is it rude to send emails late at night, should I tell my boss I’m job hunting, and more

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

1. Is it rude to send emails late at night?

I am currently still in college and involved in a number of clubs that require me to email administrators, deans, and other official people at my university. I have a tendency to be up late (think 2-3 am) doing homework and answering emails from people, and sometimes that means I email these deans and administrators during the wee hours of the morning.

I have no expectation that they are reading my emails or responding at these hours and just assume they will answer when it is convenient for them, just as I email when it is convenient for me. However, I have been told by some people that I should only email these people during regular business hours and that my emailing late is disrespectful of their time. But I am not usually writing emails during regular business hours because I am in class, working, or in a meeting of some sort. While I don’t mind scheduling the emails to go out the next day, I’ve heard mixed reviews on whether or not it is really rude to email after 5 pm.

To summarize, am I really being rude to send emails this late and should I just stick to sending emails during the workweek from 9-5 regardless of my schedule? I’ve heard no complaints from the people I have emailed late but want to be sure I am not coming across as unprofessional!

It’s not rude to send late-night emails. The whole point of email is that you can send it when it’s convenient for you and people can respond when it’s convenient for them. It’s not disrespectful of their time because if they don’t want to deal with email at 2 am, they won’t be in their email then. It’s not like you’re calling them.

There are some cases where the optics of late-night emailing matter, like if you’re a manager emailing your team (because they may conclude you expect early-morning responses or that you expect them to work similar hours), or if you’re emailing job applicants (because they might take that as a bad signal about your work culture). But you’re a college student, not a manager. You’re fine.

(I’m assuming it’s not the people you’re emailing who are telling you it’s rude! If the feedback is coming from them, that changes things; it would be odd but you should pay attention to their preferences.)

2. My coworker answers the questions I’m trying to ask our manager

From day one, a coworker has answered the questions I ask of the trainer/manager. It is very annoying and degrading. How do I politely tell him I didn’t ask him? He is a really nice guy and is friends with my nephew. Also, recently I asked a question of our boss, who replied but didn’t understand what I was asking so this coworker explained what I meant. I said “I can talk” and he got a surprised/horrified look on his face.

I want to apologize for saying “I can talk” if it came off rudely, but I don’t want to give him the power to continue. I can’t think of a way to be nice about it.

Actually, the fact that you recently snapped at him gives you an easy opening. You can sit down with him and say, “I realize I snapped at you the other day when you jumped in to explain what I was saying to Jane. I shouldn’t have snapped at you, but you have a habit of answering the questions I ask her and jumping in when I’m speaking to her. When I ask her a question, I’m asking her, and I’d appreciate if you’d let her answer.”

3. Should I tell my boss I’m job hunting?

A couple of months ago, my boss told me the company was considering outsourcing my function (for efficiency and cost, no reflection on me). If they go ahead, the plan is that I’ll facilitate the transfer to the other company, then they’ll find me another job internally.

The thing is, I realized that I really miss working in my previous unrelated industry, and when my boss told me about the possible transfer I’d already been looking for a job in that industry for a while. I currently have one active application, but it might be months before I actually get a job.

Every time he gives me an update, he always asks if I’m happy and often says that I’m really well thought of and that they want me to stay. If I don’t get another job, I’m happy to stay and not worried about the changes, but if the right job came up I wouldn’t think twice about leaving.

I’m starting to feel really awkward about this. I know you normally advise against telling your boss that you’re looking elsewhere, but I’m worried about his reaction if I were to leave after having reassured him so many times that I’m fine. Should I say something?

No. There’s too much chance that if you tell him you’re actively working on leaving, they’ll drop their plans to find you another internal role, which then could leave you with no outside job and no internal job.

If at some point you take another job and are ready to tell him you’re leaving, you can use the always-convenient “it fell in my lap and was too good to pass up.” (Although really, if they tell you they’re outsourcing your function, it’s not shocking that you might start job searching, and if your boss has any savviness, he’ll know that.) You can also say, “I really appreciate how supportive you’ve been. It meant a lot to me.”

4. My coworker wants me to stay with her while her boyfriend is away

My coworker just texted me and said her boyfriend will be away from Thursday to Sunday. She said she hates staying alone that long and asked me if I could stay with her Thursday and Friday. We already have a weird relationship at work and some days we don’t even talk to each other. Also, she doesn’t have many friends and I feel bad for her, but I need help saying no in the nicest way possible.

That’s a pretty big request from a coworker who you’re not extremely close to!

The easiest way to do it is to have other plans those days that would get in the way. But you risk her asking again another time (or even trying to “solve” the conflict, like by suggesting you come over when you’re done with your other plans). So you’re probably better off just saying you can’t without getting into why — for example, “I can’t, but maybe you can binge-watch shows he doesn’t like or otherwise find a fun way to spend the time!” (If she asks why you can’t — which would be rude but some people do it — you can say something vague about other plans or just needing to be home those days.)

5. How to recommend someone when my last recommendation went wrong

I’m a long time freelancer and one of my clients hires a lot of people in my field. About a year ago, he was looking for more people so I reached out to someone I know (Jane) to ask if she would be interested since she’d recently told me she was seeking freelance work. She said yes so I connected them by email, with my own recommendations of her skills. My client said he’d like to see her resume. She replied saying he could check out her LinkedIn profile. He did not respond to that email, but sent me a message that said, “I don’t ask for much, but I like a resume.” I emailed Jane and told her she needed to send a proper resume, but Jane said resumes don’t matter anymore, it’s all about LinkedIn.

Suffice to say, she was not hired.

This episode didn’t affect my relationship with my client. But now I know someone else I’d like to recommend and I’m hesitant — not because I don’t think she’s a good candidate, but because I worry this freelance client won’t take it seriously because of how my other recommendation went. I worry that any recommendation I make now will be tainted by Jane not taking the opportunity seriously. What’s your take?

Did you talk to your client about the Jane situation at the time and say anything to indicate you agreed she was being weird — i.e., anything to distance yourself from the behavior? If so, I think you’re fine here. Your client knows you’re professional and reasonable from working with you, and having one candidate recommendation turn strange isn’t a big deal.

Even if you didn’t say anything about it at the time, you’re still probably fine here (because, again, it was just one time) — assuming, of course, that you know this person and her work well enough to truly vouch for her. But you could even make a joking reference to it when you email him, like “I promise this one will send you a resume.” (And you could verify that with the person you’re referring ahead of time if you have any doubt.)

{ 441 comments… read them below }

  1. Engineer Girl*

    #1 – It’s clear that the people telling you it is “rude” to email at odd hours have never worked on international teams. It’s actually normal to send and receive emails at all hours. The expectation is that you will see them when you get in to work (or in your case after class). Anyone claiming it is rude is clueless.

    It’s only rude if you expect an immediate response. But there is texting and phones for that.

    1. lyonite*

      Agreed. But if you do get someone in a position of authority over you who is insisting on this, most email programs do have the option to schedule emails for a time of your choosing.

      1. OP #1*

        You hit it on the nose. The student who manages me is the one who has been insisting on normal business hours when I email even though she also emails just as late.

        1. anon4this*

          Students managing students, and being hypocrites about emails being out sent “outside normal business hours”? Yikes!

        2. OneWomansOpinion*

          LOL! OK, this is just a college kid on a power trip and you are safe to ignore her. It will be a good story later.

    2. AcademiaNut*

      Exactly – I have collaborators where our standard business hours never overlap – when I start work, it’s late evening their time, and when I leave, it’s very early morning.

      Back before answering machines and do not disturb settings, there *were* rules about phoning people. You didn’t phone people before 8am on weekdays, between 5 and 7 pm, and after 9 pm (roughly speaking) unless it was urgent, or you knew ahead of time that they were okay with it.

      1. Avasarala*

        Yes, and as someone who works on an international team, we still try to avoid calls and meetings during the hours you say, because calls and meetings are disruptive. But one reason email and text-based messaging has taken off is that you can respond to it when you want to. It’s not reasonable to dictate what time someone emails you unless it suggests something unreasonable about your work time, like Alison says.

      2. OP #1*

        Good to know. I definitely don’t call that late and only text friends/peers I know are awake at that time.

    3. JustAThought*

      Many people do not work on international teams. That doesn’t negate that this is a valid question for folks in the same time zone. I am a late night person that likes to clear “my desk” at the end of my day (sometimes 2-3 in the morning). I especially do this when I know a person I’m responding to is an early riser. It keeps the flow going. Generally, I find that if I’m questioned about how late I’m working, I just explain that’s just how I like to process. If folks get overly concerned, I make sure just to send them responses during business hours the next morning. It’s a bit of a feel you’ll develop over time.

      1. Engineer Girl*

        It’s not valid though. Email is based in mail – it comes when it comes. You open it at your convenience.
        I’m not going to manage other people’s expectations by sending or not sending in times of their preference. That’s on their plate. And demanding others send emails in certain time periods is controlling and unreasonable.

        1. JessaB*

          Especially nowadays when you can easily set up notification rules that say things like “don’t alert me between 11pm and 6 am or something. If they don’t want to read an email sent at 3am they don’t have to.

        2. JustAThought*

          I wouldn’t demand it either, but if a boss has an issue with it, then an employee has to discuss it to address their concerns and adjust if a boss asks for it. That’s as old as time, regardless of the newness of means of communication. I’ve had bosses question my efficiency if I’m responding that late, not thinking I might be gone for awhile after business hours for some time on my own only to wrap up at end of my day.

        3. AnotherAlison*

          I don’t agree in the instance Alison mentioned in her response where it’s the manager. My boss works ~8:30-5:30 in the office, then gets on email late (11-1 am), but another manager a level above me says boss will text him all evening. I tend to work 7 am – 5 pm. I work in the evening if I have something I need to get done, but I rather not be bothered, and I’d rather not worry about being unresponsive. If I don’t look at my phone and see a 9 pm text message the next morning, I’m stressed. If I look at my phone and see non-urgent but important emails that I’ll deal with the next day, I’m stressed. I know it’s not my management’s job to manage my stress levels, but this is why I hate it & the culture it breeds.

          1. fhqwhgads*

            I don’t think you’re actually disagreeing with Alison? She was saying if OP were a manager, to rethink the sending in way off hours specifically NOT to cause the types of stress you’re saying it would cause you (and to not make your reports wonder if they’re also expected to be “on” late at night). But since OP is not a manager, it’s not something to worry about.

      2. Carlie*

        I’ve taken to night email to “clear my plate” too. The problem is when half the people you email are the same way, so by the time you finish you have 7 new emails, and now it’s a game of chicken to see who gives up and stops the exchange for the night first!

    4. Beatrice*

      I’m in a culture where the optics of sending late-night emails is not great. It’s seen as an indicator that you don’t manage your time well or might have too much on your plate. It’s 12:44 am, I’m working, and I’m using Outlook’s “delay delivery” feature to have them sent after 6 am. Irrationally, early morning emails say that you’re a self-starter. I’m catatonic at 6 am if I’m awake at all, but that can be between me and Outlook.

      1. JKP*

        I’m curious if setting the email to be delivered at future time when the early risers arrive sets up the expectation that you are currently available when you are not? Like they see your email as it comes in and think you literally just sent it and should be able to reply to a quick question right then?

        1. Beatrice*

          That’s a reasonable worry, but nope, I don’t have to explain not answering my phone or immediately responding to an email or an IM at that hour. They know that I am not *at* work then, and my personal morning schedule is pretty hectic. For all they know, I dashed off an email and hopped in the shower or something.

      2. remote night owl*

        Oh my god, how have I never heard of this? I do project-based remote work – I can do most of it whenever I please as long as I meet deadlines. I also have a sleep disorder, so I sometimes work at really weird hours, and I always worry about sending my emails at “normal” looking times. This is going to be a lifesaver. Thank you for sharing this!!

        1. pancakes*

          Gmail has a schedule send feature too, FYI. I’m not sure where it is in the desktop version but on your phone, click the three dots in the upper right corner and there’s a drop-down menu.

      3. Electric sheep*

        I don’t subscribe to this theory myself, but some people may look down on it as a sign that you’re sending emails when you’re likely to be tired and not doing your best work.

      4. JustAThought*

        Exactly!! It’s so frustrating as it’s not the norm, but at least some studies are starting to show that late nighters are as efficient as early risers. But because of normal business hours, adjustments must be made on the late night end. I’ve not been held to time clock, but when I’m working with early riser who looks at time stamps and hates to see late ones, I do delay until later in morning than what time I know they actually get in. I don’t want to respond on their schedule, nor they mine.

      5. GeoffreyB*

        The other risk being that other staff may interpret this as an expectation that they should also be working late.

        I had one director who had a regular arrangement to leave work early, do child pick-up, and then log on for a couple of hours at night after the kids were in bed. She made sure to let her staff know that her sending email at 9 pm didn’t mean anybody else was expected to work outside standard hours. I think that kind of proactive clarification is a very good idea.

      6. Just Elle*

        Where is this magical industry where working more than 40 hours a week is frowned upon? Seriously, around these parts the weirder the hours the more you must ‘care’.

      7. Falling Diphthong*

        But if you’re looking for a culture in which being awake and doing stuff at 2 a.m. local time is unremarkable, it’s hard to beat “undergraduate.”

        1. Moonlight Elantra*

          For real. This whole letter was gave me a hell of a flashback to my college years. Good times!

        2. Quill*

          My family has a history of pretty wicked insomnia… undergraduate contained a lot of people judging me for having to be in bed by midnight in order to be functional whatsoever.

          Then everyone hit their late twenties and started on the “Why am I so Tiiiiiired? it’s only 11!” train. :)

      8. Smithy*

        I do think it’s relevant to add that in some cultures, late night emails can read poorly – and it may be that in this university setting or this professor that is the case.

        While there are loads of university students who combine night owl tendencies with heavy class loads and work – a 2am email from a student may risk the optics of procrastination or partying. And if you’re undergrad this may be an even greater risk than for a PhD student.

        I do think it’s critical to stress that it’s not about rudeness but rather knowing the culture of who you’re communicating with.

        1. Observer*

          Yeah, but the question was about things that are not about classes or to people like their Thesis advisor. Also, the question is not about whether it looks like poor time management on the part of the OP, but whether it’s somehow an imposition on the recipient.

        2. OP #1*

          That’s a good point. I’d like to think that the people I email that late know I’m involved in a lot and have a full course load and sometimes there’s just not enough time in the day to get everything done during normal hours, thus the 2 am emails.

          1. Anonapots*

            Honestly, I don’t think anyone you’re sending emails to thinking that hard about it. You mentioned you were being managed by another student and I think that’s the real answer here. The student is probably not incredibly experienced in managing and is overly concerned with “bothering important people” when that’s not what is happening at all.

          2. ElitistSemicolon*

            I work with students and only rarely notice the timestamp, but when I do and it’s after about midnight, my first thought is always, “oh, you poor thing!” It wouldn’t occur to me that it could reflect badly; that’s just when most of my students are doing their work.

      9. baseballfan*

        The “schedule send” feature in Gmail has been my new best friend since I discovered it.

        It’s not considered rude by any means to send emails at any hour. That being said, I frequently get online and do work if I can’t sleep at night, and a few times people have commented on the fact that I was sending emails at 3 a.m. (more from the standpoint of wondering if I was working all night, not so much because they minded having received them). Scheduling them to go out at 8 a.m. instead removes that issue.

        1. OP #1*

          Good idea! I’ve tried to start doing that on the emails to the people who have been complaining to me about my late-night emails.

        2. Deranged Cubicle Owl*

          I love that feature on Gmail. Before if I had to write a mail during a late-nighter, I wrote it in a word doc and then just copy/pasted it once I got up (I even put memories on my desk and/or phone) just so that the recipient wouldn’t wonder about my late-night habits. So that feature is a Godsend.

      10. Book Badger, Attorney-at-Claw*

        I’m the same with Gmail’s “schedule send.” Before they implemented that, I used the Boomerang Chrome extension. No one needs to know I was up at 2:00 prepping for that day because I was insomniac-ing and bored.

    5. T3k*

      I actually find it odd how much focus is on when an email is sent. Unless I’m helping someone find a particular email and go “it was sent around 1am yesterday” I honestly don’t notice the time stamp except the date itself. But maybe that’s because I tend to also clear out my personal emails late at night as well.

      1. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

        I think I may be able to help with how it looks from my personal experience (YMMV).
        If you have 3 unread emails at the end of the day when you go home at 5pm, and come back in to 35 unread emails at 8am the next morning – any that aren’t system generated emails might raise a few eyebrows depending on your office culture (for example I’ve worked in an office where work finished no later than 5:30pm – no flexitime, no overtime – so if you sent an email at 6pm there were questions raised as to why you felt it necessary to be logging in (or still be logged in) out of office hours)

        1. T3k*

          Ah yeah, in that case I can see it being odd. My current job and last one have skewed that for me (one has multiple shifts going so it’s normal for some to send emails at 3am, other has people working odd hours so again, really early morning/late night emails)

      2. Jdc*

        Same. My old boss thought emails were urgent. He would constantly complain if someone emailed him at a late hour. I tried explaining many times that no one expects an immediate response, if they did they would call, but it never got through.

      3. Jadelyn*

        Same. I’ll look at it when I’m trying to find something so I can tell someone else on the cc line where in their inbox to look for it, or sometimes when I get “please call me!” messages from our East Coast offices that were sent while I was still snuggled up in bed. And the latter is more just for my own amusement. You’d think they’d learn eventually about this nifty thing called “time zones”, and yet.

        But other than that I don’t even look at the timestamp. I genuinely don’t get why people get so hung up on that. I get emails from my VP and EVP late sometimes, but I don’t stress because that’s why they get paid the big bucks. I’m not paid enough to stay on email until I go to bed. They want to promote me to that level, I’ll start keeping my email open in the evenings. RHIR.

    6. ssnc*

      Lots of people are mentioning work practices and office cultures, but also, if you need to email somebody for a non-work related reason, such as a club you’re running in school, *of course* you can, and should, send those emails when you can, not based on an idea of standard business hours. Lots of people are in book clubs or on hobby sport teams that have some level of email communication that isn’t / can’t be done at the office or between 9 and 5.

      But really, even when I’m working, I’ve never had anybody comment on if I’m sending emails early or late. As a professional, I’m expected to manage my own time. However, when I have 8-10 dedicated hours a day to be doing work and checking email, I make a point to turn off syncing for my work email at a certain point, otherwise it can stress me out and interrupt my free time. I also make a point to only email clients (as opposed to fellow professonals) during times when I want it to be known that I am immediately available so I don’t set an expectation that I’ll respond to future emails over the weekend.

      1. Dr. Glowcat Twinklepuff*

        “I make a point to turn off syncing for my work email at a certain point, otherwise it can stress me out and interrupt my free time”
        That’s it! You may be afraid of disturbing people with a late-nigh email, but it’s on them to turn off syncing and silence the phone when they don’t want to be disturbed. I only have my work email on my phone because I need it when traveling, but it’s not automatically synced, so I only read it when I want/need.

      2. OP #1*

        That’s definitely something I should get in the habit of! Right now I have email on my phone and computer and am constantly checking and responding as I get more emails. I never take a break from it and if I fall behind its usually a few hours I have to put aside to catch back up.

    7. Senor Montoya*

      It’s completely acceptable in college, too. I have a couple of colleagues who are weird about this — Why are these kids emailing me at 2 am? To which I reply, because they’re awake and they already know you’ll see the email when you see it. (I also say, why are you even looking at when they send it? How do you have the time to spend on such a trivial fact?)

      OP #1, as long as you aren’t sending a stream of resends of a late-nite email, nobody with the least bit of sense cares when you send your emails.

    8. EventPlannerGal*

      I think the optics can be different for international vs non-international colleagues, though. My current job is with a company with very international clientele and everybody will email each other whenever suits them because everyone knows the time zones probably won’t sync up. When I was working with a more local company and emailing people in my own time zone, though, I probably wouldn’t have sent 2am emails without some kind of explanation or note that they’re not urgent. Some that can be normal in an international team might appear odd in a non-international one.

      That said, since the OP is a college student half the people they’re emailing are probably awake at 2am themselves so they really shouldn’t sweat it.

    9. JobHunter*

      I wouldn’t sweat it. I have had recruiters email me at half past midnight to 1 AM to schedule interviews. I worked for many years in academia, so I am used to seeing emails from people at random hours. Work and home lives have melted together somewhat since email correspondence became the norm.

    10. juliebulie*

      It’s rude to complain about receiving emails in the middle of the night. If they don’t like email during the wee hours, why were they looking at email during the wee hours? There are ways to filter email such that you don’t get notifications you don’t want.

    11. LindsayAerin*

      If this isn’t an international situation though with people working with varying time zones, or time zones that are only off by 1-2 hours then it might yes it might look odd. If the LW is that concerned about how it appears or is getting people making comments, then I suggest writing the e-mails and setting a time delay on when they send. So by all means write them at 2am or whenever and schedule them to send at 8am or whatever. There are ways to do this on most email programs – or save it as draft and then quickly hit send in the morning if you can’t figure out the scheduling of it.

    12. Emily S*

      Yes, this is exactly the distinction between synchronous and asynchronous communications. The general assumption is that asynchronous communications can be used whenever is convenient.

  2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#1, aside from Alison’s caveat about managers, the only time it’s rude or unprofessional to send an email in the middle of the night is when you have a deliverable or essential information that someone needs in order to be prepared for a commitment that morning (e.g., client meeting, all hands meeting, a pitch, project deadline, going to be late for something, etc.). I realize I may have some class biases on this one, but I don’t know anyone who thinks email is restricted to business hours. You’re fine.

    1. Engineer Girl*

      I’m thinking back in the old days when a coworker waited until I had left work and then left a note that there was a 6 AM meeting. “Engineer Girl? I don’t know where she is. I left a note…”
      That program had a lot of toxic behavior. I never looked back.

      1. Shad*

        Yeah, deadlines in the work world generally aren’t midnight of the deadline, they’re early enough on the deadline that the recipient at least has a bit of time on the deadline to process it themselves.

    2. Reliquary*

      I’d like to add that I’m a professor, and I email deans and provosts and other 9-to-5-types of administrators in the wee hours of the morning as well. That’s when I’m up late writing and grading and catching up on all kinds of work, so that’s when I read and send some email messages.

      Email messages coming and going at all hours of the day and night is inevitable in academia. Currently, I’m getting lots of email from scholars all over the globe, so naturally, they arrive at all different times, and of course I reply to them on my own schedule.

      1. AGD*

        Also a professor, and just chiming in to say I completely agree. People sleep or work at varying times anyway, and that’s before factoring in that sometimes we’re talking with India or Australia. I completely expect to get at least a few emails at 3 AM most days. Heck, sometimes I’m awake at 3 AM myself, for instance now.

      2. Jane Plough*

        I’ve noticed it becoming more common recently for people in academia (usually professors or senior academics) to add something in their email signature along the lines of “My working hours may not be the same as your working hours. Please reply within your working hours”. I really like this as it’s explicitly calling out the sometimes unhealthy work culture in academia and encouraging others not to engage with it (as well as also acknowledging that time zones are a thing).

        1. BethDH*

          I’ve been seeing this lately as well, though only in situations where the person supervises others (especially students) who may feel unspoken pressure.
          In academia in particular I feel like it is normal to send emails at all hours without expectation of immediate response. Everyone in the field knows that there are incredibly different schedules — students, shift-work staff, faculty teaching evening classes, people with part-time jobs and kids … I’m wondering if OP is getting this advice from someone in a much more hours-restricted field (or perhaps a retired parent?).
          Now, OP should not write those emails in a way that suggests they expect an immediate response, but the students I’ve had who do that do it regardless of time of day.

      3. DC Cliche*

        I was a reporter on my student newspaper in college with the “Administration” beat. I frequently emailed them when I was done studying, around 1 or 2 AM, to get my info by my 5 PM deadline. Once though I sent the emails at 3 AM, and was still studying when the vice-provost responded at 5:30, so emailed him back to confirm. He immediately asked me which professors were making me pull an all-nighter, which was very sweet.

      4. OP #1*

        That’s what I thought, which is why I was surprised that so many people were shocked that I emailed administrators so late.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I’m confused. If I have information that someone needs early the next day, why would sending it to them last minute in the wee hours be unprofessional or rude if that’s when it becomes available to me?

      1. Harper the Other One*

        I think it depends on whether you’re providing straight information that can easily be inserted into a report or presentation, or if it’s something that requires analysis/other work. If a meeting is at 9am and you don’t send your department stats in until 3am, the person who needs them may have to rush to try and get their presentation done.

      2. The Other Dawn*

        I took it to mean when someone is running late with items needed for the meeting, and the receiver needs time to review before that meeting. If they send those items overnight then the receiver doesn’t have much time to do anything other than print them off and run to the meeting, assuming it’s an early meeting.

      3. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I jumped to procrastinators.
        I have been on projects where I’ve had to submit incomplete documentation –or documentation with obvious workarounds– because someone asked weeks ahead of time have not responded to repeated requests. (Emails, calls, requests to their manager…) Missing a filing deadline causes a cascade of other problems, so incomplete it is. And that delays the entire project.
        When those experts had plenty of lead-time and many reminders and deliver after my end-of-day on the day I have to submit? It makes them look unprofessional.

      4. doreen*

        I know more than one person who interprets a deadline of “close of business Thursday” as “Anytime before we open Friday”. Sometimes the deadline of COB Thursday is because the person receiving the info is planning to stay late Thurs/come in early Friday to do whatever before a Friday 8:30 am meeting.

        1. Filosofickle*

          I try to be super clear in my expectations and distinguish between COB (for me, meaning 5-6p on due date) vs EOD (meaning midnight /overnight is OK). Sometimes I’ll say EOD but clarify that means it just has to be in my hands before my day starts the following day. Or COB, but note that I plan to work on it that night so it can’t be later than x time. It helps to add that level of info to show it’s not just an arbitrary or flexible deadline. But despite my best efforts people sometimes have their own interpretations, unfortunately. (Including assuming the due date is completely flexible.)

          1. Emily S*

            Ahh, thank you for sharing this. I’ve struggled with how to convey, and always want to write OOB (open of business) for when I just need something to be available to me when I log on in the morning that day, so I want to be more lenient than “COB” because I don’t need to have it the evening before that day, but I don’t end up using it because it’s not a commonly used acronym and it feels like it just looks weird/introduces confusion. EOD is perfect!

        2. Elizabeth Proctor*

          To me, COB is generally 5 pm local time. EOD means before you go to bed that night/midnight.

      5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I see. That said, in a situation with the additional information everyone else seems to have assumed -namely that the information could have been provided earlier but wasn’t for some reason – I kinda feel like the unprofessional and rude part is the dawdling, not the late night email, and the email is just a symptom of the problem.

        1. doreen*

          To some extent- but it’s also true that to a certain extent email is part of what makes the problem possible. Thirty years ago, it really wasn’t possible to give my manager a report between close of business Thursday and the beginning of the day Friday. My hours were less flexible , in part because remote work was much less common then. I would have to write the report far enough in advance of the deadline to have the report typed by someone else , proofread and corrected by the deadline – which meant that although I might be able to submit the report a few minutes after closing on Thursday , there would be no reason for me to submit it at 2AM Friday. The typist and I certainly weren’t hanging around for hours after the workday was over just to submit my report in the middle of the night.

    4. Asenath*

      Sending or receiving emails before or after normal office hours has never been a problem for me – one of the big advantages of email is that you can send it when you want and the recipient can deal with it when she wants. I mostly work daytime hours (roughly 8-4, but it does vary a bit), but many of the people I work with work shifts, and they send emails at all hours of the day and night. They know the recipient will deal with them when the recipient starts work, and no one has ever commented in my hearing that they should only send emails during specific hours. I do make use of “delayed send” but never just to make it look like all my emails were sent between 8 and 4 on a weekday. Mostly I use it when I schedule something months in advance, and want to send a reminder a week before the event.

    5. Red Spider*

      “the only time it’s rude or unprofessional to send an email in the middle of the night is when you have a deliverable or essential information that someone needs in order to be prepared for a commitment that morning”

      That sounds like more of a time management or workflow problem than an email problem.

      1. Emily S*

        Exactly, the issue there isn’t that the email was sent in the middle of the night, it’s that the deliverable arrived too late for the person who needed it. That would be just as true if the deadline for a slide deck was 3 PM and you sent your individual slides to the person compiling the larger presentation at 2:50 PM. It wouldn’t be rude because you emailed at 2:50 PM, it’s rude that you waited til the last minute and left the compiler no time to do a good proofing of the final product or offer/discuss any edits for your slides.

    6. I’m Telling HR!*

      I agree with you, but had it bite me once. After a round of late evening emails several nights in a short period I had a client call and ask if my workload was high. I could tell she was implying I didn’t have time for her anymore and was pushing her work off to hours where I might not be at my best. I now set client emails for delay delivery if I’m working past a certain hour.

    7. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      I actually disagree with Alison on this a bit. Even if you’re a manager, as long as your expectations are clear, as in “I work weird hours and don’t expect a response until normal business hours outside of an actual emergency” there’s nothing rude about it.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Not rude, but it will create pressures on your team. I used to think as you do, that as long as I explained myself it would be fine, but over time I realized it was still leading people to feel pressured to be on email outside of work hours. As a manager, you’re on a stage in a way and people will pay attention to what you do — and read into it — in a way that you don’t always expect.

        1. Rugby*

          I don’t think that it would necessarily create pressure on the team. It’s generally understood that managers work more hours than the people they supervise. Most of my managers in my 20 year career have sent emails outside of work hours and I have never felt pressured to do so unless I see the people at the same level as me also sending emails after hours. As long as the supervisor makes it clear that they don’t expect their team to follow their lead, I really don’t think it’s harmful.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Sure, it’s not going to be an issue 100% of the time. But I can tell you from firsthand experience that sometimes it is, especially if you’re in a field or culture that already has a lot of pressures. It’s something managers should think about.

            1. LindsayAerin*

              Agree Alison, my spouse is senior management at a university – the management team and senior leaders actually had to create a policy that emails would not be sent over night. Because even if the leader was thinking “oh they will get to it when they do” that’s not how the subordinates felt.
              All of the managers were shown how to schedule emails to send so they could still write them at midnight but don’t send until the morning – like 8am or something.

          2. Emily S*

            The people the same level as you who you’re looking to for cues may be more influenced by your manager’s emailing habits, than you are, though. There can be a real tipping point/domino effect that can sweep through a team just because one or two people got it in their heads that checking email late at night would gain the admiration of the boss – which is a pretty reasonable thing to believe, given how much we know about the way managers tend to unconsciously favor employees who remind them of themselves. First it’s just one or two people, but the more others start noticing that there’s heavier email traffic after-hours, the more people might start joining in, until a new person arriving and looking at the culture could reasonably conclude that everyone is expected to read email after hours, even if they’re never explicitly told that. Like you, they’d look to the people their own level, and they’d see those people responding to the boss’s emails at night, and they’ll think, “I know Boss says I don’t have to answer email after-hours, but the top performers are doing it anyway, and they’re the ones getting the good projects/promotions/raises, so if I want to get those things I need to emulate what the top performers do.”

        2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

          I get that, but as a manager you have more on your plate and being able to send every email between the hours of 9 and 5 is not always feasible. I used to work with a director who had small children. She would leave at 5 so she could spend time with them, and then once they went to bed, she would work a bit more. If you are 100% clear with your team and your expectations, you’ve done your job.

          1. Jadelyn*

            That’s where I come down. Folks up my management chain do send emails fairly late that indicate they’re still actively working at 9, 10pm. And my figure is…that’s why they get paid more than I do. They’ve got a lot more going on, so stands to reason that spills over outside of work hours sometimes. But that’s not the nature of my role, and I know they know that, so whatever they send late I’ll look at the next morning. If something is really genuinely urgent, they have my # and know I always respond to texts.

          2. Rugby*

            This is a good point. Having a strict rule that managers shouldn’t send emails after working hours contradicts flexible working arrangements that are becoming more common and make working so much easier for a lot of people.

            1. Emily S*

              It’s always been a thin line between flexible hours and always being on the clock. Old timers love to remind us how much easier it was to leave work at the door in the pre-internet and pre-PC days when you couldn’t easily take it home with you.

              I think the rules makes sense provided the rule is actually that managers should use delayed delivery after hours whenever they don’t need a quick response, which allows for flexibility on the manager’s end in terms of sending the emails without worrying that it’s creating an always-on expectation for her subordinates on the receiving end.

        3. Aquawoman*

          I was just talking about this with my husband about this because he gets that kind of flurry of late-night/early-morning/here are all my thoughts at once! emails from his manager because she’s super busy and wants to do it when it’s top of mind. He knows that, they’ve discussed it and he still feels a little pressured by it. Thinking of folks on my own team, I would avoid it. I know that if I gave some indication that I was just sending it because it was in my head, they would both believe me and yet also still feel some pressure.

          1. Emily S*

            Yeah, while some people do rigorously guard their work-life boundaries and calibrate themselves around minimum requirements only, a lot of people want to do more than just the minimum requirements – they’re looking for advancement or they’re looking to curry favor with the boss. It’s not a big logical leap for an employee to think emulating their boss’s work habits will curry favor with the boss. And if an employee is in competition for a promotion/project, or they have a special/flexible work arrangement that relies on the boss’s continued approval, or maybe even they’re struggling with performance – they have a strong motivation to do anything they can to improve their image in the boss’s eyes.

    8. That Girl from Quinn's House*

      Yes, I had a job where I supervised coverage-based staff, whose first shift started at 5 am. If they send me an email at 2 am that they are too sick to come in, I will not see it in time to make sure we’re covered at 5 am, and having no coverage is not acceptable.

      I would rather someone wake me up at 2 am, than get screamed at when I walk in the door at 9 am the next morning because a post has been uncovered for four hours.

    9. Dagny*

      I once had a manager who would send an invitation for a 9 am meeting at 8:40 am.

      It’s not an exaggeration to say that he did nothing all day except figure out how to be a dirtbag to people and take credit for other people’s work.

  3. Engineer Girl*

    #4 – Your coworker needs to adult up.

    I’d just reply with a “Sorry, I’m not available then”. Followed with “No, really, I can’t.” And then walk away.

    You are not responsible for her. Don’t get sucked in.

    1. jesicka309*

      Nooo that sounds like she would do it if only she was available! She needs to be firmer that it’s a “No, but good luck”. Or even laugh it off with a “haha, you’ll be fine” as if the mere suggestion of a coworker coming to stay is so ridiculous it’s not to even be considered for a second. “not available then” sounds like a scheduling issue, not a “I don’t want to” issue.

      1. Engineer Girl*

        “Ha ha you’ll be fine” actually does a pretty good job at making the request look as ridiculous as it is.

        That said, I know people that will pull the “no I won’t” card. So I’m not available. Leave off the “then” part.

        1. valentine*

          “Let’s not cross the streams” would be kind and not require a backup if the coworker invites herself over.

          And if the not speaking is deliberate and not just because the work doesn’t require it, I’d be reflecting on the entire dynamic and wondering if she’ll encroach further.

          1. Avasarala*

            I would just do what Alison said, “Sorry, I can’t, but (suggestion of something she could do instead).” Take a bubble bath. Wash your makeup brushes. Call your mom. Watch all 4 seasons of the She-Ra reboot.

            For me, it has just enough goodwill in it to sound like I genuinely regret that I cannot be more help–I sympathize with your situation, let’s please have a good working relationship–and minimizes why I can’t do the thing she asked. Her push-backs will likely focus on why she can’t do my suggestion instead of nitpicking my reason. Whatever she responds, I’d throw out a sad face or sad emoji and a “Hang in there!” or a “Good luck!” Rinse and repeat for anything to my face and ignore anything digital.

            But this is such a weird overstep on her part that I agree with valentine, I’d be questioning the whole thing and pull back on our interactions at work.

        2. Cambridge Comma*

          I think that’s a little unkind. I know several women who are scared to stay alone at night and never do. I would treat it the same as any other phobia or anxiety issue. OP doesn’t need to be part of the solution, though.

          1. Asenath*

            While I’ve known some people who dislike or are actually afraid to stay alone, this is a rather odd request to make of a work acquaintance. I would understand if it came from a personal friend or close relative, but it’s a LOT to ask of someone you just know through work.

            1. fhqwhgads*

              That’s true, but also the letter made me wonder if the asker is under the mistaken impression that they are actual friends and not just work acquaintances. Which is it’s own bucket of oops.

              1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

                We see this a lot with work friend/real friend questions, but honestly, a lot of people don’t have real friends for some reason or another, and the people in their lives who are their closest connections are their coworkers. Even if those coworkers are just acquaintances.

                Now, you’re never obligated to do something for someone else that makes you uncomfortable! But I think it’s worth keeping in mind that, perhaps, some people are making these requests of you because they literally have no one else to ask.

                1. Avasarala*

                  If you’re afraid of being home alone, you’re going to have to make lots of friends in order to maintain that lifestyle…

          2. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

            Perhaps a gentle question about what’s going on might be in order. Generalized anxiety is one thing, undisclosed (yet) concerns of a more pressing and concrete nature might be another. (e.g., “there’s a creepy guy in the apartment upstairs.”) OP doesn’t have to be the solution, but sometimes getting words out and talking through solutions can help to manage a situation or create a back up plan that OP could choose to be a part of (“I’ll be up until about 11. Text me if the ghosts start moving furniture again.”)

            1. EPLawyer*

              It’s not OP’s job to walk co-worker through anything. She is not even particularly close to this person at work which is why the request struck her as odd. Walking her through solutions will just enmesh OP even deeper into co-worker’s problem. OP doesn’t want to be involved.

              A simple “I can’t” keeps her uninvolved and maintains the work relationship. That is all that is necessary.

            2. Observer*

              No, no, and NO again.

              The thing the P needs is to distance herself from the situation not get more involved. The reality is that it’s unlikely that the OP can be a healthy part of the solution.

            3. pancakes*

              If the coworker has a specific and pressing concern, e.g. a neighbor, it’s incumbent on her to articulate that when making the request. It still wouldn’t be a reasonable request to make of a coworker one isn’t very close to. It’s additionally unreasonable to expect or recommend the coworker take it upon themself to draw out the reason for the request.

          3. Gazebo Slayer*

            It’s really sad that there are all these grown women who’ve been convinced that they are so helpless and vulnerable they need someone else to protect them at all times. My parents tried to instill in me a fear of “going out after dark” or “being alone in the city” and it really, really didn’t take. I’ve always regarded that kind of fear-mongering as a societal method of controlling and constricting women. (And when women ARE harmed, it’s usually by people we know, and often by people we live with!)

            1. Not All*

              All of this!!!

              (Fortunately my parents were big on making sure I was personally independent and making sure I could do anything I felt like alone. I do opt to have big dogs rather than yap dogs though since I live alone on acreage…but I’d probably do that anyway just because I like the temperaments of the big guard breeds better anyway.)

            2. juliebulie*

              I figure if the coworker thinks she is actually in danger when she’s alone, then inviting me to her house puts me in danger. No thanks.

              (I don’t think she believes she’s in danger, but maybe she’s scared. Or horny?)

                1. neeko*

                  The person I was responding to was talking about women with fears of being alone at night in a general way. I don’t agree with this person asking her co-worker to come over. It’s inappropriate. But it’s also not cool to mock people for having those fears.

            3. remizidae*

              Yes–people tell women they should be afraid, so they are afraid, so they avoid doing things alone, so they never gain the experience that would allow them to stop being afraid. It’s a sad way to live your life.

              1. pancakes*

                remizidae, I agree that’s a sad way to live but it’s hardly that simple. It’s not as if all of us women share a single hive mind or a single sense of amenability to societal pressures.

            4. Another worker bee*

              You know, I was just like you – until I was a senior in college and a female student in my year was murdered while out alone in the middle of the night (she was running a late night errand of some sort). I used to run around campus and town at all hours of the night but I’d been going through a tough semester – lots of coursework and had a bunch of friends that had already graduated and weren’t around anymore, so I hadn’t been going out at night not because I was afraid, but because I was busy and had no social life. After that happened, it really terrified me and I was pretty grateful that I didn’t have a life, because if I did, that could have been me – and I’ve never been 100% comfortable out alone late at night again.

              I know, I know, it’s an anecdote and statistically unlikely, but…it’s not like these things we tell women to be afraid of are imaginary.

        3. Fikly*

          The request is inappropriate, but not ridiculous. You can decline without being dismissive of her fear/anxiety.

            1. Tyche*

              Please, don’t mock other’s fears or phobias.
              They are irrational, yes but nonetheless they are difficult to live with, and they ask for compassion.

              1. Red Spider*

                Fears and phobias are not ridiculous, but expecting a coworker to spend an entire weekend with you to avoid your fears and phobias is definitely ridiculous.

                1. Falling Diphthong*

                  This. They are not your narrow network of support people; it is especially not on them to fix this problem for you.

                2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

                  Yes. Asking your bestie would not, in most situations, be ridiculous. Asking your coworker is ridiculous.

                3. Dust Bunny*

                  This. If this is a thing that you know you have, you need to have reliable plan to deal with it. Requesting a coworker with whom you have a hot-and-cold relationship to stay with you is not a reliable plan.

              2. Mimi Me*

                Yes, but it’s up to the person with the fear/phobia to figure out how to live with it. Asking a co-worker that you barely have a relationship with to help you with a fear/anxiety is ridiculous.

              3. Autumnheart*

                Please don’t make other people responsible for managing the feelings of everyone around them.

                Honestly, this is just going too far. Telling someone “no” and refusing to cater to them isn’t “mocking”. It’s on individuals to manage THEIR OWN conditions.

                1. neeko*

                  I don’t think anyone is saying that declining to go along with the request is mocking. The suggestions of laughing at the fear or telling the person to grow up are the ones that are doing this. Just a no is the way shut it down without being unnecessarily cruel.

              4. Jadelyn*

                The phobia isn’t the ridiculous part. The lack of boundaries to the point where you’d ask your coworker to stay at your house for several days is the ridiculous part.

          1. Aphrodite*

            “No, I cannot do it” is not dismissive of anyone’s fears. It is what it needs to be: a firm, clear answer, unequivocal, and leaving no room for any “why’s” or explanations on the asker’s part. If the asker should be rude enough to ask anyway, the same answer should be repeated. You do not want to get into any excuse back-and-forth. Hopefully, the co-worker will take the “no” at face value and find herself another solution. (I suspect she either will or has will ask other co-workers as well.)

    2. Poopsie*

      I think a to the point ‘I’m sorry, this isn’t something I can help you with’ covers all bases and cuts out most possible follow up.

      1. JayNay*

        I like this wording. If the coworker keeps pushing a follow-up could be “I’m not the right person to adress this to” / “I’m not in a position to help you out here” / “You need to find someone else to help you with this” or somethign of the sort.
        I’m not a fan of suggesting things to do for them. They’re an adult and you don’t need to plan their alone time for them. Say “I’m sure you’ll find somethign fun to do” and leave it at that.

        Also re: the fears / phobias: Let’s not diagnose people over the internet. Saying no is fine. You don’t need to take on caretaking duties for your coworker.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        Seconding. This makes it clear that they shouldn’t ask you next week, either, but doesn’t explicitly indicate the inappropriateness of the request. It might be like if they hoped you had sugar packets in your desk, and you never have sugar packets in your desk so don’t ask.

    3. StellaBella*

      I agree. What I find odd is that if she has a genuine fear, she needs to address that, by therapy or actions to make sure she feels safe and empowers herself. What will happen if boyfriend moves out?

    4. Just Elle*

      “Reasons are for reasonable people”

      I think you’d be doing her a favor by helping highlight for her that this is not a reasonable request and she should most certainly not try again later.

      1. Hey Karma, Over Here*

        Agreed. My first thought was, “sorry. I do do couch crashing anymore.” But I realized that would turn into, “I understand. Just come over for the evening. We can watch watch some movies. You’ll be home by 11!”
        So, in this situation, the best answer is No.

    5. JSPA*

      I’d go a lot harder than Alison.

      “I’m sympathetic, but this isn’t really the sort of thing you can ask a coworker.” Because, it REALLY ISN’T.

      Take gender(s)–actual or presumed–out of it. Take the BF (absent or present) out of it. Because none of that is relevant. Coworkers don’t invite coworkers on sleepovers. They are also not their suicide hotline, their PTSD prevention device, their anxiety meds, their psychiatrist, their “I will do myself damage when left alone too long” or their makeshift-pretend-friend-because-you-don’t-have-friends.

      If this is a desperation move, coworker needs to get the desperation handled in some other way. If it’s a weird way to say “be my friend,” it’s not a good way.

      For you: Boundaries! Put your own mask on first.

      For coworker: “If you’re having problem anxiety, maybe look into some local resources?” Or, “Oh, when I was little, I had a friend who had random anxieties like that. I never knew if she just grew out of it, or if she got some sort of treatment or training, but she was much happier when that stuff stopped controlling her life.” Or, “sleepovers are for kids, but I’ll see you at work on Friday, like always.” If your workplace is open Saturday, and if she’s salary / exempt: “When I have more time than I know what to do with, and I’m not in the mood to go to a museum, I sometimes just come in for a half-day saturday and get a huge pile of work done without distractions. You could try that, and have more free time when BF is back.”

      Or something else that, without intruding further where you REALLY don’t want to be,” acknowledges that a) it’s hard b) there are resources c) your coworkers in general, and you in specific, are not one of those resources.

      1. pancakes*

        That would needlessly leave a window open for the coworker to invite themself over. There’s nothing inappropriate about a polite but firm “I’m sorry, I won’t be able to help you with that.”

  4. Lucky black cat*

    #2 Your colleague is not being nice or worrying about your feelings. It is ok to be clear and direct – stop worrying about softening it.

    1. RUKiddingMe*

      Exactly. I think “I can talk” was just fine.

      I’d not mention it at all. I’d let it stand as is. Hopefully her directness got through to him.

      No need to retroactively manage his feelings -or- to give him the impression that she didn’t “really” mean it.

      Women need to stop letting males talk over them/tell others what the woman “really means”/mansplain, etc. and to stop feeling bad/guilty for being direct.

      It’s unlikely this guy does like this with other males and even if he did the other male telling him that he could speak for himself thanks wouldn’t feel bad about having said it.

      1. Carlie*

        Yeah, I cheered at “I can talk”. In fact, I would have said to address the answering in the moment, too. “I asked Jane, not you. Jane?” He’s being rude to the boss by jumping in too, and that should be called out when it happens. not a side conversation.

      2. anon*

        Ugh. I’m not even sure this is a gendered problem all the time.
        I have a female colleague who does this and it DRIVES ME CRAZY! We sit side by side and she listens into all my conversations and jumps in at will. She’s knowledgable and our fields do have some crossover, but usually her interventions are not that helpful.
        Problem is, she has a short temper and is anxious and i have to work with her often. She can hold a grudge like nobody’s business. So, I’m stuck trying to maneuver her out of these conversations which does take energy.

        I wish I had the courage to say “BUTT OUT, Demelza!!” but i don’t. Sigh.

        1. Amy Sly*

          Yeah, I have to fight my inner urge to be the overly helpful person. I love being able to help people in person, and my jobs mean that coworkers are about the only way that happens. I love the feeling of knowing the answers and the self-confidence in my own job skills that brings me. I get that it’s annoying, and I really do try not be a complete jerk about it, but it’s hard to sit on the answer when I hear someone ask a question I know the answer to.

          1. Nom the Plumage*

            I’m the same way; I have to catch myself from answering questions, and remind myself that I’m not at home watching Jeopardy!

            Seriously, they might not be aware that they’re doing it.

            1. Amy Sly*

              Or to the extent that they’re aware, they think they’re performing a valuable service.

              Never ascribe to malice what can be adequately explained by incompetence. Of course, it’s important to note that someone can be irritating even if they’re not being maliciously irritating! But before we go down a rabbit hole of assumptions about power plays and gender stereotypes, it may just be a case of misunderstood social roles and signals.

          2. ellex42*

            A good way to stop yourself from being overly (and invasively) helpful (I fight it too) is to remind yourself that if you’re too helpful, you may end up becoming the “office database” that everyone comes to with every inane or easily answerable question they have.

            I have had to tell people “you can Google that for yourself” or “you got that email, too” more than once.

          3. knead me seymour*

            I, too, have know-it-all tendencies, and recognize myself in the coworker here. Although I try to keep it under control, and I don’t think I would have had the nerve to speak on my boss’s behalf (!) even at my worst. Since he seemed embarrassed when called out, I suspect he would be receptive to hearing that he needs to stop doing this.

          4. Emily S*

            Yes, I struggle sometimes with the “what she means is….” impulse, and I’m a woman. I work in a role where I use a lot of technology, interact a lot with our IT and developer staff, and have learned enough about the tech I use to be able to talk about it intelligently and assign projects to the developers in accurate language that makes sense to them.

            I’m frequently in meetings with both technical and non-technical people, and sometimes it is excruciating listening to them talk past each other, knowing that Franklin has misunderstood what William was asking and is now answering a slightly different question, and William either hasn’t realized that he’s been misunderstood, or he’s tried three times to re-ask the question but keeps using the terminology that Franklin doesn’t understand, and I just want to jump in and put everyone out of their misery and say, “Franklin, I think you’re talking about door knob styles, while William is actually asking about how the latch mechanism connects to the door knob.” I try to follow a rule of resisting the first several impulses to give William a chance to realign the conversation and only jumping in when he finally just says, “Okay,” and I see on her face that her question hasn’t been answered but he’s mentally decided to give up on getting his question answered because he’s an introverted guy who likes to work with computers more than people and he’s been made embarrassed by having the group’s attention on him this long.

          5. Emily S*

            Yes, I struggle sometimes with the “what she means is….” impulse, and I’m a woman. I work in a role where I use a lot of technology, interact a lot with our IT and developer staff, and have learned enough about the tech I use to be able to talk about it intelligently and assign projects to the developers in accurate language that makes sense to them.

            I’m frequently in meetings with both technical and non-technical people, and sometimes it is excruciating listening to them talk past each other, knowing that Franklin has misunderstood what William was asking and is now answering a slightly different question, and William either hasn’t realized that he’s been misunderstood, or he’s tried three times to re-ask the question but keeps using the terminology that Franklin doesn’t understand, and I just want to jump in and put everyone out of their misery and say, “Franklin, I think you’re talking about door knob styles, while William is actually asking about how the latch mechanism connects to the door knob.” I try to follow a rule of resisting the first several impulses to give William a chance to realign the conversation and only jumping in when he finally just says, “Okay,” and I see on his face that his question hasn’t been answered but he’s mentally decided to give up on getting his question answered because he’s an introverted guy who likes to work with computers more than people and he’s been made embarrassed by having the group’s attention on him this long.

        2. Wired Wolf*

          Ugh, I have a female colleague like that too. She tends to talk over me to over-explain stuff (“yes, we need to do this because [loong rambling ‘justification’ that veers off the rails pretty quickly]”)…she also has a short tempter and poorly-managed anxiety so tends to fixate on stuff and views any attempts at redirecting to be a personal attack. Drives the rest of us nuts and I think she’s starting to make ME look bad.

      3. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

        I don’t think she needs to manage his feelings, but she needs to address it as a whole. And using her snapping as a way to start the conversation. He seems to think he’s the authority on everything and needs to be stopped.

        1. Cat Fan*

          This right here. The coworker may not even realize he’s doing it or to what extent. This one incident gives the OP a start to the conversation, which can be done in a friendly way.

      4. pancakes*

        “I can talk” isn’t as direct as it could be, though. The person who interrupts knows perfectly well that the letter writer can talk, as does anyone present. “Please don’t talk over me” would be both more direct and more composed.

    2. Lynca*

      I wouldn’t backpedal on this either. I would let it stand and see if it continued. If it did I would have a conversation about how that needed to stop without an apology.

      OP really hasn’t been rude. Nothing in what she said was insulting. She was being direct and if his feelings are hurt? Stop being disrespectful to your co-workers and they won’t have to call you out like that. He definitely wouldn’t do this to another guy.

      My typical go to for this is “I was talking to X and not you.”

      1. Signel*

        Sometimes I say “Allow me to finish.” I use a neutral voice (not angry or loud, just firm). I think tone of voice is as important as the actual words.

      2. Emily S*

        I think whether it was rude or not comes down to the tone it was said in. We really shouldn’t snap at work, even when we’re irritated (and even when our irritation is justified – it’s just a workplace norm that you don’t snap at people). A calm, “I can talk,” comes across differently than a snapped, “I can talk!”

      3. Avasarala*

        I disagree, “I can talk” is rude. Coworker clearly doesn’t realize that they’re being rude and have bad conversational habits. Instead of snapping at them, be actually direct about what you want. “Please stop jumping in, I want to hear Boss’s answer,” etc.

    3. LisaWorks*

      I’m wondering why #2 is wasting so much of her boss’s time with questions that could be answered by the team. If the peer knows the answers bc they’ve been there longer, #2 needs to check in for training there first and only elevate to the boss when appropriate. Interrupting is annoying, and that’s a definite problem, but when I read the post it struck me that maybe she’s wasting the boss’s time.

      1. Washi*

        Maybe. But often what I need to ask my boss is how she thinks it’s best to handle a tricky situation. Even if my peer comes to the same conclusion, I really need to hear it from my boss.

      2. EPLawyer*

        Or perhaps the boss has requested that the questions come to her, not the team. All we know for sure is that the OP is asking the BOSS a question and co-worker is jumping in uninvited. It does not appear that Boss has any problem with OP askign questions. The problem OP posted is about dealing with co-worker. Which Alison’s advise is right on. She needs to apologize for snapping because we don’t snap at people at work. It makes OP look bad not interrupter. But she can then make it clear it is not to happen again. If the Boss has a problem with OP asking questions, the boss will surely let her know.

      3. Me*

        That’s between OP and her boss. If her boss wants her to go to a peer, I’m sure they will let OP know.

        As it stands, this is about OP and a rude coworker.

      4. Miz Behaven*

        I don’t see anything wrong with coworker elaborating what the OP meant, if the three of them are together in a conversation. “I can talk!” is unnecessarily rude.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          When it’s happened over and over, it’s understandable. She shouldn’t have snapped at him, but she’s entitled to assert her space in the conversation with this guy when it’s a chronic problem.

      5. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Because it’s not the peers job.

        Also peers have less authority. If a peer is wrong or gives incomplete answers that lead to errors, often a boss is going to be annoyed you didn’t ask them. Since they’re the ones who field training and questions.

        I prefer being asked instead of having team members try to piece it together. It saves the time correcting errors or redoing work because Mr Helpful thinks he’s got all the answers.

        I’ve cleaned up too many messes that wouldn’t have happened if they asked me directly.

        1. JM60*

          I partly disagree that it’s not their job. For most positions, helping your peers in miscellaneous ways is an implied part of their job, and giving them information they need often falls under that. If I know my peer needs information, and I’m confident that I have the accurate information they need, I’ll usually proactively provide it to them instead of taking the position of “Well, it’s not in my job description.”

          That being said, what the OP’s coworker is frequently interjection themselves into the conversation is a bit annoying.

      6. Blueberry*

        Maybe the LW needs the boss’s specific opinion and not the coworker’s. “Can we give this customer the 50+ bulk teapot discount on 48 teapots?” is an example of a question that the coworker doesn’t have the authority to answer but the boss does.

      7. Decima Dewey*

        It may be that the boss has more current information. Or that coworker is like my former coworker Gretchen, who maintained that the right way is the way she was taught decades ago, back when books were checked out by chiseling on stone tablets.

      8. LisaWorks*

        I guess I am coming at this from the perspective of someone who relies on peer mentoring, so if someone came to me a lot, I’d wonder why the team didn’t know how to help their coworker. The original post said “trainer/manager,” but I didn’t read closely. My work has multiple people in the same role, so lots of peer mentorship. Having the manager be the trainer for everything isn’t my norm.

      9. Emily S*

        It just really depends. Some questions can be answered by peers, some can’t or shouldn’t be. Just because this guy is chiming in doesn’t mean he is a reliable source of information or has the authority to make the calls he’s suggesting making.

        One of the problems my org has been struggling to address internally is what we’ve taken to calling “zombie stats” – stats we used in a public communication some time ago, and now someone generating a new public communication lifts that stat from the old communication, and because the old communication was approved and they didn’t make any new claims, they don’t seek reapproval – often this mining of old comms is in fact done to speed up the production process and avoid needing to seek approval. Or instead of going to the one expert on staff to vet an old stat, someone just gets on Slack and asks, “Is this still accurate?” and people who have no actual business or authority answering that question will say, “As far as I know.” But in fact, the stat was no longer accurate and needed to be updated, and this overreliance on other comms people who can answer quickly instead of going directly to the very busy experts who take forever to answer means that we keep putting out new materials with outdated/inaccurate statistics on them.

        It’s honestly fascinating as a case study in large organizational psychology/org management how hard it’s been to break our comms staff of the twin habits of 1) asking other comms people to clear communications and 2) answering questions without actual authority to answer. We’re making progress but it’s seriously been over a year since we began making a focused effort to weed out this problem. Old habits die hard, I guess!

    4. BethDH*

      I was this person, and I am not male. In my case it was a combination of impatience and anxiety, and I truly didn’t realize I was doing it. I am grateful to the person who pointed it out, even though it should have been obvious to me. I do think it would be kind of OP to have ONE such conversation (as AAM describes) even if they don’t owe it to him.

      1. SheLooksFamiliar*

        I was that person, too, in my first couple of jobs after college. It was mostly because I wanted to prove I was a good and helpful employee – Eager! Above and beyond! Smart! – but also because I was the ‘smart one’ while my sister was the ‘pretty one.’ I was an honors student, which didn’t help. It was a hard dynamic to break, but I had to: I chimed in once too often and was kindly told to wait until I was asked to get involved. It stung but I needed to stop assuming I was being helpful by swooping in with answers.

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          I think this was (is?) also me, but coming from a position of collaboration rather than seniority. Genuinely intended as “the team already has this information!” rather than “Me! Ask me! I know!” and I am sure LW will have a good idea from context and situation and tone which of those motivations is more likely to apply. I realise they could both be annoying.

          Then I became the trainer. *grin*

          I do know I’m interrupting. I do try not to (I’m better at this now but not totally cured). I would definitely have taken on board “dammit Klink I’m asking Jane for a reason, stop answering for her!”

    5. CM*

      I agree, I wouldn’t apologize, and next time this happens I would interrupt the coworker’s explanation and say, “I’d like to hear what Jane has to say.”

  5. Lucky black cat*

    #5 As a freelancer you need to set the bar really high for giving recommendations because it can reflect on you and affect your relationships with clients – in my experience you need to set that bar much higher than if you are employed.

    Who not to recommend:

    – People who aren’t already experienced freelancers / don’t have a track record as freelancers. You can point them to opportunities, but you don’t want to be recommending them to your clients because they are unknown quantities. I’m sure some people will say that’s overly harsh but in my own decade or so of freelancing I learned that is too big a risk to take. Many people are good in their fields but have no idea how to conduct themselves with freelancing. I just don’t want you to have to learn this from repeated experience.

    – People where you haven’t seen for yourself how they work and there isn’t a trusted third party in your network who has. Seeing good work product does not mean you can risk recommending them to your clients. Again, you can point them to opportunities, but recommendations have to be handled carefully when you freelance. Your reputation and relationships are way too important.

    1. londonedit*

      As a former freelancer, I agree. I always feel bad when people ask me how they can get into freelance editing, because I have to tell them that unless they have established contacts in the industry, no one is ever going to take a chance on them. We have really tight schedules and we can’t risk wasting two weeks on an edit or a proofread that isn’t going to be up to standard. When I was freelancing, I only got work through people I’d worked with in the past.

      1. Lucky black cat*

        That’s not what I meant actually – I got plenty of work through approaching people and pitching myself. I just mean you don’t want to vouch for people if you can’t be sure.

  6. Thankful for AAM*

    I was actually told by my old manager that it was rude to send an email to people who were not working that day (we are open 7 days and I happened to be working on a weekend). It was a question that could wait till they were working, more of a heads up than a question actually.

    There were many other red flags with that manager, but the idea about email only during regular business hours is out there. It makes no sense but, like many other topics here, that does not stop folks from thinking them.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Sure, but there are also people who think it’s rude not to bring them back food when you go out for lunch or who think it’s a betrayal to quit your job. The fact that outlier opinions exist isn’t a reason to cater to them. (I don’t think you’re saying otherwise, but I don’t want your comment to give pause to the OP — who’s a college student and still figuring out these norms.)

      1. Thankful for AAM*

        Yes, I was trying to say these odd ideas exist but they are red flags! And they make no sense. Thank you for making that clear!

      2. Elizabeth West*

        The fact that outlier opinions exist isn’t a reason to cater to them.

        THANK YOU. I have run into this more times than I care to remember. “Becky doesn’t like X and so we have to tie ourselves in knots to keep her happy!” No, you don’t. Becky will never be happy.

    2. Ms Cappuccino*

      I receive lots of emails on my days off (weekends) and I don’t find it rude or weird. I don’t see them before my next working day anyway.

      1. dumplin'*

        Yup! Some people will check their email 24/7 and get stressed out, but…that’s on them.
        I never check my email nights or weekends.

        1. Emily S*

          I had to make a rule for myself that I wasn’t allowed to check work email until after I’ve gotten out of bed and gotten dressed – I’m in the habit of clearing my personal inbox in the morning as I’m first waking up which only very rarely contains an email that will stress me out, but work in another matter. If I get an email about an issue and I’m at my computer, I can start working on it right away – and I’m motivated but not panicked. But if I’m in bed half-groggy reading about the issue on my phone where I don’t have all the tools I need, I will start trying to think through all the things I need to do once I’m on my computer, and I feel the seconds ticking by that I’m not addressing the problem and go into a state of panic because of the gap between “what I need to be doing” and “what I am currently doing.”

          If my manager needs me to jump on something before 9 AM, he’ll text me to get my attention. Almost nothing is ever that much of an emergency, though – I think that’s happened exactly once. No text means there’s nothing in my email that can’t wait til 9 AM for me to see. It’s been MUCH better for my mental health not to start off so many mornings in a state of panic before my feet even hit the floor.

    3. ChachkisGalore*

      Yeah – I’ve experienced it too. I’ll say right off the bat – what I experienced was very different than this LW’s current situation, but I think it might be helpful for them to know this exists for future jobs.

      I worked at one place where after hours availability was necessary and email monitoring was expected – not quite 24/7, but basically within all waking hours + weekends + time off (to a certain extent – true time off would be honored but you had to make it clear that you would not be checking emails). This was made very clear, there was business need and employees were compensated accordingly. However, because of this expectation it was somewhat frowned upon to email non time sensitive items too far outside of working hours. It wasn’t a hard rule or anything and no one was expected to never ever do it, but it was just expected that people try to be somewhat sensitive to the fact that people are checking emails outside of working hours and to try to minimize those disruptions (if possible).

      What worked for my dept was that we generally tried to put notes in the subject line like “not time sensitive” or “for tomorrow”, etc. But again, this was made very clear (the email monitoring expectation) and people usually just had a quiet word with new employees about the try to avoid after hours emails if possible thing.

  7. Middle School Teacher*

    The best thing I ever discovered was the boomerang extension for gmail. Now I can email whenever I want and schedule them to go out at a reasonable time.

    1. Sara without an H*

      MS Outlook also has a delayed delivery option. I often use it to send messages to staff who are out — I want to write the message while the topic is fresh, but I also don’t want them to get the idea that I expect them to check their email on their days off.

      But since the OP is a college student, it doesn’t matter. Everyone knows college students keep strange hours.

    2. Brazilian Hobbit*

      Yup, scheduling emails is a life-saver. I’m a night owl, so I usually write whatever needs clarity (longer emails, etc) in the wee hours of the night and schedule them to a reasonable hour. This way nobody feels like they need to be available at 2 am because Hobbit was awake and decided to write an email then.

    3. just a random teacher*

      I pretty much always use the “delayed delivery” feature in Outlook if I’m going to be emailing parents late at night, mostly because I don’t want to set the expectation that I’ll see emails *from* parents outside of school hours in the future. I just wish Canvas had something similar for inbox messages so I could do this with students. (I could theoretically reply to those from email as well, but like so many things involving Canvas, the implementation of that is really half-baked and doesn’t work well.)

      1. Jerusha*

        but like so many things involving Canvas, the implementation of that is really half-baked and doesn’t work well

        Oh, my god, so much this! I won’t derail the thread further, but AAAARGH! CANVAS!

    4. Bananatiel*

      Yep! Came here to make sure this was mentioned. It’s a default feature in gmail now and even if this student is using a smaller platform for their school email, it might be possible to find an extension for it (I recommend reaching out to the university’s IT dept for the most secure option available).

      I’m not a student but in my personal email dealings I will always delay the send to 8am when I’m up late writing emails now. It has the added advantage that your email will likely fall at the top of that person’s inbox when/if they check first thing in the morning.

      1. OP #1*

        We use Gmail at my school! One of the people complaining about my late-night emails notified me about this feature and now I make sure to schedule send emails that go to her for the next morning.

  8. Zack*

    #2 coworker reminds me of me. Not far into my career I was pulled into a meeting with my senior and team leader because someone had complained about me doing this. Needless to say I was embarrassed, but I’m glad they let me know, because I had no idea I was doing it, especially to the point of pissing people off. Thankfully it hasn’t come up again, and I’m on good terms with the person I *think* reported me (obviously I never confronted her about it!).
    Not sure if #2’s person is in a similar situation, but when I thought back on it, I think my doing it came from being new, making some understandable “new guy” mistakes in the job, and wanting to prove myself.

    1. BadWolf*

      I sometimes jump in and try to answer the “punchline” which works once in awhile (usually when the story is going in a crazy direction and then you confirm the crazy by guessing the right now), but I’ve realized more often it is rude. I am actively trying to stop — one coworker called me out by saying, “Stop stealing my thunder” when I jumped the ending on his story (we have a relationship where this was a fine way to address it). I’m glad he did. For me, it comes from a place of wanting to appear clever (just be clever, don’t prove it to people) and a misguided idea that I’m helping the conversation (when I’m really hijacking it).

      Anyway, this is to agree that OPs question jumper may well need to be clued in to reign in their enthusiasm (or they could be a know it all jerk).

      1. Arts Akimbo*

        Oh gosh, me too!! I used to be terrible about jumping in to finish telling the good part of a story!
        “–And the bartender says, “hey, aren’t you that string I just kicked out?” And the string said, “nope, I’m a frayed knot.”
        “–Chicken, fox, chicken back across, grain, chicken!”
        “–And then Darth Vader says, ‘No! I AM your father!”

        Bad Baby Me! Cut that out!

  9. pcake*

    Unfortunately I find that some coworkers leave their phones on and get a notification whenever they receive emails. For that reason, I stopped emailing before morning, but I admit that I can’t figure out why these folks would want to get a notification every time they receive a spam email or an automatic email reminder.

    1. Teacher teacher!*

      I have that same problem with my one co-worker so she’ll complain that I’m disrupting her life when I send emails at my convenience. Part of it is age, and part of it with that coworker is wanting to be busy/martyr.

      1. Make Me A Banana Shake*

        I know it’s tempting to attribute this partially to age but I (good-naturedly!) suggest that it’s a red herring and a stereotype. Curious to know how old your colleague is, ie what you consider “old” and how that plays into this weird behavior.

        1. Teacher teacher!*

          I meant it as, she didn’t know she can turn off notifications etc. because she “didn’t grow up in that age” (her words) We’re both above middle aged. Instead of learning and letting me show her, growing with the times, she just complains because—likes to be the busy martyr and have everyone bend to her expectations.

          Glad to see so many people downthread agree that it’s on people to manage their notifications.

          1. Make Me A Banana Shake*

            I agree that it’s on them to manage their notifications. I was just calling out what I perceive as an ageist stereotype about older people not knowing how to change their device settings. It’s common in people of all ages (speaking as a 53-year-old software engineer with plenty of tech-befuddled 20-something colleagues).

            1. Teacher teacher!*

              Fair enough. I guess saying/reading “it’s an age thing” isn’t as triggering for me. Sometimes it is an age thing, when I was younger and now. You don’t “get stuff” or you understand better because of your age and experience. Maybe this will bother me more in the next decades or maybe I’m busy fighting the other -isms

              Cheers!

    2. Phil*

      The way I see it, if their job requires constant monitoring of emails, they can’t complain about getting emails at inconvenient times. And if it’s something that can wait, they don’t have to respond right away. Either way, it’s on them.
      On the other hand, if they don’t need to constantly check emails and they just are anyway, then it’s also on them to realise it’s a problem, and to cut it out.

      Me personally, I’m in a role that requires 24/7 availability, but outside of business hours, you just have to check emails if you’re the elected on-call person and only if someone calls. To that end, I have work email on my phone, but notifications for it turned off. Some people just need to learn to disconnect.

      1. BethDH*

        For this reason, I do try to make sure the subject line indicates urgency or lack thereof. That seems a reasonable level of accommodating their work expectations without contorting my practices to suit one person.

      2. Traffic_Spiral*

        Yup. Learn how the ‘mute’ and ‘off’ features work, and learn how to control notifications. You refusal to learn how to use your phone is not other people’s problem.

        1. Happy Lurker*

          I shut off the notifications for emails. My life has been bliss ever since.
          Not really, but I am much less stressed while off the clock. I check periodically.
          Not having that email ping go off the second I touch raw meat to cook dinner – priceless!

    3. Red Spider*

      I have some coworkers who do that too, but I don’t let it stop me from sending emails. It’s on them to either turn off the notifications or mute them during certain hours.

    4. JediSquirrel*

      There are privacy settings they need to learn how to use. After 8 pm, I do not get audible notifications or phone calls from anyone but family. The notifications are still there, I just don’t hear them.

      This is on them to learn how to use their technology.

    5. Hamburke*

      I explain that I don’t expect an answer at weird hours and that all smartphones have a DND feature, often can be set for a time of day. I use mine at night bc I’m friends with chatty night owls while I’m an early bird. My kids use theirs during school hours.

      1. miss_chevious*

        Yeah, I do DND on my work email for this problem. The light still blinks so I know if there are emails in the event I decide to check, but I don’t get bothered by middle of the night notifications.

    6. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      I leave mine on as well (I do turn the notification off if I’m taking a day off). I may glance at an email, or check to see who it’s from and if it’s urgent, but other than that I ignore them until the next business day. As long as you set clear expectations about emails response, there’s nothing wrong with sending them during off hours.

    7. The Other Dawn*

      Agreed. I had coworkers at my former job who would say “You woke me up at 10:30 pm with all those emails you sent!” Well, if you didn’t turn off your notifications then yeah I guess I did. Not intentionally. But if you don’t want to be woken up, learn how to turn them off. I wasn’t expecting an answer. I was just catching up on emails or had a thought about something I knew I’d forget the next day if I waited.

      I always turn off my work email notifications on my phone. Nothing in my job is urgent, so I can check at my leisure if I decide I want to catch up on work outside of business hours.

    8. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      When I had my email connected to my phone. I always had notifications on.

      I don’t care what it’s about or when it is. It’s my cross to carry by linking my email at all times.

      I did it to be available off site and to respond to critical questions if necessary off hours, there were sometimes glitches to our website store accounts and I wanted my clients to be taken care of. But I just deleted spam or flagged email to answer at the office the next day.

      It’s my choice to read and respond. Nobody should be stressing that much over my life choices. If people get annoyed, that’s on them in the end.

    9. LawBee*

      Yeah, but that’s on them. It’s super easy to turn that notification off, or set the phone to that sleep thing where they don’t get notifications between set hours. Send emails when they’re convenient for you, and if they complain about it, oh well.

    10. Name Required*

      It’s on them to manage their notifications if they don’t want to receive them, not on anyone else not to send email. For those who need to be contacted after business hours, an alternative is to set the expectation that anything urgent is called about after hours rather than relying on an email notification, so that they are only getting notified for situations they truly need to respond to.

    11. JustaTech*

      We’re having an issue with this at work right now.
      We got a new alarm system that only sends emails (rather than the old system that sent texts). The idea was that we would all have our work email on our phone, and turn the notifications on at night so we would be altered to any alarms. Many people objected to this, as a lot of us don’t have our work email on our personal phones (requires handing over a lot of control to the company) and we get a lot of semi-automated emails all night long from the night shift and folks on the East coast. So I could get 15 emails in the night and not one of them would be about the alarm.

  10. Lioness*

    #1 I just emailed a professor not too long ago at 11:10 PM. To my surprise, she replied back immediately. I send emails at all hours, I don’t expect immediate replies or next day replies and I think that’s the more important part.

    To me it doesn’t matter what’s the exact time you’re sending the email as long as you’re giving people enough time to reply.

    1. Hi there*

      That is the key, I agree. I run a program at my university and get email from faculty and students in the middle of the night all the time. I usually deal with it the next business day. Sometimes I run into a problem with emails to me sent late on Friday. Then it will be at least two days before I get to it (which hopefully the students and faculty know) and sometime those get a bit buried by everything else that came in on the weekend and Monday morning. This is an FYI, letter-writer, not a suggestion that you change your behavior.

      1. OP #1*

        Good to know! I don’t send out too many emails on the weekend but if I notice someone hasn’t responded to something I sent on a Saturday (because of the handy reminder feature on gmail), I send a follow-up.

    2. juliebulie*

      Seriously – I feel like this is why we have email in the first place. Back in AOL times, we used email to (among other things) leave someone a message without making their phone ring to wake them up. If they’re up and reading email, great! If they don’t want to, that’s cool too.

      It is supposed to be mutually convenient. If they are looking at emails at inconvenient times, well, what the hell? They should stop that. And/or learn how to use the various filters, rules, notification controls, etc in their email and on their phone.

  11. Approval is optional*

    I’m a little surprised LW2 thinks her coworker answering is degrading to her (the LW). I mean I see how it would be annoying as hell, but degrading? Seems to me that the people who could/would see it as potentially humiliating are the manager/trainer – and they should be the ones pulling him up on it.
    That said, LW, pointing out to him that he has a habit of doing it and you’d like him to stop should get results, given you say he’s a nice guy.

    1. Not A Manager*

      Well, for a couple of reasons. First, he’s her peer. So when he answers questions that she’s asking her supervisor, he’s setting himself up as more knowledgable and more authoritative than she is. Second, it’s rude to insert yourself into private conversations that you weren’t invited into. When you continually behave rudely to someone, that can be felt as degrading.

      If the LW is a woman, there are also gender issue at play here. While it’s rude and annoying for anyone to insert themselves into a private conversation – and certainly to answer someone’s question when they weren’t asking you – the term “mansplaining” exists for a reason, and it’s basically about men taking up unwarranted conversational space at the expense of women. Which is… degrading.

      1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

        I disagree a bit on the “it’s rude to invite yourself into a conversation” part. Yes, what OP’s co-worker is doing is rude, because OP is going to her manager and asking a question and he’s answering it instead (I’m also curious as to how the manager responds). But if I’m at my desk, and others nearby are trying to figure something out and I notice something said is wrong, or they can’t figure something out I’m going to speak up about it. I wasn’t invited to their conversation, but I’m not going to let them continue with the wrong information.

        1. Filosofickle*

          The one thing that I really enjoyed about working in an open office are those cross-conversations. There was so much cross-pollination of knowledge and problem solving that reduced work! It is not always appropriate to insert yourself in someone else’s conversation, but it certainly can be.

          1. Filosofickle*

            I should note I’m mostly talking about peer-to-peer. If a boss is involved in the conversation, I’d probably wait to be invited or at least be damn sure it’s not overstepping.

        2. MissBookworm*

          Same! I would hate it if someone just sat by and listened while I told someone the wrong information. I would absolutely be embarrassed to be corrected in front of someone, but I’d get over it.

          I also sometimes jump in if I can give the answer much quicker than someone else. I have a tendency to retain certain types of information (like vendor names and the client we use them for) and the others in my department always have to look that information up. If someone asks a question like “Hey, does Company A work with Client C?” my coworker would have to sign in to our vendor system, look for Company A, and then go through a few different screens to get the info… whereas I can automatically just say “No, they work with Client N”. I did ask my coworker if that bothers her and she’s told me no, that she appreciates it because it saves her time.

      2. Pantalaimon*

        If you’re new at a job, which OP apparently is (or I doubt she’d refer to the manager as her trainer), then you’d expect your peers to have answers to your new-person questions.

        1. Senor Montoya*

          If you ASK them, or if you’re asking everyone. But OP is asking their boss. Co-worker needs to b-u-t-t-o-u-t

    2. VivaL*

      Degrading as in “This question is so basic you shouldn’t need to ask Manager. I know the answer and you should too. By answering for Manager, I’m highlighting the fact that you don’t know the answer, but your peer does. Also I (inexplicably) feel the need to interject myself into your relationship with Manger because you can’t manage it yourself.”
      Co-worker probably isn’t thinking those things consciously, nevertheless, that’s the message they are sending.

      1. Close Bracket*

        Wow, that’s a really extreme interpretation. Peers do know answers to basic questions. Answering a question when you know the answer provides helpful information to the asker. The way OP’s coworker is going about this needs work, but the act of a peer providing information to another peer is not inherently a power play. That is only the message they send if you choose to frame it that way. There are other framings.

    3. Vincaminor*

      I assumed that referred more to the part where she asked something, Manager didn’t understand, and co-worker started explaining *for her*, like she can’t communicate properly herself. I’d get steamed.

    4. Lynca*

      As someone who deals with this on a regular basis, it’s about the dynamic he is setting up either consciously or unconsciously. They are peers on the same level. The OP wants answers from their supervisor and to manage their work in the way they deem necessary. Which has nothing to do with this peer. His behavior is rude and dismissive which I would find degrading too.

      And I’m honestly kind of side-eyeing the supervisor for not shutting it down along with the OP.

  12. Cherry*

    OP 1 – I work with University clubs, there is no concern about emailing at random times. During the day you are busy studying/working! We all know this. For me this is only problematic when the sender is asking for things without accounting for time to action things, like ‘I need this by tomorrow’ on a Friday night and we aren’t back till Monday. It doesn’t sound like you are doing this. Good on you for being involved, these experiences are all helping your development :)

    1. Sara without an H*

      And OP is actually learning to use email, which will be an asset in future jobs. Our student workers grew up text messaging everybody, and need some instruction on how to use email in a business environment.

  13. UKCoffeeLover*

    OP1: when I send emails at odd hours I might add a sentence saying I realise this is being sent verylate/early, but I don’t expect a reply right away. I just needed to send it now so,I wouldn’t forget later when I have other commitments.

    That way you are acknowledging the strangeness of the hour and taking pressure off the recipient to reply back straight away, and explaining your behaviour.

      1. Holly*

        I actually disagree, it distracts from the main message of the email – people just want you to get to the point – and there is nothing to apologize for! Just send it when you send it or use the delay sending feature so it’s sent the next morning.

  14. Grand Mouse*

    I’m not sure the gender of the OP (I’m gay so I know same gender interest is possible but less common) but it almost sounds like she is hitting on you? It’s just so much of the “my bf isn’t home ;) ” vibe and I can’t explain it any other way. I would only want my bestie to hang out with me overnight if I’m looking for platonic company.

    1. Dino*

      I don’t know. As a lesbian this doesn’t read as that to me. I’ve known many women who feel uncomfortable alone in their homes and would ask for something like this. If anything, overtures from seemingly straight women are presented more ambiguously (“boyfriend is out of town and I want to have fun, come over”)

    2. Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves*

      I wouldn’t go that far. I know I was a little nervous by myself in a big house the first couple times my BF had to go out of town for work. I didn’t ask anyone to come stay with me because I understand boundaries, but I can definitely see a coworker thinking we had a closer relationship than we did.

      1. Signel*

        I hate being alone when my husband has to travel, but that’s MY problem. I don’t expect anyone else to solve it for me! (I do check to be sure all the doors are locked.)

    3. SarahTheEntwife*

      I’m guessing she would rather have a close friend with her, but it sounds like she doesn’t have a lot of close friends, and maybe the ones she does have are busy/out of town/etc that weekend.

      (This is not to say the LW should stay over! Just that it seems like a fairly straightforward request coming out of lack of options, anxiety, and maybe some misunderstanding of how close a friendship she has with the LW.)

    4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Unlikely. I know a lot of women specifically who are anxious to be alone at night. Sometimes they’re survivors of trauma. Other times it’s because they are the ones who went from Big Family Home to Roommates to Partner to Partner without having to live alone. So they’d always call a friend for a sleepover if they found themselves in this kind of situation.

      It’s an anxiety thing.

      1. Name Required*

        Yup, this. I am a woman and I am incredibly anxious to be alone at night because of past trauma. It has taken me years to be okay sleeping at night alone in a hotel room for work travel, and even then, my sleep is still disjointed and I wake up anxious.

        I would never ask a coworker to stay the night, though! I’d likely try to face the nights alone, to help decrease my anxiety, or if I simply couldn’t make it through another night alone, I’d stay with a relative or friend.

        1. Signel*

          Oh, yes, hotel rooms are hard for me! I know it’s wasteful but I always leave lights on when I leave. I just can’t come into a dark hotel room by myself. At home I do check the doors and windows, and I. count on my dog to make noise if she hears something.

          Trauma – the gift that keeps on giving.

      2. AuroraLight37*

        Yeah, I read it as anxiety rather than a pass, but then I pretty much need to be hit with a brick to notice any kind of romantic interest.

    5. Ophelia*

      While that’s certainly an option, I don’t read it this way. I am one of those people who gets nervous being alone in my large home at night… but that was trained into me in the last 15 years by two dogs who barked at a fly fart. One would take off after the noise and the other would get into a guard position of me. At the same time, I have no problem whatsoever taking off in a random city or state or countryside all by myself or going camping alone. But home alone at night = imagining creepy noises. That being said, I would never invite a friend to come stay with me.

    6. knead me seymour*

      My read is that she’s either really desperate for company, or a bit clueless about social norms, or both. I have had coworkers and acquaintances with similarly poor boundaries, so it’s possible I’m projecting a bit.

    7. Sockit2me*

      You all don’t read it as coworker hitting on OP 4 because she (I assume) didn’t read it that way. But I think the point is she may have missed the signal. It’s probably less than 50/50 that this is the situation, but it’s not totally negligible at all. Unless OP 4 is an out gay man.

  15. Batgirl*

    Really? I can’t think of an odder way to hint at sexual interest than saying ‘I live with someone’ or referencing them in any way at all. Then again it’s very true that this request is definitely odd.

  16. GM*

    Regarding letter #1, I must share my story about a colleague of mine, a fellow manager, who used to send emails between 2-3 am every night. These were non-urgent, non-critical, almost trivial emails that could easily wait or didn’t need to be sent at all. She working in a late shift during the day but I had 3-4 hours overlap with her and I know for sure she could easily email during the day. My colleagues and I labelled her ‘the vampire’ and always called her that. It was the most annoying thing ever, as if to make us look like slackers for sending out emails during the daytime.

    1. JustAThought*

      And this is precisely why OP1 is concerned about her timing. “vampires” (seriously?) may be just wired to a different time frame as you. Why is yours better? And why do you see late night emails as showing you up? Do you feel he same about early morning emails closer to when the rooster crows?

      At end of day (hee!) your thoughts are exactly why OP1 has concerns. She’s not doing anything wrong, but there are many who still see her working at her efficient time as something abnormal. And until that goes away, for better or worse, she has to be ready to address what shouldn’t be an issue.

    2. Red Spider*

      To be honest, this sounds more like a BEC situation than a problem with the time your colleague sends emails.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        These were non-urgent, non-critical, almost trivial emails that could easily wait.
        So why on Earth did you care when they had been sent out? It’s not like you had to reply to them the instant they appeared.

        It’s really normal for people to go along clearing their in-boxes whenever they have time, and barring the point Alison made about informing job applicants that you usually do that at 1 a.m. I am at a loss to understand why the thought of receiving an email with a late time stamp is setting people off.

    3. The other Louis*

      GM, your comment is showing as having the time stamp of 2:29 am, so who’s the vampire?

    4. Bagpuss*

      The thing is, there’s no reason wh that should impact you at all. The fact that you were annnoyed or thought it made you look like slackers were (unless you had a poor management who did see itas slacking) was on you, not your coworker.

      You could equally have seen it as it made her look disorgansied / inefficinet since she could only keep on top of non-urgent work by working at night, if you wanted to frame it diferently in your head (or, more charitably, that it doesn’t do either of those things, it was just her way of working)

    5. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      Or maybe she set aside a certain time of day to go through her emails. Or she had to send an email while she was thinking about something or she would forget. Your complaints sound ridiculous and petty.

  17. Batgirl*

    OP2, you seem embarrassed that your co-worker got a surprised and horrified look on his face – but I think he needed the shock. It’s a very bad habit.
    Interrupting an interrupter isn’t rude (though it feels like it) and he probably needs at least one sharp correction since this sounds like an ingrained habit. Have the more explanatory conversation, definitely, because I predict you’ll still have to say ‘I’m talking!’ Or ‘You’re doing it again!’ Or ‘So now let’s actually hear what manager thinks!’ while he’s breaking the habit. Before you speak to him though, he probably has no idea it’s a pattern he even needs to break.

    1. Miri*

      I agree with this actually – “I can talk!” isn’t the worst thing OP could have said, and a short sharp shock to bring the habit to the coworker’s conscious attention might not be such a bad thing!

    2. JSPA*

      Understanding where it’s coming from is an important part of getting it to stop as effectively as possible, and it’s kinder, too.

      1. equality-based: we are all brains in the greater awareness. (Some people lack a sense of power dynamics. This is often accommodated or even promoted in educational environments. Having an explicit conversation about how discussions in the workplace have important dynamics, and are not only about reaching the best solution, in the abstract, in the least time possible, may be helpful.)

      2. entitlement based: what I think at any moment is obviously of great value, and I should share my every brain fart. (Can’t teach this one much, until a couple of rounds with the school of hard knocks.)

      3. low self-esteem-based: I must justify your tolerance of my presence by Providing! Value! At! Every! Moment! (This can look a whole lot like the previous two cases, but a gentle slap-down can be absolutely devastating. It’s exhausting for the person doing it, the emotional stakes are weirdly high, and it only gets worse if the situation feels awkward or the person is tense or tired. I know it seems strange to “reward” someone for bad behavior, but combining a supportive comment with the “…but you have to stop” is really helpful here.)

      4. family or cultural dynamics: some cultures take turns speaking, while others expect people to chime in. Some families speak over each other, some take turns. If you’re not sure if someone comes from an “all voices together” culture, and it might be relevant, it’s worth asking in a non-judgmental sort of way. (Non-judgmental because this is a case where “locally rude” ≠ “intrinsically rude.” It still has to stop, but probably via a discussion of “which cultural norms are normal in this workplace.”)

      5. all the neuro- bio- psychological stuff that we don’t diagnose here. Presumably if there were some auditory processing delay or compulsion to echo or perseveration or…or…or… OP would have mentioned it. Throwing the whole class of things up her to acknowledge that they exist, not to delve further.

      6. gumption advice / bad 1950’s movies / bad sitcoms: “I notice that you often [X]. This is something you’ll see on T.V. but outside of a writer’s brainstorming session, it’s not something people do in the real world; or at least, it’s strange and eager-beaver-ish in this workplace.”

      TL;DR

      1. anon*

        What a wonderful reply. As someone who is suffering from this problem with a female colleague I’m now thinking that it’s No. 3 for her. As such, I think I’ll handle this a little more creatively than just telling her to shut up. I don’t want to squash her anxious, helpful spirit but I do need her to stop steamrollering my conversations…

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Agreed!

          And while I think people can be over-focused on intentions over results (they didn’t MEAN the thing to happen, so that it happened doesn’t count), if you’re trying to address behavior it really does help to have a sense of where it is coming from. One of the benefits of this blog is crowd-sourcing “What might someone who does X by thinking?” and sometimes a response really fits, and suggests a workable approach when everything you’ve tried to date has bounced off. (For example, I recall weird emails about needing money from a laid-off employee which someone suggested might be phishing. And with that perspective shift, the requests looked less like disjointed weird passive aggressive jabs and more like someone trying to get a bank account number.)

      2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

        But I think this is less about interrupting and more about being a know it all. OP shouldn’t have to figure out the reason or manage his feelings. She needs to have a conversation with him, explain what he’s doing is rude, and ask him to stop. It’s his job to figure out why he’s doing it and a way to keep himself from continuing.

        1. Close Bracket*

          “But I think this is less about interrupting and more about being a know it all.”

          But you don’t know that. You know only what OP has told us, and OP is not a therapist and is not qualified to make comments about this guy’s motivations even if there were room in the letter. It’s really better for people who can’t observe the interactions to treat this behavior as Schrodinger’s Peer. Anything at all could be the motivation. Tbh, framing it positively is more likely to result in a positive outcome when OP or their manager has the conversation about changing the behavior.

    3. Narise*

      I worked in manufacturing a long time ago and had a coworker who would jump in to conversations I was having with someone and go through this lengthy explanation. Problem was he never heard the entire conversation so he was rarely right or only partially right. Finally instead of trying to stop him I’d let him talk and when he was done I’d say ‘Now that we’ve solved Kevin’s problem we can address my issue.’ Sometimes I added, ‘Thanks Kevin that will be all.’ as a way to invite/tell him to leave the conversation. He didn’t really get it until I did it in a meeting when he cut off me and another co-worker trying to explain an issue. The VP chuckled and Kevin realized there was a problem. After that a heavy sigh and a look of ‘are you done yet?’ when he started into a random explanation usually did the trick.

      1. Kat*

        You are my hero! That’s the kind of response I always wish I could’ve come up with but never can. And I’m also in awe you did it in front of the VP!!

  18. RG*

    I am a college professor and I respectfully disagree with the advice given. We somewhat regularly get emails from students who email at antisocial hours or at the weekend yet expect an immediate response. If you, #1, are concerned about professionalism, schedule your emails for between 8am-6pm or put in your email signature that you routinely send emails in antisocial hours but do not expect a response outside of normal hours. If this is your normal mode of operation, better to have a reputation for professionalism than rub someone the wrong way.

    1. Avasarala*

      I think a big difference between the situation you describe and the LW’s situation is that your students expect an immediate response. I remember roommates/friends forgetting that professors were not also students and weren’t available on weekends, which must have miffed their poor teachers.

      Do you assume that emails sent Saturday at 1pm/Tuesday at 2am expect an immediate response, if they don’t explicitly say so/implicitly imply by the nature of the request? Or do you default to that based on experience?

    2. Beth*

      The problem with the students you’re complaining about isn’t the time their emails are sent; it’s that they expect an immediate response. Most people understand that email isn’t instant. There’s no need for the kind of disclaimer you’re describing because the standard expectation for email is that people will respond on their own schedule. It would be one thing if OP were a CEO and had power over others who might genuinely feel pressured to match their late hours, but as a student, that’s not likely to happen.

      1. JSPA*

        80% agree. The 20% is for those emails that include the words “desperate” or “if there’s any way you can let me know as soon as possible” or “my happiness depends on this!!!!” or all the other things people say to try to make the non-instant medium of email function as a cattle prod.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Yeah, but you can ignore those pleas as out of line. Same as if they try to prod you to action by covering the email with photos of adorable baby sloths, or closing with “my mother really wants you to respond to this right away.”

          If they were serious about how desperately they need you to see this, they could drive over to your house at 2 a.m. and present it in the driveway as an interpretive dance. If they have the wits to realize that’s inappropriate and counter-productive, they probably also realize there is a good chance you are not seeing this email until 9 a.m. tomorrow.

      2. S*

        Even if OP isn’t expecting a response, the people they’re emailing may be mentally lumping them in with the late-night/weekend response-demanders. My partner teaches boarding school students (high school seniors), and enough of the people emailing after dinner/on the weekends are doing so because they want a quick answer that he tends to perceive all emails during those times as somewhat intrusive/demanding. I wouldn’t want to be mentally flagged as part of that group, whether or not it’s fair. I think this is different than a work situation with mixed time zones, etc.

        Sending your email on a delay is super easy now and helps convey that you respect your (likely overworked) teachers’ off-work time.

      3. Jessen*

        What I did as a graduate assistant was put in something along the lines up front of “I check my email between the hours of X and Y; anything sent outside of those hours will be dealt with the next day.” So students could still email whenever, but the 2am email about the assignment due at 8am the next day wasn’t my problem.

    3. Red Spider*

      If you are teaching your students that sending emails after hours is antisocial, they are going to be at a disadvantage when they enter the work force and find out that it’s actually pretty normal. Honestly, this is the first time that I have ever heard of emails sent after hours described as antisocial. That is seriously weird. If you can’t or don’t want to respond immediately, then don’t. They will learn to not expect an immediate response if they don’t already know that.

      1. SarahTheEntwife*

        It’s particularly not antisocial coming from college undergraduates, who as a general demographic are often out an socializing at that hour. (Generalization, I know! I was the weird morning person in undergrad myself.)

        1. Spencer Hastings*

          Not to mention that during “normal” hours, they’re likely to be in class, or have other commitments. In undergrad and even in grad school, I sometimes had days where I had basically no uninterrupted time to myself for many hours at a time during the day. So if I wanted to write an email that required any careful thought or consideration, I’d pretty much have to do it in the evening.

    4. Carlie*

      Eh, part of what we do with students is teach them that their expectations on things like that are wrong, though. I triage my email all day and save the non-urgent ones for the night email roundup or I would never get anything else done. My rule is generally within 24 hours, sometimes up to 48 hours, you will get a reply. If you don’t by then, go ahead and ping it back to me. I try hard to make sure students understand that email is pretty failsafe, but it’s not immediate.

    5. Thankful for AAM*

      My spouse is a professor and students expect an immediate response no matter what time they email – major project/exam/application is due in 1 hour or 1 day and they tell you at 10am and do not understand why the prof has not responded, and finished a letter of recommendation, by 11am.

      On the other hand, I am a night owl and did my HS students a disservice by responding to their texts right away and at all hours. I was actually stressing them by making them think it was expected that they work all the time. I had to reign myself in and respond only at reasonable times as a model for them (always available for crises though, as it was HS!).

      1. Thankful for AAM*

        Oops, I meant to add that my spouse responds to emails in the normal course of the day, not with the urgency students feel, and lets them know how much notice is required for letters of recommendation, etc. ie, spouse models and teaches them what is reasonable for them to expect from a professor.

    6. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      This is where you need to set expectations and stick to them. It’s not an issue of when they’re sent, it’s an issue of the student expecting an immediate response.

    7. Lora*

      Heh. Oh, how I sometimes long for the Olden Dayes when we had to trek across campus to the one GOOD computer lab, sign up for a time slot, wait a couple of hours for your turn, then log in via MS-DOS v whatever to the Pine server to check emails every couple of days, where there was exactly 0 spam email because that wasn’t a thing, and if someone wanted to contact you they had to leave a message with a secretary or find you during office hours, both of which were understood to be *not immediate* and would take at least a day to get the message if not a couple of days.

    8. Batgirl*

      I agree that expecting an immediate response is rude, because that’s not how email works.
      For the same reason it would be bizarre to specifically state this.
      It’s email. It’s up to the respondent when they respond. It’s up to the sender when they send. For you know…… the convenience of both.
      It’s utterly bizarre to put something in your signature which effectively infers ‘I am the sole person who knows how email works and I’m assuming you don’t really know either’.
      Instead of telling ALL students to limit their sending hours, perhaps just tackle the ignorant and demanding ones, or put in your own signature when they can expect responses (because how does it matter when they send it?!)

    9. BethDH*

      As an academic with students who occasionally do this, I totally disagree. It is obvious when a student thinks they own all your time. Sending an email is not itself an indication of that kind of thinking.
      That said, I do often include a section in my syllabi where I note some norms for the class around communication, including not to expect responses in the evening. Those go both ways — I also don’t assume that if I email them half an hour before class, they’ll have seen it in class.

    10. OP #1*

      To clarify a little bit, when I email that late, I don’t expect an immediate response and I never email that late about a project with a deadline or time-sensitive information. Often, my emails are answers to other responses I have received so a lot of times I’m not even asking for something from someone, just replying to their question.

      1. Make Me A Banana Shake*

        Calling email “antisocial” just by virtue of when it was sent sounds like something one says if one a) uses email only for work b) assumes everyone works the same hours c) uses the one work account for everything d) thinks that doing something other than socializing is “anti” social and e) continues to enable email notifications when they specifically don’t want to receive email. The last one especially.

  19. Koala dreams*

    #4 The easiest way to say no politely is: No, thanks.
    If you want to say more, you can say “Thanks for thinking of me, but that won’t be possible”.

  20. DrakeMallard*

    OP1, I don’t think late night emails are that big of a deal, but if you’re worried about it I know Gmail lets you schedule when your drafts will actually be sent. So you could write the emails late at night and schedule them to be sent during regular hours.

  21. FiveWheels*

    Generally if I email someone after 5 it’s because I actively don’t want an immediate response.

    1. Jessen*

      Yup. I definitely do this as an anxiety management tactic for myself, when I don’t actually want to deal with the response right away.

    2. The New Wanderer*

      I generally do it because I’m checking my emails or wrapping something up in the evening and the person I’m responding to starts their day before me, so can use the info or consider the question without waiting for me to start my day. Definitely wouldn’t expect a response before the next morning, if even then.

  22. Bagpuss*

    LW#1 – I don’t think late night e-mails are unprofessional, although as an employer I would be a little concerned if I had an employee doing it on a regualr basis because it would suggest that they are working on their own tim, which might indicate that they are struuggling with their workload. (We generally work fairly standard office hours and it would be very rarre to have a situation where anyone neded to be working ‘out of hours’ ) so the issue wouldn’t be “this is unprofessional ” but “we don’t expect or require you to be working extra time out of hours – is there a rpoblem?”

    However, if it’s usual for people in youe workplaceto be sending / receiving mail outside normal office hours then I don’tthink there is any difference in professsionalism if you are doing it at (say) 7 p.m. or 2 a.m.

    That said, if the person who thinks it is unprofessional is senior to you, I’d use the #’dealy delivery’ or ‘schedule mail’ featiures to write it when it wors for you, and scheule it to go at a time that your boss finds acceptable.

    1. CM*

      Yes, it’s unclear whether the “unprofessional” comments are coming from the people receiving the emails, or others who have noticed the habit. If it’s other people, who cares — late-night emails are fine. If it’s the recipients, then try to remember to use the “postpone sending” feature for those specific people.

    2. OP #1*

      The person/people who have commented on my sending habits are also students, not the administrators I am emailing. So on emails that go to them, I’ve started to schedule send to avoid their complaints.

      1. knead me seymour*

        I suspect these other students aren’t very experienced with workplace norms and are overcorrecting a bit in an attempt to seem more professional.

  23. DJChazzyJeff*

    LW 1 – I struggle with this as well! I’m self-employed and currently pregnant, so I often find myself unable to sleep and working at all sorts of odd hours. I’ve installed an email scheduling tool onto my email browser and it’s been a lifesaver. I can write the email when it makes sense to me, and then set it to send at a more ‘appropriate’ time of day. So if I’m working at 2 am I can write the email and schedule it, but it won’t land in the recipient’s inbox until 9am.

    I agree with a lot of the above that as a college student it doesn’t matter when you send emails, but if you’re worried then an email scheduler is a handy tool to fix it :)

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      On a vacation, I annoyingly found myself wide awake at 2 a.m. local time–a time which also didn’t make sense for my home time zone or my colleagues’ time zone between the two. Since I had a few revisions to make to a project sometime in the next 24 hours, I got up, did that, and sent off email notices that I had done so–then I at least wasn’t thinking over that as I tried to get back to sleep.

      The next day my boss thanked me for getting the revisions to him. It’s really weird to me that anyone would have expected me to do a 3 a.m. calculating of the time in everyone’s local time zone, guess the time they start work, and send the email to arrive only after that time. It’s the wee hours of the morning; they can see my email whenever they next start work and move forward with the project. By that time on this trip I would almost certainly be out of cell phone range on a hike and not see any emails until late in the day–though every once in a while I’d hit a pocket of coverage in the canyon and my phone would suddenly download a bunch of emails.

  24. Delta Delta*

    #1 – Sometimes it makes sense to send an email at odd times if a) that’s when you get/receive/have information that needs to be shared or b) if it’s a critical thing or c) probably other totally sensical situations. Odd hours emails coming from places of power that seem to require an immediate response are not okay.

    I worked for a guy who always worked on Sundays. He got into the habit of sending these long, management-ish emails on Sundays when he was alone in his office and could ruminate on things. These often had the tone of “here’s why everyone is doing everything wrong.” He would also send emails saying what he was doing in the office (on Sundays), and say things like, “hey, if anyone wants to come in I’m ….” I got to the point where I would feel physically ill on Sundays every time I looked at my phone because I knew there would be a series of accusatory and/or “come out and play” emails.

  25. Limbonic*

    On letting it be known you’re looking for a job elsewhere… my boss has been spreading rumors and speculation around the office that our company is going to be taken over by another company I’ve already worked at. I do NOT want to work at this other company again (and in any case, my department’s fate and my job would be uncertain if they took over anyway). On top of it — and this is the more valid reason — I have been feeling unfulfilled by my current job for some time and have been passively looking for a new job for about a year. This month I found a great job, interviewed for it and received a verbal offer last week. Naturally, I am not going to give my notice at my current job until I get a formal offer letter, which can take a few days (HR processes are so slow…)

    This is an awkward period of time where I know that (barring some last-minute snafu or offer retraction) I will be leaving my current job within weeks, but I can’t tell anyone. I need to give a 2-week minimum notice and the longer this wait for a letter continues (it’s been a few days), the less prepared my co-workers will be for my departure due to upcoming things in our department (I have to train people on stuff, and am trying to quietly write training materials without being noticed). I’m tempted to reveal my acceptance of the verbal offer to my current boss so that I can openly train people, but as everything hinges on the offer letter, I really can’t.

    It’s awkward and a bit nerveracking.

    1. Sara without an H*

      Limbonic, congratulations, and I hope this works out well for you.

      I went through this once at a previous employer. My boss actually knew — she was one of my references, a practice that may be more common in higher education than it is elsewhere. The problem was that I was supposed to turn in an elaborate portfolio to the tenure committee by a specific date, and my new employer was notoriously slow about getting offer letters out on time. My boss finally took the committee chair aside, swore her to secrecy, and let her know what was happening.

    2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      I understand that you feel a little bad for leaving them in the lurch if you can only give 2 weeks notice, but you need to realize that it’s not your problem. The standard notice for most jobs is 2 weeks, and if you’re unable to train everyone in that amount of time, then your company should have had everyone cross train to be prepared for this. Keep documenting things as you are, and don’t let them make you feel guilty for leaving. They’d lay you off without a second thought if it benefited them in a major way.

    3. Observer*

      I do NOT want to work at this other company again (and in any case, my department’s fate and my job would be uncertain if they took over anyway). On top of it — and this is the more valid reason

      No, the second reason is not more “valid” than the first. I don’t mean that the second reason is not valid. I mean that reason number 1 is completely and totally valid on its own. It is completely valid to act on information that you have, and to decide that you do not want to work for company X for any reason.

      No excuses needed here.

  26. Jeffrey Deutsch*

    #1: I agree with you and with AAM that it’s not rude to email someone at any hour.

    Thing is, apparently some people who run the school where you’re a student don’t agree.

    Most likely, you would find it prudent, when emailing them, to go along with their perceptions on this, not your own, AAM’s or mine.

    Good luck!

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Oh! I assume the OP is hearing that from her friends, not the people she’s emailing. If I’m wrong about that, then yes, definitely pay attention to the preferences of the people you’re emailing.

      1. OP #1*

        Yes, I’m hearing this from other students not administrators, which is why I asked to clarify what is appropriate.

        1. Close Bracket*

          The tricky part is you never know when someone is not bothered and is therefore not saying anything or when someone is silently seething and composing a letter to AAM about how to get an undergrad to stop sending emails at all hours of the night. If you have the ability to schedule when your emails go out, do that. Or compose them in the wee hours of the morning and hit send during normal business hours.

  27. MI Dawn*

    LW #4: I’d actually reply “I’m sorry, but I don’t feel comfortable extending our relationship outside of the office in that way. But I’m willing to meet you on Saturday for a movie/dinner/shopping spree”. You’re not comfortable sleeping at a co-worker’s home and that’s OK. I can’t imagine offering (or asking) a coworker to do that, except in an emergency like they’ve/ I have had a power failure in the dead of winter/heat of summer, fire, or some other catastrophic condition. Simply not liking being alone while her BF is away? No.

    1. MI Dawn*

      Actually, thinking it over, I am not sure I’d say “I’m sorry”. Women (and yes, I am one) tend to apologize for their feelings far too much. So, replace “I’m sorry” with “No, I don’t feel comfortable (the rest of the statement).

      1. Shad*

        I think that’s largely a cultural thing—in some groups, a “sorry” can function as saying “I know this isn’t good news/I know this isn’t what you want to hear”. If OP’s work culture is one where that sort of social lube apology is common and understood to be that low stakes, then it’s probably fine.
        But in other cultures it would actually imply a sense of guilt or similar, and I certainly wouldn’t knowingly say sorry in that context.

        1. Kat*

          If you say it with a friendly tone though you can say it kindly without having to preface it with “I’m sorry”. And why do we need to say I’m sorry just because the answer isn’t what the person wanted to hear? Any question you ever ask might be answered in a way that doesn’t get you what you want. We say sorry too much in conversation where it’s not needed.

      2. miss_chevious*

        As a woman, I stopped apologizing for things I’m not actually sorry for a few years ago and it’s been great. In a situation like this, where “I’m sorry” serves as a softening function, I would use “unfortunately” as in “unfortunately, I won’t be able to.”

    2. CM*

      I also like “Sorry, I can’t” and if she asks why you can say, “I’m not comfortable with that. But I hope you find a way to feel better about your BF being away.” This is a coworker, I don’t think you owe her any explanation. Even with a close friend, I think this is a big ask. (Also, I don’t think “sorry” in this case is really apologizing — it’s just softer than saying “No.”)

    3. gyrfalcon*

      Why offer to hang out with her? It sounds like OP doesn’t normally hang out with Coworker, so why give in to the “oh poor me, home alone” pity party and offer to do something OP probably doesn’t want to do?

  28. Sam.*

    This isn’t directly related to OP #1’s question, but I did want to mention that for a college student, this could trigger questions of whether you’re taking care of yourself/figuring out how to successfully balance responsibilities/in need of some additional resources to help you stay on top of things.

    Not things I’d ask a colleague who was emailing late at night (not my business!), but at a university, there are people whose jobs involve student well-being and who would therefore be attuned to these kinds of patterns. I work in higher ed, and I think most of my student affairs colleagues over the years would notice if a student was regularly emailing in the middle of the night and would pay attention to whether there were other signs that they should be asking the student some gently-probing questions about how they were managing.

    So while emailing at odd hours may not raise questions about your professonalism, in a traditional university setting there are other questions it could raise.

    1. OP #1*

      Good to know! There have definitely been a few nights where a gave up a few hours of sleep to answer my email/finish my homework but I’m working on balancing better.

  29. !*

    OP #2 – I used to be “helpful” like this but now only respond when someone is speaking to me directly because I can see how it would come off as a know-it-all and not appreciated. In fact, I’ve dialed myself WAY down because I’ve learned that it only makes for people feeling stupid even though I NEVER thought they were.

    1. Auntie Social*

      We’re fixers—except sometimes we have to let people figure things out for themselves. Plus if you’ve been around a while sometimes you have a lot of institutional memory that other people don’t, so there’s a “do I say something here or don’t I” thing.

      1. Amy Sly*

        The last two weeks of my last job were some of the most enjoyable of my career, because I was officially made a “ask this person before bugging the boss” senior team member. The annoying habit I have to suppress was actually my job, and both the boss and the new hires were glad I was doing it!

        I need to find a way to make being that person part of my permanent job, honestly.

        1. !*

          Honestly, I’m burned out from being that person which is also why I have dialed WAY back on it, that’s what I get for being at my company too long (15 years!). :)

          1. Amy Sly*

            I could see myself getting to that point, but never having had a long tenure in a single job or even an industry (longest single held job to date is still the shoe store, at two years full time and another two years part time), the mental thrill of actually feeling enough confidence in my skills and knowledge base to offer help, and being knowledgeable enough to answer questions, is still strong. Especially when I can do it more as a mentoring thing of not giving the answers so much as asking the right questions, e.g. “Where is this shoe in the stockroom?!”

            “Is it men’s or women’s? Is it a sandal or closed toe? What type of closed toe? What’s the brand name? What’s the style name?”
            “Oh, here it is!”

    2. a heather*

      Yes! I am terminally helpful and definitely come off as a know-it-all way too much. I’m working on it.

  30. Womens Rea*

    OP#1: I totally agree with Alison here. I also wanted to add that if you’re at all worried that you’re bothering other people with your late night e-mailing (which really isn’t a big deal, and their reaction is out of your control), you can draft your e-mails at night and have them scheduled to be sent in the morning. I know at least Gmail has that a capability – other places might as well.

  31. Anon Here*

    #1 – The argument against late night emailing that I’ve heard is just that it carries a certain stigma, the stigma against being awake late at night. Some people, wrongly, associate that with a partying lifestyle or just poor judgment. I have heard this concern raised on international teams. It was relevant because people’s email signatures showed which city they were based in.

    I think the stigma is silly. But there’s a separate, more valid reason to wait to send those emails. Since you can expect them to be read during business hours, you get a chance to save them as drafts and review them before sending them out. This is advantageous with any writing. It’s easy to miss a mistake or forget to mention something. So that’s what I do. I save the emails and then hit Send during the day.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      For a lot of people, an incoming email is read, any deliverable on their part quickly typed out, and send is hit. Building in an extra review-and-contemplate-and-edit step for every email is the opposite of how a lot of people use email–especially as you go higher in the organization and people’s time and attention is at a premium.

      I do what you describe with longer writing projects: if at all possible, I try to sleep on it and review before sending them off. But applying that standard to every email I send would be adding piles of extra work. And my email piles are small compared to my exec spouse, who usually spends a while every night going through emails sent from every time zone and whacking any moles before going to bed.

    2. juliebulie*

      I refuse to inconvenience myself just to reinforce a stigma. Waiting to email is not such a terrible idea, though. There are emails that I would probably never send if I had more time to think about them first. (I don’t mean nastygrams and such, but more like questions about things where I eventually decide I’ll make the decision on my own and ask for forgiveness later if necessary.)

      But that has nothing to do with the time of day. I actually write most of my emails between 10 AM and noon. If I wait before sending them, they go out late in the day and don’t get read till tomorrow!

  32. hbc*

    OP2: I’m a little torn. It sounds like this guy is jumping in to answer questions and is generally being rude, but it also sounds like he’s been in the position longer and actually has the answers. Is it possible you’re supposed to be asking colleagues before going to the manager? It’s not uncommon for someone who’s a manager/trainer to be willing to help you but also expect you to ask the simple things of the person sitting right next to you so he can spend more time on other duties.

    I feel like maybe his youth (right? friends with your nephew points that way) is making you feel “degraded” when it’s just natural that he’s more knowledgable right now. However you address it (asking him more of the questions, telling him you need your answers from your manager, whatever), I’d try to take the shame/degradation out of the equation.

  33. OP#3*

    Thanks Alison for the reassurance that it’s ok to not say anything. The boss is a really nice guy and I was starting to feel guilty. I think when I do get another job I probably will say that I wasn’t looking but that the job was too good an opportunity.

    In case anyone was wondering, the reason I’m in this situation is that I relocated. I worked for a large employer previously, and I now live somewhere where there are only a couple of very small businesses in that particular industry. I’m confident that I will be able to make the move at some point, I just don’t know how long it might take.

    1. LawBee*

      Definitely don’t say anything. :) You don’t have another job yet, and it may be months before you do, but if you say you’re looking – well, your boss has little incentive to try and keep you on board. They love you now, but also they have to plan for the future, and you would have just indicated that they shouldn’t be including you in those plans.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Feeling this displaced kind of loyalty to a nice boss/company is extremely normal. Especially since you have strong work ethic.

      However it’s a business transaction in the end. You are kind, courteous and professional. Leaving at any time is up to you and advance notice is only on your terms or if there’s a contract involved. If he’s a nice guy, it’ll be a bummer when you leave eventually but shouldn’t change how he thinks about you given your track record with being a solid employee.

      When you cut positions. This is exactly what is expected. Transfering is a nice option but it’s only a possibility not anything more than that.

  34. Scarlet*

    For OP #5 – I concur with Alison’s advice, making a joke of it is exactly what I would do.

    I used to be an external recruiter and the amount of times I’ve had someone say “see my LinkedIn profile”. Agh! You should forward over information in the format requested. Put additional steps in place for a recruiter and that’s a sure-fire way to get into the reject pile.

  35. CrookedLily*

    #2 – On my team we are actually expected to ask questions of our peers and help each other. Our manager doesn’t actually know the answers, and most of us who have been here for a while are aware that our lead usually doesn’t know what they are talking about.

    1. EPLawyer*

      But if that were the case, OP would be aware of it. She would be asking her co-worker the question, not her Boss. Since she is asking the Boss questions, she presumably needs the Boss’ answer, not her co-worker’s. No matter how much the co-worker thinks he knows on that particular topic.

  36. Boom*

    #1 I think it depends on what field you’re in. I think it’s perfectly fine in college to send emails whenever just the norm. But out in the workforce, I think that changes. I work in PR and many people have notifications on their phones, even at late hours, so an email about something mundane at night that could wait 12 hours can be a real bother. But in other fields where everyone shuts down at 5, I can’t imagine it’d be a problem.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      And if you’re in a field that has this kind of setup (notifications on because things may “break” at any given time that needs to be dealt with), many email clients let you delay send your emails. So you write it at 2am and schedule it to deliver at 8am. Same with texts, my partner used to send delayed messages when we first were figuring each other out so he wouldn’t accidentally disturb me at weird hours since I’m 9-5 and he was working crazy hours.

  37. LGC*

    LW1: For your specific situation, you already have your answer! Your deans and other college officials don’t mind when you email! If it works for you to get an email out at like 2 AM, then go ahead! (And also, please get some rest – it sounds like you are a VERY busy person.)

    It’s hard to really generalize, simply because there’s a lot of difference. I don’t have a heavy email load myself (as in, I get about 20-30 emails a day total, and a lot of those are CCs where I don’t specifically have to respond), but I’m generally expected to respond the same day to a lot of things. So we generally keep it to when we’re in the office unless it’s an emergency. My boss is notoriously bad about this – she’ll respond to anything I send pretty shortly after whenever I send it, so I’ve kind of had to put up boundaries and delay emails that go to her if I’m in the office on an off day.

  38. heatherskib*

    #1- I wonder if it could be a content issue. I’ve had several higher-ups that are fans of the 3 am emails. I generally find that their tone gets more abrupt the later the e-mail is sent. I’ve also found that frequently their email content becomes less comprehensible. Take a moment and proofread before you send emails that early just to make sure possible fatigue isn’t affecting your tone.
    But in order to keep this power that is, I would add a delay send rule after a certain time of day because sometimes it really is a matter of picking your battles.

  39. Case of the Mondays*

    For oddly timed emails, you could just throw a mention about it in the email. I recently sent a substantive email to a client and added “excuse the time on this email. I’m on a late flight and trying to make the most of the time.”

    In OP’s situation they could say something like “excuse the time on this email. I’m up for other reasons and do not expect an immediate response.”

    1. juliebulie*

      Often it is better not to draw attention to the time. Some people have been known to do this in order to advertise, “SEE how early I showed up to work/how late I stayed!” (Which is pretty funny when if your email server lets you schedule your emails!)

  40. Bunny Girl*

    LW 1: I work with teaching and research faculty, and I find I get emails at all hours of the night and through the weekend and I never think anything of it. If I am not in the office, I don’t read or answer emails and I think all of them know that and don’t expect an answer until I’m back in the office. Most of the time I don’t even notice the time it’s sent.

    However, I think tone of the email is important. I have gotten emails from faculty on holidays/inclement weather days that I don’t see until I get back in the office, and I can tell from the tone/writing of the email that they wanted an answer right then or very soon. Which, ya know, tough tittie I’m hourly. I honestly think smart phones and people expecting you to be connected all the time is to blame. Any way, as long as in your emails you aren’t making it seem like you need an answer by 3am sharp, I wouldn’t worry about it.

  41. Belle of the Midwest*

    OP #1: I am a counselor at a midwestern public university. I can’t speak for other people who work in this sector, but my inbox is set up to see most recent emails first, so when I get to the office, an email that came in the night before or overnight will be the first to get my attention. Most of us are pretty aware that our students keep different waking hours from faculty, staff, and administrators, and I think our students know that we are probably not going to get back with them until sometime the next business day. When you get to the workforce after college, you can always ask in your first days on the job if there is email protocol for sending or responding to emails outside the business day/across time zones.
    PS–I got an overnight email this morning from a student whose roommate came to see me for career counseling yesterday. He wants an appointment too, after his roommate told him I helped him figure some things out. So I am feeling especially sanguine about early morning emails from students today!

      1. MeganTea*

        I also work at a Midwest public university — it’s well known that many of the deans and higher level administration are taking care of their email late at night. I frequently get email from the associate dean I report to after hours (he’s not expecting me to respond till the next day). I also get a lot of after hour emails from students, and that doesn’t bother me. I’ll respond to them the next morning and not care whether they sent the email at 6 p.m., 2 a.m. or 4 a.m. — I’ve seen it all.

  42. Anonymeece*

    #1: Ooh, I love this question! I’m an insomniac, and if I can’t go to sleep, I’ll often work on stuff just to have something to do, which means I’ll send emails at 4:00 in the morning sometimes. I always feel awkward about it, but like the OP, I don’t expect an answer right away.

    I think Alison’s answer is spot-on here, but I would say that if any of the people telling you not to do this are the people you’re emailing, or people in authority over you, then I would go ahead and schedule the emails just to be safe.

  43. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    Email at the time most convenient for you!

    My only “lol wut” story about someone emailing at 2am that was rude AF was a dude who was indignant about a charge and sent multiple emails saying “hellooooo are you there?! Fix it now or I’m gonna nevaaaaa buy from you again!” (Good. Don’t!)

    We saw it and was like “he must have been drunk… even major companies close their CSR department at night.”

    So yeah don’t be That Guy. And don’t send things at the 11th hour that are needed for the very next morning. Aka be respectful, last minute is rude regardless of if it’s 2am or 4:59pm. People need time to get to your email because rarely is a busy person ever just twiddling their thumbs waiting to pounce on whatever you personally need, you know?

    1. Don't Send Your Kids to Hudson University*

      I said this below but I think it relates to what you’ve said here. I’m a university administrator and students who aren’t used to sending emails in a more professional context are sometimes learning how to convey the right tone in their writing. With student emails to administrators, there’s already some heightened risk of those messages conveying a tone that isn’t intended (like a sense entitlement, unreasonable demands, misalignment of expectations around how long an ordinary process might take), depending on their content. When that happens AND the message is timestamped with an early morning hour, it can give the impression that the student is way more emotionally invested than they actually are — it can look like the student stayed up all night stewing and might come across as adversarial. That’s not true for run-of-the mill emails/responses, but when their are requests for time/support/services or disagreement about something I think that risk is there.

      1. OP #1*

        Oh, I hadn’t thought about that. I’d like to think my emails don’t sound that way because I’m usually responding to questions people sent me throughout the day but it is something I will keep a closer eye on.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        I love them extra because everywhere I’ve worked the response is the same. “I’d rather have no business, than bad business. Go ahead and self select yourself out, bro!”

  44. Nom the Plumage*

    LW 1: there should be an option, depending on the email you use, to schedule the message to be sent at a later time/date. In Outlook it’s under the Options tab (”Delay Delivery”).

    1. Monk. Adrian Monk.*

      I came back from a week-long vacation once to my manager’s horrified, “There’s something wrong with your computer, an e-mail from you was sent Thursday morning, IT needs to fix it!”, when I had simply used this feature to send something that needed to be out by Friday.

  45. Senor Montoya*

    OP #4. I would not follow Alison’s advice, actually. You need to say “No” nicely, explaining that you do not feel it is professional to stay with her this way, and that you don’t want anything to feel weird at work.

    That’s it. Anything else sounds like it’s just that this one time doesn’t work, and your co-worker will feel it is ok to ask again. Then you’re going through the whole pretending it doesn’t work dance again, when you want her not to even ask.

  46. Rainbow Roses*

    #5 Wow. LinkedIn may be the hip cool thing nowadays but every employer is different and resume *do* matter. Losing out on a job for refusing a simple request tells me Jane is not serious about the job and I wouldn’t pursue her further either. That’s not someone who I’d want to work for me.
    For this new person, give her a heads-up about how the client will want a resume. Tell her your story leaving names out.

  47. Don't Send Your Kids to Hudson University*

    The caveat for LW #1 is that if the content of her email involves anything contentious, like an appropriate/professional disagreement about how to handle something (I’m imagining a disagreement over where to hold an event or whether or not the university will provide the amount of requested support to the organization), it’s best not to send those in the wee hours. As a university administrator, I sometimes see those messages and the timestamp on the message can influence the perceived tone of the message. Sometime students’ expectations around how/when a particular decision will be made don’t quite match with actual practices (which makes sense, they are often navigating these things for the first time) and so there can already be a problematic tone to email communications, depending on the content. If the message could already be misread as more demanding or more contentious than is intended, sending it at 2am will heighten the chances of that happening. I’m not saying it *should* work this way, just that I’ve seen that happen enough that it would help this LW to be aware of that and avoid it.

    1. juliebulie*

      Even though I’m 98% “send all emails whenever,” you bring up a good point. Most emails won’t bother me no matter what time I read them; but if someone’s email makes me angry just before I go to bed and I can’t confront them till the next day, then I’m not going to sleep all night.

      Though I still think it’s on me not to read email when I don’t need to read it. Indeed, staying off email till next day gives the sender a chance to follow up with a “gee, I didn’t mean to sound so dogmatic” apology or (depending mail server) maybe even unsend the message so you never see it.

      1. Don't Send Your Kids to Hudson University*

        I agree! I think what I’m getting at is more about when the receiver reads the email, is taken aback by its tone, and then notices the timestamp triggering: “Gosh they sent this at 2am! That’s so strange! They must be totally unreasonable about this thing.” Even if it’s unfair to the sender (who just has time to do this kind of work late), people who work during ordinary business hours may have this sort of reaction even when they are reading that email at 9:00am from their desk, if the content/tone of the email already have them assuming the sender is prickly.

    2. OP #1*

      Good point! I’ll keep that in mind when I send emails about events I’m planning and try to get them out in the morning before I go to class.

  48. Third or Nothing!*

    LW#4: In your situation I would keep it simple with “I’m not comfortable doing that.” You don’t need to give an explanation. In fact, avoid explanations as they give the opportunity to push back and provide reasons why you actually can do the thing.

  49. Jennifer*

    #5
    HA! Is Jane 12 years old. “Didn’t you hear? Like, resumes are over. It’s all about Linkedin now. #okboomer”

    Though it would be nice if Linkedin were sufficient.

    1. Allison*

      For real, there’s enough info on my LinkedIn that it really ought to suffice as a resume, my resume is just a dry, boring version of the same stuff. OF COURSE I have a resume and I will send it when requested, but I only update it when I’m unemployed and actually need a job, if I’m employed and someone reaches out to me about an opportunity, they really should understand that if they need a resume, it’s gonna take me a day or two to get an updated version together.

      1. H.C.*

        there’s enough info on my LinkedIn that it really ought to suffice as a resume, my resume is just a dry, boring version of the same stuff.

        For me, I think that’s a missed opportunity – given the different purposes of LI & resume. The latter should be a marketing document tailored to the specific potential employer, whereas LI profiles tend to be more generic & exhaustive – which is not always an advantage.

        1. JE*

          Except that an experienced freelancer might have invested significant time and money into making their LI profile into their primary marketing document. Client descriptions, industry specifics, even anonymized examples of work done in the past. A resume would have none of that.

          The impression I get is that the client is not very experienced in hiring freelancers. If she has other work/clients, Jane should (and apparently did) pass on working for this client.

    2. Bananatiel*

      Yeah I bristled at that when I read the letter but kept thinking about it and… it does make sense. In the hiring committees I’ve been on, resumes are used to quickly filter out who is minimally qualified and then the make-or-break for the phone interview stage is usually the cover letter.

  50. blink14*

    OP #1: I’m in academia – mostly faculty focused – and I see some emails come in from faculty late at night, they may be working late or traveling in a different time zone. I came from a very different industry, and emails sent during off hours were generally considered emergencies.

    I think as a student and/or in the academia world, this ok to a point. Some people feel pressure to respond to emails immediately, and it may help if you throw in some language that acknowledges that the email isn’t urgent and the recipient should respond at a time that works for them.

    Once you are out in the working world, you’ll want to get a read on the email culture at future places of employment, and see if this timing would be acceptable. Also, you most likely won’t need to even think about it much, because you’ll be at work during standard business hours anyway.

  51. Allison*

    1) The only reason I might be annoyed by this is if I forgot to put my phone on “Do not disturb” and it vibrated, waking me up in the middle of the night. But that’s a me problem, not a them problem.

    4) I’d probably say “I’m sorry you’re dealing with this, it can be tough to be alone when you’re not used to it, but I’m not comfortable staying with you when we don’t know each other that well. I hope you find someone to keep you company.” This is, obviously, not the answer she wants and it does make it seem like you can and you’re choosing not to, but it’s also a valid answer and she needs to be an adult about it.

  52. Ralph Wiggum*

    LW #4

    My mind immediately goes to concern for the coworker’s safety, which trumps professionalism. Personally, I’d ask directly, “Will you be unsafe alone this weekend.” If yes, I’d work with her to get the resources she needs — self-help hotline, scheduled police courtesy check-in, mental health services, etc.

    But actually staying with her over the weekend, no, that’s not an acceptable solution unless you’re close and would actually enjoy it.

    1. juliebulie*

      Exactly – if she’s truly unsafe, there’s some question as to how much protection I’d be able to offer. Let’s just say I don’t exactly roll a 20 on every attack.

      1. Ralph Wiggum*

        Well, by possible safety issues, I’m including things like self-harm or a disability that makes common tasks dangerous. I’m not sure if any of things apply, but the request raises such a red flag for me that I’d ask.

        But yeah, even in those situations, the average person isn’t necessarily knowledgeable on how to handle it.

  53. mark132*

    I personally somewhat resent co-workers sending emails at all hours. It’s not that I read them at all hours, because I don’t, but I don’t like that implication that working at all hours is a good idea and is something every should be doing.

    1. Observer*

      Many of us resent the implication that the schedule that works for us is wring and that we have to work schedules that don’t work for us so that someone doesn’t put thoughts in our heads that don’t exist.

      1. mark132*

        Well you may not have the thought, but people I’ve worked for in the past have. So there you go. It’s not a personal thing. But comparisons are often made. “Why aren’t you more like co-worker X and answer my email quicker”

    2. juliebulie*

      I don’t think that’s the implication. I think the implication is “if I could make my life easier by working regular hours like you, don’t you think I would? Do you think I’m having fun, writing emails at 2 am when I should be partying or sleeping?”

  54. Ughhhh*

    OP1, I have not seen this mentioned here yet (although I could have missed it), but with my work I tend to wait to send emails until regular business hours, but not because it is in any way rude to send late night / early morning emails!

    The reason I wait is because I have found that with certain clients I am emailing, my chance of getting a response on the first try (as opposed to after sending a follow up email) is higher when I send the initial email during regular business hours. I think it’s because they are more likely to look at it and reply right away, vs. seeing it on their phone and thinking they will reply when they get to the office and then forgetting. If I have something to send in an email ready to go at 6PM on a Friday, I will always wait until Monday morning (unless it is urgent), because I don’t want to risk it getting buried in someone’s inbox for 2 weeks. Not everyone is great at tending to their inbox.

    1. Ralph Wiggum*

      Ooh. Good point.

      I definitely have a tendency to forget above emails I first viewed at a time when I cannot address them.

      I’m assiduous about work emails, but I have this problem with personal stuff (volunteering, church committees, etc).

    2. OP #1*

      Oh, I hadn’t thought about that. So far I haven’t had too many issues getting a response (unless I’m emailing other students) but if I run into that issue I will keep this in mind.

  55. Lilysparrow*

    OP#4, there’s been some interesting work on the psychology of persuasion that indicates people will accept what you say more readily if there appears to be a reason – even if that “reason” doesn’t actually have any content to it.

    My go-to non-reason is, “Sorry, that isn’t going to work for me.” Or “Sorry, I can’t help you with that.”

    You’ll notice that there’s no fake excuse or imaginary problem for them to solve. But the construction that sounds like a reason/excuse goes down a little easier than direct pushback would. It’s not foolproof, but it’s polite and avoids the problem of having to make up increasingly complicated or far-fetched excuses.

  56. Curiouser and Curiouser*

    Op #1 – The only thing to think about, on my end, is the volume of e-mails that people are getting. Because we are an international organization, I get 100+ e-mails overnight, many of which do not require my attention beyond a quick file, so often things that are sent late will get overlooked if I have a more pressing matter I get to first (since I generally go through my e-mail from most recently received downward). It’s a pet peeve I have with a manager in my department, who sends e-mails she expects to be responded to during business hours at midnight so they get buried in my inbox. I’ve adjusted to it, but it can be a struggle when you have a high volume inbox and other work to do!

  57. Falling Diphthong*

    Email: I checked with my daughter, now a graduate student, who a) has sent emails at 2 a.m., in undergrad and grad; b) is in an international research group, where making a thing about people not figuring out your time zone and preferred email reading times and timing all their outgoing emails to match that for everyone in the group would be especially cumbersome and weird.

    It’s always interesting what small issues rouse unexpected passions–I’ve been on both the “wait, who seriously cares about this” and “of course that’s important” sides on different issues.

  58. cmcinnyc*

    OP#4, is there some reason you can’t just say, “I’m sorry, I’m not comfortable with that.” I would find it really, really odd if a coworker asked me to stay with them while their boyfriend was away for a few days because they don’t like to be alone. I would do that for a close friend–but if it was a close friend, I’d already understand what the issue was and how she reacts and what those few days staying with her were going to be like *because we’re close.* NOT close to someone and stay with them for a few days in the depth of their weirdness? Gah! I’m sorry, I’m not comfortable with that!” Just say NO! It’s a freaking weird request! Say no and let her go ask someone else!

    (It *is* weird not to be comfortable spending a few days living alone, right? Maybe I’m the weird one–I’d love a few days to read at the dinner table and dance around the living room minus the husband and teen, much as I love them.)

    1. Kat*

      I don’t think it’s weird to be afraid or unnerved at being home alone. I have lived on my own before I got married. But one time soon after my husband and I (I’m a woman) bought a house, I did feel a little nervous one night he worked late and I was home alone. Double checked all the locks a couple of times. We lived in a condo before that and I realized people having to buzz up and walk past a security desk with 24-7 security pretty much eliminated any risk of a stranger coming to my door. I realized I no longer had that built in security.

      I never felt like that after that one night but it did happen. So I get someone might be nervous about being home alone. But asking a coworker? NO NO NO NO NO NO NO. Unless they’re your BFF, why would you ask them? Especially since you don’t even talk to them on a daily basis!

    2. Asenath*

      I’d say it’s more unusual than weird. I’ve met a few people who feel that way and heard of others, which makes me think it’s too common to be weird. I don’t entirely get it myself – I’ve lived alone most of my adult life, and like it that way, so much so that I chose to live alone instead of getting a roommate when that was a serious financial sacrifice for me. From my limited observations, people who don’t want to stay alone are either unfamiliar with doing so, having always lived with someone – family, room-mates, partner(s) – or they are nervous or anxious people. A friend of mine is both – she’s always lived with someone else, and she gets very anxious over certain things. She, of course, would tell you that I’m not anxious enough, am far too careless in my living and other arrangements! The asking for assistance from a mere work acquaintance is an imposition, likely to be seen as odd, and not a good way to deal with the problem.

      1. Gazebo Slayer*

        Yeah, I’ve lived alone for over a decade despite it being financially difficult for me, so I have trouble comprehending a fear of being alone for four days.

    3. Cog in the Machine*

      I’ve lived alone (with pets) for my entire adult life, so it seems somewhat odd to me. However, I can remember my mom putting things that were easily knocked over in front of the door when my dad was out of town. We had a large dog, and she’s not the anxious type. It was just a “this is different from the status quo” thing.
      I do think that coworker needs better boundaries, though. Asking someone you barely know to come over for a sleepover is strange, and best just shut down. It’s close friend/sibling/other close relative territory.

  59. Kate*

    Many of my colleague do a lot of international travel and work odd hours, and to mitigate the optics of sending late night emails, they’ve added a line to their email signature indicating that they don’t expect an immediate response if they send something at 3am. Maybe you could try something like, “Due to my schedule, I often catch up on emails late at night when it is convenient for me. Please note that I do not expect a response outside of normal business hours” or the like?

  60. CatMom*

    OP1 — I don’t think late-night emails are rude in this context, but if it will make you feel better, you can use an email-scheduling service like Boomerang! Boomerang is an extension for Gmail, but I’m sure there are others. The nature of my job makes it seem potentially a little unprofessional to send very late emails, and I use it all the time. I’ll write the email at 1AM or whenever, then schedule it to go out at 8AM.

  61. Stephanie*

    I correspond regularly with a freelancer who includes in her signature: My working day may not be your working day. Please do not feel obliged to reply to this email outside of your normal working hours.

  62. Karyn Smith*

    I live on the West Coast and was chewed out by the email recipient who lives on the East Coast. She expounded on how rude it was to email so late because I woke her up when her phone dinged. I responded with a thinly veiled insult “since you are older than I am, I’ll defer to you as to what is rude about email etiquette,” and completely disregarded her complaint. There are dozens and dozens of reasons people email late at night. It’s the recipient’s choice as to when to respond, and it is NOT the fault of the sender if the recipient is moronic enough not to turn off her email notifications when she is sleeping.

    1. Close Bracket*

      She expounded on how rude it was to email so late because I woke her up when her phone dinged. I responded with a thinly veiled insult “since you are older than I am, I’ll defer to you as to what is rude about email etiquette,” and completely disregarded her complaint.

      OK, she was wrong, and so were you.

    2. Observer*

      Why do you think that addressing a rude comment with one that is both rude AND stupid is a good idea. That’s a seriously ridiculous way to handle the complaint.

    3. Avasarala*

      So the insult is that she is old? What’s wrong with being old?
      You responded to a weird complaint with an insult, are we supposed to sympathize with you?

  63. Mina*

    LW #1: As someone who worked at their college newspaper and would be up at terrible hours as well… I used an email scheduler. Gmail has one (hit the dropdown arrow next to the send button) and other email services have extensions for them like Boomerang. I was never worried about optics, but I found people tended to reply faster to am email hitting their inbox at 7 a.m.

  64. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

    OP #3: I saw your earlier comment about your boss being a “nice guy” and you know him better than I do; but in your position I would explore a bit as to whether it’s possible that management are keeping you sweet to aid with the possible transition to the outsourcing company, by promising to find you a different spot in the company if/when that happens?

    Having been through several outsourcing projects myself I would suggest you step up the job search (on the down low) actually. It may be that there is no “alternative position” in your company at the end of it – at which point you are then laid off and having to search with more urgency. It may be that your boss is such a “nice guy” he is also telling management (as well as you) what they want to hear. You are the best judge of this.

    You could propose a retention bonus to be paid on a successful transition and staying ‘x’ months after to support the transition.

    It makes a statement in itself that the company has basically said “oh hey OP3, we may or may not outsource your position and if we do we will need you to work all the hours to make sure it’s successful, but you don’t need to worry because if that happens we will definitely have a spot for you.”

    1. OP#3*

      Thank you, I had been taking them at their word but perhaps I should be aware that things may not work out as well as they’re currently spinning it. You’ve given me a lot to think about, I really appreciate it.

  65. Platypus Enthusiast*

    LW1, there are lots of reasons people email at night, and in academia, odd hours don’t necessarily raise eyebrows. My boss emails at strange times, and has absolutely made it clear that it’s when he thinks of something. He doesn’t expect anyone to keep the same hours. I’d also like to mention that if you do receive an email at say, 2 am, doesn’t mean you need to respond right away! If you don’t expect them to answer immediately, they probably aren’t expecting you to, either. Your student manager probably has some anxiety regarding professional norms, which is pretty common. The easiest way to handle it might be to just schedule the emails for standard working hours, like other commenters have suggested. Also, like others have suggested, maybe schedule them for times like 7 am- I’ve noticed that people are most responsive around this time because checking emails is part of their morning routine, and your email is probably one of the more recent ones they’ve gotten.

  66. Big Biscuit*

    I have had bosses who send e-mails after typical work hours and I think sometimes it’s just to show they are “working”. Most of the e-mails are not urgent. I actually resent them because I work hard from 7 am to 6 pm and don’t need to see political posturing at 9 pm when I’m relaxing with my family. I don’t do it to my direct reports. That being said, within the context described by the OP, I think it’s fine. It’s sort of like volunteer things I’ve done, I send out the e-mails when I can knowing that I will get a reply back when the recipient can. No big deal.

  67. Enginear*

    #2 I hate people like that. I’m an introvert so I rarely go out of my way to make a comment or suggestion but when I do get asked a question in an in-person meeting and the extrovert projects themselves into answering before I have a chance to even open my mouth, wtf am I supposed to do.

  68. DKA*

    Op #1- I work as an advisor and students, faculty, staff email me at all hours. It does not bother me. I only respond to emails during my normal work hours.

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