I shared career tips and some favorite letters with A Practical Wedding

As you might imagine, I hear about a lot of bad office behavior… which is great for me, because I love stories of people doing awkward, ridiculous, or outright insane things. But sometimes it can be hard to judge whether what’s going on around you is reasonable or normal. Sometimes a toxic office environment can warp your judgment and throw off your norms, making it really hard to tell whether what’s happening around you is okay or very, very not okay. Sometimes you might even be the perpetrator of the not okay.

I wrote a piece for A Practical Wedding that offers some rules for how not to be a terrible employee … pulling lessons from a decade of letters about the good, the bad, and the horrific in workplaces. (If you’re a regular reader, you’ll recognize some of my examples. The magic curses, the mad hugger, and other classic letters get discussed.) You can read it here.

{ 37 comments… read them below }

  1. Justme*

    Yes to the first one, especially since we have had a few examples recently about people who cannot get along with people they work with. You don’t have to hang out on the weekends, but you have to treat them like human beings.

  2. Detective Amy Santiago*

    I was expecting this to be advice about how to handle your wedding in the workplace based on the name of the website. Fun read!

    1. Lil Fidget*

      Which actually could be a column! I’d like to read that. I feel like people bring their wedding in to the office waay more than necessary.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        I’m pretty sure Alison did a post that was a catchall about wedding stuff here at some point. I’ll have to poke around and see if I can find it.

  3. Amber Rose*

    God I love that story about setting the paperwork on fire.

    I think the flip side to the advice to ask for help is to try and be aware if other people need help. Like, it’s pretty obvious to me when a coworker has been stress-vomiting. Good things have happened when I try to help people who are suffering.

    1. paul*

      we’re in the process of an audit and an accreditation at the same time.

      You have no idea how badly I want to take all the damn paperwork for this and burn it. Of course it’s all digital now so it wouldn’t be as glorious…maybe some tannerite with all our hard drives….

      1. Bryce*

        Back where I grew up every year the town built a 50-foot tall marionette named Zozobra, and folks would fill it with this sort of stress paperwork that they were done with. Divorce papers and finished mortgages were popular. Then we’d burn the guy to start off the town’s birthday festival. Wonderfully cathartic.

        Has to be stuff you’ve finished though. My college did it with thesises too, you print off an extra copy for the bonfire when you turn your final draft in.

        1. Tobias Funke*

          Yayyyyy Zozobra <3

          (I live and work in the neighboring large city and this year Zozobra fell on a holiday. Deadass someone looked at me and was like, they made Zozobra a holiday!)

      2. Artemesia*

        I had to run a hunk of an accreditation (our department’s part). Our Dean told the central admin that their plans were inadequate that we now had to do A B and C which required much more work than previous years. They dismissed her concerns and of course the accreditation was rejected and we had to resubmit. The rejection came in early December. The revised version was due in early January. So although we had been insisting the process should be changed and overruled, there we were over what was usually a break getting the thing done.

    2. Artemesia*

      Every once in awhile a postal worker is discovered to have 5 years of mail in his attic or bags are discovered undelivered in a ditch. I wouldn’t be surprised if this sort of work product vandalism is more common than we suspect.

    1. Robbie*

      May she have a full recovery, and end up working at a lovely place where people respect that when you are doing CHEMO, you want privacy.
      May the manager who is toad-slime be fired after higher powers that be hear of his terribleness.

  4. Specialk9*

    Why is the picture one of a young woman checking her phone, fully clothed, in a half sized bathtub, with the word Orca and little fish on the wall, and fake waves? I’m… Utterly bemused here.

    (I figure not Alison’s decision, it’s just baffling me.)

  5. Specialk9*

    Clicking the links on that article was wonderful. The janitor who was cursing co-workers with magic? The guy who sent his boss to Naples Italy instead of Florida? Classic.

    1. BlueWolf*

      I heard about an assistant at my company sending their boss across the country for a meeting that had been canceled. Needless to say they don’t work here anymore…

    2. beanie beans*

      I had missed the Naples one a while back. WOW. Getting there and it taking a while to realize you were in the WRONG COUNTRY. I picture the hiring process for his replacement including “Attention to detail” in it. A few times.

  6. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    “Be a decent person.” Such a simple concept, and yet so rare in practice.

  7. LeRainDrop*

    I really enjoyed this collection! I hadn’t read the letter about the full-body hugger before. Some people . . . smh.

  8. Sara*

    Re: #1, I’m curious. Where’s the line drawn when you don’t get along with your coworker…because they are abrasive, rude, or otherwise essentially violating number one themselves? If you have a coworker who treats the people around them badly across the board and have not responded to feedback saying they need to work on their attitude and interpersonal skills, how much effort do you need to put into getting along with them? I have one such coworker, and do my best to just put on a smile and let their comments fly over my head, but one only has so much energy for that kind of emotional labor. What do you do when the effort to get along is not reciprocated?

    1. Coffee*

      The basic minimum and no more. But you really do need to take the high road… preferably the high road to a new job.

  9. Safely Retired*

    Good stuff (of course). One thing I did notice…
    7 Career Tips…
    8. Know when to advocate for yourself.


          1. Footiepjs*

            And somehow I got the impression that there were going to be 10 items and I was surprised when I got to the end. I really wasn’t paying attention.

  10. Say what, now?*

    If the hugger’s boss is still reading this site it would be great to know if the hugging resumed (hopefully not) after the employee came back from her medical leave. Even though it’s been 5 years it’s an extraordinary enough faux pas that we’re all still interested to know if the single chat was all it took. Fingers crossed for you and your volunteers it was!

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