updates: the nerves, the self-help cult, and more

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. Here are four updates from past letter-writers.

1. I’m so nervous at work that it’s holding me back

I’m coming up on a year at my new job and true to your prediction, I feel much more settled and confident in my role. 

Two major things happened:

– I did indeed eventually get the hang of things. I use a two-pronged approach now: I religiously use our project management software for all major projects (and start every project by drafting a checklist of things that need to happen) and a running list in a notebook for all minor tasks. Every time I get told something, it has to go into either of those spots for future reference. I’m also successfully tackling more stretch projects, honing my troubleshooting skills and as you predicted, it’s been a positive, reinforcing cycle.

The ADHD theory is interesting and I’m doing some more research because my forgetfulness and my need to be very organized are not just limited to my work. My spouse sometimes affectionately refers to me as an old lady because if something isn’t written down, it’s just not going to happen.

– My manager amicably left for another opportunity and I started reporting directly to GrandBoss. As it turns out, I enjoy working for GrandBoss far more than I did my manager and at the root of it, I believe there was a bit of a personality mismatch between my manager and me that I didn’t realize until I was working under someone else.

My former manager was far more intense and exacting than I am and their overall managing style did not really help develop my confidence. While I believe you in that my former manager was mentally giving me breathing room to develop my skills, it didn’t feel like that on a day-to-day level. I got disapproving looks sometimes for questions, rebukes for not being able to find an email or not reading something closely enough, and it just felt like there were a million ways to disappoint my former manager by not meeting her standards.

GrandBoss is much more easygoing and understanding and I feel like I have room to breathe and focus on my work. I’m still held to a high standard in terms of my work output but the intensity and pressure are dialed way down and it’s done wonders for me. To be clear, my former manager was overall great, I learned a lot from her, and there are no red flags per se in her behavior but it just wasn’t a good fit for me specifically.

2. My coworkers are in a self-help cult

After a second instance I mentioned what had happened to Bernadette’s and my manager. He was super concerned since he’d heard of [old name of self-help cult] in the ’80s and he flagged it up to his manager, who ended up talking to Jason’s manager.

A few weeks after that, Jason asked my advice as to whether he should offer some insensitive advice (essentially “the power of positive thought will help fight cancer”) to another team member whose close relative is ill. I strongly advised against it, but he persisted and made the insensitive comment to her.. (Her response was that if positive thought was the cure, her relative would be at the peak of health.) The team member reported this to our shared manager as well. Shortly after that, Jason was moved to another group, and left the company a few weeks after that.

Bernadette seems to be getting over the cult-think and gaining more confidence, and I’m continuing to actively give her positive feedback where warranted. We’re also getting some additional staff for the team and the changing dynamic definitely seems to be an improvement.

3. My employee gets stressed and frustrated and snaps at me (first update here)

After my last update, things at this job took a turn for the worse. I found out that others thought my employee had been shifted to a different manager/team because of my “bad management skills”. Apparently the “situation” had been discussed among leadership but no one ever told me – in the multiple times I’d asked my manager for guidance he’d only ever said I was doing well and to carry on. I continued trying to make it work at that organization for some time, but things ultimately came to a head and I moved on.

What has happened since then?
– The employee is one of many at his tier; while he was viewed as a rockstar under my management (I did a lot to promote his great work, grow his skills, and give him opportunities to shine), I hear that he now gets little to no attention, is stagnating at the more junior end of his tier, is doing the same types of work repeatedly and has little to no room for advancement. I feel badly for him because he really is talented.
– My former manager now works elsewhere, with a lower title & rate of pay.
– After reflecting on my experience over the past year and hearing continued reports of truly asinine management/operational practices, I feel confident that there was a lot of real dysfunction in this workplace, and I no longer feel guilt or shame for not being able to “fit in” better.

Thank you again Allison for your advice, and to all of the commenters – I read each comment on the original post & the first update multiple times, and was so grateful for everyone’s insights and support.

4. Should I write my boss’s performance goals? (#3 at the link)

Your readers were spot on that my manager, Kenny, was “an empty stair” and his manager, Sara, was failing our company division by not holding him accountable. I realized that there was a lot more management dysfunction than just Kenny. In early September, I transferred to another division as a client liaison and continued applying elsewhere. I thought I’d diversify my skills and see if I liked client relationship management. My division was sold to a competitor in late September, which also lit a fire under me. Things weren’t stable, and I did not want to work for this competitor. I applied like crazy for everything in my field.

In October, I left the company and started a new (more senior!) role in my field with a highly respected company that has much more infrastructure about training and mentoring. The new role came with a 33% higher salary, shorter commute, and a title in line with my education and experience level.

The biggest lessons I took from this experience were “know when you’re ready to move on” and “know your value.” I didn’t think I could find anything better, so I stayed for about a year longer than I should have. I’m really happy with where I am now; my manager and my team respect my expertise and skills, and I honestly see a great path forward into more senior roles and opportunities.

{ 111 comments… read them below }

  1. Librarian of SHIELD*

    LW2, your coworker with the ill family member was *remarkably* polite to Jason. I’ve had two loved ones diagnosed with terminal cancer in the last six months, and if it had been me there may well have been shouting involved.

    But I’m glad that Jason’s not your office’s problem anymore and that Bernadette seems to be backing off.

    1. Biggles*

      I was thinking the same thing. I’ve lost two grandparents in the last year and my dad was just diagnosed with a terminal illness. My husband almost died two years ago and I have an autoimmune condition. Trust me, good thoughts and the power of positivity would have cured us all, but they didn’t. I would have had strong words for Jason…ones I try not to use in front of my mom.

      1. MK*

        Does it even matter if the unsolicited advice is good or not? It’s not a co-worker’s place to suggest medical treatment.

        1. WellRed*

          They aren’t suggesting medical treatment and what they are saying is wildly offensive to anyone with a health concern.

          1. Observer*

            It doesn’t matter if it really is medical treatment or not – THEY think they are providing medical suggestions. Would it have helped if they had brought up the (real, btw) studies on the power of the mind in healing? I think not!

        2. Librarian of SHIELD*

          I agree with this. Most of us don’t work in medicine, and even for people who do, their coworkers aren’t *their* doctors/nurses. Coworkers are not for health advice.

    2. Kim*

      I would have bitten his head off.
      My mother was diagnosed with cancer two years ago and I am still dealing with the effects, even though she thankfully pulled through and is in remission at the moment.

      My father in law is a woo-hoo kinda person who remarked to me that ‘cancer is a state of mind’ and I snapped to him that this was a no-go topic and to change the subject. His being related to my husband is the only reason I will deign to meet with him in the future.

      I hope your colleague’s relative is doing well, LW #2. I’m glad Jason moved on to another job.
      Would it be possible in the future to tell an employee that he cannot say something insensitive like that to another employee?

      1. London Calling*

        *My father in law is a woo-hoo kinda person who remarked to me that ‘cancer is a state of mind’*

        Mine is a somatic genetic mutation but I suspect that would blow the state of his mind.

    3. LW2*

      I tried to be kind and explain to Jason that no, suggesting she talk to some dude who thought the power of positive thinking (along with medical treatment) cured his cancer would not be received well. After all, the converse of the premise “positive thinking cures cancer” is that someone who dies of cancer just wasn’t thinking positively enough and it’s their fault (which is clearly not based in reality). I was honestly quite offended on her behalf and tried to make it a teachable moment. But nope, he decided he was going to say it anyway. I did warn my teammate about what he’d been telling me so she had a little warning at least!

      My own manager advised me that with people like Jason, sometimes the best option is to just say, “I think that’s a bad idea,” and leave it at that.

      The other good news is that since I originally sent the update to Alison, my teammmate’s relative has had some optimistic health news. Fingers crossed it all continues to improve!

      1. Observer*

        I think your manager has a valid point. In fact, with people like that, this is sometimes MORE useful than trying to explain why.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          Yeah – it’s almost like we sometimes say on commenting boards “don’t feed the trolls.” It just makes them feel important and you get frustrated.

      2. Librarian of SHIELD*

        I’m so thrilled about the optimistic health news. Keeping fingers crossed for your teammate!

        1. LW2*

          Seriously, same! Fingers crossed for full remission, they’ve been treating for a few years and done a couple transplants already. My coworker is her relative’s primary caregiver, which I know can be draining, so I am so very hopeful that things will work out well.

      3. yala*

        Between that and getting Bernadette out of the cult, this is all a very good update. I’m glad to hear it! And very glad y’all are rid of Jason. Yikes.

    4. Minocho*

      I had something like this happen. A group of friends were at my house when one got the call that his terminally ill aunt was unlikely to live through the night, and he began to make his way out to see her one last time. On his way out the door, another friend started talking about [miracle product X] that could cure cancer (and all the other things too). The friend that was leaving was remarkably gracious on his way out the door. I was livid at the miracle product friend’s insensitivity. uuuuuugh.

    5. Sara without an H*

      if it had been me there may well have been shouting involved

      Or in my case, swearing. Lots and lots of swearing.

      1. RVA Cat*

        Yes, swearing that would make a sailor blush!

        (Did anyone else initially misread “shouting” as “shooting”? This is America….)

    6. we're basically gods*

      My coworkers would have been lucky if I’d left it at just shouting. I feel like there would be a decent chance of me resorting to physical violence– and I am *not* a violent person. But I think this sort of thing would push me over the edge.

      1. LW2*

        Luckily I was on our internal chat program, or I would have struggled with trying to keep it a teachable moment on my end ;)

    7. Quill*

      Yeah, that person was the epitome of grace and dignity and you should become work friends with THEM.

  2. Nope-a-sauras*

    The only appropriate thing to say to someone who is dealing with cancer, at any level, is “Goodness, that sucks. I am so sorry to hear that.”

    That’s really it. Pray if you want. Think about juice cleanses if you want. But keep all that to yourself.

    I still remember being in a restaurant with my siblings, remembering our mom right after she died of cancer, and having our server tell us that it was too bad our mom hadn’t heard of juice cleanses, she would still be alive. I can picture the server’s face and her hipster glasses, and I can also tell you that I have no doubt her heart was in the right place, which is the only thing that kept me in my seat. :(

    1. MK*

      It boggles my mind when people make comments like that. Even if it was true, why on earth would someone point this out to a bereaved family? It’s not comforting to think that a death was easily preventable.

      1. Project Manager*

        It’s not comforting to the family – but it’s comforting to the person saying it. When faced with the monumental unfairness of cancer, people tell themselves fairy tales about how it wouldn’t happen to THEM because THEY know the RIGHT things to do. Same instinct that makes people announce that victims of assorted violent crimes shouldn’t have been where they were when the crime occurred or otherwise blame the victim. Maintaining the illusion of control is more important to these (ultimately very fearful) people than being kind.

        1. Falling Diphthong*


          A bad thing happened to you? Let’s figure out what you were doing wrong so I can be sure it can’t happen to me! That’s the important thing here.

          1. The Cosmic Avenger*

            A perfect way to explain it; you phrased it perfectly to show why that kind of thing is both so tempting and so thoughtlessly cruel.

        2. ThatGirl*

          Yep. This. It’s an instinct of self-protection. Doesn’t make it good or right, of course. I don’t know if I’d ever have the presence of mind to say something snarky that hit at that, but it sure is tempting. “oh, bless your heart, you know cancer has nothing to do with attitude” or “well gosh do you never leave the house? Crime can be so random” or something like that.

        3. Observer*

          I still don’t get it. It’s one thing to tell yourself stories. It’s another to tell OTHERS.

          Part of being an adult is learning when to keep thoughts inside your head.

          1. Librarian of SHIELD*

            Part of being an adult is learning when to keep thoughts inside your head.


            I lost a parent when I was young. Even now, there will be times when the topic comes up and someone feels the need to tell me about the person they know who experienced the same medical crisis my parent experienced, and that person recovered and is totally fine now. And, like, good for them? But I’m not the person you tell that story to.

            1. Seeking Second Childhood*

              TRuth, Librarian!
              The best I’ve been able to manage is a terse smile and say “yes, medicine has come a long way since the 70s.” The worst is probably when I (intentionally) made someone blanch giving them details from 40 years ago so I could be sure they’d agree when I said “I guess it’s too strong a memory, maybe we should change the subject.”

        4. JSPA*

          Thanks! it’s clearly some sort of Ring Theory violation, but this unpacks exactly how (and why) it violates the “comfort in / dump out” rule.

        5. TomorrowTheWorld*

          “Same instinct that makes people announce that victims of assorted violent crimes shouldn’t have been where they were when the crime occurred or otherwise blame the victim.”
          I was the victim of a violent home invasion, where some random man broke in and tried to murder me in my sleep. I still get people asking what I was wearing or if I’d been drinking that day.

          1. KoiFeeder*

            I hope you’re in a situation where you can feel safe, now. I’m sure you know that there is no way in hell that could have possibly been your fault. The fact that people ask you that fills me with insurmountable rage.

            1. TomorrowTheWorld*

              I am, thank you. It was some years back but PTSD, state of health care in the US, blah blah.
              I am long, long past even a semblance of manners toward such people.

          2. Observer*

            Are you allowed to take a shower or bath? Or do you have to wear a bathing suit?

            Snarky questions aside, what on earth is with people? How do they get to adulthood being THAT stupid?!

        6. Ice and Indigo*

          Also the same instinct that makes people force smug platitudes on you when they find out your child has special needs. They don’t want to accept that yes, sometimes life is unfair and sometimes it’s unfair for ever and there are no fairytale endings. It boils down to, ‘I’m going to congratulate myself in your face over being luckier than you/your loved one, and I expect you to thank and admire me for it.’

          I have so far managed not to reply, ‘If the world was as just as you think, you’d be sitting in a pillory right now and I’d have an infinite supply of cabbages,’ but I make no promises.

          1. Arts Akimbo*

            ‘If the world was as just as you think, you’d be sitting in a pillory right now and I’d have an infinite supply of cabbages’ will forever be my go-to thought in this situation, thank you!!

          2. Quill*

            That’s a great, great line though, and when you do end up using it… It will not be polite, but it will be epic.

    2. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

      The only other thing I would add (if they are that way inclined *and* in a position to action it) is “is there anything you need?”
      Sometimes people just want to vent about the unfairness of it all, but sometimes they genuinely need help with paperwork, an extra hour off at lunchtime, etc., and don’t always realise they can ask.
      I repeat that this should only be offered if in a position to provide it (a coworker can’t approve the extra hour, but may have the bandwidth to cover the additional work).

      Thoughts and prayers aren’t worth the paper they’re written on.

      1. LW2*

        Oh, absolutely. As a peer but also as the one who makes sure the team is on track, I’ve definitely reminded her that family comes first, and to take the time she needs, the team’s work is not a priority compared to family. I’d take that to management as a reason (not an excuse) we didn’t do everything we planned, any day, because the company actually respects family first. (Of course, I can always sneak in a little work to help too–it’s not my role anymore but that doesn’t mean it’s not the right thing to do.)

    3. thestik*

      I freely admit if I’d encounter that server I’d have walked right out of the restaurant and bad mouthed it to anyone and everyone. (Of course, my mom died of cancer six months ago, so there is that.)

    4. Fikly*

      Someone’s heart being in the right place doesn’t mean it’s ok for them to abuse people.

      If the only reason you didn’t call her on her behavior was that her heart was in the right place, be aware that she’s going to keep on hurting people the same way, because she didn’t get called on it.

      Now, if you didn’t have the emotional bandwidth to do it, totally fair, you had no obligation. But to not do it because she meant well? Plenty of abusers “mean well.”

      1. Observer*

        I agree.

        Stuff like this needs to be called out. I’m hoping that someone else saw what happened and reported it to the management. Because it’s probably a good thing that YOU were not the one reacting.

    5. Batgirl*

      That’s a really nasty package of able-ism and self soothing right there. It’s amazing how many people blind themselves to another’s grief just so as to pretend that they have that level of control.

    6. Anon woman with breast cancer*

      Honestly I am of two minds about prayer and rando advice. One the one side, I am an atheist. But I have a lot of friends and family who are one religion or another. Those that know about my cancer and are religious or spiritual are praying or lighting candles, etc. I appreciate their kindness. Because for them to think of me is, to me, meaningful and full of hope. I have a few friends who are health coaches and have offered nutritional advice, which I also looked up. As a patient, I am finding that I do reflect on the kindness and intent here that my friends and family offer. Because I know them well enough – this is the key.

      The server in your case did not know you so I feel like this is the difference and what makes your response very valid – she was not gracious and not aware, and for her to hurt you, I am sorry. For the others here, I see your points too, and cancer or terminal illness in any form is painful and fraught with potential missteps by our friends and family and colleagues. And I tend to agree that rando people offering advice of any sort (like juice cleanses) when they are not your/your family member’s doctor, is super annoying and out of place.

      In the case of OP2, good luck with de-programming Bernadette and glad to hear Jason is gone. One of the challenges of working with anyone is that sometimes, some colleagues have very odd/different/unhelpful/etc ideas about things and they need to tell you about them because they have a need to share their ‘wisdom’. :/ Good to read that it worked out in your case OP2.

      1. Fikly*

        I find it incredibly offensive to pray at someone within their hearing or tell them you are praying for them without asking them first if they are ok with it, particularly if you are not 100% sure they are of the same religion.

        Because not all people share your religion, or are religious at all, and prayer aimed at someone who does not want to be prayed at can hurt them. So therefore, you are putting your need to pray above the need of the person you are praying at to not be hurt, which is really gross, because isn’t the justification of the prayer to help them?

        You can say, I hope you feel better, get well, or I will be thinking of you. If you truly believe the prayer will make a difference, do it in private! If you need the person to hear your prayer, it’s about you, not them.

        Just because you are not offended by something, does not mean it is not offensive, and that people shouldn’t be doing it.

        1. Angwyshaunce*

          If you trust scientific studies, then it appears that being knowingly prayed for actually results in worse health outcomes.

          “And patients who knew they were being prayed for had a higher rate of post-operative complications like abnormal heart rhythms, perhaps because of the expectations the prayers created, the researchers suggested.”

          Link to follow.

          1. Anon woman with breast cancer*

            Interesting! Did not know this. Thanks for the info and look forward to finding out more.

          2. theelephantintheroom*

            When you get the time, I’d really love to see that link. Sounds like an interesting study.

        2. RVA Cat*

          Being prayed for: that you survive your illness.
          Being prayed AT: that you stop being LGBTQ/liberal/some other part of who you are that they want to change.

        3. JSPA*

          Prayers, even if statedly for a “recipient,” are for (or if you prefer, also for) the person praying. It’s ring theory violation to make a fuss about praying for someone.

          But unless someone is praying “against” you (as per “pray the gay away”), it’s also problematic to want a vote on HOW or TO WHOM/WHAT they pray (even if the payers are about you). “It’s not something I believe in, but whatever makes you happy / I’m sure it can’t hurt” = fine. “Don’t mention me to your concept of Deity in your prayers / that would be offensive” = thought policing someone else’s life, mind and practice.

          I’m frequently amazed at what people find prayer – worthy in my life, and how they express it, and my own belief is that there’s no deity to intercede on my behalf, nor would I want such favoritism if it did exist. But a friend thinking over my situation in a way that makes them feel better– regardless of context — that’s no harm to anyone.

          (The “worse outcome” of “prayer by strangers” is marred by the fact that “feeling ready to go, peacefully” may be a good outcome for the religiously – inclined, but a bad outcome by the rubric of the study. Or that “being poorly off enough to merit being prayed over by strangers” could induce excess stress.)

          1. Fikly*

            Why is prayer an exception to other forms of speech that can be abusive?

            I have no objection to someone praying about or at me, as long as it’s not in my hearing/somewhere I can see. At that point, it’s offensive and abusive.

            It’s also saying that your need to pray for someone in their presence is more important than their need to not hear that prayer. Which is pretty gross.

            Or do you not think that hearing people pray at/for you can be abusive? What about a person who has been traumatized by religious people and abused by them while they were being prayed at? What about a person who was abused by a priest as a child? Do they not matter?

            1. Arts Akimbo*

              Agreed. My child was in the hospital at age two, and a hospital volunteer came to counsel us then asked if we wanted her to pray with us. I don’t even remember what I said, because I was so upset– I felt pressured by her and her religion, and felt so vulnerable and scared that I was truly worried some aspect of my son’s care might be compromised if I said no and it got around that we were unbelievers. It made me feel 10x worse, and it was a huge overstep asking that of a person in a circumstance where they feel scared to say no.

      2. Sara without an H*

        Hi, Anon woman with breast cancer — as another woman with breast cancer, please accept my best wishes for you. (I finished chemo and radiation treatment about a year ago.)

        You make a good point, that expressions of kindness and concern from people who actually know and love you are in a completely different class from drive-by advice from officious strangers. (In the case of the restaurant server, I’d have sent for the manager ASAP.) Sometimes we do have to be patient with co-workers with minor obsessions, but certain things cross lines. In Jason’s case, he was way, way over it. Good to hear that he moved on without provoking someone to assault and battery.

        1. Anon woman with breast cancer*

          Congrats on your succesfull treatment and year out after! Thx for you comment.

          I am sorry the server was clueless, too.

      3. Observer*

        Think that you are right that the fact that these are your friends who are acting in ways that you know are meant in good faith and kindness makes it very different from people who you don’t have a relationship with. But, in a case like this it’s also the fact that this is not something that can help, even by the standards of the person talking.

      4. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

        I think the key difference is that this happened after Nope-a-saurus’s mother had died: friend or stranger, someone saying “if your mother had only done this thing, she would be alive now” is at best useless, and at worst painful. That “advice” isn’t “you should try juice cleanses,” it’s “use your time machine.”

        (The details here don’t matter; it could be juice cleanses, experimental surgery, or any other suggestion, the problem is that there is literally no way in the universe to do anything with what the server said than feel worse about yourself or your mother’s doctor, for not having done what’s being suggested.)

      5. Quill*

        Personally, I find “I’ll / we’ll pray for you,” not invasive when it comes to things that are ultimately out of your personal control that the person volunteering prayer can’t actually physically help with (that you’ll find a job, that your biopsy will come back showing no cancer, that your new treatment plan will work,) because I take it more as an “Hopefully you can be comforted by knowing that you’re on our minds even if we don’t have the same beliefs,” and it’s better than random advice about *spins the Topics That Will Put You On A Sawbones Episode wheel*.

        But there’s a vast difference between well wishing and praying at someone in the just world fallacy of “we are god fearing and if YOU were too you would not have this problem,” or “I am intentionally ostritching myself to prevent myself from feeling bad about your actual life problems,” way. Generally the line is less about faaaaamily or meaning well and more about knowing/communicating with the person you’re praying for well enough to have already established that this will be welcome.

    7. Lora*

      Her heart was still technically in her chest. Whether that is the correct place for it or not…*shrug*

      All time favorite stupidity someone said to me about cancer: “The pharmaceutical companies HAVE the cure to ALL cancers hidden away in their vaults, they just don’t want to give them to people because if everyone was cured, they wouldn’t make any money.” Said by a secretary at a Big Pharma, to a group of Drug Discovery pharmaceutical researchers working for various Big Pharmas at a conference being held by a Big Pharma at one of the High Throughput Screening facilities (AKA, The Vault where we keep all our stuff, managed by an actual army of robots)…and many of us including me, were cancer survivors who knew in depressing detail the limits of the ~200,000 compounds in the aforementioned vaults.

      The HPV vaccine was still pretty new at the time, so I don’t know what her thoughts on that were.

      For a while there was a consideration that maybe positive thinking and prayer helped people to feel better in a subjective way while they dealt with the stress of treatment. Turns out not so much.
      DOI: 10.1046/j.1365-2354.1997.00043.x
      DOI: 10.3390/jcm8122043
      It’s actually the other way round, in terms of cause and effect: if you’re feeling crappy due to lots of side effects, you will be miserable BECAUSE you are in physical pain. You don’t just not have physical pain due to thinking happy thoughts, pain causes you to think the world sucks because, um, objectively it does.
      I don’t know why this was a surprise to anyone. Correlation != causation.

      1. ThatGirl*

        I was just having a discussion with someone yesterday who complained about the woo fanatics FB group for thyroid cancer, which she had treated this year. And I said to her what I’ll say here: if yoga and apple cider vinegar* cured cancer, Pfizer** would find a way to charge $1000/dose for it.

        *or whatever woo of your choice
        **or whatever drug company is evil right now

        1. Lora*

          This is a true fact. We would. HPV vaccine is the case in point: Completely prevents cervical, anal, and many oral cancers, and probably a few other epithelial cancers we haven’t specifically tested for. Costs $750 for the series, covered by most insurance. While many epithelial cancers are very survivable if caught early, treatment for them is no fun at all (I’ve had it, it sucked) and very costly. You can catch HPV from sharing a towel sort of thing, you don’t have to touch someone’s swimsuit areas to catch it, and the newest iteration of the vaccine covers just about all the nasty strains of the virus. Howevermuch you may dislike needles, I’m here to tell you they are a LOT better than surgery and radiation.

          1. ThatGirl*

            For the record, the HPV vaccine does not completely prevent cancer; it prevents about 80% of cervical cancers (not sure of the stats on the others) – it’s absolutely worth getting, but it’s not 100%.

            1. Lora*

              I will stop after this because derailment, but the new one with 9 epitopes really is pretty close to 100%. The first two versions had fewer epitopes and only worked on 70-80% of cancers, but the newest one covers the last 20% as well.

              1. Jules the 3rd*

                Actually, thank you for the derailment! I am very pro-vaccine, but hadn’t kept up on the details.

              2. Beaded Librarian*

                Can I continue the derailment for a quick question? They wouldn’t give me the vaccine when it first came out because I was like a year over the recommended age. Haven’t been dating or in a relationship but would it be worth seeing if I could convince them to give it to me now?

                1. wanda*

                  It’s worth a try. The updated CDC recommendations (here: https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/68/wr/mm6832a3.htm) state, “ACIP did not recommend catch-up vaccination for all adults aged 27 through 45 years, but recognized that some persons who are not adequately vaccinated might be at risk for new HPV infection and might benefit from vaccination in this age range; therefore, ACIP recommended shared clinical decision-making regarding potential HPV vaccination for these persons.” “Shared clinical decision-making” means talk with your doctor about whether you are at risk for new HPV infection.

                  It’s also worth noting that, “In October 2018, using results from 4vHPV clinical trials in women aged 24 through 45 years, and bridging immunogenicity and safety data in women and men, the Food and Drug Administration expanded the approved age range for 9vHPV use from 9 through 26 years to 9 through 45 years in women and men (6).” So there’s no contra-indication any more.

                2. Arts Akimbo*

                  To follow up on that derailment, what about my son who got it 5 years ago? Is that the new one with all the good epitopes, or does he need it again?

                3. Quill*

                  Very worth it, it’s usually a question of if insurance will cover it, but I managed to get it just under the wire of when I was still on my parents’ insurance.

                  You may have hoops to jump through in terms of getting it covered if you’re in the US.

              3. Quill*

                No, thanks, I had forgotten the details on how much better the new one is. I will DEFINITELY be advocating it’s use for the teens and tweens in my life because hey! Become pre-emptively immune to AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE.

          2. bleh*

            Thank you for getting it right (it’s not just cervical ya’ll!) about cancer sites related to HPV and also about how it is *not* entirely “sexually transmitted.” If you had mentioned that there definitely is a way to test men for HPV, this would have been a perfect PSA to counter all the crappy misinformation about HPV.

            1. Lora*

              Well then:

              Antibodies to HPV that indicate exposure can be detected from a blood sample from anyone, no matter their gender. That said, exposure isn’t the same as being an actual carrier with active infection, and most people end up exposed one way or another by the time they’re 25-ish, which is why the vaccine is more strongly recommended for younger people who are less likely to have been exposed. You can, however, be tested for exposure and if you have not yet been exposed, you can still be vaccinated to prevent infection in the future if/when you do get exposed.

              Since HPV is one of the few viruses that can actually be transmitted by fomites (towels, shared cosmetics implements etc), think of it as getting vaccinated for toilet seat germs and move on with life.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        …. Okay, I am now going to hope that not believing in the power of prayer (beyond the pray-er finding some inner peace and balance, akin to meditation in other traditions) is going to protect me from knowing that my mom put me on her church’s prayer list.

    8. WorkIsADarkComedy*

      The amount of ignorance and belief in really stupid untruths continues to stagger me, even in these times of amazing credulousness.

      @Nope-a-sauras what did you folks say when this beknighted server gave her medical opinion?

      1. Nope-a-sauras*

        We were all kind of stunned. I think my brother said something like “Yeah, that’s not really a thing” and then we decided we were not going to get another round of drinks after all.

        It was all too raw – we’d just buried our mother the day before. We’ve said all sorts of things to each other about it since then… it’s just very hard to react right in the moment. I honestly could not trust myself to say anything without letting my anger get away from me.

    9. Observer*

      You know, I can see why someone might think it’s a good idea to offer unsolicited advice to someone – after all you have the chance to EHLP someone! (I’m not suggesting that people should actually give unsolicited advice, just that I can understand the thought process.)

      But this? Why?!?!? What on earth do you think you are going to accomplish? So much so, that I’m not so sure that his heart really WAS in the right place.

    10. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      I could say – “that’s horrible” and if applicable and possible “is there something I can do to help the family out?”
      Anything else really needs to be based on how well you personally know the affected family.

    11. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      First off “WTF” and “what a gross thing to ever say to someone, ever.”

      Second though..how did this dumb woman know your mom didn’t try “the juice cleanses.” This kind of assumption is what blows my mind a second time. “Nutrition” and “alternative” ideas on treatment aren’t hidden in a special temple somewhere and only a true dimwit doesn’t realize that most cancer patients try a lot of stuff.

      I had this happen when my dad’s diagnosis came through. Someone decided to give me the “has he thought of nutrition!” speech. “Well he cannot actually eat anything right now due to the removal of X amount of his intestines sooooooooooooooo yeah he’s thinking of nutrition a lot. Now leave me alone, he’s still getting the chemo, Thank God.”

  3. StellaBella*

    OP4: your sentence is so positive and hopeful and I am so glad it has worked out for you in your new role: “…my manager and my team respect my expertise and skills, and I honestly see a great path forward into more senior roles and opportunities.” I do think that knowing when to go and knowing your own worth are good things and am glad for you!

  4. Bookworm*

    #1: So glad things got better! I can relate–sometimes when you’re two random people thrown together in an organization it can be difficult if there’s a personality conflict or you’re just not friends (which is understandable but can be awkward). Good luck!

  5. Miri*

    I have a slightly tangential question related to #1. In my last job I’m pretty sure I was that manager. The person in the role was a good strategic thinker and had a great pro-active attitude, but he consistently missed things by not reading closely enough, forgot to double check dates/details before sending emails – small things that all of us do, but I definitely felt annoyed by how often it happened despite us talking about it. I tried to stay positive and professional, but I’m pretty sure he picked up on my annoyance despite my attempts to mask it, which made things worse (as OP 1 describes so well!).

    Does anyone have advice on how to snap out of that dynamic from the manager’s perspective? I tried so hard to remind myself of why he was hired and focus on what he was doing well, but by the end it felt like he was hyperalert to every micro facial expression or breath-holding from me, and when I tried to reassure him with positive feedback it just came across as patronising.

    1. Sara without an H*

      This can be tough. The thing about nervous or anxious people is that they’re constantly scanning the environment (including you) for signals that Something Awful is About to Happen. I found it helpful to concentrate on my breathing and body language, and to make sure that any meetings I had with Nervous Person were scheduled at times when I didn’t have anything else coming up that would make me stressed.

      You might try picking one thing that you want the employee to correct, and discuss it separately, rather than as part of the overall feedback you’re giving. (Avoid the so-called “compliment sandwich.” It will only make matters worse.) “I’ve noticed that you skim documentation quickly, with the result that you sometimes miss things that will be important to the project. Can you find a way to give a little more time to mastering the details before you respond?” Be sure to treat it as a performance issue for development, rather than as a character flaw that’s making you crazy.

    1. Arts Akimbo*

      Oh man, the open office thing? That Bloomberg tweet was like an Onion headline that some evil sorcerer brought to life!

  6. Mockingjay*

    #1: I’m glad you realized that you and your former manager just had a personality mismatch, aka different communication styles. This is probably the most valuable thing I’ve learned at AAM.

    I too have issues remembering something unless I write it down immediately. Once it’s written and I’ve read it a couple of times, I can retain it nearly verbatim. That’s why I like databases so much. The info is corralled and easily accessible. Also when things are written, the information can be corroborated by other people. It’s just how my memory functions. My husband has a completely auditory memory. He can recite conversations and events from years ago. “Remember when so and so did funny thing?” Nope, not a clue. Complete blank. But I can tell you details of a report I wrote 30 years ago.

    I’ve taken the view that all these different learning and memory styles make people more interesting and workplaces more dynamic. Like you, I’ve learned to adapt how I function in the workplace to suit boss’s and coworkers’ needs. Hopefully that’s made me a better employee over the years.

  7. JobHunter*

    It’s hard when another person’s performance quality doesn’t align with our expectations. I worked with undergrad students when I managed a lab–they made LOTS of mistakes. My situation was a little different in that it was multiple inexperienced people making the same mistakes. What helped me to keep frustration at bay was to keep track (informally) of how many times each mistake was made and structure my responses accordingly.

    For example, the first and second mistakes were pointed out and corrected. The third got a short conversation along the lines of “What’s going on? You keep doing this.” with the attitude that the person was really trying to do well. There was usually a reason the student was missing the mark. A brief discussion of the problem and suggestions for self reflection solved the issue for most of them. A fourth time got a more serious talk. Telling myself that we are all lifelong learners helped me keep my patience.

  8. thebobmaster*

    OP #3, in regards to “Apparent the ‘situation’ had been discussed among leadership, but no one ever told me-in the multiple times I’d asked my manager for guidance, he’d only ever said I was doing well and to carry on”: I have to say that is one of my pet peeves with management. If you have any kind of issue with a job I’m doing, please let me know. I can’t fix a problem that I don’t know is one.

    Plus, if I end up hearing about the complaints second-hand, that will just cheese me off more than anything, because it gives the impression of a high schooler gossiping about their “friends” behind said friends’ back.

  9. BrotherFlounder*

    LW3 – Get out, get out, get out. If that’s how management is responding to things like this, you know they do *not* have your back and aren’t being open and honest with you about problems they perceive. There’s no way for you to know how well (or poorly) you’re doing as a manager and if you’re meeting expectations if they won’t even broach problems they’re seeing. You mention there’s a lot of other dysfunction as well – that’s a big warning sign to start looking.

    1. Beth*

      LW3 DID get out. “I continued trying to make it work at that organization for some time, but things ultimately came to a head and I moved on.”

  10. CatMom*

    The sad thing about some of the self-improvement cults is that they deliberately teach you to push through your “fear” [=instinct as to what’s socially acceptable] and not be a prisoner to your “limitations” [=push their message no matter what] to prove you’ve “broken through” [=have become _their_ lemming, feeling no shame].

    1. LW2*

      I felt especially bad for Bernadette, because she grew up in a different culture and is younger, and so I suspect she didn’t catch that Jason was just pushing a different snake oil than the office MLM-of-the-week gal. Live and learn, and I think she has!

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