update: my out-of-control emotions are getting me in trouble at work

It’s “where are you now?” month at Ask a Manager, and all December I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past.

Remember the podcast caller who was worried about her emotional outbursts at work? Here’s the update.

In short, things got a bit better, then it got much worse, and I resigned from that job in the end.

After the podcast went on, I consciously tried to rein in my emotional outbursts and learned to get used to the parts of the job that I didn’t like (the cold-calling, for instance). I also sought guidance from several friends who had much more work experience (10-15 years) and were in the same field. For a while I did well, and my boss even promoted me a month after.

However…it went downhill after that. The promotion came with even higher expectations – even more cold calls, guessing of prospect email addresses, etc, and I started struggling again with my workload. At the same time, we got a slew of new clients that paid well, but expected much faster turnaround times – which made my boss work insane hours on weeknights and weekends (the company was understaffed). This made my boss even more easily aggravated than before whenever I struggled or under-delivered.

My boss got progressively upset at how I wasn’t turning around fast enough, and this caused more tension between us. I regret to say that there was more silent treatment, and a midnight text duel (on a Sunday!) about how irresponsible and terrible I was. The comments also got progressively personal – comments such as ‘you’re not an adult, you’re a kid’ and more comments of the entitled millenial variety. (It doesn’t help things that I was indeed the only millenial in the company for a while.)

I was called for a ‘urgent review’ where I was put on the spot and asked if I still wanted to work for the company. At first I didn’t give my boss a direct answer, and just listed out the problems I was facing, and how if those were worked out I’ll still stay on. The condition I was given to stay was to apologize to them about everything that I’ve done, admit that I’m just a kid that disrespected them and to follow what they say from that day forward.

I didn’t want to do that in the heat of the moment, so I resigned on the spot – without another job lined up. Although my employment contract states a months’ notice, I was given 2 weeks and my portfolio was ‘spot-checked’ on my last day.

I did write my (now-ex) boss a note to smooth things out later, and doing that required me to swallow my pride and be completely accountable for my role in the communication/job breakdown. Me and my ex-boss are now in somewhat professional terms, though I’ve been keeping some distance from her just to recover from all the drama that happened.

I took several weeks off after resigning to relax, recover and detach myself from work and reflect on what happened. During this time I had supportive friends that I could safely process feelings with, and with their support I started job-searching again. They also offered me tips on how to control my emotions when I interviewed with potential companies.

I started my new role in January – in an in-house position that involved much more of my core experience (writing). No sales, cold-calls or email-hunting is needed for this role – though if it is needed at some point in the future, I now know a little more about what I should do.

My new firm is a larger multi-national and has a lot more structure (and built-in boundaries) to how work is done, which I felt was just what I needed at this point of time. It’s a clean slate – a place where I can form new habits about managing emotions in the office. My new boss so far has been very encouraging, and he made it clear from the get-go that we are encouraged to process our emotions – just that it needs to be only for a moment, and then we should move on to ‘now what can I do to solve it’. Having this clear process spelled out from him was something that I really appreciated.

I’ve read the comments that were posted when I did the podcast back in August. Some of the commenters pointed out that I had a major problem with how I handled my emotions in work, that what I said was insubordinate, etc. I had a knee-jerk reaction when reading those comments – but as I’m now removed from the situation, I realized that they were right. I couldn’t control the way that my boss responded to me, but I can certainly learn how to control my own responses and I look forward to practicing and improving in this skill in my new workplace.

{ 124 comments… read them below }

  1. Mockingdragon*

    Holy shit though! A person with perfect robotic emotional control would still have had a bad time in that awful environment. Do not put this all on yourself! Best of luck going forward but getting out of there sounds like a gift.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      That’s what I was thinking. The boss and the company failed big time. Sheesh. Even someone who rocks at the type of work they were doing isn’t going to thrive under that kind of petty management.

    2. LGC*

      Yeah, like – Caller, you might have “out of control” (your words) emotions, but it also sounds like your old company was awful (at least to me). It sounds like an extremely high pressure environment, and your emotional control was only one of MANY factors in this.

      I’m glad you’re working on yourself, but the problems with that job sounded MUCH larger than you.

    3. Lord Ye old*

      Agree. I also loathe that the boss blamed all the issues on OP being a Millenial and the solution being to shut up and do everything older people tell him.
      Like WTF

    4. Elenna*

      This! Some of your reactions may have been disproportionate, but also your former company sounds like a toxic shitfire.

    5. MCMonkeyBean*

      Yeah, I can not imagine any behavior from them could justify being asked to “admit that I’m just a kid that disrespected them and to follow what they say from that day forward.” Like wtf?

      As for the emotions, I know they said before therapy wasn’t an option but I really hope they have a chance to look into that more. I’m not trying to armchair diagnose and there certainly isn’t enough information to think this is the case–but just in case this is relevant/helpful information: I am currently looking into whether I might have ADHD and I was surprised to see that some of the listed symptoms involve things like feeling unreasonable levels of frustration. I actually quit my last job because I found I was unreasonably emotional whenever they gave me a new assignment and I knew that my emotions were not in line with the situation so I thought that was a sign of burnout… but apparently it may have been ADHD and now I’m questioning whether I would have been happy at my previous company if I had been getting treated earlier!

      All this to say, it sounds like this company and boss had a lot of problems but if it’s possible it could really help the OP to talk to someone and work on processing their own pattern of behavior.

      Good luck!

  2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

    “The condition I was given to stay was to apologize to them about everything that I’ve done, admit that I’m just a kid that disrespected them and to follow what they say from that day forward.”

    I don’t know the details of what LW did, but it’s impossible for it to have been simultaneously minor enough to permit continued employment AND major enough to warrant this ritual humiliation.

    I’m so glad you got out, LW, and that you’ve grown and learned.

    1. CoveredInBees*

      I’ve worked in offices where understaffing was an issue and basically you’d have to burn down the building to get fired because they really, really didn’t want to deal with hiring a new person since they knew there’d likely be an even bigger gap in coverage.

    2. MissDisplaced*

      I’ve been in the work force since 1985 and I would NEVER make that kind of apology. Ever. I would’ve rather pulled my fingernails out one by one first before I’d debase myself like that.

      So… while some of this terrible situation was on you OP, I highly doubt all of it was. First, it sounded like the role was a really poor fit if you hate cold call sales. And it sounds like a poor fit for someone new to the workplace as well. I’m not really understanding why you didn’t just quit sooner, or why they didn’t fire you quickly instead of stringing this along, but I’m glad you’re seeing a better side of work now.

    3. TooTiredToThink*

      I’m glad you commented on this because I saw there like – what? I feel like no matter what LW did, it couldn’t have warranted that kind of comment – and that if it did it should have been a firing offense. And nothing LW writes suggest that’s even a possibility.

    4. Anonny*

      My response would have been “have you considered going and f***ing yourself, sir?” and then leaving without notice.

  3. Violet Fox*

    The environment you were in sounds toxic and like a place where it would be very hard to have professional boundaries when your treated like a dumb kid. Congratulations on getting out and getting into what sounds like a much healthier environment!

    1. MissDisplaced*

      I’m not sure if it was totally toxic or just stressing and high-pressure?

      Because I go between boss was crazy to boss was genuinely trying to “make” OP work out.

      Either way, the job didn’t sound like a good fit for the OP and it probably shouldn’t have escalated so far if it wasn’t working out. But I get it can be difficult to do that if you’re new to the workforce or the business isn’t setup to mentor and train new employees.

      1. Glitsy Gus*

        If a boss is ever going to give you the silent treatment for two weeks or make personal insults like ‘disrespectful child’ there is at least something wrong there with their management style.

        I have a feeling that, yeah, OP, you can improve on how you deal with these things, and it sounds like you’re working on that, which is great! But it does also sound very much like this was not a good job fit for you and you manager has more than a little to work on as well.

  4. JustAnotherMiddleManager*

    I don’t do podcasts because I’m a visual learner and have trouble concentrating on something I can’t see, so I don’t know much of the information on this situation. I wonder if the LW has PTSD or some other sort of childhood trauma that causes them to lash out when mistreated (real or perceived). From what I read here, it sounds like their boss wasn’t handling things professionally. “You’re not an adult, you’re a kid,” is an insult and inappropriate in the workplace, as well as arguing via text. My boss and I text occasionally and I can’t imagine her escalating to an argument without saying that we should stop texting speak about it in person.

    1. Ophelia*

      That’s a huge leap and assumption to make. Not everyone who reacts poorly must be victim to a childhood trauma. Some people are simply emotional.

      The workplace was toxic and the boss was ridiculous. I think anyone would have struggled with that. An empathic and emotional person would easily have gone over the edge.

      1. Rebecca1*

        There is a transcript of the podcast at the link, if that interests you. I was relieved to see it, since I don’t do podcasts either.

    2. MissDisplaced*

      I’m normally a very calm and rational person and I don’t seek out conflict or drama. But when I feel personally attacked, name called, gaslighted, cursed at or bullied, I will fight back. In the most cutting and cunning ways imaginable.

      There’s been no childhood trauma in my life, but I simply won’t take that shit from people.

    3. Avasarala*

      If you read the transcript, it sounds like both parties were not behaving at their best, and the environment was not conducive to bringing out their best. But it doesn’t take experience with trauma to see red at repeated age-based condescension. Nobody likes being dismissed with “you’re younger than me so your opinions don’t count and your value is lesser”.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        And honestly, submitting quietly to horrible treatment like this can also be an after-effect of trauma. Being angry and hurt and wanting to defend yourself is a normal and healthy response to being treated badly. Responding calmly and maturely to relentless poor treatment is advanced level work – people without any trauma or mental illness have trouble with this.

          1. pope suburban*

            How is an abstract discussion about trauma responses speculation? They’re speaking generally about ways in which people may, hypothetically, respond to things.

  5. Brigitha*

    Wow. It sounds like you were working in exactly the kind of environment, and for the kind of person, who would exacerbate your emotional outburst tendencies. Congrats for getting out of the powder keg. I’m not sure you could have developed useful, “normal”, professional emotional responses in your last environment when your boss wasn’t modeling them herself. Wishing you all the best in your new job?

    1. fposte*

      Yes, that’s what I thought. It was a crap job, but it was a crap job that aimed especially at the OP’s weaknesses.

    2. MissDisplaced*

      Sometimes you’ll end up with a manager or boss that simply exacerbate each others worst tendencies, triggers and emotions. I’ve had that happen 2-3 times over my career. Usually, I can sense this early on and won’t take the job, but sometimes those managers come in and you didn’t ask for them. I’ve also found that small businesses are MUCH more ripe for this kind of dynamic than larger companies.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I know you had good reasons for ending the podcast but I miss it. It got me through a lot of yard work!

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Thank you! That’s so nice to hear since it was such a new medium for me and I wasn’t sure how it would be received. It’s been a huge quality of life boost to have the time back, but I’m really glad when people say they liked it.

              1. Restiva*

                Chiming in to also say I also enjoyed the podcast, so thank you for running it while you still had time :)

          2. Crooked Bird*

            I realize it’s in a completely different genre (humor) but might I recommend Read It And Weep? It used to be about terrible books… now it’s about a wide variety of things, but still funny & warm. (Seriously, the hosts are friends and you can tell, so there’s kind of this comforting feel while you’re laughing…) If you like it, don’t skip the archives (except maybe the first year or so.) http://www.read-weep.com

  6. Dahlia*

    OP, like, I wouldn’t say you acted your best, but all things considered, I don’t blame you. The personal insults and inappropriate behaviour from them was setting you up to fail.

  7. Skates*

    I completely agree with your boss that you sound entitled and that you behaved like a child. Silent treatment! You’re lucky that you weren’t fired, and that you were able to resign.

    1. Blue*

      I think you misread! It is the boss who inflicted the silent treatment whenever the LW did not proper flagellate themself.

      1. Duke Flapjack*

        Yeah…if even half of this was true this was a godawful place to work. I wouldn’t have lasted as long as OP for sure.

    2. Zona the Great*

      Even if your assessment were accurate, the boss didn’t say she behaved like a child or that she sounded entitled. She said she was a child and was entitled. There’s no way to fix that kind of communication or respond non-defensively.

      1. The cucumber*

        I think we should remember that the boss isn’t here to present his side of the story.

        As I understand it, this whole drama kicked off because LW was upset at having to cold call clients and (gasp) track down email address formats for sending cold emails.

        This is 100% routine in any kind of business development or sales role.

        If LW finds that activity objectionable, I am not 100% sure LW wasn’t paraphrasing, or that if the boss did say she was a child, he wasn’t doing so out of exasperation. In the latter case he may not have chosen his words well, but in fairness I can see someone getting miffed at a sales person who not only refuses to cold call targets, but also refuses to look up contact information and grows unreasonably emotional when asked to do so.

        1. Rainy*

          LW wasn’t a sales person, though–she was hired as some kind of content creator and then the parameters of the job shifted, what sounds like pretty drastically.

          Also the boss uses she/her pronouns.

          1. The cucumber*

            I mean, “please find out e-mail address for this prospect” or “please call X and introduce the company” is not a hugely unreasonable request, and that is what LW opened her letter with to demonstrate how unreasonable her boss was. That stance diminishes LW’s credibility as she proceeds down her letter. I suspect the boss said something like “that was an immature reaction” (which it is) and what LW heard was “you’re just a kid.”

            1. History Geek*

              No offence but you seem to be working off some biases that are more on you than what the ops has actually said.

            2. Jackalope*

              I think you’re adding too much in here. As was noted below, site policy is to take the OPs at their word. What this OP said was that she was hired for a specific job that was NOT a sales job and then was given tasks unrelated to her actual position and that she could reasonably have expected not to do. She admits that her response was immature and she is trying to do better in her new job, but at the same time it takes a WHOLE lot of disbelief in her letter to get to where you are. According to the update her boss a) gave her the silent treatment on multiple occasions; b) called her “irresponsible and terrible”; c) made “entitled millennial” comments; d) called her a kid on multiple occasions; and e) on at least one of those occasions it was to put her in a humiliating and extremely difficult spot of saying she was only a “kid who had disrespected them”. (And in response to your comment about this having been said in exasperation, honestly, the boss has no business being a boss if she can’t keep herself from saying something so belittling as that even in exasperation.)

              Your leap from the above to assuming that the OP was completely at fault and just about everything she said was either a lie or huge hyperbole is…. not kind, nor is it helpful.

            3. Jenny Craig*

              OP didn’t open her letter with that to demonstrate how unreasonable her boss is. She opened with that to give an example of her own inappropriate emotional reaction. OP seems self-aware enough, and willing to portray herself in a negative light, that we can trust her version of events. (That is, we could trust her version even if it wasn’t in the site rules to trust OP’s…which it is. We can’t expect updates if we refuse to believe updates when we get them.)

        2. Torgo*

          Also, as has been stated frequently, we take the LWs at their word. We don’t expand the world around the letters/podcasts and create the boss’ story.

        3. Jenny Craig*

          Of course the boss isn’t here to present her side of the story. The same is true of every letter. Per the site rules, we are to take the OP at her word.

          I think it’s important to recognize that the OP wrote and called in originally because she wanted to better herself. It wasn’t “How do I deal with this horrible boss?” She has shown self-reflection and a willingness to grow. If she’s trying to learn from the situation, I don’t think it’s likely that she’s completely misrepresenting everything.

          Also, your sarcastic “gasp” seems like you think OP can’t dislike having to cold call/email people. Many, many people don’t like doing that. You said, “I can see getting miffed at a sales person…” OP was not a sales person. She said she was in a writing role, not business development or sales. My primary role at work is writing, and I would also be unhappy at having to cold call/email. That would cause me to look for a different job, and I am certainly not unreasonable or entitled.

          1. Avi*

            Many people don’t like doing cold calls, and many people like getting them even less. The fact that there’s companies out there that will actively mislead candidates about whether or not their jobs will involve them should really be all you need to know about the kind of regard they’re held in.

            Just because something’s a standard practice doesn’t mean it’s not garbage.

    3. JustKnope*

      This is so unnecessarily harsh. It sounds like the letter writer struggled with professionalism, but the manager was absolutely also in the wrong and it was a toxic situation all around. The manager should have talked to the LW about expectations of behavior, not called them a child or expected this weird groveling. The letter writer has done some good Alex-reflection and needs to grow, but this comment is just rude.

      1. Jenny Craig*

        I agree completely. Even if the facts were correct (they aren’t, it was the OP’s boss who gave the silent treatment), the comment is unnecessary and rude.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I am not sure how this comment helps the OP.

      I definitely disagree advising people to put up with verbal or psychological abuse, EVEN if they were in the wrong.

      In going back to the original transcript I thought that what the OP said was not great, but the boss was a train wreck.
      Just my opinion but I think many bosses could have worked through that conversation with OP and they would have had better outcomes. I also think that OP shows she has much internal self-examination going on which is to her credit.

    5. Jenny Craig*

      Her boss gave the silent treatment (repeatedly, for upwards of a week at a time)…not the OP. I think it would be helpful to reread the original post before you attack the OP for being entitled and behaving like a child.

  8. Fikly*

    Awesome update OP!

    All emotions are valid, and you are not responsible for changing them. However, what you are responsible for is how you handle them, and your behaviors, and it sounds like you’ve figured this out!

  9. Sweater Jacket*

    This update makes me sad because it makes me feel like you’re putting all of this on yourself. I think feeling emotional when you are being mistreated is normal. I feel like you’re the kind of person who would apologize for crying if somebody hit you

  10. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

    OP, I am so glad you are out there! What you’re describing is verbally and emotionally abusive behaviour on the part of your boss. It sounds like you’ve been truly trying your best and I honestly don’t think this is as much about you as you think it is. Cold calling is very, very hard work. It takes a massive toll on people. A friend of mine tried telemarketing and quit after the first day. The only time I’ve done it was for warm leads – that is, situations where there had been previous contact (such as the potential client responding to a flyer and asking the company for more information). Even that was nerve-wracking. I can’t imagine doing actual cold calling.

    And if the company is understaffed, that’s their problem, not yours. Your boss had no right to take her anger out on you.

    It’s great to hear that you’ve got supportive people around you. Please take care of yourself in this time, and perhaps speak to a professional to get it all sorted out in your head. You deserve to move forward without this experience dragging you down. I skimmed through the podcast transcript. While there might have been issues for you to work on (and *everyone* has issues to work on) your boss was being abusive in giving you the silent treatment and insulting you. It’s clear it was such a bad workplace for you to be in, or for anyone to be in, quite frankly. You’re doing the right thing in keeping your distance from ex-boss.

    Wishing you a wonderful time over this holiday season and lots of good things for the new year. Congratulations on the new job!

  11. Chaordic One*

    While I do feel sad about this update, it was a tough situation to be in and your reactions were entirely understandable. That said, I admire that after reflecting on the situation, you recognize the role you played (and it was a comparatively small role) in maybe not handling things in the best way possible. I also admire that you demonstrated resilience in going out and finding another job that sounds like it is a much better fit for you.

  12. Carlie*

    I feel for the LW and am glad they’re in a better place.
    But I wanted to point out, if you haven’t already read the “I ghosted my ex” letter that is the first “You may also like” link, go do that. Do that right now. That guy is in about the top 5 of worst people to ever be published in AAM. Go read that.

  13. Impy*

    “Admit that I’m just a kid who disrespected them,” haha no. No one should ask you to do that, and if they do you definitely shouldn’t comply. This boss sounds insane.

    1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

      My first impulse would be “A kid? That’s not for me to say. But I can honestly say that I just lost all respect I may have had for you, as a manager and as a decent human being.”

  14. Ha2*

    What the heck! Sounds like that boss and workplace were horrible.

    The “apology” and “admitting you’re a kid who disrespected them” sound like just ritual humiliation, a power play from the boss and something that should have no place in a half decent workplace. That has nothing to do with any “emotional control” issues you may have. (Based on just this update I’d almost guess that you’re actually all fine and the workplace was just bad…)

  15. What’s with Today, today?*

    I just read the transcript and update. Something about this one makes me really want to hear the bosses side of the story.

    1. Impy*

      I’d love to hear what she thinks justifies a text battle with a subordinate and insisting an adult employee say “I’m a kid who disrespected you.”

      1. What’s with Today, today?*

        I have a feeling we’d find out there are three sides to the story. The LW’s, the boss’ and the truth.

        1. Lamplighter*

          This is very unkind. We are supposed to believe letter writters here, full stop. If we didn’t we wouldn’t have Alison because no one would write in and she couldn’t make any money! Why do you think you know better than letter writer about here own life?

    2. Jennifer Thneed*

      I just want to know the actual words the boss used. Direct quotes. I don’t doubt that the boss was bossing poorly, though. The silent treatment is never okay.

      1. Lyrics meister*

        I’m just a kid
        And life is a nightmare
        I’m just a kid
        I know that it’s not fair
        Nobody cares ’cause I’m alone
        And the world is
        Having more fun then me

  16. Reality Check*

    Not much of a constructive comment here but gosh I’m tired of the phrase “entitled millennial.” And I’m not even a millennial…. and if name-calling, silent treatment, and demanding employees grovel are the boss’s prime coping tactics; well she doesn’t sound like the sharpest tool in the shed either. Glad you’re in a better place OP.

    1. Moxie*

      Thank you! I’m an older millennial (age 35). I’ve had exactly two people level the “millennial” like insult at me. One was a boss who said I was an “overly sensitive millennial” when I complained to her about being sexually harassed by a co-worker. She was later fired over an unrelated matter.

      In another case, a client made the comment jokingly when I suggested a method of automating a laborious, repetitive process we were performing for her that was costing her a lot of money. She shot down my idea, and several of my older colleagues laughed at her comments about me being a millennial who wanted to spend her money to make my life easier. Four years later, we did implement the changes I originally suggested.

      It’s too bad that generational nonsense can work it’s way into the workplace in this manner. I wish my older colleagues would recognize that although they may not like certain stereotypical attributes of my generation, we are all they have. And at some point, you cease to be a critic of a generation and start becoming a misanthrope.

      1. Tinker*

        That last thing particularly — it was really food for thought when I started seeing people younger than me (in their early thirties and sometimes late twenties) adopting the ranty-curmudgeon persona that is usually associated with “older person who wants to put the kids in their place”. It’s not an age particularly — fortunate, as I fully intend to get old — it’s a choice about how to treat people.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        The lack of hindsight and foresight in these millennial insults is jaw-dropping.
        Hindsight: Us boomers were repeatedly told by our parents just how awful we were. You’d think we’d learn. But some of us clearly did NOT.
        Foresight: You guys are going to be running our nursing homes when we are 80-90 y/o. It’s in our own selfish interest to make sure you guys have everything you need to run the planet. Failure on your part does NOT translate to the default status of success on our part. We all lost.

        For the OP, maybe it would be of some help to read up on workplace bullying. If you can clearly identify it in the moment, you will have a chance to give the measured response you want to give. Just a thought.

        1. Reality Check*

          Yeah it’s out of control. It often annoys me that my generation’s existence is rarely acknowledged at all, but I see all this Boomer vs Millennial nonsense and figure we’re probably better off. (and we’ll be running those nursing homes not the Millenials :) At the end of the day ageism is ageism.

        2. Fikly*

          The thing that drives me nuts is if Millennials are entitled (a premise I do not grant), who taught them to expect/that they deserved so many things? That would be the boomer parents.

          1. Half-Caf Latte*

            I frequently point out that age six me did not call the trophy shop, order trophies for all the kids on the softball team, or organize a ceremony to distribute said trophies

        3. Avi*

          Yeah, getting lectured about entitlement by the original ‘Me’ Generation is… pretty galling.

          It’s not even about ‘entilement’, really. It’s about being acknowledged as valid people with actual needs and concerns. Is now, was for the Boomers before us. And Millennials aren’t nearly as *loud* about it as the Boomers were, yet we still get crapped on for asking for a fraction of the acknowledgment that the Boomers demanded for themselves.

    2. Tinker*

      I read an article somewhere that suggested that use of “ok boomer” in the workplace could constitute age discrimination against people over 40 and it struck me that quite soon the same logic will apply to “entitled Millennial” and such like.

      1. Moxie*

        Interesting thought. I wonder if it is still (illegal) age discrimination if both parties are over 40 but the discrimination is against the younger party.

        1. Tinker*

          I think it’s probably mostly a snarky thought on my part, as probably most people are only using the word in the sense of “kids these days” and won’t literally be going “I understand that you are 40 but harglebargle avocado latte you are a foolish baby who needs to mind your elders”. But it’s a funny thought and also considering that things like delayed markers of maturity (older generations not recognizing a person as an adult until they’ve done X, Y, and Z which are substantially different now than then) are likely to continue to be relevant… maybe it will come up at some point.

            1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

              Why would you say so? It looks like a perfectly normal and reasonable comment to me.

              1. Kaitlyn*

                I meant it as a compliment – what a gorgeous and hilarious array of words! “Avocado latte” make me laugh out loud.

                1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

                  Ahh, got it, thanks! Yeah, I do want “I understand that you are 40 but harglebargle avocado latte you are a foolish baby who needs to mind your elders” on a throw pillow! And I haven’t even been 40 in a long time!

      2. Amethystmoon*

        We were actually told that it was blatantly age discrimination in our anti-discrimination/harassment classes by an HR employee.

  17. Batgirl*

    Being a quitter is a vastly underrated life skill. For good reason, kids are taught tenacity and persistence – but you haven’t reached maturity until you can quickly and accurately identify a ‘fuck this’ situation without wrongly blaming yourself.
    If you’re going all Ishmael and close to knocking off someone’s hat off their head then get out of Dodge. You don’t even have to justify who the arsehole is! If it’s not a good fit, it isn’t going to make you happy.

    1. Jessen*

      “Being a quitter is a vastly underrated life skill.”

      I’m stealing this as my mental health quote for the remainder of the year.

    2. CM*

      Yeah, I really wish I had known this when I was younger. The OP 100% did the right thing by quitting — and doing it decisively, on the spot.

    3. Junior Assistant Peon*

      I saw a lot of this in grad school (which is a pretty damn toxic environment even when it goes relatively well). People who should have quit in their first couple of years with their sanity intact often persisted until literally becoming suicidal.

      1. Perpal*

        Yes, grad school. One of the few times I quit something I set out to do (Decided to just take a masters instead of the original PhD plan) and have never regretted that decision.

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Life lessons from Kenny Rogers The Gambler?
      “You’ve got to know when to hold ’em
      Know when to fold ’em
      Know when to walk away
      And know when to run…’

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yep. It’s not quitting that is the problem. We all will quit plenty of things if we are on this planet any length of time. The real key is picking the next goal and running at it with your best shot.

    5. Nervous Nellie*

      Batgirl, thank you! Wise words we could all benefit from. I am putting this in my AAM quotation book!

  18. OrigCassandra*

    Hi, OP. I, too, once ended up in a room with my boss being told “nobody wants to work with you.” And, like you, some of that was absolutely on me.

    What never happened during that discussion — just as it never happened with you — was any kind of admission that I was not the only person in the wrong. And that was not right and not okay. It took me quite a while to realize that, so I’m telling you in hopes it takes you less time.

    Yeah, you messed up. So did I. But wow, neither of us was the only snowball in that avalanche.

    1. AnotherLibrarian*

      I’ve noticed that toxic workplaces are rarely toxic, because of one person. There is almost always behavior that feeds off other behavior that breeds contempt and problems. When you are mired in it, it is nearly impossible to see how you are both a victim and a victimizer. I’m glad you got out. I’m glad OP got out.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        +1000. Nobody (I hope) wakes up and goes, “Let me, for the first time in my life, tell my subordinate today that she must publicly apologize, admit she’s a stupid kid, and make a verbal promise to follow everything I say from now on, as a condition of her keeping her job.” Or “Let me give my subordinate a silent treatment for a couple of days and see what happens.” This boss has done this before and gotten away with it. Or she’s seen others do that and get away with it. Either way, not a great place to work!

      2. Prof Space Cadet*

        Totally agree. This sounds like a dysfunctional workplace par extraordinaire, and the LW was wise to get out.

    2. J.B.*

      Me too. And now that I am even further away from the toxic outskirts of the toxic center, I am so much happier!

  19. CM*

    This update bums me out because it sounds like the OP is putting this all on herself, when really it’s more of a cultural problem where we’ve decided that “being professional” means you can never express negative emotions, ever. So, when people are being mistreated, they feel like the only acceptable outcome is to just swallow it indefinitely without giving any outward sign that it bothers them — and then, when that’s impossible, they get mad at themselves for not being able to hide what they feel, just like Elsa got mad at herself for not being able to suppress her ice powers.

    This is not an accident — it’s a method to ensure that powerful people stay in positions of power and that they aren’t held accountable for their actions, by stigmatizing any display of displeasure or discontent from the less powerful.

    The problem was never that the OP needs to hold her temper better — the problem is that it’s dangerous to express anger toward more powerful people and safe to express it toward less powerful people, and we need to question why we’ve allowed such huge power discrepancies to form and figure out what we can do to make people more equal.

    1. LGC*

      To be fair, LW isn’t from the US – she specified that in her original call, particularly with regards to mental health services. You’re absolutely right in your criticism – we’re much more okay with punching down at work in the US

      1. LGC*

        …but it might not tie in perfectly with this case.

        That said, my suspicion is that LW’s in a country with a much more rigid work hierarchy than North America and Europe typically have. So it’s still a case of the cultural norms being toxic in my opinion (like, I still remember her call because I listened and felt AWFUL for how she kind of depicted herself as out of control).

        (I really hate how the page jumps around sometimes on mobile.)

  20. Perpal*

    OP – we only have your side of the story but if it’s accurate as conveyed, the problem was not your emotions, the problem was your boss. And perhaps that you didn’t realize your boss is totally unreasonable and gross, which may or may not have allowed you a little more distance from their outbursts. The only thing I saw in the transcript was you arguing about not wanting to do (some kind of work). I think it’s worth coming up with clear boundaries; boss can always ask you to do stuff. If stuff is not a dealbreaker but just preference, can ask once “can I do Z instead of Y” and if not, do it. If stuff is a dealbreaker, THEN you can say “Sorry, I took this job specifically because it did not involve any Y, if Y is required then I can revisit whether it makes sense for me to continue here” etc.
    A boss telling you you need to apologize and admit you’re a kid is never OK. Even if someone has done something out of line and is acting like a kid, the condition should be that they go find a therapist and start a PIP to demonstrate improved behavior, not forcing them to grovel.

  21. Avon*

    I feel sorry for you. It sounds like you were in a role that wasn’t quite right for you, and on top of that the role was understaffed and your manager wasn’t great at managing her own emotions. I don’t want to discard the part you had to play in it, but this was really all the wrong things coming together and targeting your weaknesses.

    I can kind of commiserate, too. I was hired into a job out of university that worked on a very technical system, and I had no experience or training. I was just supposed to “learn on the job”. What happened was that I could perform at a junior level, but after a couple years I was expected to handle more complex tasks and the lack of training meant I had a really unstable knowledge foundation, so I couldn’t really handle it. Like you, I was let go. I wonder how many people end up in situations like that. You start off ok because you’re still learning. But there’s no workplace support to enable you to move out of “learning mode”, and eventually no one wants to wait for you to figure it all out. I wish there was a better way for both employers and candidates to evaluate this in the interview process.

    1. Flash Bristow*

      OP, I wanted to both thank you and commend you on the update. It must be hard when you write in, and unlike with many letters, you’re not told categorically just how awful your boss is, but how you have a lot of work to do too. I know I’d find it hard to hear, especially if I knew that ultimately the other commenters were right!

      I’m glad you’ve ended up in a job that suits you better, and that ultimately you’ve managed to learn, to leave things with your ex-boss as… Well prob the best situation in the circs… And that you felt confident enough to come and tell us about it.

      Very best of luck for the future.

  22. Blarg*

    This work place sounds wildly inappropriate. The LW, in their first job post-college, went from having just ‘gotten off’ silent treatment from the boss when the podcast was taped, and then a month later was promoted? It seems LW was set up for failure by a poor manager and unhealthy and (apparently) understaffed company taking advantage of junior staffers who don’t know better.

    And frankly — guessing email addresses sounds super gross and if I received random solicitation emails I’d actively work to ensure my org did not use either the solicitation firm or their client.

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      And frankly — guessing email addresses sounds super gross and if I received random solicitation emails I’d actively work to ensure my org did not use either the solicitation firm or their client.


      These job responsibilities remind me of a college friend, who, back in our home country in the early 90s, quit his first job out of college (engineering) because they had literally stopped paying people. Found a new job with a super shady sales company where they had to go door to door to offices during the weekdays and sell whatever product the sales company was selling. (iirc, it was flashlights? Things were weird back home in the 90s.) He told us he’d had gotten physically beaten up and thrown down the stairs by irate “customers” who did not appreciate a random door-to-door salesman barging into their office. Not saying that guessing prospects’ email addresses is in the same category, but pretty darn close.

    2. Steve*

      Totally agree. Any place that treats their (potential) customers like that is inevitably going to treat their employees poorly too.

  23. Flash Bristow*

    I really enjoyed it too – in format! I’m not always in the position for sound (and if I watch catch-up TV or YouTube etc it’s always with subtitles, so in your case I wait for the transcript). Plus I tend to read and process a lot faster and easier than listening.

    But, the *format* – able to bounce back and forth on LWs and/or experts, and therefore tweak your comments in more of a real time, I love!

    So I’m very glad you offered us podcasting while you were able, and thought I’d add another perspective of thank you!

    My only issue is that the “if you’d prefer, here’s a transcript” link is almost too small for me to find; I persevere knowing it’s there, and I’m sure after the recording and editing you’d prefer we accessed it in the format you created, but I just wanted to point it out.

    For me it’s kinda an access issue tho I won’t bore you with my hearing issues, reasons why I’m usually stuck in bed on a phone which can enlarge most of your page text but for some reason the transcript link stays tiny – just wanted to let you know that it *does*.

    Anyway, again, love the format, thanks for doing it when you were able. Podcasts often attract a new range of followers (ready to buy from your affiliate links!) and I hope this was successful for you too!

    I’m about to try – try! – recording my own podcast soon and if you’re ever able to discuss what kit you used in another post, that would be very welcome and of course respected – most info I can find isn’t talkers but music DJs, showing off their home outhouse studio… Thinking about it, yours is the *only* “talky”podcast I’ve enjoyed!

    It’s 5am. I’m rambling until pain meds kick in… I’ll shut up.

    But thanks again for sharing your expertise, and I wish you a happy & peaceful December / New Year break. The annual Dec updates are a great idea too; hope it means you allow yourself to work a little less hard for a month!

    1. Flash Bristow*

      Apols, that was meant to be a follow up to JustAnotherMiddleManager’s thread about podcast / formatting from 12.39 on 22nd; sorry if shuffling it’s made any extra work for you.

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