open thread – April 6-7, 2018

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

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

{ 1,849 comments… read them below }

  1. Coqui*

    Any tips on how I can break into a flexible, work-from-home job?

    I have a background in IT with a more recent concentration in support. On paper my job is supposed to focus on providing IT support to local government employees, deploying computer equipment, and keeping our inventory organized. In reality I am a supervisor to 3 direct reports, assist in supporting the internal equipment (networks, servers, etc.), and responsible for spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in departmental budget funds ranging from hardware to software to licensing agreements. The stress is killing me and since my position is budgeted I’m not being properly compensated for the work I’m doing. A lot of my tasks are run-off from my manager not having his own time to complete the work and the culture/environment is incredibly toxic. Morale is so low and I have a medical condition that is exacerbated by stress so I am blowing through my sick and vacation days.

    I signed up on the Flex Jobs website and found that many of the jobs are catered towards call center support (probably worse stress than I have now) or programming. I also have a background in programming but I’m not overly confident in my skills since I’ve been in support for several years. Once you stop using the skills you start to lose them.

    If you have a work-from-home job (especially IT) how did you find it? Do you have any tips for job hunting? I’m okay switching fields too, but I’m unsure that I will find an entry-level job that makes what I am currently making ($49,000).

    1. Marcy Marketer*

      Hi Coqui! I have a work from home job in digital marketing, so not IT. Like you, I wanted to WFH full time so looked at flexjobs. However, rather than getting a subscription I looked at their lists of top WFH companies and saved each company’s job website to my favorites. I checked for new jobs at each website once a week. I also found that each company used different WFH language (telecommunicate, etc.) and I used those terms when searching on Indeed.

      After about three months and several job applications, I received an offer with a 30% salary increase. With your resume I would not look for entry level. Many telecommute jobs are posted that way because they’re highly specialized and the company can’t find the best talent in their area. Instead, look for jobs that meet your qualifications, and don’t be afraid to apply to lots of positions. Good luck!

      1. AK*

        Not in IT, but I work from home for a company that regularly employs people to telecommute. I can’t speak to salary or field, but I checked our job boards and it looks like we stick with “Telecommute”, “Remote Work”, and “In Person not Required” (so the position can be remote or in one of our offices) in most to describe the ability to work from home, so that might be a good place to start on job boards?

        Good luck with the hunt!

      2. Wannabe Remote*

        Marcy, I’m looking for a WFH job in digital marketing. Do you have any tips that you think would help me stand out? I have three years of experience as the volunteer head of marketing for a nonprofit, and a year doing social media for a very small B2B company (what I’ve done for the past year and a half is mostly unrelated to marketing) but I’m wondering if there’s some type of experience I should be emphasizing in my cover letters.

        1. Mrs. Picky Pincher*

          I WFH and I’m in digital marketing – been working remotely for a few years now.

          Most remote companies want to see you’ve had experience telecommuting in the past, so if you could somehow negotiate for remote work now, it would give you a leg up.

          You could also consider getting certified. Once I got my Google Adwords and Analytics certs, I was much more marketable. (And these are free certs to have, too).

          1. Wannabe Remote*

            That’s incredibly helpful, thank you! I’ll work on getting those certs, that’s fantastic advice and I appreciate it. My first job was remote, and my volunteer experience was also mostly remote, so I make sure to mention that in applications any time I can!

        2. Marcy Marketer*

          I don’t think I did anything differently, other than to tailor my resume and cover letter to the job and use concrete numbers to show my work performance, which is the advice Alison gives. In my situation, I have a general marketing background but couldn’t/didn’t get hired for general jobs. I got hired for a specialist job because they couldn’t find anyone in their area with that skill, and I think it helped that I tailored my resume to highlight my experience with that special skill.

    2. Ree*

      I’ve also been looking for a WFH job as well and found Jobspresso earlier this week – they have a great website and you can also post your resume there

    3. Fortitude Jones*

      I’ll be following this closely because I feel the same way. I’ve only been in my current position now (proposal manager) since December, and I’m already ready to go. There’s not enough work to keep me busy, and I’m bored as hell. I literally sit at work all day and stare at my computer screen because we obviously can’t go on non-work sites during the day, can’t play on our phones at our desk (my desk is down the hall from the president of the company’s office, so, optics), and I’m two seconds from just packing up my desk and going home for good. Seriously, I went from one workload extreme (a claims role where I had way too much work for any one person) to the other (barely any work). I’m becoming very resentful that I have to wake up in the morning and walk in the freezing cold to a job where I do nothing but sit. At least a work from home job would allow me to stay in the comfort of my own home when there’s little to do.

      1. Artemesia*

        If there is any hope down the road of this changing, could you not find something involving self improvement to do during your down time or is that impossible to pull off? E.g. learn accounting, learn a language, take a management course. Obviously reading a novel is a bad look, but busily working through spreadsheets might be possible and you could acquire some new skills as you think about whether you want to be looking for a new job.

        1. Fortitude Jones*

          I’m enrolled in one of Microsoft’s Professional Programs (Entry Level Software Development), but again, our Senior Director of Business Development told our boss to tell us proposal managers that we basically can’t do anything non-work related at our desks, and there are no spreadsheets or anything like that in my particular industry that I could work on. I almost wish I hadn’t left my last company because at least I had insurance exams and continuing ed classes I could take during rare down times. *sigh*

          I’m going to suggest a busywork project during my review next week, but also keep looking for new jobs in the meantime. I found some really interesting postings recently on Indeed, but I’m just concerned my lack of proposal experience is going to be a problem (I do want to stay in this job function – when I have work to do, I like it a lot).

      2. Bea W*

        Are you me? The boredom is slowly killing off my brain cells. I went from doing the jobs of 3 people to pretending to look busy by shuffling some spreadsheets and things on my screen.

    4. rubyrose*

      IT Business Analyst here, working from home.

      I literally lucked into this job. Was not actively looking, but contacted by a recruiter searching for my skill set. He gave me the five minute lowdown about the position, which did not perk my interest especially. As an afterthought, at the end, he says “Oh, yeah, the job is remote. You can live anywhere in the US as long as you are close to an airport (20% travel at peak project times). ” With this, I saw my ticket to move back to Colorado from another region with a job! You bet, I applied.

      From what you list as your talents, I think you want to look for jobs dealing with network and server support. Those types of positions can often be remote. They do exist.

      What I have found in looking specifically for remote positions is that if a site has search criteria for remote yes/no, it is often totally inaccurate. Like, it will say yes, but the description specifies non-remote. Or the opposite is true. Not good news, I know.

      I think I would concentrate on very large employers. The small to medium sized companies tend to want their people on site, or think they have to be on site. With your experience in supporting government, also look for large companies that have government contracts; your experience with government may be special enough that they would make a position remote for you.

      Good luck!

      1. LKW*

        I was going to suggest IT Business Analyst or IT Development. A lot of projects are done with global teams where you have a few meetings that are non-negotiable but the rest of the work can be done as needed during the day. There may be occasional travel for face to face meetings but often most can be conducted remotely.

        I’m a PM and haven’t been to the office in 4 months.

        1. Adlib*

          This is basically how my team is set up. I do use an office at a branch location, but my team is national/global so we don’t ever see each other but meet and collaborate regularly via Skype. In 4 years (5 total with this company), I’ve only met my boss once in person. I work from home whenever I want, but I also like having the flexibility to come in to the office when I want to be around people. I’m basically a Business Analyst at this point.

          I haven’t looked in a while, but I’d venture to say that most won’t advertise that they’re remote or mostly-remote positions just to weed out some people who may take advantage of that. I’ve interviewed with a company that was completely remote. I think OP’s skills lend themselves well to finding a remote position naturally since more and more companies are moving that way.

    5. Anon for Now*

      I seem to recall Apple was hiring a lot of remote IT support positions. Also, a lot of the big tech companies have jobs that are remote, but they may not advertise it as such. I work for a large global tech machine company (think copiers and printers) and a LOT of people are remote by design, and/or people have gone remote in recent years as the companies seek to pare down office leases. I’m not sure if the jobs are always advertised as such though.
      My own job CAN be remote if I want it to be, but I’ve elected to go in most days as I live by a large office. My immediate team is all remote!
      I think with IT you have a better chance of finding remote work than some ‘folks.

    6. Coqui*

      You all are awesome! Thank you so much for the tips. IT Business Analysis sounds very interesting and I’m curious to look more into it. I’m ready to get out of the support-side of things since it’s effectively IT “retail” in the sense that you provide a type of customer service to users who don’t understand what you do, but think that they do. I’ll keep an eye on this thread if you all decide to drop some more knowledge. :)

      1. rubyrose*

        Since that sounds interesting….

        Your programming background will be useful as a BA. You will be able to talk to developers more easily, since you will better understand what they need to know to do their work. Network/server knowledge is also good.

        Given medical concerns, one thing to keep in mind. For some of these jobs, there might be people in your team in another country on another continent (think India). That is roughly a 12 time difference and you may need to speak with them daily. I’ve been on phone calls at 10:00 pm and then at 6:00 am the next morning when meeting deadlines was especially critical. I don’t have medical concerns, but with age my body and mind don’t do as well with interrupted or inconsistent sleep patterns. So if this might be an issue, be sure you find out up front if there are any expectation in this area and what they are.

      2. Wheezyweasel*

        I have a similar background with a little more training experience thrown in, and in my last job search I concentrated on roles like associate project manager (with an IT focus, not construction, etc) software trainer, implementation consultant/specialist to make the transition out that ‘retail IT’ environment you mention. Several small companies were looking for system administrators for cloud-based systems that were completely remote, although those positions sometimes came with lower salaries and extra job duties thrown on top. As others have said, it’s cumbersome to search through job listings where a keyword search on ‘remote’ won’t give you exact matches, especially as the big players such as Indeed and LinkedIn don’t seem to have this as a filter criteria.

    7. Jen*

      I don’t know if this is really the question you are asking, but often, it’s about working for a company that is very flexible on WFH, building a good reputation, and having the kind of job that’s portable to home. Then you can start WFH after a few months or a year.
      For example, you won’t be doing in-office tech support from home (eg. “I need a loaner laptop because I forgot mine at home.”)

    8. Celestine*

      There’s a good amount of work-from-home jobs on the InfoSec side if you have any skills that would be applicable there.

    9. what's my name again?*


      While this site seems to frown on the field, I happen to be a resume writer, working from home on a very flexible schedule. I don’t make that $49,000 but I only work part time. I believe if I had to, I could make that salary.
      IT resumes are very much in demand and not many of us resume writers like to do them and even fewer can do them well.
      Google “Resume Writer certifications” to find ways to break into the field. (I highly recommend getting a certification. Resume writing companies generally prefer a candidate have at least one, but the Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) credential is very easy to get.)

    10. Bend & Snap*

      I work with developers who all work remotely. if you can brush up on those skills (which are sought after), it would be an easy field in which to find remote work.

      1. Easily Amused*

        I hope I’m not hijacking here but I am an iOS Developer. I’ve worked remotely in the past but am struggling to find remote opportunities because they’re so competitive. I’d love learn about your company if you’re open to sharing more information (completely understand if you’re not comfortable divulging company info to random online people).

    11. Someone else*

      One thing that might help in your search is to research distributed companies; ie companies where basically everyone works from home. Approaching from the angle of “what companies have all/mostly remote workers” might get you different results than coming at it from the angle of just looking for jobs that are remote.

  2. That Cat Lady*

    I’m wondering if anyone has any good stories about themselves or their colleagues mangling/ misusing industry specific vocab to hilarious effect?

    My example from earlier this week, I asked my colleague in a group message to book a skip exchange and for some reason when she responded she chose a slightly odd abbreviation. Her response to the group message (including the owner of the company) was “[MyName], I confirm I have now booked your”

    1. Dr Wizard, PhD*

      My boss sent out an email advising people I’d be working on the new service level agreeement between our organisation and another one. Except the new term is ‘performance delivery agreement’, and she wrote something like ‘Wizard and Rachel will be working closely on the PDA’.

      Cue a call from a higher-up’s assistant to clarify what exactly our team was up to.

        1. Say What, now?*

          I was just thinking the same thing! Why change it from very innocent SLA when PDA would be so weird? Unless you employee Loki, God of Mischief, and he was like “this will be good.”

    2. Manders*

      One from me: In my field it’s not unusual to talk about “hitting” a target audience or a subject you’re covering. I sometimes find myself shortening the name of the audience (so instead of “parents of newborns” I’ll just call the audience “babies”) and dropping the “audience” part, which means a whole lot of confused strangers have overheard me saying things like “I think we can hit babies much harder” and “We’ve hit seniors so hard lately.”

      1. AVP*

        oh I have some similar ones. We’re a film company so we talk a lot about shooting and what we’ve shot in the past. Cut to my team in an airport having a discussion like, “Well we already shot the CEO. Do you think we can shoot the president next? We shot all those kids last week so that’s taken care of.” We’ve gotten a few worried looks!

    3. Localflighteast*

      not quite industry vocab, but in prep for an office move we are having a “Pizza and purge” party to encourage us to clean out our offices. I’m not sure the vocab is quite what they were going for!!

    4. PB*

      I serve on a committee that’s commonly abbreviated BSC. It stands for something completely office appropriate, of course, but every time I see if, I internally chuckle at the internet meaning of BSC.

      1. Sal*

        What does BSC mean…? I googled to no avail (although urban dictionary is blocked on my computer)

        1. Sled dog mama*

          At my college it was the black student coalition, home of the BEST parties on campus.

      2. Dr Wizard, PhD*

        I’m afraid I can top that, because I attend local meetings of the EU National Institutes of Culture, which is very unfortunately abbreviated EUNIC.

        1. hermit crab*

          Hahaha! We work on a type of document called a Statement of Basis, which our client insists on abbreviating as SOB.

        2. Sparkly Librarian*

          A nearby congregation is named the Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists (BFUU), despite technically being in a township/neighborhood not quite within the borders of Berkeley… because no one wanted to approve the First Unitarian Church of Kensington.

          Or so I hear. Urban legend?

          1. Troutwaxer*

            A nearby organization is the (Town Name Starting With ‘F’) Unified School District, commonly referred to as the “eff you SD.”

      3. Libervermis*

        I attend a conference that’s abbreviated ASECS, pronounced “a-sex”. Several people have asked why I’m talking about a sex conference.

      4. RJGM*

        A close family member of mine works for the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) which, on particularly frustrating days, they abbreviate to BS of America.

      5. Weirdo Catholic*

        A lot of people abbreviate Non Profit as NFP and in my catholic circles that means Natural Family Planning and I always get confused and have to reread what I’m reading to make sure I am reading the right acronym correctly.

    5. SoCalHR*

      I started my career in Workers Compensation so we use a lot of acronyms in documenting medical reports (Sx = surgery, Dx = Diagnosis, f/u = follow up, etc). Thinking some of these weren’t industry-specific, I carried them over into my next job. My small HR team of Millennials were confused as why I was using “F/U” and read it as “F#&$ You” or “F#&$ Up” and were pretty shocked.

      1. King Friday XIII*

        I use F/U all the time (and occasionally in theraputic ways) but I’m veeeeeeery careful to get that slash in there.

      2. RetailGal*

        I work in our receiving department, and boxes that contain comforters or quilts that can work on both full or queen-sized beds will often be labelled FUQU. My inner 10 year old boy comes out and giggles about it.

        1. Cube Ninja*

          A few months ago, my boss and I were discussing naming conventions for one of our functions, which requires follow up to ensure we’ve received acknowledgement of a particular item. This is of course managed in our system through a queue.

          He decided very quickly after sending it in instant messaging that AFUQ was probably not the best abbreviation for acknowledgement follow up queue.

      3. TGIF*

        We have a chart we fill out where there are two possible responses, abbreviated S and M. Sometime you select just one, however, sometimes it’s a combo. I very carefully fill those in as M/S, not the other way around.

      4. BenAdminGeek*

        Yes, I’ve gone on at length about STD on calls out and about, getting some very odd looks. Apparently “yeah, we need to transition everyone with STD” sounds creepy to the general populace.

        Also a throwback to a client that kept pronouncing “Waiver of Premium” acronym of WOP phonetically as “wop” until I asked that we call it W-O-P. I then had to explain to my client that I’d prefer not to use derogatory slurs, even if unintentional.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          There’s a flea market here (two of them–there used to be three) called STD. Apparently, they began in a building that used to be owned by Springfield Tool and Die, or so I heard, but they kept the sign. They had some scripted radio ads a few years ago where a guy was trying to guess what it stood for and my favorite was “Spanking Tommy’s dalmation.”

        2. Boop*

          Just today my boss was describing a meeting she had with an employee and said “I gave her an STD.” She meant a short term disability flyer, of course, but I still had to stop the conversation so we could both snicker.

        3. myswtghst*

          Current company refers to our bonus as “short term incentive” which they abbreviate to STI.

        4. hermit crab*

          I coordinate training workshops as part of my job, so I hear STD a lot for “save the date.” But my clients are mostly federal government and they loooooove their TLAs (three-letter acronyms).

      5. MsMaryMary*

        I once received an email with the subject “F/U from Department Leadership.” Fine, then, leadership. F/U too. In reality it was a response to some concerned aired at our last quarterly meeting, but they really should have skipped the acronym.

        1. RES ADMIN*

          Years ago my husband worked computer support for a largish company whose two part name was S— H—. They decided that the group currently called “Computer Support” should be modernized by calling it “Information Technology”. Had everything printed up, complete re-branding. THEN they announced it to the general staff. You see where this is going? And, yes, husband was the one who asked, mid-announcement, if anyone had thought about the acronym… After some confusion, someone finally realized what it spelled… They changed their minds about re-nameing the group.

    6. Overeducated*

      Not exactly misusing, but it took me about a year to not stifle a giggle when mentioning my PIV card.It stands for personal identity verification, this is the first place I have ever even HINTED at other possible interpretations.

      1. ket*

        My spouse works in a government institution with PIV cards. I finally explained to him (after 10 yrs of marriage) why I chortle every time I hear him say its name.

    7. strawberries and raspberries*

      Not exactly jargon, but a former coworker wrote a huge email to some of our community partners about an event happening at the “pubic” library. The best part was that this coworker was unnecessarily verbose and overly formal, so her emails were always like, “Good morning partners, I hope this email finds you well in your endeavors. The reason I am writing is to seek your support in requesting assistance with…” and having all of that build-up to the “pubic” library was freaking awesome. She was also a total prude, so when I pointed out that she had made that typo she did not laugh.

      1. Manders*

        I’ve heard that offices that work with the public will sometimes have programs that automatically fix this typo for just this reason!

        1. Jen S. 2.0*

          I have absolutely seen an ad for a university where you can get a master’s degree in pubic administration. All righty, then.

          1. Jadelyn*

            I get resumes from time to time (for jobs at an activist nonprofit) with people talking about their impressive track record in pubic service. Ah, well. It helps the time go faster while I’m reading dozens of resumes.

      2. memyselfandi*

        This reminded me that I have a tendency to type “sex ration” instead of “sex ratio.” I have to be careful to double check as grammar check doesn’t pick it up.

      3. Anonymous for this*

        Ooh, this is a bad one.

        A former coworker at a newspaper, presumably living in fear of a “public” -> “pubic” typo making it into print, had “pubic” autocorrected to “public.”

        Then they wrote a serious story about a person who had suffered an injury to the public region. It was my favorite typo of the year. (My all-time favorite was an “año”/”ano” mixup. I had to explain it with a straight face.)

      4. hermit crab*

        I’ve told this story here before, but I work on projects related to public health and public drinking water systems. Back in the day, a staff member at our company apparently sent in a huge, high-stakes proposal with the L missing on the front cover. That individual is now the CEO and we have a company-wide SOP to do a find-replace on “pubic” before submitting all deliverables.

    8. INeedANap*

      Putting through a colleague’s short term disability paperwork, I sent this email:

      “Hi [Other Colleague], Just checking to see how Jane Doe’s STD is going – everything okay there?”

      1. Meghan*

        I had to hold myself back from abbreviating it when I wrote to HR about my own two days ago.

      2. Ann O. Nymous*

        We often use “STD” for “Save the Date,” and my very immature coworker once saw me write “STD” in an email subject line to another coworker and started giggling, which I ignored because he was super obnoxious. He then asked me coyly if I knew why he was giggling…. No, Carl, I don’t know what an STD is, please explain it to me in great detail!!!! He was in his late 40s. C’mon, dude.

      3. memyselfandi*

        There was a whole discussion of STD (short term disability) here a while ago. I am in public health where STD means something totally different, and I was very puzzled for a while.

      4. Ann O'Nemity*

        One of our vendor’s abbreviation is STI. Occasionally it will be used in a sentence that could be taken out of context for sure.

    9. Justin*

      This isn’t misusing but:

      At my job, we have a project that’s related to the department of taxation and finance.

      So there’s a whole lot of talk about “DTF.”

      1. Coqui*

        Oh gosh, we have a DTF-labeled department, too! One of our co-workers mangles his emails and forgets words. He regularly emails the team to let us know of his whereabouts: “I’m DTF”

    10. Coalea*

      At a previous job, every project and its associated task had to be accounted for in our timekeeping system, which had a strict limit to the number of characters allowed. This led to lots of abbreviations, most notably “anal” for analysis.

      1. Ugh.*

        This reminds me of the (completely SFW) abbreviation the library I work in uses in place of the full name of the magazine Business Week: BusiWeek.

      2. BenAdminGeek*

        Yes! Job titles of “Sr Anal” and the like in our IM system just crack me up. I know, I’m 5…

      3. Elizabeth West*

        LOL I’ve seen that one a couple of times.

        At Exjob, our intranet page titled “This Company & Associates” in the tab once appeared on my computer as “This Company & Ass.”

        1. Ann O'Nemity*

          Yes! One of our customers was listed as “Bass & Ass” in the old CRM. To this day, a few of our long time employees still call Bass & Associates “Bass and Ass.”

        2. Echo*

          I used to work for an organization with a name like “National Association of XYZ” and my bank statements read NATIONAL ASSPAYROLL for my paychecks!

        3. Paquita*

          We have a company doing business with us ‘Company’ & Associates. We just write it Company & A. Or just C & A.

    11. NNFTD*

      Kind of the opposite problem: A common phrase at my company is to “blap” a file, which is just used to mean “delete and replace.” So, like, if there’s a problem with an INI file, blap it! (replace it with the default INI file)

      I was trying to figure out if this was a well-known term, because I had never heard it before, so I googled it… yeah, the first thing that comes up is urban dictionary, and the definition is NOT safe for work.

      I have no idea how this phrase became a common bit of jargon here, but I laugh a little every time I hear it.

    12. UK Civil Servant*

      It turns my stomach every time the government role Permanent Under Secretary is abbreviated, especially when said out loud. :(

      1. Slartibartfast*

        Which reminds me of this tidbit: always write pus-like discharge in a medical record. Don’t make “pus” an adjective.

    13. Nordo*

      I worked for a company that started with the letter “T” and in information technology. During one of our restructuring meetings, the CIO was talking about how he was going to rebrand us and call us [Company Name] Information Technology and Systems. As he was saying this, he was writing the abbreviation on the whiteboard: TITS. He looked at the board and said something like “well, let me rethink that.”

    14. Engineer on the Dark Side*

      The plants track cumulative orders from the customer. Of course it gets abbreviated as CUMs in emails. What is even more fun is hearing it said during phone conferences. The middleschooler in me just giggles.

      1. Jadelyn*

        You know, I saw someone propose a rule once – I think on Twitter – that any use of an acronym or nickname should have to pass the 13-year-old test. You tell it to a 13-year-old, and see how they react. If they start giggling, don’t use it.

    15. DeeShyOne*

      The following gem came from an immediate supervisor, in an effort to get the money aspect of our job increased and to decrease the amount of transactions needed (I’m sure he pulled all of this jargon from his “selfhelp guidelines”), released an email to our team:

      “….ladies and gents, we need to get all of the money booked for the third quarter as we can, but we need to make sure the transactions are more under control and make sure to get that count down…”

      Except…he left the “o” out of “count”….

    16. that Broadway nerd*

      Not really an answer to your question, but your comment made me laugh/feel nostalgic because at my undergrad, we had a little convenience store in our student center that was ostensibly called the “Student Exchange”. Naturally, we students just HAD to abbreviate it – so it became absolutely common and unremarkable to say “oh give me 10 minutes, I need to pick something up at the SexChange”. Gotta love college students.

    17. Coqui*

      We have a “standard” and “professional” software suite. Boss sent out an email to the departments using abbreviations to let them know who had which, and to let them know who needed an upgrade to professional.

      According to that email most of our 700 employees have “STD”.

    18. Trillion*

      Sort of applicable. Once my boss (man) and I (woman) needed to open a bunch of product to find a specific serial numbered item. The boxes are taped shut and have styrofoam tightly wedged that we had to be careful not to damage. To speed up the process, I suggested an assembly line-style operation where I’d untape and open the boxes then he’d pull the styrofoam out. What I actually said was “I’ll open up if you’ll pull out.”

      It took both of us a second, then he broke down laughing while I blushed pinker than a flamingo.

    19. EmilySpinach*

      Not a misuse so much as a people-who-are-not-clued-into-the-internet thing, but at my university faculty are expected to write up an Activity Plan for the year, detailing their work goals and such. This used to just be called Workload Plan/WP, but I guess they decided they like the idea of “activities” rather than “workload,” so now, every October, all faculty have to FAP.

      1. JaneB*

        I regularly get invited to FAPs – Faculty Approvals Panels for quality related paperwork – and here in the U.K. most of my colleagues have NO idea that this is funny

        We also have a FEC process which leads to a lot of comments about FECing forms etc (again not everyone gets it but Father Ted watching means it’s more we felt known than FAP)

        1. DaphneD*

          Where I work (also in the UK) we have panels that are also abbreviated to FAP, and I have had to train myself out of giggling like a schoolgirl every time I hear things like “yes, I’ll be FAPping all day Thursday” or “I need to send out FAP invites” or “can you follow up with Bob about the FAP?”

          After having to direct more than one mystified colleague to Urban Dictionary (NOT on their work computer!) I keep my reactions to myself.

    20. Just Truckin'*

      The local bank came in to see if they could offer any services or loans. I replied that we needed a few trailers, maybe a reefer or two.

      I had been in the industry for 10 years or so and didn’t realized until the VP and branch manager started stifling their giggling exactly what I had said. My face burned with embarrassment. We all recovered and I got a refrigerated trailer.

      1. Jadelyn*

        I worked at a fuel card company call center once, years ago. The entire training class burst out laughing the first time the trainer said something about getting authorization for reefer.

        I mean, we all got desensitized eventually, but that first time was really something.

    21. Den Mother*

      I send out all Boy Scout updates with the title BS yadda, yadda. I was doing it for weeks before someone asked me to please spell it out…

    22. Future Homesteader*

      Not mangling, but I was at a gardening class last night that involved an extensive discussion of how to use tools, including proper handling, grip, etc. I am officially a third-grader because I wanted to giggle. the. entire. time. It was awful. But then, you’d never want to sit next to me watching sports, because I still think ball handling is also hilarious (I am a 30something woman).

      1. Fergus, Stealer of Pens and Microwaver of Fish*

        I keep thinking that I’ll eventually stop giggling every time a football announcer talks about “penetration.” I’m 40 and it hasn’t happened yet.

        1. Student Engineer*

          I still haven’t stopped laughing at the realisation that CPBW stands for Complete Penetration Butt Weld. You’d think someone would have thought that through. Also engineers talking about member stiffness gets me every time

    23. Kittyfish 76*

      I used to work at a medical and industrial gas accessories wholesaler. We had rubber cap-type accessories called “nipples”, which would come as part of an assembly of other accessories. And the word “assembly” was always abbreviated “assy”! So it was quite humorous to receive shipments of “assy nipples”

    24. LateToTheBBQ*

      I work in global public health, so we have some good ones. Of course, the public/pubic typo comes up frequently.
      We once had a study researching causes of infant death in a particular country with a very long name, so naturally it became “The Dead Baby Study” around the office.
      I specialize in infectious diseases and have freaked out some uber drivers when I have to be on a call in the car talking about medical male circumcision, condoms, health programs for sex workers, etc.
      Also, we do quite a bit of work with the Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator (OGAC), yes – pronounced “oh-gak”
      Lastly, not jargon, but my favorite typo ever was one I fortunately caught before hitting send – hug instead of huge. As in “I don’t think it’s worth waging a hug(e) battle over this”

        1. Durham Rose*

          I always liked OGAC! I’d picture some sort of Nickelodeon slime product. I’m in global public (pubic?) health too, we have some good acronyms eh?

          1. LateToTheBBQ*

            Great acronyms for sure. And depending on your specialty/project, sometimes it IS pubic health!

        2. LateToTheBBQ*

          I know, right? I still find it amusing if I AM planning on waging a huge battle to take a moment to enjoy the hug battle scenario first.

    25. Bowl of Oranges*

      Not work jargon but some unfortunate wording from a conversation with my husband about work. He mentioned that his boss had been hinting at a small surprise they would get this afternoon. What he said was “Dick teased we might get…”

    26. Pinky*

      Not industry-specific, but I did mess up a pretty basic initialism last week. We were doing group values training and I was assigned to be the person who read our group’s responses. One of my coworkers wrote down “SOP” (standard/standing operating procedure) but when I read it aloud, I said “standard of practice.” I knew it was wrong as soon as I said it, but it had the same meaning in my mind, so I’ve been using the abbreviation correctly for years without ever actually knowing what it meant, I guess. No one corrected me or acted confused, but I was still pretty embarrassed.

    27. dawnhawk*

      I once worked in the IT department of a University library. The Dean of the library at the time had a fondness for committees (more so than I’ve seen in other academia which is saying something). I came into my boss’ office one day to see this very long, strange list of acronyms scrawled across half of the whiteboard – which took up one entire wall of the office. When I queried what they were I was informed they were all of the committees she needed to report to or attend a meeting for in the next week or so since everyone needed IT for something.

      Given that the committees all had ungodly long names she’d written them all as acronyms. Some of them came out rather unfortunate (Staff Training & Development became the STD committee for example). But my favourite to this day is the STALL committee (I don’t remember the exact committee name but it was for the Library Liaisons). I looked at her and went “it’s the point of all of them to stall?”.

    28. smoke tree*

      In my industry, it’s not uncommon to shorten “production assistant” to “prod ass”

    29. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Not a misuse, but the term I’ve seen get the most side-eye from outsiders is SOL (statute of limitations).

    30. rubyrose*

      This is extremely old.

      When I started my IT career, the removable storage (disk drives) for our computer were roughly the shape of the Star Ship Enterprise and huge; think 12 inches high, 16 inches in length. We had four of them and the machine they resided in while being used took up a huge amount of space. You could look through the clear plastic windows and see them.

      I got a resume from someone who said their goal was to have a disk job. I knew he meant desk job, but my visual was of him sitting on a bar stool staring at the disks in operation for eight hours straight.

    31. Oxford Coma*

      I’m in tech for a construction-adjacent industry, and you can always tells the noob interns. They’re the ones giggling about pipe nipples and male/female sockets.

    32. Other Duties as Assigned*

      From my news reporter background. All large news agencies have obits of famous people ready to go, so as to have material available rapidly when needed. Occasionally, a news wire service will press the wrong button and accidentally send out an obit of someone who isn’t dead (it famously happened to Bob Hope). One morning, I was watching the AP wires in my newsroom when an obit came for the character actor Ralph Bellamy. It told of his long career, gave his filmography, etc. The snag was he was not dead. The wire sent out an immediate advisory about the error and this was a severe enough mistake that the normal “correction” wasn’t sufficient. The higher-level action in wirespeak was a “kill.” The wire message under the heading “Kill Advisory” was: “The story slugged Bellamy-Obit is incorrect. Bellamy is not dead. A kill is mandatory.” If one didn’t know the jargon, it reads as though they were trolling for someone to bump off Bellamy so the story would be correct.

      1. Buffy*

        I saw Hollywood Life accidentally published an article announcing Prince Philip was dead this week. He had hip surgery, so I guess they had been updating it…jarring to see!

    33. T&A Manager*

      In our payroll and timekeeping system, we have to designate managers for the Time and Attendance module. It’s so tempting to abbreviate as T&A manager… but I have yet to do so in practice :)

      1. All Anon*

        I’m a new HR person here and a manager was explaining how they were going to assign a employee named Woody to two different departments so that he now has half a woody. It was all I could do to not burst out laughing.

      2. Jadelyn*

        Sadly we got the Time Management (TM) module for our HRIS, not the T&A one. So many giggles I didn’t get to have.

    34. Vir*

      Public library here. Our labeling for manga series sometimes results in unintentionally funny and/or inappropriate call numbers. The collection code is MAN for manga, plus the first three letters of the series name. Unfortunately, for the popular manga series “Assassination Classroom”, it becomes…


      Oh well. It’s better than it was when it used to be in the teen collection… in those days it was TEEN MAN ASS. o_o

    35. Djuna*

      I moved from one company where the acronym SME was used to mean small/medium-sized enterprises, to another where…it wasn’t.

      I kept hearing that such-and-such was an SME, and it took me months to discover that it means Subject Matter Expert. People still tease me about how baffled I was by it.

      And on bafflement, my boss got an “informative” email today from a department we work with occasionally. It was so full of acronyms that she had to enlist a bunch of us to help translate it. Not so informative, then!

    36. Esme* was a resource I had to introduce my training classes to with careful phrasing. I wonder if Information for Financial Aid Professionals will ever change their name, at least to get rid of that ‘i’.

    37. Newtothis*

      When I was in the military, I worked at a help desk and I was replying to an officers request about an SMTP gateway. I always had my email set up to run the spell checker and automatically change words before it sent. Well on this particular occasion, the server didn’t recognize SMTP and changed all of them to SH*T gateways. As soon as I saw that I went into my bosses office and explained what happened. I tried to recall it, but she was to quick and had already read it. I had to call her and apologize and I took the spell checker off that very minute…talk about embarrassment. Before I had the chance to call her, my boss did and he told her to yell at me about it…and then let me in on the secret afterwards.

    38. Sparkly Librarian*

      I just did a keyword search in my email, and in 3 years I’ve gotten half a dozen messages that left out the L in “public library”. (To be fair, I only noticed one at the time.)

    39. Aealias*

      I teach band, and always know that my students have hit adolescence when they start giggling over fingerings and tonguing, which we discuss on the regular.

    40. Hamburke*

      Not for my job but my volunteer position – we used to have the LUSR Report – local unit status report. They changed the name in July after the conference where it was pointed out but I can’t remember what the new report is called!

  3. WellRed*

    Does Alison have a resume guide? I need to really think about moving on, but haven’t had to put one together in more than 12 years. I don’t know where to begin.

    1. not an expert*

      I have put several together for many people over the years. I find it important to research other resumes specific to your field. It’s no longer a standard 1 page resume and cover letter. Each industry is different in what they expect to see and layout ideas. The research will also help with phrasing some things you want to say, but may struggle to put eloquently.

      1. WellRed*

        I have had trouble finding resume examples for writing/editing/journalism. Which also makes it tricky, because I am struggling with what to show as accomplishments. It’s not like I’ve won a Pulitzer or increased ad sales 150%.

        1. Serious Pillowfight*

          Hopefully this doesn’t get buried, but I’m in the same boat as you re: quantifying my accomplishments as a writer/editor in journalism. Some things to consider:

          Do you have any sort of Google analytics on your company’s website? Can you say you wrote for a publication with X number of visitors/circulation/etc.? Can you see how many readers clicked on your stories? Did you help anyone edit their work into publishable shape? Did something you edited get a lot of web traffic? Did you avert any crises in terms of catching a particularly egregious error before it went to print?

        2. Serious Pillowfight*

          And don’t forget that, although you aren’t personally selling the ads, the ad reps are selling the ads based on the pub’s circulation and the content YOU are generating.

  4. Pet sitter*

    I’ve been hired to drive a dog to doggie daycare. Daycare’s admission time is at the same time that the local schools start, so I am joining the school traffic, waiting in a carpool line, and then dropping a puppy off at puppy school. Adorable.

    1. Alice Ulf*

      I bet the puppy is much happier about going to school than a lot of those human students! Awwsh.

    2. soscrescentfresh*

      Please tell me you plan to say “Bye puppy! Have a good day at school!” like it’s your kid.

    3. Can't Sit Still*

      Do you pick the puppy up from doggie daycare too? Is this a regular job or a one-time thing? This is too cute!

    4. voluptuousfire*

      I’m picturing a puppy with a backpack, jumping out of a minivan from the car pool and running into school.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        My doggy daycare occasionally gives out report cards and it is awesome. Even when he doesn’t do a great job. But once he got an A++ with a note about how much he was improving and I loved it so much.

        1. Naptime Enthusiast*

          I think I would be more proud of that than some of my own performance reviews.

        1. myswtghst*

          My parents’ 90-lb yellow lab always got an A+ on her report cards from the groomer, which gave me a laugh every time because while she was a generally lovely dog, she was a holy terror when you cut her nails, so I found that grade to be a bit hard to believe.

          I’m glad my 46-lb English Bulldog does not get a report card, because she is a drama queen who hates all forms of grooming (super helpful for a breed that needs frequent face wipes), and is not terribly sure about people who are not me or my husband. I always feel bad for the 4(!) people it takes to cut her nails at the vet.

    5. Happy Lurker*

      I used to drive my dog to the bus stop every day to put the kids on the bus. One day we missed the bus and drove to the elementary school. My darn dog wiggled out of his seat belt and ran into school with all the kids.

      Dog was in his glory. He LOVES everyone, especially kids. I was horrified! Car in the middle of the lot, doors wide open. The kids “meanest” teacher had grabbed the dog and brought him out to me. It was something like out of a sitcom.

      1. Faintlymacabre*

        I grew up in a neighborhood where it was common to let the dogs run loose in the streets. Our dog would wait with the kids while they waited for the school bus. Then one day she decided heck it, I’m getting on the bus, too! We got a note in our mailbox saying that it was adorable but also needed to stop. Poor puppy.

    6. Yvette*

      CUTE CUTE CUTE!!!!! Do you hand the puppy a brown bag lunch too? Cutest post of the day!!

    7. ChemMoose*

      We have to take our dog to doggie day care every day (health/personality reasons) and it’s cute all the time. He has a “best friend” that looks like him but in a different color (whos owner drives the same car). He’s also learning how to bark, which in his case isn’t a bad thing. Everytime we drop him off we say “Bye Threo! Have a good day!”

  5. Happy Friday*

    How do you engage with a coworker who talks to you in a very patronizing way?

    Background: Coworker “John” was hired for a role in a technical area that the rest of the team know little about, except me. He definitely has more knowledge than I, but I’m by no means clueless. I’m able to comfortably discuss technical details with him and have even shared techniques with him that he didn’t know about (and vice-versa). He’s told me in the past that he feels he can talk to me about this technical area because “I would get it.”

    The challenge I have with John is that he still very often talks down to me. He lectures me about stuff that I already know—even basic concepts. For example, I shared an offhand observation with him about something. I didn’t ask or wonder why it was happening because I already knew why. If you knew the basics of this technical area, you would already know why. Anyway, I was just making a casual statement, but he still replied with, “Oh that’s happening because [insert explanation, followed by what he thinks the team/company should be doing forward].” During his explanation, I just kept replying with, “I know…I know…I know…” This happens a lot. When talking to me and other people, John also often starts his sentences with phrases like “You gotta understand” or “You have to realize” or “The company needs to [do so and so] because [insert another explanation]” or “We need to [do so and so] because [insert another explanation].”

    Either John really wants to teach people and share knowledge, or he wants to project that he knows a lot. Not sure.

    I do not want to directly raise this issue with him because I feel like it would make things too tense. But I’m wondering if there are any proper casual comebacks I could use to mitigate his approach? I’m not sure if this is relevant, but he is the only male in a team of six and comes from a very traditional background.

    1. KimberlyR*

      I think in the moment, when he starts on an unnecessary explanation, you can break in and say, “Actually John, I do have a deep understanding of llama training. I would rather focus on moving from training to wrangling so can we focus on the wrangling aspect?” If he continues to talk about the thing you already know, interrupt him again and say, “Again, I’ve got that covered. I have extensive experience there. So to clarify further on the llama training…”

      1. Natalie*

        Yeah, I’d cut him off more directly in the moment. If he isn’t understanding “I know” to mean you don’t want his explanation, then you probably need to clearly tell him to stop talking.

        Although, I don’t know that you need to be that wordy, depending on your relationship and style. If you can keep a fairly jocular tone, literally just the words “John, stop explaining” might suffice.

        1. smoke tree*

          Yeah, I’d just cut him off and say something like, “John, I already know this stuff, remember? You don’t need to explain it to me.” And then get back to your actual point.

      2. Millennial Lawyer*

        I agree with this tactic, especially because it’s directing him into what you actually do need his expertise on. Since he was “hired for a role in a technical area that the rest of the team know little about” he is probably *doing his job* and not meaning to be rude – although you would know if there’s a condescending tone or not, OP. I think saying “I know” “I know” comes off as a little too hostile/frustrating since it seems he would be doing his job just fine if it were anywhere else. Having a substantive way to redirect will be better for you.

      1. Chaordic One*

        You know, my former bad boss would be the same way with other men whom he perceived as being “lower class.” I can’t say with certainty, but I think it came from him attending an ivy league college and hob-knobbing with a lot of well-to-do people in his job as a fundraiser for the non-profit where we worked. The people he would condescend to mostly came from mere state universities. It was like the ugly side of meritocracy.

        But, yeah, it could be “man-splaining.”

        1. Sarah M*

          I used to encounter this a lot when I worked for MBB Firm ages ago. I think of it as Eloi-splaining. It was really cute when the Ubermensch in question was completely and totally wrong about ____. (Which happened far more often than you might expect.)

        2. LouiseM*

          YES. So many mansplainers are also extremely (subconsciously) classist. I’ve noticed it really come out when they want to assert their manliness and do so by pointing out aspects of their “beta”‘s dress or appearance that they consider low-class. My ex would do that all the time, being really rude and he-man to a total stranger and explaining it away by “did you see how douchey this guy looked?” And guess who else he always condescended to, even though he was a “feminist”? That’s right, yours truly.

      2. Samiratou*

        I was thinking more like a “nerdsplainer.” I’ve seen this phenomenon among my friends, and have almost certainly been guilty of it from time to time. It’s not meant to be condescending, it’s just people who may not have the best social skills who are really interested/excited about something and want to make sure you know all about it, without considering that you already do know about it or might not care (because who wouldn’t care about the Thing!?!).

        He might also be using you as a sounding board or something and you’re getting the brunt of his internal monologue turned outward.

        It might be worth it to address it to him directly, or he might get all offended and huffy, hard to say. I’d probably go with kind of tuning him out and going “mm-hm” and “huh” every once in awhile while continuing on with my work, but depending on where and when you get the lectures that might not work. If that’s the case, gentle interruptions with “sorry, gotta get this delivered!” or similar as an excuse to cut the convo short and hustle off.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Nerdsplaining is what I thought of too. It sounds a lot like my friend who likes to explain Doctor Who stuff to me. He’s more knowledgeable than I am and gets really earnest about it–I don’t mind because he’s adorable and clueless, unless it’s something I didn’t ask for.

        2. Solo*

          Yep. I have gotten called out on this a lot. After I deep dive into a topic, I often don’t have a good sense of what’s “easy”/well-known vs hard. I’ve learned to check in more often and poke fun at myself when I do it, but it’s still a deeply-rooted pattern of behavior. (Growing up, most of my friends were books, or adults.)

        3. Temperance*

          I consider that a form of mansplaining, BUT i’m a nerd and feel like it’s just as often gatekeeping nonsense as it is actual excitement.

        4. Close Bracket*

          Anytime you (generically, not you personally) are tempted to explain away rude behavior on the part of a man by saying “he’s probably just awkward,” don’t. Grown-ass men can learn social skills. The reason they don’t is not, for the most part, is not that they are somehow impaired in social learning. The reason they don’t, for the most part, is that they live in a position of privilege and don’t have to consider their words before speaking. Let’s stop treating them like awkward missing stairs and start calling them out.

    2. Grayson*

      Look at him quizzically and go “Yeah, I know.” Or something along the lines of expressing sincere confusion. Maybe parrot his own words back to him regarding his ability to talk to you about things because you “get it”?

    3. Dr Wizard, PhD*

      I think raising it with him directly will actually work far better, because he doesn’t seem the type to pick up on hints.

      I get you don’t want to confront him per se, but a sideways approach might bear fruit. Something along the lines of:

      ‘Hey John, you know you and I are the “tech folk” here, right? I’d rather chat with you about the specialised stuff only we get, not basics we both already know.’

      Then all future overexplaining of basics could be amusedly cut off with ‘Tech folk, remember!’

    4. CatCat*

      “John, I’ve noticed a pattern where you explain things to me that I already know even after I tell you that I know. What’s up with that?”

    5. Recently Diagnosed*

      I would be super tempted to turn around and do it to him back. Just explain something he clearly already knows in agonizing detail, then when he tells me he already knows that, just go wide-eyed and say “It’s almost like we’re on the same level or something!”

      But don’t do that. Instead, like others mentioned, a polite but direct approach will probably work best. Point it out consistently as it happens.

    6. Anonymous Ampersand*

      Can I stop you there… I’m not sure why you’re explaining this to me. I understand already!

      Good luck :-|

    7. strawberries and raspberries*

      Re: “You have to realize” and “you gotta understand” variety mansplainers

      When someone at my job did that enough times to me (mind you, I’m a manager, he’s not), I finally said, “Do you have reason to believe that I don’t understand [concept]?” John will probably bumble his way through a “No, of course not!” (as my colleague did), but maybe he will come back with some microaggressive nonsense about “I’ve been doing this a lot longer than you,” at which point you can just be like, “Okay, noted” and then document the hell out of every other patronizing thing he does that seems rooted in prejudice.

      It’s funny because we had a new guy start recently who did the very same thing to me (on his second day here, no less, while he was shadowing me), and I’ve had enough experience with guys like this that when my director asked what I thought of him I was completely honest about finding him patronizing and a little sexist, because that kind of attitude also potentially impacts the clients we work with and how we serve them. Lo and behold, he’s already offloading administrative duties onto his only female team member, but since I said something, they can view it as part of a pattern and address it faster. (NB: I’ve been with my org a long time and I’m a known quantity, so they take my view of these situations seriously, but YMMV.)

    8. ajaner*

      I recently had a similar experience, albeit in a very different field! I’m in a graduate program and a classmate responded to my critique of a concept with a long winded explanation of a very basic concept (that both nurture and nature contribute to our development). Although I indicated I already knew that and that it was not exactly pertinent to our current discussion, he launched into essentially the same explanation again. Since the prof was not wrangling the situation, I waited for a pause and said “Why do you think I don’t understand this?”; he trailed off and the discussion sort of got back on track.

      It’s very annoying, but I have gotten to the point where I don’t mind being direct about this. A work setting is more tricky than an classroom setting for sure, but professional behavior is highlighted in our program and my interruption was viewed as “unprofessional”. I wonder why his needing to explain an off-topic basic concept was not?

      1. J.B.*

        Noting “Why do you think I don’t understand this?” for future use. Nice approach!

      2. Julia*

        That’s infuriating. Why is it standing up for yourself is seen as interrupting? I‘m guessing because women shouldn’t talk so much or some other sexist crap. Ugh.

    9. Overeducated*

      Sometimes tech people who work primarily with non-tech people are just used to explaining everything from the ground up and have trouble keeping track of who has what level of knowledge. I agree with others that raising it directly would be helpful, and honestly, show off your knowledge intentionally around him for a bit…I hate to say it but being over the top a little can help shift perceptions and may help him move you back to the “expert” category in his mind.

      1. Sunshine on a Cloudy Day*

        Oh this is a good point! I work in a subject matter that most people consider pretty dry and overly technical (though, not at all in “tech”, think more along the lines of law). A big part of my job is getting people to do things that they see as silly/pointless/superfluous (but that actually have pretty serious, mostly financial, potential consequences if not done). I’m pretty good at explaining why these things need to be done and what the potential consequences are in a very clear, direct way, which does seem to go a long way in getting people to actually do these things. However, because most people are not all that familiar with the subject matter I do tend to start “from the ground up”.

        I conduct a small part of the orientation for new hires, and before I conduct that I ask about their familiarity so that I can gear my orientation spiel towards that, but yeah, I totally admit, after that it’s hard for me to keep track of who falls where on the spectrum of understanding and any issues that come up outside of orientation are given basic level understand explanations.

        Good food for thought though… That might be a good thing to try to pay a bit more attention to so that I don’t annoy the colleagues who do have some familiarity with the subject.

      2. Anion*

        That was my thought, too. There are things I over-explain because I’m just used to having to do so. John may simply be so used to explaining that it’s become a habit or almost a verbal tic, or he may not want to assume you know things and have you not follow, or any number of possibilities.

        Just laugh and says, “John. I already know this stuff, remember?” No need to get snarky or sarcastic.

    10. Elena*

      I have been in this situation a few times. It usually worked out in either me realizing I didn’t know as much as I thought, or cutting through the dross to get what I needed. And the same people got easier to work with and respected my knowledge more over time. In my experience, these are highly skilled people without a forte in communication, who have had to explain their work to completely clueless people, people who thought they know things but didn’t, people who don’t listen csrefuly, etc. – so now they cover their bases by being very thorough.

      I think it is most helpful to view the situation through a long-term lens, which means calibrating your communication approach to him over time and demonstrating your knowledge over time.

      Specifically: for short Q&As, if his answer has too much basic info but answers your question, say thanks and move on.

      If his explication is wasting your time, politely interrupt with, “hey, I know thr basics of X. I was wondering about modifying feature Y. Is it possible?” These detailed questions will also expose gaps in his knowledge and show whether he is actually full of it or not.

      If you ever work with him fod an extended period of time, I bet a lot od the friction will go away after a day or two of the aforementioned calibration. And you will have trained him for your successors ;)

      1. slipjac*

        I’ve had good success with just impatiently saying, “Yes, I know.” as soon as guys start doing that. I don’t want to spend more time on it, but I do want to make it clear the guy is wasting my time.

        1. LouiseM*

          Same here. It helps to show you’re surprised that they would think you DON’T know what they’re saying–because you are surprised! Of course you know it!

    11. MicroManagered*

      “You gotta understand”

      “I do understand, John, but what I’m focused on is X.”

    12. Wolfram alpha*

      I don’t see it as condescending or rude at all. I am a Jane in IT working with 99% of folks who don’t know what the start button.

      If I assume they know something then I get chewed out for not realizing “they don’t know everything” and if I guess wrong and explain something they already know then I am a “calling them stupid” it’s a tough balancing act.

      1. Jessie the First (or second)*

        Except that’s not the issue for Happy Friday – Happy Friday is in fact well beyond basic level, and her colleague knows this. Therefore, his launching into extended explanations of basic-level info – that he knows or should know that she’s got covered – is condescending.

        You’re talking about interacting with people who are tech-clueless. That is different.

        1. LouiseM*

          Exactly. Also, speaking as someone who DOES sometimes have to explain really “basic” stuff to others, it’s still extremely important to do that without seeming condescending. If this guy comes off as condescending it’s because he is.

    13. Triple Anon*

      I have the same problem. People often act as though I know less than I do. I’ve had some luck with just having direct conversations with people. I let them know how they’re coming across, ask if I did anything to provoke it, and emphasize that I’m sure they mean well and I want to work together better. The key is to make it a friendly, empathetic and nonjudgmental conversation, and to talk privately.

      When I don’t get a chance to talk to someone privately, sometimes raising the bar helps. Following a long winded explanation, say, “I know. But have you considered [XYZ really thought provoking thing]?” Some people will respect you more and stop being condescending after that. The downside is that if the person is a jerk, they might just feel more threatened and get even more condescending and mean. You have to guess whether it’s an ego thing or an ignorance thing.

      Sigh. There is no all around solution. Wishing you the best of luck!

    14. CM*

      I find that subtlety does not work with Johns. I had a coworker who was the worst and I stopped him once and said, “You don’t need to explain things to me on this level. I have a master’s degree in this area and am very familiar with what you’re telling me. Please assume I understand X and let’s focus on solving this problem. I think a possible solution is Y, but want to get your input.” And he said, “Oh, how nice. Well, in SCHOOL they may have taught you…” and he went right on mansplaining, but adding references to how I may have learned this in SCHOOL.

      In my experience the only things that remotely work are (1) repeatedly insisting that you know this and attempting to refocus him on the issue at hand, and (2) I hate to say this, but having a male coworker back you up, which it sounds like is not an option for you.

    15. BenAdminGeek*

      My take- set aside the weird verbal tic of You gotta understand” or “You have to realize” and focus on the rest. I’ve had mansplainers, nerdsplainers, and just normal folks who use that turn of phrase, so that may be just an oddity for him.

      The other stuff to me sounds like he keeps lumping you in with everyone else- he’s got a bucket of people who are “less technical than me on topic X” and you’re lumped in with Susie who knows absolutely nothing. The key is to get him to build a new category of “knows more than the rest” for you to sit in. Re-affirming your shared skills and knowledge seems like the way to do that.

    16. Not So NewReader*

      “John, when people tell you “I know” that means you are over-explaining and you need to stop.”
      This lays the ground work for the next time:
      “John, you are over-explaining again.”
      And the next time:
      “John, you know when you over-explain people think that you don’t think very much of their abilities. People can feel insulted.”

      Or you can play the time angle:
      “John, we spend a lot of time with you over-explaining things. Why don’t you check first to see if we need more explanation before launching into an explanation.”

      Or you could go with the courtesy angle:
      “John, what we are all doing here with each other is checking first before explaining. We look for a confused look on people’s faces or perhaps a direct question. Unless we have a direct question asked of us, we assume the person knows what we mean and we stick to the main points rather than long-winded explanations of each detail along the way.”

      Really, you are doing him a favor if you tell him about how he is impacting others.

      1. A Worker Bee*

        “John, we spend a lot of time with you over-explaining things. Why don’t you check first to see if we need more explanation before launching into an explanation.”

        Oh, I love this one. Thanks.

    17. Anonymous Pterodactyl*

      I have had luck with treating this sort of thing with its own condescension. When someone is overexplaining something like this, I give them a sort of bemused look and say something like, “Yep, that’s correct.” The key is to use a tone of voice that is a little bit patronizing, like, “good job! you got it!”, and also a little bit stern, like “why are you bothering me with this?”

      I will note that I mostly use this on friends/family; I haven’t had much call to use it at work and I can’t guarantee its efficacy in that context. Most often the person I’ve used it on has been unintentionally engaging in the offending behavior, and it has served as a snap to get them to wake up and realize what they’re doing. I would not recommend it on someone senior to you, but for a peer it might work.

      (I did not invent this method; I read it somewhere. It may have been in a prior AAM comments thread but I really don’t remember.)

    18. LouiseM*

      Ugh Happy Friday, I have nothing to add to the excellent comments here except my commiseration! Sadly, I have a few friends (luckily not colleagues) who do this all the time. Something that’s especially frustrating is it tends to be the men who are the most vocal about being feminist, and the ones who pat themselves on the back the most for telling other men not to do this to women, who do this the most to me. I have one friend who I love dearly, but I can’t tell you how many times he’s explained something he should have realized I knew better than he did. And it’s really frustrating because I’m also friends with his wife, who is a huge feminist, and he clearly takes a lot of pride in how “equal” their relationship is. I sometimes wonder how much he mansplains to her behind closed doors.

  6. Moth*

    About six months ago I took on my first “real” employee to manage (I’ve led teams before but never had someone report directly to me). I’ve tried to make the onboarding for Spock as smooth as possible, trying not to pull him into the rampant office politics going on, while still making sure that he’s getting to know people in the department. Overall it’s gone well and I’ve received a lot of positive feedback on how he’s doing.

    However, McCoy, another colleague, has latched on to Spock and talks frequently to him. The problem is that McCoy is known by most of us to be a malicious gossip and will often dig for the most benign of information and then run to Kirk, the department head, where he spins the information to try to gain points. Unfortunately, Kirk encourages this and people have gotten in trouble from misinformation spread by McCoy (there are clearly some deeper issues in the department that I’m not getting into here, but suffice it to say that Kirk has everyone looking over their shoulders). Those of us who have been burned by McCoy have learned to be very careful what we say to him.

    My question is: Should I warn Spock to be careful in speaking to McCoy? My inclination has been not to, I don’t want to seem like I’m badmouthing a colleague or telling Spock who to form work friendships with. But I do want to make sure Spock knows that gossip from McCoy can’t be trusted and, quite frankly, I’m worried McCoy will try to get some info out of Spock that he could spin to Kirk and try to get me in trouble as well. This isn’t Spock’s first job, but he is very trusting and seems to assume the best of people. Has anyone else felt the need to warn a trusting employee that someone else really shouldn’t be trusted?

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I would say give them general advice about there always being some people who like to gossip and spread conjecture and suspicion, and to stay neutral if people appear to be gossiping or digging. Of course, unless he’s new to the workforce he should know that, but it is probably the safest way (for both of you) to give a warning. That way you don’t predispose him against McCoy, and you don’t come out as calling him a…er, pot-stirrer. Even if he is.

      1. Alternative Person*

        Same. It’s good to know who the sharks in the water are even if you already know to calibrate your speech.

      2. Coywolf*

        Same here! I was brought into the company by one of the sharks though so it’s understandable that people didn’t think they needed to warn me about my “friend.” (I wasn’t her friend, I was a family friend and she ended up burning me)
        Is there any way, OP, that you can tell McCoy to back off from Spock given his track record?

    2. Gorgo*

      Can you frame it in a really diplomatic way that lays as little accusation on McCoy as possible? “Sometimes, things people have shared with McCoy have been misunderstood, and gotten back to Kirk in ways that don’t always put them in the best light.”

      1. Sunshine on a Cloudy Day*

        I like this wording a lot. Just very simple and to the point. I’ve been the Spock before; I am pretty open and trusting with people. Overall I like that about myself, but I would and do appreciate warnings. I also don’t take warnings like this as “holy gospel”. Ex: if I were Spock in this situation and my manager warned me about McCoy (in the way Gorgo suggests! If some just told me that McCoy “was mean” or to “be careful of my friendship” with McCoy I would probably dismiss it outright just because that’s not really helpful at all), I wouldn’t end my friendship with McCoy. However, I would probably be more cautious to share sensitive info until I felt like I had a better idea of McCoy’s true character.

        I guess my recommendation would be to issue a single pointed, but also diplomatic/neutral/factual warning to Spock. From there, though, you have to step back. You can’t get upset if your warning goes unheeded (or seems to go unheeded).

      2. Moth*

        Thanks, I really like this wording as well! I couldn’t think of a way to phrase it that didn’t come off as spreading gossip myself, but I think this doesn’t accuse McCoy of deliberately being malicious, while still hopefully getting the point across to be aware of what’s being said.

    3. Fortitude Jones*

      An old manager of mine warned me about a coworker very much like McCoy I made the mistake of “befriending” during a work conference. She didn’t outright say it, but she said something like, “Be very careful about the people you choose to associate with here. You have a very positive reputation with senior level executives here, and I don’t want anyone making any inferences about you or your character based on who they see you speaking to.” She didn’t say anything else – I took the hint because I trusted her judgment. Turns out this person was ultimately fired because she was on double probation and brought a gun to work. You just never know…

      1. Not So NewReader*

        How did you figure out it which person it was though?

        When I started working people told me stuff like this and I ended up not wanting to talk to anyone because I could not figure out who they meant.

        If you are going to say something, OP, either say who the person is or say nothing.

        Even looking back on it, I still don’t know which person they meant.

        1. Fortitude Jones*

          She and I were discussing this “friend”, and my manager knew her because the girl had applied to the training program I ended up getting hired for. My manager passed on her, but forwarded her resume along to another division in our company thinking she might be a good fit – nope. She wasn’t. Then my manager had to listen to that division’s griping about this coworker for a year until they finally fired her. When I brought her up and said we were friendly, that’s when my manager said, “Why? You two are very different kinds of people.” I asked what she meant, and she sidestepped it, then gave me the above warning.

    4. Starbucks Girl*

      If there is a potential that his job/reputation with management is at risk by being open and friendly with McCoy, I would definitely say something to Spock. Do it in a very matter-of-fact and no drama kind of way, such as “Just to let you know, McCoy has a history of stirring the pot and causing trouble for people, and we’ve found it best to not interact with him beyond simple work-related conversation”. Spock will probably press for details, so it might be helpful to provide an example, but be clear that you aren’t interested in adding to the drama by gossiping about McCoy and that you are just looking out for Spock. Don’t mention the part where you might get in trouble too, because then it seems more like you have a personal bias/vendetta against McCoy (at the very least, your advice would appear self-serving).

      That said, if management encourages this, there may be some higher level dysfunction going on that Spock is already aware of. However, I still believe you’d be doing Spock a courtesy to say something.

      1. Starbucks Girl*

        To add to my suggestion, I do agree with some commenters that calling out McCoy directly may not be the best option. However I personally would prefer to have someone be direct with me about this, particularly since I- like Spock- also tend to be overly trusting with people. But that approach does risk coming off as unprofessional, so I guess it depends on how well you know Spock and your relationship with him.

        1. Sunshine on a Cloudy Day*

          I’m with you on this – I personally would prefer a direct warning rather than a vague “be careful who you associate with” warning, just because (to me, though I might be an outlier here) vague warnings feel much more “gossipy”. Like if you tell me something directly and factually “hey, McCoy has done x before” it feels like your intent is to prevent the consequences of x from happening to me and I can clearly see the business reason for that (if there is one!). But with vague warnings, sometimes it’s hard to place where the intent is then I might wonder is it business or personal or what…

          That’s just me though – it does probably depend more on your relationship with Spock.

      2. Moth*

        Thanks, Starbucks Girl, that’s a good point to make sure to leave out any reference to the consequences gossip from McCoy might have on me. While I do have some concerns about it, I’ve dealt with McCoy for a while and I think I can deflect anything he tries to pin on me. But I don’t want Spock to be caught in the middle of something or end up realizing he got someone else in trouble without meaning to. So far, management really likes Spock and I don’t think that he’s necessarily at risk because of associating with McCoy (because the deeper problem is that management all have pretty dysfunctional styles and they like that they can get gossip out of McCoy that benefits them). But after reading these posts, I think it would benefit Spock to at least know to be cautious what he says.

    5. Hillary*

      I’ve also been Spock, but the warning came from a teammate, not my manager. I’m usually pretty cautious, but the warning was appreciated.

    6. Blue Eagle*

      If Spock were just a co-worker, I would keep out of it and say nothing. But the situation definitely changes if I was Spock’s manager, I would definitely say something.

      1. PhyllisB*

        Me too!! I actually knew the Star Trek references!! I am totally clueless when it’s GOT or Hunger Games references!!

      2. Moth*

        I do want to clarify that the naming choices were nothing personal against DeForest Kelly or the actual character of McCoy on Star Trek, both of whom I liked very much!

    7. Moth*

      OP here, I really appreciate the input on this. I had been thinking of it from my perspective, that I didn’t want to come off as spreading gossip, but I hadn’t really thought about it from the side of Spock. But it seems like people who have been in a similar situation have appreciated the heads up. I’m meeting with Spock on Monday, before I head out of town for a couple of weeks, and I think that I’ll bring it up very briefly in that meeting, similar to the wording some have suggested. I’ll probably mention McCoy by name, so that I’m not beating around the bush, but will try not to be accusatory. Spock and I have a pretty good relationship and I think that he’ll be receptive to the input.

      I forgot to say that Spock has been unintentionally caught in the middle of some drama with McCoy once before. Scotty needed some help analyzing warp speed data that previously McCoy had assisted on, but had since said he would no longer help with because now that we have new engines, that data doesn’t matter anymore. But Scotty is still required to analyze it, so he asked Spock to help, since Spock had previous experience with that kind of data too. McCoy found out and ran to Kirk angrily, because he said that he should be the only one to assist whenever looking at warp speed data. Even though he had previously refused to help… Spock seemed to notice that McCoy was acting a little odd there, but I’m worried that McCoy is now trying to badmouth Scotty and others to Spock. I think (hope) that Spock is smart enough to see through McCoy, but am worried that because he’s so trusting (and because McCoy can be so wily), that he might end up saying something unintentionally that gets someone else in trouble. And since Kirk has looking for reasons to write people up lately, no one needs any help with getting in trouble!

    8. Djuna*

      I did that with a colleague, it was a quiet conversation where I mentioned that she may like to take anything our office’s McCoy said with a grain of salt. As it turned out, I just solidified the opinion she was already coming to on her own but she was still grateful for the heads up.

  7. Anon anony*

    For those who are older and work with someone younger, or for those who are younger and work with someone older, how do you bridge the age gap? Is it an issue?

    I’m female and I work with a woman twice my age and while I don’t mind the age difference, I think she does. I do my best to be professional and nice, but it is getting a little wearing especially since others work so well together.

    She’ll make comments about how she is friendly with another co-worker because they are “the same age” and she’ll talk down to me/act like my boss (she isn’t). She’ll talk about how great other people are, as if to make me jealous/upset, which she doesn’t do with anyone else.

    She also talks and tells her friends stuff, but not me. I’m social with her, but it’s a one-way street. I don’t need to know what she is doing, but I need to know if she isn’t going to be around because then I have to do her work.

    If I get told or asked something, she’ll get upset and ask why they asked me (instead of her!)

    Everyone loves her though, so I feel like I’m going crazy or maybe there’s some gaslighting going on?

    Has anyone dealt with this before? Any advice?

    1. PB*

      I’m sorry. I’ve been in your shoes, and it sucks.

      As much as possible, I’d try to let the social stuff go. People are office friends with people they want to. I would also advise trying not to take her talking about other people being great personally. She may not mean it the way it’s coming across.

      However, work-related stuff you can absolutely address. For instance, if you get stuck doing her work unexpectedly because she didn’t tell you she’d be out of the office, bring it up when she comes back. You can do it nicely, like: “Hey, Jane. Yesterday, I ended up missing lunch because I didn’t know you had a planned vacation day, and I had to cover the phones. In the future, could you let me know if you know you’ll be out of the office? Thanks. I’ll make sure I do the same for you!” (Even though I’m sure you already are; it will just put her less on the defensive.)

      If need be, loop in your boss, especially if they’re supportive, and if you report to the same person. I ended up having to do this, after trying to address the issue myself. I was actually higher ranked than the older coworker who was giving me grief, but she was trying to show me who was #1 and nitpicking my work and calling out “errors” that were actually her not knowing current industry standards. After patiently explaining, and having her tell me, “Well, just do it my way,” I brought it up with our boss, who put a stop to it. Things weren’t perfect after that, but I wasn’t going home depressed and angry any more.

      I hope things look up.

      1. PB*

        I also want to add, to echo commenters below, she’s a jerk and using age as an excuse. I’ve worked with plenty of other people much older than me, and it’s never been a problem.

      2. LKW*

        She probably feels threatened and this is how she protects her turf. It’s not normal.

        I work with folks older and way younger. I love it but sometimes I have to add odd assignments to their workload because of it. Today I told my report that by the end of the month, she was to have watched “Spaceballs” because she needs to understand my pop culture references.

    2. Detective Amy Santiago*

      The coworker I am closest to has the same age difference to me that I have with my mom and it’s never been a problem. We get along really well.

      She sounds insecure. Your best bet is to remain strictly polite and professional in your dealings with her.

    3. ExcelJedi*

      No real advice, but this doesn’t sound like an age issue….it sounds like a bad colleague issue. Age just happens to be how she’s expressing her toxic self.

      I’d try to recognize it as her problem, not yours, and ignore it. If she gets visibly upset that someone asks you something instead of her, have you tried being direct and asking if she would give a different answer? That’s the only place I’m seeing where you could be direct about her behavior.

    4. Sack of Benevolent Trash Marsupials*

      I think this is ridiculous and I am 50 and many of my co-workers are in their mid-20s. I am friends with my co-workers (we do things outside of work), so my call here is that this woman feels in some way threatened by you, because her behaviors seem calculated to build a wall, not a bridge. Are you in a new role? Do your roles overlap at all? It sounds like she is worried about “her pile” being usurped.

    5. Ruth (UK)*

      That sounds like a rubbish situation to be in, though I’m going to say I think it’s this particular individual being odd about the age gap, not something that happens between people because of age gaps in general.

      I’m in my 20s, and a lot of my main social circle are in their 40s+ and some 65+ (due to the age range being typically older in some hobbies I’m into). I have also worked with colleagues of a variety of ages, and never found age-difference to be a big thing.

      The one thing that comes up a lot, I find, is “you’re too young to remember [x]” or “you won’t understand [reference]” comments or just generally other throw away comments like, “you can’t have back pain / high blood pressure / etc at your age!” or just generally “you’re SO young” / “I can’t even remember being [my age]” type things. I usually just ignore these – depending on the comment, I might choose to shrug rather than laugh, but sometimes I’ll laugh, depending on the tone, etc.

      Other than that, my only advice when talking to people of different ages is to just talk to them normally. This goes the other way too, and if I talk to teens or kids, I just talk to them like anyone else, and it normally goes well.

      But it sounds like you’re already trying to do this, and so I think it sounds like it’s just this particular person who has some issues. I think unless you’re willing to actively call it out as something you’re noticing and want to discuss (eg. ask her about it when she says she is friendly with other co-workers because they’re the same age. Like, really ask her to explain why that makes such a difference for her, and discuss it. Or ask her why it’s a problem if someone asks you something instead of her) then there might not be much you can do, except shrug it off and continue trying to be friendly. Or just default to politeness if it makes it easier.

      And try not to let it get to you, which I realise is easier said than done, but it’s her, not you. (And if it impacts your ability to do your job, then maybe discuss it with your boss)

    6. only acting normal*

      It’s not you: your coworker has a weird ageism problem. I’ve got one colleague who is nearing retirement, and another who is less than 5 years into her career, I’m bang in the middle. We all sit near each other and we get on fine, perfectly “office-friendly” and mutually supportive, because we’re professionals and we don’t act like children.

      Stay civil and professional (as you have been). Document any work problems her petty games cause so you can’t be blamed.

    7. Bea*

      She’s the one who’s dropping the ball. You’re doing everything right.

      My mom has a younger manager and has never had issues with the age gap. She’s friendly and becomes close to anyone because she has me a little later in life and is generally just used to my age range.

      This woman seems insecure and rude because you’re younger. It happens. Just stay chill and either she warms up and sees she’s doing herself a disservice by not accepting a different generation can and will continue work with her.

    8. Sparkles*

      I don’t have any advice but to say that I feel your pain. I am in my mid 20’s and work with someone who has grandkids older than me. If I have to hear the phrase “Those d@!$ Millenials” one more time I might punch a wall. She has TONS of vacation time and she will just call off and not tell me so I have to cover her (we are a two-person department) I ended up asking my boss to email me when she plans to be off because she wouldn’t tell me.

    9. Badmin*

      I directly reported to a woman (EA) who was 70+ when I was in my early 20s. She drove me nuts at times with how she did things, gossipiness, assumptions about other people and technical skills but I tried to focus on what I really liked about her, she was always really generous with telling me to not put PTO when I would leave early, we had a lot of fun together when setting up for events, she always got me a thoughtful gift for the holidays, and I learned a lot from her in terms of how to operate in a professional setting (what to do and what not to do), how sometimes you just have to do things you don’t want to, how to get stuff done when it seems impossible, which I am forever thankful for. She also had GREAT stories from her career that I also learned from. She had a wonderful personality too. I admired her a lot and felt like I picked up a lot of “old school” skills from her, e-mail less, phrases to use, etiquette? etc.

      1. DorothyP*

        I had a very similar first boss. She had A LOT of opinions about my life that were not what I wanted but I did learn how to operate in an office setting and definitely re-framed networking, which I had always thought was “icky” but learned that it’s not about just looking for people who can give you what you want and more about cultivating relationships with people who are doing good and interesting work and expanding your understanding of the field that you’re in.

    10. Kate*

      Echoing others that this sounds like it’s just her hang up. I work with a man 15 years my senior (I’m a woman), and we get along great including just socializing at lunch because we have a fair amount in common despite the fact that he is a married father of two and I am single and childless. You can usually find common interests if you try (and I’m mean that for her because it sounds like you are trying to be friendly).

      I wonder if you can use her getting upset when others ask you questions as an opening to reiterate you are equals though. Like, if she asks you why they asked you instead of her, ask, “Why shouldn’t they ask me?” Or something like, “Because I was here and have those answers too.” Or something more graceful that I can come up with.

    11. WorkingOnIt*

      I’m having a wonderful time vicariously through Glass Door at the moment. My old company is getting decimated on the site, it’s satisfying and makes me feel (somewhat) better about leaving the company – although I’m back to the job-hunt. It at least makes feel that I wasn’t making it up and it wasn’t me. Company now has someone responding to all these comments – when the comments are actually dreadful – like really awful – feel like it would be better to not answer than have a pat ‘please talk to us, we value your opinion’ comment. Think you need to do way more like actuall tackle management! But bless glass door .

      1. WorkingOnIt*

        Sorry this was meant to be a new comment! Not about age at all (although that was an issue at company too.)

    12. Triple Anon*

      I think she’s just being a jerk. I would ignore it and keep my distance. If it’s affecting your work, say something to her about that stuff. If that doesn’t help, make other people aware of the issue. But limit it to cause and effect work issues and try to leave the social stuff out of it.

      But, about bringing the gap, I would try to find common ground. Ask her about things that cross the age gap – cooking, tv shows, gardening, stuff like that. Or respectfully ask her to share her knowledge about something she would know more about, being older. Sometimes people just want to feel valued and respected, and if you communicate that, they’ll be nicer.

    13. Anonforthis*

      I am in my mid-thirties and manage an internal-transfer direct report in their mid-fifties…who applied for my job but didn’t get it due to a. not having the required experience, and b. general behavior issues which I now need to correct.
      To say its awkward is the understatement of the year. My report definitely bristles at being told what to do and their behavior/work isn’t acceptable by a manager 20 years younger. I am pretending not to notice and am sure to treat them the same as anyone else.
      I do have to address a HOST of childish antics…from a 55 year old. These include…complaining, gossiping, cliquishness, bullying/excluding other employees, negativity/rudeness, lateness, and prioritizing socializing over meetings and work deadlines. Sometimes I feel like I run a day-care for the middle-aged with all the nonsense that goes on at this place!

    14. Not So NewReader*

      When she talks about being friendly with someone because they are her age, you can say, “Age doesn’t bother me, I have had younger friends and older friends at work. Age does not matter that much because I can always find common interests. I am sure as you and I go along we will find common interests.”

      I wish we had examples of how she acts like your boss. There are some situations that are clear cut. “Anon, you need to work on Task C right now.” You push back because the boss told you to handle B right now. “Jane, the boss wants me working on B right now.”

      If she comes up with something that you are unsure about, tell her, “Let me check with Boss about that. It sounds like an okay idea but I better clear it first.”

      If she talks down to you, “Jane, in the eyes of the company I am your peer. I am capable of doing the same work you do.”

      I would start this whole process by hitting the situations that are clear cut. You know you are supposed to be working on B and the boss will tell you to move over to C if necessary. OR You know how to print out a document and you do not need further explanation. OR If it’s directly a work related issue where she needs to share information with you in order for you to do your job. Hit these clear cut examples first.

      This helps because sometimes a remark or a request is murky, it’s in the funny gray area where who knows if she is being condescending or bossy or non-inclusive. If you just target the things you are sure of you will probably have enough to work with right there.

      You can work into this and find approaches for handling things that are in a murky area as you go along. OTH you might decide to just target a few repeat behaviors. “Jane, I know when my lunch break is you do not have to tell me it’s time to go on lunch every day.”

      You may want to befriend HER friend. The friend may not realize what Jane is doing and Friend could turn into your biggest advocate. “Jane, leave Anon alone, she KNOWS the flippin’ job.”

      It could be that your age reminds her that life is going past her, she should have done more with her life. She should be out ahead of where she is now. This is tough, because people do mourn the “should haves” and “could haves” in life. If you do by chance find out this the case, you can show her how she can genuinely help you. All of us, no matter what age, can usually find something that we do not do well. Maybe she’s good at X and you aren’t. Ask her to help you get up to speed. People of any age want to know their work is of value, this is a good thing to keep in mind that we all share this.

    15. aes_sidhe*

      I’ve been on both sides of this one. I don’t have an issue with the age gap either way, but the me being younger was an issue for the older colleague. She was admittedly not tech savvy at all, and she had been in the legal field as a paralegal for around 25 years. I’ve been at the same law firm for 11 years and have always reported directly to the firm president. The VP partner was working on a huge case (it was a national story) where a lot of documents had been produced by our client. Unfortunately, it’s he client used Mac while our entire office is Windows based (didn’t know it until the VP partner had me looking at why they couldn’t get the info off the external hard drive.) The older colleague that was the paralegal to the VP partner found out and got furious when she asked me what was going on, and I just said, “I’d rather wait until Dean (the VP partner) and Sam (who was the associate assigned to the case) gets back from lunch so I only have to go over all of this once.” It seemed like a totally rational thing to say. She started screaming and yelling, slamming doors/drawers, and stomped out of the office in a huff and wouldn’t talk to me at all. Thankfully, she quit not long after.

    16. Double A*

      I’m a teacher in my 30s and my aide is in her late 50s, and she’s previously been a teacher, though in a pretty different capacity. We have a somewhat strained relationship for a lot of reasons, and I’ve struggled with her being defensive about feedback and generally not internalizing feedback. Part of that is just how she is in this job (we work with a very challenging population and she just really doesn’t have the personality for it), but I’ve often wondered if my age might add a layer of difficulty in her accepting feedback or in taking cues from me.

      We had a tough but good one-on-one conversation about some of this stuff, and it’s improved somewhat. But since I’m kind of in a supervisory role for her, it both adds to the awkwardness but also means she needs to listen to me more. So I’m an advocate of direct communication. Maybe you don’t need to address her apparent ageism, but do address the things that are directly impacting you, like her not informing you when you’ll need to pick up her work.

      1. aes_sidhe*

        Thankfully, this woman quit, but I will say she got more abusive the closer it got to her last day. I got the impression she thought she could find a job easily, and she hadn’t found a job before she actually left. I don’t know what happened to her after she left. When my direct boss, who is probably the most oblivious human being on earth noticed, I knew I wasn’t imagining it.

    17. PhyllisB*

      Well, I’m on the other side of that equation. At 67, I am always the oldest one in any group I work with. This doesn’t bother me, but it gets a bit tiresome to tell people they don’t have to call me Miss Phyllis or Mrs. B. I don’t bother telling them not to say m’am because this is the South and that’s just part of the culture. I say it myself to others all the time, even younger people because it’s a way to show respect. Aside from that, most of the people I’ve worked with seem to like me, but I don’t act like this woman, either. And I am very careful not say “Well, when I was your age.” If there is a reason to reference that, I usually say something like, “when I was younger, you know, when dinosaurs roamed the earth…” this usually gets a good laugh and we have a productive conversation.

      1. aes_sidhe*

        Personally, I think she an abusive person in general, because she’d act the same way after talking to her son. I think a lot of her problem was used to being a bully, but I don’t play that at my age (39 and rapidly heading towards 40 at an alarming rate, ha!) The closer it got to her final day it seemed to escalate to the point I finally had a talk with my direct boss. He just said to keep doing what I was going and to remember she’d be gone in a few days.

        This lady was a replacement for the paralegal that, while we didn’t get along personally, we were at least professional and would willing help the other when needed. The crazy lady’s replacement is 30, and we get along great. It’s completely different from the other two, and it’s like a breath of fresh air.

    18. A Moose for Twos*

      Yeah, a couple of times actually. In each case it was an issue of them being really insecure about having to treat someone younger than them as a peer, which is just such a weird thing to get hung up about. I can’t really get my head around why so many of my coworkers over the years seem to feel compelled to keep the youngins in their place. I don’t really have any advice since this is all about them and their feelings, honestly, I’ve never found any approach to really make a difference.

      It’s continued into my 30’s and I can only assume it has to do with me being petite, which makes some people read me as being a good decade younger. Interestingly, only the people hung up on age seem to do this– my coworkers who are chill about it always guess 30ish for my age, but the ones who are weird about it always want to put me as a recent grad. I noticed I never get this attitude from people who work in different offices, thus not seeing me in person, so I can’t help but feel the appearance is part of it and also that the people who care are actually trying to size you up.

  8. Cynthia*

    I’ve been in my position for a few months now and today my co-worker showed me a job ad for a position that is similar to mine at another company. I think it was something that they found from job postings that they receive, but still….

    I’m not sure how to take it. Do they think I should leave? Do I look unhappy or something? Is this a bad thing?

    Any thoughts?

      1. stefanielaine*

        Yeah, the person to ask why your coworker showed something to you is your coworker. It sounds like she showed it to you, and was just silent, and then you were just silent, and then……nobody said anything? Just ask!

        1. Cynthia*

          I wasn’t silent- I said something about it maybe being a temp job and we had a little conversation. I then left to go to a meeting.

    1. PB*

      That’s weird. If it just happened this once, I’d let it go. Sometimes, people do weird things. If it happens again, you might want to address it in the moment. Maybe something like, “Thanks, but I’m not looking right now!” If she keeps doing it after that, I’d switch to, “I’m confused. Why are you showing me job postings?”

    2. Chaordic One*

      Have you been complaining about your job or the pay? The only way most people get a significant raise any more is by moving to another company (unless you’re happy with 2 to 3% annual raises). Maybe she thinks she’s doing you a favor.

      1. Cynthia*

        Things have been stressful, but that’s the culture. They all complain. I was frustrated with the work, but not to the point of saying I’m job hunting. I don’t know. I don’t know her well enough to know of her intentions. I like her, think she’s smart and funny, but she does have a snarky side so I don’t know.

    3. Fortitude Jones*

      Yup, ask. Personally, I wish someone would send me some job leads so I can GTFO, but alas, I’m stuck digging on my own until god knows when.

    4. Delphine*

      It’s odd. I can’t imagine showing a coworker a job posting unless I knew they were looking. You should ask!

    5. AnotherLibrarian*

      I wouldn’t read much into it. I sometimes pass along job ads to folks that I see on the professional list serves I’m on if they look like something they might like.

  9. Detective Amy Santiago*

    My professional life has been a bit of a roller coaster the past few weeks (but in largely good ways). Two weeks ago, I came to work on Monday and learned that my incompetent coworker quit. So that was a huge plus.

    Then, I started getting some results from my job searching. Since last Friday, I had a phone screen for Position 1, an in-person interview for Position 2, a phone screen for Position 3, and today I have an in person interview for Position 1.

    Position 2 is the one I’m really hoping for, but it’s just so exciting that things are finally happening.

    1. Maude Lebowski*

      Detective Amy Santiago, congrats on the new quit / leads, but did you see the ref to the Babysitter’s Club above?

    2. The Original K.*

      I’m in the same boat re: things happening with a job search! I had phone screens for Jobs 1 & 2 this week and have an in-person for Job 3 next week. Fingers crossed for you!

  10. LDP*

    So, I have reason to believe that my company is going to be under new management soon. I don’t know anything for sure, but my boss has given me a few hints, and I think that’s the “big news” she’s been referring to. For a little background, I work at a mall. It’s owned by one company, and they pay another to manage it. I’m technically employed by the management company, not the owners. So, I’m a little nervous that I might get laid off in the next few weeks. Does anyone have any advice? Any tips on what you wish you had known before getting laid off? I’ve never been through anything like this, and I’m trying to get my ducks in a row the best that I can. I’ve only worked here for about 8 months, and my entire job history before that has been internships, so the thought of going through the job hunting process again is incredibly daunting. Thanks in advance for any advice!

    1. Alternative Person*

      My contract unexpectedly didn’t get renewed (after orally agreeing a new one but that’s a different story). Update your CV now and start trawling job boards. Sock away any additional cash you can if possible. If health insurance is a thing for you, get any essential prescriptions/check ups done ASAP. Research what the process is for unemployment benefits.

      Keep in mind though, you might not get laid off, so don’t feel pressured to take a not good job because you’re worrying. Take your time and do your research.

      1. LDP*

        I spent most of last night updating my resume, thank you for reminding me about insurance! I’ll make an appointment with my doctor today to get that squared away.
        I’m trying not to stress about it too much, because I know it may not even happen. The one thing nagging at me is that my job history right now would look really spotty since it’s just short internships and now this job that I haven’t even been at for a year. My hope is to stay here for about two years before moving on, so I’d hate to jump the gun and start the application process prematurely.

    2. Tmarie*

      I worked for that company, at a mall, for twenty years. My property was an under-performer so when it was sold, we were all laid off. BUT, if what I know about that company is still true, they have already sold off under-performing centers, so your center is probably a top performing center. Not knowing what job title you hold, I think that you are probably fine. The new company is still going to need the center to operate post acquisition. So, just hold tight and hope for the best, IF you actually enjoy the job you do.

      Best wishes.

      1. LDP*

        It’s nice to see there’s someone else from the property management world! :) If the gossip I’ve heard around here is true, it’s more that the company that owns our property and the management company have some bad blood between them (mainly due to who has final say over how things are run). So, it’s not based on performance. The company that the rumor mill says they’re bringing in to manage us already has staff on site here (we have office towers attached to our mall), so my concern is that they’ll do a clean sweep and put their people in here. I’m just a marketing admin, so pretty much the lowest person on the totem pole around here.

        1. Tmarie*

          And marketing is always treated poorly in that company. Yeah, I’d update my resume, lock down some references. Sorry!

          1. LDP*

            Well, I’m glad I have at least some sort of heads up. Guess I know what I’ll be doing this weekend. I think the worst thing is that right now my productivity at work is completely shot. I’m feeling so unmotivated to work through my to-do list if I won’t be working here much longer. :(

            1. A Worker Bee*

              I understand feeling so unmotivated to work through your to-do-list if you won’t be there much longer, but please don’t give into that since you may need a good reference from your current manager. Good luck whatever happens!

        2. Marcel*

          Your phrase is inaccurate and incorrect. The low carving on the totem pole has higher honour than the ones on top. It makes no sense what you wrote.

          Also, the totem pole is a scared thing to many Native groups and throwing it around in such a phrase is offensive to us, especially when it is used in an inaccurate context.

          1. Alicia*

            I had no idea that this phrase was incorrect! I’ve heard it for years in many different contexts (business and otherwise). Thank you so much for sharing and clarifying.

    3. Hillary*

      I worked property management briefly years ago. The management company is still there even though the property’s been sold multiple times. It’s pretty rare that a new owner, especially an REIT, will want to change management companies in the short term. Contracts usually stick with the property, not the owner. It never hurts to polish your resume and save up some cash if you can, but try not to worry.

      1. LDP*

        That’s good to know. My issue is that the owner is firing the management company (supposedly). Which is what makes me worry. But almost everyone else here is acting like “business as usual”, so hopefully it won’t be too bad. But I’m still nervous.

    4. Pinky*

      I got laid off completely unexpectedly last year, less than a year after I’d been promoted into that position. (I was the main person who handled inquiries about treatment options at a patient advocacy nonprofit, so I was pretty blindsided when they told me they were eliminating my position.) I got some severance and was able to get unemployment, but the last time I was jobless it took me a year to find employment, so I was pretty upset and anxious.

      What I wish someone would have told me is that, especially if you don’t have a ton of work experience, temp agencies are your best friend. A month after losing my job, when my severance was just about to run out and I hadn’t heard anything back from any of the jobs I’d applied to, I started sending my resume to temp agencies. Within two weeks they found me a temp job that, two months later, turned permanent. At the very least, a temp agency might be able to find you a job that tides you over until you find something better on your own.

      1. LDP*

        Temp agencies are great! I worked with one way before I got this job. I’ll definitely reach back out to them if I’m having trouble finding something on my own!

      2. Fortitude Jones*

        Cosign temp agencies. I was even sent on marketing admin interviews through a few of them in my city after I graduated college, so LDP, you might want to look into that avenue as well as a backup plan.

    5. Q*

      Back up anything you have saved to your work computer that you would want/need after you are gone. This includes contact information for people you work with/for. You haven’t been there long but if you have a lot of personal items on your desk, start taking them home or cleaning them up. When I saw my layoff coming I made sure there wasn’t anything at work that was important to me or that I couldn’t replace. (When you were laid off, you were escorted to the door by security. You did not get to go back to your desk. They were well known for not bothering to pack and send your belongings until months later.)

      And even though you see it coming, it will still come as a bit of shock when you finally get the news.

      1. LDP*

        My one question with not being able to go back to your desk after you’re let go, I understand that from a safety type of standpoint, but I can’t take my entire purse with me into every meeting. And that’s where I keep my car keys, so I couldn’t leave the premises without that…I’m mainly just curious with how that actually plays out, since I’ve never been around when anyone’s been laid off, so this is entirely new territory for me!

        1. Tmarie*

          Although you’ve only been there less than a year, if they lay you off, there will probably be a severance package, and an end date given. I had four weeks notice and enough time to empty the center of all collateral that mentioned the original company name, plus I had time to read, review and sign paperwork about the severance. On my last day I turned over my keys to the maintenance employees who were staying on.

        2. Fortitude Jones*

          I had a coworker recently just get laid off after coming back from vacation. My company let her go back to her desk to get her purse and coat, box up her personal items, and then they told her they’d mail her her box (they did). Her manager also made sure her coworkers weren’t around when she was let go so she wouldn’t be embarrassed.

  11. Charlie Bradbury's Girlfriend*

    People who have done:
    ~Peace Corps
    ~Teach for America
    I want to hear all about it! Pros, cons, stories, warnings, tips, etc. (Thank you to hermit crab for inspiring this curiosity in me about these programs!)

    1. vista alum*

      I did AmeriCorps VISTA June 2015 – June 2016. My advice is to make sure you do your year of service in a program that has lots of other members to connect with and hang out with. Also, be very careful with money – I ended up getting into some debt because the pay is so low. I ended up getting hired in the office I did my year of service in full-time, and I attribute that to going way above and beyond my VAD (the description of your job) I did work for more than my direct boss, took over duties of someone who quit, and volunteered to go out and table at events.

      1. Grayson*

        Is there an age limit on it? Would you recommend it to a mid-career professional looking to transition to an early-career position that has academic knowledge but lacks field experience? (I’d be shifting from military/security consulting to peacebuilding, which is a goal of mine anyways.)

        1. vista alum*

          Nope, no age limit. I worked with someone who had retired from one career. It really depends on the program, for example, my sister absolutely hated her experience in a different city. I would look into programs that have a lot of support from a VISTA leader and a great boss in the actual office placement. Also, make sure you are capable of living on about $800 a month. It sounds like you might be looking more towards the Peace Corps, which is pretty different than VISTA, though.

    2. AK*

      I was a NYC teaching fellow (other cities also have programs) and this entitled me to also be an AmeriCorp member my first year. NYC teaching fellows is similar to TFA in that they take people who don’t have an education background and train them to teach. The NYC teaching fellows also paid for most of my Masters (I paid 6000 dollars over 2 years) which ensured I would have a teaching license after 2 years. Something to keep in mind for teaching fellows is that they do not guarantee that you get a job the summer after your training, you need to go out and find a job. There are plenty, so it isn’t too hard, but it is something to think about. In TFA they help find you interviews,, but you are required to take the first job you are offered, whether or not you like it (this was true at least 6 years ago when I started). Also- with TFA you don’t have any control over what city you are in (really) If you are interesting in teaching, I recommend NYC teaching fellows. I felt decently trained by the time I started in my own classroom. Good luck!

    3. AMK*

      I’d also recommend looking at NYC teaching fellows (or teaching fellows in general). I wrote a long post, that didn’t manage to post and I don’t have time to re-write it all. But I really thought it was a great program when I did it 2012-2014.

    4. RPCV!!!*

      I did Peace Corps in West Africa 2011-2013! I was an agricultural volunteer in a hot and humid village with no running water… but got electricity about 1 year in (game changer). It was the best and worst and most important days of my life. The program has been revamped since I served, and I think it’s for the better. Volunteers now have access to 3G/internet connection and smartphones are a thing. Even in 2011-2013, cellphones were just becoming a necessity in the program and we were strongly advised to not flaunt our wealth aka electronics.

      Pros: once in a lifetime experience, awesome friendships, changes your whole world, learn how to work with a completely different culture and language, learn incredible patience, and a sense of freedom that I don’t think I’ll ever have again in my life. 5 years later and I still rely on my experience for my current job in int’l development.

      Cons: It’s really hard, especially if you’re a woman. You might have a job that obligates you to work a typical schedule like in the US. You might have a job that has no structure and you end up reading over 200 books over the 2 years. You can get really sick a lot. And, it’s really hard. Did I already say that?

      Stories: oh boy do I have many. Find your local RPCV group (Returned Peace Corps Volunteer) and ask that question (and plan to spend about 5 hours listening to poop stories).

      Tips: It’ll be hard to go in without any expectations. I’d say have the expectation that your expectations will never be met. Try to go with the flow and enjoy yourself. Check in with yourself every three months to see if you’re happy and if you want to stay. The people who came in with the expectation to work! And save babies! And have something to do! All the hours! Do all the things! were the ones that were very let down and ended up quitting. It’s more of a cultural exchange experience than a work experience (unless you are teaching).

      Peace Corps likes to remind everyone that flexibility is key, a sense of humor is essential, and a good attitude will take you far. I agree.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Our exit training explicitly spelled out, “When you return to the US, your most recent bowel movement is not a normal topic of conversation with colleagues.”

          1. Julianne*

            Those stool sample tubes were the worst. I will not share how I managed to capture my sample.

    5. TCO*

      I did Lutheran Volunteer Corps, which is a service year program with some similarities to AmeriCorps (and at the time, provided AmeriCorps education stipends). It was a great experience. I work in nonprofits, and my service year (which I did right after graduating college) gave me a great start to my career. It’s a common path into nonprofit/government work and I have many, many friends who did various service year programs. I felt like I got to do work at a higher level than what I would have done in a more traditional entry-level job, which gave me a leg up when entering the job market after my volunteer year.

      For me, one of the most appealing but most challenging aspects of my service program was that the volunteers all lived together in intentional housing communities. It meant that my program was immersive–I didn’t just go to my job and then live the rest of my life free of my program. My program offered a lot of support (housing, mentoring, retreats, and a supportive community) but living in an intense situation with roommates you didn’t choose can be really tough. I grew a lot but it wasn’t easy.

      I highly recommend service-year programs but they can be tough financially. Be really honest with yourself about your budget as you consider one of these programs. Can you afford your expenses (phone bill, car insurance, rent, etc.) on your volunteer stipend? Are you willing to give up on financial luxuries? Do you have savings or family support in case of a financial emergency? Are you willing to apply for and receive food stamps (some programs expect this of their volunteers, mine didn’t)? Can your student loans be deferred? Each program is different, so if one program doesn’t work for your financial situation another one might.

      The Catholic Volunteer Network has a great searchable web directory of domestic and international service programs, and their list includes programs of non-Catholic and non-religious traditions despite the network’s name.

      1. einahpets*

        Former Jesuit Volunteer here! I also appreciated living in a community house with other volunteers… most of the time (heh). In our city/region, we’d also connect with other volunteer groups + other jesuit volunteer houses for retreats / cheap (super cheap) parties when we could.

        And yea, we joked that within the first month we were living the real world motto – “when people stop being polite, and start being real”. In our house, we had all just graduated college and were new to this city + working pretty intense community service jobs.

    6. Another VISTA Alum*

      My advice would be to choose your organization/position carefully, as this seems to really make or break the experience. You will be scraping by on very little while your coworkers/managers/everyone around you are working a regular job, and that can feel crappy if they are not supportive and if the work is not fulfilling.

      I did AmeriCorps in 2016 when I was a more recent college grad, and I would definitely say it helped kick-start my nonprofit career and gave me many more options. However, I could have achieved the same result through other means–it just would have taken longer. For example, I could have started in an entry-level position and worked me way up to my current job, and it would have probably taken 3-4 years, but I’d be paid a living wage for those years. It’s important to weigh the pros and cons for your individual situation. I’d also hoped that I would be making more an impact in my community during my service, but it’s hard to tell if an organization is truly doing meaningful work from the outside. If you work a regular job, you can leave and find a different one. In a year of service (at least with AmeriCorps VISTA), you are stuck at your organization and if you leave, you give up your education award and have basically wasted the time you spent already.

      I also agree with the other alum about choosing a program with other service members to hang out with. It’s key in not feeling isolated during your service, and those social connections can last for long after your year has ended!

      I also accrued some debt during my year. When I was renewing my lease halfway through my year of service, my apartment building give notice that they would be raising my rent by over $250/month–but I made so little that I was unsure if I’d even get approved for a different apartment (I live in a very competitive rental market, and they always look at how much you make).

      When I didn’t give notice in time (they only gave me 3 days to decide if I could afford it), they automatically renewed my lease at the higher rate, and even charged me a month-to-month fee! It was basically a $1,800 bill for not being able to be sure that I would find another place to live. This is just one example of how being poor begets being poorer. Be prepared and if possible, have some savings going in so that you’re not worried about how you’ll handle something like this.

      1. Future Homesteader*

        Yes, choose your organization carefully! I did two years of AmeriCorps and they were radically different. The first time around, I had no support from my office and not enough work to do and it sucked. The second time was more like being at camp, but I was already a good four years older than everyone else and I was really ready to get into a real-world job, so I didn’t enjoy that aspect at all. That said, they were both great experiences in that I learned to be flexible and how to deal with all kinds of bosses, coworkers, volunteers, and community members.

    7. the gold digger*

      I joined the Peace Corps as a business development volunteer in Chile after I got my MBA. Professionally, it was the most interesting, most fun job I have ever had in my life. I was the business adviser to a co-op of about 140 indigenous women who wove and sold their traditional textiles. My charge was to increase their (or create some!) profits. I helped some and learned a lot, but their business model – where the employees of the business were paid (from a grant from the Inter-American Foundation) regardless of sales – was not a good long-term one. I wanted them to be able to survive on store revenues and that never happened.

      The negatives were that

      1. I was cold all the time. All. The. Time.
      2. It was very lonely. I was in a city of 250,000 people, but the Chilean women I would meet at the gym or wherever had known all their friends since kindergarten and they weren’t looking for new friends.

      I would totally do it again, though, and have suggested to Primo that maybe we join the Peace Corps when we retire.

    8. Ingray*

      I was also a Peace Corps volunteer in West Africa but in 2003-04. I had a horrible experience and quit after 6 months. But the thing about the Peace Corps is every country has its own administration and can be run pretty differently. We had some volunteers in our group that had been evacuated from another country due to troubles there and their experiences there were vastly different. Even though my experience was difficult I did learn to have an entirely new appreciation for a lot of little things we take for granted in the developed world and I hope to carry that with me for the rest of my life. The bad experiences I had there also help keep things in perspective for me now.

    9. GD*

      My sister was an AmeriCorps VISTA right after undergrad and ended up leaving early because of how severely underutilized she was (a gentle euphemism for literally had no work to do)– it wasn’t a decision that she took lightly, either, since she was so excited to be in the program in the first place. I’m not sure how much of a two-way street the application process is but I’d echo what’s already been said in making sure that the position is a good fit for you– which might include asking about what previous VISTAs have done/management styles/office environment, etc.

    10. Former TFA Corps Member*

      I did TFA in 2010, and had a positive experience – I’m still in the field of education, though in a slightly different capacity now. More than 50% of the people in my cohort are still in the classroom, and many are in other education-related gigs. Looking at your list, it seems like you may be interested in social justice, or helping-people-and-communities, broadly speaking. As a program, TFA has a very specific mission. I’d spend some time reflecting on whether you’re also extremely passionate about that mission, because teaching is a tough gig and some days you need a larger purpose to sustain yourself (and also, they’re pretty good – but obviously not perfect – at weeding out applicants who don’t care deeply about expanding educational equity). When I was thinking about my role in the world, I realized that many of the issues that I wanted to address all come back to issues of education, so TFA was a good fit. So that’s what I recommend for you; spend some time finding patterns in what you care about, and then spend some time learning about how these organizations can support your work in that area.

      1. Double A*

        Yes, I was going to say, if you’re looking into TFA, please actually be interested in teaching/educating, and not just “helping underprivileged youth.” Teaching requires extensive professional skills, both in terms of content knowledge and behavioral management. The training will not prepare you for the job (I don’t think any teacher training really does), and the first year of teaching is a meatgrinder even if you’ve been through a full training program.

        1. Julianne*

          +1000 (maybe more)

          Honestly, don’t do TFA if your current goal is anything other than spending the next ~5 years in the classroom. Preferably more. The only thing career teachers have less patience for than TFA-types who are solely there for a two year poverty tour on their way to some other career is administrators or instructional coaches who came into those roles straight out of TFA.

          1. Anon TFA Alum*

            I disagree with this advice. I think being passionate about teaching and educational inequity is a prereq for having a successful TFA experience, but I don’t think wanting to stay in a classroom for 5+ years is.

      2. Bay Area TFA*

        Also an alum, from around the same year and still working at a school in the community I was placed, and I agree with this and the folks below. Only thing I’d add is to research the sustainability of the regions you preference–some are potentially getting closed in the next few years, which impacts their credentialing partnerships, the costs, etc. And speak to alums and current teachers, not just staff members–sometimes they have outside motivations for painting a rosy picture of what the experience is like.

    11. Falling Diphthong*

      Peace Corps. Pro: Gets you out of your comfort zone, in a way that will make future endeavors easier. (For example, I used to dread public speaking. Now if I can do the public speaking in English, it’s no big deal.) Cons are along the lines of culture shock and how easy it is to feel isolated–two years can feel long if you’re lonely. (We would bond instantly to random Americans (PC from other countries) we found in the market and invite them to come stay with us, and had it happen to us when we traveled.)

      A friend did Teach For America and found it similarly really positive and a way to give herself a lot of new challenges.

    12. LizB*

      I did AmeriCorps for two years. It ended up being a great stepping stone into my current nonprofit career; I was in a program and site where I was wearing a dozen different hats and really growing my skills in several areas, so I had lots of impressive accomplishments to talk about when it came time to interview elsewhere. A few tips:

      – If your program will allow it, apply for food stamps. In many cases they calculate your living stipend with the expectation that you’ll apply for assistance, and having that extra grocery money will be super helpful if you’d like to eat non-frozen vegetables on a regular basis. (Also, some farmer’s markets take EBT!)

      – Your education award (the chunk of $ you get at the end) will be taxed as income in the year you use it, and you can’t use any of the money from the award to pay the taxes because it has to be used for education expenses. They didn’t tell me that until near the end of my first year, and I wished I had known earlier so I could have been more strategic and saved up to cover the extra taxes.

      – Take advantage of all the professional development and skill-building opportunities you can. My program paid for ten months of life coaching for all participants through some deal they had, and that was super helpful for me in figuring out where I wanted to go next to my career and in building my confidence.

    13. Gene Parmesan*

      I did Peace Corps in 2004-2006. It has changed quite a bit since then in terms of the application process–now you are able to select what country and job you want to apply for. When I went, you just took what they gave you. I worked in Uganda in education and HIV/AIDS prevention. I *LOVED* my volunteer experience. I’m so glad I did it.

      -Get to travel and experience another culture from a deeper perspective than as a tourist
      -Looks great on a resume
      -Do work that makes a difference

      -Huge lifestyle adjustment that requires lots of planning (storing your belongings; arranging to pay income taxes and get absentee ballots to vote abroad, etc.)
      -Health issues–everyone gets gastrointestinal illness at some point; may have to take malaria prophylaxis long-term

    14. Ann Perkins*

      I did an AmeriCorps affiliated program through the Catholic Volunteer Network the year after I graduated from college in 2009 and loved it. There were very few jobs at that time and I didn’t want to do grad school, so it was a great way to get some real world experience before entering the work force. My advice:
      -Vet the organization thoroughly. I do know of people who have done volunteer programs and it was nothing like what they were told it would be and it was awful.
      -Be realistic about finances. You need to know what the organization covers and what you’re expected to cover. The one I did was one of the more generous ones – we got room and board, could use donated supplies like toiletries, use of a car and were on their car insurance, health insurance, and decent paid off time. The monthly stipend was $350 but really my only bill was my cell phone bill. It really skews your perspective of money though when going out to eat is literally your entire day’s net pay.
      -Know yourself and really think about what you’re looking for. Do you want to live in a house with 8 people and have a strong sense of community? Would you rather have your own apartment and guaranteed down time alone every day to recharge? Do you want to teach, do grunt work, travel, social work…? Figure out answers to those questions and it will help you narrow down what you’d like to do.

    15. persimmon*

      My AmeriCorps experience was really very similar to having any other kind of entry-level professional nonprofit job, except that the job wouldn’t have existed without AmeriCorps funding. I definitely would not have been interested in a rah-rah vibe, co-housing, etc., which exists for some AmeriCorps sites but definitely not at others. Working at that nonprofit was a great opportunity, and those experiences, where I had a lot of responsibility, have remained a good talking point and resume item years later even though I’ve switched fields. I worked in a rural area, which was a little isolating at times, but made the stipend relatively livable. I also found the job through Idealist, which is much easier to navigate than the barely-usable AmeriCorps website, and does have a number of AmeriCorps postings.

    16. Lindsay J*

      My cousin did Teach for America and she didn’t have a great experience.

      She felt really overwhelmed and undeprepared for the actual realities of managing a classroom day-to-day. I think she envisioned it being like a movie where the kids were tough at first, but then she would win them over and come around and they would fall in love with her at the end and she would help them achieve all their goals.

      And that’s not reality. The kids were tough, and remained tough. Even for some of the highly motivated ones, they had so much crap going on in their lives outside of school that the reality was that they weren’t going to be able to go to college or do anything other than work a job in the town they currently lived in. Enforcing rules was difficult because the kids parents didn’t have time to care that their kids were in trouble, or enforce discipline if they did care because they were working two or three jobs to make ends meet. It just seems like (for her) it was all overwhelming and bleak and depressing and she was happy when her term ended.

    17. The Strand*

      Three of my closest friends did do Americorps. I cannot emphasis enough: the pay is staggeringly low.

      In the case of one friend doing social work in a major US city – all of the Americorps people at one job lived together, because they couldn’t afford a place otherwise. It was very intense for my friend. She could never leave the rough environment where they were living and working, and never really leave the people she was working with. She was very burnt out that year.

      Another friend worked in a rural area with a lower cost of living. She was able to rent a decent house with roommates and get some time away from the work, which she loved.

      I would strongly suggest if you go this path, you read the Reddit on Americorps. Then you learn a lot about the potential placement. It’s not unusual for some of these to be super low-paid jobs in disguise.

      The Peace Corps has long had issues with rape and sexual assault.

      1. hermit crab*

        Yeah, I will note that the key reason an AmeriCorps placement would be feasible for me (while living my current, expensive city) is that I’m married and my spouse makes a solid income. That stipend wouldn’t go far enough otherwise.

    18. No to TFA*

      I did TFA for the summer training and quit before I went to my site. They don’t support you enough in the training where you get assigned a class to teach for summer school with some other new TFA people. They sort of throw you into the classroom to learn as you go which really sucks for the students. Most of what we learned during training outside of class was about race and social issues. Which, while important and valid considering the cultural makeup of our student populations versus the TFA staff, was less helpful when you consider that we still didn’t know how to teach.

      Because you aren’t an employee of the school during the summer, you aren’t allowed to know what’s on the IEP’s of your students even though you are the one teaching them and your teacher ‘supervisor’ is never in the classroom with you. How am I supposed to teach someone who needs special instruction if no one is allowed to tell me what that should look like?

      Also, they don’t pay you for teaching the summer class which felt illegal then and even more so now that I work in HR.

      1. No to TFA*

        Hit submit too soon.

        Also, some of the people in my cohort were really terrible. Some of them were great and I’m still in touch with some of them and they love teaching and found TFA great. But there were some people in my cohort who bullied one of the other teachers to the point that he quit. Not the kind of people that should be in a classroom and TFA didn’t take it seriously enough.

      2. TL -*

        My best friend is a teacher and she has similar feelings about TFA. She did a combined undergrad and 1-yr masters in education, multiple student teacher placements (observations through leading a 6-week period over two or three years), lots of work on social justice issues, classroom management, and a degree in her subject matter.

        Her first year was hard but it was doable – she was learning how to flex and use the skills she’d be taught, not trying to reinvent the wheel. And she works in a school that is specifically focused on getting at-risk youth into college so her students can have some terrible home lives.

    19. Julianne*

      I served in Peace Corps in Southern Africa in the early teens, and overall I had a great experience. I was/am a teacher, and served as an education Volunteer, teaching English and math (and also running the library, and sometimes teaching art and girls’ PE) at a small village primary school about 90 minutes from the nearest town.

      PROS: Met my husband (fellow Volunteer). Got to work in my desired field, applying skills I brought to the Peace Corps, while also learning tons from my colleagues. Got to travel extensively in Southern Africa. I now teach ELA/ESL to predominantly African immigrant students at a public elementary school in the US (although no students from the country where I served), and I do think my Peace Corps experience helped me get hired and helps me in my current job. I also got a full tuition scholarship for my Master’s program, and while it was not specifically earmarked for RPCVs, I do think my RPCV status made me a more competitive candidate for scholarship money.

      CONS: The loneliness that gold digger mentioned. It was often strange being in such a different life stage than the men and women my same age in my village, and while I did form many wonderful and meaningful relationships, it was just…different. My best relationships were with people 30 years older or 10 years younger (AKA the students at the village high school, who saw me as a cool young-ish adult since I did not actually teach them). Also the malaria prophylaxis, although at least in the country where I served (big ol’ desert), they have a much more sensible policy on that now compared to when I served. Also, there was very limited transportation between my village and the nearest town, which made banking and just getting away from it all (which you need sometimes!) challenging. Internet access sucked and still sucks in my country of service, but I had my first non-flip phone in Peace Corps, so I had a warped view of what appropriate mobile technology looked like, even back in 2009.

    20. Kuododi*

      DH was Peace Corps in Liberia back 87-89 as a fishery volunteer. He really enjoyed the time and would go back now if it weren’t for life circumstances here in US. He was in the primary rain forest with no running water, electricity and a pit latrine. He SD he took the posting to find out if career missions was for him. He found an interesting situation bc while he was there he was able to experience the locals true opinion of missionaries in his area vs opinions of Peace Corps volunteers. He did have to deal with health care issues…he told me he had medication resistant Malaria five times during his stay in country. All in all he stayed a full tour and felt it was a pleasure to be in Liberia serving as a volunteer. (Actually, fwiw… foreign missions did not happen for him as a full time area of service. He’s now in healthcare and bioethics.).

      1. Julianne*

        Liberia! One of my very good friends, who did Peace Corps Response in my country of service, was an RPCV from Liberia and works in development there now. I hope to visit one day!

    21. nep*

      Peace Corps, three years (1997-2000)
      Pros and cons will, of course, vary from person to person. I love my solitude and it was a huge adjustment to live among villagers and be around people far more than I normally would.
      You’ve got to take into account your state of health and how comfortable you are with limited access to a medical facility for long stretches. This could affect where you should be stationed (region of the world, and whether remote/rural or urban.)
      During PC training and just getting started, think of it as having a two-page job description, only half of one page of which is filled out. The rest won’t be fleshed out till you get to the community where you’ll be working and spend some time with the people.
      This goes without saying but I’ll say it: Rid your mind of any inkling of an idea that you’re going to ‘save’ a community or anyone.
      Spend most of your time listening to the locals. Quiet. Watch. Listen.
      Keep us posted — let us know if you pursue one of these.

      1. nep*

        (Also — don’t think you are at the mercy of PC administrators in the country. As you might have read or as others have mentioned, management varies from place to place and PC is far from perfect in how it runs things. If something doesn’t feel right, speak up, make noise, look out for yourself.)

      2. Femme d'Afrique*

        “Rid your mind of any inkling of an idea that you’re going to ‘save’ a community or anyone.
        Spend most of your time listening to the locals. Quiet. Watch. Listen.”

        Thank you, THANK YOU for saying this.

    22. PCV*

      I’m a current PCV in a Pacific Island country. My service is very different from what I expected as I live in a big city and work an office job. I have a lot of comforts in my site (internet and phone, electricty, water and a hot shower, refrigerator).

      I am very happy with the work I am doing although it’s tough to find a counterpart and build capacity when my co-workers are either already highly motivated and effective or they just aren’t and aren’t going to change.

      My work will look very good on a resume. I am not worried about transitioning back to work after service. However, some PCVs will struggle to be able to “tell the story” of what they did for two years.

      Cons: Peace Corps has lots of policies for safety, security, medical, etc. which some people chaff under. I personally don’t struggle with this but I’m a rule-follower!
      PCVs who live live that village life have an entirely different set of stuggles than I do.

    23. A Moose for Twos*

      I did AmeriCorps and as others have said, where you go really determines whether it’s great or like… A massive exploitation fest that you will deeply resent. Mine was the latter, and I’m really not sure how I could have predicted that in advance. I honestly generally recommend folks to avoid it overall, as a huge portion of the people I know who have done it had a pretty bad experience and I get the feeling that the negative places are a lot more common than the ones that will be worth it. That might not be an entirely fair assessment, but it’s the feeling I came away with.

      They also lied to me about how the money was going to work when I started, and when I left I ended up not getting the final loan repayment stipend thing I was promised initially because of it. I’ve heard of similar stuff happening to other people so uh, I’d suggest checking any details about that with AmeriCorps directly and not just the organization you’ll be working in.

    24. GuitarLady*

      Late to the party, but in case you are still reading these:
      I did Teach for America in 2005-07. I would not recommend it at all, and in fact I am now a fairly vocal opponent of the organization. For the most part, its full of privileged white people with basically no training pretending to teach kids who desperately need far more from their teachers than the average kid, and miserably failing at it, then leaving and using it as a resume builder. And for people who truly do want to dedicate themselves to becoming excellent teachers in high-need areas, there are far superior organizations or paths to do that than TFA. You get six weeks of training by teaching an hour a day in summer school with almost no supervision or feedback, and then dropped in a classroom with even less help to sink or swim, mostly sink.
      I can’t say I regret doing it, it was certainly an eye-opening and very character building experience, but I think its very unfair for these students to inflict 22 year olds with a white-savior complex on them when what they really need is a good solid teacher.
      I was in the organization prior to the big crash, so I don’t feel quite as bad because there was a huge teacher shortage in the district I taught it, there was an open position in my department all year that was filled by a long term sub, and there was also an opening all year in the science dept as well. Things changed though after the crash, with cutbacks in education spending and teachers losing their jobs, TFAers are now taking jobs from actual teachers.
      TLDR, if you want to be a teacher in a low-income area, find a program that gives more training and is meant for at least a 5 year commitment, not a 2 year drive by tour. If you don’t want to be a teacher for the long-term, find another avenue to do some good.

    25. Charlie Bradbury's Girlfriend*

      Thanks all! You’ve given me a lot to think about.
      I was hesitant to include Teach for America on this list, and I think I can eliminate it as an option for me based on this feedback, but maybe this thread will be useful for someone else who’s looking into TFA.
      Nep, I’ll keep you posted! :)

  12. Gaia*

    I’m officially looking.

    The thing is, I’m part of a huge project and I’m the only one even remotely trained to do my job (and it isn’t something you can just document and someone can pick up) and my work is really closely linked to the success of the project. If my work isn’t done really well we just wasted 2+ years and $100m+ for a product that will fail and fail quickly.

    But I just can’t do this anymore. I’ve been working 70 hour weeks and I get a lot of appreciation and recognition and everyone knows what I’m doing to get the work done. But I told them I needed help and I got told no and….I just can’t do this anymore. I’m exhausted.

    But I’m also concerned what it does to my reputation to leave before the project is done (the project has no end date right now. It was supposed to finish a year ago. Right now, we’ll be lucky if it is done by December. This is how these projects go).

    Any advice on how to navigate this?

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Well, for starters, this is generally Not Your Problem. Remember that. If you got hit by a bus, there would be no one there with your skills, right? Leaving for another job– or just leaving– presents the same scenario to them.

      However, I know that’s an easy thing to say. The whole asking for help and being told no is, to me, a HUGE factor in this. You want to do good work, you want to present your best self, you have asked explicitly (I assume) for help, and they told you no, so now this is on them. If you have a good relationship with your bosses, I would ask for help again and explain that you either need help or some time off because you’re stretched. If they still tell you no, then that tells you what you need to know about how much they truly value you. Because yes, the work has to get done, but it has to get done by someone who is not at the end of her rope.

      And take a day off (or two or three) if you have the days available.

      1. Gaia*

        Luckily available days off are not a problem but workload precluding taking them is. As it stands now I work 12-14 hours Monday – Friday and at least another 10 – 16 hours each weekend. And that is just to keep my head (barely) above water.

        I was very explicit in asking for help. I was clear that to meet deadline X we need Y resources and I am Y – 4 other full time people. And that is assuming I continue at my current pace (which I’ve been doing for 2 years). I was told no because of Reasons (legitimate reasons but short sighted). For the first time in years I actually cried at work. I’m just so freaking tired.

        1. Jerry Vandesic*

          Let things slide. Don’t work such long hours. If stuff doesn’t get done, it doesn’t get done. Your employer has decided that they don’t want to properly staff your project, and that decision will impact the project. As AvonLady (above) says, it’s not your problem.

          1. Jerry Vandesic*

            And with the time you are freeing up by not working long hours, use it to aggressively look for a new job.

        2. zora*

          “I was clear that to meet deadline X we need Y resources and I am Y – 4 other full time people.”
          Then you need to MISS that deadline. Seriously.
          You can’t tell them that and then kill yourself to meet the deadline anyway. Then they have no reason to fix the problem. You need to stop working after 8-9 hours, go home, and let the deadline be missed. They will not fix the problem until you make it their problem.

    2. Seriously?*

      If possible, you can try to give a long notice period so that they have time to hire someone else. It sounds like your job would be secure enough to do this. However, when it comes down to it, people quit or become ill or die and companies need to have a plan in place for that. If an expensive project will fall apart if you leave, then the company is at fault for not having a contingency plan in place. You have told them that you need help on the project so it isn’t as if they are unaware of the issue. If your industry is generally full of reasonable people no one will blame you for leaving before completing a project that has gone on for two years with no end in sight.

    3. Alternative Person*

      If you haven’t already and you have time, start making notes/manuals so whoever inherits it has something to go on.

      The most important thing though, is to remember that you are doing your best with the tools you have to hand. If it fails, its on the company for not doing their job in supporting you.

    4. CatCat*

      Just keep very professional on the things that you can control. When you find something new, give whatever is the professional standard notice period for your level in your industry.

      It’s not on you that your current employer has not provided adequate resources for your project. 70 hour workweeks are just not sustainable for long periods of time and you asked for help and were denied. It *shouldn’t* be a shocker to your bosses when you put in your notice (though many people are willfully ignorant when the writing is on the wall in big letters).

      If they’re the kind of people who would try and trash your reputation because you did the normal act of moving on to another employer while providing a professional level of notice, then they were probably always going to be terrible. You move on and keep performing at a high level at your new employer because that is what you can control.

      1. Gaia*

        To be fair, I don’t think they would actively trash my reputation but it would be a big thing in my industry to leave during a project like this. It happens but it usually means you were “encouraged to seek employment elsewhere” or you ran when things got tough.

        1. designbot*

          In the design/construction industry, it wound definitely raise some questions and people would flat out ask “wow, what made you leave in the middle of (giant project?”
          But it would be a totally fine answer to say, “Well unfortunately my area of the project was severely understaffed. I’ve spoken with the leadership several times and they are unwilling to change that. I can’t keep doing the work of five people, and ultimately that’s why I’m here talking to you.” You might even add something like, it’s really important to me to do a great job and I want to find a firm whose management and staffing supports that.

    5. MRK*

      I think you need to go back to your mangers and be extremely blunt. As in “I either need help with this work immediately, or I need to be removed from this project. I cannot continue to work at this level.” And I would put together the hard facts for this:
      You have been averaging 70+ hours for the past X weeks (or months,or nights/weekends/holidays, make it clear this isn’t occasional overtime)
      At earliest estimate this project will not be done before December.
      Your work is a critical element of this project (and it sounds like you do want to do it well despite the stress.)

      But it sounds like you are at a point where this is no longer a negotiation, you need help and they either must provide it or they won’t have you. Period. I don’t think anyone reasonable will hold “leaving a project that is months-years over schedule with no end in sight” against you.

      1. Mrs. D*


        Your request for help wasn’t unreasonable, yet they denied it. Now is not the time to mince words. Make sure they understand that either things need to change (and what changes need to happen), or you’ll be gone.

        You NEED to take care of yourself since they are not looking out for your best interests (or your health). This kind of stress takes its toll on you physically and mentally. For your own well-being, please don’t wait until the constant exhaustion leads to worse health problems or illnesses that keep you from working. I am also someone who gives 1000% at work, so this was a hard lesson for me to learn too. Please, please do what’s best for YOU.

      2. zora*

        And after you say that to your boss, you STOP doing the extra hours. I’m serious. I know it seems crazy where you are right now, I have been there. But IT IS POSSIBLE for you to just stop where you are at 6pm and go home. No, really. Stop at the end of Friday and go home and turn off your phone. Don’t look at email until you come back Monday morning. You can tell people you are going to do this if it would be a hardship on others to be surprised, but this is your only option right now.

        You have a mental block where you are right now. But if you just put down a hard boundary and stop the extra hours, things will start to back up and they will realize how unsustainable this is and figure out what they need to do to fix it.

        You have nothing else to lose at this point, you are already thinking of leaving which will cause the same outcome. So, do this now, and maybe they will fix things. And if they don’t fix things, then you leave anyway.

        I have been in this situation and seen others in it, and there are only two ways this can go right now. 1) You completely burn out and fall apart (possibly end up in the hospital) or 2) you put down boundaries and the powers that be realize this is actually their problem to fix. I have never seen another option, and #1 is the most harmful to you. Don’t let that happen, take care of yourself.

    6. rubyrose*

      When interviewing, when asked why you are looking, just be honest. Tell them you have been working 70 hour weeks for xx weeks on a project with no end date, have requested help and it has been denied. No one in their right mind will fault you for that.

    7. Q*

      Do not let yourself feel guilty for doing what is best for yourself. This is 100% their fault. You asked for help and they said no. With a project this big you should have 2 or 3 back ups who know the same info as you and can perform the same as you. What if suddenly tomorrow you were no longer available to them?

      Some people like to use the “what if you got hit by a bus” argument but I prefer the “what if you won a hundred millions dollars” version. What if tomorrow you won a hundred millions dollars and said peace out, suckers?!?!?! They’d have to deal with that so they can deal with you giving two weeks notice.

    8. In Todd We Trust*

      Your employer will throw a fit worthy of the best 2 year old around. Why, it’s not because they love and value you. It’s because they can no longer abuse you. Give them a reasonable amount of your time and use the rest to prepare your exit strategy. If the project fails, it’s because they failed to put the proper steps in place.

    9. A Worker Bee*

      I echo what Seriously? already said: “If your industry is generally full of reasonable people no one will blame you for leaving before completing a project that has gone on for two years with no end in sight.”

  13. GG Two shoes*

    Ok, I need some help.
    The TLDR is that I’m at a loss of how to give feedback to an employee who shuts down or gets upset.
    Earlier this week, an event planning committee started an Olympics week. The ‘events’ are 5-10 minutes and each department needs to play, this wasn’t unexpected, we do things like this occasionally and emails have been sent. The first event was for everyone – I won’t say mandatory but strongly encouraged by management. When I said we needed to be in the lounge at 3:30pm and to be prepared to stop working for a bit she: rolled her eyes, crossed her arms and said wasn’t she going to play. Another employee convinced her to but then she threatened to walk out and then ‘joked’ about not coming into work so she didn’t have to participate. She did it, but she clearly wasn’t happy about it. That’s fine, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. However, I wasn’t thrilled with her attitude with this and another couple of assignments I’d given her recently that she had responded to similarly. I decided to let her cool off and talk to her about it the next day.
    The next day, I pull her aside and said, “hey, I wasn’t crazy about your attitude yesterday. I know you don’t like those events, but sometimes we have to do things at work we don’t like. Also, your attitude regarding X and Y wasn’t great. I need you to get on board with some things, even if you don’t see the reason behind them. I’d be happy to explain why we need them but I need you to keep your attitude in check. Can you do that?”
    Her response was to 1. Say she thought I was discriminating against her for making her play because she doesn’t want to and she shouldn’t have to. She said she has things from her past (of which I wasn’t aware) that make her not comfortable with this. I said that if she has a disability she wants to disclose that we can talk to HR (small company so also our boss) and see if we can find accommodation, or if she just wants to share what it is then maybe we can work on it. She refused. I said, this is less about the event than your attitude towards it. If you have an issue with something you can come to me and we can work about it but try to not have negative reactions like that because it makes the department uneasy and can lead to a toxic workplace. She said, “well F- it then, GG, just f-ing fire me since I can’t do what you want.” After talking her down from that, she went on to say that she doesn’t think she should have to do anything that isn’t her job. To which I responded that in her (and everyone’s) job description is a line at the end that says, “and other duties as assigned” which means that you do have to do them.
    This went so off the rails. I knew she’s be upset but I wasn’t prepared for this. I’m only a couple years into managing and one of the very few negative bits of feedback to ask her to keep her attitude in check was met like this. Most of the time she’s rather quiet, VERY, VERY good at her work, and we usually have a good relationship.
    How can I give her feedback without it going so off the rails next time?

    1. WellRed*

      I don’t think you can give her feedback. Manage her out. (frankly, if she pulls that f-ing fire me crap again, I’d take her up on it).

      1. Close Bracket*

        Don’t manage her out. It’s passive aggressive and a dereliction of your responsibilities as a manager. If you need to fire her, put on your big boy/girl pants and fire her.

    2. Murphy*

      I don’t think this is about your feedback style. From what I can see here, what you said sounds reasonable and her response much less so. Unless you find out what’s going on (and she doesn’t seem receptive to talking about it) I’m not sure what you can do.

    3. Detective Amy Santiago*

      I think you’re wrong for pushing her to do something that is not actually work related. She shouldn’t have to disclose her reasons for not wanting to participate. If it’s not an actual job function or duty, then it should be opt in.

      If she’s a good employee and you don’t want to lose her, you need to push back above you and support her decision not to be involved in these type of activities.

      1. GG Two shoes*

        I actually did push back and said she shouldn’t need to my boss (hope everyone who commented sees this). I agree, but I wanted to try to steer this conversation to the issue which was her attitude. If she would have asked me at any point not to participate I would have agreed, but her attitude towards it was really not great.

        1. SoCalHR*

          I agree GG- Employee shouldn’t behave like a child when they don’t want to do something. If its that serious of an issue, going to you ahead of time and saying “I’m sorry, but I really don’t want to participate in this” probably would have helped the situation immensely. And maybe she still could have gone down to the event to support it but when asked to participate you could have her back if pushed and say that she’s sitting this one out.

          1. GG Two shoes*

            That’s exactly what I was hoping for. All I want is for her to communication her discomfort without throwing a fit. I don’t think that’s unreasonable to ask of an adult. And in case anyone was wondering, we had known of these events for at least a month with weekly reminders. it wasn’t sprung on us at all.

            1. Mandatory Fun*

              Sometimes, though, even knowing about something (but only broad generalities) in advance doesn’t mean that one can be prepared for a reaction.

              For example, at my work place, they decided to do the MBTI with people certified to administer the test and then there was going to be a meeting in which we’d get our results and do exercises based on that. Now, I happened to already know my type, but I took the test (I am an INTJ, and my I is so strongly expressed that when the scale runs to 30 on the Introvert-Extrovert axis, I am a 30–I actually perceive weakly expressed Introverts). At no point was the subsequent meeting indicated to be an optional thing.

              Day of meeting, we go into the room, and find that they’ve re-arranged the furniture and put place-cards with people’s names and there is no switching allowed. The people administering the tests and running the meeting *know* my results (and all my other co-workers) and chose to place me in a seat which was pretty much dead-center of the room, and because the tables were put on a slant, you’d have to walk in a zig-zag path from the doors to my assigned seat. Then they tell us to write something about what we bring to the job on the back of our tent-card with our name on it. I am struggling with this, because everything that I can think of seems like a slap against some of my other co-workers (who are the type who do only what they *must* to avoid a PIP, and not one iota of extra). But I come up with something. Then they want us to, in turn, stand up, state our name and whatever we put on the card. I went from “not really happy, but I can get through this” to “OMG I am going to die”. Yeah, I had a full-blown panic attack right there in the middle of the room in front of everyone. I’d never had a panic attack before in my life. It was humiliating. They threw together some spur of the moment accommodations (let me sit on the edge of the room, instructed the people running the meeting not to call on me or require individual participation by *every* person present).

              So even though we’d known about the meeting part for a month, the actual event caused me to react in a way that I’d never anticipated would happen, and probably didn’t make me look like a mature adult. But I would have given *anything* to be able to control a few details about that event so that it wouldn’t have happened at all.

        2. Detective Amy Santiago*

          I think you can address her attitude without trying to make her disclose a disability or potentially other personal information about why she didn’t want to participate.

          1. GG Two shoes*

            The disability part was more like, ‘oh I didn’t know. Do you want to go talk about that? we can maybe get you an accommodation if you need it?’ and then her saying no. I wasn’t pushy and I dropped it afterwards.

            Full disclosure, I DO have a disability that is disclosed (and she knows about) so my suggestion was more like, hey, we can make accommodations if you need and not like, “tell me why you don’t to do this.” I was just really shocked she said I was discriminating against her since I didn’t know she has a disability at all.

            1. Naptime Enthusiast*

              This clarification helps, I read your initial comment as “tell me what it is and then I’ll see if I can accommodate you”. Thanks for clearing that up, what you describe is totally reasonable.

            2. Arjay*

              If it were me, I guess I’d feel I shouldn’t need to request accommodations to not participate in the Olympics.

            3. Safetykats*

              I think it’s completely reasonable to mention the potential for accommodations in this way. I’m stunned at how often people think they can imply a disability or the need for an accommodation and will just get whatever they want – without actually going on record concerning their condition – and how often they are completely be evaluated by company medical, to determine the most appropriate accommodation. Frankly, I interpret that as a clear indication that they are just trying to game the system. I’ve never had anyone with a clear legal right to an accommodation balk at providing a doctor’s recommendation, or getting separate evaluation. I have had a significant number of employees demand accommodations that are completely inappropriate for the conditions they are claiming, or for any protected disability at all.

        3. Oilpress*

          I would confide in them. I would explain how I recognize their talent/skill advantage, and explain that is why I have given them some additional leeway to be different. But then I would ask them to repay that additional earned freedom by putting on a brave face on the rare occasion where I ask them to do something a bit superfluous to the job. Maybe on this occasion they can skip the semi-mandatory Olympics, but next time I ask them to participate in something, I’d like them to be their best charming self.

          Special people who think they are special really get off on the idea of being treated special.

        4. Thlayli*

          From your description of what was said, it sounds like she thinks you were telling her she had to participate in this event and would have to participate in similar ones in the future. It seems to me like that is where the attitude is coming from. Tbh I am on her side – if my boss was pulling the “other duties as assigned” to try to bully me into participating in a non-work event I didn’t want to participate in, I would probably have a very bad attitude to that, much more so than any work related issue. I’m perfectly happy to take feedback on my actual work and anything related to work, but no way in hell would I play nice and be all “yes sir no sir” if my boss was trying to get me to participate in some sort of sportsball for example.

          I think you should go back to her and clarify that she is perfectly entitled to refuse to participate in non-work activities. Then once you have that out of the way, at that point tell her that if you give her feedback about her actual work she can’t react by pulling the “well fire me then” card.

          I bet once you clarify that she will say that she would never give you attitude about actual work feedback.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Anything that looks like gym class I will fail at massively. It’s nothing I can really get a doctor’s note for on the spur of the moment. I was sick a lot as a kid and never did anything even near sports, never mind sports themselves. I am out beyond just “bad at it”. So anything like this is going to be nothing but pure embarrassment for me. The old me would have spent days crying and seriously considered quitting the job before the event happened.

            The mature me would tell you, that this is not something I am able to do and it’s well out beyond any skill set I have. I would wait for you to say, “Okay. Sounds serious. Let’s see if you can be in charge of cheering people on or something like that.” If I did not hear that AND given this would be a recurring event, then I would probably give notice.
            No job is worth it to me to go through this.

            I don’t agree with her f bombs and I don’t agree with her giving you problems about the work itself. However, a human being who feels cornered with no options, can be a pretty miserable human being. And they can lash out because their misery is so great. Mandatory fun can be hell on earth for some people.

            1. tangerineRose*

              Like you, I’m not that great at most sports, and I’d be very unhappy if I had to stop something that I was working at, that probably had some kind of due date, to show the rest of the team what a klutz I can be sometimes.

      2. Gorgo*

        Unless it is completely unreasonable, everything that your boss asks you to do IS your job.

      3. TL -*

        The employee could have easily smiled and said, “I won’t be able to participate this year but I’m happy to sit and cheer lead for the team and maybe organize snacks.”

        I sincerely doubt there would have been any resistance to that. It’s not the inability/not wanting to do the activities, it’s the attitude and not wanting to participate in the team spirit of the team building event.

    4. Enough*

      I don’t understand how this event comes under other duties as assigned. Why does she “have to” participate?
      I think you have 2 issues here. The attitude about things she doesn’t like and being made to do something that is not actual “work”.
      To avoid derailment you have to “ignore” some of what she says and stick to the behavior you want corrected. Acknowledge she is not happy but stick to being clear about the behavior she exhibits.

      1. GG Two shoes*

        It wasn’t the event that was commented towards other duties as assigned, it was X and Y.

    5. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I’m honestly not thrilled at your mention of a disability, or asking her if there’s something she wants to discuss with you so you can “work it out”. She doesn’t want to participate, and she told you there was something in her past that made her reluctant. That should have been the end of it.

      Her attitude is a problem, for sure. It’s not that she doesn’t like them, it’s that she shows everyone else she doesn’t like them, and she does it rudely. She’s allowed to be uncomfortable– we all are– but you want her to tone it down and suck it up for a day. That’s all. Please don’t try to see if there are underlying issues here. There likely are, but you don’t want to make her think she’s obligated to share them, because that will probably shut her down and put her on the defensive very quickly.

      1. GG Two shoes*

        Thanks for your feedback. I was really thrown with the disability comment and didn’t know how to handle it. I thought in the moment that trying to find an accommodation would be the best bet (this conversation happened the next day after the event so it was too late to change that situation). I am really trying to learn and my manager is pretty hands off so he just said to let it be and I wanted to get thoughts on it from you folks.

        1. Safetykats*

          I think you need to talk to HR about company policy and maybe read up a bit on the ADA. It’s not terrible – or disallowed in any way – to explain cmoany policy on accommodations to someone who has implied that they need one. And insisting that you can’t participate in office activities that everyone else is participating in, because of some mysterious thing in your past, is certainly implying a physical or mental issue that deserves an accommodation. The thing is, the ADA doesn’t require a employer to provide an accommodation just because the employee insists they need one. If a disability is obvious, like a employee with a prosthetic or a walker or wheelchair, you are expected to be able to figure out and provide reasonable accommodation. If somebody is implying a protected disability that isn’t obvious, or for which you couldn’t be expected to understand or know what accommodation would be appropriate, the ADA does allow you to require medical evaluation. So in short, employee in a wheelchair should get an accessible office without jumping through extra hoops. Employee claiming or implying PTSD or anxiety disorder or something not easily diagnosed by a layperson and for which reasonable accommodation might not be obvious, medical evaluation. This protects the company as well as the employee, because the best or most appropriate accommodation might not always be the one the employee is requesting. For example, I had an employee who had carpal tunnel surgery on both hands, and demanded a voice to text program for his computer so he could continue working. Medical looked at the situation and determined that in fact inability to type wasn’t his most significant or only challenge, and that short term disability was the best solution. After returning from short term he confided that he had completely overestimate his abilities just after surgery, and probably would not have recovered as quickly if allowed to return to work. But only a medical professional would really know that, so that evaluation was key to getting him what he really needed.

    6. Seriously?*

      You need to clarify whether it is mandatory or is not mandatory. What you are describing is not “strongly encouraged” it is mandatory. Forcing people to do things while saying that it isn’t mandatory is confusing and upsetting. So if it is mandatory then tell her she either needs to participate, talk to HR about accommodations or be put on a PIP. If it is encouraged, then accept her refusal and move on.

      1. GG Two shoes*

        Honestly I dont know. I was following orders but I did push back about making everyone participate in that ‘event’.

    7. Leave it to Beaver*

      She does sound toxic and it definitely sounds like you managed her calmly. But, I cringed a little bit when you suggested the two of you go to HR or she could tell you what the potential disability/issue is. Both options force her to disclose to you whatever her potential issue is, which may not be something she feels comfortable or secure enough to do. If she does have a sensitive issue that impacts her ability to participate in activities, I agree that you should definitely offer the option of discussing it with you, but you should also offer her the opportunity to discuss it with someone else or communicate it in an alternative format (perhaps a letter or email). Now, I have to admit, I don’t think she has a disability or issue, but that doesn’t mean it should be ignored and you were right to address it. But, the actions you suggested definitely backed her into a corner and regardless of whether it’s real or not, I’m not surprised she ended up getting aggressively defensive.

      1. GG Two shoes*

        I was really thrown with the discrimination comment, I wasn’t sure how to respond. I didn’t think I was being discriminating because I didn’t know what I would have been discriminating against! I will see if communicating in another format would be better for her if it ever comes up again.

        1. Double A*

          I think it’s totally fair when someone says they’re being discriminated against for you to explain that you’ll need documentation of the protected class they’re saying they’re part of and which they’re being discriminated against because of. In fact, if you HAD NOT offered to go to HR and document her disability when she said you were discriminating against her, then you could have been in some trouble, I’d think. The fact that she brought it up first puts you in the clear, the fact that she was pretty obviously BSing notwithstanding (I think she was conflating “This makes me uncomfortable” with “I’m being discriminated against).

          Invisible disabilities do need to be documented in order to receive accommodation, and if an employee refuses to document, then they it seems like they’ll have a really hard time proving discrimination.

    8. kbeers0su*

      Unless this is part of a larger pattern of attitude issues, I’d give her a few days and circle back around. It sounds like there might be something behind this attitude that you saw related to not wanting to play games (since you mentioned this was “recent”). And although you gave her the opening to discuss it (with you or boss/HR) she may not be comfortable doing so right now. I might suggest sitting down with her in a few days and saying something like “Now that we’ve moved past (Olympics event issue) I wanted to circle back around about my concerns with your attitude recently. This seemed out of character (if it was) and I wanted to see if you can help me understand your reaction.” Then listen and see what (if anything) she can say that might give you insight into it all. Perhaps there was a family issue or other stressor, or maybe she had a really traumatic experience at previousjob that involved an Olympic event or whatever. And then if she still doesn’t open up/offer a good explanation/context that helps you understand, I’d make it explicitly clear that this kind of attitude will affect her ability to stay employed and make it clear what you expect going forward.

      1. Lissa*

        Yeah….I know a lot of people are going to be on employees side here but regardless thus seems really not great to bring up discrimination in that way as well as the attitude in general…

    9. Amtelope*

      Her attitude is not okay, but on the other side of this, “this isn’t mandatory, but you have to do it” is a really frustrating message to recieve.

      Is it mandatory? Then say “This is mandatory and it’s part of your job to participate. If you can’t compete in the game, let’s find another way for you to participate.” Is it not actually mandatory? Then say, “It’s fine to sit this out, but be aware that we’re strongly encouraged to participate in events like this, so if you want to impress our bosses, it would be good to participate when you can.” But decide which is true.

      1. GG Two shoes*

        Honestly, I was told in the beginning it was mandatory, but then they made ‘subs’ available so it wasn’t clear to me either. I was frustrated with that as well and I pushed back on it, as I said in another comment.

    10. Lumen*

      She said, “well F- it then, GG, just f-ing fire me since I can’t do what you want.”

      This is so beyond the pale of what’s appropriate at work, especially with your boss. Whatever conversation you have with her later, bring this up and make sure she understands that sort of outburst is completely unacceptable.

      1. Kittymommy*

        This. Regardless of mandatory/not mandatory or “other duties as assigned”,this attitude is unacceptable and cannot be allowed to be repeated. Most of my job is other duties as assigned and I have plenty of things that aren’t “mandatory ” but I better be there and while I push back on some, swearing at my boss no matter hiwn much one is in the right, would get me fired on the spot.

      2. MuseumChick*

        THIS! I was trying to write a comment saying this but was so thrown that an employee with speak this way in the office I couldn’t put a coherent comment together.

        GG, I think you need to lay out basic decorum with this employee in and clear consequences for what will happen if the attitude continues. If she pushed back in a rude/attitude giving way you can say “This is actually exactly what I was talking about. No matter how frustrated you feel, which is a very normal part of the working world, this kind of reaction is not appropriate.”

      3. Fiennes*

        Agreed. Office olympics may be annoying, but there are plenty of professional ways to handle non-participation. Also, while this was the breaking point, GG tells us this worker has been showing attitude in other areas as well. Focusing only on the games thing doesn’t address the whole problem.

      4. LKW*

        This. The “I can’t do what you want” as I understand it, is to have a good attitude. Participating in a team event in the office or even watching a team event, shouldn’t be so difficult. And I expect that had she come to you quietly and said “Look, this sounds ridiculous but I really am not up for these activities. I’d prefer to not go into details but I hope I can get a pass on today’s activities.” you would have worked with her.

        Instead, she acted like a baby.

        So give her some time and then manage her out. She sounds exhausting and not a good fit.

      5. zora*

        Yeah, the Olympics event is beside the point, and everyone is going off track with that.

        You used great AAM language to tell her what you needed from her and she just clearly told you she’s NOT able to do that. She is not able to have a better response to things she doesn’t want to do, she literally said “I can’t do what you want.”

        I think the only option here is for you to manage her out. Maybe that is the wakeup call she needs. Don’t keep ‘talking her down’ that is NOT your job, you are not her therapist. I know it sucks to fire people and you say she does her job well, so that makes this confusing because it would be easier if she just sucked all around.

        But really, you need to go to her and say “I asked if you are able to be calm and polite and talk to me when you have problems instead of rolling your eyes and cursing and you told me you actually can’t do that. That means I cannot keep you in this position because that is what I need to have you work here. So, take a day to think about whether you are able to work on your anger and be calm when discussing problems. If you really aren’t able to do that, then I”m going to have to let you go.”

        And give her the day to think about it.
        She needs to really understand that this is literally about keeping her job. If you keep talking her down, you are undermining your own message about this being important. We’ve talked about it here before, some people need a huge thing like this as a wakeup call to realize they need to actually work on their anger issues.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Uh, respectfully, I think she know she is on the verge of losing her job and that is why the five-alarm fire behavior. People panic when they realize they are going to crash.

          Somebody has to calm down here. I think OP is the one rational person left in this story. Big Boss seems not to understand that if Fun is Forced, then it is Not Fun. It can be very hard to get people to open their minds to this concept.

          My suggestion, OP, is that you tell the boss people would rather be unemployed than go to Forced Fun. Maybe that is something he would understand. He may say, “Okay so what if she quits?’ Then you say,
          “And we will continue to see this, when ever we have Forced Fun, random people will chose to leave the company over the Forced Fun. If she quits, this is not the end of the story. We will continue to lose people over it.” I would call it Forced Fun also, because that is in my personality to say such a thing.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Sometimes people have bad delivery but a valid point. It is okay to break those things into two parts and address their bad behavior separate from the valid point part.

    11. CatCat*

      Well, first, stop forcing the non-mandatory mandatory Office Olympics on people. Stand up for your team on that and discourage team members from pressuring others who have said no. Clearly there is a nerve here that has been touched and the message on the non-mandatory nature is extremely muddled. “Team, if you’re not comfortable participating in Office Olympics, it is not mandatory so please just let me know if you’re not going to participate. Also, let’s not pressure one another on this so if someone chooses not to participate, don’t pry into that. Or if you want to participate, but not as competitors, I’ll work on making sure everyone is included.” (Examples of other participating, setting up the events, judging events, whatever else is entailed in getting Office Olympics going.)

      Second, the employee’s attitude is ridiculous though and needs to be addressed. It sounds like this was atypical of her given your description of her at the end. So recognize that there is probably Something Going On That Is None of Your Business in the employee’s personal background while still addressing the attitude issue. “Employee, I know you were very upset about the Office Olympics thing and I will be addressing participation in the events more widely with the team so it’s clear it is not mandatory. You really went off the rails when I had a conversation with you about your attitude. Cursing in the workplace is not acceptable and you need to be able to take feedback constructively and calmly.” I’d probably leave it there and let her process it.

      1. GG Two shoes*

        Thanks for the feedback. I want to make sure everyone understands who has commented that I was only following orders, I did push back about making it mandatory to my boss afterwards. It wasn’t clear to me beforehand that everyone from the department was expected to participate.

    12. theletter*

      It sounds to me like she has some social anxiety, and it’s the peer pressure from these weird ‘events’ that’s causing her to act this way. The mixed messages about whether or not this stuff is required is probably throwing her off.

      She’s not handling this well, but if I were in charge of these events I’d set it up so that they were clearly voluntary and there were no repercussions from not participating or just observing. If the event is supposed to be ‘a fun break from work’, there should be no punishment for, you know, continuing to do your work.

      1. GG Two shoes*

        I agree. and again: I wasn’t on this committee, had no say in this, and pushed back afterwards.

        1. Detective Amy Santiago*

          I think it would be important for any follow up conversation you have to include the fact that you did push back against the ‘mandatory’ aspect afterwards so she knows that you understand her objections and are taking them seriously.

        2. A day in the zoo*

          I am the first one to dislike (intensely) most team building or mandatory fun events. However, they are a part of many corporate cultures and even if there is an option of not participating, it could impact the employee’s career. It also could impact the manager’s career if her team opts out. Non-mandatory events on paper often are mandatory in reality.

          The issue here is the reaction of the employee, both on the day of the event, and after was so out of line. I had an employee who had behaved this way for years. When it was my turn to manage them, I told her the first time that if she volunteered to quit again, I would accept it on the spot and escort her out the door. Problem solved. She never did that again and the morale of the office improved as a result.

        3. Close Bracket*

          “pushed back afterwards.”

          You’ve noted this many times. I think a takeaway for you should be to push back *before* the event happens. You could not have anticipated any given employees reluctance to participate, however, as a general principle, you should be supporting your direct reports and pushing back on mandatory-non-mandatory events.

    13. Parenthetically*

      Two problems, as I see it.

      1. Her attitude is not great, you’re right. You addressed this aspect pretty well — I’m not pumped that you brought up a disability or tried to force her to disclose her reasons (you’re not her therapist, she shouldn’t need to have a reason beyond, “I don’t want to do this due to some stuff in my past, so I am opting out”), but apart from that, encouraging her to come to you with her concerns rather than reacting passive-aggressively or just aggressively was the right tactic.

      2. WTF is going on with semi-mandatory office olympics? No freaking thank you. Is this supposed to be fun? What’s the purpose of it? She’s most definitely going to keep pushing back on you if she sees you defending something stupid and trying to coerce her into participation, particularly when she’s said she has past trauma(?) related reasons for not participating. The fact that she’s freaking out to this degree when she’s normally a quiet worker who keeps her head down should be a red flag to you that this is a big, big deal for her. She’s willing to be fired over it? She’s cursing, physically demonstrating that she doesn’t want to do this? It’s such a nuclear option that I think it’s worth considering that this is something potentially traumatizing from her perspective.

      Go back to her. Say something like, “Hey, I want to revisit this because your reaction was so unlike you and I’ve realized that means this must be a pretty big deal for you. I don’t want to fire you at all, and I’m instead going to excuse you from participating in these events. If I get questions about it, I’m going to go to bat for you about it. I want to know what the problem is so I can help, but I respect your privacy. Just know that I’m here to help if I can in any way, and I hope we can get back to our normal cordial positive relationship.”

      1. GG Two shoes*

        I like your wording. I’ll be sure to add that. I’m so worried about followup with her (its been 3 days) I’m not sure how to address it. My boss said to leave it be, but honestly its so awkward in here now I feel like I should address it again, even if it’s going to open more wounds.

        1. Totally Minnie*

          I would say that it’s not necessary to have another conversation at this point. Let things cool down, and the next time an event like this comes up, let her see that you’re trying to make this okay for her and not allow your bosses to make her do things that make her uncomfortable.

          If you assign her another project that she doesn’t like and she reacts immaturely, then you can say “I understand that these aren’t your preferred job tasks, and you’re allowed to not enjoy doing them. But I need you to express those feelings in a more professional way.”

          I tend to tell my staff that I don’t think it’s possible to enjoy a job more than 85% of the time, because every job is going to contain things you don’t like to do. But that 15% still needs to get done, so it’s best to just power through so you can get back to the stuff you like.

          1. zora*

            No, this is the opposite here. OP has said that she has had an attitude like this to ACTUAL WORK TASKS. The Olympics event is a total side track and beside the point.

            Saying “I don’t want to fire you” is not good for a manager to say! It undermines any actual feedback and her need to actually do those things. If you are saying you’re not going to fire her then why should she listen to you?

            1. Totally Minnie*

              Was this the comment you intended to reply to? I’m not sure what it is you’re reacting to.

              1. zora*

                Yeah, sorry, I”m responding to Parenthetically’s comment saying:
                “Go back to her. Say something like, “Hey, I want to revisit this because your reaction was so unlike you and I’ve realized that means this must be a pretty big deal for you. I don’t want to fire you at all, and I’m instead going to excuse you from participating in these events. ”

                I think this is the opposite of the approach. It’s not really about the event, it’s about the attitude.

                1. Parenthetically*

                  I disagree. I think it’s about both event AND attitude — sighing is one thing, we all do it, but flipping out to this degree? That seems to indicate it’s a bigger deal.

                  “Saying “I don’t want to fire you” is not good for a manager to say!”

                  Maybe, under normal circumstances, but since she mentioned firing, I think it’s an ok response.

        2. Close Bracket*

          “even if it’s going to open more wounds.”


          Who are you trying to help here, you or her? You are a bad boss if you are willing to open more wounds with your direct report to make your self feel better about the situation. If you talk to her again, it should only be because you want to close the wounds you opened *in her” in the first place. If you are feeling personally badly about her response, you need to address your feelings in another way.

    14. Trout 'Waver*

      What-the-what? Your work is big enough to have an event planning committee, but no formal HR?

      1. GG Two shoes*

        It’s all volunteer. the event planning committee was an underwriter, an admin, and a customer service rep.

        1. Trout 'Waver*

          Right, but it carries such weight that they can make events mandatory with refusal resulting in grounds for firing. I don’t mean to be snarky, but that is really backwards considering you don’t even have dedicated HR.

          1. GG Two shoes*

            Whoa, no where did I say it would be grounds for firing! SHE brought up that she said I should just fire her! I was trying to give her feedback about her attitude toward this event and two assignments she had given me attitude about. If you get a chance, please read through my other responses.

            1. Trout 'Waver*

              I don’t mean to sound harsh, and I apologize if I’m coming across that way. But when you say:

              To which I responded that in her (and everyone’s) job description is a line at the end that says, “and other duties as assigned” which means that you do have to do them.

              You’re implicitly saying “Do it or you’re fired”

              1. GG Two shoes*

                I didn’t say it like that. I was paraphrasing a 15 minute long conversation. Look, she must have assumed something like that too since she told me to F-ing fire her then, but she should know that I would never do that. we have worked closely for two years. This is the first time we’ve ever had a discussion come together like this.

                I do appreciate you commenting as I need to have my views expanded, I can only see this from my point of view.

                1. IKnowRight?*

                  Yup. It’s unfortunate, but some people will take this to mean “do it or you’re fired,” particularly if they feel at all threatened by the conversation, which can happen even if you feel you are speaking in a non-threatening way.

                2. Not So NewReader*

                  I too would feel that my continued employment was threatened.

                  In toxic work places this is what termination threats look like, what you are talking about here. So while, in your work place this may not be a termination threat, she could have experienced it in other places. I know I have and I would definitely read termination here.
                  Additionally, the boss would coyly say, “I never mentioned being fired” in a sarcastic, taunting manner as if to gaslight.
                  Please understand, I DO get that this is NOT what you are doing here. I am just explaining a pattern that many employees have seen and are very familiar with. There is NO how, NO way that I think this is what you are doing. Nope-nope.

    15. LibbyG*

      I think you approached it well enough – provided direct feedback at a well chosen time and then listened to her.

      Perhaps the phrase “keep your attitude in check” was bothersome to her? That sounds like something people say to teenagers. Maybe it felt infantilizing? Her response was wildly inappropriate, regardless.

      Maybe you could, in the future, frame things as what *to* do rather than what to refrain from? It might be a meaningless distinction in this case, but maybe something more like, ” I need you to either raise a concern in a professional way or just honor the request.” I’m just spitballing here.

    16. LostInTheStacks*

      I can see why some of these things might be frustrating for her (I agree the disability suggestion isn’t great, and I would also balk at talking to HR if HR was my boss, and maybe someone who had endorsed the event I didn’t like)… but also, swearing at your supervisor and goading them into firing you is so out of line that to me, that kind of overshadows everything else.
      Has she seemed embarrassed about it? Or apologized at all? If someone reacts like that to getting feedback and doesn’t seem remorseful, I would no longer think it’s *your* responsibility to frame feedback in a way that keeps things from going off the rails. You may not have been perfect, but you were within the realm of reasonableness and she definitely was not.

      1. GG Two shoes*

        Thanks so much for the feedback. I am curious, if one of your employees said that they felt discriminated against because you asked them to participate in an event how would you respond? I was shocked and answered as best as I thought (trying to offer a solution) but I know it was the wrong one. I really would like help with this in case something like this happens in the future.

        For the record she hasn’t apologized. She hasn’t talked to me since that day. I haven’t had much reason to talk to her either but it’s been real weird. We sit close and it’s awkward.

        1. Trout 'Waver*

          When someone claims discrimination, it’s time to switch from solution mode to listening mode.

          Also, you told her to keep her attitude in check, which is infantilizing. Then you doubled down by accusing her of contributing to a toxic work environment. Then you pulled authority on her with the “other duties as assigned” line. Pulling authority is the tool of last resort for a manager. Think about how you would feel if your manager said any of those things to you.

          From her point of view, she did the off-work task and is now getting berated because she wasn’t happy enough to do it. I’m not defending her unprofessional behavior though, which certainly was grossly inappropriate.

          1. Parenthetically*

            Yes yes yes. Couldn’t put my finger on it, but you said just what I was trying to figure out how to say.

          2. Yorick*

            I mean, some people need to keep their attitude in check. This employee is one, actually, since she swore at her boss during a meeting to receive feedback.

        2. LostInTheStacks*

          I’m not a manager, but I think if I were an employee, I would prefer for my boss to just say something like “what makes you feel that way?”, or “what do you mean by discrimination?”, something open-ended like that. Leaping to the idea that it’s a disability can come off blunt, and some people might shut down rather than disclosing information.

          Plus, because by asking an open-ended question allows her to give her definition of discrimination, whereas jumping to a single protected class [disability] might give the impression that you’re arbitrarily dismissing other forms of discrimination. Like, if she claimed she was being discriminated against and you said “is it because of a disability? if so, let’s talk to HR, if not, then just remember what I said and work on your attitude,” and it later came out that she thought she was being singled out as a woman, for example, it wouldn’t reflect as well on you. Whereas if you had asked her for more information and she had been unable to come up with an actual claim beyond “because I didn’t feel like it,” then the ball is still in her court.

          But it’s really not a huge issue, and on the face of it I think you handled it pretty well! These kinds of things rely on context so much; it’s the sort of thing where this would be another notch against a boss who was otherwise terrible, and would barely register for a boss who is otherwise good, you know?

          1. GG Two shoes*

            Thanks for the response. I hope I can react better in the future. Have a good weekend.

    17. Where's the Le-Toose?*

      GG, I want to be supportive of you, but I have a much greater concern with your roll in this than your employee’s reaction. I think you need to take a step back and reassess your role as a manager first before deciding on how to deal with your employee.

      First, your boss told you an office Olympics was mandatory and you went along with it without initially pushing back. I don’t know why. This isn’t an episode of The Office. Time wasters like an office Olympics are terrible ways to engage in team building. Then there was push back and the event became voluntary but strongly encouraged. As a manager, you have to realize that for many employees, mandatory versus strongly encouraged is a distinction without a difference when it’s coming from your boss.

      Then for an event that was truly mandatory, you let your employee’s coworkers bully the employee into participating. If it’s voluntary, it’s voluntary. You should have put a stop to the coworkers ribbing your employee to participate. Did they do this in your presence? If so, as a manager, being silent when your employees engage in bad behavior condones their conduct. Did you start teasing your employee as well about the office Olympics? I hope not.

      The employee’s poor attitude about the office Olympics was totally justified in my mind. But you then merged that office Olympics attitude discussion with appropriate and legitimate workplace issues about the employee’s conduct on previous assignments. Your timing was terrible. I believe you said this employee had really negative reactions to two prior assignments. The discussion about the employee’s attitude should have been after the second bad reaction and started with “is everything okay?”

      This then led to a discussion about a possible medical accommodation. In my office, we have a script for these discussions and bringing it up in the context of an attitude towards an office Olympics was not good. Besides, you said this employee was “VERY VERY” good at her job. Why does she need a medical accommodation from office Olympics but not an accommodation on her real work duties?!?

      What killed me was your response that “other duties as assigned” included things like an office Olympics. Which would make the event mandatory, not voluntary. And just because you pay someone’s salary doesn’t make them a toy you get to wind up for your enjoyment and send them around the office. Other duties as assigned doesn’t include things like Dunderball. Never in a million years. Legitimate workplace training is other duties as assigned.

      I think the first thing you should do is apologize to your employee about your own conduct. Give a sincere apology. And apologize for letting her coworkers bully her and that you shouldn’t have brought up her attitude or a medical accommodation in the context of a ridiculous office time waster, and that those things will never happen again.

      Only then can you work on your employee’s attitude issues. If you don’t start with your own apology, I guarantee the employee will be gone in 6 months. Are you prepared to lose a great employee over an office Olympics?

      1. GG Two shoes*

        I understand your concern for my employee, however, I will let my boss decide if I should be a manager. I think you made a lot of assumptions here. NO ONE bullied her. Not one person- there was NO ribbing. I would never accept that. I don’t know where you got that.

        If you had read my other comments you would see that the ‘not my job’ comment was about the other X and Y assignments, not this. I lumped this discussion together because I don’t want to micro manage her attitude and thought it better to address it all as one.

        I couldn’t do anything about the Olympics event at the time I was told it was mandatory and my boss is a VP. I would rather not loss MY job over this.

        I didn’t bring up the discrimination/medical issue. She did. She told me she felt discriminated against but wouldn’t elaborate. When I suggested we maybe talk to HR is needed she said no I dropped it.

        Again, I appreciate your concern here- it’s good to see how this could be interpreted.

        1. Trout 'Waver*

          From your own words, you said that she set a boundary:

          rolled her eyes, crossed her arms and said wasn’t she going to play.

          Then another employee convinced her to cross that boundary. After which she joked about leaving instead of participating. This is textbook bullying.

          I’ll take you at your word if you insist. But please reconsider and take a closer look.

          1. Yorick*

            I don’t know how it went down but you’re making some strong assumptions. Another coworker could try to convince her to play without it qualifying as bullying. For example, kindly saying, “I think it’s fun, let’s be partners?” to someone who balks at doing an activity isn’t bullying.

            1. Trout 'Waver*

              It’s a soft line and definitely not black and white. But when someone takes a stand and you try to get them to change their position using social pressure, I think that falls under the definition of bullying.

              If someone clearly says no, and you continue to cajole them, then yes that is bullying.

              1. TL -*

                That’s…a rather broad and not widely accepted definition of bullying.

                Also, mandatory is mandatory whether or not you agree with it; the way to get out of something you can’t do is to pleasantly announce you cannot participate in X way this year but you will be happy to do Y instead (scorekeep, chearlead, organize snacks, help set up/take down.)

                The employee did not set a boundary. She threw a tantrum and it is unacceptable in the workplace to do so.

      2. Trout 'Waver*

        I agree here. It’s going to be much more difficult to address the other issues because now this employee is going to feel that she is being singled out for resisting participation in the office Olympics, even if the other concerns are separate and valid.

    18. LilySparrow*

      From some of your replies it sounds like the conversation blurred together actual job duties (x and y) with this supposedly non-mandatory Olympics event.

      She wasn’t expressing her frustration in a professional way – not at all! And it looks like professional communication in general is a big problem for her.
      But I can certainly understand how she felt.

      I’m trying to imagine myself in her shoes.
      1) Management and my peers are pressuring me to participate in a non-work activity that I deeply want to opt out of, but don’t feel I can without repercussions.

      2) I try to show up and get through it, but am not successful at hiding my discomfort, and make some last-ditch efforts to get out of it, which wind up just making everything worse.

      3) My manager takes me to task for my inability to fake enthusiasm for this supposedly non-mandatory, non-work related activity.

      4) I try to express that I have serious reasons for my feelings about this activity, without violating my privacy.

      5) My manager asks me to prove I have a legitimate reason to dislike the thing that supposedly isn’t mandatory and has nothing to do with my job performance, by escalating the situation to HR/the big boss (who is presumably the source of the pressure in the first place).

      6) I don’t want to do that, so my manager starts taking me to task about my “attitude,” including my general demeanor when I perform different job functions, even though I am a very high performer.

      Yeah, I certainly am not going to feel that expectations are clear and reasonable here. And I’m super-duper not going to feel that I can come to my manager to discuss problems without backlash.

      1. GG Two shoes*

        Thanks for your feedback. I disagree with your assessment of a couple of items, but since you weren’t there and are only relying on my account I can only fault myself for that.

        Have a good weekend.

        1. Safetykats*

          GG, I just want to say that I think you made the best of a bad situation. As a manager, I don’t think that suggesting talking to HR is necessarily a threatening thing, as their job is to help work out these kinds of issues. It looks like some commenters think a suggesting to involve HR is tantamount to threatening to fire someone, but it’s not. If I felt like my boss had made some kind of meeting or activity mandatory, and I had staff who were apparently over reacting about that, I would absolutely get HR involved. In fact if I didn’t, I would likely be told I should have. You’ve had a lot of suggestions about how to deal with this employee going forward, but I think once she alleged discrimination you have really no choice but to involve HR, for your own protection and the company’s. I would absolutely talk to them before you re-engage with employee in this issue, and maybe request that they be present when you do.

          1. A Worker Bee*

            You say “If I felt like my boss had made some kind of meeting or activity mandatory, and I had staff who were apparently over reacting about that, I would absolutely get HR involved.” But GG has already said in her initial comment that it’s small company so HR is also our boss, so now do you see why “It looks like some commenters think a suggesting to involve HR is tantamount to threatening to fire someone” (your words, hence the quotes)?

        2. LilySparrow*

          Like I said, I’m trying to see it from her point of view. Obviously her POV is radically different than yours, or you wouldn’t both be confused and irritated by each other.

    19. Yorick*

      Other responses are focusing on the mandatory aspect of the event, but there’s more to it than that. If she’s rudely pushing back about doing actual work, that’s a big problem. I think you should talk to her again but this time, focus on the assignments that she had an attitude about instead of the event.

      1. zora*

        I think everyone is getting sidetracked by the legitimately confusing event situation. But she should not be cursing at her boss and she should not be getting an attitude about work tasks she is assigned. That is the part you should be focused on.

    20. doubtful*

      I have to disagree with a lot of the comments here. I don’t think you did anything wrong.

      1) Work “morale builders” are totally normal, often annoying, but generally mandatory. Relaying your boss’s order that she attend was totally appropriate. Ideally stuff like that would be voluntary, but in reality it rarely is. If the event was disturbing/painful for her (as opposed to just annoying), she should have spoken to you about that beforehand in a professional way. Going and then having a bad attitude was inappropriate.

      2) It was also totally normal for you to inquire what the issue was, since you can’t help her to avoid a problem in future if she doesn’t give you some idea what her concern was. If the issue is that she has back problems than you can take that into consideration if physical activities are ever proposed in future, likewise if the issue is anxiety about public speaking, you’d take a different tack, which would again be different if the problem is some religious objection.

      3) Her reaction was way over the top and entirely inappropriate. And it sounds like it was intended to (and did) put you on the defensive. You shouldn’t have to talk someone down from swearing at you. She was in the wrong, not you. Alison actually has a bunch of advice on how to deal with this sort of thing, including this:

      “Managers sometimes worry that they can’t address attitude issues as straightforwardly as they would performance issues, but you can and you should. In fact, you should frame it exactly the the same way you would a performance issue — “what you’re doing is ___, and what I need is ___.” Just make sure that you’re specific about what she’s doing that needs to change (as opposed to just labeling it a “bad attitude”). For instance: “Part of what we need in this role is someone with a cheerful, can-do attitude and a willingness to hear feedback. That means I need you to be pleasant to coworkers, participate in meetings, not roll your eyes or otherwise be dismissive when people talk, and be open to discussing areas where I ask you to do something differently.””

      I’ll try to post the link in a subsequent reply.

  14. soscrescentfresh*

    Tiny, tiny thing. But normally for birthdays in my office, colleagues decorate your cubicle and sign a card, and the boss gives you a bottle of wine. (Or similar non-alcoholic beverage if preferred.) It’s my birthday and I just rolled up to find no decorations, card, etc. No one said happy birthday as I passed them. I’ve been here almost a decade and this is the first time my birthday has been overlooked. Fingers crossed something pops up while I’m away from my desk for lunch? Womp.

    1. Seriously?*

      Can you mention to someone that it is your birthday? Maybe talk about plans you have later that are birthday related?

    2. stefanielaine*

      Is there something going on with the person whose job it is to keep track of birthdays? Anything else going on to make you think it might be personal as opposed to just an oversight? If not, I might suggest telling someone it’s your birthday so they can get something together for you/not miss it again next year.

      1. socrescentfresh*

        We have a written rotation of whose turn it is to circulate a card and decorate the birthday person’s cube. It’s possible the person “assigned” to my birthday forgot to look at the sheet.

    3. Dr Wizard, PhD*

      I’d say it’s way more likely someone forgot or dropped the ball than that it’s a deliberate oversight, particularly since it’s been celebrated for a decade before now. If you casually mention to a colleague your birthday plans that evening or something then – at least in my office – there would be a scramble to arrange things and much facepalming backstage for forgetting.

    4. Kathleen_A*

      I was left out one year, too – it was because I had a new supervisor and mostly new co-workers, and a lot of these things are supervisor-led in my organization. That really wasn’t a perfect excuse since birthdays are listed a couple of different places, but…eh, I figured missing one year wasn’t a big deal. That doesn’t mean it’s a nice feeling, though, so I definitely get while you’re feeling a bit forsaken.

      1. Arjay*

        This was me this year. I’m sort of in between managers right now, and I’m definitely an individual contributor awash in a sea of teams. Usually another team adopts me for potlucks and things, but my birthday was ignored this year. Worst part is that it was on a Saturday, so when nothing happened on Friday, I thought it might happen on Monday. I’m fb friends with some coworkers who wished me a happy birthday on Saturday, so they were aware of it, but Monday passed without cake too. I really like cake.

    5. SoCalHR*

      Its not a tiny thing – there was a whole post on it yesterday! My birthday was last week and it did get acknowledged but not in the same way others’ do and so it felt a little disappointing as well (i.e. furthered the HR-is-no-fun vibe). Hang in there and HAPPY BIRTHDAY fellow Aries!

    6. Applesauced*

      Hey – it’s my birthday too! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!
      It’s weird for me because I’m hoteling at another branch of my company this week, so no one knows

    7. Bea*

      I’m literally writing a birthdays procedure up. I came into the job and got half a days training. Birthdays were mentioned but not covered in terms of how to proceed. I’ve been a wreck and dropped the ball twice this year. Then had to retool with my boss because we were doing something not acceptable per tax laws.

      I’m so sorry this happened to you and sincerely hope it’s an oversight. Happy Birthday!!

  15. Leslie Knope*

    I’ve been working in an administrative role at my current company for about three years. My company is small (only about 12 employees) and I have taken on a lot of extra responsibilities over the years. About a year ago I received a title promotion from coordinator to manager, and I now manage my company’s finances and am about to take over management of our intern program.

    I really like my job and (for the most part) I enjoy what I do. However, my biggest gripe is that I work at a reception desk. While it is often quiet here, during busier times the doorbell is ringing a lot and we have many visitors going in and out of the office. When meetings end, a lot of people will stop right by my desk and have conversations (literally while hanging onto my desk) on the way out. This is really distracting when I am trying to focus on certain tasks (such as reconciling our books or making important updates to our financial records!). I’m also not keen on being up here once I start managing our interns because I feel like there may be situations where I need to talk to them one-on-one.

    My boss is aware I would like to get away from the reception desk, and about a year ago mentioned they would have to think about it. At the time there was nothing they could do. We currently have two vacant offices and I would really like to move into one before we hire new employees. We will probably be hiring new staff soon, and the good thing about my organization is that there is some flexibility with the roles, so an incoming newbie could potentially be assigned to the receptionist desk.

    I am at the point where having my own space is becoming a must-have for me – especially if they keep handing me more responsbilities. I want the responsibility, it’s just difficult for me to focus sometimes with all the distractions. There are times when I am so distracted by what is going on around me, and I desperately wish I had a door I could close to drown out the noise and activity. How can I better advocate for myself to make this move happen? I don’t want to come across as whiney or entitled, but this is really important to me and I feel like if I am going to continue to do my job well, a move to an office with an actual door will help tremendously.

    1. Tara S.*

      If reception duties are not actually part of your job, and there are two offices currently open, and you haven’t brought it up for awhile, now sounds like the perfect time to bring it up. You have a lot of the arguments already there: it’s hard for you to concentrate while doing things like reconciling books with all the distractions, your boss already said it was a possibility, you feel the move would help your performance. I say go for it! Good luck!

    2. AnonEMoose*

      Assuming you have a good rapport with your boss, why not go to her and say some version of what you’ve said here? Pared down a bit, of course. But something like: As we’ve discussed in the past, it’s now very difficult for me to be based at the reception desk due to a) my need to concentrate on duties like reconciling the books, b) the upcoming need to be able to talk to interns privately when I’ll be managing them, and c) the level of distractions due to visitors, conversations between others, etc. I know when we discussed before, there wasn’t a space for me to move to. As we now have two empty offices, I would like to move into one of these and assign one of the new hires to the reception desk. Would that be an option?

      That might be longer than you need, but you get the idea. Your boss might not actually remember the previous conversation if it was a year ago. So reminding her sounds like a totally normal thing to do, and as the offices are empty, it won’t hurt to get your request in now.

      1. tangerineRose*

        And I wonder if the boss really wants the books to be reconciled right out at the receptionist’s desk, in front of anyone who walks by? I don’t mean that there’s anything to hide; just that a lot of people would prefer their finances to be private.

    3. Trout 'Waver*

      At the bare minimum, doing the company’s finances has got to require an office and a locked filing cabinet. Can you use that as leverage?

      Also, in some office cultures, you could just move your stuff into one of the open offices and dare ’em to move you back. I wouldn’t recommend this approach to a novice at office politics, though.

    4. Bea*

      You’re handling financials, you need to be away from “prying eyes” is how I would voice it now.

      You may need to ask about dividing time and confirming no need for a full receptionist on duty until you hire one.

      Given the size you may still always do reception and clerical duties. I’m a career accounting/business operations manager and the smaller the pot the more menial tasks you’ll never get rid of even if you’re made CEO at some point.

    5. Q*

      You absolutely should not be managing the company’s finances at the reception desk. And you will need private space for meetings with your team members. If your boss is not aware of this, s/he is clueless.

  16. Jamir (*

    Removed because I’m pretty sure this is subtweeting a commenter here rather than really seeking advice. If I got it wrong, I sincerely apologize and please feel free to email me.

  17. Job Searching in Jacksonville*

    I have an interview on Tuesday with a company that has 9 employees acording to the person I spoke with during my phone interview. Does anyone have good questions I can ask to get a better feel for the culture of a company that is this small?

    Also what are some of the pros of working in a small office? I have seen plenty of Boris story cons, but what are some of the less common issues that you have experienced working in a small office?

    Thanks so much for the help!

    1. beanie beans*

      My husband works in a small office and here are some of the pros (and yep, plenty of cons!)

      -Decisions (should) get made quickly
      -When the company is doing well, it’s easy to treat all the employees with a bonus/celebration/gift.
      -A little less formal than larger companies – a little more flexibility and I feel like they treat each other a bit more like humans because they know each other better than if you worked in an office with 100 people.

      1. Job Searching in Jacksonville*

        If you don’t mind my asking, what are the things he has found to be the biggest issues for working in a small business that I might not think about or have heard about here on AAM?

        1. AnonEMoose*

          I’m not Beanie Beans, but I’ve worked in small offices before. And given a choice, will never do so again. One of my personal biggest workplace commandments when job seeking is “Never accept a position in which you will be the only person in the office who is never allowed to say no.”

          Twice, in previous positions, I was more or less low person in the hierarchy. Which meant that a lot of stuff got dumped on me because there was no one else to do it/no one else was willing to do it. Not that I was necessarily willing. But it needed to be done, and everyone else had already declined.

          In a smaller environment, office politics can be more intense. If it’s a health environment, that may not be a huge factor, but if it’s the least bit toxic…it’s probably going nowhere good.

          PTO can be trickier to negotiate if there are fewer people/no one to cover. Which may or may not be an issue, depending on the specific job.

        2. Zennish*

          As always, YMMV, but never again a small workplace for me…

          I was once told in an interview (company of 5 people) that I needed to be “comfortable with ambiguity”. That translated to “We don’t put any policy on paper, and just sort of make it up as we go. Also, your supervisor is passive-aggressive and bitter, so they will refuse to train you, then complain to the boss because you aren’t performing as expected.”

          The same place also made a big production out of how they didn’t stand on rank…when everything from how conveniently placed your mailbox was, to whether you could talk in meetings, was based on rank.

          The boss and the second ranked person were lovers, who regularly let their personal issues spill over into the office… it was an awesome place, and by awesome I mean “inspiring great apprehension or fear”.

        3. beanie beans*

          Similar to what Zennish and Moose said, these are the ones I hear him complain about the most:

          -One toxic person that isn’t dealt with has a much bigger impact on the work environment. His company doesn’t tend to deal with conflict well, maybe because they all know each other so well it’s harder to deal with problems. May just be his owner.
          -Decisions are made quickly (no bureaucracy) but if the owner/manager/head of the business makes bad decisions, there’s not a lot the rest of the company can do besides continue to advise. A bad leader can make things hell.
          -Like Zennish said, company policies change at the whim of the owner. Sometimes it’s minor stuff like beard length (yep!) and dress codes, other times it’s major stuff like work schedules and vacation policies.
          -This is hopefully not true of most small companies, but my personal opinion is that the management (i.e. owner/manager) get away with poor behavior that wouldn’t fly at a large company. No HR, they truly don’t know or understand the laws well, employees are in less of a position to stand up for themselves.

          But he’s been with them for almost 15 years, so it hasn’t been enough to make him leave! I think he likes the non-corporate feel, the fact that they all get along fairly well, and that the owner does a lot for the employees because they are a lot closer than coworkers at a large company.

        4. Keep Your Eyes On The Prize*

          I would say the physical layout of the office is the biggest issue. I worked for a lawyer and he and the accountant/paralegal/manager had their own office. They would close their doors to work. It meant I was sitting alone all day in the reception area with no natural light because their offices had all the windows. Some days the only person I saw was the mailman. The work wasn’t hard but it was a depressing office and often I felt like a prisoner returning to jail whenever I came back from lunch.

    2. Job Searching in Jacksonville*

      Oops, it looks like Horror story got autocorrected to Boris story. How that relates in not sure.

    3. Amy Farrah Fowler*

      I really think the pros come from the ability to wear many hats. Small companies can be great resume builders because you have an opportunity to take on more things and get experience in multiple areas that just wouldn’t be possible in a large company.

    4. OtterB*

      I would ask about interactions. My organization had 10 employees when I started (we’ve grown some since). Ours was an odd combination of silos and all-hands-on-deck. We weren’t big enough to have more than one person doing any one task, so mostly we each did our own thing and as a result there wasn’t much opportunity to bounce ideas off people and not a lot of collaboration – not in an unfriendly way, just that there wasn’t much overlap. On the other hand, when we had big tasks – a mailing, packet stuffing for a major conference, etc. – it was all hands on deck and everyone from the Executive Director down pitched in. This isn’t right or wrong, it’s just something to think about.

    5. Ally A*

      I would ask about benefits and infrastructure. I’ve worked for very small nonprofits and often if there’s under 10 employees it can be hard to get group insurance plans (if you’re in the U.S.). This may not be as big of a deal with ACA as it was a few years ago when I was at an org that only had 6 employees, but there we were given an allowance per month for health insurance, but we had to find our own. Also, I think smaller orgs can be less organized around policies – IME a lot of times if something has never come up before (think parental leave, ADA accomodations), they don’t have anything in place.

      Also, infrastructure – HR, tech support, printing and copying, etc. What’s in place and what do employees do themselves? Do they have any kind of a contract with a copier service? With tech support (even as simple as virus software)? If you’re coming from a large org, I think this could be a bit of an adjustment. Not having a quick help line to call about your computer, not having bulk office supplies available, etc.

      Also, with that few employees there may be very little to no support staff. So you may need to do administrative stuff that you’re not used to (of course this will depend on your job and the org).

    6. NonnyNon*

      I work in a company that has 10 employees plus the two owners, split into two departments (so each department is about 5 employees overseen by one of the owners).


      -I get a lot of experience working on a wide range of projects. This job really has been great for building up my resume.
      -The company is less formal, more flexible, and more willing to accommodate temporary schedule changes. I wear jeans to work every day and it doesn’t matter if I show up at 7:30am or 10am, as long as I still work 40 hours each week.

      -Decisions get bottlenecked with the owners and don’t go anywhere, so overall change is very, very slow to happen. All of our equipment and processes are embarrassingly outdated because the owners are stuck in their ways and don’t want to spend money to update things.
      -No company expense accounts, which is a Big Deal for the kind of work we do. Employees front any money needed and submit a reimbursement sheet every month or so… which then has to be processed by one of the owners, so repayment can take anywhere from a week to two months to go through.
      -We don’t have a dedicated office manager/admin, so some things slip through the cracks because it’s assumed that “someone else” handled it (like ordering new toner cartridges for the printer). And a lot of my time is spent answering customer phone calls, usually about work done by the other department that I’m not involved with at all.
      -Benefits are terrible. Most employees use their spouse’s benefits (including the owners). I think there’s only 2 or 3 people who actually get their health insurance through the company, everyone else pays for their own or is on their spouse’s plan.
      -Payroll problems!! We use an outside payroll company and one of the owners is responsible for submitting payroll information. In the 2 years I’ve been working here my paycheck has been delayed three times- once because of an error with our payroll company, but twice because of user error on the part of the owner.

      -Most people have been here for 10+ years. There’s a definite divide between the older employees and the newer ones. Most new employees use this job as a jumping off point for something better and don’t stick around for very long.

      1. beanie beans*

        That’s funny, at my husband’s company decisions get made so fast. Not always the most informed decision but things go quickly compared to my bureaucratic job. I guess the takeaway is that the work environment and culture is very much defined by the management style of the owner!

    7. Sour Grapes*

      I work in a very small business – I’m the only full time on site, have one part time employee and we both report to the owners and the GM (owners son). I think one thing for me was the lack of any sort of standardized processes for anything. While some people may thrive on that (“hooray, I get to create everything the way I like it!”) it’s had some challenges for me as I would get disciplined for things that I didn’t know that I didn’t know. So I may ask questions along the lines of do they have processes in place, or if his position is one to make up new processes then if they have a clear idea of their expectations and what they’re asking for. And I think that something else that’s important is that they have a good long term plan. I didn’t ask before I was hired, and the owners are in their mid-70s with no clear plan for anything that may happen in the future (and now it wouldn’t be well received for me to ask about it).

    8. Hnl123*

      I worked at a place with only 5 people and it was one of my favorite jobs. I think when it’s this small, your experience is directly related to every one ‘s personality, dice there’s no escaping them. (In bigger companies, it’s easier to avoid people you don’t like.) I would ask if you could meet something the other people in the office to eat a feel.

      What I love about small places, IF you have a good boss, is things move much faster since there is little hierarchy and little politics. BUT if you disagree with your boss, it’s hard because there aren’t other voices to agree with your point of view. Rules can also be more informal, and my boss was much more willing to let us have flex time, extra vacations, etc since there was no HR policy. I’ve found that people who didn’t last long were people who had personal issues with the boss that’s magnified when there aren’t more people as buffers.

  18. moving?*

    I am in the very beginning phases of thinking about making a move to a city near where I am originally from. It’s just a thought right now, so nothing is official. My current boss used to work in that city, and I am wondering if it would be appropriate to tell her I am thinking about a move and ask her if she has any advice for places to look for jobs or any connections.

    1. beanie beans*

      I wouldn’t! It could consciously or unconsciously shape how she gives you assignments and treats you in the office. Use other resources (social media, friends, AAM?) to find out more about the city!

    2. Emily S.*

      IMHO, it’s best not to let her know that you’re thinking of leaving your job. Who knows how long it could take to find a position in that city? Job searches can take ages.

    3. Millennial Lawyer*

      I wouldn’t do it unless you KNOW you are about to move to that city. Once you’re set on your plans, and you’d have to communicate with your boss that you’re leaving anyhow, that would be a good time to ask for recommendations.

  19. ThursdaysGeek*

    Someone suggested this and I agree. Yesterday we had a post about recognizing employees in the wrong way. Can people share accounts of recognizing employees that worked well?

    1. stefanielaine*

      Money and time off. You can get creative about how those are applied, but ultimately, that’s how you should be rewarding and retaining your top performers.

      My fiance’s current company, on the other hand, gives everyone a certain number of points per month that they can award to their fellow employees for a job well done, and those points translate directly into money each month, either cash or Amazon gift cards. It’s an awesome way for employees to get meaningfully rewarded for good work that their bosses don’t see, and it builds comradery amongst employees.

      My last job was very lip-servicey about work/life balance and living our best lives and they were big on giving achievement certificates and other useless things, but then they gave us EIGHT paid days off per year. EIGHT. Per YEAR. Don’t be that company!

      1. King Friday XIII*

        I had a retail job as a doll hair stylist where we could write up little certificates recognizing our coworkers for being awesome and then we could trade those certificates in for snacks or soda, and it was RIDICULOUSLY good for building good team relationships. We appreciated the heck out of each other and we all knew it. XD

        1. Zennish*

          We tried that for a while, and discovered that our high performing teams would only recognize each other if someone single-handedly saved the company, and the low performing teams were like “You showed up for work today! You deserve a prize!” This is why we can’t have nice things. Sigh.

      2. Britt*

        Ex-job implemented the reward process that your Fiance’s company uses. It seemed like it would be awesome, until co-workers started giving points for “Jane brought green beer yay! 50 pts!” “Jack helped me kill a spider, 25 pts!”– yes these really happened and mgmt counted them! it really became a favoritism contest in a group that already had a flavor of favoritism

      3. A Worker Bee*

        My company has that. It’s one of the big five banks in Canada. And in my department it is just one more thing for management to play favouritism with.

    2. miyeritari*

      This will come off as sarcastic, but honestly I think the best way to recognize people is with dollars.

    3. E*

      Verbal or written commendation for hard work is appreciated also. Knowing that management sees and acknowledges your contributions is helpful in building morale.

    4. Lumen*

      “It’s nice to be liked, but it’s better by far to get paid
      (I know that most of the friends that I have don’t really see it that way)
      But if you could give them each one wish
      How much do you wanna bet?
      They’d wish success for themselves and their friends
      And that would include lots of money”

      – Liz Phair, ‘S***loads of Money’

    5. CatCat*

      Money and extra time off are always great.

      When that’s not possible (heyo, government employees), I’ve appreciated recognition. For example, I feel chuffed when my manager has told me after meeting with Higher Ups that (1) Higher Ups appreciated and had good feedback on whatever project I had worked on, and (2) manager appreciates what I did not the project.

    6. KG*

      Once a year, a previous boss would have people fill out a check list of how they liked to be recognized. Like, in front of peers, 1 on 1, via announcement, via private email, etc. There was space to list your favorite snacks and small treats. Everybody was recognized for the same kinds of things, but in different fashions. I’d get an email praising my work on a project with the department and big boss copied. My coworker would get a thank you card and a pack of M&Ms on his desk. Besides being nice to be recognized, it felt more personal. And it was helpful to know that just because some people weren’t being praised in staff meetings, it didn’t mean they weren’t doing great work. They just didn’t like public attention.

      As far as the most popular thing that boss handed out… off-the-books PTO. She couldn’t enter it in PeopleSoft, but kept track privately. If you wanted to use it, you just emailed to say you were taking a bonus day. I usually got an extra 4 days/year. It didn’t pay out when you left, of course. The higher-ups definitely would not have been pleased, but it was very much appreciated by the staff.

      1. ThursdaysGeek*

        I really like that – someone else yesterday used a phrase something like “love languages for the office”. That’s impressive for that boss.

      2. Blue_eyes*

        Love your boss. It’s so self-aware and empathetic to reward people that way! So many people just assume others want to be recognized in the same ways they do, which leads to stuff like praising an employee in a meeting while that employee is trying to crawl under the table in embarrassment.

    7. ThursdaysGeek*

      I worked at a place that had a ‘Jacksonian’ meeting. We would send an email when a co-worker did something above and beyond, or helped us out. Then in the Jacksonian meeting, my boss had $20 bills (thus the name for the meeting). He’d read all the emails and sometimes he’d hand out one bill to the best of the lot, and sometimes hand out a bill to everyone who had gotten a commendation email.

      One time we were told to meet and didn’t know why, and he asked us if we thought we were doing well at our jobs, and then handed everyone a $50 bill.

      We also got profit sharing, so every quarter we’d get a bonus check, and those were often big enough to count as an extra paycheck.

      Oh, and they paid all insurance costs for the employee and family, no matter what the family size was. I think they still do that, even though it really costs.

      This was a small, family owned business, and it wasn’t all wonderful, which is why I’m not there anymore. But I think they did employee recognition well.

      1. A Worker Bee*

        The $50 bill story, profit sharing and insurance for the whole family are the best best employee recognition I’ve heard of yet. The Jacksonian meetings I don’t agree with because we have something similar and it just becomes a popularity contest.

    8. Blue_eyes*

      At just under a year on the job, my boss called me into her office, told me I was the best assistant she’d ever had, and gave me a significant pay bump. Both her comments and the pay increase were an excellent way to be recognized.

    9. Triumphant Fox*

      We had an anonymous box for suggestions and kudos. Each month, we had a company meeting (it wasn’t a large company) and those who had received kudos would get a gift card. Managers also had days off and gift cards they could give out, and would do so when we had pushed particularly hard.

    10. Faintlymacabre*

      For a couple of years in college, I had a part time job. When I left to study abroad, they gave me $500. It was so touching, because I loved working there and it showed that they really valued me too.

  20. Allie O*

    I’ve been reading AAM for a while now and love it! Does anyone have any other career-focused blog recommendations in addition to AAM? I’m a 30 y/o woman in a fairly corporate job so something along those lines would be preferred but I’m open to all suggestions :)

    1. Probably Nerdy*

      I like the Vital Smarts blog. It’s called “crucial skills” or something. I’ve read a few of their books and found them more or less useful.

    2. SophieChotek*

      Evil HR Lady (Suzanne Lucas). (She can be a bit conservative sometimes, I think?)
      Ask a Headhunter (or subscribe to email digest)
      Ask Liz (at Forbes)

  21. Alternative Person*

    So after being bounced around four separate branches this week, as well as doing my own work at my regular branch (thus cementing my role as designated ping pong ball), my manager rejected the plan he asked me to make on the grounds of it would require people checking and maintaining a simple excel spreadsheet.

    (I think between the lines it was also because it was not like popular co-worker’s plan for a different group of clients but I maintain privately that his plan is not good because it crams too much work into a limited amount of time.)

    I was so excited after returning from my two week training trip, but spending time in a good environment really emphasized all the bad aspects of my current job situation. I had decided I wouldn’t start job hunting until after the distance aspect of my training programme was mostly done but I’m going to start searching now because I am just so frustrated going to work day after day. Sure it’ll be upheaval but egads I really want out now.

  22. fposte*

    You guys, there was the most amazing and horrible work story and narrative coincidence breaking on reddit’s legal advice sub this week.

    Earlier in the week somebody posted that they had given a baby shower to a co-worker who didn’t want one, and could they get into trouble? Subsequent Q&A revealed that the co-worker was an observant Jew who was deeply opposed to baby showers for cultural reasons, and that the OP was shockingly intolerant. So far, so gross.

    Then a few days later somebody posted about being given personally given something at a potluck that was later revealed to breach her dietary restrictions, and was this a hostile workplace? And after a little Q&A a very sharp commenter put two and two together: this person was the target of the previous person, and she’d been deliberately given non-kosher food by the OP of the prior post. Neither of them knew the other was posting on reddit.

    Victim OP was initially just shocked that people knew so much about her personal business, but redditors pointed out that the previous post was a goldmine for her since it proved she was targeted for her faith, and they yanked out deleted comments from the previous post for the OP to share. So hopefully, somewhere today, a person who has been persecuting her co-worker and stupidly telling the internet about it is getting her ass handed to her.

        1. Michelle.*

          I’m reading it now. Slow day at work and this IS amazing. I hope the person and her team that are discriminating against the woman get taken behind the wood shed.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      WOW. That assistant manager woman, the one who threw the baby shower and thought the Jewish woman was “rude” because she didn’t want quiche (which probably had bacon in it)? NIGHTMARE. My hackles go way up when people say they’re “just trying to be nice” while blatantly disregarding information I give them. Thank you for sharing.

    2. Trout 'Waver*

      I just want to point out that the /r/legaladvice community is poorly moderated and you should not trust legal advice from anyone other than your own attorney. Including this advice.

      1. fposte*

        I would say that for pretty much every online forum I know, in fact, including a few other legal ones.

      2. Elsajeni*

        I’ve seen people (also identifying themselves as attorneys) say basically this but add that it can be useful at the level of “is this a lawyer problem, a send-a-strongly-worded-letter problem, or a that-sucks-but-is-perfectly-legal problem” — do you think that’s reasonable?

        1. fposte*

          I think it’s true as long as you have some filtering ability yourself. You have to be able to discount the idiot on one extreme who says “You should press charges and get a billion dollars from the state!” and the idiot on the other extreme who says “You should hear what I had to deal with–this is nothing and stop being a baby,” to say nothing of “the law is that you can safely do this/have this” but only in the commenter’s state and not in the poster’s. I would say the duller and less sensational your question, the better your advice is likely to be overall and the more likely you are to be able to process the range of responses. Easement questions fare very well :-).

    3. Ella*

      I was going to post about this! The whole thing brought my productivity to a complete standstill for about an hour this morning. Hoooooooly cow.

      1. fposte*

        Are you a redditor too or has it escaped reddit? I kind of hope for Victim OP’s sake it doesn’t, since she didn’t seem like she’d enjoy that, but it is a jaw-dropping story.

        1. Ella*

          I also saw it on reddit. I subscribe to the legaladvice sub so it showed up while I was browsing.

    4. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Holy cow… that is some crazy shit. I hope that the Victim OP gets some justice.

    5. Savannnah*

      YIKES. This is why people need to sit down when they don’t understand something. Judaism is intensely superstitious and even some culturally Jewish women, those who aren’t observant, don’t have baby showers because you might ‘tempt the fates’ and something bad will happen to the baby. People usually get around this by storing baby things at the grandparents house or a sibling but its still a big deal to force someone to have a celebration that this woman thinks could hurt her baby. You can’t take that back with any apology. Just another layer of Jews having to navigate rejecting normative ‘why would anyone not like this’ celebrations (re: Christmas)

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        See also: “Oh, her family’s Jewish. I would steer away from sending flowers to the funeral, because we often don’t do that and it would be weird to ask. We usually send food, and a donation is fine, or even just a note.” “What? That’s stupid. I’m sending flowers.”

      2. LostInTheStacks*

        Yeah, ugh, this whole topic made me cringe. I had a cousin who had a miscarriage, and when she got pregnant again she was understandably rather nervous as well as excited, and she was scrupulous about researching Jewish pregnancy traditions and following them to the letter. (I think it was partly for her own peace of mind, too. It made her feel better to know she was putting good vibes out there.) She had a work friend who just Did Not Get It; like, didn’t actually plan a baby shower like the person mentioned above, but definitely kept asking her why she wouldn’t have one and tried to get other coworkers to join in.

        The final straw was when my cousin came to work one day to find a balloon and a few little gifts (a onesie, a bib, etc) on her desk, and her friend said something like “well if you weren’t so stubborn, we could have just given these to you at a real shower.” My cousin told me she “pretty much exploded” and told her that she had already miscarried once and fully explained why she didn’t want a baby shower. Previously she had only said Jews don’t usually have them, this time she explained that having one is almost considered willfully putting the baby and the mother at risk. The coworker was super embarrassed and apologized, but their friendship never really recovered, and she left for a new job a few years later.

        Anyway, she now has two lovely boys, ages 4 and 1, and no one bothered her about having a shower for her youngest, although her coworkers did buy her a lovely quilt and a Babies R Us gift card *after* he was born.

      3. JokersandRogues*

        There are many cultures that don’t hold baby showers until after the baby’s birth. It could even have been a personal belief and they still shouldn’t have held it. Just disrespectful all around.

    6. Fake old Converse shoes (not in the US)*

      Slightly related, my true first job (not my first job in my field) gave easter eggs for all their employees.
      Regardless of dietary restrictions.
      Regardless of religion.
      Handed out by someone dressed as the Easter Bunny.
      And it was a Germany-based company, so you’d think they knew how to deal with this.

      1. NorthCalifHR*

        I worked for a Human Resources executive that invited the national team to a ‘kahlua pig’ feast; sent personalized Christmas ornaments and decorated Easter eggs to team members; group email-shamed several team members for taking time off for Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashana … and topped off the year by requiring us all to attend a 2-day diversity training. Clear to all of us that he had no clue at all about diversity, inclusion, consideration … words fail.

      2. Julia*

        I actually think that Germany and Germans are way behind in diversity and tolerance of others. Heck, our governing party has Christian in their name!

    7. MuseumChick*

      O.M.G….this is amazing and horrifying and hilarious and so many other things mixed into one my brain can’t handle it.

      Am I terrible person for wanting to know what happens next?

    8. Naptime Enthusiast*

      There’s a goldmine of quotes and information here, but I think my favorite is “Inclusion does not mean assimilation. It means acceptance and accommodating difference.”

    9. Blue_eyes*

      Wow. Well…that was … a thing. So many feelings about this and so angry that this manager is being so insensitive to the pregnant woman’s religious practices.

      My husband has kept kosher his whole life. Once in college, someone baked a muffin with LARD and left it in his dorm room for him, hoping he would eat it because I guess she though his religious dietary restrictions were stupid or something. (Fortunately, he didn’t eat it because he didn’t know who it came from and why it was in his room.) I think she got some sensitivity training from the college for that one. This was 12 years ago, and before I knew him, and it still makes me boiling mad just thinking about it.

      If someone says they don’t eat/do/like something for ANY reason (religious, medical, personal preference) just shrug and move along because it’s not your d*mn business!

      1. Queen of Cans & Jars*

        One of my biggest WTF with some people is why the dietary choices of other’s drive them to do utterly batshit things. Like WHY? Why on earth do you give a flying eff that the person who is five cubicles down from you keeps kosher, or doesn’t eat meat, or eats nothing but McDonald’s french fries and milkshakes? You are not cooking for them, you are not going to have to take care of them if they get diabetes, your livelihood doesn’t depend on whether they consume bacon, WHATEVER. It is 100% banana crackers. (Thank you to whoever here coined that phrase; I’ve been dying to use it.)

        1. I'm A Little TeaPot*

          My coworker is strict Jewish and keeps kosher. I have (hopefully politely) asked a few questions, and he’s been very kind about answering them. I have also explicitly asked him under what conditions he could eat treats brought in, so that if possible I could follow the rules. (I can’t, but at least I know that!) I’ve done WAY more googling to satisfy my curiosity.

          1. Blue_eyes*

            Most people don’t mind questions :). We know it’s confusing to people who are unfamiliar because there are so many rules. And to make it even more confusing, there are lots of levels of observance, so what is ok for one person might not be for another. For instance, my husband and I and his family will eat vegetarian and fish dishes at any restaurant or home, but will only eat meat at kosher homes and restaurants. People who are more observant than us would only eat at kosher homes or restaurants.

            1. Bigglesworth*

              Even though my dad grew up in Israel, I never really knew many Jewish people until moving to the DC area. It’s been really cool and interesting, but it’s sometimes difficult the gauge the level that each person observes their faith. For example, I have one friend who is observing Passover and is currently eating Kosher (even though she normally doesn’t). I have another friend who is not really observing Passover, but also never eats pork but is fine with everything else. Yet another doesn’t observe, isn’t celebrating, and didn’t even know when Passover started. It can add a new layer to getting everyone together, but at the same time it’s not an inconvenience for me if I don’t make bacon for Saturday brunch or made sure the chicken isn’t breaded for a few weeks. I care about these people and I want them to feel comfortable in my home even though I’m not Jewish.

        2. Totally Minnie*

          I feel this comment deep in my soul. I really don’t understand the personal offense some people take when another person doesn’t eat a certain food. Whether it’s a religious choice, an allergy, or anything else, I really don’t understand the impulse to feel insulted by that. But we’ve had whole threads here about the things people hide in other people’s food to prove a point.

          Why are people?

        3. Mel*

          I know! I mean why are someone else’s food choices so so important to you?
          I love cooking and baking. I will often bring things in to work to share. I’ve never gotten offended if someone refuses for any reason (due to dietary restrictions or just not hungry/interested). Why would anyone try to undermine or sabotage anyone else’s food choices? banana crackers is a great description for it.

      2. LilySparrow*

        Yes, not only is it incomprehensible why other people care, but what on Earth does it accomplish to trick someone like this?

        Like, what’s the purpose? What do you “win”? If you just want to make someone feel gross and awkward, there are a lot simpler ways to go about it that don’t involve trying to source lard on a college campus or bake in a dorm. That’s…a lot of work just to be petty.

        1. LilySparrow*

          Not petty, that’s the wrong word, it’s hateful. But still, the amount of time and effort? Bizarre.

    10. EmilyAnn*

      That was so depressing to read. That manager is a bigot of the worst kind. She doesn’t like her employee because she’s Jewish and her dietary habits, clothing, and stance on baby showers is different from hers. She did not say one thing about the employees job performance. It was all things that made her “different”. Want an ignorant terrible person.

    11. Celestine*

      Geez. It must be terrible managers week on reddit.
      There was a post on relationships where a women’s boss kept trying to dictate her behavior at after-work meetups.

    12. Millennial Lawyer*

      OMG IS THIS FOR REAL? It’s hard for me to believe it’s real but… it’s a small world. Lordy.

    13. AngelicGamer aka that visually impaired peep*

      /goes to read thread and needs to reconnect jaw from it hitting the floor

      What in the ever loving nine levels of hell is wrong with people?! Also, if you see where it is, it mentally triggered the comment thread from the 4 questions this morning about regions in the US. O.M.G. Just… jeez.

    14. Bigglesworth*

      This is terrible. I just finished reading it in it’s entirety (deleted posts and everything) and I am beyond seeing flames – I’m at my scary angry stage where everything seems calm and logical but I am still hellbent on wanting to make sure this manager never manages again. I know I can’t do anything from where I’m at, but I really want to find out if an attorney takes this up and offer to be a free legal research assistant for them. I may not be an attorney yet, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t be of some help.

    15. Jemima Bond*

      In the interests of drawing a positive from that terrible behaviour, I have learnt something useful to me from reading the Reddits – that it is considered bad luck in the Jewish faith to talk much about an expected baby or buy things for it before it is born. I have two Jewish friends who recently got married and they may well decide to have children – I usually make quilts for friends’ babies but if I hear they are expecting I shall now know it’s best to lay off the sewing until the baby is born, because it would be more respectful of their culture.

  23. Not a Real Giraffe*

    I started in my current role in mid-November. Since then, my entire team has turned over. Literally no one that I interviewed with is still here. Beyond my team, we are a business unit of about 25 or so people. In the 5 months that I’ve been here, 6 of those 25 people have left. Apparently this is not unusual.

    There are some deep-seated issues in our unit that no one seems to want to address. Lack of communication, huge inefficiencies, trust issues, etc. We are known across the organization for being unable to keep staff.

    My plan is to move out of state next year, which means I really should stay in this job until then (rather than leave for another role, and then leave that role next summer). Any advice for sticking it out when everyone else, including people I really enjoyed working with, are leaving? Any advice for trying to get higher-ups to address the issues that cause our unit to lose really good talent?

    1. Luna123*

      I don’t have any recommendations, but I just wanted to say that I’ve been in a similar situation (so much turnover! and pretty much all of them were my friends!), and you have my sympathies.

    2. Sara without an H*

      I think you’re wise to stick it out until you’re ready to relocate. Why not use the time to pick up new skills that will make you more competitive in your new location?

      The other thing I would do is build a social life outside of work. While it’s natural to miss people you’ve enjoyed working with, relying on workplace friendships in an organization with this much turmoil is probably just going to make you unhappy.

      As for trying to get the higher-ups to do anything about the situation: I wouldn’t hold my breath. You say that your unit is “known across the organization for being unable to keep staff.” If that is the case, then the higher ups know about the situation and may, or may not, have a plan for dealing with it. You’ve been with them for less than a year and aren’t planning on staying long-term anyway — you don’t have enough political capital to burn on this issue.

      So build your own skill set, have fun outside of work, and start planning for your transition to your new location.

    3. CatCat*

      Just keep your head down and do you work. Try to avoid any venting with coworkers. It will be exhausting.

      “Any advice for trying to get higher-ups to address the issues that cause our unit to lose really good talent?”

      Don’t bother. It is apparent to everyone that the team has high turnover. If the higher-ups cared to address it, they would. Not your problem to take on. You can give feedback in your exit interview if you are so inclined.

      1. Samiratou*

        All of this.

        If it’s known across the company that your org can’t keep people, then the higher ups know it, too, are deliberately choosing not to address that.

        Do what you can with your own work and get out without too much stress.

  24. Shawshank*

    How do you cope with a friend from a dysfunctional OldJob who’s still there and seems stuck?

    Friend and I are still in touch and hang out sometimes. Friend will complain about dysfunction and usually it’s just something we can laugh and roll our eyes about. Sometimes, though, it’s her complaining about things that aren’t going to change, like Fergus the jerk manager skipping over her and giving his favorite direct report a project that she’ll end up having to fix. When I urge her to job hunt she kind of shrugs it off. If I try some of the Captain Awkward stuff like asking her how she thinks she could change that or what she could do, she deflects or goes quiet for a while. If I get mad and tell her that she knows it’s never going to get better and she needs to get a new job, she goes into a whole thing about what if another job is worse, she gets paid pretty well where she is now, or she’ll get defensive and talk about all the great things about the job.

    I guess I’m just venting. This isn’t someone I want to stop talking to completely but it’s so frustrating.

    1. fposte*

      Is it frustrating that she’s talking about it when you want to talk about something else, or frustrating that your friend isn’t doing what she could to improve her life? The first you have some power over, but the second you really don’t, and you are almost certainly going to run into that same situation again throughout your life. Sometimes people just get stuck in jobs or spouses or life choices, and they just don’t have the wherewithal we wish they did to break free.

      1. Shawshank*

        Part of it is that she complains while doing almost nothing to change. Part of it is that she does the same things and then is angry that she doesn’t get a different result. Like, she’ll tell Fergus that she’s upset he did something unfair, and Fergus will blow her off. Then she’s upset that Fergus blew her off. When I ask her why she thought Fergus would act any differently from the million other times she’s talked to him she tries to change the subject.

        1. fposte*

          I recommend you reframe your problem. It is not how she talks about work; it is that she keeps talking about something that you don’t want to talk about so much. That you might be able to change. But focusing your energy on having her change her approach to work is just going to mean you squander it and stay more involved than you ought to be with a place that you left for good reason.

    2. Badmin*

      Maybe when you hang out you could say Oh! I don’t feel like talking about OldJob today! Then change subject?

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        This is my advice given Shawshank’s comment to fposte above. The friend sounds like my mother, and I always have to redirect her conversations away from work because she gripes about the same problems ALL. THE. TIME. For the last EIGHT YEARS. When I ask how her job search is coming, there’s always some excuse as to why it’s not, so I have to end the discussion because it’s annoying that she’d rather complain than help herself.

    3. Lumen*

      Give it time. A friend of mine from Toxic OldJob has stayed there for over a year since I left, and just recently (finally) came to the conclusion that it’s time to seek other employment.

      Try being understanding and then insert a subject change, or invite them to do things to build a shared history unrelated to your old job. “Yup: Fergus is a jerk and he’s probably not going to change! Oh, are you going to that new exhibit at the museum? We should go together!”

      Also, focus on the positive: “I’m glad this job is working out for you and what you need right now. I just also want you to remember that you actually do deserve a job that pays you well (etc) and where you’re treated better.”

      Because shrugging off the ideas of looking for new jobs, believing that other jobs will be worse, deflecting/going silent when the responsibility for change is put on her, then defending a dysfunctional workplace… honestly I’m guessing, but all of this sounds to me like someone who does not think they deserve any better, and this is the best they can get. I doubt that’s actually true of your friend. So maybe try that angle: tell them over and over that it doesn’t have to be this way and they deserve better, and maybe eventually some of that will sink in past the layers of muck and negative self-talk.

  25. E*

    Is it considered lying if you’ve neglected to update your LinkedIn info?

    I haven’t used my account in years and not sure if I can be bothered to update it…

    1. Emily S.*

      You may want to consider deleting your LinkedIn account completely, if you don’t use it. Plenty of people are not on LinkedIn.

      1. Queen of Cans & Jars*

        Thank you for that reminder! I set one up, but have never used it. Now it is no longer!

    2. Curious Cat*

      As long as you’re not providing your LinkedIn account to potential employers/on your resume, I don’t think that’s “lying.” If you were providing the link, I’d say you need to update it, and if anyone asks in an interview why the information doesn’t match with your resume, you can just safely say you don’t actively use the platform & your resume is the most up-to-date.

    3. miyeritari*

      I don’t think it’s lying, but if you have a LinkedIn, I’d keep it updated, because people may be confused by discrepancies on your resume (or othewise) and your LinkedIn. But you could also just delete it if you don’t think it will help your case and you don’t want to update it.

    4. nep*

      I would certainly delete it if you don’t use / update. Better not to have one than to have an outdated one you don’t use.

  26. Leave it to Beaver*

    I feel slightly guilty for asking this, but…

    We have a new person in our 20-person department. She’s a bit of a know-it-all and do-gooder. Kind of rubs folks the wrong way, but not a bad person. As is evidenced by her active role in making our office more environmentally friendly. Now, I’m not one to not use recycling and I can certainly bring in my own coffee mug. But we recently had a discussion about silverware, because our admin buys plastic, which I do use admittedly. We now have to bring in our own silverware (or the alternative was having departmental silverware everyone would be tased with cleaning, which honestly gives me the heebie jeebies contemplating how many mouths one fork may have served). For some reason this suggestion has irked me more than others. Part 1, we live in a major city and it is not unheard of to get pests. Part 2, several members of our department are not good about washing dishes. (I have no idea who they are, but I see the bowls and cups left in the sink, some so long they develop mold)

    I’m beginning to feel as though I’m being forced to adopt a mentality that I don’t have. And although I’m not going to pitch a fit over bringing in a fork and spoon from home, I kind of don’t appreciate the pressure to save the planet. (which is a catch phrase that has been mentioned every time we discuss green measures).

    In the end, I don’t know if I’m a horrible person for not wanting to be as green as I can be because it inconveniences me or if I’m a horrible person because honestly part of me just doesn’t want to do what this woman is forcing me to do.

    1. WellRed*

      I’d be annoyed too and I am into recycling. every time I grab a plastic spoon or fork from the office kitchen I think, “I could bring in my own silverware and take it home with my lunch containers.” But, I never do and probably never will.

      1. Kittyfish 76*

        I do this. I take my own silverware back and forth daily. For me, it’s easier, I know no one has touched it, and my kitchen is cleaner.

        1. Neosmom*

          I do this, too. And I know the silverware and cup and food containers have gone through my dishwasher and have not been handled by anyone else. I just make it part of my lunch packing routine.

    2. Tara S.*

      I understand the impulse to use metal silverware, but you could maybe bring up that the office don’t have a way to ensure consistent cleanliness, which is a safety issue. We use metal silverware in my office, but we have dishwashers, so you know that stuff is being adequately cleaned. Might be a way to push back.

      1. Windchime*

        Most people in my office have a dish or two that they brought from home, along with a few pieces of flatware. We all have little storage cupboards and keep them in there. Everyone just washes their own dish and silverware when they are done eating. I guess it’s confusing to me why it would be hard to keep the dishes clean?

        I probably wouldn’t use dishes or silverware that was “community property”.

    3. The Cosmic Avenger*

      First of all, you’re not a horrible person for not liking it. Just don’t fill her office with styrofoam to get back at her. ;)

      I actually started an initiative like this at my company, but I got the company to buy restaurant silverware, which the office manager (who was part of our green initiative group) washed once, then set out. We advised people to take a set and keep it at their desk and be responsible for it, but if they left it in the kitchen to please wash it after using it. The office manager took care of anything left out when he resupplied the break rooms, and after talking to him, the silverware is less of a problem than peoples’ personal mugs and plates and bowls anyway, so it’s not like the silverware creates a problem that didn’t exist.

      But then, in our industry ecological initiatives are something you use to promote your business, and because of this and other initiatives, we’ve won some county- and state-wide awards.

      1. anycat*

        ooooh i’m wondering if we are in the same industry!
        we have silverware that the office can use – just place it in the dishwasher or wash it when you are done. I’m in the habit of keeping a reusable metal straw at my desk for my coffees and smoothies.

    4. Manders*

      Reusable shared forks doesn’t seem at all weird to me–after all, that’s what you’re getting every time you go to a restaurant–but it sounds like this office already isn’t great at handling shared cleaning tasks so I get not wanting to make that worse.

      I’m in a SUPER anti-waste part of the country (like, you can get fined by the city for putting compostable material in the trash-level anti-waste) and my normal’s a lot different than my normal, but IMO you can’t save the planet by badgering individuals about their choices. Plus, coworkers only see a tiny slice of your life–there may be other ways you’re being green that they don’t know about. It’s pretty rude to imply that your silverware choices are a moral failing.

      1. Manders*

        *My normal’s a lot different than YOUR normal.

        I should stop commenting halfway through my first cup of coffee.

      2. zora*

        Yeah, this is not an effective approach to greening the office if you aren’t working with how people behave and your current office set up. I am also in that city, and we are working on making our office more sustainable, but there are many ways to approach these things and you have to do things that are actually going to work in the long run or it’s pointless.

        Have you asked your do-gooder about ‘compostable’ silverware? They make stuff out of plant fibers, and it technically can’t go in the compost, it has to go in the garbage. But, still, the idea is it’s better because it’s not plastic, it is actually biodegradable and not made out of petroleum products. Honestly, it has it’s own problems that I won’t get into, and it’s true, reusable metal utensils are actually the best move environmentally. But if you don’t have a dishwasher and a clear cleaning system, than there’s no point to that because people aren’t going to stick with it anyway.

        I’m sorry she’s being annoying!

    5. Amy Farrah Fowler