coworkers say “I love you,” how to answer the phone for an interview, and more

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

1. Coworkers say “I love you”

I’ve noticed lately that newer hires are saying “I love you” to each other as official farewells (as in replacing “goodbye”) even for minor things like leaving meetings. The first time it happened, I thought it was a one-off between friends, but now I am hearing it increasingly often, even across genders. Today I overheard a junior coworker thank a company partner who had helped him out on a project, and the younger started with something like, “I love you, and I really appreciate you helping me with…..”

This seems bizarre to me and comes off as really false, but I’m not sure if I’m out of touch. I’m in a somewhat traditionally conservative field (think finance or accounting), and we aren’t exactly known for our free spirits. Is this normal and/or expected now? Has someone been coaching college students to say “I love you” to bolster sincerity in the workplace? (It’s only the younger folks I’m hearing it from. I talked to a coworker about it yesterday and we hypothesized that it was maybe a holdover from sorority/fraternity life?)

You’re not out of touch — it’s weird. And if they’re starting to say it to company partners (meaning people outside your company), it’s going to make someone uncomfortable pretty quickly, if it hasn’t already done so internally.

I’m not surprised it’s mainly younger people doing it — it sounds very much like they just haven’t picked up on what’s fine for school and friends but not for work. Ideally someone senior to them in your company would let them know that it’s great that they have warm feelings toward colleagues, but they should stop the love declarations, which aren’t generally done at work. That someone could potentially be you!

If you’re worried it would be overstepping to tell them to cut it out, it’s more than fine to tell them to stop. It’s introducing a weird element into your culture and probably making at least some other people feel uncomfortable (particularly if they feel expected to vocalize the sentiment in return).

2. How should I answer the phone for phone interviews?

When answering my phone for a phone interview, should I just say “Hello?” Do I need to use a more professional greeting (like “this is Jane”)? Does it matter at all?

“Hello” is fine (as in no one is going to hold it against you), but “this is Jane” is better. It tells the interviewer right off the bat that they have the right person, and it sounds more polished and professional.

Occasionally I call someone for a (scheduled) phone interview and they sound almost surprised to get the call, as if they weren’t expecting it. The more you signal “it’s me and I”m prepared for this call,” the better.

3. Our office moved — and we got stuck moving everything ourselves

I work as a therapist at a small but successful agency, and this past weekend our branch moved from individual offices in one building to an office suite in a different building in the same complex. Our boss asked the employees at our branch to “help” with the move on a day we all had off, and to bring our partners if they were available. None of us questioned pitching in to help since we were so excited to finally have a better space, but it turned out that “helping” meant that no movers were hired, no trucks or vans were rented, and we were expected to do everything. It took over four hours, and we all used our personal vehicles to do the work. My coworkers and I are conflict-adverse and people-pleasing so we didn’t ask for anything in return at first, but now we’re angry and bitter about the unpaid labor. How do we ask our bosses to compensate us and our partners?

If you were non-exempt, it would be very easy to argue this was work time (because it unquestionably was) and you needed to be paid for it (which the law would require). But as a therapist you’re probably exempt, which means it’s going to be a harder sell. You can try though! You could say, “We had assumed professional movers would be handling the move, and we were just there for any odds and ends that needed to be handled. Since we ended up doing the entire move ourselves, and giving up a Saturday for it along with our partners, we’d like to be compensated for it. Professional movers would have cost about $X and we’d like to split that Y ways among the Y of us who did the work.”

There’s a decent chance your employer won’t agree to this, but it’s worth asking. If nothing else, it’ll make the point that this wasn’t communicated well enough ahead of time. (For what it’s worth, I can see how your employer might have thought it was clear “helping” meant “doing the actual move” and assumed you were fine with it when you agreed to show up and didn’t push back. That doesn’t make it okay or reasonable — it’s not — but it sounds like there was a surprising lack of communication on both sides.)

4. My boss at my second job signs me up for work without asking

I work a full-time demanding job, but will occasionally teach a college course in the same industry at night. I enjoy teaching and believe in the school’s mission but I’m becoming frustrated with my boss there.

He’s very disorganized and offers little to no support which I don’t love but can live with. The problem is that he’ll sign me up to teach or to help coach students without asking (or sometimes after I’ve explicitly said no) and then attempt to guilt and pressure me into agreeing to take it on.

This is driving me nuts. I don’t want to turn my back on a public school working to diversify my very homogenous industry, but I’m sick of finding my name on upcoming course lists I didn’t agree to. What can I say to let him know that he needs to check with me before assuming I can take on another course? Everything I’ve drafted has let my general frustration about the situation boil over.

“I’ve been finding myself assigned to teach courses I haven’t said yes to, and sometimes after I’ve said no to them. Before you assign me to any course, I need to explicitly check and see if I can make it work. Can you ensure you check with with me ahead of time on each one, and hold off on assigning any to me until I explicitly let you know it’s a go? Otherwise we end up with me scheduled for things I can’t do, which then causes more work for you.”

And then really stick to it. If you get signed up for something you didn’t agree to, contact him immediately and say you can’t do it. If you give in even once, he’ll learn it’s a reasonable thing to keep trying … whereas if it never works, he’ll probably learn to stop doing it.

5. Should a resume note your degree was received online?

My coworker received her degree from an accredited university through their online program. She is wondering if she needs to point out, on her resume that the degree was received online. It is obvious when looking at the college vs. the city she lived in during that time. Think University of Kansas while living in Vermont.

Nope, she doesn’t need to note that she attended online. Your resume just needs to have the institution name and the degree received. If you graduated pretty recently, you might include the graduation year as well. But that’s it!

(Obviously if she’s asked about it, she shouldn’t be coy about it! But there’s no expectation that you’ll include an “online” disclaimer or anything like that.)

{ 532 comments… read them below }

  1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    I am fascinated and eager to hear more about #1 (no ok boomering, please). Saying you appreciate when someone did X or how they do Y sounds thoughtful. But saying “I love you” as a salutation sounds so cult-y.

    1. Gaia*

      I think for some people saying a quick “I love you” as part of a greeting or parting takes the place of “I appreciate you.” I’ve seen this particularly with my age group and younger.

      It isn’t universal, of course – nothing is, but I suspect this is part of the newer generations being more openly expressive.

      1. Devil Fish*

        Agree that it’s a younger generation thing. I’m an older millennial and I mostly see it in the under 30 crowd, but I’ve never seen people do it at work unless they’re pretty close with the specific coworker they’re talking to. (Or if the job is a toxic hellscape, like the place I worked where management constantly said “I appreciate you!” despite all evidence.)

        My partner and I say “I love you” with friends all the time and it’s not weird to us but our older relatives who hear us on the phone are always like “Were you on the phone with [partner]? What?! But what does [partner] think of that?!” So strange.

        1. The Original K.*

          I’m an older millennial too and I have friends with whom I exchange “I love yous” at the end of conversations, like “OK, I gotta go. Love you!” I don’t do this with everyone though – just my closest friends. And I DO love them. (My best friend’s daughter heard us say it once, which led to a really nice conversation about the different kinds of love there are.) I would neeeeeeeever say this at work, ever, because like Anastasia Beaverhousen says below, I don’t love my coworkers. I just don’t. I’m … not supposed to? I would be really creeped out if someone said this to me at work. I don’t even know how I’d respond. “I don’t love you back!”

          1. daffodil*

            Also an older millenial. I DO love some of my coworkers, but I don’t say it in those words. Sometimes I say stuff like “thanks for being awesome!” or “I’m glad we get to work together” or “you’re the best”. I feel like the L-word at work would make it weird.

          2. Indigo a la mode*

            I (27yo) *do* love my coworkers, but there’s a time and a place and work isn’t it. I’d say at the VERY most, doing someone a favor with a joking “You’re lucky I love you” is mostly okay. Generally we show affection more in appreciative words and kudos for tasks well done, like daffodil said.

            I also feel like there’s a significant difference between an over-your-shoulder “love ya!” and actually saying “I love you.” (Not that I would do either at work.)

          1. Bookworm1858*

            Yep, I would (and do) say this to friends as a millennial; can’t even imagine saying it to my work bff, partly because I know she would hate it but also because of the work optics.

        2. Ophelia*

          Same, pretty much all around. I did ACCIDENTALLY say it once when I was ending a phone call at work, but thankfully it was with a co-worker who is a friend, and while she thought it was hilarious, she wasn’t weirded out by it. I have a few co-workers who are actually very close friends at this point (we’ve worked together for over a decade, and basically grew up together), but even in that circumstance, we don’t say “I love you” at work.

          1. Pretzelgirl*

            I remember this was a pretty popular phrase in college. In a place where you get extremely close with your friends, because you live, go to class and party with them. They became a lot like family. My guess is that they are so used to it, they can’t break the habit.

            1. ligirl*

              I want to mention that in some jobs you end up working, partying, and sometimes even living with your coworkers (the tech bro culture is…something else). It’s not indicative of a healthy culture or one that supports good work life balance, so the LW may want to take a look at whether this is a symptom of a larger “my work is my life” culture at their company. And Alison’s advice still stands regardless. “I love yous” aren’t appropriate in any but the most toxic work cultures

        3. Environmental Compliance*

          Am older? millenial as well, and my close friends and I do this. We joke that we’re all adopted siblings.

          At work… I think the closest I’ve gotten is a joking “but you know you loooooooooove me” when I turn in something that needs a signature or whatever.

        4. Jules the 3rd*

          X here. I say ‘love you’ to my six closest friends regularly, and maybe 2 – 4 other people if they’re having a tough time. It weirds one of them out a little.

          I don’t think this is a good thing to do at work.

          I could maybe see it back in the tech support job where we all ended up hanging out at the gay bar later (we recruited from there too…), but as the only female tech in a team of 12 and a team lead, nah. I am conservative about work relationships (I didn’t date co-workers, the companies were too small), so I’m open to the thought that other people can do it differently and it can work out (co-workers at my current larger company date ok), but it’s risky, and I’m not good enough to make it work. Given all the ‘clique!’ and ‘left out’ questions we see here, I think few are.

        5. Emily K*

          Fellow elder millennial – the tone makes all the difference. Exclaiming, “omg, I love you!” or “and this is why I love you” when someone goes out of their way to do you a solid is different than gazing into someone’s eyes and saying, “I love you,” apropos nothing. The former are understood as something like ironic hyperbole (which our generation really does make an art out of in the best. way. ever.) rather than a sincere expression of your feelings.

          1. Librarianne*

            Another elder(?) millennial here. There are exactly 2 people at work with whom I have a close enough relationship to joke about “loving” them, and even then it’s normally said in a sarcastic way after dumping an annoying project on someone’s lap. I would find it extremely off-putting coming from anyone else.

        6. Bunny*

          Older millenial here and…

          I mean I have a handful of very close friends who I feel like I *would* say it to, but it’s always tossed out casual with a “luv ya, bro” kind of inflection. I say “I love you” to family, I cannot IMAGINE saying it to a coworker. I’m emotionally open with my friends, but The L Word feels like something special, you know?

          I also get weirded out by people who put xx on the end of every text or message regardless of subject matter. I’ve noticed exactly 2 groups who do this – horny millenial guys and Older Women I’m Related To (not saying other folks don’t do it, just I’ve never been on the receiving end of a string of “what did you get up to over the weekend x” from anyone else).

          To me, there’s a difference between being generally affectionate/emotionally open and these sort of specific gestures. I almost wonder if it’s something they were coached into, reading the way it’s worded in the letter. “I love you and I appreciate X” seems like something I can see a Very Bad Communication Skills Coach suggesting. I wonder if these younger staff members are receiving training or some sort of seminars or something together that’s suggesting weird stuff like this.

      2. Amethystmoon*

        They need to be careful with whom they use that greeting, as it could easily be misinterpreted and someone could get sent to HR for it.

      3. I Gotta Go*

        My bosses and I say it to each other after delivering bad news as a don’t shoot the messenger thing. But we have a healthy dynamic and shared cynical sensibilities so it works for us.

        1. Crooked Bird*

          I can definitely picture this, and it’s a fun picture. My husband and I say it similarly in a squeaky little “meep! don’t kill me!” voice when revealing little screwups to each other.

        2. Heather*

          My boss and other managers and I all do this too occasionally- mostly as you say, in a “don’t shoot the messenger” kind of way. Or if we just had a challenging discussion, but it had a good end that worked out well, we might end with a “love ya, bye” as kind of a reassuring, all’s good now type of thing. (I work in a field that involves really tough and sometimes emotional discussions on at least a weekly basis.) We also have a healthy dynamic though and have worked together for quite awhile at this point. I can’t see doing it just as a daily way of saying goodbye though- that seems weird!

      4. Katertot*

        I work with college students and I’ve noticed recently a lot of ‘I appreciate you’, but not ‘I love you’ (yet anyway and hopefully never). I do think it’s odd to use I love you in a professional setting regularly. The only exception I can see is when someone does a huge favor, gets you out of a bind, brings you coffee (this could also be counted as a huge favor at least to me!)

        1. Amy Farrah Fowler*

          Many of my coworkers say “I appreciate you”, usually in relation to something that you did that helped them out. I really like it. It feels like you appreciate the person, not just the fact that they did something for you.

          1. Environmental Compliance*

            ^ I do the “appreciate you” thing and try to do it routinely. I’ve found it helps a lot with building relationships at work. And it conveys better that I am truly appreciative of whatever it was they did than a ‘thank you’. Of course I don’t do it with everything, but for things that are out of normal job duty zone or were more difficult or took more time etc, I’ll definitely do it.

            I’ve noticed more people doing here too. Mwahahahahhaa!

          2. Jules the 3rd*

            Do you / they use exactly that phrase? It seems stilted and awkward to me.

            I have used, ‘Thank you so much for X. It’s part of the great job you do supporting Y’ but I’d have a hard time just saying ‘I appreciate you!’

            1. Indigo a la mode*

              Naw, “I appreciate you!” is totally cheery and/or affectionate when said lightly. Personally I think “It’s part of the great job you do supporting Y” sounds awfully formal.

            2. Not Rebee*

              It’s more of a sign-off phrase. Like how you’d go “thanks again!” as you walked away from a convo, you could just go “I appreciate you!”

        2. TiffanyAching*

          Yes, the only times I’ve heard “I love you” in a work setting was either in response to a favor/generous gesture, or in a joking/wheedling way.
          For example, my coworker was working frantically on a large project close to deadline and was very stressed; I went out and bought her her favorite coffee drink. Her response was something along the lines of “Oh my god, thank you, I love you so much right now.”

          1. Duchess Conseula Banana Hammock*

            This is exactly the sort of thing that ran through my head. I can’t imagine saying “Okay, heading out for the day, love you!” but definitely have used it in that sort of context.

      5. KayDeeAye (formerly Kathleen_A)*

        I don’t think this is an age thing. I think it’s a “Haven’t yet figured out how things work at work” thing. Admittedly I am a boomer, but I definitely have friends (and family, of course) who I say “Love you!” too.

        But you don’t say that to people you work with. You just don’t. This seems so simple to me that I am baffled as to why anybody thinks it’s a good idea. I expect that they aren’t thinking – that they’re just saying it reflexively to anybody they’re reasonably fond of. But they truly need to cut it the heck out.

      6. NotAnotherManager!*

        Ugh, I find, “I appreciate you” almost as forced as work I love yous. I appreciate the awesome job you did on that presentation, I appreciate your working late to help with that last minute client project, I appreciate the amazing sense of humor you bring to less-than-idea situations, I appreciate that great idea you had, bit “I appreciate you” sounds almost cult-ish or ritualistic to me.

        1. KayDeeAye (formerly Kathleen_A)*

          Around here, the catch phrase is “Thank you for all that you do.” OK, the intention is nice, but like you, NotAnotherManager!, I’d much prefer to be thanked for a specific thing. Ritual thanks just aren’t very satisfying.

        2. Curmudgeon in California*

          I tend to go with “You rock”, “You’re awesome”, or “You’re the best”.

      7. Anonymeece*

        Oooh. Okay. I was thinking more of this profound, “I love you,” while gazing deeply into their eyes. But I do use a sort of ironic, hyperbolic, “You ordered those supplies last minute? I love you!” where “I love you” = “You’re my hero” type meaning.

        I can see that, honestly.

        1. Quinalla*

          Yes, I can see it as sort of ironically, poking fun, for sure. I’ve never said “I love you!” at work but I had said “We all love each other…” or whatever in that ironic, amusing way. But as a standard greeting non-ironically, very weird at work!

          I’m a gen Xer (but very close to being a millennial – my younger siblings all are) and I tell my close friends and family “I love you” in a genuine way, but yeah, that’s not a thing I would do at work.

          I also don’t use the phrase “I appreciate you”, but certainly will say “I appreciated when you …” as part of a thank you when someone went above and beyond to call out specifically what was awesome. I think just “I appreciate you” is also a weird thing to say at work, but moreso it is a useless attagirl/attaboy comment, give specific feedback at work people!

        2. SometimesALurker*

          Same, I thought it was weird at first, but now that you and others mention it, I’ve totally done it in those contexts!

          1. CMart*

            Agreed, I was trying to figure out a way for it to be not-weird and casual exclamations in the trend of a “thank you” makes sense to me.

            Coworker hands delivers a request that I dropped on them super last minute? “Love you, thank you, I owe you big.”

            Or maybe I helped a coworker figure out why their VLOOKUP wasn’t working. A “omg I love you” wouldn’t seem odd for me to hear.

            In those usages, it’s more of a “I love that you did this”/”I deeply appreciate this” shorthand.

            1. Indigo a la mode*

              Right, exactly. A heartfelt “I love you” would be much weirder than the relieved “you’re my hero” or cheery “thanks, see ya!”.

      8. Kate R*

        Right. I didn’t manage to get through all these responses, but I’m gathering that I’m in the minority in thinking this isn’t actually as weird as others seem to think it is. I mean, it’s hard to say without truly understanding *how* it as said, but in the example the OP used, “I love you, and I really appreciate you helping me with…..” I thought it sounded akin to saying to someone, “Oh my God, you saved my life!” when they’ve helped you out of a jam. It is understood that they didn’t literally save your life. You are just expressing extreme gratitude. In that same way, saying “I love you” doesn’t mean you have romantic or other intense love-like feelings for the person. So unless it was said with some bizarre level of intensity, I don’t think I’d be phased by this even at work. I’d just chalk it up to slang.

        1. Drd*

          I’m on the cusp of Gen X and Millennial: This is the only context in which “I love you” makes sense at work to me. I’m also a college professor, and it is the only context I’ve heard my students use it in.

      9. 4Sina*

        Elder Millenial, but on the younger end of Eldership.

        I definitely say “I love you” as a sort of informal, flip way to mean “thank you for doing this!” or “I appreciate all the time you put into this thing!”…..”Hey, I did this really tough thing for the team but it worked out better than expected, here are the results and next steps!” “Ugh, I love you!”

        Then again, I work in a VERY different field from finance, so making the heart symbol with my hands or saying “I love yoooou!” while laughing about how much I appreciate a coworker bringing in bagels is not really looked down on.

      10. AKchic*

        I can see this evolving in an accidental way.

        i.e.; a paired partnership being semi-open and saying “I love you” to each other, and a few people not actually knowing they were partnered. Or, maybe someone said it in passing on the phone, or to a sibling/relative or a close friend.
        Then someone slipped up and accidentally said “I love you” to a co-worker rather than “thank you” or “goodbye” (we’ve all been there, kind of like calling a teacher “mom”). Or the overly grateful “ohIloveyou” instead of “I really appreciate this favor you’ve done for me, thank you ever so much”… and it just gets… normalized.

    2. voyager1*

      My first thought is a running joke, based where someone may have said it because their mind went on autopilot and they ended a conversation with it? I have done that once . And I have had it happen a couple of times. But this was all phone based conversations which is to me more understandable.

      I would just ask someone why they are saying it.

      1. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

        Yup – my first thought was that this might be a “calling teacher Mommy”-type deal. But on a regular basis? That’s just weird.

        I’m a millennial, and I’d never use ‘love’ at work. Super inappropriate. Also just… I don’t ‘love’ my coworkers, so that’s a weird thing to say.

        1. Shenandoah*

          Another millennial, and same. The closest I would come to using ‘love’ at work would be something along the lines of “I love working with Janet – she’s such a great colleague” or “I love the way Jim presented that topic; it really made it clear to me.”

          1. KimberlyR*

            Same. And even then, I typically say something like, “Mary Beth is my fave! She’s always on point” rather than using the word “love”. I’m sure I’ve used it for something (or even possibly someone) at work but its so rare that I can’t remember off hand.

            1. Indigo a la mode*

              That said, I have totally heard everyone up to executives say, “Oh, you met Wakeen? I LOVE him, he’s always the best with event coordination.”

          2. Genny*

            Also a millennial. I’ve used “love” to describe a working relationship, but it’s usually in the context of someone asking me what I think of so-so (e.g. What do you think of Susan? Oh, I love her. She’s fantastic to work for. Really has her team’s back, supports professional development, and encourages a healthy work-life balance). I’d never say “I love you” directly to someone unless it’s a peer who just did something amazingly outstanding for me that I desperately needed (so basically never).

        2. AKchic*

          The only time I have ever said “I love you” to any colleague was in a joking manner, and it was because they brought me coffee. And I said it more to the coffee than them. And they 100% understood the joke, the sentiment, and where the “love” was directed.

    3. Zona the Great*

      I’m 33 and female. I’ve said it once to a colleague of a similar cultural background but who is 53. We’re closer than normal but not outside of work. Think “love you mija” “love ya, Carol” after a work interaction. I don’t think it has to do with my age or hers though. And I’ll never be caught saying Ok Boomer.

      1. Catherine Tilney*

        Yes, I have a coworker that I say “love ya!” to, as well. She’s 33, I’m 48. It’s more just us being silly. I wouldn’t say “I love you” to anyone else at work.

    4. Meredith M.*

      I’m a millennial (though more of a xennial) and I don’t get it either, so I won’t “ok, boomer” you. And I definitely thought cult-ish like you.

      At my old job, I was tight with the people I sat by (we’d go out to lunch, grab drinks after work, and I still hang out with them occasionally) and I would say things like, “Love you guys.” But there’s something about “I love you” that’s so intimate that I would immediately find it off putting and not want to work with that person. And I have no problem saying I love you to my friends and family. But to people I work with, heck no.

      1. Willis*

        Yeah, I’m not sure how I would react if someone said that to me at work but it would definitely be off-putting. Just say I appreciate your help, if that’s what you mean to say.

      2. Sharkie*

        Exactly. There are times where I have been told by and have told cowokers ” Love you”, “love ya” or “will love you for forever if you grabbed me a coffee when you grabbing lunch” but they have been peer level and we had outside work friendships. I think that this is just one of the downfalls of the English language- in Italian, for example, there are different words for friend affection, family affection, romantic affection, etc.

        1. Sharkie*

          Its a new internet meme. Like when an older person says something like “Younger people are lazy!” or out of touch a younger person responds “ok boomer”

          1. PhyllisB*

            Ah, okay!! Thanks for the clarification. And I guess you can say “ok boomer” to me, because I AM one. :-)

        2. Botanist*

          Exactly- depending on who you ask, it’s either GenZ and Millenials being ageist and derisive towards Baby Boomers or it’s GenZ and Millenials tired of being hated on by Baby Boomers.

        3. The OG OOF*

          It’s meant to be dismissive and snarky. Imagine “okay boomer” said in a sarcastic voice with an eye roll.

        4. NotAnotherManager!*

          It’s an edgy, new way of the kids these days responding to their ageist elders by being ageist themselves.

          1. TardyTardis*

            And I always laugh, because you know how they’ll be treated thirty years down the line (cackles evilly).

      1. Constantine Binvoglio*

        Especially Charles saying it to Milton in S4E21, “The Bank Job.” Gritted teeth and all. Love. You.

    5. Sleve McDichael*

      I’m also curious to hear more as this is definitely not a thing among millennials and gen Z in my country (I am one) and it’s blowing my mind to discover that there are places where it would not be considered extremely cringy!

      1. londonedit*

        Same. I’m 38, so very much at the older end of Millennial/younger end of Gen X, but I can’t imagine any workplace scenario (except, maybe, something like a spiritual retreat?) where saying ‘I love you’ to a colleague would be in any way appropriate!

        1. Newington*

          This makes me wonder if it’s some sort of group prank. Maybe the first person who can get their manager to say it to them wins.

      1. Princesa Zelda*

        I don’t say “I love you” at work, but I do say it pretty liberally compared to like, how I saw my parents and the dominant culture use it growing up. I don’t speak for everyone, but for me, I’m taking a fairly broad view of the word love. If our interaction causes me to be warm and happy, and I like you, “love you” is way to express that which gets the strength across without making it Serious Conversation Time. I also want to deliberately ignore the idea that only romantic and parent-child relationships are “worthy” of the phrase “I love you.” I’m not going to have a romantic partner or a child, and even if I were, they’re not the only people I would love! Friends and even friendly acquaintances who I especially like still fall in that category and I think they deserve to know it. I can see where people come from who think I’m cheapening it, but I feel more like I have all this love in my heart, and that if I don’t tell people about it they’ll never even know it was there and it will be wasted.

        I don’t know how that stacks against OP’s coworkers, though. It’s just my little soapbox.

        1. Engineer Girl*

          You can love everyone. And the idea of “worth” is repugnant.
          But saying it all the time under all conditions cheapens it to an almost thoughtless saying

          1. Indy*

            Only if you are the type of person to assign a value to emotions and dole them out in exchange for other things.

            Love is not a finite resource. I’m sorry your life has taught you otherwise.

            1. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

              I….think Engineer Girl meant in the sense of, if you use the phrase super-casually, it seems like you don’t really mean much by it.

              I don’t tell my coworkers I love them, because I don’t. I like them, I enjoy talking to them, they’re a big part of what makes the job fun. But I don’t love them. I reserve the phrase for when I actually mean it – which can be with very close friends, family, or partners. If I were to say it when I didn’t mean it, it would be less meaningful to say it when I actually *do* mean it.

              1. Amethystmoon*

                I’m the same way. I guess I was also raised that you generally only say “I love you” to family members or perhaps extremely, very, very close friends. I’m also Gen X, not boomer. But yeah, I agree that it lessens the meaning of the phrase when it’s said too frequently. Other langauges do have different words for love that mean different things, like friendship vs. romantic vs. familial. English doesn’t really, we leave it up to the speaker or writer to communicate intent and the other person to understand what it means, which can lead to misunderstandings.

            2. Myrin*

              I might be misreading your intention but this seems somewhat condescending to me – “I’m sorry your life has taught you otherwise”? Really? (Nevermind that I’m pretty sure EG simply meant what Anastasia said above me.)

            3. Engineer Girl*

              I never said love was finite. I did say that if you say it All the time it cheapens the words to nothingness.

              1. MissElizaTudor*

                It doesn’t do that for everyone, though. I understand how it might do that for some people, but just because a phrase is used often, that doesn’t mean it’s used without thought. And even if it is frequently said without conscious thought, that doesn’t mean the words are “cheapened” in all contexts.

                Think of it like “How are you?” A lot of times that’s a pretty meaningless greeting just to say “I acknowledge you fellow human,” but if a friend is going through a rough time and you ask “How are you?” that isn’t a meaningless greeting, you actually want to know and listen.

                1. MissElizaTudor*

                  Not that I don’t find it weird to say it to coworkers constantly, or that it won’t make some or many people uncomfortable, but I just don’t think it turns it meaningless or totally thoughtless just based on frequency or saying it to people who you have relationships with that aren’t as close as the traditional relationships in which you tell people you love them.

              2. Detective Amy Santiago*

                I disagree. I say I love you to my friends and family regularly. How does making sure they know how I feel about them cheapen the words?

                I have said things to coworkers like “you’re lucky I love you” when they tease me about something or break a spreadsheet that I have to fix or something.

                1. Colette*

                  It doesn’t, of course – but if you said it to the clerk at the grocery store, the boss you hate, or the person who called you for a survey, it would affect the way your friends feel about you telling them you love them, wouldn’t it?

                2. NotAnotherManager!*

                  The post being responded to included friendly acquaintances, not just friends and family. I personally don’t care how other people use it, but I do feel that “I love you!” means less from my cousin who says it to everyone she doesn’t actively dislike versus people who tend to reserve it for people for whom they actual have strong feelings.

                  There is a big difference between the withholding of emotion/stoicism and using the same expression of affection for your spouse as the particularly friendly mail carrier, which is more what I think people are pointing to when they say it cheapens the phrase.

                3. knead me seymour*

                  I think it’s just a personal preference thing, and it depends what gives it more meaning for you. But I can’t get on board with saying it at work.

              3. wittyrepartee*

                I don’t know, I got told that I was loved every day by parents, and I do so with my friends too. It’s pretty powerful to know that love is a foundation, and that you’re loved even when people are angry at you.

            4. MK*

              If you claim to love a lot of people, and you don’t have the very close relationship that usually warrants such an expression, then yes, sorry, it’s not worth that much to me. Not because love is finite, but because it’s obvious you don’t really mean love in the same way I perceive it, and I find myself thinking you, if not incencere, then full of it.

              I don’t think love should only be used to describe partners or parent/child relationships. But if you use it like in the letter, it obviously means nothing personal and meaningful, it’s just an expression.

              1. CmdrShepard4ever*

                I think I agree with you on everything except for the last part of the first paragraph: “and I find myself thinking you, if not incencere, then full of it.” I don’t think just because someone uses or defines certain words differently makes them full of it or insincere. I 100% agree with you that if someone that throws the word love around loosely said it to me, I wouldn’t really feel loved but I might be okay “This person really likes me or appreciates me, (their love=my appreciates)” that is fine it is different, but it doesn’t require judging them negatively or at all.

                For me the words love and friendship have a very strict/strong meaning. For example my partner uses the word friend in a matter that I consider loose and would not consider someone a friend. She has a “friend” that she has not had direct contact (texts, calls, direct messages) with in 6/8 years, they were what I would consider friends in high school and maintained some contact during college, but more recently lost contact, they are still “connected” on social media. I would consider this person an ex friend, and at acquaintance level now or somewhere between friend and acquaintance. For me a friend is someone that I have contact on a semi regular basis in some form, texting, calling, messaging, and requires an attempt to visit/see each other.

            5. TL -*

              For me, saying I love you has a pretty specific meaning and it implies a commitment (there are some obviously joking exceptions, like, “coffee? I love you!”) Using it all the time signals to me that love means “general feeling of good will” to you; even if you say it really intensely to me, you’re still equivocating it to the way you feel about someone you feel very little commitment to.

              Not everyone feels that way, but there are lots of words available to describe a general feeling of goodwill – “like”, “appreciate”, “you’re the best” – and to me, that’s different than actively loving someone.

              1. fposte*

                This reminds me of the comment discussion about “friend” recently, with some people preferring to limit that use to a few close intimates and others treating it as a broader term. There is an older dictum that it’s not proper, for instance, to say “I love avocados” because you don’t love inanimate objects, but I don’t know that that came out of a similar impulse or just a period distaste of gushing. I think our problem is we didn’t follow enough in Greek footsteps and have different terms for different kinds of love, so we’re making do with the one.

              2. Anonapots*

                Other languages have multiple words for love that aren’t as…distant as “appreciate” or “like” that are specifically for friends you love, but are not in a romantic relationship with. English has one word that can connote closeness and that word is love. I appreciate all my close friends, but I also love them and if I said I appreciated them, it wouldn’t get across the deepness of my love for them.

                I used to be of the mind that saying I love you too much cheapened the words. Then I realized you can never say it enough to the people you care about.
                Side note: I would still never say it to a coworker in a serious way. Because I don’t feel that way about my coworkers, who I genuinely do appreciate.

            6. Shadowbelle*

              I sincerely doubt that everyone who says “Bye!” actually means “May God Be With You!” But over the centuries, the expression was cheapened from the blessing to a common and meaningless phrase. In my part of the American South, many people conclude an encounter with “Have a blessed day”. But they say it by rote, and it is slurred into “Ha’ bless’ day”. No doubt the slurring will continue until it becomes “haddy” or some such. Using “I love you” in the way described by the OP will inevitably cheapen the expression until it is meaningless. I daresay that in the encounters described by the OP, it is well on its way to becoming meaningless, if it isn’t already — a mere verbal tick lick “bye” or “have a nice day”.

          2. grandzor*

            Completely disagree. Words have context. Although personally I would never say ‘I love you’ casually, using a phrase doesn’t ‘cheapen’ it – you are not going to stop loving your partner just because you said the same phrase to your colleague. It’s totally possible to use a phrase in different contexts and have them convey different meanings.

            1. Filosofickle*

              Agree! HOW I love my parents, my live-in partner, my bestie of 30 years, and my work mentee vary dramatically. It is not confusing to love all of them and say I love all of them even though that love has different depths and dimensions.

              I was raised not to gush or be vulnerable, so saying ILY doesn’t come naturally to me. But I think it’s a good thing to express, if you mean it, and I’m saying it more and more these days.

              1. Filosofickle*

                To be clear, I don’t say ILY to coworkers — only one, my mentee, and even then extremely rarely. I’m not responding to the initial letter, but the discussion about “diluting” the value of the words.

          3. Coyote Tango*

            This is such an odd take to me. No one tells you not to say thank you all the time because that cheapens it.

            “If you thank someone for putting paper in the copy machine, doesn’t that make it meaningless to thank the fireman that kicked down a door and saved your child?”

            1. ChimericalOne*

              Well put. I’ve heard this argument a lot, and I wasn’t quite able to put a finger on my feeling about it. But this nails it.

            2. juliebulie*

              I will say “thank you” to the person who puts paper in the copy machine. For the firefighter who saves my child, I will say “thank you,” bake cookies, and possibly name my next child in his or her honor.

            3. QCI*

              Thank you and I love you are on completely different levels. Using I love you for everyone and everything does cheapen it to the levels of a thank you.

            4. kt*

              But we do, kind of. See all the discussion above about people who don’t like, “Thanks for all you do!” without a specific item. It’s the feeling that “thanks” is just being spread around like ketchup to cover up the underlying lack of flavor. It’s the feeling that it’s a fake checklist item rather than an actual recognition. It’s the feeling that this is a smarmy person who says things so that it can’t be said later that” they aren’t appreciative” — look, I say thank you all the time!

              1. PlainJane*

                All of this. The overuse of, “I love you,” and even, “thank you,” feels like the linguistic version of grade inflation. Then what are we left with to indicate really deep love or gratitude?

                1. Jennifer Juniper*

                  I may or may not have clapped my hands and squealed “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!” when the waitress brought my drink to the table when I was thirsty. I mean every thank you I say.

          4. LQ*

            Or it reinforces the emotional bond between people and increases its power and impact.

            Love bombing works because it’s so intense and often. It does work and it is used by cults because saying you love someone makes people feel loved. It doesn’t cheapen it at all.

            1. Shadowbelle*

              But randomly tossing out “I love you” in a business context or a casual social context is not “love bombing”. It’s phrase bombing. It doesn’t mean anything more than “Oh good” or “Yeah, that’s what I wanted”, if that much.

            2. Engineer Girl*

              I would argue that love bombing is the cheapest of the cheap.
              People falsely claim love for someone that desperately wants it until they suck the person in. And trap them. That isn’t love, is it?
              Love bombing is what abusers do to keep their target attached. That isn’t love, is it?
              Because love bombing is about getting what THEY want with no thought to the best outcome for the target.
              Love bombing is the cheapest and most awful form of “I love you.”

            3. Avasarala*

              Oh good, let’s use a technique that cults use! That’s not problematic!

              They’re borrowing an intense word and misusing it with people who are desperate for connection. Let’s not forget that there is such a thing as being over-familiar.

          5. Witchy Human*

            Like if you use “beautiful” to describe absolutely everything–chocolate cake, phone calls, coal, your daughter…

                1. Andraste's Knicker Weasels*

                  Unless your daughter is a druid and can transform into a very specific type of Earth elemental.

        2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          Yes, I think this is where I am. I *do* love my close friends, and we’re breaking the repressed cycle by deliberately using positive language with each other where it’s meaningful.

          “I love you” “you’re clever” “you’re kind” “you’re funny” and “I’m proud of you” are things we heard too seldom as children. We now use them so liberally with our own children it feels natural to extend that use to other people we’re close to, as part of the chosen-family dynamic we create when for financial and social reasons we’re each hundreds of miles from blood family.

          At work though? Heck no. That would stray into “not a workplace but a faaaaaaamily” territory for me, which as we all know is deeply dysfunctional and unprofessional.

      2. Agnodike*

        I actually think there’s something really beautiful in the idea that “I love you” can be an everyday thing that’s not special. I love the idea that love IS cheap, that it’s the default position.

        1. yala*

          I like this take.

          Not sure I would ever use it with coworkers, but I like the idea of it being something folks say casually. My friends and I say it to each other all the time.

          1. your favorite person*

            My friends have started saying it to me and while it took some getting used to on my end, I do enjoy hearing it and saying it back. I feel like it deepens our friendship, in a way.

        2. Existentialista*

          I agree. I was sort of hoping it’s a new Millennial thing, because I think it’s lovely (I’m Gen X).

        3. kt*

          I like the idea that love is *free*, but not the idea that is is cheap = low in value.

          Sometimes love has to deliver the goods: help, sacrifice, food, grace, tough feedback, quality coffee, cheap coffee, etc. If it’s value-less, it doesn’t do that.

          Free, though, I like.

        4. Jennifer Juniper*

          Unfortunately, Agnodike, if you’re a woman or are seen as one, you have to be careful who you say “I love you” to. Otherwise, some guy can see that as an invitation to creep on you.

          “I love you” has been used as a euphemism for “I want to have sex with you” way too long.

      3. Grapey*

        Absolutely not, unless you or the recipient are the type of person to take others for granted, or say it without meaning it.

      4. Close Bracket*

        Kind of like “thank you” at work to someone who is doing the job they are supposed to do. We’re used to that one, though, so I bet you can come up with a reason that it’s different. It sounds like “I love you” is becoming one of those things people say like “thank you” and “have a nice day” and “I’m doing well, how about you?” without actually meaning it.

      5. Delphine*

        I think this sentiment says more about you than the person you think is overusing, “I love you.” People use it in varying contexts with varying levels of intensity attached to the feeling–that doesn’t cheapen the meaning, it just clarifies it.

    6. Grand Mouse*

      I don’t even say that to family (yah yah messed up dynamics i guess) so saying it to coworkers is really really weird? I might as well kiss them or invite them on vacation.

    7. Mary*

      I can definitely hear one of my ex-colleagues saying it (she’s about 32 now), but only in the context of, “Mary, I love you, but [this idea is definitely never going to work].” Which would really make me laugh!

      (she’s also a theatre grad and my go-to example of why theatre grads make the BEST employees–her teamwork and planning skills were just exceptional, and she’d end up running meetings as a 23-year-old intern. “I love you, but–” is an example of her great teamwork–she was really good at moving on from impractical ideas or conversations in a firm but very warm and kind way.)

      1. Mystery Bookworm*

        Yeah, I can think of specific circumstances where I might say it (like if someone brought me a cup of tea, or told a particularly delicious joke or something) but not every time I said hello/goodbye!

        I think this might be a curious sub-culture thing that evolved at this office.

        1. Sparrow*

          Yeah, I’m wondering if one of the younger employees is particularly open with affectionate language like this. If someone was doing it a lot without realizing it’s inappropriate for work, I could see it slowing normalizing among those around them and starting to spread. It’s common for people to pick up phrasing and habits from those they’re around often – perhaps that’s really all that’s happening here.

      2. Quill*

        Theater is the best for getting people’s communication running.

        When I ran a club in college we had a similar dynamic, in that particularly rowdy meetings might be opened with “Hello, my darlings – now shut up!” or similarly irreverent combinations of endearment and rudeness, but I like your theater grad’s setup better because it CAN carry over well into the outside world.

      3. ChimericalOne*

        I must say, I did wonder if the “I love you” was eventually followed by a “but”! E.g., “I love you, and I really appreciate all the work you’ve done with X, Y, and Z — especially this part! — but we’re going to have to take this project in a different direction, unfortunately! The client just came back and said…”
        It makes sense to me if it’s being used as a “softener.” (And even then, it’s a little touchy-feely, but I get it.) Otherwise, it strikes me as way too intimate for the office.

      4. CL Cox*

        Yes, I have said to teachers when explaining a new financial rule we have to follow: “I love you all, but not enough to lose my job.” I have also used it when someone has brought me a treat on a particularly stressful day because, let’s face it, middle schoolers can be exhausting – SO. MUCH. DRAMA.

    8. Mel_05*

      At first I thought it was the younger employees being playful with each other. I’ve had that dynamic. But saying it to a company partner would be odd in that context.

    9. Lynca*

      Older millenial here, it’s definitely younger employees meaning “I appreciate you” but expressing themselves which much more emotionally intense language. There is also the non-zero possibility that they don’t have a good grasp of the field’s work culture. We’ve brought up how that’s not an appropriate expression at work since it stomps on some serious boundaries. It’s generally about a 50/50 split of not knowing the work culture and being used to saying that with friends when we’ve had it come up where I work.

    10. Traffic_Spiral*

      Most Milennials don’t say “I love you” to people, but if people are saying it in the office we *will* write up an ‘Alternative Responses to “I Love You”‘ chart for everyone in the office.

      1. Traffic_Spiral*

        Oh, I should probably explain: the meme is deciding who in a group of people (fictional or otherwise) would respond to “I love you” with which of the below responses.

        Who doesn’t?
        I know
        A horrible decision, really
        *laughs nervously*
        *laughs hysterically*
        I’m sorry
        *finger guns*
        If only there was someone out there who loved you

          1. Constantine Binvoglio*

            Finger guns are rarely the wrong answer. Maybe at, say, a funeral or a grand jury proceeding, but…

            *FINGER GUNS!!*

    11. MicroManagered*

      (no ok boomering, please)

      Actually, the only person I can think of in my office who would throw out a casual “I love you” is a boomer…

      1. Traffic_Spiral*

        Yeah, I think the Millennial Effusive Saying is “I would die for you” (to which the appropriate response is “then perish”).

      2. juliebulie*

        And it is the Xers who know from firsthand experience (in the movie theater) that “I know” is the only proper answer. (Followed by “wow, is it cold in here or w–“)

    12. The Heartless LW#1*

      I’m LW#1! This is definitely not just a joke between friends (unless this friend group is uh….very large, and spread across two cities). The incident that made me write the letter was actually at a work conference where it was a mix of financial and real estate people, so it wasn’t just workers at my company. I always expect a certain amount of lavish praise being tossed around at these types of things, but it did sound jarring to me and feel absurd.

      The idea that it is someone trying to say “I appreciate you” but with intense emphasis and missing the mark makes sense to me.

      1. Czhorat*

        It could, depending on tone, come off as a touch effusive but I don’t at ALL think it’s bad. Love, after all, is responsible for planetary revolution.

        You only need to read the archives here for a few minutes to come to the understanding that if *this* is your colleagues’ worst quirk you have a really, really good situation with them.

        1. juliebulie*

          As much as I find this “I love you” fad silly and shallow, I agree with that. Let’s hope this really is their worst quirk.

        2. Just Elle*

          I think its all about frequency… and it sounds pretty frequent, which does make it a problem.

          I’ve used “omg I love you” maybe, like, twice in my career as a hyperbole for “wow, you went really above and beyond and I appreciate you”.

          But using it frequently really waters down the meaning and/or elevates a professional workplace to a highly emotional family… both of which have real negative consequences. Its not the words themselves, but the fact that these people wish to work in a world where they love and are loved by their coworkers, which is… not going to end well for anyone.

          1. Jules the 3rd*

            enh, ‘work conference’ implies multiple companies – this isn’t a ‘like a family!’ signal.

            Agree pretty hard with the last sentence, unfortunately. Did you see the last Captain Awkward, about ‘how to I make friends at work’? I just kept thinking ‘Don’t! Put your energy into things that interest you and find groups that share those interests, build a life outside of work!’ but CA is way more accepting than I am.

            1. Just Elle*

              I guess I missed that the conference included multiple companies. But maybe they want to be one big extended family? Lol. I mean, honestly, how can you know anyone else at one of those conferences well enough to toss out the Three Words?

              And I did see that letter and I had the exact same reaction as you, lol. I keep cringe-waiting for the next letter to come in: “Dear Alison, my coworker very much wishes to be my friend outside of work but I do not wish for her to be.”
              (although to be fair CA did suggest perhaps not putting in more effort than the coworker, which I appreciated).

      2. Let's Sidebar*

        So strange. As a millennial I can confirm it’s bizarre BUT I have also experienced it! Recently, a gym instructor started earnestly saying this a couple times per session to our class of around 30. It’s a drop in class so there are even different attendees each session. She is really fantastic at her job but the “I love you”s are cringe.

        1. Jennifer Juniper*

          Eewww. If my aerobics instructor said that to me, I’d tell her “Excuse me, I’m married. And my wife doesn’t share!”

      3. Just Elle*

        As a millennial with a 22 year old brother, I’m horrified by this but have seen it fairly often among his peers. Its like trying extra, extra hard to reinforce that “we’re like a familllllyyyyy here.” Except, not realizing that workplaces being like a family are bad, bad, bad things?

        They also do it a lot with their friends – exchanging I love you’s when what they really mean is “I enjoy you as a person and like hanging out with you as a friend and wish to make you feel warm and welcomed” but it actually just makes everything feel fake / less sincere.

        So I would have a conversation with them along the lines of “I love yous are for families and close friendships, which we do not have, and that is a good thing because there’s this great thing in the professional world called boundaries you will one day be glad for.” (Ok, not in that condescending of a way… but a genuine explanation of why professional boundaries are beneficial for everyone and strong emotions don’t belong in a workplace.)

    13. RabbitRabbit*

      GenX here. In a previous job (maybe less than 10 years ago) there was a quite beloved doctor we worked for, who would go above and beyond for you and appreciated your work. So when one day, the only time he could meet with an outside person was at 5:30 am because he had surgery all day otherwise, and I had to be there? I did half-jokingly tell him gruffly, “You’re lucky I love you.”

    14. Joy*

      Thinking about it, I’ve definitely said I love you to peers who are a similar age to me at work (late 20s, early 30s), but exclusively in the context of “oh my god you saved my butt here I love you” kind of over-the-top effusiveness for somebody else making my work life substantially easier, and certainly not often! That’s the context I’ve received it as well in my reasonably emotive, fairly high-passion work environment that skews fairly young. I could see it being said in an “I love you but that idea is crazy” way was well, but I have no specific memories of it. Thinking a bit harder about whether or not it’s gendered, I think I’ve received it from both men and women, and the only senior person I’ve got it from is a man who was my boss’s boss and is known for his open, effusive style and it’s just very consistent with his personality!

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        In that context, it makes total sense and is not weird. As a casual goodbye, it’s a bit much at work.

    15. Andream*

      I wonder if in some instances it’s more of like “oh my gosh I love you, you just saved the day” time if thing. Take for example they thought that they had lost a very important file, but a co-worker was able to find file. It’s sort of a “oh your a lifesaver” type of thing.

    16. KimberlyR*

      I have a former coworker who used to say it to me pretty often. She was only about 10 years older than me (40ish to my 30ish) and it made me a little uncomfortable. She was a great coworker and we meshed very well together! But I felt very warm coworker-y feelings towards her, not love feelings. It made me feel odd that I didn’t reciprocate her feelings. (This was not at all a romantic love or “crush”.) Sometimes she would call me and just gush about how amazing I was and how much she loved me and I would awkwardly receive the compliments and want to sink through the floor. She no longer works with us and I remember her fondly, while she sometimes still sends text messages about how much she misses me. So I am really uncomfortable with the idea of love in the workplace.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        Ast Just Elle said above, there are these things called boundaries and someday you will be grateful for them…

    17. throwaway123*

      My former boss who was an older Gen X used to say, “I love you” to me after I did something proactive in regards to my job. I felt like to was way too personal and awkward. I also didn’t really like it since what I did was part of my job. Also, specific praise would have been better like, “Hey that really contributes to x,y,z. Thanks!”

      He was also a he and I am a younger she by about 15 years. So I felt like there was also in ickyness factor there too. In summary, I just think there are better ways and words to appreciate someone at work.

      In regards to goodbye — As long as its among peers (same power ranking), it’s fine. I just would feel too awkward saying it to a peer at work.

    18. Anon Here*

      It’s been common in creative spheres outside of office settings for a long time, but mostly in the major urban hubs for arts and entertainment. I’ve heard it all over CA and the main east coast cities, plus Melbourne, Aus. It seems to be absent from middle America, but that could be changing.

      I’m just guessing it spread to the office from live music and fashion circles, as happens with many, many things.

    19. MMB*

      I work with college students and this has been on the rise for the last…..3-4 years. There seem to be two different forms. The generalized “love you/luv ya guys” when leaving and the more specifically directed “i love you/luv ya Jane”. It really just seems to be one more linguistic evolution/trend -although I’ve noticed that it can occasionally indicate a closer relationship or fond feelings when directed at someone older. It was very awkward the first few times it happened to me, but now I typically just respond with something like “late” or “later days” and everyone seems to accept it just fine.

      It definitely feels a bit inappropriate in the workplace and I might gently explain that while conventions change right now it’s still viewed as somewhat unprofessional. Then again, once upon a time women wearing pants in the workplace was a thing that just was Not Done. I’m not advocating for the use of “i love you” in the workplace but honestly trends come and go.

      1. KoiFeeder*

        Yeah, as a recent grad I was pretty much going to say this- although it would feel incredibly weird to say it to people I didn’t know while at a work conference, as LW1 said it occurred at.

    20. pleaset*

      I got an “I love you” once at work – it was exceptional and fine because it was clearly non-romantic/sexual and instead about something I’d just helped someone with that would help them look great to an important constituent. It was really “I love your work and that you helped me.”

      We’re both Gen X but this was some time ago when i think we were in our early 30s. (I just met this person randomly a couple day ago so am reminded of it.)

      In general, “I love you” is very not good at work.

      “Love you all” about a group, on hitting some milestone or wrapping up a long hard meeting would maybe be OK.

      “Love it!” about a work product is great – very useful when the thing is super.

    21. juliebulie*

      My 22-yo niece says “love you” to nearly everyone, which really diminishes its sincerity. What on earth will she say when she wants to really make someone feel special? “I REALLY love you”?!

    22. Alienor*

      I’ve had some people say “omg I love you, you’re the best!” after I’ve done them a favor at work, and in that context it doesn’t strike me as weird, but someone seriously saying “I love you” to me sure would. For what it’s worth, I’m mid-Gen X and not at all an effusive person, so the only people I ever say “I love you” to are my daughter and one or two very close friends. I would never say it even in the “thanks you’re great!” context at work, because it comes across as harmless, but also very bubbly-college-girl (which is also harmless, but for better or for worse, not regarded as professional).

    23. Kiwiii*

      I don’t know if it’s just where I’m at in industry/location/age (26), but I think the only time I’ve ever said “love you” to a colleague was when asking them to do something I knew would annoy them?

    24. Annie Porter*

      This was a thing at my former workplace, but I worked there for more than a decade with a tight-knit group of folks and it was usually following a particularly crappy request (I know this is going to take six hours, but thank you and I LOVE YOU) followed by a friendly tossing of stress balls and laughter.

      This definitely did NOT happen with any of the higher-ups, and I stopped the behavior when I became a higher-up/boss myself.

    25. starsaphire*

      So here (speaking as an older GenX, if that even matters) are situations in which I have said “I love you” at work:

      1. “And here’s another stack of (horrible task).” “Gee, I love you too.”
      2. “Oh wow, you totally saved me in that meeting! I love you!”
      3. “You brought us all Philz coffee?! I totally love you!”
      4. “Thanks for the surprise birthday party. I love you guys!”

      I haven’t heard it used as a casual farewell among co-workers, ever.

      Now, with my friends? All. The. Time. Because life’s short, and you never know. So every time we go home after an activity, I say, “Love you guys!” Every time my partner leaves for the grocery store, I kiss him and tell him I love him.

      I don’t think this is generational at all, either. Most of my friends are on the Boom/X cusp, and a lot of us do this. I can remember my mother (Greatest Gen) saying it to some of her friends as well.

    26. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

      Yes- saying “I love you” to colleagues is right up there with a company, department or team saying “we’re a family.” Just weird and creepy. While I like and respect my colleagues just fine, I don’t “love” them and they are not my “family.”

    27. yikes!*

      To me it seems like a natural extension of workplaces’ tendency to push the “we’re a family” thing.

      Which is to say, completely inappropriate and weird at work, all of it.

    28. Jennifer Juniper*

      Thank you! I thought I was the only one who wondered if OP1 had stumbled into a cult. Ewww.

      I reserve “I love you” for my parents and my wife. If someone randomly said “I love you,” I’d tell them to get the fuck away from me!

    29. Oaktree*

      I’m a millennial (I’m 30) and yes, this is a thing. But I would never say this to a coworker, only a friend.

    30. Silvercat*

      I’m right on the older end of millennial. In my mostly queer, online friends dnd group we say I love you because I would drive across the country to help them move. I have no problem with saying I love you to friends who are comfortable with it. But at work, even if I worked with those friends? Helllllll no. Super unprofessional and guaranteed to make people uncomfortable.

  2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#3, any chance you can throw in something about compensation for your mileage and having people’s non-employee partners assist with moving? Surely your partners’ efforts were uncompensated labor, no?

    But it’s a dick move on your employer’s part. It’s not reasonable to ask people to do the work of professional movers without telling them that’s what’s expected, schedule the move for the weekend, and then fail to compensate your employees for their time. What if someone had had an injury or condition that would allow them to “help,” but not to do the actual move themselves? I think there’s a conflict-averse way to persuade your small-but-successful employer that this is a business expense they should have paid for (and should now try to make right).

    1. My Dear Wormwood*

      Yeah, it’s not cool to spring moving a whole office on employees.

      I am kind of amused by the idea of conflict-averse therapists though.

      1. Zombeyonce*

        Same here. I imagine they have coached patients on how to talk to their employers when being treated as doormats, and OP and co should think about using those scripts and strategies for themselves, too. Something tells me this is not the first time they’ve been taken advantage of.

          1. Guacamole Bob*

            Doesn’t that make the whole thing about not hiring movers even worse? When I’ve been to physical therapy the space has been full of massage tables and exercise equipment that would be a pain if not impossible to move in a regular car.

            1. Goldfinch*

              “Dear AAM, I destroyed my back while being forced to do heavy lifting for my physical therapy job.”

      2. Quill*

        On the one hand, I completely understand, because after my job that did the same to me, I became very conflict averse, because you could not at all win there. On the other, you would think the therapists would be better at spotting a workplace that’s taking advantage of them…

        1. Passive Therapist LW3*

          We can often spot it but there’s not a lot we can do about it much of the time. Young therapists are underpaid and overworked, and usually deal with their own mental health issues and reasons for being in the field along with a lot of student loan debt. That makes us really vulnerable to being taken advantage of in job situations because we just need to make enough to survive. I’ve been out of grad school for several years and I’m still struggling to keep my head above water, which makes all of this much more difficult to deal with rationally and objectively.

      3. Alice's Rabbit*

        I’m not amused. I am very concerned. A workplace that is this dysfunctional and utterly devoid of clear communication… trying to tell other people how to fix their problems?
        The irony is strong.

    2. Kimmybear*

      I completely agree that this is ridiculous but on the bright side, you know all your boxes made it and they went to the right place. I’ve been through several paint and carpet projects and nothing ends up in the right place and that’s within the same building. We’re still looking for some items from the most recent refurbish. :)

      In all seriousness, I wonder what the liability is for the unpaid labor of the partners. I would at least ask for comp time for coming in on your day off if they aren’t willing to pay you.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        That’s what I was thinking, if they’re exempt they should get comp time for this. And I’m surprised no red flags went up when they asked for people to bring in partners who didn’t work there, as they should not be asked to do anything by the employer, nor do they owe the employer anything.

    3. Lucky black cat*

      I think if an entire practice worth of therapists have somehow become people-pleasing and conflict-averse – which surely hugely contradicts whatever training you’ve had, where you were presumably taught to model good boundaries and be assertive – then this isn’t the real problem, but just a symptom.

      It does seem dodgy on the insurance front – what if something got broken or someone was injured?

        1. TechWorker*

          Surely it’s no different from doctors smoking – just because you know what’s best doesn’t mean you can automatically put it into practice!

          1. Ico*

            Except avoiding conflict in session is going to make you a worse therapist. My doctor not smoking in the exam room doesn’t impact their abilities. :)

            1. Passive Therapist LW3*

              Oh I’m getting very good at conflict with my clients because I know it’s therapeutic and productive. Conflict on my own behalf, though? Much more difficult. I know a lot of us are really great at standing up for others and really bad at doing it for ourselves.

      1. Phoenix Programmer*

        Ha! You dont work in healthcare do you?

        Seriously, the culture is capitulate to the DR overlord, or capitulate to the patient. Anyone who l
        pushes back, no matter how appropriately or proffesionaly is punished.

        It doesn’t matter if newly minted RNs or PTs come in with good boundaries, once you are beaten down enough times everyone becomes people pleasing.

        It’s a serious problem but is the reality of many US healthcare workers.

    4. Maria Lopez*

      The employer knew they could get away with it. OP should have said, “I’m packing up my desk things and files in these four boxes. When will our furniture be moved?” I’ll bet the others would have also pushed back.
      At least now they know in the future to never give the employer an inch.

    5. tgirl*

      I wonder if their car insurance covers this work? I am not in the US, but my insurance prohibits doing any business related work.

    6. Sally*

      If the company won’t compensate you financially, perhaps they will give you an extra day off or add a PTO day for everyone who “helped.” Of course this doesn’t compensate the employees’ partners who were there all day working, but it’s better than nothing. It was really crappy of the employer to expect employees to do the entire office move. And even if there was a miscommunication, having employees do an office move is uncommon/weird enough that the employer should have been VERY clear what they were asking.

    7. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      They’re better than me. I would have refused and gone home. Or I would have asked a whole lot of questions before it happened to understand what was expected of us. Not cool at all.

      1. WellRed*

        Yes, moving furniture is an easy “no” for me. I’m not very strong and I don’t want to injure myself. Also, it’s not my job.

        1. Quill*

          I should have refused the last time I was asked to do this for a job, I have terrible ankles and couldn’t even get my tree downstairs last night. (I’m moving, I inherited an 8 foot ficus tree that goes with the house now I guess, no idea how I’m going to get that into an apartment…)

              1. Environmental Compliance*

                ….I am very intrigued and also maybe (definitely) a bit jealous of this tree.

                I have several baby long leaf ficuses that I’m waiting very impatiently to be big and strong and giant and leafy.

    8. Passive Therapy LW3*

      The partners’ labor is almost more insulting than anything to my coworkers and I. They got a half-hearted lunch for their efforts and nothing else.

      And nope, we’re mental health therapists. Commenters saying how strange it sounds that we’d teach our clients to be assertive but not be able to do it ourselves are 100% on target. We’re all in the field for a reason! And unfortunately my coworkers and I who are involved in this are three young female therapists with anxiety and fear of retribution. Which shouldn’t be the case but speaks to the atmosphere at work right now.

      1. Alice's Rabbit*

        Legally speaking, your partners must be compensated for the time they worked on the move. A for-profit business can’t accept volunteer labor like that. If you are paid hourly, you also need to be compensated. But even if you are exempt, I would still ask for time off in exchange for the hours worked.
        As for the conflict avoidance… I truly do understand that, but this is business, and maybe framing it that way will help you. This is not a personal grievance. This is a legal issue.

    9. Lontra Canadensis*

      I would expect “helping” with the move to be things like keeping an eye on handling of fussy equipment, personal stuff above/beyond boxes to your desk (like my succulents and framed photos), directing things to the right place on arrival, etc. That’s what happened in our office move umpty years ago, but it was on a normal work day that we were paid for.

      The worst thing about our move was shifting the file boxes during packing/unpacking – they weren’t standard banker’s boxes, they were stupidly big beasts that would hold an entire lateral file drawer!

    10. Leslie Knope*

      It’s definitely a dick move! This happened to me once while working at a restaurant. Many places I had worked before had a mandatory “deep clean day” where all hands had to be on deck and we did duties that only had to be done periodically. We were clocked in, but were paid a larger hourly wage considering servers make less than minimum wage. However, this one restaurant pulled a doozie on us. They divided up into groups and my group was given paint rollers, exterior paint, and instructions to repaint the walls of the building that faced the patio. It was January, so I had a coat, but it was one I hadn’t planned on needing to wear while I was cleaning. No one wanted to complain because we didn’t want to be fired, so we all tried our best to be careful and not get paint on our clothes. I ended up getting paint splatters on my coat sleeve (a nice North Face that I had saved up to buy). I was livid!!! That restaurant had all kinds of management issues, but this was the icing on the cake. Using your employees as cheap labor to do a job that should have been done by a professional. I couldn’t get the paint off, so to this day that coat is a reminder of a very toxic work situation.

    11. Jadelyn*

      “What if someone had had an injury or condition that would allow them to “help,” but not to do the actual move themselves?”

      This. I have back problems. I can carry some boxes between car and building, sure. But moving furniture? That involves bending, twisting, a whole lot of stuff I can’t do. If something like this got sprung on me, I’d be furious, because I’d feel like I had no choice but to pitch in and do things I physically can’t safely do for fear of seeming lazy or unhelpful, which could trigger a serious flare-up that leaves me quite literally bedridden for a week or two. You don’t spring this stuff on people, ever.

      1. AKchic*

        I have dealt with an administrative move and had to supervise an entire vault of client files to be moved. That meant I watched every boxed client file get loaded into the truck, followed that truck, and watched it all get unloaded into the new, secure file room.
        All while on crutches because I had a broken foot.
        My own stuff? It got to my office by a second set of movers. I also made sure the CEO, VP and my boss (3rd in command) all had their stuff delivered (I packed all three of them prior to the move and had the packing lists). I am so glad I made sure to get full-sized candy bars for the move because I spent a lot of time pestering the IT department and the movers to help me since I couldn’t actually do any lifting (I already have spine damage, so my broken foot really hampered me).

        What that office did was really terrible. If anyone got hurt, a half-hearted lunch wouldn’t cover the medical bills.

    1. Zombeyonce*

      I also wonder if any of them had to get a babysitter so they and their partner could help the office move. I would be furious if this happened to me, especially on a weekend!

      1. Jojo*

        Plus, I’m not really understanding how there might have been a chance the employer thought “helping” meant doing the actual move. Let’s just say I would be super-wary of any requests to now help clean the new premises/restrooms/landscaping etc.

        1. Quickbeam*

          Personally, I’d have walked away once I realized the ask was for the entire move. But I have a mobility impairment and would not jeopardize my abilities for free heavy lifting. Hopefully OP would learn from this going forward but I can’t see that after the fact they’ll be able to get compensation.

    2. Bree*

      I think partners billing for time and even the therapists asking for compensation comparable to professional movers after the fact all comes off a bit harsh, for something that could have been just a genuine misunderstanding about what “helping out” meant. Unless it’s part of a pattern of the employer taking advantage, I wouldn’t assume ill-will.

      If it is just a misunderstanding, the simplest thing to do might be to ask for an extra paid day off to make up for the time.

      1. Alice's Rabbit*

        There’s no misunderstanding about the partners needing to be paid. Legally, a for profit company – yes, including therapists – cannot accept volunteer labor. The business can get into big trouble otherwise.

    3. The Cosmic Avenger*

      You can’t really bill for something after the fact, the tacit agreement on pay would be nothing if you were asked to show up and work without any discussion of pay. Otherwise people could bill for ridiculous amounts after the fact.

      And as for babysitting, I would have been very suspicious of any employer asking for a non-employee to contribute unpaid labor, and would have had trouble not laughing at their request! The more I think about it, the more the assumption of unpaid work makes me wonder if this is one of those “like a family” places that uses emotional leverage to get unpaid work out of people.

      1. Passive Therapist LW3*

        “The more I think about it, the more the assumption of unpaid work makes me wonder if this is one of those “like a family” places that uses emotional leverage to get unpaid work out of people.”

        I’ve been here less than a year but so far I’m going to say – yes.

    4. cmcinnyc*

      My spidey sense would definitely have gone off the second I was asked to include my partner. My partner does not work here! We just did a major (professional) move, and there was a lot of “helping” from all of us, but it was all reasonable stuff: take your personal stuff home by X date (so it doesn’t get broken/lost); clear out your files so we’re not moving stuff that should be shredded/recycled, please put these sticky tags on the boxes you were given and your equipment so it will all find its way to your new desk. THAT is reasonable helping. And I can’t imagine how my husband could contribute beyond maybe showing up end of day to help me take home a big plant or something? But that would be me asking him for a hand, not my company presuming to ask my husband, WHO DOES NOT WORK HERE, for labor/assistance. Hindsight 20/20, but that would have been the moment for a “Wait–what?”

      1. Passive Therapist LW3*

        Reflection on this and these comments are making me realize how much of my work history has included lax boundaries like this. I worked for a political campaign in my early twenties, which is work that is basically completely lacking in any boundaries at all. My first job as a therapist was at a community mental health center and all of the therapists had to provide everything themselves, so I was used to husbands showing up to help. At this job we’re somewhere between independent contractors and full employees (which is a strange boundary in and of itself) and I think I’m still very much in the independent contractor, work for a company that can’t afford anything mindset.

        1. Arts Akimbo*

          “At this job we’re somewhere between independent contractors and full employees (which is a strange boundary in and of itself)”

          That sounds… illegal. Are you sure you’re not being illegally classified?

      2. Filosofickle*

        My spidey sense would have picked up on the partner thing, too. Employees being there to provide directions to the movers and pack / oversee their personal belongings would make sense. But why would partners be needed, if not to be more hands? And that many hands would be in the way of the movers…unless they are the movers.

    5. Lord Gouldian Finch*

      The use of people’s domestic partners sets off my lawyer-sense. You can’t volunteer labor for a for-profit business, which I assume this is (being a counselling practice it could be set up as a not for profit, admittedly). And movers make serious bucks for a good reason. It’s been a long time since I worked as one, probably about twenty years, but even then I was making over $15 an hour.

      Although the employee themselves might not be entitled to extra pay, I do wonder if their employer was OSHA compliant during the move. Moving furniture can require a lot of special equipment as well as knowledge to do it safely.

      1. Trish*

        I’m with you. Employees working over a weekend, while not a good situation is legal (as long as they are exempt). But non-employees working for free, is definitely not.

  3. sheworkshardforthemoney*

    We say “I love you” when someone does something small and unexpected like specialty coffee from the good coffee shop in the middle of a busy day.

    1. EggEgg*

      People in my office have definitely been known to say this in a casual situation like this. I’ve done it myself, just a few times. But! We’re mostly social workers in a small organization and our relationships with coworkers are unusually close-knit.

    2. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

      Yeah, I think I’ve heard it used in a similar context – but it’s very definitely among friends, not casual work colleagues (maybe work BFFs if they socialise out of the office as well) and the tone usually conveys “you’re a lifesaver and I appreciate this gift you have given me”.

      It’s still a bit weird even if said in the above slightly jokey, light-hearted way. The only person I know who says “I love you” with any amount of regularity is my mother in law on calls to my husband (his reply is usually “yeah, love you too” because the frequency of saying it makes *him* feel uncomfortable, and this is *family* – she says it because she needs reassurance and there’s a whole carousel of emotional baggage to unpack there…)

      1. Myrin*

        Yeah, as someone whose mothertongue isn’t English, what you describe in your first paragraph is basically the only scenario where I’ve ever heard someone say “I love you” – the only other situation is when telling your partner that you, well, love them, and even that I’m somewhat sure I’ve never actually heard anyone say outside of movies. We are, as a people, certainly more “frigid” than most English-speaking nations but I’d honestly say it’s more of a language thing in that it just sounds super weird.
        (And as such, the entire first letter weirds me out, but I recognise that that’s not something I can competently and relevantly comment on because of my background.)

        1. MK*

          Oddly, I come from people who are considered more warm and expressive than Anglosaxons, and this sounds super weird to me too. We are a lot less reserved, much more tactile and have fewer social boundaries, but saying I love you would be seen as a cheesy american thing.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            I’m an American, and it seems a cheesy “wheeler dealer” stereotype from bad movies.
            (For the record, I’m just over 50, from the “baby bust” generation. I’ve spent my life having schools and programs close or cut drastically because budgets had beeen set for the boomers ahead of me, so I see some personal irony in the phrase of the day being “OK boomer” now.)

            1. Alienor*

              I’m 48 and feel the same way about that, and also it chaps my hide that apparently everyone over about 35 is now lumped in with boomers despite being very different demographics. 40-year-olds aren’t even Gen X now, they’re millennials!

            2. juliebulie*

              Oh yes, same. I am an Xer (a true Buster, though I haven’t heard that term in ages) and I feel little in common with Boomers or Millenials to the extent that it’s even a relevant concept (it some ways we did grow up in different worlds).

              In other words, I think the generational talk is mostly nonsense – but if we must do it, I will assert my proper generational identity.

              I think the real problem with “I love you” is reflected in the oodles of letters Alison has published over the years about people having a difficult time with boundaries. If someone you have a crush on tells you they love you, and your social sophistication is… weak, you might misunderstand what’s being said. (Which is not much.)

            1. MK*

              Saying “I love you” to people that you love isn’t. Using the words as a general expression of appreciation to all and sundry (much like we say “how are you” when you basically mean “hey there”) can be viewed as part of the stereotype of U.S. Americans being cheesy (a.k.a. overly effusive, offering over-the-top and incensere compliments, being inappropriately and overbearingly friendly, etc.) from films.

              1. Red Spider*

                American movies are not representative of American life. Please don’t make assumptions about an incredibly diverse group of 330 million people based on what you see in movies. In fact, most Americans I know are NOT “overly effusive, offering over-the-top and incensere compliments, being inappropriately and overbearingly friendly”. There are plenty of American commenters right here in this thread who are saying that I love you is not an appropriate thing to say to coworkers.

                1. Traffic_Spiral*

                  I’m guessing you don’t leave the country much? American culture is far friendlier than most. It’s a pretty well-known fact. We’re basically considered the world’s golden retrievers.

                2. MK*

                  I did point out that it was a stereotype and I am perfectly well aware that films do not accurately represent anything, and also that people of any nationality are going to be diverse in their personalities. But I have lived my whole life in a country that is a popular tourist destination and I can say, from my own personal observation, that at least the stereotype of the loud, overly enthusiastic and overbearing American tourist is not without basis in fact. I do not claim that they are representative of their whole nation, and possibly their behaviour on holiday is not indicative of their professional personas, but then neither are AAM readers, who are more concerned with professionalism than the average person and I think tend to slant introverted.

                3. Red Spider*

                  @Traffic_Spiral. I am a duel US/UK citizen and I’ve traveled quite extensively. That’s why I’m so confused by the “Americans are overly friendly” stereotype. I actually find that Americans are no more likely to be overly friendly than Brits, Canadians, or Australians.

                4. londonedit*

                  It may be a stereotype, but the fact is that the scenario where you go into a restaurant in America and you’re greeted by someone saying ‘Hi! Welcome! Hope you’re all having a wonderful day! My name is Jane and I’m so happy to be your server this evening! If there’s anything you need at all, just let me know and I’ll be right over!’ is what we imagine when we think of customer service in America (many of us having experienced it first-hand ourselves) and it’s very different from the way customer service is usually handled in, for example, Britain. And as such, many Brits feel more than a little uncomfortable in that sort of situation. We don’t even like it when we go into a shop and a member of staff comes up and asks if they can help with anything. We prefer to be left alone until we’ve had a look round and decided whether we’re going to buy anything. Hence why the idea of people going around saying ‘I love you’ to colleagues at work is also at odds with our expectations for workplace behaviour.

                5. Red Spider*

                  @MK and @londonedit. I’ve spent half my life in the US and half my life in the UK. The differences are actually not as extreme as you seem to think. I’ve have overly effusive servers in the UK, I’ve run into obnoxious British tourists in the US, and no coworker in either country has ever told me that they love me. 

                6. MK*

                  Red Spider, it’s not about what I “think”, it’s about what I have observed. I have met a pretty equal number of American and British people. The British tend to be distant; if they are civil, they are politely distant, if they are obnoxious, they are rudely cold. The American tend to be effusive; if they are well-mannered, they come across as endearingly enthusiastic (though somewhat insencere*), if not, they are being boorish. Of course not every single person is going to behave as the extreme version of their nation’s stereotype, but the difference in culture is definitely and distinctily there.

                  *Insencere not in the sense that they are hypocrits, more in that their friendliness is a matter of manner, not actual feeling towards the other person.

                7. Myrin*

                  We can argue about this until the cows come home – which I’m not going to do because it’ll just be derailing – but what’s at the core of MK’s comments is talk of a “stereotype of U.S. Americans being cheesy”/overly enthusiastic, and that stereotype is factually something that exists (at least in all parts of Europe I’m familiar with; it might be very different in Asia or Africa), and casual “I love you”s fit that stereotype exactly.

        2. Miso*

          Oh god yes, I would never tell my friends that I love them. Honestly, even the idea of telling that to a romantic partner in a public setting, say a wedding, stresses me out. Not that I’m anywhere close to that…

          Funny thing is though, I find it way easier to actually say “I love you” than “Ich liebe dich”. I guess even though it means the same there is a difference in the feeling since English isn’t my native language.

          1. Quickbeam*

            Years ago 60 Minutes was interviewing a famous Finnish singer. She sang a lot of florid love songs in English. The interviewer asked her to say “I love you” in Finnish and she blushed intensely and could barely say the words. She said “it’s not done, we don’t do that” as an explanation. However she was fine belting out “I love you I love you I love you” in English.

          2. Janet, Sower of Chaos*

            Well, “I love you” also means “I habe dich lieb,” eh? We used that pretty widely when I lived in Germany, although that was years ago.

        3. Quill*

          I remember doing spanish conversation in college and our very amused TA telling us that no one actually says “Me amo pizza” because “Te amo” (literally I love you) is a phrase that you should probably save for marriage. And us explaining that “te quiero” (literally I want you) sounded dirty to us, and not just because we were all 18.

          1. Doc in a Box*

            Ditto in French! Je t’aime is stronger than je t’adore, which confuses American teens no end. And don’t get me started on what happens when French lycéens read 17th/18th century French romantic literature where the verb “baiser,” which used to mean “to kiss,” now mean … er, something rather more. (“Un baiser” is still “a kiss” as a noun, so Americans can continue being confused/embarrassing themselves when they tell their new Parisian sweetie, “Je veux te baiser partout!”)

    3. Pearl Jammer*

      I was just going to say, the only time I can imagine “I love you”-ing a coworker is if they surprised me with an amazing coffee… and even then it would be with select colleagues only.

      1. Beth*

        Me too. And even then it would be in a clearly light-hearted, grateful but not serious kind of way with those certain colleagues.

    4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      This is my experience as well.

      Or if they see you’re so busy that you can’t get up to snag your own pizza/donut from the breakroom. So they bring you something so you don’t miss out or starve yourself into a midafternoon headache.

  4. Gaia*

    OP 5, not only does she not need to pre-emptively mention it was online, I would strongly suggest she not do so. Because of shady for profit “colleges,” some folks still lump all online coursework under an umbrella of “degree mill.” It sounds like she attended a regular, brick and mortar, college that happens to offer their program online as well. I did the same to finish my degree. It is pretty obvious when looking at my resume closely but it has literally never been mentioned.

    The one caveat: there are some schools who issue their degrees that were earned online through a separate “online” college (think: B.A. in Llama Herding Studies from University of Gaia that offers the same program online but will issue the degrees from University of Gaia Online). In those cases, it is important to use the name of the degree granting college.

    1. AcademiaNut*

      Yes to the last paragraph. You don’t need to specify that it’s an online degree, but you do need to accurately list the name of the university – for example, if you got your degree through the Harvard Extension School, you don’t simply list Harvard for your degree.

      1. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

        Ding ding ding! I verify people’s degrees as part of my work. Pleasepleaseplease use the correct school name on your resume (or at minimum, on the authorization form that they’ll likely have you sign if they intend to check such things – most schools in the US require authorization before they’ll release any info. Actually, Harvard Business School is one of the rare exceptions…) If you tell me you went to Harvard University, I’m going to contact the Harvard University registrar, which is not the same as the Harvard Business School registrar, or they Harvard Extension, or the Harvard School of Public Health, or…

        That said, most schools will not even mention in their verification whether the degree was obtained online or attending classes in-person. Because it’s irrelevant. Just make sure you list the school name accurately.

      2. Migraine Sufferer*

        Exactly this. Some schools are (understandably) pretty frosty about you hiding that you went to a different ‘college’ than the one most people think of when they hear PrestigousUniversityName. And it makes sense in those cases – Harvard Extension School has no real application requirements, while Harvard is… Harvard. Harvard extension school even has an entire FAQ page on how to list degrees from there on their website (hint, do not simply put ‘harvard’ on your LinkedIn profile).

        Another example I can think of is that Penn State is explicitly different from “Penn State World Campus” which is their online university. I don’t think it would be fair to put just “Penn State” on your resume, but you don’t need to go out of your way to clarify that World Campus = online.

        When I was looking at online MBAs, some schools specifically advertised that you receive a degree from the ‘actual college’ and not from ‘college online’ as a selling feature. In this case, it means that the application process, odds of getting in, faculty, and test standards are all exactly equivalent.

        1. Deanna Troi*

          Actually, Penn State explicitly states that they AREN’T different. Their website actually states “Our online courses are the same courses that we offer on campus. Therefore, your diploma will look no different from those earned by students on our physical campus. It will not differentiate the method of delivery or state that your degree was earned online.” Given this, I disagree that it would be unfair to not specify that you got your degree from their World Campus. If Penn State doesn’t see any difference, why should anyone else?

    2. Person of Interest*

      I did the same as Gaia – did an online Masters degree that was the exact same program as they offered on campus. I just list the name of the university on my resume. Sometimes it comes up when interviewers notice that I was attending school in one city while working in another and then I can explain the circumstances, but most probably assume I was working remotely, not the other way around. I suppose removing the date for my schooling would get around that, but I think it helps explain my unusual career path. I’ve wondered how the online degree is generally received though, so I appreciate the question!

      1. Gaia*

        Yep. Because my work can be (and often is) done remotely, I think most people reviewing my resume that notice my degree was completed in one state while my employment was in another assume I was working remotely. This is especially true since I now exclusively look for remote work opportunities and because I completed my degree several years into my career.

      2. Aerin*

        That came up for my husband. He kept getting calls about jobs in the Northeast, and they were really confused when he told them he lived in the Midwest. It wasn’t a huge hurdle to getting hired, but it was annoying and frustrating when he wasn’t getting many good leads.

    3. Goldfinch*

      My husband used to teach ESOL, and their master’s degrees are often a partnership program by Big State U and South American U, or Big State U and Island U.

      Sorting out who certifies what is a PITA to begin with, but when Maria wiped out Puerto Rico, some of his colleagues who had recently graduated couldn’t get their degrees confirmed for hire.

      So TL;DR: If you have some sort of specialty degree with an unusual structure, get your ducks in a row ASAP.

  5. Sales Geek*

    To #3: in order to (I assume) save a buck your employers assumed a liability risk the size of Manhattan. If someone had injured themselves or had an accident while moving it would have easily bankrupted the firm. No doubt you’ll get an answer questioning your continuing work there but it’s at least a huge yellow flag on their professional judgement. Given this and recent events I’d look closely at how and whom handles your payroll…another place where everyone tries to save a buck and has little to no visibility to the employees or public.

    To #1: my first thought at this was as some kind of hyper-local version of “Bless your heart” (I live in the South) or the more subtle form of calling someone out in a meeting used commonly within my previous employer: “Help me understand…” Or is it something along of the Duck Club?

      1. EggEgg*

        I actually found a listing for an Airbnb today that offers access to the “members only Duck Club.” It’s apparently a hunting thing, but it certainly made me snicker.

    1. Delta Delta*

      I think if there was an injury it would have been a workers compensation injury, as this was clearly a part of work for the company. At least the company would have insurance to cover that. And if they didn’t that’s a whole separate problem.

      1. Fae*

        It would have been workers comp for the people who actually work there, but not for the partners of those employees. IANAL, but having non-employees doing work for the company (when they haven’t been contracted through a third party), could open them up to liability if the non-employee was hurt.

        1. Jen Mahrtini*

          The employees’ worker’s comp rating is almost certainly not a category that covers moving furniture, boxes, etc., could have caused an issue for the company if there was a claim.

      2. just a random teacher*

        When I slipped and fell on a icy walkway because my school district decided to have a “staff report, students stay home” snow day and then they decided that would be an excellent day to have me move all of my classroom stuff out to my new portable by myself, workers comp definitely got involved. (I do not think they were amused.)

    2. Passive Therapist LW3*

      Sales, I completely agree about the flag on their judgement. I also recently realized just how much their… compensation decisions? Are certainly more profit-focused than employee-focused.

  6. Gaia*

    OP 1 – I do think there is a move in younger generations (says the elder millennial!) to be more openly expressive. I’m in my mid 30s and see it even among my age group. I think in many cases it takes the place of “I appreciate you” when said as part of a greeting or parting.

    That doesn’t mean it inherently belongs in the workplace. I’ve worked some places where this would be very much no big deal and others where it would be very much a big deal. It is all about knowing your culture.

    1. Lena Clare*

      I can’t say I’ve noticed that amongst the people I work with. Perhaps it’s because we work with a variety of ages, perhaps it’s because of where we work – it is a caring profession, and boundaries are necessarily strictly enforced – or because we’re English! I don’t know.

      I think it’s an expression that doesn’t mean anything if it’s said as an end to a conversation. I’d rather words mean what they say!

    2. Asenath*

      Maybe the younger generations are more expressive; although I can’t say I’ve encountered one of them telling me they love me, except possibly in a very informal way – Me: “Here’s that document we thought we couldn’t get in the time.” and even then “You’re the greatest!” would be much more common than “Love you!”. In a work context, it would sound odd to me, although just possibly OK casually between good friends when one has done the other a favour. On the other hand, it doesn’t sound at all odd for a taxi driver to say “Where do you want to go, love?” and it’s usually the older drivers who address their passengers as “love”, not the younger ones.

    3. Quill*

      I’ve found that “appreciate ya” is more of a middle aged person thing? then again I’m from the midwest, where we aggressively hold doors open for each other and say “gonna sneak past ya.”

    4. cmcinnyc*

      Some of the younger people here are pretty effusive with “you’re the BEST!” and “rock star!” I don’t think I’ve heard “I love you” outside of our team (meaning, between team members, usually when someone solves a headache for someone else). I have never assumed this meant that any of my team actually think I am the BEST, a literal rock star, or in fact love me. I know I have occasionally saved their butts and they are grateful and appreciative professionally. These are the words the kids use to express this.

    5. two cents*

      I guess I question why one needs to be so “openly expressive” at the office. In one’s personal life sure. And certainly you should be able to advocate for yourself at work. But if someone tells me they love me because I sent them a spreadsheet I’m going to give major side-eye. Not to mention I’ll discount it as completely fake and also kind of infantilizing? It feels like the same kind of crap that guys in other departments used to pull before they’d ask for a favor. Like, “oh you’re the best, that absolute best, tops in my book! Hey you’ll stay till 4am to do this project I ignored for the last month, right?”

  7. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#4, you may have to threaten to quit your second job to get traction.

    Whoever your contact is at the school is being pretty flagrantly dismissive of your time and boundaries. They are not listening to you, they are not doing their job by ensuring adequate coverage of core courses, and I’m sure they’re not compensating you at whatever rate it would cost them to hire coverage or require other instructors to take on those classes. He’s hoping you’ll completely miss what he’s done and then be stuck doing something you explicitly said you would not do.

    But you’re in luck, because this isn’t your primary job, and you don’t have to worry that he’s going to destroy your tenure file or contract. So I would pull the “I am a very dedicated volunteer and you are making it incredibly hard to continue to volunteer” card.

    I would also memorialize all your conversations with him afterward. So, if he asks you in person to teach X and you say no, I’d send him an email afterward synopsizing the exchange. I’m sorry he’s making it so difficult for you to do a good thing.

    1. Grits McGee*

      Yeah, I was wondering at what point it would make sense for OP4 to start… not making threats, per se, but delineating consequences. Even if OP 4 successfully holds the line, I know I would be uncomfortable with the optics of OP’s current situation, where from the outside it kind of looks like she’s flaking out on commitments (even though that’s 100% not on her and 110% boss’s fault).

      1. OP (#4)*

        Hey! OP here. “From the outside it kind of looks like she’s flaking out on commitments” is totally part of the problem. Students see my name on lists and email me questions about the class, ask for help, etc. and I’m left explaining that the school made a mistake which makes no one look good.

        Realistically, I do probably just have to quit at this point. I’ve held the line with him when I can’t teach, but it hasn’t stopped it from occurring again in the future.

        1. MCL*

          As someone who hires continuing education instructors for my university program, this situation he is putting you in totally horrifies me. I think you should quit, unfortunately. If there is another place where you could teach remotely or another higher education game in town, those would be other options.

        2. Kat*

          I can understand why you don’t want to make anyone look bad but your BOSS is the one making the school look bad, not you. Stop taking on those feelings of guilt cuz I bet your boss is capitalizing on that. I’d continue responding to emails the way you have been, but I’d then put the work on the students to follow up with the administration or your boss to find out who IS teaching the course. Maybe if people start bugging your boss instead of you circling back to him, they’ll realize you’re not going to let the pressure of “looking bad” fall on you when it should fall on him.

          1. Witchy Human*

            It would be an aggressive move, but you could start copying him. “I was listed for this in error. I’m CC’ing Boss, who should be able to assist you with identifying the correct instructor to contact.”

          2. fhqwhgads*

            I don’t think it’s “taking on the feelings of guilt” though. Yes, the BOSS is the one actually doing it, but to outsiders who don’t know how it came about, it makes OP look bad too. Doing the things you said won’t necessarily mitigate that to the third parties. So it’s reasonable to want to cut this off entirely.

            1. Kat*

              I disagree. To outside third parties it doesn’t look bad to say “sorry I’m not teaching the course, that must be an error, here’s who you should follow up with to find out who the instructor will be as I don’t have that info”. Lots of people in any number of businesses get calls or emails about something in error and have to forward the person on. A third party might think it reflects poorly on the school that they made a mistake but any reasonable person is not going to think poorly of the LW if they handle it politely and professionally.

        3. STEMPhD*

          So I used to adjunct for summers at an institution. They signed me up to teach the same course as the year before without ever asking me. For idiosyncratic reasons (aren’t all reasons idiosyncratic in higher ed?), the summer program is administered separately from the normal semester at that institution. They did this two years in a row–the first year, I could teach it, but the second year, I couldn’t.

          The second time they signed me up to teach a class without ever asking me, I emailed, cc-ing my department chair, my department’s dean, and the registrar, being very firm and pointing out that this was the second time they did this. My department chair and dean were royally pissed (not at me!) because it’s hard to get a good adjunct for these courses that are not-quite introductory but still needed by a lot of students. Scrambling for a good instructor is hard, and cancelling the course (which they ended up doing both years). Both my chair and dean know me to be a reasonable person, and they like keeping me happy. This is in STEM, where few folks go the adjunct route because it’s very easy to pivot to tech. I love to teach and have worked it out with my normally research-focused gig to take two months “off” every summer to teach, so I’m a rare bird. I haven’t gone the TT route because of family reasons, and this works well for me. If you are a rare bird, too, you are valuable! Some administrators hear “adjunct” and assume “dime a dozen, can get a new one” but that’s just not true for many subjects.

          The next year, there was a form for instructors to sign before the registrar would list the course! Institutional change! Magic! No one got screwed again! I never heard from the registrar in all of this, but if there’s an office that loves problems to be solved by forms, it’s the registrar, so I’m sure this solution came from them.

          If you are prepared to quit anyways, I would alert someone up the food chain to this behavior. Odds are high nothing will change, but it might! One school that employs a few hundred summer adjuncts now has an official, Summer Adjunct Agreement form, entirely because I made a fuss.

          1. ChimericalOne*

            Going over Boss’s head is a really good idea if you’re on the verge of quitting & would probably be considered a valuable resource. Boss is clearly in the wrong here — if the school is even half-decent, someone above him will crack down on this.

            1. Just Elle*

              Yes, agreed.

              I get that OP really cares about the schools mission and wants to help out. But clearly, the boss doesn’t hold the same values of OP – or at the very least cares so much boss is trying to bully OP into doing things OP can’t actually do??

              Either way, there’s gotta be someone above Boss who cares about doing the right thing for both OP and the school. So go to them.

        4. Veronica*

          I don’t work in academia myself, but… are there people above your boss you can go to? He really needs to be reined in before he completely screws up everything.

        5. ChimericalOne*

          If I were you — and didn’t want to have to quit — I would start by making it clear that that’s your next step. Something along the lines of Alison’s script, followed by, “Managing this issue has become quite time-consuming for me. If this happens again, I will no longer be able to work for XYZ School.”

          1. Librarian of SHIELD*

            And THIS is the email that you want to copy all of your department higher ups on. State how many times this has been done and how disruptive it has been both for you and your students, and say that if this behavior continues you will not be able to continue your partnership with the school. If your boss’s boss and your department’s dean and advisory staff don’t know this is happening, an email like this would definitely put them on notice.

        6. Observer*

          Is there anyone you could look in to this situation? If not, it sounds like quitting is going to be your only choice.

        7. AKchic*

          If he isn’t the highest person you can talk to, cc his supervisor when it happens again. Because it *will* happen again.
          “As I stated in my last email (see attached), I am not able to teach this class. Please make alternative arrangements. I have asked you not to volunteer me for additional classes without my prior consent, or volunteer me for classes after I have already said I have prior engagements. I cannot change my schedule to accommodate this class.”

          It may seem harsh, but it alerts the higher boss that this has been a point of contention on more than one occasion, and that he has been doing this anyway. Does he do this to just you, or does he do this to everyone?

        8. Product Person*

          Realistically, I do probably just have to quit at this point. I’ve held the line with him when I can’t teach, but it hasn’t stopped it from occurring again in the future.

          The “when I can’t teach” is your answer. Alison alluded to this problem in her answer: if sometimes you go with the flow and teach a class that your boss assigned to you without checking with you first, well, you’re teaching him that it will work at least part of the time. You’d have to hold a firm “no” for any classes you hadn’t agreed to beforehand for your boss to truly learn the lesson and stop with this behavior.

    2. Kat*

      I agree with this. That said, I have a feeling the boss is still going to continue doing it.

      I think if the LW does not want to quit then they need to stop playing this game and solely focus on doing the work they agreed to. Right now the boss knows the LW is checking for their name to be in places where it shouldn’t and then hoping they’ll feel pressured to do the work anyhow. Stop looking for their name where it should not be, and if you see it somewhere it should not be, just pretend you never saw it. Then let the chips fall back onto your boss and if they get upset you didn’t show up you can say “I clearly told you no and that was the end of our conversation. I’m confused why you signed me up against my wishes, then didn’t say anything, and then expected me to know you did that without telling me. Why did you do that?” Or “You didn’t ask me and I’ve told you to explicitly check with me. Why did you then assume I’d be available without talking to me again?”

      I did something similar at work where people kept emailing my personal email by mistake even after I told them a few times to delete my personal email from their address book so that I wouldn’t miss messages. After a few times of having to forward emails back to myself at work only for the thread to continue to being sent to my personal account I just stopped doing anything about it. Then when I didn’t reply and I was asked “didn’t you get that email?” I’d say “what email?”. I would NOT ask if they sent it to my personal account, I’d just keep saying I double checked and didn’t get the email, sorry, they must not have included me on it. Then the person would eventually check their sent mail and realize their mistake. After a few times of that my personal email got deleted from people’s computers real quick. Eg ery time I checked my personal account specifically for emails that were work related and then responded to the person from my work email, they got what they needed from me, so why should they change their behaviour? Once I stopped looking for emails in any place other than where they should be, and responded only to emails I got in my work account, I stopped making extra work for myself and people quickly realized they’d only get a response going through correct channels. Sometimes no matter what you do or say, if people know you’re going to catch their mistakes they don’t bother to behave differently. As soon as you stop taking on that burden and people have to deal with the fallout of THEIR mistakes, they change faster.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        I like this better than going over the boss’ head. Ideally, OP#4 shouldn’t be responsible for fixing their boss’ (intentional) mistakes! I think it’s obvious that the boss is trying to manipulate the OP into something, and often the best response to emotional manipulation like that is to completely ignore it. I’d personally send one email reminding them that it’s my understanding that I’m only doing X, and won’t be able to do anything else, and maybe on that CC someone higher up, then stop checking, and if I got any emails from students about a class I wasn’t scheduled to teach, I’d simply tell them that I wasn’t teaching it.

        But then, I’ve never been in academia, and I know it’s a different culture/environment. YMMV.

    3. Accounting is Fun*

      As someone that schedules adjuncts, I’m horrified by this, but not surprised. My department chair will do this to my adjuncts, saying I want Melisandre to teach this class and puts her in the schedule without asking her or me. She’s said no so I scheduled Jon Snow and put him in the schedule because he wants to teach the class, but the department chair will change it. My department chair used to do my job and was promoted out because he lost too many good adjuncts with him pulling these stunts. It’s not appropriate and not right. Definitely say no and let his boss know he’s doing this.

  8. RM*

    For #1, your coworker doesn’t happen to be Buddy the Elf, does it? That would certainly explain this. (I may or may not have seen that movie twice this fall already…).

    1. Airy*

      Or for pizzazz, “You have reached the Grand Funk Railroad and the JANE TRAIN is pulling into the station, woo-woo!”

        1. Traffic_Spiral*

          Or just “For the last time, I don’t know HOW the llama got in there! Wait, who is this?”

          1. Quill*

            “Hi, this is [name] if you don’t know what to do with the beep, I can’t help you.”

            – my brother’s answering machine until WELL into college.

        2. juliebulie*

          This is how I am mostly likely to answer the phone when I answer it at all. I get so many garbage calls now (calls that aren’t real calls – robocalls, telemarketers, political campaigns, power company telling me not to touch live wires, etc.) that I rarely answer.

          So I dread my next job search, when I will probably have to answer with my actual name, which (in the rare case that it’s a live person) I’ll be giving the telemarketer the advantage of knowing my name. (When they don’t know who they’re calling, it’s a much clearer signal that you can hang up on them.)

          1. Just Elle*

            Yes – I am so awkward now. If I feel forced into answering a call because I’m expecting one from a random number, I awkwardly wait without saying anything for a full 20 seconds praying it won’t be some robot who now knows they’ve got a live phone number. Which leads to the other side awkwardly going “erm, hello…?”

            So. Yeah. I got nothing.

          2. What was I doing SQUIRREL!*

            I say “Hello” slowly and in a robotic monotone. And if a few seconds pass without a response, I hang up. (And yeah, whenever I’m next job searching, that’s going to be a royal pain to adjust for.)

            Occasionally when I get a call that sounds like it’s one of those AI systems, I’m tempted to respond with something extremely inappropriate involving lots of lubricants, some plastic tubing, and a yak, but so far I’ve resisted because on the off chance that it’s a real human with a horrible job, I don’t want to make their day any worse.

            1. What was I doing SQUIRREL!*

              (I should note that this is my home and cell phone response; on my work phone, I answer with my name.)

      1. PollyQ*

        With the Pips in the background, making the “pulling the steam whistle” motion in unison, while singing in harmony!

    2. Np*

      Yes, but that only works with easily pronounced names. My name is polysyllabic and foreign and if I ever answered like that it would be followed by “sorry, did you say that was —“?

      Also no one I have ever worked or collaborated with (and I’m in a very traditional industry) has ever answered the phone with “This is Jane”. Maybe I’ve just not encountered it yet!

      Whenever I’ve done phone interviews (both as an interviewer and an interviewee), a simple “hello?” sufficed at all times (although I agree that sounding surprised when answering a scheduled call would put me off a bit).

      1. Zombeyonce*

        I (and co-workers) regularly answer the phone with versions of “This is Jane”. And for a name that could be harder to pronounce, I’d imagine it’s a relief for an interviewer to hear how it’s pronounced without having to ask.

        1. Jimming*

          +1,000! Even if I look up name pronunciation ahead of time, there are differences in how names are pronounced. If I can hear the person introduce themselves it helps me to learn their name faster and not guess at pronunciation. I wish everyone answered the phone that way.

      2. Alianora*

        But if it’s a scheduled interview, won’t they at least know what your name looks like (if not how it’s pronounced) and be expecting you?

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Right, it’s actually helpful when someone with an unfamiliar (to the caller) name answers with “hi, this is Name” because the caller can take note of how to pronounce it.

          1. Silvercat*

            In my experience, it doesn’t help. I have a name with a spelling that can be pronounced (at least?) two different ways and the majority of people go for the wrong one. Even if I clearly say, “Hello, this is Nay-me” they ask “Is this Name?” My first sentence is clearly mostly an acknowledge meant that a human picked up the phone (which, as someone with an audio processing disorder that makes phone conversations much harder than in face ones, I can relate to)

        2. Just Elle*

          Exactly. I’ve found saying “This is Jane” actually saves me from the awkward inevitable exchange of:
          “Hi, is this J-an-ee?”
          “Yes, this is she.”
          “Oh, hello, this is LlamaCorp, is it still a good time to talk?”
          *accompanied by a really weirded out vibe from Llama Corp hiring manager where shes clearly trying to suss out whether I even remember I had an interview.

          1. Filosofickle*

            That doesn’t always save you from the awkward exchange. More than once recently I answered “This is Jane” and got back “….I’m calling for Jane?” or “is this Jane?”. I enunciate, I swear. Sometimes it seems like they are just unprepared for me to answer and/or identify myself.

      3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Oh, that’s so interesting! I would estimate that 60-70% of my coworkers (from my desk jobs) respond with some variation of “this is [Name].” But I suspect that’s because many of us receive calls forwarded from a main line, or because we’ve inherited our number from someone else.

        1. londonedit*

          Yes, I always answer the phone at work with ‘Hello, londonedit speaking’. If it’s my mobile (which I don’t use for work) and the caller doesn’t come up as a contact I’ll usually just answer with ‘Hello?’ but if I was expecting a call for something like a phone interview, I’d definitely employ the ‘Hello, londonedit speaking’ greeting.

          1. JustaTech*

            This is how I was taught to answer the phone as a child “hello, LastName residence, JustaTech speaking.”

            Now at work I answer the phone (when caller ID doesn’t say who it is) with “Hello, JustaTech speaking.”

        2. Asenath*

          I almost always say “Llama Grooming Office, Asenath speaking”. The exceptions are when I recognize the name and/or number of a regular caller and answer “Hi, Sue”. At one job I had, we all had to watch a video on phone manners, and the video tended to to the more formal methods. That may be why I almost always identify my employer, even though its now a different one. If I were getting a call on my personal phone, maybe for a job interview or screening, I’d drop my usual personal phone opening of “Hello”, and say something like “Hello, Asenath speaking” – just possibly “Hello, Asenath Smith speaking”. I somehow internalized “Asenath speaking” instead of “This is Asenath” at an early age, and that’s what comes to me naturally.

          1. Miso*

            I always answer every phone call with “Workplace, LastName, good morning (/day/evening)”.
            Thing is, we can’t see whether a customer or a colleague is calling, so our colleagues are sometimes a bit weirded out by us being so formal, because they all have the name of the caller on their phone.

            1. Sally*

              When I was in college, I was a receptionist at a law firm during the summers. It was a mix of hilarious and embarrassing when I answered my parents home phone with this same greeting out of habit. There was always an awkward pause from the other person, and then I’d realize what I’d done. I felt like one of Pavlov’s dogs: phone rings = I say “Smith, Johnson, and Jones, how may I help you?”

            2. Seeking Second Childhood*

              Which reminds me that the *reply* to this is also important — Callers should still identify themselves. There was a period of time when I was on an old-style deskphone but others had been upgraded to phones with caller-ID screens and a few were early PC headset users. At least once a day someone would dive right into minutia that didn’t give me context to identify their voice. Ridiculous to have to ask “Who is this?” and remind them that not everyone has a spy phone!
              Years later I’m getting this problem again when people call my office phone from their cell phone which does NOT automatically identify itself in Skype.
              Phone goes “RING RING”
              Answering person answers the phone.
              CALLER says “Hi this is name….” before leading into the issue.

              1. Asenath*

                That really annoys me. Anyone on my employer’s phone system shows up on my desk set, but people outside the system don’t, and one institution we deal with a lot has may phones that display as “private user”. There is exactly one outside caller who never ever identifies herself, and isn’t identified on the phone. At this point, I’m annoyed enough that I ask her for her name even when I do think I know the voice.

          2. That Girl from Quinn's House*

            One place I worked, required everyone to answer the phone as: Thank you for calling Llama Riding Academy, this is Fergus, how can I help you?

            It was impossible to do this in one breath and they were constantly mad at people for cutting the greeting short.

            1. Goldfinch*

              My dermatology office’s greeting is “Hello, you’ve reached the offices of [three 4-syllable Polish names, two of which are repeats because it’s a mother-son team]. How may we direct your call?” A half-hour lunch break is not long enough to call for an appointment.

              1. Parenthetically*

                I get irrationally irritated with long wind-ups in phone answering. “It’s a beautiful day at Van Den Heuvel-Chaudhury-Yamazaki and Partners, LLC, where customer service and excellence are our hyphenated middle names, thank you so much for calling, how may I help you?”

                1. Veronica*

                  I’m instantly put off by such greetings because when I was young I worked at places that required it. We could have been *fired* for not using that stupid long-winded greeting no one wanted to hear. It was so ridiculous – the customer wanted to get down to business and I wanted to do the same, but first that stupid greeting taking up our time. Aaaargh!

              2. Turquoisecow*

                A store I worked at wanted us to answer the phone with “Thank you for calling [store name] of [town], how can I assist you?”

                Unless the manager was standing next to me and I knew they cared about the script, I’d just say “Thank you for calling [town] [store name], how can I help you?” which took half as much time and wouldn’t end up getting me cut off.

                It was especially annoying to go through this long spiel and then it was a simple question like “how late are you open?”

              1. Amy Sly*

                Only by very light-weight humans. They can only carry between 70 and 100 lbs, so they’re most often used as pack animals. I have seen them used for pony rides for children, so it’s not a matter of temperament so much as just weight concerns.

                1. Just Elle*

                  So what you’re telling me, is that I should buy a llama and train my little eskimo dog to ride it? *glee*

            2. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

              I worked at a corporate vet office just after college where the standard phone greeting was “Thank you for calling ABC Pet Hospital, this is Tina, how may I help your pet today?”

              If you said it at normal speed, callers would jump in after you said your name (assuming you were done speaking). If you said it fast enough that they wouldn’t jump in and cut you off, they couldn’t understand you so I’d often get “…uh, is this ABC vet?”. Just one of the many issues working there!

        3. hermit crab*

          Yes! I answer all calls (even on my personal cell, unless it’s my spouse or mom or someone else I’m super close to) with “Hi, this is First Name.” It’s just habit by now but I was specifically taught to do something similar at my first office job.

      4. Jess*

        I tend to say “Hello, you’re speaking with Jess”. (Or at work, “Good afternoon, BUSINESS NAME, you’re speaking with Jess”.

        Because ‘Jess’ has a sibillant ending it all get very smushed up if I say “Hello, Jess speaking.” It turns into “Jesspeaking” which isn’t that clear :-P (Half the time I still get “Jass?” or “Geoff?” and clarify it’s ‘Jessica’, but I thought it’s a good point to make if you have a name ending with an ‘s’ sound and want clearly identify yourself on the phone!

        1. MsMichelle*

          I do the exact opposite, but for the same reason – “Hello, this is Michelle” sounds too awkward, and there are too many ‘is’ sounds for my liking. Smushy is a good description, and I feel like it ends up sounding like “thishisMichelle”. So I do an upbeat and friendly “hello, Michelle speaking” if I don’t recognise the number or I am expecting a business call.

        2. EPLawyer*

          Oh I’m going with this. My name gets smushed up too when I say “This is (real name). ” Now I’ll just say “(real name) speaking.”

          Because I say my name and I still get, Can I speak to EPLawyer. Did I not just say my name?

        3. An Amazing Detective-Slash-Genius*

          This happens to me too. My name starts with an S sound (think like Celeste). So if I answer the phone with “this is Celeste” I get a lot of “hi Les, can I speak to Celeste please?” Argh. I like the “Celeste speaking” suggestion and might use that!

        4. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          I always try to end with my name because it’s an unusual name where I live. “Wakeen speaking” could get parsed as “Wakeenspeed King” or something, whereas “This is Wakeen” cues them that a name is coming so they can figure out where my name starts and stops.

    3. Rexish*

      I’m originally from culture where you don’t say “hello” when aswering your phone. Or you do when the caller ID tells you that it’s someone you know. For official calls or just number on screen you use your full name “Jane Smith” no additional greetings. When I moved into “hello” culture, I really started to appreciate the full name answer culture cause I just couldn’t do the “Is this Jane” thing naturally :D

      1. Myrin*

        Yeah, I’m from the same or at least a neighbouring culture. And whenever that topic comes up – usually on AAM – I find again that I’m weirdly strongly attached to “full name answer culture” and shudder at the thought of answering the phone with nothing but “hello”. I don’t know why that is – I don’t usually care much about etiquette, much less phone etiquette! But I guess it’s just one of those things you’re used to and can’t even begin to imagine being different.

        1. londonedit*

          This is really interesting – my dad always answers his phone with just his first and last name, and I always thought it was a slightly odd thing to do (it’s not the conventional phone greeting in the UK). But he spent most of the last 25 years before he retired working with German and Dutch colleagues, and now I’m thinking he probably picked it up from them!

          1. Carlie*

            My dad also answers his work phone with just his first and last name, which I know because occasionally when I call after a rough day he accidentally does it at home too! And he’s in the US southern midwest.

            I answer at work with “hello, this is first name lastname”, or if it’s an internal call, I leave off the last name.

            My conundrum is that I still haven’t figured out how to answer when the ID tells me who it is. I just can’t shake that it feels odd and a little… rude, maybe? not to go through the standard greeting process and let them identify themselves. But I do get a warm fuzzy feeling when someone answers a call from me with a cheery “Myname! Hello!” so there’s that. But then again sometimes we make calls from other people’s phones, so there’s that…

            1. Gaia*

              I have this same issue. We have a surprisingly robust caller ID system at work so I always know if it is internal or the rare external call. External calls I can answer with ease but internal calls from someone I don’t interact with daily always feel awkward. Do I say my name so they know it’s me even though I’m the only one with access to my number? Do I just say hello? Do I greet them with their name? Aaaah!

        2. Miso*

          My attachment to answering with your full name definitely comes from the time of landlines! I totally started telling a classmate all about homework – only turns out it was the sister who sounded the same on the phone…

          At work now I’m only answering with my last name though, that’s how everyone does it. You’re kinda expected to only sign your last name as well, cause as a colleague told me “nobody cares about your first name”. (I still add the initial cause that’s how I sign, goddangit!)

          1. Myrin*

            Oh, totally, I’d absolutely say that it’s actually much more common (and expected) to answer with just your surname, which I used to do until I was… a young teenager, maybe? The main reason at the time was that we got a new phone which would strangely cut off the first one or two syllables one said right after answering the phone, and since my surname is only one syllable, callers would be met with silence and became very flustered. So I got used to saying “first name surname” and now it stuck but that’s a good thing because of exactly the situation you describe with your classmate – my sister and I sound identical on any electronic device and people would regularly confuse us on the phone so we just started saying our full names, which at least cut down on that.

      2. Old and Don’t Care*

        I’m U.S. and I and at least half my colleagues answer first name/last name. The only trends in who does what I can identify are front office/back office (sales and customer service are more likely to use hello, or “this is xxxx”), and hierarchy (the higher up the food chain the less likely to say hello, or use the company name).

        Regarding the original question, if I were expecting a call about an interview on my personal phone I would answer “This is Jane”.

    4. MOAS*

      I never really used to think about phone greetings before I started working and moved up.

      I answer the phone as “Hi, this is MOAS at company”
      If it’s a coworker calling, “Hey name”

      When I call my remote workers, most of them answer saying “Hi MOAS!” because they’re expecting the call and know it’s going to be me calling. One of them, however, says “Hello?” as if they’re not expecting the call. That’s mildly annoying but *shrugs*

      1. juliebulie*

        They might not be able to see the caller ID, due to glare, not wearing glasses, pizza sauce smeared all over screen, etc. I have one of those problems sometimes. :-)

        I usually answer “company, this is juliebulie.” “Company” is actually the name of the company from four owners ago, but we’re still known as “Company” so there is no confusion. “Company” is also the name of a local town, which confuses the occasional cold caller.

        (We do get a lot of calls from office supply salespeople who clearly have no idea who they need to reach, and they try to trick me into forwarding them to someone more helpful. It’s fun to play with them. But I digress…)

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        We are getting so very many robo-calls and scam calls that I could see them twitching knowing they’re going to have to answer because it’s probably you — but it could be “Rachel from Cardholder Services” again, or someone else whose robo-call will tie up their line for 20 minutes. (It might not have been THAT scam, but one of managed to tie up your line even if you hung up.)

    5. Daisy-dog*

      I once called an intern and he didn’t say anything when he answered. So creepy. I would find “hello” very acceptable after that, but I do add “this is Daisy-dog” when I don’t recognize the number.

  9. Maureen*

    OP #2: I used to just say “hello,” but I realized that was making interviewers think I wasn’t expecting their call. So one time I tried just saying, “Hi Rebecca!” when I answered, and she responded with “Oh, you can call me Becky!” The interview got off to a friendly and relaxed start and ultimately I got the job!

    1. Alex*

      I generally answer with my full name “Alexander Hamilton” or if it’s my work phone the company name “Name Product Company”.

    2. Yorick*

      I don’t blame anybody for switching it up. But I don’t understand why “hello” would sound like the person isn’t expecting the call. “Hello?” is a standard phone greeting (especially for personal phones) in the US.

      1. Elizabeth Proctor*

        I agree with you but at the same time “Hello?” sounds like a question. As in, “Hello, why are you calling me?”

        1. Silvercat*

          Interesting. I’ve always interpreted “Hello?” as “Hello, who’s this?” but your reaction is a good one to keep in mind.

    3. PennyLane*

      As someone who conducts regular phone interviews, I prefer if they answer something like “Hi, this is Thor”. I know I’ve got the right person, but more importantly I know how you pronounce your name!! I’m always surprised how often people, especially those with difficult to pronounce names (or just questionable), just say Hello. You’d think they’d be accustomed to clarifying the pronunciation and just know to do it off the bat. Just make it easy for me.

      Now I can see if you’re not sure when to expect the call it’s ok to say hello; but I always tell people I’m calling them at X time and call right on the dot, so they’ll know it’s me.

  10. The Babiest Babyface*

    I have to say, I’m very excited by the implications of #1. I might hop on the “I love you” train for my everyday conversations, just to switch things up and perhaps cause some mischief.

  11. Girr*

    Related to #5. If you received a degree later in life, are you still obligated to mention graduation year? I’m thinking in cases where someone had 5-10 years of experience, but only completed a (bachelor’s) degree fairly recently, within the past year or so.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      You’re never obligated to list the year; it’s just convention for 20somethings recently out of school. You’re fine leaving it off if it seems to be in your best interests too.

      1. Kimmybear*

        Interesting as I had a friend who is a headhunter say to put the dates or it looks like you didn’t complete the degree.

        1. blackcat*

          I wouldn’t assume that. My husband recently complained about a resume that came across his desk that listed not one, but two! incomplete degrees. It was hard to catch (think “Degree Program” with “thesis pending”/”Six courses completed” in small font below), but both had years.

          1. Veronica*

            Oh, interesting. I didn’t finish a degree and I was careful not to look like I was hiding that. It’s been several years but I think I did something like
            Name of school Num. of years/semesters
            Credits earned* GPA
            As far as I know this was clear, I didn’t get any questions about it. I think one or two mentioned it and asked if I was going to finish. No I’m not.

            *These are courses completed, i.e. “30 hours in computer programming”, “20 hours in mathematics”, etc.

        2. That Girl from Quinn's House*

          I took mine off and got told to put it back on by an HR during a hire screen. I also was told to put my GPA back on because it looked like I was hiding poor grades.

        3. NotAnotherManager!*

          The way I see degrees listed most often is:

          University of Teapots, B.A. Teapot Painting (summa cum laude)
          Spouts College, M.S. Ceramic Glazing & Firing (thesis, “Effects of Kiln Temperature on Glaze Hue Intensity”, [rest of citation])
          Darjeeling University, Ph.D candidate in Glazing Chemistry (expected MM/YYYY)
          Green Leaves College, Graduate Certificate in Holographic Design

          1. emmelemm*

            Totally off topic, but I love the commitment to teapots: “Effects of Kiln Temperature on Glaze Hue Intensity” is brilliant.

    2. Lifelong student*

      But if you do, it may be an advantage. I earned my BS when I was 46 and my MBA when I was 56- putting the dates on disguised my age and avoided potential discrimination in early screenings. It also demonstrated my ability to continue to learn and grow in my field to interviewers when they met me in person.

  12. Princesa Zelda*

    Regarding letter 1, I’m 24 and say “love ya” to just about anyone who does me a favor or is friendly with me in my personal life, but I’ve been in the work force for 8 years and would never do that at work. (Although once I accidentally ended a phone call with my boss with “Love you.” That was embarrassing.) If the younger colleagues doing it are about my age, it could well just be that they don’t have their work-appropriate-behavior settings properly calibrated! If you are willing to correct them, you’d be doing them a huge service.

    1. Willow*

      Haha that made me laugh – saying love ya to the boss! Lol! Even with close work friends I’d feel so weird saying that I love them (even for a joke). It seems like a very strong emotion to express at work.

    2. Horseshoe*

      Hah, one of my managers accidentally ended a phone call with me with “Love you” because he forgot he wasn’t on the phone with his wife or something?? We were both silent for an awkward moment. I think it was a company joke for years after that, so it’s funny to me to hear this story from OP about coworkers doing it on purpose…

      1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        Ugh, I did that once with the uber boss of all the bosses. He shared a name with Mr. Gumption and called on my cell while I was busy with something. I answered, “Hey babe, what’s up?” because I didn’t notice that it came up first and last name. Not just first name. Ooops

    3. MOAS*

      I chat with my husband throughout the day. It’s the same chat app/different account as the one I use at work to talk to my boss & coworkers. Now, my husband and I send cute hearts and teddy bears etc to each other or other smilies/gifs . Once I was talking to both of them at the same time, and I ended up sending a <3 to my boss by accident. I was mortified and he pretended to be sad it wasn't meant for him. it was a funny moment. I mean, it could've been worse.. like that guy who asked his boss for anal via autocorrect. LOL

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Re: phone call with boss
      We are not alone. I’ve confessed here to doing that — I was taking a break emailing my husband when my manager called. I answered her question and signed off just as my husband’s reply email came in. So I signed off with “Love you, bye.” Immediately blanched, and called her back to find her laughing so hard she was almost sobbing. Turns out SHE had done it to HER boss a few years earlier!

  13. Bowserkitty*

    OP#1 is working with a bunch of Boyles.

    Like other commenters I would say it occasionally just in context of like, “omg thanks for the coffee, I love you so much right now and I needed this pick-me-up” but never like the OP’s examples. Just weird. And you’re not out of touch.

  14. NewHerePleaseBeNice*

    All this talk of how to answer the phone is making me think of Mr Burns. A-hoy-hoy?

    (FWIW, I’m in the UK, and it would be weird to answer the phone with ‘this is Name’. I’d go for ‘Hello, firstname speaking’ if I was expecting a call, and just ‘Hello’ (but not ‘Hello??’) if I wasn’t)

    1. londonedit*

      LOL, also in the UK and I’ve just pretty much written your second paragraph word for word above :)

    2. MsSolo*

      Yes, that’s my broad response, unless I’m in work mode and then it’s “Hi, this is firstname lastname, how can I help?”. A straight “Hello” is reserved for cold callers, usually in the tone of voice of “justify yourself quickly before I assume you’re a scammer”.

      1. Miso*

        Yeah, that’s why I answer my cellphone with only hello nowadays.
        Either it’s someone I know and who knows that he’s calling me, or it’s someone I don’t know and then I want to know who they’re first.

      2. Mel_05*

        Same. But when I was job hunting I always answered with, Hello, this is Mel_05!

        And certainly if I was waiting on a phone interview I would!

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I missed the 5 in your username and that came across in my mind as “hello this is mellow” ;)

      3. Silvercat*

        Absolutely. Actually if I’m not expecting a call, I’ll wait about 5 seconds before saying anything, because supposedly that tricks robocallers into thinking it’s a dead number. And then a very cold “Hello”

    3. Mary*

      The thing that I find confusing is that most of our internal calls are now through Skype for Business or similar systems, so there’s a window on my desktop telling me who is calling. This morning I answered the phone with, “Hi Meg!” to someone slightly more senior than me who I’ve never met in person, and I think she was properly flummoxed by how familiar it sounded!

    4. Witchy Human*

      Alexander Graham Bell actually wanted “ahoy” to be the standard for answering the phone, and Thomas Edison was the one who pushed for “hello.”

    5. Tiny Scot*

      I’m also in the UK and yeah if I’m expecting a call I’ll say ‘Hello, Tiny McScot speaking’ if not they just get a hello!

    6. Sparkly Librarian*

      I’m always a tad thrown off when my father answers his cell with a gruff “[Firstname Lastname]”. ’cause, like, I’m your daughter? I can say, “Hi, it’s me” and he’ll recognize which of his daughters it is? But… he doesn’t look at the screen first to see who’s calling? So many ???

  15. Patty*

    Re the adjunct faculty..

    Your boss at the college is a disorganized mess — I do his job, and there is no excuse for not checking with you about class assignments. I would never do that to my part-time folx.

    1. Hey Karma, Over here.*

      Your real question is “how can I change him.”
      How can I make him stop scheduling like a drunk chicken tapping on Outlook calendars? How can I make him stop using guilt, stop wheedling, stop manipulating me? How can I make him stop expecting me to clean up his messes?
      You can’t. You can’t make him responsible for his own job. You can’t make him realize that emotional manipulation is a shitty practice.
      You can’t change him. You can only change how you respond to him. You tell him no. He wheedles and whines. You tell him no. Next time he starts on the offensive, “I know you hate me when I do this, but…” and you tell him no.
      You don’t tell him you don’t hate him. You don’t tell him you don’t want him to fail. You don’t discuss him at all. Don’t let it become about him. There is nothing you can do about him.
      Good luck.

      1. Veronica*

        I just want to add, this guy is a nightmare who would push all my buttons. The disrespect, the manipulation, the whining… I bet he’s either oblivious or pretending to be, also! Seriously, such a person should not be in charge of anything!
        Good luck OP! I hope you and your colleagues can get him out of there!

  16. Random Commenter*

    For #5, I’m curious how the applicant’s resume showed where they were living at the time the did the degree program. Wouldn’t it typically just show their current place of residence?

    1. hermit crab*

      There’s probably something else on their resume for the same time period, in a different location – e.g., working for the state government of Vermont while simultaneously getting your degree at the University of Kansas.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      If one is paying attention, my resume says that I was working for a hospital in Seattle, Washington at the same time I was getting a bachelor degree from a university in North Carolina.

    3. Andream*

      Not necessarily. She may have taken online courses from a brick and mortar school in her area. More and more schools are offering online programs in addition to regular courses. I don’t think it would be a red flag.

    4. Close Bracket*

      My resume shows that I lived in State A at the same time I went to school at a place located in State B. The only people who ever questioned that were the security clearance people, though.

  17. Rebecca*

    So, once a group of coworkers and I started saying “Love youuuuuu” as an inside joke, except that one guy said it over the phone to one of us, in front of his wife, and she was like “I’m pretty sure you’re joking but explain yourself.” On a less light note, my husband once had an extremely tense meeting with his manager and CEO that ended with his manager crying and saying “I love you” to him. It wasn’t any kind of confession of her true feelings, rather she was being unprofessional and handling a situation badly.

    In conclusion…I wish this wasn’t something people said at work!

  18. Wordnerd*

    I agree with “hello, this is Jane” as a great way to start phone interviews (helps with pronunciation and if they prefer a nickname). But just the tone is so so important. I did phone interviews over the summer and worse than the candidates who sounded surprised were those who sounded like we’d woken them up from a nap.

    1. Horseshoe*

      Ugh, yes, came here to say I’ve had people answer “Hello” so flat and dully like they were pissed that we called. Which results in me the interviewer being like “Oh, um, is this Jane??” assuming that I have the wrong number. Worse is then getting a “Yeah?” in response to that, which sounds like “Yeah–what do you want?” making it sound even more like they aren’t expecting an interview…

      1. Wordnerd*

        Cosign! Yes, I shouldn’t have to sound more excited for your interview than you are. One of our candidates was (and is, since we hired him!) a pretty reserved guy, who said in his interview, “I’m not going to be the most outgoing candidate you have,” but he still had a really engaging tone! You don’t have to be bouncing off the walls to sound like you care about and are ready for the interview.

  19. Alfonzo Mango*

    3. I’m very confused that a therapist would be conflict adverse and people pleasing. That doesn’t seem like it really works with the profession they are in.

    1. Passive Therapist LW3*

      There’s a much longer answer to this but… who we are in the therapy room and who we are interpersonally are very different things. With therapists I’ve known, we’re really great at standing up for other people, and at helping other people. It feels very very different than standing up for ourselves. And that helping instinct very often comes along with being people pleasing – it takes a lot of work to separate the two.

  20. Thankful for AAM*

    For #3 and “helping” with the office move, what would y’all do differently if you got there and there were no movers?

    I know my spouse would have nope’d right out of there after helping me empty my desk.

    Would you have called a manager to say, we are here, where are the movers and trucks?

    If the managers were there, would you have said, this is a huge liability for company, we cannot move this stuff or use our personal cars?

    Would you have asked what “help” meant ahead of time? I know I will in future!

    Overall, what would you have done on the day?

    1. Asenath*

      I think I’d have maybe moved my personal items and packed up my desk, and then said “Sorry, I didn’t understand that actual moving was required” and left. That’s assuming I didn’t need the job to survive (and, really, I’ve never not needed a job, although sometimes I’ve had enough resources to tide myself over while looking). I wouldn’t quit over it, but if I put my boss in the position of having to hire movers when she’d been expecting me to do it for free, I wouldn’t expect that job to continue to remain tolerable. And maybe I’m affected by my current job – I’ve had several office moves. The rules here are that the employee packs everything up (including emptying all filing cabinets or other furniture), and people hired for the purpose move everything, so expecting your worker who is hired to run a computer to do heavy lifting and moving is right out of line, even without the “use of private vehicles” part.

      I think, though, I’d have questioned the invitation to the partners even before the move. That is weird, and a sign of weirdness to come.

    2. Ali G*

      My spouse wouldn’t even have known he was “required” to be there, because no way I’d make him do that. Even for “fun” things, I RSVP no for him, because he works hard enough at his job, he doesn’t need to be involved in mine too. If there is something I think he might want an option on, I will tell him about it and let him decide (like a baseball game or something).
      Office move? Nope.

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

      Having gone through a few office moves, I’d be expecting the boxes/tape/labels about a week ahead of time and that would be my “helping” — to pack up and label boxes. I’d be expecting a walk through of the new location too, or at the very least a copy of a floor plan. No way would I have thought we’d be packing and moving on the same day, because that just shows a complete lack of forethought and organization. So, if they never provided those and then asked me to come in on a Saturday, I’d have plans…sorry, can’t volunteer to come in.

    4. Alice's Rabbit*

      I would have taken my personal belongings and maybe boxed up and labeled my files (though, to be honest, I probably would have done all that during the week before the move).
      Then, I would have asked the owners when the movers were showing up, as I only have a few hours to supervise them. Saturdays are busy, you know?
      When the inevitable response of “What movers?” came, I would reply that legally, we’re not insured for this sort of work, nor do we have the tools and vehicles mandated by OSHA regulations. Also, as a for-profit business, asking anyone to volunteer their time without pay is illegal, so no, spouses can’t help us move.
      So call me back once you’ve hired a moving company. Hey, [Other Therapists], let’s go get some lunch! Talk to you later, boss! Good luck!

    1. Czhorat*

      But… it’s a harmless kind of bizarre. They aren’t calling co-workers weasels or wastes of oxygen or spawn of an evil lemur or something.

  21. Thankful for AAM*

    Re #1 and I love you.
    My in laws are Chinese and from Hong Kong. They have repeatedly discussed (ok, mocked me, thats another story) what they see as over use in the US of the phrase “I love x.”

    You told your husband you love him, your friend you love their new clothing, and said you love this food. You toss the phrase around so freely, how can it have meaning and how can your feelings for your spouse and this meal be the same!!??

    They get very upset that my love for my husband is devalued by saying I love a food. And to them, we sound like children, I love this, I love that, I love that too, squeeee!!!! They think we lack sophistication and nuance in language but I think there is great nuance in grasping the difference between the sarcastic, “l love this new policy,” and the admiring, “I love this new policy!”

    Does anyone else think, “I love you,” at work could lead to sexual harassment issues?

    1. Czhorat*

      Meaning is context-dependent. I’d think they should be able to get that.

      Even setting aside foodstuffs and the like, the romantic love one has for ones spouse is different than the parental love towards ones offspring, or love you’d feel for a cousin or sibling.

      Unless it singles out one gender (ie, a man only saying “I love you” to female coworkers) or it otherwise contextually inappropriate I don’t think this comes near to hostile workplace sexual harassment.

      1. Thankful for AAM*

        You’d think they get the idea of context dependent but they don’t. It might be that there are different words/word choices in Chinese to express these different depths of meaning.

        Or it may just be that I am American, and therefore am just wrong to them.

        1. Asenath*

          I suspect usage is different in Chinese. I don’t actually know Chinese, but I’ve been told that usage of “love” in only very specific situations (usually only for immediate family members and then only in special situations) is also found in Japanese. It is (or was) also the situation in some branches of what I suppose you might call North American Anglo cultures – I certainly grew up in an undemonstrative branch of those, and “love” wasn’t a word that was used often or lightly. So your in-laws’ usage might have to do with a particular word having a different range of meanings than the literal translation in another language, or it might have more to do with differing cultural views on demonstrative behaviours.
          I don’t see the modern casual use of “I love you” as described by OP as sexual harassment at all. I think it’s silly and meaningless, but of course a lot of routine chitchat with acquaintances is pretty meaningless since it’s not intended to convey information, but just to acknowledge that someone has arrived or is leaving or something.

    2. Sharkie*

      I think it is just a weird English language quirk since most languages have different words for love. My Italian great grandparents gave my grandma a hard time about that too and that was 80 years ago!

      1. Myrin*

        Yeah, I said the same above, I think it’s primarily a language thing.

        Funnily, I very distinctly remember the very first time I heard this foreign-to-me-up-until-this-point usage of “love” – teenage!My was watching that show thingy Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie did on MTV and they were at a mall or something and Paris saw a pair of shoes she liked and exlaimed “Oh my gawd, I love them!” and it was the strangest thing to me at the time because you would just never say that here. You might experience the same feeling Paris did upon seeing a pair of beautiful and desirable shoes, but you’d still just say that you “really like” them.

    3. Lovecraft Beauty*

      People have been grousing about this since at least 1915, when Anne of the Island was published:

      You LOVE it,” said Miss Patty with emphasis. “Does that mean that you really LOVE it? Or that you merely like the looks of it? The girls nowadays indulge in such exaggerated statements that one never can tell what they DO mean. It wasn’t so in my young days. THEN a girl did not say she LOVED turnips, in just the same tone as she might have said she loved her mother or her Savior.”

      Anne’s conscience bore her up.

      Anne of the Island by L. M. Montgomery at Project Gutenberg

      1. Parenthetically*


        I also like to point people to Austen novels, in which characters use “excessively” to mean “very” or “extremely,” as in “I am excessively fond of music.” Semantic ranges and connotations shift over time, man! It’s how language works!

    4. Parenthetically*

      Blargh to your in-laws. So nitpicky. Sorry, dudes, this is how English works in 2019, and if you can’t tell the difference between, “Man, I love this restaurant, the service is so good and the food is just perfection,” and “I love my husband,” that’s hardly the speaker’s fault. Semantic range is a thing, and it shifts over time and varies from one language to another.

      And nah, I don’t think “I love you” is going to lead to sexual harassment issues, but it’s super awkward.

    5. juliebulie*

      I thought right away that “I love you” could be misinterpreted by a socially inexperienced person with a crush, who might then be emboldened to try something inappropriate.

      A merciful person would, of course, recognize the misunderstanding and try to straighten it out, no harm done, except the naive coworker would be totally humiliated.

      A less merciful person would scream “OMG LEAVE ME ALONE YOU PERV” and the naive person would have a bigger problem.

      On the other hand, a less naive person might use “I love you” as an excuse to try something, in which case I hope they would receive no mercy.

      At any rate I think it can all be avoided by not openly saying “I love you” to all and sundry. Or to anyone in the workplace, lest others in the workplace feel left out.

    6. Close Bracket*

      Does anyone else think, “I love you,” at work could lead to sexual harassment issues?

      Well, no.

  22. Czhorat*

    OP#2 – I’ve standardized my phone answer greeting as “Czhorat here” (I usually use my first name rather than say “Czhorat”, though it is tempting). I personally find it easier to have the same professional-ish greeting everywhere. I’m GenX, but have a millennial’s distaste for talking on the phone, so most calls are business calls.

  23. Czhorat*

    For OP The First: What’s wrong with love? I’m told it’s all one needs.

    I get that it feels weird, but this strikes me as filing off the edges of square pegs to make them neatly set into round holes; “I love you” is, at most, a quirk of language slightly outside of business norms. It’s not cruel, it’s not coarse, it’s not really problematic in any tangible way. It just… strikes some of us as odd.

    And yes, I’ll sometimes use it in a professional conversation on Twitter or even in person to soften criticism; “I love you, but don’t at all see it that way” rather than, “if there were an anthropomorphic personification of wrongess, it would look like you do right now”.

    I may be screaming into the wilderness here, but LET PEOPLE HAVE QUIRKS. If they don’t match what you or I think of as “business norms”, can we first ask if those norms make sense, or how important they are, before trying to straight-jacket them into a neat little conformist box?

    I love you all, but I think some of you need to calm down on this one.

    1. Thankful for AAM*

      I dont see it as a harmless quirk!
      It is tied to private, personal, and possibly sexual emotions that do not have a place at work. It is also like saying “I like you,” to some people at work but not others. It can be seen as sexually harassing or as some kind of favoritism. Imagine if the boss is saying it to their direct reports?

      There are so many ways to show appreciation at work that don’t use such a loaded and work inappropriate work.

      1. Czhorat*

        “I love you” needn’t be sexual; as you said above, we might love a nice crisp apple, an afternoon juggling at the park, a movie. Your kids. You don’t want to have sex with any of those.

        Different people feel different measures of familiarity with coworkers or near-strangers, and feel different degrees of “love” in different ways for different people. Unless they’re saying it in a way which adds undue weight I don’t see it as a thing to worry about.

        I understand that this isnt’ the same for everyone.

      2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Wtf there’s nothing sexual about it. My elderly aunties and mother say it to me. Stop making everything sexualized.

        My bosses have said it to me before. Again. Not sexual.

    2. Jellyfish*

      I had a job where I misinterpreted the level of friendship I shared with a handful of coworkers. When I privately confided to someone that I was looking for another job, they told my boss. I was completely blindsided. It wasn’t a good experience, but it was an important one: coworkers are not friends, and they owe me no loyalty.

      If these workers view relationships with their fellow employees at a similar level of intimacy as close friends & family, there could be problems down the road. A boss provides constructive criticism, and the worker gets upset because boss is supposed to be their friend!
      A project manager weighs feedback and makes a decision, and an employee sees it as a personal slight that the PM didn’t pick their idea.

      It’s good to be friendly with coworkers, but those professional boundaries are important too. The question becomes is this just a new semantic thing, or an indication that some of these young workers are trying to get too much emotional fulfillment out of work?

      1. Close Bracket*

        If these workers view relationships with their fellow employees at a similar level of intimacy as close friends & family, there could be problems down the road.

        There are lots of things we say that are social lubricant rather than a genuine expression of feelings, for example, “Have a nice day,” “Please,” “I’m doing good, how about you?” “I love you” has joined those phrases for a small subset of North American (presumably) humanity. Just as when someone at work greets you with, “How are you?” you know that is not an invitation to share your feelings over your recent break up, you should know that “I love you” from someone at work is not an expression of intimacy on the level of close friends and family. Now look how easy that was to get over.

        1. Jellyfish*

          Wow, your last sentence was really constructive and helpful. Is unnecessary condescension regarding someone’s genuine question also a thing I need to get over?

    3. WellRed*

      It just doesn’t belong in a workplace situation. Think about people who work at the same place as a spouse/significant other. One thing we hear them say here is, they don’t exchange I love you’s or kiss or anything. Why is it OK (or even necessary) to end a meeting with “I love you,” especially when you…don’t.

    4. Jennifer*

      Yes, I have heard it said in a casual way, not in a cheesy jewelry commercial “I LOVE THIS WOMAN!!!!” way. I’d need to see and hear it before determining it’s inappropriate.

    5. Jamie*

      I think it could be a harmless quirk, or crossing a boundary that makes others uncomfortable. Either way it’s so outside the scope of professional norms (IME) that it’s a favor to let someone new to the workforce know how badly this can be received.

    6. Close Bracket*

      I may be screaming into the wilderness here, but LET PEOPLE HAVE QUIRKS

      Nah, man, shut that shit down HARD.


      I’m with you. Do people not have enough work to do that they need to dedicate headspace to nonsense like this? Good grief. You can think something is weird in the privacy of your own head without forcing everybody else into the same mold.

      “if there were an anthropomorphic personification of wrongess, it would look like you do right now”

      Adding this to my lexicon.

    1. Passive Therapist LW3*

      A relative of my boss showed up but they’re employed by the company.

      Only contact we got from either boss during the day was an identical scolding phone call to each of us about “pushback” around furniture and office choices that was honestly not actually happening.

      1. Lana Kane*

        Seriously? Boss had time to call each of you individually to scold you about the same incorrect thing, but not to come pitch in? I definitely believe Boss was relying on their staff’s conflict aversion to get you to do this free labor.

        I think it may be time on working on your aversion to conflict, and have a conversation with your employer regarding this incident. And ideally it would be most or all of you – like Allison says, there’s power in numbers.

        1. Passive Therapist LW3*

          This particular boss (there’s two) had a legitimate scheduling conflict and the main office is in a different city (there’s also a main office/second branch dynamic) so I don’t blame them for that, but that scolding was… something.

          I’m working on an email with one of my coworkers right now. Alison’s response and these comments have been really validating and encouraging.

          1. valentine*

            This particular boss (there’s two) had a legitimate scheduling conflict and the main office is in a different city
            Did they not choose the city or date of the move?

            These people showed a massive lack of concern for anyone’s well-being or time. If they’d honestly believed you were all on the same page, they should’ve mentioned how long it would take and how breaks and refreshment might happen.

            In your shoes, I would’ve said I couldn’t possibly do the move because I’d only allocated 10 minutes to direct the packing of my desk. Hopefully, everyone else would then chime in with their need to leave. What if you say no when put on the spot and, if the person won’t allow you time to think, make it a permanent no?

      2. Parenthetically*


        Holy crap.

        You got pressganged into being movers for four hours and your boss didn’t even think he needed to show up?! That is… egregious.

  24. Asenath*

    OP 5: My final degree was not only completed mostly online, some of the courses were offered through an affiliated program in another, more distant, institution. I just put down the degree and the name of the institution which awarded it on my resume. My actual transcript states that courses 511, 512, 513 were completed at Affiliated College, Shelbyville, Other Province, which implies they were taken by distance if I was simultaneously taking courses in MyTown, My Province. Online courses seem to be so common these days that it didn’t occur to me that it might be a problem, especially since the degree was awarded by a locally well-known and well-established university. Maybe we’re more open to distance education in my area – large area, small population, and university courses were available by correspondence and video recordings from back in my parents’ day. But I always assumed that nowadays a distance course from a reputable institution was as good as any other kind since they are so common and so much easier to take with all the online options.

    1. Mr. Tyzik*

      The problem isn’t with taking a distance route, it’s the school from which you take the courses. Many are for profit with horrible track records of taking advantage of student, upping tuition costs to encourage debt, and teaching dubious programs with insufficient information.

      1. Asenath*

        I know that, but in my experience if you have a degree for a recognized and established place, no one seems to worry much these days if some or all of the work was taken by distance. If you do the same from an unfamiliar institution, people examining your credentials will be more cautious about checking it out, and if you do the same with one of the more notorious degree mills, the quality of your degree will be questioned or even dismissed. But online education in and of itself doesn’t seem to be a red flag.

        1. Paulina*

          Depends. There’s a lot of pressure these days in academia to have online offerings and degrees, and this can often outstrip quality control, if other people are being hired to run the online courses (with less oversight in hiring, and very little communication with other faculty). There are also potential issues of differences in environment of study, especially if the student is in a linguistic environment different from that of the university. It’s not an overall red flag for online, but in what I’m looking for (applications for graduate study) we like to have a complete picture of the applicant’s background and experience. So we’d like to know.

          Meanwhile, completing an online degree can show important positive qualities, such as independence. Self-paced courses require levels of self-management and self-directed learning that students in standard courses don’t necessarily have to develop.

  25. CupcakeCounter*

    When my office moved we were responsible for packing up our own desks and transporting all of our personal possessions (photo frames, snacks, nick knacks, etc..) in order to cut down on costs but we still had professional movers. The facilities people were very clear on what was and wasn’t allowed to be handled by the movers as well as the cost savings for the company by having us do the packing. However, it was all during regularly paid hours. So the Friday before the move, work stopped at 3pm and we all spent the next 2 hours packing. When you were done, you were encouraged to help coworkers and/or your department but once your entire department was packed up you could go home for the weekend. The first couple of hours Monday morning were reserved for unpacking – also paid.

    1. irene adler*

      Same here- only we are a lab. Pack the boxes, come back on Monday and unpack.
      Your personal stuff was your concern.
      I can’t imagine asking employees to carry out the entire move. Lucky no one incurred injury or damage to vehicles.

    2. Goldfinch*

      We had the same set-up when we moved across a private street. It was switching buildings within a corporate campus, door-to-door was about twenty feet.

  26. Sharkie*

    Number 3 is very timely for me since we are moving offices in a month or so and my boss doesn’t want to hire movers- even for the warehouse!

      1. Sharkie*

        Oh I am being so firm with boundaries! I am not jumping on a fork lift and moving product around when I don’t know how to work it!

        1. tgirl*

          Argh, you need to be trained on using a fork lift before you use it here! That’s a health and safety nightmare!!

  27. Quill*

    #3: I’ve done that one too, but at the time I was a lab tech. We had professional movers for the large stuff (furniture) because if they moved our expensive lab equipment and broke it we would be insured, unlike if we did it ourselves. It was still pretty awful because my boss insisted that work would proceed as normal until the day of the move, and that it be work ready by the end of that day, which just wasn’t feasible. Plus, we weren’t given a choice and I had to arrive late to my brother’s graduation because of it – my boss swore I could go at 1 pm and I didn’t get to leave until 4 pm, turning a 1 hour drive into a 3 hour one. (Chicago traffic!)

  28. Scott M.*

    Question #1 made me think of two experiences I had
    1. Years ago our company started a “culture shaping” program, and a big part of it was constantly telling people how much they were appreciated. This was particularly despised by myself and another coworker. So for months afterwards, we would tell each other “I love you man” in that exaggerated tone of the old beer commercial.
    2. Once I ended a call with a coworker by saying “love you”, because I had just gotten off the phone with my wife where I said the same thing, and just said it out of habit. I immediately called back and explained myself. I was teased mercilessly for a few days.

    1. Ali G*

      Ha! When I was just out of grad school, I had a group of friends and we always ended our phone conversations with a quick “luvubye” before hanging up. I definitely did that to my boss once…

  29. Liz E.*

    re: #1, I’m also in a similar field and have been seeing this from one of the partners (!) lately, and it’s definitely weird. It ranges from a more-acceptable “this is why we love you!” to “love you!” as a joking way of ending a conversation, to just a straight up “I love you!”. I’d thought they were just being weird, but the comments are making me think it’s more wide-spread!

  30. Annonymouse*

    #2 Being in HR and conducting a phone interviews all the time. I love when people say their name. Not only because I know that I have reached the right person but also how they pronounce their name so I can address them properly

  31. Dust Bunny*

    My office, before my time, had to move locations because of a natural disaster. In our case, though it was 9,000 square feet of books and documents, moved with volunteer help. Y’all, it took us 15 years to straighten it all out. We thought we were going to have to move again a few years ago and despite being a cash-strapped nonprofit our director made it very clear that professional movers would be hired. (That’s professional library movers. Yes, there are movers who specialize in institutions like ours.)

  32. Anita Brayke*

    My coworkers (from millennials to 60s in a very small office) say “I love you” to each other, hug every morning, give backrubs (among 3 of them), and call each other “Mom.” 2 of the 3 are mother and daughter. *Insert squeaky voice* Help me!!

    1. Jedi Squirrel*

      I once worked in a place where two of the owners early 20’s children also worked there. He came in to lock up one night, and we were walking out in a line. The first child said “I love you” as they walked past him, the second child said “I love you” to him, and when I walked past him, I just said “look, I just think you’re nice.”

      He laughed, I laughed, we all laughed, a lone wolf howled in the while silhouetted against a full moon in the background, and then we all went home.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*


      All my bosses kids have worked at the shops over the years and even as teenagers, they didn’t pull this crap, let alone as adults.

      Now I’m remembering fondly about the friends of my bosses kids who worked there as well over the years. They called bossman by a nickname. So it wasn’t calling him by his formal name but it wasn’t calling him by something that people outside his family network would flinch at either. It worked nicely. [Yeah, yeah, yeah it sounds like a bad setup but he hired these friends who would also work on his farm in the summer. So he knew their work ethic and how they responded to instructions, etc. They knew he’d fire them, he fired plenty from summer work and they would never get to step foot in the shop if they couldn’t even be trusted to buck hay or clean a barn, you know. Country life tho.]

  33. StaceyIzMe*

    I think that it would be helpful to explore what is meant by the people using “love you” or “I love you” in a work context. You’d then be in a position to offer some helpful substitutes for clients, subordinates and coworkers who’d find it awkward to raise an objection. Work is so much a part of identity and many young people entering employment do still have a cohort model based on peer groupings for school, socializing and work. Leveraging that isn’t likely to prove detrimental to your organization’s culture as long as it’s done with conscious choice and with mindfulness. Actually, all of us could use more conscious evaluation and mindful attention of our own choices in language. In the case of “love you” or “I love you” at work- it’s no more eccentric than “have a good day” or “TGIF”! It’s just that we’re accustomed to these expressions and accept them, for the most part. I don’t think that this is a case where it’s going to move into the mainstream culture of your organization and it might be a little heavy handed to basically go “cut it out, that’s icky”, when “don’t say that to clients!” (Or bosses!) might be more helpful.

  34. Veronica*

    #4, your boss is a manipulative jerk. He doesn’t respect you or your work or the institution. He’s focused on forcing you to do what he wants. If he takes this approach to everything, he will screw up a whole lot of stuff and disappoint a lot of people.
    I would be thinking of going to higher-ups because boss’ style of management is a disaster. But I’ve never worked in academia, it might be different there.
    In any case I would document everything and let others know what’s going on. Call out boss to as many people as possible because if he’s doing this to you, he’s probably doing this to everyone, and maybe together you can all work around him if his bosses don’t get rid of him.
    Good luck! Thanks for your dedication! :)

  35. Janet, Sower of Chaos*

    It’s important to know the difference between “like” and “love.” I like my coworkers, but I love my Prada backpack.

  36. Brett*

    I don’t think living in one place while earning your degree elsewhere gets much notice. For graduate degrees, it is extremely commonly to have moved away and started work elsewhere by the time you actually finish up defending.

    Even for some undergrad degrees with certain types of internship or thesis requirements, it is pretty common to finish your coursework, move away, and wrap up the degree a year later.

  37. anon4this*

    #1- Yeah. I’ve especially been hearing this from vendors/coworkers on the West Coast, especially recent grads/young sounding.
    Are you on the West Coast? I’m located on the East Coast and haven’t really heard this here, even in the South.
    It definitely feels like a lazy conditioned response on their part, especially the lack of shame in not receiving a reciprocal response, because my usual response is “Wha….?”

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      We have a bunch of transplants out here. Just to remind everyone that the west is still as wild as ever.

      But it’s true, we’re still extra hippie and extra extra weird like that. So maybe it’s regional but it’s going to keep spreading since we’re a wandering bunch!

  38. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    My parents went over the top with pushing “I love you” into our vocabulary at home. It was a rally against the fact their parents weren’t ones to express it.

    However my mom still had a talk with me when she heard me later using it with my friends. She soon realized she created a caring little monster with all her love. LOL (Spoiler, I never stopped saying it and she learned to deal with it.)

    BUT!! I realized quickly that it’s weird in many social circles and naturally so in professional ones. So I’ve made a point to change it to “I appreciate you.” And “you are appreciated!” When dealing with strangers/colleagues. So if you were in a mentor or comfortable position to address these people, I would suggest you coach to tweak the language more than anything. It’s an important lesson to learn to communicate with different personalities and not come across wrong, especially when they sound like they’re truly trying to be kind and caring towards everyone. They need to polish and update their vocabulary a bit is all.

    1. Love*

      Since you work in HR, are there salutations that are verboten? Ever receive a complaint about one?

      The “I love you” salutation could be construed as overstepping and dependent upon the reaction of the person receiving the salutation.

      Would receiving an “I love you” in an email be received differently?

      1. juliebulie*

        I feel like, if a spoken “I love you” is potentially problematic, than an email “I love you” might end up being evidence.

      2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        I’m not a big enough fish for this kind of answer unfortunately. We have very few with email accounts, none of which are used for much more than sending daily reports to management about how the shift has gone.

        We have a few “I love you, man.” sort of things but nothing that’s given us cause for concern.

        We deal with more stupid pranks than anything. And gendered insults we discipline for. I had a guy leave tampons on someone’s station because he was “Clearly PMS’ing”.

        My complaints are more geared towards “He smells” and “someone stole my GD boots again.” and generalized bullying and alpha/beta match ups.

        It would be absurdly weird if it was in writing! This is something most people say in passing in the moment. If someone was uncomfortable and reported it, it would be addressed immediately.

        The words that trigger an automatic “Don’t do it again” tend to be the ones that are overtly related to sex or violence. We are a pretty rough worded industry so it’s a bit different than the office culture industries.

      3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Also everything has the potential to explode into a case in the end. So as HR you have to put down the foundation but you cannot seal up every single risk in the end. So going extreme with forbidden words is pretty difficult.

        This is like how all policies give “examples” usually extreme ones “no bikinis!” kind of thing but leave it open at the end “these are examples and do not include all fireable offenses” kind of verbiage. It’s all open ended in “We get to make that final decision in the end.” and then if it ends up in court, naturally the court system will decide if they agree.

        But yes, this is why sometimes you see creative “who did that, how is this a thing?” examples outlined in policies or training courses!

  39. agnes*

    I always answer my phone with Hello this is Agnes. I spent a few years working in another country and this is a salutation that is quite common there. I guess I picked it up and it seems to be well received.

  40. Jedi Squirrel*

    Re LW #1: This is probably a case where the meaning of words is starting to shift. “Love” is starting to mean “like” or possibly even “thanks” in this instance. (I wonder what Ann Curzan would make of this. I checked her podcast archive but couldn’t find anything.)

    Anyway, it’s not at all acceptable in the workplace, and it’s okay to address it as a language use issue. That is, it’s not something you push back on because you don’t like it, but rather, because it’s not an acceptable practice, especially as some people will completely misunderstand it (quack, quack). I wouldn’t even mention that you find it odd or weird.

    But assuming that these are young adults, by the time they are the senior level people in the work force, it will probably be perfectly acceptable, assuming the language hasn’t gone in a completely different direction by then, since things are moving so fast. (And we will probably have an entirely different way to express love, as well.)

  41. Flash Bristow*

    OP#1 – I’ve noticed this too, but only among people who are 18-21 in general, and perhaps a little insecure and need to be certain they have support.

    They also tend to say hey instead of hi; observing whether they do that might clue you in to who is engaged in all this “love ya!” business, and who’s just saying it back for whatever reason. Worth investigating because a quiet word to the “loving” top dog will filter down, whereas a quiet word to someone who’s just trying to fit in may make things [even more] awkward.

    Maybe go armed with some terms which are office-appropriate alternatives, so they can see what you’re getting at. G’luck!

  42. Flash Bristow*

    OP#2: at least caller display clues you in to who it probably is. So I take a deep breath, and smile, then say “hi! Flash here, who’s calling please?” And go from there. That usually works fine, but if they just say “Bob from Top Cups” and wait for you to speak next, just “oh, thank you for calling! So, what can I answer for you?” or similar. And then they can lead. You want it to be friendly but not casual, and remember that it’s an interview (well ok, it’s a chance for you each to assess each other) rather than an informal chat with a mate – which I find easier to slip into on the phone.

    At least with a phone interview you have the chance to keep prompts to hand and they won’t be seen.

    Hope all goes well.

  43. Lemon Squeezy*

    As someone in the under 30 crowd, #1 confuses me so much. I definitely am a fan of the “love you!” as a goodbye, and I do so to my friends, not just romantic and familial connections, but the idea of doing it at work is so confusing. Even if you’re working with close friends, it just seems like such an environmental mismatch.

  44. anonymous 5*

    OP4: academic here, and at a school who has been having a fair share of schedule nightmares lately. This is a bit of a request on principle, on behalf of adjuncts everywhere: PLEASE push back with upper administration on how you’re being treated in your scheduling mess. It’s not your responsibility to fix the mess that is adjunct teaching (obviously). But this is a case where putting your foot down will help not only you but also potentially others. I can all but guarantee that other adjuncts have been affected by the behavior you’ve described, and that at least a few of them have avoided pushing back for fear of losing the job entirely.

    Alison’s script is ideal, and I’d copy the Dean of your academic area (or whoever is the next rung above the person who has been scheduling you like this) when you write to your immediate boss. If you get further pushback or another round of being scheduled without your permission, I’d go a level above that. I hope you’ll be able to take your teaching talents someplace where they’ll be valued–good luck!

  45. Rachel the Writer*

    I’m seriously cracking up at the I love you one…at my office people don’t even say good morning, good night or bless you.

  46. WantonSeedStitch*

    Re: I love you–I’m on the Gen X/Millennial cusp (Oregon Trail micro-generation FTW), and that is definitely weird to me! I have said “I love the people I work with” in general, when asked by a manager what I liked best about working here. I went on to add “everyone works hard, everyone is super-smart, and they’re all willing to help one another out–there’s no backbiting or cattiness.” So not “I love them” as in “they’re my best friends,” but as in “they’re the best colleagues a person could hope for.” But if I wanted to be really effusively appreciative towards a coworker, I wouldn’t say “I love you!” I’d be much more likely to say “you’re awesome/you’re a rockstar/I owe you big time/thank you SO MUCH for stepping up.”

    1. Passive Therapist LW3*

      Oregon Trail micro-generation is an incredible distinction and I’m taking it on as an identity right this moment.

      1. Goldfinch*

        Highly recommend the original article from 2015, “The Oregon Trail Generation: Life Before And After Mainstream Tech” by Anna Garvey. Good read.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Still that awe struck little Oregonian who didn’t realize Oregon Trail was a “thing” outside of Oregon. Even though I’m an adult who knows better now…but am I? LOL

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*


          I’m also well aware that the trail spreads from Missouri throughout multiple states as well. We spent entire years of school learning about it and playing IRL Oregon Trail live action roleplay games. So yes, when we were all pulled into our tiny computer labs of Commodore 64s, we were like “This is an Oregon thing…” Because you end up in Oregon, unless you died of dysentery first.

          That was my point of “Childhood” me with a smaller scope verses “Adult” me who has explored the world outside of the PNW over the years. Who is also aware that tons of pioneers ended up in Washington and not actually Oregon as well.

          I’m a US history nerd not a gaming nerd, I don’t pay attention to where video games are actually created…because that’s not what I actually care about?

  47. Kali*

    Ugh, I used to have a coworker – well, this was working for an internet/phone company, so he was a tech and my job was organising the tech’s schedules and talking to them over the phone throughout the day – who would end calls with “love you!” and say “spank you” instead of thank you. It was so inappropriate.

  48. Frank Grimes*

    How to answer the phone for an interview…
    My Dad is a very private person, so on he has a block on his landline that shows ‘Private Number’ instead of his caller ID when they call from the house. So every time I get a blocked call I just know it’s my parents calling their favorite child. So a few years ago I sent in a resume to a medium sized company for a job and my resume somehow made it’s way to the CEO. So I was just relaxing inside when a call came up that said ‘blocked number’ I just figured it was my mom calling, so I picked up and said in a sing songy voice “Hiiii Mom – yes I ate the lasagna you sent me and it was great” and there was silence, and then laughter “Ummm Hi, this isn’t your mom, this is Mary the CEO from Acme products” We were both laughing too hard for me to be embarrassed – and I ended up getting the job.

  49. Q*

    Re #2: I’m really impressed at how many people answer with their name! I do phone screens for tech jobs and usually I find that people answer the phone just with “Hello?” Maybe it’s demographics – I call a lot of new grads and relatively younger people.

    It’s definitely nice if you pronounce your name for me, but it’s also definitely not going to make a difference in interview outcome overall — just whether my next line is “Hi I’m Q calling from $tech for $your_name?” to check if I have the right person, or straight on to “Hi I’m Q calling from $tech, is this still a good time?”

  50. Meg Danger*

    I have a follow-up question to number 5! What if you attend a university with multiple locations and an online school? For example, the University of Colorado has campuses in Boulder and Denver, but also a global campus. Is is OK to list University of Colorado on a resume instead of CU Boulder, CU Denver, or CU Global? As far as I can tell, the three campus have different administration and courses/programs.

  51. Enginear*

    #1. Dafuq?! I’m considered young at my workplace and neither me or any other younger workers at work say I love you. Awkward AF lol

  52. Genderless Alien*

    LW#2 here! Thank you for the insight, Alison and commenters. I had a phone interview the evening after this letter was published, and I did end up saying my name in the greeting (my name is short but a surprising amount of people pronounce it incorrectly, FWIW). I received my offer letter this morning!

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