my coworker gets away with everything

A reader writes:

My coworker has a family member who was a pretty big deal in the company. Said relative has since retired, but her legacy sort of lives on.

My coworker gets away with EVERYTHING. She treats her superiors with no respect, does whatever she wants, never has consequences. I have literally heard her say to our manager, “No, I am not going to do that” and just walk away. She is constantly complaining about how busy she is (I think in hopes no one will assign her more work) but she never even does the work that is assigned to her. I get stuck with it.

I am constantly seeing her on her computer; looking at real estate, shopping, just browsing the internet. If she’s not doing that, she is socializing with other people, talking about work. She just never does any work, and it all falls onto me. I am getting sick of it. Whenever I try to go to my manager, I get a “I can’t do anything about it, my hands are tied.” If I try going above my manager, I get scolded, saying that she is “not your problem, stay in your lane, and do your own work.” I’m looking for what I can do to not have to pick up her slack. I’m getting a little fed up with it.

  • My coworker might be leaving and I’m interested in her job
  • HR manager comments on everything I eat
  • I’m thinking about leaving a field I love because I can’t find a new job

 

{ 81 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. Observer

    Coworker gets away with stuff:

    Stay in your lane. That’s not to say that you should just accept being drowned in work. It’s just that THAT is the only thing you really have standing to address. I’d use Allison’s scrips there. If that doen’t work, go above them and focus ONLY on the direct effect on you. They tell you to stay in your lane,point out that you ARE staying in your lane. That, once it’s been assigned to you, they have made it your lane.

    Reply
  2. Detective Amy Santiago

    #2

    Instead of simply mentioning that you’re interested in that type of role, why not ask your boss “what do you think I should work on improving to be ready for that kind of role in the future?”

    Reply
    1. myswtghst

      This was my thought as well. It’s definitely fine to just mention it once, but it shouldn’t hurt to also start talking about what you would need to do to position yourself for a role like that, should one become available. That way you’ve not only shown interest, but you also can be proactive about addressing any opportunities.

      Reply
  3. Anonandanon

    I got the same exact “my hands are tied” with regard to sucky coworker…just biding my time now and keeping a low profile until I’m out of here.

    Reply
    1. Richard Hershberger

      This is the correct answer. What should you do? Polish the resume and start interviewing. There is no need in the current job market to put up with this.

      Reply
      1. NerdyKris

        Well, I’d argue trying to fix the problem should be your first choice. Changing jobs brings a whole host of possible issues that could have been avoided by just pushing back on the work first.

        Reply
        1. ThankYouRoman

          The original comment makes it sound like they did try first :) They were told “my hands are tied…” and the response was then to get ready to press the eject button.

          Idk if you mean you should try harder to fix it? Some things are perma broken until the trouble person is removed.

          Reply
          1. NerdyKris

            I mean they should try the suggestions Allison gave in the podcast. It’s not clear what was said when the issue was brought up. Does the boss know the caller was covering for this other person, is it impacting their work or do they have the bandwith, etc.

            Richard’s suggestion to me came off as being preemptive. There is a reason to try to fix things if they can be fixed, because moving jobs doesn’t always make things better. And it’s not clear that everything has been tried yet.

            Reply
    2. DarlaMushrooms

      I’ve run into it a few times. It really just means “I don’t like conflict.” I was hired once to fill in the gaps of a CEO’s exec. assistant’s work b/c the CEO was too chicken to just fire the woman. I would have turned the position down if I had known what the situation was.

      Reply
      1. TardyTardis

        I had a co-worker who thought she was hired to be my supervisor (and have me take over most of her actual work) and nearly had my real supervisor sucked into it–till the co-worker went one step too far and the boss’s boss called a halt to it. But if that hadn’t happened, then I would have ended up out of there (and the co-worker would have had to take over her own work *and* my work, which would have almost been worth it).

        Reply
  4. Remarkable Garlic

    For some reason, never thought to check if this was on Spotify. Now I’ve got a backlog of episodes to listen to while I fly home for Thanksgiving and Christmas! Thanks Alison.

    Reply
  5. Nerdgal

    Loved the answer to #3 about how we dont all need to be in our dream job or feel guilty because we aren’t. I think realizing this would help a lot of people.

    Reply
    1. Shelby Drink the Juice

      Yes! I’m not in my dream job. That would be getting paid to Netflix & Hulu all day at home with my kitties. BUT I like what I do, I like the company, I’m treated well, etc.

      Reply
      1. JulieCanCan

        As I go through life I have come to understand that a dream job is basically: 1) driving to work and looking forward to arriving at the office, and/or 2) not experiencing the “Sunday Night Blues” and dreading Mondays because I actually enjoy at least 70% of my work week.

        When we’re young we have this image of a perfect job where we will feel 100% fulfilled on a daily basis and we’re challenged just enough to grow but not so challenged that we’re totally stressed out. One where we actually think to ourselves “Ahhhh, I’ve found it….THIS is where I’m supposed to be.” The thing is, with a few exceptions, this isn’t realistic. I now judge my job satisfaction with whether I can support myself, live life semi-comfortably, and feel useful and challenged at work while being treated with respect and as a person who is valued. There are going to be good days and bad days, and ideally the former occurs more often than the latter. The culture/environment is “healthy” and the owners/President/head executives are relatively sane and can think logically. That, to me, is a “perfect” job (but of course it’s far from perfect.)

        I really really wish I could go back in time to tell my 22-year-old stressed-out self this very valuable piece of information, because I spent my 20’s and some of my 30’s being obsessed with what I was “supposed to do with my life” instead of being happy and somewhat satisfied in jobs that were pretty sweet, looking back on them. I think that the working population would be much less anxious and miserable in general just knowing there is no dream job. That’s why I love when Alison stresses this in her advice, because it’s such an unrealistic goal. A role that sounds “perfect” in description means absolutely nothing – there are hundreds of variables that come into play in any job, and a “dream” job is not a thing.

        I just wish it didn’t take me 20+ years to figure this out.

        Reply
  6. The Doctor

    #1…

    Stick to doing YOUR OWN work. When you’re given her work, prioritize it last.

    Meanwhile, start the job search. If the company’s sole mission is to avoid hurting one employee’s feeling, it deserves to lose its top talent and ultimately fail.

    Reply
    1. AdAgencyChick

      Yup. Even if you have the convo with your boss and you get told “you need to do it all,” do what you can reasonably do in a normal workweek, and don’t stay late to do her work. If you get called on it, “I would have needed to work 50 hours last week to get that done on top of my projects, so I couldn’t get to it. Would you like to prioritize things differently moving forward?”

      Reply
  7. Kelly AF

    Last LW, can you do some soul-searching about what, specifically, is so fulfilling about being a librarian? Is it helping the public? Being a guardian of knowledge? (That phrase seems a little silly typed out, but whatever – I love books and libraries.) Is there any way you could look to find those elements in another career, or even volunteer work? At a local public school library? I’m not saying it will be the same thing, of course, but maybe it will help.

    Reply
  8. former librarian

    Wow…I can’t believe I’m not the caller in this one. My heart goes out to this person. I left the field after NINE unsuccessful interviews last year (public libraries).

    I like Allison’s response to this (a lot), but there is a whole host of cultural issues with the field that are unaddressed here…and, you know, it is actually very difficult to make the transition out after you have put so much into it. I understand completely the sense of loss. Being involved with my local Friends group has helped. I have also stayed involved at varying times with local ALA chapters, and I enjoy mentoring people who are also looking to GTFO of the field. The caller may also be interested in knowing that I know people who left the field and were able to return at higher levels. I think it is possible to get management experience outside of libraries and then get back in.

    I do want to share details of my job search here as many readers are librarians. I felt much better after reading a book chapter written by a librarian with a job search with uncanny similarities to mine, and since I have commented before on another recent post from a librarian, I think it may be helpful to give some more background:

    I was TWICE been rejected from library jobs that *I used to do* in favor of people with NO library background and <2 years of professional work experience. I had presented several times at ALA about this niche topic and have an MLS…on one occasion, I got the HR director to call me back, she told me all kinds of stuff about how the hiring panel thought I had been "negative" about my old job (fascinating, given that I interviewed with the exact same presentation/affect and anecdotes at corporate jobs that paid far better, and got offers from every single one…)

    I had a high-level administrator in a library *call me to apologize* for hiring another candidate (she admitted without much prodding that the hiring manager had been intimidated by me and wanted someone "lower energy")

    Aside from these three rejections, as best I can tell, every other job has gone to someone internal, or someone who had worked previously in another system with someone on staff. The internal people were usually long-time paraprofessionals who had earned their MLS while working for the system (or who had been hired during their MLS). In many systems, you simply cannot get hired full-time unless you start out working part-time, usually making <$14/hour.

    I would recommend ACRL to the caller for networking, but my ALA involvement has obviously not paid off. Although I don't regret the MLS, since it took me from being an underemployed English major to being a happily employed corporate information professional, I certainly can't recommend public libraries as a field to anyone, and I've heard similar from folks in academic positions…this field in general seems to be full of highly insecure managers who want to supervise people who they feel superior to. (That's not unique to libraries, but it's especially offensive in public sector jobs.)

    The caller may be interested in knowing that I am very happy on a day-to-day basis and am out-earning many in academic librarianship (I'm a corporate records manager, and I was surprised at how excited I actually was about several opportunities). For anyone looking to make the switch to records management, my transition was made far easier through the Certified Records Manager credential. It is a professional certification program that I can happily endorse. I can definitely say that if I had received the last library job that I'd applied to, I would still have taken my current corporate gig.

    That said, my experience has stayed with me in a big way, and I am a little upset nearly every time I visit my local library branch. I don't know if I'm upset because I was rejected so many times (and in the three examples above, it felt highly personal), or upset because of the things my experience (which is all too common) says about the field itself, which I still feel very passionately about. It doesn't help that I have seen work produced by some of the individuals who were hired instead of me, and it's clearly inferior to work samples that I had brought to the interviews. It bothers me that people in positions of public trust are providing inferior service to their constituents by hiring clearly less competent people.

    In the cases discussed above, I feel that my ethnic background was an impediment to being hired. I hope this caller will consider filing EEO complaints, as I assume from the details that she is over 40. If her partner's job is going to keep them in their current location, and she's determined that she needs to leave the field, it won't hurt her and it will likely make things better for someone else. If a younger person who is obviously less qualified is hired for a job she applied for, I think people should be held accountable. Age discrimination is real and most people who experience it aren't in a position to complain.

    To the caller, and to anyone else reading who's in a similar position, many of my mentors in librarianship have expressed that they wish they had tried the corporate world. I wish that for them, too. For the right personality type, it's incredibly rewarding to be around other high-achieving people who are intrinsically motivated to do good work. It's a balm to the soul in a totally different way to be in a functional work environment where you are appreciated for doing good work. On a day-to-day basis, I do NOT miss working in nonprofits/academia. The caliber of my coworkers is much higher and I do find satisfaction day-to-day in learning new skills. My company (which is great) has invested in Employee Resource Groups and I find that it is very possible to make fulfilling connections through these while feeling that you are contributing to social causes (with the bonus of internal networking). It takes some of the sting out of leaving a direct service position.

    Other concrete suggestions for people who went into librarianship because it's a vocation….there are many highly skilled volunteer opportunities that utilize these same skills and scratch the same itch. I have been a volunteer tax preparer with VITA and I am a volunteer now with CASA (court appointed special advocates). These are really awesome organizations that will give you face time with clients who need you. I'd love to know any other opportunities like these.

    Reply
    1. Quiltrrrr

      I have an MLS, the Certified Records Manager designation, have been a corporate Records Analyst for *13 years*, and still can’t break into being a Records Manager.

      Reply
      1. former librarian

        Yeah, I don’t love that the “transferable skills” myth about librarians is being repeated in this answer, but that’s a different rant…yes the skills transfer but the transfer itself is rarely easy…

        Records management is not an easy field to break into (although the CRM was really what made the difference for me), and I’m sorry you’re having trouble (age discrimination really is a thing – there were some jobs I would have been less competitive for if I hadn’t been young/early career). I don’t know how commenters connect with one another but I would be glad to take a look at your resume if there is a way for us to do so…

        My local ARMA chapter has helped me quite a bit but it seems like a lot of the work is in law firms. I don’t think there is much turnover in the better jobs in the field and I suspect some of it is networking. There was one job where I really ought to have gotten an interview (highly specific foreign languages called out in post) and I found out later that there was an inside connection with the selected candidate.

        I am pretty sure I got my job because it was posted as only open to internal applicants and I applied anyway (externally). The manager did not receive suitable applicants and agreed to open it to external candidates. By the time it was posted as an explicitly open recruitment, the recruiter already had a short list. I think many people didn’t apply when it was posted publicly, but specified “internal candidates only” – so I managed to sneak in.

        I have also been surprised by what I have been shortlisted for…posts that required quite a few more years of experience, that I wrote off, ended up being ones where recruiters ultimately contacted me first. Could you try expanding your search?

        Reply
    2. Tammy 2

      I am in such a similar boat! I left librarianship somewhat inadvertently–I had moved across the country to take an academic job. I didn’t like my new city and was in a search for a new position when a family situation made it necessary to resign and move home. I had three years of professional experience, which meant that I couldn’t compete for jobs requiring more experience, but new grads were getting more interest for entry level jobs.
      I fell into corporate records management, and from there into a job as a municipal clerk for local government. While I do think that I use things I learned in my MLIS program and library job in my current professional life, they are skills I could have acquired elsewhere just as easily.
      I definitely think librarianship suffers from some of the same issues other nonprofit work does–we are supposed to be so thrilled to be living the bookish, nerdy dream that we put up with all kinds of BS.

      Reply
      1. Drago Cucina

        “I definitely think librarianship suffers from some of the same issues other nonprofit work does–we are supposed to be so thrilled to be living the bookish, nerdy dream that we put up with all kinds of BS.”

        Ack yes. We just went through a big formal complaint by staff about a board member with this attitude. I rant quite often about boards and directors who want to micromanage from behind a desk, play favorites, and don’t really like very competent people. The lack of mentorship or proper management hurts my heart.

        It’s hard to advocate for libraries when we are sometimes our own worst enemies.

        Reply
    3. thankful for AAM

      Also a librarian. Loved all of what the other library folks said. There is a 2018 book called, The Dysfunctional Library. That should tell you what you need to know about libraries. More problems (bullying, weak management, lack of communication, etc) in libraries than in other workplaces in the US.

      No one mentioned working for library related vendors but that could be an option too.

      Reply
      1. anonnonaanon

        “More problems (bullying, weak management, lack of communication, etc) in libraries than in other workplaces in the US.”

        Yes! And I second Former Librarian’s point about libraries making inferior hires. I am so sick of seeing jobs going to very young, very inexperienced (and very inexpensive) people. I feel like the age discrimination thing is an open secret in library hiring these days.

        I’ve also gotten the “too negative” thing, which kind of blew my mind because in that set of interviews, when I answered questions about how my library does things, I’d get asked — literally — “Why are they doing it *that* way?” and later I was asked how I would fix the issues at my current workplace. (I remember thinking, if I knew how to fix them, would I be here on this interview?)

        I read AaM a lot and I always appreciate the posts about how not to sound negative in interviews — but I also always suspect that the statements AaM suggests or notes are honest and not negative would not fly as “not negative” in a library interview.

        Reply
        1. former librarian

          The “too negative” is obviously bullshit feedback given that I got multiple corporate offers. The one that stings the most is the inexperienced white male hire with NO library background who still makes more than I do…but who knows, maybe I’ll still get an EEO payout, I did file a complaint about that one because I was relocating and the experience soured me on ever wanting to work for that employer. I knew the folks I was interviewing with had golden handcuffs and weren’t active with ALA, so I figured I would go on the record…and they hired a few POC after I complained (usually they hire the least qualified white person in a given applicant pool), so maybe it worked?

          I bet they didn’t want to hire you because they thought you were smarter than them. Subconsciously, of course. Thanks for the book recommendation….

          Reply
    4. TardyTardis

      Guess what, the people with no library experience are likely getting paid a *lot* less than they would have to pay you. I worked for the county library and saw this happen lots of times.

      Reply
  9. Rezia

    For #3, another option: “Why do you keep commenting on my food?” You can ask in a friendly, curious tone, but then be silent and let her try to justify herself. And if she does come up with some excuse, then follow up with Alison’s script of, “Well, it bothers me so I’d appreciate if you stopped.”
    Then if it continues, say, “Why are you doing this again?”

    Reply
  10. Grouchy 2 cents

    I agree with Allison that we really need to push back against this idea that work is supposed to be all fulfilling. Especially given the current gig economy mindset. There will always be a small sector of people who absolutely love what they do and feel that they were called to it. And there will also be a lot more people who were passionate about something, opened a business and failed miserably for all kinds of reasons.

    As a society I feel like the more people think of a job as a calling, the less that position gets paid (both in money and respect). It’s total crap that’s only bolstered by the current wellness BS spewed by multi-millionaires like Gwyneth Paltrow. Yeah sure, living your passion is a whole hell of a lot easier when you can afford all the jade vagina eggs and diamond facials you want.

    Then there are all the rest of us who just want to make enough to pay our rent(or mortgage) and our debts and put something aside for retirement. There is absolutely nothing wrong with doing a job for the money. While we’re at it, there is zero wrong with demanding a living wage (or hell let’s live a little and demand more shall we?) for ourselves or others.

    Reply
    1. NerdyKris

      You can’t really refuse if it’s assigned to you. Covering for someone without the boss knowing is one thing, but if she asks and her boss wants her to do all the work while her coworker does nothing, that’s their prerogative as the manager.

      Reply
    2. ThankYouRoman

      You can refuse to do anything. It’s not a prison colony (I’m assuming).

      However, there are consequences involved that may include termination if you have a truly hair trigger tyrant boss. You can tell your boss it’ll take you X more time or is outside of your usual duties etc. Yet straight refusing is usually a way to burn bridges and a stomp on an office full of toes.

      If there’s a contract involved or union, you have more protections but unless it’s forcing you to do things outside your job description, even those won’t help much.

      Reply
    3. The New Wanderer

      Not refuse, per se, but the problem should be stated clearly. I think it’s a matter of laying out for the boss all of the work she’s being asked to do. Her own tasks A, B, and C, plus coworker’s tasks X, Y, and Z, and saying I have 40 hours/week, I can accomplish 3 or 4 of these tasks, please help me prioritize.

      The refusing comes when it’s “Sorry, you need to do all 6, no exceptions” if that’s not actually possible in the standard work week. Even then, I think it’s a “I’ll give it a shot, which ones are the least important for when I run out of time?” type of situation. (Admittedly I’ve never worked in an environment where more than 40 hours/week was expected, much less demanded, and the rare exceptions were compensated with overtime pay.)

      Reply
  11. T

    I really wish I had Alison’s script for commenter #3 when I had a toxic coworker ask if I had an eating disorder after going gluten and dairy free. I had been recently diagnosed with a stomach issue that normally gets resolved using a steroid, but I changed my diet instead and it was a huge success. It’s no one’s business what you’re eating or why, and I think the crappy comments speak volumes about the coworker and how lacking in manners they are. It was really upsetting to me as it was a serious disease, and I chose not to say anything at work because my coworkers sucked and were very toxic. I also loved the whole idea of handing the awkward right back to the person, that was brilliant.

    Reply
    1. T

      Also I meant to add this person actually works in HR? What the actual F? What she is doing is so unprofessional and mean, but I can understand being uncomfortable saying something because she does have a certain level of power being in HR. Alison’s advice was perfect for shutting her down, good luck and sorry you have to deal with this.

      Reply
    2. Quasimodo

      I had a colleague once who did not believe that I’m diabetic. While we worked together, I had some insulin-driven hiccups that led to my gaining 25 then losing 40 lbs in the space of 5 or 6 months. Dude would always drop by my cube, assure me I wasn’t fat, and leave delicious-looking desserts. It’s possible I fantasized about sticking him in the eye with my glucose meter.
      It got better – one of my colleagues pulled him aside to tell him to back off… and in that conversation learned the dude was a retired family therapist.
      It’s a real shame I can’t drink.

      Reply
      1. Recent Anon Lurker

        Quasimodo,

        I’m sorry that happened to you. I have severe allergies that cross over into the food arena (iodine and betadyne for those that are wondering). I also had people that didn’t want to believe that I was telling the truth when it came to what I couldn’t eat – until I got violently sick at work after they slipped a tiny bit of shrimp into my fried rice. I was lucky that I had just eaten two bites of rice before spotting what had been added to my plate and not ingested any shrimp (given that I missed the next two days of work being sick from transfer contact, and yes I never again trusted a single bit of food from that person for the rest of my time working there).

        Reply
        1. MM

          Oh my god. Oh my GOD! Did they at least face some kind of consequences? “Testing” people’s allergies like that can be deadly!

          Reply
          1. Recent Anon Lurker

            I wish they had gotten an official consequence (I nevermind was told of one anyways) , but this person was one of those “rainmakers” who could seemingly get away with everything and anything. But they did get an indirect consequence because at all further pot lucks nobody would touch their contribution, and would go out of their way to find out what it was that they had brought so it could be ignored.
            I know this seems scary, and I’ve had other scares in the past (this was in a fishing port that processed a ton of shellfish products), but it was the only scary incident ever in the seven years I worked there. It also led to a policy change requiring all potluck dishes to be labeled and common allergiens to be disclosed on said label. There were some other people in the office that were really grateful for that change.

            Reply
        2. WellRed

          Oh my. I don’t have an allergy, but once had to go on an iodine free diet for certain bloodwork. It was challenging to say the least. My sympathies.

          Reply
  12. trying to be an office worker

    I used to work in a pizza lace that had favoritism. One manager was rude to employees ad customers, but he never got in trouble because the owner used her recipes so he could basically get away with murder and he didn’t care. Hr husband is a delivery driver there. At one point, when I was working there, he started to be a no call no show. I had to work extra and get treated even worse than I was (which takes a lot since they treated me pretty horrible as it was) I was told I shouldn’t make plans on my day off cause I might be needed and should be available t come in at once. They didn’t care he wasn’t. It might be better for you to not work in a place that lets coworkers get away with anything like that because resentment etc will build especially if others will get trouble but she doesn’t. I try to let it go, but every once in a while, anger builds up me in me that nothing was ever done to those 2 but yet if I had done anything like that, I would be fired. It’s irritating but sometimes you have to get out if things don’t change even if they should. Good luck LW, I hope things change for you (either they make her do work, or if you decide on another job you find one right away and it’s better)

    Reply
  13. CommanderBanana

    I think when you’re in a workplace where there’s something that you know is not going to change, it helps to think about it as the price of admission for working there. I think it’s reasonable to push back on doing someone else’s work and making sure your manager is aware, but otherwise – I’d either try to reframe it as this person is just…there…, or start looking elsewhere.

    I got through my last year or so of my terrible, no-good, very bad manager by reminding myself that I loved the mission and the members of the organization where I worked. She wasn’t going anywhere, so I just looked at her as the price of admission for working there (and yes, I left).

    Reply
    1. Amy

      A related concept helps me too: the crappy parts of your job are part of your “unofficial but true job description”, particularly after efforts to reform it have failed. I can now put emotional distance between me and the job by reminding myself that to a real degree the company is paying me to perform this role just the way it is. If they wanted it to be more efficient or productive, they could help make that happen, but that’s not what they want.

      Reply
    2. MissDisplaced

      Yeah, at some point you come to realize you’ve just finally had ENOUGH and you can’t fix stupid.
      I left a job I really loved a little over a year ago due to multiple reasons (new management, headquarters move, new policies, etc.). In that case, the work was still great, but the environment changed. But sometimes, it’s the people that change or the work itself.
      What I find that sucks about this though is that it the workers like us get punished for job hopping because they are not willing to put up with it. And I find it keeps happening at more and more jobs. Especially since the 2008 recession.

      Reply
  14. AshK434

    How come there are no more original letters posted on this site anymore? Everything seeems to be a podcast or is linking to an external site (some of which are oddly blocked by my company’s network)

    Reply
    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      No more original letters??

      Today is a U.S. holiday so I wrote less content for today than normal. (There were three posts today instead of four.)

      Of my 18-19 posts each week, three are links to my pieces on outside sites. That’s been the case for years and has not changed.

      What has changed is that of the remaining 15-16 posts, two are podcasts.

      That leaves 13-14 posts each week that are regular, written Q&A of fresh content. That actually seems like a lot to me, for a one-person site. When you factor in that one post each day is a multi-question short-answer post, I’m answering 33 new letters here every week.

      Reply
      1. Zona the Great

        It is a lot. Especially considering how long it’s taken to clean my floors today. You’re a GD badass and I appreciate all you do.

        Reply
    2. CastIrony

      It may feel that way because there’s a pattern to what the letters are asking for, especially if you have been reading Ask a Manager for a long time. Usually, I find that the answer is to either confront management or above them, confront the co-worker, decide if the person with the issue is willing to stay in their job in the present toxic conditions, or start looking for a different job right away while you are still employed.

      That being said, there’s lots of original answers out there that go outside this pattern, and people who write in need some specific advice for their particular situation. In short, as I once heard on a Buzzfeed video, “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes.”

      Reply
    3. ThankYouRoman

      It’s a business. Alison is a content provider for other websites. Linking to their sites is how revenue is generated. She’s still providing articles, it’s not her fault you’re on a network that has a strong filter. She cannot just straight cross-post, that defeats the purpose of Slate and other sites posting her material.

      You know she’s not just a Good Samaritan, giving out advice for fuzzy feels and cats. She has a business going on here and AAM is much more than a cool blog.

      I’m not thrilled with podcasts at all, I don’t even listen to my friends or partner’s. But they’re popular AF and a form of media many subscribe to. The more media outlets, the more cash.

      Reply
        1. ThankYouRoman

          Yeah if they were taking over, I would scowl in Alison’s general direction. I find I can join in the comments anyways, since it’s not like we’re recording comments…God help me if we turn the internet into a video chat room kind of thing.

          Reply
          1. Tina Too Too Much

            I think there are too many podcasts. I agree that it is wrong to say there is no more original content but there is not as much as there used to be and I find that very distracting.

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            1. Ask a Manager Post author

              For what it’s worth, there are still three posts a day that are brand new, written content (except Fridays, when I give myself a break). Then on top of that, two posts a week are podcasts. I suspect that if I didn’t do the podcasts and also didn’t fill that spot with written posts (meaning two fewer posts a week but no audio content), it wouldn’t stand out to you as less because it would still be a hell of a lot of written content. The podcast posts are making some non-podcast-listeners feel like “this is a spot where written content could be but isn’t,” in a way that simply having nothing there wouldn’t.

              In fact, for years I did only one or two posts a day (or less), so this is still significantly more new, written content than for the vast majority of site’s life.

              That said, you’re of course entitled not to like what I do or don’t post here! I just wanted to point out there is still a ton of new, written content every week. Answering 33 new letters a week seems like a large amount to me.

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              1. JulieCanCan

                Honestly Alison, sometimes I think about how much you do and all you accomplish – in life, in your job, with this site, reading the hundreds of books you read (amazing BTW), and it makes me anxious on your behalf. Seriously, I wonder how the hell you do it and it makes me feel so lazy when I start to compare what you do in a week vs. the sad amount of work I do weekly. I am probably one-fiftieth (1/50th) as productive as you and I’m always tired and feeling like I have no time to do anything. I really don’t understand it, unless you don’t sleep. But you’re very well spoken and concise, and certainly don’t sound like a person who is severely lacking sleep.

                I’ve pondered this for ages but right now seems appropriate to voice my thoughts. For the record, I’m lucky if I get 4 pages of a book read per night, and I usually have to re-read them again the next night because I was so tired when I read them the first time that I have no recollection of what they were about.

                I don’t understand how you do it all. You’re an enigma wrapped in a riddle snuggled up in a mystery.

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                1. Ask a Manager Post author

                  Well … I feel like I can’t let that very kind comment stand without confessing that I am in fact really over-scheduled and stressed out by my workload and have been for a while now. I’m actually actively looking for things to cut, but feel like I’ve cut everything that I’m willing to cut (or where I’m not contractually obligated to continue for some period of time) … but still need to cut more to make it a manageable quantity. I get one weekend day off every four weeks, or every three weeks if I’m lucky (meaning I’m working through the weekends most of the time). I am exhausted much of the time. It is a huge quality of life problem, and one that I’m trying to figure out how to solve. (And have been trying to figure out how to solve to one degree or another for years now, but it’s worse right now than it’s been before.)

                  That’s probably an over-share and possibly whiny, but I would never want anyone to look at what I’m doing and feel lazy in comparison. My biggest goal right now is to figure out how to change it!

                2. Ask a Manager Post author

                  Ugh, I read over what I just wrote and it feels so whiny! I really don’t mean it to be. The thing about feeling lazy by comparison hit me hard — I would never want anyone to feel that way.

                3. kiwimusume

                  Out of nesting, but that’s not whiny at all! I hope you end up with a less exhausting schedule in the end. <3

                4. Anna

                  That is not whiney at all, it is simply honest. Actually it reads like something one of your letter writers might ask…

                  In a weird way, it’s reassuring to read that someone like you, who is doing so many things, actually spends an inordinate amount of time and effort to accomplish all of it. It means that you’re not a superwoman, but still human, and that some of us might be able to accomplish the same if we were prepared to spend similarly inordinate amounts of time and effort.

                  I hope you find a way to reduce the time and effort you’re spending. It’s not good to be stressed out and overworked. The most obvious thing to cut down on would be this website – I don’t know any other one-person blog that has multiple posts per day, two a week would also be very nice.

                5. ThankYouRoman

                  You cannot compare yourself to others and tie your self worth to other’s accomplishments.

                  Alison unveiled and admitted she’s stretched too thin. I admire that honesty.

                  However as someone who thrives on being busy and “over worked” it’s not something others should hold themselves up to.

                  I know people who are now millionaires because they were devoted to building empires. Their success doesn’t mean I’m less awesome for enjoying the comforts of working directly with them instead of striving to be them, you know?

                  Success is a fluid concept. What matters is you do what’s right for you. Not what’s right for Alison or anyone else.

                1. Ask a Manager Post author

                  Oh yeah — that’s actually way MORE content than what was there pre-podcast, actually, because the transcripts are much longer than a normal post.

                2. Elaine

                  I too am in a position where I can’t listen to the podcasts. Is it really so hard to wait a few days for the transcript? Of course not! I’m grateful for all of the information provided, and I’ve been wondering for some time how on earth Alison does it all. I wouldn’t dream of kicking if the content were reduced. Alison doesn’t owe us free anything.

              2. JulieCanCan

                That response is SO not whiny – frankly it makes so much sense and answers many of the questions I’ve thought about pretty consistently since discovering this site and reading about you and all you do. It means you’re human. You never ever talk about how much you do, and I bet most of your readers don’t have a full understanding of the breadth of your life’s work and commitments.

                Please don’t get to a breaking point where you’re so overwhelmed that you have to stop everything except your job-job. That would really suck (selfishly, for me and for every single person here I’m sure). But girl, how anyone could keep up at the rate you’re going is mind blowing; no mortal being is made to function at that capacity. You never complain or even discuss the insane pace you’ve maintained, which I think leads people to believe it’s easy breezy, no stress whatsoever for you. But barring superwoman powers, no one can continue at the rate you’re going.

                Seriously – take care of yourself first and foremost. PLEASE! Even if it means a month of revisiting old posts from your days as a brand new AAM advisor. We’d all rather that than for you to spontaneously combust and not have you and AAM in our lives. Take a vacation – go somewhere – stay home – do nothing – do something- just do what you want and take time to take care of yourself. Easier said than done I’m sure, but it can be done and you need to think about it. You always say, companies continue to function even when an important person leaves for a while.

                : )

                We need you, kid!

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                1. ECHM

                  Yes! I wait to take my lunch break until the AAM email comes in each day! Please do what you need to do to take care of yourself so you can keep going (even at a slower pace)!

              3. Lady Ariel Ponyweather

                That’s not whiny at all. You’re doing a huge amount of work. I’m so grateful for this blog and appreciative of all you do. This is meant in the nicest way, and not in a patronising manner, so please forgive me if it comes out wrong. Please, please take care of yourself. I lost my health and it’s taking years to get it back. The healthcare system does not value women or their health. It’s up to us to take care of ourselves. Put your health first, always. If it’s hard, maybe imagine a friend or someone writing in with your exact situation: what would you say to them? (Maybe it’s worth having an Ask the Readers for yourself and seeing what suggestions people have for you!)

                You deserve to rest and have earned a rest. I know that many people have felt so much better about the workplace, applying for jobs, dealing with people, etc, just from reading this site. You’ve given a huge amount to the world. You deserve to be well-rested and happy, just like anyone else. I hope you can find a solution soon!

                Reply
              4. Cafe au Lait

                Oh my, that sounds exhausting reading what you do.

                I have a suggestion, if you like to keep reading:

                Would it be possible to hire a moderator? I have a feeling that you spend a lot of time moderating comments. Having someone take that over would give you time back.

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              5. Barb

                Complaining on a website like this is completely ridiculous. I don’t think this is reasonable or helpful; if anything, it does drain Alison’s energy. Everyone has different preferences, but at the end of the day, there’s a lot of content that everyone should be thankful for.

                Alison, I don’t think it’s beneficial to listen to these sorts of comments. People will take, take, take, it’ll never be enough, and you can never please anyone. This site is amazing!

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    4. Kittymommy

      Umm, the very first post today (and most every weekday) are five questions from letter writers. Sure, podcasts are now rotated with material that would have likely been written posts, and while I don’t listen to all the podcasts (just not always possible at work), many do and it seems like more questions are answered as well.

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    5. Vic tower

      Wow, that’s really not the case. I get it, my favourite is definitely to read the letters on this site, but as an addicted follower (first thing in the morning, last thing at night) I’m just glad about the generous volume of posts we do get!

      Reply
  15. saintarctica

    Hi, Alison, I love your site and podcast and I’m an avid reader! I wanted to let you know one piece about today’s podcast that was troubling to me – when you mentioned that all of the callers were women and wanted to make sure that men knew they could write in, too. As a non-binary person, it is always upsetting to me when people assume they know someone’s gender just from hearing their voice, and also when people explicitly name only two genders. I don’t remember that any of the callers identified themselves as women, so we don’t know if they were or not. Could you refrain in the future from identifying people’s gender just based on their voices?

    Reply
    1. Barb

      The phone call isn’t Alison’s only interaction with these people. Why do you assume she doesn’t know the gender of the people she’s talking to? She knows more than we do, and it makes sense to give her the benefit of the doubt.

      Reply
  16. somebody blonde

    Alison, I don’t think you should worry about getting so many calls/letters from women. I’m pretty sure that Dan Savage is the only advice columnist who gets much in the way of questions from men.

    Reply

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