coworker interrupts conversations, accepting a beverage at a meeting if no one else does, and more

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

1. My coworker interrupts everyone’s conversations

I have a coworker “Josh,” who has a habit of interjecting himself into conversations. Frequently. And, of course, he sits right next to me in our open-office floor plan.

It’s frustrating enough when he joins personal conversations so that he can insert his opinion. For example, “Which gynecologist do you go to?” (He has no children.) But I can tolerate that since the conversation is not work related.However, it’s even more frustrating when he invites himself to join certain work conversations, particularly on projects that have nothing to do with him or his work. For example, I recently had to correct him when he answered my teammate’s question about when an assignment was due. She was asking me, since we were working on the assignment together, but apparently he felt the need to chime in even though he isn’t involved in our project. And, of course, his answer of “sometime next week” didn’t exactly match our actual deadline of this Wednesday.

The problem is so much worse when we have someone from outside our team come by to ask questions or seek expertise regarding my projects and research. Even though he works on entirely separate projects and doesn’t share my areas of expertise, he will try to answer questions himself rather than redirect the question to me or someone on my project.

This behavior really bothers me and, while I haven’t witnessed any major consequences yet, that could just be a matter time. After all, clients won’t know he doesn’t work on the project, and it could give our team a bad reputation. We report to the same boss, so I have no authority over him. We are essentially peers, but Josh was just promoted last month, so he is now technically more senior. What can I do?

Step one is to address it in the moment when it’s happening. When he jumps into answer a question that isn’t in his area, don’t be shy about asserting yourself and saying things like “Actually, that’s my project — come talk to me about it and I can answer your questions” or “No, that’s not correct. The deadline is Wednesday.”

And after these incidents, there’s no reason you can’t say to him, “Hey, if someone comes in asking about X, please let me handle that since I’m working on it and know all the details.”

This doesn’t work with the interruptions of social conversations, of course – but those are sometimes unavoidable when you’re working in an open office. Most of the time you may need to just roll with those — although if a conversation is truly personal (like the one about gynecologists — WTF?!), it’s fine to say, “Actually, I just wanted to talk to Jane about this.”

2. Should I accept a beverage at a business meeting if no one else does?

This is definitely not a very serious question, but one that I’ve been wondering about nonetheless. I, a super junior person, recently attended a meeting with an external vendor, along with my boss and his boss (who’s at director level). We were asked the standard “would you like something to drink?” question and both bosses asked for coffee so I felt comfortable doing the same. I was thinking, though, if neither of them had asked for something, would it have come across as strange/demanding/out-of-touch for me to ask something? Intuitively I feel like I should be following more senior people’s lead when it comes to that sort of thing, but I don’t know if I have a strange preoccupation with blending into the background in these types of situations. What are your thoughts/how would you feel as the senior person in this situation (assuming we’re talking about a standard water/coffee request, not anything over the top)?

It’s always fine to say yes to water, even if no one around you is requesting it.

With other beverages, though, yeah, because you’re very junior, I would follow the lead of more senior people in the room. It’s not that it would be demanding to say yes to an offer of coffee if no one else does. But when you’re very junior, you’ll usually make a better impression if you follow the lead of people senior to you, and it can look a little off if the one very junior person in the room is the only one accepting amenities. I can’t fully defend this — a cup of coffee really isn’t a big deal — but you’ll fit in with the meeting better this way.

(That said, if anyone is reading this and wondering if they committed a horrible faux paus by accepting a coffee or a soda at a meeting where no one else did, it’s not anything to be terribly worried about either.)

3. My contact added me to a Facebook group for moms in my field — and it’s horrible

I work in a field in which women are still a big minority. Early on, I met a woman who was slightly ahead of me in her career who has become a friend and occasional mentor. One thing we had in common was that we were both still figuring out how to balance our careers and family lives.

This year I went on leave to have a baby. After he was born, I experienced a lot of anxiety stemming from hormones, lack of sleep, etc. Around this time, my friend added me to a Facebook group that she belongs to for moms in my field. I imagine she viewed this as a support network, but it has been anything but that. Members of the group aggressively insult people who take time off, slow their careers, even respond slowly to emails while on maternity leave. Especially right after giving birth, seeing these attitudes convinced me I wanted to quit my field and do something else. I’m honestly still unsure about going back to work in this area.

I’m wondering if I should tell my friend about this. I don’t want to make her feel bad or come off as overly sensitive. But I don’t think she should add new moms to this group without some warning.

How often do you speak to her? If you fairly closer and speak frequently, definitely say something! You could say something like, “To be honest, the Facebook group hasn’t been for me. I’ve found a lot of the members are really insulting to women who take time off or even unplug completely during maternity leave. If you suggest it to other women, it might be useful to warn them about that element of it — I’ve found some of what I’ve read there pretty unsettling!”

If she’s a very casual acquaintance and you don’t talk much, it might not be worth reaching out just about this, especially if she enjoys the group herself. That said, since you consider her a mentor, you could ask her about her take on it, using language similar to the above but also asking, “Have you encountered a lot of that kind of thing in the field more broadly, or do you think it’s something about this particular group that brings it out?”

4. Recruiters reformat my resume

My type of job openings (technical writer) often go through a recruiter – they find my resume online and contact me about openings that might not be advertised. This is fine. However, the recruiters want my resume in Word format so they can “reformat” it. This is fine, too. But at a recent interview I noticed that the version of my resume that was given to the interviewers by the recruiter omitted the URL of the website where I store my work samples. (Oversight? Intentional? What else gets left out?) Interviewers seem surprised at this, and I always give them my version (which I bring copies of with me). Am I committing some terrible faux pas? I never tell the recruiters that I’m doing this, they probably would not approve and I don’t want to alienate them. What do you think? (Oh, I didn’t get the job anyway but I keep plugging away.)

Nope, you can keep doing that. Recruiters will sometimes reformat your resume to add their logo and/or remove your contact info, because they want the company to send all contacts through them. (This isn’t as shady as it sounds; they’re trying to avoid people circumventing paying their fee.) But some recruiters will also redo your resume to make it “better,” and their idea of “better” isn’t always great.

It’s fine to keep bringing your own copies of your resume with you and handing it to your interviewer, and many interviewers will appreciate that. It’s also okay to ask your recruiter about it if you notice that the version they sent the employer is missing key information.

5. Someone I used to manage is asking about a new job with me, and I know I won’t hire them

I am currently hiring for a position and was recently contacted by someone from my previous company that I hired and managed. They are interested in this open role but they don’t know that I am the hiring manager (the role I’m hiring for is in a different office than where I’m based). The issue is that I really struggled with this former employee. They took a long time to train and never fully grasped the aspects and tasks that the job required. When I left my former company, this employee still needed a lot of hand holding despite being on the job for 6+ months at that time. I’ve made inquiries but it appears this former employee has not made much improvement in the time since I’ve left. Coupled with the fact that I will have to manage this hire remotely, I have no interest in hiring them.

Since they do not know I am the hiring manager, the original email asked only for information on the company and role. How can I delicately handle this situation? I don’t want to be too blunt but I also don’t want to lie. Should I just ignore the email (even though my gut instinct is that would be rude)?

Don’t ignore the email; because you know this person, that would indeed be rude. Instead, answer the questions (be brief) but don’t falsely encourage them. If they’re clearly not a match in some specific way you’re comfortable sharing, it’s fine to say, “In the interest of transparency, I want to tell you that we’re looking for someone with more experience in X, so I don’t think that this would be the right match.” But if there’s not a quick and easy explanation you can give, it’s also fine to just say something non-commital like, “If you think the match might be right, I’d be glad to take a look at your application (I’m the hiring manager for this job).”

{ 512 comments… read them below }

  1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

    Oh god, mom Facebook groups! I joined one about baby sleep and had to leave because I couldn’t stand the stridency of the commenters (if you didn’t sleep train you were weak-willed and unscientific; co-sleeping was going to make your child poorly adjusted forever). I joined another one about breastfeeding past infancy and had to leave it for the same reason in the opposite direction (if you sleep trained, you were basically abusing your child; not co-sleeping was going to scar your child and make them feel abandoned). They were also both very echo-chamber-y. Even though my parenting philosophy is more “do what works for our family,” it was hard not to feel guilt tripped and like I was Doing It All Wrong when I read these posts.

    1. LouiseM*

      Yes. People can be so judgmental. The absolute *worst* are the people who are like, “I’m the last person who would ever judge someone for ____” and then proceed to do exactly that.

        1. Totally Minnie*

          Or, “No offense, but I’m about to say something you’ll find offensive.”

    2. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      Oh, but I meant to say too – both groups seemed really helpful at first, as there was a subset of the posts that weren’t so strident and that exactly matched the issues I was having. So my initial experience with both was really good, and I might have recommended them to someone during that window of time if I met someone who was also grappling with this.

      I think part of the problem is that these two groups were BIG. So the inflammatory posts that got more responses showed up on my feed, while the milder ones didn’t gather such attention and weren’t visible because Facebook’s algorithms are strange. (Heck, maybe even the OP’s friend is seeing a substantially different subset of posts from the OP!) I’m in a much smaller Facebook group, a local La Leche League one, and it is lovely and reasonable.

      Good luck, OP. The new mom thing is tough and baby’s going to keep coming up with new ways to challenge you, but you’ve got this.

      1. Guacamole Bob*

        +1 for leaving big groups and sticking with smaller Facebook and social media groups. I joined a real-life new mothers group when my twins were born and the Facebook group we made to stay in touch has been an invaluable resource. Groups with thousands of members who don’t all know each other have a much greater tendency to be toxic.

      2. Nita*

        Yeah. Mine was big, and full of political fake news and memos. Just… ewww, what? I’m not even sure, looking back, that the most prolific posters of this garbage were actually local moms and not some fake profile. Anyway, it was all really disgusting and it took me far too long to dump the group.

    3. dragonzflame*

      Haha, I left a baby sleep one that was the opposite because I couldn’t take the fretfulness (“I was on a long car trip and my baby cried for 30 minutes but we were on the freeway and couldn’t pull over, then he went to sleep – did we accidentally do CIO? Have I harmed him?”).

      I just stay off mum FB groups now and do what works – if you don’t hear the Doing It Wrong you’re none the wiser ;-)

      1. Gen*

        A lot of internet groups have a habit of going for the worst case scenario on everything, as we’ve seen here occasionally with the really strange letters. Mom groups do seem to be especially terrible because everyone is stressed, tired, and a lot of questions can seem like life or death issues. I was seriously injured having my child and even though he only weighed 5lbs I was forbidden to lift or carry him. I was horrified by the number of previously sane seeming people who insisted I give him up for adoption because not carrying him around 24/7 was ‘abuse’. Five years later many of these people have mellowed and would cringe at the stuff they wrote back then. But the groups are always getting new people and the nasty ones linger while the rest of us drift away. I’d leave the group and try to forget about it

          1. Specialk9*

            Oh my god, they wanted you to give your child up for ADOPTION because of physical trauma from birth?! That’s monstrous. I hope you were able to shake off that nutty and awful advice.

            Bringing Up Bebe had an interesting theory, that cultures with a set parenting approach (in that case, France) don’t do the Mommy Wars thing. The Mommy sniping and dogmatic persecution is worst when there’s no agreement on what to do, so each person has had to muddle through and find a solution, but they have few data points (their own kids) so they get super rigid and absolutist in a way that experts like trained nannies or child experts wouldn’t. Seeing that awful behavior as a combo of ignorance and having felt adrift and alone helped me, a bit, with the Mommy Wars.

            But I really really *really* try to keep my opinions to myself on other parenting choices.

            The only exception is that I tell every parent I know about the Golden Window for Allergies between 4 – 6 months, for kids to be exposed to top allergens (it reduces allergies by 80%+, based on several global studies). That is important to know bc allergies are deadly, and feeding your kid weird concoctions in that very short 8-week window might save their life… And most doctors are horribly ignorant on this science.

            1. Jesca*

              Ya know, I came across some website the other day where they really delved into “Child Estrangement” where adult children stop speaking to their parents. They found through message board postings that most of the members who linger for years (do not move on to other groups more suited to help them specifically with the “why” of why their child is estranged – drug problems, mental illness, etc.) on these types of sites really suffer from understanding anything outside of their own ways of perceiving the world. As in “I am the parent, and I can do what I want. You are the child, and you just do what I say forever.” From what you were stating here, I think it may have less to do with not having a society with set child rearing rules as much as it is that there are always a subset of the population who think and behave at a certain level that is rather controlling and irrational. I mean you see these people all the time all over acting out in these black-and-white Because I Exist and Believe This It Is Therefore True For All.

              I stay away from large groups like that simply because I believe the people who end up taking over are the toxic irrational ones as stated above. They are not looking for advice or respecting boundaries. They are looking to control and will contradict anything they previously said to agree with the OUTRAGE of another poster who is hitting a topic of advice they Feel about. They gang-up and its done.

              1. many bells down*

                I think I know which site you mean, and it’s really good. I’ve estranged myself from my mother for a few reasons, and reading through that site reminds me that it really WAS as bad as I thought.

            2. Michaela Westen*

              Yes, they are still way behind in training doctors about allergies. Sigh.
              I’m not a parent, but if it helps this reminds me of what my therapist says. She says the brain always looks for potential threats so we can protect ourselves. This tendency developed in primitive times when we had to watch out for wild animals hunting us, etc.
              These groups you mention sound like they have the same tendency – always looking for and trying to prevent threats to the baby, which makes them negative, and possibly toxic…

            3. Parenthetically*

              Our very excellent NP that we see at our very excellent pediatrics practice told us about the allergies thing! At my son’s four month appointment she gave us all sorts of pointers about making sure to introduce common allergens in that window! I think we hit them all.

            4. TardyTardis*

              Both my kids were sneaking dry kibble cat food by then and becoming very well acquainted with my approach to housekeeping, so they turned out fine.

        1. Penny Lane*

          If I were to see a comment from someone who thought “you’d better give up your baby for adoption because you can’t lift or carry him,” my thought would be to filter the person and/or leave the group, not stay and hear whatever else nonsense they had to dish out! I mean – someone who thinks that way is – let’s be blunt – a stupid person that I wouldn’t trust to watch my goldfish, so I’m not really sure what “advice” they could offer me that I’d remotely care about. I do recognize that when you’re a young mother, it seems that everyone else knows more than you do, but there’s a certain level of stupidity where even the most sensitive new mother has to think – wait, did I really hear that nonsense? It can be empowering for new mothers to realize – just because someone else also has a baby doesn’t make them automatically a Fount of Wisdom. Some people were stupid before they became mothers, and remain stupid afterwards. “Adopt your baby out because you can’t hold him.” Good god.

        2. Julia*

          Holy shit what? Because suddenly disrupting you child’s bond with you isn’t traumatic? (I’m all for adoption, but there are studies on possible attachment issues – even with babies in the ICU who stay with their birth parents.)
          And why couldn’t his father have carried him?

          1. Penny Lane*

            Just imagine how that might feel towards a new mother who has chronic pain issues, like fibromyalgia or rheumatoid arthritis, and may not be able to carry a baby. Or a new mother who only has the use of one arm or something like that. Or parents of multiples who simply can’t be all things to baby at every moment. Thing is – life happens and as long as the parent is loving, it’s all good. All the trivialities that new mothers think are sooooo important – crying it out, breast vs bottle, stroller vs sling – really are not important in any kind of long run. When you have a teenager, you long for the days when such trivial issues were important!

            Nothing wrong with adoption – it’s just a moronic comment to make to a mother who simply has a temporary prohibition on lifting her child.

            But I agree

            1. Specialk9*

              Yeah it’s awful. And even if one can’t carry a baby, someone can place it on your chest, or you can lie down next to them, or such. Picking up and walking around isn’t some specific magic.

          2. Browser*

            The line of thinking behind it would have been “if you aren’t carrying your baby, you aren’t *really* bonding so you should give them to someone who can.”

            People like this are also very mother-centric so of course nothing dad does is ever good enough. And then they wonder why they burnout on parenting and never get any help from their spouse.

        3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          Oh my god! Who on earth says that! I’m sorry you had these awful things said to you during what was already a difficult time in your life.

        4. Elizabeth the Ginger*

          That’s really terrible. I’m glad you got away from that “advice”. I think what you say about the stress, tiredness, and sense of urgency is so true. I think that added to that is that making some of these parenting decisions is hard and a process that can inspire self-doubt, and one way to squash that doubt is to talk loudly about how your decision is unequivocally the right one. Especially if what you chose is hard – and in lots of cases, any choice you make about parenting will be hard! There’s no approach to baby sleep that is actually stress-free and results in everyone immediately getting all the sleep they want, because babies are babies. So it’s a defense mechanism to talk loudly about how, yeah, method X is hard work but everything else would be more work in the long run, or it’s hard but it’s worth it because it’s the only way to have a secure bond with your baby, or etc.

        5. GG Two shoes*

          Good Lord. I’m sorry your rough time was made worse by that group. Good riddance.

      2. Penny Lane*

        Thing is – if you scratch the surface of the women in the mommy groups who advocate such extreme positions (“if you can’t pick him up, you might as well adopt him out!” “let him cry for a week, that’ll show him who’s boss!”) you find women who often have some kind of scar from their own upbringing/childhood that makes them so determined to believe that there is a Holy Grail to Being the Best Parent and by god they have found it, since they don’t have the awareness to realize that there are many good ways and one is not automatically superior (safety issues aside of course). I think the pressure on mothers has gotten worse versus when I was a young mother – social media being a big component of it – and I would just generally advise young mothers to stay away and not let so much of their thought pattern be dictated by what these other women think.

      3. Artemesia*

        LOL. Yes the last thing a new Mom needs to hear is ‘you are doing it wrong.’ And of course you are. Virtually everything I carefully did to safeguard my kids: never fed them peanut butter till they were 2, put them to sleep on their bellies because this is safer and they won’t choke etc etc has turned out to be completely wrong. They survived; I survived. What really hurts is to feel like you are failing all the time; groups that make you feel that way? lose’em.

    4. Harper the Other One*

      Parenting groups, even small ones, can bring out the absolute worst in people! I found similar issues with support groups for parents of autistic kids. I think groups like that often decline unless there’s some pretty tight moderation/enforcement of commenting rules, but most of them are more casually organized than that.

      1. Artemesia*

        way back in the day when we were doing Lamaze etc etc a LaLeche group absolutely made all the difference in the world in our lives. I would never have been able to BF the kids complete for that first 6 mos (as is still recommended) without their instruction and support. So support groups can be supportive — but run if they aren’t.

        1. Specialk9*

          Mine too. Breastfeeding was so hard and traumatic for me, but the BFing group was awesome – we’d sit in a big circle and nurse, and ask smaller questions of the lactation specialist (big questions were a private session). It was one of the few social things I could manage at first.

          My SIL still hangs out with moms from her birth class.

    5. Bonky*

      Oh my goodness: OP1, for your mental wellbeing, please steer clear of engaging with mummy Facebook and other online mummy groups, be they general or specific to your field. For some reason they’re a nest of strange judgmental unkindness; I’ve seen so much commentary there that’s clearly aimed at making people feel insecure and frightened about their own parenting.

      Those groups can be helpful sometimes for specific questions you might have (I sometimes end up on them after a Google search for something about, say, weaning or some weird thing I’ve found in my daughter’s nappy) – but digging any deeper and trying to find community there has been a very unpleasant experience for me, as for others here.

      I had a friend who was a perfect exemplar of this stuff: she had an absolutely miserable home life with a largely absent, unfaithful and unkind husband; horrible depression; and two quite difficult children. She was an habituee of one of the better known mummy sites, and also had a blog about what looked like a perfect home life, all cup cakes, knitting, singing and gardening. The reality was very different, and her posts on the mummy site were judgmental, undermining of the women who were asking questions and vicious – all of it a coping mechanism to make her feel better about her own situation. (I’m sure it didn’t work.) So if you *do* read anything like this maternity leave stuff that’s making you feel bad, try to bear in mind that it’s almost certainly not really written with you or another hypothetical leave-taker in mind; it’s often all about the writer and her own feelings, all turned upside-down.

      This all makes early motherhood sound scary and horrible. It’s really not. I’m going back to work at the end of the month after just over a year’s leave, and this time with my little girl has been unequivocally the happiest of my life so far. I hope you have a wonderful time with your new arrival.

      1. Bonky*

        Which is to say OP#3, of course; I think my eyes were rolling so hard in their sockets that they bumped your letter up to the top of the list!

      2. Specialk9*

        Thanks for this insight into that behavior.

        I find that people get weird and mean just in recipe Facebook groups! Parenting has so much more OOMPH psychology I have been too scared to even check out Facebook parenting groups. (Plus my BFF is a doula, parenting educator, parent of a passel of kids, and a kind non-judgmental person, so I ask her my questions.)

        1. Michaela Westen*

          Recipe sites are weird too. I’ve rarely seen an online recipe without *pages* of stuff about the author’s thought process, home life, etc.
          Who has time to write that stuff? I don’t have time to read it. Who are they trying to impress?

          1. Someone else*

            You can’t copyright a recipe. They add all the extra commentary so whatever they wrote is copyrightable as a whole piece, article, whatever. If it just gets down to the nuts and bolts 1 tbl this 2/3 cup that, they can’t claim to “own” the content. A lot of people who have recipe blogs are trying to get a cookbook deal and using the site as a jumping off point.

          2. whomever*

            My favorite part of recipe sites is that any given recipe has at least one review that goes “well, I left out the butter, and the salt, and I didn’t have venison so I substituted chicken, and I added some Ketchup, and the result was TERRIBLE! This is a terrible recipe!”

    6. Erin*

      I only use Facebook opinions for things like is this a good restaurant, or movie reviews. (One person replied to that with a news article about a local restaurant owner caught dumpster diving at a grocery store) Facebook moms are cray-cray or they’re trying to sell you lulularoe. My sister in law is in one and refferred us to one of those groups as selling farm fresh eggs, which is great we do sell farm fresh eggs. One lady wanted to buy farm fresh eggs and have 1 dozen delivered asap 40 minutes away. Then was rude when my husband said we were unavailable to do that and we’d need to charge $20 for that service. Then one lady bought some hens off to keep as pets, these hens were raised as livestock, off us and she kept calling us about their behavior at odd times. Stay away from Facebook moms!!! Should be changed to drama filled mamas.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Aww, I would totally buy your guys’ eggs, the old-fashioned way of course (either find out if you have a booth at a farmers market and what your hours are, or drop by, take a carton of eggs, leave an empty carton, and pay cash). I love farm fresh eggs! And I’ve never heard of anyone delivering them to someone who’s 40 minutes away (or 20, even).

        1. Lora*

          I have no end of “people who don’t know how food happens” stories. This is why I would be a terrible farmer, because realistically like 50% of the work is marketing and sales (the other 50% is shoveling stuff, FYI) and people are ridiculous.

          The more people fuss at me about Facebook, the less I want to be on it, really. From everything people show me on it, it seems like it would just make me very disappointed in humanity. Literally every time someone has said, “you should do XYZ on Facebook!” and I asked them to show me an example, it was awful. I know a LOT of people who post their whole dang lives on Facebook and it’s never turned out well for them on a lot of levels.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            I’ve noticed farmers tend to do well on the Amazing Race. I think it’s because you’re forced to develop a certain level of mechanical skill to fix things, and don’t blink at being told to move a bunch of heavy objects from point A to point B.

          2. Michaela Westen*

            I like FB because I have some great friends and I get to stay in touch with them and have interesting discussions, and we also use it to organize social events.

        2. Erin*

          Thanks! We don’t have free range chickens, but their pen is bigger than my living room and we have 20 hens.
          I love my eggs especially now that I’m 20 weeks pregnant it’s easy for me to get protein and calories. And I will be declining every Facebook mom group I’m invited to. I got enough drama in my life I don’t need strangers over the internet telling me if I’m awful for reasons that are non of their business.

    7. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      OMG I am so glad that my children were born 10+ years before Facebook and Facebook groups; any online mom groups in fact. Back in my day, if a mom wanted to shame you for not parenting your child to her exact standards, she had to walk up to you and say it to your face, and risk being told off, again to her face. Mind you, people still did it. It just wasn’t as pervasive as it is now.

      As a mother of two young men in their 20s, I want to shake these moms and yell in their face that nobody will know or care 20 years from now if they breastfed for 5 or 15 months, coslept or not, used the sling or not and so on. None of it matters in the long term. (With the exception of a few parenting theories I’ve seen back in my day that I still consider straight up dangerous, but they were all only popular in very narrow fundamentalist-Christian circles.)

      1. Amber T*

        Yeah, my mom says she’s happy I was a kid before Pinterest was a thing. There was already enough of a competition when it came to class birthdays, school projects, home birthday parties… she glances through Pinterest now and is simultaneously blown away and terrified.

    8. straws*

      Facebook groups in general, and definitely those that are mom-based, tend to be so negative! I moderate for a breastfeeding support group and one of the most common topics in our moderator channel is how shocked we all are that our members are so kind and supportive. It should be the default, but we’ve all been in other groups and this is the only one that is consistently kind. It’s crazy how awful people can be in semi-anonymous groups.

    9. Just Another Techie*

      This whole thread is making me so sad for everyone in horrible FB groups. I’m in three FB moms groups and they are all A+++ excellent, full of kind and compassionate people who do their best to help each other out. One with about 500 people for my immediate neighborhood, one with about 2000 people for our regional area, and a big international one with 8000 people.

      So I’d just say, if you like social media and want to connect that way, there are good groups out there! They aren’t all sanctimommies, I promise!

      1. Environmental Compliance*

        I’m in a few knitting groups, and even there people can get really, really nasty. All you do in the group is share yarn & project photos, and ask for help. How people manage to get all up in arms about what method of increasing stitches is better than all the rest is absolutely mind boggling to me. Or what bind off is best. Or how to sew seams. There have been times where I’d want to scream that there’s many ways to accomplish nearly anything, and most of the time, it doesn’t. matter. how. you. got. there.

        And who posts “well, that’s hideous” on a project picture posted by a self-labeled first time knitter?? Not that it should be on *anyone’s* post, but seriously, jumping on someone just learning how to knit? No one’s first project looked show-worthy!! AHHH!!!

        I left the super awful groups, and thankfully the groups I’m in now are pretty well moderated for BS.

        1. Amber T*

          My brain can’t read and I thought that read “kitten” groups, and I was going to ask how could kitten groups be awful? But I also follow a fairly well known kitten rescuer who just recently took a short break from social media because the hate got to be too much and she needed to step away from it all for a little while… so yeah.

            1. Clorinda*

              Oh, you know. Indoor vs outdoor cats, CNR vs other options, cats are an invasive species … I can easily see how even kittens can bring out the rage in some people.

          1. Teapot librarian*

            Kitten groups can be awful when someone posts about rehoming a cat. One of the pet groups I’m in requires admin approval for any post about rehoming. And now, back to the topic.

            OP, I’m not a parent, but I do have one piece of parenting advice that I think is safe to share even as a non-parent: Do what is best for you, your baby, and your family, and screw the dogmatists.

          2. Environmental Compliance*

            I’ve seen that too for the few horse rescues I follow. Usually it looks like people just can’t read – “how dare you have animals that look like that!! I’m going to report you!! Don’t have a horse if you can’t pay for it!!” Uh, they just got them, they’re a non-profit rescue asking for feed donations, and they’re there to save these animals. Or, when a horse is just too far gone, and ends up being put down, and there’s outrage of how dare you not try to save it!! Well, three vets have deemed that there is nothing that can be done without further harming the animal, with a 2% chance of the animal actually surviving….

            People get oddly angry at the strangest of things.

            1. Former Employee*

              That’s the real definition of euthanasia – putting an animal down who can’t be saved and will just be suffering for the rest of its life. The animal rescue groups, especially the ones fighting to save community cats, always talk about the use of the word “euthanasia” as a euphemism for killing otherwise healthy animals because the shelter can’t get anyone to adopt them.

      2. Science!*

        The three mom facebook groups I’m in are really specific and secret hidden groups. You have to know someone to get invited in. One is a group for moms from my undergrad, one is a group for moms who all used to participate in a certain forum, and one is open with locked membership for academic moms.

        I’ve learned to differentiate between which group I ask questions based on the members of the groups themselves. One is pretty pro-co-cleeping but anti-CIO, the other is very pro-sleep training. So when I was considering sleep training I asked in the group that was more likely to be receptive to it. On the other hand, all my groups are pro-vaccinations because I won’t belong to a mom-group that isn’t.

        I’ve had good luck with my groups, and I’ve seen some amazing support happen in some of them.

        1. Bleeborp*

          It’s weird but I am part of a secret mom FB group that my SIL got me invited to despite the fact that I don’t have kids…I just love reading about parenting! And their group is very cool, everyone tries to be as non-judgey as possible and even when someone is suggesting something it’s always couched in “but everyone does what’s best for their family!!” So just joining in to say some of the groups are okay!

    10. LiveAndLetDie*

      Online mom groups are unequivocably terrible, in my experience, as are forums for pregnant women. Avoiding them is my mantra and I recommend the same to anyone that asks.

    11. AKchic*

      I have only found one mom group that I like, and it’s because it is a support group for geeky moms in my state. The majority of us come from abusive situations or are actively in abusive situations, we have mental health issues and openly discuss them, etc.

      From that, we have some pretty interesting offshoot groups and run informal outreach for abused women, women dealing with PPD or who otherwise don’t have a good support system, and are each other’s cheer team. We’re not a mom group, we’re a cult (and have been referred to as such by a few unsavory idiots trying to cheat on their wives who got outed and then their now-ex’s are in the group who needed support).

    12. Cairhys*

      Maybe it’s the millennial in me, but if someone is in a harmful Facebook group, wouldn’t it be easier/better to just leave it? I know that if you were added by someone important this might bring about anxiety, but really, who is actively looking at who are the members of the group? Even if the person who added you asked about it, “Hey, I noticed you left?” wouldn’t the best and easiest answer be, “Yes, it wasn’t for me,” and then drop it?

      1. many bells down*

        I actually got added to a Facebook group by a classmate that was presented as “women’s support and fun” but was 90% selling a specific product that I’m not really interested in. I left the group. Twice. My classmate kept adding me back in without asking.

        I finally got myself booted (and unfriended) when they made a post about how their product – which was in no way a food item – was “gluten-free.” My whole family has Celiac disease so I get a bit snarky when I see people slapping “gluten-free” on ludicrous items. I asked if their claims were validated by the Celiac Disease Foundation and they got mad.

        1. Agent Diane*

          The repeated inviting is straight from the MLM handbook. I spent a 3 hour train ride reading about one UK person’s experience:

          That’s off-topic so my advise to the OP is to follow Alison’s steer. simply say why you found their advice didn’t apply for your situation, and it didn’t hit the supportive tone you needed. Maybe their “straight talking” works for some, but not for you. ;)

        2. Detective Amy Santiago*

          I think that when you leave a group, there is an option that you cannot be re-added without your permission. I left a bunch a while ago and seem to recall seeing that.

      2. Oxford Comma*

        I have been added to a whole mess of groups without my permission (the worst was someone’s church group, especially bad because I am not a member of the denomination). I just leave quietly without telling them. If the people adding me have ever noticed, not a one of them have ever said anything about it.

        (And I’m Gen X)

  2. LouiseM*

    This doesn’t help #2, but personally I think at least one person in senior management should always accept a coffee or soda or whatever, just so their direct reports know it’s ok to do that.

    1. Thlayli*

      It depends on the tone you are trying to set and the time it will take and the situation. If there is a jug of coffee and cups in the room ready to go, accepting a cup of coffee is just that, and no big deal. However, if accepting a cup of coffee means the person offering will have to leave and go to another room and boil a kettle to make a cup, then that could be a significant chunk of time if it’s a half-hour meeting for example. They are just offering as politeness but accepting would have an actual impact the junior person might not realise. And it’s impossible to know this stuff in advance. I work for a pharma company with lots of money, but depending on the building I am meeting in, I might have to go boil a kettle and could well discover we are out of milk – That’s going to make me feel embarrassed from the get-go, and some people might feel annoyed in the same situation.

      Also you have to think about the position of power in the room. In this case op said they were meeting with a vendor, so op was on the Customer side. It’s usually ok for the customer to expect the vendor to spend time making a cup of coffee for them.

      However, imagine if op was with the vendor and they were attending eg an initial meeting with a potential big customer. In that case it would definitely not be a good idea for a junior vendor to ask a senior potential customer to go to a lot of hassle to serve her a cup of coffee.

      So you need to think about the tone it’s going to set at the start of the meeting. In most cases this is not a big deal but in some cases you might want to set a specific tone eg in a negotiation or for an initial cold call presentation to a potential client, or if you have been called in by a client to answer questions about problems in the project – lots of times you do want to set a tone, and hassle-laden coffee making can interfere with that.

      Another factor is how big your bladder is / how long the meeting is / do you know where the toilets are / do you have to be escorted there / how much hassle would that cause.

      Until you know enough about the things above, it’s best to follow the senior people’s lead. Most of the time it’s no big deal, but occasionally it is.

      1. On Fire*

        I agree that junior employees should follow the lead of senior staff. Everywhere I’ve ever worked, though, when a meeting was scheduled, coffee was prepared in advance. At most, the “hassle” would be stepping into the next room to get it. I guess I assumed that was the norm, but from your comment, I see that maybe it’s not.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          I’ve always made an insulated carafe of coffee for the meeting when I was in charge of that sort of thing, and before my company provided them I used my personal carafe. Of course, not everyone can be expected to provide things that the company does not provide, I just had it in my office for the use of myself and my closest coworkers, as I liked to make a pot of really good coffee for us once in a while, especially around holidays. So while I wouldn’t expect that or consider anything amiss if there wasn’t coffee already prepared, it isn’t just you.

        2. Naptime Enthusiast*

          I thought so too, until a recent meeting where all coffee was served from one of those cafeteria single-serve espresso machines. The vendors would have to run to a different floor, wait a minute for each to brew, then bring them back. It still wasn’t a terribly long time, but still a hassle. Had we not had a full day of meetings we probably would have turned down the offer.

          1. Lil Fidget*

            Yeah, in offices with the one-serve cups, it can be a bit of a hassle, especially if a lot of people ask for a cup (even carrying the mugs can become an issue). However, I’d put that on the host; don’t offer coffee if it’s actually a pain for you that’s going to cause a delay, offer water or nothing. You’d actually embarrass your guest if they say “oh, sure” and then realize that was the wrong answer.

            1. Thlayli*

              Yeah but in some countries it is the height of rudeness NOT to offer a cup of tea or coffee, so it’s ALWAYS offered and there’s a whole set of social rules around knowing when it’s polite to say no.

              My aunt and uncle once had visitors to their new house and they offered them something to eat (which you absolutely HAVE to do in my culture). And they had barely any food in the house, having just moved in. So they were really hoping the other couple would say no. But they didn’t, and my auntie had to turn bread and tomatoes into probably the most disgusting sandwiches ever to avoid a complete faux pas!

          2. Anonymoose*

            As someone who had to greet folks and provide those beverages, believe me when I say that our smiles when you agree that – yes you would love a coffee – are certainly fake. Like I don’t have enough to do that now I have to argue with a coffee machine and make you a fresh pot because my jerkoff coworkers didn’t bother turning off the pot and now it’s burned.

            That said, I will gladly get you a bottle of water with a genuine smile on my face. ;)

        3. Amber T*

          Standard set of courteous rules –
          – Don’t offer it if you’re not prepared
          – Don’t ask for it if it’s not offered
          – Always carry your own water (see rule two)

          1. Anonymoose*

            I agree with all of your points except for #1. Sometimes you’re volunteered by someone who doesn’t know the status of the beverages. Or they just don’t care and think you can just run out and ‘get something’.
            Also, high five on carrying you’re own water. I do the same when I go to all meetings and i’m always surprised when i’m the only one.

          2. Thlayli*

            These may be standard in your culture but they are definitely not standard in other cultures.

        4. Artemesia*

          I have accepted a cup of coffee and have it seem like a catastrophe — no coffee was made, we think there is some in the cupboard, can someone make us some coffee etc etc. It made me leery of accepting such offers unless I see the pot on the table. But water — hey it is a bottle — that should be okay always

        5. einahpets*

          I was at an off-site transition meeting with one of our smaller vendors, and they asked me first if I wanted coffee.

          The owner of this vendor company then disappeared for 15 minutes and came back with the most exquisite cappucino for the whole team; apparently he had a fancy espresso machine that he likes to use to woo clients. I was definitely woo-ed, but I felt bad that it had taken so long. I’m used to just having a carafe ready/available too.

      2. Guacamole Bob*

        I agree. If you can see where the coffee would come from and you can tell it wouldn’t actually be a hassle, then go for it. If you can’t see whether it would create extra work or take up time, then skip it unless the more senior people would like some.

        If there’s a Keurig in the reception area and you’re invited to help yourself as you wait, or if there’s coffee set up on a sideboard in the meeting room itself, or something like that, I think it’s fine to have some regardless of what other people do. But if a junior person at the company you’re visiting is going to have to brew a pot or walk down the hall to get it or whatever, or if waiting for your coffee will delay the start of the meeting, it will come across as a little tone-deaf and you’ll look a little high maintenance, even though that’s pretty irrational. It may not even register with the person you’re meeting with, but the junior staff who have to get you the coffee will notice, and they may be the people you’re dealing with day-to-day if you go with this vendor.

      3. Sunshine on a Cloudy Day*

        Big yes to all of this! I was the person offering up the coffee at one point (while at a company was did a lot of business with/entertaining/”wooing” of Japanese clients, so there were some pretty key hierarchy/etiquette stuff to keep in mind)…

        The easiest rule of thumb is if unsure, just defer to your sr. colleagues. Generally though, I totally agree – I can’t think of an instance where accepting water (or some other very basic drink) would be a faux pas. Anything involving more work than handing over a water bottle/cup of water (and maybe a glass), yeah – use your judgement. Keep in mind the points Thlayi brought up (most importantly – I’d say – if you can see or are sure it’s not a hassle, then feel free to accept whatever beverage is offered).

        Quick story (highlighting what not to do)… We had a job candidate, for an entry level role, but it reported directly to the CEO (ok, it was a second line administrative/personal assistant). First she was kind of rude/tone deaf when she first arrived for her second meeting with the CEO – she was nearly 30min early and kept asking when he would be available. Went so far as to get a bit huffy and say something along the lines of her being very busy (I triple confirmed that the time was correct, and verbally confirmed with her in the moment). Then the icing on the cake – 5min before she was actually supposed to meet the CEO I escorted her to the conference room and asked if she’d like any coffee or water. She requested a sort of complicated drink (ala – skim latte with stevia, light on the foam). Girl – you’re at an interview, not Starbucks! Requesting a drink like that wouldn’t have been automatic deal breaker, but it was a minor point against her that when coupled with some other small things started to indicate a general lack of awareness/propriety/judgement. I absolutely told the CEO’s main assistant and HR (who were coordinating the hiring – CEO just had final decision).

        1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

          Reminds me of the applicant I was interviewing that drank 2 cans of pop during a 1 hour interview. He would just sort of wander off in an answer and stare at his can of pop for a few seconds, then take a really long dramatic drink from the can.

          I thought I was either in some secret taping of a pop commercial or a candid camera episode.

          That coupled with the fact that he didn’t manage to answer one question correctly on our short (5 question) technical test that was comprised of SQL 101 questions, means it was an easy choice to pass on him.

          1. AKchic*

            I’m trying to imagine the “long dramatic drink from the can” here. Was it like a tv commercial supermodel slow-mo drink, or the garrulous long guzzle of a thirsty linebacker doing yardwork who longs for a beer but will take the dang soda if that’s all you’ve got because he’s been working so hard to impress the ladies and oh, gee, I just drank half the can in one swallow?
            Full on sound effect gulp sounds (because those sounds make me want to punch people)?

            The only time I had a guy irritate me with his drinking during an interview, he brought in a 64oz Big Gulp cup. He kept sucking on the straw, swishing the liquid around in his mouth (and gargled once or twice during the interview!) and said that he’d been dehydrated (he did not appear to be dehydrated). When my boss got to the point of the interview where we said that we would send qualified applicants for drug screenings, his face fell, he stood up and said “sorry for wasting your time” and left. Guess it wasn’t dehydration, but severe cotton mouth!

            1. Specialk9*

              He swished it around and then gargled?! More than once? Oh lord, I’m laughing so hard at this thread today. I just wouldn’t know how to react.

          2. Someone else*

            He was using it as a stalling technique. “If I’m taking a drink, they won’t think I’m taking a giant pause for something I should be able to answer easily. They’ll just think ‘oh he has something in his mouth, this is a reasonable pause until he’s done’. ” He’s wrong, but I’d bet solid money that’s was his thought process.

        2. Specialk9*


          Here’s your interview room, would you like a coffee or water?

          Yes please. I’ll have a triple soy half caff late microfoam 2 pumps of sugar free cinnamon with 1 monkfruit and 1 brown sugar, thanks.

          Uh, so, what I heard was half burned drip coffee with sugar and MiniMoo creamers. Here ya go.

          That’s wild.

          1. Specialk9*

            This threaded so badly. It was in response to a post about someone asking the job candidate if they wanted a coffee, and getting a complex coffee shop order.

        3. Anonymoose*

          She sounds hideous. Sincerely. I probably would have responded with ‘well aren’t you precious? Well it’s your lucky day that there happens to be a Starbucks just down the road, and look at that – you still have about 5 minutes to go grab it. Otherwise, we have just your average drip coffee. So, what do you prefer?’.

      4. Snark*

        This is precisely what I came to say – I think there’s a difference between “there’s some carafes on the side table” and “I guess I can ask someone to go over to the kitchen and make a pot” when requesting coffee. And between “would you like anything to drink?” and “can I pour you a cup of coffee.”

        If coffee and other beverages are not obviously on offer, I’d err on the side of requesting water, at most. What’s going to cause the least delay, hassle, and disruption?

      5. Bea*

        Mind blown remembering brewing coffee is still a thing. I’ve been living the pod life too long. So this is a fabulous thing to have outlined. Granted if everyone gets a cup, then it’s still a few minutes to whip up and depending on how you take it another moment to flavor it the way you like.

        1. Triumphant Fox*

          These answers made me nervous, because I have never made a pot of coffee (I drink copious amounts of tea). I might need to add this to my skill set (though I don’t handle meetings now where I would need to do this). I’ve also never used a Keurig or other Pod device. If someone asked me for a cup of coffee, I would struggle.

          1. Temperance*

            Most offices have very simple coffee brewers, where you either flip a switch (after opening the packet of coffee and filling the drip tray) or press a button to start it. I definitely don’t think it’s anything overly complicated or that you would need to be shown how to do more than once.

            The Keurig or Nescafe machines actually put the steps on the screen as you’re doing it, too. It’s honestly as simple as picking up the handle to open the machine, putting a pod in, and letting the machine do its thing.

          2. Bea*

            You’ll be okay! I had to teach myself an industrial coffee maker once and it’s just pouring grounds into the filter and putting water in the tank.

            Unless you encounter an espresso machine, it’s all very straight forward and many have steps on the menu.

          3. Totally Minnie*

            The first time I made coffee for a work event, it was awful. I thought I was following the directions on the coffee can, but I was not.

            In my defense, the directions were written for kitchen measuring cups, not the little cup that comes in the can for scooping purposes, but they didn’t explicitly say that. I was so confused until I called my sister, who laughed for about a minute and a half after she explained the actual process to me.

      6. Kittymommy*

        Yes. Thank you. I have a couple of bosses who always offer coffee. Great for them. Not great for me as I either have to do across the building to get it (if there’s any left) or make a pot in my office. And my office cannot provide this. So it’s my coffee, my creamer/sweetener/etc. And who do you think then gets to wash the cups (which is expressly not part of my job).

        1. Lil Fidget*

          Hehehe yeah my boss has offered coffee to guests and then looked at me (fun fact, I am not an admin. Guess what gender we both are) and I’ve been like *crap, there is no coffee made.*

          1. AKchic*

            I’d look back at him and say “great, I’ll have a cup too if you’re making a pot”. Then smile sweetly.

            Unfortunately, coffee now seems to be relegated to “other duties as assigned”.

          2. Indie*

            Yeeeeeesh. “Oh, I don’t think there is any. There’s mayyyybe someone who has chamomile tea bags (easy prep/clean up and people mostly hate it, so will pass) and of course water!” This sounds polite but will be enough for your boss to say “What happened to the coffee?” and you can say “You never made any up for the meeting, you dont order any for the office and you’ve not hired anyone whose job it is to oversee that stuff. Was I supposed to pour some from my morning to-go flask?”

        2. Mockingjay*

          Wait, you have to supply coffee for the bosses’ guests from your own personal stash?

          I’d take home my personal supplies and start bringing a lidded thermos or go cup already doctored to personal taste. When the bosses ‘ask’ for a pot, sweetly say, “sorry, I don’t have coffee supplies here anymore. It’s easier to bring a cup from home.”

          1. Lil Fidget*

            No I don’t have to provide the coffee, the office provides the grounds and the machine in the kitchen (which is not where the meeting rooms are) – but if there’s not a pot coffee on-hand, I’m not sure where he thinks it’s coming from. I like Specialk9’s answer, above. Also I just can’t imagine offering it without knowing if there is any around!

            1. Lil Fidget*

              Oh sorry I realize now that you were replying to Kittymommy’s comment, not mine!

      7. Smithy*

        This is everything.

        If coffee/tea is not in the room, the amount of time it can take to actually get a hot beverage can really range. In terms of factoring this request based on seniority, one key example came to mind. I recently had a Monday morning 9am presentation with a group to an external party and due to circumstances we didn’t really get into the room until 9:15. The person we were meeting with ended up having a hard out at 10am, and those were fifteen minutes we could have really used.

        We didn’t know about the hard out and had we lost an additional five minutes because someone wanted coffee (or even had it been less but perhaps felt like we were waiting for coffee to start) – I would not have wanted that associated with me as a junior person.

        So again, asking for water is definitely never wrong – but being mindful of senior people in the moment is the smart thing to do. Not because having someone waiting on a junior person is the problem, but because it may not be a moment where you want to be remembered for that.

      8. CustServGirl*

        I think it kind of relates to when your company is buying lunch, or when a vendor/client is buying. Never order something more expensive than what your boss (and/or the person buying) is ordering.

        There’s no need to have anxiety over accepting or declining a beverage (especially water) but it is always smart to read the situation!

    2. Erin*

      Saying yes please to something simple like water that’s offered isn’t rude or a mistake.

    3. Senior Staff Accountant (Public Practice)*

      Drink what the boss is drinking, and never more than the boss is drinking. IMO

    4. Kathy*

      I had one instance where we were at a client’s office and we had lunch delivered. Since this company is one of the biggest in the US, I stupidly assumed that they provided free sodas/drinks besides coffee/tea for their staff so I didn’t order any drinks.

      When I asked where the kitchen was so I could bring the drinks to the meeting room, one of their employees had a panic-stricken look on her face. I then knew that they didn’t provide soda (expect in vending machines). I has to scrape together money to purchase the sodas from the machine.

      I learned my lesson well and basically never ask for any refreshments in a meeting except water. Of course, employees from that company love coming to our onsite meetings as we provide snacks and pretty much any drink you could want.

    5. A.*

      I would feel bad if someone junior is basing their acceptance on mine. I happen to hate coffee, so I never drink it. I always decline the offer.

      1. Bea*

        I love coffee and refuse beverages offered. I wouldn’t notice let alone care if a junior person accepted one though.

        I’m a little put out by the thought of serving yourself though. So if we’re not offered anything and someone of any branch of my company helped themselves I would flinch. The story upthread of assuming beverages were on site and readily available for anyone gave me a startle.

    6. TootsNYC*

      that’s how the royals do it! No one can eat until they do, so they are quick to pick up a fork.
      People aren’t supposed to address them until the royal greets them, so they are quick to do so.

      1. Specialk9*

        The Rhys Bowen “Her Royal Spyness” series is very enjoyable, but it makes me bummed when the impoverished, hungry minor aristocrat (secretly a maid to make ends meet) is asked to the castle to do an unpaid favor for the Queen and can’t eat any of the delicious food in front of her bc the Queen isn’t hungry. Queeny, just take a pretend nibble! But no.

  3. LouiseM*

    Also, #1, if your coworker is literally interrupting, it’s fine to call him out on that. You *can* say “Actually, I was in the middle of saying something” or “please don’t interrupt me when I’m talking to Jane about our gynecologists” and keep going. Return the awkward to sender!

    1. Thlayli*

      Op1 Clearly this guy has poor social skills, like me. So I can give you guidance from the other side of the social skills/no social skills divide.

      It sounds like you have never said anything to him about this. he’s not going to magically realise he’s doing something wrong unless you actually tell him. People with poor social skills don’t do hints and body language – we literally don’t even notice them unless they are pointed out to us with actual words. Assuming you have never told him to stop, he probably thinks you are totally ok with him joining your conversations.

      Your best bet is to have an actual outright conversation about this and tell him that you would like him to stop. Use your words, he will respond to that better than hints or body language. Also you may have to do a LOT of one-off correcting of him before he realises that this is a pattern and you actually want him to stop in general, rather than just in specific situations.

      Remember people with poor social skills don’t want to make you feel bad – we genuinely don’t realise we are doing it. He thinks he’s being helpful and friendly. Explain to him that it is a problem and he will almost certainly stop.

      1. ..Kat..*

        As a socially awkward person myself, I agree that this would be a kindness. I have especially appreciated the people who talked with me in private first. Then, if I did it again (because I forgot, or did not completely understand our discussion), in the moment they would say “as per our previous conversation, I am handling this conversation…”. Or something like that. However, there is always the possibility that this guy is just an obnoxious jerk.

        1. Harper the Other One*

          Social awkwardness is one thing, but when a guy is MAKING UP deadlines on a project he knows nothing about, or chiming in on conversations about gynaecologists without a REALLY good reason, I would suspect it goes beyond that. However, the same tactics will work in either situation!

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            One form of social awkwardness operates something like “Words! People saying words near me. I must also say some words! Here are words!”

            1. Thlayli*

              This. It took me a looong time to realise that when people I know are talking beside me that doesn’t mean I’m automatically included in the conversation. If someone had explained this to me in actual words, I Would have had a much easier time in a lot of situations

            2. Washi*

              I think we have something like this happening with one of my coworkers. If someone is having a conversation within earshot, she can’t NOT say something, even if she has no idea what we’re talking about. I don’t think she would think of it as deliberately making things up, I think it’s more that she wants to take every opportunity to be included in conversations, and will just throw things out there in order to get a foothold in the discussion. It’s created a cycle though of people finding her annoying and avoiding her, which just makes her work harder to insert herself into situations.

              Kat or other socially awkward folks, how would you phrase a request to Josh to stop doing this in general? I would also like to talk to my coworker, but everything direct feels very rude.

              1. Reba*

                Remember that directness is kindness!

                Different setting, but I had a conversation with a someone in my grad school cohort that went something like, “I’ve noticed that when I’m talking with Lucinda about [whatever] that you often jump in, without seeming to have much to add to the conversation–we don’t mind talking with you but when you put in inaccurate information it slows down my work. Do you think you could try to rein it in?” She was embarrassed, I was embarrassed, but it helped. A little.

                If you are close to this person you could make it a bigger-picture conversation about how she is being perceived in your workplace, but even if not, you are well within bounds to talk about how this affects *you.*

              2. Thlayli*

                As Reba said be direct, but still kind. Even though we aren’t good at picking up on stuff, we still have feelings!

                There’s a difference in something your telling them they have to do for work reasons and something you’re asking them to do for politeness/personal reasons.

                In your case since it’s a politeness/style thing not causing professional problems I would start off by telling the person that you want to give them some advice about something. Depending on seniority/relationship you may want to add that it’s totally up to them whether to take the advice or not. Then tell them what they are doing (they may not realise) then tell them why that is a problem. Then depending on how the conversation goes tell them what you think they should do instead.

                Don’t beat about the bush or hint at all.

                With Josh it might look something like:
                Hi Josh, can I talk to you in the conference room when you have a minute.
                Thanks for coming. I just want to talk to you about something I’ve noticed I even know if you realise you are doing it. sometimes when people come to ask me questions about my projects, you jump in with an answer. This can cause problems because sometimes you don’t have the exact right answer, for example ther other day when you got the deadline wrong for the x project. When people ask me questions about my project, can you please just let me answer? If it’s not your project, wait until I ask you for input. Like I said I don’t know if you even realise you’re doing this, but watch out for it ok?

                Then depending on how he takes it, for the non-work advice it might be like:
                Actually you do this other times too. For example when Jane and I were talking about pregnancy the other day you jumped in to ask about gynaecologists. That was supposed to be a private conversation between me and Jane. I know it’s probably pretty silly to have a private conversation in open offices, but sometimes it just happens. It’s kind of an unspoken rule around here to ignore conversations you’re not actually involved in, to give the illusion of privacy. Do you know what I mean? Can I ask that unless I actually invite you into he conversation, you just pretend you can’t hear me? Believe it or not, this is actually a common thing. I bet if you pay attention to what people do in other conversations you’ll notice people ignoring stuff they can obviously hear.

                There’s a difference in tone in the first bit and the second bit. The first but is like “please stop doing this because it’s impacting my work” the second is more “yeah I know it’s partly my fault for having private conversations in public, but actually can you do me a favour of pretending you don’t hear”.

                In your case if she agrees to listen to some advice from you it might be like:
                I don’t know if you realise you’re doing this, but you often join in conversations that are happening beside you. You may not have realised, but it’s an unwritten rule around here that we sort of pretend we don’t hear conversations we aren’t actually involved in. And we wait to be invited to join in Instead if just jumping in to the conversation. It’s to give the illusion of privacy. Do you know what I mean? I bet if you pay attention to what people do when other people are talking near them, you’ll start to notice people doing this.

            3. Dragoning*

              I have a good friend that does this, both in person and online, and I don’t know how to explain to her to please stop adding irrelevant and sometimes patronizing advice and commentary to literally everything. I’ve tried explaining “hey, this actually hurt more than it helped” but the problem persists…

            4. AKchic*

              When my kids were pre-teens and starting in on the “oh my gods, people are talking, I *have* to talk too! I have opinions and they *must* be known rightnow!” I had a phrase…

              “A wise person speaks when he has something to say. A fool speaks to hear the sound of their own voice.”
              Meaning this: Is what you are contributing to the conversation actually relevant, or is it just to hear your own voice in the conversation? Knowing how to speak is great, but knowing *when* to speak and when to stay quiet are invaluable.

            5. Specialk9*

              “One form of social awkwardness operates something like “Words! People saying words near me. I must also say some words! Here are words!”

              This made me laugh. Thanks for the insight.

          2. Thlayli*

            Also, he’s not “making up” deadlines. He’s giving true answers, but “this week” isn’t useful when it’s actually the specific day they want.

            Lots of people have a strong desire to state all the info they know about a topic as soon as it comes up. I have a strong desire to “show my knowledge” about stuff when it comes up and I’ve witnessed lots of people doing this. We even had a letter about it a few weeks ago I think. It’s more common than you may realise for people to feel like they should always contribute to the conversation when they can. I suspect there may be many different reasons people have that desire but it’s most likely not because they’re being a jerk.

            As someone said downthread, you can’t tell if someone is a jerk or just socially ignorant until you give them the info and see what they do with it. Many social norms are not obvious and are even counter-intuitive and counter-instinctive, which is why social norms are different in every culture. Some people are good at reading them subconsciously and just “know” how to behave socially without being taught, but lots of people need to have them explained to us. Just like some people just “know” that if 20 x 2 is 40, and 20 – 1 is 19, then 19 x 2 must be 40 – 2 which is 38, and can work out 19 x 2 in less than a second. But other people would need that explained to them, and still others would need a calculator.

            This guy doesn’t realise that a conversation between people he knows standing beside him doesn’t include him. But that doesn’t mean he’s automatically a jerk, any more than someone is automatically a jerk for not instantly knowing that 19 x 2 is 38. It’s all just knowledge. You’re not born with mathematical or social knowledge. Some people can figure out one or the other, and some people need to be taught one or the other.

            1. Flinty*

              I agree! And I think that not always, but often, you can tell if someone is a jerk or just awkward. I have a coworker a bit like this, and when I put aside my annoyance, I can tell that she is genuinely trying to help/engage with us. She says things in a tone as if what she’s saying is helpful, she’s not particularly obnoxious in other contexts, when we tell her she’s wrong, she doesn’t argue endlessly over it. I’m not sure she’ll ever stop doing it, but it’s a lot easier to deal with if I see her interjections as attempts to connect, rather than pompous attention-getting.

            2. Temperance*

              He actually is making up deadlines, though. He said next week when it was due this week, on a specific day.

              1. Washi*

                But if he’s like my coworker, what probably happened was that he heard someone talking about another project that was due next week, or didn’t even fully hear the question. Most people understand that if they’re only 2% sure that an answer is right and the question wasn’t addressed to them anyway, that they should just leave it alone. But I think for some people, they can’t just sit on their guess and feel a compulsion to share what they know and engage.

              2. Thlayli*

                I actually interpreted OPs letter the other way – that the conversation was last week, and the deadline this Wednesday. so the “next week” statement was correct but not specific enough.

                Either way, it’s entirely possible that he thought he was giving a correct answer – I see no reason to assume he was outright lying.

                1. Temperance*

                  He’s an adult in a professional environment, not a child, though. He is interjecting into conversations that don’t include him and making life harder for LW.

            3. KitKat*

              Yes to all of this. And I think all humans have a sort of “well” that needs to be filled with social interaction in order to feel satisfied. Different people have different needs and some people hardly need any social time to feel full, and others need a lot. I think a lot of socially awkward people (including me at certain points in my life) don’t always know how to fill their wells, but feel a little empty, and so end up awkwardly trying to fill up in other ways, even ways that are counterproductive, like complaining on Facebook or jumping into conversations.

            4. MCMonkeyBean*

              In their example, he said it was due “sometime next week” when it was actually due this wednesday, so that is not true in any sense…

            5. Kate 2*

              He said it was next week, when it was actually this Wednesday. Giving a deadline that is off by a full week is NOT helpful. Not only could it have hurt the asker, if she had believed him and OP wasn’t around to correct, but when she states that Guy told her the wrong date, he becomes known as incompetent at best, a liar at worst.

          3. Sunshine on a Cloudy Day*

            Well – I’d argue that he’s most likely not “making up” deadlines. He hears a question. He thinks he knows the answer so he says what he thinks to be true in an effort to be helpful. He just doesn’t realize that what he thinks he knows is not correct.

            Which is definitely a specific skill – having a good handle on what you know vs what you think you know and learning how to accurately relay that. Also knowing when someone else is more likely to have more accurate information and letting them answer first. I’ve definitely come across people who relay any information that they’ve heard/seen (from whatever source) as absolute fact, which I find pretty frustrating. Are you stating this as a fact because you personally went through and thoroughly understood the process in the recent past with similar circumstances, or did your best friend tell you that her uncle who’s a lawyer said “this is how it works”?

            Like in the example in the letter, it would have been way better if annoying co-worker had waited for someone actually involved in the project to answer, but if no one did he could have then chimed in with “Not 100% sure, but I think it’s not due until next week”.

            1. Just J*

              +1 to “knowing when someone else is more likely to have more accurate information and letting them answer first”.

              This is a social skill that, IMHO, is hard to learn for people to learn (and use).

          4. Specialk9*

            It would have to be a very specific kind of relationship, but you could tell him he’s like the interrupting cow joke.

            Knock knock
            Who’s there
            Interrupting cow interrupting c–

            Then when he interrupts, you could just moo.

            For most situations, you wouldn’t do this though. :D

            1. Specialk9*

              I ruined the joke with bad spacing.

              Knock knock
              Who’s there
              Interrupting cow
              Interrupting c–

                1. YuliaC*

                  I love this :) I am a socially awkward habitual interrupter, and this might just be the phrase that’ll stop my next impulse to inject myself into people’s convos. I don’t want to be the one that always goes “Booock!”

              1. Joielle*

                When we were kids my brother and I loved that joke, but with “interrupting starfish” – you grab the other person’s face. Very funny (to a couple of ten-year-olds, anyways) but only to be used with people who are in on the joke and expect the face grab!

      2. Bagpuss*

        I think this approach works even if he isn’t socially awkward. If he is simply unaware, then setting out the issue explicitly should address the problem.

        If he is simply an obnoxious jerk, then setting it it clearly prevents him having plausible deniability and lets you escalate if you have to, both in how you speak to him (“Josh, I’ve made clear before that it’s not appropriate for you to interrupt conversations or to try to answer work related questions which aren’t addressed to you and don’t involve your work. Please stop”) and in being able to raise it with your manager if he won’t stop and you need her to step in.

      3. Nita*

        Agreed. OP definitely has to say something. In my office, HR also on occasion handles this sort of conversation. I guess they have a bit more experience handling awkward situations than the average person, so they get a lot of little complaints of this sort brought to them.

      4. Temperance*

        I don’t think the issue is poor social skills, or at least, is only poor social skills. He’s lying and interjecting himself into conversations.

        1. bonkerballs*

          I think calling what he’s doing lying is a big stretch. Lying is deliberate. Giving mis-information because you’re not as informed as you think you are is not lying.

          1. Specialk9*

            Yeah I think there’s a significant chance he’s not actually lying, but the end result of him interrupting with untrue info about OP’s project is till so very frustrating. Sorry OP!

      5. Snark*

        I was going to say – a kindly correction along the lines of, “hey, not sure if you’re aware how it comes off, but when you jump into conversations you’re not a part of, particularly about work deadlines and so on, it can come off as rude. When someone asks me about one of my projects, just let me answer, please.”

          1. voyager1*

            I like that too Snark. That could be the start of a convo with. “Hey I and others have noticed a pattern of behavior you might be be aware of…” Start solving this problem. Since it is an open office I would try and pull him aside to limit his feeling embarrassed since he seems truly socially awkward.

      6. Lil Fidget*

        I suppose you’re correct, but I also don’t think it’s my job to kindly walk adults who should presumably have learned this before now, through basic social etiquette like not jumping into other people’s conversations with incorrect information. You sound self-aware and thoughtful, why hasn’t Josh reached any self awareness on this issue? I agree with the advice to say something, but I’m going to be direct and not undertake the task of being the Caring Teacher with a colleague.

        1. Not a Morning Person*

          It is frustrating that everyone doesn’t have the same norms and that some people need to be told, but if it’s frustrating and irritating to the OP, then it’s most likely worth it for the OP to speak up offer the feedback or advice on what to do instead of joining in to conversations that don’t concern the cube neighbor even though he can hear the conversation. Maybe along the lines of, “I know you are trying to be helpful, but it really is confusing when you answer questions about my projects instead of referring people to me. Please just tell them to ask me. Can you do that?….. Thank you.”

        2. Le Sigh*

          You’re right that it’s not your job or the LW’s job. But since it’s negatively impacting the LW’s life enough to write in for advice, it makes sense to try. Even if it’s not her job, it might improve her work life if this guy listens and takes the feedback to heart. And she can be direct and kind while doing it — she has to work with the guy, so why assume malice? I don’t think she has to be a Caring Teacher, but why not just start off with a quick, direct but thoughtful request not to do it, see where that goes? If he doesn’t respond or is a jerk about it, now she’ll know he’s a jerk and she can respond accordingly.

          And most of us have at least something we’re not terribly self-aware about. Sometimes you realize things on your own over time (and cringe when you think back on prior behavior), sometimes because others pointed it out to you, even if it’s not their job. Some of the commenters here have probably had this stuff pointed out to them over time, which is why they are more self-aware now.

        3. Bleeborp*

          That’s ultimately where I come down on it. For example, my husband is a very nice guy who has a hard time telling his overly chatty, socially clueless coworkers to STFU so he can work. One of them in particular I know would respond well to a direct “I am working, please stop coming over to talk” and even he knows the directness would be worth a try. But coworker might not take it well, it may cause a scene bigger than the original annoyance. Life is already full of direct, uncomfortable conversations you have to have so when you’re dealing with someone who doesn’t understand office norms then it does suck to feel like “I gotta be the one to teach them?” when you have no idea how it might go. Not that it isn’t still sometimes the right thing but it might not be as chill as “this thing you do is rude” and then being graciously thanked for the insight into appropriate social interaction.

        4. Thlayli*

          Eh… no-one is saying it’s OPs job. She’s asking for advice – we’re offering advice on one way to deal with it, not telling her it’s her job to follow it.

          Social etiquette may seem basic to you, but it’s not basic to me. Plenty of other people on here are also saying it’s not basic to them.

          Plenty of grown adults make it into the workplace without basic skills. I had someone ask me the other day how to add stuff up in excel, which to me is as basic as basic can be. I showed her. If she comes back and asks me again, I’ll be pretty pissed off, but if she listens and learns and applies the knowledge, then that’s fine. It’s completely normal to give someone a little bit of info they missed out on growing up – it’s what they do with that knowledge that shows whether they are a jerk or just misinformed.

          Also, I’m not suggesting OP should be the “caring teacher” and not be direct- the reason we reach adulthood without these skills is BECAUSE people aren’t direct about them. Because people “model” social behaviour and hint and nudge and ostracise and so on, instead of just flipping telling us straight out what they bloody well want us to do.

          And in answer to your question – I’m thoughtful and self aware because I went through a LOT of grief from people for not being socially aware and I was told outright by lots of people that this was a problem (one of my exes called me a “social retard” during an argument) and I have made a huge effort to actually learn these skills on my own. Also I’ve had a couple of mentors who really thought I was a great engineer but was being held back by the lack of social skills and made it their business to teach me – thankfully they didn’t have the “not my job” attitude you do.

      7. SophieK*


        Dude is showing his dominance. So OP needs to establish her dominance right back. A good way to do this is to turn the attention on him and start peppering him with questions.

        “Who’s *your* gyno?”
        “Oh, that’s right, they’re for women. Who is your wife’s gyno?”
        “Vaginally or c-section?”
        “Don’t you hate when they don’t warm the speculum?”

        And don’t stop when they become uncomfortable. Keep going!

        I use a similar script when someone tries to gossip at me:
        “Who is this person again?”
        “Where did you get this information?”
        “You don’t know them? Then why are you saying such negative things about them?”
        “How do you know that’s true?”
        “Is this your story to tell?”

        People usually only try this once with me.

        1. Kate 2*

          Love this. He may be socially awkward, or my first thought, a self-declared Expert on Everything. I would start with the kinder assumption, that he is socially awkward, and explain that he is being rude to interrupt the gynecology type convos, and sabotaging himself and others with the work convos. If that doesn’t work, I love your tactic and think it would be very effective, plus escalating to shared manager, since this could have serious detrimental effects on the office.

        2. Temperance*

          Yep. I recognize this behavior because I have managed a similar guy. He was giving outright false information out, and holding himself out as an authority.

        3. AKchic*

          This was one of my thoughts too. It wasn’t said that this is a recent development (to coincide with the promotion), so we can’t know if its a dominance thing due to the promotion, or if he’s always been this way, and we can’t know if he only does this with women, or with certain people.

          I’d like to err on the side of caution though. Even if he is trying to assert dominance, he’s doing it very clumsily, so he might be a combination of socially awkward while trying to assert dominance and just wanting social interaction. None of that gives him the right to trample all over other peoples’ conversations or involve himself in discussions and act like Mr. Know-It-All when he’s more Jon Snow than Jon Snow.

          1. Specialk9*

            Yeah I’d try to feel out a bit whether it’s social awkwardness or intent to dominate, before going nuclear. And be careful, with going nuclear, that the manager hearing about your end won’t think you’re the unprofessional one. (Eg speculum details)

        4. Mookie*

          This is great. I know from socially awkward, and Josh isn’t socially awkward. Josh is shameless, which is different, and in need of any kind of attention he can get.

      8. AliceBG*

        If someone *knows* they have poor social skills, the onus is on them to learn the skills to the best of their ability, not on their coworkers to teach them or give them a free pass.

        1. Specialk9*

          Yeah but a direct conversation is both a kind heads up (if accidental behavior) and documentation (if being a boor).

        2. Le Sigh*

          You’re right, but since it’s an office setting and LW has to work with this person, and come across as professional, I think it’s best to start with a direct convo that doesn’t assume malice. That should tell LW a lot about this person and whether this is a social awkwardness thing, a dominance thing, whatever, and respond accordingly (which could include the quips above, b/c they’re effective sometimes–depending on who and what you’re dealing with).

          I’m an perpetually annoyed feminist who spent years surrounded by tape measures and male posturing, so while I’m inclined to start off snarky, esp. toward potential displaces of dominance, I’d also argue it’s in LW’s favor to start from a neutral position, then go from there.

      9. Michaela Westen*

        Another possibility is he was raised with bad examples. If he grew up in a family where people behaved like this, he might not know it’s rude, disrespectful etc.
        I was raised with bad examples and it took several years to unlearn this and learn better – always a work in progress. I appreciate people who were nice to me anyway or said something kindly, and still remember how hurtful it was when others rejected me without letting me know why, or said snarky/rude/hurtful things – again, I didn’t understand why.

      10. Double A*

        My coworker interrupts me constantly and I’ve talked to her about it. It was a really rough conversation where she cried and everything. One thing we talked about is how that’s the culture in her family, where everyone just talks over each other, and I talked about having code switch because that’s not appropriate for our setting.

        It got better for a minute but now has gotten worse. My job is teaching kids either social skills issues (and they are generally way more receptive to feedback). In general her lack of social awareness about many things, paired with her sensitivity about feedback, make her a very poor fit for the job, where you need to be very socially aware and have a thick skin. I honestly don’t think it’s an easily coachable problem, and I’m not her manager (though her role is to support me) so I don’t really have the ability or patience to deal with it, because I use all those skills on my students.

        I’m pretty frustrated at this point.

    2. babblemouth*

      I use to be an interrupter, and I didn’t even realise it. Someone called me out on it once, and I felt mortified. Becoming conscious of the behaviour helped me change it though!

      If “Josh” is not a jerk, he’ll probably adapt his behaviour when called out on it. That’s actually how you can sort out socially awkward people from jerks – the socially awkward ones are eager to get better, jerks will insist that because their intentions aren’t wrong, they don’t need to change anything.

    3. Temperance*

      He sounds like a mansplainer to me. I mean, WTF, gynecologists are something he would literally have no exposure to.

      1. Squeeble*

        That’s not necessarily true, plenty of men have interactions w GYNs, but I agree that he shouldn’t have butted in unless he was asked.

        1. Jessie the First (or second)*

          As a general rule, I think we are on pretty safe ground assuming that men (unless they are a trans man) don’t have the kind of “interaction” with gynecologists that is relevant. I mean, seriously.

          1. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

            He might have a friend or relative who’s a gynecologist and wanted to know if his co-workers were patients. Not that it makes it makes it any better, but it’s a possible line of reasoning.

            1. Temperance*

              There has been a trend in the comments lately to come up with any excuse why a person is doing something weird or rude. Sometimes, people just suck.

              In your example, that’s even more shocking and rude, though.

          2. Lindsay J*

            I mean, he could have a wife or a girlfriend and know she really likes (or really disliked) her gyno for reasons XY and Z.

            Like, if someone overheard I was thinking that I was going to a gyno, and he knew that someone in his life had had a terrible experience with that doctor, I wouldn’t mind his input even if he were a man and didn’t have direct knowledge.

            (Though it sounds like this dude is boorish in other ways, and was not part of this conversation to begin with, which would make his input not-so-welcome.)

          3. Nita*

            I beg to differ! My husband, unfortunately, knows way too much about my GYN and his mom’s GYN – the first, because I rant to him a lot about the incompetence of the doctor’s office, and the second because his mom is being treated for a serious illness and he has to advocate for her.

          1. Squeeble*

            Plenty of those men have women partners who have been pregnant or had reproductive health issues, or they work in health care and know the doctors personally, or what have you. In any case, it doesn’t matter–the coworker shouldn’t be jumping into these conversations regardless, and I don’t want to take the conversation off track, so I’ll stop here.

            1. Observer*

              Well, we *know* that most of those things don’t apply to Josh. Why are so many people twisting themselves into knots trying to justify flat out rudeness with ridiculous excuses?

        2. Specialk9*

          Wait, what? Plenty of men *don’t* have significant interactions with gynecologists, enough to grill a woman about her gynecologist or chime in on a conversation. Even if we’re talking transgender men, that’s far from “plenty”, and, like, that would have been mentioned in the letter. (Eg “I mean, Dave is transgender so technically he has knowledge in this area, but it’s still intrusive and weird that he butted in.” – which didn’t happen.)

    4. Lucky*

      Have I told the story here before, about the time that two coworkers (both my “clients” in my organization, coming to me for my expertise) interrupted me, then got into a mildly heated debate about how I was going to answer their question? I straight up called them out (“do you guys want to keep debating what I’m going to say, or listen to me say it?”) and we all laughed and they both shut up and listened. I hate being interrupted, but recognize that everyone can be an interrupter at some point, usually in a group back-and-forth conversation. So, I’ve started to make a point to stop myself and apologize for interrupting when I do it, and I have found in the relatively brief period of my experiment, the worst interrupters have lessened up. I like to think I’m doing a bit of good in the world.

  4. OrganizedHRChaos*

    In regards to #1, I find myself having a very low tolerance for those that butt into conversations that they don’t belong. Even when I hear someone doing it to others I tend to be a little sharp and just state that their commentary is not welcome. It doesn’t hurt that my RBF leans towards deadpan and my staff know my extremely dry humor/manner but they tend to get the idea quickly. This comment adds nothing helpful, I am afraid.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      I found it helpful! It reminded me that another way to deal with an interrupter is to use your side-eye/RBF to give them a dead-eyed, awkward silence of a few seconds.

      1. Close Bracket*

        Oh yes, let the awkward silence extend.

        Seriously, the gyno thing. Unless he’s trans, that would get an open mouthed stare.

        1. Thlayli*

          Why on earth would trans enter into it? Even if he has/had a vagina it’s totally inappropriate for him to bring up other people’s gynaecologists in work.

          I’m assuming here that it was him who brought it up. if OP was talking about her gynaecologist in an open office, I kind of thing this one is her fault cos ew gross your coworkers don’t want to know

          1. Kas*

            There’s a difference between not minding if others overhear talk about which doctor someone sees, and not wanting someone with no knowledge of the subject to butt in and start mansplaining.

            And mentioning that you’re seeing a gynaecologist is not gross. Describing in detail the procedures you underwent would inappropriate for a professional setting, but just mentioning which doctor you see is not.

              1. Sally*

                that’s a bigoted slur. Try to avoid using words that use someone’s gender, or other biological or unavoidable attributes as a means to identify behavior

                1. Jennifer Thneed*

                  But “mansplaining” *is* a specific behavior that *does* rely on the person doing it being male. It’s a named behavior, not a slur.

          2. attie*

            Your coworkers… don’t want to know… that you have a doctor?

            I kind of assume most people have one of those, and wouldn’t think exchanging recommendations of good ones would be a problem at work. What’s so disgusting about “Hey, I just moved to this city and don’t have a gyno yet, where do you go?” “Oh, I’m at Dr. Wakeena’s clinic, it’s great, wait a sec I have the address around here somewhere…”?

          3. Lynca*

            I’ve been approached a lot of times by female co-workers asking who I see as my primary gyno/GP/etc. Because they are looking for a new doctor and we have the same health insurance. So at least they know the doctor is in network. They also tend to ask how I like them, what kind of bedside manner they have, how the staff treats patients, etc.

            All of which aren’t inappropriate topics to discuss in a casual conversation.

            1. Falling Diphthong*

              That was how I read it. It’s no different from people who live near me asking if there’s a local vet I would recommend.

              1. AvonLady Barksdale*

                Same. (I got a giggle out of your vet comparison, btw!) I have actually had such a conversation when a co-worker needed a new gyn. She asked, I recommended mine, and we even traded “reviews” after her appointment.

            2. Triumphant Fox*

              Yes! This was a godsend to me at my last office. I needed to see a GYN urgently and unexpectedly and really didn’t like the primary care physician I was seeing, so I didn’t totally trust their recommendations. Needing something ASAP is so demoralizing when I’m used to researching things so thoroughly, but I knew one of my coworkers loved hers (in the context of delivering her first child) and I was sold. It was so helpful to have someone relatively close to the office and to know that they do a few really early morning appointments each week for working women.

            3. AsItIs*

              Oh no! Your co-workers might have offended their male co-workers by not asking them too! LOL

          4. Penny Lane*

            There’s nothing gross about saying to a fellow co-worker “I’m new to the area and am looking for an ob-gyn; do you know of one?” and the co-worker saying “Why yes, I recommend Dr. Smith on Main Street, she has a nice way about her, blah blah blah.” That’s not talking about actual gyn procedures, exams, or issues.

          5. Temperance*

            Well if he’s trans, he’s presumably had experience with OBGYNs, whereas a cis dude thrusting his opinion into the conversation is just being a mansplainy weirdo.

          6. Pollygrammer*

            “Ew gross?” For talking about an ob-gyn, which every woman should have? That is a seriously immature attitude, I’m sorry.

            1. NaoNao*

              Agree. We need to stop acting like normal, natural, everyday functions of women’s bodies are “gross”. TMI, sure. But “gross”? No.

            2. Thlayli*

              I don’t have a gynaecologist! Only people with serious gynaecological issues like cervical cancer or prolapsed wombs or whatever have gynacologists in my country.

              I had an obstetrician for my fourth pregnancy because it was a high-risk pregnancy but I had Midwives for all the others.

              We get smear tests from nurses at the GP’s office, paid for by the government. You can get free std testing from government funded clinics. I hope I never have a reason to visit a gynaecologist.

              American health system is weird.

          7. Close Bracket*

            Bc he might be looking for a gynecologist. In which case, anyone with a vagina might reasonably ask which one someone sees, just like any other kind of doctor. Coworkers tend to have the same insurance, so they are good people to ask for references to medical professionals.

          8. Specialk9*

            Being a trans dude would actually significantly reduce my irritation here. ‘Oh you actually have some knowledge here and may think you’re being helpful’ is hugely different from ‘omigawd you have to interrupt and give answers even when you clearly know nothing about this topic, to two people inherently far more qualified than you’.

            I mean, someone with a penis interrupting two women to mansplain VAGINAS is pretty hilariously awful, in a way that someone who has/has had a vagina just isn’t.

            Ack too much vagina in my work blog!

        2. Snark*

          Seconded, and in that case I think a, “Jeff, this was a conversation between Lucinda and I, and since you’re a guy I really don’t think it’s appropriate or needed for you to weigh in on gynecologists.”

            1. Snark*

              Or could just go full Snark Mode and say “So was he gentle when he did your pap smear?”

    2. fposte*

      This is reminding me of that delightful “Ladyboss” video with its annoying interrupter, Derek. Link in followup.

  5. SS Express*

    #3, online communities are almost always horrible. If you’re mostly familiar with this community and other similar ones (Captain Awkward, A Practical Wedding) you might not fully realise the extent to which online groups can bring out the absolute worst in people (and often attract the *absolute worst people* too). Check out the comments on Refinery29’s Money Diaries series if you don’t believe me, and you’ll soon see that the nasty attitudes found in these communities honestly don’t reflect the way normal people think and act in “real life”. Allison’s advice for how to handle it is great, but I just want to reassure you that you shouldn’t let this experience affect your feelings about your career in general and you most especially shouldn’t take any of the negative comments about your own decisions to heart.

    1. Willis*

      Agreed. A lot of online forums attract people with strong opinions, and can either become an echo chamber or a constant back and forth between two factions. Nextdoor was one I had to quit…I love my neighborhood but it was pretty overrun with petty complaints and arguing. Sometimes getting others’ opinions is helpful…other times, less is more. I hope the OP doesn’t let the negative Facebook pages affect her feelings about her career and/or career decisions!

      1. Snark*

        Oof. Nextdoor, in my ‘hood, is mostly a crew of angry 70 year olds angrily bitching about homeless people, and one angry 30 year old who’s 70 at heart and ringleads the whole shitshow with a daily indignant post about something he’s observed a homeless person doing in the neighborhood. Nah, fam.

      2. Lucky*

        Please do check out Best of Nextdoor on Twitter. Neighborhood drama can be hilarious when it’s not your neighborhood.

      3. AKchic*

        Ugh. Nextdoor is ridiculous. I swear, I have it just to see if the neighbors complain about me (they have). When we first moved to our neighborhood, it was hilarious to see the complaints about us. The first one was that our vehicle was tacky and hopefully it was just a guest helping us move in and it would be gone soon because it would lower property values (we own an old fire chief rig, still painted red and white). I hopped on to say that no, it was not getting repainted and since they hadn’t introduced themselves, I’d introduce myself – and told them where to stick their opinions. I’m a third generation resident of the neighborhood. We’re relatively quiet. We just don’t dress and act like the rest of the “rich” neighborhood.

        1. Plague of frogs*

          Wow, your neighbors need to get the sticks out of their asses.

          I like Nextdoor. I guess I’m lucky to live by decent people. (Also we all have a common enemy–the two guys who break into people’s houses that the police can’t seem to catch–so that probably helps).

          1. AKchic*

            We’ve lived in the house for nearly 2 years now, so they’ve gotten used to our presence, and the truck. We don’t have fire dancers in the street, but we do have magic rehearsals, renaissance rehearsals and prop building in the backyard, so they’ve kind of gotten used to the “oddness” coming from our area of the neighborhood. They still do double-takes when I walk around in full costume and check the mail before leaving for events, or when we leave the house in cosplay.
            Ironically, we do have other ren fair case in the neighborhood too, so you’d think they’d be used to it. Not really because they’re on “different streets”.

            It’s the whole “this is an HOA (yeah, they enforce nothing) and our houses are worth something” (which, is actually true, for our city, it’s a pretty posh neighborhood). Luckily I have a few nonconformists nearby that help alleviate the bull.

    2. Marion Ravenwood*

      Oh yes. I’m fairly active on Money Diaries (under a different name), and I swear I don’t know how they’re still getting people to submit them, because the commenters absolutely rip them apart for everything under the sun.

      (This does seem to be a thing on money-related forums/groups in my experience though; I was on a well-known British finance website’s forum for a while, and the amount of mean comments, ‘anyone daring to spend more than the bare minimum on anything is a frivolous wastrel’ tone, raking over people’s previous comments to point out inaccuracies etc was just awful.)

      1. strawberries and raspberries*

        Oh, one time I wrote to Refinery29’s Managing Editor about this article they’d written about a young mother of two on SNAP because the comments were so incredibly vicious and slut-shaming and threatening. (Refinery29 didn’t help by adding a ton of “welfare queen” dog whistles into the article, like how much time the woman spent on doing her make-up and how her children had different fathers, which I also mentioned in my complaint.) Rather than opening anyone’s eyes, it just provided a platform for a ton of insignificant-feeling people to lash out at some poor woman. This comment section is really the only one I participate on anymore (I spent more time on Captain Awkward when I wasn’t working as many hours) because at least people stay on topic and (for the most part) are actually trying to help.

      2. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

        Money forums are an interesting thing… I’ve totally seen what you are describing, but I’ve also seen the people who are asking how to become not broke. It usually goes something like this…

        I’m in debt and need help. Here’s my budget.

        $6000 for a 6 bedroom house for me and my goldfish
        $1000 for my cell phone/cable bill
        $2000 car payment for my Lamborghini
        $2000 car payment for my goldfish’s Lamborghini

        I need to save some money because I have to upgrade to a Land Rover so that me and my goldfish can get to our daily spa treatments. As you can see I’ve cut everything to the bone in my budget and I’m still not able to save.

        Those threads used to be entertaining to watch. I will say the one I spent time on was nice because it basically had two main money advice forums, one was very supportive and cheerleader heavy, the other one was where you went when you needed a kick in the butt*. Both had their place.

        *Even the kick in the butt one made fun of themselves for some of the extreme money ideas.

        1. Marion Ravenwood*

          Must admit I never encountered that. Granted that may have been because the main website was focused on that budgeting aspect, so not sure if the forum just attracted people at the more extreme end of that, or if it was just the sections I visited that were particularly nasty. But there were other sections that were a lot closer to the nice forum you describe too.

        2. Teapot librarian*

          Doesn’t this poster also need a chauffer for her goldfish’s Lamborghini? I mean, fish don’t have legs to reach the car’s pedals.

    3. Julia*

      Even harmless Facebook groups like Mugglenet get people viciously lashing out at anyone who says that of course Hermione can be black.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Or a Witcher group I was in that I left because I swear to God if I have to sit through one more Yen vs. Triss debate, I am going to scream.

      2. Snark*

        Funny how the people who think Hermione might actually be black are never the ones angrily lashing out. WHAT A COINCIDENCE AM I RIGHT

      3. Kimberlee, no longer Esq*

        I wish I could tell you about how there are really good, supportive, inclusive McElroy brother forums (adventure zone, mbmbam, etc) but unfortunately the one I was part of actually collapsed because they were worried they were being infiltrated by jerks, so they kicked a bunch of people out, those people of course objected, and it eventually came down to “we can’t have nice things” and was shut down. Sigh.

    4. Annie Moose*

      You see this in Reddit communities a lot. When they’re small, they can be pretty great, but the larger they are, often the worse they get (unless they have delightfully draconian mods, like /r/AskHistorians). Small communities have a degree of self-policing because people sorta know each other and it’s easier for everyone’s voice to be heard, but once they get big, there’s a lot more anonymity and she who yells the loudest gets the most attention.

    5. Seriously?*

      I have found that mostly the online communities that I find helpful are the ones with a strong moderator. Un-moderated communities tend to devolve very quickly.

      1. Beancounter in Texas*

        Yes, I find this true with good moderators. One FB group with an active moderator ruled a bit too much IMO, when I dared to suggest against the echo chamber that grape juice does not cure stomach viruses. I was kicked out of the group and blocked. I was shocked at the time, but I laugh about it now.

        1. Seriously?*

          There is definitely a balance. A moderator needs to rein people in who are out of line but not stifle conversation.

    6. Bea*

      The age old rule of “don’t read the comments” still applies.

      My BP spikes reading local news feeds. Nothing is ever news worthy, everyone is always the opposite political affiliation of you if you disagree with a minor thing. Starbucks opening up their bathrooms to everyone WOAHZAH even though everyone thinks they’re the devil with $99 cups of coffee now they’re worse and will have heroin needles in each stall for all the good solid paying folk to sit on. I cannot with the internet many ,that’s for sure. It’s like being in Gen Pop at a prison.

      1. Lil Fidget*

        On the other hand, on a decent site I am obsessed with comments, on a subject like human interest at least (maybe not something factual like a report of the news or something). I love to see if the article is being received the same way I am receiving it, if other people disagreed with the premise, etc. I spend equal time reading the comments here as Alison’s answers, and it’s not because I disagree. I also read comments on blogs like Slate, where there is a sense of community (even if they get a pretty curmudgeonly).

        1. Bea*

          Oh don’t get me wrong, I’ve been an (overly) active member on boards and blogs since the late 1990s because I’m the older millennial that grew into the tech boom and embraced it during my hermit youth. So there are great commentary out there when it’s very specific tuned interests. Facebook is a garbage heap, even my mother acts a mess in comments there. My friends and I cackle about it but if we didn’t know, we would not see humor or understand much.

    7. Ms. Taylor Sailor*


      Honestly, I ended up almost completely leaving Twitter for those reasons. (I still check some accounts that I’m interested in periodically without logging in). There was a specific fan community I was a part of for a couple years that I cannot stand anymore. The fandom was for a YouTube channel that did live-streaming and would read fans’ tweets live. Certain members of the community always had to hijack conversations whenever possible, sometimes tweeting the exact same thing as many as five times in a minute until they got the content creator’s attention and got a shout-out on the show. Additionally, even though they often prided themselves on being “non-toxic,” many of them had no problems name-calling and insulting people outside the fan community that they didn’t like or disagreed with. I remember one person in particular quote-tweeting someone and calling them an “obtuse b*tch.” (I can’t remember the exact context, but I find that inexcusable no matter what.) It amazed me how people were willing to act, particularly when I’m sure they’d never say those things in real life.

      Honestly, AAM is one of the single best online communities I’ve come across. I wish I participated more, but I’m often scared of saying something dumb or coming across awkwardly.

      1. Michaela Westen*

        If you can handle civilized debate, don’t be afraid! Twice I’ve had my comments here disagreed with and it wasn’t so bad. :)

    8. JustaTech*

      My experience is that some online communities are great (y’all are pretty awesome) and some are interesting and enthusiastic and a genuine discussion, but all of those are communities with a pretty tight focus, and generally the comment section of a blog.

      Then there are comment sections on news articles, and hoo boy, that’s just a very different group of people. But even the “worst” places can occasionally have interesting conversations, like comments on a YouTube video. Obscurity helps reduce the number of people who just comment to be mean/angry.

    9. TCPA*

      SS Express – I just want to say THANK YOU for mentioning A Practical Wedding! I am reading the book right now (currently planning my/my fiance’s wedding) and somehow had no idea there was a related website! You just made my day – thank you again :)

  6. Zip Silver*

    #1 – work conversations aside, if you’d rather not have the people around you in your open office involved in social conversations, I’d avoid having them at your desk. Everybody around you can hear you talking about gynocologists etc. If you’d prefer that sort of thing to be a private conversation, having it publicly isn’t the way to go about that.

    1. Mookie*

      Eh, I think that’s unrealistic and too regimented. The LW is not bothered about the colleague listening in or overhearing; she doesn’t like that he has to authoritatively butt in and provide misleading information. It’s not unreasonable to ask that he doesn’t and guard against it in future. It doesn’t require her to give up having the conversations she wants to have that aren’t disrupting anyone else.

      1. Zip Silver*

        > It doesn’t require her to give up having the conversations she wants to have that aren’t disrupting anyone else.

        Except, of course, for the coworker she’s sitting next to.

        1. Mookie*

          Well, no, not every single conversation the LW engages in is a disruption for her neighbors, unless they’re under the impression that the default mode in this open-plan office is mute, in which case their expectations are unreasonable. Nothing in the LW’s letter insinuates that the people around her feel that she is being rude; talking aloud is not an invitation for passersby to join in, and joining in in this manner is unlikely to be intended as a subtle rebuke for merely speaking. If Josh wants to send that message, he can use his words, but butting into a conversation, thereby prolonging it, certainly doesn’t effectively communicate the idea that the conversation shouldn’t even be taking place.

          Also, I don’t really see what sitting next to him has to do with anything, because he does this to everybody, not just the LW, and it sounds like some of these conversations don’t even take place at their desks.

          There is inarguably at least one disruptive character in this story, but it’s not the LW.

          1. Mike C.*

            How can conversations in an open plan office be anything but a total distraction to everyone else around them?

            1. Flinty*

              I’m a little confused by this. Do you think people should never speak in an open office? In my office at least, I sometimes need to ask my coworkers a question, or bounce ideas off them, or just chat briefly as social lubricant. I agree that loud personal conversations are distracting, but that’s different from a constant low level of noise with people approaching each other and talking and moving around, and that’s just part of the deal in an open office.

              1. Lora*

                “Do you think people should never speak in an open office?”

                For the love of god, yes please. If I can’t have a real office with a door, a fishtank and a potted plant, I want absolute quiet and IMs only. Bell Labs discovered 8 Nobels, and they had offices with doors that closed. HHMI supports researchers who also get offices with doors that close, 28 Nobels. I’m just saying.

                Gaetano Pesce is the inventor of the open office. If I ever go completely Kill Bill, he is on the list.

              2. Mike C.*

                Yeah, if you’re having a meeting, phone call or lengthy discussion, it’s incredibly distracting to everyone else who’s trying to get work done.

                That it’s “part of the deal in an open office” doesn’t do anything to change or mitigate the issue, it simply sweeps it under the rug.

        2. Yorick*

          It’s possible that SOME of this is happening because the conversations around his desk are distracting. I guess even the work-related ones like the made-up deadlines could be a passive aggressive reaction. But he still needs to stop.

      2. MLB*

        I disagree. I had a rule at work when I was in a larger office. If you’re speaking loud enough for me to hear, be prepared for me to interject myself into the conversation. I didn’t do it all the time, and I didn’t strain to hear what people were saying, but you can’t expect to have a private conversation in an open environment. Now if a few people were in someone’s cube/desk area and speaking quietly, I let them be as it’s evident they don’t want anyone else to enter the conversation. Of course the guy in the letter probably wouldn’t let a quiet conversation stop him from adding his 2 cents, since he continually provides incorrect info (which tells me he just wants to feel important or part of the team whether he has anything relevant to contribute or not), but I don’t think it’s unrealistic.

        1. Katniss*

          Do you follow this same rule in any setting where you can hear people’s conversation? Are you constantly interrupting people’s conversations in line at the grocery store or at the park? If not, why is the office any different?

          1. Tardigrade*

            In the context of someone trying to work and other people having a personal conversation directly beside them, I side more with the person trying to work. Two althoughs: (1) it’s better say they’re distracting you and could they please speak elsewhere rather than interject, and (2) I think OP’s situation is different since he inserts himself and gives incorrect information for work conversations as well.

          2. MLB*

            First, I don’t interrupt people’s conversations. Second, the people I work with are not strangers to me so not really a fair comparison. But yes, I have made comments to random strangers at times when I had something to add if we were sharing an experience at the time.

            1. Specialk9*

              This is very far out of social norms. To the extent that your co-workers may be sending letters about you.

              1. bonkerballs*

                I disagree. I’m with MLB, that’s basically how any group of people I know communicates. People come and go in a conversation, especially in a group setting like an open office. The idea of people I know chatting with each other near me and feeling like I’m not allowed to join in until one of them specifically addresses me is baffling.

                1. Specialk9*

                  You think that if you can hear a conversation, you get to interject? That’s a pretty major breach of social norms, especially when large numbers of people are squashed together. It’s why waving to a car on a small country road is polite, and ignoring everyone with focus is polite in big cities.

                2. bonkerballs*

                  @Specialk9, absolutely. I think if my two coworkers are chatting about a show I like, it’s no breach of social norms, to say “oh hey, are you guys talking about Game of Thrones? I love that show. Did you see last night’s episode?” That is how conversations happen in literally every aspect of my life. And quite frankly, I think it’s you who’s far outside social norms with the idea of needing to be personally invited into every conversation.

                3. Specialk9*

                  Bonkerballs, that’s not what MLB said, they said (paraphrased) if they can hear a conversation they have a right to join in. That’s not how it works. You gotta make a nod to privacy even if you don’t have it. Obviously I’m not saying nobody can join into any conversation, I’m saying that not all conversations can be joined just because they’re audible. You get the universe of difference there, right?

        2. Washi*

          I think there’s a difference between private and uninterrupted. I work in an open office and definitely don’t expect my conversations to be private, but I don’t think I should have to go into a separate room and close the door in order to have a discussion with my coworker without being interrupted by someone I wasn’t addressing.

          1. Seriously?*

            That is true to an extent, but I think work conversations and social conversations are different. Not allowing others to join in social conversations when you are talking right next to them would be rude and oddly exclusionary. If you don’t want to talk to him, have the conversation elsewhere. Push back on the butting into work conversations for projects he is not involved in.

            1. Washi*

              I think this is where body language come into it for most people. In general, yes, social conversation should be open for everyone. But if I want to talk to one person in particular about someone, I will move a bit closer to them so I can talk in a lower tone and not make eye contact with anyone else, which pretty reliably signals that this is a conversation for just the two of us. If I were doing that constantly and ignoring one specific person, that would be super rude, but if I have something to ask only one person, briefly, every once in a while, that seems pretty normal.

              As I said upthread, I totally recognize that not everyone can read these cues, but my experience in my American office has been that there is a way to tell the difference between conversations that are specific to one person or open to everyone.

              1. Mad Baggins*

                I think this varies by region/culture so much so that I don’t think any of us are speaking from the same experience/standpoint. In my office we speak quietly and most conversations are work-related; casual conversations are pretty open to all. At HQ everyone spoke at a volume somewhere between “Skyping Grandma” and “yelling in your ear on the dance floor”; off-topic conversations were more common but I felt pointedly excluded by loud but closed discussions about who was going to happy hour.

                In my experience the onus is on both parties to indicate interest/welcome to join the conversation with eye contact, etc. because I don’t think there is a universal social norm regarding who has the “right of way”, the interrupter or the conversant. I genuinely think we are all pointing at different lines on the spectrum and saying “that’s not acceptable.”

        3. Pollygrammer*

          Why did you want to constantly interject yourself into conversations? Were you making a point that they should take them elsewhere? Was it just FOMO? Because if you had no indication that you were wanted in the conversation, this is…a strange policy.

          1. MLB*

            I love when people insert assumptions into comments.

            I never said I did it constantly, but it’s part of being social. If it was work related and I thought I could help, I spoke up. If it wasn’t work related, I wanted to join in on a fun conversation that interested me. I used to work with a very social and fun group of people. It’s not really a strange concept.

            1. Pollygrammer*

              I’m sorry if I’ve misunderstood you, but the phrasing you’re using doesn’t indicate that it mattered much to you if the conversationalists wanted you to join or not.

              1. Specialk9*

                I read it as deliberately making a point, knowing they weren’t in the conversation but entitled to elbow in.

            2. biobottt*

              That sounds totally different from how you first described it. You said you had a rule of interjecting into conversations that you could hear. You didn’t mention a policy of only doing it sometimes, or only doing it if the topic interested you. Your only basis for joining, as you described it, was if the conversation was audible. So it’s not really a leap to assume you’re doing it every time you can hear a conversation, based on your description of your rule.

    2. Runner*

      I read the gynecologist example as a tongue-in-cheek exaggeration of the absurd lengths the coworker goes to be part of the office conversations, but I seem to be alone.

      1. NaoNao*

        There is no topic on which certain guys don’t have not only an opinion, but expertise.

    3. Anononon*

      So she should never just casually chat at work if she’s at her desk? (So probably at least 80% of her day?)

      1. Zip Silver*

        She shouldn’t have the expectation of privacy at her desk, is what I’m saying.

        1. Emi.*

          But there’s a difference between expecting other people not to hear, and expecting them not to butt in.

          1. Pollygrammer*

            Particularly about work stuff that is only relevant to certain people, which is her main complaint in the letter.

          2. Elsajeni*

            Yes, exactly! I mean, if I’m having a conversation on the bus, I don’t expect it to be private; I’m aware other people are probably overhearing and I’m not going to, like, tell someone my social security number and mother’s maiden name. But I do expect that the guy in the next seat won’t lean over into my conversation about which couch to buy and say “Yeah, it sounds like a loveseat is a better choice for y’all’s space, just based on what I’m overhearing.” There’s more leeway for coworkers to invite themselves into each other’s conversations than there is for strangers on the bus, but there are still limits — like “don’t butt in to ‘answer’ questions you don’t know anything about” — and it’s not unreasonable to expect your coworkers to follow those limits.

            1. Specialk9*

              This, thank you. When we’re all squashed in together, we erect privacy bubbles, recognising they’re imperfect. Failing to recognize a privacy bubble is a faux pas.

    4. Penny Lane*

      Zip Silver – the issue isn’t about joining conversations per se; the issue is about joining conversations where one has nothing to offer / contribute. If Jane says “I’m new in town, do you have an ob-gyn you can recommend?” and Lulu says “That’s a good question; I’ve been going to Dr Jekyll, but I feel like I see a different doctor every time” and Susie overhears the conversation and says “I couldn’t help but overhear you two – I recommend Dr. Pepper, she’s really one of a kind!” – no harm no foul. The issue is about this guy joining conversations where he can’t contribute just for the sake of hearing his own voice.

      1. Drop Bear*

        Well, to be fair he might have a gf/wife who visits a ob-gyn, and therefore might in fact know of a good one – even if his information is second hand. If I’m asked about a good local mechanic I give the name of the one my partner uses – just because I don’t own a car doesn’t mean I can’t contribute to that conversation.

        1. mark132*

          I am a male, but I have a wife and three daughters, and I have shared who my wife’s ob/gyn was with female and male coworkers (for their SO). The practice he was a member of was excellent in my opinion and my wife’s opinion. I wasn’t even slightly embarrassed in sharing it.

    5. Mark132*

      I agree, in an open cube plan in particular there isn’t truly a private conversation. The environment in fact is designed to facilitate open dialog and collaboration. If its truly private take it elsewhere.

      1. Lynn Whitehat*

        But “when is the Walrus report due?” isn’t a private question. The problem is that he’s giving a wrong answer he pulled out of his butt.

        1. mark132*

          Good point, that is a problem. And should be addressed by the LW/OP. I just don’t think in an open cube plan there is any expectation of a private conversation.

  7. Not Australian*

    With regard to #2, if you’re a guest in someone else’s office space and they’re offering you refreshments it can actually seem churlish to decline. I know it’s a cost of doing business and there must be gallons of coffee thrown away after meetings, but my feeling is that if they’ve gone to the trouble of making it available they’re expecting at least some people to take them up on it. It may be a different cultural norm – I’m in the UK, and pretty much of the previous generation – but for *everyone* to decline just seems rude to me. I would say you could accept without feeling guilty, as a politeness to your hosts.

    1. Eira*

      I’m also in the UK and this sounds very strange to me. Why on earth would I accept a drink I have no interest in, you know, drinking? Whether I accept (and then don’t drink it) or decline, it’s getting wasted just the same.

      And if saying a polite no to an offer of a drink makes someone judge me as rude, they’re the one with the problem.

    2. Ruth (UK)*

      I think if refreshments have been put out in some way and are already present (eg. Mugs on the table, an urn of water, biscuits etc) then it’s quite nice/polite to have something unless you really strongly don’t/can’t for some reason, as someone’s already gone to the trouble of providing and setting it out. However of the offer is for someone to go and make you tea/coffee (eg. They’d have to go into a kitchen or another room, boil the kettle etc) then you should only accept of you actually want the drink.

      Personally I often say yes to water but only accept a hot drink of other people have.

      Meanwhile from the other side, I’m often the person who is in fact making the drinks and/or setting up the provision of drinks for meetings etc and I do not feel strongly about it whether people decline or accept and have never really analysed whether I consider them to be rude for either choice.

      1. Marion Ravenwood*

        I still think in the context of things being already put out it’s on the senior person to go first, for risk of looking greedy if you (the junior person) just charge in and take stuff. The exception might be if you offer to pour the senior person’s drink, although I’m aware that could look a bit smarmy.

        I agree this may be more of a UK thing, but I also think it’s more about the offer and not looking stingy rather than whether or not people accept. Personally it wouldn’t bother me if anyone said yes or no, but I’d hate for people to think poorly of me because I didn’t offer them a drink when they visited my office (or my home).

      2. Zoe Karvounopsina*

        In the UK, and my boss will usually ask me, or someone else not in but adjacent to, the meeting to come in and see if anyone wants drinks.

        (Admittedly, on one occasion she phrased it as “Zoe, do your hostess with the mostest act,” which put me right off. And then I got the milk no sugar turned around into sugar no milk.)

      3. SLR*

        I actually get upset at guests who accept water but don’t drink it. Those that say yes but don’t actually drink any, tells me they have issues with saying no. It’s small & an in passing judgement. But it’s there.
        My favorite thing so far has been offering guests coffee, tea, water or soda & they ask for a macchiato or some shit. Did I offer that? No? That’s bc I have coffee, tea, water, juice or soda. I’ve had many guests of junior level do this, thinking it makes them look fancy. It does not. It makes them look like they don’t listen & are entitled.

        1. Penny Lane*

          Wow, SLR. Someone accepts water and winds up not being thirsty? How about if they only drink some of it but don’t finish the cup or glass? It doesn’t remotely say what you think it does. It just means they weren’t as thirsty as they thought.

          1. SLR*

            Wow Penny Lane. Considering it’s my opinion, I can think it shows whatever I want to. As stated below, I understand the idea of not thinking being as thirsty as originally thought. I do not understand the idea of saying yes just to say yes.

            1. Come On Eileen*

              How can you tell the difference? From the outside, I accepted your offer of water and took a few sips. How do you know who said “yes just to say yes” and who didn’t?

        2. Julia*

          Hm, with water, I guess the thought process is, you’re offering and they might get thirsty while talking or when the meeting is long, but they end up don’t needing it?

          The other thing is not cool though, I agree.

          1. SLR*

            Yeah I get that, I do. Most people tend to take an obligatory sip or two to show appreciation. It’s the ones that asked for a glass of water (we have a filtered chiller) with ice & are specific “not too much ice!” and then don’t drink it. I just think it’s wasteful. Please I don’t think less of you if you decline, or even if you come out of the meeting to ask me later should you change your mind! Hate to use the cliche, but there are communities (thousands of them!) in the US alone without clean drinking water. If you don’t want a beverage, please say so, it’s fine, but please don’t waste my water either!

        3. Naptime Enthusiast*

          I don’t think I could get the judgmental look off my face if I heard that.

          (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻

        4. notanon*

          I had a coworker OFFER to make an espresso for a guest, then come and ask me to how do it when they accepted. We don’t have an espresso machine.

          1. KitKat*

            I was kinda that person once. My boss had made a bunch of cookies and I had a meeting with a client and offered her one. She took the whole bag! And I felt too awkward to say anything. The office never let me live down the time I gave away all our cookies.

        5. Antilles*

          For the first point, what do you define as “not drinking the water”? If it’s not touching it at all, then I guess I can see a very minor annoyance with the fact that you went to go grab it and they didn’t even bother touching the glass. But if someone has a few sips here and there during the conversation, they’ll probably end up leaving the glass mostly full and I think that should be perfectly acceptable – a full 8 oz glass of water is actually quite a lot if it’s just a short 30-60 minute conversation!
          As for the second thing, that’s just awful. If someone offers you a list of drinks, you pick from that list; end of story. The *only* exception is if they don’t mention water, because that’s universally available in a host/guest setting.

        6. Sunshine on a Cloudy Day*

          Oh hahaha – bringing back flashbacks to a previous job where I was the beverage offerer. Bottled/canned beverages were set out with glasses and ice, then I had a keurig in a nearby kitchen. I always said the same thing “Please help yourself to the beverages in the corner. Would anyone like any coffee or tea?”. If anyone asked for any fancy Starbucks type drink they got internal side-eye from me. I’d explain that’s not an option, then if they still wanted a regular coffee they got the type of kuerig pod that I personally thought tasted the worst. The others got the kuerig pods of coffee that I though was the best tasting (I had a couple of different varieties of pod types to choose from). It was my own petty revenge.

        7. Kate 2*

          Me too. I went to the trouble of fetching the water, now at the end of the meeting I have to pour it out and throw away the paper cup, not great for the environment that.

        8. Totally Minnie*

          I live in A Hot Place, so if I offer some one a bottle of water and they don’t drink it while they’re with me, then at least they’ve got some water to drink while they’re out and about so they won’t get heat exhaustion.

    3. Bagpuss*

      I’m also in the UK and this seems odd to me – it sounds as though you are seeing it as a social, rather than business, interaction. (and to be honest, it feels slightly odd even in a social setting, to suggest that declining would be rude, unless the purpose of the meet up was to have food or drinks)

    4. Seriously?*

      I was in one meeting where they were oddly pushy about Snapple. None of us really wanted it but they literally pushed a bottle into everyones hands and said we could drink it later.

      1. Environmental Compliance*

        I have been forcibly offered Pepsi in a can. I don’t like most sodas in cans (they taste oddly metallic to me for some reason), and I just don’t really drink Pepsi or Coke. I started with a No Thank You and had to escalate it to No, Please, I Won’t Ever Drink It. It still ended up being put in front of me *and opened for me*!

        Thankfully my boss at that time loved Pepsi, so she switched her empty can with mine and drank mine too, otherwise who know what they would have said when I left a full can of Pepsi on the table.

  8. ChaoticGood*

    #1: Alison’s advice is great as usual. But I don’t know if it goes far enough.

    Interrupting people, saying nonsense taboo things – I feel like I know this Josh person, because I feel like I was like him earlier in life. I may be wrong about all of the following, but – !

    Deeply insecure people sometimes respond to every question so that they can get the minor thrill of being right (or at least having answered first.) People who crave attention and don’t get it in their personal life (or never got it as a child and are making up for it now) say things that are taboo or likely to get a rise. Gynecologist? Yeah we’re in personal-life-problems territory here.

    I think Josh might not respond unless you really do address this head on, make it clear with carefully chosen words and stern tone that he is deeply out of line. You can’t be the first person in his life to tell him to tone it down. If it were me, I might circle in my boss, letting them know that it’s interruptive to my work – at the very least, you could ask to be moved away from Josh, just to make sure your work goes smoothly. That’s a legit ask and it might bolster your support for this issue while getting the word out that this Josh guy has some changes to undergo.

    If he asks you again what gynecologist you have, ask him what therapist HE has. Sometimes people only back down when they know they can’t get away with it without consequences. Or they know that they’re up against a drill sergeant who won’t take their sh*t anymore.

    Good luck.

    1. Mookie*

      Deeply insecure people sometimes respond to every question so that they can get the minor thrill of being right (or at least having answered first.)

      Ugh. I know that feeling (more like an uncomfortable, self-defeating compulsion) well. :/

      1. Polyhymnia O'Keefe*

        My husband and I see a lot of theatre (and are theatre professionals), and somehow always end up sitting near someone who talks to the people near them during a play. Or a movie. We’ve had a lot of nights out tainted (not ruined, but definitely less enjoyable) by people who don’t understand performance etiquette.

        We discovered a few years ago that our local mystery theatre company was the worst for inappropriate comments from audience members, because too many people have the compulsion to tell their companions once they figured out the twist. There’s something far too compelling about letting everyone else know exactly when you figured it out.

        1. Mystery Bookworm*

          I will admit to understanding that impulse. To be clear – I resist (and I don’t talk at the theatre, ugh), but when I suspect a big juicy twist is coming up I have this urge to get it *on the record* before it’s confirmed.

          I think this is an odd combination of love of the genre, pride, and definitely a bit of wanting to impress.

          There is some genuine excitement in there though. I love a good twist and it makes me excited to debate and think about (I’m like the opposite of Roy in the IT Crowd). Lucky for everyone else, I know to only subject my partner to these conversations….

          1. Anon for this*

            Am I your partner? My SO is the worst with spoilers and talking during movies. It comes out of an endearing (IMO) excitement for how cool the twist is…but seriously it’s gotta stop!

          2. Polyhymnia O'Keefe*

            I totally understand the instinct. My version of it is to try to pinpoint after the show where it was that I figured it out. Then again, we debrief every single show we see and discuss it in minute detail. Theatre just isn’t as much fun if you don’t analyze it afterward. But never during the show.

        2. Bagpuss*

          I understand the urge, but it is definitely one to be resisted in public, during a performance. Save the conversation for the interval, or after the show!

        3. Falling Diphthong*

          I saw Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon sitting in front of someone who insisted on telling his companions that the actors were using wires. They weren’t really running up the sides of buildings! He could tell! And everyone sitting near him in the theater deserved to have the concept explained.

          1. EvilQueenRegina*

            I saw the final Harry Potter movie when sat behind some kids who had gone with their grandpa. Grandpa had NO knowledge of anything from Harry Potter before seeing that, and I had to listen to the kids explaining lots of the plot.

        4. Oxford Coma*

          My only Broadway experience involved the person next to me singing along to “Think of Me” and her croaking smoker’s voice was no Christine Daaé. I never went back–that trip was too expensive to put up with that BS.

          (Now I’d tell her to STFU, but back then I was a young country mouse overwhelmed by NYC.)

          1. Keep Your Eyes On The Prize*

            I was at the theatre last week and the woman next to me exclaimed every song title as soon as the singer began to sing and then she would sing along with the first line. It was very annoying.

        5. peachie*

          UGH. People definitely forget that stage actors are in the room and can hear you. (Not that it’s appropriate to talk in a movie theater, either, but it’s an extra layer of rude.)

    2. Lady Blerd*

      I have a minion who is a Josh (minus the making up deadlines thing) and I think you’ve just given me an insight in the way she thinks. I usually just do what Alison says and have learned to just accept her as she is but does get annoying. For example, if someone comes to me for info about a position on the other side of the country and she goes off on a tangent about how desirable said posting is which is absolutely what he needs to know. But I think you are right, it’s probably from some insecurity.

      1. Lil Fidget*

        Or she’s lonely. Some people aren’t getting their social quota filled in a quiet office and are just eager to interact.

        1. Jennifer Thneed*

          This. I’ve been working from home full-time for awhile and it’s causing me to become *extra* chatty when I’m around people.

    3. The Other Dawn*

      “Alison’s advice is great as usual. But I don’t know if it goes far enough.”

      I was thinking the same thing. If pointing out the interruptions in the moment and/or having a private conversation with the guy doesn’t work, then I think it’s reasonable to talk to the boss since they share the same one.

    4. Lora*

      I feel liked I dated this Josh person. Is his last name Murphy?

      One day I LOST IT and told him I was fed up with the nonsense debates and discussions and he explained that he really enjoyed debating with me because I was so smart, and we should have a debate every day even if there was nothing to debate about, such as should penguins work at McDonalds because they are so cute! I just stared at him and basically stopped talking to him after that because….yeah.

      He didn’t go away with his inane commentary despite getting zero response above a terse, “yes, what do you want, no, bye” until a large scary male friend told him to Go Away.

      1. Pollygrammer*

        The people who just can’t fathom that them enjoying something ≠ you enjoying the same thing are absolutely maddening.

      2. Lynn Whitehat*

        I have a Josh in my office. Once he heard me talking with a co-worker about something he (Josh) doesn’t even work on, and butted in to demand a full explanation of what we were doing and why. I gave the one-sentence explanation of what we were up to, and he demanded every detail. I said, “Josh! You don’t even work on this project! So my interest in explaining it to you is limited.” He backed off. One good thing about these guys is they’re used to being told to stuff a sock in it.

    5. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      “Deeply insecure people sometimes respond to every question so that they can get the minor thrill of being right (or at least having answered first.) People who crave attention and don’t get it in their personal life (or never got it as a child and are making up for it now) say things that are taboo or likely to get a rise.”

      I think this applies so much to letter #3 as well!

  9. The Other Katie*

    OP#3, you could just leave the group and not say anything, or you could unfollow it if you want to nominally remain a member. Facebook doesn’t make it very easy to tell who’s a member of a group.

    1. 2horseygirls*

      “Oops, darn Facebook algorithims! I have been so busy with Fergus, I have not been on FB much, and I must have been removed.”

      FWIW, many FB admins struggle with “lurkers” who do not contribute. I admin a few groups, and have stated that my MO when I get added is to “lurk and learn” before jumping right in with commentary, and it seemed to back them off the ledge – for the moment.

      I think many times, FB offers a platform for thise who might not have one IRL, and they simply foeget their manners.

    2. Nasturtium*

      Yes, I’m a little puzzled why the poster hasn’t just left the group. They aren’t obligated to belong to it, or to read it, just because someone thought they might find it useful.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Same here. I was surprised she hadn’t left the group, and also surprised that Alison didn’t suggest it. Why bother being subjected to all that negativity? Just leave the group. Out of sight, out of mind.

        1. Keep Your Eyes On The Prize*

          I’m in a group like that. Lots of chaff but the wheat can be very useful.

      2. Laura H*

        Yes one can always leave, but there’s probably a useful post that pops up on ocassion that pushes an inclination to stay.

        I just tend to avoid the comments- and express my…. vitriol… more verbally in the safety of my home if I think something is so overwhelmingly wrong. Also, the hide, snooze, and unfollow features are my online manners’ best tools.

        1. Parenthetically*

          “Yes one can always leave, but there’s probably a useful post that pops up on ocassion that pushes an inclination to stay.”

          YES, this is such a hard dynamic! I gave up social media for Lent this year and it broke me of the “but what if I miss something useful” thing pretty thoroughly. For me, info-seeking can become a really unhealthy, compulsive coping mechanism for my anxiety — I wonder if LW3 is in a similar place.

      3. Yorick*

        I kind of assumed she did leave it but was still wondering about the field and the person who recommended it.

        1. Kate*

          I assumed she had already left too since she didn’t ask what to do about the group but whether she should mention how she felt about it to her friend. I’m wondering about the friend too. Like, does she think it’s a good support group because she agrees that women should get right back to work after having children? If that was the case, I’d be a lot more tentative about talking to her about the group.

        2. OP3*

          Yeah, I’ve muted the group (still technically a member in case the networking aspect is something I ever need). But when you’re added to a group it starts showing up in your news feed before you know you’re a part of it. So during one of my first night feeding marathons, when I’d had 8 hours of sleep all week and broke down crying over the stress of making oatmeal, the first post I saw opening Facebook was a complaint about moms on maternity leave not answering emails fast enough. So it really hit me hard at first seeing that attitude when I was vulnerable. It does make me question my friend a bit but I’d be really surprised if she agreed with the harsher posts.

    3. paul*


      It’s tacky to add someone to a group without asking, but it’s a facebook group. Particularly if it’s a large one and you’re not active, the odds are good no one will notice if you leave.

      As I prepare to move I’ve been leaving all the local groups I’m a member of and unfollowing the pages of a lot of agencies we work with–not once has anyone said anything, IRL or via PM. I feel like you’re really overthinking this.

      1. The Other Katie*

        Honestly, it’s very rare to notice someone’s actually left a group. I moderate a relatively large Facebook group, and it took us nearly three weeks to notice one of the other moderators left!

    4. MCMonkeyBean*

      The question is whether they should let the person who added them know how much the group put them off the field so that they reconsider adding other people to it in the future.

    1. 2horseygirls*

      “Why do you ask?”

      He may have a girlfriend (bless her heart) whonis looking for a new doc.

      Otherwise, it may be enough to make him pajse and realize he does not need to be a part of every conversation.

      Today’s interrupter = tomorrow’s micromanager

    2. Angelinha*

      Equally confusing to me was that either OP1 or Josh seems to think a gynecologist is a pediatrician? (“He has no children.”)

      1. Ms. Pear*

        I think OP was assuming that since Josh is a guy, he wouldn’t have a reason to know about gynecologists unless he’d had children with his wife/girlfriend and accompanied her to appointments/the birth.

        1. Zaphod Beeblebrox*

          I’ve got no children, but I’ve got a fair idea what a gynecologist is / does.

          1. Yorick*

            Yeah, you know what they are, but would you feel like you could contribute to a conversation about them?

      2. Oxford Coma*

        OBGYN. Most people who have a child had them when they were being gestated and born.

      3. Falling Diphthong*

        He might have been able to offer an opinion on local gynecologists if he had accompanied the mother of his children to her obstetric appointments. Like a woman whose husband had needed a prostate specialist might have more knowledge about local docs than a random person of any gender who hadn’t ever needed one.

        1. paul*

          I accompanied my wife to some of her appointments during her pregnancies; pretty sure I couldn’t really give much of an opinion on the guy though, since it wasn’t my insides he was all up in. She seemed OK with him, that’s what mattered.

          I just read it as tongue in cheek on OPs part but if not, ew.

      4. Far more anon than usual*

        Or maybe they’re somewhere like Canada, where women get their routine gyno care done by a family practice doc/NP and don’t usually see gynecologists unless they’re pregnant.

    3. The Other Dawn*

      Yeah, I was a bit confused by OP’s mention of the gynecologist. I’m missing the context. I don’t think it matters whether he has children or not. Maybe he has a wife or girlfriend, or even his mom, who is looking for a new gyno and wants a recommendation.

      1. Penny Lane*

        It was evident that if it had been a situation of “hey – my mom / girlfriend / sister is looking for an ob-gyn, do you have a recommendation?” that would have come out in the OP’s discussion. It was evident from the context that it was NOT such a situation and the guy was inserting himself in conversations where he had nothing to contribute / offer.

        1. RUKiddingMe*

          Yes it is very apparent that he thinks his opinion, on everything apparently, even women specific medical issues/doctors is importnat…or matters at all.

      2. drove my chevy to the levee*

        His mom does not want a recommendation from her son for a gyno.

  10. Ceiswyn*


    I have been a tech writer, and I have hired tech writers. Yes, bring your version of your resume and hand it out. Your resume is the first example of your actual work that interviewers will see, so you want them to get the right impression from it. Technical writing isn’t a profession where you can have a poor CV but good skills; your CV IS your skills.

    But honestly, for that reason I would also consider just not sending my CV to recruiters in a format that they can edit. If they manage to mess up your CV, that can make you look like a poor writer to prospective employers, in which case you may not get to a stage where you can correct the impression!

    Sometimes this is something you can successfully push back on, and sometimes it isn’t, but it’s always worth trying. The good recruiters, the ones who are most likely to find you a good authoring post, will at least appreciate the issue. And if a recruiter really doesn’t see why you have a problem with them editing the first example of your skills that a prospective employer will see, that’s a red flag.

    1. BK*

      I’m a new to tech writing, in it because of my English skills (not my native language) and my interest in all things tech, especially those that are shiny and new and cutting edge. But until 6 months ago I never even knew technical writers existed (not that I thought they didn’t, just never thought about it). It’s so cool to run into it here! On the topic of CVs… I spent ages on mine! The content, the layout, the graphic design are just the way I want them to be, and I believe they show more about ME than just the plain text would. So dear recruiters, please don’t touch it, it’s in PDF for a reason. If, as Alison says, they want to take out my contact info, they can tell me and I will remove it. If they insisted they do it, I’d probably let them, but in my head would write off that job completely.

        1. BK*

          Yes, of course. What I meant was that it’s in PDF so that it looks the same to everyone, and I don’t have to worry about a hiring manager using Word 97 or something.

    2. Tech Writers Represent!*


      My thoughts exactly. My resume is a work sample with styles for consistency. I teach a Word class and I’ve seen so many people who think they know Word but really don’t. I don’t trust just any recruiter with a work sample, which is what my resume is.

    3. A.D. Kay*

      Hear, hear! I fight with recruiters all the time when the want to “improve” my resume by dumping it into their painfully bad company format.

  11. Belle8bete*

    I am a full time dance teacher/choreographer. The teaching fb groups can be very stupid. However I cannot imagine letting them make me doubt doing the work I do. Groups like that are perfect for people to fuss/complain/Argue.

    My question: do you feel Like your day today interactions with people in every day life reflect these groups? Because if they don’t I would on join that group, not say anything about it, and pretend you never saw it. I really would not use a group like that as an indication of how people will treat you or think of you in the workplace. I know that sounds weird, and I have lost respect watching some professionals tear down other people they personally know on Facebook over things like politics… But in this situation you should just stop being a part of those groups. If this individual has been helpful to you, then the group doesn’t take that away.

    It doesn’t sound like this is her group—does she post there often? Does she jump into nasty, inappropriate bash fests?

    Unless there is more to it than what was stated, step away and don’t worry about it!

    1. Mad Baggins*

      This! I was in a women’s group and I swear the level of nastiness, judgment, and willful misunderstanding of others’ intents/comments was beyond anything I’ve seen in real life. I’d hate for OP to make career decisions based on a poorly moderated FB group.

  12. FD*

    #3- It might help you to remember that online groups in general need active moderation to avoid becoming a s***show. That goes doubly for anything that people have strong feelings about–and parenting certainly qualifies! It seems like this online community is pretty polite, and it is, but Alison also helps to moderate that and bans people if needed (plus since she’s been doing that since the beginning, people who are allowed to comment tend to reinforce the message).

    But if this Facebook group is also run by working parents, especially ones with young kids, finding the time to moderate is probably not the highest priority.

  13. Marion Ravenwood*

    OP #1, I have to admit that I am probably the ‘Josh’ in my office – whilst I wouldn’t interrupt a colleague in a conversation *that* personal, I do sometimes interject when colleagues are talking about something a bit less formal (eg going to see a particular film). I’m sure they hate me for it, but for me it comes from a place of wanting to be involved and liked, especially as I’m relatively new to my team. So Josh may be doing this in a misguided way to try and join in more.

    Whilst I agree that you do need to have a word with him about interrupting and about the work-related conversations, I would also look at perhaps trying to get him more involved socially (if you want to and he seems willing). Engage him in conversations about less personal issues, or involve him in team social activities. Of course it might be you’ve tried those things already and he’s not interested, in which case I’d go with Alison’s approach.

    1. misspiggy*

      That’s great advice for when/if Josh stops his bad behaviour, but not before. He needs to show he can be a safe member of a group before people make particular efforts to include him socially. At the moment his behaviour is harmful to OP.

      1. NaoNao*

        I think they’re referring to the incorrect deadline assertion, which if the OP or anyone else believes, could be a whiff/miss in the work environment.

    2. MLB*

      I wouldn’t think they hate you for it, although sometimes I felt like I was back in high school when I worked in a larger office. I commented above that I always told my teams that if they were speaking loud enough for me to hear, to expect me to interject if I had something to add. I had no issue with others doing the same. I know not everyone will have the same opinion as me, but I wouldn’t assume they hate it.

    3. Pollygrammer*

      There are delicate ways to feel out whether you might be wanted or not in a conversation. Interject a comment without getting up and fully joining. Say “oh, I’ve wanted to see that movie!” and leave it at that. If they respond to you with more than a couple words and/or with some enthusiasm, it’s probably a safe bet to assume you won’t annoy them if they join. And ask more questions than you give opinions, that also helps.

  14. Detective Amy Santiago*

    Oh LW #3… online mommy groups are The Worst. I’d just quietly leave the group. Or at the very least, unfollow and turn off notifications so that it’s not so in your face.

    Any other former booj members found their way to AAM?

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        I had a feeling you were since we discovered our friend in common.

    1. Friday*

      You know, I actually discovered an online mother’s group that is AMAZING. Believe me, I was shocked. But I’m so glad I’m in the group because they post on a diverse array of topics, everything is respectful, and there’s a lot of humor.

      I’ve been a part of bad mom groups too (babycenter, OY) so finding a group that gets it right is truly something special. I’d encourage OP to leave that crappy group and also be open to finding a real group that fits her better. They’re out there.

  15. Llama Grooming Coordinator*

    Actually…LW1, you should be direct with Josh in social conversation as well! Maybe it’s my baggage that I bring in, but he reads as genuinely oblivious to a lot of social cues. Be kind to him (at first), but let him know that this is Not Cool.

    (The disclaimer is that Josh is a man and LW1 is presumably female bodied. So there’s a lot of baggage on that end and probably a bit of sexism as well. But the way LW1 described his interactions does sound a little bit like Asperger’s. Obviously, I’m not a doctor, I’m just a jerk on the internet – and I’m not trying to excuse his bad behavior because he can’t help it, because he can to some degree.)

    1. Specialk9*

      Yeah I find it helpful to pretend that someone is Israeli or has some condition that makes them unable to intuit unvoiced social norms. It tends to calm down my irritation, and remind me to use my plain words, nicely. Sometimes plain direct words are incredibly effective.

      1. Llama Grooming Coordinator*

        I’m slightly ashamed that I actually understand what you meant. (One of my friends moved from the US to Israel last year. I think when he first moved there, he described the Israelis he knew as…kind of like Drax from Guardians of the Galaxy – very direct and unsubtle.) It’s still rather awkward to say, though, since it stereotypes an entire country.

        But to be serious about it, I kind of feel almost as bad for Josh as I do for LW. I know a couple of Joshes (and…okay, I can be a Josh myself if I’m not careful) and have worked with Joshes (It’s part of what my company does), and they’re exasperating to deal with at times. But they’re also so clueless that they don’t get why it’s inappropriate to ask their coworker who their gyno is without being invited into that conversation! That must be really bewildering on their end!

  16. Serious Sam*

    OP4: In some fields it has been known for recruiters to embellish the resume, especially if it is a field where few candidates have the specific skills listed in the job posting. There have been reports of recruiters going as far as to add skills that the candidate emphatically does not have. Having a few copies of your original document can help to clarify the skills that you are actually claiming to have. Obviously it will also help any interviewers who have not brought a copy with them for whatever reason.

    1. Gazebo Slayer*

      Yeah, I’ve had recruiters add BS to my resume without asking me. I explained to them firmly that I’ve been (falsely) accused of lying on my resume in the past and it was a humiliating experience I have no desire to repeat, so what they’re doing is only making me look dishonest.

    2. Dragoning*

      I had a recruiter fight with me to change the title of the job I held to one more fitting the job she was submitting me for. It took me like twenty minutes to (hopefully) talk her out of it.

    3. Sunshine on a Cloudy Day*

      Ugghhh – yeah I’ve had that happen to me. I could see the resume on the table that the recuiter provided to the interviewer and noticed that it looked different (they almost always strip out the contact info and replace with their log0, but I noticed that the body was formatted differently so I looked more closely. I didn’t bother to bring it up because I knew by that point the job wasn’t a fit (and it didn’t come up directly in the interview), but refused to work with that recruiter going forward.

      That said – I have had very good recruiters offer some tips/rewordings/suggestions that I then incorporated myself (or could have rejected). That has always been greatly appreciated!

    4. I Did Not Type That*

      I was in an interview once and the interviewer asked me about multiple typos in my resume. Apparently the recruiter had re-typed my entire resume and not run it through a spell-check.

  17. Liz*

    Re the advice to OP #5, I feel like the last line is not that non committal and it would make me feel the hiring manager was excited to see my resume. I know we are not supposed to read into things said in the hiring process but still, i would take it that way.

    “But if there’s not a quick and easy explanation you can give, it’s also fine to just say something non-commital like, “If you think the match might be right, I’d be glad to take a look at your application (I’m the hiring manager for this job).”

    1. Whitewater Rapids*

      My thought exactly… the usage of the word “glad” prevents the sentence from being non-committal.

      1. Lisa Babs*

        I see that as just standard pleasantries. I mean even if it gave the idea in the applicant’s head that the OP was excited, it still wasn’t committing anything other than the OP will look at it. It is committing to look at it but not moving forward to the application. I read it as the OP is glad to have more applicants in the pool.

        I mean glad in a different context could definitely give the wrong impression. such as: “Hi Jane, It’s OP from OldCompany. I am now with NewCompany. I’m so glad you contacted me…” Now that would give the wrong impression.

        BUT Alison’s script isn’t even acknowledging the OP knows or remembers the applicant. Just a standard I’ll look at your application. So anything that is read between the lines I feel is not the OPs fault and I can’t see causing any problems for the OP in the future.

        1. Pollygrammer*

          I agree, but an alternative would be “I can certainly take a look at your application.”

          1. Sara*

            I think suggesting you will look at the application can give false hope as it’s someone you know, especially when the OP knows they aren’t interested. Perhaps a simple, “if you’d like to apply you can do so here” would work. Since the applicant was asking for info on the role, I don’t think it’s necessary to offer to look at the application, but rather just direct them to them standard process.

  18. V*

    So… is it sexist of me to think that if female colleagues feel the need to discuss gynaecologists during office chat, i.e. when I’m forced to hear it, I should be able to join in? (Not that I would.) Isn’t the opposite also discrimination? Wasn’t this left behind in the fifties along with women not getting to discuss sports?

    I’d think of this in the same vein as people sharing medical (horror) stories at work to which one of the possible, if passive-aggressive, responses is to outweird people in an attempt to make them stop the TMI train.

    1. Anononon*

      First off, not wanting cis guys to interrupt talks about gynecologists is not discrimination.

      Second, I think your second paragraph shows just why you don’t understand the situation. More often than not, talk about gynecologists between women isn’t a gross out situation. Rather, it’s simply trying to get recommendations for a new doctor. I’ve had that conversation at work before. It’s no big deal, and it’s seen the same as asking about new dentists.

      1. Fair play*

        Like women have never opined on guys’ doctors? Or tried to pick out clothes for men because they have “a woman’s touch”?

        1. fposte*

          For their cubemates? I think that’s pretty unusual. Still, if they’re diving into a conversation that doesn’t include them to make clothing or medical recommendations, they should dial it back, same as Josh should.

        2. Environmental Compliance*

          The fact that it is a problem either way does not make one side less of a problem than the other. I would never jump into a conversation about an oncologist recommendation, as I have no experience with that. I would also expect someone to not jump into a conversation where I’m looking into switching large animal vets if they have nothing to add to the conversation. Similarly, therefore, I would be surprised to have a man jump into a conversation about gynecologists UNLESS they had actual information to offer, not just the want to be in an conversation around them.

          (As a side note, I did once have a male coworker very gently butt into a conversation about gynecologists because him and his wife had a great experience with one when they were trying to start a family, which is what the woman was looking into. That information was welcome and was very useful, and the guy asked if he could add to the discussion, which is a key difference as well – be the person that politely asks to add relevant information, not the ass who jumps right in with incorrect/irrelevant/misleading information.)

          (Also, I find it incredibly icky when someone decides a man needs a “woman’s touch”. That’s gross and shouldn’t be happening either.)

        3. Jessie the First (or second)*

          I’ve never once jumped over to my coworker’s office and started telling him what proctologist he should see. Is that a thing you run into often, your coworkers running over to talk to you about your proctologist and what shirt you should wear instead?

          I’ve worked in lots of offices and never seen that happen. I guess this is a big issue for you and you see it happen at work, in which case you should consider that perhaps you work in BizarroLand. Interrupting conversations that your coworkers are having so that you can interject comments and opinions on topics you don’t actually know anything about is, in fact, rude and generally not appropriate.

          But tell me more about your whataboutism here, because that’s SUPER helpful.

        4. Kelly L.*

          I can’t recall ever trying to pick out any of my co-workers’ clothes or doctors. My partner, sure, but my co-workers?

    2. Myrin*

      I didn’t read this in any way (neither in the original letter, Alison’s response, or any comments up-to-date) as men “not getting to” talk about gynaecologists. It’s about having a conversation on a personal topic with someone and another person butting in, regardless of anyone’s gender or the specific topic (I assume the OP chose this specific example to show just how personal we’re talking here).

      I can maybe see someone inserting themselves into such a conversation if it’s very clear that the people you’re hearing don’t seem to be coming to any kind of conclusion and you actually do have an answer/solution/idea for them but even then, meh, depends on the topic and relationship. (And FWIW, I think OP actually acknowledges that – her “He has no children” probably refers to any kind of knowledge he could have regarding gynaecologists, either via the mother of his children or his female teenaged-and-older children.)

      (I also don’t think sports vs. gynaecology is a very sound comparison, btw. Urologist seems to be the much more logical choice, if anything.)

      1. Washi*

        I think a sports analogy might be one coworker asking another if they’ve found a good softball pickup team to join, and another coworker jumping in even though they don’t even play softball or know anything about the topic.

        If OP and her colleagues were all constantly discussing gynos, going out for excursions to visit gynos, basing their opinions about competence and likability based on how well someone knows the local gynos, that might have a discriminatory effect. But talking about something every once in a while that isn’t relevant to Josh is not!

      2. Seriously?*

        Honestly though, they shouldn’t be having personal conversations in the open office if they are going to be upset if someone else comments. The best thing to do if focus on the work issue, which might even end up fixing the problem. Giving wrong information about a project he isn’t even involved in should definitely stop is a very legitimate issue. Not wanting him to join in casual chit-chat sounds clicky.

        1. Myrin*

          It seems like we might be having a fundamentally different understanding of what kind of “privacy” one can expect in an environment such as an open office plan. To me, it’s entirely reasonable to expect to not have any random coworker jump in as soon as they hear words leaving my mouth; I’d say that’s a pretty widely known-and-adhered-to rule of any kind of open environment and it’s reasonable to be annoyed by someone breaking that rule. (On the other hand, I agree that one shouldn’t have super-secret-only-uttered-in-confidence-must-never-be-communicated-outside-the-two-of-us conversations in an open office and then be surprised when others hear about it. But that’s not what’s happening here.)

          1. Pollygrammer*

            I’m also surprised that so many people feel that conversations in open offices must be either 1) completely nonexistent or 2) always include them. This is a strange and impractical attitude to have.

        2. Observer*

          Well, actually, the OP quite clearly *IS* trying to focus on the business end of this problem.

          But, I also think that it’s not reasonable to expect people never to have a conversation because some idiot is going to jump in with total irrelevancies or ignorance. As others noted, if he actually came up with some genuine information about gyno’s that would be one thing. But here he is clearly inserting himself into a conversation where he totally has nothing to add.

      3. V*

        To be clear I’m aware my comment was largely tangential to the question the OP asked.

        I also know the comparison is forced, I made it mainly because in the “good old days” it was largely true. I considered comparing it to a urologist but, well, I can’t think of any man who’d ever discuss that in an office…

    3. Deus Cee*

      OP#3, I would definitely say something to your friend. Depending on how well you know her, I’d tailor the amount of feedback you give – “nope, this group really isn’t for me, thanks!” to “people in this group come across this way, and I’m concerned about it, not just for me but for other new moms”. And leave the group, you don’t need an echo chamber like that judging on you. My friend, who’d had two before my first, tried to sell me on The Unmumsy Mum, but I found it utterly remote and unusable. It’s okay! We all try to raise our kids the best way we can, so do what works for you.

    4. Rat in the Sugar*

      It’s not really about men not being “allowed” to talk about gynos, it’s just that this was a private conversation and since he presumably doesn’t have any personal experience there was even less reason to join in.

      It would be very reasonable for him to tell OP that her convo was distracting him from work and ask her to take it down the hall if he wasn’t comfortable hearing about it–see the OP from yesterday morning’s letter and Alison’s advice on dealing with unwanted chit-chat near you at work.

    5. BuffaLove*

      Sharing recommendations for a gynecologist isn’t necessarily TMI for a casual workplace conversation. It’s not like you need to discuss your lady parts in great detail to share why a doctor is great.

    6. nnn*

      Imagine your colleagues are discussing buying a new car, and you don’t drive.

      Imagine your colleagues are discussing which daycare they should send their kids to, and you don’t have kids.

      Imagine your senior colleagues are discussing retirement planning, and you’re a 21-year-old new grad.

      Imagine your colleagues are discussing cricket, and you think (but aren’t absolutely certain) that cricket might be a sport.

      Sexism doesn’t even come into play – it’s simply a question of not barging in and hijacking conversations with “ME ME ME ME ME!!!!!” when you have nothing to contribute on the topic.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        +1000 this is the problem, not OP excluding Josh from an “old girls’ club” or something like that.

      2. Lora*


        Holy moly it is 100% possible to sit and listen quietly if you do not have anything useful to say or enough work to do!

        Does Josh have a partner who adores her gyno, whose recommendation he can share? Does he have a brilliant college roommate who went on to medical school and is now a fully qualified ACOG member with a glorious track record specializing in (whatever)? No? Then he can shush.

        It comes across exactly like an eight year old yapping “MOMMY MOMMY MOMMY MOMMY MOMMY guess what I farted” while you’re on the phone with the bank about the mortgage payment. Like, you are trying to have a serious fking conversation with a fellow adult about important things and you’re just gritting your teeth reminding yourself that Spanking Is Wrong. This is not the feeling you want to evoke from colleagues, that you are an eight year old who needs a timeout.

        OP, I would just jump in and correct Josh in the moment when it comes to work things. I really think that’s your best bet. Maybe eventually he will be tired of being told that he is wrong, maybe people will stop asking him because they’ll realize he’s wrong all the time, but in any case social graces don’t seem to be working and don’t seem to be his thing.

        1. Specialk9*

          My 2 year old did the equivalent of this today. My husband was telling about something cool he read, so my kid started yelling out a long word salad that made no sense. He just didn’t want to be excluded from the talking thing. d: oh kiddo, so soon!

          1. Lora*

            One of my very dear friends has a son who does this. She has tried everything, including taking parenting classes, to teach the kid to shush while grownups talk, to no avail; watching movies at her house, when he has been explicitly and loudly forbidden from speaking about non-emergencies for two hours due to his compulsion to shout spoilers, is an exercise in frustration. He’s just getting the hang of Quiet now at age 13 because he doesn’t want to be uncool around his friends. You have a long row to hoe ahead of you…

        2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          Like, you are trying to have a serious fking conversation with a fellow adult about important things and you’re just gritting your teeth reminding yourself that Spanking Is Wrong.

          This will help me get through so many workplace interactions! Thank you for this comment!

      3. Lindsay J*

        But none of those instances mean that you can’t possibly have any knowledge of the situation.

        Some examples I would find perfectly acceptable:

        “My sister has a Jetta, and she’s had nothing but trouble with the electronics in it. She’s had to take it to the mechanic to deal with issues with the automatic window mechanism a bunch of times.”

        “My best friend brings her kid to Little Tots Sunny School and loves it. Her son adores the teacher there, and she said it was reasonably priced compared to other options in the area.”

        Nothing says a 21 year old new grad can’t have good information on financial planning for seniors. I’m sure there are people close to that age that are employed doing exactly that. Or maybe they’re very involved with managing the finances of their parents or grandparents.

        Yeah, the cricket one you should stay out of, unless it’s a casual conversation, you actually might be interested in cricket, and they seem open to teaching you about it. “Hey, I love baseball. Is cricket anything like it? Do you know a good resource for learning the rules and the major teams?”

        Similarly, I don’t see the overstep in, “My wife went to Dr. Omar once, and didn’t like him at all. She sees Dr. Ortiz now, and much prefers her. She says she has a much better bedside manner, and actually listens to her complaints and tries to solve them rather than brushing things off.”

        There’s a world of difference between that and these, IMO inappropriate inputs.

        “OMG you should get a Corvette. They look so amazing and are the best cars ever.”

        Or, “I saw a commercial for ‘The Learning Center’ and all the kids on there looked super happy and it’s endorsed by John Elway. You have to take your kids there!”

        “Go all in on Micron. It’s going to the moon.”

        “OMG gross I hate bugs. One time I went down into my basement and saw a cricket. It was one of those giant ugly ones. Someone told me that they’re called cave crickets I think. Anyway, I went to step on it and I missed, and…”

        “If I were a woman I’d never let a man look at my lady-parts.”

        1. LBK*

          Right, if you have something meaningful to contribute to the conversation then have at it, and understand when it’s time for you to back out if all you have to add is hearsay. But it sounds like this guy is jumping in whether he has anything valuable to contribute or not, simply for the sake of being a part of the conversation.

    7. Katniss*

      The existence of gynocologists and the fact that some people visit them is not TMI. Would you object if they were talking about what dentist to go to?

      1. Snark*

        Exactly. The fact that it involves one set of organs as opposed to another is not germane. If you can’t handle two people discussing recommendations for a specialist in your earshot without getting uncomfortable, well, that’s an opportunity for you to grow as a person, my man.

    8. Temperance*

      Um, yes, it’s weird and sexist, and not comparable at all to expecting women not to discuss sports? Besides the fact that plenty of women enjoy sports, and sports are not solely men’s domain, watching the Philadelphia Eagles is not comparable in any way, shape, or form to a doctor who specializes in women’s health. Cis men don’t need a well woman exam.

      1. Snark*

        And it would still be rude if, or when, someone without the first clue about sports weighed in going “Oh, big sportsball game eh” or “the Broncos game is next Wednesday” or whatever.

      2. LBK*

        Right, the issue with them being cut out of those conversations is that it’s based in sexist presumptions that women don’t/can’t know as much about sports or enjoy them as much as a man when women have just as much ability to appreciate sports as men. It’s not like ESPN has some kind of gender filter on it and women just see static when they try to watch it. And there is still an absurd amount of gatekeeping that ends to happen when a woman tries to talk about sports.

        On the flipside, someone who’s never had the anatomy to require a gyno can only ever repeat what they’ve heard from others. That doesn’t entirely preclude them from taking part in conversations if, say, their wife has really raved about hers, but you’re never going to really understand the experience. Your contributions should be limited. To keep with the sports analogy, it would be like telling a professional basketball player you understand what it’s like to be in the NBA because you watch SportsCenter every day. I mean…do you, really?

        1. Specialk9*

          “It’s not like ESPN has some kind of gender filter on it and women just see static when they try to watch it.”

          Snerk. “Oh man, did you see that?” “See what?”

    9. Parenthetically*

      “Isn’t the opposite also discrimination?”

      Really really no.

      “So… is it sexist of me to think that if female colleagues feel the need to discuss gynaecologists during office chat, i.e. when I’m forced to hear it, I should be able to join in?”

      Yes. You don’t get to punish women for daring to ask for a recommendation for a doctor by mansplaining their gyno to them.

    10. Snark*

      It’s not sexist of you to feel that way, it’s just ridiculous and more than slightly self-absorbed to think that hearing a conversation entitles or obligates you to pushily join in if you don’t have anything to add or can only add incorrect detail.

      1. Specialk9*

        I dunno, I think that feeling of male entitlement is actually sexist, as is the underlying resentment of the ‘preferred treatment’ of a group that in reality faces routine discrimination.

        (Although I also think there’s a good chance this person is shit-stirring.)

      2. JustaTech*

        Exactly. When my coworkers talk about sports or Game of Thrones I may or may not listen, but I don’t try and add to a conversation on topics I not only don’t know anything about, but also don’t care about.

    11. Kyrielle*

      I don’t think it’s sexist. I also don’t think a cis guy joining in is relevant, since presumably he’s never had a gynecologist, unless he’s talking about his wife or girlfriend’s doctor.

      “My wife really likes Dr. So’n’So” is one thing, but just chatting about gynecologists in general when you’ve never needed one is…odd.

      It would be just as odd if I jumped in on a colleague’s discussion of, say, who would be best to see for a foot surgery – because I’ve never needed that either.

    12. Jessie the First (or second)*

      V, are you arguing that if Person A and Person B are having a conversation, and it is on a topic that Person C doesn’t know much or anything about, that it is discrimination to say that it is rude for Person C to jump in?
      That is a really, REALLY outlier view of “discrimination.”

      The chances that you have something useful to contribute to the conversation are pretty low, assuming you’ve never had a speculum inside you, because unless you are trans you actually cannot physically have a speculum inside your vagina. If you think that is similar to the idea that “person C shouldn’t talk about sports because women don’t know about sports” then I don’t know what to tell you.

      1. Pollygrammer*

        On a smaller scale, a coworker and I were talking about coffee (both of us are coffee aficionados, like to try new brands, grind our own beans, etc) and a Josh-type coworker who doesn’t like coffee jumped in. To…talk at length about how much she doesn’t drink coffee.

        1. SophieK*


          That reminds me of the time a coworker and I were discussing hair bands (as in Metal) and the resident Church Lady jumped in to say “oh, no, don’t call them THAT!” We explained to her that *that’s what they’re called* and she started to cry because…we were mean? For correcting her when she barged into a conversation she wasn’t invited to in the first place?

          Fun times with that one. She performed the most spectacular “quit in a huff” I’ve ever witnessed.

          1. Specialk9*

            Whoa. That’s… whoa. Imagine the walking-on-eggshells her immediate family likely goes through.

            1. Specialk9*

              Also, I thought you meant metal hairbands, ie something to hold one’s hair off one’s face. I realized you meant metal rock bands, the musicians who flip hair around. :)

      2. V*

        I’m not really arguing anything. I’m also not really talking about the OP’s question but rather about a more theoretical situation. But when I see some of the reactions to this particular case of butting in, including Alison’s “WTF”, I wonder how much of that is because he’s forcing his way into a private conversation (held in public…) and how much of it is because the coworker is a man and therefore not allowed to discuss that particular subject.

        Your second paragraph is a rather perfect example of the issue I take with this attitude towards gender dynamics. I don’t care to have a discussion on this topic but why should I not be allowed to just because I’m a man? That _is_ the exact same reasoning that men used to exclude women from sports conversations over _decades_ ago. But evidently this opposite discrimination is in fact still here?

        I suspect that if I were to interrupt a TMI conversation in an open-plan office about this particular topic I’d be labelled sexist by quite a few people here: how dare I be offended by this completely normal topic! But dentists aren’t TMI for me. Proctologists and gynos are. As are quite a few other medical topics. But for some reason this particular topic gets people riled up.

    13. Decima Dewey*

      The female colleagues weren’t necessarily talking about gynecologists. All we know is that Josh chimed in with the comment “What gynecologist do you use?”

      Forget the gynecologist comment for a moment. There are conversations in every office that don’t need a particular coworker’s involvement. I travel by public transit. If someone is asking where to catch the 38 bus, I can tell them. If someone is asking about how often the Parking Authority tickets people on Wallace Street, I don’t get involved. Likewise, if someone is asking about when a specific report is due, and it’s not something I work on, I don’t get involved.

      1. Kelly L.*

        This is something I had to teach myself! If the thing I’m about to interject with is “I don’t know,” there’s no need for me to interject!

      2. Mad Baggins*

        This! I saw an Amazon review that said “I purchased this as a present for someone so I don’t know how good it is.” Why are you leaving a review then if you don’t know anything about the product?? Not everything requires your hot take!

  19. RG*

    OP #4, I know that in law, recruiters would almost always send me a copy of the excited resume they are submitting on my behalf beforehand, so I could agree that it was fine. Is that an option here?

  20. Oxford Coma*

    LW #4 I had several bad experiences with shady recruiters, so I am super biased about the resume-changing issue. I got so fed up with their “corrections” that introduced errors and falsehoods that I switched my resume to a password-protected PDF. All contact info is in a header they can easily block out without affecting the rest of the document. Most of them fill that space with their agency logo.

    YMMV on that sort of move, since I’m at a place in my career and specialty that I can be picky about applications.

  21. Jenny*

    Related to #4, I recently connected with a recruiter who said they couldn’t submit me for any jobs unless I rewrote my resume to include the months I worked each job as well as the year I graduated. Is this common when working with recruiters or did I just get a bad apple?

    1. Liane*

      It’s best to do dates as Month xx so the hiring manager doesn’t wonder how long you were really there and whether you’re trying to hide job hunting. For example, 2015 – 2017 could be anywhere from 13 – 24 months, while Jan. 2015 – Oct. 2017 is 22 months.
      Graduation date, either with or without. I know a lot of people feel including that may lead to bias based on presumed age, young or old.

      1. Judy (since 2010)*

        Except I’ve had a recruiter say that when I’d been at one company 7 years and another 13 years when I was looking. And they helpfully reformatted my resume. So that everything was normal text with font changes, rather than the styles I set up so that it would be easier to modify the look. (I had it set up with styles for company name, date, etc)

    2. Irene Adler*

      Those requests seem picayune. Might ask why they need such minor details given the resume is supposed to show your skills and experience. Other than ferreting out someone who is older, how will these details enhance your resume?
      I’m over 40 and leave off those details. And I’ve had recruiters inquire solely on the dates of employment- including the months. And then they go radio silent. So we know where their head is at.

      Not sure how to circumvent such folks. But if you can find another recruiter to work with, suggest doing so.

      1. Jenny*

        Exactly. If I thought those details would enhance my resume, they would be on there. If the hiring manager isn’t interested enough to interview me based on what’s there, the months I worked at each job and my approximate age aren’t going to sway the results.

      2. Interviewer*

        If the recruiter sees “2016-2017” on a resume, they don’t think, “Oh good, that’s 2 years.” They think, “Great, that could be 3-4 months.” It’s a huge difference. Maybe the company only wants to see people with a minimum of X years of experience, and it’s hard to tell without the months exactly how much you have. So the recruiter asks for months in order to confirm that you have enough experience to present you as a candidate.

        1. Irene Adler*

          True. But then the recruiter should explain the reasoning – as you have- for this request. Simply saying he won’t submit the resume without indicating the month for each employment stint leaves a lot of room for speculation- too exacting for no reason, ascertain precise time at a job when it spans a 2 year range.

    3. Sunshine on a Cloudy Day*

      I wouldn’t say the requests themselves are necessarily “bad apple” indicating. The months thing definitely seems like a fairly common “norm”. Including the year of graduation seems less clear cut – but it could be an industry thing (I can maybe, if I squint, imagine that year of graduation might be more relevant in certain fast changing fields) or just something that the recruiter has noticed as a personal pet peeve from many of the hiring managers that they work with.

      However – I do think demanding these changes and threatening not to work with you if you don’t make them is a red flag. I’ve had recruiters make suggestions regarding my resume, and generally found them to be very helpful/relevant. A good recruiter wants to represent you accurately though (b/c they know in the long run that’s far better than trying to “bait and switch” potential recurring clients)

  22. Colin*

    Regarding recruiters reformatting your resume, considering how much genuinely awful talent management software is out there chewing up your resume anyway, I can guarantee you no one has ever seen the original version unless you hand it to them.

    1. LiveAndLetDie*

      A lot of talent management software still allows you to upload a .pdf version of your resume the way you crafted it, and trust me, some people do see it — I see every one submitted to my postings. It matters.

  23. Fabulous*

    #4, I’ve had the same experience. I generally always bring copies of my resume to interviews and it’s definitely been beneficial when I notice the interviewer is holding something that looks nothing like my original document. They’ve always been appreciative for the “corrected” version that doesn’t look like a 5-year-old put it together… :/

    Note, I’m not saying all recruiters remove formatting, etc. to make it seem like a 5-year-old created it, just that in my particular case, the “resume” the interviewers were provided for me was absolutely terrible. I can’t even begin to understand what that particular recruiter was thinking.

    To counter this, I had also taken to asking the recruiter if I could just remove my contact information and send them an updated version with the redacted info. That worked out well also.

  24. Nobody Here By That Name*

    OP 1: I feel you. There’s a guy at my office who also chimes in on everything. We haven’t had his opinion on OB/Gyns yet, but he has stepped in to opine on breast feeding to a co-worker who had done it twice already. Also he once replied on my behalf when my boss asked me how my weekend was.

    1. Specialk9*

      Oh no no no no. Any chance you can get away with one of those jokes that aren’t jokes?

      1. Nobody Here By That Name*

        I’ve tried that. I’ve also tried flat-out interrupting him when he talks over me in meetings to say I’m the expert on whatever topic I’m speaking about (in comparison to him, anyway). He still doesn’t get it. My co-workers and I have ended up dealing with it by making bets about what he’ll act like an expert on next. Funnily enough we guessed something related to female anatomy not long before the breast feeding conversation.

        1. Specialk9*

          Oh wow. Well good for you for holding that appropriate boundary. Sounds like people know what’s going on, and he’s the one looking bad.

  25. Mom MD*

    Just remove yourself from the group. If asked, say the group wasn’t right for you and you want to keep work and social media separate.

  26. Lily in NYC*

    Re: accepting beverages. Slightly tangential, but I am reminded of the job-seeking advice to always accept the offer of a beverage at your interview because there’s a theory that accepting a “favor” makes one more well-liked. It’s based off an old legend about Benjamin Franklin that is complete bullsh!t. Considering that it’s generally an admin and not your interviewer that offers the drink, it doesn’t really make sense (nor do I believe the theory that asking for a favor makes one more likable).

    1. Specialk9*

      I just was talking about this anecdote. I hadn’t seen that it was fake (do you have a source?) but the theory makes sense to me. Not asking for a favor like a coffee, but requesting a rare book actually would seem to push some subliminal psychological buttons towards liking someone a bit more.

  27. LiveAndLetDie*

    OP4, I would be livid if someone started “tweaking” my resume. I do the hard work of making it represent me, my work, and my skills (not to mention making sure it’s clean and devoid of errors), I can only imagine some ham-handed recruiter destroying it and the resulting document giving the wrong impression. I would definitely take a copy of your own version with you and provide it.

    Also, I cannot understand why that is acceptable practice in recruiting circles. I would accept “can I give you some feedback on your resume?” but I would NOT, under any circumstance, be okay with someone editing my resume and sending off their version of it without my approval!

    1. Specialk9*

      To be fair, lots of people suck at resumes. I often have to correct spelling and formatting issues.

  28. Manager-at-Large*

    One aside on coffee / tea / water – if you accept, clean up your trash if it is a throw-away cup or bottle. It leaves a bad impression if you leave trash on a meeting table or in someone’s office. At least look for a trash can on your way out, or silently ask (e.g. raised eyebrow and gesture with cup) an admin or junior on staff what to do with it.

  29. Dust Bunny*

    LW3: Tetragenarian FB user here–it’s generally considered bad form to add people to groups without asking them first. If she did this, then that was overstepping to begin with. But just leave the group–there will be a box to check when you leave that prevents people from adding you back.

    1. EB*

      Yep! Came here to say this. Depending on how old LW is it might seem rude to do that but it’s really not. Half the time the person has invited every person they know on their friend list that they think might like the group without giving it much thought at all.

  30. What's with today, today?*

    OP1: We have one of these people at our work. She butts in, or asks questions about every conversation she encounters. In fact, I’m currently doing a call in radio show, and she just came in to the closed studio, put both hands on my shoulders, looked over my shoulder, and tried to answer questions from my caller. Did I mention we are LIVE on the radio, and she’s in sales, not on air? It’s maddening, but she doesn’t change when she is called out. Her standard lines are “Well, I need to know!” Or “I need to be involved in this!” Or “I have a right to be in the know!” Boss doesn’t stop it either.

  31. drpuma*

    OP4, one question for you – does the URL go to a neutral resource that holds your samples, a la Dropbox, or does it go to your personal website with a “contact” link? If the URL goes to your personal website, the recruiter could be omitting it for the same reason they delete your contact info. If this is happening frequently or you often get work through recruiters, it may be worth putting your samples on a 3rd party host or asking your favorite recruiter if there is something else you should be doing differently.

  32. Breadwinner Mom*

    I was added to a Facebook group for moms in my industry by a work friend and, after having the same experience, I quit the group and never mentioned it to my friend. I’m sure she wouldn’t take personally my choice to be active or not in whatever social media thing, and it’s honestly none of her business. I suppose I’d mention that I left if she asked, possibly with the “oy vey, Facebook mom groups, amirite?” response since everyone knows they are a mixed bag. I think this could be hairier if it were someone in a mentor capacity and she were very active in the group herself? But assuming your connection isn’t in jeopardy over quitting the group I’d just quit and never mention it.

  33. Astrid*

    LW#2 – I immediately thought of the scene in the Japanese movie Tampopo where everyone defers to the boss when ordering their dinner but the junior level guy stands by ordering exactly what he wants.

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