should I tell my boss I’ve had a crush on him, I got in trouble for a private conversation, and more

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

1. Should I tell my boss I’ve had a crush on him?

I have been secretly crushing on my boss, and overcompensating by keeping as much of a polite distance from him as possible. We had a really great connection from the beginning, and our working relationship was so good and so efficient that we referred to each other fondly as work wife/husband.

He is visibly puzzled and hurt by my frosty attitude. He asked me if he had done anything to offend me, and I got so flustered that I went into vigorous denial mode, which only made things worse.

In a few weeks time, I’ll be leaving that job for professional reasons, and it’s highly unlikely that our paths will ever cross again. Before I go, should I come clean with him? I cannot stand seeing the pain in his eyes, and I don’t want to leave him thinking that I hate him.

Ooof. I think telling him about the crush will explain what’s been happening, but will make things Really Really Awkward. What about offering up a vaguer explanation? The thing here is to tell him that there is an explanation, and one that’s not about him, but that doesn’t require a full confession of your feelings.

For example, you could say that you’ve been dealing with some difficult stuff in your personal life (true!) and that you’ve realized that it’s affected the way you’ve interacted with him at work, and that you want him to know that it has nothing to do with anything he did and that you’ve hugely valued the relationship, his mentorship, etc.

Read an update to this letter here.

2. My boss reprimanded me for a conversation with a coworker, but I don’t know what I said

I’m a contract employee at a large company. I recently set up a one-on-one with my boss and he gave me a piece of criticism that I didn’t know how to deal with at the time. He said that he was aware of a conversation between me and a coworker that came off as unprofessional.

I have no idea what was said, who said the inappropriate things, or how it was unprofessional, yet I was taking all of the blame for it even though it was a conversation between two people who may have been saying equally unprofessional things.

This is my first job out of college, so I was so embarrassed to make a bad impression. But I’m also concerned about the fact that my Skype and email conversations are not private. Is that typical, and am I just being naive? (I figure it must have been Skype or email, as then he started telling me to be careful with that kind of stuff because it could get leaked and get you in trouble because “we have seen what happened in the current political climate.” So he was referencing the Hillary leaks, I think.) At the very least, I would have appreciated some heads-up when I started that our information is not private. I was also unsure how to handle it after – I assured him it wouldn’t happen again. Did I need to do more? Or should I just let it go?

In general, you should assume that any communications you make on work resources (email, Skype, Slack, whatever) aren’t private. Even if your company doesn’t go out of its way to review them, they could be discovered when someone is looking for something else (or when your coworker is in trouble and her communications are being reviewed and you’re part of them) or could be discoverable in a lawsuit. You were probably warned about this in your new employee paperwork; there’s usually something there or in the employee handbook that covers this.

It’s hard to say you won’t do something again when you don’t know what it is that you did. Are you able to figure out what it might be about? Have you done any complaining about work, snarking on coworkers, or otherwise had a conversation that you’d be embarrassed if your manager overheard? If so, I’d assume it’s that, especially if there’s been a lot of it. If the answer to that is genuinely no, you could go back to your boss and say something like this: “I should have asked you this at the time but I was so concerned that I didn’t think to in the moment. But I’ve racked my brain to figure out what I could have said that came across badly and I can’t figure it out. I really appreciate your feedback and I want to make sure that I avoid doing the same thing in the future, so could you let me know what happened that concerned you?”

3. Returning to work after a miscarriage

This week, during a routine scan for our first child, my husband and I discovered I’ve had a missed miscarriage (where the baby didn’t develop past a certain point), which will likely result in an operation either later this week or early next.

My manager was the only one of my colleagues aware of the pregnancy (we’d intended on telling people after the scan) and has been incredibly supportive, telling me to take all the time I need, managing my diary, and fending off questions from well-meaning colleagues.

My question is around my return to work; I really don’t want to talk about the reason for my time off (I may in the future but for now it’s just too painful). However, I know my colleagues will be curious about why I was off and will ask questions (because they care, not because they’re looking for gossip), particularly those who’ve had meetings rescheduled.

Do you have any advice on how to manage these questions without bursting into tears and/or sharing way more information than I’m comfortable with?

Oh, I’m so sorry.

Sometimes in this situation, people will have a designated colleague spread the word so that they don’t have to answer questions themselves. That doesn’t need to mean that your boss would share what happened with people if you don’t want her to — but you could ask her to say that you had a difficult family situation that you don’t want to talk about and to explain that you’d appreciate people not asking about your time away.

Read an update to this letter here.

4. Can I ask for my raise to be retroactive?

I accepted a job that paid $45,000 — $5,000 less than the employment agency that I went through told me — because it seemed like a good fit and the manager said they’d do a review at six months. Now I’m in the job and I’m kicking myself for not even trying to negotiate.

At my six-month review, is it fair/standard to ask for a raise plus back-pay (so that it’d be like I was making $50,000 the whole time)? I feel like I’m getting paid less than I’m worth right now, which doesn’t seem fair. I figure, I went along with their sort of six-month trial period at a lower rate, but I should be paid what I was worth for that time if they decide that they still want me around after six months.

No, you can’t do that. That would be like them demoting you and asking you to pay back some of the salary they’d already paid you because now they’ve decided that your work is worth less to them.

Well, it’s not exactly like that, but the principle is more or less the same: You agreed to a rate for your work, and while you can ask that it be changed going forward, you can’t ask that it be changed retroactively just because you regret not negotiating earlier.

It does suck that you didn’t negotiate, but you agreed to their proposal and they assumed you did that in good faith. Resenting them because you’re unhappy with what you agreed to isn’t really fair.

5. Pressured to accept a job on the spot

I interviewed for a job, and literally on my way between their building and the Metro stop, I was called to be verbally offered the job. When I asked for 24 hours to think it over, I got pushback. I got asked why I couldn’t make a decision right then and there. I even modified my request to ask for 6 hours instead of 24, that I’d get back to them at the end of the business day. I still got grilled as to why I couldn’t make a decision right then and there.

So I said no, I’m not accepting the offer, because if I can’t have 24 hours to think it over, that is a red flag to me that something’s wrong with the offer, and the interviewer then said “ok, we’re rescinding the offer because your demands are too outrageous”.

Did I dodge a bullet, or should I have acquiesed?

Bullet dodged. Good employers don’t want to pressure people into taking jobs, because they want people who have made the decision to work there thoughtfully. Bad employers don’t even bother to think about that.

{ 310 comments… read them below }

  1. Katie the Fed*


    “our working relationship was so good and so efficient that we referred to each other fondly as work wife/husband”

    I hope you can appreciate at some point how inappropriate and unprofessional it was for your boss to talk like that.

    I take it you’re not interested in pursuing a potential relationship with him? If not, then definitely don’t say anything.

    1. Noel*

      . . . I think whether or not that’s inappropriate is subjective. I’ve definitely heard people at my current workplace say things like that to each other and, as I work with people who are very quick to say if they’re offended by something, I know they’re not offended by people saying “Work wife/husband.”

      1. Katie the Fed*

        No, it’s not professional if one of them is in a position of power over the other. Especially if the senior one then mopes around like a teenager when his employee stops being as friendly. That’s not ok in a professional environment – think of how awkward it must have been for the other employees as well.

        1. MK*

          Frankly, even if both are on the same level, I am very dubious about “work spouses”. It seems to go beyond having a great working relationship when you refer to a coworker as a partner and suggest that the two of you are a unit with common goals at work, which can get very inappropriate​ very quickly.

          1. Mookie*

            The work spouse thing is mildly — mildly — amusing on television in small doses and from far away, while squinting. Watching people try to re-enact these cutesy scenarios in real life is exhausting, and when they’re not cutesy and mostly flippant, they involve bullying and power trips. I can’t quite grasp how it might feel to do it successfully first-hand, but probably not very satisfying, like most amateur cosplaying. Forming healthy, productive partnerships at work, especially between peers, is fine; basing interactions on a limited number of romantic or sexual parallels, however, demonstrates a startling lack of imagination, speaks to a dearth of real-world experience, or suggests an inability to transcend heteronormativity.

            1. Had Matter's Pea Tarty*

              >basing interactions on a limited number of romantic or sexual parallels, however, demonstrates a startling lack of imagination, speaks to a dearth of real-world experience, or suggests an inability to transcend heteronormativity.

              This is an honest, genuine request to explain because I honestly, genuinely don’t understand. What has heteronormativity got to do with it? (I say this as someone who is not in the least hetero, as an aside.)

              1. Dr Wizard, PhD*

                I’m not the person who wrote that comment, but I think I get it.

                (By the way, for the benefit of other commentors, heteronormativity can be defined as the default presumption that everyone is straight and the societal structures and attitudes that support and result from this presumption.)

                I think they were suggesting that the idea that a close working relationship between a man and a woman leading to the term ‘work husband/wife’ is weird and heteronormative because it draws from the idea that romantic/sexual frameworks are the only way to express that sort of relationship between a man and a woman. It would be far less common for a straight man to describe a close colleague as his work husband.

                It’s … a bit like when young children have friendships with the opposite sex and are immediately teased by their family about their ‘girlfriend’/’boyfriend’?

                1. Random Harvest*

                  To add, it’s like people invoking “family” in professional situations. As in, “oh, we’re like family in this company.”

                  I find it painfully banal and a completely rose-tinted view of what “family” means. But people who say things like that tend to be very earnest and sweet; and it’s difficult when you just want to tell them off like the cynic that I am.

                2. Jesmlet*

                  @Random Harvest: My coworkers are like my family if I actually liked my family… If my coworkers were like my actual family, I’d quit

                3. Random Harvest*

                  @Jesmlet This thread is somehow bringing back bad memories.

                  Years ago, when I was starting out in my first job, my (desperate/divorced) line manager was either having an affair or flirting outrageously with this married woman in a different but related department. For some reason, they decided to “adopt” me like I was the child of their sordid union.

                  It was mortifying. People shouldn’t be role playing family romances in the work place.

                4. Jesmlet*

                  @Random Harvest: That’s so bizarre. I’m not adamantly against surrogate family in the workplace but only if literally everyone consents and benefits (and how likely is that really?)

                5. SallyForth*

                  Thank you for this explanation. I’ve never liked it when people claim a work “spouse” relationship but have never been able to formulate the argument as you have.

              2. Jesmlet*

                Yeah I disagree with the heteronormativity aspect of it as well. I’ve seen same sex pairs refer to each other as work spouses as well. Calling someone your work wife/husband/spouse to me just implies that you do everything together and/or occasionally snipe at each other about little things, and there are plenty of working relationships, power dynamic aside, that mimic this. I don’t love the phrase but it’s pretty damn innocuous if you ask me

                1. strawberries and raspberries*

                  I used to refer to my two best work friends (a man and a woman) as a “polyamorous work wife triad.” Only to people outside the office, though.

            2. Nora*

              I have a very close, sometimes teasing relationship with my cubicle neighbor, but I call him my “work brother” because it feels so much more like that than a spouse. The idea of “work spouse” really creeps me out.

              1. Koko ¯\_(ツ)_/¯*

                I don’t really care either way about the “spouse/husband/wife” language, but for me personally, I tend to just call those people that I work very closely with and whose work is interdependent with mine “my counterpart” if I call them anything at all beyond their name.

            3. Nervous Accountant*

              In my case, we were sniping at each other back and forth and others amusingly said “you argue like a married couple”, definitely no lovey dovey cutesey crap with each other (that to me is ewww).

              “Work spouse” is one of those things that is nice in theory but has potential to go very very wrong….. employees who are peers/side by side = OK…a boss and subordinate, no.

              and idk if it was covered below but the WS thing can be of the same genders..IMO it’s not linked to sexuality, just how well you get along with someone at work.

            4. Liane*

              I agree that Work Spouse is somewhere between “Barely okay in comedies” and “ICK!!” and definitely agree that OP should remain silent. The chances of a good outcome are too slim, charming as the Prudie update was. In that case, there was some time between End of Job and The Crush Chat, plus Prudie OP didn’t make an out of the blue announcement.

              But comparing it to amateur cosplay? It is one of my hobbies and much more satisfying than Work Spouse, imo: I participate with actual family and often for charity or community events.

              1. 1.0*

                hah, I’m glad I’m not the only one who was startled by that; the most fun I’ve ever had at a con was playing D&D dressed as Furiosa, and that was decidedly an amateur cosplay

              2. Mookie*

                Work-themed amateur cosplay, then. All cosplayers I know are serious and professional, damnit!

            5. Liz Lemon*

              Oh, interesting, I’ve always used these terms for that person who, regardless of gender is my go-to person at work. You know, the person you default eat lunch with, the person who takes you for coffee when you’re upset about something, etc. I’m a woman, and I’ve actually only had two coworkers who fit this dynamic, and I occasionally referred to both of them as my “work wife.” I’ve always understood the “work spouse” term to mean “singular platonic relationship.”

              But my social circle and I are pretty invested in shaking up heternormative narratives, so maybe I missed out on this aspect, because now that you describe it, I can see how that would play out and it sounds…annoying.

          2. RobM*

            I am very dubious about “work spouses”

            — I am glad to hear it’s not just me that finds this kind of thing inappropriate. It seems rather creepy to me in fact. It might make for an amusing skit in a TV show, riffing on Mookie’s comment, but other than that, absolutely not.

            The whole “work spouse” thing creates absurd power dynamics and cliques and has no place in a professional work environment.

            1. Myrin*

              Yeah, it’s weird. Admittedly, there is, as far as I know, no expression for this whole concept in my native language so it feels a bit foreign to me anyway but I never seem to understand why it must be “spouse” of all things and not, like, “best friend at work” or similar. One would think that “spouse” immediately conjures up a romantic or even sexual connotation which should be the last thing one should want in a workplace!
              (Although to be honest, I can’t help but read a little bit of coquetry into this phrase anyway, like the whiff of romantic relationship is what makes this expression exciting in the first place, but that might well be because I only seem to encounter it in flirty situations anyway.)

          3. Allison*

            I would feel very weird about my boyfriend calling one of his coworkers his “work wife,” or if his coworkers referred to him and another woman as work husband and work wife, even jokingly. I would worry about the beginnings of an emotional affair.

            1. Lindsay J*


              Honestly, I’ve never seen the phrase used *just* to indicate that two people work well or efficiently as a unit or that they have common goals in mind at work. That would… just be being good coworkers or a good team and doesn’t really have or require a special word. Especially not denoting them as your spouse.

              I’ve seen it to describe an interpersonal dynamic that sort of varies between flirting and bickering, and that involves the two people being tied at the hip at everything they do – eating lunch together, laughing over private jokes, etc.

              And using the phrase just kind of implies a wistfulness to me, along the lines of “I wish they were really my spouse.” If other people were using the phrase I might start looking at his relationship with the coworker a little more carefully. If he were using the phrase I would be uncomfortable about it and have a discussion with him about it and about his relationship with the person.

              (I wouldn’t necessarily ask or want him to cut off his relationship with the person, or even to scale it back. I would be curious though as to whether it was strictly work related, or if it was veering into the emotional affair territory of confiding in her about our relationship, home life, etc. And/or if he happened to be a little bit infatuated with/crushing on her a bit of if he thought that she felt that way about him. If that were the case I would likely ask him to take a step back in his interactions with her. If they just get along well and talk about work stuff and good/innocent homelife stuff and hobbies and joke around, that’s cool.)

        2. Ramona Flowers*


          Boss may be genuinely puzzled by the frostiness but the work wife stuff was not appropriate.

      2. Artemesia*

        It is unprofessional and it often diminishes the reputation of the woman in this sort of relationship. People often assume that it is more than a work relationship and I know of two such relations that did lead to marriage after the divorce in one case, and widowerhood in the other. It always seems to be a young woman and an older man; it is not a good look for a professional woman. I had a relationship like that with a boss — we worked really well together and enjoyed each other’s company — but we NEVER referred to this as ‘work wife/husband’ and were very careful to now do things that would damage our reputations. Both of us were happily married to others.

      3. Katie the Fed*

        To add to my previous response – it’s not a question of people being offended. It’s a question of what belongs in the workplace between a superior/subordinate. Just because it’s not offensive doesn’t mean it’s ok.

        1. Look, a bee!*

          Eh, I dunno. It’s a common term, literally just meaning somebody of the opposite sex (yay heteronormativity!) you are particularly close with at the workplace, with whom you share a strong platonic bond. It means close coworkers more than anything else. I get that in positions with a power imbalance it might imply favouritism which is problematic, but I can totally see a lot of people using the term cos it’s cute and they heard it somewhere without necessarily using it problematically. I don’t think it’s a huge deal. And it’s a term that is applied to both genders (work wife, office husband etc).

          I wouldn’t personally use it as I don’t think it’s necessary but I don’t think it’s a red flag these guys are.

            1. Look! A bee!*

              Yes, I think ‘work wife/husband’ is meant to denote an especially close friendship, kinda like ‘best friend’ but in a professional context. In my experience people rarely have more than one colleague they consider a ‘work wife/husband’.

              1. Monodon monoceros*

                I’ve heard people say “work BFF” instead. Still a bit childish, but I think less inappropriate/weird than the wife/husband thing.

                1. Look, a bee!*

                  I have no idea, what do you think?

                  I said ‘in a professional context’ I.e. used in the workplace. I did not say that any of those terms were or were not professional.

          1. Buffay the Vampire Layer*

            FWIW the phrase is losing its heteronormativity (if that phrasing makes sense). My straight female coworker and I (also a straight woman, and married at that), refer to each other as work wives. A big part of that is probably due to the fact that we’re millenials living in SF, but “wife” and “husband” are becoming less heteronormative over time.

            1. Look! A bee!*

              Yes! I thought of that once I hit post. I know plenty of LGBTQ folks who use the term, and as a straight person I wouldn’t think twice about using it about another woman if I were inclined to use it at all. I just struggled to explain myself when I started to write ‘of the opposite sex’ as that’s normally when I see it used, but it could and is equally used for people of the same gender.

              1. Elemeno P.*

                Thinking back, I’ve only ever heard it used with work friends where at least one person was not attracted to the gender of the other person (two straight women, one straight woman and one gay man, etc.).

            2. Chocolate lover*

              I’m also a married hetero female, and work so closely and so well with another hetero female in my office, we’ve referred to each other as work wives. Granted, we are peers and I don’t think it’s a good idea to do something similar with your boss.

            3. Jessica*

              I thought of that as well. Anecdotally, one of the guys I used to work with referred to his “work wife” routinely (one of our project managers, who assigned him most of his stuff) and he was openly gay.

              1. Brogrammer*

                There are two straight men in my office who refer to each other as “work husband/wife.” Very tongue-in-cheek, everyone thinks it’s funny.

              2. AMPG*

                My husband, who is straight, had a “work husband” at his last job. Apparently there was a bit of speculation from some of the nosier types that they were actually a couple, which they just found amusing.

          2. Hornswoggler*

            > somebody of the opposite sex (yay heteronormativity!)

            For the record, I know a hetero woman who calls her work partner (also a hetero woman) her work wife.

            Mind you, they are both stand-up comics, so they’re probably joking.

          3. mreasy*

            I have a work wife and I am a straight lady. Though maybe in less liberal workplaces, the term wouldn’t be used that way? I had never thought of it as a heteronormative thing, but it totally makes sense. I guess the one person who ever could have been my “work husband,” though we never called each other that, is now my actual husband.
            I totally see how this is diminishing to professional relationships when conceived along hetero lines, though – and between a male boss and a female employee? [shudder]

            1. Jesca*

              Yeah, I think it has more to do with the perceived power dynamics it creates in regards to the very real gender inequality in the work place. The word “wife” as can mean different things to different people. It is probably just better left out of work place relationships.

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          That was meant flippantly, but I agree with Katie. It’s not okay. However many articles try to make it seem otherwise.

      4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        I used to think the same thing (that the appropriateness of the phrase depended on the workplace) when I was younger. But as I get older / develop more professional experience, I agree more and more strongly with Katie the Fed that it’s just not appropriate in any functional workplace. And it’s definitely not ok for a boss to say to his subordinate.

        The issue isn’t whether someone is offended—the issue is that it introduces a really inappropriate dynamic into an already unequal relationship (supervisor : subordinate). The heteronormativity is just a side bonus. And as Artemesia notes, it diminishes the role of the woman (in this case/most cases, also the subordinate) in the working relationship. Instead, she ends up being a supporting character whose primary job is to make her work husband look good without receiving appropriate credit for her contributions. IME, it also tends to be deployed as a method of “controlling” ambitious and high-achieving women. Even when peers do it, there’s often still an implicit hierarchy between the two, and it it often reinforces that hierarchy.

        1. Jesca*

          The power dynamics that this idea draws up is enough for the phrases/mentality to just not be used. And I mean, what makes it like a husband and wife “thing” anyway. There are many variations and perceptions of those roles among cultures even in this country. Some of those perceptions I definitely would not want to be associated with in a professional work setting. I would prefer to be seen as an individual who contributes as much as anyone else, and not seen as the “helpmate”.

          1. Savannnah*

            As someone who uses this term woman to woman, I’m very curious about the negative reactions to the term ‘wife’ in this discussion. I totally understand the power dynamic issue at hand for the LW and think that is over the line but my work wife is my go to person for working out complicated work issues and also peer to peer mentorship. She’s the person I call on a 9PM Friday deadline when she’s already out for the weekend. I think perhaps because I never refer to her as my work wife to others at work and we don’t have any work husband/wife dynamics at our office.

            1. Breda*

              Yeah, all this pushback is frankly startling to me, because the friend I jokingly call my “work wife” is basically just the person I go to first for questions, complaints, support, and help. I rely on her and know that she can rely on me, and it’s a different dynamic than any of my other friendships. BUT, we don’t actually work together, and that might change it: we both work at 3-person companies with no direct peers.

      5. K.*

        I have too (FWIW, I would reject it if anyone referred to me as their work wife), but never boss/employee.

        1. Soon to be former fed*

          My hairdresser (may be rest in peace) and the shop owner (a married woman) referred to each other as work spouses. There was only the two of them, they worked many, many hours together, for many years, knew each other’s quirks, preferences, and habits. They also irritated each other at times. It was the high level of familiarity and comfort which is why they affectionately referred to each other as spouses. And this shop was very professionally run. So, not always inappropriate or such a serious matter.

    2. Turquoise Cow*

      I would agree that it’s inappropriate with regard to power differentials. However, the only case in which I saw it applied, the term was used (only occasionally and jokingly) by a “couple” who were both happily married to others. They used the terms of marriage because both had a habit of working late and joked that they saw one another more than their actual spouses. They also worked together quite well. However, there was no suspicion by anyone of anything sexual or otherwise inappropriate between them. The partnership was clearly a working one – they collaborated often and well on work issues.

      They also were two of the more experienced members of the team, and so some of the younger workers (who tended to move on or up in short time) saw them as parental or authority figures, even though there wasn’t any actual formal authority.

      That said, the terms of spousal relationship were used very rarely, and I can see why, with anyone else, it would lead to a suggestion of impropriety. I don’t necessarily think it always implies something like friendship, though. Although the coworkers I’m talking about worked well together, they didn’t socialize outside of work (except on rare occasions when the whole group did, like for a department lunch). The partnership aspect as clearly for work.

      There’s probably a better word for that type of relationship than work spouse though. Coworker or friend don’t seem to have the nuance.

      1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

        In my experience, the relationship you describe is what most work-spouse relationships are. I can understand if other people have had different experiences, where there was suspicion of an affair or something, but in my experience it’s never had that undertone.

    3. kathyglo*

      Just chiming in to say I HATE work husband/wife terminology. Totally inappropriate in my opinion. I was an admin. asst. and anytime this came up I would try to politely shut it down.

      1. la bella vita*

        I used to think it was kind of creepy and inappropriate to call someone your work husband/wife. Then my (now ex) husband decided to, shall we say, take the phrase work wife a bit too literally outside the office. That will make you actively hate those phrases really quickly.

  2. Noel*

    You know, OP1, I wouldn’t say this if you weren’t leaving that job, but why not ask him out on your last day? Just say you’d love to get together for coffee sometime. :) P.S. Alison: The ads are making even typing into the comment box difficult. Oh well. I love a challenge (even a completely random one)!

        1. AnonAndOn*

          I still don’t think it’s a good idea for her to ask him out, soon-to-be ex-boss or not. There are different power dynamics at play, she may need him for a reference, and it could cause things to be awkward if he doesn’t see her in the same way.

      1. Lily in NYC*

        She is leaving – if he isn’t married or in a relationship, why is it not ok after she’s gone?

        1. Amy*

          I completely agree with this. If they are both available why not just go for it and see what happens? A lot of people have mentioned that the letter seemed to indicate that one or both were not available. Not sure where people are picking that up from since there is no mention of that at any point.

        2. Caro in the UK*

          Because she most likely will need to use him as a reference, which could be problematic for a few reasons.

          If I was checking someone’s references and found out that they were dating the prospective employee I was seeking a reference for, then I’d be very wary of believing anything the reference said, because they’d obviously be biased.

          Alternatively, they could date for a while and then have a messy breakup, resulting in the boss refusing to provide a reference at all (or giving a really bad one!)

          1. Elizabeth H*

            I think the idea is that if they dated or had a relationship, she wouldn’t be able to use him as a reference in the same way that people who work or have worked with their spouses cannot use their spouse as a reference – there have been letters about this before. If she has other references unrelated to her boss that she would be comfortable using in the future, it wouldn’t be an issue. But I agree that it is something to consider – dating the boss would immediately disqualify him from ever being able to give a reference. I’m not saying that this means she shouldn’t, just that it is one data point she should take into consideration about asking him out.

          2. Taylor Swift*

            She might not need him as a reference, or she might value the potential relationship more than she values the reference. It’s really her choice.

          3. Amy*

            I hear the reference issue, but like others have said it’s a risk either way. Life and love are inherently risky. The OP hasn’t provided much info on whether one or both are available, if she’s interested in pursuing or just telling him so he knows why she’s been distant. I guess I err on the side of taking a chance and going for it. My wife and I used to work together, thought neither reported to the other we worked very closely. We became close friends. On the same day I realized I was having feelings, she confessed the same. Married 5 months later :) I’ve also had instances of confessing feelings to someone and it was reciprocated. Romance is complicated and can kick you right in the gut…but it is also amazing and wonderful.

            1. Anion*

              My husband was my boss when we met. I was eventually promoted to his level, and then laid off…and then we started dating, because we’d always had a connection even when he was my boss (nothing unprofessional, but we both knew we really hit it off).

              Not the same thing, I know, but yeah, I’m with you. Just ask him to meet outside work for a drink. I don’t see the point of walking away from something that could turn into something special just because you might one day need him as a reference–she’s already got another job.

        3. Cleopatra Jones*

          It’s really not a good idea for OP to confuse her feelings of professional awe with romantic feelings for her (soon-to-be) boss.
          We know that she’s crushing on him because of their workplace dynamic. Their work relationship feels comfortable and supportive but it’s not the same as being romantically interested in another person. And honestly, he may be a great boss but an absolutely terrible boyfriend/husband not to mention when people find out that they have a romantic relationship, no one will believe that it started after she left the job.
          OP don’t do it. This scenario works great as rom-com plot but has the potential to hurt your career and professional credibility in the long run.

          1. S.I. Newhouse*

            On the other hand, a family member of mine fell in love at work (with someone he was supervising!), he asked her out, and they soon each went to work for different companies… and they’ve been married now for 16 years. So you just never know.

            In my own experience, though, crushes at work have never ended well. The safer play is probably for the OP to leave the job as she’s planning to — which is probably the best solution and will most likely resolve the crush — and not look back.

          2. tigerlily*

            We certainly DON’T know that she’s crushing on him simply because of their workplace dynamic or that she’s confusing feelings of professional awe with romantic feelings. OP says she has a crush on her boss. Let’s take that as fact instead of telling someone we don’t know that they’re confused and their feelings aren’t real.

            1. Anion*

              Yes, agreed. We don’t know that at all. Women are capable of knowing their own feelings, rather than glomming on to any nice man in a superior work position. Let’s not infantilize the OP like that, please.

          3. Anna*

            It’s also not a good idea to assume that’s what’s happening here. But all in all, proceed cautiously.

    1. Lissa*

      Ha, there was an update today in Dear Prudence where the letter writer had a crush on his(?) boss, then ended up getting together with her after they stopped working together.

      That said, I kind of thought the implication in the letter here might be that one/both of them is married or otherwise unavailable.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        Yeah, I didn’t get the impression OP was interested in pursuing a relationship with him.

        1. MegaMoose, Esq.*

          Me either. And honestly, if you aren’t intending to ask someone out, I generally think it is a bad idea to tell them about a crush. It’s the kind of thing that maybe makes you feel better for getting something off your chest, but can create a whole mess of uncomfortableness for the other person. Just be an adult and get over it on your own.

          1. Naruto*

            Yeah, this. It’s like, “Oh, you have a crush on me? What am I supposed to do with that information?” If the answer is “go on a date with me,” okay, that’s fine (assuming this is after they are in a reporting relationship at work). But otherwise, declarations of liking just don’t work on an interpersonal level.

    2. Stop That Goat*

      Unless he’s given clear signs that he’s interested, I’ve seen plenty of folks on this blog advise to keep that sort of stuff to yourself. It’s true that he’s not going to be a coworker anymore but he’s still going to be a reference.

    3. NW Mossy*

      The OP might be able to get away with trying to make a love connection a year or two down the line, but as she’s walking out of the office? Much too soon.

      And honestly, it’s to her benefit to cool off a little bit and get some distance to be able to assess how she feels a bit more objectively. Boss/employee can sort of be like a “showmance” you see on reality TV – it’s a hothouse environment that promotes bonding and familiarity, but that doesn’t always translate into the ordinary world very well. She may very well find that after 6 months of not working with him, he’s not even on her radar any more.

  3. neverjaunty*

    OP #5, you were completely correct here. When someone is pushing you to make a big decision without time to think it over, it’s almost always to keep you from thinking about it long enough to say no.

    1. Jeanne*

      If that demand was too outrageous, think of what would happen if you tried to negotiate salary.

      1. Mookie*

        Fainting couches and popped monocles, are my first two guesses. What’s that thing Margaret Dumont used? A lorgnette? Probably a half dozen of those would need to be brandished.

      2. Annonymouse*

        Or want to know the benefits and leave they offer as well as the salary (it wasn’t clear from the letter if salary was ever discussed or known).

        I hate employers who still think they’re the only ones with a say in the hiring process.

        No, it’s not enough that you offer me a job. I need to make sure it fits my needs for compensation and job satisfaction otherwise I’ll find something else that suits better.

        1. Mary*

          My dad is still angry about a job offer he got in 1973 where they pressured him to verbally accept the role before they’d confirm the salary!

      1. Artemesia*

        The exception that proves the rule; you’d hate to lose the limited time opportunity.

        And yes the OP dodged a whole hale of bullets here.

        1. neverjaunty*

          No, I really wouldn’t hate to lose any opportunity where I was being told not to think about signing something or paying money. I’m not sure if you guys were joking?

          1. Ramona Flowers*

            They’re kidding. Timeshare sales presentations are notorious for their pressure tactics, so they’re implying this was the same. Which it basically was.

        2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          This made me snicker.

          But yes, it’s a whole field of red flags for them to be so unyielding and then to rescind the (already rejected) offer because OP’s “demands” are “too outrageous.” OP#5, they’re using PUA tactics on you (although honestly that seems too sophisticated for what they were doing). They behaved exactly like a human adult of inferior maturity on Tinder who is angry that you didn’t immediately send them nudes and then rejected them.

            1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              Hahaha, thanks. I feel like “immature” is too kind for people who behave that way. :)

    2. Magenta Sky*

      If they’re willing to be that obnoxious before they hire you, imagine how they’ll treat you after you’re committed.

      1. Anon Accountant*

        Exactly. Very poorly. Unreasonable, demanding, awful treatment.

        I bet they have high turnover.

        1. Lance*

          There’s almost no doubt they have high turnover, given how desperate they apparently are to drag a warm body into the position they have open.

        2. Arielle*

          I would also bet they have something really unflattering online, whether it’s a Glassdoor review or something else, that they really, really don’t want the OP to have time to get home and Google.

    3. JanetInSC*

      I agree, she should tell him on her last day. Otherwise he’ll always wonder about it and maybe give a lukewarm reference in the future. Of course, she could write him a note, if she doesn’t want to tell him face-to-face. (I also think it’s a good idea for her boss to know because it will help him observe better boundaries in the future.) Hoping for a follow-up!

      1. MK*

        She doesn’t need to confess the crush to avoid this, she can go with a vague explanation like “I was dealing with private stuff and was too stressed”.

    4. MashaKasha*

      To be honest, curiosity is killing me right now. I’m dying to find out what was it that OP5’s interviewer would have their new hire do in that job, that they were in such a hurry to have the job accepted. I’ve never heard of anyone saying no to a totally reasonable request of 24 hours to think and discuss the offer with family; much less call this request “too outrageous of a demand” (oh, the irony). Unless there’s something they want the new hire in this position to do, that is so awful, shady, illegal, etc., that they felt they needed to lock the candidate in right there on the spot; because, given a few hours to think about what was said in the interview, the candidate might say no!

      1. Annonymouse*

        The only reasons I can think that you need to respond immediately:

        1) you’re a hostage negotiator and the next contact from the kidnappers is in an hour.

        2) you are a specialist surgeon/doctor and they need you to operate/cure them. Right now. No seriously, they’ve got an operating room ready back there!

        3) you’re a superhero and they just discovered a major villain is in the building. The whole interview was a rude to get you there. Please save them!

        Outside of those movie scenarios I just don’t see why they needed your answer immediately. Are you a superhero? Cause that would be awesome.

      2. Antilles*

        Unless there’s something they want the new hire in this position to do, that is so awful, shady, illegal, etc.
        While that’s possible, I think it’s more likely that the job offer was above-board legally, but just horrific in other ways. No promotion opportunities, crummy pay, lousy health insurance, crazy work hours, or something of that nature.

      3. A Bug!*

        I don’t think it’s necessarily shady or illegal. I had an interview where the interviewer was dismayed at my asking for a couple of days to consider the offer, and it turned out that they were just really, really desperate to have someone start right away because the work was already piled up.

        (I didn’t listen to the tiny Alison voice in the back of my head because I needed the job and the people seemed nice. I listen to the tiny Alison voice now.)

        1. fposte*

          Yeah, that also has happened in my experience with elementary/high schools when somebody leaves close to the beginning of the semester and they’re desperate to get somebody in the slot.

          1. calonkat*

            yes, but the employer should be able to use their words and explain the urgency, not have a hissy fit about unreasonableness.

          2. Antilles*

            True, though I don’t think that’s the case here because the interviewer *pulled the offer* entirely off the table. If their concern is that they really are desperate to hire someone, than rescinding an offer is going to cost them a lot more delay than simply giving OP 6 (!) hours to think about it.
            Unless they already have another interview scheduled for the afternoon AND the person isn’t horrifically bad AND that person doesn’t also ask for time to think about it.

            1. OhNo*

              Well, this might not necessarily delay their hiring process. Especially if they have young or inexperienced candidates who wouldn’t spot this behavior for the red flag it is, they might fill this position on the very next call they make.

              It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if they hung up with the OP and immediately called the next candidate on the list with the same spiel. If all they need is a warm body, it might not even matter if the person is qualified.

            2. Jim*

              “pulled the offer” after the candidate declined?

              Childish and petulant behaviour. No competent employer would consider that acceptable.

              I think ‘no’ was exactly the right decision here.

      4. floating*

        There’s a higher up at my job who rescinded an offer after the candidate asked for a day to think about it. I think her exact response was “If you need a day to think about it, then you’re not the right person for the job.”

        The industry that I work in is also notoriously mismanaged, though.

    5. Engineer Woman*

      Bullet dodged absolutely. What? Asking for 24 hours (and OP even amended to 6 hours) to think about a job offer is “too outrageous a demand”? Next thing you know: expecting a bathroom break is too outrageous a demand. Wanting your pay on-time is too outrageous a demand.


      1. International Development person*

        I once had an interview (1st interview) for a mid-level professional job where they asked me mid-interview ” If we offered this job to you right now, would you accept it?” I was like uhhhh something about I’d need a day to think it over or something..and they seemed annoyed, then went to the next question on a totally different topic. I didn’t get even make it to the next round of interviews. What kind of a question is that! I didn’t know what the salary, hours, benefits etc. were so I just wasn’t going to fall over myself to accept a job that I didn’t know much about. Bullet dodged for sure. And what were they trying to found out about ME with that question- if I had had enough enthusiasm or something? Weird.

      2. Narise*

        I think I would send back a thank you note for the interview and the offer, but add a line stating I was confused as to why they wouldn’t allow me a day to think about the offer and withdrew the offer when a day was requested. I would send this to both the interviewer and HR/upper management possible. Then wait a week and post on Glass Door if no response. If they come back and offer you the job again don’t accept!

    6. ella*

      Also, their response to OP’s declination of the offer is hilariously close to, “You can’t fire us! We quit!”

  4. Anon Accountant*

    #4 – Is this standard practice with employment agencies to start at a lower wage then after a trial period if things are “working out” then you receive a raise to the original salary you’d agreed on?

    Example of the $50,000 the OP wanted but received $45,000 and will see at the 6 month review how things are going. Is this a normal practice when using an employment agency? Because otherwise I’d be concerned if they’d agree to a raise at only 6 months on the job and wouldn’t have some rules that you must be employed a year, etc.

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      It may be that this was what in Alice Through the Looking Glass was called jam tomorrow. (You can have jam tomorrow but never today.)

      You can ask for a raise at this point, but be prepared for the fact that they may say no.

      1. Artemesia*

        ‘Jam tomorrow’ – oh that is perfect. When they promise you X and then the deal is X-¥ with later review, you have just been hosed.

      2. neverjaunty*

        Yes! Perfect phrase to describe hiring bait and switch, or those promotions that are always just over the horizon.

    2. sssssssssss*

      Employment agencies? Maybe.
      Employers? Yes, I think this is more common than we realize and it’s often a bait and switch. We’ll pay you less now and more later when you’ve settled in. The employer “wins” as it gets a employee at a cheaper rate. And then at the six month mark: Oh, there’s no budget for that right now; you didn’t quite meet expectations; oh, I have to take that up with the board/executives/ and that goes on for months…and you’re strung along.

      It happened to me once: offered a lower salary with the promise of a higher one later. And complete this project. I completed the project, which they then proceeded to pick apart and then say, nope, sorry, no raise for you. I was 23…and I quit on the spot. The only time I ever did that. That place was never going to give me a raise.

    3. Bagpuss*

      I’ve situation where the employee is explicitly old that salary will be reviewed after 3 (or 6) months. Where I am, agencies charge the employer a hefty fee (up to 20% of annual salary) for placing a candidate and this is generally only returnable if the new hire doesn’t work out and leaves within the first 3 months.
      Having a slightly lower salary and an early review can help to keep the agency fee lower (freeing up money to spend on an increase!) and also allows the employer to gauge how the employee is doing during that initial period.
      However, i ‘ve mostly sen this with fairly senior people and always where the review is clearly agreed at the time of the offer.

      In OPs case, it sounds as though it was the agency which misled them,. Sadly this doesn’t seem uncommon for agencies (at least in my experience) – I would never trust what an agency said about salary and would always discuss it with the employer (or potential employee, as an employer) at the interview.

    4. ACS*

      I commented below that it happened to me in a temp-to-hire position through an agency. They pulled all kinds of games with me, and I definitely learned my lesson. Fool me once!

    5. INTP*

      I don’t know how standard but it’s happened to me. Told that I would get a compensation review and full time employee benefits “in 2-3 months if you’re doing really well.” Despite glowing reviews, I was then told they’d do the review “during annual review time” which was 6 months after I was hired. Then at that review, I was told that it’s policy to only give raises at the annual review, which that technically wasn’t because I hadn’t been there a full year.

      A few months later they saw I had a foot out the door and spontaneously declared it was time for my raise, but I received my formal offer from another job that afternoon and gave my notice.

      1. INTP*

        Adding that this was a staffing agency, but I was a direct employee of the agency, not working at one of the clients.

    6. Gazebo Slayer*

      In my experience an outright bait and switch is a thing employment agencies do: tell you a position will pay X, then once you’ve already accepted it tell you that it pays X-Y. When you object, they’ll say that maybe someday if it goes perm you’ll be paid X.

    7. Michael in Boston*

      I am wondering if this is related to the nature of working through the agency. I used to work at a factory shift job before college that had full employees of the company and then temps who worked for the staffing agency. Say the wage was $14 per hour: the full-timers got $14 per hour and the temps got like $12.75 and the rest went to the temp agency. Maybe the position here had a budget of $X per year but the agency gets its cut leaving OP with less.

    8. Sunshine on a cloudy day*

      My experience with employment/temp agencies was that not so great ones tended to speak about salary in terms of the highest end of the band. Instead of saying this role pays $45-50k it tended to be “this job pays *mumble* $50k!”. Not quite an outright bait and switch, but definitely somewhat deceptive.

      That said, I’ve also had some good experiences – my last job was temp-to-perm. My temp portion was a low hourly rate with the understanding that if made perm (after a set amount of time) my salary would be X. They ended up offereing me X+$2k when I went perm. It wasn’t a huge difference, but even that little bit garnered a lot of goodwill on my end. I also found my current job through an employment agency – they advertised the role at X, but it turns out that I actually make X+15% b/c of some built in overtime (they were upfront about the hours, but was unsure how breaks/lunches would factor in). They probably could have gotten away with advertising the role at X+15%, but again that 15% as a surprise positive garned so much goodwill on my end. I think very highly of both my company and both of those agencies for how they handled the situations (I’m not entirely clear how much the agencies knew or if the companies planned this for the beginning).

  5. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#1, confessing your office crush is the sort of thing that looks cuter in romcoms than in real life. I agree with Alison’s advice. I’m so sympathetic, though—clicking with someone this way is rare, and because you’re constantly around each other, it makes it hard to get distance.

    If you cannot resist the desire to tell him, and assuming he’s single (or that you’re at least unaware of his relationship status), then come clean after you’ve already left and are transitioning to your next gig. And if you tell him, follow the Hax rules and only do it if you can do so without expectation of a reciprocal response.

    I’ve had a crush on my boss and thank all my lucky stars I never said anything. When I left, the distance helped me realize that we actually weren’t well-suited—it just seemed like it because I saw this one part of his life where he really had it together (he was, kindly put, a hot mess 8! His non-work life). Good luck!!

    1. Katie the Fed*

      When I was very new to leadership, one of my subordinates confessed he had a crush on me one day. Completely out of the blue – just asked if he could talk to me and confessed all these feelings and that he thought I was the perfect woman for him and on and on. I stood there like a moron completely stunned – it had NEVER crossed my mind and I wasn’t interested in him at all. I also had no idea how to respond or handle it. I ended up going to MY boss (again, I was very new in that position) for advice and he took the lovestruck employee aside and talked to him.

      The worst part is I spent months questioning myself – if I had done something to lead him on, if I had acted unprofessionally, etc.

      That’s not an ok position to put someone in.

      1. MashaKasha*

        Well isn’t that nice that he thought you were perfect for him! What about him, for you? Never crossed his mind, did it?

        I agree, this really isn’t an ok position if he knows he’s going to continue working for you. I imagine it’d create all sorts of a weird dynamic.

      2. Lora*

        Yeah, OP1, as a boss I beg you to die with this secret never having passed your lips.

        Many years ago a colleague 12 years younger than me, thankfully not directly reporting to me (we worked together a lot and would sometimes exchange an email chess game), told me he had a crush on me. We had a super awkward conversation about how that was totally inappropriate, he apologized and told me he was leaving for business school and then we never ever spoke of it again. He was really hurt though and it was impossible to work with him like a normal person afterwards. Our older colleagues NEVER let him live it down and teased him about it for a long time, years after we hadn’t even exchanged so much as “hi”.

      3. Anon for obvious reasons*

        Omg, this happened to me, too.

        To make matters worse I actually enjoy spending time with him like occasionally going for a round of laser tag after work. I didn’t think anything of it because I have lot’s of male friends inside and outside the office, we’re teammates and don’t supervise eachother and also we’re both married. Our spouses don’t fancy laser tag so it’s just us.

        Imagine my shock when he confessed his feelings!

        Well, a super awkward talk later, we’re still teammates, we continued the occasional laser tag sessions and we still work well together but there’s a whole bit of extra awkwardness around it even after a year and I wondered for weeks whether I’ve sent the wrong signals.

        So: Please keep your crush to yourself. It’s much nicer for the other person to not know.

    2. HelloYellow*

      This is a good point: just because someone seems compatible with you in the working professional part of their life does NOT mean they are compatible in other areas.

      At work you are your best self (typically). But relationships aren’t based on your best self; they are based on your real day-in-and-day-out self.

    3. Ramona Flowers*

      Could you elaborate on the Hax rules for those who aren’t familiar with them and don’t want to trawl through her columns?

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Haha, sure. The short version is what I wrote—that you can tell someone you’re attracted to them or ask them on a date, but you don’t get to be angry/hurt/mad if the feeling is not reciprocated. I think the underlying principle is that you cannot share information as a selfish/coercive tool to make someone behave a certain way. So you’re allowed to share the information only if you can also make peace with not having any control over their reaction.

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          Thanks! I think that could be a good rule in your personal life if you’re desperate to unburden yourself, but in my view when it’s work you just shouldn’t say anything at all.

          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            I agree! I think options 1–99 are “do not say anything at all and put your self-control to good use.” But I also acknowledge that some folks aren’t going to listen to that advice if it’s not what they want to hear, in which case, I think better to follow Hax than the creepy bff-of-the-groom from Love Actually.

            1. Red Reader*

              Creepy BFF didn’t actually get creepy til after she shoved herself into his place and started digging through his stuff. He did try to avoid her at first. (Not that that’s an excuse for the way he DID end up going off the rails, but she was pretty awful too.)

    4. Anon for this*

      I’ve done it. We were both in happy relationships at the time of confession, so it was more like “haha can you believe this thing that happened way in the past”. It was at a happy hour. I was pretty hammered to be honest. Also, he was not my boss and had never been my boss. We still work together. There’s a degree of awkwardness. I probably should not have said anything. Mind you, I’d asked him out before and he had said no. But that could’ve been labeled as a miscommunication and swept under the carpet. A confession, not so much. Bottom line, unless OP1 and the boss are both available, and she wants to pursue a relationship with him, I would not say anything. Then they’d still be able to remain friends. “The pain in his eyes” might be exaggerated, to be honest. He’ll probably just assume that OP1 didn’t want them to look unprofessional to others when they worked together, and kept the distance for that reason; unless OP1 tells him otherwise.

  6. Confused*

    OP 1 Crush on your boss
    I agree with Alison about being vague and recommend against telling him about the crush as well. You may move on and find the crush goes away after a few weeks. I don’t see what there is to be gained by being 100% blunt in this specific situation. Why potentially make things more awkward for the future? You may not work together again (or you may, who knows?!) but you’ll need references.

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      Honestly you just never know when you might cross paths again. I’d go with Alison’s suggestion.

      1. MashaKasha*

        Came here to say this. It’s a ridiculously small world, especially for people working in the same field. You just never know when you’ll cross paths again. I’ve had coworkers from way in the past suddenly wander into the office at my new jobs: “oh hello, it’s my first day here, how’ve you been?”

        1. MashaKasha*

          Adding to this, because this is something I just remembered. At my very first job in the US, I had a ridiculous crush on a senior-level coworker. I was in a (hugely dysfunctional) marriage at the time, so understood it was not okay, and took the first chance I had to change jobs to get away from the crush. Fast forward a year… The crush came to my new job as my boss. Had to change jobs again to get away from him a second time! Basically this guy was a great catalyst in my early career, lol. I got a decent raise and an improvement in job responsibilities each time I changed jobs. So it’s all good. But yeah, “I’ll never see him again” is not a thing in the work world.

    2. HelloYellow*

      You might think “I will never see him again…” but you seriously could.

      I did this. I was leaving a job, had a crush on a coworker, thought I wouldn’t ever see them again because I was “permanently” moving across the country so I told them my feelings.

      Then things changed and we ended up needing to work professionally together. It was…awkward. Until I ambushed them in the elevator and said “Hey, my feelings changed and I’m seeing someone else!” (total lie). Then I never EVER mentioned it again and acted 1000% professionally. And we returned to normal-distant coworkers.

      If I could go back, I would not have said anything. You can’t see the future and I wouldn’t trust the idea “I won’t see them again” because you might.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        I’ve actually been on the receiving end of someone confessing to a crush (though in this case they made an awkward pass) and unexpectedly showing up again in my working life a few years later.

        Unfortunately in my case the person with the crush apparently hadn’t moved past it and used to do things like shut doors in my face and cause problems with my work. If I could have my time again I’d be reporting them for sexual harassment.

        All of which is to say that telling someone you have a crush can make things very awkward, regardless of your particular gender and sexuality. Say you tell your boss you have a crush on him and head off into the sunset, then years later he’s on a hiring panel choosing between you and someone else, and thinks: huh, that would be awkward.

        You might think it will never happen. But even if you’re changing career or leaving the country, always assume things could change when doing something irreversible like, say, getting a tattoo on your face or telling your boss you’re infatuated with them. Some bells cannot be unrung.

      2. Artemesia*

        Oh you NEVER tell them unless you are making a move — assuming both are single. No good ever comes from ‘confessing a crush’ and especially a crush on a boss. And a fair number of people will joke about this with professional peers later. I have witnessed that kind of gossip at professional conventions. And that is a reputation you really don’t want to have.

        I am sort of assuming this is a married boss; if so absolutely don’t say anything about a crush. Alison’s advice was good here.

        1. Gaia*

          Agreed. I have a hard crush on someone I work with. We aren’t in the same department so it isn’t as if one of us reports to the other, but I’d still never tell him. Reason 1? He’s married. Reason 2? Even if he wasn’t it would make work super weird. So I’ll just sit here and swoon when he smiles but behave myself professionally.

    3. Is It Performance Art*

      Definitely think about how this might affect future references. I would have a hard time trying to figure out how to provide a reference for someone who confessed that they had a crush on me when they left. And sometimes (at least in my industry), if someone doing the hiring knows your old boss, they’ll reach out to them before they even decide about interviews. It could get weird.

  7. Noel*

    OP2, you have my sympathies. I interned at a company that I thought was going well until three weeks in when my manager told her that something I had said three weeks ago, on my second day, had upset her (there was an intruder in the building and I had asked her what the protocol was. She said it made her feel like she wasn’t doing effort to catch the intruder, which I obviously wasn’t insinuating as it was a security issue). She also told me that someone else in the company had complained about my unprofessionalism. When I asked what I had done that was unprofessional, she left the room and refused to talk to me until a week later when I was let go.

    1. Artemesia*

      Well we know there was SOME unprofessionalism here. LOL.

      But in the OP’s case here, I know people who have been fired for inappropriate comments on the business email. Nothing you say on work resources if private. This is something everyone should know by now — there have been so many scandals related to this.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        Nothing you say in writing anywhere on the internet or through an electronic device is completely private. There will always be circumstances in which it’s not.

      2. BTW*

        Yup. I was fired for something I said in a text message, outside of work, to my store manager. And that text message prompted a full viewing of all my work emails and well, that can’t have gone well haha! (Just work “vents” but not vents I should have been having over work email, I can admit that) But I still don’t regret what I told her to this day. She was being screwed over royally by my boss and I thought I was doing her a favour. I guess she didn’t feel the same way… oh well. Losing that job was the best thing that ever happened to me. It was literally like chains coming off. But needless to say, I don’t write stupid stuff in work emails anymore. Or texts for that matter. (coworker texts that is)

      3. Mallory Janis Ian*

        My co-worker just got a talking-to from her bosses because she made a joke in a work email about the (un)likely prospects of a student they were recruiting. She didn’t initiate the joke, but she responded in kind; now, if that email thread ever gets FOIAed for whatever reason, there will be a tacky exchange about the student in there.

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          Or SAR (subject access request) from the student. She was lucky to just get a talking to…

      4. paul*

        Yep. it’s never 100% private.

        That said, it would help OP a lot more if they *told* them what conversation was unprofessional. The whole “you did something bad now guess what it is” thing is…ugh.

        1. Snark*

          Yeah, in general, I do nothing on my government computer that I wouldn’t want to see on the front page of the Washington Post.

          1. Betty Cooper*

            That’s actually in the presentation at my government organization’s employee orientation. The trainers say it out loud, and print it on the handouts. It’s always seemed like a good policy to me.

      5. queen b*

        I was mostly annoyed because I actually don’t remember anything in any new employee onboarding materials that stated internet protocols. Maybe it’s different because I am a contract employee, but I think everyone should be informed of these policies.

    2. Mookie*

      When I asked what I had done that was unprofessional, she left the room and refused to talk to me until a week later when I was let go.

      Pot met kettle, then. Crikey.

      1. Look, a bee!*

        Man. In my first professional role I had a boss who really disliked me (she didn’t get to hire me, I was just employed into her team so she always resented me, she wasn’t professional at all), she was a couple of decades older than me and would frequently do things designed to undermine me or make me seem junior or naive in front of my team. One time she gave me a mini lecture on speaking to my superiors appropriately. When I asked if I’d said something to anyone she thought was problematic or if she’d received a complaint from anyone else about me and that I’d happily put it right, she maintained that I hadn’t done or said anything wrong and she was just ‘raising my awareness’ for the future, with this band motion implying she was increasing something (palms up, pushing upwards). I came to call them my awareness raising lectures as she’d pick something, give me a lecture on it as though I’d misstepped but then claim I’d never had a problem in that area. It was like being told off constantly for stuff I hadn’t done. Luckily my team were all awesome and would commiserate with me once we were alone but still.

          1. Jadelyn*

            …I’ll admit to a bit of morbid curiosity about what your boss managed to criticize about your walk, of all things.

        1. Alastair*

          One of my early bosses did the same thing for the same reasons! She never forgave me for being transferred to her team during a re org even though I was a top performer and recouped millions for the company. Honestly she probably would have fired me if she could. She did manage to downgrade my performance evaluation though. Sadly my other team member was afraid that the boss would do the same to her so she went along with the bullying.

    3. K.*

      That is bonkers. You were essentially fired for expressing concern about a valid security issue.

    4. CM*

      This kind of feedback is so unhelpful. “You did something wrong. We won’t tell you what it is. But never do it again.”

      1. queen b*

        OP2 here. What was strange to me is that I cannot remember a time where I said something outwardly inappropriate. I remember my coworker would complain about a project we were working on but at the most I’d maybe agree with him. I would never say anything that is outwardly disrespectful about my job or my boss. So, it’s been bugging me what I did say because I just don’t remember! If my boss told me what I did say, it would offer a lot of closure that I don’t have.

      2. Anon for this*

        This happened to me once. There was no way to defend myself, and I was walking on eggshells for the rest of my time at the company because I didn’t know who to be careful around. I found out much later that someone going down the hall had passed at just the wrong moment to misinterpret a piece of an overheard conversation, and was offended by something I said (nothing about sex or anything taboo in the workplace).

        The whole experience left me with a negative attitude toward professional workplaces. My current company is probably on the unprofessional side (I have some stories that would be fodder for this site) but I’m more comfortable in such a place. Whenever I visit a very buttoned-down office environment at a supplier or customer, I’m always thinking to myself “Thank God I don’t work somewhere like this.” In hindsight, I realize I might be throwing the baby out with the bathwater, but spending a few years walking on eggshells and being paranoid about my coworkers was not a pleasant experience.

  8. Edith*

    #5 is the new “You can’t fire me! I quit!”

    You can’t turn down our job offer! We rescind it!

    1. Anon Accountant*

      Absolutely! Isn’t it great when unreasonable companies show themselves to be unreasonable BEFORE you start working for them?

    2. Ramona Flowers*

      I’m just so stunned by the idea that it’s outrageous to want time to think. It’s not!

      1. ThatGirl*

        Right? I got an offer for contract work a couple months ago; they’d said it would pay well, but it was a long commute and I wanted a little time to think it over. The guy said “so you will be accepting?” and I said “I would like to think it over, I will let you know tomorrow” and then later he called back and informed me the pay rate had dropped $10/hr which made it a fairly definitive No … I mean, I could have backed out anyway at that point but I was glad I hadn’t immediately said “yes, definitely of course!”

    3. Mookie*

      I was going to go with the old “you’re ugly, anyway!” pitiful attempt to grasp what’s left of one’s dignity, but this is better. They sure showed LW5; next time LW5 will reject the offer after its been withdrawn, the way applicants were raised to behave.

  9. Ramona Flowers*

    #3 I’m so sorry you lost your baby. It sounds like you have a really supportive manager who will want to help you on this. If you feel worried about walking into work your first day back and being approached with well-meaning questions, one idea might be to ask your manager to meet you at the entrance and walk in with you.

    1. HelloYellow*

      I had a miscarriage and went the “tell a trusted coworker what I wanted her to tell others” route. It worked out well in my case. What I specifically requested was that no one mention it unless I brought it up first; then I just didn’t talk about it at work.

      For me, I appreciated my coworkers knowing because I was in a fog for a few weeks and not my usual bubbly self. I think them knowing I was grieving helped give context for my sudden mood switch.

    2. HelloYellow*

      I also know that people want to help/show support when someone is grieving so I had my coworker communicate:

      “The most helpful thing you can do is be patient while I am having a tough time. I want to focus on work while I am at work and I appreciate you understanding.”

      Being really crystal clear on the boundaries and expectations – and having them communicated by my trusted friend – created space for me to grieve in privacy and peace.

      1. Gingerblue*

        While it’s obviously a far, far lesser concern, having been on the coworker end of this, I really appreciated this approach. A colleague I worked closely with had a miscarriage, and was out for several weeks. Before returning, she communicated via our boss that she appreciated all the concern but didn’t want to have to discuss it at work, and everyone I knew there was grateful for the direction. No one wanted to misstep–will it be upsetting if I express sympathy? Will it seem isolating and callous if I don’t?–and the clear statement of what she needed from us took pressure off us as well as her. I mention this in case anyone feels anxious over setting that kind of boundary–it’s not only a totally reasonable thing to ask for your sake, but likely to be a kindness for them as well.

        1. Lissa*

          One thing that i have learned from this and similar forums is you just can’t generalize what people want or expect, so I think this is a really good point. Having some direction is wonderful. Otherwise you’re in a situation where it’s like “if I do X that might really hurt/upset them but if I do not-X, that also might hurt/upset them…” Just in the last week, I’ve seen people have wildly divergent ideas on apologies and when to inform someone of a death, with people having exactly opposite feelings, so it stops being an issue of “common sense” altogether.

            1. Anna*

              I think there has to be allowances on both sides. A very tiny minority of people don’t care and are just interested in getting their words in, but the vast majority want to be thoughtful. If someone gives clear direction, follow that. If they don’t, they need to be a bit forgiving for those who are trying.

        2. Anoushka*

          I’m so sorry for your loss, OP. My heart goes out to you. I don’t know if you want anyone at work to know, but if there’s one or two people at work you could tell, it might help take some of the burden off you.

          I told my boss and my closest colleague when this happened to me last year. My colleague told other people that I’d had a serious health problem. In retrospect I wish I’d told him to say I was dealing with a serious family issue and not to ask, because well-meaning people kept asking if I felt better now, which was very hard. But my colleague met me at the door the day I came back with a coffee, and basically let me sob to him for half an hour when I returned. That really helped, because I really wanted the normalcy of work but didn’t feel like I could guarantee any productivity on my end.

          I also asked my boss for a phased return and if I could take on some of the lighter work while I was there. That helped too.

          Again, I’m so sorry. There’s unfortunately no handbook for this kind of thing, so just go day by day and do what you can.

    3. Marzipan*

      #3, I’m so sorry for your loss. Missed miscarriages are heartbreaking. Look after yourself.

      I’ve seen the ‘get a trusted person to tell people’ technique work well in my workplace for a colleague, who in this case was returning fun depression and anxiety. Doing this can even include specific instructions about what to do/not say and do when greeting you and working alongside you, minimising the chances you’ll be unexpectedly knocked sideways by a well-meaning comment.

      If you decide that you aren’t comfortable with people knowing what’s happened, you can absolutely decide to keep it private (I did, with my miscarriages). If you decide to do that, then vagueness is often your friend. ‘I’ve been dealing with a health problem, it was very difficult and I’d rather not talk about it but there’s nothing you need to worry about’ or something of that nature. But it sounds as though you’re planning on letting people know at some point, so do consider having your boss do this for you.

      Hugs, if you want them.

    4. Gen*

      OP3 I’m so sorry for your loss.

      I found with my losses that some usually innocuous things would bring on feelings of grief for a while. It was helpful at those times to have an agreement with my boss to get away from my desk briefly, or get off the phones, or focus on more complex tasks for while uninterrupted. Your manager seems really supportive so consider what might help you personally feel better at your work and see if it’s available

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      OP3, I am so sorry. This happened to me a decade ago and I’m tearing up as I type.

      I echo the advice to ask your manager for help in telling your coworkers what you need, whether that’s ‘please don’t ask questions’ or something else. What one person thinks is the obvious caring response (enquire into their well-being; don’t poke at them) can be 180° off what the person next to them thinks, both coming from a place of compassion.

    6. Thlayli*

      I’m so sorry for your loss.

      I had a missed miscarriage and I just told people I was sick. I may have said something like I had had to go to doctor or something (to make it clear it was more than just a cold) but I didn’t get into the why’s and the wherefores. No one asked for more details that I recall.

      If people are nosy and you really feel like you need to tell them something you could say something that’s the truth but not the whole truth like you had really bad stomach pains and had to go to doctor. Or you could just say “it wasn’t pleasant, I’ll spare you the details.” Anyone who pushes for more info after something like that is probably a nosy parker who will gossip about you – so you don’t owe them any details. It’s totally fine to just say “I was out sick” and if they ask for more info just say “I don’t really want to talk about it”. You can even practice what you will say at home beforehand to make it easier to say without crying.

      You might benefit from a few more days off to grieve before you can go back without crying any time anyone asks. If you think you would benefit from that time then don’t hesistate to take it. It is legitimate medical leave and I’m sure you will get a sick note or whatever you need from your doctor.

      I will post a website in the comments that I found really helpful when I lost my baby.

      Hugs x

    7. Emma*

      I’m also so sorry. One thing that helped when I had my miscarriage was that my husband did the job of letting people know about it. That may be one option if you/he were open to it. I hadn’t yet told people at work, but if I had, that’s probably what I would have done. I would have also asked that the person told about it not spread the information around.

      I’m really sorry for what you’re going through. Miscarriages can be brutal.

    8. Liane*

      I am sorry, too.
      Do ask, someone to pass the message that is most comfortable for you. Your boss would be a good choice.

    9. Emi.*

      I’m so sorry for your loss, OP. It sounds like your boss would do a good job of fending off whatever attention you don’t want–it’s absolutely okay for you to ask him/her to pass on specific requests for how you want your coworkers to treat you and how much you want them to say or not say. (It will probably be a relief to them anyway to know how best to help and support you, since different people prefer different responses. Again, I’m really sorry!

    10. 2 Cents*

      OP #3 I’m so sorry for your loss. That happened to me last summer — my boss was the only one who knew I was expecting. I was suddenly gone for 3-4 days. People mistakenly thought I was on vacation — all I said was, “Nope, I was ill.” and left it at that because I didn’t want to get into it. My boss said nothing, because I asked for it to be kept confidential. After a few days, no one remembered I’d been out. As for crying at work, I played it up to allergies or just went to the more private of the bathrooms for a good cry. Please be kind to yourself — no feats of strength or wonder woman-like goals at work.

    11. nonymous*

      it sounds like OP’s boss knew she was pregnant but no one else on the team did. If OP wants to keep the details of her pregnancy and subsequent loss private, she might benefit from asking the manager to share an appropriately vague statement. Something along the lines of “OP has experienced a recent loss in her family and has asked us to [insert requested action here] ”

      Loss and medical crises are such universal events (not to trivialize, just that they are uniquely traumatizing events that happen to many people) that there is a huge body of understanding that the process is emotionally fraught and a wide range of responses is common. A clear boundary presented at the organizational level should keep busybodies at bay as well as a clear path for the well-intentioned.

      1. Op3*

        Thank you so much Alison and everyone for your kind words, and to those of you who have shared your stories – thank you for sharing them with me, and I’m truly sorry for your loss.

        Alison’s advice (and that of commenters) was spot on; I asked my manager to share the news with the people who needed to know (those I’m working with on projects and members of my direct team) while those in the wider team were told it was illness-related, with things kept very vague. (Outside of work, my husband took care of telling our friends and family because I found it too painful.)

        Those at work who know have been very sympathetic so far, letting me take the lead on how much (or little) I want to talk about it and understanding when I need five minutes.

        It’s very early days but I’m building up to being in the office full time (with working from home as much or as little as I need for now), and some of the commenters were right – for those who don’t know why I was out, it’s already become old news.

        We’re taking one day at a time, but I’m hopeful that a mix of all the advice here will see us through.

        Thanks all, I can’t express it properly over the internet, but I really do appreciate all of you who took the time to comment and of course a huge thank you to Alison for taking the time to answer my question x

        1. Anna*

          It sounds like you had good people around you who could do the heavy lifting. Here’s to getting the rest and healing you need.

        2. GRH*

          I’m so sorry for your loss. The same happened to me two months ago. I was in a similar situation where my boss knew, and my two closest colleagues. I had to cancel a large social event that several other coworkers were invited to, and I explained it as a family emergency. One of the friends who knew manages most of my coworkers and she was able to quietly tell them that I need some space this summer. Luckily I too have a job where I can get a lot done from home, and most of my coworkers are at a different site so it felt a lot less overwhelming to come back to the office.

          One thing that’s been important for me to remember–healing is not a linear process. I have had some amazing days where I feel like my happy strong self again, followed by days where I just can’t bring myself to see people outside my family. Fingers crossed, this will be my first week working a full five days in the office since it happened. Try not to feel like you’re not healing properly or fast enough–like you said, one day at a time, and each day is different and all you can do is take it as it comes as best you can. Good luck.

  10. Jeanne*

    #2, Your boss owes you more than that. What are you supposed to do with that criticism? He appears to not even have said if it was in person or email or skype; if it was one to one or in a meeting; if the one you talked to complained or someone overheard; or most of all what part was unprofessional. If you go back to him and he won’t tell you, then completely disregard it. (Allison is right though that nothing is private, unfortunately.)

    1. ArtK*

      Yes. This is a boss failure far more than it is an OP failure. OP is new to the workplace and likely needs some coaching on professional norms. “You screwed up” is not feedback that is going to help with that. Review feedback should be specific and it should be actionable — if it’s too vague, there’s nothing one can do about it.

      But, emphasizing what everyone else has said: Privacy is a myth, particularly in the workplace. The ‘net is forever and no matter how you have your “privacy” settings configured, stuff will get out. Outside of the electronics, people gossip. People tattle. As the OP is new to the workplace, a great deal of discretion is advised.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      I’m looking at this through a teacher lens, but even if you aren’t a classroom teacher, many of us are in educator-like positions, and if you want people to improve (in whatever sphere), you have to give them meaningful feedback. Saying “you screwed up,” but not saying in what way or even what medium, isn’t going to result in any improvements or prevent any future screw-ups. It’d be like if I just gave kids grades on papers without telling them what to improve.
      “It was bad.”
      “How was it bad?”
      “It was bad. Do better next time.”
      “Better at what?”

      1. OJ*

        Start making sure you put the toilet seat down every time. Then proudly bring it up at your next one on one.

      2. sstabeler*

        a lot of my teachers DID effectively just say “you screwed up”- having said that, I suspect a lot of my teachers were more in it for the paycheck. When I had teachers that actually cared about teaching, I tended to thrive.

    3. Sandra wishes you a heavenly day*

      I would caution OP2, though. She states she’s a contractor, not permanent. I think Alison’s advice is really great and helpful, but if the manager is non-committal, you can’t just disregard it. The fun part of temping/contracting is that you’re much easier to get rid of and they’re not investing in your professional development. Maybe if you’re if in a temp to hire position, but other wise, you’re not the same to the company as someone they’re offering benefits to. Your agency is very unlikely to go to the bat for you, either.

      And yeah, they’re probably not reading every email or skype you send, but they can. And they will if they have a reason to. Additionally, casual conversation may be casual to you or your coworker, but unless you’re both in a private bunker locked from the inside, someone is listening just by virtue of the common office layout. Cubicles or open office or whatever, we’re all stuck hearing what other people say. Plus, as a contractor, again, you just matter less than a permanent employee. (You don’t matter less as a person, of course! But for the company, you’re just more replaceable.)

      Take whatever feedback you get as a gift: either you learn something to work on, and you need to demonstrably work on that, right away, or you learn something about your manager and how this office works. (Also, remember, it’s just this office and this manager, your next job will be a whole new playing field.)

  11. Ramona Flowers*

    #2 Information created at work, or on a work account, or on a work computer, isn’t private. Never assume otherwise.

    I’m sorry nobody told you this. I’m far enough into my career that my first reaction was: huh, why would you think your work email is private? But looking back I assumed that too, when I started out. It had my name on it and I set the password. That does not mean it’s private though, in any job.

    Even if something is private insofar as it doesn’t belong to your employer – like your personal email you use at home, say – a good rule is not to put anything in writing that you wouldn’t want to be seen by your boss, a lawyer or a journalist.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Yup, so much this (on all counts).

      And remember, OP, that if you’re using your personal phone for work emails, etc., that information isn’t private, either. It’s best to proceed with the assumptions in place that Ramona describes—anything done on your work computer and anything sent through a work server / email address / etc. is reviewable by your employer. Even personal email sent over a work computer might be screened. And when in doubt, assume the NSA is collecting all your selfies and emails and Skypes.

      1. Sabine the Very Mean*

        You two comment so often together and have such good rapport. You’re like internet comment spouses! You must be crushing on each other for sure.

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          Does this mean someone has to film a Scott Pilgrim vs Friends crossover? Please, make it so!

        2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Hehe, I think we end up on AAM around the same time of day/night :) But I do very much appreciate RF’s thoughtful comments, and I always look forward to reading them.

    2. Mallory Janis Ian*

      I’ve also seen coworkers become surprised that they got in trouble for comments written about work on their Facebook pages, which they presumed to be their own private, personal property.

      Yeah, it’s like the front page of your own personal newspaper, but it’s not private.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        One co-worker wrote that she was sick of working with us “gossipy b*tches” and everyone saw it because she had a friend-of-a-friend in common with one co-worker. We weren’t actually gossipy, but I know why she might think so: the former dean’s assistant at that job would strengthen her own petty complaints about people she managed by telling them that other people had complained to her. So if you worked under her, you got the sense that there was a constant stream of complaints from your coworkers about you (we all finally compared notes and figured this out).

    3. OldJules*

      +1 Any correspondence which is done on work systems can be used even after you left. My boss was so mad I left, he dug though all my email and used a gossipy email with another ex-coworker to wreck my reputation internally. Funnily enough, he regularly brings up my name as that great employee who would have been able to handle all the work aka disfunction and keep everyone together to get it done. Water under the bridge and all.

      Any personal stuff on your computer can be dug up if they are backed up too. So if you save birth cert or anything like that, make sure to delete as soon as you are done and not on the last day of employment where they can be recoverable in backups.

  12. Mookie*

    LW1, happen to read Mallory Ortberg’s Prudence this week? (I still wouldn’t. As Alison more or less suggests, these are your feelings and you shouldn’t get accustomed to dumping them on unsuspecting bosses, colleagues, clients, and other professional acquaintances. Life is not an almost impossibly cheery advice column update.)

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      Even there, I’d note that they got together months after the subordinate left for another job. The “so let’s go get coffee together and talk about not work!” wasn’t part of the exit interview.

  13. persimmon*

    OP#2, I would think carefully about whether you really need to revisit this or are just curious, since it could be an awkward conversation if what you said was clearly over the line. If you know you’ve sent some emails that were obviously unprofessional if read by others, then that’s the lesson learned and you don’t have to underline it by making your boss repeat to you out loud whatever you said. Only bring this up again if you are genuinely confused about what type of comment your boss finds unprofessional.

    1. Mookie*

      I agree that if you’re going to broach the topic again, you rack your proverbial for what your boss might be referring to, but I don’t know that that’s in your best interests.

      I also wouldn’t assume, LW2, that you are “taking all of the blame for it even though it was a conversation between two people who may have been saying equally unprofessional things” unless someone explicitly said so or you’ve sounded out all possible correspondents and none of them have been approached about this. Discipline isn’t always publicly aired and shared. I do get the feeling that you’re probably aware of some inappropriate conversations you’ve had — whether the parallel being drawn is a “Hillary leak” or otherwise remains to be seen* — so it’s probably less important to identify the specific correspondence (and then try to rules-lawyer your way out of why it was inappropriate) then it is to take the helpful and mostly compassionate advice you’ve been given, both from your boss and from Alison and the commentariat here. There will always be professional environments in which Letting Off Steam or engaging in backchat will harm your career; your boss is telling you something you need to know about how this workplace operates in that respect. You are relatively new to the workforce, so it’s understandable that you feel blindsided. However, going forward, I’d worry less about your privacy and embarrassment and more about doing your part to foster a positive atmosphere and to bond with your colleagues over work and other fun, collaborative stuff — punctuated with less controversial small talk, when inappropriate — then grousing. It’s hard not to grouse sometimes, or keep, for example, the political opinions that occupy your personal life outside of work, but most of the time you’re going to need to do so, irrespective of how it makes you feel (inauthentic, silenced, or scrutinized, and so forth).

      *the news is also full of folk experiencing professional blowback from saying and doing bigoted things or expressing strong opinions about heated and controversial subjects, on the clock and outside of working hours both

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Discipline isn’t always publicly aired and shared.

        I also wonder if it was possible the colleague reported the conversation, and OP was interpreting “mmm… hmmm” as “Yeah! Preach it!”

        But exact path aside: OP, it seems like you know you said some inappropriate things. (Think of the Sony hack.) It seems less important to guess which one precisely caught his attention, and more to view each work email through the lens “if someone other than the recipient sees this, how hard would I have to cringe?”

        1. Liane*

          But the boss should still give specific feedback for job issues of any kind.
          “You should not have asked Spock, or Library Computer, about pon farr. In Starfleet, asking about someone’s very personal biology, unless you’re the Ship’s Doctor treating them, is unprofessional and a violation of regs.”

      2. Observer*

        OP, did your boss explicitly mention the Hillary emails, or is that just your inference? Because there are sooooo many incidents of stuff in email becoming public and winding up in the news that picking on that one seems odd – and almost like you haven’t been paying attention to the news before or after that mess.

  14. MommyMD*

    Nothing done on your work computer is private. Never use it for personal communication or anything that is not work related.

    1. hermit crab*

      I agree that it’s important to understand that none of your communications on your work computer are private. And there are certainly cases where your second sentence is true as well! But there are plenty of situations where using your work computer for minor personal things is fine, and I think that’s also an important thing for people new to the work world to understand — that you have to learn the nuances of what is OK in your workplace.

      Our employee handbook, for example, explicitly says that we’re allowed to use work IT resources for personal use, as long as it’s during a break/not interfering with our work and it’s consistent with our other policies (nothing inappropriate or illegal, not taking up all the bandwidth, etc.). I personally think it’s a great perk to be able to make a personal plane reservation over lunch, for example. (Or read AAM!) And my BFF works at the same company (in another office) so our work IMs are often conversations like “Hey, the report is ready for review. Did you decide if you’re going to the beach this weekend?” That is totally, 100% fine in our workplace, but of course it might not be elsewhere.

    2. Mallory Janis Ian*

      I think of work email as analogous to the tests you have to take for retail jobs:

      Retail job tests: “Nobody would ever steal anything, ever. Why, I’ve never even heard of stealing.”

      Work emails: “I never, ever gossip or throw even a hint of shade about anything, ever. Why, I’ve never even heard of snark.”

    3. Antilles*

      Eh, there are a lot of offices where personal use is completely fine. However, you just need to understand that anything you do on any work-provided technology is not private.
      Most notably, this also includes connecting to Wi-Fi on your personal smartphone – most people seem to forget that, but the company Wi-Fi is a company resource that can (and probably is) tracked. If you’re just doing typical things like sending text messages about lunch or checking a sports website or whatever, your company might not *care*, but they can track it.

  15. Marzipan*

    #1, the thing about a crush is that it’s far more about you than it is about the crushee.

    I am horribly prone to developing intense crushes on unavailable people, and what I’ve come to realise over an eternity of observing myself do this is that it’s entirely a case of me building a relatively safe space to daydream in, not any sort of reflection of reality. I always, always land on someone I can’t realistically have any sort of relationship with (in my case they’re usually married, here he is your boss) so there’s no prospect of having to actually do anything about it. It isn’t something that’s happening in reality, it’s something that’s happening in my head.

    And it’s a bit like a drug. You start to need more and more crush-interaction until it gets to the point – as your crush has – when it’s not fun anymore, and you start to behave weirdly around them because you’re having these really intense feelings and it’s difficult to reconcile them with the fact that they’re one-sided.

    The thing is, though, when it’s something about you it’s not really fair to hand it to the other person. All it would do would be make him feel weird and uncomfortable, and probably also make you feel even more weird and uncomfortable than you already do. This whole ‘I can’t stand the pain in his eyes’ thing you’re feeling is just the crush talking, and if you really think about it you’ll probably find that the times you listened to the crush and gave in to it didn’t actually go terribly well. Neither would this.

    Good luck to you in your new endeavours!

  16. Zephyrine*

    OP1: Noooooooooooooooooo. Do not tell your boss about your crush. There are a staggeringly large number of ways it could go spectacularly wrong. Alison’s suggestion of “personal issues” is excellent.

    OP3: I don’t have any advice to add, but I’m so sorry for your loss. Take extra good care of yourself.

  17. Noobtastic*

    #5 made me laugh. “Oh, you refused our offer? Well, then we’re rescinding it.” Like ‘You can’t dump me! I’m dumping YOU!”

    Is this junior high?

  18. Hoorah*

    LW3: I’m so sorry for your loss.

    I don’t think many people ask about the details of your sick leave. Most people might ask “hey, you feeling better?” But most of the time people realise it’s unnecessary and intrusive to ask “why were you off work last week?”

    Even if someone asks, it’s fine to say “it was something personal.” If that is too difficult to say without crying, please consider taking some extra time off. You deserve to have time to recover emotionally, too.

  19. Kate*

    Nr5: “ok, we’re rescinding the offer because your demands are too outrageous” LOL, this wording makes me think you’ve asked for a corner office and pay better than the CEOs, VIP season tickets for you whole family for whatever it is you enjoy watching and a lifetime supply of your favorite food – again, for you entire family! Or, like, a rock star going on a tour with quirky demands to be met.
    Ah, I needed that good laugh! So, anyway, bullet dodged, yeah. Seems like they’re not reasonable, at all. You wouldn’t want to work for people like those. Every time something would come up, they’d brush it off or threaten to fire you. Why would anyone want that???

    1. JanetM*

      Going off on a tangent: I have read (but cannot state with certainty that this claim is true) that the infamous “No brown M&Ms” rider had to do with confirming attention to detail. If that rider wasn’t complied with accurately, then the stage crew didn’t just check the rigging, they double-and-triple checked it.

      1. Tyche*

        Yes, it was a clause in the Van Halen’s concert contract. It’s a technique used even by IT and programmers to know if you read accurately the software/site/service policy. I don’t remember who stated in their policy that you had to give them your firstborn (or something similarly outrageous) and most people accepted!

      2. Pebbles*

        Similar (but certainly not as infamous) was the time husband and I were remodeling a bedroom and stuck in the middle of the remodeler’s contract was the line “Mention this clause number and receive a bottle of wine (white or red) free from us.” I definitely got my free bottle of wine!

      3. JKP*

        True. It was Van Halen.
        “As lead singer David Lee Roth explained in a 2012 interview, the bowl of M&Ms was an indicator of whether the concert promoter had actually read the band’s complicated contract.
        “If I came backstage, having been one of the architects of this lighting and staging design, and I saw brown M&Ms on the catering table, then I guarantee the promoter had not read the contract rider, and we would have to do a serious line check” of the entire stage setup, Roth said. ”

  20. lamuella*

    I can’t imagine what made the company in #5 think this was a good idea. In one short interaction they told you exactly the sort of company they are. Believe them.

    The other part they seem to be missing is that if you have a job interview with someone, you’re interviewing them just as much as the 0ther way round. Asking for time to make a decision about something this important is imperative, and them refusing to give you that time shows how they’ll react to other important decisions.

  21. Employment Lawyer*

    1. Should I tell my boss I’ve had a crush on him?
    If he’s single and if you’re still interested when you leave, sure.

  22. It's My Monday*

    OP #2: I know a lot of commentators have already said not to assume your email is private, but I do think that is a common misconception when first out of college and working for a company. It was for me and a few others have noted it as well. I can’t tell by your example if you were saying something you knew was inappropriate on Skype or if he was just using that as a blanket warning/heads up on electronic communication not being private.

    Personally, I do think your manager/boss owes you at least specifics as to what the conversation was and how it could be construed. You could think HARD but without specifics you could think it was the fact that you said “Women in general look horrid in monochromatic pantsuits” when the real offending comment was something like “I wonder if they’ve convinced Mexico to pay for the wall yet” . It can just skew too much when you are new to the workplace and especially since you mentioned the political climate specifically.

    As far as taking all the blame, he may also have had the conversation with the other person in the conversation, so I wouldn’t place too much worry on that. And frankly, that part isn’t really necessary for you to be more aware of your comments going forward.

    1. It's My Monday*

      PS: I realized when I hit “send” those were 2 horribly different examples but for whatever reason were the first things that popped into my head. I am not trying to start any political debates, be nice to me please.

    2. Lora*

      Yeah…they owe you specifics I think. Had a boss who was pathologically non-confrontational completely flip his lid when I sent an email to another department that brusquely told them they had to do a thing for compliance reasons because our customer was in the US, even if the department was in Germany. I wasn’t rude, just matter-of-fact. The other department REALLY didn’t want to do the thing because it would add work on their end and they’d have to revise a process. So they complained to boss that I had been rude to them, because they knew they couldn’t wiggle out of the compliance thing, but they could confuse the issue enough that they could delay actually having to do anything for a long while. Boss called me into his office and read me the riot act, and I had NO idea what he was talking about. I finally demanded to see what the heck he was even talking about, then he asked the other department to forward my offending email, and upon reading it with HR, it turned out that I was not being a big meanie after all. But after that he was just in BEC mode and I could do nothing right for him. I quit for a much better job and he got fired, soooo…

    3. LBK*

      I agree – that kind of vague “you know what you did” feedback is bad management. If he had an issue with something he should’ve been explicit about what conversation he was referring to, otherwise it’s not actionable for the OP since clearly she can’t figure out what he was talking about.

  23. ACS*

    LW #4, I had this situation happen. An employment agency contacted me about a temp-to-hire job, made promises about a six-month trial period, and ensured me that the lower initial salary would be made up once I proved myself and my contract was re-upped. I had never dealt with anything other than a direct permanent hiring before, and was totally naive. I learned much later that the agency was motivated to keep my salary low, because the pay for the position was capped, and the more I negotiated, the more it cut into their share.

    Six months later, the meager raise offered made my blood boil. I negotiated more, but it was a big drama (mostly caused by the agency) and it still didn’t come up to what it should have been. When I was finally permanently hired and the agency was cut out of the process, the offer from the company was ALSO lower than it should have been. So, this entire process had a stair-step effect.

    That said, I would not have asked for retroactive pay. Just know that once you give in, all future dealings will be affected by your lower starting point.

  24. Faith*

    OP3, I’m very sorry for your loss. I had a missed miscarriage very early in the pregnancy, so I didn’t tell anyone what the reason for my absence was. I had my D&C scheduled the same day I learned about the miscarriage, so I basically told everyone that during a routine medical checkup my doctor found a non-life threatening but urgent problem, and I had to go through a procedure to address it. Because I was only a few weeks into my pregnancy, I didn’t have a very long recovery period, so I only missed a couple of days of work.
    I will say that when a coworker’s wife had a late term miscarriage, we sent them a sympathy card and flowers from the team, but when he was back at the office, no one asked him any questions unless he started talking about it himself. I was worried on his behalf that people would be nosy, but I was pleasantly surprised.

    1. KumquatOC*

      Sympathy cards can be a weird invitation to be nosy! I’m glad your office handled it well.

      When I had a miscarriage, my husband took some time off “to support me in a health crisis” – one of his coworkers (who is a personal friend of mine) knew about the pregnancy, but most people at his office weren’t aware. When Friend-Coworker suggested sending a sympathy card, the nosey admin deflected and deferred and basically refused to send the card until someone told her the details of my health crisis. Friend-Coworker made it happen eventually anyway without telling the office. But Nosey Admin cornered me at the holiday party a few months later and tried to wheedle it out of me there. It was super uncomfortable from start to finish.

  25. Miss Ann Thrope*

    #3 I’m so sorry for your loss. I had a missed miscarriage at 12 weeks and it was one of the most difficult things to go through. The time before the D&C was especially rough: *hugs*

    I’m so glad you have a supportive boss.

    1. August*

      I’m mostly here to express sympathy and solidarity– I don’t have a ton of advice but I am so sorry for your loss OP #3 (and yours Miss Ann Thrope).

      I had a missed miscarriage in June, and I was lucky when I returned to work in that nobody asked any follow up questions. I had told my boss that I was having some health issues that would require a minor surgery (which is of course true, but at the same time it really felt like it was NOT the whole story). Once I returned, the most I had to say was, “I had a minor surgery and everything went as planned but I’m still in recovery mode.” Again, true but didn’t even begin to cover it. And I agree with Miss Ann Thrope, the time before the D&C (and in my case the week between the two ultrasounds I had to have to confirm for sure that the pregnancy was no longer viable) was the worst part, but everyone is different and the experience is miserable all around. Sending warm thoughts your way. Good luck with everything!

  26. Cadbury Cream Egg*

    OP#1, don’t tell him. It will just make things more awkward and really, what is he expected to do with the information at that point? Allison’s general explanation is better. I once had someone tell me the same thing before he left for a new job although ours was a more customer-service type relationship but we worked in the same building, just on different sides of the business need. When he told me I was so not prepared and since I was completely oblivious to his feelings prior to that point I was not prepared with a response and just changed the subject (and turned bright red I’m sure).
    Also, and I don’t know think it’s mentioned in your letter, if he has a REAL wife (or girlfriend, significant other, etc.) it makes it even more awkward, because again, what is the expectation on what to do with that information? I know you just want to provide a reason for your being ‘frosty’ as you say but depending on how you phrase things that premise may be lost and confessing to him won’t make things any better and may in fact make things worse.

    1. Allison*

      There’ve been times in my life where I strongly suspect a guy has a crush on me, often a friend or coworker, and I dread the moment where he gets the guts to confess his feelings, because I don’t reciprocate them, and I know it’ll be uncomfortable and I’ll have to gently explain I don’t feel that way and it’ll break his heart. I try really hard not to send any mixed messages, or do anything that might inadvertently think I feel the same way, in case maybe they get realistic and think “she doesn’t feel the same way, it’s best to let this go.”

      And then, some guys can only confess this when drunk, and one guy ended up slobbering all over me and touching me very inappropriately, because one of his well-meaning friends told him to go for it.

      On the other hand, relationships have to start somewhere. Think of all the couples that wouldn’t exist if no one confessed their true feelings! I get it, I do, sometimes a person has to take a risk. But I think it’s important to read the situation, and maybe ask them to hang one-on-one to confess your feelings rather than completely blind-side them.

      1. Emi.*

        It sounds like you may be taking on more responsibility for these guys’ feelings than is warranted. As long as you’re kind and polite, and don’t actually lead them up the garden path, you’re fine.

  27. Joan Holloway*

    Re: OP 5

    “and the interviewer then said ‘ok, we’re rescinding the offer because your demands are too outrageous.'”

    Just… what?! You made the right decision, 100%.

    1. Jaybeetee*

      This suggests to me that we’re in “crappy entry-level job” territory. When I was still doing fast food and customer service work, “take time to think about it” wasn’t much of a thing, because you needed A Job, they were offering you A Job, what was there to think about?

      It does remind me of my own “bullet dodged” story when I was desperate to get out of my then-job, and interviewed for this crappy little delivery service call centre. I told the interviewer even then that I’d need to give 2 weeks notice to my present employers, which seemed problematic for him, and he indicated that I’d be starting at minimum wage, but after a few months my pay would rise to…a little bit over minimum wage. A day or two later, he called offering me the job, asking if I could start *the next day*. I told him again that I needed to give notice to my employers (I was in a manager role at that job, though it still wasn’t much above entry level). He wouldn’t budge, I declined the offer, he presumably went down his list and called the next person desperate for employment Anywhere who could presumably start in 24 hours.

      That and a couple of other negative experiences taught me to stay away from companies that can’t get it together enough to wait two weeks for you to give notice, and have little enough respect for you/your present employment that they expect you to take the fall. Frankly, every time I’ve burned a bridge for a job like that, it’s turned out badly.

  28. ZVA*

    OP #1, just adding to the chorus of commenters saying here… don’t tell him. From your comment, it seems like the only reason you want to do so is that you “don’t want to leave him thinking that I hate him”—but, as Alison points out, there are ways to accomplish that without confessing your feelings. I would say exactly what she suggests. You say it’s unlikely you’ll see him again, but you really never know… and why risk awkwardness or discomfort, either now or in future, when it’s so unnecessary?

  29. Sheworkshardforthemoney*

    No. 2 It’s always a good idea to never trash talk your work, co-workers, or almost anything while at work because it’s way too easy to be taken out of context. “My computer is so slow today, I’m going to pour coffee on it to make it work faster!” “Oooh, Fergus is destroying company equipment”

  30. Bend & Snap*

    #1 my first thought was “oh, honey, no.” Which is not my usual tone but this is suuuuuuch a bad idea. Don’t do it.

    1. Student*

      OP #1, think about some of the broader implications on your job, too. There’s a decent chance that this kind of confession of a crush will get you tarred with the “woman who flirts with boss to get ahead unfairly” label. He’ll say something, maybe even something entirely kind, to a friend or colleague about your confession, and then they’ll twist it into a nasty and familiar narrative, and that nasty narrative will follow you around. That’s not fair or deserved, but it’s likely to impact you professionally much more so than it’d impact the guy.

  31. Sheworkshardforthemoney*

    No. 5. You didn’t dodge a red flag. You missed a dumpster fire fueled with oil. If they consider wanting 24 hours to think about a job offer “outrageous”, imagine the office morale. The one time I was offered a job on the spot after a quick look at my resume sent my senses on high alert. I heard later that it was a toxic workplace with high turnover and they were desperate for any warm body.

  32. Hiring Mgr*

    I always used “work spouse” to refer my secret second family in another city (i had met that wife at a work conference–she was an attendee in a panel discussion I moderated)

  33. ArtK*

    LW #5: Somebody’s expectations are outrageous here, but I can assure you that they’re not yours. “Make a decision this instant” is a well-known high-pressure sales technique that completely inappropriate for employment. My guess is that behavior was just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to working for that boss. You absolutely dodged a big bullet with this. There is nothing unreasonable at all in taking time to make an important life decision.

  34. stitchinthyme*

    #5 reminds me of a situation my husband had once. He interviewed on a Thursday, they offered him the job on the spot and asked him to start the very next day. Since he was unemployed at the time, he took it despite the huge red flag, and when he got there, he found out that the nice coworker he was looking forward to working with was leaving, and this was his last day, and my husband had to learn his entire job in order to take over for him in one day. It was downhill from there — the place was horrible in a lot of other ways, and he only stayed a couple months before he found something better.

  35. Beth*

    OP #3, I’m so, so sorry for your loss. I lost my first pregnancy at 16 weeks and I’m sitting here with my heart breaking for you.

    One thing that helped me with crying if someone asked a question: try squeezing the skin between your thumb and index finger when you feel like you’re about to cry. My mother is forever sending me questionable “health tip” articles, but that one actually worked for me.

  36. Naruto*

    #2, you note that it was a conversation “between two people who may have been saying equally inappropriate things.” Here’s a work lesson for you: don’t. Be professional and don’t say inappropriate things at work. You’ll come out of it looking bad, even if the other person also looks bad (or should).

  37. NoCryingInBaseball*

    To LW #3:

    Alison’s advice on having a designated coworker spread the word was incredibly helpful to me this past year. I had an ectopic pregnancy that went badly, and I ended up out of work for two weeks, and clearly in pretty bad shape when I came back (physically and emotionally). Having everyone on the same page before I got back, without me having to tell the story over and over made it way easier for me to get back into the swing and not be in full feeling-my-feelings mode as information trickled around.

    Best wishes to you and your family.

  38. In Your Shoes*


    Just wanted to say I’m so sorry. I dealt with something very similar. I ended up terminating a pregnancy due to chromosomal abnormalities (incompatible w/ life) around 15 weeks. I was out of the office for a week. My team knew I was pregnant – I was visibly pregnant, so when I returned I had to tell everyone that I was no longer pregnant (I chose not to get into the details of it). I ended up having a conversation with my manager before I went out, so she knew, but I ended up emailing close coworkers and letting them know I was no longer pregnant. I prefaced it with “this is a weird thing to get over email, but I’m having a hard time talking about it…” People get it and will be compassionate, and if they’re not it will probably be awkward enough for them not to discuss it further.

    Again, I’m so sorry for your loss.

  39. Annie*

    As for LW #2, I totally feel his or her pain on this. I’ve been in the same situation. I had a former boss tell me she heard some negative things about me, but didn’t tell me what they were or what I did wrong. I can’t change if I’m not told what the problem is. At that point, I felt like she was just listening to gossip. Part of the role of the manager is to help you improve, they should have told you what was inappropriate so you can understand and not do that again.

  40. Case of the Mondays*

    For number 1, every situation is different and it is hard to give advice without a lot more info. The fact that he’s your boss makes me lead towards no, don’t say anything. On the other hand, I’ve been the one suddenly receiving the cold shoulder. I (engaged at the time) became very close with a single male coworker. We spent a ton of time together, probably flirted a bit more than we should and worked well together. One day he requested a transfer to another unit. He stopped talking to me more than hi and bye. It was clear he was avoiding me. I was heartbroken. He was one of my best friends and I just had no idea what I had done to hurt him and he wasn’t telling me. He would say nothing was wrong but it was so so obvious it was.

    Another older wiser coworker noted that my friend’s behavior changed when I got married. He suggested that maybe friend had a major crush on me and was hoping I wouldn’t get married but now that I was, he had to distance himself from me to protect his own feelings and to not make a move on a married woman.

    I will never know if this was what happened or not. If it was, I would have really really really appreciated friend just saying “hey, I realized I like you a lot more than just friends and coworkers and now that you are married, I need to make some space between us.” I 100% would have respected and honored that. Instead I was always left wondering and even 10 years later, it still hurts a bit.

  41. nnn*

    If #1 is looking for an indirect option, either instead of or in addition to what Alison and others have suggested:

    After you leave the job and some time has passed (perhaps next time a “confess something embarrassing” meme is trending), post on your primary personal online presence something like “I had a huge crush on my boss from my old job, and I’m sure I made a complete fool of myself in my attempt not to make a fool of myself.” If you no longer have feelings, add something like “So glad that’s over!” Don’t name your boss, just say that it was your old boss.

    If Boss is thinking about you (whether because he misses you or because he was wondering why you were so weird) he’ll google you at some point, find this, and get an explanation. If he doesn’t think about you after you leave, he will never become aware of it, and the worst that will happen is your social media followers will know that you once acted with less than complete sangfroid in response to a crush.

  42. Michael*

    #3: So sorry. Recently someone had a miscarriage and it seemed to work well for a friend to say: “I have some sad news. X has asked me to tell you all that she miscarried this weekend and is having a hard time with it. She will be returning to work later this week and understands that you are all thinking of her, so there is no need to say anything.” Nobody said anything and it wasn’t awkward at all.

  43. Anonnynononon*

    I miscarried during a very busy time at work and was out for a few days. I told a few people on my team and my boss took the liberty of telling everyone else that I had the flu and then hurt my back. I kind of wish she hadn’t because I had to lie when people asked how my back was, and I wanted to cry and commiserate on some level. But I’m also really grateful she did because I really didn’t want to talk to anyone about it, especially random coworkers. I had one person to talk to if I needed and that was good for me. Maybe you can ask your boss to lie?

  44. Heather*

    #3: I had two miscarriages. I had D&Cs both times. I’m trying to remember exactly what I said, but I think I left it as “something that came up and I need to be away for a few days.” I’m usually an open book, so the vagueness I think kept people away. If someone asked about it, I said something like “I unexpectedly had to have surgery, but I’m fine now.”

    I’m so sorry for you. Take the time you need to heal inside and out. Some days will be harder than other and that’s okay. I also encourage you, when you are ready, to talk about what you have gone through. You will be amazed at how many people have suffered the same thing. Even if you don’t want to share, which is totally fine, please know you are not alone.

  45. Jill*

    #3…I still remember when a co-worker was out due to a miscarriage. She asked our manager to tell everyone for her and the script was so helpful, both to Coworker and to the rest of us. She said, “M will be out for a few more days. Unfortunately, she was pregnant and lost the baby. I’m sure we’d all like to express our concern and good wishes, but let’s remember that, for many people, work is a place where things can be Normal when the rest of your world is not so let’s let her decide if and when she wants to talk about it.”

    The key factors being a) the reminder that it is helpful to have a break from the chaos of life. And when your home-space is the one full of chaos, you really need the work-space to have normalcy and b)to let the person the upsetting thing happened to dictate whether it gets discussed and to what extent.

    I guess I”m posting this comment more for bosses who have to handle delicate situations like this.

  46. AW*

    I feel like what happened to #5 is another reason folks invoke their spouses when asking for time to think an offer over.

    #2 – I think your boss was being way too vague with <i.“we have seen what happened in the current political climate.” That could mean federal politics but that could also refer to something happening at the state or local level. They might be referring to office politics. They might even be referring to what’s been happening recently in the tech industry as “politics”. (Not trying to derail into a conversation about that but just pointing out that some people refer to that stuff as being political.)

    By saying what you did was bad given the current political climate that could mean anything from saying something about current federal policy, to putting sensitive company info in writing, to saying something related to race or gender. They should have been specific about what the problem is.

  47. Callie30*

    OP #2 – I am not a fan of vague ‘constructive’ feedback. My boss does this way too often – vague criticisms that are so general that it’s moot and unhelpful. More details are certainly needed to make any sort of positive change. I hope he tells you specifics that help with the situation!

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