how confidential are job searches, I’m the office nail trimmer, and more

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

1. How confidential are job searches?

My question is about job searching when you’re already employed. Considering people are well connected to each other in many industries, how confidential are job searches, really? I’ve been applying and get the feeling that my employer knows! I’m suddenly offered a promotion and given several other perks/recognition unrelated to the promotion. Do contacts give each other a heads-up?

If they’re ethical, no. Job searches are generally understood to be confidential, and thoughtful people understand that they could jeopardize your current job by revealing to your employer that you’re job searching.

That said, certainly not everyone is thoughtful or ethical, and it is possible that someone could share the information with a contact, without realizing or caring about the position they’re putting you in. (PSA to hiring managers: This is terrible behavior! Do not do this, even if you’re sure your contact will handle the information well. It’s not your info to share, and you’re abusing the trust that you’re asking applicants to place in you!)

2. My boss overshares her personal life to an uncomfortable degree

I recently started a new temp job. The office is small and disorganized, but it’s mostly a fine work environment. Except that my supervisor is a wild oversharer. I’m also an oversharer, so when I say she goes too far even for me? It means something. She shares things with me I won’t repeat here, both because of the sheer amount of private detail she gave me and because some of it could easily be triggering. These are things she should be seeing a therapist about, or at the least talking with a close friend.

Not with the temp.

It started on my first day and as it was my first day and the power dynamics between temporary employee and supervisor are such that I have … not very much, I just sat there and made sympathetic noises. I’m not alone with her often, so it took a couple weeks for it to happen again. But it did. And I made some more sympathetic noises and reminded myself the job would be over in a few weeks.

I don’t know if she does this with other employees, or just me. For whatever reason, it’s not uncommon for strangers to open up to me about their life stories and problems. Normally I don’t mind, but I’m at work and the detail she goes into has been frankly inappropriate.

This job only goes to the end of the month. It might never happen again, and then I’ll be gone. Other than this, she’s kind and and supportive, and has given me projects designed to help me learn new skills for my resume as she knows I’m seeking permanent employment. She also, frankly, is going through a VERY rough time. (Trust me. I know all about it.)

Since I’m not here much longer, I don’t know if it’s worth it to talk to her about the behavior or to go to someone else about it, though please tell me if you think I should. I’ve never had problems in a workplace and am pretty unfamiliar with the appropriate steps for different issues. As a Step One, could you suggest possible escape routes if I get caught being her therapist again?

If you weren’t about to leave, you might need to find a more direct approach, but since you’ve just got a couple more weeks, I think you can exempt yourself from having to have a very awkward conversation about this and instead just look for ways to extract yourself if it happens again. For starters, I’d find reasons to physically exit the conversation when it takes such a personal turn — for example, excuse yourself to go to the bathroom or get something to drink. Or, if your job involves phone work, you suddenly have some calls to make. Or, if you can say it credibly, you can try, “Wow, that sounds really tough. I’m sorry you’re going through it. Well, I better get back to these reports — I want to make sure I meet the deadline.” Or even, “That’s awful — I’m so sorry! Hey, while I have you, can I ask you about (work question)?” That last one might sound a little callous, but really, what she’s doing is not appropriate, given that the power dynamics make you a captive audience, and it’s okay to steer her back to where she should be.

3. I’m the office nail trimmer

I have a compulsive habit regarding my fingernails and cuticles. I’ve had this habit since a very young age. It started as nail chewing, but thankfully I kicked that habit in early middle school. Keeping them painted was useful, even though painted nails are really not my thing. For the past 10+ years, the compulsion has manifested in picking at the skin surrounding my fingernails.

I’m working on killing this skin-picking habit, but it’s been about 20 years in the making and I hardly ever realize I’m doing it, so it’s not easy. Because of this, I’ve started using a cuticle clipper (looks just like a normal nail clipper, but the edges are curved differently) to satisfy this urge in a way that’s safer and tidier for my fingers, and it seems to be helping me be more aware of when the compulsion strikes, since I have to reach for a tool instead of mindlessly fidgeting. The problem is that now when I feel the need to do this at work, it’s way more obvious than when it had just looked like I was fidgeting.

I have my own office with a door that closes, so I always do that, but the outer wall and the door to my office are glass. I am conscientious of trying to put the clippers away when I hear someone coming by (the glass isn’t terribly soundproof), but occasionally I’ll miss it. I worry I’m grossing people out, but don’t want to go back to picking with my hands. What say you?

The fact that you have an office with a door is hugely helpful here, even though the door is glass. Being seen occasionally clipping a nail in your office with the door closed isn’t a huge deal. If they see you in there doing it all the time, yes, it’s going to look odd, but if you’re mostly stopping when you see through the glass that someone’s approaching, you’re probably fine.

4. My boss is requiring me to greet him

At work we are under some tight deadlines. I was unfortunately called away for a week. While I could not come in to work during the day, I decided to come in to the office to pick something up to help me do work at home. I was tired, didn’t want to talk with anyone, and was hoping to get in and out without any conversation if possible. However, my boss noticed me and while on my way out called me into his office. He told me that as the boss he expects me to say hello to him. Not that it would be nice, but it’s expected. I can understand exchanging pleasantries in the morning out of politeness. But to require it of your subordinates seems excessive. In the case above, I just wanted to get in and out. On other days if I am there first and busy with projects I don’t necessarily want to stop what I am in the middle of just to give a required hello.

I know to some, this may seem rude or petty, or some may even view it as not being a team player. However, I find it irritating to stop my train of thought and interrupt my work flow to exchange pleasantries. I know I’m not the only one who feels that way. Anyway, the question I have is, can my boss really REQUIRE me to say hello to him?

Sure. He can also require you to wear only blue or to sing him a lullaby as a condition of keeping your job if he wants to. All of those things would make him an ass and a ridiculous person, but employers can set any conditions of employment they want as long as they’re not explicitly illegal (for example, as long as they’re not rooted in discrimination based on race, sex, religion, disability, or other protected class, or as long as they don’t subject you to sexual harassment, etc.).

Your boss is being A Bit Precious by requiring you to greet him, but it’s a minor enough thing that you’re better off just greeting him, while internally rolling your eyes that he’s requiring this.

5. Should I send a cover letter even if a job posting doesn’t ask for one?

I was reading the job description for an internship. It ended with “please send your resume to Firstname Lastname at” There was no mention of a cover letter or other documents to send. It did not say to not send a cover letter either. I was wondering if I should add a cover letter with my resume in those circumstances. Some advice I saw said that if they do not explicitly say to not send one, I should send a cover letter even if it’s not requested, to stand out as a candidate. Other advice said to not add the cover letter, as it might look like I cannot follow instructions and that the recruiter or hiring manager would have asked for a cover letter if they wanted one.

I opted to send my resume with a very short paragraph in the body of the email with the main points I usually underline in my cover letters that are not apparent from my resume alone. I would like to know what you think would have been the best thing to do.

Unless they specifically say not to send a cover letter, send a cover letter. Lots of hiring managers read and are influenced by cover letters, but whatever job posting system their company is using neglects to ask for one. It’s a very rare hiring manager who will penalize someone for including an unsolicited cover letter, since they’re such a standard part of a job application. It’s not like you’re sending a poem or a link to a future performance review you’ve written for yourself, which would indeed be odd and a turn-off. You’re just including a normal part of an application.

{ 396 comments… read them below }

  1. Sami*

    OP#3: I do the same thing. For me, my dermatillomania is rooted in anxiety. I find playing with a spinning ring or a small piece of silly putty helps keeps my hands busy.

    1. AdminX2*

      Buy a fidget box!! Transferring the anxious compulsion to another space is usually a lot easier than any other option.

      1. Amber T*

        I honestly love my fidget cube. I will say (as someone with my own office and door as well, like OP), the sounds are pretty loud. I’m not sure if I just got a cheaply made one or if many of them are like that, but if sound is a concern because your walls aren’t sound proof (or if you’re in an open/shared space), try to find a quiet one if they exist (and please let me know if they do exist… mine is so loud it annoys me sometimes, and I’m the one using it!).

      2. EddieSherbert*

        I also vouch for the fidget box! But some of the sides are quite loud – The joystick and spinning ball are basically silent, but everything else makes some kind of noise. I’m in a cube farm, so I try to be considerate. So far I’ve only had people wanting to try it :)

    2. Alli525*

      Same here as well! I’m not quite to the level of dermatillomania, thankfully, but I’m a (non-clinically) compulsive fidgeter, and I keep a hair tie or rubber band on my person at all times. I also play with pens or twirl the lever of my nail clipper (which I only use in the bathroom) or a hair clip or whatever, but I definitely prefer hair ties. I haven’t bitten my nails in almost a decade and I’m very proud of my progress.

      1. Larval_doctor*

        I have a latex allergy, but I can’t resist fidgeting with rubber bands and then end up with rashes on my wrists. Some collaborators of mine in a space that I go to about once a week switched their entire purchasing over to latex-free rubber bands entirely so that I can fidget with them. That’s true-workplace-love.

    3. Annie Moose*

      Same here. I go in cycles where it gets better and worse, and having something to occupy my hands is the best method I’ve found for keeping me from picking when I just really really want to. (she said as she messed with her cuticles…)

      But LW’s strategy seems like a really good idea; I’ve tried it before but now work in an open office so I can’t really do it anymore.

    4. FidgetFingers*

      Hey, OP here! I’m big on fidget toys, but my office is formal enough that I can’t have them with me at all times. I do have a fidget box on the table in my office and visitors love to play with it :)

      1. Rachel*

        What about a paper clip? Easy to keep in your pocket and a normal thing to see in an office.

      2. KimberlyR*

        I have a fidget cube but I actually play around with a binder clip most often. Try out normal office supplies to see if anything helps you.

      3. Specialk9*

        I don’t have that condition, but I am a well known fiddler. I play with my rings. There are rings shaped like cogs/gears that I’ve long had an eye on. I got some rings with movable elements and play with them.

        There are also fidget pens with a little roller ball on the side and a little (hopefully quiet) switch and some things that turn. Or ones with turning bits and magnetic bits and bendy bits. Look up “fidget pen” on Amazon.

        1. Persimmons*

          Fidget jewelry is discreet and satisfying. I’ve heard good first-hand reviews of products from StimTastic . co for both adults and children.

          The chewable jewelry isn’t really great for adults, but the fidget jewelry can be searched by weight (heavier items being more satisfying for some folks on the spectrum) and they also have aromatherapy jewelry.

          1. FidgetFingers*

            OP3 here! I just ordered some jewelry and toys to keep in my blazer pocket from StimTastic. Wow, it’s so affordable!! Thank you for this great recc.

        2. Pebbles*

          I have a puzzle ring that I picked up at a Renaissance festival. It’s only 6 bands interwoven together, but I can take it apart and put it back together when I feel fidgety. It’s similar to the one in the link in my name.

          1. Stormfeather*

            Aahhh I had one of those that I loved, but lost somehow. Also got it at a REN Faire (MD I think, though PA is possible)

        3. JB (not in Houston)*

          I recently acquired a fidget ring from Etsy, and it has made so much difference for me.

      4. Secretary*

        When I was breaking my nail biting habit (at 25 years old!) I would get really figidity and was doing stuff to my nails all the time as well as chew gum or have hard candy all day. I just told people what was going on and they understood. A lot of people were really excited for me and were like “whatever you need to do guurl”

      5. Videogame Lurker*

        Spinning a pen/cil is a fidget I developed to keep my fingers out of my mouth (recovering nail biter, with a mild case of keeping the underside of my nails clean), and no one would think spinning (full spin or the “flicking” half spin) a pen or pencil would be terribly put of place.

        Maybe some under-nail brushes?

        In any case, if you want to change/break the habit altogether, otherwise I think AAM is on the point better.

      6. Specialk9*

        Not to ask a dumb question, but can you just turn around your chair (and maybe turn on some music) when you have to clip?

    5. FCJ*

      Cuticle pickers unite! Sometimes mine is more connected to weather and humidity than stress (I’ve had an awful week, and barely touched my cuticles! I’m actually pretty proud of myself). Sometimes I’ve found that having a little tube of cuticle moisturizer at work helps–rubbing it into your fingers satisfies the fidgeting urge, and generally people are less likely to be grossed out by someone putting lotion on their hands than someone peeling their skin off.

      1. Astor*

        Yes, same! I keep one or two different types of cuticle cream on my desk (as well as hand-lotion) so that I can reach for that as soon as I catch myself.

        Good luck, FidgetFingers! Like you, I found that cuticle nippers made a big difference. More recently, I’ve also started using a super little glass nail file is perfect for filing down the skin around my nails. I find the nippers are better for skin that’s already ripping, and the glass files are better for flatter but jagged areas.

        I have hated nail files my whole life but the glass ones feel completely different to me than the metal or emery do. I’ll also share that my personal experience matches the internet reviews that say that the glass nail files made in China wear down faster than the ones in the Czech Republic. I do still occasionally slip back into old habits, but these new habits make it much easier to recover quickly.

      2. Stitch*

        Cuticle cream was vital for me – though I’ve tried dozens and only one has truly been a help (it claims to “soften and soothe”, which is exactly what I need. I think it’s predominately the shea but it works, so I don’t question it). The rest seem to just coat the skin and do nothing to fight the urge, so I end up ingesting the cream. :(

        +1 to glass nail files, too, or at least high-quality emory boards (the only ones I’ve ever liked are from a boutique nail polish company). Any amount of roughness gets me to bite, so a smooth nail and soft skin are vital. (I’ve also noticed that I bite when dehydrated, when I have to pee, and when I’ve been sitting too long. So on top of nail care, if I feel the urge, I’ll take a bathroom break.)

        Crazy how complicated this all is. I’m still mad at my grandad who once said “You’re a smart girl, you can stop biting your nails” as if mind over body was all it took. As if I haven’t been piecemealing together a solution for years.

    6. Jamie*

      Just wanted to add: my Pandora bracelet works great as fidget jewelry! I spin and fiddle with the various charms on the bracelet. Plus, it is just regular jewelry and always available.

    7. PersonalJeebus*

      I am also a compulsive skin picker, and I’ve been doing it since age 9, so more than 2 decades. I also try to use tools like cuticle trimmers to make my picking less damaging or messy. I know the OP didn’t ask for advice on reducing the habit, but I want to mention the one and only thing that has really helped me cut down on it is recording each occurrence. If I commit to writing down every time I pick, I find I do it less just because it becomes inconvenient to have to write it down every time (although at first it did help me start to recognize triggers!). I put a journaling app on my phone, and I tap a very short note that includes the intensity of the picking on a scale of 10 to 10, where I was/what I was doing, and how I was feeling/what I was thinking at the time. (“7. At my desk, feeling bored/trying to figure out a response to an email/worrying about something at home.”)

  2. Engineer Girl*

    #3 – while Alison’s advice is good for the symptoms, I’m not sure it addresses the real issue.
    It seems like you have a compulsion to keep your nails clean and to fidget. Have you discussed this with a doctor?
    The reason I raise this is because it’s beginning to affect your life and cause you worry. It may help to find the root cause behind the fidgeting.

    1. FidgetFingers*

      It’s a valid suggestion. I have certainly considered it, but haven’t made any moves to actually discuss it with a professional. I’ll bring it up at my next appointment, thanks!

      1. Theo*

        Definitely do! I have dermatillomania and my doctor (once I caved and asked) was able to recommend support groups for me. Therapy is also an option; CBD is supposed to be pretty effective, though honestly I’ve had better luck treating it kind of like an addiction. I was also pretty open with my coworkers, and I think they feel better knowing that it’s a thing I’m aware of and can’t help, but am treating. YMMV there, tho.

        (For anyone who doesn’t know, dermatillomania/trichotillomania/other Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors are INCREDIBLY hard to treat and require an enormous amount of effort; they’re not quite OCD, not quite an addiction, and they’re not self-injury. What works for one person often fails thoroughly for another; I destroy fidget toys because I’m so rough on them, and they don’t even help that much!)

        1. Slow Gin Lizz*

          I have trichotillomania and also am compulsive like FidgetFingers about cutting my cuticles. The cuticle stuff I don’t see as much of a problem because it’s easy to be discreet about it, but the hair…I’m really tired of pulling out/playing with my hair, and it’s hard to hide. At home I can knit, when I’m typing at work I’m fine, but as soon as I am not typing but reading, hands go to hair. Silly putty doesn’t help much and I don’t think the fidget toys/jewelry would help either. FF, I think you can go about dealing with your cuticles the way you have been, I don’t think it’s something to worry about. CBT didn’t help me much with the hair thing either. I don’t think it’s anxiety, it’s just that my hands get bored.

  3. nutella fitzgerald*

    Aaaaarghhh from the heading I thought letter #3 was going to be from someone responsible for trimming the fingernails of everyone in the office now I will have so many nightmares tonight

    1. Zip Silver*

      What a perk that’d be!

      “Ok [New Hire], this is the break room where the coffee and snacks and such are kept, we also have an on site fitness center, a small nap room, and Johnson over in accounting does pedicures during lunch breaks.”

    2. SoSo*

      Thank god I wasn’t the only one who thought that! And honestly, I wouldn’t have been surprised if that was the case given some of the weird letters around here…

    3. Goya de la Mancha*

      Me too!

      Though it’s a sad statement of humanity (or maybe just this site) that thinking that was a legit thing is an option…somewhere.a

    4. Amber T*

      I will say, an on-site manicurist/pedicurist (other than a completely separate business located nearby) is not a perk I’ve seen anywhere.

      1. Specialk9*

        I have seen at work pedicures!!! It struck me as so weird.

        My company offered it as a self-paid convenience. In… a glassed conference room, right off of a main corridor, so everyone walking in and out could see you doing something a) personal, b) not work while at work, c) female coded, and d) something many people find frivolous. So in short, awesome for one’s career.

        I was so confused about the smell too, wouldn’t it smell terrible? Nail salon usually do.

        We also offer seated chair massages, which would also be problematic if someone could walk by and see you doing at work (though not gender coded), but those are offered in a discreet closed conf room in a dead end part of a rarely used corridor.

  4. Anonymous Lady*

    #4 – My boss once made a point of talking loudly about how grumpy I was to anyone who would listen because once when he said “Good Morning”, I didn’t say it back. When he had said it, I had just looked up and smiled and then went about my work. Apparently I was “in a bad mood”.

    He gets weird about anything he thinks isn’t “due respect”.

    1. (Different) Rebecca, PhD*

      I was so tired and out of it I answered a friend’s “how are you” greeting with “thank you” yesterday. Your boss has not SEEN a bad day if you just looked up and smiled…

      *fistbump of not a morning person solidarity*

    2. sheworkshardforthemoney*

      An old workplace was always super busy dealing with clients but anytime you encountered the manager, you were expected to pause your work and greet him. In another job the boss half seriously suggested that everyone stand whenever he came into the room.

      1. EPLawyer*

        If I were a client and was interrupted so you could greet your boss, I would think long and hard about continuing with the business. No manager, your precious feelings are not more important than serving clients.

        I was in a grocery store once checking out and the manager came up to talk to the cashier about the schedule. The cashier STOPPED ringing me up to talk to the manager. I actually interrupted the conversation to say this could wait until the cashier was done helping me. The manager tried to argue with me. I had to literally tell this person that the customer came first, unless it was an emergency.

        1. Bea*

          I would have walked away at the point the manager argued with me. They can think about the importance of customer service while putting everything back. The nerve.

        2. Johan*

          Yeah but if the manager tried to argue with the customer about this, I think it’s understandable why the cashier stopped assisting you and gave full attention to the manager. That cashier absolutely would have paid the price otherwise and clearly knew it.

          1. Artemesia*

            In the same vein, I once had lunch at a restaurant where probably due to someone not showing they were very short staffed and the harried waitress was having trouble keeping the lunch rush served. People were on work breaks and impatient and she was trying to get it done. The frigging manager of the place was in a booth having lunch with a friend. Sort of the definition of leadership fail; if there was every a time the manager should have hopped to and made sure the business was getting done this was it.

            1. ZK*

              Oh. Been there done that. During college I waited tables at a busy local cafe. We were having our usual breakfast rush and it was just me and the hostess due to call outs. I was running my tail off, owner walked in and sat down at the only empty table (that the hostess had just cleared for a customer!) and wanted me to actually take her order when I had multiple tables to get to and a line of people waiting to be seated. I held it together until the next shift came in, grabbed my tips, apologized to my customers, letting them know the other waitstaff would take care of them because I was done (many of whom actually handed me a tip right then) and walked out, along with the hostess. I split my tips with her that day, because she was freaking awesome and just as annoyed at the owner as I was.

              Owner called multiple times that evening trying to talk me into coming back, but I was in my last few days anyway, and so over her. Last I heard she’d sold the restaurant and opened a little pie shop that went bust in the first year.

        3. all aboard the anon train*

          In that situation, I blame the manager and not the cashier. Having had managers like that when I worked retail, I would have rather annoyed the customer momentarily than lose my job.

    3. Julie in Ohio*

      This may be a local culture thing as well. As a transplanted midwesterner to North Carolina, I got a talking-to about being short-tempered with people. I didn’t understand, so the boss explained that when we had a conversation, I answered the question and moved on. To me, that was a good thing. To her and the rest of the locals, I was seen as being rude for not doing the usual softening conversation around said question and answer. It was quite an eye-opener.

      1. MatKnifeNinja*

        I don’t know what part of the midwest you are from, but where I live in Michigan, being held hostage after a question is answered, is staus quo.

        1. fposte*

          I think it’s the duration of the hostaging. About the time us Midwesterners feel nervous at what’s starting to feel like intimacy Southerners are just settling in.

          1. L*

            LMAO! Michiganian transplanted to Georgia here. Nearly thirty years and I *still* haven’t gotten used to it!

          2. MatKnifeNinja*

            Yeah…question gets answered, and here the follow up might be “hope the rest of the day goes well” or “enjoy your break”.

            My friend from South Carolina will fire up, “How’s your garden going? The chipmunks ate up all my snap peas, and I’m working on a new trellis…(you will be there for the next 10 mins)

            1. fposte*

              Yes, the Midwestern art is to pack two social comments apiece, tops, into the time it takes to get past somebody, pick up the mail, or grab your shopping.

            2. Snark*

              Shit like this makes me SO GLAD I’m from Colorado. I would go bonkers dealing with this.

              1. RUKiddingMe*

                Me too. Native Californian living in Seattle for the past 30-ish years. In both places:

                ::everyone’s walking::

                Person 1: “Hey how are you?”
                Person 2: “Good, you?”
                Person 3: “Cool.”

                ::everyone keeps walking past each other::

                No one stops, no breaking stride, nada. Everyone just keeps walking.

                1. Nesprin*

                  I think its the lack of weather- where midwesterners can spend half an hour discussing whether its going to rain, californians are done in two sentences- ‘it’s nice today isn’t it?’ ‘yes’

              2. SavannahMiranda*

                Native Tennessean. I lived in NYC for a year and it took a month or two to get used to the straightforward, matter of fact way conversations are transacted. Get in, download info to or from, get out and move on. Politely, not unkindly, but without unnecessary folderol.

                New Yorkers are the most carefully, neutrally polite people I’ve ever met. You have to be when you’re dealing with so many people from so many places around the world. But the minute you’re done with what you wanted and you segue into chatting about the weather they look at you like they’re trying to figure out what your scam is. You want something they didn’t anticipate, they don’t know what it is, and their guard goes up. You’ve broken the rule of transacting business. You’re after something. And they’re having none of it.

                Likewise I met a lot of New Yorkers who went on and on about how great and how friendly everyone is in the south. How they visited their Aunt So-n-So in North Carolina and everyone wanted to know all about them.

                More than once I had to explain this is S.O.P in the South, that you better be careful how much you share, it’s tempting and easy to overshare if you’re not used to the warmth, and that in fact, the people really don’t actually mean it. That it’s just social graces. It’s not personal.

                You have to develop some stock stories about your car, your garden, your cat, your hobbies, your classes, or your house, that you can trot out to occupy the conversational ping pong game, and develop over time. Without actually revealing anything of true weight about yourself. If you don’t they’ll think you’re deeply unfriendly. And if you share anything substantial you’re a vast over sharer. (Sigh.)

                1. Michaela Westen*

                  “That it’s just social graces. It’s not personal”
                  This could come off as hypocritical to people who aren’t used to it. It looks as if the southerner is interested when they’re actually not – the non-southerner thinks they’ve made a new friend and they haven’t…
                  So glad I’ve never had to live in the south. Even Midwesterners are not sufficiently straightforward for me. I would really rather be treated with honest indifference or hostility than fake friendliness. Then I know what I’m dealing with!

              1. RUKiddingMe*

                Several years ago when I was at one of those souvenir shops at the mall trying to just get a pink “Twin Cities” water bottle for my niece the clerk I was so amused and annoyed at the same time.

          3. Midge*

            I’m working on a team right now where we’ve just transitioned from someone from Tennessee running our meetings to someone from Massachusetts doing it. I can’t tell you what a relief it’s been for me to be able to get down to business sooner, talk about the agenda, and cut certain conversations short in the interest of time. That’s much more my style!

    4. Archaeopteryx*

      I would be too tempted to greet that boss with “Good Moooorning Miss Hannigan!”

      1. Red Lines with Wine*

        Haha! He did say to greet him, but he didn’t say how. You could change it up every morning with a new name or a new phrase until he stops asking.

    5. CoveredInBees*

      I got a reputation as an office grump because I’m not a morning person. I had a colleague who would basically bounce off the walls first thing in the morning and would get annoyed at people who didn’t share her pep. She’d try to “cheer people up” over and over again until they put on a fake grin or were able to sit at their desks.

    6. Fergus*

      Just because I work for someone doesn’t mean I owe them respect. My answer usually is PISS OFF, I might not say it, but I can sure think it.

  5. Gatomon*

    #4 – I never really say hello in the morning; something about it drives me nuts. Can’t quite place my finger on why, but I really need to settle in and get my coffee before I feel ready to talk. I think if my boss required me to do that and seriously punished me for not complying I’d look for new work.

    I do always say goodbye at night though so people know I am leaving for the day. Nothing weirder to me than surfacing from your work to realize you’re all alone in the office.

    1. Lilo*

      Ironically i’m the opposite. I actually enjoy greeting people in the morning, but at the end of the day i try to avoid seeing anyone as i leave and actually get excited if i achieve it! i’m just worried i’m going to get roped into something if I tell people i’m leaving and they “conveniently” remember they needed my help with something

      1. Queen of Cans and Jars*

        My boss is notorious for finding some BS reason to talk to you while you’re on your way out the door, so we always sneak out when he’s around. Reason #23,559 why he’s an ass.

      2. Yorick*

        I also don’t want to do a goodbye when I leave for the day. It’s not because I want to sneak out or I’m afraid someone will have more work for me. There’s just something overly dramatic about it to me, like why should I say farewell to coworkers as though I’m going off to war?

        1. Luna*

          Ha yes I feel the same way. Obviously if I’m passing by someone I’ll say goodnight, but why go all the way to their office to make a show of it?

          1. schnauzerfan*

            We want a goodbye, especially if you’re on the closing shift. As the last few people leave for the day someone has to set the alarm and make sure the last doors are locked. Getting a call from security when you’re 1/2 way home because you were the last out and didn’t lock up, sucks … and during the winter when it gets dark early and cars don’t always start we like the last 2 or 3 out to head to the parking lot together.

            But good morning? I say hi to the people who are between the door and my desk…

          2. Emily K*

            Yeah, I walk past my boss’s office on my way out, and if:
            1) he’s in his office
            2) he’s not on a call or meeting with someone
            3) the door is open
            4) it’s before 5

            Then I will pop my head in to let him know I’m leaving, and since I only do this when I’m heading out early, whether/when I’ll be back online from home that evening.

            If it’s 5 or later, or he’s busy with something else, I just walk past. The reality is that I’m exempt, partially remote, and work has several ways to contact me outside of the office, so it’s just a polite courtesy that I confirm I will be available in the evening on days I leave early. In reality I am always available.

    2. sacados*

      I work in Japan, which is a culture where greetings are very important. My company specifically skews more casual and international so we are not nearly as strict about it as a more traditional one would be.
      Yet still, in one of my department meetings it was brought up that we need to be doing a better job of greeting our coworkers when we see them around. Particularly with the president or other C-suite execs, we are supposed to greet them if we pass by them in the halls or around the office — especially if they are with clients, it gives a bad impression if the employee just walks past without giving a greeting to the exec.

      On the other hand, we have a couple of just-graduated new hires who are very fresh-faced and eager to prove themselves. And for the first few months, every day without fail before leaving, they would walk around the department bowing and loudly saying “Otsukare sama desu! Osaki ni shitsurei shimasu!” (which is the greeting said when leaving the office for the day; a sort of formal equivalent of “well, i’m off– see you tomorrow”)
      I got such a kick out of it, cause I’m sitting there thinking to myself — dude, chill. We’re not *that* kind of office. Haha.

      1. Julia*

        When I worked for the Japanese government overseas, I stuck my head into my boss’ office every morning, shouted “ohayou gozaimasu!”, bowed and went back to my desk. At night, everyone, no matter how old, went to their bosses’ offices and gave them a “osaki ni shitsurei shimasu!” (which literally means “I’m excusing myself for going home before you”) etc.

        Once, I passed a higher-up in the hall in front of my boss’ office and said “good morning”, as it was before noon and I hadn’t seen him that day yet, plus one of my old-fashioned Japanese professors had drilled it into me that it was impolite to say “konnichiwa” (hello/good day) to people who rank higher than you. I got chewed out for it because “it’s almost noon”, and apparently my boss in his office, who was listening to the whole thing, was laughing his butt of. OP, if you think your boss is anal, you should have met some of mine…

        1. Justin*

          Yes, in Korea, I was not supposed to say “annyeong haseyo” to the principal or senior teachers, but “annyeong hashimnika.” They were always very impressed when I remembered that (it’s not that hard..?).

          “I’m excusing myself for going home before you” definitely reminds me of not being able to leave the bar before the principal tried to prove he could outdrink me (but I was 21, so, no.)

        2. sacados*

          Yeah that sort of thing is very very common — but not my particular office’s culture. (Aside from warning us not to walk past the shacho without a greeting.)
          I sometimes say ohayo, sometimes not, and rarely actually say “osaki ni” at the end of the day — and it’s not just because I’m the foreigner, lol.

          Also that’s hilarious about the konnichiwa tho. It may be a regional thing, but I have actually heard that you should say “ohayo gozaimasu” when starting work / greeting someone for the first time — no matter what time of day it actually is. Tho the stricter rule is apparently “konnichiwa” from 11am – 5pm ;-p

          1. Julia*

            According to my grandboss, only news casters used “ohayou gozaimasu” after the end of the actual morning. I guess he has a point, but his predecessor often came in later and wasn’t a stickler for etiquette (he called me by my first name without any -san etc.), so who could have known?

      2. Persimmons*

        Greeting colleagues in the halls is A Thing. I feel so awkward running into the same people four times a day and exchanging the same pleasantries over and over! It’s as if a Seinfeld character crossed over to the Office Space universe.

        1. SoSo*

          Our office has an unofficial standard for this! The first time you see them it’s a quick hello as you pass, and every time after that you can just give them a small smile and keep walking.

          1. Amber T*

            That’s how it is in my office, and the few who don’t participate (regularly – we’ve all been off in our own words occasionally and are on autopilot occasionally) are seen as rude, especially since they’ll go out of their way to be friendly towards management but can’t be bothered to acknowledge lowly peasants like the rest of us.

        2. MCMonkeyBean*

          The worst is when you notice each other while on opposite ends of a hallway and there is what feels like mountains of time before you pass each other and you agonize over how long are you supposed to make eye contact. I don’t know what people did before they had cellphones they could pretend to be engrossed in so you can say a quick hello then stare intently at your texts!

          1. Your Weird Uncle*

            I had a friend who was a sociology major who told me once there is a certain accepted social protocol to this – something like, look at the person coming to see if you can make eye contact yet, then if not, glance at the wall/floor for a set amount of time, repeat steps 1-2 until you both make contact, smile and nod, and then glance back at the wall/floor until you’ve passed each other.

            I don’t know how regional this approach is, or whether it’s actually a thing discussed in sociology textbooks or whatever, but now I can’t not think of this every time I’m approaching someone down a hallway.

          2. JustaTech*

            I just go back to looking at my shoes. But most of the people in my office are OK with limiting eye-contact. It’s like, look, smile, say hi if you’re close enough to hear, then back to looking somewhere else. (Our building has a hallway that’s almost a block long, so pretty much anyone would find it weird to maintain that much eye contact.)

          3. RUKiddingMe*

            Folders, binders, documents that just have to be read while you’re walking…

            Cell phones though, you can *always* be on a call. This works especially well for me because I can pretend to be on a call (not at work…I don’t have anyone to hide from LOL) but out in public in general, or where I might run into someone I want to avoid.

            Also my phone is always on silent so no fear of my ringer going off and outting me as a fake call maker.

          4. Gatomon*

            This happens to me all the time. The hallway I frequent most also has the bathrooms on it, so odds are it’s someone traveling to/from the restroom, so it’s extra awkward when this happens.

            But it’s either that hallway or tromping through the actual cubicles, and I feel like moving through the farm is more disruptive, and it’s further out of my way, that the toilet hallway.

    3. Sc@rlettNZ*

      I’m with you Gatomon on the saying hello in the morning thing. I’m not a morning person. I like to be left alone to wake up (or at least until I’ve gotten my first cup of tea). Nothing grates on me like having to be all bright and chirpy first thing. I once worked on a team with a woman who would sulk if you didn’t greet her with a 1000-watt smile and an enthusiastic ‘good morning’. What’s wrong with just smiling and moving along. I suppose I should be grateful I wasn’t born in France. When my partner was working there, the standard operating procedure was to greet one’s colleagues with a morning peck on the cheek.

      I don’t mind saying goodnight at all though :-)

      1. nonprofiteer*

        When working from my organization’s office in Amsterdam, it took a bit to get used to the ‘two kisses’ thing with colleagues.

          1. RUKiddingMe*

            Yeah. I am waaaayyyy too much of a germaphobe to do that.

            My husband’s family (Moroccan) do this, but it’s four on each side. Even though he is personally related to about three million of the four million residents of Casablanca (!!!) I go along with it because … family. At work though? Not enough nope in the world.

            1. technwine*

              These aren’t actually kisses, but the two air kisses to the side of the face that a lot of Europeans do when greeting each other. It’s actually a bit more hygienic than shaking hands, because you don’t actually touch each other.

              It’s definitely a weird change for Americans, but I’m not sure it warrants the quite emphatic no you’re giving here.

              1. RUKiddingMe*

                I really don’t like people that close to me in general. I don’t like shaking hands either. I do what I need to do of course, but when all is said and done I can’t find a place to wash my hands fast enough.

      2. NaoNao*

        I used to work in the Philippines and between two friend gals, very close mixed gender friends, or a “third gender” guy and another person, the greeting was either a kiss on the cheek or a cute verbal version “bis-bis” (kiss-kiss) if you were feeling grumpy or were rushed that day. I sort of miss it? When I moved back to the States I had to crash learn (mentally, I never crossed any lines!) to be so much less physical and affectionate all over again.

        1. Gatomon*

          I used to work in an affectionate office (in the US, there was no kissing/air kissing, just hugging and touching appropriately…) and I did miss it when I left. I am not a naturally affectionate person though, they wore me down.

      3. RUKiddingMe*

        I have two masters and a doctorate, which is by way of explaining why I was in school “forever” during which time I worked in [a] beauty salon[s] because it’s something I’d learned how to do when I was young. It was a decent living but not what I wanted to do for lots of reasons, not the least of which is that my introverted (massively introverted) ass had to be Little Miss Chipper at the stroke of 10:100 AM four days a week…for years.

        These days I get my social fix such as it is in forums like this (Hi, I’m RUKidding and I’m an advice column junkie!) because I get to spend my time observing people (anthropologist and sociologist) and *writing my very insightful and oh so interesting opinions of society and Homo sapiens’ place in it.

        * 1) I’m not all that insightful or interesting and 2) honestly my dissertation pretty much burned me out for any serious writing…I lost count of the number of times I questioned if I “really” needed a PhD, hence not trying to make a career in academia. Publish or perish? … I would so perish. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    4. Smiles*

      I think each to their own but not returning a greeting from another human in the office is rude. They are your fellow co-workers and you all share the same space. If you are too busy or not a morning person that’s only an excuse for bad manners.

      1. Sam.*

        I agree with returning a greeting that’s been given, and I’ll generally smile or say good morning to someone I happen to see in the hall, but I’m not going out of my way to greet anyone. I dislike conversing with anyone until I’m solidly awake and would really just like to teleport into my office without actually seeing anyone!

      2. Alli525*

        RETURNING a greeting, sure. But OP’s boss expects them to *initiate* every time, which is a bit irritating and also rude from a certain point of view.

        1. Washi*

          Right, I think this is a really important detail. Boss expects the OP to seek him out, in his office, just to greet him. I agree with Alison that she should just do it to keep the peace, but I don’t think all the “you don’t understand social niceties!” reactions are warranted in this case.

        2. Luna*

          Exactly, it’s putting all the burden on the underlings to make some dramatic show of greeting the boss each and every day (I’m assuming as some sign of respect, in the boss’s mind). It’s weird, and also doesn’t the boss have any work to do? Being interrupted by a constant stream of people stopping by your office would be highly annoying IMO.

      3. Spider*

        Totally agree. You don’t have to be chirpy — just exercise basic courtesy and acknowledge the person’s presence. Just say, “Hey,” if all you can muster is a monosyllabic response!

    5. T3k*

      Same. Once I realized some were seeing it as rude, I’ve taken it upon myself to explain I’m not intentionally trying to, I just haven’t fully waken up (definitely not a morning person) and it really takes a lot of energy for me to give a cheerful “hi!” (I can give a quiet one but hardly anyone can hear it). Thankfully most take it in stride. It even became a joke at one job, where a boss would drop in before noon and jokingly go “oh, it’s before noon, nevermind” and pretend to leave but would then just let me know why they dropped in.

      1. Laurelma__01!*

        I hate being stopped in the hall with my purse and lunch, and whatever hanging in my arms before I get to my office. Let me get settled before asking anything of me, please. Basically do not get between me and my office door in the morning, and between me and the bathroom. I’m hearing impaired, and many of these conversations in the hall are quick, or a request tossed to me in passing. Which means I might miss part of the conversation. My boss has been trained to not grab me in the a.m. She comes in at 6 am and is rearing to go when everyone else has started walking in.

        1. Amber T*

          My new boss does this, although he’s learning not to. I’m literally setting my bag down, haven’t even turned on my computer yet, and he’s asking if I’ve seen the email about X. No? Can I get set up and check back in with you in a few minutes?

    6. Turquoisecow*

      I very briefly worked at an office (about a week) where the boss made it a HuGE deal that everyone needed to say good morning when they came in and good bye when they left, unless she was in a closed-door meeting and could not be disturbed. It was basically so she could tell who was there and who wasn’t, since different people started at different times. It felt to me like a crazy power play, but that’s just me.

      Other offices I’ve worked in, including the current one, it’s customary to say “good morning” to the people sitting nearest your workstation and “good bye” to the same people. My boss worked a short distance from this space – I said hello when I saw them and some bosses made a point of saying hello or good morning to people when they first saw them, but no one went out of their way to walk down the hallway and find the boss (or anyone else) if they didn’t have something else to discuss.

      And some people NEVER said goodbye, but slipped out quietly at quitting time, on the dot, every day. Others were torn between admiring them and finding them rude/slacking.

      1. only acting normal*

        Ugh. The assumption of slacking. Just no.

        I have a colleague who says goodbye as she leaves, but her ‘goodbye’ is a 45 minute conversation. I’d rather she slipped away than distract me as I’m trying to finish up my work for the day before *I* can leave.

        1. Pollygrammer*

          That does raise a question–does OP’s boss simply want to know when she is and isn’t in the office, particularly it seems her schedule is unpredictable? I would say that’s reasonable if it’s the case, and not a prissy power-play.

      2. RUKiddingMe*

        How is it slacking to leave at quitting time? This attitude of “whelp you put in your assigned time, you have no reason to stay yet you need to or else you look like you’re slacking/lazy/not committed/etc.” needs to stop.

    7. Get it Together or Forget it Forever*

      This situation is playing out in my office right now. I’m on a 4-person team that has just moved to open work space, so the whole team now sits basically within eyesight of each other though we are mixed in with about 10 other people in our “zone.” The newest member of our team has been with us for almost a year and we’ve really be struggling with communicating with him. Not saying hello in the morning to our boss occasionally becomes going a whole day without saying anything to anyone. He has ignored conversations happening in front of him and walked away from direct questions. It isn’t a hearing problem and doesn’t actually seem to be a negative attitude problem, but it is being perceived by the rest of us as a serious problem connecting. It was a major component of his mid-year review, which (though not his boss) I was asked to contribute to due to a project I was managing.

      My boss and my team skew introverted, so this isn’t something that we don’t identify with on some level…the need to work quietly, warm up to conversation in the morning, have coffee, etc. However, no one is looking for a full blown conversation first thing in the morning. This is just an acknowledgement that you are there and in the same space with them as members of the same team…eye contact, hello, good morning, etc.

      1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

        Do you work with the described above (or maybe below) on his 7th PIP for personal interactions?

      2. Specialk9*

        Someone refusing to answer a direct question, and turning on their heel and walking away, is startlingly rude and unprofessional. I am shocked he still has a job.

        1. RUKiddingMe*

          Agreed. Being introverted? Needing time to wake up? Not wanting to participate in pointless pseudo-social conversations simply for the opticals? Hello…preaching to the choir, but walking away from direct questions? No.

    8. WonderCootie*

      I’ve got a slightly different take. We’re in a small office in a university, and there’s no line of sight to the front door. Saying a general “good morning” as we walk in not only greets everyone, but makes everyone aware that the person who just came into the office (the door is loud) is supposed to be here. Between real life news stories and our required active shooter trainings, we get a little paranoid around here. I love working here, but when I’m here by myself, you better announce yourself when you come in.

      1. Gatomon*

        Good point… all our doors are keycarded. But if my space was publicly accessible I would be more concerned about who’s coming and going.

    9. AKchic*

      It’s always been a safety thing to say “goodbye” before leaving. Granted, I’ve worked in some shady crime-laden areas, or in secure places (or – like now: with bears wandering the parking lot), so it is both to alert the staff that they may no longer have “safety in numbers”, and that they will probably be the “last person standing” and need to lock up (and they now get to answer the phones and help anyone who walks in).

      It also allows for the whole “if there’s a fire, we’re not sending emergency responders in to look for people who’ve already left for the day if the one person left has already gotten out and knows they’re the last person for the day”.

      1. Gatomon*

        Yes, I’d at least want someone to know I left work without checking the cameras if the building blows up.

  6. Ginger ale for all*

    #3 – I have a similar problem. I find that using cuticle cream cuts down on the problem for me. After each time I wash my hands, I rub it on top of my nails and the surrounding area. It might be just an exchange of one habit for another, but my fingers look a lot better. I have even been known to rub in a lip balm like Lip Smackers when I am out of my usual favorite cuticle stuff.

      1. mreasy*

        Thirded. I still occasionally get a needs-to-be-clipped-RIGHT-NOW hangnail, but with cuticle oil, they’re a lot less frequent.

    1. Persimmons*

      Yes to lip balm! I prefer it, because the applicator is so much tidier. I hate dipping into a little pot of salve or messing about with a cuticle oil, and then touching my keyboard.

      Also, roll-on hand lotion needs to be a thing. I want a moisturizing cream that comes in a rollerball deodorant stick. Otherwise I am trapped in a cosmetics ouroboros of washing hands/applying lotion/washing lotion off palms and fingertips.

      1. Sylvan*

        Search “solid moisturizer stick” or “solid moisturizer bar.” Lush also makes solid moisturizers that don’t come in stick dispensers.

      2. Future Homesteader*

        Thank you for the “cosmetics ouroboros” description…I didn’t know I needed a phrase for that, but now that I have it, it makes perfect sense.

    2. FidgetFingers*

      This is an excellent idea! I hadn’t even considered that keeping them moisturized would help me. That makes a lot of sense. Off to CVS now…

    3. Annie Moose*

      Ooh, I gotta try this. I know my picking gets way worse when my hands are dry, so this makes a lot of sense.

    4. Corky's Wife Bonnie*

      Burts Bees makes a wonderful lemon butter cuticle cream. I keep it at my desk and use it multiple times a day.

    5. GibbsRule#18*

      I really feel like I have found my people! I have a huge cuticle picking problem. Drawing blood and all that. My actual thumbnails are a mess because of all the damage I do to the cuticles. And yes, it is worse when I am anxious or stressed. The only thing that works, and I’m certainly nowhere near consistent on this, is to remove the temptation i.e. make sure there is nothing to pick. This means cuticle cream, heavy hand lotion, and gloves at night (very sexy) and lotion and cuticle cream/lip balm at work. I have been know to also put cuticle cream on my thumbnails and put band-aids over them.

  7. Observer*

    #5, I think you handled the matter perfectly well. In many respects, the email IS the cover letter, and since the instructions were to send the resume to an email address, it makes a lot of sense to provide some information in the email.

    1. Alli525*

      Yes, I agree. For an intern, entry-level, or otherwise informal position where they didn’t explicitly ask for a cover letter, I think it would be acceptable in many/most cases to include cover letter-types of info in the body of an email.

      1. Nom Nom*

        I’m most likely in a different area but no-one specifically asks for cover letters my end. It’s just expected. An email cover letter is also acceptable but if there if there is neither, it doesn’t fly no matter the level (actually the higher the level the more it’s expected)

        1. PrgrmMngr*

          Ditto. I’ve been surprised to see how few applicants submit cover letters and how crappy some are. I’m unlikely to hire someone who doesn’t submit a cover letter and I don’t ask for one explicitly.

  8. sacados*

    Re: #5 — I have a somewhat related question.
    What about if it’s a document upload situation? For example, a job posting where you apply via the company’s site. There is space to write your name and email address (but no field for any other comments/notes) and another that says “Please upload your resume here.” (There is no way to upload more than one file)
    In this case there is no mention of a cover letter being needed, and the only way to send one would be to specifically go into my resume and save the cover letter as another page in that same file to upload to the company’s site.
    In a case like this, is it still better to include the letter? (This is something I specifically encountered recently and really wondered about)

    1. HashtagUsername*

      In those cases, I’ve just put the cover letter and resume in the same PDF file.

      1. T3k*

        This. My last job was a very well known company but had this set up (submit resume file and done!). Once I realized this, I began to combine my cover letter and resume into one file for them and the letter is what ended up helping me get interviewed.

      2. Lyra (UK)*

        Yup, I just put them both in the same file (be it Word or PDF – though I prefer the letter cause there’s no risk of your formatting going funny) and upload that.

      3. A username for this site*

        Last job I applied to transferred the data from the resume into form data for the application, so I did not include a cover letter, because it was clear the software was not designed to handle them.

        There was no space for additional attachments, or blank spaces for additional statements, so it was obvious they did not want a cover letter.

    2. DJ*

      I’ve been wondering the same thing lately! Thanks for asking! And to those who answer, thank you too!

    3. Bea*

      I’ve been seeing a lot of cover letters as part of the PDF package when a resume is sent in.

      It’s a good practice, cover letters make me happy…I get so few of them, despite being requested in all postings, sigh.

    4. CoveredInBees*

      What people said below. This is another reason I get so annoyed at online forms when applying to jobs. They’re generally straight out of the box and one size fits all.

      To avoid having the formatting of the cover letter mess up the formatting of your resume, you can either make both of them PDFs and then merge them (there are a dozen websites that do this for free) or put a page break in between the cover letter and the resume.

  9. Forking great username*

    #5 – I recently encountered a situation like this, but with letters of recommendation rather than a cover letter (I’m in a field where letters of rec are standard and expected.) I attached them as well to my email and simply added a sentence saying, “I have also attached my letters of recommendation in case those are useful at this point in the hiring process.” I received an e-mail back thanking me, so it seemed to go over well.

    1. OP5*

      Yes, I think I should have written a full cover letter and attached it to the email anyway.

  10. sacados*

    OP1: I would just take the situation as the bonus it is. Because even if some hiring manager has inappropriately clued your employer in to your search, at least it seems they are not reacting badly to the news — the opposite in fact!
    So either it’s total coincidence and your employer has simply given you a promotion and other perks unprompted; or they are aware you’re searching and they clearly value you and will go to great lengths to keep you happy and motivated.
    Either way, I would go ahead and accept the promotions/perks but still continue your search in the meantime, if you want to. Unless they’ve specifically said something like “We heard you’re looking and would like to offer you these incentives to stay,” then there’s nothing wrong with just assuming it’s a coincidence and proceeding as you otherwise would have.

    1. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

      One other possible reason – your department is losing people (have any of your coworkers handed in their notice recently?), and management realizes they need to up their game at retaining the people they still have.

      Beyond that, what sacados said about accepting their offer and continuing to search.

    2. TootsNYC*

      also–it’s always possible that your boss has figured out you’re job-hunting simply by some small changes in your routine.

      I suspected my deputy was interviewing at other places because she suddenly was slightly more well-groomed on some days, and on those days, she took a long lunch or left early or “had an appointment.” And there was something about her demeanor when she left or came back–a stillness or controlled-ness, which seemed sort of “don’t give anything away,” or a slightly furtive, secretive air.

      I thought, “Hmmm, I wonder if she’s interviewing somewhere. She has been here for several years, and there’s only one promotion she could get, and that’s to my job, and I’m not leaving. It’s logical she’d want to look for work. If she wants it, I hope she gets it.”

      I never found out if I was right, because she didn’t end up leaving, but she did go back to all her normal patterns of dress/grooming/schedule.

      1. designbot*

        This is what I came here to mention! When a past employee told me she was leaving, I was not at all surprised, because a couple weeks before I’d inadvertently found her portfolio website (I was searching for images others had taken of our projects and came across our own drawings in the image search…). Whether it be your schedule, your dress, heresay, or something else that’s clued the boss in, you may never know.

  11. Greg M.*

    oh man, the “required to greet” boss sounds like the exact kind of person that exhausts me. like I’ve said this prerecorded phrase so many times the tape has worn out. *hoards his introversion spoons*

      1. Greg M.*

        yes, or whatever other social cookie the person in question requires. warning I’m a grump. I’ll be friendly and I’ll return greetings but I find it wearing each time.

    1. A username for this site*

      Had a boss like this, she required everyone to say good morning to her when she got in, and good night to her when they left.

      However, she favored working 11-7 and her office wasn’t near anyone else’s. I had no idea when she got in because I was *working*, and she seemed to think I was sneaking in without talking to her. Then at leaving time, if you went to say goodbye to her, you’d have to seek her out (because again, her office wasn’t near anyone else’s and she wasn’t always in it), and she’d keep you there for an hour, having an ambush meeting as you stood there in your coat and had nothing to write with. If you just left, she’d accuse you of sneaking out without working a full day.

      Thankfully, she got fired for being awful.

  12. Rhymetime*

    #2 regarding the oversharing manager, it’s a good thing you will be out of there soon, so you don’t have to deal with it much longer. I agree with Alison that it makes sense to figure out how to avoid it for a little longer before your temp job wraps up.

    I didn’t have that luxury at Old Job. My manager sat just a few feet away from me, and it got to the point where I avoided generic pleasantries because the response would be an earful about her difficult marriage, her upcoming divorce, etc. I think she was disappointed when she’d ask me on a Monday about my weekend and I’d just say a sentence or two about what I was up to. No way did I want to encourage the all too frequent narrative in reply.

    1. Purple Wombat*

      I’ve been there too, OP #2! My former manager expected me to reciprocate her over-sharing, and would take it out on me professionally when I didn’t give her the personal details she wanted. I don’t really like to share more than the basics with co-workers, and it clearly annoyed her that I didn’t want to tell her all my deepest darkest secrets and problems. I could literally see how her feedback and opinion of my work would change depending on how little/much I shared.

      I found the most effective way of dealing with it was telling her things that SOUNDED personal, but actually weren’t (minor conflicts and drama with friends and acquaintances, rather than details about my family or relationship)- I found I could sell it a lot of it by using the right tone. It was a bummer to see how doing that immediately improved our working relationship (I kept hoping I was just imagining it, but suddenly her feedback was significantly less critical!), but it helped me survive a lengthy job search and find a new job working for people with reasonable boundaries :)

      1. Artemesia*

        Brilliant but creepy. You could I suppose just rely on a novel for material but I love the idea of ‘intimate detail that is actually impersonal’. Kudos.

    2. Spider*

      God, I feel you. In my current position, I had three bosses in a row who sat feet away from me and talked (monologued) at me every day about their personal problems. (The first was a permanent hire who retired for medical reasons, and the other two were temporary hires on yearly contracts.)

      It’s SO HARD to deal with when it’s your boss. I always felt funny about saying, “Welp! Gotta get back to that project!” when the boss was telling me about (say) her abusive mother, AND the boss knew just how unimportant that project was in the scheme of things, since she was the one who assigned it to me.

      I recently had the same situation with a coworker (peer), where I was helping her out in her department for two weeks since everyone else there was on vacation. She’s also in an abusive situation at home and would talk to me about it for literally hours each day (1-2 hours first thing in the morning, and then in bursts throughout the day). I feel terribly for her and was happy to be someone she could talk to, and I also pointed her in the direction of a bunch of local domestic violence resources, so I think I was able to help in some small way.

      But it’s also really draining for me to be an active compassionate listener for hours a day, especially when I’m not a trained counselor. (She did 98% of the talking, too.) I was also just there in her department to provide coverage and didn’t have any projects I could use as an excuse to cut her off, and I was sitting at a shared computer station with no privacy or boundaries, so I was kind of trapped there listening to her.

      So when I’d need a break, I’d suddenly have to excuse myself to use the restroom. That would sometimes work to break the flow of her venting, and when I’d come back to the desk she’d be engaged in another task. Other times she’d just pick up where she left off, but at least I had gotten a 5-minute break.

      1. OP #2*

        My boss also talks about abusive situations! I feel so terrible for her, and I have tried to say some understanding things – I’ve been in abusive relationships myself – but sitting in her office for an hour+ at a time has been….very draining. I’m empathetic and have an instinct to help but I’m not a therapist or crisis-trained or anything.

        The situations she’s going through are horrifying and she clearly needs someone to talk to – the situations involve her abusive husband, unsupportive children, unsupportive siblings, abusive dad, and mother at the end of her rope. I’m not sure she has anyone else to talk to.

        It’s also kind of weird because I’m at least 30 years younger than her, maybe more. There’s no level at which we’re peers. I’m definitely planning to use the advice on how to escape until this job is over.

    3. Jelly Bean*

      I had a problem with an oversharing boss when I was in college. I had a part-time job where I only worked 5 hours a day, and the first 1 to 2 hours my boss would unload all of her personal and family issues on me. It was really stressful because the things she was telling me about were so horrible and I felt horrible (I’m very empathetic). It was also stressful because it meant I had less time to do the work I needed to do and I felt like I was always behind in everything. I ended up quitting eventually because the stress was causing health issues.

      I’m definitely going to put a stop to any excessive oversharing in the future now that I know it’s something that should not be happening (especially coming from a superior).

    4. Mona Lisa*

      I had the same issue with a colleague with whom I shared an office. I started wearing headphones and pretending not to hear her, and I never asked natural follow-up questions when she asked me how my weekend was or what my plans for the evening were. I also gave very generic replies like “It was good” or “Not much.” Anything more would send her into a 20-30 minute rant that I couldn’t break out of. She did it to our boss, too, who was very non-confrontational and allowed it to continue because the co-worker would cry when she received feedback.

      I can’t imagine what the pressure would have been like to respond if I had to do that with the person who would write my performance reviews.

  13. LobsterPhone*

    I was once reprimanded by my manager for not greeting colleagues cheerfully enough in the morning and when I remarked that she didn’t respond to our greetings AT ALL, she replied ‘well, I’m not a morning person’.

    1. Spider*

      I just can’t deal with coworkers who don’t respond to polite greetings. When someone says, “Good morning,” to you, FFS SAY IT BACK. Even if all you can muster is a mumbled, “Mornin’,” it costs nothing to be cordial!

      I’m not talking about the one-off moments when someone’s lost in thought and doesn’t hear you — I do that sometimes myself — I mean the people who routinely ignore you. There are two people in my office who do that, and they are consistently rude in many other ways to most people, as well.

      Maybe if someone is really great to work with in all other ways and they just have this one quirk of ignoring greetings, they can get a pass, but I don’t know too many people like that. It’s such a basic-level social skill to acknowledge someone’s presence when they speak to you — if someone can’t bring themselves to do that, they need to get help.

      1. chi type*

        Um, maybe just don’t say good morning to those people? It’s kind of ridiculous that they won’t answer you but also kind of ridiculous that you keep insisting.

    2. you don't know me*

      I once had a supervisor who never said hello or good morning or offered any kind of greeting. In itself that didn’t bother me but he had to walk past my desk to get to his and I always greeted him but he just kept walking so I found it kinda rude. I stopped greeting him and started counting how long it would take for him to acknowledge me in the mornings. Six months! But he finally did it.

    3. sheworkshardforthemoney*

      This would be a good open thread: I was once reprimanded for….
      I was once reprimanded for not smiling enough. It was the same job where you were expected to greet the boss and have a few minutes of chit chat in the morning even if the place was on fire. I’m not good with small talk and it was excruciating.

  14. Cat Herder*

    Please just say hello to your boss when you get to work and to whatever colleagues you encounter on the way to your office or cube. This is not hard or unreasonable. It’s just a social nicety. A non optional social convention. And yeah, I personally don’t want to chitchat when I’m focused on getting to my desk and getting started, but Hello and Good Morning take almost no time or effort and help fool my colleagues into believing I’m a polite and pleasant person.

    1. MK*

      I agree. Frankly, the OP comes across as kind of precious herself with

      “I was tired, didn’t want to talk with anyone, and was hoping to get in and out without any conversation… I just wanted to get in and out”

      “I am busy with projects I don’t necessarily want to stop what I am in the middle of just to give a required hello”

      “I find it irritating to stop my train of thought and interrupt my work flow to exchange pleasantries”

      What I am basically hearing is “I shouldn’t be expected to show even minimum politeness when I don’t want to” and that’s really not how politeness works. It doesn’t “seem” rude, it is rude, no matter whether the OP isn’t the only one who feels that way. (I know the comments here tend to skew towards introversion, but I really don’t think not saying hello is a universally desired change in social customs)

      To clarify, I am not talking about “exchanging pleasantries”, just an acknowledgement that other people exist in the same space. No one should be expected to go out of their way to greet people every day, but is saying good morning to the people you actually come face to face with or raising your head and nodding when people come into the room so much to ask? If I was dashing by my (open plan) office to get something, I would feel weird to do it in complete silence and I would probably attract more attention that way. After offering a general “Hello everybody, just in-and-out to get something”, in my workplace at least, everyone would nod or smile or say hello and get back to their work, not waylay me to discuss the weather.

      That being said, the OP’s boss is ridiculous. While I do think this is rude, it’s not, in my view the kind of active rudeness that needs addressing (e.g. insults, rudeness to clients etc.). You want to be the office grump? Suit yourself and take the consequences. Also, it doesn’t even seem like he is bothered by the rudeness, it is the “disrespect” towards his authority as boss he objects too, which comes across as petty and insecure.

      1. CBE*

        OP says that they unexpectedly had to take a week off while the company was under a tight deadline. People don’t generally have to do that for pleasant reasons, so OP could very well have been dealing with some difficulties in their family (sick kid hospitalized, parent who had to be moved into a care facility, death in the family etc.)
        I totally get wanting to sneak in and out without Talking About It With Colleagues in that situation. People are allowed to not be perky when they’re going through a rough time!

      1. Pollygrammer*

        I’d say it sort of depends on whether or not you pass somebody on the way to your workspace. If you’re walking by someone on your way to your desk or getting coffee, yes, you definitely need a quick morning greeting. (And it takes zero effort). Seeking them out for a good morning should be a little more optional. I’m not quite clear from the letter which it is in this case.

        1. Washi*

          Yeah, my interpretation from the letter is that the boss has his own office, so it’s not the same thing as walking right by someone without acknowledging them in any way. If it was after hours, I could see the boss requesting that the OP poke her head in to say hello, just in those specific circumstances, so he knows it’s not a burglar. But to require the OP to come over to his office every day just to say hello is pretty unusual in my experience, and it would annoy me too, though I would do it rather than using political capital to make a fuss.

    2. Zena*

      It’s not that simple for everyone though! For example it would be really hard and exhausting to do for people with social anxiety, introverted people etc. I am an introvert, also have the joy of being overly neurotic and anxious, and the idea of having to greet every single colleague who may walk past is enough to bring me out in hives. I get that it’s a social nicety, but please remember it’s a big deal for some people to be able to do this.

      1. Socially Anxious in the South*

        I have social anxiety but I’ve been in the workforce long enough to know I’m hurting myself and how I’m perceived if I don’t muster a quick “hello!” Or “morning” if someone says it to me first. Maybe it’s because I’m from the South, but it’s just something you do. I’m kind of shocked that anyone would think a nonverbal response to a greeting, no matter how early in the morning, is ok. Here that would read as very, very rude. I don’t go out and look for everyone to say hello, but it doesn’t take much to say “hey” to people I pass in the hallway. Think of it this way, if someone who dealt with customers didn’t want to reply to a “good morning” because they hadn’t had their coffee yet, would that be acceptable? No, and it’s not acceptable with coworkers either IMO.

        1. only acting normal*

          I don’t have social anxiety but I am autistic. It takes a surprisingly large amount of processing to say “hey” in the hallway! It’s not the speaking that’s the issue it’s the timing. Do you make eye contact first? How far away? Do you retain eye contact as you get closer? At what distance do you smile? At what distance do you speak?
          Yes, it sounds silly, but none of that is inate or natural to me.
          Thankfully there are a lot of “spectrumy” people where I work so I’m rarely the most awkward person in the room. In the “real” world though, it sucks to know I fail at something so basic.

        2. Zena*

          I’m in the UK – I can’t speak for the whole of the country but generally, in my experience, it’s totally acceptable to respond non-verbally, for example with a smile or a nod, when someone says hello. I don’t see it as rude at all, and it’s the norm in every place I’ve worked. Also no-one here makes a point of greeting every single member of your team individually in the morning – a general “morning” aimed at the team as a whole is more common, some people respond verbally, some will respond non-verbally, either is ok.

          With reference to the OP’s letter, they say that they had been unfortunately called away for a week. To me that reads as family emergency/bereavement/other emergency in those circumstances, their priority isn’t going to be “I must say hi to my boss while I pop in the office”, as they said in the letter, they just want to get in and out with no distractions and this is totally understandable considering the context.

          1. only acting normal*

            I was thinking the same about the UK, but wasn’t sure if I was getting it wrong (because autism + I struggle with timing greetings especially).
            A general “mornin’” to the general vicinity of your desk is the norm where I work (massive open plan), and you don’t expect everyone in earshot to respond verbally.

          2. MK*

            We don’t actually know why the OP was called away, but it sounds to me she doesnt’t want to have to offer greetings in general. She references other instances, like mornings and when she is busy.

            I am wondering how the encounter with the boss played out. If he saw her from across the room or through an open door and expected her to come talk to him, his reaction is even more ridiculous. But if they came face to face in the corridor and the OP rushed around him without even acknowledging his existance, I can see why he was jarred by this (though his reaction was still over the top).

            1. AmeliaBedelia*

              His office is across the room. I do offer the normal pleasantries when someone (including him) says hello. However, he never wants to just say hello, he wants to chat with you for 30 minutes about your life. And at this time especially, I do not want to speak about my personal life. I think it perfectly reasonable to keep my personal life separate from my work life.

              I did go into his office. I apologized for not saying hello and I told him I really needed to go. He still wanted me to sit down and shoot the breeze. Which again, I told him I was sorry but that I only popped in for a moment to grab my laptop so that I could keep on top of some projects while on leave. I am a dedicated employee, I don’t have to be working while on leave, but I am doing what I can to help. I really don’t think it professional to break down crying in your boss’ office. Which very well could have happened.

              1. tangerineRose*

                30 minutes to say hi – seems like your boss is being unreasonable, especially when you aren’t really even supposed to be there at the time.

                If you want my advice, since he wants you to do this every morning when you’re at work, do that. If it annoys him, and he asks you to stop, then yay! Otherwise, sorry, I guess he’s stealing away 30 minutes from the working day and from the company.

          3. Gazebo Slayer*

            Here in Boston it’s also normal to respond to a verbal greeting with a smile or nod, from what I can tell, so the idea that it’s rude is hardly universal in the US either.

          4. SoSo*

            Yeah, I’m in the midwestern US and it’s perfectly acceptable to respond to a greeting with a polite smile and a nod or quick wave.

            1. pleaset*

              Adding NYC to the UK, Boston, South Carolina, midwestern US examples – we do that here too.

              “not completely ignoring the person.”
              Some call doing this to someone who says/makes a greeting “blanking” them. THAT is obnoxious.

              “I waved and said hello. He saw me but did nothing. He blanked me!”

        3. Risha*

          I don’t know. I wouldn’t call myself a Southerner or an expert at the entire area, but I lived and worked in South Carolina for five years, and I never noticed anyone having an issue with a nonverbal response to a verbal greeting. Then again, South Carolinians are secretly all misanthropic introverts, so maybe they were just relieved to get a break from the chatter for once.

          1. Risha*

            To be clear, I mean responding with a nod or the like, not completely ignoring the person.

      2. mliz*

        I’m an introvert and I struggle with social anxiety (I’ve had periods when looking at my emails was stressful, work and private alike and I hate phone calls), but there’s something so very intrinsic about acknowledging another person’s existence by a simply “hello” that it is beyond rude not to say it.

        Don’t get me wrong, I don’t open anyone’s door just to call a greeting in the morning, but I walk along the hallway, say “good morning” to the open doors and that’s it. In a previous job my manager would greet me every morning (he came in later than me) by shaking my hand and I found that at first weird and later rather charming (this was a cultural thing anyway).

        Also, I’m very sorry, but in such a case I have to question your upbringing. I’ve grown up in circumstances that were far from ideal, and at times financially precarious, at times emotionally difficult, but “hello” or “good morning” has been instilled in me from a very early age. It’s the very most basic connection a human being can make, and if you see someone every single day of your working life and you don’t even acknowledge the existence of that person unless you “want something from them”, then that is not contributing to a good working relationship. That doesn’t mean you have to greet everyone who comes your way in the street, but someone you see daily? Or even the cashier at the check out line, I’m sure it’s in their employee handbook that they have to greet customers, but do you not return the greeting? Ever?

        One more thing, please don’t conflate introversion with something else. Introversion just means you’re recharging your energy in a specific way.

        1. mliz*

          (I do agree the situation of the OP or rather her boss respectively is ridiculous though, but that’s not what I’m talking about above.)

        2. Zena*

          I don’t really see how my upbringing is relevant or pertinent at all.

          Secondly I’m confused at how you’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t even acknowledge the existence of that person unless I want something from them – I didn’t say that and my comment doesn’t imply that, at all! And of course I respond to retail workers, I’m not a monster.

          My specific anxieties and introversion relate to instigating conversation, not responding to it, that’s what I was talking about in my original comment. It can be hard for me to instigate conversation, I’m not going to go into the reasons why, but it’s a thing that I struggle with. My issue was with people saying “it’s simple to make an efffort to say hi to someone” – it isn’t always that simple!

          1. Socially Anxious in the South*

            I agree that it’s not always “simple” and yes, in the past and now I do struggle with intrusive thoughts and worry about coming off as awkward, speaking too softly, etc. BUT. In the workplace, I assume if you’re having to greet people, you’ve made it through at least one interview and can do ok interacting when you have to. Also, I do come across as awkward and sometime my timing is off, etc. but I’m ok with coming off as polite if awkward as opposed to rude. I’ve heard other coworkers call the people that don’t greet each other “rude”,. Whether it’s deserved or not, I don’t want to be lumped in that category if I avoid it.

            I think waving is perfectly fine, but here at least a smile and only a smile could appear condescending, unless the person is tied up like on the phone and can’t respond. Just my two cents! I’m in Texas, and we are serious about Southern hospitality/manners. Even if that means people can be judgy about how others go about it.

        3. WTF*

          What a very strange comment. You seem to be reading a lot into things that is not justified. Maybe that’s just your own neuroses around this, though.

        4. tusky*

          Introversion can mean a lot of different things! Including, but not limited to: shyness, preference for quietness/minimal conversation, tendency to be introspective, and/or getting energy from time alone. It’s generally not kind or helpful to correct someone’s description of their own personality trait.

          1. Heather*

            No, it really doesn’t mean all those things. Of course it overlaps with some of them for a lot of people, but it has a specific meaning which is getting really watered down by people using it as shorthand for everything from “needs occasional alone time” to “extreme social anxiety”.

            1. tusky*

              But, who defines the term? Who says it doesn’t mean those things? It’s not a medical diagnosis, and all of the things I described could logically correlate with ‘finds social interaction draining’ (and are things which I personally experience as an introvert).

      3. Mookie*

        I had this exact problem when I got my first office job. Spent the first 30 minutes of every work day for the first few months in a kind of stagnant holding pattern (picture Marge Simpson air-sitting in “cat-like readiness”) waiting to greet the last of my colleagues, knowing I needed to “prepare” for every interaction while also aware that no one else had to do this and if they knew I did they’d think I was an uptight weirdo. They’d be right, of course.

        Yeah, it was my problem, not anyone else’s, but it was exhausting. Like a lot of socially anxious people, I need time to script what my day is going to look like in terms of other people (from driving and walking etiquette to group meetings at work). Picture the stereotype about American Millennials and phone calls, and then apply that quasi-neurosis cum phobia to everything.

      4. Kat in VA*

        I’m hella introverted, with a side of social anxiety and imposter syndrome to boot. I’m also a very good Executive Assistant, so you can imagine how those two mesh.

        I just fake it ’til I make it. Since I’m not that great at saying “Good morning!” or whatever, I’ll sub with “Howdy!” or “Hey!” depending on who it is.

        Somehow those feel less *fake* and contrived than trilling “Gooood MOOORNNINNNNNG” to everyone that passes by.

      5. introvert?*

        People keep saying ‘i’m an introvert’ when they seem to mean ‘i am shy’. Introvert means that you draw energy from being by yourself and often work better autonomously. It doesn’t mean not saying hello to your colleagues or bosses in the morning. Also, having social anxiety in the workplace does not really excuse following basic niceities in a work place without just seeming rude.

        1. Zena*

          My general understanding of introvert is someone who can be reticent in social situations and drained by social interaction, with shy tendencies – the definition you’ve described here seems to me related to those “personality trait” questionnaires that describe individual ways of working. Both are right, IMO!

          1. Sylvan*

            “Introvert” is a term in personality psychology that describes someone who, in theory, can find socializing tiring instead of energizing. An introvert recharges with alone time. Being introverted can make you a bit more reserved for understandable reasons, but introversion isn’t shyness (there are plenty of calm introverts and shy or socially anxious extraverts!).

            1. Zena*

              Yes I know, that is what I am saying – in personality psychology, yeah maybe being introverted isn’t shyness. However, as far as my understanding of the the general, non-personality psychology sense of the word goes, shyness *can be* a trait of being an introvert. I’m not saying every introvert is shy.

            2. tusky*

              I’m a life-long introvert and to me that has always meant shyness! Not because I’m necessarily nervous in social interactions, but because I’m often reluctant or cautious to engage in social interaction, knowing that it will require a lot from me. There’s room for all of us here!

              1. CMart*

                The internet-accepted definition changed over the last couple years, as far as I can tell. I’m sure it has some basis in a newer theory from the social/psychological fields of study, but I personally couldn’t tell you what or where.

                When I was growing up intro/extroverts were classified by their behaviors. I was shy and nervous to strike up interactions with new people, cautious when offering up thoughts etc… and therefore I was “introverted”.

                But I really like people! I like talking to people I know! I’d love to have a big family of my own and for my friends and neighbors to drop by unannounced and we can sit and have a drink and catch up. When I lived alone I would often go to coffee shops or bars to work or read–because I’m still quite shy and nervous about talking to new people but I hated feeling isolated in my apartment and wanted to at least be around people.

                So I guess now I’m an extrovert since I prefer the company of people, per the newer understanding. A quiet, shy, and reserved extrovert I suppose.

        2. Libervermis*

          I think it is common to conflate introversion and shyness, but social interactions of all kinds use energy for introverts, there’s a cost to them. For most situations that cost is minimal and well-worth paying, but it’s still there. Introverts may thus find greeting rituals to be taxing, they’re another thing that has to be recharged from. I still think they’re important and you should do them, but as an introvert I’m definitely more tired at the end of a “lots of greeting” day.

          1. Artemesia*

            I am not at all shy but am an introvert. After a certain amount of socializing which can be great fun, I just NEED to be alone, to be ‘off line.’ I have learned that I have to organize my life including travel now that I am retired so I have a certain amount of personal down time or I get frantic. I was lucky in my career to always have my own office; I feel for people today stuck in cube farms with no privacy or defense from noise and interruption. Introversion and shyness may go together, but they are not the same thing.

            1. soon 2be former fed*

              This is so me. Introverted, but talkative and not shy at all. I hated open offices, they made me feel so exposed!

        3. tusky*

          It’s great that people are starting to understand introversion as not necessarily shyness (because for many people it is not shyness), but I don’t see how it’s helpful to say introversion cannot mean shyness. When somebody self-identifies as an introvert, they get to decide the specifics of that term for their self. And since shyness typically connotes reluctance to or nervousness about social interaction, it’s kind of splitting hairs to say someone who prefers time alone could never be considered shy.

      6. Sylvan*

        It may not be easy, but it is simple. You say “hi” or smile or nod. It’s a tiny, short interaction that acknowledges people and makes them feel welcome.

        I have clinical anxiety (GAD and panic disorder), and I get that ordinary, small things can be difficult if they are a subject of anxiety. I do understand where you’re coming from.

      7. Libby*

        I have the same opinion as you and here’s what I don’t get… why am I the one being rude by not saying hello if the other person also isn’t saying it?

      8. Spider*

        If someone has anxiety to the point where they can’t bring themselves to literally say “hello” or “good morning” to a person they work with (especially if the coworker has said it first), they need to understand that their anxiety is negatively impacting their professional life and it’s time to seek help. Failing to perform that small social gesture comes across as rude, whether it’s intentional or not, and it will cause some degree of friction between them and their coworkers that will only isolate them and increase their anxiety further.

        1. tusky*

          It’s condescending and a little ableist when you tell someone with anxiety that they need to “seek help.” You don’t know that the anxiety is causing the behavior in question, and this particular behavior isn’t necessarily as problematic as you make it out to be. There are many nonverbal ways people acknowledge each other’s presence–making eye contact, smiling, nodding, waving.

        2. Greg M.*

          or maybe people can accept that others are different and stop judging people on arbitrary things.

      9. MatKnifeNinja*

        I have a cousin who has autism, and works in IT.

        That type of social interaction stuff just flies by him. He tells me he wants to work and only talk to when it’s information specific to his job. Why does he need to smile, eye contact, small talk…?

        “I don’t care about them, I just want to get my work done.”

        This has cost him SIX jobs. His work is great. It’s the soft skills that kill him. My cousin isn’t rock star brilliant for the higher ups to ignore all the screaming people can’t stand working with him.

        He’s in a PIP again, so I’m assuming this will be job number 7 gone.

        OP, I don’t know why the boss has this particular request. My cousin has “will acknowledge people around him” in his PIP. (Ugh, I know) If the boss is decent in all other aspects, this request should take 30 seconds tops out of your day. Bosses have all sorts of quirks. I think it’s unnecessary that he wants you to pop in and wave hi!, but maybe it makes him feel better to have a visual of who’s in today. I had a boss like that. Your time card is saying good morning to the boss.

        (Yes, my cousin has asked for ADA accommodations and was denied)

        1. NaoNao*

          Part of IT *is* working with others, especially in support positions. Maybe he would be a better fit for a pure coding or remote work option.
          We have an IT staff that’s brusque and prickly, but they don’t like, stare into space working while you try to get their attention!

          1. only acting normal*

            Too true. The IT support people where I work have to interact with *many* more people per day than I do as an analyst. I’d hate their job (also I’ve studied a little MS networking and bl**dy h*ll did I find it boring).

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Saying hello to people you encounter — yes, absolutely. That’s basic politeness.

      But the boss is off in his own office and is telling the OP to go there to seek him out and say hello. That’s a different thing.

      1. Violetta*

        It seems like the boss didn’t require it until this particular conversation, though. And it’s not clear from the letter if it is a daily requirement going forward. I do think it’s kind of weird to be unexpectedly out of the office for a week, then go in anyway but not even say hi to your boss (who sees you there so supposedly you’ve seen him as well) and explain you’re just there to get a document or whatever.

        1. MK*

          Because the OP mentions other instances (mornings, when she is busy with a project) when she apparently doesn’t think greetings are necessary, I wonder if the boss reacted to her general attitude. If I had an employee who habitually exhibited this kind of rudeness, and then one day they came into the office without bothering to acknowledge anyone in their path, … well, I might have a word with them too. Not “I am the boss and you have to say hello to me every time”, but “yoy are coming across as rude to others”.

          1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

            Or is the LW just being a little umm special about this and taking a one time request to the extreme?

            1. Lisa Babs*

              I know I was taking that conversation as a don’t come into the office and sneak out without saying hello (aka – he wanted to know you were in the office).

              1. Washi*

                Unless the OP was supposed to be in the office and was trying to sneakily work from home, I don’t see what’s so bad about swinging by to grab some paperwork and then heading out. Why did the boss need to know that OP was in the office for 5 mins?

                1. Luna*

                  I agree, I find it extremely weird that people think they need to announce they are in the office for all of 2 minutes. Saying hello to people when you pass by them, of course. Going out of one’s way to walk over to someone’s office to say “I was here, but am now leaving.” What’s the point?

                2. Lisa Babs*

                  It’s not about did he need a right to know or not. Bosses can ask for things and you don’t have to agree with them. I just think his conversation about saying hi might only be in this type of situation and not that the OP will have to swing by his office every time they’re in the office. But I wasn’t in there to hear the specific wording.
                  I just see the difference in being in an office when none expects you and working your shift.

                3. CMart*

                  I do think it’s a little odd to breeze through unexpectedly and not acknowledge anyone. But then, I am friendlier than most.

                  I just switched groups at work and now am on a different floor from where I spent the last year. I had a meeting up on my old floor near my new team yesterday and would have felt extremely weird if I walked right past their cube bank and didn’t briefly say hello. They may not have seen me passing through if they weren’t looking up from their screens, but if they had I think they would have thought it was odd that I was walked right by without even a smile and a nod.

      2. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

        I was a bit confused on this letter.

        “At work we are under some tight deadlines. I was unfortunately called away for a week. While I could not come in to work during the day, I decided to come in to the office to pick something up to help me do work at home. ”

        I can’t decide if this meant the LW was in the office at an odd hour outside of normal business hours or if this was during normal business hours and the boss didn’t expect them.

        If one of the above was the case I can see where the boss is coming from… If someone comes in when the boss is not thinking anyone else is in the building/office or that the LW wasn’t expected then yes, a person should duck their head in and say “Hey, I came in to pick up a few things and then I’m heading out”. In the case of the former, it’s just common sense to let someone know you are there in the latter it saves the boss from hearing “Oh I didn’t know Jane was back” conversations where the boss is like ‘Huh… why would you think that, Jane’s not back” “Oh I saw her” “Wait, she was here… she wasn’t supposed to be here I wonder if something changed or is going on”

        I’m not sure where the daily is coming from I may have missed that in the OP? In other words, depending on the situation I don’t know that the boss is being weird about this.

      3. epi*

        I thought the OP just sounded like they were upset when they wrote this and thinking about how their boss’s demand would even work.

        I would feel pretty terrible if I dropped by the office to get something so I could work at night on top of whatever else is going on, then was reprimanded for not saying hello to someone I may not have even realized was there while tired and stressed.

        And being required by your boss to say hello is really different than adhering to a social expectation! First, it suggests that the boss is pretty weird and overbearing. Second, no one wants to be held responsible for noticing any time their boss is in the building or anywhere near them, no matter what they are doing, otherwise it’s insubordination. Anyone would mess that up sooner or later. It’s like the OP is being set up to fail at something that is just so petty.

      4. Fergus*

        Maybe I just don’t want to say hello or good morning or PISS OFF. What is wrong with that. I am there to work and get a check, why is this sometimes 3rd grade. He’s not talking to me, he don’t like me, who cares!

    4. Ex-Academic, Future Accountant*

      I usually just smile and wave at people, saying a quick “hi” if they’re close enough to hear me. Am I super out of touch?

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Not as far as I’m concerned. In my world, it’s acceptable to answer a “good morning” or “hello” with a wave or a smile. At work, sometimes I get a wave and a grunt if it’s early enough. But this is only to people whom I pass as I’m coming in, walking down the hall, etc. Where I live, it’s customary to greet strangers you pass in the neighborhood, so when I walk my dog and it’s too early for me to physically be able to speak (I get a little throaty), my neighbors get a smile and a wave and everyone goes about their day.

        I do not, however, go into each individual office or cube and greet people. I generally don’t even say hi to my boss unless we pass each other in the hallway. I’ve heard (on this site) of offices where every single person must be greeted individually upon arrival, and while I’m sure I would adjust to that, it’s just not been anything I’ve experienced.

        When I worked in an open office, I generally did say “good morning” or “bye, everyone” to the room. Not a requirement, just a thing. Which reminded me of when I took the bus in Bermuda and passengers generally entered and said “good morning” to the whole bus, which I thought was quite nice.

    5. RainbowGrunge*

      I agree, I’ll return any greetings once I’m in the office…though it bugs me when I’m called out on saying the same thing in the greeting. Our DOO just told me yesterday “You always say you are well,” and it bugged me for some reason. I’m not a morning person at all, but I always put on a smile and say “I’m well, thank you. And you?” when greeted and asked how I am. Don’t expect a different response unless you want to hear me rage about how I am probably not well.

      Somewhat related- I really can’t stand parking lot wavers/greeters. When I’m in my car don’t walk in front of my moving vehicle just to wave when I am about to sit 20 feet away from you for 9 hours. Again, I always suck it up and wave, but seriously…parking lot greeters just need to stop.

      1. MK*

        I always thought “how are you?” is not a question that requires a real answer, othen than ok, fine, ect. Casual acquaintances don’t actually want a rundown of your mental or emotional state.

      2. TootsNYC*

        Our DOO just told me yesterday “You always say you are well,” and it bugged me for some reason.

        That’s because she always says, “How are you?” Why does she get to use the low-effort rote phrase, and you don’t?

      3. NaoNao*

        I think it’s because she’s thrown by the (grammatically correct, but rare) usage of “well” instead of “good” and the very slight implication that you’re coming off as Frosty Social Studies Teacher Circa 1912 “I’m WELL thank you”.

        Good is a moral judgement, Well is a state of being that’s opposite of “Ill” or “Not well”, a la “How are you?” Answer: “Not well, B***h!” from Dorinda in Real Housewives of NYC. Even drunk and mad she retains her correct grammar, hee!

    6. Elemeno P.*

      We actually rewrote part of our intern handbook to require greetings, but not in a power-move way: we just want to know if they’re here. We also require them to tell us when they’re leaving the office (not for the bathroom or anything like that) and how long. They only have to tell one of us, and they don’t have to chat or anything. This is all after an intern who would come in super quietly so we wouldn’t know he was there, disappear for two hour lunches, and sneak out at the end of the day. We’re really flexible with our time and he clocked out for the lunches, but we just had no idea where he was at any time. If he’d just said “I’m going to lunch with a friend; be back around 2,” no worries!

      We thought at first that he was just shy/introverted (we’re technical writers so most of our department is shy and introverted, and our interns often especially so) and gave him the benefit of the doubt at first, but he was legit just trying not to work; we couldn’t give him work to do if we never knew if he was there, and we hadn’t had anyone abuse the flex time before so we were honestly pretty doormat-y about it. Now we’re upfront about telling us if they’re here or not here, and no problems!

      1. Artemesia*

        Especially in cases of flex time I think it is perfectly reasonable for a boss to expect everyone to check in and out with the boss — a casual seeking them out for a ‘good morning’ and a ‘see you tomorrow’ when they leave is just the boss’s way of keeping some control of time in the office. They could have a time clock or some complicated sign in system; an informal — say hello so I know when you are in and when you leave works too. And it seems also reasonable to me for the boss to know that someone he thought was ‘off’ was in fact coming into the office. Bosses need to be in control of the space they manage. Imagine the deposition. ‘Why didn’t you make sure everyone was out of the office when smoke was smelled?’ ‘Well, I had no idea who was in or out.’ ‘Aren’t you the manager? Why didn’t you know that (deadguy) was in and needed to be alerted?’

        1. Elemeno P.*

          Yeah, exactly. We do have a time clock in place also, but we don’t require clocking out for quick things (like picking up lunch to eat at our desks; it’s a perk!). We also ask our interns to grab pictures or measurements for us (it’s a theme park), so they’re often physically out of the office a lot for work things. I’m also hourly and the general consensus is that it doesn’t matter how your hours are used as long as you meet your goals, but we need to know where you physically are so we can ask questions (or make sure you didn’t tragically die and we just thought you’d be right back).

          1. TootsNYC*

            or, I’m on the fire-safety team at my office. Each manager is responsible for being able to say, “Wait, my employee didn’t make it out!” or “Damian isn’t at work today–that’s why he’s missing.”

    7. smoke tree*

      In this case, I think the difference is that the boss expects the LW to come seek him out to lay a greeting at his feet in deference to his power. To me, that’s obnoxious, but I’m generally put off by any required displays of fealty in the office.

    8. Delphine*

      Very few people in my very small office say hello as they’re walking to their cube/office, unless they bump into someone in the one hallway that runs through the main office. I don’t think any of them are impolite or unpleasant for disregarding this apparently “non-optional” social convention.

      1. galatea*

        Same here — if you pass someone in the hallway or are in the kitchen that’s one thing, but the idea that you should interrupt your coworkers in their cubes to say hi seems really rude to me.

  15. OP5*

    Hi everyone,

    Thank you very much to Alison for publishing my question. If anyone is interested, I did not get the internship: “we received a lot of applications, you were not selected for the next step of the process”. I am still internship hunting and will write a full cover letter even when it is not requested, as I used to do before reading so many contradictory advice by “career experts” all over the Internet.

    1. Engineer Girl*

      One problem with the email cover letter is that only the receiver sees it. A cover letter as part of your resume gets distributed to the others too.

      1. Epistolarian*

        But emails can be printed, forwarded, distributed. I’ve often used the email as my cover letter, rather than attaching it as a document (which always seems odd to me – taking the terminology of “letter” so literally, rather than just formatting it into an email), and at interviews and such every member of the panel has had a copy of the letter/email.

        1. esra*

          They can be printed, but I’ve never seen that done in any of the hiring I’ve been involved in. If the cover letter isn’t part of the resume doc, I don’t get to see it.

      2. foolofgrace*

        This brings up the question of where to put the cover letter. I never in my wildest imagination considered that the cover letter doesn’t get disseminated to the hiring manager. If this is true, does it even make sense to send a separate cover letter? Is attaching it to the resume the way to go? I would have to do it in Word because I don’t have Acrobat Professional, and I’m pretty sure that Reader doesn’t let you combine documents into one PDF. Really, what should we be doing?

        1. Ali G*

          The version of Word I have has a “Print to PDF” option. So I just copy and paste the cover letter into the same Word file as my resume and then print to PDF. My email is a short note basically saying my application for the open position is attached and I look forward to hearing from them soon.

        2. LarsTheRealGirl*

          If you’re on a Mac, Preview allows you to rearrange, remove and add pages to PDFs through a simple drag and drop of the thumbnails.

    2. Yet another Kat*

      Good luck! FWIW whenever I am hiring for non-intern positions, I do not require a cover letter, and I am perfectly happy not to receive one. I’m actually surprised that this internship didn’t ask for one since at that level, you resume wouldn’t really adequately represent your qualifications. However, if a cover letter is not required, and you send one anyway, it better be clearly written with the specific position in mind and not a generic one.

      1. OP5*

        Thanks! I was also really surprised that they did not ask for a cover letter like all the other internship postings I have seen in my field, which is why I wrote to Alison. I put a lot of work and do research on the company and the position before writing each cover letter. I have had jobs before where the hiring manager told me they decided to hire me as soon as they read my cover letter, so I guess it pays off in the end :)

  16. Knitting Cat Lady*

    #4: I’m usually one of the first in the office each morning.

    Custom here is that people say ‘Morning!’ to the whole room when they arrive. The echo is variable.

    And at least for me the delay time can be a few seconds, depending on what I’m doing.

    Same goes for leaving.

    And if you meet people around lunch time it is common to greet them with ‘Mahlzeit!’ which roughly translates as ‘Have a good meal!’.

  17. Jo*

    Apologies to the commenters above, but “I’m not a morning person” or “I didn’t feel like it” is no excuse for not greeting someone . It’s a two second task that should come automatically. Nobody expects you to stop for small talk, but if you can’t deal with social norms like greetings because it’s too early/you’re not in the mood, I’m going to doubt your ability to deal with customers. It’s a part of being professional. If you aren’t able to greet someone in the morning before your first cup of coffee, I wonder how you navigate traffic.

    We had someone in the office who, for her first few months, was known as “the one who never says hello” because not everyone knew her name yet, but they’d certainly noticed her behaviour. Don’t be that person.

    1. Freya*

      If it’s a rote two second thing then it’s meaningless and a total waste of time. It says nothing about how they feel, what they think of you or whether they even actually noticed your existence. It’s just a subroutine. I can’t see any value in caring about such a pointless, meaningless exercise. I think people who get hung up on whether others greet them in this way are petty, self-important attention seekers – they feel lessened if others don’t acknowledge them because their self-esteem is so weak and dependent on external factors.

      1. Pollygrammer*

        “Meaningless” social rituals are everywhere, though, and they’re important. Their presence doesn’t mean much, but their absence means “you’re beneath my notice” or “you’re not worth my time.” Think about thanking the person who bags your groceries–do they really need or want your sincere gratitude? Of course not. But if you don’t thank them, you’re essentially saying “you’re not worth acknowledging even though we are interacting.”

        1. Les G*

          Exactly. It seems like sometimes certain commenters on this site become sociolinguists when they’re trying to justify why they shouldn’t have to participate in a workplace politeness ritual. Just say hello. It’s not meaningless.

          1. RainbowGrunge*

            I have been part of the “No need for meaningless social interactions at work” group before and unfortunately it took a tragic situation to break me of it. I had a coworker who wasn’t much of a talker. Ran into her in the bathroom and, it’s so weird, I remember thinking “thank goodness it’s Arya. I won’t have to talk with her.” Because I hate it when people acknowledge each other, pee simultaneously, then wash their hands continuing a conversation…so yeah, neither Arya or myself acknowledged each other in the slightest. And I loved it.

            2 days later Arya committed suicide.

            We were not close. We worked in very separate areas of the company and had maybe had 2 conversations in our years here. One of which was when I had to go over some disciplinary action with her.

            She had a lot going on in her personal life. Most of which I found out when working with her family to settle her last pay, life insurance, and 401k info, so I have tried not to feel guilty about not just saying “Hi” in the bathroom…but I still wonder, if people at work, myself of course included, had gone just a little out of our way to smile, it it could have made a difference.

            1. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

              Hmm. That is certainly food for thought. And I have to acknowledge that sometimes the little nice gestures can and do mean a whole lot to people. As a sensitive person myself, I can assure you that I do notice the little things like whether someone says “hi” or ignores me, whether someone uses my name. We have an increasingly disconnected society, so I guess my conclusion has to be: yes, it wouldn’t hurt to say “hi” and smile in the bathroom.

            2. $!$!*

              I am sorry that you have to think about that. Here is one internet stranger saying that you shouldn’t feel guilty about that last interaction before she committed suicide

        2. AvonLady Barksdale*

          Very much this. It takes a second out of my day to say hello to the person I pass. Barely a second to wave a quick greeting if I don’t feel like talking. It’s, “I acknowledge that we are in the same space and you are a human being.” Not meaningless at all.

          As I mentioned in another comment, I think going around to each individual person and saying hello specifically is a bit unusual, but I would be pretty weirded out if I passed a co-worker in the hallway and he or she didn’t acknowledge my presence.

          1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

            Agreed with all of this.

            One of the offices I work in is filled to the brim with engineers (insert Sheldon references here). I think I kind of freaked them out when I first started spending time in their office, because I would make eye contact and greet them as I passed them in the hallway. Seriously, brief eye contact, maybe a nod, and “How’s it going” or “Morning!”

            I think I was the only one who did this because I’d see everyone pass others and nobody acknowledged the other’s existence. Anyway, it’s been 5 years now and I’ve noticed that more people are now greeting in passing.

      2. WS*

        I’m a super, super introvert – I would love not to say hello to anyone ever, and smalltalk is vile. But! I am also able to recognise that other people are not the same as me and see value in a small, neutral-to-positive social interaction, so I perform it as part of my workplace persona.

      3. Wednesday Mouse*

        Wow. I think that’s completely off the mark. It may be a rote greeting, but it’s not a waste of time. It’s the kind of social nicety which lubricates a lot of general social interaction. “Good morning” is a pleasant acknowledgement that someone has entered the workplace (or wherever).

        I agree that people who care too much about such a greeting are petty and may have their priorities skewed, but generally saying “good morning” isn’t a meaningless exercise at all.

      4. introvert?*

        I mean that’s the same argument about saying please and thankyou. It doesn’t really matter if you see it as pointless, you will be percieved as rude. Also people like being greeted, especially in customer service because you’re basically acknowledging they’re a person.

        1. only acting normal*

          Yet (apparently) the UK places less emphasis on greetings and more on the Ps&Qs, and in the US it’s the other way around. So we come across as slightly rude or brusque to each other… awesome! ;-D

      5. LQ*

        Yup. It totally is. They totally are. But they still rule the world so push back at your own peril. It is a we are humans in this crazy ship of life together acknowledgement and then you move on. You can totally not do it. You may pay a social and professional price for this, but it may be a price you are happily willing to pay.
        For most is about a moment of not being alone, a human to human contact moment and when you remove that you’re not acknowledging their humanity and they may not see yours. You can counter act this with things you think are valuable, but they may not think those are valuable, so again, it is valuable to understand the price of the things we do and do not do.

      6. pleaset*

        “If it’s a rote two second thing then it’s meaningless and a total waste of time.”


        If I run into someone in an unexpected way, sure, say hi. The same person, the same time, every day in the same place in the office we’re in all day 180+ days a years? I don’t see the point other than people wanting it. Which is kind of needy.

        I was born and grew up in NYC. If I lived in, say, Tokyo, it’d be different.

        ““Meaningless” social rituals are everywhere, though, and they’re important.”
        Sure. And I think it’s worth thinking about them critically and pushing back against ones that seem tedious or outdated, not just keeping doing them because we do them.

        1. Justin*

          But I’m from NYC too. I don’t open my mouth to everyone, but if I make eye contact I offer a “hi” to my teammates.

          I don’t know that I like it, but there are a lot of things I’m going to push back on first before this. It makes people see me as more approachable.

        2. AvonLady Barksdale*

          I worked in a giant office in NYC, saw the same people every day for over 8 years, and still said good morning in the elevators. I think I encountered one person who felt like you do, and it was very noticed; she was perceived as standoffish and cold, which in her position (we provided support to a huge team) was way outside the norm. And all because she wouldn’t return greetings when she walked down the hall. This would have taken a nanosecond out of her day. We all have to live in the same space, so it behooves us to recognize that other people exist in that space. To me, it’s the same principle as not wrapping oneself around the pole in the subway; acknowledge that other people exist and leave some room for other people’s hands on the pole.

          I have to say, I just don’t get it. I don’t understand why acknowledging someone is so meaningless, nor do I understand why expected a brief return of a greeting makes me “needy”. Don’t greet me, fine. But don’t respond, even with a nod and a quick smile?

          1. pleaset*

            I return greetings if someone does. I often don’t start it if it’s the same thing every day. I’ll walk in and say nothing. If someone says something, I’ll respond. It’s annoying to me, but I do.

            “she was perceived as standoffish and cold”
            Wait, was not doing greetings the only manifestation of this? That is, she didn’t do rote greetings but was engaged in other ways, and yet you perceived her as cold? That’s wild.

            OTOH if she avoid pleasantries in all situations, then I get it. But I’m not advocating that. I’m talking about rote greetings upon arrivals.

            “To me, it’s the same principle as not wrapping oneself around the pole in the subway; ”
            That is literally depriving them of something they need to use. I find it odd you think that is the same principle. One is about needing to hold something to not fall. The other is about wanting (needing? you say you’re not needy so I guess it’s not needing) an interaction where nothing particularly bad will happen without it.

            1. AvonLady Barksdale*

              I actually loved this woman and we had a great relationship. But I did find it strange that she would pass people in the hall who would say hello to her and she wouldn’t respond. I find that off-putting in anyone, even a beloved colleague.

              And the pole thing, yes, I do think the same principle applies, in that it is a social nicety we perform to acknowledge that we are not the only ones occupying a space. If someone is wrapped around a pole, then in reality, I can find somewhere else to stand, but it makes the pole-wrapper look self-centered.

              Now, I’m not advocating that one must enter an office and loudly shout, “Good morning, my neighbors!” to everyone present. Nor do I think it’s required to go around and greet everyone. I just that it’s part of sharing space– if I see you in the morning and we make eye contact, I can take a second and say “hey”.

        3. Observer*

          This is not a NY thing at all. Sure, not greeting strangers in the street, is a NY thing. But not greeting your coworkers in the morning? Nope. All of my New Yorker coworkers say Hi or the like when passing in the hallway, etc.

          Even New Yorkers like to be acknowledged.

        4. biobottt*

          To me it would seem weirder to ignore someone you see every day, and may have known for years, than just say hi and acknowledge that they exist.

      7. Spider*

        It’s not meaningless — it provides a small amount of lubrication to the social engine, so to speak. It’s a tiny act that gets added to the pool of acts that build good-will between human beings. Paradoxically, the failure to perform this tiny act subtracts significantly more good-will than performing it adds, because it communicates rudeness whether you intend it to nor not, so it costs you more to not perform it.

        Logically, then, it’s worth the infinitesimally small effort to vocalize a monosyllabic, “Hi,” when someone greets you.

      8. Artemesia*

        For some reason there are people who seriously think ‘How are you?’ is ‘meaningless’ because the person doesn’t want to hear about the state of your digestion. But it isn’t an information seeking phrase just as ‘good morning’ is not a command. It is a way of expressing “I recognize you as a fellow human being and wish you well.” i.e. it is a way to grease social interactions that follow and help create pleasant connections among people who work together. A person who can’t manage this will be regarded as unpleasant and people don’t go out of their way for people they regard as unpleasant.

      9. Observer*

        Oh, yes, how self important of us peons who actually want our existence and presence to be acknowledged!

        Has it occurred to you that your take might come off as both self-important and petty, as well as just somewhat inhuman?

        I don’t know what you are actually like in person. But I don’t think I would want to work with someone who is so judgemental of the normal human need for basic acknowledgement or of social niceties.

    2. AliceBD*

      I don’t always greet people coming in because I don’t register it — I’ve already been at work for 30-60 minutes and I’m absorbed in what I am doing. Similarly I don’t necessarily call out hello when I enter because people who are there before me are likely to be on calls. It has nothing to do with time of day. And my office like many does not have customers or clients coming in outside of scheduled meetings in the conference room, so greeting coworkers has no impact on how well anyone does their jobs. I think greetings are a very office-culture-specific thing.

    3. Anononon*

      But I read the letter as the boss specifically wanting the OP to seek him out to greet him each morning. Depending on the office set up, that could take some time. My office is relatively close to the entrance, but my supervisor’s is in the back across the whole office.

      1. Artemesia*

        Maybe the supervisor wants to know when you arrive and that would be a good reason to require that. In the OP’s case, the supervisor was pretty clearly uncomfortable with the idea that the OP would be in the office when she was supposedly out of the office — he wants to know who is in the office.

        1. Anononon*

          That would be weirdly controlling. If there are attendance issues, they should be addressed directly.

          1. Luna*

            Yeah, I’m not an hourly employee so don’t need to clock in and out. I would find it very off-putting if my boss was monitoring the exact minute when I arrived every morning.

    4. MLB*

      I wholeheartedly disagree. I am not a morning person and while I can be civil, I don’t want some bubbly happy chatty person encountering me first thing in the morning. Just as I have to accept that others are happy morning people, they have to accept that I am not. I’ve been this way all my life and it’s never led to anyone saying I’m “unprofessional”. I will say “hello” or “morning” in passing, but being at work is not an automatic requirement to be social immediately to your co-workers.

      1. Holly*

        But that’s exactly what’s being said… the original commenter is saying “hello” and “important” are important niceties, and that not being a morning person is not an excuse.
        No one is saying you have to have full on conversations with people in the morning.

      2. Baby Fishmouth*

        I actually changed my hours to start 30 minutes earlier than my coworker who sits beside me, because she would be so exuberantly happy and chatty in the morning that I would get worn out as soon as I arrived.

        Having 30 minutes to myself in the morning to put my stuff away, check my email, etc. etc., before I have to talk to anyone makes a HUGE difference in how I feel the rest of the day.

      3. Bubbly happy chatty*

        While I completely understand that some people are morning people and others are not, and respect the fact that not everyone will have the same personalities, I have to wonder if anyone has actually confronted their co-workers about this. Perhaps if you mention to your overly chatty co-worker that they are chatting too much, or the fact that you are not a morning person, they might be willing to accommodate your needs, as you accommodate theirs.

    5. Holly*

      Agreed – being professional is a job requirement. That includes *basic* social niceties like saying hello or good morning to people you share a space with. Also, “introverts” (which is not a medical condition and does not mean what some commenters seem to think it means) and people who aren’t morning people, are reasonably social and professional people all the time! It’s not a real thing to excuse yourself from professional norms because of a personality characteristic like that.

      In OP’s case, the boss’s behavior is the one that is strange because he’s making it a requirement that she say hello. It would be different to advise “hey, it comes off as unprofessional if you do not say hello.” But the comments above are also very strange!

  18. atexit8*


    I worked in an accounting department as a file clerk.
    Every one of the employees in that department about 15 or so person were “required” to go to the accounting manager and the asst accounting manager’s offices to say goodby when the employee leaves for the day.

    Fortunately I walked away from the job when a co-worker who was training me partially deleted my work on the network servers in her bid to sabotage me. She reported my “carelessness” to the accounting manager.


    1. Mookie*

      I thought that kind of imposed forelock-tugging went out with the last century (or the century before it). I’m assuming this was meant to be delivered with an air of gratitude for their continued employment, as well.

      1. atexit8*

        Yeah, super ridiculous.

        I have worked 25+ years in the technical field and never encountered that sort of thing before.

        I had taken the file clerk job, because I was unemployed.
        They offer medical insurance after 3 months too.
        Not meant to be.


    2. Bea*

      I assume this behavior is more of a way to confirm everyone is there. Otherwise at say 2:30 you realize Judy never made it to work at 8. Only to find out she’s now missing…

      It also gives the boss a chance for a “yes, good morning. I have this project for you btw.”

      It’s strange everyone attributes malice to a greeting tradition that’s in place.

      1. atexit8*

        They use your handprint to clock in and clock out.
        Hard to miss that.

        What I mentioned is only when the employee leaves for the day.


    3. TootsNYC*

      also, this is an end-of-day thing.
      My subordinate can leave at the end of the day without being “dismissed,” and sometimes he’ll leave a little late or a little early.

      Sometimes stuff comes up really close to the end of the day, and it would be fair for me to ask him to handle it (if it’s short), or I might be glad of his input. So it’s helpful to me to realize that he has actually left. So I appreciate it that he says goodbye on his way out the door; then I know he has left the building.

  19. Excitable Sim*

    #3 – Just be sure all no clippings are ever left on your desk, as I can tell you from personal experience nothing is more gross than going to a coworker’s desk and accidently putting your hand down on their dirt-encrusted, yellow fingernail trimming.

    1. FidgetFingers*

      Hahaha oh my god, the horror!! I’m definitely conscientious about that – my ultimate dream is that no one ever knows I do this, so I’m always cleaning my desk.

  20. Andraste's Knicker Weasels*

    OP3 – I think you’re not quite The Office Nail Clipper. Like Alison said, you have an office with a door. But the most important difference is that you actually trim your cuticles, not your nails.

    Nails, being so much harder, make that CLKT! sound when cut and have a tendency to fly off to parts unknown (I think this is probably the thing people hate most; the idea of running into someone’s nail clippings is gross). Cuticle skin makes no noise and, IME anyway, stays on the nipper blades until you brush it off.

    That said, I agree that using a fidget spinner or cuticle cream is worth a shot and could help limit skin damage or potential infection. I’m a skin-picker when anxious and I know how hard it is to stop. Good luck! <3

    1. Guacamole Bob*

      I recently got a fidget toy that might actually be better than a fidget spinner for OP3 – it’s called a roller chain fidget (I got mine from Tom’s Fidgets on Amazon). It looks like a small circle of bike chain links with little rubber bits on them, and among other things I spin it around on the ends of my fingers. I hadn’t noticed until reading this that depending on how you move it, it can sort of massage your cuticles. There are other kinds of fidget rings that might provide different sensations for your fingers.

      I don’t know anything about compulsions of the type OP5 describes, but given some of the suggestions others have made about distracting your hands, fidget rings might be worth a shot.

      1. Guacamole Bob*

        I noticed that another fidget toy I was thinking of getting is labelled as a “sensory finger ring”, so there’s another search term for you.

    2. BuffaLove*

      Yes, exactly. We have an office nail clipper, and the gross parts are the clicking noise that you can hear across the room, and the fact that someone ended up with his hand-me-down keyboard and found nail clippings in it. Clipping cuticles or little hangnails is not even remotely an issue as long as you don’t leave a mess and aren’t doing it where people can see you.

    3. Pollygrammer*

      There are also cuticle nippers that look less like nail clippers, so that might help make the ritual a little less noticeable.

    4. Jennifer Thneed*

      PSA: wet nails don’t have spring in them. Cut your nails after washing your hair or the dishes (if you don’t use gloves) and it makes a huge difference. Even just washing your hands first makes a noticeable difference.

  21. Meredith Brooks*

    #3 and #4 are both me! I’ve skin picked since I was a teenager (over 20 years), so I wish you luck and wellness!!

    As for #4 – my first boss made me greet him and say goodbye. He was a micromanager, so in his case, I think it was a power move.

  22. T*

    LW#2 your boss is being unprofessional. I had a boss like this that shared details of her sex life and the bizarre fact that she wanted to pose for playboy if asked. I should have left as she expected me to share intimate details in kind which I would not do. She ended up telling people I was cold because I would not overshare and “bond” with her. At the end of the day she is your boss and should act like one, your boss is not your friend or confidant.

    1. Sylvan*

      Oh, wow, ew.

      I have worked for a boss like that. Weirdly, she started oversharing after I reported a problem with another employee and expected that she manage it. It seemed like she was trying to step out of the “manager” role and into “friend/confidant/mom.”

      OP, I don’t know if your boss would even think of that move. Your manager sounds like she is most likely simply overflowing with the urge to talk about herself with abandon. Try to stay on work subjects and try not to get derailed with the others.

    2. Iris Eyes*

      T I’m 98% sure that that would fall under the category of sexual harassment. I had a female manager who was similar, I knew WAY too much about her sex life.

    3. OP #2*

      Some of the stuff with my supervisor has also been sexual, but related more to sexual abuse. As a survivor, I’m sympathetic, but I also wasn’t expecting to encounter triggers like that on my first day of work.

  23. Persimmons*

    LW #4 My guess is that the boss was surprised to see OP there when OP wasn’t expected in, and is hiding his desire to micromanage OP’s comings and goings through a veneer of demonstrative etiquette.

  24. hambone*

    #1 – I sometimes wonder if my company’s recruiter notices when people (like me) have set our LinkedIn or Indeed as “open to recruiters” – I have to wonder if they can tell on their recruiting accounts. Or, when I did the trial of LinkedIn Premium and hadn’t noticed at first that it plasters a badge onto your page announcing that you’re a premium member!

    1. Sarah*

      I know our recruiter often gets emails of “this person recently posted their resume and has all the qualifications you’re looking for” only to see that the person already works for us, so clearly has started looking.

  25. Anon Anon Anon*

    Re LW #4, this was off-hours, right? For early mornings and late nights, I do think it’s incumbent on the new arrival to alert those already there that the new arrival has arrived. And that any noises and such aren’t an intruder.

    The new person needs to swing by any lighted office or area (or at least say loudly “It’s Arya”).

    I have been at the office plenty of times late at night and heard unusual noises. It’s not fair to make me get up and go look for what is causing the noise (there’s no way to tell from my office whether it’s a serial killer or Karen from Marketing). That’s a scary situation. It is much more fair for the new person to swing by “Hi I’m here for about 5 minutes picking up the Stark file.”

    1. LQ*

      Oh…I didn’t get the impression that this was off hours, but yeah, if it was I’d definitely do some kind of greeting if the person is fully expecting to be entirely alone. I’ve had people sneak up on me when I was supposed to be the only person in the building that day. People have said hello when they saw I was here, but on more than one occasion I’ve had my hand on the phone to call building security until they did.

    2. Bea*

      Yes, in those cases I absolutely agree.

      I used to work in an office attached to our warehouse. While working alone there is a lot of noises coming from the warehouse I’m used to but if nobody is supposed to be there, anyone stopping by alerted me first. They just popped in with a “Hey Bea, it’s me, Rob! I’m doing some maintenance this afternoon.”

      It’s also because what if you’re hurt? Fall down the stairs or something? Say hello and goodbye for both people’s safety.

      But I’m in an industry that is standard and nobody really just sneaks in or out. If someone did, we’d find them strange to say the least.

  26. There is a Life Outside the Library*

    Ughhhhh to #4. I work in an open office (luckily with very like minded introverts) and there’s usually at least a general grunt to the room. But seeking out the boss to say hello? Reminds me of my old job where my boss expected me to stop by her office and give her the low down on everything that happened that day before I could leave. She was a professional time waster to say the least.

  27. Hey-eh*

    OP#3 I have the same issue. It started when I was thirteen due to anxiety and I’ve never been able to stop. I won’t even realize I’m doing it, and then all of a sudden my lap and chair are covered in bits of skin. It’s incredibly embarrassing in my personal and professional life. You seem to have it more under control than I do so please keep doing whatever is working for you.

    1. FidgetFingers*

      I feel for you! For me, some weeks and days it’s way worse. I can’t even necessarily tie it to anxiety or stress, it seems to fluctuate a little more randomly. Maybe some of these suggestions from commentors on my post will be helpful to you! <3

      1. TeapotSweaterCrocheter*

        Hi FidgetFingers and Hey-eh! Fellow skin-picker (also trichotillomania – hair pulling) here. I know that some comments above have mentioned dermotillomania/trich/BFRB’s, but I wanted to chime in and say that you are not alone, and you have to do what works for you. I’ve been through CBT but am currently “treating” my trich with just regular therapy for my anxiety.

        FF, you say you can’t necessarily tie it to anxiety or stress; one thing I’ve noticed is that I will pull even when I’m not stressed or anxious because it is one of the only things that quiets my mind. When I’m at work, I do a million things at once and I’m fine. But when I’m home, if I’m not reading a book, it’s like my brain gets bored. I can’t even watch TV without also playing a game on my iPad or crocheting. So, just another thing to consider – do what works for you, but recognize it may not all be stress related. As to your original question, I don’t think you will be considered “the office nail clipper” and it sounds like you’re being as mindful of it as possible.

        1. FidgetFingers*

          YES, this feels much more similar to what I experience. It’s a mindless reaction to lack of stimulus. Here’s hoping the fidget tools I’ve ordered upon another commentor’s recommendation help!

  28. MLB*

    #2 – I feel for you. I had a boss who was an inappropriate sharer. Not so much TMI type stuff, but just inappropriate in a manager/subordinate way. One of my team members reported her to HR in the first few months of her working there, and 2 of my other team members were called in to share their experiences as well. She pulled me into her office and asked if I had talked to HR because she had been reported. She caught me off guard, so I just said no and told her I had no idea what was going on (which was true), but I very much regret not going to HR myself and letting them know she approached me. I agree with Alison, that since you’re leaving I would focus on getting out of the awkward conversation in the moment, but if this ever starts to happen again, I would definitely say something to the person, and if it doesn’t stop then report it.

  29. reality king*

    OP #1, on the confidential job search … Allison is 100% correct that ethical hiring managers maintain confidentiality regarding job searches. But it’s worth noting that in the real world this ideal is not always realized. In the org where I work, bosses commonly share info about applications they receive from other units.

    1. TootsNYC*

      I know people who view “being ethical” as “never telling your direct boss” but feel comfortable asking coworkers about you, if they feel they can trust that the coworker won’t tell your direct boss.

      I’ve never personally heard of someone getting screwed by their boss finding out (or figuring out), though I’ve heard plenty of stories about a boss finding out (or figuring out) someone was looking and then just quietly waiting to see how it shakes out.
      So for the most part in my industry, it works out.

    2. TootsNYC*

      “applications they receive from other units”

      I think this is different, though. As an applicant, I would actually -expect- this to happen for an intra-org application.

    3. Jennifer Thneed*

      You’re talking about people wanting to transfer between different areas of the same company? Totally not the same thing at all, even IF they have to go thru the same application process.

  30. Hellanon*

    And if you are applying to a variety of jobs, please check your cover letter language to make sure that what you are saying about your aptitude for/interest in the job being offered actually aligns with the job. I recently posted a job ad to Indeed looking for a research assistant – the description mentioned survey research, assessment, etc. What I got were cover letters touting the applicants’ skills in growing bacterial cultures & doing DNA analysis, their passion for biomedical research, and in one memorable case their skill at skinning mammals. Please don’t do this – if your skills are in lateral areas, explain how they would transfer. And don’t talk about butchering if it’s not a butcher shop…

      1. OP5*

        Thanks for the advice!
        I do a lot of research on the company and the position before writing each cover letter and spend a lot of time to go over every sentence to make sure there is no mistake and everything flows together. I ask myself what are my relevant skills, knowledge, personality traits and interests that align closely with the position. I also talk about my previous experience if I have any. I have had jobs before where the hiring manager told me they decided to hire me as soon as they read my cover letter, so I guess it pays off in the end to spend hours doing this :)

    1. epi*

      I love this story!

      I work in health policy and we have a few signs up around the building informing grad students that: showing up here is not how you apply for a job here, you need to check out the online job postings; people who work here generally must have social science backgrounds.

      1. OP5*

        I feel like those poor grad students were told by their parents: “Just go there and ask for a job, that’s how I got my job!” lol

  31. Justin*

    It’s a different culture, but when I lived in S. Korea, I taught at a school and was told by my, uh, handler (the youngest teacher they could find and thus force to help me with all of the various legal/alien status aspects) that I needed to go see the principal every morning in his office and say hello to him. I was pretty sure no one else did this, but being, you know, a black guy far from home, I wasn’t about to argue.

    So I would go into his office, and he was never (expletive) there. I did this for a month, and then eventually I stopped.

    So, do it for a while, accept that it’s just some weirdness, and he’ll probably forget about it eventually anyway.

    (The principal, who spoke about six words of English that he liked to shout at me (he was a nice guy though), was literally always just walking around the neighborhood. I ran into him at the grocery store or while exercising more than I saw him at the school.)

  32. FidgetFingers*

    Hi! OP3 here. Thank you all for your amazing suggestions. I’m on my way to purchase a moisturizing stick for after hand-washing, etc. and will look into some of the discreet fidget tools you’ve suggested. As much as I wish I could bring some putty or something with me to work, it wouldn’t quite fit the scene. :)

  33. some neurosis about identity makes it difficult to choose a user name*

    #4 Our workplace is spread out across a wide area and most of our work is outdoors. Think wildlife preserve ranger but with little contact with the public (whew!) and the constant possibility of anguishing emergencies (argh!). Members of the small staff encounter one another at unpredictable intervals. Until the arrival of our newest (and youngest) staff member, we had fallen into the habit of just starting to talk about tasks or happenings immediately, without pleasantries. But the new staff member says “Good morning!” when she first sees you as well as “have a good day!” as you part, and it is… pleasant. So, as ourk equivalent of the boss, I not only started doing so myself but also drew other’s attention to how nice it is that she greets everyone so pleasantly, suggesting (although certainly not ordering) that we all adopt the practice as one more of our conscious efforts to bolster ourselves for the various heartbreaks that are built into our jobs. So, upon reflection, this introvert votes for saying hello.

    1. RWM*

      This is such a nice, pleasant comment and it made me smile. I like seeing the ways that new people/new energy can change a workplace, and even nicer for her contribution to be acknowledged by you. <3

  34. Employment Lawyer*

    4. My boss is requiring me to greet him
    This is a perfectly valid idea, and it has two good effects which you didn’t list.

    Most obviously, it gives your boss an instant way to know (without requiring any extra work from him) when you arrive and are in the office.

    Also, it also gives him at least one opportunity every day for the “oh yeah, I was meaning to tell Cersei about that dragon thing” to pop into his head when you say hello.

    I think AAM is wrong to list this as petty. Perhaps it’s annoying to you but it falls squarely in the category of acceptable asks. It might help if you read this as a request to “check in on arrival,” which is what it really is. Because after all, would you really check in without uttering the word “hello?”

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      But it’s not necessarily that; she wouldn’t need to check in because she was just popping by to pick something up. If it IS that, though, then he should explain that context and realize he’ll sound petty and tyrannical otherwise.

      1. TootsNYC*

        actually, “just popping in” is when I would be MORE likely to want some sort of touch-base moment, because it’s unexpected and not fitting the pattern.

        It’s the “not in the pattern” moments that I think need contact. (When i got my first cell phone, my MIL wanted me to call our husbands on the way back from the baby shower to tell them we were going to arrive in 15 minutes, right exactly at the time she’d told them to expect us back. No, I’m not using my very few minutes to tell someone something they already know! But if we’d been late, or early, then I would probably have made that call already.)

        now…for me, if my employee emailed (or whatever) to say, “I’m going to swing by and get that file sometime this afternoon,” then that would probably be all I’d need.

        But to see her in the office briefly and not know why, or how long she was staying/did stay–that would disorient me a bit and I’d want some sort of touching base.

        1. Delphine*

          The normal thing to do would be to pause in the hall when you saw her and say, “Hey, aren’t you out today?” And then she could say, “Just popped by to pick something up.”

  35. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

    For some reason #4’s issue reminds me of my trip to Bermuda (wonderful place to visit if you have the chance). I was blown away by how polite everyone was. People of all ages from school age to elderly, from all walks of life would get on the public bus say ‘good morning/afternoon’ to the driver then turn to the rest of the bus and say the same. Everyone on the bus would then reply to the greeting.

    Every shop I went into I was greeted with ‘good morning/afternoon’ and then the transaction would start.

    I made the grave error of walking up to a counter to ask a question and the grandmotherly person stopped me and told me in no uncertain terms it was expected to start all interactions with a greeting and explained that they are taught at a young age the social niceties and take them very seriously. To the extent if a school kid is misbehaving or caught not being polite (greetings especially) they are routinely reported to their school and face consequences there.

    Honestly, it was a good lesson for me. I catch myself launching in to things in both my private and professional lives and make an effort to reel it back to a ‘good morning/afternoon’ and it makes for a better exchange all around.

    1. Artemesia*

      This is the iron law of social intercourse in France as well. Start any interaction without a polite greeting and you are likely to get a very negative reaction (and then talk about how rude the French are while they are talking about what barbarians American tourists are.). The same is true entering a shop — a general ‘bon jour’ is just expected.

      1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

        Oh yes, I’d forgotten about France. Yes, I remember vividly the watching a group of tourists (I think they were English) being walked away from in a shop for failure to to greet. Haha… My husband was given the key to a bathroom in Martinique, because he had a very pleasant exchange (complete with greeting) with the owner as he struggled with his french. The other tourists who sat down and barked out their orders were told that there wasn’t a bathroom and was pointed to the public one a block away.

        Moral of the story… Greetings count!

      2. lazuli*

        I lived in Italy for a year, about two decades ago, and I still can’t leave a small shop or restaurant without making eye contact with the owner/server/cashier and calling out a cheerful “Thank you!” It feels so rude to just… leave. (I also greet them when I come in, but I think I”ve always done that.)

  36. Cat*

    #3–I am also a compulsive cuticle trimmer. I think the heading is mislabeled. Cutting your nails is way different than cutting your cuticles. In my opinion, what makes trimming nails at work so horrifying is that everyone within a one mile radius knows what you’re doing because of the SOUND. Cuticle trimmers don’t make noise. Sure, as far as grossness goes, it’s still not great, but at least no one really knows unless they happen to see you. Nail trimming is way worse.

    1. FidgetFingers*

      This is very reassuring. And that heading is my fault, that’s how I labelled my email :)

  37. Ed*

    I’ll be honest. I refuse to send cover letters. I think they’re a complete waste of time and friends of mine who work in recruitment have told me they never read cover letters.
    I can honestly say it hasn’t impacted my job search ever. The resume is what matters. If I had something I needed to clarify or some explanation I needed to give, id see the use for an extra cover letter.
    Plus I’m seeing plenty of companies saying they specifically don’t want cover letters.
    Just my experience.

    1. Justin*

      Your experience is unique and anecdotal! That doesn’t render it useless (to you), but, as you said, just yours!

      Some positions, yeah, sure, but anything where you need to be able to write, anything where people are likely to have similar resumes…. it helps make a difference for anyone good at hiring.

    2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      In my field, if you don’t submit a cover letter you wouldn’t even be considered.

      But apparently in my husband’s field they’re not that common. He writes them, but when he hires he rarely gets them. My mind was blown when he told me that.

    3. Artemesia*

      My daughter lost her job when her office closed and she was on maternity leave. When she started using AAM advice on her cover letter, she immediately started getting interviews and now has a really good job that pays about a third more than her former pretty good job which already paid pretty well. It is one of those things that might not matter but is low cost and might make all the difference.

    4. TootsNYC*

      also, it depends on the cover letter.

      I’ve gotten cover letters that were really cursory, and I could usually tell by a quick skim that they were going to be. If that’s all you’re going to put in your cover letter, then yes, they’re not much use.

      But I’ve gotten cover letters that were more powerful, and they do make a good impression.

    5. biobottt*

      Seems like this would be very field-specific. I don’t think anyone in my field would get anywhere without a cover letter.

      1. OP5*

        Yes, I also think it is very field-specific. All the internships I saw in my field required a cover letter, that is why I was so surprised when it was not required and, after some research, emailed Alison to ask what she thought.

    6. Jennifer Thneed*

      You can’t actually say it hasn’t impacted your job search. You CAN say that you’ve always found jobs when you’ve been looking, but you really don’t know how many interviews you didn’t get because of no cover letter. But hey, if you’re working, it’s all good! Because you’re right that they take time.

  38. Bones*

    Removed because it’s not on-topic for these letters, but you’re welcome to post it on the open thread or email it to me directly.

  39. Lucille2*

    #4 – It could be cultural, like regional or office culture. If you’re the only person who isn’t greeting people, then it could be perceived as rude. I visited my company’s office in Dublin for awhile and noticed how everyone greeted each other sincerely in the morning when they arrived and said goodbye to each person as they left. I honestly don’t know if this is an Irish thing, or just my company as it was a very international workforce. But that behavior would have been considered a bit eccentric in my home office.

    Or…if it’s just the boss who demands it, I see that as a power thing – especially in the context you described. If it were me, I would just go with it, but keep that tidbit of info in my back pocket when it comes to deciding my longterm career plans. I can’t work for power-tripping bosses, but that’s just me.

  40. GibbsRule#18*

    Re #4. All of this discussion about greetings makes me incredibly grateful that I work on a different floor from my bosses, who are rarely in their offices anyway (academia), and I see no one as I go to my out-of-the-way office. I have worked in and and actually left a job where my morning greeting would be met with an update from my boss about everything that had happened to her since the last time I saw her (the day before). Mondays were hell. It was exhausting and disruptive and she did not take kindly to me saying, after a few minutes, “well, gotta get back to this report/task etc!”

  41. batshytecrazy*

    LW #2, I think you must work in my office. My supervisor & peers think that being a team player means vastly oversharing personal stuff & supporting each other while having the occasional stress-cry at work. The boss thinks this is just great. I am not a “team player” & just want to get my work done. At this point I just want to get a job where I sit alone in a room all day. Thanks for letting me vent!

  42. Ann O'Nemity*

    LW #2

    One useful phrase for responding to any kind of personal griping but especially health related issues is, “____ is the worst.” Such as, “back injuries are the worst,” or “kidney stones are the worst,” or “potty training is the worst.” If this is said in a sympathetic tone, it seems to soothe the complainer without encouraging them to go on.

    I think I got this phrase from this site, actually, but I can’t remember if it was originally Alison’s or another poster’s.

  43. Peaches*

    #2 – My supervisor is a HUGE oversharer as well. This includes graphic details about her daugter’s bed wetting habits and what her doctor has to say about it, how she herself to medication for knee pain and became extremely constipated, how her partner who she lives with has psychological issues and needs counseling (and proceeds to list all of her psychological issues and reasons why she thinks partner is the way she is), etc. After three years, she’s finally subsided talking to me about these things (at least in some degree), I find that it’s helpful to turn towards my computer screen and continue working, that way she can see that I’m busy and do not have time for deep, personal issues. I also try to limit my commentary, and only respond with “mhm” or other related one word answers when she asks my opinion on what she has said.

    1. Admin Amber*

      Luckily I don’t work at the place I had an oversharing office manager who was my supervisor. I had to tell her to stop as we work together, reminded her I was a subordinate, and she was making it weird. I was ostracized for it too, but it was so worth it to not have to endure her life details. I am also a private person and do not share my personal life at work. I am so blessed to work somewhere now where people mind their business and work. There are so many fools in management.

  44. Jane*

    RE #1 –

    I found out from my coworker that one of the companies I applied for had reached out to her and just “wanted to know if they knew me.” Thankfully, my coworker was really chill and and professional, but I was certainly annoyed at the company for doing that.

    I always wonder, should I have reached out to that company’s recruitment leadership team and let them know that one of their recruiters did that? For context, it’s a large tech company out in the west, so not sure if it was worth doing.

  45. ThisIshRightHere*

    On #4, I truly don’t understand what’s so hard or distasteful about greeting someone. When I first started my current job, I was really put off by my employees walking into the office past my open door, often making eye contact with me, and not at least mumbling a perfunctory “good morning.” I was raised that “speaking” when you encounter someone, especially if you entered a space where they already were, and especially if it’s your first time encountering them that day, is the most basic form of politeness. So much so, that when I encounter people who don’t greet others (or worse yet, don’t respond when greeted by others), I wonder who raised them. “Hihowareyou–Finethanksyou–Fine” involves a negligible amount of effort, so I’m not persuaded by claims of being so busy/focused/tired that they couldn’t possibly engage in a small politeness such as a greeting. Since expanding my horizons beyond the community/subculture where I grew up, I realize that in Corporate America at large, I’m actually in the minority on this. But I still really, really dislike people who consider their time so precious that they can’t spare 5 seconds to acknowledge the presence and personhood of others.

  46. Blue Eagle*

    Thank goodness I never had to work at a place where it was expected that everyone would say good morning to everyone upon entering and good-bye upon leaving!

    By the same token thank goodness every single co-workers did not always feel the need to interrupt my working to say good morning or good-bye and expect a reciprocal comment!

    Some good morning/good-bye is fine but EVERY morning to EVERYONE? No thank you, but please have a nice day.

  47. Green Goose*

    Whenever a manager needs to make a rule for people to greet them, things are not going well. In my experience, confident managers don’t need to make micromanaging rules like this about social etiquette in the office. It’s either a manager who is insecure or extreme reaction to an employee that is really acting up.

    Reading your letter brought back memories of a horrible boss I had years ago who also had a lot of weird requirements for the teachers at my school. I’m a pretty friendly person, and I normally say hello to people but this manager resulted in me behaving outside of my norm. She was very disorganized (so bad that I truly don’t know how she wasn’t let go before).

    We had a weekly meeting that she was never prepared for and she would not use email, or write things down so she would wait until I was leaving at the end of the day to say random things she had forgotten to tell me throughout the day/week. This was really frustrating, especially after the other teachers and I tried a few suggestions about how we could be more productive in weekly meetings or ideas about having a running document or email so she could organize her thoughts but she always shot those down. So in addition to the weekly meeting, I was having 1-4 unplanned meetings with her throughout the day whenever a random thought came to her which was very inconvenient for my work schedule.

    I would check in with her my last break of the day if there was anything else I needed to do/know about and she would say no, but then either burst into my classroom in the middle of the lesson to bark a reminder at me or ambush me on my way out. I remember one Friday she was talking to someone when I was leaving and I was so relieved and just left and she was so mad about it, but I just wasn’t in the mood to have my third impromptu meeting of the day with her at 6:30 on a Friday when my weekend had started.

  48. lazuli*

    Re #1 – Super-secrecy doesn’t apply for internal transfers, though, right? My boss got slammed a year or so ago because she agreed to keep it secret that a department employee wanted to transfer to our team; I think she had the idea that all applications are confidential and over-generalized it to internal transfers, too.

  49. Hannah Banana*

    #3 — speaking as a lacquerista and a medical professional, I urge you to stop trimming your cuticles. The entire point of that “random” flap of skin is to help keep bacteria out and away from your nail beds and your body — it really is there for a purpose! I don’t like cuticles either as it can make your nails look shorter and gets in the way of a clean polish job. Instead, get a pusher. There’s a wide variety from wood to metal to glass (I personally like glass). Gently pushing your cuticles down will improve the appearance while still keeping that layer of protection in place.

  50. Happy Pirate*

    OP 4. Stand on your chair, salute and cry “Oh captain my captain” whenever you see him.

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