my boss asked me to mediate with her and my coworkers, a detective showed up at my job, and more

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

1. My manager asked me to mediate between her and my coworkers

I’ve been at my company for about a year and in the time there’s been a lot of turnover. My former manager left around the same time we hired Jane at a level above me. Jane was quickly promoted into the role of manager, which felt fast but was mainly due to her great past experience and the need to fill the manager role. She has never managed a team before, but seemed eager to learn.

In the past few months, things have gotten really messy. She’s very clear about the fact that she’s overwhelmed and there’s a lot of work to be done and she often falls short or misses things. One team member, Nora, is very blunt to Jane daily about these problems. She often calls her out in meetings if she can tell what Jane is saying is a little poorly thought out, and she frequently pushes back when she feels Jane isn’t responding to emails or issues in a timely manner. Nora is someone I have a great personal and professional relationship with.

Last week, Jane called me into a conference room and opened up to me about how she feels Nora is “bullying her” and making her job as a manager impossible. She told me that she sees the way I get along with Nora and wants me to mediate between the two of them. I was out of office for two weeks and she said while I was gone “things fell apart” and it made her realize she needs me to be here to help “control the energy of the team” and make sure everyone is getting along. She asked me if I could start encouraging people to be nicer to her, and also to mediate for her and be the “middle man” between employee complaints and her, rather than her having to hear them 1:1 from the rest of the team.

I’m not sure what to do here. I feel like she’s asking me to either co-manage, in that she’d handle the actual work and I’d handle the interpersonal stuff, or, honestly, spy for her. Nora is my peer and I now feel in a very weird spot where I feel that I’m supposed to be “managing her attitude” to make Jane’s job easier. Any advice on how to handle this? Or am I in the wrong and is this a normal thing to expect of one of your employees who happens to have a bit of a sunnier attitude than the others?

Yeah, that’s not appropriate. It would be one thing if Jane had said, “You seem to really understand my goals with X and Y, while I’ve had trouble conveying those to the rest of the team in a way they understand. I’d be grateful if you could share your perspective with the them if you see an opening to do that.” That’s fine. But she’s asking you to do way more than that — she’s asking you to take on a ton of emotional labor and hassle. Being the translator between her and the rest of your team (to prevent her from having to hear from them directly! good god!) is not a small thing. That’s a major role with major stress, and if you were going to do it you should be compensated for it, certainly in title and probably in pay.

But it’s not even appropriate for her to ask that, even if you did have the right title.

Because she’s a new manager, I’m assuming she’s not at a super senior level where it might make sense to have layers in between her and the rest of the team. She’s basically asking you to do the parts of her job she finds hard.

I would say this to Jane: “I thought about your request the other day. I wouldn’t feel comfortable mediating between you and Nora, since you’re my boss, and I don’t think my job gives me the standing to do the kind of complaint intake or culture shaping that you were talking about. I think that’s really got to come from someone with formal authority. I’m happy to share my perspective with the rest of the team when it seems like it would be helpful, but I think that’s the limit of what I can do from my position.”

And if you have any rapport with Jane’s boss, it might be worth discreetly letting that person know what Jane has asked of you. It’s a huge glaring flag that Jane desperately needs closer guidance from above.

2. My boss won’t say good morning to me

I’m a new supervisor at a medical tech company. I started about three months ago and I do like my boss. She is nice, but I noticed lately that when I come in in the mornings and she sees me she does not speak to me or say good morning. The first few weeks of me starting, I would go to her office and say hi, and follow up on any work related things. I also go to my staff and say good morning, how are you doing?, etc. I have always done that at my previous jobs as well. If I don’t say anything to my boss she will just pass by my office and not say a word. I feel kind of weird about this, but should I not worry about it?

Yep, you shouldn’t worry about it. Some people make a point of saying “good morning,” and some people don’t. Those who don’t are sometimes just already deep in work mode in their heads, or just don’t feel there’s much value in that particular ritual.

As long as you’re getting what you need from your boss in other areas (clear expectations, feedback, etc.), you shouldn’t worry about this at all.

3. A detective showed up at my job on a day I had called in sick

Last week, I woke up with a terrible cold and called into work. I was curled up whisper-moaning in self pity and watching food videos on YouTube when my supervisor called me from her personal cell phone. She informed me that a detective had showed up at my work and wanted to speak to me about a potentially violent individual who may or may not own a gun.

I was totally confused and asked her for more information but she didn’t seem to have much more. She gave me the detective’s contact information and told me that he wanted to speak to me.

I got in touch with the detective and it turned out to be a misunderstanding. Without getting into too much detail, law enforcement had linked me to an individual I don’t know who had made some violent threats and they were trying to contact any leads before anything else happened. After hashing things out, I told the detective that the optics weren’t great for me, that I was coincidentally out of the office when they showed up to my work, and that the whole thing looked suspicious. The detective said that if I wanted to put my boss in touch with him to clear up any misunderstanding, he would be happy to speak with her.

When I went back to work the next day, I tried to tell my boss what happened, but she wasn’t very receptive. Not in a bad way — the culture of my work is very much “no questions asked about situations outside of work”, and while I appreciate this sentiment most of the time, I really wanted a chance to explain to my boss that I was safe, that there wasn’t anything to worry about, and that it was a misunderstanding. But instead of having that conversation, she just kept repeating variations of “I don’t need to know” and “this doesn’t change anything and you’re not in any trouble.”

I know I don’t need to give her more information, but the fact is that I WANT to. How do I get her to hear me out? Or is this something I should just let go?

Let it go! I understand your impulse to make sure she knows things are fine, but you’ve tried, she’s told you it’s unnecessary, and it doesn’t warrant pursuing it further.

If the detective had shown up and said he was concerned that you might be in trouble with the law, I’d be more inclined to advise that you be more assertive about clearing your name with your boss. But your good name was never clouded here, and it’s okay to just move on.

Read an update to this letter here.

4. Reporting someone without looking like you’re retaliating

I was suspended from my job for eight days due to cursing a coworker (subordinate). He is not directly under me but my title is higher than his. I know of instances of offenses of his that, if reported, could lead to his suspension or termination. How do I go forward with reporting those without it looking like retaliation?

It would look like retaliation because it would be retaliation. If you weren’t moved to report the issues previously but you report them now, after this, that’s retaliation; you’re saying “I want him in trouble because he got me in trouble.”

If the offenses are truly serious, you’re going to need to explain why you didn’t feel obligated to report them earlier.

5. Interviewing for a job you’re not sure you want

Is it bad form to apply to a job you are not sure you want? I have recently been contacted by recruiters regarding positions that are very intriguing to me. Both would require a move, one to a different country. I have not been looking to leave my current job or relocating, but these opportunities look too good to pass up. I feel like I owe it to myself to at least consider them, but I don’t want to waste the time of the hiring institutions. I have no problem contacting a recruiter for more information or doing a phone/Skype interview, but what about being flown in for an interview and put up in a hotel? I understand that falls under the cost of doing business, but it feels a little unethical to proceed unless I am pretty sure I would be willing to make the move. At what point in the interview process should you be certain that you would make the move if the position is offered?

At the point where you’re accepting the offer.

If you’re seriously interested in the job and you’re seriously considering making the move, it’s fine for you to go ahead and let them fly you in. You’re never under any obligation to take a job (local or non-local).

If you were pretty sure you wouldn’t make the move, that’s a different situation. But if you’re genuinely open to it and can imagine saying yes, go ahead and do the interview and learn more. For a lot of companies, part of the point of flying in a non-local candidate is for them to see the area so they can get more data about whether it’s something they want to do or not.

{ 393 comments… read them below }

  1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#4, Alison is 100% right on this. You’re not talking about instances that occurred after you were disciplined. You’re talking about reporting incidents that, prior to you receiving discipline, you did not feel were report-worthy. If you wouldn’t have done it before, it’s not reasonable to dig up old dirt to strike back at someone. And it sounds like that’s what you’re suggesting, which is the literal definition of retaliation.

    It may help to take a step back and reevaluate what you would have done if someone who had no relationship to your discipline had acted as this guy did (prior to the cursing incident). If you wouldn’t have reported them, you shouldn’t report this guy.

    1. Someone Else*

      I’m wondering if #4 for some reason assumed it’d only be retaliation if they made up or misconstrued whatever they were reporting, rather than realizing even if it’s true, if you didn’t feel the need to report it when it happened, but you do now, that’s still retaliation.

      1. Arctic*

        I think OP knows it can still be retaliation if it’s true. It’s why she is trying to frame it in a way that would prevent that perception.

        1. RUKiddingMe*

          Yup. It’s retaliation, full stop. OP got in trouble and now wants to get coworker in trouble because “I never said anything about “CYZ” but you snitched on me for swearing at you…so now you’re gonna be in trouble too.”

          Even if she doesn’t exactly frame it that way, that’s what’s happening. Also, and this may have been addressed already, if the coworker is a subordinate and OP knew about “XYZ” why didn’t she already say something?

          Seems to me thst a higher ranking employee “covering up” what they know to be wrong is culpable for the wrong doing as well.

    2. CJM*

      It crossed my mind that the OP had been cursing at the employee after finding out about these things and hadn’t had a chance to report it yet. But it seems like they would have made that clear.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        If OP had thought really fast in the moment, that would have been the thing to blame it on. “Yeah, I’m cursing out Fergus–because I just found out the bastard’s been faking his safety inspections!”

        Weeks later, I don’t think that version is going to fly.

        1. JSPA*

          If the suspension were immediate, or the OP needed to gather the evidence to present, it… could still fly? It’d absolutely have to be a “just found out / that’s why i was upset / was trying to tell you / knew this would require evidence so i pulled it together” situation. Not, “I’ve been ignoring/covering for screw ups and illegal activity, accepting promises (or, worse, expecting gratitude or accrual gifts) and didn’t get what expected, and am now either doing what i should have done earlier, or doing something that doesn’t need doing at all.”

          If its a criminal or safely thing…i suppose OP DOES have to say, “you’re more angry at me for cussing Steve, than at Steve for falsifying the last three safety inspections? OK, whatever.” But it might make more sense to go to the reporting body, at that point.

      2. Works in IT*

        Yeah, that was my thought too. My coworkers and I don’t curse at anyone, but we do report things to our manager, and we do grumble about the things when we report them. I’m sure if you walked into our meeting room during a meeting at the wrong moment, the “so and so did something dumb, AGAIN” would be confusing, but there is context behind it and isn’t just us trashing people for no reason.

    3. Clay on my apron*

      I’m intrigued to know, OP, why you didn’t report these things when you first found out about them. That’s not going to reflect well on you, unless there is a very good reason.

    4. Lauz*

      Maybe OP saw the relationship as friendly so (perhaps unwisely) let stuff go (as not his direct manager, seeing it as someone else’s job), and felt relaxed enough to swear at him, and is now feeling hurt about getting disciplined for that.

      Definitely looks like retaliation, there’s no getting past that. OP should let it go but deal with future incidents equally professionally regardless of who the colleague is.

    5. LGC*

      There’s one other thing I have to wonder about: does OP4 even have that much credibility to begin with at their job? One thing that jumped out at me was that they were suspended a week and a half for “cursing out” another employee – which sounds very excessive for a first penalty. I’m not sure whether I’m missing something here.

      It’s not to say that this treatment is right, or that OP4 is lying about the magnitude of the concerns. I just think they are far from the best messenger for this, especially right now.

      1. Thornus*

        It really depends on a whole lot of factors that it’s probably not that productive to speculate. For instance, I’ve worked with unions on various issues where the labor-management discipline process routinely suspended people for about a week for cursing out co-workers when it was a first offense.

        1. LGC*

          Actually, I thought it was just as likely that OP4 was “railroaded” for a first offense as it was that that they were suspended for a history of problematic behavior. (I wasn’t clear about that, so sorry for that.)

          My worry was that in addition to the moral valence, OP4’s credibility might not be that high to begin with. Either OP4 has a history of inappropriate behavior or they work for a company that’s willing to suspend a worker for a week and a half over a first offense. I don’t think either bodes well for them bringing up the coworker’s improprieties, especially now.

        2. CmdrShepard4ever*

          To me “cursing out” someone is very different from “cursing at” someone. Cursing out to mean would indicate a protracted session of yelling and repeated cursing at a colleague. Where cursing at someone would be a single instance of calling someone one a SOB, or MF etc.

      2. Diet Coke vs Coffee*

        a week and a half is an odd time frame, and to be suspended in general on a first offense is odd.

          1. Oviraptor*

            I went back and looked, OP wrote they were suspended for 8 days. It didn’t elaborate if it was 8 calendar days or 8 working days.

            (I responed to your reply to keep the 8 days/week and a half thoughts together).

            1. AKchic*

              Yeah, 8 days has different connotations depending on calendar or working, especially if they work 4/10’s or 5/8’s. If 4/10’s and it’s working days, they were effectively suspended for two weeks. If 8 calendar days and they work 5/8’s, then they are only losing 5-6 days of pay, depending on when the suspension started.

              1. Someone Else*

                Yeah it makes me wonder if they were handed the suspension on a Thursday and told not to come back til Monday after next. That’d be 8 calendar days, but not seem like such a weird interval.

        1. RUKiddingMe*

          Well eight days…the rest of “this” week (3 days) and all next week (5 days) maybe?

      3. Galina*

        I don’t think its excessive. At my job, a person would be fired immediately for cursing out a coworker. That’s incredibly unprofessional.

        1. JulieCanCan*

          For 22 years I worked l in the entertainment industry; we ‘d have no employees in the office, ever, if we had to suspend folks each time they cursed out an associate.

          I watched a talent agent threaten to slice his coworker’s throat – IN FRONT OF THE OWNER OF THE AGENCY- with zero repercussions. I also witnessed a physical shoving match between a woman and a man – both senior level executives- and neither got even a talking to. The woman was 3 times the man’s size and she was actually the instigator and aggressor (and the winner).

          I could go on but I doubt anyone would believe me. And of course I now understand how utterly dysfunctional and atrocious the environment was. But back then it was my normal.

          Needless to say I was slightly baffled at the fact that OP was suspended for cursing out a coworker.

      4. Lilo*

        I say it depends. It could encompass mild swearing to a profane tirade. Some swears are more gendered or otherwise socially unacceptable. If the latter or closer too it, the punishment was not excessive.

      5. thestik*

        Having been fired for swearing in a conversation with another coworker without any prior disciplinary actions, the consequences outlined by the OP actually don’t surprise me that much. I was on a high horse at the time, and I see myself in the OP. If the OP keeps their job, they would be wise to keep a low profile going forward.

        1. sub rosa for this*

          Similar story here – I got disciplined (write-up and PIP) for dropping a passive F-bomb in a conversation that was 1) before working hours, 2) outside the building, and 3) in a private (but apparently overheard) conversation with a co-worker. They didn’t hear her F-bombs but they heard mine, and presto! I was summoned to HR.

          Mind you, later that week, I was at a recorded all-hands presentation given by the VP directly over my manager in which he said “s***” twice, but that was apparently okay…

          No longer at that job, and a much happier person these days, btw.

          1. Mr Shark*

            What? What kind of job is that. In my OldJob, cursing was pretty much par for the course. I can see a warning in a more professional setting, but suspension or fired for a first offense (especially in your case) seems overkill.

            In regard to the OP#4, I agree with most of the commenters–it is retaliation if you didn’t report it before this happened. I wonder if the coworker reported the OP, or someone else overheard it. It may not even be the coworker’s fault that the OP got suspended.

          2. Alienor*

            Wow, that’s harsh! I don’t drop F-bombs all day long at work, but I certainly use the word from time to time, depending on the situation/who I’m talking to (i.e. not when I’m giving a presentation or sitting in a big meeting with people I don’t know well), and I’d be shocked if someone tried to formally discipline me for it. I’m an adult, not a high school student. Though tbh I don’t think high school students should be formally disciplined for swearing either, as long as they’re not swearing *at* someone.

          3. Michaela Westen*

            Wow, what an arrogant busybody who must have turned you in!
            I can’t count the number of times I’ve walked by people on the street who were talking to each other with some swearing. You know what I did? Nothing. It’s a private conversation and not my business.

        2. Libby (for today only)*

          I got fired for reporting my supervisor for going on screaming/cursing tirades whenever he was stressed out. I think I much prefer it where the curser and not the cursee gets disciplined. (Ahh, academia…never report a tenured professor.)

      6. Psyche*

        I think it depends on what the OP meant by “curse out”. Was it a profanity laden tirade? Did it involve slurs? Or was it just a few f-bombs?

        1. Birch*

          Uh, what? “just a few f-bombs” directed toward another person is not okay at work!

          1. Andraste's Knicker Weasels*

            It’s not okay, no, but if the f-bombs Psyche is referring to are intensifiers (“this is f***ing bullshit”, “f***in’ a, dude!”), rather than … A direct action? (“f*** off”, “go f*** yourself”), I agree that it’s waaaaaaay less of a problem. It’d be more about inappropriate language instead of aggressively verbally attacking a coworker.

          2. Hold My Cosmo*

            I work in an office, but in a field adjacent to construction. “Get your f*cking act together, dipsh1t” would be considered affectionate.

            1. Regina Phalange*

              Same. I regularly tell my boss he’s being an annoying assh*le and to f*ck off, and he returns the language. It’s never said in anger, though, so perhaps that’s the difference.

          3. Statler von Waldorf*

            This is generally true … in most white collar jobs. At my very blue collar job, one of my co-workers (who was reasonable flustered about a client situation) went on a five minute long expletive filled rant once in the office where the LEAST offensive things he said were a few dozen f-bombs. When he was done, bossman rated the rant a 9/10, and told him he could either walk out the #%&#ing door or he could get back to #%&#ing work. He went back to work.

            One of the reasons I hang around here is to remind myself how wildly office norms can differ. Hearing that people have been fired for swearing is a completely alien experience compared to all the jobs I’ve ever had.

            1. emmelemm*

              It definitely is valuable to hang around here and be exposed to wildly differing workplace norms.

            2. JSPA*

              It’s one of the harder sorts of code shifting (and rarely even acknowledged as such).

      7. LGC*


        To address the big thing – I’m not sure what the norms were in OP4’s field, and I did impose my own norms. It read to me that it was excessive for a suspension for a first offense (which it would be at my job), but there are a lot of unknowns. That was a side point – my main point was that it looked like the LW had significantly damaged credibility to begin with to me.

        (I responded to Thornus, but I think I might as well state this once more.)

        1. Observer*

          I think that this is a good point. Whether the company acted appropriately or not in suspending the OP, suspension generally DOES mean “you messed up”, which tends to lower credibility.

      8. Stranger than fiction*

        I have a friend who, last year, was sent home for two weeks for merely getting a little heated during a meeting, which I thought was incredibly excessive at the time.
        He got heated because the other manager, who’d been a problem for quite some time, showed up late and denied something he had already agreed to with my friend the week before. So it was and straw breaking the camels back type thing. Again, my friend never cursed or called anyone names. He stood up and said “you got to be kidding me”. And the other manager, who clearly doesn’t like him, went to HR and said friend was being hostile. They both got sent home while the company investigated.
        In retrospect, the company was just being cautious because the employee used the word hostile. And the investigation turned outnto be a good thing because they caught the other manager trying to rally his cohorts around him and lie, when there was supposed to be no contact with other employees during the investigation.
        I can only assume other manager was given a warning or put on a pip, because so much crap came to light during the investigation, including all the issues that drove my friend to have an outburst. That manager and one of his sidekicks quit a few weeks after the investigation and he and my friend had returned to work!

    6. JamieS*

      The timeline of when the instances occurred and OP’s suspension isn’t actually known. Alison just assumed the incidents happened before.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        If they all happened after, OP is going to look like he’s shirking work to spy on Fergus and dig up dirt in retaliation.

        1. JamieS*

          Most OPs aren’t perfect writers and constantly phrase things poorly, leave out pertinent info, etc. The fact that’s an odd way to phrase it, which I agree it is, doesn’t change the fact we don’t know the timeline. Assumptions are not facts.

          Also, if the incidents happened after but OP doesn’t know how to report them because of the prior history that’d make more sense to write into an advice column about since that’s more tricky to navigate than a desire to screw over Bob is.

    7. American Ninja Worrier*

      I initially interpreted it more charitably, that the OP had intended to report these issues but the incident happened before he was able to and now the optics are bad. I still think that’s possible but it’s just as likely (maybe more likely) that the OP is indeed retaliating, and retaliation pretty much always looks like retaliation.

  2. MommyMD*

    I can understand you wanting to make clear that the police visit was a mistake and that you are no way involved with any persons that are threatening gun violence. After my family being involved with a terrorism mass shooting I too would want my employer to know it’s was a mix up and has nothing to do with me or anyone I know. This is serious business. The most serious. Truthfully if a dectective showed up at my place of work asking about an employee who may have some tie to an individual threatening violence, I’d be worried. I’d want it looked into. These things are very real.

    1. CJM*

      I don’t agree with Allison’s answer to #3. The OPs boss *should* be concerned when there is so much workplace violence. Even if the boss is confident that the OP isn’t violent, somebody who is coukd be after her for any number of reasons and come in and shoot up the place. The boss should most definately want to know whether that is the case or not.

      1. KarenT*

        I agree with you that the boss is falling down on this a bit if only to confirm there’s no danger in the workplace (though who knows, maybe the detective already took care of that). However, the boss didnt write in, the employee did. And if the boss wants her to let it go, there’s not much to be gained by not letting it go.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Right, we’re talking to the employee, not the boss. Whether or not the boss should be concerned (and I’m imagining she already heard the beginning of “it was a misunderstanding”), this doesn’t warrant the OP insisting the boss have a conversation she’s already emphatically shut down. (It would be different if she needed to tell the boss there *could* be a danger, of course — that would warrant insisting on being heard.)

      2. ThinMint*

        That isn’t my read of the letter. It doesn’t sound like the detective gave any indication for why he was there either, just said he was looking for her.

        1. Beautiful, talented, brilliant, powerful musk ox*

          Just FYI, OP wrote about their manager “She informed me that a detective had showed up at my work and wanted to speak to me about a potentially violent individual who may or may not own a gun.” So the manager knee enough for things to sound concerning at least

          1. TootsNYC*

            and the detective may have given the boss more detail than the boss indicated, and the boss may know that it was “We’re looking for Fergus Williamsburg, so we’re touching base with all the Williamsburgs we could find using Google and Facebook.”

            So here comes our OP, Belinda Williamsburg, back from her day off, and she says, “I wanted to let you know that I didn’t know that guy…” and the boss say, “I don’t need to know anything else.”

            1. Detective at work*

              That’s not what happened, though. Without giving too much info, they linked me to an address that was connected with the person. All they told my boss was what I stated in my letter.

      3. MommyMD*

        Agreed. Workplace violence is no joke. If I were a manager or employer I would definitely not brush it off and I’d want to know what’s up. If only to increase security. This is no little thing. My employer alerts security to things far less serious than this could be.

        1. CJM*

          The answer to the employee might be to let it go. But if I were that employee, I’d worry about my safety, knowing that if another employee were in a situation that *is* dangerous the boss wouldn’t want to hear about it, and *my* life coukd be at risk because of it.

          I got impression that the OP didn’t even have a chance to get out that there was no actual danger.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            I agree with Alison: that the boss has heard the “it was a misunderstanding and not me at all” part of the conversation and is trying to shut down further details about how really really not me, seriously, it was someone else.

            1. CJM*

              I hope the OP stops by to clarify what, if anything, the boss actually heard. I still read it as OP didnt even get the “misunderstanding” part out. But I could be wrong, and my opinion would change depending on how much the boss does actually know.

              1. Detective at work*

                I honestly don’t know if my boss even heard that it was a misunderstanding. She definitely heard that I did get in touch with the detective but after that she mostly cut me off and interjected before I could explain further. I’m going to let it go, though. It happened last week and nothing seems to be any different so I’m going to take her at her word that it’s not something she’s concerned about.

                1. Squeeble*

                  Your boss’s reaction would make me feel weird, too, but my guess is that she’s trying to respect your privacy and letting you know you don’t need to explain anything.

                2. CJM*

                  In your particular case, there really isn’t anything more for you to do. Everybody is safe, and I take her to her would that you won’t have any trouble over it.

                  However, for the reasons I mentioned above, I would find her attitude in general concerning. Not just from your boss, but from everybody who encouters a situation like this.

              1. Detective at work*

                We don’t really have an office gossip and my supervisor is the only one who knows about the detective. I’m just gonna let it go. I think the whole thing was weird but it doesn’t really seem to be an issue. Honestly, the whole thing really freaked me out but I’m sure with some time and distance I’ll be able to laugh about the whole situation.

    2. Beth*

      But OP did already try to tell their boss what happened–presumably that included “it was a misunderstanding, I don’t actually know the person they’re looking for” pretty much right off the bat. That’s really all even a very concerned manager would need to know.

      I understand being worried about this kind of thing, but I think OP’s manager is generally on the right track here. They’re prioritizing OP’s privacy and reassuring them that they’re not in trouble over whatever curiosity they might be feeling. (I’m assuming they feel some because I would in their shoes, but even if they don’t and they’d really just like to stay out of it, their actions are still correct here.)

      1. Mookie*

        My take, as well. Boss knows enough of LW’s character to feel reassured by an unequivocal statement. I’d also be firm in reinforcing the personal/professional divide here because, barring an actual safety issue, this is how conscientious managers protect their employees’s privacy and right to an autonomous life outside work. Sometimes the latter intersect through no fault of the employee; the manager’s job, being on the scene when the LW wasn’t, was to handle such a temporary breach discreetly and expeditiously, pass on the relevant information, and wait quietly to see how the LW would address it once back on the clock. Everyone’s done the right thing here and the matter is done and dusted.

    3. Junior Dev*

      My first thought on what the boss was thinking wasn’t workplace violence, it was that it might seem like the OP was the victim of a crime (or threats). That would be a circumstance where it makes sense to treat it as private in terms of what happened–although the boss should then be asking about what they can do to ensure the workplace is safe.

      1. uranus wars*

        This is where my thoughts went too; OP is a potential victim, boss didn’t want to invade privacy.

        And honestly if one of my reports came in the next day and said, “hey, that thing yesterday, it was a misunderstanding” I’d shrug and say ok, thanks. I don’t actually need the lengthy backstory of the how or the why – especially when it sounds like OP doesn’t know much more than they contacted the wrong person.

    4. Stranger than fiction*

      Yes, this. I’m actually surprised ops employer didn’t want to at least ask if she’s ok and if there’s any precautions they needed to take at their workply. Employer seems to be a little cavalier about it, given the day and age we’re living in, and I can totally understand why the op wants to clear it up.

    5. Lucille2*

      This one rubbed me wrong too. It seems really weird that the boss is so insistent that OP not share the story. I get not wanting to get involved in an employee’s personal drama or even being too familiar with the details, but OP just wanted to clear the air after what must have caused some stir in the office.

      I guess the advice is fair coming from a professional advice column, but I would be bothered as much as the OP. I had a boss who avoided difficult conversations of any kind, and it was not a positive experience. I think a boss can put their employees too much at arms length.

      1. Dr Wizard, PhD*

        Worse yet is the boss who flips mode depending on their mood.

        Me: *casually mentioning my roommate*
        Boss: Oh, I always thought you two were a couple!
        Me: No, no, we’re just friends from –
        Boss: No, I don’t want to discuss your personal life! *fake laughing*

  3. Engineer Girl*

    #1 – Triangulation is a destructive passive aggressive technique. It has absolutely no place in management. Your boss was totally inappropriate in asking you to intervene.
    You really need to talk to her boss.
    It’s pretty clear that Jane can’t manage if she’s complaining about “bullying” and asking you to encourage others to be nice to her. Talk about manipulation!

      1. valentine*

        I misread the title as meditate. Mediate is worse. Jane doesn’t even want to improve. She wants OP1 to wrap her in cotton wool (ew) and to stage-manage her colleagues.

        1. Lily Rowan*

          Now I want to ask one of my staff members to meditate with the others, just to see what would happen! (NB: I will definitely not do this.)

        2. Psyche*

          Yep. It sounds like Jane is not being bullied, she is being called out when she doesn’t do her job well.

          1. AlexandrinaVictoria*

            But there’s a time and place. Agressively calling someone out in front of others may not be the time and place. Though I definitely agree that these things need to be addressed. Just not disrespectfully.

            1. LCL*

              Yes. I have had a Nora/Norman in my group, they can be very disruptive. In my case, they were trying to hold me accountable for actions taken by upper management, which I had no control over. The problems they raised were real, but the venue was wrong.

              1. Stranger than fiction*

                I’m surprised nora doesn’t just take this over janes head, if she feels so strongly, and then the op wouldn’t be in this position. Who knows maybe she will (or already has).

          2. Decima Dewey*

            If OP 1 were to “mediate” between Jane and Nora (to which I say no, nope, no way, non, nyet!), she’d find herself cast as the next person to “bully” Jane.

            It also sounds like OP thinks Nora has a point or several, so she’d also be accused of “siding with Nora.”

        3. Nic*

          Yeah, this is a good point. My first read-through, I was feeling quite sympathetic to Jane because Nora’s constant calling her out in public has the potential to be a distraction from the work that she already knows she’s not dealing well with. But. Even if Nora is being a bully (and I don’t think we have enough information to know if that’s the case, or if she’s snapped after months of trying to fix Jane’s mistakes the polite way in private and is now just too exasperated at her non-improvement to GAF), asking OP to act as a mediator between her and Nora (and BTW please make sure everyone else in the office is nice to me!) is not a productive course of action.

          If Jane’s a new manager, she should have a boss/mentor that she can reach out to, to help her work out how to address Nora’s antagonistic dynamic, and to help her with whatever managerial skill lack she’s still struggling with. That’s the person that needs to know she’s having problems settling into the role. OP isn’t in a management position, and this proposal would mean that she’s effectively co-managing the team – with no recognition, no legitimate authority over her coworkers to take on the role of “interactions manager”, and taking time away from doing her own tasks!

          Plus as you pointed out, Jane’s focus really should be on getting better at the job, not on making sure that everyone likes her (though if there is actual bullying adding to her problems, obviously that does need addressing…just not by OP).

          1. I should be working ...*

            Read “meditate” instead of “mediate” … too fast on the submit button

        4. Botanist*

          I somehow read “medicate.” I was a little disappointed when I realized it was “mediate.”

    1. Rachel*

      I don’t agree with telling Jane’s boss at all. I agree with Allison’s response in pushing back though (but not running to the boss). If the manager keeps pushing after being told no, then dob to the bigger boss. I find all this running to the bigger boss without trying to resolve the scenario first, is disrespectful.

      1. Lena Clare*

        I disagree! I don’t think of it as ”running to the boss” – that implies that it’s LW’s responsibility to sort Jane’s difficult emotions out, which is just another version of Jane asking LW to mediate for her.

        The fact is Jane is not doing key aspects of her job and her boss needs to know that. LW tells Jane she can’t mediate *and* she tells Jane’s boss that Jane is not managing. I think Alison’s advice is spot on here.

        1. Jenny*

          Having been a supervisor myself and having to learn a lot, I find Jane’s request of OP to be stunningly inappropriate. You don’t drag another employee into a situation and order them to shield you. It also suggests that Jane is transferring blame to others for her management failures, claiming she is being “bullied” over whatbsoubds like legitimate criticism. Her idea that LW will be a shield suggests to me she may then blame LW for “not protecting her”, when things go wrong.

          There are a lot ofnred.flags here and management should know what is going on. Jane is clearly in over her head but trying to transfer the onus of fixing it to others.

          1. MK*

            It doesn’t sound like legitimate criticism to me, or at least, even if it didn’t legitimate, it is given in an inappropriate way. Calling out your manager in meetings, berating them for not getting back to you fast enough, is not reasonable behaviour. But for the person who has the power in a relationship to talk of bullying…

            1. Ice and Indigo*

              Well, it could be bullying if Nora knows Jane can’t or won’t exercise her authority and stand up for herself. But the solution is still to start exercising it, not to rope in OP.

              1. EPLawyer*

                Both could be behaving inappropriately. Even if you feel your boss is not doing their job, you don’t publicly raise the issue. Undermining your boss’s authority, which they have by dint of the title, not their actual output, is never acceptable behavior.

                HOWEVER, that is Jane’s job to handle not the LW. Getting the middle will only cause more headaches for LW from both people. The team is dysfunctional because of an incompetent manager. LW would do well to stay out of it. Tell the Boss no AND let management know that the dysfunction is affecting work.

                1. Dutchie*

                  This is a quite toxic way to think. If your boss says bullshit in a meeting with outsiders, you shouldn’t be expected to just shut up and smile.

            2. Jenny*

              I didn’t read It that way, but more Norah being frustrated. It depends on how you interpret “call out”. If Jane is giving bad info out at meetings, Norah may feel she has to correct it to prevent issues. Jane sounds like a bit of a wet noodle and not someone who should be managing. I was “called out” early on and learned both to make sure I was supporting my calls and how to shut that kind of stuff down.

              1. SarahTheEntwife*

                Yeah, there’s so much that could vary there depending on the specific situation and tone. This could be anything from aggressive insubordination to matter-of-factly pointing out that the boss said something incorrect and not bothering to fully hide the fact that it annoys you.

                1. Psyche*

                  Yeah, the phrasing can cover a wide range of behavior, some of which is reasonable and some which is blatant insubordination. But if Nora really is being so inappropriate, the salutation is not to have a coworker “mediate” it is to put her on a PIP. The manager does not want to manage and that is a problem.

                  I had interpreted it as Nora being pushy but correct in her criticism, but I realize now that I am probably bringing my own bias to it.

            3. Samwise*

              Actually, situations where the person in power is bullied are indeed possible. Happens to instructors at colleges and universities. Generally young, female or gender-noncomforming, persons who are or presumed to be queer, persons of color, persons who are or are presumed to be non-Christian.

            4. Nic*

              Which is another reason to go to higher-up boss. If Jane’s new to management, then her boss should be acting as a mentor while she makes that transition. If she’s having trouble with either practical issues or personnel, and she hasn’t the experience or skill to manage the problem on her own, then it’s her boss’s job to teach her how to do it on her own, or sort it out and put an end to the problem (whether that problem is Jane being incompetent, Nora being inappropriate, or a bit of both).

              But OP getting involved just clouds the issue massively – she’s on the same level as Nora with no seniority, and that means that any intervention from her direction just turns the situation into an intra-team squabble with no-one in authority over the other. It’s a lose-lose situation waiting to happen.

            5. smoke tree*

              It does sound like Nora may be overstepping (although I think that’s more understandable if it’s due to long-running frustration with Jane’s lack of management), but Jane should be able to handle that herself rather. If she isn’t capable of addressing Nora’s concerns, and also doesn’t have the judgment to see what a difficult position she’s putting the LW in, she shouldn’t be a manager. You can’t just accept the benefits of management and delegate all of the actual managing to an employee who isn’t compensated for it, and it’s troubling Jane doesn’t see that.

            6. Statler von Waldorf*

              This. Whenever the person with the power and authority starts playing the victim and complaining about bullying, my eyes roll so hard they almost fall out of my head.

          2. snowglobe*

            Yes, I see the potential for this to go very badly for LW. If LW doesn’t step in and “protect” her manager and problems escalate, the manager could end up placing the blame for the whole mess on LW. LW going to the manager’s boss now will also help protect LW in the event LW ends up being scapegoated – at least the big boss will have another side to the story.

          3. LGC*

            Also being a supervisor and actually having multiple Noras currently: I don’t think the issue is Nora’s substance as it is the way she’s doing it. Intentionally or not, she’s undermining Jane’s authority. She shouldn’t regularly be arguing with Jane in meetings, even if Jane is incompetent.

            That said, Jane is pretty far in over her head, it seems, and I agree that 1) she’s handling this TERRIBLY and 2) Jane’s boss needs to know.

            (And I’m aware that I’ll likely get dragged for this but…yeah, the problem isn’t Nora bringing up issues. It’s that she’s regularly calling Jane out in front of the entire team and Jane is openly intimidated, when she probably shouldn’t be.)

            1. TardyTardis*

              Jane possibly needs advice on how to summon her Inner Snape and regain control of the classroom.

        2. PB*

          I agree. If I had a subordinate trying to delegate a massive piece of their job, which is exactly what Jane’s doing, I’d sure as heck want to know about it!

      2. Stranger than fiction*

        I don’t think it’s disrespectful at all if jane is that incompetent and skirting the issue in this manner, because it’s clearly affecting the whole team.

    2. MusicWithRocksInIt*

      I at first read it as meditation instead of mediation and thought we had another crazy boss that wanted to bring spirituality into the office. I’m… not sure if this is better.

    3. RandomU...*

      I might as well agree with you to save me from writing just about the exact same thing.

      While Nora sounds like a peach of an employee… the sad fact is there is usually one in every crowd that managers have at any given time.

      Adding the perspective of a manager who has managers reporting to them. I would absolutely want to know if something like this was going on. I would encourage the OP to have a quiet conversation with Jane’s boss to let them know things aren’t going well for Jane atm and that she seems to be struggling with the management aspect of her job. The OP doesn’t even have to mention the conversation with Jane, if they don’t want to, but it would be perfectly appropriate to let them know about that conversation as well.

      1. Sara without an H*

        Ditto. Nora’s behavior is actually irrelevant to OP#1’s issue. Jane is making a major, major blunder here, and OP needs to do whatever she can to get out of the middle. I, too, have had managers reporting to me and I would definitely want to know about the whole situation.

        If OP isn’t comfortable approaching Jane’s boss about this, is there an HR person who could be contacted?

        I like Alison’s script and I agree that OP needs to politely, but firmly, continue to set boundaries with Jane. My other piece of advice would be to document all her accomplishments and all significant conversations with Jane. I’m not suggesting that it’s time to look for another job — that would be premature. But she needs to have documentation on hand in case her refusal to become Jane’s goalie affects her next evaluation.

    4. CM*

      Also, in order for someone to bully you, they generally have to be abusing a power differential in some way. Maybe that’s happening, due to factors we don’t know about, but usually supervisors have more power than the people they’re supervising, so it’s hard for their subordinates to bully them.

      Also, if there’s truly a problem that requires some kind of third party mediation, there are other candidates for who that third party should be. Like someone from HR, or Jane’s boss.

  4. Clay on my apron*

    OP5, I was approached on LinkedIn by a recruiter working for a company based in another country. I had never considered moving to that country but the role and the company both appealed to me. I made it very clear from the word go that I couldn’t make a decision about an international relocation without serious consultation with my family.

    We went through a round of 4 interviews (1 phone call and 3 video conferences) involving probably 8 of their staff. At each point when they followed up to see how I was feeling about the role, I was very frank and said I really liked the role/company but that I had concerns about an international relocation (would my family be happy to move, would my husband find a job easily, what the schools were like, etc). They were very open to this feedback and went ahead and made me a great offer.

    After a week of soul searching and discussion with my spouse I turned it down as graciously as possible on the grounds that my husband didn’t want to relocate. They were disappointed but not angry but left the door open for any future discussion should I change my mind.

    A few things you might want to consider:
    There was no face to face interview so the cost for them was very low. (The location involved made it prohibitively expensive for them to fly candidates in for interviews and I would have had to take a week of leave in order to get there, spend a day or two, and then get home.)
    I was very clear up front and all the way through about potential blockers.
    I was thoughtful about how I declined the offer.

    I believe any good company should be absolutely fine with candidates not knowing if they want to make a major relocation before they even know what the job is about.

    1. Sara without an H*

      Sounds like you handled it well. I would think that any firm hiring for a role that would require a major relocation would be braced for the fact that some candidates would go through most of the interview process and decide that they really couldn’t accept due to that requirement alone.

  5. KarenT*

    #5 You should always spend an interview process trying to determine if a job or company is a good fit for you. After you meet a boss, team, or learn more about a role you might start to really want the job or might realize it’s best to pass. If you’re going into it thinking you may take it under the right circumstances, you have nothing to feel bad about. Itd only be unethical if you knew there’s no way you’d ever take it but wanted the free trip to the interview city.

    1. Jenny*

      People often forget that job interviews run both ways. They are feeling out you but you are also feeling out them. If you have never been headhunted or gone after before, this can be a change from the entry-type position, where the employee tends to have more power.

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        I actually hire a number of entry-level people, and one of my openers is that I want to be sure to answer their questions as well, because they’re interviewing us just as much as we’re interviewing them. If it’s not a place they want to work for a year or so, I’d rather find out in interview than a few months in after we’ve invested in training.

        1. Ama*

          I have interviewed for entry-level positions before with candidates who seemed like a good fit on paper, only to realize in the interview that they had a very different idea what the position actually entailed (this usually involves them misunderstanding what certain elements of the job posting mean because they are inexperienced in our sector). Which I agree — I’d much prefer to sort that out at the interview stage and honestly, unless we want to write three page job postings, some of the misunderstandings would have been impossible to address before that point.

    2. TootsNYC*

      You also DO NOT KNOW whether you want the job until you hear the actual offer and the money.

      Hopefully you are close. But that final decision is still yours to make.

      (HOWEVER: If you apply at Bloomberg, and Michael Bloomberg asks you, “what would you say if I offered you this job right now?” say, “When do I start?” or you won’t get an offer. You can still turn the offer down, the managers you’re dealing with won’t hold it against you, but don’t say to HIM that you want to think about it over the weekend. No matter where you are in the process.)

      1. Jen*

        Sorry for the delay in replying. I appreciate the feedback and advice from all. One of my fears was the Bloomberg example. I would feel obliged to myself to take one of these jobs because they are working-for-Google awesome, but there are significant reasons that a move does not make sense. Additionally, I was told a few days after I sent my original message that I was up for promotion. All signs led to staying put (for now).

  6. MJ*

    #2. It sounds more like “doesn’t” rather than “won’t”, unless she says hello to other employees. Are you singled out?

    1. Margaery Moth*

      I genuinely never realized saying good morning to the people you see every day at work was a thing until I started reading this blog. I’d feel so invasive going up to people randomly saying hello, especially in the morning!

      1. Jasnah*

        In my open office, it’s more of a breezy greeting to everyone around you as you sit down at your desk. But I can see how it would be invasive to stop by someone’s office just to say hello every morning.

        Personally, I think as long as you acknowledge someone the first time you interact with them for the day–passing in the hallway, over email, when you stop by their desk to ask a question–that’s enough to break the ice and have a friendly demeanor.

        1. SarahTheEntwife*

          Yeah, my office is the same. My department also covers a broad range of hours schedule-wise so part of the motivation is also “hi, I too am in the office now”, which is less important if everyone works roughly standard business hours.

        2. LPUK*

          I worked in a German office and it was much more frequently done there! To such an extent that a Dutch colleague and myself had a little ‘ thing’ of greeting each other each day in a really formal manner, which we didn’t do to any of the rest of our international colleagues

        3. Danger: GUMPTION AHEAD*

          I do a general, “Morning all” as I sit down so I don’t scare the crap out of people because they don’t know I am there. Apparently I am really quiet when I am at my desk and I have spooked people who didn’t realize someone else was in the office when I made a noise

        4. CmdrShepard4ever*

          I only really say good morning/night to people that I see in passing when coming in or out of the office. I usually do not make the rounds to say morning/night to people a few doors down that I have to go out of my way to see. I will sometimes make rounds and go out of my way to say have a good weekend, if I will be out of the office for an extended period of time, or if it is a major holiday weekend, like fourth of july, thanksgiving, xmas etc…

      2. stump*

        In my office, people always say hello to each other, but it’s always in passing, never just “making the rounds”! I guess some workplaces do that, but there are just way too many people in my office (hell, in just my suite) to do that every day. I’d be kind of weirded out if everybody decided to suddenly transition from the “2 second acknowledgement of your fellow humans as you walk by them” to “stalk everybody’s cubes and plant a hello on them every morning”.

        But like MJ, I’d be interested if whatever the Standard Office Greeting Ritual is there at the LW’s office, if the LW is the only one getting snubbed or if their boss just opts not to participate in it at all and doesn’t greet anyone else. Because I wouldn’t be weirded out if the boss didn’t come to my cube and say good morning/hello to me, but I’d be kind of salty if I said “hello” as we were walking by and got nothing, not even a “hey, I acknowledge you” nod in return. And I’d be Really salty if I was the only one that was getting boxed out when greeting The Boss.

        1. Magenta*

          I’m a manager in the UK, because of flexible working I get in later than my team, I always go over and say hi, unless I have something urgent that needs dealing with, like I’m actually on the phone when I walk in or something.

          1. stump*

            I think it really just depends on what the standard of your individual office does. We have flexible scheduling too, so everybody comes in at all different times (like, there’s about a two hour window with people trickling in for their shift), and that combined with just How Big the office is would make it kind of difficult for everyone to make the rounds! I’m guessing that’s why everybody at my company sticks with the passing hello and morning chitchat with their cube neighbors and while making coffee in the kitchen. I wouldn’t be upset or anything if I got a purposeful morning hello my cube every day, just an “Oh, that’s new. Weird!”

      3. miss_chevious*

        Me either! I see these people constantly, and walk by them multiple times a day. I’ll nod or smile or wave if we catch each other’s eye, but I save the chit chat for the first time we talk to each other that day.

      4. facepalm*

        I’m not a morning person at all and am an introvert to boot. All my coworkers know I just glare grumpily (but good naturedly) if they bother me before I’ve settled in and come to life with my coffee in the mornings. And I am grateful that they are kind enough to recognize that and give me that space. Some people don’t like small talk or want to get down to work instead of having to socialize. Some people aren’t morning people. It doesn’t mean your boss hates or doesn’t like you (I genuinely LOVE my coworkers). Unless she’s freezing you out in other areas of work, let this one go.

        1. adk*

          THIS!!!! I’ve actually trained all my co-workers not to speak to me until after about 10am. One of them will sometimes come up to me earlier in the morning and ask, “is now a good time?” and actually accept my answer in either direction. Before my coffee, I’ll either grunt or nod at people, or say a gruff “mornin'” to people who don’t know I’m a morning grump.

        2. Stranger than fiction*

          I’m so spoiled, I’ve trained my coworkers to never call me between 7:30 and 8:00 because they know I’m eating my breakfast. They’ll even apologize if they do have something urgent, which is hilarious because I’m technically not even on a break or anything.

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

          I’m not a morning person (but not an introvert) and some mornings I just use all of my awake neurons to get myself to work and don’t have any left over to notice when someone talks to me as I’m walking down the hallway. So it may be about 20 minutes into the work day before I realize humans are around me and there are social conventions to follow.

        4. cheluzal*

          Tell some of mine. I nodded once and they repeat “good morning”louder and with more purpose. I’m like, you get a nod today. That’s good today. We don’t particularly like each other, why do you care, lol….

          I hate hate the good morning ritual so much. No one cares. Just say hi. Don’t ask me how I am…

          1. 2 feet behind*

            If someone tries to force me into a social interaction first thing in the morning, they’re being rude. I’ll be polite back and will not encourage anything more. But if theyr’e trying to force me to act as if I’m not in a mental state that I’m clearly displaying, there’s no way to interpret that except as hostility.

            1. Jasnah*

              This is such a strange interpretation of the situation that I am genuinely baffled. Someone speaking to you cheerfully at work during working hours is being rude and hostile?? Why not just chalk it up to different personalities instead of assuming malicious intent?

      5. Kathleen_A*

        It’s kind of a mix in my office. I am a died-in-the-wool “Good morning” person, some of my colleagues are as well, and some are not. (Side note: We have a congenitally Eegore/Marvin the Paranoid Android-like receptionist, and it was long one of my personal goals to make her say “Good morning” to me. It took a few months, but I’ve been fairly successful in this goal. Hey, a gal’s gotta have some fun.)

        But ordinarily, it’s not a big deal either way. I don’t go out of the way to say good morning to everyone, but anybody I pass or whose desk I pass, so long as they’re not on the phone or something, gets a “Good morning” from me. As it happens, I do pass almost everyone in my department on the way to my desk, so that’s one reason why I do it so consistently.

        Now, repeatedly ignoring someone else’s “Good morning” might be a bid deal. But that’s a different issue altogether since really, ignoring a coworker is, in and of itself, a big deal.

      6. SavannahMiranda*

        I know, I had no idea the dang “good morning” police existed.

        With all the other foolishness most of us have to put up with in our jobs, and the other stress and drama that can exist in one’s career, please for the love of god spare us all the “good morning” police.

        At least it finally explains why one woman will stop in front of my door and pointedly say good morning to me a couple of times a week. I guess she’s mad I didn’t say it to her? Whatever makes her feel better about herself.

      7. Allison*

        I’ve been reading this blog for years, and been working long enough to realize that some people put a LOT of stock into the morning greeting, but I’ve never really gotten on board with it. If someone says “good morning” to me I’ll say it back, and I understand this is a nice thing to say to people as you first encounter them at the start of the day, but I still think it’s silly to require it of people, and get so upset if someone doesn’t proactively say it to you. I had a coworker who worked in an office near my cubicle, and when she’d see me she’d say “good morning” in this weird, singsong, almost coaxing way, like she was annoyed I wasn’t saying it first and she was trying to coach me to do so.

      8. I suck a usernames*

        I feel it’s a very normal thing. You se someone you know, you say hi, you move on. If someone is deeply immersed in work a nod or other acknowledgement of the greeting with a “Busy, but you too!” implied. I am not advocating going around a 50 person office greeting everyone individually. Not greeting your cowerkers at all seems very rude.

      9. Aerin*

        Yeah, my thought reading that was “Yikes.” I certainly greet people as I pass by them, at least first thing in the morning. But I’ve worked a few different jobs (and different types) and I’ve never seen anyone do this. Hell, there are days I don’t interact with any supervisors at all. If I don’t have a scheduled meeting and if there aren’t any major problems, our paths just don’t cross.

    2. Karen from Finance*

      *not American

      In my culture, it’s apparently A Thing, mostly among under 40 y.o.s, that people will walk up to each coworker in their team and say hi and goodbye individually when they arrive/leave. (I work mainly in tech so we’re usually companies of mostly young people).

      In my first formal job I wasn’t aware of this norm, I’d just walk in and sit at my desk and start working and people thought it was odd until they asked my friend about it. Friend was all “oh that’s just how Karen is, it’s not personal” and then told me about it, and I started greeting people because I didn’t know it was a big deal.

      Cue to years later, another job, new boss joins the team (only one over 40) who never says hello or goodbye and everyone finds it weird and hilarious. I can see the other side of it now. It’s mostly weird because we never know if he’s already gone for the day or not. I didn’t say anything because he has picked up on this, bit he seems to think we are the weird ones.

      1. Asenath*

        We’re much more informal! A quick “Good Morning” or “‘Bye! See you tomorrow” to anyone who happens to be in line-of-sight when arriving or leaving is just fine. This doesn’t help with knowing who’s already gone for the day, since you might not see them as they dash out the door, but with such a small group whose tasks are largely separate, that’s not much of a problem.

        1. Teena*

          I’m a teacher, and there have been years when my team was highly offended if someone left for the day without seeking out all other members of the team to say good bye, and years when it’s line-of-sight only. My current team is the second type, thanks be. I *hated* having to track down three people just so I could leave for the day. (I was always the first to leave, as I’m an “arrive two hours early” person and they were all “stay two hours late”.)

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        Everybody are the weird ones. You’re all violating someone or other’s office behavioral norms.

      3. AnotherAlison*

        I feel like greeting everyone would waste about an hour of my day. If I see someone in passing or someone is in an eye-contact-making position at their desk, I’ll say hello. If I have to go ask someone about something work-related, I’ll say hello & good morning before I jump in with work talk. Otherwise, I don’t, and that’s the norm here. As for knowing when people have left, that’s what the Skype IM system is for, ha!

        1. Karen from Finance*

          Well, everyone doesn’t meet EVERYONE, just the 6-8 people I share a workspace with. I wave the floor goodbye, reach my desk, start my computer, and as it’s booting up I’ll go around the desk saying hi as I remove my coat, etc. If someone is busy I’ll either wait or wave silently. But it’s true that my culture is overall friendlier, warmer and more informal than some other countries*. I don’t necessarily like it because I’m an introvert who learnt to pose as extrovert. But it is what it is.

          *I’m in Latin America but Idk if it’s regional or my area in specific.

        2. Allison*

          At my old job I worked frequently with a remote colleague, our HQ was in the Boston area and he worked from home in Atlanta, since there was no office down there. He was often surprised when he’d mention someone on another team and I wouldn’t know them, because they worked in the office. I realized he had this idea that we all made the rounds each morning to say “hi” to each other, ask about each others weekends, how were the kids doing, you see that episode of that show, how about them Red Sox, etc. and while some people may have done that, I did not, and then I felt bad for disappointing this guy and shattering his fantasy of office life.

    3. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      Even if she’s not singled out it’s rude to not respond. I’m am the opposite of a morning person, but if someone comes to me and says good morning, I will at the very least say “morning”. But I don’t think OP should necessarily be concerned about it.

    4. Someone Else*

      Yeah the thing that struck me about #2 is she described going round to offices specifically to say hi. I understand she came from a previous office where that was the culture, but it sounds like it’s maybe not here? So an eye-contact+nod might be sufficient from others who may be wondering why she’s doing this, but not finding it worth telling her not to. It also wasn’t clear from the letter if, say, she walked right up to the boss in the hall or something and said hello, is the boss refusing to respond in any way? That would be weird and rude and evasive. But if it’s more that the boss doesn’t seek her out to say hello, and doesn’t make a point of saying hello when passing by, this is more a cue that the type or amount of hello-ing happening is unnecessary.

      1. Fergus*

        I really could care less going around saying good morning to everyone, what’s the point, really. Truth is I wish no one harm, but I am there to make money to pay my bills, not to socialize

        1. SavannahMiranda*

          We are two peas in a pod.

          Let’s start an office together and form a pleasant but no nonsense culture.

    5. A.*

      I’m usually the last to arrive in my office and normally greetings are exchanged when doors are opened, etc. everyone else is already in work mode so it’s not a big deal.

  7. Jenny*

    For LW2, I don’t tend to greet people when I come in as well. Reason being, I want to get settled and plan out my day first particularly if there is some time suck activity in my inbox. I may not be able to discuss the day’s priorities until after that. I also like to get settled by, say, putting my lunch away and similar.

    It doesn’t sound like your boss is being cold and distant, just not stopping by in the mornings. There is nothing weird about that at all.

    1. Working with professionals*

      Our group does a general good morning to the air in our cube space to cover everyone when we arrive. If you are there first you are expected to answer good morning back into the air. The reverse occurs when we’re leaving. We still happily have an old fashioned cube farm behind a door from the open office space and can’t see everyone so it does help us to know who is in for the day. A few years ago we got a new hire who was completely weirded out by our expectation that he would greet us first thing in the morning. He eventually got used to it but it took quite some time. He was former military and used to working completely independently in the job that he had so our norms were odd to him at first. Different places/people – different norms.

    2. Sara without an H*

      And maybe the boss needs to get outside of some coffee before she’s capable of human interaction. In any case, it’s not a problem.

    3. Tachy IT Lady*

      I agree! I don’t think the boss is being cold. Some people are not morning people! I do not enjoy greeting everyone and having conversations right when I walk in. It especially annoys me when people try to immediately have discussions before I have taken my coat off and sat at my desk. I prefer to be settled in and have emails checked prior to engaging in conversations.

  8. Batgirl*

    OP4….wow. You cursed out a colleague, (a subordinate one!) and remaining in aggression mode is NOT going to help restore your reputation here. What they want from you is self reflection and self awareness, not a stand in for your suspension. If colleague somehow gets into trouble too, that doesn’t restore your situation. They won’t swap your statuses, they’ll think ‘great we have two jerks’. If colleague’s actions are somehow provoking you, then you can possibly explain the context, but it has to be expressed as ‘I know I didn’t handle this well’

    1. Ice and Indigo*

      Honestly, if you cursed out a subordinate, you earned that report. Counter-reporting just proves you didn’t learn from it. Don’t curse out subordinates, it’s a very bad thing to do!

      1. valentine*

        OP4: Use the suspension to improve your workplace attitude and to at least plan for leveling up to where your employer needs you to be. When you return, lead by example.

    2. this way, that way*

      Yes, this is what I was thinking. OP4 you need to really think about what you are doing and why you thought it was OK to curse out a colleague, and then that your only thoughts are how do I get this colleague. You messed up, and since the colleague is lower than you it is worse for your reputation. Work more on fixing you and not on revenge. Anything you say now and in the future against the person you cursed out is retaliation, leave this person alone.

    3. Rocky*

      It’s worse than cursing someone out; OP4 says they ‘cursed’ a colleague. I assume that wasn’t literal, sticking pins in a doll sort of cursing :-)

  9. Knitting Cat Lady*

    #1: Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t a mediator supposed to be a neutral party not connected to anyone?

    Cause what LW1’s boss asked LW1 to do is not ‘mediation’. LW1’s boss wants a shield. A shield that does all the icky interpersonal stuff. And is generally the bad guy.

    I think this is a thing your grandboss should know, LW1.

    1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      Yes. But I would have a conversation with boss first, before going to grand boss. I think the first step should never be going directly to someone’s boss before trying to resolve it with the person directly. She needs to explain that what boss asked of her is inappropriate, and if boss pushes or continues to not o her job, then she can go to grand boss.

    2. LawLady*

      I don’t think the boss here means formal sit-down mediation like with a professional, but rather just being the go-between. Still inappropriate, but less crazy.

  10. KayEss*

    I know LW4 presumably cursed “at” or “out” their coworker, but at the same time I really want to believe this is another workplace incident involving black magic.

    1. only acting normal*

      I was carefully reading the rest of the letter hoping for a clue that it was a hexing. :-D

    2. PB*

      I’m really hoping this is the woman who was “something of a witch” from that classic AAM letter writing in for advice.

    3. Overseer Vimes of the Look*

      This was my first thought! Please let it be black magic, please let it be black magic…

    4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I had to re-read the letter because I originally imagined the higher ups finding the makings of a voodoo doll in the likeness of this subordinate in the OPs office.

    5. Arts Akimbo*

      Yes, more black magic in the workplace, please! Why curse out your colleagues when you can curse them? :D

      1. Skavoovie*

        Has there been any confirmation yet whether they were swearing at people or actually casting curses on their coworkers? This was the primary reason I came to the comments on this one.

  11. Prickly Pear*

    What happens when you read at 3 a.m.- you see the headline as ‘Boss wants me to meditate for her’ and you are increasingly confused as you read.
    (I agree with Alison, I’d run from that situation.)

    1. Karen from Finance*

      Only it wasn’t as confusing to me because I recently saw a job posting where every Friday they do a meditation/company meeting together. Add that to other things I’ve seen here and it sounded just about right.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        re: meditation/company meeting
        May I just say it’s fantastic that goes into the job posting so we can self-select out of applying if it’s too woo-woo for us?

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      I see this as a new tech company perk. Too busy to meditate? Moonblossom will come to your office and serenely meditate for you while you handle email.

      1. Pomona Sprout*

        Well, it sounds like that boss might benefit from some medication, so…
        *innocent look*

  12. Akcipitrokulo*

    OP1.l – sounds like Nora is behaving very badly and needs to be told clearly and professionally to knock that shit off…. but that’s not your job.

    1. Traffic_Spiral*

      Depends how badly the manager sucks at her job. If she’s showing up in meeting saying “let’s make origami teacups,” and Nora has to remind her “origami teacups can’t actually withstand hot water,” then the problem is that the manager sucks, not that Nora refuses to pour boiling water into origami cups.

    2. Glitsy Gus*

      I was wondering about that too. Is Nora calling out stupid crap like, “that really should be a semicolon, not a colon. Everyone knows that,” or is she pointing out that putting the office sofa in front of the fire exit is a bad idea? If she’s being a snarky brat then she needs to be told to knock it off. But the manager needs to say it. While OP can mention it if it’s bugging her and she wants to, it is in no way her responsibility to do so.

  13. Approval is optional*

    LW1: If I were you I’d think about how professional Norah is being, through objective, rather than personal friendship, eyes. You say she’s a ‘little blunt’: I’d use a different word for her behaviour. Sure, Jane shouldn’t have asked you to mediate, should do her own work etc etc but if I were Jane’s manager I’d consider her failings at least partly my fault for not supporting/training a new, inexperienced manager properly, and I’d deal with it from than angle. Norah’s behaviour on the other hand, would result in a serious conversation, and a possible PIP from me TBH – undermining her manager the way she is, is pretty egregious behaviour IMO (calling her manager out in meetings because she thinks some things her manager says are a little poorly thought out -NO NO NO).

    1. Akcipitrokulo*

      Exactly. OP has three very good reasons to say why she doesn’t feel her mediating is appropriate – the first two are “why it can’t be me…”

      1) it’s not a good idea to mediate between your boss and a coworker.
      2) it’s never a good idea to mediate when one of the parties is a friend

      and most relevantly – and definitely worth saying to Jane – why it shouldn’t be mediation at all

      3) it’s not a situation for mediation when an employee is behaving like this. It’s a performance and management issue.

    2. Sam.*

      To me, it depends on what “calling out” looks like in practice. If these are small meetings and she’s asking targeted questions that cause Jane to reveal how little she’s thought something through, I’m completely fine with that, even though I can imagine it would make Jane feel called out and exposed. (This may be because I once had a grandboss who never thought things through until people asked him questions he realized he had no answer for, at which point he would retreat and actually do his due diligence.)

      That said, though, if Norah is doing this in front of a lot of people, I think OP can observe that it’s not the most effective venue and suggest she instead raise these issues with Jane directly, after the meeting.

      1. Approval is optional*

        I’m not suggesting the LW raise it with Nora, in fact I think she should stay well away from the whole situation. I’m just suggesting she check her understanding of acceptable vs not acceptable behaviour without looking through a prism of friendship. At the moment she is seeing all of Jane’s flaws and not seeing Nora’s; her calling Nora a ‘little blunt’ seems to me to show a lack of understanding of how problematic Nora’s behaviour is. Keep in mind that it was the LW who said Nora was often ‘calling out’ Jane – that didn’t come from Jane – and the use of that phrase (plus the issue of Nora being blunt to Jane DAILY and frequently ‘pushing back’) says to me that this is more than Nora simply asking questions to seek clarification.

        1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

          We don’t know that though based on the letter. She lays out the facts (the way Nora is treating boss) and that she and Nora have a good relationship, but she never says how she feels about the way Nora is treating boss. Yes it sounds as if Nora is being disrespectful, but it also sounds as if boss is allowing her to be disrespectful. She needs to manage, and she’s not doing that. Whether she knows what she’s doing or still learning, you don’t allow your subordinates to treat you like she describes. Bottom line is that what boss has asked of OP is inappropriate, regardless of OP’s opinion of the way Nora is acting or their relationship.

          1. TootsNYC*

            A good employee never puts their boss in the position of “allowing her to be disrespectful” or “needing to manage.”

            So I have a problem with Norah.

            And actually, it’s making me remember a time when I was a bit like Norah. I didn’t have any hostility, but I did bring up “lack of clarity” problems in the very meetings themselves, and I know for a fact that it was hard for my boss.

    3. CupcakeCounter*

      I was surprised Alison didn’t address Nora’s behavior in her answer because that also stood out to me as a problem. Jane is admitting to her shortcomings and seems to be desperate for some help. We have no idea what training she had or how supportive upper management is being so going to them will only ding Jane and not address the core problems.
      The OP’s description of Nora’s behavior of “calling her out”, “being blunt”, and “pushing back if a response isn’t in a timely manner” seem extremely aggressive and designed to undermine Jane’s authority. If Jane is working 2 roles (the one she was originally hired for and the one she quickly was promoted to since OP did not address a backfill of the original role) of course she is behind! Instead of constantly criticizing, maybe Nora should offer to help take stuff off the larger plate since her actions read to me like someone who was passed over for the role and is taking it out on the person who got it.
      Jan’es request of OP was inappropriate but the reason for the request is Nora’s and she needs to knock it off.

      1. Colette*

        I don’t read Nora’s behavior the same way, but what Nora is doing is actually irrelevant because the OP does not have the authority to address it in any way. Jane does, and the fact that she isn’t is actually part of the problem.

        1. Traffic_Spiral*

          Yup. If Jane wants LW to manage Nora, she can give her a raise and the title of ‘manager.’ Otherwise, it’s not her business.

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Right, exactly. The OP has zero ability or authority or standing to deal with Nora. The big issue is that Jane has made a request so inappropriate and wrong that it reveals a deep inability to manage her team (and a deep chasm in her understanding of her role), and her own manager should really know about it.

          1. DKMA*

            Out of curiosity, would your advice be different if the boss had asked something like: “You have a good working relationship with the whole team, would you be willing to collect feedback from each person in the group to synthesize and share with me? I want to evaluate what’s working and think an anonymous forum will get clearer answers and remove emotions from the process.”

            I’ve been on both sides of things like that before and thought it was reasonable, but it has shades of this situation.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              That can work in the right context — one where people generally get along with the manager and things are relatively harmonious, and there’s a reasonable amount of trust. In a situation like this one, where that’s not the case, the manager really can’t put an employee in that position. It would have to be done by someone outside the team.

      2. Danger: GUMPTION AHEAD*

        Nora and Jane didn’t write in and the LW didn’t ask any questions about how to handle Nora’s behavior. Why would Allison address the topic if the LW didn’t ask about it? This is a boss problem for the LW, not a coworker problem.

  14. Oilpress*

    #2 – I recommend most people go and say hello to their boss early in the day. I’m a bit (maybe a lot) grumpy in the morning, and even I really appreciate when my team members pass by with a casual greeting. I also like it when they couple the greeting with a quick personal task update so that we are all on the same page about priorities. My most productive employees always look on the ball because of that proactive communication.

    1. Karen from Finance*

      The unwritten rule for me is that the one arriving/leaving is the one who has to say hello/goodbye.

      1. valentine*

        the one arriving/leaving is the one who has to say hello/goodbye
        Yes. I don’t want to disrupt their ritual or escape. As the person entering, I would dread greetings (and escalations like smiling or energy). I can’t necessarily even raise my eyebrows in acknowledgement whilst remembering a checklist and being desperate to sit/settle.

    2. miss_chevious*

      Yeah, I could not disagree more. Do not come and say hello to me unless you have a work question that needs answering. I am actually a morning person, but I’m task-oriented and stopping by for a hello is going to earn you my ire and a request that you not do that.

      I do make clear to my team that this is how I operate right up front, because I understand that it can come across as brusque, but when people come to speak to me they know that the order of conversation should be work question first, personal conversation second.

      1. Traffic_Spiral*

        I’m with you here. I’m happy to chat during lunch or coffee break, and if you have a question, but all means ask. I am not, however, interested in you just showing up in the morning to bother me about nothing.

        1. miss_chevious*

          ::blushes:: It was actually something I discovered about myself through one of those work personality surveys similar to Myers Briggs, although I can’t remember the actual name of it now. Before that, I couldn’t figure out why certain work colleagues annoyed me so much, and it turned out that they were the type of people who like to form a personal connection first and then ask work questions, and I am the type of person who likes the work questions first and then the personal connection. I can’t care about your weekend plans while I’m waiting for your work question, Wanda! :)

      2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        I dig that this is your ‘thing’ and that you make it known.

        However wow, I would not work with you well. I would be out the door as soon as someone said “I don’t do pleasantries, you need to only talk to me about work related things and then maybe toss in a personal conversation.”

        Thankfully the office culture here is very much one where whomever is arriving or exiting says “Good morning/Good night”, it’s more to signal they’re “here” or “gone” so I’m not scurrying around looking for someone when they’re actually not in at all. This goes for all levels, even our CEO pops in to say “good morning” to the production crew when he arrives and if they want to seek him out for anything work related or personal, his door is wide open for it.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      As the many discussions we’ve had on this board about morning greetings have shown, this is far from a universal preference. I arrive after my boss and sometimes don’t even see him until we’ve both in the office for several hours, and I learned very quickly after I started that not only do I not need to say goodbye to him as I leave, he would prefer I not do that. When I worked in an open office, however, a general “good morning” and “bye, everyone” was standard.

      I think the only thing we can really say about greetings is that they vary by culture and by specific office and that there’s no single universally “correct” answer. The best thing we can do for each other is just not to assume the worst. As in, just because you like to offer the greeting doesn’t mean someone else is required to, and if you don’t like to go around saying “good morning,” it doesn’t mean that the person who does has a screw loose.

      I will say, however, that if someone says “good morning” to you, you should at least raise a hand in greeting because that’s just polite. I’ve had some pushback on that but I would die on that hill.

      1. Lily Rowan*

        Yeah — in my last job, I got in the habit of having an informal check-in with my boss first thing every day because we were both there on the early side, I walked by her office constantly, and I don’t know, we just had a lot of stuff to talk about. I don’t do it with my current boss, mostly because it wouldn’t feel natural given the geography, but also because she’s often full of meetings all day and needs that time first thing to get through her email.

        In short: Different offices are different.

      2. Liberry Pie*

        I was about to say the opposite of Oilpress. If you are stopping by her office just to say hi and you are doing it every day (though it sounds like the LW has stopped doing that), there’s a chance the boss finds this disruptive. If I were the boss, I’d be thinking “Ok, so LW is one of those people who needs a bit of chatting every day, and if this is what it takes to maintain a good working relationship with her I can patiently put up with it.” It’s not a huge sacrifice, but I do see it as the boss accommodating the LW’s need to chat, not as LW picking up the slack on an essential social transaction that the boss has let slide.

        1. Botanist*

          I’m realizing more and more that I have a very large amount of autonomy. I can go a couple days without really seeing or interacting with my supervisor, even though she sits one row of cubicles over. My department is famous for hiring people who don’t need to be babysat, in the words of my manager, and no one really cares when specifically come or go. It would be really weird in my department to say hello or goodbye to someone unless you pass them in the main hall. To each their own!

    4. SavannahMiranda*

      Okay, this is fair.

      I am anti-good-morning on the nicey-nicey feel-good front. But when it’s coupled with substantive information, like work notes and status updates, I can get behind that.

      This is something I can actually implement for sound reasons. But get two points for it – a nicey-nicey point I suppose, and a point for being substantive. No skin off my back.

      Thank you for explaining it in that manner.

  15. Sc@rlettNZ*

    #2 Perhaps your manager just isn’t a morning person. If I had the choice, I’d rather not have to speak to anyone before noon :-) Is she only ignoring you or does she treat everyone the same?

    I personally find perky, chirpy morning people all-in-your-face incredibly annoying. I’m not saying that’s what you are doing, but perhaps your manager just isn’t into the whole jazz hands GOOD MORNING thing. It doesn’t mean that its personality directed at you.

    1. Blue*

      Same. If I could teleport directly into my office and not have to say hello to anyone on the way into the building, I would be thrilled.

      1. Allison*

        I use the secondary entrance of my building to avoid having to say “good morning” to people.

    2. Environmental Compliance*

      I giggled probably too much at the mental image of my boss running around jazz-hands-ily chirping good morning at people.

    3. Oilpress*

      Me too, but the thing is, we get paid to be a manager throughout the work day, not just in the afternoons.

  16. restingbutchface*

    OP1 – argh, you poor thing. Your boss should not be putting you in this position. I’d be really wary of this whole situation and honestly, going down with the sinking ship.

    Allison’s script is great and I would add something to encourage your boss to continue mediation but with a more neutral party. If you can guide her towards asking for approximate support/mentorship that might help but this whole situation is giving me a very Not Good Feeling. Good luck.

  17. restingbutchface*

    General comment based on OP3’s letter – just a warning that not everyone who says they are a detective really is. Unethical debt collectors have been known to claim to be law enforcement and I’m sure we can all imagine nightmare situations where people present as law enforcement for scary reasons. Take ID, take a name and check with the station before assuming they are who they say they are.Did your manager see ID and take a name?

    1. fposte*

      The OP did subsequently talk to the detective, so presumably name and number were provided. It’s always good to check ID, but at this point if it was a debt collector there’s not much for the OP to do anyway. It wouldn’t help to burst triumphantly into the boss’s office and say “That wasn’t a detective coming for me, it was a debt collector!”

      1. restingbutchface*

        Nope, you’re right, I was talking generally but also, drunkenly, hence my comment not making entire sense.

    2. Detective at work*

      OP here. It was a real detective. He left his business card with my supervisor.

    3. Drax*

      Every cop I’ve spoken to on the phone always goes “My name is Rank Name, badge number 123456 from district A” before they even get into the meat of what they want to talk about or they request I call precinct X and ask for them to be sure they are who they say they are.

      We have a lot of theft in my work area, and as a welding shop some of it is danger danger if stolen so we talk to a lot of cops.

  18. TGIF*

    LW 1: Your manager should not be putting you in the middle. Your manager needs to put on her big girl panties and talk to Nora 1 on 1. It kind of makes me wonder if Nora was like this with previous managers.

  19. A non-hello person*

    What is it with people expecting to be greeted in the morning? I swear this isn’t the first letter of this type I’ve seen on this blog…. Maybe I’m used to a different working culture but I certainly wouldn’t go out of my way to say hello to anyone in the morning – I usually do an acknowledgement of my team’s presence upon arriving and that’s it. If my boss didn’t say hi to me I really wouldn’t care: we’re all here to do a job and if you don’t say hello to me in the morning it’s not going to affect me carrying out my work for you.

    1. londonedit*

      Where I work (and, I think, generally within the culture I live in) it’s very normal to greet people when you arrive at work in the morning. There’s no big performance, you don’t go around to every room in the building saying hello to everyone, but as each person arrives in the morning, they’ll say ‘Morning!’ and the rest of us will all say ‘Morning!’ back. That’s it, but it would definitely be weird if it didn’t happen. I currently work in a big building with lots of different rooms, each of which houses a different department/group of people who work together. There are eight or nine of us in my office and we all sit at a long bank of desks (no cubicles, these aren’t really much of a thing in most UK offices) so it’s very easy to just greet the room in general when you arrive, and then whoever’s in the room says hello back. Job done.

      1. Guacamole Bob*

        I think you’ve touched on an important point, which is that office layout matters a lot here. In most of the offices I’ve worked in, people offer at least a general good morning when they enter their shared open work area. I don’t think I’ve ever worked somewhere that people went around saying good morning to people who didn’t sit within easy line of sight, even just other high-walled cubicles, the office next door, etc. In my current setup people sometimes greet others in the offices as they walk down the hall, but it’s a very quick hello or goodbye on the way by, not a stop to chat, and not everyone does it.

        I think the exception has been when I’ve been an assistant and poked my head into my boss’s office to say hello when I arrived, but that’s because he might have had pending items for me that had already come up that day, and it was useful for him to know I was there to answer the phone and such. With jobs with less moment-to-moment coordination with the boss, walking over to their office to say good morning would have been odd. But not saying good morning to the person who sits 5 feet from you can feel unfriendly.

        1. Blue*

          You’re right, office layout is key. The only person I make a point to say “good morning” to in passing is the person at the front desk, and it’s because they sit out in the open and it feels rude to walk right past them without an acknowledgement. Everyone else on the floor is in private offices, so saying good morning to them would require you to deliberately stop and stick your head in the door, and no one bothers (thank goodness).

        2. iglwif*

          Yes, this! When I’m in the office (which is rare, I’m mostly remote) it’s a small mostly-open-plan place where you can come in the door and say “Morning!” simultaneously to everyone except the 3 boss-people, who have offices. This is what everyone does. Nobody goes down into the private offices to interrupt with a morning greeting–we’ll see the boss-people when they come upstairs to make a cup of tea.

    2. Asenath*

      It’s just a custom in some places. Anyone I see first thing in the morning gets “Good Morning”. Anyone who sees me says “Good Morning”. If you’re in a place where this is the custom, omitting it would be odd, and might – if you’re the only one omitted – lead you to wonder if you’d offended the other person.

      1. Friday afternoon fever*

        But there is a big difference between saying hello or good morning to people you see on your way to your desk, versus going out of your way to go into your boss’s office and say hello and launch a conversation. OP2, if it’s the latter, consider whether you’re being disruptive even if you are well-meaning.

    3. I coulda been a lawyer*

      I worked in a hell-hole like that. Our team was one of 4 scattered on one floor in a large office building, and had start times ranging from 6 to 9 am, it as one of 5 department supervisors I was expected to remember everyone’s start time and go find them to greet them when they arrived. AND THEN go wish them a nice evening 8 hours later! Talk about a time suck!!

      1. WellRed*

        Was that the company’s way of tracking they were on time and didn’t leave early?

    4. J.*

      There’s one person who I pass by on my way down the hall to my office who gets really hurt and upset when people don’t say hello to her when they come in. She’s an admin, and I get the sense from other conversations that she feels like it’s part of not being appreciated by other teams. Meanwhile, my office is in a high traffic area and I would lose my mind if every person coming in felt they needed to interrupt to say hi.

      People have different preference and needs. It doesn’t hurt anything to try to meet your colleagues where they are, especially over something so easy.

    5. Alienor*

      I literally go a whole week sometimes without seeing or speaking to my boss unless we’re in the same meeting, so I would be very sad all the time if I needed a greeting from him to start my day! He does give a quick hello if he happens to be passing my desk when I’m there, which is more than enough as far as I’m concerned.

    6. The Francher Kid*

      I used to work for a very emotionally unstable person. Tears and tantrums were par for the course. I was required, when I entered our open office area every morning, to walk straight to her desk, wish her a Very Happy Good Morning (must be cheerful! must be smiling!), and wait for her response before I was allowed to go to my desk and start my day (yes, she put all of this in writing). That’s also the only job I’ve ever had where I didn’t last a year. I really liked the work and the other people but she made it a hell hole and I’m still amazed I didn’t have a breakdown.

  20. pleaset*

    ‘But instead of having that conversation, she just kept repeating variations of “I don’t need to know” and “this doesn’t change anything and you’re not in any trouble.”

    I know I don’t need to give her more information, but the fact is that I WANT to. How do I get her to hear me out? Or is this something I should just let go?’

    I don’t understand this. What information does the OP want to give the boss? Let it go.

    1. valentine*

      OP3 wants her boss to know she’s not a suspect or involved in an open case. Boss may as well say, “Sure, Jan.”

    2. Alfonzo Mango*

      It seems OP is self-conscious about the event and wants to clear her name completely, and without getting closure from her boss she’s always going to wonder if her boss won’t truly believe her.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I think we’re talking about a hopeless loop of:
        “Really, it was a mix-up.”
        “No, seriously, this was nothing to do with me.”
        “Got it. Let’s get back to work.”

        Whether the boss always figured it was a mix-up, or thinks her suspicions about OP’s trips to “comic-con” dressed as a masked avenger are now confirmed.

        1. Detective at work*

          It wasn’t like that. It was more like:

          “I want to talk to you about what happened yest-”

          “I don’t need to know!”

          “I spoke to the detective and”

          “This doesn’t change anything!”

          1. RandomU...*

            Honestly though, why does it matter?

            It would be different if the swat team showed up at your office yelling your name out with a bullhorn, but in this case it was a detective looking for you in regards to an investigation.

            A lot of normal not criminal people end up at some point talking to the police about something they may or may not have information on.

            Move on and forget about it. Your boss has :)

          2. Barbara Lander*

            You know, if I were your boss I would not have handled it that way. I would have allowed you to be heard. Then I would have said that I was glad that it turned out to be nothing. I think you needed some kindness and reassurance after an upsetting experience, and you didn’t get that.

      2. Jennifer*

        I agree. She is concerned her boss’s opinion of her had changed, despite what she said.

  21. hbc*

    OP5: It’s fine not to know, but I’m remembering a person who turned us down because “My wife doesn’t want to leave [current location].” It really put us off, because it seems like all the information he needed was available *before* we flew him out and put him in a hotel. Sure, maybe it was more nuanced than that, and he didn’t want to say, “I could convince her to move somewhere, but not to your crappy town” or something, but it still left us feeling that he didn’t respect our time and money.

    So if you do decline, just be generic about it not being the right fit at this time.

    1. Overeducated*

      This stuff happens though! I once had to turn down a job that I really thought was THE job for me, perfect title and perfect location, because over the course of their very long hiring process, my underemployed spouse got an amazing opportunity in the city where we lived. This came up *right* before my multi-day in-person interview, and I still drove across two states and stayed overnight with the hope that if it worked out, maybe they would be willing to delay the start date long enough to minimize our time apart (they weren’t, but it’s not unheard of in academia, and it took half the time I requested to get someone else in the position anyway). Sometimes people’s lives change, or they’re just really not sure what compromises they are willing to make and they need to see the place and meet the people in person to figure that out, in that case the interview can be part of a good faith effort to see if it might work.

      1. Environmental Compliance*

        I think then it may be more appropriate to state that the position was no longer a good match for you, rather than bluntly say the spouse said no moving.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’ve seen couples look into moves where A has an interview, B is honestly interested in relocating, but then B’s initial research reveals a terrible environment for B’s career and/or the children in the family.
      But yes, I’d risk too much information to assure the employer they weren’t used for a travel opportunity: “We learned after doing research that there is only one teapot manufacturer in a 50-mile radius, and they do not hire Teapot PhDs like my wife.” or “My triplets are freshmen at Current-state University; out-of-state tuition is $50k higher per student, so financially it is not feasible for my family.”

    3. M from NY*

      You can choose to take the rejection personally or view it as opportunity to address issues you may not have considered before making offer to next candidate. There are things people will never look into regarding moving unless job offer is possibility. Expecting candidate to know definitively that they will say yes prior to an interview is unrealistic on your part.

    4. lulu*

      I really don’t think you should be put off by that response. Maybe he was hoping to convince his wife to relocate based on information he found out during the interview, and he didn’t. Or maybe he didn’t like the location himself but used his wife as an excuse. Bottomline, relocating is a big decision that is not always black and white from the get go, people will drop out during the hiring process, that’s normal and to be expected.

    5. hbc*

      So, to clarify for those who have commented, I absolutely don’t expect someone to accept a job offer if they traveled or anything, and obviously changes in circumstance are understood. But there’s a vast difference between “My wife just got a job offer that means we can’t move” and “My wife doesn’t want to move.” The phrasing of the former means something has changed, while the latter sounds like this was known to begin with, or could have been found out with a simple conversation. Same if you say you don’t want to work in a city, or do half the stuff listed in the job description, work full time, or live with the stated pay rate. Those are okay things to explore when you’re talking about an hour of interview time, but when there are significant cash outlays, any interviewer would want to know that it was already an uphill battle.

      And really, all I’m saying is that you should be circumspect. Go to any interview you want, but you *will* be judged if your reason makes you sound unthoughtful, just like anyone here wouldn’t want to be told “We want someone with X background” when they had your X-less resume from the start.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        I think that makes sense. I was in a situation where I had a great temporary offer in another country and my husband was originally on board with the temporary move (or I wouldn’t have pursued it). Except, he got cold feet about it and if the offer hadn’t fallen through for other reasons, I might have been in the position of having to turn it down because of that.

        However, I wouldn’t have used “My spouse doesn’t want to move” as a reason. My general reason for turning down any offer is that I gave it a lot of thought but it just isn’t the right opportunity for me at this time. It’s the candidate’s version of “We decided to pursue other candidates at this time.”

      2. RL*

        About 15 years ago, I went through an incredibly lengthy recruiting and hiring process for a position that would require international relocation. Throughout, my spouse was on board. And then I finally got a start date.

        That’s when spouse abruptly informed me they were no longer interested in relocating after all.

        It’s completely fair to be aggravated when a candidate suddenly says they don’t actually want to deal with fundamental elements of a position that they knew about earlier in the process. That’s something that was up front and entirely within their control, and if they never expressed concerns about those aspects, I can see how you would feel blindsided.

        But there isn’t necessarily a material difference between “spouse got a new job and can’t relocate” and “spouse doesn’t want to move.” In either case, the candidate might have known about the possibility before traveling for an interview, or the spouse’s situation might have changed. Maybe the spouse was excited about the idea of relocation, but when it came down to actually doing so, just couldn’t. Maybe the candidate tried incredibly hard every day to convince spouse, but ended up having to choose between the job offer and the marriage.

        Please don’t automatically think poorly about a candidate who cites third-party factors when they drop out of the hiring process.

  22. Birch*

    OP1, check out the Karpman Drama Triangle. You are being forced into the “rescuer” role. Some advice I recently got about this: you need to draw boundaries. Don’t let yourself be forced in to “fix” the situation, but empower the people with the issue to fix it themselves. Support both sides but don’t get sucked between them.

    1. valentine*

      Supporting Jane in her ridiculous fantasy or Nora and her possible insubordination isn’t the way to go.

      1. Birch*

        Check out the triangle–that’s not what “support” means here and that’s not what I said. It means empowering people to fix their problems themselves by pointing them to resources if you have those resources. A lot of times it means saying “that’s not part of my job, you should go talk to XYZ office and they will help you.”

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      I was once a bystander to the following:
      Sam, from outside office, inside grad student group: “Alex is really stressed that their senior research prof thinks they’re doing a bad job. You get along with him: you could explain.”
      Pat: “Our senior research prof thinks Alex’s only skill is convincing other people to do Alex’s work, so that would be a terrible idea.”
      Sam: “But Alex isn’t comfortable raising things directly with the people involved.”

    3. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      It’s not OP’s job to “empower the people with the issue to fix it themselves”. She shouldn’t be involved AT ALL. This is between Nora and boss.

      1. Birch*

        I’m not sure what the confusion is here, but we are not disagreeing. I don’t think it’s OP’s job, but OP has been brought into the situation and has to extricate herself. The way to do that is to draw her own boundaries and remind the others that they need to solve their own problems. That’s what I mean by empower them to fix it themselves.

        1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

          It’s the words you’ve used. When you say empower them to fix it themselves, that suggests she gets involved beyond telling her boss no and letting her know that her request was inappropriate.

  23. Doctor Schmoctor*

    #2 Don’t worry about it. Some people are just not “good morning” people. It’s probably not personal

    #3 If you really WANT to say something, I suppose you can just say they were looking for someone, but you don’t know the person, so …

  24. No Mercy Percy*

    #2, I’m exactly like your boss. I don’t find any value in that ritual. I’m still polite and professional to my colleagues though, I just don’t ever bother them with something that isn’t work-related.

    1. Galina*

      I find it really bizarre that so many commenters here refuse to participate in this ritual. Even calling it a “ritual” seems weird. Acknowledging other people’s presence is a pretty basic part of human interaction.

      1. Jennifer*

        Same. The Good Morning wars have been raging here for years.

        If I make eye contact with someone, I acknowledge them. If someone doesn’t say good morning, I don’t stress about it. But getting mad about having to say it is weird.

        1. No Mercy Percy*

          I’m not angry about it, just slightly annoyed by the pointlessness of it (I roll my eyes internally but that’s it). I can handle the people who do it, and I don’t annoy fellow people like me who don’t.

          1. Jennifer*

            I don’t understand being annoyed by it either. Or the internal eye roll. It’s two words. Different perspectives, I guess.

            1. valentine*

              It’s the contradiction of insisting on it and saying it’s meaningless. As we agree it’s meaningless, why must I waste my time?

        2. Elizabeth Proctor*

          I agree. Once eye contact is made, some sort of acknowledgement is necessary for politeness. Even a head nod or wave of the hand would suffice.

      2. The Other Dawn*

        I agree. To me, there’s no downside in acknowledging someone. It’s social lubricant.

        I’m starting a new job Monday managing a department. I have to walk by all their desks to get to mine so I’ll just voice a general “hey, good morning” into the air as I go by. They can respond or not. But I’m not going to put myself in the position of being the “new standoffish boss who can’t be bothered to acknowledge her team.”

        I also have to say that always seeing so many comments that people don’t want to say hello or be acknowledged in any way makes me anxious about going to a new place–and I’m not even an anxious person!

        1. TootsNYC*

          well, one downside might be that you’ve learned if you nod in response, the Chatty Colleague will then come in your office and talk at you.

          (Not saying this is our OP–just pointing out that there can be a downside)

          1. The Other Dawn*

            Yes, very true! I’ve fallen victim to that a few times. When I see those people I just keep it moving while saying hi.

          2. Jasnah*

            There’s a lot of information you can get from Chatty Colleague about the office, especially if you’re new. Plus once one person has “accepted” you by chatting with you, it lets others see how chill you are and serves as an icebreaker for the office.

            We don’t only do work at our desks in front of our computers–this is also part of work!

      3. thankful for AAM.*

        It is oddly ritual-like to walk around the cubicle farm or open office and especially to closed offices to say good morning to every person.

        I have followed a rule (I saw here?) of acknowledging anyone within a 5 foot bubble or so. That has worked for me. But with one coworker, who has her back to me when at her desk, seems irritated that I am interrupting her with an hello.

        So we all have customs and preferences.

      4. Alianora*

        I find it strange if you’re walking past someone or share an office and don’t say good morning, but I think it’s normal not to actively seek out people if you don’t share a physical workspace. Not clear to me which it is in the OP.

      5. SavannahMiranda*

        Because it’s highly performative. It requires a lot of emotional labor. Putting on a pleasant face when one may not feel particularly pleasant – through no fault of the other person. Some folks just are not morning people. They have a task list in their head, they need to get down to work without distraction or performance, and will come out of their den to socialize later.

        People who take this personally probably take it personally when they are cut off in traffic. It’s not personal. And it feels laboriously fake and draining to be made to perform good mornings.

        Acknowledging presence can be done without stopping by to chat up individuals. I’m the kind of worker who would find that a profound waste of my time and horribly annoying. Now if you said good morning! in your first email to me, then launched into the substance of the email, that’s fine. I’m acknowledged. It doesn’t have to be physically performative.

        That said, I commented upthread where a manager explained that she appreciates it when her reports stop in to say good morning AND provide substantive work updates, and that it made sense to me when put that way.

        Work updates and status reports, with a good morning thrown in? Check. I’m there for you.

        The ritual of good morning with no substance or information conveyed, especially on an individual basis, one by one? Please stop being the good morning police. The whole world simply ain’t got time for that.

        1. Galina*

          But we’re not talking about having a conversation with every person you see. We’re talking about literally just saying “Good morning” as you walk past someone or a general greeting to the room when you walk in if its an open office. I’m very task-oriented in the morning too and quite introverted and even i realize that participating in these kind of rituals really goes a long way in building relationships with people.

          1. Oilpress*

            Exactly. And if it’s someone you need things from (i.e. a direct report) then it makes logical sense to keep them happy and liking you. If you only talk to them when you absolutely need something then they’re probably going to hate your guts.

          2. Alianora*

            Yes, thank you. It’s really not a huge performance. Just saying ‘morning’ shouldn’t be some huge ordeal, and if you refuse to participate in basic pleasantries like this (as in, not replying to someone else’s good morning), it will come across as rude.

            Kind of a silly reference, but it reminds me of Mrs. Brewster from the Little House on the Prairie books.

          3. 2 feet behind*

            If you are requiring people to interrupt what they’re doing to have a momentary social interaction with you, some of those people are going to decide that you have bad judgement. And if someone like OP keeps pushing despite signs that the forced socializing is not encouraged, that is bad judgement. Be careful of assuming that you understand what these little rituals mean to people; something that feels like building a relationship to you might feel to them like having bricks thrown at them.

            1. Galina*

              If someone saying good morning to you feels like having bricks thrown at you, I seriously recommend seeing a therapist. That’s not normal.

              1. NapkinThief*

                ADHDer here – depending on the circumstance, I could totally see a “good morning” (and ensuing social lubricant conversation) that could feel like a ton of bricks landing on my work productivity if it came at the wrong time. Not going to a therapist anymore but on some not-so-magical medication – nevertheless this is not a one-size-fits-all social ritual. Why merely perform friendliness when you can show actual concern for you colleagues and their work by respecting their preferences?

          4. only acting normal*

            Not all “open offices” are conducive to announcing “good morning” on entry; in ours it would be a bad idea. I walk past ~100 desks to get to mine, and that’s taking a route to minimise walking through office space.
            I say a gentle “morning” when I reach the bank of 6 desks I sit at. But my ‘team’ is spread all over the building, so generally it’s a case of greeting someone when you have business with them: “Afternoon Bob, have you got the guacamole reports yet?”

            (No, we don’t even have cubicals. Yes, even the executives sit in the open plan. Yes, it is ridiculously distracting.)

      6. Tachy IT Lady*

        I think most people are annoyed with people going out of their way to greet people that are not in their line of sight. It can be very disruptive, especially when people try to make small talk when you’re in work mode.

    2. Arctic*

      I don’t think it’s possible to be polite and professional if you ignore people when they say good morning or don’t acknowledge someone if you have made eye contact with them.

      1. No Mercy Percy*

        I always return a “good morning” by muttering out a simple “morning”. I’m slightly annoyed by having to engage in a social ritual I find pointless, but society deems it rude if you ignore it, so I mutter out a minimum response because I have to.

        What I never do is initiate it. I’ll walk right past someone in complete silence. Something as mundane as walking past your desk or passing you in the hall isn’t something worthy of acknowledgement. Ignoring when someone says good morning is a “crime” I don’t commit. I think it’s rude in general to completely ignore someone if they say something to you, not specifically for good morning.

        If not initiating good morning is also a crime (I don’t believe it is), the person I don’t say good morning to is equally guilty of it.

        Tl;Dr I always return good morning, is never initiate it. That covers me either way.

        1. Lady Jay*

          With all possible kindness, I want to point out that I think the frequency with which Allison gets, and posts, letters on this blog saying, “My boss doesn’t say good morning to me! Is this a problem!” may indicate that while you intendno rudeness when you walk past somebody in complete silence, rudeness may still be perceived.

          Humans are social creatures who act as much from our gut as from our brain; we engage in rituals that don’t necessarily make a lot of sense, but that are important in making up who we are. So when I hear somebody say, “Yeah, “good morning” doesn’t seem like a logical ritual”, I hear someone who may be perceived as not fitting in, or someone who’s off in their own world. This is why so many people apparently think those who don’t say “good morning” don’t care.

          (Please note, I am not saying *you* don’t care or *you* are an outlier in your team, just trying to explain why apparently non-logical rituals may be important in human interactions.)

          1. SavannahMiranda*

            “while you intend no rudeness when you walk past somebody in complete silence, rudeness may still be perceived.”

            This explains the woman who will walk up to my door, stand there, look at me, and chirp “good morning!” a few times a week. I suppose she’s peevish I didn’t already say it to her. Whatever makes her feel better.

            That is her circus and her monkeys, not mine. If it makes her feel better with herself to pointedly force a good morning on me a few days a week, sure. I’m glad that gives her relief. It’s not going to alter my choices or how I feel about the matter. I will never walk past her office, stick my head in, and cheerfully yell my good mornings at her.

            Obviously she is a colleague in a different department and not someone I work with directly on a day to day basis, or have in my reporting structure. So I can afford profound indifference. If she were closer in the hierarchy I’d be required by pragmatics to handle it differently.

            As far as being perceived as not fitting in or being off in my own world, yes absolutely. That is my preferred position in relation to office socialization. If other people get meaning and depth from office socialization, I’m pleased as punch for them. That’s not where I find it.

            I’ll be pleasant, I work hard, I team up with people who come to me, I’m pleasant and effective with people I have to go to. I’m not a grouch or a grump. But I really don’t care about 80% of the social conversations I hear taking place around me most of the time. If that makes me rude, oh well!

            1. No Mercy Percy*

              Those last two paragraphs pretty much sum up my viewpoint on workplace socialization, although it’s much closer to 100% of social conversation around me I don’t care about.

        2. General Ginger*

          I don’t know that I’d call “mutter out a minimum response because I have to” particularly polite.

          1. 2 feet behind*

            It’s far more polite than the person demanding their attention and compliance for a ritual they’ve already indicated they’re not interested in participating in.

      2. Spencer Hastings*

        Like No Mercy Percy, I don’t usually initiate it, but I’ll smile and wave or nod if I happen to make eye contact. I feel like I’m being less intrusive to the other person, in a way. Or like I’m making a distinction between the passing-in-the-hall, smile-and-nod ‘hi’ and the conversation-starting verbal ‘hi’.

    3. Hiring Mgr*

      I just say “What’s up” or “How’s it going” but you have to be really cool to pull that off

  25. Jennifer*

    Re: detective I think your boss understands there are many situations where a detective would need to talk to someone that wouldn’t involve them being in trouble with the law. I’m curious as to why he didn’t try you at home first. Anyhoo don’t stress about it. Take her at her word.

    1. TootsNYC*

      He may have googled our OP and found out where she works. Depending on herjob, it wouldn’t be hard to figure out that she’s likely to be at work during his workday.

      1. Jennifer*

        I understand how he could have gotten the information. I’m assuming the police have other resources beyond google to locate people’s addresses and that they have officers that can talk to people outside normal working hours. He could have left a note and business card in her door. I’d be less inclined to cooperate with a cop that showed up at my job, not knowing how that would affect my employment status. It feels harass-y.

    2. Former Retail Manager*

      Also, lots of people won’t open the door to police without a warrant or speak to them at home. They just won’t come to the door. Those same people likely wouldn’t behave that way at work in front of co-workers/bosses because they’re essentially cornered.

      1. Jennifer*

        But why would you want to corner someone you think is basically a witness for a case? You want their help not to put them on the defense. At least TRY to reach them at home before going to their job.

  26. WellRed*

    It’s the Let it Go edition of AAM. Letters 2,3 and 4, let it go. Also, 4, do some personal reflection.

  27. Eye Contact*

    #2 I’m an introvert and not a morning person so my rule to not be the office jerk is to say Good Morning only to people I have direct eye contact with. So if you are on an end cube and are looking at me or are walking past me I say Good Morning ( So mainly to my cube mate that I have no option but to look at when I set my stuff down). I don’t think its a big deal to not say Good Morning to everyone but I think if you make eye contact you should acknowledge them especially if they work for you.

  28. Jennifer*

    #1 Nora is being extremely rude and unprofessional. I’d rethink my friendship with her If I were you.

    What Jane asked of you is inappropriate but I understand why she feels the way she does about Nora.

    1. Scarlet2*

      Rethink her friendship? Wow, you make it sound like the woman is kicking puppies for breakfast.

      I don’t think we have enough information in the letter to absolutely conclude that Nora is “extremely rude and unprofessional”. It does appear however that Jane is in way over her head, and not being able to deal with Nora is part of the problem. Jane is the one with power in this situation, she’s also presumably paid more than LW and Nora. She should do the job she’s paid to do and actually manage instead crying to her subordinate that she’s “bullied” by another subordinate.

  29. CoveredInBees*

    OP1, your boss is trying to put you in a bad position and I’d do whatever it takes to not get in the middle of things. it might help your case to note to Jane that having you do everything she mentioned will also undermine her authority. It could look like you’ve taken the lead on group management because she can’t handle it (which seems to be the case). That will probably also not go well for you because you’ll either seem like her errand boy or like you’ve self-appointed yourself leader in the vacuum she’s created. Neither of these is a good look.

    If Jane isn’t getting the training, support, etc that she needs then she needs to reach upwards or possibly to other managers at her level for guidance on how to handle things.

  30. CPS Worker*

    OP#4 sounds like the people who call CPS on landlords when they finally get evicted just to make their lives miserable.

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Yikes, people do do that? I know this is offtopic and I apologize, but there needs to be a special circle of heck for people who call CPS for frivolous reasons. My biggest fear as a parent of young children was running into one of them.

      1. Environmental Compliance*

        Yup. From a previous job in a county health department as the person condemning houses, there’s also a ridiculous number of people who will call in frivolous complaints just to get the HD out there and do an inspection and annoy whoever the caller-in’s mad at. The number of times I showed up and it turned out to be some weird divorce/parental spat…

        We actually ended up amending an ordinance to allow us to levy fines against those who called in too often to register a complaint of that nature as it took up way too much of the very limited time & resources we had.

        I still think my favorite was the two brothers that lived right next door to each other and each ran a competing business (think electricians/home improvement) and decided they hated each other and called a complaint in on each other about 3-4 times a week. It devolved at the end before I sent a Quit Your Shit letter to each of them to “but he’s an A$$HOLE YOU GUYS SHOULD CARE”. Well, there’s no laws against it I can enforce that you don’t like the way he planted the landscaping on his own property, so knock it off.

      2. CPS Worker*

        Yes, and it eats up the time we have to spend doing real cases. My other favorite kind of “case” is when one woman calls on another whose children share the same father.

        1. Ex CPS*

          My favorites were always the ones where I said, look, we are closing your case, here’s some follow up resources. And the parent would respond, okay, so I can call in on (other parent) now, right?!? And I would say, if you have a concern for abuse or neglect you can always call, however, you told me just yesterday you did not have a concern. So please do not make a malicious report. And they would say, okay. And the next day I would get a new report on a recently closed case. And then I got in trouble for closing the case even though the new report was screened out and not investigated.

      3. MatKnifeNinja*

        Calling CPS on the neighbor who has pissed you off, is elevated to an Olympic event in my immediate area.

        Lastest CPS slap back was a neighbor who let their dog crap all over the common area.

        Insane and a waste of resources.

      4. RUKiddingMe*

        Oh yeah they do. Also hostile ass*ole in-laws. My POS brother-in-law was hitting my sister. *Someone* called 911 and he got arrested. He was sure it was me. It wasn’t but I don’t care.

        For some reason he had it in his head that even with mu business, taxes I pay, etc. being all above board and super easy for any and all government agencies to verify that I was somehow scamming DSHS for … food stamps. Yes that’s right apparently I was scamming food stamps. I know he was projecting…they (including my sister) are all shady like that and figure that everyone else does the same kinds of nefarious stuff they do.

        So DSHS guy comes to my house (I still don’t know why he bothered…but anyway) and tells me that “someone” had reported that I was getting food stamps illegally but he (DSHS guy) couldn’t find a record of me ever receiving them. Well dude…because I don’t? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

        The very next day “someone” told the armed-like-commndos-police that I was running a meth lab. That one was good…it wasted about three hours of my time, got my house searched, and just generally annoyed the fk out of me. I did explain the recent (and longer term) issues with BIL. Not long after that he “had court” but IDK what it was about specifically.

        These…were mild and pretty short term/quickly resolved compared to what some people end up dealing with apparently.

  31. The Other Dawn*

    RE: #1

    I have mixed feelings about both Jane and Nora.

    Jane is a brand new manager. As most of us know, there usually aren’t “new manager” training sessions beforehand that tell you everything you need to know about managing people. You learn on the job by trial and error. In the beginning there are usually lots of errors—at least for me there was, and I still make some. It seems like Jane lacks the confidence and tools to manage well. That said, what she wants OP to do is completely inappropriate. Jane should have gone to her own boss for guidance on tackling the Nora and team issues.

    In regards to Nora, how does she “call out” Jane in meetings? Is it just a matter of correcting misinformation provided by Jane in order to make sure everyone is on the same page? Is she respectful about it? If so, I don’t think that’s a problem at all. I do that in meetings, and people do it to me when needed. Being blunt doesn’t equal being rude or disrespectful. If she’s rude about it, though, or using it as an opportunity to make Jane look stupid, that’s inappropriate and should be dealt with. Pushing back on emails not responded to seems normal to me; it annoys the hell out of me when I have to chase after people who don’t respond timely.

    Not knowing exactly how Nora is “calling out” Jane in meetings, my take is that she’s frustrated with Jane’s inability to manage and think everything through. It’s also possible that maybe Nora wanted the manager job and has less patience with Jane because of that, and every mistake Jane makes is magnified in Nora’s mind. Obviously we don’t know if Nora wanted the job. I just mention it as a possibility for her behavior.

    I think OP should use Alison’s script with Jane and then if things don’t change, she should mention it to Jane’s boss. If I was Jane’s boss, I’d most definitely want to know this is happening.

    1. Dutchie*

      I had a male boss who told me I was rude and disrespectful when I corrected him in a meeting when he tried to blame an issue on me. Then all hell broke loose. I had no future in his team… Thankfully, he was moved to lower position in another team because he sucked as a manager, and he sucked hard.

    2. RUKiddingMe*

      Plot twist: Jane did go to her own boss for help and Boss said “figure it out.”

  32. Linzava*

    OP 1,
    I wanted to add that one other aspect of your letter jumped out at me:

    “I was out of office for two weeks and she said while I was gone “things fell apart” and it made her realize she needs me to be here to help “control the energy of the team” and make sure everyone is getting along.”

    Does this mean you won’t be allowed vacations? I would definitely follow-up with what she meant by this.

    1. Mr. Tyzik*

      This jumped out at me too. Jane is trying to stage OP as the keystone of the team, when that person should be Jane.

      Jane is abdicating her management responsibilities big time. I’d be curious what else she’s offloaded to others on the team.

      Nora isn’t helping the situation. Be aware that you are often judged by the company you keep, and if Jane and Nora continue to have issues, and you continue to be friends with Nora, Jane may come to see you as problematic, too. I hate to say it, but be wary in your interactions with Nora, especially around Jane.

      1. I'd Rather Not Say*

        This indicates to me that OP may already be doing some sort of “mediating” and should back off that and do as AAM advises and report it up the chain.

  33. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

    OP4, good rule to live by: do not cuss out your coworkers.

    If you feel you absolutely have to cuss out your coworker, for the love of dog, own it. Serve your suspension proudly and without any thoughts of retaliation. (Only adding this caveat because I had a supervisor who got written up once by saying to a lower-title coworker who wasn’t a direct report, “if I did (thing that the coworker had done), then (client) would think I’m a fng idiot.” He got pulled into HR, written up, who knows what else. The coworker in question was terrible to work with, so my supervisor didn’t have a lot of regrets for calling him for something egregious he’d done at work. One thing he most certainly did not do though, was dig up dirt on the cussed-out coworker and call in with an anonymous report on him. He’d have been horrified if anyone had suggested that even as a joke! Sheesh! Own your actions.)

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      *didn’t have a lot of regrets for calling him out. He did have some regrets for using the wording he used.

    2. RUKiddingMe*

      Many many moons ago when I really shouldn’t have been in charge, I got yelled at by a client for ) something coworker (subordinate) did and 2) coworker said that *I* had told him to do it (or do it that way…can’t remember exactly it’s been *Many* moons).

      I was livid that he was trying to throw me under the bus. That $1.00 extra per hour to be the “lead” wasn’t worth it. The client told me he would “have your job” I told him he could take it (yeah really really shouldn’t have been in charge).

      After client was gone I let loose on Coworker…I eviscerated him verbally, he was in tears literally. I was *so* mad. About five minutes later I felt horrible, called my boss and filled her in.

      I don’t know how I kept my job,…or why they didn’t demote me at least, how Coworker forgave me, how others that were present managed to treat me like a normal human being, etc. Even though I had pretty much zero repercussions other than my own conscience, I never came even near yelling at, much less swearing at coworkers/staff again…even if I wanted to.

  34. Exhausted Trope*

    OP#2, do I understand that your boss used to acknowledge you in the morning but now does not? If that is the case, I believe you do have something to be concerned about. Whenever similar stuff has happened to me, I was about to be let go or disciplined for something.

    1. anonagain*

      I think the OP was the one initiating the conversations in the morning, but has since stopped.

      Either way, the supervisor is probably just returning to her usual behavior now the the OP isn’t brand new and no longer needs to check in first thing every morning.

  35. Detective Amy Santiago*

    I can’t be the only person who read #4 and wondered if “cursing a coworker” meant using profanity or a magic curse, right?

    1. Rhoda*

      I’m guessing profanity, but if the coworker’s crops wither and his milk cows dry up, we’ll know he was cursed the old fashioned way. :-D

    2. Arctic*

      No, they would be a pretty silly reading of the letter. If it was a proper curse LW wouldn’t have been the one suspended!

  36. Brett*

    #5 Our team interviews a lot of people in the same position as you: they have a current job and are not looking to relocate, would have to relocate for our job, but our job is interesting (and pays well, but the people we are interviewing often have high paying jobs already). That is why we use recruiters, because qualified people almost always already have other jobs!

    Because we understand this, a significant part of our interview is convincing the interviewee that the job is right for them (or helping them discover that it is not right). We rarely fly people out until both parties are very certain that there is a fit. Sometimes for a strong candidate with a track record of working remotely, we agree to remote work as part of the offer negotiations (but we ask in the very first interview if they are interested in relocating, or can only work remotely).

  37. M from NY*

    OP1 Go to your boss now, explain situation from your point of view then share what Jane asked you to do.

    I’m advising this way because if you mention what Jane asked first Big manager may view this as you wanting to side with Nora vs the real problem – Jane’s ongoing inability to effectively direct the team. It sounds like she was promoted to position because she (mis)represented past experience. Constantly needing to be corrected is the red flag that stood out to me. Focusing on how Nora responds distracts from actual problem, Jane inability to do job and her inappropriate request basically asking you to “handle” your coworkers. Let her boss know so they can evaluate and address all of issues. Talking to Jane first just gives her opportunity to prepare her defense or clean up things she has been letting slide.

    1. LCL*

      I don’t think this involves misrepresenting past experience. OP said Jane got promoted due to her great past experience, but she had never managed a team before and the company needed a manager. It looks to me like Jane was very good at the tasks of her job, so got the promotion. Great at the job but with no management experience. That used to be the way it worked here-the top tech person would be the one who most likely would get the promotion. Our HR has tried to change that, with varying degrees of success.

      1. M from NY*

        Being good at your job doesn’t translate into being a good manager of people. I’m only going by what OP shared. If Nora complaints were focused on team culture (that’s not how we do it at Llama Inc) that’s one thing but from OP it sounds like Jane doesn’t have handle on the tasks of the position and Nora is correcting “what” they do.

        There’s always transition time when taking new job but after all these months Jane isn’t improving and her solution to use OP as a shield doesn’t support “she’s good at what she does/did” but more like she’s great at interviewing and bit off more than she could chew. Nora is red herring. Jane being unable to function while OP was on vacation is the problem.

  38. Four lights*

    OP 5: Unless you know 100% for sure that you would never relocate (like if you had to stay close to your kid) I wouldn’t worry about it, because you really don’t know. A friend of mine did an interview across the country mainly for the free trip, with no intention of taking the job. But the offer was too good, so he ended up moving after all.

  39. Kathenus*

    For #1 – I used to have a boss who I had a friendly professional relationship with before he was hired. He was great at being a subject matter expert but not at managing people, and he frequently ruffled a lot of feathers with the way he presented information and decisions. There was a period where he asked me to preview emails to give him feedback before they were sent out, because I could use the lens of myself and the other employees on how they might be perceived, versus what he was trying to convey. It was really effective and I was comfortable in that role. I would NOT have been comfortable, and it would have been very unprofessional of him, if he had asked me to mediate for him with other staff directly. I agree with professionally pushing back with Jane once, and if that’s not effective or if she reacts badly then taking it to grandboss.

  40. Master Bean Counter*

    #1–Your boss is failing, Nora knows this. Nora is being inappropriate about it. You really need to whisper up the food chain about this situation. Jane is in over her head and either needs to step up or step back–but it’s not on you to make that happen. If you want to do a good thing for Nora you might want to tell her you get she’s frustrated with Jane, but the way she is going about showing it, isn’t making her look good either.
    #5–I get you. Just keep in mind it’s always good to see what’s out there, but you have the luxury of being extremely choosy on whether or not you make the jump.

  41. StressedButOkay*

    OP4, you were disciplined for cursing at a subordinate and have a laundry list of things this person has done that could potentially get them in trouble and/or fired but you didn’t previously act upon?

    If I was your supervisor, the fact that you didn’t act on those items at the time they happened coupled with what got you suspended – and remember, please, that regardless of what this individual did to make you angry, that the act that got you suspended is 100% on you – would make me ask if you had issues with this person in the first place (i.e., seemingly ‘hoarding’ dirt on them until the ‘right moment’) on top of retaliating for your suspension.

  42. KarenK*

    #3: Some people are really weird about any contact with law enforcement. My husband has never forgiven the town clerk for sending a patrol car to our house because he forgot to sign the check he used to pay for his car registration. He was concerned that people would think he had done something illegal. I’m sure the clerk thought she was doing him a favor, i.e., not requiring him to come back to the town hall to sign the check, but that’s not how he saw it.

    My own contact with law enforcement was not so benign. I had just started a brand new job. I may not have even been there a couple of weeks, IIRC (it was over 30 years ago!), when I got a call from the FBI. I won’t go into details, but it was a legit call, as in, I was connected to the person they were looking for. I did not want my new employer to know that I had a connection to someone the FBI was looking for, so I asked to meet them away from my office. We met, and I gave them what information I could. That was the last I heard from them.

    So, I can feel for the OP in #3, and understand why she wants to absolutely set the record completely straight.

    1. Detective at work*

      Thank you! I’m going to let it go, but that was the gist of my thought process.

    2. Jennifer*

      Yes, I totally understand why she is stressing. Having law enforcement show up at your work is nerve-wracking. I had a bogus, scam artist debt collector call me at work pretending to be law enforcement and my heart still skips a beat when the phone rings at my desk and I don’t recognize the number.

      I don’t know their procedures, but it seems they would try someone at home before that. Coming to their work makes it seem really serious. I hope the advice helps her let it go. I think her boss is giving her the benefit of the doubt here.

  43. LawBee*

    LW2 – I know at least three people in management level positions who have actual post-it notes or calendar reminders that are essentially “Ask staff how their weekend was. Take the long way to the coffee station and greet everyone.” It doesn’t mean they don’t care about their staff, or that they’re cold unfeeling people – just that they don’t have a relationship-based working style. These people have acknowledged that showing more interest in their staff’s personal lives has value, even if it isn’t something that comes naturally to them, so – post-it notes and calendar reminders.

    LW4 – don’t be a jerk. You need to get your own professionalism in order.

  44. Drax*

    LW #3 – it’s a little late to explain so I’d let it go. Going forward though, if it ever happens again lead with what you want to say instead of “about yesterday”. For example, you should have walked in and said “What a wild misunderstanding, that detective thought I was someone else! Thanks for passing the message along to get that sorted” and leave.

    On the other side, I’d be grateful she didn’t want follow up. Having had some serious situations with the police, it’s always made it worse when people want to know all the things. I got “compelled to testified” but the officer came by my work with the paperwork and refused to tell anyone anything but was so serious that when I came in the next day I was flat out told if I was in trouble with the law I would be terminated. I had called in a drunk driver and they caught him, I wasn’t the one in trouble.

  45. L. S. Cooper*

    I feel for OP#2. I used to have a boss who wouldn’t even respond to say good morning if you initiated, and it was incredibly stressful. I don’t think he ever realized that practically everyone working there thought he was rude and disrespectful of us. (It wasn’t just the “good morning”s that went snubbed, either. No “thank you”, no “hey, I’m behind you”, no generic pleasantries of any sort. Ugh.)

  46. Binky*

    I feel like most people are reading LW#4’s question without any charity. There’s so much information missing! The key question is – how serious is the stuff that you know? An ancillary question is, was it related to the incident that got you suspended?

    If what you know is penny-ante stuff, minor breaches in your employer’s rules that could technically get this person disciplined, but you were right to ignore it prior to your suspension, let it go.

    If what you know is important – major breaches of your employer’s trust or the law (theft, sexual harassment, racial discrimination, bullying) – then you do need to report it. But you have to have an answer ready for why you didn’t report earlier. For example, if this person was sexually harassing you and you didn’t feel comfortable reporting, then you can talk to your boss about it when you get back. You can explain that your cursing was in reaction to inappropriate contact/comments and that, on reflection you handled it poorly, but that you still want it to be formally addressed now.

    1. Former Retail Manager*

      I agree. So much missing detail here. If the stuff is serious, I’d seriously consider leaving, unless this is a long-term career for you. I think you should consider leaving anyway. If the workplace is such that serious breaches are occurring and you are pushed to the point that you’re cursing at subordinates (no judgment…I’ve been there and totally wanted to do the same….came close a couple times, but bit my tongue ultimately), I’m inclined to believe that there may be other issues that make this workplace less than ideal.

      On the flip side, if the only stuff happening is minimal stuff….took 5 mins extra on break, etc. and you just lost your temper with your subordinate due to reasons that had nothing to do with him, then it’s best to move on and let it go.

    2. Beth*

      I think this is because the question OP4 asked isn’t about whether to report what they know–it’s about HOW to report it without looking like they’re retaliating. And Alison is right that there’s likely no way to do that. The timing is bad no matter what; if it is a serious issue, then it’s suspicious that they sat on it until now instead of reporting it right away, and if it’s not, then it’s suspicious that they’re choosing this timing to make a big deal out of nothing.

      That doesn’t mean that OP4 shouldn’t report it; something like theft or sexual harassment definitely should be reported as soon as possible. But OP4 should be prepared for the reality that the report will reflect badly on them as well as on the person they’re reporting (maybe not to the same degree, depending on the offense, but they aren’t likely to come out of this totally unscathed unless they can prove that they just found out about this offense and the timing is a really unfortunate coincidence).

    3. Jennifer*

      I agree. He could be a hothead OR he could be a good person who was pushed to their absolute limit. I have never cursed out anyone at work but there a few times when I wanted to. We don’t have enough detail to judge either way.

  47. Dust Bunny*

    OP1, this is a hot mess. It does sound like Nora is bullying, but it also sounds like Jane is in over her head and isn’t hacking it as a manager. But you need to stay out of it. This needs the attention of somebody higher up than Jane.

  48. Checkert*

    OP1 I think it’s important to consider whether Nora is making a valid point. I once had someone in a higher position than me that was a hurricane of chaos and ineffectiveness. I would consistently have to regather control in meetings and correct the misinformation they spread, and toward the end I stopped sugarcoating altogether and was blunt because, frankly, anything less than blunt was rendered completely ineffective. It boiled down to them just REALLY not being a good fit for the job, and because it was so forward facing, it caused a cascade of issues that are still to this day being rectified. I think the fact that the manager is feeling ‘bullied’ speaks to the possibility that she truly isn’t managing well, and clearly isn’t taking the feedback well either. Not everyone is meant to manage, and it can be truly maddening and destructive to let a terrible manager go unfettered.

    1. i feel that*

      Yeah, I’m very sympathetic to Nora in this situation. I’ve been in her shoes before, and it’s infuriating to have a boss who’s just…terrible, and drags down the team, and makes everyone else’s life worse.

  49. somebody blonde*

    While I think the advice for the first letter is sound, if you’re definitely friends with Nora, you may want to talk to her about trying a new approach with Jane anyway. I can’t imagine all this aggressive calling out is actually giving her the results she wants from Jane- she’s probably really frustrated and starting to look like a difficult employee to outsiders. Maybe she should take more of a managing up approach, where she can try to take over responsibilities Jane isn’t doing adequately instead of just being mad about it. The LW doesn’t have any obligation to do this of course, but I had a similar conversation with one of my coworkers at my last job, and it basically fixed our team dynamic.

  50. Astrea*

    Question #5 is something I worry about a lot, regarding local and non-local jobs. Due to disabilities and limited work experience (and lack of self-confidence), I very rarely see a posting for a job that I *know* I could take *and* could do *and* absolutely want to do. Convincing myself that it’s OK to apply for a job I’m uncertain about is an uphill battle every time. One test I give myself is imagining that the job application period is about to close — do I feel an urge to get an application in and worry about it later, or do I feel more relieved that I can soon stop worrying about it?

    The struggle occurs even with jobs extremely close to my current home, but is is much magnified for distant ones, though I seldom consider those at all. I can’t drive and much of the US has lousy to no public transportation, so most jobs in most places are literally unreachable for me. After preemptively refusing a dream job mid-interview because I realized I couldn’t relocate to and live in that area, I told myself I would never again apply for a job in a place where I wasn’t sure I could live. This was reinforced when I did relocate for a job, found the area barely livable, and resigned in order to return to my current town. But my career of choice — which I’ve been lucky enough to have had jobs in — is marine-biology education, and I live inland. So if I want to return to that, I have to take chances. And I do occasionally apply for such dream jobs in dream locations, not knowing just how I’ll get there but wanting them so badly that applying is 100% pain. I’ve never had the complication of a potential employer paying for my transfer to an interview, and it might add a layer of guilt if I do, but might also make me feel a little more like they truly want me as a potential employee.

    I know a job interview is supposed to be two-way, an opportunity to learn things about the job that might affect my assessment of it as a fit for me. In my case, getting to see the workstation would help me guess if and how accommodations could make it usable for me. But I’ve also been told to focus on selling myself, not giving them any reason to doubt my commitment amd abilities. I don’t know how best to strike that balance.

  51. ejodee*

    I really wish I had been here yesterday to comment. OP 4 stated she was suspended for “cursing a coworker”. My quote is accurate. Unfortunately, commenters revised this to “cursed out” or “cursed at”, and even unhelpfully added quotation marks, further obscuring this error and moving the conversation away from what was actually stated. It does seem more likely that the writer cursed at her coworker, but interpreting as stated would have made for much more compelling reading, plus an opportunity to ask for clarification.

  52. CM*

    #1 — I did that job once! It was terrible. Even aside from doing all the emotional labor for everybody, passing all the feedback through me did nothing to actually solve the problems with what my boss was doing and made it easier for her to ignore them.

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