employee “likes” critical posts on LinkedIn, avoiding dog-sitting for my boss, and more

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

1. Employee keeps liking critical posts on LinkedIn

I have an employee who I am connected with on LinkedIn. I am not their direct manager, but I am the head of their department (they report directly to my boss, though). I’ve noticed often in my newsfeed that this person likes articles on LinkedIn that tend to be critical towards managers, with titles like “how to deal with a bad manager” or “5 signs that you’re ready to quit your job.”

I don’t think this employee knows that people can see everything they like on LinkedIn (personally I don’t like this feature, but I’m also very careful not to like things that can be misread by others). What’s the best way let this employee know how visible this is to others? I don’t want to assume they have intent to quit based on something as simple as LinkedIn likes, but I have to wonder if senior managers (whom we are mutually connected with) are thinking the same things as me.

I’d lean toward leaving it alone and instead just taking it as possibly useful background info that the person isn’t terribly happy in their job or with their manager. If you managed their manager, I’d start paying more attention to how this person is being managed, and see if you spotted areas where their manager might need coaching or support from you. But since they report to your boss, that’s not an option.

If you have good rapport with this person, you could possibly talk to them about how things are going, and then mention it from there. But every time I’ve tried to come up with wording for this, it has ended up sounding overly Big Brother-ish. For example, let’s say you said this: “I don’t know if you know that your activity feed on LinkedIn shows every time you ‘like’ an article. I’ve noticed you’ve liked a bunch of articles about dealing with a bad manager or signs of being ready to quit a job. I don’t want to read anything into that, but I didn’t know if you knew LinkedIn shows that activity to other people.” It sounds like you’re policing the work-related articles he reads. And although you’re not — you’re talking about perception — I think it’s going to feel like overstepping.

2. Coworker solicits sex workers on Twitter

I have a coworker who does not seem to understand that Twitter replies are public. I stumbled on their account with replies that are soliciting prostitutes and reveal they are bisexual. I’m not sure the best way to let them know what they have done without completely embarrassing them. But if I don’t say something, they could be fired over the solicitation.

This is an interesting juxtaposition with the previous question! In this case, I do think you should tip them off, if you have any amount of good will toward them. I wouldn’t assume posts revealing their bisexuality are a problem — that’s not inherently something you should assume they want to hide — but soliciting sex workers publicly generally isn’t a great career move. You could say, “I came across your Twitter account and thought you might not realize replies you send are public — they can be seen by anyone looking at your account. There’s some stuff on there that you might want to take a look at.”

3. I don’t want to dog-sit for my former boss

I recently started a new job and left behind a manager with whom I had a great relationship. Mostly. While working for her, she asked if I would watch her dog while she was out of town on business for over a week. I agreed but instantly regretted it. For one, she lived 25 minutes away from the office and asked that I also go back to the house during lunch to let the dog out (something she did every day). Then, she required that her 85-pound and very elderly dog sleep on the bed with me every night. I don’t mind the dog on the bed, but the poor thing had arthritis and flat out refused to jump up with me. I ended up sleeping on the couch in the living room with her most nights while she slept in her dog bed. The dog also would get up at 3 am to use the restroom, an activity I had to accompany her to as she had problems getting down to the yard. Finally, while my boss did pay me, it was a fraction of what I have made dog-sitting elsewhere — not to mention there was nothing added in for the extra gas I was using going back and forth multiple times a day. I never mentioned my discontentment — I mostly just wanted it to end. She asked me to dog-sit a few times after (usually just for a night or two), but I was always busy so I could say no guilt-free. I assumed once my new job began, the requests would stop.

However, she has begun reaching out and asking for dog-sitting for a variety of upcoming work friends — some many months in advance. I just plain don’t want to do it — it’s not worth my time, energy or money! Not to mention, I now live with my boyfriend and we are settling into a new house. The last thing I want to do is sleep somewhere else. I want to keep in touch with my old boss, but I just don’t know how without these requests! Every time we talk, it seems a new dog request is tied to it. I’m worried this will force me to end our personal and professional relationship. Any advice?

Just say, “I’m not dog-sitting anymore. I’m sorry I can’t help!” If you feel like you have to give more of a reason than that (although you don’t!), you can say “I’m not dog-sitting anymore now that I’ve moved in with Barnaby” or “It just got to be too much with everything else I have going on.” Say it cheerfully and matter-of-factly (not like you think you’re dealing her a devastating blow) and then pivot to a different subject. Seriously, that’s it! You’re allowed to stop dog-sitting.

4. Can I wash my face at work?

We have a bathroom on our floor that everyone uses. I start work at 6:30 and my skin usually gets oily and thirsty by about the time for my first 15-minute break. Is it cool to wash my face in the bathroom sink as long as I used scent-free wash?

You should be fine as long as you’re not splashing water all over the place (or clean it up if you do) and not making anyone wait for the sink while you languidly lather cleanser into your skin. Get in, get out, don’t leave a mess, and it shouldn’t be a big deal.

5. Do we have to be paid for “working lunches”?

I work in a university library. Our new director (here about six months) came in during the strategic planning process. While the former director did the last strategic plan themselves and imposed it on us, the new dean wants us all to participate. Which means they have been commandeering our time left and right — the time we normally spend doing our actual jobs. Which is having a bad effect on our productivity for now but may end up being worth it in the long run. Maybe.

Anyway, their latest thing is holding a lot of “working lunches.” They seem to think that if they feed us, it counts as a “lunch break” even though it *seems* to be mandatory and we are doing work. I suppose the exempt people are out of luck, but what about the non-exempts? I don’t think this is legal. If the non-exempts don’t clock out for the “working lunch” and then clock out for their break before or after, that would be okay, but I doubt that’s happening. Our HR rep hasn’t been explicit about that being what they *should* do. And if the “working lunches” are not mandatory, that hasn’t been spelled out, either.

Yes, if they’re working lunches, your non-exempt people need to be paid for that time. Work doesn’t stop being work just because you’re fed during it. They should stay clocked in during the lunches, and then take their actual break before or after. (If you’re in a state that requires a lunch break, denying them that would be illegal. State-mandated lunch breaks must be free of work. If they’re in a meeting or otherwise working during that time, that doesn’t meet the state requirement.) That’s true whether these meetings are mandatory or not. If they’re there and working, whether by choice or not, it’s legally required to be paid time.

{ 364 comments… read them below }

  1. Kendra*

    LW3, don’t stress about this too much! Chances are, if she’s trying to steer other people and their dogs to you, she probably thinks she’s doing you a favor. If you genuinely needed the cash, and/or dog sitting was your actual side hustle, this would probably seem like a much more generous gesture on her part. (Also, she clearly feels like you took very good care of her dog! Take that part as a compliment, at least.)

    If you let her know it’s not your thing, she’ll find someone else; the hunt for a pet-sitter is VERY familiar and normal for most pet owners, and I seriously doubt she’ll get upset if you bow out.

    1. Devil Fish*

      Where do you see she’s trying to send other people to LW3?

      I’m pretty sure the sentence that says “work friends” is supposed to be “work functions” since “friends” being months in advance makes no sense and LW3’s issues with dog sitting seemed to be specific to her former boss/boss’s dog. (At first I thought the problem was going to be LW3 wanted to dog sit for former boss’s friends but not for former boss anymore, then I realized that sentence was probably wrong because Alison didn’t address that problem at all.)

      1. Naomi*

        As written it does look a little strange, but I interpreted it as a “Jane is going to the Bahamas in February and needs a dog-sitter” kind of thing. But even if that’s the case, it’s not a separate problem; OP doesn’t want to dog-sit at all and can just give a blanket no.

      2. Kendra*

        I read, “…she has begun reaching out and asking for dog-sitting for a variety of upcoming work friends — some many months in advance,” to mean “several of her work friends have upcoming events for which they’ll need a dog sitter, and she is recommending me to them.” I could definitely be wrong! But I think my basic point still stands – I wouldn’t stress too hard about walking away from dog-sitting, and I doubt the LW’s former boss will get upset about it.

      3. Falling Diphthong*

        Friends or functions, boss is probably thinking “And OP is so cheap, much less money than I would have to pay to anyone else!” and not following that through to “… which is why she did it when she was my subordinate, rather than say no or negotiate for no money.”

        LW, just say no. The earlier you puncture this bubble, not letting her build up expectations of how happy you always are to accommodate her dog-sitting needs, the easier it will be on both sides. There will probably be some awkwardness–awkwardness happens in life!–and the way to deal is to set the new boundary while the awkwardness hasn’t built up too high. If you give in now, and the next three times, and then start trying to send hints, the awkwardness just grows and drags and gets harder to climb back out of.

        Don’t explain why moving in with your boyfriend means you can’t dogsit, just state it and move on.

        -someone whose 2 dogs go to a kennel, and 2 cats are watched by a paid neighbor child

      4. ChimericalOne*

        I read it the way Naomi & Kendra did at first, but the word “upcoming” makes it clear that you’re right — she must’ve meant functions (no one has “upcoming work friends”) — and besides, the OP wouldn’t have gone on & on about how much of a pain it is to watch her boss’s dog in particular if she wasn’t being pressured to watch this same dog again! Still, she probably does think this arrangement was mutually beneficial. As Alison says, just telling her you’re not doing dog-sitting anymore, that it’s gotten to be too much of a hassle, etc., and I’m sure she’ll understand.

      5. Jennifer*

        She may think she’s helping her out by getting her some side gigs to make money, but she doesn’t need it, and she’s not really making any money when you factor in gas.

        The OP just has to tell her that.

        This reminds me of why I’ve never asked anyone to dog sit because my dog is a handful. She gets up at 3 am to pee and sleeps with us too.

    2. Liz*

      This. I dog sit for a number of people at work. I’m usually able to do it as its extra money, and no one is all that far away from work. But there are time I can’t, and I just say sorry, can’t do it those days. NEVER has it been an issue.

    3. BadWolf*

      I agree that Boss might think she’s doing the OP a favor — some extra cash for someone just starting working (even if the cash/expense didn’t really shake out). And clearly thinks OP did a good job.

      There’s nothing wrong with declining. There is a moderate chance that Boss is really only keeping contact as a line on a dog sitter (not consciously just as thing that reminds Boss to get in touch) . If OP doesn’t dog sit, that contact may dry up a bit. Not out of anger or malicious, just because there’s not a strong need.

    4. Lime Lehmer*

      LW3, it can be difficult to find pet sitters, so former boss is probably sharing your name as a resource. HOWEVER, you can just say NO.
      Alison’s suggestion that you tell her you are no longer pet sitting is a good one. Why you are no longer doing this is no one’s business but yours.
      And should you choose to do so in the future, you are not required to sit for anyone that you do not wish to because of distance or any other reason.

      I just finished taking care of a friends dog since she could not find a sitter, and after driving 25 minutes twice a day, I am reminded as to why I do not have a dog.
      Hang in there! No one can make you do something you don’t want to.

    5. Natalie*

      Thank you all for your suggestions for my question re:dog sitting!! As many of you guessed, “work friends” was a typo and should have been “work events”. I struggle with just saying no and not giving an explanation – something I’ve always had a problem with.

  2. voyager1*

    LW: I think before involving yourself with this coworker. You really need to know 3 things:
    1: What kind of work is he doing (quality wise)?
    2: What kind of relationship he has with his manager?
    3. What kind of relationship does he have with his coworkers?

    You have a glimpse of what he is interacting with on Linkedin, but you really have no basis to as to why. Obviously the easy answer is he dislikes his manager. If he dislikes his manager the next question should be why. And who knows what rabbit hole you may get.

    Your letter is kind of the opposite to the letter from last week where the employee heard management saying she “wasn’t leadership material.” Without knowing the why, all you have is guessing.

    1. Kathlynn (Canada)*

      Cound even just be that he’s had a bad manager in the past, or has a lot of friends/family with bad management. And is reading the articles to help him know how to offer advice

      1. valentine*

        Or he’s a manager or wants to be one or wants to be on the lookout for signs he wants to quit. Or he just thinks the articles are well-written! There are so many possibilities, I hope no one else is judging him for this.

        1. Mookie*

          Also, some people will faithfully “like” anything of substance they’ve read to completion to “tip” the author for their work. Others “like” the way people bookmark, so they can compile a list of things they might need to consult in future. Lots of valid explanations; while the LW’s concern is real, I disagree with her that most people, management included, would find this pattern of ticking a box concerning.

          1. MCMonkeyBean*

            Yeah there are so many perfectly normal and mundane reasons they are liking these articles, OP is reading WAY more into this than they should. Please take several steps back, OP!

          2. MsM*

            Or they like the person who posted it and are giving a thumbs up as a way of saying “hey, I see you.”

          3. Elizabeth West*

            Yep, I do this on YouTube for people I’m subscribed to even if the video didn’t thrill me. (Only if I actually watch it, however. Anything that annoys me, like mukbangs, I skip entirely.)

            Same with tweets. We often like those not because we *like* them but because we agree with them. That may be the case with the OP’s coworker.

          4. Cassandra J Lems*

            Yes! When I “like” something on social media, it means (depending on which website it is) I am bookmarking something to refer to later, or I thought it was good advice and/or well written, or I am simply indicating that I already read this article. Someone reading more into it than that is the reason I do not “link up” or “friend” people I currently work with. I would be really annoyed to have someone try to read significance into the articles I “like” online.

            1. Anna*

              Yeah. Alison says it would “seem” like overstepping because it is overstepping. OP is reading WAY more into it than is probably intended.

          5. TootsNYC*

            I also wonder how many of them will see it–do people really hang around analyzing the pattern of likes on LinkedIn? I guess they must.

            1. Missy*

              Sure thing. The analytics of what is liked, posted, and shared is something that they will look at to try and determine trends. Do AM posts get more interaction than those in the afternoons? Are certain topics more popular? Lists vs. articles? Social media managers look at all that stuff to try and tweak how to get the most engagement.

            2. Filosofickle*

              My guess is they aren’t actually “analyzing”. Which could actually make it worse. You happen to notice a few likes on a particular topic, and it sticks in your mind. You don’t investigate or notice other kinds of likes, which might even contradict the perceived trend.

              I have done this, not intentionally. On FB I had a friend who was recently divorced and (seemed to) constantly post / like posts about emotional abuse and narcissism. It did make me wonder if this was commentary on that relationship, and if she was aware the impression she was creating. But there are other explanations, too, and it’s possible that confirmation bias had me only noticing those posts.

      2. T3k*

        I was thinking this too. I’ve had my share of good and bad managers so even now with a good one, I like/read articles about bad managers, leaving jobs, etc just to get an idea if I was right leaving bad job in the past or if I ever need to consider certain things in the future.

      3. Tallulah in the Sky*

        Came to say this too. There are a lot of reasons why he would be interested in posts like that (bad past experience, friend or SO dealing with a bad situation,…). And although like Alison suggested, I would take this opportunity to check in on them (manager and employee) because you never know, I don’t think many people would notice this pattern and make broad assumptions about it. This isn’t a big deal.

      4. Cercis*

        This is what I was thinking. My first job out from a really bad manager, I ended up liking a lot of these articles because having a good manager allowed me to see just how bad that previous manager was. Of course, I talked to my new manager about my past experience and contrasted it with the good manager and we spent a lot of downtime figuring out how not to be that bad manager.

        It never occurred to me that someone outside the situation would think that I was unhappy with my current job.

      5. sunny-dee*

        These are both the scenarios I thought of. I have had a couple of truly abysmal managers, as has my husband, and also my husband is in management and really enjoys reading management articles — this is exactly the kind of thing I could like, and it has nothing to do with my current (awesome) manager.

        Recently, my husband was laid off, and I was looking at several articles on LinkedIn about job hunting that I could sent to him, as well as different LinkedIn job postings. It had nothing to do with me or my job, and it would have been really worrisome if someone had tried to report that to my manager.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      FWIW, I read “bad boss” articles all. the. time. My current boss is one of my life-time favorite bosses. She has that rare mix of warmth and smarts that we would all like to see more often. The employee might think of it as a mix of therapeutic for themselves and a public service for others.

      I also read a lot of true crime stuff and have no interest in doing anything remotely criminal. I think many people read stuff that has very little to do with their current life and has no reflection on their future intentions either.

      1. Name Required*

        Same here! I have had terrible bosses in the past, but love where and with whom I work now. Liking an article about bad management on LinkedIn would absolutely not be reflective of my current situation.

      2. Fiddlesticks*

        Actually, I love reading “bad boss” and “bad employee” posts here because they make me appreciate my great boss and my (mostly) great coworkers even more! Seriously! Sometimes I’m having “one of those days” and I feel grumpy about something my coworkers said or something my boss asked me to do, and then I read Ask A Manager and I realize all over again how lucky I am to have my job. It has NOTHING to do with hating my job or my field or work or wanting to find different employment.

        It’s also why I read advice columns like Dear Prudence and Carolyn Hax and Ask Amy – you read most of those letters and you realize, hey, my friends are really pretty great, my relatives are not nearly as awful as they could be, my husband is a saint to put up with me, and my life is pretty darn good on the whole. It gives me a whole new perspective. :)

    3. Mel*

      The thing about the LinkedIn stuff is that he might *like* his manager, but still have bad past experiences that make him quick to like articles about horrible bosses.

      I love my current job, but it doesn’t erase the couple of truly horrible managers in my past.

    4. Boomerang Girl*

      He may have aspirations to be a manager and want to read up on what NOT to do. There are lots of books and articles on what to do to be a great leader, but it’s interesting to read about bad managers too. That’s why I come here…

    5. It's Just Like*

      I frequently “like” articles on LinkedIn simply because they’re written by former classmates, coworkers, or others in my network. I just want to support their efforts in writing useful articles, and to help them get more readers by spreading them to my own network.

    6. TootsNYC*

      it’s possible that his LAST boss was the bad boss, and the current one is fine.
      it’s possible that he just likes dramatic stories, or drama in general (and maybe his own work life doesn’t provide enough)

      There’s also the possibility that someone who thinks their boss is awful is actually the one who is in the wrong–not always, maybe not even often, but possible.

      Fundamentally, gather information before you make decisions or come to conclusions.

      If you see no warning signs in the current situation, then you might say, “Hey, LinkedIn is showing me a lot of ‘likes’ from you on the stories about bad bosses. Since everyone can see what you’ve ‘liked,’ you might think about any kind of message people inside the company might be drawing about you or your boss.”

    7. Caramel & Cheddar*

      All of this. I like my boss a lot! But I’ve had bad bosses in the past and I’m interested in what good management looks like, and so I’ll share that kind of content on social media. Nothing to do with my boss or my happiness level (which is quite high!) in my job.

  3. Lena Clare*

    I actually do think that letters 1 and 2 should be treated the same; mention it to both of them. Yes, soliciting sex workers can harm your reputation in work (it shouldn’t), but so can articles about believing your manager is a bad boss.

    And fwiw, in an ideal world, I’m of the opinion that what you put on your private social media accounts, provided it’s not illegal, or racist or sexist or whatever, should not matter. But I get that it does.

    I think the difference for me is: soliciting sex is something that affects only the ‘solicitor’, liking posts that indicate you think your boss is doing a bad job involves your boss in a roundabout way.

    1. Bilateralrope*

      Thing is, in both cases we are talking about public social media activity. Not private.

      Might it be time for a company wide email reminding people about what is and isn’t private on social media ?

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        I’m not sure it makes sense for a company-wide email about social media. It has a high likelihood of feeling like Big Brother, and it may not clue the employees in letters #1 and #2 onto the harm they may experience from their social media activity.

        But I do think it’s worth speaking to both of them.

        1. JSPA*

          I think it’s worth, in each case, talking about the problem within your department or in a general conversation, with a focus on how “kids / friends / houseguests / pranksters / disgruntled exes of any sort / swatters in your gaming community / your own accidental stray clicks” can mess with how people see you, or even make you appear criminal.

          If you ever [leave your phone in someone’s hands / your computer logged in to accounts while you’re gone / your password unchanged, and anyone knows or could guess it / have posts, replies or likes you may have made without realizing they were visible to others],” you should check your digital visibility. You should specifically give special attention to, “all of the likes and replies which are, of course, visible to [people you’re linked to /people those linked people are linked to / the entire world].” Suggest that everyone check their social media accounts and delete Any and All things that should not be visible to [coworkers, managers, clients, friends and family, the entire world].

          If anyone needs to know how to make past posts, likes, tweet replies etc private (or delete them) you’d be glad to recommend a how-to.

          This is a case where reminding extra people in passing has very little negative repercussion; you’re stating upfront that the clicks and posts may not be actually theirs. And you’re therefore focusing on helping people take control.

          1. EventPlannerGal*

            I get where you’re coming from at I think that type of information can be really useful, but I don’t know if it’s a great way to address one specific situation/person or if it should come from employers. Like, my past employers have rarely, if ever, done anything out of pure altruism. If I was called into an all-staff meeting where my employers started talking about how just so you all know, not naming any names, sometimes your social media might make you or the company look bad or criminal and you might get fired, just letting you know in case you didn’t know already……… I wouldn’t be like “oh that’s so nice, thank you for being so helpful to us!”. Maybe I’m too cynical but it would give me major Big Brother vibes and I would still assume it was targeted at someone, I just wouldn’t know who.

            I do think it’s important information, though, I just feel like it should be coming from somewhere else. Schools and colleges?

              1. EventPlannerGal*

                Yeah, thanks. That part was more of an observation, but feel free to ignore the rest of it.

          2. Lynn Whitehat*

            Every one of these platforms works differently, in terms of who can see what. And from inside the account, it’s not always obvious what is visible to just the person you are talking to vs all your contacts vs also all their contacts vs everyone on earth. It’s also not always obvious what is technically visible if someone wanted to spend a hundred hours digging vs being deliberately pushed out.

            A generic warning that “hey, stuff on social media is visible to others” is useless. Everyone will think “duh, that’s why I put it there”. Not realizing that you mean specifically articles they liked on LinkedIn, or that you mean they’re not doing Twitter direct messages right. It would have to be pretty specific.

      2. Maria Lopez*

        Or maybe suggest to the employee that another name be used for social media accounts, like your middle and last name.

        1. Devil Fish*

          This would be super weird to do on LinkedIn if that’s not how you’re known professionally. I don’t even understand the idea of having secret alt-named LinkedIn accounts, as opposed to just not doing something unprofessional on the one place online where you’re expected to be interacting primarily with your professional network. (Fwiw, I don’t think there’s anything unprofessional about liking the articles the coworker in L1 is liking (as long as those aren’t the only articles they’re liking) but if they have notifications set up to notify their entire network any time they like an article, that seems passive-aggressive af.)

          1. Lena Clare*

            Ah, this is an interesting point. I assumed those were the types of articles that were only being liked, but now I re-read the letter, that’s not what’s being said.

            That does change my view a bit then; I guess the person could be liking articles as a way to read them later, out of interest.

            And I’d either speak to both letter writers, or I’d speak to neither. But I’d treat them the same, despite the content, because what I’m effectively saying is: ‘the perception of what you’re doing on social media is affecting your reputation in work and possibly reflecting badly on the company, so you need to be more aware of it’.

            1. skunklet*

              you equate liking an article on Linkedin to reflecting badly on a company? That’s a stretch. there’s literally a million reasons why someone would like an article about dealing with bad managers.

            2. Tinuviel*

              The thing is, I don’t think liking helpful work-related articles is anything negative. We read “should I quit my job” letters here on AAM and it doesn’t have anything to do with our actual lives. But proactively soliciting people (which could be illegal in some places) is very different. Can still debate whether social media is private but one of these is not a problem IMO.

        2. JSPA*

          For something like personal twitter, this works until Big Data decides to link your accounts based on, say, IP address and browser history or suggesting that those names are aliases via a “find this person” page.

          Frankly, I’d more or less ignore the bad job / manager stuff, as someone could “like” those posts in the same way people pay good money to watch horror movies, or because it (still) reminds them of terribly toxic old job.

          1. Harper the Other One*

            I like your last paragraph because let’s be honest, all of us who read THIS website get a bit of a thrill/fascination out of reading about the awful managers/thorny employees/etc., even if we’re not currently dealing with any of the above!

          2. Mel*

            Yes, exactly! Bad manager stories resonate with people who’ve had bad managers, even if their current manager is fab.

            And if you’ve never had a bad manager it’s a bit like rubbernecking (also, you have an ethical obligation to share the names of all your employers, so other people know about these magical places)

          3. Smithy*

            Coming here to say this!

            If the person is particularly young/new in their career – maybe this reads differently. But someone who’s had a an few jobs – who knows what major bad manager scars they carry and thrill of reading article about it. It could also be that the serial “liker” has a friend who works for the website that publishes a lot of these or writes a lot of them. I’m in a field where my friends/colleagues aren’t published often. But when they are I always “like” their articles out of professional solidarity/congrats. It could also be that this person has strong management aspirations and is seeking those articles out particularly to know what not to do.

            Openly soliciting sex workers has fewer avenues of missed interpretation. The LinkedIn one is a bad combo of Big Brother and leaping to conclusions.

            1. Traffic_Spiral*

              Yup. There’s a zillion reasons for reading “bad boss” articles. There’s fewer reasons for soliciting a prostitute. Even if it’s 100% legal where he’s from and he’s not cheating on anyone, a friend would give you a heads-up of “you know everyone can see your hooker stuff, right?” It’s the same courtesy I’d extend to someone who had TP stuck to their shoe.

          4. Falling Diphthong*

            Facebook’s notorious helpful attempts to connect your spouse and secret lover, figuring they seem to know some people in common.

            1. Quill*

              It finally stopped recommending me the person who is the reason I have PTSD a few years ago, possibly because he no longer uses facebook.

      3. Devil Fish*

        A general heads up about social media being public is a good idea if this isn’t just one employee with some borderline questionable actions on their feed. If it’s literally just one person, a company-wide email directed at one person is passive-aggressive (and Murphy’s Law says the one person it’s being directed at won’t notice anyway)—also it’s a bad idea to alert the company and suggest they warn all employees if the one coworker’s indiscretions on social media might result in them being fired (why would you do that?).

        The question I have about Letter 1 is whether the coworker’s “likes” are just showing on his own profile or timeline or whatever or if LinkedIn is sending out a notification to his entire network every time he “likes” something. If it’s the latter, there’s a case to be made for letting him know that’s happening, the same way the other coworker should be informed that he seems to have accidentally posted some things publicly that should have been confined to DMs.

      4. Ms Cappuccino*

        I regret the time when I could have “liked” as many articles as I wanted in newspapers or magazine and nobody knew it. The world would be a better place if people minded their own business a little bit more. As long as co-worker reads these articles during her own time, nobody should have something to say about it. We really live in Big Brother society. Next we have cameras watching us in our homes ?

        1. Lena Clare*

          Oh yes, I completely agree!

          I think the settings on LinkedIn, IIRC, are a bit like Facebook’s; they change every now and then with the homogeneous updates and you have to manually go on to reset them to how you want them? They may not even realise that people can see.

          I’m on Twitter, with an account that is completely separate to my work one. I’m not on any other site though for this reason.

        2. snowglobe*

          You can read and enjoy articles without ‘liking’ them. Clicking the ‘like’ button is intentional, and not required.

        3. JSPA*

          Uh, you can “like” anything you want, inside your own head. When you click a button whose exact purpose is to let the world know what you like (and remember, however you may conceptualize it, that IS the actual function of pushing a “like” button) you can’t blame the world for knowing.

          1. Super Secret Squirrel*

            I can not blame the world for knowing, but I can roll my eyes and recommend you mind your own if you assume me liking something means I hate my job, think my manager sucks, or that I firmly believe a company I have dealings with is unethical for running prisons and detention centers for profit.

            One of these things is how I feel, actually.

        4. Venus*

          Some social media sites (FB) insert ‘things your friends have liked’ into our own feeds, so there is little way of minding one’s own business. It reminds me of a friend’s experience years ago with a sudden flood of websites for scantily clad women, which my friend didn’t at all want to see (objectification of others) although they weren’t going to judge the person looking at them, except that they wanted the flood to stop and they also realized it was their priest. They mentioned it to the priest, who was shocked that this was semi-public, and the problem quickly resolved itself.

          I now view a ‘like’ on social media as equivalent to a ‘share’.

        5. Falling Diphthong*

          But we volunteered for all the surveillance. It’s not the government tracking what we read; it’s ourselves either broadcasting what we read, view and like, or figuring ‘free’ means we don’t look too closely at any details of how the information is used and shared.

        6. rayray*

          I agree. I don’t even bother commenting or liking things on social media for the most part because I hated when someone would call me out on something they had seen online, or I’d mention something casually and they’d be all “Oh yeah I saw you liked that on facebook hur hur hur!”

          I also remember the time that it showed up that a friend of mine, a very staunchly religious guy liked a porn page. That was one of those times that really showed me that anyone can see your activity and to be careful about it.

        7. Elizabeth West*

          If you have smart devices and/or don’t cover your webcam, you probably already do. At the very least, they’re listening to you.

      5. Falling Diphthong*

        Eh, I’m pretty sure that in response to the company wide email, the people visibly soliciting sex workers will continue to believe that they did that using twitter stealth mode, while the people not visibly doing anything untoward on their social media will panic about what it looks like they’re doing.

        Agreed on these being public social media accounts, not private.

    2. LarsTheRealGirl*

      Eh, I disagree with the premise that they’re equivalent, and that all social media is equivalent.

      LinkedIn is specifically a professional site. Others, not as much (but still can be, especially if public).

      And content matters. If my employee was posting a whole bunch on her Twitter about knitting dog outfits, interacting with people who knit dog outfits, and the best ways to knit dog outfits…I’d be cordially amused, and move on. If she was doing the same thing on LinkedIn *and* our roles required more of a “professional” presence online…I MIGHT mention it to say that it was coming across as less than focused on our work.

      Benign content (dog knitting) should get treated differently than soliciting and possibly passive aggressive work commentary. I also think that if the guy posting “ways your manager sucks” we’re doing on his personal Twitter, it wouldn’t be the same. Content and context matter.

      (There’s no hard and fast rules – which is probably why Alison gets a lot of questions on this…)

      1. Lena Clare*

        Yes I agree. I think it’s interesting what people view as appropriate in content and context though.

      2. Roscoe*

        But he isn’t posting it, he is liking it, which to me is very different. He could find it to just be a really good article and like it, but to me posting it is kind of endorsing the message and purposely wanting others to see it. Liking it could just mean you found it interesting

        1. Detective Amy Santiago*

          Exactly. Maybe he’s friends with people who are writing these articles and is liking them to get more visibility. Maybe he has a friend or loved one with a shitty boss and is liking them so he can share them. There are plenty of benign reasons and it’s definitely overreaching to bring it up.

      3. MCMonkeyBean*

        Plus there’s a HUGE difference in actually posting about knitting dog outfits, based off of which it is reasonable to assume they are knitting outfits for dogs… and simply clicking the like button under and article about knitting dog outfits, based off of which the only thing that might be assumed is that they read an article about knitting dog outfits. (And honestly even that probably assumes to much, lots of people like posts after reading just the headline.)

    3. valentine*

      OP2: Be explicit that the problem is the illegal solicitation and that it’s a fireable offense. You don’t want this to backfire with the coworker reporting you and you telling your employer you meant the solicitation and not the bisexuality or anything else, thus leading to them firing the coworker.

      1. WS*

        Presuming that it’s illegal where OP2 lives, of course. But even in a lot of countries where sex work is legal (I’m in Australia, where it’s legal in many states), there’s strict regulations around it and using Twitter to solicit sex workers is generally not legal.

        1. Stuff*

          IIRC, it would be legal in Western Australia or South Australia. Lot of European countries actually ban brothels in favor of private solicitation.

        2. Anna*

          I think it’s more about it being their private activity and letting them know that if the OP found it, other people they work with might find it, and since a lot of people have hang ups about sex work, the OP wanted to give them a head’s up. It doesn’t even have to be about legality or morality or whatever. “Hey, this private thing you might want to keep private was easy for me to find. I wanted to let you know in case you wanted to lock it down.” The end.

      2. Dr. Glowcat Twinklepuff*

        Agree. If she has been discriminated against in the past, she may automatically assume the problem is with her bisexuality, instead of the soliciting. Then things could get really nasty. Her sexuality is no one’s business and I would leave it out completely.

    4. Eeeek*

      Hmm. In my opinion publicly soliciting sex shows absolutely terrible judgement regardless of my opinions on sex work. It’s also illegal. If someone was publicly buying cocaine on twitter that would also be bad.

      1. Stuff*

        Do we know what country or jurisdiction this happened in? Because soliciting a prostitute is legal in a great many places, such as the UK, Italy, Spain, multiple Mexican and Australian states. Quite a bit of Europe and Latin America, actually.

        1. EventPlannerGal*

          I don’t know about attitudes in the other countries you mention, but I think that in UK even if it is legal (I didn’t know it was!) it would still be pretty scandalous if it was discovered. There’s a lot of things which might be technically legal but aren’t a great idea to talk about on your easily-discoverable-by-work-colleagues social media.

          1. Daisy*

            *Public* solicitation (like kerb crawling) is illegal, but contacting a prostitute isn’t. I’m not sure where public Tweets @ the prostitute would fall on this?

            1. Akcipitrokulo*

              I’m not sure if it’s been tested! How public is twitter? My guess would be a locked post would be ok, public illegal nut nal.

    5. Mary*

      #2 depends A LOT on what “stumbled upon” means. “Twitter user @JaneCPublishing with a photo of herself liked a tweet by our employer’s account and when I clicked to see if it was Jane Clueless in our office I saw she’s soliciting sex workers” is super different from “I spent a good twenty minutes online-stalking Jane Clueless, and eventually found her social media accounts under the name @HotBiGal OH HO HO”.

      Yes you should still be careful online, but there’s a certain amount of plausible deniability and reasonable expectation of privacy, and if it’s the case that co-workers or clients could only find your social media accounts with some dedicated searching, they should close that tab and pretend they never saw it.

    6. That Girl from Quinn's House*

      Some prominent Twitter accounts have been hacked recently, it would be really easy to say, “I think your account has been hacked, there’s some sexually explicit Tweets showing up with your name on my Feed.”

      Then the person has the option to pretend their account was hacked, to save face.

    7. Missy*

      I guess that I don’t see a “like” of an article as meaning that it is something I’m dealing with. I read a lot of parenting stuff and I’m not a parent, I just find it interesting. If I’m liking an article about how to help your child be more creative it isn’t because it is something I deal with, it is because it was well written and interesting. I think that assuming that a like of an article means something is strange. If the topics were advocating for something troubling that would be different (your employee liking an article entitled “Teapot Designers are All Evil and Should Be Sent to Jail” is a problem if you are a teapot designer) but general advice articles are mundane and can be enjoyable even if you aren’t experiencing the issues they talk about.

  4. Heidi*

    For OP1: I also favor ignoring the likes and saying nothing. Liking an article doesn’t mean he’s unhappy at his job, really. He might have had a bad manager at a previous job. Or he knows the person posting the article on LinkedIn and wants to support them by adding to their likes. Or maybe he thinks it’s a well-written article. I can understand that it might an issue of bad optics, but if someone I worked actually commented on my liking patterns, I would not be impressed.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Right — I run plenty of articles here about dealing with bad bosses that are read by people who presumably don’t all have major complaints about their managers.

      1. Third or Nothing!*

        I read them for the drama. Some of these letters sound straight out of a telenovela! AAM bad manager posts are my guilty pleasure.

    2. Amethystmoon*

      The commenting on likes thing is why I hardly ever use LinkedIn and I make my Facebook activity feed private. But not everyone knows how to do that. Oh yeah, I rarely use Twitter and my account isn’t under my real name. To me if one is going to friend coworkers on social media, keep that account separate from whichever one you use to comment on news articles/like political posts/etc. Don’t use your real name on the commenting account. Most of the news sites will take an account besides Facebook these days.

      1. Kendra*

        The one time one of my coworkers figured out my Twitter handle and mentioned something he’d seen on there, I just about died of mortification. I didn’t even have anything particularly embarrassing on there, just a lot of me being goofy and weird. I think it was the collision of my work and online personas; those two should never, ever meet (at least, mine shouldn’t; many people don’t have sharp mental divisions between online & real life, but if you do, it’s definitely a trip through the looking glass to bump into the “other you”).

        1. Quill*

          My twitter’s always going to be semi-professional, as I am hoping to eventually use it for networking with other writers, but I still cringe at the idea of coworkers having too much information about me… even if that information is me joking about genre cliches or what have you.

      2. Czhorat*

        That’s one approach.

        Having a limited visibility and footprint is safer, but also costs you the opportunity of easy networking with others in your industry. In some roles and some industries a lack of social media presence can hold you back nearly as much as a poor one; I can’t see myself ever withdrawing from social media, and I use my real name everywhere (including, of course, here).

        1. Amethystmoon*

          Well, I do use LinkedIn a bit — had to for Toastmasters, as I was my club’s VP of PR last year. But I like my current job, so right now, I don’t really network that much. I do have a few former co-workers on Facebook, mostly those who I became friends with at work. However, I don’t use that site for commenting on news articles or political stuff.

          1. Czhorat*

            PRobably industry dependent as well; I usually spend at least an hour every Sunday on a weekly industry twitter-discussion on the commercial AV industry. Being absent from those discussions would distance me from industry peers.

    3. President of the Lutheran Sisterhood Gun Club*

      And maybe he’s hoping to be a manager in the future and trying to learn how to be good at it.

      1. Jedi Squirrel*

        This exactly. I read a lot of stuff about what bad managers do to make sure I handle things differently.

      2. Antilles*

        It’s easy to learn from your own failures, the real trick is learning from other people’s.

        1. Jedi Squirrel*

          “Learn from the mistakes of others. You don’t have time to make them all yourself.”

          Eleanor Roosevelt (supposedly)

    4. Dennis Feinstein*

      I’m lucky to have good managers now and have mostly had good managers in the past. Doesn’t mean I don’t read articles about bad managers/jobs. I mostly read AAM (and recommend it to others) because it’s so enjoyable to read about other people’s horrifying managers/jobs (and because it provides valuable insight into my own past managerial mistakes and good advice for improving in the future). I’d make no assumptions about the employee’s reading habits and keep my mouth shut about them.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        It’s true we can learn so much through stories. It’s a way to figure out how we are coming across to others, too. I can say something and be pretty certain I was clear then I later learn that what I said sounded ambiguous for [reasons]. We can let other people’s situations sharpen us in our own settings.

    5. Doctor Schmoctor*

      Of he reads articles about management, to learn from them.

      I’m not a manager (don’t want to be one), but reading about management has helped me in my job.

    6. The Original K.*

      Yeah, I agree. I would be kind of creeped out if my coworker commented on my LinkedIn liking patterns, to be honest.

    7. Doug Judy*

      This exactly. I read about and “like” a lot things. Not all of them a relevant to my life, either currently or at all (ie: true crime). I’d hate for my employer to feel the need to comment or police that. #2 is a bit different because depending on location that could be illegal. But liking a few articles about bad management is pretty innocuous.

    8. Coyote Tango*

      I would go further and say that if I was at just “meh” with my manager before this, if my manager decided I needed to have A Very Concerned Conversation about stuff I’m liking on LinkedIn it would definitely tip the scales if I otherwise was doing good work.

    9. Sharkie*

      I wouldn’t say anything. I once liked and commented (nothing horrible just responding to another comment) on an article about mirco managing on linked in. I got 10 messages from co-workers from the previous job asking if the comment was about a certain manager. It was really creepy- if you thought that manager was bad why didn’t you say anything on the job?

    10. BottleBlonde*

      Yeah, I think people have different-enough ways of engaging with social media that I wouldn’t read much from this. The only times I really “like” anything on Linkedin is if it’s something a friend wrote and I want to support them. My colleagues who don’t know my sister is an environmental engineer probably think I’m super passionate about wastewater treatment.

    11. Mayor McCheese*

      +1. There’s so many reasons that this could be happening that are totally normal–workforce issues are relevant to just about everyone. I’ve had great managers for years but am sometimes reading these things to help a friend or family member navigate a situation, to better my own skills, to learn about healthy workplace environments in general, to process and learn from a past bad situation, or to figure out how to work best with all kinds of other work contacts.

    12. Avocado Toast*

      I came here to say this! I am IN LOVE with my current job, but the job I was at before this was really rough on me. Articles that hit home with me based on what I went through there are very interesting to me and I wish I had read some of them during my time at my previous job. I sometimes share things on my social media in hopes that others in a similar situation can benefit….but not at all because I’m unhappy with my current job.

  5. 867-5309*

    OP1, I was in a similar situation a few years ago, when new connections showed in LinkedIn feeds. I was able to see that a coworker was connecting with several recruiters. I just mentioned it in passing, “Hey Sandy, I’m not sure if you realize it but your LinkedIn settings are showing that you’re connecting with a bunch of recruiters. Just letting you know in case you don’t want people to see that information.” That said, I’m included to agree with Heidi above that in many cases it’s completely innocuous and not worth making a thing about it.

    Similarly, my boss actually mentioned to me that my “passion” was coming through a little too strong on LinkedIn. He said he was concerned about how I might personally be perceived by weighing in on topics that blur the line between professional and general public commentary. (Example: I have strong opinions on the tobacco industry and someone in my 2nd level network works in marketing for them. I have commented more than once that I think the industry is unethical and find it disturbing when they win awards. Even if someone agrees with me, the frequency with which I weigh-in on such things was starting to be a bit much.) I appreciated his feedback, even if it was a tad embarrassing.

    1. Anonymous - Philadelphia*

      On your first point – I think the dynamic is different if you’re just a coworker rather than someone’s boss or in the reporting structure. I wouldn’t feel nearly as weird if a peer tipped me off, but knowing a boss knows this is a whole different thing and makes you worry about what they’re thinking about you.

      1. LizardOfOdds*

        Totally agree it’s different coming from a boss. I received feedback from a boss one time that was similar to the topic here. She told me, “I’ve noticed you’re following other companies and connecting with recruiters on LinkedIn. Are you trying to leave?” The answer to her question was “yes,” but she was a toxic manager and I didn’t want to say that out loud. I was glad she mentioned it, though, because I got a whole lot more vigilant about my privacy settings while I was job hunting.

    2. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Perhaps off topic, but while I understand your strong opinions on the tobacco industry, I also think that a lot of the employees in that industry have those jobs because it’s a good job and they don’t have other options. If you’re just trying to put food on the table and that’s the best of bad options, sometimes you don’t get your druthers. Principles are partially a luxury. At least based on your description, you’re coming off as very close to personal attacks on people.

  6. Que Syrah Syrah*

    OP2, this is one of the very, very, very rare circumstances where I think an anonymous note is an ok path to take. It allows your coworker to save face while being given a heads up that he might need to watch it a bit, and this circumstance is unlikely to yield the “OMG WHO SENT THIS AND NOW I DON’T KNOW WHO THIS IS FROM AND CAN’T TRUST ANY OF MY COWORKERS DOES EVERYONE FEEL THIS WAY ABOUT ME?!” that using an anonymous note for feedback typically would. I know if I were your coworker, I’d think, “ooh, yikes, good looking out, whoever you are, Anonymous Emailer. Thanks for not calling this out in person and pretty much changing the dynamic of our relationship forever.”

    Set up a burner email and shoot him a quick note, or a burner twitter handle and do the same. I think he’d thank you for it (or she, whoever it is).

    1. Kendra*

      Eh, I’m not sure about using the anonymous route here; depending on whether or not they’re out as bisexual, or how seriously your state takes solicitation, an anonymous message like that could feel like the beginnings of blackmail if they’re at all paranoid.

      I would stick with something low-key, matter-of-fact, and not written down; sort of how you’d say, “your fly is open,” or “there’s toilet paper stuck to your shoe.” You’re trying to help them avoid embarrassment, not cause it.

      1. Devil Fish*

        Seriously. There is no way for an anonymous heads up to not sound at least a hundred times worse than if the heads up has a name attached or is in person. Anons almost always seem borderline threatening, especially if they’re talking about something that’s illegal and/or could result in disciplinary action at work.

        I would say something like “I was on Twitter the other day and I saw a couple tweets from you that I think were accidentally posted publicly instead of being DMs. Just wanted to let you know!” and definitely agree it needs to be in the tone of Hey there’s some TP on your shoe. If it turns out coworker is out and proud about their solicitations just smile and nod and go “Okay cool! Just wanted to say something in case it was an accident!”

        1. Kendra*

          Not necessarily; they may feel free to be open about it semi-anonymously online, but still not want their parents or supervisor to know.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            A few years back a pol replied to a tweet with “love you” thinking it was only going to one person, rather than to all of his constituents. In his case, it turned out the young woman was not a secret mistress but his daughter, whom he hadn’t known existed until her mom told her who he was around age 20 and she contacted him. They had built a relationship over the past couple of years, but not one they had intended to announce via twitter reply.

            I assume the “bi” deduction is from Fergus messaging both male and female sex workers, rather than his posting links to academic articles on bi issues.

            1. Scott*

              I am the poster who asked the question. Yes, the individual was looking for both male and female sex workers and liking a lot porn from both sides. It seemed clear.

        2. Quill*

          Not necessarily, you can be out to some groups (online aquaintances, school friends) and not out in your personal life to family, or, especially work.

          There are still a lot of places you can be fired for being queer. And as social media transitions from smaller, functionally closed groups to environments like twitter where you can literally find anyone whether you know them or not, anonymity, especially of things like replies and likes (which can be turned off for your personal account: maybe coworker doesn’t know that turning off your timeline’s likes and replies doesn’t hide yours from other people?) becomes a rarer beast.

          1. Scott*

            We work in a very accepting environment, but from what I know about their personal life, I don’t think their family and friends would be as accepting.

        3. Gazebo Slayer*

          Speaking as a bi person, I’ve been out online under several pseudonyms, and I’m out to friends and some acquaintances as well as some members of my family. But I’m not out to the more conservative parts of my family, my orientation has rarely come up at work, and I’m not out online under my real name.

          1. Quill*

            Yeah, I would avoid being out at work too, but being ace I didn’t want to speak to the bi experience – just that, in my opinion, the less your workplace knows about you the better!

        4. Cranky Neighbot*

          1. They don’t know it’s public.

          2. You can be out in one context and not in another. I’m not 100% out at work.

    2. Phoenix Programmer*

      No. An anonymous note is really unkind. Alison’s script is perfect. It leaves plausable deniability on all sides.

    3. JSPA*

      “someone with a twitter handle that looks like it might be you, has some public replies to personal tweets, that probably shouldn’t be public. Just a friendly reminder, on the off chance that it is you, not someone with same name, that your “replies” and “likes” are nearly as public as intentional tweets. And if someone’s messing with you by using your twitter, you should know that, too.”

      On the other hand, if there’s a risk you’re outing their kid who’s using dad’s twitter to fool around…or their spouse, who shares their twitter…I don’t know? (same sex or opposite sex).

      1. Constantine Binvoglio*

        “someone with a twitter handle that looks like it might be you, has some public replies to personal tweets, that probably shouldn’t be public. Just a friendly reminder, on the off chance that it is you, not someone with same name, that your “replies” and “likes” are nearly as public as intentional tweets. And if someone’s messing with you by using your twitter, you should know that, too.”

        This is way too complicated. I had to read it more than once to follow all the maybes and off chances.

        Just say what you mean, people!

        On the other hand, if there’s a risk you’re outing their kid who’s using dad’s twitter to fool around…or their spouse, who shares their twitter…I don’t know? (same sex or opposite sex).

        This is where thinking horses, not zebras comes in handy. It’s more likely the coworker than it is someone else using the coworker’s Twitter handle for things that they would not want to get caught doing.

    4. Sahara*

      Oh hell no. Do not send anon notes. Not ever. That’s creepy and weird and unnecessarily avoidant. If you genuinely believe something is a problem, have the damn guts to put your name to it.

      Anonymous notes are the province of the petty and the pathetic. Don’t be that person. That person is a jerk.

      1. Jedi Squirrel*

        Anonymous notes are the province of the petty and the pathetic.

        I could not have said it better.

      2. Wade Lynch*

        Robert Heinlein said it best. “Before my revered father died he made me promise him three things: first, never to mix whiskey with anything but water; second, always to ignore anonymous letters; and lastly, never to talk with a stranger who refuses to give his name.”

      3. Que Syrah Syrah*

        1. The point about the anonymous note possibly being taken in a blackmailing way is a very fair one, and thank you to those who pointed it out. Even as an LGBT person, I hadn’t considered that.
        2. This kind of absolutism and total dismissing of any different perspective or gray area, while I know typical on the internet because it scores you moral purity points, isn’t helpful. Not everyone agrees that an anonymous note is 100% wrong or unkind 100% of the time, there is a HUGE difference between staying anonymous to spare your own discomfort versus sparing the other party’s, and real life has to allow for complexity and nuance. Pretending that the only reason one would ever send an anonymous tip off is to serve their own interests/because they “lack guts” rather than trying to protect someone else’s feelings, and that there are no circumstances whatsoever where that might be the best route (even if rare) is disingenuous at best. I can understand this, even as someone who’s never sent an anonymous note in their life, and is insanely direct.
        3. And finally, someone who immediately and heavily implies that anyone who doesn’t see this your way is “petty and pathetic” without knowing anything else about them is not someone who I think has any business at all calling anyone else a jerk.

        And I’ll leave this here.

        1. Kendra*

          I’ve always thought nice anonymous notes were okay, within reason; if it were something like, “You’re a great coworker, and I’m glad we have you here!” I don’t think I’d be anything but happy to get it, even if it wasn’t signed. Sure, I’d wonder who it came from, but I’d probably assume it was either someone who was too embarrassed to say something sappy to my face, or someone trying to spread some generalized positivity in our workplace (sort of like that Warm Fuzzies thing, where you anonymously do something nice for someone and leave them a little puffball with googly eyes – the “warm fuzzy” – and then they’re supposed to pass it on).

          Closer to the point for this specific case, I can definitely see your original point (or at least, how I read your original point), that it might be less embarrassing for them not to have to look a specific person in the eye with the solicitations hanging in the background. Personally I’m kind of paranoid, and have read WAAAAAYYY too much of a particular type of fiction, but a less suspicious person might well never have the idea of blackmail cross their mind (as we’ve seen here). If the OP thinks their coworker might lean that way, that’s the one they should go with (and then just try to phrase the note as non-threateningly as possible).

          TLDR: like many things, it all depends on the specific people and circumstances involved.

  7. Maria Lopez*

    OP3- Do NOT give a reason for not dog sitting. Just, “I’m not dog sitting anymore” is enough. When you give a reason why that says to the other person that if they can get around that reason then you will dog sit (or whatever other thing it is you’re not doing anymore).
    Resist the urge to over explain or apologize.

    1. JSPA*

      If OP 3 is still occasionally dog-sitting, and visibly so, only not at the frequency, distance or price that boss is expecting,

      “I’ve cut way, way back on dog-sitting due to changes in my own life. It’s now only an occasional favor to a family member or nearby neighbors. In fact, I’m even transitioning my own family and neighbors away from asking for services. I’ll let you know if that changes, but for now, please don’t count on me or recommend me.”

      Mind you, if you had her thinking that this was a mutually beneficial agreement–it sounds like this is so?–it makes sense she’d have raved about you to all her friends. So this is not the time to get retroactively passive aggressive, which…might be tempting.

      1. Tallulah in the Sky*

        What makes you think this was a mutually beneficial agreement ? I saw nothing in the letter indicating that.

        1. BethDH*

          Because OP said they were paid and that they never told the boss any of their concerns or difficulties with the role, and gave logistical reasons for turning it down afterward. JSPA said the OP left the boss thinking it was mutually beneficial, not that OP personally thought it was.

          1. Tallulah in the Sky*

            Yep, apparently skipped that bit over when reading too quickly ^^”

            And I agree that it would have been better to give the actual reasons of why this wouldn’t be possible anymore. But that’s why you don’t ask favors of people you have power over. I totally understand OP not being upfront about those.

            1. MissGirl*

              I agree. This is why managers have to be careful what they ask employees to do outside of work. The OP is injecting a lot of stress about saying no she probably wouldn’t feel with an acquaintance. That said just say no.

        2. TootsNYC*

          “if you [the OP] had her [OP’s old manager] thinking that this was a mutually beneficial agreement”

          Hope that clears up the confusion.

          JSPA didn’t say that they [JSPA] thought it was mutually beneficial. JSPA was talking about the old manager’s possible perceptions.

      2. Constantine Binvoglio*

        “I’ve cut way, way back on dog-sitting due to changes in my own life. It’s now only an occasional favor to a family member or nearby neighbors. In fact, I’m even transitioning my own family and neighbors away from asking for services. I’ll let you know if that changes, but for now, please don’t count on me or recommend me.”

        I mean…again, that’s a lot longer than saying, “Sorry, I’m not doing much/any dog sitting anymore.”

      3. Falling Diphthong*

        In a LOT of cases, you cannot expect the people over whom you have power to give you an honest answer about how mutually beneficial it is when they dogsit for you at dirt cheap rates.

      4. Seeking Second Childhood*

        “I’m only doing dogsitting when I can walk to the animal’s house from mine.”

  8. Cathie from Canada*

    My sister dog-sits for vacationing pet owners, and she also sometimes works for a company that visits people’s homes to take care of pets, do walkies, etc. So there are services like this available in most communities, I would think. The needy boss should be urged to search out these services — she can ask local dog groomers, veterinarian offices, breed associations, and kennel clubs for recommendations.

    1. Personal Best In Consecutive Days Lived*

      Dog sitting is my actual side hustle and I think the main reason your former boss is asking is you did a wonderful job before. If you say no thanks she’ll look for another sitter, not be personally offended. You’re her first choice, not her only choice.

      1. CarolineChickadee*

        Also, she didn’t pay OP much- finding someone else will be more expensive. But that’s her problem, not OP’s.

  9. Who Plays Backgammon?*

    LW 4: You can get good facial cleansing towelettes at the drugstore so you don’t have to make with the container of cleanser and the washcloth and the rinsing and splashing in the restroom.

    1. JSPA*

      Adding wrapping and synthetic cleansing sheets to the waste stream isn’t necessarily what LW wants to do. Nor are they necessarily happy with the products in the pre-wrap stuff. Sounds like they’re washing their face exactly as someone would wash their hands, except it’s their face. I’d

      a) a wash face with hands
      b) use hands to skim extra water from face into bowl
      c) if sink area is otherwise kept clean and dry, use a hand scootch and puddled water back into the bowl
      d) wash hands briefly again
      e) dry hands and face however convenient
      f) if that drying generates a moist paper towel, use that to dry sink rim further.

      On the other hand, if you’re washing a bunch of makeup into the bowl and leaving a giant colorful smear, you need to clean up after yourself.

      1. Zombeyonce*

        I recently found out that almost all (maybe even all) of those disposable facial wipes contain microplastics that can make it into the water supply. I had no idea! Knowing that, I definitely wouldn’t recommend them to anyone. I hope OP is able to use regular cleanser and water.

      2. Cheluzal*

        I see… Nothing in the short note to indicate how they feel about those products. They could be the very thing they need!

      3. AnonAndFrustrated*

        I cannot believe we are at the point (on this forum or in society or at all) of needing these type of extremely specific, oddly detailed instructions on exactly how to wash one’s face in a work restroom (including that you must dry said washed face and how to use paper towels afterward). I thought the question from the LW May have even been a joke.

    2. Ms. Ann Thropy*

      There are washcloth-like towels which can be used with water (no cleanser needed) to clean your face. Very neat, takes off makeup and can be stored in a ziplock bag and tossed in a purse.

    3. your favorite person*

      I know this is unsolicited advice, it’s possible to be washing your face too much! I had the same issue for a long time, but it turns out I was making my face oilier by washing too frequently. Try to rinse with just water for a few days and see if that helps!

    4. RussianInTexas*

      These (and I tried various brands), give me breakouts 100% of the time.
      YMMV, but they are no go for me unless I am truly unable to do anything else.

      1. Ms. Ann Thropy*

        I am not talking about the premoistened face-cleaning towelettes. I mean the reusable, machine-washable cloths (I think it’s some kind of microfiber) that have no product in them. You wet them in warm water and wipe the makeup and oils, sweat, etc. off your face. They rinse clean and you can hang them to dry overnight (at home, of course).

        1. MCMonkeyBean*

          Yeah, literally just any microfiber towel has the same effect to my knowledge. I bought a big set of them on Amazon for cheap that came in a few colors and then declared yellow are for cleaning the bathroom, green for cleaning the kitchen, and blue for cleaning my face!

  10. Sassy*

    LW4: Your skin is probably dehydrated. Washing mid-day is drying you out. What you need is moisturizer.

    1. Mookie*

      The LW literally described her face as “thirsty.” Regardless, she knows what her skin needs and, yeah, she’s not asking for that kind of advice.

      1. Carlie*

        Which confused me. I’ve never heard someone describe skin as “thirsty” before, and I have no idea what it means. Skin doesn’t absorb water that way, only a tiny amount in the top layers if you soak it for a long time (“wrinkly fingers” in the bath kind of thing).

        I was thinking of oil-blotting papers as a suggestion. More degradable than wipes and take up very little space in a bag/drawer.

        1. Tallulah in the Sky*

          I don’t understand though, why is washing your face at the sink so bad ? It’s not like you’re taking twenty minutes to do it. Why would you need to buy more product and produce more waste for something that is quite… normal ? I don’t see the issue here. Do people get upset when somebody takes an extra minute or two at the sink and maybe put face cream on again ? Or am I missing something big ?

          1. Mel*

            It depends on the bathroom situation. At my work it would be a BIG problem, because we have a teeny, 2 stall bathroom with one sink. Even if your only taking a couple minutes, you’re trapping the other person in the restroom while they wait and now keeping anyone else from using the toilets.

            I have skin like the LW and I’ve worked for years to perfect a skin routine that does leave me in a lurch. But when the weather changes, all bets are off. I keep blotting paper in my purse.

            1. Tallulah in the Sky*

              OK. I admit that I sometimes also had to wait at the sink when someone is washing their hands, didn’t think it was that big of a deal. I guess OP could try for a week or two washing their face at the sink, and see if there’s that much traffic. And if so, then yes blotting papers if it works for OP. I’m all for everybody trying their best, but also doing what’s best for them and their situation :-)

            2. Parenthetically*

              If I were doing a quick face wash at work, it would take me about 30 seconds, tops. I can’t imagine being miffed about that even if I were literally in line directly behind LW!

              1. valentine*

                I can’t imagine being miffed about that even if I were literally in line directly behind LW!
                Right. I don’t care why someone’s using the sink. The person who spread their stuff all over and did some elaborate makeup routine while tens of people, including OP, needed the bathroom was way out of control, though.

        2. Mookie*

          Eh, I have oily skin, and it shines and oozes sebum while also feeling tight, shiny, and cracked. Again, though: the LW is not asking for an armchair diagnosis re skincare. She wants permission to do the thing she needs to feel comfortable.

          I understand her hesitation, because counterintuitively, washing your face (a body that, for most of us, everyone sees) at work, in semi-public, can feel intimate or inappropriate. I agree with Alison that, done correctly, it’s fine, but I do understand the fear of breaching a norm, that when said out loud, feels kinda weird.

            1. Carlie*

              I was thinking also of the hassle – even if a freshly cleaned face feels good, there’s still possible splash onto work clothes, getting your hair wet, water around the sink to dry off. I think the alternate suggestions are just wondering I’d there’s an easier way to achieve the same end.

              1. Parenthetically*

                I like the idea of a washcloth in a ziplock bag in your work bag — no splashing required to run a wrung-out washcloth over your face!

                1. Third or Nothing!*

                  That’s how I wash my face at home! It leaves very little mess so it’s a pretty quick part of my morning routine. I would suggest that if the LW wants to use soap, consider getting one of those tiny travel bottles of Dr Bronner castile soap. I love using that soap because it foams up nicely even without SLS and washes off quickly without leaving a residue.

  11. German Girl*

    #1 I actually really like my current job, and my previous jobs have been great as well. My bosses certainly had different strengths and weaknesses but I’ve never had a bad boss.

    Nevertheless I read/upvote/comment/like posts like that, because I want others to know that there are better jobs out there and they don’t have to put up with bad bosses or bad job situations.

    1. Bertha*

      I was thinking the same thing! I really like my job, but I know people who don’t.. and I’ll send these along to them.

  12. Lonely Monster*


    I’ve found facial wipes to be a life saver when traveling, or just needing to freshen up my face. I recommend that you look into them.

      1. Parenthetically*


        Besides which, having tried many before I realized how wasteful they are, every single one left residue on my face.

      2. BlueDays*

        Had no idea they contained plastic. Just checked the ones I use (7th generation baby wipes), and they are made from “wood pulp, polyethylene, polypropylene.” Anyone know of any that don’t contain plastic?

        1. Parenthetically*

          Simple, Yes to Tomatoes, Body Shop should all be easy to find and are plastic free. But the wrapping is still plastic. Have you looked at or tried the Makeup Eraser cloths that are reusable but need only water?

          1. BlueDays*

            Thank you! I will check out the wipes. I think I’ve seen the Simple brand at my local grocery store.

            I looked up the makeup eraser cloths, but they look kind of big, and I’m not sure how they’d work out. I’d have to keep a fresh one in a ziplock bag in my pocket, and carry a separate ziplock bag to put it in after it’s wet/dirty, then hang it somewhere to dry at home. I do like how soft they look though.

  13. Ms Cappuccino*

    OP 2 : The solicitation of sex workers could be an issue for co-worker career. Bisexuality is not an issue at all (depending on the country where you live of course). In the UK, homosexuality is one of the 9 characteristics protected by the Equality Act 2010. I assume the US would have something similar. Discriminating someone because of their sexual orientation is illegal, so I wouldn’t mention it.

    1. boxfish*

      Hmm, I mean, I’m in the UK, I’m queer and my workplace is plenty homophobic. Being illegal unfortunately doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. As I understand it in the US in a lot of places it’s totally legal to fire someone for their orientation, sadly.

      1. boxfish*

        Though I do agree that OP shouldn’t mention the bisexuality, since I’m not sure there’s a way of doing that that doesn’t sound like ‘This is something to be ashamed of/ Get back in the closet’

        1. Traffic_Spiral*

          For this, simply, “hey, just giving you the heads-up – people can read your twitter replies – including those ones you sent to fe/male hookers. You gotta DM that if you want it to be a private message.” For sexuality in general, just phrase it as “I don’t know how out you are, but what you’re doing *is* gonna out you, so, bear that in mind.”

          Think of it like telling someone the dish they’re thinking of ordering is really spicy. Some people are fine with that, but it’s generally polite to give someone a heads-up about what they’re doing, because they might not know and might not want to order the spicy dish.

      2. Ms Cappuccino*

        Sure, the law doesn’t prevent evil people from being homophobic. In the same way that stealing is illegal but it doesn’t prevent some people to steal. But if someone is treated differently at work because of their sexual orientation, they can have recourse against their employer (you could check with ACAS if this is the case for you).
        It is very sad to know US laws don’t protect LGBT people in this day and age !

        1. Clisby*

          Yes, it is. We can cross our fingers for the cases before the Supreme Court now, but I’m not optimistic.

    2. Wintermut3*

      no, in many states in the US discrimination on the basis of orientation is perfectly legal. It varies based on jurisdiction, including city and county, as sometimes cities have their own laws as well.

      The supreme court is hearing a case about this right now, but as of the moment, in many, if not most, places discriminating against someone for being bisexual would be perfectly legal.

    3. deesse877*

      There is no national protected status gay, lesbian, trans or queer people in the US. A few small jurisdictions protect, mostly cities and towns.

      Yes, this sucks.

      There is a case currently before the Supreme Court, but that’s it–no legislation with a real chance, and executive policy is currently expressly anti-trans.

      Yes, this really, really sucks.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      I think the bisexuality was evident from messaging both male and female prostitutes to solicit sex–probably not the way the coworker intended to come out at work, if at all.

      And I could see a straight-passing dude feeling one way about his solicitation of women being visible, and another about his solicitation of men being visible–I don’t think OP is wrong to view this as an extra layer of uncomfortableness around any disclosure that stealth mode was actually not engaged.

      1. Parenthetically*

        “probably not the way the coworker intended to come out at work”

        This is a key point and an important secondary reason to bring this up with the coworker! Regardless of how public Twitter is or feels, or one’s position on sex work, most people wouldn’t want their colleagues and managers discovering their sexual orientation this way.

    5. Cranky Neighbot*

      The US doesn’t have something similar, although some individual states do.

      Our Supreme Court is trying to work out whether we do at a federal level, based on the idea that our laws on sex discrimination include sexual orientation and gender identity. (As someone affected by this, you can probably guess how I want this to work out.)

    6. Scott*

      OP here. Being bi in our work environment is not an issue. We are in the US but the company strongly embraces diversity. This is more a matter of them not having come out at work.

      The issue of the sex worker solicitiation though. It is illegal where we work and the company might take some issue.

      Utlimately though, I know the person did not mean to make it public and would be embarrassed. I just want to let them know in the least embarrassing way possible. I think I will follow the original advice.

  14. Sarah Biffy*

    OP1: You can always use Alison’s idea about asking generally how it’s going, without suggestioning he doesn’t know his likes are public. For example, something like, “I noticed you have liked several LinkedIn articles about bad bosses or being unhappy at work, and wanted to just make sure it was because you found them interesting rather than you’re thinking about leaving.” That way, it doesn’t seem like you’re assuming he doesn’t understand social media basics or too Big Brotherish.

    1. Zombeyonce*

      I wouldn’t do this if I were OP. It puts the co-worker on the spot and in the awkward position of having to explain that they are either having problems at work or actively trying to leave, or try to find a way to explain that they just enjoyed the articles without sounding defensive. Unless they have a personal relationship, this questioning isn’t fair to the co-worker. Heck, even if they do!

      1. Colette*

        And the OP is not in a position to do anything about the coworker leaving – she’s not her manager.

  15. Sir Freelancelot*

    For OP4: I was in a similar situation with my skin until a friend – dermatologist – enlightened me: water is not going to hydrate your skin in the way it needs. Her suggestion for me was to buy a hydrating cream to put on before work, better with an oil – control factor. You can find some cheap ones around that still do a great job, and won’t leave your skin sticky. For me, it has been life-changing.

    1. JB (not in Houston)*

      As someone mentioned above, it’s also true that sometimes skin becomes oily because it’s dry and overcompensating, so moisturizing properly will help your skin become less oily.

      However, the OP didn’t ask for advice on skin care, so I’ll stop there and just say this–Alison is exactly right, OP. It should be totally fine to wash your face, so long as you are being considerate of the space. If you are only taking a minute, aren’t stopping someone from being able to wash their hands and leave the bathroom, and aren’t creating a mess, you should be ok. Just like with anything else with a shared space, you just have to make sure that you are being considerate. The fact that you’re asking if this is ok is a good sign that you think about how much time and space you take up in there, so I doubt you have anything to worry about.

  16. Tallulah in the Sky*

    #3 : this is clearly a case where your former manager should hire a professional dog sitter. Letting the dog out at lunch hour, need company at night, needing to be let out at 3 in the morning and be accompanied,… These are all big requests. I understand you wished to keep a good relationship with this person, and some people might take it the wrong way, but I would have no issue telling them the next time they had asked me “Sorry, taking care of Spot ended being a lot more work then I’m normally used to for pet-sitting, and I won’t be able to do it anymore.” Because… seriously ? And for free ?

    And a manager asking their employees to do her a free favor… That’s just wrong. How do people not realize that ?

    And yes, you don’t need a reason to refuse doing this, as long as you’re matter of fact about it (and your boss didn’t seem to act out in the past when you refused) this should be no big deal.

    1. Zombeyonce*

      It sounded like it wasn’t for free, just not as much as they’d usually make for that work and with no gas reimbursement. Still not cool, but not as bad as you make it sound.

      1. Tallulah in the Sky*

        Oops, glossed over the part where she was paid.

        And it is still quite bad. A dog already needs quite a bit of care (more work then cat-sitting), but this is an elderly dog with health issues, where the owner wants things to be done a very specific way, and it’s a manager asking for a direct report for a favor (even she paid her). I wouldn’t change a thing to my comment, except the “And for free !” part.

    2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      Agreed. I’m generally against making up excuses instead of just saying no. Be honest. If she’s a decent person, she’ll understand. And if she’s not a decent person, is this someone you really want in your circle?

  17. Clementine*

    I can’t see any upside to confronting the employee who likes posts about bad managers. It will feel creepy no matter what. If as his manager, you feel he is ruining your reputation, then get over it. Accepting that you have employees who may not like you 100% is part of being a manager. I would look for signs of unhappiness, but would not confront him about his likes of LinkedIn articles. By letting him roam free on LinkedIn, he is giving you information, so why cut off that information?

    1. Clementine*

      I reread, and saw that the LW is not the employee’s direct manager. But the same principle applies, as you are head of the department. Be glad for this information you are getting.
      I suppose you could write an article on LinkedIn yourself with a title something like “Did you know that your likes of articles might tip people off that you don’t like your manager?”

      1. LGC*

        I suppose you could write an article on LinkedIn yourself with a title something like “Did you know that your likes of articles might tip people off that you don’t like your manager?”

        That is pure evil and I am HERE FOR IT.

        (I mean, don’t do this, LW1. But if you do, you need to send us an update.)

        1. Jennifer*

          I want her employee to do that. “Please Stop Watching Me On Linkedin. It Makes Me Uncomfortable.”

  18. WorkingMama1*

    LW1: don’t necessarily assume it’s because of the current manager that the person is liking “bad manager” articles. When I first started in leadership, and even while I was front line staff with aspirations to move up, I read a lot of articles such a short this so I could start learning what not to do as a manager myself. I’m sure I put “likes” on a lot of articles that could have been seen the way you present; however, I genuinely liked the lessons they were teaching me for myself. And sometimes the really bad bosses stories are plain fun to read (if you aren’t currently living a similar situation!) and it would be natural to slap a “like” on them because you appreciated reading it. Unless there are other indicators that the person is unhappy I wouldn’t read too much into it; just keep an eye for signs of increasing unhappiness and don’t focus on what they’re liking on social media.

    1. Jedi Squirrel*

      Same here. The thing about social media is that there is a wide variety of reasons why someone may like something. Before Twitter turned its stars into hearts, this was how I bookmarked threads I wanted to read later. A lot of those were things I didn’t actually like.

  19. Anon with no name*

    LW1: my very first thought when I was reading this is “maybe it’s not about the current job.” — when I first started my second job I realized how vastly different management was and that my previous job really had been toxic as hell. And I read a few articles on linked in that basically confirmed it – “how to tell if you have a toxic manager” and the like…. I didn’t like them or anything because I was nervous about likes showing up but I could totally understand someone else doing it if they don’t realize likes show up that way for others.

    1. Shamy*

      This is a very good point. And Idk how linked in works, but my husband will often share or like things on facebook just so he can go back and read things later. Definitely agree with just leaving it alone.

  20. Rebecca*

    #5 – as a non exempt worker who is sometimes subjected to ‘lunch and learn’, I appreciate this answer. I always stayed clocked in, and then took the 30 minute mandatory unpaid lunch break afterward. Many of my coworkers don’t do this. My theory was that if I’m expected to work, talk about work, be in a meeting, free lunch or not, that’s work, and I should get paid for it. Going to tuck this away in my memory for next time!

    1. PettyPetty2x4*

      I used to work for a company that had us charge our time to project numbers to get paid, and the manager often said that, if they fed us during meetings (and it was sometimes just bagged chips and some drinks), that we couldn’t charge our time. Turned out, she got a hefty bonus for saving that budget and turning it back into corporate at the end of the year. Once we got wise to it, we charged our time, and she said nothing because she couldn’t really force the issue. Sometimes, heavy suggestion from management and the behavior of the group can really muddy the waters on what is “policy” and what the manager prefers. Now, I always get paid, and my manager can bring it to me if she thinks I’m charging in error. Hasn’t ever happened, so charge your time!

    2. snack queen*

      I’ve been thinking about writing in about ‘working lunches’ for so long, so I’m also happy to see this! I just started a new job that requires we bill to specific projects so it’s a nightmare trying to figure it all out. I’m the only non-exempt person on my team so nobody else really has this problem.

      I’m in a design field and we have reps host lunch&learns or product presentation lunches, showroom tours etc. quite frequently. I usually just count it as work time and then leave 15min early throughout the week to cut that extra hour.

    3. themaskedfalcon*

      I’m on the side of if food is provided and its not mandatory that you don’t get paid if it less than a hour. If over than yes charge that extra time. That said, for others at my office I tell them “Do what you want, I don’t sign off on your timesheet”. My opinion is partially based on the observation of people going to these events strictly for the food, with no interest/experience in the topic being covered and do not engage at all during the event.

    4. Life is Good*

      I always paid my employees for all hands lunches, lunch and learns, client lunches, etc. You are participating at the company’s request, learning job information, marketing for the company, etc. doing these activities, so should be paid. There were other managers who balked at paying their people for these functions. One time, an employee asked her manager how to note the luncheon she attended on her timesheet. Her manager told her “those weekly lunches are part of your job. They’re on your own time”. I now wonder if that manager was getting a bonus for saving wages. Wow, it never would have occurred to me to do that.

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      For me, if they set it up and its work related, I’m going to charge my time. If they said it up for anyone in the company who cares to come and join in, that I’ll do on my time. Language lessons? Toastmasters? Those are my time. But a kaizen for process improvement? That’s work!

  21. Booklover13*

    LW1: If your more concerned they don’t realize the amount of visibility their likes have you can work that into small talk without opening the whole optics conversion. Just wait til you see them like something more neutral and mention causally that you saw them like it as an opener and chat with them about it for a moment. It tells them you can see things they like and you dot have to touch on the whole policing behavior issue.

    I do agree with everyone else here, reading about bad managers is not the same as having one. Personally I enjoy those articles while having a manager I like because it helps keep perspective and are plain interesting reads.

      1. Aerin*

        Same. (Almost put it on the wrong comment chain!) A simple, “Oh yes, I saw an article you’d liked on LinkedIn on that topic” will clue them in if they weren’t aware of that functionality. It lets them decide what to do with that information, without the implication that they *have* to do something about it.

    1. san junipero*

      Yes, I agree. I’m apparently in the minority in thinking that LW1 *should* tell them they can see their likes, but not for any ~bad optics~ reasons. I’d just want to know they were visible (if I didn’t already), if I were them.

      You could even do the “you’ll never hear what *I* did the other day” thing and frame it as a story about your own embarrassingly visible like.

  22. Lady Carrie*

    Regarding Question 2…if the employee is using their work phone (paid for and provided by their employer) for their “Tweets for Sex” dealio their employer may not like that.

  23. Madeleine Matilda*

    OP1 – An easy way to bring this up with your coworker would be to read one of the articles they liked, then bring it up in conversation. “Hey coworker, I saw you liked that article on LinkedIn about XYZ. I thought the author’s suggestion about ABC was a unique approach to …”

    1. MicroManagered*

      I’m in favor of OP1 leaving it alone, but I like this approach if they really just gotta say something. This lets the coworker know the likes are visible without it being a Big Deal (which they may already know about not care about).

      1. Madeleine Matilda*

        I think I would generally leave it alone unless OP really thinks this could harm their colleague’s reputation with the higher ups who may also see what they like, then I would want to give that colleague a heads up. On reflection I think that if an employee reading articles about job searching or bad management causes a higher up to react negatively, I might think about whether that is a place I want to continue to work.

  24. Sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

    OP#5: Please speak up about the “working lunches.” I’m betting a lot of employers do this to their staff and hope no one asks, and might even raise “But we fed you!” as a point for not paying you. A break is healthy and if you do a working lunch and never clock out, by the time you reach end of day, you’re exhausted. People rely on their lunch breaks to run errands, etc. It’s not free time for the employer to encroach and get more work out of their employees for free.

    Months ago, I had a working lunch to help plan a large meeting. Three of us were exempt; I was not. In my bargaining unit, work hours are clearly defined. This left me with the awkward convo with my boss to ask to get paid overtime for it. No, it shouldn’t have been awkward, and I love my director! I just hated having to ask for it since the rules dictate that all overtime is approved in advance and this was not and she’s mindful, usually, that too much overtime triggers questions from above (or so I’m told). For our next big meeting planning, we had lunch…but kept work out of it. It’s much nicer that way.

    1. I Herd the Cats*

      I’m an extroverted introvert with a job that requires a lot of interaction. I hate working lunches. As I’ve moved up the ladder at work, I’ve now gotten sucked into some of these. No, I don’t want your food, I want to run errands, or eat lunch elsewhere while introverting. The general response has been, “well, this was the only time that everyone was available.” Yeah, because it’s lunch time, people, not meeting time! Since it doesn’t seem to matter to others, they don’t see an issue with it (free food!). I did push back by mentioning the need to run errands and “personal business,” even if that business is eating my lunch in peace somewhere else.

      1. Sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

        OMG, didn’t even think of that but that is also so very true. I will often use my lunch to tune out completely (if not running errands) by watching what I call “dumb videos on YouTube” and not socialize with anyone. It’s great.

        A working lunch takes away that recharge time away from people that introverts need.

      2. Goldfinch*

        I feel this. There is literally nowhere at my company that you won’t have someone crawling up your a*s. It’s impossible to get peace; people even yap at you in the bathroom stall.

        I have several colleagues who sit in their parked cars during lunch break. One multiple occasions, I’ve seen other people leaning on their car doors, talking their ears off, while they sit there with defeated looks on their faces. FFS, people, just leave us alone!

        1. Parenthetically*

          One of my coworkers at OldJob went out to his car EVERY DAY after he ate, turned on the radio, and took a power nap. I sometimes wonder if he was really asleep, or if he was just keeping his eyes closed so people wouldn’t pester him.

        2. Rebecca*

          I go outside for a walk on each break and lunch half hour, no matter what the weather is like, and listen to podcasts, music, or an audio book. We don’t have a lunch room, and nowhere to just disconnect from work. Leaving my desk and office means no one can bother me.

    2. Lynn Whitehat*

      Yes. The essence of the lunch break is not food. The essence of the lunch break is freedom and self-determination. I need an hour that is mine, all mine.

      1. Just J.*

        Agree completely.

        I’m exempt and most of my coworkers are exempt. Lunch hour is our time to decompress for a bit, run errands, etc.! We have always wondered if we are required to sit through a lunch thing, can we then leave an hour earlier? After reading Alison’s take on this, my answer is yes.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          It’s actually up to your employer; since you’re exempt, the law is silent on this. But if you could make a good logical case for it to your employer.

        2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          Yeah since you’re exempt, you’re at the mercy of your employer here. You should ask them about it.

          My only salaried moment this would not have flown with those tyrants. They wanted me there 8-4:30, they didn’t care that it was a pipe dream that a lunch would be an uninterrupted 30 minutes, ever. I had to shovel food into my mouth whenever I found a spare minute. “Lunch” was a lovely concept that they made sure to give all the non-exempt folks because The Law required it but nope, not the salaried folks, keep working and you’re being paid with the expectation that you work “enough to get all your duties done.” Nice for everyone who had much more defined roles…the one who filled in the endless gap, you stay and you stay sat. [Yeah…I’ve been wickedly burnt on the salary idea and will kiss the timeclock in the morning on days I remember that old chip that still sits on my shoulder].

    3. CarolineChickadee*

      Also, doesn’t the company owe back pay to all the non-exempt workers who clocked out during past working lunches? For anyone who already works 40h per week, that back pay will count as OT. So it’s best to bring this up ASAP, before the cost gets even higher.

      1. Blueberry Girl*

        Maybe? Some states calculate OT on a pay period, not daily schedule, so this may not be OT depending on the state in question.

  25. Editor Person*

    The letter from a few weeks ago about pet-sitting and lost keys was for cats right? I was about to say OP3 is the same story from the other POV.

    1. CM*

      Same answer, too: hiring a pet-sitter is never doing the pet-sitter a favor! Pay them fairly and if you’re the pet-sitter, be upfront if you don’t want to do it.

      1. valentine*

        if you’re the pet-sitter, be upfront if you don’t want to do it.
        OP3 is still afraid of damaging the relationship.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      In between these letters my husband had mused “Hey, one of my subordinates house- and cat-sat for another subordinate–we could ask him and his girlfriend to do that for us next week and throw in the dogs!” Kinda half in jest, but I still responded “NooOOOOoooOOOOooooOOOOooo!”

  26. Alfonzo Mango*

    1. I would not read into it at all. Those articles can be so fluffy, they might just only be reading the headline and liking the idea of the content without applying it to their actual life.

  27. MicroManagered*

    OP1 I’d leave it alone.

    My manager saw me looking at AAM once and freaked out, assuming I was unhappy/upset with her. (In my office it’s fine to browse the internet during downtimes/as a break. She is on TMZ pretty much all day.) She is a terrible manager, but I read this site long before I reported to her and I’m not looking to leave my job. I just like advice columns for light reading while at work.

  28. Jaybeetee*

    If I were in LW1’s colleague’s shoes, I’d want to know that my reading habits were on blast at work. Presumably he doesn’t realize people can see these likes (or he does know, and wants them to be seen). But in his place, I think I’d appreciate a “neutral” colleague (not my manager) pulling me aside and literally just saying “People can see the articles you like on LinkedIn”, then dropping it. You don’t want to punish him for his reading habits, nor get into some big discussion with him. Just let him know the stuff is visible, and let him figure out what to do from there.

  29. SallyF*

    OP1: It does not necessarily mean anything; the employee could just be interested in those articles for whatever reason.
    For example, I am writing a book about my past jobs and the bad coworkers/bosses I had and I’m extremely interested in articles about working for bad managers, dealing with lazy coworkers, etc. I liked some articles on LinkedIn last year and was written up for doing so at my last position. Leadership just assumed my interest in the articles reflected on them, so instead of talking to me about them, they called me into a meeting, presented screenshots of my “likes” and wrote me up. I’d never been written up at a job before and was stunned.

    I left that job a month later. You’ll drive away good employees if you just assume something and don’t open a tactful conversation with them.

    1. LGC*

      For example, I am writing a book about my past jobs and the bad coworkers/bosses I had

      I liked some articles on LinkedIn last year and was written up for doing so at my last position.

      …I assume they’re going to be in the book, right?

      1. Shad*

        Seriously! If the likes weren’t about them before, they just demonstrated that they should have been!

  30. LGC*

    LW1: …see, this is why I don’t talk about reading AAM with my coworkers, and certainly not my boss. (Okay, so I’ve been sloppy in the past with anonymity here, but still.)

    Like, I don’t use LinkedIn myself (partly because I think that would be a sign I’m thinking about leaving). But I tend to read those sorts of articles myself – partly to laugh at bad advice, partly to see if I’m doing anything in those articles that I’m not aware of, and – yeah – partly to see what my managers are guilty of. You don’t say if the employee themselves has any direct reports (at least not in the letter), but if they do, that could be a genuine reason they’re reading and liking those articles.

    Anyway, unless there are other signs of discontent, I wouldn’t worry too much! People don’t always love management all the time. That’s okay.

    1. LGC*

      Eh, I wouldn’t bust that out just yet. That would come across as extremely blunt and closing off conversation – which is fine in abuse situations, but less so if it’s just your oblivious former boss asking you to dogsit for below market rate. And LW3 wants to preserve the relationship!

      1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

        I have the same mantra, and while I can’t speak for Lusara, when I say that, I mean that excuses and reasons are unnecessary, not that you’ll only respond with “No”.

        With this situation though, I’d be honest with the former manager. Taking care of this particular dog is more work than another without health problems. I know OP wants to maintain a relationship with manager, but a reasonable person would understand why OP doesn’t want to do it. And if she’s not reasonable, and would get her panties in a bunch over this, I wouldn’t want to keep in touch with her anyway.

        1. Colette*

          That’s not a healthy reaction – the boss is allowed to be disappointed, or upset, if the OP says no. That doesn’t meant the OP can’t say no – she can and should, since she doesn’t want to do it. But if the boss is momentarily disappointed, that’s not a sign that the OP should torch the relationship.

          1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

            What’s not a healthy reaction? Not wanting to keep in touch with someone who flips out on me because I won’t pet sit for her elderly dog? I never said that she should torch the relationship for momentary disappointment. That’s reasonable. Losing her shit, and making me feel bad about it – that’s not reasonable.

          2. Jennifer Thneed*

            Being disappointed and “getting one’s panties in a twist” are really different things. The latter is about someone who would take it personally and drop snotty little comments and call all their mutual colleagues to complain. Being disappointed is just “Oh too bad. Oh well, thank you anyway.”

          3. LGC*

            Double response!

            So TCM…: I mean, you definitely have a point. LW3 (or anyone) doesn’t need to justify to herself why she can’t do something she doesn’t want to do. It’s something I’m telling myself now (since I’m a recovering yes-man). But as phrased, it was ambiguous – and I’ve often seen it used as an actual suggestion here and other places.

            Colette: I kind of disagree – it sounds like it’s really inconvenient for LW3 to begin with, so…I feel like her former boss shouldn’t really go into it expecting a yes. I get what you’re saying here, but even without the new house it sounds like a big ask.

    2. Antilles*

      “No is a complete sentence” (and the close cousin, “Never JADE”) are intended for toxic personal relationships where people repeatedly refuse to respect your boundaries and ignore your reasons. The kind of relationship where you’re perfectly fine with burning a bridge behind you. OP3 explicitly says she wants to maintain the relationship and keep that connection, so jumping straight to “no, I’m not doing that” without an explanation is likely to come off way too harsh for a business relationship you want to maintain.
      Especially given that it doesn’t appear that OP3 has tried a polite, generalized no – turning down an individual request her or there when you already have plans is a completely different message than “actually, I’ve given up dog-sitting, thanks for recommending me, but I don’t do that any more.” So it’s worth at least attempting the latter (as Alison suggests) before jumping to a firm no without any explanation.

      1. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

        “No is a complete sentence” also means you don’t have to give reasons. “I’m sorry, I won’t be able to do that” or “thanks for asking, but I’m not available, best of luck sorting that out” are less abrupt but still don’t give a reason that the other person could argue with. “I’m not doing dog-sitting any more because I’ve moved in with Barnaby” might lead a pushy person to say something like “so you can still come let the dog out at lunchtime, right?”

        Whether that works depends partly on what the LW’s ex-boss is like. If LW takes that approach, she should be prepared to move to “Sorry, I’m not dog-sitting at all any more. So, how about that sportsball team?” if the ex-boss pushes.

        1. Antilles*

          Except in this case, saying “I’m sorry, I won’t be able to do that” or “I’m not available” is actually a different message than saying “I don’t dogsit any more, so I can’t help” is providing a reason and justifying your no, but doing so in a way that describes your intended outcome.
          Simply saying “I’m not available” or “I won’t be able to” implies that you might be interested another time just not now…which isn’t actually what OP wants.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        This. “No is a complete sentence” is for relationships you don’t mind detonating–the stranger at the bus stop, the former coworker you’d be delighted to never hear from ever again. If you have an ongoing relationship–and the former boss who likes your work and can serve as a reference would normally count here–then blowing up the bridge between you and salting the ashes is not reasonable advice.

    3. JSPA*

      “No” doesn’t say “not ever” or “don’t ask again” or “almost never” or whatever the OP wants to say. Keeping someone (who may be a reference!) thinking that OP might eventually be available, is irritating and time wasting for them, irritating and conflict-perpetuating for OP, and it’s almost bound to color the ex-manager’s opinion of OP as a person.

      There’s a reason language has more than 10 or 20 words. Rudeness aside, an unadorned “no” is not always clearer, stronger, or better.

      1. Close Bracket*

        Yeah, but “‘So sorry, I’m not dogsitting anymore,’ is a complete sentence” just doesn’t have the same ring. :)

  31. Rusty Shackelford*

    Alison, for #5, would it make a difference if it were a state university, since governments seem to write themselves out of these laws occasionally?

  32. Goldfinch*

    The level of nitpicking that LW1 shows here would really chafe me as an employee. I would be unhappy at a company in which management feels justified in attempting to police what business-related content I “like” on LinkedIn, whether they couch it as a perception issue or not. It sounds like the employee in question has a valid reason for being disgruntled (if they even are).

    1. Quill*

      I take it entirely as a reason why social networking where you’re connected to your workplace is a mistake. Convenient, yes – until someone sees you using the “like” system to bookmark an article or give feedback or whatever. The only time this should really come up in a business setting is whether the employee is doing it on company time.

  33. The Messy Headed Momma*

    LW4: My hubby brings cotton balls soaked in witch hazel for a mid day face wash. Cool & discreet!

  34. coloring outside the lines*

    I feel for OP5’s new library director. That first paragraph reeks of someone who is bound and determined to be at BEC level with their boss. Old boss dictated the strategic plan and “imposed” it, new boss is inclusive and tries to get involvement and is accused of taking them away from their “real” work. OP5’s question seems to be rooted in the need to complain rather than a true concern for non-exempt employees.

    I *do* think working lunches need to be carefully considered and can be abused, especially in academia. I’d like to see a more meaningful discussion of the issues, such as the need to allow everyone- even exempt!- to take breaks away from work.

    1. Oh No She Di'int*

      I understand your point. This can be a difficult balance for managers and directors. You want buy-in, but for many non-exempt, hourly employees, it’s just a job that they go to X hours per day. The moment they arrive they are counting down the minutes until they can go home. That is obviously not true for every single hourly worker on the planet, but it is true for many. Especially true if they are responsible for producing X number of teapots per week–it can feel like an imposition to be taken away from that teapot making time.

      I don’t think this is necessarily a BEC situation. Just the realities of non-exempt employment, which it sounds like OP is close to (though not directly an example of).

      I don’t have any great revelations here. Just saying I can see both sides of this.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        It IS an imposition if the top boss expects you to complete everything you used to do in 40 hours/week, while also donating 3-6 hours to the new special thing and simultaneously not trying to put in for overtime.

        And one that may not occur to someone who’s been on flexible hours and salaried for a while, where some weeks you put in an extra 4 hours. And a lot of the work is “thinking about strategies” rather than “getting all records updated, which reliably takes 10 hours/week.”

      2. coloring outside the lines*

        This sentence: “If the non-exempts don’t clock out for the “working lunch” and then clock out for their break before or after, that would be okay, but I doubt that’s happening” indicates to me that OP is exempt, otherwise s/he would know whether clocking out is happening.

    2. Anonymous Water Drinker*

      I think that is an unkind take on this situation. They are being pulled off their job and having to attend working lunches instead of being able to do their job and take an actual break.

      We just completed strategic planning. The directors did the actual meetings, sent us emails asking for input and we were occasionally asked to sit in when they were discussing our particular section. Our lunch time was not commandeered and we were not pulled from our jobs all the time.

      1. a1*

        But if you don’t want these things “imposed” on you, then you’ll have to give input. Giving input takes some time, whether in a meeting or reading and typing up emails*, time that you need make room for in your day. So, you can’t have it both ways.

        * emails actually often make the process much longer with lag times on responses, waiting for everyone to respond, gathering/consolidating the info, sending back, further back and forth with clarifications, and questions, etc – group discussions are often much faster for this kind of thing, even if there are multiple meetings.

      2. coloring outside the lines*

        I’ve been in academic libraries for 25 years. Administrators come and go, and sometimes people get bitter because they waste time doing strategic planning and visioning and mission stating, no new money to meet these new initiatives gets allocated, and then the old director leaves, a new director onboards, and the cycle repeats itself. I get it- I’ve been there, have the t-shirt and all the swag.

        I’ve also seen circumstances where an old director leaves, a new one onboards, and the original staff are completely resistant to change and want to do what they’ve been doing for 20 years and will just sit in the corner and fume. It’s incredibly toxic.

        I don’t know which one OP5 is, but I seriously doubt their major concern is whether their nonexempt colleagues are getting paid for lunch. I could be wrong- maybe they really do have concerns about working lunch culture- and if that’s true, let’s focus on that. But the set up leads me to believe there’s a darker back story, in which case the legalities of breaks is beyond the point.

    3. corporate librarian in Canada*

      I found OP5’s comment that these meetings were not real work very odd. Planning meetings are real work. If your manager wants you there, it is real work.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I think real work in the sense of what you’ll be evaluated for come review time. Which is meeting your usual metrics.

        1. coloring outside the lines*

          Eh, reviews in academia are very rarely about metrics. In most cases, you’re asked to talk about your professional contributions- and a really important one is how you’ve contributed to the library’s planning and success.

          1. Blue42*

            I agree with Coloring. As someone who worked in university administration, went back to school for an MLIS and now works in an academic library, I have seen the same tension play out. (I work for a large public university.) I strongly suspect that the LW is a non-exempt, tenured librarian and the issue is not whether her colleagues are getting paid for their lunch breaks.

            I’ll also second the notation that reviews in academia would typically incorporate any time spent focused on strategic planning as professional contributions and/or development. I know I’m not adding much here, but I wanted to confirm that the assessment made here was accurate for the culture of academia that I’ve experienced.

  35. Quill*

    LW 3: this feels like one of those times when vagueness is the key. Don’t give your former boss ‘excuses’ because people will try to solve those for you. “Sorry, I can’t make that commitment anymore,” is its own sentence.

    Also, you should have been paid WAY extra for sleeping over with the dog. Last time I sat (elderly husky, approx. 70 lbs,) the dog was good to go all night and hung with me in the yard during the evening after being escorted down the block to smell things and use the outdoors.

  36. Phillip*

    OP1: They might just find the articles interesting! The letters to this very site are usually about some sort of workplace friction, and it doesn’t mean everyone that comes here is disgruntled. It might also be that their feed is disproportionately filled with articles like this, increasing the odds they’ll engage with em—or they personally know the person that’s posting em, and just wants to give em a boost. Lots of possible explanations other than “I hate my managers and want to quit soon.”

  37. Catabodua*

    I’m genuinely surprised so many people think either LW1 or LW2 should say anything at all.


    1. Michelle*

      Normally I agree with this, but we had a coworker written up for something on Twitter. Their account was hacked and they didn’t notice because they don’t use it often. Instead of being called in and asked about it, HR did a write up and had the manager go over it with the employee. The manager did not agree with the write up but was told they would be written up if they did not do as instructed. We did not and still do not have a social media policy. So a quick heads-up for OP2 may be a kindness (if they don’t understand their replies are public).

    2. Parenthetically*

      Eh. I can see not saying anything for #1. But #2? If you have a good relationship with your coworker and they’re doing something that could get them fired, why wouldn’t you speak up? “Hey, I stumbled across your twitter last week and I don’t know if you realize your replies are public? There may be some things you should look at there.”

    3. san junipero*

      I don’t really see it as a huge invasion of privacy to give either/both colleagues a heads up that their content is visible. They really might not know, and tipping them off could save them future embarrassment (or worse, in #2’s case).

    4. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      I think a lot of people are viewing it similarly to how you would discreetly tell someone if their fly is down, they have something in their teeth, or they have a smear of some condiment on their chin — in other words, it isn’t being nosy, it’s doing them a kindness to alert them to something that is a) noticeable by others and b) potentially embarrassing.

      1. EddieSherbert*

        Well said, this is also how I see it.
        “Here’s a quick heads up on something potentially awkward for you. Do what you will with this knowledge.”

    5. Catabodua*

      Even if they don’t understand if their online posts/comments are public – they know what they are doing is illegal in most places, so, giving them a heads up to be more discreet with their illegal activity… is so odd and not at all the same as telling someone their fly is down.

      The fact that a company wrote someone up for a Twitter post is yucky all on it’s own. Sadly workers have so few rights it’s not even likely they’d get any sort of satisfaction by contesting it.

    6. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I take pity on people who are ignorant to their public self image, since I know it can really hurt them in the end. Most of the “MYOB” crowd aren’t actually turning a full blind eye to these folks, they’re just using this behavior against them without a word muttered in their direction.

      So I take that bullet for them at least once. So there’s no harping but just a casual “That’s something that is a bad look.”

      And I don’t care if they’re doing petty illegal stuff anyways, I still mention it. Most people who break laws aren’t thinking that far ahead and I don’t mind flagging it for them.

  38. Okay*

    #5: this does affect exempt workers if they use billable hours; we have to know whether to count the lunch as billable time, non-billable time, or non-work time

  39. Linda Evangelista*

    LW1, I’m very happy with my job and manager, and I still occasionally like a critical article on LinkedIn (because it’s true, a bad manager will drive out good employees! Or something like that.)

    I wouldn’t read into it at all but definitely keep an eye on whoever is managing them, just in case it IS a reflection of their current environment.

  40. Arctic*

    I don’t use LinkedIn a lot but when I do “save” articles (which is just to read later) it’s because they seem interesting. Not because they always relate 100% to my current work experience.
    Conflict related ones (like disliking your manager) are the most interesting! I read all the posts on AAM and the relatively benign ones generally have the most actual useful advice/information. But you can bet your hiney that I click faster on ones that seem to relate to some conflict at work or other nuttiness! It’s human nature. It doesn’t mean my own work is a dysfunctional mess.

  41. Temperance*

    LW4: Instead of full on washing your face in the sink (a gross, communal sink), why not use face cleansing wipes, toner, or acne pads? I keep them in my desk at all times, and it’s more sanitary than washing your face using the communal sink and less likely to be noticeable to colleagues.

    1. Quill*

      Eh, as someone with highly sensitive skin I can see multiple reasons to not rely on wipes, toner, acne pads or whatever. Also, I doubt this person is filling up the sink and dunking their face in – they’re probably applying water (maybe soap or cleanser?) to their hands and scrubbing, then rinsing. In that case if it’s clean enough to wash your hands in, it’s clean enough to wash your face in.

    2. Parenthetically*

      Huh! I would never have thought of the germ thing — I’ve washed my face at work a few times and I’m not touching the sink at all. Do you feel like the actual water coming out of the tap is going to be more problematic than your sink at home?

      1. Filosofickle*

        Yeah, I honestly can’t imagine worrying that a normal office sink isn’t clean enough to wash my face. Like you say, you don’t have to touch anything except the water and (often) the faucet.

      2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        I assume it’s because of the science of bacteria spreading when you flush, since most likely zero people are closing the lid to flush. All that spray is going all over the place. However I’d assume the stalls would contain most of that and not get as far as the sink areas to contaminate very much.

        But there’s a different squick factor for everyone in that way. Your own toilet sprays verses those of hundreds of random butts a day, you know.

  42. sunshyne84*

    1. Are they only connected to you? Either way, I would probably leave it alone. The articles may not be related to how they are feeling now. They may have reminded them of a past job or nothing at all.

    2. How did you come across their Twitter exactly? Are they using their name/photo or mentioning the job? If they made it that easy then I’d tell them that they need to be more careful of the info they put online and how easily anyone can find them and how that can affect their real life and leave it at that.

    3. Just tell her you moved and it’s not feasible for you to continue dog sitting.

    1. Jedi Squirrel*

      This is not helpful. The OP is concerned about their coworker because of how upper management may view their social media likes.

      This is the world we live in now.

  43. Jennifer*

    Re: Linkedin

    It’s possible he knows you can see his likes and just doesn’t care. I think it’s pretty common knowledge now that much of our activity on Linkedin can be seen. Maybe he enjoyed the article. Maybe he has a friend who’s dealing with a bad manager and sends the articles to her. Maybe he’s just bored on his break and passing the time. Articles about bad managers are more interesting and get people to click faster. Who knows? There are a ton of explanations.

    It can’t hurt to just have a general check-in with him to see how things are going but don’t bring this up. Think about all the articles you click on here and on other sites and imagine the conclusions people could jump to.

  44. Gazebo Slayer*

    OP2: Please don’t say anything that indicates that you see your coworker’s bisexuality as scandalous or unprofessional. Bisexuality does not equal some sort of bizarre and inappropriate deviance, any more than being straight or gay does. That kind of assumption contributes to disproportionately high rates of anxiety and depression in our community, and also to the fact that bi women are more likely than other women to be sexually assaulted, presumably because we’re “sluts” who “obviously always want it.” (I expect the same is likely true for bi men, though I haven’t seen studies on it.)

    Also, employment discrimination against bisexual people may be illegal in your locale. As mentioned upthread, it’s covered under national discrimination laws in some countries. While the US has no national antidiscrimination laws relating to sexual orientation or gender identity (to our shame), some states and cities here do.

    1. Parenthetically*

      Totally agree with this comment and the principle that biphobia is a huge problem — but LW2’s comment seemed to me to indicate that the issue was that Coworker wasn’t out at work, rather than bisexuality itself being controversial. As someone alluded to above, “Kris was caught soliciting both male and female prostitutes on twitter and was disciplined/fired” would probably not be how anyone wanted to come out, or rather to be outed, were this to become public.

    2. Midwesterner*

      I am genuinely confused. Is soliciting sex workers legal? Why would we want OP2/LW2 to tip off the co-worker instead of tipping off the police?

        1. President Porpoise*

          See Jennifer’s note below – we don’t know if the worker is acting under duress, but human trafficking is unfortunately common enough that it might be a concern for the OP, and might be worthy of raising to the police. We really don’t know in this case – but my guess is neither does OP’s coworker.

          1. Jennifer*

            Exactly. I have heard men bragging about going to “happy ending” massage places, not knowing (or caring) that the women and girls that work there are enslaved. There are some disgusting people out there. More than people think. The OP should do some digging if possible to see what’s really going on.

            1. Blueberry*

              Practically speaking, though, how would the OP do that? Either turn the employee in to the police or ask the employee for their ‘leads’ and turn that information in to the police. I think the first might be excessively punitive to the employee (who might have a way of knowing the status of the workers they contact, or might not, or might not care — too many possibilities), and the latter might give the employee the impression that the OP wants to employ sex workers as well, which at the least could be awkward. In summary, I’m not sure it’s feasible for an ordinary person to do much that’s helpful with this information.

              1. Jennifer*

                It would depend on where you are. I don’t believe that anyone has no way of knowing the status of the people they contact, though I don’t want to get too off-topic. This issue has been published far too much. The reality is they just don’t care.

                In my city, I’d feel really comfortable just sending the twitter account to the authorities because the chances are high it’s related to sex trafficking.

      1. Blueberry*

        Depending on the locale, soliciting sex workers may or may not be legal. Either way I don’t think it’s a situation to go to the police about — at worst lives are wrecked but no harm is actually prevented and at least the police say they have more important things to worry about so don’t waste their time.

  45. Bertha*

    OP1, it’s also worth considering that your employee is “liking” other things, but it just doesn’t show them to you in whatever algorithm LinkedIn chooses to show you. It could be those particular articles are “trending” or who knows what else.

  46. Jennifer*

    Re: twitter

    This really is going to depend on where you are. Here in my city, which is a hub for sex trafficking, this takes on an entirely new meaning. If I were the OP, I’d report it at work, perhaps the authorities as well, and let the chips fall where they may. If this happened somewhere where that kind of thing is legal, I’d let the coworker know that they may want to delete those messages because I “stumbled” across them and someone else from work may as well.

    1. Midwesterner*

      Yes, this is more along the lines of what I was thinking with my post above. Sex trafficking is real right in the US. We can have all the good will in the world for OP2’s coworker but our good will towards the sex workers who may or may not have wanted this life has to be greater. They are somebody’s daughter. Somebody’s son. Somebody’s brother. Somebody’s mom.

      1. MCMonkeyBean*

        Or how about they are a person in their own right outside of their relationships with others?

    2. automaticdoor*

      I note that Alison removed a post above about debating sex work, but just wanted to say that your post is pretty offensive to sex workers in general — and I know we have at least a few on this site. Conflating sex work and sex trafficking is not okay. Google “SWOP behind bars” for more info.

      1. Jennifer*

        I don’t want to debate sex work. I’m just pointing out that many men who solicit “sex workers” online are actually soliciting children or people who were so desperate to leave terrible situations back home they came here as slaves. That’s why I would side eye this if I were the OP in this situation, IF it happened in my city.

  47. Type 2*

    The face washing comment reminded me of an unpleasant experience. I worked full-time while attending grad school at night for 3 years. I also had super oily skin and needed to wash my face before leaving for school. (No time to go home.) I was quick and cleaned up after myself, but one co-worker would make snotty remarks – essentially implying that I was homeless. As I was pretty broke back then, I didn’t find it funny – and still don’t.

    My advice is to try to avoid others(find a more secluded bathroom?) if you’re washing your face at work. Any non-traditional activity in the bathroom seems to solicit odd looks or remarks.

    And totally get why you need it! The good news is that oily skin in your youth means less wrinkles as you age! Good luck!

  48. Narvo Flieboppen*

    OP 4 – Allison’s advice is perfect.

    A tangent: “You should be fine as long as you’re not splashing water all over the place (or clean it up if you do)”. This, so much this!

    I may need to anonymously email this to folks in my building. Several of the men here have decided to wash their dishes in the bathroom sink rather than the kitchen sink. And they leave massive ponds of water on the counter. Due to the odd lighting the giant puddles of water are basically impossible to see until I put my hand in them, or worse, drag my shirt into it. Nothing better than a cold soggy wet spot across my shirt just around the waist.

    I truly don’t understand how grown adults cannot handle something as basic as wiping up their giant puddle instead of leaving it for other people.


    1. AnonAndFrustrated*

      Same reason why grown women with long hair leave gross long hairs all over the communal bathroom sinks after they brush or fix their hair in there: people are disgusting and don’t care about anyone but themselves usually.

      1. Kendra*

        I would’ve gone with, “people who are used to a particular type of mess sometimes have trouble seeing how it looks to someone else,” but sure.

  49. Elizabeth West*

    Re questions #1 and #2:

    A little off-topic, but while we’re talking here about ourselves and our own social media, this post made me think of people I know whose feeds are set to Public and they plaster pics and info of their kids and grandkids all over everything. That can follow them throughout their lives, including their professional lives. It prompted me to go over to Farcebook and make a post about being careful what you share. And, as a Forbes article* I included says, companies of all kinds have been less than exemplary about keeping your data secure.

    It’s something everyone should consider, really. We’ve seen quite a few letters on this blog about how coworkers finding stuff on social media can cause trouble at work. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t share with family and friends, or like an article. Just be the hell careful how you do it and who you allow on your platform.

    *The article is called Posting About Your Kids Online Could Damage Their Futures, by Jessica Baron, if you want to look it up.

    1. Filosofickle*

      It does seem like parents aren’t considering their kids very much in what they post. A LOT gets posted. Some of it embarrassing. Some of it TMI. At a minimum, it seems to leave the kids no privacy. I have a colleague who was tagging every IG with the kid’s full name — first, middle, last — so they’d have a record, I guess? I’m not a stranger-danger or paranoid person, but that pings me as not the best idea. I also know plenty of families whose kids (ages 8-teen) have asked parents to stop posting about them, or post only with permission. It just seems like something that should be thought through more.

  50. OP#1*

    Thank you all for the kind advice!

    I think most of you understand where I’m coming from – I completely agree that one should not read too far into a simple “like” on LinkedIn – my concern is more-so whether this employee knows that this is visible to others – and we certainly have the type of senior management that may read too far into something as innocuous as that. While not my responsibility I would like to give them a heads up if they are unaware it is that visible.

    What complicates the matters further is the odd dynamic – given this persons role (a unique fusion between two departments) I am certainly senior to them but not in their reporting structure.

    For now I’m going to stick with Alison’s advice – there is no real positive way to bring it up without appearing “Big Brother-ish” – although I did like one commenters suggestion to bring up the post on LinkedIn by making a comment about it (“I saw you liked that post, I really agree with the authors assessments on A+B”). I have very good rapport with her, but again being senior to her it can be tricky to confront. For now I’m going to let it be.

    Thanks again everyone!

    1. Oh So Anon*

      Is it unusual in your org for people to to have much of a professional social media presence? Is it possible that part of what’s going on is that this employee stands out for even using social media actively?

      Even within fields/roles where there is a fair amount of dialogue taking place on social media, some organizations have a lot of people who, for one reason or another, just don’t participate in that culture. At orgs like that, a lot of ways of being on social media that would be inconsequential elsewhere are going to look bad just because they’re not part of the cultural norm there. If that’s part of the dynamic, it might be worth discussing with this employee.

      1. OP#1*

        We have a fair bit of social media presence, but LinkedIn is usually not used as a personal platform, it’s a way to connect professionally and most people tend to share company / product / industry related news. I have found myself in the same case as many commenters where I was reading a really great article but stopped short of liking it because the title could be perceived as critical.

    2. Close Bracket*

      Being senior makes it easier! As a senior person, you have standing to be in a mentoring role, and that is especially since you are not her direct manager. If you are senior in title but have fewer years in the workforce, then this is not an area to mentor her in, though.

      1. OP#1*

        I am junior in age and professional years to her, so I generally don’t take a mentoring role with her. However, because of my good rapport I could approach it as a teaching moment in regards to social media, which is definitely a stronger suit of mine than hers (admitted by her too) – this may make easier for me to mentor on this front!

        1. Oh So Anon*

          Hrmm…even though social media’s a strength of yours that she’s acknowledged, I’d tread very carefully when it comes to this kind of mentoring. If it were you doing general social media training for someone you’re junior to in both age and professional years, that would be one thing. This situation feels a bit different, though.

  51. PizzaSquared*

    I hope this isn’t too off-topic. I’m asking because I’m genuinely fascinated to learn about how other companies and industries work.

    OP1 says that they are the head of the department, but an employee in the department reports to their boss. Is this typical? What does the title “head of department” mean in these contexts? I always assumed it would be the person who is the top-level manager/boss in the department, so everyone would report up through them, but clearly it’s not the case here. Is this somehow industry- or region-specific?

    1. OP#1*

      This one employee is a unique case. I’m the Director / head of the department so I “lead” this employee in terms of the work they do that affects my department, but they report directly to Senior leadership (which also gives them more latitude in their position, which is necessary). I have never come across it before (in this role) in my travels before, but I’m not sure how rare it is. I wish I could give more information but I don’t want to be too specific of my industry as it’s fairly small.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        I had this setup at my last position. I was the 2nd in command over all but there were a couple extras in there that reported directly to the ownership, they were essentially actually an island-department of one in a lot of ways!

    2. Close Bracket*

      It’s a rare thing that I’ve seen happen in engineering sometimes. Usually you get individual contributor – manager – higher level manager – etc. Now and then there will be someone whose chain is individual contributor – higher level manager – etc. They just skip a level of management for some reason.

  52. Close Bracket*

    I never mentioned my discontentment

    Any advice?

    Mention your discontentment. Alison has great scripts.

  53. skincare nerd*

    OP4: My apologies in advance for the unsolicited advice, but if your skin is “oily and thirsty” more cleansing is going to make it worse! That sounds like dehydrated skin (I’m a member myself) which basically means that your skin is so dry that you’re overproducing oil to counteract it, which is how you get that lovely oily/thirsty combo. Water is also not the way to go for dehydrated skin. I’ll try not to get into a whole thing about skincare routines here but ultimately – cleanse in the evening, in the morning you can just use warm water and pat dry, but use a fragrance-free moisturizer with ingredients like glycerin and hyaluronic acid both AM and PM. It will take a little time to adjust, but if you treat your skin like dry skin, it may help a lot and you will no longer feel the need to wash your face mid-day.

    1. BlueDays*

      In the OP’s defense, some people have combination oily and dry skin because of genetics.

      I have very oily skin myself (it runs in my family) even though I use a very gentle cleanser and an intense moisturizing cream. Sometimes it gets dry in the winter even though it’s still oily. The grease can feel really bothersome and gross after a few hours, and having an oil slick on your face is embarrassing, so the urge to wash it at some point during the work day makes a lot of sense to me, and I wouldn’t assume it’s going to make OP’s face worse.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Unfortunately dermatology isn’t a one-size fits all kind of thing, so unless you check out their skin as a doctor, you wouldn’t know this is advice she should take or not.

      It’s up there with asking someone with a migraine if they’ve tried “drinking water, it fixes all my headaches!”, you know?

      I have family with skin conditions and they know how to treat them, be that by washing more frequently or using lotion, medicated or OTC, or what have you.

  54. MissDisplaced*

    Frankly, I’m tired of worrying about what managers, senior or otherwise, think about my LinkedIn like patterns or social media. It’s as if they think HOW DARE we grunts HAVE opinions or thoughts unless they’re serving the company directly. It’s Big Brother level overreach. Enough!

    I create content and know how hard it is to get likes, follows and clicks. Therefore I like MANY things that are interesting. It doesn’t mean anything other than it’s interesting.

    Which begs the question, why are you all connected to each other anyway?

    1. OP#1*

      I think the reality is that LinkedIn is primarily a networking tool. It may depend on what industry you’re in, but in mine it would be unusual not to be connected to coworkers and superiors.

      I agree with you that senior managers and coworkers SHOULDN’T care about things like that, but with most things in life that’s just not the reality – if it’s in my control I find it much more valuable to protect the impression others have of me (especially those in control of my job!) more than the ideal. I agree with you, but I feel the need to be pragmatic about it.

  55. Dinopigeon*

    OP1, I worked for one of the most horrible people I’ve ever had the misfortune to encounter. I really like my current boss, but I still like and share articles about bad management because I stayed in that position for way too long, and it’s kind of a catharsis, coupled with the hope that I might be able to help someone recognize what is happening sooner. I don’t do it on LinkedIn (I don’t really use LinkedIn aside from having a profile posted; I just don’t find the site remotely interesting), but bear in mind that you may be reading too much into your colleague casually clicking on likes while browsing a social media site. It could be “yes, this is very true” as much as “man, I hate my current boss”.

  56. Mistresstina*

    Regarding awkward coworker Twitter posts – yes you should absolutely have a conversation with that person. I’d be shocked SHOCKED if a person whe feels very comfortable soliciting sex on the open internet balks at having a mildly awkward conversation.

    I was in a similar situation – I stumbled upon a coworkers twitter account that revealed their career in hardcore pornography. After a lot of handwringing I zeroed in on my feelings and what I really wanted – relief from the burden of unwanted personal knowledge – and just talked to that person.


    I saw this thing

    Truthfully I wish I hadn’t – I feel that I am sex positive but I wasn’t seeking to view you in hardcore pornography. It was a surprise to me and I feel I did not get the opportunity to consent.

    As your coworker this was easy to stumble upon for me and I assume it will be for others. Are you fine with that?

    I have no reason to discuss this with anyone at our shared work but I also do not want to be responsible for any secret keeping. Thank you for being fine with that.

    And just like that it wasn’t my business anymore.

  57. lilsheba*

    On the face washing, seriously? I’ve been washing my face at work for almost 30 years, because I can’t stand to not have it be oily in any way, especially with glasses which I have to wear to see the computer. Why is this even an issue? I do it anyway, I really don’t care what others’ think of it.

Comments are closed.