open thread – August 16-17, 2019

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

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

{ 1,965 comments… read them below }

  1. Bee's Knees*

    Oh my word. Friends.

    I have joked about this before on the AAM open thread, but I’ve decided it’s true. The Hellmouth has moved, and it’s moved here.

    My work is like a circus. But not a normal, fun, accredited one. No. It’s a shady, fly by night kind of circus. Where they still have tigers and stuff, and all the clowns look like criminals, and the people manning the rides look like they could disappear in a puff of smoke at any moment.

    Everyone is so stressed, and I’m trying to manage it with snacks, but we’ve got people working weekends, and they are not happy about it. They’ve worked every Saturday since the week after the 4th of July, and have only had the last two Sundays off. They’re working this Sunday though. Our corporate overlords are trying to make some greatly unwelcome changes.

    It’s not good. And if this one little pompus upstart VP doesn’t come swanning into my office with all these “great ideas” to improve moral, I’m going to hammer him through the concrete floor and into the dirt. Yesterday he comes in at 10:30 and wants lunch for 25 people. At 11. We are in a small town. Most of the places I get us lunch from I give at least 24 hr notice to. Sometimes more. We had lunch at 12. I headed him off today, I just went ahead and called yesterday on the off chance he’d want food today. Bless his heart, he thinks I was able to get a full course Italian meal here in like an hour.

    I still have to tell y’all about when I worked the overnight a couple of weeks ago. Here’s a teaser for you, it involves a creepy marriage proposal. Yay.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Ooooooooooh you had me at criminal clowns.

      I’m so sorry that this is your life! They used to call one of my former jobs a “zoo”, a lot of the passwords were even zoo related, no joke. But it was a fun filled one in my opinion, limited stress, just a lot of temperamental snarkbeasts, where you just didn’t want to stick your hands in the lions mouth, but the lions were clearly marked at least :(

    2. MissDisplaced*

      Why do companies always try to “Improve Morale and Engagement” when all they really need to do is treat their employees better? Give employees fair pay, decent work/life balance, flexibility and respect. It really is that simple.

      1. MarsJenkar*

        Indeed. If you feel the need to resort to gimmicks to improve morale, you’ve got a morale problem that won’t be addressed with said gimmicks. You’re better off figuring out what’s causing the morale problem and addressing *that* directly. Of course, if management *is* the problem, good luck getting it addressed.

      2. Nonny Maus*

        Way back a few years ago, when I still worked food service–we had our CEO show up, doing the ‘tour’ of the local stores. We were in the middle of our lunch-rush when he arrived, so we were all understandably stressed as usual in addition to his visit.

        Apparently we weren’t friendly or smiley enough, so he said something to a manager.

        He stays through tail end of lunch rush. Our manager of course, had passed on that we all weren’t seeming happy enough, to those of us working. CEO spoke to him again right before he left, and asked the manager “why we all seemed even more unhappy?”

        ….Gee, I wonder why?

        I was usually one who did my best to keep morale up of my coworkers, but even I was questioning the idiocy that day.

      3. Bee's Knees*

        This is the same VP who has a knee jerk reaction to everything, and a couple of weeks ago, suggested that we hand out food and drinks on the line. Where food and drinks are not allowed. Well, water is, but not the stuff he was thinking. I thought our quality manager was going to lose his mind.

        1. richard*

          lunch? in 1/2 hour? even just stupid sandwiches and chips wasn’t possible, even in a dense downtown like SF with a place on almost every corner. if we had a house account and they knew how much we spent there, maybe an hour or hour and a half. I could have ordered a stack of pizzas and they’d be hot but even then the timeframe would be similar.

          1. Kat in VA*

            Lunch for 12, sure, if you can handle Panera. Lunch for 25? Yeah, no – 24 hours notice. And I live in the DC metro area.

      4. Antilles*

        I mean, sure it’s simple enough. But stuff like “paying employees better” and “hire more employees to keep work/life balance”, and so on? All that stuff costs money, energy, bureaucratic effort, etc.
        So you end up with ridiculous window dressing solutions like “branded coffee mugs” or “pizza on the last Friday!” or “award certificates” because they’re basically a way to show you’re Doing Something in a very low cost/low effort manner.

          1. Life is Good*

            Yep. We let you wear jeans on Friday……except you have to pay $5 for the privilege so we can make a company “donation” to a charity the big whigs choose.

    3. Dame Judi Brunch*

      You had me at your descriptions of the circuses!
      I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this! It does sound like hell!
      What is it with employers thinking free food will fix all? It does not.

      1. Bee's Knees*

        It really doesn’t. For my part though, that’s the easiest thing that I can do to make the best of a terrible situation. I can’t give them a day off, or make the machines run any better. I can make several grocery store runs (leaving soon for my third of the week, actually) and make sure everyone is at least fed.

        1. Dame Judi Brunch*

          You’re doing your best with what you’re able to do.
          I was referring to employers with the power to grant days off, and make work better in general, instead of just providing food.
          I hope everything gets better for you all soon!

        1. Grand Admiral Thrawn Is Still Blue*

          Well, every shady circus needs a special flair, so that will be our treat next Friday.

    4. PlatypusOo*

      I’ve had a lot of crazy jobs working with boundaryless loons. I have a lot of funny stories from over the years but the problem is that Crazy becomes the new Normal. That part is way, way not funny.

    5. Emily S.*

      I’m so sorry about this. Obviously, this was not you expected at this job when you started!

      The stress sounds overwhelming.
      Sending positive vibes your way!

    6. gsa*

      Please keep the people on the line safe. I don’t know what y’all do, but it’s top priority in my mind.

    7. I WORKED on a Hellmouth*


      It sounds like you’re doing your best, and I am so sorry a Hellmouth has opened. If you need a list of new coping strategies just let me know–this is one thing I have legit expertise in.

      1. Grand Admiral Thrawn Is Still Blue*

        Did you ever start a special blog or something that chronicles all yours? I really wanted to know the rest of the story.

        1. I WORKED on a Hellmouth*

          Well, I have a page set up through Blogger, and also a few posts/retellings saved on my laptop, but haven’t posted them yet. I’m trying to get a decent stockpile built up so there’s plenty to read before I start publishing them.

    8. Pam*

      It’s beginning to feeel like we’re on Oprah.

      YOU get to work in a hellmouth!
      YOU get to work in A hellmouth!


          1. Kat in VA*

            Nor I!

            I work in a cat herding palace, except half the floor is covered in sticky tape and the other half has unpredictable rain showers…

            And my boss is the big scary Newfoundland who comes in joyfully barking and slobbering and doesn’t understand why all the cats scatter when they see him!

    9. Midge Maisel*

      This doesn’t sound anything like the Hellmouth. It sounds like a disorganized, stressful place, but the Hellmouth was just beyond comprehension.

  2. Sharkie*

    What are your office traditions when someone is moving on to a new role? It is the last day for one of my coworker’s and my boss doesn’t want to do anything.

      1. Sharkie*

        That’s how it was at my old job, usually a card from the team. There are 6 of us in the office so it just seems weird not to acknowledge it

        1. Nott the Brave*

          In my old office, we didn’t do anything, but the person who was leaving usually sent out a goodbye/keep in touch email on their last day.

    1. AlexandrinaVictoria*

      We’re getting ready to have a potluck as we speak, and have gotten a card we all signed. Too many of these lately. New management = mass exodus.

    2. Ashley*

      It depends on if people liked them. I would go with offering to buy them lunch if you can afford it and want to keep a professional relationship with them.

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      Same company, new role? Usually just congratulating the person. At my last workplace, we had people moving into new roles all the time. No parties or lunches. Just a lot of “Congrats!” and well-wishing sentiments.

    4. NYCRedhead*

      Usually nothing. My feeling has always been that your reward is the fact you have a new job. Retirement is different, though.

    5. Fortitude Jones*

      I’ve been taken to lunch when leaving a company, and my last employer also gave me a Starbucks gift card. Nothing fancy.

    6. Alex in Marketing*

      It depends on the office and the relationship you have with your co-workers. When I left my previous job, my boss and our (shared) assistant pretty much said nothing to me and let me leave without saying good bye. One of the other people on my team took me out to lunch during my last week.

      I was a little disappointed in my boss because I thought we were the close, “family-knit” team he branded us as.

    7. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Depended why they were leaving…

      Emigrating or otherwise moving away? Total career change? Retirement? Family career break? – collection with card signed by everyone presented rather excruciatingly in front of everyone, go out for lunch together (everyone buys their own) and possibly drinks after work (ditto).

      Pay rise or promotion at a competitor? – no collection, no card, lunch (buy your own, management noticeably absent), very awkward speech, slink out of building when IT login cuts out.

      Either way, inexpensive lunch (e.g. Chinese buffet or pub).

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          I agree, it’s a weird thing to do for most job changes, but where it’s culturally ingrained and you can afford it then it’s harmless to throw in the cost of a coffee or similar.

    8. CB*

      We’ve recently gotten into a groove where the whole department (~25 employees) is invited to have breakfast tacos at a local shop on the employee’s last day (our university has a requirement that employees must report to work on their last day). The department pays for everyone’s tacos and coffee and everyone spends about an hour having fun and casual conversation. It’s optional and happens at the very beginning of the workday to allow the greatest number of people to attend. We also do a card and small gift/token of appreciation.

    9. Mama Bear*

      Last job we took the team out for lunch or we might do a Happy Hour, depending on the person. If you like this coworker, I’d suggest lunch for the person, even if everyone buys their own and chips in for the honoree.

    10. Mediamaven*

      I think there are a lot of variables. If we have someone who made great contributions to our business we’ll have a great send off. But if someone has been there a short time then we do nothing. We had an employee depart after less than 5 months with us and the team wanted to have a celebration. After all the expense that goes into hiring and the hardships it puts on the company, I had to shut that idea straight down. And I could tell that I was enemy number one for that. So I’m actually going to address it in a staff meeting. So, long story short, it depends on what the person’s contributions are. Anything less and two years doesn’t really deserve anything in my opinion.

    11. kittymommy*

      If they’re leaving the organization as a whole: lunch one day, cake & card on their last day in the office.
      If they’re moving departments: nothing.

    12. Ammonite*

      At my old job, the department went out to lunch with the departing person (department head paid, or close friend of person fought them for the check). At the lunch, the person would be presented with a card signed by everyone and a small gift (something like a coffee mug and chocolate, or a Starbucks card).
      At current job, it depends on the person, how long they’ve been here, and what they want to do. We recently had someone leave after 10 years and held a large, catered, drop-in gathering in the mid-afternoon. She requested this because she worked with people in a lot of different departments so wanted to say goodbye to everyone but didn’t want to impose on their time for a lunch gathering. Another person left after 3 years and we did a small happy hour after work with just our department. The office paid for food, we paid for our drinks and made sure that the departing person didn’t pay for anything. We gave her a card with our well-wishes and a piece of framed artwork for her new office.

      My advice is to take the lead of the departing coworker. If they seem at loose ends, try to do something to help tie things up in a bow- grab lunch with them and a few of their office friends, invite them to coffee in the afternoon, see if they’re interested in an impromptu after work drink. If they seem happy to work and leave as usual their last day without fanfare, let them do that.
      Since they’re leaving today, it’s too late to organize a big gift or anything (and that’s really unnecessary if it’s not your office’s culture), but a card signed by everyone is always a simple but appreciated touch.

        1. Ann Onimous*

          That seems weirdly adversarial… unless of course, the colleague in question is being let go for some awful behavior or something.

    13. Nicki Name*

      To a new role in the same company? None at any job I’ve held.

      To a new job at a completely different company? At some jobs there’s been a farewell lunch, at some not.

    14. Justme, The OG*

      My team is six people. When one of my coworkers left last month we had lunch out and cake.

    15. theletter*

      From a business perspective, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to celebrate attrition. I’ve seen a few retirement parties, or farewell parties for people who’ve been at the company for a significant amount of time, but other than that, it’s almost always up to the coworker’s friends to organize something, usually after work hours.

      1. Not A Morning Person*

        I get that from one perspective it is attrition, but from another perspective it is how people are treated by an organization whether they are coming in or going out. I think it leaves a bad impression when an employee leaves and no one says anything or offers even a congratulations or some kind of small acknowledgement that a person was a valued colleague (assuming they were) and that they and their contribution will be missed. I agree that there doesn’t necessarily need to be a big fanfare, but ignoring it completely would tell me that is not a place that values its people and I’d notice how my colleagues were treated when they left and factor that into my engagement and whether I’d want to continue to work there.

      2. Anon for this*

        Haha, no, at old-old job “natural wastage” (as ‘attrition’ was termed) was celebrated internally by HR as people we don’t need to push out on spurious reasons and pay severance for, and certainly not given any recognition to the actual person at that point.

    16. Jan*

      Depending on the person, something or nothing! Attorneys get a grand going-away farewell lunch or dinner. Staff is usually taken out by their friends (which I would prefer)

    17. Kathleen_A*

      We usually take people out to lunch, and there’s usually a card, and there’s always an email (though, mysteriously, the email doesn’t always say where they’re going, which always seems so odd to me).

      Unless they’re fired, of course – though that’s technically “moving on to a new role,” too, right? :-)

    18. Bagpuss*

      Normally someone who works with the person (not a manager ) will organise a card for anyone who wants to to sign, and may arrange lunch-where everyone pays for themself. Where I work now it’s not normal to have a collection but in a previous workplace there would be a an envelope go round with the card, you would contribute a little and the money would be used to buy a gift and / or flowers
      The employer wouldn’t normally do anything.
      Where someone is retiring, then there will usually be a card and collection, but management would typically give a separate card, flowers and gift.

    19. Kiwiii*

      At the job I just left, we made sure to all get lunch together one time in my notice period (and my sup paid for me) and then my last day someone brought me cupcakes and we had them with chips and salsa. But we were a small all lady human services team and I was 7+ years younger than everyone else and made significantly less than them (associate role while everyone else was coordinator or senior) so they all doted on me a bit and were glad I was moving on.

      At the job before that, I got a card signed by the team, my cube decorated a bit, and a plant and balloon from my sup. Also human services.

      At the job before that, I was mostly given dirty looks besides a couple well-wishes and was scheduled all the way through the weekend before the Monday I went to the new job. They also shorted my last paycheck, but that was retail.

    20. LurkerVA*

      Nada. Departments do stuff sometimes, but most of the time I don’t even know someone’s leaving until they’re gone. There’s never a company announcement.

    21. The curator*

      Last day the person leaving (usually an intern) gets to choose what lunch will be for the whole gang. So far we have had ice cream sundaes, a Japanese feast of sushi and ramen, and pizza and salad. I usually give a book. Ask a manager is my go-to and/or something related to their interests. These are on my dime as the University has no fund for presents and we are not allowed to buy food.

      1. richard*

        lunch? in 1/2 hour? even just stupid sandwiches and chips wasn’t possible, even in a dense downtown like SF with a place on almost every corner. if we had a house account and they knew how much we spent there, maybe an hour or hour and a half. I could have ordered a stack of pizzas and they’d be hot but even then the timeframe would be similar.

    22. Drago Cucina*

      Depends on the reason for leaving, length of time with our organization, etc. Today was someone’s last day. I brought in tacos for everyone. Not fancy, but this person had previously left for another job and came back after three months. Now 18 months later he’s accepted a better paying job with better benefits.

    23. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      Has this just never come up before so boss has no idea what to do or as I suspect… is your boss resentful on some level of the person leaving?

    24. Ann Onimous*

      In the vast majority of companies I worked at, the person who was moving on would bring in some snacks and sweets, and then send a thank-you e-mail.

      I had always found the thank-you emails very cheesy, at my first job, so I resolved not to send one. Just said a quick bye to 5 people, literally 10 minutes before leaving on my last day. I later found out that other people had also asked for me, and not been aware I had left. So ever since, I made sure to send an e-mail and bring snacks.

      The only exception I can think of, was at one place where we also bought some small going-away gifts. I’m not entirely sure about other people, but my own gift was very thoughtful. Which actually surprised me, since I was feeling incredibly alone, depressed and all-around burned out, when I left.

  3. Jessen*

    So I officially have ADHD (as opposed to unofficially “I’m pretty sure I have ADHD”).

    Small question here. Names. I have zero memory for names. It usually takes me about 6 weeks of regular contact with a person to remember their name. I’m worried about this being an issue for networking and future stuff, because you can’t say “I talked to, uh, some guy at the event.” How do you remember names of people you’ve only met once or twice? And how do you cover for when you should know someone’s name but don’t?

    1. Nott the Brave*

      I have this issue! One great tool for networking is a spreadsheet listing a person’s name, their contact info, and where/why you met them. I’d also include a date that you last contacted them, so you can remember to reach out occasionally.

      I’m also pretty good at working around using people’s names – and making it clear to people I know that they should introduce themselves.

      1. Jessen*

        Could that be put on your phone somehow maybe? Because I guarantee I won’t remember the names long enough to get to a laptop! That honestly sounds really useful though.

        Now I wonder if I could put together a little thing on my phone that would let me enter that info into an app and then stick it in a spreadsheet elsewhere.

        1. Nott the Brave*

          There is a google sheets app! Or you can stick it in your notes section and try to update it once a week or so.

          1. Jessen*

            Now I really want to try to see if I can make myself a little app or something though. No idea if I actually can or not, but I can’t do anything worse than break my phone trying (and I don’t think I can do that either). And I need a new phone anyway.

        2. Matilda Jefferies*

          Evernote, or a similar note-taking app. You can take a picture of a person’s business card, then add whatever other notes you need about their appearance, where you met them, etc.

          1. Jessen*

            That sounds really handy! I don’t want to rely too much on business cards either, because “business card” translates to “small, easily loseable piece of paper” in my brain. It’s much more reliable for me to not lose my phone.

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

              Can you get a phone case that has the ability to store a few business cards? I have one that has a slide-open compartment on the backside that fits either my ID and credit card or a few business cards. It’s a bit bulkier but very useful. Or forgo the BCs and keep a small list in there. I realize that sounds like a hassle over just entering the info on your phone, but IMO, it’s way faster to open the little compartment for a quick peek rather than navigate through apps on my phone.

              1. Jessen*

                Unfortunately, probably not without replacing my phone. I don’t have one of the major flagship phones, so cases are very limited (I can barely even find them on amazon). I do typically carry and keep track of a purse, so it would probably be better to keep something small in there. I’m not in the habit of wearing business attire that contains pockets, so everything has to go in some form of bag.

                1. GG*

                  You could just take a photo of the business card until such later time that you have a few minutes to enter it into whatever system you wind up using.

                  Also, I am awful at names of real people I meet, but for some reason the names of actors and fictional characters stick in my mind. So a trick I sometimes use is that when I meet someone new I think of an actor/character with the same name… “Nice to meet you Adrienne,” she says as she shakes her hand and looks at her face, meanwhile inside voice is going, “Adrienne, Adrienne.. Oh, Adrienne Barbeau!” Ding! Suddenly my brain does a lot better job remembering that person’s name.

                2. Jessen*

                  Ah, unfortunately actors and fictional characters are bad for me too. Even my own fictional characters.

                  I’m a DM/Storyteller/Gamemaster (whatever system you’re using) and I joke that my players can’t use the classic “find out if an NPC is important by checking if they have a name” strategy on me. Because I can’t remember the names of any of my NPC’s, even the absolutely plot-central ones. In campaigns I wrote.

            2. Married to ADHD*

              Google Keep will allow you to photograph the business card and keep it in your notes. You can set an alarm for follow up to remind you to add it to your spreadsheet at a later date. I recently attended a workshop for how to use Keep to organize my little ADHDlets and Mr. ADHD has benefitted as well.

              1. Sophie Hatter*

                I LOVE keep. I have ADHD. It’s like internet post-it notes! You can’t lose them unless you lose the internet!

        3. 8DaysAWeek*

          I use my Notes app all the time for my neighbors, their kids, and pet’s names. I have the same problem you do but I rarely see certain neighbors so this is helpful big time. Sadly I always remember their pet’s name but never the people….I don’t know what that says :P

        4. BTDT*

          If your phone has a voice assistant you can also speak your note. Sometimes I find that easier than typing. I’ll just duck into a corner real fast, act like I’m on the phone, and say “hey google, make a note that says I met Joe from ABC who blah blah blah”. Of course, this only works if I pay attention to the name in the first place, which sometimes doesn’t happen. But if it’s the first time meeting a person it’s still ok to say at the end “remind me again what your name was”.

        5. LSC*

          If your contacts are giving you business cards, you can try an app such as CamCard, which scans them and adds them to your contacts – there is a “notes” section where you can put the info of when and where you met the person.

    2. Sharkie*

      Hi! I have adhd as well and I make a game out of names. Beth in blue, Tom with the Tie stuff like that. To cover myself when I don’t remember their name is to ask common questions that might jog my memory “how’s work been” ect.

    3. Not a Real Giraffe*

      In terms of recalling people you met at an event, can you ask people for their business cards and then once you’ve left the conversation, write something on the card that will help you remember this person? Like “wore an orange bowtie, we talked about soccer.”

      You can do something similar with people you encounter at your office, where as soon as you done with the conversation, you write a note on your phone or somewhere. “James. Accounting. Helped with expense report.” Just something you can look back at and review to start building some kinda of mental recall about people you meet.

      1. Public Health Nerd*

        This is what I do. A coworker shared that she would dash off to the restroom at networking events and make notes. I was just at a conference and a lot of people were doing it as part of the interaction- but I’ll bet that depends on your field.

        1. Jessen*

          I’m kind of intro level IT right now, but I kind of feel like the more you’re adjacent to tech fields the more being attached to your phone is about expected.

      1. Alice*

        And write on them something to jog your memory. I do that in front of people. They love it — it shows that I actually do care about following up on our chat.

        1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          This is culturally-dependent, though. Writing on business cards in front of the people who gave them to you works really well in American office culture, but will offend people from Japanese office culture.

          That being said, it’s a great method if it works for your networking needs. Writing things down rather than relying on keeping auditory information in my head is key to me remembering stuff generally.

          In a different setting, the thing that got me to regularly remember the names of people I saw once or twice a year at conventions was to start taking really detailed notes of who said what with either names or descriptions attached, then flagging the ones with descriptions as “people I need to learn the names of so I can write them down where I wrote this description in my notes”. It basically gave me a specific list of people to learn names of, and also helped my brain see it as important because I had a specific “reason” to learn the names. In a few years I went from being one of the people who was particularly clueless about names to one of the people more likely to know someone’s name, but it was certainly obvious that I was taking all of those detailed notes so this would come across as weird in some situations. (Due to the type of convention, the general reaction I got was more along the lines of wanting to know if they could have a copy of the notes and various people looking over my shoulder to see if they could help me fill in blanks rather than people being weirded out.)

          If you are going to write yourself any kind of notes about people’s appearance/conversation topics to help jog your memory later, either on business cards or in other notes, make sure that whatever you write down is something that will be flattering or neutral if they happen to see it.

    4. Anonymous Educator*

      For what it’s worth, some of us don’t have ADHD, and we’re also terrible with names. Maybe it’s worse for you, but it’s certainly not uniquely an ADHD problem. I usually just try to say “I’m sorry. This is so embarrassing, but tell me your name again.” It’s always a little awkward, but it’s way more awkward to just pretend as if you remembered that person’s name. Don’t be shouting Mulva after someone in the street.

      1. AndersonDarling*

        I have Asperger and have a hard time recognizing faces, so there isn’t anything to attach a name to. But I recognize voices, oddly enough. I’ve learned to take lots of notes, and to just ask. I’ve never been offended when someone has asked my name, so I figure no one else is wounded when I ask their name.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Aphantasic and terrible with faces here, but yeah, voices are fine :) I’ve learned to embrace the power of “I know I know you, but I’m drawing a blank on your name, so sorry!”

          1. Triumphant Fox*

            I have found that it’s helpful if you can give them some detail. “I know that we met at X event. You work with teapot design for Llama wranglers. I’m sorry I’ve forgotten your name.” I find I can remember a lot about who people are, what they do, what their plans are, pets, etc. from a conversation but names are really hard.

        2. wittyrepartee*

          ADHD, but same. I have trouble recognizing faces, and if someone changes their hair it’s likely that I won’t recognize them anymore unless I see them very regularly. Voices and mannerisms are what I pick up on.

      2. Jan*

        True – I don’t have ADHD and am sh*tty at remembering names. Even 10 seconds after they walk away!

      3. Memyselfandi*

        Yes, I have a had time remembering names, especially people out of the context with which I have associated them in my mind. I may recognize them, but not know why nor can I recall the name. I act as if it is a given that no one remembers names, so I always remind people of my name, even if they seem to recognize me. That often prompts them to say their name, or I will tell them they will have to remind me of theirs. Also, at conferences, wear your name tag on your right shoulder. That way, as people go in for a handshake they can scan your information. I hate name tags that require you to look at someone’s midriff in order to see who they are .

        1. Jessen*

          My problem is usually getting the name tag high enough. I’m short and well endowed. It’s hard to position a nametag so it’s not at that awkward “stare at my boob” height. Especially if I’m wearing any sort of sweater or jacket that’s liable to come off during the day (more of a problem if they’re sticker name tags rather than pins).

          That’s all a little irrelevant, but I swear these things were all designed by guys!

    5. Muriel Heslop*

      Working Memory is often a struggle for people with ADHD and you may find some help by researching that.
      Here is how I help my students:

      Make notes in your phone whenever possible.
      Visualization can help.
      Mnemonic devices.
      In a pinch, “It’s so great to see you again!” and find someone who does know their name to help you. Also, I teach my students to be great at introducing people with, “Hey – do you know each other? You should!” and then get the name when they introduce themselves to another person.
      Be nice. People won’t remember that you forgot their name but they will remember if you were friendly and kind.

      Nobody is good at everything and lots of people struggle with remembering names. Don’t be too hard on yourself and do the best you can. Good luck!

    6. AndersonDarling*

      When I have a discussion with someone, I take notes just so I can write the person’s name down. If its the first or second time meeting the person, it’s still acceptable to ask them their name. Then I can go back to the notes and connect the name with the conversation.
      Internally, I will use the hierarchy in Outlook to root out people. If I know the nameless person works in Jane’s department, then I’ll look up Jane, navigate to Jane’s manager, and then see who is on that team. I can usually find the nameless person or at least narrow it down to 2 or 3 names.
      And finally, I’ve come to terms with not remembering names and will suck it up and ask. It’s better to be embarrassed for a minute than be panicked for a week because I can’t figure out who to send an email to.
      This doesn’t help too much when networking and the person disappears after you met them, but it helps for in your office names.

    7. Alice*

      I used to be really embarrassed about this. Now I’ve realized — hey, I forget things sometimes. As long as you’re not forgetting only the women’s names, or only the Hispanic people’s names, I don’t think it’s a big thing. Anyone who glares at me and say, “WE’VE ALREADY MET!!!!!” when I accidentally reintroduce myself is clearly not a person I really want to develop a stronger relationship with. I still say “please forgive me, thanks for reminding me” when someone says “actually, we’ve already met” — but I don’t feel guilty about it.

      1. Jessen*

        That’s fair. I think I’m less concerned about the awkwardness and more about being able to follow up. For example, if I want to email Janice Downing who works in the Pokemon Teapot department and who I talked to at the Little Monsters Convention, I’m going to have a very hard time of it if I can’t remember her name.

      2. Matilda Jefferies*

        Yes! And you can almost always say “I’m so sorry, I’ve forgotten your name,” and re-introduce yourself. I say “almost” because there’s a limit to how many times you can say that to the same person! But you can usually get away with it at least a couple of times, especially if you only see them once a year or so.

        This is a totally normal thing that happens to lots of people, so try not to worry too much about it. As long as you’re pleasant and polite, most people won’t even notice or care.

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          Especially if you obviously remember everything but the name – “I’m horrible with names, I’m so sorry, but you remember we met at the United Teapots event in St Louis in April where you told me about your double spout idea – how’s that progressing?”

        2. Teresa*

          I had someone that was working on a project with me introduce himself 12 times! I broke down and got a “Hi, my name is” name tag sticker. It worked.

          1. WantonSeedStitch*

            My husband has joked that he wants to have a name tag for events that says “Hi, my name is Mr. SeedStitch. I forgot yours again.”

      3. Newington*

        Yeah, I’ve learned to say “I’m sorry, I’m bad with names. What’s your name?” in a friendly tone without showing embarrassment. Nobody’s been offended yet, as far as I can tell.

    8. JanetM*

      I don’t have ADHD, but I’m awful with names. I’ve become very good at, “Hi, I’m sure we’ve met but I’ve lost your name. I’m Janet!” while putting out my hand to shake. Or hoping for name tags; I remember names better when I see them.

    9. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I think this is slightly culture dependent – I’ve found Americans much more assertive about giving, asking for and correcting names than British people.

      I am terrible with names but I’m open about it and will ask to be reminded at the end of a conversation, jot it down, yes business cards, etc. I sometimes fall back on the fact that I have to read lips, as people are happier to repeat a name you might reasonably have missed!

      I find it much easier to remember a name written with a face, so a quick check of their website or LinkedIn (or Facebook if social) reinforces the name with the face for me afterwards.

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          In that case I think you can be proactive/assertive about asking again. Keep the underlying attitude obviously “names are important so I want to get yours right and am working hard to manage that even though I find it difficult” rather than “I wasn’t listening because I don’t care” and I think you’ll be great.

          1. Jessen*

            Thanks – I think I’ve been doing this subconsciously a bit.

            Incidentally, after I posted this, I went to get some coffee and was talking to a coworker who said something like “I keep talking to you but I don’t recall your name?” I’ve been here for 10 months, although we don’t actually work together directly, but we’re in pretty much the same room.

      1. Newington*

        oh heck yeah, every British person knows at least one person who calls them Robert because they misheard their name when they were introduced six years ago and it’s never seemed like a good moment to correct them

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          “At this point honestly it’s easier to change my name to Robert by deed poll rather than tell the accountant it’s actually Robin.”

        2. Windchime*

          Not a work situation but I have a somewhat spacey sister who called her neighbors Trish and Jim for nearly a year before “Trish” corrected her and said that their names were actually Stacy and Roger.

    10. OnlySortaOrgd*

      to expand on collecting business cards — take a photo of the card with your phone. There are some business card apps out there even (I honestly cant think of one off hand, but I know they at used used to be A Thing. There are some good scanning apps too if you want to convert to a PDF). Keep a google doc or spread sheet with them. If you don’t have a card, a photo of a flyer or quickly writing their name in said doc helps.

      I’m honestly also pretty open about taking photos of cards/flyers. “Can I snap a photo of your contact info really quick so I have it for later! It’s been great talking with you and I’d love to follow up”, etc.

      1. Jessen*

        I was just thinking this! I have a generic scanner app already (works well for receipts). One of the other ADHD things is trying to minimize the amount of paper, because paper is easy to lose.

        1. Quinalla*

          Yes, no issue using this. Either right there with the person (really, who will be offended at you carefully storing their info?) or just after the conversation. I also use linkedin or company websites as I am much better with faces than names to find people if I can’t remember their name, but do remember their company.

          I tend to just write on business cards myself, this is very common in the States. Maybe get a special container for your collected business cards? I have one in my purse so that I don’t use them and tend to go through it the next day and add contacts to either outlook or spreadsheets as appropriate.

    11. Newington*

      Congratulations on getting it made official! I’m still at the “pretty sure” stage.
      I sometimes draw people and write their names down on a bit of paper on my desk, but it’s not infallible and could be a bit embarrassing if seen. I spent my first two months in this job convinced that two of my colleagues had names completely different from what they actually are, and after another six months their names still fall out of my head regularly.

      1. Jessen*

        There will be a rant about the process of making it official in the weekend thread. It’s a bit off topic for this one.

    12. NicoleK*

      I will ask for their business card and write the date and place I met the individual on the back of the card.

    13. EH*

      I’m bad with names, and have gotten more and more proactive about it as I age. There’s nothing as embarrassing as knowing someone for a couple years and not remembering their name (which I did a lot whenI was taking martial arts and only saw people in class). When I meet someone for the first time, I try to call them by name at least a couple times during the conversation, and definitely near the end of the conversation. Sometimes I even hold my fingers up like a picture frame centered on their face and say their name. If I keep my tone light, people tend to find it amusing, as far as I can tell. :)

      That helps me a lot, but I’ve also found that people are rarely offended by me forgetting their name, especially if I just say early on, “I am so sorry, I can’t for the life of me remember your name,” then I use the first-time tricks. I also listen sharply for when other people call folks by name and repeat it silently to myself a few times.

    14. Llellayena*

      Most people respond well to “I’m sorry, I’m bad with names.” It’s a common enough problem not to be weird. And some people are exceptionally bad: my mom had to make an ultimatum to my dad that “If you don’t use my name at the altar, I won’t marry you!”

    15. Kiwiii*

      I’m in the same boat! Even if I can’t remember a name, I try and remember ONE THING about each person I meet, so that if I meet them again I will already have the one thing to connect to them. It’s not usually their name, sometimes it’s their company or what they’re doing that weekend or a project upcoming, but sometimes it’s their name, and after meeting them a couple times it gets easier to add their name to the pile of stuff I know about them.

      Side note, at the job I just started there’s a guy who is technically on a different team but he comes to our meetings sometimes since he Used to be on my supervisor’s team and has kept a couple duties until I can be trained into them (small businesses, man). Definitely called him Jeff the first several days (not to him, but to other people) and was corrected to much amusement by a senior coworker yesterday, letting me know his name was, in fact, Ben.

      1. Windchime*

        Yeah, there is a woman on my floor that I always thought of in my head as Rita but her name is actually Laura. Not sure how I got that wrong for so long! (There is a Rita, but she looks nothing like Laura and she works in a different building).

    16. Daisy Avalin*

      I have this same problem as does my dad, with names of things as well as people. We call it the ‘if it’s not relevant right now, it’s not remembered syndrome’!

      Most commonly I find it with my sister’s kids who I see once a year on average. The problem is that my sister has a step-daughter with kids a year younger than each of my nieblings, and keeping track of which child belongs to each family (since I see them all at the same time) is difficult for me. I get round it by calling them all ‘Child’ including my daughter when she’s with them, and otherwise treating them all like they’re my favourite niebling! They don’t seem to mind, they seem to see it as my quirk!

      1. Lilysparrow*

        I also have the thing where I can “know” something perfectly well, but it can’t get from storage to my mouth in time.

        Which is why all children, including my own, are “sweetie”, “honey,” “babe,” “buddy,” “bunny,” or “noodle.” Or occasionally, “You there,” “that one,” or “the other one.”

        It’s at least partially genetic, as my grandfather apparently had an aunt called “Aunt Sister.” Her actual name was lost to oral history two generations ago. It’s written down somewhere.

    17. Coverage Associate*

      At a lot of the networking events I attend, people send LinkedIn connection requests from their phones while still talking to each other.

      Comforting story: I had a meeting Monday. I thought it was the first time meeting this woman. On Monday, so did she. But I guess when she entered her notes, she found we had actually met a couple of years ago. So we both forgot having met.

    18. Mayflower*

      What you want is a “personal CRM”. Beside names, a good CRM system can help you set reminders to follow up, track email history, integrate with your calendar, and so on. If you live on your Gmail get one that integrates with it, otherwise get one that has the best mobile app.

      As far as covering for when you forgot someone’s name – don’t! Just re-introduce yourself and wait for them to reciprocate, which they always do. Something like: “Hi, I am Jessen. We’ve met at event X!”, then wait for them to say their name so the two of you can laugh about how both your heads are a sieve. Human memory is tied to places – hence the Memory Palace technique – so this works for literally everybody, ADHD or not.

    19. OhBehave*

      Always ask for a business card. You can jot details on it once they’ve walked away. Or a quick note in your phone.

    20. Lilysparrow*

      99 times out of 100, it’s perfectly fine to say, “You’ll have to bear with me, I’m terrible with names. We met at the (thing), I’m (my name)”

      In some contexts I’ll even say, “Please bear with me, I have a brain thing and have trouble with names.” Most people will accept that, and not get wierd about it as long as you aren’t weird.

      One really good thing about getting into your 40’s is that more and more people have either dealt with, or worked closely with someone who has “a brain thing” of one kind or another – whether that’s chemo, or an injury, or a neurological something. It’s far more common than you realize until you start being transparent about your own.

      You’ll be surprised how many people are in the same boat with names, even neurotypicals. As long as you’re nice about it, it’s okay.

      In situations where I know that wouldn’t fly, I just don’t say it. “Oh, hey, good to see you! What have you been up to since (thing)?”

      And then the best luck is when someone walks up whose name you do remember, and you can say, “Oh, do you know Betsey Smitherton?”

      And then the mystery person will introduce themselves to Betsey, and you can add some detail that you do know about the mystery person whose name you now have. “Emmanuel did a wonderful presentation on colored glazes at the Stoneware Symposium.”

  4. Sunflower*

    Can someone recommend a tablet/surface for job searching/applying for jobs?

    Not sure if any tablets have the capability to edit word docs/PDF’s(it’s been a while since I looked for one) and drag and drop files. I can get a refurbished basic laptop if need be but it would be great to find a tablet that does this!

    1. Colette*

      There is a Word app that you can put on tablets – I have it on my iPad – and it works fine. I use OneDrive for external storage, and can attach files to email from there. If I were doing a lot of typing I’d use my external keyboard, though.

    2. wingmaster*

      I recently got the Samsung Galaxy Tab S4. I use it primarily to draw, but I do have the the Microsoft Apps (Word, Excel, Skype, PowerPoint). I also have a portable keyboard that I can connect via Bluetooth.

    3. Ranon*

      A chrome book might do the trick if you’re open to using Google docs (or office online)- you can find deals on swappa and they’re generally pretty inexpensive.

      1. lemon*

        Second this. Love Chromebooks. You can get a convertible one (I have the Acer R11) that flips into a tablet. Battery life is excellent, and it’s lightweight and easy to carry around in a backpack or purse. You can also run Android apps, so you can download the MS Word app if Google Docs isn’t your thing.

      2. hamburke*

        I was also coming here to say this – my kids use them for school and they are pretty powerful and durable (if they’re giving them to middle and high school kids, they need to be!). There’s some good ones out there new for $150ish and refurbished for under $100.

      1. noahwynn*

        +1, my last company had these and they were great. They were nice and portable but could also run all the Windows apps.

    4. Keener*

      I have a Microsoft Surface (about 4 years old now). It runs full Windows 10 so there is no issue with installing the full Office suite, or editing PDF’s etc. I got it since majority of the time I want a tablet like device for using on the sofa but I also need the capabilities of a laptop.

      1. LunaLena*

        Same here, I have a Surface Pro 3 with Windows 10 and have not only MS Office on it, but the full Adobe Creative Suite (not the Cloud, though, since I refuse to pay for a subscription). I got it because I prefer a laptop over a tablet, but also wanted to be able to draw directly on it with the stylus. The keyboard and kickstand work great, and it’s much more portable than my old Apple laptop. It only has one USB port, though, so I have a little multi-pronged USB plug-in for when I need to plug in an external hard drive, external DVD-rom, USB drive, and/or mouse at the same time.

    5. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      My work gave us 2-in-1 Dell laptops with detachable keyboards that work as Windows 10 tablets as well as laptops. They run Windows 10, so definitely work to edit work docs and such.

      I admit that I’m not thrilled with them, but I’m a grumpy “give me the command line, a pile of keyboard shortcuts, and a million configuration options” Linux user by choice so I’m not really the target market for a tablet.

      At my desk at work, I have it hooked up to a docking station with a real keyboard and multiple monitors, so the form factor doesn’t really matter (I’d still rather be using Linux, but that’s not the hill to die on for my job). On the go, I am not a fan of the little kickstand flap that comes out of the back of the top/tablet part of the device to hold it open while typing, because it’s harder to use it as a laptop on your actual lap than it was with a more traditional laptop. (It needs a flat surface for stability to type on the keyboard since you can’t just hang on to the free-hinged keyboard part while typing to keep it open.) People who actually appreciate non-typing ways of input (there is an on-screen keyboard similar to a phone keyboard available in tablet mode) probably would be less annoyed by this and just use it as a tablet in those situations, though. (I’m trying to get used to it, but typing is so very much faster, and I use keyboard shortcuts all the time.)

    6. ManageHer*

      I use an iPad Pro 12 inch as my main machine at home, and it was great for my recent job search. The Word and Excel apps are about as robust as their online versions, and I used Google Docs to save files. There’s a software update coming this fall that will make iPad Pro even more laptop-like.

      If your job searching in a field that uses encrypted email or requires NDAs as part of the search, though, you’ll want to stick to a laptop – document signature programs and email encryption often don’t work on tablets.

    7. Nesprin*

      Surface Pro! I love mine as its a laptop pretending to be a tablet and has a keyboard that can be detached.

    8. yeine*

      i have a surface go that i love a lot! it’s a 10″ touchpad screen and the keyboard is suprisingly nice at a pretty reasonable cost. just make sure you commit to the keyboard – the onscreen keyboard is awful.

  5. Mimmy*

    Quick question: How do you answer “How do you like your job” when you don’t really like it but can’t really justify your reasons for not liking it? Especially when the question is asked by coworkers or is asked by someone else in front of coworkers?

    I don’t *hate* my job but I don’t love it either and I am taking steps to move on. I’m an instructor for people with a certain disability; my students love my class and I enjoy interacting with them. However, it can be a little boring and I’m ready for something more substantial. Also, there’s just a lot of BS that make me (and my fellow instructors) want to tear our hair out sometimes. But from reading here, I know there are people with worse job environments than me. So it’s hard to justify why I have days when I want to quit right then and there.

    Yesterday, my supervisor and I were chatting with a third person and the third person asked if we liked our jobs. My supervisor said yes; me…. well…. I focused on the positive aspects but I couldn’t come right out and say that I wanted to move on in front of my supervisor (although she knows of my careers goals).

    1. SomebodyElse*

      This is one of those times where it’s perfectly fine to lie.

      3rd Person: Oh.. you guys are paperclip sorters? How do you like it?
      Sup: Yes, it’s the only job I’ve ever wanted to do
      Mimmy: Oh yes it’s exciting when I get to sort the big ones, it’s the challenge that I like the best

    2. Middle School Teacher*

      I used to say “eh, it pays the bills” (back when I had a job I was meh about).

      1. Donkey Hotey*

        I once heard “It pays the mortgage” referred to as “the Yuppie Nuremberg defense.”

        That said, my current job pays the mortgage.

    3. Catsaber*

      Focusing on positive aspects is a perfectly good way to answer that question. And you don’t need to have a “justifiable” reason for not liking it…sometimes a job is just no longer a good fit for your life or priorities, and it’s totally fine to move on, even if it sounds like there’s nothing really that bad about it. When people ask me this question, I’ll say something chipper like, “I love the students!” and then get them to talk about their jobs, so the focus isn’t on me.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        + 1

        This doesn’t have to be an emotionally fraught question. Just say what you do like about the job when you get asked this question, and then you don’t have to say you love the job overall.

      2. MarsJenkar*

        Indeed. I’ve seen a few responses in the thread that suggest outright lying, but some people (myself included) are actually wired in such a way that such a bald-faced lie cannot be delivered effectively (or in my case, *at all*). Focusing on positive aspects of a job, then redirecting to the other person, is a much better solution.

    4. Anonymous Educator*

      I think if your supervisor is present, it’s perfectly okay (almost necessary for survival) to lie and say you like it. But if it’s just in a social situation outside of work, you can just say “There are things I like, and things I don’t like—you know, like in most jobs.”

    5. Muriel Heslop*

      I’m a teacher and when people ask me if I like my job I usually reply with, “I love my kids! They’re great!” No one wants to hear that bureaucracy sucks, parents can be annoying and I’m frustrated by the aging building in which I work. I try to be positive when I can be. Good luck!

      1. Quill*

        I wish you good luck in teaching and a complete lack of classroom squirrels. (My mom also taught in an aging building, and…. yeah. Wildlife likes where children are, because children have snacks.)

        1. Middle School Teacher*

          Teachers have snacks too :) I like to shake my grade 8s down for Halloween candy haha

          1. Quill*

            Oh yes, but there’s nothing like discovering that a fifth grader left a bannana in their desk over a long weekend and that the squirrel that fell out of the attic wants it. :)

            1. Middle School Teacher*

              Fair enough! We’ve only been plagued by mice so far but our building is over 60 years old now so I figure it’s only a matter of time!

              1. Quill*

                My mom got shanghaied to squirrel wrangle by the extremely desperate facilities manager to deal with said squirrel.

                “You teach science – I need you to chase it so I can drop a basket over it.”

                I think they both would have preferred mice, which my high school had in abundant supply.

                1. Nonny Maus*

                  Your poor mom! And that reasoning…just. “here you do this vaguely adjacent thing?”

                  If it was a chase, wouldn’t Phys Ed be more appropriate? :D

                2. Quill*

                  Unfortunately, Nonny Maus, they were short a PE teacher at the time and their choices really did narrow down to “the two people most likely to have had their tetanus shots”

                  Fortunately my mom and the facilities manager are great friends, so post squirrel this has become a favorite story of theirs. :)

        2. Anono-me*

          When it comes to deteriorating and antiquated infrastructure issues, the best solution is a VIP volunteer who asks questions.

          Friend of mine taught in smaller town public school that had been built in the forties and never properly updated (except for the administrative offices of course). Then one of the VIP mothers started volunteering and asking questions. (What is this black stuff coming out of the heat vent? Why is the ceiling in the art room always wet? What are you doing about the asbestos when you fix the art room ceiling? Etc.) There is now a new school building.

    6. College Career Counselor*

      I think you handled it well. Assuming you’re not in an environment where you can speak freely (ie, in public or with your boss/someone else that you’d rather not complain in front of), you focus on the parts of the job that give you satisfaction or joy or that align with your skills/passion. It may not feel as complete or authentic to YOU, but if it’s accurate (as far as it goes), then I think it’s fine. If someone asks you to discuss something you don’t like, then you can either deflect (“nothing comes to mind at the moment”) or couch your response in generalities (“well, bureaucracy can be challenging at times in any organization!”).

      I don’t think you owe random/general 3rd party interlocutors complete transparency about your thoughts regarding the workplace and/or your future plans, especially if it’s not to your advantage to disclose that information.

    7. NJBi*

      I’m in a similar boat in terms of like, there’s nothing particularly wrong with my job, but I’m ready to move on. I usually say something along the lines of, “Oh, can’t complain, [insert specific thing I’m excited about/like a lot, even if it’s only 20% of my whole job/day-to-day].” No global/360 analysis at all. Keeps the tone light and gives me something I can genuinely enthuse about (since I’m not going to genuinely enthuse about my whole job).

      It works a little differently in my situation since I’m in an academic setting where we’re all kind of expected to leave to go to grad school after 1-3 years of service, and everyone knows each other’s timelines for how quickly we expect to move on (like, everyone knows Coworker and I are applying this cycle and so expect to be gone in a year).

    8. Gidget*

      Such a good question. I got asked this so many times in the past few weeks by my big boss. I just answered by being like, “I really enjoy X.” But I literally hate every other aspect of this job. It feels strangely dishonest to answer with a positive when the percentage of what you like in your job is so far outweighed by the percentage of things you dislike and you are trying to figure out how to get out.

    9. Falling Diphthong*

      “I appreciate the chance to X.”

      As Somebody Else says, it doesn’t even need to be true, just something people might generically like. But often there’s something–in your case, you can use X = work with students.

    10. QCI*

      Just because other people have it worse doesn’t mean you have to be grateful or should suffer through your own situation. Just because someone else is starving doesn’t mean I’m going to eat peas.
      Depends how honest you want to be, but I wouldn’t pretend to like it.

    11. London Calling*

      ‘Do you enjoy your job?’ is a question in our appraisals. I have a mid year one coming up and haven’t yet come up with a diplomatic way of saying what’s to enjoy in a job where colleagues treat you like an admin there to do their jobs for them and the department seems to be made up of women with the emotional maturity of 12 year olds squabbling over who is who’s bestie for ever and ever.

    12. Kes*

      I would just say it has its pluses and minuses, like any job (and if they ask or you want you can touch on some of these). I feel like this is pretty universally true so as long as your supervisor is reasonable it’s hardly a controversial thing to say.

    13. Kiwiii*

      I pick a thing I do that interests me in particular about the work I do (even if I hate that thing sometimes or hate the rest of it) and focus on telling them about that thing. People tend not to notice if you don’t actually answer your question and usually want to know that you like some part of it.

    14. hamburke*

      Justifying staying b/c “it could be worse” is marginalizing your feelings and current situation.

      I currently like my job but I didn’t like my last job. However, when asked directly, I always said that there were aspects that I really enjoy but like every other job, there are parts of it that I don’t really enjoy, but on the whole there’s more good than bad.

  6. CMart*

    Any small business owners (or general managers of small businesses) here?

    How do you deal with difficult customers or clients? Partly on a practical level, but I’m asking more on a personal/existential level.

    My husband and I own (and he runs) a qualitative service based business, let’s say Kitten Training. Business is good, lots of happy kitten owners and well-trained kittens but there always seems to be someone popping up with unreasonable expectations who then threatens to Go To The Internet if they are in any way dissatisfied.

    But, you know, while it’s certainly possible that your kitten could learn to ride a wee tricycle while balancing a goldfish on their nose on command, and we’ve had one Tabby and one Calico in the past do so successfully! we certainly don’t guarantee that and those were truly exceptional kittens who put in a lot of work. And yet there is chronically one kitten owner who signs up for training who very aggressively expresses their disappointment when their kitten has “merely” mastered tap dancing (which is still quite extraordinary).

    We’re only in our first year of ownership (bought the business pre-established from the prior owner after working there for several years) and it’s just terrifying to worry if this is the irrational kitten owner who will somehow bring the whole thing crashing down if they’re persistent enough. We rely on word of mouth and people being happy about how their kittens act after they leave us so the “I will RUIN you if you fail me” customers are so stressful, now that it’s our livelihood and reputation on the line.

    1. MOAS*

      Ok the image of kittens tap dancing is amazing.

      Not a small biz but my company that I work for does have a social media presence. One thing we do is encourage happy clients to leave good reviews. and of course internally, train staff to make sure there are less and less chances of unhappy clients.

      1. Heat's Kitchen*

        I was coming to recommend the social media presence as well. Maybe do a FB contest or give a free gift (like a keychain) if they leave a review and show it to you. Super happy customers and super upset customers are going to be the ones to leave reviews without you prompting. And you’re never going to have only happy customers. People get upset. Sometimes they’re unreasonable. Try to learn from why they’re unhappy, but otherwise don’t dwell on it and don’t engage.

    2. SomebodyElse*

      In your advertising, can you spell out what ‘typical’ training results are? And then put in a handy disclaimer that all kittens are unique and results may vary?

      Then if they pull the ‘I’ll tell the internet’ you could at least point to that information on your website or materials.

      Honestly though I wouldn’t give it too much thought. If anything I read 1 star reviews to see what reasons were given for that review. Most often it’s your trike riding fish juggling kitten person who has unrealistic expectations.

    3. merp*

      This sounds tough, but I think if you encourage those who are happy with their kitten training (I love this metaphor, the mental images are amazing) to be vocal to others/online, it might ease the impact of anyone with unrealistic expectations. And in the past I also have relied on the truism that unreasonable people will appear unreasonable to others most of the time – they are making themselves look bad, not you. Anyone who buys into what they’re saying temporarily will have a chance to see them being ridiculous if they do it that often.

      1. Mama Bear*

        Agreed. When I see two one-star reviews and fifty 4s and 5s, I chalk the one-star up to a bad customer. I would encourage happy folks to review your services to counterbalance. When I was in Customer Service, there was always someone screaming about reporting us and half the time my bad reviews were because they didn’t like a non-negotiable rule. Or they tried to scam us and I caught them. Last time I checked the old company is doing well, so… I also agree that you might have to “fire” them in a way that makes it sound like they are just too darn special and need different services than you provide. And occasionally you may have to respond to a public post – be factual and calm and most people will see that you did try to help resolve the situation and will view the screamer as an outlier.

      2. CMart*

        I do also try to remind myself that any time I see some negative review (“Applebee’s did not have filet mignon nor the 1976 Bordeaux I asked for! What business do they even have calling themselves a restaurant, then??”) that it’s usually obvious if it was a legitimate concern or not. But I do also, you know, see people online who share poorly photoshopped images of a baby wearing a coal miner’s outfit and express genuine outrage that people are forcing babies to work in mines.

        It’s so hard to get happy customers to leave reviews! I wish bribing people wasn’t unethical (and probably against review sites’ TOS) because at this point it feels like we gotta slip someone $10 to go say something nice even when they’re genuinely happy.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Yeah, I usually dismiss 1 star reviews that have no details, and also 1 star reviews that sound like the ravings of an irrational loon.

        2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          It’s technically against the TOS but believe me, most places do it on some level. They will often filter out things if someone is only setting up an account and leaving their first review that’s super short anyways, for that reason.

          You can certainly still encourage people to leave a review though, even the nudge to do so works at times. Put the links on an invoice or put that Yelp sticker they sent you on your front door if you can, etc. Sometimes people just need that little “Oh shoot yeah I love this place, I’ll leave them a review.”

          [This depends drastically on the size of your town though, smaller ones not so much but the bigger it is, the more likely people will think to review.]

        3. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

          crud! this reminds me – I need to leave a reasonably positive review for the engineer who fixed my washing machine today; arrived on time and finished quickly and neatly. Even if he spent the entire visit singing *just two lines* of “Fly Me To The Moon” on repeat every time he needed to unscrew/re-screw something…
          And then he gave me a card with the job number and name and the website to leave feedback on – rather annoyingly it says “If you’re pleased with my service, score me between 9-10”.
          Don’t do this – I will score you as I see fit, and if your scale goes to 10, don’t *tell* me to score you 10!

          (I’ve just realised why it’s so hard to get happy customers to leave reviews!)

          1. Another worker bee*

            So, the guy is probably working with NPS (net promoter score), which has a super broken scaling system, where ONLY a rating of 9-10 is actually considered positive. 7/8 are neutral and anything 6 or below is negative. Your net promoter score is an aggregate of these those things, so the only thing that gives him a positive score will be that 9 or 10.

            Before I learned about this, I just gave everything 7s and 8s all the time because that means “good, would probably use again, slight room for improvement” to me, but now I think twice after working for a place where we used that NPS system!

            1. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

              Ooh, interesting!
              I’m like you – 7’s and 8’s all the way, so I’m going to have to revise my thinking.
              It still grates to be forced into a 10 – I don’t believe I’ve ever experienced “perfection” (that s*dding earworm song is still there and I’ve been listening to an 80’s radio station for ten minutes!)

              1. CMart*

                Yes – in general if you’re doing a survey if you were generally happy with the experience give the top rating!

                I used to work for TGI Friday’s and their receipt surveys were on a scale from 1-7, and ONLY the 7’s counted as “people were happy to be there”. Anything less than a 7 was a ding against the restaurant.

                Seemed like a bad metric to me, but I was just a bartender and no one asked me.

                1. Seeking Second Childhood*

                  And then there are the people who have a different internal rating system and don’t read the rules: “This is my all-time favorite restaurant so I’m going to rank them as #1!”
                  On a scale where 1 means “I already called the health inspector.”

      3. writelhd*

        Hi, I work in an insanely complex industry in which the product is a huge and very personal investment, clients have incredibly low trust of industry practitioners (sometimes not without good cause) and success depends on coordinating quite a lot of different people (who could all make mistakes) and moving parts on any given day. And this was definitely true for us. We had one really upset and irrational customer totally blow up our social media with how awful we were. But he was so clearly unreasonable that many of our happy customers actually rushed to our defense for us. We didn’t have to do anything in particular but maintain the same level of professionalism we always do, and just not be afraid while doing it. (and it fact it is better in situations like that to just not respond directly, except perhaps to make a public statement about your general policy or some such thing, if it’s appropriate, and if that general policy is in fact reasonable)

        It probably did help to create that situation, though, that we were strategic about cultivating social media connections with happy customers, by regularly posting content, responding to people’s inquires through social media, etc during the normal times. So that when the unexpected happened we had the framework in place.

        However you also asked about how to deal with it “existentially”, to which I think you might mean how to not take it home and think about it and let the anxiety and upset wear at your soul. And I don’t have a perfect answer for that. I altered my expectations over time about what to expect from the customer experience based on how complex our particular industry is–there’s so many moving parts that they really are unlikely to have a perfect experience and if so that is actually unlikely to be directly my fault or in my control, so accepting that up front makes each one that comes up less of the existential panic attack that it once was. I have trained my brain to realize that a client in need of mollifying about something legitimate, as well as things that aren’t legitimate, is part of the journey that will happen every time. And thinking that all I can control is how I react, express empathy with the customer, and at least explore my available options to solve their problem within the boundaries of what is fair, right, and available.

        Surprisingly that mindset makes the people with obnoxious, entitled, and totally unrealistic and illegitimate gripes easier to deal with too, somehow.

        1. ILikeMeJustFine*

          I’m going to guess you’re making a custom product for people or delivering a custom service, the success of which is entirely subjective but is also deeply personal. Something like wedding planning, home remodeling, or record producing. Am I warm?

    4. JJs Diner*

      Can you do some sort of orientation to better set expectations? Like, here is a tour of our facility, look- we have a kitten class happening now, here are all of the little details… and then slide in there that each kitten is different and while some may get to the end of training, some may not, but that the experience is important anyway for socializing/future training etc. I own my own business and I frequently get questions like this. I preface everything with “I can’t guarantee anything but…”

      1. CMart*

        We’ve spent some time fine tuning the first meetings/sign ups, as well as the mid-training program updates wondering if maybe we weren’t being clear enough with expectations and such. My husband is pretty content with his “spiel” now.

        I try to assure him that at a certain point there are always going to be unreasonable people. You can say “we absolutely cannot teach them to ride a tricycle” and you will still have someone who, midway through the program, burst into the training facility furious that their kitten cannot work the pedals on the trike they bought them.

        He’s just really struggling with how to deal with that. Being calm and clear and apologetic is about the best he can do, but the stress and worry and guilt consume him.

        1. JJs Diner*

          I deal with that too. I’ve had to turn off notifications and make sure not to look at my phone too much after work because reviews and critical feedback just KILLS me until I calm down and figure it out. You’re totally right- you’ll still get negative feedback or people who don’t understand what to expect. It’s just a part of doing business! But if you look at all of the other businesses around you, they all have negative reviews too- no one is perfect- and they’re still in business you know? It’s not going to kill your business unless it’s valuable feedback that you don’t learn to incorporate.

    5. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Sliding in here like a baseball player.

      It’s usually worth placating these people and save yourself the bad reviews if at all possible. This is sadly the cost of doing business and when you’re this size of setup, word of mouth and reviews can really hurt you in many ways. Sure you’ll always get a few quacks who will complain and take it to the internet, most people browsing Yelp or other review sites already know that those people are out there and roll their eyes at those reviews. So it’s not a ‘never a bad review ever’ but yeah, it’s kind of like they hold us hostage in ways.

      The thing is also to remember no one is single handedly going to topple the business unless it’s on the ledge [if you’re struggling for business and capital is dried up kind of thing, long term stuff not just a bit of a slow period.]

      This is owning a business. You find a delicate balance of bending over for customers and finding ways to “fire” them when possible. I would do a “I’m sorry that we can’t reach your expectations for Fluffy! I’ll be refunding your money immediately and I wish you the best with your kitten training!”

      Everyone is going to have unsatisfied customers. It’s all about treating everyone with dignity and respect, being the bigger person and letting them get away with some nonsense at times because it’s good for business. Do not let people take you for a ride, cut your losses as soon as you realize you cannot reach their expectations! And do not dig your heels in unless you’re really out a lot of money, losing money on some sales will always be a thing. This is why your margins need to be on point and high enough!!!

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Seriously, if you’re nice to people, even if they’re cooky and out to lunch all day long, asking you to build their cat a spaceship and teach that cat to go to the moon, you smile and go “Awww I wish I could do that, it’s in the plans for later if the technology catches up! But at this time, it’s not possible. Can I interest you in some basic cat training sessions?”

        They may go away unsatisfied that you can’t send Fluffy Butt to the moon tomorrow but they aren’t mad at you because they know you “tried” or you at least treated them nicely. Really, just don’t let them see you judging them or get snarky with them. Tone tone tone tone.

        Real story, I was brought on as a young woman with very little actual customer service background. I was 22, what do you expect, right? My background was in accounting. Within about a year I was running the place for the owner who’s health was in rapid decline and I did so for over a decade.

        I had a lot of people notice and speak about how my customer service made things so much better. They were still experiencing the same issues and angry third party customers [wholesaler, talking to retailers, who were dealing with the consumers]. And even when I had to say no, I still bent enough that they weren’t left with an enraged person. It helped their reviews and also our own in the end. All it took was treating them kindly, listening and giving them that little bit more of wiggle room.

        Lots of things that cost relatively little to fix were done. They were upset that there was a ding on the backside of something [most don’t care, it’s facing the wall], I went ahead and gave them a small discount and they were thrilled by it. So much can be done by just saying “Oh man, here’s a credit for your pain and suffering!” kind of stuff. This was the years before free-shipping so free-shipping was huge to most if you offered it or if I offered $25, they at least thought “well now I can treat myself to dinner with this new dining room table.” and they went away happy. Lots of “They fixed it, we love them, they make it right!” from the ones who come out of the gate swinging all “you have wronged meeeeee.”

        1. CMart*

          Thank you so much for your detailed replies, they’re really helpful (my regular job is also manufacturing accounting and I often find myself nodding along to your comments on other posts).

          I think my husband does a good job with being warm and kind and setting realistic expectations – exactly what you said up at the top, “ah, we can all wish for that eh? Here’s the great programs we DO offer and a realistic range of outcomes. Here are the things your kitten needs to do in order to get the most out of our program…”. I don’t see him in action so I can’t know for sure, but he’s reenacted things for me.

          Your other point about cutting losses might actually be the best tactic here. It stinks to lose that sale, but it’s probably worse to take an unreasonable person’s money and then (naturally) fail to live up to their unreasonable expectations.

          So when a kitten owner says “I want you to send Mr. Chuckles to the moon”, we say “aw, wouldn’t that be fun? We can sign him up for jazz dance, and if he’s really talented perhaps he can tap dance too” and their response is to sign Mr. Chuckles up for jazz and then complain he didn’t go to the moon after the 2nd lesson… it’s probably just time to refund the money and apologize, eh?

          1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

            Are they just doing the “Aw shucks, I wanted him to be an astronaut not a jazz dancer.” or are they doing a “Argh, I can’t believe that you turned my cat into a jazz dancer, I said astronaut!!!!”?

            I have to wonder if they’re just kind of like “Darn, not the exact thing I wanted but this is still good enough but shucks I wanted Mr Whiskers Armstrong to follow his true dreams of space travel!”

            I have people who are not truly satisfied by just about anything. “This isn’t the best ice cream EVER, it’s not coconut flavored just vanilla.” but then they are at your ice cream truck eating up that “just vanilla” stuff.

            Then they’re just a quirky person who likes to complain and don’t need to be fired.

            If they are actually complaining and acting like they’re going to leave you bad reviews until you teach their cat to fly that spaceship, then it’s time to cut them loose! I would at least approach it first with “Would you prefer a refund and to cancel your future sessions?” instead of making that decision, since sometimes when you say “We can’t do that. We can however refund you and send you on your merry way” then they go “oh no no no, Neil LOVES his cat training classes, I couldn’t do that but you know, just bummed he’s not going to the mooooooooon. *sad stank face*”

            I wish I could come and be a fly on the wall to give you more detailed advice but really, try to remember to treat everyone as an individual and don’t stick with an automatic ejection option. Just keep it in mind for when things are really breaking your mind over why this person will not just leave you alone. Sometimes they thrive on just being difficult and you can use judgement to say if they’re “worth” the risk involved.

            It’s like accounting. Think about the accounts you let have more rope than others. I let Big AF Corp name their terms and if they pay me in 120 days, fine it’s whatever, I know I’m getting paid because I know that it’s just their cycle. HOWEVER if Podunk one pony company is paying me past terms, bye bye bye bye byeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee gurl bye. It’s all about the risk analysis you’re doing at any given time. No two are created equal, there are things to look for and debate if that client is going to make you more money in the end by giving them slack or if they’re going to cost you money and grey hairs.

            1. CMart*

              The ones giving us ulcers are ones who are saying “I know you said cats can’t go to the moon, but I don’t even understand why you’re even in the kitten training business if you can’t promise that Mr. Chuckles will be landing there next week. That’s where cats belong, and I’m paying you to get him there. I have a lot of friends who will be asking about my experience here, you know.”

              I bartended at a chain restaurant for years and years before getting into accounting and feel pretty good about “reading a table” as they say – knowing if someone’s complaining just to hear their own voice or if they’ll actually be a problem.

              It’s just hard, because we care about the kittens themselves, you know? We might not be able to get them to the moon like their unreasonable owner wants, but we could still totally get them litterbox trained and not shredding curtains at the very least, if not helping them realizing their mousing potential or yes, maybe even tap dancing.

              1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

                Ah yeah those nitwits need to just be cut loose.

                Remind yourself that their “experience and network” is actually really small most likely. Unless you know for a fact they’re an important face in the community, they’re rarely important outside of their own headspace.

                Once you detach from their threats of “Great Importance” and “Knowledge is Greater Than Thou!” it’s easier.

                If they were So Great they would own their own GD kitten training school, lbr. Nah, they’re just boring basic annoyances. Refund their money and tell them to bounce to the astronaut training school wherever that is. You wouldn’t want them to “waste” their money! Word it like you’re looking out for their best interest as much as possible. “Sorry the drink wasn’t to your standards, we’ll comp that. Yeah that’s our only option, I’m sorry about that. We won’t be able to give do anything but give your money back and save you from !*more disappointment!*”

          2. writelhd*

            Totally agreed that, if you can get yourself to that place of stability, it IS worse to take an unreasonable person’s money and then fail to live up to their reputation than it is to just say “sorry, I don’t think we’re the right fit.” But that is still a balancing act, and an act of just reinforcing up front the boundaries of what you do and don’t do.

            1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

              “I’d rather have no business than bad business.”

              This is something that I heard from a lecturer I went to see about collecting debts. And I need it stitched on a pillow for my fainting couch that I need to put in my office one day.

            2. On Hold*

              Yeah, a big part of customer service is knowing when you can’t do something well and not trying to sell the customer on it. I was recently a supervisor at a complex, kitten-training call center, and we had plenty of people who escalated because “oh but can’t you even try getting Muffins on the moon? Just this once? How hard can it be, you just have to pick up the phone!”

              My answer was often some variation of “I really can’t – we used to do that/we’ve tried before/we’ve looked into it and it’s just not something we’re good at. I would rather tell you up front that I can’t do it, so you can find an alternate solution, than to tell you ‘ya sure, no problem’ and then screw it up and make everyone unhappy.” You can throw in “I know it sounds really simple, but… ” plus some (complicated, vague!) details of logistics if that will strengthen your case.

              Script if there are viable alternatives: “I totally understand how frustrated you are. How would you like to proceed from here? The moon really isn’t an option for this situation, but I could do tap dancing, juggling, or fire-hoop-leaping.”

              Script if there aren’t, or if they’ve already shot down everything else: “Sure, I totally understand. At this point, I’m not sure we’re the right supplier for your needs. I want to make this right for you, and I’m happy to offer a full refund* so you can find someone else who fits your needs better.” – This will show you really quick if the customer was just power tripping, or if they actually want out. LOTS of customers will come back with “oh no no no, you know what, the tap dancing will be just fine, thank you.”

              * “Full refund” = whatever makes sense in the situation and to the business: if they’ve already received something, or their order includes stuff that they definitely want to keep, it makes sense that they would need to pay for that. So you might be waiving penalties on canceling the rest of the order, or a minimum purchase requirement, or something else.

        2. Mimi*

          I worked for several employers administering employee benefits and handled a lot of issues involving health insurance. (You think cat owners get cranky when the cat can’t tapdance? It’s nothing compared to rage from someone whose doctor is billing them for services they thought would be paid by an insurance company!) It’s a tightrope you walk between the employee’s issue and the responsibility to the employer. I got a lot of fedback that I was was nice and helpful. As much as possible, I would be empathetic to the customer’s problem – as in “Oh no! your claim hasn’t been paid (yet or at all). Well, let’s look into this.” in my friendliest voice. Next, understand what the customer wants and then research the issue. Much of the time the answer would be simple and the issue easily resolved. If there was something that the customer could do, I would educate them: “Lab services were coded as A when they were actually for B, so it was paid differently. Here’s how you can get it fixed.” or “Yes, that prescription was costly but here’s a way to lower your costs next time.” Coming across as non-adversarial and knowledgeable while cultivating strong working relationships with the insurance company were the keys to my success. I’m retired now but I miss the satsfaction from resolving and issue and makingthe employee, if not happier, then understanding what is going on.

    6. Kenzi Wood*

      DUMP. THEM!

      I’ve been a biz owner for a year and that’s the best advice I’ve ever taken in my business. You’re allowed to “fire” bad clients, especially if they “threaten” you with a bad review.

      Even if you meet all of their expectations, they will STILL never be happy. That’s because they’re a crappy client and they aren’t someone you want to work with.

      And even when they do go public with a bad review (you’re gonna get one eventually, that’s how it is), respond politely and rationally to the comment with reasonable expectations. If the rest of your reviews are 4-5 stars, this random 1-star is going to reflect more on the reviewer than your business.

      Good luck!

      1. CMart*

        Yeah, reading through these replies I think “politely issuing a refund and apologizing about being unable to meet expectations” (aka DUMP THEM) early on is the way to go. They’ll probably be grumpy jerks about it but at least they won’t be righteously indignant that we took their money and wasted their time and then failed to send their kitten to the moon.

      2. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        This! Be clear about what you can and cannot do for them, and if they really insist that they need someone who can get their kitten riding a tricycle in a week, well, your business is not a good fit for their needs and they should look elsewhere. Try to phrase it as helping them along in their journey toward kitten-on-a-tricycle greatness by getting out of the way and letting them find the person who can help them. (This other, more helpful trainer may not exist, but the key is to make that the unreasonable client’s problem rather than yours. Just because they’re looking for a unicorn does not obligate you to tape a horn to your head and try to gallop around to make them happy. They still won’t be happy and you’ll have burned up a lot of time and energy.)

        Basically, not every potential client is an actual client, and not every current client is a future client. The key is to do well enough that you have enough reasonable clients (new and ongoing) coming in, not to keep every possible person happy.

      3. A Consultant*

        One of the best pieces of advice I ever received was “Never be afraid of turning down work if it’s bad work / a bad client; even if you think you’re desperate for work, it won’t have value for you in the long run.” Now, I’m a business-to-business operation, so the Yelp review thing isn’t an issue to me. But word of mouth is still important.

        So, I’ve tried to get better at assessing at the INTAKE stage if the client has reasonable expectations for what I can do/provide. If they have unreasonable expectations, I’ll first try to mitigate them (i.e., I don’t think tricycles are possible; but we might be able to get to tapdancing. Would that be an ok outcome?). If they still don’t seem to get that, I tell them I think somewhere else will be better for them. I try to avoid getting to the complaining stage by not taking on their work in the first place. I’m not sure how feasible that is with “kitten training”, but it’ll save you a lot of headaches to send them packing before they turn irate after the fact.

        Good luck!

    7. Bananatiel*

      When I’m looking at businesses online I ignore one-star reviews if the owner responds calmly and respectfully. You really don’t have to explain your whole side of the story either, if anything that just makes it worse. If they refunded the customer and they’re still wildly angry, I can tell that was on the customer and not the owner most of the time. A simple “We worked with this customer to try and resolve the issue, refunded their money, and wish them the best finding kitten training elsewhere” says a lot to me. Offsetting those bad reviews with lots of positive helps a lot too.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        This is true as well!

        Just don’t be the owners who dig their grave so much deeper who respond hotly “This person is a total nincompoop who cannot be trusted!” [AKA don’t be that Amy’s Bakery lady or the weird mechanic’s shop that was right around the corner from my house but wow no I’ll take it to a major dealership and pay that money considering their outrageous responses from their company GM]

        I’ll even gloss over a few bad reviews that aren’t even responded to because most people aren’t relying on reviews alone and have their own ability to see through the nonsense. I’ve seen so many reviews for places I love, that I know are great and have great people who are all “Argh, they wouldn’t let me go into the kitchen and watch them prepare my meal and they refused to serve me on fine china.” and I’m like “Gurl, it’s a bar, yeah they served your corndogs and chicken wings in fry baskets, no you can’t watch them dunk your food in hot grease, sit down and drink another beer please.”

        1. Robbenmel*

          I am still amazed all these years later that an Amy’s Bakery actually existed. If someone had just described such an experience I would have been all, yeah, right, that didn’t happen. But it did, people. It did.

          1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

            I’ve known enough hysterically bad business owners over the years that Amy’s Bakery nonsense wasn’t that much of a shock to the system. She was like a cartoon villain, they do exist but usually not given a big stage like Ramsey gave her.

            I come from an area that was notorious originally for it’s cruddy business and thorny personalities, it made me really anxious as a kid needless to say and why I took forever to really get comfortable calling a customer service line or going into a new business as an adult. Thankfully that tide turned and review sites along with just the uptick in really good competition creamed the bad attitudes.

            It’s usually when you’re in a place where you don’t “have” to be nice, so you just let your stink hang out there and the customers take it or leave it but they’re not going to find another baker in this town, so whadda gonna do, man? [Small towns, hard sigh. Competition is beautiful for an equalizer.]

      2. CMart*

        Luckily (?) we’re a franchise of Kitten Training Co and the corporate arm manages all online responses – probably to keep hothead owners at bay from popping off in response to a negative review, haha. They’ll discuss what happened with us and then leave a very bland “thank you for taking the time to share your experience, all feedback is valuable. We spoke with you about this matter and hope it was resolved to your satisfaction, don’t hesitate to call XXX-XXXX again for anything” message.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      Be able to clearly articulate the services that you do NOT offer.

      My friend does contracting work. He does not do high roofs, big plumbing jobs nor furnaces. See how short this is but it gets the point across as to what to expect. I have given friends this short list and they have said, “OH! That is all fine with me, I will call him!” People are great, you can tell them what you can’t/won’t do and they still will be interested in doing business.

      You CAN turn down business. You can say, “I don’t think we are able to provide you with the level of service your setting calls for.”

      You CAN have them sign something that says, “I do understand that my kitten will probably not [or “will not”] ride a trike while balancing a good fish. By signing below I am agreeing and accepting training X, Y and Z and nothing further.

      Never underestimate the power of asking your happy customers to tell a friend or two.

      Work well with people in your arena, this means suppliers, competitors, complimentary businesses. Build a good name in the business community. If you are in a smaller area (rural-ish), these folks will warn you about Blackmailing Barbara or Rumor-mongering Robert. I have seen a community pull together about Nasty Nancy or Entitled Edward, as one by one business owners have told the person to take their business elsewhere. (The community I am talking about is around 30K people.) They warn each other about the behavior. Each customer gets a chance to have good behavior. When the poor behavior becomes apparent, the continued business relationship is ended right there.

      There is also nothing wrong with preemptively recapping your offering before they pay you. “I want to make sure we are on the same page here, we are doing X , Y and Z for little Sheba for $250. Is that satisfactory to you?” This works when you sense the person may be argumentative later. It really dials things back and gives you a foundation that you can refer back to. “Well, Entitled Edward, if you will recall, just before you paid me I went over exactly what it was you were paying for and you said you would be satisfied with that.”

    9. NotMyRealName*

      Be too busy to fit them in. Seriously, I have a list of people that we would only service if every other job were done (which will never happen). Small business is stressful enough. Spend your time and energy on the good people.

    10. Cows go moo*

      Every single business has bad reviews.

      When you get a negative online review, respond calmly and professionally. People understand there is always that angry idiot who whinges over dumb things. Your calm response and other positive reviews will counterbalance the bad ones. Ask happy customers to post a review for your business.

      Also, don’t be afraid to dump crappy customers. “Bob, we heard you on your complaints about X and we’ve done Z to try to address them. It seems like we haven’t been able to resolve your concerns so it seems like a bad fit here. We won’t continue with your project so you can work with someone who’s better matched to your requirements.”

      Don’t let 5% of angry customers take up 95% of your time. I had a customer who demanded an unreasonable refund for months, bullying our customer service staff and dropping by or emailing us to threaten that we lost a “loyal and dedicated champion of your brand.” You know what? That was just fine. I didnt want him buying stuff from us if it meant risking my staff being harrassed repeatedly and losing money from his demands for refund.

    11. Marika*

      In terms of the stress issue, I’m going to suggest something my aunt and uncle (who owned businesses for 45-odd years) always did: get something (a shirt, am apron, a hat, even just a name badge) with the company name/logo on it, and wear it at work. That item NEVER goes home with you — my aunt used to drop stuff off to be washed when it was clothing — and IT’S the object that’s taking the criticism. It’s a symbol, a stand in for the company, and a reminder that they’re not actually mad at ‘you’ the person, they’re mad at ‘you’ the company.

      Yes, you’re both, but it’s not actually ‘personal’, and having something that stays at work, that you literally TAKE OFF AND LEAVE BEHIND can be a really powerful mental trigger for letting go. My uncle is fond of saying ‘running a business is hard enough; I don’t need to carry other people’s s#!t home with me’.

      1. CMart*

        I love this!

        I used to work in the restaurant industry and the act of taking off the apron/uniform shirt was always very freeing. Never would have occurred to me to transfer that to a different kind of work life.

    12. Memyselfandi*

      I think it is important to understand what the individual really wants is to be heard and that the source of their frustration may not be related to your service at all. I am unhappiest with customer service when they spend their time justifying their position. I am happiest when they listen and they maybe ask – what do you suggest we could do to prevent that from happening again? At which point I often recognize that there probably isn’t anything they could do…;)

    13. Old Millenial*

      I recommend you read service excellence is easy as P.I.E.

      It’s healthcare focused but the examples help you think about how routine actions can set you up for failure by shifting the patients, or customer in your case, perspective.

    14. Kotow*

      In my profession (I own a law practice), I handle a lot of divorce and custody matters, which means a combination of people who already come to you devastated and are more likely to come to you with unrealistic expectations (i.e., no, you can’t require that dad have supervised visits if you live a mile apart and there are no problems with dad’s behavior, or no, you don’t want to go to court arguing about how dad lets your child eat at McDonald’s when there are no special dietary needs). A lot of times people come in with an idea of things “should” be because they google, hear things from friends, watch too much t.v. showing highly truncated custody processes, and become extremely upset when they realize the court’s default in many cases is to view the situation in much more mutual terms than either parent thinks is fair (at least in my state, not sure about anywhere else). All this is to say, I have a lot of people who come to me with extremely unrealistic expectations and a lot of time is spent repeating the same things about how it’s unrealistic. Then, when the unrealistic request is shot down by a a judge, they get angry and leave.

      I’ve learned over the years to get a sense of who is most likely to be unrealistic and I’m extremely honest up front that I think they’re going to lose and lose badly. Most times people self-select out and go to a different attorney. I think one of the hardest things in having your own business is learning that it’s okay to turn away business if you know it’s not going to be a productive relationship. Learning to say no from the beginning has been the single most helpful thing in solving those types of issues. Also when the relationship is starting to break down: I tell clients that it’s okay to move on to someone who may be a better fit and I provide referrals. “Better fit” doesn’t necessarily mean a different result, but it may mean someone who the client can speak with more effectively.

      I do have an online presence though and I have negative reviews on there, primarily from people who came in with unrealistic expectations. I’m sure I’ve lost business over it, but in general I’m not hurting for business. I don’t know what actually brings people in; I know some clients have specifically said they like seeing a few negative reviews because it means they know the positive ones are genuine. I think in general the fear of one person ruining your reputation is greater than the reality.

      Hope some of this helps!

    15. Zapthrottle*

      I help small businesses with the marketing and strategic ops and my two top tactics are
      1- Control the narrative. Not in a negative, “No-one-can-talk-about-us” manner but work to have the TRUTH about your company dominate. If you are very, very good and have a happy circle of clients, make sure that is what is out there. Claim your social media spaces, your search engine listings, and get on the top review sites (general ones like Yelp but also industry specific ones like Dealer Rater if you are in automotive). Make sure that you have the right facts and also reviews and commentary that reflect what your business truly accomplishes 99.99% of the time. If you have anyone threaten to harm you online, you will have enough strength and depth of factual information and reviews from multiple customers to show anyone checking you out that it’s the negative review that is unlikely to be reliable.

      2- Have strong communication (see a pattern here?)…i.e. have enough material and content to explain how your business works, menu of services, and explain what customers can expect. Putting this information out there where it is easily accessible helps control lies and misleading information. I had a gym (client) stressing over a scathing review – the person said they “hounded” him to buy a month’s pass when he was only in town for 3 weeks (Christmas Holidays) and he wanted to do day passes. Well, the day passes cost $20 each and would cost him $300 while a 1 month pass was $200. Do the math there … they were saving him money. By having their full price list and a recommendation of memberships based on need (casual, elite athlete, visitor, family, single, etc), they were easily able to show their side of things and flip a negative review into an opportunity to show that they were a decent group.

    16. pony tailed wonder*

      I think for the most part, customers can see when other reviewers are being unfair. I am looking around for a place to have a brunch with friends and there are about 5 or 6 reviews on one place that all say about the same thing – a large group of a dozen people showed up at the place an hour before it closed without a reservation to hold a bridal shower. The restaurant tried to accommodate them and the shower hostess complained that they were not seated immediately, the place had run out of two or three popular items, and felt rushed when they stayed an hour after the place closed. When the shower hostess spoke to the staff to try to get a discount because of the problems, she didn’t get a discount. All of these reviews were posted the next day within minutes of each other, some from accounts that had been created that day. Bad customers give themselves away.

    17. BigRedGum*

      when i see a company respond honestly to a really bad review, i appreciate it. i like it even more when the company gently but firmly puts the bad reviewer in their place. that makes me want to use their services.

    18. i forget the name i usually use*

      You could refuse service (nicely). Like, tell them that your schedule is full, etc. It sounds like you have plenty of business without this person, and they are taking up more than their fair share of your mental energy, to the point where you think they could sink your business! Don’t deal with them then. There are definitely industries where “firing” a nightmare client is a thing!

      1. CMart*

        I was getting more excited by the minute as I continued with the analogy, haha. Maybe if the not-kitten business takes off I can start a genuine kitten tapdancing buiness on the side.

    19. OhBehave*

      There is no disclaimer that will reach these people because their kitty, kid, self is brilliant. You can bet the people they will complain to know they are a PITA.

      If they complain/review on social media, you have the opportunity to respond in public. Kindly, succinctly stating what they already know. These people threaten because they think they have all the power. Do not bow to them. Stick to reasonable concessions and move along. Often they will back down and go to the next unsuspecting business.

      Use social media if it makes sense for your company.
      Ask happy customers for reviews. Sit with them to get sound bites in order to use in marketing.

    20. Small Biz Manager*

      Most of the time you ignore them. In my head I say “Do your worst.” The reality is that THE INTERNET is a giant place and if you have a lot more good reviews than bad ones, most people will take the bad ones as the outliers they are and it really won’t hurt your business. Always be kind to their faces, apologize, maybe offer a free training session or something, but some people just aren’t going to be happy.
      You can also reply to reviews made on Google or Yelp. You may not actually be able to do anything over the platform, and you shouldn’t air the entire story of the customer being unreasonable, but you can apologize and maybe say something like “I know we discussed this in the store, but I’m so sorry you were not happy with our services. If you ever want to use that free training session we offered, please give us a call. It is noted in your file.” Then, anyone who does see the negative comment can see your response and judge for themselves if the customer was being unreasonable.
      But again, don’t lose sleep over it. Some people are just grumpy.

    21. ...*

      I’ve found that when most people hear or see those reviews they don’t take them seriously. It sometimes makes me more likely to go to that place. There are a lot of bad reviews for nail places that say things like “the disrespectful women working their had the audacity to speak in another language in front of me. They were definitely shit talking me. I will NEVER be back!”. Seeing that does not make me not want to go. One of my favorite yelp reviews for a hair salon goes on for pages about how they disrespected and “scammed” here without performing the desired service. The owner’s responded “We could not complete the service as we had to call the police because you were violently tearing down our displays.” Customer ISNT always right. There will always be bad reviews. What makes people not go there is a pattern of bad reviews all saying they had the same problem. Ask happy customers to leave reviews or offer discounts for IG follows etc.

    22. Pennalynn Lott*

      I’m late to the party. Boyfriend and I own a small, residential and storefront window cleaning company (no rappelling off buildings, just climbing up ladders). We get 1-2 customers like this every month [we service ~200 customers a month, almost exclusively high-powered people with home staff like nannies, maids, home chef, etc.]. Anyway, when someone threatens to smear us all over the internet, we say we’re sorry they were unhappy with our service, point out that we’ve already offered to come back and make right anything we did wrong, and that we take pictures of all of our jobs so we’ll be happy to match their reviews with responses of our own, demonstrating how responsive we are to our customers. [Implying that their negative reviews will actually help us.]

      Only one person has followed through and their reviews were rambling nonsense that made them look like a loon. I replied personally to every single review — with before and after pictures of the job we did — and I have actually had new customers tell me that our company’s professional, considerate, kind, and thorough response was one of the reasons they hired us.

      To get the internet filled with positive reviews, we have our scheduler call every single customer a day or two after we’ve done their house and ask if they were satisfied with the work (to flag any problems that need fixing) and if the answer is Yes, she asks them to leave a review on the platform of their choice: Google, Yelp, Nextdoor, Angie’s List, our FB page, our web site, whatever is easiest for them because “it would really help us out.” If we can’t get them on the phone, the scheduler sends an email saying the same thing and asking for a positive review. 80% of people do.

  7. Millennial Lizard Person*

    Y’all, I have a doozy for you. On the bulletin board in our break room, someone put up a flyer about a Placenta Encapsulation Class. Taught by a coworker’s wife. I just. have so many questions. Did they get permission to post this? Am I right that this is wildly inappropriate, or is that my knee-jerk reaction to a practice I’m baffled by?

    1. [insert witty username here]*

      As long as it’s just a flyer – put up ONCE – without pressuring folks or proselytizing about their beliefs about it, then I think it’s OK.

      Bizarre. But OK. *shrugs*

      1. Millennial Lizard Person*

        Co-worker has never mentioned this in person, so there’s been no proselytizing. I don’t know if you have to go through the office admin to get things posted.

        1. Fibchopkin*

          Same. Not to shame proponents of this practice, but it actually gave me a visceral reaction. TIL how to make myself vomit while sitting at my desk: just think the words “placenta encapsulation”

      1. ZSD*

        I just learned about this recently from a pregnant friend. It’s trendy but controversial, basically.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Yep, animals consume it to hide evidence from predators. People do not need to do this.

          2. JustaTech*

            At least one baby was repeatedly hospitalized from an infection he got from his mother who got it from the placenta pills.

    2. CMart*

      Uhhhhh do you work at a midwifery?

      Otherwise I think it’s wildly out of place. It has nothing to do with general workplace health and safety. It’s woo garbage. It’s probably soliciting?

      I’d feel the same way even if it wasn’t woo garbage (like idk, treating bunions), but it being placenta encapsulation especially makes it super WTF.

      (idk if it needs to be said, but I have two kids and did cord blood banking with them and read a lot of stuff about the “benefits” [aka: the total lack of evidence thereof] about placenta-things and seeing this flyer would have me shooting my eyebrows to the moon)

      1. Alice*

        If there’s a bulletin board where people post flyers about their, I don’t know, quilting lessons and their dogsitters and their cars they are selling, I think this should be able to go their. Hey, not my thing, but it’s not actually hurting anyone to see that this service exists.
        I’d hesitate to post something “woo” at work myself but I don’t think it needs to be taken down by the management.

    3. Not a Real Giraffe*

      This reminds me of a time when I worked at a school career center and someone on staff (not a career counselor!) decide to start printing up and posting flyers around the center with career tips. These tips were BAD. Horribly outdated. But semi-branded so it looked like the center itself was just… posting these terrible career tips. We’d take them down and then two weeks later, a new one would appear. I never understood why this person thought this was a good or helpful idea.

      1. Millennial Lizard Person*

        No, it’s a tech company! There’s very few women at all! And how many men would notice the flyer and mention to their pregnant wife “Hey, honey, you should try this!”?

    4. Psyche*

      Is there a policy about flyers at your company? Have other people put up flyers about their spouses business/their side businesses? If it isn’t common to post non-work related things and this makes you uncomfortable, I think you can talk to your boss or HR about it. If it is pretty unregulated I would just try to ignore it.

      1. i forget the name i usually use*

        Yeah, it seems like “it’s weird and has to do with birth!” isn’t a great reason to not want a flyer up, unless there are specific guidelines about what can and can’t go up.

    5. I'm that person*

      I had to google it to see what it was:
      “Placental encapsulation is the practice of ingesting the placenta after it has been steamed, dehydrated, ground, and placed into pills. Traditionally, this is taken by the mother and is believed to impart numerous health benefits.”

      I prefer placenta stir-fry myself.

          1. Quill*

            Probably due to the fact that humans and raw meat aren’t always good friends, and the pill because it legitimizes the woo-ness as “nope, totally medicine!”

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        A class? Like, learning how to … create the pills? or how to take them? Would a medical facility even let you take your own? I don’t even know, I’d have assumed it qualified as biohazardous medical waste when all was said and done, and that they had approved disposal methods?

        1. Constance Lloyd*

          Never been pregnant, but from conversations with friends and acquaintances many hospitals do ask if you would like to keep your placenta post-delivery.

          1. ampersand*

            My doctor asked if I wanted to *see* my placenta when my kid was born and my answer was no. Good without that, thanks! Can’t unsee it! Encapsulation? A thousand times no.

            1. Lilysparrow*

              It doesn’t look like anything but a blob, really. Not particularly interesting either way.

            2. XYZ*

              In nursing school, my group got to handle a placenta. Very lumpy.

              It was one of those things where, as you’re eagerly and willingly standing in a line waiting to touch someone else’s placenta, you wonder how you got to that exact point in your life. Like, when did I become *eager* to do this?

        2. Quill*

          I couldn’t keep my wisdom teeth due to it being a medical waste biohazard…. and those were technically not tissue!

          1. Triumphant Fox*

            So true. Or an expensive process.

            But there are also DIY methods. You basically just dehydrate it and then grind it to a powder (unless you have to do something before dehydrating it for safety reasons). I’m not sure what the “process” is beyond that – probably when to take it and why.

        3. HBJ*

          I immediately assumed it was a class about placenta encapsulation. Like, here’s the benefits and why you should consider it, and here’s how you go about having it done.

          Encapsulation is not easy. The placenta is sterilized (perhaps not the right word) via steam and then pulverized and put into capsules. The birth center where I had my children offered the service for their clients (although I didn’t take them up on it) and also did it for clients of other birth centers that didn’t offer it.

        4. Tongue Cluckin' Grammarian*

          I think the classification depends on your area (and if the medical facilities pay attention…).
          Where my lab is, Admin Title Code 25 general prohibits allowing patients to have their tissue or whatever if it isn’t autoclavable and the medical facility has to be willing to hold legal liability if something goes wrong. Some surgery centers/hospitals don’t pay attention to this.

          I’ve gotten one call asking about the placenta pill thing, but if your tissue goes to pathology, that usually means something is wrong (or suspected wrong) with it. Definitely don’t wanna consume that.
          However, we can legally release tissue to a funeral home, who is then responsible for whatever happens to it next, so…

      2. London Calling*

        I had a nasty feeling it would involve something of the sort. Thanks for doing that so I didn’t have to.

    6. Cambridge Comma*

      I wouldn’t do it with mine but I don’t think it’s wildly inappropriate. It seems to be mainstreamish to consider it where I am. And there’s nothing inherently icky about people who aren’t you eating placentas, is there?

    7. Mbarr*

      As others have said, it’s not inappropriate.

      To me, it’s no different than if someone posted an ad for Reiki massage services. I don’t believe in Reiki, but it doesn’t harm anyone else, so I don’t care.

      The only time I was upset by an ad on a work bulletin board and took action was when I saw one for gay conversion services (as in trying to convince someone who’s gay to not be gay anymore. This was back in 2003.)

    8. Anonymousaurus Rex*

      Maybe this is the California hippie in me but I wouldn’t bat an eye at this. I would maybe wonder why there was a class to learn to do it yourself when it seems like the kind of thing you wouldn’t need to do very often and I’d certainly prefer to outsource that kind of thing, but it wouldn’t phase me to see it on a bulletin board. (I’m assuming this is the type of bulletin board where people post non-work things like the girlscout cookie order list or dog-walking services, etc.)

    9. Taura*

      It probably depends on the rules your place has, like everyone else says. At my workplace, you have to ask to get stuff put up on the board (it has a cover, so you need to unlock it) but you can just toss some flyers on the table in the break room whenever you want. I personally put a couple up on my cubicle wall, just because people generally have questions and it’s easier to answer if they’re at my cubicle anyway instead of hunting me down.

      Oh, but I just thought – these aren’t graphic are they? Like they don’t have placenta photos or anything? I can’t imagine why someone would think that’s okay to bring but you never know.

    10. BigRedGum*

      Ha! That’s pretty wild. And dangerous, but that’s a whole different story. I suppose that management will see it eventually and either take it down, or do nothing. Then you’ll know how your work feels about it. I don’t think it’s wildly inappropriate, but it’s definitely wild!

    11. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I agree that it depends on the nature of the bulletin board. If this is where you’d usually post about a “free couch” or “anyone want to buy my old dining room table and chairs?” along with looking for dog-sitting services or to post that your kid is available for babysitting, etc. Then meh, it’s “out there” and I did a double take because I’ve never been pregnant but I’m well aware of this practice for random reasons, so no googling required.

      If they were passing them out or putting them in personal in-boxes or sending out emails to the entire department/company, then heck no. But it’s presumably a break room bulletin board that you either glance at or you don’t.

      Also are there any graphics?! Because that would be over the top! But just writing and a “call or email if interested!” meh, really low stakes level of inappropriate-ish.

      You mention it’s someone’s wife’s gig and that it’s mostly male so “why?” but honestly a lot of men I know would know if this was something their wife was interested in. Its a couple’s thing not just a weird off thing that men are hands off of in most cases! So yeah, if the couple are the kind to eat the placenta, that dude already knows and probably would go “OMG pills, that sounds better than stew!!!!!!!, Honey how about this option…” =X

  8. Bopeep*

    I’ve recently re-evaluated my position on the ethics of “accept position from company A, then renege and accept position from company B.” I used to think, apart from just the potential for burning bridges, that it was highly unethical.

    Recently, I had an experience (without going into too many details), in which I had to leave a job very shortly after starting it. I thought that it’s super inconvenient and awkward to accept an offer and then say “Oops—just kidding” a few days later, but it’s even worse if you fill out all the paperwork, get trained, and then quit. Maybe more “ethical” if done in good faith, but in the end it’s still worse off for both the company and you. At least if you renege after a few days, they may still be able to go back to their finalist candidate pool to make an offer to someone else.

    Can anyone relate?

    1. [A Cool Name Here]*

      I can. I stayed at a job for six months when I should have walked within two weeks. I just thought it’d get better until I finally realized, it was never going to change.

    2. CAA*

      I’ve been on the employer side of this a couple of times. I’m not sure it’s unethical, but yes, it’s massively inconvenient and it wastes a lot of people’s time and it burns bridges. If you have to renege after accepting an offer, it’s much better to do it before starting the job. I’ve had an HR recruiter tell me that candidate X, for whom I’d just asked her to schedule an interview, was someone who quit because he got a better offer a week after starting a job at her previous employer. X didn’t get an interview and we hired someone else, so something he did several years ago is hurting him in ways he doesn’t even know.

      1. Bopeep*

        If you have to renege after accepting an offer, it’s much better to do it before starting the job.

        Yeah, I think this is my new realization. Yes, still super awkward and inconvenient to renege sooner, but far less inconvenient than having me start, and then quit later.

      2. Happy Lurker*

        I too have been on the employer side, but had to let people go after a couple days. It stinks, but sometimes that’s the way it is.

    3. Vistaloopy*

      It’s not something you should do on a whim, but sometimes there are legitimate reasons to back out. My husband went through this. He’s a doctor and had to give something like 6 months notice at his (then) current job. He accepted another job, gave his notice, and as he worked through his notice period, new job started getting all shady — telling him he would have to work a lot of nights when that was not the original agreement, refusing to credential him for procedures he’d been doing for years (which would have affected his income), etc. Eventually, he made the tough decision to back out. He clearly made the right choice, as new job went all nuts on him – tried to jeopardize his position at his current job (which was happy to have him stay on) and he clearly dodged a bullet. He felt awful about reneging, but I reminded him that the new job essentially broke the agreement by changing the terms on him.

      1. only acting normal*

        I wouldn’t feel bad about reneging on somewhere both shady *and* that incompetent. I mean, if you’re going to bait and switch at least wait until the mark is through the door. That’s just basics.

    4. Hey-eh*

      I was unemployed and took what I thought was my dream job – amazing pay, amazing vacation, exactly what I wanted to do and I couldn’t believe my luck! I turned down two other jobs to take it. When I arrived on my first day there were so many things Not Right about the company’s culture and I ended up quitting after one day. The only thing I feel guilty about is my own judgement.

      1. Creed Bratton*

        We’ve had 4 (four) people quit within their first week in the past quarter. Might be related to the horribly toxic and dysfunctional workplace that the-powers-that-be have created. Or that they “just weren’t dedicated enough to the mission.” SIGH

    5. MissDisplaced*

      I did this one time. I was there about a month and left for another job that was almost double the salary.
      But it wasn’t just salary. Once I was hired, I found I did not mesh well with the director, and I also found out he didn’t want to hire me and the rest of the team did. I felt bad, and at the time I really wanted to work in that industry, but I knew it would never work.

    6. Hiring Mgr*

      I don’t think it’s a question of ethics. It’s your life, you’ve got to do what you think is best for you, your career, happiness, family, mental health etc.. I did this exact same thing about 10 yrs ago (accepted an offer for A, then reneged befre the start date). I felt terrible about it, and clearly burned a bridge at company A, but in the end I made the right decision and no regrets.

      1. Bopeep*

        I half-disagree. It is about ethics, but I just believe now it’s more ethical to renege before the start date than to leave early once you’ve started working there. Yes, of course, you have to prioritize what’s right for you, but there is still doing right by others, and that’s important.

        1. sacados*

          Yeah the ethics comes into play when it regards your intentions.
          The situation you’re talking about in the original comment would be if you accepted a job with Company A, fully INTENDING to back out if you got an offer from Company B.
          That’s highly unethical. But not the same thing as starting a job and then soon after realizing that for whatever various reasons you need to leave. That can be awkward, and potentially cause problems for the company, but it’s not a question of ethics.

          And yeah, in a vacuum, if there’s a situation where you are going to have to suddenly back out of a new job, then it is usually less problematic for the new job if you do so before you start rather than a few days or weeks after. But when it’s a matter of an unforeseen Situation getting in the way, then there’s not anything inherently unethical about either one.

          1. Bopeep*

            I guess I’m still figuring out the difference between intent and impact here. I took the job in good faith, so all the intentions were ethical. But if I’d have backed out to get company B right at the offer stage, the intentions would have been shady, but the impact would have been far less damaging for company A.

        2. Just Another Manic Millie*

          “I just believe now it’s more ethical to renege before the start date than to leave early once you’ve started working there.”

          I couldn’t renege on my very first job before the start date, because it wasn’t until I started that I learned that TPTB had lied to me about the hours. They expected me to work more than twice as many hours as what I had been told. I had been told that my hours would be Monday through Friday, 9:00 AM to 5:30 PM. On my first day, I was told that my hours would be Monday through Friday, 9:00 AM to midnight, Saturday 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, and Sunday 9:00 AM to noon. I managed to leave at 9:00 PM, and I told them on my second day that I was quitting. I offered to stay and work 9:00 AM to 5:30 PM Monday to Friday until they hired my replacement. Two days later, I was told not to come back.

          So I didn’t “do right by others.” Well, they didn’t do right by me. I suppose that I burned bridges there, but it didn’t matter to me, because I never put that company on my resume (which meant that I had to find a second “first” job), and all of my future jobs were in a different state than this very first job, so no one who was ever in a position to hire me knew anyone from my very first job. And I never worked in that industry again.

          1. BeachMum*

            I had a similar experience. I took a job where they implied that I’d be working four 10-hour days each week, but would start Monday – Friday, 9 -5 until I was trained. I was taught how to do coding for custom surveys. It was fun and I enjoy coding. The money wasn’t great, but the job was enjoyable and I was learning a lot.

            However, once I was trained in coding, I was moved into standardized surveys (so I was merely changing the text rather than coding from scratch) for a crazy industry, and my new hours were four days, including Sunday, starting at 6 a.m. It was boring as all get out, I wasn’t allowed to speak with the client, and everyone was stressed all of the time because it was a crazy industry.

            I kept looking for a job, and quit three days shy of three months there. I moved to a normal business that kept its promises. I never put the first job on my resume, but did feel a bit guilty for the people in my department who had to cover for me.

    7. Catherine de Medici*

      I did something similar this week. I had received a job offer for another office in my agency and turned it down. My boss’s boss asked me if I was leaving, since she had gotten a lot of reference calls for me (totally normal, I had said they could talk to my current manager, I’m a fed and my boss knew I was looking for a GS-13 generally). I told her about turning down the offer and that I was here to stay. The very next day, they came back with another offer, basically saying they would give me whatever I wanted to take the job. I decided that even if the job wasn’t just right, I could live with it for a few years to become a 13, so I said yes. My boss was a little shocked but understanding since he had just heard that I was going to turn it down. There’s no potential for promotion in my current office and I’m not going to wait around forever, no matter how much I might like my coworkers and job.

    8. Tom & Johnny*

      A close friend started a new job a couple of years ago, and within a week she was calling me on the phone, crying and sometimes whispering.

      In brief, the person training her was teaching her all the workarounds she was going to need to use in order to – more or less – lie to their boss and their grandboss and the executive director, because that was in fact necessary to get anything done. The policies were arcane, byzantine, and contradictory in such a crazy-making way that it was literally impossible to follow them. Not to mention personalities blowing up so that people walked on eggshells. Ergo workarounds for the workarounds. All of which were bizarre but some of which presented ethics violations in our profession. “Dysfunctional” doesn’t begin to describe this place.

      She had to quit. She had no choice. She was crying, upset, absolutely horrified, and she was unemployed before she started this job. She was returning to the status of being unemployed.

      I 1000% supported her in quitting as soon as humanly possible. So that the job would simply never have existed. She did leave that Friday. Not even a blip on her resume – it just never was.

      While yes in general you should not accept a job and then leave within days or weeks, there are extenuating circumstances that leave you little to no choice sometimes.

      1. Bopeep*

        I hear you. Yeah, in this case, the job was definitely nothing like I expected. Not nearly as toxic as that, but sometimes you just know you need to leave, and it was not what you signed up for (and is unlikely to change for the better any time soon or ever).

    9. Psyche*

      I think there is a difference between taking the job with the intention of quitting if company B makes an offer and taking the job in good faith, stuff happens and you end up backing out because of unforeseen circumstances.

    10. Overeducated*

      I think it’s best to be avoided but there are situations where it is the best choice. Just not something you should do on a lark, more of an extenuating circumstances kind of thing.

    11. Mellow*

      Sometimes it makes sense to renege.

      A few years ago, I’d been unemployed for nearly a year, then secured a 6-month temporary position that may or may not have turned full time; they wouldn’t have known until the end of the 6 months. The day I completed the hiring paperwork (but before I actually showed up for my first day of work), I got a verbal offer for permanent, full-time position elsewhere for which I’d interviewed around the same time I’d interviewed for the temp. position.

      It took about two weeks for my contract to arrive in the mail, but, once I’d signed it and received word HR had received it, I went to the temp. position boss and said, “Sorry, but I got a permanent offer and I am taking it, but than you so much for giving me this opportunity, etc.”

      She seemed disappointed, but certainly she understood my situation. I didn’t ask, but I know did what nearly anyone else would have done.

    12. OhBehave*

      Employer end of things here too.

      Accepting an offer and renigging before you start is inconvenient to the new employer but certainly ok to do as long as you don’t have a habit of doing this.

      Accepting, starting and quitting because a. nothing is as was explained. b. people are BSC and you need to leave. c. you just don’t mesh with the boss, company culture. I believe these are all good reasons to leave. Do it as soon as you realize it’s not a fit.

      Accepting, starting/training and quitting for no reason other than you got a better offer is not cool. If you did that out of desperation (if I don’t say yes, nothing else will come through). Disingenuous at best.

  9. CatCat*

    How common are schedules in the US where you do NOT get 2 days in a row off for your regular full-time schedule?

    My spouse’s employer is changing schedules and this will mean he will never (unless there’s a holiday) get two days in a row off. I think this is nuts!! (Yes, he’s looking for a new job). I just wondered how common this is for a regular schedule (as opposed to seasonal or event-related schedules where this may occur).

    1. Elemeno P.*

      This is pretty common in hospitality/service industries, but I imagine less so in most others.

      1. MatKnifeNinja*

        Working at my hospital, the only way I had two days off in a row, was to burn up some PTO.

        My friend works as a mechanic. His work place is open 6 days a week. He almost never gets Saturday and Sunday off.

        1. Person from the Resume*

          My friend who was a nurse at two entirely different hospitals generally worked 4 12 hour shifts followed by 3 days off.

    2. Goldfinch*

      In my observation, this is common in what I would call “professional CS work” meaning jobs that require both significant schooling and dealing with the public. So: chefs, pharmacists, phone IT support, etc.

    3. BlueWolf*

      Yes, very common in food service, hospitality, retail or any other public-facing business that operates 7 days a week.

      1. CatCat*

        Interesting! It is a public-facing business that is moving to operate 7 days per week (and this coincides with when the schedule change starts).

        I could not do this on the regular. (And he recognizes that neither can he.)

        1. Laura H.*

          Is it possible that he could be unavailable one day in the normal work week? Both positively and negatively, it would lock him into a day off. It doesn’t solve the problem of no two days off in a row but it would give a dedicated day off to tend to appointments and such- which does come in handy.

            1. WellRed*

              There should be no reason the company can’t still give people two days off in a row. I would die on that hill.

        2. BlueWolf*

          Since there’s no law saying the employer can’t do it, they are certainly within their right to do so. However, as you’ve said, your spouse is looking for a new job, so I imagine they will soon learn that it doesn’t make business sense since employees will leave. At the very least they should stagger schedules so that everyone gets two days off in a row even if it doesn’t coincide with the traditional weekend.

        3. Lily Rowan*

          Yeah, I was really sad for the guy in Best Buy recently who mentioned that his days off were Monday and Wednesday. I guess it could be worse — he could have an erratic schedule, and for all I know he is in school on those days so it is perfect for him — but not having two days off in a row ever would be hard, I think.

    4. Muriel Heslop*

      In retail, restaurants and country club work, I very seldom had two consecutive days off and I never expected it.

      1. Jex*

        Right. And in retail in particular, the shifts often aren’t even at least the same from one week to the next.

    5. Sharkie*

      It is very common in the medical field depending on why type of medical. My Partner works at a 7 day a week clinic and he usually gets a weekend day off and one weekday off but never back to back. It’s nice because he can handle the vet appointments, cable man stuff, other house things so I don’t have to take time off to but it makes planning trips away a nightmare

    6. That Would be a Good Band Name*

      Extremely common in retail and call centers in my experience. My mom worked as a nurse’s aid for several years and it seems like her days off were frequently split as well, but where she worked was frequently understaffed so she also got called in to work on her day’s off more often than not. Also bank branches that worked on Saturdays, only that was worse because you only worked 1/2 of Saturday so you could really only take off 1/2 of another day to still get in all 40 hours.

    7. Ranon*

      It’s happened to my sister in healthcare- but generally management tries to make it not happen because it is horrendous for turnover. They’ve been understaffed and switched to 12 hour shifts so they could make staffing work in a way that gives people consecutive days off, with a reasonable percentage of those days on weekends, and it definitely made a difference in morale.

    8. Andream*

      Like others have said this is really common, especially for places that are open 7 days a week. At my first job out of college I worked at a call center and new hires were mandated that we work at least 1weekend day. Somehow I had Sundays and Wednesdays off. I think a lot of places like restaurants, hotel staff, nursing home staff, etc have this as well.

      1. Clisby*

        I don’t know in general, but I worked for 7 days/week newspapers for about 11 years, and it wasn’t common there. It was very common not to have Saturday/Sunday off, or to get just one of the weekend days off, but we always had 2 days in a row. (For example, I worked a schedule for awhile where I got Thursdays and Fridays off. I’ve had Sundays and Mondays off. Or Mondays and Tuesdays.)

    9. Combinatorialist*

      When I worked retail, I worked Wednesday — Sunday, 2 pm to 10 pm. Which was a fairly miserable schedule for my 17 year old self, but I did get two days off in a row.

    10. LCL*

      The industry I work in is considered a critical industry, and we have some 24/7 groups. And we are highly unionized. We don’t, and won’t, have a split days off schedule, the employees hate it. But once you start diving into analyzing schedules, you will find there isn’t an easy way to schedule 24/7 coverage with 8 hour shifts and 2 consecutive days off in a row, and have even workweeks, without paying someone overtime. The ways around this involve scheduling employees for more or less than 40 hours per week, and paying the overtime as legally mandated.

      TLDR:my 24/7 shiftwork group wouldn’t tolerate this, we decided to work 12s and we are union so were able to negotiate some things with respect to our schedule. The negotiation took more than 12 months…

    11. Seven If You Count Bad John*

      Not uncommon in call centers or other service industries where weekend coverage is needed.

    12. Allypopx*

      I’m currently at my first job in a decade that has traditional weekends. I kind of miss my split schedule tbh. So much easier to run errands during the work week.

      1. Hallowflame*

        That’s the ONE thing I miss about working retail. Doing any type of shopping is so much less stressful at 2pm on a Wednesday than at 5pm on my way home from work, or any time on a weekend!

    13. Banananacrackers*

      My ex husband is a lettings agent and he has a Sunday and a day off in the week, as do all his colleagues. None of them get Monday, nor (I believe) Friday.

      As we share custody of the kids, it’s just as inconvenient now we’re no longer together. They are also very reluctant to give Saturdays as leave.

      Drives me batty. Why yes it’s a small family run company, how did you know?!

    14. Overeducated*

      It’s very common in certain public facing jobs in my organization to not have a weekend day off ever, but they make an effort to give people two days off in a row, it’s just pretty common for them to be Tuesday and Wednesday. Getting one weekend day comes with seniority. I’m not sure why you couldn’t ensure two days in a row unless you were making an effort to give everyone one weekend day – two separated weekdays is just the worst.

    15. BigRedGum*

      I think that if you work at a business that’s open more than 5 days a week, it’s pretty common here. Lame and terrible for work/life balance, but common.

    16. Split is Normal*

      Depends on the industry. If it is a job where the office is open at least 1 weekend day, then it’s a lot more common. This is typically the case with customer facing jobs, but not always. My first “big girl job” I had split days off and so did everyone who worked there until you either reached a certain level (which was above a team manager) or you had been in the job for about a decade.

    17. BikeLover*

      My husband is a mail carrier for the us postal service and he rarely gets two days off in a row. Maybe every two months it will rotate out that way.

  10. Sydney Ellen Wade*

    I applied for my dream job on Tuesday. Any advice on dealing with nerves while waiting to hear back?

    1. Celeste*

      I recommend a frothy mix of interview planning and distraction. Figure out what you would wear, and enjoy some end of summer pleasures. Research them to make sure you have the latest info, and do some kind of self care like a pedicure. Review what you might like to make known about yourself, and watch a little Netflix. Don’t stay in either camp too long, and let us know what happens next! Also watch out for DuPont Circle.

      1. Zombie Unicorn*

        What does watch out for Dupont Circle mean, if someone wouldn’t mind explaining? Thanks!

        1. Sydney Ellen Wade*

          It’s a reference to my username from the movie The American President and made me smile. :)

    2. merp*

      There is an excellent column called Tough Love by Blair Braverman (on Outside magazine’s website) that just dealt with career advice. It focuses on if you get rejected, which I am not saying you will be! But I love the way she focuses on just staying so busy you have no time to worry about that thing you applied to ten things ago.

        1. merp*

          (seriously, her twitter is so good! I watched the Iditarod results obsessively for the first time ever, it was fascinating.

    3. irene adler*

      The above are all good ideas.
      Let me suggest: Physical exercise. Hard physical exercise sessions. But don’t overdo! Plan two or three over the next week. Get’s the nerves to calm down and reduces the anxiety level.

      Get out and enjoy a long outdoors hike.
      Play an afternoon of tennis with friends. Or golf, swim or even a game of baseball. Surf.
      Fly a kite.
      A good gardening session.
      But please, given it is summer, be mindful of the heat and take proper precautions.

    4. President Porpoise*

      Forget about the job and move on. If you hear back, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. if you don’t, you’ll have wasted a lot of time and emotional effort on thinking about it.

    5. T. Boone Pickens*

      Assume the job doesn’t exist because well…frankly it doesn’t. You haven’t been called for an interview yet, picture it as belly button lint or something.

    6. Blarg*

      This is probably not the healthiest advice, but I start sour-graping things like this. If I get super excited about an opportunity, I start thinking of all the downsides after I apply. If they call, those tend to magically go out the window (or are actually relevant), but if I don’t get the job, I already have a list of all the reasons I didn’t want it.

      – work site/commute (ugh, I’d have to transfer trains)
      – mission statement/values (really, you’re going to save the whole world with your widget? Really??)
      – anything bad in the media ever (that’s a curious choice of words in response to negative news coverage)
      – role specific (I mean the company is saving the world with the widget, but my role would be so far removed from that)

      Best wishes for the right fit — no matter which one it turns out to be

      1. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

        hello fellow pessimist!

        You’re right, it’s not the healthiest, although I’ve tried justifying it as “as long as I look at the negatives, I can only be pleasantly surprised”. I also go into extreme planning mode (what will I do if I a) don’t hear back or b) hear back and it’s a rejection)

        Possibly slightly healthier might be to not think about it at all until you hear back. Unless it’s a surprise phone interview, the next contact from the company should give you enough time to ramp up your thinking about the job again.

        1. Blarg*

          Ha that’s basically the way I explain my life outlook: I don’t like to be disappointed. I prefer to be pleasantly surprised.

    7. theletter*

      are there industry papers or interesting books that might shed light on the work or the company? You could start a research process that would make you stand out in an interview.

    8. Boop Beep*

      There’s really no such thing as a dream job. You can’t truly tell what the job will be like until you’re in it.

    9. WalkedInMyShoes*

      Like Everyone recommended on the site, keep applying and send a follow-up thank you note via email. Then, go onto the next one. This site has helped me out tremendously. Remember, the value you bring to a company and if they don’t call or email you, they are not a fit. Move on to the next one. The next bus will come and it will be a better ride.

  11. Should I stay or should I go?*

    I can’t seem to decide between staying at my (awesome) job, or taking a new one (that sought me out, I wasn’t job hunting). If I stay, how do I know if I’m staying because I’ve really got that good of a thing, or if I’m just comfortable and afraid of change/being lonely (I’m a transplant, my coworkers are most of my in-person social interaction outside my home)? I also haven’t even hit the two year mark at my first job out of school, which makes me nervous.

    I spent many years in school to get an advanced degree in a specialized field (teapot spout design), and was hired to design the spout for a high-profile teapot design project for a big company. It worked and the company loves us (and I get plenty of credit for my role in it). But now that the design is done, there’s very little spout design work to do and it’s unclear if or when we’ll be assigned another similar project. There’s still plenty of work for me to do, but it’s more generic teapot design. Our team is incredibly high-functioning (especially for my field!) and is a joy to work with. The job itself is cushy: I enjoy going to work, no-stress, 40 hrs/wk, lots of PTO, time for self-development, and my team actually enjoys working with each other.

    New job is with a smaller company that makes custom teapots on request, and needs someone to lead/implement the spout design projects. As best as I can tell, new job would be: medium-to-low stress, same hours/PTO, good team (but unlikely as good or mature a dynamic as what I have). I’d have to double my commute (from an awesome 12-15 minutes to 25-30, for context I hate driving and loathe traffic), and the salary bump is nice but I’m lucky enough to be able to pick the job where I’d be happiest.

    I’ve done pro/con lists, but how do I balance interesting work with other quality of life perks? How can I tell the difference between comfortable complacency and being wary of leaving a truly great situation? Does being there <2 years make a difference? Anyone have any advice?

    1. Nott the Brave*

      You say you’ve done a pro/con list – have you put growth on that list? Will your current position allow you to grow your skills in a way that you’ll find satisfying?

      1. Should I stay or should I go?*

        Good question. My current company is really big on growth, so in a general professional sense I can still learn a ton. They’d probably be open to me using a few hours per week on side projects to keep my skills current and keep me from losing my mind if I don’t get to do any real work on it for a while.

      1. Just stoppin' by to chat*

        I agree with GG. It sounds like the only reason to take the new job is because they recruited you. But it’s okay not to take every opportunity.

        1. Should I stay or should I go?*

          Thanks! The voice in my head worries I’ll stagnate if I don’t take every opportunity to do more in my specialty, but I haven’t even been out of school 3 years yet. And I could get bored at my job, but I’m not yet.

          1. pcake*

            I’d definitely stay with the current job.

            You have a reliable job, lots of perks, room for growth – which, if you have room for growth, why should you get bored? Newer job is a startup. Whether they stay in business at all or how they do is all uncharted territory. How they treat people? Also uncharted. Doubling your commute sounds sucky, too.

            And you say your current team is “incredibly high-functioning”. Perhaps you should spend a few hours reading here on AskAManager to see how many crappy jobs there are, and some start out promising and then get worse.

      1. Overeducated*

        I agree – if you’ve made a pro/con list and the choice is not obvious, this is probably a “no wrong decision” situation where it’s safe to follow your gut. Sitting with one choice or the other helps figure out what your gut says.

    2. UKCoffeeLover*

      Definitely stay! Don’t change something if it ain’t broken. You have plenty of time to move on and up.

    3. Quinalla*

      It’s your call of course, but I agree, this sounds like a “stay” to me. I have a longer commute now and it is a BIG quality of life issue. If I didn’t love the new job with better pay, benefits and HUGE growth potential, I would have regretted the move for the commute alone. Staying somewhere too long is something to consider (I did it, looking back I don’t know that I would change it because of personal things I had going on, but I was at that job for 13 years and probably should have left after 5ish), but 2 years isn’t too long unless you don’t like the place and clearly you are not bored or sick of it, especially since there is growth potential!

      One thing I do when pro/con lists aren’t working is to think about what will I regret more? I’ll also do a “What is the worst that could happen if I do X? Y? What would I do if those things happened?” sometimes that list is more useful to me too.

    4. sacados*

      One side note is that IF you do decide to leave, the “less than two years at my first job” really won’t be an issue. I doubt anyone would ever give it a second thought, but if you did get asked about it all you have to say is something like “Yes I loved First Job and intended to stay longer, but then Second Job came along with an offer that was just too good to pass up.” The fact that you were sought out and not the other way around is important here.
      So that part at least really shouldn’t be a big deal.

      And if you do decide to stay at your current job, I would make a point of keeping in touch with the other company — tell them you’ve decided it’s not the right time to move on now, but you are really interested in their company and would love to keep in touch/ reach out if and when you do decide you’re ready for something new. No guarantees, but if they like your work this much then it’s definitely worth doing!

    5. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      In answer to your question about checking if you’re being complacent versus leaving a good situation: Imagine your entire company just went under, but you have enough saved so you’re good financially for the next 12-24 months.

      How devastated are you to lose the work and community?

      Now imagine it’s 12 months later, your company pulls a miraculous revival and you have two offers in front of you: One for CurrentJob (that died and came back) and one for this NewJob. Which one would you choose and why?

    6. Midwest writer*

      I faced a similar situation last fall (differences included some hints of corporate-level changes at my job that had me concerned about the loss of flexibility and remote-work options) when another company approached me. I took the job and a significant salary bump (but some lesser benefits) and went from no commute to a 30-minute drive. While I’m overall very happy doing what I do at the new job, and while I’ve continued to hear reports of deteriorating conditions at my last job, I still sometimes doubt my decision. It’s done, I can’t go back and change it. Hindsight being 20/20, in your position, I’d stick around a little longer. If you’re good enough to get recruited now, you’ll be a good candidate when you’re really ready to move on.

    7. Fibchopkin*

      Adding my voice to the chorus of “stay!” votes. You like your current job and it’s perks, have upward mobility, an amazing team of coworkers/direct reports, a record of success, a GREAT commute, and only 2 years in. Don’t trade in what you already like for something that is less stable, more uncertain (enjoyment/fulfillment- wise), a worse commute, and in a place where you’d have start new with PRO/Vacation accrual, 401k match, etc. for a bit of extra money that you don’t really need or even seem to want too badly. It would be one thing if you were dissatisfied in your current job or needed a better paying option, but this just sounds like some mild career FOMO. If it was me, I hope someone would tell me this: Recognize this opportunity for what it is: a flattering chance to do something you’d be good at but that doesn’t really fit your life right now, then let it go.

      1. whatthemell?*

        Just wanted to say the same – it’s easy to feel the grass may be greener in other pastures BUT you shouldn’t feel pressure to always be on the lookout for something better if you’re really happy where you are. It sounds like you have a great situation where you are – take it from someone who once left a job for what I thought was an incredible opportunity and ended up in misery and regret: appreciate what you have! It sounds wonderful.

    8. kittymommy*

      A little late to the question but I personally would stay. Both jobs sound great but the only real concern with the current job seems to be fear of stagnation, though it sounds like that might be more of an imaginary concern rather than one that you are actually in. If the current company is truly as pro-growth as you believe then they will work/help you work to combat it. Sometimes I think there is some weird push nowadays for people to always think that one has to move on from a current situation in order to stay relevant or on the top of their game and that’s not always the case. This sounds like a great company and a situation that is ideal.

      Good luck!!

  12. MOAS*

    I just gotta laugh at this.

    My department managers and I had a meeting yesterday with my boss and the director. Boss stepped out, and director says “So ladies, how are you doing? You all…..” she trails off

    Before I had a chance to say anything, the other manager jumps in and says “TIRED!”

    Director: “haha yes, I just didn’t want to say that.”

    I’m just laughing about it, b/c…

    I WASNT TIRED! lol. I actually had on make up (I normally do makeup) and had done my hair that morning.


    1. Isildur's Bane*

      I’m not seeing the connection? I’m wearing a full face of makeup right now and I’m definitely tired.

      1. MOAS*

        Hah, yes, you’re right, it’s a weird post and I can see why people are confused. Just one of those things that was said and done, and swirling around in my head.

        To me, “you look tired” is code for “you look like shit.” Nobody likes being told they look like shit esp when they’ve actually put in effort in their appearance. my director has a tendency to make sly comments that make you go “HUH? Was that an insult or compliment?”

        1. fhqwhgads*

          I figured that’s what you meant but it sort of reads like the person who made the comment wasn’t commenting on appearance so much as maybe whatever it was y’all are working on has been busy/rough/exhausting?

  13. Help me- Adulting*

    Longtime reader first time poster. I graduated I May and I start my first full time job out of college on Monday, and could use any advice. What do you wish someone had told you before you started working full time. Advice for a first office job, really any wisdom you would like to impart would be welcome. For reference the job is in San Francisco at a regional accounting firm (not big 4).

    1. Nott the Brave*

      Bring your lunch, but join other people for lunch about 1/week. It can be easy to be tempted into spending a decent amount per week on lunch, but you’ll end up spending a lot if you don’t plan it out. That doesn’t mean you need to absent yourself from the social aspect as well – if someone’s going out to get lunch, ask if they’ll join you in the office breakroom.

      1. Muriel Heslop*

        This was my first advice, too! Bring your lunch and save yourself time and money!

        Congrats on the new job!

      2. lemon*

        At my last job, most people brought their lunch everyday, so when we wanted to be social, we’d have a picnic and all eat somewhere outside together. It was nice.

      3. Nicki Name*

        But also be prepared to say “yes” if it turns out one of the office traditions is “take the new person out to lunch at the company’s expense on their first day”.

      4. hamburke*

        I agree! I worked somewhere that it was hard to get lunch out in the 30 minutes we had for lunch (civilian govie on a military base – I had to go thru the front guard gate every time but military folks could go thru the side gates and it was discommissioning at the time so there wasn’t really much on base that I didn’t need military ID to access – a Burger King, I think?). Once a week, I’d call in an order for something that I could pick up in town – even then it was usually 35 or 40 minutes – I’d split it in 1/2, eat at my desk and have 2 lunches “out” per week. The break room on my floor wasn’t anything to talk about – a sink, a microwave and undercabinet fridge behind a wall from the cubicles and across from the bathrooms but the downstairs one was nice – full sized fridge/freezer, sink, dishwasher and about 10 tables in an actual room with floor to ceiling windows and was highly underused – I ate there several times alone at the common lunch times and was checked on by security to make sure I was ok – so break room is highly office cultural…

        What I would add to the advice given is ask for timelines. I was given a task which I completed in a couple hours. Apparently, that was supposed to last me a week. I did it efficiently and without errors so that wasn’t the problem, it was just the slow season so there was little to do for about a month. Most people were doing training but since I had to do these when I started, I had completed my required training. If I knew what to ask for, I would have requested additional access but I was so new, I didn’t know what else there was.

    2. Alternative Person*

      Invest time in organization.

      There can be a tendency to push people into just getting on with stuff and it can work, especially if you’re good at juggling tasks (and I am good at that) but setting even two minutes aside to make a list to-do list at the start of the day can make things a lot less stressful.

      (I don’t tend to write daily tasks, mostly stuff related to project work as that’s what works for me)

    3. Green Goose*

      Advice that I got from one of my coworkers when I was new to the working world was: For the first six months try to observe and learn, and then if you have any complaints or suggestions of “how to do things better” people will take you more seriously. This does not mean if someone asks you directly you should forgo providing your opinion, but more… sometimes when people are brand new and they come in with complaints and criticisms of how things are done right off the bat (even if it’s true) it’s not received well.

      Good luck on your first week!

      1. CallofDewey*

        Yes to this! It’s really off putting for people to come in guns blazing when they don’t have context yet.

      2. tangerineRose*

        It would be a good idea to write down ideas/complaints/suggestions you have – it will make it easier to not say them out loud, and you might have some great ideas.

      1. Nicki Name*

        Especially early on. Your co-workers are going to know you’re new to the working world, they’ll expect you to have questions.

      2. Federal Middle Manager*

        Yes! I always tell people there is a honeymoon phase in new jobs where you can ask LOTS of questions – how projects and departments interconnect, why things are done the way they are (being genuinely curious, not judgmental), what norms and customs are…and then that period ends and six months later it seems weird to ask certain things. So ask away!

      3. I need coffee before I can make coffee*

        Maybe it goes without saying, but when you ask questions, make sure you are really listening to the answers and learning. Have some way to take notes (I recommend an old fashioned pen and small notebook rather than an electronic device – you can transfer them to your preferred medium later). When you are new, you are usually getting a ton of information quickly and it’s easy to forget even simple things. Asking questions is good – asking repeat questions frequently gets annoying.

    4. JJs Diner*

      Find things to look forward to! Transitioning from college to a job was really tough for me because I felt like I lost a little bit of autonomy/independence, so I had to find little things to look forward to. Like, an unhealthy-but-delicious cup of mocha from the office coffee machine to get me started in the morning, or that lunch date with my friend on Thursday. If you have something to look forward to, getting through this transitional period is a tad bit easier!

      1. Federal Middle Manager*

        One of the biggest differences is that time is calculated differently outside of school settings. There’s not an end-of-semester deadline or reset button. You have to be more proactive in keeping up your training, finishing projects on time, and finding networking and growth opportunities because they don’t roll around every few months on a schedule.

    5. MissGirl*

      One of the best lessons I learned my first few years was how to receive criticism with grace and not get defensive. My first instinct was to defend myself and explain why it wasn’t my fault or why I made my mistake. I learned my managers just wanted me to acknowledge the error and say I’ll fix it. Bonus points if it was something frequent and I came up with a solution on how to keep it from happening. You will make mistakes; we all do.

      1. Quinalla*

        Agreed, everyone makes mistakes, managers want people to acknowledge the mistake appropriate to the severity (not overreact to a minor thing or under-react when it is a big deal) and tell them when they bring it up what you will do differently next time to avoid it or follow up with the detail later after agreeing to take care of it if you have to take some time figure it out first. If you show that you learned from and implemented a fix for a mistake, managers will love you :)

    6. That Would be a Good Band Name*

      Don’t panic if you feel like it’s overwhelming. It takes time to settle in to a new job. I think I’ve hated every job I’ve ever had for at least the first two weeks before I manage to adjust a little and realize that what I really hate is feeling like I don’t know what I’m doing. On the flip side, also don’t panic if you don’t have a lot to do at first. A lot of places start new employees out slow. Either way, it can be a few months before you feel completely settled in.

    7. Just stoppin' by to chat*

      Start investing in the 401k, especially if there is a match. If nothing else, at least get the match.

    8. Aphrodite*

      Drama is in every workplace. Every single one. Every job you have will never be without at least one of these around (though sometimes one person have have more than one, um, tag): a gossip, an angry person, a backstabber, a brown noser, a kiss-up, a avoider of work. Just stay out of the circles they create since you can’t change them.

    9. Constance Lloyd*

      It’s okay to say no sometimes! As a recent grad and the youngest on my team by far I felt the need to prove myself, which in a lot of ways worked well, but eventually I volunteered for so many new things as they came up I was spread too thin. Thankfully I was able to visit with my manager and redistribute some things, but since then I’ve paid closer attention to whether I can reasonably take on something new without giving up something else. Congratulations and best of luck!

    10. Lily Rowan*

      Also read the comments from yesterday’s post on how to learn office norms.

      Congratulations, and good luck!

    11. Uncle D*

      I worked for a Big 4 firm my first 2 years out of college, and I really wish I had taken the time to fully understand what I was doing and why for each engagement. Sometimes, due to the volume and nature of the work, you’re just expected to churn stuff out the way your supervisor tells you to. The people who excelled really took the time to understand the ultimate objectives of the work they were doing. Don’t be afraid to ask questions early on.

    12. Lifeistaxing*

      Congrats on the accounting job! Former big4 and SO is a senior manager at a regional firm.

      1) Pay attention to team dynamics around start times, lunch breaks, ect.
      Do people go out to lunch or eat at their desks?
      Is it normal to come in at 8am or 10am?
      Would you be seen as “slacking off” if you read a book or watched netflix during your lunch break?

      2) Don’t overshare, if you have an overly friendly senior spill their life story and expect yours, trust me, it’s not going to end well. Be friendly but don’t be overly trusting.

      3) Hours – my SO’s number one pet peeve is seniors/managers trying to work a 9-5 and basically leaving work un-done or poorly done, and he has to fix, usually after mid-night.

      4) Questions – don’t be afraid to ask them! you will not ever be given all of the information you need to complete your work. Following up, asking to make sure you’re really understanding, are all VERY important.

      5) Figure out your senior’s communication preference. Is it email? do they like pop in conversations? Do they want you to schedule time on their calendar?

      6) If someone does not tell you how long as task should take, you need to ask. If a senior assigns you something that should take 2 hours and you charge in 8, they have to explain that to THEIR boss.

      7) If everyone around you is swamped and you have time to study for the CPA exam or write a literal novel (this is real, someone did this) it’s because they have given up teaching you. They could be bad teachers, or you could be bad at accounting, either way, try to find out why you’re not getting more charge hours.

      8) Everyone plays favorites, most of your supervisors are 2-3 years older than you, and not that much more mature. Try to be the favorite, especially if it’s a manager or higher. They can advocate for better assignments and larger ratings/raises.

    13. Taura*


      Do you have someone you’d consider a mentor? If not, you might want to feel out how some of the more senior (compared to you) employees would feel about offering you some advice on a semi regular basis. It’s a lot to ask of someone, especially if you end up having a lot of discussions, but it is so helpful to have someone who’s been there help you with things.

      Also, I like checklists. I’m not sure how it is for accountants, but my job means I can get interrupted to do something else pretty frequently and then have to return to the original task. It’s been really helpful to have a list of all the steps in a process that I can mark off and then come back to instead of starting from scratch or hoping I don’t forget anything.

      Oh, and if there is a break room available, try to eat there instead of at your desk, that way you can get to know your coworkers without having to go out to lunch.

    14. Coverage Associate*

      I wish I could take you for coffee! I used to represent accountants, and I’m in the financial district.

      The main thing I wish I knew was that no one is really paying that much attention to you. It took me years after law school to realize work wasn’t like junior high. A strange lunch or backpack or clothing slightly outside the norm isn’t going to wreck you at all, let alone forever. People want to like people.

    15. Kes*

      Try to get along with everyone, but don’t let yourself be sucked into other people’s drama or particularly any taking sides (of course, hopefully your new workplace is not dysfunctional and you don’t have to deal with this)

    16. ILikeMeJustFine*

      Good luck with your next steps!

      I am going to repeat a couple of things I said over on another thread about interns and young workers. It applies here.

      1. TAKE NOTES. If you’re not already in the habit of jotting down notes to remember things people tell you, start doing this now. Don’t walk into a meeting–even one you think is going to be casual or off-the-cuff–without something to write with and something to write on. That procedure that someone is explaining to you that you’re sure you’ll remember a week from now? There’s a decent chance you won’t remember, especially when you’re trying to absorb lots of new things simultaneously. Writing things down keeps people from having to explain things to you multiple times.

      2. DO INDEPENDENT THINKING/RESEARCH WHEN POSSIBLE. While it’s important that you ask for help if you need it, it’s also important that you try to do some amount of independent thinking and problem solving when called for. I train lots of new people at my job. I have much more respect for people who try to solve problems a bit on their own before coming to me. The kinds of questions I appreciate sound something like: “I am trying to accomplish X. I’ve already tried A, B, and C solution, and I looked in the manual and checked the online documentation, but couldn’t find anything.” The kinds of questions I hate sound like: “How do you make a table in Word?” I just want to scream “Don’t ask me! Google that s**t!”

      The common denominator here is learning how to be low-maintenance while still being an effective, vocal team member. You can do it!

      1. Clisby*

        +1000 to #2. I told both of my children this about schoolwork. It’s always OK to ask questions, but a teacher’s going to be far more receptive if you show her the three (wrong) ways you tried to solve that calculus problem, rather than ask her to repeat the entire lesson you didn’t bother listening to the first time.

    17. fhqwhgads*

      This may not apply to you – but it really would’ve helped me to know it when I started my first job:
      Know what the minimum wage is for exempt positions, not just federally but at your local level. California has different standards not just across the board but also for certain types of professions (ie computer professional exemption is different than regular old professional exemption).
      I was young and just glad to have any type of job at all, and I assumed professionals would know what their actual obligations were. They did not. I was illegally underpaid for a VERY long time, not out of malice, just ignorance. Once they realized they made it right, but it would’ve been a lot better for me to not have had to deal with that. That was my first lesson in “just because it’s someone’s job to know what the labor laws are doesn’t mean anyone actually does.”

    18. The Kerosene Kid*

      One of my favorite people in the world gave me (and modeled) the advice to “make friends with the janitors and secretaries.” Obviously, that’s language from an earlier time, but her basic point was “Be nice to everyone, regardless of title or status.” It can help you in the long run (it has me!), but it’s just also the right thing to treat everyone decently. And you get to hear all the cool behind-the-scenes stories!

      1. Escapee from Corporate Management*

        Doing so helps in two ways:
        1. It makes you appreciate that EVERYONE contributes to the success of the company.
        2. The support staff often knows more about what’s going on than the people with fancy titles…like your bosses.

    19. The Kerosene Kid*

      Long ago, one of my favorite people in the world gave me (and modeled) the advice to “make friends with the janitors and secretaries.” Obviously, that’s language from an earlier time, but her basic point was “Be nice to everyone, regardless of title or status.” It can help you in the long run (it has me!), but it’s just also the right thing to treat everyone decently. And you get to hear all the cool behind-the-scenes stories!

    20. kupo*

      Don’t hide your mistakes. It may feel like, “oh crap, they’re going to be pissed that I messed up!” but actually it makes you look more concerned about your own appearances than the overall outcome, and believe me, everyone already knows you messed up. Just own it.

    21. Formerly Arlington*

      Be kind, nonjudgmental and not gossipy. Your career is wide open right now and you might be surprised that in a decade or more from now, people will remember you and if they liked you, will think of you for future opportunities. Even if they aren’t in the same field as you, your name might come to mind when they know of an opening elsewhere and they will suggest you because quality people are rare.

  14. Anonymous Educator*

    Related to the discussion the other day about a place raising the salary only after you’ve left, I found out my replacement has left for another department (presumably for higher pay; I don’t know for sure), and they may change the budget for my old position to get more candidates. I don’t think it was malicious on my former boss’ part (my old boss fought to get me a bunch of unsolicited raises while I was there). Our department’s salary budget was always just underfunded. I hope they find someone good… or can raise the salary enough to get a deeper candidate pool.

  15. Alternative Person*

    I finally completed the damn qualification I needed (after a lot of misery, they lost my test, moved the training location from local to abroad with four weeks notice, messed me around with feedback among other things). My main job doesn’t care, but at my contracting job I got a good per hour pay raise that will be backdated two months.

    I’m less happy and more relived, but it starts to open up my choices a fair bit more. I might have to wait a year or two to really move on from where I am now, but this puts me squarely on the path for it.

  16. Mindy St Claire*

    I am traveling for work next week and I am nervous!! My former boss, who I reported to HR for verbal abuse, has been told by them that he is not allowed to speak to me and we are traveling together! This is a conference that we booked travel for 6 months ago, before I reported him and before I got promoted into a different division.

    Any advice for how to handle this awkwardness? We will be on the same flights and in the same block of hotel rooms. Thankfully, we are presenting separately. I’m sweating just thinking about it.

    1. fposte*

      Oof. But I don’t think same flights and same block of hotel rooms has to mean “traveling together”–do you have everything you need for check in and payment without him, and is your airline seat separately assigned? Then you there will likely be other people on that flight staying at the same hotel, and he doesn’t have to get any more significance than those people. If you bump into him, a neutral nod and “Hi, Bob” while you keep moving or go back to whatever you’re doing are fine.

      Hope the conference goes well!

      1. DC*

        Agreed. You’re not “traveling together,” you’re just on the same flight as someone else who is going to this conference. You don’t have to give them any more than someone else you’d run into at the airport.

        If your seats ARE together, change yours at check-in!

    2. Anonariffic*

      Might not be an option if you booked through the corporate travel agent, but can you at least change your seat assignment so that you aren’t sitting near him on the flight?

    3. CatCat*

      Maybe just make peace with it. “This is going to be awkward, but okay.” If you have to sit near him during the flight, put on noise cancelling headphones during the flight. I hope you don’t have to share ground transportation, but if you do, sit in awkward silence if you have to while thinking, “This is awkward, but okay.”

      I think HR’s directive is kind of weird here. You both work in the same company so awkwardness is inevitable! Talking is not the problem, verbal abuse is the problem, but the directive is no talking.

    4. Blarg*

      He owns the awkward. He did the bad thing. He got in trouble. He’s probably walking on eggshells. Have a seat you like on the plane. “Block of rooms” doesn’t remotely mean “near each other” although you could certainly ask your travel planner to call and request you be on different floors if they booked both of your travel (hotels have gotten better at keeping room info private post-Erin Andrews, so that’s harder for you to control on site).

      While it is easier said than done, remind yourself that he did the bad thing. You did the amazing, heroic thing of reporting it. The consequences are his. HE was told not to talk to you. You weren’t told to not to talk to him. The responsibility is his. And if he acts like an ass, you know HR doesn’t want to hear the word “retaliation.”

      Congrats on your presentation and I hope it’s a good conference.

      1. T. Boone Pickens*

        I echo this, while I fully understand your anxiety, I would imagine this guy is going to avoid you like the plague unless he’s looking to commit career suicide. It wouldn’t surprise me if you don’t see him at all during your trip outside of at the airport.

    5. Dr. Anonymous*

      Don’t do the time if you didn’t do the crime. Let HIM be very uncomfortable as you gaze serenely out the window regarding your bright future.

    6. MissDisplaced*

      I think just try to avoid as much as possible and be professional but distant when/if you must speak to each other. You won’t have to sit next to each other on the plane, or at the conference hopefully. For hotels, it’s unlikely you’d be near the same room even if you booked a block as a company (I’ve never had it happen). If for some odd reason you are, you can always discretely ask the hotel staff to move you into a different room/floor.

      If he tries to engage a dialogue, I would just respond calmly, “I’m sorry Wakeen, but I’d rather not discuss that topic with you.”

    7. Kathenus*

      Cool professionalism. As everyone else has mentioned you really don’t need to spend much time together or around each other, but when you are be nothing but professional. If you find yourself running into him during the conference, you can just do a quick ‘I have to go do xx or find person xx, have a good afternoon’ and then leave.

      My last job was incredibly toxic, and a couple years ago I ran into someone I had a horrible history with at a conference. The first year I let it stress me out, the second year I almost reveled in the cool professionalism approach while she looked incredibly uncomfortable when I engaged another colleague in the group she was with in conversation. Good luck, don’t let worry about it ruin your conference, just own your own professional behavior and give yourself permission to move on whenever you end up around him.

    8. NothingIsLittle*

      If you’re booked to sit next to each other, you can always ask the flight attendant if anyone would be willing to switch seats (assuming yours is a nicer seat, window/aisle, first row, etc.) As long as you’re polite, discreet, and willing to take a worse seat, people are usually willing to swap.

      The rules might change if you’re business class, as I’ve never flown it, but I would wager that generally, single passengers won’t mind moving.

    9. sacados*

      Yeah, DON’T sit next to each other on the plane (if possible) and maybe see about the expense policy when it comes to transportation.
      For example, since you’re staying at the same hotel, is the company going to expect you to share cabs going to/from the conference every day or is it Ok for you to come and go when you want and pretend former boss doesn’t exist.

      1. Mimi*

        If you learn that you will have to sit next to him on the plane or share ground transportation, let HR know and tell the you are uncomfortable with the situation. If they have half a brain, they’ll move him. If not, then at least you warned them in advnce.

  17. When Did You Get Jaded At Work*

    That letter this week about the OP who realized she was being replaced for a lot more money, after being told they couldn’t get her a raise, reminded me of all the cracks in my good attitude over the years about work (I am also in nonprofit and started out very mission focused, but over time have become more practical about what I’m willing to put up with and for how much money). What was the Moment for you where you realized the working world wasn’t quite the mission driven meritocracy that you thought? For me, it was when I realized how much more money my boss made than me, when I knew for sure he screwed around most of the day while I was kicking my own ass trying to get everything done. He made like, three times as much as I did.

    1. AndersonDarling*

      It was when my raise was denied and then I found how how many bonuses the managers received. My boss was getting bonuses that was equivalent to the salaries of my entire department. At a non-profit. The CEO received a bonus so big that accounting thought there was something fraudulent and didn’t cut the check for a week.

      1. Sloan Kittering*

        Omigod you’re right, you just reminded me of the time I realized my ED made more in bonuses than I made in salary in a year!

        1. I See Real People*

          My boss made the ridiculously high bonus as well, while he trimmed mine (and others under him), which were a tenth of what his bonus was. You know, we gotta cut costs wherever we can! Ugh!

      2. DataGirl*

        I work for a non-profit. Our CEO just gave himself an 82% raise (close to 3 Million dollars), and all the Executive Leadership get 6 figure bonuses every year. The rest of us are underpaid and overworked and can’t even get COL raises because the org “doesn’t have any money”. Now they are having layoffs and there is a hiring freeze. Everyone is angry and miserable.

    2. ACDC*

      For me it was two instances that happened pretty close together…
      1. Boss’s 17y.o. daughter became one of my employees without any interview or input from me. I found out she was making the same as me (her manager).
      2. Different job a coworker would every so often lash out and SCREAM at me when she was frustrated. These screaming fits would include calling me the B word and the N word (I’m not black, so there are many layers that could be unpacked from that…). She would never be reprimanded by management for it, just a little slap and the wrist and a reminder that we all need to be nice to each other.

        1. Marika*

          Also, the reverse. I got a contact teaching slot at the college my parents were faculty at (mind you, different divisions, different campuses, over 1000 full time faculty and at least that in contract). I applied for full time, got to the second round, and they hired all four of the other candidates. No problem, I’d been there a year and was just pleased to make the top five. I was told ‘do these things, and it’ll be you next time’. All ‘these things’ were well outside the scope of a contract teacher’s job, but ok.

          Three years later, new positions open up. I apply. I don’t make the second round, and my boss calls me in, can’t meet my eyes (my shoes weren’t THAT nice, but he talked to them for the entire 15 minutes) and tells me my contract won’t be renewed either. The official line was that ‘I wasn’t meeting expectations’ (funny how two weeks earlier I’d sat in that exact chair and been told I was exceeding everything, an asset to the department and was winning a teaching award).

          When it was all over, a member of the hiring committee took me to lunch and told me that HR had vetoed me based solely on my last name “It wouldn’t look good to hire another member of the family”. Instead they hired someone with one year of experience, no background in teaching and who apparently couldn’t plan a lesson (something they found out the following year when his lessons fell apart – odd, since his first year they were great. Of course, I might have mentioned to my colleagues to keep their file cabinets locked… when he couldn’t crib anyone’s files, he had no idea what he was doing).

    3. ginkgo*

      This is a great question.

      For me, it was getting laid off after 7 months at my last job (second professional job, after being in my first, beloved job for about 5 years). It was a toxic environment and I had started job searching 3 months in and got as far as a phone interview for a job that would have paid better and been more in line with my career goals, but I felt SO guilty and conflicted about it. I didn’t get past the phone interview, and felt only an overwhelming sense of relief when I was later laid off, but I realized then that I was 100% right to have been searching, and since then I’ve felt no guilt about looking out for #1. It’s actually an attitude that’s really benefited me – I’m starting a new job next week with a big pay bump! I don’t think I would have sought it out or landed it without that terrible experience.

      A sort of related story that I’m not bitter about, but think is awesome – at that first job I mentioned, my boss was new to managing and hadn’t hired from outside before (all her previous direct reports had been promoted into the position), so when I left it was the first time she’d had to post a job description and look at the pay range for my position, and she was like “Um… this is more than I make.” She ended up going to her boss and getting a big raise, and she also told one of our other coworkers who did the same, so basically two of my good friends got a $10K+ raise as a direct result of my leaving. I could be pissed that I could have been making more that whole time, but I also know that I didn’t advocate for myself, and that company did take pretty good care of me in other ways, so I’m just happy that my friends benefited (and I’m making more now than I ever would have there, so I’m not too bothered!).

    4. Pescadero*

      “What was the Moment for you where you realized the working world wasn’t quite the mission driven meritocracy that you thought?”

      My parents worked crap jobs for years.

      I never thought the working world was anything other than work – a barely bearable slog that you are stuck with until you retire, because as bad as it is – it’s better than living in a box and eating out of dumpsters.

      …and almost 30 years of working in – my view really hasn’t changed any.

    5. Scaramouche*

      For me in nonprofit land it’s more about a disillusionment with the whole setup – major nonprofits funded by the foundations set up by robber barons to feel better about themselves, when we’d all probably be better off if people like Andrew Carnegie or Jeff Bezos just paid people fair wages, had fewer profits, grew less rich, and let workers decide how to spend their own money – rather than doling out grants where they want to change the world, just don’t make the world worse. And realizing there are other ways to make the world better than devoting a career to it. I got the idea as a 20 year old that nonprofits were THE place to make a difference and locked myself into a career trajectory I didn’t fully understand.

      1. Sloan Kittering*

        Yeah worked on a lot of enviro campaigns funded by big companies who were trashing the environment in the first place. And a lot of it was aimed at what individuals could personally do to help.

      2. Coffeelover*

        I did development work in Africa for a while because I thought I could help change the world. That was a big eye opener.

    6. Goldfinch*

      For me it was when my cubicle was moved to right outside a VP’s office, allowing me to overhear a sitcom-esque litany of #firstworldproblems. Management was fighting me on a raise to meet market value (per a giant stack of verified BLS and industry data I had provided), while this guy was moaning about scuffing his bespoke loafers and how much his wife’s custom diamond anniversary band was costing him. I honestly wondered if I was being filmed, he was so ridiculous.

    7. Ali G*

      When my last boss at OldJob was hired and she made it her mission to oust me from the department, and the hire-ups just let her. Never mind I created that department, ran it for 5 years and all the success she claimed were gotten on the backs of the people that I recruited, trained and oversaw.
      It took 6 months to find another job after I left because I decided I was going to be so picky about where I ended up. No more working my arse off for someone else to get rich when I can just be tossed out one day on a single person’s whim.

    8. PharmaCat*

      At any job where I hv worked a lot of unpaid OT (I’m exempt), then they nickel and dime me on a doctor appt during lunch, late arrival due to illness/OT, maternity leave counted to the millisecond…

      My last job we could not use sick leave for planned medical tests. Um, so if the diagnostic scan shows cancer its sick leave, otherwise its PTO?

    9. Ama*

      When my boss that everyone loved and thought was so devoted to my then-employer (a university) was walked out of the office after having been embezzling funds for the last decade. This was about two months after he killed a promotion I had been promised and blamed it on “union rules” — but I believe in hindsight was an excuse because it would have given me access to our real time budget.

    10. Tris Prior*

      We had all busted ass for months on an insane project with a totally unreasonable deadline. One of my co-workers literally did not see her young children awake for more than a month, due to all the late nights and full weekend days at the office. Literally minutes after we delivered the product (on time!) and notified the customer that it was released, everyone got an email. Either you were called into the “good meeting” (you get to keep your job but have to take a pay cut) or the “bad meeting” (laid off).

      I was in the “good meeting”, so I kept my job but had my salary cut, but seriously, it was just such a slap in the face after we’d been running ourselves into the ground for so long. My co-worker who didn’t get to see her kids was in the “bad meeting” and my heart just broke for her. All that sacrifice, and for what?

      That’s the moment I stopped giving any further Fs about my job. I’m not there any more, that was several jobs ago, but now I see my job as a means to an end, I don’t see it as a mission or let it define my worth.

    11. Bananatiel*

      I was one of two designers in the company– the other designer made almost exactly as much as I did. I wasn’t happy about it because he didn’t have a college degree and was less experienced than I was by about five years (significant given our roles were not senior), but making the same amount was better than nothing I figured. Well, a few months after I first learned what he made, I found out he got a 50% raise! That’s bad enough, but he’d been accused of stealing design work and doing a few other unethical things in the midst of that so I have NO idea how he managed it. I suspect gender played a partial role since I’m a woman– especially since the work I did was much more significant and important to the company.

      I left shortly after that and am happy to report I make more and don’t work any overtime anymore.

    12. Mimi*

      It was when my boss had a check stolen from my locked office after hours and then had the replacement check stolen. Everyone and their brother knew where the spare keys were kept unsecured. I got fired. I was there only few weeks and I had pushed back at something shady she was making me put my name on instead of hers. Boss lady was regularly drinking her lunch so I can now see it as a bullet dodged.

      1. Just Another Manic Millie*

        Oh my goodness, this reminds me of what happened to a co-worker at a former company. This company had an extremely unsatisfactory way of giving raises, and TPTB eventually announced that everyone (approx 85 people) would be reviewed by a committee, and the committee would decide who deserved raises. However, we were told that the committee wasn’t able to meet, because one of them was always out sick, on a business trip, or on vacation. We were never told just who was on this committee, ostensibly to protect their privacy, but I believe it was so that we weren’t able to say, “But all of them were in the office every single day last week.”

        People started leaving the company in droves, and I found a new job, too. When I gave the office manager two weeks notice at the end of July (in the 1980s), I told her that I was tired of waiting for the committee to meet. She flat-out guaranteed that the committee would meet before the end of the year. I said that I wasn’t willing to wait.

        On December 30, I met up with some former co-workers, and they said that the committee still hadn’t met. I told them that the office manager had guaranteed me that the committee would meet before the end of the year, and I said that maybe it would meet the following day. They didn’t think so.

        I eventually found out that in March of the following year, someone in the mail room asked a Vice President who he assumed was on the committee when the committee would meet. (So the office manager had lied to me.) The VP said that he didn’t know anything about any committee. Soon after that, after the box containing petty cash was left unlocked and unattended, TPTB discovered that $3,000 was missing. They decided to blame the mail room guy, even though he wasn’t the only one who had been in the room with the unlocked petty cash box. (And what about the three people who had keys to the petty cash box?) So he was fired, but all they said was that his services were no longer required, since they didn’t have any proof that he was the one who stole the $3,000.

        I became very disillusioned with the working world when I felt forced to look for a new job and leave this company. I had asked people for advice, and my uncle said that if I didn’t leave and continued to work for this company and wait patiently for a raise that would never come, the company would lose respect for me. A few years after I left, the company moved to a new office and fired practically all of their employees, not giving them the chance to move with them. My former department was abolished. I wondered how the company could get rid of so many hard-working employees, and then I realized that it was because the company didn’t respect them.

    13. Coffeelover*

      I’m not sure if there was a specific instance, but it happened really early into my career (a few months into my first job at big 4 consulting). The overarching reasons were:
      1) your ability to schmooze with the higher ups was more valued than the quality of your work (and I’m not much for schmoozing)
      2) general incompetence: before starting work I kind of thought everyone knew what they were doing. Now I know there are a lot of senior people with big salaries that have no clue (kind of related to the first point maybe)
      3) generally being treated like a number in the machine. I’ve been lucky to have a few direct managers who really cared but the people above them? Nope.

      I got disillusioned pretty fast but in a lot of ways I think it’s been a good thing. I don’t stress about work. I look out for my own interests. And I’m now in a job that I generally enjoy doing even if it’s not the meaning of my existence. I have life goals outside of work and a good work-life balance that’s pretty stress free. It was a hard blow at the time that I probably could have handled better, but I realize now that work is what you make it. It’s all about perspective.

    14. Nonprofit Nellie*

      When I found out via email that my new employee was making $2000 more than me. Nonprofit world. I had the credential needed. She didn’t.

    15. Not Telling*

      Most recently, when the head of our division talked about about our being a transparent and non-political workplace, and then praised someone for their hard work on a project they barely touched because the person who had made the project so successful got fired for political reasons shortly after completion.

    16. Overeducated*

      About halfway through my PhD program, which isn’t even a normal job in a lot of ways. Because it’s not a normal job there’s a huge amount of pressure to have work be your life, to do things that won’t earn and often cost money for the sake of building your resume, and to let exploitative labor practices or poor treatment go because you’re a “student,” not a “worker,” or because you just have so much passion that you “can’t imagine doing anything else.”

      It just didn’t make sense to me at some point. I wasn’t willing to have a vocation instead of a job where I’m paid in accordance with the work that I do. So I simply didn’t pay out of pocket for childcare or stay up all night to keep working on publications when I graduated and didn’t have an academic job right away. I found work in another sector one where I lost a lot of the academic flexibility to choose what I work on and when I work on it, but I have a predictable work week, reasonable work-life balance, and a culture where people get training and take management responsibilities seriously. I’m not idealistic but I am realistic and joined my union to be able to band together with others for decent treatment.

  18. Remote bureaucracy*

    I have been the sole person in a department for about two years, my workload has increased significantly and I’m starting to burn out. I work in an area that allows for a lot of remote/WFH accommodations but unfortunately, my employer is weird about it. Some people can but it’s never clear who can or why. I have had a PT remote employee helping me for a few months and I’ve worked really, really hard to get them a temporary FT fellowship and it was finally approved.

    Well, when we were trying to set up him IT for his home office I got a sort of snarky message from our IT department “reminding” me that all FT employees need to work at our office. I sort of saw red when I read that. My employee has always been remote and he is a really hard worker with excellent results and we never discussed him coming into the office (it would be a 3 hour round trip drive due to traffic congestion).

    I’m so frustrated but I also want to protect my new staff member that I really, really need. Any advice?

    1. DC*

      IT is not HR. It’s possible they just never got the memo about him being remote. Run it up the chain, casually. “Hey, I’m not sure IT got the memo that X will be staying remote in this role. Can you clear that up with them?”

      If anyone pushes back, say “We never discussed changing their current work arrangement with them.”

      1. Remote bureaucracy*

        I should have mentioned in my OP. So the hiring for this position was a bit of a mess, we are super understaffed at the moment (think crisis-level impending) and there was a lot of back and forth if the position could even happen and it got approved at the 11th hour, but during that mess of a process I never asked outside of my department if it was okay for him to work remotely. Which is why I’m worried now. My department does not care about WFH but HR and our CEO does.

        1. SomebodyElse*

          Go with the… “Why would the location change for an existing employee? They were already working remote, so it should have been assumed they they would continue with that”

          As I said below, I wouldn’t proactively go to HR about this. Yes I know it sounds a little underhanded, but at this point proceed like there’s no reason that this employee shouldn’t be remote and that this is a simple change in status from PT to FT. No other changes.

          1. SomebodyElse*

            and if HR comes back opposing this… ask them what their offer stated? I believe ours indicates the employees reporting location. In other words make this their problem that they didn’t clearly spell out the changes they intended.

    2. SomebodyElse*

      Get back to IT and say “Not applicable for this employee… please continue remote setup. Thanks”

      9/10 times that’s enough.

      1. Just stoppin' by to chat*

        Agreed. Just act like it’s a ridiculous statement. My guess is someone lower on the office hierarchy either passed along a comment from their manager without all the context, or maybe heard something when they tried to set up someone to work remote in the past, etc. Keep telling yourself you did not do anything wrong! Also, it’s okay to take a step back since this new person will hopefully give you at least a little breathing room (hopefully!) to question if you still want to work for an organization that is so understaffed. Someone higher up is making decisions that resulted in this, and if you don’t trust your employer to support your hiring decision to bring in someone to help with the staffing issues (i.e, that you worry they won’t support a remote employee), then that says something about your org’s priorities. Good luck with everything!

    3. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Realistically – tell the new person what’s up, and offer to be a reference for them. Then you start job searching.

      Companies like that don’t get with the program unless and until NOT being with the program is hurting them. And you’re burning out.

      1. ten-four*

        Definitely definitely agree: start job searching. This place does not sound well run. You’re at impending crisis levels and still jumping through hoops to get basic staffing in place and you’re burning out. Is there any reason to think things will improve meaningfully? Do you want to be feeling like this next year? 3 years from now?

  19. Junk Food Octopus*

    I have kind of a silly dilemma, but would love any feedback on this that any folks can provide!

    My group has just moved to a new space, and much of my group is stationed in assigned hoteling-like seating, where it’s just flat-desks (no dividers). Frankly, it’s horrible, and I have apologized to my team members who find themselves situated in these seats.

    One member of my team in particular is struggling because his hoteling neighbor is constantly texting, and rather than using a vibrate or even noise function, chooses to use the light-flash alert function for texts and emails that are not work-related. He’s complained a few times about this giving him headaches and had to move a few times because of it, but I am not sure if this is territory that we can address (and I can confirm it is annoying – I have had meetings with the light-flash-phone-owner and it is a violent light flash that can trigger my migraines). Does he address it with the phone owner? Do I as his manager? Do I address it with her manager? Do we leave it alone? What does the group think?

    Thanks for the group’s thoughts!

    1. Sloan Kittering*

      My goodness, I would certainly suggest that he politely ask the person to change their settings first, and if that doesn’t fix it, I’d follow up. One of the burdens of an open office is that communication has to get real. I have had to have so many uncomfortable conversations with coworkers about their humming, playing music without headphones, tapping their pencils, starting at me while thinking, etc. It’s part and parcel of the experience.

      1. Zombie Unicorn*

        “tapping their pencils, starting at me while thinking”

        You… have conversations about this? You don’t just ignore it?

        1. Sloan Kittering*

          Oh yep absolutely! “I’m sorry, I’m finding that distracting for some reason, could you please not tap that pencil right next to me?” For staring: (brightly!): “hi! Did you need something? Oh sorry, I thought you were making eye contact.” If I do this twice a day, they stop. I agree, if it was a short term thing, like on the train one day or something, I wouldn’t say anything. But in my office we are crammed in elbow to elbow with no hope of ever getting out, so we all have to adapt. I’ve also had people ask me not to do things (mutter under my breath mostly) and as long as they are asking for something I can reasonably do, and not in a super mean way or something, of course I want to know!

    2. fposte*

      I think you absolutely can address it as manager, and at this point I’d say you should since it’s intrusive enough that it’s not just this co-worker. So figure out your text alert policy is (vibrate only? or is that too noisy if people leave their phone on the table?), and let the flashing co-worker know that she needs to change her alert during work hours to a non-intrusive method.

      1. Junk Food Octopus*

        I wish we had a text alert policy I could refer to, but sadly no such luck – but it’s intrusive enough that I agree, worth addressing for sure.

    3. valentine*

      If the seating is assigned, why is he still next to her?

      Given it’s affecting you as well, he asks her to change it. If she doesn’t, you speak to her manager. But she needs to change it. Don’t address the fact she’s texting, except to mention how often it’s going off. Don’t express dissatisfaction with her texting. Stick to the effect on your employee and yourself.

      1. Junk Food Octopus*

        Unfortunately, facilities has expressed that there are no additional options or flexibility for seating; they are quite unfriendly and not up for discussion at all. That was the first avenue I had tried. It’s also worth mentioning that she is a contractor and due to performance will be leaving in a month (which is her notice period), so this isn’t a hill to die on, so to speak, but still worth addressing it seems.

        1. Mr. Shark*

          Well, thankfully it’s just a month, but I don’t see any reason why it has to be a hill to die on. You are a manager, and it should be something that can easily be taken care of by you telling the person (or their manager) that this is causing headaches, or frankly is just distracting.

    4. Madeleine Matilda*

      As a manager I think you have standing to ask the employee to turn off the light notifications during work hours. It’s no different than asking someone to turn off their ring tone or not to listen to music without headphones.

    5. Master Bean Counter*

      Tell him if he’s that worried about missing a text a smart watch is the way to go. You can get them for under $50 on amazon these days.

    6. Alternative Person*

      If it’s migraine trigger level you should definitely address it. It might be a case of going to their manager first, depending on how your hierarchy works, but people should not be casually flashing bright lights around.

      (Also, while I haven’t had a seizure triggered specifically by light flashes, I am epileptic and I find flashing lights super disorienting (I wear sunglasses at concerts) so this is something that needs to be dealt with, probably quickly.)

    7. Voc Ed Teacher*

      PLEASE adddress it! I am a chronic migraine sufferer, bright flashes of light can be a trigger or if I’m experiencing an aura with one, this will make it worse. Not only is it annoying, its impacting someone’s health.

      1. NothingIsLittle*

        But what would that change about the situation? I would certainly be sympathetic, but these are personal texts, not business texts, so she shouldn’t be taking them at work anyway. That they’re preventing other people from doing work makes it a problem that Octopus’s report or the neighbor’s manager should be addressing. If it weren’t a problem, I’d say to let it go, but causing since it’s causing the people around her to have migraines or otherwise be unable to work, her phone needs to be on Do Not Disturb when she’s in the office.

        1. BelleMorte*

          It matters because if other people are allowed to check personal emails/texts, you can’t tell someone who is hard of hearing that they alone can’t because their accessibility tool is annoying.

          HOWEVER… talk to the person and tell them the light flashing is triggering migraines.

          1. NothingIsLittle*

            I guess in my mind it’s a conflict of medical accommodations. It’s not necessary to her work and is triggering migraines (I guess I should have been clearer that I meant people were unable to work because it triggered a medical condition), so it’s not that her accessibility tool is annoying, it’s that her accessibility tool is actively hurting her coworkers . She wouldn’t be prevented from checking her personal texts/emails, there just wouldn’t be a notification of their arrival. Perhaps you could make the case that the fix should instead be her moving to another desk instead of her phone being on Do Not Disturb, but my understanding of the situation was that this had been considered and wasn’t viable.

          2. Observer*

            That’s not really the case. The problem is not checking email / text. It’s creating a disturbance that is not work related.

  20. AP No Noir*

    What do you want to hear when I can’t pay your invoice? I am in finance but have little control over what has been selected for payment. I can’t promise a date/payment amount but try to reply to each of the hundreds of emails I receive daily. Other than “I’m sorry” what can I say?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      What’s the reason you can’t pay the invoice? Would those details be none of their business? I mean, it would seem it would sort of be their business, because business involves their invoice being paid…

    2. Sloan Kittering*

      Ugh I so feel this! I used to work in a program that did a terrible job paying the invoices of freelancers (partly because they had firm cut off dates for payments, partly because they were using gov’t funds so things had to be exactly right in ways that always changed) and I always felt like garbage being part of it.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Umm. Are you sure you will be getting a paycheck?

      This has to be super upsetting to deal with, I am sorry this is happening to you.

      1. KR*

        This is what I’m thinking. OPs org either needs standard payment terms and needs to stick to them, or needs to pay their invoices by the due date and the fact that they aren’t is unsettling.

        1. Lucy Preston*

          Very true, but many of us work jobs where we don’t make policy, we have to work within the policy constraints.

          to AP No Noir, being on the collecting side, I most often heard that the invoice was still on the desk of X for review. They promised to check with X, but ultimately it was up to X to get the payment processed.

    4. Master Bean Counter*

      Here’s my reply:
      “I’m sorry your invoice wasn’t approved for payment this week. I’ll look into it and try to get it in on the next check run.”
      Then tell your boss who’s bugging you for payment.

    5. ACDC*

      Well, we want to hear when we can expect payment in all honesty. Do you have a way to escalate requests? That is really frustrating for you and for your vendors. My first account job was in AP for a small company in which they would never (and I mean never) pay their bills on time. I was instructed not to pay any invoices until the vendor called to ask about payment statuses.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          It happens every single day.

          This is why most restaurants are put on cash-on-delivery terms, they’re the GD worst ever.

          I have broken many customers of this ‘habit’ as well by freezing terms and telling them they’d be removed if it happens again. When they don’t change, they are suddenly on cash only terms oh and then we get paid or they have to go find another vendor to try to play games with, good luck with that, until that vendor tells them to GTFO of course.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I want to hear when you will pay me.

        I have had two responses from a company not paying me by the expected date:
        a) “Oops, let me check on that.” Check arrives within the week.
        b) “Gosh yeah, complicated, will like definitely be this future date.” Company went bankrupt without paying me.

        So yeah, if your company doesn’t pay on time I won’t work for you any more, figuring I’d better cut my losses before the impending bankruptcy. It’s not like I’m sending invoices as a hobby that I don’t expect to be renumerative–I completed the work as assigned, and I expect to be paid the contracted amount within 8 weeks. Most places do this like it’s in their business model.

    6. Emi*

      As a freelancer, I’d just prefer you to be honest about what I can expect, so that I can react accordingly. If that answer is “I have no idea when/if you might get paid” then that is an answer.

      That might mean not doing any more work for the company until payment is received, or ever again, just don’t string me along.

    7. RS*

      I’m in the same situation and I feel your pain. I have no idea what people want to hear from me though, so I have no advice.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        They want to hear from you when a check will be sent for the goods or services already rendered. They might understand that you are not the person who okays that, but if your company put you out on the pointy end of the stick to explain matters, well, you’re the only person from whom the vendors can try to get answers.

        People who say “I sent you this work 3 months ago, and I want my money” are not trying to be mean or hurt anyone’s feelings–they want to be paid. They would not have agreed to the job if they were told payment might or might not happen, who knows with these things?

      2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        We want you to tell us that we’re going to get paid and that the check is either being cut in this next check run or that it was cut last week and should be there any minute now.

        Anything short of that is going to upset someone. Rightfully so.

        Think about it this way. Our invoices being paid is how we continue as a business. The small the business, the more important an individual invoice is going to have an impact on the bottom line. That money means I can then turn around and pay to keep our lights on, machines running and staff paid on time.

        I know you’re just the messenger but there are millions of AP squads that can pay within reasonable terms and don’t dodge customers who want paid for their services/products rendered. So truly think about who you’re working for because it does reflect horribly on the AP clerks put in this situation.

    8. magnusarchivist*

      This is giving me flashbacks to a nonprofit I worked for, where I was a department head and had a budget, but all invoice payments ran through one billing person for the whole organization. And they would never, ever pay bills on time. I’d order products or services which should have been covered by my budget, forward the invoice to billing, and then hear back *months* later from the vendor that they still hadn’t been paid.

      It was horrifically embarrassing for me, but all I could do was apologize and promise to look into it, at which point they’d usually get paid. (Am unsure what happened to the invoices still open when I left.) Would have loved to give them the billing person’s contact info and say “it’s out of my hands — check with them!” but we were expressly forbidden from doing that.

    9. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Don’t work at this company any longer if they’re so awful at paying their bills on time. Nothing you can say will ever make us happy.

      The best thing to say is “We have received the invoice [so I know it’s in your system] but unfortunately don’t have any additional information on when payment will be submitted.”

      Do you have someone to refer them to? They’re still going to be enraged. I can only assume that you’re with a big enough company that this isn’t costing you vendors because I just ripped credit terms away from someone who could never tell me when I was going to get paid. This is a huge sign that you’re having internal issues and my risk of never being paid is high.

    10. Narvo Flieboppen*

      Been there, done that. I spent too many months going through that hamster wheel. I don’t have a good speech for you, other than doing your best to placate the ones who are angry.

      The best advice I can give you is to pull that ripcord and bail out before the missed payment is your pay check. Perhaps surprisingly, the best business for paying their bills on time is a NPO for which I’m working. We have a hive full of other bee problems, but paying the bills ain’t one.

      The place which was so terrible about paying bills was a world renowned business run by a family of multi-millionaires. Just run very poorly, of course. The final sign it was time to leave was when we couldn’t pay the bills, couldn’t give raises to staff because ‘there’s no money in the budget’, and yet I’m cutting bonus checks for the management team for 5x the AP balance due. Oh hell no.

    11. Zapthrottle*

      That question can only be answered by the person controlling that invoice’s destiny. Until you have approval to pay it, you aren’t the almighty invoice destiny driver so point the vendor to the person who is. If the invoice is part of a laaaaarge pile of documents needing to be approved by one person….THAT’s who controls the invoice’s destiny…..send them that-a-way!

    12. AccountantWendy*

      Hi! I work in AR and so I’m on the other side of this, writing to the poor AP people like you! More than anything, I want you to acknowledge the payment is past due! That goes a long way in my book….”Sorry our account has fallen behind.” I realize most of the people I’m talking to aren’t the decision makers and would prefer not to be in an uncomfortable position. I’m not asking you to defend your company’s position, so “We have the invoice but I don’t have an ETA on payment” is so much easier than getting into uncomfortable details or otherwise feeling like you need to justify yourself. Frankly, it’s none of my business why you’re company’s payment is late, I only need to know that you know that it’s late and from there, it’s up to my company to decide how to manage our risk.

    13. Shirley Keeldar*

      I want an accurate estimate of when I’ll get my payment. I don’t want an apology, since that doesn’t help me pay my bills. I get that you’re in a tough spot, I do, but if my check is 3-4 months late I’m in a much tougher spot than you are, so I’m afraid my sympathy is limited.

      There’s just not that much you can say that will work in this situation. Words don’t replace cash. If you hand the cashier at the grocery store your money, you want your groceries, right? If he/she kept your groceries and refused to give them to you, is there anything he/she could say to make that situation better?

      If it’s impossible for you to pay an invoice or give an accurate estimate of when the invoice will be paid, your job is going to be pretty awful. Sorry about that. But it’s not the fault of the people who just want the money they’re actually due.

      1. Shirley Keeldar*

        Um, sorry, I think I sounded a little bitter there. I’ve been freelancing for sixteen years in an industry that’s notorious for paying late. It does get to me. OP, I realize you’re feeling powerless and stuck, and I didn’t mean to snap at you. I just meant…in the situation you describe…I don’t think words are going to help.

  21. What'sThePoint*

    I’ve been unemployed for over a year and a half. After doing what seems like tons of phone screenings and interviews, I’m finding that the more I do, the less motivated I am to do any sort of prep for them. If I spend a lot of time preparing for a phone screening, then I expect to either be asked to go to an interview or never hear from them again. If spend a lot of time preparing for an interview, then I expect to never hear back from them. It just seems so pointless to be doing them at all, let alone investing time in preparing for them, when the end result never changes.

    I actually find myself getting angry when companies reach out to me. Like, “Why are you bothering me? It wasn’t enough that I wasted all that time slogging through your application system? Now you need a half hour phone call and then an hour interview to further confirm how worthless and unhirable I am?!”

    Does anyone have any advice on how I could feel less resentful or find motivation to prepare for phone screenings or interviews again? Or have I been unemployed long enough that it just doesn’t matter and I can finally stop applying? I can’t imagine being hired or having a job again anymore.

    1. Master Bean Counter*

      Can you go volunteer some where to find a little purpose? It’s a terrible cycle until the day things just click and fall into place. In the mean time a little distraction goes a long way.
      Also cut down on the number of applications you are putting in, if you can. Look for better fits for your skills. Less can be way more in this case.

      1. Qwerty*

        Seconding this suggestion! In addition to finding purpose, you’ll also get the morale boost of accomplishing something which should improve your mood and your confidence. Give yourself something else to focus on so there is less stress involved in your job hunt. Additionally, it may eventually help with the job search by showing that you are still working (even if it is unpaid), which gives you recent accomplishments and stories to point to during the behavioral interviews.

        Another thought would be to give yourself a break from interviewing in your field and spend a few months doing part-time work at a fast-food restaurant or retail store. Kids are going back to school, which means there will likely be more openings. In my area many of these places skip the traditional application process and just advertise certain days for walk-on, instant interviews with the hiring manager.

        1. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

          You need a break. A part-time retail job will give you an income and a purpose, but not take up all of your time. At this stage, you sound so overwhelmed that a bit of self-care is required.

          There is a point, I promise. You just need to go a step or two removed for it to get clearer.

    2. Quill*

      Hey point, I was unemployed from last November to the end of May.

      The only advice I’d give you is to cut down on the feeling of waiting on people by not putting any pressure on yourself to respond immediately (or even quickly) to companies or recruiters. Turn off the notification on your phone, let the emails pile up, and do something else with tangible results for at least half the day – whether that’s working out, cleaning the house, going to the library, or whatever. Any recruiting place that wants to get down your throat about “apply immediately!” is at best just throwing candidates at any position they can find, at worst actively shady.

      If they needed a candidate at 5 AM on Tuesday there’s no reasonable reason for them (or any recruiting company representing them,) to think that anyone who applies after 5 PM the same day is too late.

      (Also in my industry phone screenings don’t tend to be something that people can really prepare for? The companies are too big compared to the obscure duties that you’d end up having, so maybe try and cut your prep down to the essentials.)

    3. Colette*

      That sounds discouraging, but it also sounds like something that is turning in to a self-fulfilling cycle. You don’t expect the interview to go anywhere, so you don’t sound interested, so they don’t advance you to the next round.

      But it’s not that you’re worthless and unhireable, just that it hasn’t worked out yet.

      Can you do some networking (i.e. talk with people you know and have worked with about their career path/industry/company)? Not because it will necessarily lead to jobs, but because it will help you remember that you are a good employee.

      What about volunteering? That could again help you remember that you are useful.

    4. Andream*

      I’ve been there and it is rough. Try and keep a positive attitude. Don’t think of it as they are interviewing you to show how worthless you are, but they are interviewing you because there is obviously something that you have that you want. If you come to an interview with that bad attitude they will be able to see it and it could be the defining factor about why they did t hire you.

      Also, check to see if there are any job support groups around you. My local workforce development center has lots of workshops that help keep you motivated. It can help just knowing that you aren’t alone.
      Good luck!

    5. Just stoppin' by to chat*

      This may not be what you’re looking for, but the anger you describe, on top of a 1.5 year job search, sounds like you may be experiencing depression. Hopefully you can find ways to incorporate breaks, walks, something that raises your spirits throughout the day. Even trying to find a therapist that works on a sliding scale, or willing to work pro bono, etc. Even just watching some funny videos on YouTue throughout the day to give yourself time to laugh! You are not unhireable!

    6. Not A Manager*

      Your situation sounds depressing. Is it possible that you’re getting a bit depressed? If you have access to healthcare, you might check in with your PCP for some support.

    7. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I fear that at this point, your anger and disappointment may be palatable when you get those interviews, so you’re possibly not doing very well and you’re phoning it in.

      What happens is at first we’re full of energy and positivity, we give it our all and we experience a wave of rejections. It’s not our fault, it’s because we’re fighting it out with other highly skilled professionals looking for those same jobs, we’re just squeaked out by the person with a years more experience or more education or who’s mom knows the hiring manager, etc.

      You’ve now internalized it, are using it to define your self worth and it’s deteriorating your energy level and ability to show that marketable “face” during the courting/interview stage. It’s the cycle of depression and it’s truly awful, my heart goes out to you for it, I’ve been there done it and also known many who have done the same song and awful dance.

      But really you have to keep swimming when you start thinking about just sinking to the bottom of the river you’re trying to get across. It’s easier said than done but you can do it, you are worth it and you deserve nice things. You are not unhireable. You are not worthless. These are crude things our minds tell us but they are lies.

      There is no level where you should stop applying and stop trying.

    8. NothingIsLittle*

      When I was unemployed, my depression got exponentially worse and, for me, it was a combination of not having a routine and feeling worthless, since nothing felt productive. My best advice would be to find a way to stick with a routine where you wake up the same time every day and start with something that feels productive (like writing your novel for 30 minutes or cooking an impressive breakfast, something that you’ll feel accomplished doing). I can’t say if you’re depressed or not, but either way, many people benefit from having at least some structure in their schedule. I would also recommend finding something that helps you feel valued. Some people have mentioned volunteering or taking a part-time food service or retail job for something to do, and I’d add possibly temping depending on where you live and where you are in your professional experience.

      I wasn’t unemployed for very long and it was right out of college, but it felt like eons. I could barely function and only got better when I started temping. It gave me a reason to wake up before 3 pm and reassured me that I wasn’t unemployable, just inexperienced. Good luck with your search, I hope you connect with the right job soon!

      1. Grand Admiral Thrawn Is Still Blue*

        I agree with the temp work. That’s what I’m doing while I’m waiting, going through my own rounds of interviews and no offers. It’s good to be working, getting paid, having a routine even if it’s not the best pay or situation.

    9. Elizabeth West*

      I get it; I’ve been unemployed now for nearly three years. I’ve definitely skunked some interviews or screens because I felt the same damn way. I tried to get a subsistence job and I couldn’t even do that, at least not here.

      What helps me is getting out of the house now and then to do things I enjoy. You could volunteer, if you’re into that; personally, I am not, so I don’t. I like to see films (I’m picky about what I see at the cinema, so it’s not a lot of money). I go do things with friends. I have my Buddhist group every week and I look forward to that. Meditation helps me feel less anxious about it. Even going for a walk on the regular helps.

      I how it feels to think no one will ever hire you again, but that’s unlikely. If your job market is limited like mine is, maybe it’s time to start looking further afield.

    10. Gumby*

      Just want to let you know that the end result still could change. I was unemployed for over 2 years once (close to 3 but broken up with a few months of contract work towards the start), and have been in my current job for over 3 years now. You might hear a lot of no (or nothing – bleeegghhh) but it only takes one yes!

      But yes, it’s hard, and depressing, and sometimes infuriating. I’d second the job support group suggestion. It was hugely helpful for me. Both in “I can talk with people who know what I am going through” terms and in “we said we’d present our elevator pitches tomorrow, I better work on that” accountability.

        1. Gumby*

          There was an organization running a “job search boot camp” that I was fortunate enough to be able to participate in. (JVS in San Francisco – they are *wonderful* and I can not say enough good things about them.)

          But I also found a few other groups that I dropped in on every once in a while. One aimed at “older” workers over 40 (I didn’t qualify age-wise but they didn’t seem to care) that I found out about at a job fair, one put on by a professional organization (local chapter of PMI). I’d even check MeetUp and if no such thing exists consider starting it.

    11. Pommette!*

      No advice from me – just a lot of sympathy. Prolonged unemployment sucks. It’s scary and dispiriting. It’s so hard to get excited, or even mildly enthusiastic, about applications that seem to always go ignored, and interviews that seem never to lead anywhere. And really, once your hopes have been dashed enough time, it feels protective and logical not to get them up again.

      I spent almost year unemployed a few years ago. My current contract will end soon, and none of my searching so far has panned out. I’m pretty sure that it’s going to be another long slog, and I am terrified and discouraged. This time around, I plan to try to muster some enthusiasm by :

      – Not beating myself up over my attitude. I’ll try to stay cheerful, but if I feel discouraged, I at least won’t feel guilty about it.

      – Trying to trick myself into thinking that interviews are a fun thing in and of themselves, and to remind myself that they are a useful experience. I might not think/feel that I’m going to get a job out of a given interview, but I can still go in hoping for a meaningful exchange with people whose work interests me, and who thought enough of me to invite me in.

      – Being proud of good applications and of interviews well-done, and reminding myself that that pride doesn’t have to be contingent on external rewards. I’m going to actively celebrate, and brag about, those successes as such (even if no jobs materialise).

      – Setting up artificial rewards for myself so that I have something to look forward to when I do applications and interviews. For the interviews, I’ll use whatever “special occasion” luxury is too big to afford without a good excuse.

      – Reminding myself that partial successes are still successes. Getting an interview is a sign that you’re doing something right!

      Good luck. Some job markets are really, really tough! It’s taking you a long time to land a job because you’re in a tough market, not because there is anything wrong with you. The phone screens and interviews that you’re getting already show that you are a good candidate. Something will eventually click. I hope that it does so soon.

    12. emmelemm*

      I know “just go volunteer” is a cliched suggestion, but I really think it can be helpful. For one thing, it puts you on a schedule to be accountable to *something*, and depending on what it is, if it’s even remotely related to the field you’re in, it can go on a resume and make it not seem like a giant black hole has appeared in the middle of your life.

      My significant other was unemployed for a looooong time (more than a year and a half), and he eventually did start volunteering, and I really do think that it did lead to him getting a job in the end. Not directly by making a contact (which was a small possibility), but just by being there on his resume and showing that he was doing something. And also, the business that he works for places a really, really high value on engaging with the community and giving back, and maybe the volunteering was just enough to make them stop and focus on him even with the less-than-ideal job history.

    13. Mellow*

      I was in the same boat for a year. It SUCKS.

      Get something, even a part-time retail job as others have suggested. It shows you’re employable, even if not in the same profession for which you are seeking full-time employment.

      And if you can afford to, take a course in something, even if it, too, is unrelated to the job.

      It’ll work out.

      1. YetAnotherUsername*

        Absolutely agree with the “take any job” suggestion. Whenever I’m between “career” type jobs I have always taken non-career jobs. To the extent that I have a separate resume for my retail experience. Also it keeps a bit of money coming in and you can learn some useful skills.

        1. Mellow*

          Yep. My profession, librarianship, is very patron-facing (depending on the role within the library), and, while looking for a professional position, I cashiered 30 hours a week at a well-know retailer. Kept up my bills and my customer service skills, with room to take off a day or two to travel to interviews.

          I also got over my fear of flying in the process. :D

          1. NothingIsLittle*

            Congrats on getting over your fear of flying! It was reception work that got me over my fear of phone calls.

    1. Anonymous Educator*


      Even just searching Twitter for hiring remote and then sorting by recent, instead of “top” tweets.

      1. 8DaysAWeek*

        Just an FYI about Flexjobs. I applied for something there to do on the side, part time. Once I got the role, sent in my W4s, etc I was informed that I needed to use my personal social media accounts to do the job. I couldn’t create new/fake accounts. The job was related to social media and I had just (wrongly) assumed I would be using a company account or create new accounts. I wrote a resignation letter immediately.
        So depending on the role, find out if you need your own equipment, email address, social media account(s), etc.

      1. Lilysparrow*

        It’s kind of a nightmare finding decent pay rates there, though. They really cater to bottom-feeders and cheapskates.

        1. Scout*

          Yeah, they do. If you find the right job though, it’s good. I’ve gotten a few gigs that paid really well.

    2. MHK*

      LinkedIn! Search “job title remote” I have found a lot of openings that have a location listed, but in the summary, it states they can be remote, work from home. THat’s how I recently found my WFH job.

  22. Master Bean Counter*

    Dear recruiter from all the way across the country,
    If you are truly interested in me don’t answer what’s the pay range for this position with, ‘We are flexible what salary are you looking to make?” I’m not into wasting my time. Especially for a move that far that doesn’t put me on the beach.

    1. Easily Amused*

      I live in upstate NY – so upstate that we’re closer to Canada than NYC and yet I get so many LinkedIn messages from recruiters telling me about jobs in Midtown Manhattan or “you can work out of the NJ office”. I want to write back, “please have a look at a map and then let me know if you still think I’m the right candidate for this.” Frustrating.

  23. Notthemomma*

    My (remote) boss called the other day and ‘wanted to give me a heads up’.
    Whelp…expecting something bad, very bad.

    Friends, he told me to take the corporate card and go have a nice dinner with someone- $100 limit!!!!! As an extra appreciation for some special projects I’ve knocked out of the park. Better than the normal ‘recognition’ that gets taxed :-). and of course, I got it in writing too….

    1. Blueberry Smoothie*


      It’s always nice to hear of employers thanking employees for going above and beyond.

    2. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

      Wonderful! We don’t get enough happy stories like this on the open threads! Enjoy!

    3. Adlib*

      That’s so great! Makes me miss my old boss. My current boss is cool, but I’m still new so haven’t gotten to know him very well yet.

    4. A. Schuyler*

      How lovely! I had a similar conversation with my boss many times removed when I was unexpectedly called into his office recently. Now I just need to figure out how best to treat myself (+1).

  24. JennyFair*

    Okay, talk to me about internships.

    I’m 44 and a chem major. I’m midway through my BS, been going part-time for a while and now I’m quitting my job and moving away to finish via an integrated BS/MS program. I’ve heard internships for summer begin opening up in the fall, and kind of feel like I have no idea how to sell myself that far in the future. And also I’m twice as old as everyone else. (But I’m not responsible for anyone but myself, and think it would be fun to take a summer internship in a place I’ve never been before)

    I’m sure there’s other stuff I don’t know, too.

    1. College Career Counselor*

      Depends on the industry and location (assuming you’re in the U.S?). Internships for finance/banking/consulting often start opening up as early as September for the following summer. That is rather less likely for, say, pharmaceutical companies, which might have an early deadline in December and not make offers until February. Or they might not post until January and make offers in late March. What type of internship are you potentially looking for? Bench research in corporate biotech? Overseas university research (google DAAD and research internships in science & engineering or Pasteur Institute summer undergraduate research internship)? You may want to consult your advisor about Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships or Research Experiences for Undergraduates that focus on science, if that’s your thing. Good luck!

      1. JennyFair*

        Thank you! I want to end up in research so I’d like a research related internship. I’ve spent my life next door to a national lab, so that’s kind of what I’m familiar with, to the exclusion of other things.

        1. 8DaysAWeek*

          I work in Pharma and just saw some postings at our company for internships and I thought that was strange because school is starting up. I know we hire extremely early for summer internships, I just didn’t know when. My company provides housing in some cases, so I guess they want to hire quickly so they can get that in order.
          For my company, the internships are posted on our company’s career section of the website just like the other positions.

        2. ChemProf*

          Chemistry professor here! If you want to end up in a research-related job, the best thing you can do is find an opportunity to work in a research lab. Be aware that most research-related jobs require a PhD, although there are some lab technician positions that don’t. (If you do decide to get a PhD, any reputable program will offer you a stipend if they want you to come, so no additional debt there)

          If you have an academic advisor, talk to them when you first get to campus about how undergraduates in your department can get involved in research. Best case, the BS/MS program you’re transferring to has faculty who do research. If they do, there’s probably information on the department website or on their individual websites about what they do. In my current department, undergrads directly email the professors they’re interested in working with, and a lot of undergrads do research 5-10 hours a week during the academic year. In the department where I got my BS, undergrads put their preferences on a list and were assigned to professors by the department. If there aren’t research opportunities on campus, your department may have connections to REU programs elsewhere.

          Being an older student shouldn’t put you at a disadvantage if you show that (1) you’re willing to learn, even from people younger than you, (2) you have a strong work ethic, and (3) you can articulate why you’re interested in research (and why specifically with the professors you’re talking to).

          One other question… are you interested in research as a default or because you’re interested in learning how to approach difficult, complicated problems that may take months or years to solve? Research can be very rewarding if it’s the right fit for you, but it’s definitely not right for everyone. There are a lot of non-research chemistry careers, and research shouldn’t be the default for most people.

          1. Hamburke*

            I was going to say look for summer research internships within the college! It’s what I did! That was probably my favorite summer! I wasn’t directly a part of the program hosted at my college but I spent the summer converting the highly technical instrumentation instruction manuals into usable documents and prepping and running spectra for the research students and a professor who was publishing a textbook – nmr, mass-spec, gc, uv-vis. I was given room & board and research class credit and I TA’ed the summer lab classes on the side for cash.

            There was a 30-something in the program and it was lovely to have her!

        3. StillAChemist*

          Not sure if you’re still checking this since I’m getting to it so late, but the national labs do internships fall/spring/summer with the summer deadlines being after the beginning of the new year. As far as I know most REUs at universities have similar deadlines.

    2. AnotherLibrarian*

      I have supervised interns that range from 20s up to 60s. The difference between the good older interns and the problematic older interns has been that some of my older interns have believed that because they have been highly ranked in their field they think they know how things work in my field. They are usually wrong. So, I would say when you go to interview, be extra aware of that. And good luck!

    3. Person of Interest*

      I too was a 40-something intern when I was working on a masters degree; it was honestly a great experience and a chance to flex some of my other work skills that were appreciated by the organization – I got to take on more responsibility/projects that they probably would not have given to a college-aged intern. I think this made me much more competitive for a job offer at the end of my internship (I got an offer but ended up with a better offer from another org). So I say go for it, and try to go for a place that you ultimately might like to work long-term because you’ll have a great shot at it! Start applying during the semester before you want to intern.

    4. YuliaC*

      Might be also worth it to see if any of the faculty need student research assistants for the summer. I was also 40-ish in a biology BS, and had no success getting into internships (I think because of my non-standard age). But I had a summer assistant job with on of my profs, which was easy to get because the prof knew that I was a very good worker. That summer job helped enormously with eventually finding my current research job.

    5. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      Are you interested in academic research or just industry research? I was in the sciences, but not chemistry, so this may not apply: Talk to professors with labs in your school. They often are hiring students to do work in the lab, which can often lead into your own project.

  25. DC*

    So, I leave my current job in 4 days for a much better one. Yay!

    However, in transitioning out, they have decided to severely downgrade my role when I transition out. I’m also struggling with our assistant actually completing tasks and job duties so I can complete certain close out items.

    I think the downgrade is a negative step backwards for the organization, and will prevent future growth. I also don’t foresee this assistant doing well in the interim. (I’d brought up my issues with their work in the past, as it’s a pattern, and nothing was done.)

    Do I care? Do I tell the org what I foresee, and that I disagree with their choices? I wasn’t consulted on any of it. Or do I just let it go because it’s no longer my circus or my monkeys?

    1. Regular commenter*

      Not your circus.

      Doesn’t it make ya wonder though, “What did I bust my butt for when I was here?”

      Think about all the stuff you learned at this job and realize, YOU get to keep that part. You get to keep the part that you grew while working there. We don’t have to be altruistic all the time, we can choose to celebrate our own gains.

      1. DC*

        Yes! 100%! When I came in, there was nothing, and I built this piece of their business that they are now well known for around town solo. To have it downgraded when I’ve left plans for how to continue to grow just makes me wonder why they hired me, and why I put in so much effort.

        Thank you :) Gonna write that last bit down and keep it with me.

    2. Matilda Jefferies*

      Yeah, for better or for worse, it’s no longer your circus. Especially since you’ve brought up problems in the past and been ignored, it doesn’t sound like things would be any different this time. The one thing you might do, if you’re feeling kind, is give the assistant a heads up about the challenges you anticipate for them. But again, only if you feel like it, and only if you feel like it would help them in their new role. If neither of those things is true, then you can head off to your new job with a clean conscience. Good luck!

      1. DC*

        Thank you! I’ve given them as much a heads up as I can, and I’m leaving the next month of duties mapped out step by step- there’s not much else I can do.

        I appreciate the validation to walk away!

    3. ProbablyNotASandwich*

      There is nothing you can do here – if they’d wanted your opinion, they’d have asked for it (and plenty of good organisations do ask for leaver’s input on their succession). So: not your circus, nor your monkeys.

    4. Ama*

      I think you can mention it once in the context of “I have concerns that downgrading this role is going to make it harder for my successor to get their work done effectively,” but leave the assistant out of it (not your problem any more) and if they don’t seem interested, don’t push.

      When I left my last job, my boss knew part of the reason was that my reception work had ballooned as our office had grown from 15 people to 75 and I had too many other things on my plate to go with it. So their big plan was to bring in a half time receptionist, meaning my role would still have to cover reception half of the time. I told them I thought there was more than enough reception work for a full time receptionist, but they didn’t want to hear it so I let it drop.

  26. Regular commenter*

    A question about law books.

    So we get annual supplements to our hard cover law books. The pages of the supplements are “stitched together” but there is no cover at all, no soft cover and no hard cover on the supplements. You are supposed to put them in the hard cover book related to that section of law. A supplement for criminal law would go in the criminal law book, for example.

    Well, you can see where this is going. After a couple years you cannot put more supplements into the hard cover book with out ruining the binding or worse. As it stands now, the supplements are loose on the shelf, running amok unorganized and getting ruined.

    The vendor providing the supplements does not seem to offer an alternative forms of storage/organization for the supplements.

    Does anyone have any ideas/recommended products/first hand experience with how to rope in these free-ranging supplements?

    Thanks in advance.

      1. valentine*

        Ask your local library for advice.

        I don’t suppose a folder box (one sloped edge, top or side entry) per book/supplements is practical.

        1. kittymommy*

          When I worked for attorneys this is what we would do. The biggest hurdle was making sure they got put back in the right order (or even the right box)!

    1. Anonariffic*

      Not sure if law books and supplements are a strange size, but what about those magazine files/holders that are like partially open boxes? You can label them by date and type of law.

        1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          This is a great time of year to find magazine boxes because of back-to-school (assuming you are in the USA). I think I’ve even seen them at the dollar store as a seasonal item.

          Depending on how thick your supplements are, you could also use the magazine holders for 3-ring binders (they have 3 holes and then a long slot for you to thread a magazine or piece of sheet music through without hole punching it) and keep each set in a 3 ring binder. This would be better for keeping them in order (since if you keep them in one of those magazine boxes people may just put them back in the box without putting them in the right place in order within the box) but more cumbersome if people usually only need to look at one supplement rather than the set of related supplements. This would be more expensive than the magazine boxes but cheaper than having them bound into actual hardcover books (I assume – I’ve never had anything bound).

      1. Person of Interest*

        Second the cardboard magazine files solution – this is what I’ve always done for wrangling journals and supplements and such. They are super cheap and easy to label.

    2. Art3mis*

      Are you sure everything is meant to stay together? I used to have to manage similar books and every shipment was an update, you removed some pages and put in the replacements. It was annoying, I thought an online form would be more efficient.

      1. Regular commenter*

        Yep the pages are meant to stay together, they are sewn together like you would expect a bound book to be sewn together.

        We have the other type of system also. Where the pages are in a binder and you get sent replacement pages each year. So you replace random pages, such as pages, 10, 93, 204 etc. These pages have holes punched so they can go directly into their binder.

        The problem child, is a bound book with pockets in the back. But it’s so easy to fill the pockets. It only take about 2-3 years and the pockets are fill.

    3. Natalie*

      If you can throw a little money at the problem, maybe a custom binder could pull them apart and rebind them as two volumes for you.

      1. Regular commenter*

        See, this is what I thought. But Boss wants to keep everything. sigh. It’s a good thing she is a cool boss, it makes me willing to write into blogs on my day off and find advice for us. ;)

        1. Another JD*

          I’d advise against keeping the previous pocket parts. It’s too easy to grab the wrong one. Plus the instructions for updating the set specifically say the new pocket parts replace the old ones.

          But if she insists, alligator clip the top and bottom of the old pocket parts to hold them together and put them on the shelf after the correct volume.

          1. LadyByTheLake*

            I agree with Another JD — Make sure to write “OBSOLETE” on the cover of the old ones and put them somewhere else but not in the book.

        2. Bagpuss*

          Keep the current ones in the binder. If Boss wants you to retain the old ones, can you just put them into a box and put it into archiving listed as “Goldfish Law Supplements 2007-2008” . That way, you’re keeping them as your boss requires, but the one you are actually likely to need are available.
          If Boss won’t let you archive them, then a labelled box is the next best option.

        3. Joielle*

          Yeah, I’m pretty sure it even explains that somewhere (I think on a little card in the package? I haven’t unpacked supplements for a while but I remember having instructions on what parts to throw out)