open thread – July 12-13, 2019

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

* If you submitted a question to me recently, please do not repost it here, as it may be in my queue to answer.

{ 2,200 comments… read them below }

  1. Peaches*

    Hi all!
    I know some of you have been keeping up with my posts about my terrible old coworker who got fired, but was staying during her notice period. Then, she ended up staying a week and a half AFTER the new coworker started and was “training” her. Finally, her last day was last Wednesday, and I’m glad to be on the other side of her presence here. Since she left, new coworker has been doing well. She seems smart, willing to listen, asks good questions, etc. She has done a lot of webinars with our corporate trainers and seems to have learned a lot already.

    However…there is a slight issue that I don’t know whether I should bring up or not. Per company policy, our dress is business causal Monday-Thursday, with jeans being allowable on Fridays. For some reason, new coworker has been wearing jeans every day since old coworker departed. It’s weird, because her first week and a half here with old coworker, she wasn’t wearing jeans Monday-Thursday.

    Our office is small, and her boss is pretty hands off, so I am quite certain no one would tell her that she can’t wear jeans every day if I didn’t. At the same time, I’m her peer, and don’t know if it’s my place to say something. I just feel uncomfortable bringing it up. My other concern is that she’s wearing jeans because she can’t find any work pants to fit her (she is a woman who is about 6’4-6’5…definitely the tallest woman I’ve ever seen!) When she first started and was wearing pants, I did notice they were highwaters on her. Her jeans, however, are not highwaters. It’s odd to me that she continues wearing them throughout the week when it can easily be noted that everyone else is wearing pants, skirts, dresses, etc.

    Any advice?

    1. government worker*

      I’d let it go. She may have permission, who knows? It doesn’t affect you at all and it’s not worth getting into.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        I was about to say that. She may have made arrangements with her boss for an accommodation. I’d let it go.

    2. Cinna214*

      I appreciate that you want to help the new person succeed, but this is not your business. You don’t know what type of arrangement she has with her boss and you should let it go.

      1. Cucumber Water*

        Yes, get back in your lane what other people wear to work is not your business. You don’t want to be known as the Dress code police.

        *** On a side note my husband is interviewing for a position and the Po Po Ho (Dress code police I worked with 8 years ago) has applied and he thinks he may not be able to interview her because he now remembers who she is and knows we all called her the Po Po Ho and he doesn’t know if he can do the interview and call her by her name. 8 years and I still hate her for telling on me for wearing Sandals.

        1. Hiring needs a selling edge*

          It’s super crappy when a colleague goes to the boss about your dress, rather than saying something to you in kindness. Comes off as a power play against new workers who might not have the funds available to buy new gear. I’ve been there over boots.

    3. Choux*

      I don’t know that you can say anything. It’s her boss’s place to have that conversation with her.

      1. Antilles*

        This, exactly. If you were her manager or clearly higher in the chain-of-command, it’d be acceptable to point out that she’s a little out of sync with company norms…but not as a peer.

    4. MusicWithRocksInIt*

      If no one in management would ever tell her she can’t wear jeans every day… is it really true she can’t wear jeans everyday? Or is it just out of sync with company culture? Is there are good reason not to wear jeans (customer contact for example) or it it just an arbitrary unspoken rule? If you started to wear jeans everyday would anyone say something to you? I feel like I would leave this alone, unless you also want to wear jeans, in which case talk to your manager and ask if you can start to wear them too.

      1. Peaches*

        It’s specifically noted in our company handbook that business casual (no jeans) is the dress code Monday-Thursday, and jeans are acceptable on Friday.

        1. Angelinha*

          But if it’s true that no one except you would ever say anything to her, it sounds like in practice, it’s not actually the company policy. I would take this as a sign that you could wear jeans too, if you wanted to!

          1. Peaches*

            Haha, I’ve honestly thought about it before. I am very certain no one would say anything if I started wearing jeans every single day. Now that this is coming out of my mouth, I feel silly for asking this question. I’m sure my new coworker is fine to wear jeans regardless of what the company handbook says!

            1. Close Bracket*

              I am very certain no one would say anything if I started wearing jeans every single day.

              That’s a bad metric for deciding whether something is acceptable.

              1. Daisy*

                Yeah, but we’re talking clothes here, not… stealing from the cash drawer. Clothes don’t hurt anyone.

                1. Close Bracket*

                  “It’s not stealing from the cash drawer” is also a bad metric for deciding whether something is acceptable. It’s also weirdly escalating to bring up.

              2. Anonomoose*

                It’s served me well. Pointless university admin thing? Is anyone going to say anything to me about it? No? Ok, will get on with useful things.

                Dress code? Anyone going to enforce? No? Ok, will wear what I like, within reason.

                Website style guide violation. Anyone going to enforce it? No, ok, stays like it is.*

                It’s very freeing.

                *The last one was because our Uni’s site style guide was really poor for accessibility. We complained, too.

                1. Close Bracket*

                  “Is anyone going to enforce it” is a much better metric, but still not perfect. “Can I be sure that nobody is reaching BEC with me or storing this up to bring up in my review in six months?” is a pretty good metric.

            2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              You’re not silly! But if you like wearing jeans, I’d be tempted to check with my manager to ask if it would be ok to do so :)

            3. MommyMD*

              I wouldn’t wear jeans just bc she is. I’d just dress the way I usually do and leave it to her to follow the policy. They may something down the line.

        2. NomdePlumage*

          Many companies have policies that they are not strict on enforcing, but rather use as a point of reference if something becomes a problem. It makes it easier to have guidelines to fall back on rather than reset expectations that everyone is used to.

          1. Amethystmoon*

            Ours doesn’t seem to enforce anything, but someone must have annoyed our VP a few months ago, because we all got a blanket “wearing x and y at work is not acceptable, wear z instead” e-mail.

    5. OneMoreAlison*

      I’d lean towards just letting it go. Maybe she had a discussion with her boss about a reason why she needs to wear jeans (though i can’t think of a reason right now). It’s not effecting your work, so is it a big deal?

      1. Alex*

        Surely the fact that her jeans actually fit but she can’t really get other trousers that fit properly due to her height is a good enough reason in itself.

        1. Fortitude Jones*

          Yup. If she came from a workplace where casual was the norm and, thus, only had one pair of (ill-fitting) jeans, she may need time to start earning enough to buy new pants to add to her wardrobe. If I was in that situation, I’d ask my boss for permission to wear jeans too until such time I could afford more pants.

          1. Jedi Librarian*

            That was my problem too when I started at a stricter dress code place. I didn’t have pants cause why spend the money when I didn’t have to? But my boss said no, but maybe her boss said yes. Clothes are expensive and if she’s young or recently finished school or something, buying a pair or two of pants (or skirts or whatever) might be too much.

        2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          This was my first thought – I’m only under 5’9″ (something like 34″ inseam) and, outside of a specific brand of jeans, I could never find a pair of pants that wasn’t too short. Maybe there are designer brands out there that I would have to go into years of debt to buy – I admit I only researched my price range and there’s hardly anything. I cannot begin to imagine how hard it must be to find dress pants that fit if you are 6’4″-6’5″. I bet that was why she was given permission.

          1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

            My suits are made-to-measure, so they fit really well – and not too expensive, i.e. in the same price range as good off-the-rack suits (about $400 – when that looks like a lot, consider that they last many years). I can also easily get a second pair of pants.
            These shops also make pants, skirts, and blazers.
            True bespoke suits are way more expensive ($1000 minimum).
            Maybe made-to-measure pants are an option? For example, sumissura.com does custom ladies’ pants for $69 online. Never used them (I’m in Europe), though.

            1. Staci*

              I am sure you meant this to be helpful, but for many, $69 would be way out of a person’s clothing budget no matter what country they live in, let alone $400. I don’t know why I find this so off-putting but it sounds like we live in different realities.

              1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

                I bought quite decent pants (Dockers, Calvin Klein) for $20 to $30 at TJ Maxx in the US. In Germany (where I live most of the time), I could not get them for that price, here, $50 seems to be the low end for last-season brand name pants.
                So two pairs of well-fitting made-to-measure pants at $70 each, compared to off-the-rack for $50, seems not too unreasonable. Two pairs can go a long way to cover the 4 workdays that are not casual Fridays – if the industry, company and role actually demand it (which is not always the case!).
                My role sometimes requires the formal end of business formal, some days are internal only (business casual, pretty much anything goes), and then there is site work requiring safety gear.
                I still remember one business trip that required a boiler suit with safety boots and hard hat, business formal, and a tuxedo – I actually took a picture of the three outfits hanging in the closet. That was a job on a (very high end, very conservative) cruise ship.
                The company pays for the safety gear but for business casual and formal I’m on my own. I have about 5 good suits and replace maybe one every 2-3 years. My total annual clothing budget comes to about $300-$500 including shirts, underwear and shoes – in a fairly well-paying professional job. I could make do with less but could as easily spend way more.

    6. londonedit*

      Office dress codes seem to be a total minefield! To me, smartish jeans would be fine for ‘business casual’. Not ripped jeans and a t-shirt, but a nice pair of jeans and a smart/casual top would be absolutely fine where I work.

      I think you just need to be direct with her, as it’s a simple enough thing to say – ‘I just wanted to let you know that people usually tend to only wear jeans on Fridays – I know it’s difficult trying to work out office norms, so I wanted to give you a heads-up! Monday-Thursday we’re on the slightly more formal side’. I think you’re overthinking the whole ‘what if she can only find jeans to wear’ thing. I’d be very surprised if she didn’t have other options.

      1. Deranged Cubicle Owl*

        To me, smartish jeans would be fine for ‘business casual’. Not ripped jeans and a t-shirt, but a nice pair of jeans and a smart/casual top would be absolutely fine where I work.
        This!

        I do not understand why some offices are against jeans when they prefer ‘business casual’. Just a jeans with a nice blouse or shirt or sweater is still ‘business casual’ to me.

        1. Kathleen_A*

          I don’t think it is most places, though – certainly not any place I’ve ever worked. The line between casual and business casual can be a pretty fuzzy one, but “no jeans” is one of the non-fuzzy criteria. :-)

          1. The Other Dawn*

            Same here. We’re business casual, but that does not include jeans. (If truth be told, a lot of what I see around here I wouldn’t even classify as business casual, but nobody says anything from what I can tell.)

        2. NothingIsLittle*

          Well, I think it’s also contingent on the wash of denim. Very dark or black wash denim in a good cut is firmly business casual to me, where lighter wash denims tend towards fully casual. There are exceptions, of course, based on the office. I work at a university and I wear black wash jeans quite often, but I would definitely get a side-eye if I came in with light wash jeans.

          With that in mind, though, I know there’s a huge difference between the coasts in terms of what constitutes “business casual,” so it could be a regional thing that a more casual setting in the Northeast would still only allow dark wash jeans where a similar setting on the West Coast might allow any type of denim. (or even, gasp!, shorts )

      2. Observer*

        I can’t see any reason for Peaches to say anything. If this were the kind of workplace where the CW would get dinged for wearing jeans even though no one would say anything to her directly, that’s one thing. But otherwise? Why? Peaches doesn’t supervise her or have any training responsibility here.

      3. Sunflower*

        I’ve only worked in business casual offices but it’s hilarious how each of them had such varying levels of business casual. Every policy though explicitly called out whether or not blue jeans were allowed.

      4. Snack Management*

        Minefield, indeed! Working in HR, I absolutely despise having to police dress codes. It’s so subjective to culture and gender in ways that make it so frustrating to navigate.

      5. Lobsterp0t*

        My work has a business casual policy and there is literally NO professional/occupational justification for it.

    7. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      If anything, you could mention it to your boss. They’re hands off, so they may not notice “now” but it would be nice to flag it for them and say “hey New Person is wearing jeans on business-casual days, you may want to talk to her about the dress code, I don’t feel it’s my place to bring it up to her directly…”

      Then the boss could say “Oh she has permission, it’s a special accommodation, no worries.” if it is something she cleared with them or could say “oh yeah? I’ll handle it!” or whatever. Then leave it be.

      1. Dzhymm*

        Or maybe, “I notice New Person is wearing jeans every day; has there been a revision to the dress code?” This allows them the opportunity to save face by either taking it up with New Person, revising the dress code, or reiterating the dress code to everyone.

      2. MommyMD*

        No. To me this rises to tattle tale level. This has nothing to do with her productivity and is not an actual work problem. Management has eyes and will comment if it bothers them. It’s not like she’s wasting the day on the Internet while work goes undone.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          No, your’e ridiculous. As usual. Jeezus, tattling is for children and doens’t exist in the adult world, grow up.

          1. Close Bracket*

            When you are talking about things that don’t actually impact work, like dress code violations when the garment in question is still modest, then tattling is a thing that exists in the adult world.

    8. Mad Scientist*

      I’d let it go too. It’s very possible that she can’t find work pants that fit correctly and jeans frequently come in different lengths. She most likely notices that she is the only one wearing jeans, so she most likely has a reason and I don’t think it’s necessary to draw attention to it because it doesn’t affect her work (or you) at all.

    9. londonedit*

      Oh, damn – I totally missed the fact that you’re not her manager. I’d let it go, in that case! Ignore the above!

    10. CatCat*

      I have been following the saga and am glad old coworker is finally GONE! Man, that just dragged on so much longer than it should have.

      For the dress code thing, eh, I’d probably leave it alone. It’s not really your thing to enforce. I could definitely see “business casual” being interpreted as including jeans (this may be a geographic thing) so maybe that is what she is thinking. If her boss doesn’t care, I wouldn’t say anything unless it’s actively harming her reputation in some way.

    11. HR that Cares*

      As an HR Rep, this isn’t something that needs to only be mentioned by a manager, you can say something like “hey, I’m not sure if you are aware, but we really only allow jeans on Fridays” It can be a casual thing that you bring up while just having a regular conversation.

      1. Melissa*

        Yeah, I’d probably say something to her, too. Because if the manager finally notices it much later, and corrects her, it turns into a “Why didn’t anyone tell me/her months ago.” situation. I’d hate to be the one who could have diffused the issue at the beginning but didn’t. You can phrase it very lightly, and even throw in that if she has made arrangements with the boss, then ignore me completely…

    12. Boots*

      I’d mention it to her in a low key, “hey, just a heads up” sort of way. I had a co-worker who assumed it was okay to wear jeans in our office because we have causal Fridays and we’re on the very casual end of business casual otherwise, but it’s actually not. No one said anything to her, until an executive who is a stickler for the dress code noticed and pulled her aside. She was really embarrassed and I’m sure she would have much rather heard it from a co-worker.

      1. Adlib*

        Yeah, I can see saying something for this reason. I really like The Man Becky Lynch’s scripts above.

    13. Celeste*

      It may be a written company policy, but it doesn’t seem to be consistently enforced. Either her supervisor allows it for her personally or doesn’t care about it for his staff in general. I feel like you don’t have to intervene to keep her from any action on it; I also think that if her boss does start to care about it, he’ll give her a verbal warning to stop before writing her up, etc.

      Do you also want to wear jeans more often or exclusively? That’s the only reason to speak up in my opinion.

      1. Peaches*

        I definitely want to wear jeans more often, haha. I never thought to ask though since it’s stated in the handbook that we can only wear jeans on Fridays.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Well that leads to another possible way to go : you *ASK* her what she was told about corporate casual definition. You know policies change over time, and back when you started it jeans were Friday only — does she have a newer handbook?
          If she says no, Old Cow-Orker told her “everyone does it” , you can say something like “sometimes Old Cow-Orker, er…bent the rules a bit more than I would like so I’m going to stick with what I’m wearing now.” Thank her and move on.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            Alternatively, ask your boss the same thing — has corporate casual changed, because you’d like to start wearing denim more often, and you’re seeing others wearing jeans.

          2. Mama Bear*

            This is what I was thinking. Is there a new policy you’d like to be aware of? I’d otherwise let it go.

    14. Emi.*

      I think it depends entirely on whether “no one would tell her” means “it’s technically not allowed but no one actually cares” or “everyone will silently hold it against her and consider her less professional while refusing to use their words to communicate a policy.”

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        This is what I worry about the most.
        A lot of these “policies” that aren’t readily enforced are only used when things go sideways or in order to use it against someone when it comes to a promotion or raise kind of nonsense.

        “Oh she does fine work but she can’t seem to follow our dresscode, I wonder what else she’s not following! Yeah not management material that one!” [This coupled with the fact she’s a woman could just lead to someone who’s got a bias to jump on this detail just to use it against her when the time is right.]

    15. Peaches*

      Thanks for all the suggestions, everyone! I think I will let it go. She may very well have specific accommodations with our boss despite the dress code noted in the company handbook. It’s definitely not affecting me personally. I just don’t want her to be embarrassed if someone mentions it to her say, a year down the road.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        I want to just mention that not everyone reads the handbooks, in reality I’ve realized just about nobody does! [I do because well HR and it’s my job and also I’m super uptight about accidentally breaking rules, so yeah even when I’m not doing HR duties for someone, I read the handbook. But that’s actually sadly not the norm]

        Yes, they should always read it. Yes we always request an acknowledgement that you’ve received it. But really, people’s eyes glaze over and handbooks tend to be 30-50 pages long and really the only thing you care about in the end is maybe vacation time and when your benefits are supposed to kick in [even then, people just come in and ask me those things as well, it’s clear they didn’t even bother or think to look!]

      2. Utoh!*

        Yeah, all interactions with new coworker should be around the work itself, policy should be left to management to discuss with her if necessary.

    16. Cat Wrangler*

      I had a similar situation recently. Our lay staff has a strict dress code (uniform) and a new employee kept flouting it. It was obviously intentional—you can’t mistake what you’re supposed to wear. It felt like a huge middle finger to the rest of the staff. I finally said something to her boss, who is offsite. Problem solved about 5 minutes later (we had the uniforms onsite). Strangely, since “forced” to comply with this basic rule, she’s become much more of a team player overall. It might be worth a gentle word to her boss in the context of staff morale. Maybe all of you can wear jeans now!

      For what it’s worth, my daughter is 6’2” and hates jeans. She wears black dress pants (many chains have tall lengths) or long skirts.

    17. ip freely*

      i’d approach it by asking my boss “have we relaxed the dress code? because I notice so and so wears jeans every day – can we do that now? because it’d be great to be able to wear jeans occasionally on days other than Friday”. that way you’re not accusing anyone of doing anything wrong, you’re just asking if the same rules still apply.

    18. BenH*

      Absolutely do not address. It’s not your place, it’s really not that big of a deal unless she’s client facing, and you’ll come across as one of THOSE coworkers.

      1. Peaches*

        I am going to let it go. For what it’s worth, it’s not in my nature to point our something like this (it’s my PREFERENCE to let it go!) I just wanted to check with the lovely folks on AAM who could provide some clarity.

    19. OhGee*

      Let it go! If she has jeans that fit, she can find work pants that fit. Either way, stay out of it.

    20. EngineerMom*

      I lean on the side of “let it go”, but there are also ways to have a casual conversation about general clothing norms around lunch that help a new coworker figure out the office culture.

      On her being tall – there are clothing store that market professional clothing to (very) tall women, including Long Tall Sally, so unless she’s exceptionally cash-strapped, I doubt that’s why she’s wearing jeans. Given that my 6’6″ dad with rather long legs has an inseam of 36″, and they sell pants with inseams up to 38″, there are definitely non-jean options out there.

      1. Leela*

        I’ve been to Long Tall Sally many times. It can easily be more than twice as expensive for extremely regular clothes that other people can get for 40 dollars at Target, H&M, etc.

        1. AnonoDOc*

          Twice as expensive, and probably good for business-casual but their stuff tends to be on the polyester, trend and not as finished side of things. Wish they had more things for a conservative work place :(

      2. Observer*

        There are a lot more options for tall men than for tall women.

        The options that exist for tall women tend to be expensive. And even if not, a job change could easily also mean some tightness around finances, so getting a new wardrobe may not be her highest priority.

    21. WellRed*

      WHen I first started my job, I was grateful when my coworker, slightly senior, sent me a quick email on the dress code.

    22. Kiwiii*

      My only thought is that there may be an expectation that she dress more professionally for certain meetings to look a certain way in front of clients or people outside of your small team/office. You should probably warn her of any situations that she might be underdressed for in the future, but i wouldn’t worry about day-to-day clothing.

    23. Leela*

      Speaking as a 6 foot tall woman, PLEASE let this go. You have no idea what an everloving nightmare finding business atire is for us. Pants don’t fit at all, expose everything if we sit down as well as carving into our hips, the widest part of us, because that’s where pants-makers decided our waist it.

      If we wear skirts, we’re in high danger of them being obscenely short, especially if we sit down, and yes even business-wear pencil skirts.

      Our other option is to have to pay double to triple the amount other people pay for work clothes and get something that’s no higher quality and isn’t going to last any longer.

      You can’t see her frustration when she goes shopping, you can’t see armload after armload after armload of business clothes get put into the “no” pile because they were never intended for someone with bodies like ours. If her own boss hasn’t said anything to her (are you positive that they didn’t have a conversation where the exact thing above was discussed and this is what the conclusion was? I’ve had this conversation many times with many bosses only to have coworkers claim that I’m breaking policy when my boss has given me the go-ahead) then I’d hold off

      1. EH*

        Semi-off-topic, but Make Your Own Jeans (just remove the spaces and add dot com) does custom-made clothing. Get someone to take your measurements, and you can get a wide variety of clothing items made for you. My measurements are ludicrous, but MYOJ makes stuff that fits me perfectly. Jeans, dress shirts, et al. There are places on Etsy that do custom sized gowns, dresses, long coats, and so on as well.

        1. Mama Bear*

          As a very short person, I’m going to bookmark this. Sleeves and pants are the bane of my existence, even with petite sizing.

    24. Rebecca*

      I understand this is company policy, but what is the rationale behind it? Do you have outside visitors Monday through Thursday, or is this just because? Not being argumentative, but sometimes rules are just there because “rules” and they don’t really serve a purpose. I remember not being able to wear pants with back pockets, or having to wear panty hose when wearing a skirt or dress, those were office rules back in the 1980’s at my first job. No real reason, we weren’t customer facing, it was just a rule. And no jeans, why, the horror of it all! We had to fight to wear dress pants as it was instead of skirts/dresses with hose every day.

      I’m sort of baffled by dress codes in general, unless you’re a professional office, medical, law, that type of thing, or a bank, but what difference does it make if she wears jeans or not? Her work output is the same. I’m sitting here in my non customer facing office in a sleeveless shirt and shorts, very comfortable, and my work output is good. It would be the same in this outfit vs a dress or dress pants. Actually, it’s probably better because I’m not worried about spilling coffee on myself and ruining something expensive.

      If she’s not stapling the TPS reports correctly or doing something work related incorrectly, then speak up, but personally, I’d leave it alone.

      1. Windchime*

        Yeah, this is what I wonder, too. If jeans are OK on Friday, why aren’t they OK on the other days? My workplace has a weird rule about jeans. No blue jeans. Black jeans? Perfectly fine. White, tan, striped, yellow, green? Yes, you can wear those. Just not blue jeans.

      2. Kuddel Daddeldu*

        When I’m tasked with training a new hire or someone changing roles, or first time meeting a new client, I’ll explain the expectations. I usually tell them “That is about what you should wear for this situation so people focus on your contribution, not your attire”.
        After that, it’s very much not my business unless something is way out of line (like holey jeans or worn out sneakers to a formal meeting with a conservative client, or suit and tie for a ship’s engine room).

        The only exception is safety gear for on-site work (we are an engineering consultancy company). There, the “dress code” is non-negotiable.

    25. Me*

      It’s not your place. Her boss being hands-off doesn’t negate that. In fact if anything her boss being hands-off indicates her boss doesn’t care about things like jeans.

      Don’t turn into that person that invokes the rule book because rules.

    26. Heat's Kitchen*

      This is so not an issue, let alone your issue. It doesn’t affect your work. Don’t even speculate about why a coworker may wear certain items, that’s so out of bounds. If it’s because you want to wear jeans, frame it to your boss as, “I’ve noticed some coworkers wearing jeans every day. Is that something I can do too?”

    27. Been there*

      My last office job, I tried wearing nice jeans on a Friday and was told no jeans ever. I was pregnant, but hadn’t told them, and was running out of pants that would button. I had been trying to make it to the end of my first trimester before buying new clothes, especially since I had just started the job and wanted to pay down some bills first. Unless you think it’s going to be a big deal when someone eventually notices, I would wait until she’s had a couple paychecks before you decide whether to say anything.

    28. Adele*

      We have a no jeans policy at my work place, although I bend it sometimes by wearing nice dark blue denim trousers on Fridays and one of my tall, slim, stylish coworkers bends it every day by wearing non-blue, well-fitting, well-cared for jeans. Someone once said something to me, but since she is not my boss I ignored her.

      A number of years ago, I was in charge of our group’s move from one building to another. While we had movers, we still had to pack and unpack everything and it fell to me to do that for communal supplies and equipment. I wore my regular work clothes on pack day and it was uncomfortable, dirty, and damaged my clothes. On move/unpack day I wore jeans, tee-shirt, and running shoes. Grandboss complained to my boss and wanted him to send me home to change. Thank goodness Boss is a practical person and told Grandboss that was ridiculous. I am glad he didn’t tell me about this until long after the fact!

    29. MommyMD*

      It’s not for you to tell her. I’m glad she’s working out. This falls under manager territory.

    30. Mellow*

      Unless you’re her supervisor, or her wearing jeans every day directly affects your own responsibilities, I’m not sure why you are even contemplating saying anything about it. I can’t remember what any of my colleagues wear day to day, and I can’t say I want to.

  2. What's Next?*

    Hi all,

    I’ve made the hard decision to shift from nonprofit to the for-profit world. I work in college access in the Bay Area and I’ve concluded recently that to live the life I want with my family, I can’t stay at my nonprofit. I’ve reached the top of my advancement at my current organization and I’m just not being paid enough or given enough support for the amount of stress and extra hours that are consuming me. This was a very difficult choice because at one point I saw myself staying with this organization for the long run.

    I was originally looking to switch to another nonprofit but was disheartened to realize that the other salaries were even lower than mine and/or the positions one step above are requiring about a decade of specialized experience where I only have about six years in college access but nine in the education field. I’m trying to figure out what the next step is, and I was curious about others who made the shift from nonprofit to for-profit and how they found work that was still meaningful while being paid fairly. I really love my job and the people that I work with and if money and resources were not an issue, I’d stay but I’ve voiced my concerns multiple times and nothing has changed. Feeling a little lost so advice is much appreciated!

    1. AndersonDarling*

      What kind of role are you looking for? Healthcare non-profits have salaries on par with the for-profit market.

      1. NopeKnopeNope*

        That’s a big assumption. I’ve worked for two healthcare non-profits and both paid the majority of the staff pitifully below–market wages. AND wondered why they had insanely high turnover!
        (sorry but this is a sore spot for me)

    2. Cinna214*

      Many for-profit companies have sustainability initiatives or charitable arm that might be a good fit.

    3. Rachel*

      I just went through something similar – I’m switching from a non-profit to a government agency, and getting a >50% raise in the process. In my case, the non-profit was paying below what other non-profits were, but it does seem like public agencies sometimes pay more, especially if they have some sort of COLA adjustment. I still feel like my skills are being used in a way that I support (I work in natural resources) but am making a salary that allows me to stay in the Bay Area. This might not be relevant to you, but I thought I’d throw it out there. Good luck!

      1. triplehiccup*

        Also just switched from non-profit to government agency, also for a huge raise and a lot less stress. 100% worth it! But it can take several months, easily, so start now if that’s a direction you want to go in

        1. Rachel*

          I mostly knew which agencies I wanted to apply to, so I kept an eye on their sites. A lot of agency positions don’t end up on other listing services. It’s inefficient, but I developed a list and then just checked them twice a month or so. The whole agency screening and interview process can take a long time. I’m pleased with where I’ve ended up but it was quite a process.

    4. Lives in a Shoe*

      In the Bay Area, there is at least one large University employer who has a health arm, which pays pretty well. You can still work in education but on the administrative side, and make a salary which, while not close to the tech giant salaries, is livable, plus benefits and things like pensions.

      1. What's Next?*

        The jobs I’ve been looking at there have been falling into two categories, jobs that I’d be interested in and am eligible for that would require a pay cut, or jobs that seem too advanced. I’ve been checking their posting regularly though and hoping something comes up. A lot of their jobs require a previous position held within the university.

      2. Gumby*

        I also want to say that the benefits at said University are tremendous. Not free meals like a tech giant, but:
        *low cost exercise classes through HIP (how I miss my twice-weekly lunch yoga classes)
        *access to pools and gyms on campus
        *audit courses
        *GO pass (free CalTrain, anywhere, any time) plus similar for VTA
        *continuing ed $
        *amazing college tuition grant for your kids if you meet the requirements (I have no kids, but I think it was based on time working there)
        *good health insurance, vision, dental
        *other stuff I’m sure I’m forgetting

        1. Lives in a Shoe*

          The large hospital-running University system I referenced does not provide tuition grants for children or staff, but the many-campused other-tier college system does. . .

          And from what I have seen, at least at the central Administration arm of Big University System, career advancement can be rapid.

          1. Gumby*

            Ah, I was referencing a primarily single-campus private university. But that just highlights that there are very many choices in the Bay Area.

        2. AnonInUniversityTown*

          As staff at the healthcare arm of that university, the pay and benefits are what’s kept me there for 18 years.

    5. Pam*

      Perhaps working for the college/university – the flip side of your current job- could work. I’ve seen several people make that transition.

      1. Natatat*

        This is what I was going to say. I work in Education on the admin side and I find it fulfilling. I interact with and help students on their learning journey every day. As far as for profit jobs go, I think the Education field can still give you that feeling of doing good in the world (while getting paid decently).

    6. Daria Morgendorffer*

      I moved sectors from Not-For-Profit to For- Profit for similar reasons (poor pay and limited opportunities for advancement). I don’t know what your profession is but you could consider going to an org that provides services to the Not-For-Profit sector (consulting/advisory type work). This is what I did and it really helped with changing career focus. You are still making a contribution (indirectly) but you aren’t in the sector. Good luck!

      1. What's Next?*

        That sounds interesting! When you did that, were you a freelancing consultant or did you work at a consulting agency?

        1. JR*

          Agreed on nonprofit consulting firms. A few to look at in the Bay Area include FSG and Bridgespan – they’re both themselves nonprofits, I think, so they pay less than for-profit consulting firms, but still good salaries. Also, a lot of the big ad firms have corporate purpose, sustainability, and social marketing arms, often based out of their Bay Area offices.

          1. JR*

            Also, I’ve worked both for a philanthropy consulting firm and as an independent consultant. Both were great for different reasons. I will say that, as an independent contractor, I had my spouse’s benefits, I wasn’t trying to work full time (had young kids), and I had an anchor client (the consulting firm I used to work for) that was probably 80% of my work. People absolutely make independent consulting work without those things, but it sure made it easier for me. Happy to answer any specific questions you have.

    7. DCGirl*

      I switched from college/university fund raising to proposal writing for government contractors. I’ve been selective in which companies I will work for and have actively avoided working in the defense industry even thought that’s were an astounding number of proposal jobs are located, especially in the DC area. For example, my last job was with a company that worked very hard to help the government stand up the Affordable Care Act (I was laid off after the election, LOL). I’m now with a company that works with government on its grants management programs which include things like grants for AIDS/HIV services, small business innovation, and others.

      One thing I will say is that I thought I would miss the nonprofit world a lot when I switched and I really, really didn’t. One story I’ve told over and over again about the switch is this:

      Working in college/university fund raising, meaning working a lot with alumni, I heard a lot of, “Well, I’m not sure you can be an effective fundraiser for ABC College because you’re not a graduate/didn’t attend a women’s college/didn’t major in ABC’s marquee program/etc.” I can’t tell you how many jobs I didn’t get because they were holding out for one of their own graduates to apply. So, I walked into my first interview for a proposal writer position at a Big Four accounting firm expecting to hear, “Well, I’m not sure you can be an effective proposal writer since you didn’t major in accounting.” Instead, the attitude was, “You’ve skills we can use. Welcome to the team!” It was such a refreshing change of pace.

      Good luck!

    8. WomanOfMystery*

      I went from non-profit to for-profit and I’ve been really pleased! I find my work meaningful, even if I’m a little iffy about my overall industry (I don’t love fossil fuels, just in general, but hey, we’re transitioning to renewables!). It’s also been great to have access to resources and structure in the workplace that my previous nonprofit just couldn’t give, based on size and money. And my salary went up. . . significantly. It was also a huge relief to have the bandwidth to step back and support the causes I care about in a big-picture way with money and time, rather than pouring all my thoughts and energy into working through minutiae that matters, but is exhausting.

      1. DCGirl*

        My running joke when I worked in college fund raising was that I didn’t aspire to buy a new a car, I merely hoped to buy a used car during the same decade in which it had been manufactured. It’s so nice to be paid fairly for the work I do.

    9. Kiki*

      I personally haven’t made that shift, but I work at a software company that hires a lot of people who made the transition from non-profits and other chronically underpaid industries. If you can look at software products you used (or would have liked to use), your perspective as an industry user of that product may be worth quite a bit of money to the maker of that product. I’m a woman and a software engineer, so I know the software industry has many, many flaws, but underpaying is not usually one of them (not always the case for sure!). Even if the company is imperfect in execution, it can feel satisfying to try to make technology that makes the world work better. Some positions I know of that really prioritize experience in the product-users’ industry are project management, product owner/manager, and customer implementation consulting.

    10. Kimmybear*

      I’ve moved from for-profit to non-profit and back and will say that there are differences but a lot of the work is really the same. How I’ve kept it meaningful is by working at a for-profit in a role that supports non-profits. Think training on non-profit management at a for-profit company.

    11. Jules the 3rd*

      I switched from a small education non-profit to for profit, but I used an MBA to help make the change. I did target very large companies when job hunting, and after a couple of ‘put in your time’ positions, I found one that satisfies my service itch. Many large companies have outreach and service areas, and need someone to work on them.

      Tech cos in my area are really getting into educational outreach, that may be something to look for. A tech co newish to philanthropy might be especially interested in someone with your experience.

      1. JR*

        Along these lines – a lot of tech companies make philanthropic investments in programs that seek to build and diversify the STEM careers pipeline, often starting with kids in K-12. They might find your background appealing.

        1. OtterB*

          Not just K-12. There are big tech firm efforts at the college level for supporting first-gen and underrepresented minority students where your college access experience would be helpful. Also, maybe a large foundation that makes grants in education?

    12. HR Disney Princess*

      I totally understand. I was looking at a great non-profit opportunity recently but realized I actually made more money as an intern at for-profit company than I would as a generalist with 5 years experience at this non-profit. It stinks but I really can’t afford that big of a pay cut.

    13. Curious Cat*

      If you’re still hoping to stay in the non-profit world, I’d look into associations! Still a non-profit and associations tend to be on par with for-profits in terms of salary, generally with lots of room for advancement (of course dependent on the organization, but at least been the case in my experience). Once you work for an association, it’s also super easy to then stay in that area and switch between different associations if you find something better down the line.

    14. Phoenix Programmer*

      I think you should apply to those next step up jobs anyway. Many job adds are wish lists and most people hired fulfill 80% or even less of them.

      1. JR*

        Agreed. 6-9 years experience, depending on how you count, definitely means you should apply for a job asking for 10 years.

    15. That Girl From Quinn's House*

      When I worked in the Bay Area, one of the Program Directors at my nonprofit switched to working for a small city’s department of recreation and youth services, and got a huge raise and better benefits. He had kids and left specifically due to the low quality, high cost health insurance plan that was the only option where I worked.

    16. MrsFillmore*

      I work at a non-profit with some similarities in scope and have seen several former colleagues recently transition to positions at 2U (https://2u.com/careers/locations/). They’re growing rapidly and seem to always be hiring. For what it’s worth, I personally have some ethical concerns with their business model as it relates to cost structures for online higher education and access, but if you research those and feel okay with it then 2U or similar could be a good fit.

    17. Dot*

      I work in higher ed, and depending on the school, you can make pretty good money. I bet Stanford pays well and has plenty of jobs!

    18. AnonComment*

      Regardless of non-profit or not, find an organization with a mission you support. Even an organization that is for-profit is capable of contributing to the greater good. I think changing the perspective will helpful, non-profit employees and organizations are not the only ones helping to make a difference.

    19. Zombeyonce*

      A lot of hospitals (even for-profit hospitals) have Outreach departments that you might find offer rewarding work. I work for a large teaching hospital (I’m not a healthcare worker) that does a lot of really fascinating research, some on at-risk and/or minority populations. We also have a large number of community outreach programs that are quite large in their own right as well as multiple foundations for cancer research, pediatrics, and other things.

      The pay is market rate, the benefits are pretty good, and there are lots of opportunities for doing meaningful work as well as for advancement.

  3. Toxic Waste*

    I’ve been at my new job for about a month now. I was at a different building working with some interns. I don’t supervise them, but I am in a higher position than them. We were all working together on a project and I had to use the copier. I’ve never been in that building, so one of the interns volunteered to show me. The building is like a maze, so it’s confusing. She showed me the room, and then left once we got there. I managed to find my way back, but when I got back to the room, the interns were all quiet and sat there staring at me. (It was very awkward.)

    Later on two of the other interns also needed help finding the copy room, but she walked with them and stayed with them. (And walked them back.)

    The two people she helped are her friends, but still… I know I’m new, but I help them as best as I can and try and make conversation.

    How can I put this into perspective and not take it personally? I always beat myself up and wonder why they don’t like me, when sometimes it’s just that people don’t like you- I get that. Sometimes there are other reasons, but I’ve only been there for a month….

    1. Ingray*

      I’d guess this is more of a situation where she wanted to stay and hang out with her friends than she specifically didn’t want to help you out. It’s only been a month, I think you should just try to continue to be friendly and make conversation. It can be difficult to integrate into a pre-existing group, especially when the group is made up of interns who might not be 100% up on professional norms. But I wouldn’t read toooo much into this one situation, though definitely report back if other instances of them excluding you or being unfriendly!

      1. China Beech*

        Exactly. They may have just been having a private conversation and didn’t want to continue it in front os=f you. I don’t see an issue here (yet).

        1. valentine*

          Learning to detach could help you immensely, especially if you grew up enmeshed and/or had a mercurial caregiver whose mood ruled your day.

          It’s entirely possible the second intern asked the first to stay or they saw each other in the hall and just happened to return together. Proceed as though only things they address with you are remotely about you. Staring? Not a problem. Silence? Not a problem. “Hey, Toxic Waste, there’s a toner smudge on your shoe”? Something to respond to.

    2. Jaid*

      It’s not on you, the intern was being thoughtless. And she probably wanted to gossip with her fellow interns.

      1. CmdrShepard4ever*

        I agree it was probably that she was just hanging out and chatting with her fellow intern. Also there is a line between full time employees and interns, I don’t know if you are the same age as them or older, but if there is an age difference that can also play a role. We have interns every summer, while we will do employee/intern happy hours or other activities, the interns themselves will hang out on their own as well. If I were an intern there are certain conversations I would be willing to have with fellow interns that I would not want a full time employee of the company overhearing.

        There are many simple legitimate reasons why the interns would not want to become friends with you.

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I bet it didn’t really dawn on the intern that you’d need assistance back!

      So she dropped you off, assuming you’d retrace your steps [forgetting that’s not necessarily something that’s easy to do the first time you go there, right!]. Then when her friends went back, she stayed to “help” them out and also you know, chit chat or really did stay to help them. Since you didn’t seemingly say “Hey Nancy, can you hangout here with me and help me figure out this machine too? And then I won’t get lost on the way back =)”

      When you saw her leave, why didn’t you flag her down all “Hey I may get lost on my way back, it’s a maze in here, would you please hang back for a minute?!” [You’re senior, you should be okay asking for this kind of thing, it’s not necessarily going to be the first thought on someone’s mind and that’s okay].

      It’s most likely not personal at all but I get why it feels that way.

    4. mananana*

      The most likely answer is that she had something else she needed to attend to — and that her leaving you there had nothing to do with you. Same with the silent interns upon your return; it’s quite possible that what you thought of as “staring” at you was simply them looking at the person entering the room.

      As to how not to take it personally? Whenever the “why doesn’t she like me” thoughts creep in, you need to challenge that thought with other, more likely scenarios. Look into Cognitive Behavioral Therapy techniques for challenging negative thought patterns (or even better, find a CBT practitioner).

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        This is a good point. I have learned to counteract my internal “why don’t they like me?!” or “Is there something wrong with me?!” kind of moments to tell myself “Why wouldn’t they like you? They don’t know you enough to make that decision.”

        It’s been a month. You’re a senior position. So they may just not “click” the same way they do with their peers. That’s normal! I’ve had it happen with people who I eventually have become close with.

        1. Kim, No Longer Esq.*

          Hahaahahaha yeah, I have to do this too. I am definitely a person who, when a group of teenagers on the bus starts laughing, assumes they are laughing at me. They’re almost certainly not, and even if they are, why do I care? Do a quick physical check to reassure myself that, like, I don’t have TP stuck to my shoe or my fly down or something, and then I just try really hard to focus on the idea that they have their own stuff going on and it has nothing to do with me. It’s tough, but the more often you consciously do it, the more automatic it becomes!

        2. Ra94*

          Yep, I have to really sternly tell myself, “You’re fine. You look normal, you’re acting normal, no one is staring at you, and no one cares what you’re doing” whenever I meet someone new or feel awkward. I find it helpful to remember that people are generally fairly self-involved (in a neutral, human nature kind of way) and while you think everyone saw you trip over that chair or drop that coffee, literally no one else cares.

          1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

            Yes yes yes, especially to the “generally fairly self-involved” part. That has been CRITICAL to my success in getting through my anxiety.

            I remind myself not to attach malicious intent to people. I had a rough go in school but children do not count, they are another beast. Adult humans rarely care enough and have their own lives and insecurities to deal with.

            1. Ra94*

              Yes! I find ‘no one is paying attention to you’ a lot more comforting than ‘these people really like you’, because I know objectively that not EVERYONE actively likes me, and it’s still a form of attention/focus.

    5. sunshyne84*

      They probably just feel awkward around a permanent employee especially being higher up than them. They may be scared to say the wrong thing and you influence someone not to hire them after their internship. Either way you say you’ve tried to make conversation and you are helping them as best you can and that’s pretty much all you can do. You just need to not take things so personally.

    6. Sleepytime Tea*

      You said you’re senior to them, and that may be all there is too it. They’re interns. They’re new. It may be awkward to them. They may assume you already know the building. They may feel weird talking to someone senior to them on a personal level because, you know, they’re interns and all this is new to them.

      Have you made an effort to get to know them on a personal level? While yeah, sometimes people just don’t like you, and it’s not awesome (I struggle with this myself), sometimes you also have to make sure that you put forth the effort to build a relationship. With you being the senior person, they may not feel comfortable trying to break into any type of social relationship with you.

    7. LawBee*

      Perspective: They’re interns. They’ll be gone in a month or so. They probably don’t want to hang out with you because they’d rather hang out with other interns.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      She’s an intern, you’re a full time employee?

      She may have figured because you out rank her you would directly ask her to stay. Or she may have figured that regular employees were supposed to learn their path through the maze.

      I can just picture her getting back to the room and the others saying, “You WHAT? You LEFT her there???”
      I recommend to assume they were in awe of you for finding your way back.

      There is a building here I go into once in a while. It’s the catacombs. I always wonder if I will ever see my car again in this lifetime. So far so good.

    9. L.S. Cooper*

      The reason they’d rather hang out with other interns probably has nothing to do with *you* and your personality. When I was interning, I spent all of my time with the other intern. We regularly went out to lunch, just the two of us, and on one occasion, ran into another group of people from our fairly small office at the same restaurant.
      We didn’t do this because we didn’t like the other people; we did it because we had more in common with each other than with the other employees, and we didn’t have to worry about not being professional enough if it was just us, because we were both at the bottom of the hierarchy.
      There’s also the life phase aspect to keep in mind with socialization. I have no friends at my current job. I chat with my boss and the other woman in my department sometimes, but we aren’t really friends, not like how people are with each other. But I’m a nerdy recent college grad in my first ever corporate job, and both of them are women who have been here about 10 years, both with kids around the same age; we just don’t have a whole lot in common. Same thing as an intern– the people we worked with ranged in age from a few years older (one guy finishing his degree while we were a sophomore and junior) to old enough to be our dads. (Literally, in my case– my dad worked for the company. And don’t worry, I didn’t steal an internship slot from another, more qualified candidate; the internship program at this company was essentially based on hiring people who just sort of asked. That’s how other!intern got her position!)
      As for not walking you back, I would probably have done the same, out of a fear of coming across as rude and underestimating the navigational abilities of a senior employee, whereas I wouldn’t have had an issue with interns, because we’d all be on the same level.

    10. Megasaurusus*

      I agree with everyone else, they’re interns – your permanent. You’re in totally different spheres of a hierarchical relation, even if you are similar in age.

      But beyond that I’d suggest reading “Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office” by Louis Frankel – especially the section on transaction-based relationships. Not all encounters are emotionally meaningful, and that’s okay!

    11. Mr. Shark*

      I don’t think it’s a big deal that she didn’t stay with you and walk you back. I wouldn’t read anything into that.

      I am confused about this:

      I managed to find my way back, but when I got back to the room, the interns were all quiet and sat there staring at me. (It was very awkward.)

      When you got back to where the interns were, they just stared at you? That seems…odd. Did you say something inappropriate when she walked you to the copy room? It might be that they were talking about you (not necessarily bad things) and then you showed up, so they stopped talking and didn’t know what to say.

      But I wouldn’t worry about it too much. It’s only one month. You should continue to just be yourself and start conversations and see where it leads.

      1. Toxic Waste*

        She asked me how I liked my job/how things were going and I said that it’s busy, but I’m learning a lot and everyone has been very nice and helpful.

    12. Lilysparrow*

      This may or may not work for you, sometimes it works for me. I sometimes challenge thoughts like “why don’t they like me?” by pushing back on them rather aggressively.

      Why should they like me? We just met. We don’t know each other socially and wouldn’t hang out as friends if we did, because we’re at completely different stages of life and have nothing in common except that we both work for the same company.

      Why would they have an opinion of me at all? They are busy thinking about themselves and whatever intern summer drama they have going on.

      Why does it matter if they like me? – this one usually starts at the practical level, where the answer is that of course it has no impact on my work.

      But it also opens up the opportunity to consider where that emotional need to be liked is coming from, whether it’s even appropriate to the situation, and if not, why is it coming up in this context?

      Don’t bother doing this kind of thought exercise if it upsets you (particularly at work). It’s just something I’ve found helpful.

  4. Mad Scientist*

    Hi everyone,
    I work for a very large company, and I’m currently a (permanent) contractor. My department is on a hiring freeze, so I’m looking into other departments to attempt to get into an internal role. It’s notoriously difficult to get even an interview around here, so I’ve sent in at least 25 applications and have gotten 1 interview (I don’t think it’s my resume, I think it’s just how it is because they get SO many applicants.) On Tuesday, I applied for a job in a different area that I think I would be perfect for. Today, another job I would be qualified for popped up on the job board. I was used to applying for everything that I was qualified for because our company is so large, but, I think these are in the same area. Would it look bad to apply to both of them in such a short period of time? The one I already applied to was, for example, a teapot scientist, and the other one is for a senior teapot technician. I was considering waiting a week or two to see if I hear anything about the first one and applying to the second one if not, but I’m not sure and I would appreciate any advice.

    1. Buttons*

      This probably varies from company to company. At my company, we encourage people to apply to anything they are interested in, at any of our offices, in any department.
      Do you know a recruiter in the company who might be able to answer your questions? We encourage our contractors and employees to reach out to the recruiters and HR to get feedback on their applications, resume, and interview skills.
      Good luck!

    2. EngineerMom*

      Are the positions under different managers? In my company, a teapot scientist and a teapot technician in the same area would be working under different managers, and applying to both positions wouldn’t be considered odd.

      It’s also pretty commonplace in my company for someone who is looking to move into a different area to contact the hiring manager directly about being interested, and to get a little more information about the ideal kind of person they’d like to bring into the position. In many cases, the applicant’s current manager is also involved in the discussions, working out transitions, and helping the applicant apply to best-fit scenarios, given the applicant’s career goals.

      1. Mad Scientist*

        Thank you for your comment! Unfortunately, I don’t have any of that information. Since the company doesn’t sign my paychecks, even though I’m here every day I’m still considered “external.” The Internal job posting site has the information about the hiring managers etc., but the one I can see does not. I can’t contact any recruiters or anyone in HR, or have any help, because they don’t work for my company, and the people that do work for my company don’t work for the internal company.

        1. tamarack & fireweed*

          This sounds unnecessarily … compartmentalized. Getting an informal answer to clarify whether the two job postings are basically two open slots in the same group or two similar jobs in different groups of the same department should not really depend on you being an outsider on paper. But ok, since that what it is, I’d just assume the second and apply for both, noting the different reference numbers, URLs or whatever it differentiated them on the cover letter.

          That is, if it isn’t odd for the same applicant to be interested in either job description. (FTR, it could be, or couldn’t. I’ve applied for more and less senior scientist positions in the same department, financed out of the same grant, where the less senior position was like written for me, and the more senior position was one where I was qualified for on paper, but knew they’d get candidates with a stronger (longer!) record, but where the hiring manager suggested I apply nonetheless. (And which I am clearly not getting even an interview for.) It’s not weird in my field.)

          1. tamarack & fireweed*

            Also, it occurs to me that I’ve seen cases where the same department had, for example, an opening for a database administrator and a senior database administrator, and it would not have been odd for one person to apply for both. They’d be looking at the hiring as a package — and some will only apply for the senior job (while others will either only apply for the junior job or will be manifestly unsuited for it, so at best only get an interview for that one). The dual application reduces the awkwardness in case you get interviewed for the senior job, don’t get it, but then get the junior job offered (after a second interview process).

            If the jobs are of the same seniority level — say db admin and application programmer — it’s fine, too. But I’d make sure to differentiate well in your cover letter why you’re a good fit for either, without referring to the other job opening of course. You don’t want to sound like two completely different applicants, but you also want to make clear in each cover letter why you’re both enthusiastic and a great fit to tackling either role. (Cover letter writing is a lot like essay assignment. “Write the scene in the first person from POV of person A. Now from POV of person B. Now in the third person from the perspective of the police officer…”)

    3. Kiwiii*

      I don’t think it looks odd at all to apply for multiple positions in the same team. example 1) I work at a government agency and i would say it’s pretty often that we have two pretty different positions that could reasonably have similar backgrounds. I would say we always have 2 or 3 in the top group who have applied to both. example 2) when I was interviewing for this position, I also applied for a couple similar jobs at the state college across town. HR contacted me and suggested another almost as similar position and said that they were doing that with a couple other applicants who might have been good fits for all of them.

    4. a*

      Depending on their hiring practices, applying for one position might have no relation whatsoever to applying for a different position in the same area. So, you would need to apply for any position individually. (I work in state government – you apply by position number specifically, so while there is an overall “grade” that you get from the hiring center, you have to apply for each position individually with your “grade” that qualifies you to apply at all.)

      On top of that, if they are flooded with applicants…would they notice duplicate names in applications for different positions?

    5. Transplanty*

      I say apply, apply, apply! If they get offended at an application, that’s some good information for you.

      I had applied to jobs I was qualified for in one company (teapot engineer), and sprinkled a few apps in some related areas that I was looking to break into (teapot marketing). I was interviewing for the role I was already in and the recruiter was like oh I see you applied to teapot marketing, are you interested in that? I know the manager and she would be interested in talking to someone with your experience. That’s how I got my teapot marketing job!

      Don’t blanket apply – I have heard that before. It’s so tempting, especially when there’s check the box to apply to these batches of jobs options. Certainly feel free to apply to everything open in the groups you’re interested in. But don’t apply to everything from every group a to z hoping something sticks. That kind of action looks bad.

      What you described is totally fair game, in my mind!

    6. The Other Liz*

      I just decided today, after some agonizing this week, to apply for a position at a place where I applied for a very similar position 2 weeks ago. It’s the same job but on different teams. I barely changed my cover letter, but because the application instructions indicate to send an email to jobs @ org with the job title as the subject line, I assume that it autofilters, and only one team will have seen my application – I want the second hiring team to also consider me, but I mentioned in this email that I also applied to the first team. Others may say that wasn’t the best thing to do, but hiring teams don’t always talk to each other and sometimes HR raises privacy concerns with sharing resumes with colleagues. So you might do the same thing I did!

    7. Polymer Phil*

      If you haven’t been able to break out of a string of crappy Aerotek/Yoh/Kelly temp jobs doing lab technician/QC stuff, I’d strongly recommend trying to get into technical sales or some other kind of business-oriented job where your scientific experience would be a plus. You still get to be around science, and the money and job security are much better.

  5. annnyMoose*

    I am 3 months into my new job and want to ask for some temporary remote work accommodations. I asked my coworkers their thoughts and they think it’s doable but I’m skiddish!

    The turnover on our team is very high and my coworker who has been here for 4 months is quitting next week. She initially gave her reason for leaving as not being able to work remotely enough and they accommodated her- but she’s really leaving for other reasons. I travel almost every weekend during the summer- I have some personal travel and medical stuff going on- and having the flexibility to work remote on Fridays and Mondays during this season would be immensely helpful.

    I joked to a teammate and other coworker about asking for this and they said the team would probably be open to it. My company is generally pretty open to remote work(you don’t need a ‘reason’ to do it) but there are different rules across depts and my managers tend to WFH once a week.

    I’m nervous because I’ve gotten some really mixed feedback here. My boss said I seem frustrated with my job and not engaged- but I am getting my work done, hitting deadlines, etc. I think she’s unsure if I’m happy here and in the role and she wants me to be happy. I don’t know how they would view giving me an accommodation like this but I also know they absolutely can’t afford to lose me. I don’t want to seem out of touch but I also know in the past, I haven’t taken advantage of some perks and flexibility I most likely would have gotten because of this fear. I most likely wouldn’t need to WFH this often but I’d rather ask assuming I won’t get it all.

    1. Lance*

      Just ask your boss! Lay out what you’re hoping for, work with her in figuring out how you might make it work for everyone, and don’t be afraid that something’s going to happen just because you asked. Perks exist for a reason, and if you don’t have any reason to think your boss is a bad boss (and, from what you’ve said so far, it doesn’t sound like you do), then you shouldn’t have anything at all to lose by just asking for what you want, especially when it’s in line with what might be allowable.

      Good luck!

    2. lz*

      I think generally you can totally ask about this, and worst case is they say it’s not possible. I don’t think they’d look down on you for it. However, because you are only three months in and your boss has already expressed that she’s worried if you are engaged enough, I wouldn’t ask this summer. I think next year when you are more established would be fine, but if my new employee asked to not be in the office two out of five days a week I’d worry that they weren’t going to have the face time to get to know their coworkers, ask for help, be well supervised and checked in on regularly, etc.

      1. WellRed*

        I agree here, especially since you want Fridays and Mondays off, which risks looking like you want a four-day wknd.

      2. Fortitude Jones*

        However, because you are only three months in and your boss has already expressed that she’s worried if you are engaged enough

        These are the biggest barriers to getting a yes – OP’s newness and seeming lack of engagement. If you go to your manager,OP, and make this request now, she’s going to be convinced that her impression of you being checked out of this job is true – perception is everything. If you’re not in fact checked out, for your sake, you need to have as much face time with your manager and the rest of your colleagues right now so she can believe you like it there and want to do the work.

      3. That Girl From Quinn's House*

        TBH, if you’re in a job for three months, your engagement is mostly the responsibility of your boss. If you haven’t been provided adequate training, orientation, work, and general explanations of How We Do Things Here and Here’s What You Should Do, to be engaged in your job, instead of tentative, that is her failing.

        I would consider this a red flag for the job, honestly.

    3. SezU*

      My tack is to make it about how it’s good for the company, and not just my convenience. Also, if you don’t ask, the answer is always no.

    4. Transplanty*

      I’d look at approaching it from an ADA / accommodations for medical reasons perspective primarily – or whatever legislation you have if you’re not in the US.

      You could pursue formal accommodations and that usually starts with HR and a note from your doctor, and once approved, HR tells your manager what they have to allow (but not your diagnosis).

      So you have two options – ask, if they say no, pursue accommodations. If they say yes, you’re already fine. Or just pursue accommodations from the start. Depends on how weary you are.

      I might ask first and send an email basically saying “i am in the process of managing some medical conditions that are going to impact my general health in the next few weeks until we get it under control – I am taking the appropriate steps to get there. Something that would help me manage my workflow and health would be working remotely on Monday and Fridays. Is that something we can work out?”

      You could also ask for T/R instead – that gives you a day off between work days and has the chance to look less like you’re just angling for long weekends. Unless the length of time is what you need to recover.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Why would you seem frustrated with your job? Is she just nervous because of the high turnover?

      I think I would go ahead and ask. You can preface it with an “easy out” such as “I understand if you say no, but I wanted to ask…..”

    6. BeeGee*

      Being new to the role, I would be wary about mentioning it for multiple weekends of vacation. Even if you believe that you have more sway given the turnover at the business, you might get unfairly labeled early on as someone who isn’t committed, especially given your bosses early comments on your efforts thus far (whether it’s fair or not from their perspective). If you have one particular trip this summer that you could benefit from having that flexibility, I would limit it to the one request for now.

      But if your request for remote work truly stems from medical reasons, you should definitely request it and frame it as such to your boss. Your health is paramount and good employers should offer flexibility in these instances.

      Even if you get work and projects done, know that you will always draw more scrutiny working remotely versus in the office. This coming from someone who was working remotely full time, I occasionally had to combat my boss getting paranoid when I would miss a single call from him due to a 5-10 min bathroom break, or getting a second cup of coffee from my kitchen. Yes, he was a jerk about it, and I firmly discussed with him that it was unreasonable for him to be that way in those instances. I felt like I had to work harder remotely versus in person just because I had to make sure I could prove to my boss that I was using my 9-5 effectively for work and not abusing the lack of oversight for other things.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        Your boss sounds ridiculous. I work remotely, and outside of the occasional call and our team meetings, my manager barely contacts me – I love having this much autonomy.

  6. Frustrated 3L*

    Are there any arts-related IP attorneys who would be willing to give a frustrated 3L some advice?

    I am currently a 3L at a respectably ranked midwestern law school. I had a somewhat rough 1L year due to some latent medical problems which have now been resolved. Although I had a solid 3.1 GPA (B average) my 1L year, I was unsurprisingly passed over by a lot of the big firms during OCIs last summer. I worked incredibly hard 2L year, and am now in the top 25% of my class with a great GPA. I am a summer associate at a small boutique firm. I enjoy the culture and my colleagues, but not the very niche area. Although I’m confident I’ll receive an offer from this firm, I’m not sure that this is what I want to do with my career. But, if I stayed, I could absolutely make the best of it.

    If possible, I want to break into IP law. I have interned at an art museum as their trademark and copyright intern since 2018 and I absolutely love my job.

    The only problem? I do not have a science background, so patents are pretty much off the table. I understand that patents make up a huge part of IP law, but they’re not the end all, be all. I have been told by so many people that no, you’ll never make it in this field, so don’t even bother. The stubborn person in me is now saying screw that, I want to make it happen.

    If any lawyers or IP lawyers have any advice – not matter how small – for finding a job during 3L year outside of OCI, I would greatly appreciate it. My law school does have a career services office but they haven’t been super helpful in my experience.

    I won’t be able to respond quickly because I am at work, but any help would be so, so appreciated.

    1. CTT*

      Not an IP lawyer (but a lawyer): would you feel comfortable talking to someone at the art museum where you interned about their career path? If you were working under other lawyers there, they may have more knowledge about how to break into that part of the field and the non-science side of it.

      1. Frustrated 3L*

        My position is unique; I am supervised by my university’s office of general counsel, so I don’t have immediate access to an arts IP lawyer. I am basically the only legal person at the museum. But, my boss (who is awesome) is helping me as much as she can even though IP isn’t her specialty.

      2. Officious Intermeddler*

        Not an IP lawyer (but another lawyer): CTT is right on. Look around on Linkedin or through specialty bar associations to try to find the person who has the job you think you want. Then just message/call and ask how that person got there, and whether your plan is realistic. That person will know and will probably just tell you. Honestly, I have done this before when I was thinking about changing jobs, and I have fielded plenty of calls from law students and other attorneys wondering about the same thing. At least in my neighborhood, lawyers are always willing to talk about themselves.

    2. Alice*

      Maybe academic libraries, or big public research libraries? They have a lot of copyright issues to deal with too, and no patents.

    3. University of Trantor*

      I am speaking from the perspective of a non-practicing attorney who works in higher ed.

      Even with a JD and good grades from a top-14 law school, getting into art-IP law (or sports/entertainment law) straight out of law school is going to be pretty challenging. The jobs are few and far between and generally filled with very-experienced lawyers. There’s more jobs for non-patent IP law (copyrights and trademarks), but it’s still a somewhat niche field.

      Personally, I don’t know of anyone from my JD class (of about 350 at a T14) who is in art law. For the small handful I know who are in sports/entertainment law, they worked 4-8 years in more generalized corporate law, generally at a firm with a few clients in sports and entertainment. They made efforts to work more with those particular clients and parlayed that experience into working in-house. Many also had work experience in that field prior to law school.

      If you want to pursue this, I’d aim to end up at a firm that has some art-related clients and also has a decent non-patent IP practice area (and a willingness to at least let you dabble in it). Aim to put in 7 years at the firm (or jump to a similar firm) and then see what your in-house options look like. I will caution that the in-house option is liable to pay a lot less by that point in your career.

      Since the economy is doing well (and you’re doing well at what I assume is either a top-50 law school or the best law school in your state), there is still the possibility of being hired this fall, or even spring, for your post-graduation job at a biglaw (or medium-sized) firm. I wouldn’t necessarily bank on this, though. It’s a higher-risk approach than below.

      As for your current 2L summer firm, you say you enjoy the culture and your colleagues but not so much the work. While I wouldn’t advise people to go into a practice area they hate, if it’s more ambivalence than active loathing, I’d give serious consideration to accepting an offer from your 2L firm. Lots of attorneys, especially new ones, work at firms where they do not like the work, the culture, or their colleagues. You’d get 2/3 and what sounds like a decent launchpad for your legal career.

      1. Federal Middle Manager*

        I second this advice and it is similar to my experience. I observed that, in the legal field, there was very little correlation between areas of practice that people were interested in/enthusiastic about and the jobs they got post-graduation. Our school even had “certificates” in some hot practice areas, but, for example, I don’t know anyone who actually landed an environmental law job after getting an environmental law certificate. There are just too many lawyers, and I think the hiring theory is higher the “best” person (school rank, GPA, internships) and give them the job, not the person who is enthusiastic about the practice area.

      2. Frustrated 3L*

        I’m seriously considering staying if I can’t find anything else. How much would it hurt your career to stay in one law job and then move after a few years? Would working at a niche firm hurt your chances of moving to a different area?

          1. Frustrated 3L*

            Unfortunately, no. My firm is only one of a handful in this area. A google search of the field would turn up my firm and probably my name. There are some transferrable skills, like litigation and compliance work, but the subject matter is ridiculously focused.

            1. Ginevra Farnshawe*

              Understood. To answer your general question it is common-to-expected that you will switch jobs relatively early in your career. As far as switching practice areas, that gets harder the further out you get. So, if, for example, you do, say, baltic airline restructurings, currently, you can still explain your way into a totally different field until you are two, maybe three years out. Later than that, you can still switch practice areas but difficult to switch to a totally *unrelated* practice area. Switching firms will remain easyish/typical until 5ish years out, still possible after that, but harder. (But then there are a bunch of other options and that is waaaay down the road anyway.)

      3. Katefish*

        +1 – I haven’t transitioned internal areas of law, but it’s MUCH easier to get a new job after bar results and work/court experience. Good luck!

    4. blackcat*

      An acquaintance of mine is in-house IP counsel for NBC Universal.
      The giant media corps have tons in-house IP stuff that is not copyright/creative IP, not patent IP. I’m not sure how to get one of those jobs, but maybe that’s a place to look? She likes being in-house counsel because she doesn’t have to play the billable hours game. She gets paid less than BigLaw, but makes enough to pay off her loans and she only works ~40-45 hours/week.
      It might very well make sense to get a start at your boutique firm, and then switch. That’s what she did–she worked at a mid-sized firm for a few years before getting her current job.

    5. The Rain In Spain*

      One option: if there’s an IP-specific bar group or organization in the area, reach out and see if you can attend some events. I find that many lawyers are more than willing to give advice/share insight, and that type of networking may even give you some job leads. I am not an IP lawyer (though I did briefly consider it!), but I don’t think you’ll be precluded from doing IP work just because you don’t have a science background (and it doesn’t sound like you’re looking to take the patent bar!). Practicing IP attorneys will be able to give you the best guidance- I was able to find some in my area that were willing to speak to me on an informational basis when I was starting out. Just be prepared and keep it short if you do set up a meeting with them. You can also look at alums who practice IP law and reach out to them directly.

      Good luck!

      1. In Da House counsel*

        Google your state + “Lawyers for the Arts” – nearly every state has a chapter, and most operate a free/low cost legal clinic. I ran the legal clinic for my state’s chapter for a couple of years, then served on the board for a number of years after. Great way to meet IP lawyers.

    6. JaneB*

      Probably useless anecdote-data, but if you want some “it’s possible” inspiration, I have a friend who did a history degree, then law, who now works in-house on copyright and IP for a major publishing company (books are her Thing, so she went that route). So at least one person has made a career in that area!

      1. JaneB*

        She also worked at a large international firm for a few years before making the switch for less pay, less hours and huge job satisfaction (plus they often get to help themselves to remaindered and end of run books for free!)

      2. Frustrated 3L*

        Your friend’s path lines up with my background! History major, worked for three years after college, then to law school. It’s really encouraging to see that others have made it work, even though I know it will be hard.

    7. Ginevra Farnshawe*

      Lots of ways to do this, especially if you’re not committed to litigation–though even if you are, it’s possible. I’m speaking as a general commercial litigator with some arts/entertainment clients in non IP matters, as well as a bunch of software copyright work, who has friends who have ended up in IP through various paths. Don’t even worry about patent work, it’s its own world. As far a soft IP, think about trade secrets as well as copyright/trademark, opens up a lot of opportunities.

      Some other very preliminary thoughts: your local bar association almost certainly has an arts law committee and other committees relevant to your interests, go to those committee’s events and write the panelists after to ask for a meeting. They usually have cheap tickets for students. (I find local associations a lot more useful than, for example, the ABA.)

      Trademark is probably less saturated than copyright–not that you have to pigeonhole yourself yet–and a lot of the best trademark firms don’t have the same kind of overall name recognition as the big firms you probably spoke to during OCI and won’t sneer at a rough 1L year. They also often don’t hire brand new lawyers, and your school’s career office doesn’t know the first thing about them so has nothing to offer. You could do a lot worse than taking a job at the firm you’re at now or another general practice firm, and getting in touch with legal recruiters early on (as well as watching job boards, which a lot more firms use than they used to), with the expectation you will move in a year or two. (More than three and it gets trickier–not to switch firms, but to switch practice areas). Don’t know how niche your current practice is but most lawyering is transferrable skills and an early career move from an area of practice you don’t care about to one you do is incredibly common and not difficult for you or a recruiter to sell. Re recruiters, several ways to make that happen, but they will find you on LinkedIn if you have the right keywords–keep the museum work on there–and the “open to opportunities” setting.
      Recruiters will try to tell you you should work exclusively with them, which is really just not true, especially if you are looking at smaller/midsized firms, so don’t listen to that. Your museum work is a big deal. May be that if you get an offer from your current place they’ll let you keep doing some of that pro bono–worth asking. Keep it on your firm bio regardless (“prior to joining Teapot & Kettle LLP, Frustrated was a trademark and copyright intern at the Illinois Museum of Taxidermy.”)

      Another path I have seen folks take are govt. jobs involving asset forfeiture–interesting repatriation/valuation issues–but that can involve some ugly work too, especially early on.

    8. Glomarization, Esq.*

      If you get an offer with your current firm, go ahead and take it. But also investigate which of the larger firms near you have entertainment/arts practice areas, and apply to them. If you’re hired you probably can’t choose your practice area right away, but you can have a 5-year plan or something to end up there. In the meantime, join the IP group or committee in your local/regional bar association. You’ll meet firm lawyers and also solo lawyers doing this kind of work.

      Join the board of directors of a local arts organization. I also like In Da House counsel’s suggestion to volunteer with your local “lawyers for the arts” organization.

      One thing to understand is that the big players — symphony orchestras, book publishers, museums, well-known artists themselves — tend not to hire small-firm and solo lawyers. They already have long-standing arrangements with their own local Biglaw and/or they draw their in-house counsel from Biglaw, and both parties thrive on the perceived prestige of being associated with each other.

      This path was unrealistic for me. So I’ve found arts-related work by doing generalist work for artists: help them get their 501(c)(3) determination letters, settle a payment dispute in their day job, oh, and negotiate a licensing agreement here and there as well.

      Good luck! IP law is tough to break into.

    9. Ginevra Farnshawe*

      Really, I am eye-rolling at whoever is saying “you’ll never make it in this field, why bother.” Of course nothing is ever guaranteed and it’s good to stay flexible, but it’s perfectly reasonable to shoot for if you have interest/aptitude. FFS it’s IP law, not like, becoming a late-in-life ballerina.

      1. Frustrated 3L*

        Right! It was a partner at a biglaw networking event in the nearby midsize midwestern city. I got the feeling that this guy was a jerk, and that comment cemented it.

    10. Anonymousse*

      I also second University of Trantor’s comment below because I had a law school classmate who had a previous career and advanced education background from an elite university in archaelogy who had trouble finding an art law/soft IP position with median grades out of an upper T14.

      I believe USPTO has a special Honors Program for entry level trademark attorneys (the application opens typically in the fall). It’s really hard to break into soft IP sans technical background as a firm associate because there are so many qualified candidates but this is one of those things where the more experience you have, the more desirable you’ll be as a job candidate.

      1. Anonymousse*

        *educational” and I meant to say to refer the comment above my own. This Friday afternoon has not been kind to my brain so please forgive my typos.

    11. Coverage Associate*

      Senior associate here. I don’t know how to break into “soft” IP (ie not patents). I do know that I was pretty dismayed at the partners’ reaction to a 3L applicant with lots of experience in another practice area. I guess they were worried if we hired him, he’d leave quickly because he really wanted to be in that practice area. Post recession, I think new lawyers are happy to have almost any steady job, and I hate putting people in small professional boxes before they’re even out of school.

      1. Frustrated 3L*

        Yeah, that is exactly what I’m worried about. The more I’ve worked at this firm this summer, the more I’ve realized I don’t know anything. If I can’t get into IP right away, I at least want to learn and grow as much as I can as a young associate. To be honest, besides a class on IP and my externship, I haven’t solely focused on it through my classes (mostly because my law school is fairly small so we don’t have a robust menu of classes anyway). So I’m probably just as qualified to do almost anything else.

    12. TheRunningFlan*

      Publishing has a growing need for rights managers and IP lawyers. I’d recommend looking into places like University Presses and sites like Publishers Marketplace to see which big publishers or smaller indie presses are in need of help!

    13. SciDiver*

      Not a lawyer, but my partner is finishing up law school this year at a small school that’s pretty highly ranked for it’s IP program. Anecdotes only here, no real data but 1) she connected during her 1L with an IP attorney in Small East Coast City who does all the patent litigation for his small firm and never took the patent bar since he’s not doing any prosecution, and 2) a fellow summer associate at the larger firm she’s currently at is part of the IP team but has no science background at all and little to no IP experience (and will likely be getting an offer to stay in their IP division). I don’t doubt it’s been tough for these two to navigate the IP world without that box checked off, but it’s doable! No advice for next year, but I’m glad you’re keeping at it and congrats on bringing up your GPA and rank, that’s a lot of hard work.

    14. Zenomorph*

      You might want to think outside the box, in terms of employers. I worked at a famous PBS station that produces lots of well-known PBS TV shows. This organization had multiple entertainment law lawyers and paralegals who dealt with copyright, licensing, trademark, talent issues, contracts, etc. But this was a non-profit, so pay was not great.

    15. Lurky Lurkerson*

      I’m late to this party, but here are a couple of things to consider:

      It’s very impressive to turn your GPA around like you did! One way to highlight that on your resume is through something like “GPA: 3.XX (2L GPA: 3.YY)”.

      If there is anyone on your faculty (including adjuncts) who teaches or practices in copyright or trademark law, you might want to talk to them about your career interests/plans, if you haven’t already. You mentioned that your career services office hasn’t been super helpful, but that doesn’t necessarily tell you anything about how helpful members of your faculty might be. They might be connected to (or at least aware of) firms or organizations of interest to you, or they might not, but it’s probably worth a conversation. (I’m a law prof, and a lot of us really like to be helpful in this way when we can!)

    16. Mockingbird*

      I’ve been practicing in soft IP (non-patent IP) for about 25 years, in the licensing field, drafting and negotiating license agreements. (Like you, I don’t have a hard science undergrad.) There’s lots of work, and I’ve enjoyed my practice. I will say that for me it’s mostly software licensing, but some art and literary licensing occasionally comes my way. I shifted into this field from general corporate transactional law/M&A when I was about 5 years out of law school.

      Personally, I’d say take the boutique firm’s offer unless you find something better before they make you an offer (unlikely), give it a year or two and then start looking around again.

  7. Bee's Knees*

    Yesterday was super not fun. I am pretty sure that now that our friend Hellmouth is no longer in the Hellmouth, the energy has dissipated to other places. One of them is here. I had to fix some payroll issues, deal with a cranky boss, feed what was supposed to be 50 but turned out to be 65 people, take some unexpected conference calls, and go get a… toothpaste from my doctor, because people don’t give their hobgoblins toothpaste, and they spread lollipops. And I don’t want to die from a preventable… cavity. And if you think I’m talking about something else, I’m sure you’re mistaken. I also made one guy mad, because one of the conference calls was with our payroll people to try and get some things sorted out, and he needed some non-urgent paperwork that I made him wait for.

    Our local Italian place also lied to me. They say their trays can feed 18 to 20 people. Really, it’s like 15 maybe if those people are full grown and hungry men. So I’m pretty sure we ran out of food. I’m not sure, because I had to leave to go get on a conference call that I was told started at 12:30. I dialed in, and greeted the other participants, who were surprised I was there. Our call started at 1:00. I hung up and did not mention it when it was our turn.

    I’m very glad to have the weekend off. I’ve been super tired lately, the kind where you could cry at the smallest upset. Yesterday was so bad I pulled up the Georgia Aquarium webcam (aquariums are soothing) and did some deep breathing. I think I need some time off.

    Hope everyone has a lovely weekend, full of rest.

    Also, thanks to everyone who recommended dress pants with actual pockets in the open thread a couple of weeks ago. I got some from Banana Republic, and I could fit my whole hand just past my wrist in there!

      1. Bee's Knees*

        They have a bunch of them! https://www.georgiaaquarium.org/webcam/ocean-voyager/
        This is the big tank, but they have others too. I like it because I have two monitors, and there isn’t sound with it. It’s easy to have on while you’re working, because it’s super unlikely you’ll miss something, and it doesn’t matter if you have to step away for a minute.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          AND A PUFFIN CAM!!! I’m so hoping it’s “just” outside the corporate firewall and not offline permanently because, well, Puffins are cute.

      2. Peachkins*

        National Aquarium in Baltimore has several as well. Blacktip Reef is my favorite.

        Sorry you’re having issues, OP. Hope you enjoy a relaxing weekend as well!

    1. Construction Safety*

      Unremarkably, trays which are supposed to feed 15 people, certainly do not feed 15 construction workers. I double the orders.

      1. Bee's Knees*

        I think if I had added one more tray, we would have been fine. Boss went and picked up a couple of pizzas, and most of those were left. I’ll know for in the future though!

      1. Forrest Rhodes*

        Second the yay! But how did I miss this? Have been looking for her updates—when did this happen?

        1. Bee's Knees*

          A couple of weeks ago? I’ve been not at work the last two Fridays, so the week before that?

        2. Peachkins*

          A couple weeks back. She found a new, but almost identical job but with a better company. I was hoping to hear how the new gig was going, but I don’t think she posted anything last week.

          1. I WORKED on a Hellmouth*

            I took the whole week off from internetting and the like so I could detox a little before I started the new gig.

          1. Jules the 3rd*

            Not last week, but the one before, so Jun 28th. Before the Hellmouth computer system went down Jul 1…

        3. I WORKED on a Hellmouth*

          I got out a little over two weeks ago! I posted about it that Friday, but was unplugged last week so no post-Hellmouth write ups since then.

        1. Daniela*

          Webcam…thank you so much!! I’m going to fill my Friday with this, and calming, mindless spreadsheets. :-)

    2. Dame Judi Brunch*

      Bee’s Knees, I’m so sorry about your crummy week! It sounds exhausting.
      I missed Hellmouth’s update, that is great news!

      1. Jackers*

        I think it’s code for vaccinations… and you can take the rest of the analogy from there.

    3. I WORKED on a Hellmouth*

      NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

      The Hellmouth is definitely lashing out. It even specifically reached out to me at the new job this week. So this is plausible. I suggest garlic, holy water, and rock salt stockpiling until it dies down.

      1. Forrest Rhodes*

        LOL, and really glad to hear of your escape–though selfishly, I’ll miss your lively and absorbing updates. Even while I was saying, “She’s GOT to get outta there!” I’d be laughing out loud at the way you presented them.
        Can’t help you out with the holy water, but let me know if you’re running low on garlic and rock salt.
        All the best to you!

        1. I WORKED on a Hellmouth*

          HA! I just snorted in the middle of the new office and had to make it seem like a sneeze.

    4. sun of two normal distributions*

      “I’ve been super tired lately, the kind where you could cry at the smallest upset.”

      I felt this on a spiritual level. Hope you have the most restful weekend!

  8. Sister Spider*

    This is a pretty simple question, but as a phone-phobic Old Millenial ™, how should I answer the phone at work? I’m not a receptionist but I occasionally confer with outside parties and everything feels awkward.

    1. Adlib*

      If I’m answering an internal call, I just say “This is [Name].” If I’m answering an outside call, I say basically the same, just with “hello” on the front of it.

    2. No Tribble At All*

      “Hi, this is Sister Spider, how can I help you?” if you know people are calling you directly, or, if you represent a department: “Hi, this is Sister Spider, Web Development, how can I help you?”

    3. ZSD*

      I say, “Teapots Incorporated, this is ZSD,” for external calls. For internal calls, I say, “This is ZSD.”

      1. A. Ham*

        This is exactly what I do.
        Except if it is internal and the name comes up on my phone as someone I know well/work with often, i just say “hi”. :-)

      2. New Normal*

        That’s what I do! And I’ve been complimented on my phone etiquette so apparently it works.

    4. Box of Kittens*

      “Thanks for calling Company, this is Name, how can I help you?” Feels weird at first but you’ll get used to it. People who call businesses expect this type of response. Better than just “Hello” because if they’ve dialed the wrong company or extension they know right away.

      1. LKW*

        This works for external callers but I’d take off the “this is company name” for internal calls.

      2. She's One Crazy Diamond*

        I had someone respond “What’s up?” once when I called their business (they definitely did not personally know me). It was so bizarre I didn’t know how to respond, but I definitely thought I could’ve dialed the wrong number.

      3. zora*

        I feel like this is too long, honestly. I mean, it probably depends on the company, we don’t get a ton of cold outside calls, it’s usually people who know our company or other employees calling my phone. But I just do a simple: “Company, This is Zora”. People are not as used to phone calls any more these days and a long greeting just feels loonggg.

        1. Rosaline Montague*

          I agree. This is the script I had to use at OldJob and even in 2000 it felt a bit too long

      4. tamarack and fireweed*

        That only works if you expect calls from customers or clients, and B2C customers (rather than B2B customers at that). I work in a university, and not in a department where I’d expect random students to call with inquiries. Most call that I might get are for me, personally. Most of them will be internal. External calls usually will be from someone who would have gotten my name, specifically, from someone else, or from someone I know. So for me it’s usually fine to say “Hi, this is [given name] speaking.” Sometimes — an external call from a caller ID that rings no bell at all, I use [full name] instead of [given name].

        But the question to ask is really who calls and what information they need. When I call the IT department, HR, certain grant offices or units, or another of a number of well-identified department that will be called by people who have a question from that *department* as a whole, it’s usually “X department, this is [name]”. As we are in an informal part of the world, [name] means whatever version people are most comfortable with. (Which can be a bit funny if you call the vice-chancellor for research and are greeted with “This is Harry!”, but chances are he isn’t available directly and his assistant will get the call, in which case it’s “VCR Office”. Personal assistants tend to be the only ones who don’t say their own name.

    5. Not Me*

      Have you noticed how your co-workers answer the phone? With an outside call a lot of people answer it “Company Name this is Sister Spider, how can I help you?” or with internal I hear a lot of simply “This is Sister Spider”.

    6. Matilda Jefferies*

      For external calls, or internal calls from people I don’t know well, I say “Matilda Jefferies speaking.” If it’s someone I know well, I usually just say “Matilda speaking.”

      Even though I usually know who’s calling, I don’t lead with their name (Hi Sister Spider!) unless we’re REALLY close friends or we’ve been having one of those conversations with multiple calls back and forth throughout the day.

    7. Ruth (UK)*

      I think it depends on what kind of office you work in and how likely people are to know you already if they call… But I normally just answer stating who/where I am. So, if I worked in the Admissions office of a university, I might say, “Hello, Admissions.” or if I worked in the Linguistics Reception I’d say, “Hello, Linguistics Reception”. In my old job, (let’s say the company was called Teapots Incorporated) it was a small enough company that I would answer with just, “Hello, Teapots Incorporated.” If I’ve picked up someone else’s phone for them, I might say, “Hello, this is Bob’s phone, Ruth speaking”.

      If I am being called internally and I can see who’s calling me, and I know them, I often just say, “Hi Bob” (though sometimes they say, “oh I’m just using Bob’s phone!”).

      If you’re really stuck, I’d just go for, “Hello, [name] speaking”

    8. MCL*

      Good morning/afternoon, [my department name,] this is MyName!
      Or
      Good morning/afternoon, this is MyName!

      Enough information to let them know they’ve called the right number is all you need! Keep it short, polite, and simple, and you’re all good. (From one millennial to another.)

    9. epi*

      When I had to answer the phone 90% of calls were internal from my organization, and maybe 60-70% internal from my department. So my response just depended on if I could see the call was coming from my department or another one.

      My department: “This is epi”
      Other department: “Medical Imaging Research, this is epi”

      The occasional external call would get a full sentence like “Medical Imaging Research at Mars University Hospital, this is epi” if I expected it to be a patient/someone with a right to be calling me. And just “this is epi” if I had reason to suspect spam/sales/wrong number.

      1. RabbitRabbit*

        This is how I do it, working at a hospital.

        I don’t get too informal – maybe just answering it as “hello!” if I know the caller pretty well – as sometimes people will talk at someone’s desk and then borrow the person’s phone to call someone else.

        I saw a doctor borrow a coworker’s phone to call someone who turned out to be the friend of the coworker – and said other person answered the phone with something like “hey chica, ‘sup!” and confused the doctor. The other person said later she was glad she wasn’t a bit more salty in her language that day.

    10. cmcinnyc*

      I answer, Company Name, This is My Name. (Like Acme Hardware, this is Jane!) I know my dad just barks his full name into the phone because once I called home while he was deep in a project at the dining room table and that’s how he answered.

      1. Sally*

        I usually just answer with my full name, but now I’m thinking I might need to change that to “Hi, this is Sally.” Unless I make an effort not to, I know I can come across as unfriendly, and I don’t want people to be put off. (I don’t FEEL unfriendly, but I’m shy, and that’s how it comes across.)

    11. BlueWolf*

      Generally, if I can see it’s an external call, I answer with “[Company Name], this is [my name]”. If it’s internal, I’ll usually just answer with “Hi, this is [my name]” if it’s someone I don’t usually speak with or sometimes I just say “Hi [their name]” if it’s someone who calls me a lot since I can see who is calling on the caller ID.

    12. Free Meerkats*

      If I look at CID, external – “{Division name}, this is Meerkats.” Internal – “This is Meerkats.”

      If I don’t look, external version.

    13. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      If it’s an outside line, I say the name of the organization… “Thank you for calling Teapot University, this is Man Behind the Curtain, how may I help you.” If it’s internal and I don’t recognize the caller, I say my name, “This is Man Behind the Curtain” …with a friendly upward inflection. If it’s internal and I do recognize the name I say “Hi Fergus, what’s up?” If it’s internal and I know the person and I know they will talk my ear off and try to dictate paragraphs of content to me rather than write it down in an email…I let that sh*t go to voicemail.

      1. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

        Just don’t do what I’ve done and accidentally blurt out the name of a company you worked at 20 years ago — thanks middle age brain — or “Ok, I love you, bye,” when ending the call.

    14. Holly Flax*

      I vary my response depending on how people are routed to me to avoid confusion. We have an automated receptionist at work so my responses vary based on how they come to me. I say “Hello, this is Holly” if I can tell they were routed by using my extension, “Company Name, this is Holly” if they use my direct number or “Human Resources, this is Holly” if they come in from the dial by department directory. Any one of these responses is pretty standard.

    15. Moray*

      As another phone-phobic I’ve found that the important thing is to decide on your greeting and stick with it, maybe even practice in advance. The more confident your opening line is, the more confident you will feel for the rest of the call. And silly as it seems, you can also have a few more stock phrases to drill into your brain so they feel more natural when you pull them out:

      “I’m not sure off the top of my head, give me just a minute and I’ll find that out for you.”
      “Oh, you’re very welcome!”
      “Hold on just a moment, I’ll transfer you.”
      “Thank you, I appreciate your time.”
      “I hope that was helpful!”
      “Feel free to give me a call back if you have any other questions.”

      Also, know how to clearly spell out your email address so you can give it over the phone! Memorize the commonly-mistaken letters (like D and B) in their phonetic-alphabet (“Sure! My email is D-as-in-dog, O, L, B-as-in-boy) etc, so you don’t have to repeat yourself a bunch.

      1. EH*

        I 100% practiced when I was in a role that included answering the phone. And I agree about the spelling things out – I sort of learned it by accident when I had to correct people a lot for my name (which is a weird one). Thinking about that in advance helps a lot.

    16. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Outside parties should be greeted with “Business Name”, “Your Name” and “How may I help you?” in most situations, especially if they may be customers. Always add the business name because man it STINKS to realize you have the wrong GD number because you just called up Company and they started out with “This is Sarah, how may I help you?” and you are talking only to be told “Oh gurl, you’ve got the wrong number.” Instead if you hear ‘This is Amazon, how may I help you?” you go “OH darn I meant to call WalMart, sorry about that.”

      But really, seriously. Every company is different. Ask someone or listen to how your colleagues do it! Most don’t have a huge script and it’s really easy to pick up on.

    17. Marzipan*

      Some offices have a specific formula they want you to follow, in which case go with that.

      Otherwise, I go with something combining:

      – what organisation/department this is
      – who I am
      – a greeting

      So, maybe “Good morning, Spout Department, Marzipan speaking,” or whatever.

    18. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

      Because our phone systems don’t always show if it is a transfer, even if I think it is a coworker, I answer the phone “Thanks for calling Penguins Inc, this is I GOTS”

    19. MarfisaTheLibrarian*

      Keep it simple, include the necessary information. “Good morning, *my name*” or “Good morning, *department*” is usually good. I get annoyed by call center/customer service opening lines of “Good morning, thank you for calling *company*, NAME speaking, how can I help you today.”
      People want to know that they’ve reached the person or department that they needed to reach, so that’s all you *need* to include. A “hello” or “good morning” is nice.

      1. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

        +1 on the call center speak — I hate when they throw in gimmicky marketing phrases, “I’m here to serve” “The home of sparkly spouts” “What can I make fresh for you today?” “Today is a beautiful day at Sunny Farms.”

    20. Anonymous Educator*

      I usually go with something like “Hi, this is Sister Spider,” and then let the person identify herself and say what she’s calling me about.

    21. Mbarr*

      I only get phone calls from people contacting me specifically (e.g. “I want to speak to Mbarr” and not “I want to speak to someone in X department”), so I just reply, “[First Name Last Name] speaking.”

      (My fave was when I worked in a French office. My job was in English and therefore when the phone rang, it was usually a wrong number, or work related. When I first started, I’d answer the phone in French, but that would prompt the person to start talking really fast in French and I wouldn’t follow… After awhile, I started answering the phone in English – the person immediately realized they had the wrong number, would apologize, then hang up.)

    22. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

      “Good morning/afternoon, Company Name, Wondering speaking” (external calls)
      “Hello, Wondering” (internal calls)

    23. LGC*

      Oh, I hear you! In some sense, I’m really glad we have desk phones and VoIP – that means I can usually see who’s calling.

      My default greeting is my company name and my name – which is awkward because our name is long! I might just go to our initials.

      With internal calls (like if one of my employees calls out sick), I’ll usually say, “Hey, what’s up?” (We’re not very formal!) I’ve even been known to drop a “new phone who dis” on my coworkers (they expect those shenanigans from me).

      Basically, it’s context dependent. Confirm they’re talking to the right person (I’ve gotten quite a few misrouted calls since my extension used to be nearly the same as a vocational counselor’s – I learned how to do transfers VERY quickly), and be pleasant.

    24. That Girl From Quinn's House*

      I usually say, “Llama Department, MyName speaking” if they’ve called my office, and “Llama Barn” if I’m answering a communal phone that’s meant for reaching whoever is on rotation in that location at that moment.

    25. TeapotDetective*

      “Good afternoon, this FirstName at Teapot Fraud Department on a monitored and recorded line, how can I help you?”
      Blurb abt monitoring is company-mandated for legal reasons, everything else is just IDing myself/my company in case of wrong numbers, and generally being polite.

    26. Existentialista*

      “Teapot Handle-Painting, this is Existentialista”.

      But these days I very rarely pick up the phone when it rings, because it seems like the only people who phone me are cold-calling spammers. I let it go through to voice mail and reply only if I need to, which means the other person has to figure out how to answer…

    27. NothingIsLittle*

      OOOOO MY TIME HAS COME! I used to be super phone-phobic before I had a few receptionist-type jobs.
      My favorite has always been: “This is *company name* department of *blank* NothingIsLittle speaking. How can I help you?”
      But if it’s an interior call from someone I work closely with, it’s just, “Hi *caller’s name* what can I do for you?” or if it’s internal, but not someone I know well, “Department of *blank* this is NothingIsLittle,” works.

      As for getting over the awkward feeling, it’s a “give it time” type deal. You could always practice your answering phrase, which is what I did every time I changed jobs, so that you know you’re going to answer appropriately.

    28. Cat Meowmy Admin*

      This is literally my wheelhouse! As a front-line Admin, I’ve been doing this for decades. There have been variations depending on the organization, but this is pretty much how it goes:
      External calls:
      1) “Company Name, Admin speaking, how may I help you?”
      2) Internal calls: “Dept. Name, Admin
      Speaking”
      3) Years ago, I omitted the “good morning/afternoon”* from the greeting. It’s very easy to lose track of time when busy, and easy to mistakenly say “good morning” when its actually 1:30 in the afternoon.
      This also keeps the greeting SHORT & SWEET. Brief and politely helpful, you can’t go wrong.
      (*unless your company wants to include that)
      4) Other tips: (obvious, but not for everyone) Be sure to repeat back /confirm what the caller stated, get their name/phone #/email. Jot everything down. Clarify whether a spelling is “d” as in dog, “c” as in cat, “f” as in fish, “s” as in seal; these letters are easily misinterpreted on phone calls.
      5) Observe your coworkers and how they answer calls, then follow suit. It’s usually okay to modify with your own style and personality (professional and courteous of course).
      It’s a great question to ask, and glad you did! :)

    29. Mr. Shark*

      I’m just a “This is Mr. Shark” when I answer. Typically if someone is calling me from outside, they know who they are calling and where I work, so I don’t add that information. I don’t typically work with a lot of outside company people, but if I did they would be calling me specifically for a reason and would know who I am.

      I can see doing a “[department], this is Mr. Shark” or “[company], this is Mr. Shark, how can I help you” if you deal with a lot of people outside your area.

    30. Zombeyonce*

      My tried-and-true is “[Company Name], Zombeyonce speaking.” Short and to the point. Feels businesslike and gives all the info you need without feeling like an awkward drawn-out greeting that feels like a memorized speech.

    31. Laura H.*

      “Good morning/ afternoon/ evening, you’ve reached [business name], this is [name], how may I help you?”

    32. fhqwhgads*

      If can tell it’s an external caller “Company Name, This is Human Name”.
      If internal just “This is Human Name”.
      Substituting the actual names of course.

  9. Wendy*

    If you’re a POC, would you consider it a red flag if an organisation of around 100 people had less than five other POCs?

    1. dealing with dragons*

      How do they frame it? I was at a company that “valued diversity” and of the 10ish c levels and svp, 1 was not white, 1 was a white female, and the rest were white.

      Most of their promotions were around fostering this diversity and it’s what I use as a red flag.

          1. valentine*

            would you consider it a red flag
            Yes! It’s extremely painful being literally surrounded by a wall of whiteness.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        Yeah, same. Although I guess this also depends on the general demographics of the area. I’m in Houston, where it would be SUPER WEIRD. But I know there are other places where, unless they are commuting from far away, it would not be surprising. My great-aunt’s hometown is like 93% white. 0_O

        1. cmcinnyc*

          I’m in NYC where POC are the majority and it would legit make me seriously look around and wonder where is everybody? But where I grew up, it’s super white and having 5 POC would mean the company had an effective diversity program.

        2. Zombeyonce*

          Demographics is really important. I live in Portland, OR, which is maybe the whitest city in the US, unfortunately. 5% of employees being POC probably closely reflects actual city demographics here, but it varies wildly across the US. I wouldn’t consider it a red flag unless it’s out of sync w/the local population.

          That being said, I’d definitely pay attention to the distribution. If all managers and up are white men (with a possible single token POC or white woman), that’s a massive red flag.

    2. MusicWithRocksInIt*

      I’ve wondered that about my workplace before. I’m not a POC, but in my building of about 150 employees there are two POC, though a surprisingly good gender mix. I feel like part of it is that we are in the middle of nowhere… but that isn’t enough to explain away the ratio. This is actually the least toxic place I’ve ever worked (both other places were super white, but once you got to know my bosses that was not a surprise) but I still question if it isn’t more toxic than I notice because of the disparity.

    3. Anonned*

      I think it depends a bit on the demographics of the area. If you’re in an area that’s 50% white, then definitely. I’d be possibly concerned for a company that had a majority white workforce by any noticeable ratio in that circumstance. Conversely, if it’s a small town in Sweden where the population of the town is made up of almost entirely white Swedes, and the company had only 1 or 2 people who were not white Swedes, then no. I think the demographics of the company need to be proportional to demographics of the area.

      1. Bee's Knees*

        One of the counties that about 60% of our workforce comes from has about 3% of the population of the county that is non-white. Our org of about 160 (at our location) has about 20 people that are not white men. We live and work in an area of the country that isn’t super developed. It’s not that we don’t want to hire POC (or women, for that matter!) It’s just that they usually don’t apply, because not a lot of people move to this area.

      2. YetAnotherUsername*

        It depends not only on current demographics but also historical demographics and the intersection of socio-economic factors with race.

        Let’s say you have e.g. An engineering firm in an area with 10% POC, but only 5% of their engineers are POC. On the face of it it looks like outright racism. But if you look at historical factors or socio economic factors, you might find out that over the last 20-40 years only 2% of engineering graduates in this area have been POC. Suddenly the 5% looks very different.

        So basically, it depends.

        1. Engineer Girl*

          I strongly agree with this. You need to look at the available pool of candidates before you can discern if there are problems.
          For example, a company with 40% women engineers is going to be an outstanding place to work when you realize that only 10-20% of graduates are women.
          Underrepresented minorities will flock to a company where they will get equal opportunity.

          1. The New Wanderer*

            I (female) had an onsite interview last year at a very large tech company where the majority of my interviewers for a technical job, including two levels of management, were female. In 24 years of working, it was my first ever experience with a non-male majority set of interviewers, and one of the very few instances where the women involved were not exclusively HR/recruiting.

            I only have experience with really large US-based companies but it feels like things are gradually shifting in terms of workforce diversity, at least in the newer employee ranks (obvs not saying that’s happening for everyone all over, just my limited exposure). I’m not sure that’s as common for smaller companies that are built more on the individual personalities of the C-suite, or where hiring might be more insular (startups in some cases). In those cases and with no other factors like location-based demographics, if there’s such a small number of POC, I’d be wary. A few POC posters here have said in the past that they dread becoming The Minority Representative because there are so few – even with a serious and sincere investment in diversity, it could be slow going before you are the employee who is POC rather than the POC employee.

      3. zora*

        I’m not a POC, but I agree it’s a yellow flag depending on the geographic location. And, I would add what positions those 5 POC are in.

        Whatever you do, don’t come to our company where we have 3 POC in a company of 300+. It’s really frustrating and a major reason I am looking to leave.

      4. LunaLena*

        Yeah, this is what I was thinking as well. I’m a POC, and I’ve worked in areas that are overwhelmingly white (as in, many people weren’t sure how to approach me because they had literally never met an Asian in the workplace before) and I was the only POC in the office. I currently work in an area that is more diverse, though, and my workplace definitely reflects that.

    4. Nova*

      Not red, but yellow flag.

      The position of the few POC matters too. It depends to an extent on how cosmopolitan the area is, and whether the POC are american born or foreigners on temporary visas.
      I wouldn’t refuse an offer if that was the only thing wrong. But I’d try hard to determine if it’s a reasonably open company that just happens to have few POC (as much as these things just happen), or if it’s the kind of company that just happens to not hire POC because they never ‘fit the culture’.
      I’d look at how many women are in the C-suite. Maybe also the class makeup (as in : are all the C-suite WASP Ivy Leagues or did some people get there by climbing up the ladder?).
      I’d try to figure out how they take feedback, what the networking/after work culture is. Basically, to see if it’s a closed insiders’ club, or not.

      And then there’s the gut feeling on how they treat me.

    5. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I’m not POC but I’m well aware of what diversity should look like. Yeah that would be a red flag to me personally. We’re a crew of much less and given the numbers of applicants, it would be sketchy AF if we were all white, tbh.

      It depends on your area of course too. I’m originally from small-town USA where it’s simply due to the fact that there are so few minorities around because it’s not a place people tend to move to, you are born there and you stay or you leave, new people aren’t flooding in for any reason because why would they, it’s a dirt-town. But yeah, in a diverse metro area, that’s a huge “WTF” red flag.

    6. stack it up*

      Might depend on the organization? I work in a field that is n o t o r i o u s l y white dominated, so it might raise an eyebrow but not be a red flag about the organization in particular – other factors would have to play into that.

    7. Bex*

      I would definitely consider it a yellow flag, unless it was in a place where the population was extremely white (like, 90%+)

    8. R*

      I think it depends on geographic location and industry? If the geographic mix is 50/50 then yeah, 5/100 doesn’t look great. Also depends on what positions they hold, as others have said. My company is technically diverse but you will see that all the POC are in ‘lower’ positions. (Also our head of HR said we are diverse because we have Singaporeans. In the Singapore office. *Internal scream*)

    9. Agent J*

      I’m a POC woman. It’s a yellow flag with other considerations that could make it red:
      – Do the POC actively participate in the culture or do they seem to be outside of it?
      – Are there any POC in positions of influence (not just the C-Suite or senior execs…but do people listen when they offer leadership/direction/advice, etc.)?
      – Do they have diversity initiatives? If so, who is driving them?

      Do you have any connections at this company or anyone who can introduce you so you can get a look into the day-to-day feel of the company?

    10. Policy Wonk*

      Where I work positions often require advanced degrees and veterans have preference. Given those qualifiers, we skew white male, though we do have employees who are female and POC. The last position I advertised, only one applicant was not a white male; that person accepted another agency’s offer over mine. It’s like what Annoned said earlier – does this reflect the demographics of the area? Or in my case of the job qualifications? If not, yes this is a reg flag.

    11. Anonymous Educator*

      I’ve definitely worked places where I was one of only two or three POCs, and it wasn’t the best, but there is a difference between just the normal racism you face in the world and the organization reflecting that vs. amplified and super toxic in-your-face racism, which maybe the organization has, too.

      I’d approach it with caution, but I wouldn’t rule it out, necessarily. Also depends on where you are in the country.

    12. Inefficeint Cat Herder*

      Agree with other poster about demographics. I live in one of the whitest places in the US (culture shock!) but my org is much more diverse than the local population. Still looks pretty darn white though. Also look at retention if you can. If the non-majority people who work there have been there for a long time, it may be a sign that they feel supported (of course, it may also be that the local job market just really sucks)

    13. Sunshine*

      POC here – It depends on the industry and the area where the organisation is. Are these inclusive thinking individuals or not? With only 100 people, there’s probably not enough people to recruit for diversity.

    14. LKW*

      Depends on where you are. If you’re in North Dakota, that might be really good. If you’re in Florida, that would be a huge red flag.

    15. She's One Crazy Diamond*

      I’m a PoC (but white passing) and currently work at a large organization with very few PoC. Most of the time it’s okay, but there are times where it does bother me, like for example we even have an equity committee but there’s only one other PoC besides me and tons of white women, and sometimes all I can think is “how are we supposed to implement racial equity when this group doesn’t even represent the types of people we’re trying to help?” We’ve definitely been trying a lot harder to recruit PoC when we hire though, which gives me some hope.

    16. Leela*

      Not POC but female and Queer and here’s what I’ll say:

      People think it’s a coincidence when their company lacks X demographic and when I’m one of the lacking demographics and I show up, I can tell that it’s not a coincidence. They don’t know how to attract or retain these candidates, or they’re outright not hiring them.

      Even when I get in, they don’t know how to handle having me there. Without a diverse workforce, they don’t know what it means for a woman to be faced with different situations and they’re definitely not considering the differences in my experience versus the experience of a man there. I imagine it’s much like this for POC but I couldn’t say for sure

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        It’s definitely like that. I’m a black woman who has always worked for very white companies, and most of them don’t feel the need to try to attract racially diverse talent nor do they do much of anything to include those of us who are there in anything. I care nothing about it, really. I go in, kick ass, collect my paycheck, and when they no longer pay me what I believe I’m worth, I roll out.

    17. medium of ballpoint*

      I’d actually be more curious about the attrition rate of POCs. Do they hire them frequently and then lose them or are they not hired at all? In my industry, a great red flag is whether multiple women and/or POC leave in a row because that point I can be pretty well guaranteed I’m on a sinking ship.

    18. Ms.Vader*

      Just wondering that if they have recognized their need for more diversity and are actively trying to achieve that, will it not be impossible to do so if people don’t take a chance that this isn’t a red flag? Maybe they’ve been actively trying to become more diverse but nobody will take the chance? How do you suss that out?

    19. tamarack and fireweed*

      It might slightly depend on where you are in the world and who counts as POC in that particular location. (Small-town Finland or say the police command in the Shetland Islands may be just too homogeneous, ethnically speaking, for example. Or in Poland, oppressed minorities may still all be “white”.) But for most places in North America and Central and Eastern Europe, yeah, that’s low. (Where I am, parts of the organization do have this issue, even if the overall institution does a little better.)

  10. peachie*

    I asked this late a few weeks ago, so apologies for re-asking! Does anyone have experience with transitioning from a standard-daytime-hours, in-office position to a truly flexible job (particularly re: which hours you work)? How did you do it / what was it like / any advice?

    1. Alice*

      Make sure you have articulated (or been told) your goals, and that you and your boss agree on them. Then you’ll be able to make sure that you are accomplishing what you need to, no matter which hours you are working.
      Also, make sure that colleagues know how to contact you and when they should expect replies. Sometimes you really have to emphasize “I’m working on a different or unpredictable schedule, but I still want you to feel comfortable asking me for help!”

      1. peachie*

        Ah, so when you did this, you were transitioning to/from basically the same role, just with a different schedule/logistics? I’ll admit that didn’t even occur to me as a possibility — I was more thinking in the medium-long term when I move on from this job, but now that I’m thinking of it, it might very well be workable with the type of work I’m in…

        1. Alice*

          Actually, no, I switched careers completely! From an inflexible one to a flexible profession and workplace. But I had to be more intentional than I realized at first about showing my co-workers that I was accessible and helpful and made valuable contributions.
          The other aspect of flexibility that I had trouble with was knowing when to stop. I was not taking two hours for a doctor’s appointment and working two hours at home; I was doing much more work than I could have accomplished in a traditional 9-5 workweek. The nature of my job now is that there is always more work I could be doing, so it’s important to prioritize and to check in with my boss occasionally to make sure my sense of priorities aligns with hers.

    2. SezU*

      I had a truly flexible work from home gig for a few years. Their only requirement was that I process the reports in three business days. So I set my own deadlines to ensure I got them done in plenty of time. I am the kind of person that would rather do it all sooner, just in case something goes wrong at the last minute so I have to take care of it. Set personal deadlines. Stick to them. If you are work at home, have a set place to work. Set certain times too, if that would help. It’s easy to overdo it on working (spending 16 hours a day, rather than spreading them out over the week).

      1. peachie*

        That sounds like a great setup! Did you find this job through a regular job posting or a contact in your network (or was it a freelance situation)? I’ve been looking to see what’s out there, but I’m a little lost.

    3. Live & Learn*

      Sort of. I used to work 9-5 M-F in office. Now I usually work 8-4 (by my own choosing) with 2 days at home. I do set my own schedule mostly though so I make doctor appts whenever I want, leave early or come in late if I want/need to. As long as my manager knows when i’m available, the works gets done on time and with high quality and I’m available for meetings/discussion without major issue I have a lot of flexibility. I sometimes leave early for bad weather, traffic or childcare reasons and hop back on at night to finish things.
      I got to this point by showing I was very reliable and willing to work with other people’s schedules to get things done. My boss knows my work will be good and he can find me when he needs me. Having a boss who is open to flexibility and remote work was huge, previously my old managers were not so accommodating. I love the flexibility but it does mean you have to work extra hard to show people you are reliable and available at times convenient to them and not just to you.

      1. peachie*

        [.]

        Thankfully/unfortunately, this is very similar to the position I’m in now — I’m lucky enough to work under a boss that is not strict about what time I get into/leave work because he knows I’m a hard worker (though I only WFH if I need to, not regularly). That’s been great because I am bad at keeping the same hours and, you know, appreciate being trusted to do my job. What my goal is, though, is, I guess, more like a contractor? Would that I knew what I was doing.

        (But, truly, yay for bosses/workplaces like yours and mine — I’ve been in places that are very nickel-and-dime-y about things like appointments, nitpicky about “You must show up at 8am on the dot [for no legitimate business reason]!,” etc., and it doesn’t sit well with me.)

    4. NomdePlumage*

      I would advise going to bed early for the first few weeks, but this really just depends on your body. I used to have a schedule that brought me in early, then I transitioned to a flexible schedule. I had to adjust my time management skills and create a schedule that would keep me on track, and the schedule change caused me to wake up several times during the night because my brain kept asking me ”shouldn’t you be at work???”. I had some very stressful dreams about missing work.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      This may or may not help. My job is part time and when I got it I was granted huge say in how I set up my own work.

      I do need set hours somewhere in the mix, so I set up core hours where I will definitely be there. Hours outside the core hours tend to float around.

      My core hours were strategic. They are times where it is easiest to reach people and others may be trying to reach me. The other strategic thing is that I can get my immediate work done in my core hours. So let’s say Monday is a busy day for me personally and I can only do the core hours. I can get everything caught up in that time period. Then I can get my hours caught up (the actual number of hours I owe the place) on the other days.

      I do enjoy having this set up this way. Others have the info that I will definitely be there during the core hours and that is helpful to them. It reduces the amount of complaints I get about availability/accessibility to almost zero as there is a part of my schedule that is predictable for them.

    6. NothingIsLittle*

      Not me, but a very close friend of mine did. She actually worked pretty much the same hours when she was working at home that she had when she was working in an office. The big trick for her (and science says for anyone) is to have as much of the same starting routine every day as you can. So, for her, that was waking up at 8, changing into clean pajamas (exaggerating, usually it was real clothes just super casual), and eating breakfast before starting with her emails at 8:30 every day. If she didn’t have enough work to fill the whole day, she took longer breaks and lunches so she could finish at 4:30 every day. It helped her to compartmentalize work and home when work was at home.

      This is, of course, second hand from what I remember her saying a few months after she made the switch, so it may not be perfectly accurate, but it should give you the gist of how one person handled it.

  11. Lance*

    How do you reconcile a feeling of ‘literally anyone could’ve done this’?

    For context, I’m fairly new to work, put into a department of people will skillsets far, far beyond my own. Not necessarily the line of work I want, but I digress. For one task, I was given a project that took several weeks, a bit of back-and-forth with the person leading the tool the project was for. I did a good enough job, I suppose; as much as one can do without any of the relevant skillset coming in. But ultimately, it was mostly data entry; copying values, using the in-built tool to make sure they (theoretically) worked, running a few minor tests.

    Literally anyone anywhere in my department could’ve done it, probably faster and better. Yet I got a public shout-out anyway. Are there any good ways to deal with a feeling of ‘anyone here could’ve done this and better, I don’t really deserve this’?

    A bit of an odd question, perhaps, but I figured I’d toss it out there anyway.

    1. peachie*

      You know the quote “Modern art = I could do that + Yeah, but you didn’t.”? That. It’s not always about the level of skill needed — often, acknowledgement/gratitude is about actually doing it. (Also, don’t discount your skill! It’s normal to feel like you’re light years behind when you’re relatively new to a role, but for all you know, your coworkers are impressed by how quickly you’re picking it up.

      1. NomdePlumage*

        +1. It’s great to acknowledge the real MVP, who is someone who does what needs to be done when no one else wants/can be bothered to do it.

        Just because it doesn’t require a lot of skill doesn’t mean it’s not an important task.

        1. valentine*

          I mostly hate praise and don’t get it, especially effusive praise, but look at it the other way round: It’s important for them to acknowledge you. Also: Mutually beneficial come review time.

    2. Aezy*

      By taking on tasks which don’t necessarily require a high-level skillset, you’re likely freeing up someone else’s time to focus on tasks which fewer people can do (and they’re probably pretty grateful for you taking it off their plate and doing it competently).

      1. Sabzy*

        Yes, and never underestimate competence! Even “non-skilled” things can be done incompetently and that’s frustrating for everyone.

        1. Leela*

          This! People do things that aren’t that hard but do them well and feel like they’re not contributing because it’s so easy, but if you’ve worked at a level with oversight it’s amazing how many people need to be instructed in the most basic of things like “get this very easy thing done on time” or “you shouldn’t need three e-mail reminders from me to show up at an event when you got the calendar invite” but good lord.

        2. Manon*

          +1!

          In the course of a year-long internship I saw two people come and go in the role immediately above mine. I ended up taking on some of their work both during their tenures and in the interim and, according to our shared supervisor, doing a much better job. Different people struggle with different things.

      2. LKW*

        This, your effort meant someone else could focus on other stuff. Also, consider that your hourly wage is lower than someone with a lot of experience, therefore by taking the task, it cost less for you to do the work.

        And you got a shout out, so clearly it’s important enough.

      3. Dust Bunny*

        This.

        We have somebody in our department who is . . . not a high-concept person. But Coworker works like a mule and will do anything asked to the letter. We went through a round of layoffs and Supervisor fought to keep Coworker despite the low skillset because we are a department with a lot of necessary but repetitive and tedious work to do, and we need somebody honest and reliable to do it, and Coworker is.

        It’s not always about higher or more skills.

      4. New Normal*

        This, this, THIS! I manage volunteers at my non-profit and “doing things anyone could do but not as fast” describes most of what they do … and they’re amazing. I don’t care if it takes them 15 minutes to file things that I could have done in 5 – because I DIDN’T have to spend that 5 minutes filing. Or entering in addresses. Or unpacking boxes. Or the thousand other “anyone can do this” tasks that would otherwise devour my day and keep me from the things everyone CAN’T do.

        More than that, you say anyone could do it. Trust me, that’s not true. Someone who can accurately transfer the right data to the right place, test tools and actually tell if they work, and generally get those basic-but-critical tasks done right is worth all the praise and shout-outs.

    3. Sunflower*

      The more I work, the more I realize it’s not usually the task at hand that is difficult- it’s everything else. Maybe it’s a difficult teammate/project manager, an outdated system, red tape you need to sort through. I have some friends who don’t work in corporate world and for some reason(?) think I come to work everyday and just do my work and these roadblocks don’t come up. Also- maybe you did a job that no one else wanted to do! And if you did it willingly and without complaint, that probably helped too

    4. Rey*

      This is a social norm. Just as we all learned in school, when someone does something nice for us, we say thank you, they say you’re welcome, and the social ritual is completed. And for what it’s worth, I would rather work at a place with a culture of gratitude, versus someplace where higher-ups never recognize the people who work for them.

    5. epi*

      A lot of low skilled jobs are actually nothing of the sort, and quite difficult regardless of the skill involved. They can also be incredibly important. Data entry is definitely one of those.

      People who are not dependable can cost an analyst hours in data checking and cleaning. In the worst case scenarios, the data can end up worthless and have to be reentered, recollected, or totally discarded. In the hellmouth scenario, plausible looking bad data can be missed until a lot of work has been sunk into a useless dataset and embarrasses someone. In social science and statistics, people even devote time to research to help detect data that people just made up rather than collect or enter it correctly. In some cases– and it sounds like what you were doing– it is hard to even enter the data unless the person doing so pretty much understands what the data is about. Even when it doesn’t take specialized knowledge, data entry always involves having a very high level of certain professional skills that are challenging for many people: consistency, attention to detail, ability to read and follow directions, honesty. For whoever worked with the data after you, you took something off their plate that is probably their least favorite and most time consuming thing to do. If you were pre-checking some of the data too and actually doing a good job, you absolutely deserved the shout out.

      In the moment, if I feel uncomfortable with praise of something I did, I just don’t say anything about my work that I wouldn’t say about someone else’s time and effort. I could be implying something I don’t mean about others’ jobs, my disparaging my own.

      1. Coder von Frankenstein*

        Preach it! Good data entry workers – people who take the time to really get it right – are rare and precious. Bad data is a corrosive fog that seeps into everything and eats away at whole organizations.

    6. Cinna214*

      Data entry, etc. feels very basic but those tasks require a level of detail and focus that not everyone can do well. You deserve the compliment and keep learning! :)

      1. zora*

        Seriously, this.
        We have a person in our company whose main job is copying info from one thing into another, she has been doing this job for many many years, and every single month there are so many errors that everyone has to have multiple email back-and-forths with her to get everything fixed. It is basically as simple as data entry, and yet I can’t think of a single month that any one page of her work has been correct.

        I think this is part of imposter syndrome, I have the same thoughts about my job sometimes, but I’ve been in the workforce long enough to encounter people who don’t do the “simplest” tasks well. (And I’m putting Simplest in quotes, because I think that’s part of it, they aren’t that simple!)
        As an Admin, I keep our office and kitchen tidy, and it seems so simple, but I’ve been in offices where everything is a disorganized mess, even though that is supposedly someone’s job, and it reflects badly on the company for so many reasons! Plus, isn’t pleasant for the people who work there.

        You will probably get more complicated work as you show that you can do these smaller projects well, but really, don’t underestimate how bad some people can be at the “simplest” jobs!!!!

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        “Just” data entry? There’s no such thing. I’m managing a database (albeit an inherited poorly designed spreadsheet masquerading as a database) and you can’t imagine how hard it is to clean up the data after years of people being careless about entering data. Someone who’s not diligent can do real damage.
        You deserve your thanks.

    7. KayEss*

      I have kind of the opposite problem… I was recently hired into a llama bathing department as their first trained wool stylist. Some of the bathers and wranglers can do basic styling, but the company was growing and wanted to really up their fashionable llama game. There’s a long-standing set of quarterly peer-nominated departmental awards handed out, and one of them has always been for “contributions to llama beauty”… and my peers gave it to me, which feels kind of silly. My baseline for styling is what would be above-and-beyond for the bathers/wranglers, so it seems weird to be acknowledged as if I made some heroic effort. My entire job is contributing to llama beauty! Those are the skills you hired me to use daily! It’s not a big deal!

      But as peachie says above, it’s not actually about the level of skill/effort required, it’s about that something got done successfully. I personally (since I have a LOT of brainweasels who gnaw on the idea that I may be being condescended to) really just try to focus on graciously taking the acknowledgment at face value—I did something, and did it well, and people appreciate that. It doesn’t have to be any more complicated than that, and you’ll just work yourself into fits trying to suss out secret meanings and motivations about whether the acknowledgement is “real” or “deserved.”

    8. CMart*

      I’m 2 years into my first professional role and I’m slowly learning that honestly? not anyone can do things, even the things I think are no-brainer, low level tasks.

      A director of mine would have me come to her desk to do really basic PowerPoint things because, despite her many skills and proficiency with all kinds of other systems and programs, she never remembered how to insert a text box.

      I’ve also met several peers who, also 2 years in, are still flummoxed by foundational concepts (how do I connect to X? What do you mean by “analyze the balance”?), which has me thinking that perhaps I’m more useful than I think I am.

      Plus, your colleagues may have been able to do it better/faster etc… but they didn’t want to or didn’t have time to. You did! It added value to their work and they appreciated that you did a good job with it. That’s worth something.

      1. A. Lovelace*

        Agreed. I thought that my ability to analyze data was pretty basic and repeatable until I went away for a few weeks and someone from outside my group took the ‘initiative’ to do the work himself. Disaster! It turns out that I was more of an expert than I knew, even when I had very little experience.

        I have also done some work in spreadsheets which was very basic, which I did for some more senior coworkers, and they loved how quickly I could do things (because I know how to do keyboard shortcuts, and I also learned VBA which is even more powerful). A 5-year-old could have done what was asked, but I could do it so much faster than the experienced coworkers, and they were really appreciative because they had a big deadline.

      2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        I’m glad you learned this so quickly!

        It killed me for years how “easy” my job was (to me). Then I had to try training much “smarter” people (read more educated) to do things like convert to a PDF and attach to an email and inputting data into assorted forms and programs. I reduced smart men to tears because it was an overload for them.

        We’re all good at what we’re good at. I can’t draw a stick figure even. So when people shrug off a how I’m all “woah nice sketch!” It’s nothing everyone can doodle.” No. No everyone cannot. Everyone also cannot do marketing or sales or customer service either it turns out.

    9. sunshyne84*

      That’s how I feel in my role. My coworkers frequently thank me for the basic things I do and it always feels weird, but I think back to the other jobs I had that I didn’t feel appreciated and then I remember to just be thankful. No matter how small everyone’s part matters.

    10. Nicki Name*

      It doesn’t matter what someone else could have done. You’re the one who actually DID the work. You deserve the shout-out.

    11. L.S. Cooper*

      No advice, but definitely in the same boat. My boss will offer profuse thanks and has, a few times, bought me lunch after completing some project within the same general realm as what you described. I do appreciate being appreciated, but it always feels a bit odd to me that I’m thanked so much– sometimes even by my grandboss. Like, I did something during normal working hours that my boss told me to do. It doesn’t feel like going above and beyond in praiseworthy ways; it feels like doing the job that they hired me and pay me to do. But hey, I won’t turn down a free sandwich now and again.

    12. Aurion*

      Not every task is glamourous or novel or mind-bendingly complex, but if it’s on the list, it needs to get done, and done well. Whether or not anyone else could’ve done it, you were the one who did it; they’re thanking you for a job well done.

      (And you’d be surprised; sometimes people who excel at the mind-bendingly complex stuff don’t do well with rote data entry.)

    13. alphabet soup*

      I’ve had almost literally the same thought before– “anyone could do this.” But then I was in charge of training/mentoring a new hire. She was super smart and motivated, but after six months of working together, I started to learn that those “anyone could do this” tasks were actually more complicated and required more explanation than I anticipated. I started to realize that the reason those tasks seemed straight-forward and easy to me is because I was underestimating my own amount of experience and my skill set (including “soft” skills such ability to take initiative, problem-solving, critical thinking, etc).

      Is it possible a little bit of that is going on with you?

    14. Not So NewReader*

      Just because the task seemed simple to you does not mean it is simple for others.

      My late husband was a geek’s geek. He was the guy everyone went to with the head-banging problems. You’d tell him the problem and wait for the chuckle. The chuckle meant he would tell you what to do once he got done laughing. He was not laughing at you, he was laughing at the problem. Usually there was a story about poor design and a child of two would have known not to design it that way.
      Then taking very basic materials such as paper clips he would fix the problem. It was his cohorts turn to laugh, his fix was better than what the manufacturers had done. Yet the fix was so darn simple.

      See the common thread here? He thought everything was simple. He thought the problem was simple, he used simple materials to do simple (yet genius) repairs. He always said, “Anyone can do my job.” Well where are all these random people then?

      First off, it’s NOT true that anyone could have done that task. (There are various reasons as to why it’s not true, but punchline is it’s just not true.)
      Second, of the people who could do the task, some just plain did not wanna do it. There’s no particular reason, it’s just that they did not want the task.
      Third, if you reeeally watch people work, really watch them you begin to see the reasons why they might not want to do something or actually can’t do something. My elderly friend’s grandchild bought my friend groceries. Grandchild bought the big economy packs for everything my friend wanted. Nice, right? I watched the way my friend’s hands work and I realize she absolutely cannot remove the lids of some of these products. Other products are too heavy for her to lift to spill out a portion for use. Her hands don’t work the way a younger person’s hands work. Unless I had sat down to watch her do this I never would have known. She is a very active and very hip senior citizen. I had no clue that she was starting to wrestle with things that required fine dexterity.

      Just my opinion but in my years working I have always found it wise to take on the projects that were being ignored but yet needed to be done. And it’s because of those shout outs, that recognition. Sticking with this habit of taking on the tedious or less desirable projects I found I could zoom out ahead of my peers and get special pet projects, etc. I turned myself into a bit of go-to person because of my willingness to work through “the hard stuff”. (We don’t get to pick out how others define something as “hard” or “difficult”. Most of what I was asked to do was fairly easy…. to me. It was fairly easy to me.)

      My advice is be grateful this is easy for you. Leverage your contribution here by asking for another special task. Build your rep in your department and in your company by handling these things that no one else wants. You will be amazed at how much you learn along the way. Suddenly you will realize that you are a go-to person with a very secure job.

    15. Gumby*

      I work with people who have advanced degrees in STEM fields (I only have a BS). Any one of them could do my job competently. But: they do not *want* to do the stuff I do. Having someone deal with the tasks they have neither the time nor the interest in doing is actually really helpful to them. So I would take it in that sense – not that you did this horribly difficult thing but you did this horribly inconvenient-to-them thing and they are grateful you took it off their plate. Also, in my case, our customers appreciate it a LOT that the tasks I do now get higher priority here.

      Think of it like this: what chore do you hate? Wouldn’t you be grateful if someone came and just… washed your dishes for you? Cleaned your bathtub? It isn’t that you couldn’t do them, but it is wonderful when someone else does.

    16. Alex*

      Literally anyone could do my job. Doesn’t mean that people shouldn’t say thank you that *I* did it.

    17. Cat Meowmy Admin*

      Be thankful for the acknowledgement, you obviously deserve it. It would mean the world to me to get similar acknowledgments. Because as an Admin, I do many of these tasks too. *Not everyone can though*, and they’re certainly not low-level tasks. As part of my job, I don’t expect thanks, but boy it sure would be nice every so often. Because when I have been acknowledged, I deserve it, and it’s a real morale booster. It can often make a lower paying job seem so much better. So take your well earned shout out and revel in it! On behalf of those of us who would give anything for it.
      (And keep it in your pocket to remind you of that praise when and if you may get the opposite kind of feedback down the road.) Congrats on a task well done!

    18. Lilysparrow*

      If anybody could have done it, they would have done it already & wouldn’t have bothered hiring you at all, because they could do everything without you.

      Businesses don’t pay people to duplicate effort and do things nobody needs done.

      It needed to get done. You got it done. Most of life is about finishing stuff, not accumulating “style points.”

    19. alayne*

      I am a pretty decent computer scientist . . . and I would be horrible at the work you did. Not everyone can do that – I don’t have the patient and attention to detail to accurately and quickly do that type of work. I would be eternally grateful to anyone who did that for me, and deeply thankful that I didn’t have to do it myself.

  12. Free Meerkats*

    I’m headed out of the office to give the new director a presentation on who our workgroup is and why we’re here. The answers, 50 years + experience in three people and we’re federally mandated.
    Wish me luck, though he seems more uninformed than evil.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Sometimes the simplest explanations are the hardest to get across. Good luck.

    2. Free Meerkats*

      Went well. hour presentation, questions and answers for another 45 minutes.

      I’ve lessened his ignorance and he was next headed to City Hall with personnel requisitions for next year, including another body for us.

  13. Kramerica Industries*

    Like something straight out of the Michael Scott playbook, my office wants to do a “Diversity potluck” where they want everyone to bring food from their culture. As a POC, I imagine this is gonna get interesting when I bring in a bag of ketchup chips to represent how I’m a third generation Canadian…

    1. ZSD*

      My old office did this and everyone had a lot of fun. A Midwesterner brought a Jell-O salad. I think your ketchup chips will go over well!

    2. ZSD*

      (But I hope participation is optional! If you’re not interested, you shouldn’t have to bring something.)

    3. MechanicalPencil*

      As a white person, it would be just as interesting when I brought in tamales or something along those lines. Barbacoa? Would have to think about it. But what a terrible idea anyway.

      1. Jenny Jenny*

        +1 my dish if choice, a childhood dish.. Enchiladas. We made them with leftover turkey after Thanksgiving. I’ve perfected the entree so much I call it ‘Jen’chiladas. I have no Hispanic or Mexican heritage, but I grew up in Phoenix and most of my friends were Latino/a. I’m 3nd generation French, German, and Irish but I don’t make any of those dishes.

        1. Adric*

          Wow! My family does the same thing! Turkey enchiladas from Thanksgiving leftovers. And I’m pretty sure we’ve got even less claim than you. I grew up in Kansas and my parents are from Iowa and Washington (state).

        2. Alexis Rose*

          So with this comment it made me think that companies could just simply do a “bring in a favourite family recipe” or something? If you have diversity naturally, you will get a range of things. Otherwise it seems weirdly forced to me? Maybe I’m just grumpy today though and being a bit of a sourpuss about it.

    4. cmcinnyc*

      My dept did this, which was hilarious, because as someone pointed out it was literally no different than other potlucks we’ve done. People bring “the food of my people” because that’s what they know how to cook and we all eat it. As long as there’s no show and tell aspect to it it’s not terrible. Someone will love you for those ketchup fries.

          1. Clisby*

            Hah! I was wondering how many people would be craving more of your gefilte fish (yes, I have eaten it. Not yours, just in general.)

        1. Scarlet Magnolias*

          I could bring in lutefisk (don’t ask) as I’m Norwegian. No one will ever ask me again.

          1. Rainy*

            Lutfisk is the thing we put on our holiday tables to remember the tribulations of our ancestors. Pour out a little akvavit in memory of great-granny, who actually ate the stuff.

          2. LunaLena*

            Can you get away with surstromming? That would definitely clear out the room. Now that I’ve gotten lutefisk off of my bucket list, I’m conspiring to obtain some surstromming so I can compare.

        2. CatMom*

          Oh but homemade it’s so good! I’ve surprised a lot of people with my gefilte fish a la Veracruzana.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            Ooo… recipe? Complicated details deleted…simple version is that I grew up eating traditional Jewish food and loving it, but never learned to cook it myself.

        3. NomdePlumage*

          I’m of Scottish descent but grew up in the south of the USA. The only thing I can think of is haggis, which I’ve never tried. My ”culture” is basically nachos. I would be so confused by what my contribution should be. Should we bring food that represents our culture if we’ve never eaten it? Would it be appropriation if a pale white dumpling brings tex mex to represent myself (hypothetically)? This is an interesting topic!

          1. Lucy*

            TABLET.

            If you don’t know what tablet is, imagine the sweetest thing you’ve ever eaten in your life; distill the sweetness; add sugar, syrup, butter and condensed milk; boil hard; cool briskly for large crystals. Like fudge but MUCH sweeter and grainier.

            Or Irn Bru. That’s even sweeter, but also contains caffeine and artificial colours.

        4. Nana*

          We have an ‘end of summer’ potluck where I live. I brought a jar of gefilte fish, and some matzoh crackers, because I was invited the morning of the potluck (I’d been away). A few people LOVED it, said they didn’t know where to get it (duh, the supermarket) and now I’m the annual Bringer of the Jarred Gefilte Fish.

      1. moql*

        At my very diverse elementary school my mother would send me in with bagels for multicultural day. I was always so embarrassed! All the other kids had interesting good food but my mom was like “You’re a New York jew, this is your cultural heritage!”

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          When I was in college 5 hours north of NYC and a friend learned I was going there for the weekend, she BEGGED me to bring back knishes from a truck for her. :D I did.

      2. MsM*

        I once wrote a “recipe” for Chinese takeout for a school-produced cookbook of family dishes.

    5. MusicWithRocksInIt*

      I would bring… Tex Mex I think? All the bread I can find? Rent a food truck, because food of my culture is overfeed everyone by 20x?

        1. MusicWithRocksInIt*

          If you are married to my four month old we are going to have WORDS. But you might be married to a cousin, I have LOTS. Is your spouse an excellent salesmen? If so then you are.

    6. londonedit*

      I’d bring scones, jam and clotted cream, and force everyone to put the jam on first (clotted cream should NOT be spread like butter! It should adorn the top of the jam-spread scone in a glorious dollop of loveliness. AKA people who come from Devon are wrong).

      1. London Calling*

        You are going to hell (north Devon bred here) and when you do ALL the scones will have cream on first for eternity

          1. londonedit*

            Pretty much. Tip for non-British people: never start this discussion in a pub. It won’t end well.

            1. MsM*

              I once started it on Facebook, forgetting I had UK friends, and hoo boy. Won’t be making that mistake again.

        1. Bagpuss*

          Of course the cream goes on first. Only a heathen (or a person from Cornwall ) would say otherwise.
          You are correct that the cream shouldn’t be spread like butter, though. It needs to be spread much, much thicker than that!

          1. London Calling*

            Dolloped on, not spread, so it ooooooooozes out when you squash both sides of the scone together

            *Only a heathen (or a person from Cornwall )*

            Anywhere east of the Tamar would say there’s no difference (joking, londonedit, honest).

            1. londonedit*

              We just do it the Cornish way because we couldn’t possibly do anything the same way as Devon :D

          2. Pippa*

            This is the entirely correct view and anyone who dissents has been sadly misguided, bless them

      2. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

        I just bought some Rhodda’s this afternoon and I HAVE JAM – but no scones. If I try both ways on some toast this weekend, does the toast kinda kill the vibe?

        (to note I have done it on scones, but jam then cream cause its prettier)

        1. londonedit*

          Scones are so easy to make! Google Delia Smith’s recipe and you’ll have lovely fluffy scones in no time.

          1. Pippa*

            Yes, they’re the best return on effort I get in the kitchen! Using Mary Berry’s recipe, I can go from zero to fresh scones in about 20 minutes.

            1. Lucy*

              I use the Delia recipe but yes. From hungry to blood in under half an hour including preheating the oven.

              (personally I get round the Cornwall/Devon issue by doing butter-jam-cream)

              (why yes I am quite fat)

        2. So anonymous I'm not even here*

          This will probably be classed as heresy but my Dad calls it a brummie cream tea – uses muffins/cupcakes if he doesn’t have time to make scones.

      3. So anonymous I'm not even here*

        Yum – cream on top as it should be – Brummie transplanted to Cornwall here.

      4. Warm Weighty Wrists*

        I was once at a hen weekend tea that devolved into a raging debate on this topic. The other non-Brits and I just sat there munching and glancing back and forth like we were watching a tennis match. I’m sure you’ll be shocked to find that no minds were changed.

    7. ILovePotlucks*

      I think that’s part of the fun of the “diversity” potluck because it can help challenge some assumptions that people have about others. Bring those ketchup chips! (I would be hesitant but curious to try such a thing). But also there is no real need to call it a diversity potluck because most people are going to just bring things they are comfortable making/eating anyway so that is going to be inherently indicative of their culture.

      1. Federal Middle Manager*

        I don’t think that’s necessarily true…I think lots off people “tone down” their potluck submissions to normalize to a crowd, whereas if it were specifically a diversity potluck, I’d be more likely to bring something slightly odd to others but normal to me.

    8. Jaid*

      I’ve seen the “All Dressed” chips on the East Coast, USA. I haven’t tried poutine, though.

    9. jDC*

      Oh I’d actually like this. I suppose I can see how some people could find it offensive, but people find most everything offensive these days right. I’d love to try dishes from all over in one sitting. We have a street fair here at the end of August that does this and I always look forward to it.

      1. Indy*

        People are definitely much better at recognising and calling out offensive crap these days. Thanks for acknowledging that!

    10. ThatGirl*

      Like, I’m white and was raised Mennonite – in an urban, diverse church. I am way better at making Puerto Rican arroz con habichuela than I am at making borscht (which I hate) or zwieback. I do make a pretty solid shoofly pie, though.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        ZOMG I haven’t had shoofly pie since I left NYC… there was an Amish farm stand at one of the farmers markets. This was decades ago. If I remember right they carpooled (truckpooled?) with a non-Amish neighbor.

        1. ThatGirl*

          It’s honestly not hard to make at home! Though I do recommend a baking sheet to catch drips. And they probably got a ride with a Mennonite or English neighbor. :)

    11. Nicki Name*

      I never heard of ketchup chips before and now I want to try them. See, it’s working!

    12. Mbarr*

      Another Canadian here. You should bring Kraft Dinner. :D

      As an indigenous person, I’d want to bring in something controversial, like seal meat. (Not that I’ve ever eaten it, but I would, given the chance… But I live in SW Ontario and grew up in urban communities.)

      1. AnotherAlison*

        From the US, but the food of my people is basically Totinos. (A delicious $1 frozen pizza)

        1. min*

          Ohmigod, after over a decade in the UK, I cannot begin to express how much I miss Totinos.

      2. Jemima Bond*

        As a Brit I have never had Kraft Dinner but I do know that you should get really expensive ketchups to eat on it. All the fanciest…Dijon ketchups!

        1. Anon and on and on*

          :-D

          With all the kranch and mayomust and whatever else they’re making, now, it probably won’t be too long until there *is* Dijon ketchup.

    13. Librarian of SHIELD*

      We did one of these when I was in school. My ancestors arrived in North America prior to the revolutionary war, so while I’m technically of British descent, none of my family knows anything about English cuisine or how to cook any of it. But all four of my grandparents are from the American South, even though that’s not where my family currently lives. I brought biscuits and jam to the potluck, because that’s what my grandmother taught me to make as a child. And you know what? It was one of the most popular items. People love bread.

    14. A tester, not a developer*

      My son’s school does that, and we usually bring Nanaimo bars. :)
      They also had a ‘wear your heritage’ event. We have a fur traders sash that’s been passed down through the family, so my son wore that with jeans and a t-shirt. It led to some interesting discussions about when you stop being a Something-Canadian and turn into ‘just’ Canadian.

    15. Parenthetically*

      Are they calling it a “diversity potluck”?!? I am screeching. How delightfully Michael Scott.

      The concept I have no issue with — bring a food that reminds you of childhood or the culture you grew up in! Cool! I’ll bring Iowa-style goulash that has nothing to do with goulash, or my Scots-Irish-heritage grandmother’s tamale pie that has nothing to do with tamales! — but the name has me in PIECES laughing.

      1. Kramerica Industries*

        It is 100% a diversity potluck to celebrate diversity. I’ll admit that I watch too much The Office and am imagining all the outlandish ways that this could go wrong.

        I think it’s (in theory) a lovely idea! But my gripe is with people who have already point-blank asked me if I’m bringing something like dumplings or spring rolls.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        And then there’s the “mangos” made by my husband’s grandmother. No idea how they got “mangos” out of stuffed green peppers but there you go.
        For the record, her cooking was the reason my fatherinlaw trained as a professional chef.

        1. Parenthetically*

          My parents had this SAME EXCHANGE 40 years ago! A neighbor after they moved to a tiny southern Indiana town offered them a bag of mangoes from his garden and they were hella confused when he gave them a bag of green peppers.

        2. fhqwhgads*

          Do you ever listen to the A Way With Words podcast? They did an episode on this. I can’t remember when but I know I’ve listened to it possibly a year ago.

    16. Seeking Second Childhood*

      This was awesome in sixth grade… I had my first spanikopita, delighted people with English trifle, and we learned the difference between powdered & fresh ginger from our teacher (Hawaii-born , Japanese ancestry). I’m wondering what I’d do as an adult now, since we’ve found a lot more interesting bits about my ancestry than that 1/4 English… And honestly, my “personal culture” is that I spent a lot of time in California with Asian friends who taught me THEIR cooking tricks and in college with an Indian friend who taught me hers… and I use all of the above more than I do European.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Annnnnd now I’ve eaten my afternoon snack early and I’m still hungry.
        Better go offline fast.

    17. Quiltrrrr*

      We had something like this last year, and I really don’t have an ethnic culture tradition. However, I’m from Rochester, NY, and I brought in white hots, onions, mustard, and garbage plate sauce and made mini garbage plates for the office. Actually, the whole thing was kind of fun, and I wasn’t the only one who brought in something from where I’m from, rather than an ethnicity.

      1. k8pages*

        Now I’m homesick!!! My kingdom for a Zweigle’s red hot and a Tom Wahl’s root beer!

    18. MatKnifeNinja*

      I hate this. As Finn/Metis all I can think of is Nisu bread and Tourtierre (pork pie). My family has been running around North America since the 1600s on my mom’s side and 1810 on my dad’s.

      Ketchup chips are the bomb! One ti.e I got fed up and brought Better Made potato chips and Faygo pop. No everyone has this rich, exotic cultural heritage to share.

        1. MatKnifeNinja*

          EAST SIDE!

          Faygo Frosh or Rock and Rye (don’t care for Red Pop) and Better Made BBQ potato chips.

          If you really want to kick it early 1970s birthday party style, swap out Faygo for a case of Town Club pop.

          I had uncles who worked at Faygo, Better Made and Town Club in the 1970s. The swag was delicious!

          1. Adele*

            Kroger has recently been stocking Town Club in glass bottles again. The little kid in me reaches for it but the adult knows I won’t like it and puts it back. Still love Rock n Rye, though.

    19. Its Business Time*

      …this wouldn’t happen to be next Wednesday, would it? I realize this is probably a coincidence, but my company is also doing this next week, along with some other highly problematic activities.

      1. Kramerica Industries*

        As much as I wish we were writing from the same company, mine is not on Wednesday. Good luck though…

  14. FinallyFriday*

    So every now and then I will be asked to stay late to approve something. Today I am being asked to stay about 2 hours later than I am scheduled to work. I am technically on call at this time, but as on call time was not part of my original job duties my boss and I agreed that when I am asked to stay in the facility late I would receive comp time. This is the first time I’ve been asked to stay, so I’d like to get some opinions here. Should I ask to receive the comp time for the couple of hours I’m staying? The entire reason I’m staying is to give a yes or no on something before it leaves the building, am I required to do anything else while I’m in the office or am I good to treat the time as free time and read or catch up on other things for my personal life?

    1. irene adler*

      My take: if you are being compensated for the time, then yes, you should do some work for the company. But that would be up to the boss.

      You didn’t bring this up, but if this is work beyond your 40 hours, at what rate are you accumulating comp time?
      My understanding: if this 2 hours is beyond your 40, then you should be awarded 3 hours of comp time. Kinda like how overtime is 1.5 times your rate of pay.
      Just don’t want you to get shorted.

      1. FinallyFriday*

        The agreement was that I would receive 4 hours if I had to come back in. However I’m going to feel guilty taking 4 hours for something good that I actually only need about 5 minutes for. At the same time I can’t go home and start doing my own thing for an additional couple of hours. I also don’t know that my boss thought it through and likely assumed that if I had to come back in I’d be here for four hours.

        1. irene adler*

          IN a sense, you are on-call for this 5 min task. Suggestion: might read up on the labor laws regarding on-call.
          It may be that you are entirely okay with doing personal stuff while you wait for the 5 min task to appear.

        2. Kim, No Longer Esq.*

          Don’t feel guilty! The company would not feel guilty about it. The company is looking out for the company, if you’re also looking out for the company, no one is looking out for you :)

        3. Just stoppin' by to chat*

          I would definitely not feel guilty taking the 4 hours. You could always plan to take it, and then if you have to work a little during that time, maybe it’s okay. But good for your company for recognizing that having to work outside of your normal work hours is inconvenient, and for compensating you somehow. Your night has been disrupted, so I say take advantage of the compensation for that!

        4. Kuododi*

          Oh my goodness!!! “Feeling guilty” is a waste of time and energy. (I’m not talking about guilt we all experience when we know we have said or done something hurtful to another person.). I’m referring to the “guilt” many people talk of when dealing with things in life outside of our control.

          Your time is as valuable as the next person in your place of employment. In fact, I would argue by not asking for the compensation you deserve, (either $$$ or comp time longer than 5 min.) you are sending a message to your supervisors and colleagues that your time is somehow of lesser value than the others at your job. In the long run it would make it harder to take you seriously regarding long term development within the company. Your time is valuable and worth fair compensation. It’s time to own that fact and be proactive regarding your needs in this arena of your job. Best regards.

    2. Miss Ames*

      You said you and your boss had agreed it could be considered comp time if you were staying in the facility, so it seems OK to handle it that way. I think if that is the case, though, then you probably should be working (at least casually) during the two hours – maybe doing some type of simple tasks that you can catch up on or some research.

    3. NforKnowledge*

      If you’re having to stay late at work, you should be compensated properly for all of that time. You could spend it working, if you have tasks to do, but I would also view it as similar to being compensated for time spent travelling for work or being on call. You may not be working during that time, but it is not free either, so the company owes you compensation.

      1. NforKnowledge*

        Ah, didn’t read closely enough for first time and see now that you refer to it as being on call. So 100% it is time for which you should be compensated, as extra labor beyond your usual work.

    4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I would be casually working if you have something to work on that is. I wouldn’t make something up, if you’re otherwise all caught up, then treat it like that [unless you’d usually be leaving if you were caught up, then of course don’t do that!].

      When we have a “Hangout and wait for this specific thing” come up, it’s understood the person is going to be twiddling their thumbs [and surfing the internet or reading a book, etc] until it’s time to do the actual job they’re staying for. It’s cost of doing business.

      Just like I’m paying the receptionist to sit and wait for a call. If no calls come in and there’s no little duties to do [everything is stocked in the lobby, everything is dusted, everything is mailed, etc] then heck no I don’t think she needs to find “work” to do, just read AAM or whatever and wait for your task.

      1. zora*

        This! It’s cost of doing business, don’t feel guilty!
        The cost to the company of those 4 hours is negligible, and especially if you consider the costs that might incur if you weren’t there and they had to wait until the next day! Take your hours!

    5. leya*

      important question: are you exempt or non-exempt? my understanding is (IANAL) that if you are non-exempt, you have to receive overtime for hours worked over 40 per week, and your employer can’t give you comp time instead of overtime (they could give it to you in addition to overtime, but not as a replacement for it). so first determine if you should be receiving overtime instead. remember that your employer doesn’t determine whether you’re exempt or not – the IRS does. alison has more info here: https://www.askamanager.org/exempt-and-non-exempt

    6. The Rat-Catcher*

      Our rules (and I thought it was law but don’t quote me) are that if you’re not free to leave, it’s work time. So if you finish work at 5:00 but have to return at 7:00, that isn’t work. But if you have to sit around until you can do your thing at 7:00, that’s work.

  15. Calacademic*

    15+ years ago (in high school) I worked with teenagers with intellectual disabilities in an after-school care program. When I left for college, one of those teens tried to get in touch with me at my school. He called the college and
    threated self-harm if they didn’t put him in touch with me. I got in touch with my ex-managers who addressed the issue. I did not hear from him again… until two days ago.

    My question: Do I need to be proactive about letting my work know that this person might try to reach me?

    (I have already reached out to some of the agencies that might work with this person — again, intellectual disability, there is an extra level of care that needs to be taken. This person lives many states away from me and I think there is a 0.000001% chance that he would be able to come to our physical location. I’m worried that he might try to call my workplace.)

    1. MechanicalPencil*

      I’ve had a very similar situation this week. Must be Hellmouth’s dissipation bringing this on.

      I just sent a very generic email to my HR person and explained XYZ is happening. I don’t expect anything to occur, but if it does I want you to be aware. This was at least in response to a longer standing issue, which I addressed with an in-person meeting.

    2. Nonny*

      What’s the worst-case scenario from telling them if nothing happens? Do you worry they’re likely to overreact or react strangely? If not, I’d say there’s no harm in giving them a heads-up– getting a random phone call with someone threatening self-harm seems way more upsetting than being told ‘hey FYI, this person may try to contact me, please do X if that happens.’

    3. 1234*

      How did this person manage to get your current contact info or even remotely know where you live/are???

        1. Wishing You Well*

          You can get anyone’s personal information online and usually for free. It’s not right, but it’s reality.

        2. 934txs*

          Definitely google yourself and see what comes up. When you find the holes that are leaking your info, plug them!

    4. epi*

      I probably would, in your place.

      Both intellectual disabilities and certain mental illness are common in people who stalk. (I am a health researcher, and read a lot of the research on this when I was being stalked at work myself.) I get the impression that you know this already, but threatening self-harm in order to make contact with you is very controlling and frightening behavior that should never be taken lightly. That’s true regardless of whether this person was truly at risk of harming themself, and regardless of whether they understood how wrong it is to make a threat like that in order to get their way.

      Unfortunately, someone who is fixated enough on you to do something like that, and to reach out again years later, needs to be kept from ever successfully contacting you again– for both of your sakes. This person cannot benefit from any help you (indirectly) get them if they are having their fixation reinforced through contact with you. If someone in your office were to, say, put a call from them through to you, that would probably be harmful to you and certainly harmful to this former student. It’s incredibly kind and thoughtful of you to be trying to get this person help from such a distance and while they are harassing you. Keeping them from making contact with you is also a kindness in its own way.

      If that’s not enough, don’t underestimate the effect this can have on you even if there is little or no risk of this person ever putting you in physical danger. It’s hard for people who haven’t been through it to understand, but most of the stress of stalking/harassment is… Not really about that. Persistent, difficult to escape harassment can have an even more serious effect on your mental health than physical trauma in some cases. If this person ever did successfully travel to you, or step up their harassment from a distance, you will need people around you who were already aware of the situation. And it will be helpful to you to already have some idea of who you can talk to who won’t minimize this situation.

      Best of luck! I hope this person gets the help they need and that this problem never recurs for either of you.

      1. Calacademic*

        Thank you for this incredibly thoughtful response. I appreciate this very, very much.

    5. NothingIsLittle*

      I think, given that he’s currently and actively trying to reach you, it would probably be worth giving your manager, or whoever seems most likely to hear from him, a heads up. At the very least, you’re probably going to feel better knowing that no one will accidentally patch him through to you. It’s worth keeping in mind that most people are unlikely to know how to handle someone threatening self-harm, so the heads up will both give them time to adjust and give you an opening to request they handle it a certain way.

      I would also recommend, similar to 934txs, that you lock down your online presence in any way that you can. Make your social media accounts private/friends only and keep things like phone numbers off of them. Remove your employment if you can. Also, do you have a LinkedIn he may have found you on? I’m not sure what you’d do, given that that website should actually have your workplace information, but it’s worth giving some thought.

      I had a stalker briefly in high school who tried to get back in contact when I was in college, and I handled it by going totally blank online. That was easier since it was early on in my college years and I have very few social media accounts to begin with, but that was enough to deter further contact.

    6. Polymer Phil*

      Is this someone who wants a romantic relationship when you’re not interested, or someone who has a grudge and wants to harm you?

      Either way, anyone who answers the phones at your job needs a heads-up that someone with bad intentions might call and try to get information about you. If your workplace has a front-desk receptionist, they should have a photo of him so they know to call the cops if he shows up.

  16. Cows go moo*

    I have a guy who’s given his notice to quit. Was a relief as he was generally unreliable and nobody liked working with him. He emailed me saying he’s not coming to work tomorrow because he wants to “hang out with some friends.”

    I am about to tell him we’re not changing his shift; and give him a formal warning for AWOL if he doesn’t turn up anyway. Because (1) he’s behaved like a douche many, many times; (2) I want to enforce the same consequences whether or not he’s leaving at the end of the month. The other manager says let’s not bother with the hassle and just let him take the day off. What say you?

    1. AndersonDarling*

      If you have to change that one shift, I would just change all of them and tell him not to come in again.

      1. Matilda Jefferies*

        Yep. I agree with your other manager about not bothering with the hassle – just tell him he’s had his last shift and his paperwork is in the mail. I would bet large sums of money that if you let him take this day off, it won’t be his last – he’s going to skip out a bunch more times and leave you scrambling. So much easier for everyone to just agree that he’s not coming in at all, and plan accordingly.

        1. AndersonDarling*

          And if I was one of the other people on the team, I wouldn’t mind covering an extra shift if I knew I didn’t have to work with a jerk anymore.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          This isn’t’ job abandonment depending on the jursidiction’s definition. Here you have to literally not be seen or heard from in 3 days, then you have to send a letter saying “Hey you abandoned your job? Or did you?” and then go from there. Otherwise it’s just a standard attendance issue and if it’s not a pattern already documented and even then, they’re still eligible most of the time.

          1. NomdePlumage*

            Something like this is most likely documented in a policy or handbook. Example, my current company’s employee handbook says 2 days no-call no-show is job abandonment. I had a previous job with a policy that stated you cannot call in sick if you are on notice to leave–you’re remaining shifts will be cancelled.

            1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

              Handbooks are only for the company side of things. They’re not law or regulations outside the particular business.

              That means they may or may not be in line with the actual definition used when the state decides eligibility for unemployment benefits.

              I’ve seen company policy and unemployment not line up before. It’s rather common.

      1. MusicWithRocksInIt*

        If he gave notice then decided not to come into work, I don’t think he would qualify.

      2. ExcelJedi*

        He’d only qualify for the time between his last day and the day he intended to be his last. TBH, it’s probably worth paying for 2 weeks of unemployment to get rid of a jerk.

    2. Rusty Shackelford*

      The hassle is your hassle, right? It’s not creating a hassle for someone else? Then why does the other manager care? Personally, I’d go ahead and write him up. Especially if it will actually have some impact on him, like making him ineligible for rehire in the future. Because I think “they can’t fire me, so I’m going to make life harder for the people who still work there” is an attitude that does not need to be rewarded.

      1. LawBee*

        It is entirely possible that OP asked the other manager’s opinion, don’t you think? I mean, she’s asking us…

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          Oh, sorry, I didn’t mean why is the other manager expressing an opinion. I meant that it seems unlikely that the LW’s actions will impact the other manager, so they shouldn’t have a problem if the OP decides to do something.

    3. LawBee*

      I’d tell him that if he would like to change his last day to tomorrow (and not show up) that’s fine but otherwise he is expected to be there. Don’t have a conversation about it, just state it, say “so if we don’t see you tomorrow, then that will be your last day, and we’ll send termination paperwork in the mail” or whatever it is you do.

      He’s quitting and a jerk. Do what’s easy for you.

    4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I’m assuming the other managers say not to bother because they wouldn’t bother, I’m assuming that the “hassle” is really just all on your shoulders, not theirs, so it’s just their “opinion” of what they would do in this case, right?

      If it’s just extra work for YOU and you want to do it, then go for it! I understand that completely, I do a lot of “You don’t have to do that” things because I’m like “Yeah but I want to so I’m gonna for my reasons.”

      We would have just told him to go ahead and take the rest of his notice period off. Here since he already quit, not scheduling him for the last 2 weeks wouldn’t constitute a firing. It’s the same as walking someone out if they quit and give notice. You have no obligation to accept their notice period ever. So go ahead and just say “okay then this is your last day, bye now.”

    5. WellRed*

      Consequences? What consequences? There’s no consequences. He’s leaving! What exactly is the formal warning going to achieve? Nothing! Zip! Zero! Zilch! Cut him loose now or accept he may pull this a few more times before his final shift and accept that you can’t rely on him.

    6. MoopySwarpet*

      Don’t punish him just because you’re annoyed, but handle it how you would if he were staying. In the meantime, I’d probably change the schedule to double up on coverage when he is scheduled to work, minimize his shifts, or ask if other employees will be on standby for his shifts. Which one would depend on which is easiest to implement and covers what you need.

    7. NothingIsLittle*

      I think that depends a bit on what industry you’re in. If it’s one of the service industries, I understand that it would be pretty common to just cut him loose if he did that, especially since he’s quitting anyway. In a more formal industry, like say accounting, his actions would be unusual, but likely wouldn’t warrant early termination.

      As I see it, it’s not worth going to the trouble of writing him up unless he’s likely to reapply for a job there or if not doing so will affect the other employee’s morale (Of course, it might be for you. And if it is, and it won’t make anyone else’s life more difficult, go right ahead!). Either you should let him do it, but verbally be disappointed in him and possibly change his schedule to days where him skipping won’t be a huge burden, or you should let him know that skipping any shift without a medical reason will be considered an early resignation.

    8. Former Retail Manager*

      If unemployment is not a concern for you, I’d tell him that although he has given his two week notice, you no longer require his services. This was kind of the go-to in retail when a difficult employee gave notice. On the up side, he’d then have plenty of time to “hang out with his friends.”

  17. Matilda Jefferies*

    I had an interview on Monday 8th. It went well, as far as anyone can tell from this side of the table, so now it’s just the waiting part. I mean, *I* know I’m the perfect candidate for the job, so obviously it shouldn’t take them any time at all to agree with me, right? Just because they have other candidates and the hiring manager is going on vacation next week, doesn’t mean they can’t provide an instant response!

    *tap*tap*tap*
    *fidget*fidget*fidget*
    *pace*pace*pace*

    Hurry UP, people with other priorities! Can’t you see I’m waiting patiently over here?!

    1. DietCokeHead*

      Ooh, I feel your frustration. I had a phone interview this week and now I’m waiting to hear if I make it to an in person interview. I wish you luck! Try and distract yourself if you can. I planned an outing for Saturday as a distraction.

    2. Alice*

      Ooh, absolutely! I had two interviews last week and they said they’d get back to me in a couple of weeks… Clearly this means they should have been in touch days ago and not actually in two weeks! How very silly of hiring managers to take all this time when they could just hire us and be done with the thing…

  18. Anon for this*

    I’ve managed to destroy three office chairs in the last hour due to my time of the month.

    1. Holy shit, am I dying???
    2. How…. do I even handle this?

    1. Sunshine Brite*

      Go to the store and get products asap! Let a supervisor know and pop out quick. As well as give maintenance a heads up that there needs to be some bio-cleanup.

      1. Anon for this*

        And try not to collapse into a puddle of embarrassment! This is THE WORST. OH MY GODDD.

        1. Sunshine Brite*

          Oh yes, you speak my language. Mine was super heavy until I finally couldn’t anymore and kept pressing doctors to try something. Mine got lighter with the Nexplanon implant; took about a year but it did.

      2. Librarian of SHIELD*

        And while you’re getting products, buy the cheapest towel you can find. I sleep on a beach towel during shark week, and I think putting one in your office chair for the day is reasonable.

        (Also, if you’re feeling at all weak or faint, get yourself some iron)

    2. peachie*

      Oh boy, that doesn’t sound good — if you have a way to see a doctor, that might be a good idea?

      1. Anon for this*

        Unfortunately my gyno’s response was essentially “sucks, it can happen, pack more tampons”

        1. Sunflower*

          What??? I don’t know how long you’ve been going to your gyno but I would suggest finding a new one or maybe/definitely considering a specialist. I know this stuff can be related to some other medical things going on and I’ve never heard that as the default response. Definitely keep looking before you give up.

          In the mean time, Do you have dark blanket you can fold up and sit on in case it happens again?

          1. valentine*

            There are bed pads you can buy, but you might want to for a dish drying mat because that’ll just look like you enjoy the decoration or you want a bit of a cushion on your chair.

            ~keep a couple changes of trousers at work, along with gloves in case you need to rinse something
            ~wear jeans or other sturdy trousers (maybe black or indigo)
            ~incontinence underwear (not diapers, the ones that look like pull-ups (because, well, they are))
            ~overnight maxi pads, placed two front, two back

            When you pull up the pad-laden underwear, push the front in so it’s kind of like a saddle and sticks to you when you move. Be sure it’s tucked up before you stand, to absorb bloodfall, especially if you cough or sneeze.

            Consult a doctor. Severe is changing a pad or tampon every hour. There is medication that will reduce the flow. They might want to check your iron levels.

        2. ZSD*

          I’d get a second opinion. My mother had such terrible flooding that she wore three super absorbency tampons at once and still bled through them, and when she finally had a hysterectomy, it turns out she had large cysts throughout her uterus. (I’m not saying that that’s what’s causing your flooding. I’m just saying it might be a good idea to talk to a second gyno.)

          As for the chairs, I’d suggest setting them on fire. No, seriously, I guess just let your facilities person know that the chairs need to be replaced? I’m sorry you’re having to deal with this!

            1. EH*

              I doubled the super plus ones back when I was using ’em. As long as you’re not leaving them in more than a few hours and they’re not coming out dry, you’re probably good on that front. (IANAD, tho)

              So much sympathy, Anon! This kind of thing sucks so bad.

              I come from a family with stupidly heavy periods (grandma used to faint from anemia), and all we ever got told was “yup, that’s a bummer.” There’s usually nothing obviously wrong with us – the occasional cyst (but not at all PCOS), say – so… yeah. No help from the docs. I had an endometrial ablation years ago and it was the best thing I ever did. I knew I was 100% not going to have kids and had a good OB-GYN who believed me. Stopped the bleeding entirely after a month or so and almost all of the hormone cycle PMS nonsense I used to have went away too.

        3. Lance*

          I’m not a woman, so I don’t know anything about this sort of thing… but if I got such a hand-wavey response from a doctor about an issue I was having, I’d be going elsewhere for a second opinion.

          1. londonedit*

            Unfortunately, us women are all too used to getting ‘hand-wavey responses’ from doctors no matter what the issue, but especially with anything gynaecological. It’s a documented problem.

          2. dawbs*

            Being female means if you’re breathing air while complaining, you can expect at least 1/3 of all medical appointments to be met with handwavey dismissal.
            (Says the person who is *STILL ANGRY* that my last ER visit has in my records, which the hospital refuses to correct, that I had ‘moderate pain’ when I had said my pain was a 10/10 and I was heaving from the pain on the regular)
            It’s a pretty well document pile of BS that we’re awfully used to.

        4. buttrue???*

          Use pads in with the lampoon. It’s what I did during the heaviest flow. And change every hour if you have to.

          1. Mbarr*

            +1 – I use a diva cup, but there are days where I have to empty that bad boy 3 times in a morning… A pad would help alleviate the panic I feel that it might overflow.

            1. NothingIsLittle*

              That’s what I do! Pads in the beginning when there’s more chance of overflow, then liners later on when I’m changing it on a schedule and not because it’s full.

              Given how bad it seems to be though, the above comment about sitting on a towel might be appropriate!

          2. Jules the 3rd*

            +1 to using both; overnight heavy (the 5th one on my brand) and change every hour. When it’s super heavy, I sometimes use 1 tampon + 2 pads, with the pads in a T formation to cover any leakage.

            And while it’s embarrassing, it happens to lots of people. Do make sure you’re drinking plenty and eating lots of iron – spinach salads or beef.

            +1 also to a new gynecologist, unless you know a reason for it. Mine is that my IUD and hyperthyroidism sometimes conspire, so 2mo of heavy lining go in 3 days (and I do Very Badly on hormonal bc, sigh). I try to wfh on the first of the flood days, but it’s not regular.

            sympathy…

        5. Jaid*

          Tell your gyno that s/he sucks. That said, I used to use overnight Always pads with wings. Maybe tampons are not the way to go?
          My sympathies.

          1. 1234*

            +1 to overnight Always pads with wings (I use them during the day too)

            Never used a tampon before in my life.

          2. Alice*

            I also suggest pads with wings, they’re the only thing that helps me. That and frequent bathroom visits (I go as often as every 2 hours on the worst days).

            Although I would also get a second opinion from a different gyno.

        6. Bunny Girl*

          Some gynos are the worst I swear. Makes me really wonder why they let D students pass medical school. I had a partial hysterectomy but before I had one I went to my (old) gyno because I had been bleeding for three months. Straight. No pause. She said it was “an inconvenience, not a medical issue.”

          1. Pebbles Bishop*

            That’s awful! I would absolutely get a second opinion. I’ve been bleeding/spotting for two and a half months at this point (but it’s due to an IUD and I knew it was coming) and I’m SO DONE. So, you have my deepest sympathies.

            1. A Simple Narwhal*

              I totally get it and you have all of my sympathy. Honestly the first six months after getting my IUD kinda sucked, but it was smooth sailing afterwards, and I didn’t have any problems at all when I got it replaced, so good times are ahead of you!

            2. Bunny Girl*

              Oh yeah I never went to visit her again. As I said, I don’t even have a period anymore because I had a partial hysterectomy (praise Jesus). I definitely encourage people to get second opinions because unfortunately, there’s a lot of gynos out there (still!) with really archaic mindsets who believe women should just put up with whatever happens so they can have millions of babies for the glory of the state or because we’re “just being hysterical.”

              1. Brazilian Hobbit*

                So much this. Before I had my own hysterectomy, I went to a gyno and she refused to even look at the possibility of a hysterectomy because 1- I was ‘too young (at 35) to decide not to have children’; 2- I could just take the pill for 6 months and come back to her (I can’t take the pill due to other health conditions and I told her that, but she insisted); 3- If I don’t want kids, ‘my husband might’ (I’m not married). The other doctor I saw after this one only believed me because other patients had come from this doctor to her before with the same situation. Also, +1 on ‘praise Jesus’ for not having to deal with periods anymore!

                1. Bunny Girl*

                  I had to go to 12 different doctors before I found one who was even willing to talk to me about a hysterectomy. I finally went to Planned Parenthood and they suggested someone out of town. I emailed him and said “Look before I even drive down there, here’s what’s going on and this is what I want. If you won’t even consider it, I don’t want to waste my time.” Luckily he said Oh yeah let’s talk. He offered me two different options (the hysterectomy or another surgery that would help with the pain but not the other issues) and then he had one more consultation with me before the surgery but then we just scheduled.

            3. Mother of Doggos*

              Hang in there, Pebbles! I’ve had an IUD before and things were really wack for the first couple months, then my period disappeared around the 6 month mark, so hopefully your experience is similar!

              OP, consider asking for a second opinion or a second look by your doctor.

        7. peachie*

          Ugh @ that gyno! That is not an appropriate response! I’m sorry, that’s so stressful. If you feel elsewise off — like, lightheaded, feverish, etc. — it might be worth it to go to an urgent care clinic.

          [Less-serious tangent, but earlier this year, I had my period for three months straight — not hemorrhaging, just a pain — and my gyn’s response was basically “Huh, that sucks.” !!! Why are they like that!! ]

        8. Tau*

          Yeah, absolutely get a second opinion. Sudden heavy bleeding can be a sign of quite a few medical issues, and can cause problems in its own right. I ended up with super-heavy periods twice due to fibroids, both times I ended up getting surgery to remove them, and both times I also ended up really, really badly anaemic prior (to the point where I think I narrowly avoided being hospitalized). Letting that go unchecked would have been a very bad idea.

        9. MusicWithRocksInIt*

          You need a new gyno – stat. I recently had a baby and after the first 24 hours I couldn’t have done that. Unless you are using the worst tampons ever that is too much blood too fast. Until then try using both a tampon and a pad?

        10. Yorick*

          You can use a pad also, or get the absorbent period underwear to wear with a tampon (I have thinx and I love them)

            1. MatKnifeNinja*

              My niece has heavy periods. The first two days are unreal. She has to use Thinx undies, a pad with wings and a tampon.

              Two gyns said the periods are “normal”, and she’s not one of those women that can use 1 regular tampon for 4 hours.

              My periods have always been the one tampon for a few hours kind. I thought this kid was bleeding to death. She destroyed to chairs at home bleeding through everything. I was hysterical bringing my niece in. The gyn acted like I was nuts. Both did a work up. Nothing is out of whack, but for now her periods will suck for the first three days.

              Yeah…we got the lecture pack more stuff, and don’t bother with the light day tampons.

        11. Michelle*

          Had the same issue- extremely heavy, soaking through both super tampons and overnight pads. I literally felt like the doctor was going to let me die- they were talking blood transfusions and sent me to be checked for leukemia- I had enough and got a second opinion. That doctor recommended a laparoscopic hysterectomy with bilateral salpingectomy. I honestly think he saved my life.

          1. Tau*

            Many sympathies – there’s something really terrifying about your period going haywire like that, right? Like, your blood, that stuff that you need in order to live, is escaping your body in large quantities and there is nothing at all you can do to stop it. I’m also fairly convinced my fibroids would have killed me without medical (surgical) intervention.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              I have one small one, according to the surgeon who took out my gallbladder, and even though my periods are bad, they’re not that bad. They do like to surprise me sometimes, so I keep a pair of undies in the bathroom (at work, I’d just put some in my purse).

        12. dealing with dragons*

          I was told that re pain I was having (“sometimes periods hurt”) like I freakin know

          I got them to listen by telling them I wanted to cut my body open to end the pain, which go their attention (and was true). I’ve found asking them what the actual baseline is to be effective. like, how much should you bleed, how many days, how often before it’s a concern, etc.

          anyway, got the surgery, had a bunch of endometriosis. who knew.

          just kidding, I knew.

          1. Oh My Glob*

            After my endometrial ablation a couple years ago, I was (and still am) simultaneously thrilled with my “new normal” periods and kinda pissed off that I didn’t know that for many, MANY people this IS their normal and always has been. Like, since I started bleeding at 13 I was way off the bell curve, and I just thought that periods sucked and needed to be dealt with for 10 or 15 years, after which I decided *I* needed to find a better solution and had to argue with doctors about it. But none of the doctors ever said “X days, X amount of fluid is typical for someone in your circumstances” so I would know just how bad off I was.

        13. Mockingjay*

          The rules forbid armchair diagnosing, but, in my own personal experience, when that happened to me it was due to thyroid issues. Once I got on a thyroid supplement, things went back to normal (still heavy – but that was my norm).

          Please let us know how you are doing later.

        14. Aitch Arr*

          WTF?

          This happened to me soon after my Mirena was removed. I ended up needing cauterization and medication to stop the hemorrhaging.

        15. NomdePlumage*

          Did gyno run tests? There may be other issues here, like menorrhagia or PCOS. A lot of gynos can be dismissive; it took me three different gynos before one suggested an ultrasound that helped them discover the cysts.

        16. alphabet soup*

          Second everyone here who says to get a second opinion.

          My gyno just asked about my flow during a routine checkup and said, “hmm, that sounds like a lot. could be something serious.” She sent me for further testing and it turns out I have PCOS. I was kind of amazed because I didn’t even realize my flow was abnormal since it’s always been like this and wasn’t experiencing any other symptoms.

          So, could be something more serious and you never know unless you get it checked.

          In terms of managing heavy flow, the Super Jennie menstrual cup might be an option. It has the largest capacity of any cup currently on the market.

    3. Miss Ames*

      I can sympathize – I’ve been there (though I can’t say I got to the point of destroying chairs!). I got to the point on a few days where I just had to go home. Period. I could not be at work in that condition. This was about 10 years ago (I was about 40), and in my case this was due to hormones and I ended up getting on the proper meds and I am happy to say that eliminated my problem completely.

      1. Anax*

        Likewise, sympathizing. I have PCOS. Plus side, mine are usually very light or nonexistent. Minus side, they’re 100% random and unpredictable – so I can’t plan at all for the rare red floods, and I’ve definitely soaked a few chairs.

        Thank goodness for birth control; that’s helped SO MUCH.

      1. Parenthetically*

        YES, peroxide is a life-saver. Also BioKleen’s Bac-Out, which also smells delightfully light and natural (lime oil, I believe, is the source of the aroma rather than a perfume).

    4. londonedit*

      What about those ‘period-proof’ underpants, like Thinx? They might not be enough on their own, but wearing them as back-up with tampons might help to save the chairs?

      1. Ktelzbeth*

        Another brand is Luna Pads, which makes underwear. I like those because you can change a removable inner liner without having to change the whole underpant (like I think you do with Thinx), as long as it hasn’t gone too far.

    5. Anon for this too...*

      Something similar happened to me for multiple weeks once. To prevent the destruction of clothing and office equipment: bathroom every hour. Set a reminder. Put some sort of black clothing item on your chair if you keep anything in the office.

      Usually, if you are going through multiple tampons an hour, a doctor’s office will get you in or send you to the ER. Especially if it lasts for multiple hours or multiple days.

    6. Matilda Jefferies*

      Three chairs in an hour? That’s a lot. Honestly, you should get yourself to a medical clinic in the next day or two. You’re not dying (probably!), and you don’t need to drop what you’re doing and race to the ER, but you should definitely be talking to a doctor sooner rather than later.

      Feel better soon, and please keep us posted!

      https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/menorrhagia/symptoms-causes/syc-20352829
      Seek medical help before your next scheduled exam if you experience:
      Vaginal bleeding so heavy it soaks at least one pad or tampon an hour for more than two hours

      1. AFT*

        This is what I was going to say as well. It is not normal and could be a number of underlying issues.
        I ended up with an ablation and so far one of the best decisions I have made.

    7. Celeste*

      Find a new doctor and look into an IUD such as Mirena. It releases progesterone slowly over 5 years and is being widely used as a way to control dysfunctional bleeding.

      1. A Simple Narwhal*

        I have a Skyla IUD and it took me from “oh god oh god oh god I bled through everything again how am I not dead” to only having to change tampons because of time limits and not capacity. Absolutely life changing.

    8. Neosmom*

      For question number 2 – maybe place a puppy pad on your office chair. Doesn’t help your clothes, but it will prevent the need to clean up / replace a destroyed chair. Good luck and my sympathies.

        1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          Yeah, it’s better to use the ones for humans rather than puppies. The ones for puppies sometimes have scents to “encourage” the puppies to use them, the ones for humans do not.

    9. Anon for this*

      This feels like a higher power punishing me for not feeling guilty about getting a DNC. Damnit.

      1. londonedit*

        Absolutely not! Do not think like that. Medical issues happen and they can happen to anyone. Definitely get a second medical opinion, though. You shouldn’t have to put up with this sort of thing (women ‘put up’ with far too much because we’re constantly told that pain/bleeding/whatever ‘just sucks, sorry, part of being a woman’. It shouldn’t have to be!)

      2. Anon for this too...*

        If you’re recovering that, this wouldn’t be abnormal. Any chance you take the rest of the day off if you delicately say, “I’m having a health situation involving abnormal bleeding today, and I need to handle it.” Don’t ask permission, just be factual.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            You’ve had abnormal bleeding ever since a D&C? Get a different doctor. Immediately.

            1. Anon for this*

              From what my gyno told me I’m just short of concern level bleeding (although FFS I’m concerned!!)

                1. Anon for this*

                  Starting to realize she may be… she also didn’t see my reason for concern when before the abortion I would *never* get my period. I had the physical symptoms of a cycle (breakouts, weight gain, boobs, feelings, etc) but no flow.

                2. Quandong*

                  Please make a doctor’s appointment as soon as possible – with a GP who can refer you to a new Gynae specialist.

                  I’m sorry you have not received the appropriate level of care you required after your procedure and hope things improve soon.

              1. Natalie*

                Have you talked to the doctors at the abortion clinic? They might be more familiar with possible side effects / after effects – for various annoying political reasons, a lot of general practice doctors get zero training in elective abortion.

              2. zora*

                I agree with the others, go to another dr. The ‘Concern level’ is pretty subjective, many gynos would definitely be concerned about this much bleeding!! Second opinion time!

              3. secondopinion*

                PLEASE go to a different doctor!! you have like 20 strangers telling you this is crazy & not normal :(

      3. Elizabeth West*

        NO. No one is punishing you.
        I just saw that this has been going on for a long time after your procedure–you NEED to get checked out ASAP! And come back and update us because we worry.

    10. Corky's wife Bonnie*

      As others have said, go to another gyno. I was like that as long as I had it, and it turned out I had huge fibroids (one as large as a softball). Not saying that’s your case, but you need more info than just a hand wave. They’ll probably start with some tests. In the meantime, buy a black or dark colored towel, use that to sit on your office chair during your time, and start experimenting with feminine products. I also wore the Always with wings, the heaviest one they had. I am sorry this is happening to you. Hopefully a new doctor will figure this out for you.

    11. Merci Dee*

      I’ve always had an extremely heavy flow (all of the women in my family do, and my daughter is learning this the hard way), and I can’t use tampons for reasons.

      I always use the Always brand pads, overnight level 5, and I use 2 at the same time — I place one so that the long end extends toward the front, and place the other so that it covers about 1/4 – 1/3 of the first pad and the long end extends toward the back. The double layer in the middle really helps to prevent leaks, and that arrangement usually holds for a couple of hours before I have to change.

      Yes, it can sometimes feel like I’m wearing a diaper, but it’s worth it for the peace of mind and extra absorbency that I get.

      1. Ugh yes this*

        Yeah, I do something similar. It’s not so much the heavy flow as where’s the blood going (?!). Needed that peace of mind that I was covered straight down and up my cr*ck. Thank you very much Mother Nature you B!@$%.

        1. Jaid*

          I used to do that, too! I’d have to double up the overnight because it wasn’t long enough!

        2. SoVeryAnonForThis*

          I do this too, and also an ultra-plus tampon (purple wrapper). On the heaviest days I have to change the tampon every 2 hours. It suuuuuuuuuuuucks.

      2. Bortus*

        FWIW, my mom who does now wear adult depends, swears if she had known then what she knows now, she would have worn them for her period too. Have you thought about maybe trying them?

        1. A tester, not a developer*

          I wear them for… reasons, and they are great for that, especially for overnight.

    12. Anon2*

      I had horrible periods for so long, I had to use a tampon and a large pad, and they had to be changed every 30-45 minutes during my heaviest flow times, and my periods lasted 5-7 days. I wouold have 1 day a month where I could barely get off the couch because of cramping. 10 years ago I got a non-hormonal IUD, and it changed everything. My periods now last 3 days, and 1/2 day of heavy flow – but that heavy flow is 1/4 of what it was prior to the IUD. I no longer have to wear a pad and a tampon and only need to change the tampon every 1 hour or so.
      A couple of things to know about the non-hormonal IUD (copper)
      1. I have never had kids, so it was a bit painful going in
      2. The first 3 -4 months after my periods were awful and very painful, but my doctor assured me they would get better, and he was right. They did! It changed my life.
      3. They can be removed at anytime
      4. The only need to be swapped out every 7-10 years. I am going in October to get mine changed

      Good luck!

    13. Ama*

      Just going to drop in, as someone who had a lot of unpredictable bleeding earlier in my life, saline (any salt solution, but regular old contact saline works fine) is really good at taking blood stains out of stuff, especially if it is chairs or other surfaces that can’t really be thrown in the wash. It actually works for any protein stain, but has saved more than a few sets of sheets and pairs of pants for me — it works better the fresher the stain is but I have used it on dried stains with pretty good success before.

      I used to keep a bottle of contact saline in my desk at work just in case which confused anyone who happened to see it since I wear glasses.

    14. Zephy*

      If a flow this heavy isn’t normal for you, see a doctor. I see that your gyno told you to suck it up, buttercup – +1 suggestion to see more gynos until one of them listens to you.

      If the amount is normal for you but it’s just the leaking that’s unusual, did you switch to a different brand/style/line of menstrual products recently, or was your usual product maybe redesigned? Did you get new underwear, if you use pads? I have had unexpected leakage after switching to a different style of undies and not quite getting the pad placement right.

    15. CupcakeCounter*

      as i am currently on my heavy day (although not even close to the hemorrhaging you seem to be experiencing), I am extremely grateful for my leather office chair and my penchant for anti-bacterial wet wipes.
      Yes I have a kid. It is a boy. I have purchased stock in hand sanitize and wet wipes. And bleach.

    16. jDC*

      For sure tampons aren’t enough at this point. A regular pad too, not just a panty liner. Also another doctor. I heard some commercial where they said the average woman bleeds one tablespoon her whole period. I nearly fell over laughing. Ya. Ok. I also have been told I was a drug seeker for going to the doctor when a cyst ruptured. Mind you I didn’t ask for drugs, had never been given any in my life outside of being run over and breaking my femur (which they overdosed me which is why I don’t take them) and when they gave them to me my heart rate when nuts and I was shaking and crying in the ER. Some doctors are just awful. She never even told me what was wrong. Just walked away and never came back then discharged me. I really don’t know why some doctors brush these things off but I think it’s time to find another GYN.

      1. Llama Face!*

        “…the average woman bleeds one tablespoon her whole period.”
        Was the company who made this commercial also the source where guys got the idea we could start and stop our periods like peeing?
        O.M.G

        1. Kuododi*

          Ok… whoever came up with that “one tablespoon” pile of steaming excrement was smoking something truly bizarre. It’s the only explanation I can find to justify such a ridiculous statement. GACK!!!

    17. Been There*

      If you have not tried a menstrual cup, I highly recommend it. I have a relatively normal flow and I could wear one for 24+ hours (not recommended generally but it was a special case) without leakage. They’re easy to put in and remove in the shower (no need to empty during work hours) and they really keep everything contained.

      They’re a little expensive but worth the investment – I bought one 3-4 years ago and haven’t needed to replace it yet.

      Also, go to a different Gyno – yours sucks. That’s NOT normal.

      1. Mbarr*

        +1 for menstrual cups – but I have a super heavy flow and have to empty mine in the work bathroom all the time. On bad days, I may have to empty it 3 times by lunch.

        It can feel awkward – especially when you get blood on your fingers that you can’t quite wipe off with toilet paper, but honestly, no one notices while you wash off at the sink. What’s worse is when you dump out your cup, but the toilet refuses to flush. :| I try with all my might, then eventually leave the scene of the crime (and sometimes return right away, since the act of leaving and re-entering the stall can trigger the automatic sensor – my old company’s override buttons DIDN’T WORK).

    18. Policy Wonk*

      Emergency room. This is not normal. You need medical attention. (And a new GYN if this has happened before and been dismissed.)

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        mmm – that reaaaally depends on the style of protection they’re using. If it’s tampons or even menstrual cups (placement errors), leakage isn’t that strange. If they’re bleeding *through* tampons + pads, then maybe – check for pain and fever, if they have either, then emergency room.

        I am concerned about the ‘this has been happening since the gyn procedure 2 years ago’ part, tho. Deeply.

        1. Quandong*

          It is extremely concerning that this has been happening since a procedure in September 2017!

    19. bunniferous*

      Always superabsorbent pads are your friends along with the tampons.

      I am past the change but if you are in perimenopause sadly this sort of thing can go with the territory. But I do think getting a second doc opinion is worth the hassle.

      1. Anon for this*

        I’m 27. Before my D&C my periods almost never came (and surprise surprise, the gyno didn’t think that was anything to worry about, either!) After? It’s like a dam has broken.

          1. valentine*

            Assuming your abortion provider is a different person, that’s someone to speak to. If you have access to a nurse advice line or a Planned Parenthood, those may be better options. Everyone urging you to keep seeking help is right.

        1. Aunt Vixen*

          Friend, I am here to join the chorus of SECOND OPINION. You deserve to be taken much more seriously than that doctor has taken you. I wish I could be more help than just to stand here yelling.

        2. Quandong*

          I had a condition of the endometrium that was only discovered in the course of getting some other medical symptom checked out. One of the signs my endometrium was not functioning as intended was that I also had no period flow, but experienced PMS: it didn’t bother me so I didn’t mention it to my care providers.

          Following my diagnosis I had a number of HD&Cs to manage this condition. I had a lot of guidance about what was and wasn’t within the range of ‘normal’ or ‘expected’ bleeding afterwards, both short-and long-term. What you’re describing is outside the range of ‘expected’ according to my medical advice.

          Given what you’ve written, your current gyno is not responsive enough – quite honestly, they sound terrible on the level of ‘people may have sued for negligence in the past’ terrible. They ought to have been following up on you with much greater care and urgency!

          Your initial reports about your lack of period flow should have been investigated. Not to mention this excessive bleeding since your D&C in September 2017 (!!OMG!!!!!!WTF!!!).

          Please, please document your symptoms and get yourself to a doctor. Your GP may be able to refer you for urgent assessment and treatment. If you have access to a GP or nurse helpline, consider contacting them. You may also consider going to a walk-in clinic in the next few days if you can’t get an appointment with your regular GP.

          You deserve better treatment and timely care.

          I’m so sorry you’re having this stressful and awful time with flooding periods that destroy your chairs at work, and hope you can get some appropriate treatment very soon.

        3. Kat in VA*

          Adding the multitudes who say SEE A DIFFERENT GYNO. Not all docs are good, some of them downright suck. And for yours to go, “Eh, I’m not at CONCERN level enough to do anything about this” even though it’s a major change from normal since you had a procedure two.freaking.years.ago, I’d find a gyn who was sufficiently CONCERNED about what’s happening.

          There’s still this aura of mystery and shrugs when it comes to uniquely female ailments (PCOS, endometriosis, dysmenorrhea) and it’s downright infuriating.

    20. MMB*

      * Warning graphic!!

      I thought about going anon for this due to embarrassment, but decided to own it. When I was younger I had one or two periods like the one you are describing. I was TERRIFIED and went to the ER absolutely covered in blood from the waist down holding two drenched bath towels that I had soaked through on the 30 minute drive there. Only to be told that I was fine. After I hit my early to mid 40’s I began having extremely long heavy flash flood style periods. My husband, sister and I refer to it as “crime scene day”. One to two days of severed artery style gushing and 12-15 days of general misery. Here’s what I learned: OB Ultra tampons backed up by the ultra thin super absorbent Always nighttime pads and believe it or not testosterone. Yep testosterone. Progesterone helped but testosterone was the key. It took several years and multiple Dr’s who wouldn’t listen to solve it. Don’t be afraid to get a second opinion if you have concerns Dr’s are NOT infallible. I’m so sorry you are dealing with such a humiliating and frightening situation. Your not alone and I hope you feel better. Go home, get some rest and load up on heme (meat derived) iron or non-heme iron and vitamin c.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        +1 – this is not normal and Anon, you need a Dr to take it seriously.

        MMB, sympathy!

      2. Not So NewReader*

        omg. Yes. Testosterone. Women have a small amount but we super need that amount. If we are without it then it can feel like we might die.

        If the doc suggests testosterone, be not afraid. I cannot believe how it helped pull me up out of a pit I had fallen into.

    21. Ariana Grande's Ponytail*

      This happened to me on vacation last year, and the period stayed for a month bc my uterus was shedding wildly as it had decided to be done with my IUD.

      A) I would be packing double (tampons+regular pads) for now
      B) I want to suggest the cup, if you aren’t already using it! That is part of what saved me during this time period, plus you can tell how much is coming out each day (there are little notches on the DivaCup describing tbsps). This is useful information to have for your doctor.
      C) Find a new gyno who takes your concerns seriously. No doctor who waves you off is worth your time and money. You are well within your rights to go “this is not normal for me, and I’d like to investigate what is going on” instead of accepting your doctor’s word at face value.
      D) If it is possible that you are having an early miscarriage, you may also want to check in with your doctor. That is what they told me when this was going on.

    22. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

      Would adult diapers work? I’ve never tried them, but they’ve got to be designed for better volume capacity and sealing than pads. Maybe a bit embarrassing, but not as bad as bleeding on chairs.

      1. Midwest writer*

        I had to switch to using these overnight a few months ago. I could not find a pad that would contain everything at night, partly because of volume and partly because of the way I slept. I am so glad I finally gave in and tried them.

    23. Zenomorph*

      Just wanted to say that all these internet articles that claim the average amount of menstrual blood shed daily is around a tablespoon, or that total period blood averages 60 ml, make me laugh and laugh and laugh. I can’t imagine where these statistics come from. It’s hard for me to believe that the average woman has such a light period.

    24. Cat Meowmy Admin*

      Oh Hunnteeee!! I feel for you! (I agree on getting a 2nd opinion at minimum)
      Although I’m post-meno for years, I have a family history of heavy, heavy flow. My 1st job at age 18, wearing the company’s uniform jumper (when we wore miniskirts back in the day). In 95° summer heat, standing on NYC subway platform, and I began to look like something out of a crime scene from the waist down, onto the platform floor. Horrified me ran up to the street and hailed a taxi. When dropped off, I left a pool of blood all over the back seat of the cab. I was hysterical and mortified, my mom scheduled a dr appt. (I was ok) But it’s Scary AF!! Over the years, I doubled and tripled my pads, wore incontinence underwear, but no tampons. (Dr said not a good idea in my case for regular use, its supposed to come out. Around that time bc toxic shock syndrome became a serious thing.)
      I recommend the menstrual cup, overnight pads/underwear, and especially disposable incontinence bed pads (like puppy pads) to help you through this a little.
      Please keep us posted! Wishing you well, we’re here in support and solidarity!

    25. Medication relief*

      Lots of good advice for you in the threads, but if this is an ongoing thing for you (and all the heavy bleeders in the replies!) ask your doc about taking tranexamic acid during your period. It is designed to help blood to create clots, and can be used for heavy periods, with dosage related to an individual’s body weight.

      I use a menstrual cup, and on my second day of bleeding would have to empty it every hour or so to keep it from overflowing and leaking. Thought it was normal, but when I couldn’t get through a 45 min aquatic fitness class (I’m a lifeguard), I brought it up to my doc. Tested for endo, but nothing conclusive.. and she prescribed me tranexamic acid during my period.

      I’ve gone from filling my cup every hour or two, to dumping it twice a day and it isn’t quite full. Life changing!

      (Note on dose: make sure your doc checks on the body weight dosing – I take 3 pills 3x a day during my period, related to weighing around 240lbs.)

      Hope this helps some folks!

  19. K*

    I recently moved to a new area of my office building and have a new cube neighbor. My issue: she has soup everyday. And she slurps really loudly. I have a really visceral reaction to hearing people chew/slurp, like I’ve yelled at my dad to close his mouth when he eats. My usual solution is to either just go for a walk to get coffee or plug in my headphones. Does anyone else have this kind of reaction to people eating loudly?

    1. blink14*

      Two different people in my work area scrape silverware against bowls EVERY morning, and it drives me nuts. I usually try to take a short walk around the floor, go to the bathroom, etc. When I have to be at my desk or it goes on for a long time, I tell myself to breathe through every scrape and it will be over soon. Literally one of the most annoying sounds to me!

      1. K*

        She also does the silverware scraping. She also eats it out of a big mug that she thumps on the desk when she puts it down. Commiseration.

      2. Boop*

        Hah–my coworker eats at their desk nearby and some days I just want to stomp over and be like “WHY THE @%^* ARE YOU THROWING YOUR DAMN FORK ONTO YOUR PLATE EVERY TIME YOU PUT IT DOWN. STOP. IT.” But I know that’s crazy, so I didn’t. Yesterday I decided to put my soup in an actual bowl instead of heating it in my usual tupperware (because cancer? I think?) and I was driving MYSELF crazy with the damn spoon in the damn bowl in this damn echoey office. Today it was back to soup in a tupperware.

        1. blink14*

          I’ve pretty much totally switched over to glass containers when I’m going to be reheating something at work (although I drive and wouldn’t want to lug that around on a longer commute), but I use plastic utensils only at work. You win some, you lose some on that with the plastic use, but it doesn’t make that terrible noise!

    2. Miss Ames*

      I feel your pain! I am in the US and there was a guy from China who would eat hunched over his food, slurping loudly and chewing loudly – this would be every time he ate. It was probably culturally the norm for him, but I did feel it was disgusting. Fortunately I did not work near him and I was only exposed to this during group meals we had on occasion (makes me think, if that is how he ate in a group setting, imagine how he ate when he was alone!). There isn’t anything you can do here other than what you’ve been doing, either leaving or putting in earbuds. Hang in there!!

      1. Goose Lavel*

        I’d prefer this over the china dude at my last job who would come into the bathroom, cover one nostril with a finger and proceed to hock his snot into the sink next to me while I was washing my hands.

        And yes, he would leave without rinsing the sink.

        1. Yuck!*

          This may be the grossest thing I ever read on this site. You should have yelled at him and made a big deal out of it.

          1. Really?*

            Yeah…I’d say referring to someone in this manner is just as gross as what is being complained about. Also what the heck does the person’s race (“Chinese dude,” not “china dude”) have to do with what you’re complaining about? Other than sounding super racist, I mean.

            1. Lady Russell's Turban*

              His country of origin is relevant here because slurping, chewing loudly, sniffling, spitting on the floor (and then rubbing it around with your foot) were all common and acceptable behaviors in China, at least when I lived in a provincial capitol in the 1980s. Things were somewhat better (from an American perspective) among the middle class international business people with whom I worked in Beijing in the early 2000s, but when out among the general population things were pretty much as they had ever been.

              When I lived in Japan, the sniffling grossed me out but then I learned that blowing one’s nose in front of others is considered rude and disgusting, especially if eating. While I can’t bring myself to sniffle, even now I excuse myself to go away from people if I need to blow my nose.

              I bike and backpack so the finger-to-the-nose blow is common among my friends when we are on the trail, but I would be pretty shocked if someone did that in a public or office restroom. At least the guy isn’t emptying his pee cup all over the dishes.

      2. Llama Face!*

        FYI per my Chinese (from China) friend you really are supposed to slurp noodles/soup to show you enjoy your food. She tells me when I visit her in China that I’ll have to get over my Canadian silent eating customs. Lol. But she also adopts the Canadian style of eating when she is in Canada which I much appreciate since I also have food noises sensitivity.

    3. JBPL*

      I have a major issue with that! I don’t know if there’s anything polite you can really say as a peer, though. I usually end up doing a “It’s not your fault, but I have a problem with mouth sounds” if someone brings up my sudden and somewhat panicked departure. Headphones are great if they drown out the noise. Good luck!

    4. Jimming*

      Yes. I work from home mostly but every now and then when I go into the office one of my coworkers has chips and dip. Which wouldn’t be too bad except she chews with her mouth open. Yuck.

      1. Anon for this*

        Adults who chew with their mouths open (or have bad table manners in general) should be exported to Mars.

        1. Nanc*

          Nah, the barkeep on Mars don’t want no trouble in his place, and bad manners would be trouble. (Sparks Nevada, Marshal on Mars fans know what I’m talking about!)

        2. That Girl From Quinn's House*

          If you have any orthodontic issues (TMJ, misaligned bite, etc.) it’s really easy to chew with your mouth open. Not everyone can get those fixed, TMJ in particular because it involves having your jaw wired shut for a month or two.

        3. Foreign Octopus*

          One of my parents’ friends is in his 70s and he chews with his mouth open. Every time I have dinner with him it makes me want to claw my eyes out. I can’t stand it, but I can’t say anything to him because he’s a friend of my parents and I don’t want to me that person.

    5. peachie*

      I do (misophonia, which sounds like it might be the case for you?) and I do not have a good solution. I’m in the same position, actually — new(ish) office mate who triggers it for some reason (thankfully, it doesn’t happen with everyone). I haven’t said anything to her because (a) non-confrontational, but mostly (b) I almost exclusively eat in my office and I’d like to keep doing that, so I don’t have standing to say “stop doing that,” especially because she’s not actually doing anything wrong or bad.

    6. PleaseBeQuiet*

      Yes. There is a disordered called misiphonia. Earplugs are my best friend, I keep them with me at all times. The other day there was construction going on outside my window and the repetitive hammering was making me angry– like I wanted to punch someone angry. I had to put earplugs in, and then I put on earphones with white noise playing. Although I could still hear the hammering it dampened it enough so I could calm down.
      I am pretty sure my grandma had it too. She is now 95 and I keep telling her she needs to get a hearing aid and she snapped at me and said “It is the first time in 90 years I don’t want to kill people for breathing. I rather be deaf.” HAHAHA So I guess I have that to look forward to!

      I buy a big jar of foam earplugs at CostCo and keep some in my purse, on my bedside table, on my desk.
      Good luck!

    7. WellRed*

      My god my boss and her goddamn gum chewing. She snaps, it cracks it, really works it over in her mouth all juicy and crunchy and wet and gross. I sometimes have to yell “gum” so she dials it down a bit.
      She’s otherwise a delightful, well mannered person.

      1. BeQuiet*

        Just reading your description of the gum sapping made me cringe! I would murder someone.

        1. Watry*

          And I said to him “You pop that gum one more time…” and he did. So I took the shotgun off the wall and I fired two warning shots…into his head. He had it comin’!

          –Chicago, Cell Block Tango

    8. Tiffany GK*

      Ugh! I deal with something similar! Every single day, right around 12:30, someone near me (I’m in a cubicle farm, too) eats something in one of those glass reusable containers with a metal spoon. It honestly sounds like they’re just banging the spoon around in there. I can’t take it! I’ve started eating lunch in another location, and/or planning to not work at my desk during that time. Because it seriously drives me crazy! No suggestion, but I definitely commiserate!

      1. blink14*

        No no no! The metal on the glass I cannot take! Also, like how much left are you really getting with all that scraping anyways?

    9. Kelly AF*

      Ooooh yeah. As soon as someone near me breaks out the chips/carrot sticks/celery my headphones go right in.

    10. FondantFancy*

      I get this sooo badly too: the person on the opposite desk ate ALL DAY. ALL DAY. And every single bite had a lip-smacking clack sound to it. A normally polite person, I would have to stop myelf from jumping up and yelling at her. My reaction was fierce. In the end I never said anything (I couldn’t work out a way to politely deal with it, and eat at the desk myself) so I changed desks as soon as one came up. I read about misophonia at the time and now think of myself as an occasional psychopath, and smacky food sounds bring it out.

  20. Anax*

    How much medical information is ‘too much’?

    I went home early yesterday, and folks were asking how I was doing – thing is, I wasn’t exactly sick. My hip decided to partially dislocate in the night, and it was pressing on a nerve when I sat in my desk chair.

    (Probably Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. Yes, it hurt a lot.)

    Is that sort of thing TMI to share, in the amount of detail above? I don’t want to make my coworkers uncomfortable, but having dealt with chronic illness for a long time, it can be hard to know where the ‘normal’ lines are.

    1. AndersonDarling*

      As long as you aren’t giving details on bodily fluids or BMs, you are okay. I’m generally cautious about sharing details, but I’ve found that some of my co-workers have had similar experiences that they can share. It really helps when you are going through something scary and they can tell you they or someone they know went through the same thing and turned out fine. I’ve also gotten connections to great doctors by mentioning health issues at work.

      1. Anax*

        Awesome. Thank you!

        I haven’t met anyone with similar experiences – it’s a pretty rare condition – but sharing has sometimes been helpful. At least everyone knows why I don’t want to do athletic activities!

        1. JessP*

          Hi! You have now, at least online! Hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome here. I answered your actual question in more detail below :)

        2. KoiFeeder*

          Hi, I’m here too! It’s nice to know that someone who has a job deals with this too, I’ve had people tell me that I can’t [do accommodation thing like wear a wrist brace during written tests] in the “real” world, so this is kinda reassuring.

          1. JessP*

            Ah, the real world. I’ve heard similar, but I’ve also been out of school and working for a while, and I’m not sure I’ll ever find it ;)

            There are very few work situations I can think of that would not allow you to wear a brace—maybe certain types of machinery where there’s a hazard of it being caught, or maybe some infection control stuff?

            But no, generally you just ask for the accommodations you need and if your employer is reasonable you can work something out. I have a lot of flexibility (ha!) in my job, so randomly stepping out to see my PT or working from home to nurse an injury haven’t been a big deal. I also show up in weird braces/splints or with a different mobility aid seemingly at random, so if there’s someone I’m meeting with that I don’t see often, I might email and include something like “ I have a chronic issue flaring and will be in my wheelchair this afternoon; are we still set to meet in your office or should I book us a conference room?” so they’re not shocked and concerned about my injury.

            Let me know if there’s any other real world accommodations you’d want reassurance about :)

            1. KoiFeeder*

              Well, due to the rest of my health issues, heavy machinery and infectious diseases are not likely to be in my future, so that is exceptionally reassuring! The other thing is existing while autistic, and I’ve already sent Alison a letter detailing all of that, so for politeness’ sake I’ll refrain from reposting here. But thank you so much!

    2. Not Maeby But Surely*

      I don’t think that’s too much to share. Sounds painful! Sorry you had to deal with that.

      1. Anax*

        Thanks! It wasn’t much fun, but I’m doing much better today; I had to lay down for a few hours until my muscles relaxed.

        Hips are hard because there’s so much muscle – they come out a lot less often than my fingers or wrists, but they’re harder to fix when they do.

    3. Ali G*

      You don’t have to tell them anything!
      CW: Are you feeling better?
      You: Oh yes, thanks for asking!
      That’s it. It doesn’t matter if you weren’t ill – you still needed to go home. They don’t need to know.

      1. Anax*

        I definitely don’t need to, and I wasn’t feeling pressured. We were just having friendly small talk, and my “normal meter” is a little off in this regard, so I wanted to make sure I wasn’t inadvertently being a jerk.

        Honestly, I think “weird joints” has a lot less stigma than other illnesses – most people just want to see the party tricks really flexible folks can do. I’m a lot quieter about the issues which ARE stigmatized, like the details of my PTSD.

    4. Not an Exhibit at the Petting Zoo*

      It’s not TMI, but it’s also not necessary. Unless people press for details, they’re probably just looking for “I’m feeling better, thank you for asking!” or, if they’re asking why you’re leaving, “I’m not well enough to work right now but I’ll be fine later. Nothing to worry about!”.

      I have chronic pain too, so I sympathize. My experience is that I haven’t damaged my prospects by being open about it, but I also definitely haven’t done myself any favours. People don’t really get it unless they experience it too.

    5. Rusty Shackelford*

      I think anything ranging from “I’m better today, thanks” to “it was a flare-up of a musculoskeletal issue, but I’m better now” is perfectly appropriate. Keep in mind that giving too much detail might not only make coworkers uncomfortable (although I don’t think your details are particularly discomforting, at least not to me), but it might also lead to “helpful” suggestions that you might prefer to avoid.

    6. Turtlewings*

      While I don’t think you should ever feel *obligated* to give medical details, a pinched nerve that makes sitting painful isn’t the kind of thing I would think of as TMI, in the sense of “eep, I’d rather I didn’t know that.” (Counter-example, for clarity: if a coworker needed to go home because of diarrhea, I would feel so much compassion for them but also not be grateful for the mental image. “I have a stomachache” or just “I’m not feeling well” would have been sufficient.) Since Ehlers-Danlos doesn’t involve embarrassing body functions (as far as I’m aware?) and it might be helpful to have coworkers understand the difficulties you’re facing, I wouldn’t call it TMI to share that. If you don’t want to get bogged down in details, or make people uncomfortable with reacting to the seriousness of the illness, saying “I was having a flare-up of a nerve issue, it happens sometimes” probably communicates just enough to be helpful.

      1. Turtlewings*

        Ah, looks like I misinterpreted the nature of Ehlers-Danlos a bit, I guess it’s not exactly a nerve issue? But that level of vagueness is what I mean. (Also, sucks that you have to deal with that, I’m so sorry!)

      2. Anax*

        No embarrassing body functions for me, thankfully! I just have really loose joints that often slide out of their sockets – usually not a huge deal, but bad days can be pretty painful.

        I could tell some stories that would probably cross a line, but I try to avoid the more upsetting details!

        When I was in high school, for instance, it felt like my joints were sprained all the time. I would have to crawl around the house sometimes because it hurt too much to stand, or I would just fall down when I tried. I still have scars on my hands, because I would dig my nails in to get through the pain of gym class.

        That’s the kind of thing I think would probably cross a line – folks generally don’t need that level of detail.

        But the kind of sharing I mentioned above can be useful sometimes – it helps folks understand what’s going on, and … honestly, prevents many well-meaning suggestions like ‘here’s a great place to hike’ that sting because I just can’t do them right now. I’d love to be more physically active, but it’s not possible right now.

      3. JessP*

        It can! EDS is a disorder of all connective tissue, not just joints, so our insides are often too stretchy too! That means many of us have a variety of more embarrassing or gruesome symptoms, anything from easy skin tearing or bruising, to IBD type symptoms, gastroparesis, interstitial cystitis, to organ ruptures and prolapse. Autonomic dysfunction is also involved, so we may pass out randomly or have trouble regulating our temperature, etc.

        To bring it back to work, in many cases EDS sounds horrifying but also novel enough to be interesting discussion, so we need to find a balanced response that conveys “I am not in any acute state of illness or dying, but have need to be somewhere else to deal with this” without freaking out coworkers to the point that they think we can’t do our jobs or we end up comforting them about our problem? So that may be something to be aware of if anyone reading has a coworker w an illness (or other situation for which you may express sympathy)–try not to go overboard with the sympathy to the point that you’re requiring emotional labor from the person you are trying to be sympathetic to.

        1. Anax*

          Yeah, temperature regulation is the bane of my existence right now. I don’t have a lot of gastrointestinal issues, which I’m grateful for, but I know a lot of folks also do.

          That’s exactly the issue! “It IS kind of a big deal, but also I’m not dying or anything, and I chose a sedentary career specifically so it would rarely be affected, I can do my job fine.”

          I always feel guilty when I accidentally freak people out; it’s such an uncomfortable feeling.

    7. Lily Rowan*

      I think you could just say “I was having an issue with my hip,” if you want. Or just answer the question they asked and say “Much better today, thank you!”

    8. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Ouch ouch ouch!

      TMI tends to mean “gross” in most situations. Some people are going to think any information is “too much” as well, so they’re the outlier, keep that in mind.

      If you just say “I have a thing where my hip can dislocate and it causes me pain to sit!” they’ll go “Oh man, ouch ouch ouch, I’m glad you’re feeling better now though.”

    9. JessP*

      I’m a clinical librarian–so my coworkers and I like talking about weird medical stuff–but I also have EDS, among other things, so sometimes that stuff is me. In our library, normal would be “Oh, just a hip subluxation pinching a nerve or something–totally fine, but need to work from my recliner today/didn’t get much sleep/can’t drive on it/want to pop in with pt etc.” I’m pretty sure I’ve called my boss with a “I had something pop in my knee, I need to get the swelling down enough to put on pants before I can come in. Working remotely until lunch-ish”
      We love medical information, though, that’s kind of our whole deal.

      For places where it might be too much, I wasn’t as comfy, or didn’t want to scar coworkers, or just didn’t have the time/energy to explain the weird genetic disorder that my doctors barely understand, I might go with a “Much better, thanks!” Or “just need some rest, see you tomorrow” or “oh it’s just chronic stuff flaring, nothing to worry about”–something true but bland enough that most people wouldn’t have follow up questions.

      1. Anax*

        Oh hey, fellow connective-tissue-disorder person! :)

        I’m getting a formal diagnosis with the geneticist in two weeks, but my rheumatologist and PCP think hEDS is very likely. Thankfully, I moved to the Bay Area about a year ago; the docs back in my home state thought I was faking. -_- Most of my subluxations are pretty minor these days, but man, sometimes I feel like a junker car with parts falling off.

        That makes sense; I’ll share when it seems appropriate, then. My coworkers are awesome and friendly, so we do make quite a bit of small talk.

      2. KoiFeeder*

        At the risk of sounding presumption, your job sounds amazing on paper. You must’ve worked hard for it!

    10. CMart*

      That’s not “TMI” in the squeamish way people usually mean.

      As for just being more detail than is necessary I think it depends on your relationship with your coworkers. Some people legitimately don’t care to know beyond “I’m feeling better now, thanks” but others (me!) would be curious about the nature of what happened so they can be appropriately sympathetic.

      “My hip dislocated and hoo boy did it hurt. I’m better now though.” = wow that sounds awful poor you! + probably no need to follow up as it sounds like a one-off.

      “I rolled my chair into an unsheathed sword sticking out of my neighbor’s cubicle and had to go tend to the flesh wound. I’m still in pain but I’ll be fine in a couple weeks.” = wow, how intense!!! + whose sword was it, do we need to confiscate it?? + checking in with you to see how you’re doing/being sympathetic to you moving slowly to meetings over the next couple weeks.

      “Just a bad allergy flare up. This summer has been brutal.” = oh yeah, allergies are the worst.

    11. sunshyne84*

      It’s not the worse, but hip pain is the most I would share. The details aren’t necessary.

    12. That Girl From Quinn's House*

      I don’t think it’s TMI, but I used to work in fitness where discussing injury/conditions was part of the territory.

      As a coworker, though, one thing I do appreciate is a heads up if something is contagious/not contagious, so I know whether I need to double down on the Lysol wiping and handwashing or not.

    13. Yup, EDS*

      Much sympathy. I dislocated my hip turning over in bed once. Much sympathies but no advice except NSAIDs, Ice packsand perhaps taking a few days off to let the nerve endings calm down. Some times I need a prescription for resultant muscle spasms.

      1. Yup, EDS*

        didn’t read closely enough. Disclosing at work. I DO NOT tell people that I have EDS. I do not want them googling symptoms.
        What I say- I have a rare connective tissue disorder. Had a bad night- working from home today. Had a bad night- will just be in half-day until I can pick of my meds/see a doctor/grab some work then going home. Having trouble walking today…
        That is it.

      2. Anax*

        Yeah, that’s about what I end up doing – it’s a pain in the neck, especially when things spasm or pop out when I’m out and about! I hate feeling tied to the house, but it’s a little scary to go out alone. XP

    14. fhqwhgads*

      I don’t think this one is TMI, but if you want to keep it closer to the vest, I do think it’s fine if you wanted to be a bit more specific to distinguish between taking a sick day due to illness vs a sick day due to injury. You also don’t need to share anything if you don’t feel like it.

    15. It’s All Good*

      EDS is in my family. From sharing info with others, they have been diagnosed with EDS too! I hope you have a pain free week.

  21. New Manager Help*

    How can I address tensions between two staff I inherited?

    Both staff have had complaints that they are unapproachable.

    Some “Sally” examples: “I tried to ask Sally a question as she was leaving and she told me to read the project email” “I tried to get help from Sally, but she put up her finger, kept talking on the phone, then muted it and asked me to email her or come back in an hour after her meeting. I felt really dismissed!”

    Some “Karen” examples: “I was talking to Karen and she walked away letting a door shut in my face” “I didn’t appreciate Karen’s remark at the all hands moral meeting to ‘just do your job and it won’t be an issue’ when I suggested that leadership not send all staff corrective emails.”

    So as you can see, both have personality issues with staff.

    Karen is a self described, not here to make friends type. She is a new assistant clinical manager, promoted 3 years ago. I have seen a lot of improvement from her. I honestly don’t know how I could run the department without her. She is a clinical expert, patients love her, and good nurses are harder and harder to find. She also became adept at our new HR system when she felt Sally was not supporting staff on it enough. She works extremely hard, 60-70 hours a week, but gets overtime. When I give her extra work, she’ll make gruff comments like “whatever, guess I live here now” but she gets the job done and never gives up. As a nurse myself, I know just how valuable and difficult her work is.

    Sally is a non-management tech person, but has some oversight responsibilities that use to belong to Karen. A transfer from our parent company, it was Sally’s business plans and connections that gave us the capital to get the new system. She actually trained me on my budget and financial sheets and there are no personality issues there. Sally is actually sweet once you get to know her, but her direct speaking manner and unfamiliarity with nurse culture can rub people the wrong way. She is salaried and only works 45-50 hours a week but gets a lot done. I don’t know the details, but if she keeps a computer logged in, all of her reports run even if she is on vacation. But when staff mistakenly log her out when she is away, she gets pretty irritated and grumbles about days of extra work. However she does happily take on work I ask of her, and even volunteers to take on tasks that help the team.

    The big trouble started in April. Just as we were about to go live with the HR system, Sally’s appendix burst and she missed launch.

    During this time Karen and her staff really stepped up to pick up Sally’s slack. They never expected to have to handle the technical questions, but did well. Once Sally was back to work however, she found several process gaps and quickly dove in to fix them. It rubbed a lot of the nurse leadership the wrong way who felt Sally, having missed launch, didn’t have a right to tell them what to do.

    I see both sides, Sally was correct and improved our workflows, but she did not consider Karen’s feelings or acknowledge her staffs hard work.

    I’ve tried to bring them together to hash things out, but it always erupts quickly, usually with Karen making a snide remark about Sally’s work ethic, Sally getting defensive and going on about all she does for Karen before Karen blows a fuse and storms off. (Sally did take on a few tasks from Karen and her team, but it is her job now and Karen doesn’t appreciate having it thrown in her face).

    After yet another row, Sally told me that she is fed up and suspects Karen is poisoning the well. She pointed to a pattern of other staff bringing false complaints against her shortly after rows with Karen. I’ve been coaching Karen about not gossiping with staff, but Sally has no proof and I don’t think Karen is complaining about her to staff as much as Sally thinks. I also get tired of Sally coming to me the next day after these rows to point out her perspective on them. I wish she could be less sensitive and let it go like Karen.

    In the end I need them both in my department. How can I address this Karen and Sally problem?

    1. C*

      Sally doesn’t seem like a problem; her coworkers do. Maybe this is me not being familiar with work culture, but directing people to an email when she’s on her way out the door and paying attention to her phone conversation more than the person trying to interrupt her seems…good on her, not a great look for the people interrupting her. And “only” working 45-50 hours?

      And “slack” when Sally was out with a burst appendix? That’s an interesting choice of words, there. It sounds like Sally could use some coaching on soft skills and maybe being made aware of how much work others did while she was out on medical leave, but it doesn’t sound to me like she’s done anything except ruffle some feathers of people who felt like she needed to fawn over them a bit more when she got back, when she was most likely just focused on getting everything fixed as soon as possible.

      As for Karen, I’d find a way to maybe give her less work. 60-70 hours is a lot, even when you get paid for it, and she’s going to burn out. Sounds like she already is. She really has no right to criticize someone for not working as excessively as she does, particularly when they themselves don’t get paid extra for the privilege, so I would shut that kind of talk down.

      Really, it sounds to me like y’all are overworked, and it’s spilling over, and if you can advocate for more staff, I would do that, but it sounds like everyone has pretty unrealistic expectations for Sally to do all the things and be Miss Mary Sunshine, which kind of rubs me the wrong way (but I confess I identify with Sally in this regard, so take it for what it’s worth).

      1. MusicWithRocksInIt*

        I agree with all of this – I don’t see a single thing Sally did wrong. A lot of her answers look like something Ask A Manager would tell her to do if coworkers were always bothering her when she was on the phone or on her way out the door. Also – something needs to be really urgent to bother someone as they are walking out of work, and if the answer is in an email they already have then it is not only not urgent but RUDE.

      2. Bunny Girl*

        That was my read on it too. I’d like to think of myself as generally pretty helpful, but if someone asks for my help when I’m on my way out the door or I’m in the middle of a phone call, then yes I probably wouldn’t respond the same way. I do think more staff might be helpful. I know that’s really hard to justify sometimes but even some part time help might go a long way.

        1. peanutbutty*

          Am grateful to the replies saying the Sally examples seems perfectly reasonable, as that is exactly how I would respond in those situations and reading the post I was starting to second-guess myself and whether everyone secretly hated me ;-)

        1. Fortitude Jones*

          Right. A regular work week for a full-time position is 40 hours. 45-50 is a lot. The only time I worked that much was when I was a claims adjuster during hurricane season.

      3. SoGladIt'sFriday*

        +1 on this. Sally’s responses to rude coworkers are reasonable. Karen sounds high maintenance, probably because she’s burned out from working too much. Your whole department sounds pretty miserable and needs a reboot.

      4. Jules the 3rd*

        Yeah, maybe we’re all missing something from ‘nurse culture’, but Sally’s behavior is ‘normal professional’. You may have the opportunity to set some culture tone here in a constructive way. Maybe set up an ‘available / not available’ signal on your door, and encourage Sally to do the same, and then encourage other employees to respect that? Prioritize emails for Sally?

        I know budgets are tight on hospitals and it’s hard to find nurses, but see if there’s any way to lighten Karen’s load, and make sure your bosses give her cash bonuses and actual vacation time, or she’s going to burn out.

        1. zora*

          But, I think the context is important here. Yes, Sally is being direct and what lots of people would do when being approached while on the phone.
          BUT, she is brought is as kind of an ‘outsider’ to the nurse team (not a nurse, a tech person) AND handling process improvements, which can be frustrating in any job, but especially a high-pressure, fast-paced job like nursing. It is reasonable to have part of her job be smoothing ruffled feathers, and acknowledging that sometimes this is hard and it sucks, but she really is trying to do her best for them.

          We just went through a huge tech migration at work, and the thing that is making people the most frustrated is that none of the emails from IT or management are acknowledging that some of us really did have major technical problems that made it impossible for us to do work for multiple days. We understand it had to happen regardless, but the emails are really dismissive and people are angry that we are being treated like we are just whining, and not that we had actual valid complaints.

          1. sum of two normal distributions*

            “A transfer from our parent company, it was Sally’s business plans and connections that gave us the capital to get the new system.”

            Without Sally, they wouldn’t have the system. This system, if Sally is spearheading it, has little to do with nursing itself then and it’s good Sally is fixing it up after noticing problems, esp if people are expected to use it efficiently. Not to be rude, but these people are hiding behind “we’re nurses” to be a clique and act childish. This has nothing to do with nursing as a field.

            Re: your example with the tech migration at your company. I am not in tech but you have to understand those tech people were getting a lot of emails about this migration. A migration that the people you are emailing probably had little to do with. Are you certain their response was dismissive or combined with your frustration came off as dismissive? They can’t fix your issue immediately, they themselves have to navigate the new software, and they have bosses mad that the rollout isn’t perfect (they aren’t always) – it’s not that you complaint isn’t valid, it’s that they got it many times and are fed up. Is it ok? No, but that’s what I would get from it.

      5. Box of Kittens*

        Yes to all of this! And FWIW, you’d think nurses, of all people, would be sympathetic to why Sally was out. It’s not like she went on vacation; her appendix burst!

        1. Librarian of SHIELD*

          Right? That’s what I can’t wrap my mind around. “Well, we covered for you while you were having an extremely painful and terrifying medical emergency, so now we get to make false complaints about your work ethic and spread rumors about you behind your back, and you’re not allowed to complain” is not a good look.

        2. zora*

          Unfortunately, it’s a common problem for healthcare to have a bad culture around being out for medical reasons. There is lots of pressure to work when sick, so people don’t always have the best habits around work/life balance, and even medical emergencies can get minimized.

        3. ..Kat..*

          My guess is the nurses wanted to be thanked for their extra work before being told what they did wrong. (I am guessing Sally didn’t say thank you based on LW’s description of her.) If these are bedside nurses, they did not have the time to take on any of Sally’s work – much less a massive launch. As a bedside ICU nurse myself, I can tell you that I am on my feet all day, often don’t get breaks and/or lunches. And, if these are bedside nurses, they are used to people expecting them to allow their phone calls to be interrupted (when I am on the phone, it is very common to have a physician or nurse walk up to me and start talking at me – and expect me to deal with it).

          This is in response to Jules the 3rd’s comment on nursing culture.

          Also, I am really surprised that the launch was not delayed if they were having nurses pick up tech work.

    2. Peacock*

      Some “Sally” examples: “I tried to ask Sally a question as she was leaving and she told me to read the project email” “I tried to get help from Sally, but she put up her finger, kept talking on the phone, then muted it and asked me to email her or come back in an hour after her meeting. I felt really dismissed!”

      I don’t know if I’ve misread your explanation, but this is not unreasonable behaviour on Sally’s part. It’s the question asker who is being unreasonable in asking Sally a work related question when she is clearly on her way out of the office and has presumably turned off her computer. It’s the person interrupting Sally’s phone call who is being unreasonable, it’s really rude to interrupt someone on a phone call, and holding a finger up is a perfectly acceptable non-verbal way of saying “wait” when you can’t talk. Sally is not at fault in either of these examples.

      Karen, on the other hand, sounds like an unprofessional asshole.

      1. Ali G*

        Agree – if that is the extent of the complaints about Sally, you need to shut that down. Those are completely reasonable responses in Sally’s position. If I were Sally, I would feel pretty unsupportive. My bet is you don’t intend you actions to be taken that way.

    3. ICantThinkOfACoolNameToday*

      Based on the examples you gave with complaints against Sally, I’d say you have a Karen problem. Karen jumped on her when she was leaving and she’d already given the answer in an email. Unless she said it in a snotty fashion, Sally’s response was fine. The second one is even worse – unless there is something unique about your environment, it’s super, super rude to interrupt someone on the phone, presumably in a meeting, and expect instant help. And the attitude about Sally “missing the launch” — because she had a burst appendix??? WTF? She can’t help it! It’s not like she was on vacation. And it sounds like even if she wasn’t there at launch, she did a ton of work and planning to make it a success. I’d think differently if the errors she found were nit picks, but it sounds like she found real issues. Why are they giving her attitude? I think you’ve imbibed so much of the current office culture that you don’t see that it’s really toxic. From your own example, Karen starts the crap with snide remarks about Sally’s work ethic — she’s not entering into these “hash it out” meetings in good faith, and you should shut that down. Immediately! I’m feeling super bad for Sally right now. . .

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        I didn’t read those complaints as Karen talking about Sally or Sally talking about Karen, I read them as other employees complaining about both Karen and Sally. But I agree, I don’t think it’s a Sally problem.

        1. Librarian of SHIELD*

          With the context given later in the story, I assumed it was Karen’s social group complaining about Sally out of an unhealthy overabundance of loyalty to Karen. I’d be happy to be wrong about that, but that’s how I read it.

    4. Friday Funsies*

      I’m truly having a hard time seeing what Sally did wrong here. If someone interrupted me while I was on the phone, I would also ask them to come back later or refer them to a place where they could get the answers they need. You admitted that Karen has made unkind comments about Sally in your presence (which leads to an unproductive conversation), so it’s not particularly hard to believe that Karen would gossip when you’re not there. She’s coming to you for help because speaking one-on-one with Karen only leads to being insulted, and you seem to be dismissing her claims entirely. And who can blame Sally for missing work for a medical condition that literally would have killed her if left untreated? I must not be understanding the situation, because no where does Sally appear to have misstepped.

      I understand that Sally may not fit with the typical nurse culture of your workplace. However, do you think there may be any truth to her complaints?

    5. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      They both seem overworked and stressed out, these are classic behaviors for people on a tight schedule!

      This is healthcare and long hours and stress is a given, so yeah I kind of snorted at the idea of cutting anyone’s hours back, that doesn’t happen when you’re in healthcare.

      They need to be told that this is a personality conflict and you appreciate that they’re different but that there’s nothing that’s happening that needs to “change”. You may lose one or both in the end no matter what you do, honestly. That’s the rub here. Most clinical staff end up in this position.

    6. MattersSeen*

      The reasons you listed for Sally being hard to work with aren’t actual reasons. Karen sounds like she is causing the issues. Karen obviously isn’t letting it go. She stormed out in a meeting. She rudely interrupts Sally and is making Sally the object of office gossip. Why should Sally care about Karen’s feelings by doing her normal job? And how if stating facts “throwing” it into Karen’s face? It sounds incredibly bias on your part.

    7. CatCat*

      I think you have a Karen problem and a problem potentially with her associates. The description sounds like Sally is doing her job and having reasonable professional boundaries while Karen is pushing her buttons, gossiping, and just being rude. Stop trying to bring them together to “hash it out.” Also, Sally pointed out a pattern of false complaints after being in a dispute with Karen? Well… are they false complaints and is there a pattern? Also, when Sally came back, people didn’t want her to tell them what to do with the system she is in charge of? How did you address that?

      If Karen is toxic, but you value her more than Sally, recognize that Sally may end up leaving because of this.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        I agree. Sally is not a problem here. Especially if the complaints against Sally are “I interrupted Sally on her way out and she didn’t drop everything to give me an answer personally that was already in my email” and “I interrupted Sally while she was clearly on the phone and she didn’t immediately prioritize me over her phone conversation.” Those sound… just so petty.

        Karen has too much work. Maybe she’s managing to do a good job for the time being but 60-70 hours is unsustainable in the long term – I know that’s industry-specific and the expected culture for health care, but it’s objectively bad for anyone’s personal health and performance. Maybe that’s causing her to be a short-tempered jerk and maybe not, but it should change regardless. And so should expectations of Karen’s treatment of others.

        1. Fortitude Jones*

          It’s probably a combination of her workload and her former job responsibilities being offloaded to Sally, a non-nurse. This entire thing sounds like pure, unadulterated jealousy on Karen’s part, and she’s leading the Means Girls crew against Sally. If I were Sally, I’d find a new job because management is seeing the negative behavior exhibited by Karen (her endless sniping at Sally and low blows about work ethics) and is doing nothing about it. OP is allowing workplace bullying to go unchecked – I wouldn’t stay somewhere I didn’t feel supported.

          1. tangerineRose*

            I’d also be looking for a job that wanted 40 good hours instead of thinking that 50 hours wasn’t much.

            Also, what did you expect Sally to do when she is on the phone, in a meeting and is being interrupted? Should she hang up on the meeting? Should she mute it and answer the interrupter and hope she doesn’t miss anything important in the meeting? Should she ask the others in the meeting to stop while she talks to the interrupter? OK, I might have told someone to IM me, and I’d try to get back to them, but that’s partially because most of the meetings I’ve been in have a bunch of wasted time.

            1. tangerineRose*

              Plus, if I were out with a medical emergency, I’d expect my co-workers not to act like I was off loafing.

      2. Librarian of SHIELD*

        I agree. No more “hash it out” meetings. Tell Karen that you expect her to behave civilly and respectfully in the workplace. She doesn’t have to like all of her coworkers, but she does need to treat them all with basic levels of respect.

        And apologize to Sally for not taking her concerns seriously. She needs to know she can come to you when her coworkers are treating her as poorly as they have been.

    8. LCL*

      Karen has too much work and she is mostly at fault here. But her reactions are understandable. She’s working 60-70 hours per week and gets sh&* done. Anything that slows her down and interferes with that she won’t tolerate. KAREN IS USING THE METHODS THAT HAVE WORKED TO DATE. If you want things to get better, take a hard look at her duties and work with her to come up with a plan to delegate some things. If you want things to get worse, make an executive decision and reassign some of her work now and tell her she’s not allowed any more overtime, except working the floor/direct patient care.

    9. Antilles*

      Fair warning: You’re not going to like this breakdown. I’m going to point out things that jumped out at me:
      1.) As others have mentioned, your examples of Sally’s behavior both seem perfectly fine. C and Peacock covered this very well, so I’m not going to rehash their comments, but they’re both right; Sally is not the issue.
      2.) I take issue with you using the phrase that Sally “only” works 45-50 hours a week. If she’s salaried, by definition, you’re paying for around 40 hours a week. Okay, fine most companies 40 is not exactly 40, but if your staffing is such that working 45-50 hours a week is worth of “only” (and other employees complaining about ‘work ethic’), then you’re understaffed.
      3.) Sally running her reports on vacation actually isn’t a good thing. Your procedures should be set up in a way that allow people to take real vacations. You should be able to tell Sally that she doesn’t need to run reports while on vacation and Sally should be able to 100% trust that she can do that and not return to a building on fire. If that’s not the case, then you-the-manager need to figure out why and fix that issue.
      4.) The phrase “pick up slack” almost implies that Sally left the team in a bad spot by having a medical emergency. I know you might not have meant it that way, but that’s a really poor choice of words and one that would likely infuritate Sally if you used that sort of phrasing.
      5.) As for the nurse leadership being mad about Sally coming in and fixing the problem, that’s also off-base. The fact that your staff’s response was to shoot the messenger rather than listen to the message is pretty bad. It’s also worrisome that Sally came in days/weeks afterwards and almost immediately found some flaws in the system that nobody else caught.
      6.) In your description of the meetings, you say that “Karen makes a snide remark about Sally’s work ethic, then Sally gets defensive”. This is because you’re leaving Sally to fend for herself and not telling Karen to cut it out with the personal attacks. If Karen has a legitimate work reason about why Sally’s work is not sufficient, that’s one thing, but this sounds more like just a generic “well, if only Sally worked harder…” with no real backup.
      7.) You say “I don’t think Karen is complaining about her to staff as much as Sally thinks”. This sounds like you agree that Karen is complaining some. There is no acceptable level of sniping at other co-workers. I don’t understand what you mean when you say “coaching”, but there’s no real “coaching” involved here, just a straightforward “this is not acceptable, you will cut this crap out, now.”

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        3) Sally’s probably got automatic scripts running on her computer to run the reports. As an IT person, she should have a computer that no one else is touching.
        1, 2, 4, 5: Yes. All this, 100%
        6: I missed that in first read, yeah, ok, OP has a Karen problem, but it’s because Karen’s working 60hrs / week vs Sally’s 45. Karen’s position is not reasonable, and OP needs to shut it down NOW. Soothe Karen’s feathers with bonuses and real actual time off, and try to offload work. Ask around if there’s anything that the Nurse Assistants (NAs) can take over.

        Also, based on my friend the hospital nurse (MFtN), check whether your NAs are pulling their weight. MFtN says that their hospital doesn’t manage the NAs well (fear of shortage) which bubbles up to extra work and stress for the nurses. Adding in 1 – 2 effective NAs might be an inexpensive way to reduce Karen’s workload.

        1. ..Kat..*

          Karen is a clinical manager. Nurse assistants do bedside/patient duties. They would not be available to reduce Karen’s work load.

          1. Jules the 3rd*

            Karen’s an assistant CM, and seems to be patient-facing (“patients love her”). If they can use NAs to free up RNs, the RNs might be able to do some paperwork or patient support that’s been shuffled onto Karen. New Manager needs to stop adding to Karen’s workload and actively hunt for ways to reduce it, even if that requires giving tasks to people who won’t do them as perfectly as Karen does.

            Only New Manager can know what Karen’s being asked to do, but sometimes looking at the really big picture can help with solutions.

      2. Librarian*

        I don’t think Sally is working while she’s on vacation. It sounds like Sally logs into a computer before she goes on vacation and she has some kind of automated script or program associated with her user account that runs on a schedule whether she’s there or not. The problem Sally has is that if someone signs her out of that computer, the scheduled jobs don’t run and she has to manually retrieve all the data and information to produce back-dated reports when she comes back from vacation. This could set her behind schedule for days.

        If these automated reports are a huge deal and essential, then I’d designate a computer in a locked office (maybe in the manager’s office) for Sally to log into before she goes on vacation to ensure the reports always run as scheduled.

    10. LadyByTheLake*

      One more “you have a Karen and others problem, not a Sally problem” comment. It’s pretty clear that your problem is Karen and it does sound like Karen is stirring the pot. I’m not seeing any issues with Sally, so maybe it would be a good idea to reflect on why you are seeing it as a mutual problem rather than a Karen issue.

      1. zora*

        OP did mention that when Sally came back from her medical emergency “she did not consider Karen’s feelings or acknowledge her staffs hard work.”
        This is a valid complaint. Of course it’s not her fault that her appendix burst, but in general, she is coming in as an “outsider” (a tech role from the parent company, not a nurse) and it’s understandable that that would cause some friction and frustration from the team of nurses. It is reasonable to ask her to work a little harder and smoothing things over, showing appreciation and acknowledging that asking people to change things in a very difficult, high-pressure job, is sometimes a pain.

        1. MusicWithRocksInIt*

          “Once Sally was back to work however, she found several process gaps and quickly dove in to fix them. It rubbed a lot of the nurse leadership the wrong way who felt Sally, having missed launch, didn’t have a right to tell them what to do.”

          If I found some process gaps and fixed them, and my coworks felt that I didn’t have the right to fix actual problems that they missed because I had a medical emergency? No, I am not gonna tiptoe though the tulips with Karen’s feelings. It sounds like she’s not acknowledging their hard work because she got back, some things were wrong, she fixed them and people are saying she’s not allowed to?

          It’s not ok to label someone in your team as ‘other’ just because they have a different role or training than you do, or to make them an outsider who has to work twice as hard. ‘You need to be super extra nice to people who are mean to you and treat you differently’ is not ok to ask someone.

          1. zora*

            But she’s the technical person, the OP said that other people jumped in on something they weren’t necessarily expecting or trained to do. So, it’s expected that she would come back and find some things that weren’t ideal and had to be fixed. It’s not “ok” for people to treat someone differnetly because they are an outsider, but it happens in some professions where there are different backgrounds/cultures, and hospitals/nursing is one of those.

            I’m not saying that Karen and the others don’t ALSO need to be talked to about cutting it out, and treating Sally with respect. But I think Sally also has to realize that part of her job is going to be overcoming her outsider status and showing the nurses she does respect them and appreciate how hard their jobs are.

            1. Librarian of SHIELD*

              This is BS. It just is.

              Yes, Sally comes from a different educational background. She’s not a nurse. But it’s not her job to do any nursing. She is a technician, and her job is to do the technical things. It’s ridiculous for a group of nurses to resent their coworker for having the appropriate training for her job duties.

              And as for not thanking them properly when she came back, medical emergencies are stressful. Coming back to work after missing something important that you didn’t expect to miss is stressful. Finding out that things weren’t working properly on top of that would also be stressful. Should Sally have thanked the team for stepping up and trying? Yeah, she should have. But does her failure to thank them as effusively as they would have liked give them license to treat her the way they’ve been treating her? Absolutely not.

              1. Bostonian*

                I wouldn’t even go that far. I f I had a medical emergency, the last thing on my mind coming back to work would be other people’s feelings about it.

            2. tangerineRose*

              “But I think Sally also has to realize that part of her job is going to be overcoming her outsider status” Um, no. If Sally is treated like that, she’s probably going to find somewhere else to work. Is there some initiation process required to work with nurses? Why? I get that working as a nurse is a very tough job, but that doesn’t give them the right to be mean to Sally.

            3. sum of two normal distributions*

              “But I think Sally also has to realize that part of her job is going to be overcoming her outsider status and showing the nurses she does respect them and appreciate how hard their jobs are.”

              This is patently false. It’s not Sally’s job at all to make her colleagues (and they are her colleagues despite her not being a nurse and them not being tech people) treat her as part of the team. Karen ultimately has a case of the hurt feelings and there are probably reasons related to her 70 hr work weeks that explain why she’s acting the way she is. All hospitals have service culture guidelines that explicitly state we all have to work towards the mission of the hospital and how to act around each other and patients. The problem in hospitals, esp extra dysfunctional ones, is this very high-school clique mentality and “well, I am X job so I only respect X people.” It’s very dangerous in a patient care context.

            4. Avasarala*

              Do nurses really need appreciation from the tech person in order to do their jobs and behave professionally? Because that sounds like the nurses are motivated by feelings not duty and that’s not in line with what I’ve heard about nurses. Do they also need to be appreciated by the cleaning staff, and by the building maintenance staff and the security guard and everyone else who does a different job than them?

              And do you think the nurses need to show Sally that they respect HER and appreciate how hard HER job is?

        2. tamarack and fireweed*

          It sounds to me that Sally’s return to work was mismanaged.

          The manager, possibly the OP, didn’t recognize that Sally would be in a very complicated position, given that she had to miss an important launch and other people stepped up to get a piece of work out that would have been Sally’s responsibility. She probably felt that she was “behind” and/or that her authority was in jeopardy, and for both reasons (or either reason) scrambled to get on top of the situation. She may have prioritized the “getting the process under control” task over the “demonstrating my appreciation that the co-workers took this on on short notice” task, true, but at the same time it seems like the co-workers were not willing to hand control of the process back to Sally either. The whole thing sounds, as others have noted, like (Karen and?) the co-workers expect a whole lot of submission and obsequiousness from Sally.

          I also agree that the “Sally examples” sound like normal professional behavior and the “Karen examples” like a dismissive asshole. Also, KAREN SHOULD NOT BE MAKING SNIDE REMARKS. (Also, nothing you wrote sounds like there is the slightest problem with Sally’s work ethic, and even if there were, it’s highly unprofessional to remark on. If I overheard a co-worker make snide remarks about another co-worker’s work ethic — which I normally have no very clear insight into — a red flag would go up re: toxic culture.)

          I can understand that you’re fed up that Sally comes to you “after a row”, but rows should not be happening in the first place.

        3. JamieS*

          We have no idea if Sally considered their feelings or not. OP wrote an incredibly biased post against Sally where OP tried to make it seem like Sally’s reasonable and professional actions were as unreasonable as Karen’s unreasonable and unprofessional actions, implied Sally was lazy for having a medical emergency, and praised Karen for “letting things go” despite the fact Karen is causing the problems in the first place and isn’t letting it go at all while also minimizing accusations of workplace bullying.

          Considering that everything OP says has to be taken with a shaker full of salt. Was Sally rude and ungrateful or was she just not “thankful enough”. Based on OP’s post I wouldn’t be at all surprised if she just wasn’t “thankful enough”.

    11. Sarah C*

      You don’t have a Sally problem. You have a Karen problem, and how you address it is by managing her. Set boundaries and expectations, communicate these clearly and unequivocally to Karen, and hold her accountable.

      Frankly I’m not at all surprised that Sally is fed up. If I was her I’d be job hunting. This situation is untenable.

    12. zora*

      Hmm, I’m not sure I agree with other commenters that this is just a “Karen problem”. I think Sally is in a tough position that is not of her own making that she was kind of brought in as an outsider to fix things, and she’s not a nurse. But, I think it’s possible she could try a little harder to be appreciative and acknowledge others’ efforts and smooth things over, since she is in an oversight position. That’s something that people need to sometimes do in that kind of position.

      So, I would talk to each of them individually (not together, I think that is always awkward and weird) about how you understand they have different working styles and different strengths. And that is hard sometimes. But that both of them are super valuable to the department (basically all the stuf fyou said here) and that you don’t need them to be friends, but you DO need them to be polite with each other, work well together, and not talk to other staff behind each others’ back. Then Alison’s thing “Is that something you can do?”. And then you might need some ongoing coaching for a while of “That grumbling in today’s meeting is what I”m talking about. I understand this is high pressure and frustrating, but I need you to come to me to discuss those frustrations in private, not say that in front of all other staff in that meeting.”

      I do NOT believe in forced apologies, where you say “Go tell Sally you are sorry” that is not appropriate for adults, and I’ve seen managers push that on people which is awful. But this is something you have standing to ask people, they don’t have to like the other person, but they do need to be polite. And Sally could do better at saying thank you and appreciating the work the others are putting in, even when she is working to improve things. That is a reasonable expectation of someone in the job of process improvement, is to smooth ruffled feathers a little bit as part of the process.

      All of that said: I do think Karen is working a lot and possibly heading toward burnout, so I’d also make sure you have some best practices in place for health-care burnout. I realize cutting her hours is difficult, but there are other practices out there, like regular counseling, regular vacation hours/being totally off line for certain amounts of time, regular breaks during the day, etc.

      Also, just want to follow up with: I have worked places where two people had lots of tension due to a bad situation, and with some steady work like this from the management above them, were able to move past it and build a better relationship of respect. But it took some commitment from their management that this was a requirement and not optional.

    13. Decima Dewey*

      If all Sally’s reports run as long as she leaves a computer logged in, why are her coworkers mistakenly logging her out when she’s away?

      And grumbling because Sally wasn’t there for launch *because of a medical emergency*?

      1. tamarack and fireweed*

        That is another thing. If Sally has set up reports to run automatically (great job!) but has to use a system that can easily be accidentally kicked over by someone logging her out, then she isn’t being given the appropriate work tools, computing infrastructure etc. Automated reports should be run on a system that at the very minimum would only fall over if someone pulls a plug – not some shared thing that others can log each other out. As a sometimes computing professional, it would frustrate me to no end.

    14. Dasein9*

      Overworked employees are unhappy employees. It’s really quite unreasonable to expect professional behavior out of any human being for more than 50 hours or so a week. Brains and emotions need down time. When they don’t get it, then professionalism slips. It sounds like this has been going on with your staff for a while now.

    15. Not So NewReader*

      I agree that you have a Karen problem.
      Please lighten up on Sally about “letting it go like Karen” because Karen is not letting go and I suspect Karen is a workplace bully. Sally has a huge problem.

      I would cut Karen’s hours down first. If she is paid for a 40 hour week then she needs to figure out how to delegate her work so she is at the 40 hour level. The hardest worker in the world negates their value if they contribute to toxicity of the workplace. If you think of it as Karen works hard so she can buy her right to rule the roost, then you can see the manipulation that is happening here. You are the boss, not Karen.

      Indeed, people who put in too many hours tend to think that they actually own the business. At some point it stops being a group endeavor and starts being their personal project that just happens to involve other people.
      If you want to get Karen to tone it down then send her home.

      You can also tell Sally that you expect her to keep her hours at 40 hours per week also. Sally probably is ready for time away from drama-mongering Karen.

      Karen is very good at finding reasons not to get along with Sally. You can inform her that part of what she is compensated for is her willingness to get along with other people. You can say since you seem to be unable to help her toward that goal, then she must go on her own and find ways to get along better with Sally.
      You say you are coaching Karen. Insist on homework, tell her at her next coaching session she must develop and bring in several things she will do to build a better working relationship with Sally. (Here, since Karen refuses to accept your ideas, throw the entire ball in her court and tell her that she must come up with stuff on her own.)

      Take a look at your staffing levels. Perhaps Sally can have a part-time assistant. Perhaps Karen has enough work in her department to hire another full timer.

      For backstabbing/gossiping what I did was tell the group that if someone is routinely backstabbing someone else I DO eventually hear about it. (This was true, someone was always eager to tell me about it.) Since gossiping and backstabbing undermine the group effort and therefore detract from company goals, gossiping and backstabbing cannot be tolerated from ANYONE.
      [It’s a good idea to make sure you are walking the talk here, yourself. Your words will be taken more seriously if you are role modeling this behavior.]

      But in your story here, I see the number one thing as getting Karen’s hours reduced. I have heard of and seen supervisors like this. What they are doing is making sure their pockets are lined with money (all that OT). They create a lot of drama to make it seem like the place is out of control and you oh-so-need-them-very-much as they are your savior. This is all BS.
      Send her home and don’t be surprised if the work still gets done. She is actually creating more work in addition to the existing work.

    16. sum of two normal distributions*

      As someone who works in healthcare and at a hospital, your use of “nursing leadership” and ” unfamiliarity with nurse culture” makes me pause. I have a feeling your diminishing language in reference to Sally, who, by your own description, seems like she is getting her job done right, makes me think some politics are at play.

      Sally is your tech person & she is doing her job – it’s the nurses that seem to be the problem in this situation. Others are saying you have a Karen problem* but I think it’s bigger and extends to your whole leadership staff. If you have some “nurse culture” things you want her to know so that she can gel better with your staff – then that’s a soft skill you need to coach her on.

      * You do – her attitude is poor but I imagine the poor lady is overworked! As someone who put in 70hr weeks before, you would have to pry work I had no time for out of my dead, cold hands (despite paradoxically also being tired as hell and wishing someone would help me). Anytime someone was brought in to help, I couldn’t help but feel slighted that they thought I couldn’t do it. When you work like that, you don’t think clearly and you become a control freak/very territorial. It’s alienating and not a great road for Karen to be on. I would seriously consider encouraging her to take some time off and get some more work off her plate. This is also best for Sally, who you run the risk of burning out with not only her work but all this interpersonal drama (which can be very exhausting).

    17. What’s with Today, today?*

      ”She also became adept at our new HR system when she felt Sally was not supporting staff on it enough.”

      Please tell me this wasn’t during Sally’s life threatening medical emergency?

    18. Qwerty*

      Karen is toxic and the culture on this team is putting patients at risk.

      When Karen is mad at Sally, the staff start making false complaints about Sally. This is a *huge* integrity problem for people in charge of healthcare! They are lying and covering for each other – how can you trust anything they have to say about a patient or their care?

      Sally keeps coming to your with her perspective as an attempt to stand up for herself, because you clearly do not have her back. You let her get bullied and praise the bully for “letting it go”.

      I am so aghast at your role in this situation and the views you have on these two employees (from the word choice in your description, such implying someone with a burst appendix is slacking) that I can’t even itemize all the things wrong here. You are failing as a manager and from how you describe the situation and wanting someone “to be less sensitive” when people are filing *false complaints* about her indicates that you should not be managing people.

    19. ..Kat..*

      I used to be in tech. Now I am a bedside nurse. It sounds as if you have bad feelings on both sides that have been going on for years and are very entrenched.

      One thing most people commenting here don’t seem to get: it is not uncommon for tech people to not understand what nurses do, come up with technology to be used by nurses, and have that technology be completely wrong for what nurses do. The nurses get upset with tech because tech did not ask for nursing input, did not listen to nursing input, and insists that the nurses don’t know how to do their nursing. I see this happen a lot.

      1. zora*

        Yes, this is exactly what I was trying to get at, but you are saying it much more clearly.

        I think Karen needs to be spoken to and needs to stop being publicly rude to Sally, but ALSO, Sally and the OP need to make sure the nurses are feeling heard about their actual work needs as well as being appreciated for going above and beyond when Sally was out. Both Sally and Karen need coaching on soft skills, and clearer boundaries about what actions are unacceptable.

  22. Roscoe*

    This question is really specific for people in sales.

    I’ve been at my current sales job a little over a year. Like many sales jobs, my first year wasn’t exactly great. I hit quote some months, but probably missed it more often. That said, I did start to pick up when I got close to my anniversary and have been pretty consistently hitting my numbers since. I was never offered a raise in base salary. Is it off base to bring that up knowing that for a good portion of my first year I wasn’t hitting my numbers? I wasn’t a “bad” employee, just building my book of business.

    1. T. Boone Pickens*

      What does your salary review process look like in your current role? You indicated that you’ve been hitting your numbers more recently, over the past 6 months have you been at quota? Or, if you’ve been exceeding quota, how much over have you been?

      I agree that the first year can be tricky if you’re building a book of business. If you’ve already passed through your annual review and aren’t due for a discussion for another year I think you can approach your boss assuming that you’re starting to exceed quota in say 3 months or so. You’d have to do some deal forecasting on your end and keep a robust pipeline of course. I’m assuming your boss is like most typical sales managers in that you’re going to need to provide some data to back up your claims. He/she may also be looking at your daily sales activities so make sure you’re keeping up with that and documenting everything in your CRM (if required).

    2. MoopySwarpet*

      We’re small, so not handling a huge sales staff, but if a sales person is not hitting their goals consistently, they do not get a base raise. We also only offer raises once per year unless there are extenuating circumstances. In your case, we would probably agree to a mid-year review.

      That said, I think once you’ve been hitting your numbers and/or increasing for 6+ months, you could ask about it.

      Part of it depends on how your company handles sales salary, too. Do other sales people get regular base raises? How often? What is the criteria for receiving them? If you don’t know, you probably could ask management those questions without seeming like you’re asking outright for a raise they might feel like you haven’t earned (yet).

  23. GigglyPuff*

    As soon as I recolored my old bleach streak with an awesome cerulean color, I got a second interview after I thought I bombed the phone interview.

    Isn’t that the way it always goes?

    1. Moray*

      It’s sort of like how it always rains right after you wash your car. Good luck with the interview!

  24. BeanCat*

    Ooooh. I’m stuck revving my wheels right now. I have to have surgery again, which means I need to get in touch with HR about FMLA and short term disability…but my doctor hasn’t scheduled a date yet and nobody is returning my calls. On the work end of things, I’ll need to have someone cover my job for those two weeks, so I’ll likely have to train someone unless the person who’s familiar and comfortable with it is available. There’s so many balls in the air right now, but I feel like I threw them all and then suddenly found out they’re filled with helium because they won’t come back down.

    Sigh. Wish me luck!!

    1. LadyAbhorsen*

      I hate that feeling!! Best of luck with all the helium balls coming back to earth in a sensible and manageable order, and before too soon!

    2. Just me*

      I’d go ahead and give HR a heads up even if you don’t have a date set. I always appreciate when an employee lets me know they have something on the horizon. As for the doctor, I always say nothing is as urgent to the doctor as it is to the patient!

      Good luck.

      1. BeanCat*

        Oh, sorry, I wasn’t clear – I completely forgot to mention I did speak to them and was clear I don’t have a date yet. They were appreciative, I just hate not having answers for them!

        Thank you!

    3. Mimmy*

      “helium balls” – I am totally stealing this! I know how that feels.

      I can understand feeling frustrated that you don’t have answers for HR and I’m glad they understand. You can’t control the doctors’ lack of a timely response.

      1. BeanCat*

        Hahaha! I’m happy it’s not just me. Steal and use away! :)

        The other stressful piece is on a more personal end, but my dad wants to come up and help out while I’m out. But my stepmom has a procedure coming up as well and dad is stressed they’ll overlap. Blargh! Doctor, please call me. But thankfully HR just said “notice is nice, but we’ll make it work whenever it comes up.”

    4. cactus lady*

      I’m currently in the same boat (whyyyy does it take so long to get surgery scheduled?!). Good luck! I hope it goes well.

    5. Mbarr*

      I hope your surgery goes well, and that you get a date soon!

      In the meantime, in case you get a date and don’t have time to train someone, can you start writing a user guide, standard operating procedures, etc?

      1. BeanCat*

        Thank you!

        I actually recently updated our manual! I might ask someone who wouldn’t normally do my job to take a look and see if it’s clear enough. It makes sense to me because I wrote it, but I’m biased with my own writing :) thank you for the suggestion!

    6. Elizabeth West*

      Isn’t that the worst? I feel like I spend half my life waiting for people to call me back.

      Good luck with your surgery!

  25. C*

    tl;dr What are some ways you can phrase asking a candidate why they’re job searching (again) when they’ve had a couple of short stints recently?

    Longer version, we’re going to be interviewing a candidate with good experience, but their job history is a little odd. They had one job for 10+ years, 2-3 jobs for ~1 year, a 10 year stint, then another ~1 year stint, and has been in their current job for 8 months, and applied for our position. Ours would be a step up, it looks like, from their previous jobs (title-wise), but it also seems weird to me that they’re not yet at our level, despite being in the industry this long. So, I want to ask about the recent short stints, in particular, but am not experienced with interviewing, so I’m not sure the best way to phrase the question.

    1. AndersonDarling*

      I’d bring it up just like that, “It looks like you haven’t been at your last 2 jobs long.” and then wait for a response.
      But this doesn’t look very alarming to me. When you have been at a company a long, long time, it may take a few hops to find another company that you can commit to long term. The best colleagues I’ve worked with end up doing this. They go to a new job, realize it isn’t what they are looking for, and since they are rock-starts they can find another job in a few months. But once they find the right one, they settle in for 5+ years.

    2. Natalie*

      I think you’re overthinking this a bit! You really don’t have to dance around the issue or phrase it in a particular way – “[you’ve] had a couple of short stints recently. Why are you job searching again?” is fine.

    3. Aezy*

      If they’ve only been at their current company 8 months then I think you can definitely ask what’s prompted them to look to move on so soon – you might find a totally reasonable explanation (I started job searching at 8 months due to massive layoffs). You can be pretty straight forward about it as well since anyone with that level of experience should be prepared to offer an explanation.

      For the older roles, maybe you could frame it as “how their job history contributes to their suitability for this role?” it might prompt them to offer more detail about the shorter stays, but I wouldn’t see them as a reflag in particular. Probably more of a red flag is that they’re not yet at the level you’d expect them to be at given their time in the industry so I would be probing around their achievements in previous roles and the skills they built up in the shorter stays in particular.

    4. Anonymous Educator*

      I’d actually start with being a bit more open-ended, and ask them to walk through their job history and how they go to where they are now and why they’re looking, and let them give you the narrative. If they’re a bit vague about certain things, you can follow up with clarification questions.

    5. Nice Going Angelica*

      With a pattern of short stints, I like to ask candidates to walk me through their resume so I can see how their career has progressed. Then I ask with each position what caused them to change to the next one.

    6. Zennish*

      Something like “I see your tenure at a couple of jobs was relatively brief, can you tell me about those?” is totally fine. It may not be a huge issue. It’s obvious that they can hold a job long-term, so they may just be a little pickier than usual about finding the right fit, or perhaps it’s an industry with more than a fair share of toxic jobs, or where layoffs are common, etc.

    7. Sleepytime Tea*

      Honestly, this is super common nowadays and not a huge red flag to me. The fact of the matter is that a lot of places don’t offer a lot of advancement or they are seriously lacking when it comes to being competitive with raises, and the only way to move up or get a decent salary increase is to go to another company.

      So if your company is competitive and offers opportunity for advancement, then any employee is more likely to stay for the long haul.

      I’ve been straight up asked by interviewers why it is that my last couple jobs I was only with for a year or two. One was that there was a mass change in management and the department was going in a direction that was no longer in line with my career goals. The other I was happy at but my partner got a job in another state and we were moving. It’s not an uncommon question to ask, and if the reason is that they needed advancement and it wasn’t something offered at that employer, and you know that you aren’t going to be able to offer much in that area, then it might not be a good fit. Of course, if this is a step up, it already has more potential for them to stay for a longer period, and if your company is good about career growth, they are also more likely to stick around.

    8. Kathenus*

      I like the question ‘Briefly describe your (career related) experience and tell us why you took/left various positions or roles.’

    9. The New Wanderer*

      On the second part of your question – that it appears odd that they’re not at the level of your position yet after being in the industry for a while. It’s possible their pattern of work hasn’t allowed them the straightforward progress you’d expect from someone with the equivalent amount of time at a single company. I could easily see this person spending 10 years at the first job, maybe making a move up with the next job but it didn’t work out, then a couple of sideways moves trying to find the right fit, then arriving at the next decade-long position. And maybe that second long term job didn’t allow for upward mobility, so they started looking around again, but the higher you climb, the fewer opportunities are out there, so maybe they settled for lateral moves again.

      Personally, I started at my company with two other people with my experience/degrees. I was promoted once before them by about a year, and then they were both promoted above me 1 and 2 years ago, respectively; meanwhile I spent 18 months out of work after a layoff before restarting here. I am now on track to be promoted next year. There’s not always a clear line between years of experience and title/level.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      I have gone a different direction by saying, “We are looking for someone who is able to stay with us for a while. I see you have two 10 year stints on your resume, so you know what I mean. Having employees stay with us for a while is important to us. Are you interested/able to commit to staying for a bit?”
      When they say yes, you can ask them what appeals to them about the job that makes them think they would be committed to the job for a while.

  26. Wing Leader*

    Is my boss a jerk or am I too sensitive?

    At my job, we get basic health insurance but if we want dental and vision we have to pay extra. Because I just barely make enough to live, I have opted out of dental and vision insurance every year.

    Well, a few weeks ago I learned that I needed a minor dental surgery (of course). Fortunately, I found a fabulous oral surgeon that works with uninsured people and does not charge an arm and a leg, so I was able to pay for it without much hardship thank goodness. I also was able to schedule the surgery on a Friday and use the weekend to recover so I only had to miss one day of work. I was very fortunate with how it all worked out.

    However, when I went to tell my boss that I’d need that Friday off work and why, the first thing she said to me was, “HAHA! Should have gotten dental insurance!”

    Um…okay. My boss is older than my mother, yet she is often very immature. I just didn’t know what to say in that moment, but I felt her comment was really insensitive and uncalled for. Like I said, everything went well for me, but what if it hadn’t?

    I don’t know. I suppose this is pretty minor, but it’s been bugging me.

    1. gecko*

      Can you use it as an opportunity to ask for better/cheaper dental?

      Otherwise–I’d probably let it lie. I think she probably didn’t think about your financial sitch, which is indeed unempathetic but not the wildest mistake for someone to make; I’d just keep this in mind in the future.

    2. Not Me*

      Your boss is a jerk. I see so many managers that respond to health issues like this with something other than “Oh no, I hope everything turns out ok, of course you can have Friday off!!” and it drives me nuts. There’s just a way to be a decent human being and making jokes about people in pain is not one of them.

      1. tangerineRose*

        I agree. The boss sounds like a little kid with this mocking statement. One thing that might work with this type of thing is to say “I wish I could have afforded it.” That may make the boss realize how childish she sounded.

    3. ZSD*

      I agree that your boss’s comment was jerky, but if that’s one of the few poor-taste comments she’s made, I’d let it go.

    4. DietCokeHead*

      It’s bugging you because your boss is a jerk! That’s a really crappy response on her part. I hope your dental surgery went well and I’m glad you were able to find a way to make it work.

    5. Ruth (UK)*

      As an initial aside, it’s interesting that dental and vision is often classes separately! Here in the UK where we have national health care, dental and vision is not included in that! I mean, some oral or eye problems are, but general sight issues / needing glasses etc isn’t.

      On the topic of your question… I think what your boss said was insensitive but it also sounds like something she didn’t think through and maybe just popped out. I can see why it would bug you, but I don’t think it’s big enough to easily address now that the moment’s passed. I think what’s more important is how she treats you generally (and if that’s generally good, it’ll be easier for you to let this go. And if it’s not, then it’s a bigger issue than this one comment I guess…)

      1. londonedit*

        True with opticians, certainly (unless you fall into certain income/age categories and qualify for free eye tests) but I think NHS dental services are subsidised, aren’t they? You have the NHS pricing structure and private fees are way more expensive than that.

        1. JaneB*

          Or have certain eye conditions… (I get NHS eye care, and like dentistry pay a fixed fee since I’m in work, but when I was a student it was free).

          And yes, NHS dentistry is free if you are on certain benefits, pregnant or new mum, a child, in full time education, etc., and if you’re in work there are fixed charges for certain treatments which are WAY below the private rates. WAY below, especially for complex reconstructive work like say crowns or bridges.

          Same system as for medicines – if you’re above a certain income band and not in certain age groups, you pay a set fee per prescription regardless of the cost of the medication.

      2. Bagpuss*

        It down to the negotiations having been different with the different professions, back in 1948 when they brought in the NHS. I think some of it was that with medicine, you have hosptials so doctors were to a much greater degree either already part of a larger organisation, or had been so in the past, whereas opticians and dentists were mostly sole traders or in small partnerships, and didn’t need to be able to refer on to hospitals to the same extent that a GP might.

        But yes, NHS dentists charge fixed fees and are free for children, pregnant women and those on qualifying benefits , and they are much cheaper than private dentists.
        I think for opticians the sight test is free for children, the over 60s, and those with certain medical conditions, as well as those on low incomes, and those groups can also get vouchers towards the cost of glasses or contact lenses, although I’m not sure whether they cover the full cost

    6. Murphy*

      I don’t think there’s anything you could have done/could do to address it, but that was a pretty crappy thing for your boss to say.

    7. Sunday Morning Fever*

      It’s bugging you because your boss was being a jerk. I would take this as a learning experience. Consider what you would have liked to have said in response and then if she does it (or something similar) again, you’ll be prepared.

      “Wow.” Or “that’s quite personal.” Or “if Company offered X maybe I would have that option.”

    8. OneMoreAlison*

      If i was feeling sour I would say “at my current pay rate, I can’t afford dental insurance”. Just completely deadpan/matter of fact.

      Glad you’re getting the care you need, dental stuff is such a pain

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yep, yep, yep.
        I had a boss like this. Say it in a low key tone on a par with “I think it might rain today.” Be matter of fact about it.

        This is a boss who is NOT in your corner. Recognize that. A good boss does not find victory in your losses. Hang on to that thought. A good boss would have said, “I am sorry our dental coverage did not work out for you.” Bonus points if the boss says, “I am aware others had the same problem and I have been advocating for a better plan with Big Boss.”

        When I supervised I would have been embarrassed that our company was unable to help you.

    9. jDC*

      What does you having insurance have to do with you taking a day off? What a butthead. I would’ve said “ha you should pay me a wage that allows that”.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        Yeah, I’m not understanding even the meaning of the wholly inappropriate comment. Is the idea that if one hand dental insurance, one wouldn’t need to take the day off? It’s a horrible remark, but it also doesn’t make any sense.

        1. fhqwhgads*

          I took it just that while requesting the day off, OP mentioned why. And the response was about the “why” (dental surgery) not about the day off.

      2. DAMitsDevon*

        Same here. If anything, I feel like Friday is probably one of the better days to take off, because if you need time outside of the surgery to recover (like in the case of wisdom tooth surgery), you’d be able to do that over the weekend instead of having to potentially take additional days off.

    10. noahwynn*

      Honestly, I don’t keep dental or vision insurance because it is less for me to pay for the two dental cleanings and exams every year and the once yearly vision exam and contacts than it is to pay for the insurance. I just use HSA money so it is pretax and save a bit there as well. Also, generally lucky that I’ve never had a cavity in my adult life much less any other dental issues.

      Her comment would bug me too. How people chose to spend money is a private thing. She (assuming here) knows how much you make so it wouldn’t be a stretch to assume she would understand why you don’t pay for the additional insurance.

    11. Goose Lavel*

      Your boss is a douche. You must have already told her that you could not afford dental coverage prior to asking for Friday off to have your procedure and you got a version of “I told you so”.

      Time pick you battles and this one is already lost. Don’t expect any sympathy going forward.

    12. Huh*

      But you would have probably selected a reasonably priced dentist/oral surgeon and needed the time off for the surgery and recovery even if you had dental insurance… so I am not really seeing the boss’ point. So yes this is just your boss being weird.

    13. Zennish*

      My first thought was “HAHA! Should have paid me enough to afford it!” but actually saying that would probably be counterproductive.

    14. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Your boss isn’t just a childish jerk, she’s asinine.

      You had to take the day off and she has NO IDEA what you’re paying. Which in my estimation, is probably less in the end than what your insurance would have cost you. Dental insurance is a scam for the most part. You’re only covered for $2000 worth of “insured work” for the good plan that we have. And they’ll still nickle and dime you for things. So you can end up paying $2000 a year regardless with premiums and co-pays/deductibles etc.

      She’s callous and ridiculous.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Back when we had it , the plan covered $1500. By the time you looked at what was excluded it became apparent that it was a waste of money.
        So my husband went to the dentist around the time he had to pick his benefits for the year. He found out he needed x and x was covered. We worked the math and for that up-coming year he had dental insurance because it was that rare moment when the stars were in alignment. We dropped it the following year.

        But the pattern is well-known. Companies got a dental plan and everyone who had not been to a dentist in ten years signed up. The insurance companies ended up paying out more than they took in in premiums. Not a good business plan for them.

    15. Fortitude Jones*

      My response would have been, “I would have gotten it if you paid me more.” Sheesh. Some people are ridiculous.

    16. sum of two normal distributions*

      Yes, she is a massive jerk! What in the world would make her say that to you and laugh on top of it?

      Be assured, you are not too sensitive, OP!

    17. Llellayena*

      Double check your regular health insurance. Because it’s dental SURGERY some or all might be covered under the regular insurance. Mine works like that, if I need to get my impacted wisdom teeth out (knock on wood, cross fingers, throw salt over my shoulder) my regular insurance will cover it because it’s surgery. But the three crowns I got one year were not covered.

      Oh, and your boss is a jerk.

      1. Clisby*

        That’s how my insurance with vision-related things. It would pay if I needed cataract surgery, for example, but not for routine exams/glasses. I’d have to get vision insurance for that.

  27. gecko*

    Can I get a reality check about my grumpiness level about my job?

    Basically–my boss is very hands off. This works great for me; I can always find work to do, and I feel like I have a lot of control over my priorities. I also got a big raise last year, and I’m jazzed about that.

    That said, I have coworker problems/boss problems despite that. I have three coworkers who categorically do not do much work, and not very high quality. I’m in software and our metrics are public to each other. My boss knows about this and is…not really doing anything about it.

    One of the three slacker coworkers is an old friend of mine, and he’s the senior person on the team, and is in the position of kind of being asked to manage my team, but also my real boss is still my real boss; and besides that, my friend is terrible at management–rarely does prioritization tasks, doesn’t do things like delegation & prioritization of issues unless the issue goes through the exact process that he wants (a process he never communicates clearly), and gets frustrated at basic elements of the job like attending meetings and communicating our two major sources of software issues.

    So…I’m frustrated by it. I’m more than half sure I’m going to look for a new gig mid-autumn, and I’m still toying between, you know, should I just let this go, should I bring up the issues with my friend, should I keep bringing up the issues with my two other slacker coworkers? I trust my boss to listen to me and not hold anything against me, but I don’t necessarily trust him to take action–he doesn’t want to be a “micromanager.”

    My question really is, should I sit on this stuff or continue to bring it up? These are common problems, but I’m more frustrated by them lately.

    1. LadyAbhorsen*

      I would bring it up with your boss. You say he doesn’t want to micromanage, but it sounds like he’s not actually… managing. If he brushes you off I’d suggest underlining to him that while you love this job, if this continues you may have to start looking for a new employer.

      If you let this all fester and then quit when you can’t stand it any more, they might have a feeling of “why didn’t you say anything?”. This way if nothing changes, you’ll be able to point to this as a moment they could have used to pivot.

      1. gecko*

        Thank you! Yeah it’s pretty annoying to hear him be like “I don’t want to micromanage” and be feeling, like, no, you’d just be managing.

        I think one of my hesitations has been is, I’m probably more than half sure I’m going to look for something new and it feels weird to go in and unload considering that.

    2. sunshyne84*

      I would just leave. The manager can clearly see you are far more productive and doesn’t seem to care so let them figure things out on their own once you leave.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I would start looking for a new job now not in the fall.
      If you want to spend time teaching others how to do their jobs then okay. But I could see me deciding not to do that and just focusing on leaving.
      The problem with helping others to learn their jobs is that you never quite reach the end of the training, as there is always one more issue to discuss.
      People either actively commit to on-going learning or they don’t. We can’t really make them.

    4. sum of two normal distributions*

      The fact that you are more frustrated with them lately sounds like you are burning out, which is inevitable when you work in an environment like this where 1) you care about your work and others don’t, 2) you aren’t getting great support or communication about goals and priorities, and 3) you are probably having to pick up the slack of your colleagues who are less productive.

      If you truly like your work, you will have some more work ahead of you trying to galvanize your manager and change the status quo. You would know more about how these people will react to being held more accountable but in my experience, people are resistant. Good luck & try looking now rather than later!

  28. LadyAbhorsen*

    I’m quitting today!!! Please wish me luck!!

    I’m on FMLA though the 17th, and my start date for NewJob is the 22nd, so I’m…. definitely screwing over oldjob except that I completed all of my important documentation last month in anticipation of this so all I have left to do is clean my desk out (and try not to undo all of my hard work with a guilt attack).

    1. LadyAbhorsen*

      Also I’m coming in to quit in person, though my bossboss is on vacation so I’ll be quitting with the Director. Whoops.

      1. Matilda Jefferies*

        It doesn’t sound like you’re screwing over OldJob at all – you’re already on leave, so it sounds like you’ve done most of your transition planning already, and you’ve done all the outstanding work. You’ve got nothing to worry about. But good luck anyway, both with quitting and at the new job!

        1. LadyAbhorsen*

          Haha, I can’t even parse what’s real and what’s guilt any more. Thank you for the reminder.

    2. gecko*

      Good luck!!! I agree with Matilda Jefferies above that I think you do not have to feel guilty.

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Nope nope nope, still not screwing them over! So excited for you and hope that the new job goes wonderfully!

      1. LadyAbhorsen*

        Becky! Please do not be disappointed that I’m still getting chewed on by guilt! I am no The Man, standing defiant and victorious with blood streaming down your face!

        Thank you! I will be strong!

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          It’s okay, I know guilt all too personally myself! So it’s there, regardless of rather we want it or not. I know that it’ll pass once you’ve given notice and get to the new job, it’s like those stupid butterflies that other a stomach before any big change or new adventure.

          1. LadyAbhorsen*

            I gave notice and it went super well. All guilt is washed away with a huge surge of excitement!

    4. CatCat*

      Congrats on the new job! It sounds like you have taken steps to ensure a smooth transition. Do not feel guilty, feel excited for your new chapter!

  29. ANOTHER friday anon*

    I’ve received some, to me, devastating feedback over the past weeks that I’m trying to address. What it basically boils down to is that I need to turn down my everything and shut up more.

    Please note, I’m not being intentionally hurtful, but I think I am being unintentionally so by, well, saying the truth too often and letting my emotions get the better of me. I’m one of those easy to get worked up types but I calm down immediately after, if something annoys me I vent (I know I shouldn’t, it’s something I’m trying to condition myself out of). I don’t yell, but I complain because I’m frustrated by easy processes moving glacially and people willfully not understanding requirements and I could probably stand to do a lot less of that, but it’s a terribly hard habit to break.

    I admire those always calm colleagues who have always the right answers and let everything roll off their backs, I wish I could be like that. But my filter has been off kilter in the last few years, especially since my work has become very stressful. An example is when I’m working with a colleague on something and we need to look something up and I know in which section is it, “section 14” – colleague clicks elsewhere and stays on page forever reading section headers – “it’s section 14” – colleague waits some more reading the section headers – “it’s in 14” – colleague turns around “anon, really, enough”. (this is a very mild but the most recent example, and this sounds like I’m impatient but I think it comes across as know it all and ugh)

    I…don’t notice these things before they come out of my mouth. I do know I need to think before I say something, but somehow….way too often I don’t. I’m standing in my own way with this and I KNOW this but most often I just don’t notice I’m being obnoxious (I was raised to speak my mind at all times and somehow no one ever bothered enough to correct me in this, so I’m starting from the back on this). And I’m really sorry to my colleagues for this (I do say sorry when I notice it). I think I really just need to start physically biting my tongue before saying anything, and perhaps go outside for five minutes when something annoys me.

    I know that this is partially stress related because it definitely has gotten worse and I will work on reducing stress once I can get my head above water, but “I’m stressed” is not an excuse I’m comfortable with, other people are stressed too.

    (I know someone will suggest therapy, but even though I’m in a western country, therapist’s waitlists are 2-3 years here and priority is given to people whose quality of life if strongly affected by an illness, I cannot wait 2-3 years to address this. I don’t have any disorder, I’m just your average obnoxious coworker who doesn’t mean to be obnoxious.)

    Does anyone have any literature suggestions to get me started working on this? It would be so helpful to have at least a basic framework to work with instead of fumbling blind and addressing the symptoms rather than what’s causing them. I really really want to be a better person/coworker, not for career related reasons, but because I think I would be a lot more balanced and a lot happier that way, aside from giving my colleagues less to be annoyed by.

    1. Another Lauren*

      Ooh, you’re my emotional twin! I have gotten that same feedback in the past, and you’re right—it’s so tough to hear. I have a few tricks that have helped me work on this. First, I always assume positive intent—if something is moving at a glacial pace, I tell myself that it’s for a good reason that I happen to just not know about. Even if secretly I know that’s not the case, I pretend there’s a reason anyway.

      I also remind myself that it’s not the Another Lauren game show; I don’t win a prize for being the first person to respond to a question or catch other errors. What I might win a prize for, though, is supporting my colleagues by allowing them to take the lead on some things, even when it’s So. Freaking. Obvious how to find the answer.

      And last, especially because I also tend to get worse with this when I’m stressed, I make it a point to ask a ton of open-ended questions. Rather than ask something like, “have you done X?” I’ll ask, “what have you tried?” This way I don’t assume I already have all the answers, even if deep down I think I do.

      It takes practice and an openness to constructive criticism, but I promise you, this is a trait that is totally fixable!

      1. ANOTHER friday anon*

        Thank you for kind reply and for your encouragement.

        Your suggestions sound very good and I will be trying this!

    2. gecko*

      I’m pretty good about this at work, but I have certainly had my moments of “oh my god, why did I say that and behave that way.” Still mulling over a cool and great time that happened last night, in fact. So hello, fellow person!

      I don’t have specific book recommendations, but I think you’re right to say, yeah, just trying to bite your tongue won’t work. A lot of the time, I think this kind of annoyance that’s prompting sharp outbursts comes from lack of empathizing with people. Basically: the fundamental attribution error is a…cornerstone error in the human psyche. It’s a lot easier to say, “I behaved X way because of Y external factor” and “Fergus behaved X way because he’s annoying and slow,” than the reverse.

      For instance, the table of contents section 14 example–your initial impulse is, “they’re just not paying attention to me and doing this in a reasonable way WHY.” I get that! But what is also perfectly likely is they were thinking, “another anon keeps saying 14 to me, but I’m trying to get quick context on the rest of the section headers before I click, and I can’t even process the words while I have a little voice in my ear, so now I can’t even concentrate to see where section 14 is.”

      In that case, if at the beginning you’d framed it more like that and trusted your coworker to remember “14,” I think you might not have snapped. But this isn’t a “staircase words” situation; it’s reasonable that you didn’t think about it that way initially! In large part because you’re stressed.

      Stress really can degrade decision-making skills. And in that case I wonder if you can basically make yourself do two things. One being, is there a way you can get less stressed? Delegation, lighten workload, different organization, different mindset, lowering the stakes in your head?

      The second is, can you come up with some corny way to force yourself to put yourself in your coworker’s shoes before they start to annoy you? For instance, asking yourself, if I was doing this, why would I be doing this? If I were the one refusing to answer my urgent email until after lunch, why would I be doing that? I’d be doing that because I was hungry and really needed a break. Already you’ve moved away from the ARRGH cycle.

      Hope that helps–sorry I don’t have any literature recommendations, but the above is what I try to do, and it works pretty well to shore up my normally non-existent filter.

      1. ANOTHER friday anon*

        Thank you so much for your understanding and your kind words.

        I think you may be right that this may be a lack of empathy, as hard as is to admit…who wants to be told they lack this.

        As for stress, we’re coming up on a hard deadline of a ten year project (that I’ve been on for the last three), which literally hundreds of people in my organization are involved in (I manage one small process part of this and I have dozens of points of contact) and which a lot rides on. Everyone involved is stressed right now, it will get a bit better once that first deadline is passed.

        Thank you for your suggestions, I will work on trying to implement this and not give up.

        1. gecko*

          Yes, I know it can sound super harsh, but I don’t think it is—you certainly don’t seem to have an intrinsic lack of empathy!!! My god no.

          The issue to me is, it is easy for our brains to take the less empathetic route—it takes energy to TRY and see something from someone else’s perspective like that. And the stressed brain has no energy left.

          Best of luck, I think you’ve got this. It will be hard but it’s completely doable.

        2. Lobsterp0t*

          I mean, I have a ton of empathy, but I also have ADHD. My mouth is ALWAYS faster than my mouth filter. It definitely has gotten me in trouble.

          I notice that I involve myself in stuff that I don’t… need to be involved with. I offer to help people when I could just wait to be asked. I also get impatient when people do what you described. AND YET if I’m the one looking for something and someone is rushing me along, sometimes what I need is for them to shut up and let me process the information! Even if they are correct. I know that personally, I cannot physically look myself while also deferring to someone else’s “driving” most of the time. So instead I either: explain why I am taking longer (thanks, I need to get more familiar with this myself, I just need a moment to digest what is on the screen) or offer to let the other person “drive” while I watch. (Or sometimes just say, thanks! I’ve got this! Or if the shoe is on the other foot, and I’m the one interjecting, say “looks like you’ve got this!) and butt out.

          1. ANOTHER friday anon*

            “stuff that I don’t… need to be involved with”

            This sounds very familiar, but this at least I have mostly fixed, and I’m very proud of that.

            Thanks. I’m definitely missing the filter way too often, even though I’m not diagnosed with anything. But you make a very good point, thank you. I will work on my patience for sure. (In this situation I couldn’t leave because we were working on something together.)

      2. Alianora*

        This is a fantastic comment. I’ve found that genuinely being patient and non judgmental of others gets better and faster results, as well as a more pleasant work environment. To get into this mindset I try to remember times when I’ve been the slow new person and that there are probably other factors I’m not seeing.

        OP, you said that this is a really stressful time for everyone, so I’m sure that’s contributing to this. I definitely have been an impatient jerk before. Real empathy is hard to develop, but it’s probably the most valuable tool I’ve been able to use at work.

      3. Kathenus*

        When I was trying to work on some communication skills that were long-term issues for me and really tripping me up with my direct reports and coworkers, I was honest with them. I told them that I was trying to improve in x and y areas, but that I’d appreciate their help in bringing it up to me in the moment when I slipped, so that I could be aware in a timely manner and learn more about the contexts where I was still struggling with these new skills. It was important that I was dedicated to working on this and making some noticeable progress, otherwise it wouldn’t have seemed genuine. But I think they respected the fact that I was willing to put myself out there with them in an effort to improve.

    3. Agent J*

      A book a therapist recommended to me is Mind Over Mood. While it does focus on “disorders”, it can help you se yourself in some of the scenarios offered and give you ways to think differently through them.

      1. ANOTHER friday anon*

        Thank you for your book suggestions.

        I did not mean to disparage disorders, I’m sorry. I’m an ESL scientist who used to write and edit medical literature for a decade, I used science wording.

    4. Reba*

      I would try practicing with a sympathetic friend. As her to role play a stressful conversation (could be work related, or just a charged topic in the news) and be very deliberate in your responses. Time yourself if you have to. Forcing yourself to pause, i.e. “biting your tongue” is exactly the right move–maybe not going physically outside, but retraining your habits of conversation to slow down.

      I found this interesting : https://www.fastcompany.com/3047285/the-science-of-why-we-talk-too-much-and-how-to-shut-up

      It’s great to be self-aware. Please don’t let your feelings of frustration or embarrassment get you down too much!

      1. ANOTHER friday anon*

        Thank you for link! I will read this at home, the URL sounds very promising!

        And thank you for your kind words. I really want to work on this.

    5. Mimmy*

      Another emotional twin here! The advice given so far definitely surpasses any advice I could’ve offered, but I did want to comment on the “section 14” example. I think if your colleague is indeed getting context by quickly reading over the other section headings, as gecko suggested, I think he could’ve stated this rather than snapping back at you.