company is sending emails about diet and exercise, I accidentally sent a private email to my employee, and more

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

1. Company is sending us all email about diet and exercise

My company includes an on-site fitness center, and all the employees receive periodic emails from the fitness staff. There’s one kind of message a particular staff person frequently sends that bothers me a lot — talking about food and exercise in a really negative, kind of accusatory way that tends to moralize “good” vs “bad” choices (one of my major pet peeves) and reminds me of sayings like “a moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips.” For example, before Thanksgiving we all got an email listing exactly how many calories a serving of X food would contain, and exactly how much exercise of Y variety we would need to do to “burn it off.”

I see a lot of issues with sending these types of messages to people who haven’t intentionally opted into them. It’s not anybody else’s business how a colleague eats or exercises, the shaming tone is rude, and it could be really harmful to someone who has dealt with disordered eating or other serious body issues to get messages like this, especially at work. I always delete them immediately, but I’m also always irked for a bit afterward and think about whether I should address it. Do you think I’m overreacting? If not, do you have any suggestions for a professional way to raise my concerns?

Nope, you’re not overreacting. Those emails are inappropriate to send under your employer’s auspices, and you’re right that they could be damaging to someone struggling with disordered eating (or anyone just trying to exist in our weird food-shamey culture). Who to talk to depends on your company — it might be the person who manages the fitness center, or the internal person in charge of the fitness center contract, or someone in your HR department. When you do, you could say, “These emails promote an approach to diet and health that not everyone subscribes to and which seems awfully inappropriate to be sending under company auspices. This type of content is known to be actively harmful to people struggling with eating disorders, and it’s disturbing and off-putting to many others. At a minimum, I’d like a way to opt out of receiving the messages, but I’m hoping the company will reconsider sending them at all.”

2. I accidentally sent a highly personal medical email to someone who reports to me

I am currently on maternity leave and will return to work in a couple of months. While I’ve been out, I’ve emailed my team at work a few times with baby updates and replied to anyone personally saying hello, all from my personal email as I no longer have access to my work email.

Yesterday, I sent an unrelated and angry email about a very personal medical matter to a person on my team by accident. This person reports to me. The first three letters of her name in her email are the same three letters of the person I was trying to email instead, so you can see how I sent this by accident and this worker’s email was saved because of the above previous correspondence while I’ve been off.

It was only caught because the worker emailed me back acknowledging this wasn’t meant for her. I’m mortified. How can I save face? All I’ve done so far is email her back thanking her, apologizing, and stating that I trust her to keep this between us because of the personal nature. Is this all I can do and never speak of it again?

Yes! You handled it well. If she’s at all a decent person, she’ll understand that this kind of mistake happens and will keep it to herself. We’ve all been there with a misdirected email at some point or another, and most people are sympathetic when it happens.

You don’t need to take any further action; anything more would be belaboring the point and focusing her on it more. Assume you’ll both wipe it from your minds and never speak of it again.

3. Can I turn a thank-you for a positive review into a networking opportunity?

I work a job that is pretty much a back office type job. I also love networking in a low-key, informal sort of way. In addition, I do some volunteer work for a nonprofit where I can combine my love of networking and some of my back office skills. I really enjoy it.

I always try to give credit when credit is due no matter what area of life — personal, professional, volunteering. I don’t expect anything in return. I’m happy let someone know I appreciate the hard work they do. Recently, I posted on a restaurant’s survey what a great experience I had. They totally deserved a positive review — the service was superb, food was beyond delicious, restaurant was clean, we had a great time. Someone higher up in the restaurant emailed me personally to thank me for the review and wanted to give me a 5% off coupon on my next visit.

Is it rude when responding to do some low-key networking? I’m thinking along the lines of, “I volunteer at XYZ. Can I get your business card? Maybe in the future we can work at a fundraiser together. In addition, my office always has lunch meetings and I’d love to pass your card on to our meeting organizer.”

If you look at the overall picture, I posted a well-deserved positive review, they in turn give me a 5% discount, and then I’m putting them in an awkward position of “let’s network” in a thank you response. How should I go about networking while giving praise where it’s definitely due?

Don’t do it! It’s fine to note that you’ll suggest your office hold future lunches there (that’s business for them, which they’ll appreciate). But “maybe we can do a future fundraiser together” in this context will sound like “maybe you’ll donate free food to a future fundraiser for a group I work with” — which is a request restaurants get constantly, and will indeed put them in an awkward position when they were just trying to thank you for a nice review. It could even look like you wrote the nice review to set up a situation where you could ask that and they’d feel a higher level of obligation to you.

4. Using video on a call when no one else is

What are the norms for using video in a web-based meeting when the host uses an app that allows it? Today I am in one where only three people are sharing video and they all have their camera pointed at their ceiling or covered with paper! I turned my web cam on as I joined the meeting, because these types of meetings do sometimes have half the people on video. (I work in government and these are various meetings of people at different agencies, who know each other, to share best practices and ask questions.) Should I turn my video back off? I don’t mind if people see me when I take myself off mute to contribute to the discussion.

If no one else is using video, you can just say, “oops, didn’t realize this was voice-only” and turn your video back off.

In theory, you don’t have to — but if everyone else is off-camera, it’ll seem out-of-sync to stay on video yourself … maybe unless you’re doing a lot of presenting/talking during the call.

5. I just found voicemails a hiring manager left me back in July

I recently returned to the U.S. following the end of a seasonal position out of the country. During my employment at this temporary position (June – November), I applied for multiple jobs at locations throughout the U.S., but did not hear back from anyone. Or so I thought.

While I was out of the country, I did not have cell service, only wifi, so my voicemail accumulated a large number of spam messages during the months I was away. While clearing them out, I found two voicemails from the hiring manager for a very prestigious job in a great location asking me to interview. These voicemails were left in July, and I did not hear them until November.

Is it safe to assume that getting in touch to apologize and explain why I missed their calls is not the best idea? It’s likely that I’ll be applying for other positions with the same company in the near future, and I don’t want to have left a bad impression. The whole situation is frustrating, but there’s nothing to be done to fix the past now. (That being said, is it normal to call interviewees without any email contact? If I take another position out of the country in the future, I don’t want to make the same mistake twice.)

There’s no harm in doing that! It’s potentially useful for them to know you didn’t just ignore their calls in case you ever apply with them the future — and there’s even a chance you could hear, “Actually, we’re still interviewing for that job” or “We’re interviewing for something similar now.”

You should do this by email if you can, not a phone call — since this is really an FYI from you rather than something requiring conversation. Plus, if you call out of the blue, they probably won’t remember who you are, whereas with email they can easily look it up if they want.

It’s actually not at all uncommon for employers to call you to set up an interview without any email contact first. So yeah, you’d definitely want to check your voicemail if you’re out of the country during a future job search. (Using a service that will email you sound files of your messages is an easy way to do it.)

{ 495 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    Hi, all. We’re not going to debate health or diet here; it’s not the place for it. Please stick to work-related advice for the letter-writers! Other comments will be removed.

    1. Oryx*

      Thank you for always being an exception to the “never read the comments” advice when it comes to topics of diet and weight loss.

  2. Four lights*

    OP #1 Not just you, this isn’t good.
    It’s not just people with disorders either. I once worked in an office and my office mates were always talking about diets and exercise. It wasn’t in an unhealthy way, but it was demoralizing for me to be thinking about every day.

    Another point is, as has been said here before, is that what’s unhealthy for one person is healthy for another.

    1. Morning Flowers*

      Not to mention, even if someone *is* very focused on calories, dieting, and what have you, they often *still* don’t want to hear a damn thing about it at or from work. My current diet is insanely complicated and involves counting calories and various other arduous, time-intensive, labor-intensive stuff. When I’m working, I don’t want to hear one single word about it. I have to spend enough bandwidth on it when I’m not working! So even in the small percentage of people who might actively look at something like calorie counts, these emails are a bad idea.

      1. A.*

        Yes I work with this woman who was doing something called the cookie diet. She spent all summer lobbying me to join the cookie diet with her. it was very annoying and she would not take no for an answer. She kept sending me the link to purchase cookies, coming to tell me about her progress, and demanding to know I am was still not on it. It was really starting to drive me batty.

    2. AcademiaNut*

      Honestly, scoldy emails like that make me want to go out and eat a whole turkey. And I’ve got a pretty healthy relationship with food, and don’t actually enjoy overeating.

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        I had an ex-boyfriend once back when I was seventeen or eighteen who made a point of making a comment every time I ate something unhealthy – a cupcake, cookie, whatever. The relationship obviously didn’t last, but every time he said it to me I’d always eat the whole tray of cupcakes or the packet of cookies to make a point.

        1. Seifer*

          Friend of a friend had an ex-boyfriend like that too. She would make cookies or whatever and go to eat one and he’d be like, “you’re gonna go to the gym after that, right?” I was super happy when she dumped him and started dating one of my good friends, but I didn’t hear about this habit of her ex’s until way after the fact, otherwise I would’ve 100% punched him in the face.

        2. SheLooksFamiliar*

          I went out with a guy like that in high school. He took me on a date to McDonald’s for lunch, and watched every single French fry I ate. Finally he said, ‘You know, you just ate about 300 calories’ worth of fries. You better be careful or you’ll get fat, and then I’ll have to break up with you.’ I weighed 110 pounds at the time, and he called me Skinny Minnie up until then.

          I already had a bad relationship with food because my family used it to praise or punish, and definitely to control. I’m still ashamed that I didn’t have the strength of character to break up with him right then, but he was behaving like my parents…so that was ‘normal’ to me.

          1. Librarian of SHIELD*

            He took you on a date to a fast food place that’s well known for having very few healthy options and then shamed you for eating there? That’s like, inception level bad boyfriending.

        3. blink14*

          One of my relatives has become very critical of other people’s food choices (and it’s everyone, not just me). A few Thanksgivings ago, I was drinking some sparkling grape juice, which I love, and she commented on how much sugar was in each serving in a very demeaning way. I picked up the bottle, and poured the remainder, which was about half, into my glass and just stared at her while I did it. I then drank it all. HAH.

        4. TootsNYC*

          At one job, we got a new colleague from another coast who was supposed to “shape us up.” She was so focused on low-fat and low-cal eating that, she told us, her doctor wanted her to take a tablespoon of olive oil every day as if it was medicine, because she wasn’t getting enough fat in her diet and it showed in her health somehow.

          I got in the elevator with her coming back from picking up McDonald’s to eat at my desk, and she said to me, “Do you know McDonald’s soaks their fries in sugar water?” as if that should put me off eating them.
          But instead, former-food-magazine-employee me said, “Oh, that must be how they get the outsides so crispy then!” and the colleague who was with her said, “Ooh, now I want to go get some!”
          She was very frustrated with us.

          1. Curmudgeon in California*

            They sent somebody into your office to push you all to diet and exercise? Deliberately? As part of her job?

            I would probably have wallpapered the town with resumes to get away from that crap.

      2. Parenthetically*

        Yep same. I’ve often said that nothing makes me want to chug a Dr. Pepper and eat an entire bag of Skittles like someone telling me that sugar is bad for me.

        1. Elitist Semicolon*

          2 bags of Skittles is roughly 90% of the RDA for Vitamin C, thanks to the added ascorbic acid. Just offering that up.

      3. Curmudgeon in California*

        That tends to be my reaction as well, but I also have some disordered eating issues. The very discussion of “how many calories in X” is enough to trigger a craving for “unhealthy” food. It’s like Pavlovian conditioning – diet shaming => comfort eating.

        My workplace wellness fortunately doesn’t do too much of that, and I usually just delete the emails unread. I am not willing to give them my lab numbers for “coaching” anyway. Too much invasion of privacy.

    3. AnonForNow*

      And I find those posts about how many sit ups you have to do to work off a serving of stuffing particularly obnoxious. Like, the point of exercising is not to get rid of every calorie you ingested, and a lot of my managing of my eating disorder involved dissociating exercise (makes me feel good, makes me strong) from food. And eating a big holiday meal once a year is not an unhealthy thing, and hell even if you eat like it’s thanksgiving every day that’s still nobody at works business.
      Beyond even the being upsetting to people dealing with disordered eating, id say those emails are spreading misinformation about health and fitness, which isn’t a good look.

      1. Lena Clare*

        Like, the point of exercising is not to get rid of every calorie you ingested

        Excellent point! I’m going to say this when it’s mentioned again in work.

        1. Zombeyonce*

          I have always had an unhealthy relationship with food and exercise and this point just made me figure out why. Reading it made me realize that I’ve never considered exercise as anything but a punishment for eating badly. No wonder I hate it.

          Thanks, AnonForNow*, I think you may have just changed my life.

          1. TootsNYC*

            Exercise gives your big muscles a chance to play; it lets your joints move around; it gives you practice in movement and makes you stronger, more flexible.
            It adds strength and flexibility and comfort.

            I once told a cousin who was complaining about not being motivated to go to yoga class, “Think about how you feel after you’re done–where is the time that you feel proud of yourself for having done the exercises, and your muscles feel tired in a good way? Focus on that feeling when you say “I have to go to class,” not on the feeling about four exercises in.”

          2. Third or Nothing!*

            I wish we could work out together! I used to feel the same way until a few years ago. Then I discovered the joy of running (and running clubs) and I’ve never looked back. There’s nothing quite like the sense of pride and accomplishment when you cross the finish line after a difficult race.

            1. Zombeyonce*

              I’ve tried a million different exercises and hated absolutely everything (especially running) except swimming and sometimes yoga, but pools are hard to come by around here. I have a lot of joint issues that cause pain doing anything with impact and get migraines from strenuous exercise, so it’s always been pretty punishing for me. But this isn’t the place for me to complain about sports, so I’ll leave it off.

          3. Meepmeep*

            I hate exercising, but the reason I do it is because it feels so nice to be strong. I do weight training, and it’s great to be able to lift heavy things without straining.

            Also, I noticed that when I lift weights regularly, I feel happier and more energetic.

            I still hate exercise, but the above two effects are enough to keep me doing it.

      2. Desperately seeking cute kitty*

        ALL OF THIS. I go to a dietitian who has worked with Olympic athletes and not one word of that kind of micromanagement has ever left his mouth in my consultations with him. And even those consultations are the result of me CHOOSING to visit a dietitian and doing MY OWN research about who I wanted to see. Hell no way are those posts OK.

      3. Sandra*

        Your work feels like it’s their business if they provide health insurance. They can get discounts for wellness initiatives, getting employees to lose weight, quit smoking, etc. I really wouldn’t fault them for trying to save money, even if their methods are a little dated. It’s work: focus on your job and ignore it.

        1. Hungry*

          The employer I work for is self-insured and makes a big investment in employee health to cut costs. Free on-site gym, constant seminars on nutrition, and weekly emails urging us to join various exercise groups. It’s obnoxious, but I think most of us just ignore it.

        2. Fikly*

          There’s a difference between methods that are a little dated and can cause harm. They have a responsibility not to harm their employees, just like everyone else has a responsibility not to harm people.

          If they want healthier employees, they can pursue initiatives that are less likely to drive their mental healthcare costs up.

          1. Sparrow*

            I agree with this. And it sounds like they also send other, less-grating emails so perhaps they already have a middle ground of “dated but not harmful” messaging that they could stick to.

          2. Not So NewReader*

            Here’s something they don’t want to talk about- “Consider how, you, Mr/Ms Employer are driving up health care costs with your micromanaging, 60 plus hour weeks followed with a heavy dose of your consistent INgratitude and lack of appreciation.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Sorry, OP, not an actionable thing here.

              However you could suggest policies that would allow people time to do the healthy thing of their choice. Just recently a retailer here “discovered” that people are healthier if they work the same shifts or very similar shifts each week. TPTB were the only ones surprised by this news. Previously this employer “followed the law” which said there had to be 8 hours between shifts. If it took 2 hours to get home and then 2 hours to get back to work because of snow, OH WELL, you had your 8 hours between shifts. As if 4 hours was enough time to get fully rested and cook a nutritious dinner and breakfast then prepare a nutritious lunch to carry to work.

              (Ironic. These are the same folks that sent people around to examine employee’s lunches. I thought, “Com ‘on! Let’s do this!” So of course, my lunch never got checked because I was so ready for this.)

              1. Pomona Sprout*

                There are employers who send people around to check what employees bring for lunch? No effing way! I’m so glad I’ve never run into that. What I have for lunch is nobody else’s freaking business.

        3. Crivens!*

          And this is exactly why it’s horrible and immoral to have our healthcare tied to our jobs. I shouldn’t have to be shamed and monitored to save my employer money.

        4. fposte*

          This is an “intent isn’t magic” area. Just because they’re hoping to save money doesn’t mean they get a pass for doing a stupid and counterproductive thing.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            “I don’t know what’s wrong here. We sent them multiple emails to eat right and no one lost any weight.
            I can’t understand why.”/snark

        5. Librarian of SHIELD*

          We all have to make choices every day between what could save us money and what is a kind and ethical way to treat other people. It would save me money if I bought things from Big Online Retailer that sells everything at a serious markdown, but is it worth saving that money if I know Big Online Retailer treats their staff terribly and doesn’t compensate them adequately for their work, and giving them more money enables them to treat more people poorly? Businesses can do that moral math as well. It is worth *potentially* saving a little money on employee health benefits if we have to treat people poorly to do it? It’s not a foregone conclusion, and it’s not a thing businesses HAVE to do to stay solvent.

          1. Observer*

            When what you are doing is not even likely to save you money it makes it even worse. These emails are NOT going to drive healthcare costs down. And for the purposes of what the insurer charges, they are NOT requiring these particular emails – to the extent they want to see stuff like this any reasonably health related – and there are even reasonable food and diet related things that could go out that are FAR less problematic.

            Also, all of this SHOULD be opt in.

        6. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          They are not just dated, they are also a little dumb and doesn’t necessarily even help with costs. People that exercise more may have better cardiovascular function, but let me (and all my sports injuries) tell you, we can be expensive to insure. In the past 5 years I have had:

          Hip surgery to file off a little bone spur that flared up because I switched from half marathons to full
          2nd hip surgery to file more off because the first wasn’t done quite right
          Physical therapy for a knee injury thanks to hip injury throwing me off
          Physical therapy for my hip that wasn’t operated on because my balance was off
          Fixed a broken jaw because I am hella clumsy and tripped over my own feet and chin planted on

          I guarantee I am more expensive than many of my sedentary colleagues. And I am only in my 40s. My future employers are probably going to be paying for even more.

        7. Schnookums Von Fancypants*

          “Your work feels like it’s their business if they provide health insurance.”

          And yet it damn well isn’t.

          ” I really wouldn’t fault them for trying to save money, even if their methods are a little dated. It’s work: focus on your job and ignore it.”

          Ooh, it’s amazing how many other things this can apply to as well! Job pays women less then men? well it’s methods are a little dated, but I wouldn’t fault them for trying to save money! Just ignore it! Pays blacks less then whites? Dated saving money no fault arglebargle! Just focus on your job!

        8. Observer*

          Sorry, you CAN fault a company for using methods that are at BEST useless and at worst actively harmful because they are disseminating very bad advice even for people who are not struggling with disordered eating.

          Sure, it’s work – so the employer should focus on providing a work environment that is conducive to good health and productivity and, for their purposes of cutting health care / insurance costs, tools that enable people to make the best health choices that they can. And stay out of the minutia of what people do in their off time.

        9. AllTheNope*

          Did you miss the part where these emails are from the employer, at work, while working? That makes these emails part of the job, so kinda hard to ignore.

        10. Socrates Johnson*

          Do you know what also was a big drag on my company’s health insurance? The $60k I racked up by having to go away to an eating disorder treatment facility.

        11. Shadowbelle*

          There are lots of health-related things that could potentially save employers money in terms of health care costs. For example*, some studies suggest that married men live longer than unmarried men, and that people in religious communities have better mental health. Does that mean that the employer gets to send emails urging single men to get married, and urging everyone to join some religious community?
          *I’m not commenting on whether these studies are accurate. Recent studies also say that those wellness initiatives don’t improve wellness, we’re already hip-deep in hypotheticals.

        12. Mia*

          There’s a difference between “dated” and something that poses direct harm to the mental well-being of your staff though. Moralizing about food and constantly encouraging restriction is a really good way to trigger an ED relapse. And that’s not really something people struggling with disordered eating can just “ignore.”

        13. Glitsy Gus*

          My office had a similar thing that came through our HR department as “Wellness Messages” from our Health insurance, so yeah, you may end up being told it is part of that and they need to do it in order to keep the deal they have going.

          I just set up an Outlook rule that forwarded all those messages into a folder that I could just mass delete once a month or so. If someone asked me if i was participating in the annual “Step Challenge” I’d just say, “no, not this year” and then change the subject. It worked out well, there weren’t enough people who cared enough for anyone to question me further about any of it.

      4. Parenthetically*

        Yep, obsessing about calories in food and how much exercise it would take to burn those calories off (in addition to being insanely unscientific — calorie counts in food are notoriously inaccurate, human bodies are not calorimeters, etc.) is itself a disordered eating behavior!

        1. Triple double*

          It’s not necessarily disordered, it could be healthy if a person is not obsessing. However, the calories you burn from a specific exercise are different for each person – how much you burn depends on your height, weight, muscle mass, gender, practice and of course, intensity. A tall heavy man will burn a snickers bar much faster than a short skinny woman.

            1. Triple double*

              Depends on what you mean by obsessing. Some people might think that regular old calorie counting, weighing your food and tracking your workouts is obsessive when it’s perfectly normal and healthy.

      5. Semprini!*

        Yeah, that’s what I came to post. It could lead uninformed people to think “Oh dear, the email says I’d have to run for an hour to burn off the number of calories I ate in my perfectly reasonable lunch. I don’t have any more time to work out today, so I’d better not eat anything else!”, completely unaware of the fact that we burn calories for our base metabolism and everyday life.

        Meanwhile, knowledgeable people can figure out for themselves how much they need to work out based on their actual bodies and actual circumstances.

        It could very easily mislead uninformed people into dangerous behaviour, while adding no value whatsoever for people who are knowledgeable enough not to be misled.

      6. Curmudgeon in California*

        > Like, the point of exercising is not to get rid of every calorie you ingested, and a lot of my managing of my eating disorder involved dissociating exercise (makes me feel good, makes me strong) from food.

        This is a really good point. I avoid exercise as a weight loss method because it only causes me pain. Yet I need to do some to keep my (already limited) mobility. I just need to do better about breaking the mental connection when half the ads I see and every fitness app ties them one to the other like they were twins.

        1. PlainJane*

          Until about a year ago, I’d never been able to stick to an exercise program, because I’d start one only to lose weight. Then exercise felt like punishment or, at best, a way to fix what was wrong with me. The last time I committed to an exercise routine, it was to help me feel better physically and to lay the groundwork for healthy aging. In other words, it was a gift to my present and future self (yeah, I know – sounds hokey), something I do because I value myself. That has made all the difference. I still don’t enjoy going to the gym, but I do it regularly, because I’m worth it.

    4. Engineer Girl*

      exactly how much exercise of Y variety we would need to do to “burn it off.”

      Of course this is very inaccurate as different metabolisms will required different amounts of time to burn something off.

      This is right up there with “calories in Vs calories out” that the self righteous like to quote. It totally ignores what it takes to burn those calories.

      Different people need different diets. Different people need different exercise based on how they are built.

      These simplistic tropes are ridiculous and can be very frustrating. It’s like telling someone to “study harder” to get smarter.

      1. EvilQueenRegina*

        Makes me think of the letter from the guy who was being bugged by the company dietician, he had his own plan worked out with his own professional and this woman kept suggesting things that wouldn’t work for him!

      2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        The best answer I’ve found for the “calories in vs calories out” argument is “that’s like saying the key to driving is brake to stop and gas to go.” You’re not, in the big picture, incorrect that those are a very important thing to look at and how they work, but at the same time, you’re so very wrong

        1. Oryx*

          Oh I love this. I hate the calories in v calories out narrative because it so drastically simplifies something that is, in fact, incredibly complex when we get down to it.

    5. Lena Clare*

      Yes, I hate the whole “I’m trying to be good” mindset when colleagues discuss it in work – and it also goes on far too much for my liking. Also, imo, separating food into good and bad is really damaging and unhealthy.

      1. Rebecca*

        If I hear the good or bad word bandied about with regard to food, I always say, there are no good or bad foods, just foods. And people are not good or bad because they eat or don’t eat something. I have some coworkers who are obsessed with clean eating, too. That gets tiresome as well.

        1. Anonymous at a University*

          And these people turn out to be hypocrites so much of the time. I have one colleague who’s always posturing self-righteously about how she only eats organic, prepared-from-local-ingredients meals that she cooks herself, and the doughnuts or candy or pizza that sometimes other faculty bring in are bad, bad, bad and no one should be eating them. Then she walks by my office with a plate of four doughnuts.

          1. Parenthetically*

            I try to look at it less as hypocrisy and more as “this is what obsessive restriction drives people to do.” There’s a lot of strong evidence that the foods people restrict as bad/naughty are the very ones they feel most compelled to eat, especially if they’re running a severe calorie deficit (i.e. malnourishing themselves) — of course a person whose body is crying out for MORE ENERGY is going to crave quick sources of energy!

            I had a roommate who was either a raw vegan or on a juice cleanse, or she was hiding empty pizza boxes and Dairy Queen bags in the trash. I look back now and realize she almost definitely had an eating disorder.

            1. Mia*

              Yeah, not to get too tmi, but I’ve struggled with bulimia for a long time and that sounds like a pretty classic restrict-to-binge cycle to me.

            2. Anonymous at a University*

              I mostly get irritated because she has, in fact, been told by other people to stop saying things like this (and one person who gives not a damn outright told her, “Yeah, I’ll stop eating doughnuts when you stop sneaking them,”) but she still keeps going and presents herself as the “good one.” I haven’t said anything to her and I won’t, and I think she might have a disordered relationship with eating. But it’s frickin’ annoying to be continually told, “I’M a shining star, I eat healthy, have you ever thought about all the ways that eating bad food contributes to global warming?” and then watch her do it too.

        2. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          In my book, the only bad foods are the ones that taste bad or give you an enteric illness

          1. Curmudgeon in California*

            This is cool.

            For me, bad foods are those which are spoiled, trigger my IBS, give me an allergic reaction, or taste bad. Even then, they are only bad for me. My wife has different restrictions due to different health issues, but it’s the same thing.

            It’s a “bad” food if eating it makes me feel bad/sick.

        3. AllTheNope*

          I have an evangelical coworker who relates to certain foods as wicked, bad and something to lust for. Not the healthiest mindset.

          1. Parenthetically*

            There are ENTIRE “Christian” diet programs that are BUILT on this. I have been so close to going on a rant about how the sin of gluttony in the scriptures has NOTHING TO DO WITH OVEREATING and everything to do with hoarding resources at the expense of the poor. Eating an extra piece of pie and pouring tons of gravy on your holiday dinner is only gluttonous if you’re keeping another person from being fed.

      2. MOAS*

        I’m guilty of using that, but only for myself:
        For me, being diabetic, a “bad” food would be chips cakes anything carb heavy/sweet but meat is OK. Whereas my friend with cholesterol issues will avoid eating things like steak. So I agree with most of the comments here saying that everyone has different needs and none of this should be pushed by the company.

        (On a side note, my HR is the one pushing “healthy” activities soooo idk)

        1. Lehigh*

          I think it’s okay to use in context of one’s own health situation, although in public it’s fair to be aware that others may not understand what you’re saying.

          I have gestational diabetes currently, and have started using, “No, I’d better be good,” to decline foods or portions that will cause my blood sugar to spike. In my case, I can generally control my blood sugar by walking after a meal but if I don’t have time for that I need to “be good” with my food choices instead. I think in cases where you know specifically what is “good behavior” per your doctor, it makes sense.

        2. Mia*

          I think there’s a difference between saying something is “bad” as in “this food will harm my health or make me feel sick” vs “bad” as in “ohh I’m being bad and having a treat.”

          1. Elitist Semicolon*

            There may be a difference to the person saying it, but not necessarily to the coworker who has just taken a big bite of the thing the speaker is “being good” by avoiding. Chances are that person doesn’t want to hear about the speaker’s pancreatitis; they just want to eat their food without anyone else commenting on the behavior or moral value of the item and the consumption thereof. That the speaker claims to be only referring to their own behavior doesn’t change its effect on others.

      3. Coder von Frankenstein*

        Damn straight. One of the most important things I did when losing weight was identify the things I really wanted, and make sure I left room for them in my calorie budget. (In my case, that mostly meant pasta and cheese, and learning to drink black coffee so I didn’t have to cut back on caffeine.)

        It worked because I regarded it as a technical problem and set about solving it in that way: I want to limit the number of calories I consume to X, how can I accomplish this with minimal discomfort? Bringing sin and guilt and moralizing into the process is a great way to a) mess up your relationship with food, b) make yourself miserable, and c) fail to accomplish what you want to accomplish.

      4. Filosofickle*

        I’m working so hard on this! A lifetime of thinking of food as good/bad has really messed with my head.

    6. JayNay*

      What the what to “we all got an email listing exactly how many calories a serving of X food would contain, and exactly how much exercise of Y variety we would need to do to “burn it off.”
      That messages makes my skin crawl. It’s exactly this type of thinking that makes people slide into eating disorders. How incredibly shamey to send this right before people are setting off to Thanksgiving to consume exactly those foods.
      Good on the OP for recognizing this and pushing back.

      1. londonedit*

        Every year at least one newspaper here will do a piece about how the average person eats 12,000 calories on Christmas Day (or whatever it is) with a list of all the things you’d have to do to ‘burn it off’. I always seriously roll my eyes whenever I see something like that, let alone if I got an email at work advising me that my Christmas dinner was probably going to be quite large and I should probably do some running to make up for it. Bugger off and pass the roast potatoes.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        As I am reading, I am thinking how I would want to type back, “So x minus y equals zero. I don’t think you want us having zero fuel in us while we are at work, but it looks like you want us to zero out everything.”

    7. Quickbeam*

      Also, as someone with a congenital mobility impairment, when I get corporate e-mails telling me to bike to work or run a mile, I feel like they just don’t care. Thanks a heap for urging me to do something I’d love to do and now I feel bad all over again.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        I want to tell them to pay me enough that I can live within a bikeable distance of work, in an area where it’s safe to run in the evening.

        (My job is in a large city. This would basically mean they’d have to double my wages.)

      2. AlexandrinaVictoria*

        THANK YOU! No, I can’t join your Walk for Heart Disease, I’m disabled. How about do something I CAN do. Geez.

      3. Curmudgeon in California*

        Oh, I feel you. I have hemiplegia from a stroke, and I literally can’t run or ride a bike. So the exhortations to have a “healthy” commute by biking and walking are like salt in an open wound, and any sort of “easy” exercise they suggest is literally impossible.

      4. learnedthehardway*

        I did some work for a company once that used to differentially price the snacks in their cafeteria by how healthy they were, and that used to bonus people based on physical activity (not only that, but it was a factor in their comp program).

        That was just the tip of their particular cultural weirdness.

    8. Cookie Captain*

      I think my first step would be to just respond to the email itself. You don’t need to feel ashamed or unreasonably demanding to directly ask for it to stop.

      “This kind of language can be useful for people who choose to opt in to “tough love” communications about nutrition and exercise, but it’s not really appropriate for an email that goes out to the entire office. Several coworkers I’ve talked to agree. Could I request that staff-wide emails remain purely informative about the fitness center’s offerings?”

    9. CheeryO*

      I hate office food talk, I hate thinking about calories (I had an ED as a teenager and obsessively tracked my calories and binge exercised to try to burn off anything over X amount). I hate the idea of getting shamey fitness emails at work. Like, I would LOVE to take an hour out of my day to go exercise, but I’m not offered that kind of flexibility, so I’m stuck doing it in the wee hours or after work when I’m super tired and things are bound to come up.

    10. Quill*

      Talking about dieting at work is very much a no-go zone for polite conversation. I mean, it’s one thing to be party to a conversation about “oh my god, I substituted zucchini for pasta, I never knew I could love zucchini so much!” as small talk, and another to hear about people’s specific weight loss goals all the time. Work absolutely should NOT include, under any program, any discussion of weight, and you should always be able to opt out of workplace spam from things like an onsite fitness center.

      1. Triple double*

        I don’t see why you can’t discuss food and diets at work. My coworkers always comment on my healthy snacks and we like to discuss food. We playfully comment on all the temptations in the office. It’s all in good spirit and some coworkers have even started eating more fruit at work because they see others doing it.

        1. Blueberry*

          Meanwhile the plump coworker ends up crying in the bathroom three times a week because people keep telling her about every weight loss tip they hear about and critiquing her lunches in “good fun”.

          1. Triple double*

            Nope, only discussing this with people who are into it. My plump coworker is the one who tells me about her diet and how she’s been steadily losing weight, she’s actually not that plump anymore.

    11. CG*

      My team was recently moved to a different location temporarily because of construction at our main office. There used to be a cafe there, which has since closed, so they’ve been arranging food trucks to come so that people have somewhere to eat (the temp location was in a much more remote area of town than our normal offices). In response to the list of food trucks that will be coming, a “helpful” coworker pointed out that there are Weight Watchers meetings at the temp location as well and that we get a discount through our employer. I felt it was completely inappropriate. Thankfully it wasn’t coming from the organization itself, but generally speaking, I feel like just not commenting on your coworkers’ weight/eating habits/appearance is probably the side to err on!!

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I think the WW professional should talk to the food truck person and hammer it out between themselves. I mean if the available food is what is on the truck, guess what people are probably going to eat.

  3. Heidi*

    The theme of this post seems to be the perils of communication technology. I frequently attend online meetings and for awhile it seemed that more people were using video, but more recently they seem to be falling out of favor (is it because they can be hacked and people can spy on you?). One person setting up such a meeting told me that people like seeing each other’s faces, but I find it disconcerting because people are never looking at the camera because they’re reading the content on the screen.

    1. Mookie*

      I think, with respect to video v voice-only discussions, that it does come down to preferences, precedent, and different communication styles. Because I am a frumpy, sort of comically nervous person in certain social situations, I’ve compensated for the chaotic facial expressions with a clear, confident voice, and I sound a lot more put together than I look. I hate the phone, but I’m better on it or in person. The video me is a train wreck, but I actually prefer it because I’m slightly hard of hearing and use closed captions whenever possible. Absent those, I like seeing out of the corner of my eye the people I’m talking to in a little box at the edge of my desktop; I expect most people get used to seeing faces that, as you describe, aren’t looking back at them. For those who are orally monotone or lack affect but are quite physically expressive, video seems to help others understand them and learn their tics and tells, similar to picking up on a person’s writing style and learning to read between the lines of an e-mail from a specific colleague.

      As you say, all of these are fraught with their own pitfalls.

    2. cat socks*

      I put a piece of paper over the camera on my laptop in case it accidentally starts while I’m on a call. At my company we use Skype and Zoom, both of which have video capability.

      I find when I’m on the phone, I tend to close my eyes when I’m speaking about something at length. For some reason it helps me concentrate. I don’t do it in person though.

      1. Jamie*

        I put a hello kitty band-aid over my camera. Serves the same purpose.

        If not screen sharing for data, I have no idea why people like cameras for calls. It’s not the same as being face to face and I don’t need to look at someone making eye contact with a camera to have a conversation.

        1. Lynn Whitehat*

          I lead a lot of calls for work. I prefer to be able to see people so I can judge their reactions to things. Do they understand what is being said, or are they confused? Are they paying attention or checked out? Do they have enough focus to get into a complex issue? How about a simple one? I won’t fight someone who doesn’t want to turn it on. But I prefer when people do.

        2. Cold Feet*

          I found stickers that say things like “Big Cheese” or “Hot Shot” that my staff and I use them to cover our cameras. :) Funny anecdote: we were on a division webex (about 80 people) and one of the division controller forgot her camera was live. She was working from home that day, in her kitchen, in her PJs. Finally someone took pity on her and skyped her separately to tell her that her camera was live. Last time I saw her she had a new sticker over the camera.

    3. No Tribble At All*

      I call into skype meetings a lot for work, and we very rarely use a camera unless it’s multiple people in a meeting room. One reason is that I might not need to be there for the entire meeting. I’ll work on something else until I hear a topic that’s relevant to me, so I keep my camera off so people don’t see me not paying attention. Also I get easily distracted looking at my reflection, like a parakeet. If there are multiple people in a conference room, we use the camera so other people can tell who’s speaking. If you’ve called individually, skype shows your name when you talk.

    4. BethDH*

      I really like having some visual reminder of who is “present” at the meeting. Those is especially true when some people are in the room together and others are remote. I’ve found that when I’m the remote one, people will sometimes forget I’m there and then be startled when I speak up, and I have the same problem if I’m one of the ones in the “main” room and others are remote.
      An avatar works fine for this so it doesn’t have to be video, but it does seem to help to have that visual.

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

      My office has only one person (Carmen) in a different location — the rest of us are all in the main office. Video has come in handy. Once we were having a video meeting and apparently the microphone for Carmen wasn’t working. She could hear and see us and we could see her but not hear her. At first we just thought she was listening rather than speaking, but soon she started waving her arms to get attention and holding up paper signs. After a few unsuccessful attempts to solve the tech issue, including ending the connection and restarting, we just had a whole meeting with her writing out her responses on paper and holding them up to the camera.

  4. Ludo*

    2-the good news is this wasn’t the all too common scenario of accidentally emailing someone with information or rude things about THAT person

    Since the email had nothing to do with her she’s probably already forgotten about it!

      1. Anonomoose*

        I get a lot of these, as I’m tech support (so often show up early in a list) with a very common first name. My response has always been “nope, I don’t want to know anything about your medical details/performance review/mortgage refusal, I will delete this as soon as I know it’s not for me” -definitely go with Alison’s advice, the quicker you drop it, the sooner it gets forgotten about

      2. kittymommy*

        Yeah, especially since she sent the “got the wrong person” email back. I know I’ve done that and the person is always from the stance that once they knew it wasn’t for them they stopped reading and notified me asap.

      3. Librarian of SHIELD*

        This. I have the same first initial and last name as someone pretty high up in my city’s police department structure, and I’ve received a lot of emails I was definitely NOT supposed to see. But I never read farther than “oh, that was supposed to go to Jake, forward and delete now.”

      4. Not So NewReader*

        Yeah, there’s some stuff I know I am better off not knowing. I can work or interact better if I don’t have to know or deal with this stuff. There’s also a part of me that says, “There’s really nothing new under the sun.” There’s not too much out there that we haven’t seen or heard before. I can be as empathetic as all heck, but that does nothing to fix things.

    1. Ama*

      Yeah I have been on the wrong end of a couple of emails I wasn’t supposed to see and I tend to remember WHY I was on the wrong end more than what was in the email itself. I remember being sent an email in a professional context by someone who meant to contact another org with a similar name to my employer a few months ago (I also speak with this person frequently — she just mixed up who was the contact for which org). I’ve already forgotten what it was actually about.

    2. Jamie*

      absolutely – this is a no harm/no foul thing. I had two funny email mishaps over the years, oddly enough with the same coworker. One, I had accidentally sent him an email meant for my ex about child support being late again (they have the same name) and he just let me know I had either sent it to the wrong guy or he needed to be checked for amnesia for forgetting our marriage and children.

      The other one he sent to me intended for another parent on his son’s baseball team referencing the coach who happened to be my cousin, that I hadn’t seen or heard about in almost 20 years. Such a weird coincidence.

    3. JustaTech*

      As the recipient of several of these kinds of mis-directed emails in grad school, I’ll say that what I did was stop reading as soon as I realized it wasn’t for me and reply, “Oops, sorry, I think you meant to send this to TA [Name], not me your classmate [Name].”
      The only reason those were even slightly awkward was that the e-mails were pretty angry because that class was badly organized. I really wanted to say “I agree with you!”, but I didn’t want to make it awkward.

  5. Dot Warner*

    OP1, is there a way you can filter messages from the sender to your trash? It sounds like the person sending these things works for your employer’s fitness center, and if you don’t use the fitness center then you probably don’t need to get any emails from that person.

    (I realize that your goal is to stop these completely, but if the sender won’t do that, this would be a good Plan B.)

    1. London Calling*

      I have a rule for our social media messages that they go straight to deleted folder, so I can read them if and when I choose to, not when they intrude on my attention.

      1. Dot Warner*

        Really? I didn’t see that. But if they can opt out, then yeah, that’s probably their best bet.

      2. Harper the Other One*

        That’s the problem – they CAN’T opt out. All employees are receiving these emails whether they want them or not.

        But in any case I don’t think opting out is a great solution. It sounds like it’s one employee from the fitness centre sending those specific emails, but it’s quite possible there are others (notifications of new classes, registration info, etc.) that also come from the fitness centre that OP would not want to miss.

        Especially given that it’s only one employee sending the shame-y messages, I think that employee should be told this isn’t the message the centre wants to communicate.

        1. EPLawyer*

          It sounds to me, like it is not somone in the fitness center but just some employee who has decided its her job to police everyone’s diet. The fitness center and the company’s wellness program gives her cover to spread it.

          1. banzo_bean*

            Op states it’s fitness staff sending the emails

            My company includes an on-site fitness center, and all the employees receive periodic emails from the fitness staff.

            1. Cookie Captain*

              I’m guessing they all come from a single fitness center email address, and the LW just knows that a particular kind of message is the work of a single employee.

              1. OP1*

                OP1 here! The fitness center staff all have their own email addresses (they’re direct employees of my company), so we know which person is sending which messages.

          2. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

            Don’t forget, “a moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips.”

            This is so offensively funny. W T F.

            1. Sabina*

              My other “favorite”….”nothing tastes as good as skinny feels”. BS! Chips and guacamole taste like heaven and “skinny” feels like ….wait, I don’t know what skinny feels like….never mind…

              1. Observer*

                That one is particularly poisonous because it actually is not even RELATED to reality. For a lot of people skinny is actually NOT their healthy or comfortable weight. I’ll never be “skinny” and healthy at the same time. That’s actually true for a LOT of people. And a lot of people who COULD be skinny and healthy are actually skinny but NOT healthy. So that doesn’t “taste” or feel good at all.

                1. Parenthetically*

                  Yep. I could absolutely be skinny, if I ate fewer calories than my toddler and exercised obsessively. But I’d rather be healthy, thanks.

                2. Lehigh*

                  I suspect it is supposed to be the emotional feeling of social admiration, accomplishment or, less charitably, smugness–rather than the actual physical feelings associated with good health.

                3. Lehigh*

                  Ugh, now I am feeling guilty about my comment. I actually do agree that “physically healthy” is a really amazing feeling, far better and longer lasting than the taste of something that makes me feel unhealthy in the long run. It’s just that, as you point out, “healthy” and “skinny” are often two different things.

                  And, sadly, sometimes feeling healthy is just not achievable regardless of diet.

              2. Curmudgeon in California*

                “Skinny” feels like being tortured by food deprivation, hungry all the time, mind obsessed with food and when you can eat next, your hair falling out because of malnutrtion, etc. “Skinny” feels like catcalls when waiting for a bus because your superstructure sticks out past your stomach.

                I really hate that expression.

        1. Becca*

          Well, unless I’m misremembering it said they want people to have to specifically opt in, which is a little different a probably better for something potentially harmful like this.

          Whether it’s possible to opt out of these without opting out of all emails from the fitness center depends how they’ve set up their mailing lists, but the employees wouldn’t necessarily know without going to the opt out page, depending on how the opt out message is worded. Either way, I think opt in rather than putting the onus on those who find the emails uncomfortable or harmful to opt out would be better.

    2. How is it already Thursday?*

      Or if you’re interested in some of the fitness center emails, set up a filter that sends them all to a separate folder. Then you can click on the ones that interest you and ignore the rest. It doesn’t solve the whole problem, but can help keep the problem emails from disrupting your day while they decide how to handle your concerns.

    3. cat socks*

      That’s exactly what I was thinking. If there is no way to opt out, I would create a rule to automatically put the email in the deleted items or junk folder.

    4. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      I was going to suggest this. I would still talk to someone about stopping or changing them, but if you set up your own rule in Outlook you won’t even see them. Food shaming of any kind is 100% not okay – in addition to potentially being harmful, it’s obnoxious. It’s similar to why I won’t talk about religion or politics at work – you have your right to your beliefs but don’t try and convert me or make me feel guilty/shamed for not sharing them.

    5. Zombeyonce*

      I like this as a second step. My first step would be to reply to the email with an all-caps “UNSUBSCRIBE”. Passive-aggressive, sure, but satisfying.

  6. Diana*

    I use Zoom for meetings on a daily basis and I almost always leave my camera on, especially if I’m dealing with customers. Tbh, customers treat me better when I leave the camera on – I think because they remember I’m a real person and not just a disembodied voice. It also makes me comfortable knowing that I can communicate with facial expressions and gestures (and avoid issues of tone, etc). I also find it forces me to pay attention when I might otherwise zone out, haha.

    1. mourning mammoths*

      I do this too. A lot of my contacts have internet issues or work from home so they have reasons to limit their videos, but for me it’s important to be human and personal, for them to feel that there really is someone on the other end of our processes who is listening and caring about their issues.

    2. AcademiaNut*

      For me it depends on location and time. If I’m on a 6am or 11pm telecon from home, I keep the camera off, due to the lack of neutral background and the fact that I’ve changed into comfortable home clothing. If I take it at work, I put the camera on.

    3. Melly*

      I hold a ton of meetings via Zoom. The camera on/camera off thing is… not a huge issue to me, I guess? I mean that in, I don’t make judgments about someone based on whether they have their camera on or off. It’s generally a very light-hearted and/or simple logistics discussion depending on the group. Yesterday, I announced to the first three attendees (that I know well) that my camera was off because I hadn’t showered. Whereas the day before, I requested everyone on the call turn on their cameras if they could because one of the participants was new and hadn’t met anyone in person. I see people all the time start off with their camera on and turn it off once they see what the group is doing, and also see/have been the only one with the camera on. What I’m saying is, I don’t think it’s that big of a deal, and it’s even okay to request others use video if it’s your meeting (and you have the professional standing to do so).

      My favorite Zoom story though is the elected official who didn’t realize he had his camera on. I’m looking at the gallery view and he’s shirtless and I’m trying not to die. Minutes later his camera had something thrown over it and he returned with a shirt on. I never said a word.

        1. Filosofickle*

          The best tiny bit of swag I ever got is a little stick-on slider that covers my laptop camera. When you want it on, slide it open. The rest of the time, it’s closed and I’m safe.

      1. Turquoisecow*

        My husband used to almost always take calls with video off but his new boss likes to have the video on and stresses the importance of being able to see people and all that, so his internal meetings now have more people with video on.

        There’s often someone taking the call from the car or the airport or somewhere without video and they don’t get in trouble for it or anything like that, it’s just that the culture seems to have shifted a bit toward having video on. He was kind of skeptical of it at first but overall doesn’t mind it.

        The main issue for him is the cat. If he leaves the door closed to his home office, our one cat will sometimes sit outside and meow insistently in the background. If the door is open, sometimes the cat comes up to him while video is on and once he purred into the microphone. (People were amused, and it didn’t cause too much of a derail.) But the sound of a meowing cat in the background is annoying with or without video.

        1. Filosofickle*

          I resisted video SO MUCH at first. But I’ve come to love it, and I request it for all my meetings and presentations. I’m a consultant, and two of my biggest needs are reading people (esp what’s not being said) and creating strong trust/connections. If we aren’t in person, which we usually aren’t anymore, video is the next best thing.

          IME there are two types of holdouts — those who are truly camera shy, and those who are only half paying attention and don’t want to be seen multi-tasking. The first group can be reassured (over time) that there is no judgment on our end — we do not care about your unwashed hair or your messy background. The latter group is harder to wrangle but I’ve found if I can get them on video they will pay better attention, so that’s one more reason to try.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      My web meetings are peer meetings–customers would be different–and I think the camera on/off mix reflects personal preference and one’s computer settings being whatever they are and too much of a pain to jigger for each meeting.

  7. KatyO*

    1. If the emails are to the entire company, I’d say let it go. Set up a rule to automatically delete them, if you’re offended by them. Why take away something that others may find helpful just because you’re overly sensitive?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Because it’s inappropriate for a company to be sending these emails to staff in the first place; the company isn’t their doctor. It’s overstepping. It’s also unhealthy to talk about food choices in those terms (and counter to a lot of research about what is effective), and it’s damaging for people with eating disorders.

      This isn’t about being overly sensitive (and please read the commenting rules); this is about objecting to something that shouldn’t be happening.

    2. Lena Clare*

      OP never mentioned being offended (they are irked).
      You can object to something without being offended.

      As you why it shouldn’t be happening: the company are overstepping their professional boundaries. That’s a bit like saying, well, your colleague is sending out emails every day about how nice you look but even though you find it weird and inappropriate, your colleague means well so just delete the emails and ignore it!

      1. Dot Warner*

        Sending out these emails is probably part of this person’s job since they work at the fitness center. OP should certainly ask this person to change their tone, as they sound hella annoying, but getting them to stop completely may not be an option.

        1. JessaB*

          Then they need to have an opt in/opt out strategy. It’s a kind of advertising even if it’s for a service provided by the company. The advertising is harmful, people have a right not to see it.

        2. Lena Clare*

          I understand that. None of what I’m saying is incompatible with what you’re saying.
          There should be an opt out/ unsubscribe button – therefore those who want them, get them. Those who don’t, don’t. Person doing their job – still doing their job.

          1. Dot Warner*

            My apologies. You compared it to sexual harassment, which is a whole different ballgame.

            But yes, they should have an opt in/out option. Less email is always a good thing!

          2. Harper the Other One*

            I mentioned about, but I don’t think a global opt-out is a great solution. There’s only one employee from the fitness centre sending these kinds of messages. Why should OP have to miss messages from the fitness centre they may be interested in (new class prices, registration times, etc.) because one employee is using language which frankly is pretty frowned upon by all the good trainers I’ve run across? I think the company should be providing direction regarding the tone/content of these messages and tell that particular employee that they want outgoing messages to staff to be different.

            1. Doc in a Box*

              There should be a way to opt-out/out-in selectively based on the type of email. I subscribe to a number of academic journals for my work, and I have opted-in to the monthly table of contents summary emails, but opted-out of the “breaking news!” and “renew your subscription!” type.

        3. PollyQ*

          The person responsible for sending the emails may not have the authority to stop the emails entirely, but somebody does, and starting with the sender is a good way to start addressing the issue.

          1. Dot Warner*

            Sure, I understand that. I’m just saying it’s likely that OP will just get told, “Sorry, I can’t remove you from the list but feel free to block my email.” Which is crappy, but that’s kind of how it goes.

          2. Mookie*

            Which is why Alison suggests making an objection directly to the person or nearest person in charge. The e-mailer may not have the authority to re-evaluate this kind of messaging, but someone does and they should be given this necessary and constructive feedback. Outreach e-mails like this don’t have to be worded badly and full of poor public health science and outdated ideas that alienate and stigmatize rather inform and provide solicited guidance and support.

        4. Washi*

          They don’t need to stop sending emails completely! They just need to stop sending emails that assume everyone is constantly trying to lose weight. They can send fitness class updates or fun facts about kale all they want.

          1. Quill*

            Yeah. Personally, any excercise I do is intended to gain muscle and shore up my awful joints – losing any significant amount of weight would mean I’m doing it wrong. And constant talk about weight is proven to be bad for everyone’s mental health, as well as contributing to unscientific ideas about weight and health, and to as descrimination against fat people.

    3. Traffic_Spiral*

      Well, (and others have already mentioned this) it’s not helpful. Even if you’re looking for diet tips, random spammy “eat less candy” emails aren’t useful. I’m at work = my inbox is for work. I’m not interested in anyone’s tips on how to sun my arsehole or eat more celery.

    4. Buzz*

      It sounds like most messages from the fitness centre aren’t like this, but one staff member does send the unhelpful messages. It could be useful for the fitness centre to get this kind of feedback on how their messaging is being perceived.

      My workplace has an onsite gym, and their messages are usually just: special offers on membership, details on when people can book a physio appointment, any new classes that are being offered, and any special events (i.e. they recently offered blood pressure checks, if people wanted them). Nothing moralising about food or fitness, just awareness of what’s available.

    5. Wakeens Teapots LTD*

      Eh. I am not the biggest fan of our new-ish head of HR & feel compelled to monitor what she is sending out, at least loosely. I wish I could just auto delete.

      She fell for a “healthy snack machines” sales pitch & replaced our perfectly fine snack machines with machines that are anything BUT healthy (and overpriced). (Our previous vendor had a wide mix of choices, all affordable at vending machine rates. The new vendor has a bunch of crap, overpriced, and the “healthy” stuff is insane. No, we are not paying $4 for a small “smoothie” bottle with 400 calories and a million grams of sugar thank you.)

      I digress. Point being, she doesn’t understand what is actually healthy and falls for stuff and passes email newsletters along as if they come from the company. It hasn’t crossed the line where I whip out my personal capital to crush it yet, but it might. So I am stuck scanning them.

      (the vending machines WILL be crushed. The only reason I haven’t crushed them yet is that then I would be stuck offering an alternative & no time for that atm)

      1. Lora*

        I worked at a company that actually did this pretty OK: snacks were free in the break room for anyone to take, but they were almost all healthy snacks: fruit, edamame, low sugar oatmeal packets, etc. Lunch was free, served in the cafeteria daily, but it was almost always pretty healthy: salad, veggie sides, vegetarian options, not a lot of meat, and Friday only was pizza day. The most popular lunches were sushi and a noodle bowl thing that was very veggie-heavy but had a wonderful ginger peanut sauce we loved. There was no pressure to do anything in particular or eat any kinda way at home, but everyone worked really long hours and just ate what was there, and what was there was very healthy. They offered discount gym memberships, and once a month a schedule of introductory classes free to employees was posted. So you knew things were available to you in the same way that you knew hey, the open enrollment for insurance is coming up, there’s an all hands meeting next week, we just closed another round of funding, sort of thing – as part of a general newsletter – but it wasn’t in your face.

          1. Lora*

            Place was a total trainwreck in other ways…at this point I have come to see such things as a warning sign that they feel compelled to make these offerings to compensate for the fact that management is a sh!tshow and they don’t have actual products worth anything.

      2. JustaTech*

        A friend of mine form the PNW told me that when he was in high school (90’s) they had an apple vending machine. And I have wanted one ever since.

        He said it was cheap ($0.40?) and the apples were good (because this is where apples come from) and even in high school when all I wanted was junk food I would have loved to have the option of an apple.
        Why can’t we have apples *and* chips?

    6. Parenthetically*

      “if you’re offended by them”

      Can we please stop framing the promotion of disordered eating behaviors as solely problematic if people are “offended” by them? This is absolutely not about OP’s emotions. Encouraging people to obsess over calories and to see exercise as a tool primarily for burning off the food we have to consume to run our bodies IS encouraging disordered behavior, and causing direct harm to people living with eating disorders.

      1. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*


        The ‘offense’ is not just about the OP’s feelings (though those are valid) but also about right and wrong. it’s about the company’s role in health (which is debateable) but, if we accept the company has some role, also about the fitness team literally doing their job badly, in ways that undermine health.

      2. yala*

        I’ve noticed that “offended” is just the buzzword folks need to dismiss someone’s legitimate concerns most of the time.

        1. Curmudgeon in California*

          This. I may or may not be “offended” by something, but I can still assert that it is wrong in the context.

          EG: A religious sermon may not offend me, but it is not appropriate in a professional context. (IMO, diet is akin to religion – personal, variable, not the same for everyone, invokes deep passions, and not appropriate in workplace communication.)

      3. Third or Nothing!*

        Also promoting an approach to exercise that doesn’t actually make people want to keep at it long term. Exercise is not a punishment. I run and lift for the joy of it, not to make myself smaller.

        1. Parenthetically*

          Yes! I’ve spent about a year basically not exercising for lots of reasons, including trying to shift my mindset to one of “movement actually makes me FEEL GOOD and I enjoy it when I do it, and it’s excellent for my longevity and mental health” and away from “I need to shrink myself to fit a societal standard.”

          1. Third or Nothing!*

            IDK if it would be helpful for you or not, but I absolutely love the phrase “my body is an instrument, not an ornament.” Basically, we are so much more than objects to be viewed by others; we have agency. It’s such a beautiful thing to finish a hard run and think “HECK YES I AM A FANTASTIC BEAST LOOK WHAT I CAN ACCOMPLISH!!” instead of “now I can forgive myself for eating that cookie.”

    7. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      She never said she was offended and she’s not being “overly sensitive. The emails cross a line. It’s not my company’s business what I choose to eat, and it’s inappropriate to shame people into eating healthier. If they want to promote the fitness center as a perk that the company offers that’s one thing, but trying to tell people what to eat is 100% not okay.

    8. Cookie Captain*

      If something is only mildly annoying to me, but I know it might be genuinely harmful to other people, even if it would be relatively easy for me to ignore I am very much going to want that thing to stop happening.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        The quickest way to get people turned off to this stuff is to sledge hammer them with it. It sounds like they are doing a very good job of sledge hammering people.

    9. Observer*

      Well, the OP is actually NOT trying to take anything away from anyone – all they want is for people to be able to opt in, which means that if they ACTUALLY do WANT them they can get them, rather than deluging everyone with inappropriate, inaccurate, misleading and possibly harmful messages.

  8. JustAThought*

    OP3: you state you write reviews and “don’t expect anything in return”. Your proposed “networking” follow ups strongly suggest otherwise. Don’t do that!

    1. MK*

      That’s unfair. The OP may well have not been expecting anything, but once the restaurant responded got the idea to use the connection. It’s still a bad idea; the reality is that most people don’t appreciate being networked at in situations that aren’t understood to be networking-appropriate.

      OP, this is a networking opportunity-for the future. You now have a slight acquaintance with this person and their business; if in the future you want to book a work lunch there orask them to sponsor a fundraiser, it won’t be a cold call.

      1. OP3*

        OP3 here. MK thank you for your response. You are correct that I was not expecting anything in return, but after contact was made I thought I could introduce myself. Sometimes this is a rare opportunity. You and Just a Thought are both right it was not a great idea, but my heart’s thinking was in the right place. Whether it’s work or fundraising I try to think of an event’s end scenario. When I see a business that might fit into that scenario, my mind starts racing with how do I get in touch, how do I in turn help promote this business who is helping us as well, how can we work together. I was not always looking just for something that would soley benefit the project I was working on but somehow an introduction needed to be made. Alison’s advice is spot on, that’s why we write her for advice! Alison was able to confirm what I deep down already knew. There is no magical wording that professionally would combine a thank you and networking. I know to stick with my gut instinct and not mix up the two. Thank you both again for commenting

        1. Malarkey01*

          OP3 I mean this kindly but I cringe a little when you say like to low key network a lot and make connections and think of the end scenario when working with people. Networking is so important, but a lot of times someone who is really into it comes off as transactional and opportunist (and I’m NOT saying that you do or don’t), but please maybe pay close attention to how you do it and maybe even ask a trusted friend/coworker how you’re coming across. I’ve met so many enthusiastic people who thought they were casually and covertly networking but in reality were seen as the person always trying to get too close or get too much.

          1. OP3*

            Malarkey01. I totally get what you are saying. I should clarify that when I say low key networking it’s more along the lines of – we’re at happy hour can I get your card; I saw your card on the business card display at the deli; if I frequent a business where eventually employees and I are asking how the game was on tv, I might slip in the conversation that I worked on a fundraiser while watching the game.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        The reality is that most people don’t appreciate being networked at in situations that aren’t understood to be networking-appropriate.

        This. Networking is an important and useful thing, but it can feel like someone trying to trick you into taking a cold sales call.

    1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      This. My voicemail greetings always include a comment about response times (and how to get a faster response) just because I don’t answer my personal phone during the work day but do look at texts, so my message lets people know that voice messages won’t be heard until after 5pm but if it’s urgent they should either text me or call me at work.

      (This was particularly important in a previous career when I’d do in-home petsitting, and I’d sometimes be temporarily living at a client’s house somewhere that didn’t have decent cell service. I’d change my voicemail greeting to let people know I was only going to be checking messages every 48 hours or so.)

      The longer you plan to go without checking voicemail, the more important it is that your greeting let people know that. Otherwise, people assume a fairly quick turn-around.

    2. Lynca*

      This. When I go out of the country I update my VM message to state when I will be back and that I will have no way to check voicemail messages until I return. If you need to get a hold of me please email me at X as I will have access to email.

    3. Ferris*

      Assuming this is a cell phone, you should be able to set it up for WiFi based calls. This will let your phone ring even if it doesn’t have any signal but you’re connected to WiFi (anywhere in the world). You can also use it to make calls. This works for being oversee

      1. Ferris*

        Ugh accidentally hit submit. Trying again
        Overseas but also in a cabin with no cell signal but has WiFi. You can also use to check voicemail. And it’s all free.

    4. Jackeytown*

      Great idea. It is kind of surprising that the OP didn’t think anyone might try to call them – I’ve been job hunting over the past few months and often when a recruiter is interested in talking further, the first contact they make is a call. But perhaps the OP works or lives somewhere where email is very much the norm.

      OP, in addition to setting up a voicemail message, I suggest including a note in your cover letter/email that explains you’ll be overseas and have limited (or no) access to check voicemails, so the best way to make contact is by email or LinkedIn or whatever. That way most people will spot the note and won’t even try to call, but if they do, they’ll hear the voicemail message.

  9. Jello Bello*

    LW1: Even if everything the emails said was accurate, even if none of the recipients have issues with eating disorders, this type of communication doesn’t belong in the workplace. No company (hopefully) sends frequent emails preaching about how to establish healthy boundaries with your parents or how to avoid making stupid decisions with your love life. It’s none of their business. The only regular communication you should have from work is about work.

    I’d be wary of getting into a debate about the content of their health messages – it’s possible the sender will argue they were being helpful with all of their useful tips. Focus on the inappropriateness of such personal messages that are completely irrelevant to the work that you’re doing.

    1. Hungry*

      Jello Bello, some of us work for employers who are self-insured and take a nosy interest in our health because they’re trying to cut costs. Annoying emails are a fact of life and it’s easier to delete them to make an issue out of it, IMHO

      1. WellRed*

        It’s easier to do nothing than to push back, of course. That’s why change takes so long. Especially in the office where people can be afraid of losing their paycheck.

      2. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

        Even if they’re trying to cut costs, this sort of messaging can be actively unhealthy, in ways that increase the costs of health care (as well as the other harm they cause). They could be setting themselves up to pay for expensive treatment soon (intensive mental health care for eating disorders) in order to maybe reduce what they’ll be spending on some other sort of health care ten or twenty years down the line, if their employees stay at the company that long.

        (Most Americans change their health insurance coverage moderately often, either because they change jobs, or their spouse does, or their employer changes plans, or they look at the numbers during open enrollment and can’t afford their current plan, or an insurer drops their favorite specialist from its network….)

        How well do you think it would go over if an employer said “no, we’re not going to stop sending these emails. We realize this is causing you stress and might put some of your colleagues in the hospital, but it’s saving us $13/month/employee”? Most companies, even if they’re focused only on the bottom line, realize that employee morale makes a difference to productivity.

      3. SomebodyElse*

        This is where I come in on this… It falls under the ‘eh not relevant’ to ‘ughh annoying why am I seeing this crap’

        LW can try to get removed from this, stop it, or figure out a way to personally eliminate the emails. I think the most effective and easiest is to delete them and stop giving them head space.

        The other thing, is that there are people who do find these types of messages helpful. (personally I’m not one of those people and would find it annoying…)

        1. yala*

          “The other thing, is that there are people who do find these types of messages helpful”

          I can’t imagine what’s helpful about telling people, unsolicited, how many sit-ups they’ll have to do to work off their tablespoon of cranberry sauce.

          Even folks who might feel they’re helpful aren’t really being helped into anything other than unhealthy attitudes towards food and exercise.

        2. Observer*

          Well, when the information is as inaccurate and shamey as the OP describes, that’s not likely to be the case. Worse is if someone actually DOES think that the inaccurate information is useful.

          But in any case, the OP is not asking for the emails to STOP, just for them to be opt in so that people who like this stuff can still get it.

        3. Librarian of SHIELD*

          This isn’t how mental health triggers work. People who have experienced eating disorders or who have an unhealthy relationship to diet and/or exercise don’t really have the option to “stop giving them head space.” The OP is trying to be considerate of people in their office who might be in that position, so “care less about it” isn’t advice that’s going to be helpful in this circumstance.

          1. Arts Akimbo*

            Yes. I imagine it must be like telling someone suffering from depression that the answer is to just cheer up. (Though I really wish I could!! I would give anything in the world for mental health treatment to be that simple!)

      4. lawyer*

        This type of communication isn’t generally considered effective in changing food/exercise behavior but it IS known to negatively affect eating disordered individuals. So if anything, the company is increasing its potential health costs – my treatment for anorexia costs tens of thousands of dollars, all of which was covered by employer insurance.

      5. That Girl from Quinn's House*

        It’s entirely possible that they’re doing it on purpose, then. If the company subtly make employees with special health needs feel icky, they’ll start looking for new jobs and the company won’t have to pay for their heightened medical costs.

        But I’m cynical.

    2. EPLawyer*

      “No company (hopefully) sends frequent emails preaching about how to establish healthy boundaries with your parents or how to avoid making stupid decisions with your love life. It’s none of their business. The only regular communication you should have from work is about work.”

      Thank you.

    3. Quill*

      Yeah, they should stick to “here’s our class times” and “stop by for event x” but the reality is that they’re going to probably try to market themselves & addressing how to appropriately do that should happen sooner, rather than later.

      1. Traffic_Spiral*

        Nope, gonna condemn it. It’s a pointlessly time-consuming way to send a message and shows a lack of consideration for the recipient. Send an email or text if you’re setting up a meeting – something that doesn’t require the listener to have to transcribe all the time and location info. I’m not going through an entire decision tree of “to listen to these 500 messages, press star” so I can take diction like I’m your 50’s secretary.

        1. Kaitlyn*

          This is such an odd response to the entirely normal convention of using the telephone for business communication. Sometimes the phone is faster!

          1. WellRed*

            Right? Traffic spiral doesn’t want to transcribe the vm (er, jot down name and number). Maybe the caller doesn’t want to write out an email to multiple candidates.

          2. Traffic_Spiral*

            If you’re actually talking on the phone, yes, it’s quicker. But if you have to leave a message, a text or voice message is a far better way to go about it. Leaving a voicemail is the equivalent of faxing your handwritten notes to someone instead of typing them up in an email: possibly mildly more convenient for you, but hugely inconvenient for the person that actually has to deal with your message, so you shouldn’t do it.

            1. Wask*

              I don’t think you’ll find very many people who will agree that it’s hugely inconvenient. Voicemail is still considered a pretty standard method of communication.

            2. Kaitlyn*

              Okay, to me, “hugely incovenient” would be, like, I need to take a bus to a particular phone booth on the other side of town, and it’s only open on Tuesdays between 9 and 10 pm, and you have to put in Romanian coins to operate it, and then you can get your messages. Picking up my phone and dialing like, four numbers, and then making sure I have a pen and paper nearby, is really not that big a deal. Sometimes you are going to have to suffer through a voicemail or two in order to make your work go.

            3. CheeryO*

              I would find it extremely bizarre if a potential employer tried to text me. I’d prefer an email over a VM, but it’s still a completely normal business convention.

              1. Filosofickle*

                Hell yes. Do NOT text me! Email is best, but I’ll take voicemail over text any day when it comes to job search stuff.

            4. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

              You can’t text me at work. I work at a desk and my phone does not receive texts.

              I prefer email to voicemail for sure, but it’s worth pointing out that some people do not receive texts at all.

            5. ThatGirl*

              What is the difference between a voicemail and a voice message, in your world? Because to me those are essentially the same thing, and on iPhone, voicemails can be played right from the phone (no dialing) and are loosely transcribed.

            6. Sophie Hatter*

              I leave voicemails for people constantly at my work. Why? Because they are mostly educational professionals and they will be VERY inconvenienced if I interrupt their class time or meetings with parents. Sometimes it is more convenient! Sometimes email is more convenient! Which is why we do both.

            7. Ace in the Hole*

              I’m very confused, what do you call a “voice mail” and how is it different from a “voice message?” Both of those are the same thing to me.

              And at least in my area, leaving a voicemail/voice message is very routine business communication. If you’ve already dialed their number and let it ring through, it’s only another 30 seconds to leave a quick message saying why you called and how to reach you.

              1. Parenthetically*

                My text app has a little microphone next to the typing box. I can press and hold that and send a voice memo/message/clip/whatever if I need to describe something more complex than I feel like typing. It’s awesome for when I’m driving and can’t text, but need to tell someone something immediately, too.

                But yes, leaving a voicemail is so normal in business communication. Texting/voicetexting is simply not practical in these circumstances. I hate it for personal use, but in an interviewing context? It’s definitely the simplest solution.

            8. BethDH*

              When you are setting up a meeting with someone who is not already sharing a calendar or messaging system with you, and will thus likely need some back and forth about availability, calling is better. Once they have called, they might as well leave a voicemail saying they called and asking someone to call them back.
              Texts seem especially unprofessional for a first contact in a work situation, and you shouldn’t assume that the contact phone number is necessarily a cell number.

            9. Koala dreams*

              Voicemail is very annoying, and on my personal phone I got the voicemail service canceled for that very reason. I wasn’t interested in paying for the annoyance that was navigating the voicemail phone tree. However, a lot of people use voicemail and if you have the voicemail service on it’s in your interest to listen to it.

              Also, as general information, it’s possible (in some places) to send texts to landline phones where it’s read up by a voice. I’m not sure if it’s the caller or the receiver that subscribes to that service, but if you have difficulties receiving texts on your landline you can look into it.

            10. Joielle*

              I actually do kind of agree with this! At a previous job, I often had to take people’s not-well-fleshed-out ideas and make them into something useful, and it was a HUGE pet peeve when people would just call and ramble about an idea rather than taking the time to organize their thoughts enough to write them down in an email. If your thoughts aren’t organized enough to email them to me, then they’re not organized enough to call me about. If they are organized but you prefer to talk rather than type, that’s fine! But if you just pick up the phone and start saying words about a poorly-formed thought you had 30 seconds ago, no thank you, I am not a secretary to transcribe your ramblings.

              Of course, that was kind of a specific situation because it wasn’t just an exchange of ideas, I had to take that jumble of garbage and make something out of it. But I do still dread voicemails.

            11. Librarian of SHIELD*

              Dude. I actively HATE phone calls, but I accept that telephones are still incredibly common business tools that I will be expected to use in a professional capacity. I don’t like it, but it’s not nearly as horrifically inconvenient as you’re making it out to be.

          3. NotAnotherManager!*

            Seriously. I work in legal, and someone who’s morally opposed to voicemail is probably not a good fit of the job anyway. Even if we can accommodate virulent hatred of voicemail in the recruiting process, is the candidate going to lecture an attorney about not leaving them voice messages because it’s offensive and disrespectful of the recipient’s time? I would bring popcorn for that.

            And, of course, our recruiters also get candidates (new college grads, even) who tell them that they should have called instead of emailing them. You seriously cannot win with everyone, yet so many people thing that you should be able to intuit and accommodate their preference, like it’s the only one.

          1. NotAnotherManager!*

            Well, apparently expecting someone to press the “play message” button on their cell phone is the equivalent of asking them to get you a cup of coffee, dollface, and send you a print-quality transcription of the message back.

          2. Koala dreams*

            It’s pretty time consuming to listen to voicemail. First you need to navigate the phone tree, then find the right message, then listen to it, if you miss anything (like the name of the caller) you’ll need to listen to the whole message again, and in the end, something that would have taken 30 second to text or e-mail and 10 to read takes 5 minutes when it’s voicemail. Of course, if you get many voicemail you can get one of those voicemail transcribing things to save time.

        2. EPLawyer*

          Excuse me, I leave and receive plenty of voice mails. If I am in court, I can’t receive a phone call. Or a text. Or an email. So the person should call me, get my VOICEMAIL which exists for a reason. Hang up, then send me a text or an eail? Why do 2 things when one will suffice?

          Same in reverse. I am returning calls and my client is not available, so I leave a voice mail rather than taking time to communicate in yet another format.

          Also for legal things, text isn’t really the right format.

            1. SomebodyElse*


              This is so odd… I mean I can think of a lot of inconveniences but voicemail? It’s totally standard and normal.

              1. Ariaflame*

                And I frequently don’t notice one has been left for days because of where my office phone sits, and people don’t leave meaningful messages, don’t say what it’s about and then mumble a number that I have to replay the message several times to get down.

                I hate phones anyway. Voicemail is like that only with the good bits removed.

                1. BethDH*

                  But that’s like saying that email is bad because a lot of people send useless emails and you get spam. I much prefer email myself, but I recognize that phone and voicemail are the right tools in many cases, and that workplaces are more likely to need phone contact than most of my non-work life.

          1. ceiswyn*

            Leave me a voice mail if you absolutely have to, but if that’s the case then you also need say your name, your business, and your phone number CLEARLY, SLOWLY, and TWICE.

            I have a mild hearing impairment that operates particularly in most people’s vocal range. At least 50% of the time all I can tell is that I have a voicemail from someone whose name is something-a calling about indecipherable, and I should call her back on 01???539??2. And I just have to wait for a few days in mild anxiety until whoever-it-is either manages to catch me by phone or they send an email with all the information clearly written out AS THE GODS INTENDED.

            1. corporate engineering layoff woo*

              Holy heck this. If you’re calling someone who doesn’t already have your number/card/email signature and are expecting the voicemail to work as the only point of returning contact, you absolutely MUST repeat key information. Having to listen to the whole message 3x to capture and confirm the phone number to return a call is terrible.

          2. NotAnotherManager!*

            I’m dying to go tell my in-house counsel that we should banish voicemail and tell everyone to email/text everything. I think his head would explode, given what stupid things people say in emails and texts.

        3. Quill*

          It is de-facto leaving out people with hearing / hearing comprehension problems, so I agree we should try to do emails whenever possible. Especially because everyone thinks the amount of audio chaff in their area when they’re sending a voicemail is completely unnoticeable, when in reality you get messages that end in “Please call me back at *Car alarm goes off, there is a sound like a hair dryer, person who called you is now clearly ten additional feet from their microphone* – 309 to schedule your interview. I can also be reached by email at Jenny *second car alarm*.”

          1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

            It’s a cell phone, they have transcription services built into voicemail apps for this reason!

            1. Quill*

              Those are about as reliable as youtube’s auto captioning. They’re 200% useless when it comes to spelling the name of the person who called you so you can email them, and they are never going to fix the car alarm /wind tunnel / general noisiness problem, just the “people not speaking loudly enough directly into their phone” and “People speaking too fast” problems. Sometimes. There’s still a market to disastrously underpay people to caption audio and video files (I know because I did it for a bit while last unemployed) because the auto transcription programs are just not good enough to be a reliable way of making content accessable.

              They’re also not available for free. The one that came on my current android phone is $3 a month, small potatoes until you consider that gmail is free and there’s no way to know if the service is ACTUALLY any good at audio to text transcription until you’ve paid for it…

              Overall as a society we should try to default to the most widely accessable option wherever possible.

              1. Annie Moose*

                Voicemail transcription is a free service on iPhones, and in my experience has been pretty accurate except sometimes with names.

                1. Quill*

                  I have extreme doubts based on the quality of voicemails that I get. As I mentioned elsewhere, my mother would leave me a voicemail in a NASA wind tunnel while blow drying her hair if she could, and she’s not even the worst offender given how many voicemails I get about “job opportunities” where the next call center employee over can be heard better than the person calling me.

              2. pancakes*

                That hasn’t been my experience at all. I can’t remember the last time I listened to a voicemail rather than relying on the free transcription in my phone. FYI I’m pretty sure Google Voice is free too.

        4. That Would be a Good Band Name*

          This is such an odd reaction. I’m going to guess you don’t job search often because voicemails are the only communication I have ever received to set up an interview. If I waited for an email, I’d have been unemployed for the last decade. Also, if I suddenly decided that I could ignore my work voicemail, I’d be unemployed at worst and have a reputation for being unhelpful/unresponsive at best.

          1. Diana*

            I’m in a job search right now and absolutely all of my communications, from recruiters to hiring managers to recruiting coordinators, have happened exclusively through email.

        5. Boomerang Girl*

          Personally, I hate voicemails and would rather receive an email or a text. However, I think it’s silly to condemn someone for using them. It’s one thing if they’ve been told that a recipient prefers email communications, but a recruiter may not know a recipient’s preference. Some people prefer voice messages because they can listen to them while doing other things. If someone doesn’t want to receive voicemail messages, they can simply turn off that feature on their phone.

        6. Book Badger, Attorney-at-Claw*

          This requires that the caller knows your email or cellphone number. While my coworkers and some outside people I work with know my email and use that, most other people I work with – especially clients – do not, and far fewer people know my personal cellphone number and that is deliberate (my work phone is a landline).

          I also hate listening to voicemails, but saying they’re inconsiderate is bizarre.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Uh, not so sure. I will be 60 next year and I would prefer an email. Telephone service sucks, the voices are always garbled. My boss will often comment, “I am not sure how you even piece anything together out of those messages.” I can have the voice mails sent to my computer which makes everything take much longer with the dinosaur- er, computer- I have.

              However, I am not supposed to use email, I have nothing to text with so that leaves fax and voice mail. I do use email as much as I can, so I am bending the rules some what. However, if I came across as strongly as shown here, I would be out of a job by Tuesday. No point to hating VM, it is what it is. In workplaces, I believe that we pretty much have to go with where our people are and our dislike for a particular thing has no bearing. I could ditch faxing tomorrow and be a very happy camper. However, people frequently fax me.

              I will say, that it does matter what type of phone and phone service you have. We got a new phone and phone company and it is not possible to make it MORE cumbersome to retrieve voice mails. What should be just a couple steps is now almost a dozen steps before I can hear a message. I usually am doing something else while I wait for the phone system to step through it’s encumbered process. I have a small workplace, the phone has way too many features that are of no use or value to me. The really funny part is that no one uses all the features because they can’t figure it out. The phone has a 180 page instruction manual that no one has time to read.

          1. ceiswyn*

            Last time I was looking for work, I made it clear in the contact details that email was my preferred contact method. And yet, the recruiter just kept phone me for every little thing, even though it went to voicemail every. single. time (because I spent approximately 100% of the working day in traffic noise or gym classes).

            Towards the end he was clearly getting frustrated by playing extended games of telephone tag, and yet he STILL wouldn’t email me, even though almost all of the things he was phoning me about were just one-way updates or simple questions that could easily have been emailed. Once I sent him an email update and he phoned me and left a voicemail telling me to call back to discuss it even though HE ACTUALLY HAD LITERALLY NOTHING TO SAY.

            I think that’s the kind of experience that makes people get annoyed about voicemail :)

        7. HS Teacher*

          If you refuse to leave voicemails you’d never do business with me. I never answer my phone when it rings. My voicemails get transcribed and come as a text message. If I don’t receive said text, I assume whoever called didn’t have anything important to say.

    1. PhyllisB*

      So what’s the alternative? Yes you can text or email, but if you are calling from a landline, you can’t use text and may not know the other person’s email. There are times I get calls I don’t have time to answer in the moment, and if I get a message I can listen and take appropriate action. I get VM from my library when a book I requested is in, I get VM from my mother when she needs me to pick up something from the store, I get VM from my dentist to remind me of upcoming appointments. You get the idea.
      True that if you have a lot to convey it’s better to leave a brief message asking for a return call. My personal pet peeve is people who write texts that go on FOREVER!! If it takes three “pages” for your text to load, pick up the darn phone and call!!

      1. EPLawyer*

        What I hate is people who call and say “This is so and so, call me back.” Yeah, I have to triage, is this an emergency ( I do get them in family law) or is it “I just wanted to know when the next court date is.” At least give the person some idea what you are calling about so they know where to put it on their priority list. You aren’t the only person calling them.

        1. Quill*

          It takes longer for me to call you back than it would to text me…

          Call me if we need a detailed conversation about a topic, but probably text first to make sure I can actually pick up the phone!

          (And if you’re giving me numbers / names / an address, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD TEXT. Congrats, you’ve prevented transcription errors! And I have the information on file in my phone now, where I’ll need it to be when I have to send the letter / put in the GPS destination / whatever)

          For business though, email. I cannot get back to you via phone during business hours reliably. I don’t want to play phone tag with you. I need your offer, job description, order, schedule IN WRITING in the first place, where I can refer back to it or send it on without worrying about transcription issues.

        2. Turquoisecow*

          Yes! I get such anxiety if I get a message that just says “call me back.” Did someone die? Is it a major thing? A minor thing? Should I drop EVERYTHING to call them NOW or is a few hours from now okay?

          My husband’s dad used to leave these messages rather than texting and Husband would freak out thinking something serious had happened. He’d call his dad back and…it was nothing. Dad just wanted to talk. He finally told his dad only to call if it was something insanely serious, otherwise text, and then they could arrange to talk at a convenient time, but “please call me back” with no context in the middle of a workday was just not working.

        3. Parenthetically*

          YES. I have FINALLY, FINALLY, after literal YEARS of asking, convinced my dad not to leave a voicemail if all he’s going to do is ask me to call back. Just flipping well text! Or leave me a missed call and I’ll call you back! ARGH

        4. Not So NewReader*

          There’s a lot of that around here. Rural area, so messages are garbled anyway. Most people get this. But once in a while there is a person who will go on and on for 2-3 minutes with a detailed message. All I need is name and number. Probably the rest of what the person is saying will be lost and they will only have to repeat it. Some times the same person leaves 3 or 4 garbled messages.
          What slays me is when people use their cells while riding in a moving vehicle. As they go in and out of serviced areas their message is just gone, I don’t even get garbled stuff. If I am lucky I might be able to figure out from the caller ID what the number is.

          On the other side of the issue, I have gained an appreciation for recorded out-going messages that are instructive and I pay closer attention to what the out-going message says to do. If the out-going message asks for a brief description of the question/problem then I do that.

        5. nonegiven*

          Yes, mom, when you leave a message please let me know you want me to call you back because you want me to drive you to the ER or you want to tell me some family news. It matters because I might have stuff to do for a couple of hours before I have time to call you back unless you say you want to go to the ER, which I will blow off chores to do right away.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Am chuckling.
          It’s comments like this that really drive home to me how rural we are here. Many places don’t even have internet. Some of the areas around me are told they will never, ever have internet. No money in it. The cable companies cannot be bothered.

      2. Koala dreams*

        I’ve never heard of a library or a dentist that leaves voicemail! How unusual! Before the libraries and dentist started to send e-mail, they used to send cards or letters in the regular mail. Good for you that you found libraries and dentists that accomodates your preferences, I guess.

        1. Librarian of SHIELD*

          Hi. Librarian here. We’ll do a phone call, email, or text notification, depending on what the customer asks for. For people who ask for a phone call, they’ll get a voicemail if they don’t answer the call when it comes in. And out of the multitude of medical offices I deal with in my personal/family life, only two send appointment confirmations by text. All of the others will still call and leave a voicemail if you don’t answer.

          This is not as old-fashioned or abnormal as you’re making it out to be.

          1. Pomona Sprout*

            My local library does the same thing you describe. And where doctor’s offices are concerned, most of the ones around here seem to rely on automated phone calls for appointment reminders (which leave a voicemail if no one answers the phone). A few are starting to use text messages, but they’re the exceptions so far.

            For what it’s worth, I live in the suburbs of a major city, not an isolated rural area.

    2. Llellayena*

      I’m currently trying to get in touch with a department that doesn’t provide contact emails on their website and doesn’t seem to directly answer calls. So leaving a voicemail is the ONLY way to get in contact.

      If I have someone’s email and I end up leaving a voicemail I will often follow with an email so I can catch them in whichever format is easier for them, but that’s not always possible. And some information really wants to be conveyed by voice, not written, for clarity.

    3. Jedi Squirrel*

      I hate voice mail for so many reasons. You have to press so many buttons to get your messages. People talk so fast I can’t get their information accurately. (Is it a contest to see who can say their phone number the fastest?) They slur their name or their company’s name and I have no idea who is calling. I have to listen to the message four or five times to get all their information.

      You want my attention, send me an email.

      1. EPLawyer*

        I have trouble with numbers. I know other people hate when phone numbers are left quickly. So I state my name and number at the beginning of the call. State why I am calling briefly. Then repeat my name and number so they don’t have to go back to listen to it again.

        1. Amy Sly*


          Speak the number especially at the speed you would be able to handwrite it. If your name is unusual, spell it out in a real phonetic code. (Was that B as in boy or C as in coy or T as in toy?)

        2. Laura H.*

          Same. But I usually repeat name, number and time at the end of the message.

          While some voicemail schemes may be cumbersome, it has its advantages.

          The telephone is still an essential communication tool in offices. Sometimes one has to leave a message- a formula helps me make sure I convey it best I can.

      2. Quill*

        People leave voice messages from call centers wearing headsets that make every breath sound like elephants sneezing, people (my mother) leave voice messages while traveling in a car on the interstate with the radio on, ensuring that figuring out what she’s saying is absolute hell, people have mutually incompatible accents and say “forty””fourteen” very nearly the same way, people walk away from the speaker or change angle mid sentence and it only picks up half of what they’re saying.

        1. Ace in the Hole*

          You keep arguing against voicemails on the basis that people speak unclearly or with background noise or leave inconsiderate messages… to my mind, that is a problem with certain callers, not with the means of communication. It’s the responsibility of a person leaving a voicemail to make it clear, concise, free of excessive background noise, and contain the relevant information.

          This is really no different from email. All your arguments against voicemail could also be made against email. Emails put up a barrier to people with visual impairments or reading disabilities, a lot of people misuse them or send vaguely worded messages, some people seem to be unwilling or incapable of writing clearly (jumbled words, confusing punctuation, typos/mispellings that change the meaning). Emails from a new address can easily get lost in a sea of spam. None of these are reasons to say email shouldn’t be used… they’re reasons to use good email etiquette. Same for voice messages and phone calls.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Annnddd, if the employer expects and employee to use VM, then that has to happen, period. We are free to hate VM or whatever we wanna hate, but we still have to do what the employer says to do.

            I do think that any job comes with parts that are contemptible. I think the trick is not to let these parts of the job wear on us. Dwelling on a dislikable part of a job seems to make it easier to hate it even more.
            As a supervisor, I had a deep respect for those who could take on things that were difficult or just plain irritating. To me those were the power-workers. The people whose work ethic I respected the most were the people who got through the rougher stuff. I have stood and repeated apologized to a subordinate that they had to power through something and in turn I have had some bosses do the same with me. Eh, things go wrong with monotonous regularity.
            The person I hired to help me with some stuff here at my house powered through some awful problems. I hired him and paid him for his willingness to take on the nasty problems. He worked on this place for two years. It’s just been my observation that the willing folks get more work.

    4. ThatGirl*

      My doctor’s office, my dentist, a lot of recruiters and HR types, my mom, my dad, occasionally my husband, you know, anyone who might actually call me.

    5. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      The only time I use the phone and leave voice messages are for hiring. But I also follow up with an email to make sure they get it. I thought it was pretty well known tons of people don’t even check their voicemails. Sometimes you can’t check them if you’re locked out of your app and not tech savvy. My mom sure the heck can’t.

      But it’s important to keep all communication options open. I had someone who didn’t check their personal email, there’s still a decent sized chunk of civilization that hasn’t caught up yet. They’re still hardworking people that I want to extend job interviews to.

      1. Quill*

        My voicemail inbox can fill up with spam in a single business day, sigh…

        It’s all recruiters for contract companies that I can’t block in case I need to search for jobs again, but taking my number off my resume has not helped, and I can’t exactly shut down my accounts on all job sites every time I find another contract job. Not that it would necessarily help, as I’m already in too many systems…

    6. MOAS*

      I mean I hate voicemails but to me the huge difference between a spam/unnecessary call and an important call is that the “important” call will leave a voicemail. spam calls usually don’t leave messages.

      1. nonegiven*

        I had so many spam voicemails lately that I went through and added a ringtone to every entry in my phone so I could make my default ringtone ‘no ring.’

        Carpet cleaning, my social security number is suspended, my 18 yo car’s warranty is expiring soon, someone wants to pray with me, a whole bucket load of “no need to wait for open enrollment, sign up for insurance now.” They have all left messages and I reported all of them to the FTC.

      1. bleh*

        My Generation Z students call my office phone and leave voicemail, so I don’t see how it’s generational.

        1. bleh*

          And they have my email and a messaging system in the learning software, which they also use. It just depends on the student and the context – as all communication does.

        2. Jennifer*

          I didn’t say anything about generations. It’s kind of funny how people are so passionate about this. Many people don’t like talking on the phone or leaving voice mails nowadays. It’s on its way out, just like we rarely send faxes anymore.

          Your students may leave voice mail because they know it’s your preferred method of communication. It doesn’t mean they prefer it.

      2. merp*

        I mean, you don’t have to like it, but this is just stubborn, if you are in fact receiving them and ignoring them. Making someone wait to see if you’ll respond and then recontact you in some other way is kinda rude.

    7. OP5*

      That’s what I thought! But finding out that I missed this opportunity is definitely making me re-consider, haha :)

      1. Koala dreams*

        Why not have a message where you state that you can be contacted through method A or B, and then disable the option for the caller to actually leave a voicemail? That way you don’t have any voicemail to sort through, and the people who call will know how to get in touch.

  10. Iris*

    LW2 – my boss accidentally included me in a similar private email about a health condition she didn’t want disclosed at wide. I told her I’d deleted it and we maintained a polite fiction that it had never been sent and I’d never seen it. It has not been a big deal. Most people are grown up enough to understand that we all have human bodies and sometimes those human bodies are awful. I understand why you feel bad, but I don’t think you need to worry any more.

    1. Sun Tzu*

      Fully agree. Also, LW2, you wrote that the worker emailed you back acknowledging your mistake, so they look like an honest person and is very likely they will keep it for themselves.
      Pretend it never happened, and stop thinking about it.

      1. EPLawyer*

        The receipient most likely wants to forget they ever saw it too. Bringing it up again will only remind the recipient they saw it in the first place. For everyone’s sanity, let it go.

      2. JustaTech*

        Exactly. I’ve gotten mis-directed e-mails that were somewhat private and the only reason I even remember that I got them was because I got like 5 in 2 days from other people in a class I was taking who were all super upset about the mismanagement of the class and I strongly agreed with them. But I didn’t tell them that, I just said “hey, this is classmate [Name], not TA [Name].”

  11. BizCorp*

    #OP1 – if its company culture and or policy to promote healthy eating and healthy lifestyle for their employees thats their prerogative. You dont have to read them – that you’re prerogative; but its also fair and balanced to acknowledge that while you can contend that these emails might be hurtful to some who are sensitive about their weight – they can also do good and promote positive changes for other members of staff.

    1. Asenath*

      I’d just ignore them, too. Sure, I find unsolicited suggestions about my personal eating habits annoying and unhelpful, but they’re just one category among many of the types of annoying, unhelpful and generally unsolicited advice that I get, being in a modern society with such ease of communication. I’m very good at ignoring what I don’t want to read and at deleting, blocking or opting out of unwanted emails – they’re essential skills today when so much comes at you online. It’s also possible some people like and benefit from such emails. And I couldn’t argue that diet advice isn’t something a fitness centre should give, even if I personally don’t want the advice, or think that it’s bad advice.

        1. Quill*

          Nor is weight, as there is basically no evidence that it has any affect on health, except in cases where it is a symptom of another health condition.

          1. Brass*

            This is just not true. Weight is definitely not the only predictor of health, but ignoring the scientific facts around weight, nutrition, and exercise is just as stupid as ignoring scientific facts around climate change. Some people don’t want to believe it, but it’s true.

            1. Quill*

              Nearly all studies on weight and health in humans have been done on correlational principles, not proving anything about causation. Scientifically, this means that we don’t have evidence that it CAUSES any health issues in the general population, we only have case studies where it was either observed with, or a symptom of, another health problem.

              I stand by my statement as a person with an actual degree in science. We do not have robust scientific proof of causation.

              1. Brass*

                I also have an actual degree in science- an epidemiology degree. Lack of evidence of direct causation does not mean that “there is basically no evidence that it has any affect on health.” Weight is a mediating and modifying factor for several health condition and there is a lot of evidence of that.

                1. Observer*

                  There is actually not as much evidence as one would think, because so many of the studies are either tainted or failed to look at confounding factors.

                  For instance, one thing that I have yet to see addressed when looking at outcomes is how medical personnel dealt with overweight patients vs those who are not overweight. Knowing, as we do, that doctors and other health care decision makers often treat people who are overweight significantly differently that people with the same symptoms who are not overweight, that’s a real gap.

                  Also, while it’s pretty clear that weight probably does cause issues for many people, there ARE a significant number of people whose health markers (eg bp, blood sugar) are actually quite good. Also, there are people who are technically overweight but their weight is muscle, so that’s also not a problem.

                  On the other hand, it turns out that over focus on weight doesn’t always get the health benefits that one expects because losing weight often can be done in fairly unhealthy ways. On the other hand, doing things that improve fitness and health tend to lead to better health outcomes and often better weight outcomes as well.

                  Which is to say that at this point, while we know that weight is an issue, we have reason

                  The point being that while weight is an issue, it’s not quite clear HOW MUCH of an issue it is. And that the hyper focus on WEIGHT and DON’T EAT is really not supported by current science.

                2. Curmudgeon in California*

                  Weight is actually a symptom, not a cause, in many of these metabolic conditions (Hypothyroidism, metabolic syndrome, etc.) Yet so many people treat the symptom as if it is a moral failing. Treating only the symptom with guilt and harassment doesn’t alleviate the disease. Correlation is not causation.

                3. Blueberry*

                  How much did you study the relationship between weight and health while gaining your degree, though? A degree in one scientific area doesn’t necessarily confer particular knowledge of another.

                4. Not So NewReader*

                  Curmudgeon, thank you. You are singing my song.

                  It took me 17 years plus to lose the excess weight I had in high school. I was absolutely floored to learn how much of weight loss has NOTHING to do with food.
                  Additionally, I know how to eat a box of cookies in one sitting. I can’t UNlearn that. I can only teach myself how to guide myself away from that.
                  It’s my opinion that on the large scale people are treated with lack of respect in regards to their weight concerns by professionals in the health field. There are exceptions and some professionals are pure gems about helping people to the degree people need help.

            2. Quill*

              Also, btw, nutrition and excercise are valid things we know about! But likening the “obesity epidemic” which is primarily based on BMI (a non scientific measurement meant only to evaluate population averages, during a time with rampant poor nutrition, nearly two hundred years ago, where the “healthy” weight was set as an average and then adjusted to make the scale ‘simpler to understand’) is as scientifically valid as four decades of actual scientific research is going to run you into huge problems with actual scientists taking you seriously.

              1. Arts Akimbo*

                I hate, hate that my insurance company still uses BMI as a data point in determining anything about health. It’s outmoded and misused, and it makes me mistrust their other metrics by association.

    2. Mookie*

      The LW is not primarily objecting to “hurtfulness” but inadvertent harm, and it is very debatable whether the advice in these emails bears any relationship to “healthy eating and healthy lifestyle.” That’s the point, and why the LW thinks one should be able to opt in or opt out of these kinds of dubious, potentially unhelpful messages which, incidentally, don’t appear to sent by the company but by one individual in one department out of many.

      1. Kaitlyn*

        Yes, this. When we talk about food restriction, or “bad foods” (or even “treats”!), or exercising as a way to eliminate the impact eating has on our bodies, or exercise as a punishment or natural outcome for eating certain foods or meals, then the focus is not on wellness. The focus is on upholding small bodies as a standard of acceptable, regardless of the emotional and psychological impact of upholding that standard.

        As someone who restricted and purged for years, receiving these messages from an employer would enrage me, regardless of the intention of the person sending the emails. OP, please push back.

        1. Curmudgeon in California*

          Yes. To me the assertion that increased exercise is the proper punishment for daring to eat is the same as the distorted idea that children are the punishment for sex.

    3. Crivens!*

      “You must obsessively burn every calorie you eat, count said calories, and think of some foods as inherently bad” is not a healthy lifestyle.

      1. Triple Double*

        It can be, if your goal is to be at a healthy weight, not underweight.

        The most common eating disorder is binge eating disorder BTW.

          1. Triple Double*

            And you don’t have to but if someone does then it doesn’t necessarily mean they have a disorder. They can just be mindful about their health.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      I’m sincerely curious as to whether anyone can demonstrate a positive health benefit that came about because of an unprompted message about the number of sit-ups needed to equal the calories in a slice of pumpkin pie.

      If it’s a vague “Well it will make people feel bad, and so they will eat less” I think there’s considerable evidence that this approach causes people to eat two slices of pumpkin pie and do no sit-ups.

      1. SomebodyElse*

        Umm… I could. There are people who are actively trying to lose weight and doing so responsibly. (I happen to be one of them atm) and sometimes this kind of information can be a good reminder to make mindful choices. It can also, if it’s a bad message, be a good reminder of the fact there’s a lot of crap information out there and to be mindful of vetting the random information being spewed in the wild.

        1. pancakes*

          The idea that people need need to see lousy information to be reminded it exists is nonsensical. The idea that people make poor eating choices due to forgetfulness is nearly as nonsensical.

    5. fposte*

      I think this is the conflation of intent and effect, though. I understand what the sender *thinks* the messages do, but there’s never a reason to assume that that’s a correct assessment, and in this case there’s some pretty decent evidence to suggest it’s not. It wasn’t an absence of nagging messages that led people to gain weight.

      It’s like the guy who thinks regularly saying “Oh, you look beautiful today, and that dress really flatters you!” to his female subordinate is promoting positivity. He’s wrong.

    6. Observer*

      Firstly, some of these emails cannot be considered helpful to ANYONE because they convey inaccurate information. Sending emails like this to all and sundry does not actually do anything to promote healthy eating or lifestyle, even when they are not filled with false information. When they DO have false information they CANNOT “promote positive changes.”

      Secondly, it may technically be the prerogative of the company to promote anything they want, but REASONABLE employers avoid crossing boundaries. And they certainly allow for the fact that different people have different needs. So people for whom these emails are actively harmful (this is not just about being “sensitive”), don’t need to deal with it and people who do find ACCURATE information useful can continue to et these emails.

      Why are you so hung up on the company sending EVERYONE these emails that SOME people might like? It really only takes a few minutes to set things up so that only the people who want them, get them.

    7. Meepmeep*

      Not if it’s wrong. This kind of advice is guaranteed to worsen the health of anyone who follows it, and has been roundly discredited by the science done on this issue.

      Calorie counting is so inaccurate as to be useless, ignores the quality of the food consumed (a 100 calorie apple is the same as 100 calories of candy), and produces eating disordered behaviors by definition (since the person ignores internal cues in favor of calorie counting).

      Plus, exercise is not the antithesis of eating and not a punishment for eating.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Love this. I had a boss who was upset about a coworker chowing down on a certain veggie. “Do you know there are 100 calories per serving in that veggie?” My coworker told me and I started laughing. I said, “Okay and your body is going to take the veggie and use the nutrition for something. Given the choice of chowing down on that veggie or a candy bar, I’d encourage you to eat that veggie, because your body will use all of it.”

        On exercise: This is why it’s good to work with a trained professional. If a person is adding exercise to their routine day, then there are things that can be done nutritionally that are supportive. Telling someone just to exercise more without checking their medical situation is totally irresponsible. I went through a point in life where the doc told me NOT to exercise. I had a very physical job plus some health issues. Adding more exertion would have been a very poor choice at best, and perhaps a choice that would have caused me more issues.
        Our church does an exercise program for those who would like it. Each person who joins HAS to bring a note from their doc saying it is okay for them to join. This just makes sense.

  12. Wakeens Teapots LTD*

    I don’t object to wellness messages in the work place. I object to *bad* wellness messages in the work place.

    The OP’s issue is it is a bad wellness message.

    Trying to heed Alison’s request that we not debate health here, let’s do the “agree to disagree” on whether the message is bad/harmful or not, and suggest that is okay to say “don’t do it” if intelligent and informed people think the message is harmful.

    Personally, I think work wellness messages should stick to the knitting of work. There is a wealth of wellness to be found in stress management, and that ties to work, if businesses want to talk about wellness.

    1. Guacamole Bob*

      You have to be thoughtful about stress management, too. If your employees are totally overworked, chipper messages about time for self care or whatever look really clueless. If some managers are totally butts-in-seats then advice about taking a break to go for a walk during the day is going to just piss people off, for example.

      There’s a poster with stress reduction tips in one of our stairwells that includes something like “engage in relaxing activities for 2-3 hours before bed to promote good sleep.” Every time I see it I want to punch something. My spouse and I both work full time, she travels for work semi-regularly, we have two young kids and no local family support, and the entire idea of consistently taking multiple hours before bed to relax is totally laughable.

      1. Wakeens Teapots LTD*

        and………. point!

        The thing is, many people don’t have community, and I think it could be helpful for a work place to have information about wellness, wellness activities, etc.

        Maybe we should land at invitations and not sermons. We have an in house gym and biweekly yoga. We always have healthy eating skewed catered lunches. Nobody needs email sermons.

        1. fposte*

          I love “invitations and not sermons.” That’s a beautifully condensed way to articulate the best practice. Otherwise your office is just somebody sitting there and watching while you take multiple trips to carry heavy boxes upstairs, sagely saying “Don’t hurt yourself.” Uh, thanks.

        2. Guacamole Bob*

          I think the key is that the company as a whole has to mean it. If you take an unhealthy corporate culture and tack on a wellness coordinator sending out tips, it’s really not going to help anything. If the whole company really does support work/life balance and actually taking your vacation time and managers are totally fine with their reports taking some time for a yoga class or whatever, then I think wellness initiatives at work can be a nice perk and enhance the work environment.

          And email tips have to be genuinely written from a place of understanding that people’s lives are complex and their needs are different. It’s very easy to fall into the trap of sending out one-size-fits-all advice, and that’s almost guaranteed to land wrong with someone.

        3. Washi*

          Agreed completely! And I think this is helpful language if the fitness person is like “so how do I know what’s not offensive to you special snowflakes??”

        4. Curmudgeon in California*


          Workplace wellness programs irritate me. Ours sends out a surveys every year, and lately have diverged from the “wellness = diet & exercise” that they had when I started. The only reason I don’t filter all of their stuff to the bit-bucket is they now have offerings on stress management and elder care, not just diet and exercise classes.

      2. JustaTech*

        Yeah, the clueless “tips” can make management look incredibly callous. Like the training session at on of my company’s plants that was about tiredness that said “take the bus”. These folks are tired (and falling asleep at the wheel and crashing their cars) because they work the night shift in a location with absolutely no public transit in a city and a region famous for minimal public transit.
        Working people to exhaustion and then telling them to do something impossible is not a good look.

    2. Professional Cat Herder*

      The only type of work wellness messages that I would find appropriate in this instance would be straightforward messages around the services and resources available at the fitness center: reminders of upcoming classes, new equipment, changes in staff, etc.

      “Did you know we offer nutritional counseling? Contact us to find out more!” is a far different message than what OP described. I have pretty strong convictions around modern diet culture but I wouldn’t be offended by that type of messaging. I could easily say “not for me” and move along.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Yep, same. I’d love a class list, trainer hours, services offered, info about new services/programs — all totally helpful information to be used or not as the reader needs. (Though I might still mention to someone that a gym employee who took an online course about the keto diet or whatever other similarly likely scenario is very very extremely not qualified to give out nutrition advice, and that for a broad audience a person with training in eating disorders, preferably an RD, is the safest choice to avoid causing actual harm to people.)

        1. Professional Cat Herder*

          I too, would probably privately discuss my similar qualms. (But I also change the channel/swipe right/religiously unfollow nearly anyone or any program that starts hawking pretty much any “health & wellness” stuff that’s not clearly rooted in actual science and training, so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯)

  13. Op3*

    I’m OP3. I had kind of anticipated Alison’s response before sending. I had hoped there was some specific wording I hadn’t thought of to combine praise and networking. It seems my gut instinct was right not to mix two different scenarios. Yes I admit it was not a good idea in the first place – don’t go too hard on me. My question came from the view that in some scenarios would be an opportunity to put a name / email together. As requested to everyone at my 9to 5 job I have continued passing on business cards to restaurants and team building activities where I had some amazing experiences. As for networking with non profits I will continue to go through proper Chanel’s listed on websites.

    If anyone is interested we just had our meal with the discount- no I did not network – our group ha dinner another wonderful time. I’ll definitely be going back!

    1. Wakeens Teapots LTD*

      Cultivating a relationship with restaurant owners and wait staff is great. I do it all the time.

      I represent a local community political organization ( in my spare time). My husband I frequently patronize the same local restaurants. We tip well, we get to know the owners and regular servers. I leave good (true) reviews on social media. We get on a first name basis with everyone.

      I offer them business. If my group needs a restaurant place to meet, we go to one of my locals where I know the owners. In the course of all of that, I make sure the owners know which organization I represent. THEN, when I need a favor (which I did election night, I needed to ask an owner and one of our key servers to stay open a little later for us), it’s organic.

      There’s nothing wrong with letting an owner know you represent a specific org, just, make it about them and what you can do for them. Is what I think.

      1. OP3*

        OP3 here. Wakeens Teapots, thank you for commenting! Yes I have been following the get to know you scenario that you mentioned. I’ve made some amazing contacts that way. Some of the networking relationships I am trying to form are place I only visit once a year if that. It’s hard for me to make that personal connection.

        I do want to emphasize that when I do post/ email/ contact a business with a positive review, they deserve it. I do it whenever I can. Everyone should get recognition when it’s due and earned.

        I’ve been working in a business setting for more years than I care to admit. While all jobs require networking, I obviously only networked with people in my profession. Volunteering has opened up a new learning experience for me. I am normally pretty quiet so I am enjoying the challenge of trying something new. I’ve had a pretty good learning curve with (my) out of the norms networking but I still have so many questions.

        While my AAM question probably should have been common sense, I had hoped maybe there was another way to pack a lot of thank yous and requests into a one time thank you letter. I realize that I need to stick to my gut instinct and not combine the praise and networking. As I said before my heart was in the right place but there is a time and a place for both situations.

        1. Wakeens Teapots LTD*

          We are soul sisters.

          I am new to all of this also, the volunteer part, just the last three years. I have been in business one zillion years and networking business is second nature to me – but that is national and just, different. It took me almost a year to realize that I needed to take what I knew about business networking and adapt it into what would be appropriate for community networking.

          So my local independent pharmacist, whom we have patronized for 20 years, I say “hey listen fred, wanted to let you know that I am [title] of [organization]. If there is ever anything we can do for you, please let me know.”

          6 months later, there WAS something we could do for him, and I did it and then if we need something, I feel comfortable to ask.

          Mostly, I would rather be sitting home watching Netflix but the world we live in, you know?

    2. Hungry*

      It’s all about your tone and approach. Maybe Alison thought the way you were describing your plan sounded too direct and transactional. But Wakeens Teapots LTD does describe an approach similar to the one I’ve used. You have to be careful, but there’s a way to do it. It calls for good judgment. You do have to be careful. I have managed an arrangement with a restaurant near one of our facilities that has beneficial for all parties, so I know it can be done.

      Talking to the owner, I learned that she gets requests almost daily from people who she’s never heard of who want something for nothing. But if you frequent the restaurant, tip generously, and steer business their way when you can, a relationship can develop.

      1. OP3*

        OP3 here. Hungry thank you for replying. Yes I have learned that any business constantly gets networking requests. I’m happy to hear of your success. I’m glad to hear different points of view on AAM

    3. Foreign Octopus*

      It’s always good to get a second opinion if you’re hesitating about something, and Alison’s almost always right on the money. I have to admit that I might have seen scenes of this type of networking in films and TV where it would work, but real life is always more complicated.

      I do think though that if your organisation requires a restaurant in the future then you can definitely reach out to the owner and say something like:

      “I always have a wonderful time when I’m in your restaurant and immediately thought of you when this opportunity came up.”

      It’s not networking per se, but it’s an idea for the future.

      And no matter if you can network or not, at least you’ve found a great place to have dinner.

      1. OP3*

        OP3 here – yes I agree about the movies! I don’t always deal with restaurants. My 9 to 5 job is always looking for ideas for meetings, team building; add on top volunteering; and a few other instances where networking would be beneficial – I was trying to network everything in a thank you letter. I need to focus on task. And to answer your question yes I have found a few amazing places to have diner.

    4. Bubbles*

      I do similar networking as I hold 4 events a year to bring food vendors to our facility. I’m always on the lookout for food trucks and vendors who do mobile catering. My husband and I also like to try new restaurants and keep a personal list of which ones we like the best. I’m always careful about sharing my positive feedback and review because that helps restaurants so much.

      I have one particular lunchtime restaurant that I go to. They had a really outstanding kids lunch so I would take my son during school breaks. My son is quite the character and dramatic about some things, and he loved his lunch so much he wanted to leave the review himself. We did a combination post on Yelp and Facebook with me sharing my review and then my son typing his review. The restaurant owner was so appreciative that he also gave us a coupon and he tends to give my son a free dessert every now and again. The wait staff all know my name so when I walk in, it’s a bit like Cheers’ greeting. “Hi, Bubbles!” Which is awesome because my name is really hard to pronounce and they all made the effort to get it right. And they remember my lunch order because I always get the same thing. :)

      I’ve tried to cultivate that kind of relationship with the business I engage with most often. If I can appropriately work it in, I also tell them I am the one who books for these events, which are well-known in our area. Usually while talking, I will ask if they have ever participated in that event or similar ones. If they show interest, I tell them I’d love to keep them in mind for when I setup the next one.

    5. Rose*

      As a fundraiser, I’m going to diverge a little from what others have commented and argue that your instincts were partially correct! When I started fundraising I learned very quickly to get over any awkwardness about being direct and asking for what you need–in-kind gifts, cash, nonprofit discounts, etc.. I live in a city with a strong social-responsibility corporate culture and I’ve secured lovely donations from tons of businesses just by being straightforward and friendly. You don’t necessarily need to have a personal connection (of course it helps). But I would never send this kind of networking message without having a specific ask in mind–e.g. if I’m in the middle of securing items for a silent auction and I am personally patronizing a business that feels like a good fit, I’ll go up to someone before I leave and ask if I can send them some information about my event. In your case, I might respond to their email by mentioning my event and asking if they could direct me to the person in charge of community relations. The worst that can happen is they say no.

      1. OP3*

        OP3 here
        Rose thank you for your point of view. I’m new and I’m a volunteer. I’m kind of figuring things out as I go. I appreciated hearing your point of view.

    6. Blue Eagle*

      Wait, instead of using the discount for your personal meal, you used it for a group meal? If so, it would seem that you are taking advantage of the business owner’s generosity. Please tell me I misunderstood your post.

      1. OP3*

        OP3 here. You misunderstood/ I wrote incorrectly. I went out with a group of friends but spoke with the manager beforehand so the discount would only be applied to my meal.

        1. Blue Eagle*

          Oh, thanks so much for clarifying. Good luck to you in future transactions with this business owner so that they will help you in your fundraising efforts!

  14. Stress Eater*

    OP 1 – Please do say something about this, I’m sure you’re not the only one who feels this way. This is highly inappropriate and oversteps boundaries.

    I’ve spent years struggling with depression, low self-esteem, body image issues, and a very unhealthy relationship with food. The shaming nature of these emails would be very upsetting and triggering for me. If I want health advice, I’ll ask for it – and really, no one has the right to offer me this kind of unsolicited advice. This sort of thing is between me and my doctors. I’d be angry if work tried to get in on it too.

  15. voyager1*

    Re LW1: For me a fitness room at my employers has meant 20yr old equipment that may or may not work. Showers that may or may not be that clean. Several of us at my current employer had to fight to get a shower fixed and a moldy shower curtain replaced. As for wellness programs. I had employer who would bring a health insurance company sponsored nurse who would do “optional wellness checks.” This included checking blood pressure and weight. Your “healthy score” was determined off those two factors. Weight was used to determine BMI.

    I am going to be blunt. I felt what that company did was too far and something to truly be outraged over. I say this as a 40yr old white dude who takes care of himself. I run 10-20 miles a week and ride my bike sometimes everyday of the week. I am totally a MAMIL and wear that as a badge of honor.

    People need to understand that “fat” by society’s standard and healthy for an individual are generally mutually exclusive. There is way too much body shaming and it seems social media makes it more pervasive.

    As for the emails, I would just set up a filter to tank them.

    1. Quill*

      Currently in the market for a yoga course I can actually make it to that is acutally 1) scientific about what they do 2) accessable to me as someone with a bumper crop of arthritis and tendon issues. There are poses I cannot do, poses that I can do with extreme adjustments, etc. It’s highly unlikely that one that my workplace invested in would fit my needs but I would at least hope that the environment it was offered in was clean!

      1. pancakes*

        I’m not sure if “Yoga with Adriene” would suit your needs but a lot of people like her videos and they’re free via Youtube.

  16. Baja*

    Oh wow. I think OP 1 is wildly overreacting and was shocked by the advice, which I think could get OP fired. OP works for a company that includes an onsite fitness center and is fundamentally opposed to its very mission and offended by its emails. Pretty clear cut overreaction.

    1. Crivens!*

      I can’t imagine how objecting in a professional manner to dangerous and unhealthy diet spam emails could get OP fired.

    2. Jedi Squirrel*

      Reread the post. The emails are accusatory and moralizing. This is not an overreaction. It’s not your employer’s business what you do or don’t eat over the holidays. And since these emails go to everyone in the company, they are potentially going to people who have eating disorders.

      And if your employer fires you for complaining about these types of emails, your employer is a jerk.

      1. Baja*

        When part if your company is a fitness center and its staff are internal employees, this is an overreaction to their emails. Not entirely unlike the OP who worked for a publication and got bent out if shape when the company, which included IT, tested for phishing with a classic internet clickbait link.

        1. Colette*

          I don’t think the OP works at a fitness center. I think the company the OP works at has a fitness center on site for their employees, which may or may not be staffed by employees. (It probably isn’t – in my experience, non-fitness companies contract out the actual running of the fitness center.)

        2. Cookie Captain*

          The fitness center is in the building, not part of the company. It’s supposed to be a perk, not an imposition.

          And shame-y crap like “a moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips” is not something any fitness center staff should be saying–it’s not the sort of messaging that happens at my gym except in one-on-one “tough love” coaching. Mostly, it’s alienating and obnoxious even to people who are absolutely watching what they eat.

          I don’t associate that sort of thing with developing healthy habits. I associate it with “I’m gonna hang up the phone now, Grandma.”

        3. Kelly L.*

          So I have to love every email ever sent by another employee of my workplace? Even the manifestos sent by the designated blowhard who sends out pages-long diatribes every few days?

          1. Dot Warner*

            Have you tried talking to that person’s supervisor? Regardless of what the manifestos are about, it sounds like that person needs more to do!

        4. Curmudgeon in California*

          No, it’s not. It is a perfectly justifiable reaction to inaccurate, shaming and cliche emails that should never be sent in a professional context. If you wouldn’t put up with it from a private gym or family, why should you put up with it from your employer?

    3. Fit to Burst*

      I think you are wildly overreacting (fired? Come on!), have a very weird idea of what a fitness centre is supposed to be for, and have fundamentally failed to comprehend the issue in this question. You are also adding your own gloss to the content of the letter – OP does not say they are offended, that’s your perception.

      Try rereading what the letter actually says, and the advice given, with an open and questioning mind. You might learn something!

    4. Washi*

      I do think this comment is a good example of the kind of reaction OP might get. Some people really can’t conceive of exercise not being connected to fitness and will be astonished that their helpful calorie-counting tips are not appreciated.

      Baja, there’s a world of difference between offering people a way to move their bodies at a fitness center and sending emails promoting weight loss and diet culture.

      1. Baja*

        I understand. I do. And I think you are correct — my reaction likely is what the OP can expect. It’s clear the fitness center isn’t a separate corporate entity but is part of OP’s company, and the emails are from internal staff (“It’s not anybody else’s business how a colleague eats or exercises…”) So, with that in mind, I still maintain that there is risk in saying these emails are “inappropriate” “actively harmful” and “disturbing.”

        1. yala*

          ” It’s clear the fitness center isn’t a separate corporate entity but is part of OP’s company, ”

          I mean…it’s not clear. In fact, that seems like a different thing entirely.

          Like…I work at a university and having access to the gym is a perk we get, but they never send us e-mails counting food calories.

          Maybe there’s a risk if HR is unreasonable. But there’s also a very real risk behind those e-mails. I don’t know why you have scare quotes around inappropriate and actively harmful, because that’s exactly what these e-mails are.

          “*insert food* has x calories. If I eat it, then I’ll have to *insert exercise* for y minutes to Work It Off” is very much a common start to a spiral of disordered eating. For many folks in recovery, they need to actively avoid thinking of food in terms of numbers (calories, minutes at the treadmill, etc) at all, or risk a relapse. These e-mails are directly playing into a very unhealthy thought process.

          Even without actively having an eating disorder, “I’ll have to jog for 20 minutes if I have a cookie” is not a healthy way of approaching food.

          1. Quill*

            You also, spoiler alert, need a number of calories and nutrients for sleeping, sitting at your desk typing, thermoregulation, growing new hair and fingernails, chewing your food… every cell in our body runs on glucose and the entire idea of having a zero net balance of calories in, calories out, betrays a complete misunderstanding of how the body works.

            /endrant from my cell and molec course.

        2. lawyer*

          So I actually am a person who received emails like this from a company wellness coordinator and contacted our HR to object. And guess what? I didn’t get fired! Instead, our HR’s response was, “wow, we hadn’t thought about that and we’ll work with the company to make sure the messaging changes in the future.” And it did. The emails we get now are focused on (i) advertising a range of opt-in programs that we offer onsite, from Weight Watchers to AA to group fitness and (ii) making people aware of wellness related benefits that we offer, including free vaccinations and discounted access to a healthy food delivery service.

          1. Erykah Badu*

            Thanks for this perspective. It reminds me of a story I read once (maybe Lean In?) where executives never considered that pregnant women might need parking closer to the office because none of them had ever been pregnant. Sometimes people are just ignorant, not malicious, and would appreciate the knowledge to make better decisions.

        3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          No. You’re reaction is the outlier here. You’re not going to get fired for saying “I don’t like this wording. It can cause people to hurt themselves.”

          And I’ll drag them to court if they want to fire me and my documented eating disorder for voicing a concern about their company literature that’s actively harmful to certain people.

        4. cmcinnyc*

          I’ve worked at a few places that had a corporate gym. In no way was it “part of” the company (one was a bank, one was a publisher that had no fitness/health division or titles). It was the 90s, it was the new cool perk. We could take fitness classes before work/at lunch/after work onsite for a very, very low fee (compared to joining an outside gym). I don’t think there’s any way to assume from the letter that this gym is more than that.

    5. Joielle*

      You think OP could get fired for politely pointing out that the on-site gym’s marketing emails aren’t having the intended effect? I think Alison’s script is quite mild – I’d go even stronger than that, personally. You don’t have to be “fundamentally opposed” to the “mission” of a gym (which is what, exactly?) to understand that shaming people into exercising doesn’t work and is damaging. It has nothing to do with “offense.” I think you’ve probably worked in some toxic places if you think OP would be fired over this.

    6. Dot Warner*

      I doubt it’d get OP fired unless they’re REALLY nasty about it. You make a good point about culture mismatch, though – if exercise and healthy eating are important parts of the culture at this company and OP isn’t interested in these things, maybe they’d be happier working somewhere else.

      1. SarahTheEntwife*

        You can be interested in exercise and healthy eating without counting calories or thinking that certain foods are good and bad. I want to exercise to increase strength and endurance and because it can be good for preventing depression flare-ups, and my primary goal in trying new forms of exercise is to find something I’ll actually enjoy rather than something that’s a suitable punishment for having eaten food. I want to eat more vegetables because it makes me feel better and I enjoy cooking if I have the energy for it. Emails yelling at me for enjoying a holiday feast make me want to eat hot fudge sauce with a spoon just to annoy them.

        1. CheeryO*

          +1. I’m a pretty hardcore runner by most people’s standards, and I eat lots of whole grains, fruit and veg, etc. It’s like 90% for my mental well-being and 10% for the physical benefits. I had an eating disorder as a teenager, and it’s taken me a long time to get to a place where I have a healthy relationship with food and exercise. I wouldn’t necessarily be triggered by these emails at this point in my life, but I wouldn’t like them and would definitely ask to opt out.

        2. yala*


          “my primary goal in trying new forms of exercise is to find something I’ll actually enjoy”

          Off-topic, but for you or anyone else, might I suggest rollerskating? I’ve always hated running, jogging, cycling. Most aerobic exercise is just Not For Me. But skating around a rink for a few hours with my headphones on is nirvana.

          1. yala*

            I realize now this might be veering into Exercise Debate, and I don’t want to do that. I just really like roller skating and get a little giddy trying to spread the love.

            1. Quill*

              *Sighs in memory* I loved to roller blade but alas, this requires roller blades and a modicum of ankle and knee stability…

        3. Quill*

          I just want to go home, do yoga where no one can see me failing to balance, and eat my microwaved spaghetti squash in peace! No more food shaming, no more excercise shaming, NO MORE WEIGHT LOSS COMPETITIONS.

          OP’s company should really think twice about the whole attitude the onsite gym is marketing itself with.

        4. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

          Yes, this.

          I had a gym membership for several years, and once or twice had to tell well-meaning trainers who started a conversation with “if you do X instead of what you’re doing now, it will help you lose weight” with “this isn’t a weight loss program, it’s a strength and endurance program.”

          They had *never spoken to me before* but were assuming, because I’m female and not skinny, that my goal must be to lose weight, and therefore that I hadn’t thought about what I was doing before I sat down on that Nautilus machine.

          At least when I put it that way, they got it and left me alone, because while I didn’t look like a body-builder, “strength training” is a concept they understood. If I’d been there exercising entirely because it was good for my mental health, who knows?

        5. Curmudgeon in California*


          Part of me would want to buy a pumpkin pie and go eat it it front of that fitness center person with suitable expletives between bites. Food shaming is toxic, I don’t care whether it’s commercials, family, or employers.

        6. Dot Warner*

          Don’t get me wrong, whoever’s sending these emails sounds annoying AF. But if OP gets told “we don’t have a problem with this and it isn’t going to change” then that gives them important information about the corporate culture and whether or not this is a place they’d be comfortable continuing to work.

      2. biobotb*

        Where does the OP say they’re not interested in eating well and exercising? What does that have to do with objecting to moralizing emails that encourage unhealthy thinking patterns?

        1. Dot Warner*

          They don’t – that’s why I said IF they aren’t interested. Even if they are, it might still be worth re-evaluating the culture fit, depending on how their objections are received.

    7. EPLawyer*

      The OP never said they were fundamentally opposed to the mission of the fitness center. They said they didn’t use it. Not that no one should use it.

      The OP was irked by the emails. Irked does not equal offended.

      The OP had a perfectly valid proportional response to the emails, deletion and wondering if something could be done to stop the spread of harmful information. Absolutely nothing is fireable here.

    8. Wakeens Teapots LTD*

      You don’t seem to know anything about disordered eating, what it is, how it is triggered and how life threatening it is.

      My 63 year old husband (hey, did you know that 63 year old men can develop disordered eating? I didn’t. I was living in the house with someone suffering from disordered eating and didn’t know), my 63 year old husband has been going through it this year and it has been brutal. We are maybe on the other side but he has relapses.

      His disordered eating caused him to faint, cold on the floor, in April. I thought he was dead. Lights, sirens 911. Collapsing broke his shoulder which lead to a shoulder replacement, which, btw is *hell*, but not as bad as actually trying to get his eating back on track. I have been counting his calories, gently suggesting, suggesting stronger than more gently and doing everything I can to get food into him and to get him away from exactly the thinking that this email the OP wrote in about. It. Is. Deadly. to someone like him and how many other people.*

      Don’t wide broadcast a potentially dangerous message, especially with no opt in.

      *husband is better, since I know kind people will inquire. This is going to be a life long battle though, I see. I keep an eye and when his thinking seems to be veering stinking again, try to guide him back. He’s gained some weight back and eats at least one largish healthy meal a day, as well as some supplement drinks. He’s alive.

      1. Laura H.*

        I’m so glad that husband is getting care he needs.

        Eating disorders can hit anyone. Anyone! And an email dragnet like OP 1 mentioned could very well have dire consequences for someone in the midst of a disordered eating episode, someone recovering from one, or even someone like me who likes food a bit too much at times.

        While harm isn’t the sender’s intent, the messages have that potential consequence.

        1. Wakeens Teapots LTD*

          Journey I surely never thought I would be on! Watching someone potentially kill themselves because their mind is lying to them. Your goals get real simple: get healthy-ish food, as many calories in them (without food pushing because that backfires) as you can.

          I remember how excited I was the day I hit 800. It was that serious. (“I don’t want bread. Bread is bad for you.” , “okay honey, bread isn’t bad for you, this is good bread with good grains but just take the roast beef off and eat that then if that is what you want” << while internally screaming "nothing is bad for you! JUST EAT!")

          So yeah, do not send my husband an email telling him he has to exercise his Thanksgiving dinner off. I am lucky to get Thanksgiving dinner in him to begin with.

      2. Old Biddy*

        This! My 89 year old dad developed some disordered eating habits a few years ago. He had an extremely enlarged prostate and undiagnosed congestive heart failure, and he got it into his head that he should lose weight to feel better. (He was not overweight) So he would not eat for much of the day. He also wasn’t in the habit of drinking water and was also trying to drink less liquids so he wouldn’t have to go to the bathroom all the time. As a result, he had a few bad falls, several emergency room visits and an emergency prostate surgery. Eating more wouldn’t have prevented the surgery but it might’ve helped with some of the falls.

        1. Wakeen Teapots, LTD*

          So scary!

          What I have come to think is that men, at least those of older generations, have a unique vulnerability because they haven’t acquired the information that culturally came to women of the same generations. A few years ago, my husband successfully lost weight on one of those “buy all of your prepackaged food from us and just follow the directions for our shitty meals and diet bars” plans. I HATE those things but kept my mouth shut because it did truly work for him, and he did change his eating habits (to what appeared to be the positive) afterward.

          But! He never picked up anything about calories or idk freaking nutrition doing it that way. Much belatedly I realized his brain had gone to “food = bad for me, no food = good for me”. The first couple months after the fall, he honestly thought I was trying to harm or sabotage him as I was coaxing food into him. Freaking WEIRD time for me let me tell you. (this was co-existing with depression which I got was able to get him treated for and that helped)

          Point being: knowledge base zero. Women have our own unique challenges with food (hello culture and patriarchy) , but I never realized how some older men can be vulnerable because they have no experience and zero knowledge base.

      3. Filosofickle*

        I’m so sorry, and glad he’s doing better.

        My dad is in his 70s. He’s had disordered eating, and a healthy dose of body dysmorphia, for much of my life. It sucks to watch. Luckily it’s never gotten severe enough to drop him under 120 but of course he is convinced he’s overweight. Food/weight shame is the most dysfunctional part of my family culture. It has affected all of us in different ways.

        1. Wakeen Teapots, LTD*

          I am so sorry.

          The appreciation I have gained for the struggle with food through this. I was reasonably well read on the subject prior (fortunately!) but the house of mirrors of this stuff can’t be appreciated until you are living it. I STILL can’t get him to wear the proper size clothes. Even getting him to clothes that are right sized for him is a struggle (but we are getting there. extreme patience required.)

    9. epi*

      It really is not an overreaction.

      Public health professional here. Your comment shows a pretty clear cut misunderstanding of what constitutes good or appropriate messaging about health and wellness. Please don’t posture as an expert when you’re not one, just because you don’t like the OP’s question. They are right about this.

    10. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

      I’m offended by how dopey the phrase “a moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips” is. It’s just so un-smart it makes me dislike the sender.

        1. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

          For sure!

          Some of those phrases are coming back – like in my org I’ve heard “teamwork makes the dream work” when we have good cross-department collaboration.

          But “on the hips” – ack.

          1. emmelemm*

            No one says that to men, of course. (Because most men don’t accumulate their extra fat on their hips.) So it’s an extra side of sexism with your condescension.

    11. kittymommy*

      Um no. My org has an onsite fitness center. We also have a wellness program (and opt-in, voluntary only wellness “challenges”), offer classes, walking trail and even sponsor various charity runs, etc. We have a farmers market every week and on a weekly basis, and to help promote the market, the wellness coordinator sends a “recipe of the week” via email. One thing that is never done is policing what people eat, assigning moral decisions on food (good vs bad food), or using trite phrases to judge employees behavior with regards to diet.

      1. Third or Nothing!*

        Oh that sounds like heaven. I would do ALL of those things and be super thrilled about it! Y’all hiring? ;)

          1. Third or Nothing!*

            Wow, I was not expecting government! From reading this blog I have the impression that everything is as cheap as possible because, you know, taxpayers and whatnot.

    12. yala*

      I don’t know where you work that you feel it’s even moderately appropriate for the office to send out memos telling people that if they eat delicious holiday food they’ll have to “work it off” to be healthy.

    13. OP1*

      OP1 here! I suppose I can’t say it with absolute certainty, but I’m 99.9% sure that I wouldn’t get fired for raising concerns. TBTB at my company are all good people who try to create a genuinely positive/supportive employee culture and tend to be receptive to feedback, so of course there’s never a guarantee that it’ll change, but I’d be really surprised if I got in trouble for broaching it in a professional way.

      (Also, I like our fitness center and I’m definitely not opposed to its mission! But I don’t think that these messages meet that mission.)

      1. Blueberry*

        I’m pretty sure the head of this thread is the only person, or one of a very few, who managed to get “opposed to the mission of the fitness center, how evil” out of your sensible objection. This internet fruit is cheering you on!

    14. fposte*

      None of that is in the OP, though. She doesn’t like this one kind of message one employee sends. The fact that that’s singled out means that the other employees send messages that she’s fine with, and there’s not the slightest indication she’s “opposed to its very mission.”

      Sure, at some workplaces if you say anything other than “Everything’s wonderful all the time and we love being here and wish we could just stay here all the time!” you’re a troublesome complainer. But at most workplaces something like this would be akin to saying “Hey, could we have some gluten-free snacks in the vending machine?” It’s a low-key reasonable request about something that’s not central to the work.

    15. Le Sigh*

      Aka “this doesn’t offend me to it’s not harmful to anyone.” When people are telling you that this is harmful to those with eating disorders and others you could just take our word for it.

    16. YouGottaThrowtheWholeJobAway*

      OP1 is doing the right thing here and it is an inappropriate overreach for the company to be sending these emails — there could be staff members with eating disorders, or close family or friends who face food issues. This content is actively harmful, and it does not even contain any actual peer-reviewed research (from what we’ve been provided).

      These emails are not coming from doctors, they’re coming from someone who works at an office gym. The standards for trainers attached to gyms are pretty low. Unless these emails are coming from a legitimate health care provider, aka someone with an MD or a licensed dietician with a graduate level education, they need to knock it off. It’s not an overreaction at all and it’s not an issue of being “offended,” it’s an issue of worsening a real health crisis for some employees. Maybe you are fortunate enough to not know anyone who has been through an eating disorder and actively still fights one, but your comments are pretty insensitive and cruel.

      It’s fine to send a general push to come to the gym for classes or specials, and have general notes about the holidays and getting in workouts, but the specifics and the “good/bad” aspect are what makes it a bridge too far for a professional setting.

    17. Oryx*

      Saying “Moralizing food and promoting disordered eating behaviors” is not nearly the same as being “fundamentally opposed” to the mission of a fitness center.

      My work offers fitness classes and wellness workshops. We never ever get emails telling us how many calories we need to burn in order to eat a piece of pumpkin pie. As someone who uses her personal platform to speak out against diet culture, I would absolutely talk to HR if we ever did start getting these emails.

    18. biobotb*

      OP is clearly not “fundamentally opposed” to the very mission of a fitness center. This claim is a clear-cut exaggeration.

    19. Parenthetically*

      Sending an email saying, “Hey, fitness center coordinator, encouraging work colleagues to make exercise a punishment for eating, as well as many of the other messages being sent out (such as A, B, and C), could cause harm to employees living with or recovering from eating disorders; let’s rethink the drive-by advice” is in absolutely no way “fundamentally opposed” to the mission of a gym. What an utterly bizarre thing to say.

  17. Hiring Mgr*

    Personally I don’t think there’s anything wrong with what #3 is suggesting. That’s what networking is all about after all. Not sure I follow the reasoning behind why it’s a bad idea – it sounds like you’re offering them potential business and if they don’t want to participate in a fundraiser you’re still just a random customer so there’s no pressure on their end.. Maybe i’m off base ?

    1. SarahTheEntwife*

      Unless I’m misunderstanding what OP3 was going for with the fundraiser, it sounds like they’d be asking the restaurant to donate stuff. Which could then certainly be good for business because more people might learn about them/ think positively about them, but it’s primarily asking for a favor.

      1. OP3*

        OP3 here – Hiring Mgr and Saratheentwife -I was trying to network for various reasons – a fundraiser, my 9to5 job is always looking for suggestions and a few other networking reasons. I wasn’t clear in my letter but when I originally wanted to respond to the restaurant, I was trying to get across a scenario of – maybe we can help each other, I have numerous places where we could network. In some cases my correspondence with the restaurant/ business its the only opportunity I would have to “meet” with someone higher up to introduce myself. A few people have mentioned that I should say thank you and at another time follow up with “I corresponded with you recently about xyz. I’m participating in a fundraiser, work meeting, networking group – can I send you more information about it” Something like that. Thank you both for your comments

        1. Alex*

          My take on it is that I think you can use this as an opportunity to introduce yourself to the manager, and if you do continue going there/bringing your company there for meetings, it’s natural for you to get to know each other. Only then would I suggest asking for this kind of favor from them – I work for a nonprofit and once I get to know a business owner through a personal connection, then it generally comes up organically in conversation of where I work. Then, if it feels like an alignment of our values, they will usually suggest “hey how can we partner?”

  18. TimeTravelR*

    #2: I once received a packet of extremely personal papers in with the reports I was supposed to review. I just wrapped it back up and returned it to the contractor with a note something like, “I don’t think these were meant to be included.” He thanked me (profusely) and we never spoke of it again. It was something that likely definitely embarrassed him that I knew, but it’s not my place to talk about it. I hope OP’s employee feels the same way.

  19. AvonLady Barksdale*

    LW #2: I have been the recipient of a bunch of emails not intended for me, and while I don’t always put them completely out of my mind, I don’t ever discuss them. As Alison says, if your report is a decent person, she will never speak of it.

    I’ll tell you a fun story. Through a friend, I met a woman who played in a small volunteer orchestra. I wanted to see the concert, so we exchanged emails and arranged to meet up afterwards. For some super weird reason that I never figured out, she emailed me on top of a chain of emails between her and her family… about her newly discovered pregnancy. So I emailed her and said that Gmail (or Yahoo or whatever it was) was super weird and I know she didn’t intend for me to see that information, but I wanted her to know that it had happened. She was really upset (not with me), and asked me not to tell our mutual friend– who was one of her work colleagues, and she absolutely was not ready to tell work about her pregnancy. I assured her that I wouldn’t breathe a word of it and I never did– never have, and the kid is ten years old. This woman barely knew me. I barely knew her. But (most of the time) I’m not an asshole and while I never forgot that incident (it was pretty nuts), I filed it away. Unless she’s out to get you for some reason, I think you’re ok.

  20. Spidey Cents & Sensibility*

    As to these emails, if they cannot be stopped…how about filtering them by writing an email rule? Or, plain have any fitness emails put into a folder you never look at? Just hit delete.

  21. LadyDisdain*

    #4, if it’s the sort of call where no one is screen sharing, most of the others on the call probably aren’t even looking at the tab.

    If it’s the sort where one person is sharing a Powerpoint, please don’t share your webcam. It can be distracting for those of us with ADHD, and if there’s enough people on the call, it contributes to lag. Very annoying when so many people have unnecessarily turned on their web cams that the powerpoint is a whole slide behind on my screen than it is on the presenters!

  22. Something Better*

    #1 – I’d be very specific about the problem. “It’s dangerous to tie fitness & health to eating habits. It’s one thing to mention what the fitness center offers and what programs are available and another to imply judgment about people’s eating choices. The latter is dangerous to those with eating disorders or body issues, and specifying what is “good” or “bad” to eat may be counter to what someone’s own doctor is recommending based on their own health needs. I don’t think the company really wants to go down that road.”

  23. yala*

    LW1, I’m disgusted! I can’t imagine sending workers off to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday with an admonishment of “remember how Fattening And Bad all these delicious foods are!” Even without the very real possibility of causing a harmful spiral in someone who has struggled with disordered eating, it’s just pissing on the parade for everyone.

    I imagine they’ll do the same thing again with winter holidays coming up. What a lousy way to make people feel. Food shaming is just gross.

    I hope that you can opt out, at the very least.

  24. OP1*

    OP1 here! Alison, thanks so much for your response, and thank you to the commenters for your additional insight and suggestions for language. It’s good to know that most people had the same reaction as me to the nature of these messages. I’m going to think a little more about who specifically would be the best person to talk to and take it from there.

    And in case anyone needs an extra reminder today — it’s not “good” food and “bad” food, it’s just food and all our bodies need it! Take care of yourselves.

    1. Jedi Squirrel*

      And in case anyone needs an extra reminder today — it’s not “good” food and “bad” food, it’s just food and all our bodies need it!

      I love this approach. My personal philosophy is that there are foods I can eat in large quantities (lettuce, bananas) and foods I can eat in small quantities (french fries). But that’s my personal philosophy and I only mention it to people around me if they ask. “Thanks, but I already had a bit of chocolate today!” I would never force it on others.

      That reminds me, glorious child #2 used to love to eat lettuce. He could eat an entire head in a day. He would just go in the fridge, pull off a leave and walk around munching on it. It was cheaper than potato chips, at least!

      I hope you get a good outcome to this situation!

      1. Quill*

        I now really, really want some carrot sticks, the primary snack of my childhood. (Sometimes it was carrot sticks and pretzels! Because you want carrot to get on your pretzels and pretzel salt on your carrots, I guess.)

    2. Rock Prof*

      I encountered a similar problem to yours. On my campus, we had emails from HR about “wellness” going to the blanket all-campus email group, which included faculty, staff, and students. We’d also get information about how to regulate our servings during the holidays and calories and all that. Some of if was really unscientifically justified (like talk of good and bad calories or even pushing fad diets)!
      I sent a long response about how, particularly since these emails were not opt out-able at all, they, as a minor issue, didn’t always promote evidence-based nutrition (and we’re a university with a strong pre-health and nutrition programs, so that made me pretty annoyed!) but also could be incredibly problematic or just annoying to anyone who has had experience with an eating disorder. I got a response that whoever was sending them had never really thought about that, which I find a bit hard to believe but whatever.
      The good news is that I realized, after seeing your question, that I haven’t recieved any of these emails this semester at all! I think they might have changed their tactics (or just removed me). We’ve still be getting occasional emails about campus services, like advertising the gym and informal walking groups, which I find more appropriate than the really prescriptive stuff they were sending out. So maybe raising attention to this can actually help!

    3. Third or Nothing!*

      “And in case anyone needs an extra reminder today — it’s not “good” food and “bad” food, it’s just food and all our bodies need it! Take care of yourselves.”

      YAAAS! Preach! Also, exercise is NOT a punishment. That kind of mindset is a fast way to hate exercise and resent your gym time.

  25. lawyer*

    We have an extensive in-house wellness program (group exercise classes, optional annual mini-physicals for a discount on insurance, AA, Weight Watchers, access to a discounted healthy meal service, a variety of 4-6 week classes on stress management and related topics). A few years ago, the wellness coordinator started sending emails like this. I contacted HR to raise the same concerns the OP has, and the response was wholly positive. They got rid of those emails and the only diet-related stuff we ever saw after that was info about the availability of WW and the meal service, plus notice that they were expanding the vegetarian and vegan options in our onsite cafeteria. I definitely encourage the OP to speak up, both as a recovered anorexic and as someone who spoke out in a similar situation.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Most places realize that to actively encourage health and fitness you need a variety along with wording people respond positively to! So that feedback is critical. They want to be pushing people towards utilizing the programs not making it uncomfortable.

      It usually isn’t bootcamp style, break em down to build em up, mentality that’s wildly helpful to the general diverse population!

  26. cmcinnyc*

    My company is always trying to promote some kind of “wellness” and while the impulse is good the results are varied, to say the least. Some of the chirpy emails we get are inoffensive, but also of no real worth. Others make me think of OP#1’s situation, where I’m annoyed to get X advice I did not ask for in a work context. And others are just baffling. I haven’t bothered to speak up because with the tone and content all over the place, so there’s no one specific thing to object to. They’re clearing trying to be as inclusive and broad as possible. And they’re clearly convinced that employee wellness is something they should be addressing. But I don’t think they have any idea what that means or what’s genuinely appropriate for a (non-health, non-fitness) business to promote to its employees.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      And they’re clearly convinced that employee wellness is something they should be addressing

      It’s usually due to insurance companies who push for wellness programs. It gets your premiums lowered.

      Just a casual reminder that’s why we’re continuing to see this in workplaces more than anything. Sure they’re companies who do have it in their fundamentals organically as well but the real shove for a large chunk is that insurance discount!

  27. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    Wrong Email Recipient issue:

    As business professionals were usually taught somewhere along the lines to disregard confidential information that’s accidentally sent our way. The fact she flagged it for you as sent to the wrong person says to me that she’s probably a person with common decency!

    Ive gotten incredibly sensitive information erroneously over the years. My desire is to keep your privacy in tact. Just like my actual clients or vendors or colleagues. It’s part of my training to be a trustworthy professional.

    She would do possible harm to herself being a gossip. So unless it’s someone who struggles with professional norms, consider the case closed. She most likely has already moved passed it or is trying to bury it in her thoughts if it’s particularly gruesome details. So no need to bring it back up. At the time she responded I probably would have responded with “Thank you for alerting me, that’s rather embarrassing. I’m sorry for the oversight, I’ll be checking those email addresses better from now on.”

    Also, lots of people skim read. She may have not even digested the entire thing just enough to say “Nope nope nope not for me!” Perhaps getting your mindset to think that she probably didn’t read it all or even remember the details will help you get over your lagging concerns!

  28. Jennifer*

    OP1 – I delete most of those emails without reading them. I’m guessing a lot of the people that work with you do too.

  29. Meepmeep*

    The correct response to the shamey “health and fitness” email should be “So when are we getting our outdoor workstations, standing desks or treadmill desks, time off to go exercise, and shortened workdays to allow us more time to cook healthy food and get adequate sleep?”

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      To be fair, lots of places have standard issue standing desks! And the point of having an on site gym is to give you access to the exercise options. Not everyone is offering these things and just being all “LOL but good luck getting a chance to use them, we work you at 120% every day, all day.” Though I’m having flashbacks to the person who posted a few days ago where anyone found to attend the holiday party or having time to sign up for that company offered yoga class was on the short list to termination and deemed “not career focused”, that’s not a healthy functional environment!

      So I wouldn’t go this route but I would always give suggestions if you don’t have a standing desk or need to flex your schedule or reduce hours if that’s an issue that’s happening.

  30. surprisecanuk*

    I think the LW needs to find a way to check their voicemail at least once a week when oversees It should not be that hard. They should also warn people that they do not check it often and include their email. This debate about email vs voicemail is silly.

  31. TootsNYC*

    Re: #1

    Would it be “not done” to go to the actual person who writes those emails and say, “As someone who receives those emails, I wanted to share a thought with you about those emails. It could have this kind of effect, and I know there’s a movement among many in the wellness field to approach with a more positive tone. I just wanted to put that thought out there.”

    Is that kind of peer-to-peer feedback a bad thing?

    1. OP1*

      OP1 here! That’s definitely an option for my particular company, and might be the route I end up going. I know it wouldn’t work at every place of employment, but it’s pretty typical for mine.

      1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        Please come back with an update. I’m really interested to hear about what approach you take and how it goes

        1. Third or Nothing!*

          +1 definitely curious how this shakes out. I hope you can put a stop to those icky messages!

  32. Sarah-tonin*

    I was out of the country during a job search too. I used (and still use) a google voice number, and then in the voicemail I ask them to please email me if this is job-related.

    I still use the google voice number because I’m not going to answer a number I don’t recognize, and I work a lot so my phone is usually off anyway, but google emails you transcripts. I’ve emailed people who have left voicemails about interviews, explaining that I’m at work all day and emailing is faster, and they’ve been kind about it.

  33. PlainJane*

    On LW1: I think some workplaces get a discount in health insurance for doing things that “promote wellness,” so that may be part of what’s going on here–they’ve outsourced doing this to the people running the fitness center, who are terrible at it. Treating adults as if they actually don’t *know* how nutrition works is stupid; even if the nutrition choices made aren’t optimal, they’re usually made in full knowledge that they’re not optimal, so it becomes super-condescending to hear people act like you’re ignorant of basic facts. If they really were interested in the subject, they’d do things like helping to cut down stress levels (a known factor in health problems) and promoting a supportive atmosphere.

    Instead of just going in and saying “stop this,” maybe have some alternate suggestions–instead of scoldy e-mails, maybe they could facilitate an employee hiking club or have physical activities as part of company training days, etc. Because it may be tied to grants and/or discounts, it’s not likely to stop. But it could be done much better.

    1. Curmudgeon in California*

      “Treating adults as if they actually don’t *know* how nutrition works is stupid”

      This. When someone tells me I’m overweight, or that something is “fattening”, I get very tempted to go into an extremely over-the-top “Oh My God! I didn’t know! I’m gonna die! Aaaaaaagh! Oh woe is me! Why didn’t ANYONE EVER tell me this! It’s only all over the TV, the radio, billboards and tabloids at the supermarket checkstand, why wasn’t I told?!?” and so on.

      Seriously, I’m 58, and have been fat since puberty. I have my entire adult life littered with failed diets, bad relationship with food, fat shaming, and hatred of exercise because it’s a punishment for daring to eat more than just a few dry leaves. I probably know more about actual nutrition than most GPs, because I follow the literature on fat and health.

      The grade school diet lectures do serious harm to ordinary people, and can set off a fatal spiral in folks with eating disorders.

  34. Richard Hershberger*

    LW1: While I agree about all the comments on why these emails are a Bad Thing, I wonder why you are reading them? If we have learned anything since email went mainstream a quarter century ago, it is that many many emails are not worth reading. You probably shouldn’t just shunt these into spam, since designating internal emails as spam might send important emails there. But this doesn’t mean you have to actually read the damn things.

    1. Parenthetically*

      It’s pretty obvious to me that OP1 is thinking of others who might be more than “irked” as she is — people with eating disorders who might very reasonably be tempted to relapse into their self-harm behaviors because of the language of the emails. Just because something doesn’t bother ME specifically doesn’t mean it doesn’t have the potential to cause harm to others, and OP has an opportunity to use her voice to speak up on behalf of others who might not have the emotional or mental bandwidth to speak up for themselves.

    2. Rust1783*

      You don’t have to read virulently racist comments in a comment thread either but that puts the responsibility on you to actively ignore things that are in your face.

  35. Froglets*

    OP3, I’m not sure what type of organization you volunteer for. If it’s an organization that has volunteers in addition to paid staff, I don’t think you should be necessarily networking/asking for fundraisers on behalf of the organization unless you’ve been specifically asked. If it’s a completely volunteer-run organization, then that’s different, but at my job we’ve had issues with volunteers overstepping or over representing their involvement and this would be one of those things. We’ve definitely had a lot of great networking/opportunities given to us on behalf of our volunteers, but it’s typically always been more of a “my family member/church/close friend, etc has a business and knows I volunteer here and wants to contribute/donate” and then the employees get it set up. Most orgs have particular methods and ways they approach businesses, so it could be bad to go around that process. Again, not applicable if this is wholey volunteer-run and you’re high up in the chart, but I just wanted to let you know just in case.

    1. OP3*

      OP3 here – I volunteer for an organization where no one is paid. We are a suborganization of a bigger non profit again where no one is paid it is all volunteers. Our parent non profit is definitely more well known than the suborganization. The parent organization help where they can but the sub organization is volunteering on a skeleton crew. When we, the sub, sees an opportunity to speak about our fundraising efforts we try to take it. Due to some state laws and how the parent is organized, it is easier for us to work as two separate non profits. Please note there is no malicious intent between the parent and sub. I chose to volunteer for the sub in that it concentrates on a specific part of the parent non profit’s overall goal that is near and dear to me.

  36. Rust1783*

    To #1, I would send this fitness staff member a polite but very pointed email outlining everything you say here, and asking HIM to figure out a way for this to be an opt-in rather than opt-out email list.

    1. Observer*

      I would not put it that way. I would just assume that it’s fairly straightforward and that they haven’t done so because no one has asked, but now that someone asked OF COURSE they will accommodate this perfectly normal and reasonable request.

      It is, in fact, not complicated to do, especially if they are using any sort of membership or mailing list management software. And, I’d be willing to be that they also just never thought about the possibility that these emails could be annoying much less actively harmful to people. But even if I’m wrong about that, going in with an assumption of good faith generally works better than not. And by treating this as a straightforward thing to do, you are less likely to get drama about this BIG THING that they are being asked to do.

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