our boss got invited to our rowdy beach weekend, cold-contacting strangers on LinkedIn, and more

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

1. One of our bosses got invited to our rowdy beach weekend

I am good friends with three of my coworkers, let’s call them Billy, Goat, and Gruff. The four of us are distributed across three different teams, but we work together a lot on various projects and also hang out with some regularity outside of work. As such, we are planning a big beach weekend getaway in August. We’ve all invited various friends, booked a giant house for the weekend, and have been making plans for a super fun, rowdy weekend of drunken shenanigans (as beach excursions tend to be).

Billy is also friends with Goat and Gruff’s boss, Gabby. Like us, Gabby is in her 30s, friendly, fun, lively, and would logically be friends with all of us if she weren’t Goat and Gruff’s boss. She has been to dinner and drinks with us, and on one occasion the whole group went back to Billy’s house to drink more beer and eventually play a well-known boundary-pushing party card game. We all had fun, but Goat and Gruff both left early-ish, and didn’t drink much (as you’d expect).

This is where it starts to go sideways. Billy, in a fit of generosity, invited Gabby to the beach weekend. Since then, Gabby has asked me for additional details and if there’s room for her to join. My hostess/planner self is screaming that Gabby really, truly cannot come. That there’s a world of difference between the equivalent of a rowdy happy hour with coworkers and a whole weekend of road-tripping, mostly-naked (swimsuits!) heavy-drinking shenanigans, communal living, and collective reckoning with rampant hangovers and sunburn. Regardless, what was a smooth-sailing fun weekend is now embroiled in office hierarchy drama.

It seems to me like my options here are a) ask Billy to tell Gabby not to come, and run the risk that he’ll blame it on Goat and Gruff for being spoilsports, b) be the bad guy myself and tell Gabby that she can’t come, blaming it on my delicate/old-fashioned sensibilities about mixing work dynamics (possibly damaging our relationship in the process), c) pray that she won’t attend, either because her schedule will prohibit or because her sense of decorum kicks in and she decides to bow out, or d) be a terrible hostess, stew in my own stress, and let things play out as they may. I could use some help figuring out how to approach this.

Gabby can’t come. It’s crossing too many professional boundaries for a manager to attend a “rowdy weekend of drunken shenanigans” with two people who report to her. Presumably, Goat and Gruff are going to have to be on guard if she’s there, and it’s just not the weekend you planned. Ideally you’d do choice A — have Billy tell Gabby he didn’t think it through and since it’s going to be a rowdy weekend, he shouldn’t have invited two of the organizers’ boss. If you don’t trust him to do that without blaming Goat and Gruff (despite your explicit instructions), then you need to move to choice B — deliver that message yourself. Do not just hope she won’t attend or suffer in silence.

But really, Billy messed this up and he should fix it.

Read an update to this letter here.

2. My wife doesn’t believe me that cold-contacting people on LinkedIn is annoying

My wife has been on the job hunt a very long time (nearly two years). She is currently employed on contract as a scientist with a large pharma company. During this time, she has been interviewing constantly and has had a few offers made, but with our family and financial situation, none were palatable enough to accept (though she did attempt to negotiate, and in our opinion the concessions she had asked for were reasonable). At this point, she has started just spamming employees via LinkedIn in departments at institutions she wants to work at, asking about positions she has applied to or feedback on her CV.

She asked me about it and I gave her my opinion that (1) what she’s doing is kind of annoying; I know I would not appreciate being bombarded by some stranger, (2) I think she would have more success if the people she was reaching out to had stake in her success, and (3) I think she should try to go to networking events and do some heavy research on the networking process and figure out what other methods may lead her to her goal.

Was I incorrect in my assessment? I love my wife and want her to be happy and successful more than anything, but I think her approach is taking away her allure as a candidate, and the advice that I have given is not well received.

Yeah, cold-contacting people via LinkedIn is going to be annoying, especially with those particular questions, and it’s not likely to get any results. If she doesn’t believe you (or me), though, she’ll probably figure that out pretty quickly when she doesn’t get helpful responses.

If she’s had a few offers that weren’t financially right, it’s worth looking at whether her expectations are realistic for the market. Maybe they are, and these were just bad offers — but it’s possible they’re not.

If she’s getting lots of interviews, the problem isn’t her application materials. And if she’s getting to the offer stage repeatedly, it’s probably not her interview skills. So you may be exactly right that leaning more heavily into networking (good networking, not LinkedIn spamming) is what will help. But again, urge her to check her expectations against the reality of the market and make sure that’s not the issue.

3. Manager let me go but said he wants to create a new job for me

After two months of unemployment, I got hired to do freelance data wrangling at a major company by Dale, who saw my resume and said I had great potential. However, since I had never worked at such a large company before, it was on the condition that I would have a one-month trial period. I would be on a two-week trial first, then a two-week hold and if I did well during both those periods, I would be kept on until the end of the year. So I worked incredibly hard. I came in an hour early, stayed late, took shortened lunches, wrote detailed notes, asked tons of questions, and always offered to help out the rest of my team. But at the end of my third week, Dale called me into a private meeting and said that he didn’t realize how green I was and that the project I was put on was too intense for someone of my skill level so I was to be let go early.

However, he said that I had great potential and that he wanted to talk to his bosses about creating a position for me directly under him, but that it would take a while — “hopefully before the end of the season” — and I should take short-term positions until then. How much can I trust that this will happen? Should I ask Dale to get this in writing? Dale kept repeating that I wasn’t fired, but I feel like a deadbeat who can’t keep a job.

You shouldn’t rely on it at all. Dale isn’t saying it will definitely happen; he’s saying he’s going to try to convince his bosses to do it. So it wouldn’t make sense to ask him to put it in writing; he’s telling you clearly that he can’t commit to it.

Since it might or might not happen, you should proceed as if it isn’t — and let it be a pleasant surprise if it does happen (if the offer is one you want). That means that you should not only pursue short-term work meanwhile. You should pursue whatever type of work you want to pursue, not put your job search on hold for something he’s been up-front that he can’t guarantee. (Frankly, even if he did tell you he could promise it, I’d tell you the same thing — because until there’s a firm offer, stuff like this can always fall apart.)

4. Switching to a gender-neutral nickname at work

I am a nonbinary AFAB (assigned female at birth) person who is not out at my workplace. I present as female at work, including going by my very feminine wallet name (e.g., “Katherine”). I don’t mind it, but a few of my coworkers recently started calling me by a gender-neutral nickname — think “Katherine” to “KC.” It’s caught on with some of our user community, and I kind of love it!

Do you or your readers have any tips for encouraging people you’ve worked with for a while to start calling you by a new nickname, especially if you mostly interact with them through phone or text? I don’t think it’d be appropriate to completely change my email signature, since I’m still “Katherine” in all of our directories and official communications, but I’d really like if more people started calling me “KC.” (I work in IT at a fairly large university in the Midwest, if that helps.)

The easiest way is to start signing your emails with KC. If you don’t feel comfortable changing your official email signature, you can still do it like this:


Katherine Mulberry
Company info

And with emails to people you work with frequently, you can leave the official signature stuff off anyway. They know who you are! And if they’re confused, it sounds like the “from” field of your email will still say Katherine. But by signing KC, you’re signaling “this is what you can call me,” just like a Jennifer signing her emails with Jen or so forth.

And even though people don’t normally sign text messages, signing those KC for a while might help as well. You can also do the same thing on the phone — “hey, it’s KC” — to anyone who will recognize your voice and not be confused about who they’re talking to. And whenever you’re ready, start telling new people you meet, “Hi, I go by KC.”

5. Everyone wants to know why I don’t work for the department that ghosted me

I work in academia (let’s say the field of Teapot Studies) but not as a professor. I have been active in my field, working in Teapot Research, focused mostly on Handle Design. I was moving on from a job after a grant finished and I applied for a job at another university in the School of Teapot Studies within their Handle Design department. I got an initial Skype interview. Then two months later I was invited to an in person interview. Then I heard nothing for two more months, even after two (very well spaced) emails. A job opened up in Teapot Studies but in the Department of Lids, which I applied for, interviewed for, and was offered a job in less than two weeks. I took that job because I wasn’t soon going to be unemployed.

Now I’ve run into a problem. EVERYONE asks me why I am not in the Departments of Handle Design because of my background and I’m not sure what to say besides “They ghosted me after multiple interviews.” Additionally, I run into the people who interviewed me in that department at least once a week in meetings and they are either acting like they don’t know me or actually have forgotten me. It’s super awkward and my coworkers have pointed out how weird it is since “you have so much in common!” How do I navigate being in close contact with people who were so rude and other people’s questions about the situation?

To the people who ask why you’re not in the Handle Design department: “I actually talked to them about a role there, but this is where I ended up!” Say it cheerfully and matter-of-factly and people will likely move on.

To the Handle Design people who seem not to recognize you: Break the ice yourself. Go up to them confidently and say, “It’s good to see you again! I’m Jane Warblesworth — we talked a few months ago about the open role you had on your team. I’m working in the Lids department now.”

To people who comment that it’s weird that you’re not on closer terms with the other department because you have so much in common: “I’d like to get to know them better at some point, but I’m happy being here in Lids!”

That’s it! I think you’re feeling more awkward about it than you need to because of the ghosting, but you can leave that out of this completely. Just be matter-of-fact and it’ll be fine.

{ 415 comments… read them below }

  1. Aphrodite*

    OP #1, do you know WHY Billy invited Gabby? He knew she was Goat and Gruff’s boss and did it anyway? How do Goat and Gruff feel about this? Do they want to back out?

      1. Willis*

        And Gabby is too, if she knows Goat and Gruff are going on the trip. A decent manager should know not to fish for and/or accept an invitation to a vacation that includes her direct reports. Hopefully she realizes that when it’s pointed out.

        1. valentine*

          OP1, you’re in control here. Tell Gabby you can’t offer her a spot on the trip. (And have a plan in case Billy re-invites her and/or is possibly telling her all the details, like two people canceled.) But someone needs to sit Billy down and say invitations for Gabby are at Goat and Gruff’s expense.

          1. valentine*

            OP1, you’re in control here.
            Or (the four of you are cohosting and?) I misunderstood the part about your hostess self/Gabby asking you.

            1. sacados*

              It sounds like all of them are cohosting, but maybe (unofficially?) OP is in charge of most arrangements? Since Gabby asked OP “if there was room.”

              In which case, assuming Billy flakes out of his duties, I think the easiest thing is probably for OP to tell Gabby something like — oh Billy wasn’t fully aware of the rsvp list and it turns out we really won’t have enough beds for you to come… etc.

              1. Kaitlyn*

                I actually feel like having a quick apologetic convo around “you know, this is a let-loose kind of weekend, and G & G are going to find it tough to let loose in a big way if their boss is there. I hope you understand that we need to take you off the guest list, and can we all go for lunch together when we’re back? (Option to add: Give you the edited highlight reel?)”

                1. OP1*

                  I just really don’t want to lay it at G&G’s feet in a way where they might suffer any fallout, ya know? Ultimately it would *probably* be fine for Gabby to come along, but I, as hostess/planner/whatever can’t bring myself to put themselves in that position. It really doesn’t even matter how they feel about it. And it’s an annual trip, so it would be a pretty lousy precedent to set for future beach excursions. After this year there will *definitely* be an official NO BOSSES rule…

                2. Important Moi*

                  I don’t see the need to soft peddle this and couch it in a question.

                  “G&G can’t really relax if they’re supervisor is there. We can do something with Gabby when we get back. Vacationing with supervisors is a thing we will need to discuss going forward before adding them to the guest list.”

                  Bonus snark – “Can we invite your supervisor?”

                  Though I do wonder if this is an organization that is laid-back in a way that encourages people to invite “everybody” to “all” events. Not a criticism, just wondering…

                3. Kaitlyn*

                  I don’t think it’s putting it back on G+G, just pointing out a human-nature thing about workplace norms. Definitely play the empathy card! “I know you wouldn’t want your own boss there if you were planning a rowdy weekend with your peers, right?”

                4. ChimericalOne*

                  I mean, she’s already shown enough self-awareness to realize that it might be a problem for G&G. I can’t see her turning around and being outraged / upset at them if you came back and said, “Yeah, on second thought, we really don’t want to open the door to inviting bosses. Sorry!” She’ll most likely be relieved that you were open with her, especially if she was kinda worried that that was the case, anyway. (I mean, I’m sure she’ll be sad to miss the beach, of course, but relieved to not be the kind of burden where no one wants to tell you you’re being a burden!)

                  If she hadn’t seen any reason that it might be a problem, then yeah, she could be like, “How dare they uninvite me!” But if she’s already thinking, “Hmm, this might not be a good idea…” then you’ve got all the opening you need to say, “Sorry, we’ve decided it isn’t a good idea!” You’re just confirming what she already suspects.

                5. ChimericalOne*

                  Important Moi, I’m not sure who you’re imaging OP talking to, but I think Kaitlyn is imagining her addressing Gabby directly — in which case, yeah, you do want to soft-pedal it. (It doesn’t seem like you’re picturing the same thing, since your script refers to Gabby in the third person?)

                  Although I wouldn’t go so far as to say, “I’m sure you wouldn’t want your own boss invited!” because A. it could be read as condescending (esp. since Gabby already seems like she “gets” it, but is just being told (and believing) that she’s an exception right now) and B. what if she’s the kind of person who really *wouldn’t* care if her own boss was invited? (Either because her boss is super-chill or because she doesn’t have good boundaries or because she doesn’t really “cut loose” enough to be embarrassed about anything she’d do while vacationing?)

                  I think Kaitlyn’s initial script here is great & needs no addendums.

                6. Important Moi*

                  I just want to to reply to ChimericalOne (for some reason I can’t respond directly to the comment.”

                  1. Saying something directly is not equivalent to being upset or outraged.
                  2. The snark at the end takes into account that this is friends relationship. My friends and I communicate this way just fine. “Would you like it if it happened to you?” type questions are OK in friend relationships…YMMV :)

                7. LGC*

                  OP1 – my (gender neutral) dude, I’m sorry but there is literally no way you can guarantee that you can turn her down and she won’t put this at G&G’s feet. Emphasis on she won’t, because this is on her.

                  The solution, of course, is not to tolerate her presence because that is bonkers. I’m just saying that…I think you’d like to manage her feelings so that she has the “correct” response, and that’s just impossible to do. You could do everything perfectly and she still could react in a bad way.

                  Besides, even though she’s a boss, she is still being pretty inappropriate. Like, not gonna lie, I heard my employees talking about going to Fire Island a while back and I made a passing joke about wanting to join them. Once. And that might have been too much. I’m all on team Shut Her Down and also possibly giving Billy the least desirable bedroom when you do go on your beach trip.

                8. Important Moi*

                  Correction –

                  “Would you like it if it happened to you?” type questions are OK in MY friend relationships…YMMV :)

                9. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                  I think that script should be fine—I just think Billy needs to say it instead of putting Katie B. in this position.

                10. Busy*

                  I think you can take G&G out of this and still say the same thing.

                  Go with, “Actually we have a hard “no boss” rule for this trip – meaning no bosses of anyone who regularly attends can come. If in the future you are no longer any one of our bosses, we would love for you to come!”

                  Have Billy try to deliver that first. If he fails, then you will unfortunately have to be the one. And that so sucks. But G&G can’t be the ones here.

                11. ChimericalOne*

                  Important Moi – Yeah, I think we can’t hit “reply” once a thread gets a certain amount too deep. (It’s a shame, cuz it does make things confusing sometimes.)

                  My first comment, saying that Gabby is unlikely to be upset or outraged, was meant to be in response to OP’s reply to Kaitlyn, wherein she doesn’t want there to be “fallout.” I don’t think there’ll be fallout if Gabby already kinda suspects that it’s not a good idea for her to come. Most people won’t get mad at you for saying, “You’re right, that’s not a good idea.” (If you search for “OP1” on this page, you’ll find OP saying that Gabby has already expressed trepidation about going on a vacation where her direct reports will be.)

                  As far as the snark goes… I don’t think OP and Gabby are actually friends. Maybe Billy and Gabby are, but it sounds like OP is just an acquaintance to her. This also sounds like the kind of situation where snark would land very much the wrong way. It’d be different if Gabby was begging to come — in that case, sure, be flippant (“C’mon, really? Maybe we’ll invite your boss, too!”). But to be snarky about her coming AFTER she was explicitly invited (*and* after she questioned aloud whether she was really welcome), well… that’s just going to come across as mean. It’s going to sound like, “How dare you think you’d be welcome, just because we invited you and told you, no, it’s fine, yes, it’s really fine, we’d love to have you! How dumb of you to not see through that!” Ouch.

                12. AKchic*

                  It doesn’t have to fall back on G&G specifically.

                  “We have never invited supervisors on our getaway before. I know we are all friends, but this really is something that we do without any managers. I know you understand. It would be the same as if we invited your manager, or c-suite to the getaway.”

                  And really, Billy needs to be managed immediately. Billy needs to be remembering that just because Billy is friendly with Gabby, it doesn’t mean that Gabby can come to every friend event. There is a line. The management line. It divides Gabby from the rest of you simply because she is G&G’s direct supervisor. She may be a lovely person, but she does have to keep a level of professionalism and boundaries between all of you.

                13. willow*

                  Ooh, I would not tell their boss that they are gonna be rowdy and outta control and frat bro-ing around, or even imply that. The boss does not need to know what her direct reports will be doing. What happens at the beach house stays at the beach house.

                14. Yorick*

                  I would definitely not say anything that sounded like “we talked to Goat and Gruff and they’d prefer you didn’t come.” But that’s not the case! “I think it’d be weird for G&G” sounds pretty different.

              2. FuzzFrogs*

                I feel like Gabby might be asking OP in part because she’s making arrangements, but also because she’s at least somewhat aware of how weird it was for Billy to extend the invitation. It’s hard to say how much Billy told her about what’s going on, but she may be trying to confirm whether it’s appropriate for her to attend.

          2. Katie B.*

            OP #1 here! Fortunately, when I asked him about it, he realized that it might not have been the best idea, so I don’t think he’d actively undermine anything – the problem is that capacity really isn’t a problem since we already have a few people who will be staying in hotel rooms nearby instead of sharing the house, and I wouldn’t want Gabby to have the option of coming to the beach and just staying elsewhere. :-/

            1. Busy*

              Oh man, if Billy isn’t going to own-up and take responsibility here, you are going to have to have a hard conversation with her about subordinates and boundaries. And that sucks, because no matter how much Billy created this, she, as a manager, should know better than to accept. And I cannot see any other way of explaining to her WHY she cannot go. I mean you can (should) do it in the nicest way possible (Kaitlyn above has a good way), but seriously there is no way to put this monkey back in the bag. And that sucks! Argh Billy!!!!

              No way can you allow her to come, though! If I were one of those other two, this would make me question my friendship with Billy, if not you if you don’t handle it ( just to give that personal relationship side to it all).

              1. boo bot*

                I kind of think Gabby’s already opened the door for this conversation, unless I’m misunderstanding – Billy already invited her, so if she’s asking the OP whether there’s room, I feel like (a) that’s probably a tacit request for guidance on whether she should be coming at all, and (b) even if it’s not, it raises the possibility that maybe she can’t go.

                You don’t have to limit your response to answering the question about whether there’s room – I think you can say something along the lines of, “there’s room, but I’m a little worried about the position that having you there is going to put G&G in – I don’t want them to feel like they need to be in professional mode, and I know that’s how I would feel with my boss there.”

                Again, Billy should do this, but it does seem like she gave you the opening.

                1. Busy*

                  Yeah. And I mean wouldn’t even leave it that open. I would give her a pretty solid, but polite, no.

                2. That Girl From Quinn's House*

                  Yes, this. I think Gabby is hesitant to come, but she doesn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, either. I think she is aware that coming to the party is inappropriate, but also knows how some people get upset about turned down invitations, (ex: Can you believe her, she thinks she’s too good for us, can’t be bothered to even stop in and say hi!) and is trying to guard against that as well.

                3. boo bot*

                  Ha, sorry – my suggested script was meant to be followed by, “So please don’t come,” if needed, and I should have said so!

                  I saw Gabby as looking to have the conversation anyway, so I think it’s kind to offer her the opportunity to be the one to say, “I think it’s best if I sit this one out,” but if she says, “Oh, don’t worry! I’m a FUN boss!” then Katie B. needs to clearly shut it down, 100%.

                4. tangerineRose*

                  “I don’t want them to feel like they need to be in professional mode, and I know that’s how I would feel with my boss there.” That’s a great way to put it!

            2. ChimericalOne*

              Billy just needs to go back and say, “Sorry! I’m so embarrassed, but I have to take back that invitation — Goat and Gruff are going to be there, and it’s really not ‘that kind’ of trip, apparently!” — the implication being, “I’m sure you understand that there are certain kinds of extracurricular activities that you can’t be doing with your subordinates.”

              With stuff like this, you usually don’t need to be explicit. You just need to wave your hand at the reason and social pressures will usually cause the other person to not question or object. (When the implication is, “We all know how it is!,” you just make yourself look obtuse or socially blockheaded if you go, “Uh, how WHAT is??” … so people usually don’t. However, if she does, the follow up is, “Well, we’re going to be doing stuff that Goat and Gruff aren’t comfortable doing around their boss… and since they were invited first [or, “since they’re the ones planning this”], we have to accommodate them. But let’s plan dinner & drinks when we get back!” (or whatever you think you could reasonably do).

              Generally, you should avoid coming up with a “practical” reason that the other person can’t come, because you make it a “maybe we can solve this” kind of a situation when it’s not, and trust me, the other person is going to try to solve it! (Esp. when the beach is at stake!) It’s also worse to lie to someone and then have them find out it was a lie — it’s more hurtful to be both excluded and lied to about it than it is to just be excluded. If she’s a reasonable person, she’ll understand. She’ll be sad to be excluded, but she’ll understand.

            3. 202Lawyer*

              Feels like this might be the perfect situation for a white lie that makes it easy for everyone to bow out gracefully. I’d say to Gabby, “I’m so sorry but when Billy invited you, he didn’t realize that the house beds are all spoken for!” Even though that’s not true, it gives all of you-including Gabby-the chance to get out of this awkward situation; don’t mention anything about other friends staying at hotels or the availability of hotels nearby. After the glow of the initial invite wore off, Gabby may actually have realized that it would be inappropriate for her to join but still feels awkward declining because she has socialized with this group in the past–a white lie may give the gift of a graceful out to all involved.

            4. Blue Horizon*

              You are the organizer so that gives you some standing here. I think the trick is to establish some rules and enforce them without inserting yourself into their business relationship or expressing opinions on it.

              For example: “It seems like Billy and I had a bit of a miscommunication. I have a rule about not inviting people to these events if it could have business implications, like clients or managers for example. Obviously you and Billy have a great working relationship and you’ve been to this type of event together before, so I guess he figured it would be OK. I don’t really want to get into the position of evaluating people’s working relationships, though, so I find it best just to have a blanket rule for everyone to keep things simple. Sorry for the misunderstanding! Looking forward to seeing you at [next work-appropriate gathering].”

              The issue is that if Billy and Gabby have already played (ahem) boundary-pushing card games together then appealing to Gabby’s sense of professional boundaries is unlikely to work. Telling her what her professional boundaries SHOULD be is (a) running the risk of triggering a defensive reaction and harming your relationship and (b) arguably not your business anyway. So focus on how you want things to be and what’s in your control, avoid blaming it on anyone, and use code phrases to avoid giving offense or impinging on things that aren’t your business (“great working relationship” for “weird boundary crossing”).

              If Billy later says to Gabby “that’s BS, there was never any no bosses rule” then your response is: there was in your head, you just never made it explicit because there were never any bosses invited up until now. If you like you can do a mea culpa for not being clear about it while remaining firm on the rule.

              1. Blue Horizon*

                I should add that I don’t disagree with Alison and if Billy is able to deliver this message then that would be preferable. But if he can’t or won’t for some reason, or if you don’t trust him to do it without offending somebody, then it’s fine to do this yourself.

        2. Lily Rowan*

          Yeah, the manager should decide on her own not to go. But I know from experience that can be a hard thing to internalize when you could/would be friends with people otherwise.

          1. Southern Yankee*

            If Gabby is in the same age bracket, she is likely a newish manager. Finding the line between “friendly” and “friends” as a new manager can be hard, including even understanding there should be a line. Gabby needs to figure this out sooner rather than later, and OP1, you could be doing her a significant favor by helping her realize this now. I agree Billy should be the one to retract the invitation, but if he won’t, then maybe framing it as helping Gabby will make it easier for you.

        3. TootsNYC*

          I wonder if she’s fishing for a no, actually, or for permission.

          I think she knows it would be awkward, and I think the OP should have no qualms about saying, “It’s best if you don’t come–two of the people organizing this trip are your direct reports, and it’s unfair to them to add you to the mix; they won’t be able to relax and enjoy themselves.”

          If she can make Billy do it, OK, that’s probably better (she can do this without consulting the other two, so there’s no “blaming” of them), but she can totally feel OK to do it.

          And yeah, Gabby knows it’s a bad idea.

          1. learnedthehardway*

            Given that Gabby asked if there was room, I think it would be pretty easy to say, “OMG, Billy shouldn’t have done that. We’re already overbooked as it is! People are going to be sleeping 3 to a bed at this rate.”

            That makes it sound really uncomfortable, without bringing Goat or Gruff into it.

        4. Micklak*

          I feel like there is another, less awkward option. Tell Gabby that it was nice of Billy to mention the trip but that it might not be a great idea given the dynamics and give her the opportunity to back out. It won’t take a genius to figure it out. I wouldn’t leave it to Billy since evidence would point to him being an idiot.

        5. Monica*

          I think Gabby’s getting a hard time here. Sounds like she knows it might be inappropriate, seeing as how she’s feeling out a third party to double check if it’s really okay for her to come. Actually Gabby’s been put in a difficult position, and likely doesn’t want to come.

          The OP just needs to say “yeah not sure we have room, sorry” and probably Gabby will be happy to back off.

          1. Kendra*

            Yeah, everyone keeps mentioning that it would be difficult for G&G to relax with their boss their, but honestly, is Gabby going to be able to, either? There’s no way on Earth I’d ever feel okay about letting go and actually relaxing if any of my reports were within cell phone range of me, much less actually staying in the same house!

            I’m guessing that she thought about it a little more, realized this, and now is fishing for an excuse to back out without seeming ungracious or antisocial.

      2. MassMatt*

        Tell Billy to fix his mistake, pronto, or you will invite HIS boss. And parents. And clergyman. And grade school English teacher.

    1. Ack02554*

      Out of curiosity I wonder what the male to female ratio of this trip is without Gabby? I got the impression this seemed more like a guy’s weekend. As a female with 4 guys I’d want at least as many girls. And even still I’m running through a whole bunch of safety risks.

      1. Ellen*

        Sounds like a case of schrodinger’s rapier, unfortunately. (You cant REALLY tell if a man is a rapist or not until you open that box, and lots of women would rather not risk it at all.)

      2. Left, Right, Out.*

        There are all kinds/levels of friendship, and women are much more likely to be assaulted by someone they know casually or a friend-of-a-friend level. There have definitely been times in my life when I did not want to be the only woman in a group of males – and not because I distrusted any of them personally, but because I didn’t know a lot of them and because of statistics.

        1. OP1*

          Again – not a factor here. It’s a large very mixed group of both men and women, and most of us are bringing significant others.

        1. Harper the Other One*

          I don’t know, it happened at a happy hour, and plenty of people get friendly to the world when they have a bit to drink! I’d put my money more on “aw, we’re all having so much fun! You should come to our weekend thing too!”

          1. londonedit*

            I was definitely imagining a slightly ill-advised ‘Hey! We’re planning this beach weekend, you should TOTALLY come!’ comment rather than there being any nefarious intent behind it.

          2. Alfonzo Mango*

            Yes, this is exactly how I imagined it. Once everyone is a beer in at happy hour and they’re all friendly anyway, it seems like a great idea. Until you sober up and realize it’s not appropriate.

            This situation has the potential to blow over and be a complete non-issue, assuming Gabby is just cool and understanding.

          3. General Ginger*

            This is what I was thinking. “Happy hour is awesome, you know what else would be awesome, you coming to the weekend thing, too.” Billy needs to fix this.

        2. Katie B.*

          OP #1 here – They’re both spoken for already, and gender balance on the trip isn’t an issue. this was definitely a “You should TOTALLY come!” kind of thing. Billy’s a really generous guy who likes to involve people.

        3. Dust Bunny*

          Not necessarily. My supervisor and I get along well and have a lot of interests in common outside of work. I can absolutely imagine being tempted to invite him to things.

          1. OP1*

            I’ve had many bosses that I’ve invited to various things, but definitely not to weekend-long road trips with many drunken hijinks. :-) I’ve never had a boss that I would want to witness my swimsuit-clad drunkenness or the resulting hangover.

          1. Ico*

            Does the OP’s response above that it is definitely not “this” change your mind? People here really need to stop assuming the worst and then stating as fact.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      I think his brain just went “Gabby is fun! Beach is fun! I should invite Gabby!” and then the words were out of his mouth and it’s generally rude to rescind invitations. (Though I agree with Alison, the correct call here.)

      I think Gabby is asking OP because Billy won’t want to say “yeah, I screwed up by inviting you” and her subordinates Goat and Gruff won’t, either, so she views OP as the person most likely to give her a straight answer here. Which I would advise OP to do. I agree with Alison that it’s rightly Billy’s job, but I think OP is the person with the most social cushioning to say “You’re right; I’m so sorry, but it would be really awkward with a boss there. Thanks for being so understanding.” Ideally Gabby would realize it herself–but we could have a case of social awkwardness where she has in the past talked herself out of attending things people actually did want her at, so she’s trying to check her assumptions with OP. Do her the favor of a straight answer couched in regrets.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I agree with this. It is a favor. She might have accepted in the same spirit Billy made the invitation (argh, Billy)–that is, spontaneously, without really thinking about it, and is hesitant about it now. Give her a way out!

      2. TootsNYC*

        I agree. I think Gabby is looking for permission (I think she’d like to go, but she knows (1) that she wasn’t directly invited by the actual hotess; and (2) that it might be awkward if her direct reports are going).

        This is the opening, and she is deliberately giving it to you.

    3. Katie B.*

      Aphrodite, he’s an incredibly friendly, sociable guy, and I’m pretty sure he was just thinking “invite friend!” rather than “Invite Goat & Gruff’s boss!” Goat & Gruff wouldn’t back out, but they (understandably) have some reservations. One of them joked about wearing business casual all weekend if Gabby decided to come along. :-/

      1. Ginger*

        I wonder if Gabby approaching you directly OP meant that she had some back-of-the-mind reservations. Ideally she would have turned down the first invite but since she hasn’t, if Billy won’t take care of it, then you’ll need to say, sorry we’re totally booked. And then follow up with a conciliatory, hey let’s grab drinks next Thursday type thing maybe? So it’s not like “we don’t like you” thing?

        Really Gabby should know better though and her coming is NOT an option.

        1. L.S. Cooper*

          This was my thought as well. It seems like Gabby is aware there might be some weirdness if she does come, but doesn’t want to turn down the invite and seem stuffy/impolite/whatever else, so she asked OP#1 about it.

        2. TootsNYC*

          I think you can actually say, “Two of the people organizing the trip report to you, and I don’t think it’s fair to put them in that awkward position. I know they like you, but it would have to be awkward for them. It would be for anyone, and given that they’re the planners, it’s not something I’m comfortable with.”

          Drag this out into the sunshine. It’s not shameful–and it might be the explicit naming that people need to hear.

      2. Boom! Tetris for Jeff!*

        Could you respond to Gabby saying “I have to apologize here. Billy invited you without realizing that this trip has ‘no bosses rule’. I’m sure you understand! Sorry for the misunderstanding. Cheers, OP#1.”
        It would help then if Billy also touch based with Gabby saying about the same thing since he’s the one that extended the invitation in the first place.
        I feel like if it’s handled as a matter of fact, it would make it much less awkward for everyone involved.

        1. TootsNYC*

          I do like the “no bosses” rule–it points to the problem without making it be about any specific person.

          1. OP1*

            I think a No Bosses Rule will definitely be in effect from here on out – it’ll make this kind of thing a lot easier to have that pre-established.

      3. MommyMD*

        Just say “I’m so sorry about the mix up invite. I don’t want to put anyone in management in an awkward position at a raunchy beach house party. Thanks for understanding.”

        If she resists you’re going to have to straight up say she can’t come.

    4. Decima Dewey*

      I’d say that, going forward, everyone has to check with the rest of the group before issuing any invitations.

      1. OP1*

        We’re a group of 14+, and only the four of us work together, so there isn’t really a problem outside of our little group. That’s also a lot of people to check with before inviting anyone, and we’ve made a point of encouraging everyone to bring friends… I guess it was just implicit that “bring friends” probably shouldn’t include anyone else’s boss. Boo. -_-

    5. golfer.gal*

      For the first letter, could you approach Gabby as if you’ve just realized it was a mistake/faux pas to invite her, in a lighthearted tone that implies OF COURSE she knew the same thing? Something along the lines of “Oh Gabby, I didn’t realize what an awkward position we put you, G, and G in for this beach weekend with you being their boss. I’m so sorry about that! Of course it would be super awkward to go on vacation with your direct reports, not to mention it could lead to issues with *names of Gabby’s other reports* thinking there is favoritism, and we didn’t think that through. I’m sure you have been trying to handle this gracefully and I’m sorry we put you in that position.” Ideally Gabby would have shut this down from the very beginning, but she didn’t. And if you say it in an apologetic/lighthearted tone that makes it sound like the mistake was made by the vague “we” who invited her, it gives her a graceful out

  2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#2, she may not like hearing it, and you may not be able to tell her more than once, but what she’s doing is incredibly self-sabotaging. At worst, she’s being obnoxious in a sort of desperate way that is not at all strategic. At worst, she’ll annoy or alienate people enough that if she does apply, it will leave them with a negative impression.

    It makes no sense to inbox relatively random people for generalized CV feedback or input on an active or prospective candidacy. Either they’re truly random folks, in which case feedback is inherently limited, or they’re involved in hiring for the position she applied for, which makes it likely that they can’t review her materials or provide advice outside of the formal hiring process.

    And I bet this is becoming a huge time suck, which means she’s investing a lot of time in a fruitless, mon-strategic, spammy strategy instead of investing in an approach with a better ROI.

    I know you probably can’t convince her otherwise, but your advice is bang on.

    1. Aphrodite*

      I agree. Can you direct your wife to AAM’s archives and books? Maybe she needs a killer cover letter or resume, or some great interview techniques. Even if she doesn’t, she can always be better. Instead of spending her time on LinkedIn and sending spammy emails, she can use that same time to read this column.

      1. valentine*

        what she’s doing is incredibly self-sabotaging.
        Should she apologize for the spamming or cut her losses?

          1. ChimericalOne*

            I think those 2 sentences were meant to be read in isolation from each other. Still gross, but not *quite* as jaw-droppingly bad.

            Fergus is trying to be funny with the first sentence (and is, I agree, just being sexist instead). With the second, I think he’s trying to say that he’s getting a lot of friend requests from overseas, so he’s even more inclined to disregard than he would be if they were at least local randos (people he might conceivably bump into in his own network someday).

            Principle of charity says the above, at least. Could be just racist, though — who knows!

            1. ummm*

              Having caught on this earlier I concluded the statements were independent. Mostly because the idea that someone is getting LinkedIn requests from the wrong kind of naked people was almost comical enough to get me over my distaste.

              Even if your charitable reading is correct Fergus jumped to this specific example = racist.

              We could debate the merits of whether it is better to be separately sexist and racist than both rolled together but really…

              1. ChimericalOne*

                Yes, if read together, absolutely comical. I can just picture 25-year-old naked Indian women trying to friend Fergus and Fergus being appalled because they’re Indian… (yeah, that’s going to be a no).

                Definitely not trying to defend here, just clarifying for Femme d’Afrique — since it seemed like they maybe really did picture the above! (I’m Aspie, so I’m sorry to Femme if I misread them or am taking them too literally…)

              2. ChimericalOne*

                (25-year-old naked Indian women trying to friend Fergus *on LinkedIn,* no less)

            2. Femme d'Afrique*

              Yeah, I, uh, am failing mightily at seeing the “absolutely comical” aspect but ok.

              It’s derailing for sure (and probably what “Fergus” was going for in the first place), so I guess I’ll just leave it here.

          2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            My thought was something along the lines of “Way to demonstrate the classic behavior of a Fergus without even pretending otherwise.” Ugh.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          The apology will just land as more spam. Time to disappear gracefully into the ether.

        2. LaurenB*

          If the initial spam email is unwelcome, what makes you think an apology email would be welcome? If I ignore you on LinkedIn and you keep sending me messages, I’m going to block you and possibly even report you (if LI has such s function). Dumb idea. Cut your losses and disappear.

          1. TacocatRVA*

            I don’t think “dumb idea” is okay to say. Someone had a question related to the topic posted today, and asked it. If people feel they can’t ask questions for fear they might be labeled “dumb” (or whatever else), there are very few questions left to be asked.

            I do agree with the overall response, though, which is not to apologize, and simply move on.

        3. Samwise*

          Don’t apologize — that’s just one more email the recipient will be annoyed to open up. Let it pass and they will probably forget about it.

    2. Jasnah*

      Plus asking for general resume feedback or input on a candidacy is not offering anything of value to these random people, it’s just begging for help. Usually you can’t ask favors from people you don’t know. If she insists on contacting strangers then it would be more appealing to approach it as, “I want to work where you are, can I buy you a coffee or email you some questions about average salaries, expected skills, possible career paths in the field, etc.?”

      I’d be much more likely to take pity on a stranger who had their $#!t together and acknowledged the imposition than someone who took the path of least effort for THEM, like “halp me pls thx bye”.

    3. Antilles*

      Let me describe what this is like from someone on the other end, someone whose title (Teapot Manager) implies hiring power.
      1.) I get at least one of these cold-call messages every single week, at least. To you, your job search is the most important thing in the world…to me, it’s a Tuesday. Given the volume of these I get, you’re getting a cursory skimming (and no response) at best, if I don’t just ignore it entirely.
      2.) I often get requests for something I have no actual control over. Both from the standpoint of “uh, I’m in Lid Design not Spout Design; not the same thing” and even within my department, I have my own bosses too; my word is closer to “veto power” than “law”. This means that your message is totally useless and also makes my roll my eyes.
      3.) Hiring is a part of my job, not my entire job. HR has its’ own processes I’m required to follow to help ward off any sort of perceived unfairness. I also have my own separate processes to help manage my time and make the process less of a burden on me. Don’t circumvent my processes. Goes double if the “institutions” she applies to are academia/university related.
      4.) In my experience, this sort of scattershot approach is near-universally used by people whose resumes don’t stand on their own. So mentally, the instant I open your message, my mind immediately links you with weaker candidates. Not a good thing.
      Note: This all assumes that we’re talking about the scattershot cold-calling approach. The answer is totally different if I already know you – even via a fairly weak tie like “we met a couple times at the monthly Teapot Designers of Charlotte meetings”.

    4. 8DaysAWeek*

      Yes. It is extremely self-sabotaging. I work in Pharma and have ZERO hiring power and I am very turned off when:
      1) people reach out via LinkedIn that I don’t know and
      2) when we are hiring in my group and people internally I don’t know reach out. I am not a hiring manager and it is clearly stated in our postings who is. I can’t put in good words for people I don’t know.

      In most of the world and especially in Pharma, companies have official processes for posting and hiring for jobs. Even if you are the best candidate that ever walked the earth, if there is not a posting you are not getting a job. In fact, my boss will often toss resumes of people who do things like this even after going through the proper channels.

      Follow the rules! We do read the resumes. We also want to find the best candidate!

    5. Heidi*

      I agree the approach is bad, but she seems really stressed out and people who are stressed out don’t always do smart things. Asking a stranger to review your CV (especially an academic CV which can be enormous) is putting a lot of work on them. It’s not a reasonable ask. That being said, OP might want to let this go, despite being right. He gave his opinion, and it was not well received. I interpret that as meaning that the wife is not in a mental place where she is open to being told that she’s failing at yet another thing. Telling her at this point that all the strangers on the internet think that OP is right and wife is wrong would probably not change her attitude, but it might damage their relationship.

      1. MassMatt*

        I agree, job hunting can be extremely stressful, and the longer it goes on the more hits your self-esteem takes. It is hard to stay positive and motivated to do the tough work of networking, and the comparably easier task of spamming LinkedIn (or resumes!) seems appealing because it’s lower risk. That it’s counterproductive is hard to see while in that situation and a difficult message to hear.

        OP please try to remain supportive and understanding as you help her.

    6. Zennish*

      She does not want to be the candidate that, when mentioned by the HR person, has a department head saying “I know that name, she’s been bugging the heck out of half my department on LinkedIn…”

    7. Five after Midnight*

      “… but with our family and financial situation, none were palatable enough to accept (though she did attempt to negotiate, and in our opinion the concessions she had asked for were reasonable)
      Not going to speculate on what the financial situation is, but I don’t see how that’s relevant to the offer. You wouldn’t want your employer to pay you less because you’re frugal or single and not spending your entire salary every month, so why should your financial situation have any bearing on the size and conditions of the offer. I am wondering if that’s really what the problem is: OP’s expectations are based on his situation rather than on the market.

      1. steve*

        I think this person means, that the offers were either for less money than the person is currently making or maybe it was longer commute and they would have to spend more money to get there etc, which would make the financial situation relevant.

      2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

        This bit actually raised a red flag for me. What kind of concessions are we talking about? If it’s asking to shift to earlier hours (like 8-4) so you can get the kids from day care that’s one thing. But from the letters we’ve had here over the years I am imagining all kinds of inappropriate things, especially for a new employee. I feel for the OP’s wife, because job hunting is demoralizing and frustrating and leads you to do desperate things sometimes. But I also think you need to really take an honest look at the kids of things you are expecting or requesting.

      3. JayNay*

        that part stood out to me as well, for a different reason: OP, you talk about the both of you as one unit (“in our opinion”), when it’s really about HER job.
        Is it possible you’re too invested in this? Your wife is a grown woman, she’s capable and competent. I want to gently suggest that you step back from her job search a bit. Make a goal not to ask her about it for two weeks. Let her breathe. She seems to be getting anxious about it, so reminding her what good steps she’s already taken and that you believe in her could be more helpful than stressing out about everything she does.

    8. Paisana*

      I meant to post here rather than below, but i think it bears repeating here. I work at an asset manager. We have hired junior analysts on the basis of cold contacts from LinkedIn. They did not alienate us, obviously. YMMV of course. But I take the view “nothing ventured, nothing gained.”

  3. ThinMint*

    OP#3, not part of your question but I would caution against arriving early, staying late, and taking shortened lunches as a practice. Unless the work necessitates it, arrive on time and take the lunch you

    1. ThinMint*

      Ugh, I hit submit on my phone too soon.

      Take the lunch you are due. A good employer will appreciate your enthusiasm for the job and initiative based on the other habits you mentioned.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Yes! It’s one thing to show you’re willing to put in extra time when the work requires it, but a good job won’t expect you to arrive early/stay late as your default, even when you’re in your “proving” time.

      1. Zaphod Beeblebrox*

        So, those jobs where I’ve been told that I need to work long hours to show that I’m committed to the job?

        1. Jasnah*

          …are not good jobs?

          Or at least they’re jobs that value your presence more than your output. What you think about that is up to you.

        2. FuzzyIce*

          Had better be willing to pay you big bucks in exchange, to show you that they’re committed to you. Otherwise what, exactly, is the reason to be committed to a job that just wants you to give, give, give without ever getting back?

          I worked those jobs. I made those mistakes. And my health is currently fucked up because I ignored my own needs trying to prove that I AM TOTALLY THE RIGHT FIT FOR THIS JOB which, btw, I did love to pieces? But my boss was a terrible, terrible boss, and I should have run away years ago. By the time I did get out I was so burned out, both physically and mentally, that I had to leave the industry altogether instead – which meant not just leaving something I loved doing, but also taking a pretty substantial paycut (I mean, worth it, because my new bosses are sane and respect my time, but still – definitely hurts the bottom line at home, AND makes it harder/impossible to properly treat those health issues I mentioned AND seriously cramps my career path!) So as soon as LW started talking about how they wanted to ‘prove’ themselves by doing those things my brain was screaming “STOOOOOOOOOOP NOOOOOOOOOOW BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE!!!” Hell, I’d even be suspicious of this boss that wants LW to work under them, if that boss knows what the LW was doing. A good boss is NOT going to be okay with that. A bad boss is going to take advantage of it. Also by “if the boss knows what the LW was doing” I would like to point out that even if they didn’t, I’m still suspicious of a boss who just happens to “not notice” employees overworking themselves. Best case scenario is that they’re not very observant of behavior that SHOULD be on their radar, and if so, they’re likely to miss other things that could be bad for you as well. Safety regulations… employee relations… etc.

        3. FairPayFullBenefits*

          Yeah, I agree that it shouldn’t be expected and isn’t a good practice. But the reality in my experience has been that people who come early/stay late are very much seen as more committed.

          1. Mel*

            I’ve definitely seen that too, but in my experience, it doesn’t matter as long as I do good work and am pleasant to work with.

          2. Marmaduke*

            In my *best* job, and best/most productive workplace, my boss made it 100% clear that a truly committed employee comes early and stays late when asked, but that unless she asked for extra time, we needed to get our butts out the door on time most days and keep ourselves from burnout. On one hand, we were working with a vulnerable population and needed to avoid compassion fatigue, but on the other hand, I don’t know many people who can produce high-quality work if they aren’t taking care of their physical and mental health.

          3. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Eh, someone who is doing that from day one when it’s not the culture there is going to look like they don’t understand what that workplace values. And if their work isn’t stellar, they’re going to look like they’re really struggling.

          4. Elise*

            I think that’s dependent on the workplace. Here, there are some who stay late (and are sure to mention it if they do), but it’s not the norm. And if I had a staff member who did that a lot, we’d be talking about why they need to work so much to get their job done and if there is something we need to shift to someone else. Also in my experience, these are oftentimes people who spend a lot of time procrastinating their work by chatting with coworkers and then have to stay late and hustle to get their work done. I’m not referring to the odd late evening when you’re finishing up a project. There are some who seem to always need to stay late and think it means they are better workers than their coworkers.

          5. fhqwhgads*

            I actually wouldn’t be surprised if in the letter writer’s case it may have contributed to the “you’re way too green for this” impression. Some orgs values “presence=committment” but in plenty of situations, this behavior is going to look like the employee is incapable of getting the work done without doing this, which makes them seem inefficient and not good at this.

        4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Have bad cultures, I say as someone in said kind of profession :)

          Whenever possible, I think it’s important to push back on these norms.

        5. Zennish*

          It’s often code for “We’d really like you to intimidate you into working more than we’re actually paying you for”.

        6. Less Calculated*

          Even in the “proving” period, I would only work long hours if the work itself necessitates long hours. Just don’t leave early, don’t be lazy, and demonstrate a willing and enthusiastic attitude. People will recognize that.

          Also, when people realize you are willing to work unnecessarily long hours and put your personal life on hold, they’re more likely to take advantage of that in the future.

          1. boo bot*

            This. Places that need you to prove your commitment with long hours are rarely places that eventually say “Okay! You proved it! You’re good to cut back to 40 hours a week with generous paid leave from now on!”

    3. Turnip-face*

      This stood out to me as well. Also, while it’s normal that in a new job there’s a lot to get to grips with, especially if you’re immediately starting to work on projects, putting in a lot of extra time could be interpreted as “can’t manage their workload”, rather than “super-dedicated employee”.

      1. NoMoreFirstTimeCommenter*

        The asking questions thing too. I know because I ask a lot of questions,and sometimes get in trouble because of it. I ask because I want to understand things thoroughly, be sure I do my work correctly, and because my brain jumps so fast to different possibilities and what-about-this scenarios. But in some places, the questions can be seen as learning and understanding nothing, being too questioning and not accepting the way things are (even though I’m happy to comply but I want to be sure I got everything right) or simply being annoying and taking too much other people’s time. It’s so easy to misinterpret things, and during trial periods it can be easier to fire than to discuss, which is sad.

        I live in a country where firing people requires good reasons, but in our legal system we have the possibility of a trial period. During the trial it’s possible to fire for any reason (as long as it’s not discrimination) and to quit without notice. Practically every job includes this trial period and it’s seen to be in the best interest of both parties. It’s so normal that people don’t see it as a big deal and definitely not a reason to work extra long hours, for example. I don’t really see the point of a trial period in a country where you can fire or quit as you want anyway, so maybe the boss or someone in the company has background in a country where trial periods are common, and thought about it differently.

        1. AcademiaNut*

          The questions thing can be complex. You can have someone who is asking relevant questions, understanding the answers, mastering the material and moving on to the next stage. This is great, and much better than someone who is too scared or arrogant to ask questions. But you can also have someone who is asking irrelevant questions that indicate they aren’t following what’s going on, or is asking questions that are relevant, but at such a basic level that it’s clear they’re totally over their head. And it is good to pay attention to how and when you’re asking questions, so you aren’t interfering with other people’s work.

          Overall, though, in a situation like the OP’s I would err on the side of asking the questions, even if it results in the trial not working out. It’s better to figure out if they’re in over their heads quickly, rather than faking it and having it blow up later.

          In the US, formal trial periods aren’t common because, as you say, you can be fired at any time for almost any reason. But in this case I see the logic – a reasonable employer hires you with the intention of keeping you as an employee, and being fired a month into a new job is pretty unusual, and usually means things went badly wrong. For this case, it really was a trial, as the employer wasn’t sure the OP could do the job, but was willing to give them a chance, so it was unpleasant but not a complete shock when it didn’t work out.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            How many questions to ask is an interesting puzzle.

            I have been thinking recently about ask v guess culture, and concluded that no matter how committed to “ask” you might be as a theory, someone out there knows how to reduce you to a puddle of “Read a room! Stop asking questions!”

            1. Jam Tomorrow*

              Well, you do need to be able to differentiate between (for example) relevant clarifying questions and implying everyone is stupid for not doing things another way.

              1. Falling Diphthong*

                There are also questions you should know the answer to. (And every once in a while the person answering questions will stumble to “Wait, did no one give you Document B, and that’s why you don’t know any of the information in Document B?”) Questions that will be answered if you let the person get through the presentation. Questions better tackled later in a one-on-one than during this meeting. Questions that would take an hour to address the full background and there are another 10 minutes before I need to leave, so you need to slash your questions down to the important ones…

                1. Elise*

                  A thousand times yes. I have one direct report who cannot distinguish any of these things when in meetings. We are working on it, but I definitely have to exercise my patience a lot with that one. “Remember how we discussed sticking to the topic at hand when asking questions in meetings? Remember when I asked you not to sidetrack a room full of people for something you should already understand?”

          2. Michaela Westen*

            I’m in the US and most of the companies I’ve worked for have a process in which the first 3 months (usually) is considered a trial and the employee can be fired without a process.
            After 3 months, most companies have a process that requires written warnings and opportunities to improve before they can fire someone. The documentation allows for immediate firing if the employee does something egregious like stealing or physical violence, but otherwise the company has to follow it’s process. If it doesn’t, an employee can sue.
            It’s not illegal for a company to not have a process and fire people willy-nilly, but it’s a bad practice that will prevent their company from thriving and could bring them down. They will soon get a reputation and the best employees won’t work there.

        2. Lemmy Caution*

          I was thinking the ”trial period” is some legal shenanigans they don’t need to give any benefits and can pay a lower wage? And once you ”get the job” you’re then getting the ”whole package”?

          Yeah, and I probably come from the same country as that is ”how stuff works” in my head. Well, I lived in a country a 3 months trial was a ”standard”, but now I live in a country it is 4, even up to 6 months. Some small dodgy companies exploit this so that they promise and promise and at that 6 months fire the person and hire a new hopeful for a 6 month ”trial”. Basically as you need a ”reason” for making people redundant which requires a whole lot of legal process it is an easy way to have floor staff. They’re too cheap to use agency workers even. In my native country it was college students on mandatory internship or the long-term unemployeds that got rotated like this.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Possibly, but it can also just be a way of being clear that they’re not offering a permanent job and it’s genuinely a trial to see how it goes (which turned out to be a good decision in this case, and which isn’t unreasonable to do with someone who’s been freelancing — it would, of course, be unreasonable to offer to someone who’d be leaving a regular job for it).

            1. OP3*

              Hi! Thank you for publishing my question!
              I didn’t realize the arriving early thing would come off as off-putting- I was encouraged to arrive that early by my parents. As for staying late and taking shortened lunches, that was my attempt to fit into office culture, I was told lunches were officially 1 hr but people varied between 30min-hr depending on work so I took the half hr option. I stayed late because projects were still being wrapped up and other team members were still working, and I didn’t want to leave before being dismissed.
              I think a lot of my frustration comes from the fact that Dale said I was making good progress and that my main issue was that I needed training specific to their company. My last full time position used completely different technical methods and even different vocabulary to describe the same processes; if I asked my old boss clarifying technical questions I was told to look it up myself (and then yelled at for making mistakes.) I was excited to actually get training here and was trying to ask as many questions as possible to make sure I wasn’t confusing members of my team. Really my biggest problem was that I was too slow, I would meticulously QC everything and would confirm email contents before I sent them out, which is something my last boss would make me do so I thought volunteering it to my new supervisor would show responsibility. Am I making myself seem too dependent?

              1. Just stoppin' by to chat*

                Hopefully Allison will respond to this as well, but sounds like that previous job was toxic, and you picked up some unhealthy behaviors due to that toxic boss. Typically, a manager expects their directs to be able to run their part of the business. I.e. not running every email by your manager before sending it out.

                I’m confident that you will eventually be one confident in your own abilities, and build that trust in yourself that you’re doing the right thing at work (and if not, then you’ll learn from your mistakes!)

                Definitely reframe your current internal dialogue of being a deadbeat. You learned some not ideal behaviors due to a toxic work environment, and now you are aware, and can start unlearning them. You got this!

              2. Jane Plough*

                On your last question – possibly. Every workplace is different and it’s extremely common to go from an environment where you’re micromanaged into a more trusting one and come across as though you need too much handholding. For stuff like this (e.g. ‘check all email content with supervisor before sending’) it’s a good idea to check with your new supervisor first what they need from you, so that you can develop your work processes based on this information rather than an assumption carried over from another workplace or manager (and for future reference, checking every email with your supervisor is quite far outside the norm in many workplaces, it is simply not a good use of a manager’s time. The fact you were only there for a month might change this, if the job is very email heavy and there is a house style, but if so this is something your boss would ask you for, volunteering it does come across a little dependent I’m afraid).

                I realize this can be hard to do especially if you’ve come from a more toxic environment of being yelled at for mistakes, but taking a bit of agency up front can really help with your image as someone who can get on with their work without close supervision. This goes double when you’re a freelancer, as freelancers are generally more commonly seen as independent contractors rather than employees, entry level or otherwise (in my experience, this may not be the case in all companies)

              3. IsbenTakesTea*

                I would add encouragement that when Dale said it was “too intense” for your current ability, he wasn’t saying that you weren’t somehow intrinsically “good enough” (i.e., a failure), he meant that that particular role was not a good fit. Part of a good boss’s job is to evaluate and recognize when a situation is not optimal, and to do what needs to be done to optimize it. This is actually a *really good sign* that Dale is a good manager.

                When he told you that he’ll try to get a position open for you, what he is literally saying is that he thinks your contributions are valuable, and that he thinks his company would increase in value by having you on board. The fact that he’s not promising you anything is another really good sign–it would be short-sighted of him and unfair to you to do so if he doesn’t have control over the situation.

                As others mentioned, per your last question–in some offices, and in some roles, you absolutely could be–but in others (or even as Dale has expressed, in the same office but in a different role), you wouldn’t. The only person who can answer that is your manager, and it’s an answer that will change over time and contexts.

                Best of luck, OP3!

                1. Clisby*

                  OP3, take this message to heart. After all, Dale had no obligation to tell you he’d like to hire you for a different position. If he really just didn’t like your work and wanted to cut you loose, he could do that. I doubt many managers let an employee go while simultaneously telling them they hope they can someday hire them for something else, just to be nice guys. Take him at his word. I don’t mean assume the new position will come to be – just that I don’t see any reason to doubt that he hopes that can happen.

              4. Lemmy Caution*

                This reminds me of a topic where the new assistant from another department that transferred over was running everything through the manager and coming back and asking verification for every step of a process. And the manager was at their wits end as he was expecting to hear the results and not every point of the journey. What I read there between the lines the assistant had been micromanaged to the point she had learned that showing any initiative was bad and she had to run everything through her boss…

                I am more of an independent achiever and absolutely hate micromanagement. I do understand project managers need to know what is going on, but when you are supposed to code a module and you spend 1/2 day in meetings telling the module is not ready because you are waiting for other people sitting 1/2 day in other meetings to finish their bit they can’t because they are sitting in meetings… yeah…

              5. Akcipitrokulo*

                I think that from this that it might have been better to have a couple less questions, and the “slow & meticulous” vs “good enough & timely” balance wasn’t quite right – but that’s stuff that will come with time.

                But overall this is a positive message! Don’t rely on his current ideas about a new position as it may not pan out – but he liked you, he’s given good feedback and you have behaved professionally and boosted your reputation!

              6. Lance*

                I didn’t want to leave before being dismissed

                Wait, wait. Is this normal for your area/field? Because if you weren’t working at those times, and you were just staying there because other people were there… that’s not great in terms of workplace culture.

                1. Lemmy Caution*

                  Not sure if this is the case here, but this is a very common office culture thing in some countries… you can’t leave before the boss does.

                  So if you as the boss need to burn the midnight oil, you make a very ”visible exit” from the office, go to the nearest caf and then sneak back to the empty office, as otherwise your minons will be stuck there waiting for you to leave.

                2. Guacamole Bob*

                  Also, what was “late”? I’m picturing OP leaving at 5:10 instead of 5 after making sure everyone else was wrapping up for the day, not sitting at her desk without anything to do until 7:30 just because other people were still working. The former seems like a normal new-to-the-workplace reaction, while the latter would be strange and awkward.

          2. LaurenB*

            It would be best and most helpful for everyone if you all could simply say what country it is, versus this “my country” stuff. How are we going to learn how other countries do things if it’s all super-duper secret?

          3. TootsNYC*

            also: Many companies establish a specific PIP process before firing, and labeling something as a probationary period allows them to fire you without going through those internally* mandated steps.

            *In my state, if a company establishes a pattern for firings (such as “three warnings,” or PIP, etc.), they will be legally required to follow that pattern. They don’t even have to say it in their handbook–they just have to do it that way predominantly.

            So labeling something a probation periods lets them skip that.

    4. Jane Plough*

      This stood out to me as well.

      Also OP3, you’re not a “deadbeat who can’t keep a job” – Dale has told you the truth which is that the job wasn’t a fit to your skills and experience. There’s no judgement of you inherent in that, it’s just a business decision.

      The best thing to do is to believe him, move on and if the job he’s suggested does materialize (and you think it looks like something you want to do), that’s a great outcome. Either way, you should also keep looking for other opportunities.

      1. londonedit*

        I feel like we’ve had several letters just recently from people who are new/newish to the work world and feel like they need to ‘be grateful’ that their boss is ‘allowing’ them to have a job. It seems to be like there’s a bit of that going on here – OP felt they had to ‘prove themselves’ and somehow make themselves ‘worthy’ of the job. OK, the trial period means they actually *did* need to show they could do the work, but in general I think it’s sad that people have this ‘My boss is doing me a huge favour by allowing me to be employed’ idea. Don’t get me wrong, I know all about impostor syndrome, but I wish I could tell them that they’re being hired because people believe they can do the job, not in some elaborate ‘let’s give them a job and watch them fail’ set-up.

      2. TootsNYC*

        also, for him to go on at length about wanting to create a position for you isn’t a guarantee, but it’s a big compliment.

        Sure, he could be bullshitting because he feels bad, but he didn’t have to.

        Ask him if you can use him as a reference, ask him what he thinks your best strengths are, and go get ’em!

    5. RUKiddingMe*

      Agreed. It sets a very bad precedent. Employers should not (should stop) expect people to exist only to work.

      We reeaallyy need to get back to the idea that people work in order yo live and that they have actual lives beyond the time they spend making money.

      1. Lemmy Caution*

        Ah, but you know you can’t win this…. project managers think you are doing only their project and their project is the only one.

        1. RUKiddingMe*

          Yeah. It reminds me so much of undergrad c. early 80s when each professor thought their course was the most important.

          They still do of course but I’ve noticed a trend towards a bit more understanding of how much students have on their plates. A bit more…not much.

    6. l8rg8r*

      Yes – especially since you say you’re freelance. That’s not really how freelancing works- typically you set an hourly or project rate; you shouldn’t be putting in extra hours if you’re not billing for them.

  4. Cath*

    My work email display name is Catherine, but I sign it with my nickname. Yeah, some people still respond to my emails and address me as “Catherine” but most people notice and catch on without being explicitly told. But it’s also not a big deal to just say “oh, I’m only Catherine at the DMV–call me CJ!”

      1. EtherIther*

        I was actually thinking the opposite – Katherine “KC” Murray. I’ve seen that as the convention as “I actually go by this”, but I could be wrong..

        1. Jasnah*

          I think this is officially/conventionally how it’s done, for example in movie credits you’ll see Daniel “Zippy” Williams or Tracy “Gumbo” Nguyen or other “there has GOT to be a story behind this” nicknames. Or just go like the book, “Katherine called Birdy”.

          But I also like putting the nickname first in informal correspondence because (Katherine) looks (to me at least) like Name=KC*

          * btw my legal name is Katherine if you need to know

        2. Blue*

          I think either of these options is fine, but I do think it would be smart to include one of them, especially if it’s the kind of nickname OP gives as an example. Maybe it’s just my field, but I see a LOT of people casually signing off emails with their initials. Unless it’s clear that’s meant to be a nickname, my brain would immediately assume initials and not even consider the possibility that they wanted me to call them that – even if the letters didn’t match the first/last name.

          1. SpellingBee*

            I agree. My sister signs off her work emails with her initials, but she doesn’t go by those initials. I’d add them into your official email signature in some way.

            1. AnotherAlison*

              Yep. It’s common here for people to use their initials. I have two super senior bosses who both sign “K”, but don’t go by “K”. Because of that, I may not get that you’re actually going by “KC”.

              I always feel embarrassed if I call someone a name they don’t want to be called, so I would love to see your signature say:


              KC Mulberry
              Teapot Specialist

              (Also – to all those people who say “I don’t care” when asked if they prefer “Steve” or “Stephen”, do you really not care? Could you just pick one? Why make me choose for you?)

              1. Call me whatever*

                If they say they don’t care but have Stephen in their email signature then I would call them Stephen. If they felt strongly about being a Steve they would say so. But some people automatically shorten names and they are saying you won’t offend them by doing that.

                Also in my experience Stephen is less likely to go by Steve than Steven is.

                1. valentine*

                  * btw my legal name is Katherine if you need to know

                  Yes. “I’m KC. Totally call me KC. Our email uses legal names, so I’m just confirming you’ve got the right person.” But I now prefer AnotherAlison’s suggestion below, relegating the legal name to the email.

                  And for people who set up email like this: There’s got to be a better way. I waste a lot of time on emails to Peggy Sue because I have to remember to type M for Margaret.

              2. Mockingdragon*

                LOL, I thought I didn’t care because so many people call me by the shortened form of my name (Samantha/Sam), and I genuinely prefer just accepting it over the awkwardness of correcting people – it’s just not that important to me. I’ll introduce myself as Samantha and usually ignore it when people inevitably slip

                But then I started a new part-time job and the manager immediately started calling me Sam and introducing me as Sam before I had a chance to establish Samantha and that did bug me so (shrug)

                1. Call me whatever*

                  I go by the shortened form of my name and people only use the the long form if they are mock telling me off or trying to annoy me. Except I’m way past the time in my life that would bother me and I have actually on occasion considered switching to the long form but I know that people will shorten it without asking.

              3. ChimericalOne*

                Sorry to be one of those “I don’t care” people! It’s hard to pick when you’ve gone by both your full name & your nickname in various capacities and at various points in your life… I was Catherine* in grad school because I like to sign my full name on my papers & it didn’t seem worth the effort to tell people to call me Caty* and I was Catherine at one job where I didn’t want to be confused with Katie or Kay or Kailee (since the whole department shared one phone line, I had no desire to get the calls meant for all of them). But everywhere else in my life I’ve been Caty. Now, if you tried to call me Cate, I’d correct you — I’ve never gone by that. But I’m totally indifferent between Caty and Catherine. If you wanna know what my friends & family call me back home, it’s Caty. But I also have friends who switch back and forth between addressing me one way or the other. (Oh, and it’s Catherine on my social media, so… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ )

                *Names changed to protect the identity of the innocent ;-)

                1. AnotherAlison*

                  I guess I just have a hard time believing people don’t care. I will try to accept it!

                  I was called Ali by my grandma, and my aunt, 2 cousins, and an old best friend, and that’s it. Even my husband, parents, and sister call me by my full name. I’m kind of giggling to myself, though, because I’ve been a little down on things lately, and maybe what I need is a reinvention and to start calling myself Ali.

                2. Jasnah*

                  As a stranger who also hates “I don’t care”, the reason I hate it is because I don’t know the whole backstory–do you really not mind it or do you feel you can’t push back against a common nickname? Do you have a preference for one nickname over another (as in Cate vs Caty) or do you genuinely not care what you’re called as long as it’s not rude (could I call you Birdy? Or Cookie? Or Catwoman?)

                  Names are a minefield for some people, and it’s wonderful to meet someone so flexible but it’s also frustrating to make that call as a stranger meeting someone for the first time. It’s like ordering a pizza for someone you don’t know–I have no way to know what you like!

              4. TootsNYC*

                I have a two-part name; think Mary Lou. I sometimes go by Mary; at my new job, they asked what I preferred and I realized that saying, “I don’t care” is annoying. So now I say, “Oh, I usually go by Mary Lou; Sometimes when people are jaunty, they call me Mary, and that’s OK too.”

                So they know the preference and they can stop thinking about it. And they also know that it’s OK to shorten it.

                1. RUKiddingMe*

                  I have a name that most people think needs an “a” on the end. Think “Angel” vs “Angela.”

                  I get calked the second one probably 50% of the time. I just roll with it unless it Matters.

                  If someone catches it themselves … a lot do actually.. I’ll just say something like “it’s fine, call me whatever you want as long as the check clears.”

                  ::cue mutual laughter::

                  I’m serious about that check though… :-D

              5. Mr. Shark*

                I agree totally with this. Making it not just your signoff, but part of your signature, ensures that you are saying “this is my name and what you should call me.” Normally it wouldn’t matter, because your signoff could be what you want to be called, but if you use KC, as others have suggested, people might just think you’re signing off with your initials, not what you want people to be called.

                I went back and forth with a co-worker, whose used his middle name, but used the more formal version (think “Michael” instead of Mike), so his name was Peter Michael Smith, and I’d call him Mike, but he signed off his e-mails with Michael. I only use my nickname (“Dave” rather than David), so he would passive-aggressively respond to my “Mike” e-mails with “David”, until I got the hint, and started calling him “Michael” and then he would call me “Dave”.

                But I should have gotten the hint by the way he signed off his e-mails before that. Some people don’t care, but the e-mail signoff is a good way to determine what they want to be called.

                As for Steve vs Stephen, I can’t imagine someone not caring. But I know with my name, it’s been different with different people. Some people (using my example above) may call me Dave, my preference, and my family may call me David, and some people even get away with Davey (for some reason, certain people calling me that doesn’t bother me). I introduce myself as Dave, and even my family will introduce me to their friends as Dave, though they may call me David.

              6. RUKiddingMe*

                “Ok, Steve it is then!”

                Yeah, I stopped doing that particular dance a while ago…

          2. Jules the 3rd*

            The convention at my company is “William (Bill) Soandso” or “Xiu Li (Grace) Tan”, but it’s also common to see ‘Thanks, Bill’ at the end of the note, and a full name in the .sig below. I find it so very helpful to see both the full name (as in the company directory) and their preferred name.

            Whichever you choose, make it easy on yourself with a standardized signature, so you’re not typing it over and over. Type it a few times, different ways, with the people who are already calling you KC and see what you like best.

          3. EPLawyer*

            My full name has a LOT of letters in it. Even my hubby calls me EP. Where do you think I got EPLawyer from?

            I started even signing notes left on desks (in the days before IM, Slack and event texting), as EP. It caught on eventually. To the point I know someone is serious if they use my whole first name.

            Just start casually using KC yourself and others will pick up on it. Talk to people you are close with at work and encourage them to call you KC in conversation (when work appropriate).

              1. valentine*

                I thought the EP stood for “environmental protection”
                Yeah. And I didn’t know RUK was a thing until they mentioned it on its own. I’m surprised, though, that people think MommyMD is a Marylander instead of (or in addition to) being a doctor.

            1. LunaLena*

              Yeah, I agree, people will catch on. I started going by middle name when I was a teenager because I’ve always hated my first name, so I told my friends “I’ve decided to go by my middle name, so please call me MiddleName from now on.” Within a week or two, all my friends called me by my middle name. Nowadays people are surprised to find that the name they call me is not my “real” name because everyone just knows me by my middle name. No drama involved.

              For the OP, it might also help if you can change the Sender name on your email to your preferred name. I had to ask the IT department to do it at my job, but I know several people here who did the same even after their official name was their Sender name for over a year, and it wasn’t a big deal at all.

      2. Name (Required)*

        I like this, and also, I’ve been in academia a long time, and it’s one of the best places for accepting these sorts of things. About half of the admins I interact with put preferred pronouns in the email and I actually interacted with a female that goes by KJ just last week. Their boss introed them as KJ and I addressed all emails as such.

    1. RUKiddingMe*

      For a while mine was “Queen of the Universe.”

      Only for internal emails though… External emails were/are always professional “real name” plus title, etc.

  5. mark132*

    #4, You may want to also check it your employer’s employee directory allows a preferred name, and putting your preferred name there. It’s fairly common in systems like that.

    1. Fieldpoppy*

      My “wallet name” (a term is never heard before but it makes sense) is Catherine and I go by Cate. I made the transition to that after a divorce 15 years ago and it just took a bit of work for a few months to say “I’m using cate now.” Some of my e-stuff says Catherine because that’s on my credit cards I used to set up the account and people sometimes use it — I just say “oh I use cate, Catherine is just my legal name.” I sign my emails Cate, my online bios and profile say Cate — just start using it generally and if you have to keep the wallet name alive, put KC in the middle in quotes.

      1. EngineerMom*

        I’m the same way, with a longer first name and a shorter version of that name that I’ve used since college (think like “Elizabeth” but go by “Liz”). Because I didn’t change it until college, people who met me before that, or who know of or about me through my parents/siblings, will sometimes call me Elizabeth. It also comes up in doctor’s offices, or when I first start a new job and everything’s under my legal name. I just say “That’s me, but I go by Liz.”

        At my current job, I was able to get everything changed to Liz, including my email. My other email exists under Elizabeth as well, but forwards to the Liz version, so if anyone sends me email under Elizabeth, I still see it. I don’t make a big deal about being Liz or Elizabeth in written communication, just always sign myself as Liz – most people figure it out eventually!

        I have one coworker who got divorced while working here, and changed back to her birth surname. That was more confusing for people, but everyone figured it out eventually.

    2. AMT*

      Or just changing your *actual* name in the system to that name! It’s 2019. There is no earthly reason your email display name has to match the one on your ID, and no employer should have an issue changing the display name of a trans/NB employee who hasn’t changed it legally. I know OP isn’t out at work, but maybe bringing up discreetly with HR if IT doesn’t budge could be an avenue, especially if OP lives in an area that has gender identity protections.

      1. Librarianne*

        Exactly. There are 8 other people with my first name in my current workplace, and we constantly get each other’s mail and emails. When I decided to go by a shortened version, it was very easy to update my email handle and display name in our online systems.

        There are many ways to bring this up without necessarily outing yourself: “I want to be sure people don’t confuse me with [other person with same/similar name],” “I’d like to have my display name match what people actually call me at work,” etc. Good luck!

      2. Mr. Shark*

        When my company was bought by my new company, they asked what my e-mail should be, and I gave them my shortened name, and it stuck with all my paperwork. Somehow even though my WorkName is not my legal name, everything works out with no issues and all the paperwork is fine. I did have a problem booking flights at one point and getting my preferred travel arrangements because of the difference in my name, but that sorted itself out eventually.

    3. Curmudgeon in California*

      This. I’m in the same situation as OP#4 – ENBY, AFAB.

      I have changed my “preferred name” entries in the university directory to be “CI” rather than “Curmudgeon”. I sign my emails “CIC”, not “Curmudgeon”. My Slack display is “CI California”.

      I use a preferred email that says “CI California “, and my email sig looks like this:
      CI California
      Teapot Authentication Team
      Mx., they/them/their

      Yet, people still call me by “Curmudgeon”, and my badge still reads “Curmudgeon”.

      It will take a while, because too many people learned my wallet name. But I have changed everything I can.

    4. Catwoman*

      I came here to say this. At the university I work at you can do this. If you’re not sure if your university offers this, just ask HR.

      You can also sign emails as:
      Katherine “KC” Candlemaker

    5. NotAnotherManager!*

      My employer finally got with the 21st century and started offering the preferred name option about 3 years ago. Before that, it was legal first name only on your directory, email signature (which were not employee-editable), and official documents. (And where this could be a problem was when Janina went by Nina and all her emails were sent to nsmith@company.com instead of jsmith@company.com. And also no one knew who Janina was because no one called her that.)

    6. Bunny*

      I think the issue might be that this is a recent change? Because LOTS of people in workplaces are known by preferred names and not legal names, you probably know some and just don’t realize it.

      My only suggestion might be instead of using KC, use K.C. Mulberry.

  6. dealing with dragons*

    OP #1 – this is literally an episode of Brooklyn 99. Do yourself a favor and watch it to see what can go wrong!

    1. Snorks*

      I was thinking the same thing!
      Though I’d pay good money to play Cards Against Humanity with Captain Holt.

    2. Ella*

      My exact thought! OP 1, you should have one party upstairs with the boss and a second, cooler party downstairs that you don’t tell the boss about. There’s no way this plan will backfire at all.

    3. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Totally looked to see if anyone referenced that and was going to comment ‘in character’ :D

    4. Sleepless*

      I was reminded of the episode of Chicago Hope where Felicity Huffman invites herself along on a girls weekend. It ended up turning traumatic, but before that it was gloriously cringe-worthy.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        It’s episode 2×12 – Beach House

        (No, I did not have to look that up *sigh*)

  7. ExpatInTheHat*

    OP #1, is there any way you can just say that there’s no room left in the house? It sounds like there’s already quite a crowd coming if all four of you have invited friends, so it would be a plausible excuse. “Oh, sorry, we’re already at max capacity in the house!” Also, many rental houses may actually have a stipulation on how many people can stay there overnight at once.

    This does run the possible risk of Gabby saying “Oh no, I’m fine on the couch/air mattress/floor/hammock!” or what have you, but it might be worth a shot. Also, Billy, just…why?

    1. Artemesia*

      With someone as obtuse as Gabby for angling for this invitation, you have to have someone spell it out. You aren’t invited because it isn’t appropriate to have someone’s boss at a rowdy beach weekend. It isn’t fair but the LW should take care of it: Billy hasn’t got the chops.

      1. Moray*

        Gabby may be coming from exactly the same impulsive place as Billy–
        “I’ll be generous invite Gabby!”
        “I’ll be friendly and accept the invitation!”

        Followed by:
        “Oops, that was a mistake, but it would be rude to rescind the invitation.”
        “Oops, that was a mistake, but it would be rude to back out now.”

        1. Oranges*

          If they are in the midwest or anywhere else with a subtle culture. THIS 100%.

          In my area the convo with Gabby would be understood to mean “I think this invite was a mistake, I’m checking with you to see if it was. Please give a fig leaf to my backing out”

      2. Eukomos*

        I interpreted Gabby asking whether there’s room as her creating an opening for OP to say no. Though now that you say this I can see the other interpretation; we don’t have enough information to know if it was an offhand drunken comment of Billy’s that Gabby should have let everyone pretend never happened rather than following up, or if it seemed like a fairly legit invitation at the time and she feels like she has to go through the motions of following up on it to not seem unsociable but is trying to create space for OP and friends to say “oh gosh you’re right, turns out we can’t accommodate you, see you next happy hour instead.”

    2. MK*

      I agree with this, especially since the OP says Gabby has been asking whether there is room for her to join. That suggests to me Billy’s invitation was pretty vague, and it might be easier for the OP to fob her off with equally vague excuses.

      1. SarahKay*

        It might also be that Gabby is aware that her being there may well be awkward, for her as well as for Goat and Gruff, but hasn’t quite thought through the idea that she should just say no, and doesn’t like to flat refuse because she doesn’t want to be seen as standoffish / not willing to mix.
        She may be trying to offer OP a graceful way out by asking if there’s room for her to join – i.e. she’s thinking that she’s giving OP the option to say ‘Oh, no, sorry Gabby, all the rooms are filled’.

        Without AAM, which has given me a lot of clarity on dividing lines, I can totally see that if I were in Gabby’s position I would be overthinking it all: ‘They invited me, it’s rude to say no’; ‘Yes, but it could be awkward being there with some of my team’; ‘Oh, gosh, maybe if I give them a polite way to tell me I can’t come…’ and so on.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I recently made a rule that anyone claiming “I have social awkwardness” to excuse their behavior doesn’t get a pass, because people with actual social awkwardness are not that good at manipulating people into doing what they want.

          In Gabby’s case I think there may be actual social awkwardness afoot, and she doesn’t trust her own instincts (“Go! It will be fun! They knew that when they invited you!” “Decline! You’re the boss! He just blurted in an awkward moment and couldn’t take it back!”) and that’s why she’s asking OP. So OP should give her a straight answer (“The second little voice is correct”) that is as kindly phrased as possible.

        2. Commenter*

          “She may be trying to offer OP a graceful way out by asking if there’s room for her to join – i.e. she’s thinking that she’s giving OP the option to say ‘Oh, no, sorry Gabby, all the rooms are filled’.”

          ^ This is exactly what I was thinking — to me it feels like she’s hinting at “hey, if you say there’s no room then we can all agree on this polite fiction where I don’t attend but don’t have to explicitly reject the invitation…”

          1. RUKiddingMe*

            I dont understand how declining an invitation is rude.

            “Thanks but I have something going on myself that weekend.”

            Or now that it’s been issued/accepted …

            “Hey I’m going to have to back out of that beach weekend. I just learned that my 106 year old *grandmother/aunt/whoever will be in town that weekend and she wants to see me. I mean she *is* 106, so…”

            *Having an actual 106 year old visitor not necessary.

        3. TootsNYC*

          or she’d kind of like to go, but knows it might be awkward, and is looking for either permission or a clear no.

    3. Anna*

      Came here to suggest this. ‘Sorry Gabby, we already invited a bunch of people and I’m afraid there simply isn’t room. Maybe next time!’ This way, you don’t have to disinvite her as a person. Sure, she shouldn’t have asked, she shouldn’t have accepted, she should know better, it’s not personal it’s work, etc etc, but it’s always unpleasant to be told ‘no, you cannot come, we are not-inviting *you* in particular.’ Better try and save some face.
      And talk to Billy of course, so he doesn’t do this again.

      1. OP1*

        I thought about that, but we’ve got a few other people who are staying at nearby hotels instead of the main house, so if she really wanted to come she’d could just volunteer to stay nearby or with a friend, or drive down for the day, or whatever. Also, this is an annual trip (first time Goat & Gruff are attending), so if I just use a temporary, one-time excuse it’ll likely come back to bite me next year. -_-

        1. Hope*

          She doesn’t need to know that other people are staying nearby. And you don’t have to end with the “Maybe next time”.

          Regardless, you need to have a talk with Billy about not inviting people’s bosses to non-work hangouts.

        2. Natatat*

          I agree. Billy or you should just be up front with Gabby that she can’t come, rather than an excuse which won’t work annually. It’s awkward, but it resolves the problem permanently, rather than 1 white lie that may come to require more white lies to keep it going.

        3. Name (Required)*

          I know an oblivious boss, and this is what I would say to him “I’m really sorry that wires got crossed, but I don’t think it would be a good idea for you to come on this trip where direct reports are supposed to be able to cut loose. I assume you’d also feel weird if your manager was going on a trip with you, so I think you’ll agree it would be setting us up for a really awkward vacation… I know I couldn’t imagine truly relaxing with [insert your manager’s name if you don’t think they would mind] there!”

          If Gabby is empathetic, I’d bet she just feels a little embarrassed rather than upset.

          This is super not worth lying about though. That’s just can backfire in too many ways (e.g. Billy tells Gabby he just invited his uber driver and is excited the driver could make it on short notice)

        4. Jennifer @unchartedworlds*

          Yeah, I think the best scripts are the ones which tactfully deliver the real reason. “I thought about it and I realised I’m not comfortable with mixing managerial levels in this kind of social time, I’ve read that it’s not best practice because of blurring work boundaries, we’d totally hang out with you in future if the work situation changes so that didn’t apply”. Or something along those lines.

    4. Vauxhall Prefect*

      I think the danger with this is that it will look like OP#1 has a problem with Gabby if Gabby realises that what she said wasn’t true. And with three other people from the office having gone (and especially already seeing questions about Billy’s judgement), I think there’s too much chance she’ll hear that it wasn’t true.

      OP #1 has a totally valid and reasonable reason for why she thinks Gabby shouldn’t come, I think telling even a white lie like this has the risk of making it look like she has a personal problem with Gabby instead.

      1. Cat Fan*

        Right, and what is Gabby hears about someone having canceled. Then there’s room for her, right? Someone should just be honest with Gabby and give Gabby the chance to understand her role as a manager prohibits her from joining in and certain things with her employees.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          This. If you say “We WANT you to come! It’s just (insert reason)! Really!” and then that reason is resolved, Gabby logically concludes that she should come because it was only (reason) that was the problem.

          She asked for help here, even–it’s not like OP is approaching her blind. Yeah, ideal world Gabby realizes this herself and is like the boss who kindly said “The header about your drunken weekend was so odd that I didn’t read any of the group emails to my work address about it.” But we know we’re not living in that world, so do Gabby a solid and reply to her direct question with a direct answer.

    5. OP1*

      Yeah – I thought about that, and the house is already overbooked, but we also have a few other people in the group staying at a nearby hotel, and I’m worried that if she really wants to come, she might just say “that’s fine! I’ll just get a room nearby”/”…stay with a friend…”/”…drive in that morning…”/whatever. That said, I’ve got to give her credit, she did express some trepidation about being there with her direct reports, just not enough to keep her from asking about it.

      1. SarahKay*

        In that case I’d just recommend a polite ‘Sorry, but on balance it’d be a bad idea since your direct reports are coming’. Per Falling Dipthong any myself above, she might well have been asking because she feels like it’s rude / stand-offish to decline when she’s been asked.
        To me, this feels like good intentions all round but with potentially very bad results. Billy is cheerfully inviting the world, and not thinking about consequences, and neither you nor Gabby quite like to say ‘Actually, this is a bad idea’ because you’re both polite people and feel like that would be rude.

        1. OP1*

          To be fair, when I asked him about it, Billy did mention that it probably wasn’t his greatest idea ever, and Gabby did express a bit of reluctance about being there with direct reports… Just not enough to keep her from following up to see if she could still attend…

          1. Qwerty*

            It sounds like Gabby gave you the opening you need!

            “Gabby, I thought about what you said and given the partying nature of the trip, it wouldn’t work out well to have managers and their direct reports. We like spending time with you – there are just too many opportunities for this to become awkward/inappropriate”. Preferably follow this up by making plans with her that don’t mess with the boss/report relationship, like a tame activity or an outing that doesn’t involve her direct reports.

            The problems of having a manager go both ways. Not only will Goat and Gruff be worrying about how their behavior is perceived by their boss, Gabby will have to pay attention to how she acts around her reports. People tend to remember their boss’s drunken actions, which could make the working relationship awkward or ineffective.

            1. Errol*

              Yup! If she expressed herself it may be weird there is nothing wrong with calling her and saying “Hey, I’ve thought a lot about this and I think your right. We like going for drinks with you, but this is usually a booze fueled weekend which may be weird with the boss there. I don’t want anyone to feel like they need to be professional this weekend”

              And there’s nothing wrong with that. She knows. She brought it up herself.

            2. Commenter*

              “It sounds like Gabby gave you the opening you need!”

              ^ Also this!

              Between her bringing up the direct reports thing AND her pointedly asking about space, I actually have the impression that she’s prompting you to say “you know, you’re right, this might not be a great idea…”

              It’s possible that both you & she are awkwardly dancing around the issue to avoid overtly offending the other by rejecting/rescinding the invitation, though you both objectively realize it’s not a great idea. :) I think there’s totally room here for you two to have a gentle honest convo where you both acknowledge that her going wouldn’t be a great idea BUT that you also both want to maintain a happy friendly working relationship.

              1. OP1*

                Lots of good advice here – I’ll see if I can catch her this afternoon. She really is quite a cool person, and if she wasn’t G&G’s boss then I’d love for her to attend. I’m hoping for minimal awkwardness… Hopefully they can both get promotions next year, Gabby can attend the 2020 ed., and then this will all be a weird/cringey memory.

                1. Mr. Shark*

                  If you like Gabby more than G&G, just have her fire them, and then you can all go together! :)

                  Okay, so maybe the promotions idea is better.

          2. Pilcrow*

            You mentioned in a comment upthread that Goat and Gruff said something along the lines of feeling like they’d need to wear business casual at the pool if she was there. That is a *perfect* line to add on to SaraKay’s script.

            ‘Sorry, but on balance it’d be a bad idea since your direct reports are coming. They’d probably feel compelled to wear business causal at the pool because they boss is there.’

          3. ChimericalOne*

            What you’re reading as “fishing for reassurance that it’s okay for her to come” may instead just be “trying to get a real answer from you as to whether it’s actually okay for her to come.” If she’s feeling unsure about boundaries and she’s asking you for an answer and you choose to lie to her and say, “Yes, it’s fine! Totally come!,” you are not doing her any favors.

            This is classic Ask vs. Guess culture. She’s not asking because she thinks she knows the answer. She’s asking because she DOESN’T.

          4. TootsNYC*

            yeah, but just because she’d kind of like to attend doesn’t mean you’re going to be OH SO AWKWARD AND UNABLE to tell her, “Well, I think it’s best if we don’t have anybody’s boss on the trip. I am sorry, but you know how that can be.”

          5. Eukomos*

            That’s perfect! You can just tell her “hey Gabby, what you said about vacationing with your direct reports being weird really stuck with me and in retrospect I think you’re right and you probably shouldn’t come. Thanks for thinking of that before it turned into a vacation disaster!” Now she’s happy because she’s the smart, responsible boss, and you and your friends are off the hook. Maybe buy her a round at the next happy hour if there’s a lingering sense of guilt.

  8. Edianter*

    Came for the amazing AAM content, stayed for the very timely Toy Story 4 reference!

  9. Tyche*

    I think you should:
    1) talk to Billy. Explain why they shouldn’t have invited Gabby at the beach house, and in general why they should ask Gruff and Goat before inviting Gabby at your parties etc. Make it clear that you have nothing against Gabby, but she is Gruff and Goat’s boss and their dynamic is quite different that between coworkers.
    2) Talk to Gabby and explain why she shouldn’t have been invited o the beach. While she is Billy friend, she is your other friends’ *boss* and it creates quite an awkward setting to invite her on your holiday.
    I think you should have a “rule” to talk between you four before inviting Gabby to future events.

    1. Akcipitrokulo*

      And might be worth saying to Gabby “I’m sorry – I don’t think Billy realised how awkward it woild be with your being their boss, but obviously you understand…”

    2. Muriel Heslop*

      I’d also respond to Gabby like you are doing her a favor. “I’d hate to put you in an awkward position, Gabby, with your subordinates.” Because, she should want this for herself anyway.

      1. MissDisplaced*

        Yes! Honestly, I think Gabby might already suspect this, so hopefully it’s easier than you think.

    1. Yvette*

      Agree, he should be the one to do it, but from everything said in the letter, it sounds like both of them are a little obtuse/clueless as to what is and is not appropriate. I would not trust him with it. You need to know control this.

      1. RUKiddingMe*

        The problem here… Apparently Billy already invited her. Now she needs to be un-invited. Even if no one specifically says it’s because of Goat and Gruff she will likely figure it out. How will that play out in the manager/report relationship going forward?

        Sure she should remain professional, but if she was being s professional she wouldn’t have accepted/be angling for an invitation. TBH her hanging out drinking with them in the past already calls into question her ability to separate work/personal.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        Yeah, this is a case where logic and fairness and justice might say one thing, but getting the outcome you want says do the other one. Gabby seems to trust OP to give her the straight answer she suspects Billy, Goat, and Gruff won’t.

        1. OP1*

          I really don’t want Goat & Gruff to suffer any fallout – there’s definitely some wording where Billy or I could keep it from being their fault. After many much agonizing, I’m thinking something along the lines of, “I actually thought about inviting you, and it would be super fun to have you there if there weren’t hierarcy issues, but Goat & Gruff have been a part of this from the beginning, and as hostess-planner-person, I really can’t put them in the position of having a boss at their rowdy weekend getaway.” Not sure. I’d *much* rather pawn it off on Billy, but I’m terrified this will land back in Goat/Gruff’s laps – it’s not their fault, and it ultimately doesn’t matter how they feel about it since it’s such a breach of protocol…

          1. Not All*

            To soften it even more, you could even add something about being concerned about the perception by the other people Gabby supervises if word gets around that she is socializing with G&G. We certainly have no shortage of letters on this site dealing with situations where the boss is friends with a subordinate and it creates problems for the rest of the staff!

          2. Ask a Manager* Post author

            You are over thinking this, seriously. It’s really unlikely Goat and Gruff will suffer any fall-out, particularly based on what you’ve said about the relationship with Gabby. You’re making this harder than it needs to be! Just tell her you all realized it could be weird to have bosses there but you’ll catch up with her some other time.

            1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

              I mean, Gabby can’t be that cool if she’s likely to lash out or punish G&G because she got disinvited for reasons that she already hinted at. I don’t know what kind of backlash the OP is imagining but based on their description of Gabby it seems like an unlikely outcome.

          3. TootsNYC*

            add in, “I imagine it could be awkward for you as well.”

            Because, well, it would–seeing my boss getting plastered and making extra-crude combos in Cards Against Humanity would undermine her authority with me a bit.

  10. Lemmy Caution*

    #2 Well, on the flipside recruiters and headhunters cold-contact you, but then again that is their job. I wouldn’t cold-contact random people, but recruiters could be free game… I am looking for a new job atm, but I’ve only been putting in applications and refreshing my CV on jobsites. I made one post on LinkedIn as I am an expert in a very niche tool and that niche is a very small pond, so anyone who knows anyone is 2nd or 3rd fish on my Linkedin contacts. But I haven’t done messaging or cv spamming there.

    1. Fergus*

      But once a recruiter crosses the line of wanting to make a connection on LinkedIn without even saying Hi, that’s a different story

      1. Lemmy Caution*

        I’m not that much annoyed by the recruiters fishing CV’s, but recently there’s been a few connection requests which I really don’t want , like to discuss a mortgage or take a course in office 365… but all in all I’ve avoided most of the crap some people get. I feel lucky on that aspect. Even the random networking invites have been appropriate enough.

  11. So what if Terry answers in the first person*

    Yeah Question one is an episode of Brooklyn Nine Nine.

    Umm Nine-Nine!

    1. Lena Clare*

      IKR?? I loved that episode.
      The walk on the beach! “The rain is like a 1000 tiny needles on my face!” Haha.

      Where is Detective Amy Santiago for this?

    2. Lizzy May*

      Even Alison’s comment about signing text messages made me think of Nine Nine.
      Captain Raymond Holt

  12. Lemmy Caution*

    #1 Intrigues me. I’ve worked in companies where in one, depending on the team, we’d have ”team office party” every now and then and end up at the boss’s house totally wrecked… and that was the department head big boss… Whereas in a couple others I’d never even imagine this to happen. A few were ”depends on the person”. I guess the hierarchy culture is what plays a big part here, and if you are stuck in a pyramid structure, you just don’t go drink with the pharaohs. On the other hand it sounds a bit ”know your place” situation, which as I was brought up with equality in a society rubs me the wrong way… I always mingle with the ”…but those are…” crowd to the great concern of my colleagues.

    1. MK*

      The workplace is not society, and an employee and a boss are not equals in that specific context. In an case, it’s not actually relevant, because, not, this is not about anyone knowing their place. It’s not that Gabby shouldn’t socialize with the plebs or that Gruff and Goat shouldn’t drink with the “pharaoh”, it’s that they will probably not be comfortable letting loose with their boss around and that a situation might arise that will make working together very uncomfortable. Not to mention that Gabby’s impartiallity as a manager would be highly questionable if she forms a much closer relationship with two of her employees.

      Do consider that your colleagues’ concern might have to do with that, and not their being class-conscious.

      1. Lemmy Caution*

        The workplace *is* a society, or it reflects the society it is in. Global companies have some interesting challenges with these.

        What you are describing, and I feel sorry for you, is social inequality. I have sat butt naked in the sauna with the CEO, and actually if the CEO wouldn’t sit in the sauna with the plebes, he’d quickly have lost all respect ”trying to be better than others”.

        Now plebes in these inequal societies have their own strict pecking orders, which also are stratified, so you’re not supposed to talk or mix with people from the wrong department or the wrong ethnicity. Which say on a ship where departments are organized mainly by ethnicity, brings on a whole dynamic of segregation. And on a ship you are well aware of the command structure and the levels of command. Doesn’t mean you need to be a dick.

        1. Femme d'Afrique*

          I’m not 100% sure what we’re talking about right now (you lost me with the ship segregation example), but it’s clear to me that what many people are saying is location, country or even office-specific.

          Where I am, if a CEO were to sit “butt naked” with employees in a sauna, the scandal that would result would be epic and possibly national. I get that where you live and work that *may* be normal, but surely even you know that that isn’t some sort of Universal Truth. I mean, you even allude to it when you talk about global companies experiencing challenges.

          Like the LW, lots of us DON’T WANT to socialise with our bosses. That’s the main point, and what Alison was responding to. If the LW did want to, there wouldn’t have been a question.

          1. Lemmy Caution*

            Well, the ship job was my first ”culture shock” at a workplace. I have never been to as a segregated environment, though some hotels I worked in had a bit of that going on. Fair does, if your team has a lingua franca it makes sense to hire only people who can speak it, but i found it surreal. That was some 30 years ago though when I was young and idealistic.

            What comes to the ”butt naked CEO”, I am sure it would cause a scandal in the country I work in now.

        2. Antilles*

          The problem is that a manager who goes on vacation and becomes close friends with his direct subordinates is no longer an objective manager.
          >When raises come up, if Goat and Griff get bigger raises than the other team member Rumple (who wasn’t on the trip), Rumple is going to assume it’s because of favoritism…and in many cases, he would be right.
          >If Goat needs coaching/discipline, is Gabby going to actually treat him like any other employee? Or is Gabby going to wave it off because of the personal relationship?
          >As an extreme example, let’s say Griff does something really awful, like sexual harassment of Jane. Would Jane be willing to bring it up? Or would Jane be worried about retaliation / not being believed because Gabby and Griff are close friends and Gabby’s going to back up his bro?
          Like it or not, the rules are different if you’re a manager – you can’t be close friends with the people you manage. It’s not a class thing or larger reflection on society, it’s that a manager needs to be even-handed and objective, but being close friends with a direct subordinate prevents that.

          1. Jerk Store*

            This. The supervisor who hired me at my first job retired, and her replacement came from another department. New Supervisor, Daphne, was already close friends with one of the people on my admin team I’ll call Kathy. Kathy was quickly promoted to a lead where we all still reported to Daphne, but Kathy was assigning work to the rest of us, as well taken off the roster of rotating coverage when the receptionist was out, which each of us would have liked to get out of. Kathy and Daphne had lunch together almost every day and no one else was invited. I didn’t *want* to be invited, but it sent a pretty clear message that any conflict or issue I had with Kathy would be dealt with by Daphne as me talking smack about her bestie.

            I am sure if you had asked Kathy she would have said there was no issue or awkwardness *for her* being so close to the boss, but it was an issue for the rest of us.

        3. Shad*

          It’s not about being a dick or about being able to go sit in culturally nonsexual nudity with the boss, it’s about having to be your work self around your boss, your boss’s need to be able to make decisions without the appearance of favoritism, and the incompatibility of both with a weekend vacation, getting drunk, etc.

        4. Princess prissypants*

          I’m lost.

          I don’t want to drink, pharoah-ize, ship, or sauna with bosses. Ever. Or ever ever every do anything at all with a “butt naked CEO.”

        5. Eukomos*

          I’d be OK with going to a sauna with the head of my organization, as long as I didn’t have to talk to the bastard. I would NOT be OK with going to the sauna with him, watching one of my friends strike up a friendship with him while we’re all there, and then in the ensuing months suddenly and mysteriously start getting favorable treatment from the higher-ups. There are a lot of reasons that can keep it from being appropriate to form a close, casual relationship with someone other than class prejudice.

    2. WS*

      Not “don’t drink with the pharaoh”, but “don’t drink with your direct supervisor”. *Billy* can drink with Gabby, it’s Goat and Gruff who can’t.

      1. Lemmy Caution*

        Where I work now its the supervisors who suggest going to the pub for a pint after work.

        1. FaintlyMacabre*

          And if people don’t want to go the pub, do they get the same opportunities as those who hang out with the bosses after work?

        2. fhqwhgads*

          I think you’re talking about totally different scenarios than the OP asked about. The gatherings you’re mentioning originate with work people. My understanding is the weekend trip in question is OP, Billy, Gruff and Goat (who happen to be coworkers) and all of their friends (who do not work with them). And Billy has invited Gruff and Goat’s supervisor to that Friend Group Weekend. So it’s not just about not socializing with the boss, or power dynamics within a work-people-social-event. It’s inviting two friends’ boss to a vacation with all their other non-work friends, which makes it even worse.

      1. Lemmy Caution*

        Well, I suppose if you work in a country where you can be fired for no reason at the whim of your superiors, you really need to pussyfoot around more. And that’s not ”professional boundaries”, thats being ”scared shitless”.

        1. Akcipitrokulo*

          No… it’s not about being afraid of being fired. It’s knowing that, regardless of class, one of you gets to tell the other what to do… and review behaviour… and possibly get into disciplinary processes…

          And more than that. One of you has a position of authority over the other *and other colleagues*. So even if the two of you can handle being best drunk buds for a weekend and then have one od the “I need you to change this… can you commit to that?” conversations on Monday…

          What is the effect on colleagues? You go on weekend away and the next week get best project… coincidence? Maybe. Does it look suspicious? Yes.

          And if the colleagues are seeing favouritism, whether YOU think it’s there or not? That’s an issue. And if one were to complain to HR that boss’s weekend friend got best project and only a wagged finger for something wrong, or that a dispute between coworkers always gets resolved in favour of friend? Even if all of those occurances are absolutely innocent in your mind, it’s an issue.

          It’s not about classism. It’s keeping things fair and reasonable.

          1. UKDancer*

            Agreed. I’m a reasonably liberal, feminist who dislikes hierarchy for the sake of it and would prefer to see a more classless society. I treat all my colleagues including the owner of the company with the same respect. That doesn’t mean I’m not sensible that polite office behaviour and behaviour around close friends can be different.

            I like my boss, he’s a fair, supportive and decent man. We travel on business and get on very well as far as that goes. However I do remember that he writes my appraisals so when we go to the conference in Rivendell and have a drink in the bar at the airport waiting for the flight back, I have only one drink so I can remain professional when we’re back in the office the next week, I don’t worry I’ve said something indiscreet. Not because I’m afraid of him but because I am sensible of the need to preserve some professionalism and avoid the perception of favouritism.

            Equally when we went to a different conference in Lothlorien and stayed at a hotel with a pool, I made sure I didn’t swim at the same time as he did, because I would prefer he didn’t see me in a bikini. Not because I’m afraid of him or think he’ll molest me but because I’m more comfortable if I’m not showing that much vulnerability.

            I’m aware it can vary by culture but I don’t think it indicates anything wrong with the culture for Gruff and Goat not to want to have their boss at a beach house weekend.

        2. Anononon*

          Your comments are becoming pretty hostile, here. I’m not sure if it’s that severe of a cultural difference or you’re just being deliberately obtuse. Do you really not understand the difference between a work happy hour versus an entire weekend getting wasted?

        3. un-pleasing*


          Look, I am a socialist by orientation and in favor of a classless society. However, I do want some distribution of management functions at work. One of the major criticisms people have of start-up culture is that a lot of start-ups envision themselves operating in an egalitarian mode, at least in their self-description. Companies have gotten lots of press for the problems that arise (google the story about Babe.net for an example) because they don’t actually operate in an egalitarian mode.

          Besides that, “egalitarian” societies may not have “class” per se, but they do have other functional distinctions that maintain social order; these may occur at the ritual or familial level. Your comments suggest a common misunderstanding of the dynamics of societies where class does not seem to be a major category. The point here is that rules make things work.

          1. AMT*

            I tried to Google the Babe.net story, but all I got was a flood of stories about Aziz Ansari. Can you link it or say what it was about?

            1. un-pleasing*

              Sure! It was on The Cut, link forthcoming. It chronicles the fall of the website and the role of the Aziz story in that downfall, but catalogs some incredibly bad behavior. reading it took me on a journey.

        4. Mookie*

          If you want a picture of the future, imagine never getting to wear a bikini in front of your boss… forever.

        5. Eukomos*

          I’ve seen the opposite problem, actually. A guy in my department had a habit of cornering people and telling them too many details about his sex life. Not trying to come on to them, just picked a terrible way to show off. Nevertheless, it made a lot of people on our level (we had the same job) or the one right below us incredibly uncomfortable. When they tried to ask the department head to get him to stop, the dept head said that because the sex-talk guy had managed to form such close friendships with our supervisors (he was quite gregarious) there was no way anyone with the authority to make him knock it off would be willing to tell him something that would piss him off that much. The people with the complaint had to escalate to HR, who promptly fired the sex-talk guy for sexual harassment even though everyone including the people who filed the complaint agreed that was disproportionately severe. If he could have been disciplined normally by his supervisors because they remained supervisors rather than friends then he could have kept his job. Do you see why personal relationships can be a problem here?

    3. AnotherAlison*

      To me, it depends what the beach house shenanigans are. I work in a culture work hard play hard culture, and while hierarchical, it’s not really segregated (for lack of a better word) until you get to the EVP level. If it was just a bunch of hard drinking all weekend, I know bosses and subordinates who were friends here that do that. Beach house shenanigans with friends may go beyond that, though, and could definitely be an inappropriate work line that would be crossed.

      (FWIW, the beach house partying with bosses definitely helped the “in” crowd advance their careers here. Too bad for me getting married and raising a family when I was a young one. The work hard part of the equation didn’t get me far enough.)

    4. OP1*

      I’ve had a number of bosses that I’ve enjoyed drinking with (even quite a lot), hanging out with, happy hours, etc… but NONE that I would invite on this trip.

      1. lawschoolmorelikeblawschool*

        I’m guessing you can read and comprehend the bad advice/input here . . . but yah just listen to Alison’s advice and most of the commenters – you’re absolutely right that Gabby cannot come and hopefully you and your friends can find a way to deal with it – it’s a stinky situation.

      2. Jennifer*

        Yeah, a few drinks after work is one thing. Me waking up half-dressed and stumbling to the bathroom with my boss watching down at me is another. It’s too intimate.

        1. OP1*

          Anything involving bikinis + copious alcohol + bosses really seems like… just… not. a. good. idea.

  13. Gemma*

    OP 4 – I knew someone who would always introduce themselves as ‘my name is Cindy-Lou, most people call me CL. They gave other permissions to use their preferred name.

  14. Boobookitty*

    OP #3, I don’t know if this is what happened to you, but my first thought was that a reason Dale “said that he didn’t realize how green I was and that the project … was too intense for someone of my skill level” was due to your statement that you “asked tons of questions.” In some workplaces, asking a lot of questions can be disruptive to the other staff who have to stop what they’re working on to try to help you.

    1. Alexis Rose*

      I had the same thought, coupled with the description of staying late, arriving early, not taking full lunches.

      I interviewed students a LOT at a previous job and every time one of them said this to me (usually when I asked something like “why should we hire you”), I would take them aside after the interview, whether I hired them or not, and said that it was not a normal professional expectation that someone work themselves into the ground and burn out in order to “prove” themselves. As long as they were meeting their goals and expectations and being up front with supervisors if there were any problems, that is all I would ever expect anyone to do. Take your breaks. Work your hours, don’t wait to be “dismissed”. It doesn’t make someone sound dedicated, it makes them sound naive and out of touch with workplace norms, probably indicating that they are very new/inexperienced or have internalized weird office dynamics from previous jobs that will have to be unlearned.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      It’s tricky, because in any functional workplace, some level above 0 of asking questions is desirable. But in any of those, you can find the person so determinedly clueless, or so incapable of retaining information, or so scared of messing up if they don’t quadruplecheck that each small piece is just like it was all the other times, that they cause their questionees to tear their hair out and conclude that hiring someone with less questions might save the sanity of the entire office.

  15. Czhorat*

    I contacted two people on LinkedIn during my last job search – one was somebody whose posts I’ve interacted with a few times but didn’t really know that well. I saw him online and asked him if they possibly had an opening for someone who does what I do.

    The other was a high-ranked partner in a firm I was interested in. I added him cold, then introduced myself and asked the same question.

    Both lead to interviews, and the first is now my grand-boss. It worked for me

    Some tips for your wife:

    1) ask friends in your network who are adjacent to these positions. If you want to be an alpaca groomer, talk to vendors if alpaca sheers and shampoo. They night one the players and can maybe help point you at who you can bother, even if they can’t make an introduction. If they can make an introduction, all the better.

    2) if your industry is one with lots of active folk on LinkedIn, be active yourself. Join the discussion. Even if nobody “important” comments, you never know who sees you. I’ve gotten real life comments on online discussions from some high-level professionals who I had no idea were listening. This also makes the messages less “cold”

    3) a variation on 2, but be sure to interact with people and content when there isn’t anything in it for you. Don’t online-stalk the firm where you want to work – join the community. Answer other peopi questions.

    4) politics. Some people keep their politics very much separate from their online persona, some of us wear them on our sleeves. Decide where you want to be, but know that a strong polical stance might close doors. (I am outwardly, unashamedly political in work-adjacent onliy communities. Everyone knows my politics, but it’s easier as a straight white cisgender man).

    5) be very careful of appearing harsh or critical to others in your industry – that can close doors.

    Social media is a tool; I’d encourage her to use it, but to be sure she’s using it well and in a targeted manner. Last point, and most direct to the question: be targeted. You can oft tell from a title who the person is to speak with, but also ask. I have asked a variation of “I am really interested in your firm. Who is to right person to talk to about need hearder opportunities there?” If you’re lucky, the answer is “me”. If not, it could at least point you to a specific person.

    Good luck.

    1. Jedi Squirrel*

      I second all of this, especially #2.

      As a scientist, OP’s wife probably does a lot of writing. A few posts on Instagram about the state of the research (written in a non-partisan, non-commercial way) would probably do a lot more good than just randomly spamming people.

    2. MissDisplaced*

      I’m kind of mixed on the cold contacting on LinkedIn for jobs. I think you really have to know your industry.
      People do this to me all the time, but then I handle the communications and social for my team and don’t mind it at all as long as it’s not too salesy and it’s just ONCE. It’s my job to direct people to the right representative or department if it’s not my team. If someone is job hunting, I usually refer them to the corporate job board, as that’s still the process regardless, but if the inquiry is related to my team, I might give the managers a shout to check out the person’s profile.

      But again, some fields would frown on cold contacting and also some countries would find it very rude. I personally have never got a job or interview that way, but people do look at my profile and recruiters have contacted me, usually with things that aren’t even related to my field!

  16. Work the Issue*

    It is actually quite common where I work for people to go by a name that doesn’t match one for one with their first name. The convention we use is to put your preferred name in quotes after your first name so it would be:
    Katherine “KC” Mulberry.

  17. 867-5309*

    OP #4, I’m a Jennifer Brown and identifies as CIS, straight female. Someone called me JB and I LOVED it also, so now that’s how I sign my emails (/Jb) and introduce myself. It’s a not big deal when someone calls me Jennifer but it’s kind of stuck for me. Being a “Jennifer,” people often ask if I prefer “Jennifer” or “Jen” and that gives me an opening to mention it. Now others introduce me that way Good luck!

    1. CupcakeCounter*

      My initials are BJ so that went down well in high school…
      I do not go by BJ

  18. gecko*

    OP 1, I confess I might not trust or want Billy to do the uninviting, and if you do ask them to uninvite Gabby, you’ll probably want to give a deadline: “could you talk to her tomorrow?”

    If you’re the one to talk to her, I’d give the crew a heads up that you’re doing it, and tell Gabby, “I’m afraid there’s no room for you to join at this point,” or if there clearly is, “This is awkward, you’re really cool, but I think I’d prefer if you sat out this beach weekend—I want to make sure that you, Goat, and Gruff wouldn’t have to be on your ‘best behavior.’ I’m sorry to ask it!”

    1. Akcipitrokulo*

      She asked his opinion. Not sure where thinking she’s answerable to him comes from.

    2. Jam Tomorrow*

      This is what you got from the letter? You read I love my wife and want her to be happy and ended up here? Really?

      1. Czhorat*

        One could give OP2 credit for writing to seek confirmation of their assumptions; rather than just tell their wife “no, you’re doing it wrong” they’re reaching out to an expert to confirm that their instinct is right and that the wife is harming her search.

        (we also shoudln’t assume that OP2 is male, unless they said so and I missed it)

      2. Robin*

        No, I read My wife disagrees with my opinion about her behaviour, and I see this as a big enough deal to write to a problem page. Red flag.

        1. londonedit*

          Wow…I read ‘My wife insists on conducting her job search in a way that I’m convinced is at best a waste of energy and at worst might actually be damaging her job prospects. Am I off-base on this? Can someone with professional experience weigh in? I don’t know how to convince her that this might not be the best approach’. This isn’t the husband who resigned on his wife’s behalf, this is someone saying ‘I think this is weird; my wife disagrees. Alison, you’re an expert on this – which one of us is right? And if I’m right, what can I say to my wife to stop her wasting her time like this?’

          1. valentine*

            He’s wanting to help her stop self-sabotaging. This isn’t like the guy who quit for his wife, though she told him not to, and whom he didn’t consider a professional and only supported working weekends, even if the weekdays were just during training.

            1. NotAnotherManager!*

              Exactly. Job searching can be very fraught and job searching for two years is beyond demoralizing and stressful. Being under that pressure for that long can lead to making less-than-idea decisions. The letter clearly asks “was *I* incorrect” not “is my wife a loon with no concept of professional norms?”. It’s really tough to watch your loved ones struggle, and it’s even harder to watch them make the situation worse.

              Also, Alison tackles work-related problems big and small, and writing her isn’t a red flag that something is egregiously wrong. Just yesterday, there was an intern asking for advice on email contents. Part of the beauty of her site is the range of questions addressed.

        2. Trek*

          So if it was a wife who wrote in who disagreed with husband’s opinion you’d be fine with it, right? Talk about inventing an issue where none existed by drawing conclusions and ignoring statements that did not support those conclusions that were included in the original letter.

        3. LGC*

          …whoo boy. I wouldn’t call this site a “problem page” – people DO write in about capital P problems (like bosses who make them wear their old clothes, try to force feed them leftovers, and threaten to fire them when they fall through a subway grate and break a couple of ribs the day before), but it’s really an advice site.

          For some reason, you assume LW2 is trying to berate his wife into his viewpoint and chose to embarrass her in this way. If I were you, I’d ask myself what leads you to that conclusion.

          (And yes, I’m gendering the LW, but that’s the smallest issue here.)

            1. LGC*

              Well, I meant that Robin was framing it like people only write in to AAM about major issues and arguments, and that if you’re writing in there must be something terribly wrong.

              (Maybe I’m reading too much into their response. I suspect I’m not, based on this thread.)

        4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          People write in for advice for their friends all the time to get a third POV. You must have been surrounded by unhealthy relationships if this is a flag of anything other than gathering additional data points for his wife for something that effects her livelihood.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            My husband (who manages) does not read the site, but occasionally asks me if something relevant to a work problem has come up.

            It’s totally normal to ask Alison for advice on behalf of someone who respects your opinion–spouse, child, parent, friend. That your acquaintance is job searching wrong is not your problem, but it affects you if it’s your financial partner.

        5. Ask a Manager* Post author

          People write in for people in their lives all the time — women somewhat more than men, actually. There’s no red flag in trying to understand if your advice to someone is good or not.

    3. lawschoolmorelikeblawschool*

      Things OP2 did not say: “I will take your response and force my wife to follow my instructions” and “I’m a man”

  19. Nye*

    Re #5, 2 months is not necessarily that long to wait to hear about a position in academia. (Though they should have responded briefly to your emails!) That sounds like a situation where either the department had a terrible time scheduling meetings to discuss / make a decision, or you were a good choice but not the top choice. In the latter, they’d typically keep your file active until they hear from their top choice candidate. Again, still doesn’t excuse the radio silence, but to me it suggests that you were probably given serious consideration.

    Either way, Alison’s advice is spot-on. You might also add that you’re excited to be in your current department because of the opportunities for cross-disciplinary collaboration, or some version of that appropriate to your field. If they offered in 2 weeks, they clearly loved you, so great to reinforce that you’re happy to be there!

    1. LetterWriter#5*

      I think I just really hate ghosting at the point of interviews and beyond and it’s frustrating that the topic/department is brought up a lot. I’m going to try some of the proposed scripts and see how they go.

      1. Nye*

        Yeah, I’d suggest just replying briefly and positively about how you’re excited to be in your department because of X. I’d be up front about having met people in your prior interview, too, if you run into them. Academic hiring is super-weird, but academics know that. And really, if anything the first department should be embarrassed that they didn’t reply to your emails (though they probably won’t be).

  20. Tess*

    OP4: Academia is a weird, sometimes cultish place. Encountering someone from a search committee who wined and dined you on a campus visit and then, six months later, pretends you don’t exist is pretty normal. And people outside academia just don’t get the weirdness of the job cycle. When people ask just say “the job market in Handle Theory is very tight, but I’m excited to be working on projects in Lids.” To suggestions that you should collaborate / socialize with Handles just say “Oh yeah, that would be great. It’s an interesting field” and let it go. To the jerks in Handles, I honestly would just let it go if you don’t actually plan to get back into that field. Like a bad blind date. I’m sorry that happened to you. I’ve been there.

    1. LetterWriter#5*

      One of the problems is that it is a field I want to get back into. I know that it isn’t personal but it makes me reluctant to interact with that department even though it’s professionally a good idea/necessary. I’m not good at the “put on a happy face” but I think that confronting them or bringing it up is the worst possible idea so I will soldier on. Maybe just introduce myself as if we’ve never met, haha.

      1. Nye*

        Maybe it would help to keep in mind that departments aren’t monoliths. Just because you got ghosted (probably by HR or one person on the search committee), doesn’t mean that everyone in that department made the choice not to reply to your email. Probably most of them would be horrified to know their department left a candidate hanging like that. And almost certainly a bunch of them genuinely liked you and thought you were great, and would be happy to chat / collaborate / etc.

  21. LGC*

    I am glad that this set of letters is…much less contentious/bonkers than the previous letters this week.


    LW1: As someone who is also in Gabby’s general demographic (30s, friendly, fun, lively, more than a bit socially oblivious) – I would personally be mortified to be invited to an employee beach weekend. I’m not as concerned with Goat and Gruff as I’d be with Gabby‘s reputation in this case – yeah, she’s already been out drinking with you guys, but what if she does something reckless or embarrassing?

    Honestly, I agree that Billy should be the one to let Gabby down ideally (although you can probably be the bad guy if you need to) – and if she holds it against Goat and Gruff, that reflects far more on her than it does on them. Ideally, Billy (or you) should take the fall – so Billy might say, “Hey, I thought about it and I’m not sure it’d be comfortable for G&G to have their boss there – sorry about that.” (And you might use a variant of that – like, “Hey, Billy and I talked, and we thought it’d be awkward for Goat and Gruff to invite their boss.”) I’m not sure if there is a way to phrase it that sounds completely like what it is – that you’re disinviting Gabby because of the work relationship and not at all because she’s a hosebeast (which she’s not!), so you might be best off just being upfront about it.

    LW4: I’ve never heard the expression “wallet name” before, but I like that!

    Anyway. So, I’m a cis guy (so I definitely am not qualified to talk about gender politics), but my first name is something that I have Feelings about. Like, I’ll tolerate my full (relatively short) first name, but I hate the common contraction of it. (To my credit, I have never written a “Who is Liz?!” email, and do not intend on doing so.) My first team lead started calling me by the first letter of my name, and I liked that.

    I also rarely use my “official” email signature – only for the first message in outgoing email chains, basically.

    So, the way I do things is as follows:
    – In most of my emails, I’ll sign with either the first letter of my name (D, in this case) or my full name (something like Daniel). I never sign “Dan” or “Danny.” I will politely correct anyone who refers to me as such by saying, “Thanks, but I prefer Daniel.”
    – In my official signature, I’ll have the way I’d like to be professionally referred to written down. So something like “Daniel Peabody.”

    In your case, I’d adjust Alison’s proposed signature to combine the “KC/Katherine” lines to “KC (Katherine) Mulberry” – in my opinion, that would emphasize that you are KC even if your legal name is Katherine. (Although this can be confusing! Some people might put their nicknames in parentheses instead, so “Katherine (KC) Mulberry.”)

  22. Business Socks*

    OP #5 – A very similar situation happened to my wife years ago when she was starting out as a therapist. She went through a major, well known (in the field) certification program where she worked for essentially peanuts for two years to obtain her various licenses and such. People who go through this program with this large practice almost always end up continuing to work with the practice for at least a few years after completion, because even though they take a large chunk of your earnings, their high profile means you have a steady flow of clients.

    My wife completed the program and officially requested to stay on, and heard nothing for weeks. Contacts she knew kept telling her to wait, that they would reach out to her eventually, etc. Offers were made to some of her colleagues who had also gone through the program, which was devastating to her. In the meantime, she got another offer from a smaller private practice in the same city. She was wary, as she didn’t know the woman who ran this practice and she seemed a little quirky, but we needed the money so she took the job. She didn’t hear anything from the larger practice, they just completely ghosted her.

    Fast forward to years later. After a rough start the small practice ended up being a great fit for her, both in terms of earnings and professional growth.
    She’d reached a point where would have definitely moved on from the larger practice anyway. Her reputation in the field is such that the larger practice reached out to her to help with some seminars they were holding. (This is common, they will have former associates do this.) Despite her negative feelings about the larger practice, she agreed because it’s easy money and good for building name recognition. After the third or fourth time doing this, she was chatting with someone who had been one of her supervisors during the program, who told her how crazy things were at the larger practice and how under-staffed they were, and how tough it was to find quality people. Then she told my wife something to the effect of “it’s really a shame you didn’t want to stay with us after you finished your certification.” My wife was floored. When she explained that she had, in fact, wanted to stay on, the former supervisor was dumbfounded and couldn’t think of any explanation why she hadn’t been hired.

    It turns out that hiring at this practice was so haphazard and chaotic they most likely just lost her application, and when my wife had followed up with them the overworked HR staff just kept delaying because they had already hired too many people in the meantime.

    I’ve never worked in HR or any hiring capacity, but the impression I get is that it’s often like other aspects of a large business, and sometimes huge decisions are made for arbitrary or frivolous reasons and you can’t take it personally.

  23. Samwise*

    OP #5: do NOT, at all ever, say or imply or even joke that the Teapot Handle folks ghosted you. You’re already in academia, you should know that searches can take forever, and not just for faculty / tenure track positions. I’m in a non-faculty academic dept, and our *fast* hires are three months from posting to announcing the name of the new hire. This is not at all unusual. Even joking about it is going to make you look you look kind of clueless and the Handle people are not going to feel happy about it (the length of the search no doubt was frustrating to them, too).

    Use Alison’s script — it’s perfect (as always!).

    1. Business Socks*

      I’ve never worked in academia but I love how “that’s academia” is essentially the work-world version of “forget it Jake, it’s Chinatown!”

      1. LetterWriter#5*

        It really is. Someone was fired at a university I was working at and a coworkers response was “Did they kill someone while having sex with a student and embezzling money? At literally the same time?”

  24. staceyizme*

    OP- If you are certain that the lady was invited, then all you should do is honor the invitation. It’s on Billy that he asked a friend who supervises two others. Gabby could also be considered clueless in this instance. In any large group, however, there may be some hierarchy to manage. So Goat and Gruff don’t get as loose with booze and behaviors? It’s an inconvenience, no more. Gabby is also presumably old enough to accept that the distinction between “work-appropriate” and “weekend” is going to be smudged on this particular weekend. None of the objections rises to the level of disinviting someone. THAT would be a social and professional faux pas. Going forward? Yes, definitely keep control of your guest list so that you can watch out for blind spots. Having one supervisor-also-friend party with you for a weekend? Not ideal. Also not a big deal. It’s workable.

    1. Coffee and Cake*

      3 of the 4 people planning and paying for the event are uncomfortable with Gabbys presence there, and will not get to do what they had planned which is presumably the reason they are paying for the event. So unless billy wants to reimburse the other three the invitation needs to be rescinded based on Billy’s ignorance.

        1. CupcakeCounter*

          Why should they cancel a planned event and potentially lose $$ because of one big mouth?
          OP stated in several replies early on that it isn’t just the 4 of them going but a large group of their other (non-work) friends and SO’s so cancelling the event would ruin the plans of many people. Just to be “polite” to someone who really should know better.
          Nope…Billy needs to bite the bullet and tell Gabby that he invited her without thinking through the power dynamics and he is sorry but it isn’t going to work out for her to come to the beach blowout. Then plan a happy hour or something with her and some other people at that level (i.e. not Goat & Gruff).

          1. OP1*

            Yeah, there are a about 14 of us currently RSVPd, with several other people marked as “maybes,” and the house has a pretty lousy cancellation policy. We’re definitely going. The four (five?) of us are the only co-workers, so everyone else is spared the drama.

        2. StaceyIzMe*

          That is always a valid option when something goes really whacky with an event, such as an undesired guest(s) being added to the list due to someone being overly enthusiastic with their discussions/ “sharing” about said event. You cancel the planned event and reconvene it later under a different label/ date, which allows for the guest list to be modified. Too bad this house doesn’t have a good cancellation policy It leaves some unpalatable options on the table. I hope OP1 gets back to us with an update and that it all sorts itself out well for them!

        3. fhqwhgads*

          They should cancel a vacation involving 14 other people because Billy erroneously invited 1?

    2. Marthooh*

      “You should all just grit your teeth and go through with it. The upside is, you’ll always have something to throw in Billy’s face during future arguments.”

    3. mananana*

      This is not about being “inconvenienced.” There are a slew of issues with blurring the professional boundaries, which I won’t re-hash as other commenters (and Alison) have already enumerated them.

      Additionally, this can hamper Gabby’s ability to effectively manage. Having her there is bad news all the way around.

    4. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      I mean, if it was a dinner party, maybe. But this is a bit more extensive.

  25. Ree*

    OP4, you could do what one person in my office does – for some reason when he started he didn’t tell anyone he went by his middle name, so his email is his first name_last name instead of middle name_last name.
    Anyway, his signature says John “Henry” Jones and everyone calls him Henry. It works! We all say “Henry Jones” instead of “John Jones, but he goes by Henry”

  26. Jennifer*

    Did you tell everyone you were certain you were getting the job? It seems that’s the impression they have. This reminds me of back when I was dating. When I was seeing someone new, I kept the info I shared with my friends to a minimum because they would have us engaged and wedding planning if I shared too much. The constant questions were so annoying. If that kind of thing annoys you too, when you find yourself in this position again, keep the info to a minimum. Just my suggestion.

  27. Heidi*

    Hi OP1. I’m sorry that you’re stuck being the voice of reason in this situation. I would probably approach Gabby myself in this case since Billy doesn’t sound like he can be trusted. The discussion would have the following themes:
    1. I’m sorry that you were put in this position. We like you. We really do!
    2. However, inviting you to our bacchanal really crossed the line in terms of professional boundaries. It puts you (Gabby) in a position that undermines the professional relationship with your reports, and Billy should not have done it. (Billy is asking for a good bus throwing, in my opinion.)
    3. I feel awful for even asking, but you would be doing us a great favor if you didn’t come.

    1. Forrest Rhodes*

      This is a great approach. I think it’s particularly reasonable and rational that #2 focuses not on whether G&G would be uncomfortable but rather on Gabby’s attendance possibly weakening her position as G&G’s manager.

  28. PersephoneUnderground*

    OP#2 – If your wife wants to approach people via LinkedIn, it’s best to use classic networking to build a network overall, then when she’s interested in a certain company she should search her existing first and second degree connections to see if she knows anyone there already, or knows someone who can introduce her to a connection of theirs at that company. It’s still pretty awkward initially, but you can approach them first with an explanation of how you’re connected and it’s much better than a totally cold approach. I have successfully had coffee (he actually suggested it when I had real substantive questions about the place he worked that would be easier to address in person) with a second degree connection at a company I was interested in. It didn’t immediately get me a job but was a really good informational interview that taught me a lot about that sector of the industry, and he also connected me with another position he thought I’d be a good fit for. I got a new position since but now have a decent connection where I didn’t before that I plan to maintain.

    I also second Alison’s advice to reexamine what went wrong at the offer stages- it’s easy to reinforce each other’s beliefs as a couple and you can’t really be objective about if the requests were reasonable when it’s your wife involved. Are there Women in ______ associations she can join and use for advice on these matters? (In science I’m sure there are, and even she may already be a member but not using them as much as she could.) Those tend to be really useful sources, including things like sharing salary data and if/how much you should negotiate an offer. They’re invested in each other’s success but much more objective than family can be. Also a better source for connections than cold networking.

  29. Karen*

    Our academic department has a non-binary person that sent out an email that asked to be known as K instead of her deadname. So far everyone has been very happy to comply- even the they/them pronouns!

  30. Squirrel*

    OP #4 – I have been in this exact situation. If you have a team or colleagues that you work closely with and trust, I would suggest that you explicitly ask you to call them KC. You can casually tell them at the end of a meeting or coffee break or whatever. This has two benefits: 1) you start getting called KC more often immediately, since your closest colleagues are clued in, and 2) your colleagues can explain it to their colleagues, so the message spreads while reducing the number of times you personally have to explain it.
    Beyond your close team, I think Alison’s suggested passive method is the way to go. Signing emails as KC, introducing yourself that way, etc. When I first made the switch, I would introduce myself as “Katherine, but I go by KC” which I think made it clear and eased the transition. Now I just introduce myself as KC.
    Also, having been there/done that, it worked for me not to make this about gender at all. I simply explained that I had a name I preferred and wanted to be called by at work. I think a lot of folks have an easier time understanding and respecting a nickname than understanding and respecting trans/enby identity. Which sucks, but in this situation can help them get on board with the change you want.
    Good luck!

  31. Phillip*

    3. I’ve twice had a position “created just for me” and in both cases I was laid off within a few months. Which makes sense if you think about it, if they had a real need the position would have already existed.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      On the flip side. Everyone I’ve known who had the role created for them stayed extra long term. One of which is ultra high paying given their credentials.

      It depends on the company. It’s growth vs its perceived growth or if they stretch budgets razor thin or not.

    2. Anon for Now*

      We’ve created positions just for someone before, and it’s worked out well. But, in every single case, we were understaffed and we need we had work for that person to do. So we end up creating a position we probably wouldn’t have created exactly that way had we developed the position description first.

    3. Jennifer Thneed*

      Disagree. Businesses grow and change, or at least they should, just like people do. So a true need might be both new and real. From what I read here, the hiring process is awful and I can see just putting it off for awhile but then you realize that you’ve got the right candidate literally falling into your lap, s0 you at least don’t have to advertise and read resumes and you might as well talk to the right person about getting a new position created.

  32. Anon for Now*

    #2 – I would highly recommend that your wife and you review your expectations for any new job.

    If your wife has received multiple offers and they’ve fallen apart, then I do think that her and your expectations may need to be realigned. And there are many requests that are reasonable requests, but are requests that simply cannot be accommodated by the employer for a whole number of reasons. For example, my organization won’t deviate from the vacation levels published in our staff manual. So if someone asks for an extra week of vacation a year, the answer will always be no.

    I also think it’s important to determine if during the negotiation your wife is trying negotiate too many things. Because while individual requests may not be unreasonable (the extra week of vacation, increasing the salary, other perks, etc.), the combination of multiple reasonable requests may seem unreasonable to the employer.

    1. Coffee and Cake*

      She also may be interviewing with several other equally qualified candidates that are not requesting additional things. We had this with hiring a programmer there were several good candidates that were almost equal so we went with the one that didn’t negotiate for more.

    2. Old Biddy*

      I am a scientist in a pharma-adjacent field, and I side-eyed this comment too. If the salary was worse than the temp job is paying, or there is a long commute, then her reasons are perfectly fine. But something about the way it was worded made it sound like she was asking for more flexibility than is common in the industry.
      In any case, while constant cold-emailing is bad, I don’t mind the inquiries from people in my field, e.g. “hey, I’m interested in your company – can you keep me in mind if you have an opening” Sometimes we had very short notice about openings and it was nice to have a few people in mind to contact.

  33. Kix*

    Ugh, as a boss, I would be very uncomfortable attending a rowdy beach weekend with my direct reports. If I was invited to such an event, I would graciously decline. This is a good time for Gabby to learn boundaries, and to gracefully bow out.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Agreed. And I have become friends with my former reports in the end but during our time working together, that was never going to happen.

      And Becky gets very rowdy on beach weekends, I’m a chucklehead on my time off. I’m talking about a case of fortified wine to make slushies out of, trashed. I like to shed my boss/proper self at the door at the office door after work is over.

    2. Blarg*

      Seriously, why does Gabby think it is a good idea to attend, even with Billy, who isn’t her direct underling but she’s still a manager and he’s not.

      I just left a job with a boss who is my age, and who has great boundaries. We would have been friends but for the professional relationship. Now that I’ve moved on … we are becoming buddies. Who don’t talk about work. It’s kind of awesome.

      1. MissDisplaced*

        It read to me that Gabby might not be entirely sure of what transpires… because she was reaching out to OP with questions about the trip. So, it’s possible she has an inkling she shouldn’t go. It could have been presented to her by Billy that was more tame.

        If she wasn’t the manager of Goat and Gruff, it probably wouldn’t even be a problem. But unfortunately, you can’t really be friends with your boss like that.

  34. Argh!*

    LW 5: You can simply say you wanted to explore teapots from a different angle (which seems to be actually true from what you say). Those who are in your current area are also interested in their area (presumably), so they would also (presumably) appreciate someone else who is interested. I do wonder if they’re saying that because you talk alot about handles or your previous jobs. If you can squelch the temptation to mention those things, that might help them see you in light of your current role.

    I hope you check back in with us, since a lot of are looking at lateral moves or career changes. It would be good to know how the adjustment period goes from here on.

  35. Clever Name*

    #4: I go by an uncommon diminutive of my common first name. I’ve never gone by my legal first name, but it’s on all of my official documents. My email signature and business cards all have my nickname on it. When I’m job searching, I list my name as: Firstname “Nickname” Lastname I patterned it after seeing a male colleague who goes by Bobby rather than Robert handle it this way. I’ve never had any confusion handling it this way. I also have several coworkers who go by their middle names, and they just put their middle name on all their unofficial stuff too.

    By the way, it sounds like your coworkers correctly read your gender-neutral vibe and found a nickname that fits YOU, and I think that’s totally rad.

  36. Lora*

    OP2: Am in pharma. You are correct in your assessment that cold calling people on LinkedIn is not a good move. I get a LOT of these and ignore every blessed one.

    Here is what WOULD be helpful to her: Find an ISPE chapter (they let scientists in too, not just engineers), or a WEST or AWIS chapter and join that. Go to the meetings, participate, network, have a beer with people, chat, get to know people, help with organizing meetings and tours and events. Get an idea of what is realistic for a salary and what openings might be available, and talk to people about those options – who is the hiring manager, what is the culture like.

  37. WinnaPig*

    OP1: Of course, putting on my supervisor’s hat, if I am told I should not attend I am immediately wondering what staff will be getting up to and whether or not I will have to deal with booze-fueled fall-out in my workplace at some point in the future…. as per the guy who got drunk at a wedding a couple of weeks ago. I have never worked anywhere that drinking to drunkenness would be discussed openly, so my viewpoint may be limited, but I would be concerned if I had to deal with this information. If I am not invited in the first place then I can pretend I don’t know anything and only deal with what follows, if anything.

    1. ChimericalOne*

      That’s an overreaction, IMO. Most adults can get intoxicated on a Saturday without punching someone, sexually assaulting someone, or otherwise causing so much chaos that there’s “fallout” on Monday (and also without making a habit of getting crazy drunk). For all we know, G&G just don’t want Gabby to hear them making profanity-laced jokes or risking a horrifying “wardrobe malfunction” (not unheard of when you’re talking bikinis & swim trunks — I’ve seen more than I expected to of some friends!), or any number of fairly innocent (but unprofessional) things.

      1. WinnaPig*

        Oh, probably. I just have a “what are the risks?” sort of brain. I don’t like being where people are drinking to excess (whatever that means) so I personally would feel uncomfortable as time wore on, too.

    2. LGC*

      Eh, tossing on my own supervisor hat, I’d tend towards willful blindness even if I knew about the shenanigans. The drunken wedding fight was an extreme case, and should be uncommon in most all work environments. Plus, in this case everyone is an adult and I believe that unless there’s clear and direct danger it’s not my job to step into out of work situations.

      Besides, the direct problem wasn’t that the guy got extremely drunk at the wedding. It was that he punched out the groom, who happened to be his coworker.

  38. Gadget Hackwrench*

    KC, I don’t know if it would be too strange for you, but when I decided to start going by letters, for the same reason, I actually sent a group e-mail to my department with a “courtesy heads up” saying I was going to start using that name with people who called me for IT support, so if anyone has users looking for GH that’s me. They all switched pretty immediately. If you have a customer facing job of any kind, switching how you introduce yourself to those you serve, or how you answer the phone will get the picture across.

  39. Trisha*

    “Sorry Gabby, it looks like it just won’t be possible for you to join this trip. Hey, we’re getting together at Phil’s for drinks after work on Thursday – would you like to join us there?”

    You’re probably putting more thought and worry into this than she is.

  40. Canonical23*

    OP #4 I’m not really out at work and generally present as a woman with masculine clothing tastes. I go by a gender neutral nickname (think on the lines of Joe as short for Josephine), and before I started just actually putting the nickname on my resume and pushing to be called Joe from the start, there was always a somewhat awkward transition out of the formal interviewing persona – Josephine in a suit with heels – to something closer to what I am in my personal life.

    Some general tips:
    – When people call you your full name, just joke “I really don’t use that name outside of formal events. Call me [nickname].”
    – If you have business cards, the next time you need them printed, just change it to your nickname or [firstname] “[nickname]” [last name]
    – Definitely change your email signature like Alison suggested, and if it’s possible, change the name associated with your email account

    As long as you take a low key approach to it, most people don’t generally wonder why you’re doing it. They just assume that you go by the nickname in your personal life and that you want to just make things easier and do that across the board.

  41. Tupac Coachella*

    OP #4 turned out to be the sleeper letter for me-I expected to be fascinated by Beach House Boss, but I found question 4 so thought provoking! FWIW, I have a coworker who I literally would have thought was OP, except they’ve been going by the gender-neutral nickname since long before I met them and I would guess long before they worked here. If some coworkers already call you “KC,” it will probably seem really normal and natural that you encourage everyone to call you the same thing rather than half of your colleagues calling you one thing and the other half calling you something different. I doubt they’ll read anything into it beyond what you’re ready to share, which is that you prefer this nickname now.

    So here’s why I was so interested: this letter put a big neon sign on my hidden assumption that nonbinary=androgynous presentation (I would call our KC’s presentation female, but it’s fairly quirky and has an androgynous flair, so could easily just be “wears what they like, likes both dresses and pants”). I didn’t even realize I was making that assumption. You learn something new every day around here!

  42. Beezus*

    We have a few people with the same first name in my department and one decided it’d be easier to go by her first and middle initial (LC) and we all call her that and she uses it and her first name only interchangeably on calls and stuff and signs her emails with her full name. She’s not non-binary that I know about, but literally no one batted an eye that she decided to go by LC. I say go for it OP! People will adapt if you’re just straightforward about it.

  43. MissDisplaced*

    #1 I loved that story of Billy, Goat and Gruff and Gabby!
    Yeah… Gabby cannot come on THIS trip. It sounds like maybe Gabby already understands (or suspects) about that if she’s reaching out to you for “details” about the beach getaway. It might be easier than you think.

    I think you need to have a talk with Billy, who kind of screwed this up, and now needs to dis-invite Gabby from the rowdy beach vacay because of concerns that she is the manager of Goat and Gruff and that it’s not a good idea to vacation with one’s supervisor. If Billy is unwilling to do so, you might have to be the bad goat here and inform Gabby yourself why this is not a great idea, and then Gabby can bow-out. If done with tact, and Gabby is a reasonable person, she should understand why those dynamics don’t mix and that this is not in any way a personal slight, but an effort for work and play not mixing.

    There are other things you could all do as a group! Things that don’t involve heavy drinking and naked beach skinny dipping with the boss, so I’d suggest that you mention the group might like to arrange something else in the future that’s fun but more appropriate for all.

  44. Lilysparrow*

    If Billy is truly the kind of person who would badmouth G&G to their boss as “spoilsports,” particularly over a completely non-work-related social event, then you need to take a close look at your friendship & work relationship with Billy.

    Be careful around him. If he pulls crap like that, it will be your turn eventually. Even if it’s just a matter of cluelessness and lack of professional boundaries, with no actual malice.

    You stand next to a shit show long enough, you’re gonna get splashed.

  45. Not One of the Bronte Sisters*

    OP1: I agree that Gabby is giving you an opening. Take it! And I think she sounds like a lot of fun, and somebody who would be totally great to hang out with. But going all “Jersey Shore” with her in the house for a whole weekend–just no. Frankly, I think the worst fallout from this would be to Gabby. To her other reports, this will look like preferential treatment. To her superiors, this will look like bad judgment. And oh my goodness, I can just imagine the rumor mill! I have worked at a lot of places, and I’ve never worked at one that wasn’t like a small town. Please don’t put her in that position.

  46. MT Hammer*

    OP #4,

    As several people commented, signing with your full name and putting your nickname in quotes is a great idea! But Alison’s advice will also work if you prefer that– I can vouch for the effectiveness of signing an email with initials. Because, in addition to frequently firing off emails from the outlook app on my phone, my name is frequently misspelled/people call me by a non-preferred nickname, I frequently sign emails with my first and last initials. I realize it wouldn’t be passive aggressive to sign with the correct spelling of my name, I just kind of prefer it this way. As an unintended (but not at all unwelcome!) consequence, a lot of people have started addressing me as “MT”. I suspect even more people would if I introduced myself as such.

    Either way you choose, congratulations on your new nickname!

  47. KC (OP #4)*

    Hi all! Thank you so much for all your input! I felt a little dumb when I read Alison’s answer – it seems so obvious when somebody else says it! Especially when I realize there are plenty of other IT folks who use different names from what’s listed in our directory, and I can just follow their lead. My favorite one of those is someone whose initials form another, shorter name that he uses instead – think Bruce Oscar Bebbington, but he goes by Bob.

    I’ve already updated my auto-signature to “Katherine (KC) Mulberry” (inside parentheses feels more natural for me) and signed a couple of my tickets today with “KC.” I wasn’t expecting it to feel quite so awesome when the users addressed me as KC in return!

    I’m really enjoying reading all the responses, both from fellow NBs and folks who just don’t use their wallet names for whatever reason. (I’m also delighted that I could introduce this term to some people! I don’t remember where I heard it, but it’s become my go-to.)

  48. future wolfie*

    #1 is the exact plot of an episode of Brooklyn 99!

    (To be clear I’m not accusing the story of being fake, just thought it was funny. It being a sitcom, of course the boss does come to the beach retreat and shenanigans happen)

  49. HereToMakeMoneyNotFriends*

    LW#4: Love Alison’s advice to sign emails with your new nickname. I have a regular customer named William who I want to automatically call Bill or Will (my dad is Bill, brother is Will). He’s forwarded email threads where some people call him Bill and others William. I used William for two years until he started signing his emails as “Bill” (complete signature says William). Now I know his preference and will use it. Simple but easy way to communicate how you’d like to be called.

  50. Noah*

    #4 only works if her last name doesn’t start with “C.” Lots of people who go by their first name sign emails with their initials.

  51. Who Plays Backgammon?*

    LW 3 – Two things come to mind here for me:

    No. 1, Dale is uncomfortable about being in the situation of cutting you loose and wants to make it easier on himself by suggesting he’s not just coldly cutting you loose (as in the person who says “I’ll call you” when they never intend to do so and you’re out of mind as soon as you’re out of sight.)

    No. 2, Dale might foresee needing you in the future and wants you at the ready. Reminds me of a temp job I had after college. When I took my time sheet to the dept. head on my last day, she said they might need me again soon and would I come back. I said of course, if I were available. Before I left, she asked me again and I repeated yes, if I were available. Flash forward a few weeks. The office manager requested me back and got miffed when told I was working elsewhere, because, she said, I’d told her I’d come back. I told the agency I was clear that I’d like to return IF available, so no difficulty with them, but it really shows how some employers take for granted that a temp or freelancer is at their beck and call.

  52. Paisana*

    I work at an investment fund. We have hired people who have cold-emailed us on LinkedIn.

  53. lurker_variable*

    OP#2 I’m late to the party so not sure if you’ll see this, but I had to echo Alison about aligning expectations. I work in pharma and started as a contractor, and when I converted to FTE my salary “hourly pay” was a substantial reduction from my contract hourly pay (>15%) because the company was then paying for healthcare, vacation, 401k matching, etc. The cost of health insurance alone made it worth it for me, but I know people who prefer to work as contractors, with the higher hourly pay, because they can get insurance through their spouse. If salary was (one of) the issue with the offer, it is likely because salaried employees are paid less due to the cost of all the other benefits.

    1. NotAnotherManager!*

      This is a great point. I have a friend who is a long-term contract IT project manager because the rate of pay is so much higher, and they only need health insurance for themselves, not a family. Several companies have tried to hire them, but it would be both a rate cut AND an exempt position, so it hasn’t been worth their while.

      But hourly contractor pay is often much higher than employee pay because the contractor has to cover taxes and benefits themselves.

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