showing up in-person for a job I really want, saying “y’all” at work, and more

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

1. Should I show up in-person after applying for a job I really want?

A few weeks ago, I applied for a job that I found posted on Indeed. The job is for a writer at a local entertainment company. Not only do I believe that the job would be perfect for me, but I am also a big fan of the company. I have little “official” experience with writing in a professional capacity, though I have been developing my writing for a while and even published one of my short stories on Kindle recently.

Anyway, I sent my resume in along with some writing samples. Needless to say, I really want this job. I am champing at the bit hoping that they will call me in for an interview. I am trying to figure out what more I could do to get that opportunity to sell myself for the position in-person.

The industry that this company belongs to can be very picky about who they hire. It is really frustrating and I feel that I am tied to the “wings of fate.” I would love to take more direct control of the situation, but I am not sure how. I was considering going to the company and asking directly for an interview, but I don’t want to overstep. Still, part of me is hanging onto the idea of “fortune favors the bold.” I don’t want to come off as desperate, but I do want to demonstrate that I want this job and will add value through my determination and commitment. Should I pay the company a visit What other ways could I show that I would be a good candidate and that they should call me in for an interview?

Nooooo, do not show up at the company without an appointment. You will look out of touch with business norms, overly pushy, and naive. With 99% of companies, it will be a mark against you.

They’re hiring a writer, which means they’re going to hire based on writing clips/skills/experience, not over-the-top “determination and commitment.” And to the extent that determination and commitment matter for any job, they’re looking for determination and commitment within professional norms. Showing up in-person without an appointment isn’t that.

I get that you really want the job and you’re hoping there’s something you can do beyond just applying. But they’ve set up their application process this way because that’s what works for them. They don’t want you to “take control” of the situation! Your piece of the process — applying — is done, and at this stage they want to review applications and decide who their strongest candidates are. You’ve got to respect that the ball is in their court — not prioritize what you feel would work best for you.

2. Can I share the whistleblower documents at work?

I’m very focused on current events, including the recent whistleblower complaint and communications memorandum made public involving Trump and the Ukraine. To me, this is one of the most significant events currently happening in the U.S. at the moment. I read the complaint and the communications memorandum in their entirety, and they are really short reading, actually — less than 10 pages each, and much easier to wade through than the Mueller report, for instance.

I am feeling an impulse to share links to these documents at work, via email or maybe our group chat. I would emphasize that people can draw whatever conclusions they want from them and are entitled to their own views and opinions, but the fact is we’re watching history unfolding in real time, regardless of the eventual outcome! I’m bothered at the idea of my coworkers not being up to speed on this, or getting all their news about it filtered through pundits when the actual source documents are short, digestible, and publicly available. But I also have doubts whether this is appropriate, even if shared with a veneer of neutrality. Maybe I’m writing to ask you to talk me down? What are your thoughts?

Nope, not appropriate. People are at work to work, not to talk politics, particularly when they haven’t invited that conversation. It’s also very hard to do something like this without appearing to have an agenda, which makes it additionally inappropriate for work.

I’m sympathetic to your concern that people aren’t paying enough attention or getting their news unfiltered, but I’d be annoyed as crap if someone pushed this on me at work. The captive audience of your coworkers isn’t made for this.

3. Senior leaders keep asking about my employee

I’m a new manager with one direct report, Fergus. Fergus was a high performer in an entry-level role on another team and was moved to reporting to me in a higher position in a very different department. There are significant transferable skills and I’m sure he is going to great once up to speed, but it’s slow going teaching him all of the background and skills he needs to be successful. Fergus got a lot of senior level attention for doing so well in his previous role and senior leaders at the organization keep asking me (seemingly in passing, like in the elevator), “How is Fergus doing?” I usually try to say something short but positive about his performance and move on. I think leadership has their eye on him to move up quickly, and I’d love to support him in doing that when he’s ready. If it’s relevant, I’m also seen as a high performer, which is part of why a management role was created for me to train Fergus.

The truth is, Fergus is not outstanding yet, but nor would I expect him to be at this stage (about three months in). There are also a few real challenges we’re facing like attention to detail and follow-through. I’m addressing these problems as they come up and he has been receptive to the feedback. I’m pleased with his performance, but don’t think he’s doing amazing yet and wouldn’t expect him to be.

My direct manager has been supportive in helping me figure out how to help Fergus skill-build and knows about both the wins and the challenges of getting into the role. When senior leaders (my grandboss and great grandboss) ask me about Fergus, are these real questions or are they the manager-to-manager equivalent of “how are you?” where the expectation is that you say “good” and leave it at that? As they master this role, I will want to support Fergus in growing with the company and maintaining his great reputation but also want to make sure that I don’t send him on to his next opportunity too quickly and therefore unprepared by over-hyping his.

If you’re getting asked in passing in the elevator, the question is probably more pro forma friendliness than real inquiry. Still, though, you shouldn’t sound like Fergus is hitting it out of the park when you’re working through some real issues (and attention to detail and follow-through can be serious). You sound convinced that Fergus is doing fine for this point in the process, though, so I’d go with more tempered responses like “it’s still early but I think we’re in a good place” or “we’re working on getting him trained in X and Y.”

But also, consider mentioning this to your boss. If her boss and grandboss have an unrealistic idea of where Fergus is at right now (and they might), it’s worth her filling them in so they have the same info you two do, given how much interest they seem to be taking.

4. Saying “y’all” at work

I’m curious about your thoughts regarding the usage of “y’all” in professional/business settings. My husband argues that it is colloquial and makes the speaker come across as unintelligent; I argue that, as a contraction of “you all,” it is correct English and can be considered a modern equivalent to “thou,” since it used to address several people at one time. Just curious as to how it comes across on conference calls!

“Y’all” is fine. We use colloquialisms in our language all the time, even at work. Your husband is (unintentionally, I assume) buying into a really problematic stereotype about southern speech.

I’m a big fan of “y’all” as a gender-neutral plural in writing, like if you need a way to open an informal email.

5. Can I ask to go part-time since my work is slow?

I’ve been working in the same field for a decade now and I can’t stand it anymore. I’ve had four different positions, each a little different, and yet I hated them all the same. I just started my fifth role thinking it would be a better fit, but alas it’s the same thing, different day. It’s only been six weeks, but I have very little work to do and I’m bored out of my mind. I’ve spoken to my boss about what to do with down time and it’s a bunch of “look into that” or “take this training video.” She’s apologized for how slow it is, but when I’ve asked about when things might pick up, I can’t get a straight answer.

Would it be okay to ask to go part-time? Maybe suggest six months “until things pick up”? I’ve crunched the numbers and I can afford my lifestyle (even with a few extras) on 30 hours a week and I have a year’s worth of living expenses in savings. Per company policy, I would still get full health benefits. But I don’t know how this works. As far as I know, everyone is full-time. I work for a large consulting firm (over 80,000 employees). I’m not sure if it’s okay to request this and how I would go about doing it.

For personal context, I’m mid-30s, single, and sad. My depression is rearing up because I do not feel productive at work and I am now really realizing I’m in the wrong field, which is leading to a lot of other hopeless thoughts. This schedule would free up space to explore changing careers, get healthier, and continue my therapy treatments. Two years ago, I was diagnosed with a chronic health condition that is still not fully under control and makes it difficult to lose the 60 pounds I’ve gained (mainly from the illness but also the depression).

I’ve mentioned this to two people whose opinion I value, and both responded negatively. And now I’m starting to think, am I being unreasonable? Is this a “suck it up!” situation? I’ve even thought about taking an adult gap year, but I’m not ready to blow through my savings quite yet and I’m worried about the health insurance. But man, am I close to calling it quits. I have got to get out of this field and I have got to get in better health.

Well … in general you should assume they hired for a full-time role because they need someone full-time, even if there’s a slow ramp-up to that. Managers can be very reluctant to make a role part-time even if there’s not a lot of work, because it can make it harder for them to justify a full-time role later on when they might really need it. Plus, by asking, you risk looking like you don’t really want full-time work, which can worry them.

But given all the facts here, I think you could ask, especially since you’ve already talked with your boss about how much downtime you have and she hasn’t come up to anything to fill it. I wouldn’t ask for six months though — it’s pretty likely that she expects you to have more work before then. Going part-time over the next month — maaayyybe two — and then reevaluating is probably more realistic.

More importantly, though, getting a yes from her isn’t the only way you can work on extracting yourself from this field! In fact, you might be able to use some of this downtime in your job to work on the goals you mentioned. In some ways, it sounds like you already are part-time, despite your physical location at work. Can you work on seeing it that way and taking advantage of the downtime in the same way you would if you were officially part-time? (I know it’s harder when you’re stuck at a desk, but try to see this as an advantage you wouldn’t have if the work were keeping you busy.)

{ 733 comments… read them below }

  1. Stephen!*

    Depending on the message, “everyone” is slightly more formal than “y’all” and especially appropriate if you have good news.

    1. KTB*

      I frequently use y’all in conversation at work, and prefer Hi All as an opener to email when I’m addressing multiple people in the same message.

      I have family from the South, but never lived there myself. In decades of saying “y’all” in the PNW, no one has ever batted an eye in a work setting.

      1. valentine*

        I think my colleagues would find “y’all” too casual, but everything else is unnatural and sounds too formal and stilted: you all, the [number]/both of you. “Everyone” sounds wrong, like it should include me, and reeks of condescension, a step away from a royal “we.”

        1. Jamie*

          I use the royal we all the time, if you mean saying we when I really mean “I” because I’m speaking on behalf of the company as a whole.

          “We are changing our general tolerance from 1/32 to 1/64.” Maybe I’m doing it but now we all have to, hence the “we.”

          And we sounds more cooperative and less like I’m issuing an edict.

      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        I’m a big fan of “all” and “y’all,” and I’ve never had anyone suggest it’s overly “colloquial” (I assume OP’s husband meant informal?). Of course, there are contexts and audiences who in which it may not be a preferred way to address a group, but for day-to-day business communications? It will often be safe.

        I mean, unless OP#4’s husband is insisting on opening all emails with archaic, formal addresses, opposing the use of “y’all” because it’s colloquial is silly.

        1. Bubbleon*

          I got an email from a vendor with the subject line “It’s Fall, Y’all!” immediately after I read this letter and wouldn’t have thought about it at all if it wasn’t such funny timing. I’m voting safe on this one too.

        2. Declasse*

          I have a friend who insists using y’all means you’re uneducated and backwards. I use y’all and its majestic sibling “all y’all” around her as much as possible.

          1. AnnaBananna*

            Here’s the deal. There’s only one southern accent I like and it’s not very southern (North Carolina). But I also have this truly awful aversion to y’all and all other southern accents. No clue where it comes from other than possibly my OK family members who were raised in CA and still somehow have an accent – who also happen to be largely uneducated and not in the least classy. So I realize that my attititude is wrong, and frankly rude, but it’s still a gut reaction.

            — a terrible person

        3. Sparrow*

          I don’t use “y’all” in work emails (I’d opt for “all,” there), but I say it fairly often. I’ve actually found it to be a good ice breaker. Surprisingly often, I’ve said, “Y’all” in a work setting, only to have another ex-Southerner perk up and go, “Wait, where are you from?”

          1. Southern gentleman*

            Hmmm….well, As a person from the South, “y’all” seems completely normal to me. But, I came here to say I sort of understand why some of y’all may think it sounds strange. I remember watching “Good Will Hunting” and finding all of their accents thoroughly obnoxious. I still have that gut reaction, but I realize it’s irrational and unfair.
            Y’all just be nice to people and everything will be okay.

      3. Jules the 3rd*

        I live in the US South and this is my pattern as well. Y’all in casual conversation, All for emails or presentations. No one has ever seemed to find ‘all’ = ‘too formal’, we understand code switching.

      4. theelephantintheroom*

        I use, “Hi all” a lot as well. I live in the south, though, so everyone I work with at our branch uses “y’all” in every day conversation. For people who spent their lives here, it’s just the way they talk to people they’re comfortable with. They’re more careful in settings where they’re speaking with customers or anyone on behalf of the company.

      5. Artemesia*

        I grew up in the PNW went to school in the Midwest, lived in the South for 35 years and retired to the Midwest. You all is the great contribution of the South to the American English language — it provides the missing plural you and it avoids the slightly sexist but commonly used ‘you guys’. Y’all is a fine opening. It is no more informal than ‘Hi’ or ‘Everyone’ both of which are also fine.

    2. Pony tailed wonder*

      I have no problem with y’all. It’s the you guys that makes me pause. It seems sexist to me. I suppose we all have our own preferences and that one is your husbands.

      1. Sleve McDichael*

        Interesting, I have never used ‘You guys’ or even just ‘guys’ in a way that is anything other than gender neutral. Sometimes I will even address a group of entirely girls as ‘You guys’. I guess that’s just my preferences.

        Although I must also throw in a vote for my personal gender-neutral favourite of ‘peeps’.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I’m going to ask that we not derail on this (but will also point out that while that is a common usage, you probably wouldn’t refer to a single woman as a “guy”).

      2. NDC*

        I don’t have any particular objections to y’all. I (a woman) feel completely excluded by “you guys” no matter how vociferously the users claim that “guy” is gender neutral.

        I like (and recommend) coming up with specifically descriptive terms like “team”, “everyone”, “colleagues”, “fellow teapot painters” to address or refer to a group. Some of those might be more appropriate in some settings than in others, but I’m sure you get the idea :)

        1. Alexander Graham Yell*

          Yeah, I switch it up between “Hi Team”, “Hi All”, and “Hey y’all” depending on who I’m talking to/how often I’m talking to them. I particularly enjoy using “y’all” with our international team – our two main offices are Paris and Houston and my goal is to just once get a Parisian to use “y’all”, haha.

        2. Barefoot Libraian*

          It’s funny, but I’ve used “you guys” or “guys” (or even “dudes”) as a gender neutral term to refer to a group of people my whole life, but having a handful of transwomen friends as an adult has made me rethink the whole thing. I still catch myself doing it, but I’m keenly aware that no matter how non-gendered I mean it to be, it could be downright hurtful to these ladies who fight not to be misgendered. I guess it’s never too late to teach an old dog new tricks.

        3. enlyghten*

          I use ‘Folks’ when I email the whole project or a group of people. I’m a stone’s throw from the Canadian border and we don’t use ‘y’all’ much here. I agree that ‘guys’ can be problematic.

          Incidentally, I also use ‘howdy’ instead of ‘good morning’ or ‘good afternoon’ when meeting someone in person. It’s a habit I picked up from doing shiftwork in the military. I kept catching myself saying ‘good evening’ when getting off shift at 0700, so decided to go with a time-neutral greeting as well.

      3. Cool Bananas*

        I use ‘chaps’, ‘guys’ and ‘peeps’ fairly indiscriminately. My team is 80% female, and nobody appears to feel excluded by that language. I have had some bafflement over the greeting ‘Morning campers. Hi-De-Hi!’ though. That’s one for people from the UK of a certain age. :)

        1. Cool Bananas*

          More seriously, I get the impression that ‘guy’ is a much more gendered term in the US than in the UK. As in, it would be Received Badly if a manager opened a meeting with both men and women with ‘Hello you blokes’.

          1. MK*

            If you are basing that on this comment board, I wouldn’t take it as representative of the US as a whole

          2. Jennifer*

            I don’t think that’s true. Many people use “guys” to address a group of people. I’m a woman and have never felt excluded by that. Same with “dude.”

        2. Ramona Q*

          People who feel excluded don’t always show it! Why not try to get a more concrete answer, or use more inclusive language just because it’s a good thing to do.

        1. Risha*

          I’m a woman, and verbally I use ‘guy’, ‘guys’, and ‘dude’, frequently and indiscriminate of gender. Sometimes I make myself wince with how much I feel this show off that I grew up in the 80s, but so far I’ve been unsuccessful at cutting back. I rarely use ‘guys’ and never the other two in work emails, though.

            1. Hey Anonny Nonny*

              I call my kid dude. My female dog dude. I’ve even called my laptop dude, as in, “Dude, what in the everloving $#$% are you doing??”

              Maybe it’s because I’m a native Californian? Who knows. Dude, I dunno.

        2. Artemesia*

          I am an old lady and have literally never heard ‘Dude’ used for women — I hear a lot of ‘my dude’ or ‘dudes’ from people my children’s age, but don’t hear them using it for women. ‘You guys’ on the other hand has always been gender neutral to me but I see that it isn’t for everyone and so now pretty much go with ‘you all’ or y’all.

          1. Blushingflower*

            It’s very common in California to use “dude” as a gender-neutral word (in the same way that “you guys” is considered gender-neutral by a lot of folks from the northeast); the usage is very regional.

            1. chumpwithadegree*

              I literally call everyone dude-including an MD last week. Mildly elderly in California.

          2. AKchic*

            It’s very much 80’s-90’s surfer / TMNT lingo.

            And yes, I’ve used it, as an Alaskan (we Alaskans tend to steal a lot of lingo from other parts of the world).

      4. many bells down*

        That’s why my husband has started using “hey folks.” He’s in a very male-dominated industry and he has several transgender co-workers so he is really trying to make his language gender inclusive.

        1. Quinalla*

          Yes,” folks” is my go to gender neutral word. I like it because it has the same informality of “guys” which was my old go to, but I am trying to get away from using. I’ve never considered using “y’all” as it isn’t really a word that gets used where I live, but I think it is appropriate when informal is ok. I hate “ladies and gentlemen” to an unreasonable degree and tend to use “everyone” when I want to be more formal.

          1. Radical Edward*

            Another Southerner here. I use ‘y’all’ like breathing, constantly and reflexively. Y’all means all! :) I have never, across three countries and several different sectors, had anyone remark that it was too casual. Tone might play a factor here, along with how strong the speaker’s accent is perceived to be – I’m not sure. In fact the only time it’s ever been mentioned to me was to say it sounded really friendly – but of course YMMV. I have been fortunate in avoiding people with negative Southern stereotypes, it seems.

            I have also tried deliberately switching over to ‘folks’ and it’s been pretty painless since to me it feels similar to ‘y’all’. (I used to use ‘dude’ so often and carelessly that it wasn’t even a pronoun, more like a verbal tic, and have been trying to quit. It’s been easier in print than in conversation…)

            It was simpler to stop using ‘guys’, since where I currently work (not in the US) it’s rather frowned-upon as being too casual in English-language work environments. Now it’s impossible to ignore when I hear someone else use it and it makes me cringe.

          2. Isabel C Kunkle*

            I had an old boss who addressed my group as “ladies.” All of us, including her, presented as female, so it wasn’t the exclusion that bugged so much as the feeling of being addressed by either a 1950s headmistress or a middle-aged ex-sorority girl.

        2. MM*

          Glad you brought this up. I can say that I use “Dude,” “Man” (as a sentence opener, like, “Man, I don’t know”), or “you guys” neutrally as much as I like, but it doesn’t stop my trans friends from flinching when I do it to them. I’ve cut back on those things a lot.

          1. Tinuviel*

            “You guys” is debatable and I can see that being painful for trans folks, but “dude” and “man” as exclamations aren’t actually referring to the listener, so I’m confused why those are in the same category. You could swap those out with “Jesus” or “Wow” or “Sh–” or “good gravy” and they’d have the same meaning.

          2. Isabel C Kunkle*

            It’s interesting, because the same word serves as both an address–“hey, dude, don’t bogart the brownies”–and an exclamation–“Dude! I just saw a sweet deal on surfboards!”

      5. AnotherKate*

        {This is a reply to Alison, not Pony tailed wonder, but I’m out of nesting}

        I absolutely understand why people are bothered by “you guys” and I’ve been actively working to remove it from my lexicon at work. That being said, there’s no linguistic reason why “guy” can’t be masculine but “you guys” functions as neutral. This is how romance languages like Spanish work (Maestro is a male teacher but Maestros can be a group of teachers that includes male and female teachers). And of course the argument can be made that the constructions are sexist in and of themselves! But it’s false to say that because the singular is male then the plural must also be. Language doesn’t work that way.

        Anyway, I don’t know why I felt the need to split that particular hair; I DO think it’s a fair thing to examine and when there are terms that are gender neutral in all forms and not just one that “functions” that way within a particular dialect, why not use the extra neutral one? I think I just feel the need to stick up for my own native dialect when it comes to “you guys”–we didn’t make up the linguistics of it. Doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be thoughtfully considered when it comes to usage in a broader cultural context, of course. We should all strive to be as inclusive as possible at work.

      6. Susan*

        My boss is CPO and also from the south. He uses y’all commonly, and I’ve picked it up as a substitute for ‘you guys’ because I work with and am friends with some transgender women who are sensitive to being referred to as ‘guys’.

    3. Fortitude Jones*

      I use everyone when addressing higher ups in writing and y’all during verbal discussions – I’ve been saying the latter all my life, and I’m from the east coast. No one seems to care about y’all in a conversation. I don’t write it in emails though – again, I either go with everyone or hey all when addressing a group. Then again, I work in less formal (i.e., less stuffy) environments, so that probably helps.

      1. Feline*

        I’m originally from the deep south, and y’all is a very common, informal way to say “collectively you people” in conversation. Depending on the context, I’ve used it in email to peers, but definitely not to managers.

        1. Sylvan*

          Yeah, that makes sense. I’ve used it out loud and in work group chat, but it wouldn’t sound right when addressing the group of managers.

          (My two closest managers and ~50% of coworkers speak the same Southern dialect.)

    4. Thornus*

      But if you open a conversation with “Good news, everyone!” I will just assume you’re about to do a Futurama bit.

      1. T3k*

        lol, every time someone writes that I read it in Professor Farnsworth’s voice and I immediately narrow my eyes and stare suspiciously at the announcement.

      2. Environmental Compliance*

        I have 100% on purpose done that just because of the Futurama thing (as in, here’s a goofy science-y tidbit, so of course I should open with Good News, Everyone), but alas….not a single coworker so far has gotten the reference.

      3. Barefoot Libraian*

        Yessss….this made me snort my coffee lol. I’m glad I’m not the only person who hears this in Prof. Farnsworth’s voice.

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’m a New Yorker who embraced “y’all” many years ago. Such an improvement over ‘youse guys’.
      I picked it up from a vendor in Kentucky who I worked with daily, and I’ve had southern co-workers ever since. I’m in a field where it’s logical for me to have strong opinions on grammar, so I’ve taken it and run.
      But really, modern English is sorely in need of an obvious second person plural!

      1. Atlantian*

        I started using y’all in High School when I took German the first time and realized they had a word for that and the only thing English has is y’all. At the time, I was living in the north, but in an area with a lot of 1-2 generation transplants from the south (think rust belt) and it was not entirely uncommon in everyday speech.

        Oddly, this whole conversation has made me realize that while using y’all out loud seems normal to me, the thought of using it in business writing, even informally, seems out of place. Not sure why.

        1. juliebulie*

          Good point – I feel the same way. I started saying “y’all” long before I had ever been south of Connecticut, but I never write it.

          Sometimes I say or write “yous” informally and tongue-in-cheek, but I hate the way it sounds.

          The fact is that we don’t have an “official” plural for you that is distinct from the singular, but the need for one comes up frequently.

          (There is also no “official” contraction for “am not,” but I’m not ready to defend “ain’t” just yet.)

          1. Thornus*

            Would you say you ain’t ready to defend it yet?

            American English also has “you ones” and its various contractions from “you’uns” in parts of Southern Appalachia to “yinz” in Pittsburgh.

            1. juliebulie*

              LOL, I would not say that!
              And I am aware of you’uns/yinz, but feel the same way about those that I do about yous(e). Probably because I can understanding saying “you all” (or “all you”), but not “you ones.”

        2. Timothy (TRiG)*

          The word y’all sounds quite unnatural in my idiolect, but I happily write (and say) ye. Other parts of Ireland use youse. It’s all a matter of dialect.

    6. Atalanta*

      I’m from Georgia, the owner of my company is from San Diego. He was on site yesterday and we just taught him y’all (singular) and all y’all (plural).

      1. Clisby*

        You taught him that y’all is singular? I need to go lie down and put a cool cloth on my head.

        1. AnonMom*

          Y’all is more singular than all y’all, but it can be plural, too. All y’all is just more plural. :)

          1. Clorinda*

            Y’all means some people. All y’all is everyone and often has a tone of irritation when applied to children. All y’all better leave that cake alone till the party.

            1. Iva*

              To me “all y’all” implies ABSOLUTELY everyone whereas y’all may mean some sub-set of a group.

              “All Y’all welcome to come to the party” OR “all y’all better simmer down or grandpa’s cuttin’ a hickory switch” are both uses I’ve heard.

              If I were sitting around in a group and heard “y’all are welcome to come to my party“ v. “All y’all are welcome to come,” I’d be more likely to consider the later as a sincere invitation to everyone.

              However, I’ve never heard a true Southerner or even a Midwesterner in a border area (e.g. downstate Illinois) use y’all as a singular you. I’ve no doubt people do it, just like people put sugar in cornbread, use instant grits, and drink unsweetened cool, black tea on a humid summer’s day, but it just seems wrong and indecorous.

              And, yes, I’d rassel an alligator over that!

              1. Ralph the Wonder Llama*

                You = singular
                Y’all = plural
                All y’all = each and every one of the plural you that I am addressing.

              2. linguistics!*

                What I’ve heard is that “y’all” can be used to address a singular person, but only in the context of a bigger group. That is, you can walk into a store and, even if there’s only one person there, say “Do y’all sell USB cables?”, because you’re using “y’all” to refer to the store as a multi-person organization, rather than just the one person who’s there. My native dialect doesn’t include “y’all”, but this tracks with my own second-person plural usage (as a New Yorker, I would say “do you guys sell USB cables?” and that sounds completely normal to me even if there’s only one person there).

              3. Atalanta*

                Hey, I had to make it easy for him! You should have heard him try to figure out fixin’ to.

        2. SimplyTheBest*

          Y’all usually isn’t so much singular as it is specific. I can y’all need to do this and it indicated a specific subset of people, but all y’all need to do that and it indicates everyone.

          I’m curious if they taught him possessives (can y’all pick up y’all’s things?)

      2. Yorick*

        I’m from Alabama. “Y’all” can never be singular. It literally means “you all.” “All y’all” is like saying “each one of you.”

        1. Alexander Graham Yell*

          The way I teach it to people is that “y’all” is for a defined group, “all y’all” is looser – so if I invite “y’all” to a cookout, it’d be you and your family/significant other. But if I invite “all y’all”, it’s you, your partner/family, if you’ve got a roommate or friends in town, or if there is just somebody cool you’d like to bring. It’s a far less specific plural, but both are plural.

        2. Library Lost*

          Y’all can have the illusion of being singular. For example, if I meet an old friend, might say “how are y’all doing?”.

          To an observer that might seem like a y’all singular. In reality I’m asking about how she’s doing and how her people are doing.

          I use y’all frequently, but I almost never write it. I catagorize it as spoken English only.

        3. JSQ*

          Tennessean checking in to agree. Y’all is not singular and it is never used as such. All y’all who say it is don’t know what you’re talking about ;)

      3. Tupac Coachella*

        I’m having so much fun imagining this conversation. IME, “all y’all” is usually delivered in a stern tone and means someone is about to get lightly reprimanded, as in “all y’all need to sit down” or “I’m done with all y’all.” It means we’re about to be in trouble…ALL of us. o_0

        I guess I’m in the minority, because I find “y’all” awfully informal for the business setting. Not offensive, just a little odd. I generally use “all” or “everyone” instead.

        1. Atlantian*

          I feel like “all y’all” is more stern, like using a child’s middle name to make sure you have their attention. Saying “All Y’all” is for making sure that no one can mistake that they’re not included in whatever is coming next. If you just say “y’all”, someone can assume “She meant *y’all*, not me” whereas “all y’all” means ALL Y’ALL.

          This might be the oddest paragraph I have ever typed.

      4. Jules the 3rd*

        Wait, whut? Southerner, and I’ve never heard a native use ‘y’all’ as singular.

        For me, ‘y’all’ is ‘two or more’ while ‘all y’all’ is larger groups, maybe… 10 or more? Trying to think back to examples where I’ve heard or used all y’all, I can’t think of a group smaller than 10, but this one is definitely going to have a lot of variation by region, formality, and group energy (ie, I’d probably use this for 6 – 8 boisterous kids, but maybe not for 10 office coworkers at work, informal conversation)

    7. anon*

      Frankly, English has a massive, whopping hole for where the third person pleural should be. We used to have thee, thou, you etc but we just tossed them away for the (frequently confusing) ‘you’.

      The French have tu (singular) and vous (sing formal and pleural). Makes total sense. I don’t know why English has decided that it’s ok to invent the word ‘twerking’ and ‘frenemy’ but doesn’t have a way of clearly addressing more than one person!

      Anyhow, I’m British and have sometimes used the Scouse ‘yous’, but now live in the US and y’all seems an incredibly sensible, gender neutral way of filling a linguistic hole.

      1. Batgirl*

        Scouser here who once included a passionate defence of ‘youse’ in her accent and dialect dissertation! I am so lost without it and end up ‘guy’-ing everyone like a trendy vicar.
        I like y’all a lot too as it is only a slight blend word and therefore easy to follow.

          1. Helena*

            “Trendy vicars” are a specific stereotype in the UK. Acoustic guitars, embarrassing attempts to reach out to “the kids”, and ripping out two hundred year old wooden church pews and replacing them with fold-up plastic seats because they are less formal.

            Trendy Vicars are usually Church of England, but Father Noel Furlong (Graham Norton) from Father Ted is the best example I can think of that you can find easily on YouTube.

      2. SomebodyElse*

        Couldn’t agree more. It does seem odd that we don’t have a great way to reference/address large groups in a non gendered way.

        I already get weird looks for my common usage of ‘ought’ so I don’t think I’m the right person to lead this charge.

      3. Iva*

        Let’s fix this after we fix the gaping hole that is often filled by “ain’t.” If people are going to deem that unacceptable and turn down their noses, we need a substitute contraction.

        There are several holes in English like this. Nothing made that more apparent to me than studying a few foreign languages.

        1. AnotherKate*

          Wait, what does “ain’t” fix? Can’t we use “isn’t” and “aren’t” to fill that hole?

            1. Clorinda*

              One of my sisters invented and still as an adult uses I amn’t. (Pronounced ament.) She refuses to say I aren’t.

            2. AnotherKate*

              Ok, I actually lol’d.

              I guess I figure if I’m looking for a contraction with “I,” I stick with “I’m,” but this was funny.

              1. Joielle*

                It’s a contraction of “am” and “not.” If you’re contracting “I am not,” you could say “I’m not” or “I ain’t.” A lot of people look down on “ain’t” and structure their speech to avoid it, but there’s not actually a more appropriate contraction for “am not.”

      4. Librarian1*

        English used to have a plural form of you, but it went out of style hundreds of years ago. I don’t remember why, but people just sort of stopped using it for some reason.

        1. delta cat*

          Strictly speaking, English used to have a *singular* form of you. You was the plural (and a singular formal, following a pattern that exists in a lot of languages, think French “vous” and German “Sie”). Thee/thou was the singular.

        2. wittyrepartee*

          Old English simplified when vikings came in, married old english speaking wives, and started learning really bad english as adults. Their kids learned both versions of the language, and picked and chose what features they liked and didn’t like.

      5. Tau*

        As a native speaker of German, I do feel the hole but on the other hand you-plural can be happy that the loss of “thou” also means you lost the distinction between formal and informal you (since what happened in English was that the formal version completely displaced the informal one). Because let me tell you, that one is a nightmare to handle, especially if you find yourself in a situation where you’re not sure which is the correct form and end up attempting to have a conversation without ever using the word “you”.

    8. PhyllisB*

      As I’ve said before on here, you will wrestle my “y’all” from my cold dead hands. Just be sure you are using it correctly. I have a speech (which I will thankfully skip here) that I give to my Northern relatives because they think y’all is funny and like to throw them in randomly.

        1. Atlantian*

          I also have this speech. It goes “English has a massive hole that y’all fills perfectly. Just because it was invented by people in the American South doesn’t automatically make it bad. Check your privilege. Thank you for coming to my TED Talk.”

          1. Iva*

            That and “ain’t.” Both are perfectly acceptable fillers for holes in the language. Both are deemed a sign of lack of education, sophistication, etc. by people who turn their noses up but do. Not offer alternatives.

            1. Helena*

              “Trendy vicars” are a specific stereotype in the UK. Acoustic guitars, embarrassing attempts to reach out to “the kids”, and ripping out two hundred year old wooden church pews and replacing them with fold-up plastic seats because they are less formal.

              Trendy Vicars are usually Church of England, but Father Noel Furlong (Graham Norton) from Father Ted is the best example I can think of that you can find easily on YouTube.

          2. Jennifer Thneed*

            AND! It was not invented by people in the American South. Like lots of “American” things, it was originally a “British” thing and it stuck around in the colonies while Britain moved on. True for fork handedness, true for y’all, true for lotsa stuff. Honestly, we could make a case for it being a traditional usage…

      1. Alexander Graham Yell*

        This reminds me of the full-body cringe I got when I read the Outback Steakhouse menu. So many words used so incorrectly.

    9. Chaordic One*

      They use the expression on our local public radio stations way too much. (I don’t live in the south and the people who use the expression aren’t from the south.) I suppose that if it really is something that you grew up saying it is okay, but it just seems to me to be kind of phoney and gratuitous to be dropping “y’all” into a casual conversation. Like you’re trying too hard to be hip or something.

      (The local public radio stations are also guilty of too much “curating” and “hand-picking.)

      1. Katertot*

        I am from the upper midwest and have moved to the south recently. I simply cannot work y’all into my vocabulary. I feel with my accent especially, it sounds completely out of place. I like the idea – but it feels super false and fake if I try it.

        1. RainbowBrite*

          I’m from Minnesota and it feels so weird coming out of my mouth. It’s just not a thing we can pull off, I swear.

    10. LawBee*

      Y’all is just fine. It’s become more prevalent and I suspect you hear it all the time and don’t notice it. I wouldn’t put it in writing but there is zero reason not to use it in any verbal conversation. I’ve said y’all to senators and CEOs and no one cared.

      Why not writing? It’s often misspelled and also we just don’t DO that. It’s a verbal contraction.

        1. Becky*

          I distinctly remember a very young me writing a letter to my grandparents–I grew up in Virginia and have used “y’all” all my life (including stubbornly keeping it the past 20 years I have lived in the Rockies) but understanding where to use it correctly in a sentence is different than understanding it is a contraction or how to spell it. I remember being completely stymied while writing this letter because I had never seen “y’all” written down and didn’t know how to spell it. I somewhere in my head knew it was a contraction because I knew an apostrophe was supposed to be in it but I couldn’t figure out where so I think I somehow ended up spelling it “y’a’ll”.

    11. Witchy Human*

      Being able to use “y’all” in conversation is kind of a privilege.

      I’m in a field/region where I am a minority in both ethnicity and accent. I fought hard to purge my language of “y’all” and “ain’t” because I was explicitly told they made me sound uneducated.

      1. Sharkie*

        I am sorry about that. That is the one thing I can’t stand about regional accents/dialects is this problematic idea that becasue something is different it is ” uneducated”. I am from DC which is very much the “middle” and some of the most educted people I know were from the South and said Y’all and ain’t and all the sayings. Yes there is a time and place for it but a Y’all here and there is not going to harm anyone.

      2. Jules the 3rd*

        Yes, it has definitely been a white middle class privilege. This is changing, some, as people start to adapt to the concept that language is fluid, and that we can put words into use to plug holes, like ‘y’all’ for plural and ‘they’ as singular gender neutral.

        It’s going to become, in the not distant future, that people who can not change in this way are the ones who lose status, just as people who can’t stop using derogatory terms do now. It’s part of the ‘constant learning’ that people are being expected to do.

      3. Tupac Coachella*

        Good point. I was specifically taught not to use y’all or ain’t growing up, and my father grew up in the South. I definitely feel like as a POC, any use of those words becomes racialized for me in a way that it doesn’t for my peers. I’ve softened up on “y’all” since so many people now take offense to “you guys” (the “all of you” of my 90s youth), but I only use it in very informal settings, usually with people I know well, and I never use ‘ain’t.’

        1. lawyer*

          I’m a white southerner and my family definitely sought to purge my accent and colloquialisms like y’all and ain’t so I wouldn’t “sound poor.” (My dad grew up poor and was very aware of it, although as white people we didn’t have the additional hurdles that POC face.) People never think I’m from the south now, and I feel a weird guilt about that, like I’m ashamed of where I came from. But my family did that because they WERE ashamed of where we came from (to a certain extent). Which almost makes me feel worse, IDK.

          1. Jennifer Thneed*

            You’re sort of having the experience of grandchildren of immigrants, where the 1st generation insisted that their children ONLY speak English, and the 3rd generation regrets the lost language and not being bilingual.

    12. Mockingjay*

      I simply use “All.”

      I’m in the South. While I use “y’all” everyday in conversation, emails are a little more formal.

    13. Dana B.S.*

      I usually go with “hey team” to open an informal email. Overall, I don’t find it natural to use y’all in writing for some reason, but I don’t even think about when I’m talking – it just comes out!

    14. ItsAllFunAndGames*

      Good news that is rarely good, but typically about your next delivery is to some planet where you very likely won’t survive, but the Professor will get a good kick-back on.

    15. Chronic Overthinker*

      I love using Folks or Team. No gender issues there and not too informal. If I have a company wide email I need to send out it’s “Good (time of day) Team,” for something formal or “Good (time of day) Folks” if it’s something more informal. It works well.

    16. Aquar1an*

      I love ‘Y’all’ as a gender-neutral plural, especially for inter-team or inter-company emails (our HQ is in Kansas, so it wouldn’t be as frowned upon anyway).

      I’m also a fan of ‘Hi Folks’ for these situations, or ‘Hi Everyone’/’All’.

    17. Betty Scott*

      I strongly agree with this. I actually hate y’all in the workplace. Why not everyone? Why not keep it more formal and just say you all instead of making it a contraction?

  2. Fiona the Baby Hippo*

    I’ve used “y’all” in the workplace since starting out in the workplace. I was born in TN but worked in NYC for years, my coworkers from the midwest and north admitted to consciously trying to pick it up because they found it so charming when we southerners used it.

    1. Kathlynn (Canada)*

      I picked it up as a kid visiting family in the USA, and occasionally used it. Then I learned more about gender stuff, and people feeling that the neutral use of guys was sexist, and use it significantly more frequently. I also like saying it, so there’s that.

      1. Alexander Graham Yell*

        I like to tell people I default to “y’all” because “Guys, gals, and non-binary pals” is too much of a mouthful.

    2. Captain Radish*

      Plus, there really is no good “formal” substitution. The proper plural form of “you” is…”you.” Up here in Pittsburgh, people use yunz (or some variation).

    3. Phoenix Programmer*

      I am not getting the hate for y’all from OP’s husband.

      I work at a hospital, am frequently called “the smartest person I know” by leadership, and y’all is a common part of my vernacular.

      Seriously y’all the “ignorant southernor” stereotype has run its course.

    4. Quill*

      We’ve constantly got southerners wandering through my (northern midwest) neck of the woods and while I don’t know anyone not actually from the south who uses y’all consistently, we do have people who will use it occasionally.

    5. Aheahe*

      Y’all means all!!

      I love using y’all – both in my agencies in TN with my clan of fellow southerners and now in my new agency role up in the PNW. I don’t think about it because it’s inherent in my speech, but others have only given me positive comments because they do find it charming.

      If someone ever criticizes me for my accent or imitates me in a mean-spirited way, I kindly warn them to be sure not to react so severely next time they meet someone from a place that may not be in our own country. Reminding them of how easy their own prejudice can be spotted turns them on their heel :)

  3. Hope*

    To offer a different opinion: unless the speaker was from the US South (in which case, all absolutely fine), I might find “y’all” a bit flip and overly casual on a conference call, depending on the tone. “You all” = fine. Doesn’t “you” just do the same job?

    I would DEFINITELY find “y’all” too casual in an email (again, unless the writer was from the South). But I also don’t like “Hey” as a salutation in a business email, either, so I’m probably on the more formal end of the spectrum. To me it’s the equivalent of wearing sweatpants at the office. Nothing wrong with just “hi”!

    1. Uyulala*

      I think this is a “know your office” thing. I use y’all in emails specifically because it is colloquial and casual. Not with serious issues we are working on or with all customers. More like a friendly thing with regular customers when all is well.

    2. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

      My understanding of y’all is that it can be an unconscious word choice.
      We had a conference call at work just recently which was either international, or the woman in question had moved countries (we’re in the UK, but I didn’t set up the call and couldn’t see any detail behind the usernames). She used y’all a couple of times – both as salutation and as in “I’ll send the updated spreadsheet and y’all provide feedback”. While it sounded a little strange to my naive North-West English ears (international conference calls are not the norm in my role, so the accent threw me initially more than the word choice), it didn’t specifically stand out as overly informal or inappropriate. In fact, I only really picked up on it at all is because of reading it’s usage on comments sections like this one!

      1. tamarack and fireweed*

        (I would surmise that the accent jolt may have been mutual.)

        On the larger issue, while I’m totally with Alison in general terms, this doesn’t mean that a specific person can’t come across as weirdly unauthentic when using y’all, especially if they’re very much Yankee otherwise. Or, say, Scottish. (Say “yous” if you’re Scottish.) But if you make the reasonable assumption that the OP is someone for whom y’all would come naturally, this doesn’t apply.

    3. Lynca*

      I think it does ultimately come down to whether you feel being colloquial is too casual for a workplace and when formality is needed. People are going to draw that line in different places.

      I use y’all all the time. I don’t find it too casual for emails or a conference call. I think the line I would draw would be a outside presentation because that is the situation where I feel I need to be the most formal. Even presentations to people in other offices in my org. isn’t a formal situation.

    4. Aquawoman*

      I understand thinking it’s informal, because it is, but I don’t understand differentiating among speakers’ geographic origins. No one would mistake me for Southern, but I lived in Atlanta for 5 years, and “y’all” and “fixing to” are still part of my vocab even though that was 20 years ago.

    5. Ariana Grande's Ponytail*

      I second this, as a native Southerner who now lives up north. Even though I’m from there, it’s not the norm here and unfortunately people DO have stereotypes about Southern folks that can be damaging. I’m already in a profession where everyone is expected to use big words and flex their brainpower over everyone else, so I try to avoid using y’all or other Southern-isms until I am certain that folks know who I am and what I’m about. I NEVER use it in email or in conversation with people I’m unfamiliar with.

    6. LilyP*

      Y’all can be different from just “you” because it explicitly includes an entire group. E.g. asking a team lead “what did you think of the new proposal” = what did you as an individual think, but “what did y’all think of the new proposal” invites them to pass on reactions from their entire team

  4. IsbenTakesTea*

    OP#2 To me, disseminating non-work information uninvited has the same feel whether climate science or vaccinations or religious philosophies or conspiracy theories: regardless of how I feel about any of these issues, none of these is what I’m being paid to think about while at work, nor am I interested in discussing them with my coworkers.

    As Alison says, it WILL make you seem like you have an agenda, because you are agressively crossing a well-established professional norm.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      It’s also a bit presumptuous to assume one’s coworkers are not up-to-date on current events. If they want to read the complaint, they will. If they don’t want to, they won’t. It’s ok for people to filter where they focus their attention, and I’d be incredibly annoyed if someone started sending me emails encouraging me to take notice and draw my own conclusions about current political events.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        This. Just because your coworkers aren’t talking about the whistleblower situation at work, OP, doesn’t mean they don’t know anything about it. They probably understand that religion and politics are generally off topic in the workplace and are avoiding it so as to not end up in frustrating conversations where they feel they have to defend their views – a lot of people aren’t trying to get into heated conversations in the workplace. I’d leave this alone.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          A lot of us are specifically trying HARD to avoid politics in the workplace because interpersonal dynamics are tricky enough before adding disagreements that aren’t work-related.

          1. Quill*


            8 hours a day where facebook and twitter are blocked, and the news isn’t on, can be precious, and the only way to get anything done.

          2. Fortitude Jones*

            Yup. I cringe every time I hear people bring it up in mixed company because, unless you know everyone in the group well enough to know their political leanings, you could be stepping on a landmine and causing discomfort to people who just don’t want to deal with this ish 24/7.

            1. Quill*

              Even very supportive people who are generally on the same side can hit a nerve, based on their optimism or pessimism about current investigations, laws, scandals, and news items. My mom and I differ in politics on pretty much one issue only, but I can still find talking about it with her grating because she believes in dramatic reversals of policy and I’m not made for optimism.

        2. Dust Bunny*

          Amen! I get enough news every day–I do not want to hear about it at work, too. One, that’s not what we do and it has zero bearing on my job. Two, I’m stressed enough already. (I know for a fact that everyone in my immediate vicinity at work is more or less aligned politically, too, and I still don’t want to have political discussions with them.)

        3. Turtle Candle*

          Yep. And I am decently well-informed, but honestly, I need breaks from politics to be able to focus and function—the drip feed of news all. the. time is an aggravation and also makes it more difficult for me to concentrate, which is important to me. I also don’t talk politics at board game club or beach cleanup day or writing group. It’s important, but it’s not an all day every day thing for me, just for my own sanity.

          So I’d be pretty peeved to have it dropped in my lap at work. (Plus, if told to “draw my own conclusions, I’d find that… sort of… mildly condescending? I can read things and assess them without instructions.)

        4. Owl*

          This! This letter is so condescending and patronizing. You have no idea if your coworkers are up to speed on this (not that it’s any of your business in the first place). I’m very “up to speed” on current events: I read the news, read source documents, vote, march, volunteer, etc. My coworkers have no idea I do any of those things, and gene politics come up I change the subject. If they push I demure, because I want to avoid talking to people like you when I’m trying to get work done.

          If any of my coworkers took it upon themselves to “educate” me in the work place I’d permanently brand them ass a pretentious, condescending asshole.

          I’m not sure where exactly you think the line should be drawn here either. You said yourself this is only “one of the most significant events” happening in one country. There are other, totally legitimate, things your coworkers might care more about, weather it’s global warming, childhood hunger/starvation, mass extinctions, global refugee crisis, any number of (civil) wars/conflicts, infringement of constitutional rights… this is one of the many reasons people don’t talk about this at work. What do you think would happen I’d every person hijacked your group chat to talk about the thing they find important?

          Stop assuming you’re the smartest person in the room. Stop assuming the things you care about are The Most Important. Stop assuming your coworkers lives and knowledge ends with what they share with you. Let people do their jobs.

          1. Daniela*

            Exactly this! OP#2 comes across as totally condescending. The only thing that would annoy me to the same level is if a coworker tried to sell me on a multilevel marketing scheme. And after a single request to discontinue the conversation, I would go to HR for both issues. They are completely inappropriate in the workplace.

      2. Sylvan*


        Many people already follow the news and don’t need permission to have opinions on it. Just let em be, OP.

      3. Lisa’s*

        I agree. How do you know they’re not up to speed with politics? That’s very presumptuous. Maybe they just don’t want to talk about it at work, post about it incessantly on social media or discuss it with you.

      4. Mookie*

        Exactly. Do not mistake your enthusiasm for other people’s imagined ignorance. Nobody’s talking about this at work because it isn’t appropriate, not because they are intellectually undernourished lemmings with no inner life, curiosity, attention span, or sense of civic duty. This isn’t your business; if you want to “benevolently” lecture the little people, do it off the clock and somewhere else [where people who don’t like being talked at can freely get away from you].

        1. Bulldog*

          +1000. I wish this site had a “like” feature so I could up vote this post. I would also add that perhaps people aren’t talking about this at work because they are, you know, actually working. The OP seems to have too much free time at her job if she is so focused on spreading this information. I would suggest going to her manager and asking for additional projects to fill her time.

        2. Liz*

          “intellectually undernourished lemmings” This made me choke like crazy on my coffee! thank you for that morning laugh!

        3. EPLawyer*

          Thank you. It is not LW’s place (or anyone’s really) to decide what people should be interested in or use as a news source. Also, it’s work, you are there to work not discuss politics/religion/or the latest MLM venture.

          If you really must discuss this, find an online group devoted to politics or discuss it among your friends. Leave your co-workers alone.

        4. CMart*

          Very well said. The presumption that “no one is talking about it” = “they don’t know what’s going on” is patronizing at best.

          I know very well what’s going on outside of the office walls. And no thank you very much, under no circumstances do I want to shatter my little bubble of respite from politics where all I have to do is analyze widget counts and the only thing that matters is widget production.

        5. Jules the 3rd*

          I am progressive and passionate about politics and have been devouring this while still keeping an eye on other important topics like voter rights / access in PA, NC, GA, WI, ND, Greta’s climat speech/ the climate strike, etc.

          I do NOT talk about ANY of this at work. I think I’ve made a couple of allusions with two people (who started it by assuming my positions correctly, that was nice) and a third could probably guess, as we bonded over being atheists in the Bible Belt. Other than that, nope. Nope nope nope.

          I do sometimes feel sorry for Mr Jules as he is the primary recipient of my ‘and today *this* happened’, but I’m the primary recipient of his ‘and today, Tech Co announced This!’ so it evens out. Fortunately, Little Jules is becoming quite interested in both politics and tech.

        6. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Mookie, this response is so poetic! I’m going to steal parts of it in the future. :)

      5. Mel*

        Came here to say this.

        Plus. Sometimes, pretend to know a little *less* about polarizing issues at work. I’m not going to want to discuss it and seeming as if I *can’t* discuss it can be pretty effective.

        1. juliebulie*

          I’m surprised it doesn’t encourage a more enthusiastic person to explain it to you in detail.

      6. Liz*

        This! 100%. I am an avid news watcher and reader. And have very decided views on many things, politics included. But I have friends and co-workers as well as family who are not. I sometimes think to myself how do they function not knowing what’s going on in the world (and not just politics but ANYTHING) but its their choice not to do what I do. And I never in a million years would push anything on anyone, whether it be forwarding news items to them, or anything like that.

        And if someone at work tried to push their agenda onto me, I’d be pretty pissed off and think it was completely inappropriate.

      7. Please don't go bringing up politics!*

        Agreed. As I mentioned below, I have post-traumatic stress disorder that tends to get triggered by current events, so staying out of the news is literally a survival strategy for me.

        1. Anon right now*

          +1. I could NOT watch, or hear, any of the Jeffrey Epstein coverage. And it was all my colleagues wanted to talk about for days. One of my co-workers had me really trapped in the office and was standing between me and the door and talking enthusiastically about it – I was on the verge of tears and really NEEDED them all to either shut up and get back to work or quit blocking the door so I could go to the restroom and take some medication and collect myself.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          For me, it was the Brett Kavanaugh hearing. The details of Ford’s assault were too close to mine, so I avoided it. I took my friend and her cats to the vet that day, and the TV in the lobby was playing the hearing. I asked them to please change the channel and the receptionist said, “Ugh, of course,” and she did.

        3. Librarian of SHIELD*

          Yeah, I can’t watch mass shooting coverage, and in the days after an event when it’s all my coworkers are talking about, I take a lot of bathroom breaks and trips to the storage room.

      8. LITJess*

        Perhaps I’m giving OP 2 a gentler reading than I should, but I interpreted that compulsion to inform as really a desire to have people to discuss this story with. Which still can’t be your co-workers, OP. If you want to share/discuss current events, consider Twitter/Facebook groups/Reddit perhaps? If you cultivate your feed you can have meaningful conversations with people about current events and therefore avoid bringing politics into the office.

    2. valentine*

      It seems like a contradiction.

      people can draw whatever conclusions they want from them and are entitled to their own views and opinions
      They’re of the opinion they don’t need to read original sources. If the point isn’t to change their opinion, why bother?

      1. Tinuviel*

        Agreed. OP, what is your goal in sharing this?

        To offer a non-work topic of conversation? Try local sports or a TV show instead.
        To inform them about current events? They are already informed to the degree they want to be, by the sources they want to read/watch. You know this because they have not asked for help from you.
        To share an exciting piece of history? History is always unfolding around us. Share an episode of Stuff You Missed In History Class instead.
        To stir the pot? Watch a telenovela instead to get your dose of drama.

        To provoke your coworkers into rethinking their sources of news, their political opinions, and their level of engagement?
        This is beyond your control and more than a little presumptuous. Closely following current events is a hobby like any other, and people are not lazy or stupid if they’d rather treat it like a comedy than a drama. And believe it or not some people find it not fascinating but stressful and rage-inducing. There is a reason why we don’t discuss sex, politics, or religion in polite society.

        1. Harper the Other One*

          Your point about it being extremely stressful to some deserves some extra attention! I had to suggest to my partner to stop watching the news for a while; he was getting angry and upset and I saw it taking a significant toll on his mental health. Sometimes taking a step back is necessary.

          1. MsM*

            I work in an environment where it is entirely appropriate and even encouraged to share policy-related news that might affect our tactics and messaging, and I still need a break some days.

          2. Dust Bunny*

            I had to put the smackdown on my mother this weekend because she wouldn’t stop haranguing in my general direction about current events. I finally told her I was getting this from all my other friends and she needed to hand-wring about it to someone else because I’d reached my limit. I think she needs to watch less of it on TV and read more of it on news sites; it’s easier to control your intake and not hearing *his* voice is a lot less twitch-inducing. At this point, I’m actually exhausted by how shocked everyone else is about it, in addition to being exhausted by it. Meta-exhausted? Anyway, I just can’t any more. I read enough to know what’s going on but I don’t have the bandwidth to be re-appalled every five minutes.

            1. Isabel Kunkle*

              Oh, sympathy. I get along well with my folks in general, but I am not looking forward to Dad’s “Morning Joe/Meet the Press” habit when I go home. A lot of the talking head shows really strike me as the equivalent of College Relationship Dissections. Did he say what he said because he was angry, or because he has issues with commitment, or because his lunchtime steak and cheese wasn’t sitting well? Who cares? He said it, take action or not, move on. Will this thing that’s going on now mean that people do another thing in the future? It might! It might not! We might be hit by a comet! Call your Psychic Friend and have a drink!

              I usually just try and lose myself in a book during the whole thing, but an unfortunate amount gets through, and then Dad wants to talk about it. I love the guy and he’s old (and not horrible in his beliefs, just analytic to a point that I think is pretty useless) so I indulge him to a point, but lord, this is why God made gin.

            2. Jules the 3rd*

              Yeah, I have pretty much decided anytime T* comes on, I’m going to switch the channel. I can pick up what I need from the summaries.

              Until this week, it was more important to watch the policies anyway – what he said was mostly to distract from what was getting done.

            3. BookishMiss*

              Oh yeah. I work in a VERY politicized field, but my job has nothing to do with the actual politics of it. I have a very hard No Politics At Work rule, which successfully carries over to family dinners. I just can’t anymore. I’m aware of what’s going on, but holy whoa am I too exhausted by it to Politics Nicely.

          3. CMart*

            Yes. I’ve very recently sought mental health help because I realized I was having half a dozen panic attacks a day. Part of my strategy to mitigate that is to avoid news outlets.

            I have no influence over what happens with this Trump/Ukraine report. I have exactly zero need to know the details or draw my own conclusion. I’ll catch up on the situation someday when my anxiety is under control.

            Please, OP2 – don’t do this to your colleagues. For some of us, work is the only break we get from the crushing dread of the wider world.

            1. Tinuviel*

              This as well. Being incredibly well informed does not give me more influence over what happens, so really I don’t need to know. About this or who was murdered in another state or who got married in another country.

        2. Isabel Kunkle*

          This right here. I’m pretty liberal to the point of being into activism, but when there’s really nothing I can do about a situation, I don’t consider myself a bad citizen or even a bad activist if I don’t pay a lot of attention to it, particularly *as it unfolds*. In this particular case, I know that my own senator and reps support impeachment, I know how I’m going to vote in the next election or two, and after that? Nothing will change as a result of me knowing more or less about the exact complaint, the current state of affairs, or anything else about the situation, and meanwhile the world is full of fantasy novels and shows where attractive men get shirtless.

          Calvin Trillin did a series of columns about a co-worker, “Harold the Concerned,” who started every day by asking if Calvin wanted the world to be destroyed in a nuclear war. Don’t be Harold the Concerned.

          1. Shhhhh*

            One of my coworkers and I recently had a conversation that essentially boiled down to “We have so many things to concentrate on that we can control, let’s not devote all of our attention to the details of this big thing that we can’t control, especially at work.” So that’s what I’m trying to hold on to.

        3. Brazilian Hobbit*

          This is so important about it being stressful to people. One of my friends is like this. He reads and watches everything on the news, gets really stressed, and then enraged that everyone else in our circle of friends isn’t obsessing over it all along with him. It’s so exhausting I’ve had to limit my exposure to him drastically, because I just don’t have the energy to be enraged all the time.

    3. Rexish*

      Also I’m sure they know how to google for the documents if the ywant to read them. I’d be very annoyed if my co-worker sent me a link to these. I’d assume it’s political propaganda with an agenda and assume that this co-worker thinks I’m not smart enough to think for my self.

      1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

        This is my take. It’s very easy to find the text if you are interested. I’m also very concerned about the situation but I’m so damn tired of politics that I avoid chewing over every detail. It really is like an over-hyped TV series that everyone likes but me, and I’m tired of hearing about nothing else.

    4. T3k*

      Yep. I leave all my personal political opinions where it belongs (my social media pages), not my company’s various team chats.

    5. Np*

      I don’t know — I always find it interesting when people share it at work. I certainly wouldn’t be annoyed as crap, unless the documents were accompanied by some sort of speech or urging to join a protest or something. We often share stuff like that in our work chats. And although we are all of various political persuasions. It has never led to any sort of resentment (once or twice, MAYBE, in the last decade or so, leading up to a major election, we’ve had slightly more heated debates over lunch) — but I think we’re all adults and can cope if someone shares something that isn’t entirely neutral (like for example the weather forecast)…

      1. MK*

        You just described my entire country’s attitude towards political discussion; it’s practically a national sport, people argue passionately about it and then move on, without it ruining the holidays or their relationship. I was pretty surprised to learn that in the U.S. it is considered a sensitive topic, but since that’s the case, it’s better to err on the side of discretion.

        I have to say, though, even here what the OP wants to do would be considered really presumptuous. Discussing the matter at work? Fine. Asking the people you are already in a discussion with if they read the original documents/ advising them to do so/offering to send a link? Ok. But a company-wide email sent with the intent to educate other adults on things they have easy access to is pretty condescending. I think what bothers me is the didactic tone of the letter: it’s not that the OP found an interesting link and wanted to share, it’s almost as if they are trying to assign their coworkers homework.

        Off topic, but history is happenning around you all the time, and you can’t always tell what is significant. This issue that feels momentous to you now might turn out a soap bubble, while the really important stuff is taking place away from the limelight.

        1. Np*

          Thank you for that really interesting and thoughtful reply!! I completely see what you mean about the didactic tone, actually…

        2. Feline*

          I agree what the OP is thinking will come across as presumptuous. The only place I talk politics is with a certain group of friends, and at one point, one of them tried to get across a point by saying, “Let me educate you…” That didn’t go over well, as you can imagine. That’s how it feels pushing documents on people at didn’t ask for them.

    6. Sorrischian*

      It’s probably not from current Russian influence, but the addition of ‘the’ to any country’s common name (The US and The UK are a bit different because they’re not a singular noun) has the implication that it isn’t a place of equal importance to other nations. Yes, it’s an old-fashioned construction – from a period when Sudan, Lebanon, etc were colonial territories of various European powers. It’s very much the same for Ukraine, and it’s generally good practice not to refer to any country as ‘the’ anything.

      1. Asenath*

        Generally, its good practice to find out what a country’s official translation of its name into English is, and use that. Sometimes – rarely, these days – it includes “the”. It’s also good practice not to assume that someone who uses an older version of a country’s name means anything negative by it. Unless they’re writing or speaking in a formal context about a country they know well, they might simply be unaware of the latest version of the name.

        1. Sorrischian*

          Oh, for sure I think most English-speaking people saying ‘The Ukraine’ don’t mean anything by it, but I also think we should try to be aware of the connotations of things like that.

          It’s extra complicated in this case because Russian, Ukrainian, and other slavic languages don’t have articles like ‘the’, so when we translate into English or other languages that do, how and whether we choose to include articles can have a huge impact on meaning. In Russian, ‘krai’ means ‘edge’ or ‘border’, so calling Ukraine ‘The Ukraine’ definitely has some unfortunate, even if unintentional, subtext.

      2. JSPA*

        The Netherlands are another (slightly hidden) united plural.

        In Russian usage, “The” may be used in an attempt to signal territorial rather than independent status. But it’s not actually working (linguistically, that is) because while it presumably once had that implication, it no longer does so, in common parlance.

    7. Asenath*

      Familiarity, for the most part. Until fairly recently, that was the usual term in English, and people who have not been following events in that part of the world will probably use the term they know.

      At the other extreme, there may well be people who are using ‘The” to make the point described above, that Ukraine is not a country, but in my lifetime, it’s been quite normal for some countries to have “The” in their names, and in English, there was no implication that such countries weren’t countries.

    8. JSPA*

      I actually think OP 2 could print out ONE copy, staple it, and leave it in the break room. The few people who are interested but have not already read it (or have nothing better to do while sipping their coffee) are free to look it over.

      Do not, however, use the OFFICE printer for this.

      I am sympathetic to the fact that we used to have a public sphere, but as shopping moved first into malls and then online, and entertainment moved first into enclaves, then online, work is now one of the few places where people with different attitudes, backgrounds and information have to mingle. (Except, now, there’s increasing WFH.) I don’t think it’s so wrong to make something be present. More than that, however, is a gross imposition.

      1. Ginger*

        Nooooo. Do not leave copies lying around.

        That would come across as weird, someone covertly trying to bring politics into the workplace. I assume the OP works with adults capable of looking up information on their own if they so desire.

      2. Mockingjay*

        NO. Absolutely NOT. I do NOT want to discuss politics at work. Work is stressful enough (too much work, not enough resources – thank god the team lead knows how to prioritize). Home is also stressful – hubby and I are dealing with eldercare and other things.

        Do not foist your political leanings on me in the guise of “informing” me. I know about about the papers. If I choose to read them, I will. Weird thing about being an adult – I get to make my choices.

      3. EventPlannerGal*

        That would seem bizarre to me, even more so than just being sent a link in a group chat. At least that’s reasonably straightforward – they send you the link because they want you to read it, rather than some sort of cryptic pamphleteering.

      4. SomebodyElse*

        Nope…. this type of thing opens the can of worms that shouldn’t be opened in the workplace.

        Presumably the OP isn’t a teacher in charge of a current events class or a Senate/Congressional staffer… if that’s the case then the following doesn’t apply.

        Work, except for very narrow circumstances, should be a politics free zone, there is ample opportunity for people to discuss, argue, pontificate, and jeer politics in their own time. It really doesn’t have to be A # 1 topic all day every day everywhere. In fact I’d argue that it’s better overall if people are allowed to interact, get to know each other, and generally exist in spaces where politics doesn’t come in to it.

        Gasp! It allows people to get to know each other as fellow human beings before labels and preconceived notions are applied… how novel.

    9. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      Yep. I follow the golden rule at work – no politics or religion. Everyone is entitled to their beliefs and opinions, but it’s not an appropriate discussion topic at work. If you come at me with anything on either of those topics, I will shut you down hard. Even if you’re close to someone at work, and can have a civil conversation about either subject, conversations should stay out of the workplace unless they’re in private.

    10. BenAdminGeek*

      Yes, and as frustrating as it can be to feel like people are ignorant of important events, it’s not your job to fix that at work. There’s no way you can share this information without seeming either pompous or naive (or both!).

    11. kittymommy*

      I cannot agree with this enough. I work in local government (specifically not politics, but I do work with politicians so I am always affected by politics and political issues). Please do not assume that I am unaware or uniformed on national or international news, I just already deal with it so much already I don’t need any more added in my work life.

      1. JokeyJules*

        exactly this.

        I educate myself, and i hear about it enough, i dont want to hear it at work at all. i’m at the point where my strategy is to play dumb whenever coworkers talk about this because i just dont want to hear about it even more than i already do.

    12. OhBehave*

      If OP has any authority over anyone this may seem to be pressure to agree with their views. OP’s assumption that the coworkers don’t read or know about this is a bit insulting. You will not convert anyone to a side by pushing this info.
      As many have said, work has enough stress alone without adding politics.

  5. NotAnotherManager!*

    If saying y’all at work is wrong, I don’t want to be right.

    I work in an incredibly academically snobby and fairly classist industry, and both my boss and I use y’all – she’s C-suite, I’m a rung below. It’s not hurt my reputation at work.

    1. Loose Seal*

      Absolutely agree. My only problem would be if it was misspelled (ya’ll) which is like nails on a chalkboard to me. So far, no one has done it here on this page but my mother — a lifelong Southerner and comfortable verbal user of y’all — always, always misplaces the apostrophe. I think she thinks it’s a word unto itself and not a contraction since she gets other contractions right, even the ones other people seem to find difficult.

      1. SS Express*

        I hate this too! I don’t even live in a place where people say y’all that much, but it really annoys me. Whenever I read “ya’ll” my brain thinks it’s a contraction of “ya will”, like “ya’ll have to wash ya hands before ya eat”, and I get so confused and annoyed.

        1. Vanellope*

          Lol! Or the plural – y’all’ll. All y’all’ll have to wash your hands. Never written it out before but born & raised in the south, sure have heard it!

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Haha, that was my first thought too — say it wherever you want, just don’t misspell it!!

      3. Wordnerd*

        Yes! Thank you, my people! Because I’m an English teacher, people think I’ll be mad about y’all, but I have only ever gotten annoyed by ya’ll.

        1. NoneYa*

          OMG…I’m from Texas and afraid I’ve been putting the apostrophe in the wrong spot my whole life?!? I think I’ll go jump off of a cliff now. Bye y’all.

      4. NotAnotherManager!*

        I have clearly found my people! I have been a y’all proponent for a long time, but my husband and I have this discussion on occasion. I’m not saying ya all, I’m saying you all and contracting it as appropriate! (I am Southern and was raised by an English teacher. I’ve got the accent AND the grammar pedantry.)

    2. sunshyne84*

      Me neither! I hate when I see people type you’ll when they obviously mean y’all. Or yawl. Don’t try to make it your own. So irritating. lol

  6. Sleve McDichael*

    OP#5 if you’re struggling to think of a way to ‘take advantage of your downtime’ without looking like a slacker, you might want to consider the old-fashioned standby of pen and paper. If you’re worried about the optics of having non-work related websites on your screen (should you use one), there are lots of things you can be writing unobtrusively; from diaries to bullet journals, blog posts to be typed up later at home, a new novel, a to-do list or even calligraphy practice. If your boss is ok with you working on some personal stuff during your slow times this might be an option. With the added benefit that some journalling techniques and art therapy are recommended for mild depression. (IANAD)
    Get well soon!

    1. valentine*

      And if you’re able, maybe walking 10- to 15-minutes twice a day is something your manager wouldn’t mind.

      I’d be reading or learning new skills.

      1. On Fire*

        +1. I had a few months of significant downtime last year and used that time to teach myself new skills — which have proved invaluable since then and have gotten compliments from the C-suite.

        OP5, you’re still very early into this job. Even given the other background, I would be very hesitant to request part-time, for the sake of optics. Maybe you could observe co-workers or a related team so you get a better understanding of how their work interacts with yours. Maybe there’s a weak spot in your KSAs (knowledge, skills, abilities) relevant to your duties, and you can work on that. Best wishes to you; I know depression makes it hard to self-motivate!

        1. Berms*

          # 5 There may be reasons behind the slowdown unknown to you that makes the company need to maintian its staff. In my first job out of college in the mid 70s, I was one of five people hired to join an existing department to learn how to write insurance policies. There was an incredible backlog of cases from new products being offered. They trained us while we whittled away at the backlog. About 8 weeks in, one of the workers already on staff when I was hired was killed in an accident. A replacement was hired. A year later, more staff was hired to be trained and we kept chipping away at the backlog until it was gone. Sales had slowed down and there was nothing to do but nearly 20 people, including our typists, fully trained. We were all kept on; we could discretely read a book and some of us took some in-house classes. Just as it seemed layoffs might have to happen, a court decision, not in the company’s favor, required that every.single.policy in one of the lines of business had to be amended ASAP. The entire unit spent the next few months on that work during which business pick up again. All that time we were sitting around, the execs knew that a court decision was imminent so would not let us go.

      2. JSPA*

        I’d tell your boss, “it’s bad for my mental and physical health to fritter time. If you perfer to make me part-time, officially, at 30 hours until the pace picks up, that’s fine. But whether we do that or not, if there’s honestly nothing concrete for me to do at my desk, I’m going to take a 45 minute walk, outside, every day, at least once–maybe twice–a day, and record useful ideas on my phone as they come to me. I see this as part of keeping myself fit and engaged for work, and I hope you agree.”

        That’s assuming that more sunshine and a walk would be helpful for your mood and condition(s); adapt as needed.

        1. CM*

          This sounds needlessly adversarial to me. Just go take a walk, don’t make a speech about it.

          In similar situations, I’ve adopted Alison’s approach of viewing work downtime as personal time — if you want to go for a walk, explore careers, write in your journal, etc., go for it. Look at your downtime at work as getting paid to do stuff that will help you in your personal life.

          Only six weeks into a new job, though, I would expect it to be slow. I think asking to go part-time now would make it look like you’re impatient and don’t understand professional norms. I’d wait at least six months before making this request.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            All of this.

            Also, since OP isn’t being asked to pull any extra hours here, I suspect she has gotten into the depression think of “I could tackle these issues if only I didn’t have this one insurmountable obstacle standing in my way.” Where the problem is not actually the quite-surmountable obstacle.

      3. Quill*

        I learned, and forgot, a lot of excel programming for a previous job in my downtime.

        But I also always had a lab notebook to painstakingly lay out charts and tables in.

    2. Elemeno P.*

      My job also has large periods of downtime. That’s how my coworkers and I earned master’s degrees!

    3. LW 5 Here*

      LW 5 here. I posted this below but realize this might be a better spot. Sorry for the repeat. Thanks for the suggestions! I probably left out an important part, which is since I’m at a consulting firm I am subject to billable hours. I’ve been charging A LOT of time to training (with boss’s permission) and if that gets flagged higher up this might make the part-time conversation a little easier. But the billable hours part also makes trying to fill my time hard too. Outside of small tasks to assist other teams, I’ve been journaling, researching other career options, taking short walks, building new skills, researching, reading blogs, learning more about my chronic condition, etc. (many of the things y’all have suggested ;). And I’m charging to training. After reading an older AAM post, now I’m a bit worried about the ethics of all this. I’ve been doing as much work related tasks as I can, but it only fills about 30-50% of my time at best and the rest of the time I just do personal stuff at my desk. And I do have a lot of guilt about that.

      1. WheezyWeasel*

        This sounds very normal for someone 6 weeks into a billable hours position. My first 3-4 months on the job had more than 50% of my time spent on training, gradually going down as I was able to handle more billable tasks that have previously been done by colleagues. Perhaps 6 months in you may start to be considered a ‘full resource’ and need to hit utilization metrics, and then your training percentage goals might hover around 25% or lower, or even stay the same if you are the subject matter expert for other consultants and you are providing training to others. I also think that a good consultant has to spend at least 15% of their time training on new product or features.

        I like to frame a good consultant as we think about firefighters….society pays them to fight fires, learn more about fires, improve their training on how to respond and prevent them. There is some downtime, but we don’t expect firefighters to use their downtime to change out streetlamps because they have ladder trucks, or answer the phone at the public library circulation desk, or use the firefighting water on landscaping. Downtime is built into the equation so that when they are needed, they can respond. You may have downtime at this point in the job, but several weeks or months from now, have very little time to catch up on anything that’s not billable.

  7. mark132*

    #4, a small nitpick, thou is second person singular, you was originally second period plural in middle English. So y’all isn’t the same as thou. It just is a replacement for the last second person plural in English.

      1. mark132*

        I guess so ;-) though middle english did a have a pronoun for second person plural, ‘ye’. Though archaic it is still a word, so me we can start a movement to replace y’all/you guys/etc with ye. So instead of ‘y’all need to get back to work’ rather ‘ye should get back work.”


        1. Ariaflame*

          Not to be confused with the þe olde tea shoppe which people often write as ye olde tea shoppe where the thorn (the thing that looks a *bit* like a y) is actually pronounced ‘th’ not ‘y’

          1. SpellingBee*

            So that’s where it came from! Fascinating, I did not know that. I learned something this morning, thank you. As you can perhaps tell by my screen name, I love this kind of info. :^)

          2. The Boy Out of the Bubble*

            When the thorn character gets converted (I think maybe from ANSI to Unicode? I’m not as up on these details as I should be) it often ends up as “ÿ”.

            No idea what that means, I just thought it was interesting and potentially relevant.

        2. Quickbeam*

          My Quaker grandmother said this, ye as a substitute for a plural you. Singular was thee. Last of her kind (plain speech with Quakers).

      2. Mike*

        No, the Middle English equivalent to y’all was ye (subject form)/you (object form). :) Thou was the standard form in the south going back to the same Proto-Indo-European root as French/Spanish tu, Russian ty, and so on, with ye as the plural. In the northern dialects, tu was lost by 1300 or so, going by contemporary documents from York, as you had served as a polite singular (just like vous) that was extended to all cases except very close intimacy. Throughout the later Middle Ages, there was a steady flow of migrants from the Midlands, who used you instead of thou, into London, which in the long run ended up making you the standard in London English, and thus in English.

        I should add that while most people don’t mind y’all (I’m from Texas and use you for singular and y’all for plural), English teachers do. Especially elementary English teachers in training. Like the ones I taught in linguistics classes who complained on the student evaluation forms that I should not be allowed to teach because I used bad English like y’all. As one of them wrote, “He talks bad.” To which I just thought, “At least I write well.” After my first evaluations, where these future teachers of the best and brightest also complained about how I gave extra information not needed on the tests and all that, my departmental chair told me at a party, “I saw your evaluations. They were scorchers! If we get any more evaluations like that…” long pause… “we might just have to give you tenure.”

        1. Ariaflame*

          They seriously followed a verb with an adjective rather than an adverb? In criticising someone else’s English?

          1. Clisby*

            My son is taking a dual enrollment English class (meaning it counts for both high school and college credit). On the first day of class, the teacher gave them a long lecture about how important spelling was and how she counted off for errors. Then, to demonstrate proper citation, she showed them an example of *her own* academic writing where she misspelled Barack Obama’s first name.

              1. Clisby*

                No – it was Barak. Barak is a legit name – it just wasn’t the name of our 2-term president.

        2. Mary*

          >>In the northern dialects, tu was lost by 1300 or so, going by contemporary documents from York, as you had served as a polite singular (just like vous) that was extended to all cases except very close intimacy

          How does this square with Yorkshire dialect “tha” up to the present day? I’ve been called “tha” in Leeds in the last ten years!

        3. mrs__peel*

          Linguists and K-12 English teachers are natural enemies! (In my experience at least, as someone with an undergrad degree in linguistics).

      3. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        “Thou” is always singular. “Thou all” makes as much sense as “she all”.

        It’s interesting to me as a linguist to observe that English used to have multiple second person forms (thou, thee, ye, you) and ditched almost all of them, just as we ditched most verb endings and case marking and so on. But now we’re constantly struggling to reverse engineer some of the useful functions, ending up with e.g. “y’all”, but hand-wringing about their validity.

        Personally I wouldn’t commit “y’all” to writing, but I can see lots of situations where it would be useful in speech.

    1. DoomCarrot*

      Oh good. I just came here to nitpick that, and someone’s already done it for me.

      I wish people would learn to conjugate using “thou”, so much stuff you read is cringe-worthy. Trying to sound old and failing.

      Also, the “-eth” ending is third-person. Stop it with the “you goeth”, internet!

      1. AnonForReasons*

        So y’all are saying it would be more correct to write: “DoomCarrot goeth mad from the cringe-worthy stuff people are writing on the Internet!”

    2. Hornswoggler*

      Thank you for this pedantry thread, which is lovely.

      I have to say though that ‘ye’, along with ‘thou’ and the archaic verb forms such as ‘she doth’ was used right up into the mid-1800s and even beyond, especially in religious settings, so it is actually Modern English. It’s found throughout Victorian hymn-writing and in quite a lot of poetry. I guess that’s down to the continued use of the King James Bible, which of course dates from the early 1700s.

      Also, I still call my dog thou and thee, from time to time.

        1. mark132*

          it was during the same time as Shakespeare. And comparing the KJV to Shakespeare you can get the idea that the translators were attempting to sound formal by using even then somewhat older forms.

    3. Rebecca*

      So, while yinz battle back and forth about the thou’s and ye’s, I’m going to red up my desk :) :)

        1. Rebecca*

          LOL love it! I’m right in the middle of PA, so we’re in the part where you have to choose between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia (look it up, it’s a PA rule!), so I fall on the Pittsburgh side of things. And keep my PA Dutch-speak at the same time. And I prefer “yinz” to “youse” and also use “y’all” as well.

      1. Syfygeek*

        In the mountains of NC, you’ins is the replacement for y’all. I wonder if there’s a connection between yinz and you’ins (this is 2 syllables)

    4. Yankee living in the South*

      When I moved to the South many years ago my neighbors were quick to teach me that “y’all” is singular. If you want a plural, it’s “all y’all.”

      1. PhyllisB*

        Yankee, you are correct. You win the Southern internet today. Wish to come talk to my NJ folks?

        1. Sorrischian*

          I’m not sure that’s true everywhere, even in the South – everyone I know in Arkansas uses ‘y’all’ for plural and ‘all y’all’ for, well, making sure that you know it’s for all of y’all and not just some.

        2. Dust Bunny*

          (I’m in Texas) not necessarily. Single person or small group = y’all is fine. “All y’all” is an escalation–you’re either emphasizing that you’re addressing EVERYONE in a small group or you’re including a bigger group.

      2. Clisby*

        No, no, no! Y’all is plural. Using it as a singular doesn’t even make sense. It would be like substituting “he all” for “he.” “All y’all” also is plural – it just has a slightly different connotation.

      3. Clisby*

        Maybe your southern neighbors were pulling your leg. Using “y’all” as a singular always sounds to me like the person is faking southern usage.

        1. Jules the 3rd*


          I can not think of a time I’ve heard a native Southerner use y’all as a singular, except as an example of incorrect usage.

      4. Sylvan*

        “Y’all” is a contraction of “you all,” describing a group of people. “All y’all” is used to emphasize. “No, really, EVERYONE in this group.”

      5. Rusty Shackelford*

        Your neighbors were playing a mean prank on you. Y’all is plural. It’s a contraction of you all. Why would anyone call one person “you all?”

        All y’all simply refers to a greater number of people, or is more inclusive/complete.

        “Y’all need to be more accurate on your time sheets.” = A few of you are messing up.
        “All y’all need to be more accurate on your time sheets.” = Most or all of you are messing up.

        1. pentamom*

          I think y’all isn’t actually singular, but can be used in instances where the audience could be singular or plural, much as “they” is often used in that situation for the third person. I believe that’s where the confusion lies. All y’all is used, as others have said, to emphasize the inclusion of everyone present.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            This analogy doesn’t work for me. They is used as singular and plural because there is no third person term, like you, that applies to both. But since I can use you when speaking to either a singular or plural audience, there’s no reason to twist y’all into that use.

          2. Yorick*

            No, in all my years living in Alabama, Tennessee, Louisiana, and Arkansas, I have never heard “y’all” being used as a replacement for the singular “you” (except in TV or something to make Southerners sound dumb). “Y’all” is a plural word.

        2. DJ*

          Yup, this is how I use them. I think the only time I use “y’all” when talking to a single person is if I’m referring to them and whatever group they’re a part of. For example I might say “How have y’all been?” to my friend when I see her, but I use “y’all” to imply I’m asking about her and her family, not just her alone.

      6. Yorick*

        NOOOOOOOOO. “Y’all” is plural. We do say “you” when talking to one person. “All y’all” is to emphasize all the people in the group, similar to saying “each of you.”

        1. Clisby*

          The only case I can think of where it would be correct to use “y’all” in speaking to one person is when it clearly applies to more than the person being directly addressed. For example, if I call up a restaurant and say, “How late are y’all open?” I’m speaking to only one person but I clearly mean the whole restaurant staff. Or if a friend asks me, “Y’all want to come to our cookout on Saturday?” she isn’t asking if *I* want to come. She’s asking if my husband and I (and possibly our son) want to come.

          1. Yorick*

            Sure, you can definitely use “y’all” during a conversation with one person, but it’s still being used as a pronoun that corresponds to a group of people.

      7. Seven If You Count Bad John*

        Interesting. And when you overheard them addressing one another in the singular, did you hear them calling each other “y’all”, or “you”?

  8. Niktike*

    OP 5: Maybe check and see if your company has some skills training options? Or see if your boss would be ok with you taking an online class or two on the clock? If you hate your field, and it sounds like you do, then maybe it’s time to switch fields. If your job is willing to let you train up the skills you’d need to do that while also giving you a paycheck, that sounds kind of ideal actually.

    1. Lynn Whitehat*

      Yeah. I do a lot of political activism in my free time. I’m very aware of current events. Sometimes I help shape them! But I never want to talk about it at work. I never want to endanger my good job that is flexible enough to make my activism possible. Sometimes when politics really gets crazy, my nice sane apolitical workplace is my refuge. If we worked together, you might think I’m not up on things. I would not appreciate it if you shoved these papers in my face, like obviously you’re the only one around here who pays the slightest attention.

      Action is the antidote to despair. Find other people as passionate as you are, not at work, and start working for the world you want to live in. You too can be sick of the subject and ready to focus on work by the time you walk in the door on Monday.

      1. MK*

        “ like obviously you’re the only one around here who pays the slightest attention.”

        Yes, on top of the other problems with sending the docs out, it is also patronizing.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        During one unfolding news story last year my husband came into the kitchen and flipped on the radio. It started in on the latest twists in this story. In unison, visiting adult daughter and I said “Oh God turn it off.”

        We were up to date on the story. Brimful and twitchy and we really wanted not to re-immerse in it for a while. It would be wrong for our workplaces to assume that not discussing the story meant we must not have seen the correct documents about it.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Truth. So on top of problematic geographic assumptions, OP’s husband’s position is also going to have problematic racial connotations.

    2. Lurker*

      That’s the context I use it in; like “all y’all better …” I wouldn’t use y’all (the AAVE or southern version) in a work email though. Everyone, all, everybody are my go-to’s for group salutations.

    3. The Original K.*

      Yeah, I’m a lifelong urban northeasterner and I’m Black and I say y’all all the time. The majority of other Black people I know does the same. (I use “all” in work emails though because my business writing tendencies to be formal, but I say “y’all” aloud at work.)

  9. Rich*

    LW#1, I sympathize with your excitement and frustration trying to get a job with a hard-to-break-into field or company. I have a suggestion and perspective which may (or may not) be helpful.

    I learned a tough lesson earlier in my career that it’s not good to get too fixated on individual jobs or individual goals as targets for your future (near or far). If my goal is to be the first chair timpani in the Boston Philharmonic, there’s exactly one job in the world that can satisfy that. It leaves me only one way to be successful and countless ways to fail. By over-specifying, you make it a lot harder to reach a goal that’s the _nature_ of what you want (is the LA Symphony Orchestra good enough? What about Chicago — now I have 3x as many options). Locking in on a particular position or a particular job posting drastically narrows your chance for ultimate success. Go for the job, want the job, but don’t fixate on that job over the more broadly defined goal. Act specifically but plan broadly because opportunities come from lots of places.

    Second, with hard-to-break-into companies and fields, it generally pays incredible dividends to be connected to people there (by relationships or being noticed in a positive way) beforehand. I’m sure you know this, but “show up uninvited,” sounds like you don’t necessarily believe in it. Networking is important, and can do the job you’re hoping that just showing up will do, but it takes time. Similarly, a lot of writing jobs are in industries that support contests and showcases, but other industries have events, conferences, and classes where you can show up and show your stuff. I’ve received more than one job offer while I was in a class from someone who was also an attendee of that class. Those are professional venues that allow you to show up and show you’re worthwhile. That kind of showing up takes time, but it’s the kind of showing up that works in the end.

    1. Dan*

      Yup. My industry has four employers who are household names to the average Joe. I went to grad school with the reasonable hope of getting a job with one of the big names. I ended up getting an interview for Dream Job, but after interviewing, realizing I was going to not be happy and would quit at the first opportunity. So much for “Dream Job.”

      What I didn’t know is that there are far more more positions available to someone with my background and interests, but at smaller companies that most normal people have never heard of. I ended up at one of those “other” companies, and dare I say it, I’m probably happier here than I would be at Household Name.

    2. valentine*

      If my goal is to be the first chair timpani in the Boston Philharmonic, there’s exactly one job in the world that can satisfy that.
      OP1, you might want to read the letter from the person who wants to break into theater. Your position isn’t as fraught as theirs, but, like them, you’re focused on your enthusiasm and certainty of your potential, versus the work. It sounds like the industry will want you to have more official professional experience, and if you build that, you’ll also be building a better foundation.

      1. EPLawyer*

        Building a foundation is going to make you much more employable than gumption every time.

        This is a company that is very picky about who they hire. Right now, they are looking to hire a professional writer. You are not really there yet. Rather than hyper-focusing on this job, concentrate on building your skills. Write professionally. Look out for legitimate contests, and places to submit your work. Build up your resume. That way the next time a writing job comes open, you can show the background they are aiming for.

        1. Publius*

          “Building a foundation is going to make you much more employable than gumption every time”

          This is a false tradeoff. People with a solid foundation can still worm their way in with that much-decried “gumption”.

          For the record, I wouldn’t recommend OP show up at the company’s office unannounced — that will come off as out-of-touch or creepy. But there might be ways to network your way into the organization.

          1. Colette*

            Based on the OP’s own description, it doesn’t sound like she has a competitive background for this job. Her time would be well spent on building a way to demonstrate that she has the skills as EPLawyer has suggested. Networking is a good idea, but won’t help if she doesn’t have the right experience.

    3. Snorkmaiden*

      This is such a great comment.

      Also, OP, you already did ask directly for an interview – you did that by applying for the job. A job application is a request to be interviewed.

      I know it’s tempting to believe you could have more control, more influence, more of a chance to get what you want by simply being bold. In reality, what you describe is going to harm your chances. It will set off alarm bells – as well as meeting deadlines and following instructions, writers generally have to be able to deal with a range of professional contacts and/or members of the public and to build good relationships. Interpersonal skills matter. If you show up to demand an interview, it doesn’t say: I am a bold and keen person who should get an interview. It says: I am a risky prospect who can’t be trusted not to aggravate people. And that’s not what you want to say.

      With writing, you can behave for the world you want to be in or the world you actually are in. Acting on your fantasy – that this will make you bold and win this company over – will give you some relief in the short term by giving you a false sense of control over the situation. But it will lead to disappointment. Respecting the process and waiting will be harder to do, and requires realism and impulse control, but it’s more likely to bring you the result you actually want.

      It’s normal to want instant relief from difficult feelings. But this isn’t how you get it. You have to wait now. Good luck!

      1. TootsNYC*

        Our OP #1 wrote:

        I would love to take more direct control of the situation, but I am not sure how.

        This is the hard thing.
        In job hunting (and in dating)–you have no direct control.
        That’s because you cannot control the other person.

        And in both situations, whoever wants the least, “wins.”

        And it is SO HARD to set down that desire to control the job hunt. In school, you can control what classes you take. Not that it always works the way you want it, but if you really want to take Management 201, you can.

        You don’t have control. It’s important to get more comfortable with that.

        One upside: if you don’t get the job, it’s not because you didn’t do something; other people have influence on the outcome, and since you can’t control that, there’s no blame attached to you.

    4. prismo*

      Great comment! I work as a professional writer and editor, and I’ve hired interns and entry-level people in these jobs, and just want to second everything you’ve said.

      I’ll also add that if you want to be a writer, you need clips. Writing is a trade, and people hiring want to see you know that trade. Learn to pitch (there are loads of resources/tips online) and pitch ideas to websites with the aim of getting a few things published at decent outlets.

      As far as networking goes, try looking for writers’ groups that specifically focus on the area of writing you want to go into and/or writers in your geographical area (though I find the second one less important). I’m personally a member of a great Facebook group, several email listservs, and a few groups with in-person meetups all dedicated to my niche area of writing, and they are invaluable resources. Good luck!

      1. pamplemousse*

        I’m an editor by profession and I hire writers and interns.

        If LW #1 had written these 2 sentences — “I believe that the job would be perfect for me, but I am also a big fan of the company. I have little “official” experience with writing in a professional capacity, though I have been developing my writing for a while and even published one of my short stories on Kindle recently” — in a cover letter, I would have clicked “reject” before reading another word. I believe in giving people chances, but this sets every red flag flying and alarm bell ringing. It’s a very familiar mix of ignorance and overconfidence that I see a lot hiring in my field.

        1. “I believe this job would be perfect for me” — I don’t love phrasing like that because it makes it all about you, rather than what you’d bring to the company, but the main problem is that everything that follows it demonstrates that you are NOT a perfect candidate for this job.
        2. “I have little ‘official’ experience with writing in a professional capacity” — This is a big problem! You might be an OK candidate for a job without official experience, but you’re not a perfect one.
        3. “I have been developing my writing for awhile” — What does this mean? It makes it sound like you’re writing a few pages in a journal every day.
        4. “Even published one of my short stories on Kindle recently”: Is the job for a short story writer? Because if it’s not, this isn’t really a relevant data point. Plus Kindle is a self-publishing platform. I don’t want to take away from the achievement of writing and publishing a short story, but including this kind of thing actually underlines how little you know about the industry.

        More broadly, what I take away from these 2 sentences is that you don’t think you actually need prior experience or professional background in order to do this job. That’s kind of insulting to the people who would hire you, who are professionals who do this!

        If you want a writing job, what you should do is do the kind of writing that the job requires as much as you can, with as many readers as possible. Prismo’s tips on pitching and writing are great. I’d add blogging or writing on Medium if you can’t get anyone to publish yet.

        But don’t show up with no relevant professional experience and claim that you’re a perfect fit for the job. It makes you look out of touch and subtly insults the people who’d be hiring you.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      Agree with this, and to add: It’s critical as a writer to be able to follow directions. If hired, the company will expect you to be able to stick within the parameters of an assignment, not fly outside them demonstrating your outside the box creativity and whimsy and disruption. (See the letter from the writer who thought everything should be written like Buzzfeed.)

  10. Flash Bristow*

    As a Brit I would cringe to hear y’all (and I’ve worked in a few ISPs with American branches). It’s interesting to hear the views from other… if we’re being colloquial / informal, may I say Yanks? … but just wanted to make you aware that it might be received differently on this island, and perhaps other areas too. Just a thought!

      1. Gaia*

        Can confirm. As a Yank who spent 6 months living in Cambridge, I was mocked openly and regularly for y’all more than any other Americanism.

    1. Gaia*

      I refer to myself as a Yank but be careful: a Southerner might not appreciate being called a Yank.

      1. Iron Chef Boyardee*

        There are lots of people up North who also aren’t much enamored with Yankees. But the Yankees I have in mind may not be the same Yankees you’re referring to. (If you know what LGM and LFGM mean, you’ll understand.)

      2. Aussie*

        Better or worse than Seppo – being the commonly used rhyming slang in Australia?*

        *I of course joke, and have never used this outside of gentle ribbing with mates.

        1. Sylvan*

          Google says this comes from “septic tank” rhyming with “Yank.” LMAO. Y’all keep that one. It’s kind of incredible.

      3. T3k*

        Oh man would that start a family brawl :p

        In all seriousness, I don’t even identify myself as a typical Southerner (I just grew up in the region but don’t have much in common otherwise) but really don’t like it when all Americans are referred to as Yankee. I guess in my head it only stands for people from the northeastern part of the US and is overly generic.

    2. I heart Paul Buchman*

      Yes, I don’t know why but y’all seems to be a phrase that is commonly (I feel unfairly) mocked in my non-us country. I think the connotation is Dolly Parton – like country and western, maybe a bit dated?? That’s ok, there are phrases commonly used here that Americans find hilarious but I think it is good to know how things are perceived if you have an international audience. It is ok to lean in to it though if that’s what you want to do.

      1. Veronica*

        If y’all are mocking Dolly Parton and her culture, y’all are showing yourselves to be the clueless ones. ;)

    3. Working in J-world*

      Don’t call anyone a Yankee around someone from Japan! Not that the opportunity would come up very often, lol. It’s a (slightly dated) loanword that means “delinquent” or “thug” and apparently partially came from Americans loitering and causing trouble in the 70s-80s in Osaka. Always leaving good impressions, we are…

    4. NewHerePleaseBeNice*

      I’m a Brit working with US teams (in NY and NC) and I’m used to getting on a conference call and being greeted by ‘How y’all doing?’ but if one of my British colleagues used it in return I’d be horrified :)

      1. MsSolo*

        I think if a Brit used it it would feel appropriative – like, we’re not talking serious cultural appropriation here, but it is a deliberate usage of a colloquialism from outside of our dialect, and though there are a variety of reasons you might choose to do that not all of the connotations are positive, and the most likely result is Americans are going to think you’re mocking them and Brits are going to think you’re about to invite them to an American-themed event.

      2. Whoop*

        I’m also a Brit working with US teams, and one of my colleagues is from Alabama. When he uses “y’all” is sounds absolutely natural (and I find it charming), but it would sound absolutely bizarre and forced coming from me.

        1. Asenath*

          Yeah. I’m in Canada; I don’t use “y’all” and never hear it locally. It sounds to me like an American term, which it is. If I heard it from an American, I wouldn’t think twice about it – I wouldn’t see it as inappropriate or excessively informal; merely different, like any slightly different accent or dialect. I know what it means, it’s not so different as to be hard to understand, but it would sound really odd coming from a local.

          1. BennyJets*

            Seconded. Though I do hear it locally in Alberta and Saskatchewan. But lots of folks there have worked in oil and gas in the States, so makes sense.

          2. Cedarthea*

            I’m a dual American/Canadian and lived in Texas as a teen and for graduate school. I’ve been back in Ontario for nearly a decade and y’all slips out of my mouth all the time. I have a solid Ontario accent but I do pronounce lots of things like I learned them when I lived in that place.

            So no one has ever mocked me for it, but I think I’ve always used it naturally which helps.

      1. Llamalawyer*

        Mookie- native Pittsburgher here. Never use the term except in jest or to refer to someone as a yinzer. I’m assuming that you are joking, but in case you’re not, I don’t think that I’ve ever heard a fellow professional use “yinz” in normal conversation. It would be absolutely unprofessional (and as irritating as nails on a chalkboard)

      2. A. Ham*

        I have lived in Pittsburgh for 4+ years, and while I have definitely heard “yinz” said in a joking or mocking manner many times, it took almost 3 years before I heard it said genuinely by someone (but no, it was not in a professional setting.

    5. tgirl*

      As an Irish person who worked in the US for a while, I love hearing y’all. Just another opinion.

      Similarly, where I’m from ye is commonly used for the second person plural. It’s fine in speech, but looks rather odd in writing.

    6. Zircon*

      I’m a health professional in New Zealand, and I think “y’all” would be met with anything from frowns to outright horror in any professional setting. “Yous” is often a colloquial term used to cover the same thing, and is definitely not part of professional speech.

    7. tamarack and fireweed*

      Well, the kind of Americans who would naturally say y’all would specifically be NOT Yankees. Yanks is very mildly derogatory, unlike y’all, so that’s not a god tat for the tit.

      I used to work in a pretty international team, American company, European main office in London. Our main European sysadmin was Irish and on conference calls you’d hear the slight jolt he gave our American counterparts when he blithely announced that a server is fucked. Add a Northern English account manager who liked to address co-workers as “me duck” in a friendly way, and some y’alls aren’t standing out that much any more.

      1. Isabel C Kunkle*

        Hee! I spent a month near Birmingham recently, and getting used to casual “my darling” or “my love,” was fascinating.

    8. Monican*

      I can understand that it could be jarring to hear a word you don’t hear often, but I don’t understand why it would make you cringe? That seems like a condescending response— like you think the English that you speak is better than the English other people speak. Considering there are probably thousands of English dialects and accents all over the world and that variations in the English language are often influenced by ethnicity and culture, I recommend being a little more open-minded about hearing words that you are not used to.

      1. Alice*

        I think it’s useful for OP to know that there are in fact people who will have negative reactions to someone using y’all.

        1. Monican*

          When those negative reactions are based on prejudice towards certain types of Americans, they’re not worth considering. 

          1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

            This. I’m not from a part of the US that generally uses y’all but I do say it occasionally in informal circumstances. My eyes would roll all the way out of my head if I heard that one of my British colleagues here were cringing when I say it. That response seems very snobbish, prejudiced, and overly precious about “correct” language. In fact I find it a bit offensive that someone would have such a reaction about a perfectly legitimate English dialect. Do you cringe when a colleague pronounces “thing” as “ting”, or asks you to “do the needful”? Those are also legitimate variations, commonly heard in the UK.

        2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          Well no sh*t.

          As someone with a speech impediment, I’ll confirm that people love to feel better than others and mock or laugh at differences in speech. That doesn’t need to be confirmed.

        3. juliebulie*

          It’s safe to assume that no matter which words you use, someone will have a negative reaction to it. If you spend too much time worrying about that you’ll never get to say anything.

      2. Dahlia*

        Honestly considering y’all is very common in AAVE… it’s maybe not the best optics to say it makes you cringe.

    9. Dust Bunny*

      Outside of the US = All Americans are Yankees
      South and Southwest = anyone from the northern half of the US is a Yankee
      Northern half of the US = anyone from the Midwest and north and east of that is a Yankee
      Midwest = Anyone from the general Northeast is a Yankee
      Northeast = anyone from New England is a Yankee
      I’m not sure who, if anyone, New Englanders consider Yankees, though.

      1. Rugby*

        To New Englanders, a Yankee is a Vermonter. And in Vermont, a Yankee is somebody who eats pie for breakfast.

        1. President Porpoise*

          Dang, I somehow became a southwestern Yankee. But I don’t say y’all, so maybe I deserve it.

          And pie is the perfect breakfast.

      2. Librarian1*

        lol! Agreed. i’m from the midwest and I do not consider myself a Yankee. That’s for people in Philadelphia and northeast of there.

    10. blackcat*

      As mentioned above, among white people, y’all is more likely to come out of the mouths of southerners… who will generally not respond well to any variation on Yanks/Yankee.

      I think most people are aware of the differences in English dialects among the different English speaking countries. I once spent a good 15 minutes baffling a store employee in NZ when I asked if they had coolers… until she went “Oh, you mean a chilly-bin!” Indeed, a bin to keep things chilly will get the job done. I actually think that English overall tends to have fewer differences between regional dialects than, say, Spanish or Arabic, but they can still be significant.

      1. TL -*

        Oh god, one time time I got into a verbal merry go round with a clerk in Australian because I ordered, “a ticket, a soda, a water, and candy”

        she kept on repeating it as “ticket, soda, water, and candy,”

        To which I’d reply, “and a water.”
        (In parts of rural Texas/USA, sodas are called soda-waters.)

        We did that 3 times before she gave up and pointed to each component of my order while enunciating it *very* clearly.

      2. ...*

        I think he was saying that saying ya’ll makes you sound like a Yankee. I’ve never in my life heard of addressing a room as “Hello, Yankees!”

    11. Onyx*

      As an American, I wouldn’t have any issue hearing “Yanks” as a reference to Americans unless it was paired with some other context indicating it was being used as a derogatory term.

      I’m really baffled by the comparison, though. What meaning do you assign to “y’all” that leads you to choose “Yanks” as an analogy?

      To me (an American from the Deep South where “y’all” is in common usage), “y’all” is simply a plural form of “you” and applies equally to any group the speaker is addressing regardless of genders, nationalities, etc. “Yanks” is a slang term for a nationality (and one, in my experience, not used by those actually *of* that nationality). Saying, “If you can say ‘y’all,’ can I say ‘Yanks’?” makes me wonder if you’re reading some sort of “tribal” or “us vs. them” connotation into “y’all” that just isn’t part of the American usage. (It reads to me as similar to, e.g., “If you can say ‘dude,’ can I say ‘Brit’?” which comes across as a non-sequitur to me, since they’re terms used for non-analogous groups.)

    12. Batgirl*

      Well, I’m a Brit who loves it (though I couldn’t pull it off myself). I don’t think it has much to do with the isle under your feet and more to do with the attitudes of individuals and circles. Those who value prescriptive grammar, familiar conventions and similarity of speech probably won’t be keen. Those who value regional and national differences, or who would appreciate an elegant grammatical solution they don’t have themselves would be charmed. I think it probably boils down to the formality and conservatism of your field.

    13. Beth*

      I’m a Yank living in the US, and I try not to cringe when I hear “y’all”. I haven’t managed to free it from a bad mental space.

      I absolutely would NOT use it in a professional context unless I had already observed it in general use in a given work envirnment.

  11. Dan*


    This ship has sailed, no matter how it turns out. So the next question for the advice giving crowd is how to improve your “chances” for next time.

    I was at tech meetup a year or two ago, and I forget the general topic at this point, but the speaker had a piece of advice that I found vastly underrated. His advice: Be good at *two* things. He had a list of like 8 different was to be good at tech, and pretty much the whole world is good at any one thing. So if that’s all you’ve got, whether or not you get called for an interview is the luck of the draw. He then said that very few people are good at *two* of those things, so if you can demonstrate that in your application materials and/or on the job, you’ll have significantly better chances of career success.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      Not native Texan, but I’ve lived here 3/4 of my life. I wouldn’t use it in a few very formal/academic settings, but in probably 98% of my life it would be fine.

    2. Cedarthea*

      I’m not a native Texan, but when we naturalized the judge said “I want y’all to remember, you are Texan first and American second.”

      I take y’all with me wherever I go, currently in Ontario and using it without shame.

      1. ManagerInNameOnly*

        Native Texan here. The judge is correct!
        Regarding the OP’s letter, at my office we say y’all all day every day without even thinking about it, no matter to whom we are speaking. But we don’t use it in written communication, and I’m not sure why. I just can’t make myself type y’all in a business email. Fear of my English teacher’s wrath, I suppose!

    3. Nerdgal*

      Also a yankee born but long time resident of Texas.
      Want to point out that around here, the plural of “y’all” is “all y’all!”

  12. Gaia*

    I use y’all or folks to open emails because they are plural and gender neutral. Sometimes I’ll use “everybody” but that feels too formal for most of my emails.

    1. Zaphod Beeblebrox*

      I often use folks as a gender neutral plural, although I’m aware that it can sound a bit…well…folksy.

      1. Akcipitrokulo*

        I use folks informally, everyone formally (usually). I see guys as gender neutral, but – here’s the important bit – not everyone does, and upsetting people because *I* see it one way is not reasonable.

        “Y’all” in an email would make me look at it a bit oddly – but from UK so may be OK in US.

      2. Filosofickle*

        I don’t love the folksiness of ‘folks’ — it always sounds a little wrong to my ears– yet I use it fairly often. I’m getting used to it! I’m more likely to say Hi Folks but write Hi Team or Hello All. Y’all falls into the “speaking only” side for me. Sometimes it’s the perfect word but it feels affected for me to put it in writing since I have no ties to the south.

        It is especially handy when I’m writing about a particular population and “people” feels too formal or there’s not a more specific term that feels appropriate.

        1. Filosofickle*

          Lol, unclear 2nd paragraph. That explains my use of folks, not y’all. I have got to learn to reread before I post.

  13. Fortitude Jones*

    OP #1

    I have little “official” experience with writing in a professional capacity, though I have been developing my writing for a while and even published one of my short stories on Kindle recently.

    As a writer who struggled for years to get a high-level writing job in Corporate America despite being professionally published in literary magazines/journals and winning awards for my work, I think you need to spend more time trying to get professional experience as opposed to obsessing over this one job that you are unlikely to get. The market for writers is tough, and everyone wants to work in the entertainment industry, which is notoriously hard to break into unless you know someone. Start freelancing if you can, get some bylines and credits to your name, build up your portfolio, and go to stage readings and workshops to have your original works accessed and refined. Those are also great places to network for people who want to break into the industry (I was in it for awhile on the theater side and then left).

    Right now, I don’t think there’s anything else you can do to get this particular company’s attention outside of what you already did (submitting your application). If they like your work, they’ll call you. If not, go back to the drawing board and get more material for your portfolio. Self-publishing one story on Kindle isn’t usually enough to put you over candidates who have been traditionally published for example (and I’ve done both, so I’m not knocking the Kindle thing). Keep writing, keep submitting stories to publishers and blogs, and try not to think of every job you apply to as The One. Good luck, and I hope you eventually land something you’re equally excited about if this job doesn’t come through.

    1. MissGirl*

      A very thought out response and what I came to say. Unfortunately, knowing how competitive this field is I don’t think the OP is going to get this job and showing up isn’t going to change that. OP needs to get more bylines by freelancing and publishing articles where there is a gate keeper.

      I was turned down from a writing internship for not having enough experience compared to the competition. That was after two years of writing for the university paper and other local places.

    2. Emily*

      Yes, yes, yes. I hire writers and I really want to see actual, published work (not self-published). When I was starting out in my field, I found a couple local nonprofits who needed volunteers and built my portfolio that way.

  14. Longtime Lurker*

    #1. You’re setting yourself up for disappointment if you hang all your hopes one one particular “dream company” or “dream job.” Maybe look for a dream job “type.”

    #2. Don’t do it. Personally, I work in a place where everybody seems to be enamored of the political party opposite my preferred one. I wanted to throw myself out a window during the 2016 elections because I was sick of hearing about it. Please don’t bring it into the workplace.

  15. valentine*

    OP3: Were it not for Fergus’ struggle with detail and follow-through, I would have reported, “He’ll get there,” and been prepared to elaborate. As those are square one for me, I would be concerned he shouldn’t have been promoted.

  16. KR*

    On the y’all, y’all. I work in a company based in a major city in the American south. I never used to say y’all before I started working here. Now I say it a lot. Everyone at my work does except execs (and they probably use it too, just whenever I hear from them it’s a prepared video or letter, not normal speak). It’s fine to say it.

    1. Ryan Howard’s White Suit*

      Hahahahaha, y’all does that to people. I worked in DC with a woman who’d just moved from Minnesota after college and she picked up y’all from me. Fourteen years later it’s firmly in her vocabulary. Working in reproductive health, it’s a REALLY handy catch all.

      Interestingly, my husband interviewed for a job in Philadelphia and was told one of the reasons he didn’t get it was his lack of gravitas—which basically came down to his use of y’all (instead of youall or you guys?).

      1. SamC*

        I’d put that down to odd personal preferences rather than the word “y’all” – Philly is somewhat a border town between North and South, so while “you guys” is prevalent, we do hear “y’all” a lot, and as a youngin’ from the area, I sprinkle my speech with it from time to time.

        1. Fortitude Jones*

          Yup. I grew up right outside of Philly (and my mom was born and raised there) – y’all is a thing with us, too.

  17. Morning Flowers*

    I’m from Texas and no one bats an eye at y’all, but I’ve even heard *Canadians* unironically use it. I suspect it’s a lot less regional and a lot less stigmatized than it used to be, at least in North America!

    1. AGD*

      Canadian sociolinguist here. I haven’t run the numbers, but for what it’s worth, I have precisely the same impression on both counts and I’m hoping to see new research exploring this hypothesis!

      1. Lizzy May*

        I’m just a regular Canadian but I can confirm that I use “y’all.” People make fun of me for it sometimes but it’s useful and I grew up on country music so I’ve heard it all my life. I don’t use it in professional writing, but I have said it at work.

    2. BennyJets*

      I’m betting you’re meeting mostly Albertans and Saskatchewaners. Out “East” (i.e. central Canada) there are very very few y’all’s to be heard. (Autocorrect added the extra apostrophe to y’all’s. Seems unlikely to be correct but, honestly, I have no idea)

        1. Pommette!*

          Came here to say this!
          I’m in Ontario and have heard some ya’lls recently. Some people have very consciously adopted the term in the last couple of years, in what I think is an effort to fill the English language’s second person pronoun gap in an informal and inclusive way. I see the point. But as someone with roots out East, I can’t see myself ever adopting ya’ll. My heart is already taken by another second person plural: youse!

      1. A teacher*

        Interesting. I’m from Calgary and never heard y’all growing up. Some people did say ‘youse’, though. But I haven’t lived there in a decade and a half, so maybe things have changed.

        1. BennyJets*

          Haha we moved away at the same time. I really think my exposure was due to the oil and gas industry influence. One of the groups I volunteered with attracted lots of petroleum engineers.

      2. Morning Flowers*

        British Columbians, actually! (Though a few are Albertan transplants.) So definitely the western part of Canada. :-)

      3. Llama Face!*

        As someone from that part of Canada (but formerly from farther west) I can confirm that y’all is occasionally used in the prairie provinces. It still feels like the person is using it for emphasis, though: like they’re trying to come across as extra casual and folksy. It doesn’t really get used in BC as far as I’ve experienced. I have only heard it spoken and never seen it written down. Somehow I feel like it would seem more jarring if it were written down, especially in professional correspondence.

        With all that said, I wouldn’t judge and would be glad to see a fun gender neutral term like this become popular in the workplace. I still haven’t convinced my colleagues or family to stop using “girls” for a group of adult women. :(

      4. Dahlia*

        I’m from Saskatchewan, lived in Ontario for 10 years, and this is in line with my experience, yeah lol.

  18. TGOTAL*

    #2, every single person who wants to read the whistleblower complaint can find it online in less than 10 seconds. Just because your coworkers aren’t discussing it with you doesn’t mean they are ignorant of its contents.

    You don’t get to force your interests upon your coworkers. Back off.

    [NB: the country is called Ukraine – there’s no “the” in the name.]

    1. Axel*

      I’m glad someone else pointed out the country name thing – not 100% related but if you want to stay current with this sort of thing and this event in particular, that’s a pretty important wording thing to get right. It’s Ukraine.

      Also seconding (thirding?) what Alison and TGOTAL said. You don’t get to decide what level of political engagement your coworkers can cope with or just want to have, and just because they haven’t said anything doesn’t mean they don’t know. Honestly odds are they do, they’re just not bringing it up at work for a host of pretty good reasons.

      1. Tinuviel*

        Saving y’all a quick google:
        ‘“Ukraine is a country,” says William Taylor, who served as the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine from 2006 to 2009. “The Ukraine is the way the Russians referred to that part of the country during Soviet times … Now that it is a country, a nation, and a recognized state, it is just Ukraine. And it is incorrect to refer to the Ukraine, even though a lot of people do it.”’

        OP maybe you need to reread those reports if you want to be truly informed! /s

        1. Retired Accountant*

          I was once speaking with a woman from Ukraine, and she mentioned this was one of her pet peeves; “Why do Americans insist on saying ‘The Ukraine’?” I said I thought it was because of the Olympics, where you would hear “The Ukraine” dozens of times a day. Old habits die hard.

  19. TheKatie*

    Related to LW 4’s query, what is the stance on “youse”? Professional or no?

    For context, I’m in Australia.

    1. Everdene*

      Not professional. At all.

      (Conversationally it can just about be ok but it should never be written down.)

    2. Jen Erik*

      N. Ireland, and no. But I did overhear a dad on a train taking strong objection to his son using ‘you’ instead of ‘youse’ – I hadn’t realised before that that for some speakers ‘youse’ is the only correct word.

    3. WS*

      My water aerobics instructor uses it constantly! So I guess professional in the pool, not so much in the office!

    4. Dissenting Aussie*

      I’d use this on the odd occasion (if it was an email to people I interact with daily and were generally junior to me) – lightens up an email/day without being overly americanised like ‘y’all’

    5. Samwise*

      It’s Youse Guys when used as a salutation.
      And no, don’t use it, too informal, too regionally specific, and too laden with class and ethnic markers. In other words, not something that middle class people say. (I’m from a family where my parents’ generation — the ones who went to college or married people who went to college — worked very hard to scrub out Youse and other such markers of white ethnic working class background.)

    6. Half-Caf Latte*

      Youse is a regionalism where I am (Philly).

      Samwise’s point about scrubbing is fascinating, jives with my experience, and reminded me of a recent PhillyMag piece called Here’s How Millennials Are Changing the Philly Accent. It goes in depth about how the evolution of the Philly accent started with elites.

      1. Junior Assistant Peon*

        I wonder how much of that is intentional “scrubbing” and how much is caused by the current demographic trend of rural areas emptying out and young college grads moving to cities. In the trendy hipster neighborhoods of Philly, pretty much everyone is a transplant, which means subs instead of hoagies, water instead of wooder, etc.

        I know not to write “youse” in a formal document, but I find it massively inconvenient that there’s no way to say “you plural” in English, so it does get into my speech at times. I refuse to do the “scrubbing” or “code-switching” thing because I think it’s classist as hell. People don’t really notice my Philly accent on my own home turf, but when I’m traveling or at a conference, it’s much more conspicuous.

    7. Akcipitrokulo*

      Affectionately, and very informally, it can sometimes be heard to be used along with a swear word (without the e) in West Coast Scotland — as in “Are any of yous ****s coming out later?”

    8. Kimberlee, No Longer Esq.*

      I think it’s fine as long as it’s otherwise clear what you’re trying to say. People get hung up on weird things.

    9. Wendy*

      I’m also an Aussie. Anytime I hear youse, all I can think of is Jeff Fenech’s “I love youse all”

  20. Sir Freelancelot*

    OP 1, fortune favors the bold, but not the pushy. I’m blessed enough to work in what a lot of people consider a “cool” industry. We have applicants marching in our building, asking for an interview every week. Nobody obtained one. All of them were marked off. It doesn’t matter how much you want or desire that job. Now it’s up to them.

    1. Never Been There, Never Done That*

      “Fortune Favors The Bold” translates to “Go Ahead And Be A Jerk”

      1. Veronica*

        I have had moments when the exact thing, person or event appeared in front of me and all I had to do was step up. That’s being bold – at the right moment in the right situation, to continue in a process.
        Trying to force a process in a way that will annoy people is not being bold, it’s being pushy.

  21. cj*

    FWIW, I think it’s important to talk about politics at work. Dismissing it as inappropriate keeps up the facade that things are normal right now, and politics are often very tied in with things that *are* workplace issues–LGBT rights, health benefits, etc. I work for a company that supports technical infrastructure for ICE, and it’s been an uphill battle to normalize talking about that openly, mostly because of this kind of workplace social more.

    I understand that it’s touchy to bring up controversial things when you’re in a group of people who are forced together by outside circumstances, but sometimes it’s worth the risk, depending on the topic. You may piss some people off but it’s just as likely that you’ll comfort someone else who also feels like they’re in some sort of slow-burn psychological horror movie coming into a workplace every day where everything is normal when we’ve got the president tweeting threats of civil war–but doesn’t know how to say anything about it.

    Obviously, there’s a difference between crossing a line that you know people might find rude vs. crossing a line that might get you fired, and that varies depending on the workplace! But in my case this is the major place I’ve chosen to spend the goodwill I build up at work instead of, you know, blowing it on microwaving fish in the office kitchen.

    1. anon9*

      If some tried to talk politics to me at work, I would cause a stink. Being a Black woman is stressful enough in this political climate, I would really like at least one place where I can be a little insulated from this stuff and focus on something else for a little bit. Some of us are inundated and constantly reminded of the issues outside of work – it’s really unfair to bombard people with it at work. Logging onto my social media guarantees me seeing videos of people being shot or a crying child being taken away from their parents or someone sharing some triggering material and saying “This is not normal.” Like, yes, I’ve been knowing this. Go tell it to those who needs to hear it…which isn’t my demographic (not to start something on this aspect).

      However, your work sounds like the kind where a political conversation makes sense though so I understand your mindset.

      1. Fortitude Jones*


        Again, save these conversations for your own time and your own people who are actually interested in discussing it.

      2. Clisby*

        +1000. If you want to have a political conversation, round up a bunch of people to go out to lunch somewhere, and you can discuss it then.

        1. Anonymouse for this*

          +10001. LW2 if you want to talk politics have at it … just step away from your desk and the office to do so.

          And how do you know your coworkers aren’t up to speed on current events or haven’t read the documents themselves. Just because they’re not discussing it with you doesn’t mean they aren’t aware of it. I’d be annoyed and would raise merry hell if you started sending me political links at work.

      3. cj*

        Thanks for the discussion, guys! To clarify, I don’t think the OP’s subject matter or approach are the right way to bring up politics at work, and there are some good suggestions in the thread for doing so in a more tactful and relevant way, especially Isabel’s comment about bringing it up in a personal context and not pushing it if people don’t want to engage, and Guacamole Bob’s comment differentiating “politicized” topics from political gossip–I think the former is really important, but the latter is distracting. My worry, though, is that one-size-fits-all rules of thumb about controversial topics at work tend to silence both kinds of discussions.

        Totally get where anon9 is coming from, as well–I work in a fairly privileged workplace, so I try to bring attention to things that may not be impacting my coworkers directly. I absolutely don’t want to berate people about awful things they’re already experiencing outside of work.

      4. Veronica*

        @anon9, you can unfollow people who are posting these disturbing videos. You can be aware of what’s happening without being traumatized. Maybe read written news instead of videos, if you feel you must know. Protect your mental health.

    2. WS*

      I think talking about how politics is affecting you and your family/friends personally is a reasonable way to talk politics at work – it personalises and humanises these topics. Done occasionally and in a topical (not lecturing) manner, it can be really helpful. I say this as an out lesbian in a very, very small and conservative town! But that’s very much not what the OP is suggesting.

    3. MK*

      The problem isn’t that you might piss people off, it’s that, if you do something like the OP suggests, these people would be justified to be annoyed and that you would absolutely be the asshole in the situation.

      I live in a country where people feel it’s ok to discuss politics everywhere and at any time. But because it’s part of the culture, these topics come up organically in the conversation and die off just as naturally, so that they don’t end up taking over all communications or blowing up into huge fights. (We also generally have a lot narrower definition of privacy, and what is considered a private matter, but it’s also a lot easier to shut down unwanted conversation, as bluntness is socially acceptable, if not preferable).

      If you want to introduce political awareness at work, sending company-wide emails telling people to read up on X issue is not the way to do it. Start talking about it in a more general way, pay attention to how people react and back off if someone doesn’t want to participate. I agree that more transparency would be a good thing, but only is others are also on board with it.

    4. BRR*

      I strongly disagree with this. An office isn’t the place to make your political statement. I worked at a cause-based nonprofit during the 2016 election. Their mission was one that attracted almost entirely liberal people. I consider myself political and informed and even with everyone having comparatively-close views, I hated the political talk.

    5. Lance*

      ‘ just as likely that you’ll comfort someone else who also feels like they’re in some sort of slow-burn psychological horror movie coming into a workplace every day where everything is normal’

      I don’t know about this. Speaking for myself, at least, I want to keep that normalcy at work, and a lot of people I know want to do the same. Bringing these sort of topics into work draws people’s attention onto them, for good or ill, and frankly, they’re not at work to be introduced to more political talk/news, to very conceivably disagree with their coworkers, to potentially even argue. They’re at work to work, and bringing something in that can easily be a hot topic doesn’t seem like a good plan.

      Yes, if it comes to rights in the workplace, I could potentially see it, as a matter of camaraderie and making sure everyone’s taken care of… but not something like this.

      1. EPLawyer*

        No matter what is happening politically, we still gotta do our jobs. While I care passionately about current events, I also still have to prepare for trials and make sure my clients are zealously represented, etc. Forcing me to also talk politics takes away from doing my actual job. Which will still be (hopefully) be there when the Whistleblower event ends, no matter how it does.

        People have to prioritize what they can focus on. Sometimes the day to day stuff is the priority.

      2. Mr. Shark*

        The problem with politics is that not everyone is going to agree, and if you get into a contentious argument about politics, it can definitely affect your working relationship.

        I work in a non-US location and got into a discussion about socialism versus capitalism, and it got very heated. Finally I walked away because the other person was not discussing things rationally and didn’t want to budge on one being 100% right and the other being 100% wrong, without any gray area.

        In this case, we didn’t work together closely, so we avoided each other for quite awhile before delicately having work-only or entertainment-only discussions. But if I would have had to work with this person on a close or regular basis, it definitely would have been a strain on getting things done.

        On the other hand, I can have discussions with other people who I disagree with politically, or joke with them about it, and it’s not a problem. It depends on the person, but given that you can’t know how someone is going to react (the people I discuss politics with or joke about politics, I know where they are on the political spectrum so we don’t get into serious disagreements).

        Getting an unsolicited e-mail about politics at work would definitely get me worked up. That’s not the point of work (I don’t even really like any non-work items being brought into work officially, it’s not their business).

    6. Sylvan*

      So I totally see where you’re coming from here, but sometimes work is a much-needed escape. Also, I’ve learned from friends that discussing news doesn’t always help them. Sometimes it just compounds stress or trauma. For example, discussing something about sexual assault in the news can be hard on someone who has been assaulted. Likewise, talking about (or sharing pictures of) violence can be difficult for someone who’s affected.

    7. North Wind*

      I hear you that someone could take comfort in having the psychological horror acknowledged, but came here to say just the opposite. This is an incredibly tense and anxiety-producing time, and work makes a perfect respite from it – especially because of the need to focus so deeply on tasks not related (for most of us) to what is going on.

      People may be overwhelmed and trying to manage their exposure to the 24 hour news cycle. Don’t make the decision for them to have to focus on this at your instigation.

      1. North Wind*

        Oh wow, I’m so embarrassed. I read your post at least twice before responding (and referred to it again while writing) and somehow missed the part where you said your org supports technical infrastructure for ICE.

        That’s a different situation than just working, I don’t know, in retail or something.

        1. Guacamole Bob*

          Agreed. But in that case, mentioning to colleagues that you’re having qualms and asking if they share them in the context of a report on the conditions in ICE detention facilities or a new string of ICE raids is really different from debating the candidates in the Democratic primary or talking about the Mueller report.

          “Eh, it’s my job” is not a good reason to ignore the broader context of what the company you work for is doing. Lots of jobs intersect with issues that get discussed in the news. Talking with colleagues about that is good. Using that specific context as an excuse to talk about politics in general all the time is not.

    8. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      Hard disagree on this. And your last paragraph is one reason why… “there’s a difference between crossing a line that you know people might find rude vs. crossing a line that might get you fired”. The problem is that most people don’t know the difference. And I’m not looking to be converted to someone else’s way of thinking while I’m trying to do my job.

      1. Archaeopteryx*

        And if you consider bringing up such a stressful and charged topic around people who didn’t all 100% consent to talk about it, and who feel bound by professional civility to avoid directly telling you you’re being an a-hole, you’re not ‘taking a stand’, you’re just being the political equivalent of the vegan who narrates grisly details in order to ruin people’s lunch.

        Making people who don’t want to talk about politics with you on your terms into your symbol of complacency is just cosplaying ‘taking a stand’. Voting and protesting are where your energy should go, not haranguing coworkers.

        Obviously if you’re overhearing someone say something pro-detainment camps or something you can reply. But don’t think you’re some kind of hero for trying to force people to talk about it in inappropriate places.

        1. Jamie*

          This. As someone who bit clean through her tongue during a business lunch where politics was brought up by a customer they are taking advantage of a captive audience who can’t share equally in the discussion.

          I am in an industry very much affected by the trade war and I’m glad we can discuss the pragmatic effects with which we need to deal without getting into the larger picture because I need that respite at work.

        2. Tinuviel*

          “But don’t think you’re some kind of hero for trying to force people to talk about it in inappropriate places.”

          This is what makes me honestly as sick as hearing people talk politics I disagree with. I see so many people I otherwise agree with do this performance where they throw out a topic, gauge everyone’s reaction, and if it’s negative, “Why do you hate [affected group]??” and if it’s commiseration, “I know right??” and keep haranguing on them until they find a place to disagree and then judge them for being not dedicated enough. It’s a kind of impromptu purity test that you can only fail.

          I used to do this sort of crap and realized it was argumentative and combative and I was setting up friends and family to fail. It was more about affirming my purity, my goodness, my loyalty to the cause than about connecting with others or even converting them. This kind of nonsense doesn’t make you a “hero” for “taking a stand”, it puts everyone on edge around you because you’ve made yourself judge and jury of every issue.

    9. Guacamole Bob*

      Nope nope nope. I can kind of see where you have a point – there’s not a bright dividing line between our lives and the spectacle of national political news, and in the places where they genuinely overlap it may make sense to talk about certain issues at work. But that doesn’t mean workplaces are open season for discussing the latest headlines every day.

      In your circumstances, “what are the moral implications of the work this company is doing and that we’re all contributing to?” is a conversation topic that is probably appropriate. Employees at a variety of companies do sometimes band together and push back on management decisions they see as immoral, and that is important.

      Other types of topics it’s okay to talk about that might be considered “political” because of how they show up in the news:
      – how is this company treating LGBT employees?
      – how does this company respond to reports of harassment?
      – how is this company working to reduce its carbon footprint?
      – how will management respond to a unionization effort?
      – who is it appropriate to have as a speaker at a major event?

      But “our work touches on one thing that’s related to current news so let’s talk about politics all the time” is a definite no go.

      I kind of get it – my work is tangentially connected to some hard issues about race and policing in our community, and a lot of my colleagues resist grappling with that openly. But the genuine connection to the work we do and the policy decisions we make is one thing. It doesn’t mean that it’s appropriate to start talking about national and international politics in general all the time.

    10. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I used to work in an industry that was being blown all over based on politics. So yes, there was “political” talk at work. It was very carefully done – “Congress” or “the President”. There was no mention of individual political parties or even specific people. And the discussion was limited to how it would impact the company/industry/our clients.

      In no way would it be ok to send links around to the whistleblower documents.

    11. Quill*

      Gentle acknowledgement, rather than making people defend their politics or, lets be real, their very existence (because these days there is a group defending how they voted and another group defending their civil rights) would be the way to go here.

      For example, I don’t see anything wrong with checking in with coworkers when news goes on to mention “hey, happy pride month,” (Translation: I acknowlege you and reject the current political crap about queer people,” or making it VERY clear that your workplace isn’t going to tolerate any racial, gender, or religious bias, but you don’t want to subject people to constant ‘debates’ about whether people who have unequivocally stated that they’re lesser human beings are ‘entitled to their opinions.’

      1. Isabel Kunkle*

        Right! I’d treat it similar to the way people can reasonably mention religion. Saying “Oh, I went to the protest against ICE,” or “We had a picnic after church,” are both fine responses if, say, someone asks what you did that weekend, and both reveal a little bit about where you stand on things but don’t make An Issue of it. In OP’s case, “I’ve been watching the news lately, and that whistleblower report is pretty fascinating,” strikes me as pushing it a little but okay if they accept another person in the conversation going “Uh-huh, seems so! I’ve mostly seen it on Colbert–hey, did you catch his puppy rescue spot?” or otherwise changing the subject.

        And if the job intersects with politics, yeah, that’s a different thing.

    12. Donkey Hotey*

      The closest thing to “discussing politics at work” was when my former employer announced a new production plant in North Carolina a few weeks after their “bathroom bill” a few years ago. I point-blank asked our PR person if we were planning to make a statement. He asked, “Why should we?” and I replied, “Because we are a $XXX million a year company who just intentionally moved to North Carolina and I can say with authority that this directly impacts -at least- 10% of your entire workforce.” The PR person mumbled something about if the family who owned our company wanted to say something, they would. So I tweeted the owner of the company (who was remarkably outspoken about such things) and asked him.

      1. Donkey Hotey*

        Insert obligatory “porn” joke referring to yesterday’s letter re: XXX as a placeholder.

    13. logicbutton*

      We need to get better at specifying “electoral politics” when that’s what we’re talking about, imo. Too many people just don’t consider that there are other facets of politics, many perfectly appropriate for work.

    14. Genny*

      The problem with bringing up controversial things is they’re usually pretty nuanced. Kids in cages might be black and white, but the broader topic of immigration is incredibly nuanced. There’s a lot broken in the immigration system and a lot of valid reasons why someone might favor one approach towards immigration over another (and many invalid ones). The workplace really isn’t a good place to get into a nuanced discuss, so your left going over the same points that have been hashed and rehashed by the media, which is just exhausting and doesn’t advance the conversation.

    15. President Porpoise*

      I work in an enormous company. My job is directly impacted by the trade policies coming out of the White House, the USMCA, our relationships with foreign powers, etc. We’re trying to figure out if we can process that paperwork based on today’s news, or how many of our shipments are impacted by the latest tariff increase (and how much it will cost us), whether we can find a work around for this policy with our lawyers. My company lobbies heavily generally, my CEO is clearly politically savvy, and my grandboss has excellent relationships with regulators and lobbyists alike that help her navigate in the very tricky world of international trade.

      You would think, given this information and the conventional wisdom from the media that everyone assumes to be true, that my immediate coworkers would be pretty unhappy with the current state of America’s affairs. Even so, I know that we’re pretty evenly split on conservative and liberal, and not everyone feels like the trade stuff going down is bad, or even really impactful to us. Others feel like the world is burning down. If we started discussing our individual views on politics, we would, I think, destroy our ability to work constructively as a team – because then, we’re not working through the latest external challenge, we’re also managing the work of working through that problem without alienating Bob in operations. I have enough trouble keeping my own emotions in check without managing someone else’s, personally.

  22. cncx*

    Mississippian in Europe. I’ve worked my entire career in Europe. I still say y’all. I will always say y’all.

  23. Introvert girl*

    OP 5, ask if you can work from home a couple of days a week (2 or more). That way you will have less stress.

    1. Dr. Glowcat Twinklepuff*

      I was going to suggest it! She will feel less stressed, and maybe also less guilty if she uses her own computer to explore new fields or work on personal projects, as opposed to do it in her office with the company’s computer.

    2. WFH it is!*

      I was going to suggest exactly this, as well.

      I wouldn’t ask to go part time at all, Instead I’d ask to work from home a couple of days.. and exercise, listen to music, whatever else you need to do on those days. Also ask permission to go to medical appointments during work time (telling the frequency) …

  24. AnonForReasons*

    LW 1, I have hired several people for writing jobs with my company. Typically, we receive resumes from about 500 applicants for every writing position we have open. By far the most important thing we look for is fantastic writing skills. That starts with an exceptional cover letter. Your cover letter needs to be highly engaging, free of errors, and tailored specifically to our company and the job.

    Typically, writing jobs require you to be able to communicate effectively, which requires being able to understand and meet the needs of your audience. Hiring managers tend to be busy and, especially for writing positions, are overwhelmed with applications. So including irrelevant information — such as having self-published short stories on Kindle when applying for a job that doesn’t involve writing fiction — would be a strike against an applicant. Likewise, showing up in person (or phoning) in an attempt to sway the hiring process can move an application from the “Maybe” pile to the “No” pile. Don’t do it!

    What can you do? Start writing and publishing the type of material you want to be paid to write. There are many ways to do this such as creating a blog, writing for sites like Medium, publishing your articles on LinkedIn, and so on. And start drafting a template for cover letters that will make you stand out in a crowded pack of applicants. Follow the fantastic advice that Alison Green gives here at AAM and in her book.

    P.S. You didn’t mention this, but it’s a common mistake… Please don’t mention in your cover letters that you have loved reading since you were a child. It’s a cliche that shows up in a majority of cover letters for writing jobs, so it’s more likely to hurt than help an application.

    1. NewHerePleaseBeNice*

      +1 to the ‘I have always loved reading/books’ thing. I worked in publishing and I estimate that 99% of applicants for jobs had that in the cover letter. Snore.

      1. Mainely Professional*

        Yup. When I see it I just imagine a phlebotomist’s cover letter: “Since I was a child, I’ve loved blood and drawing it.”

        1. Ico*

          I wouldn’t mind talking to this person, but then that’s because it would be so unusual! Liking reading isn’t.

      2. KoiFeeder*

        But there’s gotta be a “too unique” bar too, and that’s probably where people trip up, because weirdness is pretty heavily stigmatized. Everyone loves reading. Not everyone loves blood and drawing it, or filing papers every day, or putting plastic dinosaurs in dollhouses (now what job would have that in a cover letter?).

      3. Naomi*

        To give a perspective from another industry: I work at a video game company and periodically hire interns. A lot of people’s cover letters say how much they love gaming or that they’ve been gamers since childhood. My objection isn’t that it’s a cliche (though I can see how that’s an issue for writing jobs). The problem is that it’s a relatively weak qualification. Mentioning it isn’t a sin, but if you make too much of it, you’re creating the impression that you don’t have any stronger qualifications to offer. Everyone else who applied for the job is also a gamer; you have to have something more than that baseline.

      4. Patty Mayonnaise*

        I agree with this in general, but I will add that I have seen job postings for writing jobs in entertainment where being familiar with the specific property is one of the job requirements. I’ve also been on job interviews where they will ask you about your favorite shows, movies or games to get a sense of your personality (though I wouldn’t necessarily volunteer that info in a cover letter). So I think there is a tiny bit more leeway in entertainment if you are speaking about a specific property, especially if it’s niche (mentioning you love a little-known property of the company versus Harry Potter).

      5. Falling Diphthong*

        See also the belief that a half written novel in a drawer makes you unique in this field.

    2. Rusty Shackelford*

      Yes, all of this. There are so many applicants for any writing opportunity, and that means it’s so easy to toss an applicant in the “no” pile.

      Things I looked for, when I was looking for writers, were:
      – A really good, correct, concise cover letter
      – Some awareness of the type of writing I was hiring for (i.e., do not send me samples of your historical fiction when I’m looking for a technical writer)
      – The ability to follow instructions (i.e., if I ask for hard copies of your writing samples, do not send me a disk – yes, it was that long ago)
      – Evidence that you’re able to do research and/or interview people

      And of course there were other skills/knowledge required for my particular circumstances, but these are good, general talents that any writer should have, and be able to demonstrate in an application. (Bonus if you can prove you understand plagiarism and copyright issues.)

  25. RB*

    #5 I recently dropped down to 2 days a week because I was getting stressed and anxious, and I realised that financially I didn’t need to work so much. I would change careers but I’m really not sure what else I’d prefer to do. I’ve been using the time to study (purely for fun) so things I’m interested in and generally rest/relax.

    I also had quite a negative reaction from people when I was considering the decision, who couldn’t understand why I’d want to do this because it wasn’t part of me striving towards any particular goal/ promotion etc.
    But for me it’s about trying to enjoy the moment/present more, and not always feeling that I need to be pushing myself or achieving anything in particular.

    It’s been strange adjusting to working less, but I feel glad I’ve done something for myself.

    1. first time commenter*

      Seconding this. I live and work in Europe/EU, so it might be different here. It was not completely unheard of in my company, but still unusual especially without a specific reason like being a parent or wanting to get a degree/studying part time. I went part time anyway for as long as I could afford it before looking for a full time job again, and it was really good for me!

    2. Emily*

      I successfully switched my schedule from 5 days a week to 4, but I did it to spend time with my baby. Unfortunately, people find that excuse more understandable than others.

  26. Mainely Professional*

    LW #1: you have to, have to let it go. As someone who hires writers for a living, I have some hard facts to impart. One: only people with professional credentials and experience tend to get hired. Not because they have professional experience but because the writers with professional experience usually have the best samples.

    Second, I decide within a few seconds if the writing sample is good and whether to keep reading. If your resume is strong, that doesn’t matter, the writing sample does. That means the opening of what you wrote is the most important part. Was it error free? Is it interest-catching? Your letter to Allison, assuming it was printed verbatim, did have some errors, and I may be reading into it but, you also came across as perhaps on the younger side. Your writing and sentence is not especially fluid or developed.

    Your letter to AAM sounds like many cover letters I receive: hopeful and desperate to break into a very competitive field—which in my company’s case, like the job you’re after is with a place that also has many fans. I understand how desirable a job as a writer seems, but at the end of the day it’s a job.

    My advice to you is to KEEP WRITING. And more importantly, keep reading! Reading is the best way to make yourself a better writer. If you’ve self published for kindle you’re obviously capable of committing to a writing project—now work on your prose! If you write nonfiction (or even if you write fiction) pick up a copy of “Writing for Story” by Joe Franklin. Read Stephen King, “On Writing,” and better yet, take writing classes.

    And if you write short fiction…please don’t ever open your story with a protagonist who wakes up and then shortly after looks in the mirror, which you then use to describe your character’s appearance to the reader.

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      … especially if she’s wistfully sighing about her slightly-too-small nose or delicate complexion.

    2. BRR*

      This is excellent advice (as well as a few other comments) and I hope the LW sees it. The only way for the LW to take more control of the situation is to move on mentally and be pleasantly surprised if they hear anything. To take more control of their job hunt, if they’re applying to similar jobs, is to build their skills and portfolio.

    3. Sara without an H*

      And don’t open your story with a protagonist who wakes up and discovers he’s been transformed into a giant cockroach. It’s been done.

      1. KoiFeeder*

        Hey, there’s no such thing as a plot that’s never been done. It’s how you execute it that matters.

        …of course, I’m more likely to wake up a cockroach myself than I am to become a professional writer, so your mileage may vary.

        1. Quill*

          At least the cockroach is a plot-inciting incident, whereas inspecting your face for zits is tuesday for most people.

    4. Rockhopper*

      There’s very good advice here. I would add that there are many ways to get that official experience. If you are in an office position now, internal/external written communication is certainly going on. Ask your manager if you can try your hand at drafting the FAQs for the new product or work on improving that outdated brochure. You may not get a byline, but eventually will get items for your portfolio and a bullet point for your resume. It seems you lean more toward fiction writing, but there are opportunities out there for those who can write about any topic well.

      1. Mainely Professional*

        Absolutely, this is a great example of how it’s done. Doing marketing communications was one of the first ways I was able to build my own resume to move from entry-level admin work to communications to editorial.

  27. Kate Daniels*

    #1. We recently finished a search for two positions and were astounded by the number of people who showed up or called to “inquire” about the status of heir application (after less than one week of the job posting going up!!!). Interestingly, they were all people who were weaker candidates… and perhaps the most desperate.

    It puts everyone in an awkward spot to have someone demand to know about the status of their application right here and right now. All of those applicants immediately were moved from the “probably not” or “maybe” pile into the firm “no way” pile. It does make you stand out—but not in a good way. Don’t do it.

    1. Fortitude Jones*

      This is another good point – strong candidates don’t do this kind of follow-up, OP. If you’re a strong candidate for this position based on your cover letter and/or writing sample(s), believe me, they’ll contact you.

    2. 8DaysAWeek*

      Agree. The weak ones come out of the woodwork….awkward LinkedIn messages, emails to my personal account, odd meeting requests, etc.
      Don’t do it. Your resume will go to the trash.

  28. LGC*

    Like, I think the real issue is that LW3’s husband thinks you need to be formal at all times at work – and while I’m sure some jobs require that, I’ve found the occasional slip into AAVE to be useful myself (I’m black, a lot of my employees are black).

    It’s 2019. Business doesn’t have to mean formal.

    1. I'm A Little Teapot*

      This. Work doesn’t always have to be formal. Context matters, greatly. And make sure you can be clearly understood by those you’re trying to communicate with.

      There was an intern this summer that someone had to ask they stop using emojis and text abbreviations. Several years ago there was a staff person whom someone had to ask that they stop speaking in whatever dialect it was as no one in the office could understand what he was saying (wasn’t AAVE, something much less common).

    2. DS*

      I’m kinda boggled by some of the comments in here – I’m realizing how many industries would be excruciating for me to work in! I work in tech, blessedly informal, and I cannot stand overly rigid business speech. I say y’all frequently. I use emojis and even GIFs once I’ve judged my audience a bit. I’m a human working with other humans to get things done and I find that this path has almost always helped me develop stronger relationships and rarely hurts me or my career. Obviously it would be different in some of these other industries, but goodness, there really is a spectrum of acceptability and I don’t think you should stay on the conservative side of it just to be safe if you encounter informal language on your own industry frequently.

    3. Filosofickle*

      I tend to be formal by nature, and intentionally edit to lighten up my emails. A primary partner has a VERY casual style and while I’ll never sound like him, his colloquial, chatty style does work at creating connections and setting a tone of “hey there let’s collaborate / we’re all in this together”.

      A lot of my work is presenting material to clients. I calibrate formal / casual depending on the client. But mixing them is actually quite effective, following a bunch of executive talk with a quick aside that’s humorous or conspiratorial.

  29. sequined histories*

    Being from the Deep South, I’m down far y’all. However, “thou” was always singular, and, at least where I grew up, y’all was always plural, so I’d say they were more like opposites than equivalents.

    Also, while it sure does seem like it must have started out as a contraction for “you all,” I always perceived as a single complete word in its own right.

    In fact lots of words had their origins as contractions. I learned from John McWhorter that barn started out as “barley arn” (barley house), for example.

      1. 99 lead balloons*

        Another southerner here. Y’all is plural, but we also use the expression “all y’all” as an almost super-plural reference (yes, it’s weird).

        1. sequined histories*

          I am familiar with the usage “all y’all.” I hear is as an intensifier that conveys that the speaker is really serious about including every single person addressed in the injunction, invitation, or whatever. Not one single individual should fancy herself excluded.

      2. sequined histories*

        Yeah, I do a deep cringe when I hear it used to address one person; I definitely get a fake southern vibe from it. My father loved Star Trek and I grew up watching reruns of TOS. My favorite “fake southern” singular usage example is an episode in which McCoy addresses Kirk as “y’all.”

  30. Another Sarah*

    About 4, I’d be really interested if your advice would change if it was an international company – Not that it makes the speaker sound unintelligent or anything, but should we be more mindful about colloquialisms if you’re dealing with a different audience?
    For instance I’m in the UK, we never say y’all, and I always thought it was really informal, but it’s clearly more widespread than that – similarly I might use a britishism that’s fine to us but an American wouldn’t expect to see. Should we be mindful of using colloquialisms if we know the audience might be unfamiliar with the terms, or should we expect a bit of leeway on that kind of thing knowing that we’re coming from different countries/regions?

    1. I Write the Things*

      Depends on the type of communication. If it’s a casual email with someone you’re familiar with, a regional word or two is probably fine. Worst case, they’ll ask what it means. If it’s a document or an email to someone you haven’t worked with much – something where clarity matters – I’d stick to something more… formally informal.

      And yes, y’all is everywhere in the U.S. I’ve been forced to grudgingly acknowledge its usefulness as a non-gendered pronoun, and sometimes having a plural second person is helpful and I get annoyed there isn’t a standard option. But then, English is really language by committee.

      1. pleaset*

        “Depends on the type of communication.”


        Too many people here are talking about “my company” when it’s often at least as important to realize there is a huge variety of situations even within one organization.

    2. Asenath*

      Both, probably – you give a bit of leeway to speakers of other forms of English rather than expecting them to speak just like you, and if you are speaking to an audience you know is unfamiliar with your accent and terminology, you moderate them a bit. Often the latter is almost unconscious, with many people speaking different versions of their language in situations of different formality – one way at home, one way with friends, one way when giving a formal speech or speaking formally with someone in a business setting, and so on. There are so many versions of English that no one knows them all – I’m Canadian, from a region with several accents, but I think in more or less formal settings I speak with a kind of generic Canadian accent (although other Canadians can sometimes still pinpoint my origins). During a trip to the southwest US, my accent still puzzled some people – one asked if I was from England, and I said politely “No, I’m from Canada” while thinking “I”ve been to England, and no one I met spoke like I do!”

    3. The Actually Mad Scientist*

      I think you bring up a good point. I live in Pennsylvania, and we are a wide state so the “sides” are very different, i.e. Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. I was on the phone with my bank once (a regional chain with offices all throughout a few states here, and their main office is in Pittsburgh) and instead of saying “ya’ll” or “youse” or whatever, this representative said “yinz.” This is apparently a Pittsburgh thing and I think it is worth noting that we should be mindful of our audience–in the moment, I was upset at whatever I was on the phone with the bank about, but I was kind of taken aback by that word. Not to mention in my opinion it sounds silly.

    4. Rusty Shackelford*

      I think you should be careful about colloquialisms not because of formality, but to make sure you’re understood. Example: I know some Southerners who will refer to a stubborn, annoying person as a “heifer.” Anyone outside of their region would probably assume you’re commenting on the person’s weight, not their personality.

  31. NEWBIEMD19*

    I was born and raised in South Carolina and attended college there as well. When I started medical school in Pennsylvania, one of my professors zeroed in on my accent and my use of “y’all”, saying they made me sound dumb and that I needed to lose them or no one would take me seriously. Since I was young and easily cowed, I did just that (although the accent is still there to some extent, especially after a gin and tonic or two) but always kind of resented that advice. I had been admitted to a top ten medical school, so I obviously wasn’t dumb. But even now, with MD firmly in hand, that professor’s voice still rings in my head whenever I use a plural second-person pronoun. Such is life, but it still stinks.

    1. Reality Check*

      If people are going to write you off over a southern accent, well, sounds like bigotry to me.

      1. AGD*

        Sociolinguist here – this is exactly it. Linguistic prejudice. Negative stereotypes and/or a sense that language needs to be judged harshly (it does not, for any reason – this is rarely anything other than pointless snobbery, though unfortunately our educational institutions often reinforce it).

        1. Dn*

          Agree. As an English professor, I work against this rigid, judgmental way of thinking about language. My colleagues in other departments often have the idea that enforcing elitist language use is our job, but it’s not. The Allusionist is a great podcast on the subject.

    2. Fortitude Jones*

      See, and I’m a smart ass, so I would have said that publicly deriding someone’s accent and language usage not only makes him/her sound dumb, but also classless.

      1. Reality Check*

        Exactly. It wouldn’t go over well if one were to deride the accent of a person whose first language is not English, so why would it be okay to bash a regional dialect?

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          People who think it’s okay to bash a regional dialect probably don’t have any problem bashing the accent of someone whose first language isn’t English.

    3. Lora*

      Am from PA, and your professor had NO room to speak about accents! People notice and remark on my Pennsylvania accent all the time, especially when I’m tired and let loose with, “get some wooter an’ mop after you redd up the kitchen” or “nah, the wine is all but there’s beer yet”.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        Ha! I’m from PA as well, and my immediate family seemed to be the only people around who pronounced water as “wahter” instead of “wooter.”

    4. sequined histories*

      My sympathies. When I was 18, I did everything I could to quash my southern accent because the content of what I was saying kept getting interrupted so that my the other girls in my dorm could talk about how “cute” my accent was. I don’t think that was meant in mean-spirited way, but it got old fast.

    5. Massmatt*

      I know several people that have worked hard to get rid of regional accents, some remain very self-conscious when it slips out (often when someone is tired or agitated, or returning from a home visit. The prejudice against regional accents and dialects is pervasive.

      On the other hand, I have had multiple southerners tell me they (as in virtually all southerners) are very aware of the way their accent is perceived and will deploy it deliberately to be underestimated, or get a favor. One guy from Arkansas told me if a salesman starts sounding more southern during the conversation, hold on to your wallet.

  32. Delta Delta*

    #2 – Don’t do it. Multiple reasons. 1. Do not assume your coworkers are uneducated. They likely know what’s going on and are choosing to use time at work to, you know, work. 2. Pretend a moment it isn’t politics, but some other thing OP is very interested in. Let’s say… fly fishing. Suddenly OP has decided work is the place to send out emails about fly fishing. We would all agree this would be inappropriate, although I suppose there could be a few specific exceptions. 3. A whole lot of people are going to work to get away from the constant news cycle. Let them have those news-free hours.

  33. What’s with Today, today?*

    #1 I work in small market radio in the south. One of my radio shows has “y’all” both in the title & the tag line. It’s really one of my favorite words.

  34. Paperdill*

    But if trivia: Being an Australian, I never really heard “y’all” until I met my Sri Lankan parents-in-law. It seems “y’all” is used a lot in Sri Lanka a lot but with a different pronunciation.
    I thought for years my conservative in-laws were just being ironic saying it all the time, till I realised the other friends and replies were saying it too.

  35. Luna*

    Regarding the political thing, just recall that watching history unfold is not always as interesting, or even good, as others might believe. Getting to sensitive topics here, but I’m sure people seeing the twin towers crashing down didn’t care that they were watching history. My mother was watching the TV while the news were broadcasting about the fire of Notre Dame. It’s history, most definitely! But not something that should be forced to be witnessed. Especially not if it involves politics.

    I don’t mind y’all. If I had more English-speaking colleaguges, I might enjoy hearing y’all more often.

    1. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      Yes. I was in England last week, looking at the news there, which was fascinating, but when a friend commented on “getting to watch history unfold,” all I could think of was “history is a nightmare from which I am trying to awaken.”

  36. NYWeasel*

    OP #3: I know this isn’t exactly your issue to solve, but when I read about Fergus being fast-tracked and all the excitement about him, while you aren’t seeing the skills and attention to detail that he’ll need to advance, its bringing up oh so many memories of incompetent but well-presenting people I’ve worked with over the years. They would get promoted super fast and then be miserable to work with because they either sucked up to management at the expense of their team, or they would expect everyone beneath them to do all the work while they basked in the glory. Even at my current job, there are a few of these “golden children” around that inexplicably dodge any real assessment of their skills. More frustratingly, it’s generally been white guys that I see benefitting from this type of attention—not in an overt “we only want white men” way, but bc they fit the traditional ”image” of leadership…for all of the gender and racial stereotypes that we discuss here.

    Bringing it back to your direct situation, it’s a tricky path to navigate. I’ve found that the type of manager that chooses people this way rarely want to hear anything negative bc it reflects poorly on them (and you then run a risk of the criticisms bouncing back on to you). But you also don’t want to feed into this false narrative of somebody being perfect for advancement when you are seeing serious things to work on with them (and I’d classify poor attention to detail and poor follow through as pretty big issues, regardless of how high a “performer” he was in his last role). I think Alison’s suggestions are great, and perhaps there’s a way to position this not as a way to ding Fergus personally, but as a way to help LT identify the right people to promote in general. For example, you (and other managers at your level if there are more) could do a periodic informal calibration of the teams, and present it back to the LT. Being able to say “I’m still finding that I need to work with Fergus on submitting accurate documentation, but Jane is really excelling at her skyline plus she’s taken on managing the monthly wildebeest reports” will help demonstrate that you aren’t just negative—you are using clear metrics to assess the team.

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      OP #3: I know this isn’t exactly your issue to solve, but when I read about Fergus being fast-tracked and all the excitement about him, while you aren’t seeing the skills and attention to detail that he’ll need to advance, its bringing up oh so many memories of incompetent but well-presenting people I’ve worked with over the years. They would get promoted super fast and then be miserable to work with because they either sucked up to management at the expense of their team, or they would expect everyone beneath them to do all the work while they basked in the glory.

      Reminds me of someone I used to work with… you’d see a job opening announcement that called for certain very specific skills and no degree and you’d say “looks like Fergus is getting promoted again.”

      1. only acting normal*

        Our Fergus was with our department for maybe 3 months. For a year afterwards if you picked up a file with his initials on it your heart would sink because it meant a load of corrections would be needed. But there were no consequences for Fergus, he was gone to wreak havoc on a string of other departments on the fast track to senior management.

    2. Lora*

      Oooh yes. I work with two of these Leaderish Dudes at the moment, in other departments. My department is in the unenviable position of having to apply actual metrics (i.e. dollar amounts and financial analyses) to site-based departments that run entirely on the Old Boys Club. We used to have three, and one was quitfired due to his over-reliance on other people’s faith in his Leadership Potential as opposed to his project management skills.

      It is intensely frustrating for me to explain the rules (“You WILL provide this data to Finance,” “you WILL fill out this report exactly as it is formatted,” etc) to these Leaderish Dudes and probably even more frustrating for them, in that all the relationships they rely on to function, which they spent years carefully cultivating, are now absolutely meaningless in the cruel reality of a controller’s report – they literally have no other way to function in the world, never having been forced to develop the skills needed to do the job.

    3. Artemesia*

      I think it is super important to throw a little water on the Miracle Fergus narrative and if the OP is being asked constantly she needs a bland response like ‘well starting a new job is always a bit of a struggle and Fergus is working to get up to speed. I think he will get there in a few weeks; he is working hard’ It is not negative, but rather ‘business as usual with anyone starting a job’ — but it is clearly not going to be interpreted as ‘thank God you put Fergus on my team, he is amazing’ either. I too have watched polished presentable amiable men move to the top with minimal skill and competence many times and one way it happens is people don’t tell the truth when asked ‘how is Fergus doing.’

      1. Massmatt*

        I think this could backfire on the LW. It seems to me there is a good chance Fergus is being earmarked for advancement, and someone calling that narrative into question could be branded as “not a team player”. It’s possible these questions from higher-ups about how Fergus is doing really are idle chit chat, but the fact that there have been many such questions makes me think no, this is not accidental.

        Could Fergus have been hired with the intent to take a more senior role after spending the minimum time in smaller roles? Is he someone’s son-in-law? I would be careful around Fergus.

  37. I Write the Things*

    LW2: For the sanity of your coworkers, please don’t. I’m well-versed in current events, but the number of times I have mentioned the subject at work, other than “I may be a bit late from lunch, I’m going to vote” is exactly 2, and neither was unprompted. I’m guessing that many more of your coworkers are similar to me in this than you realize. I don’t talk politics at work because they are divisive, the ensuing discussion would probably take more time than I can spare from my day, and frankly it’s all I’m hearing about these days and I need a break. Living in historic times is draining.

    LW3: Definitely be more descriptive. The last thing you want is to set unrealistically high expectations for both Fergus and yourself. I like both of Alison’s scripts.

    LW5: My sympathies on the chronic issues and the whole process that entails. I’m still pushing for a diagnosis, so I feel ya. I’ve been able to negotiate working from home part of the week, and that has really been a lifesaver. Not going through the early wake up and morning routine as often helps, as does not having to deal with noise and people every day. If you think your manager is reasonable, try asking. You have a diagnosis, so if you are legitimately having issues while you get into a stable treatment you might be eligible for accomodations. I’m sure others here can give you more info on what you’d need from your doctor.

    In any case, I’m sure you’ve figured the rest of this out by now, but what you’re dealing with is frustrating and tiring. Keep trying until you find what works, but take breaks for yourself – don’t beat yourself up if you run out of spoons, and don’t push past your limit on good days because that guarantees the next day will not be good. At all. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or challenge your doctors, and make sure they are giving you enough information. I’ve had two many drive-thru doctors who want to write a scrip and get me out, which drives me batty, and so does having each of them aware of part of the story, so finding doctors that communicate has been an absolute requirement for me. Good luck, and I hope you feel better soon.

    1. Quill*

      I used to open meetings for a club I ran in college with “hello darlings – shut up,” but I always fantasized about “Hello Fellow Vertebrates – And Katie.” (Obviously that would have been WAY, way beyond inappropriate but imagining it when I had to deal with Katie McFakename made my day better.)

      1. mrs__peel*

        My preferred opener for any group is a 1930s detective-esque “I’ve gathered you all here today because one of you…. is a MURDERER”.

  38. Nerdy Teacher*

    “Y’all” is actually not a contraction of “you all.” It is “ye all” and dates back to early Scot-Irish settlers in the rural South.

  39. Please don't go bringing up politics!*

    OP #2, I have post-traumatic stress disorder which is getting triggered by current events. I need places where you wouldn’t expect politics to come up (like work) to stay places where politics doesn’t come up, just so I can function. Thanks!

  40. Arctic*

    As a born and bred Yankee I never use y’all because I don’t want it to seem like I’m being mocking of Southern speech. But I would LOVE if it became more widespread and it seems close to getting there. The more we use informal writing for communication daily the more the need for a plural pronoun becomes clear.

    I am very widely read on current events. And I have two co-workers who constantly send me links and talk to me at length about politics. One liberal and one conservative. I’m liberal but they both annoy the heck out of me.

    1. Shhhhh*

      “As a born and bred Yankee I never use y’all because I don’t want it to seem like I’m being mocking of Southern speech.”

      Or AAVE. I grew up saying you guys and I really have been trying it to cut it out. Y’all often feels like the most natural substitution, but I’m a white Northerner and I also don’t want to seem like I’m mocking anyone.

  41. AdAgencyChick*

    OP, you said you think the job would be perfect for you and that you’re a fan of the company. I guarantee that if the job is “entertainment company writer,” you are not the only fan of the company applying.

    It is almost certainly necessary to be both an experienced writer AND enthusiastic about the company to get that role.

  42. Sara without an H*

    OP#2: Please, just don’t. Your co-workers are a captive audience and, moreover, have to maintain working relationships with you. Your efforts to “educate” them, no matter how well intentioned, will put a strain those relationships. It isn’t worth it.

    I say this as someone who incurred significant dental damage from grinding her teeth through the last election cycle.

    1. Kendra*

      This. CrossFit enthusiasts, diet mavens, and religious people are all coming from the exact same well-intentioned place: “if they only KNEW, they’d be as into the thing I’m passionate about as I am!” Very few people talk about these things with the intent of bothering or harming anyone; in fact, it’s usually out of deep, sincere concern for the other person’s well-being.

      That doesn’t make ANY of it appropriate for the workplace, where your audience can’t leave, has limited capacity to argue their own opinion (or shut you up if they just don’t want to hear yours), and they’re compelled to keep speaking to you politely, day after day for years. Don’t be that guy.

  43. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

    #5 use the down time to your advantage! You say you’re in the wrong field, so what would it take to move to the right field? Does your job pay for schooling? Is there an online training program you can start? I get it, not having any work to do SUCKS. I’m in the exact same situation, and I used the down time earlier this year to get my PMP certification. I wouldn’t ask to go part time, or take a year off unless you’re going to use that time productively to start a new career.

    1. Cashewbutter*

      Sometimes (esp large companies), will let employees volunteer for a day and not make them use vacation time. OP I would check into that! If you have a non-profit or volunteer work you love you may be able to do that one day a week. I worked at a large mobile phone company that offered this, as well as a large banking institution. I wouldn’t be surprised if your large company has a program like this.

  44. The Other Dawn*

    RE: #2
    “I’m bothered at the idea of my coworkers not being up to speed on this…”

    Why does this bother you so much? I could see being bothered if it’s your partner or a family member/friend, but why be bothered about your coworkers? You have no idea what media they read or listen to.

    I’d be incredibly annoyed if a coworker pushed this stuff on me and I’d likely avoid you forever more. I’d be professional and speak to you enough to get my job done, but that’s it. I’d be wondering what else you’d push on me.

    And I disagree that two 10-page documents are short and easy digestible. I’m busy at work and have stuff to do at home. I’m not going to take the time out to read 20 pages that someone else pushed onto me uninvited. Circular file.

    1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      Exactly. And why does OP think they’re not up to speed on it? Just because they’re not discussing it at work (which they shouldn’t be) doesn’t mean they don’t know about it. OP is making assumptions and it’s actually none of their business.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        +1000. Only way I would ever talk politics at work (where I know that the office is split on politics and that most of the leadership’s views are opposite of mine) is if my loved ones’ lives somehow depended on me doing it. Doesn’t mean I’m up to speed. I just want to avoid this subject with this audience. And, anyway, it’s not like we don’t have anything else to do at work.

    2. Rusty Shackelford*

      I’m bothered by people who vote but don’t pay attention to politics, or who only accept information from certain very biased sources. But that doesn’t mean I have the right to do anything about it at work.

      And I only discuss politics at work with a very small group of people who agree with me. If you’re on the other end of the political spectrum, or if I don’t know exactly where you stand, you might assume I’m not “up to speed” because I don’t discuss anything with you.

      1. Quill*

        And some of us are doing our best to pass as not affected by these political times and their very real potential impact on our civil rights…

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          “I have to pretend I don’t care because I don’t want you to know why I care” is just heartbreaking. :-(

    3. mcr-red*

      #2, here’s my question: What do you expect them to be able to do about the situation? Look, I haven’t paid attention to the issue, because what can I do about it? I could read the stuff, get angry, and then what? I didn’t vote for the guy, I’m not going to vote for the guy. The people I know who voted for him aren’t going to be swayed by me into not voting for him next time. The people I’ve had to hide on social media are actually people who think like me because I cannot take their constant, stress-inducing railing about the situation. I KNOW. I have to get through my day with my own daily stresses, some of which I have a lot more control over than this situation. So you give your coworkers the document, they read it, and…then what? You’re all upset together I guess.

      1. Isabel Kunkle*

        OMGTHIS, and thank you. I’ve been getting flak for Not Caring Enough About Issues since I went to Hippie College during 2001-2005, and it’s like…okay, I agree that this thing which is happening is wrong and bad, I’m not in favor of it. I’ve called the appropriate people, I’ve voted where I can. Is following every development until I get an ulcer going to solve any particular awful situation?

        1. Veronica*

          Yes, I still have PTS from the hippie influences (especially on my mother) when I was growing up in the 70’s. As an adult I soon learned to avoid activists because they make me sick with their constant pushing and negativity. They’re never satisfied, no progress is enough (not even for a few minutes), and its MY responsibility to care about and change everything that’s wrong with the world? It’s not possible for me to do that, and I’m not going to kill myself trying.
          I had to stop watching news in 2015 because it was making me sick. I get news mainly from Facebook, and I’ve had to unfollow some of my more ranting friends.
          OP#2, your colleagues deal with news in the way that’s best for them, and they know where to look when they want it. Please respect that.

        2. bluephone*

          So true! I’ve had to mute or unfollow several people on twitter because even though we mostly share the same political views, the constant hand wringing and screaming is just too much right now. I’ve voted for the people I wanted to vote for (who weren’t responsible for various messes that we’re in right now). I’ve contacted my local representatives who are either like minded (but the minority party so their hands are tied) or are soooooo into the very things I’m railing against that all I’m doing is putting myself on a watch list if I contact them to complain about policy.

          I’d be hella peeved if a coworker, even one who shared my views, then dumped something like the whistleblower report on my desk with a passive aggressive “I noticed you were being a sheeple” attitude. Girl, I DO care. I am also very burnt out by caring. And now you’ve earned yourself a one way ticket to me bitching to HR about you.

    4. 1234*

      Same. I have a hard time reading long documents and staying focused on them so 10 pages is A LOT to me. I also do not care about politics whatsoever so if the OP brought that up to me, I would say “ok” and throw it in the trash.

  45. LGC*

    I’m guessing the theme of this week is, “if you have to ask, the answer is no?”

    I certainly want to introduce LW1 to the LW from Thursday that works at the Gumption Factory. (For SCIENCE. And laughs. But mostly…okay, yeah, mostly for laughs.)

    I can’t be too mad at LW1, though. They sound…youthful. (And maybe a bit desperate, which – yeah – they should tone that down significantly.)

    LW2 – honestly I can’t be too mad at you as well. It seems like your passion for current events is in conflict with what you know about work etiquette, and you’re aware of this (otherwise I feel like you wouldn’t have written in). You sound a bit like my mom (who I broadly agree with politics) – she has news channels on ALL THE TIME and I’ve learned to go, “that’s nice, mother” when she goes in about – let’s say – a guy who became president partly because he was on TV a lot calling another guy who became the actual president partly because he played the president on TV.

    (Also as noted in other comments – the correct terminology is “Ukraine,” and saying “the Ukraine” is surprisingly fraught.)

  46. Anon for this, colleagues read here*

    OP #4. Please tell your husband that this non-Southerner living in the south, with a PhD in English from a top-5 grad school, uses y’all when speaking to faculty, deans, the provost, the chancellor, and nobody thinks it’s too informal or that I’m an uneducated yokel.

    The only person who has a problem with it is my husband, a Southerner, who says that I’m not a Southerner and that almost 30 years of living in the South does not count and “y’all” with a west coast accent is an abomination. (To which my response is, Duuuuuude! You’re harshing my mellow!)

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      The only person who has a problem with it is my husband, a Southerner, who says that I’m not a Southerner and that almost 30 years of living in the South does not count and “y’all” with a west coast accent is an abomination.

      Now that y’all is getting traction here in the North, yesterday I saw the first (for me) FB post complaining about us culturally appropriating “y’all”. Sigh. You can never win.

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          I’m an immigrant in the North and feel the same, even though I’d love for it to become commonplace. Maybe in a few years.

          I was first taught to y’all by my coworkers from a satellite office in Atlanta, way back in 2000, when we were all on a business trip together. I thought it was weird and never used it. But now 19 years later, “you guys” is becoming more clunky and awkward by the day.

          1. Allypopx*

            Interesting. I’ve lived in New England the majority of my life and never had an issue with it. People around me use y’all all the time. I certainly do.

      1. Jennifer*

        I hate it when people use y’all to address one person. An easy way to peg a non-Southerner. I wouldn’t call it appropriation but sometimes people who aren’t from here try to do too much, as the kids say.

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          How weird! Why would they do that? They wouldn’t address one person as “you guys” or whatever, would they? What happened to just saying “you” to one person? I promise I’ll never do this, because it’s just… off.

        2. Oof*

          I hear it all the time, when it’s used to address a person as a member of a group. For example, I might tell a visiting Northerner that “Y’all can’t just handle the heat like we do, but hey I can’t manage the cold!”

          1. Jennifer*

            That’s not the same as walking to a room with only one person in it and saying, “hey y’all!” That’s what I’m referring to. Drives me nuts.

      2. Clisby*

        You can win! But you can never use “y’all” to refer to a single person. That is the gateway to hell.

  47. Octoberishere*

    #5- I am not sure on your vacation situation, but if you have enough time saved could you take 1 day a week off for a while? or take a large chunk of time off? Also I saw someone above mention, getting some kind of certification. Also for nearly every job there is some kind of professional organization. Some of them even offer certification. You could look into preparing for that.

    1. Octoberishere*

      Also are you able to WFH? But I had a job once where I could WFH a few days a week. It was also a job where I would often finish work for the day by 11am, but needed to be available for questions or anything else, that may arise. So often times I would finish my work, and leave my email up and phone handy. I checked my email nearly every 30 mins to be “available” but did a lot of other things around my house or ran quick errands.

  48. Sharikacat*

    LW #5, I thinks there’s nothing wrong with asking to go part-time for a while, and depending on the nature of the business, they may be thrilled with the idea. If peoples’ hours are being cut because there isn’t enough work to justify having extra heads in the office, then you being there represents eight hours someone else isn’t going to get on their paycheck. People hired to be full-time who have to go through a stint of not getting their 40 hours can get very demoralized in the workplace, because they have their own bills to pay as well, which may lead them to look for a job that can supply them with enough hours/pay for their needs. You being willing to pull back may be able to help a coworker needing to make rent beyond just the company saving some payroll if they don’t have to work you that 5th day and over-staff for a slow day just to force it.

    Just be upfront that you want this to be a temporary arrangement and be willing to snap back to a full schedule if business suddenly picks up. Maybe don’t phrase it as going part-time but say that you’re willing to take the hit on your schedule if the workflow doesn’t support having so many people on shift.

  49. Lingustic Nerd*

    OP #4, actually “thou” was the original second person singular, and “you” was plural. So “y’all” has taken the place of the plural “you” since the word has evolved to also include the singular “you.”

  50. SaffyTaffy*

    OP #2 You said that we are watching history unfold in real time. We are always, at every moment, watching history unfold. Many people are inspired and fascinated, and will be remembered for, things that are not related to government. Please just keep in mind that humanity, and even America, is larger than the one (very important) facet that fascinates you.

    1. Vicky Austin*

      That’s true, but it’s clear that what they meant was “we are living in a time when the news stories of today will be in history textbooks read by future generations of school children, and it’s exciting to watch these events unfold.”
      I agree that they shouldn’t print out the whistleblower report and hand it out to their coworkers; but that’s because it’s not their job to educate their coworkers and not for the reasons you said.

  51. AndersonDarling*

    #2 If you were in Corporate Compliance, Safety, or a Quality Department and wanted to use the current events to remind your company the process of reporting unethical behavior, that would be great. My fear is that the current events will discourage people everywhere from reporting fraud, harassment, or unethical behavior in their own companies. This is a great time to remind employees about your corporate compliance policies, how issues are reviewed, how reporters are protected, and the channels available for reporting.
    But if you just want to remind people about politics, then let it go.

    1. Fortitude Jones*

      Oh, this is a really good point. I agree that it makes more sense to discuss it in broader terms when you’re in compliance.

  52. Kiwiii*

    I feel like ya’ll is becoming more and more widespread over the last dozen years. I regularly hear it in places outside of the American South and frankly 1) love it and 2) don’t think it sounds out of place in most work places, but should always consider the recipients/the way it might come across in your culture specifically.

  53. Vicky Austin*

    1. No, that’s the equivalent of workplace stalking. The only time that would be acceptable is if they specifically told you that they definitely wanted you to come back for a second interview or something similar and that they would be in touch to let you know when, but then they never called you.
    2. No, don’t do that. The whistleblower report is available on the websites for all the major news media outlets (i.e., CNN, NBC, etc.). It’s 2019 and all your coworkers know how to use the internet, so they can find it themselves. If they don’t want to take the initiative to find it themselves, it’s not your place to educate them.
    If, and only if, one of your coworkers specifically mentions that they don’t know all the details about the report and want to know more, then you can mention that it’s available on all the news media websites. They’ll know how to find it from there.
    4. If you live in the South, it’s probably fine to use y’all at work. If you live in the North, not so much.

  54. Eillah*

    #2 — Take it from someone who is overly vocal about politics in their personal life: DO NOT DO THIS!!!!!

  55. Fabulous*

    I’m a midwesterner who says y’all all the stinkin’ time… to the extent a remote southern coworker though I was making fun of her at one point. Nope, it’s just a word I’ve been using for several years that (IMO) should be included in regular speech everywhere!

  56. LW5 Here*

    LW 5 here. Thanks for the suggestions, everyone! I probably left out an important part, which is since I’m at a consulting firm I am subject to billable hours. I’ve been charging A LOT of time to training (with boss’s permission) and if that gets flagged higher up this might make the part-time conversation a little easier. But the billable hours part also makes trying to fill my time hard too. Outside of small tasks to assist other teams, I’ve been journaling, researching other career options, taking short walks, building new skills, researching, reading blogs, learning more about my chronic condition, etc. (many of the things y’all have suggested ;). And I’m charging to training. After reading an older AAM post, now I’m a bit worried about the ethics of all this. Is it ethical to do non-work related tasks while on company time when you’re slow? I’ve been doing as much work related tasks as I can, but it only fills about 30-50% of my time at best. And also, since I don’t really like this field, trying to fill that down time with more strictly work related stuff sounds… omg, awful.

    1. Allypopx*

      The ethics might be tricky but they seem to *know* you don’t have enough to do, so I don’t know what they’re really expecting – it sounds like you’ve filled your time with what they’ve asked. And who among us hasn’t spent work time sprucing up our resume, or checking Facebook, or commenting on workplace advice blogs….

      Some of the skills you’re working on could very well be transferable for the work you’re doing! My general stance on breaking rules is be able to justify it if you get caught. I know some people might have stricter ethical guidelines but I don’t think this rises to the level of stealing out of the till or having someone else clock you in while you’re at the beach. You’re there if you’re needed, and otherwise…eh.

      1. mrs__peel*

        “or commenting on workplace advice blogs….”

        I don’t know WHAT you’re suggesting! *loud coughing*

    2. Det. Charles Boyle*

      I work for a consulting company, too. Is there an “Overhead” charge code you can use? That’s what I’ve used when there wasn’t a specific project code to use.

      I totally sympathize with your predicament. I’m rooting for you to request and receive the ok to go to 32 hours/week!

    3. san junipero*

      I’m not totally clear: is your new role at a new organization, or did you move within your previous company? If it’s the latter, you could look into FMLA.

      If not, I support you asking your boss and seeing if you can come to some kind of agreement. The worst thing they can do is say no.

    4. LilyP*

      I’m not really sure what the “properly ethical” alternative would even be if your boss requires you to be there the whole day and doesn’t give you anything to work on. Have you been clear with your boss that you’re charging a lot of hours to training without anything in particular to do? Maybe ask her case-by-case “if there’s no more XYZ for me to do, would you rather I go home early or charge the rest of my day to training and find something to keep myself occupied here”?

    1. Kathleen_D*

      Well, to be fair, since she just applied, we don’t know how into her they are now. But knocking on their front door isn’t the way to find out!

  57. Jamie*

    Some advice for OP #1 – when I was out of work I picked up a fair bit of freelance ghost writing (Idk if I can mention the site, not affiliated with them besides using them and I’m sure there are lots more that provide the same service.)

    Anyway, there are all kinds of opportunities for beginners to get their feet wet with paid writing work. I wrote articles and blog posts on some of the most boring topics known to man, but if you’re not looking to make a fortune and are okay with seeing other people’s bylines on your work it’s a good way to get experience.

    1. Artemesia*

      This. Really really really WANTING something you ‘think you would be great at’ does not make you competitive or qualified to do it. Doing something so you have actual experience and track record of success does. So you need to figure out how to get professional writing on your resume. And absolutely don’t annoy people by marching in and demanding interviews.

  58. RussianInTexas*

    I think I got moderated, sorry for the language, was not on purpose!
    LW#2: No. No one wants your links, no one wants Fox News links, no one wants any political links. You are basically presuming that all your coworkers are uneducated brainwashed masses, and there is no way to do this without insulting people. This is proselytizing, don’t do it at work. Do not presume to “educate” people. (and I am even on your side politically).
    LW#4: y’all fine in Texas. I don’t know how is it in other states. Here it even comes in business e-mails (internally).

  59. StressedButOkay*

    OP1, I encountered a person who showed up at our work in person after submitting their resume and it was incredibly awkward. The person who they were would have worked for didn’t want to meet with them – they were busy, they weren’t scheduling interviews that day – and we had to send them away. They were immediately taken off the call back list for the first round of interviews.

    You’ll only shoot yourself in the foot and ruin any chance you have. Don’t do it!

  60. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    I have so many dialects around me, courtesy of a diverse office. I don’t notice nor care the words you use as long as I can understand what you’re saying. I’m prickly over the snobbery that comes with “proper English” when I’m surrounded by many ESL individuals. That kind of judgment really degrades people who can’t always retrain themselves to remove basic words from their vocabulary. It’s linked more to speech patterns than a conscientious choice.

    I’ve been laughed at all my life for my speech impediment as well. So I just roll my eyes at anyone who wants to nitpick over things like y’all in a conversation. It’s not ideal for written communication to clients but we structure things differently there more formally than we speak most often.

    Stop linking intelligence to speaking perfectly stylized English. Southerners aren’t less smart because of their dialect. It’s pretty offensive to any one to mock speech of others so I’m not sure why going into a “southern drawl” is funny material for others. I also don’t mock a British accent, Irish, Scottish or Australian either. People don’t like when in an American office a British person is mocked for their accent. So I don’t know why Southern accents are fair game still.

    1. Becky*

      One of the most important and memorable lessons I got out of my courses for my Editing minor in college was “clarity trumps everything”. If the meaning is clearly communicated, the words chosen are doing their job correctly.

  61. not neurotypical*

    I have a question regarding #2. I agree that the whistle blower document is already so widely available that it would seem untoward to forward it to all of one’s coworkers, especially since it has already done its job of provoking an official inquiry. But I do wonder at what point one has both the right and the obligation to ignore professional norms in the service of more important values.

    Specifically I am thinking about the concentration camps for children of people lawfully seeking asylum. As it happens, I am at a workplace where everyone already knew, was horrified, and was actively thinking about what they could do. But if I had been at the more buttoned-down workplace where I worked my way through college years ago, I do think that I might have felt compelled to make sure everyone knew that this was happening.

    Why? As I understand it, the history of the Holocaust includes a long-ish period during which more and more awful things were done to Jewish and otherwise “undesirable” people (e.g., homosexuals, people with disabilities, Roma people) while people went about their daily lives — including, presumably, following professional norms — as if this weren’t happening.

    Here in the United States and in several other countries (I am thinking especially of India’s lockdown of Kashmir at the same time as it begins building camps for the people who will be made stateless by new citizenship rules, but there are many other examples), we are seeing official behavior toward targeted groups that is already problematic and is likely to become more so if uncontested.

    At the same time, there is the escalating climate crisis, concerning which young people have rightly complained that adults keep on going about business as usual even though we all know, at some level, that people and animals and whole ecosystems will perish as a result of continued complacency.

    So, I really want to know: When is it time to set aside professional norms in order to talk honestly with some of the people you know best (the coworkers you see every day) about either of these emergencies?

    1. Allypopx*

      When your company is directly involved in human rights violations, like the recent walk-out at Wayfair.

      Professional settings need to stay professional until there is a work related reason to break that wall. Discuss your personal politics and activism with all the people in your personal life you want. It doesn’t belong in the office. You don’t actually know these people as well as you think you do, they’re putting on a workplace facade like everyone else. It’s not appropriate.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        + 100, especially your last sentence. I’ve worked for conservative companies my entire career, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had conservative colleagues say something right leaning to me thinking I’d agree with them, and then I’d sit there stonefaced until they awkwardly backed away.

        1. RussianInTexas*

          I am in a conservative state, liberal city, company founded and staffed mostly by immigrants, my immediate boss is a country-side born and raised Texan who attended a known conservative college, AND my company’s business is hurting by the trade war with China.
          No one talks politics, it’s too jumbled and confusing to presume to know who is what.

    2. RussianInTexas*

      Are coworkers really the people you know best? I say friends and family are these people, not coworkers.
      I have about 20 coworkers, and I’ve been here for almost 3 years now. Outside of literally two people, I have no idea about anyone’s political view. The office isn’t a place for this.
      If I start talking to people at work about these issues instead of, you know, work issues, I would be at least considered weird and unprofessional, and at most, fired for being weird and unprofessional.
      Also, just because your office is buttoned down and all, doesn’t mean people don’t know anything.

    3. Jennifer*

      I don’t think speaking up about what’s right is political at all and I think it’s sad that people conflate the two. Right is right and wrong is wrong. If you hear someone say something blatantly racist or xenophobic, speak up! Your coworkers who don’t feel comfortable speaking up will be grateful.

      1. Allypopx*

        I don’t think “you said something racist in front of me” and “I don’t think you’re expressing enough concern about current events” fall under the same umbrella.

        1. Jennifer*

          It can be. I hear racist dog whistles all the time and am not in a position to do much about it. The climate has changed so much in the past few years.

          1. Allypopx*

            But again that’s very different than proactively trying to ‘educate’ people without knowing their backgrounds or opinions and just assuming they are less informed than you are. That sounds very stressful but you’re confusing problematic culture with professional distance, those are different issues.

            1. Jennifer*

              I don’t think not neurotypical was talking about educating people, but “talking honestly” about issues happening in the world.

              1. Allypopx*

                Neither of which are appropriate for the workplace and neither of which are synonymous with someone saying something racist or xenophobic to you and you calling it out in the moment.

              2. Fortitude Jones*

                But again – why is there a need to do this at work? Unless you’ve been living under a rock, everyone knows what’s going on right now. If coworkers have not in any way indicated they’d be open to discussing this stuff at work, why would you feel the need to bring it up? This is not neurotypical’s issue, not her coworkers. It’s still not okay to drag people into potentially charged conversations without their consent. Talk to your friends, talk to your family, get a journal, etc. if you must talk about these things all day every day.

                1. RussianInTexas*

                  I already talk about issues with friends and my partner.
                  I really don’t want to talk about them at work as well.

                2. Allypopx*

                  “It’s still not okay to drag people into potentially charged conversations without their consent.”

                  Exactly this.

      2. RussianInTexas*

        Speaking up in the moment is different that deliberately bringing up a political issue at work.
        “Sally, what you said is homophobic and not really nice” is different from “Sally, I believe you should read this report because I don’t think you are educated enough about the protests in Hong-Kong, even though we never spoke about it before and I have no idea about your level of knowledge whatsoever”.

        1. Jennifer*

          I think not neurotypical agreed that sending people the whistleblower report or other documents would be inappropriate. What I’m talking about is not pretending that things are a lot more difficult now for certain targeted groups instead of burying your (general your) heads in the sand, which many are apt to do right now. I don’t think it’s the same thing.

          1. RussianInTexas*

            I don’t think they agreed to that: “So, I really want to know: When is it time to set aside professional norms in order to talk honestly with some of the people you know best (the coworkers you see every day) about either of these emergencies?”
            That sounds exactly as “I think the LW should send the whistler-blower report to the coworkers”, not a reaction to someone being targeted when you see it.

            1. Jennifer*

              “I agree that the whistleblower document is already so widely available that it would seem untoward to forward it to all of one’s coworkers, especially since it has already done its job of provoking an official inquiry. ” I didn’t read it that way.

            2. Allypopx*

              Also “But if I had been at the more buttoned-down workplace … I do think that I might have felt compelled to make sure everyone knew that this was happening.”

              1. RussianInTexas*

                Yes, the presumption is because the workplace is more “buttoned down” and people do not talk about politics, people are somehow less educated about current events.
                It’s just simply not true, and is insulting.

                1. Allypopx*

                  Then why do you agree that sharing the whistleblower reports would be inappropriate? It’s just sharing information, right? Your logic isn’t consistent.

                2. RussianInTexas*

                  How do you propose to do so? Do you go to people and ask “have you read the report?” out of the blue? Because this is 100% a no-go.

                3. Jennifer*

                  There’s a difference between going up to people with a report and telling them “you need to read this!” as though they haven’t already and just striking up a conversation with them about a certain topic and seeing if the conversation goes from there. I agree that it wouldn’t work in every workplace. Just having a conversation with someone is being condescending or lecturing them. I honestly don’t understand why people take it that way every time a controversial topic is raised.

                4. RussianInTexas*

                  Sorry, doesn’t seem like I can reply under your latest post for some reason, so it’s here.
                  In 3 years I’ve been here there haven’t been a single instance in my office when politics were brought up. I mean, literally. And we even talk about tariffs all the time, because they directly apply to the business. Politics don’t come up. And I am not going to be the one bringing them up.
                  This is work. Politics are for people I am close to, like friends and some family.

                5. Allypopx*

                  It’s not necessarily lecturing but it is cornering. People are expected to maintain a certain level of decorum in the workplace and these conversations can be emotional, triggering, enraging, all sorts of things. If you don’t know someone’s circumstances, which you likely don’t with coworkers even if you think you do, it’s not appropriate.

                6. Jennifer*

                  I’m just irritated by the fact that most people outside of my community, at work or otherwise, don’t want to hear about the “controversial” topics that affect me greatly. I’ve experienced that personally very recently and that’s why this topic is raw for me. We probably aren’t going to agree so it’s best we drop it.

                7. Jennifer*

                  @RussianInTexas Human rights violations, racism, xenophobia, etc. imo shouldn’t be considered simply political issues. It’s so frustrating to be told you can’t talk about certain topics because they are “political” when for me they are just life. But as I told Allypopx, we probably won’t agree, so I’m going to drop it.

                8. Emi.*

                  There’s a huge difference between not wanting to hear about an issue and not wanting to hear about it *at work*.

    4. Green great dragon*

      I don’t think ‘talking honestly’ to raise awareness is ever going to be acceptable unless someone is asking you questions – your colleagues can educate themselves as others have said.

      I think what you can do, at least in some cases, is consider whether there is anything your workplace could reasonably be doing. Like, don’t send people links to climate statistics, but if there’s no recycling at work, you can ask the office manager to provide recycling. Don’t send links about citizenship rules changes, but if you’re in a law firm, maybe there could be a pro bono project to provide advice or write a leaflet or something.

    5. CMart*

      How are you picturing this going?

      I’m Accountant CMart, settling in from my commute and setting up my laptop. You come up to me and say… what? “Good morning, are you aware the government has been separating children from their families, babies as young as 4 months old from their nursing mothers, when they attempt to seek asylum at our southern border?”

      And what do you expect the response to be? I would look at you in some kind of pre-coffee stupor, totally baffled about why you’re bringing this up to me. “Yes, I get the news. It’s terrible. Excuse me, I have to check my e-mail.”

      What am I supposed to be doing right now? I’m a bean counter, not director of the EPA. I’ll conspicuously slurp from my well loved reusable metal water bottle if that will make you feel better. I would absolutely not tell you about how my sister’s husband was picked up in an incredibly shady ICE roundup a couple weeks ago, an as he was the sole income earner it left my sister and my 2 year old and 6 day old nieces in a horrible, terrible situation just to assure you that I’m very, very well aware of what’s happening outside our walls. That information is reserved for people I know and trust, of which “coworker interrogating me about my knowledge of national and world events” is not part of.

        1. CMart*

          I would actually love a castle to storm, in a productive way. If there was an organized thing to be done (idk, liberating an ICE detention center and somehow caring for all those people + getting their families back together?) I will be there.

          But short of there being an opportunity for @not neurotypical to stand on a chair and call out “people are gathering outside to form a human wall to stop the loggers from destroying Fern Gully! We can make a difference, come on, everyone!” I’m really, really not sure what making sure your colleagues are “informed” will achieve. An honest conversation with Zach in Marketing about sea level rise and the collapse of ecosystems is only going to give me a panic attack and make the NPV analysis he’s waiting on from me to be late.

          1. Isabel C Kunkle*

            Yep. I was in an office around 2017-2018 where discreet “hey I’m going to Protest March X tonight if anyone wants to come/hear more about it” things happened, and I don’t object to that if handled well (mentioned briefly, once, with no power imbalance). But that was a specific action people could take, whereas what am I going to do if I read the report right now and agree with the OP? “Gee, that guy sure does suck, which I somehow haven’t realized for three years. I guess I’ll…continue to see what happens but Feel Some Ways about it!”

  62. Jennifer*

    #2 How are you so certain that your coworkers have not read these documents? I thought the tone of your letter was a bit condescending.

    1. RussianInTexas*

      Very much so. I am politically on the LW2 side, and I would give them a serious side-eye if I got this in the e-mail or in the work chat.
      Just because we don’t talk about it at work doesn’t mean I am not educated about current issues.

      1. RUKiddingMe*

        This. With the exception if certain jobs, mostly in DC, work for this kind of thing.

        Like you I am very much on the OO’s side politically, however I am *cheering from the privacy of not at work.

        If I were to receive this I would be annoyed at both the presumption about how well I’m informed/understand as well as OP thinking it’s a-ok to evangelize their pov at work…any point of view.

        *I’m also kind of …maybe unreasonably… giddy at the thought of the irony of the phrase “lock them up.”

        1. RussianInTexas*

          Yes, I understand the desire to say I TOLD YOU SO to everyone. But no. You can’t. Not at work.

          1. Caitlin Burrows*

            Yes. This. I live in Canada but was born in the States so sometimes at work there was a brief, “The US, amirite?” I’d reply with a flippant remark about how I’m so glad everyone and everything I love is in the blue states, otherwise I wouldn’t go back and we’d move on. I wouldn’t want to get into a whole dissertation and I wouldn’t have continued the conversation if it was clear that’s what we were doing. Work is not the time or place for those big political debates.

  63. Dasein9*

    When I first took Ancient Greek, my prof was a newly-minted, buttoned-up ivy grad. When I demonstrated I could recognize the difference between singular and plural second-person by using “y’all,” he about choked on his laughter.

    “And y’all, sons of Sparta, have formed a phalanx none can break. Y’all’s deeds this day will live in song!”

    1. juliebulie*

      Reading that, I heard Gomer Pyle’s voice in my head. (I love “y’all” and I love Gomer, but wasn’t expecting that.)

    2. F.M.*

      Ha! He may have laughed, but my prim and soft-spoken Latin prof who passionately believed one should never split an infinitive or end a sentence with a preposition in English taught us all “y’all” was the appropriate way to translate the second person plural. (Or, if one wanted to be very formal, “you all.”) I teach it to my students in Latin now, too. It makes so much more sense than struggling for clarity because we want to be posh in a classroom, instead of focusing on learning.

  64. All Y'All*

    I work in fundraising at a large public university. I hired an entry-level associate who frequently used “y’all” in correspondence as well as spoken communication. I found it very affected and annoying. For context, I am in an urban area in a border state, they were from the midwestern state nearby, and I am from the actual south. It felt like this person was appropriating my culture, and being overly familiar/casual for the workplace.

      1. ACDC*

        I know people who say y’all that have never lived in the South, and I always assume they must be big country music fans or something like that. I also don’t think y’all is restricted to just the South in this day and age. Appropriation is definitely a bit much for this. Can I say it’s bollocks or is that appropriating British culture?

    1. juliebulie*

      I grew up in MA and live there now, but I lived in the south for over a decade in between. Can I continue using “y’all,” or do I need to apply with some agency or bureau for permission ?

      1. Jennifer*

        You are approved! I am Princess of the Southern Legacy Association and fast-tracked your application.

    2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      My family is all from the Midwest and we use y’all occasionally. It seems to be a small town or farm people thing in our case.

  65. Not susan*

    I’m in PA and under 40. I find “y’all” to be too informal for work in most scenarios. While I know I’m in the minority I also find it to sound uneducated at times. When my southern client of a year used it in conversation I didn’t feel it sounded uneducated or informal because we were being less formal, and I think with familiarity usage of colloquialisms is more common.

  66. Det. Charles Boyle*

    To OP #5, I was in a similar boat 10 years ago and worked up my courage to ask my supervisor to go to 32 hours/week. I knew it would be a 20% pay cut but it was still within my budget. My boss ok’d it, after confirming that I could still perform the tasks within the necessary time frames. And it has been awesome. I usually take every Friday off, although this schedule also allows me the flexibility to make up time on Fridays if I need to, for doctor’s appointments, etc. My supervisor has been fine with it — I’m a high performer and could probably go to 24 hours with no cut in my work output (b/c there’s just not a lot to do at my job, sadly). But I will probably never quit this job b/c the hours are so great, I love my coworkers, and the work is tolerable.

    Just ask. The worst they can say is “No” and you’re no worse off. And if they say Yes, then you can start looking for other options and maybe switch fields to something that works better for you!

  67. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

    LW 2: If you’re thinking/saying that you want to do this with a “veneer” of impartiality, that means you know that pushing people to read the whistleblower documents is a political act.

    There have been times, the last few years, when I’ve said “stop. We seem to be violently in agreement,” because yes I agreed with the person about what they were excitedly arguing, but I needed to reduce my stress on that topic, or at that time.

    I have already called my Congresswoman’s office this morning. That doesn’t mean I want to focus on politics for the next 12 hours: there is (non-political) work to be done, and crocuses to plant. The days when it seems as though everything is political, are also the ones when I really want to take a break and think about my garden, or the Ursula Vernon children’s book I just read.

  68. PJ*

    For LW1 –

    Obviously Alison’s advice about not showing up in person is correct.

    What you could potentially do is create a faux article (or two, or three) in the style that the company uses/publishes. The point is to show them how you think, how you write, and that you’re able to create/edit/produce good copy quickly.

    Then you could send that to the hiring manager/editor – I might do that one on paper versus email.

    That might deliver the extra “see what I can do” without crossing any boundaries.

    1. Fortitude Jones*

      If they didn’t ask for this, it is in fact pushing boundaries. If the company wants additional writing samples from the OP, they’ll ask her for them.

  69. nowriternocry*

    As a hiring manager who recently posted a writing role for a local entertainment company, I concur: good lord, please do not show up here.

    1. Mainely Professional*

      Good luck and godspeed hiring that. I expect, like with the roles I fill, a full 50% of your applicants will be like the LW, no real clips, no experience, and have “loved reading/writing since [whenever].”

  70. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

    #2 reminded me of something that happened at an OldJob during the 2008 election season. I decided that, this being a historic election, and my younger son being 13 and extremely interested in the intricacies of it all, that he and I should go to both candidates’ rallies. (Something I’d be afraid to do in 2020, so I’m happy that I did it when I did it.) Both came to our city within a week of each other. With one candidate, it was easy, it was a large open public area and you just showed up. But the other had his rally held at a high school and you had to get tickets to get in. I stupidly asked a coworker on my team what to be prepared for, how to get in with a ticket, what to bring and what not to bring (somehow round fruit was not allowed…) and so on. He gave me a short and informative answer, I thanked him and went back to my desk, imagine my surprise when he showed up in my cube five minutes later with a large binder, that he’d apparently assembled and carried around with him, full of newspaper clippings and printouts against Candidate 1! (who my family had planned to vote for.) It was awkward. He was very excited and prepared to talk about it at length as he opened his binder and placed it on my desk. I told him “there’s been a miscommunication, we are actually voting for him”, coworker silently closed the binder and left. It was so bizarre. Don’t be that guy, OP2. Believe me that it is possible to be that guy no matter which side you’re on.

  71. Aphrodite*

    OP #2, there is so much good advice and wisdom above that I hardly feel I can add much to it except for my personal choices.

    About thirty years ago I gave up television completely. I sold the set and as this was pre-Internet (or very, very early) and I did not listen to the radio I pretty much got left out of everything. Not only did I not know what the latest Cheers episode concerned I didn’t know all the crime and politics and awfulness that news loves. I might still subscribed to the Los Angeles Times then but I recall skipping a lot of the first two or three pages.

    I still do not own a television. I avoid all news online and, well, newspapers, those are pretty well all gone or simply bad so not worth reading anything in them. I have never seen images of 9/11, have no idea what entertainment is on television, and have found that being out of it in certain areas has given me a genuinely happy life. I do not feel frustrated or angry about anything in politics (though I do vote and did watch the primary debates online). I do not feel afraid to step out my door (because local news has convinced me that nothing good is out there). I help make real changes in my local area. I am not burned out. I know the world is full of good people and good relationships and good deeds. I am not a Pollyanna but I am involved and committed and happy and love to make a difference. I can think globally but I can only act locally. So I do. I may be one of those you despair of but I feel I make a greater difference in cats’ and humans’ lives by what I do in my own corner of the world than by knowing all the information about things I can do nothing about.

    If you believe me ignorant then feel free to do so. But if my happiness and commitment are ignorant then please, leave me in it.

  72. dreamingofthebeach*

    I use y’all so much, my autocorrect now changes “tall” to “y’all”! Keep spreading that Southern Sunshine, Y’all!!

  73. AnonAndFrustrated*

    “Y’all” severely grates on my nerves and I would never use it in professional work/office communication. It seems way too informal, hokey almost. I side with the OP’s husband.

    For the OP wanting to go PT: ask for it! I wouldn’t put a timeline on it either. I did this many yrs ago at a prior job that was also horrible for my mental health & it you can’t believe how much of a difference those 10 hrs make. That’s 10 precious hours a week you don’t have to be at a soul-sucking job and can do other things for yourself; 10 hours you don’t have to put up with coworker or management idiocy; 10 hours you can spend looking for other jobs. Especially if you still get benefits at 30 hrs & can afford it, there’s no reason not to do this.

    1. Richard Hershberger*

      Hokey? Arguably the case, when a non-Southerner uses it. From a Southerner? There is nothing hokey about a person speaking his or her native dialect.

  74. Okumura Haru*

    LW# 4 – I’m from the upper midwest, and currently living in the southwest. I say “uff da” – also regional slang – a lot, and nobody has ever given me grief for it. Y’all is totally fine at work. It’s part of your background.

    1. ACDC*

      What does “uff da” mean? I’ve never heard that before, or maybe I’m having a hard time imagining it in context.

      1. Okumura Haru*

        It’s an interjection. It’s typically used as a reaction to something larger, shocking or more difficult than expected – IE “Uff Da, I ate too much” or, “Uff Da, I’m sorry to hear that”.

        1. Okumura Haru*

          It’s a VERY Scandinavian-midwest thing. It’s mostly from the Dakotas/Minnesota/Wisconsin, and rarely heard outside of those areas.

  75. Dagny*

    LW2: ” I’m bothered at the idea of my coworkers not being up to speed on this, or getting all their news about it filtered through pundits when the actual source documents are short, digestible, and publicly available.”

    Oh, good grief. People are free to chose their own sources, determine what they spend their time caring about, and do not need you managing their brains for them.

    1. London Calling*

      +1000. I’m in the UK and I am avoiding the news because it’s a shit-show that no-one comes out of well. If a colleague told me I should be interested or offered to point me in the direction of source document because they ‘think I ought to be informed’ they’d get very short shrift.

  76. Sara Butter*

    I have never commented before, but I have to on the y’all thing.
    I’m from deep East Texas. I couldn’t not say y’all if I tried. I have taught English to adults. I teach ESL and regular Language Arts.
    I wouldn’t even know how to not say it. I know it is noticeable to people who are from areas where it’s not said, but, seriously, it’s like breathing. The same with “fixin to”. I try to catch myself on that one, but it’s just how we speak. It’s out of my mouth, and I don’t even realize what I’ve said. The only time I did was when an old boyfriend from California used to always ask what I was fixing. Even then, it took me a moment to process what he was making fun of me for.
    Granted, social work is the closest I have ever come to working in an office setting, but me not saying y’all would be like me not saying any of the other words I have typed.
    Where I live, it’s a word. When writing, I can catch it because I see it, but talking. It’s like breathing. I don’t even know what I would say in place of it! :-)

    1. 42 towels*

      I picked up “y’all” in East Texas. Were they putting me on that the plural is “all y’alls”?

  77. alittlehelpplease*

    “can be considered a modern equivalent to “thou,” since it used to address several people at one time”

    Thou (subject), thee (objective), thy (adjective), thine (possessive adjective) and thyself (reflexive) were singular. You was plural.

  78. WFH it is!*

    I was going to suggest exactly this, as well.

    I wouldn’t ask to go part time at all, Instead I’d ask to work from home a couple of days.. and exercise, listen to music, whatever else you need to do on those days. Also ask permission to go to medical appointments during work time (telling the frequency) …

  79. Carrie*

    I argue that, as a contraction of “you all,” it is correct English and can be considered a modern equivalent to “thou,” since it used to address several people at one time.

    That’s exactly backwards. “Thou/thee” is the singular form, which fell out of use because people started using the plural to be polite. It’s like tu/vous in French or du/Sie in German.

  80. Richard Hershberger*

    “I’m a big fan of “y’all” as a gender-neutral plural in writing…”

    All English second person personal pronouns are gender-neutral. That’s not an issue. The point of “y’all” is that in Standard English the only choice, “you,” is both singular and plural. This was not always the case. Five hundred years ago the second person singular pronoun was “thou.” This survives in a few English dialects, but is long gone from Standard English. People started using “you” when speaking to their social superiors, like “vous” in French. “You” gradually worked its way down the social ladder, completely displacing “thou.” (Using “thou” to speak to God was deliberately familiar, as one would to a close relative. It survived, largely misunderstood, because that’s what religious language does.) The history of “you” as exclusively plural survives in the accompanying verb form: “You are” rather than “You is,” even when singular.

    The resulting single form sometimes presents a problem. Usually context makes clear whether the use is singular or plural, but sometimes it doesn’t. So various new forms arose. There are some parts of the country where the dialectal plural form is “youse.” The difference is that “y’all” caught on in the South even among the educated classes, while “youse” has always been exclusively working class. This opened up the space for “y’all” to be more broadly used, but it still has a distinctly Southern air to it.

    In colloquial speech it is fine. I occasionally use it, and I am not Southern. Don’t use it in formal writing. The day may come, but it is not yet Standard English.

    1. Dahlia*

      Allison means compared to things like “Ladies and gentlemen,” “Guys and gals”, etc, which are very much not gender neutral.

  81. AnonConsultant*

    #5: If you are at a firm with 80k people, it likely has an option similar to PwC’s Talent Exchange, which is a platform for leveraging contract workers on consulting engagement teams. Check this out as an option to stay engaged and set your preferred hours and type of work. Not sure if we can post links here, but easily findable in a web search. I’m considering switching from full time to this type of work to manage my own work life balance.

  82. Dahlia*

    LW1: I know this isn’t exactly what you came here for, but please don’t put your short story on your resume. One, it’s not super relevant for this type of writing – creative writing and this are rather different. Two, as much as I’m happy for you… it’s kind of meaningless.

    Like I’m 100% sure you worked very hard! And you should be proud of it! But anyone can publish on Kindle. Unless you have numbers that are extremely high, there’s nothing setting you aside from Joe Schmoe from Idaho who self-published his potato memoir full of grammar errors and rambling rants about deer so his grandma could read it.

    Good luck!

  83. Making an assumption*

    #2 – Are you spending all day listening to people quote pundits and have conversations about these stories out of context? Then I do understand your frustration. But there’s nothing you can do. I had an office mate who liked to tell me and others repeatedly that it’s not climate change, it’s climate cycling and it’s perfectly normal and we can’t do anything about it. If I had given her a stack of documents 10 ft high that are all science-based research on what is happening right now with climate change, it would have just prompted “Well, we just have different views”. Which I hate! It’s not like our opinions are set in stone! But the workplace is not the setting for this type of conversation.

  84. Fiddlesticks*

    I’m a born-and-bred Southerner (lived there for 30 years) and have now resided in the beautiful Pacific Northwest for 22 years. “Y’all” is fine in informal conversation, but DO NOT, please Gawd for the love of little baby Jeezus, use “Y’all” as an opening salutation in an email or letter, or, in fact, use it in written work correspondence at all. It’s just not professional and it WILL probably make you look hick and uneducated to a large percentage of the people you work with.

  85. RainbowBrite*

    I think “y’all” is regional and audience dependent. In my office, the only person who said it was from Louisiana and it definitely stuck out because no one else said it.

  86. All Outrage, All The Time*

    Those of us outside the US are highly unlikely to use “ya’ll” in an email. I’ve never received it in an email from US based colleagues or stakeholders, either. It’s fine to code switch in a professional environment. I’d find it very odd if someone opened a business email with “ya’ll”.

    I might (and probably will now) use it in an email to the social club or asking if anyone wants to go to the pub after work, but not for standard business correspondence. A lot of group correspondence doesn’t even need a salutation past “Good morning/afternoon” for things that have external stakeholders or that need a more formal tone, or “Hi all” for internal comms and less formal messages.

  87. Director of Alpaca Exams*

    Being that pedant: thou is singular. You began as plural, and took on the singular meaning as thou fell out of favor. Like you, y’all occupies a liminal singular/plural space depending on how it’s used. (All y’all is good for specifying plurality.)

    I think its work-appropriateness depends on where you work, geographically as well as in an industry sense. I’m on the East Coast and here y’all sounds like either a Southernism or Black English. It’s entered my vocabulary because my partner is from the South, but I use it very sparingly because the rest of my language is 100% Noo Yawk and I don’t want to look like I’m appropriating Black colloquialisms.

    If a colleague who uses it as a native speaker were to put it in a work email, it would read as casual but not inappropriate in most cases. A coworker writing “Hey y’all, I left some brownies in the break room, enjoy”: totally unremarkable. HR writing “Have y’all made your hotel reservations for our annual corporate retreat?”: a bit surprising. The CEO saying “As y’all know by now, we’re undergoing some restructuring and unfortunately that has resulted in the closure of two departments”: shockingly tone-deaf.

    My sense is that in places where y’all is commonly used, the second usage would be unremarkable and the third would be a bit eyebrow-raising but not necessarily beyond the pale. I defer to native speakers on that, though.

  88. Anono-me*


    If LWOP is possible, does it make sense to go to your boss and ask about taking it on a short term regular basis? Maybe every Wednesday afternoon for the next two months ,unless the workload picks up first?

    ( If LWOP is an option, please make sure that you understand how taking LWOP will impact your benefits.)

  89. Caitlin Burrows*

    This doesn’t really fall under the no politics at work thing, but I thought it might help: it’s not the Ukraine, it’s just Ukraine. There’s no definitive article in the Ukrainian language. Also, Russia has referred to the country as such during Soviet times. It considers itself to be its own country now so the “The” is dropped.

  90. Aoifs*

    When I first moved to California in 2015 (from the UK) I thought “y’all” was hilarious because I could only envision the Texan cowboy saying it, but (I think from the gender neutral usage) it’s used at university’s constantly. It’s now replaced “guys” in my own vocabulary completely accidentally!

  91. Trishka*

    One small correction about thou – LW has it backwards. “Thou” used to be the singular 2nd person (just the person you are talking to) while “you” used to just be plural 2nd person / formal 2nd person (y’all or You Higher-Ranking Person – think vous in French). (for those still struggling with “they” as a singular third person, that usage is actually older than singular “you”)

  92. Beth*

    From what I could see skimming the comments, most of the people saying “y’all is fine” are from the South.

    I’m not, and I have the sad news that ‘”y’all” is definitely not fine in some parts of the country. The negative stereotype associated with Southern colloquialisms isn’t dead; if anything, the political climate has made it stronger.

    Negative stereotypes aren’t fair. It would be a wonderful world if we didn’t have to worry about them, if there wasn’t any risk of subliminal negative impressions being accidentally generated by certain colloquialisms. But we aren’t in that world.

    If you are not in the southern US, and your co-workers don’t use that expression, don’t assume that you can use it without invoking a negative response in some people. The more formal the situation, the worse an impression it will make.

  93. OpsAmanda*

    For the first question, I wonder if it’s okay to call the HR person at the company. It can be framed as wanting to make sure they received your resume and wanting to know if they have any questions about it. At a previous position, I had a boss who loved when applicants “took initiative” to reach out to ask about their application and learn more about the company. Although, it can also be seen as annoying, especially when the people in charge of hiring really don’t have time to field random phone calls.

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