Being the one applicant who comes in during a slow time and asks for information increases the likelihood that a manager who has been feeling too busy to sit down and look at applications lately will say, “Oh, sure, I might as well interview you now while you’re here.”

          1. Erika*

            As someone who works in hospitality (often lumped in with food service), I disagree. We’re often so busy that people who call to “check on” their application immediately get a red flag (worse if they come in or ask to speak with me while filling out their application). I budget time for that and I’m sure I’m not the only one, and I certainly don’t want to interview someone just because they’re physically in front of me.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              I don’t know about now, but they did this a lot when I was in food service (if I went in during a slow time). I never filled out an application without being totally ready to be interviewed on the spot, because it did happen.

              The last time I filled out a food service app, however, the company came to the career center and just gathered them up. We were supposed to receive a call if they wanted to talk to us. I did not, but I wasn’t disappointed.

              1. Fire*

                I think “during a slow time” is key here. I work in food service, and we don’t mind if someone comes by/calls to follow up, but people follow up during the lunch rush A LOT and they pretty much get struck from consideration, even though we’re usually understaffed. No, the manager can’t speak to you about your application right now, she’s on the line making sandwiches while there’s a line out the door and the delivery board is full.

              2. Christopher Tracy*

                Yup. My younger brother got every one of his food service jobs in high school and college by walking in on a slow day or at a slow time, filling out an app, and interviewing on the spot. He even got hired at Sears doing that and ended up selling tools and then auto supplies.

      3. The Other Dawn*

        “I can’t figure out if they just don’t think a student job follows professional norms…”

        My guess is students applying for student jobs don’t yet know professional norms, hence the annoying follow-ups. Or bad advice from parents, friends or career centers.

      4. INTP*

        I’m not sure how much the advice has changed in 5 years, but when I was a new college graduate, everywhere I looked I was told to follow up follow up follow up, they will miss your application otherwise, etc. My parents, the career office, articles (written by freelance writers with little actual experience in a hiring environment), etc. Following up felt annoying and pointless to me on an instinctive level, but I did it because I was made to believe I was a slacker or too passive if I skipped out on following up just because it felt wrong.

        1. Oryx*

          Yup. I still regret following up on a certain application because I’m sure it caused them to not want to interview me.

        2. Cat Steals Keyboard*

          I don’t get it. Do they think recruiters just don’t read any of the applications they get ever?

      5. TMosby*

        where on earth do you think a 20 year old is learning professional norms? if the answer isn’t “in my class” it’s nowhere.

        1. Anna*

          Here’s the thing, though. So much of the OP’s responses are so outside of normal person interactions, much less professional norms. Who on earth in school thinks it’s okay to curse out the teacher when they don’t get a part in a play? It baffles me that any of these student would think this is okay interpersonal interactions let alone how to move forward in a professional way.

        2. Neither Here Nor There*

          I’m still shocked at the general lack of work experience of young people. Not because they should all be seasoned pros by 20, but for cultural reasons. I’m 38, so not really a dinosaur yet. I got my first job as a fast food cashier part time at 15. A different job at 16. Another at 17, 18, etc. Worked through every school break, some in an office answering phones, some stocking shelves, some retail customer-facing. (And no, it wasn’t anywhere near enough to pay for school, this isn’t that sort of rant.)

          But when I talk with my same-age, same-socioeconomic-status friends, I am *literally* the only person in the group who had a job, any sort of job, before college graduation. In fact none of them had a job before they left grad school (no grad school for me). And this is so weird to me; I somehow had it ingrained in me that you got a job the instant you were allowed, because you *could*. Sort of a rite of passage thing. It’s just a little shocking to me that someone could get to 20, or in my friends’ cases 24-26 without screwing up a few burger-flipping interviews already. I’m sure there is a good reason for it–the economy tanking, more competition for college requiring more extracurriculars, etc.–but it just seems like such a shame.

          1. Kelly L.*

            It’s harder to get those burger-flipping jobs as a teen now. Like you said, the economy was bad for quite a while, and adults took a lot of those jobs.

            1. Sofia*

              I never worked in high school, but I did work in college. I graduated high school in 2007 to give you an idea. My parents immigrated to the US and neither graduated college (although both started) so they told me my job was to focus on my grades. I never really had summers off during high school because I was part of a pre-collegiate program so we had to take summer classes, but they ended up giving me a scholarship to college so it was worth it in my opinion. My summer between senior year of high school and freshman year of college I traveled to my parent’s home country.

              I got a job my freshman year of college though working retail and my father’s sisters (who still live in their home country) asked him if my family was struggling and if that’s the reason I started working!

          2. Drew*

            I didn’t work in high school because I was too busy with extracurriculars and homework (usually in that order), but the summer after my freshman year of college, my mom told me she had a job lined up back home if I didn’t find one in my university town.

            I didn’t. She did. It sucked. And I did it twice, because I didn’t believe she would make me do that a second year and slacked off my job hunt. She would. Third year, you better believe I made finding a job a priority, and even at that I lucked into the fantastic on-campus job I kept through and even past graduation.

            We won’t discuss the one summer I wasn’t in class and decided to take a *second* job in the food delivery industry. Or how I ghosted that job after having been there for three months when the owner referred to me as “old timer.”

    2. kbeersosu*

      Side note on this…I work in a campus conduct office, and this is likely a violation of your university’s student code of conduct. If any of the emails were particularly awful, I would find out if you could refer them for a meeting with the campus conduct officer. I also recommend this, because these kinds of responses are usually not a one-and-done kind of deal…it they’re being this rude to you, imagine how they react when they get a poor grade in class, don’t like their roommate, etc. It helps the campus as a whole keep an eye out for concerning patterns of behavior.

      1. Liz*

        Seconded. I’d also mention it to the campus career office, because there’s a good chance at least some of those students were either referred through that office or made use of their services. If nothing else, they can use these emails as examples of “How not to talk to prospective employers”, especially as they have now scuppered their chances of being considered for any future roles in your department or unit. (Something else those students probably did not consider.)

        1. Stranger than fiction*

          Ha, I just had this vision where the college career counselors all had a “wall of shame” in their offices or cubicles with these kinds of emails hanging up (names blacked out for privacy of course).

          1. Elizabeth West*

            I know literary agents talk about receiving rude responses to query rejections (many of which are as hilarious as the one in the letter). Some even post them (names redacted) as examples of how not to query. And they do talk to each other.

            I imagine it’s the same on a college campus. It’s a closed system, and if you blast one on-campus employer, the rest WILL hear about it.

            1. Red*

              I’m so paranoid about this that I get a bit verklempt when I bump an aging query I’ve had out to an agent and then they tweet soon after about someone being rude. It’s hard to imagine someone going full aggro to a no/no or a rejection, but I know it happens.

              1. Fact & Fiction*

                My agent tells stories about being followed into the restrooms at conferences and having manuscripts shoved under stall doors. Sadly she is serious, even if the mental image makes ne grin.

        2. Ultraviolet*

          I agree–at schools I’ve attended, it would be likely that a lot of those students found the job posting through a site controlled by the career center. It’s possible that the career center would restrict the abusive students’ access to that list until they come in for a conversation or something. Or maybe OP won’t be the first person to complain about students doing this, and the center will take some steps to prevent it happening again.

          I have no sense of what the student conduct office would do, though I think it’s reasonable to contact them.

          As for missing out on one of the best minds of the 21st century, I guess OP will just have to take comfort in having gotten a personal email from them. Think of all the people who won’t even get that.

        3. Newby*

          That would be very helpful. The career office is supposed to be giving this type of advice to students, so they need to know that some students are seriously messing up in “how to accept rejection”.

          1. TMosby*

            honestly these people don’t need advice, they need swift kicks in the ass. 18 is old enough for the vast majority of the population to know that emailing someone who rejected you for a job to insult them is just not ok in any way. They’re doing it counting on 0 consequences.

      2. Anon Accountant*

        I like this. They need to learn to not do this or it’s going to hurt their careers and job searches.

      3. Newby*

        I agree. I used to be a student that worked with the student conduct office and most people were just given a warning and told how exactly their behavior was unacceptable, so you don’t need to worry that reporting it will be damaging for the students. The only time that the actual sanctions would come into play is if there was a pattern of this behavior and warnings had not worked.

      4. Lemon Zinger*

        I work in higher ed. This is a great suggestion, and I hope OP follows your advice. Please make things easier for the rest of us, and try to nip this in the bud!

      5. Blue_eyes*

        Exactly. Depending on the university structure, you might be able to contact their advisor or class dean (I don’t think my college had a conduct officer). Either way, swearing at a university employee (in email no less, so there’s no deniability) is almost certainly a violation of the code of conduct.

    3. Vin Packer*

      Yeah, I actually think Mr. Beautiful Mind is probably *less* redeemable than the people who just sent swears, not more.

      College students are used to extremely negative, sweary feelings circulating electronically–they’ve grown up with it as a fact of the Internet, and, remember, if they’re publicly active on social media or elsewhere, they’re often on the receiving end of such things too. A reply from a real person like Alison suggested to remind them that the work world is different might not be a totally wasted effort.

      1. Koko*

        This, and it’s not just college students.

        I’ve worked for organizations serving all kinds of populations, and all of them got abusive messages from constituents and supporters who didn’t like things we had done. But you might be surprised how often when you write a kind response back to them apologizing and providing more information about why you did it (if you stand by it) or how you’re going to make sure it doesn’t happen again (if you don’t), the previously vitriolic person will reply back and essentially say, “I’m sorry, I didn’t think anyone was really reading these replies, I was having a really bad day, thanks for your response.”

        People forget that the things they write on the internet are being read by a real person, and when you remind them they often soften their tone.

        1. C Average*

          It’s true.

          When I worked in social media, my boss called me the Troll Whisperer, because I could often achieve a sort of detente with our worst repeat offenders. Often, all I was really doing was sending them an email that basically said, “Hey, that thing you said was mean and uncalled for. It also violates our terms and conditions. I’m a real person and I read what you wrote. Other real people did, too. We work hard to keep our community collegial. Please maintain that tone when you visit. If you can’t, please don’t visit again.”

            1. Jules the First*

              It does! I once told a customer she’d get more flies with honey than vinegar and (after a shocked silence) she apologised for getting angry with me. She sent flowers to me too (shame they arrived at a different office…I did get pictures, though!)

            2. Elizabeth West*

              It does–I’ve done it myself on the phone. An angry customer called once at Exjob, and he was yelling so much I couldn’t even ask him who he needed to talk to. Finally, I said as politely as I could, “Sir, I cannot help you when you are yelling at me. If you continue, I’m going to hang up and you can call me back later when you’ve calmed down.” He backpedaled immediately, apologized, and I got him to the right person.

              1. Adlib*

                I have used this before lots of times at a different job. Sometimes I guess they have to get it out of their system, who knows.

            3. Marty Gentillon*

              Especially when you add a good dose of understanding. I usually find something like the following script effective: “sir, I understand that you are upset, and regret that you had a bad experience.” If they are sill upset, continue with: “I want to help you, but can’t do that while you are yelling at me… If you can’t do that, I am going to hang up, and you can call me back after you have calmed down.” Usually, you won’t need to get to the hanging up part.

    4. Mallory Janis Ian*

      When I read the title of the post this morning, I thought that maybe someone had missed out on an opportunity to report directly to Steve Jobs.

        1. Golden Lioness*

          I would be tempted to borrow and modify Peter Gibbons line and say “I wouldn’t say i ‘missed it’, Brilliant Mind of the 21st Century”

      1. Cristina*

        It sounded like a line straight out of Big Bang Theory to me. Are we sure this person isn’t channeling Sheldon?

        1. Anne (with an "e")*

          +100 I totally thought this student was was making a reference to Sheldon. That was my very first thought, in fact. Maybe the student meant the comment to be a joke.

  1. Engineer Girl*

    #1 – When you are in school you are usually given problems with a clear achievable answer. The real world isn’t that neat. You may get a problem that doesn’t have an answer (yet). You may get an unsolvable problem and your job is to take it as far as you can. You may get multiple competing problems and be forced to triage.
    In short, real life problems don’t always have exceeds expectations results.

    1. Tuckerman*

      I agree that professional positions often involve more complex problem solving than paraprofessional or retail/food service work. And I think your observation about real life problems not always having “exceeds expectations” results is spot on. But to be fair to OP, this is her first post-college job, not necessarily her first job. She might have quite a bit of work experience. Also, lots of areas of study require working through problems that don’t have clear achievable answers. Political science, public health, and social work are some fields that come to mind.

    2. C Average*

      Peripherally related to #1, and possibly helpful to the LW and others.

      For a long time, I tried to find some kind of equivalency between work feedback (especially ratings and evaluations) and grades in school. I remember talking to colleagues over beers after we’ve received our ratings:

      “So a ‘meets expectations’ is basically a C, right? It means you’re average. Not great, but not horrible.”

      “No, that can’t be, because literally one person in the whole department gets ‘exceeds expectations.’ You have to be stupid amazing to get ‘exceeds expectations.’ It can’t be that the whole department is a bunch of C students, with one A student.”

      “So ‘meets expectations’ is more like a B?”

      “I’m not sure. Maybe.”

      But I think, looking back, there’s nothing in school to prepare you for work. In school, the scenario you WANT is to get a paper back with a big red 100% on top and no comments. That means yay you, you did perfectly. In all my years in the corporate world, I can recall getting that reaction–yay you, you did perfectly–exactly once. The work world just doesn’t issue 100% marks pretty much ever. There are a lot of Bs and Cs, which mean you’re more or less adequate and have some things you could stand to work on.

      It doesn’t mean you suck. It just means there are some nuances to the job that you need to be coached on in order to master. There’s a woman at my old company who has won numerous awards and is one of the rare folks to be more or less acclaimed a rock star. She’s not even 30, and she’s a global director. She works hard, she is smart, and she deserves to be a global director. Her first supervisor at that company? Me. Did I have constructive feedback for her? Yes. And she not only didn’t resent it, she welcomed it. She liked learning about the things she needed to work on. It helped her get better.

      1. Clever Name*

        Totally this. I still struggle with not seeing “meets expectations” as a “C”. And you can bet I printed out an email with a client comment that read, “The report was concise, accurate, and well-written”. Another coworker printed a copy of a letter they got from the governor about a report they had written, and the governor was commending it. My coworker put “A+” in red at the top. :)

      2. Coffee Ninja*

        Thank you for this!! I have struggled with the whole “meets/exceeds expectations” thing my entire working career so far (a little over 10 years). I think you laid it out really well, and it eases the crazy a little bit. I’m going to save it for future reference, especially around review time!

      3. Whats In A Name*

        One time the company President used red pen to mark up a report I did for him, at the top he wrote “almost got it!”. I kept it posted on my bulletin board as a reminder and was sure to double-check for the same type of mistakes when submitting in the future. Went a long way for my responsibilities in that company.

  2. DEJ*

    #1, I could have written your letter about a year ago. Got overwhelmed because I was trying to be perfect or improve on things vs. just getting them done sometimes, disappointed a great boss and mentor, demoted, the whole thing. It was horribly embarrassing to talk about. I just recently regained the responsibilities that I lost and was re-promoted back into my previous role.

    You’re doing everything right. I really don’t have anything to add to Allison’s advise. I just want you to know that it is possible to bounce back from things. Don’t focus on what you did (except to learn from it) and focus on what you can do going forward.

    1. Good_Intentions*


      I’m not the OP, but I really appreciate your great advice.

      With difficult work situations, I have found through trial and error that it’s best to learn from your mistakes and use that knowledge to improve future performance. Reliving the past,performing anxiety, and worrying about previous disappointments will not serve you, your boss, your mentors, your co-workers, or your workplace well at all.

      Again, I really benefited from reading your comment.

      Congrats on working through your workplace issues and regaining your previous role with full responsibilities.

    2. FiveWheels*

      I’ll add one thing – don’t try to kill yourself being The Best Worker Ever to make up for things. It’s not sustainable and it doesn’t address the core issue.

      I speak from experience – working 9am to 10pm to catch up us just unsustainable. I have been teaching myself to say “sorry, don’t have time – here’s my to do list today, let me know if you want me to drop something” and it’s helped immensely.

      1. Koko*

        Yes! Expectation management is a big deal. If you say yes to everything and break your back trying to get it all done, you will almost undoubtedly get no more credit/respect than if you had said no to some things. People don’t see or notice that you’re working 50 hour weeks and executing 95% of your work flawlessly – but they notice if the 5% you screw up is their project.

        And they would have probably been a lot more understanding of simply being told unfortunately you can’t deliver X than to have been led to believe you could do it and then suddenly have the rug pulled out from under them just when they’re expecting to take delivery of the product. An early ‘no’ gives them time to figure out how to proceed without X, to readjust the timeline, or to cancel the now-impossible project before investments have been sunk into it.

        1. Jen S. 2.0*

          This is fantastic advice. It’s not wrong or rude or bad to say no, or to admit that you can’t do something, or to ask for help. I would rather know early on not to expect something instead of expecting it until the last minute and getting unpleasantly surprised.

    3. Stranger than fiction*

      I’m a couple decades into my career and occasionally mistakes happen. Because we’re human. No additional advice except it just takes time. I tend to obsess on it for a few days (in rare cases maybe a couple weeks) and then it just passes. The great thing here is that Ops boss brought it to her attention. A bad manager may not bother and just be resentful towards their employee.

    4. Garrett*

      My personal story. A couple of years into my currents job, I messed up bad. Cost the company thousands of dollars and delayed some shipments because of a careless error I made. I probably should’ve been fired, but they didn’t. Dark days for me. I was crying at times worried I would get sacked. And I know I disappointed my boss and lost a lot of capital at the company. But, I got my stuff together and slowly I have gotten back on everyone’s good side and things are pretty good now. It takes time, but it can be done. Good luck!

  3. Editor in Academia*

    #2. Re: the rejected candidates who became rude … would it make sense to alert the administrators who help to shape these students? Maybe the university’s Career Counseling office (or the dean of students) would like to know that that their students are self-harming this way, AND are reflecting poorly on the school. –Would they do anything useful with this data? I’m curious to hear views from anyone who works with students. (OP considered investing time in giving direct feedback, but that’s a lot of unpaid emotional labor on OP’s part… even IF the candidates are then grateful, rather than defensive.)

    1. Yup*

      I wouldn’t advise this. First, the Dean is unlikely to become involved over something so minor, and the counseling office as well, plus, it doesn’t reflect badly on the school inasmuch as it’s an internal application.

      OP, if you’re faculty, you’d certainly have standing to send a brief response along the lines that Alison suggested or briefer – eg, “profanity is not one of the job requirements and will never appeal to any employer;” I’m snarky like that.

      But you don’t owe rude students a “teachable moment,” and it might be more hassle than it’s worth (back-and-forth exchanges, etc). The same is true if you’re not faculty, of course, except that then there’s even less reward or duty in advising them of their asinine behavior. Do what’s easiest for you, and if that means letting it go, then do.

      1. Newish Reader*

        At the university I work at, the student conduct office would want to know about the most egregious of these cases. This type of bahavior toward university employees is unacceptable. And these students most likely also act this way in public, giving the university a bad reputation.

        We have also seen a recent uptick in poor behavior to others by some students and have increased efforts to overall teach our students what it means to be a responsible member of the campus and greater communities. So we are less tolerant of kids being kids.

        1. Yup*

          Of course it’s unacceptable. It’s not like the students acting this way don’t know that – they’re not sending insults across the internet because they believe etiquette requires it.

          >> And these students most likely also act this way in public, giving the university a bad reputation.
          I don’t think we can know that. Words across a screen are far easier sent than in an interpersonal exchange.

          But, really, the point to consider is: how likely is the administration to get involved? This varies tremendously by institution. And how much effort does OP want to expend in carrying out these procedures? If OP decides to let it go, that doesn’t mean condoning the behavior. It just means s/he needn’t feel responsible for giving them a “teachable moment.” Those are different things.

          1. Coffee Ninja*

            Of course it’s unacceptable. It’s not like the students acting this way don’t know that

            There’s a good chance it doesn’t compute. I work with graduate-level students in my current job, and I’ve had two students (in one month) forge required documents – *forge!* – and when I called them out on it, their reactions were basically, “ok, so what do you want me to do about it?”

            Since it seems OP isn’t dealing with an isolated case or two, pointing the trend out to the appropriate part(y)(ies) at her school would be a good thing to do.

          2. smthing*

            Very likely, if the responses are abusive. I worked at a large state school and the Dean of Students took things like this seriously. A first offense would likely get them nothing more than a long conversation about appropriate conduct (which is what they really need) and probably an apology email to the OP. They would only get in serious trouble if the behavior repeated itself.

            The “greatest mind of the 21st century” line wouldn’t warrant referral, but the messages with swearing and and insults about parentage might. The OP can also contact the Dean of Students Office with general questions about what conduct they would like reported to them.

        2. Whats In A Name*

          You know, I still don’t think Dean of Students but I do think you have a great point here about the Student Conduct Office for the most outrageous (which it sounds like there were some not suitable for her to share based on letter).

        3. Dot Warner*

          It depends a lot on the culture at OP’s school. I attended a huge state university (25,000+ students) where most administrators receiving these complaints would’ve said, “Ain’t nobody got time for that!” If, on the other hand, OP is at a smaller university, this might be worth pursuing.

          1. Kimberlee, Esq*

            Yeah, I went to a very small college and the Dean of Students would definitely have acted on this (he probably would have gone to the career counseling office and asked them to adjust their trainings/add seminars/etc).

          2. Liz*

            I work at a large university too, and I can assure you that people here would want to know, even if unofficially.

          3. irritable vowel*

            I work at a large university, one that prides itself on its connections with local employers who hire students after graduation, and I think the career office would definitely be interested to hear that some current students needed to have better training about how to conduct themselves with potential employers. If even just a few students are responding to outside employers in this way, that’s potentially very damaging to the reputation of the university with these companies, and beyond. (“Oh, we used to hire graduates of Big State U all the time, but we started noticing some of them were so incredibly rude and inappropriate with our hiring managers, we stopped. Not sure what’s going on there but their caliber of students seems to be really going downhill.”)

          4. March*

            In the program at my university, we were required to complete a certain number of work terms in order to graduate. The administrators of the co-op program would have been very interested to hear of such egregious behaviour from their students – they wanted students to be successful, and I know of cases where the employer treated students so poorly that the administrators gave the students allowance to leave the work term with no repercussions on their records. By the same token, they’d have wanted to hear feedback on poor student behaviour, such as emailing an employer and using such abusive or awful language. They want students to get jobs and they want employers to hire more students. If students and/or employers are bad, they’ll want to get involved and resolve the issue, whether it’s talking to the student about not writing “you have missed an opportunity to work with one of the best minds of the 21st century” (?!?) or talking to an employer about students having super long work days and not being compensated fairly.

            If I was OP 2, I’d definitely pass along the situation to a career center.

          5. sarah*

            I agree — at the university where I had my first job, it would have been seen as ridiculous to report this to anyone other than as water cooler gossip. :) But at my current university, every single student has a specific dean assigned to them and a ton of student support services — I can guarantee they would both want to know this information and would follow up (they literally follow up with students who miss too much class!) So, I’d say it’s worth thinking about the culture at your specific school, and if it seems like there are people who are available and interested in following up with students about things like this, let them know.

      2. Emma*

        I would expect the careers service or dean of students to be involved, but not too receive a list of names and be told “these students need dealing with”; rather to be told “many students in programme/department x have done this, it may be time for a lecture on professional conduct”.

        Certainly that’s what happened when students at my undergrad university – most of the students on my programme, not including me – decided to complain to an administrator about a course by all emailing her the exact same email at the same time, thereby completely clogging her inbox and forcing her to spend several hours deleting page after page of identical emails.

        1. Chocolate lover*

          At the university where I work, students are not required to meet with Career Services, or have anything to do with them. Career Services would have no standing to contact students for those kinds of conversations. Programs handle issues with students themselves, no one ever contacts Career Services to be some kind of punisher. They may contact them to do general presentations about services.

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            Yeah, our career services department is concerned with getting as many students as possible to be aware of and use their services. They emphatically would not want to reduce that possibility by becoming known as punishers or enforcers. They might counsel a student who was already working with them, but they are not going to proactively reach out to chastise any student.

    2. Marzipan*

      #2 is interesting to me because I hire students and haven’t ever had anything like the level of vitriol described here. I’ve had a few people who argued (at length) that having been a student at the institution for a really long time ought automatically to qualify them, irrespective of the fact that other people submitted stronger applications. So, I suppose “one of the best minds of the 21st century” doesn’t entirely surprise me – I think it sticks out because it’s unintentionally funny rather than particularly awful. To this one, I would probably respond something to the effect that “We shortlist based on how well applicants have demonstrated that they meet the Person Specification for the role” and a link to resources about putting together strong applications. (I would probably overcome the temptation to point out that being one of the best minds of the 21st century wasn’t on the person spec. But only just.)

      No, what surprises me is that you’re getting swearing and insults – I’ve never experienced anything along those lines and would be seriously irritated by it. Depending on my level of irritation, I would actually consider invoking my institution’s disciplinary policies in relation to conduct and IT usage (albeit at a very low level – the end result, basically, would probably be that someone would call them in to establish that they understand This Is Not A Thing We Do, and warn them not to do it again). It’s not that I’m personally bothered by being sworn at – I used to work with homeless teenagers! – but it’s not something you can go through life doing without consequence. I certainly wouldn’t expect my team members to come to work to be insulted and sworn at, and I don’t believe my manager would expect me to tolerate it either.

      One thing we do to overcome the general inexperience of our student applicants is to include a letter in the application pack which sets out, basically, how to apply and what we’ll be shortlisting based on. (Like, “We will shortlist based on the Person Specification, so you should pay particular attention to this when applying, and ensure that your application shows how you meet the criteria described”.) We’ve had much stronger applications since doing this.

      1. Artemesia*

        I also never had an abusive response in similar settings (except a few time hiring faculty actually for non-tenure track positions. These were full time, full benefit positions and I did get a few loons who protested not being hired) But never had a student behave like this. Did have a student who clearly though the sun shined out of his whatsis and whose FATHER lectured us at freshman parent weekend about how we would be well advised to listen to his son’s advice about the program as he was so much smarter and wiser than the assembled PhDs who ran it. I am sure many a student over the years was smarter than I am — I would hope so — but it was a little early to be laying claim to superiority two months into his first year.

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          I had the spouse of a tenure-track applicant call up and try to grill me about the spouse’s application and what was taking so long and could we please hurry because they were financially desperate. This was in 2008 and architects were desperately turning to academia to grasp at jobs. We would normally get about 30 – 40 applicants for a tenure-track position, and we had received almost 200 applications, so it was taking way longer to sort through them all.

      2. Gaia*

        I don’t hire students but I do hire people. In a recent hiring process I had someone follow up and ask for an interview. When we declined to interview her she decided to spew all kinds of vitriol and ugly language at me. So, suffice to say, glad I didn’t spend my time interviewing someone so obviously outside of professional norms.

      3. De Minimis*

        We hire a lot of students, and in our case we really don’t like hiring students who have been there a long time [people who are about to graduate] because we know they will be a short-term employee. The ideal student worker is usually a sophomore [or sometimes a freshman] because a lot of times we’ll get at least 2-3 years. We routinely have students stick around for their entire college career and that is always what we aim for.

        I’m about to send out a round of e-mail rejections for student positions for the first time, so we’ll see what I end up with.

    3. Daisy*

      I really think she should report them (not the finest mind of the twenty-first century), to whatever disciplinary body they use (or to their personal tutor, if she can find out who.) I’m pretty shocked that most people think this is ‘minor’ and she should ‘let it go’, and are only talking about taking it further as a ‘teaching moment’. Swearing at staff would have got you some pretty serious disciplinary measures at my uni. Though I realize US universities have gone even further down the ‘student-as-customer-the-customer-is-King’ road, so maybe I’m the one being unrealistic about anything happening to them.

      1. blackcat*

        Yeah. If this was an outside employer, I’d let it go.

        In this case, this is an office at the University where these students are enrolled. I’d compile the nasty ones (the profane ones, not the rude ones) and send them to the dean of students/the dean’s admin and ask what can be done because you have noticed X pattern. What would *they* like you to do going forward? Is this a discipline-worthy offense at your institution?

        Cursing at staff and being abusive would not necessarily get a student punished at the university where I’m at (suspension & expulsion are the only real punishments, and things have to be serious to get there). BUT if the student had another disciplinary problem, having this sort of behavior on file would contribute to the punishment for another infraction.

      2. Yup*

        >> I’m pretty shocked that most people think this is ‘minor’ and she should ‘let it go’.
        Speaking for myself, that’s not what I said.

        I said that from the perspective of the Dean of Students, it may be considered minor. For ex, it’s one occurrence – the DoS may be more likely to get involved if there were a pattern. Also, DoSes are overburdened with hugely difficult situations, from honor code violations to sexual assault and more. We can’t assume the administration would issue any disciplinary measure for this. Institutions vary widely in this regard.

        As for the “let it go” comment, it didn’t mean “let it go because it’s no biggie.” It means that the OP needn’t take on the burden of reporting (if such is even warranted) if they can’t spare the time and emotional energy to do so. That’s all.

        1. Badlands*

          If nobody reports it, how will anyone know there is a pattern. And I’d argue there is a pattern if the OP had multiple students doing the same thing.

        2. Dot Warner*

          Exactly. The Dean at my alma mater wouldn’t have dealt with this, not due to a “student is consumer mentality” but because there were tens of thousands of undergrads at the school and there were simply too many more severe issues to address.

          OP isn’t their mother and it’s not her job to teach these people manners if she doesn’t have time for it or thinks doing so might be dangerous. Let their crappy behavior bite them in the butt when the stakes are higher and maybe then they’ll learn.

          1. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

            Ehh….I’m at a huge state institution as well, and even if they weren’t necessarily going to deal with the emails, it’s still something the DoS/Conduct office would want to know about it. And it’s not like she would be handing these directly to the Dean to deal with, but her team.

            I would argue that all of us on a college campus has a responsibility to help shape our students. Why not intervene when the stakes are low and help make sure we are helping our institutions produce the best global citizens possible?

            1. smthing*

              I was at a huge state school and abusive emails (not just thoughtlessly rude ones) were certainly in their purview.

        3. OfficePrincess*

          At my alma mater this would have been an honor code violation though. I was on the Honor & Judicial Board and being verbally abusive to an RA landed people in front of us. I can only imagine what would have come down had it happened to faculty or staff.

          1. why yes, another fed*

            why would there be a different set of expectations between RAs and faculty/staff for verbal abuse? To me the standard in the honor code standard should be “don’t be verbally abusive”, not “it’s worse when verbal abuse is applied to higher-ranking individuals”, which is how I’m reading your comment.

      3. Frances*

        I agree with the comments suggesting reporting the students, who were cursing and abusive, to the heads of their respective schools. Most schools will have a student code of conduct and this would clearly violate that. This can be considered serious enough for a talking to which would then (hopefully) lead to a teachable moment.

    4. Sparrow*

      It really depends a lot on the university. At my current institution, students have academic and career advisors that they see often enough to know personally. If that’s the case at OP’s school, it’s definitely a good idea to loop one of those people in. I’ve had “this is really inappropriate/unprofessional behavior” conversations with a number of the students I work with because other university staff alerted me to their actions. Since I know them fairly well, I’m able to address their behavior in a way they’re more likely to respond to.

      Either way, I think it’s absolutely worthwhile for the OP to say something to the student. For most of them, this kind of reaction is sheer ignorance and inexperience, and who’s going to educate them if their university won’t? Most are embarrassed and won’t even respond to you, but they’ll keep it in mind for the future.

      For the rare student as self-absorbed as this one, they’re not going to listen. In fact, they’re likely to dig in their heels and double down on their absurdity. However, every student who’s done that to me did eventually come around. But it took time, maturity, and several people calling them out for them to realize the error of their ways, so it’s worth putting out there.

      1. BeautifulVoid*

        I had an academic advisor in both undergrad and grad school, and even though they were two different schools (different sizes and different cultures), I’m pretty sure this is absolutely something they would have want to heard about. I was a music major, and during my very first semester at a mid-sized school, the school’s shuttle service didn’t get me back to campus from a doctor’s appointment in time and I would have been late for an ensemble rehearsal. Rather than arriving late, I decided to just skip it. NOPE. The conductor contacted my advisor, who let me know gently, but firmly, that not showing up for rehearsal without notifying the conductor was unacceptable. I cannot even begin to imagine what would have happened if she’d heard I was firing off profanity-laden emails to other faculty. She wasn’t known for being the toughest professor in the school, but it still wouldn’t have been pretty.

    5. Whats In A Name*

      I would argue that part of the OP’s role as staff of the university is helping their adjustment/acclimation to college life and expectations. It might be a drain but I do think value could come from her approaching the students about their behavior. I did list some other options in my reply below, like talking to advisors or potentially career center, but I don’t think I would take it all the way to the Dean of Students; they have a lot on their plate regardless of size of university and they really need to only get involved in things like kegs being rolled into the front door of dry residence halls or the student lounge catching on fire (both things that have happened at schools I’ve worked at)

    6. SouthernLadybug*

      I hire interns and graduate assistants. Given the nature of the work, most come from a specific school or department in my University. So, if there was a particularly bad experience, I do have contacts I could follow-up with formally or informally. For example, I could let the head of the undergrad program know that I’m seeing a trend in the students. I’d only contact a mentor or professor in more extreme cases (such as swearing or questioning my parentage). Their advisors would find out about that from me.

    7. Tuckerman*

      We have a student employment department, and I would definitely let them know. Students must apply to jobs through the website, and it might be helpful to have a “tips for applying” portion of the website.

        1. Koko*

          Q: But what if I’m rejected for a job I was eminently well qualified for? Then can I be an asshole?

          A: No.

          Q: But what if –

          A: No.

    8. Jesmlet*

      I’d compile any of the negative ones and send them to whatever form of career counseling office OP might have at their university and then send each of them a link to this page or another one talking about etiquette when responding to rejection from an employer.

    9. OP#2*

      We do have a system specifically for this, though I think the only ones I’d report are the ones who were outright swearing, etc. It’s specifically set up for students who are not following the student code, and declaring themselves “the greatest mind” doesn’t really break that code.

      As for the others, I don’t think we have anything set up specifically for that, even in a generic “our students need to learn more about business norms” sort of way.

      1. Anna*

        I think that’s would be a great teachable moment without having to invite more foolish, jerky emails. Do they have a system for mass incident reports? :)

      2. smthing*

        I agree that the greatest mind wouldn’t be worthy of reporting, but the insulting, sweary ones might. You can also contact the Dean of Students for advice on what is and isn’t a violation, or just to give them a heads up about the general pattern.

        I’d be tempted to reply to the greatest mind that “As one of the greatest minds of the 21st century, you surely won’t be held back by not getting this particular job.” Allison’s advice is probably best, though.

  4. Random Lurker*

    #2 – thanks for the laugh. So many times we see stories from candidates who feel they were treated unprofessionally at interviews, that it’s easy to forget that the job seekers often behave like asses themselves! I have a few doozies of stories myself, but I regret that I haven’t yet interviewed one of the greatest minds of the century!

    I’d personally just ignore the rude replies. I don’t think trying to correct the behavior would be effective. They are venting/lashing out, and rarely will someone be open to feedback from the subject they are lashing out at. It’s unfortunate, but they will learn the hard way that unprofessional emails have a way of holding you back.

    1. pony tailed wonder*

      I think I would just send a standard letter of thank you for applying but we went with the strongest candidates to every applicant and ignore the immature responses. Also, one of the greatest minds of any century wouldn’t have sent that response. Bullets dodged. Many bullets dodged.

      1. Stranger than fiction*

        Seriously, one of the greatest minds of the century would have more emotional intelligence. Duh.

        1. Anna*

          Not necessarily. If listening to Stuff You Missed in History Class has taught me anything, it’s that some of our greatest thinkers and creators were complete and utter assholes.

    2. Lindsay (Not a Temp Anymore)*

      My standard response would lie like a rug and inform them each that I had set their application aside as a possible better match for a different upcoming posting, but that their response had just precluded them from consideration. Thankyouverymuch.

      Give them a little real-life consequence for a teachable moment…

  5. Alton*


    I almost could have written this. I think this feeling is very common, and please listen to Alison’s advice. Being more forthright about your limitations is a good goal moving forward, and it’s normal to feel bad that you dropped the ball on a couple things. But it’s not good to let this eat you up inside to the point where it’s making you anxious and is impacting your health. You really don’t deserve to beat yourself up that much.

    Another thing to try to remember is that having some responsibilities taken off your plate isn’t always a bad thing. I think when you’re very conscientious, you often want to help and be able to do everything, and it obviously hurts to feel like you’re not seen as reliable. But scaling back might help you “reset” and might help both you and your boss get a fuller picture of the situation. It can be easier to change your approach if you’re starting anew, rather than continuing existing projects that haven’t been going well.

    1. Newish Reader*

      Your last paragraph is a good point. I once had a job where the workload and expectations were too great. mI tried talking to my boss about not being able to handle it all, even working excessive hours and not having any type of personal life. My hope had been that some of the tasks would be taken away to make the workload reasonable.

      So maybe in the case of this letter, the boss realized the workload was too much for one person and restructured the job accordingly. It can seem very personal to have that happen without having asked or hoped for that outcome, but maybe the boss was just doing her job to ensure a worker wasn’t overworked.

  6. Loose Seal*

    #4, first of all, congratulations! I hope your wedding is beautiful and your lives together are blissful!

    Now about your shower: a lot of places (and people) believe that wedding showers are thrown for women. I once worked at a place where during my tenure, four women got married and one man. The office threw showers for all the women but had no intention of doing it for the man. I asked a couple of the higher-ups at the time if we were going to have a shower for Fergus but they seemed to be a bit surprised that I asked (and also bewildered that I somehow missed the “rule” that only women are showered). One VP said the couple would get their shower through the bride’s workplace.

    And as another anecdote, when I told the people who wanted to host a shower for my own wedding that I wanted a couples shower, they were baffled at the idea that a groom would want to be there or that other men would come when invited. I was astounded at the pushback toward the men.

    Now, I obviously don’t believe that men should be excluded from a shower that’s to benefit them too but plenty of people apparently do. Have you and/or your fiancé noticed your respective a workplaces given a shower for the groom if that’s the part of the couple who works there. If they don’t, it could be that they are seeing you both as grooms (which they should) but in doing so, subconsciously relegated you to the no-shower-best-wishes-only part of their minds.

    I hope that’s the case and it’s not blatant anti-gay marriage opinions that’s blocking your shower. Either way, I’d use Alison’s language to get things going. I know a lot of people will have strong feelings about the recipients hinting around that they’d like a shower but your case is a bit different in that, if the office actively considered it, then of course (!) you should get a shower. But their minds may not have caught up with what’s going to be more inclusive etiquette-wise. So maybe a little prompting will help help jump start it.

    (And if *anyone* — not just OP — works in a place that only showers women and you are high enough in the chain of command to do something about it, please work towards make that equal.)

    1. Purple Dragon*

      I never really considered that perspective. I’ve been invited to plenty of showers for women but never any for men. I’ve never really thought about it. Thanks for pointing it out !

      1. EarlyGray*

        I purposefully asked for a wedding shower with men and women invited. My husband and I both opened gifts. It made gift opening go faster, and it was way more fun with everyone there.

    2. BobcatBrah*

      Yeah, every wedding shower I’ve been to has been for the bride, with the groom just showing up (much like weddings themselves, lol). I don’t think the gender conventions change just because the couple is gay, nor should it… Unless one is trans.

      I think if OP#4 asks about it at work, then it’ll look like a gift-grab.

      1. BobcatBrah*

        Now that I think about it, I’ve never actually heard them referred to as wedding showers. It’s always been called a bridal shower ’round these parts.

      2. Anon at this time*

        Why shouldn’t the convention change? By saying it shouldn’t and that showers are only for brides, you may feel that you are showing support for some type of tradition, but it comes across that you are stating you don’t support gay marriage. That may be exactly what you are saying, but you also implied you are fine with a wedding shower for trans couples (I’m assuming for a trans woman who fulfills the “traditional” role of a bride?). Your statements are contradictory if this is the case, as one suggests you are a bigot and the other suggests you support folks with a trans identity.

        1. BobcatBrah*

          Way to go straight for the ad homs. You even went anon, rather than use your actual handle! Bravo!

          There are gender conventions around weddings, and I think think it’s perfectly ok to say that, if there are two grooms, both identify as grooms, and heterosexual grooms in the office don’t typically get a work shower thrown for them, why make an exception for a homosexual couple? I’m pretty sure marriage equalilty’s goal is equality.

          Any way you slice it, asking to have a shower thrown for you looks like a gift-grab.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            And yet, the other way of looking at it is that when two people with jobs get married, at least one of them usually gets a shower. Why make an exception for a homosexual couple?

            1. Koko*

              Yes, this. Showers may primarily be thrown “for” women, but the couple benefits. In fact, one of the most common types of gifts given at “bridal” showers are “Mr. and Mrs.” sets of items like hangers for the wedding dress and tux, bed linens, monogrammed towels, etc.

              There’s probably some archaic patriarchal reason why we give the gifts to the women in name, but clearly our culture has been treating the gifts as belonging to both partners for quite some time now. Gay men shouldn’t miss out on that just because they don’t have a female’s name in their couple.

          2. Temperance*

            I’m using my actual handle to disagree with this, vehemently. Gay couples, for years, were barred access to marriage, and still face discrimination that straight couples simply do not and will not. So a shower for either groom in a gay couple would be more than fine, and a nice, welcoming gesture.

            Then again, I’m female, didn’t have a shower, and hate gender roles, so ….

          3. neverjaunty*

            Same-sex relationships have an interesting way of highlighting how so many gender conventions are silly. Two women getting married receive two showers, but two men getting married are SOL?

          4. Elizabeth West*

            If you’re going for equality here, then wouldn’t it make sense for a new couple (regardless of gender) having their first marriage to be showered? The whole purpose behind showers originally was to help a new couple set up house. The bride was typically the one who got household goods because women stayed home while the men worked.

        2. N.J.*

          I am now responding under my usual posting name, you got me on that one. It is not an ad hominem attack to say that stating support of trans individuals makes you seem like a reasonably accepting person and rejecting showers for men who are marrying makes you sound like a bigot. Especially in the context of the workplace, it may even signal you have the potential to be discriminatory. Yes, asking for a shower makes you seem like a gift grabber and usually means you are. Asking not to be excluded from your office’s typical celebration activities means you are fighting for equality, albeit on a small scale. This is why people are moving towards calling them wedding showers, not bridal showers. Bridal showers are based on several out-dated and sexist notions and pretending they aren’t, even though they can be a loving expression of support for the bride-to-be, is disingenuous.

          1. BobcatBrah*

            I think one can be accepting without going full steam ahead in every way. Most guys I know are ambivalent on weddings and such, and in my circle of friends the whole process is done for the bride (I personally am all for eloping, but try telling my fiancee that).

            1. N.J.*

              It is definitely a minefield to navigate, but the thing is that it is easy to forget that social interactions are usually established and reinforced by dominant cultural norms and most people just go along with it because it’s easiest. I mean this in the sense that we don’t think about the underlying structures and meanings of our customs and traditions, as we are programmed on a subconscious level to go with the flow. Yes, it’s a lot more common for a shower to be a bridal shower and for the only men present to be dragged their by their wife to be. That doesn’t mean it has to be that way. Especially in the workplace, there is a higher burden of care to be inclusive and to avoid discriminating. I see this shower question as illustrative of these concepts and it stinks that the OP would have to ask for a shower when his workplace is one in which it is the custom to show support and joy regarding your coworkers upcoming wedding by throwing a party. It irks me that he has rode ode between worrying about being perceived as rude by asking about a shower or about feeling horribly disappointed and devalued if no one at his workplace supports gay marriage or more likely is fine with the status quo of only bridal showers because it’s no skin off their nose. It’s complacency that breeds inconsiderate or hurtful behavior as often as it is bigotry or s deliberate action and I should have clarified that earlier.

        1. BobcatBrah*

          The convention is there, for better or worse. OP mentions that showers are thrown for heterosexual couples (but doesn’t mention if it’s the female or male partner in the couple that works at the office, which I think is the bigger distinction than gay/straight).

          As it is, if they really want a shower thrown for them, Allison’s advice of discreetly bringing it up to whoever plans these sorts of things would be best. I just think overall that amount to have a gift-giving party thrown in your honor is tacky.

          1. neverjaunty*

            The convention is not written on tablets or enforced by federal law. Customs and conventions – say, like the one that women with jobs quit when they got married – change over time and as circumstances change.

          2. Ask a Manager* Post author

            The convention isn’t there at all in plenty of parts of the country; it’s been changing for a while. I know few people anymore who would be okay with a women-only shower because it’s sexist as hell (it stems from the idea that women are in charge of setting up the home). It’s changing or already changed, and we should hurry it along.

              1. BobcatBrah*

                You’re right that it really depends on the part of the country. I suppose it helps to preface that my experience is the South, as well as Miami. Although I’ve found that gender roles are even stricter in Miami than in other parts of the country.

                1. neverjaunty*

                  Which, again, doesn’t matter in the workplace. What conventions people follow in their own time don’t make it okay (or legal) to say “only girls get wedding parties” at the office.

                2. Michelle*

                  I’m in Texas and had co-ed wedding and baby showers 15 years ago. My mother balked, but everyone my age thought it was expected and appropriate for men to attend.

                  I realized today that I’m still in the mindset that showers are for women, and men “attend” them, but I’m not so stubborn that I can’t see how ridiculous that is and that it’s time to change. After all, it used to be that only men had stag parties, but now it’s common for women to have bachelorette parties.

            1. LadyKelvin*

              Try telling my family that. My wedding was not mine. Everything from the shower, to the location to the church to the stupid bouquet toss/garter toss was based upon their desires and not mine. I hated my shower, but it wasn’t for me, it was to make my family happy. We had a bouquet and garter toss, but I put my foot down and said no way is he going to put it on her leg (*cringe*) I also said absolutely not to the dollar dance (when everyone pays a dollar for a chance to dance with the bride or groom, gross money grab in my opinion) and the cookie table. And yes, I got several questions about why we weren’t doing them from my guests. And this was only three years ago. Looking back, I wish I had put my foot down more and done my own thing, but I made a lot of people happy by having my wedding their way, so I guess that’s what counts right? I have a great marriage and live a perfect relationship maintaining distance from them so everything is on my terms and not theirs. I just let them have my wedding.

      3. ceiswyn*

        So… heterosexual couples get one shower, gay couples get no showers, and lesbian couples get two showers?

        I think the gender conventions need to change…

        1. Isabel C.*

          But we must always stick to what we’ve done before! Conventions are there for a reason! That’s why we still live in trees and haven’t invented any form of remote written communication oh wait a second…

          1. ceiswyn*

            Absolutely! And that is why I am at home dusting and sweeping and cooking and looking after the babies while my husband works.

            (Which, I have to tell you, would be a bit of a crapshoot for any breadwinning husband who expected to get home to living children and a house not on fire…)

      4. LBK*

        I mean, the “convention” is also that the couple is one man and one woman. Once we’ve tossed that out the window, I think you can decide to do whatever the hell you want. Even many straight couples are breaking with a lot of the traditions, especially since some of them don’t make sense any more (for instance, most couples are getting married older after they’ve already been living together for years, so traditional wedding registry items are kind of useless). It’s your wedding, celebrate it however you want.

        1. Koko*


          I like the new custom that’s becoming more common of couples who have already been living together for a long time to ask for contributions to a honeymoon fund instead of housewares they already own. I think it was originally seen as tacky because it’s more or less a cash gift you’re solciting (though there are some cute sites that do things like letting you “buy” particular honeymoon activities for different dollar amounts), but it just makes so much more sense to me. My dear friends don’t really need new plates when they have plates already, or a breadmaker that will sit around collecting dust, but I’d love to help make their honeymoon really special for them by stretching their budget further.

          1. LBK*

            Yeah, I know a few people who have used Honeyfund. I think that makes a lot more sense these days – my boyfriend and I just moved in together and had to get rid of a ton of duplicate kitchen equipment and other typical registry gifts, the last thing we would need is for people to buy us more of them. If anything I’d do a reverse registry: you agree to take one thing I don’t need anymore out of my house for me.

        2. Tracy*

          How about no showers? This is an office. It’s weird. And it makes me feel uncomfortable as a single person who will probably never get married. I always thought it was strange outside an office…they get wedding gifts at their ceremony but still want a shower? And as a single person with a low income I’m supposed to spend money on a couple? But in an office it feels even more out of place.

          1. Non-Prophet*

            I agree that wedding showers in the workplace can be a bit weird. I understand your position (and I’m very relieved that my workplace isn’t big on things like showers!!) but in OP4’s case, we know that it’s already standard practice for his particular workplace to throw a shower for engaged couples. If throwing an office wedding shower for hetero couples is something that’s common in his workplace, then the same ought to be done for OP4.

      5. an anon*

        “Unless one is trans” really confuses me in this post. A cis woman and a trans woman getting married are a gay couple. It almost sounds like you are saying that the cis woman should be showered and the trans woman should not (?). Ditto a cis man and a trans man, that the trans man should be showered and the cis man should not. I doubt you meant it that way, but that’s how I’m reading it.

          1. N.J.*

            Yes but that circles back to the problem of being exclusionary which can be interpreted as discriminatory. It also still bases the idea of the shower on sexist notions. If a person of a biological male gender transitions to a female gender identity and presentation, that individual is no more likely to want to be viewed as fulfilling a “traditional” bride role as a biological female. Bridal showers are based on a woman needing household gifts to make sure she is taking care of the home. Some also include gifts for the wedding night or honeymoon, such as old school ideas of a trusseau, which presupposes that all parties getting married are virgins and sexually inexperienced before marriage. Both ideas are rooted in deeply traditional and sexist ideas about a brides worth to her future mate–she is worthy only in the context of domesticity, child bearing and being “unsullied” before marriage. If we we truly going to celebrate someone’s upcoming marriage, especially at work, then it needs to include celebrating the equal value and future needs of that member of the couple that you work with. I know this sounds extreme but it’s true.

        1. Misslawmom*

          I think you are making a huge assumption that the trans woman will only be marrying a woman and a trans man will only be marrying a man. Trans women can marry men and trans men can marry women. Trans refers to the gender they identify with, not necessarily the gender they are attracted to.

      6. De*

        “Yeah, every wedding shower I’ve been to has been for the bride, with the groom just showing up (much like weddings themselves, lol). ”

        I am so, so glad my husband did not view it like that. It was his wedding, too.

    3. Little Mermaid*

      Could someone explain what the point of a shower is? How is it different bachelor/ette party? I’m not in the US but they definitely do not exist in the two countries I’ve lived so far.

      1. misspiggy*

        Is it like the ‘bottom drawer’ of old in the UK? Basically, the bride was expected to make a home and bring stuff with her to accomplish this. But it was recognised that she would need help doing this, so her friends held the shower to give her items she could bring into the marriage. (Is that it?)

        1. mskyle*

          Sounds similar – the defining characteristic of a bridal shower is that it is an occasion for gift-giving. I LOATHE THEM.

            1. Jubilance*

              Wait – why are baby showers gross? I’m a first time mother (currently expecting) and my baby shower was so helpful in figuring out what we need for our little one.

              If anything, a bridal shower is more gross – I got married when I was 32 and I’d already set up a home with my now husband. The traditional reason for a bridal shower – to set up a home – wasn’t needed in our case, but we did have a couple.

              1. Kelly L.*

                Baby showers as a concept aren’t gross, but sometimes people have gross games at them (like mashing candy bars into diapers to look like poop) or decide it’s a great idea to regale the mother-to-be with their birth horror stories. At least that’s what I imagine Temperance is talking about. Bridal showers at least tend to have less potty humor, lol.

                1. Temperance*

                  YES. I’m childless and over 30 (horror!) and whenever I go to one of those, it’s always gross talk about labor, varicose veins, how you’ll never want your husband anymore …. vom.

                2. Anna*

                  Mmm…This is also normalizing. The birth horror stories is probably something that has been done since humans developed the ability to speak. It does two things: Prepares expecting women for what COULD happen and it (probably) offsets what actually does happen. I dunno. It’s a convention that maybe some people don’t like or get (and I don’t necessarily like to hear the stories) but I see it’s purpose in society as part of the process. Not to mention, we are so far removed from birth now when it used to happen all around us and so we were seeing it. Now all we have are stories because that socializing process doesn’t happen anymore.

                  This comment brought to you by Sociology! Sociology! Normalizing the weird shit we do since the 1800s!

              2. Temperance*

                Because they are SO gendered and full of specific expectations for women. There’s not an equivalent activity for new dads, and especially not one full of stupid activities like melting chocolates in diapers and making people sniff them, guessing how wide the pregnant woman’s belly is, and making a grown woman wear a stupid hat covered in ribbons.

                1. Jubilance*

                  Interesting…. I’ve actually never been to a shower that had those things, and for my own shower, it was important that it was coed and without those types of games. My circle of friends and family aren’t into gender norms which is probably why I haven’t had that type of experience.

                2. MMDD*

                  I’ve never been to a baby shower where any of that stuff was done. Most of the time it’s a bunch of women sitting around eating and talking and then the expectant first time mom (never someone who is already a mother, that’s tacky as hell around here) opens gifts. The male equivalent around here is a diaper party, where the guys all bring a pack of diapers and then have drinks/play poker/whatever. And really, I can’t say I blame you for hating showers if that’s what happening at the ones you go to.

                3. Just a Thought*

                  We had a couples baby shower and all of our friends & family were there male & female. Baby showers are super helpful because you have to buy a gazillion things for a new baby that you never would have had before (unlike wedding showers for already established older folks). We had no activities and opened no presents at ours it was a chance to celebrate in a way that we wanted to; and yes, a chance for our friends and family to help us prepare for our baby by buying us things. It was awesome.

                  Don’t hate on baby showers just because you’ve been to some where you didn’t like the activities. If you don’t like them just don’t go.

                4. Temperance*

                  Ah Jubilance, that sounds lovely. I went to one co-ed shower, that was actually hosted for the benefit of the dad (mom had a 10-year-old already), and it was relaxed and not all about bodily functions.

                5. neverjaunty*

                  They really don’t have to be, any more than wedding showers have to be about giving the bride (and only the bride) kitchen tools and lingerie.

                6. Science!*

                  I’m been to a couple of co-ed baby showers (including my own) and I like the co-ed showers better than the women only showers. Most of the games we did were drawing based, like buying a bunch of white onsies and/or bibs and letting the guests draw on them. The mom and dad to be each got to pick out their favorite and those guests won a little prize. Or little quizzes like what is the proper baby name for different animals, and correctly guess the classic kids book based on the quote. Nothing gross or weird or gender specific.

                  We did do the guess how big the belly is for one friend, but I checked with her ahead of time and she was fine with it and thought it was funny.

                7. Koko*

                  This is too funny to me because I’ve kind of heard of these things before but we’ve never done them at any of my friends’ baby showers (I’m 31). We’ve done games like “everybody decorates a plain white onesie with fabric markers for baby to wear when he comes” and “guess which celebrity couple this baby belongs to” with magazine cutouts of famous babies. But mostly we just sit around and sip fizzy drinks and chat and fawn over the mom to be.

                8. swingbattabatta*

                  Our baby shower was co-ed, with alcohol and everything (obviously not for me). It was so lovely, and we had lots of friends and family offer advice and anecdotes. And, we received so many gifts that have proven to be invaluable (and personal handmade gifts), and it really felt like our people were coming together to support us and our child.

                  I don’t find showers to be gross at all. I love celebrating other people’s life events, and I generally find these get togethers to be joyful. Maybe I’m in the minority, though.

              3. CactusFlower44*

                I’m having my first pretty quickly here too and a co-ed shower was thrown for spouse and I, very casual, picnic stye. In reading forums about bridal and baby showers in general, I’ve noticed there are some people who are vehemently against them – it surprised me how divisive showers can be. Personally, I didn’t care either way, but it was apparent to me that the throwers of said shower were more excited about it than I was, and it was their way of showing us love. And like you said, we did find it very helpful to hear from all of our friends who’d had children already. I asked people not to tell horrible birth stories, and I had some say to the games that were played. We also had a lot of beer for everyone. :) It ended up being a really fun day and I would have been just as happy without gifts, though those were much appreciated, especially the children’s books. I was really glad we did co-ed because I get really sensitive to the gendered expectations and traditions… I LOATHE stuff like that. I’m all about equalizing the experience as much as possible, including showers, responsibilities, decisions, etc. Generally, if the spouse can’t participate, then I don’t want to do it – no belly measuring, weight guessing, etc.

                As a side note, despite my gentle resistance, we did end up playing the candy bar diaper game. It was honestly really funny, especially after a few drinks (not me of course). People want to hate on it so much and even I eye rolled, but it ended up being pretty hilarious.

                1. Temperance*

                  Where I grew up, the cultural expectation is that showers are women-only. Both my SIL and my sister requested coed showers, and both were shot down by family elders as this was just Not Done. (Where I grew up, showers can explicitly only be hosted by family. Very backwards.)

                  I cohosted my sister’s shower, so I was able to pull rank and put the kibosh on the more humiliating games and my poor sister being treated like a prize cow and measured. I am still 100% against women-only showers and the silly diaper game, but I will concede that it probably could be fun after a few beers. Not so much at an evangelical church full of old ladies and no booze. ;)

                2. Koko*

                  Oh yes, the children’s book thing is a new trend that I love! At my sister’s shower, they asked for everyone to give a children’s book in lieu of a card, and write a message for mom and baby inside the front cover. It was so wonderful for my nephew to have all those books waiting to be read to him when he was born, and it’s a great way to sort of keep classic books alive, because everyone tended to bring books they remembered from their own childhood instead of new titles.

              4. MV*

                Honestly, I just don’t like parties that are essentially inviting someone to bring you a gift. But, they are the convention in the US.

                I do find baby showers more “gross” as there tends to be (if not coed) discussions about babies and birth that are….well disgusting and graphic.

                1. CactusFlower44*

                  I agree in theory, though I’ve noticed that when I’ve been invited to things like that, I really do feel like I want to give a gift and hoefully do something special for the recipient. I’ve also noticed that gifts and parties and things tend to be more about the giver themselves vs. the recipient. I get annoyed at that sometimes as it places a recipient in a hard place when they are not interested in gifts and parties, but don’t want to hurt the feelings of someone who is trying to push their love onto them in their own way. It reminds of my dad cooking for me all the time – I didn’t want to eat all that food all the time, but he would be so dejected if I didn’t… if I’d have denied my shower throwers the opportunity to throw a shower, I think they may have stopped talking to me all together!

                  Graphic discussions about the grosser aspects of parenting… I get that people don’t want to hear it. However I’d sure hope that co-ed wouldn’t make a difference, because the spouses are going to be involved in that too! There is no reason a spouse shouldn’t be exposed to those kinds of things, that is gendered and ridiculous if only the mom is expected to be part of the gross conversations and stuff. Like I said though, I don’t want to hear about your horrible birth and how you nearly died when I’m going into my first labor in 3 weeks, and to be honest, neither does my husband. Gross stuff though, sure. We’re going to experience it, and it’s helpful to us to learn about that stuff.

                2. MV*

                  Cant reply for some reason directly to you CatcusFlower.

                  But I agree its ridiculous and gendered to not hear the grosser stuff at Coed Showers but this has absolutely been my experience. I vastly prefer Coed showers for this reason. They tend to be so much more pleasant of an affair and missing that gross labor/baby talk.

                  I agree that men need to deal with it too, but IMO its not a topic of conversation when you are basically “in public” or at a party. So I agree, Coed vs. Women only it should make no difference. But it does.

            2. HannahS*

              Uh, if you think labour, varicose veins, and talking about post-partum sex is gross, you need to a) grow up (pregnant bodies are gross? come on.) and b) not go to baby showers. Women undergoing major physical changes and about to undergo another MAJOR one want to talk about their bodies with other people to normalize and commiserate.

              1. Rusty Shackelford*

                Speak for yourself. I’ve always thought listening to “birth stories” was the seventh level of hell, even when I was pregnant. Although I found it tedious, not gross. (Also, telling someone to “grow up” because they don’t share your opinion isn’t particularly kind.)

                1. HannahS*

                  Yeah, calling that type of talk tedious, upsetting, or annoying is fine. But it IS juvenile and plain mean to call pregnant women’s bodies and experiences as “gross,” especially when you’re in a space that is devoted to said pregnant people. So I’m fine with what I said.

                2. Rusty Shackelford*

                  Eh. In general, people don’t like hearing about others’ bodily functions, whether or not they’ve also experienced them.

          1. Golden Lioness*

            Another vote against showers (of any kind), hose warming graduation fundraisers and the like. Gift-grabbing at it worst. I’v never seen anything like it till I moved to the US.

            1. CactusFlower44*

              Perhaps the origins of these things are gift-grabby, but in my recent experience, people like to do these things now as more of an excuse to just get together and have a fun party. I’ve been to more and more parties and weddings where people specifically instruct not to bring gifts, or to bring hand-me-downs, or to instead donate to a charity of the their choice. People just want to celebrate together. Also, many times the party is being thrown for someone whether they want it or not by friends or relatives who may be overly pushy.

              Obviously that isn’t always the case and some things really are a gift grab, but fortunately, these things are often easy to skip out on.

              1. CactusFlower44*

                I wonder though if this is maybe a symptom of getting older and having an older crowd of relatives and friends – most of us have been financially secure for some time now. Maybe it feels more “grabby” when people are just starting out in the world? I don’t know.

                I do like getting people gifts though. I mentioned up thread that I feel gift giving is more of an emotional benefit to the giver, and I feel some fulfillment from giving gifts. Not everyone feels that way and that is totally ok! Different strokes and all :)

            2. Anna*

              I think most people view it as a way to provide items that will be helpful to the new mom or couple or were helpful when they had babies or were newly married. The majority of people I know who have had showers didn’t view it as a way to rake in cash and prizes and I think it’s offensive to categorize every shower and every person who has one like that.

        2. FiveWheels*

          Where I’m from in the UK, I’ve never heard of bridal showers – the setting -up -house presents would be wedding presents.

          1. Tax Accountant*

            Basically a shower is a chance to give your present before the wedding. So if you give a present at a wedding shower, you don’t bring one to the wedding.

            1. mskyle*

              Oh boy: again, this is mostly not the case in my circles. A shower gift is separate from a wedding gift. Most people give both.

              1. Jennifer M.*

                Yup. I usually give something smallish for the shower and something bigger for the wedding. I never bring a gift to a wedding because that is just something extra for the couple to have to keep track of.

              2. Jesmlet*

                Where I’m from (Connecticut), general convention is to give a gift at the bridal shower and to give a check at the wedding. Anyone not invited to the shower but invited to the wedding usually brings a gift off the registry.

                1. BeautifulVoid*

                  New York over here, and that sounds about right. And the people who bring gifts instead of checks to the wedding reception will always find a way to bring the most gigantic, cumbersome gift that the wedding party will have to try to figure out how to get back to the married couple’s house. :D

                  (The enormous decorative bowl was nice, but has been moved out of the way for now because of toddlers. We still haven’t used the massive fondue set.)

                2. FiveWheels*

                  Eeek, where I’m from giving or asking for money at a wedding would just be horrifically embarrassing.

              3. Koko*

                In my world, you would give both for a close friend or family member, but only one for a more distant relative or casual acquaintance. (Usually the more distant relative or casual acquaintance wouldn’t invite you to the shower anyway, but when they do, you give the present there and come to the wedding empty-handed.)

            2. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

              I’ve never heard the don’t bring a gift to the wedding if you did for the shower thing… I’ve always done both.

            3. DQ*

              Convention in my neck of the woods (Northeast US) is an item from the bridal registry for the shower and a check or cash for the wedding. I haven’t seen anyone give an actual gift at a wedding in forever.

              1. Judy*

                At least in the Midwest US, we mail (or take) the present to the bride and groom (or their parents) before the wedding, so they don’t have to deal with the presents on the wedding day.

                1. Jen S. 2.0*

                  I also see boxed gifts at weddings, but I just think it’s not very thoughtful of the guest to make the couple have to transport huge boxes on that very busy day. Like, taking a gift to the wedding is not a foreign concept to me…but I think it’s not a great idea. It’s simpler for the couple to have things sent to their home (or whatever designated place).

                2. Lia*

                  Not the part I’m from– I’d say about 75% of the Midwestern weddings I’ve been to had a gift table set up specifically to hold gifts. Here on the East Coast though, I’ve never seen one. You do take a card usually, but not a wrapped gift.

                3. Jen S. 2.0*

                  People put up a gift table, but because there will be a few guests who bring gifts no matter what. I just see the **majority** of gifts being sent. That is, the existence of a gift table doesn’t mean they **prefer** gifts be brought to the reception; it’s just there to accommodate those who did so.

            4. Anna*

              Most showers that I’ve attended that were bridal showers were mean to give presents that would be geared to the bride alone. Maybe lingerie or, at one that I attended, it was where the bride was given the “something old, something new” traditional gifts. Most of the stuff at the bridal shower would not have been gifts given to the couple.

            5. MV*

              Not the case for my circle either. A shower gift and a wedding gift are two different things. The shower gift is usually less expensive and not likely to be cash like a wedding gift though.

      2. Nerdy Canuck*

        Basically it’s a tradition where the couple is provided gifts that, in the old intention of it, were to help set up the new household (going back to when it would have been unheard of for a non-married couple to be living together). I suppose the reasoning then for the whole gender thing was the perception of the stuff these gifts would be used for being the bride’s responsibility?

        It’s because of this involvement of gifts as a central aspect that it’s usually against rules of etiquette for a person to ask for their own shower.

        1. EmmaLou*

          Yes! It used to be little gifts “showered” on the bride. Embroidered tea towels, frilly aprons were big when my mum was attending bridal showers, cute measuring cups, cookbooks. Sometimes women would bring their favourite recipe to stick in a book or box. Now though I see a lot more BIG gifts at showers. (And sometimes they are co-ed with a barbecue). Again, though, it’s the gifts that make the asking seem … not perfectly right but how else… Also letter-writer, sometimes offices just leave people out of showers. I’ve read here more than once about people whose events were left out because they were not the popular staff. It feels really bad when that happens no matter the reason. Or the response was, “Oh, here. We got you a card.” when last week Maisy got a cake, a gift, three bottles of wine and a box of chocolates.

          1. SimontheGreyWarden*

            My bridal shower was basically a tea party with some close family friends. My husband was of the mindset that “this is a lady party so I can play video games at home while you go” (jerk). Our “shower gifts” were christmas ornaments. When my mom asked for a theme, that was what I asked for because I knew it could be a very inexpensive, handmade, crafty type thing for people who didn’t have money to spare, but would have symbolic meaning as we shared our first Christmas. It was actually really nice.

            Of course, then we got kittens, and I didn’t put up the ornaments because I didn’t want them to break.

      3. Elsajeni*

        You’ve had a few replies, but I don’t know if any of them have hit on this: the traditional form of a bridal shower is a party thrown by a female relative (usually the bride’s mother) and attended only by female guests, and while you might give small gifts that would help the bride set up housekeeping, part of the point was also for her older, already-married friends and relatives to give her advice about married life and being a wife, including some frank talk about sex. Over time, it’s mostly evolved away from that and toward just being a gift-giving occasion, and the bachelorette party has taken over the “goodbye to single life” aspect and — jokingly, since it’s usually no longer assumed that brides have no idea about sex — the “introduction to sex” aspect.

        The modern work version of a wedding shower is really more just a party in honor of a coworker’s wedding, since most coworkers won’t be invited to the wedding itself or the friends-and-family parties surrounding it; there might or might not even be gifts, but there will definitely be cake and a card.

    4. Chocolate lover*

      My last several offices have thrown celebrations for anyone getting married or having a baby, male or female. And all employees, male and female, are invited. They’ve smart been small, fairly close knit offices, so that factors in. We threw a party for my male boss when he was marrying his husband and we threw him a baby party when they were having a baby. Just like we did for the women.

      1. Wakeen Teapots, Ltd.*

        We do baby and wedding for men and women, doesn’t matter and I’m kinda shocked that all work places aren’t like that.

        I can’t wrap my head to thinking how it would play out otherwise. How could you do just the women and not the men?

        1. Gandalf the Nude*

          I think some places still think of these as purely social events rather than work social events, so they follow greater societal trends, which means only feting brides and mothers-to-be. In my workplace, I suspect most of the grooms and fathers-to-be would actually be insulted if one of these parties were thrown for them.

          1. Gandalf the Nude*

            Not supporting this, btw. I think it’s codswallop that the expectations are different by gender.

        2. Case of the Mondays*

          My prior office threw showers for both men and women but only women attended them. Since it was a law firm and the admin staff was 99% women and the lawyers were 80% men it frequently worked out that the lower paid staff were “showering” the higher paid people they supported. It also made attending as a female attorney a bit odd. I always still attended but some female attorneys would not because they were trying hard enough to be seen as an attorney and not staff in the first place. Attending “staff” events during work hours made it even harder.

          1. J*

            We throw (baby, not wedding) showers for both the men and women, but if it’s a man in the office his wife usually attends. If it’s a woman in the office, I don’t recall seeing any of their husbands attend.

        3. Always Anon*

          We don’t do bridal showers, but baby showers are always for men and women.

          I think one of the many reasons we don’t do bridal showers, is because most people don’t want them, and it’s not really fair to do one for one person and not for another. Now, we present anyone who is getting married a $250 gift card to a store where they are registered.

      2. all aboard the anon train*

        My last office had showers for anyone, regardless of gender (even if the recipient didn’t want one, which is a different issues entirely).

        My current office has showers for no one, which I really appreciate Honestly, as much as I loathe showers at work, I think you should either celebrate everyone or no one.

        1. Gaia*

          Our showers are really just an excuse to eat and drink at work. Individuals do not give gifts (that would be very weird in our company culture) but the company purchases a gift from the registry (if there is one) or in general that the couple may like. Everyone gathers and eats good food and drinks some good beer and then we all go back to work. I like how we do it.

          1. Whats In A Name*

            I like this policy. Particularly one gift from the company as a whole so people don’t feel obligated to buy one, which is what used to happen in my office – where people made very little. And were expected to buy their boss a gift at the holidays (not the other way around), which was an insane issue in itself.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          My office doesn’t do them as a company, but people throw them for their coworkers. That’s entirely up to them, however. I suspect if I got married or became pregnant I’d get nothing because my team is never here!

      3. BeautifulVoid*

        My husband works in an elementary school, which is staffed by mostly women, and they threw him a fantastic baby shower when I was pregnant. I was invited, but it was in the morning before school started, and his commute isn’t the greatest, so I chose to sleep instead.

        On the flip side, I’m technically a freelancer, but I work through an agency. I invited my boss/the owner and her daughter who works part-time in the office (who I’m friendly with) to the main family & friends shower. In a lot of situations, I can see how that would have been weird and/or inappropriate, but since we don’t really have a conventional work set-up, it was fine.

      4. Drew*

        I think you’ve been very fortunate (or choosy!) in your selection of offices. Congratulations to all of them for being decent people.

    5. mskyle*

      This is what I was thinking as well – it’s more likely to be your gender that’s the issue than your sexuality. In my circles showers are “bridal” and very, very gendered. (Obviously if men in your offices also usually get showers then I’m way off.)

    6. Mark in Cali*

      I’ve noticed a similar convention with baby showers too. Again, traditionally for a female, but we have hard working dads here in the office who I’m sure would appreciate a piece of cake, a pat on the back, and a gift or two to help get through those first few months. That said, in my office usually it’s a group of women planning the showers. I’ve told the guys that while I think they should have showers too, they are usually the result of someone’s office friend starting the party planning (there’s not a designated The-Office-Style party committee). My office buddy had his kid a year ago now and I felt bad that I didn’t organize a shower for him because no one else was.

      1. Temperance*

        One of my friend’s moms had a surprise “grandma shower” at work – her coworkers all brought her books, toys, and games to furnish her house for her grandkids to visit. A really lovely surprise.

    7. Murphy*

      I agree with this. I have heard of some “couple’s showers” lately, but for the most part, right or wrong, they do seem to traditionally be a bride thing. But there’s no reason why men can’t have a shower/wedding celebration at work as well.

    8. taco*

      I don’t know if they did anything at work, but my brother and his now-husband had a wedding shower (they called it a “Thunderstorm”) and it was basically just another party before the wedding.

      1. Whats In A Name*

        OMG if when my boyfriend and I get married I want to throw a “Thunderstorm”. And my boyfriend is the opposite sex – it’s just fantastic!

    9. LadyG*

      The bottom line for me is, wedding etiquette says you don’t plan or ask about your own shower. A shower is supposed to be a “gift” of sorts given to you. In a lot of the country, the mother-of-the-bride isn’t even supposed to give a shower, because it looks like a gift-grab for her daughter. It’s supposed to be thrown by friends who truly want to “shower” the bride. Aside from tradition, the explicit purpose of the shower is to give gifts, and asking about it implies that you are expecting people to give you gifts. It comes across as tacky.

      If your goal isn’t actually about gifts, but about trying to see how ‘inclusive’ your office actually is and if they’re not giving you a shower because they’re anti-gay bigots, that’s another story. But if you truly want to ask if your co-workers are going to buy you wedding gifts, don’t. Super tacky.

      1. Lily Rowan*

        I think a work shower is substantively different from a personal-life shower. At work, it’s a chance for people who probably aren’t invited to the wedding to celebrate with the person getting married and give them a gift. In my experience, work showers (wedding or baby) usually have just one gift from the group (with money being collected around the office), rather than each person bringing something, as you would at a personal-life shower. It’s mostly an excuse to have some cake and a nice break in the routine while giving your best wishes to a coworker.

        1. all aboard the anon train*

          I think this depends on company culture. My last company expected people to bring individual gifts and I know family and friends who’ve had that same experience. In those cases, it seems to be more about having a work shower with a separate group of people than you’d invite to a family/close friends shower.

          1. Koko*

            Wow, I don’t know how I would react to being told I had to buy individuals gifts for coworkers’ life occasions. I always go to the little celebration at 4:30 in the kitchen with champagne and cake paid for by the company and sign the card that goes around, but there are 15 people in my department and there are several engagements/weddings/births/home purchases/etc every year. It feels like I would just never-endingly be expected to spend my money on gifts for people I’m not especially close to and barely even think about outside of work. My budget doesn’t have room for that.

            1. all aboard the anon train*

              Yeah, at the time I was barely making enough to get by, but the department – and I should say it was a department thing and not a company thing – was see focused on making sure everyone was friends. It was kind of ridiculous.

              I was pretty young and right out of college at the time and my manager, who was maybe in her late 20s/early 30s said we could sit down together and work on my budget so I could find money to give for these showers. That was when I knew I really needed to get out of there. No way was I making a budget just so I could buy gifts for people I’m not close to because the department wanted to celebrate every marriage/baby/engagement.

              1. Drew*

                “Look at how much you’ve budgeted here for groceries. You don’t really NEED nutrients, do you? Just stock up on ramen and you’ll have plenty of money left over for shower gifts.”

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Yep, it’s because it’s work that it’s different than the normal etiquette rule on this. The assumption is that of course work doesn’t want to leave one person out, whereas it’s considered impolite to assume that of course your friends want to throw you a shower.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            But doesn’t that depend on whether it’s a shower thrown by the office (as in, the employer buys the cake and it’s someone’s job duty to organize it) or a shower thrown by your work friends (who pay for everything on their own) that just happens to be held at the office? If it’s a work benefit, then I can see your point about work vs personnel etiquette, because it’s no more “asking for gifts” than any other benefit. But if it’s just something your work buddies do for you, I’d feel a lot less comfortable asking about it. Not because it means the LW deserves it less, but because it’s more personal. I mean, it’s one thing to say to the office manager (for example) “You’re the one who organizes wedding showers, so when can we talk about mine?” But I would never say to my friends “You threw showers for Margaery and Lollys when they got married, so when can we plan my shower?” I would be much more inclined to have lunch with my friend Varys and say “Do you think anyone is going to throw me a shower? I don’t care about the gifts, but since Margaery and Lollys got wedding showers in the last year, it makes me feel like my wedding doesn’t matter the same way.”

            tl;dr: You can and should demand that your employer treat you equally. You shouldn’t demand that your friends throw you a shower. (And in this case, if it really is a friends thing, and these friends haven’t thought to throw you a shower, that sucks.)

            1. Koko*

              At my office these are always organized by the admin. I like all of my coworkers but I don’t consider any of them friends and rarely think of them outside of work.

              It actually strikes me as improper for work friends to host an event in the office. If they are taking their own initiative because they’re friends and they wouldn’t do it for coworkers who they aren’t friends with, then it’s a friend thing, not a work thing, and should be held outside of work. To prevent exactly this sort of feeling of being left out on the part of people who don’t have friends at work.

              1. Rusty Shackelford*

                It gets awkward. My workplace does not have work-sponsored showers, but a “work shower” will generally be thrown by work buddies. It will be held at work and everyone in that department will be invited. There are people I work with who I truly dislike and would not voluntarily go to their shower (nor would I be invited). And yet, because it happens at work, everyone is invited and there’s no graceful way for me to skip it. I don’t like it at all.

              2. Elizabeth West*

                It might be awkward in a smaller company, but on a campus with 400 people like mine, it’s not a big deal. People see folks carrying balloons and cake and just assume it’s for someone in their group.

                1. Rusty Shackelford*

                  Unfortunately, even a campus of 400 people has departments of 10 or 20, and it’s awkward (in my opinion) to be the 1 of 10 who doesn’t come to the shower.

      2. Jen S. 2.0*

        I normally would be HORRIFIED by the idea of asking whether someone is throwing you a shower (horrified!! clutching my pearls!!), but I agree with others that the two-grooms issue puts this in a slightly different category. I’ve never worked in an office that throws a lot of showers, let alone one that throws showers for the dudes (I think in 15+ years, I’ve been to one office shower), but if this office throws showers, and it honestly just hasn’t occurred to anyone that this is the first occurrence of a new situation that falls in the shower-throwing category (which it does), then I see the logic of giving a tiny nudge to start the ball rolling. It shouldn’t be about the actual giving of a Le Creuset dutch oven; it should be about doing the things you normally do for you coworkers.

      3. Karen K*

        LadyG – exactly what I was going to say after I read all the comments. Perfectly stated. I don’t think there is any correct way to ask people if they are planning to throw you a party and give you gifts. I don’t see why this should be any different because it’s taking place at work as opposed to going to your friends and family and saying, “So, when’s my shower?”

    10. Gaia*

      I fought this fight and won at my workplace. In 3 years five women and two men have been married. When the first man was married I happened to be in the group that planned events so I naturally began planning a shower for him and his spouse to celebrate (as we always do for the women). So many people were surprised. Frankly, that made no sense to me. While I may not throw a shower for a man in my social life, we don’t treat men and women differently at work. If you give showers to the women, you give showers to the men.

      1. Funfetti*

        I think this is all terrific – however, I have less than grand office culture story.

        At my office, there’s no rhyme or reason to showers being thrown (baby or wedding). It seems it has fallen to the department or supervisor to handle. And then only select people are invited. We’re only a staff of 50 – but I guess that might be still too big. Also as we’re in the performing arts, gender/orientation definitely does not play a factor in who gets celebrated.

        Anyway, I got married a year ago and got nothing. Saw a million other showers in my first year on the job – but got squat. Since it falls to the boss/department – and I’m an army of one (no support staff) and my fellows in my department I wasn’t that close with at the time. My boss got me a card, but no one rallied or threw me a shower.

        It hurt a little – but I had a lot of family/personal celebrating through the entire summer. So I just chalked it up to being too new for people to care and at the end of the day work is work and my family and friends gave me plenty of thank you notes to write. And in moments of pettiness I blame my boss for being a guy and not “getting it” and the drama of his subordinates for not wanting to invest their time in me.

        The whole situation taught me to be cognizant of office culture and since I will be supervisor soon, to be more respectful of cultural norms.

      2. Temperance*

        My husband’s former workplace had a happy hour and gave him a very nice group gift and card with a GC in it. (The gift was a very nice set of beer tasters, and we use them all the time.)

    11. I'm Not Phyllis*

      I came here to say something similar, but you said it better than I could! It doesn’t sound like this is the case in OP’s office, but many offices shy away from showers these days (wedding and baby) because in some cultures it is considered bad luck to celebrate something before it happens. In the past few places I’ve worked for, this has been the case. But if it’s something OP wants, he should speak up because I agree – the circumstance is a bit different.

      And congratulations OP4!

    12. irritable vowel*

      I think the reason your officemates haven’t thought to give you a shower is because you’re a man, and typically wedding showers are given for women (as others have stated). You may be the first gay men to be getting married in either of your offices, and so there isn’t a previously established protocol. Therefore, even though normally it might be considered rude to hint around about a party for yourself, in this case I think you not only need to do this if you want to be given a shower, you can help set a precedent for future GLBT+ members of the staff.

      So, I’d say either go directly to the person (if there is one) who plans showers/birthday parties/etc. and just be frank. Say, “I know folks here might not have considered throwing me/us a shower because I’m a man and that isn’t how things are traditionally done, but since there is no ‘bride’ in our case, we didn’t want to feel left out!” Or alternatively, mention something along these lines to the office gossip, and he or she will make sure your feelings are known. Third option, you ask someone who you’re friendly with in the office to make it happen, if you’re not comfortable being so “demanding” (which you’re not, of course, but I know you might feel awkward).


    13. Stranger than fiction*

      My mother attended her first ever couples wedding shower about two years ago, and it was all she could talk about for weeks afterward. How modern and progressive they were, etc. But she’s nearly 80, so definitely from the “showers are fir women” era.

    14. Anna*

      I have been guilty of this myself (throwing a women only shower) and now that I’m a bit older and wiser, I would definitely go a different route.

      I am also right this moment feeling giddy about two of our male students openly having a relationship and so my view can be a bit skewed.

    15. OP #4*

      Thanks for the advice, everyone! I have a few clarifications, and I’ll try to go down the thread if I see anything I haven’t answered. The office showers are work-sponsored. We have a quarterly office-sponsored birthday gathering, but showers appear to be left up to the manager/admin for each department. I’m in a fairly small department (we’re an organization of ~900, I’m on a de facto team of 1, but about 8 of us report to the same manager). My boss is coming to the wedding, he’s approved my time off, and he hasn’t asked me to keep any time open or anything that might hint that a surprise is coming.

      That feeling of gift-grabbing is 100% the reason why I haven’t said anything yet. We have a small registry and honeyfund set up for our wedding guests but we’re really not trying to solicit gifts. In this office and my last one, I have been invited and asked to contribute to others’ wedding and baby showers in the past year, but they have been all women. My last office actually did have a shower for a (straight-identified) husband-to-be, but it’s admittedly still pretty rare. Our organization prides itself on being open-minded and diverse, so I’m rounding their response down to oblivious rather than malicious. It does hurts that there are such open celebrations of others’ life events here, but no recognition of mine.

      1. Alex*

        Even though it is obliviousness vs maliciousness, I understand why it would bother you. When I was in nursing school, one of the men in my class was expecting a child and it was actually really refreshing to see one of the other students suggest putting together a baby shower for him. I don’t know how to approach your situation in such a way that doesn’t appear gift grabbing.
        The only general advice I can think of is if someone sees that some people’s life events are getting celebrated but not others is to gently point it out to the people that plan this stuff so that the person that is experiencing the life event doesn’t have to be the one to broach the subject.

      2. Rusty Shackelford*

        The office showers are work-sponsored. We have a quarterly office-sponsored birthday gathering, but showers appear to be left up to the manager/admin for each department. I’m in a fairly small department (we’re an organization of ~900, I’m on a de facto team of 1, but about 8 of us report to the same manager). My boss is coming to the wedding, he’s approved my time off, and he hasn’t asked me to keep any time open or anything that might hint that a surprise is coming.

        Okay, with this info… yeah, it definitely wouldn’t be rude to ask about your shower, but it would still feel weird. And I wonder if the fact that you’re a “team of 1” has something to do with it as well. Does your manager ever get involved in planning showers? If not – if everyone else has a large enough team that someone enjoys that role – it might be that it just hasn’t occurred to him that HE is the one who needs to do this. Maybe he expects the other 7 to do it, and they expect him to do it.

        Which doesn’t make it suck any less.

      3. why yes, another fed*

        Since you’re not looking for the gifty side of this celebration, can you ask from a “woot! free ice cream and cake” perspective? It’s really common in my workplace that folks bring a treat on their birthday to share, so the focus is more about the joy of celebration instead of logistics for getting it all together.

        Since you’re a team of one, can you just say “Hey Admin, what’s the budget for these wedding shower parties? I was going to order [insert popular tasty item from scratch bakery/catered lunch] for the team next week since I’m the only one in the teapot cozy division. Would this get charged XYZ budget?” Hopefully the admin person will recover quickly and find someone else to host, but I agree that in the absence of a rigid tradition, it may be that you fell through the cracks. Best advice is not to take it personally, but I know it doesn’t feel that way.

        Congrats on the nuptials!

      4. Puzzled*

        As the bridal showers are and have been only for women at your workplace, it’s best to just accept that.
        Otherwise you’re expecting special treatment not equal treatment.
        Straight guys don’t get bridal showers there so why should you?

        1. Cat Steals Keyboard*

          Or you could say that bridal showers at OP’s work are for people marrying men so OP should totally get one?

  7. Stellaaaaa*

    #3: You’d be surprised at the widespread struggle to write in a fluid, fluent, and concise manner. I used to tutor at my university writing center, and even when I said, “Say it out loud and then write it down word for word. We’ll clean it up later,” soooooo many people just couldn’t get a good grip on it. It’s something of a “translation” issue. In fact, most of my professional jobs have evolved into me being the person who composes important emails or public blog postings. My superior will say, “Write about this, tell them this, make sure such-and-such idea is in there somewhere,” and it’s my job to get it all down in a way that’s logical and easy to understand.

    1. Jerry Vandesic*

      Beyond strong writing skills, I think it also means that you enjoy writing and are good with the process of writing. A blank piece of paper does not frighten you. I know that I agonize over the process of writing on command, and would never take a job that where generating the written word was a major component of what I did.

      1. OP #3*

        OP 3 here: Good points. Do you think that jobs that ask for a candidate with strong communication skills are looking for someone who enjoys writing? Most of the people who have responded to my question mention the importance of writing emails (which I would be comfortable with) but being asked to write a blog post or take on an open ended writing assignment would definitely stress me out. I would like to find a job that doesn’t require writing as a major component, it just seems like most jobs ask for someone who is a strong communicator and I am scared that they would expect me to be able to write effortlessly and creatively. What field do you work in?

        1. Purest Green*

          I think this is heavily dependent on what field and position you’re applying to. If you’re looking for entry level roles in IT, STEM, healthcare, science, and the like, then I imagine strong communication = speak and email clearly and professionally. If you’re looking for entry level in government, HR, or education then you might need a slightly higher level. And obviously roles in communication like advertising, marketing, PR, and publishing will require the highest level of communication skills.

          Obviously there’s variation in every field, but if your education and background never focused on English or communications classes, then I think you’re probably safe from writing being a major component of the roles you’re applying to.

        2. LaurenB*

          I am not in a technical field so maybe that skews things, but I literally cannot think of the last time I saw a job ad that didn’t have some kind of mention of strong communication skills. I am also in a field where most positions are unionized or at least connected to some level of government, so there are more regimented hiring processes in place. At this point I assume that the line is there to give the hiring committee permission to discard otherwise qualified people whose cover letters are riddled with spelling mistakes or who can’t string a coherent thought together in the interview. For better or for worse, I tend to assume it can also be a way to to draw a line in the sand regarding non-native English speakers, without explicitly saying so.

          Unless it’s obviously a writing job (in the fields Purest Green mentioned, for example), I would assume your skills as demonstrated above are more than sufficient.

        3. all aboard the anon train*

          I don’t think it necessarily means someone who enjoys writing. More someone who, if asked to write a report for a project they worked on or a presentation for a product or about their team, they could do so in a clear, concise manner. There’s a lot of people who have no idea how to construct a sentence or paragraph in the business world and I think companies are looking for people who they don’t have to teach to communicate.

          In some cases, they might be looking for someone who can communicate about a technical or specialized topic when talking to people who aren’t familiar with that topic.

        4. Cassie*

          I wouldn’t say that “strong communication skills” needs to mean that the candidate likes writing. It depends on the specific position, but it doesn’t even necessarily means there is a lot of (or any?) formal writing. For me, it just means the person is able to write emails and speak in a clear and concise way. No rambling, but not overly abrupt and cold too. It’s a little like Goldilocks.

    2. Blurgle*

      Written and spoken language are handled differently by the brain, so much so that speech production is thought to occur in a different part of the brain than speech perception or perception/production of written language. (This may be why even the most talented writers are no more likely to possess the gift of the gab than anyone else.) Getting someone to produce speech to help them produce text isn’t going to work. It would be like teaching someone to play baseball by having them hold the bat in their feet.

      1. Cat Steals Keyboard*

        Not true, actually, and I speak as a writer/researcher. What you’re missing here is what happens after you’ve spoken; it’s a way of clarifying what you want to say so you can then write about it more easily. More importantly, it’s a way of conceptualising how to write in plain English. Lots of people can speak clearly but then they write badly (clunky phrasing, too much jargon). It’s often a surprise to those people that plain English means writing as if you’re speaking, and it can help those people write more effectively in my experience.

        1. FiveWheels*

          With the caveat that spoken English is often somewhat muddled, uhm, repetitive and err people can sort of, like, repeat themselves? Yeah it’s eh not always *coughcough* that spoken Engilsh is more good for what you need at being clearer.

        2. Cassie*

          I keep trying to tell people this, when they ask me to write for them (e.g. parents, sister, coworkers) – just write down what you would say and we can fix it up afterwards (if needed)! I think they think written English needs to be formal but it doesn’t.

    3. OP #3*

      OP 3 here: Thanks! Did your transition into writing important emails/blogs happen organically or did you pursue those responsibilities? I write fairly well but I wouldn’t want the responsibility of writing longer pieces (and if I was asked, I would want someone to check it and collaborate with). When you write a piece, does someone check it?

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Loads of jobs will list this requirement without being jobs that require longer pieces. You can probably figure out if it includes that from the responsibilities, but if not, you can always ask in the interview.

      2. Koko*

        My job didn’t initially involve writing long pieces but ended up involving that, specifically because I volunteered for a long piece here or there and eventually my supervisors realized I could write well and started asking me to do more. They eventually several projects that had historically been outsourced to a freelance writer and reassigned them to me. They definitely wouldn’t have made that shift if I hadn’t volunteered for those initial pieces or had not done well with them. Especially for public communications, it’s unlikely an employer is going to risk throwing an unproven writer into the deep end on a piece that everyone is going to see.

    4. Lucie in the Sky*

      I was actually shocked when I learned that a former coworker used to spend 30-60 minutes writing a simple one paragraph email. She frequently agonized over word choice which was interesting because for her role she was mostly confirming information / following up on items as a program manager.

      1. Plaster*

        I do this and am a linguist/writer in work and for play. It’s anxiety, not actually trying to figure out what to say. Being so aware of the connotations of every word and phrase can be hell sometimes when it combines with anxiety about how people view you. :(

        1. OP #3*

          That’s exactly it! Anytime I have to write something, even comments in this section, it takes me time because I want to make sure it’s good. Any tips for quelling the anxiety?

      2. TealFannnery*

        I do this sometimes too. Often it’s paring down an email from 3 – 5 paragraphs down to 1 sentence, but that takes time. Also, as someone who is probably autistic, I have to double check the connotations of each word so as not to offend.

        If I wrote organically/naturally, every 3rd email would upset the ethos orientated co-workers.

    5. Stranger than fiction*

      I feel like I used to have much better written comm skills, but over time they’ve become rusty. Partly due to the more casual style of my current workplace, and partly due to my own laziness and complacency. Literally right before I read the letter, I had just fired off a terse email to a vendor that was making excuses. My bosses were copied so I figure they’ll let me know when I’ve crossed a line. All that to say, dont be m and keep your skills sharp. Because if I ever have to leave this job for a more professional offiice environment, I’m SOL.

  8. Dan*


    Sometimes I think the statement “strong writing skills” is a bit of a misnomer. I see that statement plenty in job descriptions for technical or analytic roles, were the primary skill is to crunch numbers. These fields tend to draw many candidates for whom English is not a first language, and they have pretty poor writing skills. In these cases, they’re not looking for “strong” skills as opposed to passable ones. Have you ever read an email from someone and you had no idea what they wanted or did? That’s bad writing, avoid that.

    No matter what kind of job you have, you will have to communicate via email to your boss, your coworkers, and potentially clients. If you don’t email clients directly, you will likely be responsible for certain written materials.

    I’d say that one bit that AAM left out is to know your audience, and understand what level of background and detail is appropriate for that piece of communication. If you write too much, people will miss the meaning of your communication. If you write too little, people will not understand the context of your comments.

    1. Government Worker*

      This. I work in a sprawling organization and I sometimes get frustrated with interacting over email with a) a few of the non-native-English speaking staff in our IT department, and b) some of the people who were hired for blue collar field jobs with no writing required but have been promoted to a point where they use email a lot. Many people in both of these groups do just fine, but there are a few whose emails are a step up from completely unintelligible.

      I tend to be overly critical of my own writing skills – I know a lot of lawyers who write briefs and memos all day and a few people who make their living as writers, and I don’t think by those standards I’m a good writer. You’d never wax poetic about the style of my prose, for sure. But compared to others in my technical grad program or at a lot of my jobs, my ability to write fluid, readable English fairly quickly and easily has been a huge plus. My grad school thesis advisor was thrilled to edit my thesis because he could focus on content rather than making lots of typo and grammar edits, which was not the case with many of my classmates.

      1. OP #3*

        OP 3 here-I really appreciate your comment. I’ve started job searching and it feels like every other position requires strong communication skills. I am confident in my ability to write clear emails and I’m pretty sure I would be able to complete pretty straightforward writing assignments but like you I am VERY critical of my writing skills. I wouldn’t want a job that requires me to create content and up to this point I interpreted “strong communication skills” as comfortable and able to write any/all sorts of content effortlessly.

        1. CAA*

          As a hiring manager who has asked for candidates with good written and oral communication skills, I can tell from your writing here that you have easily cleared the low bar that I am trying to set with this requirement. You just wrote four straightforward sentences that communicated your thoughts in a way that any native English speaker, and most ESL speakers, would understand without additional parsing. That’s all I’m really looking for.

          When I’m trying to fill a position such as a Technical Writer, where a significant amount of the work is producing written output, I phrase the requirement differently and I ask for samples.

        2. Marty Gentillon*

          Writing decent long form articles isn’t too different from writing emails. If you want to do really well, work on your editing skills. It also helps to get your writings edited by the pickiest editor you can find: someone who usually needs a blood transfusion after they are done. (You can identify good prospects by their fondness for red pins.)

          Personally, I would recommend reading a good style guide, something like Strunk and White’s “The Elements of Style”, or William Zinseer’s “On Writing Well,” (but don’t take them too seriously, White is a bit overly perceptive.) If you are at all comfortable with these, you will be better than most people.

          (Also, from what I have read, you shouldn’t have any real problems.)

          1. Marty Gentillon*

            Also, I am always on the lookout for good, entertaining style guides. If anyone has more suggestions, thanks in advance.

  9. Ixnay Edfray*

    #2 You could have hired Stephen Hawking, but nooooooooo, you had to go with those lesser minds. You missed your opportunity. /s

  10. Bruce H.*

    #2 I’m reminded of the story about the newspaper columnist who would return letters like this with a note: “Just thought you should know some idiot is sending out nonsense over your signature.”

    1. Blurgle*

      That actually happened, but the sender was in the front office of a pro football team. A lawyer wrote the team a pompous, overwrought letter claiming that giving fans paper from which they could make paper airplanes would result in someone losing an eye. A staffer in the front office wrote exactly that back – and almost lost his job over it.

    2. Cat Steals Keyboard*

      That’s amazing.

      Op, keep this email. When this great mind is finally recognised for its brilliance you can have fun posting it online…

  11. Blurgle*

    #2 – I’d be itching to send Lord Brain* information on donating his body to the Faculty of Medicine.

    *I kid you not, there was a Lord Brain. He was Britain’s greatest neurologist.

    1. Jules the First*

      We also had a Lord Chief Justice Judge, for a while – because the man who held the office of Lord Chief Justice (sort of like the head of the supreme court) was one Mr Judge…made me giggle immaturely every time.

    2. Anon for This*

      I live in a city with a Dr. Richard Head who goes by the diminutive of his name.
      So yes, there really is a Dr. Dick Head who practices medicine :-).
      Makes me laugh every.single.time, I hear it.

      1. Hiding so you can't guess where the person lives*

        There was a lawyer here called Richard Wacker. I’m going to let you parse that one yourselves.

  12. Erin*

    #4 Reminding (basically practically asking) someone to throw a party to honour you? What would Miss Manners say?

      1. MMDD*

        It doesn’t matter that OP is homosexual in terms of whether or not they should ask to have a party thrown in their honour. If someone at my office asked us to throw them a shower, no matter who they were marrying, they would be met with some serious side-eye. Now, would it be horrible if OP didn’t get a shower because of who they’re marrying? Well yes, obviously. But there’s no way of knowing if that’s the case and asking for a shower is going to be seen as incredibly tacky.

        1. Gaia*

          If your office was throwing parties for heterosexual couples or women but not homosexual couples or men, your entire office should be met with some serious side-eye. That is bigoted and wrong no matter how you slice it (gender or sexuality).

            1. Anna*

              The point is that if it takes someone in a male same-sex relationship having to remind or ask about a shower, then them hinting around about it is not the biggest faux pas. It would be ignoring another couple’s celebration simply because of their gender that would be the larger rudeness.

          1. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

            Seriously…even as someone who often quotes Emily Post, works in the South, and spends my days correcting the way people address envelopes, I can’t imagine people being offended by this query.

    1. Allison*

      I think Miss Manners would have a serious problem with only women getting wedding showers at work. It’s 2016, if a man wants a half hour of cake and best wishes before he gets married, he should get a dang cake and some best wishes!

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      As I said in a comment above, it’s different because it’s work. The assumption is that of course work doesn’t want to leave one person out, whereas it’s considered impolite to assume that of course your friends want to throw you a shower.

    3. CMT*

      Etiquette is not immutable law of the universe. Miss Manners was written in a certain time, place, culture, and for a certain demographic. (It most certainly wasn’t written for 2016 work places.) Trying to make everybody follow your idea of etiquette regardless of context is a fool’s errand.

        1. Anna*

          Sure, but most of the things people refer back to with Miss Manners are things written in the 50s. Such as this right here about asking about a shower instead of just shutting up and smiling politely.

          1. Oryx*

            Well, Miss Manners didn’t start writing her column until the late 1970s and is very current and up-to-date now, in 2016. I suspect, like Alison said, you are speaking of Emily Post.

    4. doreen*

      In the case of employer-sponsored showers , what Miss Manners would probably advise is to enlist a friend, so that Fergus asks ” Hey boss, what are we doing about Wakeen’s shower? ” But only for employer-sponsored showers- not for those organized and paid for by work buddies.

  13. Blueismyfavorite*

    I wonder whether asking about the shower is the best course. A shower is something friends do because they want to, not because they’re under any obligation to do so. You’d never throw yourself a shower or ask someone to throw one for you so it seems a bit odd to question someone about whether they’re throwing you a shower.

    1. SS*

      If the workplace norm is to throw a shower for anyone getting married then yeah, they are under an obligation to treat their colleague/employee the same way they’ve treated everyone else.

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        I would think that it really depends on whether the showers are official company events or voluntarily coordinated by the employees on their own. At my organization, they are the latter and management can’t force employees to spend their own personal money on an employee just because they have done it for other employees.

        I am not a lawyer, though, and could be incorrect about this.

    2. Troutwaxer*

      This may require some intelligent hint-dropping. I have no idea how to phrase it, but someone might…

      1. chickabiddy*

        If you have an ally at the office, you could have him or her get the discussion started. FWIW, my experience has been the same as a poster upthread in that I have only been invited to showers (wedding or baby) for women. I’m not defending that practice but agree that if there isn’t a shower in the works that may be why, and that enlisting someone who could say “that’s not fair!” might be necessary.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          Because it’s not purely an equality issue. It’s also an etiquette issue. It’s not considered polite to ask someone to give you a shower. And in this case, it opens the LW up to people calling him gift-grabby instead of realizing that their practices are discriminatory, since that’s a more convenient and comfortable reaction for them.

          1. Isabel C.*

            Yeah, it’s a bit of an awkward split. I mean, if the co-workers don’t throw a shower for the OP, it indicates some pretty awful things about them (thoughtlessness at best, bigotry at worst) but asking about it is normally not a thing people do–*unless* the convention at the workplace has in fact been for people to be involved in planning for their own showers.

            An ally would be awesome. Otherwise, I do think that equality is more important than conventional etiquette. Maybe if there’s a way to mention, oh, if you guys are doing a shower, you should know that I won’t be in on XYZ days, or whatever awkward-but-not-directly-asking phrasing you can think of would help.

            1. doreen*

              If we’re talking about co-workers (not the employer) not throwing a party , there’s another possibility that’s not really awful. All parties where I work are organized and paid for by the employees, not my employer. Wedding showers , baby showers, retirement parties, good-bye parties when someone is promoted or transferred. Not everyone gets a party- because not everyone has work friends who are into party organizing. I don’t just mean that some people don’t have work friends (although there are certainly some of those) but some people aren’t into organizing parties. I’ve been to loads of retirement parties, but I’ll be shocked if I have one because I’ve never seen the people I’m closest to organize a party.

          2. Gaia*

            Social etiquette is not a thing in the workplace. Professional etiquette is and professional etiquette demands equal treatment among genders and sexualities. So yea, I’d ask about the party in a very matter of fact manner.

            “I know we usually do parties when people here get married and I just wanted to talk through the details with you early on since I’m getting married on [insert date].”

      2. Case of the Mondays*

        What if they phrased it around wanting time off? They could go to the usual party planner and say “hey, I’ll be taking a few days off here and there to handle some wedding planning stuff. I know you tend to throw showers around here and I don’t want to mess anything up for you. If there is a day you need me to be here, just let me know.”

    3. Nerdy Canuck*

      But there’s a difference between someone’s friends throwing them a shower, and their workplace doing it. If the workplace has a tradition of doing this, it might even get into legally sketchy territory if they don’t…

      1. AFT123*

        Yea, this is so odd to me… I’ve never worked somewhere that threw showers for people regularly. I guess it’s a nice thing to do, though personally, if it were up to me, I wouldn’t like the workplace throwing showers. Seems to cross the boundary of personally vs. professional in my opinion. A card passed around and signed would be a sufficient recognition.

      2. Anna*

        It gets even weirder when you consider that sexuality is not a protected class under Federal laws and in most states. So it could come under gender or sex as a protected class, but I would need a really good flow chart to figure out if it would be an EEOC issue.

      3. Lissa*

        Yeah, really — I don’t think that “asking somebody to throw you a party” is the issue here compared to “possibly discrimination.” Honestly I think it is quite likely that it did not occur to the higher-ups to do it — likely because those getting married are men, rather than because they are a same-sex couple. I think not bringing it to anybody’s attention because the social etiquette says it’s rude makes no sense.

  14. Drew*

    OP#1: Congratulations on your first professional setback!

    That sounds snarky, but it really isn’t intended to be. Everyone makes mistakes at work and the key is to learn from them. You seem very willing to treat this not as an unforgivable error but a chance to do better, and that is absolutely the right approach to take. A good boss will help you through the process, understanding that this is your first post-college job and a lot of things may not be obvious to you yet, like saying, “I’m overwhelmed; can we shift some work around?” It’s not like homework, where it all has to be done and you’re being graded on your own performance. A lot of people who work out repeat an exercise until they can’t complete a set of reps, and treat that as the benchmark for next time. (Note: not a personal trainer. Do not take this post as official exercise advice. Seriously. Major couch spud here.) It’s not failure, it’s recognizing your limits. And, over time, you will push those limits farther and farther out. Best of luck to you!

    OP#2: I’d let them all go, even the best mind of the 21st century. It would be kind to try to lead these horses to water, but I have a feeling you probably have better things to do.

    OP#3: “Strong written communication skills” means “When I get your email, I know exactly what you’re telling me and what you need me to do with it.” That is literally all there is to it. Having said that, correct spelling and grammar goes a long way toward helping comprehension, and you should always strive to pay attention to the details, but don’t get bogged down in saying something exactly right, especially if you aren’t in a role with writing as a main responsibility.

    OP#4: Congratulations to you and your fiancé!

    1. OP #3*

      OP 3 here- Thanks Drew. Question: if you were to take a job at a new company, how soon after you start do you think they would ask you to write an email? Would there be time to get a feel from other people as to what the tone should be and the style? Full disclosure: I am a bit of a perfectionist and I am very nervous at the thought of going out into the work world. I am fairly comfortable writing emails but I tend to overthink the process and I’m scared I would either take too long or that I would make a mistake.

      1. fposte*

        Depends on the position, but emails aren’t generally something where people would feel a need to on-ramp you, so it’s likely to happen pretty fast in most jobs–for me it’d be the first week if not the first day, because my jobs involve a lot of emailing. You’d usually be able to ask your manager for some guidance on formality and sensitivity.

      2. Naomi*

        I think you are probably overthinking it. The very first e-mail you write at your new job probably won’t be something you’re “asked” to write, like a formal e-mail to a client or something like that. More likely you’ll need to e-mail someone a basic question about your work responsibilities, or respond to an e-mail someone else sent you. For that sort of message (internal and relatively informal), you just need the basics: polite, grammatical, and gets your message across. And no one will really care if you slip up and make a minor typo. If you’re concerned about getting the tone right, take your cues from the office culture in general, and where it sits on the spectrum of casual vs. formal.

        1. Meg Murry*

          Yes, I agree with this. For an entry level/lower level position, chances are most of your initial emails would be internal to your team, or to HR or IT, etc. Most of the time, you aren’t going to be asked to just fire off an email to a client without first having seen some examples of how others communicate with clients (being cc’d on emails, etc) or your boss might ask you to draft an email and send it to them to review before sending it to a client.

          I’m also in agreement with others that “strong communication skills” doesn’t necessarily just mean written – it also means that you are capable of explaining work that you have done in a clear manner, or being able to politely ask questions to get more information. For instance, there are some people out there who are brilliant at conducting scientific experiments, but are terrible at writing up those results in a way that someone that doesn’t have a PhD in their field could follow. Or sometimes that any human being could follow without crazy mental gymnastics. No one is looking for the great American novel or anything especially poetic – just something that gets the point across without a lot of head scratching or re-reading.

          I think it’s fair to say that if the job duties don’t explicitly say “write blog posts” or “write marketing copy”, etc, that they are looking for basic day to day communication, which it looks like you are able to do based on your posts here and what you originally wrote to Alison about (assuming she didn’t heavily edit what you sent her before posting it here).

      3. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

        At my current job, my first email was sent on my first day, and it was something along the lines of “The completed spreadsheet you requested is attached. Please let me know if any changes need to be made.”

      4. Jaydee*

        I’m sure it depends on the position, but in most office jobs I imagine you would be sending/receiving emails within the first few days. Most of the time you aren’t going to be asked to write a full-fledged memo on teapot handle design. Most will be:

        “OP#3, here are some links to teapot handle design articles I would like you to read before the design team meeting on Thursday. – Jane”

        Thanks for the articles. I will look them over before the meeting. 9:00 am in the north conference room, right?


        “Hey OP#3, Welcome to the office! Lucinda, Wakeen, and I are going to Tacos Tacos Tacos for lunch today. Wanna come with? Meet at Wakeen’s cube (across from the copy room) at 11:45. – Fergus”

        “Thanks for the invite, Fergus. I’ve heard good things about Tacos Tacos Tacos. See you at 11:45. – OP#3”

      5. Drew*

        Pretty much what everyone else said. Email is so common now that I suspect you’ll be told “send an email to Fergus to set up a meeting” or whatever as soon as you’re done reading the employee manual — or earlier. I wouldn’t worry much about office style right out of the gate; stick with Joe Friday (“Just the facts, ma’am”) and that’s enough until you get a feel for how other people write emails.

        Everything you’ve posted here makes me think that you’ll do fine and have nothing to worry about unless you’re working for the Scrooge of the writing world.

  15. Cat Steals Keyboard*

    Re 1: “As a result, my non-core work responsibilities are being reduced until I can earn them back.”

    Is that what they said, or how you’ve taken it? Only I can’t help wondering if you are being penalised – which is how you seem to have taken it – by having enjoyable tasks taken off you, or if they’ve just quite rightly reduced the workload of someone who got overwhelmed? Taking things off your plate is the right thing to do.

    I’m sorry you’re so worried and anxious. It sounds like this has changed your perception of who you are? But you are still the same person you were yesterday. We are all human, OP. We can all make mistakes.

    What’s missing from your current plan is self-care. Don’t focus on furiously trying to prove yourself at the expense of self-care. It will backfire as you will burn out. And actually I think you’re kind of repeating the same thing in that you are again focusing on trying to do as much as possible without asking for help.

    What you need to do is try to be more aware of what’s going on – if you realise you’re struggling think how you can solve that. Set some realistic goals. And take good care of yourself.

    It’s time to forgive yourself. I bet all those of us who have been in our careers for a while have had an experience like this. We all make mistakes OP. You are still you. You aren’t a failure. You’re just human.

    1. Cat Steals Keyboard*

      PS it’s so common for people to have an experience like this that lots of interviewers will routinely ask about a time when you missed a deadline. Please try to be more gentle with yourself.

    2. Bend & Snap*

      The “earn them back” stuck out to me too. Reducing workload to allow you to master skills = a-ok. Framing it as a punishment is not constructive, or the right way to encourage development.

      I used to work at a place that told us there were price tags on our chairs and we were easily swapped out if we made a mistake. Morale was terrible, obviously.

      I hope your manager is framing this as a coaching initiative instead of a punishment.

      1. MK*

        It’s not always one or the other though . I mean, if you hire an admin for the teapot design team and have them assist in designing, and their performance suffers, it makes sense to have them focus on admin work; not to punish them for failing, but not to help them out either. It’s a case of having someone master their core functions before giving them additional responsibilities that will lead to growth. In this sense, Ihe OP might have meant that they have to prove themselves competent for their basic job before they are allowed more high-profile work.

  16. UKJo*

    Op2: I’m in the UK and over here we have personal tutors at uni. They are in charge of enhancing students’ academic and personal development. If it’s easy to find out who the tutor is, and of course assuming there is a similar system in place where you are, I might consider just letting the tutor know about the ruder responses! They could have a more neutral chat about the damage this sort of behaviour could do as students mature… (Also: hah to the greatest mind! Biggest ego too, by the sounds of it…)

    1. Sigrid*

      We don’t have the equivalent in the US, I’m afraid. At most universities, especially the big ones, students are on their own for academic and personal development. Smaller private colleges might have individual academic counselors assigned to each student, but even in those cases they rarely take an active role. There might be some schools that ar exceptions, of course, but in general its ot part of the academic culture in the US.

      1. Jesmlet*

        I went to a school of 10,000 and we each had academic advisers assigned after we declared our major. Nothing crazy, but we met a couple times a year. Sounds like a lot of work to be forwarding all that information though.

    2. OP#2*

      Like Sigrid already said, that’s not a set-up we have here in the US (sadly, because then I could just pass it off to someone else without having to think about it at all!). I’m at a larger university, made up of multiple colleges, and tracking down academic advisers would take a lot more effort than I can really put in at the moment.

      After all, I still have more students to hire! Yay?

  17. hbc*

    OP3: I agree with others that it basically means “passable.” If I ask you to write up a summary of why we’re going with this supplier over another, is it coherent and does it captures all the right points? If you comment code, will others be able to understand your comments? Do your emails pass on the necessary information, versus “My computer is broken” or “Where are you on that project?”

  18. Candi*

    “If you were someone who has always excelled pretty easily until now, you’re going to have be deliberate about getting more comfortable with the idea that that rarely continues for anyone once they’re out of school, even if they were always the Smart One or some other type of golden child previously. That part of your life — where it all comes easily — usually ends once you leave school. That’s okay!”

    Alison, I can not thank you enough for saying this. I’m fairly certain that if someone had told me this ~18 years ago when my life started to go downhill, it would have been one less burden on me -the burden of feeling I’d failed.

    The Smart Kid, the one with good grades (except in PE), the one who could research anything, do anything academic, who could choose not to do a big assignment (in Health) and still pull out a B+ -that was me. It took years and counseling to understand.

    Thank you for telling others that it’s a bit of a bump into a new normal, not failure.

    (To my 17-year-old mind, the assignment being boring and simplistic was justification not to do it. Sigh.)

    1. Gazebo Slayer (formerly I'm a Little Teapot)*

      I went from a high GPA at a fairly demanding college to abject failure at crappy low-level jobs, and was convinced my life was over at 23. Over a decade later, I’m still struggling professionally. Unfortunately there’s not really any advice I can offer except to set your expectations low enough so you won’t be disappointed. This was an extremely painful adjustment for me, but a necessary one.

    2. kylo ren*

      This is me, 100%. I am in my first professional job out of school and while I’m not facing a demotion, I’m not excelling as I should be. On top of it all, I’ve been studying for the LSAT (Law School Admissions Test for those of you in Europe). I took it last year and totally bombed it. I am the type of person who can get an A in a class without really trying, so doing so poorly on such an important exam was and is incredibly difficult to bear. I’m taking it again on the 24th, but I have not been scoring any better despite taking a prep course and studying for months on end. Yesterday, during a bit of a mini breakdown while studying, I called my mom and said, “I really regret having never failed anything. I just cannot handle failure, at all. It’s debilitating.” Even though I wanted to just cry and feel bad for myself, I went on a run, did some yoga, and reminded myself that it’s not what you do wrong, but instead what you do right. Surprise, surprise, I did far better on that practice test than the other one earlier that day.

      tl;dr: Be kind to yourself. It’s okay to mess up. Be positive and just push through. This seems like common sense, but it really isn’t intuitive when you’re a former straight-A’s golden child.

  19. techfool*

    OP1, quit multitasking and put in place a fail-safe checking system. This will reduce your anxiety and thereby improve your performance. The fact that they are giving you a chance means they haven’t given up on you. Try not to worry.
    I use a modified bullet journal, I list tasks and checks for each day and if a day looks too full I move tasks to a different day. Some days I try to leave as free as possible (Mondays!) as they can be so chaotic. I do a final check at the end of each day so I can go home and sleep.
    Consider checking time to be part of the time it takes to do a job, not an optional extra.
    30 years of working and I never needed a “to-do” list but I do in my current job. You never stop learning!

    1. fposte*

      Systems are *huge*. Finding a workflow aid or a process correction is what fixes errors, not just buckling down and swearing to yourself that you’ll be more careful.

  20. Laura (Needs To Change Her Name)*

    #2, I would compile them into an email and forward the lot to career services. At minimum they can develop some programming around “how not to respond when you don’t get the job.” If your institution is like mine, they will probably also try to follow up with individual students for some coaching sessions.

    1. Chocolate lover*

      My career services office already hosts related programs like that, but can’t require students to attend. Nor would they be allowed to to contact those students in that situation. The office is used entirely on voluntary basis.

      1. OP#2*

        Yeah, ours is voluntary as well. I’m definitely keeping everything, though – you never know when you need to bring something back out! Plus, if anything escalates, I have evidence.

  21. Not an IT Guy*

    #1 – This is something I struggle with on a daily basis…the need to be perfect and excel and please everybody. It’s mainly because I’m fully aware that the slightest unintentional mistake can cause me to be permanently removed from the workforce. I’ve also had plenty of managers who never cared how overwhelming my workload was, so I’ve always viewed speaking up as a sign of weakness on my part.

    1. RVA Cat*

      Yikes, it sounds like your employer takes Terminate a little too seriously…they’re not making people swim with the fishes are they?

  22. Roscoe*

    #4 I’m kind of torn on this. On one hand, I kind of get why you may not have one being planned. I’ve never been at an office where a man getting married was thrown a wedding shower. Have your offices have men have showers before you or no? If not, it makes sense to me that people wouldn’t think to plan one for you. While I understand you wanting one, I also do think its a bit tacky to ask for someone to throw you a party to get gifts.

    I honestly don’t know what the “right” call is here. But good luck and congratulations.

    1. NotAnotherManager!*

      This is kind of where I am as well. I generally think it’s very bad manners to ask that someone throw you a gift-giving party, particularly at work as opposed to in a social circle, but I can also see the equality issue at play here and would not want to exclude someone, personally.

    2. I'm Not Phyllis*

      Men and women should both be thrown showers, if showers are thrown at all, in the workplace. Fair and equal treatment all the way. I would normally not advocate asking whether someone is going to throw you a party but in this case, I don’t see the harm in asking when, if it’s a thing that happens in your office when someone gets married.

  23. Creag an Tuire*

    #2: “We were going to hire you, but someone in really weird clothing showed up and told me that you were the best mind of the 21st century, but that only the adversity of losing this job opportunity would force you to achieve your true potential and invent time travel.

    Good luck!”

    1. Lunch Meat*

      “Sorry, we didn’t have the budget to hire that level of visionary. I’d recommend contacting the White House.”

  24. Rusty Shackelford*

    For #2, I’m torn between my belief that people (especially college students) deserve to be educated, and my desire to let these losers skip through college thinking this is the way to do things, and then finding themselves unemployable. Because I’m a mean person.

    1. Allison*

      But in the process, they’ll be sending more e-mails. While they’re in the wrong for doing so, isn’t it worth trying to prevent others from getting that vitriol in their inboxes?

    2. Red Rose*

      I’m also a little torn, because I be shocked if any college student doesn’t know that profanity in business communication is a big no, but ultimately isn’t it in the college’s best interest to have employable, professional graduates? Both the school’s reputation and future alumni donations are at stake here. I’m not saying the OP should be the one to handle this, but it seems schools should have some way to educate students in this area.

      1. OP#2*

        “Both the school’s reputation and future alumni donations are at stake here.”

        And that’s the sticking point for me. I’m really not sure if I’m the person who should really be responding to it all, but I work at a university that’s fairly famous for it’s graduating workforce (something like 85% of our graduates are either in grad school or employed within 9 months of graduation). If our current students think that this is acceptable, then that could severely impact our current and future students. Even if the responses are the sillier “greatest minds” variety.

  25. Oryx*

    I’m so incredibly torn on #4.

    On the one hand, asking someone to throw a party in your honor is against all etiquette and will potentially come across as very gift grabby. Especially since you don’t want gifts and that’s pretty much the very reason showers exists. Ergo, if you don’t want gifts you shouldn’t want or need a shower, making me want to give your desire for one even more of a serious side-eye.

    On the other hand, I’m not clear from the letter if all of the previous work showers have been held for just the women in the office or the men, too. If it’s the former, then by NOT getting a shower the office is exposing some serious discrimination which is most likely entirely unintentional (or, well, at least I hope it’s unintentional) because of the gender conventions around bridal showers.

    In this case, I’d avoid asking directly yourself and, instead, find a co-worker and ally who can do it on your behalf and, if necessary, push back if the lack of said shower is because of your gender or relationship.

    1. fposte*

      I’m no fan of work showers, but I think if you’re going to do them you have to do them for everybody. I also think the work context gives you more leeway for asking generally–I’m okay if people who fear they’ll be left out of the birthday rota check to make sure they’re on that, too.

        1. fposte*

          Yeah, that has a workplace impact. So ordinarily I’m big on the pearl-clutching about asking for your own party/gift, but I’m seeing a loophole here.

      1. Willis*

        I was thinking of the birthday comparison as well. It wouldn’t be weird at all to bring up a birthday if its the office culture to do parties, so it shouldn’t be in this case either.

        Plus, showers at work shouldn’t be big gift-giving affairs…maybe a group gift or people getting small things that are within their budget. But it should mostly just be an opportunity to celebrate together and recognize the person getting married, which makes asking for one look like a lot less of a gift-grab than asking for one in your personal life.

    2. Isabel C.*

      One option might be to find the person who usually organizes these things and say, “Hey, I’d really rather not have gifts at my shower, just cake and well-wishes–can we make sure people know that?” Then you’re averting accusations while bringing the whole thing to people’s attention.

      Not that you should have to sacrifice gifts because people are thoughtless, but.

      1. Joan Callamezzo*

        Oh, I like this wording. And I’m a fan of cake and well-wishes rather than gifts for work celebrations anyway, so this is perfect.

    3. Jennifer*

      I feel the same way. I have DON’T ASK, DON’T GIFT GRAB stuck in my head so hard. Your idea of getting someone else to ask is a good one.

    4. Non-Prophet*

      OP4, I really like the idea of asking a trusted colleague to inquire about the shower on your behalf. It seems like it would eliminate the awkwardness of having to ask the question yourself, and would also allow the would-be shower organizer to save face if they were truly oblivious.

  26. Whats In A Name*

    OP #2 in my mind you have 2 options (maybe 3).

    1.Nicely reply to them all letting them know that while you can appreciate their desire to work in your on-campus job, that their reaction is not appropriate and the moving forward they should use better judgement for any job they apply for – on-campus or off. Depending on how close these students are to graduating let’s just hope they don’t think this is the norm in the working world.

    2. Mention it to their academic advisor. Depending on how your institution works and how they interact with their advisors it might be good for it to come from them…”I heard you applied for an on-campus position…”

    (Maybe) 3. Talk to the career counselor and see if they have any interaction with the students and see if they can coach them. This might be a long shot, though.

  27. HRChick*

    #1 – I was in the same boat as you! My first job out of college was as an HR assistant. The day before Christmas, I was filing when the Director came around and told us that the CEO had given everyone the rest of the day off for Christmas. I was told to leave because I was hourly and they didn’t want to pay me administrative time lol. Unfortunately, I was right in the middle of filing. Because I could not complete it, I locked it in a drawer in the file room, thinking I would go through it after Christmas (it had sensitive information).

    Well, I totally forgot that I put it there. No excuse, I should have been more organized. But it was honest forgetfulness. My boss found the folder of unorganized files and assumed I stuck it there out of laziness. I even got a letter of reprimand in my file :( It was devastating to me because I was trying to hard to be professional, etc. I was young and didn’t know how to explain that it was not maliciousness or laziness, just forgetfulness (although I’m not sure that would have been better).

    Boss randomly reviewed my filing from then on, always making little comments about how she wanted to make sure I didn’t “slip back into bad habits.” Ugh, it was crushing.

    So, I just worked extra hard, volunteered for more assignments, voluntarily took a bunch of development classes, etc. Eventually she lost interest in my filings. Never lost that feeling of worry that I would forget something again, but I let it drive me to hyper-organization.

  28. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

    #1: This is a great opportunity for you to learn a new skill – asking for help. It is hard to do in many situations, but is often harder in a work situation where you feel you are admitting failure. But you aren’t failing if you speak up soon enough! When you start noticing that the work load and deadlines aren’t possible, use the script Alison often gives “I can complete XYZ or ABC by X date, but not ABC XYZ. Which projects should take precedence, which can be put on hold?” or something similar

    #2: I would definitely look at bringing in their program lead – imagine if any of them are applying to grad schools and behave like this again! That would look very bad for your university.

    #4: How does your office usually handle these things? Is it a true shower, with gifts? Or a party with cake and drinks and a card and a gift card/cash? Have any other men received parties? Since you have been invited to these things, I sure hope the men get parties – I’d be pissed if I were constantly asked to contribute to parties and there was no chance of me ever having one. Etiquette obviously dictates that you don’t ask for a gift-giving party to be thrown for you – as that’s tacky and gift grabby. However, if both men and women in your office receive parties, and you don’t, it would be hard to argue that isn’t about your sexuality. If only women receive parties, but men are asked to contribute and attend… that’s a problem in my mind. At my previous workplace, everyone with a major event (wedding, baby, leaving the company) received a mini-party – cake, drinks, a card everyone signed, and a gift card. I can’t really say whether I think you should ask until I know if it is something both men and women receive at your office or traditionally just women.

    1. Meg Murry*

      Also for #1, in addition to asking for help, this is also time to learn to say “No” or “yes, but …” or “that depends, when you need the project complete by?” or “I’m interested, but I need to know more about how long that will take before I can jump on it” or “I’m not available until after I finish XYZ, which is due Friday, is this something that can wait until then?”

      I’m extremely guilty of saying “yes” to projects/tasks that I find interesting, and then realizing that I way overcommitted myself and am going crazy trying to get done all the “have to dos” in addition to everything else I’ve said “yes” to. I also tend to way under-estimate how much of my time is going to be taken up by random things that come up that I didn’t know about in advance, or estimating everything in terms of best case scenarios and not leaving any wiggle room for dealing with issues that come up.

      So it sounds like your boss is stripping back your responsibilities to focus on your core job duties, and will add more of the “nice to have” or growth opportunities back in once you have a handle on those core duties. Please don’t beat yourself up too much about this – if I was your boss I would be as much at fault as you were for putting too much onto the plate of someone relatively new, and not making sure they were actually ok with that workload. And its very possible that you weren’t given clear guidance as to which projects/tasks were things that were mission critical vs things that were “nice to haves”, or whether you needed something to be absolutely beautifully perfect and error free or whether it just needed to be a draft (basically, is this a 1/2 hour task or a 3 day task?), etc.

      You can recover from this. It’s ok to have a little bit of anxiety about this – you don’t want to slip into the “don’t care at all” abyss. But if it’s starting to cause you to stress out or lose sleep, you need to figure out how to balance this. Are you stressed out about disappointing your boss? About missing deadlines? About fearing that there is something out there that you are forgetting about? Figure out where the stress is coming from, and try to develop systems so you can ratchet down that stress level. After all, unless you are a surgeon with someone’s heart actually in your hands, it’s probably not a life or death situation, and it’s important to take a step back and realize that. All humans make mistakes, now you have to figure out how to avoid getting into that scenario again.

  29. AyBeeCee*

    Off topic – is there a ballpark idea of how long it would take Allison to respond to a submission? I submitted something a week ago but thought of an additional related question. I know she can’t answer everything so if she’s not getting to mine I want to try to get it into the next open thread. If she is getting to mine, then obviously I’d rather post it there to get the wisdom of the AMA commentors.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It totally varies. I have some questions that I answer within a few days and others that it takes months for me to get to. You’re welcome to email me and ask whether yours is in the likely-to-answer queue.

    1. Ineloquent*

      Strunk and White is a surprisingly excellent read. Really, though, I recommend spending as much of your spare time as you can reading high quality books in a genre you genuinely enjoy. Over a few years, you’ll acquire an almost automatic sense of how to structure your writing in an interesting and effective way.

      1. Random Citizen*

        Seconding Strunk & White’s The Elements of Style – it is concise, well-written, and incredibly practical (and also cheap! I keep finding 50 cent copies at garage sales.).

    2. Marty Gentillon*

      In addition to good style guides, the most important things are practice and feedback. Write a lot, edit your own work, get the pickiest editor you know to edit your work. These things are how masters are made.

    3. Marty Gentillon*

      I suppose that I also might mention “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” but that is less about writing, and more about communication in general, specifically: what to say.

    4. Drew*

      You may have trouble finding it, but The Gentle Art of Written Self-Defense, by Suzette Haden Elgin, is a mini-master’s course in clear, competent communication (and entertaining, to boot). It’s keyed a bit more toward traditional communication rather than email or memos, but much of what it says is still eminently applicable.

  30. Whats In A Name*

    OP#1 – I had the same struggles; it was actually my 2nd job, 5 years out of college. First time not hitting targets.
    Basically way too much on my plate, couldn’t get the work done, and got reprimanded for it often. The difference was I didn’t have anyone to go to for help. I was the only Ops person in a 40 person sales office doubling as HR/Office Manager/Recruiter/Landlord Liasion/Employee Relations-Quarterly Team Event Planner…

    I admitted my challenges, worked hard without overdoing it (stayed at 45-50 hrs per week) and kept my quality of work up. One thing I did research and ask for them to pay for was a one-day Franklin Covey time management seminar. It was the best thing I ever did and I still use a lot of those today, over 10 years later. Planning my day, and sticking to the plan, was the biggest challenge! That and batching emails.

    It took me about 6 months to work my way into good graces and when I left the company after 3 years I was known as one of the most dependable, quality work producers they had. It passes as long as you learn to adapt.

    So keep your nose to the grindstone, look into ways to help build up your weaknesses without killing yourself to do so

  31. Allison*

    2) Some young people have this idea that as long as they’re “awesome” (wicked smart, super driven, willing to learn, with a great personality), any employer would be lucky to have them regardless of what actual skills they may or may not bring to the table. It might be worth telling these kids that you’re sure they have something great to contribute to certain jobs and workplaces, but you were looking for candidates with a particular baseline skillset they could build from while on the job, and candidates that didn’t demonstrate it on their resumes were not considered. Going forward, the best thing to do is ensure your resume clearly highlights the skills you have that the employer is looking for, and accept that if they don’t have those qualifications, they may not be a good fit for the job no matter how smart they are.

    You’re also within your rights to say nothing.

    4) Generally I’d agree with some other posters that asking for a shower is tacky, but it’s possible whoever handles the showers doesn’t realize they’re being sexist only throwing them for women, or they realize the gender norm is outdated but they also assume men don’t really like or want showers, because they’re associated with women and because it’s assumed men don’t care about the gifts typically given at showers. I’m not agreeing with these assumptions, I’m just acknowledging that they exist. So while it might be tacky to straight-up ask for a party, you could check to see if one is being thrown for you, and if they say “oh that’s only for women,” suggest they re-evaluate that policy and offer the option of a shower to everyone getting married.

  32. Portia*

    I think wedding showers are weird, and they’re even weirder in the workplace. And a shower for half of a gay couple can be a tricky, possibly no-win situation. If they don’t throw the shower because you’re a man, then they could be sexist or anti-gay, but if they do throw one and not for other men in the office, then it’s either showing preference for an employee or singling you out because you’re gay. So they may not know which way is best.

    As a strange anecdote, my husband had a wedding shower at work and I (the bride) did not. In that case, though, I think it had more to do with his relationships with his co-workers, office culture, and also timing – he was working at his job when we got engaged while I started at my job a few months later.

    I’d say first take a harder look at the wedding shower culture at your work and see if they’re thrown just for women or for everyone, then do what Allison suggests and talk to someone you know well who typically plans these events.

    1. I'm Not Phyllis*

      Which is why they should throw them for everybody or nobody at all (unless the person in question objects for their own reasons, obviously). Your sex (or that of your partner) shouldn’t be part of the equation. Even in my personal life I feel icky about showers being a “women only” event because I strongly believe that exclusion is not equality.

      1. Portia*

        Oh I agree! But I also think that showers are not really needed at all nowadays. The reason used to be that the couple needed household goods because they were moving out of their parents’ houses and in together, right? But so many couples already have lived together or have all the household items they need or will get them for wedding presents. I’m also glad my work didn’t throw me a wedding shower, that’s not attention I would have wanted.

        Funny story – when my grandparents got married a long time ago, my grandma’s office threw her a “shower,” but it turned out to be a “bon voyage” party because she was getting married. So they basically fired her for getting married. That is definitely not a wedding shower I would have liked…

        1. Kai*

          Yeah, the main reason I had a shower and a wedding registry was that my family insisted. It’s just one of those traditional events that sticks around.

          That’s pretty insane about your grandmother!

  33. Former Retail Manager*

    #4…Congratulations on your upcoming marriage!

    I am often in charge of planning these sorts of activities at my current job, and I would be willing to bet that the lack of a planned shower is because you’re male. I live in the South so I can’t speak to the conventions/culture of other geographic areas, but in the South, wedding (i.e. bridal) showers are for women. It’s also the same with baby showers. It’s typically thrown for the mother, although it seems that it’s becoming more and more common for both parents to hold a joint baby shower. For what it’s worth, I fully support gay marriage, but if I were planning for the office, it wouldn’t immediately dawn on me to throw a shower for you unless we were close and I knew that you wanted one….simply because you’re a guy.

    One other point to ponder…I’m not sure how open you are about your relationship with your partner. Are you out and proud and will shout it from the rooftops or are you more reserved and keep your relationship private, save for a few co-workers? How open you are about your relationship likely impacts how much attention others are willing to call to it. It’s possible that the person in charge of planning isn’t sure where you fall on this and wouldn’t want to make you uncomfortable by making a huge deal about your marriage and putting you in a position to discuss your relationship in the event that you’d rather keep it private.

    1. OP #4*

      Hi, thanks! I’m formerly of the South, and I think you’re right that it’s because I’m male. My relationship is “out and proud” at work: photo of the two of us on my desk, when conversationally-appropriate I mention “my fiancé Fergus,” and many people on my floor know I’m getting married, know the date, and have asked me specific details about it. Lack of awareness is unfortunately not an excuse I can give myself.

      1. Former Retail Manager*

        That’s great to hear and it’s great that you’re in a workplace where you and your relationship are accepted, unconditionally! I remain in the South and that is soooo not the case here, as I’m sure you remember from your time here.

  34. Pam*


    It is a student job, so you may comfort yourself with the idea that you will only be missing this ‘best mind’ for a few years at most.

  35. MissDisplaced*

    Oh #1, if it makes you feel any better, this kind of thing can happen to even the most seasoned and experienced people!
    It’s very easy to happen when you become overwhelmed by the job, the hours, or even just life.
    Sometimes, this is the fault of the employee, and other times it’s the fault of an organization that simply overloads the workers (such as when layoffs happen, etc. and that extra work gets put on the other workers). All I’m saying, is that it probably won’t be the first or last time in your career that this kind of thing happens–and it’s never fun. Learn from it. Work hard to fix it. As you seem to have a good relationship with your boss, (when you settle in bit again) ask her to go over how you could handle this better should this type of situation arise again in your career.

    The good thing here is that your manager does seem to recognize that this is part of a learning curve of being your first major job out of college and is treating you reasonably and fairly. Keep communicating with her about your duties, and show your willingness to put in the effort and ensure it doesn’t happen again.

  36. animaniactoo*

    OP#2, you could think about something like this:

    “Dear applicant,

    I am responding to your recent communication only because this is a teaching institution, and feel that it is important to advise you of some practical facts about employers and job seekers.

    • Employers receive several applications for a single position. Their job as an employer is to review them and select the applications whose qualifications are the strongest for the role in question, interview them, and hire the ones they feel best match their particular criteria.

    • Often the person who is the best fit for a role is not the one who is the smartest or the most in need of a job, but rather may have the most experience doing a specific task or the strongest overall skill set. Maybe someone can do one task better than they can, but would be worse at three others. It is up to the employer to decide which is the highest priority for them to have in an applicant, based on what they need to have done and how.

    • Expectations of job seekers should reflect this understanding of their chances to be hired for any particular position.

    • Many employers keep records of things that standout to them. Some of those records are responses that are sufficiently off-putting to them that they are sure that the candidate would be a poor employee if they were hired. They keep those records to ensure that they do not hire that person if they apply for a future position. For this reason, you should be aware that your response to not being hired is just as important to your as your conduct throughout the interview process.

    Finally, I would like you to note that the number of disappointed jobseekers is high enough that even the percentage of ones who respond poorly is high enough that I have taken the step of creating this form letter to respond to them.

    I wish you much luck in your future job hunting,

    – OP

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I’d leave this line out:

      Often the person who is the best fit for a role is not the one who is the smartest

      No need to stroke this kid’s ego even more, even if it’s only in her own mind.

      1. animaniactoo*

        Except that it’s not stroking someone’s ego to acknowledge what may indeed be a basic fact (you’re smarter than most people/most of your classmates) while stating that it doesn’t necessarily make a difference here. It gives more weight to the idea that it’s not just that *your* intelligence hasn’t been recognized; and therefore is more likely to be taken seriously for having that avenue of thought cut off.

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          I would phrase it differently, though, as intelligence is one of many factors involved in hiring instead of “not the one who is the smartest.”

          1. ArtK*

            How about something like this:

            “Employers look at many factors when making a hiring decision. Even though a candidate may excel in one or two of these areas, they may not be the best fit for that particular job.”

            While I’d love to snark back at them about being a “legend in their own mind,” I don’t think that there’s a professional way of saying “get over yourself.” I *do* agree with pointing out that being rude or unprofessional in communications can have a lasting effect. Perhaps adding “Employers in the same industry may frequently talk with each other; it’s very easy to get a bad reputation throughout the area.”

    2. OP#2*

      I…actually really like this. Since I spend a lot of time working specifically with student employees, something like this would be fabulous. Thanks! I will have to run a department-specific version by my supervisor.

      1. animaniactoo*

        Oh, you’re very welcome! I’m glad it gives you a basis for what you’d like to do, and I think anonymous_educator might have a good point above about rephrasing the “smartest/intelligence factor” as something to consider when you re-work it for your purposes.

    1. ArtK*

      Great minds don’t have the time or patience for trivialities like grammar and spelling. Lesser folk can take care of those details.

      1. OP#2*

        Well, to be fair, the “best mind” was an international student, so I tend to overlook a lot of the grammar mistakes…but yeah, I don’t think I even noticed that…

  37. ArtK*

    #1 Alison’s advice is spot-on. So is the commenter’s advice; I especially like the suggestion to exercise some self-care. Beating yourself up about this and pushing yourself harder can set you up for more mistakes. As an early boss of mine said “make haste more slowly.”

    For me, the biggest lesson here is in two parts. The first part is learning to recognize when you’re going to miss a deadline. It’s easy to fall into the trap of “if I work OT just one more day on this, I’ll be caught up…” and then finding yourself a week or two behind. The second part is developing the guts to tell your boss this when it’s happening. As a manager, I love hearing that someone is having trouble if it’s early enough to deal with. Finding out the day before a deadline that they’re a month behind is infuriating (especially if we’ve been communicating regularly and the employee just hid the problems.) Yes, there are bad managers out there who don’t want to hear bad things and will get up in your face for it; but that’s because they’re bad managers, not because you’re a bad employee. When you do go to your manager, be matter-of-fact and, please, be prepared with at least one suggestion on how to resolve the problem. “Boss, I’m falling behind on my teapot designs; if I could put off the Teapot Particulation Systems report for a week or two, that would be great.”

  38. WellRed*

    I work for a small company that will throw a shower or give a gift for the person getting married/having a baby, man or woman. We even had a puppy shower for a woman who had a few very bad years and really deserved a small party. I am single and child free and happy to participate, but after several of these in a short period of time I jokingly asked the office mgr when I was getting a shower. “When you get married or have a baby.” Yup.

    1. Isabel C.*

      Heh, yeah. As a committedly-single girl…well, I can be happy for friends and not mind (hey, I figure I get compensated in sleep and getting to pick the Netflix every night), but if a workplace was expecting me to contribute to everyone’s Life Event I Will Never Have, I would become a touch surly.

  39. Aster Z*

    LW #4:
    “We aren’t interested in gifts so much as we want to feel equally celebrated by our coworkers.”

    I’m not sure there’s anything you can do that will accomplish that. If your coworkers organize a shower because you ask about it, you’re unlikely to be able to shake the feeling that they’re attending out of duty but that their hearts aren’t really in it. If they don’t have one, you’ll feel slighted.

    If you really aren’t that interested in the gifts, could you wait until after the wedding to say something? Assuming everyone is excited for you and you were passed over for a shower unthinkingly because your wedding doesn’t have a bride, my guess is that they may have a little work reception for you, and neither you nor they will feel as if anyone had been dunned for presents. No, it won’t feel exactly the same as if everyone had spontaneously treated your marriage as equal in every detail to straight people’s, but we’re in a period of transition in which even good-hearted, supportive people are still figuring expectations out.

    If you’d rather speak up now, I agree with most people that the strictures about not asking your friends for a shower don’t apply here. When events are organized and perhaps held at the work place and during working hours, it’s reasonable to expect them to be distributed equitably.

  40. Photoshop Til I Drop*

    LW #3, learn your homonyms! I can’t stress this enough. Spell check and grammar check can help you with the basics, but you need to know when to use “waste” and when to use “waist”. Only one of them belongs in a lean production report.

  41. Norman*

    (Frankly, you might also consider replying to the profane or insulting ones and saying something like, “I would recommend not sending abusive messages to potential on-campus employers if you hope to apply for on-campus work in the future.”)

    –DEFINITELY talk to your campus’s employment lawyer before sending a note like this that could easily be interpreted as a threat to have the student blackballed from campus jobs.

  42. Barney Stinson*

    I have not had a chance to review all the answers, but I hope that the hiring manager (the one who missed out on the greatest mind of the 21st century) replied to the profanity and inappropriate responses by a) thanking them for the response and b) informing them that their communication will be tacked to their records for the next hiring manager at the organization to review.

  43. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

    Re: the wedding shower

    If this were happening to me, I would ask my work bestie to be my advocate. We’re close enough that I could be really direct with her, and ask her to take some action.

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      That’s probably what I would do too, if I had that option. Even if it’s appropriate to come right out and ask, I’d feel uncomfortable doing it. (Not saying one should, but that I would.)

  44. specialist*

    OP#2: My Alma mater started a required English in business class for its engineering students based on feedback from employers. College is supposed to teach the students, and this is one great opportunity. I would definitely talk to your college about all those nasty letters. Maybe they want you to create a form letter as above. (It’s really good.) Maybe they want to respond individually and put a note in these students’ permanent files. Maybe they have a specific office to handle this. You won’t know until you ask and this is something that is institution specific.

    OP#4: I threw a bridal shower for one of my employees. It was fun and everyone enjoyed it. I would be…..irritated……if one of my employees came up and asked when they were getting their shower. No matter how right you are that you should also be recognized and celebrated, asking for your own party can leave a bad impression. I would rather see you hold a post-celebration party for your work colleagues than ask for them to throw a party for you. You could also advocate for the next person like yourself to get a shower the same as the women getting married.

Comments are closed.