open thread – January 25-26, 2019

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

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

{ 1,617 comments… read them below }

  1. Amy*

    For people who’ve gotten what they thought was a ‘dream job’ only to be disappointed: how long did it take for that to become apparent? Was it because the job changed over time or were you misled from the start?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      When I had a dream job, it didn’t disappoint at all.

      When I had a “dream job,” I was misled from the start. It went bad really quickly.

      1. BeanCat*


        I had a work at home position that required occasional site visits that sounded wonderful and let me use two of my very unique skillsets that don’t really overlap. It was a lot of dysfunction and lack of clarity about what my role actually did. I was let go right after the busiest season, despite doing very well, because I expressed concerns about volume for the next busy season.

      2. BRR*

        All of this. I misled myself about the “dram job.” I work in nonprofits and had a high affinity for the organization/cause. Working there was like being a kid and seeing the Disney employee take the Mickey head off the costume.

      3. Doug Judy*

        Not me but a friend of mine had their dream job. The job was still great but the boss was a straight up nightmare and made things so miserable that it didn’t matter that the job itself was everything they wanted. For them it wasn’t apparent immediately but as time went on it got worse and it became unbearable. The boss wasn’t going anywhere, it was a branch of the city government and the boss was good friends with the mayor.

          1. Doug Judy*

            Yes, he eventually took something that wasn’t even close to his old job. He was only there for a few months and then he got a highly sought after position in his field. He now has his dream job without the nightmare boss.

            His old boss and his buddy the mayor are still in their positions, however the mayor is not seeking re-election and is retiring soon. And by retiring I feel some bad stuff would have come out about him had he decided to run.

        1. CRM*

          This sounds EXACTLY like my “dream job” situation! It really was the perfect position, I’d probably still be there if it wasn’t for my boss. He was an absolute nightmare, and because he operated under very little oversight he was allowed to get away with a lot. Nobody cared about how he acted or treated his employees as long as he was producing results. I truly loved that job, but he ruined it for me.

          I’m currently doing a job that I’m far less passionate about, but overall I’m much happier. It’s difficult to understate the importance of having a good manager, and a good office environment in general.

          1. Triplestep*

            Substitute “she” for “he” and I could have written this. It wasn’t my “dream job” but one I was really excited for when I started. Nightmare boss left unchecked, never coached about how to be a good manager, fitting in to all the bad culture stuff, etc. My morale, engagement, confidence and interest in my work plummeted.

            Next week I am starting a job that most people would find dry and boring on paper compared to the one I have now, but I am looking forward to having less stress, and no commute (work from home.) I anticipate I will be much happier, and honestly – at 55 years old – I am not trying to climb the ladder anymore. If they change my responsibilities to knock them down a notch, I don’t even care. Just pay me my rate and don’t make me come into an office and I’ll be happy.

          2. Wintermute*

            people don’t quit jobs, by and large, people quit bosses.

            There are some minor exceptions but for the most part you go into a crappy job knowing it’s a crappy job and adjusting your expectations accordingly. It’s the manager that’s the unknown “X quantity” that makes or breaks it.

          3. Cedrus Libani*

            Yep. I’ve had the “dream job”, but the boss was a nightmare. I was miserable. It wasn’t remotely worth it. I’ve also just been there for the paycheck, but the boss was sane, competent, and had the word “thanks” in her vocabulary. That was so very much better. I’ve had both together, and that’s better still. But given a choice, I’d take dream boss over dream job every single time.

        2. a good mouse*

          When I was first job searching, my mom told me it’s better to have a great boss and a job that’s not quite a perfect fit, than to have your “dream job” and a terrible boss. I followed that advice and took a role I was a little unsure about, and that was my favorite role/boss I’ve ever had. When my boss retired and I got a new micromanaging nightmare boss, I appreciated what I’d had even more.

          1. PurpleMonster*

            A rare occasion where parental job advice is bang on!

            My first job I didn’t like that much and we had a nice but not-great boss. When he left he was replaced by an awesome one, but it was too late for me and I’d already checked out. I sometimes wonder how different things would have been if I’d had Awesome Boss from the start.

      4. Artemesia*

        I once escaped a dream job because I just had this weird spidey sense and decided not to use my one ‘uproot the family and my husband’s career card’ on it. I was recommended by an important person in the field, it would have involved a high level project right off the bat, it was right in my lane in terms of interest and competence and it should have done a lot of good in the world. A friend of mine took the job after I turned it down — he discovered that the head of the organization had his hand in the till and there was a major top leadership meltdown, those running it had stiffed a bunch of community leaders who had been promised jobs to quit their jobs and work in the project, all the local agencies critical to its success were thoroughly alienated. Everything on the giant room size pert chart of processes and milestones was simply a lie. It was a clusterfudge of almost complete disaster. I would have uprooted my family and moved them to a new city in order to probably end up with a nervous breakdown. My friend was in the process of a divorce, so taking that year was not happy but at least he was able to keep his down, undo a little of the damage and then look aggressively for a job and move on when he got one.

        It did teach me that ‘dream jobs’ have to be proven in practice not on paper or in interviews.

        1. Fortitude Jones*

          It did teach me that ‘dream jobs’ have to be proven in practice not on paper or in interviews.

          I really like this. I have to remember this now that I’m technically in a field that uses my writing skills for 90% of the job, which, to me, would have been my dream job when I graduated with what then seemed like a useless journalism degree 10 years ago. Getting to do what you love for your career isn’t just about the skills you get to use, but also the environment you wind up in, the people you end up working with, the benefits you receive, and so many other factors that are too long to list. You can’t really suss this kind of thing out by just reading the job description or even just interviewing. It’s only something observable over time.

      5. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I took a promise for the future that the current job would *become* my dream job. Never do this unless the promise comes from the very top of the food chain.
        I was hired by the VP of Marketing at a startup to be marketing assistant/office manager for a few months before they’d hire a full-time office manager. I was fired by the Founder/President because a few months later what they really needed was a receptionist. I found it strangely reassuring that the VP who hired me left the company the same week.

    2. Rick*

      When I was offered a “dream job,” which contributed a social good, was a big pay raise, and a much better work life balance, I walked in on the first day and no one knew why I was there. Turned out to be an administrative nightmare and I walked out without notice within six months.

    3. Celaena Sardothien*

      It was neither for me. Mine was more of a familial issue than a work issue.

      I knew what my “dream job” was for a long time, and it took me a while to realize it was actually my mom’s dream job. She never got it, so she pushed me and pushed me in the direction of this career, insisting that it was “my dream.” It wasn’t until after I got the job that I realized it wasn’t my dream at all.

      Oh well. Good news it I do know what my actual dream job is now, and I’m taking small steps to transition.

      1. Mrs_helm*

        That’s actually a great point. The things that other people tell you should be your dream, might not be! The things that society says are signs of success (location, salary, perks, status) might not be what makes YOU happy in a job. it’s important to know yourself.

    4. Not All*

      I was misled from the start. It took a few months for me to figure it out though because the first few months in this field are so much orientation that you can’t really be positive what the situation is going to be for at least 3-6 months.

      1. Artemesia*

        It is very hard not to be misled when they try to mislead you although the internet helps today. After my near miss avoiding the ‘dream job from hell’ I did take one of the few other jobs in my field and they totally misled me and the organization tanked within 3 years and I and about half of the staff were all cut when the organization merged with another. We were in ‘duplicate departments’ and were cut by department to avoid law suits. Not that fun and I did ask the right questions but they straight out lied and it was before the internet and easily available information to check on them. (and one of those ‘it has been here for 200 years, how could it possibly go wrong now?)

    5. AnonyMouse*

      For me it was a combo of not being realistic with what I really needed out of my work environment, being a little mislead from the beginning, and my job changing abruptly about 6 months in.
      1) In terms of my own needs, I wasn’t realistic with myself about how important my geographic proximity to my family was. I currently live/work 1.5 hours away. I’m back with them about 2 weekends per month, and the driving back and forth plus lack of social support in my immediate area during the week has become very draining.
      2) I was a bit mislead about the culture of my current environment. Everyone in the interview acted like it was such a good place. They also misrepresented why the director was leaving. Turns out it’s actually a toxic, dysfunctional mess and that’s why everyone is slowly jumping ship (our staff is almost fully turned over at this point).
      3) With everything listed above taken into consideration, a big part of why I felt comfortable staying was the position I had. It was relatively unique and not something I’d find everywhere. Six months in we had a “restructure,” and my job was the only one that changed 100%. Now I can literally do what I’m doing here anywhere. That was kind of the final straw for me to start looking. I’ve been looking for a year and am hopeful I’ll find something better soon!

    6. Adam V*

      Mine was a “dream job” at the start – cool coworkers, casual environment, fun and fast-paced work. Within about 6 months, though, new management came in, the “casual environment” was largely eliminated and the fun coworkers started to drift away. I was gone within two years.

    7. AvonLady Barksdale*

      It took me about a month to realize that it was worse than, “Oh, I must have misunderstood this when they explained it.” I think it was when I went up to headquarters, everyone was miserable, and several people told me some really batcrap crazy stuff about the place and its leadership.

    8. Anonandonandonandon*

      I’m in this situation now. I’ve only started to see it after 5 months. I was hired for one thing and my role completely changed after that. It’s very disappointing. I took a pay cut in hopes I would gain more project management skills and about 3 months into it, my role changed to more of a data entry role. I don’t do well with Data Entry, it’s repetitive which is the opposite of what I wanted.

    9. Overeducated*

      I was not misled. I was moving from the world of small nonprofits and shoestring projects to a large organization and did not understand that my role was not going to be Doing All the Things, it was going to be trying to sit in the middle of a web pulling strings to make others more successful at Doing All the Things. I also had nooo idea how slow bureaucracy is. It was a hard adjustment and I’m not sure I was great at it, but it really helped me learn to think about systems and scale in a new way.

    10. Elizabeth West*

      I had a job I really liked–not necessarily a dream job. It wasn’t perfect, but it was a massive step up from my previous jobs. It changed abruptly three years in. Completely out of my control, in a way that was not sustainable for me.

      I think the whole dream job thing is bogus. Even a job you love doing that gives you everything you could ever want has crap stuff with it. If the good outweighs the bad, then I feel like I’m ahead. Just like with a relationship, when the bad starts to outweigh the good, that’s when it’s time to go.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yep. I totally get this. My new dream job is to stay home and they send me checks. Since I know that never happens, I am never disappointed.

    11. CastIrony*

      This is my story:
      Imagine my joy when I first got my one and only full-time job as a cook’s assistant, everything was going well. I had about 4-5 co-workers that made completing tasks easier. Around a month later, while having diarrhea from eating food my boss/owner had put his fingers that he’d licked the day before, (mild, but enough that I was going to the bathroom often), I asked to call someone to cover for me, only to find out that not only did I have to stay, but that I was the only help in the food department left!

      After that, the sh*t gradually hit the fan as he became critical of me every day, taking things away from me while I tried to fix my mistakes. About a month after that, I snapped and found my way out and walked from my job after I cubed a tomato wedge he was using, and he took a new tomato from my hand while I was trying to make another one.

      TL, DR ( Too Long, Didn’t Read): Things changed for the worst really fast as I found out all of my co-workers had either been fired or moved on, making me the only person left.

      1. Quake Johnson*

        Wait what? Did you never interact with any coworkers while on the job? How was it you didn’t know or weren’t told they all quit/were fired?

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I think everyone left for the day? Kitchens can be chaotic so maybe that is why OP did not know?

          I worked in one kitchen were you could spend a half hour looking for someone, there were so many places they could be. And because of the dysfunction (bad supervisor) people went to the boss instead of the supervisor. The boss would try to deal with problems and did not always have time to explain that people had left.

        2. CastIrony*

          I did interact with the co-workers (two were on my shift), but one left because they got promoted in their other job before this. The other person had been fired because they promised to cover for two hours the day before I asked to call them to cover me because my boss had a dentist appointment, but never showed.

          Sure, I knew about the first person, but I found out about the second person when I asked if I could call them so they could cover me because I didn’t want to infect other workers! What a time to find out that I was the only kitchen help he had for my shift!

    12. RJ the Newbie*

      I found my dream job that offered me a promotion, management status, a bump in salary with a global company after months of interviewing. After a month, I realized how much they had understated the antiquated financial systems they had in place and understated the corporate labyrinth they’d created which allowed for the continuation of a vicious cycle of bad project accounting and budgeting. I left after six months

    13. Fortitude Jones*

      About a year. The manager turned out to be….off. I ended up taking a promotion into a new division five months later. I’m currently in a dream job for my skills, but I’m looking to get out of this as well soon due to boredom more than anything. I’ve been here a little over a year, and we don’t have nearly the amount of work they told me we would have when I interviewed for this position. I need to be busy.

    14. Competent Commenter*

      Within six months, for sure. That’s how long it took to realize the scope of the job and just how ridiculously inadequate the available resources were, and to start learning that people in other units with the same job title and same scope had teams of 4-5 while I worked solo.

      1. bitters*

        Am I in your old job? That is literally what I am enduring right now!
        In a dream job at a dream company, but my department does not prioritize my vertical , my resources are limited (especially compared with the same positions in another vertical, I have a client that is notoriously difficult to work with and multiple people refuse to work with them and my Account Manager, my manager seems to prioritize the development of my AM at the expense of my growth and what are clearly my responsibilities, and I am the 4th person in my role in the past 4 years. Not to mention my position is the one that people blame when everything goes wrong?

        I’m told other departments at the company are better. I hope so.

    15. That Girl From Quinn's House*

      I’ve never had a dream job, but after some false starts, I make a point to carefully vet the job in the interview.

      “OK, I am certified to train alpacas. You mentioned llamas and I want to make it clear that I can handle llamas but I will need to go get my llama training certification as I am currently certified to train alpacas. Is that OK?”

      “One thing that’s important to me are compliance with animal care safety regulations. If the llama barn was found to be structurally unsound, I would expect to evacuate the llamas as dictated by the Humane Society Llama Barn guidelines. Is management able to support that?”

      “Hm. Looking at your llama barn, I see that there’s some safety equipment missing. There’s no llama First Aid equipment in case a llama cuts their hoof, and I’m not seeing a Llama 911 plan for summoning the veterinarian in an emergency. When I arrive, I’ll be able to buy the First Aid kit and implement a Llama 911 protocol correct?”

      Three weeks later: Hey we volunteered you to run a Llama Care training class tomorrow! Also, the llama barn is falling down but we can’t put the llamas outside because we rented the llama field to the polo ponies this week so you’ll just have to deal. And this expense report- why are we spending $500 on a Llama First Aid kit? And why are you bothering the desk staff with a Llama 911 plan, they’re trying to work. Stop bothering them.

      Okay then.

      1. CastIrony*

        That sounds horrifying! I, too, learned that I need to work in a place that values safety and follows safety regulations!

      2. Not So NewReader*

        An organization I volunteer for would hire you in a heartbeat. You’re just what the doctor ordered. Someone who can prioritize and keep us in compliance. I especially like the part where you feel free to say what is wrong. So many people struggle with that.

    16. Tysons in NE*

      My dream job had it’s ups and downs. Very little with my actual job content but rather poor upper level management. For example when we had to move offices, it took them about five months to get dependable internet, I would say working phones except the phone system was never quite right. Security was an issue with our office (not so much the office building), we had no control over when the doors were locked and unlocked. Yup that’s right if no one was in the office and for some reason the door was opened it would stay that way until 5pm.
      For me personally at one point they (meaning the German management) decided that my position would go part time, but never told me when and what they meant by part time. This is the US and at my previous place if you worked 30 hours or more you could get health benefits. After 9 months and new local upper management my position stayed full time.
      A part of me was very relieved when I was laid off after two years at that place.

    17. Alli525*

      My first “dream job” was really, really great until I was assigned to a new high-profile hire, who quickly decided he hated me and decided he would try to get me fired. I outlasted him but the experience jaded me and I quickly realized that the industry itself was too toxic for me to stay.

      My next “dream job” really was wonderful – ups and downs, but still – until we got new management who were absolute nightmares and ruined the company culture.

      Basically: The Powers That Be really needed to be better at hiring high-level people.

    18. Existentialista*

      My first career was in academia. From the time I was a Sophomore in college, every aspect of my life was devoted to getting a position as a tenured professor. Ten years later, I finished my PhD and got a job overseas at a big university – my dream realized!
      I stayed there almost four years, and it took a few years of counselling, a bout of Prozac, a three-month career development seminar, several lunches with a mentor, and finally, the catalyst of my partner moving to a new city, for me to finally realize that although I loved being a student, I didn’t love the academic life as a career. Even then, I didn’t resign but just took a leave of absence, and it took almost two years to fully resign.
      A compounding factor was that in academia there’s a narrative, first, that we’re so lucky to be doing what we love, while everyone else toils as a wage slave, and second, that we’re not fit to do anything else in the “Real World” and so have no options.
      Fortunately, I found a career where there is constant change and innovation, so I learn new things all the time. I’ve had corporate jobs now for more than 25 years. From time to time people ask me about the transition, and ask if I’d like to go back, but I can truly say that I have no regrets, and find my life today much more dreamy in every way.

      1. Three Flowers*

        And also what your PhD is in? (Humanities PhD candidate with reservations about academia here…)

    19. Just Another Manic Millie*

      I was misled from the start. It was my very first job. I was hired to be the secretary of the owner of a travel agency that specialized in arranging conventions in Europe for countries in the USA. This was in 1973, so I guess that a lot of American companies had conventions in Europe back then. I was told that I would be going to Europe on occasion to provide secretarial help to the companies. That meant that while my days would be filled, my evenings would be free! In Europe! The owner said that I was so smart, he would train me to be a travel agent. “I can always get another secretary,” he said.

      But I wasn’t smart enough to realize that he had lied to me. He told me that my hours would be from 9:00 AM to 5:30 PM, Monday through Friday. However, on my first day, I was told that my hours would be from 9:00 AM until midnight Monday through Friday, plus 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM on Saturday, plus Sunday mornings if necessary, because there was so much work to do. And I was told that I wouldn’t even get overtime. Instead, the owner would keep track of all my hours, and I would get time off when the company could afford to do without me.

      I should have walked out right away. Instead, I stayed until 9:00 PM, and then, on my second day there, I gave notice. I said that I was willing to work there from 9:00 AM to 5:30 PM, Monday through Friday, until they hired my replacement. Two days later, I was told not to come back. I was just glad that it was my first job, that i hadn’t quit another job to go work there.

    20. Cat wrangler*

      My dream job was a dream until a client made a wrongful complaint about me (they complained that they hadn’t been sent by post when the policy was always email to a named account as we were a publicly funded service. Moreover the email acount they used to complain from was different from the one they had written down on the attendance sheet – which had received the information!) instead of investigating it internally before responding to the client, I was thrown under the bus by the relevant administration and ordered to rectify it in an email copied to the client. I ended up making a counter complaint about how the complaint had been handled internally after I forwarded the original email trail to the new provided address. I suspect that the client wanted a word copy of the information instead of printing their own copy and felt that we should provide it like it was 1989. The attitude from my manager was appalling though: she told me I should grow a thicker skin and didn’t understand that the jumping to conclusions bit from my organisation and taking the client’s word as gospel before investigating was the bit that stung (clients were forever arguing and complaining so you follow the protocol of dealing with them) – you expect your organisation to have your back! I left a few months later.

    21. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I took a job that was essentially pitched as doing what I was doing prior, only for a thriving company. I loved my previous job but due to health issues my boss couldn’t keep running it and the economy was tanking, so it was a slow grind on meager means. So imagine my thrill to find another place with a much livelier staff and growth instead of decline etc. The owners said they wanted someone who could manage it with them just doing their own thing, they’d be able to spend less time there to take care of aging parents and life things. Right up my ally…

      Then the bottom dropped out. They were a nightmare to work with. Hands off indeed, until they saw they were bleeding money and started slashing staff when the place couldn’t run on the few souls they kept around. They were prone to backstabbing and scapegoating. They went from adoring me to writing me up for ridiculous comments I made as jokes months before and they laughed at, joked back at me about etc but suddenly when they were mad, I was Public Enemy 1.

      I quit. Found somewhere that respects me and isn’t owned by craycrays.

      1. tina*

        This sounds like the place I was just let go from.
        Chaotic company, I ended up mainly doing project management instead of the programming I have been hired for. Helped them to develop a plan for the ridiculous deadline they set up and once everything was starting to fall into place they told me I was doing stellar work but my communication was disrespectful and solving that would take too much time.
        Scared start-up founders with no tech experience running a tech company now without a tech lead and only a part time IT student :D

    22. Queenie*

      The “dream job” pulled the bait and switch. After a month or so it was apparent I was being misled and fed a lot of lip service. It’s super disappointing but better to find out early rather than when you’re super invested in the company!

    23. Astrea*

      I…don’t know if that’s happened to me. My dream jobs have met my expectations, and my only nightmare job was one I was pressured into taking but really didn’t want to take. How do you define a loss of “dream” status? Is it still a “dream” if you want another job like it? When I interned at an aquarium, that was a dream job. It brought some unexpected struggles — the constant standing worsened my chronic knee pain, I disliked being in the cold darkness all day, and even being near tanks of marine life didn’t satisfy me when other staff got to go *in* those tanks. But I still loved it, and want another such job more than anything. It was imperfect, but I think it still qualifies as “dream.” When I was a park ranger, it was frustrating and exhausting and I felt totally burned out by the end of a season, but it’s a job I excelled at and wish I could have again. So I don’t know.

      That said, I’ve witnessed the difference between what a job can be like and what outsiders think it’s like. When I was a ranger, the park was mixing up the jobs of educators and visitor center staffers so that each could do some of the other’s work. As a visitor center staffer, I greatly appreciated the chance to give some programs, but the educators did *not* like serving on the front lines at the often-extremely-busy information desk. Once, on an especially bad day when the center was teeming and I would have thought it was obviously a not-fun environment at that moment, a visitor asked one of the very stressed educators “So, what’s it like to have the best job in the world?” Luckily, I think she managed to laugh instead of figuratively biting his head off. (Another visitor once told me he would give up his “immortal soul” for my job, which I wouldn’t have been quite willing to do).

      1. The New Wanderer*

        I think it’s a dream job (or close enough) if you’d go back to it (or take one just like it) with all the good and bad. I’ve had several jobs like that. You can recognize the crap parts of a dream job and still love it and want to stay because it’s crap you can live with and the great parts more than make up for it.

        The loss of a dream job is more when you were told/believed it was going to be perfect for you and it turns out to be so, so bad in at least one significant way that breaks it for you or makes you truly unhappy. For example, I interviewed at two companies that seemed like such good fits for me on paper. At one, the work part sounded great but the daily 2-3 hour driving commute in heavy accident-prone traffic would have broken me. At the other, I would have been doing the kind of research that I find fascinating, but the company objective for how to apply that research was so not what I was interested in and everyone I talked to had totally bought into the Vision.

    24. Animal worker*

      I’ll say mine came in stages. First, the job they posted and the job they wanted were not the same, which I luckily found out through sources before the interview so I wasn’t ambushed without preparation as to how I felt about it; think advertising job 1, but wanting to take job 1 with job 2 that someone was retiring from soon and combine them so job became 1 and 2. I had lots of skills and experience in job 1, few for job 2 and it was a level above but not one to which I aspired. But I wanted to work there so bad I was willing to try – strike one.

      Strike two was new grandboss reaching out to old grandboss about my application when I hadn’t told old grandboss about (I had actually told boss that I was applying, and she was very supportive).

      Strike two and a half – I ended up working a 2 1/2 month notice at my old job – strangely enough as an agreement between the old and new grandbosses. About a month before I started new job they had a long-term employee pass away very suddenly, which affected my position greatly. So right from the beginning things were different than I originally envisioned.

      Strike three, four, five and six – It took a little over a year to find some significant differences of philosophy in critical areas with my big boss – things they weren’t going to change and that I couldn’t work within – so it was then that I knew that the ‘dream job’ was not going to be the long-term, rest of my career placement I had hoped for, and I began looking elsewhere. Before I found anything an event occurred that fractured the relationship for good involving a safety and welfare issue that I just couldn’t accept. The time from then until I actually left – which was definitely a mutual parting of the ways – was incredibly toxic and one of the most stressful situations I’ve ever dealt with. Took some time, lots of stress, but I landed on my feet and am in a solid place that I can hopefully stay long-term.

    25. Slartibartfast*

      About a month. I was misled. I would like to believe it wasn’t intentional, but I suspect it was. The person who hired me was very different in private from the way they represented themselves to the world at large.

    26. Mrs. Carmen Sandiego JD*

      Took 2 years. They promised cool projects, which were removed at the last minute. They did desk chair limbo, so I lost my lovely window office and ended up with a windowless office much smaller. As one coworker told me before I left, it was like I was getting demoted. Even though I was getting a pay raise at the time, it still felt awful. The place took men more seriously than women, and my immediate boss grew even more nitpicky and micromanaging as the years went by, even though by all accounts I was doing a fantastic job. They didn’t have maternity leave either (tiny less than 25 person company). When I gave notice they were quite perplexed, and my boss didn’t congratulate me. But when I told my friends (who’d long since left, they excitedly congratulated me for escaping…)

    27. MissDisplaced*

      Usually the ‘dream job’ sours when there’s a manager change or a major change with company structure (merger, ownership, etc.).
      My story was both. Great manager left at time of divestiture. New manager came 1 year later, plus a company move and a new CEO. Needless to say, not the same company anymore, and not for the better.

    28. Silver*

      My ‘dream job’ my boss and the CEO hated each other. It was bad.
      The would publicly undermine each other, give conflicting instructions, change things at the last minute which meant me working until midnight. It was draining.
      I finally jumped ship with no job to go to. Landed in a maternity fill role for a great company not two weeks later so all ended well.

  2. Captain Fluffybutt*

    Hi all! Very happy Friday to you all, this week feels like one of the longest in my life and I’m glad to see the back of it!
    On Monday I had a meeting with my boss. It was not a good meeting and essentially had a list of things to improve. Essentially it seems to boil down to our resident dead weight team member Tarquin (who is struggling with core elements of his job nearly 1 year after joining), has explained away his (often blatant) performance issues as me not being supportive and approachable enough. Now I admit have been frustrated and I’ve raised the performance issues with my boss, but she is very opaque about it saying it’s being worked on and to trust her. Meanwhile me and the rest of the team all work to cover his slack – I’ve explained to her it’s impacting my ability to do my own work, but she insists to be patient. Anyway, in the meeting she said that it wasn’t formal yet, but that if there wasn’t improvement it will be. I have a list of stuff to work on and review meetings, but honestly I feel shattered by the whole experience. I have always worked hard and my work is all to a high standard and I have lots of strengths, but I’m not the most warm or friendly of people. I’m also stunned that it seems that it’s fine for Tarquin to coast by on poor quality work and that that doesn’t seem to be taken as seriously as this is. Like if I thought Tarquin was getting this same informal (but also formal) meeting and action plan it wouldn’t hurt so much – but from what little she’s told me it doesn’t seem he is. It seems that her solution is that rather than speak to Tarquin about his performance I’ve instead been told to keep helping him. Probably because she knows I will listen and do it. She keeps defending him as being friendly and well liked.
    So all in all a terrible week where I’ve done a fraction of my work as I’ve been having to help everyone else with theirs. I feel incredibly demotivated and like there is no point being good at your job apparently as it’s more important to be liked. I’ve got a lot to work on, so I’m planning to take on the feedback and get past the reviews. Then start looking for somewhere else, as long term I don’t want to be stuck picking up someone else’s slack because my boss doesn’t want to address performance issues.

    I don’t know if there’s any advice for me other than to take on the feedback I’ve recieved, but it does feel good to vent!

    1. Foreign Octopus*

      Eugh, I’m sorry that this is happening.

      The old “friendly and well-liked incompetent” versus “slightly cool but competent” is deeply annoying. It would frustrate me too being in your situation and depending on how much I liked the job normally, I would be looking for a new job. I hate the fact that he’s been in the position for a year and management don’t seem to be doing anything. I know it takes a while to get used to a new job but I do feel that at the year mark there should be visible and obvious signs of competence, no matter how friendly and well-liked a person is.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        I was also going to say that your boss sucks, and it’s time to move on. Take comfort in the fact that your boss will end up with a team full of Tarquins eventually.

    2. Lupin Lady*

      I’m so sorry for you, this is a really awful experience. Hopefully someone has some helpful advise for you!

    3. Me*

      I mean….get out.

      Same situation. Coworker with the same title and same job literally does nothing. Boss, who is also horrible in own way, knows there is an issue and has been “working on it” for over a year. Meanwhile, I’m getting micromanaged for fun. It’s bred a resentment that is coloring my entire view of my job. I hate coming in to work and it’s hard to be a nice person when you work with jerks.

      Get out before you get bitter. I waited too long and while I’m now actively searching, I am also responsible for putting myself through this. You can’t control others, only yourself.

      1. Captain Fluffybutt*

        See aside from this one (admittedly big) issue my boss is overall very good. There was a bad situation last year for me, where she (over 9 months) said she was working on it and to trust her. Then in the space of a day the issue was resolved – essentially moved from a toxic team into another with an adjusted role (it’s what I wanted). However throughout that she was communicating and I felt listened to with frustrations. With Tarquin it feels like I’m being blamed for his performance and my concerns are being brushed off.

        I was close to leaving over the previous issue so my CV is recently updated, just needs a few tweaks. As long as this doesn’t go formal then it shouldn’t leave a mark on my record, but I don’t know how it’d affect my bosses reference!

        1. Me*

          I get it, I do. Only you know if it’s tenable or not.

          What solidified it for me was the no improvement after a looooooong time and the thought of the 10 more years I need until retirement working like this.

          Not only has Tarquin demonstrably not improved, ie the situation hasn’t improved, but it’s gotten worse – you are being held accountable for a bad employee and a bad manager.

          Alison addresses it a bunch, but many places understand the current boss can’t be contacted. Is there someone else who can vouch for your work there?

          That said, if your manager is otherwise good, can you request a meeting? Say you take her feedback seriously and will work to address the issues. Tell her you would like advice on some past situation pertinent to the feedback and ask how should would have wanted you to handle it. Either it might make her think that she’s being unfair or it might help you clarify that you are expected to be incompetent’s keeper.

          Good luck!

        2. I'm A Little Teapot*

          Problem is, this issue will eventually taint everything else about the job, and it’ll be a lot harder for you in the long run.

          The fact that it took 9 months for a massive issue that was going to make you leave to be addressed – that itself is an issue.

          1. WellRed*

            Yes, nine months is not a good boss fixing things. Also, “trust me” is kinda dismissive and opaque.

        3. Astor*

          As long as this doesn’t go formal then it shouldn’t leave a mark on my record

          To me, this is the part that means that you really have to get out and cannot wait to see what happens. If you’re worried about it going on your record, then it’s likely going to get worse.

    4. Adam V*

      Yeah, I don’t know how much “taking on the feedback” I’d be doing versus how much job-searching I’d do instead. Maybe just stop by his desk every hour or so with a fake smile and ask him “so what are you stuck on now and how can I help?”

    5. Quinalla*

      I would try and make it more your boss’ problem. Say that to cover X, Y & Z of Tarquin’s tasks, I will need to push back deadlines on A, B or C project. How do you want me to prioritize my work? Doesn’t have to be that exact wording of course, but something that makes your boss really see the consequences and make choices. At the very least I would document what items you are doing and approximate time it is taking and give that to your boss at your next meeting so they have a better idea of the impact this is having on you.

      Also, I know you don’t know, but I would not assume that nothing is being done with Tarquin, but I would try to find out more at least if he is also being talked to about his performance and working on a plan? You be clear you don’t want or need or expect details, but just to know that your company has a structured way to deal with this kind of thing. If you find out that no, nothing is really being done to address this directly with him, I would be seriously considering sending out resumes because that is not a place you want to continue to work at if they can’t handle performance issues and firing when needed in a way that is fair to their employees.

      Last, I would try and separate the comments to be more approachable and warm from the Tarquin issue. Ask if your boss has feedback from anyone else (since it sounds like your boss shared it came from Tarquin or are you just assuming?) about this being an issue? Not everyone is going to be all smiles and warm and fuzzy at work, nor should they, but there is a certain level of approach-ability and warmth that everyone should aim for at work and if it is something your boss is concerned about outside the Tarquin issue, you should take it for a separate thing to possibly work on.

    6. Approval is optional*

      Totally sucks!
      I’d think about doing the following:
      1. documenting the time you spend helping Tarquin/doing Tarquin’s work over the next couple of days/week or whatever makes sense,
      2. meeting with your manager and laying the documentation in front of her and saying that as you spent x hours helping him as directed, you need to ‘drop’ some of your own duties/projects and your plan is to not do y and z. If she says you have to complete all of it, push back – ‘Doing all my duties isn’t an option when I only have [%] of a normal working week left.’ – and stick to it.
      3.documenting the discussion – and any agreement on what to drop especially.
      4.continuing to meet with her regularly and at each meeting set out what you are ‘dropping’.
      5. be approachable and support Tarquin (even if you have to stick pins in a voodoo doll when you get home to cope) – you’re not ‘sulking’, you’re not taking it out on him – you’re doing as you were directed (so she has no ‘excuse’ to make the feedback ‘formal’). Have regular meetings with him and minute what you’ve helped him with/coached him on , if you train him formally, document the process/objectives/assessment etc.
      She is doing this, in part at least, because she knows you’ll do what you say you’ll do – take on the feedback and get past it and try to do your work *and* Tarquin’s- she’s counting on your not making her life difficult about it: she gets to not manage Tarquin and not get flack from you, so maybe give her some flack! The objective of the plan is to do as she directs you with regard to helping Tarquin, but not let her avoid the consequences of her directive.
      Obviously if you think she’s the sort of manager who would give you a bad reference, put you on a PIP straight away, fire you or the like then this won’t be a good strategy but worth thinking about perhaps?
      In addition – is it possible for the whole team to push back on doing Tarquin’s work for him? I doubt you’re the only one not happy about this – perhaps each person could propose duties they’ll ‘drop’.

      And of course job hunt – even if you push back and she deals with Tarquin, she’s shown who she is as a manager and it’s unlikely to be the last time she takes the line of least resistance to the detriment of you and/or some of your coworkers.

    7. V*

      I’ve been noticing a trend with my friends and family lately where the person who cares the most about their actual work and/or the company’s mission is weirdly the first person to get let go. I’m guessing here but I think it has something to do with the intensity you have towards your work making other people uncomfortable and the fact that you care so deeply means that they can mess with you the most (i.e. nothing’s going to land with the fun-loving co-worker so why bother coming for them).

      Negative feedback is hard but try to take it in a vacuum separate from your garbage coworker. There is likely at least something there that can help you to become better, even if it’s icing on the cake of you already being a great worker. There’s always something we can all improve and it should be our goal to make ourselves better. I’ve definitely been there where I felt like I was getting undue criticism vs. coworkers but once I just focused on myself it was much easier to swallow – I could pick out the gems and I actually did improve a lot. Information is your friend.

      I know it’s really hard to do when you are really invested in your job, but try to just honestly relax and have a little fun at work. Go out to coffee or lunch with a coworker or a networking opportunity. Remind yourself why you do the work. Make a joke. Let yourself emotionally disengage from your work a bit, imagine yourself as a bird in the sky viewing it all objectively. Remind yourself that it’s not your company. Look for other opportunities outside, even going on some other interviews can make you feel appreciated/validated and help you feel better at work.

    8. Master Bean Counter*

      It really sucks when work turns into a popularity contest. That really only plays well in Sales.
      I think having an exit strategy is the way to go here.

    9. Competent Commenter*

      I hope you can get out relatively soon. If your supervisor likes Tarquin’s behavior so much, she should be given lots of time to enjoy it directly without you getting in the way. :)

    10. Mockingjay*

      This is where you can use Alison’s script: “Sure boss, I can help Tarquin, but that means I won’t be able to finish A, B, and C. What should I prioritize?” Keep flipping it back to her.

    11. Not So NewReader*

      I think your boss does not know how to manage.

      You can ask for some idea of time frame. How much longer will you be expected to do his work?

      You can ask for someone to be assigned to him so everyone is freed up to do their work.

      Depending on the setting you may consider (ask trustworthy people around you) that you could ask for a raise because you are basically supervising this guy.

      I don’t understand why you are doing this alone, please involve your teammates with this matter. Get them to talk to the boss also. In desperation what I have said is “Don’t complain to me about Bob. Go tell the boss.”

      From the two examples you have here your boss is pretty spineless. I might be tempted to agree to do his work and job hunt like heck every night after work. For the most part, I can either spend my energy advocating for myself at work OR I can job hunt at night. I don’t have enough energy to do both for any great length of time. If your boss won’t set a time frame then set one for yourself. How long are you willing to wait here? A month? Six months? You were finished yesterday?

    12. CupcakeCounter*

      Wow…your manager really sucks
      Any way you can go above her head with documentation of the issues?

    13. JGray*

      You have my sympathy. I was in the same boat last year. I get promoted so need to replace my old job. We hired someone within the organization. I am bringing up performance issues (i.e. her not doing her job) but she’s lying and saying that I am not helping her and being mean to her. I meanwhile am picking up the slack and working two jobs. My boss fell for it hook, line, and sinker. Luckily for me she ended up quitting and then I discovered that her & another coworker were sending very disparaging messages about me over a work provided instant messaging system- things such as my hair is horrible, my clothes are horrible, and I can’t do my job. I turned my other coworker in to my boss but I think my boss (since she’s a new boss) actually didn’t put much stock into it because of the lies that had already been told about me. So now I am trying to find another job that pays what I make now but so far no luck

    14. Singin in the Rain*

      You have my sympathies. Early in my career, I experienced something very similar. I was part of a management team at a retail chain and good at my job, but was never able to break into the main clique at work. The employee I was supervising was very incompetent, but also very well-liked by the main clique. I was brought in for a similar talk with our general manager – nothing about my job performance was off, but I wasn’t “fitting in” and I needed to be nicer to the employee as she felt I didn’t like her. My biggest regret is staying in that situation until they found a reason to let me go. I knew was not a great working environment, and I hated it there; I should have walked away. My only consolation was that the incompetent employee was let go less than 2 months later because one night while closing the store, she left her store keys lying around and someone picked them up. By the next morning, the entire contents of our very large stockroom was gone and it was the largest merchandise loss in company history.

      I did learn the value of being more friendly and approachable at work and developing those relationships. I’m naturally an introvert and more inward, so it’s taken several years of working on these skills, but these days I am seen as being very friendly, which does make life easier.

      However, it also helps to be around people who don’t suck. And in your situation, it sounds like your colleague and, more unfortunately your boss, both kind of suck. I would be looking for another job.

    15. Bawab*

      Until I saw your reply below, I thought we worked together. I am dealing with the same issue, and I hope the employee either gets it together or gets fired .

  3. Anonymous Educator*

    Did anyone listen to Kara Swisher’s interview with the CEO from Basecamp? It’s very interesting stuff in terms of work culture. No instant communication. No meetings. No bureaucracy for software changes. Paid vacations for employees (paying for the actual trip, not just the days taken). Only making a profit and doing good work. No goals for growth.

      1. Anu*

        Huh, I have Jason Fried’s book It Doesn’t Have to be Crazy at Work out from the library, and this is inspiring me to actually go read it.

        1. Anu*

          I have to say though, that while this interview is valuable, the idea that you have to go back-and-forth and back-and-forth with someone to schedule a meeting with them gives me the heebie-jeebies. I was in that kind of environment in grad school, and setting up a meeting was like herding cats. It’s soooooo much easier in a corporate environment where you can see people’s calendars and figure out a time slot that works for everyone without having to resort to Doodle polls. That said, people need to be able to say no, and my company does have a culture of being able to say – actually I’ll be working on something very important that day, can we just move this to next week? And people understand that.

          1. Anonymous Educator*

            Yeah, I wasn’t really with him on the “Call up someone to schedule a meeting” instead of “Just find an available slot on her calendar” bit or the “Don’t bother with emails. If it’s important, the person will bug you again.” Seriously? So it’s your job to pester me if you want a meeting? Or it’s my job to pester you if you ignore my emails?

            Those had me scratching my head, but rest of what he said I was fully on board with.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        I think all links go into a moderation queue initially, but it seems Alison’s finally approved it. See above.

    1. Susie Q*

      Caveat, I haven’t listened yet. But I don’t think I’d want my company paying for my vacation. I’d rather be paid a salary that allows me to pay for my own vacation.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        They claim to pay in the top 5% for the industry, and by San Francisco standards, even though they’ll let you live anywhere.

    2. ProperDose*

      This is SUPER refreshing. Such a great point about some of the “perks” at work. Or how everything became ASAP, and how they counter that

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        Not everyone may agree with everything they practice at their company (personally, I’m a fan of answering emails and not just ignoring them), but I really like a company shaking things up and challenging the status quo of what’s hip for tech companies (or even non-tech companies).

    3. Anon for Now*

      Yes! It was fascinating. I loved the fact that he called out all these “tech perks” that are really just an excuse to get employees to work longer hours. Well and I really loved that he provided a paid trip for vacation as a perk.

    4. Midwest writer*

      I will have to take a listen later. I am super interested in the concept of, you know, just making a profit and that being good enough. I see lots of businesses being run out of business even though they make money, because they aren’t growing in some crazy, unsustainable way.

      1. Audrey*

        Totally agreed – I didn’t agree with everything in this talk, but we need to have companies that are going to just be small companies and the pressure for everything to be the next billion dollar startup is problematic.

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          That’s a major problem, but I also think it can be applied to small businesses. I used to work for a small business (privately owned) that made a fair bit of profit every year, but the leadership was obsessed with setting targets for every year and—just as he said in this interview—setting the targets doesn’t do anything useful. If you hit the target, yay, I guess? If you don’t, you just feel bad. Better to focus on doing a good job and being profitable. A percentage up or down in any given year doesn’t mean much in the long run.

          1. TL -*

            Goals and targets are a good thing if they’re approached reasonably. You need a direction and a metric for a company to go in, even if it’s just “continue doing as well as we have been, things are all good.” And a way to track if that isn’t happening!

            Though those kinds of goals are better expressed as flexible ranges – we’re okay as long as we bring in 50-60 sales/month on average kind of thing.

  4. Meh*

    So I have a wording issue I’d like input on. Right now I’m a temporary worker (due to a grant) doing teapot design for a school (not teaching). I’ve expressed interest in being permanent there and my boss and his boss are onboard with the idea. However, after some back and forth, they have come back saying that they may be able to do it if my role changes to half teapot design and half managing a kitchen “maker space” where students can come and try designing teapots, pots, pans, kettles, etc.

    I would prefer if I could just do teapot design only and not have to deal with the kitchen maker space, but I’m willing to do it to keep the job (though I only really know teapots and not the other stuff). But my main concern is that right now teapot design takes up a lot of time and I worry that splitting it in half with this other responsibility will result in there not being enough time to do either task particularly well. How would you recommend voicing that concern without making it sound like I don’t want the job?

    1. IL JimP*

      How about something like:

      I like the idea of doing both roles moving forward but can we talk about what that would look like since I’m already doing teapot design full time? How do you see me balancing both teapot design & managing the maker space in this new role?

    2. Susie Q*

      I would try speaking with your boss and see what your responsibilities would be then talk to him about how you would want him to allocate your time.

      I would say “Boss, I really enjoy my work especially working at this company. You had mentioned that I could potentially stay on permanently if I did half teapot design and half managing a kitchen maker space. Could we speak more on the responsibilities of those two roles and how you see time being allocated between the two?”

      I’m not an expert but this is how I would approach it.

    3. Ann Non*

      You don’t say how the school is funded or whether the grant is permanent – I’m going to assume that it’s a publicly funded school and a temporary grant. Given this, do you know that your bosses have the ability to hire a full-time, permanent teapot designer?
      In my country, schools are not at all free to make their own hiring decisions; even teachers must be hired via a board; there are very few non-teacher positions available, and most of those would include hopping across schools in the district.
      Maybe by giving you additional duties they are able to divert money from different budgets to create the position/don’t have to share you with other schools? Of course you can still ask and see if they are willing to create your dream job, but there might be external constraints that are stricter than in the corporate world.

    4. MRK*

      I would frame it was time management/making sure all duties can be covered. “Currently I spend X hours a week doing A, B,and C. Could you tell me more about the daily tasks of running the maker space? I want to make sure I can do both these jobs to the best of my ability, so it would be great to get an idea of how my day would look.”
      I also suggest asking because running a maker space can be anything from “make sure things are tidy/stocked and answering an occasional question but otherwise you can work on your own projects while you’re there” to “totally hands on and essentially running a class all the time.”

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Adding: Be sure to point out that you are having full days in the position you are now. You would not be able to work at this same pace if you went to half time here and half time at the space maker. Is that okay with them?

      If you want something even less aggressive ask them what they envision your average day would look like.

  5. Philippa*

    What are peoples’ opinion on religious symbols in the workplace? We have a new starter who wears a cross openly. So far she hasn’t tried to engage in any discussions about religion or anything (for all I know it’s purely decorative), but I thought it was generally frowned upon to display any religious symbols unless it’s mandatory (e.g. head coverings) or if that’s related to the nature of the work.

    1. Murphy*

      I don’t see the problem with it in in most situations. (I’m assuming it’s normal jewelry size and not like a Flava Flav gigantic cross.)

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      I’m fine with it, as long as it’s not something obnoxious. If someone wants to wear a cross or a fish, that’s fine. If someone is plastering “No Jesus, no peace; know Jesus, know peace” or “Jesus is the only way” signs everywhere, that is definitely not cool.

      1. Pippa*

        “No Jesus, no peace” always triggers my smart arse reflexes

        “No drummer, no band”
        “No harm, no foul”
        “No shirt, no shoes, no service”

    3. Guy Incognito*

      If she’s not mentioning it, then it’s probably something important to her. I don’t think it’s an issue as long as no one is forcing anyone to do or listen to anything

    4. Coffee Bean*

      I think wearing it as a jewelry is absolutely okay. Even having a small motivational note on your desk is fine.

      That is their attire and area, and so long as it isn’t overboard, and they aren’t forcing religion into all conversations, then I see no issue.

      People have different religions, and that is part of who they are, they just need to be respectful of others.

    5. Namast'ay in Bed*

      I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wearing a cross at work, they’re usually pretty minor pieces of jewelry.

      When you say openly, do you mean it’s just visible or that it’s a piece that gives Flava Flav’s neckwear a run for its money?

        1. Namast'ay in Bed*

          Ha after it refreshed I saw your comment and was glad I wasn’t the only one who thought that too!
          *high fives back*

        2. Yvette*

          I am afraid that is a pop culture reference and should be avoided. :) Seriously, I always thought that displaying religious symbols did not mean to include a cross or Star of David necklace but was more along the lines of “don’t have a life size statue of whoever on your desk”

          1. Crooked Bird*

            “Whoever” is right! I think a life-size statue on your desk would be a problem even if it was, say, David Bowie… :)

    6. Foreign Octopus*

      Speaking as an atheist, it wouldn’t bother me unless it was accompanied by a sermon and an attempt to convert me and my sinful ways.

    7. Notthemomma*

      Totally normal to wear a necklace, ring, bracelet,etc. it’s part of their personal identity and what makes them an individual. Commenting that ‘I went to ——services’, or X religious holiday is coming up, or ‘I’m fasting for xxx’ is normal. Conversion, talking up or down a particular religion, and haranguing is not okay.

    8. Anonysand*

      I think this really depends on the context of your work industry, location, office culture, and how she is wearing the cross. I haven’t heard of any hard or fast rules against it, and living in the bible belt I’ve seen plenty of women wearing cross necklaces and it’s never been an issue (both in non-profits and the corporate sphere). But does your office try to maintain complete neutrality when dealing with politics, religion, and other sensitive topics? And there’s a big difference between wearing a necklace with a cross on it and showing up to work in a bedazzled Ed Hardy jacket with a rhinestone cross, which takes it from something personal to “in your face” territory.

      Honestly I would wait and see how things go- she could very likely never bring it up and it will be a total non-issue. And if not, then I would let her supervisor deal with it at that point.

      1. Pomona Sprout*

        Agreed. I don’t see why anyone should object to someone wearing any religious symbol jewelry that’s not in your face huge/tacky, whether it’s a cross, a star of David, a Unitarian Universalist chalice, a Baha’i 9 pointed star, or whatever. For those who choose to wear such things, they can be extremely meaningful as well as a treasured part of the person’s identity.

    9. wait wait don't freeze me*

      Jewelry is fine. It’s when it gets really in your face that it’s an issue, like asking me why Jews don’t celebrate Easter, and wanting to tell me all about your church’s seder because as a Jew I must want to hear all the details.

      1. Spencer Hastings*

        Oh yeah, I just love to hear about my culture being appropriated! It doesn’t make me feel sad, angry, or violated at all! /s

        1. Arielle*

          My rabbi has a great story about talking to a woman who had been to a seder at her church and just found it so meaningful how the wine represented the blood of Christ.

    10. Temperance*

      I think a cross necklace on a person is different than a religious symbol posted in the workplace, if that makes sense.

      For example, I work with a person at a nonprofit who feels the need to have his email signature say “The Rev. John Smith, Esq.” and include his church title. I’m not super comfortable working with him because I think that’s inappropriate and strange. (His job is secular.)

      1. wait wait don't freeze me*

        Oh yeah, I have a coworker who has some very very religious stuff in his e-mail signature, along with an ~~inspirational picture. It’s nails on the chalkboard.

      2. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

        Had a colleague who tried to insist on his religious credentials (which he was also super sketchy about … liked to insist that he was ordained, but wouldn’t tell us what denomination etc, which to me seems like a detail that’s important when committing to a life of service). We work for a government agency so that’s a no-go, as his job had nothing to do with his Reverend stuff. But it didn’t stop him from trying.
        It was very inappropriate and designed as a provocative act so that he could claim discrimination. We did our best to ignore it.

        But a nice quiet cross, not a problem.

        1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

          You can buy “ordinations” online for a ridiculously low amount of money, they don’t mean anything and I know people who have gotten them as jokes.

      3. Jack Be Nimble*

        I’ve got a couple coworkers with scripture in their email signatures, and it does make me a little nervous, since I’ve experienced religiously-motivated homophobic discrimination in the past. However, I also feel like my discomfort is mine to manage on this one–if they were peppering every conversation with Jesus-isms, or if I thought they were specifically directing the scripture at me, I’d speak to my manager, but I think that a passive, unobtrusive expression of faith is perfectly acceptable in a workplace.

        1. Temperance*

          Oh he’s a lawyer and some sort of minister. I think adding Esq. makes it more pretentious and weird. (I’m a lawyer, I get to judge this crap. lol )

    11. Baby Fishmouth*

      I don’t think it’s frowned upon to display religious symbols at work, as long as they aren’t being vocal/evangelical about it, and it’s within reason. For instance, wearing a cross around the neck would be fine; displaying a giant light up 5 foot cross next to their desk would not.

      If you try to dictate which religious symbols people can and cannot wear at work, it’s very easy to veer into inadvertent discrimination territory.

    12. Former Expat*

      I recommend a blog post called “I Can Tolerate Everything Except the Outgroup” (Or something similar, it’ll come up on Google). It really helped me think about what bothered me, e.g. say a coworker who wears a cross and what didn’t bother me, e.g. a coworker in a hijab. Check it out.

      1. Kat the Russian*

        Oooh, yes. That’s from Scott Alexander’s blog, SlateStarCodex, and I agree that it’s really a great post (great blog in general). I’d like to tl;dr it here but I’m not that good with words. All I can say is that it’s worth a read.

      2. Lissa*

        whoa that was was a very interesting article – I had never thought of things quite like the author put it, though of course it makes perfect sense! Explains too why people don’t like feeling “tolerated” and why that word has become synonymous with negative feelings to some degree.

    13. An Amazing Detective-Slash-Genius*

      I think the general consensus here is clear, but also want to point out (anecdotally of course) that if someone wears a cross necklace every day and isn’t proselytizing, there is a good chance that the necklace is a prized object or gift that carries almost as much weight as a wedding ring. Asking someone to take it off when they’re wearing it discreetly might hurt them more than you’d intend.

      Obviously this doesn’t apply to everyone, but I’ve seen that a lot in Christian circles and it’s not something everyone knows, even other Christians.

      1. Dragoning*

        Yes, I also received a cross necklace when my great-grandmother passed, as a piece of her jewelry specifically picked by her to be given to me. I don’t wear it that often, but if I did and someone told me not, I would be very upset, not even for religious reasons.

        1. An Amazing Detective-Slash-Genius*

          Same here!

          I’ve asked my friends and relatives before about cross necklaces and am always met with a story about somebody. I’ve yet to meet someone who purchased a cross necklace for themselves.

      2. KR*

        I was thinking this. I have a cross j display in my home because it was in my mom’s hands during her funeral. I’m not very religious but display the cross in a prominent way that, if you didn’t know me, would make it seem like I am religious.

      3. BigSigh*

        Same. I’m an atheist and occasionally wear a cross necklace as it’s a treasured gift from a relative that has since passed. Heck, I know someone who is heavily involved in religion to the point where he attends church services multiple times a week, attended only to religious schools, and nailed crosses over every door frame in his home (which I know from visiting). He has never once said a comment that could be taken as a conversion tactic.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            I think it’s actually the norm. The other way makes a more compelling anecdote, while talking about the weather rather than religion isn’t worthy of comment.

      4. Parenthetically*

        Yes, agreed. And it doesn’t even necessarily bear a specifically religious significance to the wearer. Cross necklaces are common Confirmation gifts for girls, and I know many women who wore the necklaces as a treasured (and often expensive) reminder of childhood/parental love/lingering affection for part of their religious upbringing LONG after they had decided not to identify with Christianity any more.

      5. Saucy N Mossy*

        Yeah, I have a rosary in my car. While I guess I am technically Catholic, I certainly am not practicing. I got the Rosary as a gift for my grandmother several years ago from the Vatican…even went as far as to have it blessed there.
        When she died, it was draped over her coffin for the service. She wanted to be cremated and interred in a different city, so the rosary was returned to me. I have not taken it out of my car since that day. To anyone getting in my car I probably look like a very religious person who prays every time I start my vehicle!

        I also havea St Christopher keychain from my now deceased grandfather and extensive collection of pictures of Catholic churches that I took during my travels through Europe….yet I could not tell you the names of the gospels or apostles or books of the bible anything like that.

    14. She's One Crazy Diamond*

      I think it’s totally fine to wear a piece of jewelry that’s a religious symbol or have minimal decorations in their cube at work as long as their actions don’t make other people feel alienated for not belonging to their faith, for example I had a former boss who was trying to convert me to her faith and that was so so so inappropriate. I’m not personally very religious but freedom of religion is important to me (though if you’re not from the U.S. that may not be relevant to you) and I wouldn’t want to work somewhere where someone was told off for wearing a cross necklace and doing nothing else that could be construed as inappropriate.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        I think there’s absolutely nothing wrong with wearing a cross, whatsoever. But it’s different from a headcovering because I don’t know of any religion that requires its followers to actually wear a cross. (I await correction, obviously!)

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          Whoops… just saw what Zeldalaw posted. So yes, if it’s that kind of situation, the cross is the equivalent of a head covering.

        2. JG Wave*

          I think there are also… different levels of “mandatory,” especially in a country like the United States. The laws of my religion mandate certain head coverings for certain people, and there are people in my local community who do seem them as mandatory for themselves but not other people, and some who agree that they are mandatory but don’t always wear them for their own safety or comfort.

          I’m not sure if this distinction actually makes sense. I guess I just mean that, functionally, it doesn’t matter if “the religion” requires people to do something or not, because according to US law, they can’t enforce that! It’s really up to whether the individual FEELS that they are required to do something by their own conception of religion. That’s the defining issue, and in that case there is very little difference between a head covering or a piece of religious jewelry.

        3. ket*

          Wearing a hijab isn’t mandatory, though, if we’re speaking strictly about Islamic rules. There’s a lot of debate among Islamic thinkers about this and the ‘scarves not necessary’ group has some really respected scholars. In some families, it is ‘mandatory’ in that mom/dad say so; in some countries, it is mandated by law; in many communities, it’s required by community agreement/pressure; some women see it as not mandatory but as a choice they make to symbolize their commitments.

          1. hello*

            A hijab is also not a religious symbol though. I mean obviously it has religious meaning, but it’s an article of clothing, like a Mormon wearing long sleeves, as opposed to a symbol.

    15. Dragoning*

      I think that’s fine–as would be a Star of David, or an Om, or anything else.

      If she’s not preaching or imposing it on you, let her express her religion in her own way.

    16. Zeldalaw*

      This could be less “optional” than you think and it may be mandatory for them. There are some Christian denominations, such as some (all?) Orthodox, who do see wearing crosses as mandatory.

      1. I Know a Lot of Priests and Nuns*

        Yeah I am Orthodox and in a lot of areas within the church wearing a cross isn’t even seen as wearing “jewelry”- it’s not a decorative/aesthetic choice it is a part of the religious practice.

        1. Faith*

          I’m Orthodox, and I would agree with your statement that it’s a part of the religious practice with a caveat that your baptismal cross is worn under your shirt, and is not visible to others as a regular piece of jewelry would be.

          1. I Know a Lot of Priests and Nuns*

            Yes, I agree with that in most practices but in the US at least, you will find that is not a universal amongst all jurisdictions (not to mention, baptismal crosses often don’t make it past a toddler age of attempts to eat your cross)(or so I have heard). I’ve seen many people who wear a 3 bar cross over the shirt as one would any pendant. Whether that’s right or wrong is a discussion I’ll leave for some Orthoweb blog ;)

    17. SemiRetirdd*

      There was a woman character in some recent show that always wore a cross and I found it incongruous; it didn’t make sense in context. A spy maybe? Does this ring a bell with anyone? Maybe a doctor? I always thought she wouldn’t be allowed to do that in real life, in her profession.

      1. TL -*

        I’ve definitely known doctors who wear a cross. There’s nothing wrong or inappropriate about it.

        1. SemiRetired*

          Might have been Skully, will check. Or Carrie W in Homeland? You are correct, it wouldn’t strike me as off on a doctor. (Hm, maybe that SVU Special Victims character? It didn’t seem “inappropriate” just strangely girlish and kind of out of place for the character.)

    18. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Jewelry is jewelry. She’s not hanging a cross from her cubicle wall or creating a barrier from a stack of bibles.

      I wear a Star of David necklace almost every day, even with v-necks, and I would be really offended if someone told me not to wear it. I don’t wear this at you. I wear it as, among other reasons, an identifier of myself.

    19. Eeyore's missing tail*

      I wear a St. Rita medallion every day and my cross several times a month. My medallion is very important to me, but I don’t discuss my faith at work. The only time it comes up in conversation is if we’re talking about weekend plans and sometimes I add something like “DH and I are going to church Sunday, then we’ll be out shopping.”

      If someone tried to tell me that another woman in my office was fine to wear her headscarf, but my medallion had to go, then I’d be heading over to HR and EOO to find out why. As long as she’s not trying to convert anyone, I’d say leave it be.

    20. londonedit*

      I think it does depend on culture/location. Where I live, it’s very rare for people to evangelise when it comes to religion – in fact, it’s mostly frowned upon to talk about religion in most social circles (apart from if you’re in church, obviously!) So someone wearing a necklace with a cross wouldn’t immediately come across to me as someone who was ‘displaying a religious symbol’. I’d probably assume they were religious, simply because I’m not and I wouldn’t wear a cross, but many people in the UK are sort of ‘nominally Church of England’ without being particularly religious, so it wouldn’t ring alarm bells for me. Plenty of people who are ‘vaguely religious’ receive cross necklaces when they get married, or for a birthday, and wear them without there being an ‘I Am Proclaiming My Christianity’ meaning to it.

      1. TL -*

        There’s nothing wrong with wearing a cross to proclaim your Christianity, though – would you tell a Sikh not to wear their kara (bracelet) because it is intended in part to be a visual identifier of a Sikh? Or an Orthodox Jew to stop dressing in a way that identifies them as a Jew?

        Evangelizing at work is not okay, but marking yourself as someone of a particular faith is absolutely okay. Even if the person’s sole reason for wearing a cross is so other people can recognize her as Christian – that’s absolutely fine.

    21. Hailrobonia*

      As others have pointed out, small things like jewelry, etc. are fine.

      There was one an employee in our central accounting office that had Bible and other religious quotes in her email signature line. We are a secular university… I am very surprised nobody put a stop to that. Does anybody really need to be “reminded” that “Christ is King” in an email confirming receipt of a purchase order?

      1. Elizabeth West*

        At Exjob, we weren’t supposed to have any slogans in our email signatures at all, no matter what they were. But people did it anyway and nobody did anything. I was always tempted to put a Joker quote or something in mine, LOL.

        Elizabeth West
        Assistant, Widget Consulting Group
        elizabethwest at xyzcompany dot com
        “Why so serious?”


        1. Asenath*

          A while back, my employer decided we all had to have the same email sigs. I didn’t like it much – not because I ever put anything non-work related in mine, but because the authorized version is longer than the content of some of my emails. Still, I put up with it. The employer can specify the sig I use.

        2. Dragoning*

          My boss used to have a Ghandi quote in his until our director mandated that all our signatures had to be formatted the same way and include the same kinds of information–out it went.

          It was annoying anyway.

        1. Beth Anne*

          That is in reference to the bible verses in email signatures. I think religious jewelry is fine I’ve always worn a cross most of my life.

    22. Doodle*

      I work at a public university, lots of direct student contact in my office, my department values (as in, if you ask us to list what are the essential values we as a department live and work by) diversity and inclusion, the university says diversity and inclusion are also its values. We’ve discussed this issue as a department and here are our guidelines: we can wear jewelry with religious symbols as long as it does not cross the line into proselytizing or advertising (love the Flavor Flav refs). Religious clothing: we follow federal law on this one. Office decorations: strictly non-religious, and we need to consider whether anything will be offensive or intolerant, and in particular whether it will make a student so uncomfortable that they will not feel safe talking to us about important stuff.

      So, no one who comes to my office is going to miss that I’m a feminist and I’ve got opinions, but I keep my Obama 2012 button put away. I have certificates posted for trainings I’ve done for LGBTQ, racial equality, and veterans issues , and my door has an Everybody Welcom Here mini poster. I have a small book of psalms that I look into fairly regularly, but it’s tucked back where others cannot see it if they’re sitting near my desk. (In fact, no one at my office could say with any accuracy whatsoever what my religious beliefs or unbeliefs are, but that’s just me.)

    23. Micromanagered*

      FWIW I’m an atheist. Even if she were attempting to engage in religious discussions, that wouldn’t make the cross an issue for me — the issue would still be that she is attempting to engage in religious discussions at work.

      Unless you work in an field where there is an increased need to remain religiously neutral (I’m thinking like a public school teacher or social worker or something?), it should not be an issue.

    24. Karen from Finance*

      It depends a lot on the culture. I wear a holy spirit chain, and I also have an ankh ring. I’m not Christian much like I’m not of the Ancient Egyptian faith, I wear both symbols because of the ideas that they represent more than the whole religion behind them. But most people assume that I’m a Christian when they see me.

      I don’t think there should be a problem with it unless she’s being too much in people’s faces with it, like other commenters have said: if it’s just the cross and no comments, it’s fine. I think the line is whether she’s making anyone uncomfortable and how reasonable they would be to feel that way.

    25. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Would you be asking this if she were wearing a star of David? I doubt it.

      Jewelry is not a cause for alarm. It’s not a sign she’ll ever start preaching to you.

      I wear cross earrings some days.

      I have a rosary in my car. I speak about religion 0 times a day at work.

    26. JJJJShabado*

      So this wound up being an issue in England in 2012-2013. A British Airways worker was told not to wear a cross and she wound up suing and winning the right to wear it.

      I agree that it being in your face (whether the cross itself or prosthelytizing) is the issue and not necessarily the cross itself.

    27. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Just wearing a reasonably sized cross? No issues from me. I actually have a pair of earrings that are the same shape as a religious symbol, but it’s not religious to me, it’s the symbol of an organization that I’m affiliated with.

    28. ElspethGC*

      My dad wears a St Christopher – for safe travel – even though he isn’t religious. It was from his mum, who was fairly actively religious, because he started travelling to work. I’m sure my nana thought it had a religious meaning. To my dad, it’s just a chain with a medallion that has memories of his mum. At some point in the future, if I inherit it, I’ll probably wear it too because it has memories of both of them, but I’m completely and utterly non-religious. Someone Catholic might see it and think my family are Catholic, but no.

      Unless you live somewhere like France, where certain jobs aren’t allowed to wear any religious symbols whatsoever, you don’t want to be that boss. Maybe she is Christian, or maybe it’s just an heirloom, but either way.

      1. Jack Be Nimble*

        I wear a St. Joseph medal for similar reasons, despite being irreligious (although my family is Catholic). Sometimes jewelry is just jewelry, sometimes it has more significance. Either way, it’s not an issue.

    29. Jules the 3rd*

      US South specific: Wearing religious symbols is fine in most offices as long as you don’t talk about it beyond a short, friendly reply in response to a direct question about it. Part of personal expression.

    30. Justme, the OG*

      I have no issue with a cross or other religious symbol on their body. I would though if it were hung on a wall.

    31. DAMitsDevon*

      Like everyone else is saying, it’s pretty much a non-issue if someone is just wearing a fairly small piece of jewelry. The only way I could see it causing a potential issue is if it was in a job where all employees are prohibited from wearing jewelry (either for some sort of safety issue or if they have strict uniform requirements), regardless of whether or not said jewelry is religious. Though that doesn’t seem to be the case at your office.

    32. Dog in a bag*

      Aw, remember the early Aughts when crosses were just a staple accessory for like, any and everyone? Maybe just for kids to early 20s people. I remember buying one from a vending machine at the move theater, despite being raised without religion at all. Oh, and the belly button rings my cool older cousin wore all had bedazzled crosses.

      After that cross jewelry doesn’t even ping as religious for me unless it’s accompanied by a bible in the hand, lol.

    33. Youth*

      I wear a ring with a religious symbol, but generally I don’t discuss my beliefs with people unless someone actually asks me about them. Once, a classmate of mine said, “I like your ring! Is it a Great Gatsby ring?” It does look a lot like the Great Gatsby crest from the movie! Even then, I just said “No” and didn’t elaborate.

      People usually wear religious symbols for themselves, not for others. It’s not really an advertisement.

    34. Parenthetically*

      “I thought it was generally frowned upon to display any religious symbols unless it’s mandatory”

      No, in fact, depending on where you live and what line of work you’re in, the right of religious adherents to wear a malah, rosary, kippah, ankh, cross, Star of David, hijab, om, crucifix, sheitel, Plain dress, etc., may be enshrined in law, and requiring that person to remove it could constitute illegal discrimination.

    35. Artemesia*

      I would not do it myself and find this sort of thing unseemly — but that is me. People have a right to do this and as long as they don’t try to engage people in religious discussion I would ignore it. It can be problematic in places where people of one religious group tend to gang up and bully those who are in minorities but it has long been considered part of freedom of religion.

    36. Nacho*

      In America, wearing a cross/Star of David/Hammer of Thor/any other religious symbol as a small necklace is generally considered fine and unobtrusive. I know in some other countries that’s not true though, so it will depend on where you are.

      1. Snazzy Hat*

        As a Norse Pagan, I thank you for including Hammer of Thor in your list of religious symbols.

    37. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

      Oh good grief. I’m kind of sad this is even a question.

      You have a person who has never engaged in any religious discussions with you and you are worried about a piece of jewelry on display? I can guarantee you that you are surrounded on a daily basis by people who are wearing religious jewelry. These people manage go about their daily lives quietly practicing their religion of choice without guerrilla baptizing those around them and damning all the sinners to their version of hell.

      Perhaps, a little less fixation on wrappings of your coworkers would be a good thing.

    38. Llellayena*

      There is no difference between wearing a cross and wearing a hijab or yarmulke. It’s just that the head coverings are more noticeable and less associated with “mainstream” religions (read: Christian) and so get most of the attention when it comes to discrimination. In all cases it is a personal expression of faith that manifests as something worn. No matter what faith, as long as they aren’t trying to proselytize and the necklace/head wear isn’t a safety issue, ignore it.

    39. AngelicGamer, the Visually Impaired Peep*

      I’m agnostic but I have a pretty cross necklace with purple stones that I love to wear. It’s got no religious significance to me at all and I would wear it to a workplace without thinking twice. In fact, I did in retail and nobody batted an eye about it – even cranky customers.

    40. anon4this*

      I’m an atheist and wear a gucci cross sometimes because it’s gucci and technically just because a symbol popularized by a particular religion doesn’t always make it religious (i.e. technically a cross is a just an “x” or a display of an ancient method of execution). I think it looks nice but has nothing to do with faith for me.

    41. Lilysparrow*

      Her jewelry on her body is her business, as long as it is otherwise conforming to the dress code in terms of size, jangling noises, etc.

      It is also none of your business whether she wears it for religious reasons, because it’s a family heirloom, a gift from a special person, or anything else.

    42. Seeking Second Childhood*

      In the US at least, she’s allowed to practice her religion — this would include wearing a cross or star of David or flying spaghetti monster image, and it would include saying she’s going to church/temple/PastaNight on her day off.
      What she’s NOT allowed to do is to proselytize and demand other people start joining her in her religious observance.

    43. Wow.*

      Seriously? I know it’s cool now to **** on Christians, but simply wearing a cross is offensive? Now I’ve heard it all.

      1. SemiRetired*

        I checked back in the thread and have not found a single person who claimed to be offended. The OP used the phrase “frowned upon” and raised it as a question, not a conclusion. So, no, you haven’t “heard it all,” or at least, you haven’t heard that. Get a grip, Wow.

    44. NewWorkingMama*

      I’m an atheist. I wear a cross. My dad gave it to me and it has sentimental value. One person in my career has mentioned it and it was a non-issue. Unless she’s talking about religion opening, she’s not wearing the cross AT you. She’s just wearing a cross.

    45. theletter*

      In the US, religious symbols are tolerated as part of the ‘freedom to express religion as long as it does not hinder anyone else’s ability to express their religion’ ethos. It’s only government institutions that have to remain secular. As you probably noticed, a lot of politicians wear their religion like a badge of honor.

      Jewelry is sometimes decorative, sometimes imbued with personal meaning, sometimes even used just for the symbols on it. Crosses don’t just summon Christianity to mind, a lot of people (NOT all people) perceive the cross as trustworthy, safe, with pure intentions.

      But the cross could just as easily be the gift from a beloved relative. You shouldn’t read into too much.

    46. mcr-red*

      I occasionally have worn a cross necklace to work. I have several. I have one that I bought at a secular store that’s a bunch of crosses that looks like I’m trying to ward off vampires, and I bought it because that’s what it looks like. I call it my vampire hunter necklace. I also have a small page a day calendar with scenery on it and some religious writings on it – sometimes a verse from the Bible or an inspirational quote.

      Also sitting on my desk? A little figure of Cthulhu, several space aliens, a vampire toy and a couple of superheroes. I have talked more about any one of those things at work than the calendar. I don’t know if I’ve ever, in all my years of working, ever talked about religion at work. Maybe calm down.

    47. Ladylike*

      Many people who wear crosses are not especially bold or zealous about their beliefs. It’s an extremely popular symbol for many reasons. Here in the Midwest, it’s so common to see a small cross necklace that no one bats an eye. To me, this is a total non-issue.

    48. MissDisplaced*

      Meh. No matter what it is: cross, Star of David, ankh, pentagram, coin, crystal or triple moon, it ought to be fine as with any other jewelry accessory in the office. That means professional and tasteful and understated.

      1. Lena Clare*

        Also university jobs and school business manager/ governor posts might apply too, anything in those ‘publicy’ businesses which are organisational managementy.

    1. Nonprofiteer*

      Some NGOs have policy staff who work to influence governments and multi-laterals – either for their mission goals or for their own funding. E.g. we are a chicken pox org, the government should require vaccines and also fund orgs like us to provide them.

    2. Linda Evangelista*

      What kind of policy are you looking for? Basically every company in every industry has government relations, and the pay ranges accordingly. Federal policy jobs will be obviously based in or around DC, but there are state policy and lobbying jobs as well.

    3. epi*

      There are lots of things in the public health world. Health policy and administration is one of the major content areas of public health. But people in other areas also do policy work or work that could influence policy.

      Depending what you want to do, having experience working in health care or deep knowledge of particular health conditions or treatments can be very helpful.

    4. CaptainLaura*

      Basically any/every company that offers a product or service that is regulated by the government. My company has several pockets of “regulatory administration” professionals.

      Other areas that may interest you: mergers & acquisitions, contracts, supply chain. These have been very policy-heavy in my experience.

    5. Nesprin*

      Regulatory +/- QC in biotech/GMP manufacturing. Speaking healthcare there is a big deal, and the FDA’s compliance regs might be close enough

  6. Jenna*

    General question: how flexible are your working hours and how closely does your company/organisation monitor them?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I have pretty strict working hours, but my boss allows the people in my department to be fairly flexible about it. If my co-workers with kids have a kid emergency, they can leave early or come in late. We can take “sick days” to take care of loved ones. The main focus is on getting the job done. But, yeah, we still have regular hours we’re expected to be here unless there are extenuating circumstances.

    2. Coffee Bean*

      This really depends on the business. There are jobs where it is important that people are in their seats at a certain time, and the whole time (call center and retail for example). But then there are jobs where it is okay if people come and go on a more flexible schedule.

    3. Minerva McGonagall*

      I’m in higher ed and my job can be pretty flexible! I work 8-4 because commuting is much easier in the pre-rush hour. There are some evening/weekend events but my boss is diligent about making sure that if I’m working late or coming in over the weekend that I take a half-day sometime in the near future. For me it’s really just my supervisor trusting that I’m in when we decided I’d be in.

    4. Sophie before she was cool*

      I work remotely, and my hours are super flexible. I’m expected to be available during a consistent set of hours, but it doesn’t really matter which ones. I work 8am-12pm and 2pm-6pm to maximize timezone coverage and allow for coveted mid-day gym time, but I have coworkers who work 7am-3pm, 4pm-12am, etc. It’s not a big deal if I have an appointment/travel/commitment during those hours as long as I alert the people I’m working most closely with.

      As far as I know, my particular hours aren’t monitored as long as I’m working approximately 8 hours per day (7 or 9 is fine, outside of that my manager asks me what’s going on).

    5. Works in IT*

      My hours are very flexible, but there are designated blocks of time each day I am allowed to work, and can’t show up earlier than that or stay later than that. If I wanted to I could work ten hours every day for four days and take one day a week off, but I don’t do that because part of my responsibilities is maintaining a presence during business hours every day.

    6. Peachkins*

      Mine are fairly flexible. Technically each employee does have a set schedule, with some people choosing to start as early as 7:15 am and others as late as 10. Whatever start time we choose we’re expected to work our 8 hrs. If we need to make changes for some reason, we just need to let our manager know. My particular manager is extremely flexible- if I have an appointment during work hours, I just let her know and make up the time elsewhere during the week by coming in early or staying late (unless I want to use my time off- I generally don’t if I’m missing less than half a day, although I could if I wanted to). We do work from home now three days a week, and other than Monday, everyone is in the office on different days, so we sign into Skype at the start of the workday. I assume that’s probably how management monitors whether we’re online and working or not most of the time. Generally, I think as long as your work is getting done none of it’s a big deal.

    7. Youth*

      Mine are fairly flexible and I don’t have a ton of oversight in determining my schedule. However, if I didn’t work as quickly and efficiently as I’m told I do, I imagine I’d be kept on a tighter leash.

    8. KarenK*

      Pretty flexible. I’m salaried, and well-established and trusted in my position. Actually, what I do is the very definition of a salaried position. I have a job to do, and as long as I do it, no one fusses about how much I’m in the office. My supervisor does not monitor when I get in or when I leave. She trusts me to do my job without looking over my shoulder. I have two physician managers who also essentially give me free rein. It helps that a great deal of my job could be done from home.

      I absolutely love my job. It’s a good thing, because I’m nearing the end of my working life (retire in 5-6 years), and I could never go back to having a strict schedule (must be in by X time, can’t leave until X time, X minutes for lunch, X minutes for breaks). My idea of Hell.

    9. OtterB*

      I’m in a small not-for-profit member organization (so, not directly client-serving) and our working hours are extremely flexible. Most people have fairly regular schedules, in the sense that we know that personA is usually in before 8 but personB is often not in until 9:30. We’ll have occasional must-do times, usually when we’re having a staff meeting or running meetings for someone else, but otherwise we’re supposed to let people know if we’re on vacation, WFH or in late/out early (in case they’re looking for us) but it’s totally fine. We fill out a biweekly timesheet.

      My boss says he hires grownups and expects us to get the job done. A lot of our internal communication is by email anyway, and I won’t know and it won’t matter if the person is in their office down the hall, at home, or on the opposite coast for a work function.

    10. ThatGirl*

      My current job has fairly standard business hours, but at my last job we had a lot of flexibility; as long as we worked 8 hours and were there from at least 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. it could be 6-2:30 or 10-7 or some other configuration. We also had regular WFH days. While there were plenty of less-good things about that job, I always really appreciated that part.

    11. Dragoning*

      I’m expected to work 40 hours a week (disregarding things like holidays and time off requested in advance), sometimes more if something urgent happens.

      I’m hourly, so, I have to submit a time sheet. I’m also a contractor, so I don’t get paid vacation or sick days, but I’m still allowed to take them unpaid.

      I have a lot of flexibility (I think), though. If traffic or weather makes me late, I can alter my lunch time or leave time, or make it up later in the week. If I leave early for an appointment, I can do the same.

    12. CheeryO*

      State government here – very little flexibility. We can choose our own schedule within a fairly narrow range of hours (I think 8:00 – 6:00), but you have to stick with whatever you decide. No one is going to ding you for being a few minutes late in the morning, but it’s expected that you manage your time and take it out of your lunch or stay late to make up for it. The nice thing is that we get plenty of leave time, so you can easily charge a couple hours here and there for an appointment or whatever.

    13. She's One Crazy Diamond*

      I’m generally expected to work certain hours majority of the time but if I need a schedule adjustment once in a while, as long as I discuss it with my manager it’s always approved.

    14. KR*

      Pretty flexible. I can work from home nights and weekends if needed and my manager trusts me to determine for myself if it’s necessary. I have a general window when I like to arrive to work and leave for work, that my manager knows of, because I have a hard time showing up at the same time every day and I’m liable to sleep in or have days where I’m more motivated. I’m not closely monitored but I’m also expected to be available throughout the day to support my department and if I’m not available when they need me it raises a flag.

      1. CaptainLaura*

        This is true for me as well, down to the part about not being skilled at showing up at the same time every day. I did a temp assignment for a different department (same job) a few years ago and the manager was super strict about start and end times. Everyone hated her and eventually there was a coup.

    15. Temperance*

      My hours are very flexible, and I’m not really monitored at all. Our admin team has scheduled hours and they clock in and out.

    16. Clawfoot*

      On paper, my work hours are 8:30am – 5pm (M-F office job). In reality, my hours are actually something like 7:45am – 4:15pm, which was cleared with my manager. We’re allowed to take time to attend to dr’s appointments and things, but are expected to make up the time, but in my seven months of being here, nobody has ever actually checked that I have (I have, because I’m like that, but nobody ever checked up on it).

    17. Adam V*

      My hours are fairly flexible. We’ve got “core hours” where everyone’s expected to be available if you’re working that day, but we’re pushing heavily to be have all of those meetings remote-friendly. As far as monitoring, I mainly just check in with my teams on a regular basis to make sure that they aren’t having any issues contacting anyone in particular.

    18. londonedit*

      Very flexible here. We have one day a week where all the meetings are, so it’s important for people to be in the office then, but otherwise we have core hours but it’s totally fine for people to come in early and leave early, or come in late and leave late, as long as the work’s getting done and they’re present for any meetings they need to be involved in.

    19. Need a Beach*

      We have core hours of 9-3, and flexible scheduling is at the discretion of managers as long as the timing includes the full core hours. Some departments are not allowed flexible schedules due to the nature of their work, but the ones who do it have to maintain consistency. So, working from 6-3 every day is fine, but you can’t show up at a different time every day of the week.

    20. Kill ItWithFIre*

      I currently work a 40 hour week, (or 37.5 hr since there are rules about breaks in my area, not that it matters). My hours are usually 6/7am to 2:30/3:30pm excepting when there are meetings or something happening that I need to be around for. The office’s hours are 8:30am to 5pm usually, but it depends on the person or department needs, I tend to keep different hours. I also will work from “home” to accommodate my life as needed (sometimes in another city because one of my parents is quite ill, but still working 8 hour days) . No one really monitors me, because no one in my group consistently works in the office I am based out of. But, the flip side is I am available a lot after I leave the office and and weekends. Basically as long as I am in the country I am at least moderately available. I refuse to answer questions or assist if I am out of the country however.

      I had to work up to this though, I have proven my work ethic over the last 7 years – working late or early, sorting out projects that are on deadlines, having my vacation interrupted with emergencies, sorting out a terrible working location to get the job done, etc. I’ve moved around for this job, am flexible for what is needed and am willing to sort it out when things aren’t going well or something goes wrong.

      So I guess my hours are very flexible and i have little oversight, but that’s not the norm.

    21. pcake*

      I work at home, and the person I work for doesn’t care about my working hours at all – only having a certain amount of work done each week.

    22. Karen from Finance*

      I’m mid range. Not an executive, not a new joiner. I have 1 hour of flexibility every day (can arrive/leave 1 hour earlier/later), and those aren’t really followed too much unless you start to show a pattern of not completing a full workday. Working from home is not a featured benefit, but it’s allowed within reason, it’s not expected to be required more than once every couple of months. For doctor’s appointments, or if you have to renew your license or go to your kid’s play (?) or whatever, they’re pretty damn flexible but they track the hours and again, it’s flagged it it’s too blatant.

    23. Susan Calvin*

      Extremely flexible. The amount is fairly closely monitored because we mostly bill it out, and also want to know the efficiency of internal stuff, but as long as you keep approximately daylight hours and block off middle-of-the-day appointments in outlook, you’re fine.

    24. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I have core hours. So 9-3 I’m supposed to be here. So I can start any time as long as I’m here by 9 and leave any time after 3. I flex and work 7 hrs some days. 9 hrs others. Usually average the standard 8hrs since I’m a creature of habit.

      Summer I wakeup with the sun. I work 7-3:30 and this time of year, 8:30-5ish. Nobody cares and only notices if you’re approaching 9:30 and they need you but then we usually just need to text in and say we got trapped in traffic or whatever.

      It’s unmonitored unless there’s a “where’s Nancy?! It’s 10 and I’m getting worried” moment.

    25. The Rain In Spain*

      I’m a salaried, exempt worker in the US. I typically work from 7:45/8 am – 3:30/4 pm. On days I work from home it’s more like 7 am – 4 pm (but with breaks). As long as my work is getting done, no one is monitoring my hours. If I need to leave early/come in late I am always able to do so. I think core hours are something like 9-3 so my team tries to make sure someone’s available during those hours.

    26. Annie Moose*

      I work in web development for a contracting company that has a number of individual teams, most of which have very flexible schedules. My current team has a daily standup meeting at 8:30 that we’re expected to be present for, but you can arrive as long before that as you like. It would be frowned upon if you left earlier than, say, 3:30 PM on a regular basis. However, our hours aren’t closely monitored by our manager unless you’re repeatedly being late to standups, noticeably leaving early repeatedly on days where you didn’t come in early, etc.

      Other teams are even more flexible–my old team really didn’t care as long as you were in the office 10-3ish, so I usually did 9-5 there. In all cases, however, we’re expected to be recording 40 hours of work time a week. (we do have to record our time–as contractors, we need that for billing)

    27. Asenath*

      Officially or in practice??

      OK, overall, there is quite a fair bit of flexibility for most people, including flex time, with the usual exceptions – offices dealing with the public need to have someone there during normal office hours (which means working out lunch schedules so everyone doesn’t go to lunch at the same time), some departments have to provide at least a skeleton staff over longer hours – even 24h for security. But I work in a little section in which almost all of my work doesn’t require my presence at a particular time – work comes in by email 24/7, I do it, not 24/7, but it doesn’t have to be 9-5, either. In fact, when I started I was given the choice of two possible work hours – 9-5 or 7-4. I’m a morning person; I took the earlier ones. Then there are the occasional times I have to work before or after my regular hours – I get time and a half off in lieu of overtime. And the whole place closes a half hour earlier than your regular hours in the summer. One of the best things about my job is the flexibility in when I work and how I organize it.

    28. Chuck*

      I’m in higher-ed administration. General working hours are 8-4:30 with unpaid half-hour lunch, but it’s pretty typical to come in at 7:30 and leave at 4 too, and lunches can run longer (while not counting against time worked) if it’s a bigger faculty thing. For instance, we have birthday lunches every month that might last an hour/hour and a half. No one has to clock in or out, and it’s pretty typical to, say, work 9 hours one day so you can leave at 3:30 the next. But a lot of people work unpaid overtime (not egregious but like, half an hour to an hour every day) and there’s a lot of people that eat lunches at their desk while working. So, flexible, but you’re still sort of pressured to stay later to get your work done if necessary.

    29. Stephanie*

      My job/department is incredibly flexible, but this is to accommodate for all the travel we do (some people travel up to 80%). I think we’re an exception at my company.

    30. Ali G*

      We have core hours between 9-5. I can flex my time anyway I need to, as long as 70% of my time during a pay period is within the core hours. It’s great! No one monitors it, unless I am not doing my work, or not showing up when I need to (which I would never do).

    31. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My team: They have to meet the HR guidelines – that is, a weekday work day of less than 7 hours requires a PTO request (which could be either actual PTO use or shifting the extra hours to another day in the pay week, including a weekend day, as they choose), the max workday allowed is 10 hours per day, and it’s preferred that you’re clocked in for 3 hours or more at a time if you’re doing more than 30 minute breaks between chunks. How strictly those are monitored depends on the manager – mine doesn’t generally care if someone works a six hour day today and a ten hour day tomorrow without the formal PTO shift so long as all the numbers work out in the end. But as long as they’re not still in training, they can work their hours whenever they want. We have lots who do early first shift (6-9 start time and 2-5 end time), but also a few who do second and third type shifts, and a handful who split, depending on their family schedules. (My team is all fully remote, which probably also contributes to the flexibility.) We prefer that people who are still in training try to keep the majority of their hours to some semblance of first shift, because that’s when management generally works so that’s when we’re available for feedback, training, immediate questions etc, but they do still have some flexibility. My current trainee tends to work 5-1, and that’s working out alright.

      Me personally: My boss prefers that my co-lead and I generally keep at least an approximation of a consistent schedule. I usually start between 6-7am and work til 3:30pm or so, my co-lead is more of a 10-6 type, so between the two of us we’re around all day. We’re both salaried (the team is hourly), so we have flex on things like “I need to take a long lunch to go take care of an appointment” and whatnot, so long as we give her a heads up. I had a week this summer when my teenage niece was visiting – I didn’t want to give up an entire week of PTO when she was going to sleep til noon every day, so for that week I worked 4am to noon and had my afternoons to hang out with her. So pretty flexible, especially if I can plan ahead for it and keep my boss in the loop.

      But it would be more inconvenient for my boss for *me* to randomly wake up one morning and decide I’m going to do 7-11am and then 6-10pm today, than it would be for one of our team members. Not out of the question, and if I asked her to she’d generally be fine with it as long as my meeting schedule allowed, but I’d be checking in to make sure she knew and didn’t have a problem with it, while our team members wouldn’t necessarily need to do.

    32. Fortitude Jones*

      My hours are very flexible because I’m salaried-exempt, so I usually come in close to 9am, take a half hour to an hour lunch break, and then leave around 5 or 5:30. I’m also in business development responding to proposals, so I sometimes work weekends (like this one coming up) or on holidays (last year I worked on July 4th in the morning) to make submission deadlines. As long as my work gets done, no one really seems to care when I come in or leave.

    33. ZYXWV*

      That’s a great question, because I don’t really even know. I’ve been in my department longer than most, and longer than my boss. Before she came on board, we were treated just like exempt employees who don’t necessarily have all of their schedules time-bound should be: be here approximately within x timeframe, keep your calendar up to date, and let the boss know if you will be out or working a wildly different schedule than usual. This was a blessing to me because I have executive functioning deficits that make being anywhere “on time” without a good reason really, really hard. But I more than did what I needed to do to get my job done and almost always worked over 40 hours. Now everyone who was hired under this boss comes in and leaves at really set times, and I don’t know if that’s because that’s just how they function, that’s what the boss has said she expects of them, etc. Plus every quarter she asks what my “schedule” will be. (huge surprise here: this boss also clearly avoids giving any corrective feedback and having conversations she doesn’t want to have)

    34. LaDeeDa*

      Because my company is global and because my team is based in North and South America– our schedules are all over the place! We are expected to work 8ish hours a day- and that for a good chunk of that 8 hours you’re available during regular business hours in your time zone.
      I have a lot of flexibility- I work from home, no one on my team is located in my same state– heck none are even in my same time zone. I also have calls with global teams that happen at odd times, so I adjust my schedule for those. For example, I have a weekly call at 5:00 AM and I continue working as soon as it is over at 6:00. Which means by 1:00 or 2:00 in the afternoon I am fried from getting up at 4:00 AM. On the other end of the spectrum I have a monthly call that happens at 11:00 PM my time, so the following day I usually won’t start work until 10:00 Am.
      As far as monitoring- none. I have never checked to see when my direct reports are logging into and out the network (we almost all work from home). If I noticed someone wasn’t online for a significant portion of the day on a regular basis, or they weren’t getting their work done, or they were unresponsive, or weren’t responding to requests in a timely matter I would ask them about it, and then if needed I would check.
      Most of us put in more than 40 hours a week, so if any of them want to not start on a Monday until noon, or knock off early one afternoon- I trust them. I trust my team, and as long as they produce quality work they can have total freedom.

    35. Nessun*

      Very flexible. I’m a manager, salaried, and required to account my time weekly in a tracking system. As long as I meet the required number of hours, no one cares too much *when* I do the work. I usually arrive at roughly the same time, to the point where a coworker might text me if I’m not in within an hour of that – but that would only be to check I’m ok. I leave when my work is “done” for the day (there’s always more to do…), and if I need to leave for an appointment during the day, I can do so. I can also work from home…if I remember to bring my laptop home with me the day before. I email to let my coworker know I won’t be in, but I’m not required to ask permission to WFH.

    36. Llellayena*

      Architecture: we log all our hours since it can all be billed to our clients and 40 hrs a week is standard (and usually minimum too). But exact schedule is somewhat flexible. Since we track, we’re fairly strict about vacation and PTO time though.

    37. Snazzy Hat*

      Mostly strict, and closely monitored. I can easily request off a couple of hours for an appointment, including mid-day, although certain days of the year my group can’t take off at all. My start time is always 8:30, and my end time is always 5:00. I can’t show up at 8:00 and expect to leave at 4:30 unless prior arrangements have been made for a one-off scenario. Similarly, if I’m late, I can’t stay late unless I speak to my manager and they approve my staying late.

    38. Gumby*

      Very. Not at all.

      We have to record *how many* hours we worked per day (because government contracts) but not *which* hours they were. In this month my latest start time was ~11:30 and earliest was ~7:45. There was also a 13-hour day in there because of a deadline.

    39. KP*

      My company has been flexible — we’re salaried — but that is changing in this sense: They want us in on time at set regular hours. (If we have finished a project/our work we can just take off for the day or rest of the week.) Management for decades was not a stickler on start times — but then, people have gotten ridiculous in recent years, frankly.

  7. BeanCat*

    I had my first performance review for this job and I think it went well! My big feedback was to communicate more with my placement company and if that’s the worst I get? I’m happy. High marks for initiative so I was pleased :) almost a year in and I still love my job. I don’t regret leaving my last field at all!

  8. unreasonable curiosity*

    How do you gently tell a friend they have unrealistic work expectations?

    I have a friend, Sue who I have known for 15+ years. We are both in our early 30s. We work in totally different fields, jobs and industries that will in no way, shape or form interact (ie I don’t know many specifics about her job). Sue is a hard worker but with a lot on her plate to balance between personal and professional life. Her children are school aged but at an age where they can’t be left alone after school. Sue was able to negotiate to work around her family’s schedule with the understanding she have emergency childcare backup should something come up that she needed to stay late. The company has a great work/ life balance, so “staying late” might be 1-3 hours in total once or twice a month for her position. Sue does some type of marketing coordinating.

    Sue called me yesterday to vent that she had to stay late and had to pay a fortune in last minute child care. While the financial aspect stung it did not hurt Sue’s personal financial budget. Apparently an assistant in a related but not related niche needed help with a basic task of alphabetizing some paperwork. The task sounds simple and may have been able to be put off to another day in most cases. However some big meetings were happening the next day where these documents would need to be available quickly so the assistant was trying to prepare for all scenarios. Sue had been voluntold to help out. Sue and the assistant don’t work together. Their jobs usually do not interact. However Sue and the assistant’s share a grand-boss. Sue and the assistant know each other only through the trickle down lines of hierarchy of a large corporation.

    Sue was furious that she had to stay late to “do someone else’s responsibility”. I tried to point out that this was a one-time thing and given how much flexibility the company gives her; it’s not that big of a deal. Everyone is on the same team and doing such a task will go far reputation wise in the company in the long run. She would not listen to reason. I respect her opinion. Again I do not know her industry; maybe I’m the one in the wrong. I just want to agree to disagree but she keeps egging me on to agree with her. I guess I’m just venting because I want to acknowledge that she had a rough day, but let’s move onto another topic of conversation.

    1. Former Expat*

      I also have a friend who works in a completely different industry to me whose expectations about work seem overly rigid to me… If she wants you to just agree with her is it so hard to just do that and let it go? Think of it as a white lie for the sake of friendship.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      Since you don’t know her industry, I would take her at her word. Ultimately, you aren’t going to solve her workplace problems, so she’s really just looking to you as someone she can vent to who will be understanding about it.

      I want to acknowledge that she had a rough day, but let’s move onto another topic of conversation.

      I think that’s totally reasonable. And I think it’s okay to agree with her based on what you know, with the caveat that you are not in her industry, so you’ll take her word for it.

      1. Mazzy*

        I like this approach. I was venting about a work thing just last night to a friend and her advice was not spot on at all. Her advice was along the lines of lowering my expectations to close to zero and be happy to have a job, but the reason I was upset in the first place was because most of the problems I was dealing with are completely avoidable with simple steps and there are coworkers who are supposed to be preventing them and when they don’t, they aren’t held accountable. So acting like I should just appreciate everything anyway doesn’t always help. You can take that kind of attitude too far and use it as an excuse to never fix any problems.

    3. Four lights*

      I’d let it go; I think she’s just venting. Yes, everyone’s got to stay late and pitch in sometimes. But I’d be pretty peeved if I had to do it to help someone with alphabetizing.

    4. Me*

      You don’t if you’d like to keep your friendship. This ranks right up there with telling a friend their boyfriend is horrible.

      Some people like to vent. If you want to listen and be supportive do so, but it’s not your job as a friend to manage her expectations.

    5. Marthooh*

      I understand your desire to tell Sue it doesn’t seem like that big a deal, but… any reasonable person will come to that conclusion eventually without having to be told. Let her vent! She’ll run out of steam and figure out for herself that it’s not worth the energy she’s expending on it.

    6. unreasonable curiosity*

      thanks to those who replied. Yes for the sake of friendship i am letting it go. Yes after rereading I am nitpicking at somethign that doesn’t concern me. I think Sue just wants to vent so I haven’t really given any specific responses. I’ve just agreed with her statements…. Gosh that’s horrible to have to pay so much in child care; wow how crazy to be voluntold to help out last minute… things like that. I’ve kept my conflicting opinions to myself. I guess I was just shocked as the industry I work in overtime is expected so I had a hard time relating to her venting about 90 minutes of overtime. She is a good friend and chose her field and this particular company due to work/ life balance. I guess it’s just a case of looking at something from another angle.

      1. Me*

        One more thing though – if it becomes draining on you to be her sounding board that’s totally ok. You can bow out.

        A friend complaining about “single parenting” while husband was away for the weekend and I being an for reals single parent…that was a nope for me. She was legitimately stressed and had every right to be, but I wasn’t the ear for the job. Sometimes you can’t be the supportive audience because of your own bias and world view. That’s ok. Better to say you’r not the best person, then to let frustration build and bubble over.

        1. unreasonable curiosity*

          Hi Me. Thanks for your thoughts. About the only thing we have in common job wise is we both work in an office environment. Sue has a great support team for her children including her husband, siblings and parents but of everyone, Sue is the one with the most flexible schedule hence childcare usually falls to her first. I don’t mind being a sounding board, that’s what friends are for. I think I was just in such shock that this is what she was venting about where it’s the norm for the industry I work in. Where I work this would not have even been an issue and no one would of thought of it as making a sacrifice. To me, and me only, it just sounds like extra time is needed to do a project, we’re all part of the team, let’s do it so we can get out of here. For Sue, her company has jobs very specifically defined so I am now learning, that this was out of the norm for her to be voluntold. Like I said in my original post I did try to point out it wasn’t a big deal, but since then I’ve just tried to be a friend. As many have pointed out the friendship is more important and honestly I was trying to comment on an industry I have no idea about.

      2. Dragoning*

        I was once venting to a friend about getting an email from upper management that my department had to “Stay late–possibly really late.” because I knew that meant until the am.

        My friend was sympathetic, but then when I was discussing OT and mentioned something that would kick in after 12:30, he paused and went “wait, am?”

        Turns out to him, he though “really late” was 8-9. To me, in my industry, at this company, that’s “regular late.”

        Anything less than two hours late is hardly worth remarking on.

      3. Jules the 3rd*

        There may also be some unconscious resentment of being ‘voluntold’ for work that has been traditionally gendered…

        1. unreasonable curiosity*

          I could see that. From what I gather Sue was in the wrong place at the wrong time when she was voluntold. She was coming back from getting a cup of coffee and she saw assistant and grandboss in the hallway having a priorities conversation for the meeting. I think grandboss just saw someone he knew and Sue was lucky enough to get voluntold.

          1. Ann O.*

            FWIW, I would also be infuriated if I were in Sue’s shoes. Unless Sue is a similar level of admin, it is pretty infuriating to be ordered to help with something so out of one’s normal job responsibilities at the last minute like that, especially if it results in scrambling for child care. That’s just a really different situation than knowing in advance that there’s a high-impact project that may require all hand’s on deck. Even if Sue were a similar level, it would still be hard, but at least there would be a rhyme and reason for why she was told to help.

            Also, I don’t know Sue’s specifics, but in my previous jobs, I would not be considered on the same team as people I’m only connected to at the grandboss level. My team is my manager and teammates.

            1. only acting normal*

              Also people working unusual schedules to juggle childcare or similar have to be extremely organised and disciplined with managing their workload. Being pulled into a crisis of someone else’s making would be particularly galling.

        2. Half-Caf Latte*

          Also, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that grandboss doesn’t know/remember the specifics of Sue’s schedule arrangements/childcare needs, and may have assumed that this would have been fine within the regular workday.

          We’ve seen it a lot here, where employee is really upset that manager reneged on X, when really, manager had just forgotten that they’d agreed to X and if they were reminded would have upheld their promise.

    7. Jersey's mom*

      My husband and I have an agreement. When one of us come home and goes on a blitzkrieg bitch about something at work, the other one gets to ask “are you looking for help for a solution, or venting and want emotional support”?

      That has saved us both many times from completely blowing up because we know what kind of support the other person needs.

    8. MoopySwarpet*

      It does seem like she was pulled into something that she had no real expectation to be doing and that is frustrating. I also get your annoyance about how flexible she has things and the ONE TIME that gets disrupted, she’s up in arms.

      We had an ex employee get all bent out of shape and I was like . . . I know you always take lunch from 11-1 (basically giving NO coverage for other lunches), but we have an all hands meeting at 11:30 tomorrow and you need to be there. It went from rage “You know I need that time!” to the silent treatment for 3 weeks. The worst part was that he was never authorized to take 2 hours, lunches just started getting longer and longer. Just like start time got later and going home time got earlier and WFH every other Friday turned into every Friday until it was really a part time job. (The work was still mostly getting done since a chunk of it really was work from home, but still . . . )

      All that to say . . . I hear you! Kids these days. Grumble, grumble. But, really, she’s just venting and when she cools down will likely know (and maybe even admit) how good she actually has it there.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      I have found it helpful when I am faced with a strong desire to argue the opposing opinion to ask myself, “what do I hope to accomplish here?”

      Well, let’s say you decided to argue your point because you are afraid she will lose her job. I could see me thinking along these lines. The problem here is that I would be assuming this is THE job for her. Maybe it’s not THE job for her. Maybe she needs to move on to something else and this story is the tip of that iceberg. I just don’t realize that.

      And this is a really odd tip but I have seen it work and I have had people use it on me and it worked. Sometimes just saying “AW, man, that sucks” gets you farther than all the logic in the world. For whatever reason that acknowledgement causes a big release in frustration. Frustration exits and logic steps in where there used to be frustration. Then you start hearing things like, “Well, maybe I should have said X or done Y to help myself with this situation.” And that statement is true also. So you can say,”Hey, sounds like you have a plan for next time.”

      One last helpful tool. When we try to use logic and the person just is not having it, the person may actually be thinking about something else even more pressing but just does not want to say what that is. I think I have told this story before. I had a boss light into me over a benign situation. The worst part of this story is this boss was (and still is) one of my favorite bosses. You can guess how this landed. I found out that he was not upset over Current Situation. He had problem in the past that was a BFD. I told him I was very sorry that happened to him. Then I reminded him that everyone is NOT like the people in his story. I suggested that he work on A, B and C. In return I would never mention anything about this Current Situation again. He agreed. This is a good example of a time where I really needed to be able to see through someone’s upset and I was able to see there was something else running in the background. (This does not happen often enough!) He later provided me with a TERRIFIC reference.

    10. Actual Oppo Researcher*

      My best friend and I have completely different jobs – industries, positions, years on the job, what have you. After some annoying “agreeing to disagree but you’re still wrong” type fighting, we came up with a rule. After hearing each other out, we ask “do you need to vent or do you need advice?” and we tailor our responses appropriately.

      I’m much more inclined to have FEELINGS about things — she’s very logical. I try to frame my advice, if/when I give it, in the form of questions for her to work out or help her solve. It works for us and may for you…

  9. Bernice*

    Etiquette question: I recently started at a new office and, along with being introduced to people around the office, was informed that a colleague will soon be returning from bereavement leave. Can you guys advise how I should behave in this situation? Is it something I acknowledged at all? It feels odd knowing something so personal about someone when they’ve never met me before.

    1. Clorinda*

      “Hi, I’m Bernice, I started here while you were away,” and let the other person guide the conversation from that point.

    2. Celaena Sardothien*

      Yeah, I wouldn’t bring it up because it’s going to look like your coworkers have been gossiping about her situation to you. Just introduce yourself as you normally would and go from there.

    3. librarian-adjacent*

      I think if you’re brought around to meet them, you can feel safe with a “Its great to finally meet you.” Acknowledge that the meeting is delayed without saying “well gosh i hope you had fun at that funeral!!”. They’re probably going to be about as awkward as you are, and will also likely want to get back into “work mode” and not linger on their absence.

    4. Lupin Lady*

      I wouldn’t even mention ‘while you were away’. Just introduce yourself and don’t mention anything – take your cues from your colleagues of course but remember that you don’t have the same personal relationship with this person, so not the same standing to ask “how are you holding up” etc.

      1. An Amazing Detective-Slash-Genius*

        You could also frame your introduction with “I don’t believe we’ve met yet” because that’s true regardless of where they were the past days. They could have even been in the office and just really busy, if your office is big enough where that could be a possibility.

    5. Corky's Wife Bonnie*

      Someone will probably introduce you, so just act like you did with everyone else on your first day.

    6. Adam V*

      I’m trying to think of a way to work in “I’m sorry for your loss” into the initial conversation, but it’s not the easiest thing. If you think it’s necessary to acknowledge it, that’s probably all you’d need to say and then move back to work-related conversation.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I don’t think there is a rule that condolences HAVE to be in the first conversation, either. It’s good to have an awareness of the loss but not mandatory to say something. Sometimes it’s just useful information, for example if the person seems rattled, you give them a moment to collect their thoughts because you know the background story. Some grieving people will notice the quiet gesture and silently be grateful to you.

        Unless it comes up naturally, I would not worry too much about it. It could be that next week or next month the loss is mentioned, you can offer condolences then.

    7. WellRed*

      We had someone new start while I was on bereavement leave. I had no expectation this person would offer condolences of any sort. The longtime coworker who didn’t acknowledge even in a one line email on the other hand, well, that’s not a good impression I still have of her three years later.

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        I had a few people start while I was away last year for my father’s death.
        The guy who had started a few days before I left did offer condolences and we talked for a bit about it. It was appreciated.
        There were a few people that I had known for a while but didn’t say condolences or anything–to me that stuck out and it stung. After a while, I just chalked it up to them being the way they are.

    8. Ladylike*

      Don’t acknowledge it and follow the colleague’s lead. If he/she mentions the death, express sympathy briefly and compassionately, and move on. If you don’t know the person, it’s going to seem weird for you to go out of your way to offer condolences.

    9. Mandy Fard*

      I would just leave the ball in her court, once she returns. If she wants to share it with me first, that will make things a lot easier. If not, I will still assess the situation. If I feel it’s ok, I will express my sympathy to her in a highly respectful way, without getting emotional about it.

  10. Rosie The Rager*

    How to be a workplace anthropologist?

    Alison has advised some letter writers to treat unusual working environments as opportunities to observe behavior and become anthropologists, of sorts. I am attempting to implement this as I move forward working for a tiny PR firm with an eccentric and distracted owner.

    To date, I have found myself biting my tongue as she claims “transgender isn’t real and is just a trend” and “I think #MeToo is over, don’t you.” She has also complained about not finding qualified candidate for an admin position, but she then talks about interviewing bartenders, warehouse workers, and McDonald’s drive-thru staff. I’ve managed to nod my head and/or claim ignorance on the matter, or just change the subject.

    If any AAM commenters have experience with such a practice and have practical suggestions for keeping the oddities in perspective and becoming a keen watcher, please let me know. I would appreciate the assistance.

    1. Celaena Sardothien*

      This may not help you from the anthropology standpoint, but I wonder if you could go for polite disagreement/statements of the obvious and see if that improves her behavior. Some examples:

      Her: “Transgender isn’t real, it’s just a trend.”
      You: “Oh, I don’t know. Did you know that science now suggests that a person’s brain matches their desired gender instead of their biological gender? You can’t really fake that.” (You can leave this one alone if you want since it’s bound to be controversial)

      Her: “I think MeToo is over, don’t you?”
      You: “I don’t know, I’m sure there are still plenty of women out there that need to be heard.”

      Her: “I can’t find anyone qualified for this position!”
      You: “I wonder if we should post a job opening and only interview people who have some of the qualities we’re looking for?”

      That last one is the ultimate Captain Obvious, but it doesn’t sound like your boss is doing that. Say all of these with a polite, slightly cheerful tone and you’ll catch her off guard. This might be an interesting experiment after all. Do report back.

      1. Jasnah*

        I would worry that this would engage her on the topic, when what you want is to shut her down. “That’s one way of looking at it.” “I don’t agree, so let’s not discuss it.”

    2. scooby snack*

      Hm, in this case I think you could actually speak up and contribute to company “culture” — especially since the things she says border on illegal discrimination. I think the advice to be an anthropologist usually refers to situations that are annoying but harmless, not actively damaging.

      1. Susie Q*

        If this is in the US, there are no federal laws about discrimination against LGBT and not every state has laws either.

        1. Jules the 3rd*

          In 2012, the EEOC said that Title VII covers LGBTQx employment discrimination under the definition of ‘gender’. Supremes haven’t yet given a consistent take. So, depending on context (eg, ‘I wouldn’t hire someone who is transgender because it isn’t real’ vs ‘that TV show with a character who is transgender yada yada’), they could be getting close to legal issues.

          And of course, several states have additional protections. Insufficient, but growing.

          I would find it very hard to anthropologize such statements. I think Alison’s recommendation to do so is more about harmless quirks, like purple hair or a fuzzy hat.

    3. INeedANap*

      I’m a big fan of a neutral-sounding, “Oh, I don’t agree.” followed by a subject change to give a conversational out. Sometimes people will get the hint and let me change the subject; other times people will ask why. If I think a civil conversation is possible with said person, I’ll explain a little. If I don’t think it’s possible, I’ll just smile and say something like, “Well, it’s not a great debate to get into at work. I could always email you some stuff to read over out of work if you were interested.” No one has ever taken me up on that offer lol.

      There are probably better ways to handle it, but I feel a moral/ethical need to establish disagreement on things like “transgender isn’t real” or comments of that type, even at work.

      1. Emily*

        I like this approach (or something similar to the scripts Celaena Sardothien gave above). Not actually getting deep into the debate (which is probably neither fun nor work-appropriate), but politely noting your own disagreement so that they don’t assume you hold the same views as you.

      2. As Close As Breakfast*

        I’m also a big fan of using “That’s an interesting perspective.” It’s basically neutral, but is really good when you don’t want to agree but don’t want to disagree either. My boss has a lot of strong opinions that they are quite vocal about that I have the exact opposite opinion. My boss will also turn it into ‘a thing’ if I even politely disagree and a lot of the time I just don’t want to be bothered by getting into it with them. So, I have found that “That’s an interesting perspective” works great because many people will sort of ‘hear’ it as agreement or approval or that at the very least, you are considering what they have said. Of course, what I really mean is “That’s an interesting perspective that isn’t at all based in any sort of reality that I have ever encountered… you nincompoop.”

    4. Sammie*

      I think there’s a line between staying out of drama and staying quiet in the face of bigotry. This line may look a little different for different people, depending on their circumstances, and if it’s the owner of a small firm it’s understandable that you may feel you are risking your job by saying anything when she makes transphobic comments among other things. I guess I just wanted to offer the perspective that this is certainly not okay behaviour on the part of your boss. It goes beyond eccentric. You know her best – you may feel there’s a polite and not so risky way to correct her, to educate her. But, if not, I hope that you find a better working environment because this is really bad.

      Please also be aware that by not disagreeing with her, people like that have a tendency to assume that you agree – because in their own minds they are most certainly right and so you MUST think this way too. I say this only because years ago I got quite the nasty shock when someone said something horrible in my presence and they were very surprised when I didn’t feel the same way as them – because I’d never explicitly said so before. Sometimes I really really want to stay quiet but that memory makes me speak up whenever I possibly can.

    5. LKW*

      I think the only thing you can do is treat her as if she’s got an actual moral center:
      Her: I think metoo is over
      You: Well you’re the kind of boss that doesn’t allow people to get away with harming a co-worker. That’s just who you are. If someone on your staff were threatened or otherwise harmed by another staff member, you’d deal with it directly because you’re the kind of owner who doesn’t allow people to mistreat others.

      Her: I think trans is a trend
      You: Well, the human brain is a weird and wonderful place. Luckily you’re a kind and understanding person so you’d accept someone who felt misgendered and would not allow any other staff or clients to behave poorly.

      Her: I can’t find a qualified person
      You: Well you’ve been looking to help someone reach the next level, you need to figure out if you want someone who you want to coach and train or if you want someone to hit the ground running. If it’s the latter, you may want to work with some staffing agencies.

      Just approach it as “but of course you’re a great person so you would never treat people poorly” but this approach completely compromises any anthropological standards.

      1. Lissa*

        I agree with this I think. It shouldn’t be about trying to convince her of her wrongness, that’s unlikely to work, but making it about behaviour is IMO more important, if you want to say anything. Make it about things that are hard to argue – if you start bringing in scientific studies it just invites her to find opposing ones, but talking just about treating people well is much harder to say “no actually I like treating people crappy!”

    6. Anthrop*

      I am an actual anthropologist. We do participant observation, which means that we are engaged in the activities and conversations of the people we are working with. We don’t lurk and dispassionately keep notes on others as though we exist separate from them. That is something else entirely. We are often engaged in research specifically to address issues in the community, if they would like us to.

      In the case you describe, to remain neutral would not really be acceptable, anyway. For instance, I have several non-binary/queer/tran gender colleagues and students. It would be a serious dereliction of duty for me to not respond if someone said something derogatory and frankly harmful about those people, even if they are not around. We can ask people questions about why they think the things they do, and try to draw them out and see if there is a discussion to be had. We also can bluntly state that we disagree with that and change the subject. These comments don’t exist in a world apart from the violence transgender people suffer, and so it’s important to push back when possible.

    7. Marthooh*

      Alison’s advice about pretending to be an anthropologist, as I remember it, is a way to distance yourself from a toxic work environment, not to treat it as an opportunity. And she usually follows up by saying “…until you have another job lined up.”

    8. The Other One*

      If you already know, that you can’t / won’t engage your Boss in any way, and you only want to find a way not to take things personally, it helps me to use an even more removed metaphor:
      I imagine that I’m a super-advanced alien scientist, who studies humans the way humans study ants. No human would get angry about an ant that harbors weird opinions or does odd things (or insults the scientist). So as an alien I would tell myself: Hm, apparently some of these humans hold opinions that are clearly at odds with reality and do things that are contraproductive to their goals; how interesting. And then I could continue to study how this particular “ant” interacts with their environment and with other “ants”.
      Usually I use this technique in situations where I feel judged or attacked personally (when I remember doing so in the heat of the moment). It helps me to mentally step back and remind myself that one person’s uninformed opinion of me is not really relevant in the grand scheme of things. Your mileage may vary on wether that works for your situation.

      1. Rosie The Rager*

        The Other One, I really like this advice.

        Given that I need to keep this job for a bit and have no co-workers to serve as buffers between the boss and me, the observant alien angle is what I plan to use, at least in the short term.

        I also completely agree with your assessment that “one person’s uninformed opinion of me is not really relevant in the grand scheme of things.” I find it’s a much healthier way to view the world, and I thank you for including it in your comment.

        Thanks again, The Other One!

  11. BRR*

    What tips do people have for retraining yourself on professionalism after a toxic job? (There’s a previous AAM article on professionalism that I think does an excellent job on defining professionalism).

    For the past couple of years I’ve been trapped in an awful job. The stress, dysfunction, and long commute have lowered my level of professionalism. Specifically I feel like my impulse control for blurting things out and babbling on and on is awful but overall I think that I’ve adapted to this office culture more than I would have liked. I also have ADHD which doesn’t help things (it is being managed by a doctor).

    I have an interview next week and know that overall I will need to up my level of professionalism in any future job to succeed but am worried specifically that I’m out of practice for this interivew. What has helped you or what suggestions to have you? Thanks in advance!

    1. Lupin Lady*

      I’m in the same boat. I find myself noting “ok, that would not fly anywhere else” after I say or do something less than professional, and I feel like that’s a good first step.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Therapy, for starters. Getting very specific with it.

      But some more immediate fixes… for me, “professional” has a lot to do with the way I dress and carry myself. It’s like putting on a costume. So if I wanted to up my professionalism, I would start with wearing more business-y clothes, better accessories, things like that. A very simple fix.

      In other ways, I try to be organized, or at least appear to be organized. Apparently, I am still very much a theater kid and the performance is crucial. But when I treat it that way, like I’m playing a role and the role is “ALB Business Lady,” it focuses my attention and energy on making that persona work. If you’re anything like that, maybe give it a try?

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      The fact you know you need to retrain yourself is critical!

      I go from trucker-talk to “How may I assist you?” on a dime. Literally years ago I was sitting at my desk cursing about God knows what to a trucker signing his paperwork to perfect professional to take a call from a customer. The driver looked at me after I hung up and said “how do you do that? It’s like a switch flipped!” and we giggled together.

      Wear your best power suit and be mindful of your interactions. Be a little overly professional at first and warm up to the environment.

      I didn’t need therapy or medical intervention. I always knew I wasn’t acting professional and knew my audience.

      Granted I’m great at blending in. I’ll roll on the floor with puppies and kids, then go negotiate pricing with a rigid vendor rep and then go tell a delivery driver to back the Ef outta my gate until I buzz them in.

    4. clunker*

      You might find it helpful to look into finding a coach who works with ADHD adults on keeping your life organized, time-wise, space-wise, and information-wise. (Caveat: probably don’t do any non-adhd specialist coach for this. IME all non-ADHD specific advice for this type of stuff tends to be useless at best, actively harmful at worst.)

      That can be (sadly) really expensive but I’ve also heard of group coaching for this which is a little like a much more guided support group atmosphere, I think. The group coaching tends to be much more affordable.

      Outside of that, practicing thought-reactions sometimes can help. Having a dispassionate thought like “that would not be a great thing to say in a different job” after you blurt something out. The key is to try to keep it dispassionate- if you start feeling hurt and feeling bad for the mistakes, I think that’s likely to be more counter-productive than helpful. If you can’t remain dispassionate on these sort of things, I do highly recommend working with a therapist to try to develop that sort of emotional regulation skill.

      I also find that if I’m getting enough sleep, eating regularly, (obvs taking my meds regularly too), and managing to remain calm and less anxious, my adhd symptoms are much less bad. I also find that skipping meals hurts a lot more than eating “junk” food or whatever– regularity of eating seems to be the most important thing on that. So my ability to remain organized and not blurt stuff out and not bounce my leg- those are all better when I’m eating and sleeping regularly.

    5. LaDeeDa*

      OH I totally get this. I didn’t get a “dream job” that I was recommended for from a former colleague because I was in such a toxic environment, and on my way to the interview I got a call that sent me spiraling. When I got into the interview I wasn’t in the right space, I was pissed off, I was worried, I was consumed…. the feedback my former colleague got was that I was “negative” I was horrified, that has never been feedback given ever to me! I still kick myself that I messed up that interview!
      My best advice is you schedule the interview first thing on a Monday when you have had the weekend to disconnect, and that you give yourself some time and space to realize their “sh!t” is not yours. Go into the interview without comparing them to the current. Don’t let the current messed up, toxic environment define you.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Read Alison’s interviewing advice so her voice will be the freshest in your mind, not the voices of your cohorts.
      Read some comment sections on interviewing, notice how hard people try to present well and the things they think of.
      Take some common interview questions and practice your answers out loud. Get reacquainted with your professional voice again.

  12. Friday*

    I learnt this week that there are people who seriously hate the phrase “happy Friday”…

    …is this a common thing? What is the reason for this?

    1. rocklobsterbot*

      Some people hate everything, some don’t like the idea that work weeks are wasted time to be endured, and some people have stressful weekends. I don’t think it’s common, it seems pretty innocuous as small talk goes, but I can see how it might be grating to some.

    2. Snark*

      I don’t think “seriously hating” it is common or worth planning around, but I can see how it could come off a little superficial – it’s kind of like the “someone’s got a case of the mondays!” lady from Office Space, or “well, at least it’s Hump Day, amirite” or something like that. It’s kind of an office cliche, and while it doesn’t bother me at all, there’s probably more genuine things to say? Maybe?

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I don’t care about “Happy [weekday]” on any day of the week, but man, hearing about “Hump Day” (especially at work) just sets my teeth on edge. :P

    3. TooTiredToThink*

      I’m not a big fan of it (or being happy that its “almost the weekend” at work because I feel like it encourages dis-satisfaction with your here and now. I don’t want to live for the weekend. I want to live for *today*. But I don’t hate it; I’m just not proactive about saying it unless its been a super stressful week.

    4. ToodieCat*

      I “happy weekday” people all week long: sarcastically on Mondays, genuinely on Fridays. Yikes.

      1. Blue*

        Uh, same. I mostly use it for filler to soften my language, like: “Dear Person, Happy Friday! I wanted to check in on…”

        1. WellRed*

          I wouldn’t mind so much in an email, but if you say it to me it’s gonna drive me nuts. Or even just every week.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            I think the repetition is a huge part of the problem. OP, if you said Happy Friday once this month you are set for the next couple months at least. But I would say this about an repeated phrase.

      2. Autumnheart*

        I don’t think it’s any more inherently irritating than “Good morning/afternoon” or “Nice weather we’re having!” or “How’s it going?”

        On the one hand, I get it. I have a friend who says “How are you?” every. single. time. as his conversation opener, and the monotony of it is just irritating. Vary it up a little! But on the other hand, I’m also annoyed by people who think that they shouldn’t be required to have social skills. Nobody ever died because they had to make literally 3 seconds of small talk.

        1. Chip*

          “I’m also annoyed by people who think that they shouldn’t be required to have social skills. Nobody ever died because they had to make literally 3 seconds of small talk.”

          It may be just three seconds of small talk to you, but it’s three seconds of TORTURE to me.

          I have Asperger’s Syndrome, and I would LOVE to have “normal” social skills, but it’s not possible. I try to do my best but it’s not easy.

    5. wait wait don't freeze me*

      Earlier today I had a visceral reaction to someone on a call using a very common phrase, and just reading “happy Friday” I had another one. It’s not the phrase, it’s that it reminds me of someone who uses it. It’s Bitch Eating Crackers territory for me, possibly for others as well. There’s nothing wrong with the phrase or using it, it just reminds me of That One Guy.

      1. CheeryO*

        Yep, my That Guy is a woman who is on her phone for literally 90 percent of the work day, and she is constantly pulling the “Ugh, Monday”/”Yay, hump day!”/”HOORAY, FRIDAY!” stuff. Like, I’m sorry that you… had to wake up today? It’s totally BEC territory.

      2. Artemesia*

        There is just something unpleasant about the attitude I am enduring big parts of my life and can hardly wait till they are over. Happy Friday has the undertone of ‘I hate work, whine’ which is both unpleasant and marks the whiner as a time server. Or it can just be small talk.

      3. Snazzy Hat*

        I work near someone who on a near-daily basis says something like, “is it time to go home yet?” within the first half-hour. I absolutely love my job, and I’m thrilled to be working for such a kickass company, so it genuinely pisses me off when they say it. It also makes me wonder (and consider asking out loud) why they even came to work that day.

        If I had more confidence, I’d ask them point blank if they truly felt the job was right for them.

    6. Lost*

      I think the only time “Happy Friday” ever irritated me was when someone’s said it to me when I was very stressed out about work or bad things were going on at work and I was expected to respond happily when I was not happy at all. (It wasn’t bad if someone just shouted it to the room in general as they were passing our cubicles, but if they came to my cubicle for something and started their request with a cheerful “Happy Friday!” then I’m more obligated to respond to it in some way.)

    7. Need a Beach*

      A colleague once told me that she hates that saying because people who hold the philosophy of being eager for the weekend are wishing the majority of their lives away. (By the math that Mon-Fri is a much larger part of the week than is Sat-Sun.) She said it’s “sad” to do that.

      Shrug. It’s all relative, IMO.

    8. Person from the Resume*

      It’s just a weirdly awkward phrase to me. Is “Happy Xday” a new thing? I don’t recall it being a common phrase until recently.

    9. Cakezilla*

      I hated it when I worked 6 days a week and Saturdays were the the most work-intense days I had. Friday was not fun for me when I knew I had to get up extra early and work extra hard the next day.

      It doesn’t bother me any more because I have traditional office hours and look forward to my weekends! But I do still try to be somewhat mindful of not immediately defaulting to “happy Friday” or “at least it’s the weekend soon” when I’m talking to people who don’t work traditional M-F hours, because I remember how it bothered me.

      1. Nessun*

        Right there with you! I used to work in retail and my ONE day off was Tuesday – anyone who asked if I was glad it was the weekend got the dirtiest look I could muster (and I’ve got Resting B Face). Now that I’m 8-4 M-F, I can understand the sentiment, but in deference to my friends who still work weekends, I would never say Happy Friday to anyone whose schedule/weekend plans I wasn’t 100% on, because it could be wildly inaccurate and triggering for them.

      2. Chip*

        I’m going back to 1981 with this, but I used to work Saturdays as a typist. I’d listen to talk radio while I worked, and I remember the station would play a jingle that went something to the effect of, “The weekend’s here, hip hip hooray! No work now, it’s time to play!”

        Not for me, it wasn’t.

    10. No Tribble At All*

      I hated it when I worked shift and Friday was a Monday for me. Yes, sure, enjoy your weekend, office dwellers, I’ll be here all Saturday and Sunday…

      1. dawbs*

        Yup. I heard it today.
        I suppose it’s appropriate bbecause today is my day off, but in spite of my professional level, I work all weekend.
        It’s very “white collar 9-5 normative”

    11. TGIF*

      I say this all the time in my office and was recently getting push-back from people in a particular department that is under-staffed and over-worked. This I understand because they’ve had to work weekends the past couple months and some haven’t had a full weekend off in a long time, so I’ve been trying to cut down on saying it to them. But an overall hatred of the phrase, for those who actually have Monday to Friday jobs, seems odd to me.

    12. Forkeater*

      My boss says this every friggin Friday and I can’t stand it. I think because it’s so predictable. Can’t he think of anything else to say to me? I might be in BEC mode with him though.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        So much is in repetition…. I liked the grandboss saying ‘have a sparking day” the first 500 times I heard it…

        1. Chip*

          It can be tough sometimes. I know I had a hard time refraining from going “see you next year” or variants thereof during the week before New Year’s, but I realized that I, the one who wanted to say it, wasn’t finding it funny anymore.

          The one exception was a couple of weeks ago, when I saw my eye doctor. He said I should schedule my next appointment for sometime next year. When I left, I said “see you next decade.” He didn’t get it until I pointed out that next year will be 2020. (Unfortunately, I didn’t think of it at the time – I just became aware of it now, as I’m writing this – but I missed out on a great opportunity to quip that next year should be “his” year – 2020, as in 20/20 vision. Maybe when I see him next year– er, I mean, next decade…)

    13. *shrug**

      I don’t have an opinion one way or the other but I picked it up from Old Boss who wanted me to “sound softer” in emails. I used it because she did too.

    14. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      My “OMG STAWP IT” phrase isn’t Happy Friday, it’s “is it Friday yet?!”

      As someone mentioned above I too don’t like the idea of living for the weekends, I live for today. I also like my job and work in general, so it chaffs.

      I’m also a daughter of a cancer survivor. I spent every day for a year freaking out it was the last one. I don’t ever wish time away any more, I wish situations away if I’m having a bad day, sure I want to go home and wrestle with my cat instead of being yelled at by a mad client or whatever.

      It’s not something you need to be ultra aware of but in general mix it up and you’ll be all good. If you’re excited today is Friday because tonight is your favorite tv show or date night or you’re adopting goldfish after work, I dig it. But if every frigging Friday it’s “TGIF, immirite? Another week donezo!” I’ll bristle.

    15. Nervous Accountant*

      I feel like it’s on the same level as those who hate “good mornings/how are yous” etc.

      The world is a colorful place.

    16. Teapot librarian*

      I know someone who very cheerily says “happy Monday” and “happy Tuesday” and it drives me bonkers. “Happy Friday,” on the other hand, I understand perfectly!

    17. esqueer*

      I mean when I worked retail and Fridays/Weekends didn’t mean a break for me I did find that a little insensitive to hear from obvious 9-5 weekday workers.

      1. Deb Morgan*

        Customers saying, “Happy Friday!” to me while I was clearly working on the sales floor, late at night on a Friday, always felt so… weird to me. My guy, I get off work in four hours, and then I’m back here tomorrow morning to open. My Fridays are not particularly happy.
        My next job was a 9-5 M-F office job, so it made more sense for people to say “Happy Friday!” to me in that context.

      2. rear mech*

        yeah, I have a hard time not rolling my eyes when folks say “have a great weekend!” Dude, we make 80% of our sales Sat-Sun, and I’ll be working my 2 longest and busiest shifts of the week. I go home in pain Saturday evening and open Sunday morning

    18. qwerty*

      weird thing to hate, i guess. I don’t love it or anything, and in some context it can be annoying in the same way I can sometimes find work/life balance lectures annoying, but it’s not personally harming me. some people just like to get up in arms about everything.

    19. Lissa*

      Meh…if I avoid every phrase people hate, especially if I include people online, I’d never talk. Which I’m sure would suit some people just fine! But then never talking would also probably get me some hate, so I’ll just try not to repeat myself too often. Seriously though, there are phrases that annoy me but I realize it’s my issue and try not to take it out on the people who say them. I have an irrational distaste for the phrase “little one” to describe children for instance, but it doesn’t make me think less of people who do it. I just have an internal cringe.

    20. EmployeeHotlineBling*

      I got an email today wishing me a “happy Fri-yay” and nearly fell out of my seat laughing.
      I have heard colleagues call Thursday “Friday Junior” or “Friday Eve” and both make me cackle.

      I am a person who VERY MUCH enjoys the “happy weekday” salutation, ESPECIALLY if a weird joke is tossed in there. Everyone please keep doing this.

      1. Autumnheart*

        How about S.H.I.T.! (So Happy It’s Thursday)

        I didn’t come up with that one, but I’ve gotten some laughs with it.

        1. Snazzy Hat*

          I had a counselor who I was seeing on a weekly basis, and after a particular session she said, “See you next Tuesday!” After a short pause, she added, “Oh my god, I swear I didn’t mean it like that! Woah!”

    21. Friday in DC*

      Along similar lines, I have a few coworkers who really hate “happy Friday-eve” (said on Thursday)

    22. clunker*

      It’s one thing to say it to another office worker on a Mon-Fri schedule, but just…. don’t say it to a cashier or service worker literally anywhere you don’t personally work at. The weekends tend to be the most stressful times for them, and a lot of them *will* think “god I hate you” if you say it.

    23. Gatomon*

      Never gotten pushback on the phrase myself, but I can see how it could get annoying. At ExJob, it was ingrained in the culture, mostly because DreadBoss usually worked from home on Fridays.

      I do try to only save it for good news, like letting someone know a problem has been resolved and it happens to also be Friday!

    24. CastIrony*

      Because they’ll be working this weekend/a weekend day (typical for me), and the person saying, “Happy Friday” typically works Monday-Friday. For me, I feel a tiny bit jealous but genuinely happy for the other person because it’s the end of their work week, and I know how that feels like.

      I also know other people that also say, “Today’s my Friday!” because they may work days like Sunday-Thursday or Tuesday-Saturday. I, too, am happy for people when it’s their Friday!

      Happy Friday!

    25. Gibby*

      We had a receptionist who answered the phone Happy *Weekday*! I work in collections and had a customer who we were suing call me, when he got to me, he says “what’s so effen happy about Tuesday?!”
      She was told to stop the next day.

    26. kc89*

      it’s really obnoxious when friday isn’t your “friday” and you are working over the weekend

      there’s a lotttt of people who work weekends, and I’m sure a lot of them hate hearing “happy friday”

  13. Shark Whisperer*

    When do I start applying for other jobs?

    I am a federal contractor and my agency is shutdown. I love my job. I love my team. I believe strongly in the work I am doing. My office is walking distance from my house. There are downsides too, but overall, I am happy here.

    My contracting company can only pay us for so long as they are not getting paid. We have a meeting today, but it is very likely we will go on unpaid leave staring February 1st and then be laid off at the end of February or beginning of March. It feels like this shutdown is going to go on for a long time.

    Part of me thinks that I should start applying for other jobs now, but its so hard. It hard for me to get excited about another job, when I already have the job I want. I can’t even imagine going to an interview and being asked “why do you want this job?” because the answer is I don’t but the job I really want isn’t sustainable. I also would feel a little guilty leaving. My team is already going to be drowning in work when the government reopens and I know others have started to look for others jobs. It just sucks.

    Any advice or kind words would be much appreciated.

    1. Kate*

      Remember that the hiring process can take a long time, and you can always decline a job. Applying for something new doesn’t mean that you have to leave, if things change.

    2. Coffee Bean*

      I wish I had advice, but I don’t. I am just so sorry for how this is effecting you and your family.

      Best of luck.

      1. Batshua*

        This. Nobody knows how long the shutdown will last. You still have bills to pay, so start applying now.

    3. TooTiredToThink*

      What they’ve said so far. Remember to apply for unemployment and then most likely you’ll have to apply for jobs because of it. But you never know; you might find something that you do like better. But just do what you can.

    4. IL JimP*

      I guess it depends on how long you can wait it out. It really sucks that you’re not getting paid and may eventually lose your job.

      If you can wait to see if the shutdown ends in the next few weeks then wait, I don’t know if going into interviews not in a good headspace is the best option either

    5. wait wait don't freeze me*

      Start now and start seriously.

      You can love your job but this will not be the last shutdown. They aren’t funding the government for years at a time, it’s weeks or months. Federal workers will get backpay, contractors aren’t guaranteed. It comes down to: you need a job that will pay you. And federal contracting is not guaranteed to be it.

      It sucks. It absolutely sucks. But that’s the world we live in. I’m an employee with a funded agency and I’m starting to be worried about how long we have funding for.

      I think if you get the question in the interview, you can say straight out “I’m a federal contractor” and everyone will understand.

    6. Not All*

      Well, I was just reading that they had to shut down LaGuardia because of a lack of air traffic controllers, so I’m guessing they’ll pass the funding pretty quickly. You could start the process to be doing something just in case.

      I wouldn’t be at all surprised if we have another shutdown next year, though they don’t usually do them election years. I know a lot of people who are making the decision that the stress isn’t worth it for them, but that’s something that only you can decide. (I’m less than 15 years away from my federal retirement eligibility so I’m stuck myself.)

    7. Me*

      Now! Sending in an application is no guarantee you will get an interview. If you get an interview no guarantee you’ll be hired. And if you get to the offer part – then that’s when you have to make a decision.

      If nothing else, it will make you feel like you have some control in an overall situation that is out of your control.

      Good luck!

    8. schnauzerfan*

      We’ve received several apps recently from furloughed workers for our current opening. So, it’s apparently not too soon. From the other side, if I hire one of these folks how can I be sure they’re not planning on going back once the shutdown ends? So far none of the applicants have been a great fit, but I’m sure that if this drags on much longer…

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        From the other side, if I hire one of these folks how can I be sure they’re not planning on going back once the shutdown ends?

        You can’t, just like you can’t be sure that your next applicant from the private sector won’t accept your job offer and then leave if they get a better offer somewhere else. The most you can do is ask the question during the interview question, ask follow-ups if you’re still not fully convinced, and if the furloughed employee turns out to be your best candidate, well, hire them and hope your work environment is such that they won’t want to leave for anything else. That’s all you can really do.

    9. Overeducated*

      I’m hoping the air traffic controller issue will end this quickly, but it can’t hurt to see what’s out there. I did, there are no good fit positions to apply for right now so my calculus is to wait, but you can’t know what makes sense if you don’t explore alternatives. I’m so sorry you’re in this position.

    10. Master Bean Counter*

      Temping? Retail? Any kind of thing that doesn’t expect a long commitment that will pay the bills? And when you go back to regular work something might give you a few hours a week to build the savings up to weather future storms or vacations?

    11. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Dip your toes in. See what’s out there. You don’t need to scurry immediately it sounds like. You’ll have time to grieve your loss of your ideal job, don’t let it drag you down so far you’re in a bad situation if layoffs do start.

      It’s crushing. Most layoffs are in the end but you will rise above and maybe your next team is just as wonderful. You don’t know that until you let yourself move on from the ghost of a team you love now.

    12. caligirl*

      Hi there,
      Contractor here too but not personally furloughed… but about half of my company is.

      Is there any “surge” support that you can do for an overworked division? To do those things that always get pushed to the back burner such as updating the internal websites? Maybe fill in for someone who is on leave or needs to take an afternoon off? In my office, our program manager wants the office manned until 4 pm and sometimes the person literally just sits there until 4!

      I’m sooo sorry you are dealing with this and I hope we are back to ‘”normal” work on Monday!

    13. Ladylike*

      I’m sorry you’re going through this. As a general rule, I would begin looking for a job the moment I found out mine was at risk. My company is currently closing a plant and initially gave them a 6-month deadline. Within a month, that changed to 3 months. Now people are scrambling, which I really don’t understand, because job searching takes time! Always start ASAP.

    14. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Does this afternoon’s 3-week restart make you feel relief? Maybe you can treat your reaction like flipping a coin–if you like the results, run with it.

  14. Lost*

    If I’m hired for a job but keep job hunting, how soon can I put the new job on my resume?

    For context, I’ve been unemployed for over a year and am interviewing for a job next week. I don’t think it’s meant to be a high turnover job, but it’s low paying so it’s not financially feasible for me to stay long term as I already exhausted most of my savings.

    I’d hope being employed would make me a desirable candidate again, but could it also be off-putting because companies will wonder why I’m looking to jump ship so soon? Or would they be able to tell I took the job because I needed ANY job after being unemployed for so long?

    I’m also worried about other things. What if they ask at the interview how long I plan to stay? (I’m technically very “overqualified” for the job so they might be suspicious.) What if I’m hired and then need to take time off for interviews early on? (I already have two doctor appointments scheduled for February, so they might get mad at any additional appointments.)

    1. plant lady*

      I would NOT interview for and accept a job that you really don’t want and are planning to leave ASAP, especially if it’s not one planning for/expecting high turnover (e.g., maybe if it was super part-time, minimum wage work stocking shelves or retail or food service or something, you could do this.) If you financially have to take ANY job ASAP, then just commit yourself to staying for at least 3-6 months, then re-start the job search then. And still, in that case I’d aim to look for something where they expect higher turnover rates, or a seasonal or temp position.

      1. INeedANap*

        I think that there are many people who do not have the luxury of this. Super part time and minimum wage work is not enough to live on. That’s just not practical if you have an offer from a job that will pay you more. And if OP gets, and takes, that offer, no one should pass up the opportunity for well-paid stable work just because they haven’t been at their current job for 3-6 months.

        1. Lost*

          Yes, staying in low paying jobs can be a luxury. I spent a year trying to find a job I could stay in long-term, and that didn’t work out. I started applying to part time and minimum-wage-high-turnover jobs a few months ago, but haven’t had any luck with them either. I need whatever job I can get, and if it’s a very low paying one then I’m just going to start racking up credit card bills the longer I stay.

        2. Fortitude Jones*

          I kind of have to agree with this even though I know this kind of thing sucks from the employer’s standpoint. At my last company, I was apart of our trainee program’s interview panel, and during our interview training prep course, the HR rep leading it said it usually costs double the new hire’s salary to recruit and onboard a new hire, which I thought was absolutely nuts. So yeah, if I was hiring for a position that I was hoping to fill long-term, and someone took the job knowing they’d be out of there in as little as three months, I’d be very annoyed due to all of the resources that were wasted that we’d now have use again to find a replacement.

          That being said, I’ve also been the long-term unemployed with little to no money, and I too took a job I had no plans of staying in long-term (luckily, I was let go with a nice severance package a couple months later and landed in something a little more stable). I couldn’t wait to find the job that was going to be “the one” when I was drowning in student loan debt and straining my poor single mother’s already small budget – I had to work doing anything, and no one would hire me in retail or food service because, with my degree and education, they knew I’d leave immediately as well.

          All this to say, OP, if you do end up getting the job, take it. But be sure that when you start job searching again you have a solid reason for why you’re trying to leave, apply only to places you can see yourself staying long-term, and then seriously commit to staying at the next place for at least two years. That’s what I ended up doing, and my career has taken off since then.

    2. Penguin*

      To some extent, it depends on your career field and the nature of the job. If your career has been in llama wrangling and this is for a llama wrangling technician position (i.e. same career field but very entry-level) then job hunting with that on your resume for less than ~six months is likely to raise eyebrows and/or flags and you might be better off not including it.

      On the other hand, if you take a job unrelated to your field (retail clerk, for example; or, as a mentor of mine once put it, “a job you can quit on two weeks notice without worrying about it affecting your career because it has nothing to do with your career”) you 1) may raise fewer questions and 2) have a ready, pragmatic answer: “I took that job to make ends meet while I continued looking for something permanent/in my field/that I was a better fit for/etc.” Presumably _some_ people are out-of-touch enough to expect applicants to be able to ignore the practical reality of having to feed oneself, but being upfront, matter-of-fact, and non-defensive about your decision will likely help you with many/most interviewers.

      1. Lost*

        It’s a “file clerk” job. My previous jobs have included filing things here and there as I finished work, but it was never a main part my job. I don’t feel that I have a career per say, but I don’t think someone with my background would necessarily be looking at file clerk jobs if they had better options.

    3. ANon.*

      Unfortunately, if you get this job, I don’t think it’s going to be worth putting on your resume unless you’ve been there for a decent amount of time (more than a few months). It’s not likely that you’ll be able to show that you’ve produced good work in that new job until you’ve been there a while, so having it on your resume isn’t going to be much help until then.

      Sorry, that’s probably not what you wanted to hear. :( Best of luck with the job search!

      1. Lost*

        I’m not really concerned about showing I produced good work or gained new skills (it’s a very simple job). I just thought it might be important to put it on my resume right away to show I have a job. Like, would employers be more interested in someone who’s been unemployed for over a year, or someone who was unemployed for over a year but now has a job? I worry that my resume gets trashed as soon as anyone looks at the top and sees I haven’t worked in over a year. Aren’t they probably thinking they shouldn’t hire me if no one else will?

        1. Beatrice*

          I think I’d be more worried about seeing a job you started last month on there, than thinking you weren’t currently employed, unless the job was clearly a temp gig. I’d be wanting to hear a really good story about why you were job hunting again so soon, and it would need to be something seriously bad, like they were abusive or you were being asked to break the law or work in really dangerous conditions. Otherwise I’d be worried that if I hired you, you’d leave again soon, and it would be difficult to convince me otherwise.

          1. Lost*

            The reasoning I would give for wanting to keep job hunting would be that I took a job to pay bills and now wanted something that paid closer to my previous salary, that was more in line with my interests, and that could be a long term job. Hopefully that’s enough of an explanation!

            1. Seeking Second Childhood*

              Temp agencies are great for this… you can take a long series of jobs with gaps on interview days. You can mention just a few posts that show something worthwhile. You can let people at the temp job know when you’re interested in staying.

        2. ChachkisGalore*

          This is tough – we all hear that it’s way better to be employed than not when looking (like it looks better), but I think cons of you starting the job recently and looking to leave so quickly could outweigh the pros of being employed.

          It probably depends a bit about what type of job the “temporary” one is. If it’s like fast food or retail work (or any work very widely understood to be high turnover) I think it would be less likely to be held against you. Same if its part-time work. I think those would be easier for hiring managers to differentiate from their long-term/low turnover role and not project the same behavior (leaving quickly).

          Unfortunately though, I think listing the recently started “temporary” job might make them think you could be likely to jump ship from them too as soon as something better comes along. Personally, I wouldn’t judge someone for taking a job they have no intention of keeping long term if their financial situation is getting very precarious, but I can also see how a hiring manager would be concerned.

          Good luck! It sucks to be in this situation, but I’m hoping things will turnaround for you!

          1. Lost*

            I’m not sure how temporary the job seems to outsiders. The only listed requirements are a high school diploma and the ability to arrange files in alphabetical and numerical order, so it sounds like the kind of job someone might get temporarily to save up for college or to do while attending classes at night. I have a bachelor’s degree and several years doing work that’s much more advanced than filing, so I would hope no one would expect it to be a long term job for me. (But it’s possible that I have unrealistic expectations or am arrogant and should just be happy for any job.)

        3. MoopySwarpet*

          You’d definitely want to come up with a really good way to explain that in a cover letter or it’s probably still going in the trash IF it’s in fact going there without the “throw away” job.

          Personally, as a hiring manager, I’m not sure if I’d rather see a short “throw away” job on a resume or a large employment gap. Neither is (obviously) ideal. I think if it’s not minimally 3 months, I’d be concerned you were only applying to my job for the same reason. But with just a large gap, I might be worried that I’m your “throw away” job.

          Would it be possible in your area or field to sign up with a temp agency instead? Then you can say you currently work for LlamaTemps, but even if you’re getting crappy low paying jobs, at least you’re getting exposed to several companies and you might also find one that needs temporary coverage for llama scheduling and reception, but is also looking to hire a high qualified groomer. Or, at the very least, it will be obvious that it’s a temp job designed to be a stop gap while you find a full time job.

          1. Lost*

            I actually hadn’t even thought of addressing it in the cover letter! So, if hired at “throw away job,” should I be writing that I am currently in a “throw away job” role, but am looking at other jobs that would be a better long-term fit and am interested in “better job” for reasons a, b and c?

            I’ve applied to jobs that temp agencies posted but haven’t heard back from any of them. I don’t think I’m a very desirable candidate at this point.

            1. Seeking Second Childhood*

              You can physically walk in to a temp agency and sign up to be evaluated. You aren’t limited fto their posted positions–those might be a small percentage.
              Many offer training, at least in software tools. And some used to offer health insurance for long- term employees.

    4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Right now you have a year gap on your resume, that’s starting to wade into “why this length of time between jobs, territory. So please take the job and keep looking. It’ll give you padding, it may take you another year to find something. Put it on around 3 months. Explain to people you’re moving on so soon because of not having a sustainable salary.

      You don’t owe any company any set amount of your time. Do your job and be invested while you’re there but don’t feel loyalty to them. They’re paying peanuts, they’re lucky to have a qualified person give them a few months of good work but not someone you now owe 20 years of servitude to!

      Be respectful of them but remember if 3 months into the job they decided to downsize and lay you off, they’re probably not going to lose sleep over it.

      There are places that ask you how long you’re thinking of staying if hired?! That’s nonsense and over stepping unless you have a resume with 6 months at each job staring at them. We assume people will stay on until the job no longer suits them or they get a new job.

      We just had someone leave after 6 months. He got headhunted. We are sad but knew he’s worth much more and heck yeah he needed to take a job at 3x his previous salary!

      1. Lost*

        Good point that it could take me another year to find a job! I have no idea when I’ll be able to get something better (if ever), so if I’m offered a less-than-optimal job I better take it.

        At interviews I like to ask how long people usually stay in the position because I’m trying to figure out if it’s something I could stay in long-term, so I figured an employer might ask how long I planned to stay in the position (especially since it’s a “step down” kind of job for me). I’ve never actually been asked about that before though.

        Seems like a couple people have agreed that I should wait a few months before putting any “temporary” jobs on my resume, so I will do that.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          It’s a fair question as a job seeker. Along with asking why they have a vacancy! But as an employer it’s pushy and presumptuous :)

          You will find a job that suits you and pays you the wages you are looking for! Don’t let the doubts creep in but it’s okay to be in a “this works for now” job.

          Life is constantly moving us along. Your job is out there and you’ll find it but there’s a path you haven’t stumbled upon.

          I’m big of “timing” is key. Everything in my life is weird and accidental. Like I followed a white rabbit and the adventures has been endless. Each job is a “lol how did this happen” moment.

          I’m not some kooky person trying to sell you snake oil either. I just know life is a helluva ride and don’t bail off the rollercoaster just yet.

          1. Lost*

            Nah, you don’t sound kooky–just an optimistic and positive person. It’s hard to stay hopeful when things haven’t been going well for so long, so thanks for the vote of confidence!

    5. Not So NewReader*

      ” could it also be off-putting because companies will wonder why I’m looking to jump ship so soon?”

      It might be? Take that preemptive strike and anticipate they will ask a question. Maybe put it in your cover letter. “I am currently employed at a modest job in order to help pay my bills. I want to give my current employer the standard two weeks notice.”
      Then in person you can say that you feel being fair to this employer is important to you, so you will work through your two weeks notice then start with New Employer.

      ” Or would they be able to tell I took the job because I needed ANY job after being unemployed for so long?” This is why you can explain BEFORE they ask. It’s much easier to contain what ever random thoughts they have.

      “What if they ask at the interview how long I plan to stay?”

      How long do you think your job search will be?
      If you don’t know/aren’t sure then say, “I would like to stay at least a year.” I have left off some of my better resume points for some of the jobs, just so they did not ask too much. Sometimes they figure it out, “Oh, you worked at X so you learned how to do Y.” I just answer honestly, what else is there.

      Time off. Can you move one of the doctor’s appointment to March? OTH, can you do those appointments now because February is so close. OR Can you leave the doctor’s appointments in place and schedule interviews before or after the appointments? (Leverage the situation.)

  15. Baby Fishmouth*

    Are any other Ontario post-secondary employees concerned about the 10% tuition cut the Ontario Government just announced? I work at an Ontario university and it sounds like it might affect quite a few people’s employment. Is anyone else concerned about the same thing?

    1. MG*

      Hi – fellow Ontarian here. I don’t work in Ontario’s academic sector yet, but I was planning to start applying for teaching jobs at a few colleges. I do share your concern, but quite honestly I have not had a chance to look into how it may affect ppl’s employment, only read the/watched the news reports about the tuition cuts and the removal of grants for students (which was just a further disappointment).

      1. Enough*

        This should not be an issue for hiring. It appears to be take from the left and give with the right. It just changes how the cost/tuition is covered. Ex – If you lower tuition by $1000 but reduce grants by $1000 the overall cost to students is the same. A number of private college in the US are doing something similar.

        1. Baby Fishmouth*

          The cost to the students is the same, but the cost for universities is drastic (where I work, it could be up to a 7% budget cut) which could definitely impact hiring.

          Although for many students, the lowering the amount of grants does not offset the tuition. For students who qualified for free tuition this past year (those who come from families making under $50 000/year), they are now losing roughly $9000/year in grants, and this is offset by…a $900 tuition reduction? It hurts both sides, in my view.

    2. A tester, not a developer*

      I’m concerned that it’s going to turn every course offering (and every professor) into a purely financial calculation. Want to study Classics? Sorry, it’s not a money maker – but there’s plenty of ‘profitable’ engineering or computer science options for you.
      To my mind one advantage of university over college is the diversity of things to study (my long ago degree specifically had a requirement that you had to take at least 4 credits outside your field of study). But if budgets are being stripped to the bone, it’s a hard to continue to offer ‘impractical’ courses. And when that happens, universities become high end trade schools – not places that teach you to learn and think independently.

  16. Sincerely*

    A bunch of us coworkers had a get together recently and I was left pondering something. My department is largely made up of liberal-minded, progressive folks. We recently had a staff meeting about creating an inclusive environment and many of the sentiments expressed were about self-policing behavior so as to not trigger employees. It became a little extreme and several coworkers were of the opinion that those who are ignorant should always ask if something was ok before discussing something… to the point that many interactions would be pretty restricted due to how certain conversations might affect not only those in the conversation, but those who overhear it. (for example congratulating a coworker who has told you they are trying to lose weight for losing weight, because another coworker who may be experiencing weight issues or disordered eating may be triggered — we didn’t get into whether someone should discuss wanting to lose weight as there may be others overhearing who are triggered by needing to gain weight?).

    I’m all for an inclusive environment, but what was described by my colleagues didn’t feel inclusive. It felt restrictive so as not to offend anyone. And rather than creating an environment where everyone is comfortable learning from each other, it’s an environment where no one feels safe asking a question that may elicit discomfort. And yet, these same colleagues also had very definite opinions about straight, white men (particularly those who work for the company). And although, we certainly have some stereotypical male behavior in our company, there’s been a lot of anti-white man talk after hours.

    All of this is to say, the culture in my department and organization is changing and is beginning to feel toxic. (Which is sad, because I have enjoyed working here) I’m honestly not sure if I should just shut my mouth and accept it (because it’s likely the nature of the workplace these days trying to adapt to changing times) or leave and find some place better (because I don’t think it’s healthy or productive to regulate collegial interactions in this way.)

    1. Jack be Nimble*

      If the culture of your workplace is changing in ways you dislike, I think the sensible answer is to look for new opportunities! I think I’m on the side of your colleagues, but if you’re made uncomfortable by new prevailing norms, you should definitely feel free to begin job hunting, even if it’s a non-intensive search while you wait to see how things play out.

    2. Snark*

      I mean, that kind of tendency has bothered me a lot around here, so I understand the annoyance at the tendency to obsessively police and analyze inoccuous statements and discussions to preemptively avoid notional offense. It can get exhausting.

      But, that said: I don’t really get how avoiding some topics is “restrictive” or “toxic.” Your example of discussing weight loss is a good one: that’s a pretty personal, third-rail kind of topic for a workplace! Not that I think it should be assiduously categorically avoided, but a lot of workplaces do have really unhealthy conversations about weight, in a way that is genuinely harmful to people. I generally have those conversations with people I know well enough to know it’s appropriate and appreciated.

      We’re living through a period of time where white, straight, cis-het men are not exactly covering themselves in glory. As someone who fits all of those descriptors, it’s rarely comfortable for me to hear stuff like that, but I’m also doing my best to not center my feelings and reactions in this moment. It’s not about me, or at least not mostly so.

      Ultimately, I don’t really think it’s that hard to steer clear of potentially contentious topics. It’s work. I don’t think you have to self-police to an obsessive degree, but given that it’s not family or friends, it shouldn’t be that hard to keep to topics that are inherently less personal and emotional.

      1. Washi*

        I tend to agree, especially based on this: “And although, we certainly have some stereotypical male behavior in our company, there’s been a lot of anti-white man talk after hours.” If there is a noticeable amount of poor behavior by some men in the company, I’m not surprised people are complaining about it. And it doesn’t sound like there are any proposed punishments for accidentally talking about some of these topics, just asking that people try to be aware of the effect they can have on others.

        I think sometimes to avoid anxiety/awkwardness of finding out that something you thought was benign actually isn’t always, it can be easier to say others are being too sensitive. I’ve definitely experienced that, and I think what helped me was just accepting that I am going to make mistakes, but still doing my best to abide by what others have asked, even if I didn’t always completely understand at first.

        1. Sincerely*

          I’ve certainly learned things about some of my male coworkers that were utterly disappointing. So, I do understand the venom directed at them. I’m both uncomfortable and anxious about it also to be fair. So you’re totally right. But I also can’t support conversations that are about how straight men in general suck. Certainly I support conversations about how mansplainers suck or entitled, spoiled, ignorant men suck. Or men who have no concept/awareness of what it’s like to be discriminated against due to race, religion, sexuality, etc. But, when we paint all men with a wide brush, we actually end up discriminating against men and that’s not the answer either.

          Sadly, I don’t think I’m capable of explaining my thoughts about this in a way that conveys both my understanding and sympathy for those who experience societal obstacles that shouldn’t exist, alongside my belief that swinging the pendulum in the exact opposite direction will not resolve the issue and will only force the pendulum to swing faster in the opposite direction and take longer to resolve.

          1. Sparkly Lady*

            I used to be more in line with your co-workers, and I am now more in line with you in finding this approach to be toxic rather than helpful. What I have experienced is that “inclusive” does not actually mean what I would consider inclusive–a space that attempts to be of equivalent comfort to everyone who may be part. Instead, in practice, some people’s pain and feelings are considered legitimate whereas others’ pain and feelings are considered illegitimate.

            Also, only negative feelings are given importance… the joy and happiness that people can feel from some things is discounted as irrelevant (like your example of having weight loss complimented).

            Given that we’re all supposed to focus on impact rather than intent, I wish there was more willingness to acknowledge the downsides of this type of restrictive approach. Activists have been writing about them for years now.

      2. Sincerely*

        The weight loss question was actually interesting. We were discussing whether it was appropriate to have a conversation with a colleague about losing weight that you know would appreciate it or wouldn’t be upset. And one of my colleagues said, it was still inappropriate because someone else could overhear the conversation and they may be triggered by it.

        But, I’m also not talking about controversial subjects. There was a very big debate about wishing people happy birthday.

        1. Snark*

          And, like….maybe! Someone could overhear that, and I think that’s a reason to read the room or pick a time to discuss that particular topic when you’re reasonably certain you’re not broadcasting. But it’s bonkers to just completely avoud that topic. And as for birthdays, good gravy, if that’s controversial…yikes.

          At some point, I think it’d be worth introducing the concept of good faith in these discussions. Like, yes, it’s concievable that an otherwise inoccuous topic could potentially offend someone, but it’s also on all of us to realize these kinds of glancing hits are probably not aimed at us, and should not be taken personally. People who you know and work with are not trying to trigger you with an inoccuous wish for a happy birthday.

          1. Existentialista*

            I’m really interested in hearing the pros and cons of saying Happy Birthday, if you can share them

            1. Sincerely*

              The question was is it appropriate to wish someone a happy birthday. Some folks thought it was a ridiculous question full stop, that the subject isn’t so sensitive to warrant so much preparation and people should be able to communicate well enough with each other to discuss it if need be. Others felt the question was assumptive and that some people don’t like their birthdays and therefore you should ask.

              1. Snark*

                Yeah, that’s nuts. Sure, it’s assumptive! Safely so! At some point, we can all trust that people who don’t like their birthdays are grown-ass adults who can say, as pleases them, “Oh, thanks,” and carrying on under the assumption that you didn’t know their particular preference but taking it in the spirit it was meant, or “Oh, thanks, but I’m not big on birthdays, please don’t mention mine in the future,” if it’s a Thing.

            2. Seeking Second Childhood*

              Off the top of my head? My daughter’s school had a relatively high percentage of Jehovah’s Witnesses. They don’t do birthdays.

          2. Nita*

            I think that’s definitely part of the answer. At some point, the government/boss/society should stop mothering people and let them think for themselves: is this conversation meant to hurt someone, or is the topic being discussed in good faith? And is it about you, or are you inserting yourself into something that has nothing to do with you?

            I have a relative who must be the original word police. I got so sick and tired of explaining to that self-centered jackass that my comment that it’s raining hard is not meant as criticism of his wearing sandals. That telling my mom her baked chicken is delicious is not a snide comment on his choice to go vegetarian. That he should stop hovering next to me when I’m on the phone with my doctor on the off chance I’ll say something critical of him. It was a very toxic way to live, and not the kingdom of light and niceness that never being offensive is supposed to bring about.

        2. That Girl From Quinn's House*

          If you switch anything else for weight loss, though, the fallacy is clearer:
          “Can I congratulate someone on her new baby when someone who is infertile or had an abortion might overhear?”
          “Can I congratulate someone on their wedding when someone who just ended a relationship might overhear?”
          “Can I congratulate someone on their new house when someone who can’t afford a house might overhear?”
          “Can I congratulate someone on their retirement when someone who can’t afford to retire might overhear?”

          1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

            I mean, I think it’s a little fallacious to treat all topics as though they’re interchangeable.

            Eating disorders, and the existence of social pressure that can trigger them or trigger relapses in recovery, are a pretty indisputable fact, and I’m not sure that discussing weddings, retirement, house purchases, etc can be compared equally when there isn’t a “wedding disorder” or “retirement disorder” equivalent.

            1. clunker*

              Exactly, the closer equivalent is “Can I offer all the coworkers in this room a glass of wine right now when one might have a history of alcoholism.”

              1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

                Yep, and I think the answer for that one is a much clearer-cut “that’s not a good idea.”

                I think that the language of inclusivity and triggers is new and uncomfortable for a lot of people, but the notion of there being a list of topics that you shouldn’t discuss in the office is not actually a new or particularly partisan one, and adding weight loss to the list seems like a relatively benign culture move.

                1. Snark*

                  And see, I don’t really agree that’s clear cut. I’ve got plenty of family and friends with alcoholism in their makeup, and they have all been offered alcohol in a well-meaning and unknowing way. They do not find it especially pleasant or uncomplicated, but neither is it a faux pas.

                  I otherwise agree that there are a list of topics to be generally avoided, at least in general workplace chatter that could be overheard, but I’m not convinced that it’s incumbent on all of us to proactively avoid essentially topics that could potentially intersect with someone’s notional issue around that topic.

                2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

                  I think there’s a sliding scale of topics that are obviously fraught to topics that are less obviously potentially fraught. Obviously, where to draw the line on “just don’t” is going to vary, but it’s not a bad thing to occasionally review where we’re putting various things on the scale, and maybe add or subtract certain ones from the list of “not at work.”

                  To me, things like weight loss aren’t essential to discuss in the office, and they’re far enough to the “just don’t” side of the scale that it’s appropriate to agree not to bring them up at work.

                  The way my friends generally operate with this kind of thing socially, we recognize topics that are obviously “proceed with caution,” and we have topics that one or more people have specifically requested don’t get discussed around them. Both these categories get honored.

                3. Not So NewReader*

                  I think there are two parts here.
                  The other part is telling people to let others know when a topic is a poor choice AND encouraging others to respect that statement on the first mention. (Emphasis on the word first.)

              2. Noteworthy*

                I think Quinn raises a good point though. You may think it’s fallacious to compare scenarios and that they’re not interchangable, but the issue is that others will believe that these situations are applicable within the context of the question. (I personally think the first example is perfectly relevant.

                Can you offer coworkers in this room a plate of cookies if one of them has diabetes? Or is gluten free? Or allergic to nuts? Or chocolate?

                I think it’s fair to make accommodations for perks in the office when possible. (whether that’s food or socialization) But I also think it is not the responsibility of the office to manage someone’s illness. Maintaining one’s own health and wellbeing is directly up to them. If they are uncomfortable with a situation, they need to find solutions to address it. Ideally the company would create an environment that allows for communication and discussion. But regardless of one’s situation — whether that be mental illness, alcoholism, diabetes, or any other scenario — if one needs accommodations, it would be irresponsible to expect someone to know the right questions to ask or the right accommodations to make if they don’t have your insight and experience.

                1. clunker*

                  Offering someone a cookie is not force-feeding them the cookie- they can say no and you can move on.

                  On the other hand, exposing someone to a trigger related to something like an addiction or an eating disorder are different. They have had the adverse health consequence/exposure immediately. It’s not the same to offer someone something that could cause an adverse consequence. Offering someone a cookie is not the same as them eating a cookie.
                  (And yes, trigger is the appropriate clinical language in both of those contexts)

                  The only one in your list that could be compared is if someone was very allergic- enough to the point that being in the same room as something with nuts could be dangerous. I think it’s fair not to ban all foods that can be seriously allergic like that, but I also don’t think it’s ridiculous to ask “Should we have a policy about food brought from home, in case someone is allergic?” There are different answers to that question based on the size of the group in question, but it’s reasonable to ask.

            2. MRK*

              My mother actually had a coworker get upset because my mother dared to mention within her hearing that my parents were about to finish their 30 year mortgage. Because clearly my mother was trying to make her feel bad about… something?

              1. Snark*

                And this is the kind of thing that you canot possibly plan for, avoid, or be sensitive enough to mitigate.

            3. Sparkly Lady*

              I don’t think it’s an indisputable fact that people in recovery from eating disorders or other addictions are likely to relapse at overhearing other people’s conversations. And while there is no “wedding disorder” or “retirement disorder,” someone in the midst of a bad breakup could absolutely have situational depression triggered by wedding talk or someone really struggling with finances can have situational depression triggered by mortgage or retirement talk. Baby talk absolutely is painful for those who have had miscarriages or are having fertility challenges, and Allison’s had letters talking about that directly!

              Once people are expected to hold themselves responsible for the mental health needs of anyone who may overhear them, conversations get very complicated and IMHO, very impersonal.

        3. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

          Between this question and the one about a coworker quietly wearing a cross, I think I need to crawl under my desk.

          Yes, I agree with you, this sounds absolutely oppressive to me. I’m not saying that all topics are appropriate for a workplace setting but oh boy this is over the top. If it helps, not all workplaces are this way.

          I can’t think of one topic that doesn’t have the ability to make someone feel bad. Some examples have already been mentioned. Did the group discussing this give examples of what is left for discussions?

    3. Former Expat*

      This is the second time I’ll recommend “I can tolerate everything except the outgroup” today. I think that I would find myself in the same position as you. Actions speak louder than words and I do think that virtue signalling is turning into a bloodsport on some circles. I probably vote the same way your colleagues do, but “self-policing” makes me very uneasy. This is no exaggeration, it reminds me of China in the 60s-70s when ppl had to write “Self-criticisms.” Maybe it is time to move on. It is okay to feel sad about that.

      1. Sincerely*

        See, the thing is — I’m pretty open minded. So, I can understand the belief behind what their saying. I may even agree. I just don’t agree with the method they’re using to address it. I think it will diminish opportunities for engagement and conversation and result in creating an environment of repression and exclusivity — where like hangs out with like — which is the exact opposite of what needs to happen.

        1. WellRed*

          “I think it will diminish opportunities for engagement and conversation and result in creating an environment of repression and exclusivity”

          This would be a great thing to say if you ever felt a need to address it. I get being careful what you say in a work group setting, but this bunch seems one step away from coloring books in a safe space.

        2. Former Expat*

          yep, sometimes the folks who talk the loudest about diversity are the ones guilty of hanging out only with people who are just like them

      2. Considered Secularist*

        Thank you for that recommendation. I read it and it’s quite thought-provoking, as well as beautifully written.

    4. LKW*

      It’s a lovely sentiment, but at what point do you have to even stop talking about the weather because someone’s grandma died in a tornado 20 years ago?

      Sensitivity is great. We all know what topics are absolutely inappropriate for work. Everything else requires a level of sensitivity yes, but if someone is so emotionally fragile that hearing about a weight loss program sends them into an emotional spiral, they need to get some help. And I say this as someone who has been overweight all her life and listens to people wax rhapsodically about their exercise and nutrition programs with a slight discomfort that is MINE to own. They are not responsible for me.

      And avoiding discussions because someone might overhear? Unless you’re gossiping or going to those inappropriate for work topics- you should not have to control your conversation to that level.

      1. Mazzy*

        I agree. I have a toolbox for dealing with conversations that go south in the office. For example, when the conversation goes to national politics and gets heated, and bring it down to local government and politicians and schools, which are just as important issues, but no one gets upset or takes them as personally (which they should, but that’s neither here nor there).

      2. Elizabeth West*

        As someone who wants kids and has no partner who is constantly bombarded with people’s pregnancy announcements, kid pics, and five-year-old wedding photos, I agree with this too. Nobody else is responsible for my feelings on the matter. That’s down to me. If I feel it starting to upset me, I can discreetly excuse myself from a conversation or skip looking at a post or photo. I can’t demand that no one else bring up their kids in my presence, ever.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Yes. And there are times where others’ conversation made me cry. That was something that happened in my head and no where else. They were not conversing about Topic at me. I went to the restroom or whatever, collected myself and came back. Done. Over.
          Almost every topic can be upsetting to someone, somewhere. I have a Family Member who has an extensive list of upsetting topics. Most of the people in the family have given up trying to chat with FM because of the steady stream of “I can’t handle that topic.”
          This is a win the battle, lose the war scenario. Sure, people stop mentioning stuff and then after a bit they stop talking entirely. It’s impossible to protect everyone from everything.

    5. Delphine*

      Do you have another example of restrictive, toxic inclusivity? Your example seems fairly mild and not terribly unreasonable.

      1. Sincerely*

        I’m not saying that the question about weight is an example of restrictive, toxic inclusivity. I’m saying the environment created when staff must constantly assess whether to engage in regular social interactions, such as sharing experiences about weight loss with a coworker you know, or wishing someone happy birthday — combined with an environment that feeds into stereotyping any one, specific group will lead to restrictive, toxic inclusivity. If we have to regulate conversations among coworkers and we can’t rely on our coworkers to have open and informative discussions with each other, then we’re not creating a culture of inclusion. Rather, forced niceties that provide no dialogue for understanding or perspective, so no one learns anything.

        1. Argh!*

          Thinking about things from other peoples’ point of view is always a good practice. Over time, things that we have taken to be “harmless” turn out to be not so harmless after all. Commenting on appearance is easy… because it’s shallow, and people don’t like being judged on their appearance. Also, it’s almost always only directed towards women, so I totally agree with not commenting on a person’s weight loss (or gain).

          If you don’t have a vocabulary of topics at the ready, just do more thinking. It will become a habit and you’ll think back on this phase of your life as the time you grew a little rather than a time of repression. The opposite of insensitive chit-chat isn’t silence.

          1. The New Wanderer*

            But I think the issue that Sincerely is talking about is that they are being coached to reconsider talking about any topic they could possibly mention because of how it might negatively affect someone. The people leading this effort are conflating legitimate problematic statements with completely ordinary sentiments and saying that both carry the same risk of offending someone.

            It’s beyond saying “it’s not okay to tell women to smile or say all white men are d-bags”, to being so hyper-aware of what might or might not negatively affect someone that people don’t know what the safe topics are anymore and feel they can’t even questions or have any conversations that would otherwise increase their understanding of someone else’s situation. I believe that is the problem Sincerely is describing.

        2. Sensitive Snowflake*

          It sounds like your office is taking things too far- and I can definitely relate to feeling like stifling all potentially dangerous conversation is ultimately hurting everyone- you are limiting eye-opening dialogue and normal social interaction.

          But- the weight talk has got to stop. At work, people are always talking about food- I ate too much at lunch, too much this weekend, won’t you have a donut, etc. And it’s difficult for people who don’t have an eating disorder to understand how awful this is. People commenting about my weight, when I was actively struggling, was enough that I would go home and spend days hating myself. Having all of the talk around the office revolve around food made me feel like I would never be able to have friends, because so much social conversation revolves around food, and I really couldn’t listen to it. Even social interaction- do you want to go out for coffee or lunch? I don’t think that I’m being very articulate- but I do think that not just at work, but as a culture, we need to realize how much of our lives revolve around food, and feeling guilty about food, and judging others for eating something “bad” or “good.” Is it really that hard to just never comment on someone’s weight, ever? To just decide not to care what other people eat and to only talk about your diet with close friends?

          Eating disorders are so common, and they are devastating and deadly. And sometimes you have no idea from the outside. Not that your work culture sounds okay- but I’m not a sensitive snowflake for not wanting to be asked about my weight, plus or minus.

          1. Jasnah*

            I think it’s a pretty common social norm in the West to not comment about others’ weight uninvited! Of course as you know people will be jerks anyways.

            Still I would be confused if I was no longer allowed to have the following conversations at work, just because someone with a disordered view of food/eating might overhear.
            “Hey, want a cupcake?”
            “No thanks, I’m on a diet!”

            “Yay I lost/gained 10lbs!”

            “Want to go out for lunch?”
            “Sure, but can we go to the salad bar? I want to eat something light.”

            I would never ask someone about their weight, but these are perfectly normal and average conversations for most people, and I think it’s extreme and overprotective to ban conversation topics based on who hypothetically might be offended. If people go on and on about their food and diets uninvited, of course that’s annoying, but taking things to the extreme described is more about virtue signalling than actual care for others.

      2. Mazzy*

        Mild? People seem afraid to speak with each other which is going to stifle teamwork and creativity and new ideas, and she pointed out an example where people gossiped about someone because of their race, and also an example where the self-censorship is spiraling. At my job, there is a department that is important but we don’t correct anything they do because they’ve been offended by perceived slights to no less than five people. This has led to higher project costs because everyone is afraid to point out inefficiencies or downright mistakes. That is the only departments that has had meetings about the tone of conversations, and from what I gather, I think they don’t expect anything negative to ever cross their path, or at the very least, pointing out an obvious error needs to be couched in multiple thank yous and please. But don’t overdo it or they call you out for being patronizing. It’s so unrealistic that even I avoid them. Sometimes I don’t even bother acknowledging them at gatherings beyond a hello, because it’s too much work to think through what they think is acceptable or not to say to them. One of them was slurring and drunk at a party, and when the office was rehashing the party the following week at a lunch and someone asked them how many drinks they had, they were offended. Stuff like that you can’t work around.

        1. Mazzy*

          I’m sorry, I thought I disagreed with you but now I’m seeing that we agree, I think? This is confusing.

    6. qwerty*

      Ohhhh people like that have been driving me nuts. We grow as individuals and as a society by hearing viewpoints other than our own. Personally I think the bar has gotten far too low for what constitutes “triggering.” And I say that as a progressive person who has some triggers of her own. But I know that part of functioning in society is hearing things that might make me think of things I don’t want to think about, and I can’t keep myself from OVERHEARING anything that might trigger me (!!!). And that is NOT the same as someone intentionally coming up to me and saying the triggers because they know they’re triggering for me. These attempts to make inclusive environments just make extremely exclusive and prejudicial environments. I work in higher ed where this is just nonstop. I am against the notion of “safe spaces” as they’ve come to be. Yes, people should not be subjected to being harassed over race, nationality, gender identity, sexual preference, etc., but that doesn’t mean we should never have to hear an opinion that is different from our own. I agree… the workplace you’re describing is toxic. Some culture police are dictating what everyone else can talk about.

    7. Tinker*


      Maybe it would help to think of the matter of explicitly asking as not so much a new thing to accommodate all these new differences that coworkers might potentially have, but as another way of implementing the general and more-established rule of “know your audience” and “some subjects are at your own risk” that historically is accomplished more by intuitive judgment and reference to the standards of the local dominant culture?

      Like, admittedly I’m an autistic guy who was held to the standard of southern-US female gender roles growing up, but to me the notion that you can potentially ask people with words as to whether or not they’re okay with discussion of a potentially controversial subject and take their answer approximately at face value (with some caveats) as to whether you can continue has more the smell of glorious freedom and clarity to me.

    8. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      My tolerance for swerving between extremes is very low.

      This is as gnarly as the extremists who squeal on about “all the sensitive snowflakes gotta loosen up!”. No. There’s a middle ground.

      Foster an environment to speak up. If someone is triggered, make them feel safe to say “I prefer we don’t discuss dieting!” and you say “my apologies, we won’t do that around you any longer.” but you can’t live your life comfortably walking on eggshells and assuming someone nearby may have an issue with food or whatever the case may be.

      We’re humans who have a great ability to adapt and communicate with each other. Respect my ability to self soothe.

      I have ED and it makes me scream when people put in kid gloves about food things.

      I had people say not to speak of my parents because what if a nearby person is an orphan or was abused by their dad, so never speak about how you’re visiting your dad…no. Just no.

    9. LilySparrow*

      I get very annoyed by the overuse and dilution of the word “triggered” in place of “offended” or “upset.” If someone is annoyed, bothered, upset, or feels excluded by overhearing a topic that’s personally sensitive to them, that is not the same thing as being triggered.

      When a trauma survivor encounters a trigger, they have intense, realistic flashbacks to a specific moment. It is an event over which they have no control at the time, and renders them temporarily unable to function normally or advocate for themselves. Sometimes they are unable to even communicate what’s happening until it’s over.
      Triggers are also intensely personal and it would be impossible to purge an ordinary workplace of anything that could accidentally trigger someone – because that could be literally anything. And for a workplace to disclose that someone is a trauma survivor, or require the survivor to disclose all the personal triggers that they know would be a huge violation of privacy.

      “Don’t assume everyone is exactly like you” and “don’t be a jerk” are such basic levels of courtesy, they really don’t need such a granular level of dissection.

      TL:dr – if someone is annoyed at being wished Happy Birthday because they don’t like their birthday (for example) that is not being “triggered.” They are not rendered helpless. They don’t need other people to protect them from this non-event. Adults can speak up for themselves and say some perfectly normal phrase like, “I don’t really celebrate my birthday, thanks.”

    10. Maya Elena*

      Examine your own behavior according to your own moral precepts – am I honest, honorable, congruent? And if you pass, keep doing what you were doing and having normal conversations with normal people. Don’t try to be offensive, don’t self-police. Reasonable people think this whole thing is ridiculous and will be glad to have a fellow reasonable to talk to. Unreasonable ones are just louder.

  17. Jack be Nimble*

    Any advice on when and how to give notice when you’re leaving for grad school?

    I’m planning a career change, for which I’ll need to attend grad school. The program I want to attend is full-time and begins in June. I missed the 2019 application deadline (it was last October), so I’m planning to apply for June 2020 this fall. I’m obviously not planning to give notice now, but when should I? I may need to use my current colleagues or supervisors as references, which complicates matters somewhat!

    For what it’s worth, my manager will be supportive, and “left to go to grad school” is pretty common both in my industry and my company.

    1. Minerva McGonagall*

      I wouldn’t give notice until you have the acceptance in hand and have officially deposited/decided to go. You can still use them as references, and then it won’t be too much of a shock when you do give notice (especially since this sounds like it’s something that happens normally). Plus you’ll still be able to give plenty of notice if you find out in June/July for an August/September start.

    2. Foreign Octopus*

      I think you should treat it as though you were moving to a new job and give them whatever notice is standard for your industry. I know that it feels a little off to do that when you know for months in advance that you’ll be leaving but unless you can afford to be without pay from the time that you hand in your notice to the time that you start at grad school then I wouldn’t do it. There are many, many companies that would march you out on the spot so I would rather be safe than sorry in this situation.

    3. Snark*

      I would give notice that you’re leaving when you’ve been accepted or have been given reason to believe (by an advisor or coordinator) that an acceptance is absolutely forthcoming. But I think you can be clear that your long-term plan is to apply for grad school for a June 2020 start date, so that’s a factor in their long-term planning.

    4. anon for this*

      I’m an American married to a Brit currently living in the UK. He’s working (I’m a student, although I’m just working on my dissertation and not wedded to the area) but is also really fed up with his job, and we’re thinking of moving to the US. He’s a teacher–they don’t have a good US equivalent for his exact job, but high school or community college would probably be the best fit for him in the US. We’re not committed to moving, but does anyone have any suggestions for resources I could give him about teaching and education job hunting in the US?

    5. Lily Rowan*

      I’m going to split the difference here — you don’t need to give notice as soon as you know you’re going, but I would also not wait and give just two weeks, depending on the situation. I had someone take on new opportunities and spent a lot of time re-working roles and responsibilities and things over one summer and then in August she gave two weeks’ notice to go to grad school. I would really have rather not spent all that time on future planning, since she already knew it wasn’t going to be relevant! She could have been confident we wouldn’t kick her out with an extended notice period, and just getting two weeks left me with a bad taste in my mouth.

    6. Lily*

      I did not give notice until I had received acceptances, and used previous professors and supervisors as references. If I had needed or could have used a coworker reference, there were two people who I had known since college and happened to work at the same large firm as me, and could have use them as I trusted them 10000%. I didn’t tell anyone until in May or so when my supervisor started talking about planning for next year, and I quietly let him know that he shouldn’t count me in. I didn’t tell anyone else until late June/early June, and I left in late July.

      1. Lily*

        I didn’t want to give two weeks because obviously everyone would knew I knew months before. I did only tell HR two weeks ago but informally let people who it would affect know a little earlier. One supervisor definitely got really angry with me – I didn’t work with him that much so it was fine, but it’s definitely a drawback to telling people earlier.

  18. A-nonny-nonny*

    Interview earlier this week for AlmostDreamJob. 2 needs for advice:

    1) Word has it that the role was created as a development opportunity for an internal candidate. While I did well and believe I am competitive with that individual, please help me get over this because this company strongly prefers internals.

    2) One interviewer “Taylor” said: “Do you have kids? *pause* I probably shouldn’t say that. *pointed look still expecting the answer*” While I know from AAM this is not an illegal question, this role is in a very male-dominated function that is a stepping stone to many other career options, and so also often a barrier to women’s advancement, especially mothers. This company prides itself on being a Best Place to Work with very good parental benefits. Taylor is not the hiring manager, but this is the kind of borderline stuff Taylor did all the time at OldCompany where we interacted. If I don’t get the job, would you tell HR? Not necessarily because of me personally (no kids but may in future), but because I wouldn’t want Taylor to discriminate or deter other women from this key function or other roles at this company, and also, the hiring manager, who hasn’t worked with Taylor long, has a reputation for being supportive of parents on their previous teams. Taylor would definitely retaliate or hold a grudge if they knew who snitched.

      1. ANon.*

        Not illegal to ask. Illegal to discriminate based on the answer. That’s why it’s generally advised to not ask in the first place.

      2. Not Maeby*

        Common misunderstanding. The question itself ISN’T illegal. Making your hiring/promoting/whatever choices based on whether or not a person has kids IS illegal.

        1. fposte*

          Even that’s questionable. Family status isn’t officially federally protected for non-federal employees (though it is in some states and maybe municipal jurisdictions); the problem here is the disparate impact on women. As long as there’s no disparate income–if they reject men with kids at the same rate as women with kids–there’s not likely to be a federal issue.

      3. KarenK*

        Others might correct me, but I think that the question itself is not illegal, but basing hiring decisions on the answer is illegal. Therefore, most people don’t ask it to avoid the appearance of discrimination.

    1. Foreign Octopus*

      This is difficult because I want to suggest that you send a note to HR regardless but it really, really depends on if you’re prepared to see the job slip away from you. I might write something like this:

      Dear HR,

      It was a pleasure to speak with (name) on (date) and learn more about the position and (company). I hope that we can continue the conversation soon. However, I did want to highlight something that made me uncomfortable during the process. When I spoke to Taylor, he asked me whether I have any children and this has raised some concerns for me about whether or not this is a company that embraces diversity [not sure about this bit]. I hope that we can speak about this next time.


      I’m not 100% onboard with the script but I hope someone else can jump in and edit it.

      I do think it’s important to let them know though. The only reason these people are able to get away with this behaviour is because they hold the key to the job and people don’t want to rock the boat. I hope you find some way of letting them know, either before, after, or during the process.

      1. A-nonny-nonny*

        OP here. Would it be better to wait until I hear for sure I didn’t get the job? Or do you think is it better to alert them while still in process, understanding it may jeopardize my candidacy?

        1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

          I’d probably wait until the hiring decision is made.

          If you don’t get the job, then it can be a quick FYI to HR.

          If you do, then perhaps it’s part of a longer discussion so that you make sure that the hiring/working culture doesn’t discriminate due to family status.

        2. Foreign Octopus*

          That’s really difficult because I think if you wait and then tell them, it comes across as sour lemons; but if you tell them now, it comes with the risk of losing the opportunity.

          If it was me, I would tell them now. HOWEVER, I also always have a liveable income from teaching English online so I can take my time with finding jobs and taking stands against stupid questions like above.

          I would choose whichever one you’re most comfortable with. Sorry that’s not much help, but not knowing your circumstances makes it harder to give a more solid answer.

        3. The New Wanderer*

          There’s good arguments for doing it now (while it’s fresh and to get ahead of any specific negative feedback Taylor may give, depending on how you responded in the moment), or waiting until after so it’s more like feedback about the interview process separate from the hiring decision. There’s no reason I can think of for Taylor to ask the question during an interview UNLESS Taylor has an anti-parent agenda – the “probably shouldn’t ask” part is the give-away.

          Since you know that the HM is supportive of parents (and thus would probably discount any feedback from Taylor tinged by Taylor’s unnecessary interest in your family status), it might be better to wait.

  19. Cimorene*

    Does anyone have recommendations for jobs that are not detail-oriented? I’ve been thinking about this a lot since the question about the legal person who missed a lot of details, and realizing that while I’m okay at them details are not my strong suit. But are there any types of jobs out there that don’t involve being detail-oriented?

    1. amcb13*

      I think most jobs will require attention to SOME kind of detail, but the details in question may be really different from job to job, or people who excel may do so by paying attention to different types of detail. For example, I have a hard time with formatting details, like designing external documents with fonts and spacing and colors that are consistent, but I am great at setting up documents that help my students to complete their work successfully (breaking an assignment down into pieces that build on one another, writing instructions that they will actually read and be able to follow, etc.) Both involve a lot of attention to detail but the details in question serve different purposes and require different skillsets.

      1. Rainy days*

        Are you good with relationships? I’ve noticed that people who have jobs interfacing with people a lot can really build on that strength while leaving the detail-oriented work to others. Community outreach, working with kids and families in non-school programming, etc.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Nice catch on this point.
          I’d also throw out for consideration maybe the subject matters. I can catch and retain a lot of details about plants. But when it comes to cars I can’t retain one stinkin’ thing. I like plants. I don’t care about cars.

          Maybe law is the wrong kind of detail for you. Or maybe the way you think about it or were taught about it is unhelpful. I find I can remember more about law if I know the story that caused the law to come into existence. Ask me to remember a bunch of traffic laws in sequential order, naw, that ain’t happening. What’s happening here with me? It’s the people angle. The story of the people involved in the event that caused a law to come into being.

          You may just need to find your inroad to understanding your field better. Or you may have natural abilities elsewhere and that is where you should go.

      2. Cherries Jubilee*

        I agree with amcb13, different jobs require different attention to detail. Like, I won’t notice/don’t understand clothes but if a otherwise good book has typos it completely wrecks havoc on my brain.

      3. Washi*

        Yeah, at a certain point, paying attention to detail = doing a job correctly and carefully

        But as amcb13 says, different people are better at noticing different details. So what kind of detailed stuff is the hardest for you? Are you better at something once you’ve done it a few times, or do you need a lot of variation because getting bored causes you to miss details? Do you prefer following directions or improvising? Do you prefer written or verbal communication?

        I think a lot of it is just which jobs allow you to work with your brain’s natural tendencies rather than against them.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      You want something were errors aren’t a big deal here and there. Someone who has either a proof reader prior to being sent out or something like that.

      Mostly stay away from data or finance related jobs is my advice. There is a lot of jobs that give you a chance to catch errors before their do any harm.

    3. Lost*

      Something in customer service? Seems like a lot of those jobs deal with the same general situations and procedures over and over again and aren’t super detailed.

      Or something in counseling, instructing, training, etc. (like a financial aid counselor at a college or a personal trainer at a gym)? So something where you need to be knowledgeable so you can present information or assist people face-to-face, but not look at paperwork type stuff as much?

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Noooooooooo *flails*
        Every customer service job I’ve had or hired for needs details. You need to be able to find out the problems that may be buried.

        I’m screaming because this is what I’ve hired for the most and seen people fail the fastest at when they aren’t details people. Constant errors in orders, angry customers that you can’t find the issue and fix it, epic nightmares.

      2. Fortitude Jones*

        Yeah, financial aid counselors need to be detail-oriented since they’re dealing with numbers, and they oftentimes assist students with filling out paperwork for loans and grants. So that wouldn’t be a good career choice for the OP at all.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Just a general question. What are you doing to help yourself with remembering details? I check things twice. I have an entire folder of charts I have made to remember details. I don’t consider myself a detail person. I force myself to pay attention to details. Yet, I had one boss who insisted I was a detail person.

      I think most people stumble over details every so often.

  20. Need a Beach*

    For those of you who are the last person in line at work (meaning persons A, B, and C all are necessary to work on a project, but you’re person D and thus the end product always falls to you):

    Tell me success stories about holding people earlier in the pipeline accountable for delays in a way that doesn’t fall on your shoulders. I am always having to make up the difference from my own time allotment when earlier people slack off or drop the ball, and it’s not sustainable. The product cannot be practically, legally, or safely finished without my part, so it seems like there’s no way out, other than rushing and cutting corners in order to make up previous stakeholders’ mistakes. When the higher ups basically say “this is the due date, figure it out” how do you get the responsibility to shift to where it belongs?

    1. Snark*

      I mean, I think you need to communicate with your bosses every time that happens and throw people under the bus if necessary. “Boss, in order to do a full review of the llama herding report, I need at least 16 working hours, and as of now, I haven’t received it from Jane. I gather Fergus did not submit it to her until late yesterday. I will expedite as much as I can, but what should my prority be?” “Boss, just for your awareness, I did not receive the llama herding report until just before COB on Thursday, and it’s due at COB today. I will not be able to review the entire document by then, so do you have any guidance?”

      I can’t guarantee their attitude won’t be “figure it out” but you need documented correspondence showing that you had your eye on the ball, in case this ever comes out in a performance review or you get put on a PIP.”

      1. Snark*

        And if they’re like, “figure it out,” make it harder for them to dismiss the issue! “Ok! So, my two options here are a) not complete my input but get as far as I can or b) complete it in a very rushed fashion which will unavoidably include errors and inaccuracies since I don’t have time for QA/QC. Or we could extend the deadline. Can you weigh in on what you’d prefer to see happen?”

        1. Sammie*

          Oh I wish I’d had you whispering in my ear when I was in exactly this position in an old job. I actually liked my boss but he did not want to hear ‘problems’. I was regularly in this OP’s situation and I never had a come back for ‘figure it out’. Until now.

    2. Anonymous today*

      I become the bane of everyone’s existence about a day before delivery becomes impossible. I start copying everyone all the way up the chain to make it very, very clear that if I haven’t received what I need by X, the deadline will not be met. And I repeat that until the necessary people get involved to get the thing done. In more functional environments, that shouldn’t be necessary, but if the higher ups default to making you eat the lost time, then making that extremely unpleasant for them can help.

    3. Jimming*

      There should be project managers in charge of keeping people on task and managing unexpected barriers and delays. That shouldn’t fall to you since you are involved in the last step of the project, not managing it from start to finish. It sounds like your company could use a good PM.

    4. Quinalla*

      Who is managing the overall process? Is there a project manager you can say this is minimum time I need to get my work done and get the project manager to push on the other people in the process and on the bosses on this. How is the schedule created? Do you all sit down and figure out how much time for each piece and then a due date is set or what? Someone has to hold those prior to you accountable and unless you are managing the whole process, you don’t have standing to do that.

      If no one is managing the whole process, maybe you offer to become that manager? Is that even feasible?

      I’m curious to get a little more info, my job always involves a lot of different people with some dependent and some independent work and all of it culminating in a final project and without a project manager holding everyone accountable and pushing back on due dates when needed it would be a nightmare!

    5. Master Bean Counter*

      You need a very public project chart that shows where the project sits, how long it’s been there, and how much time is needed to complete it. Color it green, yellow and red. Put names on it. When somebody gets into yellow territory ask them when they intend to have their part complete and attach the chart that shows they are the problem. When it turns red bug the hold up and your boss and/or their boss.

    6. Karen from Finance*

      I’m last in line at work! I don’t have a client-facing role so YMMV but I have a success story from this morning.

      This morning I had to present key 2019 forecast figures to the Board, but they were still making changes to the inputs EOD yesterday. So I made my presentation starting with a slide in the PowerPoint that stated “These figures include data as it was presented yesterday at 5.00 pm, when the model was run. The following changes were not included as they were received out of time and/or form: […]”. Then I made a huge point of showing all the work that goes into preparing my part and why I couldn’t wait until everything was included. This is important: I had a lot of backup from both my boss and grandboss (himself a Director).

      So they run through what were the things that weren’t included, and started discussing with the different responsible parties as to why. At the end of the meeting it was agreed that we will set a hard deadline, and that I will not be moving it. I will be working with the information that I have, when I have it. The delays in processes A B and C are to be handled by the people in charge of those areas. It’s not my job to pick up their slack, but it is my job to inform of any issues preventing me from doing my work.

      General notes:
      You want to involve the higher ups as soon as there are delays in the chain that you are aware of. Keep them posted and aware, escalate, escalate, escalate. You need them to see these delays. You can see in the open thread from about 2 weeks ago a post from me complaining about someone who never sends me his data. I have a success story there too: he finally did send it, with a retroactive check for all the months he had missed. This was possible because I have been a pain in the ass of the higher ups, copying them in all of my follow-ups.

      Now, if they ask me “do you think you’ll have the presentation by Wednesday?” I’ll no longer make excuses, I’ll jump straight to “I don’t think so because Jane won’t have her part until Tuesday” – let them deal with Jane themselves.

      For people who work with Project Managers, use them!

    7. montecristo1985*

      I’m currently dealing with this by being the squeaky wheel. As in eventually it is hopefully more annoying to put up with me constantly haranguing everyone and their bosses, so they just do the work on time. We shall see if it works.

    8. Piano Girl*

      It was my responsibility to prepare a report every month based on the houses we sold (I worked for a real estate developer). In order to do my report, I needed to have copies of all the home closings by the first of the following month. After a few months of missing a closing or making some other mistake, I asked to be included in the weekly closing list for all the developments. I offered to take on aspects of the process that would speed it along, and generally made a pest of myself until I verified that I had all the information I needed. By starting the process as soon as the previous month was closed, and spreading it out over the course of a few weeks, I was able to deliver my report on time.

    9. Gumby*

      Oh, memories.

      In my case higher ups were well aware that the 2 weeks my team had stated they needed to complete our part had been whittled down to about 4 days. On a regular basis. If we found a major problem in those 3 days they might (*might*) move the deadline. Otherwise we just did the best we could. It was software QA so not having time to fully do the job meant that more bugs got through to the public which… did not seem to bother people the way it did me.

      The best I could do most of the time was make sure we looked at the most important parts first and protect my team from “why didn’t you catch this?” I raised visibility with constantly reporting on the status (“3 days late getting it to us, meantime we started testing the incomplete version and have found the following problems”) but there really wasn’t anything else I ever figured out to do. It was about 50% why I wanted out of that type of job.

  21. Murphy*

    I’m having issues with my work (tldr my boss and others are basically not including or informing me about decisions related to the things I manage). Though I’ve spoken with my boss about it several times, he either doesn’t understand or doesn’t care. My husband thinks I should talk to someone else, like HR or another manager. I said I don’t think it’s an HR issue and I feel like there isn’t anyone else to speak to. The head of our office just retired and the #2 in our office was promoted to #1. There is no #2 (this position would be my grandboss). I think it’s inappropriate to talk to someone else at my boss’s level about issues with my boss, since it’s not their business. And the recently promoted head of our office isn’t someone that I find to be approachable. I think he’d consider this issue far beneath him and wouldn’t be of any help. Any suggestions?

    1. Susie Q*

      I would try meeting with your boss and ask him how he wants you to handle your responsibilities without this information. I would try saying something like “In the past, I needed this information to make this decision. However, there are cases where I am not receiving this information so I’m unable to make this decision. How would you like me to proceed?”.

      I would not go to HR. I would check with your boss to see if the withholding of information is being done for specific reasons like he wants you to change your decision making workflow or its special information like PII that they can’t share with everyone anymore. If he’s just being a noncaring ass, it might be time to look for a new job.

      1. Murphy*

        Yeah, I agree about not going to HR, but talking to my boss clearly isn’t working and I don’t know what else to do.

    2. Coffee Bean*

      How have you talked to your boss about it? Have you explicitly spelled out how this is impacting your day to day and what then can’t get done because you are too busy trying to figure out what has changed?

      I would use a script like:
      “Without being in the loop about changes that get made to X, I am unable to do Y (or if you are able but it doubles the amount of time spell that out). I see a few solutions to this. We could have a weekly one-on-one where we review any decisions, like ABC, that have been made throughout the week. Or you can cc me on emails for anything related to what I manage, not for me to chime in, but as an FYI.”

      1. Murphy*

        It’s more that I don’t have enough work to do, and then I’m being left out of the work that is happening in X and Y projects, not invited to meetings, not informed about changes, and then barely kept in the loop, even though I’m supposed to be managing X and Y . So I’ll go to a meeting about a Y project and find that it wasn’t the first meeting, or we’ll be going over a proposal that Z team sent out to everyone but me and Z team doesn’t even do Y, so I don’t understand why they’re running things.

        My only solution is for them to actually invite me to meetings and keep me informed on decisions if they’re above my pay grade, which I’ve asked for.

        1. Coffee Bean*

          Oh man, yeah that is hard.

          So after knowing more, I think you have two options, both will involve talking to your boss about what she thinks your job is.

          I am thinking the talk with your boss will be along the lines of: “I was hired to do X and Y projects, as of right now I am not currently focused on those. I would like to make sure that I spend the majority of my time doing those projects I was hired for. Do you, agree that is where I should be spending my time?”

          1. She says “yes, you should be spending your time on X and Y projects.”
          If you want that work, then you may need to be a bit more assertive and just insert yourself into it. She has said you are supposed to be managing X and Y projects, so go to your boss with more ideas and input on what you would like to do/change/see out of those projects. If you are near your boss and overhear conversations that are happening that pertain to X and Y literally stand up and go be apart of that conversation.

          2. She says “No, you should be focused on A and B”
          Then you can take a bit to think about if A and B projects interest you. If so great, you have work that interests you. If not, then you are able to push back and say something like “I was hired for X and Y, and I don’t want to stray too far from projects like that as it was a big reason why I accepted this position”.

          If you have been in the role a while then for any “accepted this position”, you could say “continue to be excited about work” or something along those lines (maybe instead changing the script to be about future goals even).

        2. Gumby*

          Is there someone else that can invite you to the meetings? Like if you make it more widely known that you do work on X and Y could you convince other people to include you or speak up at least in those meetings to say “hey, shouldn’t Murphy be here?”

          I definitely depend *a lot* on one particular person in my office – who is not my manager – to say “you should go talk to Gumby about this.” Weekly if not daily. (Then again, my manager is in a different department and extremely hands off about my work. Extremely. I kind of suspect he has only the vaguest idea of what I do. So it’s a different situation all around.)

  22. Am I being rude?*

    I have 2 people at a partnering company that regularly send me cryptic, incomplete sentences with customer service inquiries without any information to identify which order or customer they’re talking about. I can normally figure it out since we’re still a small company, but I’m so fed up that I’ve started (politely) playing dumb, asking for the client name or order number. I think this is okay, but I’m worried I’m actually coming across as rude. This is in email, for what it’s worth. What do you all think?

    1. Havarti*

      It’s not rude to write back things like “Hi, I’m happy to help! Please let me know the name of the client and the order number so I can look into it. Thanks!” I always try to cultivate an appearance of being cheerful but slightly stupid in order to do my job with the minimum amount of fuss.

      1. Murphy*

        I get stuff like this all the time. This is pretty much my approach too. I look at it like a “Help me help you by giving me all the information to avoid confusion.”

    2. Anonysand*

      Honestly, I don’t think you’re being rude at all. If it were me, I would send both of them an email that says something along the lines of “Unfortunately I can’t process inquiries unless they include details A, B, and C. Please send me that information in addition to the request and I will process accordingly. Thanks!”

    3. wait wait don't freeze me*

      There’s a reason those lists go around all the time of “translating” business speak into common words. You are not being rude to say “hi, Carl, can you please send me the client’s name and order number so I can look them up in the system”, even though both you AND Carl know that what you’re really saying is “ffs just give me the information the first time”.

    4. Namast'ay in Bed*

      I think for the most part that as long as you are cheerful and polite about it, you should be good.

      I toooootally get the inclination to play dumb, I’ve certainly had moments where I’m like “I COULD figure out what you’re referring to, but why should I waste my time filling in for your half-assery?” Assuming you’re not being annoyingly pedantic about it, including a “Could you confirm the order you’re referring to? I want to make sure I’m looking at the right thing for you. Thanks!” will cover any hint of rudeness that might be perceived.

      1. Llellayena*

        Oh this most of my job while a building is under construction!
        Contractor: can we use product X instead of the Y in your drawings?
        Me: does product X meet the performance requirements we list in the 200 page book we provided you? (Since you’re required by contract to provide the comparison)
        Contractor: uhh…..
        My boss: just look it up so we don’t hold everything up.

    5. Snark*

      I don’t think it’s rude at all. I’d argue for being a little more crisp and prescriptive, actually!

      “Hi Dweezil,

      Without the order number and client name, it’s not clear what this is about. Can you supply that information with inquiries you refer to me?



    6. Temperance*

      That’s really weird. I would just ask for the client number or order number rather than play detective. It’s either a weird power play or they aren’t great at email.

    7. Asenath*

      Just politely ask for the missing information. I get so, so many incomplete requests that sometimes I find it a challenge to remain polite, but really, I can’t do my job without essential information.

    8. Marthooh*

      First, stop trying to figure out their cryptic messages on your own. Every time someone sends an incomplete message, ask for the missing information: “Please send me the order number and the customer’s name.” That’s a perfectly polite request, or use Havarti’s wording. Do it every time they forget so they get in the habit and you don’t all have to go through this nonsense.

    9. ISuckAtUserNames*

      Since it sounds like it’s the same two people who repeatedly do this, it’s not rude at all to go back and ask for more details.

      For people who are generally good about it but forgot, I’ll do a little more legwork, but I’ve gotten in the habit of responding to people who don’t provide basic customer info rather than trying to figure it out myself because a) ain’t nobody got time for that all day, every day b) it usually only takes a couple times before people get better about it.

      The worst are people who say “I have a client who has this issue!” and they screen shot the smallest possible area around the error, so I have no chance to figure out which client, what they were doing when they got the error, etc. Training people on how to submit good service & support tickets gets tiring after awhile, but less so than having to figure it out every time or go back and forth 20 times to pull the info out bit by bit.

  23. Did you read the email?*

    Hello everyone! I’ve been having a problem lately with my supervisor not fully reading my emails and then trying to resolve them, and I’m not sure what to do. The full story is that I work in higher education in a student facing role. Our director is a little over a year into their position, and this is their first supervisory role. There are times where a student situation comes up that is complicated enough that I need my director’s input on to resolve. They have requested that these things come to them in email as much as possible, as opposed to walking into their office to ask questions. Fair enough, as I understand they have a lot on their plate! I try to keep these emails as clear and concise as possible, but sometimes the relevant info I need to include exceeds a few sentences. I don’t think my emails are the problem, because my supervisor has expressed that I have excellent written communication skills. What I’m finding is that I will send the email, and my supervisor will either try to answer the question without fully reading the email (so they miss an important detail that makes their answer not fit the situation or they answer the wrong question altogether) or they will come to me in person which usually results in me explaining everything I put in the email in person. So an example of what’s happening is like this:

    Me (via email): “Gregory emailed me today saying that he was dropped from all of his classes, but he paid his tuition bill on time. He has already talked to Department X and they weren’t able to help. Can you take a look at his file and tell me if I’m missing something?”

    My director (via email): “Did he pay his tuition bill on time? He needs to talk to Department X”


    My director (in person): “So what’s going on with Gregory?”

    Again, I understand that directors have very busy schedules and they receive a lot of email. But my director is the one requesting that I send these situations via email. It’s a bit frustrating since I almost always end up explaining what’s going on multiple times before the situation gets resolved. One time, there was so much back and forth between me and my boss that they student ended up resolving their own situation in the time it took me to get them an answer (which I feel like doesn’t reflect well on me or our office)! I’m also worried that they won’t pick up on subtle hints, like me saying “as I said in the email…” Suggestions for how to approach this with them? They do kind of have a bit of an ego when it comes to receiving feedback that processes they’ve implemented are not quite working.

    1. Susie Q*

      I would go to your director and say “How would you like me to email information to you in the future about problems? In the past, I’ve done XYZ and I’m worried I am not effectively communicating all the important information that you need to know. I want to make sure that I am communicating in a way that meets your needs.”

      1. Did you read the email?*

        I worry that if I use your script and I don’t bring up that they are asking me things I’ve already communicated (unless that’s what you were referring to in the “I’ve done XYZ” part) that they are just going to tell me that my written communication is good (which is feedback I’ve already gotten from them). I think that’s where my confusion is, I’m getting excellent feedback on my written communication skills from my supervisor, yet they still seem to be missing details that I communicate in the emails. I guess how to I add to that script “it seems like you are not reading my emails based on your follow up questions” in a gentle way?

        1. valentine*

          Your supervisor prefers in-person. I can’t think why they’re asking for one thing and doing another. This would drive me up the wall.

    2. IL JimP*

      maybe try bullet points instead of sentences and put the ask first followed by saying the details are below

      1. Did you read the email?*

        So using the example I gave above, do you think something like this would be more effective?

        “Gregory was dropped from his classes, and I’m not sure why. Can you look at his file to see if there’s something I’m missing? I’ve already ruled out the following:
        1) Gregory paid his tuition bill on time
        2) Gregory contacted department X and they could not identify the problem”

        1. Master Bean Counter*

          I think bullets point and being even more succinct. I just read Gregory three times and I’m wondering why? This is not what I should be wondering.

          Here’s where I’d go with it:
          -Gregory got dropped from all of his classes
          -Tuition was paid in full ad on time
          -X department can’t see a problem
          Please review his file for problems and advise

          If he wants more detail he will ask.

          1. Did you read the email?*

            Tbh, I just typed that quickly. I could have typed “he” instead of the name again. I’ll admit that one is on me :)

            1. As Close As Breakfast*

              All bullet points like this would be the way I would go. It’s the easiest to scan, which is what it sounds like your boss is doing.

              For example, I literally didn’t get that Gregory had been dropped from all of his classes until I read the list Master Bean Counter gave. Up until that moment I’d been reading it as Gregory had dropped all of his classes. Close… but WAY different!

      2. irene adler*

        I’m not gonna read the email contents unless I understand- at the start- why I’m reading it. I just don’t have the patience.

        And paragraphs- especially large ones- not even gonna try and read them. Bullet points are SO much easier!

        1. Did you read the email?*

          I can try this, but I’m going to be honest I’m still skeptical that it’s going to work. Because I can see my boss stopping after reading “Gregory was dropped from his classes” and asking me if I did the two things I’ve already listed that I did (as these are the next logical questions we ask in a situation like this). Or worse, seeing that I emailed him about Gregory and then coming to ask me about Gregory. Because that’s what they do right now. I’ll give it a try, because I can see how it has potential to work.

          1. Lala*

            If that’s the case, it might be worth one semi-snarky “As per the email I just sent, Greg did pay his tuition on time and has already contacted department X, which did not resolve the issue. What should the next step be?”

            It sounds like your boss is assuming you’re not checking on these things before you run them by him; it might be worth having a talk explaining to him that if you’re emailing him about something like this, he should trust that you’ve already checked the routine stuff.

          2. Tara S.*

            You could try the old journalism method: most important info first, second most important info second, etc. (called the inverted pyramid style, used so that if you were calling or sending over the wire, you had the best chance of getting important stuff communicated before the line got cut.)

            For you, the ask is the most important, the action item. This should be brief and on it’s own line. Then any details in a separate paragraph, bulleted if at all possible. I like your example from above for bullets, maybe just move the ask “Could you look into our student Gregory Smith’s file for me?” into a line by itself. Also, if you can be any more specific with the ask (“could you give me Greg’s file so I can look into this”, etc.), that’s preferable (though not always possible).

            Also….sometimes people are just like this. It’s annoying, and inefficient, but sometimes people just won’t slow down and you don’t have the authority to insist they do. It could definitely be worth it to sit down with your boss about how you feel like you could be doing better on email for them, cite the examples where it seemed like they didn’t pick up on the details before responding, and ask if there’s anything you could be doing. It might nudge them to read more carefully, it might do nothing, but it could be worth asking.

          3. Weegie*

            Try starting with what you want your director to do:

            ‘Can you please look at Gregory’s file to identify why he was dropped from his classes?
            1) He paid his tuition bill on time
            2) He contacted department X and they could not identify the problem’

            You might also try establishing with your director a keyword or phrase that you will use to preface such email requests, indicating that you’ve already taken all initial steps and now need their help. Something like ‘Intervention Request’, or words to that effect?

            1. Alianora*

              Yep, starting with the action items is the most effective way I’ve found to get people to do what you need them to do. These other suggestions that start with “Gregory was dropped from his classes” would be good if the director was reading the whole email. But since they aren’t, the words that they do read need to really count.

          4. Camellia*

            Change the emphasis:

            “Gregory paid his tuition on time and was STILL dropped from his classes. NO help from Department X. How do we fix this?”

            I also use attention-getters like CAPS, as shown above, and highlighting. In this example I would probably highlight the ‘NO help’ sentence for good measure.

        2. Delphine*

          That’s a terrible way to work. Bullet points might be easier, but it doesn’t take much more energy to read a paragraph. Not having the patience isn’t a good excuse for making other people’s work more difficult.

    3. M*

      Strong second for IL JimP’s suggestion of dotpoints, and will also add:

      I suspect this will be less frustrating if you take a bit of time to put yourself in their shoes in a more granular sense. You’ve said they’re really busy – and it’s likely if they’re a student services director that they’re getting requests like yours from a large number of people, so even if you’re sending only a couple of requests, it can really, really quickly turn into a flood of questions. As a result: people in those kind of roles often *do* have to triage a lot – i.e. not dwell on unpicking complicated questions, start with the easy answers if there might be any easy answers, move on to the things they know are big and hard problems.

      So, I’d structure your emails to meet that. The dotpoint draft you suggested in reply to IL JimP is a great start, but I’d also think about ways you can make your emails *super* formulaic – the same information in the same spots every time. e.g. if you regularly have situations involving dropped classes, have a proforma email ready to go checking off all the usual questions. Also, always give a really clear action you’re looking for from them, and be explicit (“tell me if I’m missing something” is really vague, and primes them to approach a reply from the assumption that you might be missing an obvious checklist item). So, for example:

      “Gregory was dropped from his classes, and I’ve been unable to solve the problem. We’ve ruled out the following possible solutions:
      1) Gregory paid his tuition bill on time
      2) Gregory contacted department X and they could not identify the problem
      There’s nothing left that I can try, so I’m escalating this to you: can you take a look at his file and [if there’s specific system admin powers they have that you don’t, list the ones you want them to try here, otherwise go with something more like “see if there are any non-standard options you can think of”].”

      In other words: dot-point what you’ve done, keep it formulaic so that they can easily see that you’ve done all the usual things, and be very, very explicit about what you’re asking for.

      People shy away from this instinctively because it feels really impersonal/borderline rude, but genuinely: with a busy manager receiving large volumes of minor tasks from staff, it’s the thing they need from you.

    4. Workerbee*

      I’ve also used the point/number method with persons whom I know check out after the first 12 words of an email. Fortunately, those people seem to also not worry about proper salutations or even “Hello,” so I skip over those.

      Lately I’ve begun bolding sections as well and bullet pointing even if there’s only a single line:

      (Bolded word) Issue:
      (bullet point) Gregory was dropped from his classes.

      (Bolded) Details:
      (bullet point) Gregory paid his tuition bill on time
      (bullet point) Gregory contacted department X and they could not identify the problem

      (Bolded) What I need from you:
      (bullet point) Can you look at his file today to see if there’s something I’m missing?

      Mind you, sometimes there are just those people that need something told to them three exhaustive times before the lightbulb goes on.

      1. Did you read the email?*

        I feel like this one might have some potential to work. I think the next time I have to send one of these requests, I will try to follow this format!

        1. Dr. Anonymous*

          I would also even tell him you noticed he doesn’t always have time to read your messages in detail so you’re trying THIS NEW FORMAT so he can see at a glance what you’ve already tried and your hoping this will save you both time. Like, shoe him the first email and say, “here’s the name, here’s the problem, here’s what I’ve already tried, and here’s where I’m asking you to do a specific thing.”

    5. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

      I wouldn’t worry about it if your boss comes to you ala

      “My director (in person): “So what’s going on with Gregory?””

      I’ll do this to my employees some times. Usually it’s when I think there’s more to the story, I think I will want more detail or have questions, or sometimes as an excuse to just to interact with my team.

      And yes, I’ve been guilty of jumping to the first example. It’s nothing that you’re doing wrong (although I will recommend the bullet point format) it’s just that I am either distracted while reading the email and only register the first bit. Again…not to much you can do about that.

      If you get in loop with them like your example where the student fixed their own problem. That’s the time that you need to have the face to face. Yes it sounds like they’ve requested stuff by email, but that sounds like it churned too long.

      1. June First*

        Ugh, my boss is like this. She has signed and approved contracts with her name misspelled, so it’s kind of a running joke.
        Bullet points work. Also, if your director is in the office, stop by or call and say, “Hey, I just sent you an email, hope you can help me find a solution…” It seems redundant, but if you are working on deadline that sometimes helps. It might also be more proactive than waiting for him to respond and eliminate back and forth while still using his preferred method (email).

        1. IL JimP*

          just make sure you don’t beat the email to their door :)

          That drives me batty when my team does that, give me at least a few secs to read your email before showing up

    6. Quinalla*

      I would not be concerned about him coming to talk to you instead of emailing back. That is his prerogative and it makes sense for him to read or start reading it and realize that he may need some back and forth and choose to deal with it in person. I think that is a non-issue.

      For him not reading the full email, I would ask if there is a better way to communicate because you noticed that he’s not always seeing all the relevant information (give a recent example). If he has no suggestions, I’d suggest bullet points and/or distilling information down or just coming to talk to him first if you are sure it will take awhile or maybe pinging him to see when he is free next and then chat? Bullet points will likely help if it is more than a few sentences and if there is a bunch of relevant info, distill it down and put further info at the end and refer to it in the distilled version.

    7. CaptainLaura*

      Is it possible that your supervisor is using email as a sort of placeholder reminder to discuss the issue with you when he has the time?

      I can understand not wanting to be interrupted by questions requiring research if he’s in the middle of another task. It’s annoying and extra work for you though, which is unfortunate.

    8. Nesprin*

      Sounds like email is the problem- any chance you can push back and chat when a complex scenario arises? How often does this sort of thing happen? if <1/mo I would call or stop by

      1. Did you read the email?*

        So I have done that before, but a lot of times I’ll start explaining what’s going on and my boss will say “can you email this to me and I’ll look into it?” I personally would prefer to just get the answer in person. Which then starts the cycle of not reading the email thoroughly.

        1. valentine*

          Are you concise in person? Would they still ask for email if you said, “Can you look at Gregory’s file? The system unenrolled him and X don’t know why”?

    9. Argh!*

      Bullet points for details, or a timeline, & highlighting for the verb.

      Gregory’s problem
      1/3 — Paid Bill
      1/20 — Received notice his classes were dropped
      1/22 — Talked to XYZ Department
      1/24 — Emailed me
      1/25 — I don’t see a problem in his file
      [Did I miss something in his file?]

      Another option is Outlook stalking your boss, then emailing between meetings & catching them at their desk a few minutes after the email with a question that draws attention to it, like “Oh, I forgot to add to my email about Gregory — if he can’t stay in Econ 345 he won’t be able to graduate on time.”

  24. Some Sort of Management Consultant*

    I posted in the open thread a few weeks ago wondering if there was a way to reply to constructive criticism without sounding dismissive and/or rude. fposte among others gave me good advice (thank you!)

    I have a very long rambly update because things took an unexpected turn yesterday (in a good way!)

    I tend to think I have my brain weasels under pretty good control and that I’m reasonably realistic about my strengths and weaknesses. It turns out I might have a little way to go…

    TL;DR because brevity isn’t my strong suit: I thought something at work was a serious performance issue but it was mostly an anxiety and guilt spiral.

    Before Christmas, I had an “end-of-project” feedback session with my project manager and while he was very positive, he also brought up the fact that it had happened several times that I’d not been at the client site and hadn’t answered my phone, or been logged in to our IM. It was completely valid feedback, and I didn’t say much in the meeting other than that I agreed and knew it was a problem and would work on it. I didn’t want to make excuses in the meeting, as I really feel I’d been unprofessional. You know in reality shows like Top Model and MasterChef, when someone makes a mistake and then tries to argue with the criticism? It’s never a pretty picture. Right then, I didn’t want to seem petty or dismissive by excusing myself.

    The long explanation is that I have a tendency to shut myself away or go off the radar when I’m overwhelmed. I do it in my personal life as well. It’s a vicious exhaustion-avoidance-guilt cycle. I also genuinely need more time to recharge after intense periods than others (it’s like a social or deadline hangover). It’s gotten better since I started ADHD meds but I spent the entire fall doing work that’s been very draining for me.

    But I realize I can’t just disappear for days and not be in touch at all. I’ve gotten similar feedback before, but in more general terms: “please signal earlier if you can’t make a deadline”. Given this, I was totally prepared for a serious conversation with my boss about my ways of working and my professionalism.

    Yesterday, I had a “quarter summary” with my boss. Our bosses see the feedback entered into our system, so she was aware of this thing. I did the only grown up thing I could think of and brought it up as soon as possible and acknowledged what I saw as the seriousness of it, and a few tools I’ve come up with to prevent it.

    My boss looked somewhat perplexed. She asked me whether I thought the problem was that my project manager thought I was tw: negative self talk irresponsible and unprofessional. Yes, I said. Of course.

    My boss then, very gently, explained that wasn’t the case at all. My project managersimply didn’t understand what had been going on. He had no idea what had been happening, if I had been ok, and I’d not offered him any explanation.

    She then asked me if I realized it is totally fine for me to need more recharging time than most, work from home more, turn off my phone or log out of our chat system. It is not a problem, but I just need to loop any higher-ups in before. She suggested I bring it up at the start of every new project and explain that I probably will need more alone time than others. She knows I have ADD and suggested I mention this as well, just to give any managers a bit more context.

    She also mentioned that she (and many others) block off time in their calendars to be able to work undisturbed.

    I knew that. It’s just that it’s so ingrained in me that I’m tw:negative self talk “lazy” or not pulling my weight that what she saw as a completely normal thing became a huge failing in my mind. I do procrastinate and avoid stuff in an unhealthy way, but it usually spirals out of control when I realize I need a timeout, feel guilty about it, hide away at home, try to conceal it and feel even more guilty. I often feel so much less productive and efficient than all my other colleagues (hello imposter syndrome!) that anything I do that’s out of the ordinary must be bad.

    And here she was, telling me that not only is it ok for me to do it, she actively encouraged it.
    And she made sure to tell me several times that I’m doing REALLY well, that I’ve developed SO much over the last few months and that my performance is more than up to par. She also pointed out that I’d rated myself significantly lower in our evaluation tool than any of my feedback providers did.

    Long story short, I’ve been so anxious about all this and it turns out I misread the entire situation and didn’t give my bosses or coworkers the credit they deserve.

      1. fposte*

        It’s a trigger warning–some forums request advance warning on such stuff and obscure the relevant text.

      2. Tara S.*

        TW = trigger warning, or sometimes CW = content warning. Often used forewarn readers of sensitive or possibly traumatic subjects (e.g. tw: eating disorder, cw: abuse, etc.) so people can choose to opt out/not read.

      3. Some Sort of Management Consultant*

        Shoot, I forgot to edit that out. I posted a version of this on a site that requires trigger warnings in that particular way.

    1. fposte*

      I’m sorry you got into a spiral, but that is really great news! Is it worth saving your comment here someplace where you can check it in future if you start negatively assuming again?

    2. Lily Rowan*

      That sounds like a great meeting! It’s amazing how much communication can resolve, even when you think the “real issue” wouldn’t be fixed just by talking about it.

    3. Quinalla*

      That’s so great that your boss is being so actively supportive of you!

      And if you are up for suggestions, you might check out if you haven’t already The Highly Sensitive Person by Dr. Elaine Aron as you sound a lot like me with needing alone and recharge time especially when overwhelmed and this book really helped me put myself in perspective. If not relevant, feel free to ignore, but I hate to pass up an opportunity to share if it helps someone like it helped me.

  25. Mimmy*

    I am going to a conference this coming week and I have a serious case of Imposter Syndrome!!!

    I am pursuing ADA certification, so I’m attending the conference so I can complete the required credits to sit for the certification exam. From my (admittedly rudimentary) research, it seems a lot of people with this certification work at a higher level than I do currently. I think I have the potential to reach higher and I have a good foundational knowledge of the ADA, but this is all new territory for me, and I’m so scared to tell these attendees that I’m essentially a newbie!

    Tips and scripts would be really helpful.

    (P.S. That is, if this shutdown doesn’t screw up my flights!!!)

    1. Legal Rugby*

      Which conference? I do ADA work, and I just went to my first ATIXA conference, and by the end of the day I was convinced I knew nothing at all!

      1. Mimmy*

        It’s an ADA Coordinator conference that’s in Orlando on Monday and Tuesday. It’s put on by the Great Plains ADA Center.

    2. Me*

      Everyone starts some where. Most people loves sharing knowledge with those up and coming. None of us work or live forever so someone always needs to take our place. Anyone who doesn’t get that and is rude, well that’s because they are an inherent jerk. No reflection on you at all.

      If you have the ability to meet the requirements to sit for the exam, then you are qualified! If you need more experience or higher level work, than that would be the requirement.

      Go do the awesome things!

    3. Ranon*

      The end result of this certification is that you help educate people/ communicate about ADA things, correct? So likely the people at this conference are the sort of people who enjoy communicating with and educating others! If I had to venture a guess I’d expect you might have a much warmer/ enthusiastic reception than you might be comfortable with rather than colder than you would like!

      Own your newness, ask for help and advice, talk to people about how they got where they are- I bet most folks will be happy to talk your ear off.

  26. Captain Vegetable (Crunch Crunch Crunch)*

    (I will try to keep this as neutral as possible by substituting dinosaurs for political parties.)

    My work intersects with a sector of the government whose employees are at work, but not getting paid. This week was the first time I’d seen one of my favorite of these employees and while we were chatting the subject of the shutdown naturally came up.

    I expressed sympathy. He said, “It’s not your fault, unless you vote Allosaurus*.” Well… I do lean toward Allosaurus over Diplodocus. I wasn’t thinking and said, “I vote Allosaurus-it still isn’t my fault.” Then someone needed his attention and the matter didn’t escalate. I haven’t seen him since.

    I feel bad that it got awkward, but I also think it was not a great thing for him to say… but I also can appreciate that this is a very stressful time for him. I guess next time I see him, pretend like nothing ever happened?

    *And no, he did not say that with a twinkle in his eye.

      1. Lilysparrow*


        You brought up a highly politicized topic that affects him directly.

        He has Opinions about it. He’s entitled to them. You have different Opinions. You’re also entitled to them.

        That is democracy.

        If you don’t want to hear people’s political opinions, don’t bring them up.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        I’d go with pretend nothing happened. I do this often enough, it’s easier if I like the person. If he mentions it again, just regroup and say, “You are among my favorite people here. I am sorry you are working with no pay. That is all I meant.”

    1. Youth*

      Ugh. Not a fan of political parties and therefore not a fan of assigning characteristics to people based on how they choose to vote.

      I think you’re safe to ignore this, but if he brings it up, you can say something like,”I apologize for even mentioning it earlier–I actually don’t want to discuss political views at work. I do hope things get better for you.” And yeah, that wasn’t a great comment for him to make at work, especially when he didn’t know your political views.

      1. Approval is optional*

        I don’t think it’s assigning characteristics based on voting decision; it’s more assuming if you vote for A then you support the philosophy behind the policy A is promulgating/the strategy A has put in place etc. And maybe it wasn’t a ‘great’ comment, but maybe he has a right to be not great right now. This is a man who isn’t being paid, but is still being expected to serve the public, because of certain actions by certain political parties/figures – politics is impacting his life and his work in a major way, so perhaps he has the right to have thoughts, and say things, about people who elected the party/person he believes is depriving him, and possibly his family, of money to buy food with, pay rent/mortgage with and so on.

        1. Youth*

          Eh, but people have their reasons for voting for things, and it’s not always because they agree with every decision of a particular party. That’s why I’m against political parties–they put things in packages that don’t always go well together. Maybe you agree with A but not B but this part of A is really going to affect you if it doesn’t go a certain way, so that’s what you go for. It’s frustrating to not have more flexible choices.

          I’ve also learned in the last few years that it’s a luxury to make voting decisions according only to the dictates of your conscience. Not everyone is free to do that, for various reasons.