open thread – July 20-21, 2018

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

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

{ 1,796 comments… read them below }

  1. Emma*

    So, I’ve been gluten free for about a year & a half since getting diagnosed with celiac and for the most part everyone at the office has been great about it. My coworkers always let me know “oh I made sure to get a gluten free snack for you!!” whenever there’s going to be a meeting with food. And somehow the snack is almost always gf cookies of some kind and I just….am not a cookie-lover. I always say thank-you and take a cookie, but it kind of takes the excitement out of there ever being office food. It’s even less fun when it’s lunch or a full meal and the gf option is almost always less exciting than the regular food (all though of course I appreciate the fact that people are making an effort). I love food (and reeaaaally miss eating bread/pasta/pastries etc) and I want to try and feel a little less bummed about this. Any stories, tips, tricks, helpful anecdotes for being gluten-free by necessity in the office?

    1. Tangerina*

      Oh man, I have not advice just sympathy. My sister who I live with has had to go GF recently. I am doing my best to do it with her so it’s more instinctive to recognize what she can and can’t eat.

      Baby, GF is boring as heck! When I find exciting GF stuff, I load her up on it (the local famous bakery around here has added a second GF cupcake to the menu, and we were far too excited about a stupid cupcake). Tag onto that that she also can’t eat seafood, red meat, or anything fried, and she is bored to tears with food.

      We end up eating far too much ice cream and baked chicken.

      1. Annie Moose*

        Aw man, sounds like a friend of mine who also can’t eat anything, although it’s different stuff. She has to avoid sugars (and starches) as much as possible, so her diet is mostly meat and, like, greens.

        A LOT of people interpret this as her being gluten-free, and are like, “oh, we have these gluten-free things!!” and of course they have rice or corn flour that she can’t have! It’s just so annoying for her because nobody understands it (I try my best but I just don’t have that instinct like you mentioned) and you’re always having to scour menus at restaurants for something that might work, if you replace all the sides with something different and ask for no sauce and no cheese and…

        So yeah, she packs a lot of snacks in her purse.

      2. A tester, not a developer*

        Not sure if you’re looking for suggestions to cook at home, but I’ve found that game meats don’t have the same effect on me as beef, and the flavours are different enough to be interesting, but not so different as to be gross. For example, roasted quail is a lovely change from chicken, and if your sister can eat lamb then there’s a ton of yummy GF things to do with it.

        1. Tangerina*

          Interesting, I’ll have to try that. I know buffalo bothered her even worse than beef, but girl’s going to drop dead of iron deficiency

          (clearly that’s hyperbole. Vegans and vegetarians can be healthy)

          1. De-Archivist*

            If she’s actually iron deficient, she should cook in cast iron (non-enameled) if she doesn’t already. Cooking in cast iron adds dietary iron to food, and I totally Googled “gluten free cast iron recipes” just to see what pops up. There were actually quite a few.

            Not much help for OP’s issues with gluten free in the office, but if I can chime in with the rest of the thread, as someone who does de facto food ordering from time to time, I would welcome someone telling me what they actually want rather than having to guess or “you know what I like.”

      3. loslothluin*

        If you don’t have celiac, gluten-free is one of the worst “diets” to follow. Manufacturers replace the gluten with sugar, salt, and fat. It’s not a healthy way to eat unless yo have no choice.

        1. Specialk9*

          That’s the packaged food version. Plenty of people eat whole foods that are gluten free.

          1. loslothluin*

            It’s anything you buy that’s not fresh. It’s actually easier to go completely grain free rather than gluten free. I’ve yet to find a doctor that thinks gluten-free diets are good for anyone other than those diagnosed with celiac.

            1. Globetrotta*

              There’s actually a growing body of research indicating that there is non-celiac gluten sensitivity or that by avoiding gluten, people are avoiding the actual compound that is making them sick. For those of us with IBS that follow a low FODMAP diet, wheat is avoided, making tummies much happier. Because of the rest of the restrictions with the diet, most pre-packaged gluten free options are also out.

              Also, food is immensely personal. You can tell me that none of your doctors prescribe a gluten free diet, but if too many grains lead me to a unhappy belly, sleepless nights and spiked anxiety, well guess who is going to be avoiding grains.

              1. cyanste*

                That’s still a medical reason… people who don’t have to eat GF shouldn’t eat GF. People are missing out on a lot of vital nutrients and fiber that comes from wheat and other products. It’s better to eat a balanced diet.

                Just as a personal note, celiac sufferers tend to be misdiagnosed as IBS sufferers before getting correctly diagnosed.

    2. irene adler*

      Gluten-free here as well.
      Bring your own.
      Take the time to search out the gf snack options that you do enjoy. Then bring them in for yourself.
      Folks who are not gf just don’t get that the gf option isn’t as attractive/yummy as the one they bring in for the rest of the group.

      1. Admin of Sys*

        Seconding the option of byo. There are good gf things out there, but it takes time to find or make them, and the office is not going to know any better.
        That said, if there’s a regular meeting and the admin or whoever is setting up the food is getting something for you that you don’t like, you could always talk to them after a meeting. Say something like ‘I’m so glad you are accommodating my food allergy, but fyi, those particular rice cookies are just not my thing. Any chance you could get something from [list of things I like]?’ If you’re somewhere that has a restricted order-from list, you might be out of luck though. (State orgs are notorious for this – once place could only order snacks from Staples because then they were ‘office supplies’ rather than food)

        1. SoSo*

          Third in support of BYO. My mom had to go gluten free about 5-6 years ago and went through this same thing. She spent a lot of time trying out products and recipes to help fill the gap of losing out on breads and pasta, then would pack those to substitute whenever we needed. Her desk at work housed a loaf of GF bread for sandwiches, GF snack bars and breakfast pastries, and GF granola. It’s not uncommon to see her carry a little baggie of sliced GF bread into a restaurant or work, because she can just order her food without bread/bun, then assemble it herself.

      2. Blue Eagle*

        I disagree with “bring your own”. Obviously your co-workers want to be helpful to you. How about if you bring your own preferred snack on a day without a meeting and let your co-workers know what kind of snack you prefer. If they know about a couple of choices that you prefer, they are more likely to bring in what you prefer (at least that is what I would do for a co-worker who had a dietary restriction and didn’t like what I had gone out of my way to bring in for them).

        1. Karin*

          I agree with bringing your own on a non-meeting day. We bring in food for various occasions where I work. One of my coworkers keeps Kosher, and we’ve noted which brands of store-bought she likes and make sure to grab something we’ve seen her eat before. If the OP’s coworkers care that much about making sure s/he does not feel excluded, they’ll notice, too.

    3. ZSD*

      A co-worker has celiac disease, and event planners have been able to order him some at least comparatively interesting salads…though one time the place forgot and put croutons on, so he had to go hungry.
      One place even ended up having a gluten-free pasta option that was apparently quite tasty. My co-worker was delighted.

      1. JokeyJules*

        As someone who plans office events and lunches and has a GF coworker, I just ask her what she wants to do.
        It’s very simple. No pressure, we can cater to her needs or she will look at the menu and decide she’s going to bring from home that day.
        I get so happy for her when they have the GF pizza or pasta options!!

        1. DrWombat*

          I admit as someone with celiac, I love it when I get included re conference meals and office events. So far coworkers at my new job have just taken to going out to lunch most days and not inviting me – and one of them has family with celiac so it’s especially hurtful (then again, said coworker is also the grumpiest person in the dang office). Seconding bringing your own food though – I find mochi makes a good GF snack, but yeah, it’s hard *solidarity fistbump*

    4. Sabrina Spellman*

      I’m gluten free as well as generally lactose free because of the low fodmap diet so I definitely feel your pain. I’ve stopped relying on others to provide something for me and instead bring in my own treats/meals. Who knows better than yourself what you enjoy!

    5. Not in US*

      I’m also GF. Take a look into specialty bakeries and health food stores with a bakery. I find here (not in the US) we have a lot of restaurants that now offer GF options. How safe they are probably varies. I would also figure out what kind of snacks you like and then keep some on hand in your office or bring from home when this will apply. I don’t like cake (I’m also allergic to eggs) so when people make a big deal out of getting a cake I can actually eat – I’m kind of like ok, thanks…but pie on the other hand, I’m all over pie.

      1. P*

        I’m also GF. Bring your own is the best bet I’m afraid. It’s sweet when people try and accommodate, because I don’t really expect them to. But after 20+ years of this, I’ve just started saying, no thank you, I don’t like coconut macaroons. I know they are often the only GF treat available but I don’t actually like them, and its OK for me to politely refuse even after people have gone to an extra effort for me. So don’t be afraid to say no thank you if that’s what you want to do!

    6. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      You are the expert on your condition and your office. Can you research the restaurants that you usually order from and come up with something you like better? I assume you are the only GF person at the office so you could just say to the food-orderer “I don’t like salad X. Can you order GF wrap Y instead?” Or if the restaurants are the problem, it’s slightly more tricky but you could say “Do you mind ordering from Deli X instead of House of Gluten Y? Their GF options are much better. Otherwise if not let me know and I will pack a lunch.”

    7. Deryn*

      With the cookies, I don’t think it would be completely unreasonable to say something like, “Oh, that’s really sweet of you to think of me, but I’m kind of burnt on cookies/not much of a cookie person so I’m going to pass.” Or if you know an event where food is going to be served is coming up, I think you could definitely throw out a few (feasible) options to whoever is planning food. Maybe something like, “I know planning for dietary restrictions is really tough – X, Y, and Z are good options for me if they are available!”

    8. Sunflower*

      Can they just ask you what they want? My feelings are they probably actually prefer you telling them what you want! There’s probably not a non-awkward way to suggest that though- can you let someone at work your close with know and see if they can pass it along?

      1. Decima Dewey*

        I’d ask those who are trying to accommodate those who have gluten issues to actually try the supposed treat they’re getting. There are gluten free cookies that are delicious. There are also gluten free cookies that taste meh and crumble into dust as someone is trying to eat them.

        1. Autumnheart*

          Accidentally got a sandwich with GF bread instead of regular, and the bread dissolved into glue in my mouth. :6 I can’t imagine anyone being thrilled with that experience if they had an alternative.

    9. Admin of Sys*

      Oh, and re: gf pasta – I’ve found the thicker forbidden rice pad thai noodles make for decent fettuccine replacements, albeit the dark-blue/black color is hard to get used to. And whole foods has some surprisingly decent frozen gf cupcakes – the chocolate ones are to die for, albeit horribly overpriced.

    10. Shamy*

      I think so much has to do with people not knowing what is safe for you and since celiac sensitivities vary so greatly, I can see how it would be intimidating getting food for you. My coworker had quite severe celiac where even tiny amounts of cross contamination could make her sick. We threw her a bridal shower where only select few people made food for her and she was so excited all the food there was food that she could eat. Maybe you could make a point of mentioning everyday gluten-free foods you like that people don’t necessarily think of as gluten-free, like “I just had the most delicious deviled eggs” or “chocolate dipped strawberries are my favorite dessert.” I also agree with the commenter that said about bringing your own food in as well so people can see what other options are out there besides cookies. The fact that they want to include you and are thoughtful is a great thing, maybe they just need a bit more direction.

      1. Serenity2005*

        Definitely +1 on this. When it comes to dietary restrictions, especially medically necessary ones communication is so important. I’m not gluten free, but I do have some weird and random food allergies (cinnamon, barley among others). Usually if we do a food day my coworkers just straight ask me, “I’m thinking of bringing this, can you eat it?” If I say no, often they will try to plan something else including me in the planning, or I’m feeding myself that day. However the short version, I’ve personally found my coworkers to be very receptive of both what I can have and preferences.

    11. ket*

      For a while, for this type of thing I just went Paleo. (In some office environments this would not necessarily be the move to talk about, though!) The benefit of paleo is that you don’t eat any grains at all, and so you get to avoid terrible GF baked goods.

      On a home-cooking level, there are lots of great Paleo cooks online and they have delicious recipes that helped me expand my cooking repertoire. What was important to me was not the philosophy, but the focus on delicious foods that make you feel good rather than trying to replace things that you can’t have, and often ending up with underwhelming replacements. I also found that many commercial GF baked goods still gave me tummy trouble because of the starch load (FODMAP stuff going on, probably).

      In line with that, could you ask them to get fresh fruit instead?

      1. Rookie Biz Chick*

        Preach! Packaged GF is expensive and still over processed. Almond flour biscuits and flatbreads are my fav when things are busy and I’m not cooking full meals as much. I’m not full celiac, so I feel okay picking meats and cheeses off a sandwich buffet if that’s what’s available. This cloud biscuit recipe is super easy and tasty:

    12. rosie*

      the office allergy struggle is SO real. I’m allergic to dairy and couldn’t even begin to count the number of times I’ve eaten a sad plate of lettuce when the rest of the office is digging into some pizza. I keep some safe snacks on hand for birthdays etc so I have something to eat that I know won’t make me sick.

    13. Inspector Spacetime*

      GF as well. I unfortunately can’t eat dairy or sugar either, so even when nice people specially get me a GF treat I usually can’t eat it. Sometimes I eat it anyway so they don’t feel bad and then feel sick later… It sucks.

      Seconding what people say about BYO. Eating out is hard but when you make your own food it can taste just as good. Pasta with rice noodles or zoodles is delicious.

      Sorry, I don’t have a lot of advice, just sympathy.

    14. Everdene*

      I am a home baker and often bring GF cakes into the office. I did thisa few times before letting people know they were actually GF. Also, encouraging ordering of fruit or crudits that are natuarally GF and can be shared.

      1. She's One Crazy Diamond*

        PLEASE tell people when snacks are GF! I can have gluten, but am severely allergic to tapioca, and tapioca flour is in almost all gluten free baked goods because of the texture and fact that it’s inexpensive. I have gotten extremely sick from eating something I assumed was fine only to find out after puking my guts out that it was GF and full of tapioca. Just because gluten is a common allergy doesn’t mean it’s the only one that should be accommodated.

        1. Everdene*

          I had no idea that was a thing! There are some oversharers in the team so tapioca has never been mentioned as an allergy. I’ll bear that in mind for other occasions though. Thank you

        2. MotherRunnee*

          For homemade goods, do you not ask whether there is tapioca in it? I’m thinking if i was severely allergic to something, it would be my responsibility to ask. Not being snarky, but i don’t think a baker needs to preemptively disclose every ingredient in their baked goods. I think the safest bet with a severe allergy is just to ask. People make replacements all the time in home baking, and there’s just no reliable way to guess about ingredients.

          1. She's One Crazy Diamond*

            I understand where you’re coming from, but tapioca is a very uncommon ingredient outside of bubble tea and pudding except for gluten free baked goods, so until being GF became very common, I never had to worry about it. I always ask when I know something is GF or an unfamiliar Southeast Asian dish, but if I just see slices of cake I usually don’t ask because 99% of the time it’s just regular cake made with wheat flour.

    15. pcake*

      I’m allergic to wheat, but luckily the current gluten-free diet fad means there’s gluten-free bread, pizza and other goodies at most stores. All the stores around me also have rice pasta and other gluten-free options including lentil, and if you don’t live near any stores that carry them, Amazon has them as well as gluten free stuffing, breads and more. Blaze pizza has a gluten-free option (they’ll treat it more carefully if you let them know you have a medical condition) as does Disneyland and many other places.

      By the way, after my two favorite gluten-free breads were discontinued, I started baking. There are many gluten-free flours on the market, and if you don’t feel like baking from scratch, Krusteaz (and several other brands, but they’re my personal favorite and the mixes are cheap on Amazon) offer corn bread, pancake brownie and other mixes where you only throw in an egg, some milk, mix and bake.

      I suggest bringing your own treats to these things so you’re seen eating them. I no longer accept food from well-meaning friends or co-workers as several times they’ve misunderstood an ingredient and I ended up pretty sick.

    16. SuspectedDragon*

      Another GF person here. Definitely talk to the admin or whoever gets food for meetings and let them know what works for you. Personally, I prefer to go without or pack my own than eat a cookie that tastes like cardboard and sadness. This could also be a way to push for healthier snacks in the office overall? Being the only person with carrots while everyone else digs into their beautiful pastries is not fun. But if everyone is snacking on veggies or fruit, you don’t feel like the odd one out and everyone can collectively avoid the sugar crash. YMMV though, depending on office culture and how much you feel like dealing with that.

      Side note – Trader Joe’s has a fantastic brown rice pasta. Tastes good, doesn’t disintegrate, and reheats decently.

      1. AnonInfinity*

        I second getting with the admin who orders food – but would recommend THOROUGHLY explaining your needs. Early on into my GF adventure, I was invited to a working lunch meeting on site. the admin mentioned they were ordering boxed lunches from the company’s catering service, and I emailed her and said, “Can you see if Caterer has gluten-free wraps? I can’t have gluten. If not, I’ll bring my own lunch. Thanks!” She was great about it and made the arrangement.

        Well. The box was marked “GF.” The wrap was gluten-free. And I assumed everything else was, but, no, it was not. The rest of it was regular, wheat-based food without ingredients listed on it; I assumed it was GF; I ate it; and I had a bad couple of days. But I asked for a gluten-free wrap, and that’s what I got. I learned to be specific and to never, ever assume.

    17. Logan*

      I have a celiac friend, and one complaint has been that the gf snacks tend to be ‘lesser’ versions of favourite foods, so it’s a weird reminder of how their diet is a problem. As a result I have made an effort to find good food which happens to be gf (as an example macaroons have no flour), and if I am hosting a meeting then I also bring veggies or fruit (the ‘healthier option’ thing happened long before the gf request, yet it works well for everyone).

      I have found, though, that celiac can often have other food aspects beyond gluten (including dairy, eggs, nightshades, lentils, etc) so my friends and family with food problems have all ended up bringing their own food, as it’s just easier for them.

    18. Zip Silver*

      I don’t eat during the day. Gym in the morning, breakfast afterwards, nothing but water and black coffee from 8am until 6pm, then dinner. Works out quite well and if you have people trying to push food on you then you just say that you aren’t hungry.

      1. Autumnheart*

        By any chance are you a man? I only ask because women tend to get a lot “hangrier” after about 10 hours of intermittent fasting than men do. YMMV and there’s no reason for women not to give it a shot (assuming no health-related contraindications), just kind of expect to be grouchy by the end of the fasting part of the day.

        1. Zip Silver*

          Yep, I’m a guy. It 100% started as a way to quit snacking at the office and it’s worked out smashingly. Easy way to restrict calories and still eat full meals. Can’t speak to how women are on IF, but I feel alive with energy all day. No more post-lunch crash at 2pm

    19. Artemesia*

      No advice at the office. I think you just have to stock up treats you like and hope for the best and if possible steer the person ordering lunches or actually find out what their vendors have you like. I have a somewhat restricted diet and the food I can eat sucks; I so miss enjoying food so I feel for you.

      We have friends who are gluten free and when we have dinner parties, it is not that hard to create good stuff without gluten. But for restaurant food, they are not going to do the standards without and so you end up with specialty food that is not all that good.

    20. Utoh!*

      Hi Emma!
      Since your coworkers are so open to making sure they get a gluten-free snack for you, but it’s not one you enjoy, get involved in the process! Let them know you appreciate their thinking about you, and offer some suggestions so they aren’t just picking the first GF item they think you’ll like. I don’t know the first think about celiac disease or eating GF, so I would appreciate being educated about what someone would like to eat so they don’t feel excluded.

    21. nonymous*

      I’m not gf, but when I prepare potluck items when I know someone with celiac disease might be present, I avoid the gf substitutes. So I might bring a flavored popcorn or charcuterie or a fruit & veg tray or chocolate – all GF, but very mainstream ingredients.

      Frankly, while there are recipes that I am happy to iterate to perfection, potluck situations are just not one of them, and figuring out how to use rice flour in western baking can be tricky. If I know someone has a very severe allergy, whatever I bring will come straight from a store in prepackaged form, because I know my kitchen is likely contaminated.

      1. Thursday Next*

        Yes to the last sentence—OP, people might be defaulting to the cookies because they’re packaged and labeled and “safe.” Whatever you can do in terms of planning (which snacks or dishes are good, which brands, etc.) or even just bringing in a stash of goodies yourself to choose from when the whole office seems to be pausing for a snack will be helpful.

      2. AnonInfinity*

        Watch out for chocolate! Many of the milk chocolates not only are processed with gluten-containing foods, but actively contain gluten. For example, Lindt’s truffles are made with barley malt. I learned the hard way. (Those were my FAVORITE!) :)

    22. Ms MicroManaged*

      Fellow GF girl over here! I like to have fresh fruit at meetings, it’s healthier and naturally GF. You could find a good local baker, or order over the interwebs too. Or bake – I find lots of recipes on Pinterest that are naturally GF – using almond flour, meringues, “raw food” recipes, etc. as sometimes those cup-for-cup flours turn things a little gummy. Check out cookbooks from the library, esp Silvana Nardone’s (sp?) Cooking for Isiah – those banana donuts are sooooo yummy!!

    23. RightsaidFed*

      Make a gluten free angel food cake, or a flourless chocolate cake and keep slices in the office freezer (wrapped in foil, marked “meatloaf”) Then if the office is having cake and fruit, you can pull out your angel food slice and top it off. With the flourless chocolate cake, if you make it and share it — people will want that recipe.
      Chocolate covered strawberries can also be frozen. (marked “roasted beets”)
      Also good for non-dessert food, is to keep a bag of 90-second microwave rice in your desk. Easy enough to strip a roasted veggie sandwich of its veggies and eat in your bowl of rice.

      1. Rachel B.*

        If you are making flourless chocolate cake, make sure to make a raspberry or blueberry sauce too! Frozen berries, simmered with a little sugar and a shot of lemon juice, assuming those don’t give you trouble for other reasons. Keep it separate from the cake until ready to eat, though, don’t try to freeze them together.

        Do be careful with the veggies off the roasted veggie sandwich, as sometimes that can be enough contamination, depending on how sensitive you are to gluten. I can tolerate very minor crosscontamination (we only have one toaster, f’r instance) but cannot eat ANY regular soy sauce–something about the fermentation makes it much, much worse for me. This is definitely one of those “your mileage may vary”, and you may not know until you try something.

    24. Anna*

      I may have some advice. Who is the person doing the buying? Does it change often or is it the same person? If it’s the same person, you can go up to them/IM and say hey I appreciate you buying this but actually I’m really trying to cut back on sweets! Or if it’s a lunch thing, and they’re buying for a group, maybe say hey can I choose something instead when you order? Aside from that, I feel your pain about luncheon things. My office does weekly lunches during the busiest time of the year and sometimes the gluten-free option is terrible. And I tend to get a cookie during birthday celebrations too (or nothing). The only other idea I have for luncheons is maybe bringing something to add TO the lunch, I tend to do that.

    25. Anna*

      Oh and also, if it helps my office has treats every pay period. I am left out 100% of the time.

    26. Cowgirlinhiding*

      I keep a running file on interviews we give. Thirty of ninety-one people that we scheduled for an interview didn’t show up, out of those that were not given an offer. We have people that fill out all of their paperwork (we have their drivers license and SS#) then never show up for the first day of work – What the heck, I would at least stop in and get my personal information back!!!

    27. AnonInfinity*

      I’m Celiac – symptoms for 1.5 years, diagnosed for a little while now. My coworkers have been less accommodating and still think it’s a dietary choice. So.

      However, knowing where gluten hides in food (e.g., you THINK grilled chicken is safe, but it’s been sitting in a marinade of wheat-containing soy sauce for a few hours; corn mixes sound like they’re corn-based, but wheat is often used in it – these are things average people don’t know about), I don’t think I’d ever trust anything someone else brought for me to eat. And I don’t. I rely on something like, “Thanks, but I’m still figuring out what I can have or not have.” I really just don’t eat snacks at work, discuss food at work, or mention the food brought to work. It’s not even on my radar anymore. And I think I’d go crazy if my coworkers started trying to bring me food to eat – no. Thinking about that literally makes me anxious.

      For what it’s worth, although I hate being so sensitive to something so pervasive, and it’s entirely awful when I accidentally encounter gluten, and people roll their eyes at me at restaurants (yep), I actually love being gluten-free. It challenges me to cook more, try new ingredients, and eat fresher food; I feel better than I ever have. Temptations don’t even exist for me anymore, because when I think of fast food available and all the doughnuts/baked goods brought into work, none if it sounds good – because it’s so not worth what would happen if I had it. I don’t even touch the GF aisle at the store, to be honest, even though some of it’s pretty tasty.

      If you haven’t tried Canyon Bakehouse bread, you might like it. I liked it better than any regular bread I’d ever had. But, alas, I got tired of buying expensive bread mainly for breakfast, and now I slather my almond butter on cheap rice crackers – even better! :)

    28. LurkieLoo*

      Our household is 98% gluten free. One member is intolerant (not medically diagnosed) and the rest of us limit our intake just because the cook is lazy and doesn’t want to prepare more than one meal.

      The biggest thing that helps us as a family is to NOT substitute gluten-like substances for gluten. We very rarely have gluten free pasta, for example. We have switched to rice or potatoes (predominantly) for our starchy sides. The blue diamond rice and almond crackers are awesome and happen to be gluten free. We eat a lot of plain corn chips. Corn tortillas and lettuce leaves are good for wraps (instead of sandwiches).

      We went to a friend’s house for Thanksgiving and she wanted to know what drinks were gluten free. I think some people just do not even think about it so when they DO think about it, they are looking at things that are marketed gluten free. In doing so, they forget about the thousands of things that are easily gluten free. Like vegi platters, salad, quinoa, fruits, rice (just NOT soy sauce), quite a bit of candy, etc.

      Our family member who is intolerant always brings a favorite something for gatherings. Then there will always be at least one thing gluten free and enjoyable.

      For the office specifically, Mexican food is pretty easy gluten free. Most of the menu is naturally gluten free. Indian food also has quite a few naturally gluten free options. Maybe you could research places that are similar to ones that normally get ordered from and make some suggestions. So many restaurants are getting better at their gluten free options.

    29. I have ideas*

      I have been GF since 2012, I am also lactose free and soy free. I always carry a snack (Lara Bar) in my purse and I always take my lunch to work. When there is a meeting and food has been ordered for everyone (not always GF), I will have some of the salad (we ask for dressing on the side in case it has gluten) or fruit.
      When going to friends or family – I make sure they are aware and use GF seasonings for everything. Also I always take a dish that I know I can eat (just in case).
      There are lots of really yummy GF options available. Here are some GF brands that I recommend:
      Simple Mills crackers, Gluten Free Explorer Artisan Bakers (love their pizza crust and breads) Go Raw bars, Lara Bars, Go Macro bars
      For Recipes, Websites that I recommend:
      gluten free goddess, there is life after wheat, gluten free on a shoestring, paleo running momma, elenas pantry, paleo effect.

    30. Gatomon*

      For me, I am usually forgotten unless I speak up. If there’s going to be a pizza party at work I have to ask where they are ordering from — too many people to remember. Unfortunately with a lot of conferences/trainings I’ve been to, no one bothers to send out the meal plan/ask in advance, so I pack my own now. If it’s a big conference I’ve found the GF option tends to be salad, which I loathe. In those situations I just assume I’ll be eating out of my bag.

      I think it’s great that they’re trying, but I think it’s okay to suggest a substitute item that is more palatable to you.

    31. loslothluin*

      I’ve been diagnosed with celiac for 5 years, and it was a PITA when I first started. I always had to remind myself just how bad it feels to eat gluten anything. Now, I’m used to it, and I just ignore what other people are eating. Once you’ve been gluten free for a while, it’s amazing how terrible it feels to have anything with gluten in it. Learned that the hard way when I wanted a cheese biscuit and paid the price shortly thereafter. It clicked just how awful I felt and had no idea that I could feel any better. After that, it was much easier to decline any kind of food I wasn’t sure about being gf or not.

      For me, I’ve found that going paleo was easier than gluten free. It’s basically hormone free meat and fresh fruits and veggies.

      I highly recommend Wheat Belly and the Good Gut. They’re excellent sources about gf.

    32. blammobiddy*

      I’m gluten-free and dairy-free, also for medical reasons, and I can sympathize! I appreciate it when coworkers try to accommodate me and my dietary restrictions, but GF/DF can be boring and terrible if you don’t know what to look for. Most of the time I just tell people not to worry because I’m too high-maintenance now, and I don’t want to put anyone else out. I find that having good humor about it helps. I also made a point to say that I was really trying to eat better in general, so now when people do bring snacks for me, it tends to be something like fruit or nuts – things that are easy to get and really hard to screw up.

      1. loslothluin*

        I miss cheese. At least at my job now, they let me pick the place to eat for the holiday party due to the gluten free/dairy free diets. The one time they picked a place who assured them there were gf/df foods. Turns out the restaurant’s idea of gf/df was a salad with no dressing on it.

    33. Wishing You Well*

      I am sorry you have celiac.
      I was mis-diagnosed with celiac and went gluten-free for 10 years until the doc said “Oopsy, you don’t have celiac”. The diet was terrible. Little did I know that diet was just the training wheels for an even worse medical diet. Now I’m REALLY restricted – where the short list is what I CAN have. The only drink I can tolerate is water. WATER. Cheating on the diet causes physical, hours-long pain. (I have a diagnosis – it’s not in my head.)
      My advice is to supply your own snacks. Keep them at your desk (locked up, if you have food thieves). Bring out a snack you know is safe when others are having snacks. Don’t have others get you snacks they THINK are safe. Well-intentioned mistakes make me sick or make others irritated with me when I won’t eat what they offer. My relationships with others is better when I spare them my medical problems and take care of my diet myself.

    34. Rachel B.*

      Garden Lite blueberry-oatmeal muffins. They are sold frozen, and you can keep them at work (preferably in an ugly brown paper bag) and nuke one any time you get too wistful for the days when you “could eat cookies”. I understand, I definitely do! There are also some decent GF flours: Namaste is the best I have tried so far. You can also mix your own: coconut flour, almond flour, glutinous rice (has no gluten in it at ALL), and corn flour (not cornstarch, cornflour). I recommend Bob’s Red Mill for the individual flours; sadly, not for their GF mixture.

      A little prep goes a long way toward NOT feeling sorry for yourself! Oh, and carry your own tamari wheat-free soy sauce when you go for sushi! I recommend San-J organic tamari because it’s easy for me to get, but there are other good ones (be sure to put the little bottle in a GOOD ziploc-type bag). A large purse covers a multitude of sins!

    35. cyanste*

      Honestly, as a fellow Celiac, I don’t even take any food offered by my coworkers… who knows what kind of environment those cookies were made in! Done side by side with wheat flour? Contaminated. ugh…

      I think what I try to do is really look for office sweets that are celiac friendly, like candy, that people tend to have or use. Or soda. Something that we all eat/drink that is safely made and safely able to drink.

  2. Tangerina*

    Tl;dr My manager is stubborn and makes my team look bad. Do I keep trying to persuade my manager to do the right thing, or wait for her to get ordered by an executive to do it?

    How do you folks handle it when your manager makes a decision you completely disagree with and goes against the team’s Customer Service values (but is not illegal or immoral)?

    For example, if IT person Amanda is in charge of the Apple Pickers in Arlington, so we grant her visibility and ability to take action on that group. Due to a shift in business, for the next six months half of the group in Arlington will operation under the Baking business unit in Buffalo, supported by IT person Bonnie
    My manager refuses to grant security access to Bonnie to employees in Arlington, saying that Bonnie will just have to go to Amanda to get Amanda to do the work instead.

    It only takes SECONDS for my team to grant access to BOTH Bonnie and Amanda. Bonnie and Amanda AND their managers (who are President level) have given us approval to do this. But my manager (and therefore my team) is refusing to budge, sticking to the rigid view that Arlington belongs to Amanda, so Amanda will keep the access and Bonnie will have none (even though Amanda really shouldn’t be acting upon employees in the Baking business unit no matter WHERE they sit).

    This is not the first time my manager has dug her heels in. Eventually an executive will bring the hammer down, and my team will be forced to grant Bonnie access. I see it coming from a mile away.
    Do I keep advocating for Bonnie to get access, or just accept my manager’s direction like a good soldier while Bonnie and Amanda struggle with this unnecessary hindrance to their work?

    1. Sarah Simpson*

      Much as I hate to say it, my suggestion is to stay out of it – you’ve offered your opinion, and if you are the one to push back, well, pushing back is the part that people remember, not whether or not it was for the best, especially if you’re pushing against your boss. When there is an issue and the power is not on your side, you need to decide if this is the battle that is so important you need to be the one to fight it.

      1. Artemesia*

        This. You have made yourself clear. The boss said ‘no’. Let it fall on the boss. I empathize as I always wanted to do things right too, but it rarely pays to be more invested than the boss in doing it right.

        1. SierraSkiing*

          Yep. If you push too hard against your manager when he’s made a decision, however shitty, you’ll get fired for not doing what he says. And then you won’t be around for the sweet, sweet day when he finally gets fired for not doing what the presidents say.

      2. Tangerina*

        Yes, I think you’re right. My customer service bone itches, but it is what it is!

    2. Clorinda*

      This sounds so scary. If there’s any chance that the executive might bring the hammer down on all of you, not just the stubborn manager, you might look at ways to cover yourself, whatever that looks like–cc’ing Bonnie on an email to your manager asking for access, or something. The danger is that if you go too far, you risk alienating the manager and being in trouble before the hammer drop. Is there any way you can do so kind of internal transfer and get out of the King’s Landing office until the mess is over?

      1. Tangerina*

        If they company were stable I’d consider that. But I get the feeling it’s a sinking ship. On to the next job!

    3. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Let your manager get hammered. They’re the ones causing the problem, they need to get the consequences.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        Just make sure you document – ie, that you have mentioned your recommendation in an email.

      2. Tangerina*

        Yes, true. In the end, you do what you’re told (Except I would heartily disobey a manager asking me to do something illegal)

    4. BillieB*

      Ahhh, the joys of bureaucracy. Like others have said, if it’s your boss’ call, and you’ve done all you can to influence the decision, then you will need to accept the decision. However, CYA is the goal at this point. You can (and should) express your concerns where the decision goes against Customer Service values. If this is done over email, so there is a paper trail, then it’s an effective CYA technique. So if/when the hammer does come down, what needed to be said was said. Just be sure to keep your communication fact-based and tied to company values, and be willing to accept whatever decision your boss makes.

      Alternatively, your boss may have a good reason to maintain tight controls on access. Sometimes you risk opening up the flood gates if you grant access to Bonnie and then Cliff and David start asking too. A line has to be drawn somewhere to keep things under control, and your boss may have good reason for her decision.

  3. Construction Safety*

    Workers are ‘ghosting’ interviews, blowing off work in a strong job market

    Link in reply

      1. A person*

        I was cringing at the guy who started doing group interviews to make applicants “want the job more”!

        1. The New Wanderer*

          For me the eye roll was for the 27 yr old who said he didn’t cancel an interview because people already think millenials are entitled… and then seems to make the argument that he shouldn’t have to pay dues by showing up? I don’t even know.

      2. neverjaunty*

        I don’t doubt that there may be more interviewees ghosting than in a strong economy, but this article is kind of a vague trend piece. “A growing number” of applicants? “Many businesses”?

        1. Manders*

          Yeah, I have some serious doubts about whether some of the people quoted in this article should be considered experts on employment trends. Like this guy:

          At JFuerst Real Estate Photography, a Minneapolis firm with 11 employees, four job candidates haven’t shown up for interviews in the past two years, CEO Johnny Fuerst says. So Fuerst has been holding initial interviews with groups of up to 30 applicants for roles such as photographers and receptionists.

          “I was trying to mitigate my wasted time,” he says. With such a large contingent of candidates, “I don’t care if half show up.” He says the setting also creates a competitive atmosphere that makes interviewees want the job more. He then winnows subsequent interviews to progressively smaller groups.

          I wouldn’t take this guy’s advice on hiring in any economy. And at least one of the “ghosters” quoted in the piece didn’t actually ghost, he called to cancel an interview after realizing the job wasn’t a good fit for him.

          1. She She*

            4 in 2 years??? We had 4 ghost us just last week. And yes, we’re in construction and paying well above the norms for this area.

            1. The New Wanderer*

              Uh yeah – if he can get 30 applicants in one go in order to interview them as a group, then 4 ghosting over two years is a very small problem. His wasted time is vastly overrated, and since the most qualified will most likely walk as soon as they see a group situation, he’s really not getting as high quality applicants as he’d think.

            2. Triple Anon*

              Right. And there will always be a few people who overslept or got the date wrong or made some other type of mistake and then just abandoned their application instead of calling to apologize. Four of those in two years sounds about right.

    1. Laurelma_01!*

      The strong job market is misleading in some aspects. It doesn’t take in consideration people that have ran out of unemployment benefits or are being underpaid. I recalled reading something about that awhile back, but not sure where. Something about more service oriented jobs, but lower pay. Maybe someone recalls the article.

      1. The Original K.*

        I think I read that a lot of the newly created jobs are temporary. Contract jobs, gig economy jobs, etc.

        1. irene adler*

          Yep. So the dollars per hour are higher, but the lack of benefits really offsets that. Sometimes to the degree that one is earning less money than prior job(s).

      2. krysb*

        Even the U-6 numbers, which account for underemployed workers and those who dropped out of the market for reasons unrelated to age or disability (shadow unemployment), shows the unemployment rate at 7%. That’s pretty low.

      3. Triple Anon*

        Exactly. My impression is that there are more jobs, but working conditions are worse, or at least less predictable. And I see a lot of “millennials” complaining about low pay and lack of good job prospects, so the ghosting millennials thing is not the whole story.

    2. King Friday XIII*

      Ghosting on call center jobs is absolultely nothing new no matter how strong the job market.

      I’m not familiar with the carport business, though. =P

      1. Artemesia*

        The one thing businesses are not willing to do when they have trouble hiring is pay people more. Wages are flat for most jobs and then businesses whine about not finding that person with the masters and 10 years experience who will come work for them for $12 an hour.

        1. Chriama*

          Yup! It’s like the HR version of the IT Crowd’s “did you try turning it off and on again?” — “Did you try offering them more money?”

        2. Antilles*

          That’s always my response too. When you say “we can’t find qualified people to work”, you should be ending the sentence with “…at the price we’re willing to pay”.
          There is no law-abiding job in the US so onerous that you *couldn’t* eventually fill it if you just kept raising the salary offered.

          1. De-Archivist*


            I worked in retail/service for many years and heard repeatedly about how terrible the applicant pool in “this area” is. I’m like have you thought paying more that minimum wage for people you expect to provide knowledgeable, competent service to customers? Even Big Box Blue and Big Box Red pay more than this. ‘Well, you know our buying power … and cost of goods for … mumble … wish we could offer more … but … mumble, mumble, mumble … great discount for employees …


        3. Leela*

          I used to recruit for organizations like that and it was AWFUL. Hiring managers insisting that the person who refilled the candy bowl and answered phones had a college degree for no reason at all but wouldn’t pay more than 12 an hour in a very expensive tech hub, then sat there pulling their hair about how I couldn’t fill the role. Bonus for this hiring manager being someone who got that job before those requirements and couldn’t possibly have gotten it with the same credentials and experience if they tried to get the job now.

          1. Anonymosity*

            I saw a job ad for Lowe’s the other day (the home improvement store). They were looking for a full-time cashier. Associate’s degree preferred.

            For a cashier. FFS.

        4. Beth Anne*

          YES! There’s a job I recently saw they want you to have a CPA a bunch of experience but only pay like $30,000.

          The way workers are being underpaid right now is so sad. :(

        5. Lora*


          Similarly, I will never ever understand why universities actually change their degree programs and departments just because some CEO is whining about not being able to find qualified applicants. Just say “yeah, that sucks dude” or “cool story bro” and move on with life. If they want qualified applicants and training programs that badly, they will create the training programs themselves.

          I always point to petroleum engineering and Maersk’s shipping / logistics schools when this happens: employers needed people, so they became willing to train geologists, physicists and other types of STEM grads to become petroleum engineers when it was a boom time for them. Maersk couldn’t find enough people with the unique training for logistics and ex-Navy folks who knew how to navigate, so they created their own training schools.

        6. WorkerBea*

          Yup. This is partially why the job I left a year ago is still open. I occassionally get emails from recruiters for this job, offering 2/3 below the market rate at best for a contractor limited to working 2 years tops, not even a perm job. At my level, that a difference of many10s of thousands of dollars annually. In a competative market in a high CoL area, it’s laughable and completely out of touch to continue to operate this way. I know in my search, I immediately ruled out any company that gave such lowball ranges up front. It gave me an unfavorable impression of the company right from the get go. I’m talking huge global corporations with multi-billions in revenue, not start-ups. I have LOLed hard at some of the salary expectations. They want 10+ yrs experience and advanced degrees but at an entry level payrate. Um no. Not when a half dozen other companies on the same block are happy to pay at market!

        7. Courageous cat*

          Yes this is so profoundly irritating for me. I am looking for entry-level jobs in new industries and so many of these jobs are like, part-time jobs that pay $13/hour, but require 2-3 years of experience and a degree in the field! It’s insulting to the people who have that kind of experience and are worth much more than that.

        8. Triple Anon*

          Yeah. Who the heck thinks of group interviews before raising the pay or offering better benefits? If they can’t afford to pay more or offer better benefits, I’m sure they could come up with something. Extra vacation time, flexible hours, opportunities to learn new skills . . . Anything that’s a tangible part of the actual job and not the interview process.

      2. Duffman*

        We did have an all time best of 6 call center no shows out of 20 new hires this week, though.

    3. CupcakeCounter*

      My husband has been having a lot of this. He is hiring for a job that takes quite a few months of training to really get it and people are leaving within the first few weeks. There are a ton of manufacturing jobs at the moment in my area and these people are leaving for those. Hubs’ jobs pay better and are direct hire in with full benefits starting day one but are definitely a bit more difficult than a traditional factory job (which are all temp to hire).

    4. Antilles*

      Of course, there’s a blindingly obvious solution to being ghosted by employees:
      Offer. More. Money.
      The people who are ghosting on your job aren’t doing so out of malice or spite, it’s because your job/pay is crappy enough that it can (and was) easily topped by someone else.

      1. Grayson*

        I saw an entry level position that required a bachelors and 10 years experience. I lost my brain.

        1. WalkedInYourShoes*

          Yes, those are unrealistic. I know one Big TeaPot Company requires a master’s before they would consider anyone for an administrative position. As you can guess, the candidate lands it, but immediately starts interviewing for other better roles aligned to the person’s master’s degree and leaves after 6-9 months.

          1. irene adler*

            Yet, I read -at another work place advice web site- that hiring those who are over qualified is a big no-no. For the reason you just cited- they will split as soon as something better comes along. Hence, employer is better off not hiring the over qualified.

            Yet, here one company is doing just that. Kinda puts the lie to the low unemployment figures if there are folks who will take the job for which they are overqualified to do.

            1. SierraSkiing*

              Having watched my fiancee, who just got their master’s, hit the job market: it’s partially that people with a master’s are usually trying to get a very specific type of job in a very specific type of industry. Because there’s fewer of these specialized positions overall, if you miss one or two jobs that are hiring, it may take a while to find another opportunity that is what you trained to do. So my partner is doing the “work a job they’re overqualified for while waiting for more field-specific positions to open up” strategy. It’s either that, or run out of money, or ditch their chosen career altogether. But they’ve been the second or third choice on a couple good jobs now, so I have hope that they’ll find a position that uses their degree soon!

        2. irene adler*

          Sooooo, the 22-year-old recent college grad has to have started work at age 12? No doubt working full-time at the job-right?

          Alrighty then.
          So where are these 12-year-olds being hired so that they can obtain said decade of experience?

    5. Queen of Cans and Jars*

      Well, at least I’m in good company! I hire for a warehouse, and it’s pretty typical to have about 50% no show for interviews. What I don’t think they realize is that I keep track of that (thanks, Indeed!) so that when they apply again (which is incredibly common), I know not to call.

    6. Phoenix Programmer*

      Meh. Companies signaled that ghosting on applicants is an acceptable communication strategy so should not be surprised applicants are now doing it to them.

    7. Quickbeam*

      In nursing, when there is an acute shortage (which isn’t always) this happens all the time. Or people saunter in saying “when do I start” wearing flip flops and cut offs. It’s definitely an employee shortage behavior.

    8. Tangerina*

      Ghosting his such wretched behavior, whether it’s dating, friendship, work, whatever.

  4. FaintlyMacabre*

    I suspect the answer is no, but…

    I had an interview and afterwards one of the interviewers walked out of the building with me. He asked if that was my car and I said yes. Then he asked me a couple of questions about it and we had a quick conversation about the pros and cons of that particular vehicle. I have already written my thank yous, but I was wondering, would it have been at all okay to use that outside convo in the thank you? Something along the lines of, “like the Chevord Pachyderm I am extremely reliable,” or “just as a Nissaru Hummingbird gets great mileage, so too can I turn a small amount of money into a great project.” Or does incidental talk not related to the job just not belong in a thank you note whatsoever?

      1. Murphy*

        I would agree. Unless there was some natural way to work it in or an obvious follow up (“Here’s the contact info for that great Subevy agent I mentioned” [assuming they seemed interested]) I’d leave it out.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Yep, it’s overkill. The interview had a casual conversation with you and got a sense of how you would be in a more relaxed situation. Sounds like you did fine. It was actually good that you did not say that in the email.

      3. PB*

        This. I wouldn’t mind a quick reference to the conversation, along the lines of “I enjoyed meeting you and talking about the position and the Chevord Pachyderm,” but even that feels a little forced.

    1. Temperance*

      I would definitely not do that unless you had the sort of personality to make it into a joke. I would be put off by it, FWIW.

    2. Afiendishthingy*

      I think an offhand reference to a personal conversation could be totally fine in your follow-up/thank-you note, but the examples you gave come across to me as really forced and a little gimmicky.

      1. Emi.*

        Yeah, a “…and good luck with your car decision!” or something would make sense, but this seems awkward.

        1. earl grey aficionado*

          I was just going to say that adding an aside like this (“good luck with your car decision”) would be perfect. It’s brief, a genuinely nice sentiment, and something that could help jog their memory about you. But the examples you wrote in your comment would make me roll my eyes–I could practically hear a “womp womp” or “ba-dum-tiss” in my head.

          So it’s not so much that incidental talk doesn’t belong in thank you notes (in fact, it can be a great way to make them not sound rote) but that it has to sound natural and professional instead of corny.

          1. earl grey aficionado*

            Well, maybe “perfect” is too strong a word. I think there are potentially stronger things you could put in your thank you note. But I just wanted to affirm Emi’s example of a more natural-sounding way you could work it in.

      2. FaintlyMacabre*

        Yeah, definitely agree it sounds forced. I was trying to think of examples that sounded better but failed, which reinforces the consensus of it not being a good idea!

      3. LadyByTheLake*

        This — it’s one thing to mention the conversation like others here mention “here’s the contact info” “good luck in your search” but the examples were not great.

    3. Tangerina*

      Eh, I wouldn’t. But I completely understand the desire to do it in the hopes that it will make you juuuust that more memorable.

      1. FaintlyMacabre*

        Yup. On one hand, it felt like an “in”. On the other hand, it’s just a meaningless conversation.

        1. motherofdragons*

          The conversation itself probably served to make you more memorable! No need to try to fit it into the thank-you note, too.

    4. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I say no, don’t include anything like that in your thank you note. However, if he asked because he’s car shopping and you two discussed that specifically, you could add a PS with, “Good luck with your search for the perfect car!” to make things slightly more personal. (Note: I don’t think that would work in very conservative/formal fields, but it would in mine.)

      1. Artemesia*

        The examples are like the worst stereotypes of ‘salesy’ so unless you can do something more natural like some of the examples in the follow ups, leave it out.

    5. Susan K*

      Unless the job was related to car sales (which it looks like it wasn’t), that would probably come across as a little weird and random. The guy probably won’t even remember having that conversation and it will just end up being confusing.

    6. CupcakeCounter*

      At most you could have added a line about enjoying the convo about cars since it is a subject you really enjoy but don’t get to discuss as often as you’d like with another interested party.

    7. CuriosityCat*

      I agree that a “Good luck with your car decision” would have been appropriate if that was the context of your conversation.

      And, just out of curiosity – did the interviewer walk you all the way to your car? If so, what was their stated reason for going out with you? That seems odd and pings my radar for something I read in Internet-lore somewhere about interviewers doing that to check if (mostly female) candidates had car seats installed in their car, tipping them off that she had children.

      1. Just Me*

        Along that line, when I was renting out my condo, some advice I was given when meeting with potential renters was to look at their car to see how they would take care of your home. (I live in a very transit non-friendly city unfortunately.). My first thought on reading the comment was that the interviewer was checking out the interviewees to see if they were tidy, clean or had a car half filled with fast food shakes. They might be channelling their inner-sherlock to deduce the type of worker you are.

      2. Nita*

        Ouch. That’s horrible, if it’s true. I imagine the kind of interviewer that does that, is not doing it just out of curiosity. I guess if you’re interviewing and you have car seats, it’s a good idea to park far, far away and claim you did it because you felt like taking a long walk.

      3. FaintlyMacabre*

        I didn’t get the feeling that there was an ulterior motive- I’ve interviewed with these people before and this interviewer in particular is quite courteous and has always walked me to just beyond the door. It’s a small office and a small parking lot, making it pretty obvious what car belongs to the interviewee. He didn’t say he was buying a car, but mentioned that he had friends who loved theirs and wanted to know how I liked mine, so it really felt like it was just that particular vehicle that caught his attention.

    8. Chaordic One*

      I did have a boss who made a point of noticing what kind of cars applicants drove up in. I would hope that he was an aberration. He noticed if the car was clean or dirty and if it had a lot of dents. He seemed to prefer candidates who drove smaller and more reliable cars and had an aversion to candidates who drove hoopties, as well as those who drove more expensive luxury cars. (A clean car with no dents made a better impression.)

      As if interviewing weren’t already stressful enough.

      1. Kat in VA*

        Oh, great. I drove a beater truck for 15 years, and finally last year got a great new car – a Dodge Charger 392 SRT. It’s black, mean, has a ton of horsepower, and an…interesting license plate.

        Someone seeing my car wouldn’t necessarily link it to my personality, though!

    9. Sasha*

      I wouldn’t do this. Although you would have really great intention behind it, it will come across as try-hard and possibly immature.

  5. Turanga Leela*

    I’m on the verge of leaving a large Facebook group because of the flood of bad job search advice. I find the group otherwise fun and useful, but pretty frequently someone will pop up and ask for advice on resumés, cover letters, and interviewing. Without fail, people will start offering counterproductive advice.

    I sometimes resist commenting and sometimes jump in, but I feel like I’m screaming into the void. (And they’re weird screams: “Don’t put a bullet-pointed list of how you meet the job qualifications in your cover letter! Wear a #%?!& suit to the interview!”) I sometimes post links to AAM, but at a certain point I think people have probably heard of the site already and my links aren’t helpful.

    Where does this conventional wisdom come from? How do you address this kind of advice in your lives? I feel like I should ignore it, but it’s often presented as “I saw this GREAT cover letter idea and you should all use it,” and I think people get really misled.

    (Alison, this seemed more like a Friday post than a weekend post to me, but tell me if I’m wrong and I’ll re-post this weekend.)

    1. ZSD*

      Online, I combat it with links to AAM. :)
      In person, I just address it as clearly as possible in the moment. Recently, a student told me that someone advised her to hustle hard to get LinkedIn endorsements. I explained that those endorsements are useless because anyone can endorse you for any skill, regardless of whether they have witnessed you exercise it.

      1. Essess*

        Agreed. My mother endorsed me for one of my technical work skills! And also my uncle who has no idea what I even do for a living endorsed me for one. I have no idea why.

    2. DaniCalifornia*

      I mean if you google “resume + help/advice/template/ideas/etc” the amount of articles are just staggering. And I kind of wonder if people get overwhelmed and only click the first couple of links. Therefore the first page links even if they have bad advice get more of an audience? (I know that’s not how google works completely but I wonder how the first page has so much bad advice.) And it seems like there is always someone new writing about resumes and job searches.

    3. Anon bc Facebook uses real names*

      Is this the Nonprofit Happy Hour by chance? (I saw that cover letter with bullet points post too).

      1. Kimberlee, Ranavain*

        I know there’s stuff to reasonably disagree on, but I am staggered sometimes by the bad advice/bad practices that are encouraged in that group! Especially given how great Vu Le is in basically every way. I was sure I was gonna get kicked out within the first week I was there, for starting fights. I love that people share their experiences and advice, and lot of people are very excited to learn more and share, but sometimes people dig their heels in on just terrible things.

    4. NW Mossy*

      Whenever I get that shouting-into-the-void feeling, I think of that classic xkcd comic “Duty Calls,” where the protagonist can’t come to bed yet because “someone is wrong on the internet.” And then I chuckle, remember that there is a vast internet full of wrong that I cannot combat if I ever want to sleep again, and go to bed.

      1. Turanga Leela*

        I mentioned this problem to my partner, and he immediately brought up the same XKCD!

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              I’m stumped! It looks like your IP address recently changed and that’s when it started happening, but I don’t know why. It’s not an IP address that’s flagged for moderation or anything like that. I’m hopeful it’s a weird quirk of WordPress and it will work itself out, but I can’t say for sure. I know that’s really irritating though, so I’ll check with my tech person too.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      I dunno, I think the Slate comments section has a macro for “Why are you asking Prudie about a workplace problem? Those should go to AAM.”

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        And oh hey, today’s Dr Nerdlove cries out for that comment and there it is in the first 20 or so.

        Maybe it’s like saying “And glass is not a liquid.” You just have to keep repeating it because there’s always some new person saying “But I read it is a liquid.”

        1. fposte*

          Yup. Bad legal advice, bad medical advice, bad science info–there are a pile of really compelling narratives in every area that aren’t ultimately correct or helpful.

      2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

        It makes me crazy when Dear Prudence responds to workplace questions. He is SO BAD at it, and he knows Alison, and why doesn’t he just point people to someone who can actually help?

        (I don’t care for the current Prudie in any case.)

        1. Pop*

          I love the current Prudie and still think he shouldn’t answer workplace questions! He also *knows and admits* that he is bad at it and doesn’t have any ideas of workplace norms.

        2. Ann O.*

          I will always have residual love for Danny from the Toast, but IMHO, he really isn’t great at being Prudence. He has too many gaps and for whatever reason, bluffs his way through them instead of researching/asking his network for help.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            Age. I think Prudie just needs a broader range of life experience where David’s is narrow and deep.

    6. Antilles*

      Where does this conventional wisdom come from?
      This actually came up in the comments a few days ago, and my theory is this: The ‘conventional’ wisdom and inaccuracy comes about because the vast majority of people have absolutely no real good sources for information.
      Your friends and family don’t really know much beyond their own personal anecdotes which may or may not have any actual knowledge. Your parents probably haven’t job searched recently enough to actually keep up with things. The advice on the Internet varies wildly in quality from “awesome” (AAM) to “will get you blacklisted and possibly arrested” (Bob’s House of Gumption) and if you don’t have much knowledge yourself, it’s hard to tell the difference. Recruiters and career consultants seem like they should be knowledgeable, but far too many of them have never actually hired themselves, so they don’t actually know anything.
      So if you haven’t hired yourself, it’s really, really hard to sort out the difference between “legitimate and solid ideas” and “wow, that’s stupid”.
      There’s probably also a dash of ‘good advice is so simple it seems boring’ in there. The best general job advice you could probably give someone could probably be written in like, one sentence: “Write a decent resume, write a cover letter for each job, put as much effort/time into your Job Search as you would the real full-time job, and be patient.” But…nobody’s going to post that, because holy heck is that boring advice. It’s much more entertaining and dazzling to hear about This One Great New Trick to Convert Applications Into Interviews.

      1. Kimberlee, Ranavain*

        I think your theories are correct, but I would also say there are two other big factors:

        1) A lot of hiring managers are bad at hiring, no matter how many times they’ve done it, partly because:
        2) There’s a strong “this is how it’s always been done” bias in hiring, generally, regardless of how good or bad the particular practice is.

        So, a fair amount of “bad” advice comes from people who *have* done hiring, which means it is technically “good” advice, if you want to get hired by that person or someone who thinks like they do. But hiring managers are all over the map in terms of what they think works and what doesn’t, much of it based on their own experience (anecdata), and a small bit of it based on actual data (that could be anomalous for any number of reasons).

      2. Turanga Leela*

        I think part of it is also a negative reaction to how stodgy the good advice seems. People want to be fresh and modern, and it sounds so gross and old-fashioned that employers will judge you for not wearing a suit. But some will! And some of them are good employers you would want to work for!

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          It’s why “This one weird trick powerful people don’t want you to know” is synonymous with clickbait. Print your resume on aluminum foil so it stands out!

      3. SierraSkiing*

        Sorta like losing weight, honestly. Everyone has their anecdotes, and the general good advice of “exercise and eat in moderation” is less exciting than the latest pseudoscience fad diet.

        1. Amethystmoon*

          Yeah, fad diets don’t work. I’ve tried a bunch of them. If fad diets actually worked, I’m pretty sure we’d all be thin. Or at least mostly…

  6. Blue Tape Everywhere*

    I need to talk to one of my employees today about some behavior issues that are starting to affect her work as well as the morale of the rest of the team.
    The entire team is very high-functioning, close-knit, and does excellent work, and she’s one of the “best.” That being said, I’m concerned for her.

    I know that in her personal life she’s consumed with a huge number of things, including dealing with her late father’s estate, caretaking for her mother (who is in declining health), an unemployed husband with severe depression, potentially emerging mental health issues in one kid, another going off to college, along with the normal day to day stressors of life like housekeeping and kid activities. Lately, she’s been lashing out at coworkers, reacting badly to even minor requests or suggestions, and losing track of deadlines and details.

    I am 99% sure the work performance issues are a manifestation of the stressors of her personal life and I am empathetic to that. That said, it really is affecting the team as well as the projects that she is assigned to. I plan to just open up with a conversation about how things are going, ask if there is anything I can be doing in terms of assessing her workload or hours (she is exempt and has flexibility), and remind her of our EAP resources. Is there anything else you’d suggest?

    1. Temperance*

      I think you need to also bring up the performance issues, too, to make it clear that you have sympathy for her situation, but she’s been snapping at her colleagues.

    2. Tangerina*

      You sound like you’re right on track. Perhaps (if this is true) also remind her that her PTO is there for her to take when she needs/wants it?

      When I was going through an extremely rough patch in my life, one way my self-harming tendencies took form was refusing to slow down and take me-time. I think taking one or two days off during that time could have marginally improved things for me and my team.

      1. Bigglesworth*

        I agree with this 100%. Over the course of the last year, my husband was hospitalized for suicidal ideation due to depression (and it’s almost happened twice since then), we moved from the Midwest to the East Coat, my grandma passed away, I quit a paying job, started and completed two unpaid internships, hubby started a new job, and there’s been some family drama now that he’s on meds (his parents dislike that he’s on meds and seem to think that if ate healthy/slept more/etc. his depression would go away). This also all occurred during my first year of law school as well, which is hell anyway. Self-care and time for myself did not exist. In the middle of the chaos, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you what I needed help with or even how to ask for help. It was the people around me who said, “You are dealing with (emergency of the week), let’s postpone these two exams until xx date.” or “Your landlord said all shelves must be emptied out and cleaned because there is a roach problem and pest control is coming in tomorrow. I will be there by 4 pm with wine and cleaning supplies to help.” Those people were lifesavers, because I was too exhausted to even think about what help I needed to ask for.

        You sound like a great manager and it could easily be that your employee hasn’t even thought about taking PTO to deal with some of these things. She has a lot on her plate and worrying about PTO (asking for it, running out of it, etc.) may just be one more thing on her plate she doesn’t have the brain space for. If you talk to her and mention that it’s available, she may realize it’s a solution she hadn’t thought of before.

        1. Bigglesworth*

          Btw, I only share what has happened this past year to show that I empathize with your employee. I also wish you the best as you figure out how to talk to her about how her personal life is influencing her professional behavior.

    3. Natalie*

      Maybe suggesting (or insisting) that she take some time off as well. It doesn’t have to be a vacation, if the workload/PTO allows 4 day weeks or some long weekends for a little while could be helpful.

      1. Putting Out Fires, Esq*

        yes, this. Regardless of the busyness of business right now (hahaha), she sounds like she is in serious need of a good series of mental health days.

      2. Opting for the Sidelines*

        If you have the flexibility, can you give her a spot bonus of one or two days off?

    4. Sunflower*

      I think this is all good stuff. Although, I do think you need to directly address the lashing out. I’d ask her how things are going and see if she acknowledges it. If she doesn’t, I’d let her know that you understand things are going on but that’s really not acceptable and see if there’s something to prevent it from happening- maybe it means submitting requests by email so she has some time to compose herself for responding?

      1. AdAgencyChick*

        Yeah. I think you can be kind and understanding as a manager that her personal life is hard enough to warrant some drop in her work quality, while continuing to expect that she behave courteously to others.

    5. CatCat*

      Does she have vacation time available? Maybe some time off work would help so she can have some time to focus on these things.

      If it is possible to lighten her workload a little bit right now, that might also help.

    6. Nervous Accountant*

      Oh my god I thought this was about me for a quick half second. If it were though, I would hope that my boss/mgr would talk to me. Everything you said sounds fine but I would definitely address the lashing out. Chances are she doesn’t realize that she’s doing that.

      1. Nines*

        Yes!! I thought the same thing! Though it would have been me a couple years ago. And I Truly didn’t realize how bad it had become. Please talk to her! I knew I was “moody” and had snapped at people a couple times, but it was a much larger pattern than I realized. And WAY more people had noticed. I was horrified when my boss finally said something (I almost lost my job!) But I really wouldn’t have realized how bad it was if she hadn’t said anything. AND it prompted me to really look at what was going on and take better care of myself. It’s never a fun thing to hear. But it helped me a lot.

    7. Grits McGee*

      Given that she sounds so overwhelmed with stuff going on with her personal life, it might be helpful for you to come to the meeting with at least a few ideas for workarounds/accommodations. I bet it would really be helpful for her to have an idea of what extent of her options are.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      Ugh, I have been that person. Sole care giver for my father, he died, I did the estate work and then I started having some substantial health issues. I became a person I did not like. Not eating regularly, getting 1-3 hours of sleep a night and so on caused my health to tank and in turn my situation got worse.

      Fatigue is a major player here, mental, physical and emotional fatigue. There maybe some decision making fatigue going on also.

      I used to put myself off in a corner with a big project. I have also seen bosses use this same technique with other tired and grouchy people. It kept the person with a steady paycheck and it protected others from the verbal stuff.

      If you can give her time off ask her if she would like that so she can deal with some of this stuff.
      You might also suggest grief counseling. Anger is a stage of grief. We can be in more than one stage at any given time so it’s very possible that you could be talking with an angry person with tears in their eyes.

      If you see this, start talking softer. Ask open ended questions, not yes/no answer questions. If it goes rough for her, ask her if she would like sometime to think about these questions and come back to the conversation tomorrow or the next day. Then, actually follow up on the agreed day. (It may be that this stands alone to bring out the better side of her. But go ahead with the conversation anyway.)

      Come at it from the angle that she KNOWS she is not herself right now. You can say, you see that life is packing her a real punch right now. Be sure to say that the company so values her and her work. (We have to say things 3-5 times to be heard once, so keep this rule of thumb in mind.) If she mentions belonging to a church ask her if there are people at church who would help her.

      Before you start the conversation:
      1) Know the ways and the limits of how you can help her. Don’t say, “how can I help you?” She doesn’t know how you can help her. Tell her, “I would like to be of some help if I can. I think we have options a, b and c here if you would like to use them.”

      2) Have an idea of where you absolutely need her to work and what work can be delegated elsewhere.

      Just a suggestion but maybe working half days for a while would be helpful. Or maybe having every Friday [whatever day] off would be better. She needs a pressure release from somewhere. Small estates take about 8 months to a year to totally clean up. If her father had more then it will take longer. No way to know how mom is doing and what is involved there. Same with husband and son. In her mind she is going to be in this particular situation FOREVER with no reprieve/respite. We know that is not totally true but her life will change for sure.

      1. Manders*

        Yes, the decision-making fatigue is real! I’m going through a rough situation (not as the sole caregiver, fortunately) and my normal decisiveness has turned into constant second-guessing. If the snapping seems to be associated with coworkers questioning her decisions or asking her to make decisions, maybe that responsibility could be shifted to someone else for a while?

        These other suggestions are also great.

      2. Opting for the Sidelines*

        If you can reassign entire projects or shift deadlines out by a few days to a few weeks, this is a huge help as well.

        Does she have (or need to have) an administrative assistant assigned to her? Or a junior staff member or intern? Someone to take care of meeting minutes, scheduling meetings, responding to the mundane emails? Seriously, someone to take care of the “little stuff” is a huge help.

        1. Opting for the Sidelines*

          Also, I don’t know the financial situation of your employee here, but do you have housekeeping / lawn-mowing / dog-walking / grocery delivery services you or other staff can recommend. (I was advised in the past, in my stressed out world, that I should delegate off as much as I can and this included chores at home too. I cannot afford to delegate off that stuff, but it would be awesome if I could. ) Your employee may wish to do this but may not have the time to interview / screen / hire support for at home, so recommendations of trusted helpers would be kind.

          1. Blue Tape Everywhere*

            I truly wish this was an option for her. We work for a very modest-paying organization. She supports a family of six on her salary, so money is always tight as it is. Thank you for the suggestion, though.

            1. Logan*

              Some cities / countries have help which may be useful in her situation (for example elder-care for her aging mother). It may not apply in this situation, however if someone is willing to volunteer to help out with researching resources… then it may be a way to help which isn’t financial or time, but which could be very useful.

              I have a family member who has work experience with elder-care, and it’s great when a friend or family has an elderly relative (especially one who still wants to live at home), and my family member can supply several different organisations which provide physical devices or services (for example four hours a month for house-cleaning, or two hours a week for meal preparation, or 2 days a week of day care for a spouse with dementia at a local community centre… )

    9. Interviewer*

      If she needs to take time off for the medical stuff, she may be worried she’s taking too much or could lose her job. She might qualify for FMLA, if you are in the US and your employee is eligible for it.

    10. AMPG*

      If you think she might be eligible for FMLA due to her caretaker status, you should mention that, as well.

    11. Mobuy*

      My first husband told me he wanted a divorce on a Wednesday in the middle of my student teaching. Jerk. My co-op teacher had to tell me a few days later that I could go home if I wanted and I wasn’t doing myself any favors by staying. That shocked me into shaping up, because he wasn’t wrong! Tell her that you have sympathy but that she needs to shape up. Maybe in a slightly nicer way than that!

    12. Persimmons*

      I say this not as a criticism, but for additional context: EAP resources are IMO only useful up to a certain “load” of life events. Sometimes the amount of crap happening in your personal life makes it impossible to tack on one more responsibility, even if the company offers helpful/easy-to-use resources. I’ve been at points where calling a hotline/juggling one more appointment was just too much to ask of me, despite it being self-care.

      She sounds like she may be at that point. It might be worth floating the idea of intermittent FMLA instead of EAP.

      1. nonymous*

        Ultimately, she will need to cut back on the home front (e.g. by hiring some help, hubby and child get mental health care) or in the workplace.

        EAP will definitely help with sorting that out, and if Blue Tape can reduce expectations temporarily it may just give her space to take advantage of it. Given the constellation of health care needs in the immediate family, they may need a family care manager.

    13. gr8celife*

      My Dad died 3 months ago and my Mom has memory issues. I am still dealing with both. Actually coming to work is a relief from dealing with my personal stuff. What is helping me. My boss and HR have supported me stepping out for appointments. Stepping out to sit in my car and cry. Also all she is dealing with can feel overwhelming and stuck… things she can’t fix; Having a thing you can do well and complete in your professional life can actually help. From my viewpoint. 1. Tell her what specific things need to change; like the lashing out. 2. Discuss ways to handle it, i.e. stepping away; less interaction 3. Be specific in what the company needs her to do. 4. Remind her of things she does well and continues to do well.

    14. Anonny*

      I have to admit that I do this kind of thing when my mental health is in a bad spot. I recognize that it’s happening, but when the depression is bad, it’s like I have zero energy to spare toward stopping this behavior. So I know I’m doing it, I know it’s not ok, but since “fixing” it can feel impossible in the moment, I tend to put my head down, try to power through and get back to normal(ish), and hope that if I slip and get snappish, my coworkers will cut me a bit of a break in the meantime based on the goodwill I’ve built up with them. But even if she realizes this is happening, you saying something may be the push she needs to recognize that she can’t continue as is and she needs to find a way to address this. Urging her to take some time off and reminding her of the EAP resources would be a great place to start.

    15. RightsaidFed*

      I would much rather have an employee who is giving 100% 30 hours a week than giving 80% 40 hours a week.
      Flex time can give her the opportunity to give 100% of her focus to the issues she needs to deal with.

    16. Blue Tape Everywhere*

      Thanks, everyone. I appreciate the feedback.
      The conversation went alright. She immediately jumped to “am I in trouble?” I explained that she wasn’t in trouble, but that we needed to talk about how things were going. She was aware that she’s been snapping at people and her snark level has been turned up to 11 lately. As a couple of you pointed out, she said that she’s aware of the EAP resources but can’t imagine finding the time to use them. She is currently using FMLA for her mother’s medical appointments and care, so thanks for those of you who suggested it.
      Her body language started off very rigid and alert and sort of a weird mix of defiant and unsurprised, but by the end of things she was slumped and crying. I really stressed that I want her to know that I want to be supportive as much as I can. I recognized that she’d sort of checked out at the crying part and was itching to get out of her chair, so I just told her to think about it over the weekend and that we’d check in on Monday.
      I really wish her home life was less complicated to begin with. Things have always been chaotic for her, but the last several months have really thrown her for a loop.
      Again, thanks for the feedback.

    17. Tiff*

      It feels kind of passive aggressive to have a conversation like this when you know there is a problem and it is putting her job at risk… there is an excellent chance she’ll sidestep the issue and say that everything is fine, which then puts you in the very awkward position of calling her out on it.

      This is the kind of situation where you should be opening about her taking some paid time off – she has way too much on her plate and it is clearly unhinging her at work. You can even make it mandatory (as long as you aren’t depriving her of her paycheque by doing so) and stress that she needs to get back on track. You also have to put her issues on the table and tell her exactly what is wrong with her performance. She might not see it or she might be in denial… but it has to be addressed and will support your urging for her to take some time.

  7. Anon for this*

    Grr. My husband, who works for a public university, is being offered a promotion, and the published hiring salary rate goes up high enough that I thought he might get as much as a 40% raise. Now he’s only being offered a 16% raise because the university bases salary offers on your current salary. They normally don’t do more than a 10% raise for promotions, but his boss was able to argue for the 16% raise.
    Basically, the university is using the fact that they’ve already been underpaying him as justification to continue underpaying him.

    1. Anon for this*

      And don’t get me started on the long-term effects of this policy on gender pay discrepancies…

    2. Anonymous Cookie*

      A similar thing happened to me when I applied to a public institution. They based the pay they were offering on my salary at my previous employer. While it’s a 25% raise, I still would have preferred to negotiate my salary based on market rate and not the fact that I was already being underpaid.

    3. Higher Ed Database Dork*

      That is really annoying. Can he be reclassified or something like that? That was how my supervisors got me raises/promotions with fair salaries.

      Sympathy for my fellow public university staffer!

      1. Anon for this*

        Thanks for the sympathy!
        His boss says she’ll fight for him to get raises in the future, so maybe she was talking about reclassification. The university normally only gives across-the-board 1% or 2% raises per year (so COLA disguised as merit increases), so I’m not sure how she’ll be able to fight for raises any other way.

        1. Higher Ed Database Dork*

          We get those COLA increases as well and they are called “the merit pool.” Covers about the same amount as a parking pass, which is increased every year. :)

    4. Public Employee 4 Life*

      I work for state government, so this is all too familiar for me.
      When I hire new employees, I have a huge twinge of guilt being able to offer outside candidates way more than internal. It sucks. Side note – as a result of this stupid policy, I make more than my boss, whose title is 5 pay grades above mine. We have the same number of years of experience, but I started at a city agency, and he started with the state.

    5. Tangerina*

      That happened to me!

      I left the company within a year to get a 15% on top of the raise I got for my promotion. The company is still well-known for underpaying, so I didn’t take it personal.

      I’ve never understood this mentality. “Well the going rate for this job is $XXk, but since Bob already works for us, it’s fine to undercut him.”

      1. Underpaid Bookkeeper*

        YES! This happened with my current job. I started at $10.00 part time when I went full time they gave me $11/hour then I did research and was saying the current rate is $15/hr and they told me that is too much of a jump and only gave me $13.00/hour.

        I’ts like the easiest way to get a decent pay raise is to get a new job which is annoying.

      2. BillieB*

        This is common in major corporations too, not just government. I think this is a big reason why people don’t stay with companies more than a few years anymore. Nothing kills morale faster than knowing an external hire with half your level of experience makes 10K more a year. And the company policies enforce only offering up to x% raise for an internal promotion vs. a salary band that competes with the local market for an external hire. So if internal candidate is underpaid, they will likely continue being underpaid until taking a job with another company.

      1. CatCat*

        If I went back to exJob, I would be able to come in at a higher rate. Like if I went back into exactly the same classification, I’d be making way more than if I had just stayed there. Not that I would go back, they can’t actually come close to the pay range I have now.

        1. CupcakeCounter*

          Yup. I knew of someone who did that and it worked out great for him. His boss (who was awesome) took him out to lunch about 6 weeks before he finished his master’s program and told him exactly what would happen at our org. His advise was to go job hunting as soon as he had his paperwork. Our org have a $1,000 bonus and a 1% raise for the masters and then he left for 2 years. The boss then called him and said come on back and hired him on for a $30k increase over what he left 2 years prior.
          I always believed that man when he told me something – he was honest and straightforward. He told me to get the hell out and I did.

      2. Perhaps perhaps*

        Super fun state employee twist! In my state, if you move from one state agency to another (including universities), your salary increase is capped at 15%. This happens even if the line is funded at more than your cap.

        I know people who got their new boss to fill out the raft of waivers needed to go beyond the cap- but I also have colleagues who had to settle for the 15%.

        1. CatCat*

          Yeah, my state has crappy rules similar to that in the executive branch of state government. I don’t know if they apply to the universities though. I do know those rules don’t apply when you switch branches of government. So that’s what did.

    6. Anona*

      Yeah, I’ve been in this situation. The only way to typically get a significant salary hike is to leave and go to a new job, and then return. Or I’ve had some luck with leveraging a job offer to get a higher salary, but that will also be subject to rules most likely (and there’s the risk that they’ll say– congrats on your new job offer! and essentially force you to take it.).

    7. AnonToodles*

      At my public university you can only get a 10% pay rise when you change positions (unless changing from a staff position to a faculty position), whether through a transfer , promotion, or a reclassification. It really sucks if, like me, you came in at the very lowest rate for your job classification (jobs were scarce; I was desperate). Even a couple of “equity” adjustments have kept my pay at a much lower rate than others in comparable positions. This initial error on my part has dogged me for 25 years.

      But expecting your husband would get a 40% pay raise to be at the top level of his job classification was just unrealistic. Also, at least where I work, once you hit the top of your pay grade, no more raises! You are given a once-a-year stipend equal to the general merit increase (2-3% usually). That does not necessarily increase every year; the stipend next year is not based on salary+stipend this year.

      1. Buffy*

        That is how it works at my public university, when staff members hit the top of their payscale.

    8. A.*

      Sometimes the Provost can make an exception for a bigger raise. It really isn’t fair and the policy doesn’t make sense because you are essentially punishing people for being loyal employees and sticking with the university or company. They can bring an outsider in at the 40% raise but then they will lose the employee who gets fed up and finds a new job and there goes all the institutional knowledge the employee possessed.

      I work in government, so I get it. You pretty much are stuck at whatever salary you were hired under, which is very frustrating when people are hired after you with less experience at a higher rate. Imagine training someone with less experience than you who makes substantially more than you do. That is one of the biggest reasons I left my last job. I was tired to training people who made more than me.

    9. Kathy*

      I think this is the case for most universities so you want to go in as high up as you can. If he takes the job he should work for a couple years then apply elsewhere and get more money/ more senior role. My husband had the same issue at an Ivy he worked at and graduated from. When he ended up with another offer and was going to leave they could suddenly pay him more. He decided to leave anyway. It ended up being the best thing. Good luck!

    10. rageismycaffeine*

      In the public university system that employs myself and my partner, raises above a certain percentage can’t be approved by your supervisor. Or their supervisor. It has to go all the way up to the chancellor… and above a certain higher percentage, it has to go to the university system president… and above ANOTHER percentage, it has to go to the university system board of governors. Who don’t like approving anything.

      AFAIK that doesn’t apply if you’re moving to different universities within the system, but it does apply if you’re being promoted within the same university, even if your career banding is changing entirely.

      Sometimes the government really sucks.

    11. Blue*

      I work in higher ed, and I once turned down a job at a public university because their hiring manager told me the offer would be X, then HR found out what I currently made (in a location where the COL was about half of what it was in new university’s city) and said the offer couldn’t be more than X-2,500. That was a big nope from me. Such a terrible system.

      (If it makes you feel any better, my last job was at a very prestigious, very expensive private university, and my boss had to fight tooth and nail for a reasonable raise when I was promoted from an entry-level academic-year-only position to a more specialized 12-month role. Salary ended up being less than I thought it should be for the role, but he really had to work to get them to budge as much as they did.)

      1. Blue*

        Congrats to your husband on the promotion, btw! Hopefully he can use the experience to leverage himself into a position elsewhere that will give him a better salary.

    12. AFPM*

      Mine does the same thing. 16% is the max – or else you have to do an extensive job review with HR. They use a very good benefits package to justify it.

    13. Little Bean*

      Yep, this is how it is at my organization too. It’s generally known that the best way to make more money is to leave and get another job. Some people really do leave and then come back to the exact same job at a higher salary.

      However, the fact that you say the published hiring salary rate “goes up high enough” makes me think that there is a range, and it may not have been realistic to think he’d be hired at the top of the range – that’s actually extremely rare in my experience. People are almost always brought in at the lower-end of the range maybe up to the mid-point at the most; they will sometimes even say in the job description “range is $X-XX; position is budgeted for up to midpoint” or “we anticipate hiring in the first quartile of the range for this position”. This is so that there is room for potential growth. If you’re brought in at the top of the range, then they can’t give you a raise in the future.

    14. Specialk9*

      The only way he’s likely to get that is with strategic job hopping. Get a better salary and come back.

    15. WorkerBea*

      I had one place tell me if I wanted to make what was a lateral move in the same pay grade, I’d have to take a pay cut. HR tried to pass it off as not having enough experience for that job such that if they agreed to the transfer, my pay grade would have to be downgraded to Grade 5, but then expecting me to do the exact same job they would otherwise be paying at Grade 6. It was the most ludicrous thing I’d ever heard. The hiring manager thought I was absolutely qualified and wanted to give me the job. This was HR and upper management trying to prevent me from leaving the current position I was very good at.

    16. Dr. Doll*

      I was really annoyed a few years ago when HR at my univ balked at reclassifying one of my team members b/c it would be a huge raise, because he had been at a low pay rate for a long time — because for several years there had been raise freezes. Even my boss brought it up as a problem! Fortunately she was fair-minded enough to know I was right that the *job duties* were the deciding factor in a reclassification, and she signed off.

    17. Anon Raptor*

      I ended up fighting for two years to get my public university to pay me what I deserve. I honestly should have left, but everything else about the job suited me. My boss was on my side, but my raise was always not a “top priority”. They finally literally doubled my salary last month — but it was still like pulling teeth with HR, and they had to get a member of the executive cabinet to sign off. I’m very happy with my pay now. But I think the fact that they were willing (and could afford) to pay me double shows just how much they were underpaying me in the first place.

    18. MsChandandlerBong*

      That happened to my mother. She was going to take another job at her current place of work, as it paid $6 an hour more than her job. But then she found out, no, it only paid that much for an outside candidate. She’d only make like $1 more per hour for ten times the work, so she turned it down.

  8. Anon for this*

    I’m starting a new job next week — same department, but new role and different team. I’m moving from a shift work role to a more traditional job in which I’ll have my own individual responsibilities. This will be a welcome change for me because, when I was doing shift work, my workload was highly dependent on whether or not my coworkers did the work they were supposed to do, and they frequently did not.

    I was on a team of 12 people and typically did 20-25% of the work, and it was really frustrating to be working so hard while coworkers surfed the web for half the day and took 90-minute lunch breaks. Management was aware of the disparity but didn’t feel the need to do anything because they could count on me and a couple of others to make sure everything got done.

    Some of my coworkers are upset that I’m leaving the team for obvious reasons: the rest of them will now have a lot more work to do. I will eventually be replaced, but this job requires a lot of training and even an experienced person will take about a year to complete the training for our specific facility. Even then, it’s unlikely that my replacement will take on as much of the workload as I was doing.

    I’m starting to feel sort of guilty about having taken on so much of the workload and then leaving. It’s not that I wanted to do such a disproportionate amount of work; it was just that, if I didn’t do it, no one would, and the harder I worked, the more it spiraled out of control because others felt more free to neglect their work, knowing that I would pick up the slack (a wise former coworker warned me, “The harder you work, the harder you work.”).

    But now I’m afraid that I did the department a disservice by enabling coworkers to slack off so much for so long. I think they’re in for a rude awakening, not only because they will suddenly have to make up the large quantity of work that I had been doing, but also because there were things that I almost always did that nobody else did. Even when I went on vacation, certain things would just be left until I got back because no one else would touch them, almost as though they thought these things got done by magic. I’m just not sure what I should have done differently. Management was unwilling to address other people’s lack of productivity, and my coworkers got upset if I had the nerve to comment on it. Should I have held back and let things get missed so management couldn’t ignore what was happening, even though it could have caused major problems (like regulatory fines) for our company?

    1. Friday*

      Congratulations on your new job! Don’t worry about your old team; it’s your old management’s fault that things will suck going forward, not yours. They made a choice to let you do so much more than the others.

      1. Specialk9*

        I’m happy impressed, and half saddened, that you, OP, are so worried about a team, and managers, that gladly let you spiral in misery because it benefited them. They’re not good people. They’re users.

        Spend some good time figuring out why you care so much about crap people.

        1. Lance*

          Yeah… if anything happens to these people (and it probably will), that’s on them, without any question whatsoever. It’s not your fault that they decided to slack off, and management decided to do nothing about it.

    2. Discordia Angel Jones*

      Honestly? Your coworkers were lucky to have you and now that they won’t, it’s really not your problem and they will have to pull their socks up.

      Not your circus, not your monkeys.

      1. Anon for this*

        I know it shouldn’t really be my problem anymore, but since I’m still in the same department, and my new team works closely with my old team, it could still be a problem for me. Both teams are important for the department’s success, but there’s just not much I can do for my old team now.

        1. Purple Jello*

          You will have to learn to say (nicely but firmly) that you cannot help with old job task. Hopefully your boss will back you up.

          I’m in a similar situation and now that they finally have to have someone else do much of what I used to these a lot of scrambling going on.

        2. Observer*

          They can’t cause you problems if you don’t let them. I don’t mean physically preventing it, but just cheerfully, calmly and professionally refusing to engage.

          If they try to push their work on you, loop your own management in when you refuse, just to make it clear what it is that you are refusing to do. But even a manager that won’t manage is going to expect you to do the work of another department. They actually generally won’t WANT you to – especially if you are good and are picking up the slack for others – they are going to want you to pick up the slack for the people in THEIR department. And, of course, if you manager DOES manage, they are going to know that this is ridiculous and won’t expect it of you.

          As for the regulatory problems that could happen if your old team doesn’t do its job? Totally NOT your issue.

          1. Anon for this*

            What I meant about it causing problems for me is that, in my new role, I will need some of the work output of my old team for my job, so if that specific work doesn’t get done, it could affect my ability to complete my work. I think my new manager will make sure my old team doesn’t interfere with my transition to my new role, although I will still be around to answer quick questions if needed.

            1. Workerbee*

              Ah, that is where documentation is your friend. Email/paper trail requests, follow-ups, repeated follow-ups…make it hard to be disproved that you can’t complete Y until X is done by Old Team. This is not being mean. This is being a proponent of your current job and employment.

              You seem to sincerely care about your work and the organization, including outcomes; all extremely commendable. Now it’s time to take that care and turn it a little inward for yourself. I think it’s in your best interests here to direct your skills and desire to help toward you in the now, not backwards. You owe it to yourself to excel in your new job; you will not be able to excel in your new job if you keep your feet in old job; and it’s a disservice to your old team to do their work for them.

              This includes being available for quick questions. I am currently coaching a direct report whose role has transitioned slightly over the past few months. She’s the only one who does what she currently does, yet because she has all this knowledge about Old Role, plus she has an abundance of caring about the organization, her work, and our customers, that she will “just answer a question if it’s really an odd one, you know, or for This and That Other Reason.” She loves to help. Helping makes her feel good. She has her explanations for why it’s okay that she keeps helping.

              The thing is, while of course her knowledge wouldn’t disappear just because of her role change, and it’s not that I want to squash all things that make her feel good or turn her into the anti-help, her colleagues won’t get trained to go to the folks who legitimately should be answering those questions now. She trained those folks in her old role, yet those folks will never grow in confidence and skills as long as she’s doing all the thinking for them.

              Plus, taking up time to do “just this one thing”–which is never just that one thing, this one time–directly impacts her own work not getting done. Which concerns me as her manager.

              1. Anon for this*

                Yeah, I know I will have to be vigilant about covering my butt in case I don’t get what I need from my old team. It would sure be easier if I could count on someone to work insanely hard to make sure it all gets done, though!

                This is a new situation for me, because the last time I changed jobs, I left the company, so it was truly Not My Problem. This time, I’m not even leaving the department (I have a different manager, but the same grand-boss), so I don’t want them to regret giving me the opportunity for this promotion. In any case, I’m not going to be around forever, so the old team is going to have to get their act together. I don’t want to abandon them entirely, but you’re right that I will need to focus my time and attention on getting up to speed in my new role.

            2. BillieB*

              It’s the 80/20 rule – 80% of the work is accomplished by 20% of the staff. In this case, you were the 20%. Any good manager knows who their high performers are and what will happen to their department if they lose a high performer. There will be a disruption in productivity, and the affects may be temporary until they backfill your old position, or the team gets its act together. Document your requests of Old Team, but DO NOT take on any of their work. If they fail, it should be clear where the failure occurred.

        3. Appledumplinggang*

          Company has hired you for the new job. The new job has a job description. DO NOT LET OLD DEPT ISSUES BLEED INTO NEW DEPT/NEW JOB.

          That means you are no longer doing your old job. Company DOES NOT WANT YOU TO DO YOUR OLD JOB – if company did, then company would have given you more money or incentive to stay at old job.

          You must honour Company’s needs – regardless of what happens in old dept. It is not about ‘owing’ old dept anything – you were not an apprentice in a guild, you were not taken in uneducated, trained at great expense of the dept only to leave after two weeks.

          Your old tasks are now opportunities waiting for Old Dept members to take on. They will undertake this bootstrapping journey to self-sufficiency without you. Don’t let them use you as a crutch – you may think you are helping out, but really you are just keeping them helpless.

          There is a very interesting article in HBR this month about how women keep volunteering for duties that do not help them in their jobs -they do so out of guilt and because they think no one else will do them — but it turns out that is not entirely true. Someone will step up in old dept., eventually.

          1. birthdaycakeismyspirtanimal*

            This happened to me — someone left my group, then I got hired a month or two afterwards, and then it was like a video game where you have to jump for the golden coins. Find a need, let my manager know and suggest how to fix, fix and then pats on back. I was very, very, very glad that old person didn’t come back to help out !!!!

        4. Pam*

          You may also want to loop your new management on this now, so they can protect you from the demands of the old group.

    3. voyager1*

      Oh gosh I could have written this a few years ago. In short, no you shouldn’t feel guilty about leaving and yes your old team is in for a rude awakening.

      As for letting work just not get done, once you start being the one who gets things done you pretty much always have to be that person. Most managers aren’t going to think, “wow Anon was such a rock star and did the work of 5 people but guess she got burned out and left some stuff undone so guess we better pay these fines and crack the whip on the slackers so Anon doesn’t have to do everything” Nope they are not going to think that, they are just going to be mad at you and blame you.

      Glad to hear you are getting out, sounds like you have a good work ethic, hope you much success in your new role.

      1. Anon for this*

        Yes, that is exactly it! People would tell me, “Management isn’t going to fix anything as long as the work is getting done,” implying that it was my fault for getting the work done, but I highly doubt they would have fixed anything if I had just stopped getting the work done.

        1. Blue*

          This was my last job. And yeah, ideally, you and I both would’ve left the other team members to suffer and force management to do something, but I couldn’t leave things undone either. What’s done is done at this point, so I think you put it behind you, DON’T feel guilty about your former coworkers drowning without you (you paid your dues – it’s their turn to step up), and focus on your new role.

          Silver lining to all this: because I kicked booty in that job, I found a new job I’m pretty excited about. It sounds like you’re in the same position, so congrats and good luck!

          1. GibbsRule#18*

            I experienced something like this a couple of years ago but it was my boss who was the problem. She was so lazy, but she grew to expect that I would cover her work and cover for her. It got to the point where every evening I’d look at her calendar and remind her of the important meeting she had the next day. I was not her assistant, and it was not my job. It took me a while to realize that a. she was taking advantage of me and b. my extremely high stress level was due to her inaction. Once I realized all of this, I stopped reminding her about her meetings. It took exactly two days for her to not show up to a meeting SHE HAD CALLED with her boss and her bosses boss. The bosses assistant came and asked me where my boss was and I just shrugged and said I didn’t know. While it didn’t result in her shaping up, when I went to her boss and said I needed a new job, she got it and found me anther position in the organization. It was really hard for me to to stop doing things that would make our unit look good, but I’m so glad I did it.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        Yeah, this sounds like a variation on “If you want something done, give it to the busiest person.” Both coworkers and management have determined that this works out great for them. Short term.

      3. Appledumplinggang*

        The quietly proactive are never recognized. Those that do are expected to do more.
        What is will probably happen is that three-four months after Anon is gone, there will be a meeting, someone will identify a few of the most needed undone tasks and an additional hire will be made to handle these items. Then the someone who identified (but did not take on any of the tasks) and requested the new hire will be made the new hires supervisor, and the someone will be given a job title bump and a raise.

        Because in business, being reactive gets you noticed. Coping with a crisis is sign of leadership. Quietly avoiding crisis in the first place just gets you written off as having a low-stress job.

    4. Sara*

      Do not feel guilty for being a responsible adult. You did the best you could with what you were given, but enabling lazy coworkers was pretty much the only solution. They created the problem you worked hard to solve, now they have to fix it themselves.

      Good luck in your new role!

    5. Good Luck*

      What’s done is done. Your team used you and your management failed you, knowing you would pick up their slack regardless of the extra stress it must have caused you. Now they’re going to have to change their ways or face the consequences. It’s time to move on and start looking forward to excelling in your new role! Good luck with your new team and don’t let what happened with your old one hold you back. Stand up for yourself in your new position and don’t fall back into old habits, but don’t let this experience continue to haunt you/worry about the “disservice”. You can hopefully have a fresh start, use it to your full advantage!

    6. Lora*

      I am in a highly regulated industry, and I’m telling you it’s management’s job to allocate work in a way that it gets done in time to meet the obligations. That includes anticipating vacations and having business continuity plans in case your best worker bee gets hit by a bus/wins the lottery.

      If management comes to the realization that they need to be more rigorous about accountability…well, some people learn primarily from personal experience. Weirdly, this seems to be MORE the case in highly regulated industries: I’ve told many many MANY people who have never been in an FDA audit / 483 remediation / Warning Letter remediation / Consent Decree Hell what exactly that is like and how not at all fun it is and all the things that happen which you can totally avoid if you stop doing dumb things immediately and get your act together. They almost never do, they sort of roll their eyes and stick their fingers in their ears and sing “LALALALA IT WON’T HAPPEN TO MEEEEEEE” right up until it happens to them.

      It feels a bit like the dynamic when an adult tells a teenager to put on a coat because it’s going to be cold, wear your seatbelt, make sure your phone is charged up, eat your vegetables, stop at two drinks, don’t drink and drive etc. – people will verbally acknowledge that these are all prudent and wise actions, but in real life they just…don’t. Then when the bad thing happens they are shocked, shocked!

      1. NW Mossy*

        Absolutely. The state of the department is exactly what management gets paid the intermediate bucks to be responsible for, and by abdicating their responsibility to hold employees accountable for poor results, they now have to face the consequences of that past failure. It will probably be painful for them, but it’s a problem of their making, not yours. Go forth into your new role with a clear conscience.

    7. Free Meerkats*

      In that position, you did what you needed to do for your own reasons. It’s not like management didn’t know what was going on. Now you aren’t going to be in that position anymore and they’ll manage somehow. It may involve pain, but that’s not your problem.

      Your take-away can be to listen to what your wise former coworker said. don’t become the only one (or one of the few) that makes sure all the t’s are dotted and the i’s are crossed – unless that’s what your job is. It may be uncomfortable, but you’ll manage.

    8. Alternative Person*

      I think you did the best you could with the tools you had. Situations like the one you describe are no-win for the hard worker because Cthulu help them, they care. Lazy co-workers are happy because they can collect their paycheck for even less effort and the manager is happy because they don’t have to deal with the problem.

    9. Wendy Anne*

      Don’t feel guilty for being a good employee. I’m currently looking for a new job and I know that when I leave, all my work will fall to an already overworked colleague. I feel bad that it will happen, but if I allowed my feelings to make my decision then I’d never leave. Perhaps you leaving will be the wake up call that management needs to do something about the slackers?

    10. AdAgencyChick*

      Yes, in retrospect, it probably wouldn’t have been a bad idea for you to let some balls drop. But that’s all in the past, and now you should turn a very deaf ear to cries for help while you’re in your new job. Since you’re at the same company, I bet you’re going to get a lot of requests to help tide things over. Practice saying, “Can’t help with that, I need to focus on my new duties” cheerfully but utterly firmly.

      And you should not feel guilty about leaving!

    11. Not So NewReader*

      Over thinking. We should all do our jobs to the best of our ability. You developed yourself and grew, now you have a new job because of your work ethic. You earned your paycheck while you were there . Others freeloaded off the system, but that is nothing under your control, nor was it part of your job to cure the freeloading.
      Of the good workers left behind, remember, no one came running over to you to rescue you. We each have to rescue ourselves. The good workers will have to find their own path just like you did.

    12. Observer*

      There is nothing you should have done differently. It would have been (somewhat) ok for you to not work so hard if you did not want to, but it was not your responsibility to insure reasonable work distribution. That is what managers are for! (Although take it as a lesson for when YOU are in some sort of management role – failing to address issues is easier in the short term, but creates problems in the longer term.)

      As for your coworkers, be glad your leaving people like that. You do not owe them anything, and you have no reason to feel guilty. The “rude awakening” they are in for is totally THEIR problem, and not yours in the least bit.

    13. Artemesia*

      So what? That they are slackers and that management is incompetent is not your problem. Don’t take on the emotional load for other people’s failings. This will be a lovely learning moment for the manager who allowed this to happen. Let’s hope it keeps him or her up at nights.

    14. LilySparrow*

      I think you don’t need to feel guilty. You’re right that you were helping to enable a dysfunctional and unsustainable situation. But the ultimate responsibility doesn’t lie with you – that’s on management. And yes, I do think it would have been appropriate to set boundaries on your workload and time at work, inform management of the things that were going to go undone, and then let them deal with the consequences if they weren’t done.

      That’s the manager’s job.

      It’s a good learning opportunity about setting boundaries – it’s actually better for the organization in the long run.

      And if your old department’s dysfunction interferes with your new job, that’s for your new manager to deal with.

    15. OhBehave*

      To answer your question, yes, you should have held back. I totally understand your viewpoint. It’s got to be done or else. That’s the danger of picking up the slack for others. You leave and now what? Well, management will finally realize they need to MANAGE and hold people accountable for their piece of the pie. Hitting them in the bank account will bring this to a head.
      If you have anything to do with training your replacement, I would warn them about this. You may not want to name names, (they will figure it out on their own!), but a word to them would be good. Stick to the job duties that are actually yours.

  9. Meredith Brooks*

    How can I be a more positive thinker and see the good in folks?

    Frequently I see Alison giving folks the benefit of the doubt and mentioning the good in people. And while I’m not a complete pessimist, I have trouble accepting the goodness of management (and sometimes people in general). Perhaps it’s because I’ve been on the wrong side of the stick a few times or it might be that I’m not looking hard enough. So, I ask you fine folk — what tips, tricks, words of advice, or soliloquies do all y’all have that might benefit a somewhat overly logical, realist who wants to be a more positive person?

    1. ZSD*

      I think the fact that you WANT to see people more positively is a good first step. Now maybe you can build a habit of double-checking yourself when you realize you’re assuming the worst about someone. “Instead of laziness forgetfulness, is it possible this person is late for this meeting for a good reason?” Etc.

    2. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Following this thread. I, too, consider myself a cynical realist and have very little faith in humanity these days.

      1. General Ginger*

        Same. I really want to look on the bright side, but it’s just getting harder and harder.

      2. Mad Baggins*

        Me too, I could have written this–I’m happy it seems to be a skill we can learn!

    3. Temperance*

      I’m not one of those “look on the bright side” / “everyone is trying their best” types of people, and I think that’s okay. My boss is that type, and I think it’s helpful to have both perspectives (so does she).

      I try to be slightly more positive, but I draw the line at making up motivations that might explain crap behavior, if that makes sense.

    4. Higher Ed Database Dork*

      It helps me to remember most people aren’t doing things AT me, it just happens to affect me (Captain Awkward has a lot of good advice on this). Also, there are a million different reasons why something could have occurred the way it did, and I don’t know the whole story behind anything. Especially with management – there’s so much that I just don’t know that is within their scope. And I don’t need to know all of it, but if I have a decent boss, I remind myself to trust that she will let me know if something affects me.

    5. Wannabe Disney Princess*

      This is more for in general, but I think it can carry over a little.

      I live by Mr Rogers’ philosophy: Look for the people running in.

      Whenever there’s a disaster, for example, I try to find stories about the people running in to help. Or organizations supporting the causes I do. It takes effort to find the positive (or less negative) stories, but they’re out there.

      And I don’t know if there’s a scientific reason or anything, but I’ve found that when I incorporate more positive news/stories/etc, the less awful everything feels. Is the current news cycle still depressing for me? Of course it is. But I don’t let it drag me down because I know there’s people running in to help. And that gives me hope.

      1. Mad Baggins*

        I really like this. Instead of thinking about how awful it is that we have A Problem, and how could people have let this happen, and now everything is going to be terrible now and forever, I’m going to try to think about the people running in to solve it. And try to be the kind of person Mr. Rogers believed I could be.

    6. Natalie*

      Ages and ages ago, during a volunteer training, they had us do an exercise where we came up with 6 possible explanations for some given bit of behavior. The point wasn’t to decide *why*, or even guess at it, but more to routinely remind oneself that you can’t really know someone’s underlying intentions or motivations and they can range widely.

    7. writelhd*

      write down the things people teach you, when they do something that you can learn from.

    8. Sunflower*

      I also consider myself a realist but the way I see it is that everything anyone does is to benefit themselves. I don’t mean that they are maliciously out trying to cause harm to people- just that they are so focused on themselves, they don’t realize the consequences of their actions impact other people. I think what might help is to keep the focus on yourself- that doesn’t mean climbing to the top and not caring who you hurt along the way. It just means doing what is best for you even if it’s not ‘best’ for everyone else. I think maybe something that would help is to speak up and advocate for yourself more if you don’t already do that.

      1. Meredith Brooks*

        You and I are in the same boat my friend. I don’t speak up for myself much, so you’re probably right in that if I advocated more for myself, I would be less concerned about the actions of others.

        1. Sunflower*

          I’m also trying to get better at advocating for myself. I realize how many people at work(and in life) get things because they ask for them. I need to talk myself down sometimes of the consequences of asking- I fear if I ask and get told no, I’ll get labeled as needy or difficult. It’s a struggle but I’m trying to let those thoughts go and take small steps- just yesterday I asked my boss to reassign something and it felt amazing! I recommend picking up ‘Your Erroneous Zones’ by Wayne Dyer. It helps me put into perspective of how much our feelings are affected by things other people do as opposed to what we ourselves do. I’d recommend grabbing it from the library.

      2. CTT*

        I was going to say something along these lines. I have a friend who takes others’ incompetence very personally: someone waits to long to email back, it’s because they’re messing with her; painters hired to renovate the building do a crappy job, it’s because the administration doesn’t give a shit; etc. I try to commiserate but also be semi-positive, because I tend to think that most people aren’t trying to actively screw someone over, they’re just not great at their job or don’t prioritize well, or sometimes really are a jerk. But I think in these instances “seeing the best in people” might be better understood as bad behavior isn’t necessarily malicious.

        1. fposte*

          This week’s Ask Polly was really good on this. I liked this quote a lot: “I used to think that when I was angry or frustrated or something went wrong, that meant someone somewhere had screwed up or wronged me. This is an offshoot of believing you’re in control of everything: If things go wrong, it’s either your fault or someone else’s. SHIT DOESN’T JUST HAPPEN.” (Which, as she then explains, is of course not true.)

          Link to full article in followup.

            1. Specialk9*

              That’s a powerful concept. And I think this is a real fallacy that others think about us as much as we do, and thus their actions reflect them choosing to do us harm.

              Another fallacy is that most people believe that *I* make mistakes because of a really good reason, but *others* make mistakes because they’re bad people.

          1. Actuarial Octagon*

            Thank you for this! I have been forever confused by my mother’s anger about certain circumstances and I think it is because she very much feels this way and I very much do not.

      3. Manders*

        This is a great point. A lot of the time, when I’m feeling very resentful, it’s because I haven’t actually spoken up about what I need.

    9. LQ*

      I think that you don’t always have to think oh they are Good People. You can think, they are people doing their best and they might be misguided, they might not have all the information (I might not/likely don’t have all the information), they might have a different strategy. I rarely think people are Good. But I think a lot of people are trying, or doing what they can given the information they have and the tools they have, or people have more important things in their lives than their work that distracts them.

      Assuming people are Bad isn’t really realistic. Assuming they and you may not agree or have the same fundamental understandings of a situation is realistic.
      (I hope that helps. I have days where I can use this more or less.)

      1. Manders*

        Yes, this is what I do. I think trying to convince yourself that everyone’s inherently good isn’t the right way to look at people, because then when they do something bad or even just thoughtless, it feels like a betrayal. But if you can believe that everyone’s the hero of their own story, and they’re making decisions that seem like the right choice to them in the moment, it’s easier to accept that they’re not actively being malicious.

        I also think it’s a good idea to take a hard look at your news and media consumption if you’re constantly getting into a cycle of thinking everyone’s either great or terrible. Social media in particular can make it too easy to sort people into the “perfect” or “trash” categories based on their best or worst public moments.

        1. fposte*

          Oh, I totally agree with that! That binary approach is pernicious as hell.

          The thing I remember, too, is that we’re all somebody’s “other people.” We’re all inexplicably frustrating or distressing somebody at some point. There’s a cognitive bias whose name I’ve forgotten, where if you’re rushed and driving to work and cut somebody off you think “Oops, that was awkward; fortunately I’m usually a really courteous driver” and if somebody cuts you off you think “Self-entitled asshole!” And the truth for pretty much all of us is somewhere in between.

        2. Mad Baggins*

          This is super helpful. Meditation Minis has a meditation podcast on thinking about other people as just little kids, doing the best they can trying to figure things out. I really like this attitude.

    10. gecko*

      1. It can be easier if you feel like you have some measure of control or power in a situation. Not “over” someone, but for instance having enough control over your environment to say, ok I can leave this situation if I need to.

      2. I hope that you give yourself the benefit of the doubt. When you cut off another car in traffic, or you have to tell someone at work “no I can’t help with that”–you have your reasons and you’re not going on and on about how annoying you are, right? (I really hope you do that.) Other people are doing the same thing.

      3. You need emotional energy to put that energy into being empathetic.

      4. As Natalie said, put some thought into reasons why some person may have acted some way. You may come out at the end still having not much sympathy for them, but you might have a bit more empathy and be able to perceive them in a deeper way.

      5. Read or listen to books. That really genuinely exercises the empathy muscle, particularly if they have fairly three-dimensional villains–Jane Austen, for instance–and particularly if you go into it interested in thinking about the characters.

      6. I think the biggest thing is to recognize when you’re looking at a situation cynically. Cynicism is as much a biased point of view as Pollyanna-nism, and if you pause for a moment to see if you can come to a more balanced perspective, that would do a lot.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Just my theory but the way we see others is tied to how we see ourselves. Practice talking nicely to yourself. If you make a mistake and tell yourself, “Dumb ass, what did you do that for?” then stop. Correct yourself to say, “Phew, at least I caught this error, now I will fix it.”

        We can’t give to others what we don’t give ourselves. It’s too hard.

    11. Deryn*

      This may or may not be exactly what you are dealing with, but I’ll throw it out there for what it’s worth. Several years back I was getting really worked up (internally) over negative things, and I somehow came to this realization that for a lot of things (though not all things) that I was getting upset and stressed about, being upset and stressed didn’t change anything. Sitting and ruminating on it and venting about it only changed one thing – it made ME feel worse. After realizing this, I made a conscious effort to notice when those feelings were popping up and to take a second to pause and mentally say to myself, “That sucks, but I can’t change it. I wish it wasn’t like that, and now I need to move my thoughts to something else.” In sort of a mindfulness-type way, I found myself more and more able to have a negative thought and then just move on, rather than obsessing over it. It took a LOT of practice and a LONG time to be able to do this automatically. And sometimes it still doesn’t work. When the “situation” is actually a person, I try to stop myself and think of a few reasons why they might be doing that/acting like that, or a time I did something similar. Again, it’s taken so much practice to make this a true habit and I’m still working on it. Also, this clearly doesn’t work in every situation. Some things you can AND SHOULD be upset about!

      As far as management specifically, have you known any good management? I have found it helpful to remind myself of the people I have found to be good and good-intentioned, and that they can’t be the ONLY ones. Thinking something like, “Meredith was a great manager, and there are definitely more Merediths out there. Maybe they aren’t here now, but they’re definitely out there,” helps to lower my blood pressure s smidge :)

    12. mayfly*

      I see optimism and looking for the good as defiance against the bad in my workplace. I’m not letting the way others conduct themselves change how I approach my life and work. Also, I don’t expect people to be good all the time, or even most of the time. I don’t think they’re bad, per se, but weak, self-serving and frequently oblivious. And since I struggle with these things, too, I can empathize better.
      In addition, I find that the straight-up jerks are usually desperately trying to use their career to make up for some deep lack in their lives, and they need to fill that gaping hole in their souls so badly that they will perform terrible feats of jerkiness to get promoted, make more money, exert more power, etc. Doesn’t make them fun to work with, but it takes some of the sting out of their jerkiness.

    13. matcha123*

      I hope for the best, but won’t be surprised at the worst. I basically know what could be wrong, but hope that this time something good could happen. It’s about 50/50, and I try not to dwell too much on the “wrongs.”
      It might help to think about the things you could let go easily or slide, and let those smaller things be washed away when/if they happen. That way, it’s more about the big things that go wrong and since those should hopefully be less frequent, you can deal with them better…?

    14. Jadelyn*

      I too am pretty cynical and take a more realist/pragmatic view of the world – you’d never describe me as an optimist. So for me it’s less about “looking for the good in people” and more about “reminding myself of the fundamental attribution error” – basically, when you look at your own behavior, you attribute it to your circumstances, but when you look at someone else’s behavior, you attribute it to their inherent personality.

      It’s the difference between “I snapped at my coworker because I’m stressed about this deadline” and “he snapped at his coworker because he’s a jerk who’s short with people.”

      So mostly I just remind myself that I’m not psychic (at least no more so than your average admin is expected to be), I don’t know what’s going on in that person’s head or in their life, and there might be explanations I’m unaware of. It doesn’t make me see good in people where there may or may not be good to see, but it reminds me to take a step back and be patient in assessing someone’s behavior, rather than jumping to the harshest judgment.

    15. ErgoBun*

      As a manager myself, I can say that generally management is making the decisions they are making for a reason, and sometimes it’s because management has a perspective (or a pressure!) that you aren’t seeing. That’s management’s job. Not everyone is great at it, but we are trying to respond to our own managers and other business decisions that our employees maybe aren’t a part of.

      See if you can get your management to explain their perspective on decisions — not in an adversarial, “why are you doing this to me?!??” way, but from a place of wanting to understand. This will benefit you in the long run, because managers really appreciate employees who have a bit of perspective outside of the guardrails of their daily tasks.

    16. Falling Diphthong*

      One thing I find really helpful, here and elsewhere, is when someone can come up with a story that puts weird behavior in perspective. “That sounds like me five years ago, when X.” To borrow from upthread, it’s like the difference between being snapped at by someone, and when they act the same but you know they have a fading parent, ill teen, and unemployed spouse to cope with at home and our on the fraying threads of their last nerve. I still think actions matter over intentions, but if you can get at the weird logic behind something it helps make it more tolerable.

    17. Aurélia*

      I don’t know about the goodness in people, but last year was tough and a counselor recommended “The Four Agreements” which was a little hokey but I really appreciated the central sentiments:
      1) Be impeccable with your word
      2) Don’t take anything personally
      3) Don’t make assumptions
      4) Always do your best
      These have led me to be more positive. Most things crappy people do are b/c they are crappy! Taking things less personally has made me happier. It can be tough, but if I take a deep breath and think about it I can usually let things go and feel more peaceful.

      1. fposte*

        I think “don’t take anything personally” is really key there. Most of the time it isn’t personal and you don’t gain anything by treating it as if it were, and when it is, there can be a big emotional and pragmatic advantage in not engaging with that direction anyway.

        1. Meredith Brooks*

          But I wonder sometimes if we take “don’t take it personally” too far? If someone is treating you poorly, that’s personal, regardless of whether the intent is personal, the action and aftermath certainly are.

          1. nonymous*

            I think the point of the cliche is to focus on problem solving. So if my dog is repeatedly digging up my prizewinning flowers, yeah that’s not personal, but I should definitely put in a better boundary. But because it’s not personal, I’m not going to scold my pup for hours and expect him to apologize profusely.

          2. Natalie*

            Yeah, I don’t read “don’t take it personally” as “let people do whatever they want”. The point is that they probably aren’t doing [whatever] because they really hate you, Meredith Brooks, and are plotting your demise by head explosion. And if they were, god forbid, that wouldn’t make a difference because it doesn’t change how you react. If someone is treating you poorly deal with the behavior, not the intent or motivation.

    18. NW Mossy*

      I once had an employee similar to you, and her negativity ultimately got so strong that I ended up doing some very serious coaching with her on it because it was hurting her working relationships. To her everlasting credit, she put the effort in and genuinely turned it around to a level that absolutely stunned me, and she later said to me that doing it was one of the best things she’d ever done for herself.

      We focused her plan primarily on changing how she communicated with other people, because her lack of trust in others was showing up in snarky emails and a prickly demeanor. We talked about specific phrases to use to get herself into a more collaborative, accepting state of mind – things like “I can see why we’d want to do that” (when responding to a change), “Can you help me understand why that didn’t work?” (when responding to negative feedback), or “Oh, thanks for explaining, that makes sense” (when absorbing new info). We also talked about getting off email and into face-to-face conversations more, because that helps a lot with seeing the person on the other end as a full human, not just an irritation machine.

      Initially, it was really hard for her to use those phrases – they felt unnatural and stilted. But what she found was that as she used them, she started getting warmer reactions from colleagues and having more positive outcomes. As these accumulated, the relationships got better and they rebuilt the lost trust that was underpinning her general pessimism. It was a very cool virtuous circle and it happened really quickly – just a few weeks was all it took to start seeing results.

      While I have not read this book, she also found Adam Grant’s “Give and Take” really helpful along the way. It’s focused on how people form working relationships, and she said it gave her really good insight into how other people might think differently from her.

      1. Meredith Brooks*

        I won’t lie, I have had days where the snarky leaked out. But, since I’m a people pleaser at heart, I take my cynicism/realism and shove it into a little box while I’m talking to others and generally always try to appear friendly, helpful, and supportive – even when I’m feeling the opposite.

    19. HannahS*

      I think if you see your own assessment as being overly logical and realistic, you’re not really acknowledging to yourself that you could be wrong, you know? Using that kind of language within your own head sets you up to see optimism as unrealistic and delusional, and it will be hard for you to change your own mind if you don’t change your language. So I think you have to change your inner monologue. Challenge yourself, argue with yourself–when you make an assessment about someone, think about why you could be wrong.

    20. Little Bean*

      When I was in graduate school, my cohort was having a retreat to set our expectations for ourselves as a class and someone said “assume the best”. It’s simple but it stuck with me. To me, this just means that, before you assume a person is being rude or inconsiderate or not valuing your time or whatever, you first assume that maybe they don’t have all the information, or maybe YOU don’t have all the information that would make their actions make sense. If you ask the follow up questions, or you have the same experiences repeatedly with the same person and they are still being a jerk, then at that point it is fair to conclude that they are just a jerk. But in my experience, this is actually really rare.

      It also helps that I have been in positions where I have to tell other people no to things and because they are not in my role, they don’t understand why. To them, it’s just one simple request and it would only take a minute so why can’t I just do it? Because there are literally hundreds of other people who would ask for me for the same thing if they could. But if all you know is that you made a simple request and got turned down, it’s easy to assume the worst (that I’m a jerk who doesn’t like to help people) instead of the best (that I’m prioritizing and doing the best I can with the limited resources I have).

    21. Accidental Analyst*

      Put yourself in their position. If you said or did what they did what might be some of the reasons do that. Eg they might have brushed off your request for help. If that was you could it be that there were competing requests and the other requests had higher priority etc

      If you’re able to come up with a couple of reasonable explanations for why you would/could act like that good. It doesn’t mean you have to accept bad behaviour. But it may help how you approach things. You always brush me off vs I know there are a lot of demands on your time but I really need help with x. How to we make it happen

    22. Frankie*

      You know, for me it’s pretty centrally about humility and not assuming your assumptions or ideas about a person or situation are necessarily correct. So in a scenario where you find yourself thinking the worst, distrusting, or judging, what are the alternate explanations available?

      People don’t always run around with the best of intentions, but I do think it’s true that a lot of conflict and unhappiness comes from misunderstanding and miscommunication. I’ve been told that most people are doing their best to get through the day, and I think there’s some merit in that idea, although some people definitely get through the day on destructive impulses towards others.

    23. birthdaycakeismyspirtanimal*

      If you want to live in a world where people acknowledge best work, you have to acknowledge best work.
      If you want to encourage best work, you should acknowledge best work.

      Most of the time it is the system that failed us, not the people in the system. When people help me defeat the system, I make it known that it got done because of XXX. Basically, I make them famous in our group. And then the thanks are not just coming from me to XXX. And always cc XXX’s manager.

    24. Ex-Academic, Future Accountant*

      I’m somewhat like you, and I sometimes see Alison’s advice as “act as though you’re giving someone the benefit of the doubt, even if you’re not.” Like, adopt a tone that says we’re all reasonable adults and of course we want to find a solution to this problem that’s good for all of us; but sometimes the person “sucks and isn’t going to change.”

      Captain Awkward’s recent “Rule Explainer” post talked about the dark side of giving the benefit of the doubt (specifically in the case of mental health issues).

  10. Discouraged and Tired*

    I’m feeling incredibly discouraged at work. My manager(who I didn’t get along with and was clueless) just left- shes my second manager in 2 years(both were asked to leave) so clearly my company has issues hiring for the role. She gave me a not great annual review before she left and I feel that was the reason I didn’t get promoted(jobs don’t need to open up for us to be promoted). My interim manager went through my review with me and was surprised- she thought the parts I was rated poorly on were unfair and that I do a lot more than people think I do but all she could offer was that she is pushing for another review in 6 months- can’t promise anything. Now that we are without a manager for a bit, I am being asked to take on a lot more responsibilities and being told it’s a great chance to show my skills. Well I already did this last year. When this happened the first time.

    I just want to put my head down and do the minimum while I’m looking for a new job. But since we’re short staffed, I can’t really do that. I’m so aggravated that I don’t deserve to be promoted yet I am now for the second time in a year, being given the reigns of a job that is 3 steps above my current level. I’m tired of having no one advocate for my team. I may just lose my mind on my interim boss if I schedule another meeting with her and let it all out UGH

    1. Meredith Brooks*

      There is no reason why you can’t look for a new job. They will survive if you leave and if they can’t, then there are bigger problems here that a) are not your issue and b) all the more reason for you to leave.

      1. A username for this site*

        I interpreted it to mean, we’re short staffed so I can’t do the minimum because the minimum right now is so overwhelming.

    2. Friday*

      This actually would look pretty good for you when you’re interviewing… you can say (without negative emotion) that there’s been a lot of turnover in your manager’s role and you’ve been doing XYZ tasks to fill in, and you’d like to move into this role yourself to continue these tasks. And the subtext would be, “but at a stronger company that doesn’t have such a revolving door.” To drive that subtext home, I’d then ask about how long the teammates and management on your would-be team at New Company have been there.

      1. Discouraged and Tired*

        Thanks, I’ve been interviewing and struggle when I come to the ‘why are you looking’ question. I’ve been forming some sort of ‘well I’ve basically been doing my manager’s job for the past year’ but this is great wording!

    3. DaniCalifornia*

      Honestly if you feel like you’re going to blow up at your interim manager (who I assume hasn’t been anything but decent to you) could you schedule a meeting with whoever is the higher up? Your grandboss or however the org chart flows? You could tell them you’d like to get promoted, the interim manager doesn’t agree with your previous managers review (and perhaps they’ll agree if they asked your manager to leave), here’s how you contribute currently, and how should you do that/what does the timeline look like? Worst case the situation stays the same and you keep job searching. If they won’t accept promoting good workers from within then you know it’ll be time to leave!

      I do feel you on this. One of my former managers was opening a new location/dealing with her husband’s cancer. She was rarely in office and taught me 99% of her duties/job. I did them for half of a year. We FINALLY got an interim manager and she was so surprised that all paperwork/reports/etc were up to date. I told her I did them and would like to apply for the job. She gave me a good reference but then our stupid corporate office “reclassified” everyone and said you couldn’t apply for manager jobs until you had been level 1, and level 2. I had been doing level 1 and 2 work for two years I just didn’t have that title. I was pissed. I had to train my new manager. I tried applying for every level 2 job that opened and they wouldn’t accept me. So I left. I learned so much from that experience.

    4. Halmsh*

      You should ask to be compensated for doing additional work and work above your pay grade. Lay out your usual work responsibilities and what you’re being asked to do on top. If they aren’t willing to compensate you more, you could also go the route of “I’m unable to to X, Y, and Z, can you direct me what should drop off my plate?” to whoever your manager stand-in is.

      1. Thlayli*

        Yes! I’m always shocked when people say they’ve taken on their managers role for months in between managers without any additional compensation. Ask for interim compensation for the interim period that you are doing the additional work.

    5. CatCat*

      Would the interim manager be a reference for you? She seems familiar with your work.

      “I am interested in moving into a higher level role. This is the second time I’ve taken on a high level responsibility in the absence of a manager and I’ve shown I am up to handling that effectively. Since you are familiar with my capabilities, would you be willing to serve as a reference for me?”

      This only works if this is not the kind of place that fires you for looking for another job. But you know if you’re in that kind of place.

    6. Observer*

      Take on the responsibilities. For one thing, you are not really being “asked”, so you might as well make it look good.

      Also, start job searching and highlight the work that you actually did. So, even though your job title is Teapot Maker, not that you also acted as Teapot designer while the company was looking to fill the role.

      In other words, while this may not help you get promoted in THIS job, it can help you find your next job. And, it will also leave a good impression with people you might meet up again in the future. While you may not care about the incompetent manager you lost, you probably do want leave a positive memory with interim manager who seems like she is reasonably competent, for instance.

    7. BillieB*

      I was in a somewhat similar situation, and I ended up changing jobs. I had 4 bosses in the last 18 months I was with that job, and one those bosses gave me a poor performance review just before he left the company. Your situation sounds like a symptom of poor leadership from Grandboss and above. If they’re having trouble keeping a manager in place, they’re either hiring badly or driving people away. Neither is good for you. I know this isn’t an easy solution, but pay attention to the writing on the wall and keep your eye out for outside opportunities.

  11. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

    How do you stay professional at work when your clothes just don’t fit?

    I’ve lost now 55 pounds, but got behind on some bills and am now caring for my wife for a few weeks after the last of a series of surgeries on her leg. So, I am at the point of barely being able to pay parking fees to park and go to work, let alone buy different clothes, and I am not sure I have time to go.

    Trouble is, even though my loss is slow, I have been packing muscle onto my shoulders and calves, while dropping like crazy from my waist. I literally can barely keep my pants up, but I can’t spare the 30-40 for new work pants! Not to mention that pants already fit funny because I’m oddly shaped now.

    Sorry for the rant. I want to continue the loss since my health is much better, but oh my god, the clothes problems!

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Could you pick up a few pieces at a nearby thrift store (particularly if you can find one in/near an upscale neighborhood)?

      1. SoCalHR*

        I was going to suggest this as well, I just got a couple of name brand work pants at Goodwill for $7 because I have the same “problem”.

      2. careergal*

        I did this when I lost weight and was broke. I also looked for garage sales and the clearance rack in consignment stores.

        1. Hamburke*

          Yes this! My husband got work pants from a neighbor who was retiring. Neighbor noticed that he was buying up all the khakis at the community yard sale and he brought over another bag the next day.

    2. There is a Life Outside the Library*

      Weight changes are always rough when it comes to the work clothes. I know you said money is tight, but have you checked your local thrift/Goodwill? I’ve actually been able to snag quite a few blazers, skirts and pants for work there for weight fluctuations.

    3. MuseumChick*

      Have you thought about having some of your cloths altered? It can be cheaper than buying new clothes and if you select just a few piece it might be enough to carry you through until you are able to buy new clothes. Better yet, if you have a friend who is good a sewing they might be able to do it for free.

      1. WellRed*

        Yes, alter a few select pieces to carry through. Nothing feels worse than ill-fitting pants.

      2. This Liz Sews-not for free*

        But don’t expect the friend to do it for free, let them make that offer.

      3. Mimosa Jones*

        Alterations will help for a drop of up to two sizes (about 2 inches) but will look wonky for anything larger than that. Although, you could alter them from ‘really big’ to ‘a little big.’ For pants, if you’re making a 2” change, it will look best if you take a little off the sides as well as the back, which probably means having it do me by a professional. Darts can also help reduce volume in specific areas.

        Lots of children’s pants come with an elastic back that is adjusted with buttons at the sides. It allows the waist to be loosened as the child grows, but you could use it in reverse. You can buy this elastic in fabric stores (it has button holes) and make the alterations yourself with hand sewing.

    4. Fishsticks*

      If you can’t do a thrift store, would it be possible to alter your pants yourself? (ex. put some stitches in the waistband to make it smaller?) I did a quick google “sewing waistline smaller on pants” and both Youtube videos and articles popped up. There are tutorials that include no sewing machine use in case you don’t have one!

      1. This Liz Sews-not for free*

        1 inch elastic is your friend. open up a small slit in the waist band at either side, feed in the elastic, take up the slack, and tack in place with some angry stitches (big honking ugly ones).
        You will be good to go for now and when more more inches come off, you can tighten the elastic further, hence the angry stitches.
        Yes, easier said than done but my husband figured it out and did a decent job on his.

      2. Quickbeam*

        When I was dead broke (had Food Free Tuesdays) I taught myself to alter my clothes by hand. No machine, just did the physics of how the seams needed to come in. A seam ripper, needle and thread. If you have an analytical eye, you can do it.

        1. Specialk9*

          The trick is to turn your clothes inside out, pin them, and then you can use some chalk to create a line. Then you sew along the line.

          There are fancier versions that involve removing and then reattaching the waistband, but this will get you close enough.

          1. Mad Baggins*

            I just did this to alter the fit of my pants. Sewing machine was $20 at the recycle shop, used binder clips instead of pins so I could try the pants on without poking myself, followed tutorials on YouTube, was done in under an hour. It’s much easier than I thought!

    5. AspiringAdvocate*

      Thrifting is a weight-loss godsend. It’s frustrating to spend money on clothes you’ll have to keep replacing as you lose weight, but getting cheap staples from a place like Goodwill (which you can also order from online!) is imo the best way to minimize the financial impact.

    6. Natalie*

      Do you have any similar sized friends that might have some clothes you can borrow, or even have? You can wear the same pair of pants every day. I promise, no one will notice unless they are hot pink or something.

      Also (my apologies if I’m misremembering your gender presentation) but IMO skirts and dresses are a lot more forgiving of weight fluctuations, especially around the waist. So if you have any of those, lean on them heavily now.

      Lastly, move the stuff that really, genuinely never fits out of your closet/dresser. That constant “I’ll wear this, oops, never mind, I forgot it doesn’t fit anymore” experience in the morning is aggravating.

      1. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

        Thanks! I hate dresses and skirts but when I see my friend in a few weeks if I don’t have clothese by then, i’ll talk to her. She dresses amazingly and we are close size now.

        But, even my UNDERWEAR no longer fits. My tops are pretty forgiving but the rest of it…nope.

        1. Natalie*

          Maybe try Marshall’s or Target for underwear? I think you find a week’s worth for $20 or less. It doesn’t need to be cute, just do the job for the moment!

            1. Traffic_Spiral*

              I’d advise against ordering when you’re changing sizes – too much risk of not getting the size right.

        2. govt_drone*

          Not sure where you live, but check out Craigslist or FreeCycle. Peopel regularly give clothes and such away for free to anyone who will come pick them up.
          If you’re in NYC/SF/another major city check out the Queer Exchange facebook group – loads of people giving away all sorts of clothes and other things on there.

    7. seahorsesarecute*

      Congrats on losing weight! A couple of ideas came to mind;
      Second hand shops that have business clothes, especially if you are still losing.
      A tailor can take in pants and make your things be wearable longer while you lose at a fraction of the cost of new.
      If you really can’t afford either option right now, I bet there are YouTube videos to show you how to alter clothes, even down to the very beginner stuff of showing how to thread a needle.

    8. Andy*

      I have really good luck doing ISO (In Search Of) posts on Craigslist and Facebook Yard Sale sites for my neighborhood. Lots of times people don’e post the stuff they have lying around, but they’ll respond to an ISO request. I do ISOs for adult and kids clothes.

    9. Becky*

      Besides the thrift/second hand store suggestions–you might also want to try a consignment shop where you can get credit for things that no longer fit and then use that credit for other things that fit better.

      Congrats on your success in your health and fitness journey so far!

    10. Afiendishthingy*

      I feel your pain. I have gained about 25 pounds in the last six months (since I went off my ADHD meds), which is fine, but none of my old pants or bras fit. Luckily I know a great little consignment store where almost every item is under $20 and in great condition. Gonna go check Kohl’s this weekend for cheap bras.

      I don’t know if you wear dresses, but I’ve been able to keep wearing all of my old ones. I hate shopping for pants no matter what size I’m wearing, but they’re often necessary in my work.

    11. Deryn*

      This might be out of your comfort zone, or not possible where you are, but I’m an avid follower of my city’s subreddit and I often see people asking if anyone has any extra [insert item]. You could try posting on your city’s sub (if you have one) and explain your situation and see if anyone has any professional pants in your size that they would be willing to part with for cheap (or free). I am often blown away by the generosity I see on those types of threads. Also, some charities provide professional clothing! Dress for Success is one for women that I know off the top of my head, but in my city I know there are a few more general community programs that offer professional clothing as well. You might call a local organization and see if they provide that service or know of anyone that does.

    12. Anna Canuck*

      Look around online and see if there’s a charity that hooks people up with work appropriate clothes. You can probably do a swap there for free. Salvation Army would probably let you swap, as well, if you’re willing to swallow your pride and admit your situation.

      You’re doing amazing. 55 lb is a LOT.

    13. ket*

      I recently joined a neighborhood Facebook group and people are often selling or giving away clothes, baby stuff, yard stuff, etc. If you have a neighborhood Facebook group you could do an ISO post. The Facebook-y thing to do would be to humblebrag that you lost a lot of weight & you want some inexpensive options as you continue on your journey ;) but you can also skip that ritual!

      1. King Friday XIII*

        Similarly, see if there’s a Buy Nothing group for your area! Asking is encouraged and it’s always free.

    14. TheWonderGinger*

      I am in a similar boat, lost two dress sizes in 5 months and just don’t have the cash for a whole new wardrobe. I like to check out the chain consignment shops i.e. Style Encore (Plato’s Closet’s Big Sister store) and Clothes Mentor. I take my too big stuff in and get a few new pieces. I also hit up thrift stores and get stuff altered (but my bff mom is a seamstress so that’s a cheap option for me). I find that a fashion-y belt can make too big dresses and tops look more polished as well.

      That said, I would be happy to send my too big stuff too you!!! I have 13/14 Long and a lot of L/XL tops and dresses!!!!

      1. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

        Thanks so much, but I am 5’1”! If you have 13 regular, I can wear that, but otherwise it might be dragging on the floor :)

          1. BF50*

            Hemming pants is substantially easier than taking them in, as long as they aren’t either flared or super slim at the ankles. It is helpful to have someone pin them for you, but a very simple stitch can make too long pants fit fairly quickly and that’s an alteration that even a beginner can cand sew by themselves. Unless it’s jeans, you don’t even need a sewing machine.

            1. Anonymouse*

              I put on some black slacks that I had not worn in a while and found that the girth I had lost translated into 3 or 4 inches of cloth beyond my feet. But I needed to wear them that day (can’t remember the occasion but I needed something nicer than jeans) so I found some masking tape and did a quick “hem”. Worked great for that day.

              1. BF50*

                You can also staple or glue. There is also an iron on hemming tape that doesn’t hold super well, but it’s cheap and should last through a couple of washes.

    15. DaniCalifornia*

      Good for you! Is there a friend or relative you could ask who looks like they’re your size if they have anything they professional that they don’t wear anymore? Many people keep clothes for so long.

      I would also try garage sales, thrift stores, or clothing resale stores that offer gently used nicer clothes at discount prices.

    16. Biscuits*

      Re: Goodwills/thrifts – call your local stores and see when they have their half off or $.99 days. And if possible, go early. My Goodwill has half off & $.99 on Sunday’s and the parking gets crazy and the racks congested really quick, but when you find a $5 wool Theory suit.. it’s worth it.

      1. Chaordic One*

        A lot of the used clothing stores in my area have “bag sales.” Anything you can fit into a paper or plastic grocery bag and you pay $5.00.

    17. Fabulous*

      Congrats on the weight loss!!! I second altering clothes, but I know this can be easier said than done. I’ve been sewing for many years and have my own machine, but I know other people aren’t that lucky. Check with your friends though! Pants are the easiest to take in; it’s literally just sewing a line down the side or back. Also, I highly recommend suspenders. You can get them pretty cheaply at Party City, and they usually have black and white options too.

    18. Pollygrammer*

      I know ThredUp is suggested a lot here, but it really is an amazing resource. Put in your sizes, and sort price low>high. If you’re willing to accept “good enough,” then you’ll probably find some stuff starting around $2.99.

      I’m a little weird-shaped and I wear a lot of longer cardigans, which hide a lot of those-pants-really-don’t-fit-in-the-hips.

    19. Astrid*

      Have you checked to see if there is a Dress for Success or its equivalent in your area? There is no Dress for Success in my hometown, but I noticed that the local food bank has a section devoted to office clothes (free of charge).

      1. Astrid*

        Actually, I checked the mission statement for Dress for Success and it’s different from what I remember. You may want to check out Ready for Success (, this seems a bit more personalized.

    20. Cascadia*

      Seconding all the comments for goodwill/thred-up/consignment stores, etc. Also consider selling some of your better clothes that don’t fit anymore, and use that money to buy other clothes. I also wanted to add to join your local neighborhood’s “buy nothing” facebook group. My group is constantly posting clothing options and it’s FREE!

      1. TCPA*

        This is what I was planning to suggest! My local Buy Nothing group has lots of great stuff in it, including clothes! You can also put an ask out there for exactly what you need, requested sizes, etc. I see people do that all the time :) Best of luck!

    21. Ktelzbeth*

      Congratulations on the weight loss! If you’re in the area of the world I think I remember you being (sorry if I’m wrong) and can afford second hand, look up Turn Style Consignment. I’ve done well there for work slacks for female presenting.

    22. Persimmons*

      Several of the consignment stores near me will be MUCH more generous with the amounts they offer for clothes you bring in when you take store credit instead of cash. I’d try taking a bag in (everything nicely washed/ironed/hung or folded) and make it plain that you’re looking to shop instead of wanting to leave with a fistful of cash.

      Also, Freecycle.

    23. Anna*

      Maybe look into local non-profits/churches in the area! Sometimes they offer help to people in need of clothes!

    24. Traveling Teacher*

      There are tons of excellent tutorials on YouTube for easy DIY alterations. One that I used several years ago for a ton of thrifted shirts for a sibling starting a first job was the “pinch and pin” for shirts from the ThreadBanger channel. Very simple to do, and it works especially well if the shoulders fit but part or all of the rest of the shirt is too loose. I’m pretty sure that they had at least one or two videos on altering jeans/trousers, too, but YMMV, of course.

      Also, there are some very innovative videos on YouTube about making skirts from a single, long piece of fabric using no-sew techniques or even just creative tying and belts! I even watched one about transforming an old curtain into this sort of skirt, if you feel like getting your Sound of Music vibe on, :)

  12. Crystal Smith*

    Warning – talking about the death of pets. This is something I’ve seen discussed here before, but I’m bringing it up again because it’s surfaced in my life! My beloved cat has been ill for a long time, and we have a vet appointment next week that I just have a strong feeling is going to end in her being put to sleep. I’m someone who can pretty easily ignore personal stuff at work, but my coworkers and boss are all very sweet and have always asked about how vet appointments go and if things are okay – and I just know if anyone mentions it to me I *will* cry. (And I hate crying at work!) I once had a friend who posted on Facebook after her kitty passed, basically breaking the news and saying, nicely, “please don’t ask me about this in person or I’ll cry on you,” which I thought was effective without being off-putting. Would it be weird to send something like that in my (small) team’s slack? Does anyone have any better ideas? I basically want to head off mentioning it in person without coming across like a robot.

    1. Red Reader*

      Is there one person you could mention it to privately and ask them to spread the word?

      1. Former Retail Manager*

        I was going to say the same thing. Maybe tell your boss privately when your pet passes and ask them to spread the word and specifically instruct people not to bring it up.

    2. Lemon Sherbet*

      I had a similar situation with two different pets over two years. I asked my team to not talk about it because I would cry. It’s been one and two years respectively now since those pets departed and I am now able to talk about them.

      I’m sorry about your cat.

    3. Murphy*

      I think it’s fine to share it within your team like that.

      And I’m sorry your cat’s not doing well. I have an older dog, so I know the feeling :(

    4. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I wouldn’t find it weird to put that on Slack, especially if your team knows about your cat’s struggles. I would just say something like, “Please send Kitty and me some good vibes for our appointment next week. I’m not up to talking about it in person, but you’ve all been great through this and I really appreciate all of your kind words.”

      Best of luck to you and your bud.

    5. enginerd*

      I don’t think it would be weird to share the news with your team that way. That’s a rough situation, I’m sorry. Losing pets is so hard. I hope you guys had many good years together. <3

    6. AnotherAlison*

      Sorry about your cat.

      I think this is a good idea. My husband put my 15 year old dog down while I was traveling for two weeks, and didn’t tell me because he wanted to wait until I was home. Well, it came up in conversation on Thursday night, and I was going home & to the office for a meeting on Friday. Wouldn’t you know that one of the first things to come up in the meeting was Steve asking Dave about his dog? It was hard to talk about pets for a few weeks. (‘Course my mom still can’t talk about here little dog two years after the dog passed.)

    7. rageismycaffeine*

      I wish I’d thought to do that when we had to unexpectedly put one of our cats to sleep last month. My boss had told people when I missed a meeting that I was at the vet but when I texted my boss the news and that I wasn’t going to come in that day, he didn’t spread the word. So I came in the next day and had someone ask me how the cat was, and I was so surprised by the question that I just bluntly said “She’s dead.” Yeah, that was brutal.

      Let them know one way or another – I think a mention on Slack is a good idea, and I also like Red Reader’s suggestion to see if someone can spread the word for you.

    8. frystavirki*

      First of all, I’m so sorry about your cat. Please tell her she is a very good cat from me and give her her preferred form of affection. I think that it’d be fine to post a heads up, either in the team slack or by texting it to a specific coworker you trust to get the word out that you want to focus on work at work currently so you don’t fall apart. I wish I was in a situation to have done this when my dog passed away in 2014, but I was at school and not a job, so there wasn’t really anyone to notify. I just had people asking why I was upset all day. It’s totally valid to not want to get caught up in grief at work. I know this isn’t easy for anyone, but I hope it goes as easily as it can. <3 If you'd like to share pictures in the off-topic thread (or here? I don't know open threadiquette) I would love to see them.

    9. Claire*

      I’m so sorry. I just went through this in January. If you can, I’d recommend taking a day or two off afterwards. I did this when I had to have my own beloved cat put to sleep and it helped. I was still hurting but I wasn’t as raw when I went back to work and was able to accept a couple of condolences without bursting into tears.

    10. Quinoa*

      So sorry to hear about your cat. I just lost my 20 year-old Old Lady Cat a couple of weeks ago. It’s heartbreaking. Know that you have given her a wonderful life and cared for her to the best of your ability. And yes, having one co-worker who can tell everyone else will make things MUCH easier for you.

  13. Bones*

    I have an interview with a really great company today– really respects and values the workers, and makes improving the worker experience a cornerstone of the business. Please keep your fingers crossed for me!

  14. Virginian*

    I’ll be working for my former employer again which is quite exciting. I wonder if the AAM readership who have boomeranged back have any words of advice? Anything I should be aware of?


    1. Andy*

      I boomeranged back and forth to my old firm in Fla and one thing that helped was making sure I connected with people who had been hired since I left, that way it didn’t seem like my return signaled an automatic clique-shift. I also tried very very hard and with a LOT of success to see my former-and new again coworkers in their best lights and give them the benefit of the doubt I would have given brand-new co-workers. This let them rely on their own rosy recollections of me as well and things went VERY smoothly.
      Also don’t say ‘but this is the way it was done’ too many times unless someone is looking for the administrative history of a process to delve into. Good luck!

    2. Becky*

      At my job we’ve had a few boomerangs, (there are three in my department right now) mostly they’ve been welcomed back quite happily though there has been some benign teasing.

    3. NicoleK*

      Some things may have change since you were gone. And people may assume that you know about said changes.

    4. FaintlyMacabre*

      I’ve gone back to a former workplace twice, and the experiences were quite different. First one, I wasn’t gone too long and the person hired to replace me was terrible. Everyone was really glad to have me back and I slipped back in seamlessly. Second time, I had been gone for years and was stepping into a newly created role. It was sometimes hard, because people assumed I knew about things that had changed while I was gone. Also, everyone wanted to know where I had been and what I’d done which was personally difficult as it involved a toxic ex. And then others didn’t ask, just assumed I’d had a baby… anyhoo, it may be easy or not, but in both cases it was fine in the long run. First months may be rocky, but that’s the danger in any job, I suppose!

  15. Fishsticks*

    I’m looking for advice about getting into event planning. I’ve been interested in it for a while, but haven’t had much luck finding part time jobs, partly since I don’t have that much experience with event planning. (I currently work full-time and am not in a position to look for a new job right now). I’d like to find a part-time job to expand my experience and see if it’s a field I’d enjoy. Any one have any field specific advice? Thanks!

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Instead of finding a part time job, could you volunteer with a non-profit in an event planning capacity?

      1. Fishsticks*

        I’ve looked into that and I haven’t found too many options. To be fair, I could be looking in the wrong areas as I’m not the best at finding volunteer opportunities. But I’ll definitely try and look more.

        1. Detective Amy Santiago*

          You could also ask around among your friends/family and see if they know anyone who is holding an event that they could use some assistance with. I’d try to go out at least one degree from your direct circle because that wouldn’t be as useful in terms of potential work experience. Like, if someone said to me, “hey I have this friend who wants to get into event planning. would you be interested in a free wedding planner to help you?” I would probably jump on that (well, I’d at least have a conversation and make sure you liked spreadsheets as much as I do first to make sure we’d work well together).

        2. Joshua*

          Check your local newspapers “on the town” or “society/culture” section – they usually have a rundown of charity events. Also, mid-size to larger cities often have an annual or seasonal charity event calendar publication usually called a “datebook” or “event guide.” Different communities have different publishers – I’d try and find some of these resources and start to keep a pulse on what annual events happen around your city and who the key players are. Try to attend a few as well.

          Once you identify a non-profit with some interesting events and a mission you connect with, you know where to start! Many non-profits will often have entry-level volunteer opportunities (i.e. a guild or an associate board) and you could meet with a development staff person to discuss ways you can become involved. You may not be able to jump into their larger, signature event (those are often organized by board members or highly engaged individuals) – but, you can start building a relationship. Helping to plan a few smaller events gives you something to speak to in an interview.

          I work in development and the first few years of my career was in planning fundraising events for an arts organization in Chicago. There are some definite skills that are necessary – project management, organization, financial management, etc. Volunteering can help you put skills to the test in a real-world environment which you can point to when speaking with a potential employer. However, a big part of process is having an understanding of your community’s event/philanthropic landscape. Even if someone is lacking in experience, if they have drive and are familiar with the city and major events that is a big starting point. The key is to start attending events, get a feel for the venues in your city, understand key suppliers/caterers, etc – build some relationships in the space!

        3. Fishsticks*

          I live in a massive city so I can definitely start looking. It’s almost overwhelming how many non-profits there are. Unfortunately, I don’t know too many people so I can’t use them as guinea pigs XD

          My boss has a few board member positions on charities so I may see if I can reach out to my contacts there and ask them. Thank you for the ideas!

    2. Sunflower*

      I see a lot of volunteer jobs for event planning actually posted on Indeed. Do you know what kind of events you’d like to do? Work at a non-profit, cateirng/sales/hotel, corporate?

    3. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      I agree with the advice to look into volunteering rather than part-time work. There are a lot of volunteer groups/orgs/board that put on a lot of events, but don’t have a specific “event planning” role. I’d suggest looking at local event calendars for groups that seem to hold a lot of events, then look into those groups specifically. It couldn’t hurt to reach out and introduce yourself, even if they don’t have a posted volunteer event planning position. Also, a lot of times event planning can get rolled into development/fundraising/outreach, so those are good areas to look into as well. Finally, this is the kind of thing informational interviews are made for! When you are researching and reaching out to those orgs you can also be on the lookout for a professional event planner who might be able to answer your questions about the field and give you pointers on how to get started. Good luck!

    4. AnonToodles*

      Check out local colleges and universities. Some have departments especially for event planning (Office of Major Events is one common name; Event Planning is another), the music, theater, and dance departments, departments within the Student Union/Activities Building, or even in some institutes that do executive training or community outreach.

      Also look at hotels and conference centers, but be aware of “event planning” jobs that are really marketing jobs, especially if they don’t pay you until the event has run and they know how much money it brought in. My friend took one of these jobs and quit once she realized she had to work the events her predecessor brought in but wouldn’t get paid for her events for probably another year. it was a long time ago so I don’t remember the details, but it wasn’t financially sustainable for her and her family to not see any real income for a year.

    5. Anonymous404*

      Another suggestion is to look into volunteering with MPI (Meeting Professionals International or another similar association). Since this is such a niche field, it really can be more about who you know and going to MPI events plus volunteering there can help you build those relationships. Also, you can look to volunteer with your local politicians to help them plan their fundraising events (that’s how I got started in the event planning field). Let me know if you need any other tips, I am also starting out but have been a professional event coordinator for about a year now.

      1. Fishsticks*

        I’d love to hear more about the politician side. I’m working at getting involved with campaigns but I’m generally only free weekends and not the biggest fan of knocking on doors lol

        1. Anonymous404*

          Well for me it started with a fundraising firm as an unpaid intern. It was a lot of calls, but I was able to move up and help plan and run events. So look into fundraising firms in your area (sometimes called political consulting firms) and also PACs. I was also able to build a lot of experience with VIPs and was able to build connections and that’s where I learned event planning was for me, and that fundraising definitely was not.

    6. Windward*

      Check hsmai’s website. They used to host free annual conventions on event mgmt stuff, & they have info on aspects of event mgmt. They seem to be more focused on hotels nowadays, but a lot of the info will translate.

      And I recommend finding a local organization doing work or events you’d like to support. Approach them about helping, & see how that goes. You can do more with that org or try your hand with another to check out different types of events. Eg picnics, races, formats/balls, meeting focused or fundraising or…

      Mpi is another resources, which offers certifications, which has already been mentioned.

  16. AnitaJ*

    Job searching during IVF – am I a jerk?

    I’m going through IVF, and if all goes well (of course who knows), I’d be pregnant at the end of August. I have a promising lead on a good job that would start early September. Is it a jerk move to start a job just as you get pregnant? I dread the thought of walking in to my boss after 3 months and saying ‘hey guess what, I’m taking maternity leave in 6 months!’. On the other hand, the office seems cool, and my friend has worked there before, so she can vouch for me in terms of reliability and work ethic.

    Plus, if this round doesn’t take, we’d go directly into another one, which would require some doctor’s appointments during work hours, and taking time off right after starting a job is not…great. Advice welcome!

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      I don’t think this is a jerk move at all. So many pregnancies are unplanned that this kind of thing just happens.

      Good luck!

    2. NLMC*

      I don’t think it’s a jerk move but you won’t be eligible for FMLA so hopefully they have a good maternity leave policy.

    3. Bekx*

      It depends on the culture, I’d say. I worked for an extremely male dominated field (construction) and my former coworker was a few months pregnant when hired (I think 2 or 3). When her boss found out she was pregnant, she definitely made snide comments about it. People even treated my coworker like she was getting a “free vacation” (!!!). She was only eligible for STD and not FMLA, too.

      That being said, my current company (a bank) with generous vacation, family leave, caregiver leave and bonding time off would probably not care one bit.

      See if you can ask your friend what the culture is like and give as much detail as you feel comfortable giving. Good luck!!

      1. Anona*

        Snide comments are the worst. But pregnancy discrimination is illegal in the US, so even if they make these, there’s not much they can do.

        1. Natalie*

          I mean, they can still discriminate even though its illegal. People break laws all the time. And in the case of civil rights laws there’s no cops that will come and deal with it, the employee has to pursue the case themselves.

          1. Bekx*

            Yes, exactly. And it was still hard for my friend/coworker to hear the mean comments. Especially when you’re young and you don’t have experience, you don’t know what to do or who to tell or even that it’s unacceptable!

      2. Asleep or maybe dead*

        AnitaJ, even if this scenario does happen to you, which I wish it doesn’t, please don’t think you’re being a jerk. They are.
        You shouldn’t feel guilty (and shouldn’t be shamed) to actually benefit from your benefits. That’s bananas. Even more bananas if you’re entitled to it by law (not sure how us goes about this).
        As long as you’re diligent around the handover of your job, etc, it’s really unreasonable to expect you not to take maternity leave.

      3. Observer*

        Well, the manager and others WERE being jerks, that’s true. But your COWORKER was absolutely NOT a jerk. (At least not on this account.)

        Of course, it is relevant for AnitaJ as a *practical* matter. Is there likely be stupid fall out, and do you want to deal with it.

        1. Bekx*

          Sorry, I didn’t mean to insinuate my coworker/friend was being a jerk, she certainly wasn’t! I was just pointing out that some places suck and would absolutely be crappy about it. So just check about culture if you’re worried about it.

    4. Anona*

      No, take the job. Fertility stuff is so unpredictable. I didn’t do IVF, but we did have fertility struggles. I decided to lean in/keep going with professional opportunities, and not take into account possible pregnancy. It took much longer that we hoped for me to get pregnant. I did eventually get pregnant, and ended up doing a 2 week international work trip that I’d applied for before pregnancy. If I had kept delaying professional stuff in the hopes of pregnancy, I’d have missed out on a lot. This area of life is so beyond control, and I found it helpful to try to minimize its impact on the other areas of my life, like work. No regrets!

    5. EA in CA*

      I would proceed with the job prospect. You are talking about a best case scenario when it comes to your IVF treatments and getting pregnant. Sometimes it happens on the first round, sometimes it takes a few. It can be very likely that you do not become pregnant as planned in August and it could take longer. So keeping that in mind, if this opportunity comes available, take it and just figure it out as you go along.

      All the best in your journey.

    6. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Remember the individual success rate for IVF is only like 30% per cycle. So you may get lucky or you may not. I started at age 34 with “only” male factor infertility. 6 rounds later we are doing donor egg internally…

    7. anycat*

      so this was me last year. i left a very, very toxic job in march and started with my current company. we were all set to ramp up our first round of ivf when another health issue came up so we had to wait until january. our first transfer did not work, but our second was a success and i’m not just about 17 weeks along.

      i attribute some of our success to the fact that my job was so supportive and fantastic about it. i was very open and honest with my boss and a few others, and was basically told to take care of myself and do what’s best for me. i’m so deeply appreciative of this, and one of the reasons why i do want to come back to work after maternity leave.

      let me know if you have any questions – wishing you the best; i’ve been there.

    8. Nita*

      Well, you don’t know how the IVF or the job search will go, so it doesn’t make sense to put one of them on hold since they’re both a little unpredictable. If you do land the job, it might make sense to wait at least 3 months with the next round of IVF – first, because of the daytime appointments and second, if you need to be eligible for FMLA.

    9. Observer*

      Firstly, you have no idea how long the job search will take, so it’s kind of hard to plan around that anyway. And, best case, assuming this round of ivf works, you’re looking at waiting a year to start job searching. That’s a long time!

      Life doesn’t work that way. People move jobs all the time, and they don’t plan around this stuff. To you it probably feels like you can and should because you know exactly what month you are going to make the effort, but the reality is that 1. you don’t really know for sure whether it will work and 2. going through IVF doesn’t mean that you have a greater obligation to plan the rest of your life around the possibility, just as no one else does.

    10. Thlayli*

      No it is absolutely not a jerk move. For a start there is a pretty significant chance that you will not be lucky enough to get pregnant and carry to term on the first try. You can’t live your life on the basis of what could or could not happen. Pregnancy in general and IVF in particular are so uncertain. Plan for the worst (try to get the job) and hope for the best (maternity leave).

    11. blackcat*

      The only thing to be aware of is FMLA eligibility and that some companies put a “you must be here for a year” rule on things like maternity leave.

      It is not a jerk move at all. Live your life. People get pregnant (through all sorts of means) all the time. They’ll cope.

    12. K*

      I work in a school, so it’s a female dominated workplace. I am not a teacher, and there are very few of us in my job title, so there are no substitutes- when one of us is absent, the others all have to use lunch periods and stuff to cover that worker’s schedule. We had a new employee start with us in September a couple of years ago, and she told us two weeks after she started she was almost five months pregnant. She also admitted she went for this job because of the health insurance for the pregnancy. It did not make the rest of us feel very warm and fuzzy towards her, especially when she spent the rest of the pregnancy complaining that FMLA didn’t apply to her and how unfair that was.

      She’s still working with us, but she takes a LOT of time off for her three kids. (The pregnancy in question was her third.)

    13. Specialk9*

      My coworker was 7 months pregnant when she did an internal transfer. Her boss, coworkers, and grandboss (all older guys) only express enthusiasm about having her on the team. None of those ‘jokes’ that aren’t jokes. But also, realistically, American maternity leave is so crap, she’ll be back in a few months. Nothing is that urgent that you can’t wait 3 months.

  17. NOresident*

    Any ideas on jobs for people who like to assemble things? I don’t mean like, literally doing assembly line work, but things like putting various pieces together to make a finished product? I don’t want to be the person who comes up with the overarching idea and I don’t want to be the person who makes the individual parts, but I love being the person who puts those individual parts together to create a final product. The work I do now involves installing elements on websites, inserting new copy and images into emails, etc. So I’m not coming up with what the email should be, nor am I creating the code or the copy/design, but I’m combining all the elements together. This feels like a fairly niche role because when I look at job listings, they want someone who can do ALL of those things and I don’t want to do all those things, nor do I think I could do all those things.

    1. MuseumChick*

      Museum Fabricator. The jobs are few and far between but it pretty ideal for what your describe.

      1. Admin of Sys*

        Seconding project management. It’s not always that sort of coordination of separate pieces into a working whole, and there’s often a lot of people -wrangling involved, but quite a lot of project management can be ‘boss said they wanted and I need to figure out how to get and to work to accomplish it.’

      2. Courageous cat*

        Project management seems to be freakishly hard to get into, though. I must have applied to a million junior PM jobs (as a mid-level manager who has certainly “managed projects”) and I have never, ever heard anything back. I’m not sure what it is. Or maybe it’s me!

    2. HMM*

      I do think there’s an element of being realistic here – you just might be limited in the amount of jobs that allow you to do solely one part of things. It may be that doing that one part isn’t enough to make a whole, full-time job. Or possibly that it’s really hard to do that one part well without also having some experience with other pieces of the work. In addition, those kinds of jobs may be limited in pay or career progression in that area of work would be slow/minimal. You may get raises for tenure or merit, but you likely wouldn’t get any significant promotions or bumps in pay without taking on more senior work (i.e. managing a team that does X instead of doing X yourself) or a broader scope of work.

      At the end of the day what will give you the most flexibility and potential is to have skills/experience in All the Things, even if you don’t like portions of it. Then when you have built up a track record of success, you’re more able to say, “I actually want to do more of X work, not Y – how can I develop my career to move in that direction?” I think very rarely do people find jobs where they actually like doing all of it.

      But I do echo the recommendation for project management or consulting work – without knowing more of the things you like/don’t like doing, it’s hard to say for sure, though.

      1. HMM*

        There’s also being a surgeon! :) But even then, it’s likely there’s a LOT of stuff you’d have to do that you didn’t like before getting to the point that you’re doing only surgeries.

    3. Opting for the Sidelines*

      Are you interested in hands-on physical work? I suggest: Finish cabinetry (like hi-end custom kitchens, built-in bookshelves, custom office cabinets). The architects design in, the cabinetry shop fabricates it, you install in and make sure it looks great.

    4. Courageous cat*

      Ooh, dental lab tech! I have always wanted to do this but I don’t know if I’d be good at it. It’s apparently both scientific *and* creative because there’s obviously a lot of detail that goes into making prosthetic teeth.

    5. MissDisplaced*

      Sounds like classic graphic designer. But for something more current, I’d look into 3D printing and additive manufacturing. The prototypes take a lot of hand finishing. Also, a video editor pulls together many elements into the final program.

  18. Frazzled Fran*

    Howdy! This spring I decided to go back to school to get my MBA so I work full-time and go to school full-time, which I know tons of people do. My husband has been great taking over a lot of our cooking/pet responsibilities and things like Wag, Blue Apron and Handy have been great. However, I’ve gained weight (15 lbs!) and just feel guilty when I’m not working on homework. Any life hacks from people who’ve mastered time management? I’m a person who thrives on a busy schedule but I’m feeling frazzled.

    1. Red Reader*

      Figure out if there’s anything you can take off y’all’s plate with money. Paying someone to come clean my kitchen and bathrooms twice a month saved my sanity during grad school.

      Set yourself a schedule as best you can – this semester, Tuesdays are always for homework, Thursdays are class night, Saturday morning is always for brunch with the spouse, and Sunday afternoon is always for going to the gym, or whatever. And make sure you do put in at least a couple hours for yourself NOT to do classwork. :)

      I also gave up a couple hours of sleep for those four years, went with 6 hours a night instead of 8. I don’t know that I’d advise that for most people, but it worked for me. (It did help that my last hour awake most nights was laying in bed reading for pleasure, nothing super strenuous. And if I fell asleep and dropped my kindle on my head … well, it’s pretty light.)

      1. Frazzled Fran*

        I like the routine thing you suggested for each day. I do have someone clean my house every six weeks and a dog walker – saviors!

        1. FaintlyMacabre*

          I get that the dog walker is helpful in freeing up your time, but could that be a way you get some exercise/ quiet time?

      2. Winnie*

        This is what I do as well (working full time and studying part time). During the week I work, 1 day of the week I go to classes, Tuesday and Thursday night are for softball practice. Saturday and Sunday morning are homework, Sunday afternoon I watch my club play baseball as a treat :-)
        I’ve found that clearly separating work and school helps me. I don’t have the mental energy to study after working all day, so I’ve decided studying is for weekends. That means I don’t feel guilty when I do nothing on a week night.

    2. Fishsticks*

      Could you devote time to the gym where you either review lecture slides or do some of your less intensive reading while on a machine? I know people who would review lecture slides while at the gym to keep studying and be able to workout. Also, your school probably has a gym near campus, would it make sense for you to go after class for a shorter time (like a quick 30 minute workout) after every class? Or if you don’t want to do the gym, could you get up 15-20 minutes earlier and do a short exercise plan right after you wake up?

      1. Frazzled Fran*

        I’m pretty lucky – school is four blocks from work and work is two blocks from my gym. I have no excuses! I should try the a.m. thing…

        1. Rey*

          Also, think about how your food habits have changed. For example, does your husband tend to cook larger portions than you would cook in the past? Are you using junk food to stay awake during late night study hours? Are you using food as a reward when you finish a project or hear about a good grade?

    3. Lumen*

      Schedule white space.

      On your calendar or planner or whatnot, block out time (30 min at least once a week is good; a solid block of a few hours is better but that may not be possible right now and even when it is possible you may need to work your way up to it). This is not ‘flex’ time. This is not time that can be scheduled over. This is as serious a commitment as going to class or showing up to work on time. You have to protect it, because most people won’t take it seriously, and you need to be the one who does.

      This is not homework time. This is not for chores or chooking. This is not for taking care of other people. This isn’t really for Netflix or tv unless that is literally the only thing your brain can handle for the moment. This is time to stare out a window. Make a cup of tea or whatever you like and do absolutely nothing but focus on the team. This is time to free-write if that’s your jam. This is time to meditate, if you’d like, and I highly recommend that. Go for a walk – not with the mentality of Get That Exercise, but just to take a stroll and look around.

      I know this sounds potentially crazy, but I don’t think the problem is your schedule or your division of labor or what you’re eating or that you’re not managing your time well enough. The key phrase I noticed in your post was that you feel guilty. It doesn’t sound like you have anything to feel guilty about. You’re busting your ass, then turning around and busting your ass more for not busting your ass better, or something.

      I’m extremely good at time management even when I’m busy. But there are a thousand tips out there on how to not forget things, how to stay productive, etc. It just sounds like what you really need is half an hour here and there to just sit with Fran and daydream. It’s a very effective de-frazzling tool.

      Again: I highly recommend short meditations during your ‘white space’ time, or journaling. But those are just the things that help me; what defrazzles you may be something else. But you need to schedule it, and defend that time, and commit to it.

      1. Business Manager*

        Seconding this recommendation. I just graduated from grad school (MPA) while simultaneously working f/t. Self-care time was key. Try not to feel guilty about weight gain. Do you think it’s a sign of turning to food as a balm to your stress?

        Also, seconding the scheduling. I had classes monday/wednesday and I would do ~an hour of homework on Tuesdays/Thursdays, no school work on Friday and I would focus on the more brain-heavy stuff on Saturday/Sunday mornings (I am a morning person. Do you know if you’re a morning/afternoon/evening/night person? Make sure to block off time where you’re most effective to do schoolwork).

        1. Lumen*

          +1, especially to not feeling guilty about weight gain! I won’t write a dissertation here, but there is tons of information out there about how stress affects the brain’s energy regulation system, and intensifying exercise or restricting food intake during times of stress typically just exacerbates that reaction.

          So to second Business Manager and a few others: do not focus on the weight gain. It’s morally neutral and isn’t the root cause of any of the things that are bothering you right now.

    4. HMM*

      Keep in mind that giving yourself breaks/time for the gym/cuddles with the dog can recharge you and allow you to do your homework better or more efficiently. There’s no point in grinding on the books if you can’t think clearly or won’t remember the material. I think Red Reader is spot on – schedule and bulk process tasks to maximize time.

    5. DaniCalifornia*

      If you have lectures to listen to, is it possible to listen to these while walking for 30 minutes. Or read on the treadmill at the gym/home. You could join a dance class or cardio fit or some activity that is regular that you like doing so it doesn’t feel like exercise. I would much rather play soccer than be on a treadmill.

      My husband and I work FT and are in school for Masters so I feel you. I just have to do it, even if I’m tired or have to get up earlier. I also got an AppleWatch and was surprised at how interactive it is for the health part. It reminds me to get up and walk around every hour. I added friends who exercise and you can get notifications. My 2 coworkers and I are competitive and on long streaks and it’s encouraging to see they completed their rings even if it is 10pm and I am just starting exercising. FitBit also helps too!

    6. Lindsay Gee*

      I had the same problem after my first semester of grad school. One recommendation would be meal prepping, which is really handy for making sure you have healthy meals for the whole day so you don’t eat out/snack. Another thing was making working out my ‘break’ instead of tv or going to the pub with the rest of my cohort. And if you can’t afford the gym there are lots of home workout programs that take 30 minutes total that are mostly body weight exercises. So a 30-minute break in between homework seems daunting, but i swear it actually improves your productivity!

    7. epi*

      Get as much separation as you can from work and school during your down time. I tend to think of both work and school as one big job and I am just working on two projects that aren’t that closely related.

      Physically separate that stuff from your home life if you can. If it works for you, do the school work at your office at the end of your work day and leave it there when you go home. If you have to take the completed work away with you, leave it in your car or a separate weekday bag. Or leave the work in a home office or spare room, rather than working at the kitchen table or doing class reading on the couch.

      For me it depends what is going on that semester, but it can be really helpful to schedule your schoolwork times in your calendar. Rather than just putting in due dates, pull up your calendar and pick the specific 1-hour block of time when you will do this specific assignment. It didn’t take me that long to get really good at estimating how long an assignment would take, and it kept me on task because if I went over, I knew I was wasting my own free time.

      Schedule some times that you will exercise or sit down with a fun book or cook a new recipe or whatever feels good to you, too. This stuff isn’t (just) a treat, it is a necessary part of being human. You will be better at your jobs if you take the time. That’s especially true for things like exercise, cooking, or getting a good night’s sleep, since you are kind of multitasking by both taking a break and meeting a physical need.

    8. LaurenB*

      Staying healthy is important but I would also give yourself permission to let go of the stress over those 15 lbs. Buy a pair of pants that fit you well at your current weight and focus gym time on decompressing/stress relief rather than weight loss. Try to include vegetables in your diet because you won’t feel good subsisting on simple carbs eaten with one hand at the computer, but if a piece of cake is what gets you through it all, I don’t think that’s the worst thing. I gained 25 lbs almost in my first semester of a degree that I found challenging, and a few years later the weight has disappeared but I still have the degree.

    9. nonymous*

      It’s likely that the blue apron meals as packaged are too much calories for you. I found their meals on the large side for my sedentary life and frequently the ingredients included were more than stated on the recipe cards. If you really like the packaging, consider the costco meal kits (also by blue apron) which are family style recipes and easier to separate into additional portions. (usually my half of the kit will be lunch and dinner for me and we buy other stuff for hubby’s lunch). skinnytaste is also a good source for lighter recipes which are quick to prepare.

      Definitely ++ to mapping out the semester overall. It’s a good way to identify if there are categories of stuff that you are missing, need to outsource. Having a big schedule also let’s me say “good enough” when that paper is screaming for it’s nth revision.

    10. Specialk9*

      I had to back way down on social activities when I was balancing school and work. A lot of life was put on pause for 2 years.

    11. Chaordic One*

      If it is possible (and it might not be) could you walk the dog, or do some other kind of exercise with either your husband or a friend?

      It’s one of the few ways I’ve ever been able to multi-task, just to have someone to visit with while biking or walking or working out.

  19. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

    Who is typically the manager of an executive assistant? The person the EA supports, or a separate person?

    By “manager,” I mean the person who would handle performance problems, do the annual review, etc. Of course the person the EA supports will direct most of the EA’s work… but is that person also usually the direct manager of the assistant?

    1. Sunflower*

      A separate person unless the company is teeny tiny. The thought is if the person is important/busy enough to have an assistant, they are also too important to deal with managing them(it’s literally just not worth their time). The folks they support do typically have tons of input on their reviews however.

      1. Asleep or maybe dead*

        That’s the case at my rather big company.
        I must say it is not doing any good for our EA though. Their boss is generally clueless about what the EA’s work entails, expect them to take on admin work that is not their function and has generally zero input from the executive EA’s actually supporting.

      2. Morning Glory*

        I think it varies. I work at a medium-size org (600ish people) and EAs report directly to the VIP they support. Here, other admins often report to the EA, and there is only one EA per department.

    2. Anele*

      I’m an EA, and the President is my manager. Maybe this can change from organization to organization, but I have a hard time imagining who would be the direct manager of the EA if not the person the EA is supporting.

    3. The Cleaner*

      I think this is one of those things that is a huge range, but I am the manager of my executive boss’s EA so that is definitely one model. My executive boss gives the EA some work directly, I give the EA direction on many routine office tasks, and there is also project-based work that my executive boss gives to me and then I break it down into tasks and assign some of it the EA and some to other direct reports. I manage the EA’s performance, annual reviews, payroll issues, etc. (My title is Director of Administration if that helps.)

    4. Director of Operations*

      In my experience (in academia), yes, it is the person who the EA supports who is their direct manager.
      In my department, I act as the EA to the Dean and she is my direct supervisor, our administrative assistants support the all of the department faculty and I am their direct manager.

    5. EA in CA*

      In my experience it has always been the person that I directly support. Or in once case where I supported the CEO and 2 other executives, it was the executive who managed the administrative and operational side of the business. At my current company, the VP is support is also my manager and would give me feedback, do my reviews etc. They all do that here because they best know the work of their respective EAs. For my reviews, they will also talk to the directors for feedback on performance since I work closely with those parties as well.

    6. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      Thank you, all!

      I asked because I’m having some challenges with an EA that I work with. Because the VP she supports is the executive sponsor of the program that I manage, she is also tasked with providing administrative support to my program.

      The EA is having significant performance problems in her work on my program (which I’ve written about here before; it’s to the extent that I’m considering going without any administrative support rather than continue to work with her) and I need to talk with her boss about it.

      She reports directly to the VP she supports, and it feels strange — like, it can’t be the best use of his time to be in the weeds on performance management for an admin. But I’m meeting with him next week and we’ll figure it out.

      1. EA in CA*

        As the VP’s EA, she is suppose to be more than just an admin. As an EA myself, I would be considered more of an extension of my VP. When my VP is out of the office, the other staff would come to me for guidance and direction on projects and priorities. I’m at the point now where I even attend some meetings on her behalf. I help manage her work load by managing her calendar, action items in her inbox, or start on projects and reports so that she just needs to finalize and tweak the content. I do all the administrative leg work required of her so that she can focus on building the division and working on the strategic side of the business. That is what a good EA should be doing. Because of the VP/EA relationship, the VP should manage the EA. It’s not very effective to have someone else give feedback or do performance reviews, the conversation should be direct from the person you support.
        Not sure what support she gives to your VP, but is sounds like she was assigned to a project she has no interest in and therefore her lack of interest is translating to performance problems. Definitely speak to your VP about it because it is a task she has been assigned and should be doing just as well as all her other work.

        1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

          I think that is exactly the situation — she’s not interested in the program.

          But! It’s essentially the same type of work she does in supporting the VP more generally. She schedules meetings, communicates with the EAs of other participants, prepares the agendas and other materials, arranges for meals — just as she does for the VP in his other work.

      2. Jillociraptor*

        Sounds frustrating! I’ve seen both situations happen: where the executive directly manages the EA, and where another person like a Chief of Staff manages the EA. (In fact, I’ve been the COS in that situation.) Are you considering recommending a management switch, or more looking for advice for how to approach bringing the issue to the VP? It seems like either way, the issue you are having is an immediate one, and one that the VP has a vested interest in solving as the sponsor of your program, so hopefully they will be able to be a partner in resolving the issue. Reading between the lines (forgive me if I’m making a jump), even if the VP is very busy, as a manager this is their job, so you shouldn’t feel bad or guilty about taking their time on this issue. Admin support is vital to the success of your project, and effective performance management isn’t a nice-to-have. A possible outcome is that the VP says, “Yeah, EA doesn’t like this and I’m not going to make her do a good job,” but it sounds like you’ve already gotten comfortable with the possibility that you just won’t have admin support at all. Hope you’re able to get to a more effective solution!

        1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

          Thank you for your response!

          I’m not planning to recommend a management switch — I was just curious about whether this is a normal situation.

          As for feeling bad or guilty… I don’t, really. I guess I just don’t think that much is going to happen to improve the situation, because it’s not worth his time to invest a lot of effort in improving her performance on my program.

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

      At my employer there might be an Operations Manager or Director of Operations that oversees general admin staff and receptionists, but for an EA, they tend to report directly to the person they support.

    8. LilySparrow*

      In my experience, the EA’s reported to the executive for matters involving their day-to-day work, but were managed by either the office manager or a designated HR person for personnel issues like performance reviews, coordinating sick-day coverage, performance issues, etc.

      As an example, if you wanted to ask for a raise or plan vacation time, you’d ask your executive first but get the final decision from the office manager or admin supervisor. If your executive had issues with your work, they’d give you direction in the moment as to what they wanted changed. But if a sit-down, big-picture conversation was needed, that would come from the admin supervisor.

    9. Kat in VA*

      IME it’s always been the main executive I support, but not necessarily the highest-ranked one, if that makes sense.

      So I might support the CTO, two Senior VPs, and the VP of Sales – the last one took the most of my time, was the one involved in interviewing/hiring me, and was definitely “my boss”.

      It doesn’t always work this way but this is generally the norm for executive assistants. More general administrative assistants might have a different manager, though, especially if they support a team of, say, directors or VPs.

  20. AdAgencyChick*

    How would you handle it if an employee is rude to a service person while at work?

    I know a lot of us would torpedo a job applicant who treats the receptionist like crap or is rude to the wait staff at an interview that takes place over lunch. But would you take action against an employee who’s already hired and behaves badly, if you are senior to them?

    I’m told a junior member of my extended team (ie, people I work with, but not my department) was incredibly rude to a restaurant worker on the phone, as in screaming at them.

    If this person reported to me I’d be having a talk with her about how it ruins our day at the ad agency when our clients are even half as rude to us as she was to the restaurant worker, who probably wasn’t even the person responsible for the (super minor) issue she was having.

    I don’t feel like there’s much I can do about it (other than change my view of her as a coworker) since she doesn’t report to me and I didn’t observe the action in person. But I’m curious as to how others would handle this (both with a coworker and with a direct report).

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      I don’t think it would be amiss to mention it to this person’s direct supervisor as a “keep an eye out for this type of behavior” thing.

    2. MuseumChick*

      Being rude to restaurant staff is a big red button for me. To the point where I would consider talking to her manager about it. That depends, of course, on your relationship with that manager.

    3. Snark*

      Sit-down private meeting. “This is not directly related to your work performance, but I wanted to discuss something concerning. A few days ago, I learned that you had been incredibly rude, to the point of screaming, to a restaurant worker on the phone. It’s incredibly important to me and everyone here that our interactions with clients, vendors, and even restaurants delivering lunch are professional, kind, and represent the agency well, even when conflict presents itself. The tone you took was unacceptable regardless of who you were talking to, and I expect that a similar incident will never happen again.”

      And, if this person is part of your extended team, I think you’re well-placed to have this discussion. You don’t need to have directly observed it or be her immediate supervisor to have a discussion about this.

      1. MuseumChick*

        This is really good. I would change one thing, “A few days ago I learned there was an incident where you screamed at a restaurant worker on the phone, can you help me understand what happened?” Then she will give her answer and barring something super egregious you can go into the “It’s incredibly important to me and everyone here that our interactions blah blah blah.”

    4. Temperance*

      With a coworker or direct report, I would say something in the moment if I witnessed it. With a direct report, I would follow up if I heard about it from someone else.

      Rudeness towards restaurant workers and other staff has a bad impact on the business.

    5. McWhadden*

      If it was a direct report then I would definitely say something along the lines of “you represent this office when you are dealing with anyone during work hours and this behavior is unacceptable no matter who it is directed at.” (Obviously being associated with the office isn’t the thing, or only thing, that makes it unacceptable but it’s more in line with what you have the ability to talk to him about.)

      Since he’s not a direct report it’s more tricky. I don’t think it’s out of line to mention it to his supervisor though. And if you had witnessed it in the moment it would be totally fine to say something.

    6. Thlayli*

      Was she representing your company on the phone to the restaurant, like it was related to a company meal? Or was she only representing herself as a private person, like it was related to a personal meal she had booked for her family?

      If she was representing your company then you should speak to her and/or her manager as her behaviour reflects badly on your company.

      If she was only representing yourself then chances are the restaurant don’t even know who she works for. You can certainly suggest to her or to her manager that she not have loud screaming phone conversations in the office, but I don’t think you can tell her how to behave in her personal life. You can of course take it into account in your personal opinion of her, but its not your place as a colleague to criticise behaviour that has nothing to do with work.

    7. Former Retail Manager*

      if you didn’t witness the behavior yourself, as it sound like you did not, I would be cautious about speaking to their supervisor as you’d essentially be relaying “hearsay.” If you witnessed it personally that would be a different story. If it really concerns you, I might go back to your source and ask for more details. Also, is this a pattern (happened before, also at work, snippy generally, etc?) or was it a random occurrence. If there is no pattern that you’ve personally observed, I’d again be hesitant because you don’t have all of the facts.

      1. AdAgencyChick*

        Yeah, it’s part of a pattern that I have already addressed with her manager. She’s an account executive, and account execs are supposed to treat creatives as partners/collaborators, not as subordinates, but she has a tendency to bark at creatives, even ones who are senior to her.

        It sounds like multiple people witnessed the rudeness to the service person so I think her manager may already have been told, but I’d like her manager to address that this is part of her larger pattern that she really needs to break.

    8. JS#2*

      Oh, this is a tough situation! When I worked at an agency, we would regularly go to a restaurant where I used to serve–so I knew everyone there. The agency owner had an inflated sense of entitlement and would occasionally be super rude to the hosts or the manager, and I died a little inside every time, because it made the agency look bad and it made me personally look bad to people I used to work with.

      Since she was the owner, I couldn’t really say anything, so instead I simply refused to pull strings / use my influence to get what she wanted. And then apologized to the restaurant workers when no one was looking. Sometimes I would try to explain to her why a certain restaurant policy was the way it was, but she never wanted the rules to apply to her.

      We were a really small agency, so I don’t know if I would have been brave enough to say anything if it were a coworker!

  21. Free Meerkats*

    Office kitty update.

    We saw a photo of a stray taken in at the Animal Shelter (only 1/2 mile from us) a couple of days after she stopped showing up that looked like her, but the photo didn’t show if the cat had a clipped ear. By the time one of us made it over there, the cat had been adopted, so we are all living under the hopeful view that it was her and she’s in her forever home.

    Her brother misses her.

  22. Seltzer Fan*

    Requesting travel reimbursement after rejection

    I’ve been interviewing for a job that I was really excited about, but learned yesterday that the other finalist accepted the offer. I’m disappointed but I understand the reasoning, and trying not to dwell on it. For the final interview last week, I traveled to a different city, and the company said they’d reimburse travel expenses. I should have just sent the receipt right away but in my excitement I put it off, and now I’d like to include it in my follow up to the rejection. I’m a little worried about how it will come across. Here’s an abbreviated version of what I have drafted:

    Hi [hiring manager],

    Thank you again for calling yesterday! While I’m disappointed to not be joining [company], it sounds like you made the best decision for the team. It was such a pleasure to meet you, and I feel like I’ve learned a ton about [industry] through the conversations that we’ve had over the last few weeks. If you do have any openings in the future, I hope that you’ll keep me in mind!

    I did want to follow up about reimbursement for my train tickets last week. I realized that I hadn’t sent over the receipt yet, which is attached here. If you need any other information to process this, please let me know!


    Basically, I think I just need a little reassurance that this phrasing is OK. Any thoughts appreciated!

    1. ZSD*

      That seems perfectly-phrased to me. If I received that note from a rejected candidate, I would remember them as professional and gracious.

    2. Murphy*

      I think that sounds fine! It’s very gracious, and the reimbursement language is practical.

    3. Seltzer Fan*

      Thank you all!!

      It’s funny how much this kind of situation can shake your confidence even for little things, very much appreciate the reassurance.

    4. Anona*

      It looks good. I might convert a few exclamation points to periods, but other than that, it reads well.

      1. Seltzer Fan*

        hah! This is my constant struggle. The actual email is a bit longer so the exclamation points are less frequent than they appear here, but I’ll review before I send with that in mind.

    5. Jadelyn*

      That email would win you serious points with me – you’re poised, gracious about having not been selected, no hint of resentment at all, and your reminder about the reimbursement is very matter of fact and forthright without being demanding. I genuinely would be keeping you in mind if we had other openings come up in the future.

  23. Susan K*

    I posted on an open thread a few months ago about my struggles to get my coworkers to use, or even try out, their new company-provided iPads. The good news is that people are starting to warm up to the iPads, even the people who initially wouldn’t even open the box. The bad news is that I think it’s largely because people have discovered that they can use the iPads to go on Facebook during meetings and play video games when they’re supposed to be working. One guy has taken to using it to catch up with relatives on FaceTime during his workday. At least these non-work uses are giving them an incentive to carry their iPads with them, and also helping them get more comfortable and familiar with the iPads.

    I’ve been trying to train people on how to use the iPads for the work-related stuff, but it’s tough because everyone is on different shifts. I have gotten it added to our next regularly-scheduled training session, but that’s several weeks from now. My manager tends to be impulsive and impatient, so he is wanting me to start implementing changes before I think we’re really ready, while I would rather have a more orderly implementation, but I’m doing the best I can.

    1. Afiendishthingy*

      I just realized two weeks ago our department has two new ipads still in their boxes. They were sitting on the shelves behind toxic coworker’s desk. She is very tech un-savvy and also insecure – I think she doesn’t know how to use them, and she wants to be in charge of everything our department does (we do not have a department head or director), so god forbid the rest of us get to have useful technology…

    2. Free Meerkats*

      I’d give the pros and cons of doing it your way and the pros and cons of doing it the boss’s way to the boss (in email) and ask him which way he’d like you to go (in email.) When he says to do it his way, do it his way and let the chips fall. If it goes pear-shaped, you’re covered by the paper trail.

    3. Thlayli*

      It might make you feel better if you remember that one benefit of the use for non-work activities is to get them comfortable with the interface and become more tech-savvy. It’s the same reason windows included those games they have – minesweeper taught people to left and right click, solitaire and free cell taught people to use the mouse etc. All the time we thought we were wasting time, we were being sneakily trained in a new interface!

    4. Totally Minnie*

      I think you can address this in the same way you’d address any sort of inappropriate use of workplace technology. If you found out that one of your employees was playing online poker on his work issued desktop or laptop computer on a regular basis, you’d address it. Treat the iPads the same way. Work issued technology is to be used for mostly work related purposes, and while minor and infrequent personal uses can be okay (checking your personal email on a day when you’re expecting an important message to come through, or something similar), people should be using personal devices for things relating to their personal lives.

      My organization has a written policy to this effect that all new hires who use work issued computers or mobile devices are required to sign off on before we are given access. Does your workplace have anything along those lines? If not, can you get your manager to talk about creating something?

      1. Susan K*

        Yes, my company does have a policy like this, but the managers in my department are not big on enforcing it. They have this idea that if they cut off one person’s internet access, they have to cut off everyone’s internet access, or else they will get accused of discrimination (I know how stupid this is, but that’s their belief). Plus, there are people who work harder at finding ways to goof off at work than they do at their actual jobs, so even if someone takes away their games, they’ll find something else.

  24. Allypopx*

    I’m at work so I may have to ask and come back later – will try to offer clarifications if they are needed but excuse my response time!

    I’m running into a lot of trouble in my current degree problem with things like the singular they not being accepted in academic/business writing. My push backs and resource sharing are not successful because “that’s not how the department teaches” etc.

    This is important to me, and I don’t mind being marked down for using it, but I’m not making any headway getting the point across. Any tips anyone would have for navigating that would certainly be appreciated.

    1. writelhd*

      Unfortunately I think you probably *won’t* get the point across, that’s probably too insanity-making of a battle to take on, departments are not likely to budge on things like this. But if you’re fine accepting the mark down for using it, make the rest of your work so good that the markdown’s don’t keep you from completing the program, and make the choice to do what you want.

    2. matcha123*

      I feel like I was taught to use ‘they’ rather than ‘he/she’ when writing. I’ve always used it and it sounds very natural to me. Merriam-Webster even posted an article about it.
      With that said, if you are going for a degree and your degree depends on other people, you may have to use their style. I’ve run into this at work, too, and maybe if you think about it as an order from a supervisor it might be a bit easier to swallow.
      Basically if you’ve presented them with solid evidence/articles as to why ‘they’ is acceptable and they continue to deny it, then there’s not much you can do. What do Chicago, APA, etc. have to say about it? That might be the best place to search to give your argument teeth.

    3. Forking great username*

      This is a tough one. I’m an English major but with my teaching certification, and I found it interesting that my English and Linguistics professors would leave it alone/agreed with me that it wasn’t improper, while my education professors would frequently mark my down for it and note the correction. I talked to some of them about it – some were swayed by my letting them know that the university’s English and Linguistics department did not consider that to be incorrect, and why.

      However, others just said things like, “Well, in the world of teaching you’ll have people making hiring and other important decisions on your xareee who do see it as wrong, so that’s the standard used here.”

      I didn’t stop using they/them but in classes where I knew the prof wasn’t for this, I would make it non-singular. So instead of saying, “As a student begins high school, they…” I would change ‘a student’ to ‘students’ so that it still used they but wasn’t incorrect.

    4. Jadelyn*

      Would you be comfortable responding to “that’s not how the department teaches” with “that’s not how the department has taught in the past, no, but there’s absolutely no reason not to use it given that it’s been in use for centuries, and the alternative is either clunky and less efficient (he or she, s/he) or outright sexist (default “he”), so I’m going to continue using it. Change has to start somewhere, after all.”

      I mean, singular they has been in use literally since Modern English began to be distinguishable from Middle English – there are examples of it dating back to the fourteenth century. You may not make headway in convincing these particular people to start using it themselves, but they’re really, really not in the right on this one.

    5. Academic Editor*

      Unfortunately, nearly all academic writing refuses to recognize singular “they.” As mush as I use it frequently in speech and non-academic writing, it’s pretty standard across all the style guides to use some variation of “s/he.” This can be field specific, of course, but if your department is telling you “no” then there is not much way to get around it. And some people are like weirdly attached to the idea that “they” cannot be singular (like an undergrad student arguing how “grammatically incorrect” it was with a published expert in a linguistics class that specifically rejected the idea of formal grammar), despite being used that way for literal centuries, which is to say that it just might not be worth the fight.

      1. Reba*

        Chicago states that singular they is gaining ground but still not acceptable in academic writing. They do offer many tips for writing around the issue, here

        It’s annoying but I do agree with others that you should get through your program with its rules, then use singular they to your heart’s content once you’re on your own (although you may still get pushback on it when you go to publish!)

    6. only acting normal*

      Be assured you are correct, your dept is wrong.
      Beyond that… does your school have a published style guide or adhere to a specific 3rd party guide? There’s a slim chance a style guide has moved with the times, but your tutors haven’t read it in recently. Or you may be able to lobby the part of your school in charge of the guide rather than individual teachers or your dept.

    7. Thlayli*

      No department head at a university is going to listen to an undergraduate on how to write academic papers.

      If you can find published peer reviewed articles supporting your opinion they might be willing to read them. Until then you can either use the department approved style or accept the loss of marks.

      1. Allypopx*

        I mean I’m not an undergrad but I’m not talking to the department head for precisely that reason. I’m talking to my professors, who generally like and respect me, in hopes they’ll show either personal flexibility or an inclination to present the issue higher up. I understand why they would not be inclined to do so, I do. But I’m raising the issue.

    8. blackcat*

      Honestly, I don’t think you’ll be able to get the point across.

      Do what they ask and play their game. You can have conversations with fellow students about it, but I wouldn’t try to get the point across to any faculty. Trying will just turn you into “That guy.” And you don’t want to be “that guy.”

    9. Not So NewReader*

      I have seen more than a few examples of this during my years in college. I thought I was pretty much stuck going with what the professor wanted even though I knew it to be wrong. To some extent it feels like “playing the game” give them what they want and then we get the letter grade we want. You said you are not concerned about a few points, so the next step is do you want to spend all your energy fighting this battle. It sounds like you are dealing with Person-Who-Will-Not-Budge. This person is not going to change no matter how much energy and time you put into this. Your only hope is that everyone around them changes and the pressure makes them cave.

    10. Mad Baggins*

      I had an English teacher who was super picky about these kinds of little rules that you could totally argue one way or the other (number of spaces after a period, Oxford comma, singular they, etc). Style-wise I did what she said, and found other ways to express my values. Maybe you can change every generic singular pronoun to “she” like AAM does, or “she” for bosses and “he” for nurses, etc…?

  25. Renee*

    I heard a great aphorism on a podcast last night regarding leadership: hold your people to the highest possible standards, and take the best possible care of them. So, managers, how do you take best possible care of your people (outside of direct compensation)? If you’re not a manager, how do you want to be taken care of?

    As a manager, my list so far includes: respecting off time (nights, weekends, and vacations), allowing for flexibility in how they get their work done, taking time to explain the ‘why’ behind what they’re doing, listening and accepting feedback, allowing for constructive disagreement and debate, and giving constructive criticism promptly in a direct yet kind manner.

      1. Renee*

        Oh, yes, this is an important one. I always appreciate getting positive feedback from my managers.

    1. Lora*

      Defending them from BS. When another manager doesn’t want to take responsibility for something they screwed up and they are trying to blame your people, you gotta step up and go to bat for them. When a senior manager is in Freakout Mode and trying to throw good people under the bus, you get him to calm down and do a real root cause analysis. When someone has mysteriously decided that in lieu of a real time motion study he wants to pull unrealistic numbers from his rectum, you insist on realistic numbers.

      Also, doing the office politics. Have seen many managers who claim they hate office politics and stay out of them, but in real life if you want a fair chunk of budget and resources for what your department is being tasked with, then you will have to be in both management’s and other departments’ faces, reminding them what you do for them and how great your people are and how much they deserve piles of money.

      And also being as transparent with them as you can. There’s always going to be things you can’t talk about, but for many things you don’t actually have to be need-to-know, you can explain the rationale. Managers’ instinct in crap situations like layoffs tends to be to clam up, but you can say SOME things like, “we haven’t decided yet what the criteria will be for layoffs, but here’s the timeline for making that decision and I’ll tell you as soon as I know” or whatever.

      1. Sunflower*

        Wow I really agree with all of this. I think these things really highlight the parts of management that a lot of people hate but are truly necessary in being successful.

      2. NW Mossy*

        Transparency is one that’s really underrated, and something I really strive for as a manager because I appreciate it so much from my own management.

        Right now I’m mentoring someone who’s interested in management, and today we talked about how we assess performance and decide raises at this company. It was all brand-new information to her (as it is to basically every individual contributor I’ve ever told about it), and that’s a shame. Everyone should know at a high-level what the timeline is, who’s involved in the decisions, what constraints decision-makers have, and the overall objectives. Otherwise, people write their own stories about how these decisions are made, and they’re often a lot less flattering than reality.

    2. Kelsi*

      My manager is terrific. One of the ways she supports me the most is by supporting me in enforcing my boundaries, and enforcing them for me as necessary. What I mean by that is–she trusts my judgment in what I can and can’t do with the time and resources given to me. She never undermines me when I tell someone that I won’t be able to do what they’re asking for (say, because I’m not a web developer) or that I can do it but not on the timeline requested (because other people have high priority projects as well)–and, in some cases, she stops requests like that before they even reach me (when they come from higher levels or from meetings she’s in but I’m not.) She also steps in when I receive pushback from people and they need to hear “no” from someone higher-up.

      I’ve been able to be a higher performer under her management than the entire rest of the time I’ve been at this agency (more than a decade). I definitely don’t think that’s an accident–because now when I set deadlines, I know I’m going to be able to meet them because I won’t be blindsided by projects people didn’t plan well for. I’m able to get my work done much more quickly, because she’s supported me in setting up and maintaining the work flow that I do best with.

    3. The Cleaner*

      One of the best things my boss does is make sure I am visible to other people in leadership. If he is presenting to our board on a project, he will make sure I am present and will redirect questions to me about specific components of the project. When he is recognized for a successful outcome, he is inclusive in his public response, and is specific about his team’s contributions (“Thank you! The great work done by Abby on our communications, and Steve’s ability to customize the software, were key to the project’s success!”)

      1. Lumen*

        This is huge. Every time my boss or grand-boss tell me something positive that our great-grand boss (C level) said about me specifically, or how impressed they were with my work on X, it is such a good feeling.

    4. Jadelyn*

      Two more big ones: treating your employees like humans when they’re having a bad day or struggling, and approaching that from a place of “how can I help resolve this?” rather than “you’re need to sort yourself out.”

      And, being willing to run interference with the higher-ups/use your influence on behalf of your staff counts for a LOT with me. One of the best things my manager does for me is, if I need to be able to focus on a project, I just have to tell her I’m blocking off X period of time for Y project, I’m going to turn on my email bounceback message and send my phone straight to voicemail and route all attempts to drag me into something over to her, and she takes over for that duration of time, steps up and tells people “no” for me, including people I can’t really say “no” to. She’ll also volunteer to make phone calls to people who are not responding to me, because they might feel like they can ignore me, but very few people feel like they can ignore her.

      There was also one very memorable time when our VP (her boss, my grandboss) was freaking out over something I’d sent him, because he’d called me in a panic like “I need this document LITERALLY RIGHT THIS SECOND” so I slammed the sub-documents into a single PDF and sent it to him right away, total lag time between call and hitting send was about 60 seconds, and because he was so freaked out with urgency I didn’t take the extra couple of minutes to create a new cover page for the compiled document like I normally would have.

      He opened it, saw the cover page from the first sub-document rather than the overall cover page I would normally have added when creating the compiled doc, and assumed that I’d just sent him that one subdocument and not the compiled document he needed. So he called my manager and yelled at her about me “sending him the wrong thing.” She pulled me into her office and put it on speaker – I explained that the whole compiled document was in there, just keep scrolling and you’ll see the rest of it, and told him I hadn’t added the new cover page because he’d said he needed it right this second and even I have my limits on what I can do in under a minute – he could either have perfect or he could have immediate, but not both, and from the tone of his call it sounded very much like he wanted the latter, so that’s what I went with.

      He started to yell at me, then, about “sub-par work” (which is wildly out of character for him, because I’m one of the highest performers on my team and normally he regards me as just shy of a miracle worker, but he was super stressed and being hounded for this document by his own boss) – and my manager spoke over him, loudly but calmly, and said, “You will not speak to my employee that way when she actually did get you what you needed, appropriate to the level of urgency you conveyed in your request to her. Call us back when you’ve calmed down.” And she hung up on him.

      I remember giving her a horrified stare, thinking “oh my god, what have you done?” She laughed it off, she and the VP had worked together for like 10 years at various companies so she knew he would calm down and apologize in a bit, and not stay mad at her for hanging up. But then she very seriously added that she saw it as her responsibility as my manager to try to shield me from shit rolling downhill as much as she could, and she was not okay with anyone being rude and disrespectful to me regardless of the reason. If someone had that bad of a problem with me, they could come to her, and she would deal with them and then be the one to come talk with me if necessary.

      She won a LOT of loyalty from me that day. I can’t tell you how amazing it felt to see my manager standing up to her manager for me like that.

    5. A username for this site*

      One thing I would think an excellent boss does, but I have seen many fail on, is being willing to be nice and fair to everyone, even if it may mean risking seeming unfair to others.

      I’ve worked in many an environment where all of the top performers were scrambling and making a considerable sacrifice to cover someone else’s inadequacies (excessive absenteeism, general laziness/not completing tasks, not preparing adequately for events, bullying/harassment) but no manager was willing to address the root cause that was making 10 people miserable because they were afraid to seem “mean” to the 11th person who was creating all of these issues.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Make sure the employees have the tools they need to do their jobs.
      Make sure the tools are in good working order. Broken chair?- get a new one, right away.

      Be available to explain company expectations and department expectations BEFORE a problem happens. If you miss this step, own it. Shoulder the failure, do not let the employee take a full hit for it.

      Check to make sure employees are aware of the benefits/PTO etc. Don’t make them ask.

      Let your people have some control over their work practices, work flows and SOPs. The best ideas usually come from the people actually doing the work. If something is too labor intensive and you need it streamlined, ask THEM how best to do that. Let them participate in the new plan.

    7. Chaordic One*

      At the best job I ever had, my managers had an excellent grasp of what I was doing and how long it would take to do it. There were rarely any unreasonable deadlines and my managers were excellent at letting me know what the priorities were. It was like they were psychic.

  26. Nervous Accountant*

    It’s been extremely busy, feels like tax season minus the tax returns and the tears lol. We’re revamping a lot of things, getting new software and getting up to speed etc.

    EVALS ARE DUE TODAY and I’m still not done wtih mine SMH! I can’t locate my prior one–not that I copy paste it but I always use a previous one to jump off of. And every year I tell myself I will note accomplishments throughout the year so this time is easier. But no. All I can think of is…..working through tax season got me through the absolute worst days of my life. Only my boss & mgr will read it and they already know this, but it feels weird to put it in writing. I’m less incline to work so hard on it bc I am not getting as big a raise as last year or promotion for reasons.

    Anyway, so I’m in more of a leadership role. I’m included in a lot more manager meetings now, and had to speak in some of them. Jeez I get nervous AF, feeling like I don’t belong there. Worse are the training meetings. They’re going to happen frequently and it’s very possible that I will have to lead them last minute. I’m having a hard enough time getting up to speed on the processes, and then figuring out a way to explain it easily to everyone, and not miss it. I stutter and get so nervous ugh esp when it’s so last minute.

    Does it get better? Anyone else feel like this? How do I stop.. being me.

    1. LQ*

      It does get better. It does. It might always be hard, but it does get better.

      You don’t stop being you, you …YOU at the problem. That’s why you’re in the role, because you YOU. What you do is good enough to get promoted and into a leadership role, so you turn that hard work and energy at the problem of the leadership role. It is a problem like any other, and you solve it like you would any difficult or confusing tax return. You dig in, you understand the problem, you work the problem, you resolve it.

      And for the training thing, one of the best ways to learn a process is to train it, so going into all of them as if you are going to have to train it can help you learn it better. You’re just at the peak of the learning pyramid.

      Go do you!

    2. Ruth (US)*

      Regarding impostor syndrome – it does get better! I’m three years into my first position that requires my master’s degree, and it took about a year before I felt competent and stopped feeling like I didn’t belong, despite having the right experience and qualifications for the position.

      Regarding your nerves about training meetings – my experience has been that the more I’ve done public speaking, the less nervous I feel about it, to the point where speaking up in meetings and sometimes leading them feels routine to me. I also do training, and the more comfortable I am with the material, the more comfortable I am doing the training (although that may not help if you frequently have to learn new material and then turn around and present it to others). I had the option to observe a very experienced trainer in a few sessions before I had to do it on my own, and she also shared her lesson plans and handouts with me, which was very helpful. Are you in a position to get some mentoring from a more experienced trainer at your company, or would it be possible for you to do some professional development (like Toastmasters) related to training/public speaking?

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Practice for the training meetings.
      Take a new topic and practice explaining to yourself as you stand in front of the bathroom mirror.
      Here the goal is not to pick the actual thing you will have to present, the goal is to practice pulling a training out of thin air.

      My friend had a terrible time with stuttering. I felt so bad for her. If you listened to her talk, she was running out of air. I told her take a deep breath, let it go nice and easy, take another deep breath and then start to talk. She said, “Someone else said the same thing.” Yeah, well. So she started doing this and it worked almost instantly, her stuttering dropped by easily 75% the first day she tried it. Breathe. Maybe even do some breathing exercises here and there when you are not working.

      Don’t forget you can ask if anyone has insights they would like to share that you have not touched on. This takes pressure off of you, allows others a moment in the sun and keeps the group engaged.

    4. MamaCat*

      In regards to noting your accomplishments for the next year: do you have to-do lists you make and work off of? If so, save them in one folder, either in your desk or on your computer (depending on if they’re digital or physical), and voila, you have a list of your accomplishments (or at least something to jar your memory with). Hope this helps!

  27. bluelyon*

    Mostly a rant but there it leads to a bigger question
    My job sucks, my boss doesn’t love conflict and expends all her energy for it fighting our ED to get the support we need for my department to work. This means that my evil horrid co-worker Jane has no reason to stop undermining me, yelling at me and screwing up my work. (Twice in the last 3 weeks she’s opened a file attached to an email and saved it over the more recent version on the sever losing my work in the process – and claims it’s an accident)
    This job is terrible but I need to make it through to the end of the year – I’m looking at October 15th before I can look for jobs and that’s on the soon end.
    Beyond that my personal life is falling to pieces as well in large part due to my misery and stress from work. I’ve gained weight, have no energy for things I love and no motivation.

    How have others managed keeping afloat emotionally and physically in scenarios like this? I’m at my wits end and the doctor was mostly of the – suck it up and exercise and cut out stress. Which – I know but isn’t helping.

    1. irene adler*

      I find that talking to someone outside of the issues can help relieve the frustration and stress.
      On the other end of the spectrum, finding something to occupy your mind that is totally outside the realm of work and personal life can help too. Books, a tv show, things like that work for me.

    2. Jen*

      I try to pretend I’m an anthropologist in the field studying (in my case) racist old white guys who bully and nitpick for a hobby. It helps me stay detached. Some days I can really get into character.

    3. Ellie*

      Save copies of the work in an additional place so when she ‘accidently’ messes something up again, you’ve got the right stuff. I know that doesn’t address her being a jerk, but after working with jerks for years, I’ve learned to structure things to ensure that they cannot mess with my day.

      And if she yells, I think you should use an Alison script and say, “It looks like this isn’t a good time for you- let’s talk later,” then walk off. Do what you need to do to get away from her. You deserve respect and courtesy each and every day!! If she doesn’t know how to act like a human being, she doesn’t get to talk to you. I know that’s easy for me to say, but remember that YOU MATTER.

      Also, find a better doctor!!! I got those sort of foolish responses to requests for help, and when I found a real doctor who listened, I got real help and experienced a real improvement.

    4. Becky*

      on a practical note, is it possible to prevent the losses of the saving over on the server by having name appended versions? For example, if your document is Q2Strategy.docx then name your drafts or changes Q2Strategy7132018.docx and always date/save your work under that name and then the again as a “final” version as Q2Strategy.docx so all you need to do if it gets accidentally overwritten again is to find the last version and rename to the proper file? If there is a liklihood that someone would delete the date versions then could they be saved in a different location or folder on the server?

      1. Anon for this one*

        OldJob kept an _old folder in every subcategory so we could always find the latest version. Also had rules about naming files (with date and user’s initials) but even if you can’t get Jane to follow that, you’ll have the old versions ready to go.

        Also just… detach emotionally from work is what helped me. Remember that line from the Facebook movie–“You have a fragment of my attention, you have the barest amount”? That was my attitude. Spent my day trying to recall as much of Hamilton as I could, did the bare minimum, stopped wasting energy on trying to fix things or imagine ways they could be improved. Listened to the Meditation Minis podcast in the bathroom or on breaks. Instead of using my free time to store up energy to fight through another day at work, I tried to refocus my mind to store up energy while at work to LIVE while I was at home. I had dropped so many hobbies, wasn’t eating/exercising well–instead of “I can’t go out tonight, I have to rest so I can survive to fight Jane at work tomorrow” I thought, “I can’t waste time and energy fighting Jane, I’m seeing the new Marvel movie with a friend tonight!” or “I can’t be bothered to redo this whole thing to please Jane, I have to leave at 4 for the therapist!”

        It’s definitely not easy, but take care of yourself first! You are strong and you can do this!!

    5. Lumen*

      First of all: your job really does suck. Why do you have to wait until mid-October before you can even start looking for work?

      Second: I’m concerned for your health and a little pissed off at your doctor for not giving you more help. The things you’re mentioning warrant more than ‘suck it up’. Exercise doesn’t necessarily work for everyone, and it’s not a panacea that will cure all that ails you.

      Third: is there any way at all that you can talk to a professional about the issues in your personal life and the feelings you’re having? An EAP, an income-scaled therapy option, etc? Even an online therapy arrangement might work, and they’re usually less expensive.

      Fourth: whatever you do, don’t double down on yourself for not being happier, dealing with it better, etc. You are in a terrible situation and it is affecting you. That’s okay. That doesn’t mean that you’re weak or bad or whatever. Sometimes you just gotta give yourself permission to say “I feel ____ and I wish I didn’t, but it won’t last forever.”

      In summary: feeling like this isn’t just normal adulthood, and you shouldn’t just have to ‘deal with it’. You deserve to feel okay even if you’re temporarily stuck in a crappy job. The problem is not that you aren’t tough enough or doing the right thing: the problem is that you’re in an untenable situation and you need help and you aren’t getting it.

      I really hope the best for you, bluelyon.

      1. Ruth (US)*

        I would definitely echo this, especially the part about therapy/counseling. You don’t even need to do it longterm; just a few sessions might be enough to give you the tools you need to help with your ongoing stress.

        But as someone who’s been through a similar situation (in a job I came to hate with no immediate prospects for leaving, but without the sabotaging coworker – WTF???), all of this is excellent advice for self-care.

    6. DaniCalifornia*

      -Mantras for each situation. Repeated over and over.
      -Looking at pictures of humorous or funny things. Can help calm me down after a bad day.
      -Getting ready for my job search. Even if I can’t search right away, making sure my resume/cover letters/refs are in order and have been reviewed by others. Researching new companies. It helped me a bit through tax season this year since I can’t go on interviews during that time.

      Can you not protect the file on the server so Jane can’t make edits. Or at least save it to your computer as well so when she does change it you don’t lose work? I’ve done that with some procedural documentation because the temp person each season would accidentally edit it.

      Honestly it SUCKS to exercise after long hard stressful days. But I’ve found it’s the biggest difference for me and my mood and how I feel. Even if I talk about how much I’m hating exercise while I do it (with my husband laughing at me) I never feel bad after. I sleep better. Which helps more with work. It takes about a week for it to start taking affect but every time I stop I go back to feeling even more miserable.

    7. LCL*

      Does Jane actually have to do work on these files? Can you send her copy protected or PDF versions? Or if she has to work on them, can you set them up with track changes enabled?
      As for the yelling, don’t tolerate it. You can either call her on it when she is doing it, or say I can’t talk to you when you’re yelling, then walk away. Or just walk away when she starts in on you.

    8. bluelyon*

      Thanks everyone – these are some helpful tips
      – to the doctor point I probably should have gone into more detail – she’s generally great and always tells me what I need to hear -this has been the first time I didn’t get something that was really helpful from her in the entire course of our relationship. Particularly with exercise -I’m a marathon runner so telling me to actually get off my but and run and train is at least solid advice. Obviously that doesn’t work for the zillions of people who aren’t marathon runners.
      – Can’t start looking until October because my professional reputation would take a pretty big hit if word got out that I was job searching before our two major events. (Our gala is 9/29 and Giving Tuesday is a pretty big deal for us) I run both of those. I can start looking between them but before would be bad news.
      – Sadly Jane and I both need to make updates to these documents. They’re collaborative team ones and my boss has made clear that she hates it when people create versions with dates/initials/etc delineating whose version is whose. And – since it’s only a 4 person team 3 of whom update these docs it shouldn’t be that big a deal.

      I always struggle with the idea of therapy* because I tend to be able (for better or worse and probably worse) to look at my life and go well I was really happy a year ago and then these three things changed and now I’m miserable. And I know that if I change this fourth thing two of the three things will improve so why bother finding a therapist/counselor who will tell me to change the fourth thing after time, money and filling out forms. *I also had a pretty lousy experience the one time I tried it which has left me a bit gunshy about trying again

      1. TCPA*

        When I was having a rough time work-wise earlier this year, I found meditating when I first woke up or right before going to bed was incredibly helpful. Usually about 10-15 minutes. I’d never done it before, and started using the app Headspace, which has nice guided meditations of varying lengths/purposes/topics. After a few weeks of meditation I really noticed myself starting to relax and not feel so anxious all the time, especially when stressful work situations came up. It feels nice to have that quiet, peaceful time for myself each day. Best of luck to you!

    9. Not So NewReader*

      no energy for things I love and no motivation.

      This sounds so much like where I have been. Take control of your diet, eat real meals. It matters. The amount of stress and dread you have is eating up all your vitamins and minerals which in turn takes your coping tools. My go-to in times like this was to load up on carbs which dragged me down, waaaay down. This means more stress. Consider a drink with electrolytes in it, consider a protein drink. Make yourself eat a salad once a day.

      Make a list of things you will do in October when this job is done. See how many things you can start right now.

      What are you reading? Put the newspaper down. There’s very little good in the news. Teach yourself something, read some self-help books or just read stuff about people doing good things.

      If you don’t go to bed at a set time, start doing this. If you are doing this, then consider adding an hour of rest every other day or mid-week or whatever seems right.

      Unfortunately, it seems that the negative just happens to us and we don’t have to do anything. But if we want positive we have to create it ourselves. So what positive thing would you like to do? Keep it simple and doable, so that you actually do it. Just pick one thing and decide that it WILL happen this week. Watch out for the concept of postponed happiness. Decide that concept does not work and you do not have to wait until October to find something positive for yourself in life.

  28. Appointment*

    Hey…I had something weird and amusing happen at work. I recently asked for a morning off at work for an “appointment.” And now I think my boss suspects I’m interviewing for another job.
    She emailed me back asking me to “hang tight” about something we discussed.

    It’s not though. I’m actually visiting a therapist for the first time. (Yay?)

    My question is. Do I assure her I’m not interviewing? Or do I let her stew? It actually might me get the thing I wanted at work. But it seems dangerous.

    1. LadyByTheLake*

      Don’t comment on it. You can have an appointment and what it is for is none of her business.

      1. Appointment*

        Oh no, she’s giving me the time off. I’m just feeling guilty that she’s panicking that I’m finding another job.

        I’m not going to tell her details, but should I assure her it’s just a doctor’s appointment?

        1. motherofdragons*

          I say this with kindness: Her (possible) anxiety isn’t your responsibility. No need to assure her. I hope therapy goes awesomely!

        2. blackcat*

          If it’ll make you feel better, you can shoot a her a note and say “Do you mean “hang tight” about scheduling? I’m trying to make a medical appointment, so I’d like to know ASAP if that morning will work.”

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Let her stew. :) If you deserve a raise or promotion, and you’ve discussed a raise or a promotion, then take it. It doesn’t matter if you’re interviewing or not, and you’re certainly not lying to her or deliberately misleading her. She’s drawing her own conclusions.

    3. Seltzer Fan*

      I wouldn’t explain! Let her think that if she wants, especially if it seems like that’s making her reflect on how valuable you are to the company.

      And good on you for therapy—it’s always worth it.

        1. Lumen*

          I’ve seen two therapists in the past at different times in my life, and next week I have my first session with a third. I’ve been anxious every time. It’s a new person, and one you’re going to end up being very vulnerable with (hopefully! because otherwise therapy isn’t going to do much good).

          So that is normal! And it’s why you should be proud of yourself for being so brave and taking such good care of yourself. It takes a lot of wisdom and courage to say “hey, I could really use some help”… and then go GET it.

          I think of counseling a little like working out. If you want to push yourself and really grow and become stronger, it’s best and safest to have a trainer who can guide your progress, “spot” you during difficult work, encourage you to keep going, and make sure you don’t slack off or regress.

          I wish you an open mind, lots of healing, and the best of luck.

        2. LilySparrow*

          I’ve met with 4 therapists and worked with 2 of them. They were all just nice people in ordinary offices. The first meeting is usually just to go over any intake paperwork and ask very innocuous questions like, “what prompted you to call” and “how are you feeling today”.

          Tell them you’re nervous – that’s very normal and they’ll help put you at ease. They’re not going to push you at the first meeting, just get some ideas of where your needs are and what sort of steps might be helpful for you.

    4. Sunflower*

      Let her stew. You don’t want to set the precedent for divulging information every time you need to be OOO. And yes, you should definitely keep some mystery about what you are doing. It won’t hurt.

    5. CatCat*

      It’s none of her beeswax.

      And you’re assuming what she’s assuming. Don’t bring it up.

      If you’re assumption is correct, that’s on all her own doing in her mind and not your responsibility to manage. It may spur her to make improvements to the deal you’ve got (or at least open up a conversation about such improvements) if she thinks you’re interviewing and could get a better deal somewhere else.

    6. Yorick*

      If anything, you can tell her you’re happy in the job and all that without telling her what your appointment was for.

    7. nep*

      You can’t act on just assumptions and projections. Leave things be. And good luck with the therapy.

  29. ThatGirl*

    It has been an interesting week.

    First, after we finalized a corporate divestiture on Monday, I watched one of my admittedly not-the-best-performer co-workers get walked out. I suspect it had been in the works for awhile, but I had just complained to our manager about her last week (and have complained about her here) so the timing was interesting. We’re at like half staff right now, but we should have a new person soon (that hiring was already in the works) and I’m hoping they replace her soon.

    And then today my husband, who works for a small counseling dept at a university, learned the acting/interim director is leaving – the actual director left in May, they haven’t even POSTED the job for her replacement yet, and now someone else is leaving. He feels super screwed and stuck there, and I feel bad for him. The administration is so incompetent.

  30. Snark*

    I’m trying very, very hard, and largely failing, to not get incredibly irritated, impatient, and annoyed with how long it’s taking my new employer to extend a final, firm offer. I applied for this position in mid-March. I was the only selected applicant. I received a tentative offer and completed my onboarding paperwork a MONTH ago. I completed my drug test three weeks ago. I completed my physical ten days ago. And still, I’m anxiously checking my email every few hours, waiting for the process to FINALLY end.

    I’m excited about the position and am looking forward to my new coworkers and boss. I think this will be great. I’m looking forward to the job security and the opportunities for advancement. But I’m going to have to try a little longer, and harder, to stop being incredibly irritated that I’ve spent months blowing through my savings, deferring house projects, and cutting expenses because the human resources center is sl0w-walking this at every opportunity.

      1. Snark*

        It will. Sometime in the next week or two, I’m sure, when I’m traveling internationally for five days, returning for 12 hours, and then turning around for a domestic trip.

    1. SophieChotek*

      Oh, I would be so nervous and irritated too! I hope the offer comes through soon! I admit I don’t understand why the final, firm offer hasn’t come yet.

      1. Snark*

        Neither do I. It’s not like much work remains to be done. I know the local HR guy sent it all to the person who makes the final offer on Wednesday of last week. But that’s been the pattern this entire time: you fling paperwork into a black box, and at some indeterminate (and interminable) time later, the process lurches forward another step.

    2. Susan K*

      Yikes… I almost wonder if you are my new coworker, because this seems very similar to how my company operates (except that they usually have the drug test and physical on the same day), and we have someone waiting for paperwork to go through. HR has no sense of urgency to complete the process expeditiously because it’s just paperwork to them, and candidates are afraid to be assertive becaus