coworker tags our CEO on Twitter to point out my mistakes, office baby talk, and more

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

1. Coworker tags our CEO on Twitter to point out my mistakes

I’m part of an incredibly progressive, supportive team, where one of my responsibilities is my organization’s social media. In six months, I have made three errors within tweets, two of which were mixing up the dates that two very similar events were happening on, and one of which was just a formatting error.

One coworker from a different department — who does not work with social media in any capacity — replies to the errors from her personal Twitter, tagging in our CEO’s personal Twitter to shout about the mistakes. She then emails a screen grab to my entire team (the person I manage, my manager, and my grandboss) demanding that my grandboss check all of my social media communications before they are posted, which would be ridiculous.

Obviously in an ideal world I would not be making any errors on social media. But three tweets in six months does not seem like a bad hit rate (also, our social tone is playful and conversational, and usually quite informal). Should I ask my manager to ask this woman to lay off me? Or do it myself?

That’s incredibly obnoxious. Ideally your manager would have already seen this and told her to cut it out, but since that doesn’t happen, it’s reasonable for you to say, “Jane, if you spot any errors in our tweets, please bring it to my attention directly and I’ll get it fixed. Commenting about it on Twitter brings more attention to it to people outside our organization, which reflects badly on us.”

That said … while your coworker is in the wrong in how she’s handling this, three errors in tweets in six months does strike me as a lot for public communications (especially for dates of events). If your coworker is involved in marketing or events or anything else that your social media work supports, she’s right to be concerned. I’d hold off on bringing your boss into this and instead focus on figuring out a system to catch errors before anything gets posted.

2. My coworker talks like a toddler

I work as an admin in a pretty small company, and I’m one of the youngest people in my office. Some of my coworkers have kids my age. One of my coworkers, “Linda,” is an older woman and has been here for a long time. She is a nice enough person and a decent worker. My problem with her is she constantly uses what I would call childish language.

For example, instead of saying, “I think we mixed up the dates on last month’s reports,” she’ll say “I think we made an uh-oh on last month’s reports.” And instead of saying, “I cut my finger on a stapler,” she’ll say “I got a boo boo on my finger.” A lot of the time, when she is taking a break to use the restroom, she’ll say she’s going to “make a tinkle” or “go potty.” And so on and so on. She talks like this constantly and, as far as I can tell, it’s not directed at any one person. It seems to be just how she is no matter who she’s talking to.

On one hand, this is the kind of thing I feel like I should just let go. One the other hand, I cringe when we’re in a meeting and she talks this way in front of clients or our bosses. We work in a very distinguished field (think like legal or medical) so coming off as professional is very important.

Although none of the bosses have said anything to Linda to my knowledge, I do worry that she makes us look a little unprofessional sometimes, particularly when we’re around clients. I’d like to say something myself to her, as we have a good working relationship, but I’m not sure how to say, “Can you please talk like an adult?” Should I say anything to her and, if so, how do I phrase it?

While this sounds incredibly off-putting, it’s not yours to fix! If you were her boss, you should absolutely say something. If you were her peer and she was talking to your clients that way, you’d have standing to address it. The people who have standing in this situation to address it have inexplicably chosen not to, and as the admin, it’s just not yours to handle.

Since you don’t have standing to address it, I’d say sit back and enjoy the entertainment of having a colleague who talks like a toddler and an office full of coworkers straight out of the Emperor’s New Clothes. (That doesn’t mean that you can’t call it out when it happens in a one-on-one conversation with you, though. There’s no reason you can’t say dryly, “I think you mean a mistake” when she refers to an “uh-oh” or so forth.)

3. Our annual evaluations want to rate our “boldness”

I’ve worked for company for five years. Each year they change the annual evaluation procedure, usually adding questions about goals we never set or new objectives or values we’ve never discussed before. Here are some of the ways I’ve been asked to evaluate myself this year:

“You stand tall in the face of adversity, are willing to voice an opinion and are firm in upholding company values. Rate how you have achieved your accomplishments by being bold.”

The other questions ask me to rate how I achieved my accomplishments by being innovative, collaborative, ethical, and disciplined. While none of these are bad goals, how am I supposed to describe the same accomplishments over and over from these different goal posts?

But “bold”? What does this even mean?! I’ve asked our HR rep, who kinda shrugged and said just go with it. What sort of response are they expecting? How on earth is this supposed to determine my value to the company? Are these sort of inane questions worth anything to anyone?

Is “boldness” by chance one of your company’s professed core values? It’s not uncommon for companies to assess people on how they match up with the company’s values — but “bold” is one that really needs more definition and discussion. And if the values are all like the ones you named, I’d rather see broader instructions like “in discussing your achievements, feel free to highlight ways in which you’ve especially lived our values of XYZ.” And really, evaluations should be primarily focused on the extent to which you achieved you goals. If you were unethical, undisciplined, or too cautious in pursuing them, we’re going to talk about that, but there’s not a ton of pay-off in forcing everyone to write about how ethics or discipline or boldness helped them hit their targets. (And the fact that your HR person didn’t have a real answer for you is evidence of that.)

In any case, you don’t need to use different accomplishments for each of these questions. You can use the same accomplishments and talk about different aspects of them (for example, if you’re talking about project X, you can talk about the specific ways you collaborated on it in response to the question about collaboration, the discipline you brought to it in response to the question about discipline, and so forth). Don’t use a single accomplishment for everything, but it’s okay if your answers overlap.

4. Coworker leaves other colleagues out of the loop — and looks biased

I’m a few months out of college and on a software development team. A few weeks ago, my team brought in a senior designer, John. The problem is that John keeps leaving people out of meeting invites, thank-yous, and code reviews, and the people he leaves out are coincidentally the minority members of our team. (John thanked a coworker who was out for a week instead of the female lead, who put a lot of time into reviewing his work.)

Anyway, we don’t have a traditional kind of manager, just a project manager who handles assigning work. Right now, I’ve been adding forgotten team members with “hey, looks like you forgot X, so I added them.” Is there anything else I can do? If it’s relevant, John and I are remote, most of the team is in the same office, and I look like a white dude.

What you’re doing is great. Keep doing that.

If you weren’t just a few months out of college and John weren’t in a senior role, I’d say to also call it out more explicitly — as in, “I’ve noticed you keep leaving women and people of color out of your meeting invites, thank-you’s, and code reviews. I’ve been trying to add them in where I spot it, but I’m sure you don’t mean to be doing that so I wanted to flag it for you.” And frankly, you might able to say that now, but given the likely disparity in power and influence, you’d want to adapt based on what you know of the politics in your workplace and your dynamic with John.

You could also flag it for your project manager and ask them to keep an eye out for it.

{ 722 comments… read them below }

  1. Sam*

    Three errors in six months could be a high error rate – or it could be low, if it’s a company tweeting a moderate volume of tweets. Without knowing how many tweets are going out, it’s hard to say if that is, in fact, high.

    I never want to write ‘tweet’ again.

    Also, does your coworker do the same to other employees, if they’re doing the same work as you? Of course, if you are making more errors than other people who are also doing the same thing, that answers my first paragraph. But if other people are making errors, and she’s targeting you specifically, that seems worrying, at the very least.

    1. many bells down*

      Yeah I think the overall volume of tweets is the missing context. Do they tweet daily, weekly, every couple weeks?

      Still, there’s definitely a better way to handle the errors than what #1s coworker is doing.

      1. MommyMD*

        Coworker is so out of line. It’s never correct to just publicly call someone out on a mistake. Without addressing it with them. And it makes the company look incompetent.

        1. Tinuviel*

          Yes, coworker is trying to make herself look good at the cost of the company image. Regardless of how many mistakes OP makes (though I am concerned), you don’t air out your dirty laundry like this. It’s vindictive and selfish and disrespectful of the company and OP.

          1. Hills to Die on*

            She’s definitely making both of you look bad. If I were the CEO, I’d make sure she never moved up in that company.

          2. smoke tree*

            She also seems to be choosing to spend her personal time reviewing a coworker’s social media posts, given that she’s using a personal account? I’m not sure why she’s so weirdly invested in this.

            1. Emily K*

              Without disputing that this coworker is a huge jerk, it’s not really that surprising that if she’s active on Twitter she’d follow her employer’s Twitter, which means the posts are coming up in her feed without her having to go out of her way to see them. I follow my employer’s official brand account and make a point of retweeting a selection of the content to help boost reach.

              1. DorothySpornak*

                Coworker is a huge jerk, but from running my own company’s social media I have found that almost no one realizes an actual person is behind the account, even people who know, in theory, that I’m the social person.

                I can see someone thinking that this is a mistake that “someone in marketing” should know about, and mass-emailing everyone. Since they’ve been doing this since the first mistake, I think this person is out of line.

                However, also, 3 mistakes in 6 months does sound like a lot, especially when it is dates of events. It’s hard to correct information once it is out there. It wouldn’t hurt to create a review process, or set up a system where you draft posts the day before they go out, so you can get a break and review with fresh eyes.

                1. Nobby Nobbs*

                  And in a different font, or read backwards word-by-word. That sort of thing can trick your brain into noticing mistakes where it would normally fill in the blanks for you.

        2. Falling Diphthong*

          Yeah, someone should have told her boss to address any problems in a private communication, not publicly. If they’re failing to do so, I imagine it’s more in the sense “This silliness again” than “Thank heavens Greta is on top of these things, in the most public format possible.” Greta is following in the footsteps of Guacamole Bob.

        3. Jax*

          Oh that’s not necessarily true. My employer has a branded twitter account and I assure you, three errors in six months about times/dates/places of our *conferences or events* would indeed be … alarming. (Also, if details this important to the company are incorrect, probably a lot more going out on the official company twitter is … too sloppy or flat-out wrong too, even if the tone is super-casual.)

          1. Le Sigh*

            Even so, the coworker shouldn’t be addressing it like this. It draws more attention to the incorrect tweet and I could see a world in which it then creates confusion (if there are different tweets out with different dates, and you’re now spreading the wrong info). If I followed that account, I’d wonder what was up–it kind of looks petty and weird to an outsider to handle it like that.

            It’s also not a very professional way to handle it. Incorrect dates can be a huge issue — so go up the right internal channels to get it dealt with ASAP and treat it like the problem it is. If it’s a chronic issue and/or the person handling the account isn’t addressing it, go above them to get it addressed.

          2. Kaaaaaren*

            Mistakes happen — people are human and I’m sure the OP #1’s coworker has made more than 3 small mistakes in her job in the past 6 months, but had the benefit of not having that mistake broadcast on the internet. Tweets can always be deleted; it’s not like they printed programs with the wrong dates or booked the venues for the wrong dates or something else “permanent.” If the coworker was actually interested in helping — rather than calling out OP #1 in the hopes, I think, that she will get in trouble for her mistakes — she’d email or call the OP directly to say there is a mistake so the OP can go in and delete/post a correction ASAP. Instead, she’s tagging the CEO, replying to the tweet, taking screenshots, emailing multiple people, etc. It’s about wanting to get the OP in trouble, not about ensuring accuracy or anything noble.

            1. AKchic*

              Exactly. To me, this all smacks of “Looky, looky, OP1 can’t do her job right, but I, someone who wasn’t chosen to DO this job, CAN. Let me show you all how great I am at this by highlighting these mistakes!”

              Instead of being helpful, this coworker is making sure everyone else knows about the failures. This isn’t someone who is quietly letting someone know there’s lipstick in someone’s teeth, they are shouting “hey look – Judy has lipstick in her teeth, let’s all point and laugh!”
              This is someone that needs to be shut down and shut down hard. Should have been shut down already. She needs to be told to stop. If she doesn’t stop, perhaps blocking her personal account from seeing the company profile? I dunno, I’m petty like that.

              1. pancakes*

                I agree, and I think it’s weird higher-ups haven’t tried to stop the coworker from doing this.

                I was in a somewhat similar scenario once, with a coworker at my same level who disliked me trying to get me in trouble with our supervisor by bcc’ing him about a very minor mistake in an internal document — I saved it to the wrong folder on a shared drive, immediately moved it when I realized my mistake, and in calling it out she made it sound like this was something I did often. She forgot his out-of-office auto replies were on and recalled the message as soon as she realized I’d received the auto reply too, but not before I forwarded a copy to my personal address. There were other unsettling things she said and did to me that made me feel uncomfortable about working with her on group projects—I did end up using that forwarded message to avoid being put on small team with her later—and it all might’ve been nipped in the bud if the people she tried to rope in discouraged her behavior. They were all men and I got the sense they thought it normal for women to have weird interpersonal conflicts and didn’t want to get involved in any way, even if only to tell her to knock it off. I no longer work there and am very happy about that.

          3. Wintermute*

            It also depends on the volume of your events, and the impact, the size of your company and the expected audience for the tweets, it also depends how obviously wrong you were and how quickly the error was corrected. Obviously the ideal situation is a medium company with a lot of events of which this was a minor, niche thing for a single medium city which is expected to draw a few hundred people most of whom know about it already and this is just a reminder, the error was one where nobody would be seriously confused by it and they’d just chuckle (accidentally saying the event was in the past, is on the 7th day of the 14th month rather than July 14th, says Saturday in the text but the date is actually for tuesday when the event is obviously a weekend event, etc) and the error is cleaned up quickly.

            Worst case scenario is the company tweets sparingly, is focused on throwing a few events a year as their business, is tweeting to a large national audience that will be travelling for the event, and the error is a subtle one that’s not caught for some time (wrong weekend of the right month).

            It also depends how much of the LWs job is social media. If it’s one tiny part that not much emphasis is put on, that’s more forgivable than if it’s their primary work product. In a best-case-scenario kind of thing I would still be concerned about our polish and appearance but could reasonably chalk it up to “we don’t put the resources in to have a really polished, active corporate feed, this is a symptom of our priorities”. The worst-case-type scenario I would expect the first error could threaten someone’s job because that kind of error should be a “never event” that we have policy set up to prevent.

            It also depends how many people are signing off on these things. One company I worked at a serious error was made in a brochure that went out. This brochure was generated by marketing, reviewed by the brand team and legal, floated internally among the marketing team, and signed off on by three levels of leadership. At that point it wasn’t one poor guy’s fault, a dozen people screwed up and not one of them could really be held responsible because of the reasonble defense “yes, I missed this error, so did [list of a dozen people and teams]”.

        4. JSPA*

          Playing devil’s advocate, we don’t know that the coworker didn’t try a more private option first (though a tweetback is so easy, money’s on them not having done so) and neither (presumably) does OP.

          Additionally, the risk of the org looking bad due to calling out wrong info in a tweet, vs the risk of the org looking bad because a) the correction needs to be sent out, regardless plus b) people may miss the second tweet and show up for an event on the wrong day…not sure which one’s worse.

          I know I’d write off working with an org if a mistaken tweet was not rectified emphatically and quickly, resulting in my showing up for the wrong event or on the wrong day.

          I worry that OP may conflate a “light tone” with “light” requirements for being scrupulously correct. Those two things are oh so very different! The one’s a rare and admirable skill, the other’s a problematic lack of professionalism.

          1. a1*

            I was just coming here to say pretty much this. Correcting in a reply to the tweet is smart so their clients/customers, or potential clients/customers, know the right date and location.

            1. Emily K*

              I wouldn’t want to rely on clients/customers clicking on a tweet to open up the replies and hope the one with the correction is near the top, and hope the clients/customers put any weight on a reply from a random personal twitter account that may not be clearly identified as an employee of the same company. The correction should be another tweet from the brand account that acknowledges the previously incorrect tweet. “Oops! Our earlier tweet about Widgets and Brackets Con gave the incorrect date. WBC will be held September 19-21.” or “CORRECTION: Widgets and Brackets Con will be held September 19-21. Please disregard our earlier tweet which contained incorrect info.” etc

              1. TootsNYC*

                yes!

                The thing to do is to immediately alert the OP so they can fix the original tweet AND send out a correction on the company’s own account.

              2. a1*

                You don’t have to click it to “open” replies on twitter, you just see them in the feed.
                A reply of “the date is actually X” works. Deleting the tweet does me no good after I’ve seen it. I’ve seen it and noted the date/time on my calendar or elsewhere. Even putting out another tweet with the correct date on it can be missed then. I’ll think it’s the tweet about the even that I’ve already seen it and just scroll past it.

                The problematic part is tagging the CEO to alert them of the error, and not contacting the OP directly/first.

                1. Emily K*

                  Maybe you’re using an app that I’m not familiar with. When I go to Twitter.com and my feed loads, I can only see the tweets themselves, with icons showing a count of how many comments, retweets, and replies each has gotten. I have to click on one of the tweets to see to see the comments – and then once viewing that thread, I can see that many of the replies also have replies, and click on one of those to open that reply’s associated thread.

                  Fair enough your point that a new tweet might not be seen, but a reply to a prior tweet isn’t any more visible than a new one – in some contexts it’s less visible, e.g. on the person’s own page where “Tweets” is the default tab and “Tweets & Replies” has to be toggled if you want to see where they’ve replied to other people. Either you’ve seen the tweet already and are no more likely to see a reply to a tweet you’ve already read or a new tweet that replaces it (which is in fact why I recommended something like “Oops!” or “CORRECTION:” at the front to call extra attention to it, precisely so that someone won’t think “I’ve already read this information”) and the damage is done, or you haven’t seen the tweet yet and deleting it and posting a correct one averts any misunderstanding.

              3. pancakes*

                +1

                I go to events I’ve learned about on Twitter fairly often—art openings, readings, that sort of thing—and I wouldn’t rely on a random personal account replying with “actually, the correct date is…”

            2. Eukomos*

              I don’t think that really helps, you need to let the person in charge of the account ASAP so they can delete the incorrect tweet and post the right info. People are scrolling through their feed, not stopping and clicking on every tweet, and the incorrect info needs to come down as quickly as possible.

            3. The Rules are Made Up*

              There’s nothing professional about using your personal twitter account to tag the ceo of your company to point out a coworkers mistake. If she really tried to tell her (which it doesn’t look like she did and OP made no indication that was the case) even direct messaging her wouldn’t be as unnecessarily aggressive as this. This isn’t the way social media errors should be handled.

              1. JoJo*

                Well, unless the CEO has asked for exactly this. Which, if the coworker is in marketing or events, might well be the case and why the coworker is anal about catching these mistakes.

                (Also, every account, even branded company accounts or blue check certified accounts of journalists, for example, are personal twitter accounts, I don’t even know why OP mentions it except to convey that she’s posting behind the company logo while the coworker tweets are not behind the company branded official account.)

                1. KinderTeacher*

                  I think some people have a personal twitter and a professional twitter. Academia would be an example that pops to mind where it isn’t uncommon for someone to have a twitter account for themselves as Dr. Bilbo Baggins where they tweet about conferences and journal articles and whatnot and a twitter account for themselves as Bill Baggins where they tweet about cats and 30-50 feral hogs and such. So I think LW’s point is that it isn’t a twitter account that is like Janet Smith with a twitter bio that says Director of Sugar Cubes at Teapots Inc tweeting at the CEO of Teapots Inc about a tweet from the Teapots Inc account, its some random lady named Janet with a twitter bio about watching cricket doing so.

          2. MommyMD*

            True. Maybe coworker has tried a different route and at wits end. Nevertheless flagging it on Twitter makes everyone look bad. I also think OP is downgrading it. If you have two events that sound alike, you triple check your info.

            1. Observer*

              Maybe the CW did, but it doesn’t sound like it to me. I mean no matter how much you want to tear your hair out, seriously suggesting that the grandboss vet all tweets is just a ridiculous situation, as is the whole list of people she is emailing.

              I thinks it’s useful for the OP to realize that they need to deal with the mistakes. But that does NOT excuse the coworker’s shenanigans. Adults are supposed to be able handle legitimate frustrations appropriately. This is NOT.

          3. TootsNYC*

            Playing devil’s advocate, we don’t know that the coworker didn’t try a more private option first (though a tweetback is so easy, money’s on them not having done so) and neither (presumably) does OP.

            If this had happened, and that had gotten back to the OP, the OP would have included it in her account. Because it would be highly relevant.

            We should give them the benefit of the doubt and not make stuff up.

            1. JSPA*

              I meant coworker could have, say, emailed OP’s boss. Or left voice mail. Or something else less public (though not as direct as contacting OP directly, by whatever mechanism). We know one set of things coworker isn’t doing, but we don’t know everything else coworker may have tried.

              1. pancakes*

                If the coworker did indeed email or leave messages for the CEO and didn’t get the response he or she was hoping to get, it doesn’t follow that public escalation is an appropriate or desirable response. If the CEO did decide to take disciplinary action against the letter writer or implement a new proofreading process, that’s not something the coworker would be entitled to be kept in the loop on.

                1. JSPA*

                  Not saying the coworker is right! Just saying that, formally, neither OP nor we necessarily know (yet) if any other action was taken / whether this was the first action / whether in fact coworker might have been told to do this (not necessarily by the right “someone,” but by some “someone.”) OP does not say, “I’ve asked around and asked the coworker, and it’s clear coworker is doing only this, and doing this only on their own initiative.” If OP goes in, guns blazing, and it turns out that the coworker was told to do this by a project head, or someone outside OP’s chain of command but comparable in level to OP’s boss, things could go funky–bad funky, not good funky–fast.

    2. Mike C.*

      Even if the error rate is “high”, publicly embarrassing someone on twitter and tagging the CEO of their employer isn’t appropriate and neither are the random demands on her team.

      And let’s be honest, the coworker is just trying to get the LW in trouble. If the coworker cares about improving things, there are formal and informal ways of looking into the issue and so on. Yet for some strange reason, this isn’t happening…

      1. Observer*

        The two things are not mutually exclusive. The coworker is an idiot, to be kind. But the OP has a bit of an issue as well. Which is why it’s better if they don’t pull their manager in at this point.

        1. Tallulah in the Sky*

          I think you could pull the manager in, if you own your mistakes and don’t downplay them :

          “I’d like to talk about some incidents that have happened in the past month. I have made a couple of mistakes in our social media communications recently. I’d like you to know that I’m taking this seriously and taking steps so that this doesn’t happen again. However, when I made a mistake, Coworker reacted to it in a weird way. They replied to the posts and tagged the CEO’s personal twitter account and send an e-mail to several colleagues and higher-ups about this. If I ever make a mistake again, of course I want to know about it, but…” (That’s all the script-writing I have in me, but I think you get the idea)

          So yeah, I wouldn’t go to the manager with OP’s current attitude towards the mistakes they made. But if they do take them seriously, I don’t see why not.

          However, I would first go to Coworker, and only go to the manager if they react weirdly or aggressively. Or if they display the same behavior next time OP makes a mistake (which I hope is in quite a while…).

          1. Hills to Die on*

            And the odds of the coworker being weird or passive-aggressive during this discussion are pretty high.

        2. Mike C.*

          “Trying to get the LW in trouble” and “Trying to improve processes” are almost always mutual exclusive in practice.

      2. Electric Sheep*

        Yeah, even aside from everything else it’s not good social media management to deliberately put negative content publicly up there. Manage it in house!

      3. Mookie*

        They’re compounding the error, making everyone look foolish and like there’s no established protocol in place to report errors, omissions, outdated information, and information not cleared for publishing in their media materials. You don’t do this in front of ‘civilians’ and then brag about it to Biggest Boss. Tacky, tone-deaf, and unprofessional.

        1. Antilles*

          You don’t do this in front of ‘civilians’ and then brag about it to Biggest Boss.
          Especially with the way Twitter works – tagging the CEO means it can show up to people who are just following/searching for his tweets and replies, making the message go much further.
          Also, by retweeting the intentionally wrong date (even with a snarky “well, actually, Jane meant…” correction), you create the opportunity for someone just skimming the tweets to get the wrong date stuck in their head.

        2. The Rules are Made Up*

          Soooooo tacky. I actually can’t get over how tacky this is. This is social media 101. If there’s a mistake on a brand’s page the LAST thing you’d ever do would be to go “HEY EVERYONE LOOK AT THIS MISTAKE. CEO DID YOU SEE THIS MISTAKE????” There is no scenario where that would be the best solution.

      4. Aggretsuko*

        Yeah, been there with someone trying to get me fired. OP is gonna need to be impeccable in the future because s/he’s giving that person ammunition to be used against them.

      5. JSPA*

        Sure. Two wrongs don’t make a right, and all that. But that phrase works both ways. There’s no gloriously professional high ground visible here (boss included). Seems to me that it’s pretty common for one (repeated) wrong to trigger an expanding chain – reaction of bad choices. It takes someone excellent to get in front of the cascade and shut it down. It only takes reasonable care to not trigger the process in the first place.

    3. Zombie Unicorn*

      Do you work in comms? Because I have to say I agree with Alison – it’s far from ideal to be getting dates wrong, and I’m not sure how debating this particular point is helpful to the LW.

      Isn’t it a bit late to hold off on bringing the boss in, given the screen grabs went to all of them? I feel like we are missing part of the story here – did your manager not say anything after these emails went round?

      1. Allypopx*

        I also agree with Alison. The formatting error, eh. But two wrong dates in six months is a pretty big deal.

        1. Zillah*

          It seems like the two wrong dates weren’t isolated mistakes, though – it sounds like the OP mixed two events up, which is really more one mistake.

    4. Krickets*

      And also depending on the number of followers on social media — how huge is the following on the platform you made a mistake on, etc etc…

      I honestly would not take it as a huge deal (having worked in social) because it’s inevitable that people make mistakes; with that said, it’s important to be able to proof and catch errors before letting it go live. I’m sure OP#1 understands and will take it in better strides to avoid mistakes moving forward.

      It does seem like overkill that the coworker is tagging and emailing a lot of people about it, though.

      1. Artemesia*

        I’m having trouble imagining how someone whose job it is to push stuff on Social Media to get dates wrong on events. Once would be a major mistake. Several times would be PIP time. Typos? Not a huge deal. Dates wrong? How do you even do that if you are paying attention. And yes, it is odd that the CEO would not have stomped on the tattling employee the first time it happened. But the OP is on squishy ground here.

        1. Yorick*

          It sounds like they had 2 events close to each other in time, and she put 9/12 on one tweet and 9/13 on the other and they were mixed up. So one big mistake accounts for both of the date errors. That’s not good, but it can be fixed, and it’s unlikely to happen again.

          1. Observer*

            Unlikely if the OP takes this very, very seriously. And that’s why I do think that bringing it up is actionable. The OP has a genuine problem here, and their ability to effectively deal with the idiot CW is going to depend in their ability to convince people that they’ve actually gotten the problem under control.

        2. Emily K*

          One of the issues is that social media has historically been an understaffed function and continues to be that way in a lot of companies. When social media was new, a lot of companies just hired a college student to run all their social media accounts because “the youths understand this thing.” Over time as workers have developed skill and social media has become more complex, companies have seen more of a need to hire workers with experience and to have a social media strategy, but they’re still reluctant to hire additional people to work on social media. A lot of social media managers are running accounts on multiple platforms with no backup and nobody to proofread their content. It’s a horrible practice and yet I have seen that exact situation at many large and reputable companies who have two dozen employees in their print division and a dozen employees running the website and just one person on social media.

          Companies that want to skimp on labor costs have a tendency to wait until there are Big Problems and/or multiple people quit from burnout before they grudgingly accept that they need to hire more people, so the newest technologies tend to be the most understaffed, because they started out as the company finally accepting that they needed a dedicated social media person instead of letting the interns do it in their spare time, and each additional hire is like pulling teeth to get approved.

        3. Zillah*

          I’m really confused by this comment – people make mistakes on things they’re in charge of all the time. I once made a mistake in a formula that ended up erroneously picking up two tags rather than just one. Then I fixed it. It wasn’t that I wasn’t paying attention – it was that along with everything else I was doing, that one tag slipped through because of a spelling issue. It feels really overblown and patronizing to suggest that someone isn’t paying attention because they made one mistake with dates. (It sounds like they flipped dates, not like they were unrelated events.)

    5. MistOrMister*

      I’m not trying to be mean, but I wonder how seriously OP takes making mistakes. Because the letter seems to blow his/hers off as if they don’t matter. And while I could see the formatting one possibly being minor and really no one caring, I question that they aren’t concerned over publicly posting the wrong dates for events more than once. I agree with Alison that OP needs to be more vigilant about their accuracy.

      That being said, the coworkers response does seem to be completely over the top. It seems like every workplace has that one person who wants to notify the entire office whenever they find a mistake!! I don’t understand why they approach the person who did the work the first time and only loop in a boss if that person isn’t receptive, or if they continue making errors. Also, why are they including OP’s direct report?

      1. Colette*

        Yeah, the multiple wrong dates seem like a big deal to me – those should have been caught. If it were minor typos or formatting errors, I’d agree the coworker had no reason to be concerned.

        (Having said that, she’s not dealing with her concern properly – she should be directly talking to the OP or her manager.)

        1. Approval is optional*

          Two is not multiple. And given we don’t know what the tweets were or how easy it was to rectify the mistakes ( etc), we have no way of knowing how big a deal the mistakes were, so it would perhaps be better if we didn’t accuse the LW of blowing things off.
          And even if they were a big deal, she didn’t write in asking for strategies to help her make fewer, or no, mistakes, or asking how important Alison though the mistakes were, so why would she discuss the mistakes, and her opinion on their seriousness, in great detail? Posts would be pages long if writers gave full details of events/thoughts/actions that were related to, but not relevant to, the issue(s) for which they are seeking advice.

          1. Colette*

            Two is enough that it could easily be a serious problem. Maybe the OP took them very seriously and came up with strategies to avoid those mistakes in the future – but maybe she didn’t. We don’t know.

            And, while the coworker should be handling the situation differently, it’s possible that the OP should adjust how she handles this.

            1. Approval is optional*

              Sure they ‘could’ but they also ‘could not’ – which was my point – we don’t know. We don’t know if they were, or if they weren’t. We don’t know if she has strategies or if she doesn’t. People have just gone ‘well I think X, so I’m going to lay into the OP as if X is true’.

            2. Triumphant Fox*

              But it seems like OP mixed up the dates on two very similar events. “Benefit Your Heart” on 9/12 in Chicago vs. “Benefit Your Heart” on 9/14 in New York. It sounds like this was really one mistake of mixing up the dates, rather than two isolated incidents.

              1. Deranged Cubicle Owl*

                This is exactly how I read it as well. So two tweet mistakes, but actually just one “incident”. And I do hope that this experience will help OP learn to double check the correct info. However, CM is totally out of line. Her actions are ridiculous and, in my eyes, doing more harm to the company than the mistakes OP did.

                1. Deranged Cubicle Owl*

                  CM = CW (co-worker)

                  See, that’s how easely it is to make a mistaken with online media (and NO EDIT Buttton) ;-)

            3. OhCanary*

              VP of social media here. We send out…gosh, probably around 20 tweets per day on our main account, with an additional 30-50 on our other accounts. So, three mistakes in six months is a really great track record!

              Now, obviously, 0 mistakes is the goal. But two incorrect dates? I’d raise it as a manager, sure. But it’s not a huge deal unless it’s a clearer pattern.

              The coworker is wayyyyy out of line. It’s making everyone, including the brand, look dumb. And if I were the CEO I’d be pissed to be tagged in them.

              1. Flash Bristow*

                At last a practical response. I completely agree. Sure, you aim for none, but the odd mistake is almost inevitable and how it’s dealt with is key. Op’s co-worker is out of line and trying to show off, IMHO.

          2. ChimericalOne*

            I wouldn’t expect the OP to go into the mistakes or how seriously she takes them in great detail but the line “three tweets in six months does not seem like a bad hit rate” is enough to conclude that she does not think her mistakes were serious or extensive. She’s not justifying her judgment call — and hey, maybe she’s right — but she is clearly making one.

            Now, maybe she just means “not bad enough to warrant this response.” (In which case, I’d say, “No level of badness warrants this response — this was a bad response from your coworker for any kind or level of mistake.”) But if she just means, “It’s not that bad,” then that perspective is going to color how she communicates about the situation to others. So, it’s something that she needs to reflect on. If she goes in & shrugs off her mistakes or seems defensive, it’s going to be much harder to talk about what her colleague is doing (and she’s likely to create a bad impression of herself, to boot).

            As someone who handles social media for a nonprofit in a volunteer capacity, I personally find 2 dates to be pretty serious. Unless those tweets were taken down pretty quickly, you’ve definitely run the risk that someone will look for your event, write the date down on their calendar, and then never look back at your page again & just show up, thinking they have the right info. Pretty much any other detail, I’d say it’s not a huge problem, ultimately (barring maybe info about a headliner or something). But with dates & times? People can get pretty mad if they show up & find out they missed your event.

            1. Approval is optional*

              But she gets to make the judgement call because it’s her issue, and nobody commenting here has sufficient information to tell her that her judgement is wrong.
              I’m not saying she’s right – though I can think of situations where she would be – I’m saying we don’t know, and we can’t know, so to make assumptions about her situation, and then criticise her as if the assumptions were ‘truth’, is inappropriate, and not for nothing, actually against the commenting rules.

              1. A*

                To me this seems like a slightly different situation than just derailing / answering a question the OP didn’t ask. Commenters are identifying a root cause issue (regardless of what actions OP may or may not have taken in relation to) that directly relates to the question asked. It sets the framework for the coworkers behavior, which is important to take into account. I know it’s a gray area, but I would hope it wouldn’t be against the commenting rules to see a bigger picture issue than the abbreviated letter specifically calls out.

            2. Kaaaaaren*

              I mean, what is she supposed to do? She mixed up the dates of two events — which probably accounts for the first two mistakes — and then the third issue was a formatting mistake in a post, which can be *very* easy to do without realizing it if you’re composing your posts in one place and copying them into either Twitter or a posting platform. And sometimes, the post preview doesn’t display in reality as it says it will in the preview. What would be an appropriate show of remorse over this? Sign a pledge that she will never confuse the dates of two similar events ever again, on penalty of death? Quit in shame? Whip herself?

              1. Flash Bristow*

                Well quite. I mean, Alison has typos semi-frequently… anyone here going to stomp off indignantly in horror?

                (No offence Alison! Just making the point that nobody’s perfect, even on things that are being deliberately published to a large audience. So people picking on OP for this seems a little over-zealous.)

          3. Observer*

            Incorrect dates for an event are ALWAYS a big deal! The only question is whether it was a big deal or a disastrous mistake. I imagine it was not a disaster, but you simply can’t get away from the fact that you posted a material mistake about YOUR OWN program.

            It’s true that the OP didn’t write in to ask about how to handle their mistake. But what people are trying to say is that they will be on shaky ground unless they make it clear that the issue with the CW is that his response is problematic and unhelpful, but that OP *is* taking it seriously and taking actual constructive steps to avoid a repeat.

            1. Zillah*

              Incorrect dates for an event are ALWAYS a big deal! The only question is whether it was a big deal or a disastrous mistake. I imagine it was not a disaster, but you simply can’t get away from the fact that you posted a material mistake about YOUR OWN program.

              I mean… are they, though? They’re not ideal, but I’m having a hard time with the idea that a corrected mistake is as big a deal as a lot of you are suggesting it is, especially since a single tweet generally (IME) isn’t the only source of the information or the only thing that people rely on. If I see a tweet about an ASOIAF event, I’m going to look for more information about it, not mark it on my calendar.

          4. Jennifer Thneed*

            Two is multiple. It is more than one, which is single.

            If you’re saying “two isn’t that many” I do not disagree. But two IS multiple.

      2. Roja*

        The way it read, I don’t think it was more than once, as in, two separate incidents. I read it like it was one incident where they posted two similar events but swapped the dates.

        Regardless, I’m sure the OP is aware and I don’t think we should beat this death.

        1. Turtlewings*

          That was my take, as well — that she switched the two dates, making it one mistake that had double consequences, but still just one mistake.

        2. Yorick*

          That’s what I thought, too. And that seems like the sort of mistake where now that you’re aware it can happen, you can easily avoid it in the future.

        3. DJ*

          Agreed, that’s my take too. It’s basically one error that resulted in two incorrect tweets. And for sure it’s a serious error, but I doubt the OP is blowing it off just because her concern here is her coworker’s reaction.

          And regardless of the seriousness of the error, her coworker’s reaction is a bit like throwing oil on a fire. It’s just going to make an even bigger mess no matter how major of an error it was to start with.

        4. Summertime*

          I also echo that we shouldn’t be focused on turning the blame on OP. We don’t have any context on OP’s performance. And I think we’re being unsympathetic in that OP’s mistakes could easily be made by ourselves! The distinction is that many of us might not be tweetings those mistakes. We could me mixing up dates in an internal email. The mixed dates get more visibility when it’s out to the public.

          The real problem is that the way OP’s coworker is going about delivering feedback is petty, vindictive, and makes everyone look bad. And OP is less receptive to the feedback due to the delivery method. I agree that OP should speak to Coworker about her behavior. But at the same time acknowledge her mistakes, and then let her manager know that the conversation has taken place. If Coworker continues doing this on minor mistakes (typos, formatting, not dates), then OP has taken every action possible to resolve this conflict with Coworker. In this case, OP can push back and ask that someone else (HR, Coworker’s manager) address Coworker’s behavior.

          I’m hoping CEO is just eye-rolling at these tagged tweets. I’m definitely an advocate of senior management being involved/in-touch with the daily going-ons of the company. But I hope she feels annoyed that she is being involved with a mistake that can be easily addressed in a more appropriate manner.

          If Coworker’s behavior does not improve after OP and HR or Coworker’s Manager talks to her and she continues to take this highly visible feedback path, then OP should consider speaking with her manager about blocking Coworker from the company Twitter page.

          One thing I really appreciate about Alison’s responses is that she takes a tierred approach. First talk with the person you’re having conflict with and then escalate as needed. I’m hoping that it will not come to blocking Coworker on the Twitter page.

        5. N2Dolfyns*

          Agreed. We’re supposed to be addressing how this person is going to handle the situation with the employee, not improve their own job performance. No one likes to make mistakes and they certainly don’t want to have their nose constantly rubbed in the one’s they make.

      3. EnfysNest*

        I didn’t read the events errors as full separate occurrences – I read it as meaning that OP swapped the two dates. So two different tweets, the first says “Llama Party on the 5th” and the second, posted at the same time or close to it, says “Alpaca Party on the 6th”, when really the Aplaca party should have been the one on the 5th. So, to me, even though that’s two tweets, it’s really sort of just one mistake – if one had been right, the other would have been, too.

        1. Jadelyn*

          Same. Mostly nesting this under your comment to say I love your username – I want her to have her own movie!

    6. Wander*

      It’s not hard to double check the date you are tweeting, or to look at the posted tweet to catch the formatting error!

        1. OhCanary*

          Exactly! If you’re using a third party platform, which most big- to medium-sized companies do, there can absolutely be occasional formatting issues due to the platform.

          Some of you don’t work in social media and it shows…

      1. Zillah*

        Most mistakes aren’t about something that’s hard, it’s about something that slips through because we’re all human. I’m quite sure that everyone here has made mistakes like that.

    7. ALF*

      I’m curious too! I tweet several hundred times a month on my company account and would want to know how much error is too much. The type of error matters here too. Awkward spacing or something wouldn’t be a big deal but using the wrong promo code for a sale or the wrong date for a workshop could be.

      OP, maybe this will help if you don’t already do this. After I schedule a bunch of social media posts, I always look through them for errors. Before I leave for the weekend, I do the same. It’s easier to monitor at work because you likely have your accounts open more often, but it’s a good idea to make sure you’re pulling up your feeds a couple times a day to make sure the posts went up without error.

      One day, maybe twitter will give us an edit button. We can dream!

        1. Mary*

          It is, but if you work in any kind of professional comms it’s a skill you need to develop. There are lots of tricks that can help make your work “strange” again: printing it out, reading it out loud, and putting it in a weird font are some of the ones I use, and you can catch a lot that way.

          1. MatKnifeNinja*

            When I am really tired, I’ll type them out via my text messaging app with a different font. Walk away for 5 minutes, and look at it again. Paste and copy into Twitter, and hit send.

            For the information I send out, it is very rare for me to write and immediately send without any proofing.

              1. Jaydee*

                This is really good for catching spelling errors because you’re focusing on each word, as they make no sense in context with the neighboring words.

        2. Mel*

          Yes. I’ve gotten better at it over the years, but I’ll always be better at proofing the work of others. I’m just too close to the project.

          That said, an easy trick with small projects (like a tweet) is to read it outloud. I catch a lot more that way. It’s not always possible (large project, open office, etc.) But it makes a big difference when I can.

            1. Pretzelgirl*

              I am terrible at proof reading in general. When I was applying for jobs, I would check my cover letters, emails, resume several times. Read it aloud. Walk away for an hour and come back. I still missed mistakes.

          1. pleaset*

            And in Twitter and similar contexts, double-checking URLs, dates, proper names and Twitter handles. Focusing on what is really important.

            1. Elenna*

              This – a typo is embarrassing but most of the time it’s a lot less problematic than an incorrect date or URL. Maybe a quick checklist of things to double-check? “Ok, checked all URL’s, now to double-check all the dates…” that kind of thing.

              1. Zillah*

                It sounds like this is a mistake that happened once, though, with two different events (so it led to two tweets) – a one-off mistake is certainly a sign that something went wrong, but there’s also a danger in overcorrecting for one error.

                This is a silly example, but I once went on autopilot and got on a train going the direction I usually went in rather than the direction I was going on that particular day. That one mistake didn’t mean I needed to change anything about my process of getting on the train – it just meant I’d made a mistake once. It doesn’t sound like the OP is making a habit of getting important details wrong – it sounds like they flipped two events in their mind and that one mistake led to two tweets. It hasn’t really phased me when I’ve seen one correction from an org saying something along the lines of “A previous tweet gave the incorrect dates for the ASOIAF event and the GoT event. The ASOIAF event is on the 18th at 2pm, and the GoT event is on the 20th at 3pm, not the other way around. Apologies for the mistake!” It’s not great, but one mistake is something that IME, most people will forgive.

          2. Parenthetically*

            Former composition teacher here — reading it aloud TO someone else and having someone else read it aloud to YOU are both excellent ways to catch errors that have the bonus of being really quick. Obviously not always practical if you’re tweeting multiple times a day, but for something with dates or other info that’s important not to get wrong, it’s worth a shot.

            1. TurquoiseCow*

              I like to use my laptop to have the computer read things I’ve written to me. Sometimes the unnatural computer voice highlights that I’ve repeated a phrase or failed to finish a sentence or left out a word. It also might catch spelling errors that spell-check failed to catch, as it pronounces the wrong word the right way. Of course, this isn’t an option if you don’t have headphones in a shared space.

              1. Zillah*

                This is a really good strategy, but it’s worth keeping in mind that this adds a lot of time to a task that many of us just don’t have.

        3. Narvo Flieboppen*

          I don’t work in comms, but I do have to review my own work frequently. I’ve found the best method, whenever possible, is to set it aside and come back the next day. So, this morning, I’m looking at yesterday’s work before it is finalized.

          Assuming the tweet’s are scheduled, you could put in a break of this nature, even just a few hours can make it feel like you’re looking at it with fresh eyes. And for anything with dates, a required code, etc. – triple check! Or even quadruple! Better to look several times and be right than to not check enough and be wrong.

          1. Dr. Pepper*

            This is how I edit my own work. Leaving it overnight is best, but leaving it even for 30 minutes while I deliberately go do something completely different helps too. The more time I have to leave it, the better I can catch mistakes. I also read it out loud sometimes too.

          2. Veronica*

            I do detail work and my method is to always check the source or my notes (whichever is the original of the info), even if I think I know the details.
            For entering numbers, I always check against the source again after they’re entered.

        4. Kathenus*

          The method I use for really important things, like my resume, is to read it backwards. I was taught that trick many years ago because when you read it normally your brain can ‘fix’ errors so you may not notice them. But backwards, the errors can be easier to catch because you’re removing the context that might make you skip over them otherwise.

        5. Probably Taking This Too Seriously*

          Agree. I am at an agency and we do an internal review of every social post, so one person writes and another approves it, then the client approves. The errors we have had have always been with the formatting vs. typos or incorrect info. We follow a checklist to ensure every name is spelled correctly and the dates are accurate due to previous problems in the past, though.

    8. China Beech*

      AAM’s response IMO was overly judgy, without taking into consideration your points (volume) and that the OP is a human being and not a robot.

      1. CRM*

        In defense of AAM, posting the wrong date for an event (twice!) seems like a pretty substantial error that could have a tangible negative effect on the business. If it hadn’t been caught, it could have potentially resulted in a low turnout/profit/engagement for an event that people spent time, money, and resources on.

        The formatting thing is no big deal, I think AAM’s response would have been different if it had just been that and a couple of typos.

        1. Anonym*

          Yeah, and OP is too cavalier about it. If someone on my team made a mistake that could affect event engagement, I wouldn’t want them penalized for it, but it’s in the “this can’t happen again, let me know how you can change process to avoid it” bucket. If they take it seriously, all good. If they shrug it off, I need someone else to be reviewing their work at a minimum.

          1. Anonym*

            Oh, and to the point about being human – of course, we all are! That’s why we build processes (and have teams/reviewers) to account for the fact that we’re individually not going to catch every error.

            I don’t think Alison is judging OP, instead pointing out that OP’s job may expect more precision. It’s important context for her to consider, as she doesn’t want to have her concerns about the coworker’s behavior derailed by concerns about her performance. Expressing a firm understanding of the expectations for her can help prevent this.

          2. The Rules are Made Up*

            I don’t think OP is too cavalier about it, its just not what they wrote in to ask about. They wanted to know what to do about their coworker so this seems…. super off topic. For all we know the OP corrected it, and never did it again. They really don’t need everyone piling on about this.

          3. Emily K*

            There’s a difference between how OP characterizes the mistake and how OP characterizes their performance over a six-month period, and whether that performance warrants further oversight. A one-off serious mistake can be taken seriously and reacted to with the appropriate amount of concern without the OP having to wear a hair-shirt for the next six months. This was one serious mistake and one that wasn’t very bad at all – I would agree with the OP that this isn’t a frequency of mistakes that would make me as a manager think that’s time to have a big picture conversation. If my employee made a serious mistake six months ago and handled it appropriately at the time, I would have no problem with her characterizing her job performance over the past six months as generally good, and in particular, as being good enough that there’s no need for random coworkers in other departments to be intervening.

            The context for OP’s remark that it’s not a bad hit rate seems to be getting lost in this discussion – her point was to underscore that there’s no reason for Nosy Coworker to think that OP’s work is so bad she needs to butt in and raise all kinds of alarm bells about it. The bar for what Nosy Coworker is doing would require more a more significant pattern of errors.

      2. A*

        Agreed in relation to the volumes, and obviously that we are all but humans. That being said, I don’t think it was overly judgy. The kinds of mistakes the OP mentioned are a really big deal in comms, and easily avoided. Especially on Twitter. You literally only have a few sentences to work with – editing should not be that difficult. We all make mistakes, but that doesn’t eliminate accountability – especially in a customer facing role where you have literally signed on to be the voice of your employer.

      1. M from NY*

        Formatting error is when document looks one way while typing but another way once you hit post or publish.

        For example on Instagram with a long post the returns separating paragraphs doesn’t always show (which is why sometimes you’ll see emojis or periods to create distance) otherwise it publishes like one long run on post.

    9. Ruthie*

      Agreed that context is missing. Social media is my bread and butter, and at the organizations I’ve worked at, three errors wouldn’t be alarming because of the high volume of social content, especially because several people are authorized to tweet.

      1. Zalamander*

        Yes to this. My company tweets about 12x per day, which means we put out around 2,100 tweets in six months. Depending on whether you’re counting the date-swapping as one error or two, that works out to either one error in 1050 tweets or one error every 700 tweets. It doesn’t seem like an error rate of 1/700 is grounds for too much angst. It is however a different story if you’re tweeting just twice a week. Then we’re talking about an error rate of 1/17 or 1/26, which is definitely PIP time. But even at an error rate of 1/17 the absolute last thing the company should want is another employee calling public attention to those errors.

      2. The Rules are Made Up*

        When I was in radio I did social media. 5 different station pages and a bunch of tweets a day. 2 errors (because mixing up the dates of 2 events is really one error) is nothing. I think a lot of the commentators don’t work in this field so it seems like a BIG DEAL when its not. The CEO wouldn’t even been CC’d on an email about this let alone tagged in the tweet. You know how big a mistake this would have to be to alert the CEO? Yahoo Finance “Bigger Navy” typo level mistake. A date swap doesn’t qualify lol.

    10. Bananatiel*

      Yeah, I feel like this is very much dependent on context– in a previous job I was a designer working closely with a social media manager who, among other things, had to live-tweet events on a regular basis. 3 errors in six months was nothing in that environment (if anything our error rate was much higher considering we’re talking thousands of tweets in a month) and if I were to tag our CEO on errors I would be talked to right away. When I caught something important, like an event date or time was incorrect, I would instant message or speak to the social media manager directly. Our audience was relatively understanding that sometimes we’d make minor mistakes because of the rate we were tweeting.

      So yeah, this feels like the advice Alison gave could be off depending on the industry. I work for a place now that is much more measured in their communications– three in six months would be a big deal here!

    11. FairPayFullBenefits*

      Exactly what I was thinking. And to be fair to OP, it’s more like they made 1 mistake in six months, since the mistake was switching dates between two things. And honestly, I wouldn’t count a mis-formatted tweet as a real error. Lots of companies post 10+ tweets per day, so 1 real mistake in six months seems pretty good to me. (If they only tweet a couple times a week, that would be a different story.)

    12. DoubleH*

      Yeah, the amount of tweeting matters. I publish several hundred tweets in six months. An error in three of them, while not awesome, is really not a massive deal. But if it’s one tweet a month and three of them have errors, well, that’s inept.
      What I think we can all agree on is that the OP’s coworker is a total ass.

    13. Red 5*

      Yeah, I actually work in social media and this rate of errors would be something that would really irk me as a person because it’s more than I’d like to be dealing with, at the same time mixing up two dates is not necessarily two errors, it’s one that went in two different tweets. But unless it was indicative of a larger problem (I was making mistakes in other areas too) I don’t know that people would even remember that it happened a couple weeks later. You know, aside from me because I’m like that.

      And mixing up the dates of two similarly named events that are happening around the same time as each other? That’s the kind of thing that just happens. Should we all be more careful? Sure. Should people planning events not have two things with similar names around the same time because if your own social media manager confused them is it possible other people including clients would too? You betcha. But it’s just a thing. The co-worker is absolutely out of line and is behaving like a child or somebody who doesn’t understand Twitter.

      A reasonable person would email you privately to let you know of the mistake. It’s that easy.

      There are people that tweet dozens of times a day, on top of replies, that rate of error would be miniscule for them.

      1. Emily K*

        Some of these criticisms remind me of a Friends episode where Chandler makes a comment a day later about what could have been done to prevent whatever the comic error was that had unfolded earlier in the episode, and Monica says, “Yeah, that’s true. You’re a great person to have around the day after an emergency!”

    14. MyDogIsCalledBradleyPooper*

      TL;DR Your co-worker can be an ass don’t give he the opportunity to unload on you.

      How your co-worker is publicly outing you for typos says more about her than it does about you. While she may hold herself to a higher standard, publicly shaming you is public is not a way to build relationships. She is trying to make herself look better at your cost.

      The question is what should you do about it and what is in your control? You could escalate this with your manager or her manager but you are trying to control her behaviour. To do this you highlight the fact that someone is catching errors. My suggestion, and it sounds flippant, is stop making errors. If you remove this trigger she cannot call you out on them. I am not saying that three errors in 6 months is too many, it does not matter. Get as close to perfection as you can. Double and triple check things before you post. Picture your co-worker getting frustrated that they do not get to call you out in public anymore each time you do this. Use that as motivation to get better.

    15. Who Plays Backgammon?*

      I say “post to twitter.” “Tweet” sounds like baby talk to me, even if that’s what the site calls them.

      I agree that maybe it’s a lot, and may it isn’t a high error volume. Mixing up event dates is serious, but depending on lead time, can be fixed quickly online, unlike sending out print announcements. Wanna hear about the time back when I was a pup that a communications honcho sent out a memo announcing all-staff meetings, broken down into groups, and didn’t put the meeting time on the first memo? :) He was very good, but mistakes happen.

  2. MJ*

    I wonder whether the coworker (#1) does this to anyone else, not social media posts but other things such as reports, memos. That is, is the coworker ‘picking’ only on the OP?

    1. Liar Liar Pants Dracarys*

      I’m petty enough that I’d scour the coworker’s twitter for anything remotely inappropriate, screenshot it, and send it to her favourite team saying “Hey Bish, if you’re going to tweet things like this, please unfollow the company, as we don’t want this sort of thing associated with us. Kthanksbye.”

        1. One of the Spreadsheet Horde*

          So if LW1 and LW3 work at the same company, maybe this person is prepping for their annual evaluation –

          “Boldly disclosed the truth on lack of coworker tweet perfection in an obnoxiously public forum 3x this year.”

  3. Bulldog*

    LW4 – Oh, if only we were all as enlightened as the fresh college graduates. Look, by your own admission, John has only been with the company a few weeks and works remotely. Do you not think it possible that he might just not have learned everyone yet? Absent some other concrete evidence to the contrary, I’d give him the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps you could even offer to do something useful for your new senior team member and comprise a email recipient list(s) of all relevant personnel so he will have it handy and nobody will risk being left out.

    1. D'Arcy*

      John *definitely* does not deserve the benefit of the doubt on this — even if your spin on the situation is remotely accurate, he’s prioritizing learning the names of all the white and male employees, even to the point of thanking absentee males who have contributed nothing to a project over a female *lead* who put a lot of work into reviewing his own contributions.

      I cannot imagine any *remotely* acceptable reason you’d know and remember an out-sick male employee who you haven’t actually worked with, over someone who has been doing the in-depth reviews of your day to day work. If anything, that would be the *first* person you’d know.

      1. Que Syrah Syrah*

        Yes, thank you.

        Also, I’m at the point where this kind of defensiveness/derision about the very concept that maybe a fresh college graduate might actually know what they’re talking about to be very interesting. Obviously the idea is very threatening, and it may be worth exploring why.

          1. Yvette*

            What’s the old joke, “Pardon me Dr. Freud, your slip is showing”? I know we are not supposed to nit-pick typos, (I have certainly made my share) but this one one is hysterically appropriate. I am almost wondering if it was deliberate, and if so, all the more funny.

      2. Parenthetically*

        “he’s prioritizing learning the names of all the white and male employees, even to the point of thanking absentee males who have contributed nothing to a project over a female *lead* who put a lot of work into reviewing his own contributions”

        Amen, and very well said.

        Also, not being psychic, I’m not going to lose a lot of sleep over John’s motivations. Intent doesn’t magically erase impact, and the impact of his actions is materially damaging to his woman and POC colleagues. So.

        1. cmcinnyc*

          This. John might be the bee’s knees and truly not mean to find women/POC invisible in the workplace, but if he *does* fail to see/get to know/acknowledge women/POC in the workplace it really doesn’t matter how good his intentions may be. It’s not about intent, it’s about impact. And sometimes young people who are brand new to the workplace notice that right off the bat. How lucky we are to get fresh eyes on stuff.

          1. Mimi*

            My roommate has been in the position of being the female software development lead who’s consistently left out of meetings/emails/etc. by the male project manager, and it REALLY SUCKS. New hire on the team isn’t the easiest position to address this issue from, but it’s still very important to flag and have dealt with.

        2. The Rules are Made Up*

          Whew yes! Men who just happen to have blinders on when it comes to their non white male coworkers (or reports if they are a manager) are a big part of the reason women and POC are more likely to get passed over for promotions and advancement. Women and POC can do their job amazingly well and just… aren’t noticed. So we can’t accept “Oh I just so happened to not know any of my minority coworkers oopsie” Whether he means it or not he needs to cut it out. Asap.

      3. Venus*

        Totally agreed, and I think this needs to be flagged to John’s manager ASAP so that the manager has some time to make their own observations and correct things immediately, without it becoming ‘a thing’. The sooner this is addressed, the sooner it becomes a non-issue (either by John learning that he needs to treat everyone equally, or by being fired).

      4. Deranged Cubicle Owl*

        This!

        John is an a**hole!

        His actions show a lack of respect to his co-workers, no matter if he works remotely or not. It is so obvious that OP can see a pattern. Forgetting a name once, ok, we are all human. But the names he “forgets” are eather women or POC. But then adding a name to a project of a guy who barely did anything to it, but not the female lead who did most of the work? That’s deliberate and it tells a lot about John.

    2. Autumnal*

      This seems unnecessarily snarky—also it feels ironic that you’re demanding so much grace for John as a new hire while having so little for the letter writer as someone who is new to the workforce.

      Anyway, LW4 props for noticing what might be a concerning pattern and addressing it!

    3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      That seems unnecessarily snarky. It’s concerning if someone manages to only forget “minority” members of a team, yet has somehow managed to learn and remember all the names of white men on the team. It doesn’t have to be intentional bias for the pattern to be a problem—implicit bias is also a thing, and it’s now happened enough times that it’s solidly out of the grace period.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Agreed, and it’s very toxic. If OP has noticed it, that means others have noticed it. In addition to being demoralizing, it’s going to undermine John’s professional goodwill and people’s assumptions about him. This kind of behavior is like a tumor that metastasizes until it begins to compromise the entire team.

    4. Tinuviel*

      Even given the benefit of the doubt, it means that John is habitually not noticing the efforts and work of his female and POC colleagues. Surely he would want this brought to his attention in that case, as no one wants to accidentally snub colleagues, right?

      And giving you the benefit of the doubt as well, I’m sure you didn’t mean that fresh grads are uniquely sensitive to issues of social equity as it plays out in the workplace. Of course as you know this matters to everyone, young or old, in the workplace and out on the street, and can have real business and career consequences if ignored. I’m sure you didn’t mean to suggest otherwise, as that would be pretty rude and suggest some unexamined biases in yourself!

    5. Gaia*

      I would give him the benefit of the doubt if it wasn’t consistently women and minorities being left out. Weird that he never leaves out white men….

      1. Marmaduke*

        Maybe he just has a hard time with unfamiliar names like “Jun Tao” or “Saladi” or “Jennifer”

      2. A*

        Exactly. The ONLY ‘justification’ I could think of – which even so is a stretch – is if he has never met or seen the majority of the team. It took me 4-5 months in on my last remote positions to finally meet the extended team in person. I stalked people online because I’m curious, and most of my coworkers didn’t have images posted on their intranet profiles, but I suppose some people might not? But even if that was the case, there’s no way it would play out this one sided. I refuse to accept that knowing all the white males is just a coincidence!

        1. LeighTX*

          Even then, it would be simple for John to include a line in meeting invites and other emails that says, “I am still learning everyone’s names and roles, so if I have inadvertently left out anyone please copy them and let me know.”

    6. Observer*

      Why would you give him the benefit of the doubt? Why is it that somehow he can’t remember the actual person who ACTUAL work on his code review, but did manage to remember the white guy who was out when the code review was actually being done? Why is it that somehow it’s always the minority folks that he can’t remember but he CAN remember the white guys, even after a few weeks.

      If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, why should someone say “But MAYBE it’s really a chicken that got adopted by ducks?”

      1. fhqwhgads*

        I probably read it wrong, but I had interpreted it as the woman lead did the code review on the work the guy who was out did, not did a code review on the new-guy-who-omits-minorities.

        1. Observer*

          Either way, he managed to remember the guy who was out for a week but he forgot the team lead who actually did the code review. That’s a rather interesting pairing, if you’re trying to claim that he just hasn’t been around long enough to know everyone.

    7. Zombie Unicorn*

      You’re really reaching for an excuse here. Being new and remote is no excuse for always leaving out minorities, or thanking the completely wrong person.

      So yes, if only you were as enlightened as LW4, that would be great.

    8. Massmatt*

      I might agree if it were only one or two instances the OP mentioned but put them all together and it’s an ugly pattern. Especially thanking the absent guy and leaving out the team lead. Doubt has left the building.

      It will be telling to see how he responds when this is pointed out to him.

      1. Sam.*

        Yes, and I imagine OP did give the benefit of the doubt the first time or two. More than that is clearly a pattern and clearly a problem.

      2. VictorianCowgirl*

        So telling. It would be so different if John had apologized, mentioned his dist list being updated, and it didn’t happen again. That’s not what we have here.

    9. Beth*

      Nah, he doesn’t need the benefit of the doubt. Absolute best-case scenario, he’s failing to double check easily findable information or remember who he’s worked closely with–which are problems in any collaborative environment, especially when you’re remote and can’t show appreciation and teamwork in person.

      More likely, he’s got some kind of bias that’s leading him to mentally prioritize white male coworkers over women, people of color, etc. This might well be subconscious! But if he’s ‘still learning who’s on his team’ but somehow consistently remembers all the white men, OP is right to notice that’s a problem. Even if it’s unconscious bias, that doesn’t protect OP’s coworkers from being disadvantaged by this dude’s behavior, and it doesn’t protect OP’s company from being liable if the consequences of his behavior have a severe enough impact. It’s absolutely something to bring to the attention of a supervisor who can keep a close eye on it.

    10. AngryAngryAlice*

      This seems like an pretty established pattern in a short period of time if LW has already developed a strategy for correcting the problematic behavior. John doesn’t deserve the benefit of the doubt here.

      And it’s weird that your comment is so condescending and dismissive when this is a real problem that happens in a lot of workplaces.

      1. Que Syrah Syrah*

        I’ve found that condescension and dismissiveness typically is a tactic used when one is feeling threatened/defensive. I would say it’s likely that situations like this force the commenter to reflect upon moments they’ve experienced where things they’ve said/done have been called into question (or they’re seeing those moments from another perspective from the first time), and they don’t like the inconvenience of that. So they attempt to strip that alternate perspective of its power by treating it with scorn, derision, and smugness. If it’s “beneath them,” or “silly,” there’s no way it can carry any weight, or be right or true at all. They then get to shield themselves from the discomfort and not have to confront any possible unpleasant truths about what they believe or how they act.

        If OP4 is “just another faux-enlightened college grad who doesn’t know anything,” then that thing that happened a few months ago that their coworker reacted badly to (for good reason), or that time they were told they have to watch what they say was really just (probably PC!) nonsense, and they didn’t do anything wrong. The irony is that in engaging in this behavior, they make it extremely transparent that they’re feeling very, very insecure about their own perspective/stance, and that on some level, they actually DO suspect that maybe they might be wrong, and that’s terrifying. They’re basically just outright admitting it.

        Projection! The ultimate defense mechanism.

        1. Tinuviel*

          Oh that’s very interesting!
          I can definitely see the mental path of “wait I do that, is that bad?”->”no it can’t be bad because I do it.”->”anyone who complains about that must be wrong.”->”complaining about something so clearly wrong isn’t worth anyone’s time.”

          Makes me feel a bit better when I’m hurting from it. It feels vindicating to know that on some level they suspect I’m right.

        2. knitter*

          Yeah, I saw this mental gymnastics during a recent conversation with my husband and his aunt. We were talking about the racist portrayal of a character in a children’s show…aunt was surprised at what we were saying. His aunt said “You guys just pay attention to this more than I do”. As if racism only exists because we notice it.

          1. HarperC*

            Ah, yes, the “sexism/racism/etc wouldn’t exist if people would just stop talking about it” argument. Sigh.

          2. yala*

            “You guys just pay attention to this more than I do”

            …lord if I had a nickle for every time I heard that…

            …could probably get a large fries at wendy’s

            1. AKchic*

              In the 90s, during Black History Month, everyone used to say “I’m not racist, I’m colorblind” without recognizing that depending on your severity of colorblindness, that actually meant you saw everything as black and white, which was the opposite of the intention of your little quip. Pointing it out got teachers to say “don’t overthink it, just go back to your assignment”.
              Yeah… half those kids are raging racists now.

              1. Emily K*

                I like to point out the similarity between a white person saying, “I don’t see color,” and a rich person saying, “I don’t pay attention to how much things cost.” It’s a lot easier to ignore things that aren’t negatively affecting you personally.

                1. Flash Bristow*

                  Ouch. That made me think. But I guess I needed telling?

                  (When asked what x person looked like, I can generally remember tall or short, male or female but I really *do* forget skin colour. But perhaps I should make an effort to notice it?)

                2. CMart*

                  @ Flash: it’s not necessarily that you need to notice someone’s skin color. It’s more that it’s important to recognize that people’s skin color is an incredibly big part of how they’ve been perceived in the world, and their life experiences can be very, very different than people with other skin colors.

                  “Oh I don’t see color, people are just people to me! Why can’t we all just realize we’re all the same!” erases people’s unique experiences, unique often directly because of their skin color. It’s just a tone-deaf thing to say. I like the analogy above about money. Someone who is well-off says “I don’t pay attention to prices, value is all about how it makes you feel” might be technically right, but they’ve totally glossed over that material cost is critical and life-defining for folk who are struggling financially.

        3. LunaLena*

          I think the “comfort” thing is the key. I recently read a book called “So You Want to Talk About Race” by Ijeoma Oluo, and some of the things she wrote about made me realize that people getting defensive about racism, sexism, and other hot topics really has to do with their own desire to not feel uncomfortable. By minimizing the importance, or sneering at it as a “first world problem” or “not important,” they can safely tell themselves that the other person is wrong, and therefore that person is wrong to make them feel uncomfortable about their own behavior or make them try to change it.

          I suspect that this is what was behind the whole “The Problem with Apu” controversy: 1. I laughed at Apu, but South Asian people are now saying that Apu is a racist caricature. 2. But I’m not a racist; racists are bad people and I’m not a bad person! 3. But if I agree that Apu is a racist caricature, then I’m admitting that I’m a racist. 4. Therefore, Apu CANNOT be a racist caricature (or if he is, it’ s okay because ALL the characters on The Simpsons are caricatures, or it’s just a TV show, or it’s just a joke, lighten up people etc etc), and people are just making a fuss about it because they need something to complain about, and it’s trendy to be a victim. 5. I can safely continue to laugh at Apu and nothing about the character should change lest we admit that other people are rightfully not fine with it. I don’t have to rethink or change my behavior, because there’s nothing wrong with it, and those sensitive crybabies should just get over it.

        4. AKchic*

          Hi, I see you’ve met my entire Boomer and Gen X extended family and two ex-husbands (one Gen X, one Millennial). They suck, don’t they?

      2. Richard Hershberger*

        “And it’s weird that your comment is so condescending and dismissive when this is a real problem that happens in a lot of workplaces.”

        But it isn’t a problem… for him. Surely that is the relevant criterion, don’t you know?

    11. MistOrMister*

      I have to agree with others about the unkindness of your statement as well as the falsness of your logic. You will note that OP says whenever John leaves people off, they are replying and pointing out who was left off and including them, in effect giving John that list you think would be so helpful.
      IF John was doing this merely due to being new, a couple of instances of this should prompt him to realize he was not using the correct list. The fact that he 1) continues to leave people off even after being corrected multiple times and 2) those people are always ONLY women or minorities makes it easy to assume that he is doing it on purpose. I get that people are left off things. Teams change all the time. But my experience has been when this is done unintentionally, it’s never the same set of people being left out each time. And any time I’ve pointed out that someone appears to have been left off, it’s been fixed the next time around.
      And really, how in the world do you not realize who reviewed your work to the point where you thank someone who wasn’t even in the office at the time?? That is crazy. At the absolute best, John’s attention to detail is almost nil. At worst he is racist and misogynistic. Either way it’s a problem. What happens if he ends up working under a woman or POC? Will he leave THEM off invites too? Yeesh

      1. Artemesia*

        I find it weird that he is assembling the list each time; usually you have a list you use; you don’t retype names each time. So he is doing this oddly or intentionally.

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          And a legal/PR disaster waiting to happen. Pretty sure LW’s employer does not want that!

      2. Sam.*

        Yeah, to me the most…generous? reading of this is that he is super unobservant/doesn’t pay attention to details at all AND has some internalized biases (otherwise some random white guys would’ve been forgotten by now…) Even if it’s not a deliberate, intentional act – and I think there’s a good chance it isn’t – it’s still incredibly problematic.

    12. Anonforthis*

      Oh please. He ‘coincidentally’ leaves out the minority members of the team and congratulated a junior male for a female lead’s work. That’s deliberate, malicious discrimination

      1. Allypopx*

        I don’t think I’d necessarily categorize it as that. I think we – broad society we – need to be much more aware about identifying, understanding, and discussing unconscious bias. Calling it deliberate and malicious tends to cause people to get defensive and shut down, because often it’s *not* and they feel attacked by the accusation. But it definitely *feels* that way from the receiving end and that impact is important, which is why we need to have broader awareness of how we interact with people when we aren’t actively thinking about it.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Yes, thank you. Also, painting it as deliberate and malicious means that people who aren’t acting deliberately and maliciously think they have nothing to reflect on/worry about in their own behavior. It’s much more useful to point out how unconscious bias works and that even extremely well-intentioned people are at risk for it and need to be actively working against it in ourselves.

          1. Blunt Bunny*

            It was deliberate he chose to repeatedly exclude them, he decided that they didn’t need to be there. The question is whether that’s because he racist/sexist or because he doesn’t know their roles or hasn’t been introduced to them etc.
            Unconscious bias is having problematic opinions that you weren’t necessarily aware were wrong. He has acted on his views this wasn’t a thought it was an action.
            If you want to be certain send an email saying “hey just to let you know that Jess and Bob are responsible for x and y and should be copied in on all emails and invited to the meetings.” You can add that you noticed that they have been left of a few times how he responds after that will tell you you need.
            Also if he forgets to thank someone reply all “And Jane! ”

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              That actually isn’t what unconscious bias is! You can know acts/opinions are wrong, and not realize you’re acting in ways that reflect that bias. That’s the whole idea of it. (For example, caring a lot about being diverse and inclusive with your staff and still giving people of color less feedback than you give your white staff, and not realizing you’re doing it, or realizing it and justifying to yourself as not wanting to nitpick or so forth.)

        2. Anonforthis*

          *shrug* I think that’s also an argument that gives malicious bigots a lot of plausible deniability. I also genuinely cannot fathom someone ‘accidentally’ congratulating a junior employee instead of their female boss, or ‘accidentally’ manually typing out lists that only include white men. There’s an awful lot of “I’m sure he didn’t mean it, give him the benefit of the doubt” around for clueless / malicious white straight dudes. I think your way is correct in *solving the problem* but I do in fact think John is behaving extremely deliberately and with malice.

          1. Observer*

            But, it doesn’t really matter whether it’s malicious or not. It matters that the bias is definitely there. So, no don’t give him the benefit of the doubt on that. But, whether it’s malicious or not, at this point you’re going to get much further by focusing on the behavior and pattern than on his motivations. Because his behavior MUST change.

            If you focus on whether there is malice, you get sidetracked. And so what? If he manages to convince you that it really is not malicious, and just unconscious bias at work, then what? Are you going to say “Oh, well then. Carry on” Of course not! So don’t even go down that road.

          2. Aquawoman*

            But you are buying into or at least perpetuating a false dichotomy, where people are either malicious or innocent. But implicit bias (IMO) is a much larger issue than explicit (malicious) bias. And since people don’t want to assume the worst about people, that means that instead of addressing the implicit bias and it’s very, very real effects, the focus gets shifted to John and his “innocence.”

            1. SarahTheEntwife*

              Yeah, I think in the sort of example in the letter, there’s a middle ground of John essentially only thinking that white men are important and thus only paying attention to them. He’s not necessarily going “Tanya worked on this, but I’ll leave her off”; but he may be going “who was in charge of this? Oh, Todd does Llama grooming so it must have been him” and completely brushing past the fact that Tanya is actually the one who was in charge of that project because Tanya is “that black girl” instead of Someone Important.

            2. Tinuviel*

              Agreed. A lot of people think they are very kind and fair and good of heart and would never intentionally discriminate on the basis of skin color or ethnic background. But if you aren’t proactive and very open-hearted and self-reflective, you can still internalize biased ideas and perpetuate biased actions and systems unintentionally. You don’t need to be evil to make thoughtless mistakes. We should be able to point out these mistakes easily but people hate to be called evil.

    13. Former Retail Manager*

      Am I the only one wondering if this issue could be resolved by setting up e-mail distribution lists? Project X updates/progress/thank you’s include Co-Workers A, B & C. Problem seemingly solved in my opinion.

        1. A*

          Agreed, but realistically – and unfortunately – OP might not actually be able to address the root problem. It’s a tall order to expect OP to successfully deconstruct & eliminate John’s bigotry (conscious or subconscious). Nor can they physically force escalation beyond a certain point.

          OP should do what they can to escalate this and make sure it is taken seriously. However, they should also get a plan in place to address the business need in the immediate.

      1. LW #4*

        We actually do have a list- I’m not sure why John wasn’t using one. It’s a lot easier to do #TeamName in outlook than it is to list everyone. (And everyone else uses those lists. It’s pretty rare that people type up everyone by hand.) We also have slack channels with all relevant members, and everyone can see who gets tagged on each code review.

        1. Observer*

          In that case, what this guy is doing is DEFINITELY a problem. You are absolutely NOT “over-reacting” or “overthinking” this.

        2. OfOtherWorlds*

          That really makes your co-worker’s actions look like deliberate and explicit bias rather than implicit bias, since doing the easiest task and using the list would result including everyone who needs to be included.

        3. Devil Fish*

          Holy shit. A senior dude in tech that doesn’t know how to use email properly/efficiently is a big problem.

          So, show of hands, is he typing the individuals in by hand because:

          1) he doesn’t know there are distros,
          2) he doesn’t know how to use distros
          or
          3) he is intentionally trying to exclude people from emails/projects/whatever?

          I would be so, so embarrassed if I was him and it was 1 or 2 but everyone thought it was 3. (This leaves aside implicit bias which is obviously an issue regardless of why he’s ignoring the distros.)

          1. LW #4*

            So, I have a few guesses. My best guess is a thought process something like “only the relevant people should be invited to meetings” + “programmers are all white and male” = “I should manually invite Bob and Tim, because the distro also has Emily and Raj and they’re probably not programmers”.

            He’s actually been at this company for a while- he’s just new to our team. And he asked me through text who everyone was, and I responded with everyone and their roles. So it’s not like he didn’t know, he just has selective memory.

            1. Tinuviel*

              This signals either REALLY strong implicit bias to the point where it’s affecting his ability to work and remember details that don’t align with his biases (“Emily and Raj couldn’t possibly be programmers, I’ll just go ahead and leave them out even though I have been informed of their roles”) OR it’s explicit bias.

              Either way this is so bad it’s affecting his work (as well as his colleagues) and really needs to be called out.

    14. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I’ve been out of college, and working in software development, since 1989. I do not see LW4 as sounding overly “enlightened”. Nor is the behavior that he’s pointing out something that never happens in IT, that he had to really stretch to come up with. Our field is actually pretty notorious for leaving women and minorities out in multiple ways.

      Perhaps you could even offer to do something useful for your new senior team member and comprise a email recipient list(s) of all relevant personnel so he will have it handy and nobody will risk being left out.

      You know what? I like this. Maybe John will even have an epiphany after he sees a list of female and POC names that he continually leaves out, and goes “wow. I might be a bigoted ass. I need to do better. Thank you, LW4!” Holding a mirror up to John under the guise of being helpful, what a wonderful idea! Do it, LW.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        ETA: and maybe copy some of the management on that email recipient list, too? You know, so they can look over the list and verify that it is correct? yeah, only for that purpose, I swear.

      2. Aquawoman*

        Yep, I’ve been on the job since 1991 and I think it’s super problematic. My initial reaction was the opposite of Bulldog’s, that the LW was giving him TOO much benefit of the doubt by saying it was a “coincidence.” It’s not really reasonable to believe that it’s a coincidence. What’s more likely is that he is unconsciously prioritizing the folks who are more like himself.

    15. Quill*

      Here’s the thing: if everyone has been there longer than John, they’re probably already on an email working group list.

      Not to say that a “hey John, quick tip, if you type Programming Group into the address line in Outlook, you’ll get everyone, I noticed that you’ve been leaving people out of your emails,” wouldn’t be my first strategy, but that’s just a ‘dealing with people who take embarassment/mistakes out on you’ worry on my part.

      If after that he kept leaving people off (or if there’s any reason to believe he was briefed on “just email the Programming Group as a whole”) then it would be pretty clearly deliberate even if he hadn’t given the credit to someone who was on leave rather than the person who did the work. As it is, I have a hard time giving him any benefit of the doubt here. At BEST, he’s seriously misinformed about who is doing the work and who needs what information.

    16. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

      Allow me to translate what you wrote here, Bulldog.

      “I am riddled with implicit bias that I am too lazy to correct. This new person at your work is likely also very biased and lazy. It makes me uncomfortable to be called out on that. Since we aren’t TRYING to be discriminatory, you shouldn’t be mean to us. Suggesting we are being discriminatory (even though we are) makes it sound like you think you are better than us. Don’t pretend to be enlightened. You’re not. We aren’t * actually * bigots. Our behavior just makes it seem like that. So, just come up with a system to prevent our laziness from letting our implicit biases further marginalize already disenfranchised groups.”

      OP – I would have project email groups set up. I would also create a document that lists roles. I would email it to John and say “you seemed confused about the project lead last time – congratulated Terry when it was actually Jennifer. It can be hard to get a handle on everyone’s roles when you are new! Wanted you to have this as a resource as you get settled into your role.” Continue to copy those he leaves out, continue to add in praise, and if with email groups and a role sheet he is STILL only acknowledging white dudes, 100% go to higher ups in the org. Because my guess is you can make it very clear who does what and he still will assume the white dudes are in charge and the POC and women are junior. I would just do the other things first so there is more concrete evidence that is isn’t just a “new guy oversight.”

    17. Jessie the First (or second)*

      If these issues are not important in the workplace, what on earth *is* important to you?

      I’m no fresh young college graduate. I’ve been in the work world for over 20 years. Someone who decided to give accolades to a man for the work a woman (the team lead, no less!) had done and who consistently excluded women and POC from communications would be a problem employee for me and would be walking on very, very thin ice if he didn’t get a handle on – and correct! – his bias issues immediately.

    18. ArtK*

      Old white guy chiming in; also one that just started a new job. I would be extremely embarrassed if I left a colleague off of an e-mail or invitation that they should have been on. One of my first priorities is figuring out who is who.

      LW4 is not some pseudo-enlightened green-behind-the-ears kid. As everyone else has said, this kind of behavior is no longer accepted in the workplace!. It may have been tolerated in the past, but no more. I think that’s a very worthwhile change. So instead of dissing the LW, perhaps you should think about getting with the rest of the working world and change.

    19. Jennifer*

      Sigh…

      Giving people like this the “benefit of the doubt” all the time is why we end up in these situations. It’s important to call this out and stop burying our heads in the sand, which is what people like you want everyone to do. One time could be a mistake, but every single time, leaving off the women and the minorities is not coincidence.

    20. FairPayFullBenefits*

      Well, on issues of race/gender/class, younger people do tend to be more aware… So yes, I do wish more older people were as enlightened as the “fresh college graduates” you’re trying to disparage.

    21. VictorianCowgirl*

      Your tone here is insulting and dismissive, and your advice of asking OP to not trust his own perception of reality in order to excuse someone displaying bigoted behavior is frankly alarming.

    22. Jadelyn*

      You know, it might be worth doing some self-interrogation into why your immediate response to “I think this white guy is (possibly unintentionally) perpetuating a specific type of microaggression against women and people of color he works with” is to be aggressively dismissive and bring OP’s age into this in order to further minimize the validity of their concerns.

      Like, consider: why is your knee-jerk response “give the white guy benefit of the doubt and snark at the person who’s noticed this pattern”? Why is your knee-jerk response not “that must be pretty hurtful for the (non-)recipients, being left off of things and credit for your work given to other people like that, let’s consider how this can be corrected”? Why is the benefit of the doubt going to the guy who’s doing something hurtful, and not the person who noticed what he’s doing?

      1. AKchic*

        Exactly.
        Why is white guy automatically good, and OP, who admits he is only white-passing (therefore, POC) mistaken and dismissed?
        It’s gaslighting.

        1. OfOtherWorlds*

          Op is not necessarily a white-passing POC. Someone who says “I look like a white dude” could also be a closeted trans woman. Or both white-passing POC and closeted trans woman for that matter.

    23. vanillacookies*

      If John is perfectly innocent in this situation, and everything the OP noticed is just bad luck and coincidence, then John will *want* to be informed that his mistakes may be perceived as being discriminatory, to prompt him to be more careful in the future.

      If John is not innocent in the situation, then obviously there’s a problem.

      In either case, pointing it out to a manager is the right course of action.

    24. Emily K*

      This is gaslighting. You’re not there, OP is. They’ve come to this conclusion after a period of observation during which a pattern emerged, not after a single isolated incident or two.

    25. Tisiphone*

      Does this company have an IT department? It’s unwieldy to have to add one person at a time as recipients to email instead of having user groups set up by team. How interesting that John isn’t using the user groups and keeps leaving the same people out.

  4. D'Arcy*

    OP4, props to you for noticing what John is up to and doing what you can to make sure your coworkers are getting due credit. This *definitely* sounds like intentional behavior on his part, and the fact that there isn’t anyone who appears to have the authority to shut him down more definitively is deeply unfortunate.

    1. Myrin*

      It makes me wonder what John’s goal here is, to be honest. Like. Does he think he can just permanently get away with this? OP has already caught onto what he’s doing, after only a few weeks, and I doubt the people who were actually affected by this haven’t noticed; especially since apparently OP has added “forgotten” team members multiple times already, publicly, which probably additionally alerted those who might’ve already suspected something but hadn’t quite put it together yet.

      He won’t be able to keep people out of meeting invites, for example, since it will become apparent very quickly when these people keep missing meetings they’d have to be at – it’s not like this is some nebulous, ambiguous low-key discrimination no one but the one affected person will realise is even going on; this is bound to blow up in his face in some way or another, and it probably won’t take long, either, if he’s being that blatant about it.

      1. BethDH*

        People’s unconscious bias can be remarkably strong. In fact, given how obvious he’s being, I do suspect he isn’t doing it “on purpose.” I have particularly seen a version where someone automatically mentally positions women/minorities in lower roles, regardless of their actual titles, so they leave them out of decision making meetings. It wasn’t “Juan is bad” but rather “Juan must be junior.”
        That doesn’t make it any better! I bring it up because it might change how OP handles it. It mean that it is worth the OP drawing his attention to the pattern or otherwise highlighting those people’s titles/roles or whatever else OP can devise given the work and relationships. He’s new, so you have a chance to avoid letting him reinforce his automatic mental hierarchy.

        1. Lily Rowan*

          Agreed — I’m pretty confident that John would never think he was doing this on purpose.

          And I think OP4 is doing just the right thing and in a great way, given all the dynamics.

        2. Van Wilder*

          I caught myself doing this once! I was brand new to the job and meeting with our IT support team. I realized I had elevated the tall, white man with a full head of hair. Once I started listening, I correctly inferred that the Latina woman was the supervisor.
          Epilogue: she became one of my best friends and allies at the company and the man turned out to be pretty incompetent.

        3. Zennish*

          This. It’s a reasonably common workplace bias to just blithely assume the white men in the room are doing the “real” work, and any women or minorities present are peripheral. It’s reprehensible, but not always consciously intentional.

        4. smoke tree*

          Yeah, I think it is pretty likely that John is just not making as much effort to remember the names/contributions of people he assumes to be less important. If you called him out on it, he would probably claim that he’s just bad with names or something.

        5. Jadelyn*

          This. My money’s on his being oblivious enough he doesn’t even realize he’s doing it. The human brain is a funny creature, and it can set up and map social hierarchies and assign people places in them that have no relationship to reality.

          I mean, I doubt John is twirling his mustache and going “muahahaha, I shall exclude Juan, Mary, and Cathy from these emails! That will show those uppity folks!”

          It’s just that, in his head, the list of “important people to include” doesn’t have Juan, Mary, and Cathy on it at all. So it doesn’t occur to him to make sure they’re included.

          Which, as you say, doesn’t make it okay – it still needs to be corrected! But if you charge in assuming the mustache-twirling scenario, John will go on the defensive, others will think OP is overreaching, it won’t go well. Whereas if you treat it like a mistake – a harmful mistake with pretty toxic origins, but a mistake nonetheless – and make it about the behavior rather than the motivations, you stand a better chance of success in getting the behavior changed.

        6. ChachkisGalore*

          Or they just don’t think of Juan at all. They think “who is leadership that belongs in this meeting? Joe, Jim, Bob and Dave – yup, that’s everyone”. It doesn’t occur to them to even consider or think about Juan when it comes to anything to do with leadership.

      2. ellex42*

        John working remotely makes his behavior not only more obvious, but more easily traceable and provable, since the OP is correcting/adding missing people on email lists and meeting invites. It’s much easier to get away with that kind of behavior when all the participants are in the same office.

        This is liable to blow up in John’s face before too much longer.

        1. LW #4*

          Yeah, this. I’m pretty glad that he’s remote, so there’s a record of everything. (And also because I really don’t want to have to talk to him face-to-face.)

          I doubt it’s gonna blow up, though. John’s getting better with this- I suspect the female lead talked to him. Maybe somebody else did too. I just realized that John and the male lead are the only two cis white men on the team.

      3. Lance*

        I don’t think he has a goal, because I don’t think it’s actually on his mind, even when OP is correcting it and adding in names. Someone would have to bring it up to him more directly, and I wonder if OP can get the project manager on-board at all? Just as a ‘hey, people have been getting left out of things in these instances, and I’ve been forwarding to them; do you want me to keep doing that?’ matter.

        Too subtle? I’m not sure, but then I’m also not sure how much clout, so to speak, OP has with the project manager yet.

        1. Quill*

          I mean, subtlety is my first stab at anything, but I’ve been a woman in junior roles in STEM for a while now. :)

        2. Claire*

          Maybe OP could say something to the project manager (and/or John) along the lines of, “Hey, I’ve noticed that Paloma, Amir, and Sarah haven’t been invited to the past three meetings. Aren’t they supposed to come? I thought that the meeting was for all of the Senior Teapot Designers, so I’ve been forwarding them the invites, but maybe I’m wrong—I wouldn’t want to keep accidentally sending them emails they don’t need!” It’s maybe a little passive aggressive, but it also gives John a little room to save face (“Oh, the meetings are supposed to be for all the Senior Teapot Designers? Silly me, I thought we were just discussing the Cast Iron Division so haven’t been alerting anyone not on that initiative.”)

          1. ket*

            Honestly, having worked with a few of these types, I would not leave the out of “I wouldn’t want to keep accidentally sending….” etc. Some of these types would say, “Yeah, it’s not really that important that they come” — and then just proceed to shut those folks out of doing their actual job. I think I’ve been there. Just… not invited, even though the job warrants it. Just, “Oh, don’t worry about that!” As if they’re being nice, reducing the workload, you know?

            Started a new job this week! doubled my salary! invited to more meetings :P

            1. Flash Bristow*

              Congrats on the new job and increased £££!

              (Sorry about the meetings, but think of the money… when I used to be a PA, frequently shouted at by hormonal boss, I’d smile and take it while thinking “each minute you’re bitching at me, you’re paying me £x to listen… la la…” )

              Hope the new role is good!

        3. ChachkisGalore*

          It’s really great that the LW is catching and pointing these out in the moment, and maybe it will be helpful (and I really hope the LW continues to do it), but I’m kind of doubtful that it resolve the main issue. I think the pattern would really need to be pointed out… Because if Jane is leadership in IT and is left off an invite by John, LW addresses it in the moment “hey Jane should be included on the Project X”. John probably thinks “got it, Jane involved in Project X”. However when working on Project Y and he needs to include IT leadership in a meeting he still doesn’t think of Jane as IT leadership, he just knows that she’s definitely involved in Project X.

          I really don’t think the LW is the right person to have that overall talk with John (unfortunately I don’t know who is based on the LW’s description of the team), but I still recommend pointing out the individual instances because it lays out the evidence, and if it happens enough maybe the pattern will catch the eye of someone who would be more appropriate to have that discussion. Or, hey – maybe the pattern would become apparent to John (I’m doubtful, because that would take an incredible level of self-awareness, but who knows!)

      4. sb51*

        Alas, he totally could permanently get away with this in a lot of companies, because if they don’t have someone like OP who says something, the only people saying anything are the left-out ones, who risk being seen as whiny/uppity/insert-stereotype-of-marginalized-group-here.

        1. Myrin*

          That’s why I said “[if] people keep missing meetings they’d have to be at” – obviously, if all of these meetings are of the “whoever has the time or feels like attending can do so but there’s no actual need” variety, it might well seem like the “forgotten” people just never feel like attending. But if they’re crucial parts of these meetings – and it sounds like the team isn’t super big, so that’ll probably happen more often than not -, it won’t be just them who will realise something is off sooner or later – and since John is remote, there’s always a nice papertrail showing that no, Juan and Angelica are not just always ignoring meeting invites, they never receive them to begin with.

        1. Myrin*

          That kind of argument would be my fear but then again, it’s very clearly in the company’s email data that these people were simply ignored by John, so this would only be a problem if no one ever brought it up to the missing people and someone higher-up just thought by themselves “wow, these guys feel like they never have to attend meetings, apparently”. Also, the others probably have track records of behaviour from before John arrived at the scene so if they were reliable beforehand, you’d be hard-pressed to prove that they’ve suddenly become less so, and coinciding with John’s arrival to boot.

          1. kt*

            You have more faith than I. Who is going to check the company’s email data? That’ll only come up in a lawsuit. And the story can always be spun, “Sereina looked really good until John came along — guess she just can’t keep up once we have a real professional in the group.”

            I’d want to set the narrative a bit by calling it out by name, politely, immediately. It prevents a later conversation of, “You, LW, didn’t think it was racist or sexist before. You only think so now that (some friction has come up). You’re changing your story because you’re defensive about your own problems.”

        2. CP*

          I’m a woman in tech , and I once had a hostile boss leave me off an email list of tech leads asking us for some written input by 1pm, to use in a meeting with his own boss at 2. (And there were only 5 of us.) This was part of a consistent pattern of exclusion. (And also a consistent pattern of asking for data dumps at the last minute to share with his own boss, because he didn’t actually know what was going on.)

          Somebody else forwarded it to me much later, and I sent the input (along with the forwarded email) to him around 1:15pm, without comment.

          My late input was mentioned 6 months later on my performance review.

      5. CP*

        I’m witnessing a similar situation at work right now, and you would not believe the mental contortions white male managers will go through to not see what’s staring them in the face.

    2. snowglobe*

      A suggestion for OP4 – does your company have an anonymous ethics line? There may be a way to report this behavior to someone in HR who would follow up on it. This kind of thing would be a very serious issue where I work, but first the higher ups would need to be made aware of the pattern.

    3. HarperC*

      I would also suggest that OP4 follow Allison’s advice and mention it, even in a low-key way, to the project manager. That person’s role is to make sure the people who need to be in meetings, etc are there.

      1. PharmaCat*

        There’s a lot of advocating for subtle responses, like sending distribution lists, or correcting after the fact, so as to manage John’s feelings, or not call him out. If he is so unaware / oblivious as to NOT realize this pattern of behavior, or is aware but doesn’t think others will notice – subtlety is not the way to go. Everyone would benefit if this were addressed directly. “Hey John, you seem to have a pattern of omitting or attributing incorrectly in your emails, meeting invitations and other communications. (Some might say it evens appeared targeted) – let me know if you need any help figuring out the team organization.”

        Attention to detail is a major part of a programmer’s job, so I would also wonder about his code quality.

        1. Lance*

          What we’re advocating is subtlety on the part of OP — a junior employee at the company, who doesn’t hold much influence. The ones with the power and standing to be more direct about the issue would be people above the OP (and, ideally, above John).

        2. Observer*

          Alison’s advice is NOT about coddling John, nor are most of the people who are advising low key or “subtle” responses worrying about poor John’s fee-fees.

          What they are concerned about is what will be effective and not damaging to the OP. I have no doubt that if the OP were higher up in the hierarchy, Alison’s advice would be far different – I know I would certainly be reacting differently. But I’m not going to advise someone that they NEED to do something that could put their employment at risk unless the situation is far more egregious AND that something has a really good chance of being effective.

    4. Milvus milvus*

      To be honest, it doesn’t sound intentional to me. It sounds more like John automatically categorises “white male names” as ‘relevant’, and “female or minority” as ‘support staff or otherwise not relevant; can be disregarded”. When LW 4 brings up the people he’s left out, he probably thinks “oh, yeah, of course that person worked on the project”, but he doesn’t think of it as being on the same level as white male work, so he doesn’t remember them the next time.

  5. Daisy*

    3: Surely their definition of ‘bold’ is what they’ve given you in the preceding line? ‘You stand tall in the face of adversity, are willing to voice an opinion and are firm in upholding company values.’ Doesn’t seem that confusing to me. A time when you spoke up about a problem or something like that.

    1. Media Monkey*

      Yeah, probably the fact that i am in advertising means i don’t think this is very weird! agencies always have things like thisi would say boldness would mean ensuring that your views (or the views of your clients if you have them) are heard, that you push back on unreasonable quests on behalf of your team, that you would push for what you thought was right.

        1. That One Person*

          This is why I usually veer towards my second or third response ideas: my first instinct is always a little “smart” in some sense :) (Glad I’m not the only one, definitely gave a snort-laugh at this)

    2. Detective Amy Santiago*

      That’s how I read it.

      And it’s a good thing for them to value. It means they don’t want a bunch of ‘yes men’.

    3. juliebulie*

      I think LW3 works for the same company as I do.

      Since the “values” part is just one section of the self evaluation, I put most of my effort into the other section(s) talking about my accomplishments.

      For the values, I pretty much parrot back the value description in the form of an affirmation (“I stand as tall as I can in the face of adversity, am eager to voice an opinion, and am firm in upholding company values.”) I will add an example or two if I can think of any, but I don’t kill myself over it.

          1. Gumby*

            Now I’m trying to find a way to combine boldness and the DPS quote “I’m exercising the right not to walk.” (For an eval I don’t have to do at a company for which I do not work…)

  6. Mike C.*

    I think it would send an interesting message for LW1 to block the personal account of her rather aggressive coworker. A few reasons – one, it immediately stops her from responding and tagging the CEO and two, if she actually needs to read he account, she can always log out or open twitter in an incognito tab. Also, it will allow you to better focus on that process improvement without constantly being tattled on.

    If questioned you can easily say that you were trying to stop the airing of dirty laundry in public until a more permanent process was established. Let’s face it, if this were a larger organization with more notoriety, it would get noticed and make things look pretty bad.

    1. Zombeyonce*

      No, no, no, don’t do this! Blocking a colleague because they’re pointing out ehat, in at least one case, is a pretty big mistake (the date mixup) is a really bad look for OP. They should be working to out a system in place that stops them from making substantive mistakes, not blaming someone else for pointing them out

      Yes, the person shouldn’t be tagging the CEO, but pointing out mistakes isn’t bad. Blocking them is adversarial and is way out of proportion. And I’m sure the CEO would hear about it from them!

      1. valentine*

        trying to stop the airing of dirty laundry in public
        Yes, and the laundry isn’t the errors, but why this person has it in for OP so bad they’re willing to tweet the corporate account about it.

      2. Mike C.*

        You can’t do real, long term process improvement without containing current issues. Allowing this coworker to continue to do that makes any error 100 times worse and not taking action is the bad idea.

        It doesn’t matter that it’s “adversarial”. The issue of being adversarial started with the coworker and it needs to stop yesterday. It’s trivial to block the coworker and it’s trivial to unblock the coworker. No harm is done except for this idea that stepping indecisively to stop a coworker from literally making the company look bad is somehow seen as uncomfortable, therefore bad.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          No. The action the OP can take it is addressing it directly. Advising her to do something that would make her look incredibly bad (and like she just wanted to block out the complaints rather than responding maturely to them) and detract from the real issue of the coworker’s behavior is a disservice to her.

        2. VictorianCowgirl*

          I agree with you here, with the caveat that I would loop management in before blocking, AND talk to the coworker and let her know I’ve blocked her, so that the optics don’t appear that OP is trying to hide her mistakes.

          I imagine the coworker would just make another account and do the same again, however.

    2. MommyMD*

      I think blocking could backfire on OP. it takes it up a notch. Just proofread well and don’t give the second grader ammo.

    3. Lady Blerd*

      Blocking would make things much, much worse, it is in fact a category of Twitter drama in itself, I’ve seen it have a negative impact on high profile individuals in other social media. LW1 needs to deal with this one on one with that colleague.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        There is just no way “the company has blocked certain employees from the company twitter feed” appears like the action of a professional organization that knows what it’s doing.

        1. NerdyKris*

          Agreed, it says “We’re so fragile that we cannot tolerate dissent in any form, and this refusal to acknowledge mistakes probably extends to the quality of our products”.

          Handle it in house, not by continuing to fight in front of customers.

          1. Massmatt*

            I agree blocking the jerky coworker is the wrong move but disagree that what she is doing is “dissent” or that the organization or the OP are “refusing to acknowledge mistakes”. The coworker is being an immature jerk, let’s not dignify her awful behavior.

              1. Devil Fish*

                Wait, are Twitter blocks posted publicly in the feed somewhere? Did my evil stalker ex get a notification when I blocked him? Did my followers get a notification when I blocked my evil stalker ex? What the hell, Twitter?!

                1. Beehoppy*

                  No, but she would probably notice after a few days that she wasn’t seeing any posts from the company, would go to their page to check if any new tweets had gone out and then would see she had been blocked. SHE could then screenshot the block notice and share that publicly.

          1. NerdyKris*

            But the “typo” in this case is the wrong date for an event, which is a major error. To an outside observer, blocking the employee says “We will block you for pointing out a mistake, and this mentality might extend internally as well”.

            Your method is pointlessly adversarial and public for something that is best handled with a private “When you see mistakes, please follow this procedure.”

          2. MommyMD*

            Wrong event dates are not typos. They are factually incorrect information. It’s a big deal. Especially when posting this is your JOB.

          3. pancakes*

            Unless and until the CEO blocked the coworker as well, they’d be able to continue contacting the CEO publicly. You don’t think this coworker would immediately tweet at the CEO they were blocked from the company account as soon as they noticed?

      2. Mike C.*

        And how many other times have you seen it have little to no effect as a way to stop people from harassing someone over pointless things?

    4. smoke tree*

      This coworker already sounds pretty adversarial, so I wouldn’t want to give her the opportunity to double down on her complaints to management. I think the best strategy here is unfailing graciousness and professionalism. Don’t feed her aggression, make it boring for her to come after you.

    5. Annette*

      Have to disagree with this approach. Why be passive aggressive when you can resolve the situation directly. Alison provided a script to do this. Using words face to face is often more effective.

  7. Tinuviel*

    #3 My company has a similar “value” called “courageous”. I think we do it better because (1) it’s been consistent for some time and didn’t suddenly show up on our review (!) and (2) the way they describe it sounds like it encompasses everything from speaking up when you see a safety issue or discrimination, to sharing your unnecessary thoughts in every meeting despite people telling you to shove it.

    So while ours has a similar “stand in the face of adversity” phrase, it follows it up with “able to deal with difficult issues and relationships respectfully” which I think gives a better idea of what kind of behaviors they’re looking for. I would give examples of things like having to explain a mistake or setback, pointing out concerns proactively, examples of leadership or collaboration (unless you have another value for this)… Really this sort of thing just shows you’re good at BSing, I mean you’re creative on the spot (a valuable skill imo)

    1. Jamie*

      That’s really interesting. Maybe due to my own professional scars from having to slay dragons with less than ethical bosses the requirement for courage would put me off.

      I totally get what you’re saying, but as I try to create an atmosphere where people are comfortable speaking up about safety or procedural issues, working somewhere where it requires bravery to do so is a red flag for me.

      1. Jadelyn*

        Huh. I think that’s probably something that’s heavily influenced by personal experience – for me, speaking up about issues is *always* something that takes courage, even when I know the person is going to be receptive and has a history of taking things seriously and preventing blowback on someone for speaking up.

        Like, I’ve been here 5 years, I’ve been told outright that I’m a linch-pin of my team, I’m well-liked, I report directly to our VP and am included in high-level, confidential projects. I’ve *got* capital built up. I know I do.

        But when I recently needed to bring a serious issue to his attention, I was literally shaking with nerves at the start of the conversation. For me, it genuinely took courage to speak up, even in pretty much the safest environment possible (short of being, y’know, the CEO or owner myself). So yeah, “courage” or “boldness” is incredibly subjective – what takes no effort at all for one person might be a supreme act of bravery for another.

  8. Princess Deviant*

    No. 5

    Alison, can I ask:

    And frankly, you might able to say that now, but given the likely disparity in power and influence, you’d want to adapt based on what you know of the politics in your workplace and your dynamic with John.

    Why is it not ok to call out perceived sexism and racism from someone higher up in the organisation?

    I don’t have a great track record with authority (not intentionally!) because I tend to speak my mind and I guess that comes across as critical, but for something like this I’d feel strongly that it wad the right thing to do. I’m just curious why the politics of work don’t allow for this type of calling out?

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      I don’t think Alison is saying that’s it’s not ok to call out perceived sexism and racism from someone higher up. She’s suggesting that you have to understand the politics and dynamic of your workplace to know the right approach or method for calling someone out. For example, it may be more appropriate to call in someone higher in the hierarchy instead of calling them out.

      1. Princess Deviant*

        Ok! That makes sense. Understanding the politics of the organisation – well, I struggle with that. That might be why I’m seeing it in black and white. I’d just go ahead and say something to him without thinking it might be better to consult a higher up first.

        Plus, if he’s sexist then I guess he’d completely ignore me, a woman lower in ‘rank’ than him.

        I do still think that this shouldn’t matter, because – hello! – sexism and racism!, but the fact that it does is part off the overall problem.

        1. JessaB*

          Also sometimes, you want to keep your job or keep a civil atmosphere and being junior if you make the wrong kind of stink, you can have a lot of backlash you don’t want.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            This. People are allowed to consider their ability to eat next month, even in the face of those happy to make impassioned speeches from the comfort of their parents’ couch.

            1. 1.0*

              “even in the face of those happy to make impassioned speeches from the comfort of their parents’ couch.”

              I’m very confused by this — I’m sure you’re not saying “caring too much about sexism and racism is childish and for children” but I’m not sure what you ARE saying.

              1. Allypopx*

                I don’t think it’s the best way to put it, but I think the idea is “it’s very easy to be moralistically black and white from a perspective where you don’t have to consider the real consequences of living in an imperfect world,” which people do when they argue online, because it’s easy to be idealistic when you aren’t actively and currently in a situation. Not that it’s childish or people who do this don’t, in their actual daily lives, experience nuance.

                1. Jadelyn*

                  This. The point isn’t that it’s childish, it’s that it’s one thing to tell people to hold their line in the abstract, and another entirely to expect people to risk their livelihoods in practice. (And, for better or worse, this tendency largely shows up in people who have less to risk themselves, such as people living under the safety of a family’s financial support.)

                  For example, when I was in college and my younger brother was in high school, still living at home, developing his first political sensibilities, he tried to take me to task one day about the fact that I shopped at Walmart for necessities for my dorm room. I got this impassioned speech, all, “I thought you cared about their awful labor practices! Why would you shop there? You’re betraying your principles!”

                  At which point I said “Look, dude. Principles are for people who can afford them. The rest of us have to make do with what we can afford. Come back and yell at me about this when you’re a college student trying to make a dollar stretch to last the semester, and we can talk about it then.”

              2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

                They’re saying that a lot of times, the people who don’t understand the concept of picking your battles have a safety net they can or currently are resting upon.

              3. Falling Diphthong*

                As Allypopx inferred, that telling people to blow up their jobs for the sake of calling something out is easy to assert if you have a safety net always held under you. And that usually that safety net is your parents, who make sure no consequences of your actions rebound too hard onto you. Many people do not have that safety net, and acting like it’s immaterial to one’s willingness to call things out is naive.

                (A good part of the problem in this letter is the lack of a senior person to whom one can point out “For the last 8 meetings, Joe has forgotten the 1/4 of the team who are not white men; this is not a good look for the company.” So you’re left with how a very new and very junior person without much capital can correct a more senior person, and the answer is very carefully, with a nuanced view of how power works within your company. If you want things to change, rather than to just know you are right.)

                1. IV*

                  The PM is the senior person here. He or she has responsibility for the success of the project and having a team that works well together without people being left out is a big part of that. Just because the PM didn’t do your performance review doesn’t mean they aren’t a manager.

                2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

                  But, IV, it also means they aren’t writing John’s performance review — in other words, their ability to get him to change is not the same as a personnel manager’s would be.

        2. Tinuviel*

          Thinking positively, it’s kind of like how at OldJob I might choose to bring an issue like this to Boss Lady’s attention rather than handle it myself, or even anyone in the 2 ranks in between. Boss Lady was a straight-up boss and was always smooth and professional and kind, and when she said something was wrong, it put the fear of dog into people. Plus she could talk to the other Boss People and root that rot out.

          So picture you trying to whack prejudice from your awkward angle of horizontal-but-junior. Now picture Athena with her spear Final Smash-ing it from above.

          1. Quill*

            I had a grandboss like that a couple jobs ago and I’m grinning just thinking about what would have happened if we had something similar happen and she’d gotten wind of it. Fear of Dog indeed.

          2. Jadelyn*

            …I’m now picturing the great-grandboss I wrote about the other day (vehemently assuring me that despite being the youngest on my team and a former admin, she would NOT allow anyone to try to give me admin work when our current admin leaves) as one of those classical Greek statues of Athena, spear in hand, ready to smite. Awesome.

        3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          I find this article to be a super helpful way of breaking down “call out” culture: https://thebodyisnotanapology.com/magazine/6-signs-your-call-out-isnt-actually-about-accountability/

          I was definitely trained in call-out culture when I was in college (I was a student organizer). As I get older, I’ve found the black-and-white, super direct call-out is often a corrosive, destructive, or self-defeating strategy. As I learn more about hierarchies and office politics (which I’m still learning, because white-collar norms are kind of a foreign world to me), I came to realize that sometimes we need a wider array of tactics to pursue the same goals. It also makes me think a little more deeply about the outcome I want to achieve, and oftentimes a straight-forward call-out may not be the most effective tactic to get to my desired outcome.

          1. Jadelyn*

            Thanks for the link! And agreed re looking for the most effective way to get a desired outcome, rather than taking a moral absolutist way instead.

            Out of curiosity – have you had difficulty reconciling effectiveness with anger? One of the issues with tone-policing is that oppressed people have a right to be upset or angry at what you’re doing and how it affects them – but anger isn’t always the most effective way. How can you say “yes, but that’s not going to be helpful here” without it being (or at least coming off as) tone-policing? It’s just something I’ve been struggling with lately.

            1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              Absolutely! This is probably not a great answer, but I generally avoid trying to talk someone out of their anger. Usually that anger is totally justified, and I think it’s helpful for others to feel the full force of it sometimes.

              Sometimes it helps if I share my feelings about what’s happening. I used to be angry and more call-out prone when I was younger, but I found it only made me feel burned out and still frustrated/angry. It also didn’t help me figure out what to do when I legitimately wanted to preserve a relationship. Now, I often say I laugh otherwise I would be screaming/crying all the time—but I realize that’s jaded/cynical. I just found that anger, for me, could be super totalizing in a way that hurt me more than it hurt others. There are certainly folks who find strength and perseverance in their anger, and I would not want to deprive them of that source of strength.

              So I only offer guidance on alternative approaches when asked, or if I have a report whose anger is hurting them. I acknowledge that the situation is rage-inducing, unfair, and not ok. I let them vent if that’s what they need, and I tell them I’m happy to help talk through strategies at any time. But it’s a hard needle to thread, and I suspect I’m not doing it as effectively or helpfully as I wish I could.

            2. lazuli*

              Jadelyn, I’ve been trying to work out the same thing. The premise I’m currently working on is that people get to be angry/upset about their *own* oppression and should not be tone-policed, but anyone with any privilege in any given situation needs to *use* that privilege to speak in ways that are strategic and effective. (And people are who are personally affected certainly can choose strategy over anger, but they shouldn’t be scolded or ignored if they don’t.)

              So, basically, as a cishet white able-bodied educated woman, I get to be plain ol’ angry at sexism and sarcastic and scathing if I want to be, but I need to consider my words a LOT more when I’m speaking up about other oppressions.

              A lot of this thinking came about because a lot of POC have complained that righteous white people often burst into a conversation about racism, inflame the conversation by insulting anyone who said anything racist, and then leave the POC to do the emotional labor of cleaning up their mess. So I try to avoid doing that.

          2. Anonforthis*

            Sure. But isn’t it rather sickening to have to dance around a guy who has already demonstrated he considers you a lesser kind of human? It always seems to be minorities who have to do the emotional labour of ‘calling in’ and ‘reaching out’ and ‘building bridges’ with people who view them with contempt.

            1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              Yes! It’s sickening and frustrating, and it’s despicable that those in positions of less power are asked to carry the emotional baggage of a person (and the system that creates that person) who is actively subordinating them or participating in their marginalization. In situations like this, I especially appreciate allies who take on the labor of “calling in.” Sometimes I will explicitly ask those allies to take on that labor. And of course there are always people who don’t merit the time/energy of a call-in instead of a call-out. One of the things I struggle with is figuring out how to live within a society with so many structural inequalities while dealing with the everyday interpersonal interactions that reinforce those structures.

      2. kittymommy*

        Yep. It is also sometimes more effective and better received by the offender from a higher-up. Most (if not all) are going to bristle at an accusation of racism/sexism, but when this charge is coming from a person with authority it is a lot more likely to be taken more seriously and worked on than if the charge comes from a newer, less senior colleague.

    2. Gaia*

      I don’t think it’s that it isn’t okay, but that the OP is new and in ajunior role and those combined mean there may be less capital available to the OP. Ideally this wouldn’t matter, but sometimes issues like this are heard better from someone more established or more senior.

    3. LurkNoMore*

      But are you 100% sure it’s sexism and/or racism?
      New guy has only been there a few weeks and he works remotely. Maybe he hasn’t gotten all of the names down? I took over an account a year ago that probably has 35 different contacts – I’m sure it took me more than a few weeks before I was thanking and replying to the correct people.
      I’d continue to monitor and if the exclusions continue, then call it out.
      And being Junior, I’d make sure I had documentation backing my accusation – which is what it will be – or this could easily backfire on you.

      1. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

        If you can’t figure out the person you are praising (a man) was out on vacation for a week and not the actual team lead (a women) and you’re excuse is “I’m new not bigoted”, maybe that’s still a clue you shouldn’t be in the role you’re in.

      2. Jedi Squirrel*

        Bulldog already asked this up above, and received many responses.

        Consistently leaves out women.

        Sounds like sexism to me.

        Consistently leaves out POC.

        Sounds like racism to me.

      3. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        Why do you have to be 100% sure it’s bigotry to point it out? Is it not a problem that he’s failing to loop people in unless you have smoking gun proof that it’s because he’s a bigot?

      4. Massmatt*

        The OP detected a consistent pattern over a short period of time. Racism and sexism exist, they are real, and this sort of “are you absolutely SURE?” response makes people second guess their experience and perpetuates the problem.

      5. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

        If you deliberately stomp on my foot, it’s cruel and my foot hurts. Now get off my foot.

        If you accidentally stomp on my foot, it’s careless and my foot hurts. Now get off my foot.

        If your culture prides itself on stomping on other people’s feet, well, we’re in my culture now and we don’t stomp on people’s feet here. Also, my foot hurts. Now get off my foot.

        Please note than all cases end with “…my foot hurts. Now get off my foot.” Intent isn’t the point here. The point is if you are told that your actions cause harm to someone else, and you can stop doing those actions, you STOP DOING THOSE ACTIONS.

        (I wish I could remember where I first read this analogy. Also, where did this soapbox come from?)

      6. Observer*

        The pattern is pretty stark and it is totally NOT consistent with generally not getting to know everyone yet. It IS consistent with bias, whether unconscious or not. To the extent that it really does not matter anymore if it’s conscious or not. IT HAS TO STOP.

        He’s already done damage and will continue to do so if he’s not stopped.

        So, the question becomes WHAT the OP should / can do, not WHETHER something should really be done.

      7. Sacred Ground*

        I had a similar thought: speaking up about problems at work, especially safety issues, should not require courage or boldness, it should be a matter of course.

        If speaking up requires courage, then it’s because the employee has reason to be afraid of doing so. I’ve worked at places that definitely made it scary to speak up and places that made it easy. Of course when you’re new you don’t know which one you’re working for since they all claim to be the latter.

      8. Tinuviel*

        Even better if you’re not 100% sure. Because who would want to do something that could be perceived as racist/sexist?? Oh dear. That would be so embarrassing. Someone should let poor John know before he damages all the relationships in his new department so he can apologize and repair them!

    4. Cranky Neighbot*

      It’s fine. It may have consequences that people do not want to deal with. For example, if you’re a woman and you comment on sexism, you may find yourself the target of (more) sexism (than usual). Also, there might be more effective ways to handle it than talking back right when it happens, like going to HR or quietly supporting a coworker.

  9. Observer*

    #1 – Your coworker is acting like a jerk. Full stop.

    On a totally separate note:

    I’m a bit taken aback at your attitude towards the errors themselves. Now it could be that your volume of tweets is high enough that 3 errors in 6 months really is not bad, but you would have to have a fairly high volume for that to be true.

    More importantly, two of those errors were actually fairly serious, and you should be thinking about how to prevent them from happening again. Providing incorrect information in your social media feed is a sure fire way to make the whole feed useless and quite possibly damage the brand. It doesn’t matter how progressive your organization is, nor how “conversational” or “playful” the tome of the account it. The information you present NEEDS to be rock solid.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Yeah, I’m slightly torn because the coworker is behaving abominably. But it also sounds like OP may be making errors that merit review from someone higher up the line, although we can’t really know that without more context. The coworker is absolutely doing the wrong thing, but the complaint may have a grain of merit. (And if it doesn’t have any merit, then it’s also ok to shake it off, block her, and ignore her.)

    2. Massmatt*

      Interesting, I don’t expect the same accuracy and detail from tweets as from say, advertisements, which often contain errors. Social media is supposed to be fast and informal, and volume can be high. It seems as though the coworker is making a big deal out of very little.

      1. TL -*

        Getting the dates wrong twice is concerning! A formatting error isn’t that big of a deal if it’s rare, or a typo, but getting dates wrong is a big deal and having it happen twice in six months should merit concern on the LW’s part.

        1. Dragoning*

          It sounded to me like the two date errors were about the same events they mixed up which makes it almost feel like one error to me that would need one correction if they happened closely to each other.

          I’m a bit torn, but I don’t think I’d pillory a brand twitter account for that one.

          1. Jem One*

            One date mix up and one formatting error? In six months? I would barely be bothered to be honest. If OP’s only tweeting once a month, then that might be a problem, But if she’s tweeting daily, that’s not even an issue. Delete the incorrect tweet, tweet with the correct info, move on.

          2. Ask a Manager* Post author

            You might not be concerned as a follower of the account, but as the company they’re tweeting on behalf of? They should be concerned. When you’re putting out public communications for a company, you cannot get details like dates wrong. It’s a big deal. If I were the manager, I’d expect that it happening once would have spurred the OP to make sure there was a system to avoid it in the future. The second time would really concern me.

            (This in no way excuses the coworker’s behavior, which is absurd. But the OP needs to figure out a better system for avoiding errors.)

            1. Jem One*

              Hi Alison, I get what you’re saying, but I also feel like this a similar situation to the boss who cross-examined their employees over minor mistakes (posted on August 21st).

              In that one you pointed out that people are human, and humans make mistakes and that sometimes there’s no reason other than “I am human and I missed it.”

              Implementing a system to avoid this may be someone checking every tweet they send out, which could be possible, or it could completely unworkable, depending on the frequency of tweets and workload of the team. OP should definitely check that this isn’t a pattern of behaviour (which would depend on how often their tweeting) but if they are tweeting every day, I would say a couple of errors in a six months falls into the category of being human and occasionally making a mistake.

              It doesn’t mean the company should not care, but I also don’t think it necessarily means that OP is doing anything significantly wrong – sometimes mistakes happen and there’s no way to avoid every single one of them.

              1. Jamie*

                For me it would be different if the OP’s tone was along the lines of acknowledging how serious the errors with dates were and that she was doing XY or Z to prevent that … the wording here reads to me as minimizing the mistakes as nbd and it would concern me.

                It’s not an either/or situation. The co-worker is completely out of line with her responses (and I’m super curious as to the responses of the managers and their CEO to her doing this) but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a serious issue just because it’s being addressed in an OTT way.

                1. Allypopx*

                  Yes! Mistakes happen but these ARE big errors and the OP not understanding that would make me question their judgment about their job overall.

                2. fhqwhgads*

                  I’m still torn. I think her point…can be read as minimizing but also the issue of the twitter being super casual, to me, is relevant. Like, if the coworker had emailed or called or used internal company comms and said “hey delete that tweet and reissue, the dates are flipped”, it seems like OP could’ve easily done it…or even done something casual with a retraction tweet – make a joke, self deprecating, something on brand – and it’s NBD. Not that tweeting a wrong thing doesn’t matter – it does, but in this context it sounds like maybe it’s very easily and quicky fixable without the company really looking bad at all. But when you’ve got replies from within and tagging the CEO, now you all look dysfunctional. I’m not saying it’s not a serious issue, but I think it may be a way less serious issue than if it hadn’t also been called out in the way it was. But again it depends on if this account tweets once a month, week, day or multiple times a day. Volume makes a massive difference here.

              2. Pink Polish*

                The OP is making errors externally to the company, “I am human and I missed it.” doesn’t cut it for public statements (including tweets), depending on the company the first mistake is a fire-able offense. 2 wrong dates in 6 months is a pattern.

              3. Ask a Manager* Post author

                People are human and make mistakes, of course. That’s why the first mistake wouldn’t concern me so much as long as the OP took it seriously. But the second mistake of the same type would make me worry about whether she was being as careful as she needed to be. The fact that these are public communications is the issue — they need to be accurate. (For example, if I were the client of a communications firm that had two date-related mistakes in my social media in six months, I’d ask for someone else to manage my account and might even consider firing the firm. I don’t think the OP is tweeting on behalf of a client — and I would not fire a direct employee for this — so it’s a different context, but I say this to drive home the point that this stuff can really matter.)

                1. Zillah*

                  It sounds like they were the same mistake, though, not two unrelated events – i.e., mixing up two events rather than getting one event wrong and then a second event wrong a month later.

              4. cmcinnyc*

                Publicly promoting an event, and putting *the wrong date* on that event, is a serious error, not a minor mistake! I do events sometimes for both my job and in my personal life and THE DATE and the time and the venue are critical, critical information. Especially because the intended audience isn’t always paying close attention–the event is one of many things they might or might not choose to attend. You don’t know if people will see updates or corrections. When I mess up the date on an internal calendar invite for a meeting, it’s no big deal because I see these people all day and know they’ll see my fix. External people? I’m going to have to call and make sure people got the update. Social media? It’s just in the wind. I can’t effectively fix it.

              5. Red 5*

                Completely agreed here. This is my field, and I watch what other companies like mine are doing.

                In my world, what the OP is describing is absolutely in the category of “I am human and I missed it.” There are processes both individual and company wide that could be implemented to stop it, but they’ll happen again sometimes and it’s how you recover from them that matters more than anything else.

                Part of my job is posting to social media about upcoming events. I have absolutely tweeted out something with the wrong date and had to correct it/delete the tweet/issue a “Sorry, there was a mixup.” And dealt with the DM’s we got about “wait, your website says…”

                It depends on the events, the audience, how many events you host, how high profile the events were, how much they cost (if they cost) and on and on before I would even begin to cast any aspersions about how big a deal this was. Whether this is a problem and if the OP should be concerned about it beyond normal measures of “I made a mistake and I don’t intend to do it again if I can help it” is up to their manager to determine, because they’re the only ones with the full picture.

                The major thing I would suggest to the OP is finding a social media management program that they like and could use to save tweets as “drafts.” Then always write your tweet, save as a draft, and come back to it in 2-5 minutes to re-read it before you hit post. That usually works for me so that I actually see it fresh and find anything that might need to be checked (dates, names) and anything that might be just a typo that you don’t notice right away.

                As for their co-worker, I don’t even know. If this was happening to me I would have gone to my manager after the first one and said “this is absurd, and we both realize this, please tell me you’re going to handle it.” Because it is, and I think it’s a management job to handle.

                1. Zillah*

                  It depends on the events, the audience, how many events you host, how high profile the events were, how much they cost (if they cost) and on and on before I would even begin to cast any aspersions about how big a deal this was. Whether this is a problem and if the OP should be concerned about it beyond normal measures of “I made a mistake and I don’t intend to do it again if I can help it” is up to their manager to determine, because they’re the only ones with the full picture.

                  Agreed – and also, along these lines, my experience is that the bigger the event is, the more communication there is about it and the less likely people are to mark it on their calendar based on a single tweet.

            2. Approval is optional*

              But we don’t know she isn’t: she wasn’t seeking advice on an error minimisation system, so why assume her failure to mention one means that one doesn’t exist (or that one isn’t being developed)? People are making a number of assumptions about the OP’s situation, and then upbraiding the OP based on those assumptions. So the poor OP goes through the comments to see if there are other useful suggestions for dealing with her ‘difficult’ coworker, and finds comment after comment (often written in less than polite terms) telling her that she’s ‘wrong’ to think certain things, criticising her work ethic and her attitude etc. Not cool.

              1. Jimming*

                100% agree. OP wrote in about how to deal with her passive-aggressive coworker. If she wanted advice on managing social media she would have asked for that. We don’t have information to know if the mistakes even impacted anything. Shouldn’t we trust the OP that it’s not a big deal in this context? Also her manager clearly knows about it due to the nosy coworker and I assume would have addressed it with her if it was an issue.

              2. Ask a Manager* Post author

                I think it’s that the mistakes impact how she should go about addressing the (much more egregious) coworker worker. If the mistakes weren’t such a big deal, they wouldn’t be as much of a factor. But because they kind of are, she has to be careful not to look like she’s minimizing that when she deals with the coworker issue.

                1. Approval is optional*

                  But why assume she is going to minimise, rather than giving her the benefit of the doubt and assuming she isn’t? And sure, the seriousness of the errors will have an impact on how best to deal with the coworker, but most comments from the peanut gallery have focussed on the errors, not how to deal with the coworker in the context of the errors (in fact I’d hazard a guess the majority of comments don’t even mention the coworker). The comments have ranged from constructive advice on error minimisation to downright mean (IMO) personal comments, but all of them are based on assumptions, (and only one or two seem to be based on the assumption that the OP is managing the error issue appropriately), because we have basically zero information about the mistakes. We don’t actually even know they are kind of a big deal – we can make a reasonable assumption they are based on our experience, but it is still an assumption.

                2. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  Because she specifically says she doesn’t think it’s a big deal in the letter.

                  But my intent was never to belabor this or drag the OP over the coals for it, only to point out that it will impact how she addresses the situation with the coworker.

          3. Colette*

            If I checked the twitter feed and made plans to attend an event that didn’t happen because the company’s twitter account was wrong, that would negatively affect my view of the brand. It would be like making plans to attend your friend’s wedding only to find out that they told you the wrong dayé

            1. Dragoning*

              I would assume this would be corrected at—ideally very quickly with a note about it. And the way i’m Used to seeing promotion on Twitter, events are mentioned definitely more than once.

              1. Colette*

                A lot of times things like dates are copied – so if you get it wrong once, you’re probably going to look at the first tweet when you type the second one instead of looking at the correct source.

            2. Devil Fish*

              I assume there was some amount of notice though, right? Like these events aren’t being posted the dayé of? And the tweet was corrected the same dayé or maybe the next dayé, yes?

        2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          If the LW is tweeting several times a day in response to direct @s or with pre-approved advertising images, then those do not need management preapproval.

          But I would say that tweets introducing new dates (e.g. “Our new Double-Handled Teapot range launches on 10/5!”) are the kind of thing that absolutely have to be correct. So there would be a difference for me if it was that kind of tweet, or if it was a reply to a customer query (“When do the new teapot designs come out?” “10/5” “oops sorry it’s 10/5 for double handles but our new range of single handles will be released at Halloween”).

          Tweets can’t be edited, only deleted and replaced. If coworker has the tweets on notification and spots the error quickly, she could quickly tell LW and get her to delete the tweet before anyone interacts with it. Coworker’s current behaviour is so aggressive I wonder whether there have actually been more errors than LW recalls, which coworker previously dealt with more discreetly. Is LW the only person with access to the Twitter account?

          1. Bagpuss*

            I think it would be reasonable for OP to suggest this – explicitly ask the coworker to inform her directly and privately if she spots an error, so that the twet can be ‘corrected’ (which as you say, means deleting and replacing, and could also include an additional tweet apologising for the error, particualrly if the timing means that others are likely to have interacted with it. )

            OP – would it be worth you e-mailing your coworker (cc-ing the CEO and others that she routinely copies in) suggesting this?

            (I personally would also be tempted to suggest to my boss that they hand over the twitter account to obnoxious coworker, and wash my hands of it entirely, but I appreciate that you may now want to do this or have the standing to make it happen. But you could consider suggesting it, as coworker clearly takes such an active interest in it!)

        3. MatKnifeNinja*

          I have to manage my company’s Instagram, Twiiter and Facebook accounts. These are the clients preferred way to get dates and information about events.

          My boss would would be livid if I had that many errors. It’s one thing if Chet gives you the wrong date by accident. It’s a whole other when the mistake is a typo, or a mix up on your part.

          Weird typo, goof in formatting…I’ve been there. Putting “Coming this Thursday, 9/13/2019…” or “This Friday, 9/14/19”, that is not a little thing to my boss. In fact, I got this part of the job dumped on me because the previous coworker was making mistakes about once a month.

          The other coworker is being an utter, horrible twit for no good reason. But OP needs to up her proofing game.

          My niece’s high school teacher was ranked over the coals for posting wrong dates and times a school functions via the class Twitter account. (Social media is a thing. Most parents prefer Twitter for a heads up information in my district.)

      2. Grapey*

        Social media being fast and informal is an argument for why it should be MORE correct, not less. I hate it when tweets/posts are wrong, or don’t have all the information like a link to a signup or a list of tour dates etc.

        “Fast” means your users are going to make snap decisions, and they need correct information to do so.

      3. MommyMD*

        Tweets ARE advertisements when coming from a company page. If someone keeps getting it wrong, especially event dates, I’d replace them.

      4. Observer*

        I don’t expect perfection. But any time you give people incorrect information that could lead them to take the wrong action that’s concerning. So, the OP needs to take this seriously and come up with a way to reduce the chances that this will happen again.

        That’s a good idea all on its own. It also puts them in a much better place to counteract the obnoxious way that CW is handling it.

      1. Jamie*

        Where are you getting this from? People are discussing how mistakes should be handled and proper reactions because they are going to happen.

        Everyone is going to make mistakes and everyone is going to work with people who make mistakes – that’s why knowing how to address them professionally is a big deal.

        1. Antilles*

          The magnitude of the mistakes matter too. Without more context, we can’t say for certain…but getting a date wrong in public communications (i.e., read by clients, donors, etc) can be a really big issue.

      2. fposte*

        I think we’ve all made mistakes before. But do you want your surgeon to say “Wow, it’s fantastic that no one here has ever made a mistake before!”

        There’s an acceptable error rate for most jobs. The fact that humans are fallible doesn’t mean that it’s okay if you only crash the occasional Airbus. Admittedly most of us won’t kill people with errors, but that still doesn’t mean there’s no such thing as too many mistakes.

        1. Kaaaaaren*

          Are you actually comparing the mistakes a surgeon or pilot could make in their jobs to a tweet with the wrong date on it? Yikes.

          1. Eleanor Konik*

            They’re making the point that “context matters.” They’re explicitly NOT saying “advertising errors are the same level of problem as surgery mistakes” but rather the opposite corollary: “some mistakes are more bad than others” which is, ironically, the point that you’re making as well, so it shouldn’t be that hard to intuit.

        2. myug*

          I think the term “acceptable error rate” is crucial here – on two occasions within six moths, they didn’t get correct info to the public when they should be double and triple checking the tweets before sending them off. In OP’s role, that’s critical.

        1. Devil Fish*

          You’ve been missing the point on every thread related to this letter and no one’s called you out on it. You’re also bizarrely fast to threaten to fire people who hypothetically work for you, which is … definitely a choice but it makes it sound like you have no concept of how to manage effectively if that’s the only tool you know.

          Multiple people who say they’re in charge of their company’s social media say this wasn’t a big deal, plus this isn’t the issue LW asked to have answered or they probably would have given more detail to the specifics of the mistakes so the extent of their misdeeds could be properly adjudicated in the comments.

    3. Dr. Pepper*

      Agreed. The coworker is being weirdly aggressive and seemingly personally vindictive in their actions, and getting dates wrong IS a big deal. I was prepared for the mistakes to be typos- a misspelled word or awkward grammar or some weird looking spacing- not mistakes over the actual information being disseminated. While some people (me, admittedly) don’t take social media very seriously and personally wouldn’t be getting important info from tweets, many people do and company twitter HAS to be treated as official communications on par with printed materials.

      Though again, the coworker is NOT behaving appropriately and they are contributing to the overall problem of the company appearing poorly on social media. Not only is the company publishing incorrect info, apparently they’re also allowing employees to air dirty laundry in public. Not a good look.

      1. pancakes*

        “While some people (me, admittedly) don’t take social media very seriously and personally wouldn’t be getting important info from tweets…”

        Context, personal reputation, and due diligence matter a lot, of course, but Twitter has been around for 13 years now and is used to communicate all sorts of info. Info posted there isn’t inherently untrustworthy. Being dismissive of the entire platform isn’t a way of being discerning so much as a refusal to exercise discernment.

        1. Devil Fish*

          If you’d quoted the rest of Dr. Pepper’s sentence, you’d see that was a statement of preference, not a slight?

          Brand social media is its own circle of hell, so personally I don’t engage with it but I’m not calling all of social media an illegitimate form of advertising or whatever. I don’t understand how it’s not discerning if I intentionally decide when and how I’ll be advertised to though, that makes zero sense to me.

          1. pancakes*

            Yes, I understand that the comment I replied to expressed a preference. I think the way the preference was expressed made it sound a bit silly, which is why I responded.

            Your own preference to avoid brands on social media—which is my preference as well—isn’t the same preference I was responding to. The preference there was, “I don’t take social media seriously and wouldn’t get important information from a tweet.”

    4. smoke tree*

      There’s nothing more aggravating than getting a valid criticism from someone who is a giant pain in the ass. What I’ve found works best in these situations is to be aggressively collaborative and act like your coworker has your best interests at heart and will be thrilled to have the opportunity to deliver their feedback in a more optimal way. They will seize any sign of defensiveness and use it to torment you, but if you treat them like they’re genuinely being helpful, it often lets the wind out of their sails.

    5. Sacred Ground*

      So much for taking LW at their word, huh? She said it’s not a huge problem but nobody here wants to believe that, except for most of the people who do the same job. Lots of people taking her to task for something she said isn’t a problem and almost no useful advice for her on the problem she actually asked about.

  10. RC Rascal*

    Regarding #2: Years ago I had a friend who insisted on talking like a toddler, much as you describe. She thought it made her sound young and fun. My hunch is that is what is going on here.

    1. Massmatt*

      It’s weird, I was wondering is it just vocabulary or is she talking with a toddler/baby talk voice? We’ve seen that come up before and it would drive me batty. Just using childish words in a normal voice would irritate me but far less.

      I knew someone who used “tinkle” (and that was the only toddler word I remember her using) and while I just shrugged my shoulders most of the time I did sometimes think “Jesus Christ, talk like an adult, you are a grown-ass woman!”

        1. Feline*

          Baby talk when there are no babies to talk to is weird. I have a family member who is a college-educated adult and lapses into it frequently. She seems to think it’s cute. It’s not. It’s annoying for her not to understand how to properly use grammar. Life is not LOLcats. With the family member, I get annoyed and correct her grammar, and she realizes she’s being vexing and talks like an adult immediately afterward. I would probably try that approach with a coworker if I had to put up with it at work.

          1. yala*

            that seems…annoying? Like, correcting it at work, sure, but correcting family members’ grammar because they feel like talking a certain way seems “vexing” as well. Is it baby-talk, or more like internet speak? Either way, if she’s a college educated adult, she probably knows correct grammar and is just talking in a way she likes.

            1. Dr. Pepper*

              And the way she likes to talk is irritating to those around her, who have asked her very reasonably to knock it off. Kind of like how you ask someone to stop swearing in front of you if you don’t like hearing profanity.

              1. yala*

                I guess when I read a sentence like: ” It’s annoying for her not to understand how to properly use grammar” about someone who they say is also “a college educated adult” it just sounds really snotty, because clearly she DOES understand how to properly use grammar. Life might not be LOLCats, but folks stepping in to constantly police the way other folks talk is much more annoying to me (regardless of whether it’s happening to me, or someone else in the converstation) than someone talking in internet slang.

                I’ve got family members who crack down on anyone talking with less than proper grammar. It’s deeply unpleasant, and makes it frustrating to include them in a conversation. If everyone understands what’s being said and it’s a social context (rather than a professional one), it’s just being needlessly pedantic.

                1. Vicky Austin*

                  It sounds to me as though she’s capable of using proper grammar when she wants to, but chooses instead to talk like a baby.

                2. Feline*

                  Exactly, Vicky. She knows how to speak like an adult, but lapses into saying things like “carrotses” instead of “carrots.” It’s hard to describe, exactly, but it’s a kind of purposefully-wrong isn’t-this-cute language that isn’t cute and gets under my skin. I realize it’s something that would bother me more in a professional context now than it would have if I didn’t have the exposure in my personal life, but that’s where I stand on it.

          2. Observer*

            I would MUCH rather put up with the silly language than the corrections — even though you wouldn’t be correcting me.

        2. Quill*

          Honestly it comes off as weird even if you work in a kindergarten. Most kids past the age of 2 have a violent need to be seen as “big kids” and will respond better to “Use the bathroom” than “tinkle.”

          1. Matilda Jefferies*

            Tinkle. Honestly. I mean, she shouldn’t even be announcing it in the first place, but if she does, what’s wrong with “I need to use the washroom?”

              1. EH*

                I’m fond of “I need a bio break, be right back” – it helpfully encompasses both hitting the washroom and filling my water bottle/getting more coffee/etc.

          2. Wren*

            … and, I guarantee the baby talk would also piss off parents. I’m recalling my sister in law ranting about a teacher my niece had.

        3. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

          Yeah, one of the techs at my vet talks that way. It was really grating for me back when my last cat (RIP Dame Flufflepants) was in her decline. When my cat’s on the brink of kidney failure, I don’t wanna hear about “aww awe we feewing wousy today?”

          1. Vicky Austin*

            That doesn’t seem so off to me. After all, lots of people talk to pets like they’re talking to babies (or is it the other way around?).

            1. Devil Fish*

              Sure but read the room. Some people also talk to their children like they’re full people and get annoyed about strangers baby-talking them. And let’s be honest, if you’re talking to a pet or a toddler it’s more for the owner/parent than to really try to have a conversation with the pet/toddler, right?

        4. TMC*

          Wow . Commenters have sure got their knickers in a knot about the woman using juvenile language. I’d just view this as an amusing quirk and get on with the matters of the day. That said, someone using ” me and him did something” really grates on me.

          1. Darkitect*

            Agreed. I have lots of very specific pet peeves also understand that they are MY ISSUE. (Example, people who start sentences with “Ummmmm” before providing a snarky counterpoint. So rude and dismissive!) Baby talk isn’t on the list.

            1. Gumby*

              My current #1 (probably because no one else cares) is the rampant misuse of “begging the question” to mean “raises what seems like an obvious question” instead of to indicate circular reasoning.

              I’d assume the baby talk is a sign of someone who spends a lot of time with young children and hasn’t switched to adult conversation mode. But this seems too frequent for that to be the full explanation.

          2. pancakes*

            Not everyone is amused by the same things. If I had an acquaintance or coworker who spoke that way I’d absolutely try to minimize my contact with them because I find it grating.

      1. TurquoiseCow*

        Yeah, I’ve known grown adults who use “potty” and I mostly ignore it but sometimes I do think that it’s unnecessarily childish. They do at least say it in an adult voice, though. I find baby talk annoying after a few minutes.

      2. lilsheba*

        I agree. My former inlaws talk like babies sometimes, like they’ll say “sissy” instead of sister and it drives me nuts when people do that. Talk like an adult, you aren’t a five year old.

        1. yala*

          Are they southern? It’s not a thing in my family, but some of my friends families use that as a term of address. It usually means a specific person, though.

      3. Vicky Austin*

        I once had a co-worker who said she had to tinkle. I actually said out loud, “Really, Jane? Tinkle?”

      4. Ellen*

        I told my boss today that I had a “boo boo” very deliberately, to indicate that yeah, I hurt, no, not a thing he has to worry about. I’ll say “sugar” and “fudge” instead of obvious alternatives, but I will also cuss like a rum pirate under not at work conditions, such as when I got the previously mentioned boo boo that has left me with my dominant hand in a lot of pain and in a brace. I use sanitized, juvenile words to indicate a lack of immediate importance.

        1. pancakes*

          It wouldn’t occur to me that someone speaking that way is trying to signal a lack of importance. I’d probably assume they spent a lot of time around very young children—a distant relative married a preschool teacher who spoke that way—or that they think it’s cute when people speak that way. Why not just say, in adult language, it’s not important?

      1. Third or Nothing!*

        I have a toddler and it annoys me as well. The only childish words we use with her are “potty” and “owie” because they’re easier for her to say.

    2. Vicky Austin*

      Either that, or she’s a mom, and she got in the habit of saying “tinkle” and “booboo” to the point that it just slips out of her mouth.

      1. Devil Fish*

        I mean, that sounds like a great response to shut down toddler talk at work though. Or go to HR. Maybe both!

  11. Observer*

    #4 – Please absolutely do flag it for your project manager and SOMEONE up the line if you have the political capital to do this. You don’t have to say “I think John has some biases”. Just say that he has a pattern of sidelining women and POC, and while those characteristics may not be the REASON he’s leaving people out, it’s still a pattern that could look very bad.

    Most Federal civil rights laws kick in at 15 employees. State laws may have a lower threshold.

  12. tamarack & fireweed*

    #3 I would be tempted to fill in this particular blank with “If I may be bold, it seems to me that ‘boldness’, if not further clarified, is not in every case a positive quality to have. [Continue with something adjacent to boldness, or an interpretation of that ‘value’, that you can stand behind, and how it relates to your work.”

    Personally, I’m usually put off if performance evaluations are transmogrified into a quasi-cultish profession of allegiance to nebulously defined company values, rather than dealing with, you know, performance.

      1. Tinuviel*

        I agree, I think in this case it’s best to be meek and write about how pointing out that llamas and tigers shouldn’t be kept together on the Ark was an example of how you are So Bold and Unafraid To Stand For Truth In The Face Of Adversity.

      2. Allypopx*

        I think it’s a know-your-culture. This is something I would have written at my last job and it probably would have been received just fine.

      3. tamarack & fireweed*

        That’s why I wrote that I’d be tempted. And some of us at least aren’t in an environment where we have to be constantly cowed.

        (I have certainly written stuff on evaluation forms like “This question does not apply to my job description, therefore I am not providing a self-evaluation. This was during a time where my employer was re-doing a lot of processes, and we had different self-evaluation forms every year. Plus, I knew that my entire reporting chain valued me and my work highly. Also, I was in the UK where no one gets fired over a non-offensive mildly snarky remark on a form every thinking person can see was a train wreck.)

  13. tamarack & fireweed*

    #4 – I’ll disagree with Alison a little bit and say that regardless of being junior, you should — professionally and confidently, and in a non confrontational tone hiding the confrontational subject matter — call out the behavior. As a white guy you already have more social capital than, apparently, some more experienced minority members of the team. It should not be their job to do all the calling out.

    An organization that prides itself in flat hierarchies and non-traditional reporting structure (as well as being focussed on results and, like, quality code) is one in which it may go over well when a junior member points out entrenched discriminatory structures that are being allowed to flourish.

    Sure, get the temperature of the office first. But if it’s an office in which your reputation would be dinged by doing this is one in which you should not be sticking around, and leaving as soon as it’s suitable, with clear feedback in your exit interview. Unless and until we get to the point in which non-minority co-workers do this and take the comparatively very minor risk, we won’t make progress.

    1. tamarack & fireweed*

      PS: Good on you for noticing. Really. As a technical, now scientific woman in male-dominated fields, and as someone who works hard to attract people, especially women, of color into these kinds of roles (AND RETAIN THEM), I appreciate it.

      1. tamarack & fireweed*

        Sorry, one more update (long day…) , but I’d also use a different form. I’d just say, in a team meeting, without naming the co-worker, that from your observations you don’t think that X or Y (those minority members) are always getting the credit they deserve, and that sometimes people are being let out of the loop, so you’d suggest the team is more attentive to being equitable and attentive to not letting anyone out of the loop. And tell your PM and anyone senior you trust precisely why you said it. It’s not your job to manage the co-worker, but it is reasonably your job to nudge the team to a better culture.

        1. Tau*

          This I could see working quite well if you bring it up during a retro (assuming you have them) and don’t name John explicitly when you do it. It can also help if you come armed with some numbers (X was left out of three meeting invites in the past month, Y out of four, nobody else out of any), or if you can point to some negative consequences, such that the planning was chaotic as a result, something had to be rescheduled, X had to come running after someone to figure out what was going on.

          1. LW #4*

            That’s a good idea. I actually haven’t noticed John leaving anybody out in a while (I suspect the female team lead talked to him), but I’ll bring it up in a retro if I notice it happening more.

        2. Yvette*

          That is a very good approach and way to put it, however usually with comments like that (“people” aren’t doing, or doing X) the person it is aimed at never thinks they are the one doing X. Which is why telling someone the OP trusts is a good idea. And even if there is no one the OP trusts to approach with the specifics, it has at least been brought to other people’s attention.

            1. Yvette*

              I didn’t mean to imply the OP shouldn’t do it, just that John probably would not even realize it was about him.

              1. Observer*

                It can still be useful, because it will bring it (back) to the attention of others who have more standing to address it directly with John.

                And it makes it clear to others that people DO notice and DO care.

          1. Allypopx*

            True but it could make it easier to later say “remember when I mentioned this at x meeting? this is what I was talking about and it’s a problem”, especially if there’s group buy-in or concensus at the meeting to reference back to. It’s a strategy, especially as some relatively junior who might need that boost to be taken seriously.

            1. Oh No She Di'int*

              I agree with this. The group meeting is your base coat. You don’t expect that to actually be the end of the job. But it does serve as a framing device when you later go to the person individually to point out the problem. That way they cannot credibly claim that this is the first they’re hearing that this is an issue.

            2. tamarack & fireweed*

              Yes! Once you have buy-in in principle, it’s much less aggressive to bring up a special case. I believe that chances for nudging change forward look better that way.

        3. A*

          I like this approach. I think it could work well, especially given the setup of the team and lack of overarching authority.

          Also helps minimize the risk to OP, which I think is important. As much as we would all like to ‘do the right thing’ – it is a PROFOUND privilege to be able to martyr yourself. Even if you go down the thought process of ‘you wouldn’t want to work there anyway’, it ignores the realities of some peoples situations. Both financial and geographic, since not all areas are chock full of employers/opportunities like in or near a city.

      2. LW #4*

        I was actually a “woman” in male-dominated fields for a long time. That’s why this stuff gets under my skin. I’ve only been a man for about a year now- I’m so new to workplace politics in general, but especially to anything that involves gender. It wasn’t very long ago that I was the one getting talked over, left out, and ignored.

    2. Tau*

      OP4 said that they look like a white guy, which to me implies that they are not, in fact, a white guy, but that their minority status is not obviously visible and possibly not something they’re out about at work. I think it’d be great if we didn’t ignore that.

      Also, nobody is saying that OP should do nothing at all, but that there may be more effective and less dangerous for their own career ways to go about it than calling out John directly (such as addressing it with the PM or another higher-up). This goes equally for organisations that talk about flat hierarchies – in my experience there’s generally still an implicit hierarchy in place, and a grad fresh out of college is going to be at the bottom of it almost always.

      1. Electric Sheep*

        I’d read that as ‘he’s probably a white guy, but I know that sometimes people’s identity can’t be determined just visually’ rather than ‘I know for a fact he’s not white, even though a lot of people think he is’.

      2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        I read that as “I appear to be in the privileged group” with the implication “so John knows my name / I have a certain privileged status to challenge his behaviour”.

        I absolutely take your point that there’s a significant difference between “I am a white dude” and “I am perceived to be a white dude” (and had already noted the careful wording) but in terms of whether a biased person would listen to his opinion I think the difference may not be the most important factor.

      3. Yvette*

        I agree with this “OP4 said that they look like a white guy, which to me implies that they are not, in fact, a white guy, but that their minority status is not obviously visible…”. I think his appearing white matters in that John is being inclusive of OP because he perceives OP as white.

      4. LW #4*

        You’re half right. I’m a white transgender man, and I’ve only been presenting as male for a year and a half. Some of my team knows this (because they helped hire me or they’ve seen my legal name), some don’t. I sound male now when I talk on the phone, but I don’t look very masculine.

        I couldn’t figure out a way to say that without getting misgendered in the comments. In the end, I figured the only relevant part of my identity was that John knows me as a fellow white dude.

        1. Devil Fish*

          I hope you don’t feel too misgendered and I’m sorry if I was on the wrong side of that in another thread. I tend to err on the side of they/them in general but I know that can sting if it’s not your preference.

          Good luck with the work issue and with the transition, I hope you get where you want to go. :)

    3. NL*

      Someone a few months out of college? Maybe in some offices. In others…not going to go over well despite being right. That’s why the advice to know the politics and culture is good.

    4. YouGottaThrowtheWholeJobAway*

      Also….is the dude being thanked for work he didn’t do saying anything about it?? Is he not jumping on the chain and saying “actually Jennifer did the code review and rocked it, she is the one you should thank”? Because that is a problem too. I often get thanked for team efforts as a project manager (I am a lady, but in a country with imperial past vs. the global south or somewhere English is not the primary language) and the first thing I do is put some dang shine on my team on the post or email because it is not cool to take credit for everything if someone else solved a tough engineering challenge. It is not a big risk for you to ping the project manager and say hey I think John is having trouble understanding the workflow here, let’s thank Jennifer!

      1. LW #4*

        So, funny enough, the male lead wasn’t there on the phone call when he was being thanked. He was still on vacation. I don’t know if anyone ever told him. The rest of us on the call just kept quiet (idk how many people weren’t listening vs silently going “uhhhhh” in their heads). It was just a daily status meeting and everyone generally goes on mute until their turn.

        The project manager can’t see the code reviews- she’s not a developer, so she doesn’t have access to that system. It’s generally both of the leads who manage workflow stuff. And I think the female lead talked to John, because it’s been less of an issue recently.

  14. MommyMD*

    Your coworker is a nasty tattletale. However, that’s a fair amount of errors. And dates and events need to be read three times over by you before posting. If I gave out three prescriptions with the wrong names or drugs in six months I’d be hanging by a string in my job or out on the street. But coworker is trying to humiliate you.

    1. Alianora*

      I mean, I agree that getting the dates wrong from the corporate account is a big error, but I don’t think it’s on the level of making mistakes with people’s medication.

      1. Jennifer*

        Agreed. That’s comparing accidentally killing somebody to showing up to meet a friend for dinner on the wrong day.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      You can’t compare prescription errors to mixing up dates.

      That’s also why you have insurance to protect you. Unlike most jobs that don’t involve life, death or the law.

      1. MommyMD*

        I understand. But thousands of dollars and inconvenience to vendors/clients can occur because she is posting important misinformation. She needs to triple check. It’s not inevitable.

        1. Zillah*

          We have no evidence that the OP’s mixing up two events on one occasion did or could have led to thousands of dollars and inconvenience to vendors/clients – and also, what kind of vendor is getting their information from public tweets rather than actual communication with the client??

        2. Dragoning*

          Ehhhh… it’s Twitter. No printing costs are involved in Twitter ads. Vendors and clients should be getting their info from somewhere besides Twitter, IMO…like their contact at the company.

          It’s so far from wrong medication.

  15. Thomas*

    I hope LW makes a burner Twitter account and RT’s Alison’s announcement tweet with an @-mention of the offender. LOL.

  16. Dragoning*

    OP 2, does your coworker happen to have young children or grandchildren? My mother taught preschool for many years and often still speaks to us like this even though her youngest is 24. “Go potty” “Inside voices” etc. It seems to happen when people spend a lot of time with kids because so many people modulate their speech for them so extensively.

    1. Agnodike*

      That was my first thought, too – I have more than once caught myself JUST on the verge of excitedly pointing out a passing fire truck or crane out of the office window, forgetting that, unlike my home, there are in fact no preschoolers at my place of work.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        Congratulations on stopping yourself on time… I have so far only failed to do so when with my spouse, but he did laugh at me.

      2. PhyllisB*

        Yep. When I was in the middle of the Baby Years I was riding to a meeting with one of my friends and started to point out the field of cows we passed. (She was in the middle of the Baby Years, too so she understood.) Later that same day at lunch I started to grab someone’s plate and cut up their meat. Sigh…luckily everyone laughed and told me I needed a vacation. From kids.

        1. Quill*

          My family still does a routine where, while in the car, if one of us spots a horse they yell “HORSE!” and then immediately everyone else says “NOT YOU!” to the person driving.

          The youngest member of my family is 24, and I’ve also done this on a 6 hour drive to a convention with friends…

            1. Vicky Austin*

              I never had children, but I still moo whenever I see cows when in the car. It must be a throwback from my own childhood.

      3. BetsyTacy*

        Same thought. In my professional life, I am 100% a Boss Lady but in life, I am waist deep in preschoolers, toddlers, and babies. I will admit that I have slipped and referred to my coworker having ‘run to the potty before the meeting’ and also almost stopped a (high level) meeting I was running to point out a passing firetruck.

        In fairness, my coworkers would have probably been into it.

      4. Bagpuss*

        I think that’s pretty common – I was out with a friend who suddenly, mid conversation said “Look, Nee Naw!” as a fire engine went by – She had a toddler with a ‘thing’ for fire engines, at the time.

        But I think the ocassional slip is different from always usig that kind of language, which is what it sounds like LW’s colleague does.

        1. One of the Spreadsheet Horde*

          We had a crane outside the window at work. Let’s just say productivity dropped a bit while it was there.

          1. ellex42*

            When a fire truck showed up across the street from a previous workplace to send a guy up on a ladder to knock down loose bricks (the building facade was crumbling), we really got nothing done for a solid hour. But that was prefaced with “what the hell is all that racket?” rather than “wook, a fiwe twuck!”

      5. Third or Nothing!*

        Haha! I’m loving all the replies to this comment about preschooler mom slip-ups. I think the worst I’ve ever done is point out all the dogs, especially corgis.

        1. Wren*

          I enjoy saying to myself, sotto voce, or just loud enough for my spouse to hear “tiny little dog!” when I see small dogs.

      6. Lilysparrow*

        Yeah, it’s most likely just an unconscious habit that she slipped into. Code-switching is easier for some people than others.

        And some people are more self-conscious than others about working hard to appear professional. It’s not really that surprising that someone who is middle-aged or older and a career admin in a small firm isn’t going to be highly concerned about proving her professional chops to everyone in earshot.

        Anyone whose opinion matters to her already knows what she can do and why she’s valuable in her job.

        1. Observer*

          It’s not about proving how professional you are (or pretending like your children don’t exist.)

          I wouldn’t make a big deal about it, but it’s genuinely eye-rolly.

    2. Box of Kittens*

      That’s what I thought, too. I’ve heard that type of speech from older women pretty frequently and it usually turns out they have grandchildren or enjoy kids in some other capacity.

    3. Bunny Girl*

      That was what I was thinking. Although this would absolutely drive me insane. For some reason adults using “child language” to other adults is a huge pet peeve of mine. But if she has to talk that way a lot, it might just bleed over.

      I worked with horses for quite a while and I didn’t realize that I was clicking at slow walking people in stores until my mom pointed it out to me. She might honestly not know she’s doing it.

      1. Isabel Kunkle*

        Ew, yeah. I super judge people who do it to their SOs, too.

        But also, I’m with you on the being around kids thing. I don’t even deal with them that much, but since my sister/friends started having kids, I tend to wave good-bye to, say, cows way more often than a normal person would. :P

        1. Lilysparrow*

          I think your definition of normal is too limited. Waving at cows is one of the joys of life. As is shouting “moo” as you pass.

      2. VictorianCowgirl*

        HaHAAA I have often clicked at slow people. If they turn around just fine then a big smile lol

        My cats know the click as well.

        1. Bunny Girl*

          Yes I’ve clicked at my parent’s dog and my cat before! The number of time’s I’ve heard my mom say Damn it she isn’t a horse!

    4. Rainbow Roses*

      I have a coworker who does the baby talk thing and has never had children. Some people just think it’s cute. It’s not.

    5. Dr. Pepper*

      That’s what I thought. Or perhaps she has several pets that she talks to this way. Some people simply cannot talk to children or animals in a normal voice using normal words.

      My other thought was that if she doesn’t spend a lot of time around animals or young children, perhaps she WANTS to and this is how it manifests. Or for some bizarre reason she thinks it’s adorable.

    6. ellex42*

      My mother is a retired preschool teacher, and taught for decades. She has never used baby talk or spoken like that to children or adults. Kids still gravitate to her (even when she would rather they didn’t), I think in large part because she doesn’t talk down to them. I also don’t consider a direction to use “inside voices” as baby talk or kid talk, either. I was recently called to jury duty, and the clerks made several requests of us to “keep the noise down” and “use inside voices” without sounding like they were addressing us as children.

      While I have met teachers who speak like that to children, I’ve never met one who maintained it while speaking to adults without getting shut down pretty quickly (and as the child of teachers, I’ve met a LOT of teachers). I’d define baby talk in an adult workplace as unprofessional and condescending.

      1. Dahlia*

        Even if you don’t do “baby talk”, you also don’t tend to point out big trucks to other adults or ask if they washed their hands after going to the bathroom (and did they use soap if they did).

    7. Meepmeep*

      That would be my guess. I have a small child and your verbal habits do change when your most frequent conversation partner is two years old.

    8. Ashloo*

      I say “go potty” to my dog a lot, and I’ve accidentally said it out of context before. But I would probably realize it and explain the slip.

    9. Observer*

      I have to say that this is rather weird to me. I do understand what you are saying, but it’s not something I’ve seen a lot despite being in a community where the vast majority of folks of a certain age are grandparents, many of whom live near the grandkids. And I’ve always worked alongside women in the toddler years, and I don’t think I’ve seen anyone doing this on a consistent basis.

      I’ve seen it with pre-school teachers, but not that often.

  17. GM*

    #OP1, you have two problems here – one, your errors on social media and two, your coworker making a big show of pointing them out. I feel like your approach to the errors is a bit lax. If it were typos and such it would be different. But incorrect dates for an event actually has an impact on the footfall you’d expect to see, and maybe indirectly on revenues etc as well?
    I’d suggest to kill two birds with one stone – rope your coworker in as editor/proofreader for your tweets (if this is possible). That way, if any errors are spotted after that, it will be on her.

    1. Jimming*

      We don’t know if the errors had an impact on anything tho. OP may have corrected it quickly. While you can’t edit a tweet you can delete and post a new one. I would definitely not involve a colleague from a different department, especially since the colleague didn’t communicate directly with OP about the error.

  18. AngelZash*

    What LW4 is describing could definitely just be coincidence, but it sounds like it’s a very frustrating situation for the team members who are a minority of some type. I’ve been the one to have my contribution conveniently forgotten. It never feels good to have to have someone be reminded of it, especially if it’s happening often. It sounds like this guy does this a lot, but even so, this type of thing is REALLY hard to complain about. What are you going to say? “John keeps forgetting me in invites, thank yous, and code reviews. He does it to other people too!” It’s really easy to be seen as overreacting, and to feel like it too.

    So…I’m just wondering… LW’s not actually involved, and he won’t suffer the same scrutiny. Also, if John is doing this, what else is he doing that’s not as obvious to LW4? Could LW4 go to HR to have a word with someone there about what he’s seeing, phrasing it as it might be just a coincidence still? Maybe after the project manager or at some other point if not now? I mean without an actual direct supervisor, I’m honestly just wondering.

  19. Beth*

    LW1: Your coworker is a jerk. They’re pretty clearly just trying to get you in trouble, even at the expense of your company’s reputation (this stuff should be handled internally, not aired in public). It’s childish and unprofessional. I can see why you’re frustrated with it.

    That said, I don’t think you should bring this to a manager. Putting in the wrong date for an event isn’t a minor error; since it’s actionable information, it can impact attendance at the event, which makes it a much bigger problem than your typical typo. Do you really think your manager will think it’s no big deal that that’s happened twice in recent months? Unless you’re 100% sure they’re not concerned about it, I’d take it as a blessing that it’s slid under the radar and not call more attention to it.

    Instead, I’d start with implementing a more thorough process for yourself to double check info before posting it. Double check all dates, times, and locations before you publish a post; you know this is something you’ve messed up on before, so learn from that. If you can, try to write posts earlier in the day and set them aside for an hour before reviewing them and publishing; reading things over with fresh eyes is a great way to catch typos and other mistakes. If you’re not making errors, your coworker can’t do their childish nonsense. They’re being petty at you; be petty right back by being so good that they can’t have the satisfaction of getting one over on you.

    1. juliebulie*

      I’m sure OP’s manager already knows about the errors, since CW considerately emailed screen captures to OP’s employee, boss, and grandboss.

      But OP didn’t ask for advice in dealing with the errors. (Presumably OP’s bosses have already addressed this.) OP asked for advice for dealing with the coworker. I’m stunned that OP’s boss and grandboss haven’t already disciplined CW for her nonconstructive and possibly damaging behavior; I think OP should ask her boss and grandboss if CW’s behavior is acceptable, and if not, what they can do to discourage it.

  20. GM*

    OP#2, the toddler talk has to stop. I would try to have a private conversation with her about it. Be excessively polite, and preface with an apology. I don’t see anything wrong with saying something like, “Linda, I’m sorry but I think saying ‘boo-boo’ and ‘go potty’ instead of ‘mistake’ and ‘going to the washroom’ sounds too childish and comes off as unprofessional especially in front of clients.”
    I have been doing this for a few years because I got frustrated with people shooting themselves and their careers in the foot by doing stuff like this. The only problem I can see here is Linda is older and she may not take too kindly to being told off even if politely, so you’ll have to gauge her possible reaction and do this based on your comfort level with her.

    1. NL*

      The O.P. is an admin and one of the most junior in the office. She isn’t in a spot to take Linda aside to say this.

    2. WS*

      I agree with this, but also the letter writer is not the correct person to take this particular bull by the horns.

    3. SigneL*

      I would look confused and say “an uh-oh? What do you mean?”
      I once ran into an acquaintance in the grocery store. After chatting a few minutes, she said she was going to “water the lilies.” I responded by saying I was going to the bathroom. She laughed and said, didn’t you know – watering the lilies means going to the bathroom! (Um, what???)

      1. The Original K.*

        Yeah, it would be really hard for me not to call her out on this because I cannot STAND baby talk (I don’t use it when speaking to babies). I’d probably say “I’m sorry? A what?” every time if I didn’t have the standing to tell her to speak like an adult.

        1. Environmental Compliance*

          Yeah…. it’s very difficult for me to not immediately have the “….what…?” perplexed face when someone babytalks excessively.

          Personally I’d go with polite ignoring in internal conversations, with a “I’m sorry, a what?” in really egregious instances, and if it was negatively impacting clients…talking to the boss. I don’t think OP has the standing to talk to Linda directly without it impacting the OP badly.

      2. Jules the 3rd*

        That’s a little different than what’ being described, though. ‘tinkle’ and ‘potty’ are extremely common.

        If there was actual confusion about what’s being said, then sure, call it out, but there’s not in what OP said.

      3. TOF*

        That isn’t babytalk. It’s just antiquated, like “powder my nose.” An acquaintance knowing a turn of phrase that you don’t doesn’t seem like an “um, what???” moment to me.

    4. Kathleen_A*

      I think either redirection (“I’m sorry – did you mean you need to go to the restroom?”) or ignoring it are the only ways to go. The OP has no standing to correct the coworker, even in the gentlest and most polite way. If it doesn’t bother her supervisors and it hasn’t held her back in her career, the OP needs to overlook it, too.

      It doesn’t make company look bad, IMO. I think it just makes the coworker look a bit silly, but so long as the rest of her work is OK, it probably isn’t a big deal. Irritating? Heck, yes. But not catastrophic or anything.

    5. Jules the 3rd*

      If Linda’s bosses don’t care enough to address it, I don’t see why it’s a problem. The words are not offensive or discriminatory. Linda’s not hurting OP or causing confusion (I think we all know what a potty is), it’s pretty presumptuous to police her language.

      OP – think hard before you take up Alison’s advice in the last paragraph. Is there any reason, beyond your mild dislike of the style, to police how Linda talks to you? Being concerned about it in front of clients is actually a rational argument, and if you had standing as her boss, I’d understand speaking to her. But as her peer, well, why bother? What harm is it doing you? She’s been in the workplace long enough that you can assume that if it’s a problem, then someone has mentioned it to her, she knows the impact, she doesn’t need your input.

      If we were all the same, life would be boring. Alison usually defaults to this, I was actually surprised to see her suggest policing harmless word choices.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        Bigger picture: This issue is in some ways as similar to the body policing people do when they tell coworkers ‘your weight may influence your career.’ Most women who reach mid / late career with non-masculine or non-socially acceptable work / personal aspects have heard about them, plenty. They don’t need any more reminders.

      2. CM*

        Agreed, I would just let it go. Coworker talks baby talk, you’re annoyed, but her bosses haven’t complained and it doesn’t affect your work. So just accept that’s how she talks. It seems hostile to say, “An uh-oh? I think you mean a mistake,” when the only point of saying that is to show that you disapprove of how she talks.

        1. Kathleen_A*

          I pretty much agree. I mean, if it makes the OP really nuts (and I can see why it might), she might be able to make a little joke now and then about “potty” and “tinkle” and so on, so long as it’s not done in front of anybody (no shaming Linda in front of others!) and so long as it’s done very, very, very nicely, kindly and gently. Maybe. But not very often, and never in a way that would cause Linda embarrassment.

          I think it really is better to just let it go, though. I really do.

      3. Shan*

        I agree – honestly, who cares if this woman says “I got a booboo on my finger”? If she’s cooing at you like you’re an infant or saying “tinkle” and “potty” in front of clients, that’s one thing, but just a random “uh-oh” instead of “mistake” seems like something you should just ignore.

        Honestly, I probably say some things like that, too, and if one of my co-workers tried to have a talk with me about it, I’d be pretty unimpressed. I’m currently doing coverage for two people, on top of my own responsibilities – let me describe my afternoon granola bar as a “snicky-snack” if I want!

      4. Lehigh*

        Yeah, I agree with this. Various people find various types of language irritating. I don’t think it’s actionable, not unless you’re the one writing the checks, so to speak.

        As a side note, I also think that we will never reach consensus on how to talk about pooping and peeing. There are just so many ways to say it, and one person’s bland normal will be someone else’s hilarious oddity. I was (mildly!) teased once for saying I was going to “use the restroom.” *shrug*

        1. Kathleen_A*

          I know – I’ve heard British English speakers poke fun at Americans for using euphemisms like “restroom,” and I’m like, “And in what way are ‘loo,’ ‘lav’ and even ‘toilet’ not euphemisms?” :-) If you really want to avoid all euphemisms, you’d have to say “I’m going to urinate,” Beverly Hofstadter-like.

          1. Kathleen_A*

            Oh, and just to illustrate how irritating language can be: I used to have a coworker who never, ever said “I was angry” or “I was annoyed” or “I was pissed.” Nope, what she’d invariably say was “I. Was. Incensed.” Drove me *nuts* – or maybe “incensed me.” :-) But we all do irritating things, and so long as they don’t affect the work, you can’t correct coworkers on that sort of stuff. You’ll go crazy, and you’ll make them crazy, too.

            1. Lehigh*

              Lol! I would find that very irritating myself. Actually I like the sentence but I would feel, “You can’t possibly be incensed every time you’re put out! Do you have no degrees of emotion?”

              But yes, not really a coworker’s place unless you’re close and can chat freely about pet peeves.

              1. Kathleen_A*

                Yes, exactly. Are you equally “incensed” by (1) someone honking at you in traffic, (2) being unfairly accused of stealing, (3) breaking a fingernail, and (4) Hitler?

                Ah, Heidi (pretty sure that was her name). I wonder where she is now, and I wonder if she’s expanded her repertoire?

                1. Massmatt*

                  This is reminding me of a sketch from Kids in the Hall, someone is called in by their manager because they obsessively use the word “ascertain”.

      5. CrookedLily*

        I’m definitely team “Let It Go”. I know a fair amount of people who use language like this, and I might use some of it myself occasionally, depending on who I’m talking to and how friendly I am with them. Some people are less shy than me and more comfortable being themselves regardless of how well they know someone – good for them! I don’t know anyone who is bothered by it or reacts negatively or weirdly to it. To me it shows that the person is down to earth, approachable, not stuffy or uptight and doesn’t take themselves too seriously. Sometimes not taking anything too seriously is the only way to survive.

        1. pancakes*

          I don’t at all disagree that it’s generally healthy for people to not take themselves too seriously, but someone who stylizes their language to include lots of baby talk is taking their own persona pretty seriously. They’re not taking it less seriously than someone who stylized their language to include, say, academic jargon or macho posturing is. It’s a different style choice, not the absence of style choice.

      6. TOF*

        Agreed, even as someone that would find this very annoying myself. I’m a little baffled by the folks saying that requesting “no babytalk” from a peer is the same thing as requesting “no swearing”– swearing is considered offensive, babytalk is just odd. You don’t really have standing to tell other people to talk the way you want them to if their speech isn’t causing actual harm or offense.

        My position would be different if the Babytalker was ONLY babytalking to the LW– in that case, the babytalk would be about the LW (and thus condescending/offenseive) and not about the Babytalker herself (and thus just how she likes to express herself), but since she does it to everyone? No harm, no foul, just an annoyance that you’ve got to put up with as a price of working with other people in their many oddities.

        1. TOF*

          Though, that being said– I think a blanket “don’t babytalk in front of me” would be out of line, but if Babytalker refers to YOUR body/actions in babytalk (“Uh-oh, did you get a boo-boo?” “Do you have to go potty?”), I think you have standing to laugh and kindly say, “Oh jeez, don’t call it a boo-boo/potty, I feel like a kindergartener/I get enough babytalk at home with my kids” because yeah– that’s treating YOU as a child. But if she only refers to her own actions that way and the higher-ups at your company don’t mind, it’s not really any of your business to police her language.

        2. pancakes*

          “You don’t really have standing to tell other people to talk the way you want them to if their speech isn’t causing actual harm or offense.”

          There’s no special standing required to tell someone, “it irritates me when you say [xyz] and it’s something you say often.” Whether or not it’s appropriate to tell them that in particular circumstances and whether or not they’re likely to abide by the request are separate questions. In this scenario, where the letter writer has no supervisory authority over the coworker, they can’t tell them not to talk this way in general. They absolutely can ask them privately to try not to speak to them this way. It’s not off limits as a subject of conversation just because it isn’t offensive.

          1. TOF*

            I mean, yeah– you technically CAN ask anyone to do anything at any time, but I still kind of disagree with the idea that it’s a reasonable thing to ask at all. Monitoring your habitual innocuous language (vs offensive language) is actually fairly difficult and requires a lot of concentration. It’s a fairly big ask of someone in regards to a minor annoyance, so as long LW’s irritation isn’t so severe that it’s actually impacting their work (which… would still be their problem), it seems out-of-line to ask. If LW were going to do it anyway, tone would be VERY important– emphasizing that it was the LW’s problem and just a weird quirk of theirs, with no implied shaming of Linda– and LW would have to be ready to accept that Linda wasn’t doing anything wrong by saying “no” or ultimately being unable to monitor her language to LW’s satisfaction.

            1. pancakes*

              It isn’t innocuous to the person who’s irritated by it, though! It isn’t inherently a minor irritation or a dauntingly big ask, either, and if Linda were to take a sensitively-worded private request to cut back on baby talk around the letter writer as “shaming,” that’s on her. If she hadn’t ever considered, before then, that some people find baby talk grating, she should’ve—it’s pretty self-regarding to reach adulthood without any sense of that.

              1. TOF*

                We just fundamentally disagree on this, I guess! The potential to make someone self-conscious about a non-offensive part of their personality outweighs the LW’s discomfort to me; it doesn’t to you. If this was a different kind of behavior like always leaving dishes in the sink or habitually clicking pens I would agree with you, but the language we use is very much a part of our personalities, and my feeling is that we just don’t have standing to ask other people to change their personalities for us if they aren’t causing us actual harm.

    6. Wren*

      I think the most OP#2 can really do is look at Linda a little funny. Maybe one day Linda will ask about that look, and the OP#2 can say, “The baby talk is kinda off-putting, to be honest.” But any more than a fairly low level funny look would probably be unprofessional on OP#2’s part.

      This question is also making me laugh recalling my older brother’s ongoing struggle to break the habit of referring to our father as “Daddy.” I mean, I sometimes use various -y forms of address en famille, but not when referring to family memebrs in third person outside the family context, but apparently my brother does, and his friends have told him it’s “creepy.” Last time we were catching up and he said “Daddy,” he immediately interrupted himself and said, “Augh! I need to stop saying that! I’m over 40! this is gross!”

    7. Observer*

      I don’t get this reaction. I’m no fan of this kind of language. But I also think that it’s not THAT big of a deal.

      And the OP simply does not have the standing to provide this kind of instruction.

  21. Mop.*

    Ugh. I hate buzzy evaluation categories like “bold” or “disruptor.”

    They remind me of ad copy from the 90s—like “be max xxxtreeme with turbo grape-alicious power!” It makes me want to fill in my self eval with nonsense like, “Mop was bold and smooth as a twenty-year scotch, her mind sinuous as a mid-level sofa spring, her influence pernicious and disruptive as a mutated Ebola strain. Her fatal error? The forbidden bite of a Luna Bar once consumed in the presence of a Skype applicant. Truly, the Icarus of department 13809: Mop, tester of boundaries, now with 50% more flavrr burst.”

    Also, the tweet tattler sucks. Better ways to handle that, definitely.

  22. Purt’s Peas*

    OP 4, it’s very possible that you do have the cache to speak up to your new coworker about this, since “senior developer” can mean anything from “my manager” to “coworker who does more architecture and high-stakes projects than me.” You know which it is best, and if he’s just a different type of colleague, you totally have standing to say something.

    It’s really hard to confront someone. Don’t worry if you’re nervous or feel shaky. Here are some tools that have helped me: One, think up your first words: “This is awkward, but…” “Do you have a minute? There’s something I wanted to talk about.”

    Two, lay out your context and keep it personal. Not “you’re a racist” but “I noticed X.” But, as someone who’s been there longer than this guy, you can pull in the “we” of workplace culture. Just keep the context to what you specifically have noticed.

    Three, come up with something you can repeat as the thesis of your conversation. “We try to be inclusive and equitable here, so we keep everyone in the loop.” “Yeah, I totally understand it’s hard to learn names, but we try to be inclusive and equitable here, so it’s a big deal to try.”

    Finally, leave him with a face-saving action: name something he can do in the future. In this case, it’s just, stop leaving out/overlooking your women & minority colleagues.

    It’s preferable to do this in person but if it’s got to happen over IM, you be the first to IM again with a subject change after the conversation so those messages aren’t the first thing he sees. Just the responsibility of the person who does the confronting, imho.

    1. juliebulie*

      Funny thing though, I don’t find it annoying when Linda Belcher does it. Maybe I hold cartoon characters to a lower standard than I do real people. (Somehow that sounds racist)

  23. Arts Akimbo*

    LW#2, I see you work with my old coworker! She was all about the weird toddler-talk, and also with butting in to help while I was trying to train her on *how* to do a thing. On one memorable occasion during her first week, we were on the sales floor and I quietly let her know that I was headed to the bathroom and would be right back. Loudly, in front of at least two customers, she asked “DO YOU NEED TO TEE-TEE?” …I just stared at her, and so did the customers. I went to the bathroom without answering, but I knew right then that we were not destined to have an effortlessly harmonious working relationship. No advice, only sympathy.

    1. Jules the 3rd*

      Three totally different issues, tho:
      1) Weird toddler talk
      2) Butting in during training
      3) Discussing bodily functions in front of customers

      #1 would be a problem with customers, but not a big deal with coworkers who can see the larger picture of overall work product and behavior.
      #2 & 3 are huge problem.

      1. Arts Akimbo*

        She ended up requesting to work the phones instead of FOH customer service, which really was the best thing for everyone.

  24. GM*

    OP#4, LoL on “I look like a white dude.”
    I’m tempted to ask if that means you’re not actually a white dude and maybe mixed? Either way I appreciate what you’re already doing and hope you can nip this in the bud in the near future!

    1. Agnodike*

      I mean, yeah, if somebody says they look white, usually they mean they’re a white-passing POC, whether mixed race or light skinned or whatever. It’s a pretty common thing.

      1. blackcat*

        I interpreted it as OP is either passes for white or is a trans man (though the phrasing would be odd for the second, since they didn’t specify cis).

        1. LW #4*

          You’re right on this- I’m a trans man. I didn’t know how this comment section took trans stuff, so I left it vague so that nobody would misgender me.

      2. T3k*

        This is what I thought as well. As a multiracial person myself, this is a common thing I say to others when race is being discussed as I’m more minority than white but at a glance most people assume I’m white.

    2. The Original K.*

      I assume it means he is a person of color who presents to the world as white. Thus, he’s in a position to be attuned to slights of people of color and to avoid them because he reads to the world as white. He’s not getting left off John’s stuff (whether John’s bias is implicit or explicit) because John perceives him as white.

      (I’m Black. I have relatives who are fair-skinned and straight-haired enough to pass as white. White people have said some very racist things about Black people with them in the room because they didn’t realize they were in mixed company.)

        1. The Original K.*

          Me too, and I have a white-sounding name to boot. I remember my soon-to-be-freshman roommate saying something slick during our “getting to know you” conversation before school started. I said “Did you look me up before we talked?”

    3. Zephy*

      I’m not OP but that’s what I assumed that meant. There are a lot of people in the world that are “white-passing” but are of mixed heritage. Keanu Reeves, for instance.

      I suppose OP could also be trans or nonbinary, though. If OP and John are remote, have they ever met their coworkers in person or are they all just names on a screen to each other, possibly with little avatar photos? If OP presents masculine or androgynous and all John knows of them is a name (presumably, in this case, either predominantly-masculine or gender-neutral) and a photo (showing a light-skinned, not-explicitly-female face – e.g., short hair, no makeup), John may have just assumed “Alex is totes a white dude” and never bothered to ask or examine that assumption.

      1. LW #4*

        Yeah, I’m a trans man. I didn’t know how this comment section took trans stuff, so I left it vague so that nobody would misgender me. I sound male on the phone, and I have a masculine chosen name, but I don’t pass in person very much. I use my kitten as an avatar. (This is normal- some of my coworkers use a bike, a lizard, or Iron Man)

    4. Kathleen_A*

      I do understand the curiosity (because I have at least my share of curiosity), but I can’t help but think that if the OP had wanted us to know exactly what was meant by “I look like a white dude,” he would have told us. Just a suggestion!

      1. LW #4*

        I didn’t think it was important enough to specify, but I’m a white trans man. I seem male on the phone and through text (which is all John knows of me), but I don’t look very male yet.

        1. Kathleen_A*

          You were right that it really wasn’t important (it had nothing to do with your post), but thanks for telling us anyway.

    5. Quill*

      Seen as white, seen as dude, don’t feel pressured to tell us OP but know that you might not be alone and that you’re doing the right thing by using the advantage you have to fix this problem. :)

  25. TechWorker*

    #4 – if most reviews/meetings etc are things the whole team should be involved in, does your company have a way of setting up a group email alias they can get sent to? (Obviously doesn’t like, solve the problem, but makes it more difficult for him to ‘forget’). I did wonder if it’s possible he’s selecting particular groups of people and you were missing the context (eg on my team a subset of people might be invited to a meeting because they’ll be the ones working it, or w/e) but given the context that he explicitly missed out the female lead on something she worked on that feels… unlikely. Keep fighting the good fight!

    1. LW #4*

      Yeah, we have a group email like that. And everyone else uses it- it’s easier to go #GroupName than to remember everyone. We also have several slack channels, and you can see everyone invited to a code review. John also asked me about everyone on the team, and I told him who everyone was and what they did (through slack so there’s a record).
      But it’s getting better now. I think the female lead talked to him, and it seems to have solved his memory problem.

  26. Green great dragon*

    #4 Thank you for what you’re doing!

    For a low-risk way to start calling out a pattern I suggest adding *again* whenever you remind him, as in “hey, looks like you forgot X again, so I added them”.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        It belongs, but OP’s probably not in a position to be that aggressive.

        The project manager would be, and needs VERY MUCH to have a sit down with the guy who is failing so hard.

  27. Screaming Flying Monkey toy*

    OP1 – I’ve been managing social media (with and without teams) for about 7 years now and that’s too many errors for external publication. Do you have a proper quality check in place? We always ensured that at least 2 people after the post writer checked each and every social media post with a detailed quality checklist (with… 20 steps, sadly. From ‘is the key message right for the audience’ all the way to technical set up. Are the URLs properly tagged with UTM? If it’s a link post, has the link been removed from the post after embedding? Are the videos subtitled, is everything properly formatted? Right hashtag for right platform? There is a LOT that goes into social media marketing that people underestimate. And you shouldn’t be winging it at all but work to establish a process.

    It was a key priority for me to get the basics right 100% of the time and thus my team paid extra attention to it. This stuff is easily preventable and the worst thing is having one of your C-levels point a dumb mistake like this out to you. It reflects so badly on your professional judgment when it goes wrong (and sadly nobody notices when everything goes smoothly).

    Your coworker is extremely obnoxious though. What a jerk. I see some other great replies on how to respond so i won’t get into it here.

    1. Harper the Other One*

      That setup is awesome if you can manage it, but it really depends on the size of this company! Part of my role includes posting on Twitter 5-6 times a day, but we’re a company of 3, and the founders just can’t take the time to proof/review every tweet. I proof very carefully but mistakes do inevitably happen. OP is obviously in a larger organization than me, but it’s not as simple as saying “this error rate is too high.”

      I agree that OP should be particularly careful of dates, though. There’s no question that can affect traffic to the event (and also result in upset customers/clients who came at the wrong time.)

      1. ThisUsedToBeAGoodColumn*

        Removed because sock puppetry. Please don’t do that here. Dissent is fine, but sock puppetry with different names is not.

      2. Social Butterfly*

        Seconded. I’ve worked on in-house communications teams for 6 years, and social media has been always been one of many other duties. More often than not, the expectations for post volume and engagement significantly outweigh the time and capacity we have to dedicate to social. Unfortunately, not all organizations take social media seriously enough to hire a dedicated social media person/team. Not saying mistakes are okay, but they can sometimes be a symptom of pressure and unrealistic expectations on the comms team.

    2. MissDisplaced*

      “We always ensured that at least 2 people after the post writer checked each and every social media post with a detailed quality checklist (with… 20 steps, sadly. From ‘is the key message right for the audience’ all the way to technical set up.”

      That’s quite a process! Must be a large enterprise. But at a lot of companies it’s just like 1 Comms or Marketing person who has do social and usually in addition to all of their other marketing duties. I can’t imagine working far enough ahead to have two people review the posts for each channel and get them out on time every month.

      But I also HATE what LW#1’s coworker did. It’s beyond the pale. If she does see something amiss, she should bring it to LW’s attention first so it can be corrected and NOT draw extra attention to it externally. What’s she’s doing brings it to the attention of other high-level people (who follow the CEO) outside of the organization and it makes the company look bad overall. I’m surprised the CEO didn’t say something to that effect.
      Agree that dates for events are much more important than say, a copy typo. I always triple check those because I’m paranoid.

    3. Stone Cold Bitch*

      That’s great – if you have the resources. I’ve worked in social media for over a decade, but it was always something I was expected to do on top of website, print, photography and video.

      And if I need to wait for verification from two people… Well, nothing would get posted.

  28. Jemima Bond*

    OP 2 I can totally see why that’s annoying! The way I see it, your issue with her talking like a 3yo is in two parts; when she talks to you like that and when she talks in meetings like that in front of seniors.
    Re the latter; as Alison says it’s not your place to address it and don’t worry, it’s not making you look bad! It only reflects on her. So leave her to it. Worst case scenario someone comments on it to you, just say “yes it’s a little odd but I’m not in a position to say anything about it”.
    In cases when she talks like that to you, I agree that you can pick her up on it. I’d probably go for something like, “”boo-boo”? Come on now Jane, you can call it a bruise, we’re all grownups here!” or maybe that think where you repeat something back but with preferred language – so she talks about an “uh-oh” and you say “so you’re telling me there’s a mistake in that report? What kind of mistake exactly?” to sort of reinforce the use of the adult word “mistake” over the childish “uh-oh”.
    You have a graze on your hand? Grazes can get infected easily – have you run it under the tap to wash away any dirt? Would you like me to get the first aid kit to put a plaster on the graze?
    Oddly enough I suppose it’s like when a child is learning to talk and you narrate things back to them!

    1. Miss Astoria Platenclear*

      Agreed. You shouldn’t have to do these lessons in adult speaking – her supervisor should have – but you’ll be doing everyone a favor if you help her break this habit. Including her and whoever fills your job when you’ve moved on.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        Linda’s old enough that she doesn’t need lessons. If she wants to break the habit, she’ll ask for help reminding her not to do it.

        Policing other people’s non-offensive word choices is also weird.

    2. Lehigh*

      I don’t really think that’s an appropriate way to talk to a coworker. I would love to correct coworkers on their grammar (and sometimes their speech patterns lead me to believe they truly do not know the correct usages!) But I don’t think it’s polite to do so unsolicited.

  29. Questionable*

    How old are people here? Cause no one is pressed about mistakes on Twitter. I’m sure the tweet was deleted and a new one put up. Most people barely read tweets before liking and retweeting them. And even when it’s pointed out something is wrong in a tweet people don’t delete the incorrect one.

    1. Agnodike*

      Do you use social media professionally, or mainly personally? Your social media presence is part of your branding. Like anything else customer facing, tweets should be as free of errors as possible. Errors are fine in personal use, just like it’s not a problem if I text my spouse “can u pick up the cat from the shop” instead of “would you please pick up the car from the mechanic?” but it would be a problem to print a sign for my vet practice that said “Annual car vaccinations no longer covered by pet insurance”

      1. MatKnifeNinja*

        Recent example. One of my niece’s teacher’s put the wrong times and dates for homecoming events.

        The times and dates are on the school website. They came via an email. It wasn’t like everyone HAD to depend on that tweet.

        Million comments later, with a good chunk tagging the school principal and district office, the account was closed.

        I now hear there will be an inservice for the teachers on how properly use social media.

        Branding is a big deal.

        1. Cranky Neighbot*

          Oh my god, that poor teacher. Sounds like the problem here was parents losing their minds on Twitter, not branding.

          1. Colette*

            Dates and times are important, and getting them wrong has consequences. Maybe people overreacted – if they were rude, an incorrect date doesn’t excuse that – or maybe every parent following the account just wanted clarification about which date was correct. Once you have two different dates from official sources, you don’t know which one to believe.

          2. MatKnifeNinja*

            It was a big enough deal to lock down all district Twitter accounts and have everyone sit through an upcoming inservice with the district head of media relations.

            The teacher posted when she was probably dead dog tired, and it was last year’s dates. I saw the tweet. It was later in the evening. So ALL the little cherubs (not really parents) had a field day until the media handler rolled in and saw the bonfire in the early morning.

            In this class, all the students are required if the parents allow, to follow the class Twitter feed.

            5 classes x 25 kids (or so) got the tweet, plus parents. By the time I saw the tweet, there were 3,000 comments at 10 pm.

            The district is all about using tech and social media. Teens can be little rat faces, and those are the ones that tagged media director, principal and district office.

            No one was vulgar. It was more hahaha are you gonna cut us slack when we make a mistake on things that matter?

            When I went to school, this would have been a mistake on an overhead projector. Laugh laugh laugh. Teacher moves on.

            Social media can show all your stupid faux pas instantly.

    2. Zombeyonce*

      With the number of celebrity and big-name companies’ embarrassing tweets screenshotted and shared regularly, it’s patently untrue that nobody cares about mistakes on Twitter. And putting up incorrect event details can definitely have a negative impact. We don’t know how long the incorrect tweets were up; it could have been hours or even days before the mistakes were noticed.

      1. Zillah*

        “Embarrassing” isn’t the same thing as “mistake,” though. I have a hard time seeing someone screenshotting and tweeting out a single date mix up or a whole lot of people caring.

        1. bonkerballs*

          Right? I literally just got in my email an announcement for an upcoming show from a large, local, prestigious, professional art institution. And then 5 minutes later got another email saying basically, oops our mistake, the link we just sent doesn’t work, use this instead. My opinion of the organization (and the communications person sending out their emails) has not changed one iota.

    3. Asenath*

      Putting out the wrong date for an event is bad – once it’s out there, some people are going to depend on that information even if the correction is sent later. I got caught out that way a few months back – I did realize when I arrived to find no event and used my phone to check other announcements in other forms that there had been an error made by the organizers, but that didn’t help me attend the event, and I was still annoyed that I’d gone to the trouble of going to the location on the basis of wrong information put out by the organizers.

    4. Grapey*

      When your job is social media, the term “you had one job” comes to mind when it comes to incorrect dates in tweets.

    5. in a fog*

      I’m genuinely shocked by the level of judgment here. Big-time Twitter accounts like the NYTimes and NPR, where there are definitely multiple people working exclusively on social media, will tweet out things with the wrong images or links a lot more often than three times in six months. They delete and repost with an apology for the confusion. It’s the nature of the beast.

      (And if we’re talking about branding on Twitter, I’d recommend checking out accounts like @MoonPie or @Wendys.)

      OP #1, if you’re still reading comments, I am also someone who has been doing social as one of many job responsibilities for more than 10 years, and I used to beat myself up for mistakes like the ones you’ve made. They happen all across the Twittersphere. If the higher-ups are truly concerned about that error rate, then it might be time for a conversation to find additional resources that will HELP you, but your coworker is the one who’s truly in the wrong here.

  30. Weegie*

    #3 – my organisation also requires us to map its values onto our achievements during our annual reviews, and ‘bold’ is one of the values. Unlike the OP and others commenting here, though, we’ve not been given a definition or example of what ‘bold’ looks like in terms of achievements. (Honestly, I would interpret it as something like ‘scrapped the entire management structure and developed a more effective one – which would never figure in my role.)

    Fortunately, however, we are required only to list our achievements and then say which of the values they demonstrated – we can choose more than one value for each achievement, so I tend to pile on as many as I can get away with (I offered to run a knowledge-sharing session: that’s collaborative AND bold!). Also fortunately, if a value isn’t relevant to our role, then we don’t have to use it in our self-evaluation.

    It’s all nonsense. Just go along with it, using your best BS-ing skills, until management and HR move on to the next fad.

      1. Weegie*

        It does make life easier that we’re not compelled to demonstrate ALL of the values, but it is time-consuming – and it omits things like ‘efficiency’ or ‘politeness’ if those are attributes relevant to a particular person’s role.

  31. Wintermute*

    I work in a field where “boldness” is valued by some companies, and worked for a place that did have it as a value along with “empowerment” I view it in the sense of the Wikipedia value of “edit boldly”, kind of, and they say “Fix it yourself instead of just talking about it.”

    In my case, for example, when I was in an entry level role with OldJob, it was trusting your empowerment. You have a certain limit in how much you can credit to a customer that has a complaint, if you think it’s the right thing to do, go for it, find a solution to the customer’s problem. Don’t kick it up to help/support queue because you are afraid to give away a credit or make an offer if it’s within your role and you think it’s a win/win outcome.

    As I moved into a more senior role, it was “don’t be afraid to implement a creative solution”, if you find something that works for the customer and the business, then go for it and solve the problem. And when I was in a senior central network role that was expressed by “do the right thing”, if you see something going wrong, stop the process, if you spot a trend you feel is worrying, bring it up to someone, don’t be afraid to involve another department or skip-level leadership if you see a problem, do what it takes to solve it. Being bold was also not being afraid to cause a bit of a fuss, to wake up an oncall late at night when you saw a customer-facing issue, or pushing back when issues were closed out as fixed but were still impactful.

    Honestly boldness is best defined by its inverse– the opposite of being bold is being overly cautious, seeking permission and sign-off from everyone before you solve a problem. Not being bold is worrying about whether you have standing to reach out to someone at that level of the org chart rather than tagging in the best resource to fix things for the customer. Not being bold is going to your boss to speak to his boss to contact a boss in another department to tell their subordinate to tell their subordinate about a problem rather than reaching out directly across organizational boundaries.

  32. Captain Radish*

    My great grandmother was like the woman in #2. I think it’s simply just “some people” and cannot really be changed. I know it drove me utterly insane when a 16-year-old me was asked if I “needed to go potty.”

    1. Quill*

      That moment of blind and abrupt rage when someone talks to you like you’re two… which starts at approximately three or four years old.

    2. MissDisplaced*

      Yeah, weird for sure. I never got this unless you are a)talking to your pet at home, or b)talking to your toddler.
      Then again, when I talk to toddlers, I talk to them like an adult, albeit somewhat more simplified.
      “Do you need to use the restroom before we leave?” becomes “Do you need to pee?”

      I’m only somewhat ashamed to admit that my kitties do get the baby talk treatment quite often. “Who has iddy widdy kitty toe beans?” “Chonk boy” and all that silly gunk. Fortunately, that’s only in our house.

      Sometimes I’m out shopping and I hear mothers talking ENDLESSLY to their young kids in the boo-boo voice. I drives me nuts.

  33. Anonyplatymous*

    OP2: I promise you, nobody at the client level cares. Literally nobody. Half of them probably find it refreshing to see someone who uses “old fashioned” euphemisms. Would you prefer she stood up and announced that she needs a piss break or that the burrito she ate for lunch is on an express train to shitville?

    1. The Original K.*

      She could just say she’s going to the bathroom, or not talk about going to the bathroom at all.

      1. Bagpuss*

        Yes, I would normally expcet the wording to be something like “excuse me, I will be back in a few minutes” – or something similar .
        The client, or others you are meting with, doesn’t actually need to know where you are going, or what you plan to do when you get there.

        Or, if it is a long meeting and others are likely to need a break as well, you suggest that you take a short brek, and use the opportunity to let visitors know where the bathrooms are.

      2. Anonymous for this*

        yes, who announces, in any language, specifically what they are going to do? It’s not necessary.

      1. Environmental Compliance*

        +100

        No one is saying that she needs to be more crass, they’re saying that there’s a better way to speak to an adult than always going for the Grandma Talking to Kindergartner phrasing.

        And – in my industry, with our vendors & clients….yeah, they’d care. It wouldn’t be enough to immediately drop the contract, but it would definitely leave a not-so-great impression.

    2. Washi*

      I’m pretty sure anyone truly old fashioned would not be caught dead saying they have a boo-boo or need to go potty.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        True, someone old-fashioned would say “I need to see a man about a horse” :) Or, in Linda’s case, “I need to powder my nose”!

        1. juliebulie*

          I say, “I’m going to make a donation” if I am at the movies and I don’t want my companions to assume that I’m going to the concession to bring back snacks.

          Otherwise, what I usually say is “I’ll be right back.” They probably know where I’m going. If not, then I’m just as happy to finally have an air of mystery.

    3. Liza*

      I would imagine it would be very dependent on the industry and office culture.

      I work in an office where we deal with distressing situations on the regular, and silliness in the privacy of the office is how we deal with it. Childish euphemisms would fit in just fine. We also put on silly voices for short spells and such. If we were expected to act 100% mature at all times while at work, I suspect we would crack up. When in public facing situations, it gets scaled back somewhat. We read the situations and individuals and act accordingly. Sometimes, silliness is very much welcome! My only concern would be if the person in Letter 2 defaults to overly childish language without any awareness of context or code switching. Arguably the impact would be lessened if it’s just words minus a silly voice, though, which would seem more likely if this is somebody’s standard use of language.

      As for situations within the privacy of the office, I’m of the opinion that it shouldn’t matter so much. I wouldn’t want to be in full grown up mode for 8 hours of the day. As long as a person is being kind and respectful of those around them, does it really matter whether a person is using appropriately “adult” words when describing minor accidents or basic needs?

    4. Oh No She Di'int*

      I don’t know about this. I think it really depends. In my industry if an account executive talked about needing to “tinkle”, people would think it was odd or a bit goofy, but no real harm would be done. By the same token, I can imagine industries–legal, high-level security consulting, mid-east oil contracts–where that sort of language might be jarring. True, a client probably wouldn’t rip up a contract on the spot after hearing the word “tinkle”, but I can imagine with repeated exposure, yeah, it could factor subconsciously into a client’s decision to go with OP’s company or another vendor.

    5. Bagpuss*

      I agree that clients are unlikely to care enough to take their business elsewhere but I think it is likley that at least some of them will find it just as irritating as the LW does!

    6. Jellyfish*

      It’d also be possible to say “I need to step out for a moment” or “excuse me, I’m running to the restroom.” There are plenty of polite options that don’t make it sound like everyone’s in a preschool.
      You’re right, if I were a client, I probably wouldn’t care. It’s something that could get grating to work with over time though. It’s not a hill to die on, but there’s no need to get sarcastic with the OP.

    7. Everdene*

      I disagree strongly. If I was a client of this woman I would not take anything she said seriously. I would have little respect for her work and could not trust what she said was not a weird euphamism since she cannot say words like mistake or bathroom.

      1. Agnodike*

        I see where you’re coming from, but I also think a man saying “tinkle” is much more likely to have that written off as a weird but harmless linguistic quirk, where a woman is more likely to have her judgment and fitness to work called into question. Sometimes people just say weird stuff, and we teach women to be cutesy about a bunch of stuff that we probably shouldn’t. I don’t feel like it rises to the level of “Linda said tinkle, there’s NO WAY she could manage the Peterman account.”

        1. Joielle*

          I wouldn’t literally think that, but I could easily develop an impression of Linda as someone who’s not that competent.

        2. Meredith*

          I can imagine a client just… not wanting to work with Linda due to this. Clients can certainly have weird and strong preferences based on other personality traits or clashes or what have you, and this type of language would grate on me to the point where I might try to avoid working with Linda if I could instead work with someone else. Which could affect client retention, work loads, and Linda’s own job security.

          1. No Green No Haze*

            *I* don’t want to work with Linda, and she’s just an imaginary person I’m reading about in an online comments section!

            1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

              I’m just envisioning coming into a place like a bank and having someone like Linda work on my personal accounts, and then have her suddenly saying, “Oopsie-daisy! I made a boo-boo. Let me fix it for you right after I run to the little girls room!”

              I mean, I had something similar happen once and I ran out of that bank like I was on fire. I’d had my last name legally changed, and went to a branch near my work to have it changed on my bank accounts. My “Linda” took me into her office, pulled my accounts up (with the monitor facing her, and turned away from me, so I had no idea what she was seeing) and said “oh no! whoever set up your accounts before has messed them up. I am not quite understanding what I see here, but no worries, I’ll fix it right now!” I said no thanks, I changed my mind, I’ll take care of this later, and walked out. She ran after me all the way to the door, saying “I’m sorry you feel that way”. But the only way I felt about it was “Linda sounds like she may make my money accidentally disappear, and I’d rather keep it”. I waited until the weekend, went to my branch over by my home where the account managers knew me and also knew what they were doing, and had my name changed. Nothing seemed “messed up” and so no one tried to fix anything.

    8. Rainbow Roses*

      Are you kidding? No, I don’t think anyone cares if another person needs to use the bathroom. But you bet I will judge a grown person using baby talk during a business meeting, especially with clients or if I’m a client.

      Old fashioned means “Please excuse me for a moment.” It is not using words like “potty” and “tinkle.”

      1. Isabel Kunkle*

        This. Clearly it hasn’t hurt Linda’s career, so I wouldn’t necessarily intervene, but if I was a potential client and weighing whether to go with your company or someone else’s, the cutesy-poo baby talk could be a deciding factor if all others were equal. And the Lindas of the world are definitely people I avoid as much as possible as co-workers or acquaintances–assuming it’s not a situation, as above, where they do it accidentally and then laugh and say “sorry, small children at home, I’ll be offering you cheese cubes next.”

    9. Lilysparrow*

      Yes, exactly. If the clients cared, Linda would have been disciplined or fired already.

      If they are admins in a law or medical office, the clients do not give a flying rip what they say. They aren’t even listening to 99% of it anyway.

    10. Tell baby talk to stop*

      I disagree. I think you should say something. Clients and other people will find it as weird as the dozens (if not hundreds) of people posting here do. If possible I would nicely in a friendly way say you noticed this behavior and point out when you have seen someone flinch or look oddly at her so you have a tangible example to give.

  34. Forrest*

    >>“You stand tall in the face of adversity, are willing to voice an opinion and are firm in upholding company values. Rate how you have achieved your accomplishments by being bold.”

    Ha, myself and my co-workers have fulfilled this by being an absolute pains-in-the-arse during a department restructure and lay-offs. We were asked to give feedback, so we did, a lot, including via the union. I wonder if that counts?

  35. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    For OP3 – maybe it will be easier if you think of things that are the opposite of boldness.
    Wait for others to point out errors.
    Go with the flow instead of bringing up suggestions to improve things.
    Keep your head down and don’t interact with your colleagues.
    Don’t learn anything new, just do the same thing day after day.

    In most workplaces, you would definitely want to stamp out those behaviors.

    So could you frame your review statements as something like: “On the XYZ project, I was assigned to the supply chain team. But then I noticed that the spout makers and handle makers were ordering similar materials, but from two different vendors. I called a meeting with members of both teams and we figured out how to order from just one vendor, so we could get a bulk discount and reduce waste.”

  36. Falling Diphthong*

    #3: I know this one! You scrawl “This is boldness” over the entire form in giant letters, and turn that in.

    1. Quill*

      That only works on philosophy professors. (I once got an A+ because I came to a final with a high fever – non contagious – and the professor simply filed my test booklet directly in the trash because he didn’t want to risk catching my… arthritic tendonitis. Of course, the fact that he told me to go home the minute I walked in and my reply was “dude you are the only thing standing between me and my parents’ couch, gimme the test book” probably helped. XD )

  37. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

    OP4:

    Something I haven’t seen mentioned yet is the concept of Amplifying. The idea behind this is that when one of your coworkers is ignored or talked over in a meeting, you speak up to say something like “I’d like to hear more about what Juan was saying” or “Yes, Jennifer had a good idea”. Speaking up validates the idea, and explicitly calling out the original speaker’s name reinforces where credit is actually due. (This is something anyone can do, but appearing to be a white dude will often give OP4 more credibility.)

    1. LW #4*

      Yeah, I used to do that for the woman who was our only designer. I’d sit next to her and she’d always speak quietly, and nobody would make room to hear her, so I’d loudly ask her to elaborate, or respond to her so that somebody more senior would go “what did Jennifer say?” and then she’d give a good solution to whatever problem the men in the room had been discussing for the last hour.

      She left though, and everyone else is loud enough to be heard in meetings. We actually have a pretty good team culture, minus John (although he’s getting there).

  38. cheese please*

    LW #2

    FWIW my boss (mid-50s, children in college and high school) says he has to use “the little boys room” if he needs to use the bathroom. I find it funny more than annoying and think there are simply people like that in the work place. Hopefully by not parroting her language back (ie: responding “your mistake is easy to fix, we just need to do X” vs “we can fix the uh-oh”) you can establish more adult language over the long term.

  39. yala*

    1. well, that brings “snitch tagging” to a whole new level.
    2. is there any chance she has a young child at home, or frequently watches one? I remember when my siblings were babies, a lot of baby talk crept into my casual vocabulary, and for quite a while.
    Doesn’t make it any less silly, but it might at least be a reason.
    3. Be bold, be bold, but not too bold…
    4. …dang, that is messed up. Good on you for pointedly including people.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Exactly. If it was an issue, someone senior would have addressed it before.

      I’ve never had language that’s so inoffensive brought up and I’d find it odd if it were. I would also probably be more irritated at a colleague if they ever thought they had standing to lecture others on the issue.

      I have always know enough high ranking officials who say dumb things like “little boys room” and “potty”. It’s often just language they picked up over the years.

      I was expecting this to have been about baby-voices and being condescending.

      1. yala*

        Seriously, tho. Folks pick up language in different ways, and don’t always code switch. (People high up enough might not even feel the need to.)

        So long as it’s not the actual voice, or the whole “hewwo” thing or being condescending, this seems to be up there with being annoyed at someone for breathing too loudly (reasonable to be frustrated by, unreasonable to bring up).

  40. Quill*

    LW1: how often are you tweeting and how much notice do you have? 3 tweets out of 300 in 6 months (approx. 50 tweets/month, which would be something like two tweets a business day,) sounds like small potatoes overall, especially when one is a formatting error. 3 tweets out of 60 is a much more noticeable amount of error. Even so, it wouldn’t hurt to look into an app that would let you schedule a tweet, AND let you compose it outside of twitter. In my experience, finishing typing and hitting ‘enter’ is how all my typos get on facebook.

    LW4: It wouldn’t hurt to ask the coworkers that are being left off if they notice this about John, so you can have a plan for if his cutting people out cuts them out of credit for their work… which might extend to you eventually.

  41. Rainbow Roses*

    #2. I have no advice but will offer my sympathy and to let you know that you are not alone.
    I have a coworker who babytalk and does it with the joking pouty baby voice. She also refers to herself in the 3rd person. For example “Sally made a mistake. Sally is so sad and stupid.” Imagine that in the pouty baby voice.
    She is also older but never had children. Drives me crazy with secondhand embarrassment.

    1. Jamie*

      Yikes. It would be more pleasant to listen to someone chew tin-foil than to speak like this. You have my sympathies.

    2. Jenny Next*

      She reminds me of a character on Babylon 5: “Zathras used to being beast of burden. Zathras have sad life, probably have sad death, but at least there is symmetry.”

  42. sweaters nervously*

    LW1: From one social media manager to another, I can definitely say that one approach that’s worked for me in the past as far as typo’d tweets go is acknowledging them! You said yourself that your tone on Twitter is more playful than serious – use that to your advantage. Hopefully there won’t be a next time, but if there is, you could try correcting the tweet with a reply along the lines of, “Sorry everyone, the correct date is XYZ. Mondays, am I right?” This keeps the informal tone in place but also acknowledges the mistake – and hopefully after taking Alison’s approach and speaking with your coworker about snitch-tagging, it leaves said coworker with nothing to do because you’ve already addressed it.

    1. Questionable*

      Only good advice I saw about that. Sad for the OP no one gave her advice about how to deal with a coworker who is trying to sabotage her.

  43. Alexander Graham Yell*

    Hey, LW4 – thanks for being aware of this and handling it like you are. John definitely needs somebody (white, male, and senior to him, most likely) to point this out, but you’re showing the people on your team that you’re truly a team player. That may not seem like much now, but if you’re good at what you do and make sure to include people and show appreciation where it’s truly due, you’re going to have people fighting to work with you in the future.

  44. Cheetos*

    I’m a social media manager and part of our process is that I review everyone’s tweets for our account before they go out. This way, we have at least two pairs of eyes to catch typos and mistakes. I’ve got to say, I think messing up dates is a bit more concerning than just a spelling or grammar typo. However, I don’t think 3 mistakes in 6 months would be bad is the errors were small, fixed quickly and they tweet daily. Really just depends on the mistake made.

  45. Matilda Jefferies*

    #3, are you familiar with SMART goals? It usually stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Limited, although there are other variations. It’s pretty common for performance plans to require goals that meet this criteria.

    So if you want to push back on “bold” as a performance measure, you can ask for advice on how to make it SMART. How will you (and your boss) know that you’ve achieved this goal? I can’t think of any really good examples off the top of my head, but maybe that’s telling in itself – once your company starts untangling things a bit, hopefully they’ll realize for themselves that this is silly. (I mean, they probably won’t. But a girl can dream!)

  46. kinvitation*

    I think a good approach with the tweeting coworker is “When you mention my mistakes in a tweet, you’re amplifying the mistake and ensuring that it gets a much wider public audience, which can be even more confusing for our target audience.”

    Or maybe just “Front of the house/back of the house!”

  47. Robin*

    RE: #2
    I work in a department of 3 – my manager, one co-worker and myself. Manager and co-worker have been working together about 4 years. I transferred in from another department about 2 years ago. Anyway, they have this really weird dynamic. Manager & co-worker don’t use childish words, but do whine like 2 year olds, a lot. (Interestingly, when Co-Worker is out of the office and it’s just Manager and me, Manager doesn’t act like this.)

    That’s fairly easy to ignore, but the thing they do that drives me batty the most is they grunt & growl like my co-workers dog when they’re frustrated or want something. Just makes me want to run from the room pulling my hair out.

  48. Aquawoman*

    Re “bold,” translate that into something approximating normal human words about normal human actions, figure out what you did that fills that specification, and then translate it back into self-evaluation BS language. So, is there something you stuck with despite obstacles? Was there a problem that you brought to higher-ups’ attention? One of my reports is good about telling me the issues that are buzzing around the office, when people are concerned about this or that issue. That kind of thing could be packaged as “bold.”

  49. MotherOfCats*

    #2, this was my mom, although she only did it around me & dad. It was really annoying & really funny. I apparently couldn’t pronounce “milk” as a toddler & asked for “mook.” She was still serving me mook when I was 40 :-)

    1. Jamie*

      I do not use baby talk when I put on impromptu puppet shows for my dogs, and you can’t prove I do because you aren’t in my house when I’m not doing that :)

      I actually rarely baby talk the cats though, they look at me like I’m an affront to their dignity when I offer them ‘nummy noms’ rather than serving their royal highnesses dinner.

  50. Random Thought*

    OP3 – My Fortune 100 company talks about “boldness” in different language for all 200k+ employees. for us, its along the lines of “courageous conversations,” “if you see something, say something” kind of thing– i.e. if something doesn’t seem right, you’re not just saying “oh well, not my problem.” I could also see if addressing scenarios where you weren’t getting the resources/response/info/whatever you needed and confronted the problem head on to move your work forward– so I agree that context would be helpful and its particularly weird that you got a shrug from the HR person!

  51. What’s with Today, today?*

    #1) While I don’t agree with the coworker publicly calling you out, I manage three people that handle social media, and I’d want to know about the mistakes. Three in 6 months is too many.

  52. LilySparrow*

    OP2, there is actually an excellent reason not to police your coworker’s language by insisting she say “mistake” instead of “uh-oh.”

    It’s obnoxious and pedantic. As an admjn in a small office, your reputation and relationship with your coworkers matters a lot more to your job performance than the image you believe you’re projecting to clients.

    Are her verbal habits annoying? Absolutely. Are they causing you any problems in getting your work done? Nope.

    Is it your place, as the most junior admin, to decide how your veteran coworkers should talk? Double nope.

    When you work your way up to being office manager or admin supervisor, you can set standards of professionalism and issue all the edicts you want about how your staff are supposed to present in the office. Until then, it would be far more useful (and possibly instructive) for you to closely observe your coworker’s dynamic with management and clients, and the way she performs at her job.

    It’s likely that nobody else cares about this quirk either because she has a lot of skill and institutional knowledge that makes her highly valuable to the department, or possibly because the personality traits that annoy you are considered charming or cute by some high-value clients or senior management.

    Either way, establishing yourself as the office nitpicker is not going to make work more enjoyable or improve your performance. Being a really good admin requires banking a lot of goodwill as “currency” that you can spend later to get people to cooperate with you. Harshing on Miss Linda is going to burn that currency up real fast.

  53. Anon 9*

    Just wanted to say THANK YOU to OP4 for calling attention to this behavior! It’s so frustrating to be in the position of being actively ignored or overlooked at work, but it’s equally disheartening when it happens and no one says anything. Those in a position to safely say something when you witness this type of behavior please do – it is so encouraging to have someone else validate the situation, and it’s only by challenging and calling out this type of behavior that it will ever change.

  54. juliebulie*

    #1 Here’s the part that gets me:

    demanding that my grandboss check all of my social media communications before they are posted

    I’m not a grandboss, so I can’t say for sure what I’d do; but I really do believe that if an employee emailed me something like this, making demands of me, I would have a talk with her and her boss about it. I’m sure I would also have a separate talk with OP and her boss, but I think I’d go to the tattletale and her boss first. And possibly require the tattletale to check all of OP’s social media communications for errors before they are posted, in addition to tattletale’s other duties.

    1. Observer*

      Yeah, the coworker is acting like an idiot, that’s for sure. It certainly does not sound like someone with a real sense of what’s reasonable.

  55. jany*

    Re:#1

    Yep, that’s a lot of errors to tweet out in 6 months. There are only 140 characters allowed and with the limited number of characters you have to type, there shouldn’t be room for errors, if any at all, especially for formatting issues.

    1. ThatLibTech*

      It’s 280 now, and it really depends on the volume. If this place was churning out several tweets a day (original content + replies) 3 isn’t so wild. Especially if the social media coordinators in the letter, after being notified so soon, rectified the mistake.

  56. ThatLibTech*

    Letter #1 definitely does remind me of a previous job I held where I got our social media up and running and ran it without issue, until we brought on someone else and I was no longer running it (there was a lot of ageism and favouritism in play) and they instituted the rule that all social media posts had to be run by two people before it went live. Then eventually we were locked out entirely by having social media banned on our work computers … until they needed us to post things again and I got to politely inform the coordinator that I’d love to help, but I no longer had access to FB/Twitter/etc. Eventually my access was re-instated so I could help out again.

    It was definitely A Toxic Workplace (I believe at one point I would’ve had grounds to file something in regards to a hostile workplace with how bad it was one summer), and I am so glad I did leave that job. Afaik due to a huge turnover it is a much better place now, and is in much better hands, which gives me hope (as it was a non-profit focused on education of a particular minority).

  57. CM*

    #1 — I defer to the social media people about what a normal error rate is, but, even if every single tweet were wrong, it would still BLOW MY MIND that someone hasn’t told the coworker to stop pointing it out in public. Like, is there any chance the coworker doesn’t understand that the entire world can see it when she does that? Is there a chance the managers don’t know that?

    Unless the company’s doing something immoral and you’re trying to resist or be a whistleblower, rule one is that you act united in public. You don’t haunt YOUR OWN company’s twitter stream, correcting everything YOUR OWN company says. It’s not just that it shows contempt for the OP, it’s that it also shows contempt for the company. Which, sometimes it makes sense to feel contempt for your company, but they can’t let you follow them around in public saying that.

    OP, definitely tell the coworker to email you directly from now on and explain that it’s making the company look bad, not because it’s drawing attention to your mistake, but because it makes you look disunited. If she doesn’t comply, make sure your manager really, really understands how disloyal this looks to the outside world and ask them to make it stop. This is a really big deal.

    1. Lilysparrow*

      Yes – the last thing you want to do with a tweet that has incorrect dates in it, is RETWEET IT! Coworker is just adding to the potential confusion and making the company look more chaotic.

  58. Anon because my example may out me*

    OP#1, I have to disagree – 3 errors in 6 months IS a big deal if it’s on things like dates, information to clients, etc. (typos, not so much – I’m sure it happens). It’s concerning not only that it’s happening, but also that you aren’t catching them (beforehand or after-the-fact). I used to be responsible for writing and sending out comms to our 3000 staff – typically 300-600 words a few times a week. In over 3 years, I probably made 3-4 big mistakes and a smattering of typos (the highlight would be one time I accidentally wrote “pubic” instead of “public” – the manager that “authored” it was furious until he realized it was me that did it and proceeded to tease me for the next 3-5 years. I’m sure there were at least 2-3 other instances where dates changed a few times and I inadvertently used the wrong one and then sent an update shortly thereafter).

    Your colleague isn’t right to respond this way – anyone who works in communications knows you don’t draw MORE public attention to an error – but I can see why they are concerned.

    With that in mind, here’s a few tips that might help you:

    1- Write your tweets in advance. Our social media team prepares non-spontaneous tweets a week ahead. they are proofread before posting.

    2- Have someone proofread your text/tweets whenever possible, especially if there are a lot of details (even in a small tweet).

    3- Always triple-check dates, times, locations before posting. Even if someone proofread it. Cross-reference with your source material to make sure everything is correct.

    You’ll never be perfect, but these will drastically reduce your error rate and make your life a lot easier. The last thing you want is someone showing up to an event a day late or after it ends because you posted the wrong time and your colleague didn’t catch it.

    1. Who Plays Backgammon?*

      I grok your example. A colleague one told me about making the “pubic/public” error once and was still embarrassed about it. Flash forward a bunch of years, and I’m working on web copy with frequent references to public sector, public employee, etc. Guess which possible error I was hyper-diligent to the point of paranoia about making? And it’s an easy one to make.

  59. Anon Librarian*

    #4 – Thank you so much for being who you are and doing what you’re doing. You’re setting an example. Others may follow your lead. You’re making a difference, whether you get to see results within this job or not.

    To everyone – there is a lot of this in tech! I found it to be so extreme and pervasive, I left the industry for a while to take a break from it all. It created a lot of logistical problems within the jon itself. You need to communicate with people in order to get work done. If people refuse to speak to you because you don’t look like them, how can you do your job? Every time I stood up for myself, I was retaliated against. It was ridiculous.

    So this is totally believable and I suspect OP is reading the situation correctly.

    As for looping in the project manager, I would say maybe or maybe not. That’s a judgment call; they could side with John. Regardless of whether they are a woman or a minority. Project management is a different kind of role; there’s a chance that person is more invested in impressing John than in standing up for the interests of the team. Or it could go the opposite way.

    Anyway, we need more people like OP.

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