talkative job candidates, baby showers at work, and more

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

1. Talkative friend was advised to show interviewer he can be quiet

My friend “Alex” is applying for jobs as at breweries and bars. He had an interview today at a brewery and one of his other friends, “Charlie,” knows the head brewer and business partner. The interviewer spoke with Charlie afterwards and made a comment about Alex talking too much/oversharing.

Charlie gave Alex the advice that he should go to the brewery at opening, have two beers over the course of two hours, only respond to questions and be quiet/normal. A few other people and I tried to tell Alex that it is really weird advice and kind of sounds creepy to do.

He’s unsure because of the connection between Charlie and the brewery and is currently thinking of going with a friend so that he can have someone to talk to. He also doesn’t know how to show that he can “be quiet” as Charlie said.

This advice is weird, right? Other than the confirmation, do you or your readers have advice if you’re the person that overshares or talks too much? Alex has trouble reading certain social cues and generally needs to be told to stop talking directly. Is there any other advice other than him saying “tell me when to stop”?

It sounds weird to me too (and that it would look like he’s seeking their attention in an inappropriate way) but the norms in bar and restaurant work are often very different from offices, so I wouldn’t take my word for it. Commenters with bar/restaurant experience, please weigh in! (That said, I do think going with a friend is a better option than hanging out alone for two hours at the place you just interviewed at, but if he’s there with a friend he can’t demonstrate his ability to be quiet unless they sit there in silence, which would be even weirder than the first option.) But none of this may matter, because if he has to force himself to behave unnaturally for two hours, this probably isn’t the right job for him.

As for not knowing when to stop talking, he shouldn’t rely on suggesting that people tell him when to stop. Most people will feel rude doing that and thus won’t do it, even if he invites them to. It’s tough when you have difficulty reading social cues, but he can try observing how much other people are talking and ensuring he’s not talking more than they are (or ideally, aiming for less since he knows he errs on the other extreme). He also could confine himself to talking for no more than a minute at a time (which sounds short but is actually a fairly long time when you’re in conversation). If a friend is willing to practice with him, it could be interesting for him to time himself and the other person, and see how long he speaks on average versus the other person.

2. Should I suggest giving my pregnant coworker a baby shower?

One of my coworkers, Arya, is seven months pregnant, and I think she’s going to take maternity leave fairly soon.

A few years ago, another one of our coworkers, Jamie, had a baby shower when his wife was expecting (she’s not an employee). It was planned in large part by a coworker of ours, Brienne, not management, although management paid for the festivities and some presents. Brienne is not officially in charge of parties, she just happened to be close with Jamie.

However, now that Arya is getting closer to her due date, I haven’t heard anything from Brienne or management about a baby shower, and I’m getting worried that it isn’t going to happen. My fear is because another coworker (Jon) also didn’t have a baby shower when his wife gave birth, but that was about a year before Jamie’s. I would feel really bad if Arya didn’t have one, as she was present for Jamie’s shower.

How do I bring this up? Should I ask management or Brienne if they’re planning anything? Should I offer to plan something if management will give me a budget? I’m not especially close to Arya, and I don’t think I’ll do as nice of a job as Brienne, but I’m willing to put something together.

Don’t ask Brienne. It doesn’t sound like organizing office events is part of her normal responsibilities; she just happened to organize a shower for Jamie because they’re close. If you’re going to raise it with anyone, point out to your manager that given Jaime’s shower, you’re worried about Arya feeling overlooked and ask if there are plans to do anything for her. If you’re really willing to organize it, you could offer that (assuming Arya even wants a shower; check with her first!)  but be aware that you may then become the default person for it in the future (and there are a bunch of reasons why women should avoid that).

But also — tread carefully because right now you’re just an office that had a shower for someone once, organized by their close friend. If you do it for Arya too because of that precedent, then you’re making it a thing your office does, and not everyone wants that kind of recurring obligation at work. To be clear, it’s definitely not cool for some people to be offered showers when others aren’t, but right now it’s just a one-time occurrence rather than “everyone got a shower but Ayra.” (On the other hand, if you skip Arya and then the next pregnant person does get a shower, then now Arya has been slighted … which is why managers should keep an eye on this kind of thing and not leave it totally up to others.)

3. Is it rude to ask about my potential boss’s own experience?

Is it rude or unprofessional to ask a potential boss/hiring manager’s professional background or experience in an interview, lest it come off as confrontational? For example, how long have you been managing the communications department, where else have you worked before joining this company, etc.?

In my last two jobs, I’ve run into the unfortunate situation of being managed by someone who has ZERO experience in my field. As in none at all. As a higher ed communications professional with 15+ years experience, I find it demoralizing and exhausting to have to explain the basics of my role and justify why it is that I do what I do. I’m not talking about strategy or internal policies or other issues that may be above my paygrade. I’m referring to scenarios such as why content, graphic design, and back-end IT website coding and server issues cannot (and should not) all be performed by one person, and why staff and faculty members need media training if they will be speaking to the press about sensitive issues.

I’m actively looking for a new job. In hindsight, I don’t think I would have taken either of these past jobs had I known how underprepared my bosses would be. I’m not sure if this situation is an industry shift, where increasingly senior professionals are asked to oversee more and more departments, even if they have no basic idea of what tasks are involved in order to be effective leaders. Or, perhaps this is just a fluke and some bad luck on my part. In either case, I want to do my best to avoid this in the future.

LinkedIn can often solve this for you — you can look up the person you’d be reporting to and find out exactly what their professional background is. But if they’re not on LinkedIn or you didn’t know who they were until you got to the interview, you can indeed ask about their background. Wait until the portion of the interview when it’s your turn to ask questions and then say something like, “I’d love to hear about your background since we’d be working closely together. What was your path like before coming here?”

That said, it’s also true that in most fields, the higher up you move, the more likely you are to end up being managed by someone without a background in the work you do. (More on that here.)

4. Purchasing tech equipment for my job versus expensing it

I work in at a research firm on an internal team charged with, among other things, providing training and demos for our staff. One recent innovation I’ve undertaken is to create a series of video demos about one of our most used project management tools. It’s gotten very good feedback from senior management and I’m already brainstorming with my manager about other videos.

One thing I’d like to do to make the videos higher quality is to propose that we invest in a higher quality microphone to record higher quality voice-overs for any future videos. Nothing too crazy, just a better USB microphone somewhere in the $50-$75 range.

Were I to propose this to my manager and our finance team, and it gets approved, does the equipment belong to my company? And should I decide to purchase the equipment with my own money and then use it for company purposes but I would own it, is there an issue with this?

If your company buys the equipment, it belongs to them, even though you suggested the purchase and it was bought for your use.

If you buy it with your own money and let the company use it, that’s generally fine — but you document the ownership in writing so there’s no confusion over it when you leave and want to take it with you (or if at some point while you’re still there, you want to convert it only your personal use). Otherwise, these arrangements can get forgotten, new managers can come in who weren’t part of the original agreement, etc.

But unless there’s some compelling reason not to, you should default to letting the company purchase and own it. It’s for their use! If you buy it, even though you get to keep it, they’ll be putting wear and tear on it.

5. Using Ask a Manager posts at senior staff meetings

Your website has been so helpful to me as a manager that I have started bringing a reader-submitted question to my weekly senior staff meetings. I print out just the question portion and have everyone (four people including me) discuss how they’d answer/what they’d do.

I know a big benefit of AAM for me has been the opportunity to think through management challenges on a regular basis — not just when there’s an immediate issue. Management drills, I guess :). I had told my own manager that I wished I could make everyone read AAM and he asked “Well, why don’t you?” So I did! Kind of. It’s been a fun way to mix up our meetings and you have such a good mix of serious and fascinating that I can really vary the things we get to discuss.

I like this, and thought I’d share it here in case it would work for others too.

{ 377 comments… read them below }

  1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#2, I think you have to talk to Arya, first. It sounds like the showers haven’t happened consistently enough to be considered a thing that’s done, and speaking personally, I would not want a work-hosted/sponsored shower. But who knows? Arya may think it’s a thoughtful gesture!

    But you won’t know until you ask her, and if it turns out she’d rather not have a shower, it may make more sense to show your excitement for her in another way. For example, I had a colleague who unexpectedly had to take longer parental leave than she anticipated, and she was stressed out because it would continue past our paid leave period. So those of us who wanted to do so pooled our PTO/vacation and donated it to her to extend her paid leave period. I’m not saying you should do that, but I just wanted to highlight other methods of sharing your congrats.

    1. Massmatt*

      It seems the OP is way too invested in whether someone else has a baby shower at work. This seems very odd. Unless you are very close with the coworker I would let it go. Why is it your responsibility to assure office baby shower equity?

      1. RUKiddingMe*

        This. Plus really does anyone want it to become a *thing?* As a coworker I’d be more than a little annoyed if suddenly showers, birthdays, etc became an obligation.

        Moreover as Alison points out there are very good reasons for women to *not* become default social, domestic, helper types.

        We’re already expected to be that way anyway and rushing head-long into it, willingly(!!!) really undermines efforts by other women, possibly/probably in OP’s own office to be taken seriously and not just someone working for pin money or waiting to get married and start a “real” life.

      2. ApoarentlyTheSoamFikterHatesMeNow(UsedToBeRUKiddingMe)*

        Too many women feel responsible to make sure of this kind of stuff. Social conditioning…

        1. Anononon*

          In a vacuum, is that bad? As in, wouldn’t it be good for both men and women to be aware of these kinds of things?

          Not in a vacuum, women should be aware that regularly taking responsibility for such activities can hurt their career. But, I think overall that this is a scenario where we shouldn’t maybe default to “male” norms in the workplace.

          1. pleaset*

            Baby showers are work seem weird to me. Acknowledging the needs of parents, allowing good work/life balance, including men being given parental leave (and senior-level men actually taking it advantage of these offerings, to demonstrate the importance of them), etc make a lot of sense to me.

            But showers – nah. I frankly think at-work birthdays, showers, wedding celebrations, etc are just too much. Celebrating a work anniversary, sure. But partying for non-work stuff. No.

            I stopped going to at-work birthday parties myself, including ones covering me (I asked to be pulled off them) I had to go to the shower staff threw for me but it was annoying and I felt bad people or the org had contributed for gifts I didn’t ask for or particularly want. I did take all my time off but wish I’d had more.

            I think the workplace does need to be less stereotypically masculine/ignorant about family. But family-related celebrations seem off-base to me.

            1. Oxford Comma*

              It’s common enough in my part of the world. No one is ever expected to attend or contribute. It’s just a nice thing to do for someone. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the OP reaching out and making the offer to throw one.

              I get what you’re saying about more generous leave and such, but the OP said this is a co-worker so it’s not like she’s in a position to effect systemic change.

              1. Kathleen_A*

                It’s really common here, too – in my part of the world and in my particular organization. And we do it for both prospective fathers and prospective mothers, too. It’s so common that it’s hard for me to fathom that it might be uncommon elsewhere.

                Besides…why not a shower at work (assuming the prospective honoree wants it)? It’s a nice thing to do for someone you spend hours and hours every week with.

                1. pleaset*

                  It’s common in my world too. I still don’t think it’s good. And there’s a steady escalation of expectations which we see in the letter that started this discussion.

                  I’d rather have celebrations about work-related stuff. Not in a boring way but joyful – new hire, new client, promotion, product shipped. Even staff getting new training.

                2. Arielle*

                  I wonder if when people think “baby shower” they’re picturing something much more elaborate than showers at my workplace tend to be. Ours are more of a “we won’t be seeing you for four months and we’d like to say goodbye” gathering for an hour at the end of the day with snacks and drinks, maybe a couple of gifts if the person’s team has their act together. It’s not, like, a formal affair with structured party games and decorations.

                3. Kathleen_A*

                  Good point – they are a lot different from non-work shower. Well, for one thing, they’re a lot shorter.

                  Ours vary somewhat, but there are a few constants: (1) cake (because, you know, it’s cake), (2) a few individual presents and (3) one larger present that the company plus some employees contribute to. Sometimes it’s 30-45 minutes late in the day, but a couple of times it’s been a 20-minute interlude in a half-day all-employee meeting.

                  I think sometimes there have been ones with games, but I’ve never attended any of those, so I could be wrong. They are always coed, though – it’s not considered just something for “the ladies” or anything like that. In any case, it’s never ever been as elaborate or protracted as the non-work showers I’ve been to. And thank God for that!

                4. Turtle Candle*

                  Arielle, yes, ours is “Happy babying! Here’s a card and some cake and a company-branded onesie. We’ll see you in Novtember!” It’s ten minutes and some smiling.

            2. Michaela Westen*

              It could depend on how close the coworkers are. I work in a teaching hospital. Residents and physicians give each other a lot more emotional support than in a typical workplace. It’s not unusual for them to have baby showers and wedding showers for each other.

              1. pancakes*

                It makes much more sense to me in a uniquely intense work environment like that. In a standard office it seems over-the-top, unless people are pretty close.

            3. iglwif*

              Baby showers (and wedding showers), for all genders, have been standard everywhere I’ve ever worked … though admittedly my experience consists of long stretches at very few places, and all of them were at least 75% women, which probably has some bearing on the situation.

              If someone was asked and said they didn’t want a party, then no, we wouldn’t throw them a party. I think that happened maybe once at the place I worked at for well over a decade.

              And of course how much of a burden a shower is depends on how elaborate it is! I’m talking about spending an hour or so eating non-elaborate food and chatting, after giving the shower-ee a nice card that everyone signed and gift to which everyone contributed as much or as little as they chose via an anonymous brown envelope (unspoken rule: the more you make, the more you contribute, and NEVER EVER ask who contributed what), not something super fancy or super expensive.

              One of those workplace culture things that you kind of have to get a feel for at every new place, I guess!

            4. Perpal*

              I think the nice thing about baby showers at work is they show a degree of… acceptance? It’s pretty scary asking for leave, etc, and the shower can be a nice show of support. But it has to be accompanied by /actual/ support of course (ie, leave, no griping, normal prep for a break and not marginalization, etc)
              If showers are done, I think they are best done
              1) by management (and if they have someone who organizes gatherings, that person should organize the showers)
              2) probably best if grouped to once or twice a year
              3) maybe the company provides a gift basket but otherwise other coworkers aren’t obligated to bring stuff

              1. Jane*

                Gosh i can’t imagine it being scary to ask for leave. But I’m in the UK where it’s very much a normal and expected part of business ‘hey boss, just wanted to let you know I’ll be going on mat leave in December and should be gone for around ten to twelve months, what paperwork do we need to sign?’

                1. Perpal*

                  Wow haha, yeah I mean it’s fairly standardized here but some people still act like it’s a huge inconvenience vs others just seem happy for you; and there’s the fear people are going to decide you’re not actually “serious” about your career, etc etc

            5. pancakes*

              +1, though I don’t mind a birthday cake in the kitchen or optional after-work birthday drinks. Anything beyond that seems too fussy.

          2. ApparentlyTheSpamFilterHatesMeNow(UsedToBeRUKiddingMe)*

            Why should *not* doing this stuff be considered male norms? Why is doing this stuff considered female?

            Particularly why are arranging baby showers only considered female…last time I checked males generally had a modicum of participation in the creation of babies.

              1. ApparentlyTheSpamFilterHatesMeNow(UsedToBeRUKiddingMe)*

                Yep. Or if they (the office/management/etc.) are going to insist on these kinds of social, housekeeping, emotional labor type things then they need to assign it to people making absolutely certain that everyone, including males participate equally in the work.

                Personally I’d rather see it all go the way of the Dodo as a *thing.* Want to recognize someone? Take them to lunch/coffee individually. Don’t plan something that other people may very much *not* want to be a part of/be able or willing to afford. Don’t set this up as an expectation at all and certainly if you are a woman pull way back from doing this kind of stuff as default because this is the shit that keeps us “in our place” in this stupid patriarchal culture.

                ::steps off soapbox::

                1. Quickbeam*

                  I’ve been getting side eye all week for not going to a baby shower for someone I barely know 2 floors away. I really hate the pressure to use my personal time in this way. I fight back but wow, it is lonely out here!

                2. RUKiddingMe*


                  I hear ya! Keep fighting the good fight. We *will* overcome…eventually.

      3. BeeJiddy*

        This doesn’t seem odd to me at all. Being concerned about a workmate’s feelings seems very reasonable, especially if you are a person who is used to doing a lot of emotional labour on behalf of others and anticipating other people’s needs. I would have similar worries in this situation. The point at which concern turns into anxiety might be the time to question your emotional involvement in something, I would say.

        1. Luisa*

          I think also being concerned about the optics of this situation as part of an eye towards broader workplace camaraderie isn’t at all out of line. A few years ago, after many years of not having workplace events specifically for personal stuff (babies, weddings, etc.), we had a very similar situation come up on the team I work with. However, on my team, the Arya was REALLY upset and felt snubbed, and there were some very icy moments between coworkers with differing points of view on the whole thing. It truly impacted interpersonal relationships, which fortunately didn’t spill over into impacting people’s work, but it’s unpleasant to work on a team where a lot of people are mad at one another. So, absent an established practice of celebrating or not celebrating, I do think the OP is smart to be thinking about this.

        2. RussianInTexas*

          As a female and non-manager, this is something I truly would never think of, if someone not getting baby shower, birthday celebration, or whatever. I don’t care if my employer notices my out-of work milestones, and I wouldn’t really care if someone else does or does not. This is not my job and not my concern.

          1. Parenthetically*

            “I don’t care if my employer notices my out-of work milestones, and I wouldn’t really care if someone else does or does not.”

            Sure, but surely you can recognize that, despite your personal preferences, a lot of people DO care? (Also, “I wouldn’t notice disparities in how my colleagues are treated because it’s not my job/concern” is a fairly chilly take, tbh.)

            1. pleaset*

              But I think a little recognition – mentioning it in meeting or the intranet warmly – is different than organizing events with spending and time.

              1. Parenthetically*

                Oh I don’t think it’s necessarily incumbent upon OP to plan anything! But mentioning to a manager as an effort to ensure equity? Sure.

                1. Oxford Comma*

                  I think that’s the distinction here. In rereading the letter, the OP is pointing out that management has thrown other employees’ similar events. Maybe Arya doesn’t want a shower. But maybe nobody’s asked her. People do get overlooked.

                  I don’t think it’s odd or weird to ask the manager if someone’s doing something for her.

            2. RussianInTexas*

              Sure, people do care. I do not. I don’t mind being chilly, I am here to work and go home.
              I am polite and friendly with people, because I live in a society, and it makes my life easier, but really, feelings of people who are not my friends/family are not really my concern (to clarify, I can feel bad for someone, or happy for someone, but on a VERY sliding scale).
              And giving that I am not a manager, and it’s not my job, I am not volunteering ever to organize any kind of celebration.

              1. Parenthetically*

                Part of me is very interested to know how you would respond to people being discriminated against at your workplace based on, say, race or sex or disability status, given that you don’t think it’s incumbent on you to care about anyone who isn’t a friend or family member, but then part of me doesn’t want to hear the response I anticipate you would give.

                1. RussianInTexas*

                  Discrimination is very different from being upset for not given a baby shower. I’ve been discriminated against for being a Jew in Russia. I was told to my face that “I can’t vote for that candidate because he is a Jew, and you know how you people are”. I was also told on a date that “as an owner I wouldn’t hire women or Jews” (he didn’t know I was Jewish). I also have a disabled brother.
                  Not getting a baby shower or a birthday cake are really so not the same. They don’t belong in the workplace. I hid my last birthday so my coworkers wouldn’t give me the song and dance (we actually do the cake cutting and singing “happy birthday” in the break room, and it’s so so very awkward). I also care not at all in my coworkers’ marriages or kids. They don’t affect me any.

                2. Parenthetically*

                  “They don’t belong in the workplace.”

                  That’s your opinion. I and others don’t share it. I don’t think they must be recognized, but IF life milestones are honored in the workplace, they should be honored equally.

                  Thinking little things like this are beneath your notice is, in my opinion, likely to blind you to actual discrimination when it happens. Say your workplace threw baby showers for women in heterosexual marriages but ignored babies born to same-sex-partnered people or non-gender-conforming people. Your “general concern for humanity and fairness” alarm is set to “DGAF” for your colleagues. That is a tactical mistake, IMO.

                3. RUKiddingMe*

                  I think actual discrimination (and as RIT pointed out, she has a little personal experience with), is a whole other thing than not caring if someone gets cake because “BABY!!!”

                  I also think it’s a stretch to think that someone (anyone) not particularly caring about the personal lives, personal…that is “away from work” lives… of their coworkers would manifest in not seeing certain people discriminated against.

                4. pancakes*

                  Parenthetically, I don’t think there’s a direct relation between the two. I’m pretty sensitive to discrimination and am also just one of these people who don’t care much about this sort of celebration, especially in a work context. I’ll cry at a wedding but won’t remember an anniversary date, not because I have something against the idea of celebrating the occasion but because it wouldn’t occur to me to think about it. Caring about things like baby showers is more of a personal preference and/or regional norm than a metric of observational skills.

          2. RedinSC*

            For me, as a female and a manager, I just kinda wish this stuff was not brought to the workplace, actually. It’s hard enough to manage the different personalities without having to remember, Oh, Camilla likes Chocolate, but Kate is allergic to it. When people talk about work as a family I get kinda cringy, it’s not, it’s work, you’re paid to be there. Do you job, accept the praise or criticisms, and don’t make me remember birthdays, etc.

            1. RussianInTexas*

              Yes. Work achievements are one thing. Personal and family achievements (also, a birthday is not an achievement, you didn’t actually do anything to get it) should be left to your friends (who could be even your coworkers!) and family to celebrate. If your colleagues want to take you out to lunch for your birthday – go ahead. The employer shouldn’t do this.

            2. ApparentlyTheSpamFilterHatesMeNow(UsedToBeRUKiddingMe)*

              Agree! Not a family is important to remember. Sure you spend a lot of time with these people and on a given day more than your own family usually, but they are not in fact your family. Most of them wouldn’t even be in your circle of acquaintances if it weren’t for the happenstance of being employed at the same place.

              As a manager/owner and a woman I recognize work anniversaries and I do a birthday bonus check as I get a notification a week before everyone’s birthday. Of course that’s mostly because I’m super cool like that. –.– I don’t do showers of any kind, nor do I encourage them. No birthday parties in the office but I generally spring for breakfast or lunch delivery…though I do that randomly from time to time anyway so it’s not really a *thing.*

              If I weren’t the actual owner, I’d never do what little I do. Even if I was the manager…nope. As a coworker/peer? Not on a dare.

        3. so many resumes, so little time*

          I agree.

          My office has always used baby showers as a sort of bonding time. Attendance is not mandatory, contributing to a gift is not mandatory. A card and gift envelope are circulated by the person’s manager; attached is a list of department staff. Once you have signed the card (or not signed the card), you cross off your name and pass it along to someone else. No one knows who has put money in the envelope and who hasn’t, or how much anyone has contributed. Management usually gives the expectant parent a gift card once collection is finished.

          Last year we had an expectant father for the first time and it looked like there was not going to be a shower for him until a number of the women complained to management that it was a matter of equality in the workplace.

          1. ApparentlyTheSpamFilterHatesMeNow(UsedToBeRUKiddingMe)*

            But none of the males took it upon themselves to worry about his feelings? Once again the emotional labor was done by women.

            1. so many resumes, so little time*

              There are only two other men in the department, both old enough that “in their day” men didn’t get showers.

        4. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

          Yeah but it’s odd to be concerned about someone’s feelings if you’re not close to them. I would never intentionally hurt someone’s feelings (regardless of closeness), but if I’m not close to someone, it wouldn’t occur to me to feel bad that nobody seems to be planning a shower. I don’t know the specifics (and neither does OP) but maybe she told her manager she doesn’t want one, or maybe she really wouldn’t care that she didn’t have one. When I got married I told my friends at work I didn’t want a shower. And I had a lot of people I was close to at work. But those people were invited to the wedding and the shower my friends gave me.

          1. RussianInTexas*

            This is my take. If I am not a friend with someone, it would never even occur to feel bad or care if someone is planning a shower for them, or birthday celebration, or whatever. This would not be on my radar at all.

      4. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

        Eh, I don’t think it’s overly invested. I’d be concerned about making someone feel left out. If Arya doesn’t want a shower that’s fine, but if I were in that position I think I’d feel a bit slighted if nobody even asked me if I wanted one after another person had the full works. It’s not necessarily rational but I think it is prudent to take this kind of thing into account to avoid future conflicts.

        1. ApparentlyTheSpamFilterHatesMeNow(UsedToBeRUKiddingMe)*

          Maybe *management* not women, and only women coworkers should do the arranging.

        2. Artemesia*

          Nothing creates bad feelings in a workplace like leaving some people out of things that are done for others. Yes it is often unwise for women to take on this emotional labor — unless it is a job function e.g. the AA should probably be the person tasks with celebratory events, keep a calendar etc If birthdays are to be celebrated then leaving out one or two people makes those one or two people feel bad in most cases; people don’t care if their birthdays are celebrated generally but if everyone’s is EXCEPT yours, it is hard not to feel singled out for a snub. Same with showers — if Susie was showered then to ignore Arya will make her feel unvalued. The challenge is how to make sure this doesn’t happen without becoming the party planner only because of gender.

          1. Manchmal*

            I agree totally. Doing it for some and not others makes it look like favoritism or a popularity contest.

            I think that once management allowed one baby shower–and paid for it–they became obligated to treat employees equally and do it for everyone. It’s one thing to let people take an hour to eat cake in a conference room, but the company paid for food and some presents according to the OP. It’s a terrible look to do for some and not others.

            The OP doesn’t have to volunteer as organizer, but she could certainly bring it up to management (whoever approved and paid for the last one) to bring up these issues of unfairness. I don’t even really think that she has to check with the pregnant coworker first. What if she did, pregnant coworker said that she wanted one, and one still didn’t materialize. That would be worse! Pregnant coworker should not be put in that position. Instead, she should be given the option of declining a party that she could have if she wanted it.

            1. Kendra*

              The “paying for it” part is key to me; if the money really came from the company, and not from people voluntarily throwing a few bucks in the pot, you almost HAVE to do the same (or at the very, very least, write a check for an equal amount) for everybody else. Otherwise, you’re almost asking for someone to claim discrimination, or at least pitch a (sort-of justified) hissy fit, and it’s just opening a really bad can of worms.

          2. Friday*

            YES, this. I had the third baby in 14 months at OldJob and was the only one who didn’t get a shower. I don’t actually care one bit about a shower in general, but it felt like a snub and then when I came back from mat leave, I had job duties taken away and growth opportunities shut down, and it became An Issue that I had to leave on time every day for daycare pickup. Those obviously stung more than the shower, but it still makes me sad to think about my time there and how my baby was an inconvenience to the company when other babies were celebrated.

          3. Daisy Steiner*

            Yes!! I totally can take or leave at-work birthdays, but my team for some reason abruptly stopped celebrating them (and we’d done every one up till this point) and the first birthday we didn’t celebrate was my 30th. I’m not going to lie, I actually felt a little tearful at being so overlooked.

          4. Not for this one, no.*

            I would be one that would be (and was) very hurt over this kind of situation.

            When my father passed away and I got a card that was signed, I was grateful. That is until I got back to work a few days later to find that the very same week a coworker’s dog died and the office took up a collection- sent her a card, flowers, and a little stuffed dog.

            I still feel the sting 2 years later over that one.

            1. dramallama*

              Even if it’s in the wrong place I want to say how sorry I am that you had to try and cope with that on top of the grief you were already feeling. People just really don’t think things through sometimes.

        3. ApparentlyTheSpamFilterHatesMeNow(UsedToBeRUKiddingMe)*

          Even though the other party was several years ago? Personally I wouldn’t expect anything at all even if the other party was last week. I guess that’s just me though…

      5. Genny*

        The problem though is if everyone takes your advice (why is it my responsibility to assure office baby shower equity), you end up including and excluding people at random or, even worse, people get included/excluded due to likability, popularity, membership in a clique, etc.

        In theory, a manager should be looking out for this kind of thing, but it’s really easy for it to slip off their plate since party planning is probably the last item on their to-do list. I think it’s kind for others in the office to be aware of whatever milestones are normally celebrated and at least check in with the powers that be if they see someone potentially being left out. I certainly wouldn’t consider it being over-invested.

      6. Delphine*

        Seems like a reasonable amount of investment in making sure colleagues are treated equally to me.

      7. Holly*

        This isn’t odd at all. It’s making sure a coworker isn’t slighted, when the office culture has been ambiguous on showers.

      8. MommyMD*

        Agreed. OP can get a gift for baby by herself and give it to coworker privately. That’s what I do. Don’t worry about bringing others into it.

      9. Classroom Diva*

        Some of us (and I’m that kind of person) worry a lot about being fair and about other people’s feelings. So, I don’t think the OP’s concern is off-base at all. She is simply an empathetic person, and we care about such things.

        And, that should be okay.

        1. Parenthetically*

          Yes. Empathy does not become a negative or useless trait within the walls of your workplace.

    2. PurpleMonster*

      Second talking to the pregnant person. I could not imagine almost anything I’d hate more than a work baby shower (as someone who hates them in general) and I’d have been horrified if one had been arranged for me.

      1. Luisa*

        I specifically did not tell my team when I got married (we went to city hall) because I didn’t want a celebration. (When people figured it out 6 months later, one of my team members said, “Why didn’t you tell us? We would have had a party for you!” I said, “I know. That’s why I didn’t tell you.”)

        1. pleaset*

          “I know. That’s why I didn’t tell you.”

          This is the best.

          PS – I also got married that way, at our municipal building.

      2. That Girl From Quinn's House*

        Some cultures don’t do baby showers, because it’s considered to be bad luck to buy things for the baby until it’s born. I grew up in a Jewish neighborhood and baby showers were mostly not done for this reason.

        1. Legal Beagle*

          Yep. Because of this tradition, I had a work baby shower after the baby was born. Another good reason to ask first!

        2. RussianInTexas*

          Same in Russia! It’s bad luck, long the same vein as you are not suppose to celebrate a birthday early.

      3. Dagny*

        Work needs to know if a woman is pregnant because it’s good for people to have a heads-up about a planned, three-month absence from the office. It may also be good for people to be generally aware that the person’s health and energy levels may not be at 100% for a rather long time. (I am not saying that pregnant women are incapacitated, but the nausea and fatigue can be brutal.)

        But it seems a bit weird to go all pastel pink-and-blue on a coworker who probably hopes that people will continue to treat her like a competent, capable adult – just one who now happens to have a bigger family.

        1. Parenthetically*

          Basically 100% of the showers in my circle have moved away from the frilly tea parties of yore and towards a gender-inclusive, super-chill celebration of the pregnant person/couple, often involving a grill and beer as well as cute gifts. I think a work shower CAN be a way to happily acknowledge a pretty major life event/transition in a lovely, social, low-key way. There’s no rulebook that says it HAS to be a fussy pink-and-blue number with melted candy bars in diapers or competitions to see who can dress a babydoll blindfolded the fastest.

          1. Artemesia*

            I have been to many baby showers in my life and not at one have these icky games been played. I’m sure it happens but can’t imagine at a work shower and it isn’t all that common in non-work showers. The trend I see in my daughter’s circle is co-ed showers with an emphasis on party and de-emphasis on elaborate gifts.

            1. Parenthetically*

              Yeah, most of the baby and wedding showers I went to as a teenager were VERY MUCH the frilly tea party variety complete with pastel mints and mixed nuts and punch — all organized in a church hall by middle-aged church ladies whose idea of a good time involved no alcohol, ever. Hence the terrible games, I guess, though I reckon people would have a higher tolerance for “Make A Wedding Dress From Toilet Paper” with a few drinks in them.

              1. Jen2*

                But if the guest of honor can’t drink, it makes sense that the rest of the guests would abstain from drinking for one afternoon.

                1. Arielle*

                  Eh, I don’t know that that’s necessary. As the guest of honor at an upcoming baby shower, I have no problem with everyone else having a beer. We were going to do a create your own cocktail/mocktail station so everyone can just have whatever they want.

                2. Dagny*

                  But enough women might care that it’s probably good manners to not drink in front of her, at a party for her, the reason for which is the reason she cannot drink.

                3. Jane*

                  I’ve never attended a shower where there has been alcohol involved. It would feel really bizarre when the guest of honour isn’t able to drink! Usually people bring non alcoholic wine for a toast or something, but anyone wanting to drink alcohol would be looked at pretty askance (and I’m in the UK which has a heavy drinking culture).

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Agreed, I would not want to take on doing a baby shower at work.
      However, OP, if you feel strongly about doing something for Arya, you can go on your own and get her a card and something. My go-to is a modest amount of cash or gift card, depending on the person. (I do have exceptions to my rule.) One person was getting married and had a baby on the way. Since we were good friends I knew cash was tight, so I put money in the card. She was very happy with that.
      In a different scenario, a coworker was leaving. I knew she loved to read and she absolutely devoured books. I gave her a gift card to a near by bookstore. “I know exactly what I am going to get with this!”, she said. Since this coworker was outspoken, I knew if she did not like the gift card she would have no problem telling me. (sigh)

      Some times, OP, we have to fight that compulsion to do all things for all people. A good compromise is to make our own modest gesture. In order to keep the gesture modest, I say to myself, “Can I do this for everyone?” And I reduce the cost/effort to a level that I probably could do for everyone.

    4. A tester, not a developer*

      My only concern is that if OP asks Arya, and she says that she does want a shower, then someone really does have to follow through and provide one. Otherwise I think it’s even more hurtful – it’s one thing to just not think of having one, but it’s another to know it’s wanted and simply not do it.

      1. Lily Rowan*

        Yeah, that’s why the OP should talk to management first — is a shower in the cards, whether or not the OP ends up having to organize it? THEN the OP can ask Arya if she wants it.

        1. WantonSeedStitch*

          This. I’d go to the manager and say, “has anyone asked Arya if she would like a baby shower here at the office?” If the manager says they haven’t heard anything about it, the OP could say, “I was thinking since we gave Jamie a shower, it would be nice to do one for Arya as well if she wants one. If I ask her about it and she says yes, would it be OK with you? I’m happy to take charge of the planning since I brought it up.”

          1. Anne Elliot*

            This. I think it’s important to have advance authority for another reason: A lot of people, if you just asked them, “do you want a baby shower/birthday party/retirement party?” might feel obliged to say “no” or “I don’t care” when the answer is really yes, because that is in effect asking other people to spend money, time, and effort on them. It can be uncomfortable to say “yes” when we’re sort of socially conditioned to say “You don’t need to do that!”

            Having advance authority allows you to couch the question in terms of “something we would like to do for you, but only if you would enjoy it.” So it’s not: “Do you want this?” it’s “We want to do this, but only if it’s okay with you.”

    5. beepboopin*

      I would double check that there’s not some unspoken rule about how baby showers are conducted. My department just went on a baby boom (11 babies born within a 2 year period!) and it was the unspoken rule that showers were only thrown for the employees who were having their first child. So there were a few individuals who did not get an office shower but they were the ones who were on their 2nd or 3rd kid. Our management was the one who organized all the showers.

      1. Oxford Comma*

        That’s standard in my part of the world, workplace or no. You just do it for the first kid.

        1. Jen2*

          Yep, that’s standard here too. My department at work throws a shower for the first baby, and then usually does something small to celebrate before the mom goes out on maternity leave for subsequent babies. The last time we had an ice cream sundae bar. It was just a chance to gather around and chat for a few minutes, but there were no gifts.

      2. Artemesia*

        The formal etiquette rule is they are for first kid only; the shower is a sort of ‘welcome the mother to motherhood’ ritual — which of course makes it also a little odd in the workplace rather than social circle.

    6. Triumphant Fox*

      I don’t love work showers, but if you do one, I would strongly recommend having a company gift and making it clear that employees aren’t obligated to gift anything. If that gift is a gift card along with something tangible like swaddles, burp clothes, teething rings, whatever small. Make it a celebration for everyone who attends with treats/decor/whatever, but don’t make everyone gift.

      I had a shower at work (it’s the thing that’s done) and it was pretty uncomfortable. I was getting gifts from people who make significantly less than me, in other departments, who I barely knew and it made me feel really awful! Plus it’s not like I remember them very well now because they were part of a string of baby showers.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Yeah, definitely a good broad strategy! Give people who want to pitch in the chance, but don’t make it an expected thing.

        1. Marmaduke*

          My husband’s company does a dipes-and-wipes shower for each new parent. The idea is that anybody who chooses to gift is encouraged to bring a small pack of diapers or wipes. It seems to work out nicely because the gifts are practical for parents and relatively cheap for the giver.

      2. Truthfully I am really not into office celebrations*

        In response to your 2nd paragraph, where I work, folks seem to have this same attitude. Just because I make less money than you, I am not entitled to like you and wish to give you a present for your important life experiences because I am not your pay grade? I personally find it insulting and extremely elitist that we are not invited to contribute. It is a lot easier to contribute than do a separate present to someone you like and respect for something that is a major event in their life.

        Most of us have no idea of how we present at work. Perhaps, something you did made an impression on someone else you do not know…perhaps something you did gave inspiration to someone when they needed it…perhaps, something you did made office changes that benefited someone you did not know needed that benefit… perhaps you were the bright spot who opened the door for them, held the elevator or even said “good morning” on an extremely bad day. Most of us really don’t know how much we are truly liked or appreciated at work until these types of events.
        Trust me, no one is contributing in an office with more than 25 people in it who do not wish to contribute.

    7. ACDC*

      If I were the pregnant person, I would tell my coworkers I would happily accept gifts, but hard pass on the party lol (half-kidding)

    8. cheese please*

      PCBH – I just want to thank you and all your coworkers for being so thoughtful and generous to your colleague. It may not work with every company, but it is so great!

      FWIW, even just a nice card signed by the team and a grocery store gift card (or something similar) can be very thoughtful for new parents. It doesn’t need to be a big deal!

      1. ApparentlyTheSpamFilterHatesMeNow(UsedToBeRUKiddingMe)*

        For new parents (*people I actually know away from work) I generally gift them with housecleaning/meal delivery services for X amount of time (around three months or so). I only had one baby and it was 32 years ago but boy howdy do I remember having zero energy to do anything and loving the pizza delivery guy. I don’t even like pizza.

        *I’m not that closely acquainted with a lot of people of child bearing age anymore so this is a lot more rare these days. It happens though…

    9. Roy G Biv*

      My department in my medium-sized company has instituted a tradition of a diaper shower, where each person brings a package of diapers. We take the parent-to-be out for lunch and shower them with one of the more practical items a new parent is going to use a lot. Full disclosure; one team member had two children in diapers so they were able to direct the rest of us on what a newborn/very young baby is likely to use. Also we’re in an area of the country where everyone drives to work, so there was no fear of sending someone off to catch the train, laden with a many months supply of diapers. And it allows equal-opportunity shower participation without resorting to cake and games and all the things I would do for a family member, but not a colleague.

  2. Eric*

    #3, keep in mind you can also ask about your specific concerns directly. For example, “what’s your view on media training for faculty” or “do we have separate people for IT versus content”.

    1. Asta*

      I agree that you can ask about these things but I would try to make your questions a bit more nuanced as they might sound strange if phrased like this!

      Asking about the main responsibilities and what success in the role looks like, and about how the department is structured, will tell you if you’re expected to wear too many hats.

      Asking about their “view” on media training could backfire as it might sound like *you* think it’s unnecessary and will play weirdly to anyone who does know their stuff. I would ask them about their approach to it – which is not just semantics as it sounds more like a question about how they do it.

    2. Yorick*

      But I don’t know if OP3 really has specific concerns. She seems to think all different kinds of issues can come from the manager not having experience with the role. So that’s what she needs to get at.

      1. Legal Beagle*

        Exactly this. You don’t know what issues may come up – that’s the problem! And asking about multiple, specific scenarios based on problems at your last/current job is going to reflect poorly on you.

        1. Kendra*

          Yes, definitely. You can’t make assumptions about NewJob based on things that went wrong at OldJob, because you’re dealing with completely different people and circumstances. Carrying that forward makes you look like someone who can’t roll with it when things go wrong, or at least won’t let it go afterward, which is not generally something that’s going to inspire a hiring manager to think, “ooh, I want this person on my team!”

          Also, asking about your potential manager’s experience could tell you a lot, but not everything; they might be someone who’s had even more experience than you, but thinks that anyone who doesn’t do things EXACTLY as they would is definitely doing them wrong. Or, they could understand that they’re completely inexperienced (or at least lack your depth of knowledge), and therefore be much more willing to actually listen to someone they see as an expert. You could be better off trying to gauge how they view and value your potential role, and whether or not your personalities and work styles might mesh well, than just finding out if they’ve done your job before.

  3. Asta*

    #1 If someone talks a lot and isn’t reading cues, practically speaking it’s really difficult for other people to tell them to stop because they’d have to be able to get a word in to do it.

    I would advise him to practise pausing and leaving a space so the other person can talk if they want to. It will take practice, but it would be a good habit to try to get into.

    As to visiting the bar, the head brewer and business partner may not actually be the person serving on the bar. I have a few friends who have run bars and pubs, or work in them now, and I think it’s worth pointing out that nobody goes to a bar wanting to be talked at – if he talks at the customers, it’s not going to go down well.

    Someone who advises him to be ‘quiet/normal’ isn’t being very helpful, because they’re advising him to try and be something he’s not.

    1. Christmas*

      Someone who advises him to be ‘quiet/normal’ isn’t being very helpful, because they’re advising him to try and be something he’s not.

      Agreed. Even if he manages to be relatively “quiet“ for a couple of hours at the bar, how can he maintain that if he gets the job? Obviously it’s possible to learn these skills, but it sounds like he may struggle in this particular workplace before he does. As you noted, Asta, this is a profession where being overly talkative or an over-sharer will likely not go over well. I stopped patronizing my favorite bar altogether last year due to a new regular bartender that awkward and socially inept.

      I hope Alex can find a job where his talkative nature is accepted, welcomed, maybe even an asset!

      1. Artemesia*

        Showing up at the bar is so creepy stalkerish and inappropriate attempt to circumvent the hiring process that I would think it would nail any chance the guy has of being hired there.

        1. MommyMD*

          Hard agree. Terrible terrible advice. Now not only is he an endless talker, he’s a weird stalker too.

        2. AnnaBananna*

          Hard DISAGREE, actually.

          The food and beverage industry is, socially, usually the opposite of a corporate environment. This is where ‘gumption’ actually works. Showing up and imbibing at a possible employer shows that you’re interested in learning more about their menu and environment. Chatting up bar staff is a great way to network and get feedback about the company. In fact I can’t think of one restaurant or bar that this wouldn’t have worked at, in my serving days. That said, this particular employee has given him a glipse of the culture, and he should really keep that in mind when he’s interviewing again (I’m confused about the next step??). If the next manager is super stoic, and he can’t find anyone else on staff who is ‘perky’, then it might not be the place for him.

          That said, it’s always wise to pay attention to eye cues. If the person you’re speaking to stops making eye contact consistently (even a bartender), then it’s really time to clam up for a while.

          Sidenote, I once had a (wait staff) trainer who was covered in tats and piercing. For a fine dining restaurant, this was unheard of in Newport Beach in the late 90’s. I asked how he was able to get away with it and he said that he does not apologize for who he is, and his sales prove that the clientele just want genuine people regardless of what they look like/which subculture they belong to. He went on that in the beginning he had a GM that told him to never try to limit his personality, and that by shoving his personality into a box would ultimately affect his sales/happiness at work, and encouraged him to let his freak flag fly. Cool GM, if you ask me. :)

          1. CMart*

            Very much agree with all of this.

            a) having a meal and a drink at the place you hope to get hired at, chatting with the manager and the other staff so they can see your personality and whether or not you’re a tolerable person to work in a high-stress environment with is still A Done Thing in the beverage industry.

            b) a bartender has to be able to read the customers. Some want to talk, some don’t, very few want the bartender to talk at them for prolonged periods of time. The bartenders my regulars complained about to me the most were the ones who wouldn’t shut up about themselves.

          2. Yankee in Dixieland*

            This kind of networking and face time might be worth it and not give off creepy vibes if it were done PRIOR to applying or interviewing. Once you interview, showing up soon after (and not having received an offer of employment or even having heard back yet) is putting implicit and weird pressure on the whole situation. I’ve had multiple candidates do this after interviews when they were not patrons beforehand, and it just let me know that they do not understand or pick up on appropriate social behavior–extended eye contact with me, taking up too much of the other bartenders’ time, trying to engage me in direct conversation further about the role, etc. They’re looking for a side door into the job. That doesn’t fly in this kind of customer-facing role. They were definitely not selected, and all have gone into my “weird stories I tell” party folder.

          3. Anonathon*

            I agree! Long time restaurant / bar person here. Showing up to places where you want to work is completely normal. It’s only creepy if it ignores obvious social norms and cues. Going there once for a drink after applying is not weird. If you got along well with the bartender, you could even tell them you applied, and admit that you were too talkative during the interview but that you want the job because [insert compliments about the place]. That would be a trust your gut / only mention it if it seems ok kind of thing.

            I switched from restaurant work to office work and that’s why I read this site! It sure is different. I might go back. I miss it.

    2. Maria Lopez*

      The bottom line is that being a bartender is NOT a job for Alex if he talks too much and overshares. Whether or not the advice is weird (I don’t think it is) is irrelevant, because I doubt that Alex can do what was suggested anyway.

      1. EventPlannerGal*

        Agreed. Hospitality roles are great for people who can be friendly and hold a good conversation *when required* – not socially awkward people who just can’t stop talking. Two very different things.

        1. CmdrShepard4ever*

          This! I have been to bars/Ubers where I don’t want to talk to anyone I just want to ride in peace or drink a good beer by myself and not talk to anyone. Other times I am all up for talking to the driver/bartender, but a big part of that is a good flow back and forth of conversation, not just the driver/bartender talking the whole time. As a driver/bartender being able to judge when a person wants to talk or be silent is a key part of providing a good experience. I have had drivers who did not get this, while it is not a huge negative it does impact the experience. I have seen some drivers now that let you customize your experience you can order off the menu what kind of ride you want:

          1) quite ride (silence)
          2) comedic ride (driver tries to be funny tells jokes)
          3) the philosophy ride (brings up deep conversation topics)
          4) life story (driver gives you their life story)

          You can just tell them what kind of ride you want “Give me a number ____.”

          1. Jackie*

            My nail salon does the same – it’s awesome. Choose between silence, small talk, or best-friend level gossip.

          2. Alanna of Trebond*

            Uber now occasionally highlights what drivers are good at and I always have a little dread when I see “good conversation” pop up. (Most of them really have been good conversationalists! But especially when I’m riding by myself, I’m often late/stressed, and what I need is either to do work on my phone in peace or sit there quietly and chill out, and not hoping for anything beyond the basic “hi/bye/nice weather today” pleasantries.)

            1. wittyrepartee*

              What about “local gossip”? I’m down to hear all about old Mrs. Rafferty and the thirty cats.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        Yeah. If this is a customer facing role, the inability to shut up without being directly told to do so is going to make him very unattractive as a hire.

        (Had a trip to Hardees where an elderly man was playing guitar. I was all set to find it charming… but it turned out we WOULD interact with him as we ate our burgers. Constantly.)

      3. MusicWithRocksInIt*

        Yup. A bartender needs to be able to listen and respond well. Someone who talks so much they need people to directly tell them to stop will probably be bad at both of those things.

        1. AnnaBananna*

          And I would say that this bartender clearly needs more sidework if he’s got the time to run his mouth. hehe

    3. Massmatt*

      I think the advice is odd not because it’s telling the friend to act contrary to his nature, but that it seems to suppose that an employer, after interviewing someone and telling them they talk too much (interview didn’t go well), is going to change their mind when they see him sit silently at a bar for 2 hours. It’s out of touch. The interview didn’t go well, maybe the friend talks too much and can make an effort to change, maybe not, but this ship has sailed! Tell the friend to move on.

      1. Kathleen_A*

        Yes, exactly. Whether Alex talked too much or not is not material. The interviewer decided he did, and if Alex now goes into this place and sits quietly…well, what in the heck will that do? Seem really weird and out of touch, that’s what. I hate to use this word since it’s wildly overused, but to me, it would seem positively creepy.

        So what Alex should do is assess this as possible advice for his *next* interview with *another* company. Maybe he should rehearse interviews with a kind but knowledgeable friend. That would be far more helpful than haunting a brewery that didn’t want to hire him!

        1. Kelly L.*

          Yes–if he’s not already a regular, it’s going to look more like “our rejected bartender candidate came in here to brood at us.”

          1. Kathleen_A*

            Ooh, very well put – “brood” is the perfect verb. I’d be afraid he’d become one of those “Odd People We’ve Interviewed” stories. I’m not saying Alex is odd, but he would come across that way. It just sounds like an very bad idea to me.

      2. Kelly L.*

        Right! I’m generally pretty quiet, for example, whenever it so happens that I’m in a bar by myself for a while, but that’s totally different from how I would act in an interview–they’re just very different situations, despite happening in the same building. Being quiet as a customer isn’t going to prove anything about how he’ll act as an employee.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      As I read along I wondered if the friend even wanted to fix his over-talking problem. Asking others to cue him is sort of shifting the work on to other people. For one thing they probably aren’t going to do and a second issue is this could lead to longer discussions starting with “WELL, I was JUST…..”. n000000.

      A couple things to point out to your friend:
      My wise friend pointed out it takes confidence to allow silence into a conversation. A person has to know that there can be lulls in conversation and that is okay.

      Younger me used to be concerned about talking too much. So I decided to “know where I was going BEFORE I opened my mouth.” For example, if I wanted to tell a story about a cute thing my dog did the other day this does not have to include stories going back to when the dog was six months old. The point is he did something cute the other day, so I should stick to just that point. I never saw how to gauge these things so I had to work on it myself and I still try to watch. You can also point out to your friend that many people have to watch how much they are talking. It’s not an usual problem to have.

      As far as the immediate quandary about going to the place and sitting for two hours in silence, I’d say skip it.
      The person has already made up their minds. It could be that the person is not there when they go or the person is so busy they fail to notice this person’s silence. It could be that the hiring person actually had a couple reasons but only openly stated that reason for not hiring him. This job is lost and he should move on.

      1. Christmas*

        My wise friend pointed out it takes confidence to allow silence into a conversation.


      2. Michaela Westen*

        I once saw an interview with Bob Newhart and he mentioned one of the things he admired about Jack Benny was he was not afraid of silence. He would stop and look around with a long, slow reaction to whatever had just happened, and it made the bit twice as funny. :)

      3. JayNay*

        “Asking others to cue him is sort of shifting the work on to other people.”
        SO MUCH THIS! If this dude were my friend, I’d advise him to let the job go and take the learning experience instead: apparently some people find it off-putting that he talks so much and it just cost him this opportunity. Time to work on that, maybe!
        Another tip for becoming better at casual conversation is to ask questions. That a) shifts the conversation to the other person so you don’t monologue on, and b) helps you gauge how interested they are in the conversation. If you get a super-short reply and no follow-up question, time to be quiet for a bit and see if the other person picks the convesation back up.
        It’s key that this guy does his own work on this and does not place the burden to others.

  4. Lena Clare*

    That said, I do think going with a friend is a better option than hanging out alone for two hours at the place you just interviewed at, but if he’s there with a friend I don’t know how he’d demonstrate his ability to be quiet unless they sit there in silence, which would be even weirder than the first option.
    This made me laugh so much.

    Yes, the advice ision Charlie is weird. I’d let it go.

    1. Angelinha*

      So to some extent this logic makes sense to me! “Hey, Charlie thinks you are too wild and boisterous. Go hang out with a friend for a couple hours just chatting and acting like a normal person, so he sees a different side of you that he can imagine working in his brewery.”

      I’m not saying it’s a great solution or anything, and idk if it would WORK, but….I get it!

      1. valentine*

        Go hang out with a friend for a couple hours just chatting
        But this is the opposite of the job. It’s like telling someone to go to a library as a patron when they want to work there.

        Talkativeness is Alex’s normal; nothing inherently wrong with that.

        1. Artemesia*

          Well yeah actually there is something wrong with it. Talkative is selfish; most people like to have their share of conversation; people who natter on and on hogging the space are inconsiderate and selfish. I say that as someone who has had to master that tendency myself and knows that it is always something I have to be mindful of. This tendency in a bar tender would be poison as it is their job to listen if a customer wants to talk not blab endlessly at customers. We were at a dinner party the other night where one woman did this — endless braying so others had limited chance to contribute; we had her at one of our own dinner parties earlier and she did the same thing; won’t be inviting her again.

          1. MassMatt*

            We all know people like this. It’s bad enough in a social setting; you can simply not invite them or go over to their house again. It’s worse when it’s someone at work, where you have no choice but spend time with them. In that case it’s not just being self-centered, it’s also detracting from productivity.

          2. AnnaBananna*

            I wouldn’t say that it’s *always* selfish to ‘natter’. I can still remember my grandfather saying that he appreciated when others yammered on, so he didn’t have to think of something to say. LOL

            And I’m kinda getting the ex smoker/preacher vibe coming from this comment. Everything okay with you today? You’re a little ascerbic for a Friday. ;)

          3. EventPlannerGal*

            “Talkative is selfish”

            I mean… Talkativeness to the point where the speaker is constantly dominating the conversation, interrupting others, ignoring people’s social cues or making others feel uncomfortable is selfish. Just being a talkative person isn’t selfish.

            1. Anon disagree*

              I have a relative like the one described. He is not selfish. He just simply cannot read social cues and thinks his stories are interesting when they are NOT.

              1. Anon for this*

                You know him and I don’t, but telling long stories and ignoring the audience’s disinterest is self-centered behavior by definition.

                I have a relative like this also (most people probably do) and while she has some good qualities, yes she is generally a selfish person.

      2. boo bot*

        I think it makes sense to some extent – one way in which hospitality is different from some other industries is that it’s not inherently weird to show up at a place you just interviewed at and drink a beer, the way it might be for an office, or a dental practice. There are, of course, always ways to *make* it weird, like sitting silently in the corner for two hours, radiating silence.

        It’s actually not terrible advice if he just goes and is chill, without the expectation that this will be an interview do-over; it’s a good idea to get to know people in the industry, and making a good impression on whoever he meets is a solid plan. Interrupting the owner in the middle of his own high-stakes situation (the opening of his brewery) to try to get him to change his mind about something completely different is a much less solid plan.

        Really the best, least awkward version of this is that Alex goes with Charlie, who already has a connection to both him and the owner, and can just say hi and be natural, without a performative bout of silence. Why can’t Charlie go with him?

    2. Yorick*

      The advice doesn’t make sense. A too-talkative person can be quiet for two hours, but they still won’t know where to draw the line when they’re in a social setting where they should talk but not too much.

    3. smoke tree*

      I know a few people in the brewing industry, and I don’t think it would be particularly weird to visit the brewery after interviewing there. But I don’t think it’s likely the owner is going to have time or care enough to closely observe Alex’s behaviour while he’s there. It makes me wonder why Charlie would suggest it, unless the owner is notorious for spying on customers.

  5. Approval is optional*

    I think a key point for LW2 is that it isn’t ‘ just an office that had a shower for someone once, organized by their close friend’: it’s an office that had a shower that management paid for.

    1. YetAnotherUsername*

      Agreed. If work paid for the shower and a present then Arya is very likely to feel left out if she doesn’t get offered the same. I agree that not all women want baby showers at work, but I would estimate that more than 50% of mothers would be upset not to be at least offered one in that situation.

      The fact that another father didn’t have a shower since the last one isn’t really a good indication since its very common for men not to have baby showers.

      OP i think you should try to suss out first if Arya would want one – you may already know her well enough to know the answer to that. And then second assuming she does want one approach your manager to ask about it. Alison is right that approaching the person who organised one for her friend doesn’t make sense.

      You never know there might already be plans. Recently I and two colleagues approached management asking permission to book a room for a baby shower only to be told plans for one were already well underway.

      1. Clisby*

        I think OP should talk to her manager first. If anybody’s going to try to maintain shower fairness, it should be management.

    2. Koala dreams*

      Yes, I feel it’s different if it’s just same level collegues that organize something versus managers taking part. And if the company paid for the party/gifts doubly so. In the ideal world, the manager would have thought about that before agreeing to pay. The OP can bring it up to the manager, but from there they won’t have that much say in it.

      If you do decide to organize a work celebration, I think it would be nice get some cake or fruit and a gift card. That is simple to do and more sustainable in the long run compared to a super nice shower. Maybe the other parents in the office can come up with ideas of what kind of gift card and and snacks are most suitable.

    3. Stripes*

      I’ve been the person who missed out and it hurts a lot. Our work does a big celebration when you achieve a certain thing. I achieved it, and everyone knew, but no one bothered to celebrate. Two others achieved it in the same year as me and each had an expensive lunch/afternoon tea thrown for them and a thoughtful present – all paid by the office. There is a team which is responsible for hosting the celebration, and it hurt to know they felt it appropriate to do nothing. It still makes me angry/sad.

      1. Anne Elliot*

        This is why I firmly believe it should be office policy what gets celebrated and what doesn’t and who is responsible for doing the heavy lifting of organizing, money collecting, etc. If it’s just left to the coworkers of each employee to decide whether an occasion is marked, and in what way, then some people get things and other people don’t. If you are an unpopular employee, or your coworkers are supportive but introverted/not party planners, or you are yourself a quiet type — people get overlooked and feelings get hurt.

      2. Artemesia*

        Exactly — it is the being left out that hurts not the lack of a party per se. I still remember something that happened over 50 years at my first job where the boss did a Christmas letter to staff of about 100 where he mentioned by name most of the staff noting various accomplishments or noteworthy characteristics or events; they were often trivial things but just little mentions. Because there were dozens of names of course as I read I was thinking ‘oh I wonder what he will say about me’. The answer was ‘nothing’; my name didn’t appear. I’d say about 20 of the 100 staff were not mentioned. I still remember how awful it made me feel as if I were nothing and had done nothing important and was not appreciated. I was also young and new to work and it made me feel like a complete loser. Being left out hurts — it isn’t about the cake.

    4. Jemima Bond*

      I agree this is a key point. The precedent has (unwisely imho) already been set. The ship of potential hurt feelings has sailed. LW’s best bet is probably to remember that if Arya is offended not to be offered a management-funded party and gifts, it’s management’s fault not LW’s.

  6. Aleta*

    OP1, I don’t have literal bar experience but I have a lot of customer service experience and hang out at My Local Bar a lot. A caveat that I live in the Midwest and you should adjust for your general regional social norms.

    A generally talkative personality can be good because it means you’re less likely to be exhausted by the endless social interaction, but actively being chatty while on the job isn’t great in the vast majority of situations. I do have conversations with my bartenders, because we’re friends, but they’re very even exchanges and they end the second they have to serve a customer. In the actual customer service exchanges, it’s “what can I get you”/being asked for recommendations/checking ID/etc etc. Very very rarely does it ever extend beyond that, and only if it’s slow and there’s no one else waiting.

    That said, I think it’s actually easier to Tell if you’re doing talking much because most places have general procedures for their transactions, sometimes even codified in scripts. It’s a business transaction, you shouldn’t actually be getting to the point of having a conversation unless it’s reaaaaalllly slow and also you’ve done all your sidework and the person initiated the conversation. I’ve definitely seen chatty people just straight up not being able to cope with that, and NEEDING to have at least a short conversation with every customer even if there’s a line stretching to the door, which is probably the concern here. Bartending and register work requires verbal efficiency.

    However, the advice given IS super weird, because it’s really unlikely the owner is going to pay attention to him at the opening, in the context of the job, at a thing that isn’t the interview. Like, yes, social experiences can influence hiring in these settings, but that’s a cumulative experience, not just one time. The owner/interviewer is going to weigh how he behaved in the interview far far above how he behaved at a single social event.

  7. Asta*

    #4 If you buy it yourself it might not get replaced if someone else breaks it or it goes missing.

    1. TootsNYC*

      I needed a trackpad; because my OS wasn’t advanced enough for it, I needed IT to change settings to “attach” it via Bluetooth. They insisted that I could only connect a peripheral that was owned by the company. That meant it needed to be approved with fancy steps, which was going to take too long.

      (So I bought a trackball, which connected via USB, and put int he request for the trackpad.)

  8. Christmas*

    Letter 1 reminds me of back when I dated a guy that frequently told me I “talked too much” and was an “over-sharer.” We had a large group of mutual friends, and my boyfriend would give me regular reports about my behavior at a social gathering and who he noticed was annoyed by my talking.

    Soon, he introduced a plan to help me “be quiet” by squeezing my leg under the table every time he felt I was going overboard, with the understanding that I’d immediately wrap-up and stop talking. I tried this several times, but even when he gave me successful “reports“ on my social interactions I just felt horrible. Like something was fundamentally wrong with me, and I was inconveniencing or alienating people I cared about.

    Until one day I just got tired of it and kept talking while that jerk was increasingly forcefully squeezing my leg under the table. That was 11 years ago, and now I have a career where my talkative nature is an asset, and I’m surrounded by friends who love me exactly as I am. Hopefully Alex will move on and find a better fit for himself, rather than stressing about changing who he is for this one brewery job. Sorry this is kind of long, but it hit home. It just seems awful and icky, the game of telephone and the play-acting to “prove” to someone that he can “be quiet.”

    1. Bowserkitty*

      Typical gaslighter. I’m glad you’re out of that. I went through something similar.

      1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        Me too. It lasted until I said, “Be as it may, you’ll notice that of the two of us I am the one with friends (he had none – all social interaction was with my circle), so I’m thinking my style works fine.”

        He dumped me on the spot and I wasn’t sorry at all.

        1. EH*

          That’s awesome!

          I also have an ex who tried to train me into being less excitable and talkative. Ugh.

        2. Christmas*

          To “Gumption Ahead” –
          Similar epilogue in my relationship!! After we broke up, our group of mutual friends (which he had increasingly referred to as HIS friends and frequently said that that only put up with me because I was with him) all started to drift away from him once we broke up! Some of my friendships with most of them actually got stronger, and in fact a few told me that the opposite of his statement was true: they really only tolerated him to hang out with ME! A lot of damage was already done, but it felt really good to keep some of those friends and hear that they liked me without “correction.”
          I’m sorry you had to go through that too. But so glad we are out of it, and have learned from it!

          1. wittyrepartee*

            Yeah, in reality they were all going “why does that jerk keep on grabbing Christmas’ leg under the table. It looks like it hurts!”

      1. boo bot*

        Mine too. I hate that guy.

        The image of you just going on talking anyway is like a triumphant movie moment for me, so thank you for that, Christmas. I used to be in one of those “we’ll discuss your performance later,” situations (with signals throughout the event that it wasn’t going well) and it was nerve-wracking. It was literally years later that I somehow shook off the last dregs of it, and realized that I don’t actually have any kind of social anxiety and never had before that relationship – it’s just that when you’re being constantly scrutinized, it’s not crazy to develop a level of paranoia.

        1. Linguist*

          I’m sorry this happened to you.

          I think we all have a level of insecurity that can easily be reinforced by someone like that.

        2. Christmas*

          Boo bot:
          I’m so sorry to hear you went through that too. Wasn’t it such an icky feeling? Just knowing all during a party/dinner/movie/cafe hang-out that the “talk” was coming later… Ugh. I suffer from social anxiety, which I’ve always had to some degree, but was extreeeeemely exacerbated by that relationship. It was 11 years ago, and I still struggle with what you aptly describe as a “level of paranoia.” I’m still working on not apologizing all the time (Ex: “I’m sorry for going on and on!” or “You must be so sick of me by now!” etc.)
          Getting better with time, though! And I’m glad you got a kick out of me talking on brazenly while this idiot was frantically squeezing my leg! (Worth it!)

    2. Rogue*

      I am so sorry you went through this and I wanted to share your story really touched me.

      I had a very similar experience. The funny thing is, I have social anxiety and my issue was being too quite. He would tell me how people were annoyed by my not speaking enough and even said I was going to ruin our wedding because I was not talkative enough. When he felt like I was not doing my part he would make snide comments (always just a joke I was being to sensitive about) or grab me and force me into a corner to be told to talk more. At the end of the day I think some people are just looking for something to criticize and it has nothing to do with the person they are doing it to.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        “Ruin” your wedding!? “Force you into a corner?” Oh ick. I hope this is your ex because he sounds horrible. Or did he have an epiphany?

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          Grabbing someone and forcing them into a corner to tell them to be more social will TOTALLY inspire them to be more social! works even better if they have social anxiety!! My god, I am so angry at your, hopefully, ex, right now.

          1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            nested this comment wrong because of how angry i was. Should be a response to Rogue. Sorry.

            1. Rogue*

              He is now my ex-husband of a few months after all sorts of hell. He never did get me to be more social, despite his efforts. I am in a happier place now and I hope for his next partners sake that he finds his peace.

      2. Anne Elliot*

        I’d tell you the same thing I’d tell Christmas, above: Just throw the whole boyfriend out.

      3. Christmas*


        Thank you for sharing your experience! It means a lot. I have social anxiety too, and my ex seriously exacerbated it. I totally get your situation. When you’re in the middle of it, and have been with someone for a while who has slowly and manipulatively woven this scrutiny and pressure into the dynamic, it’s hard to see it for what it is in the moment. I can imagine my ex telling me I was “going to ruin [event]” and my response would’ve been “I’m sorry; I’ll try not to.” It was so hard to see just how problematic all of it was. My ex was often gas-lighting me in similar ways to what you describe (saying that comments were “just a joke” and not to be “too sensitive”) Classic manipulative behavior. All it does is say, “I can treat you however I want and you’re not allowed to be upset.”

        I think you’re absolutely right about some people just needing to criticize or put down others, and that it has more to do with themselves. In retrospect, I wonder if my ex felt inadequate or awkward next to me because I made twice as much money as him and paid for most of our living expenses. He didn’t even have a car and had to borrow mine. I think he felt powerless, like he not only couldn’t provide, but was living off me, and had to establish/regain some sort of power over me. I’m glad you’re no longer with that guy and hope you continue to find people who love you just as you are!!!

    3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Did we date the same guy? Mine complained more about the 1:1 talking. So there was no under-table leg-squeezing. He didn’t talk at all himself though. So I had a choice between the two of us sitting in awkward silence all day, or me talking too much. Then he finally ended things (it was a toxic relationship where I was not even realizing that it was bad for me and I needed to get out, so I stuck around until he got out instead), I met a new guy about a year later, and lo and behold my new boyfriend was asking me why I was so quiet and talked too little!

      My Silent Guy also stepped on my foot under the table once because he assumed I was about to tell his friends about an ONS I’d had before I met him (I wasn’t, and it was not until a few months later that it even dawned on me why he’d done the weird stepping on my foot thing). Nothing like assuming the worst of your partner to help your relationship blossom! I guess in his mind, I talked so much that it was fair to expect just about anything to pop out of my mouth. Ironically, Silent Bob prided himself on being a good listener.

      I agree that we cannot be something we’re not. If Alex talks, and the owner of Beards R Us Brewery does not like employees who talk, then Beard R Us is not a good fit for Alex and Alex should keep looking.

    4. MissDisplaced*

      Hopefully, you kicked that boyfriend to the curb!
      Jeez! Getting regular “reports” about your behavior. Whatta Jerkface.

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        Totally! The reports after the fact is the worst part about this. “Are you my manager? No? Then stfu.”

        Glad he is your ex, Christmas. What a horrible experience.

    5. Pomona Sprout*

      OMG, that dude’s behavior was downright disturbingly controlling! It gave me the creeps to just read about it. I’m pretty sure I literally breathed a sigh of relief when I got to the third paragraph and saw the words “that jerk, ” because it wss that I realized that you definitely, for sure you realized just HOW out of line he was being. Yay for getting out of unhealthy relationsips with scary gaslighters!

    6. Parenthetically*

      “my boyfriend would give me regular reports about my behavior at a social gathering and who he noticed was annoyed by my talking”

      Holy sh*t that guy. Throw him in the bin where he belongs. Wow.

    7. Arts Akimbo*

      Ugh, Christmas, I just want to hug you! I’m so glad you’re out of that relationship!

    8. Observer*

      I think that there is a fundamental difference between your experience and what’s happening here. In your case it’s pretty clear that you were just fine and had a jerk of a boyfriend who was the problem. I’m glad he’s an ex of many years standing.

      From what the OP says, their friend actually DOES have a problem though. Of course he shouldn’t change who he is just to get a particular job. But someone who routinely needs to be told to stop talking by multiple people is going to have a problem with relationships, a lot of social interactions and even in many jobs that are not people heavy. This behavior is not just “being talkative” which can be a real plus in many situations. This is closer to being in the area of “basic getting along with people skills”.

      1. dramallama*

        I think you might be reading more than the OP wrote; there’s literally only one person (the interviewer) who says that the friend talks too much. So the jump from ‘the interviewer says he talked to much so my friend came up with this weird plan’ to “someone who routinely needs to be told to stop talking by multiple people” is pretty weird, frankly.

        1. Parenthetically*

          Actual quote from the OP: “Alex has trouble reading certain social cues and generally needs to be told to stop talking directly.”

  9. Jolie*

    I’m an employment rights and employability advisor for a charity, and I do quote or link to Ask a Manager SO Much!

    1. Another Alison*

      I use it all the time for my work therapy program for adults struggling with mental illness, addiction, and homelessness. AAM letters can be a great exercise in assertive communication, ethics, and particularly for the population I work with, employee rights, ADA, and how to discuss barriers to employment like past terminations, gaps in employment, etc. in a favorable way. Plus I can read it at work and call it research.

    2. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      I send appropriate links to all my friends when they come to me with a management conundrum

    3. hayling*

      I quote AAM all the time! Once my boss and I searched the archives during our 1:1 to figure out how to handle an issue I was having with one of my DRs.

  10. Career Tech Teacher*

    #5… I have done the same thing for several years with my high school kids. They enjoy it and often have interesting incite and suggestions to the questions posed.

    1. E*

      Yes! This is a perfect place to use these. I wish I AAM had existed(and I had known about it) when I was working in career and tech ed, it would have been great for discussions. Even without discussions, I have referenced many situations and pieces of advice in less formal teaching settings.

    2. OrigCassandra*

      Absolutely. Useful in several of the college and graduate-level courses I teach. I delighted in the letter from the person who had been phished into a gift-card scam — absolutely perfect for my layperson infosec course, and Alison’s response was *chef’s kiss* as always. (A couple of commenters on that one also got screenshotted for my slides because what they said was so useful.)

    3. Blue Anne*

      I love this. I already thought that the idea of doing it at management meetings was great, doing it with high school students is absolutely fantastic.

  11. Uldi*

    #1 Charlie’s advice isn’t useful at all. It’s just not going to accomplish anything. Alex would probably be better off looking for another line of work. When people talk to bartenders outside of ordering/paying, they’re looking for someone to listen to their problems or situations, not offer their own. I was taught (yes, I took a bartending class), “A good bartender is a good listener.”

    1. kittymommy*

      I was thinking this as well. While having a friendly bartender/server can be useful sometimes, not being able to pick up on social cues to end the conversation can be a detriment. I go out to eat quite frequently with friends (2-3x for dinner during a week minimum) and sit at the bar almost exclusively and while we like having a friendly bartender that we can chat with having one that stands there for a solid 15 min. (this actually happened last night) telling us about their relationship issues and what they ate for the week is… a bit much. And it puts them behind on their own work.

      Regardless, I’m not sure how Charlie’s advice is going to help Alex. Simply from logistics, as someone else mentioned, the interviewer would actually need to be on the premises and on the floor to observe this.

      1. $!$!*

        Just last night hubby and I went out to eat (the restaurant was super busy) and we had to endure a server showing us his baby crawling in a video…yes the baby is cute but it was awkward when the manager came over and told the server to get back to his own tables lol

    2. dramallama*

      OP doesn’t say Alex was applying to be a bartender or a server though, there are lots of other jobs you might be trying to get at a brewery/bar.

  12. Asta*

    #3 I understand your frustrations (especially about the media training) but I don’t think experience is what to look for. Many people have experience on paper that doesn’t reflect their personality or competence. And really you want more in a manager than someone who only trusts your judgement when they happen to have relevant expertise, but maybe doesn’t when they don’t.

    I have had two really bad managers who were both respected industry stalwarts. They had the right experience but were egotistical and unsupportive, so the experience didn’t help.

    In your shoes I would look for some other things which, if they’re there, will mean experience doesn’t matter. As I mentioned above I would want to know how the department / communications unit is structured, who owns what, and how success in the role is measured. I would also want to know about their management style and how they support their staff day to day. And I would be trying to think of questions that get at whether they trust their staff and let them use the skills and expertise they were hired for.

    You don’t need a manager with expertise. You need a manager who trusts YOUR expertise.

    1. 2 Cents*

      +1000 to the last line! I just changed jobs and though my manager has a surface-level understanding of what I do, she (frequently) tells me that she defers to my judgment because I’m the expert on what I do. If I say something is important, she tries to make it happen (our workplace is huge and bureaucratic so things happen slowly).

    2. MissDisplaced*

      I think you should be able to get a fair assessment about their views on communications during the interview by asking some general questions about why they’re hiring for the role, the duties, needs for the company, etc.

      But I feel you too, as I was once told by my manager that “the company doesn’t need a teapot communications manager.” Zero clue what I did, until I left and things fell apart.

    3. tamarack & fireweed*

      This may all be true, but I think it’s still worth stepping up one level and answering the question as asked. Because fundamentally it’s a question about somewhat turning the table in an interview and getting information about the hiring manager.

      LW3 has repeatedly found themselves in a situation where their manager didn’t share relevant expertise (and apparently didn’t respect theirs) and now would strongly prefer a new job where they can work with people who are on the same wavelength about certain aspects of the job function. That may or may not be the ideal way to get their dream career, but in any event it’s a legitimate desire.

      I think the key is to remember that an interview cuts both ways. You, too, are interviewing the employer. That doesn’t mean you can grill the hiring manager like they maybe grilled you, but you can ask indirect questions — during the appropriate phase of the interview — that would reveal their thinking about an area. This works usually better (on whichever side of the interview table you’re sitting!) by asking about the future, or maybe the present, rather than about the past. Not “how long have you been overseeing the communications organization” or anything that sounds like “how experienced are you, really, with this?” but “I’d be interested to hear more about your strategic vision for the communications organization” or “could you tell me a little bit how the roles within the online communications team are currently structured” or “would my role be interfacing with faculty in the context of potential media requests for expert statements?”. This is presuming these areas have come up earlier as part of the role’s purview. If they wouldn’t come up naturally, you may have to engineer something to make it sound natural you’d bring this up further down the road.

    4. CM*

      I was about to say I agreed, but I think there’s also a layer to this question where the OP isn’t at a level where it would be their job to decide on the organization’s communications strategy, but they (rightly) don’t want to be burned by being in a situation where the person who IS making strategy decisions doesn’t know anything about communications and comes up with something fundamentally misguided.

      That’s a separate problem from whether your direct supervisor knows how to do your job, and it’s more of a problem like, “I don’t want to be in a situation where I’m in a junior role and somehow also the only person who knows anything about this field.” I’ve been in that situation before, and it sucks (and is usually also a sign that that field isn’t valued by the company).

      So, with that in mind, I actually think it does make sense to probe a little bit and find out who’s making strategic decisions in your area and what THAT PERSON’S background is, whether or not it’s the direct supervisor. Not from the POV where it’s necessarily bad for your supervisor not to understand your work, but from the POV where it’s going to be pretty miserable if the people steering your ship have no idea how a ship’s supposed to look when it sails.

  13. RG*

    I wonder if OP #5 just sucks to the tame questions, or if she goes full duck club/couples therapy/graveyard work notes/Hanukkah balls

    1. RG*

      All that time making sure I spelled Hanukkah correctly and I missed “sucks” instead of “sticks,” smh.

        1. valentine*

          All that time making sure I spelled Hanukkah correctly
          Worth it. Excellent priorities.

      1. Jennifer Thneed*

        In case it helps, there is, in fact, more than one accepted/acceptable spelling. On account of how it comes from a language that uses a different alphabet. For some fun with that, hie yourself to YouTube and search for a song by The Leevees called “How Do You Spell Channukkahh”. (I think my favorite line might be “Julio was wrong…”)

    2. dramallama*

      Now I’m looking forward to a future AAM question where someone needs advice on how to confront her fellow manager about the NSFW AAM questions they’ve been discussing in meetings.

  14. Bowserkitty*


    I feel like a lot of my previous jobs (and maybe even my current one) could have benefited from doing something like this!

  15. Thomas E*

    #1: the advice is weird, but that said it’s not unusual for someone who has been a customer at a retail, bar or restaurant to apply and so it won’t necessarily stand out as odd. It just isn’t good advice as once you’ve been rejected they aren’t going to consider you for a while. It’s just a waste of time.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      I think Alex is in a weird suspended space where he hasn’t been outright rejected for the job yet–they’re still interviewing. And his friend thinks it might tip things in his favor if the hiring manager saw him behaving normally and (incorrectly, it would seem) ascribed the nonstop talking in the interview to a one-off due to interview nerves.

  16. Clay on my apron*

    OP3, I think it’s fine to ask about your potential manager’s experience. You want think about how you phrase those questions obviously.

    If you phrase it in a neutral way, you should get the info you need without offending.

    Very relevant is how they view your role. Are they bringing you in as an subject matter expert who will be able to provide input into policy, processes, team structure, etc? Or do they see you as a “do-er” who will follow their instructions? The former is a great opportunity while the latter is a recipe for frustration.

    Questions to consider. How many people are in the team, what roles, how long they have been there? How long have you been with the company/team? Is your focus primarily X or do you have other areas of responsibility as well? Are you considering any changes to the team structure in the next few months? How does this role fit into the team? What would you expect from this role in the first 3 months?

    Good luck with your interviews!

    1. Fed up with my boss*

      I totally agree that how your manager views your role is important in these situations. I’m in a job where I’m almost always managed by someone who doesn’t really know anything about what I do. That’s mostly been okay, since they let me do my own thing, but my current manager knows just enough to be dangerous. He has lots of opinions about how we should do things, and has gone as far to present new ideas to the board about how we should change our approach. The problem is, we’re already doing a lot of what he’s saying and he just hasn’t taken the time to find out, and the rest of the suggestions are unrealistic. What stinks is now it’s making the board think that we didn’t know what we were doing until he showed up and that he’s helping us more than he really is.

    2. Sara without an H*

      I agree that it’s essential to find out how your prospective boss thinks about the role. Having previous experience in that role doesn’t really guarantee that you’ll have a smooth working relationship, though. What if she used to do your job, and resists any of your attempts to innovate, or do it differently than how she used to do it?

      Be careful what you wish for!

    1. WellRed*

      I can just see the day a company has a write to AAM exercise in place if gathering employee feedback.

      1. boo bot*

        Or, best/worst workplace mediation ever: “Both of you write up your side of the story and send it to Ask A Manager.”

  17. Stephen!*

    My personal rule is that if I buy equipment for work it has to be less than whatever my hourly wage is. Otherwise, let the employer pay.

        1. MissDisplaced*

          I know, but some things the company will not see as “necessary to your job.”
          Especially if you work in graphic design or more creative type roles where there are a lot of small program add-ons and Apps and such that make life easier.

  18. Shiny Swampert*

    Am I unreasonable thinking that the interviewer shouldn’t have given Charlie this information at all?

    1. SezU*

      I thought about that too. Even if Charlie is Alex’s friend and referred him, the hiring manager shouldn’t involve Charlie beyond that point. I am thinking though that he was trying to provide it as feedback to help Alex do better at his next interview… Maybe Alex could benefit from the feedback but if he is inherently a talker then I agree with another poster that he needs to start looking for jobs where that is a benefit. ALthough, I kind of thought being talkative would be helpful as a bartender!

      1. Anononon*

        Eh, not really. Could you imagine a packed bar, but the bartender won’t stop talking to one customer or another employee? And being the customer that the bar Pendergast fixated on? How uncomfortable.

      2. WellRed*

        Friendly is helpful. Being so busy chatting with one customer that you are either boring or ignoring her or everyone else is irritating.

    2. hbc*

      It’s not great, but once you’re getting personal referrals (rather than professional), you’ve already kind of lowered the bar on professionalism. “Hey, a friend of mine is looking for a job” is just naturally going to lead to casual feedback, and it sounds like “Wow, he talks a lot” isn’t an unfair judgment or private information.

      Now that I think about it, it’s the kind of thing it’d be *good* to go back to a reference about. “Is he just a nervous talker, or does he always go on like that?” I might give him another chance if I heard that he was normally a good listener.

    3. WellRed*

      Why not? If i ask my boss how an interviewee was, why shouldn’t she tell me (briefly)?

      1. Essess*

        If the interviewee was a buddy of yours, then it’s really unprofessional to inquire about the details of the interview simply for the sake of knowing how your buddy did. If the filling of the position impacts your work (if you work there too) then it’s appropriate to ask if it looks like they’ll fill the position soon but you shouldn’t be getting details about what was said in the actual interview.

    4. Ask a Manager* Post author

      There’s nothing wrong with going back to the person who referred a candidate to you and saying “I’m not sure he was right because of X” (or even, “nope, not the right fit because of X”).

      Even if they didn’t refer the person, if they know them, it’s reasonable to seek input on the candidate from your employee and then talk later about how it went.

      1. SezU*

        My reply to this thread was probably based on my own experience… which is likely unusual. I referred someone to my employer. They were hired. About three months later they told me they were going to let the person go and wanted to know if I wanted to be the one to tell them! Uh NO!!!! So I really err on the side of caution on these things. I’ll make a referral if I think they are the right person, but beyond that it’s between them and the company (but I get your point, Alison!)

        1. DaffyDuck*

          What the heck? That is a manager job, referral’s manager precisely, so unless you were their manager it is none of your business! Also, you don’t let someone go by telling everyone else first. I don’t blame you for being cautious.

    5. Essess*

      That was my immediate reaction. It was inappropriate for the interviewer to make comments to a friend of the person interviewing. I would consider the interviewer to be unprofessional and definitely an over-sharer unless the person being interviewed had given consent for it to be discussed with his friend or if the friend was an ACTIVE participant in the hiring process.

    6. EvilQueenRegina*

      You read my mind! My first thought on reading this letter was to question why the interviewer said that to Charlie because I also don’t think they should have. I didn’t get the impression that Charlie referred Alex, just happened to be a mutual friend of both but correct me if I misread?

    1. Anonya*

      I’m a senior comms person in higher ed and am seriously considering leaving because of these issues. It is a frustrating, demoralizing way to work.

  19. Bagpuss*

    LW1 – I don’t think it would be creepy – people do go to bars and sit quietly by themselves, so I don’t suppose it would be particualrly noticeable, but I can’t see that he would be likley to achoeve anything by it.
    – Presumably they are interviewing so they have staff when the open, so the job he was hoping to get will have most likely been filled by then
    – on opening night, I would expect the owner and staff to all be fully occupied making sure things are running smoothly, and dealing with any first night glitches, they are probably not going to be considering patrons s potential staff .
    – Talks too much and overdshares are issues around Alex’s suitibility for the job. Showing that he can sit quietly doesn’t really address the issue, what they would need to see is that he can be aaware of other people’s level of comfort with how much he talks, and be receptive to listening or being quiet when the social cues are there. Just sitting by himself (or with someone he knows) doesn’t really show that, even if the owner were to be paying attention to him at the time.

    I think that Alex probably needs to accept that he is unlikely to get this job, but take on board the feedback and work on improving his listening skills and understanding of conversational cues so he can do better in future interviews, and / or think about what type of work might paly to his skills better (although I think if the problem is that he doesn’t notice or react to conversational cues, that’s likely to be a problem in many jobs

    1. EventPlannerGal*

      OP1 – apart from anything, if the issue is that he talks too much and he’s been advised to go alone and not talk, taking a friend so that he can talk to someone seems like he’s kind of missing the point.

      There are plenty of bar staff out there who aren’t conversational geniuses or anything, but being a good listener is a quality that goes down well in hospitality and if Alex is constantly talking he’s probably not listening that much. I would advise him to really focus on listening to what the other person is saying and responding to that, not just thinking about what he’s going to say next. Does he interrupt other people’s sentences, or does he just monologue until he’s told to stop?

      Either way, I think he’s be best off not going to the opening and just waiting to see how the interview went – it doesn’t sound as though he’s actually received a rejection yet, right? So who knows, maybe he could still get the job. But proving that he can sit in silence for two hours doesn’t necessarily say anything about his general conversational abilities.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Being a good listener is a quality that goes down well in hospitality.

        This is a good point, especially re anonanon’s dual problems regarding chattiness–chatting at someone who doesn’t want to talk; chatting when there’s a line of people waiting for service.

        I still treasure the Target clerk who remembered me and asked about my dog, rather than the scripted “How are you?” (Dog was dying of brain cancer; I was going through a ton of pee pads; I was not fine.)

    2. LW #1*

      I agree that going to the bar in general wouldn’t be weird. It was more the specifics, he heard from his friend just a few hours after the interview.

      It was just the closeness in going back, plus the specific of only responding the questions and nothing else, for a few hours.

      But I’ve also never worked in a bar or even applied to one so to me that all did seem a bit creepy.

      1. Busytrap*

        I’m a little confused – was it to go back for the brewery’s opening night, or just go back for beers a few days later? I worked at a brewery you’ve definitely heard of for almost decade and now have dozens of small start-up brewery clients: at anywhere other than the most boundary-crossing of breweries (which your friend should avoid like the plague … and they definitely do exist), going back a few days after an interview to just hang looks just as weird as it would to go back to a regular company’s closest coffee shop after you interviewed to sit and hang out hoping to catch the eye of someone you interviewed with. Don’t do it! The exception would be for the opening night – that’s likely to be seen more as supporting the local business – but even then, this is really weird advice and if he goes, he should be himself while he’s there.

    3. Willis*

      I took the letter to mean that the bar is already in operation, but that Charlie suggested Alex should go when it first opens for the day, like 5 pm or whatever, when it wouldn’t be crowded and a bartender could notice the quietness.

      But I strongly agree with your third and fourth points. If the boss already saw that Alex talks too much for the job, I don’t think providing him with an “and sometimes I can be quiet” view point is going to erase the first (and it sounds like accurate) impression. Plus, if Alex doesn’t realize when he’s talking too much and doesn’t know when to be quiet, I kind of question that he could pull off the two hours of limited social interaction very well anyway. I don’t mean that as an insult, but if it’s something he admittedly has trouble gauging generally, I don’t know that he would suddenly be able to in this instance.

      1. LW #1*

        Yes. They’re already opened. He meant it in the way to go at 4pm that same week. Basically go in as soon as they opened for the day so that he could show that he can be “quiet and normal”.

        Due to his propensity to talk there’s more chance this can backfire because part of it was that he was extremely excited for the interview and definitely showed it.

        Whether he can be quiet for one day is not going to mean anything if he can’t keep it up long term.

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          That’s terrible advice, imo. This will make Alex look socially weird and unable to take no for an answer. None of it will reflect badly on Charlie, so Charlie shouldn’t have given the advice.

        2. EventPlannerGal*

          Did Alex get any more information from Charlie beyond the feedback about his talkativeness?

          I ask because without more context, it’s hard to tell if that’s a “god, he wouldn’t shut up, we’re NEVER hiring him” or a “I think he’s too chatty but I’m not sure, I’ll have to think about it” or a “he’s a real chatterbox but he made the best espresso martini I’ve ever had!”. One piece of negative feedback doesn’t necessarily mean he’s out of the running, but he could definitely put himself out of it if he goes and hangs around their bar in silence for two hours. Given that this all sounds like a bit of a game of Telephone anyway, I’d say it would be best for him to just wait for confirmation of how he actually did and if he didn’t get it, just move on. There’s a lot of bars out there!

        3. boo bot*

          Oh, this is weirder. I thought he was talking about going to the opening of the brewery, which seemed like a reasonable thing to do precisely because he could go without being too noticeable, and just attend the event, rather than seem like he’s trying to get a do-over interview.

          Going when the bar opens for the day is the opposite of that!

        4. Observer*

          Whether he can be quiet for one day is not going to mean anything if he can’t keep it up long term.

          This is TOTALLY true. And something that he should take on board in thinking about what to do with the advice.

  20. Amy*

    My workplace doesn’t really do showers. But while I was 8 months pregnant, at the end of a team lunch to celebrate a good quarter, the team presented me with a card, flowers and a gift certificate to a baby shop. I strongly preferred that approach to an official baby shower.

    1. Joielle*

      This is perfect! A little acknowledgement of a special occasion without making the person be the center of attention for a long time. I love this idea.

      1. Not All*

        Not to mention not putting everyone else on the spot!

        I hate showers with a passion in general AND am financially tapped with the never ending stream of things I’m expected to give financially to for coworkers.

    2. Spool of Lies*

      Off topic but by the time I got to this comment, I forgot about the question about baby showers and reading “My workplace doesn’t really do showers” made me so confused and somewhat horrified at the thought of smelly office workers :P. Need. More. Coffee.

  21. Delta Delta*

    #4 – It sounds like this particular piece of equipment OP wants to buy is a) going to be helpful and b) not terribly expensive. If OP buys her own, I suggest she label it clearly with her name on it so it’s known it belongs to her, and keep the receipt handy showing she purchased it. That way there isn’t any confusion over what equipment belongs to whom. I had to buy a $50 piece of equipment for a job once when the office wouldn’t pay for it (that was a whole separate basket of drama). Then when the office administrator tried to loan out my equipment to other employees, I said no because it didn’t belong to the business. Might seem petty, but I didn’t want to be told by the business I had to pay for my own widget, and then potentially lose it or have it get broken because the business decided everyone else should use it, too.

    1. Willis*

      It’s not petty – if they want the staff to have a widget, the company needs to buy the widget!!

    2. WellRed*

      Good for you! They act petty, they get petty right back (not that I think this was petty of you at all!).

    3. A Simple Narwhal*

      Smart! You were totally right to do that. The business doesn’t get to make you buy something and then claim it’s for the whole office to use.

    4. Antilles*

      Not petty at all. Just because you use it for business purposes doesn’t magically make it theirs; it’s still owned by the person who paid for it (i.e., you). Especially since their previous actions have made clear that they wouldn’t replace it if something happened to it.
      …But if the company would like to *buy* it off me for full retail price and a reasonable markup, I’m listening.

      1. Bunny*

        #4, I’m a professional broadcaster. I don’t know if you’re using a mic at all. If you are, be advised a 50-75 dollar one won’t advance you much in quality.

        If you’re NOT, well then. Get a cheap lavalier mic. Clip it to yourself. You’ll sound much better. This isn’t the evening news. You can do this for 30 dollars ish.

        The following URL:

  22. AngryOwl*

    #1 I’ve worked in bars/restaurants and this is weird advice. Alex can certainly go hang out somewhere he’s applied, that’s normal. But the specifics about not talking/two beers/the ulterior motive? Nope.

    Brewery folk are supposed to be good at holding conversations, but that mostly means fostering an environment where customers talk and hang out. Someone who doesn’t know when to stop talking may not be the best fit for that.

    1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      Yeah, doesn’t know when to stop talking is by definition not good at holding a conversation.

    2. Joielle*

      Yeah – my least favorite type of bartender is someone who won’t take the hint to stop talking. Especially if I’m at a bar alone, I guess the bartender assumes I’m lonely and want someone to talk to? I do not. A couple minutes of chatting can be nice (are you from around here, what are you in town for, etc.), but if I’m giving one word answers and keep looking back at my book or phone… take the hint! If Alex isn’t good at that, I don’t think he’d make a good brewery employee, even if he can pretend to be quiet for a couple of hours one time.

    3. TootsNYC*

      also, the point of bartending is to keep selling drinks; of waitstaff is to circulated around, bringing food. If you get caught up chatting at someone, you’re not alert to someone needing your services.

  23. Robin J*

    I want to be at the inevitable #5 meeting where one of the attendees is shifting uncomfortably until it turns out they’re the letter writer.

    1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      Dear AAM, my manager keeps making us discuss your questions. Is this legal?

  24. Abb*

    I love the “management drills” idea, and I would totally buy this if it could be sold as a game/conversation starter. I’m picturing something like a deck of cards that each had a good AAM question printed on them….

  25. MissDisplaced*

    #3 I’ve worked in design, marketing and communications for 20 years and it is very often the case you’re managed by people from Business Development, Sales or even IT!

    Many have zero clue (or dismissive ideas) of what we do, but the Marketing managers are a somewhat better bet at least.

    But boy, I feel your pain! Nothing like trying to justify your designs to a highly critical color blind CEO, who finally admitted he couldn’t tell what the colors actually were.

  26. Human Sloth*

    If I brought an AAM question to a staff meeting, no real work would be done for the rest of the day. I have recommend this blog to dozens of co-workers!

    1. MissDisplaced*

      Don’t you worry they’ll know who you are? I’m always afraid I’ll give a tell-tale comment, but thus far it’s never happened.

    2. TootsNYC*

      I give a speech at least once a year to college students, and I give them a list of resources (books or website from my specific field, etc.), and I always include AAM in the “general job hunting” category.

  27. Sara without an H*

    OP#3, if you have any ambitions to rise to management positions, you will at some point wind up reporting to someone who has little to no experience with what you do. You’ll need to work up some good ways to explain what you’re doing or proposing and how it benefits the company.

    My current job is the first one in which I report to an academic dean, rather than to another librarian. It was a shock to realize just how jargon-ridden my profession is. I forced myself to invent simple explanations in plain English for what librarians do and why. It was tough, but a very valuable experience.

    Short version: If you want to be boss someday, you’ll be reporting to somebody who has no clue as to what you do or why. Learn to translate your profession to outsiders.

    1. Samwise*

      And, if you are a boss someday, you’ll be managing people who do work you have never done before.

      1. Sara without an H*

        True. Or they’re doing it differently. Most of what I learned in library school is totally useless 30 years on.

    2. TootsNYC*

      heck, even people at the lowest levels end up knowing how their job works in a way that the boss doesn’t.

      Knowing how to explain your work to others is very valuable.

  28. hbc*

    OP3: I think what you want to be on the lookout for is more of a mismatch in philosophy or management approach. There are some things that are considered best practices in a field that an organization will not embrace, whether because the default doesn’t fit the company for some reason or because the bigwigs simply don’t value it the same way. So you could have a hiring manager with a lot of communication experience who disagrees that there’s anything wrong with, say, a small company relying on one person to do content, graphic design, and coding–they’re okay with it being slower and lower quality than having each of those handled by three experts.

    1. MissDisplaced*

      You’d also want to ask what kind of budget they have for communications and what the annual spend is.
      This changes year-to-year of course, but if they expect top work but allocate small or no budget, it’s a huge red flag they don’t take communications seriously.

      1. TootsNYC*

        Oh, the “how much budget do you have, what are your spending patterns?” is something I only realized was important pretty late in my career.

        I’d been at places that generally had enough money to cover the freelance expenses of a highly cyclical industry, but I was working at a place that was trying to aggressively trim the budget, and so I was focused on the concept of having enough money to hire really good people, but to aim that at strategic time periods, especially because my company was particularly crazed.

        I interviewed, on a lark, at a place that had exactly the same craziness, and it suddenly occurred to me that I should ask what their freelancer rate was. $10/hour less than I was paying–and they could only hire one person for crunch time.

        I was like, “Hey my current job is really hard, but at least they give me resources that make it possible!”7

  29. Lora*

    Just wanted to leave a quick comment concerning the baby shower. I would ask your co-worker if she would like a baby shower, and if so, perhaps consider waiting until after she has the baby. I know traditionally, baby showers are held prior to the baby being born, but. I’ve worked in healthcare for many decades, and late-term pregnancy loss can happen, as can still births. This actually happened to my nephew and his wife. Their first pregnancy was a stillbirth, and to go through the double whammy of both losing the baby and then all those gifts from a baby shower makes it so difficult and heartbreaking. If you want to have a baby shower, do it after the baby is born. Then it can be a ‘meet the baby’ shower also. But ask first!

    1. Moray*

      I think a ‘welcome back lunch’ is fine to offer, or simply saying “we’d love to celebrate, what’s your preference?” but specifically suggesting a post-baby-baby-shower is so atypical that it’s going to seem very strange. It’ll sound like you’re being paranoid about them losing the baby or like you really don’t want to plan a baby shower and are trying to put it off as long as possible.

    2. CupcakeCounter*

      One of my coworkers requested this! They opted out of knowing the gender pre-birth and she came from a very large family so she had a lot of stuff she could borrow for the first few weeks. We had the shower about 8 weeks after he was born and she brought the baby and her husband so we could meet them. Just a little cake and ice cream and she was big into environmental issues so requested all gifts such as clothes and toys either be hand-me-downs from our children or from second hand stores. I actually gave her a bunch of the stuff I had gotten at my work baby shower and people loved seeing some of the really fun items they had given me. And no cards – she loved the “sign your favorite book as the card” trend.
      She actually bought a ton of my stuff from me (much of which was also second hand!) since we are both very tall and finding dressy maternity pants was rather difficult. I had to special order most of my clothes and she bought almost everything from me.

      1. TootsNYC*

        I’m always bemused by the “no cards–sign your favorite book”

        I don’t buy greeting cards to put on a gift! I make a tag.

    3. CommanderBanana*

      Eh, there are a lot of cultures where any baby gifts wait until after the baby, and the Orthodox part of my family doesn’t do any celebration/gifting until after the baby is born. Baby gifts can’t even come in the house.

  30. Ann Perkins*

    #2 – if you have an office manager, ask that person how they plan for office showers to be handled. It could be they already have some sort of plans, or that they’re deliberately not doing showers anymore because they don’t want to have to do it every time. I agree with Alison that I wouldn’t worry about someone else having a shower a few years ago and then there’s been nothing since. It sounds like it’s not the norm in your office. And I wouldn’t bring it up to your coworker until you know how your office plans to proceed lest she does really want one and you get her hopes up.

    The ideal setup, if an office wants to do these celebrations, is for some sort of general admin or office manager to plan them to make sure they’re doing fairly. It’s when only closer coworkers pitch in here and there that makes it problematic because it’s much more likely for people to get left out. It’s better to not do them at all at that point.

    1. WellRed*

      I totally missed that the other shower was a few years ago! I thought it was much more recent.

  31. Queen_of_Comms*

    Ugh. Situations like LW#2’s are why I no longer celebrate my team members’ birthdays. It used to be a casual “Sure, let’s go grab lunch” when it was convenient. It took one total meltdown (tears, sobs, the whole shebang) to end the celebrations altogether.

    It was a week before Christmas. On Wednesday, I ordered lunch for my entire department to reward them for finishing a project. Hundreds of dollars. The company holiday party (complete with a catered lunch and copious amounts of desserts) was scheduled for Friday. On Monday, I had already invited my team (seven of them) out to lunch as their annual Christmas gift. I knew it would cost me more than $300.

    Lisa’s birthday fell on that Thursday.

    We were swamped, trying to tie up loose ends of the Big Project before the holiday. Lunchtime came and went. I ate at my desk, not thinking anything was wrong.

    Lisa had a meltdown. Said she didn’t bring lunch because she expected me to “take the team out”. Tears, sobs. Said everyone else got a birthday lunch. I explained we did birthday lunches informally when time and workload allowed. Other people on the team did not get lunches that year. Plus I had already given them one lunch that week and would be paying for another the next week. It didn’t matter. I ended up taking her out for lunch.

    That was the last one. I casually mentioned that we would be doing no more birthday celebrations. I learned the “all or nothing” lesson the hard way. Better to let the baby shower be a one-off and let it die before it becomes a Thing That Must Be Done.

    1. Zephy*

      So what did Lisa do for her next birthday, when she turned seven? Obviously you were somehow managing a team of second-graders, right?

      JFC. I’m not one of those killjoys that thinks adults don’t deserve birthday parties, but Lisa presumably had at least a couple of decades or so of practice managing her feelings around being a Christmas-adjacent baby.

      1. Queen_of_Comms*

        Agreed. This is far from the first emotional meltdown, as well. It took me awhile, but I learned to say, “I need you to bring your emotions under control before we can continue this conversation. Take a walk and we can reconvene in fifteen minutes.” Giving her time to gather herself seems to work well, but it’s frustrating that we’ve had to get to that point.

    2. Paulina*

      “None” is an excellent choice. Especially if there’s the potential for other events to bias against certain people being celebrated, which unfortunately happens quite often to those of us born near Christmas.

      The All vs. None choice really should be management’s, though; it shouldn’t be about whether there’s a close coworker pushing for it, even though that may have been the situation for the previous shower in the LW’s workplace. If it’s been a few years since the previous one, that can help with making a break, but it’s important that management decide so there isn’t another the next time someone has a close work friend pushing for it, making the non-shower the exception rather than the shower.

      1. Queen_of_Comms*

        Yeah, the only reason I caved and took her out was because of her birthday’s proximity to Christmas. My brother was born on December 23, so I knew years of feeling overlooked probably contributed to the hysterics.

        And agreed, management should be the ones making the call, not coworkers. It will continue to be an issue until something is centrally done to address it. My company sends a teddy bear embroidered with the baby’s name to new parents. We get a lot of positive feedback and never have to deal with hosting showers or asking coworkers to bring in gifts. It’s a good compromise.

  32. Erin*

    #2 – You’re being sweet, but don’t worry about it.

    Someone threw a shower for a coworker at my job shortly before I announced my second pregnancy. One of my coworkers was like, “I don’t know if so and so is also going to do a shower for you, should I plan something?”

    No thank you. It’s my second kid and I hate baby showers.

    No but seriously. It would set a precedent that you have to do a shower for every single baby, even for the men whose wives who don’t work there are having babies. It’s a nice thought, but it’s too much.

  33. MMB*

    LW 1. Do. Not. Do. This. Or rather tell your friend not to do this. I spent over 20 years in bars and restaurants and I can’t tell you how many times someone who was turned down for a job came in later and tried to befriend the people who worked there in an effort to change our minds and get hired. It’s creepy, kind of annoying and boundary crossing. We’ve already made our decision. No thank you.
    Further, it shows a distinct lack of professionalism. You wouldn’t go sit outside the CEO’s office at WidgetsRUs to show them you’re qualified for the job! It’s like saying “Hey! You made a mistake. I know much more about what’s best for your business than you do.”
    Bars and restaurants can be beyond crazy and dysfunctional and frequently operate on an entirely different planet when it comes to workplace norms, but they’re still legitimate businesses and good ones will try to engage in a certain level of professionalism.

    1. Yankee in Dixieland*

      I second this. I am a taproom manager, and the candidates that interviewed who were not already previous patrons of the bar and then proceeded to show up regularly post-interview always, *always* set off alarm bells for me and absolutely were not hired.

      If your friend wants to be hired at a brewery taproom, he needs to learn how to have the 20-second conversation. Listen, maybe connect with the customer over something they said, and move on (e.g. “You’re going to a pool party later? Oh man, that sounds amazing. It’s been so hot lately! Speaking of which, would you like another pils?”).

      It’s probably a lost cause for him at *this* brewery. Take the advice of all the commenters to have him practice his conversational skills and try again somewhere else.

    2. Jemima Bond*

      I can’t see where in the letter it says Alex has been rejected. It’s entirely possible he’s still in the running and the advice is intended to help going forward.
      I agree it’s bad advice though!

  34. staceyizme*

    Showers- they shouldn’t be a thing at work, in my view. Neither should most other events that fall more on the social or family side. It can result in disparity between employees in how they’re treated and create problems. Want to grab dinner or drinks with a few colleagues? Team lunch? Once monthly coffee and treats morning? Sure. Going desk to desk for $5 because your favorite manager or direct report is having a baby, or a birthday or has a graduate in the family? Planning a baby or bridal shower? Twisting arms to sell boxes of cookies or collect for your favorite charity? No. Just don’t.

    1. ApparentlyTheSpamFilterHatesMeNow(UsedToBeRUKiddingMe)*

      Cake and Starbucks (or whatever) the first Wednesday of every month, 10 AM, conference room #2 to celebrate any and all life stuff anyone is having. Done.

      1. StaceyIzMe*

        I like your approach! Simple, universally applicable, involves coffee AND carbs… Yes, this one for the WINNER!

        1. ApparentlyTheSpamFilterHatesMeNow(UsedToBeRUKiddingMe)*

          Thank you. It’s a full sheet cake too so there’s usually a lot left for people to take home at the end of the day (there are only 10…or is it 12 now…(gotta check something quick BRB…ok 12) of us so it goes a long way.

  35. Michelle*

    I’ve shared here before the story of the two woman and the work showers they received. One was huge, extravagant after-hours affair and employees from all six locations were invited, 200+ showed up and had three car loads of presents. The second was cake, finger sandwiches, punch and only a few showed up. The second lady was absolutely crushed and ended up leaving the company shortly after her wedding. I talked to her a few weeks after her departure and she said she felt so humiliated and like she wasn’t as important as the other woman and it was huge factor in why she left.

    That is why I’m firmly on the side of no showers at work or showers with the same format- cake and punch, paid for by the company, in the break room during work. I think showers are best held by your friends or family, outside of work.

    I still to this day feel bad for woman #2. Apologizing in advance if this upsets anyone, but woman #1 had already been given a nice shower 2 years earlier. She joined the company right after divorcing husband #1, met husband #2 on the job, was given a nice shower and unfortunately that marriage ended. Then she met husband #3, also on the job, and was given that huge shower. Marriages don’t always work out and I feel sympathy for woman #1, but I don’t think her coworkers should be hit up for presents for the same person within 4 years, especially when something like this happens.

    1. MissDisplaced*

      Yeah, that’s awful. I’m honestly not a fan of this type of thing at work (baby, bridal, retirement) unless it’s very low-key and same/similar for everyone (such as a cake-n-card). If coworkers are SUCH good friends, then by all means they can plan this privately for outside of work as most normal showers amongst friends tend to go.

    2. SezU*

      I felt bad for co-worker #2…. but now I feel bad for co-worker #1 too! And her co-workers for getting hit up for gifts so many times for one person.

      1. ApparentlyTheSpamFilterHatesMeNow(UsedToBeRUKiddingMe)*

        Agreed. It’s so much “omg no!” all the way around.

    3. Paulina*

      I had a former boss who I will always side-eye due to how differently he treated the retirements of certain colleagues. The differences were a lot like what’s described above for the showers: one had a big dinner, formal gift from the unit plus a collection that paid for smaller mementoes; the other had a simple lunch and the only gift was arranged by another of my colleagues (not management). This difference was not by request. Yes we were all rather relieved that person #2 had retired, but that’s no reason to treat them badly on their way out the door.

      1. Jen2*

        I think work performance actually is a good reason to treat them differently on the way out! By the time someone has left the organization, you don’t have to pretend to like them anymore.

        1. Paulina*

          For us as individuals, yes, but my then-boss was acting on behalf of the organization. I can see having a simpler lunch being easier to get people to go to, even though it would still look lame, but skipping the gift that everyone else received was petty, and resulted in some of us stepping up as individuals to cover.

          Point taken, though. I have another colleague that I’m sure when he retires I’m going to be far too busy to go to anything for, no matter when it may be! Unless by that time I’m actually in charge, when I’d have to play the needed part.

    4. Ann Perkins*

      Right after I left for maternity leave earlier this year, I got a card in the mail, signed by coworkers, with a gift card (presumably paid for by the office). Then the next month an expectant dad got a full-blown shower. We had a turnover in office manager during that time and I’m guessing the new one wants to do more of these but it sucked for me. The gift card felt odd at that point, like, “oh we didn’t do anything for Ann, better send something before this calendar invite goes out”. It was baby #2 for both of us and neither of us had celebrations at the office for the first so that made it even more odd. Admittedly their #2 is special needs so that might be a factor. But the optics of the whole thing was strange and people commented on it to me when I got back.

      It’s not even about the gifts or attention – working women are generally acutely aware of the disruption that maternity leave can cause, and it would be nice to feel like my office was just as supportive of me having a baby as they were of my male coworker.

    5. Essess*

      I agree. Inequity can really ruin morale. I used to donate heavily to OldJob’s ‘flower fund’. They would come around monthly and ask for donations to a flower fund that was set up to send flowers to employees for major events such as weddings, hospitalizations, funerals, babies, etc… Every month I cheerfully popped in about $40 because I really thought it was a great idea. In the 5 years I worked there, I got married and I had a 1-week-long hospital stay. For my events…. crickets. No flowers, no card, no acknowledgement even though I worked in the management office so everyone knew about my events. The first time hurt but I assumed people were just busy and maybe it was an oversight. The second time showed a pattern. That was the end of any donations from me, and ruined my good feelings toward the company.

    6. tamarack & fireweed*

      Yeah, that. I, too, find it nice when birthdays and major celebrations are remembered, but it quickly turns into a can of worms if the process isn’t fairly standardised, low-key and supported by management. By all means, have a small collection (ensure no one-upmanship, no individual gifts), put it on a gift card to an appropriate, fairly generic store (or one you KNOW the person will like), the company chips in a little bit which will round up and maybe equalize the amount (or at least the amount will be hidden by the card), add a card and some snacks/finger food / cake, make it a 15 min affair. Even someone who doesn’t want a baby shower will appreciate a small giftcard and a free cupcake / glass of juice / hummus wrap. But when stuff becomes extravagant and unrepeatable, and/or hangs on the afterwork efforts of a single co-worker, it’s a recipe for disaster.

      People get weirdly emotionally involved in that. I’m a little concerned LW2 might be — words like worry or fear sound excessive when applied to the possibility a co-worker may not receive a baby shower.

  36. jiminy_cricket*

    Former restaurant manager here, hired and fired many people in that context. I would be super weirded out if an applicant came the next day at opening and sat quietly. Also there’s no guarantee the manager would even be there at that time? It’s not abnormal per se for an applicant to come in and enjoy the space – if they did that before the interview – but it sounds like your friend wasn’t a great social fit with the manager and might have to adjust his expectations around being offered this position. Restaurant work is highly social; “not clicking” is absolutely a valid reason to consider hiring differently. Also Charlie maybe shouldn’t have told your friend that?

    1. ApparentlyTheSpamFilterHatesMeNow(UsedToBeRUKiddingMe)*

      Oh good. Glad I wasn’t the only one thinking “that’s just weird!”

  37. Rat Racer*

    #4 – and this is more like an add-on question: what about purchasing software? I have a particular software that I like to use for editing screenshots. My little non-profit doesn’t have it, and I feel badly asking them because I’m new and it’s a “nice to have” not “need to have.” It’s only $50 – what do you think?

    1. MissDisplaced*

      I end up buying a lot of small software and stock photo type things and paying myself, and I work for a large company.
      I find it becomes SO MUCH of a hassle and/or takes weeks to get a request approved (and then it’s denied and your’e told to request that work from another department, which adds more weeks) and it takes forever to get whatever you need done, done. Granted, I am well paid and can afford to do this on occasion. Probably I shouldn’t do this, but I do it because I can get it done in 1 hour what will take weeks if I make a request. This was not the case at other companies though, just current one.

      1. TootsNYC*

        I would not be able to install those programs on my machine; I’d need an admin password.

        And the IT crew wouldn’t install anything without it having been purchased by the company, which means signed off on by my boss.

        1. Rat Racer*

          Yeah, the same would be true at my old company. I couldn’t even check my gmail, let alone download any software onto my computer.

      2. Michaela Westen*

        I wouldn’t try to install anything on my work computer. If anything went wrong, I would get in trouble.

  38. PW*

    LW3 made me think about a scenario I encountered a few years ago I didn’t really know how to handle. I looked at the hiring manager’s LinkedIn, and it basically said they were a job-hopper. They had like 15 years of being at companies for 2-3 years. Is there an effective way of figuring out how long a manager intends to stay in their current role when you’re interviewing?

    1. ArtK*

      I interviewed with someone like that. I straight-up asked him to talk about his career trajectory. He gave me reasonable answers for the short times. I’m still a little leery of that, but given then environment (his boss is a friend/mentor of mine), I’m not to worried if he bails.

    2. A Simple Narwhal*

      Unless it’s specifically different in your industry, being at a job for 2-3 years doesn’t really make you a job hopper.

      I think Alison has answered similar questions, but unfortunately there’s no real way of knowing how long someone you are going to work for is going to be in a role. Even if they told you they planned to stay in a role forever, there’s no way of controlling how life really shakes out.

      Out of curiosity, what was your concern?

  39. ApparentlyTheSpamFilterHatesMeNow(UsedToBeRUKiddingMe)*

    I don’t understand #1…he’s already had, and apparently “failed” the interview. Why is he going back? And just sitting there? To what end?

    Honestly if someone did that and I were “the boss” I’d be weirded out and glad I passed on them…and I’m pretty sure I’d feel like that even if I wasn’t a woman (i.e. “creepy male” vibes) too.

    1. LW #1*

      He hasn’t failed yet. They had some reservations, but they were still interested. It was Charlie’s advice for it help boost. To show that Alex is capable of being quiet when needed

  40. inoffensive nickname*

    RE: Talking too much. One of my direct reports has a nervous personality, so she does say way too much, especially in meetings, which can get awkward, at times. I suggested that as part of her professional development, she take an online course in effective communications or how to deal with difficult personalities. She took one of each. She’s still awkward, but she is much better at restraining her comments and much less awkward than before. I realize taking a class might not help the young man in the immediate future, but it’s something that could help him with that awkwardness down the road. I have to admit that I was also the awkward one. I once made an extremely embarrassing awkward and off color joke with two vice presidents, who were very gracious about brushing it off and moving on. I had NO clue about what was appropriate at work back then and my today self is absolutely mortified at my 20th Century self.

  41. Kate R*

    “The interviewer spoke with Charlie afterwards and made a comment about Alex talking too much/oversharing.”

    Charlie’s advice really focuses on the “talking too much” aspect of this criticism, but it ignores the “oversharing” part, which, in my opinion, may be more telling. I kind of read it as a polite way of saying that maybe some of Alex’s answers to questions weren’t really interview appropriate. Using an AAM example from the letter the other week “how do I explain being fired for sharing confidential info with a friend?” Alison suggested the response, “The truth is, I was fired. I’d had excellent feedback up until then (if this is true), but I mistakenly shared some non-public information with a friend outside the agency, and they let me go as a result. While that obviously wasn’t the result I’d have wanted, I learned an important lesson about confidentiality, and it’s not a mistake I’ll ever repeat.” The “talking too much/oversharing answer” would have been for the OP to explain everything they explained in the letter about being so excited they had to share with a friend, how another colleague “ratted them out”, how the details got distorted (a SLACK full of journalists), etc.

    I admit I could be totally off based in my reading, but it might be helpful for Alex to practice interviewing with someone anyway. In addition to making sure his answers aren’t oversharing, he’d be able to practice getting his message across in a clear and concise way instead of rambling to get there (if the “talking too much” really is the problem).

    1. Lana Kane*

      I agree with this. The “talking too much” may not be referring to quantity, but to content.

  42. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    Is this the only brewery/restaurant in town?! There’s no reason to continue to “try” to convince anyone who’s turned you down for employment to change their minds.

    1. It’s most likely not going to work or worse backfire and make you look creepy etc. Take no for an answer and move on.

    2. If someone did change their mind so casually, that’s a bad sign as well. You don’t want to work for someone that’s going to flip back and forth so wishywashy.

  43. esqueer*

    #2: another thing to consider is that in some cultures/communities, baby showers are not well seen and the preference is for a party after the birth, if at all. Esp since you say you’re not close to Arya, you should check if a shower is even something she’d be comfortable with before you go any further with planning one or encouraging others to do so.

    1. TootsNYC*

      My vote would be to touch base w/ the manager first to be sure it’s OK to OFFER it, esp. w/ the precedent-setting thing, and then to offer it to the Mom-to-be.

      I think ALL showers should be something that is offered to the recipient, period.
      (I do not approve of surprise showers)

  44. Observer*

    #1- The first thing Alex needs to is own the problems with talking too much. It’s totally not reasonable or realistic to give everyone else the job of telling him when to stop talking. Alison gave you some good advice. And, I haven’t read the comments, but I’m sure others have done so too. One thing he should definitely consider is coaching.

    It’s become increasingly understood that some people who don’t organically pick up social skills of this sort can be taught. So, he can work with someone who can help him to spot and recognize the social cues that you say he tends to miss.

    1. TootsNYC*

      or if they still have trouble recognizing it organically, they can institute a rule for themselves (4 sentences–then you have to be quiet) that creates the effect they’re struggling to create using instincts.

      It’s how some people keep their homes clean, even if they don’t actually notice the mess; they just always clean the bathroom on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

  45. TootsNYC*

    #3–why not craft a non-confrontational question that specifically addresses your big worry?

    As a manager, when I interview, I tend to discuss my own management philosophy (I don’t like hints; when I ask “when will this be done,” I want a realistic answer, not a pipe dream, and I am not subtly trying to say “I’m mad that it’s not done already”; I like people to come to me if they think I’ve made a bad call; I don’t want to have to nickel-and-dime you on time, but then I expect you not to do it to me).

    but if I didn’t, I would absolutely think it’s fine for someone to ask me, “How do you communicate goals to people” and “Have you been in a situation where you’re managing a subject-matter expert who knows more than you do on a specific matter? How do you approach that?”

  46. cartoonbear*

    OP3: I feel you! I was hired to be the comms director for a series of newish grad programs at a traditionally undergrad institution, and it was a nightmare–my boss was an academic dean w/ very little understanding or appreciation for marketing communications (despite the fact that the programs were dying without it)… it was a nightmare. I’ve done higher ed marketing and digital stuff for many years, and that was by far the worst situation I ever worked in.

    1. KayEss*

      Yeah, unfortunately that’s kind of the higher ed comma situation… my immediate bosses were actually always awesome and put a high value on my expertise, but somewhere up the decision chain is always a dean who thinks “marketing” is a dirty concept that sullies the purity of education, or something. Having a boss who goes to bat for you and your needs makes a huge difference, but in my experience, eventually hitting a wall where the decision maker just doesn’t value or respect you and your work is absolutely the norm in higher ed. Unless the absolute highest levels of administration are on the same page as you and willing to go full enforcement on the indifferent/contemptuous roadblockers, you’re pretty well seeing it how it is everywhere.

  47. SereneScientist*

    LW #4 here!

    Thanks so much for the advice, Alison, Delta Delta, Asta, and other commenters! You’ve mentioned some stuff I hadn’t thought of re: other coworkers using the equipment, wear/tear, lack of replacements etc. A bit more background that may help contextualize my questions: I work in a pretty small office of roughly 15 people and I’m the only one from my team in this location, so it’s unlikely anyone else will be using the equipment.

    That said, I may have landed on an alternate solution which will work for this specific situation. My partner owns a better quality mic that will be suited for what I need, so I’m planning to bring that to the office for occasional recording needs. I will however make sure it’s clearly labelled and will bring it home promptly. If you have any thoughts regarding this solution, I’m curious to hear them!

    In the future though, if something like this comes up again, I think I will follow the advice y’all have offered and just expense it to my organization. Thanks again! :)

  48. Chinookwind*

    I was a little put off by OP #2’s implication that it was odd/inappropriate that the coworker through a baby shower for the dad (which she implied when pointed out that the mom doesn’t work there).

    Baby showers are for the needs of the upcoming baby, not the one carrying them. Giving one to expectant fathers should be seen as acceptable because they too are expecting a baby, even if they aren’t the one carrying it. It would be the same as throwing a shower for someone adopting a child.

    Basically, if your company is giving a baby shower to expectant moms, it would be sexist to not throw ones for expecting fathers. Just because it wasn’t done in the past doesn’t make it any less sexist.

    1. Delphine*

      Showers are also traditionally celebrations for mothers–it’s great to make it inclusive and throw showers for fathers who want them, but to throw a shower for the coworker who was becoming a dad and then not do anything for the coworker becoming a mom is going to seem even stranger than only having baby showers for expecting mothers. I think that’s likely why the OP pointed it out.

  49. TinLizi*

    My husband is a restaurant manager and has worked at bars and breweries. He thinks that would be weird. Apparently, almost every restaurant has had people they turned down come and “hang out” and it’s incredibly awkward. He says wait a few weeks, then go back in with friends, but just to eat and drink, not to try to prove yourself. It won’t work anyway.

    1. Michaela Westen*

      IMHO only go back if he would anyway, because he likes the place or the food.

  50. Delphine*

    Charlie doesn’t sound like the greatest friend. I can’t imagine telling a friend to go haunt a bar and act “normal.”

    The specificity of two beers over the course of two hours is so funny, though. I want to know why two beers–can Alex not decide how much he wants to drink? What if he only feels like one beer? What if he wants something aside from beer?

    1. Devil Fish*

      I assumed 2 beers was a nod to the common sense (but often inaccurate) idea that people metabolize alcohol as one beer or shot per hour, so Alex won’t risk looking like he’s drinking too much since he’s basically supposed to be on his best behavior.

      It seems like a low limit for 2 hours to me but 2 hours also seems like a long time to hang out alone in a bar not drinking very much.

  51. Close Bracket*

    LW1: 249 comments so far, and nobody has brought up people who are not fully neurotypical. As a neuro-atypical person, I don’t know if this shows extra sensitivity or insufficient sensitivity.

    Alex has trouble reading certain social cues and generally needs to be told to stop talking directly.

    Some people are neurotypical and awkward, and some people are atypical and awkward. There are many types of atypical neurostates that have dominating the conversation as a trait, so I’m not going to get into specifics or try to diagnose.

    be quiet/normal

    Anyone remember Solaire and her problems being autistic with a non-understanding boss and a coworker who told her to “just be normal?” Ouch.

    That said, though, dominating a conversation, which is what I suspect Charlie was getting at, is an alienating behavior. Being charitable, I think that “be normal” meant “allow more give and take in the conversation.” Whether somebody is typical and awkward or atypical, learning to pause and let the other person get a word in edgewise is a good skill to learn. Advising them to watch for social cues won’t work for all people—some people are not neurologically suited to picking up social cues. On the other hand, pausing at certain intervals is something anyone can practice.

    One thing about pauses—they are culturally determined. People have different comfort levels with different lengths of pause, and different parts of the US (I can’t speak to what happens outside the US) use pauses of different lengths to indicate that speech has stopped. Midwesterners pause for longer than New Yorkers. A New Yorker who pauses while talking to a Midwesterner will grow uncomfortable waiting for the Midwesterner to respond and might start talking again. When the Midwesterner speaks, they will grow annoyed when the New Yorker constantly jumps in to talk when they were really just pausing to collect their thoughts.

    Of course, that is a general comment. Individuals anywhere will have differing levels of pause comfort. It comes down to being comfortable with long pauses and not jumping back in while you wait for the other person to respond. Just think of all conversations as practice for salary negotiations :). That comfort level will be hard some people, sometimes for neurological reasons. So instead of getting comfortable with long pauses, get used to feeling uncomfortable during long pauses.

    1. New Jack Karyn*

      LW didn’t say whether Alex is neuroatypical, so speculation about it is pointless. It also doesn’t change the answer, which is that if being talkative is a downside in a bartender, Alex can’t change his personality overnight to become a good match for the job.

      As for ‘be normal’, it’s possible that LW was paraphrasing what Charlie told Alex–and we don’t know who told LW how that conversation happened. The secondhand version LW heard could vary depending on who told them.

    2. Observer*

      I can’t talk for anyone else, but the reason my response didn’t mention anything about being neuro-typical or not is because it’s simply not relevant to the situation. As you point out yourself, his behavior as described is alienating regardless of the cause. So he needs some good advice on how to handle this, not attempts are diagnosis by non-professionals.

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      It’s because regardless of his neurotype, he is being given awful advice from this “friend”.

      We could speculate why Alex is the way he is, either being on the spectrum or having ADHD [which is what my mind went to, honestly] or just being naturally chatty and aloof to social norms, nobody should telling anyone ever to “act normal”. We’re all mostly just pointing out to the letterwriter, they’re right, this is bad advice and Alex shouldn’t do it!

      I don’t even think Alex can’t be a bartender or a barback or whatever he was actually applying to [they all seem to say bartender but there are way more positions in a brewery than a bartender…so I’m not so quick to assign a position to him]. It’s just that that place isn’t the right place for him for whatever reason the management thinks. He shouldn’t want to work somewhere that he’s been rejected like that anyways. It wasn’t just a “You have no experience, so no thanks.” and then coming back with more experience. It’s a straight up personality clash, no good!

    4. WellRed*

      Sometimes people just don’t get social cues. No need to speculate about diagnoses. Especially since that’s not the issue.

    5. Myrin*

      Commenters haven’t brought up people who aren’t neurotypical because it’s explicitly against commenting rules to armchair diagnose.

  52. JtotheC*

    OP #1: I had a similar experience to this, but from the perspective of an interviewer who declined a job candidate. I work for an arts and culture organization that is free and open to the public. A candidate we interviewed had some questionable social skills and we decided not to move forward with them. This person returned as a “visitor” a couple of times, but it seemed pretty clear that they were still trying to angle a job out of the situation. It made my manager and I question their social skills even more and it definitely did not make us reconsider hiring them.

  53. scoop*

    I worked in the same job 15 years, and I had a friendly coworker who made nearly everyone a cake on their birthdays because she knew them so well. I don’t think I ever got one. I know it didn’t mean she hated me or anything. We weren’t that close as friends. But occasionally, I would get resentful and annoyed about it, which only made me feel petty. Just take your friends out to lunch, folks.

  54. HappyDays*

    I have a friend who just cannot read social cues about when to stop talking. We’ve had conversations with her about it before, but really the best thing we’ve learned to do is when its time to leave or switch subjects we ust talk over her or leave. I’ll say hey goodbye and just walk out the door while she is talking. Because we’ve had this conversation with her, she knows we aren’t doing it to be mean and that sometimes we really just need to go. Its a part of her personality, we aren’t trying to change who she is. We accept her for her nature… and she accepts that sometimes we have to make an exit.

  55. Cat Meowmy Admin*

    #5) I have recommended AAM to the young adults in my family (college age through late 20s) stating that “I’ve never offered unsolicited advice, so pay attention to this! Read AAM!” In addition to my (working) adult nieces and cousins (40s-60s). But my colleagues, uh nah bruh – they might pin me out lol! As far as they’re concerned, AAM remains my little selfish secret safe place!

  56. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    #2 – Some years ago (like, 40) I worked in an office where there were IS/IT people – split in two departments. Department A (larger) always came over to Department B( smaller) to pass the hat on such occasions…. but when someone in Department B had such an event, the “A” crowd thumbed their nose at us.

    We decided as a group not to participate – we would as a department for ourselves, of course, but they were told to stick to themselves.

    # 4 – this often happens in IS/IT situations; employees sometimes have to purchase their own laptops , printers, and even books and manuals. (parrot squawk) “There’s no money in the budget for manuals, no money, no money” but you should see management’s reaction when you take the books you paid for on to your next job !!!

    I gave my boss a list of the manuals and books I was taking, how much they cost, and how to obtain them. Boy, he wasn’t happy!

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