open thread – November 17-18, 2017

It’s the Friday open thread! The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on anything work-related that you want to talk about. If you want an answer from me, emailing me is still your best bet*, but this is a chance to talk to other readers.

* If you submitted a question to me recently, please don’t repost it here, as it may be in the to-be-answered queue.

{ 1,402 comments… read them below }

  1. Santa's Bag Of Goodies*

    I left a job in the spring for a new job but I was thinking about my old work as the holidays roll around. I’ve been debating sending a gift to my old office (an Edible Arrangement or some other kind of food basket, they were always a big hit in my old office because it was a rare treat) to let them know I’m still thinking of them.

    However several of my friends are against it. One said that if I do it this year, this first holiday season that I’m not there, then I’m committing myself to sending them a gift for the rest of forever. That if I stop giving them a holiday basket, they’ll think I’ve decided not to be friendly with them anymore. Another said it looks too much like a bribe to be a good reference in the future.

    I do genuinely want to send them something to keep in touch. The team wasn’t big on cards so that would be easily glossed over; but sending a basket of edibles would make them so happy. Should I go for it or just let it go?

    1. Meg*

      I think that this is a nice gesture that will be well-taken with your former coworkers. If you left on good terms, then it’s not a bribe, it’s just a gift. And there’s certainly nothing making you do it yearly – what are they going to do if you stop, ignore you in the office? Do it! I think it’s sweet.

    2. Lisa B*

      I’m with your friends but for different reasons. Unless y’all were REALLY close, it would be odd to get a substantial gift from a former employee. I know you said they weren’t big on cards, but I do think that’s a good idea. “Thinking of you all and hoping things are well!” is a nice short and sweet message. You could also do an e-mail just to your old boss expressing about the same sentiment. Keeping in touch is very important (when you need references again down the road), but you don’t have to send “a thing” to do that.

      1. Natalie*

        I don’t know that I would consider a food basket or Edible Arrangements thing a substantial gift? There are a lot of inexpensive options for both.

    3. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      You’ll have to be the judge of the culture of your office, but everywhere I’ve worked this would be a nice gesture with no downside.

    4. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I think that in general it’s understood that a “Miss you!” message is most appropriate shortly after a separation, and doesn’t obligate you to keep gifting. You miss someone/something most when you first separate, and generally it gets easier as time passes.

      I’d probably do it, but I’m pretty friendly with a lot of my team, even outside of work.

      1. Say what, now?*

        Yes, I agree with Cosmic Avenger. The short length of time since the separation is what makes this appropriate. If more than, say, 6 months have passed I wouldn’t do it. But it sounds like you’ve only just left and they probably still miss you as well. Even if it’s only in the “I wish Santa was still here so that we didn’t have such a heavy workload” way, it would be a kind gesture to show that you cared about them.

    5. Chiffon*

      I don’t think that’s so out of line – I’m in a similar position (left long time job in the spring and miss my old buds) and have been thinking of sending over some holiday treats. I’m not at all worried about setting up some expectation that it’ll happen forever and I don’t think you should be either.

    6. Observer*

      I think you’re overthinking this. I can’t imagine that a food basket to an entire office would be seen as a bribe. And looking at that a commitment? That’s just odd to me.

    7. k.k*

      I think it’s a nice thought, assuming it would fit with the culture of the office and your relationships there. I wouldn’t think anyone would expect you to keep sending them forever. If a former employee did that at any of the jobs I’ve ever had, it would be met with “Aw how nice!”, and only positive reactions.

    8. Wakeen's Hanukkah Balls, Inc.*

      A card could be very well-received. I actually did that for a former employer, and they all wrote me a note back and signed it. Go for it!

    9. Susanne*

      Your friend’s comment doesn’t make any sense. Just because you do it one year doesn’t mean you’re committing yourself to sending a gift forever, or that failing to do so will be seen as a “snub.” He is far, far overstating the amount of thought people devote to this kind of thing. They’ll enjoy the treats when they are there, and they aren’t going to devote a minute’s worth of thought next year when they aren’t there. Do it or don’t, that’s your call, but it’s not a permanent commitment.

    10. periwinkle*

      If that fits in the old culture, it would be a lovely gesture! No sane workplace will see this as a permanent expectation and obligation from you; if they weren’t a sane workplace, you wouldn’t be considering sending a gift, right?

      I used to work for a tiny business with an owner and about a dozen employees. I still send them a holiday card when I remember to send out cards. No obligations expressed, implied, or even under consideration!

    11. Not So NewReader*

      I think it’s fine.
      When my husband passed his former bosses sent me Christmas cards for the next two Christmases. I was very touched. I did not expect them to continue doing that.
      It’s a classy gesture on your part. Most people are savvy enough to understand that this is not a yearly thing. I sincerely doubt the ENTIRE group would expect you to do it again next year.

      If you are still having doubts, then find a very nice card and sent it to the group instead.

    12. Anon today...and tomorrow*

      One of my former co-workers sends a special treat to our office every Thanksgiving. She hasn’t worked here in over 3 years. Nobody expects her to send it. We’re always so surprised. She sends a sweet “I miss you guys! Enjoy!” note in with her gift every year and every year we email her our thanks.

    13. Amy*

      I agree with others that if you want to do it you should. And honestly, come next Christmas are people likely to even remember that you sent one the previous year and expect another? Maybe I have a terrible memory but I wouldn’t track something like that…unless it was something outrageous like a fleet of new of cars or something.

    14. Koko*

      I could see a former employee in my office doing this.

      The two most salient details for our office’s culture around this are 1) that we have a high degree of camaraderie on staff, low turnover, and folks who move on usually leave on good terms and stay in touch, and 2) that we get a ton of gift baskets at year ends from vendors and the like, and employees frequently bring in treats and leave them out in common spaces to share.

      So a gift basket is normal and the workplace is harmonious enough that a thinking-of-you gift from a former employee would just get an, “oh, how thoughtful!” response.

      If you don’t have that kind of harmonious environment among coworkers/departed employees, or treats/baskets are unusual in your workplace, it might stand out and come across more oddly.

  2. Claire*

    What questions would you ask when interviewing your (potential) new boss? My current boss is retiring, and interviews to replace the position are happening soon. If you were sitting down with candidates for your bosses’ position, what would be the big things you’d want to know? What would you ask them?

    1. KK*

      I would consider the style of management that your current boss has that affect your job the most. For example, if you frequently email reports to your current boss for approval, and he responds within 10 minutes, I would ask your potential boss what his preferred communication method is. Is he good with email? Does he prefer phone calls?

      Just make a mental list of the ways in which you interact with your boss, that could differ from person to person.

      1. Anion*

        Ooh, yes, communication styles is a big one, and I’d add to that how *much* communication they want/expect, and how they return it. I’ve never interviewed a boss but I have “interviewed” potential agents, and I’ve given advice to aspiring-writer friends on that subject, and it’s a big one for me; if you’re someone who wants or needs lots of feedback, you need to be aware that you’re working with someone whose style is “Assume all is well unless I say differently,” for example (and vice versa). Or if you’re a “I’ll tell you when it’s done,” person, you might have difficulty with a manager who wants constant updates (and vice versa).

        I’d also be interested in what a potential boss’s philosophy is wrt the business you’re in, as well. What do they think the goal is? At the end of the day, what are they most proud to have accomplished at work–like, do they go home happy that they’ve made customers happy, or happy that they’ve made stockholders happy, or happy that they’ve made employees happy?

        What do they think makes a cohesive team? How do they facilitate that?

        How important is team loyalty, both upward and downward? Maybe give an example of a time they’ve gone to bat for one of their reports, and why they felt it as important to do so. How do they see their role wrt their direct reports vs. upper management (are they a liaison willing to convey their team’s ideas/thoughts/feedback, or do they simply see their job as conveying the wishes of upper mgmnt to their team and getting the team to carry out those wishes)?

        Maybe think of a time when they didn’t handle something well, and why, and what they would do differently now; or an example of a time they were managed badly and what they wish their manager had done.

    2. Longtime Listener, First time Caller*

      – How does she measure success?
      – What qualities does she like in her boss?
      – Does she view her role as also a mentorship position i.e., will she help you with upward mobility?
      – What is her vision for the organization she’ll be leading?

      I think it would also be a good ideas to ask for examples of how she has implemented different skills she says she has.

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      I’d ask this person what practical steps she takes to make sure she isn’t either micromanaging or having no idea what her direct reports are up to. Also, what her preferred communication modes (email, phone, in person, text message) are and in which situations.

    4. Jimbo*

      What drives you crazy in a colleague or a direct report?
      What two achievements are you most proud of in your career?
      Can you describe a time or incident when a direct report was not meeting goals or expectations and how you handled it?

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        This last one is what I would most want to ask. Ask how they handle difficult employees, because anyone can manage a superstar! You’ll find out how they will treat you if they ever feel you need to improve on something or fell short on something, and that’s pretty important.

      2. Alexandra Duane*

        Absolutely the #1 thing that drives me crazy in a colleague, a direct report, or a supervisor is telling me to my face that everything is fine, then trash-talking behind my back. It’s weasely and cowardly, solves no problems, and exacerbates all kinds of problems.
        I spent 21 years in the military, so explaining the achievements I’m proudest of would take a lot of background explanation, but I’ll just say that they involved either completing a complex task that resulted in an improvement in the organization as a whole, or turning around a “problem” subordinate into a productive Soldier.
        In the military, handling a situation where you need a Soldier to make improvement is a process that progresses from informal correction, through written counseling, to (worst-case scenario) processing the Soldier for separation from the service. We always used a process of stating or re-stating the standard of job performance, detailing with objective measurements how the Soldier had not achieved the standard, making a plan to improve, and stating the consequences if there was no improvement. People will always be more invested in a plan if they have input, so even if we knew what we needed the plan to include, we would give the Soldier a chance to articulate what they would do to improve. Goal-setting always involved “SMART” goals – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-linked.

    5. Jillociraptor*

      In addition to the great ideas already shared around management style and preferences, I also like to ask how they make decisions, and how they set/evaluate goals. If you ask those questions, it’s also helpful in parallel to think about what kinds of answers would work well for you personally and your organization (and the answers might be different!).

    6. Aphrodite*

      Among the ones I’d ask–anywhere from three to six of them–would be one or two scenarios from AAM that I had personal feelings about, perhaps ones that might potentially come up in the potential position. I wouldn’t use any excessively weird ones, but we all have ones that hit particular notes for us in our professional lives. See how the potential boss would handle it (because it should give you at least some insight into how a difficult situation would be handled). Also, maybe ask what they do for the holidays. Are they accommodating of time off requests or do they want all hands on board without really needing them. Is it seniority only?

      Thinking about how the boss handles these and other situations is a good indication how they handle work in general.

    7. Not Today Satan*

      I saw think on Linkedin today (posted by someone named Ify Walker– she blogs about this stuff so I don’t think she’l mind sharing). I don’t know if I’d be comfortable asking all of them in an interview and would maybe save some for after an offer, but I think overall they’re great:

      1. How and when will I receive advice about career development and career advancement?

      2. How do you give advice on how to navigate organizational politics? Can you provide examples of the last three people you advised re: org politics. What was the advice?

      3. Who in the organization is most often nominated for opportunities? Examples, please.

      4. Could you share an example of a time when you had to defend the work of someone on your team? Who was it?

      5. How are stretch assignments assigned in this organization? What were the last three stretch assignments you assigned — whom did they go to?

      6. Who are your top leaders? Where do they go after they leave you?

        1. Not Today Satan*

          I think the question asking about a time they’ve helped someone navigate organizational politics is also a great way to get at the level of toxicity/drama/etc at the organization.

    8. ThisIsNotWhoYouThinkItIs*

      1) How do you assess your team’s workload and utilization?
      2) Can you give me a time where you assessed and assigned your team’s workload and how you made the decision to give which projects to who?
      3) Tell me about a time that you had a disagreement in approach to a problem with one of your reports/staff. How did you handle that conflict?
      4) How and when do you provide your team feedback? Can you give me some examples in the scope of a project and a yearly review?

      For me I’m always looking for a manager that will let me ask questions and will listen if I have a true issue with a decision (I really only push back on ones I think are made without all the info, so we’re talking 2x a year or less). I’m also looking for a boss that doesn’t overload their high-performing reports at the expense of low performers (unless there are rewards for being a high performer or they are managing the low performers out).

      I’d make sure if there’s something you really like or really hate about your current manager’s style you ask about it in a tactful way.

    9. ChemMoose*

      I recently did interviewed and hired my boss. I followed advice from Alison:

      Other notes
      1. Make sure to ask the same questions of all the candidates. This seems silly, but it makes it REALLY easy to compare styles when talking in a group later. (I also wrote all the answers down).
      2. If the candidate is younger/ not expected to have much experience, ask them “What do you like about your current boss’s management style? What don’t you like about it?”
      3. STAR questions are great (Tell me about a time when …) – you managed a team/project?

  3. SuccessFail*

    Has anyone ever left their job for another job that’s less stressful, possibly with a pay cut, for health reasons?
    I’ve been having increasing health issues, most notably worsening anxiety and depression leading to other health problems and 3 separate doctors have told me that my health issues are work stress related, and I should strongly consider looking for another job. My dilemma is that I’ve been at my job 2.5 years, and was at my previous job 2.5 years as well. I don’t want to look like a job hopper, and would like to stay in my field so that my resume makes sense. I don’t want my resume to look like I have taken a demotion, but need to leave this job. I realize that my anxiety makes me very eager to please, so I end up taking on more than I can handle, and my job then won’t let me revisit responsibilities, because they are used to me being the office mule (started this job with one program, now managing 4 programs with no support, which makes me appear very successful in the short run, but leads to burnout, panic attacks, hives, etc.).
    Also, with the depression, I am not really enthusiastic about any job, which makes job searching more challenging, and makes me more anxious! I live alone with no partner (to help support me) or children (that I have to support).
    I have applied for FMLA to give me room to think through some of these things, and am considering working with a career counselor. Has anyone else had to make this decision? How did you make this decision? Did you stay at your job with accommodations, or leave entirely?

    1. Meg*

      I’ve done it – went from a office job that was worsening my anxiety and depression and causing me to have panic attacks to a job at a bookstore/coffee shop. My therapist highly recommended I get out of there.

      It paid the bills and I was actually functional both in and out of work. I was pretty much convinced I was good for nothing, and having a job at a bookstore/coffee shop gave me immediate tasks that I could achieve. I did well, got praise, and have moved back into office jobs. I still don’t love it, but I have a lot more tools to manage them and to manage me.

      Good luck. I honestly think that if your doctors are recommending you leave, then leave. Find some kind of job and put yourself back together.

      1. emalia*

        Similar experience…
        I had a job that left me unable to function from anxiety. Medication helped, but I knew I needed to change jobs. My subsequent job still had “Director” in the title, but it was definitely a step (maybe multiple steps) down and a pretty significant pay cut.
        However, I built my confidence in that job. While my previous job was filled with kind people, they had a number of unhealthy opinions about work load and expectations. I was able to reset my mentality about work, see my strengths and weaknesses, and build my confidence. I was promoted 2x at that organization. I’ve since left and returned to my original field with much better work habits and healthier ways of thinking about work.

    2. Bye Academia*

      My situation was a little different, because the job giving me so much anxiety was a contract position. I only stayed as long as I did because there was an end in sight. But retrospectively, I wish I had left early. The difference in my health and happiness is night and day.

      In my opinion, as long as what you are being paid is enough for you to live on without worrying about money, a low stress job is worth gold. For me, that means a job with a 35-40 hour work week, during which I will work very hard (uhhh except for my AAM breaks), but there is no expectation of working from home. Try to think through what it means for you, and look for jobs like that.

      So go for it! And keep and mind that the sooner you start job hunting, the easier it will be to wait for a good fit. Try not to take a job that will also stress you out just because you’re desperate to leave the one you have.

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      I’ve done it not even for health reasons, just because the previous job was a toxic work environment. Not sure what field you’re in, but I wouldn’t consider 2.5 years followed by 2.5 years to be job hopping. That may vary by industry, of course.

      I don’t want my resume to look like I have taken a demotion, but need to leave this job.

      I don’t know that it always works out this way for people, but one time I did it, I left a job where I was Asst. Director of something to be a Receptionist. Later on I was a Director somewhere. Now I’m an Analyst. Not everything is a straight trajectory, career-wise.

      1. KatiePie*

        Ditto on the trajectory. I went from Director to Supervisor to Analyst. However, the pay from Director to Supervisor was virtually the same (went from nonprofit to private sector). Then the move from Supervisor to Analyst was a huge jump (small floundering company to medium sized & successful). I seem to have hit the sweet spot on pay and responsibilities. So very glad I took that weird first leap to get out of nonprofit (not my jam).

    4. 2 Cents*

      2.5 years each in two jobs won’t make you look like a job hopper, in my opinion.

      Is there another company in your industry that may have a job for you? It wouldn’t necessarily be a demotion, then, if that company actually believes in supporting its people.

      Also, take care of yourself first. As a long-time sufferer of both anxiety and depression, no job is worth ruining your health over. I used to have a 3-hour roundtrip commute to a job that just got worse and worse (When I quit, my boss actually said “sorry we couldn’t give you a raise in the last 4 years, but we gave you more responsibilities and job duties, so at least you got more experience” !?!). I changed to a job in a completely different industry with a more reasonable commute and have never second-guessed my decision. My anxiety and depression eased (plus I was able to actually make my therapy appointments!) and my debilitating migraines stopped.

    5. Frank Doyle*

      Two consecutive 2.5-year jobs would not be considered “job hopping” by most people. Do what you need to do for your health, it is literally the most important thing. Taking a break to re-set your health sounds like a fantastic idea.

    6. MuseumChick*

      Echoing the others 2.5 years at each job won’t make you look like a job hopper. It’s increasingly common for people to move on to new jobs after about 2 – 3 years.

    7. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      Yes. I made this exact decision (also because of anxiety).

      For a lot of reasons, my last role wasn’t a good fit: I worked remotely; the organization had a very hard-driving/urgent/go-go-g0 culture; I took over a role that was ill-defined (and while some folks would thrive with the opportunity I had to create that role, at that moment in my life I wasn’t as successful as I wanted to be or the org needed me to be); my manager had micromanaging tendencies (and my anxiety created a cycle with this — I was anxious because of her micromanagement, and so I performed worse and worried about running everything by ger, so she kept up the micromanagement, etc.). It was a shame, because I loved the mission, my actual work, my colleagues — and it was by far the most I’d been paid.

      I decided to leave, but if I hadn’t I suspect I would have been coached out — I found my current job before we got to that point. The job I left for was a very significant step back in title and pay (it was a 37% pay cut; my current org is much larger and uses a very different title structure so it’s hard to compare, but it was at least one step down in the hierarchy, maybe two)… and I haven’t regretted it for a moment. I traded money away to buy more health, peace, calm, and enjoyment.

      (I’ll take a moment to note that I was able to absorb the financial hit for two reasons: 1) My husband earns a lot more than I do, so my income doesn’t play as big of a role in our finances as it would otherwise and 2) I’m financially pretty healthy/lucky so I could have survived regardless).

      I was clearly overqualified for the position, but I was able to talk about why I wanted to come here in my cover letter and interview. (I just looked back at my cover letter, and I didn’t actually address my overqualification directly — I just was very clear about why I wanted this role specifically and connected that to the experiences that had helped prepare me for it.)

      In general, I think of applications as an opportunity to create a narrative about myself and experience that leads to the role I’m applying for as a natural next step. That’s the frame I use to curate what experience I highlight, what examples I give in a cover letter, how I talk about my work, and so on. My experience has been somewhat varied, but it makes sense within the story that I tell about what drives the professional choices I’ve made.

      Phew, this got long. I hope it’s helpful, but if not I’m happy to answer any other more specific questions here.

    8. I Didn’t Kill Kenny*

      I once had a maddening eye tic. Stopped as soon as I left stressful job. My husband was able to get off high blood pressure meds after leaving his stressful job.

      Life is short. If your doctors are telling you to leave m, it’s way past time to go.

      Good luck!

    9. k.k*

      I have and it was well worth it. As for addressing the perceived demotion on your resume, there are many ways to explain that. My method was to find something from my previous role that sort of related to what I was applying to, and focus on that. For me, I was going from a more project focused role to an admin/office manager in the same industry. I said something like that I really loved the industry, and while I enjoyed my last job I found that the portions I really excelled at and enjoyed where the behind the scenes logistics, and I’m looking for a position where I can really focus on those types of things. I think that addressed the fear that I would become bored by the menial tasks of this lower level job, by saying head on that I actually enjoy handling the nitty gritty details.

      If the jobs you’re looking at are really a huge step down, you could also say that you’re looking for a better “work life balance”.

    10. LA*

      I did this, and it was absolutely worth every penny I wasn’t making anymore. My blood pressure dropped almost instantly, and my depression improved dramatically over time (many fewer depressive periods in a year). Make sure any new job you get will pay enough to live off of, and you’ll be much better off. Your health is your life, and your life is worth more in the long run than slightly higher pay.

      It might also help to remind yourself, moving forward, not to commit to projects without assurances of backup/support, because that’s actively bad for your health. Letting yourself say no or at least negotiating what you’ll give up so that you can do a shiny new project is going to be just as important to improving your health as any new job you take.

    11. anonykins*

      I left my previous position that paid VERY well in an extremely low cost of living area for a $5000 paycut in medium-high cost of living area. To put it in perspective, my partner and I previously lived on only my income AND saved double what we are saving now with both of us working. I also had a stipulation in my contract (yes, a real contract) about my notice period that meant I had to quit before I had another job lined up, although I had started the search.

      But it was 100% worth it. I was overworked and starting to get stress-related symptoms, and I felt that management didn’t have my back in some key ways that really mattered (some of it was just expectations of the industry in general, but some of it was this particular employer). I have depression, and it was getting a lot worse the longer I stayed at the job. I also literally couldn’t think or talk about anything else…what is the point of making enough money that your partner stays home to spend more time with you if all of your ‘quality’ time is consumed by work talk?

      I used to (and still do, more than I’d like) put a lot of emphasis on what seemed like the right career trajectory and how successful I “should” be by X age. But I have learned that, while I cannot work a job that I really don’t care about and prefer to do something with a mission I believe in, I also cannot work a soul-sucking job that consumes every moment of my consciousness. Being able to work a job that I care about but has regular hours and a normal workload is certainly worth the huge pay cut I took.

    12. LO*

      I had a very stressful job and chose to stay because I thought I needed it.
      I did not take care of myself in that job and became miserable and sick the longer I stayed.
      I was eventually hospitalized. You know what that job did after they knew I was sick and nearly died? They laid me off and cancelled my health insurance during my recovery period.

      On the bright side, after I left that job, I got another job through a temp agency and took a paycut to survive. Kept looking for other work and found my current job, who hired me knowing I was only at my previous job for 10 months.

      You do NOT have to suffer for 2.5 years at a job that’s making you physically sick and anxious. There is always a way. It may take awhile and the task of job searching might be daunting, but there is always better somewhere else. Take care of you first and be kind to yourself. And always remember that you will be OK no matter what you do. :-)

      Be well.

      PS. I started taking Theanine to help me manage my anxiety and I cannot say enough good things about it.
      I’m like a totally different person!

      1. Windchime*

        I posted my story below but forgot to mention that I am also on medication. I’ve taken medication for anxiety and depression for many years, but this is the first time that I’ve ever felt that I am on the right type of medication at the right dose. It feels so good to be free of the debilitating anxiety. I didn’t even realize how bad it had gotten until I literally couldn’t sleep and all I did was cry. I feel like a new person now.

    13. MI Dawn*

      I’m actually doing now. I’ve stayed with the same employer, but changed jobs – usually an advance – several times. But this change in a few weeks will be a drop in level and pay. Less stress because it’s an area I will know and understand much better than my current one, and has a lot of potential down the road.

      I also have depression. Currently controlled with non-medical means, using medical accommodation (extra work from home days, a bit of a flexible schedule). One of my triggers is too little sleep, which means starting the new job, with every day in the office for several months and the attendant commute, will be a push and I have my friends alerted to let me know if I need meds. FMLA is a good things. I’ve never used a career counselor, but I’ve heard good and bad things.

      Best of luck to you.

    14. Ann*

      Leave – no job is worth your health.

      I was in a similar situation – high stress job, toxic boss, overworked – I tried to stay the obligatory 2 years, but I just couldn’t stand it anymore – not only was my blood pressure high, I was having anxiety issues as well, which affected my sleep. PLUS a long commute on top of that!

      When I left, my blood pressure dropped 20 points, anxiety went down, sleep went back to normal. And yes, I took a pay cut to escape. It’s not my dream job, and I’m still keeping an eye out, but at least that constant pressure-pressure-pressure is gone.

      Best of luck!

    15. MilkMoon (UK)*

      Yep! I have anxiety. My second-to-last job turned toxic as hell after three years and I was waking up in tears at 2am every night for MONTHS, I ended up walking out (finally snapped on a Friday, wrote my resignation letter on the Saturday, went in to clear out my desk on Monday, handed my letter in and walked out right then). The job I ended up with after that brought back the panic attacks I hadn’t had since I was 17 (early thirties now and this was last year) – I left that one after five months. So I made the conscious decision to work out the lowest salary I needed (to pay my bills with a little extra for actual living & saving) and prioritised the environment I needed in a workplace. It was a wonderful decision – I took a generous paycut to work in a quiet customer service (office based) role for a good company with good people, I never dread going to work or my reviews – in fact I look forward to my reviews and I like knowing I’m going to have a good laugh at work every day.

      Please do it! You can’t put a price on your health <3

    16. NewJobWendy*

      I was in a similar situation – my mental and physical health issues were directly caused by the job I was in. (I was working with a therapist). I got a new job and took and $8,000 pay cut. I’m almost 3 months into the new job and I’m a brand new person. I barely even recognize myself, and I’m so happy. I had to stop saving for retirement because my budget is tight, but what use is retirement if I’m dead by 60 due to work stress? (Note, I DO plan to pick up saving for retirement again next year once I get a raise, but I’m young so there’s time to make up for it). The math can be hard but I’m such a better person.

      I also had similar concerns re: job hopping. My track record at my 3 previous jobs was 1 yr, 1 yr, and 2 yrs – and I still did OK for myself. Interviewers were less concerned about why I had left each job so quickly and more concerned with “what would make me stay at my next job for 3 or more years”? I had a well prepared answer to that (opportunities for professional growth/advancement and good work life balance) and I really DO hope to stay at my current company for more than 3 years!

      Keep working with your healthcare team. and doing whatever you need to do to improve your work habits to generate good work-life balance. If you repeat the same behaviors at the new job, you will end up with the same challenges. That’s the biggest lesson I took away from last workplace.

      I did not work with a career counselor, but if you want to stay in your field, find some good recruiters and work with them. I have been placed at my current and previous 2 jobs through recruitment / staffing firms.

      1. NewJobWendy*

        Note – “I was working with a therapist” means receiving treatment, not that my job was with a therapist :)

      2. Jimbo*

        Oh! I am in somewhat the same boat where my last three jobs were 2 years, 2 years, 11 months. Your paragraph resonated with me:

        “I also had similar concerns re: job hopping. My track record at my 3 previous jobs was 1 yr, 1 yr, and 2 yrs – and I still did OK for myself. Interviewers were less concerned about why I had left each job so quickly and more concerned with “what would make me stay at my next job for 3 or more years”? I had a well prepared answer to that (opportunities for professional growth/advancement and good work life balance) and I really DO hope to stay at my current company for more than 3 years!.”

        I am curious how the interviewers raised the short term tenure issue with you and how you sussed out that their real concern was not why you left the jobs quickly but more what would make you stay longer? I am getting this exact question in my recent interviews and although I have memorized an answer to anticipate it, I would like to steer the conversation towards what it will take me to stay longer than 2 years.

        1. NewJobWendy*

          “I am curious how the interviewers raised the short term tenure issue with you and how you sussed out that their real concern was not why you left the jobs quickly but more what would make you stay longer? ”

          They explicitly framed asked “What would it take to make you stay more than 2 to 3 years?”. There was of course discussion about why I changed roles but all of that involved changing careers followed by out of state family obligations, so I think it’s really about being able to tell your story well, and have a clear understanding of what WILL keep you at a job.

          I think you can steer the conversation that way, though, if they start digging into your reasons for moving around. You can either find a way to insert it in that portion of the conversation or when they get to the “do you have questions” part you can be forthright and say “It seems like you have concerns about my longevity. I’d like to let you know that my goal is to find an employer I can grow with and stay with for 3 or more years….to do that I would need X….Do you think this position / your company aligns with those needs?”

          My latest recruiter gave me great advice, which is don’t talk in interviews about what you’re trying to move away from. Talk about what you want to move towards.

      3. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

        I really like this advice re: what it would take to stay 3 yrs at next role. Even if its not explicitly asked, its something to consider and probably work into the answer somewhere.

        I was in a highly-stressful role on contract for 18 months and took a role in a more laid back culture, but no pay cut. I knew the work may not be challenging enough and I was right – a year in and I am so bored I look jealously at a friend with a high-stress undefined corporate role who has to go to Asia for two weeks last minute (and has a child at home). But I took it for other reasons – the high stress job absolutely played a part in my back problems, I got heavy and unhealthy, some bad habits were creeping in all over the place. I meant for this year to get stronger and figure things out which I have.

        That’s not to say it hasn’t come with its own massive frustrations in terms of really bad project management, even worse line management (that’s sorted itself out) favoritism, and as a Type A being annoyed with the lack of urgency and impact of everything, but its given me space to realize what I really don’t want in the future and what I do want. And I have taken opportunity to try out a new type of project in a safe environment that could lead to a new career – just need to learn to be patient!

    17. Not So NewReader*

      You may find with a good boss that you do not have the stresses you have now.

      Health issues to one side for a second, I would tell ANYONE that they were giving an employer too much of themselves by running so many programs. I am not saying this in attempt to minimize your concerns, I am saying this as it’s good advice for anyone. Your employer is a leach, you deserve better than this. These people take you for granted and will just suck up as much as they can get out of you. Unfortunately, only you can stop the draining process. So good health/bad health my answer is the same, your company is using you.

      It’s okay not to be enthused about any new job right now. Try looking at jobs from the angle of “will I succeed at this position?” Put yourself some place where you stand a reasonable chance of achieving success. Put some time in reweaving your life. You know, it’s funny/odd, I learned that things I thought I cared about, I really don’t care about those things. Once those things were out of the way, I was able to see the things that were actually important to me.
      I think your FMLA and career counseling ideas are excellent choices. Also keep reading AAM, so you can keep learning about workplaces.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        Your employer is a leach, you deserve better than this. These people take you for granted and will just suck up as much as they can get out of you. Unfortunately, only you can stop the draining process. So good health/bad health my answer is the same, your company is using you.

        This realization is what made me finally leave not just my current position, but the company in general – my last day is December 1st. I start a new job as a proposal manager December 4th. I’ll eventually average about four proposals at a time, which is much better than the 122 claims I was currently handling, which means less stress. Like everyone in this thread, my soon-to-be ex job negatively affected my health – it aggravated my OCD and caused me to have a breakdown. With the help of my therapist over a six month period, I was able to really think about what I want to do with my life and what I need to do to get there, what kind of environments don’t work for me, and I eventually found another job with a company that seems eager as hell to have me. (I applied three weeks ago!) My current company works us to death and then gives us insulting ass “raises” (really cost of living increases that they erroneously call a merit increase); my division is an old boys club where if you’re not white and male, no matter what you do and how good you are, you ain’t going anywhere; and I have had enough of this mess.

        SuccessFail – LEAVE. Get your health together, take some time to heal and plan your next move, and then if you feel like it later on, you can always re-enter the rat race.

    18. Irene Adler*

      Working 2.5 years in your two most recent jobs is not job hopping.

      Take a look at LI profiles of folks in similar jobs/industry as you are. You’ll find that your history is same or in lots of cases “better” in terms of ‘time served’.

    19. sunshyne84*

      I sympathize with you and it’s definitely okay to move on to something else. I left my old job and worked in retail making half of what I made before, but it was so worth it. I woke up dreading going to work and would show up late almost every day. I thought about asking to go part-time, but ultimately just left. It wasn’t even the work, just the terrible employees. Leaving there helped me to gain other skills that I never would’ve gotten at oldjob that helped me transition into a newjob that I actually like.

      If you don’t think you can do it, I think it’s worth it to talk to your manager about at least cutting back with one task and see if that helps. Just say you’re feeling burnt out and finding it increasingly difficult to manage every assignment on a consistent basis and deliver them at the level you approve.

    20. SuccessFail*

      Thank you all so much for your comments! It is definitely encouraging to hear your stories of the steps you took to take care of yourselves. Looking forward to the job search and getting out of here!

    21. Windchime*

      I did. I stayed in the same industry but took about a 9% pay cut to move to my new job. The commute is also worse, but the benefits and days off are much better. It was totally worth it to me, even with the rough commute because the people are good, stable, kind people who have reasonable expectations about work/life balance. And my boss is not a loon.

      Like you, I took some FMLA because the situation at work was so hard that I was having thoughts about hurting myself multiple times a day. I was an anxious mess and I needed a couple of months to get to a place where I was even stable enough to find a new job.

      If you think that moving jobs is the right thing to do for yourself, then I would highly recommend it. I honestly don’t miss the money and I’ve learned to cope with the commute. Living with this kind of anxiety and depression is really hard, and when you’ve got a job that makes it worse it is agony. Take care of yourself and best of luck in your search.

    22. Anon anon anon*

      I left a dysfunctional office job with nothing lined up and immediately saw health benefits. I had been feeling nauseous all the time, having trouble eating, and losing weight. The doctor ordered a bunch of invasive tests that I couldn’t really schedule around my work commitments. But as soon as I left, my appetite came back and I started eating normally again. I’m currently trying to find a way to earn a good living without getting back into a similar situation. But I’d rather be struggling financially than nauseous, starving, and dealing with all the negative stuff at that place. That’s a no brainer.

    23. Anonnnnnnn*

      I just did that. I took a $20,000 pay cut to leave a job at a national lab for an assistant professor job because the stress was making my anxiety unmanageable. I’m only a few months in, but so far it feels very worth it. I figure I’m only 30; if I need to make that kind of money again I have the skills for it and I can try to get a more high paying job later. Right now it’s not worth destroying my health.

      1. Bye Academia*

        That’s so interesting. I always heard professorships were more stressful than national labs. What was it about the national lab job that was so bad?

        As you can tell from my username, it’s not a decision I will be making in the future. But I considered national labs as an alternative until I realized they were all located in places I did not want to live.

    24. Optimistic Prime*

      I have not, but I’m chiming in to say that 2.5 years doesn’t make you look like a job hopper!

  4. Peach*

    I am an hourly employee. My hours are 7:30-4:30, although I do not have a job that requires me to be in my seat during that certain time frame. Earlier this week, I worked two 8.75 hour days planning for a big show we had at our facility (which went great!), so I will have 40 hours by 3:00 PM. Would it be acceptable to ask to leave at 3:00 PM? I have been at my company for over two years, and am a highly valued employee (three raises, one promotion). The general manager of the company (who I report to) is on vacation today, leaving the operations manager as the “highest” person in the office. So, even though I do not directly report to her, she would be the one I would ask (well, tell, since she’s not my boss) that I plan on leaving at 3:00. She and I both know my boss, who is gone today, would have no problem with (and even encourage) me leaving early. However, this operations manager makes it very clear that she’s irritated whenever anyone leaves before quitting time, even though she herself (as a salaried employee) comes and goes as she pleases. This Operations Manager has had serious performance and attitude issues in the past, so her opinion of me leaving early doesn’t really have any effect on me. However, I’m by nature a people pleaser and am worried about her being annoyed with me if I ask to leave early. Am I totally overthinking this?!

    1. Observer*

      Totally overthinking this. Also, you can sweetly point out to her that you “HAVE” to leave early, because otherwise you are going to run into overtime territory.

      1. Claire*

        Agreed! This is likely the best approach. Don’t ask her, just let her know what you’re doing and why. Otherwise what will you do if she says no?

        1. Lisa B*

          I’d be careful just *telling* her what you’re doing. I would probably say “since I had to stay late a few days for the Big Show, I’ll hit 40 hours at 3pm. Do you prefer I head out then or book the last hour as overtime? I’d be fine heading out at 3 if you’re ok with that.”

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Agreed. Be careful on the telling part. Know your company. You might frame it as, “I have x. How would you like me to handle it? I can do A or B or whatever you prefer.”

        2. Blah*

          I ended up in this situation once. I was part time retail, scheduled at 30 hours for the week, but my company’s corporate office needed some local sales associates for moving labor, and my manager sent me. This would put my hours at 55 for the week, so I was to ask the scheduling manager how my schedule should be modified, especially since I had a couple clopens across two counties. Scheduling manager got super snippy and didn’t get what I was “complaining” about, even after I brought up the hours load. So I let him have his way, worked every one of those 55 hours even though it wore me down, and then promptly blamed the scheduling manager when the district manager wanted to know HOW THE HELL 15 HOURS OF OVERTIME GOT APPROVED FOR A BASIC SALES ASSOCIATE. There was much fire, much brimstone, and every bit of the blame got hurled at the scheduling manager, because I did duly inform him of the situation before working those hours. It was glorious, and I got a lot of money, too.

    2. BRR*

      It sounds like it doesn’t matter. i would say “I am leaving at 3:00 so I don’t run into overtime. Have a nice weekend!”

    3. Andie Elizabeth*

      Definitely overthinking it! I’d just say that you were planning to leave at 3:00pm this afternoon so as not to run up any unauthorized overtime (if that’s a thing your office worries about; mine does) and ask if there’s anything she needs you to finish before you go, so you’re not asking for permission, but you are making clear that you aren’t shirking any work responsibilities.

    4. kittymommy*

      Totally over thinking. Just let them know that you will need to leave by 3 so you won’t be over on hours (and possibly get into overtime wages).

    5. ClownBaby*

      My company allows this (up to a half-day) if the manager approves. Typically you have to get approval at the beginning of the week so they can plan for it though.

      It sounds like you weren’t planning to leave at 3 prior to today? You just happened to realize you will hit 40 hours at 3? You could just phrase your desire to leave in a way to make it seem like you are doing the company a solid by not working overtime…but you risk the ops manager saying “no, work the overtime.” You could say you need to leave early…make up some excuse, but I’m not a big fan of lying…I tend to get caught in them too easily.

      I’m stumped just because this would not be allowed at my company without permission. For you it sounds like you know your boss would be okay with it and that the ops manager’s complaining about you won’t really mean much to anyone. Just go for it.

    6. Peach*

      Just to clarify, my company actually doesn’t care if we run into overtime wages (probably due to the fact that people rarely work overtime). Should that matter? I’d rather go home early and get an early start on the weekend with family, and I would still think they’d rather not have to pay OT if given the option.

      1. The Person from the Resume*

        Do it. Even if your company doesn’t care it makes no business sense for you to be paid overtime if your presence is not needed at the end of the day today. As long as no one else have to cover anything I’d tell her gently with the explanation that that’s why you’re leaving at 3 today.

      2. Natalie*

        I think you could just frame it that way – “since I’ll be hitting over time at 3:00 pm and I don’t have anything critical, I was planning on leaving then if that is okay with you.”

        You CAN let her be irritated. It will feel weird! But this is so low stakes it’s the perfect time to practice tolerating the existence of her irritation.

        1. zora*

          +23423094092 to this!! This is EXACTLY what I would say in your situation and YES to Natalie’s last paragraph.

    7. nonegiven*

      It’s too late for this but don’t ask to leave early. Ask if she will authorize overtime for you to stay until 4:30 or if you should go home once you’ve put in your 40 hours at 3.

    8. Peach*

      Update: I was definitely overthinking it! I asked her if it would be okay to leave at 3 given that I didn’t have anything time sensitive to do, and I’d already hit 40 hours at that point. She was surprisingly cool about it and said, “sure, that’s no problem.”

      (with the performance/attitude issues she’s had in the past, I’m hopeful that this reflects her “turning over a new leaf.”)

  5. Rebel Rebel*

    I have a hobby that is considered an odd hobby. It’s not the norm like doing needle point in from the TV, hosting sports viewing parties, or volunteering at a local charity. It’s definitely out there. Without outing myself completely, let’s say it’s on the same level as dressing up as a clown to do birthday parties for kids on the weekend, or having an extensive wardrobe of Renaissance clothes because I attend the local RenFest every weekend. Something along those lines, with an element of dressing up.

    I have no problem sharing that part of my life with people. Not like I constantly bring it up in conversation but if someone asks what I’m doing with my weekend, I’ll respond with ‘Oh fixing up my mask’ or ‘Entering into a costume contest’. It doesn’t bother me to share it. And most people find it interesting and ask to see photos. Around Halloween, I was constantly asked what my plans were because my coworkers wanted to hear my crazy events. I’ve never had a bad reaction, only people who are disinterested and say ‘hope you enjoy that thing’. Certainly, I don’t expect anything like that one old post of the employee whose PTO was rejected when they said they were doing a video game competition; I’m not worried about something like that.

    However, my friends who also participate in this dress up hobby don’t share this at work. They keep tight lipped and simply say ‘Going to a festival’ or ‘Spending time with friends’. They don’t give out details or share photos or anything like that.

    Unless someone’s hobby was kicking puppies, I like hearing about what my coworkers are doing, if they want to share it. I know that one races sailboats, another attends theatre productions every weekend, another is part of her church choir, another is a cheerleader for a professional football team. My hobby might be different but I like to share it same as my coworkers. It’s something I’ve shared at three different post-college jobs and I’ve never had a problem with it. But should I be keeping it quiet like my friends do? Are weird hobbies something you shouldn’t share?

    1. Murphy*

      As long as it’s nothing inappropriate, I don’t see why you can’t bring it up in normal conversation.

    2. CBH*

      Since it’s a hobby you enjoy and it’s nothing unethical, I think you are handling it fine. Everyone needs a life outside the office – that’s what hobbies are. You might be surprised and find someone else interested in the activity itself or in the subject matter.

    3. AnotherAlison*

      I think it depends on the hobby & the type of work environment/people you work with. Since my coworkers are engineers, weird hobbies seem to be the norm and people talk about whatever. But, I could see someone who worked in a really competitive corporate culture may not want to tell coworkers they spend their weekends doing something unusual.

      I used to be in a department of two with a man who played the harp, had 4 persian cats, and collected old computers. Every year, the only vacation he took was with the Welsh harp society. It was weird, but I found it entertaining to hear about. More interesting than someone who spent every weekend tailgating the local college football game.

    4. SophieChotek*

      I have a lot of friends that are into cosplay, or do period photo shoots for fun, etc.

      Once you have a sense of your co-workers and don’t think they would have some super-odd reaction (even if inappropriate) I see no reason why not to share. It is interesting! (More interesting than doing needle-point while watching TV.) I can see why maybe some people might be hesitant to bring it up — some people do think that adults that like cosplay or RenFest or period re-enactments are “odd” or still acting like “geeky” teenagers, but I’d say if you feel comfortable explaining, go for it. Or you can go your friends’ route and be more vague…

    5. Meg*

      I’m a gamer: board game, rpg, larp, etc. My level of comfort in talking about it with coworkers has been directly correlated with how much I trust them and it’s certainly varied over the years. Talk about it! There’s no need to be quiet just because that’s what your friends prefer to do.

      (Cosplay? Larping? Hope you have fun!)

    6. Q*

      Why not? If your coworkers find it interesting and aren’t bothered by the information, I think you should share it. It’s certainly more interesting than listening to all of my coworkers talking about who they met at a bar, or the football game on the night before.

    7. Akcipitrokulo*

      I talk about roleplaying (parlour larp & tabletop) & volunteering as a breastfeeding peer supporter as well as more mainstream cake making and swimming… it does depend on office culture so much though. But yeah, all my colleagues know that I like pretending to be a vampire on the weekend if I have time.

      1. Rebel Rebel*

        Did not know that being a breastfeeding peer supporter was a thing but that sounds really cool! Good on you for doing that!

        1. Akcipitrokulo*

          Thanks :) I went to a lot of drop ins when firstbirn was a baby as we had a lot of difficulty feeding… then at a feq months old (still going for social side) one of the tutors who was helping out asked if I’d like to train as a peer supporter. It’s really something i loved doing and currently reregistering so can get back to it!

    8. extra anon today*

      I mean if it’s cosplay, fine, not weird go for it. If it’s being a furry, I think you get into weird territory because it’s often also a sexual fetish, which makes it uncomfortable for others if you bring it up.

    9. Dovahkiin*

      I LARP and my coworkers love hearing about my weekend fun times running around the woods as a wood elf or warrior mage.
      I’m also very politically active and civically engaged, for reproductive justice as well as racial justice. I only share my activism and efforts with 1-2 trusted coworkers who I’ve built a solid relationship with. I work for a large tech company. Super corporate, straight-laced culture, that leans very conservative (and white) at the top levels of the organization.

    10. Amber O.*

      I’ve been involved in cosplay for the last 5 years and my husband builds star wars replica droids, so I know where you’re coming from. It’s an odd thing to talk about in an office environment, only because most professional adults wont have come across it very often. I don’t think you should feel like you have to keep quiet about it- it isn’t anything top secret or sensitive. My thought process is, if its something I would be comfortable to put on my facebook for friends, colleagues, and/or family to see (as in, not offensive or inappropriate in nature), then it’s typically fine to mention at work as well. I find that most people are very interested in what goes into the hobby and find it a fun change of topic.

    11. Undine*

      It really depends on the specifics. For example, if you’re doing Civil War reenactment dressed up as a Confederate colonel, that would make some people uncomfortable. That’s about the associations with the hobby, no about having an elaborate hobby. You might ask your other co-hobby-ists for more details — have they had issues or what are they worried about.

      1. RVA Cat*

        This. I could also see it being a problem with a hobby/subculture with a (undeservedly) bad media reputation, like Juggalos.

      2. JKP*

        Is it offensive to play the part of Confederate soldiers in a Civil War reenactment? Not everyone at the event can play on the Union side, so you have to have people play the other parts too in order to have the event at all.

        1. Liane*

          I don’t think it’s wrong/offensive to portray a CSA soldier. I’ve been to a few reenactments and the participants I’ve talked to, regardless of uniform, are all about respectfully portraying actual events in which soldiers–and others–died, not espousing ideas *most* of us have figured out are wrong-Wrong-WRONG. Any problem I suspect, would be people assuming that if you portray a Confederate, you must be a prejudiced, ignorant jerk.

          (This kind of attitude/assumption by some people, is why, when talking about the Rebel Legion Star Wars costuming organization [except with people I am absolutely sure are familiar with the RL], I include the description. “No misunderstandings” is right up there with “No disintegrations” as a goal IMO)

    12. nisie*

      I’m a part of the Society of Creative Anachronisms. I try to hid parts of it in normal conversation- “I’m going camping with friends” instead of “I’m going to a WAR! Yes! Most of my friends, hours of fun, free booze.” Over time, I might let things slip.

      Or at least with muddles. If I meet someone of geekish interests, I’ll open up.

      I also keep coworkers off my facebook so I can be an ubergeek.

      1. Rainy*

        I was in the SCA when I was a much younger woman, and found that people who understood either artistic or deeply geeky pursuits “got it” and it wasn’t a problem to talk about, but people who had much more conventional lifestyles really didn’t understand it–and in fact, a coworker at one of my jobs started spreading rumours that I was going to orgies every weekend because she couldn’t wrap her head around “I camp in costume and handmake stuff”, so she assumed that it was really some kind of weird sex thing.

        In general though I think whatever people are comfortable sharing is fine. OP is comfortable sharing, and that’s fine as long as nothing happens to make her think that’s a problem. Other people (I’m assuming these are different workplaces that her friends have, not the same company or organization) probably have had different experiences or have different workplace cultures. I’d bet on that being the difference rather than some error in her current approach.

      2. SechsKatzen*

        Funny you mention SCA. My boss is part of it as well and when I was hired here I started right before they left for Pennsic! And it’s pretty much known that they go away for 2 weeks each summer “to go to war.”

        In general I think mentioning hobbies and activities are fine in a workplace as long as it’s nothing unethical. I’m involved in church music as a chorister and soloist and pretty much have to disclose it if I need to leave early to sing for a servce. Several people I work with are also musicians and so we know a lot of the same people from various events. I enjoy knowing what my coworkers are involvved in and being able to go to their concerts and shows.

    13. Nic*

      I work at renaissance festivals when I can, and attend when I can’t work. I do have a closet full of clothes, and have proudly worn them to work on Halloween. I also talk about faire at work, tell stories about various antics and philosophize about cultural elements with my teammates.

      However, I also work in a place where the culture is very relaxed, and there have been many stories told to pass a long nightshift that would have people here gasping at the impropriety. From what I can tell, it’s gotten me seen as “that hippy ren faire woman who is kinda strange, but really nice and good at her job.” I’m okay with that in this environment. I also make sure to dress just a touch more professionally than a lot of my colleagues, to combat the “dirty hippy” stereotype.

      I’ve worked at other places where I stayed totally mum about what I did on the weekends unless I’d made friends with a coworker outside of work, and we never brought that kind of outside talk in. Some environments wouldn’t appreciate it.

      I’m all about “you do you”, just make sure to judge your environment.

    14. Laurin Kelly*

      I was both an armature and then professional belly dancer for over 10 years and I was always very open about it with my employers. No one ever seemed to have a problem with it, and I sometimes had co-workers and even bosses show up at events I was performing at.

      Currently however, my hobby/side job is writing gay romance books with erotic content, so I keep my writing on the down low at work and honestly from anyone I’m not super close to. Because my work is sexual in nature I just don’t feel like it’s appropriate to share with people I’m not 100% confident wouldn’t have a problem with it.

    15. Liane*

      Sounds like you have a similar hobby to mine. I have no problem bringing it up in coworker conversations–just like I have no trouble listening to their hobby talk about beer brewing, taking selfies with the grandkids, or volunteering at the llama museum–or AAM weekend posts.
      In fact, I will sometimes mention Hobby in select cover letters, if the position involves some event coordination, working with partner organizations, or the like, since as an officer in one of the major clubs I do these things. Or if we have done an appearance with the company. Ex: “I am familiar with many of Library System’s programs, as I have been a guest from Costume Group at Kid’s Event for the past 8 years, and part of the Famous Movie panel, at your 2016 and 2017 Mini-cons.”

    16. The Person from the Resume*

      I’m wondering if it’s burlesque. If it is burlesque I recommend not sharing it because there’s a sexual element there that crosses a line you want to avoid at work.

      If it’s just quirky and geeky without the sexual element then I think it’s fine to mention at work.

      There are some quirky geeky burlesque shows in my town that are just so amusing. Have you ever seen a wookie strip tease? I have.

      1. accidental manager*

        I’ve seen a Lord of the Rings characters do burlesque version of the 80’s movie Breakfast Club …

      2. Fortitude Jones*

        I’m a burlesque historian and I attend shows – I brought it up at work a few times and everyone was fascinated, especially with the history part. And I work in a very conservative industry/company. On the other hand, I knew the people I brought it up with pretty well before talking about it, so there’s that.

    17. Ihmmy*

      If it’s a topic/hobby that seems likely to make the other person uncomfortable or notably have a negative effect on their opinion of me, I generally don’t bring it up. For example, I really enjoy listening to podcasts about serial killers, but I don’t really talk about that with my coworkers because it’s viewed pretty peculiarly. I do talk about board games and embroidery. I’m considering trying to learn more about preparing bones and growing crystals on them or articulating them – that I would probably talk about with the team I work with the most (they already know about my fondness for skulls) but not with more casual work acquaintances.

      It also will depend greatly on the culture of where you’re at. The overall culture here is slightly conservative but not bad. My team is mostly ‘normal’ people but open mindedly so – they know I’m polyamorous and aren’t terribly weird about it, for example.

    18. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

      If you feel comfortable sharing it and talking about it isn’t somehow making your coworkers uncomfortable, then I don’t see a problem with it. Your friends might just work in places where this sort of thing is looked down on in a way it isn’t at your job.

    19. Kelly*

      I cannot tell you how many times I respond to ‘what are you doing this weekend’ inquiries with either bonding with my PS3 or going to “Insert Con Name Here”. If people don’t want to know they shouldn’t ask. And I agree with other posters, as long as it’s not illegal, I also enjoy hearing what people do on the weekends.

      That said, I go to one Con that I don’t tell people about because I don’t want to get questions about what happens at a pagan/wiccan convention :). Vegas rules apply.

      1. Anion*

        Maybe tomorrow we can start a thread on games/what we’re currently playing in the non-work open thread? We have a PS3, and for my birthday I/we got a PS4 Pro.

    20. Lissa*

      I have a similar hobby and I tend to not share it, or rather describe it in terms that people think of a bit differently. I say “Improv theatre” which is close but not exactly it, but people sometimes have a bad/weird reaction to the word itself, especially because a few years ago there were a few unflattering portrayals in the media. Part of it’s just that I have Issues about being seen as “the weird one”, so until I know the person does something equally unusual I will keep it to myself.

      1. Red Reader*

        Yep, I tell my boss I’m going to GenCon, and I’ll even share pics of my costuming (I keep it pretty simple), but I don’t tell her that I’m going to direct a whole bunch of people pretending to be werewolves and vampires.

        1. nisie*

          I’m in a new job, but I can’t wait for my 90 days to be up to put in leave for DragonCon- aka spending time with friends in Atlanta.

        2. Lissa*

          “direct a whole bunch of people pretending to be werewolves and vampires” yup that is also what I do. :D

    21. Cloud Nine Sandra*

      People often have different levels of comfort with talking about hobbies that are out there, or get ridiculed. When I started in my weird hobby (rhymes with panpiction), everyone kept their mouth shut and there were stories of people getting fired for getting caught. Now it’s more out there, but I’m still in the keep it super quiet mode. OTOH, my friend’s daughter (who is in her 20s) is completely open about doing the same thing to people at her admin job. I don’t think either of us are doing it wrong, it’s just different context and different levels of comfort.

      When I talk about my weekend or things for fun, I generally stick with watching soooooooooooooo much TV. (and never prestige TV, lol, or almost never. For some reason my near encyclopedic knowledge of Law and Order SVU doesn’t get as much conversation going as Game of Thrones or Insecure or This is Us in the office, heh.)

      1. Amber O.*

        Oh, fanfiction- I remember when I started and it was not spoken of outside your “innter circle” of writer friends. Even to this day I have trouble bringing it up to others, even though it’s not nearly as taboo as it used to be. However, I do have a quill tattoo on my arm because I love to write (including the above mentioned genre), but I always stick to a generic answer when people ask about it. A watered down response like “I write mostly fiction and short stories to publish online” seems to suffice.

        1. Cloud Nine Sandra*

          The funny part is I just remembered that a (younger than me) new person started at OldHorribleJob, she was very open about writing fanfiction and cosplaying, she even mentioned it in her interview. Granted, small nonprofit, and her first job out of college. But she was also so confident in herself, I think she pulled it off.

          I still never mention the writing to anyone outside of online, I feel like writing is one of those things where people wonder why you’re not trying to get published and make money off of it. Say you’re a writer and I feel like everyone wants to know if you’re submitting novels to Scribner. That’s probably just my experience.

          1. Anion*

            Lol, or say you’re a writer, and people assume you mean “aspiring/unpublished” writer, which has been my experience. :-)

    22. Nolan*

      I cringe when I think about how open I was about all my weird geek stuff as a teen/young adult. But people started thinking of me in only those terms, and I started to resent it so I dialed it waaaaaay back. I stopped LARPing before I started at my current job, but nobody here has any idea about it. LARPing consumed most of my 20’s and I’ve got a lot of regrets/baggage about that, so most of the people who do know were there at the time, or also have a history with gaming.

      My current job does know about my convention volunteering and management, in part because it’s on my resume and in part because I’m fairly open about that. But I don’t talk about that much either, I just don’t hide it. For me, I’d rather not talk in detail about my hobbies, I’d prefer coworkers and management know me mostly for my work. Does work need to know how much effort I put in to get my Age of Triumph t-shirt? No, but I don’t mind them knowing I play video games in more general terms.

      So, I guess the point is, it depends on your comfort levels, and whether you’re okay with people associating you with your hobby, and also, your work environment. The cat’s out of the bag at your current office, but at future jobs I wouldn’t start off that open about it, just in case your next team is more stuffy/conservative/judgmental/etc. You can always test the waters with smaller hints, and if they don’t seem well-received, you can be vague about it going forward. But I think you’re okay in your current office, they seem to be open minded about it.

    23. LKW*

      I think it is entirely dependent on the company culture. The more conservative the organization, the less you may want to share. It could be that your friends may work with real jerks who wouldn’t hesitate to tease them or otherwise make life miserable.

      Or if the goals of the organization and the facets at the hobby are at odds, say “PETA and horseback riding” or “Toastmasters Org and your hobby is mime” it may be best to keep those activities on the DL.

    24. Silver*

      Some people are more private than others and your friends may just be some of those. As long as you’re not having any problems with it, I don’t see any reason not to share.

    25. Jennifer*

      Depends on your work place. Yours may be a lot cooler than your friends’ and that’s why they keep quiet.

    26. Overeducated*

      If I were your coworker and it was something interesting like LARP, SCA, etc., I would be so excited to hear about it. I think it depends on your office culture and it sounds like it is fine for yours. It’s similar to talking about your kids or pets at work – you don’t want it to be the only thing you’re known for or bring it up in every conversation, and in some offices you wouldn’t want to talk about them at all because you would be taken less seriously, but in others it’s fine to make home life part of catching up. Maybe your friends work in more buttoned-up environments where sharing your personal life in general is less acceptable, or are more concerned about how they are perceived for reasons you don’t share.

    27. LawBee*

      we nerds have the best hobbies. <3 If you enjoy talking about it, sally forth and let your freak flag fly.

    28. Fiddlesticks*

      As someone with a differently geeky but also consumingly nerdy hobby, I know the struggle. Like a lot of people have said in this thread already, I think it comes down to your office culture, as well as you comfort level.

      But another element of this — which someone else upthread alluded to — is your long term comfort level with having this tagging you around. Most of our office relationships are relatively thin, and folks tend to remember one or two fun facts about you unless you’re really close, and it might turn into that thing literally everybody knows about you and the only thing anybody asks you about. If you’re okay with that, and with re-explaining your hobby all the time, then go for broke! I actually find people are way, way more open to once-called “weird hobbies” these days, but even if my colleagues would be more accepting, I think I’d tend toward keeping it quiet, just because it’s honestly not something I’d want to talk about all the time with coworkers, and I suspect it would turn into something of that nature.

      (My friend has a great term for this by the way, the “watermelon gift,” because her grandmother once said something about liking watermelons, and her whole family for lack of any deeper insight into her likes/dislikes, proceeded to buy her watermelon-themed objects of all shapes and sizes (clocks, cushions, dishware, towels) for decades after. By the end, even her grandmother was sick of watermelons. Don’t let your hobby become your office watermelon gift, Rebel!)

    29. Snek*

      Personally, I just like to keep my lives separate from each other, but that also stems from me and my team not really being friends. We work well together, but our personalities and stuff just don’t mesh and I’m cool with that, purely because yeah, work/life separation, please. Your friends might be like that, they might not, but they have their reasons. I think since it’s not like it’s grossly inappropriate or anything, they may just want to keep it to themselves.

    30. Jules the Third*

      Mmmm, if it’s a hobby that’s been publicized as having a sexual side to it (furries, burlesque) then you should be very careful about it. It’s very easy for the grapevine to get it wrong, and to add inappropriate speculation. A lot depends on the size and culture of the company. Are there people in it who never work with you? Is it a little conservative?

      In general, mixing work and personal lives has a lot of potential pitfalls, and anything even sorta tangentally salacious is something you should actually think about carefully, not just toss out there randomly. One of my friends doesn’t even talk about her aerial acrobatics hobby because she may choose to perform sometime and her costume would be skimpy, while a different friend posts about it all the time, because it’s just another (fun!) form of exercise for her.

      1. Jules the Third*

        btw, even belly dancing has (unfortunately) been sexualized in a lot of areas of the US. So you might want to check with your tight-lipped friends about *why* they are quiet about it. They may be aware of something in your environment that you don’t know.

    31. Lilac*

      As another cosplayer, which I assume is your hobby (or close), I also talk about it at work, and my coworkers think it’s neat! I’ve had friends on both sides of this equation, so I recommend that you do what makes you happy! I’ve had coworkers who had no hobbies at all, I always thought they were far weirder than folks who talked about their interests and passions. :)

      1. Specialk9*

        As a counterpoint, I think cosplay has a juvenile and sexual vibe for many people, fair or not. I’d keep it to myself, except for Halloween or other costume events.

    32. Solo*

      Some people really want to keep their work life separate from their non-work life. :) It can be for lots of reasons, like “had a bad experience with a clingy coworker” or “had a bad experience with a scene friend who turned weird and I don’t want that to possibly happen with a coworker” or even “I need to not think about work at my hobby, and if Coworker shows up, I can’t do that.” If the hobby relates to, or is a way for your friend to express, a marginalized identity, it can feel especially sensitive to protect that at work for some people. (For example, I enjoy talking to coworkers about Geeky Social Hobby but I don’t want to talk about Artistic Philosophical Hobby, bc it’s much more vulnerable.)

      I don’t think there’s One Right Way to do it (to share or not to share), just respect people’s experiences. :)

    33. crookedfinger*

      Eh, different people have different levels of comfort sharing their passions with coworkers. It’s no big deal if you share and they don’t. Do what’s right for you and your workplace.

    34. Optimistic Prime*

      No, I love hearing about my coworkers’ hobbies! It doesn’t matter how weird they are – in fact, the weird ones are super fascinating. One of my coworkers has a particularly weird one that is awesome to hear him describe.

  6. Longtime Listener, First time Caller*

    In my current job, I’m supposed to be doing 50% writing, 50% administrative work. The way things are playing out, I’m almost exclusively doing admin work. I spoke with my boss about this, and she is planning on a promotion (including a change from non-exempt to exempt) in order to get me in a 100% writing role. She said to be patient as this process, and especially at my institution, takes time. However before I had this conversation with her, I had already started job searching, even though I’ve only been in this role for seven months. I had an interview with a company last Friday, and I’m hoping to hear back in the next two weeks.

    If I get an offer (and if it pays more than my current job), how should I handle this with my current role? I feel bad, because my boss knows my dissatisfaction and knows that I don’t want to be an admin, and she’s working on remedying that. I don’t want to burn a bridge, but I also don’t want to be doing work that I don’t like. Plus, I’m worried that even if we switch my job, I’m always going to be an admin in the eyes of my coworkers.

      1. Longtime Listener, First time Caller*

        I’m a little over five years out of college, so I had one 2 year, one 3 year, and then this one. I don’t know if those count as long stints or not.

    1. OneMoreAlison*

      They’ve already breached the agreement they had with you once (50/50 writing and admin to 100% admin) so I wouldn’t count on anything sticking. I kept hoping for the best and believing that my manager was advocating for me for 4 years and nothing actually changed besides my title.
      If it comes to it, explain that the company’s needs have obviously changed from when you interviewed and it wasn’t a good fit for you. That’s the end of your obligation since they can’t keep their end of the agreement.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        All of this. Don’t count on that promotion – you could be waiting for a long time (and your boss pretty much indicated as such). Should you get an external job offer that better aligns with what you want to do, take it. You owe this company nothing.

    2. Artemesia*

      You focus on you and your needs. If it were useful to your boss to lay you off or keep you in an admin role she would do it in a heartbeat. People make promises to look into promotion all the time that die on the vine. You should take the new job if it is what you want to do and certainly if it pays you more as there are no guarantees where you are.

      Never live on hot air and promises; always make career decisions that benefit you. If they lose you, then maybe next time they won’t treat the new person like this. And she doesn’t have to be insincere or bad to not be able to deliver. Your own interests should be first with you.

      1. LA*


        And this is what I tell the students who work for me, too. “You take care of you first. The place you work for is almost always going to take care of itself before it takes care of you, so you have to do what is right for you.” My powers as a manager are limited by those above me. Did I lose my best student employee to a fabulous internship opportunity? Yes. But I don’t blame her one bit, and I encouraged her to apply to it, because part of my job as a manager (especially of students) is to make sure my employees do their best, whether it’s working for me or for someone else.

    3. ClownBaby*

      I’m wary whenever I am told a promotion “takes time” without giving somewhat of an estimate. I was a purchasing assistant a few years back, doing mostly admin work for the purchasing agents. A position in another department opened up. I applied. The CFO of the company tried to talk me out of it. Saying that a purchasing agent role would be opening up in a little while. I weighed the options and ultimately took the job in the other department. Two years later there is still not an open purchasing agent role, though now they are actually close to having it (the person who replaced me in the purchasing assistant role will probably be promoted to it)…but still, two years. That would’ve been quite the wait.

      Also, people still see me as a bit of an admin, even in a much much different position and actually quite a bit higher than them….it’s difficult. I am constantly working to change their view of me though.

      You don’t have to make any decisions until you get the offer though. It could be a great offer that will make the decision easy for you ;)

      Your current boss knows your frustrations. While she may be upset you’re leaving, she will understand, or even make a play to keep you.

      1. Artemesia*

        I have also seen women strung along like this because there is ‘just no budget, wish we could do it.’ And then magically the purses fly open to hire some guy they know to do a similar job at a third more than they are paying you. Or they need to promote Fergus to keep him (net surfing) and magically the money seems to be there for that.

        I never believe it when there ‘is not money for a raise’ or the ‘promotion takes time and we are working on it.’ because I have seen how little time it takes when it is important to them to hire or retain someone they value.

        1. Fortitude Jones*

          I never believe it when there ‘is not money for a raise’ or the ‘promotion takes time and we are working on it.’ because I have seen how little time it takes when it is important to them to hire or retain someone they value.

          This should be on a pillow or something.

    4. Jen RO*

      If I were your boss, I would be sad that you are leaving, but I wouldn’t hold it against you. You are only doing half the tasks you were hired for, so I think it’s understandable that you are looking for a new job.

    5. Liane*

      If you get this offer and you like the terms–either as offered or after negotiation–take it. Even if your boss is pretty good and is genuinely trying to get you into a 100% writing role, a lot of that could be out of her hands.
      She might not be allowed the budget increase &/or to hire someone else for your 50/50 job. Heck, she could have all her ducks in a row today, having the paperwork done–and a C-suite executive demands that her friend/relative be hired for “your” new position.

      1. DC*

        Evaluate the interview as if you aren’t getting the promotion, and continue to discuss the promotion as if you aren’t leaving. Nothing is sure until you have the actual offers.

      2. Trixie*

        Plus the boss can rewrite job description for next new hire to more accurately reflect the level of admin work.

    6. Not Tom, just Petty*

      What BRR says. They are two different job opportunities. You have neither yet, so proceed when you have an offer. They will not be surprised you were looking. You said you were dissatisfied with your situation. They are making an effort to change it. That’s great. But it doesn’t exist yet.

    7. Longtime Listener, First time Caller*

      Thanks all! These comments really help. Now we’ll just have to see if I get an actual offer…

      1. Sunshine on a cloudy day*

        Good luck! I don’t have any advice – but I am in almost the exact same situation – role was sold as 50/50 but has turned out to be 100% admin work, one boss understands and is trying to arrange for a promotion (though in my case I have reason to believe it won’t happen/will be blocked but I’m incredibly appreciative of his support) and I’m in the final rounds for a role that is 100% what I’d like to be focused on. This thread has been super helpful for me too.

        The additional thing I’m struggling with is staying focused on my current admin responsibilities. Logically I know that I need to keep giving this role my 100%, but I’m frustrated and dejected and bored out of my mind. It’s been a struggle to remain motivated when I have a fish hook with something that seems way shinier dangling in front of me.

    8. Jule*

      For what it’s worth, this is a completely normal situation. If you get the other job and decide to go with it, a good boss will not consider that burning a bridge! They might be personally disappointed because they don’t want to lose a high performer, but that doesn’t mean they’ll hold it against you in some way in the future. (Obviously a BAD boss will occasionally do this, but, you know.)

    9. Lily in NYC*

      I am an exec assistant who a different boss stop me from getting promoted to another department because “she couldn’t lose me”. However, they both lied to my face and acted like they supported the move and sabotaged me behind my back. All of a sudden I was “too expensive” to promote, whatever that means. I had no idea until the woman who wanted me in the higher level role retired and told me at her goodbye party (she was pissed because she was forced into retirement). So my advice is to take the new job if you get the offer.

  7. Buzz Lightmonth*

    What was your most cringe-worthy verbal faux-pas at work?

    Mine was in a team meeting several years back. A coworker, Woody, got a phone call and stepped out to take it. He came back in and said that his horse had escaped the pasture and had been hit and killed by a Pepsi truck in the road in front of his house. Amidst the expressions of condolence I, for reasons I still can’t fathom, said, “On the bright side, there’s a big barbecue at Woody’s house this weekend.”

    Our relationship was never the same after that.

    Your turn.

    1. Monsters of Men*

      I… oh my God.

      I once sent out for shift coverage to about 300 employees (including bosses and grandbosses — oh, and this was a government job, so I mean, technically anyone could apply for a request to see our emails). I did this fairly regularly, so I sent it and didn’t think about it.

      Turns out I forgot the f in shift, which wouldn’t be bad, if I didn’t title my email:


      and somehow forgot the f each time.

      1. NewBoss2016*

        Monsters of Men don’t feel too bad. I once had to ask everyone what size T-shirt they wanted for a charity event. My company-wide email was titled SEND ME YOUR SHIT SIZE ASAP. Thankfully I am the only one who remembers that one anymore.

      2. Kimberlee, Esq.*

        1) I once, in an email to my boss, intended to describe myself as “super busy” but instead managed to type “super busty”

        2) On multiple occasions when I’ve been in charge of answering the phone at reception my brain has managed to revert my standard “Thanks for calling ORG, how can I help you? spiel to an old Fast Food Drive-Thru spiel, ala answering the phone and saying “Welcome to Jack in the Box, I’m Kim, what can I get for you today?” In those instances, I’ve always realized roughly halfway thru what’s happening but my brain can’t fire fast enough to actually stop me from finishing the spiel.

      3. T-Rex*

        My first job about 20 years ago,was as a grocery bagger. One night, minutes from a closing, a couple pulls up to the register to check out. The husband stands by me while wife unloads the cart. They request paper bags, but we typically put items that could be cold/wet into a plastic bag first.

        I turn to the husband and straight-faced ask if I can wrap his meat in plastic. Being 16/17 I instantly realized what I said, as did everyone else. But, the wife kept cracking jokes about it, hilarious ones! Like, “well he’s never allowed to come here alone” and “next time you say you’re working late I know where you’ll be.”

    2. SophieChotek*

      When I was a new teaching assistant – and didn’t completely understand the Excel sort function…I sorted the mid-term grades incorrectly…I think one column moved and the other column did not…which meant the first posting of grades was so incorrect. We had to do so much explaining…people who thought they had done well did not, A students were devestated over poor grades…yeah…

      1. Elizabeth West*

        OMG my boss at Exjob did this once, to her revenue spreadsheet. I went in to update it and noticed all the columns were wonky off to one side. To her credit, she owned the mistake and fixed it ASAP so I could get my monthly tracking done. (This was previous Awesomeboss, not subsequent DisengagedNewBoss.)

        1. SophieChotek*

          Yeah. In retrospect I realize how calmly my prof took it. At the time I thought he was kind of mean about it, but since he ended up having to do most of the back-pedalling and explaining and didn’t say much beyond “sorting error” without heaping all the blame on me…he was actually very nice about it.

          Since I was so new to Excel I didn’t realize my error…I don’t think of us did…until we had the typical A students in tears during office hours…wanting to see their exams…

    3. DaniCalifornia*

      We were having a meeting once (which almost never happens, there’s usually one a year) and I was talking about a problem we were having. I role played it a bit and said ‘Well what if Boss needs this and tells us ‘So and so blah blah’ except instead of using my normal voice I used a high pitched screechy voice imitating my boss’s voice. My boss is a 50 year old man with an even keel voiced, never raises it, and never screeches so I HAVE NO CLUE what possessed me to do that. But everyone burst out laughing (even him) and then he said ‘Oh do I sound like that?’ I was mortified. They teased me for awhile about it.

      I guess I have a bad habit of venting and usually if I’m venting about someone at home, and they said something inappropriate I use that voice.

    4. Blue Anne*

      Oh god.

      When I lived in the UK I was aware of the huge regional variances in accents but not good at pinning down where they were from or what kind of cultural significance they had. While working for one company, I had a colleague who had a very strong accent that was obviously British but not local.

      At one point I was telling a “funny” story and I said something along the lines of “I couldn’t understand this guy at all, he had a really thick accent, like he was from Yorkshire”. I just pulled Yorkshire out of the air as somewhere I knew vaguely had a really strong accent and was good fodder for LOL INCOMPREHENSIBLE.

      Turned out my colleague’s strong accent was from Yorkshire. I wanted to jump off the building.

    5. Foreign Octopus*

      Oh my god, Buzz!

      My worst faux pas was calling my older, male boss ‘darling’ once. I normally call people I talk to darling if I’m fond of them and I was thinking about meeting my friends after work so when he started speaking to me, I just casually said “of course, darling”. I immediately corrected myself and it took a long time for my blush to fade. Thankfully, everyone found it funny.

    6. Akcipitrokulo*

      So we were doing a team-building exercise that involved a personality instrument – which was really good, and very positive, except for the bit where it was describing the journey that teams can go through, and how a new member to the status quo always follows a path to get comfortable – some are long, some are short – and I might have accidentally, using the language we’d been using for the instrument, said something along the lines of my very new manager wasn’t competent yet….

    7. TGIF*

      I cringe whenever I accidentally say ‘brain fart’. It’s a term I use regularly with my friends and family, and it will slip out now and again. It’s not the worst thing to say, but I’ve definitely gotten looked from my colleagues that silently say ‘Did you really just use that phrase?’

      1. Queen of Cans & Jars*

        I’m a manager, and I was trying to describe the behavior of a subordinate to my manager, and could not for the life of me come up with another word to describe him than “douchebag.” To be clear, the guy was a TOTAL douchebag, but yeah, not exactly the most professional word to use. Thankfully, my manager just laughed and agreed with me.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Brain void.
        Word substitution is a handy thing. Sometimes I can catch myself mid-phrase and plug in a different word.

        1. Lefty*

          I go with “brain cramp”… “I’m having a brain cramp here, what is that program called?” It may be a little silly, but it’s better than the eye rolls and groans I got over the flatulence reference.

    8. Fabulous*

      This isn’t really MY faux-pas, but it’s an incident that stuck out in my head throughout the years! There was a girl at work visibly upset that she may have used spoiled milk in her cereal. I turned to my desk-neighbor and quietly said to them, “That’s why I always smell my milk before using it.” Wrong move. This girl apparently overheard my comment and FREAKED OUT. She got in my face and cornered me in my cubicle yelling at me for this or that. I was so distraught that I have no clue what she was even saying. Her manager had to come and remove her from my area. I’m hoping she was mortified by her outburst, but I doubt it. I never received an apology and they actually suggested that I to apologize to HER. Needless to say, I did not work there for much longer.

      1. JD*

        Who the heck gets that upset over bad milk? I mean except a few weeks ago in the middle of the night when I chugged a huge gulp. But really??? That is so odd.

        1. Database Geek*

          A germaphobe who thinks they’re going to get sick from it…. (I’m speaking of myself here – the idea that I might have eaten something spoiled would freak me out a bit. Though that would be something I’d deal with quietly not take it out on my coworkers).

          1. JD*

            That’s my point. Raging at someone, screaming and being forcibly removed upset. That is above and beyond for most anything but for sure “spoiled (spilled) milk”.

        2. Merida Ann*

          I am anosmic (no sense of smell) and although it doesn’t usually bother me too much, I’m in a FB group for others with the same condition and some of them mention being really upset when they have to deal with stressful situations caused by their lack of smell. Especially because, since it’s such a rare condition, a lot of people tend to forget, even after we’ve told them multiple times (even my immediate family members often forget I can’t smell). I’m not saying that’s the situation here, because it is pretty uncommon, and it would still be an overreaction, but in that rare case, when you’re already upset about potentially making yourself sick because of that condition, a comment about using a sense you don’t have would not be taken well.

          I once drank a whole large cup of spoiled milk at a restaurant once, thinking it was just a different % than I was used to since I couldn’t smell it, until my mom smelled my brother’s cup and realized the milk was bad. I luckily didn’t get sick, but it’s still gross and upsetting to think about even now, despite that it happened several years ago. I was mortified at the time and very worried that it would ruin the trip we had planned for the next day, and if someone had made a flippant comment at that moment that I should have just smelled it (when I can’t)… I still probably wouldn’t have yelled at or cornered them, but I’d have been really upset.

        1. Database Geek*

          It’s still a complete over reaction but in her already upset state she could have felt Fabulous was mocking her for not smelling the milk first..

        2. LCL*

          As someone whose life partner will sometimes ‘helpfully’ point out how I could have avoided some minor snafu by checking something beforehand, I totally understand the rage reaction. It’s not the specifics of the situation, it’s the ‘if you would have been more careful you would have avoided this, it was your fault so no sympathy from me’. No doubt someone in spoiled milk woman’s life took that approach with her. But it was misplaced, OP didn’t have evil intent.

          I have almost cured LP of this habit, by pointing out the dynamics behind it and it why it is so infuriating. But of course he learned it from his family, and the behaviors we learn from our family sometimes come out though we think we had extinguished them years ago.

          1. JD*

            I don’t actually have sympathy over spoiled milk. It is silly. You eat it, wish you hadn’t, hope you don’t throw up and move on. MASSIVE eye roll to this woman.

        3. Not So NewReader*

          There’s a smugness about it. “I am not that foolish to make THAT mistake. She should have know.” It’s not really cool to point out how one is superior/better than others.

      2. Pennalynn Lott*

        We hired a new manager, he was going to be taking over the team I was on. He stood up in a departmental meeting and introduced himself, giving highlights of his resume and talking about why he was excited to be working with us now. I asked him, in front of everyone, something along the lines of, “It sounds like you accomplished a lot of great things at your past job, so how come you left?”

        And then, just because I hadn’t made a big enough ass of myself, I followed up with, “Well, the most important thing you need to know is that today is my birthday.”

        It was a really stressful job in a very toxic workplace, and I’d lost all sight of any professional boundaries and norms I might have once possessed.

    9. NewBoss2016*

      Not me, but my assistant (who has some weird issues going on right now). We were working on a project last month and MY boss–the head of the entire company said something sarcastic as a joke to my team. My assistant goes “wow, you are either super nice or a super bitch with no in-between.” As I turned to literally drag her out of the meeting, my boss stopped me because she actually thought it was funny and was really gracious about it. I never thought I would have to tell someone it is not appropriate to call our CEO a bitch.

    10. Not myself today!*

      We had stressful jobs and had been joking about support animals. Our boss said we could not get a dog or cat so we were always throwing out ridiculous options. Emus, goats, etc and one of my reports had mentioned a snake. We had something really stressful happen weeks later and I brightly exclaimed: “We’ll all need to pet Report’s Anaconda to get over that!” I immediately turned bright red and headed off to HR to report myself. It probably took the sweet little HR lady ten minutes to stop laughing.

      I think I might be red again, just thinking about this.

      1. Big City Woman*

        Actually, I learned recently that there are instances of snakes being used as either service or therapy animals. I don’t know what kind of snake, but apparently they can detect when someone is going to have a seizure. The person usually wears the snake around their neck and it can be trained to alert the person that a seizure is coming so that they will sit down, get themselves to a safe place, take medication, or get medical attention. It has been challenged and the ADA only recognizes dogs and horse officially as service animals, I believe, but yes, some people rely on snakes in this way.

    11. Anon for this*

      I misgendered a coworker’s partner last night. :(

      I have two male, Asian coworkers. I called one by the other’s name. They look nothing alike; it was a racist brain fart. :(


      1. Incantanto*

        If it makes you feel better several people at work get me and another white coworker confused as we started at similar times. Including the CEO.

        She’s 6 inches shorter and about a 100 pounds lighter than me.

    12. K.*

      Not mine but I witnessed it: At my last job, one of my coworkers had a candy jar. She kept an assortment of candy in it. Another coworker, a guy, liked a particular kind of candy (I forget what it was, let’s say Starbursts) so he was always asking her for it. One day he came over and asked her if she had any Starbursts and she said “Yep! This is the last of them.” A third coworker replied, “He’s eating her out!” There was a moment of stunned silence and the person who spoke turned purple, and we all started cracking up. She was MORTIFIED. Thankfully no one involved was offended and no one who might have been offended was in earshot.

    13. Ange*

      A colleague said she was quitting and thinking she was joking (as she’d not been there long), I said “easy come, easy go”. She was not impressed.

    14. Coldbrewinacup*

      We had a company wide training event and we were broken into small groups. One of the ladies in my group was in my work sponsored Weight Watchers group. At this company event, our group had to go around and introduce ourselves, saying what department we worked in and if we knew anyone else in our group. Without thinking, I blurted out how I recognized “Suzy” from Weight Watchers! Ugh, she turned beet red and everyone else just gaped at me. She never spoke to me again.

    15. Wakeen's Hanukkah Balls, Inc.*

      Making a sports-based joke to a major political figure who was visiting our office.

      We were from different parts of the country, and our respective baseball teams were playing against each other in the playoffs. The joke itself would’ve been okay in some contexts and to other people, but not then or to him.

    16. I See Real People*

      Early in my healthcare career, I was working the desk in a busy hospital radiology department when a doctor I was acquainted with came in to use the desk for some paperwork. He had a nice accent that I thought was German, so I decided to ask. I meant to say “Dialect”, but what came out was…”Dr. X, what is your direlect?” I knew it as soon as it came out of my mouth. I had said it wrong! Sooo embarrassing! I still cringe about it 27 years later! Ha ha

    17. Anonymous Pterodactyl*

      Ooh, I’ve got one (can’t remember if I’ve told this one before). I once asked a colleague if he had a sec, then checked the clock to see how close we were to lunch, saw we had plenty of time, and said “Oh, you have lots of secs.”

      I… then sat there for a second, said “Well, that didn’t come out right,” and tried to pretend it never happened.

      1. Footiepjs*

        In my teen Sunday School class, our teacher had pretty much the same story: someone asked her if she had a sec and she answered with I have lots of (or plenty or whatever) secs. Looooool.

        1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)*

          This happened to me on a trip to a museum with a slightly older family friend. I kept saying “just a sec” when they were trying to hurry me along because I wanted to read every single label in every case. My friend shouted out “Miss Pantalones! No more secs!” causing everyone else in the museum to stare and snicker.

          Worse, I was just a bit too young to have had any of the sex talks at school so I didn’t get why it was funny and she had to explain it to me.

    18. S-Mart*

      I have no idea if this embarassed anyone besides myself, but here goes.

      Was talking to a co-worker about her upcoming wedding/reception. I said something to the effect of “The party’s not important, it’s what comes after that really matters.” I meant the years of marriage/sharing your life with your partner, but almost immediately realized it could also be taken as a comment on the wedding night. No idea which meaning she took from it.

      1. Lissa*

        Ha! I hear that sentiment fairly often – i.e. the wedding isn’t the important part, it’s the marriage – and I don’t think it’s usually taken in the wedding night fashion! It’s common enough even if it did occur to her hopefully she realizes you meant it the other way. :)

    19. Former Govt Contractor*

      We had a client who was pretty difficult. After yet another rude email from him ordering us to handle the defense of his lawsuit as he dictated (and not, you know, according to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure), I intended to forward to my boss, his attorney, with the comment “OH MY GOD CAN WE SAY HIGH MAINTENANCE?!?!?!?” except of course I hit “reply all” rather than forward, and he got a copy of it. Fortunately my boss agreed with me and was pretty forgiving of the mistake, since I’d worked for him almost 20 years and had never made a mistake like this previously.

      1. Samata*

        OMG. This isn’t mine but I had a colleague who sent an email saying “Suzi is so f*cking stupid!!!!”…to Suzi. She meant to sent it to Shannon.

    20. Not Tom, just Petty*

      I have two.
      Hi (tech support person),
      contents of message detailing request for help.
      Love you,
      Not Tom
      At staff meeting with boss’ boss sitting in, she commented that everyone looked particularly happy. I blurted, “that’s what bonus day does to people.”
      Um, not sure if everyone at the table got one. Wanted.To.Die.

    21. D.W.*

      Not work, but in university I approached my *male* professor after class with a question.

      I started my sentence, “Hey mom, I have a question…” He laughed and it was a running joke for the rest of the semester.

    22. Anon Accountant*

      Shady client, friend of my shady boss. Shady client was suing his prior accountant and we provided “litigation support”. He was unable to provide support to us to draft a report for the court. I kept asking and received nothing.

      My boss ordered me to “come up with something because no one will pay that much attention to it”. I asked him “do you are ordering me to prepare a fraudulent report?!” And he said “it’s not fraudulent, it’s just not the whole truth. We just need something for the court and you’re supposed to be on our side. And I’ll stand behind you!”.

      I yelled “ you are ordering me to commit PERJURY? I didn’t get a CPA license to lose it for a slime ball. I’m not risking my license or jail for anyone!”. The managing partner thankfully stepped in and told him no false reports were leaving his office.

      1. Anon Accountant*

        Wow sorry so long! FYI in my state perjury is a felony and can get you 5 years in jail plus a $5,000 fine.

        I spent almost $10,000 on CPA costs, review classes, and extra classes to meet my states requirements. And the shady client lost his court case, lack of evidence!

    23. Ramona Flowers*

      This was a friend’s but it’s too good not to share. Friend was Facebook-slacking at work, phone rings, she picks up and says: “Hello Facebook.”

      (She did not work at Facebook)

      Thank you all – I am laughing so loudly on the London tube that I’m getting Looks.

      1. Nolan*

        Omg, I just remembered one, my last job was in retail, and we had a big spiel to rattle off when answering the phone. My job before that was also retail, also with a lengthy spiel for answering phones. So, one day, a few weeks into the new job, the phone rings, I pick it up and say, “thank you for calling TownName Blockbuster, [something something late fees], this is Nolan speaking, how may I help you?” And was greeted by my boss, who was really confused, because neither of us worked for Blockbuster, that was my old job. I didn’t even realize that I’d said the wrong greeting, and for weeks after that wondered if I’d done it to customers who either didn’t notice or thought they had the wrong number.

      2. Lawception*

        LMAO. I am a receptionist and this has happened to me several times when I am reading on my screen and then I blurt it out.

      3. bunanza*


        Last year, my best friend was going through some rough personal stuff and she was on my mind–so one day I answered my office phone with “Good morning, ORG, this is [Best Friend]—I mean, this is bunanza, how can I help you?”

        Which was embarrassing enough, but my best friend’s name happens to be the same as a coworker who left for another department before I ever started here. And of course, my boss was sitting next to me at the time, and was very very curious why I was introducing myself as our departed coworker.

    24. end_bafflegab*

      That time I explained why I arrived late by saying I’d been “waylaid.” Still blush when I think about it.

      1. Alli525*

        But that’s a valid word! If your coworkers are a little juvenile, that’s no reflection on a correctly-used word or your judgment :)

    25. Alli525*

      Not the worst (I have a malfunctioning filter; I’m working on it), but the most recent – my boss and I were meeting a colleague for the first time, and the colleague noted during the convo that he couldn’t “read” my boss (she was listening and absorbing but not talking much). I made a quick, kinda-jokey comment that she could be inscrutable sometimes.

      She pulled me aside later and said she had felt undermined, and also in case I wasn’t aware, “inscrutable” is ethnically-tinged and considered insulting to Asian people (she is Korean). I felt AAAAAWWWWWFUL and apologized profusely, especially because I had no idea about the slur. Luckily we have a great relationship and she was very gracious about it, but UGH, self.

      1. I'm A Little TeaPot*

        Personally, I hate it when perfectly good words/symbols get ruined by someone’s bad behavior. Adding another word to that list…

      2. Chickadee*

        How did she explain this? I’ve looked up inscrutable in both the Oxford English Dictionary and Urban Dictionary, and there’s nothing to suggest that it’s an ethnic slur. It’s a Latin root word.

        1. Database Geek*

          I don’t think it’s a slur like other words are but more a word that is often used to describe Asian people in stereotypical ways.

          1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)*

            Interesting. I have never heard that this was a thing.

    26. Red5*

      Not mine, but my boss’. Big group meeting, 30+ people. Our HR director was telling the group that, no, something can’t be done. My boss pipes up and says, “She says no but she means yes.” Cue uncomfortable silence…

    27. Samata*

      After spending a weekend babysitting I turned to my boss in a conference room full of people and asked him if he “needed to go potty” before we left for an off-site luncheon.

    28. Nolan*

      This wasn’t at my work, but while I was checking out at the grocery store a couple weeks ago (so *somebody’s* work, right?!)

      So, I’m checking out and I heard the chime to remove my card from the reader, except it wasn’t from my machine, it was coming from another register, so I removed my card too soon by accident. In my state of flustered annoyance my brain got caught up thinking “oops” and “oh jeeze” at the same time, and my brain is kind of a jerk. I’m like 85% sure the noise that actually came out of my mouth was “oh jooze”, which… yeah that doesn’t sound great. The cashier got weirdly quiet after that, and was also kind of weird to me the next week D:

      1. Lissa*

        oh god, I have totally done stuff like that and then it’s horrible because you know the person will think you said it and there is NO good way to explain, nor an ongoing relationship where they will hopefully eventually see you aren’t actually a horrible person. Sympathy!

    29. SaraV*

      Again, not me…and school, not work…
      Issues & Ethics class for journalism, super Christian university. The class is taught by the most “buttoned-up” of the three journalism professors. It’s right around the time the whole Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky scandal is breaking.

      We’re discussing how much data the public should know/needs to know when it comes to the inner workings of the federal government. The professor says “So just how much information should we be hearing out of the Oral Office?”

      Class /done. Many tears of laughter were shed as our professor stood there, tight-lipped, the smallest smile as he realizes what he just said, and a look of how he’ll probably never hear the end of it.

    30. NewBoss2016*

      I just remembered a really good one! We were having a big meeting after the first of the year. The president went off on a tangent about how people in some culture (can’t remember who he said did this) would all get together during the new year and prepare salads. Then they would all take turns tossing each other’s salads as a show of good will. He told us we should all proverbially toss our coworkers salads in the new year. He had zero clue that there was a negative connotation with that phrase, and really meant that he wanted everyone to be all hands on deck. We all just sat silently trying not to lose it.

      1. NewBoss2016*

        This happened years ago, and I finally just thought to google what in the heck he was talking about. Turns out he was kind of right, just had his story a little wrong. According to Wiki, the Cantonese make a salad called Yu Sheng, and it is sometimes tossed (thrown into the air) for good fortune during New Year festivities. The more you know!

      2. Buffay the Vampire Layer*

        Well I know what my New Years Eve toasts are going to be from now on.

        Let us all toss each other’s salads in the new year!

    31. Not in NYC Any More*

      Two stand out –
      1. I worked for a huge, multinational financial services company. One day I sent out a group email titled “Friday’s Pubic Offering In Investor Relations Office” (after that I made sure “pubic” always popped up in spell check since there is no way I’d ever need to use that word at work)

      2. Had too many windows open on screen. Office manager, who wasn’t a native English speaker, IM’d me asking what xoxoxoxo meant. I read the message out of the corner of my eye when it popped up in the corner of my screen and typed “hugs and kisses” in the open window in front of me and hit send. Problem was that window was an email to important investor. Yes, we loved him, but not most appropriate note. He found it funny and responded – “back at ya… I think”

    32. Arjay*

      Not too cringe-worthy, but recently I said good night to a coworker. He said, “Ok, see you tonight!” I was quite perplexed until I realized he had accidentally combined two more normal sentiments – “Have a good night” and “See you tomorrow.”

    33. Polity*

      I was at happy hour with some senior colleagues, some of whom were from Texas.

      We were talking about odd hobbies. Somebody brought up knitting. One of the Texans said, very authoritatively, that nobody knits in Texas.

      I have an in-law who loves knitting and lives in Texas. I chimed in with “But, I know a Texan knitter!” The conversation stopped dead and everyone looked at me like I had grown antlers. The authoritative Texan said, “I can’t believe you just said that!” in horror. I very quietly and confusedly said, “I’m not sure what I’ve said wrong. I have a sister-in-law in Texas who loves knitting… is that really considered bad there?”

      Then the authoritative Texan goes “Oh. Oh! Oh. I thought you said a different word.” And everyone else laughs. And I finally realize that when I said “knitter”, as in one who knits, what they heard was a horrible racial slur. And I, horrified they would think this, turned bright red and wanted to go hide in a bathroom for the next, oh, week or so.

    34. Anonymous Coward*

      I had a big presentation for my whole team, and as I rounded the home stretch into my main point, I excitedly said, “And this is the solution to Boss Barbara’s big ask–” meaning the most important question/problem she’d tasked me with solving. Barbara misheard and stopped my whole presentation with a horrified “Did you just say I had a big ass?!?!”

      No, no I did not. But good luck getting the gigglers to settle down again for the conclusion.

    35. AnonForThis*

      Anon for this because no chance anyone who was there doesn’t remember:

      High school opening meeting of the year with all faculty and staff. School mascot is the cougars. Principal goes on a long motivational speech about how we need to be ready for anything and to surprise people with our high performance. He makes an analogy to a nature show he saw: “We’re the cougars! We’re ready for anything! Cougars take ’em from behind!” He then leads the faculty in a chant of “Cougars take ’em from behind!”

      He had no idea.

      1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)*

        Well, I’ve had barbecued pronghorn antelope that was accidentally killed by a wildlife biologist before, so maybe it’s possible? (Not really!)

    36. Fenchurch*

      I was working in a call center environment at the time. Instead of saying “Let me place you on hold” to a caller instead it came out “Let me hold you.”

      I died a bit that day.

    37. Sled dog mama*

      Not mine and actually totally intentional but would have qualified if any one besides me at old job had heard.
      My boss walked into our office (shared, onsite at client) and says to me “would your husband mind if I gave you some afternoon delight?”

      He and I are both very into craft beer and he was referring to a specific beer (called afternoon delight) he brought me from a business trip. We frequently brought each other beers and he and my husband were and are still good friends so this was not a strange occurrence for him to walk in after a trip and declare he had brought me something but it wasn’t until much later that it dawned on me how wrong that conversation would have sounded if you didn’t know what we were talking about.

      1. Sparkly Librarian*

        I thought of this comment when my coworker mentioned today, “I think I gave your wife a ride once, a long time ago.” Maybe I’m secretly 12.

    38. Too Witches*

      This may not be the most mortifying and I’m no longer embarrassed, but at the time I felt like such an ugly duckling that it took me a long time to live it down. My first “big city” job after immigrating to Canada with my family was in a cafe with a lunch menu. One day our soup special was Minestrone, of which I had never heard, so I suppose I can be forgiven for pronouncing it as “mine” (as in this teapot is mine) “strown”. Mine-strown. I must have told at least 50 customers that we had mine-strown on the menu before my manager caught me, had a good laugh, and released me to my duties.
      My other favorite story from that place was when a heavily pregnant woman, on her way to the nearby hospital, wanted a certain dessert that we normally put in clamshell boxes to go, but we had just run out of clamshells in the front. I rang her up after sending a colleague to check the back for more but suspect that colleague had a leisurely joint first (yup, that kinda place) so as I was waiting the woman went “can you just wrap it up for me? I’m kind of in advanced labor and we need to go”. I’m sure the meringue tasted just as good crushed, but I was just very embarrassed at myself for making her wait instead of rigging up a solution right away.

  8. That other lady*

    What was the final straw that made you decide to leave a job? For me it was an awful boss. I’d been watching job postings, and applying here or there when something interesting popped up. However, I wasn’t convinced I wanted to go, although I had a new boss that I knew a lot of people had struggled to work with and that I was finding challenging in a variety of ways. Someone from another company reached out and I thought I’d at least interview to see what they were offering. I had a couple of interviews and they went well, but for a lot of reasons I wasn’t sure I’d want to take an offer if they made it. Then. Good grief, then. Then, despite telling my boss that during our slow season our Llama petting response time would increase because we were going to be focusing on learning new llama grooming techniques while we had time, despite the fact that I told boss that since we were so slow that any delayed responses for reasons beyond our control would skew our times, despite the fact that our listed response time was in hours and we were responding in minutes, despite the fact that I’d specifically and repeatedly asked if the boss wanted to give us new response time goals, I was snapped at and lectured because the response time was 7 minutes longer than the boss wanted (although we’d never actually been given a new time to beat). Again, our stated response time was measured by HOURS (lots of them), and our response time was less than 15 minutes. Had the boss told me that the response time was something that absolutely had to be done in x minutes, we absolutely could have because who doesn’t want to pet llamas? Ugh, it’s been months and I’m still annoyed. Anyway, as I was being lectured like a toddler, I was thinking if the other company makes me an offer, I’m taking it. A week and half later I gave my notice. New job is awesome and Llama petting response times are not even an issue.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      What was the final straw that made you decide to leave a job?

      Usually, it’s not feeling that management has my back. If management is going to throw me under the bus, I’m job-searching. Also, I left one place that was horrible because everyone there pretending it was amazing, even though it was horrible. Felt like a cult.

      1. Happy Lurker*

        “everyone there pretending it was amazing, even though it was horrible. Felt like a cult” – what is that? I always wonder if it’s me and then I realize it’s a large group of self delusional people. While you are in their midst though…whoa

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          That really was the absolute worst. I’ve been in dysfunctional places before, but if the place is dysfunctional and most people there acknowledge the dysfunction, that’s a lot easier to deal with than it being dysfunctional and everyone (not just the higher-ups) saying “Isn’t this the best?”

        2. hard eye roller*

          This all day!

          Please include weekly/monthly/quarterly meetings where they continuously display lack of empathy for any of our valid concerns.

      2. Fortitude Jones*

        Usually, it’s not feeling that management has my back.

        This is a major reason I decided to leave my soon-to-be former job. Our claims volume has gotten wildly out of control with new business and catastrophic events, our insureds and agents are becoming more and more demanding, and management is not going to bat for us adjusters to tell them that their expectations of turnaround times are unreasonable. People are burned out; morale is low. People are dropping left and right – my own supervisor up and quit three weeks ago out of nowhere. We’ve told them the issues, and management is so concerned about making money at all costs, they just don’t give a damn we’re all stressed beyond belief.

        So I’m leaving. I wouldn’t be surprised if more people quit after me – I know of two other people who are actively looking now.

      3. Anion*

        Ugh, I had a job like that. Huge credit card bank. Apparently people at the home office really did have it good, but our site was awful, and we all had to pretend that working there was like Candyland or something. On our first day there they gave us a pin with the company logo and told us the only valid reason for not wearing it every day was “you left it on your pajamas.”

        The worst thing about places like that, IMO, is how lonely they make you feel and how they can make you question everything about yourself. Like, why does everyone else love it here? What’s wrong with *me,* that I’m the only one who hates it so much I want to vomit every time I pull into the parking lot? Am I really that weird and awful a person? Since I’m really that different from the rest of the world, how will I ever find a place where I can be happy?

        It was awful.

    2. Q*

      Not actually the reason I quit my last job (it was retail and I was eager to get out of there as soon as I got an office job offer in hand), but the day before I handed in my two-weeks, my manager told me that I would stop being upset over a friend’s death when I grew up and matured and turned thirty or so and upset me so badly I started crying.

      I don’t think he believed me when I said I had a new job the next day.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        So after this manager hits 30 then he will no longer cry/grieve any losses?
        He’s the one with a lot of growing up to do.
        Very sorry this happened to you.

      2. Charlie Bradbury's Girlfriend*

        Yikes, I’m so sorry Q. Mine’s not that bad, but I quit my retail job after being written up for “not following directions” on a day that we were slammed and I made a decision on my own about what items to prioritize. As I was getting written up, all I could think was, “You are sooooo not worth this stress. I’m out.”

        1. Q*

          Honestly, that was just the last thing he had a chance to do. He was an absolute ass to work for and intentionally made my life more difficult than necessary, I had to close on Thanksgiving, open on Black Friday, and wouldn’t let me go home on Christmas Eve even though my shift was over.

          I was lucky I got to go to my brother’s wedding.

          1. Charlie Bradbury's Girlfriend*

            Yep, retail is hard enough without having a MONSTER for a boss. Good on you for getting out.

    3. Fabulous*

      Mainly the boss. There have been 2 positions I’ve quit:

      First one, I decided to quit because I had been there 2 years but had yet to receive a phone at my desk, and was only making $13/hour with no advancement opportunities. I gave two week’s notice when I quit (they only required one, but it would take at least a week to train on a couple reports I owned). My supervisor did absolutely nothing to replace me after I gave my notice, and actually said to me 4 days into my notice that she didn’t think they would be replacing my role. Ok, fine. I guess you don’t need me here anymore, so after consulting with HR, I left for the day and had a week off before starting my new job!

      Second one was because the boss was an extreme micromanager. At least he motivated me to go back to school!

    4. Akcipitrokulo*

      It wasn’t so much the final straw as a reason that would sound acceptable in an interview so I grabbed chance with both hands. Although by itself it would have meant I’d even leave the job of much awesomeness I have at the moment… it was moving the offices into central London.

      Nope nope nope nope.

      Done the commute before. Not doing it again. And not spending an extra £4-5 grand a year for the privilege.

      However, things that SHOULD have been the final straw for that company included not providing expressing space (illegal), carpeting *ME* when I was once forced to do it hiding behind banners in the corner of a room, letting the landlords know we weren’t giving them their month’s notice by carrying our PCs out to the car on our last day, refusing to let me work from 8.55-16.55 instead of 9-5 which added an extra hour to my commute home, giving me a hard time about leaving when I got a call that my son was in A&E ….

      But in interviews “why did you leave?” “they relocated to central London” got the universal reaction of “fair enough – next question.”

      1. Turtlewings*

        “refusing to let me work from 8.55-16.55 instead of 9-5 which added an extra hour to my commute home”
        That’s just… incredible. Everything you listed is awful but the sheer pettiness of that one boggles the mind.

        1. Akcipitrokulo*

          Yep. If I ran I could get to train station in time to catch the fast, 1702 train, which got me in 5 min before my next connection if I left just before 5. Next train was slower, and was at 1740, which got me in 2 minutes after my next connection had left.

          The dev manager was not very flexible. Other joys included no-one taking testing seriously, so every sprint planning was full of “how can it take you that long? You just need to test it!” when I gave my realistic estimates.

          And then there was not being paid (the norm in UK, which they followed, is direct bank transfer – usually in your account about 2-3 am on payday) and being told “Oh yeah, (CEO) must have forgotten to go to the bank….”

          1. Windchime*

            OMG, sprint planning and estimates. I hate, hate, hate agile. Anywhere I’ve ever been, it’s just used as a whip to try to force dev to churn out more work faster.

            1. Akcipitrokulo*

              Where i am now its awesome… the devs say how long, and it’ll be roughly right, and people take their word for it.

              It makes so much difference!

        2. Liane*

          “giving me a hard time about leaving when I got a call that my son was in A&E” is my mind boggler. When I told a micromanaging boss and her right hand woman, “Husband called from ER, they’re admitting him,” they were like “Shut up and Go! Now!” LOL, they looked like if I didn’t move faster they were going to drag me to the door and throw me at my car, if not drive me themselves. (Yes, I was much less bothered by their management style after that.)

          1. Not Tom, just Petty*

            Got a call my mom was in the hospital, walked past boss’ office, “mom’s in the hospital.”
            Boss: good luck and she went back to my desk and got things set up for my out of office. Like a relay race. It was great.

          2. Akcipitrokulo*

            I honestly cant think of any other place ive worked that would not hsve immediately said “go! Hope he’s ok!”

          3. Anion*

            Evil credit card bank wasn’t *that* bad, but they did make us work during a hurricane. I told my mgr that I was leaving at my lunchtime because I’d just bought a house (which didn’t have full shutters–this was before they changed the law in S FL so it was illegal to sell a house without them) and needed to be there, plus my drive home was forty minutes in good weather and of course ours was steadily worsening. He finally said okay *if* I made up the four hours I’d miss. So I left at four (it was a noon-to-nine shift).

            When I got back to work two days later I learned that they’d sent everyone home at five–which would have been the time I’d returned from lunch, if I’d stayed. Later that day manager asked me when I was going to make up the four hours I’d missed during the hurricane. Uh…never, since you sent everyone home at five, and you’re not making them make up the time?

    5. Alternative person*

      Good for you.

      At my last job it was my co-worker shouting at me in front of clients for doing something at the normal time that she had deigned to change without telling me. I had been out with bronchitis earlier in the week and out with the flu three weeks before that. I had zero energy and was on my feet out of sheer force of will and I basically just shut down. I told the bosses I was resigning with immediate effect about two hours later and walked out. She and the other staff had barely cared to ask how I was let alone take some of the labour intensive work off my plate. This was after five months of being treated like a drudge and being expected to bend to whatever whims/scheduling they expected with minimal notice.

      I then had to go to the labour board and basically sue the company to get my final paycheck which just further proved the kind of people they were.

      I had already arranged an interview with another company I had previously done contract work for and they offered me the job in the interview. Management is nice but naive and the processes are kind of lax, so I’m intending to stick it out for another 15-18 months while I’m studying for the next level diploma.

    6. clow*

      wow what a complete jerk boss. I’m glad you have a better place to work now!
      For me, I was at a job for a few months, I let go of a bunch of creepy stuff but then he told me that he tried to track down a close friend of mine who he had never met but had once worked at the company, because i “didnt seem happy” I decided to finally quit. I told him he was creepy, a pathalogical liar, and a terrible manager. I now work at a much better place, with a great manager and way better pay. I actually got the advice to quit on one of these friday threads so I am really thankful for all the people here who encouraged me to do it. I still wish I had said more though.

    7. Elizabeth West*

      A boss who was lazy, lied about the job, and used my computer to rip DVDs all day, along with a vicious coworker. Oh, and I ended up doing someone else’s job most of the time because she would always call in sick to avoid the vicious coworker. They didn’t pay enough to deal with her either, so I quit.

    8. Jillociraptor*

      I had a very odd “final straw” moment recently. I was working on an Excel spreadsheet for some volunteer/side work, putting together a fairly intricate (for me, anyway) formula, and feeling grateful for a former job in which I had the opportunity/necessity to learn a lot of Excel and data skills. Thinking about that, I realized that I can’t really name a single new skill I’ve developed in my current job, where I’ve been for 2+ years. Definitely have developed new knowledge bases and things like that, but I can’t really point to anything that I’ve learned at this job that is going to set me up differently in my next position or enrich my other work outside of the professional sphere.

      That kind of bummed me out, but helped me re-identify a big value I have around continuously learning and improving myself, that I’m finding it hard to live up to in my current job. So, while I’m not miserable or anything, it’s become clear that this isn’t the right place for me in the long term.

    9. Very Anon Today*

      My coworker asked to take an afternoon off so we could go the burial of our friends unborn child.

      Our boss said people shouldn’t hold services for late term miscarriages and denied the request.

      I got to go to the burial, and my friend didn’t go, because she had to finish mailing out some marketing materials. (She did volunteer to come in earlier or later, but no, labels had to be put on these things that afternoon).

      I took two new jobs shortly after just so I could be out of that place.

    10. Turtlewings*

      I decided to leave a previous job on… Day 11? I had two weeks (so 10 weekdays) of training, which went fine. And then they informed me I was to be assigned to the children’s department (it was a library) permanently. I started job searching immediately. (Sadly, it still took me three and a half YEARS to actually get out of there…)

    11. TGIF*

      I’d actually been job searching for a while but what made me decide to leave without anything else lined up was when my boss asked me to take on some work from a co-worker. I was already doing the jobs of three people, because staff had left and they didn’t rehire for them, and now they wanted me to do the work of another employee who came in late, took two hour long lunches, and then left early. She also actively ducked calls from her angry clients, telling me to just get a message and she’d call back later because she didn’t feel like speaking to them. She was the boss’ BFF so she got away with doing very little work.

      When I pushed back, saying I was already at over-capacity for workload, she said they were giving me the work anyway and would evaluate my productivity after six months. They had done this with the other workloads I’d taken on and no change had happened then either.

      I lucked out that a place I’d interviewed with offered me a job just two days after I gave notice to my baffled boss. I was glad because then I could say I was leaving for another job, rather than leaving because they were working me to death.

    12. ClownBaby*

      My final straw is actually the opposite of an awful boss/not feeling appreciated.

      My boss sat me down and told me that he was going to recommend me to corporate to get me on the fast track to becoming a GM of my own store. That’s when I realized that I was no longer in a “temporary retail job” and that this was becoming a career. I know GMs make good money…but I also knew the hours retail required. The working holidays. The furious customers, who were still treated as if they were “right”. Retail was not for me. Somehow what I intended as a 6 month- 1 year job out of college, became a job people actually stick with. I went from a part-time employee, to a department manager in less than a year. My GM seemed to promote me or give me raises whenever I started thinking about leaving (I swear he had a 6th sense lol). A week after this conversation, before he got the chance to request I be made an AGM, I put in my notice. No replacement job on the horizon.

      I was fortunate enough to have saved quite a bit of money by this point (thanks to my boss’s very frequent raises). I did the most “millennial” thing possible and backpacked through Europe for a few months. Then came back to my country, visited family I’d not seen in years and found an office job.

    13. Akcipitrokulo*

      I didn’t so much quit as not come back after being off sick/they told me not to come back…

      Fencing company. Husband did the quotes and managed the fencers/labourers and wife did office work. They decided she needed help so I got placed there by job centre. (This was about 25 years ago.)

      First clue was when I was showing her excel, showed her how to hide a column, and she freaked out and yelled at me never to lose her data again and not to touch the computer unless I told her EXACTLY what I was going to do before I did it. Yelled when I put fingers near keyboard to do my job.

      I was a lot younger and a lot less confident at that point – was feeling sick going into work every day.

      Main issue was she was afraid that her position in the company was being threatened by someone who knew how to open a spreadsheet, and didn’t like someone else in her firm, doing admin work that was her playground.

      So when, on one Friday, one of the fencers closed the curtains (being helpful at end of day) and I got yelled and screamed at for 15 minutes about why I should not have done that, I was done.

    14. Jadelyn*

      I decided to start actively searching because 1: I’ve been jerked around on a promised promotion and wage increase for about 8 months now and I’m super over it, 2: I’m being paid less than the temp admin they brought in to help take admin stuff off my plate so I could focus more on the specialist stuff I’m supposedly being promoted into officially doing, even though I’ve been here almost 4 years and she’s been here 6 months, and 3: I keep getting cut out of discussions and processes related to the specialist area I’m supposedly working in by the senior specialist on the east coast. So I’m done. Since they don’t seem like they’re going to actually follow up on their promises to me, I’m going to go find a specialist role (which I’m well-qualified for by now anyway) somewhere else.

    15. TheCupcakeCounter*

      Doing old job and new job for nearly 18 months while being lied to by upper management regarding why the backfill posting kept being taken down. Luckily my immediate supervisor hated what was going on and kept me in the loop (which is the only reason I stayed so long). The final, final straw was when I got dinged on my review for not completing both jobs at 100%. Boss and I both quit over that one.

    16. Anon4This*

      I got called into a disciplinary for a conversation I had in my own private time that a colleague got wind of, decided it was about them, took offense and made a complaint to the manager they knew was already gunning for me.

    17. Coldbrewinacup*

      I was being bullied by a coworker, and we ended up in HR. Together. HR mishandled the situation, forcing us to sit in a room together to hash out our “personality conflict.” The woman verbally threatened me, cussed me out, and threw things at people, and they called it a personality conflict. Besides that, my boss refused to promote me, despite me having some of the best numbers in the department, and I was the only one still stuck in the entry level position even after being there over 3 years. She refused to give me the qualifications to be promoted, even though I asked several times and ended up going to her boss to ask what I needed to do to be promoted. Clearly they didn’t have qualifications for the promotion; it was random and based on how my boss felt that day or if you threatened to leave the department.

      I unfortunately burned my bridges by giving a hell of an exit interview, calling out my boss’s boss for poor management skills (my boss had been fired by this point), and letting them know it was inappropriate to force me into a meeting with the bully.

      To add insult to injury, because I put in my notice three days before bonuses were paid out (“performance” bonus for the previous year, while I was employed by them the whole time), they told me I didn’t qualify for the bonus.

      1. I See Real People*

        Yeah, even if the company contacts you and finds the exit interview helpful to them, it basically puts you on a do-not-rehire list.

    18. YarnOwl*

      At my last job, I worked on a really great team under a great boss in an otherwise dysfunctional company. My boss had to fight tooth and nail for us to get anything (our video guys to get new equipment, me, the dedicated writer, to get a new computer, etc.), and we always had crazy deadlines dropped on us from the owner of the company when he got these crazy ideas about something.

      There were a lot of things that I really disliked but that I put up with because I liked my boss a lot and because I knew my team would be screwed if I left. I was promised a raise, and 8 months later still hadn’t gotten it, the office environment was a nightmare (lots of guys from car dealerships), and the owner of the company was a total douche.

      But my final straw was when another manager that I was close with (not my own) told me that when my name was brought up in a meeting with a bunch of managers and some lower-level employees (something like, “Oh, I think YarnOwl can do that for us.”), the owner said, “You know, I don’t even know why she works here. What does she do? Why do we pay her?”

      I was so angry and annoyed and couldn’t believe he would say that in front of all of these people. I was hired to write scripts for instructional videos (which the owner liked to basically just improvise) and all of our customer surveys and feedback showed that people liked the videos way more when I was writing them than when he was just ad-libbing them. I started looking for a job that day, at the end of the week I had an interview, and the next Tuesday I had a job offer.

    19. Ramona Flowers*

      “I noticed you were five minutes late this morning.” When I had worked unpaid overtime the previous Sunday. (This was not meant to be a weekend job.)

      There were a lot of much bigger things wrong but this was the final straw that made me nope right out of there.

      That and everyone else got a free Particular Client Product when they started. It was a tradition, supposedly. I started as a freelancer and when I got hired on permanently I was all excited to get mine. Nope. Wouldn’t give me one. When I asked about it I was told if I really felt I must have one I could borrow one of the office ones. It wasn’t about the thing itself but being the only person not to get one.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        This was also the boss who, when I told him I used to work with colleague from another office who had just taken his own life, and would therefore be going to see the grief counsellor work had got on site, responded with this stunning display of non-empathy:

        “If you feel you must.”

        I regret not quitting right then, frankly.

    20. Borgette*

      Two years ago, I was working a data support role at a non-profit. By that point I had already tamed their chaotic system by implementing processes aligning each local program, and had created several user friendly tools and reports drastically reducing the time to collect and analyze their data. Everything was moving smoothly – but I was running out of interesting challenges, and there was simply less to do. We started talking about re-structuring my role, and I was totally on-board.

      During this time, I spent a month working on a special project with the R&D team along with “Alex”, a co-worker who was awesome with numbers but working in a direct service role. Long story short, I wound up spending 12 hours the weekend before it was due re-doing Alex’s work because of a small mistake early in their process.

      A month later, the R&D team creates a new role and posts it. My manager and the R&D team encourage me to apply, and I do. Later I find out that Alex has also applied, and we’re the only candidates. I’m trying not to get my hopes up, but I’m fairly confident about my chances – I have a good track record with the organization, am more familiar with the organization’s external reporting, and I know that I’m stronger with Excel. (I was basically tech support for the direct service staff.)

      A month(!) after the interviews, the hiring manager sets up a meeting with me at a local Starbucks. No indication on whether this is a second interview, an offer, a rejection, or an unrelated project kickoff. At the meeting she tells me they’ve hired Alex for the role. It’s not a bad choice – Alex has a master’s degree, experience doing research, and is an *awesome* person – but I’m surprised and deeply disappointed.

      Then, in the same meeting, she tells me that they’ve decided to create a second, junior, role for me, and that they’re so happy to be working with both of us, and then talks about upcoming projects. I ask for some time to process the information, and try to make the most graceful exit possible under the circumstances. By some miracle, my hormonal self does not cry before leaving the Starbucks.

      Later that week we talk details. The salary for this role would be 6% higher than what I was making. (Still >15k below the expected starting salary for my degree.) They weren’t willing to negotiate on hours (I had been working 32 hours per week and really valued the extra free time) or vacation time. I asked for an additional 5k, she said that I ought to be grateful for a 6% increase. I told her that I was so very sorry, but could not accept the position. I felt insulted by the low offer and was furious at how it had been communicated, and everyone else was *shocked* that I had turned the offer down.

      Reader, I found a job offering 15k more within a month. Now, two years later, I’m making twice the salary she offered, am doing half as much work, and use tools that are great to have on a resume.

    21. H.C.*

      For me, it was when OldBoss promised us comp time for going above & beyond to launch a project, only to deny ever making that promise when I brought it up (for a random day or two off) after the project is up & smoothly running (again, from all the extra work our team did to troubleshoot post-launch.) The job was otherwise fine for the most part, but I can’t deal with promises that can’t be kept and – more importantly – lies that it was even made in the first place.

    22. Alli525*

      We hired a new senior person, and as one of the longest-tenured admins at the time, I was assigned to support him (admins got switched around a lot). He was the worst person I’ve ever met, and his terribleness was compounded by the fact that he genuinely thought he was a Good Person so never took responsibility for his behavior. He made my life hell for nine months, including refusing to follow company procedures and getting mad at me for forcing him to, plus having what I thought were candid talks that he then reported a twisted version of to the CEO in an attempt to (I assume) get me fired. Luckily the CEO loved me, so I managed to hold on to my job by my fingertips.

      He was eventually reassigned to someone else, which was presented to me as “We are taking you off Boss, you should consider this your final warning and we will be watching you, so make sure you make it work with your next boss.” I received a much smaller raise and bonus than I had in previous years, and my reputation was basically shot there … until he terrorized his NEXT admin (she quit) and then left the company after some sort of dumb existential crisis. I walked straight up to the CEO at the next happy hour and said “I told you so, didn’t I?” CEO acknowledged it, and I was promoted at the end of that year, but at that point I was so fed up with the way I’d been treated that I started looking elsewhere and got a new, non-admin gig in a different industry about 3 months later.

      Old Boss is the only person I know personally who I would not spit on if I walked past him on fire.

    23. BookishMiss*

      A co-worker showing up in black face and the boss/whole office thinking it was hilarious.

      …there have been many last straws of similar absurdity since, and I still haven’t found a new job. But that’s what made me decide that I had to leave. Now I just keep a log so that when I write my book I get it all right.

    24. anon for now*

      After a long string of communication issues and lack of teamwork, our manager told my team we were being moved from our office with four cubes into the lobby of the directors office (about half the size), where folks would have to walk through the center of our cubes to get to the conference room, and that there would be 2 extra cubes in the space ‘for storage’.
      I protested and eventually convinced them to drop the extra ‘storage’ cubes and rearrange the layout so that the rest of the team wouldn’t be constantly interrupted by people going to and from the conference room – but the fact that they had designed and gotten a quote on the initial layout without even talking to us about the move was the final straw, and I immediately started looking for a new job.

    25. superanon*

      changed name for this one, but i was new to a team from another intra-department team. was verbally harassed and put in an unstable environment. my boss (head of the entire department) and another director let above said employee go off on me for an hour in a room. they made me miss a huge family event. i was having panic attacks walking in to the office everyday. after the yell fest i said i was not coming in and wanted my desk to be moved… so they moved me to be directly in front of and across the aisle from said yeller. was told that while we had a huge deadline coming up it would be great if i could just ignore what happened for the time being.
      i put in a week’s notice on the day my bonus paid out for fear of it being revoked. i was called crass by a manager.
      just now getting over everything that has happened. i try not to waste too much time thinking about what happened. i’m in a much better place, (stable work environment, nice people, normal hours).
      the icing on this cake? i work in HR.

    26. Incantanto*

      If it hits January and the payrise they promised will happen in January related to a promotion in August doesn’t come through, I’m out of here. Especially as they’re going to play the “CEO is unwell card”

    27. Tmarie*

      I was a young 25 year old, fairly naive about certain life skills. I was working for a CPA office at a branch office and was given the task of ordering a custom built conference room table. At that point in my life, every piece of furniture I owned was some relative or others leftovers. EVERY PIECE.

      So, after a few follow ups with the partner, my manager kindly offered to do the task himself. The very next time the partner came to our office and inquired about the project I very brightly (because I was relieved not to be doing the task) said “Mike is handling it!”.

      Well, you would have thought I killed his puppy. His face went red, he started pointing at me, and said, “I don’t care if GOD tells you he will do something, you listen to ME”. I’m not even a believer, and I was gone six weeks later. Gone to a job that I had for twenty years gone.

    28. Fenchurch*

      My “last straw” like so many others had to do with a HORRIBLE manager. She was only a few months older than me at the time and I was 25.

      She had her own office to make private calls, but was CONSTANTLY having loud conversations with her mom and boyfriend in the middle of our lobby (worked at a bank) right by where customers entered. She did this the entire 6 months I was there, often complaining loudly about us workers. The worst was when she was the only person who could help a caller and refused to help. I asked the customer for a call back number and they got upset because this was the 3rd time we asked for one and never followed up.

      I told her that, and she literally said, “That’s rude. I was in the middle of a really personal call with my mom.”

      This prompted me to go above her to raise these concerns with her boss. I got REAMED OUT for insubordination, and spent an hour with my manager yelling/crying at me wondering why nobody liked her.

      I left 2-3 weeks after that. THANK GOD.

    29. Windchime*

      I was already looking like mad because of a terrible, toxic culture. But the final straw was my sociopathic manager giving me my assignments — she listed them on the board as 1, 2, and 3. I finished #1 first (because that’s how numbers work), and she demanded to know why I had thought that was my first priority? That was the point when I knew that there was no way on earth I would survive working for this stupid, crazy woman. Thank goodness the job I had in the pipeline made me an offer in the next couple of days.

    30. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)*

      They wouldn’t let me take half a day off unpaid so that I could drive 400 miles over the mountains in December in the daylight for a weekend conference, rather than having to drive all night after work.

  9. Joy*

    (Note: this isn’t something I’d do, just wondering about)

    Has anyone ever been tempted to ask for feedback about interviews…where you’ve been successful? I don’t mean the ones you’ve turned down (‘cos I doubt that would sit right with anyone) but the jobs you’ve actually accepted?

    I know that sounds like an exercise in narcissism, but it’s actually from a place of insecurity on my part. Like…did you choose me because I was the best candidate, or because everyone else was completely incompetent? Did you spot a particular quality during the interview that swayed your decisions (and is it possible it was a misconception)?

    (This could be a form of imposter syndrome, but I hesitate to use that term here since some commenters seem strongly averse to it).

    1. Second Lunch*

      I actually asked my manager that question during my exit interview. And it solidified why it was a good decision to leave the company. I was hired as a content manager, but felt like they didn’t value my strategic direction and only wanted me to churn out blog post articles.

      When I asked, I guess I was hoping they would say they hired me because of multiple strengths, but my manager just said that “I was a good writer”.

    2. Allypopx*

      I did this with the person who hired me for my current position. He liked that I asked about the culture and his management style, and he said I presented myself as confident and relaxed. (Which was hilarious to me because I was probably quite anxious).

      I had a good relationship with him and it came up fluidly in a conversation about hiring. I think if you have a good rapport it’s doable. I would frame it as working on personal growth. “I’m trying to really get a grasp on my strengths and weaknesses so I know what works well for me and what I have to work on. What were your first impressions when you hired me? Do you remember what set me apart from other candidates?” and I don’t think that has to be awkward.

      Sidenote: Are people averse to imposter syndrome? I thought we accepted that concept as a community.

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      I haven’t asked about it, but I’ve had co-workers and bosses volunteer the information. “When we were interviewing for your position…. We picked you because….”

    4. Aly_b*

      I’ve been at my company for almost 5 years and was kind of wondering about this now that I’m starting to get involved in hiring myself. I looked back at my cover letter and was like yeah, I’d call this person for an interview, no question. And thought back to my interview and yep, I’d hire me. So if you give it some time the question might clear itself up.

      1. Artemesia*

        My own hiring file fell into my hands when I became department director and I am embarrassed to admit I read it. It was a very competitive hiring situation and there was a local candidate who was considered a lock by many. During my interview, one of the committee asked me if I planned to have more children. I had a two year old son at the time. I just looked at him and said ‘well that is between me, my husband and God.’ as a way to avoid an inappropriate discussion. When I read the file, I learned that one member of the committee had supported me over the local candidate because of ‘my strong Christian faith.’ I am and have been since late adolescence a freethinker. The world moves in mysterious ways.

        1. Jadelyn*

          …there’s something oddly satisfying in the fact that what was basically a polite way to tell an interviewer to shut the f*** up turned out to be what made at least one person want to hire you.

        2. Ramona Flowers*

          My line manager told me she once accidentally ended up with a copy of some of the notes made during her interview. She shredded it without reading it as she decided ignorance was bliss!

    5. Elizabeth West*

      I didn’t ask, but AwesomeBoss at Exjob told me I’d done well at the interview, and she was very impressed with my editing sample. Apparently, according to her, I blew everybody else’s sample out of the water. God, I miss working for her.

      1. H.C.*

        Similar situation about my CurrentJob – and my samples isn’t even my best writing/editing examples, just the flashiest-looking ones (infographics, brochures, mag articles & the like). I have no idea that just semi-decent writing was that rare a commodity (& I’m curious at what other candidates submitted.)

        1. H.C.*

          P.S. I did disclose upfront that most of the design/layout work for those flashy samples was done by a colleague and my contribution was primarily with the text.

    6. Jen RO*

      I like to tell people good things about their interviews. I figure it will help them gain more confidence and be more relaxed in the future. In some cases, with people I had a good relationship with, I even told them that their resume/interview/writing sample were not terrific, but that they turned out to be stellar employees.

    7. Fortitude Jones*

      I already know exactly why I got hired into my new role as a proposal manager – my cover letter. The Senior Director of the team I’ll be working with said that letter was what got me in the door, and it was fantastic – one of the best he’d read in awhile. Since it’s a writing job, that pretty much sealed it for me. Plus, the manager I’ll be reporting to is a former journalist, as am I, so she and I vibed throughout the interview – she kept relating to everything I was saying.

  10. Snarkus Aurelius*

    PSA to job applicants:

    If you have to answer screening questions that inquire about your specific knowledge of a legal field and your college degree, do not lie and say you possess those two things. I will know it. You know why? Because I’m literate, and I possess critical thinking skills.

    Yes, I will read the entire application and check for these requirements. No, I will not be wowed or charmed into overlooking your lacking job qualifications. Yes, my time will be wasted because I have to manually eliminate a lot more people rather than the automated system, which is why we use that system.

    Follow directions, people! That’s a requirement in every job. You’re not right for this job, but you might be right for another.

    [insert the NBC More You know star here]

    1. Lisa B*

      I’m so irked by candidates who see we use obscure software X in the job application, put software X on their resume, and are SOMEHOW SHOCKED that it comes up in the interview. “Expert user of Software X” turned into “I’ve seen it before and watched someone use it.”

      1. Akcipitrokulo*

        In interview I was asked about knowledge of X. I explained I’d self-taught and would say about 2-3/10, but was very interested in learning more. (I’d put it on CV as “Basic knowledge of X”). Got the job. And the training ;)

      2. Tau*

        I once managed the opposite. Job required X. I’d never used X, but had used Y, which is pretty similar, and was looking to switch over so thought I’d give it a shot. There was a skills test in X, which I managed to muddle through with my knowledge of Y and the documentation.

        In the interview, afterwards: “You did really well on the skills test, but I don’t actually see X anywhere on your CV. Where do you know it from?”
        Me: “I… don’t?”

        I got the job. :)

    2. Snarkus Respondus*

      PSA to hiring managers who are setting up their automated recruitment systems:

      Before automatically disqualifying people because they don’t have an exact degree or exactly 3.14159 years of experience in Field X, please think about whether or not it is truly necessary, or just nice to have.

      (Note: This is not directed at Snarkus Aurelius, and in some cases, specific exclusions are a good thing – if you’re hiring a cardiac surgeon, and someone has lots of experience in Podiatry, but not Cardiac Surgery, that is probably not going to work out well … but if you’re hiring for an IT generalist role, does it really matter that my degree is Information Systems, not Computer Science?)

      1. DaniCalifornia*

        I am (thankfully) seeing more job ads out there say ‘College degree preferred or relevant working experience’ As a non traditional student who will finish in the next year or two I am so happy to see more of this! I suspect I get filtered out by automatic systems all the time for admin work. Which is dumb, because I’ve been an admin for 11 years and not one job I’ve had or interacted with needed a degree. Most need a good worth ethic and common sense. None of my friends in college (when I was young and now) have ever told me ‘Yeah I’m here to get a degree to be a receptionist.’

      2. Akcipitrokulo*

        Once worked on a system that had screening checks for “essential” and “desirable”. Users could customise any way they wanted, but most rejected anyone without essential and put forward anyone missing a desirable. So essential 2 years, desirable 5 would but through anyone inbetween.

      3. JustaTech*

        The one that is currently driving me wild with frustration is “you must have X degree *and* that degree must include 12 quarter-hours of llama combing (llama brushing is not acceptable)”.

        This is a very common degree, so they must only want people from a specific program but aren’t allowed to say that.

      4. Anion*

        …and don’t put “degree preferred but not essential” and then refuse to let through any applicants who don’t have that degree.

  11. DaniCalifornia*

    This is long, but I just have to vent/wonder about/laugh at the situation I had this week. I have had such a weird interview/possible job offer this week. I applied to be an EA/Project Manager at a firm that provides concierge services to companies. Prepped a lot for the interview. Had said interview this week and it was just bizarre. During the interview I never finished one sentence let alone two. Almost all of my responses were interrupted by a new question, or the owners going off about how well I could accomplish task A and B for them, or a completely unrelated story. Sometimes they would stop and ask each other about where they were on a certain project. The entire thing was about 40 minutes of sheer ridiculousness. I heard about former assistants who didn’t work out and all the reasons they didn’t, as well as their FIRST AND LAST NAMES! The interviewers would start to explain an aspect of the position and then go off on tangents, or other unrelated stories. It was truly like an episode of the office and I left amused yet not really sure if I wanted the job. Almost apathetic. (I think I was just happy to have a first real interview.) They seemed to give off a work hard play hard (because the company is doing fantastic) and all I saw was play. I’m not great at gauging people and am learning a lot so I had no immediate urges to RUN AWAY, but I also wasn’t any more excited about the position.

    The kicker is during the interview the owners said all kinds of things to me including:
    “We picked you because you had a one page resume.”
    “Do you have to give your work 2 weeks notice? We could use you like yesterday?”
    “Well if your boss let’s you go on the spot, would you want to start sooner?”
    “Oh you’re making X salary, I’m sure you’d like to make more and we could do that.”
    “When you work here, you’ll be working with so and so.”
    They also asked all the questions that are legal but not good to ask (“Are you married?” “Do you have kids?” “Pets to take care of?” “Is your husband okay to take care of your pets if you’re gone?” “Well you’re certainly not 20 if you’re in school but your work history goes back 10+ years?”)

    Now I know nothing said in the interview is a promise of a job offer unless they actually say “We’d like to offer you the job.” I left and then followed up with them the day after thanking them for their time and asked a few questions about traveling and how much travel was expected, when we did travel, were weekends expected to be worked? If travel was more than 2-3 weeks (they indicated that some trips were 4-8 weeks) were there opportunities to fly home for the weekend? Were there ever trips that were back to back? (Side note: I’ve never had to travel for work, and don’t think I’d like doing it more than 25% of the time, especially if I had 2 back to back 4 week trips.

    The owner responded incredibly rudely to me saying if I went home on weekends I would miss out on bonus money for traveling (which was never mentioned in the interview) and that since the companies we serve work weekends, weekends are better worked. That they don’t often fly home unless it’s the holiday. And then they ignored my other question. They then went on to say that “Another issue we have is your X salary is higher than we can start you but depending on your work with the bonuses you could make higher than your current X salary. You are young and already making X salary which is pretty good for your age and background. You should think about your career and potential and do you want to stay and stagnate where you are. We can’t you start you at X salary but you could possibly make more here.”

    Well this was the HUGE RED FLAG I needed, so I politely responded basically telling her “Thanks for the extra info, I have decided to withdraw my application. I appreciate your time.” The owner then responds with You’re welcome. I just can’t start you at X salary which is higher than others but the first year you would make X salary +$25K if you traveled 2-3 times a year.”

    WHAT?!? I finally get an answer how about much travel I would be doing. And you can’t start me on my current salary but are promising me my X salary plus $25K? Where is that extra $25K coming from? With all the flip flopping/oversharing/unprofessional I am so glad I wasn’t excited for this job and withdrew. Now I have my crazy interview story.

      1. DaniCalifornia*

        I’ve technically only had 2 with them (1 interview, 1 email) but I get what you’re saying. I’m still glad I sent the follow up email because it confirmed 100% I don’t want to work for them.

    1. neverjaunty*

      Have you ever read one of those fairy tales where the good heroine is granted the magical power to have gold and jewels drop out of her mouth every time she speaks, and then the wicked stepsister gets cursed to have toads and spiders drop out of her mouth every time she speaks?

      These people are like that, only with red flags.

      1. DaniCalifornia*

        LOL I had not heard about those. I am an avid reader of this site so while sitting there I kept thinking “Alison would tell me to run away!” It was unfortunately a waste of my time, but a good practice for my job search!

      2. TL -*

        In Gail Carson Levine’s retelling of that (which is epic), the princess with gold and jewels is swept up by the prince and guilted into talking 24/7, which is quite miserable. The sister with the toads and spiders terrifies the townspeople into throwing her a birthday party every week and ends up owning a racetrack for creepy-crawlies. (eventually things work out for the better for the nice sister, though)

    2. Fortitude Jones*

      “Another issue we have is your X salary is higher than we can start you but depending on your work with the bonuses you could make higher than your current X salary.

      Yeah, I would have bailed here too. The position I just accepted had a base salary that was $3k less than what I currently make. When I told the HR rep this during my phone screen, she went back to the hiring committee of managers/directors, and they agreed to come up $5k, which is only $2k less than what I said I wanted to make to leave my current company. They also claimed we get quarterly bonuses, plus salary review is in April, so with those things factored in, I’ll be making at least $7k more than I do now (I’m not counting on those bonuses or the raise though – anything can happen). My point here is, they wanted me bad enough to at least meet me halfway and exceed my current salary – if a company isn’t willing to do that, they clearly don’t want you bad enough.

  12. Lola*

    There was a post on LinkedIn with the headline that was something like “Ask this one question to get the job”. I thought maybe someone’s found AAM’s ‘magic question’. But actually, this was the question (linked to Inc.) that they’d suggested:

    “What’s the company’s biggest threat to success this year, and how will I be able to help overcome it in this role?”

    It sort of sounds like a…reverse-pain-question? So instead of pitching random ‘problems’ and offering solutions, this is sort of asking them to do the job for you?

    So for hiring managers, how would you feel if a candidate came in with that question?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It’s going to be totally irrelevant to a ton of jobs. There’s a weird thing going on with job advice where a bunch of it is tailored to one very specific type of job, like sales, and overlooks the fact that there are loads of other sorts of jobs where this kind of thing will just cause an awkward moment with the interviewer, because the real answer is “it’s above the pay grade for this role.”

      1. Lisa B*

        Agreed! Now if they brought it down *several* levels, and said “what are some challenges IN THE DEPARTMENT that I might have a role in addressing or should know about or I could have input into, that would be a much more positive interaction.

        1. periwinkle*

          I asked something along those lines – what is a critical goal of the department and what would the successful person in this role have done to contribute to success if that goal is achieved? (thankfully I managed to find a less awkward wording at the time)

          Asking that question probably got me the offer, and their answer to it is why I accepted immediately. But I stayed at the department level since I’m not an executive dealing with organizational threats!

      2. neverjaunty*

        Right. If the real answer is “the current political climate, which your position has nothing to do with, and is being handled about ten pay grades higher”, it’s going to be awkward.

      3. kittymommy*

        Lol, I can’t imagine the response if your interviewing for a mid level position (or even entry level) at an international company and ask this . “Well were under investigation in Singapore, but yeah, you anseering phones for us at the Rochester office will definitely help…”

      4. boris*

        Although on the plus side, if I get a candidate for my entry level job who can provide definitive answers to how Brexit will play out in terms of our funding and solve them, she’s got the job.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      What if the company’s biggest threat to success is a management that’s unwilling to change? How is some random new person going to overcome it?

      1. Mephyle*

        Not to mention, how is one of the change-blockers going to answer that question? “Our biggest threat to success is people who think they are disrupters who can solve everything by turning established systems upside down.”

    3. ThatGirl*

      I have long asked what the challenges facing the ROLE I’m interviewing for are, and then discussed how I can help with those, but that seems wildly different from assuming I can fix the company from the ground up or something.

    4. Snark*

      I would feel amused, in sort of a tired, eye-rolling kind of way, and I’d take them vastly less seriously as a candidate. It’s a gimmicky question and, unless the person asking it would be a high-level decision-maker, a pretty useless one.

      1. Danger: Gumption Ahead*

        I’d come up with something like “climate change” and then see them try to figure out how to answer

  13. Jimbo*

    Question for employees of private companies who are government contractors. How open are you in social media about your political leanings and activities? Do you feel the need to be careful — or not really — about what you “like” or comment on, share, the substance of the comments you make, etc?

    I am job hunting and I am getting noticed by government contractors. My primary background are nonprofits and I have no experience working for contractors. I am just wondering if there are best practices or guidelines to be mindful about as I explore employment in an unfamiliar sector.

    Federal employees have pretty stringent guidelines under the Hatch Act. Contractors are not considered Federal employees. But I wonder if there are “unwritten rules” known to industry insiders that won’t be apparent to those outside the field.

    I’ve always been open about my political leanings and opinions about issues, politicians and public figures in social media. I even blogged for several years about politics. I don’t indulge in abusive behavior, obscenity, or trolling. But I have taken strong stances on controversial issues and have posted stuff that actively oppose or are critical of certain people in government and specific policies.

    I am seeking jobs where I have no control over what contracts the employer is working on. There is possibility, I imagine, of working at a firm that might serve a contract for an agency whose leaders I may have criticized in the past. Is being open about your politics in social media something to be careful about in government contracting?

    1. Observer*

      It can’t hurt to be careful. I’m not even talking about doing stupid things like flipping off the President and then using a picture of that in your own social media. But being generally discreet about you political leanings is just a good idea when you want to work in that field. It’s true in the non-profit sector, as well.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I’m a contractor for the Feds, and I’m very political on social media, often publicly, but my employer is very liberal and so is my sole client. I make sure not to post those during work hours, even retweets, even though I have work reasons to be checking social media during work hours. But YMMV, it really depends on your employer and your client. I will say that I probably do try to be a little less hyperbolic/vitriolic in my public posts because I know it could be part of how I am viewed professionally, but it’s possible to still be very passionate and vehement and still sound reasonable.

      1. Snark*

        Pretty much all of this, as a fellow Fed contractor – though I can assume my client is not generally liberal. I tend to be pretty assiduous about restricting the audience of political posts and I have my privacy settings well sorted. I also have things set such that my employer is not visible, so that it cannot be construed that I am speaking on their behalf.

        I generally tend not to weigh in in a highly political fashion on the doings of my client agency, just as a matter of prudence, and I generally tend to express myself in a more objective, factual way about political issues rather than uncorking heated rants. And of course I avoid discussing politics at work.

    3. callietwo*

      I haven’t concerned myself with this, though I am a private non-profit agency employee contracted to the state, mostly because the company ED and upper management are pretty open with their own leanings and I’d say I’m more aligned with their leanings. I think if I differed, I might behave differently, though.

    4. Polity*

      I am government contractor. My place of business is also structured a non-profit, though we do a lot of government defense work. Both as part of our non-profit status and as part of our actual government contract, we do have to be very careful of our political statements.

      That doesn’t mean you can’t engage in politics. You can’t do it at work with work resources, and you can’t use your official position to do it, and you can’t give the appearance of using your position to do it. You do have to be extremely careful with your social media because of it. Some jobs, especially high-profile ones, are best off just never talking about it at all. If you are going to comment on it, it would help to keep a separate work social media from your political social media, so nobody gets the impression that you, the Gov’t Expert in Subject X, are endorsing a candidate because of your expertise in Subject X for the Government.

  14. Second Lunch*

    Hey folks, my current job has turned fairly toxic so I’m desperate to get out. I’d like some outside perspective though to make sure my job searching tactics aren’t too aggressive or inappropriate. I’ve been reading AAM archives on networking & applying, but I’m still trying to wrap my brain around the concept.

    I applied for a role through normal HR systems, but I’m wondering if I can email a manager that I interviewed with last month (who is in the same department as the role), Jane, to recommend me to the new role hiring manager as a good culture fit match. The job with Jane was pulled because funding wasn’t approved, but in the rejection letter, Jane directly called out that she thought my skills and personality would’ve been a great match for the team.

    Problem is, I can’t find who the new hiring manager is. I’ve tried emailing the HR rep I was working with, but he hasn’t responded. And even though they’re in the same department, I suspect that it could be a large department with multiple functions, so Jane may not even work directly with this unknown hiring manager. Can I still send her a note that I’ve applied?

    1. Jimbo*

      In my experience, unless you are a known quantity to the hiring manager, reaching out to them after you have already sent in an application to HR most likely will not make a big difference. If it is time consuming or takes a lot of effort to identify the hiring manager, the effort is probably not worth it. There was a post at AAM a couple of weeks back that addressed appropriate and inappropriate ways to apply for jobs via social networks

    2. Hillary*

      I’d email Jane to let her know you applied and are excited about the opportunity, and that you’d appreciate if she’d pass on your info if she thinks it would be a fit. (my language sounds horribly passive-aggressive Minnesotan, I’m sure there’s a better way to ask without sounding pushy.)

      I had one job where I came in as a contractor, my director had never seen my resume when I applied directly six months earlier.

    3. Help!*

      I think you definitely should send a note. Make it light and something she can easily recommend you or not. I had a similar situation after several recent interviews, where my interviewer told me they went with someone else BUT were very impressed and please let them know if they can help. This worked well for me a few times. You can just mention you applied, really impressed w the team, etc. and let them take it from there on whether they recommend you. You could even just ask if they know who the hiring manager is; I don’t think that’s weird!

      Another tactic in the future is to mention this in your cover letter. “After interviewing with so and so, I was very impressed with [whatever]; it sounds like an exciting time to be [on the team/at the company].” I did this just to make it clear I’d had recent experience with the company and had some knowledge going in.

  15. Exotic Xur*

    How should I list a master’s program on my resume that I didn’t finish (or should I leave it off)? I completed all of the course work but not my thesis. It’s been too long to finish my thesis (per university policy) and I can’t imagine finishing it anyways so inquiring about an exception is not an option. I started the program in 2011 and am five years into my career. Possibly relevant info: It’s in arts administration, I have another master’s in music performance, and I work in fundraising (all types of organizations, not just arts organizations). Also, should I take the years off my degrees; I’m 31.

    1. KL*

      I’d keep the degrees you completed, but leave off the one you didn’t finish. I didn’t complete my PhD (left after passing prelims), and I think now it’s just better to leave that one off, but leave my BS and MS.

    2. Rex*

      Given where you are in your career, I’m going guess that you have lots of great work experience that belongs on your resume. Since this degree is at best adjacent to your career path, I’d probably leave it off in favor of things that better strengthen your resume.

    3. Jillociraptor*

      I’d include anything that specifically strengthens your application (e.g. if you’re moving into a newer area of your field where you don’t have direct experience but did successfully complete coursework), but other than that, I’d leave it off. I’m in the same boat, and the only times it has been useful to my candidacy to have two thirds of a Masters has been talking about formal training in a specific research methodology that’s interesting in my field. While I have lots of on-the-job experience demonstrating that I can deploy the skills, it has occasionally been helpful to show that I’m not just self-taught or winging it successfully. On the whole though, including it has raised more questions than provided support to my application, so I almost always leave it off.

    4. CAA*

      One line under the MA in Music Performance that says “2 years of additional masters degree course work in Arts Administration”.

    5. H.C.*

      I would say 40s or late 30s is about time to take your graduation years off, esp if you have post-graduate education/degrees since those fall in a less rigid time frame than bachelor’s.

      I agree with others that you should either leave off the arts admin part or indicate that you’ve taken/completed masters-level coursework in arts admin (which doesn’t give the impression that you’ve received or still in-progress for a Master’s)

      P.S. thanks for the reminder about Xur location (I’m a latecomer to D2 since I’m a PC player) :D

  16. CBH*

    This is long. A Friend recently came to me for advice with something going on in the friend’s workplace. I honestly didn’t know how to answer it. Any advice from anyone?

    Before I start, I do believe John is a great mentor that made a bad judgement call. He is not “evil”. He has a big brother/ mentor type relationship with a lot of people in the company. Sue can be passive at times which may have caused John to make such a decision. Our story begins…..

    Sue, was hired by a well known local company. The company realizes its main product is becoming obsolete due to changing times/ technology and they are revamping the whole company. Sue is known for being a hard worker in this niche, respects her peers and boss.

    Sue was hired to work for John in Department A. Sue was replacing Nick, who made a lateral transfer to Department B. Depts A and B work closely together each needing work from one another to complete projects.

    Because of how closely Depts A and B work with one another, vacation time is looked at as if everyone is 1 department. Sue is the type of person who will cover for others when out, move her schedule around etc. As a result, John and Dept B’s boss usually make sure she is taken care of with her requests.

    On a side note, over the years John and Nick have become good friends. They hang out outside of work. They were best men in each other’s weddings; Godparents to each other’s kids; wives go shopping together; have BBQs… they’re close. Until Nick transferred not many people realized they were friends. As far as Sue could tell this was not against any company policy. Truthfully John and Nick kept work professional and their social life separate. However Nick had a lot more laid back work relationship with John whereas Sue was more formal with John. By formal, Sue didn’t ask John if he had season hockey tickets.

    Sue loves to travel and put in for 2 separate weeks off as soon as she was allowed. John and Dept Boss B immediately approved. There were some tours and events she and her family wanted to attend. Some time later, John asked if she could switch one of the weeks forward two weeks. John had a two week family reunion to attend at the same time. Sue being the team player said no problem even though it meant a lot of reorganizing and inconvenience in her vacation plans (no money was lost in rearranging).

    Just for timeline clarification, John would be gone for two consecutive weeks, followed immediately by Sue for a week.

    Sue comes back from her vacation and Nick is trying to dump a lot of his work on her. Sue pushed back and questioned why he was suddenly so far behind. After a drawn out conversation, Nick let it slip that week one of John’s vacation, when Sue was originally supposed to have off, John and Nick’s families went on fishing trip and then John went to his family reunion in week 2. Apparently John’s reunion plans weren’t formalized when he asked for the switch. Somehow Nick was invited to the reunion but couldn’t get off. End result John and Nick’s families went fishing and John attended the reunion missing part of it (for fishing).

    Let’s just say Sue was furious. On one hand it’s not Sue’s concern what John does on his vacation. On the other hand Sue’s family rearranged a very detailed planned international travel itinerary so John could go to a “family reunion”. In fact in the rearranged schedule, only about 90% could be accomplished that was in the original schedule. Based on company policies Sue should have had first choice for the vacation since she had her request in first. Dept B Boss had no idea any of this happened.

    John is noticing that Sue has been distant lately – no quick small talk breaks with him, keeping to herself around him, etc. Sue is not being rude, she still socializes with both departments and is her cheery self. Sue just feels like she is being petty and disrespectful if she tries to defend her annoyance to John. Whether John’s actions were innocent or intentional to get the week off, Friend doesn’t think John has a clue as to why Sue is ticked off. So should Sue say anything? How should she handle this? Friend says Sue is so furious being lied to. Sue has only vented to Friend outside the office.

    Just an FYI I am writing this as an inquiry as this issue has already been resolved in the workplace.

    1. WellRed*

      Regardless of the reason John was on vacation, the end result would have been the same. I mean, it wasn’t his best decision, but really, it’s not her business why he was out. Also, maybe Sue should stop overaccomodating everyone and everything at her job.

      1. Artemesia*

        She felt compelled as a subordinate to accommodate his ‘very important’ event which he then bagged to screw around with his friend i.e. the event wasn’t that important. She inconvenienced her entire family and loused up their vacation.

        I don’t know what can be done now, but I hope she has learned to make her own needs a priority and not be pushed around by bosses. It is a fundamental principle of power that bosses should know to their bones, that their requests are obligatory or viewed that way by subordinates. They should not casually trash other people’s plans just because they can. This is all on John for being an insensitive clod and not honoring the plans long approved and then not finding out if changes would be seriously inconvenient.

    2. Susanne*

      I think a tightly edited version of this story might get better response. There’s entirely too much backstory that seems irrelevant and I don’t get why the Nick piece is so important. It seems like the short version is – Sue asked for specific vacation times, John approved, then John asked her to switch so she did, and now she’s annoyed because … I’m not quite sure? What does Nick attending or not attending any vacation have to do with this?

      1. neverjaunty*

        It sounds like what’s really going on is that John and Nick are taking advantage of Sue being ready and willing to rearrange her life when they snap their fingers, and the thing that finally made Sue upset is that John lied to her. He didn’t say ‘me and my buddy Nick want to go fishing’, he told her it was a family obligation.

        And I’ll bet this is the first time that Sue has noticed, even on an unconscious level, that John doesn’t give her the respect she feels she has earned through her work ethic and willingness to bend over backward.

        What I don’t understand is the disclaimer about John not being evil or just having ‘bad judgment’. Literally, what does it matter what’s going on with John’s inner life? His and Nick’s *behavior* is pretty standard Self-Absorbed Dudeboss: a female subordinate is ultra-hardworking and accommodating and doesn’t complain, so, why not push work off on her / ask her to rearrange her life for your convenience / feed her a line of bullshit about why she needs to mess up her own vacation in favor of yours?

        What Sue should do is 1) stop bending herself in pretzels for John, 2) read Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office and take it to heart, and 3) get a job somewhere else.

        1. CBH*

          Hi Neverjaunty – just to clear a few things. I put the disclaimers because John is a somewhat new manager. He’s been in his department for ages as a one man show (and eventually with just him and Nick) and has grown, he was the natural choice for the manager position. So while he knows the job and industry, he is new to management. From what I am told, I honestly don’t think John realized what he was doing was wrong, which is why I put the disclaimer for bad judgement. I think the whole scenario was a wake up call for John.

          1. neverjaunty*

            Sure, but this isn’t just a failure of management skills as it is a failure of character. John lied to Sue for his own convenience, knowing (because she is dedicated, and because she is his subordinate) that she would rearrange her vacation. It would be jobnoxious if he pulled this on a close friend, too. I do hope he really understands why this was such a jerk move.

    3. Foreign Octopus*



      I can definitely understand Sue’s annoyance. If I’d worked hard to accommodate someone else and then discovered that they hadn’t done the thing they’d said they were going to do, I’d be peeved. It’s like asking for a day off to go to a doctor’s appointment, having people organise around you, only to have the appointment cancelled and take the day off anyway.

      However, that’s not the issue. The issue here is how Sue should handle it.

      As John has noticed that she’s a little more distant lately, it might be worth having a conversation to nip any tension in the bud. A small thing can lead to a big thing and before you know it good employees are leaving. I’d recommend that Sue and John sit down and have a chat. A possible script could be:

      “When you asked me to change my vacation week, I was happy to do so because I thought I was helping you out. However, I now realise that your plans weren’t finalised when you asked me. It was very inconvenient to change my travel plans like that and I feel upset that my holiday was disrupted by this [I was going to write “by your poor planning” but that feels a little accusatory). I hope that I’ve shown over the years that I’m more than happy to help other people out in various situations , yet I’m feeling that the same isn’t being reciprocated. How can we make sure that this doesn’t happen again?”

      I’m not 100% happy with the above but I’m sure other people will have better scripts.

      The important thing is that seems like a one-time poor judgement thing, not a pattern. Sue might also raise the possibility of favouritism between John and Nick, particularly if they’re taking holidays together and it’s affecting other employees vacation times.

      I’m not sure if any of this is what you’re looking for but I’d love to hear if Sue does talk to John.

    4. Haley*

      I agree, I have no idea what Nick has to do with this situation and a lot of the backstory could be edited out.

      In my opinon, I think what John did was wrong since basically took advantage of Sue’s accommodation and lying about why he needed her to change his plans. That said, Sue needs to grow a backbone – she should have said no to rearranging her vacation if it was already planned and she was approved for the time first.
      What role is your friend in all of this? Is your friend a colleague, a manager? I don’t know your workplace culture but it might make Sue feel better to actually stand up for herself and say something (even after the fact) and say “Hey, I don’t appreciate what you did, I think you took advantage of me being accommodating in the past in a way that really impacted my family’s plans, and from now on do not be surprised if I am less accommodating in the future.”

      If she’s not comfortable doing that, she can’t just keep stewing on this. She has to move on and realize that people will take advantage of her like what happened and she needs to start standing up for herself and realize that SHE HAS VALUE, AND HER PLANS HAVE VALUE. This is not only a workplace issue but a personal issue and a gender equality in the workplace issue.

    5. fposte*

      If I were Sue and I wanted to stay and flourish at that company, I’d talk to John. I’d want him to know that I really had to scramble to accommodate him and damaged my own vacation in doing so, and that I did so based on his attendance at an immovable and rare event, and it turns out it wasn’t. Does he see this as a mistaken one-off or do we need to see if we’re understanding vacation priority and boss’s prerogative the same way?

      I don’t think Sue’s ostensible passivity is a thing here. John may not be evil, but he really doesn’t seem to get that, as a boss, it’s inappropriate for him to ask somebody to rearrange their prioritized vacation for his own plans; people shouldn’t be put in the position of having to push back against their boss to take their planned and approved vacations.

      1. neverjaunty*

        I agree with you about her talking to John, but not that Sue’s passivity is not the issue. Sue is probably operating under the mistaken assumption that John recognizes her hard work and self-sacrificing attitude, rather than taking it for granted. She just got a wake-up call.

        1. fposte*

          Even that isn’t Sue’s passivity, just John’s misbehavior. But I was mainly reacting to the framing in the first post that seemed to be using that phrasing to suggest that some of this was Sue’s fault, when it really wasn’t.

    6. Emi.*

      I think it was really scummy of John to tell her a fishing trip was a “family vacation,” if he was deliberately lying to get her to be more accommodating (instead of just not having nailed down his plans). Buuuuuut it sounds like Sue maybe would have accommodated his fishing trip anyway, which would help explain why he doesn’t see a problem with it (especially if he thought the reunion would be in the first week when he asked her). Basically it sounds like John kind of took advantage of Sue’s being so nice all the time, but she was being so nice all the time and should probably cut it out.

      If John asked her to move her vacation to cover for Nick so he could come on the fishing trip, that DEFINITELY looks like favoritism and is a great example of why it’s a bad idea for managers to be so close with employees further down the food chain, especially since it sounds like this started while Nick was reporting to John.

    7. CBH*

      Hey All thank you for your responses. Yes my story was a bit long. My apologies (I always joke one day I will write the great American novel and my descriptions do tend to get lenghty when trying to get a point across).

      As I said the issue has already been resolved. John and Sue were working late one night. Nick came to grab dinner and John asked Sue to finish up the project. Sue said she wasn’t able to. John was surprised but stayed and sent Nick away. The next day Sue asked to speak privately with John. She basically told him her feelings and how she felt used in trying to be a team player. It was definitely part vent and John was a bit shocked. After thinking of the situation John realized he was thinking of things socially not professionally. John has gone as far as taking a step back to evaluate situations and making sure at work there is a clear line between Professional and Social work. Sue seems happy with the outcome and many in Depts A and B have noticed positive changes.

      To clarify some questions – I am friends/ former coworker from another company with Friend; Friend is a current coworker of Sue

      Thanks again for your replies.

      1. Emi.*

        Way to go Sue! This sounds like a good outcome. But if what John means by “making sure at work there is a clear line between Professional and Social” is just “try harder not to let the fact that I’m best buddies with a junior employee influence me,” I don’t think that’s enough. He needs to not be best buddies with a junior employee–and since they’re each other’s kids’ godfathers (?!?!) that probably means he should move to a different division. Or Department Boss B should be in charge of approving time off (which would be its own mess).

        1. fposte*

          I would consider this a grey area that I wouldn’t preclude in some workplaces, but the fact that John has been this oblivious to the problem means I agree with you here. John has forfeited his “work near friends” privileges.

          1. Alli525*

            I personally would withhold judgment for a little bit longer, now that John has apparently finally realized that his past behavior was problematic. If he really makes lasting changes and corrects the favoritism issue, maybe the issue is resolvable.

        2. CBH*

          One of the areas John changed was asking for Boss B to be Nick’s manager in all aspects. Nick and John are great members of the team and the team benefits greatly by their work. Their just needed to be more definition to everyone’s role.

    8. LCL*

      I’m going to do my patented rephrasing everything in elementary school language, ‘cause I kinda got lost in the details myself.
      Sue asked her boss for two weeks off. Boss approved.
      John, a coworker asked Sue to rearrange her vacation time so he could go at the time he wanted. He used guilt to do so. In the US, a ‘two week family reunion’is not a thing that usually happens. When it does, it’s so different people in the family can visit at different times, nobody takes a whole two weeks for reunion except the hosts.
      Sue was guilted into moving her time and did so. She shouldn’t have, as it involved travel plans that had already been made.
      Sue found out from John’s fishing/drinking buddy that the two week reunion story was BS. Now she is mad.

      Conclusion-boss and boundaries at this company are weak. I’m not sure who the boss is in the post, or if it was even mentioned. Is John the boss? Or does some other person approve vacations?

      Sue should find out who boss is, and talk to that person. Tell boss that John jobbed her because she was a nice person, and she won’t be moving her vacation again. This doesn’t change if John is the boss. Sue shouldn’t waste any time telling John how she feels.

      1. a-no*

        i’m not 100% sure, but I think John is Sue’s boss and he asked her to move her vacation for him to go the reunion but it was really so co-worker Nick could go fishing for a week with boss John

    9. Fiennes*

      Pretty uncool of John to do, especially since a fishing trip would certainly be easier to rearrange than an overseas family vacation. John doesn’t sound evil, but he does sound very cavalier about inconveniencing others. Honestly, if I were Sue, I wouldn’t bother taking it up with John; he knew the full situation ahead of time and still felt fine lying to her about it. I’d keep it in my mind as I started wondering if it was time to move on to a place where managers respected their employees more.

    1. Lalaroo*

      I haven’t, but I’d try some free options first. For example, if you believe you were discriminated against based on a protected class, try filing a complaint with the EEOC first. That costs you nothing but time, and there are a couple possible outcomes:
      1. Your case is really strong and the EEOC decides in your favor, and you go through settlement talks with your employer and get compensation (monetary and/or non-monetary).
      2. Your case is really strong and the EEOC decides in your favor, and the employer refuses to mediate. The EEOC will file in court against the employer, at which point you can hire an attorney to intervene on your behalf.
      3. Your case is really strong and the employer settles during the investigation.
      4. Your case is not that strong but the employer settles during the investigation to make it go away.
      5. Your case is not that strong and the EEOC decides against you, in which case you can appeal and/or file in court after all.

      I really recommend this route first, if you are considering suing because you feel you’ve been discriminated against based on a protected class.

      1. Oh Yes she did*

        I currently have an EEOC complaint open against my former employer for violating the equal pay act. I went through my city’s Civil Righrs office (there is a state level one too). I would suggest doing that first since 1)sometimes local laws are more stringent and 2) they automatically co-file with the EEOC.

        Without going into details, I will say the civil rights folks are respectful of my story but the goal is clearly to force both parties to settle, rather than take bad behaving employers to court. I also didn’t hire a lawyer & had to collect/present/refute all evidence myself.

        I’m 9 months in & still waiting for a final judgement.

    2. LurkingAlong*

      My husband is currently suing his former company for wage theft. It’s a bit more complicated than a typical wage theft lawsuit but evidence is on his side. Is your situation similar?

    3. Not So NewReader*

      A friend sued an employer for medical bills because of on the job injuries. (The place was known for its hazards.)
      The suit dragged on for over a decade. The friend had to jump every time they said jump. Go to this doc, go to that doc, take this pill, take that pill, do this therapy, do that therapy. She lost most of her autonomy. Her life became centered around the lawsuit. She could not even be comfortable in her own yard as people were sent past her house to do activity checks. (OH, so your back hurts? Then how were you able to mow the lawn last Saturday?)
      After not working this entire time, the case was settled for two thirds of one year’s pay.

      Another thing to watch for is sometimes a settlement is meant to pay for your silence. You cannot talk about the case. Arguably, who would want to? Well, if there is any PTSD or similar issues going on that person would need to be able to talk about it. Or perhaps the person could want to warn a family member or friend not to go to work for this employer– fine, maybe you won’t get caught, but if you get caught you have a problem.

      1. Mimmy*

        Even going to counseling/therapy wouldn’t be an option? Those sessions are confidential unless the person is a threat to self or others.

    4. Chaordic One*

      I had a friend and former coworker who was fired and escorted from the building without being allowed to return to her desk. After she was fired the company failed to return her personal items and so she sued them in small claims court. After the employer was served with with notice of the suit, they promptly issued her a check for the amount she requested and so she never actually had to go to court.

  17. Sera*

    How long after starting a new job would you say your colleagues started acting like their ‘true’ selves? Not that they’re hiding anything at the start, but most of the time people behave differently around new people to what they would normally (I’m sure I do). Obviously this differs from person to person, but just from your individual experience (say using your most recent work experience)?

    1. Second Lunch*

      6 months – 1 year. Personally, I notice that I start changing around people when they’ve been here for that length of time because I stop giving them the benefit of the doubt for mistakes. I don’t necessarily show that I have higher expectations, but it’s definitely happening.

    2. Lillie Lane*

      3-6 months too. The one that took 6 months was reserved until I backed her up in a meeting. Now she is 100% authentic with me.

      1. a Gen X manager*

        That’s fantastic, but I’d argue that no co-worker is ever 100% authentic. Just something to consider :)

    3. kas*

      My current workplace I would say within the first week or so. They’re a crazy/fun bunch and didn’t hold anything back.

  18. Need advice please*

    My department has a short meeting first thing in the morning. I usually head straight to the work area and start working right after the meeting, but most people hang out in the break room for a while, have a cup of coffee, etc. before they head to the work area (where we are not allowed to have food or beverages).

    Yesterday, as usual, I went to the work area right after the meeting while all my coworkers hung out in the break room. Nobody else showed up in the work area more than 90 minutes into the shift, so I went to the break room to see what was going on. From the hallway, I heard my coworkers talking about me, so I stood outside the door to listen to what they were saying (maybe that was wrong of me, but I couldn’t help wanting to know what they were saying behind my back).

    They went on for several minutes talking about how much they hate me, and I’m such a bitch for insisting on doing my job correctly and expecting them to as well. I had a disagreement with someone the day before because he refused to give me information that I needed to do my job, and he told a highly exaggerated version of this story (he said that I violently threw a piece of paper across the room, when the reality is that I threw it in the trash can), and other people chimed in with examples of times they had disagreements with me (because I selfishly asked them to do things that were part of their job) plus some things that were just plain lies. They also made fun of me in general, including some mean comments about my weight (such as how scary I am because I am so fat I that can break things).

    Worst of all, our manager was there, too, laughing along with them and egging them on. All of this was while they were on the clock and supposed to be working, but I was the only one actually doing any work while they sat in the break room for an hour and a half trash-talking me, with the encouragement of our manager!

    What the hell do I do now? Obviously, I can’t go to my manager about this because he was not only participating but encouraging it. Am I crazy or was it inappropriate for my manager to participate in that (if he has an actual problem with me, shouldn’t he address it directly with me?)? Should I talk to his manager? Go to HR? Or just accept that I must deserve it because apparently I’m a gigantic bitch?

    1. Lalaroo*

      Wow. You do NOT deserve that kind of treatment! You need to start looking for a new job immediately. You can also go to HR if you think it will help (it should help, it would be correct for it to help, but as we all know sometimes HR doesn’t work like it should in an ideal world). But this job is not a good place. If multiple coworkers and your manager are joining together to say cruel things about you because you work “too hard,” that’s not a place that anyone needs to stay. Go somewhere they’ll appreciate your work ethic – those places exist, I promise.

      1. I See Real People*

        They do that here also. It varies which employee they’re talking about, but it goes on everyday.

    2. Murphy*

      OMG, that’s horrible! I would definitely either go to HR or your manager’s manager. You should not have to put up with that.

    3. Myrin*

      Honestly, I’d start looking for another job immediately (personally, I’d also resign immediately, but that’s because there’s usually a three months notice period in my country and I wouldn’t want to draw this out any longer than is has to be) – this sounds like a completely toxic department with a very unhealthy style of, hm, problem-solving and dealing with colleagues. And the fact that your manager joined in – wow! I don’t think there’s any saving this, I’m sorry to say.

      (And as an aside, should you ever get into a situation like that again – and I hope you won’t! – and if you think you’re able to go through with it, interrupt their circle of nastiness, pleasantly making it clear that you overheard. I’ve done this twice before and the embarrassment in the room was delicious and some of the most satisfying experiences I’ve ever had (I still wanted to cry after I’d left, though; that stuff never gets any easier).)

      1. Need advice please*

        There are a lot of other problems here, and I’d love to get another job, but unfortunately in my field there aren’t a lot of openings.

        I stood outside the door until the manager and one of the coworkers left, and they walked right by me, so I’m pretty sure they realized that I had heard at least part of what they said. They didn’t seem at all embarrassed about it, though.

        1. Natalie*

          Even though there aren’t many job openings, I would start looking for another job if you haven’t already. I hear you that it will take time, but it’s a 100% certainty that it won’t happen if you’re not searching!

    4. Lisa B*

      Depends- do you want to salvage the work relationship and stay there, or not? If you want to leave, which I TOTALLY support you on, stay classy, put in your notice and move on. If you want to stay, have the conversation with your boss. “I have something very awkward to bring up, but it’s important to me to have this conversation with you. I overheard you and colleagues talking about my professional and personal style and it really bothered me.” *allow moment for their mortification to set in* “While I’m hurt and upset that my personal life, like my weight, was being discussed so callously, I’m also concerned that there are issues with how I’m doing my work, and I want to talk about that with you to see what I need to improve on.”

      1. Need advice please*

        Thanks… I’d like to leave, but jobs in my field are pretty scarce, so I am probably stuck here for a while. Most of my coworkers are unhappy and looking for other jobs, too, and nobody has had much luck.

        1. Tau*

          If you’re stuck, something that may help keep you going:

          A lot of people don’t show their best faces in this sort of group situation, and may find themselves egged into saying something or agreeing with something they don’t mean. I can also imagine employees going along with this because they’re worried that if they noticeably disapprove the boss will make them the new target.

          Don’t get me wrong: it’s still not defensible, their actions are horrible, and I wish very strongly that you will find an excellent well-paying job with lovely people tomorrow and bid your current job farewell in a way that sends the message of “I, unlike you, am too classy to give you the middle finger but we all know that it’s there in my mind.” But it sounds like that’s not on the card, and in that case it may help to remember that chances are not all your coworkers dislike you that strongly. They’re just being cowards.

          I’m so sorry.

        2. Yetanotherjennifer*

          I’m sorry you’re working with such jerks. You say your coworkers are all looking but that they also have hours to sit in the break room trash talking and that they aren’t able to give you what you need to do your job. So maybe they aren’t the best yardstick for how easy it is to get a new job in your field. At any rate, I think officially looking would help you feel less stuck. Your options aren’t great, but you do have them and seeing them and actively choosing one can really help you deal with what seems like a no win situation.

      2. Bluebell*

        This is great advice, for either option you choose. perhaps you can also let us know how effective HR is in your workplace? sometimes they can help in situations like this, but other times not so much,. your manager sounds awful!

    5. EA*

      That was wildly wildly inappropriate of all of them! Mostly the manager!
      Honestly, you seem to work with slackers that are also mean shitty people. I would consider your options for getting out an enviroment that is toxic and a bad fit (you not being a slacker and all).
      At my last job, I often heard ping mangers talking shit about me to coworkers or themselves. I always wished I had the balls to just walk in and embarrass them. I never did. What I did do is be brave, go to them, and is say ‘I overheard xyz and would like you to bring any concerns you have with my work directly to me’ it was easier for me to do this knowing I was actively looking.
      I’m sorry about this- they are cruel children, I think you might find some satisfaction being incredibly professional to prove to yourself how much better you are than them

      1. Need advice please*

        Yeah, they can be mean but I didn’t realize until now how much they despise me. I have always been awkward and a loner, but I try to be nice and polite with these people. Some of the ones who were talking about me are people I actually thought liked me. The manager used to be a peer who worked closely with me and I thought he liked me, but obviously I was wrong about that. Some of my coworkers spend more than half their time on the clock surfing the internet (my manager knows this because he gets a monthly report from IT) and that is apparently fine, but I am a monster for asking for someone to fill out a form correctly with the information I need to do my job.

        1. EA*

          Try not to take it so personally. I know that is easier said than done.
          They most likely ‘hate’ you because you remind them that they are slacking off, which on some level they know is wrong. It is like you are ruining their screw around at work game. It is about them, and not you.
          I think some may actually like you, and just didn’t want to go against the mob so they joined in.
          I would just try and focus on what you have control of, like looking for another job, hobbies, taking care of your self.

          1. a Gen X manager*

            Actually I was shocked that OP is so calm and rational about this situation that happened just the day before! OP sounds a bit knit-picky and judgmental, but on the whole OP sounds level-headed and like a real adult.

            I wonder what OP can learn from this situation to apply / try / modify for the next opportunity?

            1. a Gen X manager*

              OP, it might help (in another job – don’t bother there!) to look at those informal communications/forming friendly relationships *as part of the job*. My preference is basically no human interaction, so I have to make myself do the chit-chat thing too, but it is absolutely necessary in office life.

        2. Jennifer*

          My officemates hate me too and none of us can get other jobs.
          You just have to ignore, ignore, ignore. Avoid speaking to them unless you absolutely have to. I’m sorry you are stuck dealing with this too.

    6. Master Bean Counter*

      First thing you do is brush up your resume. You need to move on from these horrible people.
      Second, go talk to HR, see if they can do anything.

    7. Marketing LadyPA*

      First, let me just say that this scenario is extremely unprofessional and you should definitely bring it up to your manager. Let them know you are disappointed in them taking part in this.

      Second, when you do talk to your manager, ask them for feedback on your interpersonal relationships and how you get along with the team.

      Is there any chance you are coming off really abrasive? If they are all having similar experiences with you, then maybe there is something in your approach that is coming across as offensive to them. I say this because you’ve repeated a few times about “I’m the only one doing any work” and that you “tell people to do their job” – people with this attitude tend to isolate their coworkers. This doesn’t excuse their behavior, but just food for thought.

      1. Skittering Kittens*

        It’s always something to consider.
        I am a pretty no-nonsense and direct person and when I’m in a rush or busy at work I tend to become very very direct with people. It never once occurred to me that it was coming off as abrasive to others until my manager pulled me aside to tell me. I’ve found since then, making a point to have a quick non work related chat every day and always greeting people by name before asking a question/demanding what I’m waiting on seriously changed how people perceived my abruptness even though I am still very no-nonsense. It made it less personal and made me more personable to them with just that small change.
        So again, that does not at all excuse the behaviour of your coworkers but it’s never a a bad thing to regularly self review.

    8. ..Kat..*

      I’m so sorry you had to experience this. If your manager or coworkers have problems with you, they should have been professional enough to discuss this with you directly.

      As everyone has said, start looking so that you can leave as soon as possible.

      Can you do something special for yourself this weekend? Do you have friends outside of work that you can confide in, get reassurance from?

      You don’t deserve this bad treatment, especially from your boss. Sending you an internet hug.

    9. Sharon*

      Your manager standing there and talking about his employee is so unprofessional. I wonder if his manager is aware of how totally unprofessional he is. This could be seen as bullying in the UK and should not be tolerated.

      I had a similar situation when I first started at my job. I was devastated but decided to ‘out wow’ them. I have always been a ‘worker’ and I made sure that I got on top of everything. When I had to chase up the lazy gits I would not even worry. I had my job to do and they were holding me back.

      A lot of it will be jealousy because they don’t want to do any work and you’ve come along and are showing them up.

      I’d hang on in there. Sometimes in these situations, someone starts the conversation and it becomes a bitching match some people just join but don’t really mean it. Not that that is right – but I bet they don’t all think the same way.

      I wish you luck and be brave.

  19. Sustaining Good Work Habits*

    Hi all! A few months ago I’d posted here asking for tips about how to create good work habits at a new job after working in a shitty work environment for years that had left me feeling unmotivated and lacking discipline. Thanks for sharing your experience and advice. I’ve had a great start. The first few months, I came in half an hour early, kept my phone away (only checked it once in the morning, at lunch, and at the end of the work day), and double and triple-checked all of my work. My focus and discipline paid off, and I earned a stellar four-month review. Now that I’ve been here six months though, I find myself slipping back into bad habits. Not being super careful about checking my work, checking my phone multiple times, text messaging, sleeping in till the last minute and not coming in early. Basically, I’m dropping the ball on the standards I set for myself which had enabled me to do well and earn the praise of my supervisors. I’m coasting. But I want to be hustling.

    Have you successfully sustained good work habits at a new job over a long term? How did you do it? What worked and what didn’t work for you?

    1. Emily S.*

      My big thing is time management. I recommend a class on called Managing your Time with Todd Dewett. You might try to access this through your local library’s eLearning platform (my library lets anyone with a card access the whole site).

      Some of the main points of the class (and another I took on Overcoming Procrastination) are:

      1. Start with the most challenging task of each day.
      1b. Find your “Einstein Window” (when you function best cognitively), and protect that window (avoid all distractions so you can focus on work).
      2. Try to come in 30-45 mins early once a week.
      3. Break projects down into smaller chunks.
      3b. Set interim deadlines to finish the chunks and the whole project.
      4. Take care of yourself physically:
      -Eat a healthy diet
      -Get regular exercise
      -Practice hobbies you enjoy outside of work. Also, make sure you get plenty of social time. And try volunteering a few hours a week for a nonprofit. All this will help you feel a positive sense of identity that’s separate from your job.
      5. Get plenty of sleep! Most adults need 7-8 hours/night.

      1. Sustaining Good Work Habits*

        These are good ideas, thanks. Some fall into the “I already do these” camp and others I aspire to do.

    2. Ramona Flowers*

      What changed and made you stop doing what you were doing before? If you can pinpoint that it might help.

      1. Sustaining Good Work Habits*

        This is a great question and probably hits at a deeper issue that I don’t know how to resolve. I suspect that once it was clear that had won some praise from the big boss during my end-of-intro-period review, a part of my brain went “Ah! I can now relax.” Cue the gradual descent back into bad habits (which, per The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg never leave us completely, only lie dormant besides new, more active habits). Like I said, I don’t know how to fix this.

    3. Jen RO*

      Honestly I don’t see the problem with anything you mentioned. I assume you still arrive on time – you don’t owe your company to come in early. And in the places I’ve worked in, *only* checking your phone and sending a couple of text messages would mean you are going above and beyond – I can Facebook to my heart’s content as long as I finish my tasks.
      (Based on the usual comments on AAM, I think this is unusual in the US or at least among AAM readers – but still, I don’t see a problem with taking some breaks. Your brain can’t be in work-mode 8 hours a day without any interruption.)

      1. Sustaining Good Work Habits*

        It’s true that I’m still finishing my work but I just feel like I could or should be doing more. Also, I have made a few mistakes now, probably because I haven’t been paying as close attention to my work as I was before. I don’t want to repeat that. And part of the reason why I want to keep pushing myself is not for the company but for my own self, if that makes sense.

        1. Emily S.*

          One of the points of the time management class I mentioned above was that your brain needs breaks every day, about 3 times a day. They could be 15-20 minutes, but it’s important to have that downtime. It really improves your focus on projects through the rest of the day.

    4. Fictional Butt*

      Is every single one of those things (showing up early every day, triple-checking your work, etc) making a meaningful difference in your work quality? Now that you’ve tried them all, it might be useful to focus in on the ones that are really effective and give yourself some slack on the rest of them.

      1. Sustaining Good Work Habits*

        That’s a good point. Unfortunately, I do believe that all of these efforts were reflected in my work products. I also loved the feeling –which I hadn’t experienced in years– of pushing myself, working very hard at something I really like and reaping the returns.

    5. Fiddlesticks*

      I think hustling constantly is going to burn you out pretty badly. Most of the high performers I know fall into two categories: people who hustle when they need to hustle and then slow way the heck down when they can relax, and people who hustle at a constant pace. That second group tends to get worn down over time — it’s unavoidable, really. We’re not really built to be going at 11 all the time.

      The object of your high-and-tight plan starting the job has succeeded, you’ve earned yourself office credit and a good reputation, and if you’re confident that should you NEED to hustle — and I’m pretty sure you can tell when you need to — you will be able to, then there’s no need to hold yourself up to a really strict standard all the time.

      On really busy days, I can find myself slammed in back-to-backs or typing so fast my keyboard is complaining and realizing at 2 p.m. I haven’t gone to the BATHROOM. So on quiet days, or days when the workload is minimal and I can space it out? TOTALLY forgive yourself for slightly longer breaks or doing your online shopping or whatever. Most of these things come out in the wash in the end!

      1. Sustaining Good Work Habits*

        Well. I don’t want to burn out, of course. More important than doing these discrete things is producing good work and learning, growing, and developing in my profession. So your post gives me a lot to consider. Thanks for weighing in!

    6. Not So NewReader*

      It sounds like you are writing your own definition of a stellar employee.
      Do they value people who come in early? If not, then don’t worry about that.
      Do they care if you are on your phone? Again, if not then don’t worry about that.

      Figure out what these folks place a high value on and make sure those points are covered.

      For keeping myself on track I have several tools, because different ones work on different days.
      Scare the crap out of myself: I tell myself things like, “Sure, get a good job and let it slide so I can end up in a crappy job again.”
      Con myself: “If I do a stellar job today I can get an ice cream for the ride home.”
      Refresh my attitude of gratitude: ” I need to keep showing these people that I am grateful they hired me so I don’t have to work in a hellhole anymore.”
      Pump up the old sense of self-worth: “I feel better about myself when I do my max every day.”

      Then there are big picture things. If we start taking things for granted we let other stuff slide. Go to bed on time so you can get up on time in the morning. Eat good meals, hydrate, exercise. It takes strength to go to work, and to remain interested in that work, fortify yourself so you can do it. Take a look at your life goals, how are those goals coming along? How can you leverage this new job to progress with those goals?

      1. Sustaining Good Work Habits*

        I recently had a conversation with my immediate supervisor in which I asked him how I can improve, and he explained that while I am doing well, if I truly want to succeed in this profession, I need to increase my output. I do believe that doing the things I mentioned in my OP help me be more productive.
        I like your tips for getting yourself to stay on track! I might have to steal some of them.

    7. The Ginger Ninja*

      I’ve been there. There’s a tendency in my field for people to become a bit complacent at the 5-10 year mark (I’m a teacher). I asked for new classes, and I took on a new outside role (negotiating). Being the “newbie” again made me smarten up and fly right, even with the classes where I’ve been teaching them forever. So maybe take on some different responsibilities, or add a new role, if you can?

      1. Sustaining Good Work Habits*

        That’s a great strategy. I might be able to implement it in some way. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  20. Anxious Programmer*

    Hey, so I’m in a weird situation.

    I started a new job as a programmer six months ago. The other day, my boss told me he wants to outsource our programming and have me manage the outsourcers, shifting into a more project and engineering management type of role.

    I’m not comfortable with this because I don’t have any management skills, I don’t want to go into management, and the job was pitched to me as a programming job in the interview.

    I also suffer from really bad social anxiety, which I’m getting treatment for. I can handle meetings by extensively preparing (writing down what I want to say, answers to anticipated questions, etc.) but I am very uncomfortable with spontaneous one on one conversations with people above me.

    I could go the disclosure/ADA accommodations route, but I received some blowback for that in the past. I worry about getting vague “not a team player” type performance reviews and PIPs designed to make me fail and quit/get fired again.

    I would like help with finding the safest way to say that I’m not equipped to do this and I didn’t sign up for it. Thank you for any help you can give!

    1. anony*

      Man, that sucks. Seems like you need to be really clear with your boss that you are only interested in a programming role, and you also need to be job searching, since he is eliminating that role. However, it is worth exploring with him whether you could BE one of the initial outsourced programmers.

      1. Anxious Programmer*

        I think “not interested” would give a bad impression.

        What I want to communicate is that I want to take on extra duties and grow, but my own personal conditions (which are legitimate and documented) mean that this is so far outside of my comfort zone that I’m not comfortable with doing it. But I want to say this without sounding like I’m complaining about it being too hard. I get panic attacks for this kind of thing and I’ve had to leave work (not this job though) in the past over them.

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          Can you make the conversation about your strengths and skills and how you can best be of use?

    2. Lumen*

      This is hard, but I think at the end of the day: you did not seek a job as a manager of programmers. You don’t have the skills or inclination to do that job. Your manager is trying to do you a solid (I imagine you do good work and are valued, which is awesome) but if they are outsourcing programming, it sounds liek the job you want to do and the job you were hired to do is no longer an option.

      I hate to say it, but rather than tie yourself into a knot trying to keep a job you know you don’t want, I would start looking for something else. What you do in the meantime depends on your own safety nets: if you don’t have one, you may have to take the job ‘on a trial basis’ and set up frequent chats with your manager about how it is going. If you do have a safety net, it might be better to simply say straightforwardly that you are not interested in a management position and let the chips fall where they may.

    3. Tau*

      Also a programmer, and… yeah, I’m sorry, I think this job is a loss. If the boss wants to outsource programming, you’re unlikely to be able to stay in an individual contributor role. I suspect the most you can achieve here is to get laid off instead of shunted into management. I’m sorry.

      That said, “My job changed from coding to project management/team lead” is something any interviewer worth their salt is going to understand as a reason for leaving a job. I think it’s pretty well-understood that not everyone is interested in that angle of things and taking the programming away makes for unhappy programmers. I’d expect your boss to understand that as well. And I don’t know where you are, but in my area the job market is great for programmers and short stays are common so looking like a job hopper isn’t nearly as much of a concern.

      In other words, job search.

  21. Spooky*

    I’ve gotten myself in a muddle. So my team’s room has glass windows, and last year we decided it would be fun to paint them like store windows. We’ve kept it going and it’s been a great team-builder. But I was the one to buy all of the supplies–paint, brushes, sponge brushes, etc. I’m not a team leader, haven’t been here the longest, don’t make the most money, etc. And now everyone expects me to keep doing it. I’ve tried pointing out that it’s someone else’s turn, but no one has volunteered. Should I just refuse to put more money into this, knowing that it will likely mean the fun activity will stop? All suggestions welcome.

      1. Free Meerkats*

        Agreed. But don’t wait for someone to say, “Hey Spooky! When are you bringing in the paint for the windows?” Proactively let the group know that you aren’t doing it this year, someone else will have to.

        If it happens, great; if it doesn’t, great.

    1. Iris Eyes*

      The fun activity will continue if people truly value it, it they don’t value it then its certainly not worth you over stretching your budget. Maybe breaking down the supplies into a sign up sheet so no one person has to take care of all of it would work. Or maybe you could make it a BYOB (bring your own brush) sort of affair if you love it enough to keep underwriting it but at a reduced level. Also that will probably help people be more conscientious about reusing brushes. Another option might be having a window supplies money collection jar so that as people have a spare dollar or two can chip in.
      Also how explicit have you been? Did you hint or did you state? i.e. I’d sure be nice if someone else got the supplies vs Well that’s my turn, who wants to get the supplies next time?

    2. Admin of Sys*

      If you’re fine with the work and managing the art but not the cost, I’d say set up a donation fund. Figure out approx. how much it’ll cost to do it this year, state you’re happy to get the brushes and paint if the team makes the donation goal, and setup an envelope or tip jar or some other process to get the money. Make sure not to buy the supplies until the goal is reached. (though maybe offer that folks can get the supplies themselves if they’d rather do that than donate money. )

      If you don’t want to be committed to being in charge of the supply gathering or art design either, then that’s a bit harder. I’d say if you’re pretty confident people want to do it w/out you doing all the bothersome bits, set up a sign up sheet along with a donation jar – treat it kind of like formal potluck. So, have folks sign up to buy the brushes or the paint or whatever – basically, create a supplies list and tell people to check off what they’re bringing in.

      It’s possible that when people hear that it’s their turn, they think that means managing the art, not just funding the supply cost. And if they didn’t pay much attention to the supplies you brought in, they might not even be comfortable offering to buy paint or brushes, in case they get the wrong kind. But if you go around with a ‘commit to buying x or give me $10 to buy x on your behalf’ they may be fine with it.

      Of course, they may also all be a bit tight on money and don’t want to donate the $10 or whatever to the cause, so I’d definitely make it voluntary – if folks want the window, they have to help out, but collectively it may be decided that it’s not worth it, even though it was fun when it was free.

    3. a Gen X manager*

      if it’s up your alley, (for future years), you could find these things for a total of a few dollars if you go to a yard sale (read the craigslist ads ahead of time and look for ones that mention “lots” of arts and crafts items and/or neighborhood yard sales).

      Just a thought! :)

  22. Database Geek*

    Still job searching! I actually had two interviews this week – one was a second round interview with a place I’m really interested in. I’m hopeful about that one.

    Yesterday’s interview though… I’m pretty sure I blew it … there was a group interview with the team I’d be working with in a meeting room (this followed a meeting with the director of the department in her office) and I had a REALLY hard time hearing everyone – I am hard of hearing plus I have the beginnings of a head cold so my hearing is even worse than usual. There were two people in the group of 5 that I could just barely hear at all and one of them had an accent which made things worse. I keep having to ask them to repeat or someone else had to repeat what they had said. I really should have explained that I am hard of hearing and was having trouble and seen if we could figure something out to help but I didn’t…(one of the people who I couldn’t hear was sitting right next to me so it wasn’t like they were too far away). It’s totally my fault and I wouldn’t blame them for feeling like I wouldn’t be a good fit for their team.

    1. Lumen*

      Write them a note! Call! Get in touch somehow and just let them know: “I neglected to mention that I am hard of hearing, which I realized in hindsight may have caused some communication mishaps during my interview.” Along with the regular thank yous and hope to hear from you soons and all that. Maybe offer to answer any further questions if they did not get a satisfactory answer.

      If you bombed and they have already decided not to hire you, then reaching out won’t hurt. If they liked you otherwise but were confused by the interview, reaching out might help.

      On the other hand: congrats on the other interview that went well!

      1. Database Geek*

        I think it’s too late for that at this point because already I sent a “thank you for the interview” email to the director early this morning and cc’ed everyone else on it…. I mean I suppose I could send a second email to the group and try to clarify things but I feel like it a live and learn moment.

  23. Observer*

    Yesterday’s comment about how an employee was so naive coming from a place of naivete itself got me thinking:

    Have you ever experience an issue at work where someone naively thinking that someone else was being naive had a practical effect? I’d love to hear the stories.

    1. fposte*

      Can you expand that a little, especially on the “practical effect” front? I’ve been in situations where people thought I was underinformed because they were underinformed, but usually I just tell them why I’m right and they’re wrong and we move forward :-). What kind of situation are you thinking of?

        1. fposte*

          I’ve had to tell a few people not to correct “career” as a verb to “careen.” Probably you’re looking for something more dramatic, though.

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          I couldn’t find the one you were referring to. I got sidetracked by all the victim blaming.

          1. Observer*

            Yeah, this was totally victim blaming. Based on what I can most charitably consider a wildly naive view of the world. I mean OF COURSE the police would NEVER arrest someone for something they could not have done.

  24. Rulesfor*

    Does anyone have any tips for coming out as genderqueer/non-binary in their workplace? It would just be nice to be able to use “they” pronouns in my professional life as well as my personal life. I’ve already come out as trans at previous workplaces (I’m FTM and read as male by everyone; my current coworkers know I’m trans). It’s mostly made complicated by the fact that I’m a social worker, so coming out to the kids and families I work with would definitely be overstepping my professional boundaries.

    1. AnotherAlison*

      I’m the last person qualified to advise on this, but I recently had an experience where I was interacting with an admin assistant in a different organization who I had interacted with before, and the board chair of the org advised us that she was now using [male name] instead of previous [female name]. But we were not advised on pronouns, and she continued to use the women’s restroom, so I was guessing she was still identifying as female, but I didn’t want to misstep. I would rather be told what you prefer!

    2. Bree*

      I think if your workplace is small enough, and since it sounds like your co-workers are good, it would be totally be reasonable to ask for a change of pronouns internally, while keeping another set for use with external clients.

      1. Rulesfor*

        The tough part, which I should have explained in my original comment, is that it’s a group home. So all the kiddos are right there. I don’t know if it’s realistic, unfortunately, to maintain that kind of boundary in that environment. Which I guess is my answer! But I wanted to throw it out there.

        1. Q*

          Maybe you could at least tell your coworkers even if they can’t realistically call you by they/them pronouns. It might make you feel better for them to just know.

        2. Bree*

          Oh, I see. I’m not a social worker, so apologies if this is obvious, but would using they-pronouns and having a very simple, kid-friendly stock explaination of what being non-binary means necessarily be overstepping professional boundaries?

          I’ve seen people do that before in child-serving environments (though for explicitly LGBTQ* organizations.)

          1. Rulesfor*

            I think the real complicating factor is that we’re not supposed to overshare (or share at all) about our personal lives. Not whether we’re married, etc. The only time it’s recommend that we self-disclose anything if if it benefits our clients, and this wouldn’t be for that purpose. I think a lot of it really depends on the environment, too, but the culture in my workplace is one where there are very firm boundaries between clinicians and clients.

            1. Teapot Librarian*

              Also not a social worker, so you know better what your professional guidelines are, but I can’t help but think that your coming out could benefit one or more of the kids. And while you say that you’re not supposed to share about your personal lives, I assume that married coworkers don’t remove their wedding rings, and to the extent that people identify in a way that aligns with societal expectations of appearance, someone presenting as male wouldn’t be “sharing” that he was male. I think there’s got to be a way to identify yourself in a way that is accurate without it being considered sharing your personal life. (Big grain of salt–I’m a cisgender straight white woman, so this is not something I have personal experience with.)

              1. Rulesfor*

                You’d think, right? But unfortunately, I think there definitely is a double standard about sharing anything outside cisgender norms, because you do have to self-identify more vocally to a degree.

            2. Jadelyn*

              Okay so, what if a trans employee were to start their transition while working there? Would the employer expect that employee to stay closeted and not transition while employed there? Fake their death (gives a whole new meaning to “deadname”, lol), then come back as a “new employee” after their transition to avoid “oversharing”?

              It’s not oversharing or even sharing to say “Hey, these are the pronouns I’d like to be called, thanks.” It’s a very simple statement of fact and boundaries, like if you had a particular nickname you wanted to be called (or conversely one you hate and don’t want people to ever use).

              1. Rulesfor*

                Logically, I think you’re totally right. In practice, I don’t know. (And I’ve often wondered about people in this field who transition on the job! I’m really not sure how that would be handled.)

                1. bunanza*

                  I’ve never worked in the social work field, so your experience/gut feeling definitely takes precedence here, but I would also think that openly transitioning in your position would actually be a really positive thing for the people you work with. Even if the population you work with is not majority queer, if they see that an authority figure doesn’t fit the “standard” mold, they may be more willing or able to connect with you. Of course, that depends heavily on what demographic you work with, and how comfortable you are with others knowing–but if you are comfortable, I think a quick, “hi, I’m [Rulesfor], and I go by [pronoun]–how should I address you?” could be very effective. Or if that seems unfeasible to you, I second (third? fourth?) Q’s suggestion above–the kids in the group home may not be able to understand, but your coworkers should. You deserve to feel comfortable in your workplace, so you should let your coworkers know if you’re out in the rest of your life.

                  (unrelated, but this question reminds me of Trevor (Elliot Fletcher) in US Shameless – I think a lot of topics in the earlier seasons are covered in an insensitive way, but Trevor is one of my most beloved characters from any show, and I think a lot of what he has to say echoes real trans rhetoric today–it’s worth a watch)

    3. Louise*

      Oh man, my heart breaks at the idea that being honest about your gender identity would be seen as overstepping professional boundaries.

      Unfortunately I don’t have a lot of good advice. All I can say is I would want to know if I wasn’t using a coworker’s correct pronouns. Do you get the sense that your coworkers are progressive and in-the-know about non-binary inclusive pronouns? My workplace takes diversity and inclusion VERY seriously, and it wouldn’t seem out of step for someone here to say either one-on-one or in a team meeting “hey, I actually use they/them pronouns and would appreciate if everyone could use those when referring to me!” But I get that many folks in many environments for many reasons wouldn’t necessarily feel comfortable saying that.

      I hope you’re able to come out in a way that feels safe and right for you, and I hope your coworkers are supportive of that! Love from the AAM queer fam.

      1. Rulesfor*

        Thank you for your support! My coworkers are pretty progressive, but non-binary pronouns are definitely out of their comfort zone. I refer to my spouse by non-binary pronouns, but all but one of my coworkers refer to them by binary ones.

    4. Manders*

      How do you feel about pronoun pins? That’s something you could wear around the office and take off when you’re seeing clients if necessary.

    5. Lefty*

      My sister works in a similar sounding setup… I know one of the situation that bring clients to them is the sad fact that many LGBTQIA kids are put out by their families. I wonder if that is applicable for the youth you work with as well? Could it be useful to them to be given the tools to talk about their own identities? If that’s applicable, maybe it would be an agreeable way for you to request training for the staff & the youth. Sometimes the youth who are in those situations are so traumatized/scared/used to ignoring themselves that they might benefit from being taught how to communicate and take ownership of their identity.

      On a related note, I recently heard a seminar about sex vs. gender; the instructors offered teen and child versions as well. One of the first exercises after the explanation was to introduce yourself and your pronouns, “I am Lefty and I use she/her pronouns.” There was also a name tag with options for writing both your name and pronouns- maybe that could be a tool?

      1. Rulesfor*

        I mostly work with younger kids (this was less of an issue when I worked with teens), many of whom haven’t begun to grapple with this part of their identity. I do think it’s helpful to set an example and expand clients’ worldviews, regardless! I just worry about getting a lot of pushback from people above me.

    6. Alli525*

      So, I work at a super-liberal college with a big LGBTQ+ population, and a lot of orientation activities for students (which instructors and staff are welcome to attend) will have fishbowls with small buttons with preferred genders. I’m a ciswoman and present as such (i.e. no one would mistake me for a man), but I love my “she/her” button and keep it on my lanyard for when I have to wear my official ID for functions. It’s small – roughly the size of a Snapple cap – so unobtrusive, and I imagine as a social worker it would be perfectly acceptable to wear one or casually have one on display in your office.

      1. Teach*

        Love these buttons! I work with younger teens and one had a “they/them” button on – which gave me the opening to ask, “Hey, I noticed your button – are those the pronouns you’d like me to use?” And they were delighted to be asked.

  25. Iris Eyes*

    I recently purchased a training potty for my toddler on Amazon. And as Amazon occasionally does they sent me a question that someone had asked about the product. Their questions was “If a business wants to improve would this make a good employee suggestion box.”

    I said no, but now I’m waiting for the letter from someone asking if they should start looking for a new job because the employee suggestion “box” is a toilet.

    1. Jadelyn*

      …I am so tempted. I mean, my other half gave me a #WTF stamp for an early Xmas present and it’s proudly sitting on my desk right now, so…

  26. T3k*

    So last time I think I posted in this thread, I’d shared that I’d landed a (contract) job with one of my dream companies and it’s been awesome so far, just over 2 months in. However, my question is, since it’s a short term contract, when/how do I go about asking about extending my contract (or even hiring, though I doubt that one as while they do hire contractors, that can take over a year of working here).

    1. fposte*

      I think you can go to your supervisor there now and say “Working here is awesome. I’d love to reup my contract with you all when it’s up in March–would I ask you about that when the time comes, and when would be the right time for that?”

      1. T3k*

        I forgot to point out, it was made clear during the interviews that this is a position of “we’ll see how busy things are” when March comes around. They experienced rapid growth on one project, so I and a couple others were brought on to help out, so I think that will play a part in it.

      1. T3k*

        Oh yeah, wasn’t thinking of asking that quickly xD I’m on a 6 month contract which was made clear at the beginning they didn’t know if they’d need me or not after it was up because, long story short, I joined a team that hit a growth they weren’t prepared for so they brought me and a couple others on and to re-evaluate when it nears March.

    2. Samata*

      I was on contract for 3 years, ending July 31st each year. I’d start the conversation in late April/May about renewals. I’d let them know my first choice was to reup, but if they thought that might not be a possibility I needed to know that, too, so I could make appropriate plans for August 1. I never asked them for a hard yes or not. The lead time also left us time to renegotiate some extra pay and benefits (free parking). At the end of the 3rd year I actually got a FT job offer.

      I will say I had a really good relationship with the boss and VP of department I was working for, so they saw my asking early as being responsible. I think actually helped my standing in the company.

      1. T3k*

        Thanks, that sounds like a good plan and will give me some time to find a new job if they won’t renew it. We (myself and another contractor) are now unsure if our contracts will be renewed because another in our position learned last month that theirs wasn’t extended and we thought they would, though theirs did end at a rough time (in this industry, all major projects are finished around Dec. until next year and his ended right in the middle of it).

  27. Mary*

    I have an interview soon for a possible internal promotion. My interviewers will be two managers from other branches (library), and my two direct managers that I work with daily.

    After the interview, should I still send follow-up emails to my managers, even though I’ll see them the next day? If so, should my tone be different than the emails directed to the managers who I rarely speak with?

    1. Rainy Days*

      Definitely still send a follow-up email to the managers. It will be a good chance to reiterate what you discussed and why you are a good fit for the role, moreso than just thanking them for their time. I don’t think it needs to be quite as formal in tone as if you didn’t know them already, but you should still send it imo. Good luck!

  28. AllDogsArePuppies*

    I’m doing my self-assessment for the first time where I have to rank myself on a variety of categories from “doesn’t meet expectations” to “far exceeds expectations”. Who’s expectations do I use. Corporate as low expectations, my manager has high?

    1. Havarti*

      Do you have a good relationship with your manager? Can you ask for input? I would say go with whoever has a say in your salary but don’t lower your scores too much or they’ll use it as justification for not giving you a raise.

    2. Teapot Librarian*

      “Meets expectations” is you do your job competently and don’t need your boss following up with you to make sure you’re meeting deadlines. “Doesn’t meet expectations” is that your boss has to correct your work regularly and/or you consistently miss deadlines or don’t meet production goals (if your work is quantifiable). “Exceeds expectations” is that you do your job well and take initiative to improve either your own work or the work of the department, or go above and beyond in the item being reviewed.

    3. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

      I would go with how you rank yourself based on your expectations of yourself. Do you think you are good at your job? Do you think you are meeting your goals as you understand them? In my experience self-assessment is usually a conversation starter between me and my boss to find out if there is a disconnect between what I expect/understand and what they expect/understand. Try and be as honest as you can about yourself. Do you excel at customer service but sometimes fall behind on deadlines? Do you think one is a higher priority than the other? Does your boss have the same priority?

  29. Blue Anne*

    My textbook just arrived for the “math for technicians” course I’m starting. Thanks to everyone last week who told me I wasn’t crazy to think about career-switching from bookkeeping to electrician!

    1. LCL*

      Awesome! If you let word get out in your class about your accountant/math background, plan on being asked to help tutor.

      1. Blue Anne*

        Ha – it’s online and I think it’s mostly self-study, but I’ll keep that in mind for future classes.

  30. Anonymous Educator*

    Any other people spending good portions of their work days not technically doing their actual job but also still kind of doing their job? I spend a bunch of time on mailing lists and a Slack related to the work I do, getting tips from and giving tips to other professionals who do the kind of work I do (at other orgs/companies). You could make the case, I guess, that the help they give me helps me do my job better, so technically I’m doing my job. I also, in theory, could be doing this after hours, too.

    1. Blue Anne*

      Yeah, I often spend time during the day looking up answers to tax questions for friends rather than clients. I don’t feel too bad about it, I’ve learned a lot of stuff that way.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        Cool. That’s how I feel, too. Even though I spend a lot of time helping people, the help I get in return has for sure helped me do my job better.

    2. Tau*

      I wouldn’t say “good portions”, but I do browse some Q&A sites if I’m really having trouble focusing or work is being a bit slow. I try to keep an eye on it so it doesn’t get excessive – brief breaks only, or if there’s legitimately nothing sensible I think I can do right now – but I think doing that has made me *way* better at my job, and it’s pretty regularly that I find myself using some tidbit of information I stumbled across after lunch a year ago. In all honesty, I might be too nervous about doing this, considering how much of a benefit I think it’s been.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        In all honesty, I might be too nervous about doing this, considering how much of a benefit I think it’s been.

        Am I misunderstanding you here? I would think if it’s been a benefit, you wouldn’t be too nervous about doing this.

        1. Tau*

          I’m nervous because it’s a benefit in the long term, but it’s not generally directly relevant to my assigned tasks in the short term. And to some sense it feels like putting my own professional development above my current job, since I don’t know if this current bit of browsing will pay off while I’m at my current workplace.

          1. Anonymous Educator*

            Ah, I see. Well, a lot of places do want you to do professional development. Your browsing Q&A forums is probably cheaper than them flying you to a conference.

            Fortunately, for me, the stuff I do “on the side” is immediately beneficial to my organization and not just to me in the long term.