coworker whispers a daily affirmation to me, do I have to tell people I met with about my strep throat, and more

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

1. My coworker whispers a daily affirmation to me

I work in a fairly open plan corporate setting. A new colleague joined another team about a month ago, and passes my station daily on his way to see his boss. Every single morning he briefly stops, wait for me to make eye contact, whispers “You’re amazing” to me, and heads on his way.

It’s flattering but odd, and can take me out of my headspace. I am incredibly busy (which I don’t expect a new person on another team to appreciate), and he has probably been told that I will be a useful resource to him — which is true, if my workload allows. Some mornings I’ve turned it into a quick chat (“How are you settling in? “Plans for the weekend?”) — enough to learn he is happily married and some of his hobbies. This interaction comes across more as pleasant-but-awkward coworker rather than creepy person.

I am not aware of him doing it to others: he passes about a dozen workstations and another dozen offices on this route, and he definitely doesn’t do it to the ~one third that I can see/hear.

I’m generally cheerful and approachable, have a reputation for knowing the answer to whatever question people have, and always being busy (it’s true, and I’m addressing that with my bosses separately). I have a very prominent workstation on a corner, right outside our CEO’s office, so many infer I am somewhat important.

Am I doing any damage letting this daily affirmation continue? I think some mornings I likely haven’t looked up being buried in some task, and he hasn’t interrupted me so I appreciate that. My neighbor is utterly baffled by it, but I don’t think it’s affecting her work much. It is building an easy opportunity to talk about work but our paths won’t cross too frequently task-wise — and if they do it will be one way, generating some work for me rather than them.

This would creep me out — the whispering, ugh! — but I’m forcing myself to take you at your word that your vibe is that he’s being awkward rather than creepy. And I can actually picture this type — extremely cheerful, does things that would be smarmy from someone else but just seems … wholesomely weird from him?

I mean, who knows, maybe it’s a bizarre Machiavellian maneuver to set you up to feel a higher degree of obligation to his work requests, although it doesn’t sound like he’ll have many for you — but it could also be 100% a response to you seeming like a gatekeeper to the CEO. Either way, ew.

But I don’t think there’s any reason you have to put a stop to it. It doesn’t sound like it’s bugging you too much — it’s just a weird thing that can provide mild entertainment for you and your neighbor. That said, if you ever do want it to stop, you could always respond with cheerful briskness, “Okay, that’s enough of that!” or “You’re going to need to wait for me to actually earn that” … or begin your own whisper campaign of “you’re magnificent,” etc.

Read an update to this letter here.

2. Do I need to tell people I met with that I later developed strep throat?

A significant portion of my job is shuttling clients around to important meetings with investors. This involves a lot of shaking hands, etc., where there’s plenty of opportunity to spread disease. After one round of such meetings last week, I was suddenly struck ill (103 degree fever, difficult to talk, etc). A day later I managed to make it to the doctor where I was diagnosed with strep throat. Not fatal, obviously, but not much fun and quite contagious. Do I reach out to the parties I met with and let them know so that they can take steps to avoid spreading the illness themselves (coworkers, kids, etc.)?

I’m interested to hear other opinions on this, but I don’t think you need to. According to a bunch of medical sources that Google led me to, strep throat symptoms usually develop within two to five days after someone was exposed. You sent this to me on Friday of last week, which means that the meeting you were at “last week” was the previous week — meaning you’re already outside that time window. (I’m far from an expert on infectious disease though, so let’s see what others have to say.)

3. Asking for work before I start

I recently got the job I’ve wanted for a few months at a new company. I don’t start until mid June, but am very excited, and want to do some prep work before I start (part of my job involves creating structure around strategy and data). Would it be too much to reach out to my manager and ask them if they had any documents or guiding thoughts as prep work for the job ahead? I should mention I’ve already signed with them and agreed to a start date.

If you really want to, it’s fine to ask if there’s anything you can read to start preparing before your first day, but I’d leave it at that. Don’t ask for guiding thoughts or other prep work, and be prepared for the answer to be that nope, they’ll get you everything you need once you start. It’s great that you’re enthusiastic and want to come in prepared, but (a) you don’t work there yet and you shouldn’t give away your time for free and (b) your new manager may not have the time to put anything together for you before you officially start anyway.

4. A company expedited my interview, but then said they couldn’t compete with my other offer deadline

So after months of job hunting in the financial sector, I received an offer. Not the job or the direction I want to go in, but it’s a start. While reviewing this offer, I also was asked to come in for a second round, final interview with my preferred other company. They expedited my interview because I was transparent about my other job offer deadline. I had the final interview and received an email from HR saying they would not be able to compete with the other deadline since I was the first person they met and they want to follow through on the process.

I made the choice to decline the first offer due to it not being a good long-term career decision. I replied with this information briefly to my preferred company, asking to still be considered. Am I just not seeing the “no” here? No response back yet but it hasn’t even been a day. Thoughts?

When a company expedites your interview because they know you have another offer, that means they think you might be strong enough they’d want to snatch you up before the other company does. But when you do that expedited interview and then they tell you, “Well, actually, we need to stick with our original process and timeline so won’t have an answer for you before the deadline on your other offer,” that means that they decided from your interview that they’re not interested enough to do said snatching. Sometimes that means they learned from the interview that you’re a definite no for them, and sometimes it means you’re still a possible yes but they’re not interested enough to short-circuit the rest of their process. To be honest, it’s not great news — reading between the lines, they’re not especially enthused about you, at least not right now.

They might get back to you and tell you they’ll be glad to keep you in their process, or they might tell you they don’t think it’s the right match, or they might not respond at all (which is rude but common). But it’s fine that you asked to stay in their process. Now it’s just in their court.

5. Letting candidates pick between Skype or in-person interviews

I’m on a hiring committee for the first time, in a job I’m fairly new at. My field has a notoriously dismal job market, and we have many strong candidates who all know they are vying for scarce opportunities.

While making plans for the second round of interviews, the issue of travel funds came up. There’s no guarantee we will be able to pay for candidates’ travel, and several committee members suggested that in the future we offer candidates the chance to choose between Skyping in for the second interview or traveling. The in-person interview includes a tour, a chance to meet with clients, a presentation by the candidate, and a meal with the committee. I don’t believe a Skype interview is an equitable replacement, and I’m worried that offering this choice will privilege those that can afford travel, or put people in the awkward position of telling a hiring committee that they are trying to impress that they can’t afford travel. I’m also worried that to avoid that, or out of fear of looking disinterested, candidates will spend money they don’t have on travel, and we’re back to the original problem but will have put the responsibility on the candidate by saying it was their choice.

I suggested that the only equitable solution was to pay for everyone’s travel, or have everyone skype, but that didn’t gain much traction. My colleagues are thoughtful people who are sensitive to issues of equity, so I’m second-guessing myself. Am I off-base?

Nope, you’re right. You should pay for everyone’s travel or have everyone Skype for this round. I do think you need to see your finalists in-person at some point, but maybe that means you need a third round in the process just for your top two or three finalists.

That said, companies that don’t pay for candidates’ interview travel do typically do what your committee member suggested — leave it up to the candidates, knowing some will pay to fly themselves in and others will not. But if you care about equity (and it sounds like you do), that’s not a solution you should pursue because it means you’re likely to disadvantage candidates based on their finances.

{ 355 comments… read them below }

  1. professor*

    OP2: If you know that someone you met with is in close contact with someone who is at higher risk (very young/old, immunocompromised), it would be kind to warn them. I’m immunocompromised and I’d give my partner some space and take precautions if he had been exposed (cause I could get it for a month or more). And of course if you are symptomatic when meeting, warn people (sorry, not touching you or getting close if you are sick)…

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Agreed. I don’t think OP has a special obligation to disclose that they developed strep, but if they know they came into contact with someone who belongs to a demographic known to have higher risks (e.g., very young/older, immunocompromised, in a household with someone immunocompromised, prior history of respiratory disease or asthma), then it would be a kindness to warn those folks. If this were a different illness, I would probably feel differently about whether OP should/shouldn’t warn others.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        “A different illness”? Strep can be fatal. It’s rare — but real.

        1. Me*

          I think it’s probably more about transmission than potential fatality. Many things can be fatal and much of that is dependent on quirks of nature.

          Strep isn’t particularly transmissible the way say the flu or norovirus is. For example I tend to warn the people I work with when I am sick with one of those so they can Lysol the heck out of everything.

          1. CDM*

            And unlike flu or norovirus, a lot of people carry strep bacteria and never develop symptoms. Ironically my heart transplant kid was a strep carrier – every time a strep contagion notice came home from his classroom, I got sick. He never did. And nobody else in the family got sick, either. His one strep diagnosis (and treatment) was an incidental finding while hospitalized for pneumonia caused by a different bacteria.

            I might tell people I was in close contact with the day before, but I wouldn’t worry overmuch about it.

            1. CountryLass*

              I let the parents in my kids classes know when they started coming out in chickenpox. Mainly so they could be on the watch for the next 2-3 weeks as there is nothing we could have done by that point, she was contagious for a couple of days before. The day before she was at a big race-car track on a Daddy-Daughter day trip. I didn’t feel the need to call and tell the race-track…

            2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

              Yep, carrier here. I always ping positive on a strep test, but I’ve never actually had strep throat.

              1. Nanc*

                Sis–is that you? Remember when you gave me and baby bro Strep Throat three Christmases in a row before the on-call doctor figured out you were the cause?! Good times! My sister lives in another state now but whenever she visits she gets a strep test before coming out–just in case!

              2. AKchic*

                I was a carrier, and then my tonsils went completely wonky and I had strep for 3 years before I could afford to get my tonsils and adenoids removed. I was miserable. I’m still dealing with the after-affects of everything, a year later. Last week I realized that sometime in the last few years my tonsils had gotten so bad that I stopped closing my jaw all the way and I never noticed. Well, now my bite is off, and I hadn’t even noticed *that* until I got an abscess in a tooth and it pushed a different tooth out of alignment.

                The joys of poor medical care and little health insurance.

            3. Me*

              Great point. I get strep like crazy to the point my tonsils became perma infected and had to go. I get it less now, but still way more frequently then the average person and I know a ton of people who have never had it. I have never had anyone exposed to me get ill from it. It’s a strange little bacteria.

        2. Washi*

          I still don’t understand how knowing this information would help in any concrete way, especially a week after exposure. Isn’t there always a decent chance of coming into contact with either a carrier or someone who doesn’t know they’re about to be sick?

          1. Vaca*

            OP2 here – I guess my thought was that IF the person had come down with symptoms, that person would want to go to the doctor. And IF the person had kids / had elder care / otherwise had exposure, they would want to limit their exposure. Allison is right that by the time I’d written it had probably become moot, but good for next time (let’s hope there is no next time).

        3. JSPA*

          But also depressingly common; Strep bacteria is labeled “ubiquitous.” The people you may have infected may equally likely have been infected by some other person in their lives.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      You can’t know if someone is immune-compromised or not just by looking at them. For example, what if that important client is a kidney transplant recipient?
      I consider it common courtesy to contact people I’ve had close contact with if I come down with something highly contagious. Your DOCTOR is the person to ask how far back.

      1. pleaset*

        “I consider it common courtesy to contact people I’ve had close contact with if I come down with something highly contagious.”

        I’m curious what you rate as close contact. Do you do this for everyone you talked with in person? Or at least for everyone you’ve shaken hands with?

    3. madindc*

      I think this makes a lot of sense. A few months ago, I had shingles. I made sure to alert a couple of people I work closely who were either pregnant at the time or had children too young to receive the chicken pox vaccine that while pretty unlikely, there was a possibility I exposed them to the virus if they themselves had not had the chicken pox/been vaccinated. I kept it short and sweet and matter of fact, and they seemed appreciative. One even thanked me for being a part of his son’s village by looking out for him, which I was touched by.

      1. Vaca*

        OP2 here – I totally agree that coworkers get informed. And mine did. The question is whether if you were, for example, doing sales calls (so people you want business from) if you would follow up with each of them to let them know. I think I concur that I probably don’t need to. And I certainly didn’t, for example, try to contact the people sitting next to me on the plane – I hope it didn’t spread!

    4. Cherries on top*

      A bit of topic, but I get the sense that strep throat is quite common. Is that right? (Where I’m from it’s mostly a childhood illness.)

  2. Engineer Girl*

    #2 – it might Be useful for others to know about the Strep. Strep can develop some nasty side effects. For example, my sister ended up with Sydenhams Chorea. The Chorea has a delayed development time so the cause/effect relationship isn’t obvious.

    You also don’t know if your clients are in contact with immune compromised people.

    1. sacados*

      It sounds like the main gist of Alison’s advice is the timeline — at this point it’s been long enough since the meetings that if anyone OP met with was infected, it would have presented already so there’s no point in bringing it up now.

      That said, I would be interested to know if Alison’s advice changes if it was a case where the OP had met with people just yesterday and got diagnosed today. Because in that case, like you said, there maybe certain precautions that people might want to take.

      1. Engineer Girl*

        Except it presents differently in different people. So someone may have become infected by OP but only got a mild sore throat. Then they had the potential to pass it on to a weaker individual.
        I would want to know that the thing I thought of as a “slight cold” was actually strep.

        1. Antigravity*

          But you wouldn’t actually know that. It may well have been just a slight sore throat from another cause. All you’d know is that strep is a possibility- and that’s always true, really.

            1. Observer*

              Yes, but given the timeline, it wouldn’t work. And most doctors offices would laugh you off the phone if you called and said that you had a sore throat 3 days ago and now want to find out if it’s strep.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I know people who’ve had transplants — it’s not visible unless they tell you.
        And when I had strep, my doctor told me to avoid cooking the family’s food until I’d been on antibiotics for 48 hours.
        I would err on the side of telling them. “Someone on the team started running a fever within 24 hours of your visit and has been diagnosed with strep. I wanted to let you & your team know just so they can be aware if they start feeling symptoms.”

        1. Anna*

          The thing is, according to the timeline in the letter and laid out by Alison, if they were going to get sick, they would be sick already. So telling them now, close to two weeks after the initial contact, would actually not be news to anyone.

    2. Mockingbird 2*

      Yeah I probably would let people know as a kindness. In my experience strep is one of the illnesses schools tend to report to parents so that may be a good equivalent? (Granted a lot of adults have immunity to strep but they may have kids at home or be immunocomprimised.) I don’t think it has to be a big deal — just a “hey I was diagnosed with strep, I’m being treated now so no longer contagious but wanted to make you aware it’s going around”, or something like that.

      1. A nony cat*

        So, weirdly, I also just got over a strep infection myself. However, unlike when I got it as a kid, my symptoms were really mild (I thought it was just a scratchy throat from having the A/C running at night) so I was around people and not doing anything particularly special to avoid spreading germs.

        I thought about warning my colleagues, and in the end decided to only mention it if anyone started experiencing anything approaching any sort of ill- feeling (YMMV here, my colleagues are pretty open). I did mention it to two people–but in a meeting so others could hear; they didn’t seem to find it relevant and my boss even completely dismissed the possibility that I would have spread it. So yeah, I’m not sure how many people actually care.

        As far as I can recall, I think that strep was common enough when I was in school that I don’t think that was something the schools shared with parents like they would with say, measles, but thing may have changed since I was a kid.

        So, long story short, no harm in mentioning it, but don’t feel overly obligated to either.

        1. Joielle*

          This happened to me a couple of months ago! It was very mild, just like a regular sore throat that wouldn’t go away. I definitely did not think it was strep throat. As far as I know, none of my coworkers got sick.

    3. Womble*

      What is it? Is it like tonsillitis?

      I’ve heard of it but don’t know what it is as I think it has another name here. (UK)

      1. Dreamer*

        Different from tonsilitis. It’s like a number of really painful sores or ulcers in the back of your throat. I’ve been lucky enough to never have it, though, so that’s as much as I know.

      2. misspiggy*

        It’s a particularly nasty type of throat infection, or can be. UK doctors usually don’t treat it unless you’re in so much pain that you can’t swallow saliva, and then they tend to issue the antibiotics which deal with strep. So a British person would be unlikely to be in a situation like OP, who seems to have definitive test evidence.

      3. Lucy*

        It doesn’t have a different name here – we just don’t encounter it very much. It’s a bacterial throat infection.

        Also UK – I had to Google it, and got pointed to the NHS article on “Sore Throats” in which strep throat was discussed as a severe example needing professional medical treatment (presumably antibiotics) rather than self-care.

        I’m mentally filing it with “pink eye” and “poison ivy” as a thing Americans have to worry about that we just … don’t.

        The converse example is chickenpox, which is pretty common in the UK but routinely vaccinated against in the US (to avoid a lengthy tangent, the NHS deliberately doesn’t routinely vaccinate for chickenpox as the vaccine isn’t lifelong and catching CP as an adult can be very serious).

        1. londonedit*

          I know this is likely to get shut down as a derailment any minute, but I think ‘pink eye’ is conjunctivitis isn’t it? I didn’t know what strep throat was either. The last time I had tonsillitis I was told that (unless, as you say, it’s particularly severe and you’re having difficulty swallowing) they don’t routinely prescribe antibiotics for bacterial tonsillitis to otherwise healthy adults, because antibiotics will only shorten the illness by 24-48 hours and the risk of contributing to antibiotic resistance isn’t worth the benefits. Rest, hot liquids and painkillers are fine in most situations.

          1. Artemesia*

            The reason doctors are more aggressive with strep is that untreated strep can and in the past often did develop severe life threatening complications. Scarlet fever used to kill lots of kids: Dwight Eisenhower’s oldest son died of it at age 5; it is simply a strep infection that starts with a sore throat and then progresses. One of my grandkids had it and it was immediately knocked down with antibiotics. Some people get over strep without treatment, but in addition to scarlet fever, some people get serious cases of rheumatic fever which causes life long heart damage — again this is the result of an untreated strep throat — same germ. The girl who dies in little women contracted this from a baby she cared for and ended up with heart damage. I knew several women of my mother’s generation with heart issues stemming from this. One was counseled not to have children because of the weakness of her heart.

            1. Clisby*

              Yes, my daughter got a mild case of strep throat when she was (I think) in 5th grade – the doctor said while he wouldn’t necessarily prescribe antibiotics for an adult, he was more aggressive with treatment for children because of the rheumatic fever concern. (And, oh joy, this is how we found out she was allergic to ampicillin.)

            2. Observer*

              Not just our mother’s generation – there are a surprising number of people still in the workforce / of age to be in the workforce who have these issues.

              My daughter got strep, refused to take all of her medicine and no one was willing to fight with her over it (we also got lots of handwaving that “it’s not so bad”), and then she developed scarlet fever. Fortunately, we caught it quickly and the doctor threw a decent antibiotic at it.

            3. Emily, former admin extraordinare*

              We’re pretty sure my dad’s kidney disease was caused by untreated strep as a child. He’s now had two transplants.

            4. Mr. Tyzik*

              I’m one of those who is down for 4-6 weeks and loses a ton of weight when I have strep. Strep comes on slow then ramps up and lingers for me. It’s a hard one for me to fight for some reason, even with meds.

              I would appreciate the headsup so I could get tested.

            5. gansey*

              I got scarlet fever from strep as a child in the 90s and was given serious antibiotics. One of my great-grandmothers died at 28 of rheumatic fever from strep. This is all of course making me very nervous given that I’ve had what certainly LOOKS like strep but has persisted/reinfected?? through two courses of antibiotics for the past two weeks!

          2. StrikingFalcon*

            Conjunctivitis and pink eye are two names for the same thing – an infection in the white part of the eye. When it’s bacterial, which it most commonly is, it’s caused by the same bacteria (streptococcus) as strep throat.

            1. 30 Years in the Biz*

              Just to clarify, there are two different Streptococcus species associated with conjunctivitis and strep throat. Strep. pneumoniae can cause bacterial conjunctivitis (as can Staph. aureus and Haemophilus influenzae) and Strep. pyogenes causes strep throat.

            2. Cece*

              Viral conjunctivitis is more common than bacterial
              I realize you didn’t ask but if anyone sees this wanted to correct a misconception

        2. A nony cat*

          Also trying to get this in before the “derailment” notification (sorry, since my colleagues didn’t seem to care about their possible strep exposure, maybe strangers on the internet will).

          “Strep” is short for “Streptococcus”, NHS has a page on ‘group A streptococcal infection’ (which includes strep throat, i.e. “pharyngitis”, but it mainly discusses scarlet fever (a more serious infection with the same bacteria). One thing that was a bit scary for me–strep throat is really common among American kids, but not so much adults. So, as I mentioned, my symptoms this time (as an adult) were very mild, and I didn’t really thing anything of it. Until they weren’t–I suddenly (over the course of about 6 hours) started getting sicker one evening, and by the time I went to the doctor the next morning I was diagnosed with sepsis. I’m not a doctor, so this isn’t medical advice or anything, but just a friendly reminder that some seemingly minor issues can end up being big issues.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            My father had scarlet fever, it can go into heart issues later in life and for him it did.

            Left unchecked, strep can get pretty mean. I had a strep once where my throat bled.

            However, all that said, I think that adults can judge for themselves when they need medical help. Unless OP knows of someone who needs to know these things, I don’t think OP has cause to worry.
            I’d like to point out that no one told OP that they had strep and OP might get infected. I would just stay home until I felt better. Strep seemed to always involve huge amounts of sleep for me anyway.

          2. TardyTardis*

            Jim Henson died of a strep infection. So if it suddenly turns bad, you don’t have very long before it can do that.

        3. Magical Things Happen in the Lake District*

          Hah! I actually caught a raging case of poison oak while traveling in the Lake District. It was from borrowing my husband’s hiking stick. He must have rested it against some poison oak at home on his last hike; probably wiped down the pole itself with bleach (a common precaution after any of our California hikes), but didn’t wipe down the wrist straps before packing it. I didn’t need to seek treatment; once I figured out how I had gotten it I could deal with it myself, but realized I could have really mystified some NHS personnel if I had! [In fact, that was when I learned how effective a hot hand or hair dryer is at completely relieving the itch, preventing the spread, and actually making the whole rash disappear much more quickly; I’ve used that treatment ever since.]

          1. TardyTardis*

            I was once stuck with a poison oak stick in the knee and it was horrible getting rid of it (and of course I had it very badly just in time for school pictures and I always stood in front Because Short).

      4. Grace*

        And we don’t get pink eye, either!

        We get throat infections and conjunctivitis, instead. I spent *years* wondering what those things were, until I realised I’d already had them both as a kid, just under different names.

        1. londonedit*

          See also: ‘mono’. I eventually discovered that it’s glandular fever, but was mystified growing up as nearly every US teen drama seemed to feature parents going crazy because their kids ‘had mono’. I thought it was some kind of STI! It doesn’t seem to have the stigma here that those dramas implied – older generations do call it ‘the kissing disease’ but there’s no ‘OMG you have mono what the hell have you been doing you’re grounded young lady’ stuff. It mainly seems to mess up people’s exams as far as I can tell (seeing as you’re likely to get it around 15-18, which is when the major UK exams are studied for, and it’ll take you out of school for quite a while).

  3. Diamond*

    #2 if this meeting happened a week or two ago I imagine any damage done by your strep-germs has already been done. I’m not a doctor but I doubt there’s any benefit in telling people now, and if they got sick it might just make them irrationally annoyed with you!

    1. Engineer Girl*

      if they got sick it might just make them irrationally annoyed with you!

      I’d be a lot more annoyed if someone hid their contagious illness from me.

      1. MK*

        The OP isn’t hiding anything; I cannot agree that not calling people you came into contact with two weeks ago to tell them you later got sick is hiding.

        Also, even assuming a client got sick, there is no way to know who gave it to who; maybe the client infected the OP. It doesn’t seem like anyone contacted them.

        1. Psyche*

          Yeah, I think calling everyone you may have had contact with is overkill. Let your office know you are out with strep and leave it at that unless you did something like visit a nursing home or daycare.

          1. Sloan Kittering*

            TBH I often find the commentariat is a little irrational about contagious illness. I get that nobody wants to get sick, but I would really think it was odd if somebody I met at a conference a week ago called me to tell me they had strep (ok measles, maybe!). If somebody is immunocompromised I would assume they’d be taking special precautions at a big conferences where everybody is shaking hands all day … half those people probably get sick with something a week later.

            1. Karen from Finance*

              Yes. I’ve been immunocompromised in the past and I’d never have expected people to have the consideration a sector of this commentariat seems to think it not just nice, but an absolute requirement. It baffles me.

              If it’s been 2 weeks I don’t know what’s to be gained other than scaring people.

      2. Cynthia*

        But you’d never know. Hence the advice not to reveal it – there’s no advantage.

      3. hbc*

        If a person I interacted with regularly didn’t say, “Hey, FYI, that scratchy throat I had last week turned out to be strep” the next time he saw me, I’d be ticked. (Not in the sense I’d feel personally violated because I’m pretty blase about germs, but just–it’s common courtesy to mention it.)

        But if I got a call or email from the person who drove me around a week and a half ago, I’d be a bit weirded out. It’s just a lot of effort given the low probability of exposure, relative seriousness of the disease, and the chance that it affects my actions at this point. I think it only makes sense to contact some of the (dozens of?) people OP drove if there was someone in particular who might have had more concern–accidentally shared a drink, shuttled to the hospital, etc..

      4. Roscoe*

        Yeah, I don’t really see this as hiding something. Its more that something developed after you met with them. I’d call it hiding if she was sick at the time. Because at what point then do you have to tell everyone that you got sick?

      5. pleaset*

        “I’d be a lot more annoyed if someone hid their contagious illness from me.”

        Not retroactively informing people is not the same as hiding. Just sayin’.

      6. Turquoisecow*

        I don’t see how it’s hiding to not inform someone you were sick that long ago. It’s not like they can go back and take precautions. If they were going to develop symptoms, they would have already.

      7. Diamond*

        It’s way after the fact though, it’s not hiding. They didn’t go there knowing they had strep. I doubt there is going to be any benefit to anyone if OP tells them “oh by the way, I maybe possibly gave you strep 2 weeks ago”. Great, what are people supposed to do with that information? Sanitize their hands in the past? Just seems like a lot of unusual effort (reaching out to every party!) with not a lot of point.

    2. sicko*

      Yeah, if someone told me they came down with strep I would assume they were accusing me of giving it to them, and are either calling my hand hygiene into question or admitting to their own inadequacies. I realize that’s irrational but there it is.

  4. Engineer Girl*

    #1 – Having been stalked on two different osccaions, I am totally freaking at the behavior.
    Yes he’s married. and that may not matter.

    1. RUKiddingMe*

      Thank you. I hot “super creepy stalker dude” vibes from this letter.

      Maybe he’s got a thing for LW and got a job there just yo be near her. That shit happens. Some guy sees a woman…never meets or talks to her so she doesn’t even know he exists but he’s built up an entire “relationship” in his head.

      1. Myrin*

        Speaking of “maybe”s, maybe we can trust OP’s assessment of her own situation and not try to freak her out with alarmist language (nevermind that she’s clearly already considered that to some degree, since she specifically mentions she doesn’t get a creepy vibe from him).

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          This. While some people are creepy and try to drape that in “I have social awkwardness!” some people just have social awkwardness.

          I picture him being told by a few people “You should get on the High Sparrow’s good side” and positive affirmations are the technique he hit on.

        2. Kettles*

          Yeah – one framing I find helpful is that it also sort of doesn’t matter if he intends to be friendly or creepy. It doesn’t have to be sexually motivated or traditionally ‘creepy’ for OP to want / need it to stop. I used to obsessively dissect certain behaviour to see if it rose to a level I was ‘allowed’ to object to. “I don’t like it” is enough.

        3. ChimericalOne*

          Myrin — Agreed. If she assesses it to be just “overly-cheeriness” focused on her and she doesn’t mind it, then we don’t need to reinterpret it for her as creepy or stalkerish.

      2. valentine*

        OP1: I would tell him to stop because: it’s weird; he’s flirting (waiting for you to look up seems courtly) or, at best, oddly fixated on you; and it’s got to be old for everyone else. I wonder if the only reason more people haven’t said anything is your (if only literal) closeness to the CEO: They don’t want to make waves and/or figure it’s handled.

        Done right, it would be a call and response (You’re amazing./They broke the mold, huh, Ares?), but even that would get old, attempted daily.

      3. Yorick*

        “He got the job just to be near her” is a really bizarre interpretation of this letter.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’m going to ask that we take the letter writer at her word about her assessment of the situation, as she is there and has way more information about than any of us do (and she’s not asking for input on whether she’s right or wrong about that, and it’s frustrating for letter writers to state they’re confident about something and then have it continually contradicted in the comments anyway).

      1. Engineer Girl*

        I understand. But she needs to tell him to stop, and do it explicitly. His reaction will give an indication of the next step.

        1. Morning Star*

          Why does she need to tell him to stop? It’s not bothering her. She gets to decide that!

          1. Ariaflame*

            If it’s not bothering her at all, why did she write in to ask a manager about it?

              1. whatever*

                The answer to that is “yes”.
                Whispering “you’re amazing” to a coworker is not OK. This is weird, obsessive behaviour, and she should shut it down before it becomes dangerous.

                When you say we should trust her assessment of the situation, you are wrong. I had a friend whose assessment of her situation was that everything was fine, until she had to call the police.

                1. Colette*

                  Based on that logic, everyone is in danger every moment of every day, and cannot judge the danger for themselves.

                  The OP says she is fine; we are not in a position to judge better than her that she is not. We do not know the coworker and have not been present for a single interaction.

                2. SheLooksFamiliar*

                  Holy smokes, this. OP1, please do what you can to stop this behavior. Even if you don’t see it as creepy or manipulative, a lot of us who’ve dealt with people and situations like this are screaming, ‘STOP IT!’

                  The fact that he’s doing this while stealthily waiting for you to look at him so he can whisper those words for you – and only you – is disturbing, even if he doesn’t intend it to be. If this man is sincere in his compliments to you, he would given them in a more appropriate manner – in a team meeting, a letter to your division head, etc.

                3. Anna*

                  She’s not bothered enough by it to ask him to stop. Her specific question is really a different framing of the question should she be bothered and ask him to stop? Alison’s response is spot on. If she’s getting annoyed by it, go ahead and ask him to stop in a cheerful way. If it’s not bothering her, she can let it slide until it does start bothering her.

            1. Myrin*

              For what it’s worth, I post pretty frequently in the open threads about situations that don’t particularly bother me but which I find odd or unusual enough that I’d be interested in hearing others’ take on them anyway.

              1. jo44*

                I think you are doing damage. I read the writer as being female. He is behaving in a manner that he would not adopt with a man. I’d be asking for it to stop.

                1. misspiggy*

                  That’s a good point. Maybe she should just ask, ‘George, do you say these things to any men? No? Why is that?’

                2. Myrin*

                  Huh? I’m not understanding how I’m doing damage; I’m also not seeing how your comment relates to mine at all, honestly. Can you elaborate?

                3. Myrin*

                  Ah, I see you’re probably answering OP’s question and only mistakenly nested below my response – please disregard my other comment!

                4. Traffic_Spiral*

                  Yeah… that’s the sort of thing others will notice and comment on. “Why is the boss always telling Suzy she’s amazing to him? He doesn’t say that to anyone else. What’s she doing to him that makes her in particular so amazing?”

                  Also, while you shouldn’t have to worry about things like “leading people on” or, more specifically “not letting people get away with bad behavior…” in this case you might want to. If he’s singling you out for this, there’s probably a reason for it, and it’s unlikely that the reason is your typing. I’d say it’s better to nip it in the bud and tell him that you’d like him to treat you the same as the other employees – so either everyone gets an affirmation (including the guys) or no one does.

                5. Asenath*

                  But she doesn’t know if he does do it to men – only that he doesn’t appear to do it to any of her co-workers she can see, about a third of them.

                  I’d put it down to a slightly awkward attempt to be properly complimentary and affirming, and let it go. If his behaviour became clearly offensive – if he were whispering rude or sexual comments – then, I’d take action.

                6. J3*

                  Huh. I’m a guy and there was someone (a man) in my office that did a similar thing with me and before me with another man in my area. He would stop at my desk and say some silly phrase like “keep improving the process!” and then wait to chat. This coworker just liked to talk for a few minutes and it was his awkward and routine way of opening up the conversation.

                7. yala*

                  @J3 that…doesn’t really sound similar at all. That just sounds like small talk.

                  The whole “whispered generic compliment” is what’s weird. Especially the whispering.

                  If LW isn’t creeped out, that’s good, but it seems like the sort of thing that could start chatter if she’s the only one he does it to. She shouldn’t have to manage that, but, well.

                8. ChimericalOne*

                  @yala, it sounds similar to me. The OP’s guy is using “You’re awesome!” as his opening line in a regular (admittedly awkward) way, and the OP is able to segue from that into small talk & normal conversation pretty easily, she says. “Keep improving the process!” and “You’re awesome!” are both fairly nonsensical, positive bits of small talk to most people. It sounds like he means it as “You’re an awesome employee / coworker,” not as a romantic compliment or anything horribly inappropriate (although the behavior itself may still be — I’m just saying there’s nothing wrong with the words).

                9. ChimericalOne*

                  Also, depending on the office, whispering may be more common. If it’s a pretty hushed environment, whispering has a far different connotation than whispering at, say, a bus stop.

          2. Artemesia*

            I think a co-worker doing something intimate in the workplace singling out someone is a time bomb waiting to explode. Him whispering sweet nothings gets noticed and she is laughed at or wondered about (what IS going on with THEM?) Or he is grooming her. I think creepy behavior like this should be nipped in the bud — early on so it can be laughed about as a joke and not railed against as a threat. ‘Come on John, what is THAT about. Can we not do that?’ rather than later a serious discussion when the whole office is noticing he whispered endearments only to her every morning like they just came in 10 minutes apart to avoid their affair being known.

            1. Exhausted Trope*

              Artemesia, yes, agree 100%. This is grooming behavior. He wants something from the OP. That is why he does not do this with anyone else, as far as she knows.
              When I read the letter, my sixth sense activated. I honestly hope I am wrong about the situation but I think it needs to be stopped now.

              1. Not Me*

                LW doesn’t know if it’s happening to others. You guys are making a whole lot of assumptions here

            2. myswtghst*

              Yes, this. While I agree we should trust the LW at her word that it isn’t creepy, it is awkward, and it will be slightly less awkward to nip it in the bud sooner rather than later. It may not bother LW at all, but Artemesia is right on that it’s likely to cause some speculation/confusion from observers that could be detrimental down the line. So while I don’t think the LW has to make a big deal out of it, it’s definitely worth addressing it and hopefully putting a stop to it now.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          I agree with you, EG, I learned the hard way to draw my lines with wide black magic markers.

          OP, the fact that you question it is enough right there. You don’t even need to answer the question because by the sheer fact the question occurred to you stands alone.

          You can cheerfully say, “Thanks for the encouragement, but I am okay and you don’t have to give me daily encouragement.” Saying something like this respects your observation that he seems to have benign intent but also respects your concern that this just does not feel normal.

          OTH, you could just decide that you do not want these affirmations at all. And that would be your thinking that motivates you to tell him to stop. Some people do not like too much praise of any sort- it feels syrupy to them or they feel like the person is buttering them up to ask a huge favor. Some folks are just plain not comfy so they request that the speaker stop with the random praises.

          You know, OP, if you said you worked in an office where several people came over and whispered encouragement to you, I’d let the whole thing go. I chalk it up to the culture of the place. But since he is the only one, I’d have to say something. It does not have to be creepy nor does he have to have ulterior motives for you to say stop. You can just tell him to stop.

          My vote is to tell him to stop. You say he is okay and I believe you. The problem comes in where other people see you allow this and those other people are actually not okay.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      OP1 is most worried about him INTERRUPTING her — and that can be addressed just like it’s someone showing up to discuss TV or sports every morning.
      “I appreciate the sentiment, but my job requires a lot of concentration and when you stand there until I look up I lose focus. It sometimes takes a while to get back into what I was doing. If I glance up when you walk by, we can chat. But please don’t intentionally interrupt me like this every morning.”

      1. Washi*

        Yeah, or I think if the OP wants to be even more casual, the next time he does it she could chuckle and ask “why do you keep whispering that to me?” (OP if you do this, please update us with the answer!!) Alison’s scripts are a good response to whatever he said.

        If we take the OP completely at her word that this guy is just clueless, I think it would actually be a kindness for him to get him to stop. It’s objectively weird and will definitely make people think he is awkward at best and a huge creep at worst.

        1. Eukomos*

          Agreed, if for no other reason than that I really want to know why the hell he’s doing it.

      2. LQ*

        I totally agree the daily interruption seems to be the biggest problem in the letter for the LW. Which is definitely a problem. I might start off with a joking response like “Dude, I know. I won’t forget until at least two weeks from Thursday.” or even a slightly more direct joke “The only way I get to keep being awesome is if I’m not interrupted by my own awesomeness.” If that didn’t work then I’d go for something much more direct like this.

      3. Paulina*

        The interruption is what I find creepy and potentially gendered about this as well — he’s prioritizing his wish to do this weird affirmation at her, and not considering that she’s busy and has a focus that he’s interrupting. Someone regularly interrupting for something banal is very presumptuous, as if he’s decided it’s going to be a “cute thing that we do” entirely on his own and without regard for the person he’s interrupting, as a person. Especially since he doesn’t know her well. It could be coming from him being awkward, but in that case guiding him towards professional norms and greater respect for others is helpful.

        I like this suggested script.

    4. OhGee*

      Yeah, that is straight up CREEPY behavior. The only way I wouldn’t take it that way is if they were close friends and it was an obvious goof.

    5. just trying to help*

      I’m a married guy who works in an open office setting and this creeped me out. Even if it is completely innocent from his perspective and intentions, the impact to OP is significant enough to have her writing to AAM. Maybe he took some power of positive thinking type of class and thinks its his duty to spread the positivity. He needs to stop or be stopped ASAP. But, in a nice way.

    6. starzzy*

      I will disagree with you and a lot of the above commenters.

      I teach at a university and I have a student (who is a man about 20+ years older than me) tell me about every two weeks, “I love you and Jesus loves you.” He’s obviously very religious and I can tell he means his “love” is in the communal religious sense. I am even an atheist and this doesn’t bother me beyond the “Huh, that’s unusual for a student to say to me” way because I can see where it’s coming from.

      I think that at times, taking things in the spirit in which they were intended actually keeps the interactions as brief as they need to be. I’m sure that once my student wishes me his and Jesus’s love, he doesn’t give me another thought beyond what he needs to do for my class. I’m one person among many (probably only women) he does this to because he thinks it’s something he should do and something that’s appreciated in his usual circles. If I made it A Thing, I would actually probably become someone he thought about/obsessed over much more.

      1. Secretary*

        Thank you for this example starzzy!
        Just because this seems creepy written out doesn’t mean it’s coming across that way.

        Here’s an idea OP, next time he whispers at you, you should whisper back: “Why are you whispering affirmations at me?”

        Him: [whispering] “Because you’re amazing.”

        OP: [whispering] “That’s true and it’s also really weird.” Then laugh and in a normal voice “K I got to go back to work now.”

        1. Secretary*

          Another option: if he whispers you can say in a normal voice “Um. Good Morning is fine thanks.”

          1. OhNo*

            That’s what I was thinking, too. I think a jokey response like, “You can just say good morning!” would be a casual way to address it, if the OP decides to do so.

            Personally, I think calling it out is a good idea – based on the nearby coworker’s response to this behavior, it sounds like it’s making waves in the office already. And not in a good way.

      2. MaureenC*

        If he does it to only women it’s creepy. Don’t men deserve to hear of Jesus’s love?

        1. starzzy*

          He announces to the class that Jesus loves them about twice a semester. He’s just more individual with women and people he has more interaction with (mostly women).

      3. Mr. Tyzik*

        This example is problematic on many levels. He assumes that people are Christian and need that god’s love. It doesn’t give room for other religions or religious preferences.

        Don’t let him get away with this. It’s rude and creepy.

          1. VelociraptorAttack*

            Eh, I don’t know about that. I worked at a university (administration) and if a student did that to me I’d find it really inappropriate and off-putting. I don’t think it’s inappropriate in a gendered or Gift of Fear way, nor do I think that’s what Mr. Tyzik was saying, just that it’s problematic on a lot of levels.

            Granted, if this is a private Catholic university, different response entirely. I’m viewing it from my lens of working for a public state university.

          2. Mr. Tyzik*

            Anna, that’s awfully dismissive.

            VelociraptorAttack is correct, I was not speaking from the standpoint of The Gift of Fear. I was speaking more from the standpoint that it is inappropriate. Who is this stranger who feels entitled to assess me and offer me his opinion on religion? I would be offended and find the behavior creepy.

            As for I’m Amazing, I know she finds the daily affirmation quirky but I would find that creepy as well. It’s a form of obsession and idolization that’s just not appropriate at work.

        1. starzzy*

          As I said, I take it in the spirit in which it’s intended. I shut it down as inappropriate if it happens during class time. I don’t teach religion and I need to stay on task.

          I don’t know if he assumes I (or others) need god’ love, he just informs us that we have it. And outside of class time, he can say whatever he wants, so there’s no “letting him get away with it.”

          I just say, “Okay.” And then we both move on with our day and he’s happy because letting others know about god’s love makes him happy and I’m happy because I’m not involved in a theological discussion with a student.

          1. valentine*

            outside of class time, he can say whatever he wants
            Not if it’s inappropriate, which this is. He’s still interacting with you due to your job and gender. It’s all kinds of wrong.

  5. Jasnah*

    #5 I think Skype would be a more equitable replacement if it was interview for interview. As in, fly out and meet the team in person and have an interview, or Skype in and meet the team and interview. If you remove the question of method, then it’s clear these choices are not equal.

    It’s like “Choose between these two lunch options. Either a freshly-made 3 course meal you pay for, or a company-provided sad ham sandwich.” And you’re like “Should we pay for their food?” Can you make the choices more equitable first?

    1. MillersSpring*

      I’d be looking to limit the search to only local candidates or those who are planning to relocate at their own expense.

    2. Lavender Menace*

      Eh, I still don’t think it’s equitable. There’s something that in-person gives you (better facility for communicating non-verbally, for example) that Skype doesn’t.

      1. JamieS*

        Even so OP’s company can still do things to make them more equitable. The two will never be fully equivalent to each other but the interview methods OP’s company uses widens the gap considerably.

      2. JunieB*

        But there are also advantages to Skype (not feeling post-travel stress when you go into the interview, for example, or feeling more in control of your physical setting) that can’t be replicated for an in-person interview. If both interview styles were limited to only meeting the team, the experience could be equal even if it were not the same.

    3. snowglobe*

      I’d agree that if the company chooses to give candidates two options, the Skype option should at least include introductions to the rest of the team and a presentation, etc., so that the choices are at least a *little* more equivalent. It’s still not going to be the same, and this would be my Plan B, but it’s better than just an interview via Skype vs. a whole day of interaction in person.

    4. Asenath*

      We’ve got a practice of offering any kind of at-a-distance interviews ONLY if a storm hits and all the flights are diverted. It’s happened once in the years I’ve been involved. The reasons are that some of the interviewers think they can’t get as good a feel for the candidate unless they meet them in person, and that we have a policy of giving every applicant exactly the same number and type of interviews – and there are planned changes to ensure that the interviews continue to be as similar as possible. It seems unfair to have some people come in person, and some not – especially since we know in advance that some of the interviewers prefer face-to-face. We do sometimes get requests for alternatives, since most applicants travel for the interview – at their expense – and some of them will ask for Skype or an equivalent.

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      OP5 How many people make it to the second round? If it’s ten people, I’d suggest a third option be considered, even if it might be a little extreme: Do a second-round Skype interviews with all team members, and weed it down to two or three people — the number you COULD actually pay to fly out for a full tour.

      1. Patricia*

        That’s what we do, when hiring. We have a budget that allows for three visits, and do a longer Skype interview to get the list down to 3. I don’t find it extreme at all. It’s very important to try to make sure that the final 3 are all seriously interested and willing to relocate, though; sometimes it’s become clear later that one of the candidates isn’t that seriously interested but came anyway, and we regret them using up one of our spots.

        As well as keeping the travel costs down, having a short final list also reduces the time that the full visits take, overall. These interviews are very important so they take a lot of focus and energy away from other things; if we had a lot of them, we’d never get anything much else done.

    6. Syl*

      An online/video interview is never going to be the same as physically being in the same room, walking through the building, getting a “feel” for the work place, etc., but I agree that if they insist of giving interviewees the option of Skype or in-person to make the experiences as similar as possible. It’s still problematic if the company doesn’t pay for travel, though, for the reasons OP mentioned.

      (Also, I just wanted to say I love your username. Journey before destination.)

      1. Jasnah*

        I agree, Skype isn’t the same as a real tour but a 20 min Skype interview is nowhere near 1 hr interview+presentation+team intro+lunch….

        (and *high five*)

  6. sacados*

    OP1: Even absent any creepiness, that would bug the hell out of me!
    If you want the coworker to stop, maybe just pull him aside at some point (or if you happen to be chatting at the water cooler one day) and say something like, “I really appreciate the daily affirmations, but I’m typically really busy at that time of day and it breaks my focus.”

    Or.. maybe you can redirect him into giving you a daily thumbs-up as he walks by or something like that? Haha.

    1. CM*

      Why not use an even more direct approach here, if OP#1 doesn’t want it to continue? I would say, “Hey, I know your intentions are good, but I don’t like it when you whisper ‘You’re amazing.’ I’d prefer just ‘Good morning’ instead.”

      Although OP#1’s actual question was whether there’s any harm in allowing this to continue. So if OP#1 isn’t bothered by it, then she doesn’t need to do anything.

  7. Jasnah*

    #3 What kind of documents or work do you imagine they’ll have ready that 1) they can send to someone technically not employed by them yet 2) will make sense to someone with no context 3) that you could look at or work on without it counting as “work” aka requiring pay 4) will actually let you hit the ground running instead of making you come in with a ton of questions 5) won’t create more work for your manager/coworkers since you’re basically moving up the deadline for when they have to be ready for you?

    It’s great that you’re excited but just sit tight, work will start soon enough!

    1. Washi*

      I read this and was imagining that the OP was asking about books/lectures rather than company-created technical documents. In my last job, there were a couple management books that everyone at the organization had read and used (including Alison’s!) and if someone asked about reading material, that’s what would have been recommended. Or when I switched to a nonprofit with a different focus area, I asked about recommended books ahead of time and read a couple of the most well-known in the field. It’s definitely a little eager-beaver, but it can be helpful!

    2. Antilles*

      I actually had a previous job where they sent stuff along.
      The CEO of the company was widely respected in the industry for his business acumen and had given several industry conference keynote speeches about how our industry works – here are some of the key skills that people at every level (junior, mid-level, senior) need to develop to succeed, these are the two common business models for running companies in our field and the advantages/disadvantages of each, here’s how accounting and profitability are measured, etc. Basically a Dummies Guide to how the businesses worked behind the scenes.
      The company sent it along to all new hires as a matter of course because they (correctly!) thought it would be very useful, but if someone had asked, that absolutely would have been recommended.

    3. Sled dog mama*

      In my field there are plenty of white papers regarding specific equipment and software that I would want to read prior to starting at a new company (we have a few options for software that do accomplish the same thing in slightly different ways). I was imagining that OP meant something like these, which I would mostly be expected to read in my own time.

      1. Emily K*

        I have a packet of reading material that I give to my new hires, but I wouldn’t want to give it to them in advance because the purpose of the reading material is not just to absorb the information. It’s also to give new hires something slightly less taxing to do on the first couple of days in between meeting their colleagues and getting trained on new procedures. The first day or two at a new job can be EXHAUSTING, if all you’re doing is meeting people and being trained – it’s a lot of keeping a smile plastered on your face and trying to pay attention to what other people are saying, for an entire 8-hour workday. So when I bring someone new on board I will schedule them for the meetings and trainings, but leave gaps of 30-90 minutes in between things and a big pile of reading material to work on during those gaps, so they’re still doing something productive and useful for onboarding, but they can relax and have some alone/quiet time before they have to plaster the cheerful outgoing attitude back on.

        1. OhNo*

          That is an excellent point! I definitely had some reading to do the last couple of times I started a job, and that was exactly how it was used (intentionally or not, I couldn’t say). It was lovely to have tome time set aside to sit by myself in a quiet room and just take a mental break from the stress of being “on” with so many new people.

          1. One of the Sarahs*

            Yes! And giving people permission to have time to sit and learn, without being expected to be going full-gas every minute of the day, is an indication of a good culture.

            Plus, inducting people means the person doing the induction/training has less time to do their own work, so having time when the new person is doing the reading/online training sessions also puts less pressure on the person/people managing them and handing things over, etc – it’s win-win!

        2. Genny*

          Good point. Plus, some companies take longer to get you an account/email/log-on and use the reading material to fill your time while you wait for that stuff to be created.

        3. Jasnah*

          This is a good point I didn’t include! It can take time to get up to speed and having “reading time” gives the trainers/HR people the opportunity to do other work, use the bathroom, etc.!

    4. Blue Bunny*

      Agreed, my company’s first-day onboarding includes at least one type of confidentiality agreement, and more for certain departments. Nobody is getting access to anything before that.

    5. DreamingInPurple*

      I think it depends on the job – asking for background reading suggestions would probably be fine in many fields, but obviously they aren’t going to send you anything that’s company-specific before you start work. I’m in a physical science field and when I started my current job, I asked my current manager for any suggestions for reading or study in the weeks before my start date. They actually shipped me a reference book on the theory behind our specialized sub-field, which surprised the heck out of me because I thought I was just going to get a list of a few titles to look up on my own.

  8. Lissa*

    I think OP1 is a very interesting case, because the behaviour as described sounds creepy to me – but we really emphasize trusting our instincts here when it comes to those potentials. It’s just that usually that means “My instinct is that this guy is Bad News, so I’m going to ignore people telling me he’s harmless.” But when it’s the opposite, “Other people think this is creepy, but my instincts tell me he’s harmless” is it still OK to trust that? I’d say yes – OP1, if you’re not bothered, you aren’t obligated to become so due to other’s concerns. So long as it legitimately doesn’t bug you and you aren’t just feeling like you have to be nice.

    1. Bulbasaur*

      I am amused by Alison’s final option of responding in kind. If they both started doing it I think the neighbor would be the next one to write to AAM.

      1. Winter Wanderer*

        I’d start whispering back “you’re kinda…OK, I guess?” And see what happened then.

        1. Traffic_Spiral*

          Or whisper back something like “the snow falls in February but the swallows are returning” and make the office-mate think that they’re whispering code words.

            1. Friday afternoon fever*

              Huge smile, direct eye contact, stage whisper:

              “You are making things weird (please stop)”

          1. Angwyshaunce*

            I would consider an intentional misunderstanding: “Huh? Europe hazing?”

            Or just to make it awkward: “What!? I can’t hear you. Speak up!”

      2. Lena Clare*

        That “whispering campaign of your own” is GOLD. I snorted so loudly my cat jumped of my lap and ran out the room.

        1. CmdrShepard4ever*

          Instead of responding back at the time OP needs to find an excuse to walk by the new coworkers place and whisper the same thing to him as they walk by.

          1. Spooooon!!*

            Seriously. I would whisper back something totally random and mundane like, “The persimmons are ripe early this year.”

    2. HannahS*

      My honest reaction is that I’m so totally creeped out by it that I want to tell OP1 to shut it down even though she personally isn’t bothered by it and doesn’t think there’s any malicious intent to it. On the one hand, there’s a space for live-and-let-live when it comes to social norms, if someone’s weird take on them doesn’t bother you. But on the other, even if his intentions are fine, his behaviour is still unprofessional and liable to be read as creepy by others. To me, it’s like the questions we sometimes see from someone whose main model of interacting with one particular work-friend is jokey sarcasm. Even if the involved parties sincerely enjoy it, it can make the environment unpleasant for everyone and affect the professional reputations of the people doing it.

      1. Sleve McDichael*

        Would you believe me if I said I’ve seen this done in a non-creepy way before? The guy was just awkward and in his eyes it was his way of putting out some good into the world by being nice and affirmative. I’ve had creepier vibes from a neighbor who never said or did anything off at all. Some people are just awkward. Which is not to say this behaviour would never in any case be creepy, but I think we needn’t fear for OP 1’s safety if they say it isn’t.

        1. EPLawyer*

          But he doesn’t do it to anyone else as far as the LW can tell.

          I think she is fine telling him to stop based on her saying it takes her out of head space. It is an interruption in her workflow. The standing, waiting to make eye contact, then the whispered comment is all very distracting. to her and her neighbor. Time to tell him politely it i not necessary as it is distracting. If he takes it okay then he is just socially awkward. If he continues or makes a big deal out of it, then it is a problem.

        2. Aleta*

          Yeah, I read it more as aggressive positivity, where it’s unacceptable to have anything less than sky high self esteem. I’m an autistic someone who doesn’t care about self esteem, so I get targeted by them whenever they pop up. It’s extremely annoying.

      2. Lucy*

        LW says it’s creeping out a nearby coworker. Is that enough to think it needs shutting down? Maybe coworker is unusually sensitive, but if it isn’t work-necessary and LW doesn’t actively enjoy it and coworker actively dislikes it then why should it continue?

        1. Marthooh*

          The neighbor was “utterly baffled” by this behavior, which makes me think LW asked them about it and got a puzzled shrug in answer. I think it sounds like Mr. Affirmation is clumsily sucking up to a potentially useful resource.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            Yes, I picture him being told to cultivate OP but he doesn’t have any work reason to talk with her, so he hit on “People like getting compliments on their work!”

            Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, and sometimes social awkwardness is just social awkwardness.

            1. CmdrShepard4ever*

              I think this might explain why the coworker is doing this in a non-creepy way that OP is mentioning. OP mentioned they are very close if not right outside the office, the coworker might think they are the CEO’s right hand and are trying to get in the CEO’s good graces via OP.

              I agree with Alison and others that have said even if OP doesn’t think coworker is being creepy they can still request it to stop because they don’t like it. But if OP is fine with it they don’t necessarily need to ask them to stop.

        2. I’m Amazing*

          It doesn’t ‘creep out’ my neighbour. It amuses her. She doesn’t always hear or notice it, one day she did and asked about it later on (in a casual chat). I told her he does it every morning, and now when we’re both working late (neighbour and I, not whisper-dude) we’ll often give ginger guns ‘you’re amazing!’ to each other. It’s become a great way to relieve a bit of tight-deadline tension.

        3. Anna*

          Because if LW isn’t bothered, but coworker is actively bothered, coworker can speak up for themselves in this specific context.

      3. Ms. Ann Thropy*

        The whispering alone warrants it being shut down. The “you’re amazing” part is creepy and/or condescending ( why does he think she needs an affirmation?) and his waiting for OP to acknowledge him is distracting to her. It needs to stop.

        1. Holy Carp*

          I’d shut it down with some sort of reply, such as, “DAMN SKIPPY, I’M AMAZING! THANKS FOR TELLING ME EVERY DAY, (NAME)!” in a friendly but loud voice.

      4. Sarah N*

        This. I think there is enough room here that even if OP is genuinely not creeped out or bothered, someone in her immediate area IS, and it’s worth shutting it down for that reason. It’s not OP, fault, but they’re getting drawn into an unprofessional interaction that may impact how others see them. To be honest, if I were an observer of this situation, I’d assume OP and the coworker were having an affair and it would make me very uncomfortable. Now, in this case obviously that would be an unfair and incorrect assumption—but the thing is OP can’t actually control that.

      5. DivineMissL*

        I’m not so much creeped out by this as I am annoyed. The guy has only worked there a month – how would he know how amazing OP is? It sounds to me like he’s trying to kiss up to OP but in a very awkward and ineffective way. I’d shut it down.

      6. myswtghst*

        “Even if the involved parties sincerely enjoy it, it can make the environment unpleasant for everyone and affect the professional reputations of the people doing it.”

        This is where I land on it. Even if we take the LW at her word that it isn’t creepy to her, it may well be weirding out the people around her, and that is reason enough to put a stop to it.

      7. MCMonkeyBean*

        I think she should shut it down asap if she thinks there is any chance of reaching a breaking point and starting to find it really annoying. If you let something like this go on for a long time and then speak up and say “hey this is actually kind of weird” it’s a lot more awkward because then the person doing it has been doing it for a long time and maybe thinks now they’ve been bothering you all this time. Better to say something early.

    3. MillersSpring*

      I might make a sign that says “CUT IT OUT” and hold it over my face the next time he tries to make eye contact.

    4. Artemesia*

      If other people think it is creepy and you tolerate it it may well have implications for your own reputation down the road. I might not mind a co-workers massaging my shoulders when he comes in every morning — it might feel great — but I don’t want that image in the office. I wouldn’t want whisper guy being intimate with me every morning to be shaping my reputation in the office either.

      1. hbc*

        This is where I fall in the end too. Being an apparently willing receiver of whispered compliments isn’t something that will enhance your reputation in most places. Maybe some will think you two are flirting, maybe some will think he’s found the way to get his stuff done faster, maybe some just slap the “inappropriate office behavior” label on it without digging into why. None of that is good.

        FWIW, I generally don’t like this line of thought, because we all know there are places where “had a closed-door meeting with opposite gender coworker” negatively affects your reputation. But those are cases where there’s real harm in stopping the behavior that people are judging, and there’s zero downside to asking this guy to find a different way to get her attention.

        1. Anna*

          This might be the most alarmist and weirdest take. “Well, you know Suzie accepted whispered compliments from a coworker, so clearly she’s really unprofessional and can’t be trusted with this big project” is something that will never be uttered by anyone unless they are the worst manager ever.

          LW #1 don’t even worry about what it will do to the readers’ favorite bogeyman, the “professional reputation.” This is the least of your concerns.

            1. ChimericalOne*

              Thank you, yes. Never mind the fact that if it’s so quiet that her neighbor barely ever hears it, there’s zero chance that this is reflecting on the OP at *all.* (Also, “You’re awesome!” is hardly a scandalous compliment!)

  9. Quake Johnson*

    I won’t lie I’d like to hear I’m amazing everyday. But like, if I actually do something noteworthy to earn it. And at a normal decibel level.

  10. RUKiddingMe*

    LW1: The fact that he does this only to you, the fact that he waits for eye contact, the fact that he’s male (married/family aside) and the specific words he uses says creepy and power/dominance move to me.

    Like Alison I take you at your word that he doesn’t seem creepy, but you barely know him so you know…caveat emptor and all.

    1. I’m Amazing*

      LW1 here. It was the first thing he said to me during his first week so I presumed it was an ice breaker building in to “You’re awesome … and I’ve been told you are a great resource for X”. He *did* follow up with one of those sorts of requests about 2 weeks in, and I have failed to deliver on it (because I really am BUSY and don’t have time to do it yet, which I have told him) – but he has been doing this both well before and after that request. I think it is likely strategic, and definitely odd. And very amusing to my neighbour and me.

      1. Arts Akimbo*

        I totally got a full-body shudder from hearing it described, someone whispering “You’re amazing.” Brrr!!! But in the context you just supplied, I can see how it might be more of a funny running gag from a slightly-awkward person. As long as it stays funny and non-creepy to you and your cubemate, keep on keeping on.

        I’d still tell him to cut it out, but I’m old and cantankerous with a large personal space bubble, LOL!

      2. MK*

        OP, I don’t mean to be offensive, but if I was witnessing this daily, it would only be amusing to me to the first couple of times, or if done very occasionally. After that, it would come across either as the first stage of inappropriate flirting or someone trying to butter up a person with (perceived) seniority and the senior person being flattered and responsive to the bootlicker. I personally would put a stop to it, because I think after a point it would make me look ridiculous; professionals don’t generally affirm eachother’s awesomeness on a daily basis. You say a number of co-workers hear this; do you want to be part of an office joke?

        Again, I mean no offense, but maybe consider how this is might come across in the long run.

        1. Butter Makes Things Better*

          Totally, yes to the flirty/kissing up vibe others might get. It would make me wonder why OP1 was letting it slide.

          1. mamma mia*

            I’m totally with the LW here. It sounds funny, honestly! Maybe a tad creepy but the “full body shudders” that people are describing here seem way out of proportion. It’s a weirdo coworker; we all have those. And blaming the OP for “letting it slide” seems heinously unfair. She doesn’t owe this dude shit and shouldn’t be expected to teach him basic social niceties just to make you feel comfortable. OP’s not doing anything wrong by just listening to this guy embarrass himself.

            1. nutella fitzgerald*

              I feel like this is one of those cases where even though you didn’t drop the rock into the puddle of diarrhea, you’re probably going to get splashed.

              1. mamma mia*

                I’m genuinely confused as to how any reasonable person could possibly blame or question the LW for her coworker’s weird behavior so I’m not really seeing how your metaphor applies here. Let the dude make a fool of himself; who cares? If people make fun of him, that’s his own fault.

              2. CmdrShepard4ever*

                Yes, but to go along with your analogy if that person if fine with getting splashed they don’t owe it to others to say anything because other people are getting splashed.

            2. MK*

              But we don’t all humor our weirdo coworkers; putting up with a certain behavior affects others’ impression about you. When a coworker inappropriately and constantly compliments you and you appear to accept this, you might not give the impression that you are ignoring him, but that you find it flattering, even if that’s not what’s happening.

              And this is not about teaching him anything or oweing him; it’s about her own reputation. It’s one thing to be the target of weirdness, of course no one should be blamed for that, but the way the OP describes her response sounds to me nore like her playing the straight man in his comedy duo.

              1. mamma mia*

                LW described her response to to the whisperer as “I’m doing gentle discouragement or not often engaging beyond a ‘good morning’ that I’d give any coworker.” I’m very unclear as to how you think that amounts to “playing the straight man” in some sort of comedy routine. That seems like an unfair reading of the situation.

                Again, I don’t see how any reasonable person could view a coworker whispering “You’re amazing” to a coworker and think anything about the recipient of that remark other than “haha sucks to be her.” It certainly wouldn’t affect my opinion of her. Someone judging OP for this would really make me question THEIR character.

        2. Samwise*

          In addition, since he’s new, he’s making a poor reputation for himself — it would be a kindness to let him know. Plus it’s not going to be good for your team to have the OP Whisperer as the butt of a lot of jokes.

          1. Observer*

            It’s not the OP’s problem to secure his reputation.

            The only thing she needs to worry about is her own reputation.

            1. Anna*

              And, more importantly, her reputation isn’t being harmed because of this weird jokey thing that’s happening.

              Sometimes I’m sorry people write in because I know the alarmist responses they’ll get to pretty low key things.

        3. JB (not in Houston)*

          Eh, if I heard it, I’d just assume the guy was weird. I wouldn’t blame the recipient. It makes this guy look ridiculous, but not the OP.

      3. SigneL*

        LW1, can you just say, “Why are you whispering?” I’d want him to verbalize it.

        1. Reba*

          I like this, or just “why are you telling me this every day?” + Optional softener, “it’s very kind but it interrupts me” + “Please stop.”

        2. just trying to help*

          Maybe “I don’t need the external validation, thank you”. Maybe don’t make eye contact and let him go on his merry way. Saying “Why are you whispering?” but loudly enough for others to hear might do the trick. I’m picturing a response from April from Parks & Recreation as most appropriate to shut this down.

        3. SigneL*

          Whispering implies secrecy (which for me would be creepy). To me, the damage is in the implication that you and he have a secret, so I wouldn’t play the game.

            1. Anna*

              No, not bingo. The only people who are going to think they have a big secret based on a less than one second whisper are nosey busy bodies who can’t fathom that they aren’t privy to every interaction.

              1. ChimericalOne*

                Also, there are infinite legit reasons someone might speak softly in an office besides “hiding something inappropriate.”

                1. Butter Makes Things Better*

                  Except the content of the whispering in this case is known not just to the OP but others around them.

      4. Reba*

        It’s just…. so baffling? Why???? I’m worried but I’m also laughing?

        It was the first thing he said to you, before you had any other interaction to, you know, demonstrate your amazingness in the workplace. I’m VERY curious to know what directions or strategy he thinks he’s following!

        Thank you so much for sharing this bizarro behavior, but as much as I enjoy it I do think you should shut it down, if for no other reason than the appearance cited by MK. Consider it a favor to this person’s future coworkers.

        1. CmdrShepard4ever*

          I think the coworker it going about it in a wrong and misguided way but generally the idea that you should try to cultivate strong/friendly relationship with people you will need to do work for you or trying to cultivate strong/friendly relationships with people who are close to the CEO is a pretty standard idea.

          Coworkers boss or trainer might have told them you will need help from OP you should get to know them and/or build a good relationship with them.

      5. JJ Bittenbinder*

        OK, your choice of username here tells me that you really are amazing.

        It’s been an interesting study in optics and personal preferences to read the comments. If you’re genuinely not bothered by it, you can safely put this in the “Life’s rich tapestry” column and see what happens. I myself would probably whisper back, “It’s really weird that you do this every morning” just to see what happens, but that’s just how I roll.

      6. Moray*

        I had a coworker who threw balled up post-it notes at me constantly. This is objectively not something you should do to a colleague. If I said nothing, he would probably have stopped eventually. If I asked him to stop, he would have stopped. I chose to retaliate, because it was kinda fun, and to everyone else if was just “Moray and Jake throw paper balls at each other, sure.”

        It didn’t mean he was being aggressive, or bullying me, or creeping on me. Sometimes people are on the same weirdness wavelength and sometimes they’re not.

        1. Butter Makes Things Better*

          Yeah, but whispering reads as a more intimate act than throwing paper balls, barring any grade-school level show of affection.

          1. Anna*

            Sure, if two people are standing close together with heads bent whispering to one another, it is. However, if one person is stopping briefly by a coworker’s cube, saying something quickly and then moving on…it’s weird to think “intimate.”

            1. ChimericalOne*

              This. The occasional whisper in a quiet office environment does not carry even a hint of “whispering sweet nothings,” as one person tried to describe it here. It wasn’t that long ago (I think?) that we had an OP write in about people whispering in her office just because it was so quiet & it bothering her, and no one there suggested that all those coworkers were behaving in an “intimate” fashion with each other. Some folks don’t like whispering, ever — they get creeped out. But it’s not automatically inappropriate.

            2. Butter Makes Things Better*

              I guess I don’t understand why the specifics of this particular situation are getting dropped. I’m responding to the “You’re amazing” whisper that happens daily, not two random colleagues standing close together. There’s a reason some of us are responding to the whisperer as doing something creepy; for me, it’s because he’s assuming or creating an intimacy with the OP where there a) is none; and b) is very, very odd.

      7. Mockingjay*

        He tells you “you’re amazing” and you haven’t done anything yet? I am wondering what his response will be when you actually do help him with something. Please write back and let us know!

        1. I'm Amazing*

          I promise I’ll keep you all updated! This generated a LOT more discussion than I thought. I am learning a lot.

      8. RUKiddingMe*

        I absolutely trust that you can assess your situation and regardless of what some others think I’m in no way trying to be alarmist so I hope you don’t take it that way. In my work I’ve seen so much “oh he’s awkward/doesn’t really mean it…” and “haha how could she think I meant anything by that/she’s so full of herself…” type stuff that my radar is making a perpetual sweep for any kind of weird, creepy, grooming, etc. behavior.

  11. Marion Q*

    I laughed reading that headline, because in university I had a friend who did that as well. Not always, but very frequently when we saw each other she’d ended our chat by giving me affirmation (but not by whispering!)

    And then I read the comments and yeah… It can be a bit creepy for others I guess?

    1. MK*

      There are plenty of things that are fine or no big deal in a social/personal context that are not ok in the workplace. Also, things that are nice and heart-warming from one good friend to another but come across weird when it’s a new co-worker doing them. Also, things that are cute when you are a 20-year-old university student that (perhaps unfairly) will make people gag in an older professional.

    2. annakarina1*

      It reads like someone read a self-help book and wants to go around spreading positivity , but does it in a patronizing way to women, like saying “You’re beautiful as you are!” I would find it irritating, as if they were doing it more to make themselves feel like a good person, and like they’d assume I had low self-esteem as a woman and would need to hear affirmations from a do-gooder stranger.

      1. RUKiddingMe*

        Hear affirmations from a male. Because you know, as a woman, male approval is the be all end all.

  12. Mary Richards*

    I am probably in the minority on this, but I would rather not be told about strep. If you had, I don’t know, measles or something—yes, say something so people can take emergency measures. But strep? It would just make me wonder if maybe that scratch I randomly had in my throat was more serious than the allergies I thought I had.

      1. WS*

        It certainly can, and is a major cause of heart problems in some countries where antibiotics are scarce, but if you have a mild case this is not going to happen. If you have a severe case knowing in advance (or in LW’s case afterwards) isn’t really going to help at all.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          This. These are all reasons not to go around deliberately coughing on people if you know you have strep–or just know you’re sick–but it’s not like hearing it this far post facto helps.

          When my kids were small there was the occasional phone call that someone they’d had a playdate with a few days ago was positive for strep, so you knew that a sore throat or fever was probably strep and worth a doctor visit. But it wasn’t like that knowledge put a guard on anyone’s kidneys.

          1. Mary Richards*

            Thank you all for pointing this out—I was unaware of the severity of the situation. Perhaps it is better to be open with the clients. Are there preventative measures that can be taken post-exposure?

            I have to admit, my initial response came from having a hypochondriac roommate and the absolute madness that would result if she found out she’d been exposed to strep.

      2. DAMitsDevon*

        Yep, this is actually my second day back at work in person (as opposed to working remotely) in over three months, because a strain of strep got into my bloodstream through a routine dental procedure and gave me a heart infection, which then caused my immune system to attack my kidneys. It’s very worst case scenario (and I have a heart defect, so the risk of this happening to me is higher than it is for the general population), but yeah, strep can be serious.

    1. Holly*

      Yes – strep is serious but it would also just come off as odd to me to be followed up with about it. I think people have the expectation that they’re out in the working world shaking hands with people and there’s the risk of getting sick.

      1. WellRed*

        +1. While one is focused on the unlikely chance someone has exposed them to strep throat, measles or flu or whatever is coming at you from the other direction.

      2. cheluzal*

        I think flu could kill more than strep and no one goes round calling us if they had it.
        This is why I HATE shaking hands and wish this stupid practice would end.

  13. Bowserkitty*

    OP1; PLEASE WHISPER BACK. This is the only appropriate reaction I can think of!!!

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I’d be itching to whisper back!

      He (whispers): “YOU ARE AMAZING!”

      Me (stage whisper): “WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS?”

      1. JB (not in Houston)*

        I really want the OP to say exactly that. I just wish I could be there to see it.

      2. fhqwhgads*

        I think if one goes the whisper back route, it’s really got to be either a “why are you whispering/ why do you keep saying that?” or “you are interrupting me” as a response.

      3. Turquoisecow*

        I’d reply, “NO YOU.”

        (Or maybe “NO YOUR MOM,” if I was feeling really juvenile.)

    2. Not a Real Giraffe*

      It would be very, very hard for me to resist whispering back, “you’re amazing… at being creepy!” and then at a normal volume asking him to please stop.

  14. I’m Amazing*

    OP1 here. Alison thank you for your advice, and to all posters so far. His manager used to be my manager and I believe her to be an excellent judge of character. I’ve had some experience with stalking myself, and this doesn’t feel similar (respectfully, I’m not trying to imply one size fits all). Part of me loves the idea of reciprocating but I suspect he’d just enjoy it. Ha. One day I did say “you seem amazing too” and immediately felt disappointed in myself, so I never tried that again. I’m doing gentle discouragement or not often engaging beyond a ‘good morning’ that I’d give any coworker.

    I appreciate your input!

    1. Engineer Girl*

      I’m thinking about the experiment where women went up to men and told them sexual stuff. The men loved it!
      A very different reaction from men doing it to women.

      1. CmdrShepard4ever*

        This reminds me of the HIMYM episode where the gang goes to a gay bar and guys love all the attention at first but by the end are tired of it.
        I imagine if guys grew up hearing all kinds of sexual stuff being harassed by women we would not enjoy it the same way as a one off experience.

    2. Clay on my apron*

      OP1, it’s always wise to trust your own judgement but I’d find this bizarre and annoying, even if you don’t get a creepy/stalker vibe.

      I would have looked aghast and spluttered incoherently the first time he did this, and if he continued I would have told him to please stop. I would have reacted this way even if it came from a close friend. From a virtual stranger it seems very presumptuous.

      He hardly knows you – so his flattery is empty. He says the same thing every single day, clearly rehearsed! And he’s whispering?!? This is really not normal workplace behaviour.

      If he wants to get to know you, let’s say because you seem like a useful professional contact, there are more natural ways to make frequent contact and build a work relationship.

    3. Batgirl*

      I’d have to deploy my teacher’s eyebrow. The one that raises up slightly and says “Did…you just call me amazing?” Teacher body language often works on the awkward because it’s pointed.
      But that would ruin the fun of having such a randomly inappropriate coworker I guess.

      1. CupcakeCounter*

        I love any reaction that involves the eyebrow raise (I call the “the Rock brow”) – really wish I could do it. My husband can but he ends up with a really weird facial expression that reduces the cool factor to the point that people start laughing.

    4. Sleve McDichael*

      OP 1, I just left a job where I worked with a guy who was just like that. He would come up to me and say things like, ‘You’re awesome.’ and ‘You should know that you’re important and your work is valued.’. From just this description, that might sound weird, especially as I am a female in her mid-twenties, but it wasn’t weird in context. He was just like that. He said stuff like that to me and a couple of other people but not everyone. This went on for the two years I was there. No harm in it. It was just his way of being nice. I agree with Alison that there is no need for you to put a stop to it if it’s not creepy.

      To the other commenters, please give OP 1 the benefit of the doubt when they say it’s awkward rather than creepy.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Seconding. Sometimes the things people hit on as social gestures seem odd. It doesn’t mean you’re obligated to do something about it.

    5. Kate, short for Bob*

      What about going back with “you’re tall” or “you’re brown eyed” or “you’re standing up” or “you’re carrying coffee”? Something that just maybe jerks him out of his complacency that he’s doing s worthwhile thing, without being weird yourself?

      1. Flower*

        I like this because it implies that saying OP is amazing is stating the obvious, and that’s pretty fantastic.

    6. Rebecca*

      Something in my brain remembered Daily Affirmations, and yes, it was an SNL skit many years ago :) but I Googled it, and found YouTube videos titled “I AM AMAZING – Powerful Affirmations For Success Self Confidence Prosperity Abundance More Money”. I guess it’s possible your new coworker is working on his self confidence? I’d probably find this mildly annoying, too, and might be tempted to print out a meme of Stuart Smalley and hang it nearby. Totally agree with the gentle discouragement tact.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        That was my first thought. A lot of people are really into affirmations (not me), and feel really strongly about them. I had to leave a FB group I’d been a member of for a couple of years with no issues, because someone mentioned daily affirmations, I said I’d tried to do them, but found I couldn’t, because my brain just wasn’t buying into the stuff, and all hell broke loose. The admin/founder herself showed up to say something like “If you don’t believe in daily affirmations, then I don’t know what you’re even doing in that group” and so I left. It wasn’t even a positivity-based group – it was a post-breakup support group (I was probably overdue to leave it anyway, since it’s been years since the last time I needed that kind of support). TL;DR this is close to a religious faith for a lot of people, and maybe OP’s coworker is like that too. Only thing I’m not understanding is why he only says them to OP and no one else.

        My daily affirmations consist of me waking up, opening the blinds, looking outside, and saying “Today will be a day.” Works great for me! It always comes true, too, just like positive affirmations are supposed to.

    7. hbc*

      If he is really a great guy, then he would be horrified to find out that people let him be awkward and inappropriate for weeks and months without letting him know. Ask him to stop. “Hey, Guy, let’s just stipulate that I’m awesome and you can skip to ‘Hello.'” Or in a loud whisper, “Why are we whispering?” Or “If you’re trying to get your work done faster by complimenting me, you’ll find I respond better to insults.” (That last one might go off in a different awkward direction, but I’d personally rather trade snarky barbs than hear regular affirmations.)

      Also, it might make sense to unpack why returning his compliment caused you to feel disappointed in yourself. If it was truly just a weird but morally/socially neutral conversation opener, then what’s the harm in responding in kind? But it doesn’t feel neutral to you, even if you’re not worried you’re going to find a rose in your car or something, and you not finding it pleasant is reason enough to ask him to stop.

    8. Emilia Bedelia*

      I work with several people who like to make small talk/random comments during the day, which I deeply dislike. What I do to combat this that seems to work well is to wear visible headphones (not necessarily while listening to anything) and appear very engrossed in my work. If someone makes a passing comment, I don’t acknowledge it and they assume I didn’t hear them. If they try harder to engage, I’ll make a production of it and scramble around with taking off my headphones and saying “Sorry, I was so focused I wasn’t paying attention. What was that?”
      By this point, most of them feel too embarrassed to repeat their comment if it was truly inane (think “Mondays, huh?” or “Time for coffee!”), and if they do repeat whatever they said and I don’t feel it dignifies a response, I’ll look at them with a bland, vaguely confused face and just say “Ah”, nod, and go back to my work. A week or two of being aggressively disinterested in small talk quickly trained most of the worst offenders out of trying to chat.

      Counterintuitively, acting very apologetic about the interruption and devoting your full attention to the interrupter can work very well to shame them into not bothering you with non important things. Maybe this is something that could work for you.

      1. nutella fitzgerald*

        This seems kind of aggressive and mean-spirited. Isn’t there a way you could deal with the small talk without having to inflict embarrassment on those people?

        1. Lana Kane*

          Agreed. Trying to fix issues by using shame or embarrassment is unkind and, ultimately, counter-productive. You may get what you want in terms of no more small talk, but the larger price to pay is that you can be seen as a non-team player, or actively countering any efforts at a collegial work environment.

    9. Stanley Nickels*

      I, along with another woman in my department, started getting daily affirmation emails out of nowhere from a male coworker who worked remotely. I believe he had the best of intentions (i.e. “this works for me and will help other people!”) and he was overall a nice guy, but I found it incredibly condescending and holier-than-thou to send out unasked for guidance in life. Daily.

      It sounds like it may be a similar situation, except I was able to beg off after a few weeks by saying I was getting too many emails and asking him politely to drop me from his list. I would suggest a similar work-focused request for your situation, like “I appreciate the sentiment, and I want you to feel free to swing by to chat, but these drive-by compliments are getting too distracting for me. Can we just stick to a friendly hello?” He may be a bit cooler to you, but it’s worth it to feel more comfortable in your workspace/headspace.

      1. Shirley Keeldar*

        This is exactly where I land on this—I will take the OP’s word for it that the guy’s not being creepy, but I’d find it grating and condescending, as if she is waiting around longingly for his praise. I am capable of performing my own self-assessment of my amazing-ness level and I would not need a random coworker doing it for me.

        (Current amazing-ness level: 67.2%.)

    10. AngryOwl*

      I believe you that he’s not creepy, but I am just so curious as to why he’s *whispering* it rather than just talking normally. It’s so odd! If you find out, let us know lol.

    11. Close Bracket*

      I’m doing gentle discouragement or not often engaging beyond a ‘good morning’ that I’d give any coworker.

      If you ultimately decide you want it to stop, you will need to be very direct. Still be gentle, don’t tell him cut it the eff out or anything, but nobody in the history of ever has taken a hint regarding an unwanted behavior. You don’t have to say it’s creepy or anything. I would go the jokey route, like “OK, I know I’m amazing! Now stop saying it. I got the message.” Don’t say, “You don’t need to tell me that.” He knows he doesn’t need to. He *wants* to, for whatever reason. You need to clearly tell him not to.

  15. In AK*

    OP2 Strep- If they are wavering between, do I just have a cold or strep, it might be useful to know someone they’ve been in contact with has been diagnosed with strep so they can get to their doctor. Although as someone said upstream, there is an unfortunate tendency for some people to get angry when they find out they’ve been exposed to germs.

  16. One of the Sarahs*

    #3 As well as Alison’s great advice, also bear in mind that some organisations will want you to go through an induction process before you start working, so they can be sure you understand the company/have completed any mandatory training modules etc.

    1. Womble*

      Yep. It’s great that you’re excited! If you want to do some prep maybe read some more general stuff like the company website or industry publications.

  17. Also Amazing*

    Ugh, OP/LW1, I also know a guy friend who’s fond of telling people (me) they’re amazing. Only he does it randomly via text. And I do mean randomly. As in, months apart at different times of day.

    It’s really weird as it’s completely unwarranted and unconnected to any of our other interactions. Just, bam! “Hey, you’re amazing :D” I was uncomfortable with it at first because, you know, what do you do with that? Now it’s just whatever and I either ignore it or respond with a quick thanks and move the conversation along. The first time though? Overthought it to death.

    It does help that we are friends and he’s in an entirely different part of the country.

    1. Reba*

      Now I’m wondering if there is a guide to social interaction out there that is telling people to do this.

    2. Mr. Tyzik*

      I have a coworker who does this. He’s three time zones away, and periodically, he’ll IM me with compliments that have no context to anything we’re working on, just as a way of boosting me up? But it’s weird because we know each other very little and I’m never sure how to respond.

      I don’t think I’ll ask him to stop since it seems so small in the long run. But if it was someone whispering to me every day, I’d have to shut that down. That would be too immediately awkward for my social comfort.

  18. Folkie*

    OP1 – Maybe a “would you mind not whispering?” might help. He’ll have to say it out loud and you’ll be able to see whether or not he minds the whole office overhearing.

    1. Butter Makes Things Better*

      Ooh, I like this. Esp. because whether or not OP1 is perturbed by the whisperer, the optics of the amazing whisper routine beyond her neighbor being baffled/amused may not be the best. Saying that because if I witnessed that happening on the reg, I’d feel uncomfortable that the whisperer’s unprofessional flirty thing was going unchecked.

      1. Marthooh*

        OT, but “The Amazing Whisper Routine” sounds like this summer’s hot beach read.

      2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        As someone who did (unbeknownst to me) have rumors about me going around in various workplaces, I second this notion very vigorously.

  19. Jellyfish*

    Next week, I have two final interviews, and one organization is flying me out at their expense. The other requested that I travel to them on my dime, but gave me the option for Skype. It’s far enough that I’d have to fly, and I simply don’t have the money to buy a plane ticket and hotel on short notice. I’ll be doing the interview electronically.

    While I plan to do my best for both, honestly, I don’t feel like I have much of a chance on the Skype one. I’ll be competing with people who are able to do the interview (and accompanying presentation) in person, and I think they have a pretty strong advantage in that.

    It also gives me pause on the organization’s financial situation. While that’s probably unfair, it makes me wonder if they would have the funds to help me out with professional development and such if I took a job there.

    Meanwhile, I’ve been much more enthusiastic in prepping for my in-person interview.
    I don’t have a solution to offer OP5, just throwing out that the disparity probably affects the candidates’ mindsets as well.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      I think it’s totally reasonable to be given pause re their finances: the cost of your salary and benefits are going to far outweigh the cost of flights and hotel for top candidates.

      For OP specifically, I got the impression that because jobs are few and in high demand, the company just doesn’t feel they need to bother. The flip side is the applicant who feels in high demand with a lot of good options and won’t be jumping through any weird hoops.

    2. LaDeeDa*

      Until coming to AAM I never heard of someone having to travel for an interview on their own dime. I am so curious which industries this is a norm in. Maybe that is a discussion for Friday!

      Good luck in your interviews!

      1. Lily Rowan*

        Probably mostly nonprofits — at least, that’s been true in my experience working for a bunch of kinds of nonprofits. They don’t budget for non-local candidates at all.

    3. Autumnheart*

      I don’t think it’s unfair to consider the company’s financials at all. Traveling to an interview probably costs, let’s say, a thousand bucks for flight and hotel. That’s a lot of money to ask of a candidate to spend on a job that they might not get, but it should be pretty incidental for a company. If they can’t afford to pay for my interview, I’d have to wonder how they would afford my paycheck.

      1. Ali G*

        Yup. Even my cash-strapped non-profit would pay for the finalists to fly in if they needed to.
        However, I agree that Skype will never = in-person interview. I’m pretty sure I had an advantage on the job I have now because I was local. I did a phone interview with HR, and she said she was moving me on to the next round, and because of travel schedules (theirs not mine) and other candidate interviews (I assumed not local), it might be by Skype. I replied that I would be happy to come in to meet with the team (3 members of the Executive Team). They took me up on the offer, and one team member Skyped in because she was on the road. Two weeks later I met the CEO and a few days later I got a job offer.
        I just don’t think you can connect with people as well over video chat.

        1. anonykins*

          I think Skype interviews can be done extremely effectively, but they take practice and the same (or more) level of effort as an in-person interview. I have conducted multiple successful international job searches via Skype, and have also sat in on interviews conducted via Skype. While you’re always slightly at the mercy of the technology (video lag!), there are little things you can do to greatly improve your interview presence that I’ve found surprisingly few candidates bother with (ex. well-lit space with a blank background, take off your glasses that show your computer screen reflection, use headphones to prevent feedback). When I’ve treated Skype interviews with the same level of professionalism and attention to detail that I’d treat an in-person interview with, I haven’t felt disadvantaged by showing up on a screen. But again, it takes practice. As an immigrant, I’ve been Skyping with family back home since I was a young kid.

      2. Jessica*

        Public higher ed here. A large organization can have funds siloed in weird ways. When my department hires, we’ll have no problem affording your salary, because we got a specific budget line item for it from above, or else we wouldn’t be recruiting. But the fact that the university as a whole has gazillions of dollars, and can always find some if the university president needs new mahogany office furniture or the football field needs new astroturf, is disconnected from the fact that my cash-strapped department may not be able to buy you a plane ticket, especially if you’re international.

    4. StrangeFromTheOtherSide*

      OP5 here: Thank you for this perspective from a candidate! I do agree that it can reflect on the organization. When I interviewed my travel was paid for and it influenced my decision to accept the job. Which was a great choice, and I have since been granted professional development funds, etc.

  20. Asenath*

    OP2: Check with your doctor. When I was diagnosed with shingles – and a quick check with Dr. Google will show that there’s a range of opinions on how contagious it is; mostly that you have to be in quite close contact with the lesions AND not have had chicken pox to get sick – my doctor said instantly that I must notify the caregivers of a sick person I’d visited very shortly before the lesions popped up. In the event, my friend died of her illness before she could develop shingles even had I transmitted it to her, but I followed the doctor’s advice anyway. I felt ridiculously guilty at first – although I had had no reason to know I was carrying something – and no harm was done, but in that case, disclosing was the right thing to do.

    1. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Yeah, I had shingles right before I started freshman year of college. I got to call my soon to be roommate and have an awkward conversation on if she’d had chickenpox or the vaccine, and why.

    2. Close Bracket*

      I can’t help but wonder about the details of what you googled and what exactly your doctor told you, bc you can’t transmit shingles. If you have shingles, you can transmit chickenpox to someone who isn’t vaccinated/hasn’t had chicken pox, but shingles flare ups themselves are not transmissible bc shingles is a reactivation of an existing viral infection. It is not a new viral infection.

  21. Myrin*

    #1, since you don’t seem particularly bothered by your colleague’s behaviour in a “he frightens me” kind of way, your letter seems to be boiling down to this question you ask: “Am I doing any damage letting this daily affirmation continue?”.

    And I honestly think that’s something only you can decide, depending on your relationship with and the culture at your larger office/work area. I’m specifying that because as long as he’s not actually a stalkery person, you’re not going to do any damage to yourself by just letting this continue. You haven’t experienced any damage so far and it sounds like he’s such a routine-y person that, if you allow it, this will just go on as is infinitely.

    However. This is where your reputation and the culture in your company comes into play. It is absolutely possible that via your coworkers(‘ perception) you’ll do damage to yourself and him by letting this continue. Not necessary, but quite possible. Let me elaborate.

    – As you can see from multiple comments on this post, a lot of people would feel creeped out by witnessing such an exchange, especially the whispering and the not-doing-it-to-anyone-else. Going back to the “damage” wording, this might do damage to him – coworkers think he’s a huge creep, don’t want to work with or even talk to him – as well as to coworkers who might start to be afraid of him/have flashbacks to a situation where they were stalked by someone/etc. On the other hand, you mention in one of your comments that both you and your neighbour find this amusing, so it’s possible that there’s something about both of your behaviour that IRL wouldn’t raise any creepiness flags at all and would just be seen as a humourous routine. See my point above: only you can decide if that’s the case.

    – I strongly concur with MK above that “if I was witnessing this daily, it would only be amusing to me to the first couple of times, or if done very occasionally”. I might, as a random bystander, also assume that you guys have some kind of friendly history together or have become fast friends at your job – if I found out that you actually barely know each other, I’d probably find the whole exchange quite strange even faster.

    – Because, let’s face it, it is quite strange even all by its lonesome. (If I had to guess as to his motif, I’d say that he probably thinks you’re neat and expresses it in a really awkward way. I’m guessing that because, thinking about it, I actually have a coworker who sometimes behaves similarly but we know each other better than you two seem to know each other and it’s also never apropos of nothing with her but as a reaction to something “awesome” I did or said. It’s quite strange to witness because she’s actually a really reserved person with an almost uncannily calm and unemotional voice and demeanour, and then I’ll say something funny and she almost doubles over with laughter and starts praising my wittiness. It’s weirdly endearing but also just somewhat weird, period, mostly because it’s so at odds with her general personality.)

    – On the other hand, you say that you’re getting the feeling that this is part of some kind of strategy. And if you’re getting that feeling, is it possible that others are, too? Again I have to agree with MK that this might be perceived as either his sucking up to receive perks (of whatever nature; you only mention his requesting something once) or as a strange attempt at flirting. And, again, circling back to your “damage” phrasing, you don’t want to do damage to your reputation by being seen as someone who responds positively to either of these behaviours. But, also again, going back to my “know your office” point: maybe that wouldn’t be the case at all and you’re certain that you’re known among your peers for your integrity, fairness, and general ethical behaviour; only you can estimate that.

    All of these are things that you need to weigh in your mind and decide whether they apply to this situation or not.
    But independently of any of this, if I can give one piece of personal advice: ask him what the heck is up with this. Not in an accusing or mouth-twisted-in-disdain kind of way, but in a humourous one which matches your cheerful personality. Something like “Did I miss a memo somewhere or why are we doing this every day?” or similar, whatever fits your style. I’m suggesting this because if it stops, you don’t have to be baffled by this anymore, but also, selfishly, because I’m intensely curious and would love an update about what became of this. ;)

    Best wishes!

    1. Wendie*

      All by it’s lonesome is such a cute expression! I haven’t heard that since I was reading cowboy books to my babies. It just never seems to come up when people are speaking English but it brings back good memories.

    2. Madeline Wuntch*

      This seems very fair and evenhanded! I know I personally would want this to stop. This gives me an jumpy, itchy-skin feeling like when I see those clustered hole pictures…I tend to lean towards if it’s two adults who are both completely fine with it, okay,but for whatever reason, this doesn’t sit right. I think it’s because I am putting myself in a bystander’s shoes, and, I think it’s reasonable to see things that are “off” even if the recipient seems fine with it…it’s natural to wonder, “Is that okay? It seems off. Would I be okay with that? Should I say something to “help” her or is she genuinely fine with it?” and, if you can relieve that burden from people, please do! the burden of this guy doing it to someone else who maybe DOES mind but doesn’t know what to say, and the burden from people who are uncomfortable and not sure if they are being unreasonable or not.

  22. The Rafters*

    OP 1, the comment wouldn’t concern me – in my office we often make comments similar to this to one another. But it’s out loud – the entire office can hear it. The whispering part of it would creep me out. I’d tell him to knock it off.

  23. Call me St. Vincent*

    #2. I’m immunosuppressed due to medication so I would want to know if I was exposed to strep because if I get it I have to get IV antibiotics in the hospital. So I would say if you knew someone you met with was immunosuppressed you should tell them. If not, then I think Alison’s advice holds!

    1. WellRed*

      But do people know you are immunosuppressed? I’d certainly not want to expose you to anything, but if we are just acquaintances, I wouldn’t know.

  24. Rox*

    OP#2 – It might be a little too late now, but for whatever it might be worth, I would appreciate being told if I were in the shoes of the people you met with. You can never know who is immunocompromised, or who might be around someone who is on a regular basis. Also, the sooner people know why they have that tickle in the back of their throat, the sooner they can seek treatment.

    (Disclaimer: I get hit very hard by sore throats – I’m prone to them, and the pain I experience is horrible and has been my entire life – and live in near-constant fear of getting sick. Getting exposed to strep is a nightmare scenario for me, and I would want to know ASAP if I had been. So…YMMV.)

  25. LaDeeDa*

    I would never pay for my own travel for an interview. Never. People interviewing on SKYPE can still give a presentation, I present on SKYPE daily.
    As Alison said, if you want equity, then make their interview experience the same. Period.

    1. YouGottaThrowtheWholeJobAway*

      Hard agree. I present over webinar very regularly — there would be no way for my team to get together or all stakeholders to be together without it being a cost prohibitive waste of time and money. My boss and I have met in person twice in 3 years.

      Let everyone Skype for the first two interviews, and fly out 2 or 3 candidates for the big final interview. Companies should never make candidates pay travel expenses. And you will be setting yourself up for hiring trustafarians only if you create this option where rich candidates still have the option to pay for their own travel. Plus, if your org has any diversity initiatives, that would be pretty hypocritical.

  26. Czhorat*

    OP#4 – is it possible that you overplayed your hand a touch? It’s too late now and easier to see in hindsight, but I can see a hiring manager looking askance at your requesting expedited consideration because you’d already received an offer which you decided to not take. They might wonder if the offer really existed and, even if it did, this could feel to them as more a pretext to push yourself ahead in the process than it is a genuine need for a quick decision.

    IF you weren’t going to take the initial offer, why push the second potential company for a fast-tracked process? Did something change, was this a matter of your having reflected on the details of the offer, or was it something you’d never take? The hiring manager might assume the latter.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      Agree on overplaying. Where I know of “I need an offer this week, because I need to get back to this other company” being employed, it was because the existing offer was one the applicant felt they had to take (to be able to pay rent). Had an offer from the second employer not materialized, they would have taken the first. Not thought about it and turned it down.

    2. Super Dee Duper Anon*

      I think this is a good point. I fully believe the LW was genuinely undecided on the offer at the time they told the preferred company about it, but it’s one those situations where you have to consider how it might look to outsider (which, of course, is way easier to do with the benefit of hindsight!)

      I also think it’s one of those things where how the info was communicated (that LW had declined the first offer) might have an outsized effect. I think for this to go over not negatively it would need to be communicated with a bit of finesse. I’d want to make it extra clear that I appreciated that the preferred company accommodated me and maybe give a bit of insight into why I declined the other offer (very briefly – just like “after much consideration I decided not to accept the role at ABC Co. It was a difficult decision, but ultimately I decided it wasn’t in line with my long term goals.”).

      1. Czhorat*

        Yes, agreed.

        IT’s an unfortunate situation in which, even if intentions were sincere, it’s very easy for the hiring manager to read it in a negative way. Even with the careful messaging it’ll probably still be at least a mild negative.

    3. Jennifer*

      I agree. I don’t think the OP should have told the other company about the offer. They seemed to know from the beginning they weren’t going to accept it. I think the expectations were a bit higher for this expedited interview and they didn’t meet them, unfortunately. If the interview hadn’t been expedited, maybe that wouldn’t have been the case.

      It reminds me of turning someone down for a date, thinking another person you have your eye on will ask but they never do.

  27. Celery Juice*

    #1 I used to have an old boss that when I did something good or if he would bring me up to someone he would say that I was a rockstar in an normal or highly elevated volume. His other employee he always told her and people she was a Superstar. It was a great moral boost and I rarely had a bad day working for him. You can’t get that same feeling from whispering.

    1. CM*

      I think it’s very different when it comes from your boss rather than a peer. Your boss is supposed to be evaluating you. It’s nice to be appreciated by your coworkers, but daily whisper-affirmations are a little over the top. Also, it’s not like this guy is saying, “Thanks so much for helping me with project X” — “you’re amazing” is more like general admiration, which I wouldn’t appreciate from a boss either.

  28. Jessica Fletcher*

    OP #2 – Don’t call people to tell them you’re sick. That’s weird. Strep throat is a pretty common illness. If you had measles, then ok. But not a common thing like this. People know that being around other humans exposes them to germs.

    If you contact them, a lot of people are going to take it as you implying that they got you sick. So you’ll either be the weirdo who called to give a near stranger your health report, or the weirdo who accused them of giving you strep throat. Be neither!

    1. Holly*

      This is exactly what I came here to say, and you said it much better. Getting sick happens from interacting with people, it would seem really strange and out of touch to circle back with someone saying you were sick!

      1. RandomU...*

        Agreed, it’s been interesting to watch the past few years as the pendulum has swung from ‘Eh.. it’s a cold/flu/strep/chicken pox’ to ‘OMG COLD/FLU/STREP/CHICKEN POX!’

        *Most people need a healthy amount of exposure to all of this stuff to keep their immune systems healthy. Being part of a society means exposure… we all go to stores, offices, restaurants, bars, schools, etc.

        This is one of those things that call for common sense. If you know you are sick, limit your exposure to others and take precautions. If you aren’t sick don’t treat the people you know like typhoid mary.

        *Not all

        1. londonedit*

          My thoughts exactly. As several others have said, for whatever reason in the UK a sore throat/tonsillitis is not a noteworthy illness, and ‘strep throat’ isn’t something people fear getting. I don’t think we’ve reached ‘OMG ILLNESS’ levels here (yet??). With chicken pox, people will often actually ask if they can expose their children to a child with the disease (or at least not really mind if chicken pox is going through their kid’s school) because they want to get it over and done with while the child is young. The older you are when you get it, the nastier it can be, so people are often secretly pleased when their child ends up getting it at 4 or 5.

          It wouldn’t even occur to me to tell people I might have exposed them to my cold or sore throat – these things are a natural part of everyday life. If you travel on public transport, work in an office with loads of people, have kids at school or nursery…you’re going to be exposed to all sorts of germs. Obviously if it was a serious illness and I knew I’d come into contact with someone who was pregnant or elderly or whatever, that’s different, but not for everyday ailments.

          1. Z*

            One major difference between strep and tonsillitis is that strep is bacterial and so can be treated with medication, which means a much faster and more pleasant recovery and a huge reduction in potential serious complications.

            Also do they not have the chicken pox vaccine in the UK? I know people will sometimes expose kids, but a vaccine seems like a way nicer way to do that for both the parent and kid.

            1. RandomU...*

              From what I understand the chicken pox vaccine is available in the UK, but not advised or part of the NHS scheduled routine.

              There is some concern about the vaccine becoming less effective as the person ages (normal for vaccines) and loss of immunity for people who are older (More serious in adults). Also as the use of the vaccine increases the rate of shingles increases, since repeated exposure to the chicken pox virus keeps the immune system working.

              It will be an interesting study at some point to see which approach (US-Vaccinate vs. UK – Don’t Vaccinate) was most effective overall to the populations.

              1. RUKiddingMe*

                I had chickenpox when I was 10…way, way, way before a vaccine was available. I remember it clearly. All things being equal…I’d rather have had a vaccine.

                It wasn’t part of the recommended schedule for those my son’s age when it came out, but you better believe that the minute it was available he got it. True for a few other vaccines that are (and have been during the past and for over 20+ years) as well. If it was available, he got it…whatever “it” was.

                1. RandomU...*

                  I think the important thing is to make sure he continues to get the boosters as he ages. Something that I’ve honestly not really heard mentioned in the wild when it comes to the CP vaccine.

                  Me, I’m glad I had the CP as a kid and don’t have to worry about it. Well except that I kind of do now with the rise in shingles. Now there’s something that you don’t want to get. Got those when I was 5. Holy hell did they hurt. So I guess I get to look forward to shingles vaccines.

                  I take no ‘official’ stand on vaccines. But with the CP vax, I do see the advantages and disadvantages to both schools of thought. As I said, time will tell which approach is ‘better’. I do think the UK approach requires less maintenance than the US approach so I do think they have the advantage there. The US is going to have a helluva time when those kids lose the effective immunity from their vaccines and we start to see adult outbreaks increase.

    2. CM*

      Agreed, it’s not like an STD! For those saying they’re immunosuppressed, I’d assume that they would already be sensitive to signs of sickness, so I don’t see how it would help them to know they had shaken hands with someone who had strep. If OP#2 shared a drink with somebody, sure, or if they spent a lot of time alone with them in an enclosed room, maybe, but not if they just shook hands in a business meeting.

      1. professor*

        if I know my partner has been exposed, I am more careful around him (I’m immunocompromised). 2 weeks in, it’s too late, but sooner could be relevant…

  29. Angelinha*

    I worked with someone like that!!! It drove me BANANAS. He was an older man, entry level, and would greet younger women every morning with “Thanks for being here today!” and bid us farewell in the evening by saying “Thanks for doing such a great job today!” He did this to people at his level and senior, didn’t discriminate by title. My boss agreed it was icky but her boss thought he was just being friendly/polite/that’s just how he was raised. It came across as so unbelievably condescending to me.

      1. Twenty Points for the Copier*

        LOL. Though the big difference is that Chris Traeger does that to EVERYONE rather than just younger women.

        I feel like I’ve seen this with people who are very outlandishly positive to EAs and other admins. Not creepy in any sort of predatory sense but still not quite right. Like they’re trying to counter society’s underappreciation of administrative work but it comes off as false and performative – a little bit weirdly fawning instead.

        1. Holly*

          Ahh, got it, from your comment about how its all levels I thought of it as just all-around exceedingly friendly. But you’re right, just to younger women and admins is weirdly condescending!!

    1. annakarina1*

      I found it insulting when a male boss in an old job would reply to my goodbyes with, “Thanks for your help.” I had been an intern, then given more responsibilities while not really promoted, and it felt insulting to me to just be seen as “the help” when I was busy with a lot more work without the pay raise., and I wasn’t at my job just to help them, but to work in my own career as well.

      1. CmdrShepard4ever*

        Not trying to negate your experience and it seems from your comment that maybe there were other issues with the job that led to you feel like “the help?”

        But I have had several bosses/colleges say say “Thanks for your help.” when all I have done are things that are a normal part of my job and that I get paid to do and like you I do them to further my own career. The times that I have helped have varied widely from running a file over to a coworker who forgot it, doing the majority of the work on a project under a time crunch, to doing a bunch of small/quick tasks for someone that allowed them to focus on other things. I get it that “Thanks for your help.” can have widely different meanings based on tone/inflection and other subtle differences but usually it has been a way to show appreciation and gratitude. I think this is similar to when a boss ask “Can you do xyz task?” they are not really asking if you want to do it, they are telling you to do it unless you have a legitimate business reason for not being able to do it.

    2. Phoenix*

      “Thanks for being here today!” > All I can think of is the “parade waving tutorial” scene from The Princess Diaries, oh no.

    3. RUKiddingMe*

      Sounds like he thought he was in charge of stuff. Or that he should be…or something.

  30. Bunny Girl*

    OP #5 – I used to assist with the hiring process in my old department and for the 2nd interview we had the exact some set up as yours where you meet the team, get a tour, and a meal. The person doing most of the hiring insisted that if someone didn’t want to fly out for that (sometimes with a week’s notice and often across the country) then they weren’t truly interested in the job and it really didn’t sit well with me. While we did hire some higher level positions, a lot of these were entry level and really poorly paid and I completely understood why people wouldn’t want to put their funds towards that (and they might not have had those funds). I personally think that there’s nothing wrong with using Skype if you can’t personally afford to fly that person out yourself. Don’t put people in that position. They can still meet with your team over Skype. Maybe set something up so they can take a virtual tour. But sticking to that mindset if really going to just weed out people who can’t afford to travel on their own dime.

    1. Save One Day at a Time*

      A virtual tour is a great idea! Even photos or a video of the office and space would be useful for the applicants

    2. RUKiddingMe*

      Weeding out people who can’t afford that kind of travel is just one more step towards having a homogenous culture.

  31. RandomU...*

    OP2 (I think)… Strep Carrier :)

    No, I wouldn’t seek out anyone to tell. I understand there are immuno-compromised people, but really, the contact you describe is normal every day contact that we all have to take precautions (like washing hands etc.) from. Unless you were sharing drinkware and straws with folks you’re fine and don’t need to feel guilty about the exposure.

    It would be really odd for you to reach out to any of these people after the fact to tell them about your medical situation. I think I’d use the health department guidelines…. as in if a hospital or doctor doesn’t have to report this to the health department, you shouldn’t feel obligated to either.

  32. Half-Caf Latte*

    It seems like I’m in a minority here, but I’m on team “don’t need to disclose the strep.”

    I’ve sent a courtesy heads up text to the parents of friends of the espresso shots, hey FYI, they turned up sick a day or two after a playdate, keep an eye out, sorry if we got you sick.

    People have voiced the concern about clients interpreting the alert as a PAG you-got-me-sick, but if I were the client, I’d totally assume that you came to work under the weather, and should have stayed home, and I’d be real peeved. And functionally, retro-notification doesn’t change the exposure or their likelihood of contracting illness, so what’s the benefit? They have someone specific to blame for their strep? I can’t imagine that would make many people more enthusiastic about working with your company.

    (Yes there are immunocompromised people, and this might be my nurse-bias, but I’d expect that they’d understand that they need to take precautions, and take steps to limit contact [not shake hands] and have a lower threshold for seeking medical care).

    1. L.S. Cooper*

      I’ve seen many cute names for kids, but espresso shots is probably my favorite terminology!

    2. Jennifer*

      Agree 100%. Anyone can be unknowingly contagious. Immunocompromised people need to take proper precautions because of that. I don’t see how calling everyone as though she has the plague helps anybody.

      1. RUKiddingMe*

        We do take precautions. Lots and lots of them. We however are without the ability to force ill people to stay home out of the public sphere. Sick (even very sick, feverish type sick) people go to work, the mall, grocery store, and the post office…for some reason. It’s not necessary to shake hands to catch air born illnesses. That’s one of the reasons measles is so bad because it stays around…”in the air” for a while after the disease vector has vacated.

          1. RUKiddingMe*

            Don’t even get me started. For some reason (there is one I just can’t remember what it is) I keep getting an MMR (the whole enchilada) and it lasts like a year…two maybe then just …goes away. So for who knows how long before I can get checked and re immunized, I am not immune and there is less herd immunity and just grrrrr!

        1. Half-Caf Latte*

          There’s a difference between people who go out knowing they are sick, and people who are infectious but don’t yet have symptoms, like the OP.

    3. goducks*

      I completely agree with you. I think anybody who goes out into public should assume that they’ve been potentially exposed to all manner of common ailments, and use common sense precautions like hand washing. If someone were to tell me a week after shaking their hand that they’d come down with strep after we’d interacted I’d be puzzled as to what I was supposed to do with that information. Either I’m going to get strep or not, and even if I get it, there’s no saying that the person is the source of the infection.

    4. Bunny Girl*

      Yeah personally I would think this was a little weird if I got an email from someone saying “Hey I came down with strep X days after I met with you.” Okay? The only time I could maybe see letting people know is let’s say I went into my office, and left that afternoon to go to the doctor because I wasn’t feeling well and at the doctor’s office I tested positive for strep. I might email the people I sat next to and just said Hey heads up. But the truth is, people fall ill really quickly with contagious stuff all the time. It’s not generally expected that you contact everyone you’ve been in contact with that week to let them know. I will say that if you know that someone is compromised or they have a loved one that is, it might be a courtesy to let them know.

  33. Observer*

    #5 – I think that Alison’s solution – do round to on skype for everyone and round three only for finalists, limited to no more than three, which you can then pay for.

    It’s equitable. It’s also smart. You’re talking a fairly large investment of time between the travel and all of the activities involved. That’s a lot to ask unless someone is a VERY strong candidate. It’s also a fairly large time investment for you as well and if you can cut that down in a reasonable way, it makes sense to do so.

  34. gingersnap*

    Re OP #2, telling them now won’t do much but in a similar situation I’d inform people right away once the test came back positive. I used to get strep all. the. time. and the antibiotics really help – the sooner you can start them the better. Giving people a heads up so if they start feeling sick they know to get to a doctor right away would be helpful. I know if I knew there was a chance I encountered strep I would appreciate knowing what to watch out for.

  35. Save One Day at a Time*

    #5 are any of the candidates local, or would they all need to travel? Does the company offer relocation help?

  36. fhqwhgads*

    For #2 I think if the situation were that you met with people on Monday, Tuesday started feeling ill, Wednesday were diagnosed with strep, and you’d be warning people Thursday, that’s a reasonable thing to do. Especially if you know any of the people you met with are or live with someone immunocompromised.

    If the situation is you met with people the week of the 6th, wrote to AAM the week of the 13th and you’re debating telling people today, the ship has sailed. If they were going to get it, they’d have symptoms by now and would either have been ill enough to already seek medical attention or it’s passed.

  37. BeeGee*

    OP #5: I just had a flashback to this past February where the firm I was interviewing with where the process ended in a frustrating manner. I had two phone interviews with them and they wanted me to come in person for a third interview. I was beyond excited – until I was told that I had to foot my own travel expenses and would only be reimbursed upon being selected for the position. If their office had only been up to a two hour drive I would have gladly taken the risk, but the drive would have been around 5-6 hours each way and the short flight would have been far more expensive than I would have wanted to do. On top of this, I was working through a recruiter who was the person that relayed this information to me.

    Long story short, it felt like a real slap in the face. I have no idea how many candidates were in the running for the role at that point, but I wish that if it were more than 3-4 they would have done another interview via Skype . If it were only a few left, I wish they would have offered reimbursement for all candidates to visit on site, regardless of location or whether they got the position. To me, it made me think that the company was cheap and weren’t willing to spend the money to acquire talented employees.

    1. CM*

      I think asking people to pay their own travel expenses is basically telling them they need to pay to be considered for the job. I like the suggestion of doing Skype for everybody and paying travel expenses for the top 2.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        This. I can’t do reimbursement because I don’t have the money to begin with. So what are candidates in my position supposed to do?

  38. Allison*

    #2 – You didn’t know you were sick, and you may well have picked it up from one of these people without them telling you! Admittedly I’m coming from a place of always feeling guilty when I get someone else sick or inadvertently pass along an issue I didn’t cause, and am trying to let go of that. Here, I think they’re either sick or they’re not, and even if they are, it’s not the measles — it doesn’t totally matter where they got it from.

  39. Allison*

    #3 — True time off with no work responsibilities is so rare and really valuable to restart and refresh– treasure it and let go of the impulse to start the job early!

  40. Not Me*

    I suspect the actual visual of The Whisperer and the visual everyone commenting here has are in two different dimensions of the universe.

    1. Close Bracket*

      I’m picturing The Whisperer with a thin mustache that he twirls while talking out the side of his mouth and keeping an eye out for witnesses.

  41. Jennifer Juniper*

    OP1: Next time the Whisperer comes up, say “What? Speak up. I can’t hear you.” Repeat until the Whisperer either backs off or is forced to say his affirmations loud enough for the whole office to stop and stare at him.

  42. Bella*

    OP #5:

    I worked for a small non-profit once that didn’t pay for candidate travel and we had two local and one non-local candidate. The non-local candidate was so strong that I decided to interview him via Skype and he was still better than the local folks. I hired him three years ago, left my job before he started, and he’s still there and, apparently, fantastic. I wish I could have flown him in but I wasn’t allowed to do it (yay for middle management). I don’t think it’s right or equitable, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. Whatever that is though, know what your rules are and stick to them.

  43. Anon for this post*

    #2, please advise those folks with whom you were in contact. I share the following from kindness. Others are mentioning impact on those with compromised immune systems, and that is important. I wanted to note a less common risk, but one that is serious nonetheless. If you’re exposed to strep, and it is perking along in your body and you have a delay of several days before being seen and the physician doesn’t know about your exposure … well, you can have your mitral valve damaged. (It is an important valve in your heart.)

    This happened to my daughter when she was 4. She will have to take a course of antibiotics prophylactically for the rest of her life whenever she is at risk of bacterial infection. And at some point if the valve degrades further she will need surgery to replace the valve.

    Her life would have been different had the person with strep gotten a quicker diagnosis. And failing that, if I’d known she was exposed to strep and told her pediatrician so he could have acted more aggressively. I was the one with strep, and my lack of thought to consequences harmed my child. Please, communicate. Chances are no one caught it from you, and these folks will appreciate your care in notifying them.

  44. I'm Amazing*

    LW1 here. I thought I’d provide you all with a quick update: I think my colleague reads this site! He just gave me a very pleasant and cheerful good morning on his way past. :)

    1. myswtghst*

      Yay! Best possible outcome :) Hope he sticks to appropriate greetings in the future!

  45. Emily*


    Strep is highly contagious and can attack immunocompromised people in unforeseen ways. My sister was just exposed to Strep and her brain attacked her Central Nervous System. She was in the hospital for a month and is now relearning how to walk. It might not be a big deal for anyone but it could be a huge deal for someone.

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