how to deal with a rude intern

A reader writes:

I am a relatively new manager who is having an odd issue with my intern. He has been with us for about two months, and in that time I have noticed that his basic professional manners are incredibly lacking-much more than I might reasonably expect for someone just out of college who has never worked in an office before. He is very abrupt in his questions and requests, especially over email; he never says (or implies) “please,” rarely says “thank you,” and does not apologize if he inconveniences me or anyone else on our team. He does this most pointedly with our most junior full-time staff member; for example, instead of politely asking her to print a non-urgent document from her machine when his connection to the printer suddenly went down, he recently sent her an email from across the room saying only “Print this.”

His hard skills are fine; he does a decent job on the tasks that we give him, but his tone ranges from a bit to incredibly snotty (a second example: when I asked him what he thought of a senior board member’s recent presentation, he told me only that he thought it could have been shorter). I definitely appreciate that managing interns is part manager, part professional etiquette instructor, but I never thought that “please,” “thank you,” and not barking orders to colleagues (especially those senior to you), would have to be part of this. How can I bring this up to him?

I answer this question — and four others — over at Inc. today, where I’m revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago (and sometimes updating/expanding my answers to them). You can read it here.

Other questions I’m answering there today include:

  • I look young and it’s affecting me professionally
  • Turning down an internal promotion
  • New company wants me to start earlier than I want to start
  • Should I share a referral bonus with a friend?

{ 315 comments… read them below }

    1. C in the Hood*

      At the exit interview for my last job, one of the things I said that a simple please & thank you would really change the tone of the office (yeah, the WHOLE office was like this).

      1. irene adler*

        You are right. Manners make most everything go smoothly.
        We had a lab tech -graduated from Cal Tech- who was just as ill-mannered. No “please” or “Thank you” ever. Just uttered short sentences for what she wanted.
        Initially, I thought she was shy. As her supervisor, many co-workers approached me about her behavior. So we chatted. Turns out, she felt we were beneath her. Hence no need for polite niceties.

          1. irene adler*

            Not much to tell. I pointed out that, from now on, she needed to use “please” and “thank you” when interacting with all co-workers. No exceptions. I got no pushback or argument. Just stony silence.

            I was not gonna address the condescension. “I see” was about all I said to that. I gather that she had a very hierarchical view of co-workers and treated people accordingly. I think this may have been her first job- ever. So I have a few ideas as to where she glommed onto this notion.

            A couple of times after this, she fell asleep during the work day (per others who observed this, she snores). Usually on a Monday. Then she decided to take off a Monday holiday that we didn’t have. No notice was given.
            I spoke to her about these things. “We only get to take days off that are listed in the employee manual”. “Do you need more work to do as what is assigned is putting you to sleep?” Stony silence.

            I figured she was interviewing for another job. And I was right. Otherwise I would have brought this to management to discuss documenting this for termination.

            Very shortly thereafter she put in her notice. She was headed to Silicon Valley. I figure that they would surely put her in her place.

        1. Works in IT*

          Who lets people they think are beneath them know they think that? That’s just asking for problems later!

          …. not entirely sarcastic, it really does make no sense to let someone who has lost all respect you have for them when they hit reply all to every single person in the department of the director their email is mocking know that you lost all respect for them….

          1. De-Archivist*

            Well, I mean if she thought they were beneath her, then why should she care if they know?

            What a nightmare employee! I can’t even imagine.

            1. irene adler*

              Actually, she did perform well in the lab (when awake!).
              It’s just sad that she had such a bad attitude towards her co-workers. C in the Hood is right, this affects the entire work place. Can’t have that.

          2. Traffic_Spiral*

            Further, since when does “beneath” mean “license to be rude?” The guy who gets the tea and washes the coffee mugs at my office is “beneath” me, but I still say please and thank you when I want a cup.

        2. monz*

          OMG, really? How sad to go through life being rude to people you feel are beneath you. What a narcissist! I would love to hear an update on this (I am just in shock) LOL, I once worked (sorry) with a woman who refused to flush the toilet….disgusting to say the least. Makes me wonder why people who’s clock winds the opposite direction, just don’t work from home.

    2. MassMatt*

      OP mentioned she was a relatively new manager but two months is a long time to let this kind of rude behavior go without addressing it. It’s best to nip these things in the bud ASAP when they crop up, especially for an intern whose tenure may be short to begin with.

      We’ve seen many letters here where people get an evaluation and are surprised that doing x or not doing y was a problem. “Why didn’t they just tell me”? Tell him!

      1. fposte*

        Yeah, I think it’s easy to get distracted by how shocked you are at this, but it’s a really clear and specific thing to communicate. Think of it as the equivalent of telling him not to use two spaces after his periods (which I still do because generational thing); it’s just a factual, actionable thing that he needs to change.

    3. Blue_eyes*

      Yeah, that intern was way out of line. Even my boss who is often terse in emails will write “please print” instead of “print this”. It’s still only two words, but one of them is “please”. And as her assistant, it’s my job to do stuff like that when she asks. I can’t imagine sending something like that to a peer or superior.

      1. Rude boy*

        I am not convinced — based on the examples provided — that this intern is really so rude. We had a letter a few weeks ago from someone who was upset that no one ever said “please do this” instead of “do this.” AAM’s certified legit response was, “people don’t use the word ‘please’ so much any more, so your expectation is unrealistic.” Personally, I don’t know that I agree, but if that is the case, I don’t see how we can complain about this intern. We also just had a letter about to-the-point e-mails.

        We have also had letters from people complaining that being constantly thanked for performing routine tasks was demeaning. Again, I don’t know that I agree, but if this attitude has taken root, we can’t be surprised at this intern’s behavior.

          1. Rude Boy*

            It may have been one of these. (Also, by “AAM” I meant commetators in general, not you specifically.) I have spent half an hour searching for the exact comment and can’t find it. It could be I am misremembering. Still, I think that the below capture the flavor of what I am saying.




              1. valentine*

                I don’t remember which letter, but the point was that people still ask politely, just without the word “please”.

        1. Sunshine*

          “I am not convinced — based on the examples provided — that this intern is really so rude”

          Saying ‘print this’ to a senior colleague is rude. Leaving out pleases and thank yous is rude. Inconveniencing other people is rude. Not apologising when you do it is ruder.

          There is a world of difference between cringing and apologising in every correspondence and apologising appropriately when you inconvenience a colleague.

          1. Myrna M*

            “Saying ‘print this’ to a senior colleague is rude.”
            I’m wondering -why does the seniority make it rude? Shouldn’t a rude action be just that no matter how the level of the person you’re talking to?

            1. Sunshine*

              Yep it’s rude if said to anyone. However during my extremely brief stint in academic admin, professors routinely did this and it was considered normal and acceptable behaviour for some reason. So doing it to a senior colleague is even more tone deaf.

            2. LunaLena*

              I think it’s because saying “print this” is an order, and when you have seniority, you have the authority to be giving orders and therefore it’s “allowed.” Of course it’s always nice to say “please” and “thank you” even if you have seniority, but it’s not strictly necessary. I’ve worked for people who were former high-ranking military officers, and it wasn’t unusual for them to slip back into military mode and say “do this.” They didn’t mean to be rude, they were just used to giving orders to their subordinates, and no one really thought it was a big deal.

              Subordinates shouldn’t be giving higher-ups orders, though, and that’s why the lack of seniority makes it rude.

    4. Wherehouse Politics*

      I used to work for several years with children and had a pair of quiet siblings at my job who were actually shy and nice enough in nature, but the pleases and thank yous where it would be appropriate were conspicuously absent. Found out the mother drummed into them to never say it, and to resist any pressure from peers or authority to do so, and she told other parents and teachers she finds it a phony gesture that she’s doing her part -through instructing her kids- to eliminate.

      I have the feeling part of their quiet shyness was not having a method to asking for what they wanted and needed without feeling either rude or disobeying their mother’s wishes.

      1. monz*

        I am a mother and if my kids didn’t say please or thank you, I would find that embarrassing. Why would a mom raise her kids to not be polite?

    5. Jennifer Juniper*

      Really! Maybe this intern has a serious case of precocious puberty and is really 18 months old.

    6. LunaLena*

      I don’t mean to bag on millennials and Gen Zers, but is it possible that it simply hasn’t occurred to the intern that work email isn’t the same as texting your friends? I work at a university and sometimes communicate directly with students, and I’ve noticed that (depending on the student) sometimes they respond to emails the way they would texts – and they also communicate through text 100x more than email too. A frequent complaint I hear from faculty and staff is that students don’t read their emails, and students seem baffled that they’re expected to check their email on a daily basis.

      So I think it’s quite possible that this intern simply doesn’t realize that he’s being rude, he simply doesn’t know how to communicate via email, and no one has corrected him yet. Of course he might simply also be rude as well, but I’d give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he’s just young and stupid as we all were at some point.

  1. Not Today Satan*

    Re: looking young: Ugh. I’m 33 and STILL get mistaken for an intern. As I’ve gotten older I’ve made a conscious effort to “age up” my wardrobe, but it makes no difference. At my age, I’ve given up on this phenomenon ever ending. I have crow’s feet for goodness sake.

    1. She's One Crazy Diamond*

      I’m 26 and keep waiting for the day people no longer think I’m a teenager. I even have a few lines under my eyes now but apparently it still doesn’t help. I’m part Asian and have a round face and freckles, but come on, I’m clearly at least an adult.

      1. Future Homesteader*

        Also round-faced and freckled with crows’ feet, plus I’m about five feet tall. I’m 32. What finally flipped the switch for me was having a baby – now I just look haggard and tired all the time. :-P (Being pregnant didn’t even help, though, I got asked if I was graduating while almost six months pregnant and buying a gift at the bookstore for my student worker. It really takes the truly stressed and depleted look of new parenthood to ruin the inherent youthfulness of a round face.)

        1. She's One Crazy Diamond*

          I’m so afraid of being treated badly by people who assume I’m a teen mom when I get pregnant. I have heard horror stories of people who have even experienced discrimination from nurses.

          1. Future Homesteader*

            Oh, wow. I didn’t experience any of that, thankfully. Happy to chat more about my experience in the weekend open thread, but…any nurse who did that should be kicked out of the room, teenage mom or no.

      2. Don't Block the Door*

        Take it from one who knows: You’ll get your revenge later when you’re 60 and don’t look a day over 42.

        1. Xarcady*

          Seconded. Even my eight-years younger sister looks older than me now. (She is not happy about this, but it is not my fault.) People routinely think I’m in my early 40s. I’m in my late 50s.

        2. Need More Caffeine*

          I came here to say the exact same thing! In my days as a young college professor I looked so young I was always, without exception, mistaken for not just a student but a brand-new freshman. My fellow professors also treated me like a student. No one took me seriously, no one gave me respect. When I switched to being a TV/screenwriter, same thing exactly.
          WELL NOW I AM 66 and look like I’m in my early 40s, and in the movie business,a business that is notorious for brutal, punishing ageism and sexism, that means, literally, I’ve had almost 20 extra years of being able to work, and am STILL working. I work out at the gym with a trainer twice a week and have had people actually gasp when I (very, very occasionally) share my actual age.
          Believe me, it’s the greatest!!! Totally worth it!!! You’ll see!

          1. Need More Caffeine*

            ps I just have to remember to look blank when topics like Nixon’s resignation come up haha

          2. Crooked Bird*

            Congrats! Also it’s unbelievably screwed up that the movie business is wasting the talent of everyone who doesn’t happen to look like you. (btw I’m in the same boat though not the same business! & I’m only 38 & motherhood did a number on me so, not sure I’m going to reap those dividends really…) Are you on-screen now for some reason or do they just pull ageist BS with everybody, writers included?

        3. MCMonkeyBean*

          I really hate when people say things like this to me. For one thing it’s very dismissive of perfectly valid complaints. For another, you don’t even know that that’s true. Maybe when I’m 60 I’ll look awful!

      3. Clewgarnet*

        My hair going grey seems to have solved the problem for me, but it was something I had to put up with for a long time. I found the thing that helped was changing my manner to be much more confident. Somewhere on the internet, there’s a video of Lena Headey giving a tutorial on Cersei’s ‘murder walk’. As soon as I started walking more like that, I got treated more as an adult.

        However, with the shield of the grey hair, I seem to have lapsed back into meandering. I was wearing a hat the other day and got IDed buying a bottle of wine. I’m 41! (In the UK, you only get IDed if you look under 18 or, in some places, under 25.)

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’ve always looked young for my age. When I started at my current job, I had years of difficulty with a specific few engineers…until the week I got back from my 15year college reunion and posted the mementos on my cubicle wall. For two of them I don’t know if it was the institution or the number of years since graduation that caused the change for two guys, but the third specifically blurted “I didn’t know you were that old!”
      To this day I’m pleased I had the grace to say something like “The hazard of an informal dress code” and move on to “Is that the Teapot Approval form I’ve been waiting for?”

      It’s made me very sensitive to the problem in others.

    3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      I honestly think a big part of this is entrenched sexism in law practice. I look young for my age, but I’m also asked extraordinarily absurd questions by male judges and lawyers that literally no one else would ask.

      I do a few things:
      * When someone asks if I’m a paralegal/secretary: “I’m Counsel for [Client].” Lather, rinse, repeat.
      * If a coworker repeatedly insists that I am a clerical worker or other non-lawyer: I start referring to them as a clerical worker and watch them sputter in rage. This is ridiculously satisfying.
      * When someone asks if I’m an intern: “Bless your heart” (delivered in a mildly patronizing tone) or “Oh, you’re so funny!” (delivered in an overly cheerful/gregarious tone)
      * When someone asks me to take notes because they think I’m clerical staff: I ask if they’d take notes, instead, so I can focus on our conversation.
      * When someone suggests secretaries are inferior and suggests I am one: “I’m so grateful for [name of my legal secretary]. Having someone who takes on the administrative heavy-lifting really allows me to focus on client matters in a way that was impossible before I worked with [name of legal secretary].”

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          I used to get flustered, but I’ve found the shade arsenal is so helpful :)

          1. Marthooh*

            “Princess Consuela and the Arsenal of Shade” (YA, 2019)

            Princess Consuela Banana Hammock must save her kingdom from the invading Esquires of Patriarchy. It seems like a hopeless task — until she rediscovers the legendary Arsenal of Shade!

            Available wherever fantastic fiction is sold!

            1. Snark*

              I’m just imagining Princess Consuela on a reviewing stand surrounded by her cabinet, waving primly as a parade of troops holding shade-guns, mobile shade-missile launchers, and shade-tanks roll past, with Rule Shadeannia booming from big speakers.

          2. Rookie Biz Chick*

            Thank y’all both so much for this. ARSENAL OF SHADE is forthwith being printed and framed in my home office. This is now my focus when I get rageblinded by similar condescension and sexism.

      1. Kanye West*

        This was enjoyable to read. I can’t really relate to that problem and I am sure it is irritating in real life but if you could reframe it into being the problem of the people approaching you and it is embarassing for THEM and not you, I could picture having so much fun with it.

        You could accept the flowers, not correct them at all and see how much more they are willing to dig their own hole. You could change the font size of your title in your e-mail signature to get bigger and bigger or in some cases so big that it doesn’t fit on the screen depending on the mails you got.

        Don’t forget! In Dragonball, it is an asset to be able to hide your true power and be in a position to surprise your opponent with it.

      2. Astrid*

        I completely agree that these types of problems are rooted in sexism in the legal world. Here’s my own example. As a 2nd year litigation associate, I sat through a long motion calendar and responded when my case was called by walking to the bench. Arguing the motion, there were six men and me, a 27-year-old dressed in a suit and carrying a briefcase. The first thing the judge (old white man, of course) asked is if I was a paralegal. Twenty years later, I have a bunch of responses that would easily come to mind, mostly calling into question the judge’s fitness for the bench. At the time, though, his question had the intended effect: I immediately questioned my abilities, as I’m sure my opposing counsel did too.

        Now I know that the best response to this purported confusion (just as with any other biased or uninformed assumption) is “Why would you think that?” Make the person say out loud why they cannot accept that a young woman is a professional.

    4. Elizabeth*

      RE: looking young

      I have a similar issue. I’ve learned that both how you dress and how you act can make a big difference in how others perceive your age.

      I find that wearing glasses (you can buy clear lenses if you don’t need a prescription!) and more traditional/mature look clothes help a bit.

      Also – look up “executive presence” and try to apply some of those behaviors. For example, I learned that nodding frequently or smiling a lot (things I do a lot!) while someone else is talking can indicate that your rank is lower than theirs. Many female-socialized behaviors like this can subconsciously signal lower rank in business settings.

      This is an unfortunate dynamic certainly, but being aware of it and remaining vigilant about your behaviors can help you consciously shape others’ perception of you toward how you want to be perceived. In other words, knowing about it gives you some control back.

      1. Mike C.*

        “Executive presence” always comes off as fake to me, regardless of gender. It makes me feel like they’re trying to lie or sell me a used car or something.

        1. LQ*

          I think there’s a kind that feels genuine and the kind that feels smarmy. But I’ve always wondered if that’s a different thing to different groups of people. The kind that feels genuine to me may feel smarmy to someone else, or vice versa.

          I went back and read some of the comments from the open thread and I’ve been reading a lot of other “executive presence” things lately. Most of those come off as bs-ey to me. Smarmy (the used car thing). I recently told someone (who is the “handler” for me from our vendor on a large project) that I know he doesn’t care about the thing he asked about because no one cares but it’s his job to ask and pretend to care about random thing. It may not have been the nicest thing but it was just like, dude I just need you to answer my questions as best you can, put the notes I told you about into the email you’re going to send out and call it a day, I have other shit to deal with.

          On the other hand there is a sort of …person who is clearly excited and engaged with the conversation, the nodding, smiling, gesticulating, and even sometimes interrupting, kind of person who I absolutely feel like have a kind of executive presence. That person I would follow anywhere. The person who is all in and engaged in the conversation with me and understanding and trying to follow and being honest when they don’t get it? That’s executive presence to me. (Which may explain why I’m more likely to do and emulate that behavior, or maybe I assume that’s executive presence because that’s the way I naturally am…chicken or egg?)

      2. Jennifer Juniper*

        Huh. So how do you indicate you are actively listening without giving the impression you are junior? I thought that nodding and smiling indicated you were listening and encouraging the person to keep talking.

        1. n*

          A nice, gruff “uh-huh” or “yep!” every once in a while does the trick. I think it’s the smiling + nodding that makes you seem more junior, rather than just nodding + other affirmation gestures/noises.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      Looooong ago, I recall Glamour had a really useful article of professional makeovers. For problems like this, “I look very young and people think I’m an intern.” Or “We got a company photo and I realize I dress like I’m the most junior person there, though I’m not” or “I got a promotion and will be the youngest person by far at this level” or “I swapped to consulting and my old wardrobe is divided into expensive suits and ripped sweats, neither of which hits the mark for the occasional short client meeting.” And the makeovers were all actually useful, not how to look like a TV character playing this job.

      I suspect OP would be helped by some sort of stylist consultation. I have no idea how one finds these things, but I think I’ve seen some practical suggestions to blogs here?

    6. Zona the Great*

      Yep. 33 and have actually had coworkers who have met me several times tell me they thought I was so-and-so’s HIGH SCHOOL-AGED CHILD.

      What helps me is taking advantage of opportunities to really put someone in their place. I recently had a older male colleague lean over to me at the beginning of a meeting *that I was running* to tell me what his coffee order was–not even to ask for coffee. I ignored him until it came time to start the meeting at which point I stood up and exclaimed, “Fergus here has just informed me that he would like to take the coffee orders of anyone who would like one and he’ll run and fetch it for us.” I then turned to a very upset Fergus and simply asked, “are we cool here?” and moved on with the meeting.

    7. Ella Vader*

      I got carded at 35 to get on the casino floor to go to a concert. People at work still think I’m in my early 30s even though I’ve been here 12 years and started when I was 28. I’m the senior paralegal to the firm’s rainmaker/president, and I’ve gotten used to being seen as younger (and appreciate it more now that I’ve hit 40.) If anyone mentions it, I just say, “I wish!” and let it go.

      I’d be miffed, though, if I went to law school and kept getting treated like I was a secretary. Not that there’s anything wrong with that since I’ve rarely seen a male secretary and people do love making assumptions, though.

    8. rj*

      I am also 33. I am a professor. I am a woman. I’ve been a prof for 5.5 years now. Depending on the interaction I like to either say, oh, that’s an odd comment because I think older women are awesome! in others situations… I rant about how our culture glorifies female youth and talk about how that is extremely problematic for various reasons (gotta know your audience for this one).
      also the people who make these comments are the type of people who (as poster below notes) often make disparaging remarks about admins. so many eyerolls for those folks.

    9. stump*

      I’m 30 and apparently look around 20, even though I dress nicer/more professionally than any 20 year old tends to, hopefully act more maturely than a 20 year old, and, y’know, have fine lines and the beginnings of crows feet. Luckily I haven’t gotten the “WELL WHAT’RE YOU DOIN HERE MISSY MISS INTERN?????” treatment (my office is pretty cool about treating people well and everybody knows everybody else), but damn, I’m still keeping on my toes because I don’t trust People elsewhere to not pull that someday. :/

    10. aebhel*

      My spouse is 33 and recently got carded to get into an R-rated movie. It was amazing, although since I was with him and wasn’t carded, I’m a little concerned about what they thought our relationship was, lol.

    11. bonkerballs*

      Also 33, and my office is right next to a private high school. I do look young for my age, but I in no way look like I could still be in high school. And yet, I regularly get stopped by the teachers that are standing out front greeting students telling me I’m going to be late to class or I’m wearing something that violates the dress code. I have more than once told them it is concerning to me that they are high school teachers and don’t know what a teenager looks like.

      1. Baby-Face SLP*

        I feel your pain. I’m a speech-language pathologist and was taking an Uber to a local high school to do hearing screens. When my driver got a little confused with the directions and I told her that I couldn’t help her find it because I’d never been before, “but we’re looking for a school,” she asked in full earnest excitement if I was transferring schools and it was my first day. Facepalm!

        Unfortunately as an SLP that works primarily with adults it’s a little difficult to try out some of the recommendations in terms of attitude that people suggest to make myself come across as my true age– establishing a friendly rapport with patients is part of my job, but I still need them to accept that I know what I’m talking about when I assign exercises/diet recommendations/etc.!

    12. Jenny*

      I was routinely mistaken for a teenager until right around 30, and it mostly stopped entirely by 35. I agree that “mature” looking, higher-quality suits can help. Mostly, I just stopped caring, and got a kick out of reminding them, “Please address me as Doctor.”

    13. Hannah Solo*

      I recently decided to live and work overseas, and told my current boss about my plans. He was incredibly supportive … that this is something I should do while I’m “young” and that I “don’t want to be 35 and looking back on never having done it.” I didn’t have the heart to tell him that I was only a few months off turning 35. (To be fair to him, he definitely wasn’t trying to be condescending, and I genuinely do look that young; most people I meet are shocked to learn my actual age.)

  2. CatCat*

    Oooh, #2, sympathy. Check out the facebook group “Stuff Women with Law Degrees Say” as sometimes the posts there are cathartic and you find you are not alone. Women are often default assumed to be secretaries or, at court, if a woman who “appears” hispanic or Asian, you’re also assumed to be the court interpreter.

    I found when I was doing litigation, the assumptions could be weaponized to benefit the client because opposing counsel making low assumptions about your abilities tend to slack in their cases. It’s a great chance to clean their clocks. It’s sooooo satisfying and especially when you do it right in front of their client.

    1. Ashley*

      I do try and make my age and gender work for me as much as I can. Any vendor that wants me to actually buy from them knows quickly not to mess with me because I do generally have the power not to buy from them. We do have customers through he prefer a man handle their project and I have accepted they are idiots from a different era and I am better off not dealing with it. Just be prepared to know your stuff more then most and word will travel in your circles eventually that you are legit so it becomes more occasional.

      1. RUKidding*

        If a vendor wants me to buy from them I dont care what “time” they are from. Treat me properly or be gone.

    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      It is amazing how many times male attorneys will assume a woman is not an attorney (and thus invisible) and will proceed to disclose all manner of confidential stuff in front of her. I’ve had to caution opposing counsel that they’re at risk of waiving attorney-client privilege, and the response I’ve gotten has always been batshit crazy.

      But I agree that cleaning someone’s clock when they underestimate you is really satisfying.

      1. Jadelyn*

        At risk of derailing, I am desperately curious as to what “batshit crazy” entails in this context.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Think screaming, throwing things, accusing me of being too “emotionally invested” in the case (as if their reaction is rational?), sending shout-y emails to the judge complaining about me, sending shout-y emails to my boss complaining about me, getting into my personal space and standing over me to physically intimidate me, etc.

            1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              They never do. What they’re really upset about is that a woman identified that they did something that puts them at risk of malpractice, and how very dare she. When they complain, they sound unhinged because I’m fulfilling a professional responsibility obligation, and they’re complaining about me trying to help them cover their own asses.

              It’s probably trying for my bosses and for judges, but I find the subsequent bench-slapping to be incredibly satisfying.

          1. SavannahMiranda*

            Wait WTF? After *they* nearly waived their client’s attorney-client privilege? And you gave them the professional and ethical courtesy of notifying them before they got too far down the path?

            It boggles the mind. My mind is boggling.

          2. Jadelyn*

            My eyes just bugged out of my head. Holy crap, who ACTS like that? Freaking adult toddlers?

            I commend you more than ever on how much BS you deal with on a regular basis!

            1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              It’s something I honestly never anticipated needing to deal with in my job, and I kind of wish that there were professional development programs in law school about how to deal with the rampant sexism in the profession.

    3. Sk*

      The architecture industry does the same thing. I’m in my early 30’s but still get carded all the time. On at least 5 occasions so far at a professional events I’ve introduced myself as so-and-so with whatchamacallit architects, and get a response of “oh, are you the receptionist?”. Uh, no, I’m an architect…

      1. twig*

        My mom was an architectural drafter (now retired) — she probably spent the majority of her career being the only woman ‘in the back’ and was the one asked to make coffee when the receptionist was on vacation.

        I’m sorry (though not surprised) to hear this is still going on.

    4. Jasnah*

      “at court, if a woman who “appears” hispanic or Asian, you’re also assumed to be the court interpreter”


  3. EH*

    Wow, Inc’s video ads somehow make it past my ad blocker AND autoplay blocker. I’m using Chrome, anybody got a suggestion for a plugin that’ll handle these ads? One always appears when the page first loads, and after I’ve closed the ad, when I make it to the bottom of the page, another ad starts playing – up at the top, so I can’t see it.

    1. TurquoiseCow*

      I didn’t see the ads, but I still heard the music. I didn’t think any websites were still doing autoplay stuff.

    2. ElspethGC*

      On Chrome for me, after the first time that I right-clicked on the tab to mute the site, every time I’ve opened Inc it’s automatically had the site muted. Not a plug-in, just normal Chrome. I also use AdBlock Plus because you can block specific elements on the page – I know I’ve had to do that on Inc before, when it hasn’t automatically caught something and I’ve had to say “Oi, block this as well.”

      1. Stormfeather*

        Huh, maybe I’ll have to look into Never Ads then. I have Ad Block Plus on Firefox which is usually great but yeah, still getting these stupid pop up autoplay videos.

        1. RUKidding*

          Looking through my phone I see that I also have “Refine.” IDK if it’s just a (i)phone thing or not though.

    3. Heynonniemouse*

      I used Adguard, which isn’t free but if worth every penny. I have the Android version on my phone, too, and it’s equally good.

  4. Jennifer*

    Fire his rude behind. Tell him exactly why. It’s not your job to do what his mama and daddy should have taught him long ago. He’s a brat and too many people have enabled this behavior. This will hopefully be the wake-up call he needs before starting his next role.

    1. Roscoe*

      This seems harsh since he probably doesn’t even realize he is coming off badly to others. Why not at least give him the chance to correct the behavior before going this route?

      1. Works in IT*

        I saw the optics of him ordering the (woman) junior employee around and read his rudeness as sexism rather than lack of social skills. “I am male and I am competent I don’t need to be polite”.

        1. Anna*

          Except we don’t know if this is how he is with other non-female coworkers, so we can’t assume it’s sexism. The OP used the print email as an example, but also implied he’s like this with everyone.

        2. Jennifer*

          My impression is that he doesn’t “waste time” being polite to people who he doesn’t feel are important. Who that is in his mind is up for debate.

        3. Clisby Williams*

          He might very well be sexist, but I’ve known plenty of sexist men who knew how to say “please” and “thank you” to co-workers – both female and male. This is an absolutely basic level of required politeness.

        4. Lizzy May*

          I definitely think it can be read that way and I would be more observant going forward in terms of how he treats the women in the office as opposed to the men but I don’t think it’s necessary to bring it up at this juncture. Now is just about getting him to say please and thank you. But I’d have my eye on him going forward too.

      2. Autumnheart*

        There’s no way he got all the way through college without being told at least once that you can’t just bark orders at people.

        1. Sunshine*

          I was never told this in college. I didn’t have to be! No-one should have to be told that senior colleagues are not your personal slaves!

      3. aebhel*

        Maybe one chance. Maybe. But this isn’t a job skills thing, it’s a very basic manners kind of thing. If an intern summarily ordered me to do something for him like that, I would have laughed in his face and sent him packing.

    2. Lena Clare*

      Well…it’s weird that he doesn’t know that yet, but you might reasonably expect him to buck his ideas up once you spoke to him and gave him one chance. After that not so much.

      Some people don’t have the advantage of good role models for parents! And it might be argued that the role of an intern’s manager *is* to make obvious what isn’t obvious to some people in the workplace.

      1. Jennifer*

        You are right about the having good parents thing. I guess what I am getting at is that he should have picked it up by now.

        1. Czhorat*

          It feels too harsh for me in some ways, but as an intern there can be something said for taking one chance to try to teach him the importance of treating people decently.

          I’m also completely sensitive to your position that “act like a decent human being” should be a default which doesn’t need explicit teaching.

          1. Jennifer*

            I get your point. I do get that part of managing interns is teaching them basics about what it’s like to work in an office, but from many of these letters it seems more about parenting which is very strange to me. I didn’t have an internship and made a lot of dumb decisions, but no one had to tell me to sign off an email with ‘Thank You.’

            1. sunny-dee*

              Yeah, interning should be about how to prepare reports and manage projects and expectations around requesting PTO and how to have “soft influence.” Not how to say please / thank you or perform basic life skills like showing up on time.

          2. CanadaTag*

            *nods thoughtfully*

            At the same time, there are people for whom “implicit teaching” does not work – for example, autistics. Not saying this intern is autistic, but some people (myself included) do have to be specifically, explicitly taught, “this is how you interact with other people”. (My parents were sticklers for “please” and “thank you”, etc., so I use them automatically, but for those with social interaction issues without parents like mine – or others who could teach them that sort of thing – it can be a problem.)

            1. Jennifer*

              Without any evidence that he is on the autism spectrum, I am going to reiterate that managing interns should be about professional development, not parenting. Sometimes the way you learn is by failure.

            2. Jennifer Juniper*

              I’m autistic. This guy is just a jerk, autistic or no. Your point about “implicit teaching” is on point. I received weirdly out-of-date socialization as a teen thanks to being a Christian fundamentalist. It wasn’t until many years later that I learned how out-of-sync I was with the rest of the country.

              1. CanadaTag*

                Oh, yeah, this guy is being rude, very definitely. I have no disagreement on that point. (And yes, we autistics can be rude deliberately, and be jerks – I have a blog post on that! ;) ) It was the “implicit teaching” point I wanted to point out.

                (And ref the reply above: I agree in terms of spectrum or not, this guy should have learned to be polite earlier in life. It’s just that some people have to be explicitly taught that, and if no one does that for someone….)

      2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        He’s an intern, he’s gone through at least 14 years of schooling to get to this point, he doesn’t need PARENTS! to tell him to say please and thank you, you learn that from your grammar school teachers even if you’re raised by a pack of wolves.

    3. Cat Fan*

      It would probably be better to just tell him these things are important and tell him that he has to improve or he’ll be let go and not given a good reference. I can’t really justify firing someone without at least giving them one opportunity to make improvements.

    4. CRM*

      I actually like the idea of giving him a little more leeway because he is a young intern. For all we know, he could be internalizing advice telling him to “act professionally” that he understood to mean “don’t be too casual or friendly”. Add to that the fact that it can be particularly difficult for those who aren’t great communicators to convey a good tone via email.

      I’m not saying he isn’t a brat. But we’ve all done cringe-worthy stuff at work, especially at the beginning of our careers (Alison had a whole post about this last year!), and I wouldn’t jump to any conclusions before having a conversation with him about the behavior.

      1. Works in IT*

        See, I’ve seen enough accounts of sexist behavior that goes either unpunished, or only leads to being told “don’t do that” to have any faith in telling him sexist behavior is wrong as a deterrent. It’s actually losing jobs and taking financial penalties as a result of sexist behavior that makes people who engage in it take notice.

          1. CRM*

            First of all, the OP implied that he is like this to everyone, not just women. Therefore I wouldn’t automatically assume that he is sexist. If OP had said something like “he mostly only does this with women”, then it would be a completely different issue. Based on OP’s description, it sounds like he is either very bad at communicating with coworkers or thinks way too highly of himself.

            Second of all, I’m NOT saying that he shouldn’t ever be fired. If he fails to acknowledge the negative effects of his behavior and then show quick improvement, then firing is absolutely a good call.

            I want to add that normally it isn’t an employer’s job to fix someone’s professional etiquette, but with an intern you have a little more agency to help out because learning professional etiquette is partially why internships exist. He is young, and he may have the opportunity to fix his actions instead of causing suffering with future employers.

            1. Jennifer*

              Whether he is sexist or just an all around rude person, saying please and thank you is not professional etiquette. It’s a basic life skill.

              1. Slartibartfast*

                Basic life skills have to be taught, even wiping your own butt. Yeah he “should” know this by now, but how many college students can’t do laundry or make a bed? Internships are a teaching situation, I think you should at least make an attempt to teach. If he’s not receptive to learning, let him go.

                1. Jennifer*

                  Seriously? Potty training should be part of intern training now? Yes, basic life skills have to be taught, but you should know them before you enter the workforce.

    5. One of my internship reviews says "does not play nicely with others"*

      As an intern, I think that he should get a chance to correct the behavior before being fired. By adulthood, I’d hope that people have cottoned on to manners, but, in my experience, what “mama and daddy” have taught their kid about working in an office environment can very different for people who come from white-collar background and blue-collar backgrounds. I come from a hybrid background (powder blue?), and my blue-collar family tends to take more of a tough-guy/gal approach to work rather than being able to finesse office politics the way the other side encourages. I had a very technically competent employee once who was incredibly nice to some people (like the secretaries and mail room team) but had been taught “not to take any shit off” his supervisors and that supervisors were likely setting him up to fail or were trying to pile work on him unfairly, which led to some real interpersonal relations course correction at the end of his probationary period.

      Then, there are the people who think that the quality of their work should speak louder than their interpersonal skills (that would be me for the first couple years of my career), and the best gift I received was the advice from a mentor that the touch-feely stuff mattered, too. (I never dropped please/thank you, because I am Southern, and formal manners were drilled into me from a young age, but I was, frankly a jackass to people I didn’t think were working up to snuff, and basically needed the speech that Alison gave the podcast caller who asked about being “chilly” at work.) I am infinitely better now, and most people LIKE working with me. I’m just glad someone took the time to sit me down and give me the necessary constructive criticism very early in my career so I could course-correct ASAP.

      1. Jennifer*

        I know many “blue collar” people who are very polite and know how to say please and thank you. I actually think that’s a bit insulting to blue collar people.

        You knew to say please and thank you, you just needed some brushing up on other office etiquette, which I think is different. Please and thank you is EXTREMELY basic and taught in kindergarten. I think an adult neglecting to use those words is intentional.

        1. Czhorat*

          Or they consume too much “smartest man in the room” media and think that like Tony Stark, Dr. Gregory House, Sherlock Holmes, et al they can act like complete jerks because they are *that damn good* at everything they do.

          Even if they ARE that damn good (and most aren’t) I’d rather have a polite and decent team-player working with me than a maladjusted genius any day of the week.

          1. Jennifer*

            I hate House for that reason.

            I think Tony Stark and Sherlock Holmes have good hearts and are generally kind, if a little cocky.

            1. Jasnah*

              All three of them are jerks who have broken laws because they see themselves as above silly rules. We can quibble about what it means to have a good heart/good intentions but their actions would get them fired anywhere sane.

            1. LQ*

              In a good, healthy professional workplace yes. But there are a lot of house types and a lot of them don’t have nearly that kind of so magical you’d think it was scripted that way skills and a lot of them are employed.

              I wish they got fired more. I wish there were more consequences for being a jerk.

        2. One of my internship reviews says "does not play nicely with others"*

          I think that my comment is more nuanced than your response lets on. I did not say that no blue collar people did have manners; I pointed out two experiences I had in my personal and work lives that might provide a different perspective on your “fire them, no questions asked” stance. And, hey, if you don’t want to have a fifteen minute conversation with someone to see if they’re actually a jerk or if they just need some strongly-worded feedback and guidance, totally your prerogative. I’ve just gone soft in my old age and would feel better about firing someone if I’d given them an opportunity to fix the problem first.

          Being a class migrant makes me more sensitive to classism and discriminating against people who don’t automatically know the unwritten rules of professional office behavior. I work in a horribly classist industry and have seen otherwise good candidates passed over for a perceived lack of pedigree or polish. Your position is that their parents should have taught them or they should have picked it up themselves; I’m saying that sometimes people are either taught the exact opposite and that some people need to be explicitly told. If you tell them and they can’t conform pretty much immediately? Sure, fire them. But it’s an internship, and the purpose of an internship is to learn professional skills to take into a career.

          1. Jennifer*

            Agree to differ. I’m actually a softie about a lot of issues, contrary to my comments here, lol. Where I disagree with you is that I don’t think manners are professional skills, they are basic life skills that shouldn’t have to be taught at work.

            I was fired when I was around this age for doing something unprofessional that shall remain in the vault :). Best thing that ever happened to me. Our differences in experiences are probably informing our opinions.

          2. Hola!*

            I agree. I supervised teen/young adult workers (16-22) in a capacity where I frequently met their parents. You’d be stunned at how many parents are awful, rude people and are a) actively teaching their kid to be that way or b) leveraging pressure on their kid to behave that way and now the kid is in tears in my office because they have to pick between getting in trouble at work or getting punished by an irrational parent at home.

            In a few cases we had staff with abusive parents who were trying to sabotage their jobs so the kid would be wholly reliant on the abusive parent. It’s awful.

            1. SavannahMiranda*

              “In a few cases we had staff with abusive parents who were trying to sabotage their jobs so the kid would be wholly reliant on the abusive parent. It’s awful.”

              That is utterly horrifying. I’m so glad you were able to figure out what was going on. I hope efforts at circumvention were successful and those staff members are well on their way to higher and better things.

              Whatever it is you do at your workplace, thank you for doing it.

          3. Indie*

            Im a class migrant too and I kind of know what you mean? Most working class jobs need politeness too, but not all I am thinking. My pops, a rigger, was very polite socially but I think he had a work site culture that barked commands at people, but this was ok and just a side effect of trying to get heavy stuff rigged up. He would stick to it for a few days after returning home (with little people he was authorative over) so much so I copied it a little and got into trouble at school for not minding the Ps and Qs.

            1. Mongrel*

              Kitchens can be like that, shouty and brusque during service but relaxed and friendly after the shift. It is dysfunctional but it’s a high stress and fast paced environment but it can breed fierce loyalty.

              There are a couple of stories of Gordon Ramsay that show this, he walked out of a prestigious kitchen because they mistreated one of the staff there and got into another kitchen making sure that everyone of his old staff had a job at the new place if they wanted it. (I think I saw that in Kitchen Confidential or Cooks Tour)

          4. Sunshine*

            But this isn’t lack of polish; this is rudeness. Being rude and preemptory toward a co-worker who is senior to you is behaviour I’ve seen far more in (typically middle class) young employees who never learned that they aren’t king of the universe and that other people matter.

          1. One of my internship reviews says "does not play nicely with others"*

            Oh, my goodness, really? Yes, I was raised with yes ma’am/sir and can still feel my mom’s upper-arm pinch when I leave it out based on the very specific advice I was given by a mentor that sir/ma’am can incorrectly read as sarcastic or obsequious in my field/location.

            I am arguing for giving people a chance before firing them, yet I’m the one that is “not nice at the roots”. That’s an interesting take, bless your heart.

            My understanding on the commenting rules was that posters are supposed to be kind and limit speculation. If you want to object to my opinion, that’s fine but I think you’re at minimum skating the line here by questioning my statements about my background and whether or not I’m nice at my core.

            1. SavannahMiranda*

              I just want to say I admire the polish, aplomb, and meaningful content of all your comments so far. They are things to be admired.

          2. Lindsay Gee*

            I think this comment is a little uncalled for. You’re making pretty mean assumptions about a commenter that are pretty aggressive for the context of their comments.

    6. SavannahMiranda*

      I am a woman and fairly emotionally intelligent in the workplace, with about a decade of office experience behind me before I finished my degree and re-entered the office world at a higher rung.

      It pains me and shames me to think of the crappy little smart-arse stuff I used to say and do as an intern and junior-junior employee, when I of all people was in a position to know better.

      Once I finally got it all worked out of my system and learned how to be an employee again, I chalked it up to the fact that at university you are encouraged to have sharp insights, a shrewd intellect, and to contribute meaningful observations. Failing to do so means failing to play your part.

      But in the workplace all of my ‘sharp’ insights calculated to demonstrate my value just came across as shitty little comments, and snarky know-it-all college-girl-isms. I also lost my nuance for office hierarchy and had to regain it.

      I was able to do so and succeeded in not getting slapped around too badly by my first internship and first few jobs. And my moxie or whatever you want to call it did pay off a few times. But I’m dead certain I was far more annoying and hilarious (at best) than nearly as smart as I thought I was.

      I have very slight sympathy for this intern. Okay maybe not sympathy, no. But a willingness to slap him around a little bit and jerk him up by his britches to see if he’d take in the criticisms and mend his ways. If he can do so, good. He can move from academic values to workplace values. If not, then I agree, sayonara.

      1. Exhausted Trope*

        Yep. My reaction as well. Where does he get off giving orders anyway?
        I would never send an email like that to anyone I work with and I’m no intern.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’m thinking I’d just forward it to the intern’s manager. I’d hope that’s what that employee did.

      1. Blue*

        Yeah, same, though I admit I’d be willing to write a chastising reply and cc the supervisor as a way to excise my annoyance. Either way, I’m not printing a thing until I get a proper please. Yikes.

    2. Lily Rowan*

      Seriously. Even in the situation where I’ve had a conversation out loud with my coworker already (“Ugh, I can’t connect to the printer — can I send you something to print for me?”/”Sure”/”Thanks! Here it comes!”) I would still say thanks in the email!

      I know some of this is female socialization, but it just seems like common courtesy.

      1. Cat Fan*

        Eh, I think everything you wrote applies equally 2 minute women. It’s just how people should treat each other.

      2. Elizabeth Proctor*

        Same. If I’ve already discussed it with the person, Subject line: To print. Message: Thanks!

      3. Clewgarnet*

        I’ve had a few coworkers where I’d feel comfortable saying just, “Print this,” in those circumstances. But it would usually be more along the lines of, “Print this, and make yourself useful for once, you festering pustule,” because we were the kind of people who showed respect/friendship through insults.

        The vast majority of the time, I’m with you!

    3. Beth Jacobs*

      Yeah. I work in government and our printers are completely ridiculous: each one of us has their own printer from 2006 (no doublesided printing!), connected by a cable. At any given point, at least one person in our department can’t print. It’s very normal for us to email each other documents to print. Those requests always include a please and thank you, the thank you is then repeated after the document is actually printed. Even if you’re saying please 15 times a day, it’s not even a minute of your time – I’m sure you can squeeze it in your busy schedule.

    4. Kramerica Industries*

      This feels like a combination of being a normally rude person and reading too many of those “demand what you want to get respect”-type of articles.

    5. Doodle*

      Really? To an intern?

      A more polite and useful response would be to reply back, Dear Name, I’m sorry, I’m unable to do this task for you and you will need to do it yourself — and cc the intern’s supervisor.

      He’s an intern. Just because we all think, you should know this stuff by now! he may not. Best to assume people are not being evil or obnoxious until proven otherwise.

      True story of “you should know this by now!” I mentored a half-time intern who was a grad student. She worked directly with me in my area of work only part of the time; most of the time she worked with others and I would easily go a day or two or three without even seeing her. Frequently she came to work in very revealing clothing, because it’s what she owned and she had always worn it to classes. Apparently my colleagues were having a grand old time gossiping about her “slutty” clothes, until finally one of them came to me and said, you have to talk to Griselda, she dresses like a slut. (Yep, those words!).

      I called her for a meeting that very day and talked about professional dress and reputation. She thanked me and, as I found out later, cried in the bathroom, then called another grad student, borrowed money, and went right out and bought business casual clothes.

      She truly had *no idea* that her clothes were inappropriate. None. And it’s possible that Rude Boy doesn’t know — he might not realize he’s doing it. He might not realize it’s necessary. He might not understand how he sounds to others.

      Not that long ago we had a big ol comment string right here on AAM on social niceties, and plenty of folks remarked that it bugged them to do it and that they didn’t do it — some commenters even felt it was a waste of time to say “thanks” in an email request, or to say hello or do anything that would invite a colleague to talk about anything non-work-related. So it’s not like everyone knows, understands, and believes it’s necessary.

      1. INeedANap*


        That’s an awful lot of soft language to someone who has treated their colleague exceptionally rudely. I’m not apologizing to someone who is rude to me.

        And I remember that comment string – in which the vast, overwhelming majority of comments were pointing out the utility of using basic “please” and “thank you” language. Even those who were on the side of terse emails understood a two-word command was rude.

        In the anecdote you’re giving, the intern is not analogous to the girl who was dressed inappropriately. The intern is analogous to the women gossiping about their co-worker and calling her slutty. And I hope very much that you did not use similarly soft language towards their rudeness.

        1. marni*

          There’s no indication that the colleagues gossiping about the intern’s clothing are women. That came from you.

            1. SavannahMiranda*


              No. There are real world standards for dress in the workplace.

              Yes, the people who brought it to the supervisor should have phrased their concerns much more appropriately and professionally. But bringing it up for the supervisor to discuss with the intern was absolutely within the purview of appropriate workplace correction of intern behavior and training. And the supervisor doing so was correct.

              Failing to do so would have been a disservice to Griselda.

              1. Sunshine*

                Sure. But calling a young woman a slut for not knowing how to dress appropriately, and gossiping behind her back? Super sexist.

                1. SavannahMiranda*

                  Once again, they could have and should have communicated their concerns more professionally.

                  But the concerns themselves were valid.

                  The method does not invalidate the message. As much as it seems that you want it to.

                  The manager did their job by taking a message that was crudely and cruelly conveyed, taking the burn out of it, communicating it to the employe, and giving her the information she actually needed from the situation.

                  If the manager had failed to do that, and instead had come down on the co-workers for being sexist, but failed to convey the substance of the information to Griselda who badly needed it, that would have been unfair to Griselda.

                  This was remarkably well handled. Would it have soothed our ruffled sensibilities if the gossipy sexist co-workers got written up or fired? Sure. But this is real life. And again, the method did not invalidate the message.

              2. Parenthetically*

                No, it is fcking sexist. It’s so far beyond inappropriate or unprofessional, and no matter how you try to reframe calling someone a slut behind her back, Christine is right, the coworkers are sexist troglodytes.

                Not sexist: “Jane, I’m concerned that Griselda’s clothing is going to reflect poorly on her professionalism, but I think that conversation would be best coming from you.”

                Sexist: “That Griselda dresses like such a slut! We’ve all talked about how slutty she looks and decided you’ve got to talk to her about covering up whatever she’s not trying to sell, ok?”

                1. SavannahMiranda*

                  Yep, the co-workers were sexist. And?

                  Did that invalidate the content of their message? I know you’d like to think it did, but it did not. The method was cruel. The message was valid.

                  Should the manager have turned them over her knee and spanked them, and failed to convey to Griselda information that she needed?

                  No. The manager did her job here. She took information that was crudely conveyed, removed the stings and barbs, and transmitted it to the employee who needed it in a professional and kind manner.

                  Failing to do so would have been a disservice to Griselda. Period.

                  The manager did not pass along the sexist BS in the comments. She mitigated it, made it professional, and helped a young person further their career and life. She did well.

                  Now would it be all nice and apple-pie perfect if the manager had also written up or fired the sexist co-workers? Sure. (Shrug.)

                  Getting frothy about this is not actually helpful, and fails to recognize that good was created from cruelty by the manager’s professionalism.

        2. Sunshine*

          Yes. The colleagues come off far worse in this story. I hope they were appropriately disciplined for their bullying, gossipy behaviour.

      2. Parenthetically*

        Your last paragraph is 100% my thoughts on this. Like, y’all, didn’t we just have a whole heated comments section in which a vocal segment of the commentariat were saying that social niceties were annoying, stupid, and a waste of time? Intern Ivan needs to be firmly instructed that basic manners are essential to success in a professional environment, with a warning to shape up or else, and that’s it. If he responds poorly or doesn’t get his act together, put him out on his ear, definitely.

      3. Entry Level Marcus*

        Yes, this. People are suggesting very harsh treatment of this intern given the lack of information we and LW1 have. He could well be a sexist jerk, but there are many innocuous explanations for his behavior as well: he could have asperger’s and not understand social niceties very well, he might not be used to communicating over email, he might have received bad advice (or, as Doodle says, misinterpreted good advice) about workplace communication, he might have been raised in a cultural context where terse communication isn’t considered rude, etc.

        Especially given that he’s a young intern, he should be told by his manager that his style of communication is a problem and given a chance to change. Bad behavior shouldn’t be tolerated, but at the same time I’m a firm believer that people should be given a chance to learn and change before suffering severe consequences for their actions if, as is the case here, the behavior might have an innocuous explanation.

        1. fposte*

          Yeah, I think it’s tempting to cast Jackass Dudes We’ve Known in his role, but he is not those guys, and we don’t actually know what guy he is. Give him clear management, which is part of the job anyway, and if he responds appropriately, yay! And if he responds inappropriately, you fire him, and he knows what his behavior cost him, so also yay! And it can all happen in under five minutes–two to say “You have to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ to work here” and to see what he says, and three to say “Then your internship here isn’t going to work out; I’ll notify HR” and then notify HR if what he says is a problem.

        2. RUKidding*

          I thought we weren’t supposed to speculate sbout peoples’ neurological/mental health status.

          1. Sunshine*

            And I thought we’d all agreed to stop excusing bad behaviour on the part of males by speculating that they have autism. Plenty of non-neurotypical individuals behave perfectly appropriately. Plenty of neurotypical individuals are jerks.

      4. Les G*

        Folks just like to get a little creative talking about the super savage, witty, devastating burns they hit people with in the comments. I always, always assume that nobody has or would say 90% of the comebacks they write about here, and it’s made reading some of them a lot easier.

        1. Lissa*

          pretty much anytime I’ve seen somebody try to actually use a devastating burn off the Internet it doesn’t really get the response they want – people just feel awkward and walk away, or think the person is being a jerk. Especially if it’s something that relies on the person suddenly realizing their behaviour is out of line, like the “Woooooooow, did you just say that out loud?” kind of thing often suggested online.

      5. aebhel*

        I don’t think he’s evil, but he is being obnoxious. You can feel whatever you feel about social niceties, but if you go around barking orders to people who significantly outrank you (which, when you’re an intern, is everyone who isn’t also an intern), you can expect to be ignored.

      6. Jennifer Juniper*

        That intern also needs to learn that RHIP. As the intern, he is the low-ranking man – literally.

      7. Sunshine*

        Did you chastise the people calling their colleague a slut? Because IMO that’s far worse than an intern dressing inappropriately.

    6. Justme, the OG*

      Yeah, that’s a no. If my supervisor needs something printed (my computer prints to the copier and hers does not) she asks me rather than tells me.

  5. Roscoe*

    As far as the finders fee, I think its definitely a nice gesture to take her out with that money. In my group of friends, it is fairly common to do something like that, especially if its a very generous finders fee. I wouldn’t look at it as you “owe” her or anything, but its a nice thing to do since you are getting extra money for it.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Sounds like a great occasion to celebrate — how about friend buys the dinner and you spring for a bottle of bubbly?

    2. Just Another Techie*

      In my social circle it’s common and expected to share a portion of the finder’s fee. But, I work in tech in region with lots of employers and workers, and people move jobs relatively frequently, *and* finder’s fees are ridiculously high. Like, almost a month’s pay.

  6. Observer*

    Another thing that struck me – it’s most pointed with the junior-ish WOMAN. That’s an issue that the OP (or anyone dealing with a similar problem should look at). If he’s being especially rude to women, that’s something that needs to be addressed head on.

    1. Indie*

      I noticed that too. I keep seeing these examples which begin ‘person is horribly rude/insubordinate’ (so I think ‘please let this not be a gendered man to woman thing. That trend must be dying by now’) and it proceeds to ‘he is male’ (It won’t be to a woman, you’re so paranoid!) to ‘and he does this mostly/worst example is to a female’ (god I hate the predictability).

      I know it is true that this guy and his ilk are also jerks to men, pick on lower status men and they may even try to pick a stag rut with their boss…But that is just another symptom of believing in demographic status hierachy and believing that men hustle each other (sans talent or merit) for top dog spot.

      As someone who teaches boys though, I frequently that this stuff is somewhat thoughtlessly assimilated and copied and there’s always the chance you can catch someone early enough in life that they will hear you when you say “Noooo, we do not do that. Do not do that anywhere.”

      The problems come when they are rewarded for behaving in that way.

    2. Works in IT*

      Very much this, which is why I’m inclined to agree with the person above who said fire him. Too many sexist jerks are competent enough at their jobs, and know it, to get away with their sexist behavior. They know their employer will smooth waves for them, and they won’t get fired for it, and at most they’ll just get talked to.

      1. RUKidding*

        I think maybe I’ve told this story before…

        A while back we hired a guy. I wasn’t the one hiring him. He didn’t know me.

        Upon first meeting Brand New Hire pulled some obnoxious, demanding, sexist shit on me as the staff watched in awe.

        I didn’t hire him but I did fire him, on the spot.

    3. YouGottaThrowtheWholeJobAway*

      Yeah, if I was the manager I would be sure to emphasize that Jane is HIS SUPERIOR, she knows more than he does and is more valuable than he is, everyone here is his boss, and that he needs to apologize to everyone he has been rude to and offer to start behaving like an adult going forward.

      And if he cannot handle treating people professionally and not like personal servants, you will be speaking with his university’s career office about his behavior to date, the public image their student has now created for their program, and then getting them to agree to commit to explaining to any snotty large adult sons at their institution that they are not in charge at internships and there will be no more internships if they behave this way. Because if he is getting school credit, whether he set it up or the university did, he is their representative in the working world. So I am sure they would love to know how to head off problems like this in the future.

  7. RUKidding*

    #1. Does he do this with males as well as with females?

    #2. Don’t discount the inherent sexism in addition to your looking young.

    1. Indie*

      2: I know, right? Women are generally cut from a more youthful style of cloth: we keep a childlike facial hair pattern and our voices do not change as much. Our frames do not always get much taller or broader than our teenage versions.

      Like, there are plenty of Amazons out there but unless you are a particular body type you will be waiting for grey hair and wrinkles to earn the same level of respect as a male in his early twenties.

      These people know what a variety of women look like; it is lazy thinking due to assumptions they will mainly encounter males. And since when were secretary pools only comprised of young girls?

      1. KnittyGritty*

        Eh, I definitely qualify as an Amazon and still get counted as much younger than I really am. It’s not just body size/type that makes us look younger and encounter all of the issues that goes along with that.

      2. Jennifer Juniper*

        When you get gray hair and wrinkles, you will be dismissed and viewed as disposable if you’re female. Gray hair and wrinkles do nothing for our social status, since our value as women is predicated on our looks and obedience to men.

  8. Lynca*

    OP 1- The way to deal with it is to have a talk with him on the behavior she expects to see in the office and that soft skills are something you have to develop just like your hard skills. I know too many people that think you can skate by only having good hard skills. And honestly? The people that think they have good enough hard skills to overcome their soft skills deficiency are almost always wrong.

    1. MLB*

      Honestly this is less about knowing what type of behavior is expected in an office environment and more about having basic manners. I’m a very direct person and don’t sugar coat stuff, but I would at least send an email that says “I’m not able to connect to the printer. Could you please print this for me when you have a chance?” because my parents raised me right.

      1. Lynca*

        Honestly I think people are taking this way over the top with the “my parents raised me right” invocation. Maybe it’s because I’m not neurotypical. I had to really work to build my soft skills and they do not come as naturally to me as they might to others. So I don’t immediately see the need write the person off unless they keep doing it after being told this isn’t acceptable.

        1. fposte*

          I would agree; there are also a lot of cultural/socioeconomic reasons why an intern might not know that polite phrases are as important as they are. It’s easy without knowing him to cast him as an arrogant privileged dude with a permasmirk, but there are a lot of people who don’t get this kind of social training who aren’t that. And it’s a quick conversation either way, and you can fire him ASAP if he smirks and refuses.

          1. LCL*

            Ha. Now I’m hearing my mom, when I asked her for some favor, yelling at me to drop the ‘mealy mouthed double talk, it’s phony, just get to the point.’ I may have taken her demands a bit too much to heart…

        2. Jennifer Juniper*

          Because I’m autistic, I overuse social niceties to the point it is weird. I am never sure whether I’ve offended someone, so I compulsively apologize. I also say “sir” and “ma’am” to everyone, and I’m 44.

  9. Rez123*

    I’ve lately noticed that I’ve become rude. It’s not my natural being but I’ve felt really insecure and tired. Also, I feel like I haven’t recieved the support I need. Now that I’ve noticed, I’m trying to do better. Not that it’s an excuse but I feel like sometimes rudeness is not intended and sometimes it is not “didn’t your momma teach you better”.

    In his case it could be that he doens’t know better or he is doing it on purpose. Sounds to me that he is doing it on purpose with the order barking. But since he is an intern, I’d potentially talk to him about it. It doesn’t have to be an hour of teachable moments. Just a “please and thank you would make your life a lot easier” type thing.

    1. fposte*

      A lot of the OP’s examples were in email, too, where tone is magnified to the recipient. I would absolutely coach the guy and also make it clear that things needed to change immediately for his continued work there.

      1. MLB*

        This is not about tone being misunderstood in an email. You don’t send someone an attachment and demand that they “print this”. Anyone with a basic set of manners would know better.

        1. fposte*

          Yes, but that’s also not the same as “barking orders.” It’s significant that the OP repeatedly identifies email, which is a constant weak spot in communication for just this kind of disparity.

          And a lot of people don’t get basic sets of office manners installed in them in early life, and part of the point of internships is to acculturate young people to such norms; we really *don’t* want to create an office pipeline that makes it hard for young people with less privileged backgrounds to enter. The OP doesn’t have to hold his hand; she just has a basic managerial meeting to say “You need to use ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ to keep your job here.” If he persists despite explicit information, then turf him.

          1. Observer*

            I don’t think this can be attributed to being of a lower social class. For one thing, in terms of manners, please and thank are not exclusive to the professional classes! For another, you REALLY don’t need to be used to office norms to understand that however you address colleagues, you do not address people higher in the food chain without some basic niceties.

            Also, it clearly is not just about email – the OP gave one example of email, but the other didn’t sound like email. And it doesn’t matter whether email was involved in lack of apology – that’s not about tone.

          2. Sunshine*

            I’ve seen this behaviour far more in employees from *privileged* backgrounds. It’s a function of arrogance, not ignorance.

            1. fposte*

              Sure, it can be, but it can also be other things; additionally, even arrogant 21-year-olds aren’t ineducable. We don’t know this dude and we don’t know why he does this. I don’t see any advantage from deciding we do and we do.

              1. Sunshine*

                fposte, while that is true you were the one that implied poor manners were likely to be the behaviour of the ‘less privileged’. I was merely countering that.

  10. Blue Eagle*

    I am truly curious of what type of company/organization/job type requires a “two month” notice period to hand over your job duties? Maybe two weeks is somewhat short – – but two months?

    1. Lady Kelvin*

      We just hired someone who works for a hedge fund and while he could have come earlier, his bosses (who knew he was looking, he’s changing fields) asked for 2 months so that he could train his replacement on the financial models he builds for them. We are in no rush, so it wasn’t a problem for him (plus most people who take jobs where I work have to navigate a trans-ocean move, so we tend to be really flexible on realistic start dates). He ended up giving three months notice and will start at the end of February. His bosses are happy and we are just thrilled that we were able to hire someone.

    2. Akcipitrokulo*

      UK IT person… we have 2 month notice period (in contract, works both ways) but it is unusual. All other places I’ve worked have either been fixed length from start (like summer hotel housekeeping) or had 1 month notice period (starting at entry level call centre).

      1. Akcipitrokulo*

        Longest notice I ever gave was somewhat flexible… it was “until this project goes live”. I was relocating for personal reasons but no huge rush; told them before Christmas, expected to be done in March and actually left end of May.

    3. cncx*

      i work in europe in a fairly junior job, normal notice for my job is three months. due to my longevity in the company, that’s bumped up to six but i will probably get gardening leave for the last three.

      America is the weird place for only having two weeks.

    4. Polly*

      Three months is absolutely standard in my role (academia) but even outside of that 1 month is normal for most office-type jobs in the UK.

  11. Where’s my coffee?*

    I have met very few people in my life who look much younger than their age, but it seems to be really widespread amongst letter writers and commenters here. Sometimes I wonder if there are other factors at play, and sometimes I wonder if in some workplaces or industries if there’s a misguided idea of what at age looks like…I mean the typical 35 year old isn’t bent and wizened, but not do they typically look 15.

    1. Autumnheart*

      I imagine dress must be a factor. I work somewhere where the youngest people will be in their early 20s (basically, the age typical to graduating college), but the dress code is business casual, and that makes people look a little older.

      I can think of a few coworkers who look like they haven’t aged a day in the decade-plus that I’ve worked here, and I can think of a few who have aged significantly in just a few years. The 30s is where you see people start to age at dramatically different rates.

      1. aebhel*

        I expect that’s part of it; I’m 33 and would not generally say that I look younger than I am, but I get mistaken for a college student pretty frequently when I’m not at work, because by preference I dress like a slob and there’s something about the slouchy jeans/hoodie combination that reads as young to most people.

        My spouse really is a baby-faced person of the type who got mistaken for a young teenager into his thirties, but nobody who talked to him for more than a minute or so would make that mistake.

    2. whistle*

      I think a lot of people are just really bad about determining someone’s age. I also think that TV/movies play a role in this because you have a 30 year old actress playing someone who is 18, etc.. For some people, they are never around 18-22 year olds, so all they have to go on is what they see on TV. When I taught college, I got really good at identifying someone who is over the age of 21 because I spent a lot of time with adults under the age of 21, whereas a lot of my friends would peg someone’s age as younger than they were. (E.g “that person can’t buy beer” for someone I could see was clearly at least mid-20s.)

    3. She's One Crazy Diamond*

      As I mentioned above, I am mixed white/Asian. I have noticed that white people think I am very young, while Asians think I am my exact age or even slightly older. After surveying other PoC that I know, it turns out basically anyone without stereotypically white features is perceived as younger than they are by white people. I don’t wanna derail too much, and there are definitely white people who are also perceived as looking young, but this is what I’ve observed.

    4. The Imperfect Hellebore*

      I reckon it’s a combination of factors, some of which are:

      1) People (myself included) aren’t very good at judging age;
      2) Diverse styles tend to be more widespread now (generally speaking), so things like funky hairstyles, brightly-coloured hair, multiple visible piercings, visible tattoos. Depending on when and where they grew up, someone might subconsciously associate one or more of those things as belonging to “youth” whereas in reality there are plenty of green-haired sixty year olds in the workplace;
      3) TV and film has been insidiously working for years to alter our perception of youth and age. It’s far more common to see an actor play a person younger than themselves than the other way around;
      4) If someone genuinely looks younger than they are, and receives comments mentioning it, they’re far more likely to say so than someone who looks older than they are. It does happen, of course, but not many people are going to voluntarily say “I’m twenty five, but I look about forty.”

      I’m sure there are tons of other reasons, but those are my theories!

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

        regarding both #1 and #2 — I think the inability to accurately judge age is also further complicated because things that have been associated with “older” have also become quite common with younger people — full beards, gray hair (natural or dyed gray), vintage clothing. I find that younger people have just as difficult a time accurately judging older people’s age as older people have guessing younger people’s age. I was working with a marketing manager who was in her late 20s (I actually know that for a fact) on a project that needed stock photos of “retired seniors” and the photos of very obvious (to me– because they look like my parents who are in that age bracket) late 60s early 70s people I was sending her weren’t “old enough.” She had in her mind that retired seniors looked like Betty White…who is 97.

      2. The New Wanderer*

        In addition to The Imperfect Hellebore’s 1-4, I’d add a 5th – people are far, far more likely to comment on the fact that someone looks younger than their age than that they look their age or older. (It’s rude to say someone looks 40 when they’re 25 but not the other way around, right?) So, if you hear it often enough, it almost doesn’t matter if you objectively look younger or if it’s something else that people are perceiving about you. It’s really the perception that’s at issue, for people concerned about looking their age in order to be taken seriously.

        1. The Imperfect Hellebore*

          I didn’t think of that, but you’re right! I’m genuinely bad at judging age in any case, but if someone I don’t know asks me how old I think they are (how annoying of them), I tend to knock five years off for anyone that I think is older than thirty, and ten years off for anyone that I think is older than forty. No one of thirty-five wants to hear that they look forty, and no one of fifty wants to hear that they look sixty. Of course occasionally you apply this method, and it ends up backfiring. “Yes, I AM fifty-two. Well done.” Oops.

    5. emmelemm*

      I do think there is a tendency for people to overestimate how young they look for their age in general. However, when you are a woman of very small stature, people will often read you as child-like looooong after that expiration has passed, and if they even took one second to examine the lines of your face… but they don’t.

      And being read as child-like in a business context can be pretty bad and hold you back in serious ways, so people write in about it a lot.

    6. Former Expat*

      Yes! I have said this before on this platform before.. but it really does seem like a lot of people think that they look young for their age. I think that it really is more likely that all people everywhere are bad at guessing ages and that plays out differently for different people depending on their actual situation regards to age, race, sex, gender, etc.

    7. RUKidding*

      Television and movies. When they have 40 year olds playing teenagers (!!!) we get a skewed idea of what a genuine 40 year old looks like.

      I’m not even joking. I was watching something with Michael Douglas the other night (I wasn’t really DH was…) and even though IRL he’s like 157 years old, in the show he said he was 45.

      That’s actually all I remember from it because I checked the date it was made (2016) as he’s been looking at 45 in the rearview mirror for a while…

    8. Where’s my coffee?*

      Since someone’s gotta buck the trend, I’ll say that I look at least 5 years older than I am, probably more. Even as a teenager when I did not resemble a wrinkly zombie, I generally felt I was taken seriously. I’m shortish and thinnish, but I also have some serious RBF so maybe that’s it.

    9. MCMonkeyBean*

      I was thinking recently about how height seems to play a role in how we perceive age, which really makes no sense. Part of why people tend to think my husband is young is because he’s pretty short. But most of us stop growing between the ages of like 13-15 and it’s not like anyone thinks he is THAT young. So it’s weird for his height to have any impact on how old people think he is. And yet it totally does. And I myself fall into that same trap sometimes even though if I stop and think about it logically I realize it doesn’t make sense. I wonder why that is…

  12. The Imperfect Hellebore*

    Upon receiving such an email as “Print this.” I would have been sorely tempted to do exactly that: Print the email (but not the attached file). And then put it on his desk in passing, with a cheery “Here you go, as ordered!”

    1. Zona the Great*

      Ha! I think I’d photo copy my middle finger and place it on his desk. “Print This”.

  13. 4Sina*

    At the risk of sounding catty (my intention is not to be), the intern sounds like a future LW who asked what’s wrong with being chilly at work. Both read the same to me, and it seems responses to being chilly were positively met – is it because the intern is seen as subordinate that it’s rude, or is it because he’s not even putting up the pretense that there’s a social contract regarding basic niceties at work? Also, I wonder if there’s an issue with social cues at play here.

    1. The Imperfect Hellebore*

      FWIW, I don’t think you sound catty at all.
      To be honest, I do think that the fact that he’s an intern (and therefore, presumably, technically subordinate to other staff) makes a difference in this case. I’ve worked with managers who would frequently give me fairly brusque instructions, especially over email, but in those cases we’d already established a working relationship. After a few days, it was clear that, due to being busy, they wouldn’t mince words if they needed something done. Many’s the time I’ve received an email from a manager saying something like: “Sort this out?” And even then, the question mark reads to me as the equivalent of a “please”.

      I’ve never been an intern, or worked with one. I sense that interning is a much bigger thing in the US than it is over here! But if I’m reading it right, then one of the points of an internship is to get a feel for the workplace, preferably in a preferred industry. Part of that should be learning to interact well with workmates. Without an established working relationship where it would be okay, sending a colleague an email saying just “Print this” is really rude.

      I wouldn’t put it in the same category as chilly. If this intern responded to a friendly “Morning, Fergus! How are you doing today?” with a brief glance and a neutral “Morning,” with no smile, I would think of that as on the chilly side, but perfectly acceptable. But according to the letter, this guy issues instructions to staff without a please or thank you, rather than moving his arse over to someone with a working printer, and saying something like: “Hey, my printer connection is down. If I send you an email, would you mind printing the attachment for me?” He’s not chilly, he’s rude and arrogant.

  14. ANoneMousse*

    I have a question about what to say to a young intern who is on personal phone calls on her cell phone all day. I just don’t want to come across as too authoritarian as our office is pretty lax but it can’t be acceptable for someone to be on their phone in a conversation 4 out of the 5 hours that she’s here everyday. Any advice?

    1. The Imperfect Hellebore*

      I’m no expert, but I think my advice would differ depending on whether you are her direct manager or not?

      1. ANoneMousse*

        I am not the person in charge of handling the interns but I do manage her from time to time (I work at a very non hierarchical environment).

        1. fposte*

          You are not being too authoritarian to tell an intern you manage that she can’t be on her phone during work time. You are managing, and you are providing a service for her and her future employers. It’s even easier with interns because they’re there to be coached.

          However: if she’s got four hours of downtime out of five hours, that seems like a problem with her getting enough work assignments. I’d investigate that, because while being on her phone isn’t a great look for downtime, and you absolutely can tell her that, it’s quite possibly not her fault that she has four hours of downtime.

          1. The Imperfect Hellebore*

            That’s a good point! ANoneMousse, is she getting her assigned work done to a good standard? If she is, I’d see about getting her some more work, and saying something like: “Jane, you’re getting your work done very quickly, so we’d like to give you a few more duties. We’ve got Alpha Project going on, and could use some help tidying up these spreadsheets. Plus Fergus could use some support on the Beta task.” See how she responds, and go from there.

            1. The Imperfect Hellebore*

              If (aside from the personal phone calls) she’s NOT performing to a decent standard, I’d probably start with taking her into a private office or meeting room, and say something like: “Jane, I’ve noticed you’re spending the majority of your time here on personal calls. That’s really not okay. You’re here to learn, and you need to be focussing on your work. Let’s look at your duties at the moment. Is there anything you’d like more information or training in?”

            2. ANoneMousse*

              Thanks for all the advice! Although she sometimes put off her assignments in lieu of those long personal phone calls, I suspect some of it may be the lack of continuous stream of tasks she’s given by her intended supervisor (not me). The grand boss at my work always drives home how it’s imperative for everyone is stop asking how to help and just intuitively help. I suspect that may be a contributing factor to her being finished w her assignments and then just being bored the rest of the time.

  15. Noah*

    OP2, this is a Very Big Deal. I mean, it doesn’t have to be one to you — that’s up to you. But it is a very big deal for you professionally if you wish to advance. If you wish to stay in private practice, your professional future relies on your clients viewing you as an important professional relationship.

  16. Former Expat*

    I had a rude intern once! Very similar behavior, he seemed to lack basic manners (he would yell “hey” at the back of my head to get attention, for example.) I didn’t hire him, but I was stuck with him for a quarter for Reasons. He had this weird sullen teenager attitude that I just didn’t understand. He was a fresh graduate doing an internship that he presumably worked fairly hard to get. I was baffled by his behavior. After a month or so, my male boss (based in another office) came to visit and my intern was suddenly hanging on his every word, appearing eager and polite. His personality did a 180. When my boss left, he told me “yeah, that kid is just sexist, he doesn’t like reporting to a woman.”

    Not all sexists get discounts on the bus.

    1. Indie*

      You’ve just reminded me of a sullen intern I worked with once. He would pick up the phone and grunt into it. Holding it upside down.

      He once asked me why the town I was from (poor, working class) was spelled, for example, Kirkdene but pronounced (for centuries) Kirdene. Thinking this a genuine question I explained that Kirk was the Saxon word for church.

      “Well why isn’t the k pronounced then, is it laziness?”
      “If you think neglecting every ancient pronunciation is laziness then you can’t call it a ‘nife’ and fork any more. Good luck with all the silent letters and your Middle English accent.”

      Oh that guy! I had forgotten about that guy.

    2. The Imperfect Hellebore*

      (he would yell “hey” at the back of my head to get attention, for example.)
      …what in the actual funkspin?

      Out of interest, did your boss ever address this toadwad’s behaviour? Or was it just a case of “yeah, he’s sexist, hoho, what a nightmare, there’s one in every company, just deal with it, hoho”?

      1. Former Expat*

        Not to my knowledge. I (to my discredit) also didn’t really want to deal with it. I just wanted him out the door the minute his internship was up. I feel like I would handle it better now, hopefully. At the time, it just didn’t seem worth it for someone who would leave in a month or so.

  17. MeMeMe*

    People like the intern in the OP just flat-out mystify me. I say “excuse me” when I bump into objects, I say “good morning” and “good night” to my cats, I say “thanks, you too!” when a cab driver drops me off at the airport…..because saying those phrases is just an instinctive reflex. It seems to me that most people are like this, too — by adulthood, it’s usually become ingrained to use stock words of politeness in very common social interactions, like saying “thanks” when someone hands you something, even when you’re on the autism spectrum and have had to learn the social scripts more explicitly than implicitly.

    And then there’s this guy.

    1. The Imperfect Hellebore*

      I say good night and good morning to my cats too. Shamefully, in my case it’s more like “Aaaaaaaw, good morning, Beetles-Weetles! Good morning, Ezio-Prezzio! Hello, Bootis-wootis-pants!” Frankly, when talking to my cats in the morning, I sound like a complete and utter twerp.

      Anyway, I agree with you. This guy got an internship. I find it bizarre that he could have reached that point without knowing at least the basics of polite behaviour.

  18. Trout 'Waver*

    I think the intern in #1 here is taking an unnecessary beating by the commentariat here. He may prefer extremely direct communication and is just communicating in his preferred style. Some people really don’t care if people use “please” and “thank-you” with them. I wouldn’t assume ill will or impugn someone’s parents because someone is very direct at work. I’d just see it as an opportunity for professional growth.

    However, if they were extremely direct with people but then got offended when people were direct with them, I’d change my opinion of the person quickly.

    1. Autumnheart*

      I think it’s a necessary beating. This is presumably a young adult who wasn’t raised in total social isolation. He should know how to behave in public.

    2. Indie*

      It does suggest a number of ideas but I think it is difficult to know before speaking to him. His reaction will reveal more than anything else.

      I would personally consider the best and worst possibilities before going into that conversation, but while keeping an open mind.

    3. Observer*

      There is a difference between “direct” and rude. No one likes being ordered around, which is what this person is doing.

      He’s also entitled – not asking, acknowledging or apologizing when you inconvenience others is not “direct”, either. As for his response to the Board presentation, again, that is not “direct”. That is, as the OP put it, snotty.

      He may not be a monster – in fact I’m sure he isn’t. But his behavior is outside of the bounds of reasonable social behavior.

    4. LQ*

      I don’t think politeness and directness have a real causal relationship.

      You can be super polite and very indirect. Or very polite and very direct. You can be very indirect and not at all polite. Or very indirect and very polite. All quadrants.

      We don’t know that he’s direct at all. The only example “Print this.” is unnecessarily wordy, if you’re not going to say please and you’re just attaching something you might as well just cut 50% of the extra words.

      OP says he’s abrupt, but that doesn’t mean direct either, abrupt and direct are different. OP does also say that he can be snotty.

      1. RUKidding*

        My fad would have calked him a “punk” and not in the cool Patti Smith is a punk kind of way.

  19. Kitty*

    I’m 100% sure rude intern is doing this on purpose becuase he’s been given some ludicrous advice about being “strong” and “assertive” in the workplace and has interpreted that as showing concern for others will make him look weak, while being brusque will make him look like a leader.

  20. Anastasia Beaverhausen*

    LW2: Am I understanding correctly that a vendor called and your firm gave out your birth date to them so they could send you flowers? Aside from the ‘madmen-era’ creepiness of that, I’d be furious if my employer gave out any of my personal data without permission. If I were the partners of the firm, I would prefer that my admins not be tempted to give preferential treatment to vendors who send them birthday flowers (which is why they do it). For both reasons, I’d consider bringing this to the attention of someone who can put a stop to it.

    1. Tisiphone*


      I remember reading in “How to Swim With Sharks…” that sales reps are encouraged to have a file on every person they do business with, personal things like birthdays and names and ages of their children, so they can look it over before a sales call and ask about how young Pat is doing in school, as well as send birthday cards. The book even has a sample.

      The sales rep seems to be cultivating a friendship, when in fact this is putting together a dossier to make it look like it. It was creepy to me when I read it years ago, and it’s still creepy. That along with how sales reps are trained to never take no for an answer and that reasons given are just objections to be overcome.

  21. Lissa*

    We get so many questions/comments from people who look young – I wonder if we’ll ever get a letter from somebody who looks old and it’s affecting them professionally…

    1. Where’s my coffee?*

      Yeah I know we’re meant to take writers at their word, but surely there aren’t that many people in the workplace who: are 32 but look 14; are in a field that is simultaneously extremely niche and male-dominated but are somehow also able to establish themselves as a rockstar at the industry level within 6 months; have done all this while navigating a crippling and rare disability, often food related. I know all of these things DO happen…but the only one I’d peg as frequent in real life is the prevalence of disability.

  22. Zipzap*

    Re the rude intern – Unless he’s been raised in a cave with no contact to the outside world, I think he knows perfectly well he should say please and thank you. He likely has some type of superiority complex and doesn’t think he has to say it to others at his workplace. I’d give him one warning – “You need to say please, thank you, and behave courteously to everyone in this office, or you will lose your internship here.” Then follow through if he doesn’t shape up. You’d be doing him a favor.

  23. Anon because sad*

    These “My parents raised me well” comments are making me sad, literally. Don’t you know that lots of us do not have parents who raised us well? We might somehow have gotten to the point of having a position in your exalted company, but still totally lacked caring parenting and direction. I am guessing this is inconceivable to many, given how proud they are of their parents’ actions. This is not to say that I see it as the hiring manager’s responsibility to make up for bad parenting. It’s totally fine to fire someone who has not grasped social norms, and I suspect this guy is more likely a nasty sexist than lacking knowledge. But keep in mind lots of people are not “raised well”, and they have to get along in the workplace too.

    1. Sunshine*

      No I get that. I don’t think this is about how his parents raised him at all. Even with terrible parents, most of us have peers, friends, acquaintances and extended family, and learn fast that being rude is a fast ticket to social isolation. I also find it annoying that some people are jumping to ‘not neurotypical’. He’s likely just rude and needs to learn that the world does not revolve around him. I think it’s far more likely that he’s had money / status sheltering him from the consequences of his bad behaviour and hasn’t grasped that that won’t fly in a regular workplace.

  24. chickaletta*

    Any chance that the intern is from a different culture? (If he’s American, you can skip this comment). The reason is that saying “please” and “thank you” all the time is a very American thing to do. While other cultures use these phrases too, and they do so in varying degrees, here in the US we expect it more than most and get offended quite easily when we don’t hear them.

    1. Observer*

      Oh, spare me!

      My parents were not Americans. My husband is not an American – and my in-laws live in a country where servants are far more common even among the small middle class. And NONE of them would ever act CLOSE to what this guy is pulling.

      Also, the problem here is not just not saying please and thank you in even the most basic situations. It’s also that he inconveniences people without apology. And he has an attitude and a half about others.

    2. WillyNilly*

      My then four year old once asked me why she had to say “please” every time but adults don’t. I thought about it, and observed, and got back to her – its because adults often use other softening phrases that mean the same thing. Kids have to say “please” until they learn alternatives such as “I would appreciate…” or “no rush, but if you have a chance…” or “actually what would be most helpful is…” etc.

  25. Bessie Boo*

    You have an obligation to give him feedback on this. As you have actual examples of his behaviour you are able to tell him the issue, backed up by real examples and see what he says. It should be a straightforward 1-1.

  26. Starlet1208*

    I’m really surprised to see no one addressing the possibility that the intern in OP1s comment may be neuroatypical or on the spectrum. I agree with the folks that say he’s getting an unnecessary lashing here and am really surprised at the assumptions of entitlement and/or parental deficiency (this one really baffles me…). I’m not saying it’s not possible those things are true, but as his manager OP1, try not to take a stance of assumption or project reasons for this perceived bad behavior without having a conversation. AM’s is a good starting point — gentle instruction (and explanation of why his behavior is being perceived at rude) could be all you need to set things right. If it seems he has trouble grasping the idea of why his communication style is coming off as rude, consider asking a few questions to see if he can tell you what positive communication looks like to him — his answer may give you some clues on how to continue to coach him.

    1. Observer*

      Actually some people HAVE brought up the possibility of this guy being non-neurotypical. And I think it does a dis-service to people who are not neurotypical. Because his behavior is especially related to that fact. There are MANY of people with a range of non-typicalness, for lack of a better word, that behave perfectly acceptably, and plenty of perfectly neurotypical people who act just like this guy does.

      I do agree that speculation about the intern’s parents and the like is not useful. Also, that when the OP addresses it, the focus should be on what’s wrong with the behavior. Period.

    2. RTFM*

      From the Commenting Rules, helpfully linked in the commenting box:

      “Don’t armchair-diagnose others (“it sounds like your coworker is autistic/has borderline personality disorder/etc.”). We can’t diagnose based on anecdotes on the internet, these statements often stigmatize people with those diagnoses, and it’s generally not useful to focus on disorders rather than practical advice for dealing with the person in question.”

      Thus I’m surprised by you raising it, not by others failing to.

  27. Sunshine*

    I find it fascinating that there have been multiple comments seeking to excuse the behaviour of this intern, often excuses that insult another, disadvantaged group. The (false) assumption that working class, non-neurotypical or non western people won’t understand cultural norms and will be rude is the reason that they often don’t get internships in the first place.

    It is 1000% more likely that he’s an entitled person, possibly sexist, who needs a sharp lesson in treating other people with courtesy. OP needs to have the conversation and let him go if he doesn’t improve.

    1. Observer*

      I have to agree with you. Some of the assumptions baked into the attempted justifications for this behavior are classist and almost xenophobic. I mean really? Other cultures don’t have social norms of basic courtesy and not ordering people around? Of not having ANY sense of normal hierarchy? Very, very weird especially since a lot of the people doing this are also people who are horrified at anti-immigrant sentiment. But if you insist that foreigners are going to be boors, that’s no better.

      1. Sunshine*

        Exactly. People seem to be bending over backwards to speculate that he must be a minority because he’s being rude. Middle class white men are perfectly capable of being rude. And more importantly, minorities are not inherently socially backward FFS!

        It’s often the reverse, because disadvantaged groups don’t have the *luxury* of rudeness. It won’t be classed as ‘Oh that’s just Dave,” it’ll be classed as “See, we told you X group was like that.”

        Think of all the articles about the way women and people of colour get told they’re ‘being aggressive’ when they are communicating perfectly normally.

  28. GM*

    Looks like the rude intern hijacked the thread and took all the attention away from the other LWs!!

    I am most curious about OP#3 actually (Turning down an internal promotion). Why did it take 3 months of interviewing to realize you didn’t want the role? And why did you not want the role eventually, considering that it seems to be a step up?
    I have recently taken an internal promotion myself and I’m very happy with it, so this letter totally stoked my curiosity!

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