I do regular happy hours with only one of my staff members, asking a new hire to go by her last name, and more

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

1. I have regular happy hours with only one of my staff members

I manage a specialty niche team of four within a larger department that otherwise doesn’t have specific teams. My direct reports are the only ones in the department who only report to one manager (me). Last year, I hired someone I knew from a previous job, let’s call her Mary, where we were at the same level, but now she reports to me. I am a happy hour aficionado, and regularly host happy hours for my staff where they are all invited (with no pressure to attend) and I pay for everything, maybe once or twice a month. These happy hours are billed as “unnecessary calorie hour,” because the goal is to focus on spending time outside work together in a less formal environment, not drinking alcohol. I do drink at these events, and historically, people who don’t drink have most often chosen not to come, whether they don’t drink for religious reasons or because they have a long drive home.

Increasingly, these invitations are only accepted by Mary, so we end up spending significantly more time together outside work than I spend with the others on my team. This isn’t a problem for me and I enjoy these outings, but I worry that the perception among the others on the team is that Mary gets special one-on-one time with me because she is my “drinking buddy.” I would be thrilled if others would attend and interact with me on a more personal level more regularly, but I also respect their off-work time and would never pressure them to hang out when they’d rather be doing something else. Mary definitely gets more of my attention because she chooses to join me at happy hour, and while it isn’t directly due to our prior relationship, I fear that it’s being perceived that way. But I want to keep doing happy hour because I really enjoy it! Since this is becoming less of a group-accepted kind of event, should I just stop doing it?

Yes, you should stop doing it. Regardless of your intent, the effect is that you’re having regular one-on-one social hang-outs with one of your employees, which can cause all sorts of problems with real or perceived favoritism. I get that it’s fun and so you’d rather keep doing it, but your responsibilities as a manager trump that.

If you want to keep having happy hours with colleagues, focus on organizing them with people who don’t work for you.

2. Asking a new hire to go by her last name

My name is … let’s say Arya. And I recently hired someone who is also named Arya. During the interview process, we discussed the awkwardness and potential risk-management-related issues with us being mixed up due to the nature of our positions and the fact that she is reporting to me.

She agreed it would be very confusing, and said she’d be happy to go by her last name, Stark. I have been introducing her as Stark to everyone, but noticed she has been introducing herself to people as Arya. I don’t want to be a jerk, but she had agreed during the interview process to go by Stark, and I feel pretty embarrassed at how this makes me look to the other folks who report to me, as if I forced her to go by another name, when really it was mutually agreed upon … or so I thought.

We have other folks in our organization who go by their last names and it has never been an issue before, so there is a precedent for this. How do I broach this with her without being a jerk? I can’t imagine what a nightmare it will be to have two Arya’s reporting to each other in our line of work.

Is it really going to be such a nightmare? It’s very, very common for offices to have two people with the same first name working closely together. Usually people solve it by using last initials and referring to Arya S. and Arya W. or something similar to that.

If she doesn’t want to go by her last name (and I realize she said she’d be okay with it, but it sounds like she might not really want to), you shouldn’t force her to do it; it’s not fair for her not to be able to use her name just because you were there first.

I’d talk to her and say something like this: “Hey, I know we’d talked earlier about you going by Stark to avoid confusion. I’ve noticed you’re using Arya — do you prefer that? If so, let’s start using Arya S. and Arya W. so that it’s clear who’s who.” And then if you’re talking to someone who doesn’t know the importance of including the initial, say something like, “When you follow up, make sure to ask for Arya Williams since there are two Arya’s here.”

3. Urging my severely diabetic coworker to get treatment

This morning a coworker informed us she would no longer be buying candy for the department because her tests came back that she has diabetes. I gently inquired if she received her A1C, not intending to inquire the actual number, and it came to light that the A1C converted to an average of 450 mmg/doL blood glucose. Using the American Diabetes Professional conversion calculator, that’s an A1C of 17.3. A diabetes diagnosis is made when a person has two A1Cs of 6.5 or greater in a row.

She says she’s going to try to control it with a ketogenic diet (which she admits will be challenging) and I asked if she was working with a dietitian and she said no. I asked if “they” (meaning her doctors), put her on insulin and she admitted she didn’t see a doctor. She ordered the blood tests herself and has self-diagnosed diabetes.

Not realizing how seriously her glucose was out of control, I simply encouraged her to test her blood sugar so she would know where she was and how her body handled her diet. (I am also aware of the risk of ketoacidosis.) She lamented the cost of test strips and when I mentioned that if she got a prescription for the strips, insurance would cover it. Then it came out that she hasn’t seen a doctor since the early 2000s and seems to have some baggage about seeing one.

After mentioning her glucose reading to a MD friend, he said he’d hospitalize her with insulin treatment if she were his patient, and said that a diabetic coma can occur at 500 mmg/doL. So apparently her diabetes is really severe and I’m concerned that she doesn’t realize how bad her health has gotten. I want to encourage her to see a doctor for treatment, but I feel out of place. You and your readers are awesome about phrasing things and I hope you can come through for me on this. We have a good rapport, but we don’t have a lot in common over which we’ve bonded. I’d like to handle this with kid gloves so she doesn’t shut down the topic altogether.

“I don’t want to pry into your medical situation, so I won’t bring this up again — but I know a bit about diabetes and the blood sugar level you mentioned is considered extremely serious. I believe a doctor would tell you that you’re in serious and possibly immediate danger if you don’t get medical treatment right away. Again, I don’t want to butt in and I won’t continue to raise this, but I’m worried about you and want to make sure you know that the numbers you saw are a really big deal and you might not have a lot of time to wait to see a doctor.”

At that point, you’ll have given her the information she needs, and it’ll be up to her what she does with it — so do stick to not asking about it again after that unless she brings it up.

Read an update to this letter here.

4. How to show that volunteer work led to paid work

Would it be strange state on a resume that you were a volunteer for an organization, which then turned into an expanded and compensated role doing similar work on a larger scale? The new job was essentially created for me and not advertised, and I feel like this shows a certain degree of accomplishment on my part, especially as someone without a huge history of being promoted at work. I feel like it wouldn’t have the same impact with “Statewide Teapot Outreach Coordinator” in my employment section and “City of Teaville Outreach Coordinator” in my volunteer section.

Thoughts on how to do this effectively and appropriately?

Not strange. List the statewide coordinator position in your employment section, and have one of your bullet points under it read something like “began as volunteer focusing of city of Teaville (2012-2013); staff position was created for me in response to that work.” (You’re including the dates for the volunteer work to make it clear that the dates you’re listing for the job don’t include the volunteer period.)

5. Is it worth continuing this conversation with a recruiter?

I had a recruiter reach out to me about a position that he felt I was the “perfect” fit. I politely responded, as I always do, that I am open to discuss new opportunities, but that my family and I are not interested in relocation at this time. Usually this is the end of the conversation and we wish each other well.

This recruiter has requested that we chat anyway. Should I expect him to try and sell the company and location – or – should I get my hopes up that the company will entertain the idea of remote work?

I don’t want to waste his time — we truly are not interested in leaving the area. Should I agree to discuss with him?

I wouldn’t worry about wasting his time — you’ve been up-front with him that you’re not going to relocate, and you’re not responsible for any belief he might have that he can change your mind. I’d be more worried about wasting your own time. But if you’re not too concerned about that, you could say this: “If doing the job remotely is possible or if you have other jobs in this area, I’d love to talk.”

Some recruiters are really terrible about ignoring what people tell them and trying to convince them to do something different, and it’s possible that’s what’s happening here. Or it’s possible that the employer is open to remote work, or that he just wants to get to know you in case he has something else come up that you could be the right fit for; a lot of recruiters are constantly trying to build their network of people they know because the person could be right for something down the road. (And of course, if you get on the phone and it’s clear he’s ignoring you about the location, you can always end the call.)

{ 684 comments… read them below }

  1. bunniferous*

    That letter about the diabetic coworker scares me. My husband has type 2 diabetes so I am quite aware that that coworker is quite literally risking her life.

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      My dad (we are now estranged, but anyway) was hospitalised with a blood sugar level of over 50 which I believe should have meant he was dead. Had textbook symptoms of diabetes and ignored them. (Turned out to actually be a blessing in disguise as they found something else they wouldn’t otherwise have found.) I doubt anyone would have been able to persuade him to see a doctor before he went into a coma.

      I’ve mentioned this below as well, but behaviour change isn’t a logical process. For example there are people who do not want to get help for a mental health problem because they don’t want to be like their parent who had the same mental health problem and didn’t control it well. Humans are not logical beings, especially if they come with a side order of already fearing doctors.

      1. Amber T*

        Denial is strong – “if I ignore it, it’ll go away/it doesn’t really exist.”

        My uncle ignored what clearly was diabetes for a long time (he had all of the common symptoms, including extreme weight loss without changing any lifestyle habits – he called it “magic.”) I forget what eventually pushed him over the edge (loss of feeling in his toes maybe?), but he finally saw his doctor, who immediately sent him the ER and, within a day or so, had his leg amputated from the knee down.

        This is tricky for the manager/OP, because no one should poke their head in other people’s medical business, especially in a professional setting… but this isn’t like the letter from last week where the boss decided they needed to have an opinion on their sub’s child’s medical appointments and testings, which was clearly the supervisor sticking her nose where it didn’t belong. The danger for the coworker is much more immediate, and the fact that she hasn’t seen a doctor is terrifying. OP, I think Alison’s advice is spot on – mention it once (as one decent human being to another), and then drop it, because as much as it frightens you, as much as you might want to force her to seek medical attention, you can’t.

        1. queen b*

          This whole situation seems kind of seems similar (but obviously much more life threatening!!) to if a coworker has a cold or is visibly shivering with the chills. I’d for sure speak up and tell them to go home because it’d be in their best interest to go get rest. It doesn’t seem like it’s overstepping to for OP to say that they are concerned for their coworker because this is very serious.

          I’d even offer to drive her to the hospital or the doctor myself if she is scared or has grudges about going. If this person is not going to advocate for themselves, and OP feels comfortable enough in their relationship to do so, it might be of benefit to this coworker to have someone by them in this uncertain time.

      2. Dust Bunny*

        Ramona Flowers: My mother call’s that “Schroedinger’s answer”, where if you don’t look for a solution, you maintain the illusion that there is a solution out there. If you look for it and find that there isn’t one, then you have to deal with that reality.

        She’s risking a lot: Her eyesight, her circulation, her kidneys. My mother was literally the only one in her dialysis group who didn’t get there via diabetes (she has a congenital kidney problem).

      3. Snark*

        Humans aren’t logical beings, it’s true, but there’s a wide gulf between the irrational biases and blind spots everybody has, and refusing to see a doctor for the better part of two decades and getting to a point where your undiagnosed diabetes could be lethal.

    2. Librarian of the North*

      Yes, this. My Husband also has type 2 diabetes. When he found out his level was around 14 or 15 I believe. The reason he found out was because he had started to go blind and went to the optometrist. It can be managed and the complications can be almost entirely avoided with the right care! He got on metformin right away and since then hasn’t had any blurry vision at all.

    3. Kayleigh*

      I am a type 1 diabetic and that letter caught my eye. That is VERY VERY serious – if I had an A1C of 17.3 (I’m in the UK, those are the units we use here) I would be feeling extremely unwell. I also DID go into a coma with severe ketoacidosis, which led to my diagnosis (at 20, so I remember the whole time well). In the weeks leading up to that I was so obviously unwell – I’d shed a lot of weight, had no energy and was getting through litres and litres of water a day and still feeling dehydrated. I can’t stress enough how important it is that she gets treatment like, yesterday – she will feel SO much better once she has the correct treatment in place.

      Normally I don’t like the idea of interfering in another colleague’s health, but knowing how serious this is, I think her closest work friend should absolutely speak up – this is way, way too important to ignore.

      1. Marillenbaum*

        Thank you for sharing your experience–that sounds scary, and I’m so glad you’re okay now.

      2. Blue Anne*

        Yes. When I first started reading the letter I was prepared to say “Don’t interfere with a colleague’s medical status”, but this is so severe, not saying anything at all is almost like not calling an ambulance if she was having a heart attack in front of you. :(

    4. Ellen*

      She is also risking the lives of anyone on the road when she drives. If she were drunk, you’d speak up. Driving with out of control blood sugar levels is a killer. Test strips, at wal mart, are roughly 20 cents apiece. The test kit is about 20 dollars. Your coworker may kill someone for, literally, less money than you think.

      1. krysb*

        My older brother’s best friend’s family died this way. He, his mom, and his two (if I remember correctly) siblings were driving somewhere, when another driver’s sugar went haywire, causing her to lose consciousness and hit their car. He and the diabetic driver were the only ones to survive the wreck. He had broken his leg in three places and saw his mom be decapitated. It was tragic.

        1. Spider*

          Same — my good friend’s father was killed by a man going into a diabetic coma while driving. Her father was a landscaper working in a client’s yard near the road, and the driver lost control of the car and struck him. It was a terrible loss to my friend and her family, and the driver suffered from a lot of guilt over his unwitting actions.

      2. SystemsLady*

        That’s actually usually more about low blood sugar than high blood sugar, but because she’s bad enough to be at risk of *slipping into a coma* it happens to apply.

        1. Chinook*

          I have to admit, I too was thinking that the OP’s co-worker is putting other lives ar risk. Uncontrolled diabetes can cause a coma or symptoms similair to drunkness. Usually I am alla bout staying out of or her people’s medical issues, but not when they are putting other lives at risk.

      3. Gazebo Slayer*

        In some states at least (including mine) anyone can report a medically impaired driver they know to the Department of Motor Vehicles. Google “report impaired driver [your state].”

        (If you’re in the US. If you’re not, I’m not sure, though there might be an equivalent process.)

        1. Turtle Candle*

          You can, but IME it’s not very effective. It’s still potentially worth it for the LW to try, but chances are high that, especially if it’s the only report, it won’t actually result in anything happening. (I speak from lengthy experience with a relative who was, by any sane measure, deeply unfit to drive. It took years, multiple reports, and doctor paperwork to get anything done, and that was with ample firsthand experiences of dangerous driving and a few actual accidents, rather than a potential for dangerous driving based on an undiagnosed possible medical condition.)

          At which point we’re back to “sometimes you can’t actually do anything about the problem.” Which, again, doesn’t mean the LW shouldn’t try, but I’m a bit concerned that the LW will internalize “if this person kills someone it’s blood on your hands,” and realistically they shouldn’t feel guilt over that because this is not, in the end, something in their control.

        2. Steph B*

          I think that that report needs to come from someone with more clinical knowledge of this situation, though. There are other commenters that have pointed out that that high of an A1c is suspiciously high / may be a false negative. Or misreported number by the OP’s coworker. Or any number of other items that we are not privy to.

          I can see the letter to Alison now: ‘I mentioned to my coworker in passing that I had had an abnormal lab test, he misheard the result, and now my drivers license has been revoked — what can I do?’

          Honestly, I think people here are confusing what can happen with severe hypoglycemia (so sudden drop of blood sugar) and advanced diabetic ketoacidosis, which isn’t typically sudden and usually is proceeded with a day+ of vomiting and other symptoms.

    5. Lynca*

      My dad had Type 2 Diabetes all my life but he had it under control. He was the only one of his siblings not to die or be severely impaired by uncontrolled Diabetes. And the first step in that is understanding what care you need which based on her comments she doesn’t.

      It can lead not only to a coma with blood sugar out of control but kidney damage, strokes, and other serious complications. The fact she wants to go on a ketogenic diet shows she’s not getting information from a reputable medical source. Diabetic ketoacidosis is a serious conditions that will kill you untreated. I understand being uncomfortable talking about this but this co-workers actions could kill her. Even my dad (who was incredibly live and let live) would step in to tell someone they’re basing their assumptions in incorrect information and give them correct information to make more informed choices. Sometimes they would not but it wasn’t because someone didn’t step in to tell them. In addition to the speech you could direct her to the American Diabetes Association website or a local hospital site (I know the major ones in my region have Heart Care/Diabetes Care/ Etc. Care pages wrapped up in living healthy) so you know she has the tools to get relevant, factual information.

    6. Sleepyheadzzz*

      She should get to the ER asap! That’s an extremely high A1C and it means she’s been living at those numbers for some time. It’s entirely possible she has LADA (type 1.5) with numbers that high.

      OP, you can’t force her, but i would try and stress that without knowing what kind of beast she’s dealing with, she could die. I’m not being hyperbolic. If she has 1.5 or 1, it cannot be controlled with diet. She will eventually die without treatment.

      I have T1 and it’s a fact of life for me that if i had no insulin i would probably be dead inside a week.

    7. MsChanandlerBong*

      That’s the worst A1C reading I’ve ever seen. My friend with type 1 diabetes got reamed by his doctor a while back, and his was “only” around 10. I’m worried for her as well.

      1. Just Another Techie*

        Heck, my doctor freaked out when mine was 6. Not technically diabetic, but I’m the only member of my family — going out to grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins — who does not have type II (yet) so my doc is watching me like hawk.

      2. Steph B*

        Honestly, I hope the OP’s coworker never stumbles upon this post — the judgement against her health given the very small amount of information we were given here is surprising to me.

        1. M-C*

          That may be because you’re lucky enough to be unfamiliar with diabetes. Those of us who’ve had to deal with it, whether for ourselves or for others, know what a huge red flag that one value is. What you’re seeing is not so much judgement as alarm, so don’t be too judgey yourself about it

          1. Steph B*

            Actually, my husband is Type 1, I was diagnosed Type 2 just over 8 years ago, and many members of my mother’s family are also Type 2.

            I fully understand the clinical significance of it. I also am fully aware of the feeling of shame / helplessness when first diagnosed. The collective internet arm-chair ‘shock’ is doing nothing for this OP or OP’s coworker.

            I’ve seen the long term effects of hyperglycemia. I’ve also seen the very immediate effects of good treatment (which I hope the OP’s coworker gets — my first doctor after diagnosis was amazing and my current endocrinologist is one of my favorite people) and the benefits of good blood sugar control. I don’t think pointing out how these numbers are the worst people have seen or higher than they realized were possible are useful in anyway.

            1. Beancounter in Texas*

              Diabetic coworker OP here – You mention a GREAT point about the initial feeling of shame or helplessness at her (self) diagnosis. I’ll keep that in mind with my coworker.

              1. Steph B*

                I just have to say that I’m glad that your coworker has someone who is as conscientious as you!

                I am still not very likely to bring up my diagnosis with coworkers (just started a new job and basically hiding my testing / insulin injections as long as I can) because it usually comes with judgement at some point in terms of ‘diet / exercise / have you tried this remedy?’ or comparisons to an older family member who lost a limb / eyesight or died as a result.

          2. Steph B*

            And I apologize for the judgement in my initial comment. I guess it just felt like, in reading these comments, people are piling on at this point about the A1c number which may or may not even be accurate.

    8. Spooky*

      That was my first thought as well. I have a distant family member who lost a leg to untreated diabetes, and an aunt who was unfortunately found dead last month after not properly treating hers. People frequently don’t take diabetes seriously enough–it is a major disease, and it can (and does) kill.

      1. Myrin*

        I’m reading all of these comments with great fascination – I only have very rough knowledge of diabetes and had no idea what kind of consequences it can have!

      2. Snark*

        And you can have kidney damage, have eye and vision issues up to and including blindness, brain damage….

      3. Alienor*

        My father had undiagnosed Type II and only found out because it caused him to have a series of small strokes that culminated in a larger stroke. Nine months later, he died at age 67 from a cascade of diabetes-related problems, including gangrene that led to a limb amputation. Prior to his diagnosis, I had noticed something a little “off” about him when we’d talk on the phone (he lived 800 miles away in another state) but without seeing him daily, I didn’t really realize how serious it was. I know the OP doesn’t want to be that nosy colleague, but I wish I’d had her opportunity to help my dad get to a doctor before things went too far.

        1. Churc*

          I am so sorry about your father. Two years ago my ex-husband suffered an ischemic stroke that went undiagnosed for a while and led to such severe complications that at age 65, he will likely never leave the nursing home. Our daughter learned later on that he had been diagnosed a full year earlier with Type II diabetes but instead of seeing a physician for treatment decided to “fix” it himself with some kind of herbal remedy and an OTC weight loss supplement. No one knew. He didn’t trust doctors, never finished the whole bottle of prescribed antibiotics, only agreed to treatment for life-threatening sleep apnea after I threatened to leave…he was not a stupid man, had advanced degrees, had a head for business. He lost everything because of his stubbornness. It’s terrible when someone gets sick because they don’t recognize the warning signs, but when they deliberately avoid treatment it’s a slap in the face to the rest of the world.

    9. Potato*

      Just wanted to add that while coworker might be type 2, which can be treated with diet and exercise, she could also be type 1, which would make her insulin dependent. If that was the case, she won’t be able to get better on her own—not that she should attempt that anyway, but it’s worth pointing out.

      It’s very kind of you to care, OP3, and I hope everything works out.

      1. justsomeone*

        Chances are if she were type 1 with those levels she’d be dead. The effects of blood sugar on a type 1 kills much faster than type 2. It’s possible sure, but a very slim possible with her reporting how long she’s been living without care and with those symptoms.
        (My husband is T1.)

        1. Steph B*

          Every person’s progression is different, every Type 1’s ‘honeymoon’ pancreas period is different, and it is dangerous for us to arm chair diagnose based on the experiences of our loved ones alone. My husband is also Type 1.

          I had a friend in middle school who ended up in the hospital with DKA because she was over weight and thus the physician decided it must be Type 2 & she could control it with diet alone. She nearly died.

    10. Dang*

      Yep! Type 2 here – was diagnosed at an A1c of 7.5, and anytime my BG is over 200 I feel awful. I can’t imagine how bad your coworker feels and I know there’s a lot of shame that can come with this diagnosis, but that level is dangerous, plain and simple.

    11. Samiratou*

      At first I was cringing at OP’s questioning but by the end, yeah… Scary stuff. I don’t know if you know Coworker’s manager, OP, but if you do it might be worth bringing it up in case the manager might be able to at least reassure her that she will be able to take the time off she needs to get well and direct to any corporate resources that may help her, stuff like that.

      1. Snark*

        Hard disagree. I realize this impulse is coming from a good and helpful place, but it’s not OP3’s information to share. There’s only so much you can or should do to intervene in someone else’s health situation.

    12. Serin*

      I’m not convinced that her self-diagnosis based on self-testing is accurate. I don’t know what kind of fasting is required to get an accurate response, but whatever it is, who knows whether it happened or not.

      The answer is the same either way, though — she should go see a doctor for a professional test and diagnosis and some professional instructions.

        1. M-C*

          And an A1c isn’t a do-it-yourself test, so while she may have gotten one without the help of a prescribing doctor, there is very little chance that the results are inaccurate, they would be coming directly from the lab.

          1. Steph B*

            Actually, it is very possible to buy an A1c test off the counter at your local pharmacy or online.

      1. GreenDoor*

        I, too, was thinking that OP’s coworker should get a professional test done just to double check that her self-test was accurate. I agree with AAM – I think this is something you bring up once, and your tone is “I’m trying to be gentle and caring”. But after that, you need to stay out.

        My aunt told me she was recently diagnosed with diabetes. Having just had it twice (gestational) with both pregnancies, I asked, “Did you talk to a dietician about the diabetes diet?” Well, for my aunt, who has been morbidly obese her whole life, that was the wrong choice of words. She said, “I was on it but I quit because I wasn’t losing weight.” No amount of explaining that this “diet” isn’t for wight loss could convince her to get back on the plan. I asked about insulin and she said she hates needles. I told her I administered my own insulin and you barely feel the needles. But nope, she continues to ignore it. Even knowing her brother died young of pancreatic cancer wasn’t enough to motivate her to take better care of herself.

        People will delude themselves and ignore what’s right in front of their face as they wish. It’s frustrating, but you can’t use logic here, as others have said.

        1. FormerEmployee*

          While the diet isn’t for weight loss, I am surprised that someone who is morbidly obese didn’t start losing weight as soon as she started on that type of diet. Once you cut out most of the junk foods and a lot of the carbs, you generally just start to lose weight.

    13. voluptuousfire*

      This scares me. My mom had T1 and my dad has T2. To have an A1C of 17(!) and to try to control that with a keto diet…that’s really dumb, not to mention dangerous. She needs meds and a visit to an endrocrinologist!

      I’ve seen what diabetes can do (mom passed from complications of it and dad has some kidney issues with it) and it’s not pretty.

    14. Elizabeth West*

      It frustrates me just to read about it. I used to work with a really cool woman who was afraid of doctors. She had some issues and wouldn’t go in, for months and months, until pain started in her back and it got so severe she couldn’t handle it.

      They found she had breast cancer that had spread to her spine. She only lived for a couple of months after the diagnosis–there was nothing they could do. If she had been having regular exams or gone in earlier, they might have been able to save her.

      I know you can’t force another adult to get medical attention, but sometimes I wish you could. Or that you could hit them upside the head with a clue-by-four.

    15. sumthing*

      I’m putting this here because I saw it partially but not completely covered below. People have mentioned that the test could be off. I want to add that the AC1 test can give artificially high readings for particular hemoglobin variants. People of Mediterranean, African or Southeast Asian descent are particularly at risk for having these variants and getting reading that are off. I’m not saying this to belittle the OPs concerns, I’m saying it to underscore how important it is to speak to a medical professional about the test results.

      (It’s really not clear to me from the letter if the employee did the AC1 test, converted it to a glucose level, then the OP converted back to AC1, or if the employee did a fasting glucose level through a lab.)

    16. anon for this*

      I am a US MD. I’m just glancing over letter #3, and something doesn’t add up. I’m confused by the statement “and it came to light that the A1C converted to an average of 450 mmg/doL blood glucose. Using the American Diabetes Professional conversion calculator, that’s an A1C of 17.3.” Later it states “She ordered the blood tests herself and has self-diagnosed diabetes.” (which, in some US states, is possible – legislation has been passed allowing patients to order their own lab tests without orders from a medical professional). An A1c level is an average of your blood glucose readings over 3 months, since it measures how much your red blood cells (that circulate for 3 months on average) have been non-enzymatically modified with glucose. I’m unclear why this person would say “that the A1C converted to an average of 450 mmg/doL blood glucose” since I don’t know of any A1c result that would be reported that way on a patient copy. For the record, I have seen A1cs that high on occasion, but in people with serious diabetic complications like glaucoma, kidney disease, numbness and tingling of their feet, and wound infections. I highly doubt that this A1c result is accurate if this person is otherwise healthy. I do think she needs to see a medical professional who she’s comfortable with to go over these lab results with her and help her interpret them correctly, as well as get further labs done and appropriate preventative health screens for her age and demographics.

      1. Theodoric of York*

        I worked for 9 years in R&D at a company that makes glucose meters, test strips, and more advanced tech for people with diabetes. In US units, 17.3% A1c level translates to (approximately) 490 mg/dL. 450 mg/dL is close enough.

        1. anon for this*

          I’m not questioning that an A1c corresponds to an average 3 month blood sugar of 490 mg/dL – I’m just saying it seems very inconsistent with the presentation of a person who’s asymptomatic and newly diagnosed with diabetes. I think some information got missed or crossed somewhere along the way. This is a MAJOR pitfall in self-diagnosing and self-interpreting labs as a layperson without seeing a medical provider who can decide what tests are appropriate for a given patient and then explaining and managing the results.

  2. Liz*

    LW #3, if your employer has an EAP, you might also mention that as a starting point in addressing her issues around seeing doctors?

    But I agree with Alison — mention it once, then let it drop. Which might be hard — suddenly I’m concerned for your colleague, whom I’ve never met — but she has to be the one to take steps here. (I hope she’s okay, and, best case scenario, this is a mis-self-diagnosis.)

    1. Triplestep*

      Whether or not the employer has an EAP, OP#3’s energy is SO MUCH better spent on getting help for the baggage around not seeing a doctor. If things have gotten this bad and she still hasn’t seen a doctor, it’s going to take more than encouragement from OP#3 to get her here. I really think this is where OP#3’s energy should be spent, frankly. I don’t think she’ll get even half-way through Alison’s script before the co-worker has dismissed what she’s saying. (I know someone like this co-worker, and getting a social worker involved is what it took.)

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        Normally I’d agree on you, but sometimes you have to put out the fire before you work up a plan to prevent more fires.

      2. Snark*

        “Whether or not the employer has an EAP, OP#3’s energy is SO MUCH better spent on getting help for the baggage around not seeing a doctor.”

        Whoa whoa whoa – are you talking about OP3 or OP3’s coworker? Because I disagree really, really hard that it’s a coworker’s place to address your baggage around seeing a doctor. Beyond saying what Alison provided a script for, OP3 entirely lacks the standing to swoop in and save the diabetic coworker.

        1. Triplestep*

          Late in responding, but what I meant was OP#3 should suggest she see a social worker or counselor, not a doctor. If the advice assumes that OP#3 has the standing to suggest co-worker see a doctor, why does she not have the standing to suggest co-worker see a counselor?

    2. Alison Read*

      An angle might be referring their coworker to a nurse practitioner or some other similar, less baggage, provider. She’ll most likely be transferred to more specialized care but these intermediaries are trained for navigating the road blocks (wether logistic or psychological) facilitating that transition. Perhaps the coworker could accept a clinic that has no visible white smocks, so to speak?

  3. Dinosaur*

    Normally I’m not a fan of repeatedly bringing up health concerns one may have about other people, but I think OP 3’s situation would be an exception for me. OP 3, you have to live with yourself–even if it feels out of place, you’ll feel better having said something than if you didn’t. You can’t make her seek treatment, but you can do your duty as a human being who has information another human being may not have. Alison’s script is great, and I hope it all goes well.

    1. Sami*

      I agree. Those numbers and her “treatment” plan are scary. Especially her a1c number. She really does need to see a doctor, preferably an endocrinologist ASAP. This is life-threatening. She needs insulin and probably more medications. Not to mention, test strips and a meter.
      I totally understand how scary it is, but this is too important to ignore.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        True, but OP is also going to have to accept that you cannot force their coworker to seek treatment. Which is really hard to do, so self-care is important.

        I think it would also be reasonable to set a boundary with your coworker that you do not want to hear any details about their blood sugar levels unless they are willing to get treatment as it is really hard for you to hear such worrying info and know they aren’t getting help. It’s a reasonable boundary to set and might even help persuade them to get help.

        The thing is, you have to go gently and carefully with people who fear doctors. You can’t effect behaviour change just by telling someone the facts, and it can even make them dig their heels in more. So tell them the facts once, use Alison’s script, and then disengage and set boundaries.

        1. seejay*

          This. Putting pressure, no matter how worried you are about them, no matter how serious the situation is, isn’t the coworker’s business. It sucks but she’s not her relative or even close friend. She can make the case once, but after that she needs to just back off and let the chips fall where they may.

          I have coworkers that I actually care about and consider friends and they have a habit of sending me articles or making comments on things they disagree with that I’m doing… I tolerate it because I care about them, and for the most part it just makes me roll my eyes, but if I didn’t care about them enough or if they were poking at something that was a fear or bothered me? Or even if they increased pressure on me about it? I’d be getting angry and digging my heels in. This woman is an adult and she can make her own decisions, no matter how poor they are, without someone trying to pressure her into doing something she doesn’t want or isn’t ready for unfortunately. :/

        2. Susan K*

          Yes, no matter what happens — if the coworker refuses to get treatment and ends up in a diabetic coma — it’s not OP #3’s responsibility. You can’t force someone to go to the doctor. Giving her the information and urging her to see a doctor is pretty much all you can do as a coworker. So do that (and normally I would say MYOB about other people’s health, but I think a potentially life-threatening condition is an exception) and realize that the rest is up to her.

        3. Zip Silver*

          Well, if she happens to go into a coma at work, then OP could force the issue by calling an ambulance and telling the EMTs that it’s untreated diabetes.

          1. Ramona Flowers*

            No, do not do this – coworker has not been diagnosed with diabetes, so that’s actually not correct intel. Stick to facts and say she recently self-tested her blood sugar.

          2. ..Kat..*

            In the United States, doing a portable blood sugar is an expected standard of care for an unconscious patient. EMTs carry the equipment with them in their jump bags.

              1. anon24*

                In some states they do. New protocols allow basic EMTs to test for blood sugar levels and yes it’s standard of care to test it in unconscious or confused patients.

              2. Hobgoblin*

                Here in VA, EMT-B’s check blood glucose. As Kat said, it’s a fairly standard part of assessing vital signs (not for all patients, but for many).

          3. Turquoisecow*

            If she fell unconscious, I think EMTs or doctors would probably question the blood sugar – ask if she’d eaten, etc that day, and possibly check themselves, thus essentially forcing her to get care.

          4. Not So NewReader*

            I see nothing wrong with telling the EMTs that coworker had mentioned high blood sugar on numerous occasions. The EMTs have to start searching somewhere and they can check that then move on if necessary. I don’t think withholding substantial information from the EMTs is a good idea.

      2. Student*

        Keep in mind that the available evidence is self-gathered by the co-worker here, and reported secondhand by the OP. This wasn’t a test administered by a doctor and evaluated in a clinical setting that is required to adhere to specific standards (like test uncertainty, false positives). It is in the best interests of companies that sell these kits to get positive results that scare consumers into buying their company-trademarked remedy.

        She may have a severe problem. She may have a mild problem , or no problem, and a crappy kit. She may have a problem in her head, or want attention at work. She may have reported the number she gave the OP wrong, and it’s also possible the OP misheard or misunderstood her. We just don’t know – our data is very limited and from a pretty bad source (no fault of the OP). We do know that she, at least, doesn’t think the problem and attendant actual symptoms are severe enough to see a doctor. They are severe enough to google some symptoms, buy some internet test kit, and select some internet diet fad to address. If we assume she’s not nuts, that suggests she might have some problems, gullibility among them, but probably isn’t actually in dying in imminent danger of dying.

        1. Medical social worker*

          It was examined in a clinical setting though. It’s pretty clear that she went to an actual lab, got blood drawn, and the lab sent her the results. A1C measures blood sugar levels over 3 months, so it’s not like she tested herself on a cheap home meter once and panicked.

          OP’s coworker is in pretty serious danger here, to the point I’d be tempted to drag her to the hospital myself. I’m kind of shocked the lab didn’t say anything in their results, but I guess I also don’t know their ethical standards

          1. Colette*

            Is it? It sounds like no doctor was involved. Here you need a req for blood work, so I’d suspect this was something else. And we also don’t know the conditions of the test, or even if the coworker understood the results or remembered them correctly.

            1. Say what, now?*

              We have a lab in town called “Any Test Now,” which as the name suggests allows you to go in without a doctor and get any medical test done at your own expense. She may have gone to a similar place.

              1. JessaB*

                yes but do we know she even did the test properly? A1C should be a fasting test for all you know she had a major meal before the test which would really mess up the numbers. I wasn’t paying attention one day and completely bollixed it and my test came back massively high and I remembered I had a huge Coke on the way to the doctor’s and completely forgot that I had fasting bloodwork. I mean I have no idea where I put my brain that morning. But my doctor was an hour drive away and I just sailed through the fast food joint on auto pilot. And I’m usually pretty good about remembering that stuff.

                1. TackyB*

                  A1C is not a fasting test. It is the overnight glucose test that you would fast for. Both are usually tested in the same draw.

                2. Gadfly*

                  I understood that She didn’t have an a1c done. Didn’t the OP calculated it from a (fasting/not fasting/who knows) blood glucose test?

                3. Anononon*

                  A1C would not be messed up by not fasting. I have it done every three months, no fasting. Fasting blood glucose is different as it’s looking at your baseline blood glucose. A1C is like taking an average of your blood glucose over the last 90 days and is not affected by fasting.

                4. Anna*

                  @ Gadfly – The way I read it, coworker knew her A1C; the OP calculated backwards from the A1C to figure out what the coworker’s average blood glucose levels were running.

              2. Steph B*

                There are also home A1c test kits, similar to blood sugar monitors, that you can pick up at the local pharmacy. There really could be no clinical oversight here.

            2. Turquoisecow*

              Yeah the fact that she has serious baggage about doctors makes me think this test was not clinically performed and is not accurate. I think if she did go to a doctor, the doctor would first (unless other symptoms were obviously pointing that way) order another test to confirm the self-diagnosis. Even if all her symptoms did point toward diabetes, he might begin treatment, but still get another test. Doctors don’t want to treat an illness that they aren’t certain exists.

              1. JessaB*

                Yeh nearly every doctor I’ve ever seen, unless a test is so bad that it’s “go to hospital, now, right now.” Make no diagnosis on just one test. You always need at least two particularly if your symptoms are outliers. Either very low or very high. And even if they send you to hospital the first thing they normally do is insist on another test in a controlled setting.

            3. JB (not in Houston)*

              In most states in the US, you can order lab tests from online companies and take the paperwork to a local lab (LabCorp or Quest) and get a blood draw. You can get all kinds of blood tests that way without seeing your doctor first.

          2. SystemsLady*

            No, they sell A1C kits at stores relatively inexpensively. They tend to be a little inaccurate (for me a couple decimals higher than a doctor’s test) though.

          3. Student*

            From the actual OP, the co-worker didn’t know her A1C. She gave a different number, which the OP used in an internet calculator to come up with an A1C we are all discussing as if it was gospel. I don’t know crap about diabetes and blood tests, so I have no clue what the actual number given means.

            I do know that I can buy a internet kit for just about any medical test I want, and it’ll confirm that I have plague/diabetes/am secretly Irish royalty/am related to Genghis Khan/need to go on Diet X now!/should be in therapy/am haunted/ have bird flu/have cancer/am pregnant with an extraterrestrial baby/ etc.

            I also know that if I ask my mother about her medical tests, she will sometimes give me numbers that are not real. Sometimes they are off by a factor of 10, or utterly unconnected to reality. Especially if she thinks the number will get her some immediate sympathy or back up an argument she is making, but sometimes just because she didn’t remember and won’t just admit that on the spot. Lady did an internet blood test and doesn’t believe in doctors – she gets deep skepticism of her ability to self-administer the test, deep skepticism of the motives of the lab that processed it (if any did at all), and deep skepticism that she knows what she’s talking about at all when she parrots her magic test number, since all available evidence points to the fact that she is unconnected to medical realities.

            1. Anna*

              That’s great, but since people who do know what these numbers mean have been actually discussing it, I would maybe not write it off so easily that it’s just a big misunderstanding.

              1. M-C*

                When my father got the information that he had 10g of triglycerides, he and his jerk of a GP had a good laugh about those idiots at the lab who misplaced the periods all the time. And ha ha he didn’t get his raging diabetes treated for another year because that initial number made no sense at all, he should have been dead. Which he very nearly was. So just because some number seems way off to you doesn’t mean it’s not happening.

    2. Yada yada yada*

      OP could maybe change the language of her urging from “see a doctor soon” to something more like “please promise me you’ll go to the urgent care on XYZ street after work today!” For me, whenever I say I’m going to do something “soon” it can get pushed to days, weeks, etc which turns into never. Sounds like there’s already an initiation issue at play here. Also wondering if the coworker really realizes she could die… maybe adding a statement such as “my friend works closely with diabetes and a number over 1234 indicates a person can go into a diabetic coma and possibly die.” I’m not sure if that’s too harsh for work though, thoughts?

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Speaking personally, I would avoid saying “please promise me you’ll go to the urgent care . . . after work today!” To me that seems like a huge boundary overstep, and it’s exactly the kind of peer pressure that’s really inappropriate in this context. If OP decides to try one last convo with their coworker, they only get one shot to make an impression. Resorting to pleading or other “hard sell” tactics is highly likely to dissuade the coworker and make her less likely to bring up other important personal issues (the latter may be desirable, but still).

        1. Mookie*

          Agreed. Putting more of a burden on this woman’s shoulders — now she has to deal with her own anxiety and health issues along with the guilty trip that such a demand will invariably create — risks making her shrink into herself, too overwhelmed to act, too many competing tasks to juggle when space and time to process is what she may need. Not only is this not your job, but you don’t have a right to ask an employee to manage your emotions about her private life for you. You can, and should, disengage now and discourage her from talking about this issue with you. This is not about you, and you’d be creating an additional problem if you tried to blackmail someone for their own good. People spend a lifetime trying to break out of habits like these — a problem of your own now becomes someone else’s problem, too, and only you can save the world but only if you obey their commands — often created in childhood by emotionally incestuous adults. It’s not the kind of dynamic you want to nurture in a professional sphere.

        2. Colette*

          Agreed. Frankly, my coworkers don’t get to ask me to promise to do anything after work, even if they think it’s in my best interest.

        3. Turquoisecow*

          I agree. As an adult, I get annoyed when my parents or older relatives treat me like a child, like by telling me things I “have” to do. I understand, because I was a child and they were my caregivers, but I still get annoyed because I would like to be seen as an adult who can make her own decisions.

          For a relative stranger with whom I don’t have that childhood history to talk to me as though I can’t make my own medical or life decisions? Uh, no. Leave me alone.

          As someone else said above, people have to make their own decisions about life and care and health. You cannot drag a fully grown adult to a doctor or urgent care, and you cannot force her to take medications or listen to medical advice. It’s quite possible that someone doing that is why she has issues with doctors. She has to make her own decisions.

          Use the script given (or something similar) once, and then drop it. If she starts up on health issues again, say “you know my thoughts on this, I’ve told you what I think,” and walk or change the subject. Repeating yourself over and over is not going to convince her.

      2. JessaB*

        Urgent care is not in any way set up to treat/diagnose/deal with a chronic condition which diabetes is. They do not do follow up usually (unless things like removing stitches or a cast,) they certainly do not do disease management.

      3. Snark*

        I mean, my thought honestly is that if someone is so deeply into denial that they think adopting a keto diet and not going to the doctor is a good response to sky-high blood sugar levels, no matter how far you cross the bounds of professional workplace conduct to demand they do the rational thing….they’re probably not going to do it.

      4. Health Insurance Nerd*

        1. The OP has no standing to ask her coworker to make her any promises about her care, this language would be inappropriate and a major overstep.
        2. Urgent Care is the absolute wrong place to go for an issue like this.

      5. Anon for this one.*

        That seems like such a huge boundary step. I know I don’t always take care of my health as well as I should/want to or as much as others wish, but I vividly remember getting pretty incensed about a coworker using similar phrasing on me over an issue. She was a full-time worker with employer based, no-need-to-blink-over-a-pre-existing condition insurance and had no idea how, even with the ACA passed, it was like to interact with medical care from the perspective of someone who had been trained through experience to time when to see a doctor at just the right moment where you could still benefit from treatment and not worry about blowing your insurability for the future on a false alarm or something that wasn’t fatal.

        I was also asked to promise to promise to see a doctor and I did, because I didn’t feel safe saying no. That visit cost me thousands, 2 years of coverage for a more serious issue, and did absolutely nothing that a night at home would have done.

    3. theletter*

      It help to come at it from a positive spin: “I have a fantastic doctor. We have fantastic Insurance. We have a great EAP. We’re really good about sick time here. There’s a wonderful urgent care facility close by. I’ll cover your work if you need to go.”

      1. M-C*

        Much better. I’d also add something about offering a ride, since this problem could well mean that the co-worker is having difficulty driving..

      2. Not So NewReader*

        I agree all the scary stuff is just going to make it take longer for her to go. I think saying things like “Wouldn’t it be nice not to be so tired/logy?” or “You don’t have to do this alone.” would be more effective than telling her she could die. She probably already knows she could die.

  4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#1, definitely do happy hour with your (non-work) friends. First, your team is small, and the majority aren’t participating. That indicates that the programming doesn’t meet their needs (either because they don’t drink, as you noted, or because they live far away or because they’re just not into happy hour). And you’ve stated that it’s definitely benefitting Mary, in part because she attends! That doesn’t seem fair / impartial (I know life isn’t fair, but I think managers should at least attempt to be even-handed in how they treat their employees).

    If you want to bond with your employees, ask them to suggest activities that are not “mandatory fun.” Maybe y’all go out to lunch once a month. Maybe you grab an afternoon coffee. But most importantly, try not to cling to programming that’s only working for you and one of your reports to the exclusion of opportunities that may appeal to your entire team.

    1. Tuesday Next*

      I agree. There are 2 issues here, for me. You’re organising team outings based on what *you* like to do, regardless of the fact that your team largely opts out of them. And, you’re using team outings to meet your own social needs. Find other people to invite to happy hour (please, don’t invite Mary on the sly as that will just make things worse) and organise team outings that everyone can enjoy.

      1. Mookie*

        Hearty yes to both of you. When you’re a manager, the clause that follows this

        Increasingly, these invitations are only accepted by Mary,

        ought to be something like, “so I stopped doing this / I dreamt up another means of non-mandatory non-fun to professionally socialize or wind-down with my direct reports and they with each other / I asked around and the consensus was ‘this isn’t worth it to us’ so I’ve stopped issuing invitations.” Read the room, LW1. It’s telling you more than one thing beyond that your reports don’t like to drink or have a long commute home. It’s genuinely not morale-boosting to have someone’s idea of fun imposed on you from high, and particularly chafing when that person shrugs and pays your objections no mind. You’re not being a cretin or anything, it’s just that this type of fun might have worked with you and Mary and your previous co-workers at your previous workspace, but here it’s a non-starter and it’s a good sign that you’ve recognized the potential pitfalls created by this situation. You’re in the best position to now mitigate against them; indeed, you’re the only person who can.

      2. eplawyer*

        This so much this. I am surprised that Alison’s advice did not point this out. Your team is opting out of your choice of activities. If the point is to bond with the team — then choose something else.

        This is a bigger issue than whether Mary is getting favorable treatment or not.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          It could be there is already a problem in the team. I have to wonder why no one shows up consistently. I would think someone would at least offer an alternative time/day.

      3. Kix*

        Why not have lunch brought in once a month and don’t count it against their lunch hour, but consider it a team meeting and everyone can have fellowship or whatever over lunch?

      4. Tuxedo Cat*

        This happened in an office I worked in. It wasn’t happy hour, but there were events that only one person could make with the director. The excuse was always that they were open to everyone, but they weren’t convenient and/or of interest to anyone else. The few times I went, it felt like I was intruding on a personal meeting.

      5. Rusty Shackelford*

        You’re organising team outings based on what *you* like to do, regardless of the fact that your team largely opts out of them.

        Yeah, I think that’s the biggest problem. You can’t really continue to tell yourself these are meant for “team bonding” when you’re continuing to hold happy hours after it’s obvious most of your team is not interested.

    2. Escapee from Corporate Management*

      OP #1, you assuming this situation exists because your team doesn’t like happy hours. The case may be that they don’t like happy hours WITH YOU (because you’re the boss, because they think you favor Mary, because you act differently when drinking, etc.). It would benefit you greatly to find this out, since the solutions are different.

      1. the gold digger*

        It could also be that your employees don’t want to spend free time at work, which is what a HH with the boss is.

        If you really want your team to bond, do what other commenters have suggested – have a team lunch or take everyone out for coffee. I would prefer coffee because I go to the gym at lunch.

      2. INTP*

        It may also be that they’re just too frequent. A lot of people will attend a work happy hour once a quarter, but have no interest in it being a regular use of their free time and attending 15-20 a year.

    3. INTP*

      I agree with this, plus, there is the issue that OP is getting reimbursed for these like they are team-building events when they are no longer serving that purpose. To me there are two issues here. The appearance of favoritism from social happy hours with Mary is one thing. I think it’s best to stop those for reputation and morale’s sake, but it’s more of a gray area. The second issue is that OP is allocating the team building funds towards the activity that she and Mary want to do when it’s no longer actually serving as a team building activity. If OP continues the happy hours too much longer, it will be difficult to justify, if questioned, why she was using company money to drink with her friend. This is important to stop immediately, even if she keeps drinking with Mary on her own dime.

      1. Eli*

        I don’t think she’s getting reimbursed for them, unless I’m missing it? It says that she’s paying for them herself.

    4. Turquoisecow*

      As a non-drinker (partly for medical reasons and partly by choice), I find it mild annoying that so many people, especially employers, associate fun with alcohol. My husband also isn’t much of a drinker, and his coworkers always want to go out for drinks. He finds it far less fun than they do to eat mixed nuts and drink a soda, and since it’s after work, he’d rather have a meal with them anyway. He often complains to me after such an event that he’s starving.

      Maybe try a meal, or some other fun event that doesn’t include alcohol, since so many of your staff doesn’t seem interested in drink? Or something during the day, so you’re not cutting into their down time, or interfering with other after-work commitments or plans?

      1. a1*

        This isn’t billed as a Happy Hour though, or as a drinking thing. Per her letter they “… are billed as “unnecessary calorie hour,” because the goal is to focus on spending time outside work together in a less formal environment, not drinking alcohol. …”

        1. Elsajeni*

          Sure, which is a start. But whether you describe it as “happy hour” or not, hanging out at a bar is usually less fun for people who don’t or can’t drink than it is for people who do, especially if it’s a bar that doesn’t serve food or a wide selection of non-alcoholic drinks. I don’t know where the OP is hosting her happy hours, but it’s something to bear in mind.

            1. Anna*

              It really depends on what they mean by bar. If it’s a bar/restaurant, it’s exactly a great place to do both those things.

        2. Observer*

          If it’s at a bar, that doesn’t matter much, as it’s still not an activity that a lot of people are not going to find enjoyable unless they like alcohol. Beyond that, even if this isn’t at a bar exclusively food centerd events are a bit of a problem, sine there are a LOT of reasons (not just pathologies) that would make such events undesirable. And it the food is exclusively snacks and nibbles, then that’s even worse.

          And let’s get real. The calling a pig a rose doesn’t make it a rose – the OP BILLS this as “unnecessary calorie hour” but makes it clear in the letter that this IS in fact a happy hour.

          1. a1*

            I disagree that you need to enjoy alcohol to enjoy going to bar with colleagues (or friends). I do this often and don’t drink and still enjoy talking, socializing, networking, etc. All bars have water, club soda, juice, and usually some kind of pop/soda (Coke, Pepsi) on tap. Unless the others are getting sloppy drunk, it’s not uncomfortable, and even then it’s not being in a bar that’s making it uncomfortable it’s the others’ behavior.

            1. Eli*

              And the huge upside of a bar vs. a restaurant is that you can pay your tab and leave whenever you feel like—after one Diet Coke or after 3 gin and tonics and a plate of fries. No waiting for everyone to finish and the waiter to bring the check.

            2. Super Anon for This*

              Quite frankly, even if they aren’t drunk, “just” tipsy, it is miserable to be around when you are sober. Tipsy people really aren’t as funny or clever as the alcohol makes them think they are.

              1. a1*

                Just because someone has a drink or two doesn’t mean they are drunk or tipsy. Where in the letter does it say they are getting drunk?

            3. Observer*

              YOU may not find it uncomfortable. A lot of other people do, in fact, find it uncomfortable. That’s a reality a decent boss doesn’t get to wave away. “*I* wouldn’t mind, so no one else would mind” is an excuse for being inconsiderate, not a well thought out reason for doing something.

              1. a1*

                I was just pointing out the other absolute is not true either – that it is NOT uncomfortable for all non-drinkers. I said nothing about whether they should still be doing this event and never said no one else would mind.

                1. Anion*

                  Heh, during both my pregnancies I *loved* going to bars etc. with my friends. It made me still feel included, I could order a fun little appetizer or snack, and I could smell their drinks (I’m not a really big drinker, but being told I can’t do something…you know how that goes).

                  I’ve gone to bars with friends at other times I couldn’t drink, too, and always had a good time, so I agree. I understand that for some people it could be uncomfortable, but if you look at it as a socializing event and not a drinking event, you can still have fun.

        3. Student*

          That’s almost as clever of a cover-up as calling the December party a “holiday” party instead of a “Christmas” party. I’m sure all the OP’s employees were fooled by this clever rhetorical trick, and didn’t notice that the OP uses as an opportunity to primarily drink.

          We all know what you’re really celebrating, guys, and in this case, it ain’t calories.

          1. Anna*

            What is it, then? Socializing? I don’t get your point at all. Like, are you saying they do it just to drink? Like, they need to use it as an excuse to imbibe? I think you’re drawing parallels where there aren’t any.

      2. bookish*

        Yeah, when there are nondrinkers on staff and nobody but the person who was already friends with LW1 is going, it’s time to cut it out, and maybe try something else. These are just hangouts for the LW and her friend. I don’t drink and even in a non-bar, restaurant situation, if I go to happy hour with my coworkers it’s kind of a joke to them that I’ll get a hot chocolate or something instead of wine.

    5. Where's the Le-Toose?*

      First off, PCBH, you gave some great alternatives to having a forced “happy hour” with the boss. Since the OP is buying anyway, a free lunch once or twice a month, even if it’s just a pizza or a salad, is a heck of a lot better boost to morale than happy hour.

      I wonder if OP #1 is a new manager because all the things the OP mentioned speak of inexperience in a management position. Regardless, I see so many problems:

      1. As Alison and others have mentioned, for the sake of the morale of your team, you can’t socialize or grab lunch with just one of your direct reports, especially one that you were buddies with from your old employer. The only exception to socializing with your direct reports is if you have an award, such as top sales for the year, which is openly announced and one of the prizes is lunch with you. Your direct reports are not your friends.

      2. Stop with any event after hours. Monday through Friday, I only see my wife and son for about 3-4 hours a day in the evening because they’re asleep when I leave for work. So when my day is over, I go home. Even for people who like happy hour and who like a cocktail, spending even more time with their coworkers is a deal breaker. Spending an additional 35 minutes with Steve from Llama Husbandry after spending all day/week with the man is frequently too much to ask for.

      3. Stop having work events in bars. For people who don’t drink, they don’t want to go to a bar. For people who do drink, there are a lot of people who won’t drink anything if they are driving. I’d rather sit through an IRS audit than to sit in a bar with a glass of water or a Coke while my boss knocks back a few and discusses work issues. Heck, I’d rather take a 6 am conference call than sit through that.

      4. Being a boss is like being a parent. When it comes to team building and morale, it’s no longer about what you want to do. If you want to sleep in but your 8 year old has a soccer tournament on Saturday morning, you go to the soccer tournament. Likewise, if your team wants a free lunch or an afternoon off without using PTO as a morale boost and you foist happy hour on them, you will look out of touch and look like you just don’t care. As a boss, you get to call the shots. In exchange for that, you have to give up making it all about you. It comes with the territory. You need to motivate them, not yourself.

      OP, I hope you take all this advice to heart. If you keep going down the path you are going, your direct reports will resent you and will start to leave. This December will be the start of my 8th year in management and I had to learn these lessons the hard way as a really green manager. Stop doing what you’re doing.

      1. You're Not My Supervisor*

        Heartily agree with #2 here. I have a 1 year old that we put to bed at 7 pm. Even if the after-work event sounded awesome, I still probably wouldn’t go. So it doesn’t always come down to not liking bars/drinking. Try changing to lunchtime.

    6. Seeker*

      I came here to suggest that the boss take the team out for lunch periodically. It doesn’t inadvertently penalize those who have family obligations that may get in the way of their participation in happy hour (and, let’s face it – happy hour generally often caters more readily to the lifestyle of someone young and single) while still allowing your team to have bonding time. I’ve had managers who let us choose fun activities, but if it was outside of the workday the majority of us just wanted to bail on it. As much “fun” as these events were supposed to be, it generally just felt like a prolonged work day. A meal during the middle of the work day is a way to be more inclusive and accomplish your goal of team bonding.

    7. Susanne*

      Happy hours on any kind of regular basis (aside from, maybe, once a quarter) are pretty juvenile, anyway. It smacks of the kind of person who needs alcohol as a crutch and rationalizes it by calling it a social occasion.

  5. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#2, I think you may be attributing a greater deal of meaning to this than the other Arya intends? For example, when you talk about her agreeing to go by Stark, it sounds like you’re concerned that you look like you were being unkind/bossy to your reports, but it also sounds like you’re trying to hold her to a comment she made during an interview. I’d use Alison’s scripts, because it sounds really normal to me for her to introduce herself by her first name (even if she later goes by her last name—I don’t know anyone who introduces themselves by their last name unless their nickname is derived from their last name or they’re in the military/sports).

    Is it really such a disaster to have two Aryas? I once worked with 5 Sarah’s, including two “Sarah S.”es, and I’ve worked with 4 Davids and 3 Jon/Johns. There were no problems internally or with outsiders when it came to determining which person was needed for a task or whether they were in the same line of management. There may be some run-of-the-mill confusion or missent emails, but can’t it be worked out? Doesn’t every workplace eventually end up with coworkers at different levels of seniority who share the same first name?

    1. Cobol*

      I once was on a project with myself, a Kari, Carey, and Carrie. That was confusing since a lot happened over the phone, but it was a managing level of confusing.

      1. jasmine*

        I work closely with three guys named Peter who occupy three adjacent offices (all three are managers reporting to the same VP). This doesn’t seem to cause any confusion – we just add their last name after their first name if there’s any doubt as to whom we’re talking about.

        1. Al Lo*

          My work has Kathrin, Kathryn, Katherine, Catherine, Katheryne, Kathy, and Cathy. Different spellings help in emails, but verbally, it’s about context and a descriptor. Or an initial. Or a full name.

          1. Hornswoggler*

            I am a Catherine, and I constantly work with other people called Catherine, since it has been a popular name in the UK for decades. I was in a close working relationship with another Catherine (even spelled the same) for around four years and we were just known as Catherine X and Catherine Y. We even get called that now by people who worked with us then even though we are no longer working together any more!

            1. JaneB*

              Yup, I’m still JaneB even though JaneA and JaneC both moved on from my workplace many moons ago!

            2. CMart*

              Both my coworker in a nearly identical role who sits next to me and I are Catherine’s, except we then both go by less-standard nicknames (think Caty and Cathee).

              Occasionally someone will whiff it on an e-mail greeting (“Hi Cathy and Katie”) but no one has ever actually been confused and we’ve never gotten correspondence meant for the other one due to our last names being different.

            3. Steph B*

              Yeah, in high school my best friend was another Stephanie. In college, I lived with another Stephanie. Now I work with two Stephanies. You get used to differentiating with an initial.

          2. geecee*

            In my office of four people total, two of us had the same first name, just spelled differently. When people in other locations called, they’d ask for “First Initial-Name” (K-Kathy or C-Cathy).

          3. Andraste's Knicker Weasels (formerly ancolie)*

            One of my old managers was a Mike and one year in college, he was in a 4 person dorm with 3 other Mikes! They had a landline and the answering machine message was something like, “hi, you’ve reached Mike, Mike, Mike and Mike! Please leave a message for the relevant Mike and they’ll call you back!”

        2. Magenta Sky*

          I worked in a retail store where four people shared my first name. Two cashiers, and two (including me) in the same department. We just used last names for things like phone pages.

          There were also four cashiers with variants of my sister’s name, including the head cashier. It got a little creepy for me, but didn’t cause any problems.

          But it wasn’t as creepy as another place I worked, where the owner had a fetish for my name (which is gender neutral). His son (who worked there) had the same name. His ex-wife had the same name. His girlfriend had the same name. His lawyer had the same name. And it rhymed with his name. If I’d known that when he hired me, I’d have had second thoughts.

        3. MashaKasha*

          Same, I worked in a department with something like six Bills and four Marks. We just added the last names… Never remember it being an issue.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            A former workplace had two Dales, four Daves, two Marks, two Tonys, two Carls, two Mikes, two Stephens, and a partridge in a pear tree. They didn’t all work there all at the same time, but every one of them had a first-name doppelganger during their employment. And with one of the most common names on earth–John–we only had one.

            We just used people’s full names–“Tell Dave Rogers he has a visitor; is Carl Banner at his desk,” etc. (not their actual names)

      2. Ramona Flowers*

        We used to have something similar to having two people called Rachel S and a Rachael. We’ve replaced them with a Kerry, Kelly and Kenny. (Not the actual names but it’s that kind of deal.)

      3. Gadfly*

        My boss at my old job shared my name and my desk was in front of her office. We just got good at asking ‘which one?’ When people in cubetopia used the yellerphone instead of walking over to talk to us or calling.

      4. Jennifer*

        I had an Aaron, Erin, and Karen.

        We have two Barbaras and we’ve managed to tell them apart for years (one of them being a higher-up).

      5. Purplesaurus*

        I work with a seemingly endless line of Andreas, and several of them pronounce it differently.

      6. RJGM*

        I may have commented this here before… but I’m one of three Rachels and one Raquel at my company. To make it more confusing, two of us got married (to different people!) last summer, so we went from Rachel G & Rachel M to Rachel M & Rachel C.

        Even during the two-month overlap of having two Rachel Ms, it was, as Cobol put it, “a managing level of confusing.” We either clarify with full last names or former names (Do you want Rachel GM or Rachel MC?).

      7. Erin*

        I worked with two people with the exact name name: Andrew Miller. Neither went by a nickname. Both were in my department, so saying “Andrew Miller in (dept)” was out. We ended up going with sub-department (eg. “Andrew, the trade show guy” vs “Andrew, the website guy”)

        1. Matilda Jefferies*

          I have a relative named Andrew Miller! Plus there’s a baseball pitcher in Cleveland as well. Although I don’t have much trouble telling them apart, as my relative has never played professional baseball…

      8. AKchic*

        In my last place, I was the “main Jessica”. We had two other Jessicas, but they didn’t stay long. Being an 80’s-born child, some just called me Jennifer or Sarah (for a while I had a co-worker named Sarah). In the 8 years I spent at the company, I think we had one actual Jennifer at the company for maybe 6 months, but I didn’t meet her (different town). I generally will answer to anything thanks to having a big family and years of acting.

        We also had an Alisha, Elisha, Alicia (pronounced Uh-lee-see-ah), Alicia (pronounced Ah-lis-ee-ah), Alyssa, Alice, and Allison; plus a Rachel, Rachael, Rachelle and Rochelle (three in the finance department, all overlapping times but not all at the exact same time together, and one in HR throughout the whole thing).

        1. CMart*

          My sister has an odd for someone in our generation name, like “Edna”, so went a very long time before meeting another peer with her name.

          Poor 17 year old Other Edna was then called “Other Edna” because she was the new kid. She lobbied for “New Edna” but “Other Edna” stuck too strongly. I think she was still greeted as “Hi Other Edna!” at their 10 year reunion.

    2. Ramona Flowers*

      Yep. And, well, you asked her in an interview which has a really clear power differential so it’s unlikely she felt able to say no – and it’s also possible she just forgot or didn’t think about it much, as not everyone would think this was a big deal.

      Your coworkers are capable of telling you apart by your faces and surnames, right? I’d be interested to know what the risk management issue is? My line manager or grandboss need to be involved in some risk management conversations (in our case concerning safeguarding vulnerable people) and they both share their names with other coworkers who aren’t authorised to make those decisions. I’ve literally only just fully twigged that they both share names with coworkers. I’m an adult and it’s harder than that to confuse me.

      Also, she’s probably introducing herself by her usual name out of sheer reflexive habit.

      1. Tuesday Next*

        “You asked her in an interview” – that’s what I wanted to point out. Of course she agreed to it. And like many others here I’ve worked in plenty of offices where people have the same name, and it seems a little odd to me that you’d get so hung up on that.

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          And also have you mentioned it since the interview? It sounds like you thought it was already a done deal but if so someone might reasonably expect you to mention it again after hiring.

        2. Myrin*

          It’s also possible that she’s completely fine with going by her surname but still doesn’t introduce herself that way initially because it might seem awkward with people she only just met; I know literally dozens of people who operate that way.

          In general, OP, I agree with others that you seem to be making this into a much bigger and more complicated deal than it has to be (and is likely to be).

          1. Julia*

            Plus, imagine this:

            New Co-worker Jane: Hi, I’m Jane!
            Arya: Hi, please call me Stark.
            Jane: … Why are you giving me your last name when I just gave you my first??

            1. SarahTheEntwife*

              Because she goes by her last name? It’s a bit unusual, and in this case since that’s not actually what Arya normally goes by there’s no need to force her to, but there are plenty of people who use their last name as their standard form of address.

              1. fposte*

                Yes, if Arya liked it, it’s no big deal; people go by nicknames, middle names, last names, and co-workers roll with it. It’s that it seems like she doesn’t like it.

        3. Kyrielle*

          I once worked with two people who had the same first and last names.

          One was the office admin / receptionist for our office.

          The other was in HR and handled a lot of confidential paperwork.

          They did their best to differentiate, but the fact that their first and last names were _identical_ made that pretty difficult. And after some conversations, the receptionist just forwarded anything not meant for her and deleted her copy (which often took only the subject line to determine). Awkward? Yes, but without a differentiating last name, also the best they could come up with. (The directory *would* show the department the person was in, but would any of the managers trying to hire/fire/promote someone check that before sending? Nope.)

      2. Mookie*


        During the interview process, we discussed the awkwardness and potential risk-management-related issues with us being mixed up due to the nature of our positions and the fact that she is reporting to me.

        I’m giving the LW the benefit of the doubt, but I’ve never really known a workplace that finds this a tough situation to negotiate — indeed, it is exceedingly commonplace and the typical Anglophonic fix is the grade-school one, where we bang an initial down representing our surname — so for two people to find this remarkable seems unlikely and I’m going to hazard a guess that it was the LW herself who broached the subject*, given that the apparent concern is the possibility of her new hire’s colleagues mistaking the new hire as having equal ranking or seniority over the LW. Normally it’s someone in management who would perceive this to be both possible and undesirable. I rarely start a new job hoping people won’t think I’m in charge. Also, I don’t really grok the “risk” being managed against. Simple fixes abound, as Alison gave them. If your titles are very similar — Tea Pot Stirrer and Assistant to the Tea Pot Stirrer sort of thing — then her script about clarifying the names in order to avoid confusion down the road should work fine.

        *in which case, as you say, the new hire either doesn’t remember the agreement or finds it awkward to enforce (I like it when people use my surname out of the sheer novelty of it and also because of the colorful pronunciations hazarded the first time ’round if they’ve never heard it aloud before, but I recognize that I’m an outlier and that there’s something regimental or schoolmarm-y and -master-y about the practice that would set many people’s teeth on edge, likewise the use of an honorific by someone other than a stranger)

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          It’s tough to negotiate in a fictional world. And maybe historically, if the king’s mother, wife, sister, and daughter are all major political players and all named Eleanor Stark. But it’s so common in regular office/school/kickball league life as to be utterly unremarkable.

          (My children have slightly unusual names because I spent my school years as Falling D, to distinguish me from the many, many Fallings in every class.)

          1. Ramona Flowers*

            Still on risk management: wouldn’t the wrong person just refer people to the right one? It’s unlikely that she’ll just let people think she’s you…

            1. Danger: Gumption Ahead*

              I’m trying to figure out what field this could possibly be. First responders, by custom more than necessity, sometimes use last names, but that means everyone would be doing it. And it still doesn’t prevent name duplication since you can have 5 Joneses, 3 Scanlons, and 2 Connelleys (like I have when I was an EMT). I’m stumped

            2. Laoise*

              I’m in health care, where we have no less than 5 Karens/Karans/Karins with widely different caseloads and patient needs. I just confirm last name before anything verbal.

              I also worked in a 3-person department where my manager and I shared the same given name, and no one ever mixed us up. So…i just don’t buy this is a business-critical thing.

            3. M is for Mulder*

              The only thing I can figure is that even an e-mail going to the wrong person could trigger them being called in a deposition, or something like that maybe?

              1. SarahTheEntwife*

                I have sometimes gotten sent emails for the wrong Sarah, which since the other one is much higher up in the org chart are occasionally things that I should possibly not be seeing. Nothing that I actually care about or could really do anything with even if I did, but if my industry were more sensitive that could be a problem. On the other hand, if that were an issue at my workplace we would presumably have better procedures in place to prevent it. And accidental mis-sent emails can happen between people that you wouldn’t otherwise associate as having the “same” name — whenever I type my coworker Will’s name in Gmail assumes I want my other coworker whose last name starts with “Will-“.

        2. KellyK*

          The only risk that I can picture is if Arya S. is inadvertently given sensitive info that she shouldn’t have access to, because it was meant for Arya LW. And that’s going to be a risk whatever name she goes by, when the email program automatically fills in one Arya or the other.

          I think the solution to that, rather than asking Arya to go by Stark, is for the LW to remind everyone that there are two Aryas now, and to be mindful when sending emails, etc., to pick the right person. She might also want to tell Arya how she’d like to handle it if it comes up.

          1. Sunshine on a cloudy day*

            Yeaaahhhh… I have a very similar name (and even more similar email address – thing Mary Jolnes and Mark Jones, so our email addresses are mjolnes and mjones) to someone who works on super secret IT security projects, while I handle a lot of confidential financial records/information. We get the occasional mixed up emails, but it happens less often that I expected – probably due to the nature of both of our roles.

            The first time it happened though we connected and had a friendly chat – we just both agreed to be discrete about anything of each others that we might be inadvertently be sent (forward to the other party and delete from inbox). I also checked in with my dept head about what to do if any sensitive info is accidentally emailed to him, rather than me.

            Also – within our dept. – the head person shares the same first name with an entry level person and we have three different Eric’s (at varying levels). None of this has been an issue yet.

            1. starsaphire*

              Absolutely my situation too, at LastJob.

              Pretty much my first day, I got an email addressed to me, Lucy Ricardo, that contained stuff clearly not meant for my eyes. Apparently it was meant for Lucy Rickardo, a longtime VP who handled a lot of sensitive information about students’ personal and financial situations.

              Fortunately, we kinda bonded over it, and I learned quickly where to send her emails and redirect her voicemails, but wow — the things I knew that I shouldn’t have known. Not good.

            2. Elizabeth H.*

              I had such an embarrassing moment in college – I emailed my mom a lot and I had her saved in my webmail email address book as “Mom” so that I would just type that in the address field as the shortcut for the content in my address book.
              When I was a junior or senior a new student joined the university and chose the username ‘mom’ for his initials, Matthew something something, at which point when I typed in ‘mom’ the webmail system started sending the email to him instead, apparently the webmail defaulted to prefer a username in the system without having to type in the @school.edu part. It happened a few times (only a few probably bc often I would be replying to an email from my mom rather than initiating a new one) before he emailed me to let me know what was happening.

          2. Eli*

            I work for a publisher who happens to publish an author with my exact name. I’ve been the recipient of physical mail for the author (which would normally be forwarded to her editor, but the mail room finds me), and emails from the editor to the author of a pretty personal and confidential nature. I send the editor a nice email every time, but it’s so easy to make the error when my email automatically pops up in our interoffice system!

              1. KC without the sunshine band*

                I had this issue in college at a large university. I knew if I got emails or mail about anything artsy it was for the other “me”. If he got something for my major he forewarded it to me. We never met but had several funny conversations online.

      3. Julia*

        That happened to me once. When I was hired at my first “real” job, my boss said that my last name was sooo difficult, did I want people to call me that or should they just use my first name? The “right” answer was pretty clear to me, so I ended up being a Julia in an office and a culture that was usually last-name based. It felt pretty infantilizing.

        I also think people should know the full names of everyone they work with. One guy at that former office didn’t even bother to look up my last name even though we were an office of only around 30 people and a phone list of everyone with full names usually hung next to everyone’s monitor, so once he needed me to take over the job, gave the outside contact my number and first name, and that person then called me and asked “Are you Ms. Julia?”

        1. Adjuncts Anonymous*

          Yes, my office has this as well. The admin for my department has an easy but distinctive Thai first name (like Kulap) and a difficult Polish last name (like Wieczorak). Almost everyone defaults to her first name only, but I always try to use the last name as well for exactly that reason.

          To be fair, Julia can also be a last name, such as the late actor Raul Julia.

          1. Julia*

            My last name was Polish! (I have a Japanese one now.)

            It could be a last name, but in Europe, 99% of the people will think of a female first name when they hear Julia.

      4. Trout 'Waver*

        I have a really common name and have never lead a team that didn’t have another ‘Trout ‘Waver’ on it. I swear I’m not doing it on purpose. I’ve also always had a ‘Trout ‘Waver’ somewhere in the organization above me.

        It’s such a non-issue that it comes across really weird for OP#2 to try to force someone else to use another name. Just let her call herself whatever she wants and if there’s a little confusion, that’s fine. That kind of stuff makes life more interesting.

        1. Katelyn*

          I’m now picturing a group of people meeting in a board room somewhere, all waving fish in the air… salmon and trout and a wee little perch… and I can’t explain to my cube mate why I keep giggling to myself!

      5. Escapee from Corporate Management*

        I was also wondering about the risk management issue. I’ve shared my first name with a CEO and others senior to me and we NEVER had a risk management issue. When confidential information was shared electronically or by mail, it went to the correct person because it contained that person’s last name. When shared in-person, the people would know because, well, they were adults and could recognize faces, as Ramona points out.

        OP #2, you cite awkwardness and risk management in your letter, but unless you work in an unusual area, risk management is not an issue. The only awkwardness seems to of your own creation, due to your unusual insistence that you cannot have someone in your team with the same first name. Do a little self-evaluation. What is your real driver for this?

        In my old life as a senior corporate leader, if you came to me with this situation, it would have raised my concerns about you, not about your new employee.

      6. Matilda Jefferies*

        I was going to say exactly the same thing – there’s a clear power differential here. I once worked on a team of six that had two Matthews. The manager thought it was too confusing, so she unilaterally decided that one of them would be called Matt instead. The one who was renamed said yes, because it was his boss, but it was clear he didn’t want to be Matt. He always called himself Matthew. And if the manager ever introduced him to someone as Matt, he would sort of chuckle and say “Well, I’m only Matt in this room. Everyone else calls me Matthew.”

        So, yeah. Please consider the possibility that the other Arya only said yes because you’re her boss and she wasn’t comfortable saying no. And also, as others have suggested, please evaluate the *actual* risk involved in having two people with the same name on the same team. If it turns out that it really is important that one of you use a different name, then you should sit down with her and work something out together that you can both live with. (Also, the option of you changing your name should also be on the table, if you’re having this conversation. Even if you don’t end up going that route, I think it would help *her* a lot if you showed you were also willing to compromise on this.)

        1. Anion*

          “Something you can both live with.” That’s a really good point. Maybe Arya is okay with being known as something other than Arya, but feels weird just being called “Stark.” Maybe she’d be happy to be called A.S., though, or Azie, or Ari. Maybe she has a middle name she likes. I’ve never liked either my first or last names much, but the initials of my maiden name basically spelled a name (think “Bob” or “Lex,” you know what I mean) that I liked much better. Because I always initialed things that way, sometimes people would just call me that–and that I liked.

          So maybe Arya doesn’t want to be called “Stark,” like she’s a teenage boy at military school, but she’d like to be “Ais,” (pronounced “Ace,” which, come on, who wouldn’t like to be called “Ace?”) or “Als” (Alice) or whatever.

    3. AcademiaNut*

      In my workplace of ~250 people, 33% of the employees share 7 family names. Asking for Mr. Wang isn’t very useful.

      1. Annie Moose*

        At my old job for a fairly large company, emails were in the form [first initial][surname][optional identifying number]@companyname.com. We had A Lot of Chinese and Taiwanese employees, and had literally dozens of email addresses that were things like “llee47@companyname.com”. Yes, the clarifying number at the end went up into the dozens for some particularly common combinations!

        But in practice, I didn’t actually interact with all 20 (or whatever) L. Lees the company employs. So I learned that (for example) Ms. Lee on the database team was llee23 and Mr. Lee the project manager was llee14, and it usually wasn’t an issue.

    4. Safetykats*

      We have three Mike Johnsons. We started out calling them Mike E, Mike W, and Mike V (for their middle initials) but now mostly call them E. W, and V when talking about them. We call them all Mike when talking to them – because obviously, there’s no potential confusion when talking directly to them. People will work out some way of differentiating that makes sense to them, and that works for the Mikes (or the Aryas). You seriously can’t force someone to go by a different name though – so if it bothers the OP that much, maybe she could consider going by her middle or last name. That would also solve the problem.

      1. Aries*

        Yep. Worked at two places where we had people with the same first and last names. The first was father and son (different physical locations) and the other was pure coincidence. You must have a pretty low opinion of your staff to think they won’t be able to figure this out.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          You must have a pretty low opinion of your staff to think they won’t be able to figure this out.

          That’s what is confusing me. Sure, it’s inconvenient. I was the only Rusty at my employer for many years, and when we added another Rusty, I hated becoming Rusty S. But it happens. People make it work. And if you’re in some very specific niche where it’s life-or-death that people immediately know which Arya you’re referring to, and there’s not enough time to say Arya S or Arya B, perhaps you should both go by your last names, to avoid any possible confusion.

          1. CMart*

            I’m wondering if LW Arya has a less common name than all of the Jennifer’s and John’s and this is her first time having to navigate it. I’ll admit that it seemed very weird to me when my husband made a new friend with my name, hearing it in the 3rd person like that and not referencing me. The gut reaction is “but wait, I’M Arya!” and a moment of confusion.

            So perhaps LW is projecting that moment of being startled and confused onto other people, forgetting that she’s probably currently working with two Ryan’s, three John’s, and a couple Catherine’s and never thought twice about it.

        2. Important Moi*

          I scrolled down just hoping to see if someone else posted what I was thinking. Thank you Rusty Shackelford.

          Maybe a meeting at your organization where you explain to them you are concerned about their potential confusion of having to Arya’s on staff and take suggestions as to how to handle it?

      2. Mad Baggins*

        Your scenario with the Mikes is what I was thinking–could be that Arya is fine being called “Stark” when both Aryas are together in a meeting or an email, but wants to be called by her first name to her face. So if I were in a department meeting, I’d address “Arya and Stark” but one-on-one address both as “Arya”. Doesn’t seem that hard to do that.

      3. Anja*

        At a former job we had two sets of two people with the same first and last names. Originals (first in) of the set went by initials – think Lucy Jones became LJ – and the second of the set went by initials and the number 2 – so Lucy Jones the second was LJ2. Both of the 2s outlasted the originals but retained the nicknames.

        And in high school our group had Kyle, Kyle#2, and Kyle with the Touque.

        People figure it out.

      4. Adjuncts Anonymous*

        It’s a problem when people don’t have middle names, though. I had two students from Vietnam with exactly the same name, like “Hai Tran.” Neither had a middle name. I defaulted to “the man” and “the woman” because they were brother- and sister-in-laws! In official correspondence, we always had to use their ID numbers.

    5. Sam I Am*

      Yeah I currently work on a team with 2 Michaels that both go by Mike and a third Michael who goes by Mick, as well as 3 Joshuas, 2 Dougs, 2 Brians, and 2 Barrys.

      Shared names are super common and very easily handled. Generally you use first name and last initial or by some other signifer–like “Tester Mike” vs “Engineer Mike”.

        1. LQ*

          We have a Tall Mike/Short Mike situation and the Mike who was here first has a great sense of humor and we have been endlessly calling him Short Mike and Old Mike (he is not really that short but our new Mike is very tall, and it is fun to tease Old Mike (one of the youngest people on the team) about it). But most of the time context clues get you to knowing which one. We also do a lot of just physical pointing toward their desk/area of the building they are in when saying their name if it might be confusing. I currently sit right next to another LQ and if someone is looking for us and it isn’t clear a quick which one clears it right up (or gets an “eh, you’re both the same whichever”). I don’t really think it’s that big of a deal and I’m kind of surprised the OP has never worked with 2 people with the same name, that’s sort of impressive.

          1. Kyrielle*

            I used to work with someone who had a name very similar to mine, but a different final vowel (if we are going by my handle here, think Kyriall instead of Kyrielle). We worked on the same team, in the same role, interacting with clients.

            So yes, sometimes a client called in and asked for the wrong one of us (or the right one, and got transferred to the wrong one). Sometimes a client complained about response time, and named the wrong one of us.

            But we had a ticketing system that showed who was assigned, we had management that understood the situation, and as for clients calling us, the phone system’s transfer function got a small workout. :) Admittedly, neither of us was in a position where we might be contacted with information the other shouldn’t see/be aware of.

          2. Kit*

            My husband’s workplace has a Tall Colin (or Tallin, as his name tag reads) and a Regular Sized Colin. It didn’t seem right to call a 2 metre tall man Short Colin.

          3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            We have this, too, but it’s “Big Mike” and “Little Mike.” Little Mike does not like his nickname (so we don’t use it anymore), but it was hilarious to all of us because Little Mike is in no way little. Big Mike is 6’6″, well over 280 lbs., and was a college linebacker. Little Mike is 6’4″, probably closer to 220 lbs., and played college basketball (so he’s also enormous and strong, but built very differently than Big Mike).

            1. CM*

              That reminds me of the three Erics in Sideways Stories from Wayside School. The skinny one’s nickname is Fatso because the other two are fat. The athletic one’s nickname is Butterfingers because the other two are clumsy. The nice one’s nickname is Crabapple because the other two are grumpy. At one point “Fatso” protests, “But I’m not fat!” and another kid says, “Is your name Eric?” “Yes.” “Then you’re fat.”

      1. Jen S. 2.0*

        Ha, a dear friend of mine has dated both a Caucasian man named Michael with a last name starting with H, and an African-American man named Michael with a last name starting with H. We simply acknowledged the awkwardness, and have called them White Mike and Black Mike ever since. I also was one of two Jennifers in my college friend group (also one Caucasian and one African-American), but I revolted aggressively at being Big Jen and Little Jen, created because I was plumper. I think we eventually were White Jen and Black Jen as well, along with last names being employed.

        But none of that would fly in a workplace. Try to find non-physical characteristics to distinguish your colleagues if you can.

        1. CMF*

          In high school, whenever we started including someone outside of our friend group, we would call them variants of soda. So our friend Matt was Matt, because he was the “original,” but the Matt our other friend was dating became “Diet Matt,” and someone else’s girlfriend’s friend was “Caffeine-Free Matt.”

          In retrospect, not conducive to office settings, and definite potential for people to be offended.

            1. Sarah*

              At my old office we had nice Sandy and mean Sandy. We were all happy when mean Sandy left, because she was legit not a kind person and very difficult to work with.

          1. KellyK*

            I love the soda naming conventions!

            My husband (also a Matt) was LastName all through college because his friend, a year ahead of him, was the original Matt. They both worked at the help desk. When yet another Matt started working there, he was christened “Three.”

          1. blackcat*

            …. I also have a Joe and Straight Joe in my friend circle. I’m pretty confident that we don’t run in the same circle, so I’m a bit amazed that this naming convention has happened to two independent sets of Joes.

        2. Marillenbaum*

          It’s like on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, where there’s Josh (Filipino-American), and his friend, White Josh.

        3. Matilda Jefferies*

          I had a friend named Mike in university. When he introduced me to his roommate, he said “His name is easy, it’s the same as mine!” So obviously, the second Mike was called “Easy” from then on.

          Fortunately, he was totally okay with it, and this is another option that’s pretty clearly not appropriate for work. But even so, the point is that people encounter duplicate names all the time, and they always find a way to figure it out!

          Also, my sympathy to all the Jennifers out there. It was the most popular girls name for so many years around the time I was born, I think at least a third of my female friends have been a Jennifer in one form or another!

        4. Katriona*

          My college lit mag had a Girl Alex and a Boy Alex. Then Girl Alex left to study abroad and Boy Alex got deployed, but we got another Girl Alex and another Boy Alex while they were gone. When the original Boy Alex came back the second one was renamed Alex Lastname to avoid confusion. Definitely not a work-appropriate solution (well, except for the part where we just used Second Boy Alex’s full name) but I don’t recall ever having any issues keeping track of which Alex was which.

        5. Kara Zor-El*

          Love it! In college we had Betsy B (b for boys bc she was straight) and Betsy G (g for girls bc she was gay).

      2. Andraste's Knicker Weasels (formerly ancolie)*

        My uncle goes by his middle name (my grandpa’s first name*) and my brother has that as his name, so they were Big Thomas and Little Thomas when bro was a kid. He aged out of Little Thomas, but my Uncle is still called Big Thomas. :)

        * they had reversed names and both went by their middle names, which I find hilarious but cool. So my gpa was (made up names) Thomas George and went by George; his son was George Thomas and went by Thomas.

    6. Anancy*

      I worked with a Sally, Salley, and Sallie, and we (and they) clarified by calling them(selves) Sally Admin, Salley Volunteers, and Sallie HR.

      1. Xarcady*

        I got hired by a company where the owner had both the same first name as me (Mary) and the exact same initials. I offered to go by my first name plus middle name–but there were already two Mariannes. And then we added another Marianne and a Merry. I suggested using my middle name, Ann, but there was already an Ann in the office.

        I used my last name. We had Upstairs Marianne, Sales Marianne, Marianne B and Merry by the printer. The owner was the only one who was just Mary.

        And later there Annie joined up, and Ana, and two Marias. We survived.

      2. LizB*

        My workplace has an Alexander and an Alexandra who both go by Alex, and when we need to differentiate we specify departments – Admin Alex or Marketing Alex.

    7. Gen*

      There’s currently a chain of four Davids all reporting to each other at my spouses workplace, two are David C. It’s a massive organisation so most people go by their full name unless their conversing face to face “you need to ask Dave Clark about that” etc. The only time it causes issues is when someone makes the tea

      1. Magenta Sky*

        Wasn’t work related, but the social circle I hang out in used to have the League of Daves. At any given party, literally (we counted) half the room would be named Dave. We tried to make them to wear numbers, but they out voted us.

        1. Matilda Jefferies*

          We tried to make them to wear numbers, but they out voted us.

          Ha, I see what you did there!

    8. Rich*

      I had a job for four years in an office with around 65 people. 7 of us were named Richard — including me and my boss (later grand boss). Everyone went by Rich. Schedules were such that we generally only had to work around 4-5 name collisions. Some we resolved with initials (Rich T, Rich W). One became Pre-Sales Rich, which may not have been ideal as it pigeonholed him, but he didn’t seem to mind. My boss was Rich 1, I was Rich 2, since we were the only two with an immediate reporting relationship.

      I was briefly annoyed by that, since I’d worked there before any of the others, and figured I’d earned Rich 1, but it wasn’t an honorific and he was the big boss, so I got over it.

      It was much worse at home with both my father and grandfather named Richard. THAT was confusing. Work was never an issue, either internally or with customer-facing interactions.

      1. Susan K*

        My department used to have two Brians. Some people differentiated by calling them “old Brian” and “new Brian”, but the problem was that “old Brian” was about 20 years younger than “new Brian” so there was always some confusion when someone addressed “old Brian.” It seemed weird to call a 27-year-old guy “old Brian.” I found it easier just to say “Brian Smith” or “Brian Jones.” The kicker was that both of them had different first names but went by their middle name of Brian.

        1. Sam I Am*

          We previously had two Jameses in my department both of them went by their middle names instead, and both of them had middle names starting with “A”. Not the same middle name though!

        2. paper fiend*

          I work in tech. For a while we had a “Jim 1.0” and a “Jim 2.0” based on their arrival dates at the company. Plus three different Tims, who were differentiated by last name (and in fact one ended up going informally by just his last initial. So we all called him “H”.)

          1. Cobol*

            I work with a Randy 2.0 who replaced Randy-now retroactively Randy 1.0. I’m not sure I’d like that, but he doesn’t seem to mind.

          2. Turquoisecow*

            A friend of mine had a long term girlfriend, whom he broke up with before I met him. His wife now has the same first name. He refers to his ex as Lauren 1 and occasionally refers to her as simply “1.0”. His wife does not mind.

            He also works in tech, so this might be why she’s 1.0 and not, for example, “A.”

          3. Dorothy Zbornak*

            Ha! My old boss was a Jim and his replacement is a Jim, so I refer to them as Jim 1.0 and Jim 2.0 as well :)

          4. Spider*

            Ha, I’m in a similar boat — I just had my old supervisor Jane replaced with a new hire named Jayne. My previous supervisor is now referred to as “Jane 1,” “the previous Jane,” or “not you, Jayne, the other Jane” by the staff.

        3. Anonymous Pterodactyl*

          My workplace has:

          – 2 men with the same first name, and both go by their (very different) middle names
          – 2 women with the same first name, which both go by, though they spell it differently
          – 2 men with the same middle name, neither of which is the same person as the previously referenced men, one of whom goes by his middle name and the other by his last name

          It also has me: a woman who goes by a name that’s usually a male nickname, though it *can* be female, except the female name that it’s accepted as a nickname for is *not* the name that I use it as a nickname – I started using it because I absolutely loathe the nickname that’s normally used for my given name. Think “Sam”, except that instead of being short for “Samantha”, it’s short for “Assam” so I don’t have to go by “Ass”.

        4. CM*

          In our family, we have a new old car (a 2006 model that we bought used in 2012) and our old new car (a 2010 model that we bought new in 2010).

      2. Jennifer*

        GOOD LORD. That rivals being named Jennifer while growing up in the 80’s (had seven in one class).

        1. K.*

          I had a professor who would throw out common first names when he wanted answers to questions, and expect that they’d all raise their hands. There were a bunch of Jennifers in that class (lecture of about 100).

        2. Bryce*

          My high school had four or five Jenny Smith’s in my year, and we were a pretty small school. Three of them were on the soccer team, too.

        3. What's Your Damage, Heather?*

          We Heathers raised mostly in the 80s also feel your pain! Rare have been the times I wasn’t one of many. We had three at my 50ish-person company at one point.

          The most fun I had was when I worked at a large company with two sisters. One shared my first name so we got each other’s emails a lot; the other resembled me physically so we were often mistaken for each other. Sometimes I’d just smile and let people chatter on to “Tracy” rather than embarrass them, usually because we got pretty far along before I realized they thought I was her.

        4. Pebbles*

          This was me. In my high school physics class of almost 30 kids, 7 were female, and 4 of those were Jennifers. We got together on the first day and decided Jennifer, Jenny, Jen, and “last_name”. I was Jen, which stuck for the rest of high school, and I really grew to hate being called Jen.

          Fast forward to my office where I go by Jennifer (or completely different nickname). One of my coworkers has a wife who goes by Jen, and no matter how often I told him I didn’t like to be called Jen, he’d call me that. I changed tactics and finally trained him to call me Jennifer. Every time he called me Jen, I reminded him that “I am not your wife”!

      3. MommaTRex*

        We’ve also used “version” numbers at my work, as in: MommaTRex 1.0, MommaTRex 2.0. etc. But it is still more common to tack on an initial. And when that doesn’t work (like when we had two Oscar Gs and two Elmo Ms) we would just the whole last name, or something like “HR Elmo” and “Finance Elmo”.

        It’s kind of a joke here about hiring similar named people. And I think we have a decently diverse workforce. But it keeps happening even amongst people of different cultural backgrounds. We’ve even had them in situations reporting to each other.

        Please, OP. Let Arya go by the name that she identifies with. It is HER NAME.

        1. CM*

          I think I saw a YouTube video about HR Elmo and Finance Elmo. They were singing a song about friendship and proper invoicing.

    9. Rookie Manager*

      I once volunteered at a large event where the head honcho had and a ‘lowly volunteer’ had exactly the same name. Only confusion was when someone mentioned ‘did you see firstname lastname met the queen last night’ and I thought my fellow volunteer had not told me… very quickly and easily handled.

      Like others I’ve worked in many places with people of the same name, it’s not that hard really. Even if this person had agreed to ‘Stark’ for clients/externally it would still make sense to use her first name witg colleagues. Names are a huge part of many people identity and if she’s never been known by her last name then this is a massive ask.

    10. Annie Mouse*

      There are 20 of us on my course at the moment. In that 20, there are 2 of each of Jane, Fergus and James, and a Joaquin and a Wakeen. Talk about confusing! But we manage the vast majority of the time with only the occasional need for clarification when talking about people :)

        1. Annie Mouse*

          Haha, absolutely, but that is why I chose those two. Not 100% accurate depiction but I couldn’t think of another alternative and I couldn’t resist using the famous Wakeen!!
          I did forget about one other pair though, there is also another Annie!!!

      1. SarahTheEntwife*

        We’re now down to 2 Sarahs; there used to be four, two of whom had the same last initial. One unexpected bonus — I got to talk to a moderately famous person once because she thought I was the other Sarah ;-)

    11. Djuna*

      I have a very unusual first name (not my screenname, but as rare), and at one point there were (somehow!) three of us with the same name in the company. Before this (in a 20-year plus career) I had never worked with someone with the same first name as me.

      Because it’s such an unusual name, people assumed anytime they saw it, it was the same person.
      It did help slightly that we were in different departments, and over time the confusion (people IM-ing me to continue a conversation I’d never been part of, misdirected emails, etc.) cleared up. Two of us even had the same last initial so some wags took to calling us Original, Sequel and Threequel based on when we’d been hired, but that was far from ideal. Instead, we went by job roles (Writer Djuna, Team Manager Djuna, Account and Billing Djuna).

      1. Birch*

        Why don’t people just add the last name? We have 2 Sarahs in offices right next to each other and I’m currently dealing with two administrators with the same first name and it’s just not a problem to say “I talked to Sarah Kramer yesterday.” Rather than come up with nicknames which IMO sounds unprofessional. Not nearly as unprofessional as actually asking someone to go by a different name though…

        1. Tuesday Next*

          It depends on the context. You don’t say “I spoke to Blonde Sally about the report”, you say, “Which Sally is that, the blonde one or the dark one?” Depending on the size of the office you may not know everyone’s surnames.

        2. Sleepy Unicorn*

          I’ve worked at my office for about 10 years. There’s one coworker who everyone refers to as her full name (think “Pam Williams”) . When talking directly to her you use her first name, but talking about her it’s always her full name. I asked her about it once and it turned out 20 years ago there used to be another Pam (who has left many years ago) but the habit of everyone using Pam’s full name stuck and has been passed down to people who never even knew the other Pam.

        3. Falling Diphthong*

          Well, the origin of most last names is exactly that. You distinguish Fergus Miller, Fergus Smith, and Fergus Carpenter. Or Arya of the Ford and Arya by the Forest, or Valerian Thomson and Valerian Davidson. Naming people after their office jobs is just the modern version 1, where you know what work they do but not where they live or who their parents are.

        4. Marillenbaum*

          Sadly, it doesn’t always work–when I was in college, there was a student a year behind me who had the exact same first and last name, which caused SO many problems: she received my textbook order, I ended up on her sorority listserve, and my personal favorite–the time her underage drinking citation almost cost me MY scholarship (only found out in the letter that said they decided to renew but that the committee was VERY disappointed in my conduct, so I had to call the Merit Scholarships Office and ask what the **** they were talking about, because I was studying abroad at the time. Turns out, they’d entered it into the system by name and not student ID number. Still miffed about that.)

          1. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

            My son is running into issues this year with just a similar name. (He’s only 8th grade, so I get to deal with some of this) We have a unique surname and there is another kid in his grade with that surname with a similar first name, starts with the same letter and has the same number of letters in it – Think Adam and Aden. So far, my son showed up to take the PSAT and found they didn’t have him listed (but the other kid was) and then my son was listed as having gotten some sort of discipline warning this grading period and it was supposed to be the other kid. He’s also had a few times where he’s had to show that his papers were in fact returned to him and graded after zeros show up in the online grades.

            1. Observer*

              Wow – your school is incredibly sloppy. It’s really inexcusable.

              I hope you can get someone to actually DO something about this – once or twice is one thing, but this is a pattern of sloppiness.

            2. Gadfly*

              Ugh, that’s worse than having a teacher at the school with the same first name same last name pronunciation (mine had a funky spelling). I just ended up being sent to the office a lot when they were looking for the teacher.

              I’d be raising hell over this. Way too much possibility of something following him or him not getting credit for.

            3. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

              It seems like something changed somewhere this year, because we really didn’t have problems before now. He does say that he has to constantly correct one of his teacher’s that calls him by the other name so I’m wondering if she has caused most of it. I know she was involved on the PSAT (only his advanced class got to take it, the other kid isn’t in the advanced class) and it’s her mostly her grades that haven’t shown up. No idea about the discipline warning, but that could have been her too.

              1. Anion*

                Please, if you haven’t spoken to her yet, do so, and if it’s not resolved immediately speak to the Principal. That is garbage, and could affect his future (as in transcripts). I made a comment a couple lines below to this effect but wanted to reply directly to you, in case you’re only getting notifications.

                1. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

                  We’ve been straightening it out as things come up, but it’s really close to Principal level just due to the pattern. The craziest part of this is that they don’t have any classes together. We’re a small school though so they do have all the same teachers, just not at the same time of day.

            1. KC without the sunshine band*

              I’m with ya. It’s not even the same name. What if there was a medical emergency and they had it swapped? Could be fatal. He’s going to have to be overly vigilant in high school to be sure he doesn’t have issues with college applications and such. Geesh.

            2. Anion*

              Yeah, I’d have been on the phone with that teacher immediately, and after the second occurrence I’d be setting up a meeting with the Principal. I do NOT play around when it comes to my girls’ schools.

              (I’m not saying you’re not a good and conscientious parent, TWBAGBN, or that you’re somehow remiss if you haven’t done this. I’m just offering advice/commentary. My older daughter was bullied mercilessly at two schools in the past–the first of which refused to really address the situation–so now I tend to go straight for the top wrt complaints etc. Especially if a disciplinary issue is showing up on MY kid’s record? Oh, no.)

          2. Lore*

            My brother, in high school, was constantly getting mixed up by the administration with one of my friends; we had different spellings of the same last name and the first names were similar (like Ivan and Evianne). Since he was a bit of a discipline problem and she was a straight-A honor student, it was sometimes advantageous to him, but they were in different grades and if she hadn’t known me, she might have had a much harder time trying to explain the situation to her family!

          3. CMF*

            My brother’s friend had the same first and last name (both fairly common) as another kid in the neighborhood. I think they were the same age, possibly a year apart. Since one kid went to Catholic school and the other went to public school, they didn’t have too much issue growing up.

            Until the other kid was accused of murder or accessory to murder, and the police showed up at the kid my brother knew’s house.

        5. Lily Rowan*

          Yeah, I think all of these conversations are fascinating, because everywhere I’ve been since high school, you just use the person’s full name to refer to them (granted, this wouldn’t work when people have both names the same). So Mike Jones/Mike Ramos/Mike Brown, Jen Johnson/Jen Wang/Jen Smith. It doesn’t seem that confusing to me!

    12. President of the Lutheran Sisterhood Gun Club*

      I once worked at a place with 6 Davids. It worked out well for a while – some were Dave, some were David, some went by their last name, some went by David Lastname. There was a system and they each had a unique variation. Then a seventh Dave started working there and it threw the whole system off, and people jokingly started calling him “Other Dave,” and that name stuck. Poor Other Dave.

      1. Jen S. 2.0*

        Ha, I remember a post here about a college friend called Other Other Katie. Apparently Katie and Other Katie graduated, but poor Other Other Katie never got a promotion. Also in the same thread, about Bill 1 through Bill 5 who never renumbered themselves.

      2. ThatGirl*

        In college we knew about 6 Dans (and 27 Jennifers, but that’s a different story) and decided they each needed nicknames; there was one we were throwing nickname ideas around for one night and he kept saying “Veto! Veto!” so… we decided he was Veto.

      3. Perse's Mom*

        Here, it’s Dave, Other Dave, [3rd Dave’s surname], and any additional Daves were Dave in [department].

    13. Workaholic*

      We have 5 “workaholics” at the company i work for. Two of us on the same team (and we had the same position for over a year. She was promoted and is a level above me but still the same team about 3 months ago). We use last initials to differentiate. As for the inevitable emails sent to the wrong one – we just roll our eyes, sigh, forward the email to the correct one, and commiserate and laugh about it later. In our case (same team) it’s usually a case of our client refusing to hit “reply” and instead manually typing in the email address and snagging whichever “workaholic” they most recently contacted.

    14. Name (Required)*

      Ha ha,
      I’ve worked with 6 Mary’s in a single complex. It was all worked out naturally within the workforce without any carnage. Not one of them were referred to by their 2nd name / surname / whatever, there were mutually agreed nicknames and initials and yes the unit that had 3 Marys used to shamelessly confuse the rest of us by saying ‘Oh Mary will take care of that’ (they had their own code which relied on intonation of the way you said Mary within their team to know who they were talking about) and the rest of us had to suck it up and ask :)

      You have an opportunity here if you choose to see it that way.

    15. Some Sort of Management Consultant*

      My team of 25 people has 4 Cecilias, 2 Eriks and 2 Ludvigs… We have never had a problem :)

    16. Sheworkshardforthemoney*

      We had Little Anne, Young Anne, Secretary Anne and Boss Anne. They were all fine with the designations because no disrespect was intended and the names were for expediency sake. But when speaking to them, they were simply called Anne.

    17. BookishMiss*

      I work in an office with…let’s say two each of Anne, Katherine, and Mary. We use last initials, and it works just fine. One of the Katherines goes by Katherine H to external contacts while the other is Katherine P, for example. Mary Tudor and Mary Talbot just use full names. It works fine for us.

    18. SusanIvanova*

      If you called out “Chris, Paul, and Mark” almost all the men in my choir would turn to look. In person we use first names, when referring to them where context is ambiguous it’s nicknames or surnames, depending on who it is.

      The co-workers New Arya introduces herself to already know there’s a Boss Arya. They’ll come up with a working solution too.

      1. Liane*

        Yes, they will.
        This question reminds me of all the relationship advice column questions about, “We named our child Lucinda and now relative/friend is naming their baby Lucinda. It’s stealing, how do I tell them they aren’t allowed?” Or worse, ” I have told everyone for years that our first baby would be Avery, but someone reproduced first…”

      2. MoodyMoody*

        There is actually a radio show in my city called “Two Guys Named Chris.” Both of the two main hosts were named Chris(topher). They did not rename the show when an intern named Chris(tian) worked there.

    19. Murphy*

      When I was in high school, I worked at a library. Let’s say my name is Sophie. I reported to a woman named Sophie, and the library director’s name was Sophia. They asked me politely if I had a nickname or something for it to be less confusing. Some friends at school called me “Fee”, so I went by that the whole time I was working there.

    20. HannahS*

      Yeah. I feel like people will automatically start using last initial or last name or job title to differentiate you. I don’t think it would be nice to insist. It’ll come off sounding like, “You can’t be Jennifer, because MY name is Jennifer and I was here FIRST.” She obviously wants her coworkers to call her Arya. Just make sure you know her last name so that you can use it or her initial when you talk to people.

    21. AnotherAlison*

      On the flip side, a lot of our reporting gets tagged with your last name in my office. One coworker and I share a common last name, and we work on a lot of the same projects, or similar projects. So we add our first initial on reports. Not complicated.

      We also had multiple Jeffs and Dans for a while, and we’re a fairly small workgroup. No one ever said, “You must call Dan Martens by Martens and never Dan.” Sometimes it worked out that way, but we were able to keep it straight without forcing someone to give up their first name!

    22. Charlie Bradbury's Girlfriend*

      We’ve got multiples of Bill, John, Ed, Brian, and Stacey. Everyone goes by their first name, and any confusion is clarified with their last name or department. No big deal! :)

    23. WonderingAgain*

      A friend’s name is Catherine. When she started a new job, she asked her supervisor to call her Cate. The supervisor told her there was already a Cate in the organization (not the department – but the organization of over 100 people). So she could not use it! She went by Catherine until he retired, and then she immediately started using Cate.

    24. ClownBaby*

      Yeah there are 4 Dougs and 5 Scotts at my current workplace. At varying levels. 2 of the Scotts report to another Scott. As far as I know, there has never been any devastating situation caused by their names. The worst thing I’ve ever heard of happening was the receptionist transferred a call to Scott Z instead of Scott Y, so then Scott Y had to transfer the call to Scott Z, slightly inconveniencing the caller.

      I’d feel uncomfortable introducing myself by my last name…perhaps because my last name is also a common first name…I think that would really end up confusing people. I think her introducing herself by her full name, first and last, would suffice. She can still easily go by her first name until someone needs to make the distinction, at which point that someone would just say “I need this TPS report to go to Arya Stark.”

    25. Emi.*

      I used to live in a tiny town in Nova Scotia where everyone’s family name was MacPherson or MacGregor, and all the men were named John. You had to specify that you were talking about Big John’s Little John’s Fat John’s John. Maybe people should just ask all the Aryas “Who’s your supervisor?” as a workplace version of “Who’s your father?”

      1. Observer*

        This reminds me a song I heard years ago about Pete Peterson, and his family, friends and enemies who were all also Pete Peterson.

        In general, in many areas with a fairly homogeneous ethnic makeup, your chances of having multiple people with the same name, either first, last or both, goes up.

    26. Been there*

      So much this. I was once a manager on a team with another manager who I shared the same name with. It wasn’t this name but the same principle. I was Sara and she was Sarah. Our boss laughed and joked that one of us was going to have to go by something else. Sarah volunteered to go by Sar. It worked out for the most part, but a lot people were already used to calling her Sarah.

      Our work overlapped quite a bit and I twice took her team and covered her job while she was on maternity leave (I’m convinced there were people who didn’t realize she’d ever left). Most people finally gave up and would address emails to the both of us addressed to Sara(h) and we were often referred to in conversation as “The Sara(h)s”

      The worst thing that happened is we would get each others emails. In other words not a big deal. At least I didn’t accidentally get invited to and attend a meeting instead of her like I did in place of the woman in my company with the same very unique last name as me (think we’re probably distantly related).

      In other words, let the poor woman use her name! It’s not that big of a deal.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        Most people finally gave up and would address emails to the both of us addressed to Sara(h) and we were often referred to in conversation as “The Sara(h)s”

        The other Rusty and I were dotted-line involved on a project, and at least once someone said in a meeting “Let’s go get the Rustys.” Like the Bobs in Office Space.

        1. Been there*

          I think the funniest context I’d heard it was when I walked in on my boss who was on a conference call. Our CEO was talking about some problem we were having and said “Get those whippersnappers to work on it and make it better… yeah that’s a good idea, give it to the Sara(h)s”

      2. NotAnotherManager!*

        I somehow managed to hire 4 people with the same name (and one with a similar name – think 4 Janes and a Jan) in a 2-year period, and now two of them work on the same project together. The team has begun calling them “The Janes” affectionately but still manages to differentiate between Jane A. and Jane M. Also, one of the Janes I recently hired replaced another Jane, and there have been countless jokes about that as well. At one point, I was trying to schedule candidate interviews and was asked, “Is this one’s name Jane, too?” by more than one interviewer.

    27. Mike C.*

      I don’t understand what the big deal is here. Do you know how many Mikes I grew up with in class, being born in the early 80s? We figured it out without this formalized “I’m Mike A and you’re Mike B” stuff. Yes, sometimes there’s confusion, but it’s no different than the sort of confusion that happens when two people are passing int he hallway.

      It’s simply not a big deal.

      1. Turquoisecow*

        There were five Mikes in my class of about 50 kids. One guy went by Mike lastname because his last name sounded like someone else’s first name. The others were mostly referred to as LastName or occasionally Mike LastName.

        There were multiple Jennifers, but none of the girls’ names had quite the frequency of Mike.

    28. NW Mossy*

      In eight years at my current company, I have twice reported to bosses who shared my first name. I’m now peers with one of those ex-bosses. It generally works just fine, as we’re distinct enough personalities that people generally know which Mossy. The biggest issue is auto-fill in email applications that can lead to misdirected mail, but that’s not something that going by our last names in verbal communication is going to solve.

    29. Friday*

      I’m an old millennial and never had another classmate or friend with my first name all through school, including college. Then when I started working in offices, there was always at least one Boomer with my first name, because it turns out that’s when it was most popular to use. And naturally they always outranked me. Nobody ever accidentally gave me sensitive documents or the keys to the city or the nuclear codes or what have you. Because people learn how to deal with two coworkers with the same name. If anyone at your work is lazy enough to not get the right Arya and reveals sensitive info to your employee that was meant for you, that’s on them.

    30. Turquoisecow*

      My old job actually had two guys with the same first AND last name. They thankfully worked in different areas, so there wasn’t too much overlap.

    31. GumptionIndeed*

      I worked with an Helene (French style – ‘ell-ehne) and an Aline and if you say either of them too fast, the names started to sound the same to English staff members. There was a lot of “Aline or Helene?” questions. But to my French ears, they were very different!

      In other jobs, there were multiple Marks, Michaels, Mikes, and in one particular job, three Marias, a Marie, a Mary and then a clutch of Marie-XXX: Marie-Josee, Marie-France, Marie-Claire, etc.

    32. Undine*

      We have multiple Yuriys, Dmitriys, Andriys, Ivans, and Igors. The Yuriys also all go by Yura and the Dmitriys all go by Dima. It’s made even more confusing because we’ve been acquired and the names were entered in the email system differently (including one person who went from Andrew to Andriy.) Many of them work remotely, so we don’t have physical characteristics to pin on them. We use last initials. This has been so not a problem that it’s only now that I’m thinking, oh yeah, we have the situation in the letter. (It’s a bigger problem that we have a Nikita who is in the system as Mykyta, but there’s only one of him. Also one of the Ivans is a native of Hong Kong, but now likes to be called Vanya. Because.)

    33. Where's the Le-Toose?*

      For OP #2, I think you’re making mountains out molehills. In my office we have multiple employees with the same name: Amanda, Lisa, Steve, Amy, Tom, Brian. We manage. Look at all the comments of other people who have managed. But for your office, it’s a liability issue to have two Aryas?

    34. Samiratou*

      I’m kind of curious as to what the LW’s real name is. I have an unusual name (just looked it up, and I’m the only one with my first name in a corporation with 45K or so employees) so having someone on my team with my name would be SUPER WEIRD. I’ve been here 15 years and if another “Samiratou” showed up we’d have to work something out, at least in the beginning, because I’m pretty sure it would be a lot harder on her than it would be on me.

    35. Annie Moose*

      At my old job, after a reshuffle, it turned out my new manager and I both had the same first name (with a slight spelling difference–think Anne vs. Ann). Apparently behind our backs the rest of the team took to calling us “Senior” and “Junior”! Both my manager and I found it hilarious when we finally found out.

      Only once do I remember anybody getting confused between us, though–on a conference call, someone thought I was Ann (the manager), not Anne (me), and started to ask me a question about the progress of a different project, before I realized what was going on and corrected her. We never even got emails for each other. The thing was, our work really didn’t overlap a lot. She might’ve been managing me, but she wasn’t actually working on project work. So it was usually quite obvious from context which of us was intended–is the topic planning and projects from a broad perspective? You want Ann. Is it project-specific technical details? You want me!

    36. tigerlily*

      I currently work at a job where I have the same name as the woman I replaced. It was kind of hilarious when I started and I would get phone calls and have to stop people who just picked up their last conversation thinking I was the same person. Nope, I’m the NEW tigerlily, sorry! But even then, it’s a moment of confusion and a quick correction and we’re back on track.

    37. planning_things*

      Okay, so I do have a new coworker with the same name (and the first letters of our last names are P and B) and while it’s basically fine, it does cause a lot of headache and confusion. Our work email program auto-fills names when you start typing, so people start typing our first name and accidentally send emails to the wrong one all. the. time. I get emails meant for her at least four times a week. And for some reason no one (after six months) can get in the habit of including last names or initials with our first names in emails that we’re both on, which creates a lot of ambiguity and unnecessary clarifying emails.

    38. AVP*

      I had a client who had this issue once – both the main client and the person who worked under her and handled billing had the same first name. It wouldn’t have been confusing except they never bothered to properly introduce themselves, and they were in a different city, so we were never sure if it was one person or two people. I thought for months it was one person with a maiden and married name, because they were NEVER cc’ed on the same emails and people talked about them kind of interchangably.

      So I see the potential for confusion, but I think if they had just made a note when they first hired us it would have been totally fine. In the end it seemed like an indicative sign of their organizational practices and not a name issue.

    39. JulieBulie*

      People can be very possessive and territorial about their names. I once joined an email group (majordomo or listserv) that already had a Julie. The other Julie complained right away that she’d no longer be the only Julie. I thought she was joking (I was one of four Julies in my high school Spanish class), but I guess she wasn’t, because any time someone mentioned “Julie,” even if the context was really obvious, the other Julie would express bewilderment as to why her name was being invoked. She also suggested several times that I should have a nickname since she was there first.

      I get that Arya wants to stay Arya, but I think it’s fair enough that OtherArya wants to be Arya too. OP is kinda trying to make OtherArya be Tandy. I think this thread has enough examples of name-overlap in the workplace to show that it isn’t necessary for new coworkers to rename themselves.

    40. Serin*

      There are two Daves in my work group; we don’t work in the same place but we all serve the same client, so these two guys show up in a lot of the same teleconferences, email chains, group chats, etc. The rest of us use firstname+lastname when we need to distinguish, but the two of them amuse me by addressing each other as Mr. Ling and Mr. Smith.

      There were seven Daves in my college dorm, too, but in the more casual context we ended up with Christian Dave and Florida Dave and Stoner Dave.

    41. Lora*

      I’m one of a zillion Lora/Lori/Laura/Lauries. We’re all around the same age, too. I work in a male-dominated industry where they have like, a factory that stamps out dudes named Andy / Chris / Jeff / Dan. They all go to engineering school at Northeastern, Rensselaer, CMU and Villanova. Worked somewhere that had 5 Andys in the same department of 30 people.

    42. zora*

      For a little while I worked somewhere where we had 4 Lauras and 1 Laurie. And two of the Lauras had the same last initial, and 1 Laura reported to another Laura. It took getting used to, but we all got used to using full first/last names and it was fine. I really don’t think this will be a huge nightmare, people will figure it out and be fine.

      1. zora*

        Also, I just remembered I worked for someone who forced me to change my name while I worked for her :::eyeroll::: This was for a super entry level position for a theatre company and the Director/Theatre Company Founder was a super dramatic self-absorbed British lady.

        I showed up to the interview using my nickname “Liz”. And she was also a Liz. So, at the end of the interview, she says “Well, I definitely want to hire you, but I am very CONCERNED about how CONFUSING it’s going to be for everyone to have TWO Liz’s here….. (Long, pointed pause)…..” I stared at her in confusion for what felt like hours, before I finally realized what she was getting at. So I said, “Oh, well, I guess I could go by Elizabeth????” “Ok great, you’re HIRED!” It was fine, I was used to being called Elizabeth by some of my teachers, and I made it through the season just fine, but that just seemed so ridiculous and over the top.

        Don’t be that lady, it’s really not that big of a freaking deal, people are used to having multiple people with the same name around. They’ll be fine. ;o)

        1. zora*

          And now I’ve read OP2’s updates that there are real, work-related reasons for not having too much confusion between the two people. So my eyerolliness doesn’t apply to the OP, but it’s still valid for anyone who just thinks that having 2 employees with the same name would be a huge hassle.

      2. Lora*

        Yeah, you pretty much described my whole life there…women born 1965 – 1980, we’re all named Laura or Susan or Jennifer. There were a few Courtneys, Merediths and Kates in my high school class too.

        We also enjoy wearing sensible shoes and quirky glasses, putting our hair up in Scrunchies, and drinking wine-in-a-box out of jelly jars.

    43. Sketchee*

      Similar situation here. I think many workplaces of a certain size have a few name twins. I have a common first name that has a few sound alike names. So I’ve often worked and socialized with people with the same name.

      Most people are used to dealing with it and just being clear. When it does cause confusion, I just say “This is Arya Greyjoy speaking. Was this call/email intended for Arya Stark?”

      Making corrections for confusion is a natural part of communication. Sometimes it’s best prevented and sometimes best handled in the moment.

    44. Susanne*

      Honestly, I think it was out of line for the OP to even suggest that Arya go by a different name, and I wish Alison had been more forceful on that. The world is full of all kinds of workplaces, social clubs, friendship circles, etc. in which several people have the same first name. Everyone knows how to refer to someone with a last initial or with their last name in order to avoid confusion. I think it was an inelegant solution to a problem that didn’t even really exist in the first place. People should be called what they want to be called, not arbitrarily assigned their last names.

    45. Former Temp*

      At my work place, there are *several* people with the same first names, and one of my same level co-workers has the same first name as our mutual supervisor *and* that co-worker has a last name that is very similar to the supervisor’s (think supervisor as Anne Roberts, co-worker is Anne Robertson, that’s how similar, though these are not the actual names), and another co-worker with the same first name (slight spelling difference, so think Ann). In addition, there are two other sets of three co-workers with a shared first name (so nine people with a total of 3 first names if you discount the spelling difference), and another pair with yet another name (eleven people, 4 names).

      In a normal work place, you just figure out what needs to be done to differentiate (my supervisor puts her middle initial in her email, which also really helps keep them from getting incorrect emails). Forcing someone to go by a name other than the one they’d chosen (whether that be first or last or a nickname derived from either) just doesn’t seem right.

    46. Lindsey*

      I used to work with two Kevins who reported to each other and focused on a certain product line. Half the time I just would more or less be referring to the product as Kevin.

      But it didn’t really cause any big problems.

      I’m super curious about Arya’s line of work.

  6. Cobol*

    #3 is probably going to rightfully get the most attention, so #2 I’m hoping I get in before it gets buried. I really don’t think this is a big deal. You seem to be pushing heavily that your new hire go by their last name, which I think is pretty rare. I’d recommend you go back and replay the exchanges and see if you pushed for her to accept that solution. People will agree to things in an interview to get a job.

    1. Temperance*

      I could see myself agreeing to that and then never answering because that’s not my name. I wonder is Sansa is doing the same.

    2. Escapee from Corporate Management*

      OP #2, you are blowing this way out of proportion. I spent a decade at a company where at least four other people had my first name, including the CEO. It was no big deal. In most contexts, its was 100% clear which person was which. If not, you simply added the last name (e.g., “Arya wants the updated deck for the Board of Directors” was clear. “I have a meeting with Arya Stark at 10:00am to discuss the new teapot design” required that clarification.)

      If you don’t want to be a jerk (your words), don’t force someone to go by a different name. Learn to adapt. That’s what good managers do.

      1. EddieSherbert*

        Yeah, not gonna lie, this seems super weird to me… I work with 3 other Eddies right now and two Emmies (names close enough to mine that sometimes I think they said mine).

        I get mix of “nicknames” from various coworkers (including some that use my last name) and so do the Other Eddies and Emmies, but it never even crossed anyone’s mind to make us go by anything other than what we want to be called…

    3. fposte*

      Honestly, even if Arya S. accepted it in the interview, she’s allowed to say to herself “Hang on, I don’t want to be called Stark” later.

    4. Blue Eagle*

      Here’s another thought. Maybe she thought you meant that YOU would call her Stark and everyone else would call her Arya. I know it would be weird for me to call my staff person by my own first name so I can definitely see me calling her by her last name with everyone else calling her by her first name.

      1. LQ*

        I don’t think it would be that weird. You aren’t calling them by your first name, you are calling them by their first name. It just happens to be the same as yours. I’ve never found it weird to call someone else LQ or talk to them or about them with my name. It’s easier because they know I’m not talking about me. (I guess it would be weird if I talked in 3rd person regularly, but other than that it should be really normal.)

        1. Andraste's Knicker Weasels (formerly ancolie)*

          I’ve found it weird. Luckily, in high school the other MyName felt the same way, so we jokingly called each other “hey… you” (pause and emphasis included). :D

        2. zora*

          Maybe some people aren’t that used to it and it seems weird at first, but as someone with one of the Top 3 first names in the US, I have always had multiple people with the same first name as me around, and I call them by the same name I have and it doesn’t feel weird at all. In my head I’m pretty clear that I am Me, and that other person is a different person! I know who I am talking about, it isn’t at all confusing.

      2. Susanne*

        That doesn’t make any sense, Blue Eagle. Why would it be weird to call someone by their own first name, just because it happens to be yours as well?

  7. Sara M*

    For #3: Say what Alison suggests, but keep in mind that if this was a home test, who knows if she followed instructions or if the test is reliable or anything else. So don’t panic–but do encourage her to see a doctor.

    1. Evandarya*

      I have a friend whos husband is type 2 diabetic, and his blood sugar tested at coma inducing levels once because he forgot to wash his hands after eating grapes. If a long term diabetic can make mistakes, a person with no medical training absolutely can, too.

      1. Gadfly*

        And the strips could be bad or expired. And a lot of home machines have huge acceptable margins of error. And aren’t checked to see if they are functioning properly.

      2. SystemsLady*

        An A1C test is much less likely to be subject to that kind of error, but it is true the home kits have a reputation for sometimes being off (above +/-10% or so). There are certain blood conditions that also affect the results.

        1. Gadfly*

          I don’t see where the coworker got an a1c. The OP calculated it from the blood glucose levels (unknown if fasting)

          1. Anna*

            It’s the other way around. The OP asked about A1C and based on what they were told, was able to calculate that the average was 450.

    2. Observer*

      Yes, she definitely needs to see a doctor. Keep in mind that SOMETHING *has* to be going on – why else was she testing?

      So, a talk with her doctor is the first step she needs to take.

      Alison’s script is as good as it gets. .

      1. Gadfly*

        My kid sister had some scares because she was testing as part of figuring out how to help our tech challenged mother use her meter and she was curious. So there are benign possible reasons.

  8. upinalather*

    My former boss and co-worker would get together with each other and their families when they were all at the beach at the same time (for long weekends and such). They just couldn’t fathom why this was not cool.

      1. upinalather*

        They “happened” to be at the beach at the same time with their families. They also got together outside of work at home–cookouts, games, etc. I was the only other person–and only woman–on the team. I don’t really drink, and don’t particularly like hanging out with people I work with on my time off, so they spent lots of happy hours together, too. But that was my fault for not being “fun”.

    1. Jesmlet*

      If they both frequent the same location, it would feel more awkward to me if they were intentionally avoiding each other. But if it was planned, that’s a different story.

    2. oldbiddy*

      My boss was BFFs with 3 of my coworkers and they used to brew beer together, do exercise classes, and socialize outside of work at least 2X per week. He even moved into a house down the street from his closest bestie. It led to all sorts of problems at work, even though everyone had good intentions.

  9. Crystal*

    OP #1, since Mary has been getting one on one time, why not do lunch or something else with the other 3 people? If it’s only 4 people and 3 of them don’t like HH seems like you should adjust what you’re doing, even if you’re an aficionado. I think it’s very cool you’re hosting & paying for everything BTW.

    1. TiffIf*

      Good idea. Find out if it is Happy Hour they don’t want to attend (for example–I don’t drink, so I don’t really enjoy Happy Hours, even with non-alcoholic options and would find it off putting if the only outside opportunity to have this time with manager were Happy Hour) or if it is they don’t want to take additional time outside of work (need to get home sooner for children etc). If specifically Happy Hour is the issue then change it up as Crystal above suggests.
      If it is more not able to spend time after work due to other obligations then have a lunch catered in during work hours to have the same opportunity.

    2. Tuesday Next*

      I don’t think this is a good idea. A team outing should be for the whole team. And there’s something iffy about going out drinking with just one of your direct reports even if it’s not the official team outing.

      1. Winifred*

        I find the whole idea of “team bonding” over drinks or lunch or any forced activity to be odd. Why can’t people bond over doing good work together, supported by a wonderful manager? (I am the person who dislikes most work-related socializing, though.)

  10. NOT Missy*

    I was the third Melissa to get hired on at my first professional job after college. They called me Missy to prevent confusion. I said okay because I was young and desperate for a job. I hate Missy; no one calls me that. I’m Miss or Melissa.

    I started hanging out with a few colleagues after work, and they introduced me to people outside of work as Missy despite my corrections. Vendors, contractors, all knew me as Missy. Once the last Melissa quit, I reclaimed my name. After a few years, most people made the change. But there are still a few in my professional network who call me Missy.

    Don’t change your colleague’s name. They may not be okay with it and are afraid to express that.

    1. Rich*

      THIS. All of this.

      I do not like being called Richard. I assume I’m in trouble or you are a telemarketer if you call me Richard, and either way I’m not interested in talking with you. And if someone corrects you on their name, listen and respect it. You’re not in an argument about grammar, you are learning an important fact about a person from the person best positioned to teach you that fact.

      People have preferred names, and names are powerful things. Don’t take someone’s power by changing their name for them.

      1. Gadfly*

        I’ve a two syllable name. I will accept it being shortened to one for a nickname. But if you can manage two, use my name and not the first syllable-ie. It drives me crazy.

        1. SusanIvanova*

          I’ve got a two *word* name. If you call me by the first half, I know you’re a telemarketer.

          1. MommaTRex*

            There’s a kid in my son’s class who has a beautiful two word name and I just love hearing all the kids call her that AND IT DOES NOT BOTHER THEM.

            And my son has a popular name and one of his besties also has the same first name. I am so glad that the school has not always kept them out of the same class (which they could do to avoid confusion). I think they kind of get a kick out of being the same name.

        2. Parenthetically*

          I have a two syllable name that is not easily shorten-able. I had a roommate with a one syllable name who insisted on shortening everyone else’s names to one syllable, even if the shortened version was RIDICULOUS. Infuriating.

      2. Mookie*

        Yes. I was once taught by someone who called herself Jennifer, and because she’d been crooned at with Donovan lyrics and her most-hated uncle had called her Jenny when she was a kid, she warned us not to play around. “Any variant, form, or nickname but Jenny, even a Hey You” was the order of the day, or she’d not just leave the room but leave campus. When people tell you their preferred name, pronoun, or anything else, listen up. It’s not a negotiation or a battle of wits. They’re right no matter what you think, want, or how convenient some alternative is for you.

      3. Oryx*

        Ha, yes, a high-school friend’s dad went by Dick. She always loved telling telemarketers “No, there is no Richard here.”

      4. Marillenbaum*

        The telemarketer thing! My nana’s name was Elva, and she always knew she was dealing with a sales call when they asked to speak to Elva–she went by Ellie, and anyone who actually knew her knew that. Usually, that’s when she would pretend to be the maid, and Mrs. B was actually out of the country right now, and would you mind calling back in October?

        1. tigerlily*

          My dad and my grandfather had the same first name (John), so my dad has always gone by his middle name. I always enjoyed when telemarketers would call and ask for John and my dad would tell them John’s dead.

    2. Temperance*

      Oof. My family nickname is Krissy, which I hate. If anyone called me that at work, heads would roll.

      1. KellyK*

        Yeah, I get twitchy when people call me “Kell,” especially if I hardly know them. I feel like that’s reserved for my parents and one friend who I’ve known forever, not random coworkers.

        1. Eli*

          Haha, I relate—my name is Elizabeth, and the only person allowed to call me Liz is my 2yo niece! Can’t stand it when people I’ve introduced myself to take it upon themselves to just give me a nickname.

    3. Rusty Shackelford*

      Yeah, I worked someplace where, when they hired a second Linda, they told her she needed to go by Lynn. It was bizarre.

    4. Overworked.*

      My first post grad school job, same thing. Only the long-standing employee was Missy, so I decided “hey, I’m grown up, I should go by Melissa.” Turned out I hated it, so when that job ended, back to Missy I went. Luckily it was a temp job so I didn’t end up with the hangers-on.

  11. Robm*

    Op#1: not everyone likes to drink, or could go into a bar, and may not be comfortable with discussing why. Holding “happy hour” events for staff automatically excludes people in that position. In your case it’s eliminated all but one person, but even if everyone turned up except for one person who ended up feeling excluded from an opportunity because they’re Muslim or have a medical condition that kept them from going for drinks, say, well you can see the slippery slope.

    OP#2: I think you’re overthinking the potential for names causing confusion, and I think it’s rather unwelcoming for a new employee to be told they cannot use their own name.

    OP#4: recruiters can sometimes be ‘tone deaf’ but it may be this one has a few other opportunities or knows remote working is ok (though some employers are pulling back from remote working so I’d be wary of betting the farm on that to make an otherwise unsuitable role viable) so it might be worth a chat… providing you set the agenda.

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      I wonder, if he knew remote work was a possibility, why would he say “let’s meet anyway” instead of “that’s not necessarily a problem, because remote work is a possibility.” Sounds like a bad recruiter, if that’s the case.

      1. RobM*

        Oh yes, but bad recruiters are a thing, sadly. Or, if they’re an external recruiter (I don’t think the post says) they might want to see what the OP would be interested in – they apparently said “I’m always interested in opportunities” and in some professions where people are in demand that can sound like code for “not this vacancy but lets talk about what else you can do for me”.

        1. AmandaL*

          He is a retained recruiter and has not shared the name or location of the company. We were supposed to chat last night, but he did not call. I will add that I am in the corporate retail industry – which rarely offers remote opportunities. I assume he is looking to grow his database and I hope that he has found a great candidate that is willing to relocate. .

  12. kas*

    #2. I’m not understanding why this is such a big deal. I’m sure it might be annoying as I work with people who have the same name and sometimes they’d get emails meant for the other one but for the most part, if someone mentioned Sarah, we knew which Sarah.

    I can see why she would agree to go by her last name in the interview but maybe she’s changed her mind. It also might be weird for her to use her last name to introduce herself at a new company if she’s not used to it. I have a friend who calls me by my last name but in a work setting I wouldn’t like it. I don’t even like when people address me using my last name in emails because of how Outlook puts “Lastname, Firstname” and people seem to miss that. Like no, my name is Arya, not Stark! I would use Alison’s script and then drop the issue.

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          Haha my pleasure. Apologies Alison if I’m derailing too much but in Outlook 2013 it’s in File > Options > People which has a section on Names and Filing. Not sure about later versions.

    1. You're Not My Supervisor*

      Yeah I’m over here if the LW has a name as uncommon as “Arya” and hasn’t had to “share” with coworkers before. My name is Sarah and if I expected to be the only Sarah everywhere I worked, I would have a hard time finding a job.

    2. NotAnotherManager!*

      This is kind of where I am. Unless there is some reeeeeaaallllly industry-specific thing that makes two people having the same first name a “nightmare”, I think asking someone in an interview to go by a different name for your convenience is weird and wonder if maybe Arya thought that either LW was joking or that she only had to use her last name with Boss Arya, not everyone. It is a weird request, and it’s an even weirder interview question.

      I have an unusual name, and it’s rare for there to be another person within my organization, even large ones, with the same name. Well, a few years ago, another NAM! showed up, and then a year later, she got moved to an office within spitting distance of mine. Other than getting her mail and packages on occasion and chuckling a little when I have to send her emails because addressing her feels like talking to myself, the sky has not fallen and our colleagues can differentiate us easily using initials, last names, or position titles.

      I think people should be called by their preferred name pretty much always. I don’t see insisting someone go by their last name or a nickname that they do not use/prefer themselves as pretty disrespectful. There have been many posts on this site related to people having bosses/coworkers who don’t call them by their preferred name, and it’s pretty universally panned. I think the right thing to do here is to ask Arya Stark what she prefers to be called and go with it.

  13. Gadfly*

    OP 3, please also keep in mind that whatever her reasons for avoiding doctors, they are real and justified to her.

    I avoided doctors for about 7 years after what I would now report as an assault, and that same doctor basically convinced me that I was going to die (from what eventually was revealed to be very manageable) and that there was nothing that could be done except wait for things to spiral out of control until it killed me. And I had people during those years trying to convince me I was being silly to have panic attacks at the thought of going in.

    A doctor is in a position of a lot of power, both in what they can do and because of social position. More than a few abuse it, intentionally or not. And for those who’ve experienced that sort of abuse (even if not by a doctor), putting yourself into a vulnerable position is scary.

    Respect that she isn’t just being silly, and that she likely won’t tell you her real reasons if they are connected to anything like feeling shamed or violated. And that leads to some pretty weak sounding substitute excuses.

    1. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

      I believe you 100% and do not blame you in the slightest for having panic attacks. That so-called doctor’s behaviour was disgusting and I’m sorry you were mistreated. Many people are treated abominably by the medical profession (women, minorities, people with disabilities). I’ve heard so many horror stories, and have some of my own.

      OP#3 – You are clearly a kind person who is genuinely concerned for your co-worker. When you next speak to her, how about including literature from patient-advocacy groups? Print out a couple of pages from a site and tell her this is what other patients are saying.

      Depending on how the conversation goes, you can add that she should take someone with her. The only time many patients are ever taken seriously is when someone is with them, advocating on their behalf. You can say something like, “I don’t blame you for being nervous around doctors at all. Take someone with you to the appointment who will have your back if you need it. That way, you don’t have to deal with this alone.”

      Good luck, I hope it all works out.

      1. K*

        That is a nice idea but I would personally not do that/be a bit weirded out if someone did that to me unless we were very good friends apart from work.

    2. Guacamole Bob*

      A friend’s mother suffered from poorly managed/untreated diabetes for years… and her husband and two of her adult children were doctors. It wasn’t clear to me from the outside exactly what the mental health issue was that prevented her from being willing to see doctors or treat it, but some form of (also undiagnosed, untreated) anxiety and/or agoraphobia was probably part of the problem.

      As her health deteriorated she started getting more treatment, but by then it was too late to really get the condition under control. It was really hard for the whole family, since they all felt like they should have been able to do something earlier. But she just flat out refused, and there’s only so much you can do in that situation.

      Point being, OP3, this issue may be way bigger than a coworker can handle. Speak up, but this coworker does not have the same feelings about medical treatment that you do, for whatever reason, and it will not be your fault if she doesn’t see a doctor.

    3. Professional Cat Lady*

      I agree with all of this.

      OP didn’t go into much detail about why they brought up the issue with their coworker in the first place, but I know I would flip and go into a panic/anxiety spiral if my coworkers brought up my diet and potential medical problems the way OP did.

      For me, being overweight causes a LOT of issues with doctors who just tell you to lose weight and everything will be solved. I once had a knee issue that randomly came up and when i did go to a doctor about it she told me to lose weight and the random swelling and pain in my knee would go away.

      I get that OP is concerned, but I don’t know if that particular conversation should have even taken place at all.

  14. Concerned RD*

    Registered Dietitian here. A ketogenic diet is extremely inappropriate for a diabetic. A diabetic requires controlled “doses” of carbohydrates throughout the day to keep blood glucose levels stable. A ketogenic diet restricts carbohydrates at the strictest level, and a successful attempt at this would certainly lead to dangerous hypoglycemia, diabetic ketogenic acidosis, and eventually even coma and/or death. I would strongly recommend incorporating the inappropriateness and danger of this diet into the script provided by Alison, in case she does decide to ignore your recommendation to see a doctor/dietitian and tries to go it alone. I really hope she doesn’t though, as her A1c and EAG indicate she is well on the path to serious health complications, including kidney failure, blindness, and neuropathy. This is all very worrisome.

    1. SystemsLady*

      I hate to correct an expert here, but some of your information on diabetes appears to be incorrect and I wanted to make you aware.

      Hypoglycemia is only a risk in diabetics taking insulin or medication, or, well, hypoglycemics – and therefore the diet is only a risk if strictly adhering diabetics refuse to make an exception and use carbohydrates to treat hypoglycemia when it comes. Diabetics do not require fixed doses of carbohydrates unless they are on fixed doses of insulin (or maybe some type 2 diabetes medications, I wouldn’t know), which is pretty uncommon these days.

      Diabetic ketoacidosis is not a result of a ketogenic diet alone nor is it a result of low blood sugar. That is a different kind of coma than the one caused by low blood sugar. It comes from not taking enough insulin, which causes a broken feedback loop that drives both ketones and blood sugar uncontrollably high. Ketones caused by a ketogenic diet are negligible compared to those in DKA. If a ketogenic diet is used by a patient as a replacement for insulin or medication this is a concern, but then it is the stopping the medication that’s the problem.

      It certainly isn’t a good treatment for undiagnosed diabetes you don’t know the nature of though, that’s for sure!

    2. OldJules*

      I find that interesting as my Endocrinologist was very supportive of my keto/low carb lifestyle. Many on the groups I am in have been able to completely go off medication with the weight loss under keto. Having said that, keto/low carb should be done under medical supervision. It’s a terrible idea to start any diet/fitness routine when you have an uncontrolled medical condition.

      1. Some Sort of Management Consultant*

        Please remember to differentiate between type 1 and type 2!
        No type 1 diabetic will be able to go off their insulin just because they’re on keto!

  15. Tuesday Next*

    For OP3, I like Alison’s script but consider also giving her some reading material that explains it in a simple way. Her knee jerk reaction to you may be “no!” but a tangible reminder of what you’ve said may prompt her to think it through more carefully and perhaps discuss it with a friend or family member.

    1. Tuesday Next*

      I forgot to include that you could (not should) also check whether your office first aid kit / health and safety officer (or your equivalent) are equipped to deal with someone going into a diabetic coma.

        1. Tuesday Next*

          Phoning for an ambulance is definitely the first thing but there are some additional things to do (according to an Australian government health site):

          Don’t try to give them anything to eat or drink, as they may choke.
          Turn them onto their side to prevent obstruction to breathing.
          Follow any instructions given to you by the operator until the ambulance officers arrive.
          Don’t try to give them an insulin injection.
          If available, administer 1 mg of glucagon for rapid reversal of hypoglycaemia.

          1. Isobel*

            I’m surprised by workplace first aid kits carrying glucagon, and first aiders being trained and confident to administer it. I guess that’s to do with areas of rural Australia being remote from emergency medical care maybe?

  16. Mark Roth*

    I once worked at a place where we had two guys in the same department doing the same job with same first and last names. We managed.

    I know how two sets of brothers and two married couples working in the same building. We manage.

    1. Jen S. 2.0*

      Seriously. OP2 is overthinking this massively. The Johns, Michaels, Davids, Elizabeths, Sarahs, and Marys of the world have been making this work literally for centuries. People will know — or figure out — to specify which Arya they need.

      I am seldom the only Jennifer anywhere I go. There were four Maggies in my high school class, and six Amandas in the year ahead of me. We even have a few folks in my office with the same first and last name. We make it work.

      I suspect OP2 has a name that isn’t that common, and is flustered at the new idea of not being the only one. Those of us with common names are shrugging, because many of us have rolled with a last initial for our whole lives.

      (also note: I have always been a little bemused at the desperation of expectant parents about finding a unique name, and then their subsequent frustration that they weren’t nearly as creative as they thought, and there are three Reighnb’eaus in that kindergarten class after all (and they’ve saddled their poor kid with the name Reighnb’eau). Choose what you like, common or not. Using my last initial on occasion did not scar me for life.)

      1. just another day*

        I think a big part of OP2’s issue is that it is a small team – duplicate names in a large team or office is totally different than a less common name on a small team / office.

        1. Stardust*

          How so?
          I was once on a team of thirteen where two people shared my name and a third whose name started with mine (think, three Annas and one Annabelle). It worked just fine. I’d say that if anything, there is less confusion on a smaller team because it’s much more immediately apparent who material is meant for or who others are talking about.

          1. just another day*

            Within the team this totally makes sense, but in dealing with the public / customers / vendors, it can be very confusing it is an unusual name because people assume that there would only be one person with the name.

        2. Evandarya*

          I work with a small team (fewer than 10 of us), and we have had two Amanda, two Jessicas, and a Jesselyn all at once. We manage.

        3. Anonygoose*

          But regardless, people manage – I used to live in a house with 5 other people – 2 of us had the same name, and 1 had a very similar name – something like Ashleigh, Ashley, and Ashie. We just went by Ash, Ashley, and Ashie – we dealt with it with literally no confusion ever. And no last names or last initial even came into play. People with common names are so very, very, used to this that it’s bizarre that the OP is taking it this seriously.

        4. Observer*


          In my elementary school grade, there were 50 students- ~25 had the same first name, and there were a number of pairs of same first + last. If you looked at the school as a whole? Out of approximately 300 children, there must have been several dozen pairs.

          1. Observer*

            And, one of my IL’s has 3 siblings. Of the 4 three of them have spouses with a variant of the same name. Think Kate Last, Kathy Last and Kathrin Last.

          2. just another day*

            A fair point, but with students you don’t have the responsibilities / authorities / hierarchies issues.

            1. Observer*

              Yes, you do!

              Discipline, transcripts, access to all sorts of things in school can make a HUGE difference to a kid. If a child needs special services or has health issues, that’s another huge set of potential issues.

              I was just reading an article about a kid whose parents had her evaluated by the Board of Ed for some educational issues. The evaluator wound up evaluating the wrong kid! (Same last name, different first name.) Fortunately, the father of the kid figured out what had happened, but if not a child would have suffered some fairly sever consequences.

        5. zora*

          We had 3 Lauras on a team of 6. It was funny and we all laughed about how crazy it was sometimes, but we all dealt with the actually getting work done aspects of it just fine.

      2. Detective Amy Santiago*

        When I was in high school marching band, we had 3 Heathers who played the flute.

        (And I’m also a Jennifer, so yeah, I am right here with you)

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          When my daughter was in high school marching band, there were always a few with her name, so there were Clarinet Kelly, Bass Clarinet Kelly, Flute Kelly (and at one point Guy Clarinet Kelly and Girl Clarinet Kelly). More confusing was that there were two flags in the same grade named Ann/Anne Johnson, who became Flag Ann and Flag Ann With an E.

          And yet they still made it work. You can make this work too, LW.

  17. bridget*

    I think that the Arya OP may have misunderstood the offer. A lot of people call me by my last name or initials as a shorthand; if there were another Bridget in the office who was there before me, I would be totally cool with that happening on a more frequent basis to avoid confusion in ambiguous situations. I might even mention being ok with that in an interview.

    I would not have meant that I would INTRODUCE myself like that. You can call me Lannister or BL to avoid confusion, but when I first meet another human being, I’m still going to tell them my actual name. It would be weird not to. It’s not going back on the “agreement” to inform someone of your actual legal name when you first meet them, even if they end up calling you something else most of the time for whatever reason.

    1. JJJJShabado*

      I agree with this. I’m in an office of ~40, department of ~8 and there are 3 of us Joey Joe Joes. The base introduction is always there are 3 Joey Joe Joes and it is mentioned that one of us goes by a derivation of last name (e.g. Joey Joe Joe Williams goes by Will, which I refused to do because I’ve known him for 10+ years). He’s ok with it (IIRC, he suggested it). We manage relatively easily with this and using first name last initial or context.

    2. Linden*

      This is a good point. I hadn’t thought of it like this, but based on OP2’s comments that Stark was very enthusiastic, I have the feeling this is what is going on.

    3. Someone*


      I also have a common name, and MIGHT have agreed to going by my last name (although not happily so).

      And I would have meant that I don’t mind being LastName for clarification. I would NOT (never, EVER!!!) introduce myself as “LastName”. I would absolutely hate to be called LastName when I’m the only person in the room. It would feel cold and impersonal and I’d feel weirdly singled out.

  18. Student*

    OP #3 – going to give you a different perspective here. Your attempt to tell the co-worker that she’s got a potentially life-threatening problem is well-intentioned, but misplaced. By all means, try to tell her to see a doctor with AAM’s script, because you have little to lose.

    However, you also need to start coming to terms with the idea that sometimes, people make choices for themselves that you wouldn’t make, even choices that will very likely kill them from something very preventable. This is almost certainly one of those cases, from your description. I hope for better, I really do – but you should mentally prepare yourself for the worst outcome here.

    It’s not your fault. It’s not your responsibility. You don’t have any control here, and your available data is deeply suspect at best. Your co-worker’s choices are that of an adult, and ultimately you have to respect her choice for herself.

    This reminds me a lot of people who lecture random smokers about how they’re going to kill themselves. On rare occasion, perhaps it convinces people – but most people have a reasonable basic idea of the risks of smoking at this point. They smoke anyways, and lectures only make them angry and defensive. Similarly, your co-worker has access t0 information on diabetes. She knew enough to test and self-diagnose herself with diabetes! She’s going to stick with her own way of dealing with her health, probably very ineffectively, until she has a very, very strong incentive to change – much stronger than you giving her unsolicited advice.

    She may die. It won’t be your fault. It’s sad, but it’s part of the price of living and working with other people who are free to make their own choices and run their own lives. There are lots of good things that come out of this freedom of choice, but today you’re seeing the price that must be paid for it. This time the “correct” choice seems obvious to you, but that’s a dangerous path to walk too far down. It gets muddy very fast, in ways you don’t always understand and can’t always see.

    1. Chaperon Rouge*

      Unless they smoke indoors, smokers are not *usually* a danger for others, however unpleasant second-hand smoke may be. The OP’s co-worker, in contrast, could have a coma while driving, assuming she uses a car.

      1. blackcat*

        I think the analogy works. There are a fair number of asthmatics, like myself, who can have life threatening responses to second hand smoke. For me, it’s due to a tobacco allergy on top of the asthma (if I handle tobacco, my skin explodes in hives).

        There are many conditions that are both a danger to the person and a danger to the public. And, generally, there’s nothing to be done to help such a person. They are likely aware of dangers to themselves and others, but are choosing to ignore them.

      2. nutella fitzgerald*

        Sure, but it wouldn’t be OP’s fault for not convincing the coworker to do something that would have prevented it…

      3. Student*

        Fine, you want to pick on minor details, so let’s up the ante and go straight to painful anecdote. Both my parents are alcoholics. Uncontrolled, untreated. I know that any day, they may kill themselves or others in a car accident, or in some other dumb, drunk way.

        You know what? Still not my problem. Still not something I can control or stop. I tried, for years, to get them into treatment, or merely convince them they have a problem. I’m related to them, so I have way better standing to address it than the OP has here. I was personally hurt by their drinking, many times, and not in the my-feelings-are-hurt kind of way. They chose the booze over me. They are free to do that, and there’s nothing at all I can do about it. I tried it all. It kills me a little bit every time I think about it. I’ll personally feel guilty if they take out some innocent bystanders on their way to their demise, even though I’ve had years to come to terms with it, but that won’t change one bit that I cannot stop it. You *can* call the cops on drunk drivers, but in practice this isn’t actually very effective.

        You can’t call the cops on somebody for driving with bad blood sugar levels. You can’t get them hospitalized against their wishes. You can’t control this, and the co-worker has little reason to change based on what the OP says. Part of the pain of accepting that other people are free to do bad things means accepting that they may hurt themselves. Part of it is also accepting that they may hurt others, or even you, and there is nothing you can do about it preemptively except to walk away. Dark side of freedom of choice is that it means opening yourself up to other people hurting you in all sorts of ways.

        1. CM*

          It’s not your fault, it’s not your responsibility — that’s true.
          But it’s also useful for people to say to each other, “I am concerned for you. You have resources if you want to make a different choice.” Sometimes hearing this from all the important people in your life can make a difference. I’m not talking about your situation, where you obviously tried this many times over and in many different ways, and were deeply hurt as a result. In the OP’s case, saying it one time, without judgment or trying to force her friend to do anything, is well worth it. What her friend does with that, if anything, is beyond the OP’s responsibility or control.

        2. Gazebo Slayer*

          Actually, you CAN report a medically impaired driver to your state department of motor vehicles, at least in some places. Google “report impaired driver [your state].”

          People have a right to endanger themselves, but they don’t have a right to endanger anyone else.

          1. Student*

            That’s nice, but now go find any one specific person who actually got a driver’s license suspended or revoked that way without an actual specific collision to point to. It doesn’t happen. You don’t get hazardous drivers off the road in the US until after they’ve become a known, specific, verified problem. There are lots of drunk or impaired drivers out there, and nothing you can do about it until after they hurt somebody else.

            Heck, even after an identified problem person has verified accidents, there’s no guarantee they will be taken off the road! My uncle, also a drunk driver, had at least 3 police-reported drunk accidents that I know of within a year, and still had his license.

            Note for example that there is no upper age limit to getting a driver’s license, and driver’s license tests are in many-year gaps. I haven’t had to get a driver’s test of any sort for 16 years, personally, and have no clue when (if ever?) I might next undergo one. There’s no obligation to get re-licensed to drive after a major medical problem. There’s no obligation to get regular vision checks if you have glasses or contacts. There are only mixed and limited bans on cell-phone use while driving – every state will still let you drive while on a cell phone that’s set to speakerphone. A couple states still allow texting while driving. Truckers can legally drive for up to 14 consecutive hours in a row!

            You are absolutely not protected from other people, especially in cars. They put you in varying degrees of danger every day. There is a reason that motor vehicle deaths are still a huge part of our national accidental death rate, accounting for some 35k deaths per year.

      4. Anna*

        But, this doesn’t actually happen that often and literally is no different than if she had a stroke because of untreated high blood pressure. Nobody is wringing their hands over that. This is looking for a reason to be *more* concerned than anyone actually needs to be.

    2. Professional Cat Lady*

      Thank you for actually saying this. I don’t know why OP chose to approach her coworker about a health/diet issue, but I’d have found that hugely invasive, and probably would have ended up upset enough to consider leaving work for the day if anyone said that to me.

      The fact that the coworker did go and test her blood sugar levels doesn’t mean it was okay for OP to approach her in the first place. I generally find that people are more willing to comment on someone’s health out of concern if it’s tied to a weight issue, which is a huge problem on it’s own.

      I hope that OP’s coworker does see a doctor, one that makes her comfortable and who is willing to look at her whole health to recommend a course of treatment. And I hope that OP understands that she probably shouldn’t have commented in the first place.

  19. cncx*

    re OP1, i used to be one of those people who did not drink for religious reasons, so just the act of going out to a place where people would be drinking already made me feel like an oddball. if you know that there are people on your team who don’t go to happy hour because of booze or because of commute, and you still want to team build, then try to do something like grab lunch or go get coffee during normal working hours with everyone.

  20. Traffic_Spiral*

    LW2, the reason why you “feel pretty embarrassed at how this makes [you] look to the other folks who report to [you], as if [you] forced her to go by another name” is because that’s exactly what you’d be doing. Having your potential boss say “so would you be ok going by your last name” in an interview carries a very strong implication of “this is what you have to do if you want this job.”

    If you don’t like both of you being referred to by the same name, you’re the one that should change what you go by. Personally, I’d take advantage of this and start going by “Boss Traffic Spiral” – but that’s just me.

  21. Ruth (UK)*

    2. I have the same name as my boss and also cover her phone sometimes. When I answer my phone phone I always add ‘Ruth speaking’ but when I answer her phone I say ‘Ruth’s phone’. If I answered hers and someone says ‘is that Ruth?’ I usually say something like ‘yes but probably not the one you want – I’m Ruth (surname) but I can take a message for Ruth (her surname)’

    It doesn’t actually cause as much confusion as you might think. Recently, we had interviews to hire a new person and I greeted interviewees when they arrived and introduced myself like ‘Hi I’m Ruth – but not the one who’s interviewing you. We have the same name’ etc. I find as long as I say it early on whenever someone might otherwise be confused, it then doesn’t cause problems.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      My phone number is easy to confuse with that of someone working at the Senior Center, who is named Falling Rock. So about once a month I’ll get a few layers into a conversation before we establish that
      1) My name is Falling
      2) I know nothing about the programs at the Senior Center

    2. Clinical Social Worker*

      You have multiple Ruths at your workplace? So interesting! I’m the only Ruth almost every where I go, it’s not a common name here in the states.

    3. Marillenbaum*

      It’s like on Mad Men, when they finally hired a Black secretary–her name was Dawn, and she worked for Don. Clients would always remark “Isn’t that confusing?” and no one at the firm thought so (although they did routinely mix up the names of the Black secretaries, Dawn and Shirley).

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        It was especially not confusing if you talked like a Noo Yawker, because those two vowel sounds are pretty different! (I swear I had this very conversation the other day, though it was about how “Len” and “Lynn” are the same in some parts of Texas.)

      2. Andraste's Knicker Weasels (formerly ancolie)*

        It’s so weird to me, because I know there are accents where Don and Dawn are homonyms, but they sound completely different to me.

  22. Zuppa da clams*

    OP1-You regularly host happy hour for your staff and pay for everything, historically people who don’t drink decline the invite, and then Mary is the only one who accepts in the invite? That isn’t hosting happy hour for the whole office-I would have stopped trying this after the second attempt maybe because obviously nobody wants to go. Why are you trying to host a staff activity that your staff doesn’t want to attend?

    1. Morning Glory*

      I got the impression that more people used to attend, and the drop-off in attendance was recent.

      1. just another day*

        Me too. This is a leap, but has OP1 considered that attendance has declined BECAUSE of OP and Mary’s relationship?

        1. just another day*

          ^ meaning, is that a possibility? I didn’t mean to imply that it was a foregone conclusion.

        2. Danger: Gumption Ahead*

          That was my thought. They could be talking about people and events that the rest of the staff don’t know, so they stopped coming

        3. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

          I had the same thought. Although, I wouldn’t want to go anyway. The last thing I want to do after work is go out with my coworkers. Lunch during work hours is occasionally a nice break though. But not too often or that gets old fast too.

        4. a1*

          This is a good possibility I hadn’t thought of, because I do agree it sounds like others used to attend and now no longer do.

  23. Kerr*

    Op #1 – I don’t drink and I’m possessive about my after-work time, so I might be like your staff members. At some point, I’d start being annoyed that the only “fun” events involved alcohol, and that one close staff member was getting more face time. I’m sure you intend to be very welcoming, but the events aren’t inclusive. Kudos for noticing this, though – not everyone does!

    Our workplace has happy hours and they always involve bars with decent food, but I typically bow out because a) I’m too tired, and possessive about my after-work time, and b) there’s a 50-50 chance it will be uncomfortable to sit around 100% sober with people who start feeling chattier and warmer and more informal after a couple of rounds and start crossing conversational boundaries. Informal is one thing, but I don’t want to be TOO informal around my boss, and vice versa.

    If you want to be more inclusive, try something mid-workday. Go out for fancy coffee every other week to get out of the office, have a standing monthly lunch invite, find a local ice cream shop?

    1. Julia*

      I agree. Being sober around non-sober people can be annoying – although I can get “high on sugar” pretty well if the atmosphere is right.

      That said, I have learned a secret or two from drunk co-workers and bosses.

      1. Gadfly*

        Ugh–that could be the worst part. I don’t want to be the sober one remembering drunken or even tipsy confessions. Too close of bonding, TMI, and potentially the sort of thing that could ruin working relationships. (I believe alcohol only reveals what is normally hidden, it doesn’t change a person. Knowing what people hide means I’ll see it when they are sober.)

        1. Julia*

          I was more thinking of office secrets. It’s petty, but I once heard from a drunk boss that my abusive former boss had had her comeuppance, so that was a good thing for me to hear that I wouldn’t have been told otherwise.

          I’m not sure it’s worth the other stuff you mention, though.

    2. Pomona Sprout*

      As a nondrinker, I think the point about how it can be uncomfortable to be the only sober person (or one of very few) in a crowd of drinkers is a very good one. To ne honest, I think drinkers are often quite unaware of this and may greatly overestimate how much “fun” it is for a nondrnker to hang out with them while they’re “tying one on.” Telling them that can be awkward at best and offensive at worst, (especially when one of them is the boss!), so it doesn’t surprise that OP1’s coworkers have opted to simply not participate.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        “You’re only funny to other drunk people” isn’t something most people want to say to their boss.

  24. Daria Grace*

    #3, please do encourage her to get help. If she is a diabetic with results even close to that high, she needs urgent help. Those are indeed very serious results. I know from experience it’s possible to have quite high sugars and not feel anything worse than being a bit tired so denial is easy. If there was something wrong with that test and she is not in fact diabetic she needs professional confirmation of that so she is not launching into unhealthy self-treatment plans.

    Is there someone else in the office who is open about having diabetes and has reasonably good habits you might be able to suggest she speak to? Having someone else in the office who was sympathetic and knowledgeable really helped me when I was first diagnosed.

    If you suspect she is suffering from overwhelm and would be receptive to being given some literature on diabetes, there’s a wonderful book called Bright Spots & Landmines by Adam Brown. It’s a gentle, non-scary introduction to good diabetes care habits. You can download it for free from the authors website or get very cheap kindle and print editions at amazon

  25. anon for this*

    With #1, I would struggle with the “unnecessary calories” framing as well as with the exclusivity issue of the whole thing. I have a significant history of disordered eating, and this skirts way too close to my own boundaries around using language that ascribes a moral value to food/drink in the workplace – it feels gross in the same way that “naughty” language about food does. It’s not my manager’s role to pass judgement about which calories are necessary and which are unnecessary and I would not want to interact socially with a manager who frames going out for a drink in this way.

    1. Also anon for this, because of Reasons*

      I get where you’re coming from, but I’m not sure that the manager in #1 is being judgemental about food in a way that’s personal. Managers can and do behave in really intrusive ways about people’s dietary choices, but this doesn’t sound like an example of that kind of nonsense in and of itself.

      I can’t imagine it’s easy for you to deal with this sort of boundary at work or in general. People say things about food without meaning things about the people who eat that food.

      1. Observer*

        You’re correct, but it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that this is the kind of thing that can create problems for people, while not really serving a useful purpose.

        And, it’s not jut people with disordered eating that are likely to have an issue with this. I have a weight problem. I think that my doctor would advise me to avoid events with a title like this, because a setup like this is a recipe for ingesting a lot of calories that are just not going to get burned up, on top of my normal calories.

    2. Susan K*

      Good point! If anyone on the team is overweight, sensitive about their weight, strict with their diet, or has a current or history of eating disorder, it could make them really uncomfortable to say they’re participating in “unnecessary calorie hour.” Why not just call it a “team get-together” or “team outing” or something neutral like that?

  26. Laura*

    I have a friend with a double-barrelled surname because her great-grandfather worked in a bank in the UK and his boss had the same name – think Dougal Macintyre. The boss made the great-grandfather permanently adopt his wife’s name as well. So now her surname is ‘Smith Macintyre’. Drives her crazy as it’s so complicated, and people also think she’s posher than she is, which annoys her.

  27. JVC*

    #2 Regarding the same first name scenario, (my opinion) if the employee agreed to go by a different name in the interview, then she should be held to it. The time to dispute it has come and gone and as an adult, if she really was against being called something other than her first name, she should have addressed it directly with her boss.

    I was once employed by a business owner with the same first name as me. Let’s says it was “Prudence”. It was I who requested to go by my middle name, because it was creating chaos having the same first name as her. Work colleagues, vendors and clients alike were all becoming frustrated at constantly getting us mixed up and wasting time sending the wrong Prudence emails, voice mails and explaining a situation for 5 minutes just to realize they had the wrong “Prudence”. etc. I was having people reach out to me for assistance with things I could not help them with and my boss was having people contact her regarding work she knew nothing about because I was being paid to do it. Everyone was frustrated and using separate names seemed the logical course of action (yes we tried Prudence S. and Prudence C. and it didn’t work, no one remembered the last initias).

    1. Myrin*

      Honestly, I’m of the mind that if I “constantly” get two people mixed up to the point that it’s creating “chaos”, it’s on me to come up with a better system to keep track of that.

      Also, maybe it’s just because I’m from a last name-heavy culture where clients, vendors and even many colleagues would only know each other’s last name anyway, but if last initials don’t stick, why not try to remember the person’s full name? If you just view it as one single name – so you don’t even think of someone as just “Prudence” but always as “Prudence Squarebottom” – it’s really not that hard.

      But that aside, your situation really sounds like people just weren’t trying and shrugging their shoulders helplessly instead of posting a sticky note somewhere that tells them that “Prudence SQUAREBOTTOM is the Teapot Handler”.

      1. JVC*

        Oh I agree. I really felt like many of my workmates were not even making an effort to distinguish the two of us and I certainly have made it my business in similar circumstances to distinguish between two employees with the same name. But most of the frustration was coming from clients and vendors, so it was “on us” to make it easier for them. In the long run, it saved everyone a lot of grief.

    2. Temperance*

      I have a coworker with my same first name and a coworker with the same last name. People confuse the two of us with the same last name, and never same first name.

    3. Grey*

      I’m thinking the same thing. You don’t get to change your mind about something you agreed to in a job interview. It doesn’t matter how trivial it might seem. Maybe the OP wouldn’t have otherwise hired her?

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        If the OP otherwise wouldn’t have hired her, that would be terrible hiring; that’s not something you pass up the top candidate over.

        She does get to change her mind about this. It’s her name. She gets to be called by the name she wants.

        1. Grey*

          I agree up to a point. If you’re going to change your mind about something you agreed to in a job interview, at least have a discussion with your boss about it so there’s no surprises.

          Why not say, “I know we discussed this, but I’d feel more comfortable using my first name. How could we make this work”?

          1. Observer*

            I strongly suspect that what the OP thinks they agreed to, and what her employee thinks they agreed to are two different things.

          2. Ask a Manager* Post author

            And if the employee wrote in, that’s exactly what I’d advise her to do. But lots of people fumble stuff like this, so as the manager the best thing the OP can do is to manage her side of it differently rather than getting stuck on “but she agreed in the interview.”

      2. Anna*

        Yeah, you actually do get to change your mind because it’s not a contract and really has nothing to do with her job.

    4. McWhadden*

      She may have thought it was fine but then realized how freaking weird it is to suddenly introduce yourself to people and not tell them your actual name.

      It was a completely inappropriate request the LW made when in a position of total power over this person.

      1. Grey*

        Job interviews go both ways. There’s no “position of total power”. If you don’t like the terms, you don’t have to agree to them.

        1. Anonygoose*

          But if you need a job, you might need to agree to the terms set out by the employer in order to make rent. And this doesn’t seem like an unreasonable thing to agree to, but if she’s not used to answering to her last name, it could feel weird to her being referred to as that on a daily basis. I know I wouldn’t be likely to respond automatically to my middle or last name.

        2. Gazebo Slayer*

          A job interview almost always involves a significant power differential because the person interviewing needs a job far more than the company needs the job filled. The only situation where it wouldn’t is if the interviewee has very in-demand skills and is getting lots of job offers.

          If you *are* such a person, well, that’s nice for you, but most people are not anywhere near that.

        3. Anna*

          That’s a very privileged attitude and is not at all in line with how many people are experiencing interviews.

    5. Matilda Jefferies*

      What? No. It’s a job interview, not a blood contract. Unless having a unique name was a specific condition of the job, there’s no reason she couldn’t have agreed to something in the moment (especially given the power differential that others have mentioned) and then changed her mind later.

      She may have thought she’d be okay going by Stark, and then realized afterwards that she wasn’t – that’s totally reasonable, and she’s allowed to feel that way about her own name.

  28. Callalily*

    #2 – Her NAME is Arya not Stark!

    We have this right now – 2 workers with the same first name and even same last initial. People do call them by their last name (both of them, not just one) but everyone knows their first name! It even happens to me a lot – we use last initials in reference but we are both called Jane.

    It sounds so controlling that she has to pretend her first name doesn’t exist… you basically told her to be referred to professionally by her last name, not erase her first name from existence.

    Nothing stops you from telling the staff to avoid confusion that the other Arya will be referenced as Stark. Not a big deal – but you don’t get to be upset that people know her first name is the same as yours.

    People NEED to know it – can you imagine someone calling her for an emergency and reception puts everything through to you because you are the ‘only Arya’? Or if there was another reason for staff to need her first name and they are deluded into thinking her full name is Stark, like Madonna or something?

    1. OP2*

      OP2 here.

      This is actually the crux of the issue. Stark’s primary job is to respond to potentially life threatening emergencies, which they are notified about through various means, including voicemail, email, skype, and phone calls. Whereas I am rarely at my desk, able to receive these messages.

      Getting us mixed up can cause real physical harm.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Can you set up an auto-reply/voicemail message/etc. that says “If you’re reporting a llama attack (or whatever), please hang up and immediately contact Arya Stark at extension 203”?

          1. Danger: Gumption Ahead*

            That is the best option because, honestly, unless all directories, phone lists, etc have only her last name listed without her first name at all, people will still mix you us, no matter what name she goes by face-to-face

      2. Matilda Jefferies*

        Oh, that’s helpful context – thanks for weighing in. I would still suggest that it would be better if you worked something out together, rather than unilaterally deciding that she will be the one to change her name. I’m assuming she understands the reasoning behind it, but is there another solution that would work instead?

          1. Matilda Jefferies*

            lol! I don’t think you’re a jerk. It’s so easy to get stuck in the “we’ve always solved the problem this way, so therefore this is the only way to solve it” fallacy, and sometimes everyone needs an outside perspective. Good luck sorting it out!

      3. Myrin*

        Aha! That seems like an important detail and changes the issue (at least to me).

        In that case, it seems beneficial to me to with her help get people to think of her as “Arya Stark” (my sister was in school with someone like that – people always joked that his name wasn’t just “Percival” but “Percival Bumblesnatch” in a “he doesn’t actually have a surname” kind of way). That way, she can keep introducing herself as “Arya” and just tack on her surname and at the same time doesn’t get confused with you. Like you say in another comment, you could start going by your full name as well to further drive the distinction home.

        But I also think Alison’s suggestion below is really good and sounds like a very practical tool regardless of the name issue.

        1. Anna*

          It wouldn’t change it because there will still be and always be people who call the wrong person, and probably would call them even if they didn’t share the same name.

      4. Observer*

        If that’s the problem then you have chosen the WORST way to deal with it.

        Her first AND last name need to show up wherever people get her name and wherever any of your other staff who might pass on messages get to see it. AND *all* of your messaging should be set up to auto-respond with verbiage similar to what Alison suggests.

  29. LTR*

    OP3: Encourage her to get help but then back WAY off. I get that she may have a serious problem on her hands but I think that’s possibly distracting from the pretty serious line-crossing going on here. You’re questioning your coworker about very personal medical info and how she plans to treat it, and then going and asking your friends about it. That friend may be a doctor but it still rubs me the wrong way that you would do that rather than step back and let her deal with her situation as she sees fit. The fact that you may have been right this time doesn’t justify a habit of inserting yourself in your coworkers’ personal or health-related problems.

    Another thing to consider: it wouldn’t surprise me at all if you don’t actually have the info you think you do. For one thing, if my coworker started getting invasive about my health, offering unwanted advice or asking questions I felt weird about, I’d likely give some pretty dismissive answers just to get them to stop asking and drop it (“it’s all under control”, “no I don’t need a doctor right now”, “no I’m not interested in trying out xyz but thanks anyway”, etc). At the very least, she probably doesn’t think you’re putting nearly this much thought and energy into the conversation as you currently are, and so likely isn’t putting that much thought and energy into her answers. She may have easily given an incorrect answer or simply mispoken when asked about her levels. Considering she doesn’t seem to have a lot of background knowledge about the condition, it’s easy to imagine she could say a crazy high number without catching herself on it or bothering to come back and correct it later.

    You were able to find out the number was severe by looking online. If she is determined enough to get a self-ordered test I think you can safely assume she also took the time to look up the numbers and interpret them, and she had the full test results in front of her to reference when she did so. Also keep in mind that if she’s in danger her family and close friends are looking out for her as well and are more equipped to do so.

    It’s fine to feel concerned but to collect this much information, research it, ask a friend/doctor about it, and then write it all out in such detail to an advice columnist just strikes me as very invasive and disrespectful towards your coworker. In the future just express your sympathy and back away – they either know how to manage their own lives/health better than you do or they have more appropriate people around them to intervene. If you know you can’t stop yourself from offering medical advice, remove the temptation and stop asking questions about it or discussing it in the office.

    1. SystemsLady*

      Normally I’d agree but telling somebody about an A1C that high is like telling somebody you’re coughing blood and having trouble breathing to somebody who’s heard of A1C before! I think for this particular case one gentle, helpful nudge is justified. I’d certainly be worried sick about my coworker!

    2. Rusty Shackelford*

      If she is determined enough to get a self-ordered test I think you can safely assume she also took the time to look up the numbers and interpret them, and she had the full test results in front of her to reference when she did so.

      Except that, according to someone upthread, the diet she’s chosen to treat her condition is actually going to put her in more danger. So I think there’s a chance she hasn’t done as much research as she needs to.

      (Which still doesn’t mean there’s anything the LW can do about it.)

      1. KC without the sunshine band*

        “the diet she’s chosen to treat her condition is actually going to put her in more danger. ”

        This may or may not be true. I was pre-diabetic and went on an almost-ketogenic diet with the blessing of my doctor (an excellent doctor I had a long relationship with) after researching it myself through things like wheatbellyblog.com and undoctored.com. It was very successful without measuring carbs.

        The bottom line is you may not have enough information to be giving her medical advice, and some doctors screw it up worse than doing it by yourself, like saying you have to eat grains.

        It’s up to each one of us to educate ourselves, seek help when needed, and take responsibility for our own health. It sounds like she’s trying to do that.

    3. Thlayli*

      I read it very differently to you. It seems to me that OP had one single conversation which the coworker initiated, during which the coworker volunteered a lot of private medical information and OP only asked three follow up questions, each of which coworker answered by giving more information than was asked. OP appears to have already had a lot of information about diabetes and knew what the levels meant so the only “research” involved was OP going to a website she most likely already knew about to to check out the actual numbers – which would have taken less than a minute. OP then mentioned it once to a friend of hers. It’s not really a hugely invasive amount of invasive detailed research.

      I recognise that some people think work and personal life should be completely separate to the extent that you never talk about private medical information, however I think it’s quite clear that coworker does not appear to share this view, given that coworker initiated the conversation and volunteered huge amounts of medical detail in response to a couple of questions.

      1. LTR*

        OP says her coworker announced she wouldn’t be putting out candy anymore due to the diabetes; that was the extent of her initial revelation. Everything after that is OP asking questions that the coworker answers or offering advice that the coworker rejects. All of the info the coworker gives seems inspired by OP digging deeper rather than her simply offering sympathy and letting her know she’s available to talk if Coworker wants to pick her brain since she has personal knowledge about the condition. The OP was clearly asking for details rather than those details being offered totally unprompted and was taking a problem-solving approach to the answers that the coworker didn’t seem to appreciate (considering she shot it all down). I’m sure she means well but she needs to back off once giving Allison’s script and IF this is something she feels entitled to do outside of this one instance (which it may not be, I don’t know her) then she needs to get that in check. She’s asking how to handle this with “kid gloves” but Coworker is not a kid and her resistance to treatment isn’t the OP’s problem to fix against this woman’s will.

        I really do get that she’s right to be concerned in this instance but how many times do we see letters from people who can’t get their coworkers to stop commenting on their health/diet/personal choices? And how many times do those letters express reluctance to answer that the coworker in question doesn’t seem to notice or possibly doesn’t care/attributes to something else? I’m just imagining the letter from the coworker’s point of view. This coworker may be okay with OP’s curiosity but clearly isn’t receptive to her advice and that’s something OP should respect. And if it does happen to be a habit of hers to ask questions like these, she should at least stick to people in her personal circle because even if Coworker is okay with it many people would absolutely be uncomfortable experiencing this at work. Many are offering feedback on the condition itself but I just think the underlying issue of OP’s questioning is worth addressing.

        1. Turtle Candle*

          Yeah, reading back over, it is a little… strange. It strikes me as being as if someone said, “I’ll pass on the pizza–I need to watch my cholesterol” and then got asked about their HDL and LDL numbers, or if someone said “can you make the font bigger? It’s not legible at this distance” and was asked when they’d last seen an optometrist. Making the leap from a passing mention of diabetes to asking about an A1C (even if she didn’t expect to get a number) seems a little off.

    4. Observer*

      There is no indication that the OP has a “habit” of inserting herself into people’s health issue. And while the rule of “stay out of people’s health” is a good rule of thumb, it’s NOT cast in stone. There are some exceptions – and the OP deserves credit for doing some checking before just assuming the worst.

  30. Temperance*

    LW3, I honestly think you need to butt out. Your heart is in the right place, but you’re seriously overstepping. Your coworker is an adult who had chosen not to get medical help. Sad, but that’s her right.

  31. Lizzie*

    LW 2, at interviews people will often agree to things they wouldn’t otherwise to keep the interviewer happy so they aren’t seen as difficult by their potential employer. I wouldn’t try to hold her to that agreement – if she’s introducing herself as Arya, let her go by that and take the advice about using initials to differentiate the two of you.

    1. just another day*

      Agree, but it seems really short-sighted of new hire Arya to agree to this and then do the reverse upon hire. Obviously it was important to her boss and to just flip the switch like that makes her look flaky and/or dishonest – not a great way to start a new job and relationship with your new boss.

      1. Myrin*

        There are so many ways this situation could’ve come about that have nothing at all to do with flakiness or dishonesty – New!Arya felt pressured or simply like it would go over better if she agreed with OP, seeing how she would be her new boss; she tried going by Stark at the new job and decided she doesn’t like it; she is perfectly fine with being called Stark but thinks it’s weird to introduce herself that way; she misunderstood and thought they’d agreed to call her by her full name “Arya Stark” and not just by her last name alone; she has no problem being referred to as “Stark” but doesn’t like being directly called that; etc, etc.

        1. OP2*

          OP 2 here.

          I don’t perceive this as flaky or dishonest, but Stark never raised the issue with me, and when I ask about it, says they’re happy to continue going by Stark, but then introducing themself as Arya.

          I kind of like Alison’s suggestion that I ask them to introduce themself as Arya Stark or Arya S, and I do the same, Arya Winterfel or Arya W

      2. fposte*

        I think that’s true with an essential part of the job, but this is not an essential part of the job; it was both personal and a rather strange request.

        1. OP2*

          Being able to immediately and accurately reach Stark on the first try is an essential part of their job, as they are responding to potentially life threatening emergencies and are notified about these through various means that could be delayed if they were sent to the wrong Arya

          1. Observer*

            Sure. But your method of insuring that doesn’t really work. Even if it did, it wouldn’t scale, either.

            Your best bet is the combination of both of you introducing yourselves with first and last name or first + last initial, making sure that the information about who does what is VERY clear and that your auto-responders have the correct information.

            For instance, my doctor’s office has an auto-attendant that lists people’s extensions and then says “If this s a medical emergency do NOT leave a message. Hang up and call 911”

            1. OP2*

              Yes, this is what I have suggested elsewhere in the thread.

              The problem with the auto-response you propose, is that people call us to find out if they’re having an emergency, which makes the situation ever more frustrating

              1. Observer*

                Well, obviously, you would need a different message. I was just using that one as an example of a situation where quick response is a potentially life threatening issue.

              2. Elizabeth H.*

                I don’t see why it wouldn’t work; “if you are calling to report an emergency, or calling to inquire about a potential emergency/find out whether you are having an emergency/worried you may have a gas leak/etc. please hang up and immediately dial Arya Stark at xxx-xxx-xxxx.” You could probably target the specific issue better with alternate wording.

                I do understand that people who are hesitant if they are having something that rises to the level of an emergency, may have “attrition” if they accidentally get the wrong person first (because it’s an extra step/hassle and people might be like “well I’m not really sure it might be a gas leak, this is complicated, maybe i’ll try later”) and you probably want them to err on the side of caution.

          2. fposte*

            But it’s still a strange request that goes beyond what most places that deal with life-threatening emergencies do, so it’s not surprising that she didn’t read it as the mandatory protocol your workplace has adopted or realize that it’s so strict that even colleagues can’t risk overlap in conversational name use. That’s a really extreme request, like Secret Service Code level.

            I’ll take your word for it that it’s necessary, but I would frame it very differently in an interview, I’d let the candidate choose what their unique identifier would be (some people will prefer middle names or nicknames to last names), and I wouldn’t require the candidate to commit to exactly what name they *do* wish to go by during the application process.

              1. fposte*

                Okay, then when you say “no one is going to make her go by another name,” why will no one do that?

  32. Delta Delta*

    #2 – I once worked at a small company with someone with a somewhat uncommon first name. Then we hired another person with that same name. The first person gradually lost her bananas over the fact there was another person in our 10 person company with her unique name, and began a months-long emotional manipulation and bullying campaign that ultimately ended with the new person quitting. First person always said second was deficient in ways X, Y, and Z, and therefore it’s good she quit. Literally everyone knows second person quit because of the name-related bullying. (And no, the big boss did not care because the first was a high earner for the company, which he valued over everything else. These are not nice people.)

    1. Jen S. 2.0*

      Ugh. Somewhere right now, the first Murgatroyd in your letter is plotting to murder someone who “stole” the name she plans to give her (as yet unconceived) baby someday.

  33. Sadsack*

    There are three Brians in my department of 20 people. When we are referring to any one of them, we just use their full names and it is not awkward at all.

    1. WeevilWobble*

      I once worked with three Dougs. I’d never even met a Doug before that but then I had three in my life. (It was fine.)

    2. Mrs. Fenris*

      We had three “Jennifers” for quite awhile at my old job. It was a total non-issue. The original Jennifer had been given a work nickname that stuck (it wasn’t insulting or anything, it was cute), so people started calling her the nickname most of the time, and referred to the other two by their last names. They introduced themselves to clients with their first and last names, and I don’t remember there ever being a real problem.

  34. Argh!*

    Re: #2

    There are many people who are not believers in actual medicine, and choose to use faith healing, vitamins, diet, etc. It’s a shame that there are so many “communities” that promote this quackery but it’s a fact of life. I know someone who almost died from an unregulated homeopathic “treatment.” She finally went to a specialist and got treatment, but she still relies heavily on advice from her psychic. I just have to sigh.

  35. OldJules*

    #2 Once upon a time, I worked with 3 Mary’s in the department. We differentiate by calling them Mary Z, Mary M and Mary T. Or you could go First Name Middle Name. There are many ways to get around having people with the same name. It really is not that big of a deal. If I talk about leadership things, I refer to Mary Z’s Mary. If I talk about technology, Mary M is who I am referring to and if I am talking about training, it’s Mary T. People get used to it fairly quickly and we just used Mary in conversation without having to differentiate unless we are talking to external to the department. Even new hires get used to it fairly fast.

  36. just another day*

    I actually understand OP2’s frustration about the name thing. I understand the perspective that it happens all the time and is no big deal, but it is SO annoying – especially on a small team and in this situation where OP is supervising the other.
    Confession: I have avoided potential candidates who have my name unless they are totally stellar and even then I have to keep my bias in check. It would drive me absolutely bonkers dealing with that clarification all the time.

    1. Blue Eagle*

      I didn’t have your problem with my first name, but I did have a secretary and a staff person with the same name and was interviewing a candidate for another staff person position – who had the same name. I took a similar approach as you and decided that as the candidate was not stellar to choose a different person.

        1. Been there*

          Seems to me it would be a bullet dodged for those jobseekers. I can’t imagine working for someone who who would be so self-centered to disqualify an applicant because they dared to have the same name.


          1. Gazebo Slayer*

            Seriously. As someone with a common first name who spent her childhood as Gazebo S. to distinguish herself from the others, I am rolling my eyes.

      1. Anna*

        That is a terrible reason to cut someone out. It’s just…terrible, even if they weren’t stellar.

      1. Brandy with a y not an i or ie*

        exactly. google your own first and last name or even facebook search. There are a bunch of people on the world with the same first and last name as you. And some names are popular to the times so youre going to have a million Jennifers, Ashleys, Neavehs, etc… Don’t hold it against someone just because of their name. And if I get an email here for a different Brandy, I just forward it on with a note saying this “was meant for you”. Not that hard.

    2. Observer*

      If I were your boss, I would be VERY unhappy with you. If you own your own business, you can do what you want, but no reasonable employer is going to look at this well. You’re making serious judgements about people based on nothing but their first name. And, I’d be worry what other minor inconveniences you are going to try to avoid in ways that are likely to harm my organization.

  37. Lynca*

    Having family experience with uncontrolled diabetes (my dad was the only one to take is seriously) 450 mmg/doL is crazy. How is she at work and doing any quality work? I have had my aunts be unconscious on the ground or in delirious states at blood sugar that high.

    I understand people feel like their medical decisions should never be questioned at work but the choices of not going to the doctor (to get evaluated as to what medications may be needed and an effective treatment plan) and using a keto diet (which would cause diabetic ketoacidosis) aren’t things I couldn’t let slide without one serious conversation about the life threatening risk she’s putting herself in. I know that I couldn’t live with myself without saying something.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Yeah, I am not clear on how this woman is able to function with blood sugar that high. Is anyone checking her work for inaccuracies? yikes.

  38. Star*

    Due to a naming convention in his parents’ country of origin, my partner and his two brothers all have the same first name. It can occasionally cause some funny miscommunication, but for the most part it’s pretty easy to deal with. It might cause the odd bit of confusion, but people are generally used to dealing with people sharing names.

  39. Cruciatus*

    #2 — I agree with most comments here that it’s just not a big deal to have two (or even more) people of the same name. My name is a classic name that will stand the tests of time (since it has already done so. It has been mentioned in this thread, as I figured it would be!). There is almost always at least 1 other of us around. When I worked for my previous department there were 3 of us and I actually replaced a person who shared my first and middle name (leaving my boss to joke(?) “no more Cruciatuses in that position” when I left) and one of those 3 still there also shared my first and middle name (our email system is very big on having everyone’s FULL NAMES IN VIEW. Gah!) Everyone will figure it out. The only thing that was always slightly weird is emailing them as I felt like I was emailing myself. “Hi Cruciatus, Please find the information you requested enclosed. Thank you, Cruciatus”

    1. PB*

      I agree with all of this. I have a very common first name (another one that’s been mentioned in this thread). In my first professional job, I was in an office about 50 employees, and five of us all shared the same first name. My supervisor and I were both PB. 9/10 times, it was clear who they were referring to by context. If it wasn’t, it wasn’t that hard to say, “Do you mean PB Smith or PB Jones?”, or redirect a person.

    2. JulieBulie*

      I just remembered that I went to school with a few girls from a family with seven sisters… all of them named Mary (Mary Ann, Mary Frances, Mary Beth, etc.). But the school also had a fair number of other Mary Anns, Mary Beths, etc. So it was sometimes necessary to refer to these girls by all three of their names.

      It can be done. Still not a big deal. Their parents could have been a little more creative, though.

  40. Ruthie*

    My report and I, who are the only people in our team, have the same name and it’s really, truly not an issue. It helps a bit that we spell it differently and internally we go by nicknames (I use one and she doesn’t). Externally we go by first initial of last name. Our intitials sound similar too, but I’m not aware of any miscommunications or mixups that have happened as a result.

  41. BananaPants*

    OP3, unless you’re a medical professional (and since you’ve resorted to Dr. Google, I’m assuming you aren’t), this is not something that concerns you. She’s an adult and gets to make her own medical decisions – butt out.

    1. Lions*

      If this was a close friend I’d do whatever possible to advocate they see a Dr. however, with a coworker if she consults you for advice I’d let her know my opinion and hope her position doesn’t require heavy machinery operation. It’s scary how many people purposely refuse to address their diabetes… It won’t end well for her sadly if she refuses treatment or medical attention.

  42. Shadow*

    #1. I think you can keep the happy hours if you switch it up some and do a lunch or morning event some of the time

  43. Mimmy*

    #4 – Well, in reading Alison’s response, I’ve been listing one of my jobs wrong. I was with the National Association of Teapot Workers about 1.75 years. In the first year, I was a volunteer mainly working on a particular project (that I am very proud of!). The second year, I was brought on as a part-time temp for two short-term periods, first to help with a major conference, then to finish my project and help with miscellaneous things. However, on my resume, it’s listed as one job encompassing the full 1.75 years with no indication that a good chunk of that time was as a volunteer -.-

  44. Hiring Mgr*

    On #1, this may have been said already, but could you simply switch up the events to make it more inclusive? Maybe have a happy hour one time, then do a team lunch, then do a trivia/game night or some such, etc… Or maybe the other team members have suggestions?

  45. a different Vicki*

    The one time I’ve been in a first-names environment where one person went by his last name, it didn’t stand out because his surname is Kelly, which is also some people’s first name. He wasn’t doing it for disambiguation: he uses “Kelly” everywhere, I assume because he likes it better than his given name.

  46. Fern*

    OP #2. I think your colleagues will be able to adapt to knowing which Arya they are addressing or reaching out to. I work for a department where there are three name pairs, four of them are on the same team, and then two others (including me) work for other teams. They’ve never had their work confused and people usually just add their last name. As in, “can you send that request to Paul Newman and then we’ll have Paul McCartney manage email volume?” I feel like in this day and age, multiple names in a department is fairly common and if she wants to go by her actual name, she should. Also, she may someday move to a different team within the company, and that might cause confusion down the road. “Wait, your name is Arya? We’ve been calling you Stark for three years!”

  47. Kimberly*

    #2 Really you are acting like this person is doing something wrong by having the same name as you. I grew up with 5 girls with the same name as me. It was never a problem. I have multiple cousins that share names again no confusion. With the cousins because of family naming traditions they often have the same given and surname, still no confusion.

    If this is so important to you you should start using you given no middle name you are the one with the problem you need to make the change.

  48. Gloucesterina*

    Does anyone have advice on how often to expect to to navigate things in the category of OP#2’s issue: in other words, if you are being interviewed for a job, and the hiring manager asks you to agree to do something that isn’t specifically enumerated in the formal job description? Does this fall under “other tasks as assigned” boilerplate in many job descriptions? Does anyone have any specific experiences with this type of request, either as a hiring manager or as an interviewee, and how did you hold the employee to their word in their interviewee.

    I’m just surprised at the comments (e.g. JVC’s) that suggest what an employee agrees to in an interview context is as good as a contract written and signed. This seems surprising to me since “asking everyone to call me by name X and sticking to that in any and all work-place interactions” doesn’t seem like it would be to be part of the core job description in most (if not all) positions.

    1. Been there*

      I guess for the interviewee/new employee there is risk to agreeing to something in an interview and then not honoring that agreement (however goofy that something is). I can’t imagine that there would be cause to terminate based on the non-honored agreement. But the Boss can find other ways to punish the interviewee/new employee or drive them out.

      So in this case OP#2 would probably be laughed out of HR’s office if she went to them wanting formal discipline. However OP#2 could easily set up the new person to fail for other reasons that HR would back a termination.

      Obviously that would be in the extreme… but not out of the realms of possibility

    2. Amber Rose*

      It’s not about job description, it’s about saying one thing and doing another. If you offer or agree to do something, it’s expected that you will do it, regardless of whether it’s a work thing or any other thing. It’s part of being a responsible human being, and also not having a reputation as a liar. If you aren’t prepared to do something, you should say so, not just… not do it.

      1. WeevilWobble*

        Agreeing to something and then later feeling uncomfortable and changing your mind is totally normal and acceptable behavior. If it doesn’t impact that job you shouldn’t be held to it forever. There isn’t any other context where we would hold that ridiculous standard.

        It’s silly to suggest anything mentioned in an interview is now a contract.

        1. Amber Rose*

          You can change your mind about whatever you want, that doesn’t mean you get to keep that decision to yourself. A bare minimum of respect is to say, “I thought about this and decided I don’t feel comfortable with it after all.”

          Or even “Hey, could I do X instead?”

          It’s also perfectly understandable to be miffed when a person agrees to something and then just doesn’t do it without saying anything to you.

          1. WeevilWobble*

            There is no indication she has changed her mind she just introduced herself to people by her name. She hasn’t contradicted her when she calls her by her last name. She probably didn’t realize that the agreement meant she had to hide her first name from the world.

            I think the right to be miffed is limited when it’s such a trivial and petty thing to expect.

      2. Been there*

        The situation with the name thing is much different than say agreeing to travel for a job during an interview and then telling the boss your first week in that you can’t or won’t travel.

        I’m envisioning a question like this:
        OP: so… would you be willing to go by your last name
        OP’s namesake: Umm sure I guess

        It’s very reasonable to assume in this case that the namesake doesn’t object to being called but didn’t realize that OP meant for her to introduce herself to people as I would find that so bizarre to do, not to mention meeting someone who introduced themselves as

        1. Myrin*

          Yeah, I get the feeling that some commenters don’t realise that your last paragraph is a thing that can happen – as I said in another comment, I know dozens of people who go by their surname or an abbreviation thereof but I can think of only one who identifies so strongly with it that he actually introduces himself using that name. With all the others, the fact that they’re usually referred to as [surname] normally comes up organically over time and that’s how new people start to use that name as well.

        2. OP2*

          It was more like:

          Me: Have you ever worked with people named Arya before?
          Stark: Yes and it is extremely confusing.
          Me: Would you ever consider going by a nickname or your last name?
          Stark: of course! I’m happy to go by A. or Stark or (several other options)
          Me: Stark is a pretty badass name
          Stark: I’d be happy to go by that. It would make things a lot easier

          And when I followed up after she was introducing herself as Arya, she re-affirmed she is still happy to go by Stark, but just prefers to introduce herself as Arya.

          There is no resentment or awkwardness on her part that I can detect

          1. Been there*

            I’m still kind of confused what the problem is. She introduces herself as Arya people will know her as Arya Stark. I have to be honest I’m just not really tracking with the issue. I read the updates upthread and why are potentially life and death emergencies being sent by email and any way other than phone or text. I’m trying to think of a situation where that would make sense.

            It seems to me that is more important than fixing instead of the name people know her as.

            1. Elizabeth H.*

              Agree. I do not see the problem here. I was imagining it above, like the reports of emergencies are coming from the general public. But if the problem is that she is introducing herself internally to coworkers, surely THEY know well the difference. Of course it is normal to introduce yourself by your first name. It doesn’t mean that people aren’t aware you have a last name.

            2. Gazebo Slayer*

              Yeah, I was really confused by the reports of life-threatening situations by… voicemail?? It doesn’t add up.

          2. Anna*

            But you still made a suggestion that was kind of leading and her response to you is actually negating it entirely. “She re-affirmed that she is still happy to by Stark, but just prefers to introduce herself as Arya.”

            That’s your answer. I think she’s trying to make you happy, even if she doesn’t feel resentment.

          3. fposte*

            I missed this, and again it seems to frame the problem differently than you have to us in comments. There’s no suggestion here that individualized names are vital and required to avoid danger–you just asked her what she thought about the duplication, and the worst case identified was that it was confusing. If I were her, I would not have read the situation to have the gravity you suggest and wouldn’t have considered myself bound to being called Stark by everybody.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      As fposte notes above, this was a particularly personal and strange request. This wasn’t “I’ll need you to manage the social media.” This was more like “Can you drive me to the drugstore after work every Friday, on your own time?” It’s a personal request that you get to change your mind about.

      1. Gloucesterina*

        Thanks, Alison! The language of the “personal request” is what I think my dense and probably confusing cluster of questions was looking to name!

    4. WeevilWobble*

      I think the way to handle it if you are uncomfortable with the suggestion is to just say you are open to brainstorming solutions. Or suggest something you are more comfortable with (like Arya S or Arry.) But don’t commit to one thing.

      However, it is totally possible that something seems reasonable at the time and then in practice it’s really freaking weird to just up and just pretend your name isn’t your name. And to not even tell people your name when you meet them. Because that’s really weird.

      If it’s not part of your job there should be flexibility to switch gears if you aren’t comfortable.

  49. WeevilWobble*

    With #2 I think it’s normal to just automatically default to the way you’ve introduced yourself since you were a kid. She probably isn’t even thinking about it. It’s a tough habit to break. How many married women change their names but still introduce themselves by their maiden name by default for a few months?

    But, also, my name is Elizabeth. I’ve gone to school with and worked with many Elizabeths. It has never once lead to catastrophe. Having her go by a totally different name seems drastic.

    1. OP2*

      It is primarily due to the time-sensitive and potentially dangerous results of mixing us up and delaying communication that it is an issue. I have gone to school with many Aryas, but our context is different

      1. Anna*

        But it’s not really solved by using her last name. What if her last name were incredibly common? You would have the same problem of someone trying to figure out which Smith to call. I get that you were trying to come up with a good way to avoid a potential problem, but I think you may need to have another run at this.

  50. val*

    Re: OP#3 — I think I would have to consider telling her she could go into a coma while driving and so at minimum shouldn’t drive until she gets medical advice. If she wants to risk her own life, fine, but I would not feel comfortable watching her get into a car and driving off any more than if she were drunk.

    1. Gazebo Slayer*

      Yup. It stops being solely her business once it endangers other people.

      Google “report impaired driver [your state].”

  51. persimmon*

    For OP#3, I also think that as part of the conversation OP should ask if there is anything she can do to help coworker go to the doctor. Obviously if she says no then you have to respect that, but entering the medical system after a while involves some intimidating steps that some people might be able to use some help with. Potential help to offer would be researching doctors covered by her insurance, calling to make an appointment, even going with her to the appointment. Yes, this is a lot for someone who is basically a work acquaintance, but emergencies sometimes call for people to step up and offer help even if they aren’t the exact “right” person to do it (especially if the one in need is somewhat isolated). Again, this is about offering help, not about demanding action, but given how much personal info this coworker has already volunteered, I wonder if she may be receptive.

    1. SechsKatzen*

      Personally, I don’t see a doctor. Haven’t in over 10 years when I was required to do so. I don’t even have medical insurance and don’t intend to get it. From the co-worker’s perspective, this would be a HUGE overstep of boundaries. I don’t know that I would phrase it that way to someone who’s clearly trying to be helpful, but every time one of my coworkers criticizes my lack of medical insurance and refusal to see doctors, it strikes me as (a) none of their business and (b) incredibly invasive. Accept that people have legitimate reasons for not wanting to engage the medical profession which are not the business of co-workers, make one statement using something along the lines as Alison’s script, and then let it go.

      To me though, I find it weird that someone would volunteer so much medical information in a work setting. Overstepping like OP3 is describing is exactly why I DON’T talk about these issues with co-workers.

    2. Temperance*

      I really don’t agree with this. It’s so personal for a work acquaintance. I don’t agree that this is a true emergency. If she was going into shock or something, sure, all bets are off … but a potential chronic illness isn’t really that.

  52. Amber Rose*

    #2: We have two Wakeens at work, both department heads, and we used to have two Ferguses, one of them a worker and one of them one of the owners of the company. This has never been a problem. Sometimes phone calls get routed to the wrong Wakeen, and then the mistake is caught and fixed. Emails sometimes get forwarded. It’s really not a big deal. One of the Wakeens goes by his last name, but that’s because his last name is… kind of a pun. Anyways, when people page him or request him they use his first and last name, and he introduces himself with his first name, and it’s fine.

    #3: People who say “you NEED to see a doctor” drive me a bit batty. Because those are the people who live in a world where doctors are either good or bad but either way, necessary. People like me, who are actually terrified of doctors, we live in a world where doctors sit in a third category: abusive. I’ve walked out of multiple doctors’ offices much worse off than when I went in. Dismissing a fear of doctors as just something “they need to get over” is not OK.

    If you really want this person to see a doctor, and they are that scared of doctors, maybe try a referral. Pretty much the only time I see a doctor is when a friend gives me a name and number and says, “See this person, they are super nice, I promise, I see them myself.”

    1. Slippy*

      In this case she really does NEED to go see a doctor. Her blood sugars are dangerously high and her prescription for treating it isn’t particularly good. A coma from a high blood sugar is just as dangerous as a seizure from a low and both can happen when she is driving. If the employee manages any dangerous machinery or drives on behalf of work she is putting the company and her coworkers at risk. It is likely that the doctor will have some harsh news, but it will be potentially lifesaving news. If she wants to ignore the treatments that is on her, but she cannot be driving to work with untreated diabetes.

      1. Amber Rose*

        That’s nice. I’m glad you comprehended exactly none of what I posted. Just kinda proves my point.

        1. Gazebo Slayer*

          Your experience has precisely zero to do with the fact that this person is actually endangering other people’s lives, which no one has a right to do. That’s not lack of comprehension, that’s simple fact.

          1. Anna*

            This is actually not very common and is no more of an issue than untreated high blood pressure and the possibility of having a stroke. Basically, there are several reasons why the coworker should go see a doctor, but because it could endanger other people because she MIGHT go into a coma while driving is not really the most pressing nor the most compelling.

    2. Observer*

      I understand what you are saying – but your perception does not reflect reality. It’s not that I think your experiences didn’t happen – unfortunately I find it frighteningly believable. That doesn’t negate the fact that if this woman doesn’t see a decent (professionally and as a human being) doctor soon, she’s likely to die. In short, she does NEED to see a doctor.

      What you are saying is much like saying that it’s wrong to claim that an anorexic NEEDS to eat, since they have a legitimate disorder. Yeah, the disorder is real and diagnosable, and it’s super unhelpful to say “just get over it and east something already”, but it doesn’t change the reality that they DO absolutely NEED to eat.

      I do think that your suggestion of a referral is a good idea, though.

      1. Elizabeth H.*

        Agree with this and that the suggestion of a SPECIFIC referral to someone LW3 has personal experience with is a great idea.

  53. Allison*

    My department recently hired another Allison, same spelling and all, and neither of us wants to go by a nickname it seems. We have different jobs, but they seem similar enough in nature that sometimes I worry other new hires will ask her to do my job on a project, not realizing they’re asking the “wrong” Allison, and she’s familiar enough with that sort of work (and has said so in meetings) that she might think nothing of it, and if she’s good at it she’ll be promoted to do my job and I might get phased out. That is, realistically, kind of a silly thing to worry about, it may actually be more likely that people will ask me to do her job and get confused when I tell them it’s not in my jurisdiction.

    I may raise this concern with my manager if I actually see it happening though. Sometimes I wish we could put our job titles on our cubicles to so people go to the right person when they need something.

      1. Allison*

        Maybe, but the name itself has 3 syllables, my last initial has another three (ugh), but her last initial only has one . . .

        1. Emi.*

          What about appending last initials to the front, reverse-pig-latin-style? So Allison Marks, Allison Williams, and Allison Thompson could become Mallison, Wallison, and Tallison.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Hey, that is actually kind of cool. I hope OP thinks about this for a minute to see if it would make sense with their actual names.

  54. Amy*

    OP#1: Also maybe consider calling your event (whether it stays a happy hour or transitions to something else) something less…well…calorie oriented? I know “unnecessary calorie hour” is probably intended as a tongue-in-cheek way to say “happy hour but feel free to drink soda or stick to snacks or whatever if you don’t want to drink”. But there are plenty of people out there who would rather not think of their daily activities in terms of how many calories they might eat in the process, or who are trying to avoid unnecessary calories in particular. (People who are dieting, people who are dealing with eating disorders, etc.)

    I don’t know if any of your team members fall in those categories, but since you’re struggling to get buy in on these team-building events, a more neutral seems like one more thing you could do to make it slightly more welcoming to a wider range of people.

    1. Sue No-Name*

      Agreed! Many readers probably find this a minor or even unnoticeable jokey statement, but for people with food concerns looming large in their minds already, ‘unnecessary calorie’ talk at work can be really stressful.

      I left a job once with little love lost partially due to my then-boss’s insistence on evaluating and discussing the caloric content of any food the employees would be seen eating (including food which, by the way, the boss provided as a perk!)

    2. JulieBulie*

      I’m not dieting, don’t have an eating disorder, and love booze… but I still don’t like “diet-talk,” referring to certain foods as “naughty” or “healthy,” Cathy comic strips (though I’m totally with her on bathing-suit shopping), unnecessary references to calories, etc. It really turns me off.

      I’d be tempted to call it “Nothing Hour” or “Fun Hour” (or maybe “Coffee Talk” if coffee isn’t a fraught subject like that poor OP who was told not to cruelly drink Starbucks at her coworkers). Have it at a Starbucks or Panera type of place depending on the time of day. (Not after work, b/c coworkers have already kind of rejected that.)

  55. Amy*

    OP2: I was on a team for a while where half the team was made up of name duplicates. Everyone continued to go by their first names. It was fine and not overly confusing most of the time, and when we did need clarification, we could reference different name spellings or different last names to clarify. I think you should ask Arya what she’d prefer to go by now (since it seems to be different than what you’d heard before) and just go with that–it probably won’t be as big a deal as you’re thinking.

  56. Amy*

    OP3: I actually think you’ve already gotten seriously invasive on this. You feel out of place because you ARE out of place–you’re her coworker, not her parent or her doctor, and getting involved in her health management isn’t appropriate. Heck, you don’t even have a close friendly relationship with her–you yourself say you haven’t bonded up to now. I get that you mean well here, I get that she’s making dangerous choices and you want to guide her to a safer path…but you are not her guide, you’re just someone who happens to work at the same place.

    If your coworker written in telling us that her coworker was prying into her medical info, sharing that info with the coworker’s friends without permission, and then trying to tell her what to do about her health, I’d be advising her to shut down any and all sharing of health details, explicitly tell that coworker to back off, and stick to a very cooly professional relationship with that coworker from here on out. That’s just incredibly invasive behavior, even when it’s well meant, even if the coworker is objectively right about how that medical condition should be handled.

    I think you need to back off. If you absolutely can’t stand not sharing your information, follow Alison’s script, but consider your involvement done at that point, and be aware that she may well disregard it and would be 100% within her rights to shut down the topic (and your relationship) completely. But in general, you need to butt out of your coworker’s medical condition, even if you don’t like the choices they’re making.

    1. Snark*

      Ultimately, I think you’re right. It sucks, because a compassionate person doesn’t want to see terrible, potentially lethal consequences to befall their coworker, but it’s just wildly inappropriate for a coworker to say any more than what Alison suggested. You just don’t have the standing or prerogative to do more.

    2. Amber Rose*

      The only issue I have with that, is if said coworker drives. There’s a reason diabetes must be disclosed when getting or renewing a driver’s license. If something awful happens behind the wheel, it could be fatal to more people than just the coworker. And then it becomes more than just that person’s business, just like if I discovered one of my coworker was a regular drunk driver.

      1. Amy*

        It’s true that health conditions can impact more than just the one person (that isn’t unique to diabetes, either). And if the coworker was simply saying, “hey, just so you know, there are some driving restrictions around X condition, you should look into that to make sure everything is on the up-and-up,” that would be one thing. If she absolutely knows that her coworker is doing something dangerous, that could be extended to calling in the appropriate authorities to handle it (e.g. for a drunk driver, call the police and give the license plate; I don’t know what the proper channels are for this kind of thing, but I bet something exists).

        That’s not what OP is doing. OP is discussing her coworker’s medical condition with a third party, without any kind of request or permission from her coworker to do so, and then trying to take control of directing her coworker’s medical treatment. There is no realm in which that is appropriate behavior.

        1. Gazebo Slayer*

          Google “report impaired driver [your state]” to report a medically impaired driver to your state department of motor vehicles.

          In my state, the person will have 30 days to respond with a note from a medical provider evaluating their fitness to drive. This can either clear them fully, require them to surrender their license, or require them to take a road test.

          I only wish there were better transportation options outside transit-friendly cities for people who can’t drive.

          1. LTR*

            Woah, that’s a BIG overstep considering how little info OP has. If she sees her coworker attempting to drive impaired or seeming disoriented at work, she should absolutely report and/or call 911. But with the current minimal info OP has (about someone she isn’t close enough with to really know if, for instance, she has changed her mind and decided to see a doctor or seek other help), I’m pretty sure this wouldn’t solve anything. I can’t imagine the state directing resources towards investigating a woman without a history of impaired driving/accidents, based on one flimsy report by a coworker with no concrete info on this person’s health or what she plans to do about it, especially considering how many people are actually driving impaired and who get reported by more reliable sources (why put funds/manpower toward this case instead?).

            And if they did investigate it would only guarantee she didn’t reveal any more medical info to the people around her anymore, which would be VERY bad if things are really as dangerous as OP suspects (and that’s all it is: a suspicion based on a test OP never saw the actual result of). I doubt you’re suggesting that the OP tell her she’s the one who reported which means she could very well suspect family members or close friends, the ones who actually need to know what’s going on and have the standing and influence that OP clearly does not. Not to mention being forced to see a doctor in this way could make her even more untrusting and resistant towards them, and there’s also no guarantee she’d actually give in and see a doctor to begin with if she’s truly terrified enough to avoid them for nearly 20 years, so it could just end up costing her the license/job/health insurance based on that alone.

            I just think this is a horrible idea all around. I really do respect the sentiment behind it – no one has the right to endanger other lives on the road. But OP is not close enough to this person and doesn’t have enough concrete, first hand info to determine whether this is a valid complaint or something that would hurt her coworker and others more in the long run. Let her and her family handle it please.

      2. Gazebo Slayer*

        Yep. This makes it OP’s business – and, really, the business of everyone who shares the road with this person.

      3. Anna*

        I have Type I and looking at my driver’s license there is only one “medical” thing on there and it’s that I am required to wear corrective lenses. There are no restrictions or indications on my license that I have Type I diabetes. Can we please stop acting like this is in defense of the poor unsuspecting drivers on the road? And do me a HUGE favor and stop equating having a chronic disease with drunk driving. They are not in the same country of issues, let alone the same ZIP code.

    3. BananaPants*

      Exactly. OP3 heard a number from the coworker (who knows if it’s right or not?), fired up Google and did conversions that she doesn’t actually understand, and has decided that her coworker has diabetes.

      OP3, stop playing armchair endocrinologist and butt out. You very clearly don’t know what goes into calculating the lab result or about the fact that the conversion equation is simply a linear regression of a data set with large scatter. You have already WAY overstepped appropriate boundaries by speaking to a doctor friend about your coworker’s lab results without her permission. Just back off.

  57. Lady Phoenix*

    #1: If you want to do happy hour, then you need to do it with your friends or with coworkers not under your department. It is obvious that your staff is not ok with this, except Mary who is getting prefrential treatment. If you want to build your team, you need to do what THEY want and not what YOU want. As the saying goes, “There is no’I’ in ‘team’.”

    Maybe instead of happy hour, you could plan a nice dinner out with everyone or maybe a movie? Just listen to your staff really.

    1. MicroManagered*

      I really like your answer and want to add that I think this is part of what is meant by “office culture.” I’ve worked in offices where it was totally normal to do happy hour together–with management, without management, your manager, manager-from-another-department–it didn’t matter. I’ve worked in offices where happy hour with just-your-manager (and no other members of management) would be very weird/not done or where management would never be there. The feedback that LW1 is getting is that this doesn’t really work for the culture in this office. (And as a happy-hour enthusiast, I get that this sucks.)

  58. Game of Scones*

    Years ago, at one of my first professional jobs, I was hired by a small company (fewer than 20 people big). This company was owned and run by a married couple. The husband ran the software development and sales side of the business, and the wife was in charge of finance and admin.

    I happened to share a first name with the female co-owner – let’s call her Patty. During my interview with the male co-owner, he asked if I would be willing to go by Pat to avoid trouble because his wife is also named Patty. Until that point, only close family and friends had ever called me that name, but I wanted the job, so of course I was agreeable to it.

    I’m still disappointed in myself for going along with that because a.) Although we were both named Patty, her full name was Patricia and my full name literally is just Patty, and b.) the male co-owner who asked me to go by a different name shared a name with another manager and obviously everybody was perfectly fine with that!?!?!?

    It’s still so weird that everyone I know from that job refers to me as Pat.

    1. Anna*

      You sum up perfectly the issue I have with it being brought up during the interview process. It’s a power play and the person being interviewed is most likely going to agree because it feels like a condition of employment, not a request that can be turned down.

  59. Anna*

    OP 2, something jumped out at me. You say you discussed this during the interview process and she agreed to it. So, essentially, you asked her to do something she didn’t feel comfortable with at a time where you held all the power and she was probably agreeing to under a little bit of duress. And now you’re holding her to it like it’s a contract. Most people in the world work in places where someone else has the at least the same first name as them and we all manage to get by without there being too much confusion. I think you can let this go.

    1. OP2*

      That isn’t quite what happened. It was her idea and she continues to say she has no problem going by Stark

  60. OP2*

    OP 2 here:

    To clarify a few things, no one made Stark go by Stark, she was extremely enthusiastic about it in the interview and offered several options for nicknames. When I checked in with her about it once I first noticed she was introducing herself as Arya so I could make sure she was still ok with this, she said she continues to have no problem being called Stark, but prefers to introduce herself by her first name. I told her if she changes her mind about being called Stark no one is going to make her go by another name, but we will need to discuss other options to make sure we don’t get mixed up.

    The reason it is vital that we do not get mixed up is that if voicemails, emails, skypes, etc get sent to the wrong Arya, the results can be potentially life threatening. The nature of Stark’s job is to respond immediately to emergencies, and to assess whether other situations are emergencies. A lost email or voicemail could leave our company liable and potentially cause physical harm. This is complicated by an off-site call center and a fast growing organization. It is a service and safety issue to identify the correct Arya, not a convenience and pride issue.

    I like Alison’s suggestion, and will likely touch base with her again, and ask that she introduce herself as Arya Stark or Arya S to clients and coworkers to help differentiate. Of course I will do the same, Arya Williams or Arya W. Since she has continued to maintain that she has no issue being called Stark, I know many people I work closely with will continue calling her stark, as this is a common thing at our office for name duplicates. Of course if she ever says she objects, we will have a conversation again about at minimum a last initial.

    I will check in with her later today and try to post an update today or tomorrow.

    1. Myrin*

      Thanks for weighing in, OP!
      I don’t know how recent the “recently” in your letter is but could some of this also be attributed to Stark not quite being used to the name change/”add on” yet? Anyway, I’m sure you’ll be able to figure something out!

    2. Student*

      I understated the issue with urgency. However, your solution will not fix this problem entirely. I guarantee that people will still mix you two up, even if you both religiously go by only your last names in public from now on. I do work that can have similar sensitivities. People with similar names still get each other’s emails. Nothing you or Stark say or do will fix that people do this – it’s not either Arya’s fault, either. People in urgent situations are even more likely to make this screw-up than the rest of the populace.

      If it’s that big of a problem and company liability, you need an additional or different system in place to deal with it, to make it easy for you two to rapidly forward mistakes to each other. Maybe there are email filters you two can set up to catch most mistakes. Maybe there’s a different way to set things up so that urgent contacts go to an “urgent contact” address/voicemail/pile, instead of to Stark’s (or, accidentally, William’s) pile. And it’s good to fix structural problems like that in the long term, because you two will not be the last pair of people at this company with similar names.

      1. Turtle Candle*

        Yes, this. I have a moderately common first name with a common nickname. I go by the nickname; another woman at my company goes by the full version of the name. And we still get things intended for each other sometimes, so requiring a different nickname isn’t really a good solution if the issue really is life-and-death. (I have a very, very common surname, and once in a while I get things intended for someone else at the company with the same surname, even though our first names aren’t even similar and we’re different genders–think Annabell Smith receiving things for Joe Smith. I think they just start typing ‘sm’ into the To field and don’t pay attention to what autocompletes, or something.)

    3. Danger: Gumption Ahead*

      One think you might want to consider is changing up your processes so that these lost e-mails/voicemails can’t happen. If you are a quickly growing organization you may end up with more Aryas and more Starks, and, since life hinges on response times, you can’t rely on people always remembering which one to contact.

      When I worked in organizations with similar “if you don’t respond fast enough=epidemic”, we only had one central number that triaged calls and everyone had access to (and the duty to) check the messages, anyone who was out of office forwarded their calls to their back-ups, and access was given to inboxws so they could be checked by anyone in the unit. You may have to consider similar protocols going forward

      1. OP2*

        A great idea, except that there are regulatory bodies that require us to respond to messages under our individual names from individual boxes. We do do this to a certain extent with the phones, unless someone is calling asking for Arya, in which case they would get transferred to one of two aryas.

        Love the idea of thinking in systems though. That always helps

        1. Danger: Gumption Ahead*

          Since you have only bumped into this once, you still have time to work out what to do when you have 5 Starks and 7 Aryas and 2 Arya Starks, because, eventually, it will happen. Good luck!

            1. Observer*

              I can imagine. But, that’s a real possibility. And that’s why you need to come up with solutions that scale to these types of situations.

              I do think that the ideas for full directories (ie FULL name plus title), introductions done that way, and auto-responders that correctly direct people who are contacting the wrong person, are your best bet.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          You say responds to email. That does not necessarily mean the email has to be sent to that inbox it just has to be responded to from that inbox. I know this sounds like splitting hairs but maybe it’s useful.

          Can you have an emergency email such as emergency @ teapots are us dot org and then tie that email to her email?

    4. fposte*

      Thanks for expanding, OP. I’m still a little confused, though, about one aspect–you say “I told her if she changes her mind about being called Stark no one is going to make her go by another name,” but when you discuss your protocol it sounds like it’s vital that she *doesn’t* go by Arya. I think if it’s vital she not go by Arya you need to firmly tell her that and require her to stop introducing herself that way. If, however, it’s true that no one, including you, is going to make her go by another name, then maybe it’s not so vital and you need to regroup with her: “As we discussed, I’d initially expected you’d follow the practice of Washington and Adams, who go by their last names to avoid confusion with their first name, but you’ve been introducing yourself as ‘Arya’ rather than ‘Stark’ so I think that’s ended up being confusing rather than clarifying. So we’ll let ‘Stark’ go and I’ll stop calling you that, but at this point I will ask you to be clear in all your communications that you are Arya S. and to use that form in all introductions and signatures.”

      1. fposte*

        To expand a little–I think I may have been wrongfooted (and might not have been the only one) by how much of your letter makes this sound suboptimal for a variety of reasons but not unacceptable–you worry there that the discrepancy is awkward but not that this is going to be a dangerous confusion, and you say, as I note, that she won’t be made to change. So if this is an absolutely critical differentiation, I think you’re getting sidetracked into stuff that doesn’t matter, like how you feel about the discrepancy or what might be your discomfort with telling her to stick to a unique identifier.

  61. Science!*

    Re #3
    My husband has a really common first name (top 10 in 1980’s). So his name is David. One year he got a job as an apprentice blacksmith working under the master blacksmith, also named David. Master blacksmith David’s previous apprentice, who now had a blacksmith shop of his own, was also named David.

    Master blacksmith David and my David has a really big project once and need an extra set of hands, so they called the other David to help for a week. Three Davids in one shop (no other employees). I told them they should have one large shop together and called themselves the David^3, but they declined.

  62. Jennifer*

    OP #2, I’ve been dealing with this my entire life. It’s usually pretty easy to figure out from context who you mean. And in the cases where it’s not? The person will ask and you can clarify. It’s not as complicated as you’re trying to make it.

  63. Linden*

    LW#2: I used to work at a large organization in an interdepartmental program where most of the staff were Latin American and for most people I worked with, I worked with at least one other person with the same first name, sometimes two or three. We just used full names when necessary, and first names when it was clear from the context. (Like if you were introducing a story, you start by using the full name and then switch to just the first name, or if both people are in the story, you can continue using full names or if necessary, use last names for both.) What really got confusing was when two people had the same first AND last names, which was actually not that uncommon.

    LW#3: I work in public health (especially on suicide research). There are situations in which someone’s safety trumps your career, and I believe this is one of them. I agree with LW’s approach of handling the subject with kid gloves so the co-worker isn’t scared off; however, I disagree with some of the responses that the LW needs to drop the subject if unsuccessful. There are emergency situations in which you need to do ANYTHING to get yourself or someone else out of imminent danger, even though those things would normally be rude in a non-emergency (think pushing someone to the floor when someone opens fire or pushing someone out of the way of an oncoming train or bus). If a co-worker was showing the signs of a heart attack, stroke, or sepsis, you wouldn’t give up until they got medical attention (I hope); this is the same situation. I think the primary concern here should be what would be most *effective* for LW to say to co-worker to get her to see a doctor (which may well be something subtle and non-pushy), not what would be most workplace-appropriate. I really don’t know what would be most effective here- maybe a chart or graph and a promise to never bug or ask her about medical issues again if she just sees a doctor about this?

    1. Student*

      Your response to #3 is utterly inappropriate to the actual facts on the ground, though. It sounds like you’ve never actually had to deal with this in real life.

      This co-worker is not showing evidence of being an imminent threat to others, nor of being in mid-heart-attack levels of crisis. No one has watched her plunge into a sudden diabetic coma. And even if they had, in practice, there is actually nothing the OP can do about it unless the co-worker herself wants help. Doing anything else will only drive the co-worker off from the OP. It wont’ actually help her. People do not respond well to being told what to do by strangers. They often don’t respond well to being told what to do by doctors, family, and long-time friends. You cannot, in our society, force help on others no matter how badly you think they need it.

      You want to help. I get it. You can’t, and you need to get that.

      1. Linden*

        A sudden diabetic coma is not the only way diabetes can kill or seriously injure you. Uncontrolled diabetes can cause permanent damage to your circulatory and renal systems; it’s not necessarily the kind of thing you can let slide until you slip into a coma, then get treatment and fully recover.

        I agree that people don’t always respond well to being told what to do by others. That’s why in my post, I explicitly stated that a subtle, not-pushy approach may well be most effective. That’s very different than saying that you should make a one-off comment, count your work done, and let the co-worker succumb to her illness because she refused to get treatment. There are a ton of factors that play into why people don’t get treatment- the co-worker already explained one, that she has reservations about seeing a doctor. That could be something to address; the previous commenter’s advice suggest bringing someone along was good; I’m sure there are other possibilities as well (since the LW seems to have connections to doctors, maybe she could find one who she would be sure would be exceptionally kind and respectful to the co-worker). Socially/professionally overstepping bounds? Maybe, and I know this is a work-oriented website. But we’re talking about human beings, and sometimes looking out for your fellow human is more important than your career. And honestly, I think this can (and should, because it would be most likely to achieve the desired response) all be done in a very tactful, respectful way.

        I don’t know why it sounds to you like I’ve never actually had to deal with this in real life, except that I have a different opinion than you. I have an MPH in Chronic Disease Epidemiology, so I have extensively studied how to get people to do the things that are good for them without forcing them, and I also have confronted situations like this in my personal life (probably more than average, since because of my profession I am more likely to notice when someone is at serious risk).

        1. fposte*

          My problem is that the standards you’re laying out here mean intervention in a lot of people’s lives–like, for an obvious start, you couldn’t just stand by and not intervene with all your smoking colleagues, or all your colleagues using alternative therapies for life-threatening diseases, or your sedentary colleagues. All of them/us are engaged in deadly behaviors. And you’ve stated that dropping the issue after a single statement isn’t acceptable, either, so that’s a lot of people you’re going to have to commit to engaging with. And probably annoying. When you’re supposed to be doing your work. As a manager, I have a real problem with that workplace behavior.

          If it’s an emergent situation, you absolutely can call first responders (and the co-worker absolutely can refuse to go with them, of course). But beyond that, those of us who aren’t public health researchers really can’t take on our co-workers’ health as our projects, however much we’re sure we know better than them.

          1. Linden*

            I completely understand where you’re coming from, and that’s one of the inherent tensions in public health- where do you draw that line?

            The thing is, most people know smoking is dangerous. There have been huge, widespread campaigns to educate people about the dangers of smoking, but nothing near comparison that allows the average person to know and understand the complex effects of uncontrolled diabetes on the body of diabetes, much less the significance of a test result. In fact, lab results generally aren’t designed to be read by the patient- they’re supposed to be interpreted by a doctor who discusses it with the patient. Furthermore, in this case, it’s not that LW is simply observing a poor health behavior; the coworker has already diagnosed herself with a serious, life-threatening health problem. It sounds like LW’s co-worker is committed to fixing the situation but she is afraid to get medical help, perhaps because of bad past experience. I wouldn’t have recommended LW asking follow-up questions about co-worker’s health, but now that she knows this, I do think she should try to help.

            I don’t mean that the LW should be overbearing or imply she knows better than the co-worker. Something I’ve found effective in a past position (not in dealing with my co-worker’s medical issues, which I generally didn’t get involved with, but in merely proposing things to my superiors in a very hierarchical organization) is to act surprised to have found out the new information you are sharing. Privately, something along the lines of, “Hi [coworker], I remember you mentioned your diabetes test results to me the other day. I happened to be watching the news last night and they mentioned that an A1C of >X required urgent medical attention. [read the situation and possibly mention severe consequences ] I thought of you and wondered if maybe bringing a friend/family member with you to the doctor’s might help ensure a better experience/remembered a friend with diabetes who used to hate doctors but finally found one she really likes, I can get you her contact info if you would be interested.” I do think the key is to tread lightly- even more so because of “baggage” related to past encounters with the health system- and listening to the coworker.

            As to the management issue, I do think employers have some skin in the game when it comes to employee health. Sick days and the costs to train a new employee to replace one that has become disabled or died are real. That’s one of the reasons they offer health insurance and sponsor health fairs and other health-promoting activities. That doesn’t mean they should intervene in their employee’s medical affairs. But even from a business perspective, most employers have decided that encouraging employee wellness is not a waste of time and money.

            1. Linden*

              I would add that this also gives the coworker the opportunity to say something like “oh, I actually had the number mixed up,” to double-check it on her own, or offer some other assurance that the situation is not as life-threatening as LW has been led to believe.

            2. fposte*

              Setting aside the fact that employee wellness efforts are all over the map in efficacy, as you doubtless know, those are initiatives approved by the employer and formally presented and assigned. That is a *huge* difference from one employee deciding unilaterally that her co-worker’s health is her business.

              I think it’s good to have your input on phrasing and the communication you mention would be absolutely fine–as long as you let it go after that, which you seem to be opposed to, if I understand correctly your remark about “one and done.” And if an employee of mine didn’t let it go, that would be a big problem for me, because policing her co-worker’s health is inappropriate behavior and not what she’s being paid for.

              1. Turtle Candle*

                I guess what I’m not sure about is, what if your “I happened to find out this important thing,” gets replied to with a “Nah, I’m happy treating it myself” or “Oh, I’m not worried about that” or similar? Do you keep saying “No but you really have to go to the doctor”? How frequently? Is there actually a track record of this kind of thing working? (You presumably know more than I do as you work in public health, but I’ll be honest, if a coworker kept on about a health issue of mine and refused to drop it, it would, if anything, just make me more stubborn simply because I don’t want to give in to perceived nagging and boundary-stepping. I can’t imagine I’m the only person like that.)

                I agree that it is a good idea to say something, once. But you seem to be saying that it’s irresponsible to “drop it” until the person gives in and goes to a doctor–and it’s possible that they actually never will. Some people will quite literally die before getting treatment, and there’s very little you can do about that even if you’re a relative, let alone just a colleague. You can’t drag them to the doctor if they don’t want to go, and even reporting them to the DMV may not do it (even if the DMV follows through and revokes their license, they still may refuse to get treatment). At what point is it acceptable to give up, in your mind? When you get reprimanded for harassing a coworker? When you get fired for it? Never?

              2. Linden*

                Yeah I now realize my first comment about not giving up if unsuccessful on the first attempt may have led people to think that I meant consistently nagging the co-worker after she has clearly said “I don’t want to discuss this anymore.” What I meant was more in reference to Alison’s original recommendation, which is a brief one-off comment that states that upfront (that LW will never broach the subject again). There are a lot of barriers to people getting treatment or help they need (medical or otherwise) and I don’t think a one and done comment telling the co-worker what to do is the best approach. The intention may be to be polite and professional, but to a struggling person it can sound like “here’s what you should do, but I don’t want to get involved/it’s not my responsibility, so if you have any trouble following my instructions, don’t look to me for help.” Most people have probably experienced a pushy person telling them what’s best for them, and that probably comes to mind in this sitution. But I bet most people have also had a situation in life in which they were struggling and no one around them really lended a hand to help. It can seem like a fine line, but in the latter situation, people probably knew what was going on but just weren’t sure how to help and didn’t want to overstep boundaries; I think this is the category LW is in- s/he was so concerned about potentially offending the coworker that s/he wrote in and even expressed a desire to handle this “with kid gloves.”

        2. Amy*

          Yes, but adults get to make decisions about their health that are ultimately bad for them. That doesn’t give everyone and their brother permission to butt in on their medical decision-making. Medical stuff is considered private for a reason! It’s not as simple as ‘healthy’ or ‘unhealthy’, for one–plenty of people are juggling multiple conditions, which may have contradictory treatment paths or otherwise interact with one another in ways that make following the ‘right’ path for handling one or the other of them difficult. People also have other things going on in their lives (e.g. finances) that may impact their medical decisions. Unless you’re part of the person’s medical team, or so close to them that you’re aware of all the different factors going on, the odds are very high that you don’t have the full picture. It’s neither kind nor respectful to insist people share that kind of information with you, and it’s not helpful to try and tell them what path to follow when you don’t have all the necessary information.

          Not to mention–where do you draw the line here? When you see someone smoking, do you tell them it’s unhealthy and follow them around until they throw out their pack? Do you keep a pack of Weight Watchers fliers on hand to hand out to every overweight person you see? If you see someone injecting insulin, do you watch out for what they’re getting at lunch and lecture them on their choices? If someone chooses to go skydiving, do you sit them down for a discussion of all the ways it could go wrong and get them killed? None of these are appropriate things for a stranger or casual acquaintance to do, for the record. (A health official is a different thing than a random stranger, for the record. Even then, though, plenty of people resent being lectured on their choices. Not to mention having the lecturer assume they’ve made their choices blindly, rather than considering that they may have done their research and chosen the option that works best for them even if it’s different than what the lecturer would recommend. Regardless, from a random person with at most a loose connection to them, most people would find all of these invasive and inappropriate.)

          There is no respectful, tactful way to insert yourself so deeply into a stranger’s or casual acquaintance’s private affairs, is what this comes down to. Even if you’re very polite about it, it’s invasive. It’s also likely unhelpful because you probably don’t have the whole picture (and they don’t owe you any more information). If you’re doing this stuff outside of scenarios where you’re it’s your job or you are actually close to the person you’re talking to, please stop it.

          1. bunniferous*

            If my husbands boss and coworker had not nagged him over a decade about going to get a sleep study I would probably be a widow today since it turned out he had SEVERE sleep apnea (so bad they ended the sleep study way early and put a cpap on him immediately since it was dangerous to continue the test.)

            I think anyone with common sense can figure out what the line is between too overbearing and literally doing what it takes for someone not to die. Alison has a great script but I think it is okay to mention it more than ONCE.

    2. Amy*

      Um. No. A long-term chronic condition, even a severe one, is not remotely the same thing as an acute immediate crisis.

      If the coworker shows signs of going into a diabetic coma in front of OP3, OP3 should absolutely call an ambulance and get them care, even though they’ve said they don’t like doctors.

      But the coworker choosing to handle a chronic condition in a not-recommended way is not an emergency situation. The numbers the coworker is giving may be scary, but her coworker is up and functioning, getting to work, etc. This isn’t something you call 911 over. Treating it like an emergency would be wildly out of line.

      It is something a close friend or family member might successfully talk to the coworker about. OP isn’t one of those things, though–she has a reasonably good work relationship with her coworker, but acknowledges they haven’t really bonded beyond that. She is not in a position to involve herself in her coworker’s medical condition in any way beyond handling an actual 911-level emergency, and that’s not what this is.

    3. BananaPants*

      I checked with a friend of mine who is an endocrinologist. A patient with a real HbA1C of 17.3 would be experiencing such severe symptoms of diabetes that they would likely be in the hospital. Many diabetes clinics’ in-office lab equipment tops out at an A1C of 14, and even in Type 2 diabetes those side effects and symptoms experienced with an A1C in that range cannot be tolerated for long.

      OP3 has no idea what she’s doing and is playing Internet Doctor. She needs to stop.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Honestly, I kind of wonder how truthful the coworker is. I think OP is genuinely concerned, but I can tell you if my husband got up to 275 we’d be on our way to the hospital, I would see that much change in him. I definitely would not tell him to do anything that required any concentration. OP, please consider that your coworker may not be stating things as they actually are and perhaps overstating the severity of the problem.

    4. SechsKatzen*

      The only reason why it’s borderline appropriate to say anything at all to the co-worker is because the co-worker herself apparently opened the door by bringing it up first. I don’t consider this to be the same situation as a seemingly sudden medical emergency, in which case if you’re unconscious the choice to receive medical attention is likely to be made for you.

      From experience, my response to co-workers insisting I get medical insurance or insisting I “go see a doctor” has been to immediately shut down any medical talk specifically to avoid that conversation. And saying “I promise to stop bothering you if you just see a doctor once” isn’t any better.

      A brief mention of it is appropriate, but from there, OP3 needs to stop. If someone hasn’t seen a doctor in almost 20 years, a one-time suggestion isn’t likely to convince them otherwise, and they’re likely not someone to go to a doctor unless and until it becomes a medical emergency.

      FWIW as someone in the co-worker’s position who hasn’t seen a doctor in about 10 years and wouldn’t receive medical treatment unless I were unconscious (see above about the choice being made for you). It doesn’t happen often, but I didn’t get any treatment last year after a bad car accident. A co-worker hassling me about it won’t change my mind.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Along the same idea, there is nothing wrong with OP saying, “You know, CW, when you talk about this stuff I really worry about you. Maybe it is best if we talk about medical stuff less often.”

  64. Karen*

    Re LW2 – I once worked for a woman who insisted I could not use my given name in the office because it would be too confusing (there would have been three “Tiffanys”. I can tell you it affected my whole outlook I. The time I was in that job, never being able to present as “myself.” Names matter.

      1. Scandinavian Vacationer*

        LW#2: How about inserting an “alias” in your email system/webpage that gets directed to the individual inbox? It is an extra layer that could be labeled something like “inquiries for emergency X” so that when Arya is out, someone else can cover this function. The replies can come directly from an individual inbox/phone extension, per your regulatory guidance. Ask your IT business analyst–this should not be a difficult fix.

          1. crookedfinger*

            Damn…no one wants to duel anymore. :( I’ve suggested this to like 3 different name-doubles in my office and no one’s been interested.

          2. Matilda Jefferies*

            Actually, I think you’ve hit on the perfect solution! You *should* call yourself the Uber Arya, which would not only be awesome, but would clearly distinguish you from the Lesser Arya. ;)

            (NB obviously do not actually do this.)

  65. Anon 12*

    My sister-in-law has nickname to this day that was given to her 40 years ago. She started a new job as an admin and the office manager said, I always wanted an admin named Sam. I’m going to call you Sam”. It stuck but it’s sort of horrifying now to think about some small time boss guy naming her the way you would pick a name for a new pet. It qualifies her as a Me Too.

    I would be offended to have a new boss tell or even ask me to go by my last name. Add an initial Sam B, new Sam, whatever. It happens all the time. I worked with two Brians on a small team and one became Y Bryan and the other I Brian.

  66. OP2*

    Ok! Update!

    Thank you all for your thoughtful comments. And also thanks also to those who left mean ones. The perception that I am a rampaging unreasonable jerk is what I am trying to avoid here, and of course I won’t be able to explain the nuanced safety concerns I have to each individual who forms an opinion. It is pretty clear that Stark and I need to be on the same page for a variety of reasons.

    I spoke to Stark today (Stark is still on-boarding) and explained my biggest fears about us getting mixed up and vital, urgent information being lost. This seemed to hit home a bit more, since the other Arya at Stark’s previous job was in the same role as her, and the issue was less pressing. I asked Stark to be sure when leaving messages or responding to outside folks to be sure to use her full name, her job title, or a last initial so that when the outside person calls back, they don’t get lost in my voicemail or email. The other person “Sansa” in Stark’s job classification often tells outside folks just to “call and ask for the (job title)” which works really well.

    I told Stark I will do the same thing, differentiating myself from her.

    I will also put a note on my outgoing voicemail for how to get in touch with the (Stark’s job title) for immediate assistance, or 911 after hours.

    Honestly, I love working with Stark and though some commenters questioned whether the name was a deal-breaker, it is absolutely not! Stark has been doing excellent so far and I’m so glad we hired her, Arya or not!

    I’m hopeful that re-emphasizing WHY I’m concerned about there being two Arya’s will drive home the need to clearly distinguish between us in a way that makes her extra sure to differentiate between us.

    Thank you all for helping me figure out a way to address this in a way that is empathetic, safe, and clear!

    1. fposte*

      Thanks for the update, OP; this sounds great! I’m glad you and she were open to finding ways to work this out that were good for both of you and your organization.

    2. Matilda Jeffries*

      So you’re not going with Uber Arya after all? Darn it. ;)

      Sounds like you came up with a great solution, and I’m glad to hear it’s working out!

    3. Escapee from Corporate Management*

      That’s a great solution. Thank you also for clarifying the original situation–it certainly made me see your dilemma in a different perspective.

  67. Ladycrim*

    I also share a first name with a co-worker – and, since I got married two years ago, we now have the same last initial as well. The fact that we’re in different offices helps, but we still sometimes need to forward e-mails meant for the other person. (And yes, repeat offenders do get a polite “Hi, you’re sending emails meant for Circe Stark to Circe Sims” notice.) Overall, though, it’s more a mild irritant than a real issue. I realize the LW said that others in the office go by just their last name, but overall that strikes me as a way to be condescending to a subordinate. (“Stark, get in here!”) I really think she’s worrying over nothing.

    1. Ladycrim*

      And of course I posted this right before I read the update. Her concerns are a bit clearer now.

  68. Beancounter in Texas*

    Diabetic coworker OP here –

    I missed Alison’s email about her answer being posted on Tuesday. It may appear that I want to force her to go to the doctor, but I know I cannot force her to do anything and I simply want to encourage her. I got the guts to refer my coworker to my own endocrinologist. I told her that if she decides to see an endo, I recommend this one, but I know I can’t force her, and I only refer her to this one if she wants to go.

    She then confessed to me that she’s sending her lab results to an old trusted doctor in another state for his opinion. I’m going to drop the topic with her, but I’ll keep her in mind when it comes to our department luncheons and birthday celebrations, encouraging a sugar-free option next to the traditional birthday cake and bringing something good for diabetics that isn’t a salad (she mentioned getting tired of salads all the time).

  69. Out of the box thinker.*

    I actually disagree with Alison on insisting this is a one time only bring it up. Id make it conditional on if you see it impacting the job, you reserve the right to bring it up again.
    I would recommend pointing out that untreated/self treated diabetes can cause faints/comas has led to fatal car crashes. Maybe some of the lawyers on this page can say whether or not LW’s knowledge of the person’s condition opens her or the company to liability if the employee has an accident and it comes out that they didnt report it.

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