employee missed work after birthday drinking, interviewer hung up on me, and more

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

1. Employee missed work because of birthday drinking

An employee I manage called out today due to being hospitalized over the weekend for alcohol poisoning. The employee went out to celebrate their birthday over the weekend and overdid it on the partying. I realize this is out of work conduct; however, it is affecting the employee’s job because they called in to work. Do I have a leg to stand on if I have a serious conversation with the employee about their judgment and how this type of behavior could negatively effect their employment with our company?

If it just happened once, leave it alone. People are human and make mistakes, and until there’s evidence that this is part of a pattern, there’s no reason to assume that this person hasn’t learned their lesson (or even that there’s more to the story that you don’t know). I mean, the person ended up hospitalized. They probably realize it’s a big deal.

When someone makes a mistake and it’s clear to them that it’s a mistake and they’re already set on not repeating it in the future, there’s no need to lecture them about it. (The exception to this would be if the work day they missed as a result was particularly crucial – – like if they were supposed to be presenting at an important client meeting that day, in which case, yes, a serious conversation would be warranted.)

2. Can I record work meetings to help with my ADHD?

Your blog has been super helpful to me throughout the years and your interview advice helped me land a great job after college! I have been in this job for almost a year now but there is something that is bothering me. I have diagnosed ADD and it sometimes affects my recall/memory. In high school and college, with permission from teachers and approved accommodations, I would record my classes while taking notes, and I could listen to the recording to make sure I did not forget to write something down. I was wondering if it would be okay for me to ask if I could do something similar in group meetings? I actively take notes but sometimes I don’t write fast enough or stop to listen more closely to a colleague and miss some stuff. Generally in classes I just set my iPhone to airplane mode and then clicked record so it was very discreet, but I’m not sure if even asking for this would make me look unprofessional or if it’s just not a thing that can be asked for the workplace.

There’s a much higher barrier to asking to record at work. People often don’t want work conversations recorded for a variety of meetings, and simply the act of recording can change what people are willing to say. (I don’t mean that otherwise they’d be freely making illegally discriminatory comments and such; I just mean that recording can inhibit people’s willingness to speak as candidly as they otherwise would about clients, projects, etc. It can even inhibit things like brainstorming, if people are nervous about having a potentially silly idea captured forever.) Your manager also may worry that if you’re playing back meetings afterwards to make sure you didn’t miss anything, you’re doubling the amount of time you spend in meetings.

I’d explore other options instead, if possible.

3. Interviewer kept asking why I wanted to work there, then hung up on me

I just had a phone interview for a position recommended to me by a friend who already works with the company. The woman on the phone asked, “Why do you want to work here?” I explained that I was interested in the type of work they do, and that I was interested to find a position that used my skills in the field, it seemed like a great opportunity, etc.

She said, “No, why do you want to work here?” I was confused, but I rerouted and told her I knew someone with the company who was really happy there, and that I was interested in a company with a positive work culture and a focus on teamwork and collaboration, etc.

She said, “No. Why do you want to work here?” I paused, completely at a loss, and then she said, “Hello?” and then hung up on me.

My questions are:
1. What gives?
2. How am I supposed to answer this question if both of these answers were wrong?

She’s a jerk. You gave a completely normal answer to her question, and if she wanted something different, she should have been more specific in her wording. Repeating the same question three times with zero variation is wording is a jerk move — it was clear you weren’t taking from the question what she apparently wanted, so she should have reworded it.

Also, insisting on a more nuanced answer to just a general question is eye-rolly. You’re at the phone interview stage, which means you’re early in the process. It’s really unlikely that you know enough at this stage to give more than a general answer. And frankly, you probably don’t know enough this early on to know if you really do want to work there at all.

And then she hung up on you, as the cherry on her snotty little sundae.

She’s a jerk. Let your friend who works there know what happened.

4. How can I admit defeat on a challenging project?

A few months ago, I volunteered for a project at work that I thought would be relatively simple. As it turns out, it’s not simple. It requires a degree of technical knowledge that I don’t have (and that I never claimed to have), and is a more sprawling project with more factors involved than were initially represented to me. I’ve done what I can to get myself up to speed on the work, including asking coworkers with more expertise for help and attending a training that ended up covering very little of what I needed to know. I’ve been told that others have completed similar projects by “just googling a bunch of stuff” (their words) and have the impression that my coworkers think the job should be easy. I’m starting to worry — and I know that this sounds silly and self-pitying — that I’m just not smart enough to do this. I’m also struggling to get the rest of my work done because I’ve had to spend so much time on one project.

I know I’m at the point where I need to ask to be taken off the project, but I want to do so without giving any of my coworkers or my manager the impression that I’m lazy, unskilled, or unintelligent. One coworker in particular is hard to please and has been critical of my abilities and time management both in conversation with me and with others while I wasn’t there (I’ve heard about these incidences secondhand). She’s in a more senior (team lead) role above me, and I’m concerned that getting even more on her bad side will have negative repercussions for me. I feel like I can’t win at this point — either I have to keep working on a project that I just can’t do well and that I dislike working on, or I hurt my professional credibility.

First, are you sure that you’re envisioning the same end results as your manager is? It’s possible that she’s envisioning a much more basic version of the work, so if you haven’t already talked that through with her, do that first. (For example, you’re thinking you have to hand-code an entire website from scratch, and she’s thinking you’ll throw up a single WordPress page and be done with it.)

But if you’re sure that’s not the case, are you able to pinpoint the type of technical knowledge that’s needed for the work (and that you don’t have) and the additional factors that make this more complex that it seemed at the start? Get really clear on those things and then say something like this to your manager: “I’ve been really digging into the X project to figure out what it’ll take to do it well. I’ve done a lot of research on my own, talked to people with more expertise, and attending a training on X. It’s more complex than it initially looked because of (factors) and as I’ve dug in, I’ve realized that we need someone with real expertise in Y to achieve what we want to achieve with this. At this point I’m confident that I’m not the right person to spearhead it, and I think we need to transition it to someone with expertise in ____.” (If you have suggestions on who that could be, insert them here. That could mean contracting with an outside vendor if you think that’s the right approach.)

There’s no guarantee here that your critical coworker won’t blame you for this, but if the choices are doing a poor job on a project or being up-front that you’re not well suited for it, go with the latter. (It also helps that you volunteered for this, rather than it being assigned to you. You could still take this approach if it had been assigned, but it makes it easier that it wasn’t.)

5. What’s up with this terrible assessment test?
I came across this while applying for a second job. The full options list:
I’m OK
I’m pretty good
I’m terrible
I’m-the-bomb . com
Yeah that’s me!

Where Is “I’m the bomb” on this “scale”? I *think* it is meant as a strong positive–but being right below Terrible, I am not so sure. These are for things like Hospitality, Teamwork, etc.

Is this just weird, (meant to be) cool-sounding, and/or “useless tool for folks who don’t know how to hire”?

Useless tool for folks who don’t know how to hire.

Self-assessments are notoriously inaccurate. Everyone has a different idea of what “okay” versus “pretty good” means, and loads of people think they’re great at Skill X when they’re not. That’s before we even get into “I’m the bomb” on this scale (with the trying-way-too-hard .com).

Read an update to this letter here.

{ 752 comments… read them below }

    1. Ye old*

      The options reminds me of those joke surveys who options are “yes” “heck yes” and “definitely yes”

      1. Not Rebee*

        It’s like the Instagram polls where sometimes the choices are “yes” and “yes, in blue”

    2. CatCat*

      It’s so dumb and amazing.

      I’m definitely going to see if I can deploy this phrase in my life this week.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        “What?! Look, somebody’s got to have some damn perspective around here. Boom. Sooner or later. BOOM! ”
        -Lt.Cmdr. Susan Ivanova, Babylon 5

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

        But first you have to print out and fax in the application.

    3. CJ Record*

      As someone who’s about to teach a class on topics that include how to poll people, that set of answers pains me on so many levels. So many. Seeing that the choices are in alpha order, I bet it wasn’t intentional, but that someone wasn’t familiar with the layout tools setting up the form. But still. This is why you hire professionals for your people-facing content!

      1. Sally*

        And if you can’t figure out the software, at least add numbers to the left of the answer options so they’re in the order you want!

        So true about self-assessment. When I was applying to my 2nd technical training job, I said that I was expert in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint – because I was teaching all of our classes in those topics. I got the job, but I soon found out that the new company covered many more topics per class, and there were quite a few advanced topics that I was not familiar with.

      2. Artemesia*

        Poll layout 101, the choices are in order, which then makes the bomb one, while stupid, intelligible. They would be better off with one of those primary school surveys that uses smiley and sad faces.

          1. Jerusha*

            I understood Artemesia to be saying that Poll Layout 101 would require x, a minimal standard which the poll author has clearly failed to meet.

            I wonder if there’s Poll Layout 050?

        1. Budgie Lover*

          Exactly what I thought. Never have your choices out of order! People don’t read it, answer incorrectly, and there goes your data.

      3. KitKat100000*

        “Where Is “I’m the bomb” on this “scale”? I *think* it is meant as a strong positive–but being right below Terrible, I am not so sure.”

        Yes – looks like they are in alphabetical order, which makes this rather confusing for the individual applicant!

      4. Doc in a Box*

        Not to mention, any Likert scale where the “right answer” is obvious like this, is just a waste of time. Why would any job-seeker say that they are “terrible” at hygiene, timeliness, or teamwork? I guess if you are looking for a hermit who doesn’t shower and works when inspired.

        1. Ozma the Grouch*

          I was just looking to see if anyone pointed out that they are alphabetized. This isn’t just a bad HR test, it’s lazy coding.

      1. AKchic*

        Depends on the kind of bomb. Are we discussing stinkers, verbal/emotional, happy, glitter, exploding, baby, good news, bad news, food, or cute cuddly critter?

    4. Double A*

      This poll made me cackle so I’m grateful to whoever made it. It’s bad on so many levels it’s really pretty impressive.

    5. bluephone*

      Like one-way video “interviews” (aka the candidate stares into a webcam and films themselves answering canned, generic questions for 30 minutes) that replacing screener phone calls, this is a terrible idea that’s just going to tick off good candidates.

  1. Temperance*

    LW1: your employee probably won’t do this again. If they do, then you can have a conversation. Look at it this way: yes, the alcohol poisoning was totally preventable and a stupid mistake, but so are most random injuries.

      1. Les G*

        Eh, don’t you think that’s a bit harsh? All the OP has done is write in anonymously to an advice column about a potentially awkward situation.

        1. Not Australian*

          Totally agreed. A good manager should be prepared for all eventualities, even if the preparation turns out not to be needed. Better that than being blindsided by a situation you don’t know how to handle.

      2. Lilo*

        I dealt with a coworker who missed work or was hungover/tired at work a lot and it was horribly disruptive (we were retail so always getting someone to cover). It can be really tough to deal with someone who, yes, is sick but is sick due to a self inflicted issue. She eventually got fired (it wasn’t her only issue).

        I do agree if this is a one off, let it go. But if this person allows partying to affect their work, it is the manager’s job to address it. Otherwise coworkers are going to get frustrated and pretty fast.

        1. mcr-red*

          I was circling back to say something exactly like this! I have chronic pain issues, and there are way too many days in my life that I have to force myself to get out of bed and go to work in pain because NO COVERAGE. I also at one time worked with another chronic pain sufferer, and The Stoner who was always off on Mondays. Always. Burnt through his PTO and started taking unpaid days. I know employees do get sick of people always being off and quickly get resentful. When it’s something like illness/chronic pain, they may be less annoyed (but still annoyed) but when it’s something you can help/prevent, they get high levels of resentful.

          Ask me how I felt about being in extreme pain and being at work while Stoner was off on Monday because he overdid it on the weekend.

          1. Amber Rose*

            I always rationalize it as, I’m gonna be in pain anyways, might as well get paid.

            But I definitely feel a bit salty about people who call off for the smallest things, or who just don’t show up without a word to anyone.

            1. mcr-red*

              “I always rationalize it as, I’m gonna be in pain anyways, might as well get paid.”

              Me too. I honestly don’t call off a lot for that very reason. But when I’m hurting and like, Stoner has been off on Monday nursing his hangover du jour…grrrrrrr.

            2. Jadelyn*

              Same, back in the days before I had sick leave to use. I could either be in pain at work and getting paid, or in pain at home and not getting paid. I’m still gonna be hurting either way.

              Now, I’m fortunate enough to have plenty of sick leave (and vacation I can tap into if I burn through the sick leave) – but man, do I remember that shitty calculation well.

        2. ZK*

          Many, many moons ago, before I was even legally allowed to drink, I had to call in sick to my first (fast food) job, and my manger knew darned well I had “bottle flu,” and not just the stomach flu, since everyone at work knew about the party I was throwing. He a. liked me and b. was used to dealing with unreliable teens, so he gave me a break.

          I also came darned close to accidentally killing myself with alcohol the night before. If it wasn’t for a good friend babysitting me that night, who knows. I was sick for days after. I did learn my lesson that time, and rarely drink now, so there’s hope for this employee. (PSA: Parents, leaving your high school aged daughter home alone during Spring Break, probably not the best idea!)

          1. delta cat*

            I had something more or less the opposite happen at my first part-time job. On the night of the company holiday party, I started feeling a bit sick. I woke up the next morning with a raging fever. When I called in sick to work, they assumed I was hung over and told me that I had to arrange my own coverage, even though that was not our usual policy. I managed to convince them that I was actually sick with something nasty and contagious and they eventually agreed to find coverage for me, but I’m sure it was difficult, since a lot of the people not scheduled to work that day probably *were* hung over.

            It helped that I was only 17, and had a reputation for being a real goody two-shoes.

            1. Mona Lisa*

              This happened to me at my college retail job! I unfortunately came down with the flu on New Year’s Day, and when I had to call out, my manager reacted with a, “Uh-huh. Suuuuuure. It’s actually the flu, huh?” I countered by giving way too many details about what exactly was happening. I think the fact that I ended up calling out for an entire week after that eventually drove home the point that I was really sick and not “sick.” (I should add that I had never called out from that job before and had worked there for over a year. I would hope she’d have taken me at my word!)

              1. RUKidding*

                My son got the flu on New Year’s day once.

                He hadn’t been out because he said, “nah I’m not feeling up to it.” A vlue msybe?

                He had turned 21 that June so it would have been his first *legal* NYE. He called in sick. They fired him.

                It was only Taco Bell but still… Fortunately he didnt *need* the job but so many others might have and still gotten fired for having the nerve to get sick at the wrong time.

              2. Marion Ravenwood*

                Something similar happened to me as a teenager when I worked on a supermarket checkout. I went out for a meal with my family on 23rd December, got food poisoning, and called in sick to work the next day. It wasn’t that unusual for people to fake an illness to get out of work on Christmas Eve at that place, so initially they thought I was lying. It was only when I had to run to the bathroom mid-call to throw up that they actually got the message. (Also Christmas with food poisoning was not fun!)

      3. Enid*

        It depends a bit on how the news was delivered / how seriously it was being taken. At least they didn’t lie. But they are an adult with a job and need to be reliable. (Funnily enough this comment is brought to you after my own birthday drinking – and I’m on my way into work.)

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I wondered if the manager (or higher up) adamantly insists on a reason for any missed work? Otherwise, as with photographing the contents of the toilet bowl as “evidence”, this seems like a time to be “under the weather, but I should be in Wednesday.”

          From this distance I can’t tell whether it’s “Ha ha yeah dude I’m in the hospital with alcohol poisoning! My b-day!!” or “As part of my recovery program they stress honesty and no excuses, so here’s the real reason I’m missing work.”

      4. Scarlet*

        Yeah, agreed. The tone I get from the letter sounds a bit “parent who needs to have a conversation with an unruly teenager”. Unless it’s already happened before, I don’t see why calling out sick one day should “negatively affect their employment”. If the employee had caught gastroenteritis, the work impact would have been the same.
        Now to be honest, if I were the employee, I wouldn’t give my boss all this extra information about alcohol poisoning and partying too much. (Of course, it’s also possible that boss was pressing for details, I don’t know)

        1. AdAgencyChick*

          Agree. Just “I was hospitalized over the weekend, I don’t expect to be here more than a day.” Then dodge any questions about what the illness was.

          1. wittyrepartee*

            Yup. This. The employee’s concern might have been that the boss would guess anyway due to them not having a cast, and the timing though?

            1. Scarlet*

              Well, people can be hospitalized for a whole lot of reasons that don’t require a cast… As far as the timing is concerned, accidents can happen anytime, including on your birthday weekend.

              1. Marion Ravenwood*

                Yep. Case in point: last year I went on holiday with a friend of mine for her 30th birthday, and she broke her leg on the first day of the trip. We ended up spending the day of her actual birthday in a hospital room in Rome. Not ideal but at least it makes for a good story now I suppose…

        2. It's a Doughnut morning*

          I’m going with if you give your boss that kind of information you are asking to be talked to about your drinking.

        3. anon for this*

          The thing though is that alcohol poisoning means the employee was drinking A LOT. Very far past the legal limit and way past what most adults do. That’s a big enough (poor) decision that I’m not blaming the OP for being taken aback. This isn’t like getting food poisoning from bad sushi. You have to really work to get that level of drunk and that is definitely a reflection on judgment.

          It could be a one off truly terrible decision. But it could also indicate a drinking problem.

          I have a very very close loved one who has a drinking problem. (Currently 3 months sober, but still not 100% committed to it.) That person has shown up for work extremely hung over and generally hides it. I’m sure his bosses have never noticed that he was drunk — but he is a lot more moody, far less productive than he’s capable of, and forgetful. If you didn’t know what he could do, you wouldn’t realize how much of an affect drinking has on his actions or his work quality, but it’s there.

          It’s worth at least considering that there are other impacts on this person’s performance that just haven’t been as obvious.

          1. Observer*

            To be fair, there is only a ‘legal limit’ if they were going to operate a motor vehicle after drinking and there is no implication that happened here.

            1. anon for this*

              Legal limit is usually hit by about 3 drinks in 2 hours or 2 drinks in 1 hour. More for large men, less for smaller women, but that’s about it. That’s to get to .08. I bring it up because a typical dinner, you’re going to only do 1 drink an hour or so, plus food, so most people don’t get near the legal limit on a normal night. Assuming a party, you may do more, but that just puts you around the legal limit (especially since your BAC drops over time and as you eat, unless you’re just really chugging.) Depending on size, alcohol poisoning could begin at twice that (.16) but usually becomes an issue around .24.

              Basically, you only get there by binge drinking and continuing to drink over hours. That is definitely a judgment issue. There’s a reason that binge drinking is almost exclusively done by college student and not so much adults — it’s a really bad choice.

              1. Anna*

                But it only applies if you intend to drive. That’s Obersver’s point. If you do that at home and never leave, then a “legal limit” has no application to you because there’s no reason to set that limit. It’s only a yardstick used to determine if you should be driving/biking/riding a scooter or not.

                I’d also add that once is an isolated occurrence and doesn’t indicate anything other than the employee made a poor choice. That’s it. It doesn’t indicate a possible drinking problem.

              2. M&Ms fix lots of Problems*

                I just want to add that calculation assumes the legal limit is .08. There was another post a while back that brought this up, but there are starting to be more places where the legal limit is lower. For example now in Utah the legal limit is .05. There are also some Canadian provinces where there are graduated legal limits.

      5. Engineer Girl*

        It was alchohol poisoning, which is a step up from hungover and not functioning well. That’s a huge level of drunk and a reasonable cause for concern.

        1. Ceiswyn*

          It’s a matter for personal concern, yes. But the manager has absolutely no standing to act like a worried parent/partner/friend about a single example of poor judgement, even dangerously poor judgement, in the employee’s personal life.

          Now, if the employee does it again, and it interferes with work again, that’s a different matter. But Alison already said that.

          1. Ceiswyn*

            (Commented before I read LW1’s comment below. I still stand by the above if it actually had been the first time anything like that had occurred; but since it’s not, and it is interfering with work, the manager absolutely has standing to Have Words.)

        2. wittyrepartee*

          Yes, but it also tends to be a once in a lifetime occurrence. I know a number of people who have pretty healthy relationships (as in, sometimes drink socially but it’s less than weekly) with alcohol that grossly miscalculated one night and either ended up in the hospital or probably should have been hospitalized.

          1. Labradoodle Daddy*

            Yeah, I’m not a heavy drinker so I’ve definitely wildly miscalculated before while drinking.

        3. Susie Q*

          Would you feel the same way if your employee caused a car accident and ended up in the hospital?

          Or what about someone who smoked all their life and ended up with lung cancer?

          Or an employee who did a stupid daredevil stunt, broke a leg, and ended up in a hospital?

          1. Anna*

            Except literally none of these things happened and whataboutism is not normally a valid way to function in a the adult working world.

            1. Susie Q*

              Calling some whataboutism is just a good way to avoid thinking about other scenarios and how one decision can impact the outcomes in similar scenarios. And it is something commonly done on this website. For example, some of the advice on here to people with mental health issues, would you do the same thing to someone with cancer, etc.?

              Managers have to think through how THEIR actions will impact their employees in various scenarios. The odds of another employee being in this exact scenario are low but higher in a similar scenario. Employees will interpret a manager’s reaction to one scenario and try to figure out if the reaction would be the same in a similar scenario. It wouldn’t surprise me that if this employee got in trouble for calling in sick due to alcohol poisoning, other employees would interpret this as getting in trouble for calling in sick no matter what the reason.

              I’ve been through something similar as a manager. This is part of being a good manager. Consequences to one employee will typically impact others.

            1. Politico*

              Fully agree with General Ginger. And guess what: many legitimate recreational activities qualify as “daredevil stunts” to some (hang-gliding, rock-climbing, advanced downhill skiing, etc.) It is none of an employer’s business if an employee pursues such hobbies.

          2. Parenthetically*

            We can all tell you how we feel about those dubiously-parallel scenarios if they ever arise.

            Meanwhile, it’s more helpful to LW1 to stick to the facts in evidence.

          3. RUKidding*

            Yes because it’s their personal life. How/if it affects their work is the manager’s only concern.

      6. Bagpuss*

        I don’t think it is pearl-clutching to ask for advice. And being hospitalised for alcohol poisoning is pretty serious, it isn’t as though the situation was that the employee called in sick and the manager suspected it was due to a hangover.
        Also, she presumably knows their employer – if this is something which would jeopardise their employment it is valid for the manager to look at raising it with them.

      7. MusicWithRocksInIt*

        Yea – In general I feel like if you miss work because you were *in the hospital* (or recently discharged from the hospital) it is not something your work should have a conversation with you about. Even if it was your fault you were hospitalized, that is a pretty big lesson already. If the person was hospitalized for showing bad judgement in another way, like trying to ski a black diamond slope for the first time when you only started skiing last month, no one at work needs to call you out on that – lesson should be learned.

        Unless, of course, there is already significant evidence that person is an alcoholic – but I feel like if there were it should have been mentioned. Missing work often due to drinking and once due to being hospitalized are totally different things.

      8. LW1*

        Nah, just kidding. Honestly I appreciate the comments saying I’m being overboard as well because I was genuinely unsure. If I’m being perfectly honest for a minute, as a a human I am a little judgy about it. But just because me with my person hat has a “really?” response to this story doesn’t mean me as my manager hat should make it an issue. I realize that. As I am reading all the comments now I am thinking we need to have a conversation about reliability in general but without moralizing, which would be inappropriate.

        1. LW1*

          Oops, responded to this on my phone using the side eye emoji at the top, hence the nah just kidding. Doesn’t make much sense without the emoji posting. Use your imagination! Ha.

          1. Memyselfandi*

            Yes, we all have things we can potentially be judgmental about. The important thing is to do is that independent check with yourself or someone outside. It never hurts to check.

        2. Dr. Pepper*

          Yes, this is a good approach to take. Side eye the employee in private all you like, but in practice, focus on the performance aspect. At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter WHY the employee isn’t reliable, it only matters that they aren’t reliable and that it needs to be fixed.

          Moralizing at people never gets you very far. I mean, if being hospitalized doesn’t make them rethink their choices, they’re not going to suddenly turn over a new leaf because their boss disapproves.

      9. Kathleen_A*

        It doesn’t seem at allllll pearl-clutchy to me. It sounds to me as though the manager has good reason to wonder if her employee has a serious alcohol problem, and a serious alcohol problem can (and probably will) definitely affect the employee’s job performance. I mean, think about it: How many people are actually hospitalized due to an episode of binge drinking?

        I agree with Alison’s advice that it’s premature to take action at this time because it could just be a mistake, particularly if this is a pretty young employee, or it could be that there are other factors involved here (e.g., the employee has just found out the hard way that she is more than ordinarily sensitive to alcohol). But the manager has every right to be worried, even though she probably shouldn’t take action on that worry right now. I for sure would be.

        1. Roscoe*

          The amount of people who are is very different than the amount of people who probably should be. I know many people who at one point or another probably should’ve gone to the hospital and didn’t. That doesn’t mean they are bad employees. It means they had too much fun one night.

          1. Kathleen_A*

            I didn’t say she was a bad employee. I didn’t even say she has an alcohol problem here (although from what the LW says below, it sounds as though there’s a real possibility). All I said the manager has ample reason to wonder if there’s a real problem here. This is not conclusive proof, of course, but I am pretty sure most people would find this…worrisome. And with good reason.

            1. pancakes*

              Binge drinking can be fun. Having such a poor handle on your own limits and/or such a poor handle on how to behave socially that you have to go to the hospital for alcohol poisoning can’t possibly be fun.

          2. Roscoe*

            @sunny-dee “binge drinking” is a very broad term. Maybe you should try to not be so judgmental. Ever looked at the definition of binge drinking? I’m sure there are plenty of very good, functional people who have fallen into that range at times. I don’t think its a lapse in judgment. People are adults, they can do what they want. If they want to drink 10 drinks a night on Friday, that is their choice, I’d hardly call it a lapse in judgement. IF you want to smoke cigarettes, or weed, again, I wouldn’t call it a lapse in judgment

            1. Kathleen_A*

              I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that ingesting any substance to the point where you need to be hospitalized is “a lapse in judgment.” You can call it what you want, Roscoe.

      10. Totally Minnie*

        I’m not seeing pearl-clutching here. This is a relatively unusual situation, and it feels reasonable to me that a manager who hasn’t experienced something like this in the past wouldn’t know how seriously to take it.

    1. Zaphod Beeblebrox*

      Also, do you know for sure that it was all their doing – i.e. any evidence of drinks being spiked etc?

      1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

        This is what I wonder, especially if the employee doesn’t have a habit of calling in with a hangover. If they don’t normally drink much they could be more susceptible to getting sick, they could have the kind of irritating friend who pressures them into doing shots or puts vodka in their beer, etc. I’ve certainly had friends and acquaintances who have done this to each other, even if they aren’t big drinkers normally.

      2. Slartibartfast*

        I find it amusing that Zaphod Beeblebrox is giving alcohol advice :) I also wonder what birthday this was? If it’s 21in the US, I would expect extra booze waa pushed on the birthday person.

            1. wittyrepartee*

              They serve them at the Way Station here in NYC. Strongly recommend a trip if you’re ever in Brooklyn.

      3. Le Sigh*

        I don’t have definitive proof but am 98% sure I had a drink spiked some years ago. The lingering effects resulted in the worst two-day hangover of my life. It’s entirely possible this happened to the LW’s employee.

        Or not and something else happened–I just think it’s worth keeping in mind before judging too harshly, since LW doesn’t really know what happened.

    2. Ellen*

      I’m wondering if someone slipped something into the employees drink and they would rather not discuss this. I would have just told my boss that I was hospitalized because I was sick.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I don’t think “I got alcohol poisoning” is better (to your boss) than “I got roofied.”

        1. OhNo*

          I disagree, since “I got roofied” can lead to some pretty unpleasant assumptions about what else might have occurred – which the employee may not be comfortable discussing or even admitting.

          Regardless, the way it comes across to the boss is the only thing I can think of that might be worth talking to the employee in this situation. If the employee is young, they may not have heard the advice yet that you generally want to share as few details as you can. If LW is feeling especially generous they might say, “You don’t have to give [me/your supervisor] details of why you’re not coming in. Just letting us know that you’re going to be out and when you’ll be back is enough.”

      2. my two cents*

        It’s also possible they’re on other medication that severally interacted with significant alcohol intake ‘this time’, such as add/adhd causing extreme dehydration and heart palpitations, or anxiety/depression meds, or even antibiotics causing any number of issues.

        1. Bee*

          Yeah, it took one of my friends a really horrible night where he was blacked out, beat up, and robbed to find out that his new course of antidepressants couldn’t handle more than two drinks. The doctor didn’t warn him (which…..eek), and he drank an amount that was reasonable two months before, but the effects were SO much worse.

        2. jb*

          +1. This happened to me. I once passed out at a dinner, after 2 drinks, a week after stopping an antibiotic. At the time, I had no idea that something like that could happen.

          Not everyone who ends up hospitalized for alcohol poisoning is a raging, irresponsible drunk. If there is a reliability problem, address that. Right now, the why isn’t your issue to address or judge “out loud”.

        3. General Ginger*

          Yeeep. Been there. Stopped one medication which didn’t interfere with light alcohol consumption, started different medication for same health issue, which, oops, did. Doctor didn’t mention it specifically, and I didn’t really think about it, assuming meds were similar enough. Went out, had a shot and a beer. Had to have a friend take me outside and sit with me a while before driving me home.

          1. pancakes*

            Having to sit on the curb for a while is several notches down in intensity from having to go to hospital. That said, I agree with Allison’s advice.

        1. Ellen*

          You cant always tell, and you dont always remember. My college choice and choice of friends of friends proved to be unfortunate. Although I do not speak from personal experience. However “the rest of the story” has also been shared, and this sounds habitual. This doesn’t mean they CANT have been roofied or even just given MUCH stronger drinks than they expected, but I believe there is a different problem at play

          1. Anna*

            There’s also absolutely no indication that it happened, so there’s really no reason to go down this road.

    3. Artemesia*

      This. People end up missing work because of ill judged athletic choices all the time; the LW is obviously having a surge of ‘moralistic and judgmental’ here. Yes, unfortunate, but if it isn’t a pattern, let it lay.

      1. Kathleen_A*

        Man, do we see things differently! I don’t think it’s at all “obvious” that the LW is having a surge of “moralistic and judgmental.” I think the LW is very concerned, as well she should be, though if this is a one-time thing (sadly,based on what the LW says below, it apparently is not), she should take a wait-and-see attitude. Binge drinking – if that’s what happened here – indicates a fairly serious problem. If this were a one-time thing, the LW should let it go, but that doesn’t mean her concern isn’t justified. Because it absolutely is.

    4. sfigato*

      I’ve called in sick once for alcohol-related illness, and given myself serious alcohol poisoning once. I learned.

  2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    They landed up in the hospital, I don’t think they need someone then lecturing them. They got it from the hospital and family most likely!

    Act as though they called in with a 24hr stomach bug. They used a sick day. Let it go unless it’s a pattern of being unreliable!!!

    1. MusicWithRocksInIt*

      In my experience (child of an alcoholic – niece of another – I have been present for this way too many times) they are not nice to you when you are hospitalized for alcohol poisoning. They make it extremely clear to you how much you messed up and you are treated like an extremely out of line problem step-child. I would assume this person has already been lectured up one side and down another, given the cold shoulder and in general made to realize that their condition is entirety their own fault and no one has any sympathy at all for them.

          1. Jaz*

            I was once in the hospital because I was experiencing petit mal seizures, but the doctors thought I was either drunk or stoned at first. Their behavior toward me was pretty horrendous. Then when things got cleared up, they were suddenly cheerful and friendly.

            Some hospitals definitely have serious issues with treating the intoxicated.

            1. Jennifer Thneed*

              A friend of mine was having a *stroke* (we’re only in our 50’s) but because she came to the ER from a concert, they assumed it was drugs and didn’t test further. (She came thru just fine. Yes there were lawyers.)

          2. Scarlet*

            Yeah, it’s disturbingly common. I had a very unfortunate experience with a close family member who ended up in hospital with severe liver damage partly due to alcohol abuse. Nurses and doctors likewise were awful. I used to think people working in healthcare were more likely to be empathetic, turns out I was wrong.

            1. Anonymousaurus Rex*

              Yeah. My dad and stepmother both died from alcoholism (preceded by many years of binge-related hospitalizations). First responders and hospital staff do not like responding to these kinds of “self-inflicted” illnesses. I think it’s honestly similar to children of alcoholics–you just get very tired of dealing with something that seems preventable. (I know alcoholism is a disease, etc. but when you’re constantly picking up the pieces of someone else’s life due to the “choice” to drink it can be easy to lose sight of the illness and just focus on what a pain in the ass the alcoholic is being.)
              That said, there’s a huge difference between someone hospitalized once for binge drinking and a chronic binge drinker–it’s just that the hospital sees enough of the latter that they don’t tend to have a lot of patience with the former.

            2. Perse's Mom*

              Compassion fatigue is a very real thing and it impacts a LOT of hospital staff – basically, you become anywhere from emotionally unresponsive to embittered to actively angry about situations you see a lot. It becomes increasingly more difficult to be sympathetic even when people need it most. And the fields where compassion fatigue strike hardest (first responders, animal rescue, front lines of hospitals) are also more likely to be deeply dysfunctional workplaces and the least likely to make any effort to help staff deal with it in healthy ways (work-life balance, time off, access to affordable or free mental health care, etc).

              That’s not to excuse it, just to point out this is a known phenomenon.

      1. TootsNYC*

        Hearing this, I’m thinking that as a human being, I might have a “pep talk” with my employee: “I’m glad you’re safe. That was scary to hear; alcohol poisoning kills people. Please take care of yourself in the future–we like having you on the planet.”

        Just because, sometimes that’s the thing that pierces the fog.

        Maybe it’s a bit overstepping, but I also think there’s room for being someone who cares about the people who work for you.

      2. Anon for this*

        Yes. Having taken a family member to the ER for a substance abuse related emergency, I can confirm this. We were treated, um, not nicely. Medical treatment was not skimped, but there was a definite air of “you are an extremely naughty and disappointing child and we could be attending to other people right now but ohhh nooo you had to go and be stupid”. It sucked extra for me because I was then blamed by said family member for not only the expense of the hospital visit but the lectures they endured after the crisis stage had passed. So, fun times.

      3. JSQ*

        I was once mugged and hit over the head with a gun. I was taken by ambulance to the hospital and the nurse definitely thought I was just some idiot who’d had a drunken accident on a Saturday night. When he came in the room he glared at me and said “What’d you do, stumble down the stairs?” His whole demeanor changed when he learned I’d been attacked.

      4. Le Sigh*

        Yup. My sister had to go to the ER at 4am for kidney stones and they couldn’t be bothered with her (they assumed she was seeking drugs). My other sister had to get in someone’s face to get her admitted and boy were they nicer once they realized it was kidney stones.

      5. General Ginger*

        Don’t have any personal experience with it, but: 1. this doesn’t surprise me at all, and 2. this is really awful.

    2. Diet Coke*

      If the person calling in wanted it to be treated like a stomach bug they wouldn’t have called in “due to being hospitalized over the weekend for alcohol poisoning”. Stomach issues would not be lying here, there is no need to tell your boss this unless the LW hounded them into giving that reason. It sounds like the employee is asking for a lecture or at the least to be noticed that something is wrong. The majority of people would not give their boss this information.

      1. Artemesia*

        I did wonder about that. I sure would have lied in this situation so I am wondering how the LW knows this is the reason.

      2. Le Sigh*

        Maybe, but there could be other things at play. A lot of folks on this blog have talked about how they felt they had to overshare about the symptoms, otherwise no one would believe they were legit sick. So maybe they think they have to disclose–or maybe they’re just a habitual overshare-er who hasn’t learned to hold some things back from the boss.

      3. General Ginger*

        I doubt the employee is “asking for a lecture”. Maybe they don’t know what they should share, maybe they’ve had to overshare before, maybe they are an oversharer, maybe they think since they were hospitalized, boss will find out anyway. Frankly, even if they’re “asking for a lecture”, I don’t think it’s the boss’s place to do so unless this is a habitual problem/keeps affecting work.

  3. Eric*

    #5, looks like the choices are in alphabetical order, this the pavement of I’m- the- bomb where it is (dashes coming after spaces in this program’s alphabetization).

      1. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

        I wonder if there was either a default sort pattern for text boxes that didn’t get changed away from alphabetical, or if the person creating the page failed to add some sort of numeric value ranking to the options so they couldn’t be sorted that way.

        Either way, failing to even look at your own results is a beginner-level mistake.

    1. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

      Yup, my reading of it in proper (for want of a better description for this carcrash of options) rank order would be:
      1) I’m terrible
      2) I’m OK
      3) I’m pretty good
      4) Yeah, that’s me!
      5) I’m-the-bomb.com

      (it’s the dot com that really pushes this over the edge for me btw!)

      1. Mookie*

        I choose to think the bomb.com is a test to weed out the corniest and/or most sycophantic applicants (or, as KayEss says above, time-travelers from an era that brought us the all-important Gellin’/Gelling distinction and eXtrEeM-edition consumer goods, where natives (the measure of whose social status and self-worth could be obtained by counting quantities of “all that” and bags of chips on their immediate person), greeted one another with a hale and hearty WAZuuuuuuuuuupppppppPPP), but I’m mean and have a bad attitude.

        1. KayEss*

          Now, now… it may not be covered by the ADA in this timeline, but we should have compassion for people struggling with dimensional and temporal displacement. Most of them are doing their best, regardless of their home era.

          1. rogue axolotl*

            The more troubling possibility is that it’s the hiring manager who is temporally displaced, in which case I’d be living in fear of being offered my choice of Sunny D or Fruitopia at the interview (with a Dunkaroos chaser).

      2. MusicWithRocksInIt*

        I would have real trouble describing myself as I’m-the-bomb.com. It just sounds sooo… dumb? Even if I thought I was super awesome at one of those things I would pick Yea that’s me because the-bomb would make me so uncomfortable.

        1. Amber Rose*

          I would answer it for every question, and then in the free answer box that says to describe your skills, i’d write “just check out i’m-the-bomb.com.”

          And then i’d paste the lyrics to a Dennis Leary song, because I’m not taking this seriously.

        2. boop the first*

          What sucks about it is the rumor that most of these personality quizzes only get passed on to the employer if you answer “correctly” (meaning, the highest agree) for every positive-answer question, so if you DIDN’T answer with “I’m-the-bomb.com” for all of these, you’ve already failed the interview.

    2. darsynia*

      I totally came here to say this–looks like it’s alphabetical, and what’s more, I suspect that the person who wrote the responses forgot to check or didn’t know it would default to that, and would feel super embarrassed to find out!

    3. teclatrans*

      I really want to know whether bomb.com comes before or after “that’s me!” In the rankings. And who would pick anything other than the top-rank choi…OMG, maybe the weird order of choices was intentional?

  4. Les G*

    Agreed with Alison’s advice to OP 1. But am I the only one wondering why OP knows the details of the employee’s hospitalization at all? That goes firmly in the don’t-tell-the-boss category for me and, frankly, most folks with a little sense. This is what the polite lie or vague excuse was invented for, so sharing details makes me wonder about this kid’s judgement much more than the incident itself.

    1. Rez123*

      I don’t know this case but in some work places a you have to provide a doctors note if you atre off sick and it has a diagnosis. Some diagnose codes are vague but some are obvious. But if you can only call then I wouldn’t necessarily tell the while truth in this case.

      1. kittymommy*

        I used to work in the clinic at my work and we would take the dr’s notes and keep them in their medical files with us, separate and inaccessible from any other files that HR or departments might have. I was always astonished by the dr’s offices that put diagnosis codes on them. Our work never needed them just the dates covered and if their where any restrictions. I’d tell the workers next time they got a note (and especially if they gave it to their department in error) to make sure there was not a dx code on it.

        1. dawbs*

          Ha, we have the opposite problem.
          My husband’s(union, ftr) contract requires they have a doctor’s note with a diagnosis, signed by the doctor (not a PA or nurse) – and it can’t be a computerized signature.

          Every time we have long discussions with staff- who are correct this is horrid and invasive- but this is what we need for him not to get a suspension.
          They know us @the local urgent care, and find an actual doctor to sign something when they see us in the waiting room. (Hmmm, wish i was exaggerating. that probably speaks badly of our 2018 health)

            1. LCL*

              Union contracts are negotiated agreements between the union and the company. They are by their nature compromises. It is most likely this is something the business was adamant about.

          1. Amelia Pond*

            Not being able to get a note from a PA or nurse practitioner is absurd! For the most part, it’s far easier to get a same-day appointment with them than it is to get one from a doctor. And isn’t urgent care more expensive than a normal appointment?

            1. dawbs*

              urgent care is normally cheaper–and it’s nearly impossible to get a same day appt.

              THe ‘giving a reason’ IS absurd, but it’s the concession the union made in order not to have physicals to test fitness for all of the workers. Which is something I have lots of feels about, but, that’s how it is.

              And the ‘must be a doctor’ thing was because someone had a PA friend forge notes–so rather than deal w/ forgery, they made an idiotic rule.
              What usually happens is he sees the PA or NP and they go find a doctor SOMEWHERE–usually a doctor who is ‘on site’ but not seeing anyone, to sign the damn note. Legally, even if the NPs are running things, there is usually a person w/ an MD or DO doing *something* in the building–so, yes, occasionally the notes are signed off on by some paper-pusher-doctor who hasn’t seen a patient in years that they hunted down in a corner office somewhere. It’s incredibly annoying.
              (and he does need a note for every day off.)

            2. Batman*

              In my experience, urgent care is more expensive. Or, to be technical, my co-pay is more expensive for urgent care than it is for a normal appointment.

        2. rex*

          I’m not in the USA so obviosuly we have a different system. I couldn’t find a simple article explaining this (too lazy to read the mumbojumbo) but if I recall correctly we have to have the international ICD-code in the doctors note. That code determines if we are entitled to pay during our sick time. We will get the time off without losing our job, but the code determines if it is paid.
          We can be off from work for 5 days in a a row, 5 times a year without doctors note. Otherwise with a note the time off is unlimited and usually paid with some exceptions. While I don’t think its any of my managers business why I am off, but I also understand that they really cannot pay me for several month sick leave due to something really random since the ICD seriously have everything there.

    2. Enid*

      I’m writing from a country where you do need to give a reason and am always bemused by the advice here not to.

      1. Friday afternoon fever*

        It’s really dependent on company culture here. Some places are fine with “I’m out sick today” and some places want to know precisely what is wrong with you (and then your manager will call your cell like 45 minutes later at 8am ‘just to check in’ because she’s ‘so concerned’ even though you are mostly just trying to take a mental health day from the hellhole you’ve been trying to escape for months… No, just me?)

        1. Totally Minnie*

          “Hi, boss. Yeah, still sick. But thanks for waking me up from the nap that was helping me get better.”

          1. Friday afternoon fever*

            Haha, completely. “Thanks for reminding me why I think you’re a nightmare!”

        2. TexanInExile*

          A co-worker didn’t show up one day and didn’t call in. I was worried and asked my boss if we should call her just to make sure everything was OK. He told me no, that she got horrible migraines and that’s probably what this was, and that the ringing of the phone would be painful for her.

          He was a good person.

          1. sunny-dee*

            It’s good that the manager knew the details, though. I had a friend-of-a-friend who had epilepsy and passed out in the bathtub and drowned. Her family found her body because of her no-call / no-show at work.

      2. Manya*

        This seems intrusive to me. Why not treat people like adults and trust them to know when they’re sufficiently unwell to come to work?

        1. Friday afternoon fever*

          I am always bemused by any expectation that people — especially people in charge — will treat you reasonably and respectfully. People are crazy. There is “should” and then the reality of “does.”

          Don’t remember which AAM letter or thread this came from, but someone once wrote (or described someone else as) , “I am drunk on a very small amount of power” and i think of it all the time.

          1. Friday afternoon fever*

            To be clear I don’t mean “expectation” like setting expectations for how other people behave when you’re in a position to do so, I mean expectation like how one anticipates people will behave

        2. Myrin*

          I’m from a country like that and people generally simply don’t view it as an intrusion – it’s completely normal. I myself never even would’ve thought about that if I hadn’t started reading AAM years ago; it’s just the norm and people don’t think anything about it.

          1. darsynia*

            I’d be curious to know if you have a national healthcare system in your country (but feel free not to answer if this is invasive of me to ask!), because I feel like the reasons we don’t (or don’t want to) go into specifics here in the US has to do with our terrible healthcare system. Knowing your employer might want to find a reason to drop you from their company’s healthcare plan because your cancer or pregnancy might make the price to cover the whole small business more expensive is a real thing, here.

      3. Antilles*

        In a lot of companies/industries in the US, use of sick leave typically falls under the general heading of “we hired a professional adult, we’re going to treat you like one until you show otherwise”. Basically the same sort of leeway that you give for employees checking personal email/stuff online or taking bathroom breaks whenever needed or etc. If it becomes an issue, then you address that as an issue, but in general, you assume they’re going to handle things correctly.
        Not all US workplaces are this flexible about not needing to provide a reason, but it’s enough of a standard (particularly in salaried jobs) that the companies/bosses which *do* require doctor’s notes or detailed reasons often stand out.

      4. Lucy*

        I feel like there’s a difference between “because I have a stomach upset” and “because I’ve thrown up seven times and had diarrhoea six times and honestly at this point it’s just water”. Similarly there’s a difference between “I’m in the hospital with a bad stomach upset” and “I got alcohol poisoning on a two-day bender lol”.

    3. Ms Cappuccino*

      I agree. I would have made up a story about food poisoning. You don’t tell your boss about having drunk too much alcohol.
      OP: She probably learnt her lesson anyway.

    4. Asenath*

      I was wondering the exact same thing. Obviously, if the person is very frequently unable to work due to medical reasons it would have to be addressed, whether or not the medical reasons included frequent intoxication. I don’t see why the manager would even be informed about the reason for a weekend hospitalization even if it extended to a Monday.

      In response to the comments below – this must vary by jurisdiction. I have fortunately not often sick enough long enough to need a doctor’s note to stay off work, but when I do, it invariably says something like “Ms. Asenath was unable to work (or “attended a clinic”) on DATES for medical reasons.”. If I needed to be off on a Monday (a single day) I wouldn’t need a note, even if I had been sick Saturday and Sunday as well, because those aren’t workdays for me.

      1. Rez123*

        Whenever I’ve had to give my boss/HR/Payroll a doctor note it has the international ICD-code. The code itself doesn’t really reveal anything unless the boss goes googling them.

          1. rex*

            I replied somewehre on this thread but the ICD code determines if the sick time is paid. I can refuse to provide it, but it would mean that the time off is unpaid. I cannot lose my job, but they are entitled to have the sick time unpaid. That would be very unfortunate if the sick time is severeal months.

    5. Smithy*

      This was also my question. From the LW’s comment there appear to potentially be other issues – but if the gist is that the employee has missed two days of work in almost a year for sick days….then that’s partially about maintaining good boundaries with work.

      More generally speaking and providing the employee doesn’t have problems overall, I think that mentoring young staff about how to talk about being hungover/partying to excess while at work is a service.

      1. Collarbone High*

        I once had a young employee request a Thursday off, which I approved. She then shared the reason for the request: she was planning to drop a bunch of acid on Wednesday night.

        Me: [long pause] “… so in the future, just say ‘I’d like to use PTO on Thursday’ and don’t mention the drugs.”

    6. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I agree with that, but I shrugged it off and assumed it was someone being new-ish to the workforce and not realizing that sometimes a little white lie is a better strategy. And I get that, because “I’m in the hospital” is a very alarming thing to relay and to hear.

      Now, “Boss, I gotta call in sick. I went way too hard the other night and ended up in the hospital with alcohol poisoning!”… The manager is in the terribly awkward position of not really needing a reason, but now that she has one, she’s naturally concerned. I might remind the employee that I don’t need the reason while holding back any kind of lecture about over-doing it.

    7. HB*

      I’m kind of wondering if the employee volunteered the info, and did so in a flippant manner—such that the manager thinks that the employee is at risk for repeating the mistake. Like, “Hey! Won’t be in today bc I drank so much I ended up in the hospital. Lolz.”

  5. LW1*

    Thanks for taking my question Alison! Taking your input to heart as we work this out with the employee. For a little more context, I will add employee has been here less than a year, is out of PTO, and this is the second alcohol related absence. The circumstances of some absences seem strange/improbable. This employee is a bit of a chaos muppet. Still open to you and commentariat thinking a y’all would be overblown, but that’s the context. Thanks everyone for their feedback!

      1. Captain Vegetable (Crunch Crunch Crunch)*

        I kind of love the idea of your employee coming into work and you look them dead in the eye, then shake your head and say, “Y’all.” Probably wouldn’t get your point across, but… “Y’all.”

        1. Mookie*

          I am easily made to feel guilty, so this would work astonishingly well on me.

          Also, this is hilarious.

        2. Jaz*

          I don’t think I’ll ever hear the word “y’all” again without giggling. Which is a real problem, since my husband is from Alabama…

        3. General Ginger*

          IDK, if you look around the room at others, shake your head, and throw up your hands as you do, I think it pretty much would get the point across!

      1. Nox*

        Clearly they need to be referred to an EAC vs PIP. Can’t just go nuclear on an employee without having an attempt of a conversation first.

        1. Lucy*

          It’s two alcohol-related absences plus “the circumstances of some [additional] absences seem strange/improbable.” Coral flags if not actually red.

          1. Lucy*

            Sorry, two self-inflicted injuries plus some other curious absence patterns. As Alison says, “Time for a conversation.”

            1. Où est la bibliothèque?*

              I absolutely agree about a conversation, and even consequences if the pattern repeats. But a PIP usually involves HR and/or upper management, and I think there are steps to try to resolve the situation before it gets formally elevated like that.

              1. MassMatt*

                I am a bit n the fence, I was thinking a talk with the employee was probably warranted even without this additional information, I lean a bit towards PIP depending on how disruptive things have been. I would be willing to bet long odds that a PIP is in the future, and that either the employee will wind up fired or their manager will wish they had been.

        1. LW1*

          I am not from the UK and I didn’t know it had that meaning there. I am from the US where as the other commenter said it’s just a term for Jim Henson puppets. That said I can certainly see why it would be an offensive term read from a UK perspective. I don’t think this site has comment editing or deleting functionality (at least on my end). Do you have a suggestion for how you think the ableist language should be handled or is this disclaimer enough?

          1. Labradoodle Daddy*

            Just wanted to say that you seem like a thoughtful and conscientious person and manager.

        2. Feministbookworm*

          Wow, I lived in the UK for a while and didn’t know the word had that connotation there. In the US I have never heard it used in that context and LW1 almost certainly did not mean it that way — the specific term “chaos muppet” comes from a Dahlia Lithwick article in Slate about how everyone is either a chaos or an order muppet (link to follow, since they get stuck in moderation)

        3. ThatLyndsey*

          I am from and in the UK and I have never ever heard that this is what ‘oxygen deprived newborns’ are called here. It is derogatory slang, yes, but usually towards or between adults and often humorous although not always. If someone (nurse, doctor etc) is calling sick babies muppets, then they should probably be the ones fired or on a PIP!
          I think Valentine is having us on.

          1. Everdene*

            Yep! I have lived in the uk my whole life and this is news to me. I would define muppet as
            1. Jim Henson puppet
            2. Someone behaving in a silly/unfocused manner, good humoured insult ie ‘I forgot my purse again’ ‘You muppet!’

            1. Everdene*

              I’ve just gone down an internet rabbit hole and can find no etymology or definition of muppet that even suggests ‘oxygen deprived newborns’.

        4. Snow Drift*

          I’m very surprised to hear this. The Muppets are now owned by Disney, which rabidly protects its intellectual property. I would expect them to aggressively stamp out derogatory use of the word.

            1. TootsNYC*

              and I would imagine that slang in another country, even an English-speaking country, and especially if it at all predates the trademark, is also difficult, if not impossible.

        5. Ceiswyn*

          Neither I nor anybody I know has ever called an oxygen-deprived newborn a ‘muppet’.

          In the UK, where I live, it’s what we call friends who do silly things.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        Yeah, Animal is the usual reference. It doesn’t have a slur attached in the US, but it wouldn’t take much for it to be a slur. I only use it for cats.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Aha, that significantly changes things. It’s part of a pattern, and you do need to address the pattern. Second alcohol-related absence = serious conversation. Too many absences in general also = conversation. So, time for a conversation.

    2. Aphrodite*

      With those additional details, I would say that you may still want to hold off though this second time may warrant a concerned talk. However, if it happens again then I’d say you have cause to consider the employee as a risk since you listed those other factors.

      If you wouldn’t mind, OP, how much PTO does your company provide to a relative newcomer, is it combined sick and vacation time, and was the first incident as serious as the second?

      1. LW1*

        12 days in one bucket (sick/vacation not separate). Some flexibility re: work from home (for example, you can clock in from home and work if you need to stay and wait for a repairman, or have a sick child, and it won’t count as PTO). So it’s not a particularly generous policy but fairly standard. First instance was not hospitalization or alcohol poisoning but employee injured self while drinking and required treatment/time off. I think I would consider the 2nd time more serious?

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          It’s actually lower than average; I wouldn’t consider it standard. But it’s not all that relevant here; the issue is that he now has a pattern of missing work because of alcohol, and that can’t happen again. (It sounds like there may be other issues too. I’d address all of them right now, so that you can figure out sooner rather than later if he’s going to be the employee you need or not.)

          1. German Girl*

            Yeah, 12 days for both PTO and sick time sounds like very little to me.

            But this wouldn’t be a sick time situation at my company anyway. If it’s your fault that you’re missing work, because you misjudged your alcohol tolerance, then you are expected to use PTO or any flextime hours you might have accumulated.

            But that might also be a cultural difference, because we do get unlimited sick days by law here, but the employer can demand a doctor’s note. Most employers don’t ask for one if you’re out for less than three days in a row, so almost everybody is trying to be fair with their use of sick time so that HR doesn’t put them on the “needs a doctor’s note from day one”-PIP.

            My advice in this situation: Tell the employee that they need to figure this out and make sure they don’t miss work again because of their drinking.
            Maybe they’re fairly new to the work world and nobody has told them that drinking is best done on Friday and Saturday evenings if you work Monday to Friday, because some college kids will drink whenever …

            Also, since they don’t have any PTO left, they’ll need to make up those hours asap (if that’s possible in your place of work).

            1. Scarlet*

              Yeah, I’m in Europe and that sounds very little to me as well.
              LW1’s comments provide a very different picture than the original letter. I do think they should have a talk with the employee, but I don’t think focusing on the alcohol aspect is necessarily useful. It looks like employee is generally unreliable, that’s the core issue. Whether it’s due to excessive drinking or anything else isn’t really relevant, IMO.

              A side note on your comment re. this not being a sick time situation: that person was hospitalized, I guess they would have had documents to prove it. How is it not a sick time situation? If you break your leg skiing, do you also have to take PTO instead of sick time because you chose to engage in a risky activity?

              1. German Girl*

                No, skiing is fine. Accidents happen/being sick happens, it’s a cost of doing business.

                Drinking (and other drug use) is you deliberately harming yourself – and while you can get help from the EAP if you want, the culture in my company is that when you miss work because you drank/did drugs, it’s you who messed up so you use PTO and try to make sure it doesn’t happen again. But maybe my office is weird/dysfunctional in this aspect?!

                1. Amerdale*

                  I’m German too and I would absolutely consider this a sick situation. If the chaos muppet (love that expression by the way) is hospitalized they have certainly gotten a doctor’s note there. How and why the injury happend just doesn’t matter in that moment and are not stated on the doctor’s note for the employer anyway – so if chaos muppet doesn’t tell why they are hospitalized no one would know.

                2. Scarlet*

                  This is really getting into moralizing territory. The key word here is hospitalization. If someone was hospitalized, it means they had a serious health issue. The root cause is quite irrelevant, it’s still a medical issue.
                  If someone overdoses on prescription drugs, will you investigate to find out whether the overdose was accidental or intentional? If someone lands up in hospital after a suicide attempt, do you ask them to take PTO because they were harming themselves?

                3. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

                  That does seem like a kind of judgemental distinction. What if someone was injured in a suicide attempt, or doing some kind of extreme sport? That could also be seen as deliberately harming yourself.

                4. Mookie*

                  I agree with Scarlet. The notion that alcohol consumption is aberrant or inherently self-destructive, but flinging yourself off a snowy mountain on holiday isn’t, is an opinion you’re entitled to, but not remotely a universal one and not something to be imposed on others, I think.

                5. Sunshine*

                  Getting injured while skiing is also self inflicted. You go into extreme sports knowing there’s an inherent risk. Same with drinking / taking drugs. I’m morally neutral about all three activities; but from a business perspective, voluntarily hurling yourself down an icy slope with a couple planks attached to your feet is at least as self inflicted as a couple glasses of wine.

                6. Alton*

                  I think saying that drinking is “deliberately harming yourself” is a moralistic stance, and while it sounds like the OP’s employee is a heavy drinker due to the alcohol poisoning, injuring yourself while drinking could mean anything from passing out in a ditch to tripping over a chair leg after a couple glasses of wine. Accidents happen sometimes, and it’s not always because you were drinking excessively.

                7. Doodle*

                  I’m American. Hospital = sick time, if you work somewhere that distinguishes between sick time and other PTO, which this employer does not, per the LW.

                  Even if the employee didn’t go to the hospital, if they’re vomit-y or unable to physically function on Monday, that’s sick time.

                8. pleaset*

                  “No, skiing is fine. Accidents happen/being sick happens, it’s a cost of doing business.

                  Drinking (and other drug use) is you deliberately harming yourself”

                  I don’t drink (never have) and ski – and I think this distinction is not good.

                9. Totally Minnie*

                  Hard disagree, German Girl. If you wouldn’t tell your rugby playing employee that his hospitalization was his own fault for participating in risky behavior and therefore isn’t covered by sick leave, you can’t say it to your drinking employee.

                10. TootsNYC*

                  I’m a little torn, because hurting yourself is something even sober people do.

                  So in terms of actual time out, that’s not so much the problem.

                  To me, the problem is that these are both alcohol related, and that they are shading in a picture of someone who won’t be reliable in the future because of alcohol. And of someone who has very little self-control.

                  That’s hurting THE EMPLOYEE, first and foremost. And that might be the first point I would make. And as a result of this reputation damage, it also means that I would have less tolerance for future absences, and a great deal more skepticism about and less patience for chaotic things or basic dropping the ball.

                11. German Girl*

                  Thanks everyone who commented on this. I learned something new. It seems like my workplace really is a bit strange when it comes to “you don’t call in sick for a hangover”.

                12. Sunshine*

                  German Girl – that’s not strange, most workplaces expect you to make the effort when you’re hungover.

                  It was more that to me – and maybe others – injuring yourself during extreme sports is different from, say, tripping over the cat. Skiing is a really risky activity. Drinking / drugs can also be risky. All warrant sick time. To me it’s the regularity – if someone who routinely incapacitating themselves through extreme sports, to me that’s just as worth an EAP referral as someone who keeps doing it through drink.

              2. CynicallySweet*

                I SUPER agree about the unreliability being the thing to focus on. You can use the alcohol related absences as examples of the unreliability, but it shouldn’t be the focus point.

                Because the sick time and vacation is all rolled up I don’t really think it matters if this comes out of sick or vacation time. But in general, yes hospital = sick time. Moralizing about the cause isn’t really productive. If I can’t come in because I’m vomiting, then I’m sick. That doesn’t change if I’m vomiting because I drank too much. It’s really easy to say “they did it to themselves, so it’s there fault” in this situation, but applying that across the board can get really complicated. For example, if a diabetic who doesn’t take their meds/care of themselves gets hospitalized the argument could be made that it should come out of vacation b/c it’s their fault. That’s why it’s better for sick just being sick. Like I said above, focus on the unreliability with this as a factor, don’t make it the main argument. I’m based out of America if it makes a difference.

              3. LaDeeDa*

                I never give the reason I am out sick. I just say I am sick. My company/ manager would have no idea if the reason I am out is self-induced alcohol-related or not.

            2. wittyrepartee*

              That’s… not a lot of time off. If you get the flu you could easily burn through half of your PTO. I probably wouldn’t take a job with benefits like that.
              For comparison, I’m a unionized city employee of NYC: I get around 15 days PTO per year and 12 sick days (I gain them monthly), and also national holidays. I can be asked for a doctor’s note for absences over 2 days, and if I have too many “unexplained” sick days. My boss just tells me to get notes to cover any doctor’s appointments that I use sick time for in case I’m asked for notes. My previous job (which wasn’t unionized and was generally bad working conditions) had similar leave, and the one before that was… less but much weirder (no formal sick days, you just had to ask and hope it was okay with them).

              1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

                Agreed. I’m in the private sector, not unionized, and currently have 15 days vacation and 10 days sick; my first office job out of college had 12 days vacation and 6 days sick. 12 days total for both is harsh.

                1. Kyrielle*

                  The worst I’ve personally encountered was a previous job that accrued 4 hours of sick leave per month – so 6 days a year – but even brand-new employees had 10 days of vacation, so that’s still more time off than this. (And when they shifted from 10 days of sick a year to six, but with accrual, there was a lot of back-and-forth grumbling, trying to decide whether it was better or worse. In general people came down on ‘worse’ I think.)

                2. Ellen*

                  My prior job had zero sick days and zero vacation days and you would get written up if you called out sick 5 times in a year.

                  My current job gives you 5 WEEKS PTO but you still get written up on the 5th sick day in a rolling year long basis. And this is a hospital. Getting fired on the 5th time is also a real possibility.

                3. Jadelyn*

                  Nonprofit non-union checking in here – we get 12 sick and 15 vacation days/yr. After you’ve been here six years it goes up to 20 vacation days/yr. 12 of combined PTO is nothing – really, at that point, you either get to be sick once a year (or have a chronic illness) OR go on vacation that year, but not both.

                4. General Ginger*

                  I went up to 3 sick days this year — a milestone year. From 2 last year. Needless to say, I’m looking.

              2. Jules the 3rd*

                My company (large multinational) starts at 10 vacation + holidays for US employees, gaining 5 days vacation at 5, 10 and 20 years with the company, unlimited sick time. I don’t think I’ve ever worked for a company with less than 10 days vacation since retail days, but I don’t remember the various sick leaves. 12 total is pretty low even for the US.

                So, yeah, *why* he’s sick doesn’t matter except moralistically. I’d address performance – the chaos part. *IF* him being in more often will help performance, then mention it.

                If it gets more serious, you could *maybe* mention your company’s EAP if you have one (and if you don’t, maybe suggest an EAP and better leave policies up your chain as retention tools).

                1. Jaz*

                  My husband’s company used to follow exactly the same pattern (10 days, 5 more days after 5 years, etc.) but sick time is included in that bucket. It’s so harsh that when the company announced a change to leave policy we thought surely some sick time was being added.

                  Nope! The five-year and fifteen-year increases are being discontinued!

              3. Blue*

                I definitely wouldn’t take a job with benefits like that. Wouldn’t even consider it. I have 12 sick days alone (plus a few more, non-accruable sick days if you use those up) and twice as many vacation days. My mental health would take a complete nose-dive if I had 12 days *total* and the thought alone is making me kind of stressed out, to be honest.

            3. Anonyby*

              Adding another bit of anac-data. I work for a company whose national grandparent company imposes their HR practices on us. We have combined PTO, and new employees start out with only a little more than LW1- 14 days. Thankfully it starts to go up at 2 years (we get increases after 2, 5, and 10 years with the company, ending up with 26 total). And we have about 8 holidays, all paid. (And actually a leftover from our pre-purchase practices is that we close at 2pm the weekday before those paid holidays, and employees that worked that day are paid the difference. Nice piece of company culture we’ve hung on to.)

        2. MusicWithRocksInIt*

          Did the employee tell you that she was injured while drinking – or did you find out because of a doctor’s note? I just… feel like most people wouldn’t admit at work that that was how they got badly hurt. But if the person gets back to work and is all “It was soo funny, I was so smashed and then Brad dared to to climb on the roof…” i.e. telling it like a funny story, not realizing how serious it is, then that seems like a bigger problem then if they just said they were hurt.

          1. LW1*

            The employee voluntarily told us both times, as in “I am going to the doctor/hospital because [reasons], will be out.”

            1. LaDeeDa*

              I don’t get why they are telling you they had alcohol poisoning Obviously they have bad judgment, but there is no reason for you to even know why they are out sick.

        3. K. A.*

          I’m in the US, and 12 days for combined sick and vacation is below standard. At the bare minimum, professionals get 10 days vacation and 5 days sick (plus some bereavement leave). I’ve mostly seen people get 10 days sick leave in addition to 10-15 days vacation.

        4. Blunt Bunny*

          The first instance they were injured, not hungover so they had ligitmage reasons to be off. I’d take people’s reasons for calling in sick with a pinch of salt they could have tripped over their own legs and felt that they needed extra justification like there was a dodgy step. Just like I’m sure people have had diarrhoea I’m not sure anyone’s ever given that as the reason they’re not coming in!

        5. Sacred Ground*

          12 days of sick/vacation time treated the same means that only healthy employees get to take vacations.

      2. Observer*

        Well, there are two issues here. One is a pattern of unreliability. The other is the alcohol thing. For that, you don’t need to wait for a pattern to emerge. A one-off is one thing. VERY widely spaced (eg years apart) incidents are also not that big of a deal – I can see someone forgetting how bad things can get. But, when you run into problems once, that should be enough of a flag to keep you from doing it a second time. So that changes things significantly.

        And, with the OP’s second addition, it’s even worse. The employee apparently drank even more than last time – which says that she’s just not thinking aobut the effects of her drinking.

    3. Taking The Long Way Round*

      2nd instance – yeah talk to them, but don’t call them a chaos muppet, that’s unfair!

      Also, I don’t know how it works in your company but isn’t PTO different to sick leave? If they’re ill do they have to use PTO and *not* sick leave? I would’ve thought hospitalisation counts as sick time, not PTO.

      What I’m saying is that someone who has used up all their PTO doesn’t sound irresponsible, they’re just using the benefits available to them. But if they’re having to use up PTO because they’ve no more sick leave left then that’s an issue that can be addressed too along with the out-of-work behaviour affecting work.

      1. Karyn*

        A lot of places have sick leave and PTO in one pool. And . . . they’ve been there less than a year. This is not a good start to their tenure at this job.

      2. Lilo*

        I have worked with a few people who could be described as “chaos Muppets” and I think it paints a pretty visceral reaction. Some people always seem to manage to create crises (and then bring it up to you when it is *just* too late for you to fix it easily).

        Using up all PTO, especially all sick leave, when comboed with sketchy circumstances, can be a problem.

        1. Sara M*

          Some of us chaos Muppets are highly functional people. We’re a lot of fun AND we manage our lives decently.

          1. Ellen*

            My husband… 99.9 percent of the time completely sober. 99% chaos muppet. God, I love him. Hard to work with, although everything got done on time. (We did work together)

        2. feministbookworm*

          the point of the whole chaos/order muppet thing was that both have good qualities and you need a good balance of both to have a functioning team/order/relationship. To quote the incomparable Dahlia Lithwick (in 2012):
          “Think about your basic Muppet workplaces: Be it “Pigs in Space,” Oscar’s garbage can, or producing a hit Broadway show in 19 hours, it’s always crucial to get the ratio of Order-to-Chaos exactly right. One possible explanation for the blossoming dysfunctionality of the current Supreme Court is that the Order Muppets have all but taken over. With exception of Justices Breyer and Antonin Scalia, the Order Muppets are running the show completely. (The jury is still out on whether Elena Kagan may prove a Chaos Muppet.) Remember the old rule of thumb: Too many Order Muppets means no cookies for anyone.”

          1. bossy*

            Haha. I love this. I know I’m a bit of a chaos Muppet, but I hadn’t really thought specifically about what this means as far as my role in getting the show off the ground :)

      3. Jessie the First (or second)*

        LW says the sick leave and vacation come from the same bucket – that means there is no separate sick leave. there is only PTO, 12 days at LW’s company, and you use those for both sick days and for vacation days.

        Some companies separate sick leave and PTO, and some don’t.

    4. Lilo*

      Yeah, sounds about right. Doesn’t sound like this person is going to make it. You can definitely address this as part of larger attendance issues. I would have a conversation and document it because, let’s be honest, you probably need to start working on your “get better or be fired” documentation. So record it all.

        1. I Work on a Hellmouth*

          I am a rubber ducky toting, cake baking chaos muppet. But just because I would consider being paid in cookies a reasonable proposition does not make me a bad-pattern-having coworker, I promise!

      1. I Work on a Hellmouth*

        Haha, I am a chaos muppet if we’re going by the Bert/Ernie dichotomy for sure. So everyone latching onto chaos muppet as a descriptor for “the office screw up” is hurting my sweet chaos muppet soul a little, lol.

    5. ssssssssssssssssssssssss*

      “chaos muppet.” Forget the expression “drama llama.” I’m using “chaos muppet” from now on!

    6. Empathy for Puppets*

      So I think relevant questions are, what do you want the outcome to be and how are you going to handle it?

      The additional information reads that this employee is a handful and that their behavior isn’t appreciated. Agreed a conversation about work expectations is necessary. Actually it’s important, because enforcement of clear boundaries is very meaningful in many different ways.

      But I caution and encourage you to have as much empathy as possible. That doesn’t mean bending rules, it’s how you deliver information. (As in referring to them as a chaos puppet…..comical, but you can do better.)

      What no one knows and what really can’t be controlled is what the “puppet” is thinking, their issues, their way of coping. A lot of misbehavior can be a mask for deeper issues. Alcohol SUCKS. This post reminds me of too many coworkers and family who have used alcohol to try and fill hole in their emptiness. Some did it discreetly, others were similar to the employee in your letter. And recently, we had a friend that lost the battle….being fired was appropriate from their behavior, dying from alcoholism……yeah, not a great outcome when you’re under 40. Could anything have been done different? Probably not. But it doesn’t make it suck any less.

    7. Sunshine*

      I would maybe suggest an EAP referral if you have it available to you. Getting injured / hospitalised due to drinking are two signs of a serious alcohol problem, especially coupled with other absences and chaotic behaviour. It’s not your job to fix this at all but at the same time it might be a kind thing to do. I would normally not suggest getting involved at all, especially due to ‘denial’ but I think – hope? – that two hospitalisations might cut through that denial a little.

    8. Allison*

      Yeah, that’s a lot of relevant details you left out! Second alcohol-related absence in less than a year, plus being out of PTO, does absolutely warrant a discussion.

    9. Falling Diphthong*

      The circumstances of some absences seem strange/improbable.

      I’m going to hope they are actually a spy, and you are their cover job that they have to miss for improbably secret missions.

      I like “chaos muppet” though. There’s a new Mission Impossible in here somewhere….

    10. mcr-red*

      Forget about the alcohol poisoning for a moment, I think you can talk to them about calling out too much since they’ve not even been at the company a year and are out of PTO. I’m not a manager, so I don’t know how to word it, but I’d think something along the lines of, “You’ve only been here 6 months (or whatever) you’ve already ran through your 2 weeks of PTO, and you’ve been unreliable in ways at work (I’m assuming they have been since you called them a chaos muppet) and you need to get it together” wouldn’t be out of line or honestly, unexpected.

      1. LW1*

        Yeah, I think this is the right approach. Thank you! This employee does good work so I would like to keep them and I hope we can have a productive conversation. I want it to go well!

        1. blackcat*

          As an employee, if I had burned through my PTO as a result of a medical condition (which addiction is), I’d be job hunting anyways.

          12 days total is super low. As others have said, one bout of the flu or a minor surgery and half of all PTO is gone.

          1. LW1*

            Now that I have heard more people chime in, I am agreeing that it is not as standard as I thought (I have only had three full time post college jobs and it seemed standard to me—clearly I need to get out more!). Unfortunately I am not high enough up in the company to change this policy but I can have some sympathy with it being difficult on employees.

      2. Lucille2*

        This is my thought as well. I wouldn’t focus on the reasons for the absence, IMO it’s treading into some territory that isn’t your place to address. Keeping this about reliability and performance issues would be my approach. However, I think it’s worth pointing the employee in the direction of an EAP. Even if the reasons for the absences weren’t known, just that they were impacting performance, EAP could be a valuable resource for the employee. And I think it sends the message that this is getting serious and could end up affecting their job, but LW wants to provide the opportunity to work things out before it’s too late.

        Others have mentioned a PIP. If a conversation hasn’t happened yet, that needs to occur before a PIP. A PIP shouldn’t come out of the blue from the employee’s perspective. Even if, as a manager, you think it’s an obvious next step, the employee may not see it that way.

    11. iglwif*

      Just popping in to say that my phone autocorrects “talk” to “y’all” EVERY TIME and I don’t always catch it either XD

    12. Temperance*

      This is exactly why I brought up “if it’s a habit”. That totally changes things, IMO, but I still think the problem is not that they messed up with booze and ended up in a hospital, but that they regularly mess up with booze.

    13. Susie Q*

      Yeah this would be very important to have in your OP. Because this really changes the dynamic of advice offered.

    14. Dr. Pepper*

      I still think you should approach this as a performance problem, and leave the alcohol out of it. Or at least leave any judgements or moralizing out of it. A matter of fact “you seem to be missing work because of drinking” would be fine in the larger context of “you’re missing too much work and this needs to change”, but the main focus should be the missed work. The pattern is that the employee is making poor choices (for reasons you do not know) and the result is missed work. Focus on the result, not the poor choices. If you focus on the alcohol aspect, you run the risk of muddying the waters over what the real problem is: missed work. If the employee doesn’t think they have a problem with alcohol, you telling them they do won’t change their mind. They’re going to get the message that you’re judging them and telling them to stop drinking, not that you need them to perform better.

      1. Anon Anon Anon*

        I would bring up the alcohol issue too, but approach it separately. 1) Too many absences, which is a performance issue. 2) You’ve admitted to harming yourself with alcohol. We’re concerned. How can we help? And make that conversation open ended because you don’t really know what’s going on there. Are they a problem drinker? Are they living with someone who pressures them to do this? Are they using alcohol to deal with another problem? I would give them a chance to open up about it and ask for help, then refer them to EAP or something appropriate, and treat it as a performance issue from then on. It’s not really the manager’s responsibility to intervene, but I would myself because I’m that kind of person.

        1. Scarlet*

          “You’ve admitted to harming yourself with alcohol.”

          Hum, no, actually, they didn’t. The “we’re concerned/can we help” talk would be appropriate if the employee had mentioned having alcohol problems. They didn’t, so I think an employer/manager bringing this up would be overstepping.

          Employers should be concerned with work performance and stay out of their employees’ private business.

        2. Dr. Pepper*

          Quite frankly the drinking is none of the employer’s business. And the “let us help you” angle is disingenuous at best because, well, do you *really* care? Really and truly? I’m guessing not. Like, if this person had flawless attendance and no performance issues, would you be pulling them aside to urge your help on them? Probably not. Unless you already have a longstanding personal relationship with the employee, just leave the whole intervention thing out. It’s not your job or your business to intercede there.

          What IS the employer’s business is the employee’s attendance and performance. Stick to that. If they ask for help, by all means direct them to resources like EAP, but if they don’t, stick to the performance issues.

  6. Lilo*

    Recording meetings at work is likely to not fly. If your boss does okay this, you need to announce and get consent from everyone in the room every time you record. So no one feels blindsided by being recorded. But the reality is that being recorded can put a muzzle on meetings. People will often be more blunt in a meeting than they would in a written fashion. For instance, I both write assessments and go to.meetings about them. My written assessments that go into files are very carefully worded (X document failed to meet requirements and revisions are required, Y work compiles with requirements and is accepted) whereas in a verbal conversation about an assessment I will be more likely to be blunt (X document is a mess and needs to be totally scrapped and redone). I would imagine nearly everyone does this.

    Personally, I also have to preserve certain files due to a legal mandate and there may be some question about whether a recorded conversation, no matter why it has been made, may discoverable, so that also open a can of worms.

    Definitely never, ever record anyone who isn’t aware of being recorded. But really, it will make people more guarded around you, which you don’t want. Find a different strategy.

    1. lyonite*

      Yeah, even if I understood you had a good reason, I would be uncomfortable being recorded in a meeting. And if it were to happen without my knowledge? That. . . would not go well. At all.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        There’s that saying that you shouldn’t put anything in an email that you wouldn’t want on the front page of the New York Times. If you’re recording meetings, then the same rule applies – you have to be careful about your wording – not just what you say, but how it could be interpreted in or out of context.

        University lectures are more of a public performance, although I’m curious how the law would regard recording questions and answers given by other students, even if the professor has given permission.

        1. Rock Prof*

          Not that this is relevant to the question at all, but at my university, part of the entrance paperwork they sign includes that they might be recorded in lectures.

          1. Lilo*

            Yeah If I attend a legal lecture, I would expect to be recorded and if a presenter I would prepare carefully and as a attendee not ask a sensitive question (If you have a sensitive question you approach presenter later). A small meeting with work colleagues? No. I would not expect to have to be as careful with word choice (people in my field are also generally pretty sweary in some contexts but not others).

    2. Screenwriter/Mom*

      Can I just offer a contrarian point of view? It might be super specific to my business (the movie business), but as a screenwriter, if I’m doing a brainstorming/notes session with a director and his production team, it is not at all uncommon to have the meeting recorded and then transcribed, so we all make sure we don’t miss anything, any good ideas, good suggestions, good lines of dialogue etc. You completely forget the machine is on during the meeting, it’s not at all inhibiting, and even though I take fast and copious notes, it’s still super useful for me writing my next draft to be able to have every single thought that was floated out at the meeting. And this is in a business where secrecy is paramount–scripts in development have highly limited distribution, and are coded across every page with the name of whoever is receiving it (so you can’t upload it), some projects and some companies have such high secrecy level that you’re not allowed to take scripts physically out of the building. But recording brainstorming sessions is so useful that no one blinks an eye.
      So I’d say it depends on the business, and the culture of the business, and how useful it is to have very detailed notes from any specific meeting.
      However, I can’t say strongly enough, everyone has to know they’re being recorded, and ideally, it’s a situation where it’s useful to everyone, and everyone gets a transcript afterwards. To just record it for yourself would only make sense if the meeting is about a project you’re spearheading.

    3. Ubergaladababa*

      As a lawyer, the idea of someone regularly recording meetings sets my hair on fire! Not because I expect our employees to say things that are problematic, but because it would be *such a mess* during discovery if we ever got sued. Plus, even totally innocent conversations can be taken out of context or sound very different 5 years later in the context of a lawsuit.

      1. Lilo*

        I worked government for a while and we had someone try to go after our case emails for a certain issue under FOIA. Thank goodness it fell under an exception because our internal work product was super informal and included one memorable email where a supervisor warned a new attorney that the opposing counsel was incompetent in very not nice terms. I learned a lot from that experience on which statements to keep out of writing.

        1. Anon for this one*

          Yes, we have a faculty member who is a train-wreck re hiring — anyone running a search tries very hard to keep them out of the loop as long as possible even though they are the hiring officer. Has no filter, says all sorts of borderline and over the line illegal things in email and in official reports. (We always respond promptly with some version of, “Dr. Z, I believe you mispoke when you wrote this email; perhaps you meant some-legal-version-of-what-was-said.”) Someday the university will be sued…

      2. Aveline*

        In the USA, in all party consent” states, it’s not legal to do so.

        In Cali, you have to either get express permission from everyone to do so or announce that you are recording at the start of each meeting (and each time someone new enters the room). You can be fined b/c it’s a misdemenor. More importantly, you open yourself up to civil damages.

        I was involved in a case with a school district once where this was not done when new people entered the room. [Ommited facts] happened and someone was financially hurt. The recording party was sued. They settled. But it cost them $$$$.

        The “this call is being recorded for quality assurance purposes” is because California law requires notice and then assumes implied consent if you continue. It’s easier for national companies to issue that warning to everyone than to just do it for the all party consent states. (There was a lawsuit on this and California won, so now it’s done). Both Amazon and Avvo are being investigated for this now. Apparently, they were not issuing warnings before recording customers. The state of Cali found out and was not well pleased.

      3. Andraste*

        Also a lawyer. I could see this being on if there was a protocol. If we think of this from the “how do we make this work for LW perspective rather than the no perspective. My first thought is that most well run meetings have a wrap up where key takeaways are reviewed and next steps assigned. This will be the most crucial part of the meeting, so perhaps LW could get an accommodation to record that part of the meeting only, so that at the end they will have assurance they didn’t miss something key, but the rest of the meeting the discussion was frank. Second thought is that LW should have the expectation to synthesize their notes immediately after the meeting then delete the recording. If it is deleted in the regular course of business/as part of protocol then that may help with potential future discovery issues.

        1. Jasnah*

          I like this compromise. Only need to announce the recording once, LW can focus on what was addressed at the end only, and people still feel free to speak frankly off the record.

      4. Kyrielle*

        I remember feeling bad for the team that had to go through my files related to $Client at a previous job because I had 1.5 GB of emails, documents, etc.

        I can’t IMAGINE if I had recordings, and those can’t be keyword-searched. At least most of the emails were irrelevant/redundant (emails about bug reports, every one of us would have had them, and they reflected information in a system also subject to discovery anyway) and easily classified as such.

      5. Bibliovore*

        I had a report who requested accommodation. She wanted to record all of our conversations, perhaps for the same reasons as OP. I said sure and HR said no. For all the lawyerly reasons above.

    4. Doodle*

      Right. Meeting: one hour of everyone free wheeling ideas, critiques. Meeting minutes: Discussed Llama Breeding project. Move forward on XY components of project, Jean-Luc will lead Z revisions, new deadline of March 15, 2019 for project.

    5. MLB*

      I would not want to be recorded in every meeting I attend. I don’t want to have to carefully choose my words (like I do when I write emails) every time I speak for fear of something coming back to bite me. I wonder if OP feels that she needs to write every single thing down when she attends a meeting. Unless she’s the one recording the minutes of the meeting, that’s completely unnecessary. I’d suggest using a laptop if she has one (I can type faster than I write and I have to look at the keys), and unless the job dictates it, only write down things that are relevant to her, such as things she’s responsible for following up on. She’s not in school anymore, and there won’t be a test at the end the quarter. She needs to find another way.

    6. Mbarr*

      My concern about recording work meetings falls into the realm of security.
      – At my previous tech company, Security would probably tackle you on the spot if you were caught recording anything. We worked in a competitive industry and occasionally info would get leaked to the press which damaged our competitiveness. It wouldn’t matter if you meant it innocuously – your recordings could be listened to by a roommate who was curious about what you were working on, etc.
      – At my current company, I work in the Finance department. What if the recordings or information got leaked there? It could impact our financial statements and share prices (e.g. The market finding out about a merger outside of an official press release).

    7. TheOtherLiz*

      Responding as a fellow person with ADD. I sympathize – many of my helpful accomodations in school didn’t translate into the work world, but good for you for still thinking how to keep them in place. It took me a few years to realize that I could, and SHOULD, implement old and new techniques that might look weird. For instance, I like to bring silly putty to long meetings, and do cross stitching during conference calls, to keep my hands active and do something creative so my mind won’t wander. Weird? It might sound that way to some, but I’ve explained to some coworkers why I do it. Some of them expect me to share my jar of putty with them in all staff meetings, and sit near me for that reason! So maybe this wouldn’t be too weird in some meetings, after all, if you explained WHY. But is there anyone taking meeting notes? At my workplace we almost always have a designated notetaker for team meetings and they circulate their notes by email and save them on our internal shared drive, too. I love having someone else’s detailed notes to help me recall things I forgot or didn’t capture in my notes. And as to the comment about your boss not being pleased about the playback time – that doesn’t fall in line with laws in the U.S. (if you are indeed in the U.S.) about accommodations, I don’t think. If you need reasonable accommodations, then you do. But also, you may need to be flexible in them – what worked in school might NOT always fly in the working world. For instance, I can’t ask my boss to remind me a couple of days before something is due in the way that a teacher might have. I have to find coping mechanisms to remind, and motivate, myself. You might find other creative methods. Is there a trusted colleague in the meetings who you could reach out to and ask you to help fill in gaps in your notes?

      1. A Very Smart Airhead*

        I also have ADHD. Where I work there’s usually a designated note-taker, and I try hard to pay attention and jot down things that are actual action items for me and not worry about getting every word down. As someone else mentions in another thread, it’s also not the end of the world if you ask someone to repeat themselves. Aside from that, if your workplace is anything like mine, others who have perfectly fine executive functioning aren’t necessarily remembering everything that was said in a meeting. It’s not like school where you might get tested later.

        You should also talk to your company’s HR or whomever handles disability accommodations, plus there are some interesting ideas on askjan.org, which has the added benefit of being something you can show your boss/HR if needed.

        TheOtherLiz: I used to have a cross-stitching app I used in conferences to help me listen to everything being said! I was blown away by how much it helped.

  7. Les G*

    Hey OP 2, it’s okay to ask people to repeat themselves if you didn’t catch it. Really. I could be wrong, but I have the sense that you’re reluctant to do so because you don’t want to Make It A Thing. But it’s normal and fine and nobody will notice.

    1. Adhd*

      Not OP but ADHD have. It’s not always the catching it in the moment that’s the problem. I’ll think in the moment that I heard and understood everything said, but then later I can’t remember exactly what was said when I’m going about doing the thing. It’s fine to ask people to explain again, for sure, but when it happens multiple times a week people are bound to get annoyed. it’s so much easier to have some kind of record to refer to in the first place.

      1. Margaery Moth*

        I’m glad other ADHD-havers are commenting here because I’m getting frustrated hearing people parrot the same assumption: that our brains basically work neurotypically, and we can just will them to do what we want if only we try hard enough.

        1. wittyrepartee*

          ADHD bretheren! Yeah, I agree with this statement. However, the OP does need to figure out another strategy. I used to trade off notes with my roommate/coworker when I needed to take notes in lectures as a TA.

          It might help to just practice only writing down actionable items or something like that. I also used to record the parts of meetings I missed. “And, something happened here that I don’t remember”

          1. one boring hapa*

            Yeah, I agree with this as a fellow ADHD-haver. I would really just look to see if someone else could also take notes and then compare afterwards — never know what someone else might have missed, ADHD or not. Sometimes meetings just move so fast that even normal people can’t keep up note wise.

      2. Hey Karma, Over Here*

        Would it be useful to learn shorthand to take down what everyone says? Or would that take you out of partipating in the meeting?

        1. irene adler*

          Learning shorthand to the degree where one can record a meeting in real time is a big task to undertake.

          In high school, I thought learning shorthand would be a good way to record class lectures. My Mom, who was well-versed in shorthand (as an executive secretary) explained that it would take a lot of time learning and practicing shorthand to get to the level needed to do this. I’d be out of high school before I’d be able to properly record the lectures.

        2. irene*

          i do not have adhd but i do have ASD with accompanying working memory and auditory processing difficulties. i have the same struggles listed above – i understand perfectly in the moment (or i think i do!) but ten minutes later looking at my notes, i left off a vital word or can’t remember what my summary meant. or i didn’t hear sentence 2 because i was still processing sentence 1. or the a/c system kicked on and the additional noise made it difficult to process speech at all.

          it isn’t feasible or necessary to produce a perfect transcription of the meeting, even in shorthand. i’ve tried to do that (and DID do it when i was in lectures in school) and ultimately got overwhelmed with the amount of unnecessary detail – i ended up prioritizing or focusing on the wrong things, because i was trying to get Everything down, not just the important parts. But, of course, if i don’t do a complete transcription, there’s a risk of losing the important parts anyway.

          a recording helps a lot because i can fill in the gaps in my notes without needing to transcribe garden path digressions – or i can go back and X out those digressions as i come across them with the benefit of hindsight and a recording to help identify where the digressions came in or exactly what they are.

          my solution for all of this is a crap solution, but in small meetings, i ask to summarize the main points afterwards and make sure i didn’t miss any Action Items. in larger meetings, i follow up with my closest/team coworkers afterward to make sure we’re all on the same page. my two closest team members and i all take different styles of notes, so this works really well for keeping us on the same page. (and it’s usually no more than 5 or 10 minutes, often we can do this while walking back to our floor) also, my boss supports my follow up/summary efforts because the more documentation we have about exactly what our decisions are, the better we can support our db users or defend our work.

          1. M. Albertine*

            This is not actually a crap solution. Ending meetings by listing action items and summarizing takeaways is a VERY good solution, one that all meeting participants should partake in, in my opinion.

            1. irene*

              you’re right: it’s not really a crap solution, because this benefits all of us in the subdepartment and ultimately our organization as a whole.

              but it feels like a crap solution to me because it often requires me to go back to my coworkers or boss multiple times as i flesh out details and realize “oh, wait, there’s another tiny thing that we talked about that i didn’t remember to follow-up on, and no one else thought to mention it”. i don’t know if someone with ADD/ADHD would experience it similarly, but i often can’t hold in my mind all 10 steps of a task to verify, especially not if the 10 steps can be from a pool of 20. so “run this report with that output” is great and actionable, but i often have to go back multiple times to verify A or B, or if C then D or E, and if E, do we want to revisit the A or B question.

              i haven’t figured out how to solve the constant questions, but we all know that my work is better and more comprehensive when i don’t make assumptions and do ask – plus, the questions lead to documentation of the choices made. unfortunately, checklists don’t work well for me (there are too many! and my disability means that i very often get mired in the checklist details, so the list ends up being overwhelming to use), and if i use a basic report building template, i will often rely *too* much on the template. i am learning to ask more detailed questions about literalness (when you say A, do you mean A in general or a specific subset of A, or is A shorthand for A+B), priorities/important takeaways, and intended use of the final product. but, of course, this requires me to remember all the options to ask for, and take detailed notes – which brings us back to the need to follow up and verify that i didn’t miss anything. :)

              so no, not a crap solution, but i still feel a bit less than competent and like if i figured out the secret trick, i’d be a lot more successful and less irritating to my team with all my follow-ups.

              1. SusanIvanova*

                Does your company have any sort of internal wiki or other way to post and edit team documents? Then you could put up the meeting notes and ask people to make corrections if needed, because everyone misses details in meetings sometimes.

            2. Green great dragon*

              I had a junior colleague who regularly finished meetings with very senior colleagues by saying ‘please excuse my dippiness but can you just summarise the next steps for me?’ I hate the phrasing but wow did it work. All those vague steers suddenly got clarified into concrete actions, and we all loved her for it.

              1. A Very Smart Airhead*

                I love it! I often say “what’s my takeaway?” when someone says something expecting me to have drawn some conclusion that just isn’t clicking.

          2. General Ginger*

            Irene, I also have auditory processing issues, and I also do the “can we summarize real quick” before we adjourn thing. I bet anything it’s helpful to more than just you. But yeah, it still doesn’t 100% catch everything, though it does make it easier for me to see where my gaps are and who might be the point person to ask for more info.

        3. Jasnah*

          Instead of learning an official shorthand, I would recommend any note-taking resources for interpreters. Interpreting requires a crazy powerful working memory and incredible audio processing ability, but there are lots of ways to support your memory with notes, and maybe these tricks will be helpful.

          For example, I was taught:
          – draw a line down the center of the page/small notebook, and write only on one side, then the other. Smaller columns makes more efficient use of space (less time flipping pages) and stops you from transcribing entire sentences.
          – after each sentence/thought/idea shared by a person/break where you would interpret, draw a horizontal line in your notes. This creates segments/sections so you know where to pick up from when interpreting, but also lets you separate who was speaking.
          – ideally as an interpreter you would write as little as possible, and save your precious writing time for things like numbers and key ideas.
          – it’s totally cool to be abstract with your shorthand, write in a mix of languages, symbols, and so on.

          So for example, if I were to interpret the first paragraph I wrote, my notes might look like this:
          X shorthand->interp
          -mem/aud proc //notes↑

      3. WellRed*

        This also happens to people without ADD. Especially when there’s a lot if information being given.

      4. I’m actually a squid*

        Thank you. I have mild ADHD but on my bad days my brain will dump information as it comes in. Like, I’ll be brainstorming with a colleague and suddenly realize I don’t know what they just said. I’m giving them my full attention but my brain doesn’t care. It’s embarrassing but fortunately my colleagues are understanding.

      5. boo bot*

        I also have ADHD, and honestly I find part of the problem for me is, when I’m listening to a meeting or presentation (rather than reading, say) my mind just wanders off – it’s not even that I think I’ve heard and understood everything in the moment, it’s more like, “Listening, listening listening… yeah, and then the unicorn could rescue the princess, except the unicorn should be a rhino, remember how manatees are the real mermaids? I should watch Planet Earth II again. Apocalypse. Wait. What? How did that happen?”

        Literally I think I’m super paying attention, and my mind just drifts away before I can stop it. Once I realize it, I won’t necessarily know how much I missed, so asking to repeat something in the moment isn’t really feasible.

        1. wittyrepartee*

          Hah! This is a problem for me too. I find knitting helps, but then people think I’m being inattentive.

          1. iglwif*

            I am also helped by knitting, and have also been spoken to for “not paying attention” or “not being engaged” during meetings … because I was knitting to help me focus.

            One of the best things about working remotely is that when I’m knitting during a conference call, NOBODY KNOWS.

            1. Jules the 3rd*

              oooooh – the ‘need a second task to keep my mind focused on people talking’ is an ADD trait?

              hmm, maybe I do need to talk to a pro about this.

              1. iglwif*

                I have not been diagnosed with ADHD — that is, I’ve never been evaluated, so I don’t know what such an evaluation would show — but talking to friends who *are* diagnosed suggests to me that it’s a definite possibility.

                However, I do have a diagnosed anxiety disorder and knitting (or otherwise keeping my hands busy, but knitting is the best and most constructive option I’ve found) is something I use to cope with that. So I don’t actually know.

              2. boo bot*

                Jules the 3rd, I think it might be, although I don’t know if it’s exclusive to ADD!

                I’ve always thought of the second task as “distracting the part of my brain that would otherwise be distracting me.” :)

                1. wickedtongue*

                  OH MAN, that’s exactly it, boo bot. If I don’t have something going on in the background (like music or some other media), my brain just can’t focus on the task at hand. It takes out the neverending commentary/judge-y, distract-y track going in my brain enough for me to do work.

                  I really gotta get tested.

                2. Jadelyn*

                  Yup. I’m giving Scatterbrain something to do so that Focused Me can pay attention.

                  I tend to go with silly putty – I actually use Crazy Aaron Thinking Putty because it’s pretty and I am a magpie for glitter and color – to keep my hands busy, or a fidget cube. Though with the cube you have to make sure you’re using only the non-noisy functions during a meeting.

                3. General Ginger*

                  Yep, this! I frequently doodle in meetings if I’m not actively taking notes, because that helps me focus.

              3. delta cat*

                I spent pretty much all of my school years, from elementary through grad school, feeling guilty because I doodled endlessly in class and studied in noisy environments. My grades were always excellent, and yet, everyone said that studying should be done in silence, and doodling is a distraction. I really thought I was failing to live up to my potential because of the rock music I never turned off, and the noisy coffee shops I preferred to the library, and the frogs and flowers and sailboats and rocketships that filled the margins of my notes.

                Then one of my professors in grad school spent some time talking about sensory processing and its impact on learning and specifically used background noise and doodling as examples of things some people use to help them focus, and it felt like a ten-ton weight was lifted off my shoulders.

                I now work in an office with pediatric occupational therapists and psychologists, who of course nod along when I tell this story. I tell it to families from time to time, too, sometimes as a funny story but occasionally with an emphasis on the very real sense of guilt and failure that I had because I had been convinced by conventional wisdom that I was Doing It Wrong. (I’m still vaguely embarrassed by the doodling, which … if anyone is going to understand why I do it, it’s the people I work with. But still.)

            2. TheOtherLiz*

              +1 for knitting during conference calls! I bring silly putty to meetings. It’s unobtrusive and I share with anyone who also wants a fidget. I think that fidget spinners created a wider acceptance for our desire to fidget, which is my hyperactive part of the ADHD – so much mental energy and if I can channel SOME of it into something easy with my hands, I free myself up to hone in on what I’m MEANT to be focused on. Doodling also works, as others mention. And if you get spoken to about paying attention, I don’t know about you, but I would point around the room to the 90% of people who are on their phones, emailing other people in the room or reading twitter. And say, actually this helps me focus and avoid the temptation to look at my phone.

            3. Jennifer Thneed*

              I have avoided that by being OBVIOUSLY engaged — put down the knitting to jot down a note, ask lots of questions while knitting, etc. It’s hard for people to claim y0u’re not paying attention when you can look them right in the eye while knitting a row.

              (But yeah. Too often it’s doodles, so many doodles.)

          2. boo bot*

            Yeah, I haven’t found anything that’s a sufficiently discreet substitute. I don’t draw or doodle, and I’ve not found it to be something I can learn, and most other things either don’t take up the right part of my brain (fidget thingies) or make it seem like I’m not listening (coloring books, solitaire, sewing).

            1. Matilda Jefferies*

              I have a colouring notebook, and it’s the best thing ever! Mostly lined pages for notes, with flowers in the corners for colouring. I haven’t figured out drawing or doodling either, so this works brilliantly for me.

            2. tangerineRose*

              Can you try drawing vague shapes on your notepad and then maybe adding faces to the shapes? That’s sort of doodling.

            3. Jennifer Thneed*

              Not sure what you think doodling is? I often doodle by making little squares down the left side of the page, where the top and bottom are the printed lines, and then I add the left and right sides. And then I make another, sometimes skipping a line. And then I add curls, like big parentheses, on each side of the boxes. And then I link each curl to the next with an angle-bracket.

              Sometimes I draw little bubbles to make squares. I also draw arrows between notes that I see a relationship, or make them point to a questi0n I want to ask. Sometimes I do counting hash-marks, where you count IIII and then put a / across them all … as neatly as possible. (Sometimes I am actually counting something when I do that.)

        2. MsChanandlerBong*

          I need to save your description for the next time my husband doesn’t understand how my brain works. I’ve tried to explain before using the symphony as an example. “When we go to the symphony, what goes on in your brain while they are playing?” My husband says he listens to the music. I tell him, “Right. But my brain starts out listening to music and quickly transitions into thinking about the time I lost the regional spelling bee in sixth grade, coming up with good comebacks for mean things people said to me ten years ago, wondering what my friends are doing, thinking about something I could have done better at work, remembering a disagreement with a friend or colleague.” I LOVE music, and I want nothing more than to just pay attention and listen, but there are a bunch of monkeys inside my head, and they’re all throwing poop at each other.

          1. CynicallySweet*

            +1000. My poor bf is constantly explaining what’s going on in TV shows b/c I can’t pay attention and then loose track of what’s going on

            1. Marissa*

              I always have to leave captions on for that reason! The words stay on the screen long enough to make up for my momentary lapses of attention.

          2. Jadelyn*

            I once “narrated” my thoughts out loud to my partner for like 60 seconds to illustrate what I meant re my wild chatterbrain. I have a habit of knocking over drinks and food because I set them down, and then as soon as they leave my hand I forget they’re there and forget to be careful and knock them over a few seconds later, and he was getting frustrated with it. I tried to explain that it’s literally that my brain doesn’t have enough buffer space to hold on to things like “the position of the glass I put down a moment ago” – if it’s not actively in my hand I’m not thinking about it and it gets dumped out of the buffer to make room for all the other million incoming thoughts going on. He…I won’t say he actively didn’t believe me, but I could see he wasn’t getting it and didn’t understand how that was possible.

            So I said, “Okay, start a one-minute timer. I’m going to try to dump out everything that’s going on in my brain during that time.” And I literally couldn’t talk fast enough! I had words tumbling over each other and winding down random vaguely-connected trains of thought, skipping between two or three tracks – there was the track sparked by being hungry and thinking about what to do for lunch, and another track sparked by a car I saw driving by, and another track based on trying to problem-solve my current story’s plot, and all three of those had their own branching-off points into other random stuff.

            When I stopped, I looked over at him – I’d been looking out the window the whole time – and he had this half-amused, half-horrified look on his face. He said “Really?” I said, “Yeah. Only that was actually slowed-down a little bit and separated out, since I can’t talk as fast as I think and I can only say one thing at a time. Normally it’s happening even faster and more overlapping than that. And what you just heard for one minute? That is the background noise of my life all the time. It never stops. So when I tell you I don’t have enough buffer space to hold on to spatial positioning of objects around me, it’s because I’m trying to process all of this other junk. It’s not that I just don’t care whether I knock stuff over or not. I literally don’t have enough room in my brain for everything.”

            I won’t say he never again got frustrated about me knocking stuff over, but it got a lot less worse and he’s a lot more understanding now when I say I’ve got brainweasels and ask for him to help distract me.

            1. General Ginger*

              As a fellow brainweasels haver — massive kudos to you for actually demonstrating it to your partner (and I’m so glad your partner is understanding).

              1. Jadelyn*

                Thanks! Yeah, it’s taken time, but we’ve both learned to adapt to each other’s Stuff. #relationshipgoals :)

            2. CynicallySweet*

              My SO lives in fear of the phrase “I put it somewhere special” b/c I immediately forget where I stuck it. Also, it’s good to know I’m not the only one constantly knocking things over b/c I don’t remember where I put stuff!

              1. Jadelyn*

                Definitely not just you! At one point my partner (prior this demo I was talking about) made a semi-snarky comment about it after I almost knocked something over while we were at my mom’s house, and my mom said “Yeah, when she was growing up we had to use placemats that had outlines and labels for where everything was supposed to go, since if the glass was in the same place every meal she eventually learned not to knock it over – but without that, yeah. She’s always been like this.” Which was…you know, kind of embarrassing, but also kinda vindicating. I’m not just being careless! My brain has just literally never been able to do this one skill!

            3. A Very Smart Airhead*

              + ten billion. I love this! I’m definitely going to do this the next time someone tells me I’m spacy/scatterbrained/whatever.

          3. TheOtherLiz*

            I am STEALING this so hard. Also…….. is that true? Do neurotypical people really just…. just sit there and listen to the music? Even if there’s no words? I LOVE classical music, but like, there’s no words, so……. how could your mind not wander???

            1. Jennifer Thneed*

              Yeah, I love the classical radio station, and we’ve got good orchestras around here, but I don’t think I would actually enjoy a live concert because of that. (Happily, one of our local orchestras broadcast their performance live every Tuesday evening.)

        3. Autumnheart*

          Same here. My particular deficits are in remembering lists of items past 2 or 3 (so phone numbers, to-do lists, grocery lists, etc) and in staying mindfully attuned to a lengthy discussion. My brain just hits “delete without saving? Yes” regardless how critical the information is.

          Luckily, the company culture overall is in major “firehose of information” mode all year round, so there’s a lot of recaps, decks, and notes being taken and sent out for really important stuff.

      6. CynicallySweet*

        Yay for the ADD crowd here! I also have problems with this, though my issue usually stems from hyperfocusing on something being discussed and then realizing the next topic has already been started and I missed a bunch. My company has a designated person – who is good at paying attention – take notes which are then recirculated to everyone after they’re typed up. Maybe something like this would be possible? Or, just take a minute to look around and see if someone is taking really good notes and asking if maybe you could look at them after the meeting?

        1. Kaybee*

          My office does the same thing with a designated note-taker because it’s hard to be fully engaged and contributing to the meeting while also making sure you’re taking impeccable notes.

      7. Matilda Jefferies*

        I also have ADHD! We really need to start a club. :)

        OP2, one thing to remember is that work meetings are not like your classes in school – you’re not expected to remember every single thing that was said, and there is no test later. Also, there’s a good chance that there’s someone else in the room whose job it is to take notes. So don’t worry about trying to capture every word. Do what you need to stay focused on the conversation as a whole, and only make notes about things that you will need to act on after the meeting. (That will also help keep your questions focused – if you missed the discussion about topic A but you’re there to discuss topic B, you don’t need to ask anyone to repeat it.)

        1. Matilda Jefferies*

          Another thing I like to do is embrace the ADHD. Assume I’m going to be unfocused, and work with it rather than trying to fight it. So in addition to the colouring notebook I mentioned above, I have a system when I’m taking notes in meetings – the right side of the page is for meeting notes, and the left side is for grocery lists or haikus or whatever random unrelated things I come up with.

          It doesn’t do me any good to sternly tell myself that I need to focus – my brain *will* wander off, so I figure it’s best to let it happen and come back, rather than fighting with it all the time.

          1. TheOtherLiz*

            YES yes yes. I used to have a Monday 9:30 meeting and I loved it because I could pay attention while also filling out my schedule in my paper planner. It was a lovely ritual. Then they moved the meetings… sigh.

    2. Not Maeby But Surely*

      I agree, totally okay to ask people to repeat themselves. Also, nothing wrong with comparing notes with another employee or two after the meeting to see if any of you picked up on something the others missed.

      1. TootsNYC*

        and nothing wrong with going to a coworker two days later and saying, “I’ve forgotten what Phil said about that project. Do you remember?”

  8. Doctor Schmoctor*

    #3 The interviewer is an idiot. Your answer sounded like a very reasonable one to me. It sounds like she’s on a power trip. Sad.

    1. Crystal Mountain*

      I LOL’d at this because it just happened to me – I was asked why I wanted to work at the company exactly three times.

      I hung up the phone and felt like I dodged a bullet. I wonder if this is an interview tactic on a blog somewhere.

      1. irene adler*

        I had this happen at an in-person panel interview. Never experienced it before.

        Every time it was the HR person’s turn to ask a question, she would ask me why I wanted to leave my current position. Every time. Didn’t matter what topic the just prior question was about. Each time I gave the “looking for a growing company with more opportunities” line. Their opening words were to the effect that they were experiencing growth and would expect to do so for quite some time. So I thought, perfect fit for me!

        At the fifth time she asked this, I looked at the other interviewers. They didn’t seem affected that she was asking the same question yet again. So I figured something was up.

        1. MassMatt*

          Wow. I would ask why they kept asking the same question. Was my answer not complete, or understandable? Are you not believing the answer? This would probably deep six the interview but I’d not seriously consider working there after being asked the same question 5 times.

          It sounds like maybe they are expecting you to break down sobbing and confess a “real” reason like a witness being cross examined on Perry Mason.

      2. General Ginger*

        Maybe it’s some kind of ritual. Lots of cultures/religious traditions have a “do/say this thing three times to show sincerity and devotion”.

        …but it’s more likely some crappy tactic from a blog, like you say.

    2. MusicWithRocksInIt*

      It sounds to me like she wanted some kind of “Because your company is the dream – it is the best company I have ever heard of and I have longed to work here since I was a little girl”. It always annoys me when interviews act like you should want to work there because of a driving passion for making widgets and not the more realistic I need to get paid so I can live my life and your company seems to suck less than most others that were on indeed that day.

        1. Alianora*

          MusicWithRocksInIt’s comment is the dream. It is the best comment I have ever heard of and I have longed to read it since I was a little girl.

      1. SusanIvanova*

        Speaking as someone who works at a company that’s a dream for a lot of people: you don’t have to ask the interviewee, they’ll tell you!

    3. Antilles*

      Your answer sounded like a very reasonable one to me.
      In fact, *either* of OP’s two answers would have been perfectly reasonable and acceptable: (1) “I was interested in the type of work they do, and that I was interested to find a position that used my skills in the field, it seemed like a great opportunity, etc” OR (2) “I knew someone with the company who was really happy there, and that I was interested in a company with a positive work culture and a focus on teamwork and collaboration, etc.”
      The fact that OP gave both of these reasons separately and it *still* wasn’t enough is super weird.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Yes, both answers are good. OP, you are normal; the interviewer had some weird “But surely everyone should know the champion answer to this is ‘two triangles by brie’ and be inspired to emit that answer if pressed” thing going on. Some managers marry their hobby horse. If this person is the gatekeeper to this job, then you’ll have to look somewhere less crazy.

        1. General Ginger*

          This reminds me of a music & solfeggio instructor I had years ago, who insisted that all our answers had to be direct quotes from our text. Paraphrasing was verboten.

          I still remember defining the term “coda” on a quiz, painstakingly reproducing the exact verbal definition, but not using the Mozart sonata cited in the book as my example. Got the whole question marked wrong based on the piece I cited being yes, a coda, but not the coda I should have referenced.

    4. Kaybee*

      This is pure conjecture, but the whole interview seems so pointless that I suspect that the company has a policy of giving courtesy interviews to those referred by current employees. And boy do some people have strong feelings about having to give courtesy interviews, though most I know manage to be professional and open-minded. My gut feeling (with no evidence whatsoever lol) is this interviewer isn’t a fan of that policy or the referring employee, so she “technically” did the job but in a way that let the candidate know she was displeased and the candidate wasn’t getting the job. If that were the case, there was no correct answer the LW could have given.

      Of course that may be trying too hard to provide a reason (albeit a bad one) for terrible behavior. Some people just suck.

    5. Fenchurch*

      A former room mate of mine had a similarly weird/off-putting phone screen with someone. She found out through a contact of hers that the screener was actually trying to sabotage interviewees because a friend of theirs also applied for the position. You just never know what’s going on behind the scenes.

      Side note: the saboteur was reprimanded and she was offered a second phone screen once this came to light.

  9. RG*

    I find the responses to #2 pretty interesting. In my experience (law and tech), people tend to be ok with recording a meeting. It hasn’t been a big deal to say “I’d like to record this meeting, is that all right with everyone?”

    1. Lilo*

      Weirdly my experience in law is the exact opposite. People are super careful about recorded/written communications versus informal ones.

    2. Mystery Bookworm*

      There may be a bit of ‘know your industry’ here, of course. I work in mental health, and not only would this request be flatly denied, it would also raise questions about the person’s ethics and professionalism.

      Given that law is also a protected field with serious ethics around confidentiality (although perhaps not to the extend of my field) I’m surprised to hear that recording requests are normal.

    3. Cat wrangler*

      I used to be a conference facilitator and one of the rules was no recording of the conferences (they could take written notes). I’m pretty sure that a lot of the participants were recording illicitly but I wouldn’t recommend it. There are likely to be legal consequences if recordings are discovered, not least losing your colleague’s trust. Maybe ask if the chair of the meeting can recap action points as they go along?

    4. TechWorker*

      I came here to say similar. For us internal meetings generally aren’t recorded but its super super common for meetings with certain other teams to be – so they can listen back to check they got all the technical detail. Alison’s 100% right that it does slightly change how people phrase things and how candid they are but depending on company culture/setup it might not be an issue. (Specifically for the case of people not wanting to look stupid because it’ll be recorded for posterity – I guess if the vast majority of people aren’t going to have time to look at the recording – they already did the meeting once – it’s probably not a big deal..)

    5. Violet Fox*

      Where I work recording meetings would be a very big deal. There are potential legal implications just for where the recordings are stored and how they are stored if someone mentions something in the meeting even remotely confidential.

      As an aside, a lot of folks also just don’t like or aren’t comfortable being recorded.

    6. Llamalawyer*

      As a lawyer, I would never advise a client that this was okay unless there was a very specific compelling reason. My first thought reading the OP is that the company’s lawyer would shoot that down in a heartbeat.

    7. Margaery Moth*

      I think law is the outlier here and OP wouldn’t have been asking if that was the case in their situation. Anything confidential would be an automatic no. I also don’t think it’s uncommon or inappropriate to record basic admin meetings at your everyday workplace.

    8. Damn it, Hardison!*

      My company has a policy that requires us to get permission from Legal to record any meeting. Not saying that everyone does it, but it is a policy that we are supposed to be following.

    9. cat socks*

      I’m in software development and 99% of my meetings are conference calls which can be recorded with our conferencing software. It’s not unusual for someone to say they want to record a meeting so they can refer back to it for notes or to send the recording to someone that is not there. The software we use also records anything a person shares on their desktop, so it’s helpful for training purposes.

      1. Susie Q*

        We do the same. However, we only record for specific meetings like technical demos that will be shared, etc. But for meetings about clients and sales strategies, we definitely do not.

    10. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      At least half of the meeting calls I’ve been on are recorded. There’s a red light that comes on in the meeting software indicating that, and additionally the organizer tells the attendees that the meeting is being recorded. But those are web meetings. I’ve never seen an in-person meeting being recorded.

    11. Long time fed*

      I’m a fed and this would be a no-go. The recording would become an official record subject to FOIA. No one would speak freely.

      1. Contracts Killer*

        I work for state government and was thinking the same thing. It wouldn’t even be about the contents of the tapes (though that would matter, too). We would have to categorize them, store them for the proper retention period, then remember they exist and determine if they are applicable when public record requests come through. It would be a records retention nightmare.

    12. Lora*

      Oh yikes no. In my field (biotech) we are typically talking about very proprietary, materially significant stuff (developing pipelines, novel technology, government approvals pending, plans for expansion or decommissioning) and anyone recording meetings would be suspected of attempted corporate espionage. Even within a company, in the context of a merger / acquisition process there can be fierce competition between departments or “this department will be eliminated but nobody has told them yet, but we need you to start transitioning their work anyway, very very quietly” sort of conversations that absolutely should not be recorded for any reason. And that’s in relatively healthy companies where people aren’t actively trying to backstab each other; in less healthy organizations it’s more common for not even one imperfectly-polished and fully approved communication of ANY kind to leave the group, much less the department, and recording a discussion would be seen as a real serious attempt to undermine tight control of communications.

    13. BelleMorte*

      My NPO is also no-recording. Specifically because anything recorded can be subject to legal review if *something* happens. Then every single person on the recording is subject to subpoenas and potential legal repercussions.

  10. Lissa*

    Ok so I know we have had way more egregious things written about here, even this week, but for whatever reason letter 3 activated my visceral rage in a way that rarely happens! Repeating a question because you weren’t giving her…something…but her not actually explaining what you were doing wrong, and then *hanging up*? What an absolute mean jerk!!

    1. Elmer Litzinger, spy*

      This “waiting for you to give the specific information I want/need without actually explicitly asking for it” shows up all over the place. I work at a hotel. People do this *all the time* when calling to ask about amenities, what is in the room, etc. They just say “anything else?” when you run down what each room has. So you dredge up something. ” Anything else? ” Now I just say “is there something specific you’re looking for?” They let out a huge martyred sigh and ask about what they’ve been hinting about.

      It’s like, lady, just ask if we have blu-ray players. Don’t expect me to read your mind and figure out what you’re asking.

      1. Antilles*

        In fact, to highlight how difficult it could be to mind-read, I personally wouldn’t actually consider “blu ray players” to be an amenity – unless it’s specifically a resort, I typically think of amenities as things outside the room like “indoor pool”, “sauna”, “in-hotel restaurant”, etc.

        1. Elmer Litzinger, spy*

          It can be both. Typically we refer to either in-room amenities or hotel amenities when using jargon amongst ourselves.

    2. irene adler*

      I’d be inclined to contact her boss and relate what happened. No reason for her to hang up. No reason to keep asking the same question multiple times without adding an explanation as to what she was looking for.
      If there was something wrong with the connection, then she should have said something to this effect. And then arranged to make contact later.

    3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      “No. WHY do you want to work here?”

      “Hmm, I am wondering that myself now. Maybe I don’t after all. Good-bye!”

    4. Skunk*

      Same! I kept thinking I HATE THIS INTERVIEWER as I was reading it lol. Not the most aggregious thing on this website by far but boy did it push my buttons.

  11. Madge*


    Whoever wrote that webform decided to order the options alphabetically, which is why it makes no sense.

  12. Jessalyn*

    LW3 Are you sure she could hear you? In my experience, most people don’t say Hello before hanging up if they can hear you. It’s usually when the connection is cutting in and out. So taking the most positive interpretation, maybe the answer made no sense because half of it was missing.

    1. Captain Vegetable (Crunch Crunch Crunch)*

      Yeah, the “Hello?” is confusing. But it could have been in a snotty tone, to indicate that the LW was missing the mark. On the other hand, hanging up and not calling back is pretty rude, so…. rude turtles all the way down?

      1. Shutdown and Out*

        Seems like the interviewer heard LW#3 the first time; didn’t she repeat the question after hearing the original question?

        I have a friend who will do something like this. Sometimes when I question her about something she’s explaining to me, she’ll just repeat the original answer. Over and over. Because it’s obvious to her (so why explain it further)? Yep, it’s a jerk (or jerking) move.

    2. LW3*

      I checked with my friend who works there – apparently there was some kind of issue with phone connection, which explains the hanging up. It was still a confusing experience and I don’t know why she didn’t say “I’m sorry, you’re breaking up,” or “I’m having trouble hearing you.”

      1. MusicWithRocksInIt*

        Are they going to reschedule it, or just shrugging and being all “No phone connection, it wasn’t meant to be.”?

      2. KRM*

        But in that case she should have immediately tried to call you back. Still coming down on the “no, this interviewer was the worst” side.

      3. Shawn*

        I don’t understand why she didn’t attempt to call you back if it truly was a connection issue. Sounds like she’s just a rude woman who probably saved you a lot of heartache from working for a company that would allow a woman like that to conduct their phone screenings.

    3. Jaclyn*

      From what LW3 wrote, they paused a moment to think, after being asked the question for the third time, and that’s when the snotty interviewer said “Hello?”

    4. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      She kept rejecting OP’s answers and saying, “No. Why do you want to work here?” I’m skeptical that there were connection issues. She said Hello because OP paused, not knowing what else to say to being asked the same question a third time.

    5. Goya de la Mancha*

      This was my thoughts too. The hello seems out of place from the whole conversation, but so does the “No,…” as it sounds like she heard the incorrect answer to what she was asking?

      1. Jessalyn*

        I work with a lot of people in India and sometimes we have odd silences because the connection temporarily decided not to transmit what people are saying. I could see that during an interview when people do pause before answering to think about what they want to say, that these silences could be interpreted as that and not that you missed half of the answer.

  13. Camille McKenzie*

    I hate people like that. I once worked with someone on a personal statement and she was enraged that I made a few changes to it. She repeatedly demanded to know “WHY?!” I had made the changes and no matter how many times I explained that I had simply wanted to put my own touches on my own essay, her only response was to ask “WHY?!”. It was very frustrating that she wouldn’t accept my explanation, nor clarify what she meant by continually asking me “WHY?!”.

    This woman should have specified what she meant, not kept asking you and then hung up. What a rude. . .fill in the blank.

  14. I work on a Hellmouth*

    OP #5: I am curious about the rest of the self evaluation. Did it, at any point in time, attempt to make “fetch” happen?

  15. mark132*

    @lw3 it’s almost like the interviewer was fishing (ineptly) for a specific answer. Maybe the correct “answer” was to “solve world hunger”. ;-)

    1. Allonge*

      That is what I was thinking – some weirdo company connected to worshipping the Great Teapot of Saturn and she was waiting for the secret phrase…

    2. Gazebo Slayer*

      I haaaaaate the “fishing for a specific answer thing. At one of my jobs I have a supervisor who does that about how I can get faster at my work; he shoots down every suggestion I make and just asked the question again. After a few rounds of this I lost my patience and directly called him on it: “What specific answer are you looking for?” (I admit I was very obviously upset). He still wouldn’t tell me, and I genuinely had no idea and still don’t.

      1. boo bot*

        I think “Is there a specific answer you’re looking for?” is actually the best and only response when someone does this.

    3. Fact & Fiction*

      I think she just needed to add “…and world peace!” to the end of her answer like in Miss Congeniality…

  16. Student*

    So I grew up in a teetotaling religion and my perceptions about alcohol use are sometimes a little weird, but being hospitalized for alcohol poisoning strikes me as the sort of thing that, regardless of other context, indicates an alcohol problem needing treatment. Am I off-base with that? It seems like a much bigger deal than waking up hung over and taking a sick day. I would expect my former government employer to ignore a hangover sick day but mandate a visit to the EAP people for an alcohol-related hospitalization, but maybe that’s because it was an environment with security clearances?

    1. Mystery Bookworm*

      Definitely a bigger deal than just a hangover, for sure. I think *mandating* a visit would be overstepping after only one incident. Offering support, and making sure that the employee knows it’s available, seems reasonable, however.

      Given the extra details OP added, it might make sense, but if it were truly a one-off, I think it’s fair to assume that the employee is an adult, is aware that this is a problem (you’re right that most people – even regular drinkers – would not feel casually about an alochol-related hospitalization) and is likely to seek their own help.

      But then, I lean hard towards the ‘your employees are not your family’ side of things, and I feel that we should generally default to assuming something won’t become a pattern (and that people can manage their own personal lives) unless we’ve seen evidence to the contrary.

    2. Akcipitrokulo*

      If it’s a one-off doesn’t necessarily indicate a problem… it can happen and sometimes people are more at risk if they have little experience of drinking and/or are young and/or with friends and/or celebrating something like a birthday… so by itself, nah, not something to worry about after they’ve recovered.

      When it’s a pattern ad OP clarified though, it’s definitely a concern.

    3. MK*

      In my experience, alcohol poisoning doesn’t always mean the person drank an absurd quantity; it can be an intolerance to a particular drink (two sips of vodka, literally two sips, can make me sick) or even a case of the bar serving bad liquor (this actually used to be common when I was a student 20 years ago, though I don’t hear of any cases now).

      1. Mystery Bookworm*

        That reminds me that one of my high school peers was hospitalized after beers with friends. No one else in the group was even drunk and he was stumbling and incoherent. It turned out not to be excessive drinking, but a previously undiagnosed kidney problem.

        1. Yvette*

          Yes!! I remember in health class in high school the teacher was talking about a friend in college (drinking age 18 back then) who got teased for being a real lightweight, cheap date, couldn’t hold her booze etc. I forget under what circumstances but the friend found out he (or she can’t remember) had been born with only one kidney.

      2. Anon Anon Anon*

        Or an interaction with a medication, or drinking on an empty stomach. Often, there’s social pressure to drink standard amounts even if you just started a new medication, and that can have bad results. Even OTC meds can interact badly with alcohol. People don’t always realize that. Or being dehydrated from working out, crying, hot and dry weather, health issues that the person might not be aware of. There are so many factors there. Alcohol is actually a pretty toxic drug.

    4. Bagpuss*

      I don’t think it necessarily indicates an alcohol abuse issue. It can be that the person is not used to drinking.

      My brother went to a music festival with some friends when he was around 18 . One member of the group came from a fairly strict family and has no experience of drinking, and decided that his first time away from home was the opportunity he had been waiting for to try it. He tried vodka.
      Fortunately fortunately for Friend, my brother found him, and realised he was not just drunk or lazy, and probably saved his life. Friend wound up getting his stomach pumped and spending the night in hospital.

      I think LWs further info in the comments that this is the second alcohol related absence does suggest that there is more of an issue here, but I wouldn’t assume that a one-off hospital admission was proof of a serious problem, as it might equally be an error of judgment or lack of knowledge

    5. Knitting Cat Lady*

      You’re a bit off base about the alcohol problem thing.

      My experience why people end up hospitalized for alcohol poisoning:
      1. Inexperienced drinkers, who drink a large quantity in a short time, not realizing that alcohol takes some time to hit the system. Or who don’t know their tolerance yet.
      2. Spiking of drinks. Usually for nefarious purposes.* Or as a ‘prank’.

      Commonly the people who have an alcohol problem actually *don’t* get alcohol poisoning due to conditioning.

      *The 15 year old son of acquaintances was home alone over night. To impress a girl he threw a party. A lot more people than he invited showed up. Some older youths filled him up with vodka and locked him in a closet. Then they and some others stole everything that wasn’t nailed down and trashed the rest.
      Alcohol is also the most common date rape drug. You can’t taste a shot of vodka in a pint of beer…

    6. Asenath*

      It depends on the age and experience of the patient and the situation in which the drinking takes place. Young, inexperienced drinkers are known to be at risk for alcohol poisoning because they don’t understand their limits and/or they’re sometimes drinking in social setting in which there is a lot of peer pressure that encourages excessive drinking. Such a person may not need treatment for alcoholism or addiction in addition to treatment for that particular incident of alcohol poisoning. At the other extreme, some people who are severely addicted to alcohol will also drink to the point of requiring hospitalization – but at that stage, they probably aren’t functioning well enough to hold down a job with an employer who can sent them to EAP. Or they will already have been referred there.

    7. LGC*

      Strictly speaking: you’re absolutely right. It’s pretty difficult to drink so much you get alcohol poisoning (as in, you can’t just have a couple of drinks as an adult and then whoops you’re in the hospital getting your stomach pumped).

      But as others have said, while it’s concerning, this incident on its own isn’t an EAP or disciplinary matter. If the employee regularly showed up hung over on Mondays or they worked in a field where substance abuse would be especially major (like medicine or a field like yours), the advice might change. Based off of what LW1 wrote, though, it reads to me as not quite the LW’S business yet.

    8. Sunshine*

      I think suggesting EAP would be good. Mandating would be heavy handed. You’re not off base. Being hospitalised is a big deal. It doesn’t necessarily equal alcohol addiction; but it can mean alcohol abuse or other problems that need addressing.

    9. EventPlannerGal*

      No, one incident doesn’t necessarily indicate a problem.

      1. People can have very individual reactions to specific types of alcohol; I like vodka and am used to drinking a lot of it on nights out with no problem and only a moderate hangover. At one party there was none so I decided I would substitute tequila; I actually drank much less than I would normally and it was still one of the worst experiences of my life. I have a three-hour gap in my memory and couldn’t keep down water without throwing up for day and a half. Luckily I was with friends but I could easily imagine someone calling an ambulance at the time – and you don’t necessarily know which ones are going to be a problem until it’s too late!

      2. People can be pressured into drinking more than they actually want to by friends and so on.

      3. If it’s a one-off, it’s possible it wasn’t their decision at all. People think of spiking as involving drugs like Rohypnol or roofies, but it’s quite common for predators to “spike” drinks by just adding much, much more alcohol than the drinker asked for – and they do that because they know it’s pretty much impossible to prove.

    10. Jennifer*

      It could be or it could be that they just went all out bc it’s a special occasion. I think at this point it’s MYOB territory.

    11. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Could be indicative of a problem, or it could be someone who tried alcohol for the first time and did not know how to handle it. Does not sound from OP’s explanation that it’s the latter, though.

    12. iglwif*

      IME (but my experience isn’t all that extensive, so YMMV!!), people who get alcohol poisoning often (a) are very inexperienced drinkers who don’t know when to stop, and/or (b) didn’t know what they were drinking — vodka mixed with something sweet is super bad for this because it’s hard to taste. So … not necessarily?

      But it sounds from the follow-up comments like this isn’t the first time this employee has had an alcohol-related … incident … so that changes the picture quite a bit.

    13. Roscoe*

      You are possibly off base. I have a buddy who I had to call the ambulance for him at his bachelor party, because he had more than he could handle. I’m sure those of us in attendance feeding him shots didn’t help. But I’d say he far from has an alcohol problem. He just went too hard one day.

      Here is an example. If someone for whatever reason eats too much and they aren’t feeling well the next day, and it only happens once, would you say they have an overeating problem? Probably not. You would likely say they went overboard one day, paid the price, and learned from it. Alcohol poisoning is like that, and often time going to the hospital is precautionary because others aren’t sure what may happen

      It is more than a hangover, yes. Does it need “treatment” after one instance? No, not in my opinion. It CAN be a sign of things to come, or it could be a one off, I screwed up momemnt

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        I have an example like it too; my own father. He was an A-type, overachiever, who’d graduated from both school and college with straight As, and continued to be that type for the rest of his life (he lived to be 75). I never saw him touch alcohol in the 45 years I knew him. But he told us about how, after the final exams of his first semester in college (which of course he got straight As for), he and a roommate decided to celebrate by a night of wild drinking in their dorm room. He’d just turned 17 and neither of them had ever had alcohol before. Of course, they went with vodka as their drink of choice. Both got really sick, spent all night throwing up, and vowed never to drink again. Cannot say about the roommate, but my dad never did (which made both my teenage years, and the family holiday dinners when I was an adult, pretty annoying). Admittedly, they didn’t check into a hospital, but I’m guessing that’s because that was not done in the 1950s; or they were so inexperienced that they didn’t know they needed medical help.

        OTOH, the few close people in my life who really did have a serious drinking problem, never got alcohol poisoning. Their bodies could handle large amounts of alcohol better, which was one of the reasons why they had developed the drinking problem in the first place.

    14. Indie*

      It depends. I was friends with a semi-functional alcoholic years ago and she had a few hospitilisations due to injury and poisoning and she was fairly unreliable at work. Then again, one time I agreed to get literally two wine and sodas and was super careful about watering down because I had to work a shift the next day, but I ended up being carried home unconscious. No idea if I carried on drinking or if I was spiked. Other times it is people don’t drink much, so they are unused to it and that can be severe. Or it is a type of drink; three gins would have taken me down hard while an entire night of vodka would be fine. Because of the uninhibiting effects, often one drink takes itself another as the Irish say (so you learn not to do that). While the police say it is impossible to accurately predict alcohol’s effects on the body when they are talking about driving. Being tired, ill or run down make getting drunk easier.

  17. Akcipitrokulo*

    OP2 – I wonder if you’re trying to capture too much in your notes?

    Sometimes in school or further education there’s the convention of note-taking being “write down everything”. This is almost definitely not what is needed here (unless you are the minute-taker, in which case a conversation with boss about why someone without your condition would be better could be in order).

    But if you’re just attending – you don’t need to capture everything on paper.

    And the things you do need to capture can be very much *notes* not an exact record.

    So don’t try to write:
    “Henry told Klinger to knock that shit off or he’s take away his dresses again and asked me to order 200 more packets of masks”

    “+200 masks”.

    You only need reminders.

    1. Mystery Bookworm*

      Piggy-backing on this, I often find it helps to make a list of ‘action items’ after a meeting, which you can then forward over to your boss or the project lead, just to confirm what you’ll be working on moving forward.

      People will sometimes (not always, but often) ping you back if you’ve missed something.

      1. Just Another Techie*

        Yes. Fellow ADHD haver here. It was crucial for me to learn what needed to be recorded and what didn’t. Once I trained myself (and to be clear, this wasn’t a read a self help article and be done in a day thing. For me it took about a year of practice on-the-job with twice weekly meetings, and checking in with my boss at every one-on-one to really retrain my brain). Anyway, once I trained myself how to take notes that I can be confident in, life got so much better. It’s not easy, but it can be done, and you’ll reap rewards for the rest of your work life.

        1. CynicallySweet*

          Kinda non-sequester, but reading this makes me so grateful for my 9th grade English teacher. She was a hawk – and to be honest I hated her at the time – she did things like make you copy notes she took at the beginning of the year so you knew what they should look like and then would grade your notebook to make sure you’re correctly taking notes for the rest of the year. At the time I thought this was brutally unfair – they were our notebooks! – but I’m a so much better note taker because of it.

          Side note b/c I feel like she doesn’t get enough credit – she got a lot, but still not enough IMO – she used to make us memorize the Greek and Latin sub and pre fixes for all our vocab words. 2 years out of high school I was having some tough times in college, so my folks sent me to do some neuro testing to see what I was good at (my sisters private school had referred her there and they got a discount for the 2nd kid). Public school education and out of subject pool of mostly private school kids destined for Ivy leagues I was in the 95th percentile for vocabulary. The researchers were totally blown away. Probably lost most of that by now, but at the time it was really cool. So shout out to an awesome teacher who I’m not going to name b/c this site keeps ppl autonomous!

    2. Mary*

      Yes, my impression was also that LW2 might be overestimating the importance of recording everything. LW, how structured are your notes? Do you try and record everything or just actions for you and relevant and important information? I would chat with your boss about this before you ask to record things.

      The other thing that happens when you’re new is that you try to write everything down because *everything* is new information, and you don’t have any filter yet to sort out what is going to be important and relevant. You will probably start to find soon that 50% of what’s discussed in a meeting is all familiar stuff that you don’t need to write down, 25% is important new information which you need to be aware of but doesn’t directly affect your work, 15% of stuff is new but not relevant to you, and only 10% is new, important and relevant. (statistics pulled out of my arse, but generally speaking I only have 2-3 actions and 2-3 notes of important information out of a one-hour meeting.)

      Once you’re feeling more confident about what’s relevant and important, it also gets easier to follow up with people if your notes are unclear or incomplete. You can’t capture everything, but you can call Jane and say, “So sorry, I have a note from our meeting last week about the supplies of gold paint, but I can’t remember exactly what you said! Can I just check, because I’m planning next month’s production.” Lots of stuff in meetings isn’t “you should remember every word of this” and more “here is the general gist of a thing I’m doing so you’re all aware, get in touch / refer people to me if you want more info.”

    3. Doctor Schmoctor*

      If I just wrote “+200 masks” I guarantee you 10 minutes later I will have no idea what it means.
      Short notes like that never work for me.

      1. Asenath*

        I find a combination of short notes, written out in detail by the next morning at the latest, works for me – and I take minutes at many meetings I attend. Taking the short notes keeps me focused and act as a reminder, but expanding on my notes helps me avoid staring at them blankly a week later and wondering what I meant when I wrote them! In my workplace, some people do record meetings – with the consent of those present – but picking out the essential points during the meeting and expanding on them afterwards works better for me.

        1. Editrix*

          Seconding this. The sooner you can go through the notes after the meeting, the better, while the notes you have taken still have a chance of jogging your memory – if you have time to do so immediately afterwards, that’s best of all.

          As an aside, I find my original, handwritten notes, scrawls, doodles and all, are better at jogging memories than the clean typed version, so I always keep my original script, but YMMV.

      2. Akcipitrokulo*

        Yep… just an example but tailor to what you’ll understand an hour later!

        Main point is in meetings it’s hugely rare to need to record evwrything that is said, and trying to do so could be undue pressure

    4. Mookie*

      Yep. Writing highlights, especially if I’m using my own words to test if I’ve got a grip on what is being said and I’m following along, greatly improves my recall when I’m feeling inordinately inattentive or overwhelmed by other stimuli.

      1. LW2*

        This reply was actually helpful and I will try and make my notes more concise. I posted a comment a few minutes ago but since this is my first job from university to work force it may just be a learning curve. University notes tend to be more detailed and my courses almost never had tests we always had to submit papers as assignments so taking detailed notes was key because you’d need it for your papers.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Yep, the note-taking you do for work is VERY different than note-taking in school. Unless you’re actually charged with being the official note-taker for the meeting, you only need notes on action items for yourself, most of the time. So a one-hour meeting could easily produce just three lines of notes.

        2. Akcipitrokulo*

          Yeah, it is so different!

          Also if there is a decent agenda/actions posted afterwards they may help too. Some people find printing off the agenda with a few line breaks added between each point is a good place to jot down reminders relevant to that discussion point.

        3. Snark*

          You don’t need detailed notes; you’ll never be tested on any of this. You need action items (future meetings, decisions reached, major takeaways, items you need to follow up with people on) and particulars (critical dates and deadlines, phone numbers, emails). If you’re just noting down what everyone is saying and everything that’s happening, that’s a waste of effort.

    5. Margaery Moth*

      I’d really like to stress that for a lot of people with ADHD, audio processing is very difficult and none of these suggestions will be helpful. The problem is not with the methods OP uses to take notes…let’s assume if they’ve made it this far, they’ve learned coping techniques for note taking. I’m not sure how to explain this to a neurotypical person, but in a meeting situation, especially with many people talking, the brain will just fully blank on certain pieces of information as it processes others. The ADHD brain moves too fast, and it’s really disorganized…so whereas you’re going “okay chose this thing to write down,” their brain is going “my mind didn’t even pick up on that because I was inadvertently thinking about that Jane said…” Once you realize you’re stuck thinking about Jane, Tom’s conversation is long gone, and it seems like you’re a flake if you ask Tom to repeat himself again and again due to the fact that you’re a visual/kinetic learner. I do agree some confidential meetings, and meetings in certain fields, cannot be recorded. But in a typical office, assuming the OP is an admin or project manager or lab assistant, if the recording is only ever heard by one person, for one day, and never leaves the location, I don’t see an issue beyond coworkers discomfort with being on tape and I’m not sure that takes priority over OPs disability.

      1. Mary*

        >>let’s assume if they’ve made it this far, they’ve learned coping techniques for note taking

        Is that really a reasonable assumption? I didn’t learn to take useful notes until well in my late twenties, and I adopted the system I use now in my mid-thirties! Note-taking is a skill, and I don’t think a bit of reflection on the difference between taking notes at university and taking notes in a work setting is unwarranted?

      2. LW2*

        Yep, audio processing can be quite difficult especially in certain classes I had where the lecture often flipped back and forth from the professor speaking, to extrapolating a point in the textbook/book, to opening up a discussion, etc. I did have a tendency to get stuck and then it made it hard to circle back. Like I stated in a few comments hopefully this is more learning curve and generally stress about wanting to do well in my first job and making sure I am doing my best than my ADD but time will tell with that.

        1. Turtle Candle*

          The learning curve element here is huge, because notes for school are very much unlike notes for work. Like, in college, I could easily take 3-6 pages of notes for a single hourlong lecture. At work meetings, I basically never take more than half a page… and sometimes basically nothing.

          When I was fresh out of university, I started taking notes the way I always had, which meant stuff like “Ray updated us that he was still working on the Arglefrargle account’s onboarding. Jules asked Ray whether they’d had any issues implementing the dinglehopper because she has a dinglehopper case next week, and Ray said it went smoothly once they remembered that to implement the dinglehopper on Windows XP systems you have to first reticulate the splines. [Blah blah blah blah in this vein.] Shelley asked me to follow up with QA on approved dinglehopper platforms. [Blah blah blah more in this vein.]” This was particularly bad in brainstorming and feedback sessions, where I’d write down a whole bunch of back and forth whereas really all that mattered was the final decision.

          With time and practice, though, I realized that I wasn’t actually using 95% of these notes. Now my notes for the same meeting would be “Ask about approved dinglehopper platforms & follow up with Shelley,” and possibly also “When implementing dinglehoppers on Windows XP, need to reticulate splines,” if that was something I didn’t already know.

          One trick that helped me figure this out was that I started highlighting info from my notes when I completed a task or referenced a thing. That helped it pop out to me exactly what I needed from them (action items, and pertinent information that I don’t already know and can’t necessarily easily look up–if I know I can look something up in the internal documentation pretty easily, I just do that). After a while, my notes got smaller and smaller, and now they’re pretty much just the ‘highlights.’

        2. TheOtherLiz*

          I also have found personally that many coping mechanisms have a short shelf life for my ADD self. Partly because routines take a long while to establish and one instance of interruption to dissolve. Partly because I get tired of keeping some up, or my brain just says “oh I know what this is, it’s not going to work anymore. I’m onto you.” I’ve come to accept this rather than feeling shame, and when I notice (with the help of therapy usually) that I’ve dropped a habit I just observe it and look for a new, exciting one to fill the same role, or consider picking it back up again.

      3. I work on a Hellmouth*

        The ADHD brain is also a liar that will sometimes fill in the blanks with stuff that wasn’t actually said. Always fun times when you’re trying to decide if you remember someone saying something or if you think you remember someone saying something…

        1. boo bot*

          LOL, I accidentally imagined a whole different ending to Battlestar Galactica and didn’t realize it until I had a conversation about it years later. Turns out I never actually watched the last few episodes, I just assumed I knew where it was going. Turns out I was wrong…

        2. callie in the northeast*

          Wow… I’ve caught myself with this and always wondered why? I sometimes will read things out loud to my husband and realize I’m also substituting words or adding adjectives, too. If I catch myself, I’ll correct it but sometimes, it’s only when I’m asked about it do I realize I’m doing it! Hmm..

          1. callie in the northeast*

            This was in reply to: *I work on a Hellmouth*

            > The ADHD brain is also a liar that will sometimes fill in the blanks with stuff that wasn’t actually said. Always fun times when you’re trying to decide if you remember someone saying something or if you think you remember someone saying something…<

          2. TheOtherLiz*

            Yes I catch myself embellishing stories for no reason. I have invented anecdotes from my parents, believed them wholeheartedly, and said “I was just thinking about that time you did this or that” and received blank stares from mom or dad. I remember in my ADD assessment test, being shown a drawing of an elephant and asked what was missing. I stared and STARED for ten minutes and couldn’t see a thing wrong. It was missing a tail. The psychologist told me that the ADD brain fills in the missing pieces of puzzles so it looks right. Elephants, Battlestar Galactica……… you name it.

      4. boo bot*

        Yes to Margaery Moth! Thank you :) The problem for me is, if I start evaluating what should or should not be written down, I will get hopelessly lost by the third sentence, because I’ll be running two parallel tracks in my head. (Or three, probably. One too many, anyway.)

        I’ve found two things that work for me, and I’m looking for another, because they both have problems:

        (1) I type everything that’s said, literally. I get near-verbatim notes, which I almost never have to refer back to, because I remember it all.

        (2) I’m on a lot of conference calls, and when that’s the case, I find that (for real) coloring in one of those adult coloring books distracts whatever part of my brain that wanders and I can pay attention, kind of like sending an annoying kid over to the corner with… a coloring book.

        (1) contributes to repetitive stress and also makes it harder for me to think independently and therefore participate, and (2) isn’t a good look in an in-person meeting, so, like I said, I need at least a third option.

        I think the key for me is, it has to be an automatic activity. The verbatim notes don’t require a separate thought process, and so it’s not hard to follow the meeting while typing. It may be that a very rigid structure would work if I could practice it until it became automatic, but I haven’t found anything. I’m not the OP, but suggestions would be most welcome!

        1. Colette*

          When I had a job where I was on a lot of conference calls, I played mindless games on my phone – otherwise I would see and email come in and start working on it and lose track of the call.

          In meetings now, I doodle on my notepad.

          (But I don’t have ADD, so I am not sure how helpful those techniques would be for the OP.

          1. Jessalyn*

            And for those doodlers who have bosses that don’t understand how doodling while on a call can help you stay focused, buy a Boogie Board tablet. It’s leaking keep a challenge board, but no chalk, and you can doodle to your heart’s content and then erase with one button when the boss walks by.

      5. PVR*

        Yes the LW may have learned note taking techniques that work in lectures… but lectures and meetings are 2 different beasts. By nature, everything in a lecture is going to be important. A meeting is often more collaborative and fluid. Not everything discussed is relavant. Many people have more difficulty with audial processing—I am neutotypical but have a strong preference for visual/kinetic type learning to the point that merely listening is extremely difficult (I don’t do talk radio or audiobooks or podcasts for this reason) and I have had to adopt some strategies to compensate for times that is the way info is availabe to me. Perhaps the LW does need further accommodations—like having an agenda before the meeting and the ability to send her boss and/or the group a summarized list of action items—but I think most people are in agreement that recording the meeting and having to play it back is not the best strategy moving forward. What happens further down the road in her career if meetings are more frequent?

      6. Kyrielle*

        Depends on the person and their specific weaknesses, too. I know someone w/ADHD who does really well at absorbing and handling auditory input/output, and ditto for written. Crucially and problematically, if they have to do _both at once_ (in either direction, so taking notes from talking counts!) their scores TANK. 90th percentile down into 20-something.

    6. Damn it, Hardison!*

      You might try using a template for taking notes in meetings – decisions, action items, outstanding questions, next steps, etc. I find that segregating the different types of information in my notes helps me to only capture the most relevant information. I bought a Action Day meeting notebook from Amazon that has 2 pages for each meeting, with different sections – one page is notes, the other has a space for agenda, action items, etc. (Search Amazon for meeting notebook and Action Day should be near the top of the results, along with other options). It might not be what you are looking for, but it (and other examples) could give you ideas for how to structure your notes.

    7. Lilo*

      When I was in law school, I learned how to boil cases down to a single memorable detail. So I could just write “pregnant cow” (any first year law student knows this one) or “puff test glaucoma” and it would help me remember the details of the entire case and what the legal implication was. The tiny weird detail would help me learn the whole case (most law school exams are open book but you need quick case recall, something I still use to remember important cases I find in research or read about, so I can back up my case law faster.)

      I sort of adopted this strategy from a medieval lit class I took in college. We were shown how monks used weird photos in the margins of books to help them memorize the text. So you would have this dry medieval treatise with a picture of nuns bowling turds or a guy peeing on a flower next to it.

      If you set yourself a mental trigger, the weirder the better, you can usually remember way more.

      1. SarahTheEntwife*

        That seems useful for remembering specific facts or texts that you can sit down and pore over, but less useful in the moment when you’re trying to keep track of what multiple people are saying in a meeting. I have enough trouble just following a complex conversation without trying to come up with mnemonics on the spot.

        1. Lilo*

          It depends. If, for instance, Karen needs X, Y, and Z on the Green file by Tuesday, how do choose to record it. One way is to write everything down explicitly. Can you turn X from a sentence into 2 words? Reduce Karen to K? You can then flesh out your notes later (sooner is better).

          I used to work as a note taker and my immediate notes were full of abbreviations and code that I fleshed out before sending in.

    8. iglwif*


      Unlearning my high school and university habit of trying to write down EVERY DAMN THING has really helped me with meeting notes. I still regress sometimes, because when I’m uncomfortable with the direction of the conversation my instinct is to hunker down and try to be invisible, and writing detailed notes (which requires hands busy and eyes down) is one way to do that. But writing down only the things you personally need to remember and/or follow up on, and checking that list with your manager after, can be very helpful.

    9. Lisa*

      I have ASD and unfortunately in my last (toxic) job, I got scolded for note taking during meetings. It was only dot points but they wanted me to always have eyes on them and not be “distracted” during staff meetings. Made me forget things.

    10. Snark*

      Absolutely. Notes are for decisions made, action items you’re responsible for, future meeting dates and times, reminders on stuff to follow up with someone on, that kind of thing. You really don’t need a chronicle of the entire meeting.

  18. fnom*

    LW#2, I will attest to what Alison said about people being less willing to be candid when recorded… because my first reaction to seeing that you recorded your college classes was WHOA DID YOU ASK/INFORM FIRST?! I know you said you asked the teachers, and that’s great! Personally, I graduated a couple years ago, and my classes were a mix of lecture and interaction as well as student presentations, but even years after the fact, I am still bothered by the idea that someone might have been recording me without my consent. Depending on the jurisdiction, that kind of recording may not be allowed, either I’m definitely more uptight and keep things close if I’m being recorded, and more willing to be frank when I know I’m not.

    1. Violet Fox*

      I work at a university, and we have a legal obligation to protect student privacy to the point that the only people who are allowed to record lectures is the university itself (and we do this on request), but *all* student voices are either not captured or deleted from the recording, all video recordings are check to make sure there are not student likenesses visible before anything is put anywhere even vaguely publicly accessible. Any time we have an event with someone taking photos, written consent to have your picture taken, let alone used, comes out for both students and employees. The consent is just for that event and can be revoked even after the fact.

      We’ve had students with stalkers, students with DV situations, students studying under assumed names because there were people actively trying to kill them. Recording people without their consent can actually get people killed, especially in situations like universities where you just can’t know the life circumstances of everyone in class.

      As a note also with taking privacy seriously. When information that is supposed to be stored only on heavily encrypted secure systems here accidentally gets elsewhere (which does happen because not enough people take privacy and data security seriously enough), we physically destroy the drives.

      1. inlovewithwords*

        I super appreciate that your university is going the extra mile to accommodate both privacy and recording needs. That’s seriously amazing, because both are important and one usually gets sacrificed for the other because it’s just easier that way. This is just so awesome and I wish it existed in more places!

        1. Violet Fox*

          Thank you for saying that! I’m one of the people at my uni that pushed hard to make sure the privacy framework was in place before we even considered starting to record/podcast lectures. It took a lot of work, and a lot of time with the lawyers (our central IT department has it’s own lawyers), outside lawyers reviewing things and setting up processes. The technical end, was actually the easy part.

          The other thing is that when these recordings are made, they are, of course, available for everyone in the class to use as study aids.

          A lot of it is also IT philosophy. We make it so that our recordings are better, easier to use, and not something that our students really have to think about so they aren’t tempted to record class and violate other people’s privacy, because for them it’s easier not to.

          Things like the hard-drive eating machine are things that we have had for quite some time.

    2. LW2*

      I never recorded someone without explicit permission/consent. I posted an comment a few minutes ago but my university had a policy for this. Basically accomadation has to be reviewed every semester; all professors must be asked and then give written consent (this was done via email); then the professors would announce in the first class (which was generally syllabus work) that some students would be recording audio with permission and if anyone had reservations about that to come to him privately and their reservations would be forwarded anonymously and then some alternate would be worked out. No one ever seemed to have spoken to the professor because I was never told to stop or do something else. I also did not attend university in America so that policies may be different.

      1. Lilo*

        Lectures are a very different ballgame from work, but I get why you would extend this.

        In school, I was actually paid for my notes to share with someone in my class who had a disability (I never knew who it was in any class, it was all done through my school’s disability office). if I had to miss a class, I had to get notes from a classmate and make sure they complied with requirements.

        I could see this applying more at work, an efficient note taker sharing notes. But it really depends on motivation and context.

  19. Margaery Moth*

    Wow the responses to #2 are really disappointing. You do realize ADHD is an actual disability covered by the ADA, right? And that people with ADHD don’t just choose to make too-complicated notes or not listen well enough? I understand that people don’t love the idea of being recorded and that in some industries, confidential information will prevent this, but if you’re in a workplace where you’re not sharing high-stakes ideas, or in tech, this is really not a difficult accommodation. A shitty person could always share these meetings with someone else, but are we really going to assume that’s the intent of OP? I assume they’d manage this accommodation with HR, and it would carry parameters. If you suggest they find another workaround, can you also suggest how? I’d be interested too. Everything else I can think of relies on others and would depend on outing the OPs disability to coworkers. Recording meetings has been used as an example of a REASONABLE accommodation in 2E education for the future, and is definitely not at all inappropriate at school, which some others are also implying. There’s more empathy in posts about dudes who touch a woman’s ass..

    1. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

      It’s possible that the workaround would be just taking notes that directly relate to OP’s actions, rather than the entire meeting. i.e. everytime OP hears their name mentioned, make a note, but then don’t worry about the rest of the minutes. Usually these meetings will have an official minute taker who will distribute all the notes and action points after the fact. Unless OP is that minute taker (which would raise questions about outing their condition), they don’t need to take the level of notes required in university – for want of a better analogy, note taking at college is because it’s ‘every man for himself’: you pass or fail based on your own notes; a work place is dependent on everyone pulling together: no one wants you to fail and they’ll pass you back up notes if yours are missing something.

      1. TechWorker*

        ‘Usually these meetings will have a minute taker’ – over 90% of the work meetings I attend do not, my company can’t be the only place in this situation.

        I don’t have ADHD but have we considered the possibility that LW is, in fact, only taking notes about stuff that pertains to their work and what they need to follow up on after and is still missing things? Some responses seem to assume they must be bad at note writing vs actually finding this difficult?

        1. Margaery Moth*

          Exactly – there seems to be the assumption that if only the LW could *do a little better,* the issue could be solved. This is the sort of attitude people with ADHD and other learning disabilities get their entire lives. Yes, it would be wonderful if there was a minutes-taker! But, as TechWorker said, that happens in very rare cases. If the information in a meeting is not confidential, the LW is the only person who listens to the recording, and the recording remains in the building and is erased at the end of the day, then it seems like the only issue left is other people’s discomfort with their words being on tape. Is that more important than allowing LW the accommodation? In office jobs, it’s often known that your emails could be views by tech support or outside parties. How is this any different? I found Alison’s response to be disappointingly dismissive, and the reader comments just reinforce inaccurate views of ADHD. I’m still not sure people understand or respect the impact it can have on people’s executive functions (including positive things, such as attention to detail!).

          1. Labradoodle Daddy*

            Yeah, in my experience a lot of advice from people who don’t know better boils down to “just don’t have ADHD anymore” (whether or not they realize it).

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              I think that’s awfully unfair and isn’t what I said. The reality is that it would indeed not be a thing many workplaces would agree to do as an accommodation for the reasons I listed (i.e., I answered the question she was asking), but that doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t explore other accommodations with her, which I what I suggested she look into.

              1. Labradoodle Daddy*

                I’m sorry, Alison, I wasn’t directly addressing the advice you gave. I was more trying to express a general frustration that often pairs with asking for advice & having ADHD. I thought your advice was actually really good (which shouldn’t be the enemy of perfect); I was responding much more to the commenters here. Again, apologies!

                1. Margaery Moth*

                  Yeah, same. My comments are much more geared towards the commentators than the advice. I do wish some alternate suggestions had been mentioned, though, because I still can’t think of a fair accommodation that doesn’t rely on outing one’s disability to coworkers rather than to HR and one boss. That’s where I get the sense that it’s still sort of expecting us to “not have ADHD anymore,” and I wish there are more patience here in understanding WHY we feel this way, rather than just denying that’s the case.

              2. strike*

                I have adhd, and honestly I find the idea that we cant implement new strategies to succeed at a task we struggled with like everyone else can to be more insulting.

                I think strategies are helpful, and there have been times where simply changing how I was doing something that was hard with adhd made a huge difference to my success rate.

                1. strike*

                  Obviously, some strategies don’t work for everyone, and everyone with adhd struggles in their own way, but to imply that strategy on ways to potentially improve note taking are somehow insensitive is strange to me. Heck, lw even said further up they had been taking very verbose notes like in college and that suggestions to be more brief were helpful.

                2. TheOtherLiz*

                  Yeah and a lot of the advice is coming FROM people with ADD. And the reality is that we all have to live with the lack of understanding from neurotypical people who think that coping strategies or symptoms of ADD might be signs of poor character – that we’re lazy, that “not paying attention” is a willful choice for us like it is for other people, or that ADD isn’t even real or adults grow out of it. And sometimes we choose to adapt without broadcasting our ADD status and that is our choice.

              3. Jennifer Thneed*

                Alison, I don’t think that Labradoodle Daddy was disagreeing with you. And I agree that a lot of people’s attitude toward any kind of disability is “Can’t you just stop having the condition if you try hard enough?”

                I have a friend who was asking our larger social circle for suggested tactics for making sure the front door was locked on their way to work. And people had good ideas. And his wife told him in this public conversation that she though he should just try harder to be in the moment. She literally told a diagnosed ADHD person, who was looking for coping strategies, that they should just try harder. This is a horrid thing to do to a person. (And it isn’t what you’re doing by any means! In case that wasn’t clear.)

          2. Snark*

            I think the advice that recording every meeting is unworkable is not a reasonable ask in a workplace is dead on, and not dismissive in the slightest; whether or not they have ADD, this approach is not workable. And if the LW feels they need to do that to chronicle everything everybody says and everything that happens, as certainly seems to be the case, I think that is a reasonable assumption, and advising the LW to focus on action items and particulars is very defensible – and very unrelated to ADD. And

            You’re being really precious and sanctimonious about this in a way that comes off as performative and grandstanding.

        2. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

          Ah, I stand 100% corrected on the work meetings/minute taker – I guess I’ve been spoiled by the companies I’ve worked for (even a three-person meeting has someone dedicated to minute taking, usually the person who called the meeting).
          I guess I was assuming that it would take some of the pressure off by knowing that notes provided by said minute-taker can be reviewed later, and that there would still be an opportunity to ask follow up questions if the notes aren’t quite clear.

          I stand by my assertion that no-one is wanting LW2 to fail, in fact the opposite – I don’t have ADD or ADHD and I know that I’ve made duff notes that have required asking follow up questions that my co-workers have willingly provided. (In one instance I genuinely couldn’t read my own handwriting due to a separate (temporary) health issue, and had to take the approach that I had more or less taken NO notes that meeting, and cobbled together the details I needed from my co-workers and the minutes)

        3. LQ*

          Strong agree on not having a note taker at meetings. Even at meetings that SHOULD have a note taker (and with a PM who doesn’t believe taking notes or facilitating meetings is his job…) we don’t have note takers.

          The point about only taking notes about what pertains to their work and they need to follow up on makes me go…you can stop and ask for a minute if you’re being assigned a task to make sure it’s clear…Which happens a decent amount around here. Someone else is running through what they expect of me and I’m either struggling to keep up, or (more likely) not really understanding the problem. So I just sort of make them pause and go back and clarify what is needed. That shouldn’t be more than a few minutes of a meeting with a specific assignment for a single person. If it is that’s likely to be a meeting that should be facilitated a different way (project management tool with tasks assigned during the meeting (ideally by a pm) or a dev task tool or something similar) and that would be a good solution to propose (that likely a lot of people may be able to get on board with).

    2. LW2*

      Thanks for your comment. That was the vibe I was getting as well from some comments but after having had those “if you only put X amount effort” comments my whole life I have learnt to brush them off. I am hoping that this is more so a learning curve in regards to meetings & note takings but if it’s not then I will cross that bridge when I come to it.

      I think a comment somewhere touched on Allison not giving a more detailed enough answer but lets not push blame there. ADD is not very understood (and often confused with ADHD) and it is much more nuanced than “I cannot concentrate ooh shiny”. I was really glad that Allison answered my question because I was able to get helpful comments that I am going to try and implement.

      University was really hard at first and it continued to be a challenge. I often had to put in more work hours than my peers but in the end I graduated with a good GPA. I am hopeful that the same situation will happen with my job (and future jobs). It may hard at the beginning and I might always need to put in extra work for certain tasks but I will be okay.

      Also worth mentioning although I am American I did not attend university there and currently I do not live/work in America either. However ADD is a recognised disability where I live/work and my office has been very open to how they might be able to help.

      1. StorylineDeveloper*

        I suffered for years with undiagnosed ADD and honestly it’s very frustrating to think you just aren’t trying hard enough and you can’t get it. I found, for me, meetings weren’t a struggle but instead not getting distracted by office chatter or people needing help. I started writing down simple tasks I wanted to complete each day and that’s helped quite a lot. But as a policy I do not take notes in meetings anymore, I just got too distracted with making them perfect. I do, however, take my task notebook and if a task is brought up (i.e. please everyone remember to update your Jira tickets daily) I write that down in my “remember” column of my notebook. I can also use my task list as a reminder of what to say in a status update, that way I’m no longer nervous about what to say in a meeting when my name gets called.

        I think what you might have to do is try to come up with a strategy for each type of meeting you attend or things you want to get better at. It’s okay if you don’t get it right the very first time, consider it as working toward a goal. Has your manager brought up anything about your performance suffering or you missing important details? Does the meeting organizer provide an agenda? Do they provide a summary and/or action items after the meeting ends? If not, perhaps that’s something you can bring up. It would be an improvement for the whole team, especially a cross-functional team. That was a lot longer than I intended! Obviously this is a great topic and kudos to you for trying your best.

      2. Amelia Pond*

        Is it possible you could get permission to take notes on a laptop or small chromebook (it shouldn’t draw as much attention if it’s smaller)? I know many people, myself included, type much, much faster than they can write.

      3. Psychiatrist*

        For the record, there is currently no recognized medical disorder called “ADD”. ADHD (attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder) is classified into 3 types: predominantly inattentive presentation, predominantly hyperactive/impulsive presentation, and combined presentation. This classification has been in use since 1994, when DSM-IV came out. Pri0r to 1994, there was a disorder called “ADD” (attention-deficit disorder) but it was reclassified as ADHD predominantly inattentive type in 1994; and is still called ADHD predominantly inattentive type in DSM 5 (the current version). Part of the reason for the change is that there’s a lot of genetic and neurobiological overlap between ADHD inattentive, hyperactive/impulsive, and combined type. The DSM is generally considered to be the definitive nomenclature and diagnostic criteria for all psychiatric disorders, so the commenters saying ADHD are correct from a medical perspective. The other main system, ICD10, also uses the term ADHD, not ADD. (Of course, there’s no law saying you have to use DSM or ICD10 terminology, but almost all medical research, medical record systems, billing systems, disability forms, etc uses DSM or ICD10 diagnosis). The term “ADD” is outdated from a medical perspective—it’s like talking about “rheumatism” or “apoplexy” or “dropsy”; ie, terms that were used at one point but are outdated now.

        1. Psychiatrist*

          Just to clarify—the reason I mention the terminology change, is that if you have to fill out any official paperwork for accommodations, etc, you might need to make sure it uses the DSM/ICD10 terminology for it to be accepted! I have had to fill out a lot of paperwork for people and they usually need a DSM diagnosis with the ICD10 code for it to be accepted—a lot of things can be really picky about that. (Yes, it would be ridiculously pedantic for an employer to kick it back to you because it says ADD instead of ADHD predominantly inattentive presentation, but unfortunately it wouldn’t surprise me if someone did do that). I practice in the US, but I think most countries use ICD10/DSM terminology.

          1. TheOtherLiz*

            It may be relevant in HR but it doesn’t seem relevant here. I was diagnosed in the late 90s and we called it ADD. At some point I learned that technically I had ADHD inattentive type but that basically just means ADHD without the H, so I keep talking about having ADD. Nothing wrong with using clear concise terms that feel right to us. LW hasn’t asked about how to fill in a form requesting accommodation. And in fact I don’t like the universal use of ADHD because since I was just inattentive type, and didn’t fit the stereotype, many teachers and administrators refused to believe I really had it.

    3. Koala dreams*

      Thank you for this comment! I also found the discussion harsh.

      Another possible accomodation would be to have a dedicated note-taker whose notes are then shared to everyone, but as you say, it would involve other coworkers.

    4. Lilo*

      I have worked with ADA accomodations, even coordinated them (got special writing equipment for a coworker who can’t type) before but it doesn’t change my answer. LW needs to find a solution that helps them but also is one company and coworkers will be comfortable with. There are many reasons a recording device will be problematic. Having a coworker take notes or asking for a follow up by email of important instructions may be a far better way to go. But the recording could be intrusive and put a muzzle on meetings, or create a legal issue.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      Your line about outing the OP’s disability to others implies you think she should record the meetings in secret from all her coworkers, but after getting a pass from HR. That seems unlikely to happen.

      All my meetings are by phone, and I am told whether the meeting is being recorded (for people who can’t make the meeting to reference later) or not. That knowledge certainly affects how blunt I am about some things–not every time, but when there’s a “yeah, this idea is bad for these reasons” to wrestle.

      1. Gazebo Slayer*

        Yeah, I’m pretty sure recording the meeting in secret would actually be illegal in my state. Not that people never do such things, but it could definitely get you in some trouble at work.

      2. Margaery Moth*

        I don’t know where you’re getting that. They don’t have to out their condition to record meetings and they don’t have to secretly record to avoid outing their condition. Those are separate issues. No one needs to know the specific details of why the meeting is being recorded and that would be nosy in any case.

        1. Jasnah*

          I disagree that it would be nosy to ask why the meeting is being recorded. If I were in an informal brainstorming meeting and the boss announced that the meeting was recorded with no context, I’d be concerned–are our contributions going to be judged by people not present for the meeting? Am I going to be punished if I misspeak or raise objections?

          However if the boss announced, “This brainstorming meeting is being recorded so we can be sure to capture every idea and don’t miss anything. It will be transcribed this afternoon and deleted by tomorrow at 6pm. It will not be shared with anyone outside this room.” Then I would feel a lot more secure about being honest and creative with my contributions.

          That said, I don’t think relying on recordings of every meeting is reasonable for the OP, nor is it a reasonable accommodation for the company to make. I am sympathetic to the OP, but in my experience it’s really not common to need detailed notes on everything said in a meeting, and if that is necessary then there should be a notetaker who is not OP (just as I wouldn’t ask anyone with illegible/slow handwriting, or someone who needs to be a main speaker/moderator). So this accommodation is pretty extreme and doesn’t address the root problem.

    6. HGHGHG*

      Yes, we realise that, thanks. The point is that the OP’s suggested accommodation has a number of major issues with it, making it problematic for many workplaces, and that there is therefore benefit to them in considering other alternatives that might accommodate for their disability without incurring the same problems. They are not in the US apparently, so the ADA does not apply and it is unclear what processes would apply to seeking accommodations in any case. But in the US under the ADA the company would not have to agree to any requested accommodation, simply to engage in good faith in a process of finding an accommodation that works for the employee without imposing any undue hardship upon the business.

      As for finding another workaround, sure. The OP could work on their note-taking skills and find a better strategy that lets them capture the important action points without trying to write down everything, thus reducing the incidence of missed content due to distraction. This could include using a very structured format to capture the material – considering the structure and organisation in advance can often help with ADD/ADHD symptoms. The company could implement an effective minute-taking process in all meetings (and TBH I think they should be doing this anyway) so the OP can relax and not worry about taking notes, knowing that all action items will be captured by the minutes and shared after the meeting. The OP could collaborate with a colleague in the meeting who could fill in any missing notes after the meeting. And so on. The point is, given that asking to record meetings is likely to raise concerns, can the OP address their needs in other ways? (It may be that they can’t! But that’s not the impression their letter gives.)

      If the OP’s post had said “I need an accommodation to record these meetings or I won’t be able to do this job”, the advice might be different. But they asked whether it was reasonable to ask for this particular thing, and how it would look, and that’s what people are answering.

    7. kittymommy*

      Maybe I’m not reading the same post you are, but I haven’t really read anyone saying that she shouldn’t absolutely do it, just cautioning on what some of the responses from colleagues might be. And also stating that the recording needs to be done with the knowledge of the other attendees. My first thought was that I hope the LW plans on letting everyone knows (the line about being discreet gave me pause) since recording someone without their permission is a felony in my state.

      1. Labradoodle Daddy*

        Read the responses from commenters with ADHD, we all seem to be on the same page and that’s worth noting.

    8. Susie Q*

      Whoah, plenty of people with ADHD/ADD have responded. Recording a lector is WAY different than recording a confidential client meeting for example. Each company gets to decide what is reasonable. There are some situations where recording conversations is illegal.

      As someone with ADHD, when I worked full time in the DOD, I couldn’t record anything in any meeting. It is against the law. So I had to develop other strategies to cope.

      OP needs to have a conversation with their manager.

      1. LQ*

        And in government in general, those recordings become public record which is a different kind of problem.

      2. JustaTech*

        Another long time ADD/ADHD(inattentive) person here, and *for me* recording meetings would be the least useful thing every because I would fall asleep trying to listen. I think we all need to remember that there is more to how each of us work than just the ADD/ADHD. There are also learning styles and the coping mechanisms we’ve learned.

        There’s also a question of the pace of the meetings, and how much information is being shared. I’ve been to meetings where I could barely keep up with the important info, and I’ve been to meetings where my notes were only half a page.

        Honestly, there are a few things that might start as “accomidations” that would just be useful for everyone, like wrapping up a meeting with “Jane will do X by Tuesday, Bob will do Y by Wednesday, subgroup will do Z by Thursday and we will all edit the document by EOB Friday”. That way everyone is on the same page going out. (I know this is probably unusual, but the couple of meetings I’ve been in where it was relevant it was super helpful.)

    9. Car Chapstick*

      My mind wanders in meetings and our company would never allow or be allowed to record meetings. Recording the meeting would definitely out anyone as disabled and most likely label them as unable to do their work. So while its ok in school its really not OK or reasonable at work. Everything we work with is confidential to a point and honestly it does make people uncomfortable to be recorded and I just don’t want to be that person.

      What I have found to work out best is to take notes in the meetings type them up and send out a meeting email. In the Email I thank everyone for blah blah and say this is what I have taken away from the meeting insert notes, and this is what we are expecting by so and so by such and such date. Please let me know if I missed anything. This way if you do miss something or have something wrong someone can respond, no response means you have the gist of the meeting. It helps to have a format for your notes with everyones names and I use their initials when taking notes. ex: EM – send out Roe report on Friday

    10. Turtle Candle*

      I don’t know, speaking as someone with a disability, had I asked AAM about a possible accommodation I’d find it disrespectful to hear a litany of alternate accommodations from someone without the disability, or pointing me at resources I probably already know about. (How often do we hear suggestions with just that that are assuming we haven’t tried something really simple?) “Sorry, no, that’s not going to fly at most workplaces” would be, to me, the respectful response, if that was the honest answer. I’m a grown-up; I can handle an honest answer, and consider people assuming that I can handle it to be a mark of respect.

  20. Spanish Prof*

    I teach college and when students have an accommodation that allows them to record lectures, I am always careful to put in writing that the only person they are allowed to record is me. Not their classmates. The notion of someone recording without consent makes my skin crawl. Accommodations, of any kind, are allowed only to the degree that they “do not fundamentally alter the nature of the course.” For discussion-based classes, as well as language acquisition, the negative impacts on the affective filter and on students’ ability/willingness to share or test out ideas are unacceptable. I’d suggest a similar standard with your meetings. If it’s mostly a presentation without much discussion, you may find securing permission easier (though probably still deeply side-eyed). But for a more open meeting, or for a Q&A, or other spontaneous discussion – I wouldn’t ask and would furthermore make a show of putting away my device.

    1. inlovewithwords*

      Legit question, as someone who has had recording as accommodation in the past: how do you handle someone needing to ask a question during a lecture? Especially if your answer is equally relevant. Asking someone needing accommodation to slam on-and-off on seconds notice is really hard, plus the framing of the question might be super relevant to the answer and how it’s structured. How do you work around things like that?

      1. Violet Fox*

        Around here, the recording software only picks up sound from the microphone, and the lectures are taught to repeat the question so that all of the class can hear it and so that the question gets into the recording.

        1. inlovewithwords*

          That is an excellent solution, and I approve of it strongly! Thank you, I didn’t realize there was specific recording software at work that is in lecturer control. That’s really wonderful.

          1. Violet Fox*

            Our system is set up so that if the lecturer uses slides or the smart podium, it automatically gets recorded with the voice recording so that the students using it have everything right there together, and to have it be so much better then a random phone voice recording.

            1. Spanish Prof*

              Our system is not so sophisticated (love it, though!) – mostly SmartPens. It’s easy to tap them on and off. But for the most part, the “not recording classmates” applies during times in the lesson plan set aside for group work, brainstorming, discussions, pair practice (language), etc.

        2. Margaery Moth*

          Wow, I really hope if I go back to school, they’d have this method of recording! It sounds like you’d get so much better audio than with your own device, and no one needs a student’s dumb rambling question on tape…that’s what notes are for.

  21. Undine*

    For #2, it really is a matter of “know your industry”. At my job, all of our company-wide meetings are recorded, along with a lot of presentations, and the links are sent out later. There are also smaller meetings where it would feel creepy to be recorded on a regular basis, but a one-off might make sense. Most online meeting software has a recording option which announces that the meeting is being recorded and which shows some kind of indicator so the recording is obvious. That would be the route I would take, then it isn’t just for one person and the link can be sent out to everyone (like people who can’t make it). If that isn’t appropriate for the meeting, then a private recording isn’t either.

  22. ..Kat..*

    For #2. Is anyone else taking notes? Can you share notes with each other?

    Does the person running the meeting have a written agenda? Can you ask them to print copies to pass out at the meeting (or email to attendees) beforehand? This could provide an outline of structure for the meeting that could make note taking easier.

    I especially liked the comments above about emailing your boss (or the person running the meeting) to say “these are the items I will be working on based on the meeting. Do I have this correct?”

    1. J.*

      OP #2, I was going to share this suggestion as well. Do you have a colleague that you are friendly with or work closely with that you can talk to about getting notes from them? Is there ever an admin in the room taking minutes/action items that you can get bottom line stuff from?

      I’m an excellent note-taker, I always have been, and I’m always willing to share my notes with people if they need them. I don’t always have time to type them up, but with free phone apps like tinyscanner, it’s pretty easy to just snap a picture and send it along to them as a pdf. I’d much rather have my teammates be engaged and able to contribute to important conversations during meetings than getting lost because they’re trying to frantically scribble something down.

      If your organization is not already doing it, it can also be really helpful practice to run through a list of action items that came out of the meeting and who’s going to be working on them right at the end, at which point you can focus on writing down the things that affect you.

      1. J.*

        (Also, I meant to add that in case you’re worried about asking a colleagues to share their notes, unless you’re in a particularly cutthroat industry/company, most people on a team are going to be fine with it if it means you can contribute better to the overall end work product. So it may feel kind of awkward or scary to do that, but I just wanted to share that as someone who has been asked or wouldn’t mind being asked about giving someone my notes, it’s probably not as big a deal as it might seem.)

  23. ADHD Bender*

    Sorry if this seems off topic to others and is more a comment to Allison than a LW (I think?), but why does the 2nd letter say ADHD in the title when the LW says ADD in the actual letter? Having grown up with ADHD and a sister with ADD I can tell you for certain they are very different disabilities…

    1. LW2*

      I think it may have just been from not knowing that there really is a difference. I still have to correct people sometimes and say “I have ADD not ADHD there is a difference”. Alison may not be aware that there is a difference.

      By the way my sister and I have the same situation she has ADHD and I have ADD. Funny how that works!

      1. Kyrielle*

        Ironically, at least now, it’s all ADHD – ADD is no longer diagnosed (at least in the US) as such, it’s just ADHD (inattentive type, as opposed to hyperactive or combined).

    2. wittyrepartee*

      ADD is considered ADHD inattentive subtype in the DSM (as of the last time I checked). So using ADHD is the correct term for all the subtypes.

  24. Dr. Glowcat Twinklepuff*

    Thanks for letter #4, something similar happened to me last week. I just casually mentioned some unexpected difficulties on a project and everyone jumped at me suggesting very basic things I had already tried and generally making it sound as it was all very simple and quick if only I were not stupid. I ended up crying in the bathroom afterwards. So I have no advice to give, just my sympathy to OP4 :) sending support!

  25. inlovewithwords*

    #2: Honestly, Alison, I’m kind of disappointed in you, and commenters today, partly because you didn’t entirely respond helpfully. It is definitely a higher barrier! But that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be approached. Maybe give some advice on how to approach a manager on if this is a possibility, or how to ask the manager for alternative accommodations for their medical condition? What scripts would you use for that?

    I’m not ADD or ADHD, but I’m dysgraphic, which means literally writing is hard for me. By hand, it’s basically impossible these days and was pretty anxiety-inducing as a child. Even typing doesn’t always help, particularly with note-taking. Note-taking takes real attention and energy for me that pulls me extremely out of actually paying attention to whatever I’m supposed to take notes on. To give an idea: Days I can take notes at all I take great ones, but most days, the attention needed to get words in a document (never on paper, that’s impossible period) means I actually lose the thread of the conversation around me. My go-to dysgraphia solution is functionally “just memorize the entire conversation and pray,” and… that’s not really a solution, if a helpful skill to have. It’s also not a solution for someone with ADD/ADHD, who has different needs but similar solutions.

    Some of this will definitely be know-your-industry. Legal world, or health world, I can totally see how recordings would be impossible because it’s the kind of thing that either is not privacy-compliant or could be subpeona’d. Industry secrets, sensitive stuff, sure. But it would be nice to start seeing some more flexibility around this in our work culture.

    Commenters, I want to push back on the aversion to letting people do this, and everyone–Alison included–I want to push back against discouraging someone who needs help asking for it at all. If nothing else, asking the manager about this is a great way to ask for help from higher up for brainstorming alternative accommodations, instead of putting it all on the person with the disability to come up with it themselves.

    But given the higher barrier, that’s a very sensitive conversation, so I’d love to see some scripts around how to approach asking for help with a situation like this.

    1. Sima*

      Sorry, but some people have legitimate reasons to not want their privacy invaded. Heck, that alone is a legitimate reason. Ask for other accommodations, sure, but don’t act like your preferred accommodation is the only one and we’re all being ableist asses for not agreeing.

      1. inlovewithwords*

        Sima: Believe me, if I want to call someone an ableist ass, I will say so in exactly those words.

        I get privacy, and that is a valid restriction that needs respecting. I never have and would never want anyone recorded who objected; at that point it’s not a reasonable accommodation. But I explicitly said I wanted to push back against saying “don’t ask at all” because even a no can generate productive alternatives, including the person asking for it not needing to come up with a solution all on their own, and what are scripts for that? As in, I was assuming no recording would be possible, but maybe finding a solution doesn’t have to be entirely on the person asking alone.

        It’s honestly really damaging–and, yes, ableist, which I didn’t feel the need to say before this–to get attitudes like this, because it discourages folks from asking for help who need it, and makes solutions to problems solely the realm of people with cognitive differences and not something others can and should be supporting them in.

        1. Yorick*

          But when people here tried to suggest alternatives to recording, commenters said they shouldn’t because they don’t understand how the ADD brain works and are just being ableist?

          1. inlovewithwords*

            Suggesting alternatives can be helpful and can be less than helpful or even ableist. It honestly can depend on the person, and my impression from LW2’s responses is that some comments were helpful and some were not. I stayed away from the suggestion threads because, for obvious reasons, I find alternative suggestions to an ADD/ADHD note-taking problem when I have a different disability to be frustratingly useless, and don’t have useful input, so I kept away.

            Also, ‘the answer will be no’ is one thing when coming from lived experience and another coming from people without it. Context matters.

            So I didn’t say anything about that. Again, I’m really focused on the idea that discouraging the LW from asking at all/not helping find a way to have the conversation, even expecting no as the answer, as being problematic. It really came off to me as “don’t ask for help, find a solution on your own,” and that’s sometimes a really big ask of someone who processes differently. Like, in fact, what you raised is one of the reasons I’m focused on it! Instead of suggestions for alternatives, how about suggestions for how to have a tough conversation with a manager around finding alternatives? That’s legit supportive any way you cut it.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Again, it’s a short answer post, so I’m answering the question being asked and not getting into lots of other options.

              The answer would be no everywhere I’ve ever worked, and it would make the OP look naive to ask.

              1. Margaery Moth*

                Hey, I’m hoping this might be food for thought – I understand where you’re coming from in terms of your work experience, but I think you might want to increase your familiarity with ADHD for the benefit of future blog posts. The person above states it perfectly: “It really came off to me as “don’t ask for help, find a solution on your own,” and that’s sometimes a really big ask of someone who processes differently.” I respect your advice, but wish we didn’t always have to seek the solutions on our own. It seems to be so different to the collaborative approach I see in blogs and workplaces when it comes to other disabilities, as well as mental illnesses. There’s something about ADHD that is still very much subconsciously seen as a thing we can will ourselves to defeat.

    2. LW2*

      I don’t think inlovewithwords meant their comment in an “your an ableist ass” manner but the unfortunate thing is that for people who have cognitive/executive functioning/etc. disabilities often we are told “man if you did X” or “just put in Y more effort” etc. would solve the problems. The idea is often that we’re lazy, we’re not trying hard enough, etc.

      I think for me it has been an adjustment period too because in school I had written accommodations, and a learning disabilities teacher who worked with me. In university I again had accommodations and paid out of my own pocket to work with a learning specialist who had experience with ADd and similar in university and the workforce. I know that I can ask for accommodations in the workplace but I also understand that school/university is very different from the workplace. I am still trying to navigate what I can and cannot ask for, is it okay, even if my workplace has to legally provide accommodations they may not, some people might never believe you when they say “having X is a struggle for me”

      These are all things I am sure I’ll be able to better manage and handle as I get more experience.

      1. Mel*

        Hey LW2, I have an audio processing disorder that results in similar struggles. That said, recording meetings in a corporate environment can be kind of hairy (I wouldn’t want anyone recording me, and there’s also information security concerns about such recordings being on private devices instead of work ones.)

        What has really helped me is when there’s group collaboration around notes. My company uses Google Apps for Business, and my team’s meetings are recorded on a google doc with edit access to everyone. There are other options (whether paid for, or hosted by your company) for setting up internal-only documents. I don’t know enough about the environment you’re in, but a suggestion like that might be worth bringing to your manager.

      2. Où est la bibliothèque?*

        You sound like you’re being very mature and strategic about things, even if you haven’t hit on a solution yet.

      3. Colette*

        Are there other accommodations that might help? For example, if you are regularly in the same meetings, would having someone else assigned to take minutes help you supplement your own notes? Would having an agenda in advance help?

        You can ask for accommodations, but it may be an easier conversation if you have a couple of options in mind.

        1. inlovewithwords*

          Hi, LW2, nice to meet you, and I appreciate you.

          I feel like “This is my preferred solution, but I understand if that’s not possible, so if you have thoughts on alternatives” is sufficient, for reasons outlined above. People have had great suggestions here, too, but especially if this is your first job, I think it’s totally okay to just ask for help coming up with alternatives, which you’ll carry forward throughout your working life after.

          Even just acknowledging that you know there may need to be alternatives could be a starting place. So like, don’t feel like you need a presentation of fall-back plans. I say ask your manager privately, knowing it will be no, but also that you can ask for help with solutions as well as taking people’s advice here.

          1. Colette*

            I think the OP knows more about what works and doesn’t work for her than an employer is likely to know. If she suggests recording the meetings and the employer says it won’t be possible, they may not know what to suggest – or may have suggestions that won’t work for her.

            The OP isn’t solely responsible for coming up with a solution – but the more options she gives them, the easier the process will be.

      4. GingerHR*

        Hi LW2 – there are far more reasons not to record that the legal or health options that inlovewithwords suggests, and it does mean that recordings can be difficult except for generic meeting. From my own industry – security (as in, up to very high classification levels, not just good information security), client contracts and compliance, individual privacy, GDPR – and there are more I’m not thinking of right now. We do record some things, where this is possible, but to be fair these tend not to be the meetings you’d have notes at – more town halls, that kind of thing.

        It must be hard to feel as though people are suggesting that you just need to put in effort to solve it, but I think mostly people are suggesting a different kind of effort, not just ‘try harder’. It’s been mentioned that work notes and college notes are very different, and it might be worth focusing your request for support on this area. Sure, if your industry / office etc means recording can happen, then go ahead, but the consensus seems to be that it’s unlikely. Also, if you can get note takers, that would be great, but I guess if your company did this, it wouldn’t be an issue.

        One of the issues is actually having the specialist understanding – it would be great if your company could suggest accommodations, but they probably don’t have the expertise to do so. At this stage, you are the expert, so the onus is all on you, which is probably exhausting, especially since you are learning your way round work at the same time. Perhaps your company has an occupational health provider that they can refer you to – they should be able to suggest a range of accommodations that would support you. Maybe you could go back to that learning specialist you mention and work with them to see what your company could think about and what you might be able to do – perhaps if your company doesn’t have an OH provider, they might think about funding a session with the specialist.

      5. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I didn’t tell you “just put in more effort.” I said this particular accommodation is unlikely to fly and it makes sense to explore others, which exist. Check askjan.org.

        1. inlovewithwords*

          Respectfully, some of the commenters have, and I think that’s what was being addressed.

          What you did say was not to ask at all, even knowing the answer is probably no. Surely it’s worth having the conversation anyway with the manager, who might be able to help with coming up with alternatives if recording is a no-go, if it’s phrased the right way? I’m honestly nonplussed you didn’t offer a script for how to have a tough conversation like that with a manager, which seems like a pretty reasonable starting place (particularly for someone in a first job).

          1. Turtle Candle*

            It’s not always worth having a conversation like this, though. In a lot of workplaces/industries, it’d in and of itself make a person look naive and out of touch. It doesn’t, frankly, matter if Alison or I or any other commenter thinks it should make the person look naive and out of touch–I don’t personally think it should, though I do think that it would often be one that would be declined even if only for legal reasons–but one of the points of asking on a blog like this is to find out what-in-the-real-world the response would be, not what-in-a-perfect-world it ought to be, which isn’t necessarily relevant. For some requests, there is no script that will make it look acceptable or normal.

            1. inlovewithwords*

              Well, yeah, it may never be normal, as it may never be something most people ask for. Asking won’t become acceptable–which is very different–if people don’t find ways to make the conversations happen more often. Saying ‘don’t have it at all’ helps perpetuate the problem.

              Tone, “I understand this probably isn’t workable but it’s worth asking in case you have other ideas,” any number of things, there has to be some way to approach it to at least bring it to someone’s attention. Conversations can’t be accepted or normalized unless they actually happen.

              1. Turtle Candle*

                I mean, I assume the LW wanted to know how it would come across, or they wouldn’t ask. It’s easy to say “we should normalize this to make it easier for future people” when I’m sitting here in my armchair, but I assume that if the LW was feeling that way they wouldn’t have written in. I assume they asked because they wanted a genuine answer. They can choose to do it anyway, but they deserve an honest answer to an honest question–and IMO, as a person with a stigmatized disability of my own, it’s disrespectful to pretend it would be okay if your honest opinion is that it probably isn’t in most workplaces.

                If they choose to do it, they should know that it’s going to be weird at best in many organizations.

              2. Ask a Manager* Post author

                I’m not going to advise someone to have a conversation that I think will be bad for them professionally just because it would be good for society. I understand the impulse (and have talked about that a lot previously), but I’m not going to tell someone to sacrifice themselves for the greater good unless they indicate that’s what they’re up for.

    3. old lady*

      There may be a way to get around this.
      After working a new job a while ago where people liked to throw stuff into you face saying it was discussed in a group meeting that I didn’t catch in my notes, another person in the group started asking, who was taking meeting minutes before the start of each meeting? They said it was old school and that after the meeting, a synopses of the meeting would be sent to all attendees for verification.
      We tried it and liked it.
      It also shutdown the person who would swear that we had decided something when the minutes said we hadn’t. It was cool because the gist of the discussions were recorded if the actual words were not. Also, they could have people slow down and repeat what they said. It was much better than having everyone trying to take detailed notes (after a while, I would just write down what my deliverables were.) This also freed everyone to concentrate on the actual discussion. Some people took great minutes, some were lousy at it. After a while we just used either the great people (rewarded with coffee and donuts) or interns rewarded with learning.
      So people have tried to replace this with audio recording at other jobs and people do freak out a bit. But a designated note taker, nah.

      So if it was phrased :
      Hey to keep track of all the stuff that goes on in our meeting, can we have someone taking official notes? Sometimes I get so deep into participating in the discussion that I miss notes and I’m sure not the only one.
      It would need to be done by someone who is either real good at taking notes or who didn’t need to participate in the meeting , so that they could just concentrate on note taking.

    4. Ask a Manager* Post author

      These are short answer posts, which means it’s not going to be as comprehensive an answer as you’re proposing. What you’re suggesting would make it so long I couldn’t include it in this post at all. But certainly the OP can check askjan.org, which is a great source of suggestions for accommodations for various situations.

      1. LW2*

        Definitely going to check this website out, it may have some potential solutions that I could bring up with my supervisor. I definitely think that I will hold off on even considering asking to record meetings (or shelve the idea completely) and try some of the alternatives mentioned in the comment sections. Who knows meetings and note taking might also (will probably) become much more manageable as I gain more experience too.

  26. LGC*


    So with LW1…I kind of understand it, actually – if you’re drinking so much you end up with alcohol poisoning, that’s pretty alarming on a personal level! I’d be alarmed if someone on my team had alcohol poisoning myself! But…I don’t think it’s any of your business right now as well.

    I think an analogous situation (and this is totally not a perfect analogy) is…imagine if the employee had instead gone out for sushi and gotten food poisoning and ended up in the hospital. You could argue – hey – raw fish is a pretty risky food to eat, and the employee shouldn’t be eating raw fish. That would also be…insanely intrusive. If it were a weekly occurrence, I’d question their judgment (because why would you do that to yourself), but also, stuff happens sometimes.

    Finally…I get your concern, and speaking as a Terrible Butts In Seats Boss (like, I read the sick time post and felt appropriately shamed), you’re right – absences (especially due to substance abuse) really can affect you professionally! But in this case, the employee was actually sick (and could easily have died). Again, I understand why you’d be concerned, but I want to reiterate how serious this could have been and that this wasn’t just a really bad hangover.

    (And again, like…okay, yeah, I’m probably jumping ahead of myself here, but I want to make sure that it’s clear that THEY NEARLY GOT THEMSELVES KILLED. They’ve been punished enough, hopefully.)

    1. The Francher Kid*

      Did you miss the LW’s update that the employee has been there less than a year, is out of PTO, and this is not the first alcohol-related absence?

      1. LGC*

        Yes, in fact, I did. To be fair, I wrote this without reading ALL of the comments (there were quite a few here and I wrote this as I was getting ready for work)!

        For what it’s worth, in another thread (in reply to Student), I acknowledged that this advice would change if substance abuse was especially problematic at the LW’s job…or if it were a pattern, as it is here. But even still, I think this incident on its own isn’t worthy of formal involvement by LW1 (as they suggested), and with the follow-up information I’d say refer them to an EAP if that’s available. (I’m on the fence about mandatory EAP now.)

    2. Roscoe*

      Can I ask why you are a Terrible Butts in Seats boss? Like if you acknowledge it, why not try to be better? Do you know where this attitude comes from? What can people say that has changed your mind at times about it ? I’m honestly curious, because my big boss is like that, and I’d love to figure out a way to talk him out of it. So understanding your POV could be helpful

      1. LGC*

        I never said I wasn’t trying!

        So to derail slightly – I’m fairly self depreciating. (And I’m aware that a lot of the commenters here prize flexibility!) Also, my situation is fairly unique – while our work has to be done on site, I also supervise a bunch of people who have issues that affect their ability to work. (To disclose a bit, I have issues myself.)

        In my case, I’ve found that my concern isn’t so much about attendance, it’s about production and deadlines. Basically, my rut is, “oh my God, we need to get X done and Tangerina called out for a week again!” It IS genuinely problematic, and in a “regular” job, this might be a major issue. But again, there’s only so much I can do. And…like, I get frustrated, but the real solution for me is to figure out how to work with it.

        (This is the REALLY short form. I’m eliding a bunch of details. But that’s my perspective and one of the MANY things I’m working on!)

        Anyway, so to bring it back to the letter – I did miss LW1 giving more details when I wrote this before work. From the letter itself, LW1’s reaction read as a little callous, to be honest. (The letter read as more offended that the employee had been hospitalized.) But with the details…I understand the frustration! But also, with some space from this situation, I think that LW should still try to separate the employee’s alcohol abuse/misuse issues from their attendance issues.

  27. LGC*

    Also: LW5, help a brother out and please tell me what company that is so I can avoid it like the plague. Did you accidentally fall down a wormhole and end up in 1999?!

    (If you are actually posting from 1999, can you tell teenage me that he really should have gone for the track varsity jacket instead of the marching band one, even though he was way more of a band nerd?)

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      But….but…the bomb dot com is in Urban Dictionary (dot com)!! It’s got to be cool, right??

  28. 653-CXK*

    OP #3: The interviewer wanted to stress you out or try to see whether you’d give up more information than needed. “I’m confused…I’ve already answered your question. Is there something specific you have in mind?” If they’re still pressing: “I’m sorry, I’m afraid I don’t understand what you’re asking for. Good luck in finding other candidates.”

    The interviewer is indeed a jerk, and a pretty damn nosy one at that.

    1. Où est la bibliothèque?*

      Yeah, that’s the sort of behavior the interviewer’s employer really needs to know about. My first thought was that the interviewer has a preferred candidate (someone internal? a friend?) and is deliberately tanking other people’s interviews–and would spin this one as “she repeatedly refused to answer a question!”

      1. 653-CXK*

        Yep…alerting the company and putting a review on Glassdoor would probably help too. “I’d like to inform you of a phone interview I had recently. The phone interviewer was rude and unprofessional, pressing on the question of why I wanted the job, and when I was not forthcoming with the answer they wanted, they hung up me.”

        If OP#3 gets a sincere apology and it results in a real interviewer who not knee-deep in internal or external nepotism, all the better. If not, OP#3 just dodged a huge bullet.

  29. LW2*

    LW2 here

    Comments have been pretty varied but some have been really helpful. As some people pointed I may be taking more notes than I need to (but this is my first job and hopefully this is a learning curve).

    I am going to find out if there is a minute taker and if there is not I will see if another new coworker of mind would not mind comparing notes (we have the same job). I am truly hoping that this is a learning curve and that I will be able to take shorter notes and I gain more experience. I also might just be overwhelmed with the meetings because again it is my first job and I am trying to do my best here.

    For those who were concerned about my university recordings. They were an approved accommodation. The professor was asked explicitly at the beginning of the semester if he was okay with the recording. During the first day of class it was said as a blanket statement that some students may be recording the lectures and that if any students had reservations about that to bring it up to the professor and he would forward that to the accomadations department (anonymously) so that an alternative solution could be found. To my knowledge, since I was never asked to stop or change, no one ever complained to the professor. (Not sure if it matters but I attended university outside of America so the policies may be different)

    1. LW2*

      I also forgot to mention but I have not and never would record anyone without their consent or knowledge. I never recorded my lectures until I got explicit approved permission and I have not recorded any meetings without my coworkers or superiors knowledge. I was merely asking in case it could be a potential solution but since it seems to be a no go I will definitively find another alternative/work around for my brain.

    2. Bagpuss*

      Hopefully you will find things improve. I’d suggest for more formal meetings it may help to speak to your manager to see whether she can provide a brief agenda, and perhaps aim to make bullet points notes rather than full ones.
      Also – do you find one method of keeping notes easier or more effective than another? for instance, if you would find it easier to make notes on a laptop or tablet than doing it by hand, you could ask your manager if that would be OK (and ask for it as an accommodation, if you felt comfortable disclosing the reason)
      Have you ever been taught how to take notes? It’s quite a specific skill, as you need to be able to pick out the key points to record. Also, (assuming your notes are just for yourself) add whatever YOU need to remind you – so your notes of items you need to action would be more detailed than general stuff, add stars or arrows to remind you of what is important etc.

      1. Sara without an H*

        This is good advice. I work in higher education, and many, if not most, students have never really been taught good note-taking skills. Or any other study skills, for that matter.

      2. LQ*

        Strong second on learning how to take notes. But I’d also say that there is something to understanding not just the agenda of a specific meeting, but how meetings are used at your workplace. Are they places people build relationships? Give assignments? Brainstorm? Come up with a solution? In a lot of cases the …gooey nougat center of a meeting isn’t something you really need to take notes away from, there may be a tasty nut in there somewhere and knowing how to identify that is important, but if you don’t know what the real purpose of the meeting is, it’s easy to get lost in the gooey nougat center by trying to take notes about everything and miss the nuts.
        I work with someone who diligently takes notes but does so in meetings where we are brainstorming to come to a solution, the first 75% of that meeting put down the pen! You’re making the rest of us nervous (maybe not me, I’ll be the idiot!) thinking that you’re going to memorialize the stupid thing we say (which is really important to get to the good part) and pick it back up at the last 15 minutes when we are pretty sure we’ve got something.

    3. Alexis Rose*

      Hi LW2, totally believe you about the university policy thing, it was standard when I was at university, too. For those wondering, if the audio recording wasn’t approved because someone else wasn’t comfortable with it, a volunteer note-taker would be asked to come forward and provide copies of their notes from class to supplement the student with the accommodation. No privacy invasion at all if everyone in the class wasn’t cool with it.

      I want to second people’s comments about trying to focus on highlights, but I would also suggest focusing on “action items”. When I write notes and there is something that I personally need to, I put a big star next to it so I can find it later and make sure it gets done. Asking for minutes is also a very good idea, and I’m sure that it would also help everyone in the office to have minutes so that everyone remembers what was said and colleagues who aren’t able to attend are still kept in the loop.

    4. Sara without an H*

      Hi, LW2 — Your responses have been good-natured and helpful. Yes, unless you are the meeting’s designated minute-taker, you are almost certainly taking more notes than you need to. A lot of newbies do this. You’ll find that you write down less as you gain experience in what’s actually important coming out of these meetings.

    5. Humble Schoolmarm*

      Hi LW2!
      I was also going to suggest seeing if you’re comfortable getting a note-taking buddy to literally compare notes with at the end of a meeting, so I’m glad to read that you think that might work. Also, if your manager is both sympathetic and on-the-ball (mine is a lovely person, but a little scattered which wouldn’t help in this situation), I like the idea of emailing her a summary of the key points and asking if you missed anything. Caveat: this would probably work best if you’re pretty sure you got most of the key points down but there are 1-2 you missed.

      I must say, though, I’m pretty taken aback by some of the reactions to your university recording. At my (non-US) school in the early 2000s this was common practice for folks who needed accommodation and neurotypicals alike. I actually considered doing this myself because I get really, really sleepy when I go past my attention span and I always missed details after the 45 minute mark. No on ever asked, but even in retrospect that doesn’t bother me.

      1. Gazebo Slayer*

        I suspect that the ubiquity of social media has made recording a bigger deal, since it’s so easy for it to get spread widely (and sometimes even go viral).

    6. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      You’ve probably done this but I’d google different note taking methods. I had never thought to do this until I was working on my PhD and spending time reading productivity and time management blogs. I found several methods that I had never even considered.

    7. Luna Lovegood*

      I didn’t see anyone already suggest this so I apologize if I’m repeating! You might also take a look at http://www.askjan.org; they have a lot of ideas for accommodations in the workplace and even offer consultations if you can’t find an answer on their website. I’ve always found their resources to be super helpful!

    8. Qwerty*

      Are you comfortable with your manager knowing your diagnosis? Managing recent grads usually includes teaching them about workplace norms, so helping you figure how to transform your past accommodations to a work environment is within that scope. Additionally, it will give her context about how this might affect other areas of work – for instance, in some offices it is common to have a 5-min chat in the hallway about changes to a project, which probably isn’t the best way of communicating that information to you.

    9. Susie Q*

      LW2, thanks for your response.

      I have ADHD and once worked in an environment where I legally could not record anything. I had a couple of coping strategies:
      -Email the presenter ahead of time to get a copy of the slides (if there is a presentation) , print them out, and take notes on them
      -Ask for an agenda ahead of time to prioritize note taking
      -Learn shorthand/writing shortcuts (I don’t think most people would understand my notes but I developed a short hand for myself that allowed me to take more notes)

      Honestly, IMO, meetings get better the more you do them. You learn how to cope and focus better when you need to.

  30. Lynca*

    OP #2- As someone with ADHD, I understand why you want to record meetings. I don’t think you would be remiss in asking if it’s possible, but I would be prepared to hear a no for the reasons others have outlined. Also you would have to outline why, which means disclosing why you want to record the meeting. I’ve not disclosed my ADHD formally at work and I know that it can be a touchy subject. To get the most effective traction, you would have to disclose this is something you want an accommodation for. I work in an industry where recording meetings wouldn’t be acceptable as an accommodation anyway (specifically because it would inhibit brainstorming and open up a legal grey area) so I’ve had to come up with other ways to address this.

    Some of the things I find helpful:

    -Having a meeting agenda. I can follow the structure of the meeting, know what was discussed, and have my notes reference that.

    -Have a dedicated person take and distribute the meeting minutes. This helps because it gives me a clear look at what the meeting organizer thinks are the important points. Our meeting organizers review the minutes before they go out to the staff. Often I focus on what I think is important and lose sight of what the meeting organizer was looking to accomplish.

    -If the meeting is following a presentation have copies of the presentation available for the attendees. That way you don’t have to take notes on the presentation content, just the additional info you need.

    These don’t really work for impromptu meetings. I just do the best I can for those and ask for clarification as needed. But for pre-planned meetings I find these items help in place of a recording.

    1. LW2*

      All of these suggestions are really helpful. I assumed that asking for an accomadation like this would be a no but wanted to be sure before I dismissed the idea 100%

      My two direct supervisors know if my ADD but for the work I am in it was not unusual to disclose it.

      I’ll trt implementing your suggestions though.

      1. valentine*

        Look at your notes from your last meeting and compare how many data points you wrote that you ended up not needing and how many you didn’t write that you had to find elsewhere.

    2. Someone On-Line*

      I think this is a great example as to how neurodiversity can be an advantage in the workplace. I work with a few people who have disclosed ADD/ADHD diagnoses to me – and they are great at their jobs! A lot of the tricks and techniques they use to organize themselves at work are really helpful to those of us who are neurotypical, but can do better with a little external organization as well.

    3. Emelle*

      A boss at a previous job was ADHD and she made an agenda with notes under it to facilitate discussion and to keep her on track. I do not have an ADHD dx, but man do I miss those notes and agendas at my current job.

    1. NaoNao*

      My best guess is a heavily or entirely customer facing service position, the same places that have those terrible assessments. Many people don’t realize that “just get a retail job!” almost isn’t an option for many Big Box stores because they have bizarre, counter-intuitive “tests” like this. Places like Target, Wal-Mart, grocery chains, etc. I have more than one college degree and 20+ years of retail and professional (office) experience and I’ve failed those tests! It’s actually not a thing for people in need or in a tight spot to just “go get a retail job and suck up your pride” because you *can’t* talk to a manager, you *have* to go to their kiosk and take their weird “personality test” when you apply!

      I got around this by applying in person to small stand alone boutique stores, but I have TONS of sympathy for those that are struggling and can’t get a retail job because of this.

    2. He ate an Onion like an Apple*

      I worked in an open cube farm next to a guy who did not believe in processed stuff so no deodorant, toothpaste, shampoo etc and you could tell, ate a whole onion like an apple at his desk at 3pm every day, and for lunch brough in 3 dirty from the ground carrots, and some smelly fermented meat for lunch to eat at his desk every day. It took me 3 years after I left that area to stop asking future employees what their normal lunch and snacks at work were during interviews.

  31. JustAClarifier*

    IRT Letter Writer #1: I think is this a great example of why you don’t need to provide more information than necessary when calling out sick. Unless, as we’ve seen here, your employer forces a reason from you. My personal opinion is that your health is not your employer’s business. I think a lot of people tend to over-justify themselves and sick leave is a big area where this occurs.

    When I’m out sick, I email my boss, “I’m out sick today and will fill out proper leave paperwork when I return.” End of story. I have never been asked any further questions.

    1. Jennifer Juniper*

      If your boss forces you to give a reason, lie, lie, lie if you have to. They asked for it by being a nosy parker.

      1. KHB*

        In LW1’s case, though, the employee is already overdrawn on PTO for the year, and I think that changes things. The employer absolutely does have standing to want to verify that any “sick” days taken in excess of those allotted for the year are due to actual sickness – and if it comes to light that an employee is lying about the reason for the absence, that’s a serious thing.

        1. JustAClarifier*

          That’s a fair point, but it wasn’t disclosed in the letter, so I didn’t include that as part of my response.

          Regardless, I think this still stands as a message to anyone reading through the comments: You do not need to justify yourself or provide more information than necessary. You have a right to your privacy.

        2. always in email jail*

          True, but still, the verification could be proof that the employee is indeed hospitalized, without sharing the reason

      2. JustAClarifier*

        Yes. Concur. Doesn’t even need to be a lie, honestly. Could be as simple as, “I’m having some medical issues today that are sensitive in nature.” Done for explanation.

    2. Arctic*

      Well, it was the day after her birthday. So, she probably figured she needed to give some context or no one would believe she was sick.

  32. Jennifer Juniper*

    Y-U-C-K at that stupid self-assessment! That would make me screen out that company, because I would not be able to fit that workplace culture. That company sounds like it’s looking for a young workforce that keeps up with all that latest pop-culture trends (and is full of itself). I am 44 years old and don’t know who three-quarters of the celebrities I see on magazine covers are.

  33. Bookworm*

    LW3: Agree with Alison. Haven’t had that same experience but I’ve had interviewers who will not let go of an issue because they’re not satisfied with the answer. I don’t mean like, “Oh, that isn’t quite what I meant, but…” (following a restatement of a question I didn’t understand/they didn’t explain well the first time) but repeated asking of a question a little like what you experienced.

    It’s more about the interviewer than you. Bad interviewer, somehow they decided they don’t want you and want to find any reason to eliminate you (hanging up is a bit much!), really bad day and they took it out on you, etc.

    Sorry that happened.

  34. gecko*

    LW4, I think you’re probably not lazy or unskilled. And, if you’re out of your depth and you know you can’t do it on your own, the absolute most valuable thing you can do is admit it.

    Let’s say the worst-case scenario is true and you’re guaranteed to fail. If you tell no one, you have been stressed out for significantly longer than you had to be, and no one on your team is prepared for whatever the consequences of failure are.

    But if you talk to your boss frankly about what’s going on, you get support. You maybe get to be free of this project that’s stressing you out so much. You maybe get extra training. Your other coworkers or whatever resources your boss has are now prepared to support you. If your critical coworker is the one to pick up any slack, they’re not justifiably annoyed at having to do urgent work, because you talked about it before it was urgent; if they’re not the one to pick up your slack, they simply see that you’ve done the right thing when you were a little outmatched.

    To be clear, if you truly are outmatched and per Alison’s answer you’re not raising the bar higher than it needs to be raised, perversely the best thing you can do for your professional credibility is to admit you can’t do it right now.

    I’m in software so perhaps my field is out-of-the-norm for being so direct, but it’s normal, normal, normal to keep your boss apprised of what you can and can’t do. Just recently I took on a big project; while working on it I realized I’d like to have help from a coworker who’s more of an expert in that area of the software than me. In our team meeting I asked to pull in that coworker if they had time, because this project had to be done fast and I wanted the results to be solid.

    On the other hand, I have a coworker who spent their entire time up to deadline working on a different project. That coworker did not tell anyone that they were having trouble with it, but presented an incomplete, substandard, and broken end result. It took a huge amount of the team’s time to correct the project, _after_ our “complete-by” date, and I have a much lower opinion of that coworker than if they’d just said, “hey, this isn’t going great. Can I get help or trade projects with someone?”

  35. AdAgencyChick*

    I can’t be the only one who now has a mental image of a sundae topped with snot. Thanks, Alison! :P

  36. Jennifer*

    LW1 I wonder how this info for back to you? Is this a smallish company or are you in a small town where everyone knows everyone? I just think a sick day is a sick day, and unless they have a pattern of being irresponsible, you should leave it at that. It’s not really something you should know.

    And for the self-assessment, the answer is ALWAYS I’m-the-bomb.com.

    1. always in email jail*

      I wondered this too. Did the person admit to their boss that they got alcohol poisoning? I’d just say I was sick and in the hospital and am anticipating returning to work on ____ date, regardless of the reason

      1. Jennifer*

        I would leave out the hospital part too. Maybe that’s what happened. When someone says they’re in the hospital, most people are going to ask if everything is okay because it sounds super serious.

  37. Roscoe*

    #1 . Please stop your judgment here. She was in the hospital, so she was definitely sick. She used a “sick” day for it. I don’t see what your problem is. I mean, yeah, she chose to drink. I’m sure she didn’t plan on ending up in the hospital. If someone was in the hospital for food poisoning because they ate at a greasy spoon would you want to penalize them too.

    You sound horrible to work for. The person was in the hospital. have a heart.

    1. LW1*

      I’m horrible because I have a question and am asking for input and advice before I take action?

      1. Roscoe*

        So, I do want to roll back my comments a bit. I wrote before reading all of your previous posts. Knowing that this has happened before, I get your concern, so I apologize for calling you horrible. I still think you may be overreaching, but I understand a bit more

        I do however question what you find sick days for, if her being in the hospital doesn’t constitute one? Like, self inflicted or not, its the definition of sick.

        I think its fine to talk about her reliability, but as others have noticed, 12 combined PTO days really isn’t that much. Hell, i don’t think I get a lot, and I get 10 vacation and 5 sick, and 2 personal. So going through 12 days in a year isn’t really that much, especially if some of those were planned vacation.

        1. LW1*

          Thank you for the apology. I am totally ok being told that you think I’m over-reaching. That’s why I asked! I’m getting lots of useful feedback and I think parsing through the different opinions has been very helpful.

          I agree that it is not much PTO, but unfortunately it is a companywide policy that is not within my power to change (set by someone way higher up than me). While I can’t change reality/expectations of the job it does make me more sympathetic to the employee. That said, I do think there is something to be said for when you are out oF PTO being careful about absences that are within your control. I would argue this was within the employee’s control, but any moral value I would/wouldn’t assign to the actions that caused the absence are unwarranted in the workplace. I think the difference is “be careful about out of work behaviors that effect your ability to be relied on in the workplace” rather than “drinking is bad and now I think you are naughty and irresponsible.” Right?

          1. Roscoe*

            That is exactly it. She has no more PTO time, so you can definitely bring it up to her and mention what consequences will be moving forward. Just don’t bring up the alcohol, that’s my opinion anyway

          2. Lucille2*

            Honestly, I would focus more on work performance and overall reliability than whatever caused the absences. If the employee is taking the number of absences allowed, it shouldn’t be under scrutiny. If the employee has no more paid time off available, then I think it’s wise to point out that fact and what options or lack thereof are still available and what happens if it’s not managed well. For example, at what point is termination a possibility based on their absences if paid time off is not available. Then the discussion is about what is expected at work and you avoid a morality discussion.

            I think we all know the drinking is causing the issue, but it’s on the employee to acknowledge that and do something about it. If they can’t get it together, you’re simply giving them the rope by which to hang themselves.

        1. Roscoe*

          True. I just, in general, don’t think bosses SHOULD question sick time. If you are going to give X amount of days sick time, then don’t police how people use them

            1. Roscoe*

              Then say “You are out of sick days, so anything else you take is unpaid, and since we didn’t plan for this, you will have X conseequences” . All of that can be done without asking or bringing up WHY those days were taken

              1. KHB*

                So you’re saying that someone who has a run of bad luck with their health (or with their kids’ health) should always be treated exactly the same as someone who has multiple alcohol-related absences or “just don’t feel like going to work today” days?

                1. Roscoe*

                  I mean that is workplace dependent. If your office policy is after you are out of sick days then its unpaid, then yes, they should be treated the same.

                  Here is how I’d put it. If I was out of sick days, and so was my co-worker with kids. I shouldn’t be docked pay because I’m out another day, whatever the reason, whereas he is given leeway because of his kids.

                  I’m not trying to be heartless here. But if you have kids, or just really bad luck one year getting sick, that doesn’t mean you should get more free sick time when others don’t. I’m of the opinion that WHY I’m using a sick day doesn’t matter. They are my days to take how I like. I know that is a controversial opinion on this site, but thats what I think.

                2. Anon for this*

                  I tend to agree with Roscoe on this one. We’re treading into bad territory by saying some unpaid time off is acceptable and others are not. The company possibly has policies to handle this sort of thing, and should be referenced first and foremost. An employee with less than one year tenure is not going to be given much leeway for excessive absences compared to an employee with a long and positive history.

                  Anecdote: I have a family member who struggles with alcohol addiction. After over a decade in her job, her recent excessive absences (alcohol related) were starting to put her job on the line. My assumption is that she was either on a PIP or a about to be. She used whatever resources she needed from work to allow her to go into a short term treatment program and has been able to keep her job. Had she been at the job less than a year, I doubt she would have kept her job. I don’t know if her work knew the reason for her absences, but it was enough to negatively impact her colleagues and put her job on the line.

                3. Sunshine*

                  This gets into really murky territory. Is their health bad due to their life choices? Are their kids actually sick, or skiving? Did they have a ‘don’t feel like going to work day’ or do they suffer from mental health problems? Is alcohol abuse a life choice or a health problem in itself?

    2. Où est la bibliothèque?*

      Dude, no. If the employee was “sick,” it’s because she deliberately infected herself. This is not at all the same thing as an injury or illness.

      Using your “food poisoning” example, it’s not equivalent to someone accidentally eating somewhere that gave them food poisoning. It’s going somewhere they have already gotten food poisoning, knowing it will give them food poisoning again, planning to only get a little bit of food poisoning but miscalculating.

      And the conversation in that case would still be “stop putting yourself in an avoidable situation where you have to miss work.”

      Claiming the LW is heartless is absolute nonsense.

      1. Roscoe*

        It doesn’t matter why you are sick, just that you are sick. Sick days are for days you can’t come into work. I’m not saying you should broadcast why. But the point is, she was in the hospital.

        If someone did a race like the Tough Mudder, and injured themselves doing it, it is still techinically self inflicted. Would you want to punish them then? Or are you just a puritan who thinks alcohol = bad

      2. WellRed*

        Getting food poisoning once does not mean automatically getting it again. (I think the sushi example further up is a better analogy.) Same with alcohol, you can drink too much and not end up in the hospital. However, knowing this is not the first time and there are other issues, time to say something.

      3. Arctic*

        I think this person is totally out of line for saying LW1 is horrible. LW1 has a valid question.
        But I completely disagree with you. Being self-inflicted doesn’t change the fact that it’s a legitimate illness. If he was doing something idiotic and broke his leg it’s self-inflicted but he still has a broken leg.
        And where do you draw the line? If someone with diabetes eats or drinks something they shouldn’t and is ill as a consequence is their illness less valid? If someone with Crohns disease eats something they shouldn’t? People aren’t perfect 24/7. They make mistakes and sometimes illness or injury comes from them. It doesn’t mean we have to punish them for it.
        Comments from LW1 make it seem that this is a more frequent problem. And that should be dealt with. But the idea that illness is only sympathetic if you are morally pure is ridiculous.

        1. Fergus*

          If she drank too much one time, so what. If they did it every weekend that would be an issue. She asked a valid question, it doesn’t seem like she’s a horrible boss.

        2. KHB*

          If the employee is overdrawn on PTO for the year (as she is in this case) and is continuing to engage in behaviors that make illness likely, that’s grounds for a conversation, at least. No, people can’t be expected to be perfect 24/7 – but employers aren’t wrong to expect a certain level of reliability from their employees.

      4. Roscoe*

        Also, your food poisoning analogy doesn’t work. I once got food poisoning from Culvers (a midwest burger chain). I’d gone many times and not gotten it. I’d hate to have a boss say “well you got it from there once, so you going back to Culvers makes it self inflicted” If they told me to not eat there again because I’m putting myself in an avoidable situation, my opinion of them would go WAY down

      5. Scarlet*

        You make it sound like food poisoning is predictable when it’s absolutely not the case.
        Likewise, alcohol poisoning is not necessarily predictable either (see other commenters above giving examples of people who ended up with alcohol poisoning even though they weren’t drinking crazy amounts of booze) and definitely not “deliberate”…

        Also, there should absolutely be a conversation since there seems to be a pattern, but it should be about the requirement of reliability at work and not about “putting yourself into such-and-such situations”, because that takes it outside the realm of work and into potentially overstepping territory.

    3. Rusty Shackelford*

      A more apt analogy would be “I’m allergic to chocolate, and whenever I eat it, I get intestinal distress and have to miss work, and sometimes I end up dehydrated and have to be hospitalized. But it’s my birthday so I’m gonna go eat chocolate.”

        1. sunny-dee*

          Like, twice in a year is significant enough to be significant though, right? That’s insane. Like, family should be intervening insane.

          1. Roscoe*

            But did she end up in the hospital twice for alcohol poisoning? It said an “alcohol related injury”. Hell, that could be tripping and falling while you were at the bar having a beer. You are reading a lot into this

      1. Anon for this*

        Along this analogy, I have an example. As a manager, I once had an employee who had some health issues which flared based on certain foods she ate. I was not privy to the details of acceptable/not-acceptable foods for her nor should I have been. However, she took a lot of time off. Her PTO balance was always in the 1-2 day range or a couple of times, running in the negative balance. I guess one could argue that her illnesses were self-inflicted, but I had the sense that it was more complicated than just avoiding a list of easily identified foods.

        I did have to talk to her about her reliability. I did not deny her taking PTO discourage its use because it was there for that reason. However, since deadlines were missed, crucial meetings had to be rescheduled, and her colleagues found her unreliable to work with, I did have to talk to her about better managing her time at work. I see LW1’s issue in the same way. The reason for absences is not LW’s concern, the issue is that of poor performance and unreliability. For my employee, EAP was less than helpful and FMLA was not a desirable option being that it is unpaid time off.

        I think the talk of whether or not an illness is self-inflicted is a wasteful one. It really boils down to work performance, not the employee’s drinking habits.

  38. K. A.*

    For #1, please have HR let the employee know about any EAP benefits your company may offer, including alcohol treatment or counseling (any counseling, not just addiction counseling because the underlying reason for drinking may be the issue).

    And I hope you will give her a schedule flexible enough to go to counseling.

  39. Pippa*

    As a social scientist, every single element of survey design in that stupid ‘self-assessment’ in #5 makes my eye twitch. I might use it as a Bad Example in class.

  40. I'm A Little Teapot*

    #5 – Not only are self assessments unreliable, they can be counterproductive. There’s research that shows that the MOST competent people also tend to be the ones who downplay their competence (because they know how much they don’t know), while the people who really aren’t competent think they’re awesome (because they have no clue how much they really don’t know). There’s even a phrase for it, not that I can remember!

      1. Gazebo Slayer*

        +100000 to both of these!

        Also, the people who claim to be awesome at everything are usually egotistical jerks. No thanks.

    1. Antilles*

      It’s the most confident guy who’s most likely to get in over his head without realizing it…and really cause major issues.

  41. Qwerty*

    OP2 – Have you considered typing notes on a laptop during the meeting? I found this helpful when I was in college. I type much faster than I write and (for me) it takes less brain power than writing things down. I set up a bulleted list at the start of the meeting and just let my fingers fly while I listen. Worry about organizing the notes into something useful later.

    Personally, I was able to listen better to the conversation when I did this. My brain started handling most of the typing subconsciously, which freed up my mind enough to pay attention to what was being. But because I was typing, my mind stays leashed to the meeting and is less like to wander off. Typing kinda acted as my fidget spinner, but with a useful result at the end.

    1. Goya de la Mancha*

      This. I doodled in HS and college for this, but the professional version would be typing. Unfortunately this can be distracting to some people.

  42. Snow Drift*

    #2 Recording meetings would be an emphatic “no” at many of my former companies, where I dealt with intellectual property. (In fact, those same companies usually had “talk in person” first policies, so phone calls and e-mail were considered last resorts for even casual conversations.) This very much depends on your industry.

    However, I’ve also worked places that used Skype/Adium for meetings that included people attending by phone, and often those systems were set up to record anyway. You may be to able to ask for access to a recording that already exists.

  43. Vicky Austin*

    LW #2: I also have ADHD, and I have worked in the disability/special education field my whole life. Getting permission to record your meetings absolutely would be considered a reasonable accomodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act. If your manager is worried about someone else hearing the recordings who shouldn’t be, then she can have you sign an agreement saying that you will not play the recordings out loud in earshot of people who weren’t at the meeting.

    1. Colette*

      That will depend on a lot of things, though, including what the company does and the legal implications of the recordings existing. Maybe it won’t be a problem – but it’s not guaranteed.

    2. Susie Q*

      What’s deemed reasonable is a very very very open definition. This can vary from company to company, from industry to industry. So what’s reasonable in one situation might not be in another.

    3. sunny-dee*

      It absolutely would NOT be considered a reasonable accommodation at my company because we work with secure customer (like government agencies and banks), deal with IP, and even mergers and acquisitions. We have to be careful about what’s recorded,

      And that doesn’t even get into other legal implications. Recording through a conferencing system is normal (and also VISIBLE to participants), but it would be illegal to record people privately without their knowledge — which setting up a phone in the middle of a meeting would be.

  44. Cat*

    I once applied for a retail job at Old Navy like 10 years ago and they had a self-assessment. They asked you questions like the ones above but also questions like “If you saw an employee stealing $1 from the register, what would you do?” with amounts all the way up to like $500. I got so mad at how stupid it was that I left them feedback at the end of the application about useless the questions were. Needless to say I didn’t get an interview XD

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      I applied at a giant soul-sucking retailer in the 80s and they had similar questions on their self-assessment, like “have you ever stolen from a previous employer,” and a manager said you’d be surprised at how many people answered that question honestly.

      1. Snow Drift*

        My answer to that was always “no” if it was a drop-down menu. If it was free answer, it was “not on purpose” because I was notorious for forgetting a pen in my ponytail.

  45. Lily*

    For LW #1 I don’t understand what this has to do with work. Yeah it was stupid and irresponsible, but it happened on the weekend, after work hours. If the employee had called in sick and not given a reason, or just said that they were in the hospital, this whole conversation wasn’t happening. It would be different if the employee had gotten drunk at work or came to work and threw up or something, but this happened on their off time. And the day they called out – they have vacation and sick days right? They were in the hospital, think that counts as a sick day.

    1. The Francher Kid*

      LW has commented that employee has been there less than a year, has already used up all PTO, and has other alcohol-related absences.

  46. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

    To LW4: a quick reminder that it’s not unforgivable to be “unskilled,” and that you shouldn’t spend a lot of time trying to prevent your difficult colleague from having that impression of you. You ARE unskilled in the technical aspects of this project. That’s not a crime. We don’t expect engineers to be skilled psychiatrists or psychiatrists to be skilled graphic designers. You don’t have to be all things.

  47. Confused*

    I don’t see the issue for OP 1. The employee was sick and called in sick. Why is it necessary to discipline someone for that? Getting alcohol poisoning is clearly not the best, but it’s not like this person is chronically calling in sick for drinking-related issues.

    1. Temperance*

      OP#1 clarified that this person has had previous alcohol-related incidents and other issues.

      1. ValkyrAmy*

        1 incident where the person injured herself due to alcohol intake and other “suspicious” absences. I wonder how much the “suspicious” (I’m probably getting the word wrong) were inferred to be alcohol related because that’s the topic.

        I can safely say that I have injured myself several times – enough to miss work – but only one was alcohol related. (Well, alcohol and ice related…I’m not graceful at the best of times, but tipsy the first time I was drinking after quitting breast feeding and walking outside on the ice when I’m from a place where I never have to walk on ice? Yeah…that hurt a LOT.)

        I miss a lot of work. But in the 20+ years I’ve been in the work force, none of my “suspicious” absences have been from anything beyond needing a mental health day. Correlation doesn’t equal causation.

        I wish I could advise the chaos muppet to be a little less forthcoming.

  48. Lily*

    For LW #3 – I got a similar assessment and was thinking of writing in! It was I think 100 questions long, and for a major city university medical center. ‘

    Some highlights I took screenshots of:

    – How often do you make others smile because your smile is contagious?
    – When you’ve made a mistake what do you do? (Ruminate over it, Concentrate on the mistake, Forgive myself, Ask someone else for forgiveness, Forget about the mistake, Take responsibility for the mistake)
    – How often do you get more work done than your coworker?

    1. Peridot*

      Wow, I think I applied to them years ago, but I’d forgotten how long that assessment was. And how frustrating.

  49. LaDeeDa*

    the bomb.com that is hilariously sad. My company’s marketing department doesn’t have anyone under the age of 55- their social media posts are embarrassing. Very obviously written by a 60 yr man, he posts what he thinks the kids are saying.

  50. J*

    LW1- in my experience at least, you don’t need to remember everything that happened in a meeting, unlike a class lecture. You’re colleagues might be discussing projects you’re not working on, brainstorming ideas that won’t go anywhere, or just spending 10 whole minutes trying to schedule something else. If you record them, you’ll fill you’re computers emeory with a lot of useless noise. As long as you’ve written down the big points (like dates, work that is assigned to you, or settled ideas) feel free to forget the rest. Also, a lot of the time someone will be assigned to take notes for everyone. If this is the case, simply explain why it shouldn’t be you. Or ask if this could be a workable system. I find meetings run better when only one person is looking at a computer.

  51. Goya de la Mancha*

    OP 1: It sort of reads in your letter that you might be looking for something to be the last straw type deal?

  52. beepboopin*

    Anyone else super annoyed that the scale on LW #5 does not go in ascending (or even descending order)?! That’s not good survey development!

  53. Arctic*

    Late to the game but I have ADHD and am constantly in meetings. I do find taking ridiculously detailed notes helps. Not the way other people take notes (pay attention and mark down the important things, which is just an invitation for my mind to wander.) But really detailed notes so that the thing I’m focusing on is the note taking.

  54. Guy Incognito*

    LW2, look into a Livescribe Pen. I used to work providing accommodations to employees with disabilities, and one of the things we recommended was that pen. It “records” everything as you write, but it’s set up so it only plays back what you missed based on what you’re writing.

    So, say you write down, “Take the folders to the shredder” but you think there’s a step before that, you can tap on it and you would hear just that part of the conversation that said, “remove all staples then take the folders to the shredder.”

    If you have diagnosed ADHD and you’re in the USA, you might be able to justify this type of recording device.

  55. ChiliBaby*

    I had the “Why do you want to work here?” thing happen to me! It was an interview for a summer internship and I was still in my Mater’s program. It was a group interview and the main person kept asking the question louder and more aggressive each time. After he slammed his fist on the table (on the fourth or fifth time he asked it) I started having a panic attack and walked out. To this day I still consider that position a bullet well dodged!

  56. My alarm clock*

    My “favorite” application when I was job searching had the question “What makes you get out of bed in the morning?” and a dropdown with about 8 options to choose from. Luckily, you didn’t have to just pick one, because you could pick one, add it to your running list, and then add more!

    The worst part was that I saw it twice, for completely different companies, which means people thought it was a good idea to make, and then even more people thought it was a good idea to buy.

    1. Mrs. Fenris*

      I posted about this one in the Friday thread a wee ago! My husband just ran into this one in an online application for freelance work. We were agog. And speechless. “Um…the alarm? An overwhelming love for having a roof over my head? I dunno.”

  57. Amelia Pond*

    LW #2- Is it possible you could get permission to take notes on a laptop or small chromebook (it’s smaller wouldn’t draw as much attention)? Because I know a lot of people, myself included, that can type much faster than they can write.

  58. ArtK*

    OP#2, searching for “adhd memory aids” brought up a whole bunch of resources. I haven’t looked at them to see how good they might be, but I’d start there and not with a recording device.

  59. Nanc*

    OP 3 I have no words of wisdom beyond what Alison said but from now on instead of saying “that sucks!” I’m going to go with “Well that’s just the cherry on a snot sundae!”

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

    #2 Is there someone tasked with taking meeting minutes? Rather than record the meeting or trying to write down everything that’s said so that you don’t miss any details, you could work with the minute taker, or maybe the boss could appoint a minute taker if there isn’t one already, to act as a backup on any items that specifically pertain to you.

  61. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

    OP#2: There are potential legal and privacy concerns with recording meetings in any field or industry, so I wouldn’t be surprised if you experience resistance to this. To give some perspective: At any corporate office that I have worked at in the US, the answer would have been No, for multiple reasons, including practical ones. The logistical hurdles that would have been required by my employers would be daunting, such as obtaining prior explicit written consent from each attendee for each meeting. The written consents, and the recording itself, would have to be kept and maintained by the company as official company records. What if a key person does not consent to the recording? What is the process then? External parties participating in a meeting would be unlikely to agree to such recordings, and a negative perception may be created even by asking. The recordings would be subject to discovery proceedings if the company was involved in a lawsuit, and none of the companies that I worked for would want that risk–that all the informal, off-the-cuff remarks in a meeting could be reviewed as part of a law suit.

    1. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

      I should have added that I live in a US state where it is illegal to record a conversion unless all the parties to the conversation have consented to the recording.

  62. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    #3 – not just red flags, sirens, nuclear alerts, etc. YOU DODGED A BULLET. I have, in my 45 year career, gone through some bizzaro weirdo interviews – too many to list here. There are some people who have comprehension alerts — “well, this is the third time you’ve asked that, can you be more specific, so I might give you a more detailed answer?” If the HR person hangs up – then , yeah, she’s just messing with you, no need to continue a dialog there.

    #1 – Many years ago I worked with two guys, on an overnight shift, that loved to smoke the substances on their lunch break. And on some Friday nights/Saturday mornings, they didn’t show up for work. Or, were in a condition where they couldn’t work effectively. We only had five sick days per year – obviously, the smart thing to do is save them up for when you DO get sick… because working the 3rd shift, your resistance to illness is reduced, and you may / will fall ill more.

    The worst incident I had was being called in – I think I was about to be fired – for NOT answering my phone on Friday night – until the manager realized I was on vacation and 1500 miles away! Turned out – it was Friday night Labor day weekend – and they both called in sick! And after having been paid overtime to make up for the work I wasn’t there to do that week! NOW THAT WAS FUNNY!

  63. always in email jail*

    LW #4
    This is something that is VERY common in my field (emergency management). It’s so easy for someone new to the field to say “I’d really like to develop a plan for evacuating partially-completed teapots from a damaged factory to other surrounding factories!” thinking it will be as simple as getting the teapots out, packed, and transported and then finding out:
    -Each factory already has their own plan
    -There are regulations about teapot transport
    -Each factory manufactures them differently, so they can’t be completed at the next factory without modifications to manufacturing equipment
    -There is already a “hot beverage container transport working group” working on something similar, and you’ll need to reconcile your plan with theirs
    How I would prefer an employee/colleague to address it is to do something very similar to what Alison said, but also provide a solution. So something along the lines of:
    “I’ve done a lot of digging, and in looking at existing plans in the region and having conversations with the teapot factory representatives, this is a much larger undertaking than I realized. To successfully do this plan, we probably need to contract with a teapot manufacturing expert or hire a project manager who can work on coordinating these partners full-time. Alternatively, I can develop a contact list of all the different teapot factories and teapot transport companies, so that we know we have resources available to evacuate teapots if the need should arise, and I can request to have myself and a teapot factory representative join the ‘hot beverage container working group’ to stay in-the-loop on those efforts. Would that work in the meantime?”

    The key is that end point, where you say hey, this project is bigger than I realized, BUT here’s a possible smaller solution that can address at least SOME of what we were hoping to accomplish. That way, you’re at least offering something up as a work product, instead of “oops, it took me a month of work to realize this can’t be done”.

  64. Lucille2*

    #2 – on recording meetings….In my industry, it’s not unusual or uncommon for some meetings, but let provide some context. I work for a vendor who provides software services to other companies. I consult our clients on how to use our software and help them achieve their goals with our software. I will often do webshare meetings where I am presenting information or training over the web. For these types of meetings, and especially where scheduling to accommodate all parties is challenging, I will offer to record meetings. However, since I work in a highly regulated industry, I am required to ask permission to record and gain approval from all participants.

    To record all meetings/conference calls is a bit excessive. Also consider the time you will need to listen back to those recordings if that’s scalable for the work you’re doing. Missing some parts of the meeting is not unusual, especially if the topic is highly technical and/or there is a large audience. I commonly receive questions on topics I already covered from active participants in the meeting. People often have various and legitimate reasons for not consuming 100% of the information presented – it’s totally normal.

    Also, I recommend getting to know the culture of your workplace before making such a request. Are certain meetings commonly recorded and made available for replay? If so, what type of meetings? Get a sense of whether or not this is a thing that’s done. But there will be certain meetings that should never be recorded like management meetings where employee performance is discussed candidly, or proprietary customer info or product info. Some stuff would be too vulnerable if stored on a server somewhere, so it’s important to use good judgement.

  65. LW 5 Here*

    Sorry I am late to the party–but I have read all the comments. Turn of the century vintage teen slang, huh? No wonder I didn’t recognize it–my kids were preschoolers. This is a soon-to-open indoor trampoline place, so I am probably not their favorite demographic, but I can do the job. By the way, I told Alison in a follow-up email that a download of my filled application showed “I’m OK” = 3 and “Yeah, that’s me!” = 4.

    As I mentioned in my post, I am just looking for a second job, so my standards aren’t that high–nearby, part time, nothing I’d feel guilty about leaving after a short time. Since we aren’t in that dire of straits, I’ve decided I won’t accept an offer if they make me one, since it took less than 5 minutes of internet research to find a red flag–the only other location in the state was sued last month for not paying overtime. I will, however, interview* if they call me because I MUST know if their interview questions are sillier than their self-eval. (Yes, I will update!)

    *I know it’s a bad idea–but I am really tempted to ask the interviewer, “What has the company/franchisee learned about why it’s unwise to include Wage & Hour violations in your Business Plan?”

        1. Liane*

          Only just saw these 2 replies. Yes, the lawsuit filing was reported on by a local newspaper–I found it on the paper’s website. It was the first or second Google hit after the business’ website.
          So no, I didn’t see it on an official company document–but this place seems almost clueless enough to put something like that in one! LOL

  66. LawBee*

    “And then she hung up on you, as the cherry on her snotty little sundae.”

    This is just **chef’s kiss**.

  67. Dinopigeon*

    LW2, I also have ADHD, so you have all my sympathy. But recording interactions at work is not going to fly, and frankly you’ll come off as wildly out of touch for even asking, despite the medical disability factor.

    In addition to the effect it will have on engagement at meetings (which is really the least of the concerns), you are creating a record, controlled by you on equipment and/or in a cloud space not accessible to your employer, that could contain proprietary data, sensitive information and conversations, data which is discoverable during any legal proceedings or even internal investigations (much like email), and even break the law depending on how your state governs recording. No employer I have ever worked for would be ok with an employee creating detailed, durable records outside the company’s own digital environment.

    About eight years ago, I started a job where I not only could not record things (which I want to stress again is standard, and being allowed to record is the anomaly), I also could not write things down, due to an unfortunate combination of legal obligations and how the workspace was set up that made notes completely impractical. You bet your ass my ADHD brain panicked hard the first several months, and struggled with details the first several years. But in the long run? The challenge and regular practice did improve my memory greatly- maybe not to NT standards, but well above where I started. More importantly, I learned to stop being embarrassed or afraid to ask someone for help when I forgot a salient detail- a lesson very hard for an adult with ADHD to unlearn. It will be a struggle and I’m sorry that we live in a society that puts us through this, but it may help lower your stress if you can frame it as an opportunity for growth.

  68. Ginger Baker*

    Re LW#2, I am sure it has been covered in the comments but recording meetings (regular meetings, not, say, the excel training session that was offered for learning) would open HUGE legal implications. I am not a lawyer, but I work with them daily and I cannot IMAGINE how panicked someone would be to have this very-legally-discoverable material generated on a daily basis like that. You really don’t want to have a moment where someone is suing you for adding pockets to your llama jackets (which hey, turns out, choking hazard WHOOPS) only to find out the plaintiffs discovered a recording of a meeting where Fergus (who was let go for a bullying prank the next day) said “have we checked to see if the pockets will create a choking hazard? I will look into that and report back” but then hey, Fergus was fired and no one looked into it and because there’s this recording proving it *came up* at a meeting, the company is now liable for $55 million instead of $5 million.

    Alarm klaxons went off in my head when I read this letter!

  69. cheeky*

    Re: the first letter, a lot of companies would never let a meeting be recorded, for legal or trade reasons, which is another reason to find another option. I wouldn’t even ask.

  70. L.T.*

    #4, I empathize so much with your situation. I actually considered writing to Alison myself on a subject I had been dealing with at work, but I couldn’t figure out quite how to word it or how to phrase it so that I had specific questions and not just a general “I have issues” letter.

    I took on a job where I was training to be someone’s support. Nine months into my role, he retired, and I had to become his full-on replacement. He didn’t even bother to teach me all of the tasks that his job entailed, just that down the line, among other tasks, I’d be responsible for X. X ended up being a huge, tedious, detailed, technical job that was semi-automated, and my trainer took the knowledge of the manual piece and the rest of the knowledge with him when he left. Our boss didn’t even know the specifics about it because the person who retired had a tendency to keep things to himself. It resulted in a lot of late nights at the office (seriously, I’ve been staying at the office late every day since the Monday after Thanksgiving, which is not common in my department). Unfortunately, I couldn’t even ask to be taken off the project because there was no one else in our department with as much familiarity/closeness of the job as I have. Fortunately, I’ve finally reached some semblance of the end, but it was an arduous journey. Two of the pros that came out of this is that my previously disengaged manager is now very involved in my progress in taking on the full duties of the role, and we’re set on automating more of the process. Long story short, yours is a horrible situation to be in, and I’m sorry you found yourself at this point. I hope you have an easier experience in finding other resources than I did with my challenging project!

  71. Lilysparrow*

    I am imagining in my head that the “why do you want to work here” lady was actually having a stroke at the time, and had lost the ability to process language.

    Because I just can’t deal with one more pointlessly mean person right now.

  72. Remote Worker and Dog Lover*

    OP #2, I have a really bad memory for direct quotes, which makes meetings a challenge. I started taking very detailed transcripton style notes and it’s made such a difference. Sometimes people who aren’t used to it will ask me about it in a surprised tone, especially if it’s a phone meeting and they hear my furious typing. I just explain that I have a poor memory and that has been accepted as sufficient reasoning!

  73. always in email jail*

    OP #2 you’ve already received loads of advice, but one thing that has worked for me (with diagnosed ADHD) is, at the end of the meeting, to say something along the lines of “Alright, so what I’ve captured for myself in terms of my (or “our” in external meetings) action items that require follow-up are X, Y, and Z. Can you think of anything I might be missing?”
    Coworkers usually appreciate that I bothered to confirm my understanding of what I needed to do to move us forward, and outside partners appreciate knowing that I took the time to really record what I said I would do for them, and to confirm I didn’t miss anything they needed. (Of course, the key is to then actually DO those things). It seems to work for me, I have a reputation for being very organized, always following through, and for structuring meetings/conversations well. I don’t share that I’m strong in those areas because I HAVE to be to function.

  74. Can't Think of a Name*

    Commenting a little late, but OP2, I’d suggest after meetings, you send an email to everyone in the meeting with the notes you took and ask if you’re missing anything. People don’t often do this, so it will make you look a) organized and conscientious and b) it is actually very helpful for everyone else in the meeting to have a reminder/summary of what was discussed, and what the next steps/action items are.

  75. Lauren*

    To the ADDer, I empathize. Maybe you can ask another employee to give you the notes they take at the meeting?

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