can I ask people to put requests in writing, boss asked me not to wear leggings, and more

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

1. Can I ask people to make requests in writing?

I’m an administrative assistant for a firm of about 35 people. I handle a large amount of ad hoc work, and people here sort of have a habit of just mentioning what they need from me as they pass my desk. I have ADHD, and this really doesn’t always work well for me. I just prefer to have instruction in writing that way I’m not second-guessing whether I might have misunderstood while listening or writing things down.

Anyway, this went from being annoying to being an actual problem earlier this week. A coworker asked me to reserve a rental car for them, something I take care of all the time. I wrote down the dates and times they said they needed as they were talking, made the reservation when I had a spare moment later that day, and sent them the confirmation email. Standard procedure, basically. Two days later, they forward the confirmation email back to me toward the end of the workday, saying that I made the reservation for the wrong dates, and the rental place didn’t have a car available for her. We were able to find an available car at another rental nearby, but they were still really angry at the mistake.

The dates I made the reservation for are the dates my coworker told me. I remember the conversation well. Also, I know they read the confirmation email, because they asked me to go back in and modify the type of car right after I sent it (I did, and then immediately sent the new confirmation).

Is there a polite way for me to insist that people make these requests via email instead? I don’t want to come across as being rude or standoffish, but I also don’t want to run into this again.

In many cases, yes! With something like the rental car request, you could say, “Yes, I can do that for you! Just send me an email with the dates and locations and anything else you need, so that I have all the details, and I’ll take care of it.” If the person tries to give you that info right then, say, “Actually, please put it in an email! I’m right in the middle of something I can’t stop just yet, and I don’t want to miss important details of what you need.”

There are some contexts where this won’t work. If it’s your boss, she may need you to take requests in whatever format is most efficient for her. It’s easier to do this with peers. Or if someone is running to a meeting and needs to relay something to you urgently, you’ll seem overly rigid if you won’t accept the request without it going in an email. But in many, many cases, this is fine to do. And in fact, in some offices (but not all), it would be fine to announce this as a new system, explaining that it’s because you get a ton of requests throughout the day and want to stay on top of all of them. (I’d check that with your boss first though. As an assistant, you want to make sure that you’re making things easy for people and not be perceived as inflexible, and this could play differently in different contexts.)

Also, if someone doesn’t send you an email, you can get in the habit of confirming people’s requests in email back to them — for example, “Just wanted to quickly confirm the details of your rental car request — I have down that you need to pick it up in San Antonio at noon on the 24th and return it in Houston on the 27th around 4:00. If that’s not correct, let me know!”

2. My boss told me to stop wearing leggings — but I don’t

My boss has recently made two comments on my attire — saying my dress is not in line with that of my team, and that she does not approve of the fact that I wear “leggings” to work. There are two issues I have here: One, she demands that we dress in “business” attire — suits, ties, etc. — whereas the official dress code for my organization is business casual — no jeans except on Friday, but no suits either. My role is occasionally externally facing, and I always wear suits when I have meetings with clients (they do not ever surprise us in our office, as it is not the nature of our business). The second issue is I recently gained about 20 pounds due to side effects of medication for a recent serious health diagnosis. I am hugely, hugely self-conscious about it and have struggled with finding pants that fit me as I work to lose the weight. I have never and would never wear leggings, but my medication causes severe bloating at times that is gradually going away, but often makes pants that the previous day fit fine suddenly look tight on me. It’s bad enough that I feel horribly uncomfortable and self-conscious, and wear larger coats and tops to appear as modest as possible.

How would you suggest I address these issues with her, both the more stringent dress code and the health complications I am dealing with that can affect my physical body on an hourly basis? I have an okay relationship with my boss. Professionally all is well, but she is not a very kind, warm, caring person, so I am struggling with how to handle these issues.

Tell her that you’re not wearing leggings! Say something like this: “You recently mentioned that I shouldn’t wear leggings to work, and I was surprised because I never have. I’ve been trying to figure out what you were referring to, and I think it might be that I’ve been prescribed a medication that’s causing my weight to fluctuate from day to day and which is sometimes impacting the fit of my clothes. I of course strive to ensure my clothes fit me well, but while I’m working through these side effects, there’s been some fluctuation in that. But I wanted to let you know that I understand leggings aren’t appropriate on our team and wouldn’t wear them.”

On the dress code more generally: She does have the prerogative to hold your team to a different dress code than the rest of your office. Sometimes there are good reasons for that (like if one team is much more outward-facing), and sometimes managers who do that are just annoyingly old-school. But in most organizations, that’s a call she would get to make. In theory, you can try pushing back on it and approaching her with a case for relaxing the dress code, but I don’t think I’d spend capital on that right now when you have the other problem to address first. (If you did want to try though, I’d try doing it with a group of coworkers — both so that it’s not muddled together with the “leggings” issue and because you’re likely to have more sway as a group.)

3. Can I pass along a resume without recommending the person?

I’ve been at my current job for over ten years, in several different positions. During that time, I’ve been happy to refer someone for a job when I’ve worked with them in an outside volunteer position. HR has told me they knew this person would work out, because I wouldn’t refer them if they weren’t good. So they apparently value my judgment.

But now I’m faced with being asked to refer someone I’m not sure I can say no to, but I don’t think would be a good fit. My brother-in-law, Fergus, has some mental health issues that have kept him out of the work force for several years. He recently lost his disability status, so is needing to find work. He has had a couple of retail type jobs since then, but always manages to lose them within a month. Somehow it’s never his fault. He is in the process of getting his associate’s degree, and has asked me about an entry-level job at my company. This position has a high rate of turnover, so there’s almost always an opening. But I don’t think Fergus would work out for very long.

Is there a way to “recommend” him to HR without actually telling them I think he’d be good in the role?

No, don’t do it! Whether you call it a recommendation or a referral or a “just passing along this resume,” the subtext is going to be that you’re vouching for him in some way and think he’s a plausible candidate. The only way to do this without harm to your own reputation would be say something like, “My brother-in-law asked me to pass along his resume. I want to be up-front that I don’t think he’d be the right fit for the job.” But then it looks weird that you’re passing it along at all.

The better option would be nicely explain to Fergus that his professional history doesn’t really match up with what your company is looking for. You could add, “But if something does open up that I think could be the right match, I’ll definitely let you know.” Or you could say that you don’t feel comfortable referring relatives since you’d have obvious bias, or that you’re not involved in the hiring for that position, or any other excuse. There’s also the kind of vague “let me see if you might be what they’re looking for,” which doesn’t really promise to pass the resume along, but that’s risky if he might later ask you pointed questions about it.

4. What do I say to a former coworker who manages the job I’m applying for?

I applied for a position where I worked over five years ago. I parted on good terms, but most of the people I worked with have left since then.

The head of the hiring committee and I were friendly when I worked there and while I haven’t been in touch, I do know he would probably remember me. We often ended up at the bus stop together and chatted fairly often. You say that it is okay, even good, to reach out to someone you know when you apply for a job and several friends have said the same.

Here’s the catch — I have pretty severe social anxiety (I am seeing a therapist) and I can’t figure out what to say to him. My question is this: What language would you recommend using when reaching out to someone about a job you applied for that they are involved with that doesn’t sound either pushy or totally bland? I’m in a branch of academic librarianship, for whatever that matters.

Yes, this is totally normal to do! Just send an email and say something like this: “Hi Cecil! It’s been a long time and I hope you’re doing well. I have fond memories of (insert fond memory related to him here, if applicable; otherwise leave this sentence out). I was really excited to see the llama midwife position open at LlamaWorks. I’ve sent in a formal application, but also wanted to contact you to let you know I’ve thrown my hat in the ring. I’d love to talk more with you about it if it seems like it might be the right match.” (Also, attach your resume to this message. You’ve already sent it in when you formally applied, but it’ll be convenient for him to have it right there.)

Read an update to this letter here.

{ 413 comments… read them below }

  1. sacados*

    OP3: I wonder if Fergus is aware that you do/have passed on resumes and recommended people in the past?
    Even if he is, you could frame it as a new policy and say something like “I asked about passing on your resume, but was told that all applicant for this position should apply through the company website.”
    Then if/when he does apply and HR asks OP about him, they can just explain their concerns without worrying about any awkwardness about passing on a resume from someone OP doesn’t recommend.

    1. Casuan*

      OP3, play the relative card. It has the merit of being a bona fide reason as to why you shouldn’t pass along Fergus’ résumé. Tell him that policy is against relatives & friends, then be consistent in its application. If you have been known to break this in the past, as Sacados said you can say it’s a new policy. You don’t have to clarify that it is your new policy.

      1. TootsNYC*

        or, that the policy is to not pass on resumes from people you haven’t actually worked with.

        “Sorry, Fergus–I can’t pass on resumes of people unless I’ve actually worked with them and seen their professional skills in our field.”

    2. Willis*

      If the OP doesn’t feel comfortable telling Fergus he probably isn’t a good fit, I think re-directing him to apply via the company website or just vaguely saying you’ll keep an eye out for an opening that sounds like a good fit is the way to go. I probably wouldn’t want to give him the impression that I’d passed along his resume if I hadn’t really.

      1. Legalchef*

        Yes, particularly bc if he does apply and get an interview, and he mentions the OP and they say “oh, we had no idea,” it could come back to bite her.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      I think this could be a know-your-HR situation. Some people who know you well will understand the pass-on-with-warning as “Please let me get through the next few family gatherings truthfully saying ‘I passed the resume on’ and you really should drop it in the trash.” Definitely something that you only ask once, but I think a lot of families have that one relative surrounded by a lot of “It’s not Fergus’s fault” relatives.

        1. Boredatwork*

          It also has the benefit that if Fergus applies, somehow gets an interview and name drops you, no one is caught off guard.

    4. Cordoba*

      Honestly, I would just not forward the resume on and then lie to Fergus.

      “Yep, I passed it along. I probably won’t hear anything more about it, HR here is a real black hole. Oh well, let me know if they give you a call. So, how about this weather….”

      1. KitKat*

        Yeah, maybe this makes me not a very good person, but if OP’s attempts to “nicely explain” to Fergus why he is not qualified will only get a lot of arguments and drama, I would just say the above.

        1. Naptime Enthusiast*

          Sometimes with family, it is easier to lie and keep the peace than be honest, because certain people just don’t want to hear the honest truth about themselves.


      2. Alli525*

        I mean, lying doesn’t seem like the right call here (lying is seldom the right call IMO). Saying “I have a policy of not recommending relatives at my current place of employment” is a much easier, and also very understandable, explanation. Even if it’s a policy you came up with yesterday, it’s still a policy–unless she has done that exact thing for other relatives.

        1. Cordoba*

          LW said that Fergus is somebody who they are “not sure [they] can say no to”.

          People who won’t take no for an answer are basically setting themselves up to be misled.

          Sure, LW can try politely telling Fergus about this “no recommendations for relatives” policy.

          If he keeps pestering after that or reacts poorly to being turned down then I think it’s entirely fair for LW to just buffalo him, make corporate HR the bad guy instead, and move on with their life with a minimum of inter-family drama.

          1. D'Arcy*

            If lying is the only way to get someone’s unreasonable and unprofessional requests off your back, then that’s absolutely what you should do. The fault lies entirely with them.

        2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

          That might not be truthful, either — she may be willing to recommend another family member, who doesn’t have the same track record of quitting/getting fired from jobs.

          In a perfect world, the OP could say to Fergus that she’s not comfortable recommending him because of his track record at recent jobs. (“Fergus, I love you, but I can’t recommend you for this role. I’m worried that you would leave within a month, like you have with your past jobs, and that would cause problems for me in my work.”)

          That’s obviously so much harder said than done! But the OP could still be truthful and more oblique: “I’m sorry, I really don’t have much influence over this hiring process.”

          1. tangerineRose*

            This sounds like a good approach, but I can think of a few people I know where that would not work well – many, many emotions.

    5. Yorick*

      Take his resume and say you’ll pass it along if you hear of an opportunity that he’s right for. And then never hear of such an opportunity.

    6. OP3*

      Yes, Fergus knows I’ve recommended other people. He knows he’ll need to apply on the website, but wants me to put in a good word for him with HR. And there’s no policy against family members working together. We have several sets of siblings and couples in the company. I’ll probably just tell him that I’ve told HR about him, but they won’t keep me informed about the process. Hopefully that’ll keep him from bugging me for news about the job.

      1. Chameleon*

        This has the benefit of being true! You just aren’t saying exactly *what* you told HR about him.

      2. Veronica UK*

        The company may not have this policy, but you’re allowed to decide it’s yours. I’d hate to work with family :)

    7. jo*

      Yes. OP3, tell Fergus to apply through the normal channels, and say you’ll send HR a note to point out his candidacy. Make it sound like you don’t have any pull with hiring decisions for this role–only the ability to make sure he gets fair consideration. At that point you can tell HR/the hiring manager, “FYI, this applicant will probably mention my name as a relative, and while I support him in his job search I don’t actually think he’d work out in this role.”

      That way you aren’t actively submitting him as a candidate, but Fergus has reason to feel you’re still on his side.

    8. MW*

      Personally I’d say “Sorry Fergus, I only refer people I’ve worked with professionally”. Is this too cold? I have always felt weird about the idea of giving references to someone I know socially or through family connections, but have never worked with. Or, for that matter, receiving them. I honestly don’t know how most of my friends and family are at work, and while I offer help if they’re looking for work, that has its limits. Maybe my situation’s different because I’m in a technical field so relevant experience is always a requirement.

  2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#2, I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this situation. Dealing with weight fluctuations, especially ones that are a side effect of other medical treatment, can be so frustrating and demoralizing. I understand that it may not be realistic to buy new clothes for your wardrobe, but it might make sense to pick a few key items that will be a little forgiving (e.g., wrap dresses, jersey dresses, Gap slacks with elastic in the waist, longer shirts/sweaters that would be the appropriate length if your pants really were leggings, etc.).

    Although if you think you could get away with humor, there’s always the flowchart on whether you’re wearing pants.

    1. Leggings Queen ;-)*

      OP #2 here- yes, since emailing I’ve invested in a few dresses that mask the bloating/side effects some. However, it’s still hard to predict on a day to day basis how my body reacts. The day I wrote that message I felt so deeply humiliated and embarrassed by my boss’s feedback that it was honestly hard to think straight. Thank you for your supportive comments!!

      1. Casuan*

        Sorry for the rough time, LQ.
        Side-effects are bad enough without having to deal with others’ reactions.

      2. Effie, who is pondering*

        Hi LQ! So sorry to hear. It’s such a difficult position to be in and your boss sounds a bit harsh. I think it’s a good idea to be direct with her and Alison’s script is great.

        Sounds like you have some options now. In case you’re interested, I just started wearing dress yoga pants by Betabrand which 1) are nice and thick and look like real dress pants 2) are pull-on and very forgiving in the waistband. Sadly they don’t have pockets :(

        1. Pretend Scientist*

          Seconding the Betabrand recommendation. They are great for travel or anything else where you might be doing a lot of sitting. Very stretchy and forgiving, but they look like “real” pants.

          1. LQ ;-)*

            Ha! These are the *exact* pants she referred to as legging. I love them and they’ve worked really well for me during the past few months while I’ve been dealing with this medical issue. They are basically the only comfortable pair of dress pants I’ve found. I plan to wear them again, and if she says anything, use the script provided.

            1. Naptime Enthusiast*

              Ugh. Does she recognize the brand and therefore equate them with “not real pants”, even though they are? If so, I think the side effects part of the script will really help, rather than getting into a disagreement about whether “yoga pant dress pants” are acceptable or not.

              When I put on weight I found knit pencil skirts to be very comfortable and forgiving as well, but I’m not in a customer facing role at all so my managers don’t comment on my clothing. I’m sorry you’re dealing with this!!

              1. LQ ;-)*

                I doubt she recognizes the brand, and I made sure to get the looser fit ones. They have a definite fit and flare look, except the hips and *ahem* booty area can get really snug some days. I have a few long sweaters that I thought kept things ultra modest, but I guess not.

                1. What's with today, today?*

                  **Googles pants, orders 6 pairs**

                  Thank you! I’d never seen these, but had to have them! And they don’t look like leggings.

                2. Us, Too*

                  I suspect it’s the stretchy fabric that is fitted in the butt/hips/thighs that your boss is thinking looks too much like leggings. Honestly, I think the Betabrand yoga dress pants looks “OK” in terms of professionalism/not leggings in some of the photos and then in others I think they look like athleisure category items. I think it has something to do with the color and what they are paired with and the overall fit on the models. I tend to think the lighter colors, in particular, don’t look as dressy as the darker. But, anyway, I think (right or wrong) your boss has sent you a pretty clear signal that she doesn’t like these pants for the workplace. It certainly would be a good idea to point out the health/medication issues as AAM pointed out, but maybe investing in some simple less fitted items may be helpful. I second the Eileen Fisher suggestion. Although pricey, some of her fabrics look really nice in person and they are surprisingly forgiving for weight fluctuations.

                3. Newt*

                  @UsToo that link you posted. It’s notable to me that the *only* photo of the model that might show how the pants fit the butt region has a strategically placed bag in the way.

                4. Rainy before*

                  Could the long sweater be the actual source of visual discomfort? Even over slacks, I have difficulty to see a long sweater as “dress wear”. Allow me to suggest to keep the Betabrand pants and match them with a dressy long shirt with feminime detail (think ruffs / jabot), or a classy/snappy vest

            2. Jesca*

              I suffer from GERD, and I feel your pain! I struggle with pants finding. The dressbarn has some pants that look like slacks (loose the entire way down and structured) that are extremely stretchy (and I mean EXTREMELY). I would definitely go check them out. Also, Chicos has some really good stretchy pants. I find the high-wasted ones are the best best as opposed to ones that will cut you off right at the gut too. I would still let your boss know that it is a real thing, and something that even us that are seasoned dealing with it struggle with! Best of luck OP, and I hope the side affects are not long lasting.

              1. Kelly L.*

                I had some pretty good ones for a while that were actually from Target’s maternity line. They fit me through about 50 pounds of weight fluctuation. They were in a “worky” material but had this wide comfy waistband (but not the whole maternity front panel, so I didn’t have to wear a super long shirt or anything) and were very stretchy.

                1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                  I was about to say this! Although it may feel weird, maternity pants can be amazing.

                2. agmat*

                  I totally agree with trying maternity pants! OP, depending on where your weight fluctuations occur, you might find these to be a good solution.

                  I’m pregnant now and prefer the kind with the full paneled stretchy top. I’m not sure I’ll wear regular pants after the baby is born, these are so accommodating.

            3. Detective Amy Santiago*

              Maxi skirts can be a godsend. You can get them in basically the same material as leggings and people automatically equate skirts=dressed up.

              1. Lillian Gilbreth*

                Ooh, I would be careful with this. I work in a business casual office and maxi skirts are in no way appropriate. Pencil skirts and some a-line skirts are dressy, but maxi skirts to me are not office wear at all. (Obviously, know your office and audience! This is just my experience.)

              2. MCMonkeyBean*

                Maxi skirts/dresses are not generally office appropriate I think. They’re kind of both too casual and too fancy at the same time. My office is fairly casual so people do wear them sometimes and after I saw women much higher than me on the foodchain wearing them I decided to rock them on the occasional Friday, but I would not recommend them in general and definitely not for an office where the boss is already calling people out.

                1. Naptime Enthusiast*

                  Agreed – I love my maxi skirts and sometimes wear them at work, but only on days where I don’t have any meetings scheduled outside of my team.

                2. Elizabeth H.*

                  Ha – I’m wearing a maxi skirt at work RIGHT NOW. I have a reasonably casual workplace in terms of dress, though. I’m wearing them with black stockings, black flats and a cardigan-type knit gold sweater. I definitely would not wear a maxi DRESS to work ever though – that seems much more casual imo.

            4. Doodle*

              For what it’s worth, I’ve also run those pants by a couple of trusted colleagues and all said they looked like leggings/yoga pants, not dress pants. (I didn’t tell them what they were.)

              I work in a place where long tunic + blazer or cardigan + yoga-style is sort of borderline, and they all said they wouldn’t wear the Betabrand ones to work. I was really bummed because I got that suggestion on here and was super excited to wear them to work. I’ve put them in the “nicer but not actually formal weekend wear” rotation instead.

              1. Doodle*

                Sorry, that ended up not being very helpful. I second the Dress Barn suggestion and I’ve also had luck at Ross — the ones I got both of those places were more “dress pant” material? I think it’s something about the way the betabrand ones hang and bend that makes them read yoga rather than dress pant, at least to me.

              2. Runner*

                The Betabrand at $58 also border on diminishing returns — I understand the comfort factor of yoga pants, but for that price you can get actual khakis or dress pants.

            5. Elizabeth H.*

              Have you looked into Eileen Fisher pants? They are really expensive new, but I have been really successful in finding them for much less, either brand new or in excellent used condition, on eBay and Poshmark. Eileen Fisher pants are really elegant-looking but so many have elastic waist and are so comfortable and forgiving. Look for the pants in Tencel or silk or Japanese silk or crepe style. It’s definitely a different look than conventional button down trousers but if you style them properly (like wearing with neater cardigans, blazers etc rather than the boho look) I think can look quite professional. I’ve had the same experience of gaining weight suddenly as a generally small and thin person and had NO CLOTHES that fit which was so distressing. I was so relieved to find Eileen Fisher pants – I got three pairs and wore them all the time.

            6. Serin*

              I was fixing to recommend Lands End Sport Corduroy Pants, which do have pockets — I have three pairs that I’ve been wearing for literally fifteen years — but if she objects to the Betabrand, the Lands End will not stand up to her scrutiny either. Sounds like an old-fashioned calculus where professional = uncomfortable.

            7. Joielle*

              I also love these pants! I agree with some of the commenters that the lighter colors look a little less dressy, but the dark grey, navy, maroon, etc. are very dressy in person. I have a dark grey straight-leg pair and wear them at least once or twice a week. They’re exactly the same as all the ponte knit dress pants out there. I hope your boss has a little empathy once she hears the situation.

            8. Biff*

              This reminds me, oddly, of the letter writer who wrote in about being pregnant and having her boss really hold her nose to the grindstone over empire-waist dresses. Is it possible your boss is policying your body more than your clothing?

            9. Manager Mary*

              Probably not what you want to hear, LQ, but… it’s possible your boss knows exactly what you’re wearing and just considers them leggings. They’re called “dress pant yoga pants” because they’re literally yoga pants with fake pockets and a decorative button. And… yoga pants are just leggings with a flared leg!

              I have three pairs of Beta Brand pants, and only one of them has thick enough fabric that you could feasibly fool someone into thinking they are stretchy trousers. The other two, NO WAY! They are tight, thin, and leave nothing to the imagination. Thigh dimples? Underwear seams? Butt jiggles? Yikes. I would never go to work in them or allow an employee to wear them.

              I wish you luck with your wardrobe, but don’t pin your hopes on your boss seeing the light about Beta Brand. Even if she concedes that they aren’t true leggings, she still might say “alright, let’s expand this to include leggings AND Beta Brand style fake pants. Just wear real pants, please.”

              1. sap*

                Yeah… Beta brand pants are probably not the best option as pants. They’re not “leggings,” but they generally look quite a bit like yoga pants, which also isn’t an office appropriate look in most contexts.

            10. RB*

              I looked at some photos of those. If she thinks those are leggings, she doesn’t really understand what leggings are. Not that that’s of any help for you or anything…

          2. Eleven*

            Holy cow – I have never heard of these but I just googled them and almost cried tears of joy!

            1. Notchangingcolor*

              Was excited too. But, as usual, almost nothing in my “colors” that I can see, which probably saved me $2,ooo+ dollars I might have spent on that website. LOL!

              Will bookmark it though. Maybe they will have some options that aren’t “winter colors” some time in future. :(

        2. Turquoisecow*

          I’ve seen these advertised on Facebook, but I’m hesitant to try them, as all the models in their photos are skinny. As a decidedly not skinny woman, do they have plus-sizes? How well do they fit?

          1. Perse's Mom*

            They seem to only go up to 2XL, one of the comments said they needed a L as a size 12 and others indicate the brand tends to run a bit small, so as someone significantly larger than a 12, these are a presumable no-go for me.

          2. Windchime*

            I wear a 16W in NYDJ pants and the largest size of Betabrand pants were skin tight on me. Like they were painted on. I was really disappointed because they were well made.

          3. Cedrus Libani*

            I’m a size 12 or 14, right in range for what their size chart calls a Large…and when I bought their yoga dress pants, I had to return them twice, going up to XXL (their largest size) before I could even get the darned things on my body. At that point, the calf area was still super tight, but the waist was so loose that it would drop to my knees without a belt.

            It was very strange. Love the idea, though. And the fabric was reasonably thick, so you could probably get away with it as dress pants, especially if you bought a larger size so the stretch wasn’t as obvious.

      3. Thursday Next*

        Hi LQ, I’m sorry you’re dealing with all of this—please let your manager know that you are dealing with a medical situation. For a reasonable manager, this is a complete conversation changer.

        It’s great that you’ve already bought some new clothes, if you have the funds, I’d definitely recommend acquiring enough for a workweek. You deserve to be comfortable, physically and emotionally.

        1. CM*

          +1. Specifically, I’d say that the changes to your body have been unpredictable. It sounds like what you’re wearing is appropriate already, and the inappropriate thing that’s happening here is really your boss calling attention to how your clothes fit. So while the suggestions about more forgiving clothing are fine, ultimately I think this is about nicely telling your boss that you’re doing the best you can and she needs to back off.

      4. NotoriousMCG*

        Hey LQ! Another piece to look out for that has really helped me as my weight has been fluctuating is a really great stretchy pencil skirt. The one I have is very long, goes from high waist to my knee, but is made of stretchy fabric with a stretchy waistband so it follows me whether I’m up or down. It’s also light grey so it + sweater tights and boots + any top I have = professional and comfortable

        1. Sam.*

          It’s so frustrating to get dressed in the morning and realize that nothing fits the way you’re expecting it to. Historically, my weight has fluctuated quite a lot, so at some point I switched to an exclusively dress- and skirt-based work wardrobe. I find them far more forgiving, so I don’t feel so uncomfortable when my hips take on a couple extra inches for a month or two, which also means I don’t feel like I need to waste money on new clothes. (Currently wearing: a sleeveless knit dress, long sleeve cardigan, and tights)

          1. hc*

            I’m the same. 5’3” and pant size anywhere from 2 to 10 over the last five years. But I can usually fit dress size 6 or 8 depending since the problem is mainly my disproportionately large butt.

            As a queer woman I prefer a more androgynous look. And i’m a bit of a goth so my weekend wardrobe is a total 180 from work wear.

          2. Anon for this*

            I ended up doing the same thing because of weight fluctuation. When you’re bottom-heavy, it’s just too difficult to keep standard dress pants fitting well if you gain or lose a few pounds, and things like Betabrand or ponte pants don’t drape as well over thicker thighs (which leads to them looking like leggings or yoga pants). Swing and shift dresses, as well A-line skirts are just so much more forgiving, and it’s easier to hide fit issues with a long cardigan.

      5. anon for the leggings*

        Hi, OP, I am with you on this one, and I empathize so hard! I’m dealing with something somewhat similar, and the constant changes in weight (and shape!) are pretty grueling from a mental perspective.

        I’m lucky enough to work from home, and I’m so grateful for it, because I do wear actual leggings, and I have no idea what I would do if I couldn’t (dresses with leggings? Ooh, movie title: Dresses With Leggings, Dances With Wolves).

        Anyway, now I’m imagining that in the kind of office privacy-invasion situation we sometimes read about here and shuddering in horror. I sometimes go from looking 6 months pregnant to flat stomach overnight or vice versa. Wonder what the nosiest of the nosy would do with that…

        No practical advice, just I’m sorry you’re dealing with this and I hope it gets better.

        1. Case of the Mondays*

          I wear dresses with black leggings and knee high boots and they just look like thick tights since only a few inches show. Definitely depends on the brand too. Also, I don’t know if NY and Co. still sells them but they used to have great elastic waist dress pants that felt like pajamas but looked professional.

        2. Blue*

          +1 to dresses with leggings and boots! Also fleece-lined tights, which are both necessary in the winter and ridiculously comfortable.

          1. LQ ;-)*

            The crazy thing is, LOTS of women in the office, including those in c-level positions, wear the old reliable boots, leggings, sweater/dress combination. In fact, right after I was scolded we went into a meeting with our Chief Strategy Officer who was wearing leggings, flats, and an oversized men’s dress shirt. The “leggings” in question that I was wearing were black Betabrand fit and flair with plain black heels, a longish black sleeveless tunic-style top, and a white blazer. I happen to think I looked quite professional and elegant :-) But thanks for all the reassurance, if it comes back again I feel empowered to (gently) push back.

            1. Kelly L.*

              See, and I’d never think leggings if something had a flared leg! To me, leggings stay snug all the way down and are tight at the ankle.

              1. Kit*

                Yoga pants used to have flares, but they’ve followed jeans into the skinny ankle territory.

            2. fposte*

              For me yoga pants are pretty much on a par with leggings in business appropriateness, so I don’t think the fact that what you were wearing weren’t technically leggings matters all that much. What does matter is that leggings at your workplace are fine, and you were actually wearing a slightly more formal incarnation of them.

      6. TheCupcakeCounter*

        I also have some bloating issues and in my opinion fit and flare or swing dress styles are very forgiving and look GREAT with a blazer. I will usually wear them with thigh high stocking so I don’t have the extra compression around my waist, which as you know can be very painful.
        Another great option is New York and Company which have a pull-on style pant in a boot cut or straight leg and some nice, loose and somewhat long shells for under a cardigan or blazer. Those were my go-to for the first half of my pregnancy (as well as those super bloaty period days). They often have great deals such as BOGO free or half price so you wouldn’t have to invest a ton of $$ to get a few staples.

        1. The Luidaeg*

          I love J Jill’s Wearever collection — both the full leg and the barely boot cut pants are great (although they don’t have pockets). They have a nice weight to them and a bit of stretch, so with a top and a long cardigan, they’re my go-to.

          1. Former Employee*

            Seconding the Wearever rec. I love them and can wear the same ones whether I weigh what would be one size versus another size in a different brand/style. They are so forgiving. When I am at my low end weight which is a really normal weight for my height/build, I can wear an XS in Wearever and I am not now and never have been an XS!

            1. PastMyPrime*

              I third J.Jill. They all have ponte knit bottoms that are super comfy and still have a tailored fit. I’ve had a bunch of abdominal surgeries for lady part diseases, and comfortable clothing is a must. It’s hard for those who haven’t experienced such chronic pain to understand how much dressing and going to work in normal clothes is a real struggle. I hope LQ will find some healing and feel better.

      7. Boredatwork*

        LQ – I’m sorry your boss is being overly critical. That really sucks when you’re already dealing with body image issues. Some women are unnecessarily harsh on anyone who is not a size 2. There is a lot of psychological bias that “over weight” means unkempt which is just so wrong!

        If she wants you to dress business professional, I personally prefer skirted suits, they have more wiggle room as far as weight is concerned, If you’re tall consider getting a “midi” length. I can gain and lose 10lbs and my skirts still fit.

        For jackets, I highly recommend investing in wool, like a men’s wear suit. They are usually more flattering fit wise and look dressier. Some of the “fashion” poly blends don’t look good on anyone!

        For immediate effect – if you boss is one of those woman who equate “over weight” with unkempt, maybe try wearing a bit more makeup? There was an entire post yesterday about it. Yes, I know this is a sad state of affairs, but if some lipstick will get her to leave you alone it’s worth the $15 at MAC.

        1. LQ ;-)*

          At the risk of TMI-ing…I am normally a size 2/4 or small. Thanks to these lovely meds, that can fluctuate to a 8/10 and M/L. And my boss is…I’m guessing…a 14? 16? And talks a lot about her own weight – she is always on some sort of new diet and talks a lot about it, which is another issue that makes me uncomfortable (though I don’t currently work in the health/nutrition field, I have a nutrition certificate, and some of the diet-related stuff she does makes me cringe). So another factor here is I think she may be projecting some of her own insecurities onto me. But I have enough of my own these days, thank you very much! Again, this is my first foray into the ask a manager dialogue, and I am loving the supportive and thoughtful comments!!

          1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

            Bingo. That’s what I was guessing (in my post downthread a couple of minutes ago). This is her stuff, not yours — which doesn’t help with what you should do about it, but I hope can help you keep a healthy perspective.

          2. Boredatwork*

            THIS – She’s projecting her insecurity onto you. I am a 2/4 and my mom is a 14/16 and she does this ALL the time to me. Honestly, no matter what you wear she’ll probably criticize you. The best thing you can do is just stop wearing pants, since you’re dealing with crazy, you can’t be wearing leggings if you aren’t wearing pants.

            I hope your health improves and you can get back to feeling like your normal self! Until then, realize this is her issue and not yours.

          3. RB*

            Is it possible your boss is a control freak in other ways that you just didn’t really notice before? Because this sounds like control-freak territory.

      8. A tester, not a developer*

        I have similar issues (I especially enjoy when my waist goes up by 6″ through the day /s).

        I’m a big fan of dresses with no waist seams and maternity hosiery. Throw a blazer over top and I can meet with anybody.

      9. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

        In addition to all the good advice here, keep this in mind: Your boss is being a bit of a dick.

        It sounds like she has a different standard for thin(ner) women than fat(ter) women. You’re temporarily swinging between the two — but I’d guess that she’s applying the same critique to women who are larger than you in general.

        I say this in the hopes that it can help with your embarrassment or humiliation. She’s clearly in the wrong here. It’s about her bias/sexism/self-criticism/etc., not the size of your body.

        1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

          (Also: I hope I didn’t offend by using the word “fat.” I’m a fat person, and I use it as a simple descriptive, without intending to apply any judgment or criticism.)

        2. BananaPants*

          Eh, I don’t know. For whatever reason, the OP’s group is expected to be dressed to a higher level/in a more professional way than the rest of the company, and ill-fitting clothes just don’t present a terribly professional appearance. If a slim man was wearing a suit 3 sizes too big, he might well get the same critique.

          I’m a fat woman and have tried before to make too-small pants work. It didn’t work, and I just felt more uncomfortable and self-conscious about my appearance. No one knows what the number on the tag says, and if the clothes fit well, no one’s going to wonder – but on the flip side, people can immediately see if clothes are ill-fitting or much too tight.

      10. Genny*

        OP, if you’re finding that the bloating is setting in once you’ve already left for work, you could leave your most forgiving/comfy outfit at work. That way you can change into that if the bloating sets in or if you feel uncomfortable in what you’re wearing. If anyone asks why you changed, you spilled some coffee on your shirt and/or pants.

      11. Oxford Coma*

        For stretchy waist, very forgiving pants, I recommend Dana Buchman at Kohl’s. They are on sale constantly, so I usually pay $25 to $35 per pair.

        For reference, I am 5’2″ and about 155 pounds, with a 26″ inseam (all torso, no legs) and I wear a medium comfortably. I am a pear shape with a muffin top. This is the first pair of business slacks I’ve owned for which I didn’t need the “short” length, so if you’re tall you will definitely need the “tall” sizing.

      12. BananaPants*

        Dress Barn Secret Agent pants are what you want. IMO Betabrand are too “athleisure” to be acceptable office attire for anything above a casual dress code.

        Just buy a few pairs of pants in a bigger size – better to swallow your pride and do that than having an obviously ill-fitting work wardrobe while you lose the weight. A 20 lb weight gain is not going to go away overnight, and even once you do lose it, if the medication continues to occasionally cause bloating you’ll be glad to have some more forgiving pairs of slacks in your wardrobe at the ready.

      13. Julia the Survivor*

        There are always people who don’t wear leggings right. I see it on the street all the time – leggings with nothing covering their butt. It doesn’t work!
        I know that’s not what you’re doing, OP! I’d like to suggest treating your pants as if they were leggings and wearing a skirt over them. Or just wear a skirt without the pants. A skirt with a wide-ish cut, elastic waist, stretchy material would be much more comfortable!
        I love skirts mainly because they’re more comfortable and easier to wear! The fit is much more forgiving, and they’re more versatile with weight fluctuations!

        1. Elizabeth H.*

          I don’t think that’s fair to say that people “don’t wear leggings right.” It might not be an outfit you personally would like to wear but I don’t get why it would be “wrong” to wear leggings as the only garment on your lower body, if you are happy wearing them and you’re not in a situation where you’re expected to adhere to a specific dress code.

          1. Julia the Survivor*

            It looks as if they’re not wearing anything. In most situations that’s inappropriate.

          2. Notchangingcolor*

            If you can see their choice of waxing style then they are not wearing them right.

      14. Yael @ Nosherium*

        I have some weight fluctuation issues too, but I work in a casual startup environment. I’ve worked in business-formal environments and have never had anyone comment on something like this. It strikes me as so ridiculous that a manager would spend their time on this (I recognize that it’s not unheard of, it just seems so silly and deeply body-shame-y). I like this write-up for more than just its great title:
        When I’m really struggling with weight fluctuation, I go for tights (or *gasp* leggings!) With booties/knee-high boots and a ponte shift or a-line dress.

    2. Legalchef*

      If your weight can vary over the course of the day I’d suggest leaving a couple neutral items at your desk – long cardigans and scarves, to cover any suddenly ill-fitting clothes.

    3. MCMonkeyBean*

      My favorite work pants right now are wide-leg pants. They are back in style so they’re being sold pretty much everywhere, but mine are from Express. I wonder if something like that would help.

      1. Pebbles*

        I got stuck way too long at the bottom of the chart where it appears to be missing a line to a “YES” answer!

        1. teclatrans*

          I couldn’t make it past the top set of questions. I was like a Choose Your Own adventure where I kept dying.

      1. fposte*

        While I think the OP’s boss is being a jerk, I would straight out not do knit pants of any kind, no matter how nice they looked in the promo photo, if I were in an office where leggings were genuinely not allowed.

        1. Elizabeth H.*

          What are pants supposed to look like, if the pants like Pretend Scientist linked are inappropriate? (This is a serious question – I’ve only ever worked in casual-business casual places, and I almost always wear skirts/dresses) They look like normal office wear to me, as long as they fit (and anything would look weird if it didn’t fit).

          1. Elizabeth H.*

            Upon reflection, I think I probably have no clue about this because I dress like a slob some of the time. I try to look nice-ish when I can, but the other day I came to work wearing my boyfriend’s khaki pants and polo shirt because I didn’t have any of my own work clothing at his house. I have also literally worn sweatpants (like that say “Gap” on them – not fancy sweatpants) to work, albeit during the mid Christmas/New Years when only 3-4 people were in office.

          2. fposte*

            They’re supposed to look like woven material. If you can tell they’re knit pants, they don’t look like woven material. The more pockets and buttons they have the better the illusion, but heather material tends to make them look more rather than less knit, and I’d want to see them 1) in motion and 2) from behind in the lighter shades.

            My main point, though, was not so much that these pants are horrible but that if the OP were legitimately getting scrutiny for inappropriate bottomwear (and I don’t think the current scrutiny does sound legitimate), she would want to move to the side of the inarguably conservative rather than trying to inch her way along the spectrum in hope that that would be enough.

            Obviously you could also just outright ask where something falls in line with the dress code, but in most cases you want to avoid looking like you’re pushing at boundaries when you’ve been told to change things.

        2. Delphine*

          There ought to be a middle ground, especially if the pants look like the Gap ones linked above (in person, not just online). It can be really tough to dress around fluctuating weight and knits tend to have more give than other fabrics.

        3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          I agree, and I think this is where OP should try to channel the knit dresses/skirts. Knit pants often look like leggings, and as noted above, I agree that Betabrand is not sufficiently formal if OP’s boss is requiring a more stringent dress code than the rest of the office. (Which she’s allowed to do, even if it feels eye-rolly.)

          (To be fair, boss is being kind of a jerk. But I think it’s helpful to determine what the cut-offs are for the standard she’s requiring, and knit pants are often not sufficiently formal for the “business” attire standard LQ’s boss has provided.)

    4. SebbyGrrl*

      The best flow chart ever! Been forwarding and reposting for years.

      I often text my besties “Are you wearing pants?” :)

      Great for a Friday, thanks!

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        My pleasure! We used to mercilessly tease a friend who kept wearing leggings as if they were pants (i.e., her shirts were not long enough)—I promise it was not bullying and that she realized we were right.

        Then we started seeing undergraduates on campus wearing tights as if they were pants (I saw so much that I wish I had not). So anytime our friend failed to cover her booty/crotch while wearing leggings, we’d forward her this flowchart.

  3. LouiseM*

    OP #1, PLEASE ask people to put things in writing and don’t back down! In my field, it’s sadly common for disorganized professors to verbally throw work at the admins. I’m sure they don’t mean anything by it, but it comes off as disrespectful of the admins’ time and faintly sexist (even when the professor is a woman and the admin is a man). It’s as though they think inconveniencing someone is no big deal as long as they don’t have a graduate degree. It drives me nuts to see people do this, so I totally support you in nipping this in the bud.

    1. Almost Violet Miller*

      I know it depends on the position and the field, but in general requesting to put things in writing is more than fine.
      My colleagues often drop by my desk to ask questions about our products. What they don’t realize is that their questions often need to be addressed to R&D etc. so I’m not gonna just say yes or no or deal with them immediately as there is research to be done on my side as well before passing anything along.
      So while I try to give them a timeline or a general answer about the probability of a modification, I almost always ask them for sending me a written reqeust. Helps me prioritize as well.

      1. MerciMe*

        Yeah. I tell people that I have enough different things on my plate that the only way I can track them is by putting everything into my e-mail for centralized lookup/tracking. It was a bit of a shift for folks at first (I think a few folks thought it was unneccessary extra work), but as it became visible that this really does help me do more, better and faster, everyone has accepted that it’s just my style and people now proactively offer to send me details via email.

        If they don’t, I still always send and save a confirmation e-mail, so I can prove what happened and also becaise it really is the only way I can keep my job organized.

        What I would avoid is asking folks to fill out an admin request form. In my experience, it never works – I think because it’s a stodgy, bureaucratic process rather than more natural/intuitive human outreach.

        1. Anonymoose*

          Yep, initiating the email to the requestor is also a great idea because you force the requestor to double check their own request (excellent).

          LW #1 – also it sounds like you get a bunch of ‘stop-by’ traffic. You can eliminate confusion on this end by placing one of those magazine wrack things that attach to your door/cubicle wall and include a little form and pen for them to literally put it in writing. If they insist on not using a computer, there is no reason why they can’t be more specific in their own words, including deadline/priority. Then you can use their request to start their projects, and maybe confirm it’s done by scanning and including it in your confirmation email. We implemented this process for a really busy financial firm and it helped tremendously.

          ps. I too have ADHD. An old boss told me to walk around with a small notepad and pen so that I could write things down as folks found me in the hallway. And this totally would have worked…if I ever remembered to grab the stupid notepad when I was leaving my desk (well meaning non-adhd folks are amusing when they try to help us, aren’t they? haha). Whatever you do, make sure it’s easy/simple/not easy to forget. Good luck! :)

      2. Ama*

        Yes, when I was a university admin I had this problem all the time (our school had its own cafeteria so people would run into me at lunch and want to ask me things). I did have to get into the habit of saying “I can help with that — can you just send me an email when you get back to your desk, that’s how I keep track of these things.”

        When I was at my desk, I had a notepad handy for simple “drive-by” requests (like “hey we need more pens in the supply closet” or “can you send me the expense report form again?”) but anything more complicated than that I would also ask them to send me the full details in an email.

    2. Safetykats*

      Yes! I would absolutely tell people you’ll be happy to do that for them – if they just send you a quick email with the pertinent details. This is the normal way of doing business everywhere I’ve worked, and when we forget and provide a verbal request for a conference room or IT support or office supplies to be ordered or what have you, our admins just politely ask for us to send an email. I don’t think people will push back, but if they do just tell them you have so many requests you really need them in writing to make sure you have a record of all the details.

      1. Effie, who is pondering*

        I support 4 people and I always ask for requests in writing like this. I haven’t gotten any pushback! There are times when I’ll take notes as they give me the request and I still ask them to follow up in writing just in case it slips through the cracks.

      2. KitKat*

        Some people might even be happy! I prefer sending requests in writing for many of the reasons already enumerated, but an additional one is that I hate feeling like I am hovering/interrupting and find just sending an email a lot easier :)

      3. Hellanon*

        I am senior staff at my institution and I am always having to ask people for data, documents, appointments, etc. What I often do is if I’ve run it by them in person first, I finish the conversation by saying, “Let me email you with the details, and you can let me know if you have any questions at that point.” It acknowledges that while they need to get me my data, the ultimate responsibility for making sure I get what I need in the correct configuration (or whatever the project entails) is mine. Then too if since I have the original email I can follow up more easily.

        Nobody can remember all this stuff – email is a productivity tool if it’s used right.

        1. Anonymoose*

          + 1 Yep, it reduces confusion for both parties and it timestamps so you’re all on the same page. The only issue I have ever run into this is when requests go into my Clutter folder (Outlook). How Clutter decides what is not necessary for me to look at is a total mystery to me.

    3. Wakeen Teaptots, LTD*

      Absofrickinglutely. I think the OP is hesitant because she has ADHD, thinking that she is asking for something special because of that but it is not special at all. It is good process for anyone!

      1. boo*

        Yes, this! I have a lot of ADHD systems I use to circumvent my own brain, and I’m not sure I could draw a bright line between “everyone would benefit from doing this” (having designated places for important things) and “this would be insane if it didn’t work so well” (keeping spare sets of keys at three different friends’ houses, and in each of three different bags). Those are extremes, but there’s a lot in the middle.

        However, making people confirm details of their own travel is totally in the “everyone would benefit from doing this” pile! Since you can’t force them to email you, the suggestion above of emailing them to confirm what they asked you for is great.

        The other thing I would do if you can is, if they’re tossing off requests while passing your desk, say, “Hold on, let me write that down,” and repeat everything back to them as you write it-make them stand there and tell you. (Then also emailing to confirm.) Anyone who is too impatient to go through that bare minimum of process deserves to find themselves stranded in Naples, Florida, with a car rental in Naples, Italy.

        OP, I also want to note that in the example you sent, the person who got mad at you was sent a confirmation and didn’t look at it for two days. That’s not completely a you problem!

        1. Anonymoose*

          Good point about the person who read the email but didn’t actually verify it’s details.

          Also “Anyone who is too impatient to go through that bare minimum of process deserves to find themselves stranded in Naples, Florida, with a car rental in Naples, Italy.” TOTALLY.

      2. CityMouse*

        I Don’t have ADHD and I insist on things in writing. People misspell or Don’t give you the full picture verbally all the time. Being able to track records in an email is crucial.

        1. Huttj*

          Heck, in social things with friends I run into “I remember it being this weekend, but my calendar says next weekend…am I remembering wrong or did I enter it wrong?”

          I’ve since become the guy who in the scheduling email chains, instead of saying “that works for me” says “Sat, Mar 10 works for me” to make sure we’re all talking about the same date.

    4. I Herd the Cats*

      OP#1 I’m the person in my office who takes care of these details. I have sent an email (with the CEO’s approval) to the entire office, with occasional reminders, telling people to put their requests to me in emails so I can flag them and follow up. My focus is on “making sure I have all the correct details” rather than “stop interrupting me.” When people forget and stop by, or stop me in the hall, I give them a pleasant smile and say of course, shoot me an email so I can flag it and follow up!

      1. Happy Lurker*

        This is the key to tell others. That the email provides a way to flag and follow up and covers both of you from misunderstanding.
        OP your associates situation was their own making and now they are trying to push it back on you. You sent the confirmation and they neglected to double check it. That’s not your fault and the blame game is not cool. Don’t play it.

        1. Talk Email to Me*

          Happy Lurker — oh, I know that’s what they were trying to do. I made sure my supervisor knew that I sent the confirmation and that I did my best to resolve it.

          1. Happy Lurker*

            I hope your boss has your back. You did all the right things.
            Good luck implementing your new system and navigating your messed up coworkers!

    5. I Love Thrawn*

      Long time admin here. I totally do this – not so much at my current, much less busy workplace, but the last one where I was insanely busy, it helped keep my sanity to get emails instead of verbals.

    6. Phoenix Programmer*

      I ask coworkers to email me all the time. I get ad hoc requests several times through the day usually and even my elephant memory struggles to remember all of these especially as other urgent issues can crop up and take my attention.

      1. Elemeno P.*

        I have an AWFUL memory (if you’re an elephant, I’m a goldfish!), and I try to be extremely open about it when working with people because I absolutely, 100% need things written down.

        The downside to having an awful memory is that I often miss things that people have told me verbally and have to scramble to complete them quickly. The upside is that those same people realize I really was not lying about my terrible memory and they always send me written requests afterward. This is especially helpful in situations like the LW’s, where someone may argue that I did something incorrectly and I can point them to their email with their own words backing me up.

      2. CityMouse*

        I have been referred to as “steel trap brain” for my ability to remember detail but I can’t remember all details of multiple verbal conversations either. OP seems to think this is a weakness on her part but it just isn’t.

        1. Anonymoose*

          I know that they recently reneged on that whole three ways of learning theory (audio, tactical, visual), but there is something to be said about getting auditory details and 1) even understanding all the details, and 2) remembering the details even 2 minutes later. Because I simply can’t, I have to write details down as they’re said or they are simply gone into the mists. And don’t get me started on hearing numbers and having to try to make sense of them in a meeting. I just can’t. If you verbally aske me to multiple 4 x 13, my eyes would simply glaze over and my response would be ‘huh?’.

    7. Betsy*

      This makes me feel really relieved, actually! I try to get my students to email me requests, rather than just mentioning something during class or after class, or when they randomly bump into me in the hallway. Sometimes I ask them to email to me and I’ve always felt like maybe that was a bit weird. I usually have 100-200 students per semester and I find it really hard to remember what everyone wants or needs. It’s good to know that other people can’t just keep huge amounts of information in their heads. I’ve always felt a little disorganised or incompetent, and it’s nice to know that it’s quite normal not to remember everything off the top of your head.

      1. A Bag of Jedi Mind Tricks*

        OP#1–I agree with Everything Alison advised. I, too, cover a large group of people and I insist that they send me emails with their requests. Most are happy to do so. One or two MUST be difficult and refuse to send me emails. So what I do is send them an email repeating their instructions/requests as I understood them and then asking them to confirm.

      2. Anonymoose*

        Hey, you’re actually providing a service to those students (well, besides the actual course content), in that you’re forcing them to learn to be accountable for their own needs as well as educating them in how adults typically communicate requests to each other in a corporate setting. So keep it up, they’ll thank you at their first job after graduation. :)

    8. Talk Email to Me*

      OP 1 here. Thank you! It’s so nice to see everyone saying that this is a totally reasonable request, since it just doesn’t happen here.

      1. Lily Rowan*

        You may do better with the follow-up email, because at least that is in your control. But not if people don’t read them! Good luck.

        1. Anonymoose*

          + 1 But even if they don’t read the emails, she’s still CYAing. After a while of folks ignoring the email and having incorrect projects, they’ll start understanding that they have to be active in the process. But it might be a slow change culturally since nobody seems to do this. Yet.

    9. SheLooksFamiliar*

      Add me to the group that says, ‘Yes, you can ask for an email!’ You’ve been more than gracious trying to make life easier for your team, it’s time for them to do the same for you.

      But I have to say, most companies embrace a self-sufficient model for travel, and I wonder why your team can’t make their own travel plans, rental car reservations included. I’d rather do it myself, and it’s not because I don’t trust our department admin manager. It’s just quicker and easier to do it myself. Rant over, please keep us posted.

      1. Happy Lurker*

        Seriously, good point. The amount of time it took that other person to babble at OP, they could have done it themselves. After setting up their initial account on whatever platform they choose, reservations are pretty fast. Not like the old days of calling the Agent and peering at a screen of DOS flights.

        1. SheLooksFamiliar*

          Thanks – I work for a Fortune 100 company, and it’s true that self-sufficient models are largely about cost savings. But even the biggest naysayers now prefer managing their own travel plans. They use the right app and can change plans on the fly. And yes, I did that on purpose ;)

          1. Anonymoose*

            Amen. I help with travel reimbursement and luckily don’t have to make arrangements for my team. Why bother taking twenty minutes to tell me your preferences when you could have just spent 10 min making your own arrangements? Duh.

      2. the gold digger*

        In my company’s case, our required online reservation system is so cumbersome (and can still require talking to someone at the travel agency or at the ferry terminal or at the car rental place at the ferry terminal) that it really is more efficient for my boss’ admin to make his (frequent) travel plans.

        1. Anonymoose*

          Well yes, when someone is a super traveller, getting help with arrangements makes sense. But if you travel once a month…ya, you could probably just do your own.

      3. Talk Email to Me*

        I think part of it may be that I haven’t been here that long, so I’m still in that “trying to do everything just like my predecessor” phase. I also agree that it might be more convenient for people to make arrangements themselves, but it’s a part of my job, and I don’t want to seem like I’m shirking duties.

        1. Anonymoose*

          Don’t forget that the beauty of hiring new staff is that they bring new ideas and processes with them that can majorly help speed up inefficiencies. ;) Maybe this office would love your email system after they get used to it. Or maybe you learn that they are super old school. Just don’t be afraid to gather feedback about the new processes you want to implement so you can make sure you’re meeting all of your/their needs.

    10. MusicWithRocksInIt*

      Absolutely ask for emails. Then email them back with confirmation you did the thing they asked you to do, reiterating the things listed in the original email. Then if anyone accuses you of doing whatever it was wrong, do not be afraid to send them that email with a “I confirmed the details of the teapot report with you on 2/28 – please see below email confrontation”. My old boss who was very nice but not a great memory would occasionally accuse me of doing something wrong, and I always kept and used proof that I did exactly what I was told to.

      1. Just Employed Here*

        I’m guessing you meant email conversation or email confirmation, but sometimes it really is an email confrontation…

    11. Mel*

      Joining the “email me” chorus… I got pushback from That Person in my office when I was an admin. I explained that if he emails me, he covers his own rear end if I screw it up. (It helped that he had just been chewed out for something that he had no control over and he was a fresh intern. I swear all of the intern supervisors thought everyone just knew Office Norms.)

    12. TootsNYC*

      Absolutely, if there’s the tiniest level of detail, people should be sending those in an email; it’s rude as hell to say dates to you verbally and expect you to remember. And it’s not safe for them to trust their own memory.

      So push back on that.

      But I also wanted to add something I did once when I had a busy busy with lots of tasks arriving rapidly. I feared I would lose track of the tasks, so I would hand people a piece of paper, make them write down there name and a word or three, and put it in my in-box. Or sometimes I’d write their name and the keyword myself.

      When I took it out, I would remember most of the details, and I didn’t forget that I had to tackle that.

      So even if it’s something like that, I think it’s fair to ask people to put things in writing.

    13. Kat G, Ph.D.*

      I was coming to give an academia example as well! In my case, I’m the professor, and the people asking/telling me stuff are students, so the power dynamic is very different. That said, I give a small speech the first day of class and make it pretty self-deprecating: “There are 60 of you, and I have the memory of a goldfish. If you come up to me after class and tell me something, I WILL forget it. Please email me instead.” LW could also do a shortened version of this: “Could you email me the info? I want to make sure your info doesn’t get lost. Thanks!”

    14. Very frequent flyer*

      In most cases, I’d rather make my own travel arrangements. The only times I don’t like to do that is when there are specific requirements being imposed by the organization — stay at X, rent from Y, be on flight Z, etc.

      However, if your organization requires others to go through you to make travel plans, I’d only caution that saying “email me” sometimes means “I’ll get to it when I can.” Mostly that’s ok, but there are very occasionally times when I really do need these things done very quickly. I’d be happy to email all my travel specifications if I know you are reviewing email frequently and picking up which ones need immediate attention. Perhaps include “Urgent:” in the subject line when it really is urgent.

    15. SophieK*


      What I would do is document all the requests for a week or two and then go to my boss for an official procedure change.

      If OP demonstrates willingness to get all the work done a reasonable boss may very well assess the requests for appropriateness and push back on her behalf.

      If not, if the response is to just handle it, it is time to polish the resume as long as sufficient time has been put in that it doesn’t look like job hopping.

  4. Lord Gouldian Finch*

    #3 – does your employer use an ATS or have a formal HR department? If so you could tell him he needs to apply “officially” even if you pass along his resume… and then just decline to pass along his resume and let him stand or fall on his own merits?

    1. Diluted_Tortoiseshell*

      I would not state or insinuate that you will pass it along if you actually aren’t.

      Also hi AAM community! Long time no post! I got promoted a few years ago and it’s been nearly impossible to find time in the day to comment anymore. This Friday is a rare exception as we finished our major projects and I am just in the office making sure that no emergencies crop up!

  5. Casuan*

    OP4: It’s heartening that you want to reach out to this contact & that you asked Alison for her thoughts.
    If you ever get stuck or just want to vent or get some affirmation & if you think it will help, please post to the Friday Open Thread or the Weekend-Free-for-All [the WFFA is for anything not school or work related].
    Hopefully I’m not insulting you by advising this; I’m projecting a little as it took me several months before I really got into the weekend posts & it can help to get comments from others. :-)
    Good luck!!

    1. OP#4*

      I have posted there before, but I have found that it does not always illicit responses and I felt like this question might be one that would really help others, as I spent some time looking for language on Allison’s website.

      1. Casuan*

        My apologies!
        OP4, I’m sorry if my comments implied “You shouldn’t have asked Alison nor should you ask her again, go straight to the boards”!!
        That wasn’t at all my intent. Of course you should ask Alison anything you want & the boards can be a supplemental resource. There’s a little risk because as you said, not everything elicits a response.
        As for your original query, you’re right- all of the questions are something we can all learn from.

      2. Jennifer Thneed*

        I have found that the stuff that goes up in the first 6-ish hours gets most of the traffic by far. Which means the folks on the East Coast have a real advantage there. :(

    1. Trout 'Waver*

      This is such a common request and good business practice. I wouldn’t tie it to an ADA accommodation request unless absolutely necessary.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        Yeah, I really don’t think this is an out of the ordinary request in any way.

      2. SarahTheEntwife*

        Agree; if you have to go down that route in order to get such an everyday sort of thing, that’s probably a sign that you should be looking for a new job because your workplace is unreasonable.

        1. Anonymouse*

          It’s funny you should say that; my workplace is quite unreasonable and as it happens I am looking for a new job. thanks for providing some perspective for both me and the OP!

  6. Susan K*

    #3 – Any chance your company has an anti-nepotism policy? I’m not sure how common that is, but my company has such a policy, where employees are not allowed to recommend relatives or be involved in the hiring process for a relative in any way (including passing along their resume or putting in a good word with the hiring manager). Even if your company doesn’t have such a policy, you could just say it’s “frowned upon” to try to give relatives an advantage, and it might actually hurt his chances if it appeared you were doing that (which, by the way, is totally different than recommending someone you know in a professional capacity).

    1. OP3*

      Unfortunately for this situation, they’re quite okay with family working together. We have had several sets of siblings and couples working in the company (usually in different departments, but not always). If Fergus does get the job, he’ll find that out pretty quickly, so I can’t tell him otherwise.

      1. TootsNYC*

        “Family working together” is not the same thing as “family recommending people” of “family influencing hiring decisions.”

        It could be quite likely that a place w/ an anti-nepotism policy might still end up hiring relatives of their current employees. The policy is that the family member can’t be -involved- or can’t apply any pressure.

    2. Annon for this*

      OP3 – I sympathize with your situation. I have family members with mental health issues who have asked me to both employ or stand as a reference for them. I am glad for our anti-nepotism policy here and have found it quite difficult to get these family members to understand that their issues cannot bring me down professionally or even personally. After years of strange requests it has come down to flat out “I cannot do it” or “I am unable to do that”, etc.
      I realize it is very hard to tell a family member “No”, especially when you want to help them. But for your own sake you must decline. You may also find that you need to approach HR (depending on who this is and your relationship with them) and let them know that you have a rogue family member that thinks they would be a good employee, but you do not agree. Best of luck OP.

      1. TootsNYC*

        “I realize it is very hard to tell a family member “No”, especially when you want to help them. But for your own sake you must decline. ”

        This is an opportunity for some personal growth. I know it can be hard to say no to certain people, either because of their authority over us or in the family, their personality, whatever.

        But it’s important, so now’s the time to practice–and it’s good that you’re working out how to do that. Just be sure to focus some mental energy on improving that mental strength.

        Good luck!

  7. Jennifer*

    Fergus won’t be an awesome fit for the role, but it doesn’t sound like *anyone* is a good fit for the role either, eh? If he needs a job and is going to bail or get canned from it anyway…and that’s what everyone in the job does…

    Uh, I totally agree that nobody should turn in a relative’s resume, I was just thinking that whether or not Fergus fits the role may not really matter in that bad of a job.

    1. JamieS*

      Depending on the job the high turnover may be normal and expected but it sounds like Fergus has a history of leaving jobs on less than ideal terms which wouldn’t be a good look for OP if the same thing happened here. Also, if the job isn’t intended to be higher turnover then OP’s recommendation could be interpreted as an endorsement that Fergus is a plausible long term candidate.

      Regardless, bottom line for me is OP would be putting their good name on the line and if someone has reservations about doing that I’d always advise against it regardless of who they’re vouching for.

    2. Mad Baggins*

      If they hire Rando #15 off the street and it doesn’t work out, no harm no foul, but they’ll probably have higher expectations of OP’s Relative, and if Fergus disappoints them OP might suffer a reputation hit as well because they trusted OP’s recommendation. Even if the job sucks there’s only downsides in it for OP.

    3. OP3*

      The position has a high turnover mainly because of the hours. They’re extremely variable, and we’re a non-profit, so don’t pay the best. People often start working, get trained for the one specific skill needed, and once they are certified, find a job elsewhere that will pay more and have more regular hours.

  8. Is It Performance Art*

    OP #1: I am a very big fan of having people put their requests in writing both as the requester and as the request receiver. Everyone makes mistakes no matter how careful they are and putting requests in writing is a way to reduce the number of errors. I work in a very different role, so I don’t know if this will work in your situation, but if I’m working with someone for the first time or if I think I’ll get push back, I mention that I find it makes it easier to make sure I get them what they need as quickly as possible. Most people are willing to put it in writing when I explain it as something to make everyone’s life easier.

    1. knitter who lurks*

      Maybe a Google form or other similar item for your company’s platform with required fields for the essentials, so you are always getting the info with all the details you need? For confirmations, I prefer list format myself and like to include the day of the week (so easy to mistype a number or mix up February and March when it’s not a leap year!).

  9. Casuan*

    OP1: Definitely ask for requests to be in writing. Before you implement this, you should let your manager know so she can address any concerns or issues with the policy.
    My thoughts:
    -You train others how to provide you with the information you need to help them with their work.
    -As such, there’s a learning curve. In this case, that means that for a few weeks you’ll often utter some iteration of “I’m glad to. Please send me the information via email.”
    -Sell this policy to your manager & colleagues by telling them how it will benefit them.
    -If you think it’s feasible & if this is better for you, you can Let It Be Known that email requests don’t need the niceties [although “thatnk you” is always in season] or excess wording. This might make the requests quicker for them to type & easier for you to read.
    eg: Instead of “Would you please book this thing on these dates when I’ll be in this city?” one could use the appropriate subject, then in the body one could say “City. Car rental. Date arriving. Date leaving.”
    This format would be a request, not policy, because not everyoone is comfortable without the polite wording & it really wouldn’t be worth the time & energy to inist that it be followed.
    -This thought might be overkill; I’m not convinced it’s needed… Alternatively, you could either make a template for the various requests you recieve.
    -Have a pad on your desk so when one does give you the task, you can give them the pad & ask then to write it. If they balk at the idea, be matter-of-fact & say that the process is more streamlined when you have the request in writing. It might help to give your colleagues the paradigm of how you are often interrupted with requests & that makes it difficult when you’re wotking on something else. A reasonable person would understand how these interruptions are not productiove for you.
    -As Alison said, be flexible & this might depend on whomever is making the request.
    -Keep all emails & documentaion until- at minimum- after the event or trip.
    Good luck!

    1. Pollygrammer*

      A good boss would probably even let you say “my boss has asked me to start getting requests like this in writing.”

    2. TootsNYC*

      you can give them the pad & ask them to write it.


      I did this once; people balked at first, but I just held firm in a very pleasant manner. They gave in.

      1. Casuan*

        OP1, if they do write [on paper] the infos, have them date it & put their name.

        the corollary is this:
        At any office [usually medical] where the scheduler writes future appointments on a card, even though I put the appointment directly in my calendar I still take the card & attach it to my desk agenda. The habit has served me well because there are times when the office calls to confirm & they’ve moved the appointment by anywhere from 15mins to an hour & try to gaslight me with the time. Of course, sometimes it’s an honest mistake on their part, however one office was so consistent that I think it was intentional. The habit has served me well!

    3. Rat in the Sugar*

      Personally I’m a big fan of templates and forms for people to fill out; that way they know exactly what information you need and it can cut down on a lot of back and forth requesting details that they didn’t provide. I’ve never had people complain about them.

      The way I use them is to not actually insist on them. If people give me all needed info and it’s just in the body of the email I’ll take it like that, but if they’re missing something I reply with the form and ask them to please fill it out for me. It’s saved me a lot of work with managers who forget I don’t know all their projects’ details off the top of my head like they do.

    4. Not That Jane*

      You could also have several email templates saved in your draft folder, which you can use for notetaking when someone comes by to make a verbal request. Ex: “Car rental details,” with the body of the email listing the details you need, so as they talk, you can take notes there and send it to them once the conversation is over.

      I’m not sure if this makes sense, but it’s brilliant in my head :)

  10. Jess*

    OP#1: Absolutely fine to ask people to email you! I’m an admin and I do this a lot – maybe not so much when I’m at my desk (taking notes or creating a to-do task then and there seems to work for me) but if I’m somewhere else in the office or engaged with someone else at my desk? A casual “Sure, can you just flick me an email with the details and I can get it done this afternoon/tomorrow/whenever” has never been an issue :-)

    1. Michelle*

      Same. People see me walking to lunch or another meeting and say “put me down for XX” and I finally had to tell them to send it to me because by the time I’m back at my desk, I will have forgotten and another 5 people will also have asked me to put them down for something or schedule something.

  11. MommyMD*

    Your boss is not happy with your dress and that’s her prerogative whether you are wearing leggings or not. Boss appears not to like the tight fit. Maybe try some dark colored trousers that are loose or flaired down the leg. I wouldn’t make this a thing because you can’t win.

    1. misspiggy*

      It’s not the boss’s prerogative if she’s disciplining OP for looking different in business clothes due to a medical condition.

      1. Yorick*

        I’m very sympathetic to OP, but you have to follow the dress code regardless of your weight or weight changes.

        1. Kelly L.*

          But if a style of pants was OK for thinner-OP, then it’s still OK. You can’t have different dress codes for different dress sizes. I mean, legally you probably can, but it’s mean.

          1. Yorick*

            Well, pants that fit can be appropriate and pants that are too small can be inappropriate. It’s not like they’re saying this type of pant in size 8 is ok but it’s not ok in size 10.

            1. Kelly L.*

              True, but then what can you wear if you’re going to be multiple sizes within the same day?

            2. Risha*

              It probably not the situation this specific time, but for all of these dress code conversations it’s worth keeping in mind that it is, in fact, incredibly common for someone to be told that a garment is fine at size 6 but inappropriate at size 12, even when both fit equally well. It’s more likely to happen with shirts than pants, but the latter does happen.

              1. Woman*

                Strongly agree. It’s like how normal modest shift dresses are ok on ‘thinner’/less curvy individuals, but when curvier individuals like teacherbae wear them, then they become ‘inappropriate.’ If the only reason a properly fitting article of clothing that does not reveal excess skin is inappropriate is due to the body type of the person wearing it, then really those people are saying that the body type is inappropriate– and bodypolicing like that is not ok.

        2. KellyK*

          If your weight fluctuates *during the day* though, that may not be possible. Something that looks perfectly professional when you put it on may become inappropriately tight later in the day. But at the same time, wearing something super loose just in case you bloat is going to look unprofessionally baggy until you actually do.

      2. Eye of Sauron*

        Is there any indication that the boss knows this is due to medication? Seems to me that might be the first step. However, the pants described do sound like yoga pants, which I don’t think is normal business casual (or business dressy).

    2. Mike C.*

      The boss is also being competely unreasonable. It would be cool to acknowledge that.

          1. Colette*

            Well, it is possible that non-leggings are still inappropriate – it’s best to deal with the substance of the complaint (the boss finds that particular pair of pants does not project the image she wants from her team) and not argue that they’re not leggings. While true, that doesn’t mean they’re appropriate. Maybe they are and no one else would object, but that seems like a fight the OP can’t win when her boss disagrees.

          2. Yorick*

            OP says in the comments that she was wearing yoga pants that are believed to stand in for real pants, so they may actually be inappropriate for the work place.

            1. Bleau Bell*

              Where do you see OP saying she was wearing yoga pants? I searched the comments and couldn’t find anything.

              1. Hellanon*

                She says in another thread that she was wearing the Betabrand pants, which are advertised as yoga pants “no one” will know are yoga pants. Yoga pants = leggings, just shaped a little differently.

                1. teclatrans*

                  But the stretchy fit is a problem around butt and thighs, especially if they bloat, because then they look like yoga pants.

                  When I was moving back into the work world a couple of years ago, I was excited to learn of this new comfy dress pant, but quickly discovered that they really don’t disguise their nature as well as they claim. I almost bought a pair of tweed-looking pants at Talbots that looked lovely until I crouched, sat, etc. — at which point tge fabric molded to my curves in a way that screamed ‘yoga!’. Maybe it’s not a problem if you are super skinny?

                  I think maybe OP’s boss was a bit vague re: leggings vs. yoga pants, but the answer sounds pretty simple: buy actual dress pants, or go with
                  skirt/dress options. And don’t believe the hype about dress-yoga pants.

                2. teclatrans*

                  Oh, and the solid-color pants I saw all had a shiny lucre sheen to them, which also screamed ‘not actually a dress pant.’

              2. zapateria la bailarina*

                she is writing under the name “Leggings Queen ;-)” and “LQ ;-)” and actually does admit to wearing “dress yoga pants” so it seems that she is in fact wearing leggings to work.

                1. Yorick*

                  She’s joking about being a leggings queen, but she actually reveals that she’s wearing dress yoga pants, which some people are not going to think look professional enough for the office

              1. Yorick*

                The boss can tell they’re yoga pants (but described them as leggings, which is pretty much the same imo). Other commenters have said that they don’t look like real pants in real life.

                1. fposte*

                  Even when I’m looking online the pictures are a mixed success. Some of them I’d never know; some look like slightly thicker leggings.

                2. Veronica UK*

                  I’m with fposte on this one – some of them look pretty convincing, others look like early 2000s yoga pants (before leggings got skin tight all the way down, a flare/wider leg was pretty common). I’d class most of them as leggings, unfortunately. Fancy leggings, but leggings nonetheless.

                  Having said that, given the medical issue she’s dealing with, I completely understand why she’d temporarily need trousers with a bit of give, and these look like a good option to do that with. I think it’s worth explaining this to her manager to see if they can come to an agreement, if LQ feels comfortable.

        1. Mike C.*

          There are plenty of professional workplaces that allow them as part an overall outfit.

          1. finderskeepers*

            You’re responding to a straw man. I asked why it would be unreasonable for a professional workplace to ban leggins. But you responded only that its reasonable for a professional workplace to allow leggings.

            1. Mike C.*

              You framed your question as though a workplace is professional in part because leggings are banned. My response was to point out that there are artificial limitations to your framing.

              1. finderskeepers*

                No … I framed my question exactly as I stated it. That a professional workplace is not unreasonable to ban leggings.

              2. LBK*

                I think you’re using “professional” as a quality derived from the behavior/appearance/etc of the office and finderskeepers is using it as a synonym for white collar.

    3. finderskeepers*

      A dress code is not about what the clothing manufacturer decides to call an article of clothing. It is about what it appears to look like from handshake distance.

          1. teclatrans*

            Stretchy knit pants look like stretchy knit pants when they hug your curves. It’s a bummer that a totally fine wardrobe solution stops working when the fit changes. In essence, her weight gain is “outing” these as yoga pants. And it seems like the most likely reason for the boss to refer to them as leggings is because it hugged her butt like leggings do. I don’t think she has to stop wearing them, but it sounds like she needs to wear them like she would leggings — with a dress or super-long tunic on top.

    1. MK*

      Asking people to do this, yes, but if the OP is going to “require” it as a policy, she needs to clear it with her boss first. I don’t know whether she is the manager’s admin assistant, who also operates as support staff for the rest of the office, or if her role is admin assistant to a whole team. In the latter case, the “you may need you to take requests in whatever format is most efficient for them” might apply to the whole office; her boss may feel that it’s part of her job to remember/immediately make a note of these things. So, OP, make sure you have your manager’s backing in this.

      1. (Different) Rebecca, PhD*

        I mean, “require” can mean anything from a policy to the OP being like “here’s a pad of sticky notes, write it down for me so I get the details exact and don’t send you to Peru the country, when you wanted to go Peru, Indiana.”

        1. MK*

          Sure, that was sort of my point. If the OP wants this to be a system/policy/the set way to request admin assistance, she needs backing from her boss. Or, she could just try asking more casually, but the results will probably be mixed.

  12. I hate ties*

    I’m surprised by the consensus that managers get to disregard company dress codes. A relaxed code is a positive for most employees – why should a manager be allowed undermine company morale on a whim?

    1. MK*

      I think it depends on how against the code the manager wants to get. If the code is “just don’t come in your pajamas” and the manager demands bussiness formal, it wouldn’t fly, same as a very lax manager would probably get into hot water for allowing very casual clothing in a very formal company. But business casual is in itself a bit of an in-between area, and the company might not care if a manager prefers her employees to dress sightly more formally.

      1. Pollygrammer*

        For most of the men I know, the difference between tie and not-tie is pretty huge :)

        1. Legalchef*

          Same for women – the difference between suit and not suit is big as well! I hate suits and only wear them when I absolutely have to. If I took a job that was purportedly business cas (which would allow me to continue wearing the work wardrobe I have of nice but comfortable dresses, pants, skirts, sweaters, etc) I would be deeply unhappy. First bc I would have to go out and buy a lot of new clothes, and second because I would be uncomfortable every day.

          1. Minerva McGonagall*

            And the dry cleaning bills! Women’s suits cost more to dry clean, even if they have no frills or ruffles or what not. Infuriates me.

          2. Miss Betty*

            Suits are also generally more expensive than business casual wear. This manager is requiring her staff to spend more on their business wardrobes than everyone else at the company. It might be her prerogative, but it doesn’t reflect well on her and makes her seem thoughtless in comparison to other department managers who accept the established dress code and don’t require their staff to spend more money on their work wardrobe.

          3. MK*

            If the skirt/pants/dress part of the suit isn’t comfortable, I look for another suit; unfortunately a truly comfortable jacket seems near impossible to find. Luckily I don’t have to wear it all day long.

        2. MK*

          Sure, but the company might not think it’s enough of a big deal and allow the manager her own way in this. Especially if the average interpretation of business casual in their workplace is not “slacks and sweater”, but “dress pants, shirt, blazer, you don’t have to wear a tie but probably should have one around in case there is an important meeting”.

    2. Mike C.*

      I don’t agree with it either. Some rando first line manager shouldn’t be making policy counter to the larger company line. That’s one reason work from home policies have such a hard time taking effect – individual managers undermine them.

      1. MK*

        I don’t know, this could go both ways. A first line manager might have a better understanding of what would work with their team and clients than some clueless executive who wants to introduce a hip new idea.

        1. Mike C.*

          Then that manager needs to go through the proper channels and deal with it appropriately. We get letters all the time about managers that won’t let people take time off, won’t let them work from home or numerous other things contrary to the larger company policy for completely arbitrary and worse reasons.

          1. LQ*

            What if the “rando” manager was letting people flex time when company policy said it wasn’t allowed? Or working from home when that was generally unreasonably prohibited by the larger policy?

            1. Mike C.*

              Again, managers have power the us normal peons don’t have and they should be using that to influence their superiors in greater policy design rather than just changing things up for arbitrary reasons.

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Line managers, probably not. Directors, absolutely their prerogative. If it’s truly clashing with company-wide cultural ideals that the company feels strongly about, they’ll talk to the director about it. But in many cases, it’s seen as their prerogative.

    3. finderskeepers*

      Its quite common for individual managers to refuse to approve business class travel even though company policy explicitly allows for it.

        1. anon scientist*

          I agree. I’ve worked in places where each manager was pretty much making up their own rules for all sorts of stuff. This does not make for a happy staff.

          1. Betsy*

            It really doesn’t. We seem to be the only department where if you were scheduled to work and there’s a public holiday, you need to make up the hours on another day. It just creates unnecessary trust issues between staff and supervisors if you ask me.

      1. Veronica UK*

        I imagine that may well be due to travel budgets reaching their limits. Not that that makes it more pleasant for those on the receiving end, but the manager in that instance is having to either disappoint the finance department, or her staff, and it’s not as clear cut as the manager being punitive for the sake of it, necessarily.

    4. MCMonkeyBean*

      If the company is really large with completely different departments, it makes sense for the company to provide a baseline and then have individual departments modify as necessary based on what they do. Maybe the company at large is fine with open-toed sandals but there is a research and development team which requires closed-toed shoes all the time. Or most of the company is internal only so they can do jeans on Fridays, but one department is mostly client-facing so they have to dress nicely every day. In a big company, it wouldn’t really be possible to come up with a dress code that makes sense for everyone.

      1. Mike C.*

        But you just did.

        Having an overall policy doesn’t prevent specialized rules from being made to deal with specific safety hazards or specialized business expectations. What I’m objecting to is the idea that it’s perfectly fine for some lowly manager can just throw the rules up in the air for arbitrary reasons.

        1. Colette*

          The thing is that if the manager wants the team to dress more formally than the norm, it’s a good idea to comply even if the manager is out of line. You can argue that the manager shouldn’t have that power, and (assuming you’re the employee in the situation), you can decide you don’t want to imply, but your manager evaluates your performance and can easily view what you’ve done through the lens of your disobedience. It can hurt you, even if the way you dress is never mentioned on your evaluation.

          1. Mike C.*

            I haven’t said anything about whether or not people should comply with their direct management.

          1. LQ ;-)*

            For context – the company in question is tech-based company of about 70 people. The manager in question is an AVP, I am a senior director. The hierarchy is: c-level, VP, AVP, senior director, director, manager, specialist.

    5. LBK*

      That’s not really how dress codes tend to work, though – they define a minimum acceptable standard, and anything more formal than that is usually still considered within the dress code. If your office allows jeans, you’re not violating the dress code by showing up in a suit, so I don’t think it’s really “disregarding” the dress code to require your team to dress more formally than the broader company code. It’s certainly annoying if there’s no good justification for it (eg you’re not client-facing) but I don’t think it’s a question of being “allowed” to do it, because she’s not forcing/letting her employees violate the dress code.

      I don’t think anyone is giving the boss a pass and saying the OP has to be happy about it, just saying it’s within her authority to decide to do that.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        It’s disregarding the dress code if the dress code says “jeans are okay” and the manager says “no they’re not.” The fact that dressing up doesn’t violate the dress code doesn’t mean refusing to let employees follow the official dress code is “following the dress code.”

        1. LBK*

          refusing to let employees follow the official dress code

          But they are “following the official dress code” by wearing dressier clothes than the minimum standard that the dress code establishes, because that’s what “following the dress code” means. If the dress code allows jeans and button downs and the manager says she specifically wants her employees to wear dark jeans and blue button down shirts every day, is she disregarding the dress code?

          I agree it’s stupid and a really easy way to drive employees away but I don’t think she’s violating the rules by doing it, so to argue from that approach doesn’t make sense to me. I’d argue it strictly from the morale perspective.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            No, they’re not following the dress code.

            Obviously the employees themselves are following the dress code by dressing above the minimum. But the manager is not following the dress code by significantly narrowing it. The company set a minimum, presumably for a reason. A manager who resets that minimum is, yes, disregarding the company’s dress code. If the dress code says “any jeans are okay” and the manager says “only dark jeans are okay,” that’s NOT the same dress code that the company put forth.

            What if it were the other way around? What if the company’s official dress code said business casual is fine, and one manager said (not for practical reasons, but due to personal preference) that ONLY business casual is appropriate, and anyone wearing a suit will be sent home? Would you still think that manager was adhering to the dress code?

            1. LBK*

              But that just isn’t how dress codes work. Managers always have latitude to have stricter rules than the broader company policies if they think it’s necessary for the specific needs of their team, but generally not more lax rules. If the company allows people to telework but one particular manager wants their team to always work in the office, they aren’t violating the company’s rules. If the company allows people to work flex hours between 7am and 7pm but one particular manager wants their team to always work 8:30-5, they aren’t violating the company rules.

              All I’m saying is that if you go to your grandboss and said “Jane is breaking the rules, she’s making us wear suits every day,” you shouldn’t be surprised if they look at you like you’re nuts. That’s just not how that kind of rule works and it would be a bizarre way to frame it.

              1. Rusty Shackelford*

                But that just isn’t how dress codes work. Managers always have latitude to have stricter rules than the broader company policies if they think it’s necessary for the specific needs of their team

                That’s why I said I was talking about different rules that were based on a personal preference, not business reasons. I’m not talking about “my people have a lot of client contact so I want them in suits.” I’m talking about “I know the company allows jeans, but I don’t like them, so I don’t let my staff wear them.”

                All I’m saying is that if you go to your grandboss and said “Jane is breaking the rules, she’s making us wear suits every day,” you shouldn’t be surprised if they look at you like you’re nuts.

                LOL! I would/did never suggest that.

                1. LBK*

                  Then I don’t understand the insistence on framing this as the manager violating the rules. It serves no purpose beyond some kind of thought experiment.

  13. only acting normal*

    I used to be in admin and all requests had to come in writing (actually on paper, but it was a long time ago!). Same for the admin support where I work now – we fill in an online form for most tasks.
    If you’re supporting that many people expecting you to keep up with all their requests verbally is unreasonable – ADHD or no. Especially for standard tasks like hire car booking that don’t need extra explanation an email is better. Verbal works best for the unusal tasks, which might need a back and fore chat to sort out the requirement.

    1. theletter*


      Also, I think from reading the letter that it’s clear to me that this rental car snafu was not the fault of the OP.

      1. only acting normal*

        I agree it sounds like they were a scapegoat on the hire car thing.
        I reused it because it was the problem in the letter and is such a good candidate for email request.

  14. Someone*

    I had a similar situation where I worked as an admin and wanted to get all meetings requests in writing- otherwise, people would tell me to schedule a meeting without giving me details like who needed to be there, when it needed to happen, where it needed to happen (we had multiple office locations), or what the meeting was about- so I would end up sending endless emails to get all of these details down, or have to reschedule the meeting several times. I think if you frame your request as a way to save THEM time, they will be receptive to it- hey, I notice that when you ask me to do something in passing, I sometimes need to reach back out to confirm details or mistakes get made. Would you mind just sending me a brief email about this with x, y, and z so I don’t need to waste your time later following up? Thanks!

    1. Thursday Next*

      This is a really good framing—making it about saving *them* time.

      I also like Alison’s advice to send them an email with the details, especially for those too high up for the OP to impose requirements.

    2. Cajun2core*

      Agreed, if you can frame it as making it easier on them, that would be the best way to do it.

    3. Sarianna*

      This framing is excellent. So much of getting people to do things your way (or buy your product/service, hire you, or whatever) is by pointing out the benefits to them. It is basically Intro to Marketing applied to yourself!

    4. Star Nursery*

      It’s helpful to get request a in written communication, for sure. I think sometimes people ask verbally because they think of the need when they see you or they have a personality that wants connection and emails feel more impersonal.

      When you get verbal requests, you have to think through a quick mental checklist and ask for the missing de-the-spot or you will still have to reach out to follow-up. Thinking what the missing details are at the moment of the verbal ask–when you are clear headed you can ask fit the missing pieces and make notes on paper as they talk to you. This only works if you are near your scratch pad or have a notepad (or put notes on your phone to email yourself) with you. But if you already are frazzled or don’t have mental bandwidth at that exact moment when they try to give a verbal request…. (Like sometimes internally my body is saying “I’m hungry and this means I’m really losing concentration until I eat” or “I need to pEE.”)

  15. Shaima*

    OP2: You’re not alone! I gained about 70lbs and daily headaches over the course of a year all due to some medication, and I’m still dealing with the fact that when I look in the mirror I just don’t see myself. It’s a really tough thing to deal with, and I’m more self-conscious than I was during puberty! Not a fun time. Even though I know I still look fine and completely average, I don’t feel like me, and that’s a blow to anyone’s confidence.

    I actually told my boss what was going on – not the underlying condition, but the side effects and my efforts to mitigate them, so that my myriad of appointments + constant headaches + “letting myself go” aren’t seen as a lack of effort in my field. I also invested in a wardrobe of dresses and skirts that help me feel more confident.

    I hope this isn’t happening for you too, but for me, the medication messed up my metabolism for a good long time. I’ll be this new size for awhile, no matter what I do. (Trust me on this one – no medical advice from the well-meaning crowd please) I got some professional photos taken with my close friends that really helped me see myself better and more objectively.

  16. Wannabe Disney Princess*

    LW 1 – yes! Ask for an email. When I started aty current job, people were in the habit of just mentioning things with my predecessor (as well as the other support staff). And we’re not talking small things – long strings of numbers and/or letters that I would have to write down and then enter perfectly into our system. I HATED it because there was no paper trail. So, I started pushing back and pointing out that sending me an email protected them as much as it did me. Now, everybody requests or follows up their request via email.

    1. Talk Email to Me*

      Yes! That’s the whole root of it: they’re just doing what they did with my predecessor.

  17. Sugar of lead*

    I’m going to have the unpopular opinion here: at the very least, tell Fergus what the least demanding job your company has an opening for is and give him instructions on how to apply, plus some insider tips about culture and management to help him keep the job once he has it.

    I used to be in a similar position–disabled, can’t keep a job, don’t know why I kept getting canned. I’m guessing that one reason for Fergus’s spotty job history is that his disability, like mine, makes him come across as “a little off,” and managers eventually get sick of it. Working while disabled, especially returning to the workforce, is incredibly hard.

    You don’t have to recommend him if you think it will do a ton of damage if he doesn’t work out, but use some of the advantages you were given to help someone else. Give Fergus a chance.

    1. KitKat*

      I think it’s a great point that, since we don’t have a lot of details in this letter, it’s quite possible that Fergus is doing his best to keep his employment. I initially read “it never seems to be his fault” as Fergus inappropriately passing blame, but maybe it’s more neutral than that and Fergus genuinely doesn’t understand why he keeps getting fired.

      However, I don’t think the OP has an obligation to risk his reputation for good judgment at his job to try to help Fergus. First, it’s unclear if any amount of coaching from OP would enable Fergus to keep this job, and second, I think Fergus has the obligation to ask for that kind of help if he wants/needs it. OP is his relative, not his caseworker.

      1. Mulher na selva*

        Agreed. It seems from the letter that OP does not want to be involved in aiding Fergus’s job hunt with respect to OP’s own company. Since OP actually knows Fergus, I come down on the side of not trying to talk them out of their feelings about this.

    2. Temperance*

      If this is the case, Fergus needs professional job searching assistance, not his BIL or SIL to put their own reputation on the line.

      1. Flinty*

        Yes! OP, if you want to do something (but only if you want to) you could see if there are any programs in your area that help individuals with disabilities find and stay in jobs.

    3. OP3*

      That’s kind of my dilemma. I want Fergus to be successful at getting a job and keeping it. But I don’t want to sacrifice my own credibility to get him a job here when I really don’t think he’ll work out in my company.

      My impression of the “It’s not my fault I keep losing jobs” is that he can’t/won’t take responsibility for his own actions. That would be consistent with the other things happening in his life. But to be honest, I don’t know enough about the situation to be sure. I only hear about his side of things. So he might be saying “They just stopped scheduling me,” when he actually just stopped showing up, or they might have actually just stopped scheduling him.

      I am giving him tips on what education to pursue to get where he ultimately wants to be (it’s my field).

      1. CM*

        You also don’t want to set him up for failure. If you honestly think the job would be a bad fit, then recommending him is doing a disservice to you, the company and Fergus because it will make his job history even more spotty.

  18. Trout 'Waver*

    In regards to #1, I’m not an admin, but I do get and give a lot of requests. My favorite script for verbal requests is, “Can you send me the details in an e-mail so I can flag it in Outlook?” I’ve never gotten a “no” to that one.

    Also, English is not the first language for many of my colleagues. They usually prefer to e-mail details so they can be sure they’re clearly understood.

    1. Ambpersand*

      This is how it goes in my office too. We all use Outlook and the flag/to-do system is a lifesaver when you’ve got those types of tasks. Even mangers/directors will respond to a request with “Sure, I’d be happy to help- but send me an email with the details as well.” I’m up front with everyone I support that I prioritize my work with my flag system/to-do list, and people are really understanding about the email requests. It can also save your reputation because it helps to clarify who the mistake was on- if it was me or the requester.

  19. Argh!*

    OP 2: Leggings are a relatively recent fashion trend. For anyone over a certain age, they are not pants. They are underpants. If you have to deal with a diversity of ages, dressing with what the majority considers basic modesty is not an outrageous request.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      The letter doesn’t say “I want to wear leggings but my boss is not hep to the jive.”

    2. Mike C.*

      Why should we be held to account based on the stagnant morality of “those over a certain age”?

      1. Mike C.*

        And I write that knowing that there are plenty of folks “over a certain age” who aren’t stagnant in their attitudes towards women.

      2. D'Arcy*

        The only reason I can think of is, “Because old people tend to have pretty extreme entitlement issues and become disproportionately upset when young people make personal choices.”

    3. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Hi, the 80s would like to place an objection to your statement. The leggings of today are just an updated version of the very popular stretch/stirrup pants of the 80s. Fashion trends cycle. Bell bottom jeans were all the rage in the 70s. In the 90s/early 00s they were called “wide legged” or “boot cut” but they were basically the same thing.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        I’m even seeing stirrup pants again! Part of me is aghast, but part of me says “those would really stay tucked into boots…”

      2. fposte*

        Though nobody in the offices I knew in the 1980s was allowed to wear stirrup pants to work, either; even for a casual work look you had to wear the long tunic-length sweater.

        1. Ambpersand*

          Some of the people in my office wear leggings (myself included), but the general rule is that they get paired with tunics or long sweaters. Basically, the butt has to be covered. You never see them with regular/short length shirts or jackets. Even then I’ve stocked up on higher end leggings that feature zippers and pockets so they don’t look so yoga-ish. We’re technically “business casual” but you see everything from jeans with sports themed half-zip sweatshirts to classy business wear, even with managers/directors.

          1. fposte*

            Yes, that’s our office convention as well (though it still would have been too casual for my insurance company in the 1980s).

            I’m also wondering if the boss in question meant “knit pants” when she said “leggings”; yoga pants, even what I’m seeing in many of the Betabrand images, are too casual for a lot of offices.

            1. Doodle*

              Yes! This is what I was trying to describe above. It’s a fabric thing. I’m thinking maybe it reads “leggings” to your boss because she would also call yoga pants and other knit stretchy pants “leggings”?

              She was wearing betabrand, so I think you’re onto something here. It’s a real bummer because those pants are absurdly comfortable. I agree they’re at least a step above leggings, but maybe also still a step below what the OP’s boss wants to see for work wear?

              1. fposte*

                Yes, in some offices, they wouldn’t even make the “business casual” cut without tunic-length stuff over them, so it may not even be that her boss is more formal than the rest of the workplace here.

              2. kitryan*

                I like the ‘Pixie’ pants from Old Navy (but not in the short length and not the ‘chino’ style). They are a slim fitted pant and the material is a woven, but there’s a lot of stretch-enough for some daily fluctuations I would think. I’m fat and I wear them in the plus size range, with butt covering open front sweaters/cardigans. The material is opaque and to my eye they don’t look like a legging or yoga pant. They also don’t quite look as formal as a suit pant or dress trouser, so they may not meet the formality level the OP needs but I do not feel they look like leggings. They’re pretty affordable too and machine washable-I wash on delicate and hang dry mine. One note- as most of the patterned styles are printed on the fabric as opposed to woven into the fabric, the print will slowly wear off if there’s thigh rub or some similar wear.
                Regular size range
                Plus size range

          2. Veronica UK*

            Yup, I think you can wear leggings to stand in for thick tights, i.e. with a dress/tunic, but they’re not trousers and your bum needs to be covered.

        2. Detective Amy Santiago*

          My recollection of the 80s is a bit fuzzy, but I seem to remember a lot of long shirts and big hair.

          I am grateful that the big shoulder pad looks have not made a come back though.

        3. Heather*

          Oh god, I just had a flashback to the outfit I thought was soooo cool for the first day of high school in 1991. *shudders*

      3. TootsNYC*

        I liked stirrup pants! I had a pair that I *did* wear to work sometimes (again, w/ a long tunic).

      4. Alienor*

        Right? I was thrilled when leggings came back into style because I remember how comfortable they were when I was a teenager in the 80s. If anything, I think they’re more modest now than they were then; I have several pairs of extra-thick leggings from H&M that are completely opaque, whereas my 80s ones were…not always. (Weirdly, I think school dress codes are stricter now than they were then; I’m forever seeing news stories about girls sent home for wearing leggings, and back then I wore them daily and no one said a word.) And, I do occasionally wear a pair of those extra-thick leggings to work with a long sweater on a PMS-y day.

    4. SarahTheEntwife*

      Did you read the second letter? The LW is not wearing leggings; her boss just thinks she is because of the fit of her pants due to recent weight fluctuations.

      1. bonkerballs*

        Did you read OP’s comments where she says she’s wearing Betabrand yoga dress pants that basically ARE leggings?

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          *googles Betabrand pants*

          Nope. Those are not leggings, which are heavy tights. It would be very weird to describe them as underwear.

          1. bonkerballs*

            First off, you’re not going to get a consensus on whether leggings are just heavy tights. To me and to many others, they’re two completely different things. As a ballerina, tights you wear under a leotard. Leggings go over them both. Leggings are the same thing as stretch pants and stirrup pants we all used to wear in the 80s.

            And second, yoga pants are often classified as basically the same thing as leggings – same materials, same snug fit – they’re just flared at the bottom. Betabrand may be trying to masquarade as something fancy and good to wear to work, but the more fake pockets and buttons you sew on the front doesn’t change the stretchy material.

    5. Work Wardrobe*

      Did you even read the letter?

      Also, here’s another recent trend: ageism is uncool.

    6. Doodle*

      Ha. I still think leggings are mostly not pants (though yoga pants are fine, and I’m not judging others, I swear, I just still feel like I’m in my underwear if I go out in leggings and a “regular” length top), but my 65 year old mother and most of her friends would beg to differ! They wear them all the time.

    7. zapateria la bailarina*

      your tone is really condescending for someone who appears to have not even read the letter they’re responding to.

      1. zapateria la bailarina*

        i want to apologize for my own tone here. i have since seen in the comments that LW#3 was in fact wearing leggings (“dress yoga pants” from betabrand)

        1. D'Arcy*

          Those are not leggings by any *reasonable* definition, so you have nothing to apologize for.

  20. Temperance*

    LW3: instead of recommending Fergus for the job, have your spouse or sibling connect him with Vocational Rehab. He needs more help than you can give,and if his issues are behavioral, it can come back to you and hurt your rep.

  21. Anya*

    Op #2- I am so sorry you are going through this. I am in the same boat. I had a medication switch last year and gained 30 lbs. Not only has it been thoroughly demoralizing, I have had to spend a lot of money on new clothes. I just don’t feel like myself. I’m sure people have noticed. I am honestly a little surprised that if your manager pays this much attention to your clothing that they did not see that you were gradually gaining weight rather than making a sudden wardrobe transformation. I wish you all the best!

    1. Shaima*

      Solidarity – it sucks. And having to spend money on new clothes is almost the worst part – because I don’t want the new clothes, I just want to fit it my old ones that I love!

      1. only acting normal*

        It’s been 7 years now, and luckily after initial creeping gains my weight stabilised, at 2-3 sizes bigger than I was before medication. I’ve got rid of most of my much-loved too-small clothes, but I’ve got a lovely tailored linen shirt dress that I used to look and feel *awesome* in . I just can’t bring myself to part with it even though I can’t even do it up any more. :'(

    2. Seal*

      Same here. While I try to be philosophical about the weight gain being a trade-off for getting a serious medical condition under control, the whole thing sucks. Gaining 35 pounds in a matter of months is very demoralizing, to say the least. One of my coworkers was pregnant while this was going on and I actually gained more weight than she did and I don’t even have a baby to show for it.

      On the flip side, I was also interviewing for jobs while at my absolute heaviest weight and much to my surprise I got the job. Since nothing I had fit I had to go shopping anyway, so I found an outfit that looked good and I felt good in and just went for it. My new job doesn’t start for a few months so hopefully I can lose a few pounds by then. But if not, I’ll keep reminding myself that I’m getting healthy and that my current weight didn’t keep them from hiring me.

      1. Anya*

        I am happy to hear your medication has helped to get your condition under control. Mine is still not a 100% success on this medicine, but it’s been better than the other options before it. And the next things to try have a lot more side effects.

        Congrats on the new job!

    3. Julia the Survivor*

      It’s not just health issues that cause this. I’ve had three big weight changes, 2 of them from stress. The other was when I realized a common food was making me sick and stopped eating it.
      I was able to get by with some alterations, but I had to give up several beautiful dresses I loved.

  22. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

    Ugh, I know #2! I’m having the opposite problem. Been losing weight and now I can either wear my old pants which are basically falling down, or some pants from when I was in grad school, which don’t fall because they’re tight in the waist and thighs.

    Then later there was an email to all about not wearing yoga pants! I swear they aren’t, just tight slacks. Surely that’s better than basically, sails, because of the flared legs and space in the waist?

    1. Goya de la Mancha*

      I found your weight if you want it back, I’d be happy to hand it over at ANY time ;)

      1. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

        I am positive my wife and I must be releasing weight into the ether! Because we are both trying and neither of us is gaining because the other is losing. Who knows, maybe you did find it?

  23. DCompliance*

    #2- Sometimes the shoe you are wearing makes thinks look like leggings. I don’t if that is your situation, but there are some people in my office who wear boots or ankle boots with their dress pants and it gives the appearance of leggings. Again, may not ne the situation at hand, but just throwing it out there.

  24. Goya de la Mancha*

    #1. I’ve gone as far as to create a form for requests like this. People can email me following the form or write the form and return it to me, I then blame it on needing information for accounting when it comes to audit time if they complain ;) Since I made the forms, I’d say most requests are emailed, but they all follow the form and have all the information I need right away. Before, there was lots of back and forth about details since they would just send an email for “I need a car for this date at this time”, when in order to fill that request I needed information such as estimated return, size of vehicle (large group or one person), where they were planning on going, etc.

  25. Beautiful, talented, brilliant, powerful musk ox*

    OP1: I once worked for a company where I was both an EA for up to 7 executives (depending on who needed what) AND facilities manager. I requested written requests ALL the time from people who would pop by my cubicle. It worked especially well with peers. I agree with Alison that phrasing it as confirmation can help too. This helped me not just remember a task, but it insured I had all the details correct as well. (And, not to sound cynical, but I liked having a timestamped, written record of requests because I had an executive try to throw me under the bus for something that HE dropped the ball on. I’d done what was asked of me and had the emails to prove it when my boss asked me about it.)

    1. Talk Email to Me*

      OP1 here — I totally get the cynicism. We did require everything in writing at oldjob and it’s the only thing that kept any of us sane (but that’s because it was a huge real estate company and half the agents would throw the admins under the bus in a heartbeat to save face).

  26. Cajun2core*

    OP#1 – What I did was I created a form for the most common things I do, copying, scanning, making reservations, etc. Could you possibly do this and ask your co-workers to fill in the form? That way you have *all* of the information you need and if it is in their handwriting, they really don’t have a reason to argue if you did something that was on the form but not what they wanted.

    When they come to your desk and ask you to do something, you can hand them the form and walk them through filling it out. You can also put the entire blame on yourself saying that if you don’t have all of that info, you might get something wrong. Assure them that you are doing this to make sure that you will get it right the first time and make things as easy on them as possible.

    Be sure and keep the forms at least until the trip/project/whatever is over.

    I firmly believe in using forms as it will eliminate the need for going back and asking questions.

    Good luck with it!

    1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      I would be frustrated by being asked to fill out a form for every little thing. That adds substantial work time to the people you are supporting, when the same thing could be communicated in an email: “I need a rental car March 2 – March 14. My flight info is attached. No preference on the type of car. Thank you!”

      1. Cajun2core*

        Victoria – I understand what you are saying. The form is mostly for people who drop by my desk and ask me to make reservations or copies or something.

        However, even in emails, you might be surprised how often people forget to attached the flight and specify the type of car.

        For copies, I will often get, “I need 30 copies of the attached.” Then I have to reply, “Do you want them in color or black/white, single sided or double sided, stapled or not?”

        While I would never insist on a form if someone emailed me the info, it does work much better for people who drop by and it is very helpful even for those who email.

  27. ABK*

    OP #1: I used to have this same issue at work, where I’d understand a task, write it in my notebook, do it, and my boss would come back saying it wasn’t right. What I ended up doing is making my notebook look like a log, and write down the date & instructions, and quickly have my boss take a look at it on the spot and give the ok. Then, if she came back upset later I’d show her my notebook entry. We got into this habit so she understood that my notebook was a good record. You could try this to cut down on email volume.

  28. OP#4*

    Thank you Allison for answering my question. I really like your language. My only concern is about attaching the resume. I know there are a lot of librarians on this site, so I’d love to hear from them about what they would think if someone did that.

    It’s a Academic Librarian job and so there’s a hiring committee (of which this person is the head), so I’m not sure if sending my resume would be pushy. Am I over thinking this?

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      I’d send your resume through the appropriate channels, and not attach it to your note to your former colleague.

    2. PB*

      Academic librarian here! Attaching your resume wouldn’t be odd or pushy at all. I have done this myself, usually in the context of, “Here’s what I’ve been up to in the last few years.” Your contact probably knows where you’ve been working in the last few years, but they may not have as much knowledge of any other activities, such as continuing education, conference attendance, and so forth. Alternatively, you could also say, “If you’d like to see my updated resume, let me know.”

      Good luck!

      1. PB*

        ETA: to echo Rusty, also apply through the usual channels. Emailing your resume to your contact wouldn’t be in lieu of applying normally.

      2. Another librarian*

        Do you have a website or a place at your current library where you upload your CV? You could send a link to that instead of the actual resume/CV, if you’re uncomfortable about that. Or you could send a link to LinkedIn, but ugh.

    3. Kate*

      Attaching your resume will read as helpful, not pushy. Otherwise, your contact is either going to have to go into their applicant tracking system to pull your resume, or ask you for it.

      If you want additional language, I’d say, “I’ve attached my resume so you can see what I’ve been up to since we last worked together.” And, of course, be sure to say you applied through the official process.

      1. Kate*

        Ps. I know you’re anxious about this, and totally understand why. But I want to reiterate that what you’re proposing is an extremely normal thing to do. It may feel nerve-wracking to hit send, but it is very, very unlikely that your contact will interpret this negatively.

        1. OP#4*

          Intellectually, I know that. It’s been tough to find the right words to say. It’s a hard email to write, though it seems so simple at first.

        2. TootsNYC*

          ditto–it’s very, very normal.

          In fact, I will say that, if I were the person, I would regard it as very helpful and pleasant. I would be happy to see the name of someone I used to know; it would make me feel good to think that I might be able to be helpful to someone I know; and it would make it easier for me to evaluate you.

          I promise you, Rusty Shackleford aside–it’s not only “not pushy”; it’s a positive thing.

            1. TootsNYC*

              you wrote “and not attach it [the resume] to your note to your former colleague.”

              Alison said to do both, and you countered with NOT attaching to the note.

              I agree with Alison–do both.

    4. else*

      Hah, I just came on here to write to you about this very thing. I’m also an academic librarian, and in our field it’s completely normal to contact friendly acquaintance-colleagues this way for jobs or other projects, even when years have passed. We are a small profession, after all. In fact, I would betya that there are academic librarians who regularly comment on this column who at least know of each other off-line without ever realizing they’re both here. Also, yes, do attach your CV, while making sure to tell him that you did apply through the normal system and that all of your materials are there as well. Kate and PB’s wording is good. And just as reassurance – as you most certainly know, social anxiety is not uncommon for us. Most of us are pretty good at detecting and adapting for it as long as everyone is making an effort.

    5. TootsNYC*

      I would absolutely attach the resume.

      I’ve been that person on the receiving end, and:
      1) I want to see the resume right away, while I’m thinking about you, to see if I like your experience and want to ping HR to pull you in.
      2) I would never hold it against you that you attached it, even if I didn’t actually want to look at it.
      3) What if I don’t want to hire you this time, but I have good memories of you, and someday I want to forward your info to someone else? I need your resume.
      4) the stuff that comes from HR may not be formatted as pleasingly; if I know you at all, I want to give you the best shot at impressing me (I feel like I owe that to some people).

      Of course I don’t want the responsibility of entering you into the HR system, but you’re not asking him to do that.

    6. Anon Librarian*

      Another academic librarian here! I don’t think it reads as pushy to attach the resume. We have the big, scary formal application process where I work, but I think our last 3 or 4 positions have been filled by people who used to work with so-and-so and sent emails about the open positions. They still had to go through the application process, but this gave the hiring committee a heads up.

      Good luck!

    7. Another librarian*

      I’m also an academic librarian! My library has been doing a lot of hiring lately. Most of the candidates for the last search committee I was on were in-state, and pretty much everyone with the right amount of experience knew at least one person on the search committee. There was one applicant who works on committee with a member of the department that she was applying for a job in, and we actually felt it reflected poorly on her that she didn’t mention that she knew this colleague in her application materials, or in her phone interview. We all knew that they knew each other, and had to wonder why she didn’t bring it up.

      I also think it’s so important to remember that just about everyone in academic librarianship is awkward as hell! I know that it doesn’t really help you not overthink it, but just know that the people on the hiring committee are probably also awkward!

  29. TotesMaGoats*

    LW1: Can you get IT or someone to make you a form that can live on the internet where faculty can just fill in whatever it is and then it gets emailed to you? Way back in my admin days (before an online form was possible), I made a form for my faculty to fill out regarding copies so I knew exactly what they wanted. They were all lovely women to work for but wouldn’t give me enough info to do the job.

    LW2: Wow, your boss. Geez. Allison has great advice as always and best of luck on your health.

    1. TootsNYC*

      LW1: Or, can you create a “stationery” or “template” that you can email to people, for them to fill out and email back, for any of the common requests?

  30. zapateria la bailarina*

    #4 – instead of telling Fergus you’re uncomfortable recommending a relative because of bias, you can say that your employer won’t even consider hiring the relatives of current employees. That takes the heat off of you and dodges the situation, hopefully without too much push back since you wouldn’t have control over that policy.

    1. TootsNYC*

      As our OP pointed out (maybe in comments?) the employer DOES hire relatives of current employees.

      But even such an employer might say, “we don’t want employees involved at all in the hiring of their relatives, not even to the point of passing along resumes.”

      And the OP could make it be her own policy, perhaps.

  31. Karo*

    LW 1, I haven’t read all the comments here but I do want to say – your coworker was being unreasonable in how angry they got. Even if you did enter different dates than they told you in conversation, they received the confirmation and should have checked it to ensure that it was correct.

  32. bohtie*

    #1 this is SUPER good advice. I work a lot with lawyers, who are notoriously loathe to put anything at all in writing, and it drives me CRAZY because then I can’t refer to it later. So like, if they give me permission to access some files, but they don’t write it down, I can’t prove to anyone that I have that permission without going back to the same lawyer (who has long since forgotten what they said to me).

    The followup “Confirming your xyz” email has worked really, really well for me; I’ve also just said something like “Would you mind emailing that to me so I have it in my records and can remember the details?”

  33. a-no*

    #2 – I feel you, I have thyroid issues and I had sudden and dramatic weight gain which I’m not overly comfortable with. What I’ve started doing (I too have the noticeable fluctuations) is I started buying loose shirts that fit in the boob-age area (because sadly my chest doesn’t get the fluctuations) that are nice and flowy and make sure they come mid-butt or below butt and a lot of statement necklaces (chokers and longer ones). I found that it helped draw attention away from what I was having issues with as well as still fit during all the fluctuations. I have a collection of dressier tunic tops mixed with open long blazers (make sure they have no buttons, sort of like the boyfriend fit blazers) and bulky cardigans again with no buttons. I got a bunch at H&M (and dynamite but I’m not sure they are in the US) for about $15-25 CAD each, if you are in the US they will be cheaper. I find the flowy material detracts from the pants situation but I still feel dressed up and comfortable. I also have a couple blazers in an almost stretchy material – they look like a normal blazer but it stretches a bit. Cheaper clothing stores I tend to find more clothes that look professional but have a lot more give which is fantastic for fluctuations.

  34. Yorick*

    The part of #1 that struck me is that you sent her the email confirmation and she didn’t notice it was the wrong date. At that point, it’s on her. You can have the admin make your reservations, but you have to check them for accuracy.

  35. Laura Cruz*

    … nobody’s going to comment on the llama midwife position? XD

    Nice choice, Allison ;)

  36. pomme de terre*

    I have passed along at least one resume for a person I knew to be incompetent. My friend R was hiring for an admin job, and I shared R’s listing on my Facebook page. Almost immediately I got a frantic call from M, an acquaintance from a hobby group who had trouble holding down a job begging me to recommend her so she wouldn’t lose her house. YIKES. M sent me a resume and cover letter and I forwarded it to R with a note that said, “Hey! I know you’re hiring, and a hobby group acquaintance of mine is interested. Here’s her resume. Let me know if you’d like any more information on her.”

    If R had ever asked, I would have said M was an unqualified disaster. But I am pretty sure R read between the lines.

  37. Veronica UK*

    For OP3, I’m usually all for being honest, but I would lie through my teeth on this one, if I didn’t think my family member would take it well.

    They’ve put you in a difficult position, and I’d be inclined not to open that can of worms, say I’d passed on the resume, encourage him to also apply via the formal application process, and state that HR will not share any details on the hiring process with me due to confidentiality, so I won’t have any further information for him.

  38. DKap*

    People with mental health diseases deserve the opportunity to work, too. You never know when a job will work out. My husband has struggled with mental health disease for about 15 years. In the first 7 years we were together, I can’t tell you how many jobs he had that he lost. Nothing ever worked out. He was working retail, parking cars, etc. Mind you, he has a Master’s Degree. For about the past 5 years he’s been working in office jobs, but they haven’t always been the best fit, either. Well, now he’s in a role for 7 months and he’s SHINING. He’s hitting all of his goals and has even become a Team Lead. If people didn’t give him a chance, I don’t know what we’d do. We have 2 young children to support. Give Fergus a chance. Let your employer decide if he’s a good fit or not.

    1. fposte*

      The problem is that it can hurt the OP if she recommends somebody who’s not good at the job, so it’s not just about maybe giving Fergus a chance. It’s fine if Fergus applies to a public posting at the employer, but you really don’t want to pass along information about somebody if you can’t recommend their hire.

  39. Guitar Hero*

    OP1, this was an ongoing problem for our marketing and admin support teams too. You should implement a ticketing system.

    If your organization is large enough, your IT department is probably already using one to manage support requests. Maybe they could create an alias for you to manage your own requests. If not, there are other free/open source ticketing systems. This will allow you to say, “Please send everything you need to and I’ll get it in queue.”

  40. betty (the other betty)*

    Yes! If someone requests something in person or on a call, I ask them to email the details “so I’m sure to remember correctly.”

    If I don’t want to ask them to email, I sometimes send an email to the requester asking them to confirm the details instead. (Hi Jane, Please confirm your request for the following: [details of request].)

  41. chi type*

    I do’t understand the obsession with leggings. They’re supposedly so comfortable but everyone hates pantyhose and they are basically just pantyhose without feet.

    1. a-no*

      I think you’ve been getting the wrong kind of leggings ;)

      I’m in love with mine (I have 8 pairs that I wear in lieu of pants) and they are the comfiest things on earth. The ones I have are this super stretchy soft material and its like having cloud pants on all the time. But the ones you find in the pantyhose section of stores are garbage – those really are scratchy and icky feeling. I go to teen stores to buy mine and if you get them in the size up they don’t go see through – I wear a M pant so I get the M/L size leggings instead of the S/M ones

      1. a-no*

        re-reading, I’m not sure it’s clear but I was joking with the wrong kind of leggings comment. Some people hate them as much as I love them and I’m not trying to change your mind on them!

        1. chi type*

          That’s okay! I am totally open to the idea that I’ve only bought the wrong ones! (Didn’t seem wise to buy more of something I didn’t like in the first place.)
          Also open to the possibility that I am fat and that makes them uncomfortable to me. I find myself wiggling into them in the winter sometimes and just reminds me of horror of trying to get the crotch of a pair of hose into place.

          1. teclatrans*

            Just throwing some solidarity to you over the crotch thing.

            I bought some leggings at Torrid that are pretty comfy (but still take a bit of work to bring up over my thighs to avoid crotch-drop — I often end up with them being capris). And while they are so much better than pantyhose or even tights, I still feel squeezed like sausage in its casing.

    2. Kat*

      I mean, they’re not. They have a different weight and feel. I wouldn’t wear leggings out unless to yoga or running, and I wouldn’t do yoga or run in tights.

    3. J.B.*

      I find them more breathable than pantyhose and warmer, and much much more durable. Leggings under dresses are so easy in winter!

    4. Julia the Survivor*

      I love pantyhose, but I’ve known more than one woman whose skin was irritated by nylon. So that’s one reason people don’t like them. Also some brands aren’t so durable and get runs in the first or second wearing. So frustrating! Why’d I even buy them?
      Also not having feet is a huge plus! If pantyhose or knit stockings aren’t long enough, the seams pull against the toes and it’s very uncomfortable! Legs even slightly longer than the manufacturer’s size chart don’t have a prayer.
      I have to by my knit winter stockings in footless because the ones with feet are never long enough.

  42. Kat*

    I’m surprised at the number of people debating OP2’s issue. She has an ongoing medical issue that must be making her feel uncomfortable. She’s found a pair of trousers (sorry, I am from Scotland and all your talk of ‘pants’ makes me think of underwear) that are comfortable and work for her while this is happening. If her boss doesn’t know about this issue, I feel she should tell the boss, if only to explain the fact that it might look as if she’s wearing tighter trousers than she normally would. I realise that ‘professional’ is the name of the game here, but there are ways to make comfier trousers look OK for a workplace, at least for an interim time while a person is trying to navigate their way around something they’re unable to help. I would hope most bosses would be understanding of this and discuss it fully with the employee.

    Last year I had a very painful leg problem and I could barely sit down (it was on the back of my thigh, the most annoying place for an office worker!). I wore my usual clothes to work for days until I could not longer take it. I wore leggings! To work! I felt a bit like I was up to no good, because it was odd. I don’t wear leggings out in public unless it’s for a sport thing. But they were truly the only thing that felt remotely comfortable. No one noticed in my office, because no one does. But if they had I would have just explained why I was wearing them. I think this is the route to go down here too.

    PS the ageism chat above was amusing to me because I have a colleague much older than me who wears leggings to work habitually. No long jumper or anything covering the bum. Leggings, ugg boots and a fleece Nobody’s ever told her not to, but to me that *is* becoming a bit too casual for an office. However, it is what it is!

    1. Julia the Survivor*

      I always feel amused by people who wear leggings wrong. That she’s older makes it funnier!

      1. Kat*

        I don’t find it funny *because* she’s older, it was just after reading comments earlier about how over a certain age leggings might be frowned upon. Not by my colleague!

  43. S*

    OP 3- does Fergus even know that you often recommend others for positions at your company? Just tell him the best way to apply is through the regular application process. Are you connected to the job opening at all? If no, then tell him your passing in a resume wouldn’t be helpful, and consider telling him it would look weird if he mentioned your name (so you don’t get connected to him. If you are connected to the opening, especially if your worried he might name drop, it might be worth giving the hiring manager a heads up that you don’t recommend him.

  44. FloralsForever*

    A lot of offices have an intra office IM system so I wonder if question asker #1 would be able to also use that if it’s available to her. I too get a lot of ad-hoc requests (although I’m not an assistant and have very specific deliverables that don’t include making life easier for the office) and need details in writing. But because IMing feels less formal, I use it a lot to confirm details. “Hey just checking you mean x and not y so I can bill it correctly!” I work in a quiet office, and kind of away from people, and we all use it and I find it enormously helpful to both get the info I need and be conversational and not pressure-y. Plus we all love the emojis. :)

  45. Cromely*

    OP3 — I’m not sure if you or your company could get in trouble for this, but if you’ve chosen not to pass his info on because, as you said, he had mental problems, you could run afoul of the ADA. It may be better to pass the resume on instead of playing a gate keeper role.

  46. Former Employee*

    From the answer to #2: “On the dress code more generally: She does have the prerogative to hold your team to a different dress code than the rest of your office.”

    Huh? I have never heard of this, not ever. In my experience, this would be no different from an individual manager deciding that any other company policy was to be enforced however they chose as opposed to the way the company set it out. This type of thing is in the company handbook. Really, just no, an individual manager does not have the prerogative to decide that their department has to follow a dress code of their choosing which is different from that required of all other employees in the same company.

    When I worked with clients, it was understood that if we were having a client meeting, whether in our office or the client’s, that we would wear suits or something dressier than our usual business casual. However, if a client needed to drop in for some reason, they saw us wearing whatever business casual clothing we happened to put on that day and it was no big deal.

    1. D'Arcy*

      If it is actually a business norm that individual managers generally have the prerogative to hold their team to any dress standards they please regardless of what the company dress policy says, then there seems to be no actual point in having a written policy.

  47. sap*

    Op2, I have a medical condition that sometimes means I have to wear a diaper under my work clothes (I’m not, like pooping or peeing myself Willy nilly, and making a smell thing be a problem).

    It makes me need pants/skirts a few pants sizes bigger. While it’s not bloating that happens throughout the day, it’s not clear whether you’re having changes during the day or generally overnight.

    The only thing I’ve found for it is that I generally need to have a large backstock of dresses, and that I need to own two sets of pants–pants I wear when I don’t need a diaper, and pants I wear when I do, that don’t fit. It took a bit to build up a good bench of clothes in two sizes, but it’s extremely effective and if you’re going to be on this medication long-term, you should seriously consider owning just two sets of pants as a long-term strategy. If you’re in a position to afford betabrand pants, this is probably something you can do in the long term, even if it means some cheaper pants sets.

  48. Expert Camelid Midwife*

    I’ve been studying Alpaca Midwifery for 13 days now, and am pretty much an expert. I am thrown for a loop though when it comes to Llama Midwifery. Do I take a continued learning course and add the llamas in there, or do I start from scratch with Llama’s on their own altogether?!

  49. Julia the Survivor*

    OP#2, I just thought of something else that might help.
    If you want to wear skirts or dresses and are concerned about the hip area of stockings, you can still buy the kind of stockings that are worn with a garter belt.
    A few years ago I bought a pair from Frederick’s of Hollywood as a gift for a friend. They can be found at pin-up stores and stores that have vintage styles, as well as lingerie stores.
    I’ve never worn them myself, but I would think the garter could be adjusted as needed? You could check.
    Two other stores that would probably have them are Trashy Diva and Baby Girl Boutique. I’m sure the associates at any of these stores could help you learn how to wear them. :)

  50. Liz2*

    LW #1 I have similar preferences and issues, my helps:
    Always have post its and pens, preferably on a nearby shelf or desk area, for people to jot down their own notes and hand to me
    Always have a note book and pen to create a new To Do and copy notes as given
    Create an Inbox with a check in sheet for people to write down what they want and leave paperwork for you to process, along with a due date and priority number (1-3)

    I train them to email as much as possible, but some people really just like rambling at you and watching you rush to write it down and keep it straight. Often I will send an email AFTER that, as you did, confirming X and Y has been complete for tracking.

    Good luck, it’s a lot of juggling for sure!

  51. A Fat Lady*

    I have a close friend who was fired from a job years ago because she was accused of consistently wearing leggings/tight clothes to work. My friend, like myself, is a fat woman, and finding work-appropriate clothes has always been a struggle, but the clothes she wore to work were in no way leggings/casual/overly tight. It was actually a horrible situation (that I firmly believe was both sexist and sizeist) and I urged her to file a complaint with the EEOC for her firing (she was and is an impeccable worker, hardworking and professional, and I have NO DOUBT that they fired her for her weight) but she was just too scarred by it and never did anything to fight back.

    This happened very early in her working life and I believe it’s affected her ever since – she’s always half-convinced she’s about to be fired (even while being consistently praised and promoted) and takes care to wear the loosest, drapiest clothing she can find at all times (professional, but way too “old” for her if you know what I mean? Like Bea Arthur?)

    All of which is to say, this letter really hit home for me. I hope LW2’s boss is a reasonable person and thinks twice about making accusations like this in the future after hearing about LW2’s situation.

    1. Julia the Survivor*

      Sorry for the late reply, but I feel like that also. Even though I’m doing well in my job for several years, I’m still worried about being fired.
      I’ve been fired for blatantly sexist reasons, for having an “attitude” (which meant I didn’t let them abuse me), and for reasons that were never explained.
      My fears have gotten better the last couple of years. I’ve had EMDR therapy for post-traumatic stress and that seems to have helped.
      I’m home sick now and I might actually stay home till I’m better, instead of going back too soon and suffering!

      1. A Fat Lady*

        I’m glad you’re able to rest and recuperate as needed. I hope you continue to improve. It’s a horrible feeling.

  52. TootsNYC*

    #3 – being a finalist elsewhere, and asking for a raise

    I once parlayed an mere APPLICATION for a job into a bonus.
    Not intentionally.

    I was working somewhere that’d had horrendous hours, and in large part due to my subordinate’s quitting without a job lined up, there was a major effort to fix that. And it was paying off.

    I got a call to interview (they found me; I wasn’t applying)for a shiny new job, a step up. I decided that the hours there would be tough, and I didn’t want to leave. So I told them at the end of the interview that I would think about whether I wanted to be a serious candidate. And called them later to say thanks but no.

    So I went to my boss and said, “I don’t even know why I’m telling you this, because I don’t have an offer, and I’m not quitting. But they called me, so I want you to know that other people recognize what you have in me. And I didn’t pursue the job after the first interview, because the hours here are better than theirs will be. And I am OK with the money I make, and I feel valued, and I like my job. But I want you to know that your efforts to fix the hours are paying off, since that’s a big reason I’m not leaving, and I want you to feel that you’ve been rewarded for that progress, so you’ll keep it up. I like my job, and I’m glad of the changes, and I don’t even know why I’m telling you this, but it felt like I should. It feels like feedback you should have. You’ve managed to keep me in this job, and I thought you should know why.”

    My boss said, “I hear all the things you are telling me, even the ones you don’t realize you’re telling me.” And about 2 weeks later, she called me in and gave me a $1,000 bonus.

    But one important thing–I didn’t frame this as an ultimatum. My decision wasn’t still floating out there; that was all solid. I don’t know if she would have reacted the same way if I’d come and said, “I’m applying for a job.”

    Maybe I could have said, “They called me to apply, and I went to the interview, and I’m looking for a reason to stay here instead of pursuing it further.” I don’t know if that would have worked. It might be better than coming after an offer, because I could have said, “I wasn’t looking to leave, but they will pay me better, and that’s going to be hard to turn my back on. Can you make it easier?” Then at least they know that the only reason I was going to leave was money, and they could count on me staying awhile if I was paid at the market rate.

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