employee expects us all to attend her destination wedding, avoiding handshakes during coronavirus, and more

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

1. Employee expects us all to attend her destination wedding

I’m the owner of a company based in the Northeast. Our team is mighty, but tiny — only ten people, three of whom are in leadership/senior positions. One of our employees firmly believes that since we spend most of our time at work, coworkers should function more like family than like, well, coworkers. We try to find ways to gently reinforce that we all need appropriate boundaries at work, but it comes up often enough to make it clear that she considers us to be her close friends.

She is getting married next year, in a destination wedding taking place in another part of the country. She has invited all staff to attend and has even made it clear that including the whole team was a priority for her in the planning process. At this point, she fully expects that every employee will attend. The wedding is something almost constantly on her mind, and she has many emotions surrounding who will be there. It does seem like she’s (unconsciously?) using the wedding as a “friendship test” of sorts, and already speaks as if we are all confirmed guests. The invitations haven’t even gone out yet!

Of course, not all of the staff are planning on attending, though my question is about myself. I know that this event is emotionally meaningful to her. As the head of the company, do I suck it up and pay to fly across the country and get a room in one of the country’s most expensive cities to attend a wedding I don’t really want to go to? On the one hand, I just don’t believe you can expect people to automatically be able come to your destination wedding. On the other, I worry about her general morale and approach to work if I skip out on this event. (This may be an issue anyway, given her colleagues will not all be in attendance.)

What is the general etiquette for bosses attending employee weddings? What would you recommend here?

Ugh. The etiquette around destination weddings in general is that you’ve got to assume many people won’t attend — and that’s magnified exponentially when it comes to coworkers. In fact, as a default, people should assume coworkers won’t attend their destination weddings — taking time off work and paying for travel and hotels is a big commitment that usually doesn’t match up with work relationships. And that’s even true for you as her boss. It’s perfectly polite to kindly say, “I’m so happy for you. I won’t be able to travel for it, but hope you have an amazing day” and give her a nice gift.

The bigger issue is that you’ve got an employee who’s pressuring colleagues to shell out to attend her far-away wedding. As the person at the top, you’ve got to intervene. It sounds like you’ll need to have a compassionate conversation with her about not making people feel obligated to attend, especially given the cost (and presumably PTO) involved. Part of me wants to suggest you could help this go down more easily if you suggest the office do something local for her (a wedding shower during lunch, a congratulatory happy hour, etc.), but you’ve got to be careful there — if you haven’t done it for others and you do it for her, that can cause bad feelings.

2. How can I avoid handshakes during the coronavirus outbreak?

I know you’ve answered several questions in the past about handshakes in the workplace, but none directly apply to an outbreak situation like we’re currently experiencing. I’m starting a new job in about a week and a half and am dreading the obligatory new hire handshakes. I’m not a huge fan of touching other people to begin with, but with the COVID-19 outbreak the idea is even less appealing. (Especially since the parent company is based out of a highly quarantined area in Italy and I have no idea who has been to the home office recently.) I know a simple “Oh, I don’t shake hands” will get me out of any handshakes, but can I reasonably do this and not expect to be branded “that weird woman who won’t shake hands” forevermore at new company? First impressions matter after all!

Try this: “I’m avoiding handshakes right now, but it’s very nice to meet you.” People will figure it’s about coronavirus, and quite a few will probably appreciate it.

Another variation, possibly even better: “We’re probably all avoiding handshakes right now, but it’s very nice to meet you.”

3. Company’s careers page is full of fluff

I am not a manager, but my work involves writing web content for my company and our clients. One client has sent me their draft for their careers page (the content for the page that takes you to the application portal and includes info about the company’s values and benefits). Their draft is filled with what I think of as fluff and business jargon. It hypes up the culture of the company with a lot with phrases like “we are an entrepreneurial community” and “we never say, ‘it’s not my job’” and “We are a company unlike any you’ve ever worked for.” It sounds catchy, but there’s no substance to it.

Is this compelling on what is essentially a sales page for the company? It’s definitely salesy, but it doesn’t say much when you start reading closely. My instinct is to keep it short and sweet with a description of the company history, what they do, and benefits, but I don’t think my client will agree. They are a “trailblazing” new company and they Want People to Know It. If it makes a difference, most of the jobs they are hiring for are in manufacturing, with a few professional degree admin roles (accounting, IT, HR) mixed in.

Ick, yeah. People want clear, non-fluff-based, concrete info about the company, the job, the benefits, and the culture. They don’t want hype or sales pitches. (That said, if this company thinks that no one ever saying “that’s not my job” is an important piece of their culture, that’s helpful for them to tell people, although not in a good way.) Push them away from fluff and buzzwords toward specifics. The comments here may help too.

4. Phone etiquette

At my last job, I had a coworker who I could not stand, personally or professionally. One of the many things that I found irritating was that any time she called me with a question, she would launch right into it without saying “hello.” The phone would ring, I would see that it was her, pick up, and say “Hi, Teryl.” She would say “Did John approve the article?” Not exaggerating, this happened every time we spoke on the phone. My usual response, because it bugged me so much, was to take a noticeable pause, pointedly repeat my “Hi,” and then answer her question.

Obviously, this is a minor complaint, and it was probably only so annoying to me because it was in the context of so much other obnoxious behavior on her part. But I’m just curious if you agree with me that it’s really rude not to say “hello.” Like, if my coworker wrote in to you and defended this habit, would you tell her to knock it off?

Yes. That’s rude!

I would have been tempted to stop greeting her by name when she called, so that when she launched straight in, you could say, “Who is this?” Every. Time.

5. Can I ask for a new employer for more vacation time?

After 13 years at my current job, I’ve been approached by another employer about an amazing job offer with a nice salary increase. The only problem is that I’ve accrued a good amount of vacation and sick time and don’t want to lose it and start over at a new job with nothing for the first year. It’s there a way to negotiate adding some time off since I would be leaving a good deal behind?

Yes! You can say, “I currently get X vacation days and X sick days, and would be leaving X hours of accumulated PTO behind. Would you be able to match some of that so I’m not starting from scratch?” Especially as you get more senior, it’s not uncommon for employers to be willing to bring you in at a higher time off level so you’re not starting at the bottom. Here’s more on how to do it.

(Also, are you sure you’d otherwise have no time off for the first year? That’s typically the mark of a crappy employer and I’d look carefully at the rest of their benefits.)

{ 655 comments… read them below }

      1. valentine*

        Why waste time on someone who (refreshingly) wants to get to the point, especially when she knows you know it’s her and she’s undeterred by your delay?

        (I wish we had 10-codes for email/chat.)

        1. WannaAlp*

          Because it’s really disconcerting when someone takes you by the hand and drags you immediately into the pool, before you’ve even thought about putting your swimming trunks on.

          1. juliebulie*

            This comment actually changed my opinion of the subject. I was thinking how, like Teryl, I’d prefer to dispense with the niceties and get to the point too. But in fact it’s of course only reasonable to give the other party a moment to adjust.

        2. paxfelis*

          Because letting someone know you don’t think they’re worth the minimal social lubricant of a simple greeting is rude, condescending, unprofessional, and somewhat ridiculous. How much time does it take to say “Hi, it’s me”?

          1. Mama Bear*

            Agreed. If someone calls, they should at least say, “Hi”, especially when they are asking for something.

          2. Well Then*

            Agreed. I’m not hugely pro-small talk for its own sake, but it’s just rude to be so abrupt with someone. Phone manners are important!

        3. Sparrow*

          I am very anti-small talk and am in favor of getting right to the point, but I still think it’s rude not to even say hi. I dislike when people call and feel compelled to do the whole “how are you” exchange, but it’s just extremely abrupt to launch in without a “hey” or “hi, coworker.” If you want to ask a question without a greeting, send an IM (or an email, if you work with them closely and know they’re fine with that). The reality is that expectations are generally different for actual conversations.

          1. Bee*

            Yeah, I feel like if she had responded to “Hi, Teryl,” with even, “Hey, OP, did John approve the article yet?” it would’ve been equally as fast & to the point but come off MUCH friendlier.

            1. Leisel*

              Exactly. Niceties can be short and sweet, and only use a second of your time. The difference is it totally changes the tone. It’s not like you’re all running out of oxygen and have to conserve your words.

            2. Sparrow*

              Yep, exactly. Or even “Hey! Did John approve the article yet?” I might feel differently if you had to pause and wait for a response, but you don’t, and it’s as little as one additional syllable. And even though most people aren’t likely to notice you doing it, once you stop, they definitely will notice its absence because it just sounds jarring.

          2. MassMatt*

            I’m in this camp as well, not even saying hello and just launching into the issue seems rude to me. But every now and then there’s someone who prolongs the “howdy” convention and starts talking about the weather, their health, kids, sports, whatever. Let’s keep things focused, shall we?

        4. Paulina*

          The caller has the context fully in her head, but the person she’s calling does not, so cutting right to the chase saves effort only for the caller while putting more onto the receiver. The caller should assume that the person they’re calling is thinking about something else, not just sitting there waiting to give them answers. A greeting and a brief overview of the context is both polite and a good way to enable the person you’ve called to get up to speed with the situation, and treats them as more than an information oracle or someone being interrogated.

        5. Person of Interest*

          Re: 10-codes: because the social fabric of your general office is not the military. My husband was in the military and he sometimes needs reminding that military norms don’t always apply to civilian life settings. They just have different contexts and different norms.

        6. BeachMum*

          Some of this is cultural. When I moved from Toronto to the West Coast of the US, I had to remind myself to make chit-chat at the beginning of every call. At the place I worked in Toronto, everyone would just launch into it without ‘how are you’ or ‘how was your weekend’. It took me a while (and a post-it note on my phone) to remember to have a short conversation before launching into the reason I called.

          I did always identify myself, but the chit-chat was necessary here and was not necessary where I was in Toronto.

    1. Heffalump*

      And if she gave me an attitude for saying “Who is this?” I’d say, “I thought you were someone calling from Teryl’s extension.”

      1. Paulina*

        When a call is being forwarded on our work phone system, it initially displays the number and name of the phone that forwarded it. If I answer it quickly enough, I think I’m about to talk to someone quite different from who’s actually on the line.

      2. RabbitRabbit*

        I had a coworker at a previous job who thought one of our work friends was calling her line, so she answered with “Hey chicky, what’s up?” Turns out it was a manager. Fortunately, she was one with a sense of humor but who was momentarily flustered and confused.

    2. There's probably a cat meme to describe it*

      I would have been fighting the temptation to answer the phone with a different accent or greeting every other time she called, just to see if I could throw her off her intended barge-in question. “BooonJOOOOOOUUUUURRRRR Teeeeeerrrrryyyyylll!!!!” “911, what’s your emergency?” “Oh, um, hello, that’s odd there was no ring, who have I dialled?”

        1. Gazebo Slayer*

          “Joe’s Fresh Fish! We fry ’em, you buy ’em!”

          “Hello, Psychic Friends Network.”

          1. Accalia*

            “Thank you for calling Tarmac Joe’s Roadkill Cafe. You grill ’em, then we grill ’em. What did you hit today?”

            1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

              Thank you for calling Sanderson Mortuary, what type of memorial service may we assist you in planning today?

              (Was actually given in response to prank call number 15 during a high school trip by someone else in the room I was assigned – we were the only room to not get any crank calls for the rest of the trip. This was night one of a five night trip at about midnight too. And yes, we made sure it was the same room before giving the phone to that person to answer – we enjoyed getting our sleep for the rest of the trip.)

              1. Emily, former admin extraordinare*

                On a choir trip, my room answered the phone with “Holiday Inn Express Mortuary, offering eternal peace at affordable rates.” Most people (who were trying to crank call us) got flustered and just hung up, but one caller got into it, asking about cremation services, etc., then at the end said “You guys are great. This is [the vice principal]. Bus leaves at 9:00.”

                Luckily, it was the nice vice principal. If it had been one of our other chaperones, I’m sure we would have gotten a talking to.

                1. Carlie*

                  When I was in college, a friend who was over picked up my ringing phone and said “Moore’s Funeral Home. You stab ’em, we slab ’em.”

                  It was my grandmother.
                  Coincidentally, that was the only time she ever called me at college.

                2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

                  Another band trip, same person answered the crank callers
                  “Joe’s Undertaking. You stab ‘em and we slab ‘em. We’re having two for one embalming specials this week – who do we need to collect?”

                  I put them on my room with list – they had their quirks, but being in that room guaranteed you a full nights sleep on the trip.

                3. Heffalump*

                  A college acquaintance of mine used to say, “Ship of fools, captain speaking.” I usually say this only when I’m expecting a call from someone I know at a certain time. A few times a stranger has called when I was expecting a call, I’ve said this, and they thought the Ship of Fools was a night club. Hey, maybe it should be!

        2. Paulina*

          A friend of mine once answered an irregularly used lab hall phone with “Hello, Line One, you’re on the air.”

      1. Veronica Mars*

        Last month, a colleague I’d never met before replied to my “Hi, can we set up a time to talk about Project X?” email by telling me to call him. When I dialed the number, the voicemail said “The number you are trying to reach is no longer in service because Joe died.” I stared at the phone for a second, shocked, and was just about to hang up when he started laughing about how he “got me so good.”
        By way of recovery, I said, oh, ok, this is Veronica. And he proceeded to spend a full 30 seconds making fun of me for telling him its Veronica when he has caller ID….
        Needless to say Project X was a bundle of fun.

        1. MusicWithRocksIn*

          I hate people like this. I feel like they are trying to teach you to never believe a word they say. If you are rude enough to call them out that you think they are lying they will just insist they are right until you back down because it is so awkward, then they are immediately “HA I tricked you sucker!!!!” What was my response supposed to be?

          1. Veronica Mars*

            Right. Basically his entire goal was to make me feel bad about myself? Why would you want to start off a relationship with a colleague like that??

            1. Caliente*

              Please, I would have waited with weighted patient silence – like you provide to toddlers – and then said Well that was tedious…so blah blah (work stuff) and just never engage when they’re like What? What? Then you just keep talking work stuff, because they already know “what?”. Basically treat em like the children they’re being

            2. Marthooh*

              “PSYCH! Haha I’m not dead I’m just smarter than you! Now that I’ve established that as an incontrovertible fact, we can interact properly.”

            3. Tidewater 4-1009*

              I’m sure he did that to everyone he could get away with. And – not coincidentally – has few or no friends.

        2. Roy G. Biv*

          My reply is usually something like: “Oh, I’m sorry, I thought you needed my help. Apparently you don’t and I’ve got deadlines, so…. gotta go.” Complete fools double down on it, “Gee, you’re humorless, blah, blah, blah.” Incomplete fools get the hint, and get on with business, although possibly keeping up with their default setting of wasting other people’s time.

          I also use this to determine who understands the transactional nature of interdepartmental projects/help. Yes, our supervisors assigned us to this project; no, I don’t have all day, nor do I want to be your new work BFF; and yes, I will share my expertise, so let’s get it done, because I am also under tight deadlines for my primary responsibilities. I’m also less likely to volunteer nuances and deep information to a coworker who is more invested in being the class clown. Don’t squander the help when it arrives.

          1. Veronica Mars*

            Unfortunately, I needed something from this guy. Think of him as a lawyer who I needed to sign off on a plan…

    3. allathian*

      I’m a very visual person and I’m terrible at recognizing voices. My organization is fairly large, more than 2,000 employees, too many to have in my phone contacts list (we don’t have any land lines), so I need to answer the phone without knowing who’s calling. I really prefer people to start talking by saying ‘Hi, I’m So and So from X dept…’ because that gives me enough time to gather my wits. Luckily I’ve pretty much trained my colleagues out of calling, because I always ask for a follow-up email. If I don’t get one, the task is one that I’ll get back to whenever… Fortunately I have enough seniority in my job to do that. Although to be fair, the calls I get are usually heads-ups about an urgent job. I only check my email twice a day to avoid too many interruptions, so I do appreciate a call if there’s something exceptionally urgent coming in so I can check it more often. To be fair, I do prefer IM even for heads-ups.

      1. Panthera uncia*

        My extension used to belong to a field engineer who helped sales people with customer emergencies. YEARS later, I still get cell phone calls from area codes I don’t recognize, and the person always immediately launches into a convoluted explanation of their urgent problem. I have out-yell them to communicate that Eric left the company, and they’re always SO MAD that he can’t help them anymore. How badly did you need Eric, really, that you didn’t know he quit four years ago?

    4. Asenath*

      I did exactly what Alison suggests – although the caller was at a distant site and her name didn’t show up on caller ID. Of course, I knew from the number that she was one of my regular out of town contacts. When she was surprised that I asked, I just said blandly that I was so bad at recognizing voices, which was true enough. She never changed her habits to always remembered to identify herself, but she got better. It used to really annoy me when she’d jump right into chatting without telling me the first thing I needed to know – which branch she was calling from. Or who she was, which came to the same thing.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      At home, the number of people who call here and leave a message that begins with, “It’s me!” amazes and amuses me. If I speak to a person frequently I am able to pick up who it is on that garbled message but if I only know the person casually, I probably will not be good at guessing.

      The number of people who assume they have a good phone connection and their voices are clear astounds me. They know their own messages they receive are garbled, why does not it not connect that the messages they are leaving with others are also garbled. For similar reasons, it’s wise to assume that just because you get an actual person that does not mean automatically mean the connection is clear. On a normal day, I’d estimate that at least 20% of my calls can not be understood and I have hang up on the person. (I do tell them a couple of times that I cannot understand them. But I have no way of knowing if they can hear what I just said. So I say exactly that, “I can’t tell if you can hear me saying that I cannot understand you…..” sigh. We used to have phones that actually worked…

        1. Asenath*

          Not if your employer hasn’t paid for it, and not if employees of a place you deal with a lot have their numbers display as ‘private’.

          1. J!*

            At my work, our internal caller ID works fine from internal phone to internal phone. But if anyone calls my cell phone from any of the hundreds of possible phones in the building, they all show up on the caller ID as the general switchboard.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        I leave a message beginning with “It is I.” For people who know me, that pretty firmly establishes my identity.

          1. Richard Hershberger*

            Grammar pedant. Except that I really am not. I actually am more of an anti-pedant. But part of establishing one’s credibility as a grammar anti-pedant is to establish that I know the rules and can use them when I want to.

      2. Not Dr. Kevin Cozner*

        My husband, who I have known since 1999, still says, “Hi, this is [first name]” every time he calls me or leaves a voicemail. It’s hilarious.

        1. Former Admin turned Project Manager*

          Whenever my father calls me at work, he very clearly and deliberately says “Hello, Former. This is your father,” and I’ve known him since 1971.

          1. BeachMum*

            My Mother-in-law says, “This is your Mother-in-law, Cruella” and then leaves a message. (She actually hasn’t called me in over a year, but that’s another story.)

      3. whingedrinking*

        My given name is Megan, and more than once it has caused trouble on a bad connection because the person thinks I’m saying “Hello, it’s me again” and blam, suddenly we’re Abbott and Costello. I once seriously stretched the first syllable out for a good second and a half after three go-rounds. (“Meehhhhhh-gan! Megan Lastname!”)

    6. Miso*

      So many customers call us saying “Hi, can you renew my books, blah blah” and we have to be all “No problem – but who are you?”

      I understand if it’s a child, but an adult? Come on!

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        I’m having the opposite problem, where I’ll call a customer service line and ask a general “do I have the right person” question (like “can I renew my books over the phone” I suppose) and they’ll say “yes, I’ve got it taken care of” and I’m just… I didn’t even tell you my name yet?

      2. Aquawoman*

        Usually when I’m calling for service, I say what I want without saying my name, so they can direct me to the right person. When I start with my name, 100% of the time, they ask for it again when taking the info to do the thing I called about.

        1. BadWolf*

          Yes, I’m also unsure how to start my request. Should I say what I want? Or tell you all my personal information?

      3. Koala dreams*

        Isn’t that the normal way of doing it? First the greeting, then the reason for the call, and then your name, your library card number, and which book you want to re-new.

        1. Autumnheart*

          “Hi, how can I help you today?”
          “I’d like to renew my books!”
          “Sure, let’s start with your first and last name…”

          Seems like a normal decision-tree kind of conversation.

    7. MusicWithRocksIn*

      The worst was when I used to cover phones and someone would call in and just immediately launch into the entire history of their problem and just go on for minutes without taking a breath. I am just directing calls dude, tell me who you need to talk to, I don’t need all this information and none of it is helpful. I don’t know why you think the person answering the main line can help you with your production problems.

      1. Michelle*

        One of my job duties is to answer is the main line. When people start with their entire history and I know it’s going to be one of those calls, I usually say “I’m sorry to interrupt but I have another line ringing in my headset, can you briefly tell me what you need so I can get you to the right person, please”. That usually works but I will occasionally get the person who says “I can hold”.

        1. Drew*

          “OK, fine!” [hold]

          [un-hold] “Thanks for waiting. Now, can you briefly tell me what you need so I can get you to the right person, please?”

      2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        When I do outgoing calls at my job (becoming a thing again), I open with “Hello, this is Orchestra with Organization Name, can I please be connected with a person in either X or Y department who can verify Z information?”

        (I know I’m calling an operator, and I’m asking for a person because I’m not allowed due to the nature of information needing to be confirmed to just leave a voicemail.)

      3. MarfisaTheLibrarian*

        I think often people don’t really know the internal workings of a given organization, so don’t necessarily know which information is gonna be important

    8. Tellulah*

      I had a bad habit of just launching into the topic of a call without saying hello (probably lingering from my last job). What worked for one of my coworkers was letting me get through my question and then pointedly saying “HI, TELLULAH.” And then waiting silently. I very quickly realized what I was doing, apologized and said hello and asked how he was. And I started being better about that with all my calls. Of course, I want to have good relationships with my coworkers and was more than willing to adjust my phone manners. YMMV.

      1. Do I need a hard hat for this?*

        I have a coworker who’s mostly in the field, but occasionally needs to come into the office. He’ll walk into my office and just start telling me what he needs, but he’s talking to the back of my head because I sit facing away from the door (which has become an issue…I wish we could rearrange). I usually turn around and say something like, “HI, Rufus, welcome to my office. Glad you could make it in today. If you have a seat, I’ll finish what I’m doing and help you in a moment.” He’ll act annoyed with me, but DUDE, you just walked into my office and acted like you are THE MOST IMPORTANT person and I need to drop everything for you.

        I’m glad you’ve adjusted and been better about being friendly. Rufus Jerkface in my office doesn’t seem to get it!

        1. Tellulah*

          it’s actually made a big difference in workplace relationships for me. The culture at my current job is a lot friendlier and more collegial than my last one, so I also adjusted my email style, and forced myself to practice making small talk (which used to be hard, because I never knew what to say, but now feels like almost like second nature, now that I’ve gotten past feeling awkward about it). In my last review, I was told pointedly that one of my top skills was relationship building with clients. So, I’m really glad my coworker’s comment made me aware of how I was coming across and that I was able to take that as an opportunity to readjust my communication style!

    9. Bunnies!*

      I have a coworker who does this and it drives me up the ever-loving wall. I haven’t been able to articulate why until now and was wondering if I was being overly sensitive, so thanks for writing in!

    10. Bubbles*

      We use radios at work across our large campus and people never identify themselves. We have to guess who it is. My favorite response around this is asking the person to call you on a landline so you know who it is, or asking what extension you can reach them at.

      1. Former Mailroom Clerk*

        This should be Radio 101 … Initiate the conversation by saying who you are and who you’re calling (or use call signs, if you have those), wait for an acknowledgement, and then continue.

        Example from a former job:
        Them: “Light Bright 1, from Control”
        Me: “Light Bright 1 by” (I’ve always assumed this is short for “standing by”, but I never actually knew for sure … the whole org used it, so I just went along)
        Them: (request)
        Me: “10-4”

    11. Hedgehug*

      Receptionist is part of my job, and I have one regular person who cuts off my greeting Every. Single. Time.
      Me: Good morning, thank you for –
      Her: Hi it’s Jane.
      I mean, at least she is greeting me, unlike your person. But the cutoff every single time drives me insane.

      1. Tellulah*

        Aw. Maybe she just thinks she’s saving you from having to go through your node all phone greeting?

    12. hellowhereareyou?!*

      Omg, I had a boss (whom I loved, if that matters at all) and she was notorious for calling my cell phone (while we were out of the office together on business) skip all pleasantries, and start with “Where are you?!”

      Had another co-worker who was the receptionist for a time. She would transfer calls, and when you picked up would always reply “oh, uh…yeah, hi…it’s co-worker” as if she was surprised by your call. But she was doing the calling!

    13. Raquel*

      I have a coworker now who does this exact thing. He has a common name–we’ll say Mike Smith–and we have several Mikes in the office. One day he actually asked how I was before launching into whatever he needed and I was so taken aback that I said, “Oh! Is this Mike Anderson?” (another Mike in the office who WOULD always say hello like a normal person).

      1. TardyTardis*

        I would ask, ‘but are you VALENTINE Michael Smith?” and hope he was enough of an SF fan to get it.

  1. Anonariffic*

    Hopefully I’m missing something, but does the bride in #1 expect the entire company to shut down while the full staff leaves town to attend her wedding? Or does she expect everyone to fly out and then immediately head back home after the reception to fit it all into a weekend?

    1. Candi*

      I doubt she’s thought past “I want my work family at my wedding because FAAAAAAMMMMMIIIILLLLYYYY.”

      1. valentine*

        my work family
        I think addressing this and the big picture of her imagined closeness with everyone would be kind and necessary, especially for the other employees. I guess it seemed harmless until now?

        1. Mookie*

          I feel badly for LW1 because excising this kind of “culture” in such a small organization, where said culture emanates from a single, presumably valuable employee and everyone has to navigate their way round it, can be a delicate long-term operation, but this wedding business is as good a time as any to get started.

          And this is your job, LW1, as owner. As Alison says, it’s better for you to manage this now, quietly, with this employee rather than hang back and allow her to be performatively heartbroken all over you and your staff when you individually exercise the right, finally, to say no, when what you’re saying no to is one of those milestone events in people’s lives where they are expected to and often reliably do interpret any resistance to their desires as a wholesale rejection of themselves.

          The kicker is, this line-blurring and boundary-crossing between her private life and your collective professional lives has been allowed to take root to such a degree that she may feel, somewhat understandably, blindsided, humiliated. So, I’d take a page from the employee’s playbook and get out ahead of this wedding business now, before those invitations will feel hard for her to claw back with dignity. Give her the room to hold her head up and manage things, front of house-like, as though they were her ideas and intentions all along. You know your company best; if no one is likely to feel neglected by comparison, do give her a modest but sincere send-off/shower/whatever, with everyone in attendance as best as can be managed.

            1. valentine*

              where said culture emanates from a single, presumably valuable employee
              I hadn’t thought of this but I can see the letter: “My coworker considers us her closest friends and I don’t see a point in asking the manager to mitigate because she’s shown no objection.”

          1. WellRed*

            “The kicker is, this line-blurring and boundary-crossing between her private life and your collective professional lives has been allowed to take root to such a degree”

            Yes, even without the wedding, this is overdue to be addressed.

        2. Falling Diphthong*

          I guess it seemed harmless until now?
          That’s what makes this letter so sad–until now she could have her delusions and no one had to wrestle them to the ground and stab them to death. No one wanted it to go that far. But once you demand vacation days and a few thousand dollars from people, where they want some level of warmth in enquiring about how everyone’s weekend went, it’s stabbing or bitterness. Bitterness just like what you would get in an extended family who loathe each other but feel obligated to show up for every Sunday dinner.

          1. valentine*

            until now she could have her delusions and no one had to wrestle them to the ground and stab them to death.
            It’s unkind to let her have them. If you counter her narrative early on, you can either prevent a snowball or have a Big Talk sooner.

        3. Elizabeth West*

          Totally. Work is not family, unless it’s literally family.

          Seriously, coworkers, please don’t assume I’m your best friend either, especially if we never see each other outside the office. It’s okay not to invite me. Although I wish you well, I probably don’t care enough about your personal life to go.

    2. Kate*

      “She has invited all staff to attend and has even made it clear that including the whole team was a priority for her in the planning process.”

      If including the whole team in your wedding party is a priority, then how about making it also a priority to have the party in a place where the whole team can easily attend? Shouldn’t it be a no-brainer, really??

      1. Mookie*

        I’ve been in this situation, where you silently assent to a series of small things, in the hopes they’ll either/both be enough to satisfy someone who routinely pushes these boundaries in a manner difficult to say no to because it seems so congenial and harmless and normal (if you were actually friends, not just work associates) and perhaps with a view that such promises, flippantly given, can be just as easily taken away. It’s hard to resist Getting into the Spirit of someone else gregariously planning a thing you sincerely believe you’ll not end up party to (somehow) because you never know how serious the thing is: is the person just being carried away, or are they extracting promises deliberately or otherwise ? Are you a stick in the mud if you try to find out, directly, whether they are serious? Even worse, are you leading them to believe you’re now a full partner in the thing, no backsies, unless you reject every offer, receive every bit of fun news with a reminder that you will not participate? I could see both sides here, just barely, even if the employee’s expectations about a destination wedding for her very good work buddies seem outrageous to you and me.

      2. EPLawyer*

        That’s what I couldn’t wrap my head around. It’s so important everyone be there, so I am having the wedding across the country. Then its not really important everyone be there because you decided that travel would be involved. Not everyone wants to travel to a wedding destination — even blood family.

        This bride is in for a huge disappointment when she finds out her Big Day is not that important to the rest of the world.

        1. Endora*

          It may or may not be a destination wedding. It seems that way to LW. Is the bride from the other city? Is her family there?

          There’s a difference between a destination wedding (i.e., venue has no connection to the parties) and a wedding where people have to travel.

          I’m not sure which this is.

          For many people, where they live v. Where there people are may not be the same.

          1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

            That’s irrelevant. If you have to travel, it’s a destination wedding for the people travelling.

            1. Evan*

              It is relevant to the point of whether or not she’s doing it b/c she wants a princess wedding or whether she is just doing it where her family is.

              It’s still travel, but the level of logic and justification for the location is different.

              That won’t impact the budgets and time of those who have to travel, but it does make the bride’s choice less selfish.

              A lot of people are implying she selfishly chose a location with no connection to anyone. That may or may not be the case.

              1. LKW*

                Right – if her fragile grandparents live in said destination and the wedding was planned there so they can attend, that’s a lot different than “We took a vacation in Napa and fell in love with the area so we’re getting married there although all of our family is on the East Coast.”

                1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

                  This. My brother and sister-in-law planned their wedding near Nashville, TN because her 97 year old grandmother was living with a relative in Franklin, TN. They really wanted grandma to be able to be at the wedding and she wasn’t able to get on a plane, do a multi hour car ride anymore. They were also really upfront with anybody who asked why Nashville that grandma was the reason. We understood, it was travel for us but it meant older person who couldn’t travel would be able to attend in person.

              2. Beth*

                Hi I work here and it’s most definitely a destination wedding, not a family/other obligation location.

            2. Person from the Resume*

              No, that is not what a destination wedding is. A destination wedding is one with no connection to the bride and groom usually some resort or tourist destination. The bride getting married in her hometown is traditional (even after people started going away to college and not returning to live in their home town). Friends pf the bride and groom travelling to a Podunk hometown is not a destination weeding.

              1. WellRed*

                Well if it’s truly Podunk, there might be weeding involved. Seriously, though, love this succinct explanation. See too many comments (not here) about how they have to go to a destination wedding because they have to drive an hour to the bride’s hometown.

            3. Leslie Knope*

              By that logic it’s a destination wedding for any guest who has to leave their house. I agree with Endora.

            4. Jennifer Thneed*

              Strong disagree. Most of us have to travel to a wedding, if only by car. A “destination wedding” is one where *everyone* travels, because nobody lives there. The specific location is part of the appeal, and that’s part of the problem for many people in general: they’re asked to spend money and time for a vacation that they might not have chosen, and where they won’t have control over their time.

          2. Guacamole Bob*

            Yeah, my wedding was across the country from where we were living, but it wasn’t a destination wedding. It was in the metro area that we went to college in and we had a lot of affection for the area, but it was also the location that allowed as many people on our guest list as possible to have easy travel options. It was more hassle for us planning it that way, but many fewer people had to get on a plane than if we’d had it locally.

            But since it was across the country, I didn’t invite my coworkers.

          3. blackcat*

            IDK. Any wedding with significant travel for guests is a wedding you can’t expect tons of people to attend.
            I had a small wedding by design, and my husband and I paid for the hotel rooms of our friends because we wanted to reduce the financial strain of coming. This was our single biggest outlay for the wedding and it was only for 9 rooms. (Wedding was also in an easy to get to, major city near my hometown. So many people didn’t travel.) Another friend did that at her wedding, too, which was a proper destination wedding (at a resort). Her wedding was big and no one was local, so I’m sure that was $$$$$$.

            Even a “non-destination” wedding that requires travel can be extremely expensive/difficult for guests. It helps to acknowledge that. And, frankly, you just need to accept people you care about won’t be there.

            1. Evan*

              That still doesn’t change the destination v. Travel distinction.

              A lot of people are slagging on the bridge b/c it’s a destination wedding. We don’t know that. We only know it requires travel.

              1. blackcat*

                Fair! My threshold for going to a wedding is a lot lower if it’s an afternoon and the cost of a gift, rather than 3 days, and over 1k in travel costs for my family.

              2. Scarlet2*

                I think people are slagging on the bride because she has no boundaries and is pressurizing all her coworkers to come to her wedding even though it will involve significant costs and travel for them. The fact that it’s not strictly speaking a “destination wedding” isn’t really relevant. She still expects people to make a significant time and money commitment for the wedding of their coworker because she has wonky ideas about work relationships.

              3. Ask a Manager* Post author

                We know it’s a destination wedding because the OP says it’s a destination wedding and we take LWs at their word here. But ultimately it doesn’t matter — it’s still travel, and the advice doesn’t change.

            2. Guacamole Bob*

              And sometimes you have to suck it up and accept that not everyone can make it because anywhere you pick will have significant travel for some portion of your guest list. It’s not about big or small or Bridezilla or not – I detect a bit of judgment in your post about people who choose to have big weddings that require travel for lots of guests.

              My spouse and I had family in New England, Florida, LA, and Seattle, and scattered through the rest of the country. (For those not familiar with US geography, that’s literally the four corners of the continental US.) By the time we’d invited all those people to be in one place, it made sense to give them an option for dinner the night before (casual BBQ in a park) and brunch the morning after if they were still in town. It wasn’t about wanting to have a grand weekend of events centered on us, but about wanting to capitalize on the time to see scattered family and friends, and making it a bit easier for our guests to find food during their trip.

              1. blackcat*

                People can do whatever they want for weddings! I don’t judge people who plan big weddings that involve travel for lots of guests, because that’s simply the reality for people who want to have a big wedding and have a geographically spread out set of friends/family.

                I *do* judge people who expect everyone to travel. I’ve seen that happen, and I’ve seen people who don’t take “I’m sorry, but it just doesn’t work for us to attend. I hope you have a wonderful day.” well.

                My husband lost a friend because we weren’t in a financial position for even one of us to fly to a wedding in Europe at the time. We had a household income that year of like 25k, and flights for one person to this eastern European country (where the bride and groom were from, so it made sense) were going to be like 2k per person. We just couldn’t do that, and his friend never forgave him.

                Weddings can be wonderful, fun, moving events. But they can also be expensive and not doable for guests for other reasons (like getting time off of work). Failing to acknowledge the second part, and failing to accept people won’t make it is rude, IMO. And that’s what the coworker in the letter is doing.

            3. Kate*

              Among my friends and relatives (admittedly living in a rather small European country) it is more or less a given that unless the party is happening in a bigger town or ends early enough, the bridal couple pays for sleeping arrangements. Usually it is not a hotel, though – this situation arises when the couple has booked a venue deep in countryside, and that venue has also some rooms to stay in. (Last time, my husband and I stayed in a room of four.) I married young enough for most of our friends being carless, so my parents also booked a bus that took on guests from two major towns they lived in. So, we could have lots of friends at our party with no special costs for them!

          4. Dust Bunny*

            “She is getting married next year, in a destination wedding taking place in another part of the country. ”

            The LW literally said it was a destination wedding. They’re in the NE and since the LW says the wedding is in an expensive area I’m guessing Las Vegas or Los Angeles or some other glamorous place out west.

            But it should always be a given that if you’re getting married somewhere that means your guests will have to travel, you’re going to get more RSVP “no”s than you might for local people. I’ve skipped lots of cousin weddings because I don’t live anywhere near my extended family and sometimes I can’t do the travel time and/or the money, and none of them has ever given me guff about it. If I were to get married I fully expect that a lot of my own friends and relatives, who live literally all over the country, wouldn’t be able to come. That’s just how it goes.

            I wonder if the LW here might be able to play the “we can’t close the office” card and get her to settle for an office celebration instead? It might not work with somebody so overinvested, but it’s worth bringing up.

          5. Observer*

            It really doesn’t matter why the wedding is where it is. If you make a wedding a significant distance from the people you invite you NEED to expect that a lot of them are not going to come – even family, even if you have a perfect reason to make the wedding there.

            I’m married for several decades to someone whose family is a day’s flight away from New York. His family wanted the wedding in their hometown, for very understandable reasons. My pushback was that it was going to mean that most of my family and all of my friends would be able to attend. There would have had to be MUCH stronger reason for us to do the wedding there.

            When on of my kids got married in a city that requires either a day of driving or a plane flight from my hometown, I knew that a LOT of people, including some close friends and family wouldn’t come. Not because anyone has an objection to destination weddings – it wasn’t. It was in the bride’s hometown and the only way to insure that her grandmother could attend. But, those people still didn’t travel. Nor did I expect them to.

            The point being that you cannot make a wedding at a distance and have the same expectations of attendance as you would for a local event. If the attendance of the local people is THAT important to you, make the event locally. If the destination is more important, that’s fine. You just need to understand the dynamic at play. The only difference the specifics of the destination “mater” is in how much sympathy I’d extend. “Destination” wedding, none. Enabling an ailing parent to attend – all the sympathy in the world. But none of that changes the practicalities of the matter.

            1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

              This. My brother and SIL did this for her grandma, and also didn’t get upset about anybody who wasn’t able to get there because of costs. It was just really important to her to have grandma there, so that meant travel for the rest of us.

          6. Mel_05*

            She could have perfectly valid reasons for where she’s holding the wedding.

            But, I don’t think she can really say that having the coworkers attend was a priority… when she made it really hard for them to attend.

            1. valentine*

              she made it really hard for them to attend.
              We don’t know that this is the case. She must have Ideas about why it’s all possible, but, given that she has named names and no one has said, “Actually, there’s no way I can go to Toledo in fall,” there’s no reason to think she knows anyone has a problem with it.

          7. KayDeeAye*

            If the OP says its a destination wedding, why should we doubt him or her?

            In any case, in the context of this question, it doesn’t matter. It’s a wedding that requires extensive travel, many people won’t be able to attend because of the travel, and the bride-to-be should not be guilting anybody – particularly coworkers – into attending.

          8. Richard Hershberger*

            Fair enough. There is still a solution, however. I had a good friend, an American, who married a Finn. They had two ceremonies, each with a reception.

            1. Western Rover*

              Good solution. When I married, we also had two receptions (but only one ceremony), one in the city where my wife grew up and one in the city where I grew up — and these cities are only 500 miles apart.

              1. Richard Hershberger*

                If the two ceremonies bit seems weird, couch the second one like a reaffirmation of vows–just a bit sooner than is usual for such things.

          9. Librarian1*

            Endora- I agree with you. I’ve had to travel for most of the weddings I’ve been to as an adult because my friends are from different parts of the country and live in different parts of the country and I moved away from the area I’m from. I don’t consider those destination weddings because not everyone had to travel to get there, but some of us did.

        2. Candi*

          I wouldn’t want to travel that far for personal, and probably very selfish, reasons.

          I’m a military brat. I was born on the US west coast. My dad was stationed in (then West) Germany in the 1980s. I’ve been back and forth across the US because he always insisted on driving us between his various postings. We also went on drive-cations every year.

          He retired when I was 13. His and mother’s work schedule changed, but we still did weekend stuff from time to time.

          While in Germany, we visited a museum that had an original Gutenberg Bible. I’ve seen Niagara Falls, the Kennedy Space Center, the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone (and Old Faithful), Mount Rushmore, the Great Salt Flats, the Giant Redwoods/Sequoias, a dozen Philadelphia museums, the Ohio State Fair, the Statue of Liberty (didn’t go in) and on and on.

          Even years later, I am still sick to death of travelling. At this point, the ONLY travelling I plan to do is for work once I graduate. Either for the company’s business, or to move to where I’ve taken a job. Vacations will be spent at home.

          And that means I’m not travelling to anyone’s wedding. Even if that’s selfish.

      3. Antilles*

        It should be a no-brainer, sure. But if she was the kind of person to honestly and seriously think through the destination wedding and what that means for the guests, she would have already accepted that this is the trade-off.
        By choosing to have a destination wedding, you are by definition going to end up excluding people who you’d normally want there and who would come if it was local…but just can’t make it work. 100%, guaranteed, going to happen*. Due to finances, child-care, inability to get off work, health issues, other commitments, or a million other things, there’s going to be people who just can’t swing it as much as they might want to.
        *Unless you’re sufficiently wealthy to literally pay for every single attendee to show up.

        1. Observer*

          *Unless you’re sufficiently wealthy to literally pay for every single attendee to show up.

          Even then, it’s not going to happen. Cost of travel and accommodations is only one part of the problem. Stuff like what happens to your job, child / parent / other dependent care, health issues all play a role that can’t be dealt with by paying for the flight and hotel room.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            Oh, people claim that. Then they follow this employee’s pattern of bemoaning that their beloved office friends are sending regrets while Great Aunt Edna decides to show up. And since it’s so expensive, Great Aunt Edna’s gift to you is her presence.

      4. Falling Diphthong*

        How about making it also a priority to have the party in a place where the whole team can easily attend?

        The office kitchen!!!!

        I would show up. Especially if cupcakes were involved.

      5. Richard Hershberger*

        I generally interpret an invitation to a destination wedding as an implicit statement that while the person issuing the invitation feels obliged to include me on the list, they are really really OK if I send my regrets. I can just barely imagine an exception if I were a particularly close friend, but then I would also expect a more proactive conversation.

        In other words, if you want people to come to your party, don’t go out of your way to make it difficult for them.

    3. Liane*

      I was surprised that neither the LW nor Alison brought up that if everyone attends, company will probably need to shut down. Is company never open weekends so Anonariffic’s idea could work? Or does it have a very odd schedule like only open a few hours per day so this is possible if everyone works 8 hours Monday through Wednesday the week before? Or is the company doing so well they can afford to close completely for a week or so and maybe lose some customers?

      1. MusicWithRocksIn*

        That was my first question too. I feel like the LW could provide a lot of people cover by telling the bride he can only approve time off for X amount of people at one time (and maybe X is the amount of people who actually want to go)

        1. WellRed*

          This is a lot of trouble to go to for something that shouldn’t be an issue in the first place. It’s past time to address this more broadly, before coworkers wind up pressured into being godparents or offering eulogies.

          1. Panthera uncia*

            I mean… she definitely won’t be able to guilt you for not doing her eulogy.

            Or she will, since black magic in the workplace IS a known risk.

      2. Antilles*

        It really depends on the business/industry and how long people would be gone for.
        If the wedding is on Saturday so people could basically make a long weekend out of it and you’re only closed for a day? It might not be much of a deal at all. Plenty of companies are effectively ghost-towns several days a year (Friday before Memorial Day, the week of Thanksgiving, if July 3rd is a Monday, that week between Christmas and New Year’s, etc). It might not be perfectly ideal, but in many industries, nobody would blink an eye over an automated email reply of “I am out of office on Friday, March 13 and will be back on Monday; if you need urgent assistance, please call my cell at ____.”.

      3. Falling Diphthong*

        Ultimately, the problem isn’t that everyone wants to come and can’t, but that no one wants to come even if she had scheduled the wedding for the week everything is down for maintenance.

        1. Richard Hershberger*

          Were I her coworker, and were the wedding local, I would suck it up. I would treat it like an office holiday party: show up, make sure the important people saw me there, then slip out the side door as soon as decently possible. But traveling for this? Nope.

    4. Snuck*

      I think it’d be good if the OP can sit down and have a private chat with her, late in the day. I’m not sure exactly what to say, but something along the lines of “Jane, I wanted to chat to you about your wedding. We’re all very happy that you are so happy with your plans, and speaking for myself I am so glad you’ve had such fun planning it. I also wanted just to check in with you, because I’ve got the impression that you feel we’ll all be coming. Clearly for business reasons we can’t all go, someone has to man the ship! But also, I know many of our staff have other commitments on their time and money, and are unlikely to be able to come. I wanted to let you know now so you don’t feel upset if they decline to go to your wedding – they are very happy you are happy and want to celebrate with you, but I suspect they can’t make it all the way to *city for it. Maybe you could organise an impromptu celebration here for all of us who can’t attend in *city and we’ll enjoy celebrating with you? I would offer to organise something but I’m in a tricky HR situation if I do because it’s hard to draw a line as our business grows, but I would love to celebrate here in our town at some stage with you.”

      And…. clear the deck for whatever she organises in your home town. She’s going to be upset by the sounds of it, but if she goes off the rails and starts demanding who can and can’t come etc then step in again and say “Hey! Please! We work together respectfully here, no pressuring each other about things thankyouverymuch” and manage the inappropriate behaviour if it looms. She’s allowed to feel upset, she’s not allowed to be abusive.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        This is excellent.

        I’d also add that because of the costs involved, if everyone did this the expense would be too great and far beyond realistic for people to shell out for each person here. Just as all family members do not attend every family wedding, not everyone that works here will be able to attend your wedding. That does not mean we are less happy for you, it just means that we need to pay for life necessities first.

        I would not offer a party or anything because, again, if you do it for one you have to do it for all.

        Unfortunately, it’s up to the owner/CEO to set the tone for the company. But you can say that this is not a sustainable activity as people will not be able to afford to do this over and over. You can also point out that the wedding is indeed optional and people are free to make their own decisions, this is not a company event where attendance is mandatory.

        Definitely, do not pay for everyone to go to this event. nooooo. That’s just going to open the flood gates.

      2. NotAnotherManager!*

        Yeah, since she’s making it so clear she expects people to attend and there is concern she sees not attending as some sort of disloyalty, I think OP needs to have a chat with her sooner rather than later. It sounds like she’s going to be hurt either way, but better to rip the band-aid off now. I would also address the whole work v. family comments she’s made, too, as that sets the tone for her unrealistic expectations.

      3. WellRed*

        Love this, thought I wouldn’t ask the bride to organize a separate party for the office.

        1. Snuck*

          I wouldn’t ask a bride to organise a party, but I’d indicate I was willing to go if they did… it’s a different thing. It’s common for there to be multiple events around weddings, and she would have all sorts of people in her work-town that can’t fly to wedding-city that she could then include in a happy hour drinks, or a picnic in a park or whatever. IF she wants to. The idea here is to remove expectations on a destination wedding, and allow people to escape the invite if they want to, but not to slam the door on her happiness sharing. So if she can share it in a way with people who can’t make the destination, then that would be lovely (but not expected).

      4. Just Me*

        I think Snuck has an excellent script. Do it soon enough so it’s not sprung on her at the last minute. While it may not be what she wants to hear, if it’s delivered in a respectful and compassionate way, hopefully she will understand.

    5. Sled dog mana*

      This was my first thought too, who’s going to man the ship if everyone is across the country at her wedding?

    6. Miso*

      I’m nowhere close to getting married, but if I ever do (and nothing drastically changes) I’ll probably invite all my coworkers, too – it’s only about three.
      But that’s honestly a problem, because we’re open on Saturdays… So I’d have to find a long weekend where we’re closed or something. I don’t know. Considering I don’t even have a boyfriend right now, I already thought about this way too much…

      1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

        When the time comes, don’t plan your wedding date around your co-workers ability to attend.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        You might not even be in that job by then. Seriously, I think people overestimate how close they are to coworkers. Once you’ve moved on, many times you find out that all you had in common was work and you never see them again. So it might not even be an issue.

    7. JessaB*

      There’s also this issue that she thinks they all have leave, can all take it at once, and all have money. Especially when you invite the high level boss. People tend to believe their bosses make enough/a lot of money, and don’t take into account sometimes they’re underpaid, or have school loans, or family/personal medical issues to pay for.

      It’s pretty arrogant to think that a company will shut down a department for a wedding, and that everyone has the money and the time (what if someone doesn’t even have leave time for this?)

    8. Librarian1*

      OP really needs to shut this down. I’d be so uncomfortable with this if I were an employee there.

    9. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      She’s clearly a narcissist who can’t understand that the world doesn’t revolve around her wishes.
      My colleague did this: had a destination wedding and expected me to go to another city for the weekend. I told her it was too long by car (six hours – so we’d do that on Saturday then come back Sunday, basically spend the whole weekend in the car just for a reception where we wouldn’t even know anybody), she answered that it was only one hour by plane. Yes but there are four of us, and we can’t go there and back in the day so we’d need to also book two hotel rooms. She was upset because in the end only one child would be present. What kind of parent would inflict such nonsense on their children? In the end, because so many people refused to go, they had champagne after the local civil ceremoney in the morning, so we went to that at least – and even with just that my kids moaned that it was boring. When I told them what I’d declined, their eyes almost popped out of their heads!

  2. Willis*

    OP #1 – I think declining the wedding invite (warmly, politely, etc.) would be a good example to other staff members that there’s no pressure from management to attend. Unless you’ve made a big deal out of attending other staff weddings/events, you shouldn’t go to this just because she wants you to. Declining would seem to be more in line with setting boundaries that you’re not a family, while attending just because she’s pressuring you to blurs those boundaries. Also, I’d give whatever “level” gift you’ve given to other staff that have gotten married. Don’t give her something especially nicer just because she’s is making a big hoopla about her wedding. (Or if no one else has gotten married, plan that whatever gift you give this employee, you would give the next person something of similar value.)

    1. PNW Dweller*

      Yes, I think OP1 can use that to help soften the blow and give the rest of the employees an out too. However if there is one person that wants to go, it’d could be framed as a concession along the lines of ‘because of how fond we all are of you that we can allow both you (the bride) and Susie to have time off for the wedding.’ My fear for OP’s employees is that the bride may pick coworkers to be in her wedding party since she see’s you all as family.

      1. MK*

        Surely they can refuse? It sounds to me that being in a wedding party is a significant expense, both in time and money.

        1. Mookie*

          I think it’s more or less a given that they will. The idea is to intervene before the invitations are given, or to help manage the employee’s expectations. There are a number of ways, direct and indirect, to signal to the rest of the group that it will be okay to treat an invitation as a gesture—after all, the LW can say and the employee herself can agree, we all feel like we “helped” plan it!—rather than an expectation. The LW sounds like she wants to help her employees feel good about declining while helping the employee to understand why doing so makes sense, is appropriate, and is not an insult. The employee is, I’m sure, bright enough that a mass decline subverts the fantasy she has that all these people are close friends; the best that can be done, and it’s good for her, too, is to allow her to receive that information without feeling like a fool or like an authority figure had to intervene in an embarrassing way.

          I think that’s the idea. I do understand why some people might think nothing of saying no and meaning it. I have a feeling this group is not accustomed to that level of directness, at least when it comes to this colleague.

          1. There’s probably a cat meme to describe it*

            I think when PNW Dweller and MK referred to being “in the wedding party” they likely meant it as in bridal party, aka bridesmaids and groomsmen. That’s a very different thing to refuse.

            1. Mookie*

              Thank you, I completely missed that. What I don’t know about weddings can fill an infinite vacuum in a Borges-like library.

        2. SheLooksFamiliar*

          I know some folks who would stand in a wedding if asked, because that’s just what you do. It’s an honor to be asked, right? It might be easier for them to just agree and find a way to make it all work than to hurt the bride’s feelings.

          Still, I hope the OP does what she can to soften the blow, too. It sounds like the bride has impossibly high expectations of her co-workers, and she is bound to be disappointed if even one person doesn’t attend.

    2. There's probably a cat meme to describe it*

      I was coming to say the same thing. The other 9 staff will be looking to see what you do and factoring that into how they handle it themselves. That you declined will probably come as a relief to most, knowing there’s no pressure to attend.

      Yes, it’s probably going to be a painful thing for her, realising that her faaaamily feelings about her coworkers aren’t reciprocated. But it’s not on the rest of the company to change their (completely reasonable and appropriate) boundaries to please her. And this is something she needs to learn and accept about work life.

      I think Alison’s suggestion of a shower or happy hour is nice. She should gracefully accept that gesture instead, and if she can’t or doesn’t, well, there’s value in learning that about her too.

      (And BTW, what is it about weddings that turns regular, reasonable people into complete batshit fruit loops?)

      1. Candi*

        Endorphins, adrenaline and being the center of attention are seriously mind-altering drugs? For some people, anyway?

        1. Mookie*

          And often that’s the by-product competing cultural, religious, and class differences + expectations that come along with it. An old and very heterogenous tradition that can be observed casually or formally or anything between but that, for many people, is less a private and more an intensely public affair that gains meaning only when situated in its rightful place within a larger community, a performance, a declaration of status, wealth, power, kinship, or lack thereof. The union of families or the casting off of formal familial relations. Sometimes there are multiple ceremonies to acknowledge the different and often competing facets of the concept of marriage. Frequently it is an opportunity for friends and family of the couple to finance the early years of the union in cash- and asset-strapped places. Sometimes they function as a second, post-marriage “debut” for the couple as a single social unit, and thus may require complex etiquette that can be hair-raising to plan and produce. Not every marriage or union involves or necessitates one, and that is a choice imbued with some meaning, too, as are weddings and receptions that are no more functionally different than, as you say, an opportunity to throw a lavish and impressive party.

          1. Endora*

            A lot of middle-class Americans think weddings are no big deal because they are just lavish parties to them. That’s not universally true. For a lot of people, they are deeply, deeply meaningful.

            When I hear “it’s just a wedding,” I think “to you.”

            1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

              That may be true, but you can’t expect everyone to consider your wedding as deeply meaningful as you do. It’s okay to be disappointed if someone is unable to attend. It’s not okay to make that person feel guilty because they aren’t putting as much importance on your wedding day as you do.

              1. Evan*

                Hey, you cannot post here under multiple names to try to make it look like your viewpoint has multiple people supporting it. I’m removing your comments where I see you’ve done that. – Alison

          2. Avasarala*

            Yes. When you attend someone’s wedding, it’s a nice event and a great time. When it’s your wedding, suddenly you have to perform love and commitment lavishly enough to show your stability and hospitality, but frugally enough to not seem tacky and break your budget; appease both partners’ parents and all their baggage and hopes; work with vendors in an industry that preys on emotions and deliberately hides its price gouging; wrangle all your loved ones to a single location; and be fair and legal and meaningful for the couple and their expectations of what love and marriage look like.

            How could this possibly drive anyone crazy? Ha, haha, hahahaa…

      2. hbc*

        We don’t have many rights of passage in our culture. A lot of the religious ones we do have aren’t at an age where we consider the participants really adults (or at least, *I* couldn’t convince my mom to let me make my own adult decisions at 13 after my confirmation.) Marriage/weddings have those traditional ties to starting an independent life, and a lot of people need that ceremonial recognition from society.

        Also, marketing.

        1. Quill*

          My mom said she wouldn’t make me get confirmed at 13 because she wanted me to make the decision as an adult…

          Well, we all left the church shortly thereafter.

          So the only rites of passage I’ve really dealt with since first communion are graduations. And a 21st birthday party that involved playing Cards Against Humanity while drunk. :)

      3. JessaB*

        It doesn’t even have to mean they don’t reciprocate some or all of her feelings, there’s can’t afford, don’t have the leave time, cannot leave x function uncovered whilst you’re gone, etc. There are a zillion reasons that do not parse out to “we don’t liiiike you.”

        But yeh the whole family thing when it’s not a privately held company to which you’re related is a bad hole to fall into.

        1. aebhel*

          Yeah, I’ve missed the weddings of people I dearly loved because I couldn’t afford plane fair and/or didn’t have the vacation time for it.

          Although I definitely would not be shelling out for a plane ticket to go to a coworker’s wedding, no matter how much I liked them.

          1. Filosofickle*

            I missed the wedding of my best friend of 20 years because it was in Alaska, and I was broke in grad school. It sucked. She 100% understood.

            1. whingedrinking*

              And on the flip side, it’s nice when a couple acknowledges that you went to more effort than just putting on a dress/suit and driving across town. I went to the wedding of a high school friend who lived three time zones away, and he and his husband made a point of thanking me for flying out to celebrate with them when I don’t make a huge amount of money or get a lot of time off.

      4. Richard Hershberger*

        It’s not just a matter of “family.” My brother-in-law had a destination wedding. Neither my wife nor I attended, because of all the usual issues with such things. I assume he was OK with this before they began planning it. Another brother-in-law got married locally. Everyone was there. Pick your priorities. But just because someone is family, much less “family,” doesn’t mean they can schlep out to wherever you are holding this thing.

    3. AcademiaNut*

      That’s an excellent point. It’s very possible that some of the other employees are feeling pressured to go, or at the very least anxious and awkward about how to say no without a scene.

      It’s a bit tricky because the office hasn’t actually been invited yet, so they can’t RSVP normally. But the OP could have the employee for a meeting, explain that she won’t be able to attend the wedding, and that it’s not a good idea to pressure her coworkers to attend.

      As far as the family thing goes, the only family members I’d attend a destination wedding for are my siblings. And my own sister didn’t come to my wedding because of distance (we got married where we live, which was on a different continent from where my sister and her family lives). So you can be actual family with someone and not be able or willing to go.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Yep – my siblings didn’t make either of my weddings, nor was I at my brother’s. It happens.

      2. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

        I mean, it’s lovely that the bride is excited about her wedding, as she should be! But pressuring her coworkers to attend, especially since it’s a destination wedding which would involve travel and all of the time, expense, and energy that goes with that, is unreasonable. Yeah, sure, I’ll forgo my own vacation that I planned this year (or other things I need/want to pay for or spend time on) because of YOUR wedding.

    4. mark132*

      Even if you’ve made it a big deal to attend other staff members weddings, it is radically different going to a wedding across town vs across the country (unless of course your country is Luxembourg.)

    5. jojo*

      instead of a gift the office here takes up a collection for special occasions. make sure the can is out from Wednesday to Wednesday over a payday weekend. she gets whatever is collected one week after the collection is over.

    6. Not Australian*

      And if this is the pressure she’s putting on her work colleagues, just imagine what her poor family are going through! (“I don’t care if Uncle Edgar’s in spinal traction, I want him to walk me down the aisle!”) We could be veering towards bridezilla territory there.

      1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

        This is where I jumped to. I can understand being excited about your wedding and wanting the people you spend the most time with to be there, especially if you have a close and friendly work culture. But this sounds exhausting to me already! As someone who sort-of had a destination wedding themselves (got married on a different continent from the rest of my family) I can’t understand the presumption that people will be able to spend the money and time for a long-distance trip. Not to mention that it sounds like the whole company would have to shut down, which is not reasonable.

        If she is only just starting to plan this, hopefully she is just in that giddy first phase of “wow, this is really happening!” and will get more realistic once she actually starts looking at the costs. Maybe casually saying the next time she brings it up that it sounds amazing but you’re not sure you’ll be able to go and then moving on to something else might plant the seed that blooms into the flower of reality without too much pain.

        1. Paulina*

          It sounds more to me like time for “of course I couldn’t go, I’m doing xxx this summer” (where xxx is something they themselves are planning and find important) instead of “not sure I can go.” It’s an unreasonable expectation and it seems like an reset on the bride’s expectations of their coworkers is needed.

      2. juliebulie*

        With her reliance on coworkers as family, it’s possible that her own family is small/dead/estranged/etc.

      1. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

        Also, OP1 writes: “As the head of the company, do I suck it up and pay to fly across the country and get a room in one of the country’s most expensive cities to attend a wedding I don’t really want to go to?”

        I know this will sound harsh, but as the head of a company you should be skilled enough to say “Sorry, I won’t be able to make it. Best wishes to you and your fiance.”

        Really. Say no to things you don’t want to do that you are not forced to do. Practice in low-stakes situations if you find it hard to do that.

        The bigger issue Alison mentions is important and a slightly challenging one, but please shut it down by talking to the person getting married.

        1. Viette*

          Yeah. As a business owner, you have to attend all kinds of events you don’t really want to, but your employee’s out-of-town wedding isn’t one of them.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      When my husband and I got married his boss and boss’ wife gave us a lovely card and a $100 bill. That was it. And we were very happy with that, as we had no expectation of a gift or anything. It was also clear to us that this is how other employees would be treated in the future.

  3. FaintlyMacabre*

    Exit, pursued by a bear, from negotiations with companies that don’t offer PTO in the first year.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      OP is in the position of power, being recruited. Isn’t that the point where you be blunt in negotiations and ask how they’re going to match your current PTO?

      1. FaintlyMacabre*

        While yes, OP can negotiate for more, in my personal experience, companies that make you wait to either use or accrue time off are not wonderful employers. Even if the OP gets their time, they’re still stuck with shortsighted employers who think employees don’t need time to recharge or be sick.

    2. Batty Twerp*

      Our company offers pro-rata accrued leave. In other words, it builds up during your probationary period and the first year.
      Although, we’re in the UK, so sick paid time off is a given straight away. And, unless it’s exceptional circumstances that were made clear during offer acceptance, it would be massively frowned upon for a new hire to take a week leave in their first month of training.
      Obviously, the higher up the org chart you go, the more the rules change, but I think only our brand new CEO gets the full 30 days right off the bat.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        Also, in the UK you can’t lose accrued PTO, so LW would be leaving her current job with a nice fat cheque (-ck) equivalent to the banked time.

      2. londonedit*

        Everywhere I’ve worked, you technically accrue holiday allowance, but it’s given to you up-front when you join. So there’s no waiting for a certain amount of time before you have a day off to use. Holiday is pro-rata, so if you join in June you’ll get the remaining six months’ allowance, but it’ll be ‘Here you go, you have 16 days pro rata to use before the end of the calendar/holiday year’. You don’t have to wait two months before you’ve accrued enough holiday to book a day off. There are often rules about not taking holiday during your probation period, but if you’ve already booked something before you join and you let them know as soon as you’re offered the job, then companies will usually make an exception.

    3. Emily S*

      I parsed the phrasing differently from Alison – I parsed “I don’t want to start over with nothing for the first year,” as more, “I don’t want to start over with nothing [accumulated going into] the first year [when I’m used to starting every year with a cushion already built up]” rather than, “get no vacation at all the first year.”

      1. Autumnheart*

        That’s how I interpreted it too. If you work somewhere where PTO is accrued incrementally, then yeah, you wouldn’t have any days accrued when you start.

      2. theycallmemimi*

        I dunno, it does happen. At my current workplace, you accrue sick time starting your first month, but receive your vacation time as a lump on your anniversary. I think it’s cruddy but it’s not unheard-of.

    4. MCMonkeyBean*

      I can’t tell from her letter if they really don’t offer any in her first year, or if she just means that she currently has a ton that’s been building up in her PTO bank and when she starts at the new place she will of course lose all that she has accumulated and start at 0 again (but will still accrue some in the first year). I’m thinking she meant the latter.

      First thing is to check if she’s in a state where all of her accrued PTO has to pay out! I was pretty surprised to learn when I left my job last year that NC is such a state and I got a nice check for the 10 days of PTO I had banked when I left. If you get what you have accumulated paid out to you it definitely won’t feel like you’re losing anything.

      Second thing is definitely negotiate on vacation! I am a terrible negotiator but that is the one thing I negotiated at my new job. It’s such an easy thing for them to say yes to. My first job starts you at 17 days of PTO per year and then after 5 years bumps you up to 22–so when my new job was offering me 15 I got them to bump it up to 20.

      1. CmdrShepard4ever*

        I do think you still feel like you are losing some because you are starting over your PTO bank from scratch. Even if you get your previous PTO paid out, OP cant roll that over to the new company. I am the type of person that usually likes to have a 7/8 days of PTO in the bank for an emergency. Not to sound all poor me, but I recently used up most of my PTO between a wedding I was in and an unexpected vacation. We found a great deal that gave us free flights but the travel time was during a very small window and earlier than I expected and had to dip into my PTO cushion. It left me with only 2 days of PTO, I will accrue more but it will take some time. I don’t like being so close to being out of PTO it makes me uneasy. I like knowing if I wake up feel like I need a mental health day I can call off. But with 2 days right now I know I need to save them for when I actually feel sick sick.

        At my old job you could not take PTO during the first 3 or 6 months of employment but you still accrued PTO. But if you took even just one week of PTO after that time it used up a lot of your bank. At my current job you accrue PTO during your 6 month probationary period but you can’t use it.

        For OP depending on how much PTO they get, in order to build their bank back up they will have to forego using much if any their first year.

        1. boop the first*

          The point of the PTO is so you have money on the days you’re not working. If it’s paid out, you have the money. I guess this concern makes sense if companies forbid UNpaid time off, and I guess that sounds like it’s a thing, but it’s not very ethical to force people to work completely against their will…

          I get that as a society, that kind of thing has been accepted somehow but wow.

    5. MOAS*

      Would it be an option for OP to take a vacation and then

      I learned in my first year that I will never accrue so much PTO that I end up losing out on it esp b/c my company doesn’t pay it out when you leave. I’d rather have an unpaid day or two if necessary (and I did lose a weeks pay when I had to travel overseas for a funeral) than to just lose it all. Our PTO policies have changed over the years (from PTO & sick in one bank to having them in separate banks and increasing the amount of rollover year to year).

      I’ve seen people go on vacation and then come back and give notice and work out their notice so their PTO didn’t go to waste.

  4. Willis*

    I’m torn on #4. When I worked in a small office where we commonly buzzed each other by phone, it would be normal to start a conversation without any greeting. We’d probably said hello in the morning anyway. But if I was calling someone in a different department or office that I didn’t see on a daily basis, I’d probably start with a “hi, co-worker,” at least.

    1. There's probably a cat meme to describe it*

      Yeah it only takes 1 word:
      “Hi Teryl”
      Hey! Did John approve that article?”

      It’s so reflexive to say Hi or Hey back that it makes the omission of that teeny tiny syllable seem especially deliberate and rude.

      1. OP #4*

        Yes, exactly this. And the fact that it happened every time, even when I drew attention to the fact that she was doing it, made it seem like she was deliberately being rude/making a point about how important she was in comparison to me.

        1. Lucy*

          You are reading malice and ill-intent into an action is most likely not a conscious act.

          Yes, this is rude (in American culture)*. I don’t, however, think she’s doing it AT you.

          She’s most likely this way with everyone. It’s most likely a habit, not a conscious choice.

          She still needs to stop bc you find it rude.

          But please be careful of veering into BEC territory without evidence of malice.

          The kindest thing for you to do is to either correct her by saying “is this Jane?” Or taking her aside and saying you’ve noticed things have become so comfortable between you she’s stopped greeting you but instead curtly launches into her spiel. You can frame it as a kindness to her because you don’t want her to get into a habit at work that would cause her issues if she did it to a higher-up or client.

          *in my travels as a consultant, I have worked places where people didn’t greet each other when dialing internally and just launched into the issue at hand. It’s not universally rude in my personal experience. Phone etiquette varies greatly across the planet. For example, Americans say hello when answering but a lot of other cultures answer by stating the name of the person who picks up, even when dialing a direct line or cellphone.

          Also, I was at an event over the weekend in a place in the South where performative politeness is not only the norm, is required from cradle to grave. Nevertheless, I had several people walk up and just launch into “save the date for x.” Yes, it isn’t polite, but it’s not purposefully rude.

          Most rudeness in life isn’t purposeful. It’s unthinking. Humans spend too much time in their own heads and don’t often see how small choices or unconscious actions in our part impact others.

        2. Observer*

          Unless you actually said something to her about it specifically, beyond ” to take a noticeable pause, pointedly repeat my “Hi,” and then answer her question.” You actually did not “draw attention” to the issue. I DO say hi to people – it’s just part of normal phone etiquette. But if I didn’t for some reason , your response would totally go right past me. Now, I’m fairly solidly in the realm of normal social awareness, but this really is waaaay to subtle.

    2. Emily S*

      I’m a little torn too, because OP starts with, “Hi Tercyl,” instead of “Hello?” When I call someone and they pick up and address me by name right away, it actually throws me off a little because the script I’m expecting in my head is for a greeting phrased as a question.

      If it were me with that specific phrasing, I’d probably still say, “Hi,” before launching into my question. But I have had colleagues who will sometimes answer their line with something like, “Hey Emily, what’s up?” and my instinct is always to launch right into answering, “What’s up?” under the assumption the other person had intentionally powered through the greeting to get to the substance of my call. Prefacing my answer with “hey” or “hi” when they’ve already moved on to “what’s up?” feels a bit like I’m doubling back to a part of the conversation that we’d already blown past. So I partly wonder if it’s being greeted by name that makes Tercyl feel like the customary “hello/hi” ritual is being shortened or bypassed.

      1. PhyllisB*

        I agree, Emily!! When I call someone and they answer, “Hi, Phyllis!!” Or “What’s up, Phyllis?” it throws me off. Usually I will start a call with a greeting, but when I get this, I feel like they’re saying get right to it. I think instead of “Hi Teryl” they should just answer hello and see if that changes things.

        1. Katherine*

          Maybe it’s because I’m old enough to have answered phones when I *didn’t* know who it was, but I thought greeting a person by name, when there’s caller ID, was kind of the norm. Not just at work- when my iPhone rings and a friend’s name comes up, I answer and say “Hi, Friend.” What do other people do?

          1. Filosofickle*

            For good friends or colleagues, I usually greet them by name with a positive tone so they know the call is welcome. “Hi Name!” For awhile friend of mine hated that, so when she called I pretended I didn’t know and just said an old-school “Hello”.

            If the call is from someone I don’t have much of a relationship with or who isn’t expecting me to know them, I’m more likely to announce myself instead: “This is Filosofickle”. Many business people are expecting to announce themselves and it can be awkward if you knock them off their script.

      2. iliketoknit*

        Not saying your response doesn’t make sense in your work context, but I think it’s overcomplicating things a little in a context where, as it seems, the OP knows from their phone who’s calling before they pick up, which is the case in my office, too. When I call internally, people regularly answer “Hi iliketoknit,” and I respond, “hi, [name], I have a question about [whatever].” It doesn’t feel awkward or weird like I’m backtracking just to say “hi” before getting to the reason I called. And when they call me, I say, “hi [name],” and they say, “hi, iliketoknit, I’m following up on [whatever],” and it doesn’t feel weird when they do it back to me. No “hi” at all from Teryl really would feel kind of abrupt and rude, especially because presumably the OP answers everyone’s calls by saying “hi [caller],” and Teryl’s the only one who doesn’t say “hi” back (I can’t imagine the OP would find it so annoying that Teryl does this if everyone else in their office did it as well).

        The only exception is if I’ve been on a call or calls with someone and they call back like two minutes later to follow up – then it’d probably be like I’d say “hi” or “hey” or “what’s up” and they’d say “so I talked to Jane.” But that’s because it would be a continuation of an ongoing conversation, not the standard reply.

      3. Marthooh*

        Yes, exactly what I thought! OP #4 was skipping a step in the usual telephone script by not saying “Hello?” or “Opsie here!” or some such thing.

  5. Turquoisecow*

    OP4, interestingly enough I had a coworker who was basically the opposite of yours. We had caller ID on the phone that displayed the name and extension of any internal calls, so you’d know who was on the line when you answered. Despite this, one guy always greeted you with “Hi, John Smith here,” before getting down to business.

    He did this even if you picked up the phone with “Hi John.” Another coworker once replied by gasping with mock shock and saying “THE John Smith?! Oh my goodness, let me find my autograph book!” but it didn’t deter him. It was just this weird quirk that he had.

      1. Fikly*

        Introducing yourself when someone has already greeted you with your name isn’t polite or not polite. It’s redundnat, and thus a quirk.

        1. Ferret*

          It does’t have to be a full introduction, but expecting someone to say “Hi!” or the equivalent before launching into a list of demands isn’t some kind of weird quirk. I know AAM tends to skew against social rituals in a fairly extreme way but this is just silly

          1. Ferret*

            I never said that it was purposefully rude or a universal role. – in fact I never said the other person was rude at all. I just stated the OP4 isn’t some kind of bizarre outlier for preferring a one-word greeting.

            My broader point was just pushing back against the idea that anything beyond a series of robotic requests for information is equivalent to spending hours slacking or that enjoying a casual “Good Morning!” or “How are you?” is something only done by a pushy, inefficient, extreme extrovert one step away from the OP who stalked someone who failed to respond to a greeting

          2. Emily S*

            That’s not what Turquoisecow was describing though. He was describing someone who would respond to, “Hi John,” with, “Hi, John Smith here.”

            I would consider that a funny quirk too, not because he said “hi” or expected a greeting, but because he specifies his full name when he’s already been addressed by name. It’s even a bit charming (I can just kind of picture the type of person this is, and if it’s the type of person I’m picturing they’ve been lovely to work with in my experience) but it’s still definitely a weird quirk.

            1. Ferret*

              I know that which is why I specifically said what I was talking about – which is the situation OP has described

              1. Emily S*

                Ah, the comment threading made it seem like you were weighing in on the debate of whether Turquoisecow’s coworker giving his name was a weird quirk as they described it, or “politeness” as “Old person” was arguing, rather than commenting on the letter.

                1. Ferret*

                  Yeah, threading can get a bit confusing. I agree I would probably file Old Person’s colleague under “has a particular verbal tic”

                2. CmdrShepard4ever*

                  Maybe this is how you define a verbal tic, but I think it might just be more of an autopilot answer.

                  I am on the phone with outside people a lot, often they are calling me and my usual greeting is “Hello thank you for calling llama corp, this is CmdrShepard, how can I help you.”
                  I will occasionally use the same script when I dial an outside line. I have had some people respond “No you called me.” lol

                  Sometimes even when I see the caller is Jenny Smith a coworker in my small office that I interact daily, I still end up giving them my full outside greeting.

          3. Fikly*

            I wasn’t talking about saying hi, I was referring to the example of this person saying “Hi John,” and then John responding with “Hi, this is John Smith.” That’s…a quirk.

    1. jojo*

      in my work we all answer the phone with name/dept. if it is and outside line we answer it company/ name.

    2. Helvetica*

      We have the same caller ID system but people still answer with their name and say their name when calling because…it is polite? Greetings are a social courtesy we all do. I have never thought of this as being weird. I answer the phone the same way John Smith did and it sometimes turns out that the person has mis-dialed or chosen the right FirstName wrong LastName from the phone book, so this is an elegant way for the mistake to be corrected before launching into questions or topics, which would bewilder the person who wasn’t meant to be called.

      1. Mongrel*

        And sometimes you’ve dialed the right phone but they’re away from their desk and the person next to them has picked it up (more of an open-plan thing I’d guess).

      2. Sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

        I learned the habit of saying “SSSS speaking” for internal calls because one time, a call came in and the call display said it was Exec sec DeDe and I replied “Hey!” cheekily and it was her boss, the VP of our department, instead of DeDe.

        I was embarrassed. He didn’t notice.

      3. iliketoknit*

        If I call someone and they just say “hello,” I say “hi it’s iliketoknit” (even though I know their phone is showing it’s me, if I call from my phone). But if they say “hi iliketoknit,” I just say “hi” and launch into the reason for calling.

        If I’m answering my phone I do tend to say “this is iliketoknit,” because it’s my default for outside callers and sometimes I don’t really think about who’s calling. And even though I basically never answer a line that’s not mine, I have done the thing of answering the phone thinking X has called, saying “hi X,” and finding out that it’s really Y using X’s line. So weirdly I say “this is iliketoknit” so there’s no confusion, even though there isn’t going to be any confusion!

        1. Leslie Knope*

          My coworker spends a lot of time on the phone with our vendors. He’s usually outside of the office so most of the calls he makes are on his cell. He’d call vendors and say, “Hi, this is Benedict Cumberbatch with Soandso Company.” He would call me on my cell and, out of habit, say the same thing. Of course I would know it was him, so I would wait for him to finish his greeting and cheekily respond, “Well, hello! I’m so glad you called! This is Leslie Knope, also with Soandso Company. How can I help?” He was easy to embarrass, so it was kind of fun. Poor guy guy finally wised up and paid more attention to who he was calling…and ruined my fun.

    3. Retail not Retail*

      I have a coworker who will say her name over the radio when paging someone “john this is teryl” but sometimes our radios are super wonky and even though she has a distinctive voice, you hear the teryl part and you’re confused.

      Luckily she’s not in my department, we just share a radio channel.

    4. Granger Chase*

      I had a coworker like this too. He passed away a few months ago, so this brought a smile to my face because I always thought it was a funny quirk of his. No matter how many times I greeted him by his first name when I picked up the phone, he’d respond with “Hi Granger, Full Name here!” It became a bit of a race for us to greet each other first. Sometimes when I’d pick up the phone he’d start saying hello as soon as he heard it stop ringing lol. I always just got a kick out of it though.

    5. Karo*

      If I call a coworker and they pick up with “Hey Karo,” I don’t identify myself, but if they don’t imply that they know who it is I’ll always say “hey, this is Karo from the Teapots department.” If I receive a call, I always answer with “Hello, this is Karo.” I just…don’t know how else to start the conversation in a way that’s appropriate. I don’t judge people who don’t identify themselves, but the mock shock was a bit mean.

    6. whingedrinking*

      My mother cannot wrap her head around the universality of caller ID and without fail, when she calls, I pick up and say, “Hi Mom,” she starts with, “It’s your mother.” I just try to live with it.

  6. staceyizme*

    I think that the kindhearted boss is overthinking the wedding question and is overly focused on the feelings of the bride to be. It’s imperative to take a systems view: giving on to prevent hard feelings isn’t reasonable or even likely to succeed. Take the focus off of the wedding and get back to being that great team. You’ll be doing her a great kindness by reminding her that life isn’t all weddings. (Also, colleagues aren’t family and nobody has the right to expect people to accept an invitation on the grounds of perceived closeness or for any other reason. Decline. Send a nice gift, if that’s what you’re comfortable doing. Build up the team, not the single member.

    1. Candi*

      Also, bride’s behavior pushes serious boundaries that must be reinforced, stat. Bent boundaries, from blurred to trampled, will only hurt the team in the long run. There are sooooo many examples in the archives.

      1. Scarlet2*

        Yeah, I feel like LW is one of those bosses who lose sight of the fact that they’re the one with the power. I think they need to be firmer when they draw boundaries, instead of “gently” pushing back. It looks like that one employee is turning into a missing stair and I’m sure the rest of the team would be immensely relieved if “family” employee was reined in by her boss.

        1. EPLawyer*

          Because the wedding is only the start. Making a massive assumption here but when babies come along she is going to expect her coworkers to be at the baby shower, be excited about baby’s first day of kindegarten, go to the kid’s school plays, etc. The sooner you let the bride know that the company is work where everyone can be cordial and friendly but it does not make them friends, the better off the company as a whole will be.

          As the boss, you set the boundaries. Good on you for already realizing the company is not faaaaamily. Now re-enforce that to the rest of the company.

    2. Batgirl*

      “reminding her that life isn’t all weddings.”
      So much this. You would think that some people were only going to be married for the one day before being ritually sacrificed at midnight.

    3. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      I’d turn the focus to business continuity and tell the bride that only X people can be out of the office on any given day (e.g. the Friday before and the Monday after the wedding), with the bride being one of the X people, and that the OP, as owner, will stay behind. After all, they are a business and need staff to function. The bride needs to be reminded that her “work family” needs to work to stay together.

      1. JB*

        I understand the impulse to find an excuse to smooth things over, but I don’t think that’s the best idea.

        Even though it’s hard, i think it’s better to tell her “no” and not give her a quasi-true reason that the blame can be passed to the boss, with out her confronting the fact that she’s being unreasonable.

        Finding excuses to say no is the story of my life, but I’m learning it’s better just to shut down the issue so they don’t keep trying to get around it and learn reasonable behavior.

        1. valentine*

          with the bride being one of the X people, and that the OP, as owner, will stay behind
          This would have OP, instead of rightfully using their power to tell the bride they feel merely collegial, even after let the situation fester, using it to escape the pressure and let the chosen few fend for themselves.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      Take the focus off of the wedding and get back to being that great team.
      I think the problem is that the wedding is so far off in the future that preemptively explaining about how the entire office is planning to have prior commitments that weekend will land as cruel. Bride has set this up so that a crushing of the feelings is inevitable.

      1. Gazebo Slayer*

        In that case, maybe OP should focus on the fact that a lot of people won’t be able to afford it, or won’t have enough PTO (or will need to use PTO for something else).

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          OP should not offer up excuses. That’s an invitation to the person receiving the excuse to think up a work-around.

          1. valentine*

            “Not everyone loves weddings!” Seems like a good way to go?
            Not when the truth and root of the problem is “Not everyone loves you!”

    5. Archaeopteryx*

      Not sure about the bride’s age or amount of work experience, but it’s possible but she’s heavily influenced in her expectations by shows like the Office or Parks and Rec as far as the “work family” idea.

    6. Marthooh*

      “…I worry about her general morale and approach to work if I skip out on this event. (This may be an issue anyway, given her colleagues will not all be in attendance.)”

      OP #1 should worry about other people’s morale, too! We see too many letters on this site that amount to “Difficult coworker is difficult; boss lets them get away with it, ugh.”

      1. Gazebo Slayer*

        Seriously! You can’t concern yourself too much with the feelings of unreasonable people. Often, when you do that, you end up alienating multiple reasonable people to cater to someone’s ridiculous whims. Sadly, the reasonable ones are less likely to complain, and too many people operate by a rule of “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.”

  7. LobsterPhone*

    Re. 4 – my colleague frequently starts a question in the middle of her train of thought or without anything more than a completely out of the blue “Did you see that email?” or “That’s interesting, isn’t it?” I now respond with a flat a) what are you referring to? or b) context please? Both of these work pretty well in getting her to stop talking and actually think about the words she’s producing.

    1. Candi*

      My daughter does this so much. I’ve been trying to get her to not do that by questioning her about what she means.

      As her mom, I usually know what she means. It’s people she’ll deal with in the future that’ll be annoyed or frustrated by her topic switching. (And the interrupting, and the talking AT you when you’ve told her nicely to don’t do that…)

      She’s hunting for her first job, so I don’t have a lot of time. :P

      1. I'm A Little Teapot*

        Unless by 1st job you’re talking about a 16 year old or something, it’s too late. She is going to get a very rude awakening at some point (hopefully), but it won’t be by you. You absolutely can have a discussion with her about how that sort of thing is going to be viewed, but don’t expect a significant change.

    2. 'Tis Me*

      My mother is one of those people.

      When I still lived with my parents, I got in once quite tipsy and she started chatting away to me. I interrupted her to let her know my level of inebriation meant I couldn’t follow her train of thought at all. She said OK and carried on talking undeterred.

      That was the point when I realised it was a stream of consciousness being arbitrarily directed towards me, rather than a conversation in which I was expected to participate etc.

      Also, at what point do you stop calling your parents’ home “home”? I stopped living there full time almost half my lifetime ago, and have lived in the same place which my husband and I co-own for a decade and I still had to correct myself from calling their place home here!

      1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

        I have multiple homes depending on the context. The house that I live in, the apartment that I stay in when I’m working away, the hotel room I’m staying in on any given trip, my parents’ house (even though they moved into a totally new place a few years ago and I never lived there), the country I live in, the country I grew up in. Unless I’m trying to explicitly say that a place isn’t my true home, or that I don’t feel comfortable there, then I don’t worry about it too much. People usually understand that when I say “let’s go home” after dinner out when I’m on vacation I mean “let’s go back to the hotel room”, not “let’s cut the trip short and leave right now”. Or that if I’m taking a trip “back home” I’m going to visit my family overseas.

        Maybe this is a regional dialect quirk, or just my own wierdness?

      2. DarthVelma*

        My mom gets a great deal of amusement out of the “home” thing. I live about 1,400 miles from my hometown. When I’m flying back to see my family, I say I’m flying home. But when I’m flying back to where I live now, I also say I’m flying home. I’m about to turn 50, so I can’t tell you if it ever stops. :-)

        1. Quill*

          My parents moved away from my hometown and my mom continues to refer to their spare room as “quill’s room.” Which she doesn’t do to my brother.

          (I’m the oldest, but for financial and ‘didn’t go to grad school’ reasons I’ve lived with them since college graduation, until the move.)

        2. Librarian1*

          I do this too! I’m a bit younger than you, but I’ve lived in my current city for 9 years (was living with my parents when I moved here) and I call both places home.

        3. nonegiven*

          Son has been gone for 25 years, the spare bedroom is still Son’s room when we answer a question, “where is noun?”

      3. Asenath*

        I left my parents’ home at 15 to continue my education and never lived there full-time again, although I visited. I wasn’t all that much older when they and the siblings still at home moved to another country for work, so I hadn’t spoken or thought of my parents’ home as mine for a long, long time before their deaths. It’s very common here for people to ask about your home meaning where you grew up, which is assumed to be where your family still lives, and I’ve gotten very used to saying something like ‘I grew up in Small Town (or Region), but haven’t been back in years/have lived longer in City/ or something similar.

      4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        My parents’ house is definitely “my parents’ house” and not home, but they only moved into it four years ago and I moved out (Jesus wept) 20 years ago, so it was never *my* home.

      5. Richard Hershberger*

        Stream of consciousness: It is quite liberating to realize that this is what is going on. You can put down your phone and go about your business. You could probably even hang up without its being noticed, but I suppose that would be rude.

    3. Mystery Bookworm*

      I can do this as well. The problem is sometimes things I’ve only thought about seem to get mentally logged in my head as things I’ve talked about. Definitely something I try to work on.

      I hope your colleague responds graciously when you point out her error!

    4. SweetestCin*

      I’ve spent years trying to train myself to make sure that all the thoughts that are in my head leading up to “did you see that email” come out of my mouth. Its really hard because there is usually a LOT of noise in the form of multiple trains of thought at once in there. Copious amounts of caffeine are legitimately my best helper here. (That, and coworkers who know me well enough to say “hey, we lost you three turns ago on the GPS, help?”) The recent knowledge that I was given an ADHD diagnosis as a child, and my parents opted not to medicate me as it was the early days of the medicines for it, I can at least acknowledge that I’ve learned some questionable coping habits and a major caffeine addiction as well as some actual realistic coping mechanisms!

    5. Yorick*

      My boyfriend does this, start a sentence with “He,” but “he” refers to someone we talked about three topics ago, or even yesterday. He’ll also often start his thought about the president or some other very famous person with “That guy” and then act surprised that I don’t know “that guy” refers to Trump or whoever.

    6. aebhel*

      I have soooo many patrons who call and just launch into a conversation halfway through, it’s bizarre.

      (I now have a game when I’m on the reference desk to see how long it will take someone to get to the point of their call. There are so many people who will call about a book, launch into a story about how they heard about the book and why they’re interested in reading it and other books like it that they’ve read and how their daughter-in-law recommended it and then ask me if I could please set it aside for them, sweetie, without ever telling me (a) their name or (b) any identifying information about the book itself.)

    7. LunaMei*

      I do this with my coworkers (boss included), as we work in IT and they will come up to me and say something like, “What’s up with Test?” “Test” being, some random testing environment – it could be a database, an application, etc. We have a LOT of things named “test” in IT. Gotta be specific!

    8. 1234*

      At OldJob, I was dinged for “not communicating clearly” so whenever someone says “What do you mean?” or “IDK what you are talking about.” in both my personal life and work, I cringe and work really hard to make sure that I am being as clear as possible.

    9. Richard Hershberger*

      One of the lawyers I work for does this. I have taken to responding with “What case are we talking about?” even if I have a good idea which it is. The hope is to eventually train him.

  8. Aphrodite*

    OP #1, more than the wedding I found this part of your letter disturbing and, frankly, the bigger problem:

    “One of our employees firmly believes that since we spend most of our time at work, coworkers should function more like family than like, well, coworkers. We try to find ways to gently reinforce that we all need appropriate boundaries at work, but it comes up often enough to make it clear that she considers us to be her close friends.”

    How long has she been employed there? Has this attitude been in effect since day one, or did it develop over time? Is she much younger or older than your other employees? Is the she type who always wants to organize and/or push others to have holiday parties, celebrate birthdays and so on, organize happy hours or team lunches, comes up with team event ides and more? Why do you let it go on–and how long has it been going on?–with only gentle suggestions rather than straightforward talk? Do you sense any discomfort from other employees without anyone actually saying anything (because, maybe, they think you, the boss, want to encourage it, or at least tolerate it well?

    Just some thoughts . . .

    1. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

      This! I worked with someone, let’s call her Jane, at ex-job who did this. At one point Jane was trying to organize a baby shower for a co-worker and was running a few dates by everyone to check availability. Fair enough, but one person, Matilda, said she wasn’t available on any of the dates Jane had in mind, and politely said to just go on without her. When Jane insisted that Matilda give her dates when she was available, Matilda reiterated that Jane just go ahead and make the plans without her. Jane then replied that “we are a TEAM” (yes, she capitalized that in the email) and again insisted that Matilda giver her dates when she would be available. Matilda wasn’t even that close with the mom-to-be coworker and she just didn’t want this thing to be scheduled around her. Jane was really overbearing with things like that. They weren’t even work related. It made others really uncomfortable. People like that need to realize how uncomfortable they are making their coworkers feel.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        If I were in this situation, I’d strongly suspect Matilda didn’t want to go to the shower, and had no intention of doing so, no matter when it was held. People like Jane, who ignore those social cues, are the worst. (BTW, some advice for the Matildas of the world who find themselves dealing with a Jane? Go ahead and give a date, and then, uh oh, the water heater died and you have to stay home all morning (or afternoon) to wait for the plumber!)

        1. There’s probably a cat meme to describe it*

          Genuinely curious as I find myself in a similar situation at the moment… how would you respond to: “But we changed it to this date, several months ago, especially for you since you couldn’t come any other time!” Because I feel like it’d have to be more than a water heater that died to be a good enough excuse for that.

          1. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

            I’d never be in that situation because if someone didn’t take the hint that I didn’t want to attend I’d have said it explicitly. No excuses. Instead say “I don’t want to participate.”

            The world would be a lot better if more people were blunter. I’m doing my part in that. I emailed my boss about something like this a few weeks ago. A little scary, but beating around the bush was not going to cut it.

          2. Ask a Manager* Post author

            If you don’t want to outright say it (because of whatever dynamics), you can say, “My schedule is in constant flux right now, so I can’t ask you to plan around me — there’s no way to know what it will look like with certainty.”

          3. Rusty Shackelford*

            Yeah, if they actually *changed* the date to meet your schedule, rather than picking a day early on because you said you were available, that’s a lot trickier. Probably the only graceful way out is to claim illness.

      2. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

        At a certain point, the only legit response is “I’m not ever available for a baby shower.”

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          Sure, if you’re willing to salt and burn that relationship. But you don’t always have that option with coworkers.

          1. Observer*

            Which is why the OP needs to step in. If people believe that being straightforward is going to torch their relationship with FAAAmily Employee, then they are going to be reluctant to do that. If the OP, as the final say here, gives the impression that they expect people to be “nice” over being clear and direct, that’s another reason people will be stuck when trying to deal with it.

            The OP needs to prioritize clarity, the REASONABLE expectations of the rest of the staff and actual kindness over being “nice” and humoring truly unreasonable expectations.

          2. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

            Oh no, if at all possible you must escalate the conflict – otherwise you’ll be sucked into nonsense forever.

    2. Richard*

      “Is the she type who always wants to organize and/or push others to have holiday parties, celebrate birthdays and so on, organize happy hours or team lunches, comes up with team event ides and more?”
      These are definitely parts of a pretty normal friendly office culture, especially a small one. I’ve worked in (including my current job) many offices where this would be normal and comfortable for everyone, assuming these are all optional activities. I’ve never worked anywhere where someone expected everyone to come to their wedding, or even invited everyone to their wedding. There is not a clear path from wanting to do some social things at work and erroneously believing that your coworkers are your best friends.

      1. Librarian1*

        I used to work with someone who used to push for social events and other activities even when it was clear that the other people in the department weren’t really into them. She also would complain that people didn’t seem that interested or didn’t want to participate, but never thought “huh, maybe people aren’t that interested in this and I should stop pushing it.”

  9. Zombeyonce*

    I think that OP#1 needs to have a conversation with the bride soon about the wedding before she makes too many plans around her expectation that her entire office will attend. Otherwise, she may be making decisions that can’t be undone before invitations are sent and she finds out the hard way that what she thinks of as “family” is really just a regular office she has out way too much emotion into.

    It would be a kindness to gently explain to her now that co-workers don’t often attend destination weddings sis he shouldn’t plan around heavy (or any) attendance. Give her time to process that instead of finding out by opening impersonal No RSVP cards. It would also be a kindness to your employees so they don’t have to each come up with excuses as to why they individually can’t attend and be grilled about it by her.

    1. There's probably a cat meme to describe it*

      My only concern about that conversation is framing it around “coworkers don’t often attend destination weddings..”

      If she’s as overly emotionally invested in her workmates as it sounds (and truly does see them as family), and if it’s still a while out from the wedding, that could be the impetus for a change to a local destination. Going to a local wedding is still expensive by the time you get frocked up / buy a gift / organise childcare / etc. Maybe some of her coworkers aren’t up for that expense for someone they don’t feel close to. Or maybe they would just prefer to spend that day doing something else, guilt-free. They should still feel able to politely decline, regardless of where the wedding is.

      So if OP has a gentle conversation with her, I think it needs to include work/personal boundaries and managing her emotional expectations in general when it comes to her coworkers. Kindly explain that since they already spend so much time at work, it’s important for many people (OP included) to leave work at work, and that means they’re not really up for socialising with coworkers beyond the Christmas party. For that reason, she shouldn’t plan around heavy attendance… etc.

      1. Chai Latte*

        Unrelated, but “frocked up” is my new favorite phrase. Thank you!
        And yes, the wedding planner might just pivot to a local party with the same unhealthy expectations.

      2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

        Gentle yes, but the conversation must be direct. I have a feeling that her previous conversations have been more “hint-like” than direct. You’re not doing the employee any favors by beating around the bush. The employee sounds like a boundary pusher and needs a reality check. It doesn’t matter where the wedding is located, unless any of the co-workers consider her a good friend, they’re probably not going to want to attend and shouldn’t be made to feel obligated to do so.

    2. Bagpuss*

      Yes, I think it would be appropriate for OP#1 to (a) let her employee know that she won’t be attending the destination wedding, and if at all possible, doing so in a way that allows other staff members to see she has declined and that it is OK to do so, and (b) have a personal conversation with the employee and let her know that while Boss and colleagues are happy for her, and friendly, that not everyone is likely to have the time, money or availability to attend the wedding and that she should focus on planning an event that is what she and her partner want, and what works for their respective families and close friends.
      I think if the employee says anything overtly about seeing them as “work family” then it would be reasonable to push back a bit – perhaps saying something like “It’s nice that you see your coworkers here in such a positive light, but these are work-based relationships and I’d suggest that you think of them as something which happen during working hours”

    1. OP#2*

      Would definitely work in a casual friends environment, but I’m worried about coming across as too young since I’m replacing a much older admin.

      1. Uldi*

        You could try, “I’m not shaking hands right now for obvious reasons,” with a smile and maybe a small head bob (more than a nod, not quite a bow). Be matter-of-fact about it, and people should accept it.

        1. Anonymouse*

          Toe tap with shoes.

          Wear blue gloves. Mention Firefly convention in town.

          Slide past their hand and grab their forearm. Mention Special Forces convention in town.

          Mention “I am waiting for my coronavirus test results.”

          1. LabTechNoMore*

            Mention “I am waiting for my coronavirus test results.”

            That might not be compelling enough. I would go with, “I’m awaiting ebola test results” whilst feigning a sneeze. That would ensure no handshake.

            But really, claiming to possibly have COVID-19 if you don’t is not a good strategy. You will be sent home in short order, but not before the room is cleared by way of stampede. I’d try to bring up CDC recommendations as shorthand, if not wanting to explicitly mentioning corona virus concerns: “Oh! CDC said not to shake anymore. But I’m happy to meet you!” delivered warmly while waving.

            1. LabTechNoMore*

              …And now I’m realizing all of your suggestions were facetious. I blame corona virus.

          2. Sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

            “Wear blue gloves. Mention Firefly convention in town.”
            OMG! Too funny. This would confuse a lot of people though!

            1. Quill*

              Two by two, hands of blue…

              Well, it will keep people from touching you but they’ll also worry about people murdering each other with their brains.

            1. Indigo a la mode*

              My coworkers and I say “Corona bump!” and mime a fist bump, stopping about six inches shy of touching each other (and, in my case, making up for it by saying “boop!”). After all, everyone’s coughing into their elbows; I don’t want them touching me.

        2. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

          This. It’s not a big deal. If someone is offended, there are bigger issues at play than the lack of a handshake.

      2. Sleve McDichael*

        Could you go with something along the lines of ‘I’ve had people tell me we should all do elbow bumps, but I won’t inflict that on you’ said in a friendly, joking tone? I did that to a colleague today.

        Actually I then followed it up with an acted description of the little toe tap greeting dance (right to right, left to left) that my Mum taught me on the weekend, but that might be a little silly for your workplace.

        1. Sleve McDichael*

          P.S. the elbow bump thing is super gross considering that’s where we are all told to sneeze.

          1. 'Tis Me*

            I assumed the elbow bump was the outside of the elbow whereas we’re sneezing into our inner elbows?

          2. Ferret*

            Presumably you aren’t eating with your elbow or touching your face with it though, which is the point

          3. WellRed*

            Elbow bump is outside of elbow, sneeze into crook of arm. Also, I don’t know about you all but I couldn’t touch my elbow to my face if my life depended on it.

            1. Carlie*

              I have it on the authority of two nurses that it’s ok to use your forearm if you don’t have the shoulder mobility to hoist your elbow to your face, just be sure you’re covering your whole mouth.
              (unless you mean the outside of your elbow, in which case never mind, ha ha.)

        2. There's probably a cat meme to describe it*

          Love it. I have a meeting tomorrow, I’m going to try this!

      3. Nobody Here by That Name*

        I’ve had luck leaning in to the fact that everyone should be aware of coronavirus now and reacting to offers of handshakes with a polite “Whoops! We better not, just to be safe!” with a smile and attitude like we both momentarily forgot not to shake hands. It gets the same end result of no handshake but without the risk of coming off like the strange no handshake person.

        1. Chocolate Teapot*

          At Monday’s Commonwealth Day service, HM the Queen did a lot of polite nodding. She usually wears gloves anyway.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            Ooh there’s an idea — steal a trick from the Royals and carry something so your hand doesn’t get taken for pumping?

        2. BethDH*

          I would appreciate that because I actually have just forgotten several times. Enough people are not shaking hands here that I don’t think OP will stand out in any way for this.
          And hey, maybe a benefit about will be helping establish other greeting norms to help out people who don’t like shaking hands other times!

      4. Dragoning*

        Honestly, I accidentally offered someone a handshake at work yesterday out of habit and they accepted and I immediately regretted it like “why did I do that.”

        I think many people are feeling similarly.

        1. EPLawyer*

          Do this all the time. Meeting up with clients there are handshakes. When we leave court I often get a hug (its family law there are a lot of emotions). I know better but it still happens. I am working on remembering no handshakes/hugs for now. I also wash my hands and am carryiyng hand sanitzer and wet wipes.

        2. Guacamole Bob*

          There’s a clip floating around social media of a prime minister and health minister shaking hands at the end of a press conference where they were telling people not to shake hands. They realize their mistake pretty quickly. But it’s hard to break ingrained social habits.

      5. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I think everyone is in a similar boat to you right now, though! These are interesting times. You may have seemed weird or standoffish last month, but at this point, most of us are avoiding handshakes. I’m no germaphobe and I am personally ok with a handshake, but most people I meet are avoiding them and that’s fine by me.

      6. circuit*

        I (24) went to an event with a bunch of older women I’ve never met a few days ago and everyone was fist-bumping or elbow bumping instead of handshaking. People will understand! Good luck in your new job!

        1. OP#2*

          Thanks Circuit! The age thing is my main concern since it was something that they brought up in the interview. The current admin is retiring and I’m coming in for a month of back-fill training with her before she leaves so I don’t want to emphasize our age difference to people if I don’t have to. Good to know the older crowd is cool with putting handshakes to the side for now.

          1. Jennifer Thneed*

            I’ve got to say: there is no “older crowd”. There’s just these particular older folks who have or haven’t been educated about handshaking.

          2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            OP2 demonstrating a responsible attitude towards preventing infection should count towards being mature, you’ll be fine just reminding everyone not to shake hands at the moment.

          3. schnauzerfan*

            I think, based on my own friends, that us “older” folks are very aware of the need of social distance right now. Much more so than some of the younger folks who aren’t in the high risk categories.

            1. Indigo a la mode*

              That’s a good point. I’m in my 20s and healthy and statistically nearly guaranteed to shake off the virus if I get it, so I’m not too worried – but that’s a privilege, and one lots of people don’t have. We lucky ones need to be mindful of that.

          4. sacados*

            One thing that I think has been a comment on other posts about people who don’t shake hands for other reasons — is that if you are able to be the person to initiate the greeting then you can pretty easily take control of it and steer it how you want.
            It can be awkward to shut someone down when they’ve already gone in for a handshake. But if you’re the one to start it “Hi, so nice to meet you!” and then give a friendly wave, the other person will almost always take their cues from that and not try to shake hands after the fact.
            Of course this may not always be possible if the other person beats you to it, but it can be useful for those times when you are able to get in first.

            1. JobHunter*

              When they dive in (or I forget and I initiate the handshake myself), I’ll ask “Air handshake?” It gets laughs and the social ritual out of the way.

          5. Secretary*

            I’m in the Bay Area where there’s quite a few cases. Bumping elbows instead of shaking hands isn’t coming across young at all no matter who is doing it. I actually feel awkward if I accidentally offer a handshake because most people aren’t shaking hands around here right now.

      7. ...*

        Our company has banned handshakes. They haven’t done much else but I don’t think you’d look weird for not shaking hands right now!

      8. mourning mammoths*

        You just have to believe that you’re setting a good example, and others will follow. Because you are, and they will.

      9. mourning mammoths*

        You just have to believe that you’re setting a good example and others will follow. Because you are, and they will.

    2. Helvetica*

      #LW2, I am a diplomat, and handshakes and air kisses are so normal and expected in my field but we all have refrained from those the last few weeks, and everyone knows to associate it with the virus. If you don’t like it anyways – great, you get to avoid shaking hands this time, and no one will reasonably insist on shaking your hand whenever this passes.

      1. Boopnash*

        same, I work for a politician/government official, and we meet with the public and lobbyists etc very regularly.

        It hasn’t been awkward, or it’s been endearingly awkward. Everyone is aware of what’s going on.

        1. OP#2*

          I currently work in hospitality sales, so we’re a pretty warm and affectionate group overall, but I’ve had 5 years to train these co-workers out of hugs (per my usual username in the comments here : Hugs Are Not Tolerated). I was expecting to have to do the same at new job, but looks like it’s been taken care of for me!

          1. Rainy*

            I was mocked by someone in another division last week when I (who have never shaken hands in the entire time since he joined our organization, so this man has NEVER TOUCHED MY FLESH WITH HIS) didn’t shake hands with him.


            I’m still irritated about it, and I told my supervisor, and she thought it was so egregious of him that she told leadership, and now everyone in my division thinks that guy is a giant a-hole, which is actually pretty funny to me, because at the time, he was scoring one off on me in front of someone from his division. (He bumped elbows with me, per usual, and then his coworker walked up and he introduced us and then said “But Rainy’s ~~~~AFRAID OF CORONAVIRUS~~~~ and won’t shake your hand.”)

            1. Kathenus*

              Send them the link about the NBA player who mocked the virus precautions earlier this week, touching all the microphones in a press conference. Yes, he is now the NBA player who has tested positive and was the impetus for the season being suspended. No need to go overboard and wear biohazard suits everywhere we go but common sense precautions should be a no brainer.

    3. Spreadsheets and Books*

      My coworkers are trying to get a bowing trend going. So far, it’s not going so well, but I would like to see this so I’m all for it.

      1. OP#2*

        I saw a meme about bringing back the bow & curtsey. First person bows, the 2nd curtesy’s regardless of gender. I’m kinda digging that idea…

        1. JustaTech*

          I am totally down with this; you don’t have to be wearing a skirt to do a decent “polite bob”, just incline the head down and bob down and then back up. Doesn’t have to be a full pliee like in ballet, just enough to show it’s an intentional motion.

          George Washington didn’t shake anyone’s hands at his inauguration. He bowed at the receiving line instead.

    4. Texan In Exile*

      I am interviewing. We just got back from Spain. I am telling people that I just returned from an international trip and although I am pretty sure I am fine, I don’t want to risk exposing them to anything, so would rather not shake hands. People are absolutely OK with that. It’s OK to be honest.

    5. Bubbles*

      My friend is fully committed to bringing back bows and curtsies. It’s been quite fun watching her husband practice his curtsy in jeans and work boots.

    6. RabbitRabbit*

      I helped someone with a project related to COVID-19 yesterday. He was so happy that I was able to help him sail through the process that he went for the high-five and I reflexively gave it. Then I pulled out the bottle of hand sanitizer.

      Here’s where I would /facepalm but I need to stop touching my face.

      1. JustaTech*

        Last week one of the other volunteers at my meals-for-people-with-chronic-diseases gig really wanted to give me a hug (he’s a very hug-y guy) and I had to go full hands-up elbows-out and say “nooooo… I just got back from Germany, how about elbow bumps?”

        I’m sure he wouldn’t had offered (or looked so confused) this week.

      2. nonegiven*

        We were watching the news and they said the 26 people from here, on a cruise ship will be allowed to come back to our state and quarantine at home. DH said but they’ll have to fly to get here! Almost all probably did fly to get to the port, so how else?

    7. Elizabeth West*

      Assuming I ever have any more interviews ever again, I decided I’m just going to do the Vulcan salute. It’s a good way to ferret out my fellow nerds. :)

      Failing that, jazz hands. \_0_/

  10. JKP*

    It’s not just your coworker who does this. I run a business with many different clients calling me. You would not believe how many people will just launch in to asking to reschedule an appt as if I know them by voice alone. Or the number of people who will reply to the system generated text message reminders with nothing more than “can’t make it” and then I have to try and solve the mystery of who can’t make it to their appt.

    1. Beatrice*

      I would do the text message thing! I would just assume that if your system knew enough to know I had an appointment and contact me about it, it could also tell you who was confirming/cancelling their appointment when I responded.

      1. Ludo*

        Same, although I’m picturing the kind of doctors office reminders that say “reply yes to confirm or no to cancel”

        So this must be something different?

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          My Dr’s office texts us a reminder that says “call us to cancel.” It’s disconnected–so the message on the phone AND when setting the message up originally is to talk to a human if cancelling. Appointments justcannot be cancelled by voicemail. Might help here.

          1. Fikly*

            I used to work in a doctors office. The number of people who left voicemails (our phones closed over the lunch hour) that did not include their full name or their phone number was bogglingly high. Or they mumbled/spoke as if it was a race.

            And thus my habit of saying my full name and phone number slowly and clearly, twice, when leaving a voicemail for a doctor’s office.

            1. Sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

              Not just doctor’s office but yeah, any time people leave a message with their number: what’s the hurry?! Don’t you want me to call you back?

      2. Sally*

        I also assume that if im getting a text from my doctor’s office, their system should know who the phone number belongs to. Otherwise, how would it know when my appt is?

      3. Candi*

        Eh, I always assumed the person on the other end may not have access to “it’s Candy Cane canceling” -either on purpose to protect information, or because some dolt didn’t think to say, “oh, yeah, we should have that programmed in.”

        Most systems I’ve encountered that tie info to text have “Send Y/1/E to confirm, N/2/L to cancel appt.” (It’s not always E and L, but they’re usually letters a distance apart on a Qwerty keyboard.) To me, that indicates it’s safe to assume that a message saying, “CC’s not coming, you can give that slot to someone else” is being forwarded to people who need to know.

        (OT: I hate the candy cane joke -when you hear a name like Candi/y, pleaseassume the first four jokes that come to mind are ones of the “if I had a nickel for every time” variety.)

      4. JKP*

        The text messages are actually emails (phone#@provider) that are sent as a batch for all the day’s appts from the address do-not-reply. And if they do reply, there’s an autoresponse that the email does not accept incoming messages and to call the office. The service I provide is all face-to-face in a solo prac type situation, so there’s not even a computer at the office (and no cell service unless I walk outside). So if they text back before I go in to the office for the day, I’ll see their message and have to track down who sent it. If I’m already at the office, I won’t see the message until I get home, which means I’ll think they no-showed.

        So it would be nice if people identified themselves when calling or texting. Sometimes I even get emails with no name, and I’m trying to match the email address to my system. I feel bad having to ask clients who they are. But for them, I’m the only person they’re dealing with in the office and they don’t think about the fact that they’re the 20th person I’ve seen that day.

        1. Lyudie*

          Personally I would assume that my name or at least phone number was attached to my reply/the outgoing message in some way. Maybe that’s what’s happening?

    2. Lyudie*

      Honestly, I do this sort of thing (“I have an appt scheduled but won’t be able to make it”, and pause) because I figure if I launch into my name right off the bat, they might end up having to ask me again when they go to look me up in the system (or ask me to spell my name, because I am apparently hard to hear/understand on the phone at times). But that could be me thinking everyone’s memory is as bad as mine lol FWIW I haven’t ever noticed anyone seem taken aback/confused, they generally just say something like, ok great, your name? and we move on.

      1. Rebecca in Dallas*

        I always say my name at the beginning of the message, tell them why I’m calling (cancel/reschedule/whatever) and then repeat my name slowly, sometimes spell out my last name, then my phone number at least twice. LOL it’s probably overkill but I’ve been the person on the other hand trying to decipher messages or write down a phone number and have to go back and re-listen to get the information.

  11. Always Thinking*

    Re #5: Quebec labour law cements a “no vacation in the first year” approach https://www.cnt.gouv.qc.ca/en/leaves-and-absences/vacation/index.html. The amount of vacation you get *this* year is dependent on the amount of time you were at this job *last* year. So when you’re new, your vacation entitlement is zero because you had zero time at the job in the past year. You don’t get to start taking vacation until a new reference year starts, and then it’s pro rated by how long you were there before the reference year turned over. As an American expat in Montreal, I find this bananas.

    1. Iron Chef Boyardee*

      Does that mean if OP #5’s new employer was willing to agree to OP #5’s request, but the employer was in Quebec, the employer would be breaking the law?

    2. MK*

      I would assume that the employer doesn’t have to give you time off, not that they aren’t allowed to.

    3. Duvie*

      Quebec is a little quirky, but they aren’t run by Ebenezer Scrooge. If you don’t have a full year of service, you’re entitled to one vacation day for each full month of service. If you negotiate more, they won’t hang you from the nearest yardarm. (They save that for people who use English on their signs :-) ). You’re also entitled to 18 weeks maternity leave, 5 weeks paternity leave, and an additional 52 weeks unpaid parental leave, which can be added to the maternity/paternity leave.

      1. Sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

        Just looked that up. But…it’s all unpaid leave, which makes sense as that’s how it would be across the country – few employers pay for you to have a baby – and most people would assume that someone on maternity/parental leave in Canada would be applying for EI, which I thought residents of Quebec are entitled to. (Some unions offer a mat leave top up in the collective agreement, which is nice.)

        Ah, what Quebec offers is QPIP. (Why offer something separate that the federal government managed just fine?)


    4. Sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

      Yes, I remember this well! A coworker started in February, new “year” ticked over in May so she had exactly three days vacation for the next 12 months. She was not thrilled but she used them.

  12. voyager1*

    LW3: If that is what your client wants I say build it out for them. The client is always right. I have worked at one company that had that kind of culture listed on their website, and they actually lived it. But yeah it fluff, but it is the client’s fluff so roll with it.

    1. Candi*

      Well, it’s very informative… of the type of place I would not want to work. It sounds like some of the more mildly dysfunctional places we hear about here, the ones where people can reasonably stick it out for a year, but then they job hunt like crazy to get away.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        The “not my job” shtick is a huge red flag. They likely are trying to convey the idea that the team is so tight knit that everyone automatically dives in and does what needs to be done, with joy in their hearts and a song on their lips. What it actually conveys is that they have poorly defined roles, and you will be expected to cover for Bob who hasn’t put in an honest hour’s work in years. Oddly enough, Bob will not be expected to cover for your while you do his job.

    2. Filosofickle*

      The client isn’t always right. In the end they’re paying and I’d do what’s required, but I’d definitely start by asking for more details and offering ideas for how it could be better and why. So much of my success as a consultant is based on making their idea better than they knew it could be, not just following directions.

      1. DerJungerLudendorff*

        Yeah, the client has the authority, but if they were always right they wouldn’t need the OP in the first place.

    3. There's probably a cat meme to describe it*

      If the OP’s job is writing web content though, wouldn’t the client be expecting some kind of input on said content..?

  13. JoAnna*

    #5 – I just started at a new job at the end of this past November. I don’t get any vacation time for my first six months, and I’ll have six days for the remainder of the year.

    1. Information Goddess*

      People starting at my place of employment get 4 days (pro-rated so if you were to start before the first quarter ends you get 4, start April 1 you get 3) and then NOTHING else until Jan 1 when you get one lump sum (again depending on when you started). It REALLY sucks.

      1. Leela*

        Yeah that does really suck, are you all able to push back against that? That’s…really not retentive

    2. Chronic Overthinker*

      My company gives out five days total combo holiday/sick leave after the probationary period, for the entire year. Ugh. I’ve already used a sick day and going to have to use more for some upcoming dental appointments. So frustrating.

  14. Iron Chef Boyardee*

    Re #3:

    “[The draft for our client’s careers page] is filled with what I think of as fluff and business jargon. It hypes up the culture of the company with a lot with phrases like “we are an entrepreneurial community” and “we never say, ‘it’s not my job’” and “We are a company unlike any you’ve ever worked for.” It sounds catchy, but there’s no substance to it.”

    Reminds me of the “Introduction to Sabre” video shown to the Dunder Mifflin employees in the episode of The Office where they’re taken over by Sabre (“Sabre,” season 6, episode E15):

    So you’ve just been bought by Sabre. You’ve probably got a lot of questions. Hi. I’m Christian Slater. What’s it like to work for Sabre? Let’s find out together.

    Working at Sabre means taking on the challenge of the road that rises to meet you.

    Sabre is respecting the past, but opening a window to the future.

    Have you ever tasted a rainbow? At Sabre, you will.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Yeesh…. I guess he’d never seen the graphics of unicorns pooping rainbows. Not tasting that.

  15. Lil*

    I might be the outlier here, but i think i would much prefer the communication type of the coworker in letter #4.

    i absolutely hate small talk and the “fluff” talk that comes with phone conversations, especially if it’s a quick thing, which it sounds like from the letter. if it’s someone i work with regularly, they can skip the niceties and just ask their question, imo.

    Efficiency over everything.

    1. MK*

      I wouldn’t consider saying hello (or good morning) and your name small or fluff talk. Do you expect everyone to recognise your voice or number from caller-id?

      1. Alianora*

        I don’t agree with Lil, but if someone answers their phone with “Hi Alianora,” then yes, they obviously know who I am.

        1. OP #4*

          Well it wasn’t always a quick thing, she did it every time she called me regardless of the length of the conversation, and I’m asking for a one-syllable word, I don’t think that qualifies as small talk. I think there’s a difference between wasting time with an anecdote about your weekend and the most basic level of politeness. And it’s a really big stretch to say that saying the word “hi” damages efficiency.

          1. Ugh, please stop.*

            Why are you so certain that she means it maliciously? Can’t you stop yourself from getting hung up on one word? You clearly have a disagreement over conversational norms, but trying to position yourself as the person who clearly has the upper ground is petty. Does she treat you with respect in other ways? Then she respects you and you can drop this bizarre hang-up.

            1. Candi*

              IO #4 is asking for very basic politeness -personal politeness at a moment in time, not social politeness to cover up jerkish behavior.

              It’s not about saying the word “hi”, it’s about acknowledging that the person on the other end is a human being who has spoken to you, and who deserves the most basic of recognition that they are another human -hey, hi, yo- before the caller starts in on why they called.

              Launching immediately into the subject of the call strikes me as treating them like a search engine or other automated function, not a fellow human.

              1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

                Even AI systems require you to hail/acknowledge them before you launch into content.

                Hey Google!

            2. Cathie from Canada*

              But reading the letter, and OP4’s comments above, its clear that this person did NOT respect OP4, and was being deliberately rude just to convey that distain.

              1. valentine*

                this person did NOT respect OP4, and was being deliberately rude
                We don’t know that either of these is true. I think this is like the New Yorker bank teller working in the South.

            3. Mami21*

              Why are you attacking the letter writer when Alison has already stated flat out that yes, it is in fact rude to call a colleague and launch into conversation without returning their simple hello? It’s not a ‘bizarre hang up’ on the LW’s behalf, it’s completely basic courtesy.

              1. Katrine*

                Because we disagree with Alison that it’s rude. I don’t think it is. It’s just efficient.
                But OP has a weird hangup about this and seems determined to take it as a sign of disrespect, which seems extreme and unwarranted.

                1. DerJungerLudendorff*

                  Constantly aggrevating your co-workers so you can shorten your phone conversation by half a second isn’t very efficient in my opinion.

                  People like being treated as actual people, and part of that is basic shows of politeness like these.
                  Trying to go against that for such tiny benefits is actually pretty irrational.

                2. Colette*

                  Exactly. Treating people transactionally (i.e. I ask for what I want and expect to get it immediately) will offend people. You can believe that it shouldn’t, but it will nonetheless.

                  And that will make it harder for you to get what you need. There are some behaviours I like to call “welcome to the bottom of my priority list” – i.e. I will deal with you after I have dealt with everything else of the same priority. This is that kind of thing – in the OP’s case, it might mean not picking up the phone immediately if she’s in the middle of something and calling her coworker back when she’s done.

                3. OP #4*

                  Not sure how a letter that basically boiled down to “Am I overreacting because I just hated this person in general” equates to “determined to take it as a sign of disrespect.” But, since commenters are supposed to take letter writers at their word, it’d be nice if you accepted my assessment that, in the context of this person’s general behavior toward me, it did come across as deliberate.

                4. Observer*

                  @OP #4

                  I think you are definitely over-reacting to this particular issues. Especially since your method of trying to draw attention to the problem is not at all useful.

                  You say that you don’t like this person, and I am sure that you have good reason for that in general. But this really is not a good reason. Sure, in our culture, saying something like “Hi” at the start of a conversation is the polite thing to do. But absent much more direct behavior, or a broader pattern that we are not seeing, this itself could easily not be deliberate rudeness.

            4. Batgirl*

              You really can’t just start barking orders or firing questions at people like they are Siri.

            5. Oh No She Di'int*

              Nope. OP4 is not off-base in asking for the basics of decent human interaction. They are not attributing malicious motive. Simply a failure to be polite.

            6. Eirene*

              It’s incredibly rude regardless of intent, good or bad. It’s not petty to expect people to give you basic human courtesy in any context.

      2. Grapey*

        My company shows the name of the party calling if it’s an internal phone call. I too would prefer a brusque conversation if it’s for a one second yes/no question.

      3. NotAnotherManager!*

        Our office phone system pops up the name and extension of who is calling you, so it’s not uncommon for people to answer the phone, “Hi, Jane, what’s up?” or “Hey, Bob, what can I do for you?”, at which point the caller may very well launch into what they want. I love it because I have terrible voice recognition (and also so that I can take a ring to prepare myself if it’s someone awful calling). We’ve had this at every place I have worked since the late 90s, even very small organizations, so I’d find it weird to work somewhere without it.

        But, it doesn’t sound like that is OP#3’s setup, in which case some basic phone etiquette is in order. It takes less than 30 seconds to do the bare minimum of identifying yourself and greeting someone by name. I’d find Teryl irritating but not be so bothered by it that I felt the need to take steps to change their behavior.

    2. Beatrice*

      I used to be that way, and then I moved to a role where building relationships with people was important, and it was pointedly *not* less important than being efficient. Continuing to blurt my questions without greetings or any small talk whatsoever was going to hold me back, so I had to learn to do the fluff stuff. I’m transitioning back to efficiency land now, and I’m actually trying to take some of that relationship building with me. Getting things done is important, but treating people like human beings is important, too.

      1. Oh No She Di'int*

        Thank you, thank you, thank you. I am going to copy-and-paste portions of this response to help me deal with an employee who is upset because I did not put him into a leadership position. He is big on “quality”, which is great, but has ZERO regard for relationship building and is happy to alienate anyone he comes across. No, you are not going to lead my llama-grooming department with that attitude. I don’t care how beautifully you brush a llama’s mane! (Do llamas have manes?)

    3. Aurion*

      There is a large middle ground between “mechanical efficiency of a robot” and “emphatic volcano of feelings”; I think a one word greeting such as “hey” or “hi” is solidly in that middle ground. My sibling used to do the same thing as OP #4’s coworker and it was extremely irritating and rude to me. I’m your sister (or in this case, colleague); not an autonomous voice to bark questions and orders at.

      Politeness is not mutually exclusive with efficiency. For the record, I am not a relationship oriented person and I am terrible at small talk.

    4. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Saying “hi” — literally just “hi” — isn’t small talk or fluff and it won’t impact efficiency. In fact, if anything, not saying “hi” and instead just launching in might slightly slow things down because it’s startling and the person you’re talking to is likely to have a moment where they pause to think “WTF?”

      1. Why?*

        …Except that this is an established train of this coworker. Why would it give anyone pause at this point? Live and let live.

        1. Candi*

          Because it’s not common and it’s shocking every time.

          You go through a bunch of calls. Everyone says, “Hi” or a variant before talking to you. Then Jane comes and jumps right into “The teapots came in without handles.” It’s jarring, a jarring which can actively interfere with the ability to listen the way something that startles you will do, automatically and uncontrollably, and will often have you asking them to repeat what they just said. Which takes up more time than just saying hi.

          1. KinderTeacher*

            Even if you get to a place where it isn’t shocking, I think if I’m at a place where I know that Jane is just going to blurt her question at me, now I’m bracing to be ready to have questions blurted at me. That’s not pleasant. Maybe I’ve gotten used to it enough to prep and be ready to listen for them, but I think I would have a negative experience starting before I even actually picked up.

            1. earg b*

              Or you except this is who Jane is and just roll with it. You expect it, but no need to “brace for it”. It’s a known thing, it becomes the new norm for working with Jane. Not jarring at all after you’ve figured this out.

              1. Colette*

                That’s really not true, though. If Jane can’t say hi and give me a second to get my focus into the phone call, I do have to brace for it. Honestly, if I were the OP I would have stopped answering and called her back when I had time to get ready to have questions thrown at me.

          2. jojo*

            the Hi gives you a second to redirect your thoughts. your brain is trained to it basically from birth. someone comes over to your house and they say hi buddy every time. and you say hi back. and your brain focuses on the person you say hi to.

          3. hbc*

            Something shouldn’t be “shocking” if it’s been done 100 times in the same situation.

            I get it, I would find it abrupt. I also find it weird when someone treats “How are you?” as basically “Hey” and doesn’t answer it, but I know for some people/places, “hihowareya” is not actually a question that you’re supposed to answer. The exchange “Hi, how are you?” “Hi, how are you?” seems wrong to me. But I get over it, because I know different people have different greeting protocols.

          4. Mel_05*

            Yeah. It’s just so outside the norm.

            I worked at a place where a client would call and without preamble start talking about what he needed.
            80% of the time the person answering the phone was not the person who could help him and around 20% of the time he started off talking in a language most of us did not speak.

            We knew that’s just how he was…but it was still jarring.

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Because it’s rude and startling. It’s similar to working with someone who barks orders at you; even if you know that’s someone’s style, it’s understandable to be taken aback by it when it happens.

          1. londonedit*

            It’s rude in my culture and I’ve never heard anyone say otherwise. The convention is that even for a quick phone call you at least say ‘Oh, hi – did Mark approve that spreadsheet yet?’ If I answered the phone (which I do with ‘Hello, londonedit speaking’ or if the person’s name comes up on my phone ‘Hello, Jane, how are you?’) and all I got was ‘Did Mark approve the spreadsheet’ I’d find that very rude and abrupt. Someone who launched straight in like that on a regular basis would quickly get themselves a reputation for being brusque and demanding.

        3. T. Boone Pickens*

          You can launch directly into calls with me as long as I get to snap my fingers at you whenever I need to get your attention. We’ll see who breaks first.

      2. LibbyG*

        I agree with this. I work with several people who will call and say (in response to my “Hi, caller!” “Hi Lib! Question for you: Did John approve that article yet?” It’s really no time at all, and the “Hi” and the “question for you” gives me a half-second to shift my attention.

    5. Princesa Zelda*

      Isn’t it more efficient in the long run to have your colleagues, at a minimum, not resent you? There’s got to be a world of difference in getting results from someone who thinks “that guy Fergus is so rude he doesn’t even say hi” vs the person who thinks “Fergus… from the Llama Division, right?”

      1. Tau*

        This is one of the many reasons I think the “but it’s more efficient” thing is often a false economy. We have ample evidence that most humans don’t react well if you violate basic politeness standards, and the consequences of that will make the work environment more unpleasant and waste time on everyone’s sides.

        1. Aurion*

          Yup, exactly. Even if one does not believe in politeness for its own sake, their inner Machiavellian should alert them that going through the motions of politeness will still give them better results, and that’s what they’re after, isn’t it?

            1. Seacalliope*

              Tone arguments are used to deflect from deeper issues. This literally IS about tone.

          1. whingedrinking*

            I find that the more someone claims they’re wholly wedded to logic and efficiency, the likelier it is that their one true love is actually just being right. (See: the ex who insisted on telling me that my reaction to something was irrational – while I was driving a car at highway speeds.)

        2. Falling Diphthong*

          And it’s not like the half second saved a few times per day or week adds up to be an extra half-day off every month. There is no actual efficiency gain to skipping “Hi.”

        3. Laura H.*

          In addition, “efficiency” by way of not greeting and not giving your name could cause problems later in the process- especially if multiple people are informing on the same issue that needs fixing.

          If Terri, Terrance, and Tori all give their name and the exact same issue, and then comes Teryl barreling into same issue head on, OP may not remember to notify all the affected parties when the work is done.

          I need certain info to complete the job. On the phone when you’re dealing with work issues, a name is required! A greeting preceding it, also allows for a moment to get myself into the mindset for the task.

          1. OP #4*

            I don’t want to go overboard with my chiming in here, but one thing: I PROMISE you my coworker was not concerned with efficiency. Trust me ;-)

        4. Observer*

          “False economy” is a very good way of putting it.

          Treat people like robots, they will react like robots. And for some things that’s fine. But the second you need something more, like someone thinking beyond the explicit question you ask, that starts becoming a lot less effective.

          Emelia Bedilia is funny in a children’s book. But do you really want to work with her? And how much time and energy will you spend when you aren’t given important information because you never asked for it, or a piece of a job doesn’t get done because you didn’t spell it out.

          Treat robots like robots and people like people. It’s a lot more efficient.

    6. JerryLarryTerryGarry*

      In this case, it’s more efficient for Teryl to ignore the OP and launch straight to her question. Because that’s what Teryl did, dismissing what the OP just said, every time this happened.
      It’s not about a word, it’s somewhat about the greeting, but it’s always aggravating to be ignored.

      1. Lucy*

        Ignored implies motivation that might not be there.

        It may simply be a different way of handling things

        A lot of people are reading intent or context into the coworkers actions without any evidence.

        All we know for sure is LW doesn’t like it and finds it rude and too curt. Whatever the coworker’s thought process or lack thereof, what matters is that LW wants it to change.

        I know nothing about the coworker’s culture, neurobiology, or intent.

        1. Risha*

          “Ignored” is the literal description of what Teryl is doing, regardless of whether or not you or I find it rude. (Which I do, though I doubt Teryl is intending it to be so.) We can debate conversational styles and efficiency and relative expectations of social lubricant here until the cows come home, but at the end of the day, the accurate and neutral description of events is that Teryl is ignoring LW’s greeting.

          1. earg b*

            Has LW actually asked her not to just launch into her questions? If not, then nothing is being ignored.

            1. Risha*

              I agree that the LW might just need to ask (though, uncomfortable, I can’t even imagine how I would start that conversation). But Teryl is literally ignoring LW’s greeting by not offering one in return. This isn’t a moral judgement, or even necessarily a conscious choice, or necessarily considered rude in some places, it’s just a description of what is happening.

        2. Falling Diphthong*

          We don’t actually judge actions based solely on their intent. We judge them based on the action and context.

          If you’re in a culture where everyone says “bananas” at the start of a conversation, you learn to do that. It doesn’t make it polite, acceptable, workable etc in all other contexts because the intent in your head is for it to be those things.

          1. Why?*

            Not everyone learns to do it, because some people value over things over following social conventions or may not even pick up on social cues in the same way. This is a big struggle that neuroatypical people often have.

            I agree that the OP’s coworker would be better off saying hi, which would help build relationships with her coworkers. The coworker deserves a polite conversation where the OP states her preferences openly instead of playing passive-aggressive games. But I also think that the OP is taking this way too seriously and doesn’t have a clear moral right to demand that the coworker behave a certain way. What’s wrong with accepting that this habit is a weird quirk of the coworker, reading no intent into it, and evaluating the coworker based on her behavior otherwise? And if the coworker is otherwise rude, then focus on the other behaviors!

            Rudeness is often subjective. I find the OP’s insistence that there is ONE RIGHT WAY TO DO THINGS way ruder than not saying hi at the beginning of a phone call.

            1. OP #4*

              When did I insist that there is ONE RIGHT WAY TO DO THINGS? I asked Alison “this annoyed me, am I overreacting?”

              “What’s wrong with accepting that this habit is a weird quirk of the coworker, reading no intent into it, and evaluating the coworker based on her behavior otherwise? And if the coworker is otherwise rude, then focus on the other behaviors!”

              – based on my knowledge of the situation, which is more extensive than yours, I didn’t conclude that it was a weird quirk
              – My choice to read intent into behavior that I witnessed firsthand is as valid as your choice to conclude there was no intent
              – The other behaviors were over-the-line rude. That’s why it made it easier to assume that her phone etiquette was also deliberately rude. And it’s also why I didn’t write into Alison about the other behaviors- I didn’t need independent confirmation that they were rude, but I *did* want to know what she thought about this one.

              1. Why?*

                You wanted reassurance that this behavior is rude. I don’t agree that this behavior is rude. You wanted reassurance that everyone should respond to a “hi” with a “hi” or else they are an inconsiderate, rude person. There are lots of explanations that could be behind this coworkers’ behavior. If she’s rude to you generally, maybe she means it as a personal slight. But then if you want her to change her behavior, not saying hi is small potatoes compared to everyone else.

                And, yeah, as Risha alluded, some people might focus on the content of the phone call (whatever information has to be exchanged) and not pick up on your social cues. Maybe your coworker hates your guts and is vindictive, planning how to rattle you at every step. Or maybe you’re oversensitive to anything the coworker does because you dislike her. I’m disappointed in Alison’s comments on this issue, because I think she and you are focusing on the tree, not the forest.

                1. OP #4*

                  “Or maybe you’re oversensitive to anything the coworker does because you dislike her.”

                  Yes. Maybe. I think that’s…..exactly what my letter says. I didn’t make a sweeping generalization about etiquette and ask Alison to validate it. I asked her a question in good faith: am I overreacting or do you think this is rude.

              2. Observer*

                There is a good meme out there that is often referred to on this site with the acronym BEC (short for B** Eating Crackers.) It refers to a situation where you are so fed up with someone that even when they do something totally innocuous, you find it exasperating or worse.

                I get a sense of a little of that going on here. What she’s doing is rude, but I’d say only mildly so, and can easily be taken as just a bit tin-eared. I’d be willing to bet that you might not even notice it if you were not already so fed up with her.

            2. Risha*

              I’m neuroatypical enough that a good 90% of my social interactions are learned behavior that’s been ingrained into mindless habit, and if anything it means I vastly over-use these sorts of social lubricants. (My step-mother once: “Happy birthday!” Me: “You, too!” Reader, it was not her birthday too.) Always saying something like “hi” or “how are you?” in response to a “hi” is one of the most basic call-and-responses, and it’s more than a little unlikely that no one has ever made an attempt to teach that to an otherwise apparently functional person (or for her to eventually teach herself).

              A far more plausible “neuroatypical” explanation would be someone who hyperfocuses on whatever the topic of the phone call is and is incapable of registering anything else in that moment. That would be nothing but the most baseless of speculation with the limited information we have, though.

              1. Tau*

                Also neuroatypical and I was kind of waiting, resigned, to see if someone would bring us up.

                I 100% agree with you that I find this sort of action one of the easiest social skills to learn by rote and as a result I probably also drastically overuse them. (Totally hear you on the “you, too!” problem – there’s a level of rote social niceties I can perform independent of actual comprehension and it has a terrible tendency to assume “hi”, “bye” and “thank you” are interchangeable.) In fact, I may actually get pretty distressed when people deviate from the rules I know, because I have sunk a lot of time and effort into figuring out how to get by in the neurotypical world and people just changing things under me is upsetting and makes me panic that I missed something big.

                I’m not saying that there are no neuroatypical people who struggle with basic greetings, but… honestly, those people are probably struggling with some much, much more noticeable stuff as well, and I think OP#4’s letter would look fairly different if that were the case. In the meantime, I’m over here trying to navigate the challenges I personally face at work without accommodations, because guess what, the common narrative that neuroatypicality = can’t be expected to adhere to the most basic social norms isn’t actually a stereotype I expect to do me any favours. Anytime I read a post suggesting that, say, you couldn’t possibly expect an autistic person to greet someone with “hi” on the phone after having been explicitly asked to do so, I become a little less likely to ever out myself to my boss.

                1. Why?*

                  The OP didn’t explicitly ask her. That’s the issue.

                  Also, hello, not all neuroatypical people are autistic…. not even all neuroatypical people who struggle with social situations. Sheesh.

                  Also frankly I think most of us SHOULDN’T out ourselves to our bosses. Instead, I think people should just be more comfortable with a variety of behaviors in the workplace, whether or not they’re caused by atypical brain chemistry, learn to live with quirks that don’t affect work product, and communicate clearly about ones that do. Passive aggressively saying “hi” again is not good communication.

            3. Observer*

              This is not about blind acceptance of social conventions or being neuro(a)typical. On the other hand, if you value things like the absolute maximum of mechanical efficiency of minor ways of acknowledging your counterpart’s basic humanity, then that’s a real issue with your priorities. (You in the general sense, not you as in @why.)

              The person who compared it to snapping at someone to get their attention had a good point.

              1. Why?*

                I take your point, but I also think that interpreting failing to follow conversational norms as an intentional statement of someone’s priorities IS neurotypical and/or closed-minded. Anyone who doesn’t say hi should reevaluate their re-approach, but people who have their feelings hurt by these practices should also be ready to have open conversations about their preferences instead of instantly fuming that the other person “failed to recognize their humanity”.

                I’m convinced that OP’s coworker is a pill. I am NOT convinced that this single behavior is a good litmus test. And I think there is a slippery slope. Most people can agree on polite phone etiquette, but there is much more variety in email practices, and we’ve definitely seen lots of posts on this website anguishing about interpreting particular openings or closings to emails.

        3. OP #4*

          This is how it felt to me: doesn’t it take MORE effort/conscious decision to NOT respond to a “hi” with a “hi”? I had a Mean Girl classmate in junior high who only said “Bless You” to a kid who sneezed if it was a kid she liked. Literally. When a kid sneezed, she had to determine who had sneezed and respond accordingly. Which even at the time seemed like a lot of effort, certainly more effort than to go with the (for most people) natural instinct to say “Bless you.” Same thing here: for her to steadfastly refuse to say the word “hi” seemed like less of an oversight, more of a conscious choice. And in the context of her other behavior, the most likely explanation was deliberate rudeness.

    7. The Other Dawn*

      Greeting someone with a “Hey Dawn” when they call isn’t fluff or small talk; I’m not sure how two syllables qualify as either. It’s called being a human being who has to work with other human beings to get a job done.

    8. Joielle*

      “Hi” is not small talk! It is literally one syllable, one half-second out of your day, to be polite to your coworker. If that’s what you consider “fluff,” I’d love to know how you handle the rest of your daily interactions. Do you refuse to smile at people because it’s an unnecessary use of face muscles? Come on.

    9. Falling Diphthong*

      I’m pretty sure very few aspects of human interaction actually embody efficiency over everything.

      1. There’s probably a cat meme to describe it*

        Bananas ironically this froth-level debate about the inefficiency of “hi” illustrates your point magnificently.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          “Coworker moved my candy dish” didn’t get 1000 comments because the people of the internet were only interested in efficiency.

        2. pentamom*

          It’s like having to have a whole meeting about Kevin only saying half the words in every sentence to save time, and then having to explain everything he says.

          1. JustaTech*

            I had a boss like this, who had a terrible habit of not using nouns when asking you do to do a task or project. “Hey, JustaTech, and you do that analysis on that thing? Like Chris did? I need it by 5. Bye!”

            Chris had done 8 very different things that week. There were many “things” that the boos could have been talking about. I had 4 very different kinds of analysis I could run. Figuring out what the boss actually wanted (because he was off to meetings for the rest of the day) took *significantly* longer (and more people) than actually doing the analysis.

    10. Quill*

      I usually wait for a response to make sure I’ve gotten the right person and that we’re both speaking the same language at the moment.

      (I learned my second language late enough that I get stuck somewhat easily, and only half my coworkers speak my second language…)

      1. juliebulie*

        Sometimes that simple “hi” conveys important information… like… I’m upset, or I’m happy, or I’m impatient, or I’m relaxed. And that can make it easier to interpret whatever gets blurted out next.

    11. Koala dreams*

      The purpose of social niceties is to make people feel comfortable. Some people are social chameleonts and adapts their scripts to the individual, but mostly people follow their preferred scripts and just hope it will be enough for most situations. If you are an outlier, you are out of luck. That’s life.

  16. OP#2*

    Hi, OP#2 here!
    Part of why I’m overly conscious about this handshaking thing is:
    1) I’m an early 30s female replacing an older, very respected and liked admin. I don’t want to come across as “too young” with a fist bump or a jokingly offered elbow bump.
    2) when I’m introduced, I’d like to be remembered for my competence or sparkling personality, not my neuroses about how gross other people’s hands are. (1 in 3 adults don’t wash their hands after using the toilet, FYI). But if they don’t interact with me often that’s what they’ll think of until they more data points.

    1. Lizzo*

      Honestly, if there were ever a time to do something other than shake hands, now is that time. I’ve been fistbumping people for the last 6 months to try and stay free of illness over the winter. With coronavirus, it now seems to be a more popular option. Heck, we’ve had conferences where the opening session presented explicitly tells people: NO HANDSHAKES at this conference!

      I think if you do it with confidence and say, “I’m trying to keep my germs to myself, so let’s opt for a fistbump or an elbow tap,” then they’ll probably reciprocate once they understand what you’re asking for. Those words also set this up as *you* being the one with germs, and trying to do them a favor, as opposed to focusing on *their* germs (even if that is the real problem). I’d personally find the confidence in your presentation to be refreshing and memorable, moreso than the actual handshake.

      1. Beatrice*

        I wouldn’t even go so far as to explain. “I’m not shaking hands right now. Fistbump?” Then move on. I do agree it’s best not to make it about *their* germs, but I think you avoid the association as a germaphobe if you don’t even bring up the germs. Keep it simple.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        If there were ever a time.

        For a letter a couple of months back I was on the train: “Yeah, if handshakes are the norm in your field then avoiding them because you are a germophobe could be off-putting. Or accepted as your quirk, depends on field and location.” But if there were ever a worldwide time to shift social norms on this and have it accepted, it’s now.

        1. OP#2*

          Admittedly I’m thrilled by the recent support for moving away from the idea that physical touch is a necessity in a greeting.

      3. Pobody’s Nerfect*

        Why do we have to still keep touching each other in any way when we are meeting strangers for the first time? Or with greeting anyone? A fist bump still transfers a significant amount of vital components. An elbow bump is still physical contact. During a dangerous pandemic we should cease and refrain from all contact, especially in groups.

        1. Observer*

          Neither the CDC not WHO seem to agree with you. Not that they are saying that people MUST touch each other. But they clearly not think that people should refrain from any and all contact if they are already that close to each other.

    2. em*

      I’ve had someone decline to shake hands by briefly touching their hand to their chest (pledge of allegiance style) which might seem a little more mature than a fist bump but still comes across as warm/friendly because you’re not just ignoring the gesture completely. Regardless, I think people will be especially understanding right now!

    3. Sleve McDichael*

      I agree with the comments above. Now is the best time for you to politely decline a handshake without anyone thinking anything of it. Embrace your good timing! Nobody will remember you for it.

    4. WS*

      Finding a bright spot in a pandemic, this is the absolute perfect time to establish yourself as a non-handshaker!

    5. Delta Delta*

      Unless people are living under a rock or in a cave (or in a cave under a rock) they know there’s a virus sweeping the world and people are being cautious. I’ve seen a few things recently:

      the coronavirus toe tap. Say “not shaking hands, but let’s tap toes” and nudge your foot over and gently touch the other person’s toe”

      Jazz hands! A friend of mine is doing this when she meets new people and it’s sweet and disarming and hilarious all at once while acknowledging no touching.

      Hand on heart and slight bow.

      1. T. Boone Pickens*

        The only way I’m toe tapping with someone is if they’re willing to go full Kid N’ Play with me.

      2. NotAnotherManager!*

        Unless people are living under a rock or in a cave (or in a cave under a rock) they know there’s a virus sweeping the world and people are being cautious

        This. I work in a very handshake-y industry and in a part of the US that has not yet been badly hit by the virus, and we have all just basically decided not to touch one another. It’s not even a thing. I had a meeting to introduce a new team member this week, and no one in a group of about 20 tried shake hands at all. No one was offended by it.

        1. OP#2*

          Honestly this is most reassuring comment so far. I’m glad to hear that I’m not the only new hire experiencing the dreaded ‘new hire handshake gauntlet’.

          1. NotAnotherManager!*

            It was actually kind of funny – the gist of most intros was, “Nice to meet you! Let’s not shake hands, you know, coronavirus. Let me introduce you to Wakeen!” Seriously, not a batted eyelash in the place.

      3. OP#2*

        Jazz hands! I love it! I might implement that into my social circle while meeting new people, but I don’t think I could pull it off in a way that would seem ‘mature & responsible’ in the workplace.

      4. LJay*

        I think the toe taps and jazz hands both sound ridiculous and I can’t see anyone in my industry doing either. And I think if the OP did do either of them it would contribute to exactly the image that the OP doesn’t want to convey.

        But I agree with the general message that everybody knows that the virus is going around and that people are being cautious.

        I do like the hand on heart (I’ve also seen a fist near the heart) and slight bow.

        Or just a verbal acknowledgement of greeting and just moving on with the conversation.

        Or verbal greeting and “oh I would shake hands, but you know… COVID-19”.

        I haven’t seen anyone give a second thought about any of those.

        1. Sleve McDichael*

          Ugh I beg you, please not that pretentious hand-on-heart thing! It’s so cringeworthy. I’m not a flag. Just smile and say hello.

    6. Helvetica*

      Posted above as well, but just to reassure you directly on this thread – I am a diplomat, and handshakes and air kisses are so normal and expected in my field but we all have refrained from those the last few weeks, and everyone knows to associate it with the virus. If you don’t like it anyways – great, you get to avoid shaking hands this time, and no one will reasonably insist on shaking your hand whenever this passes.

    7. Dr. Glowcat Twinklepuff*

      I think everyone will understand and I’m pretty sure some people will not even offer handshakes.
      Anyways, when are you starting? The biggest portion of northern Italy was closed off last Saturday, all flights have been canceled and most companies are shut down. If if can make you feel better, it seems pretty unlikely that any of your coworkers will travel there.

      1. OP#2*

        I start on the 23rd of March. So I think it’s likely that the 14 day quarantine period for anybody coming back from the home office will likely have passed.

    8. Anne of Green Gables*

      I agree with other commentators in that if there’s any time that not shaking hands will NOT be seen as weird, this is it. I would even consider “CDC recommends no handshakes” or something similar, though you may feel that goes too far. Seriously, though, right now this will not be seen as weird.

      1. Lily Rowan*

        Yeah, absolutely — everyone will understand “we’re not supposed to shake hands now, right?” with a warm smile and “nice to meet you.”

    9. Arctic*

      If you are newish I wouldn’t do any of the cutesy alternatives like fist bumps or elbow bumps (unless someone initiates.) I’m not knocking them. I think it can be fun. But I also think it’s more for established people who are allowed to have some quirks.

      But like everyone has said, no one will question this now.

      Your personality will outshine this! No worries!

      1. OP#2*

        Thanks Arctic! I’m from and live in the southern part of the US so the whole ‘hand over hand on your upper chest’ move that you usually do when you’re going “Awwwww” at something is a pretty natural move for me. Far more so than reaching out to touch another person. I think I’ll go with the double hand on chest and a warm smile.

    10. Czhorat*

      I *JUST* had a first in-perseon meeting as a project kickoff yesterday. Everyone was SUPER chill about not shaking hands.

      It’s nice to do something. Give a little bow. Tap your heart. Vulcan salute. Whatever fits your personality and you are comfortable with.

      We even joked about the ritual passing of the business car as a possible vector – to be honest, this would all have been weird a month ago, but now it’s almost expected. It would probably seem weird or out of step to initiate a handshake at this point.

    11. Nerdy Library Clerk*

      Right now, I’d say most people are avoiding handshakes. And not entirely sure how to replace them. I met a new coworker yesterday and after a moment of *what do we do???* we ended up with an “air handshake” – miming shaking hands at one another.

      I would guess there are a lot of air handshakes, bows, and other impromptu replacements happening at the moment.

    12. Rachel*

      I think you’ve a better chance at this time than any other of it not seeming weird, but I personally would avoid fistbumps or elbow bumps as I agree they can come off a bit informal. Either keep your hand at your side, or press it to your chest like a salute (or half a Wakanda Forever).

      I went into my local school today to give a talk for Science Week, and introduced myself to the class teacher as “hi, I’m Rachel, let’s not shake hands”, all warm smiles with my hands by my sides and it was completely fine.

    13. JustaTech*

      I had a site visit with a prospective supplier in Germany about 3 weeks ago and as part of the introductions they were very clear “New rule, no hand shakes, elbow bumps only.” A few people forgot, and some people chose to wave instead, but these were folks who very much want our business and were willing to change the social norms.

      Now that the COVID thing has gotten worse it will be both much more normal and less memorable. It won’t be “Oh, OP2 doesn’t shake hands”, it’ll be “Oh, OP2 started during all that quarantine stuff”.

  17. Uldi*

    LW #3:

    If I saw that on their “About” page, I’d lean back away and nope right on out. Too many red flags to me.

    For example, “we are an entrepreneurial community” has me asking, “Isn’t every company?”

    And “we never say, ‘it’s not my job’” sounds like a warning that there are no clear responsibilities and things will likely get chaotic for no real reason.

    “We are a company unlike any you’ve ever worked for” would get a side-eye. Different does not automatically equal better. How are they “unlike” any business before them? Judging from the bit about not saying “it’s not my job”, I’d wonder if they’re just going to fly by the seat of their pants and make it up as they go along.

    They are the client, but making sure that what they say they want is really what they want is important. You should point out how their message could be read and confirm if they’re comfortable with that going forward.

    1. Fikly*

      I mean, if your job is to create a page that effectively advertises what it’s like to work for that company, their suggested copy does that very well.

      It will just make reasonable people run screaming, which is probably not what they want.

    2. DerJungerLudendorff*

      That “entrepeneurial community” bit sounds suspiciously like “We’re like a faaaaamilly” to me.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        Many years ago I managed a chain convenience store. They talked about how their managers should treat the store as if they owned it. By this they did not mean that we had the authority to experiment with the best way to market to the local community. They meant we should expect to work long hours for very little money.

    3. Rez123*

      For me:
      we are an entrepreneurial community=We expect you to work on new ideas all the time and if they don’t take off..you’re screwed

      we never say, ‘it’s not my job’= We can make you do anything we want

      We are a company unlike any you’ve ever worked for= we are like family and we don’t really know what we are doing.

      1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

        Yup. Never saying “it’s not my job” makes me think “we’ll have you scrubbing toilets even though your job title is data analyst, and also working 1,000 hours of unpaid overtime”.

        1. Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves*

          Reminds me of a job ad I saw for a highly skilled position that usually pays $120-150k. It was a new, small business and they straight up said they couldn’t pay a lot and they literally expected this person to “pitch in with the team” and help MOP THE FLOORS as an example. But don’t worry, said business owner said it was an “awesome” place to work for so that totally made up for it! Also my old favorite of, “I won’t ask you to do anything I wouldn’t do.”

          1. Gazebo Slayer*

            I always laugh at job postings that say things like “we’re a small business so we can’t pay a lot” and offer some ridiculously low salary for a very skilled or demanding position. Like… yes, the experienced, multilingual insurance person is going to work for you for $12 an hour without benefits as a favor because your small business is just so special.

    4. an infinite number of monkeys*

      I’d never say “That’s not my job.”

      I would say, “Oh, Guacamole Bob in Accounting handles that. Here’s his number!”

      But I don’t think that’s what the website copy is supposed to mean…

    5. LW #3*

      I had exactly the same thoughts as you when I read it! But there are several people I work with who really go in for all this corporate-y nonsense and call themselves “dynamic” teapot designers or whatever, so I needed the gut check.

      Also the product my client is making really is quite novel and customers are very excited about it, and as a startup they have embraced all the Silicon Valley-speak. But I really don’t think the receiving clerks and third-shift materials handlers they are trying to attract will care at all if it is “an entrepreneurial community.” They want good wages and good health insurance (which they do provide at 100% covered —put that at the top of the page!!).

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        ” I needed the gut check” I suspect that the AAM commentariat is more cynical than average. This sort of corporate blather might actually attract some people, and they might well be the sort of people the company wants to hire: the low-information employee.

    6. Salty Caramel*

      It’s a great way to send me running in the other direction too. If I can’t tell from your website or your job listing just what the H the company does, I’m out of there.

      This may be just me, but I don’t want to see a hard sell of the culture on the website either. Sell me the work, the salary, the benefits. Generous PTO is going to keep my attention a lot better than free snacks (not that I dislike free snacks, mind you).

      I remember one interview where a potential coworker said to me, “The salary isn’t great, but we only work about 55 hours a week and the culture is really good.” I didn’t get an offer, but I was going to turn it down regardless. I knew I’d be miserable there.

    7. Lunch Lady*

      “Entrepreneurial” anything makes me shudder. I immediately envision some fast-talking slickerster who wants me to create, market, implement and run the business as if I were the sole owner, but only within their parameters and pay me a tiny amount in comparison to the work expected. No thank you. If I wanted to be entrepreneurial I’d create my own company.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      There are a few jurisdictions in the U.S. that require paid sick time but they’re very much the exception to the rule. Most of the U.S. has no legal requirement to provide PTO. (Most white collar employers still do, however.)

    2. Princesa Zelda*

      In most of the US, yes. Some states have mandated minimum sick time, but those are accrued, so you would start off with zero.

      1. Hiring Mgr*

        Think about how absurd that is for a minute… this is why I’ll once again vouch for “unlimited” vacation or whatever you call it policies. You don’t need to worry about things like this which belong in the middle ages.

        1. Antilles*

          In theory, I definitely agree with you…but unfortunately, in practice, there’s a lot of studies out there of companies which switched to ‘unlimited’ vacation and ended up with employees actually taking LESS vacation than when it was a defined X days per year.
          Or, on the darker side of the spectrum, companies where they offer “unlimited” PTO, but then judge people who actually use it (or expect them to make up the hours immediately), so there’s effectively zero PTO but without the hiring/retention stigma of officially telling people you don’t offer PTO.

    3. Rusty Shackelford*

      Mr. Shackelford’s current job provided absolutely no PTO for the first year beyond some legal holidays. After his first anniversary he was granted a generous five days total for the year. (Mr. Shackelford’s current job sucks.)

  18. BlondeSpiders*

    Re: #2…
    I’m a recruiting coordinator, and I greet candidates when they arrive for interviews. I’ve been doing the elbow-bump for 2 weeks now. I establish a connection through (brief) touch, and it usually gets a laugh.

  19. HA2*

    #2 – nowadays, I think you can just be straightforward. “I’d rather not shake hands – do what I can to limit the spread of coronavirus.”

    I don’t think anybody would think it’s weird. COVID-19 is a huge deal, around here all the big companies are instituting work-from-home time, it’s a pretty big upheaval all around. Not shaking hands seems like a perfectly reasonable response.

    1. Candi*

      Most of the colleges in my and surrounding counties have closed, moving everything to their online classrooms that still needs to be done. My college was open this week, but next week is very much up in the air -to the point teachers were doing student evals on Monday instead of sometimes next week.

    2. Angelinha*

      Yeah, I think OP2’s office should put a blanket ban on handshakes and then the response can just be, “We’re not shaking hands here right now, but it’s great to meet you.”

      1. OP#2*

        My current office has sent out the following messaging “And though it is our nature in the hospitality industry, avoid handshakes and hugs for the time being”. At interview for new job I shook both interviewer’s hands, but that was about a week and a half ago and we hadn’t had a lot of COVID-19 cases in the US yet.
        On the flip side, typing that out I’ve realized that this likely the fastest hiring process I’ll ever be involved in! Interviewed on Friday, was offered job the next Wednesday, gave my notice on the next Monday.

  20. Kella*

    OP#1: This is pure speculation, but I wonder if she is so set on her coworkers being her family because she is lacking in biological family herself. That’s certainly not an excuse for her to be pushing boundaries like this, but it does mean that when you have that conversation with her, I’d expect emotions to be high.

    OP #3: If your client is set on the page being salesy, I’d tell them that the copy as is does not distinguish their company much at all from other companies. If they are indeed a trailblazer, there should be plenty of unique things for them to say about what their company does that no one else has done before. I agree that being salesy in this context is unnecessary, but if you can’t budge them on that, try to convince them that it’s way too generic to be effective at converting people to action.

    1. Batgirl*

      OP1s employee just has a vision for her wedding day, I think and that vision involves ‘everyone’ being happy for her. If it’s a big wedding then she also needs numbers.
      It’s partly the messages the wedding industry perpetuates (throw a sick enough party and people who don’t even know you will do anything for an invite! It’s the ultimate test of your womanhood!) and she’s also probably experiencing people who actually behave like that; few couples escape offending a third cousin or pushy co-worker who gets all FOMO.

    2. WS*

      because she is lacking in biological family herself.

      Not necessarily – she might just be from a family with no boundaries! My co-worker expected everyone at her wedding who wasn’t actually rostered on at that time, and she’s from a family so big she has more than 100 first cousins.

    3. Scarlet2*

      Re. OP#1, I don’t think her possible lack of biological family is actually relevant, because she’s obviously overinvested in her “work family” so she will most definitely have FEELINGS and EMOTIONS about it. I think it’s all the more reason to draw firm boundaries, especially since LW is the one with the authority in this situation.

    4. hbc*

      re: OP3: That’s where I fall too. I actually don’t find the fluff particularly alarming or offensive, because it reads like a lot of drab boilerplate and fluff that companies use. Not enough to scare me away, not enough to pull me in, just…whatever. It’s not as if anyone is out there advertising that their company looks down on entrepreneurship and wants people to adhere strictly to their job descriptions.

      I’d be telling them to put some examples together that *show* what they mean, like how more than half the engineers hold patents, or they’ve got a time-off program specifically for employees to get side ventures off the ground, or how the entire company pulled together and took customer service calls when the website went down.

  21. Aurion*

    Ugh, OP 4, my sympathies. I can’t understand the very prevalent thinking that productivity and politeness are mutually exclusive. Yes, some people are chatty and some are not, but it’s a simple acknowledgement, not a dedicated speech.

    And frankly, I cannot believe someone’s efficiency is so high that the 0.2 seconds out takes to say hello would actually make a dent in their productivity.

    I am a card carrying introvert, task oriented, and terrible at small talk – but small talk is not the same as basic politeness.

  22. CoffeeLover*

    #3 I don’t know if this is really worth pushing back too strongly on. I can’t think of one company’s career page/section I’ve been to that didn’t have this kind of super fluffy and unsubstantial stuff. Stuff you kind of know is a wished state of being more than actuality. I also see this stuff more and more in job ads as well. I just roll my eyes and move on.

  23. Dan*


    Your job is to build the website, so build the website. Presumably, that doesn’t include content advice.

    That said, I work in tech. For the types of roles I work in, the job description/requirements can usually be articulated in a bulleted list. If it’s actually not in a list, they’re *always* at the end of the posting. So, when I read a job ad, I scan for the bulleted list, and if I don’t find it, I work from the bottom up to find what I need.

    Because without fail, the first two paragraphs of every job posting I’ve ever read are absolutely useless boilerplate company crap that absolutely nobody cares about. I want to know what the *job* is and whether I can actually do it. I just assume your goals/values/mission statement are complete fluff and not worth my time.

    Side note: That can seem very blunt, but for the roles I work in, they really can be articulated in a list. I can either do the job or I can’t. If it’s not clear from the post what the requirements are, I pass. If it’s clear, the boilerplate is pointless.

    1. There's probably a cat meme to describe it*

      Building the website isn’t the OP’s job though, the content advice is!

      …but my work involves writing web content for my company and our clients. One client has sent me their draft…

      1. Delta Delta*

        People aren’t always good at writing content. They may think they have to use all sorts of jargon to punch up what they really want to say so it looks like “business.” the end result is garbage but they don’t know how to get out of it. It would probably be fine for OP to ask what they’re trying to convey and make some gentle suggestions. If they insist on jargon, leave it. Just make sure the check clears first.

    2. Less Identifiable*

      I also work in tech. I do look at the two paragraphs of boilerplate company crap, but mostly for red flags: “work hard, play hard” “rockstar” etc.

      When I was in negotiations for my current job, the HR people sent me a 5 page document about the company values (radical things like “quality” and “innovation”) which nearly made me nope out of the process entirely. The only thing that kept me going was the fact that I was applying for a small division and the HR/recruitment was done by the much larger parent organization, based hundreds of miles away. There are still some issues with company rah-rah fluff in the division where I work, but it’s manageable.

    3. Leela*

      I used to write job descriptions at several different companies but it was all based on what the hiring managers wanted and this was hard to fight against! Everyone wanted to give a feel for their company, by describing exactly what everyone else was describing, in a way that’s no more compelling than when someone writes “learns quickly” on their resume. I mean, you might, but everyone says that about themselves so it essentially means nothing.

      Stuff like:
      We’re a cool company!
      We like to have fun!
      We are always looking forward!

      What…does that mean, exactly. What does that tell anyone. Why was that worth the space or time?

  24. There's probably a cat meme to describe it*

    OP3: I would find some great examples from other companies, and show it to them, pointing out what’s so great about them. “I love how they’ve made it seem like such an exciting place to work with how they’ve […]. I thought we could try something similar by adapting your wording to […]?”

    Also discuss how the content can “show” not “tell”. Eg: instead of “we are an entrepreneurial community”, try: “we were the first to develop ___”; or “we encourage our staff to develop their entrepreneurial skills through ___”; or “our teams collaborate by ___”.

    1. 'Tis Me*


      Examples, and explanations of why and how the examples are effective, can be far more persuasive than just telling somebody that what they wrote is meaningless waffle (that way lies offended, bristling clients) :-) It also lets you be positive and enthusiastic about the message you’re conveying, which can make for a warmer, easier relationship – you aren’t shooting their draft down, you’re suggesting an alternative approach that you think could really help them stand out and impress their target market.

      Also, that difference between being right and making sure they know it – and never hearing from them after this one particular site, and being inspirational and pleasant to work with, and getting recommendations and repeat business from them and their networks.

    2. Mary*

      Yes, exactly. I teach students how to write CVs and present themselves, and the number one thing I teach is that there is no point saying, “I am a hardworking and dedicated blah” because anyone can say that about themselves. Your brain blinks over it because it’s meaningless. “We are an entrepreneurial company” is exactly the same, unless it’s backed up with some achievements.

      >>They are a “trailblazing” new company and they Want People to Know It”
      So the questions to ask are– what trails have they blazed? What did they do first? How are they leading the field? Specifics are much, much more useful to their audience than adjectives!

      If you produce copy that says, “We were the first in our state to implement XYZ, winning the Annual XYZ Awards at the OurProfessionOrganisation, and we’re thrilled to have secured a contract with ABC as a result!” and they still demand you go back and put all the adjectives in, I guess you’ve got to go with what the client wants. But I think your job here as the expert is to help them produce copy that is both exciting and aspirational and also unique and specific.

      1. JM in England*

        This is much like the “Show not tell” advice given in various posts on this blog. As you say, anyone can say that they are “X” but do they have examples to back it up?

  25. LGC*

    LW1, you sound like a very thoughtful person. I wish your employee was as thoughtful as you because – does she expect the entire company to shut down for her destination wedding? Because that’s what she’s basically asking for if she’s inviting all of you to fly across the country to see her get married. I don’t think she’s doing this harmfully, for the record. I just think she hasn’t thought through what she’s asking at all.

    With regards to you, I agree you’re not obligated to go. (If it were local, I would say you should go for a bit. But again, she’s asking you to take a vacation you don’t want to take.) More importantly, if her morale will be busted because not everyone in her office can make it all the way to the West Coast (you say you’re in the NE and the wedding is across the country, so I’m assuming that’s where the wedding is), someone needs to explain to her (kindly but very directly) that it’s just not possible and not a reflection on her. From the letter and lack of boundaries, she sounds a little naive and inexperienced. She’s certainly not picking up on your hints about her behavior.

    1. ExcelJedi*

      This is what I was thinking. Even if everyone had the means and desires to go to this wedding (doubtful), is she really expecting the whole team to shut down for a wedding? That seems like something out of a TV Land sit com, not real life.

      1. LJay*

        Yeah I was just thinking that maybe she had watched too much of “The Office” or something where everyone went to Jim and Pam’s wedding.

  26. Rollergirl09*

    And now I remember why I will never leave my job. Whenever I search for new opportunities I’m incredibly put off by their ridiculously low PTO. My company may have some flaws, but the PTO is generous.

    1. Rebecca*

      I don’t like my job, either, but I have a cadillac health insurance plan and 25 paid days off (but only 6 paid holidays per year). And since they’re cheap and don’t want to pay overtime, I have an 8 hour regular work schedule. For now, I’ll put up with the other crap.

      1. Quill*

        My mom had the cadilac health insurance when staying on your parents’ insurance until 26 went into effect, and it’s the only reason I have a reasonable time limit before I need new orthodics.

        Single payer can’t come soon enough for me.

  27. LGC*

    LW2 – I’m from an area that’s been hit hard by COVID-19 myself, and…I think you already solved your problem. You’re not much of a toucher! That’s fine. Especially if you’re in an area dealing with its own outbreak right now, people will be fine with that.

    It gets a little trickier if your new job’s culture is prone to glad handing and you’re not in a hot zone – in that case, I’d humor it a little bit, wash up religiously after, and explain you’re being careful. (The virus – like other coronaviruses and the flu before it – likely spreads partly from people touching contaminated surfaces and then their eyes or mouths.)

    LW4: I don’t doubt Teryl is The Worst, but it sounds a little BEC. Granted, I’m a dude (and thus the rules of polite society don’t apply to me), but…I don’t think her launching right into questions is THAT big of a sin, and I think part of the reason it was annoying is because Teryl herself was difficult to work with outside of that. I’ll admit for myself that my coworkers’ annoying habits are WAY MORE ANNOYING if I don’t like them that much otherwise – which sounds obvious but is hard to remember.

  28. AIM*

    Ugh, the “that’s not my job” problem– I’m in healthcare and one of the biggest healthcare companies uses one of those loooong surveys to “get to know you,” and one of the questions on it was “How do you feel about the phrase ‘that’s not my job’?” And it’s like… I know what they’re going for is “we all have a responsibility to help each other!!!!” but also, it’s healthcare? Dispensing medications is literally not my job. I am not allowed to do it. Diagnosing certain conditions is not my job and I’m not allowed to do it. Taking patients on walks for restorative aid is not my job and while I’m like, allowed to do it, I am unable to do both that and meet my productivity requirements?? “That’s not my job” is a useful phrase!

    1. SweetestCin*

      I’m not even in healthcare, and there are things that are just not my job. I do not have the authority to cut checks. I do not have the right to authorize vendor payments. I do not have the authority to okay overtime.

      Its okay to have divisions of responsibility!

    2. Database Developer Dude*

      I wholeheartedly cosign on this comment, both in my civilian and military capacities.

    3. Wednesday of this week*

      Also in health care here. A former employer used this logic to pressure us into violating our ethics codes too. When we said something would be a boundary violation or ethical problem, we were accused of acting “entitled” and saying it wasn’t our job as if we were too good for it.

      I agree that an employer trying to banish this phrase is a bad sign.

    4. Ralph Wiggum*

      I’m actually surprised by how strongly a lot of commenters feel about the “not my job” remark.

      I read it as an expectation that employees feel ownership in the outcome and are willing to help each other. I don’t see that as a bad thing.

      For your example where dispensing medications is literally not your job, you still have agency! If you see a patient not getting needed medication, go find someone who can do it. If it’s a chronic problem, inform someone with authority to make the necessary organizational change.

      The “not my job” mentality is to simply ignore the problem and let the patient suffer. I hope we can agree that that mentality is not a contributor to good office culture.

      1. Observer*

        The problem is that in a FUNCTIONAL company that question is about not being so hung up on job descriptions or status that you won’t help out where you can, when necessary and practical. BUT – and this is the key – there are places where that’s an excuse for pulling people into doing stuff that they shouldn’t be doing or saddling certain people with the work that others don’t want to do.

  29. Detective Amy Santiago*

    If I was LW #1, I’d probably do everyone a kindness and say something like “Jane, we’re all thrilled for you, however, we can’t shut down the office which means not everyone will be able to attend your wedding and it’s not fair for me to pick and choose who is permitted to take the time off, so I won’t be able to grant PTO to anyone except you during that time.”

    1. Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers*

      I don’t think I would do this because it doesn’t communicate clearly that “nobody” is obligated to attend and it’s not just a business continuity issue.

    2. Bagpuss*

      I wouldn’t add the last bit unless the normal leave policies would mean no more than one person out at a time. I would amend to something like, “Jane, we’re all thrilled for you, however, we can’t shut down the office which means not everyone will be able to attend your wedding – I’m sure you will appreciate that I will have to stick to the normal PTO rules in terms of how many people can be off at once, which will limit how many people would be able to attend, quite apart from any other personal reasons people may have for whether they are able to travel”

      It may be worth sending a message round to the staff as a whole, in whatever format you usually use for general announcements, to confirm that, as with the rest of the year, you won’t be able to grant more than ‘x’ number of people time off at a time, including for Jane’s wedding, and that if more than that number request the same dates then you will make the decision on a first come-first served basis subject to staffing / business needs (or whatever your normal criteria would be)

      This helps to manage Jane’s expectations but also lets people see that you are not treating this as a quasi work event they are expected to attend, so should make it easier for those who would prefer not to go, to decline, and those who do, can request the dates early. (and if you find that you are the outlier and that a lot of the employees do want to attend, then you can always bend the rules a little closer to the time and allow more people off at one than you usually would!)

    3. Arctic*

      That seems really extreme. There may be a couple of co-workers who want to go for some reason and can be spared.

      OP definitely needs to speak with her though.

  30. Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers*

    OP1, I expected the “bigger issue” to be addressed in Alison’s response (mostly because Alison’s responses usually lift the focus from incident to pattern).

    Your employee sounds high maintenance both for you and your staff. It’s difficult to work with people who only have 2 settings, in this case “we’re family” or “you don’t care about me”. You don’t mention how this affects your other employees. You should also be concerned about their morale!

    You need to get a lot more comfortable having difficult and straightforward conversations if you may “pay to fly across the country and get a room in one of the country’s most expensive cities to attend a wedding [you] don’t really want to go to” to avoid an employee getting hurt feelings based on unreasonable assumptions she’s made.

    If your employee’s behaviour is creating issues generally, you need to sort this out. Is she is generally needy, pushy, self-absorbed, or oblivious to workplace norms? Does this impact on her work and colleagues? Does she allow her feelings to get in the way of doing good work and being professional with her colleagues?

    Given that you’ve allowed it to continue this long, you should probably have the wedding conversation first, and wait until she gets back for the “work is not family” discussion.

  31. Grapey*

    Re #4
    I have the (sort of) opposite problem over chat. A few coworkers start off only with “Hi Grapey” and don’t give me their request until I acknowledge them back. I wish they would just give me their follow up question so I could answer it when I read it!

    1. BadWolf*

      Yeeeeeees. I’ve decided that some people treat chat like a phone call and some people (me) treat it like an answering machine.

      I think the phone call people think I’m rude when I just say “Hey Fergus, what was the Thing for the Stuff from last week” like I’m being all demanding when I really just want an answer whenever they have time for it. I had one coworker who would always reply “On the phone” or “In a meeting, will be a few minutes” so I started say “Hey Fergus, whenever you have time, can you check on the Llama plots for me?”

      Fortunately, my immediate team all agree we’re “Put your question in straightaway” and not “Hey OP…” ers.

    2. nm*

      lol. I may not be very smart; if I see a message that just says “Hi nm” my instinct is to assume the person is still typing their followup and don’t respond at all, just wait.

      1. Grapey*

        It still catches my attention unnecessarily…compounding it is the few people that follow up “hi” with “do you have a minute” ARGH.

        I liked BadWolf’s analogy of the answering machine. That’s what I want people to use.

  32. Gazebo Slayer*

    Ugh. Can destination weddings just be abolished, in general? It is so rude and presumptuous to demand that everyone you know spend a fortune and take off time they probably don’t have so you can have your big special fairytale whatever.

    1. Grapey*

      You are allowed (and often expected) to say no to destination wedding invites. It would only be rude if the engaged couple throws a fit if you can’t go.

      And honestly the appeal to a lot of destination weddings IS that a lot of people don’t go.

      1. LJay*


        We just eloped instead.

        But our alternate plan was for a destination wedding where we paid for our parents and my sibling and did a packaged wedding at a resort. And we’d invite other people and if they wanted to come that’s fine. And if they didn’t then that would be less drama for us to deal with on the day-of.

    2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      Not everyone lives in fantasy land and EXPECTS all of their guests to spend a fortune to attend a wedding. Some of us are rational and understand when people can’t attend.

    3. Arctic*

      Most people don’t expect people to come (as is the etiquette.)

      People should be married wherever they want. Not based on what others want. They just can’t expect anyone to come.

    4. NotAnotherManager!*

      Like many other weddings, they can be done well and reasonably or poorly and with a lot of drama like OP#1’s situation.

      And, unless you have a really localized friends/family invite list, people are going to have to travel for your wedding anyway, sometimes taking time off work and spending money, too. Our family is geographically dispersed, and we picked a place that was meaningful to us and also reduced some of my spouse’s family travel. They still had to take a day off of work, travel, and get a hotel room. The difference is that we didn’t start thinking about whether Aunt Jane really loved us when she wasn’t able to attend.

      1. Arctic*

        That’s a good point. I was a bridesmaid in a wedding in Cleveland when I live in Massachuetts.

        But that’s where the couple’s family largely was.

        I also attended a wedding recently in Atlanta. Where the couple now lives in Austin, Texas and I had known them when we lived in NYC. His family was from the Atlanta area and was much bigger. Her family was from elsewhere. It was really all about compromise.

      2. Jennifer*

        I get that, but I think it’s totally different from having a wedding in say, Greece, when all of your family is in North America and don’t have a ton of money. You took your family into consideration when picking the destination.

    5. Jennifer*

      I actually agree with you. I got married out of state but it was within driving distance for everyone that was coming. I’ve seen so many people have weddings overseas and get angry when their family and friends can’t afford to get there.

      Also, why invite people you don’t actually want to come? Keep it small and invite the people you want there and be an adult when people ask about the guest list and explain that you wanted a small wedding. Or elope. Help the people that are close to you that you actually want there financially if you know they can’t afford to come on their own.

      In general, weddings are getting out of control. I don’t think I could afford to be in one now. The Instagram effect.

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      No, no one is going to abolish any wedding idea, modern or traditional, on the grounds that some people dislike it. People can do whatever they want to celebrate their weddings, guests only control whether they say yes or no in response.

      This letter, specifically, would not be improved if the wedding were being held in her fiance’s home town, or in a lovely venue only 3-4 hours’ drive from the office. It only turns into a different letter if the wedding is local and easy for everyone to attend, or if the groom has asked to use the office reception areas as a venue given that the office is his family.

      1. Jennifer*

        It would be improved if it were local because money and PTO wouldn’t be an issue. The OP still wouldn’t want to attend, true, but they wouldn’t be out any money beyond the cost of a gift if they did attend.

        1. valentine*

          Even local travel costs and money could still be an issue due to travel, attire, caregiving, and dietary/medical needs.

          1. Jennifer*

            The OP didn’t mention any issues related to that. I don’t know what it was cost beyond gas and the gift.

    7. BadWolf*

      Sometimes it’s an awkward dance of “I know you don’t/can’t come to the wedding, but I didn’t want you to not be invited.”

      1. blackcat*

        Invitations should be issued from a place of warmth and generosity.
        Declines to attend should be given freely, and accepted with the same warmth.

        It’s not that hard!

        I’ve seen people be 100% understanding about people not attending their destination wedding, and people be selfish jerks about it. In both cases, I think it revealed something about the couple.

        (I’ve also seen the “We really want a destination beach wedding, and we accept a lot of folks won’t be able to come” turn into “Well, ****, apparently all of our friends and family have the money and vacation to travel to an island with us and now our wedding will have 50% more guests than we planned for. Oops.”)

    8. Em*

      I’ve lived in three different provinces in Canada as well as one state, and I have dear friends who live everywhere across the continent, and extended family in the UK. I suspect this sort of diasporic friend-group is increasingly-common. There’s nowhere I could get married which wouldn’t require at least 75% of invitees to travel.

      I have no plans or likelihood to get married anytime soon (among other roadblocks, I’m single and don’t want to change that) but if I did, I’d be inviting people both because I’d love them to come and because I want them to know I care enough about them to invite them, with the understanding that a lot of folks won’t be able to make it. I’d maybe livestream the wedding on Twitch for anyone far away (say, my aunt who can’t travel due to disability).

    9. Marny*

      An invitation isn’t a subpoena. If you don’t want to go to a wedding, don’t go. The couple can have their wedding wherever they want.

    10. Observer*

      I’m not a fan of destination weddings, and they generally indicate some priorities I don’t share.

      But I find this kind of statement equally off-putting. People get to get married where they want to and no one should be telling them they “shouldn’t” do that. (Usual caveats apply.)

      Expecting most people to fly and spend a lot of money on your wedding is out of line whether you have a destination wedding or not.

    11. Koala dreams*

      The problem is not the destination wedding, it’s the demanding. It would be great if people could stop issue demands disguised as invitations.

  33. Chris*

    Our monthly board meeting was yesterday, so I had to navigate some attempted handshakes. My solution was to say something along the lines of “We probably shouldn’t be shaking hands right now.”

    I think the “we” part of it helps make it less like I’m being an weird no-handshake person and more like this decision not to shake hands is something we’re doing together or collectively.

  34. Quinalla*

    OP5: I had this exact situation in the move from my old job to my current job. At the time, I had 13 years of experience and had 3 weeks of PTO at my current job, my new job starts people at 2 weeks, moves to 3 weeks after the first year and then every 5 year anniversary you get more. Well, I wasn’t going to go backwards to 2 weeks, so I just explained that I currently had 3 weeks of vacation and wanted to increase that a little since my husband has more PTO than I do and to be able to negotiate for further increases once I was at the company for 5 years (otherwise I wouldn’t get a PTO increase for a while). They offered 18 days (3 weeks 3 days) and I was ok with that especially since new company also has sick days, so I agreed. No one batted an eye at me asking for this, so definitely ask!

    And I agree that if you haven’t, make sure to thoroughly review the other benefits. It is something folks don’t always do nearly well enough and employers are not always good about sharing either. I’ve definitely experienced people getting a little annoyed when I want benefit details, but that is such an important piece of compensation!

    1. MissDisplaced*

      I ran into this a lot on my last job search and found companies weirdly resistant or unable to compromise on it! Many insisted 10 days was it, and there was no negotiating it (I was coming from 18 days vacation). In fact, they were often willing to negotiate the money/salary instead of vacation time.
      I ended up accepting a job with only 10 days PTO but got $2000 higher starting salary so that I wouldn’t come out losing money by switching jobs.

      I don’t understand why this is the case, it’s truly a reversal given that PTO has typically been an easier thing to negotiate for in lieu of salaries. But it came up a lot!

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        I am pretty sure that my HR would not negotiate additional PTO (though ours is generous) like they would salary. Benefits disparities are harder to manage on the administrative side (we have 500+ employees, and tracking when Jane has 15 days and Marty has 12 and Bob has 10 would be a nightmare) and create the same morale problems as finding out the guy doing the same job as you is getting paid 10% more. Vacation disparity is also more noticeable – if you’re taking an extra week off per year and people have to cover for your extra week, that’s going to be pretty visible.

        1. Annony*

          I think it is a little different when someone is entering at a high level but vacation days go up based on how long you have worked there. It would be weird to have a VP with only 5 vacation days and an admin assistant that has 21. In that case you can negotiate coming in at a more senior level to be comparable to where you left, similar to how you don’t start at an entry level salary when you have a more senior job. If vacation days are static (everyone gets 14 period) then it is harder to negotiate.

  35. MissDisplaced*

    #1. I have no idea what to say about this Bridezilla. I simply cannot fathom why someone would want their entire office at their wedding. But Allison’s advice is excellent. I do think someone needs to have a kind but firm talk with this bride. AND going forward, your company needs to set some guidelines and expectations around these things or else I foresee a lot of hurt feelings and drama in your future.

    #3. Yes, cut the fluff and superfluous language!
    Or at least contain it to ONE very short paragraph as a compromise. But if this is a client, I know that sometimes they will *insist* anyway and possibly override your good judgment and professional advice (WHY oh why do companies hire professional consultants and then proceed to not listen to them?)

    1. LW #3*

      Yes, that is where I am at. Why did they even ask me if they think what they’ve done is awesome??

  36. Beaded Librarian*

    My sister and brother-in-law did a destination wedding to limit the guest list as they knew they couldn’t afford to have everyone they might otherwise like to invite. Not to get more people to come!

    1. Lore*

      Exactly! I had friends do this partly because one has an enormous family and the other was basically raised by wolves and they wanted to constrain it in such a way to make them both feel surrounded by nearest and dearest. It was probably 20 people total, and still more from one side but not overwhelming.

  37. Database Developer Dude*

    OP#2 – Avoiding handshakes: I don’t think this is going to be an issue. Even in venues where people normally greet each other warmly, handshakes are being avoided. I’m a member of a couple of organizations where the organization leadership is very concerned about the coronavirus. It’s being addressed.

  38. Nelalvai*

    I don’t think #4 is that big a deal. Some people (including me) get tunnel visioned onto the topic at hand. It takes a conscious effort for me to pull back from the subject and do the hello-how-are-you small-talk. Sometimes I forget! It’s not coming from a place of contempt, just distraction.

    1. Arctic*

      It seems like this co-worker was otherwise rude and this heightened it.

      I do think it is rude, generally, but not something to get caught up on all by itself. I’d also probably find it a charming quirk if it was a co-worker I liked who did this. (I can think of one who would totally do this but I don’t talk to him on the phone that often.)

    2. Jennifer*

      If I’m really annoyed with someone and they’ve pushed me to my limit, I’ve jumped right to the point without the small talk. But it takes a lot to get me there.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      It’s not coming from a place of contempt, just distraction.
      People don’t usually judge actions based on the feelings people are having deep inside when performing them. They judge the action and context.

      1. Close Bracket*

        They judge the action and context.

        No, they judge what they *think* is the context based on their own beliefs about what the action means.

    1. OP#2*

      Oooooh I hadn’t thought of those. While they probably won’t work with the C-Suite execs I’ll be supporting, they’ll probably work for the Sales and Marketing teams I’ll be working with.

  39. Jennifer*

    Re: phone etiquette

    I don’t use the phone at all at my current job but before when I saw a name in the caller ID, I’d just answer the phone by greeting the caller. “Hi, Christy!”

    Is that rude? No one ever called me from someone else’s extension so that wasn’t an issue.

  40. BadWolf*

    On OP2 — the companies you work for may already be skipping handshakes. My employer sent out an email that officially said “No handshaking until further notice.”

    1. Heidi*

      If it makes you feel less awkward, you could attribute it to some vague authority out there: “We’ve been asked to not shake hands.” You can follow it with a, “But I’m still very pleased to meet you!” or something like that. Then breeze on through to the business part. Or you could offer some hand sanitizer instead of the handshake.

  41. Ask a Manager* Post author

    There’s someone leaving comments all over this thread under multiple user names, attempting to make it seem like their viewpoint has more support than it does (sock puppetry). I’m removing it, so if you see a bunch of comments disappear, that’s why.

    Please don’t do that. It will get you banned.

  42. Hiring Mgr*

    #4 sounds like a minor annoyance for sure, but OP says she already can’t stand the colleague both personally and professionally, so that’s probably magnifying the offense

  43. Koala dreams*

    #3 It’s more and more common to see careers pages and job advertisement that primarily advertise the company, and don’t contain useful information for applicants. The question is if it’s intentional or not by the business. I guess if they hired a consultant, they are at least interested in improving the content and make it more relevant. Good luck!

    #4 I understand your feeling, I also was surprised when I started working and found out that in the work world, written communication such as e-mails and text messages often don’t need any greetings at all. It feels rude when you’re not accustomed to it. I mostly communicate with customers by phone, and we still do old-fashioned greetings with name of business + name of person. Depending on the business, there might be additional sentences such as “Would you like to place an order?” for a restaurant. (Just imagine how rude THAT would sound if you used it on a coworker!)

    Sadly, most people are lousy at mind-reading. If you want your coworker to change, you need to tell her directly, instead of hoping that she will one day discover your preferences accidentally. It’s a very short conversation to call (or have a face to face conversation if possible) and tell her that you need her to give you a greeting instead of just jumping into the conversation. If she’s forgetful, you might need to remind her a couple of times before she learns.

  44. YoungTen*

    The best time to have addressed this would’ve been early on when you first got the feeling she was expecting this. It seems like she is naive. She means well and its always nice to be considered important enough in a person’s life to be invited to their wedding. But Any wedding and especially a destination wedding is a lot to expect of coworkers. You are the manager and the rest of the office is probably hoping you will save them from this. A wedding luncheon for her may not be a bad idea. You said the office is small which could work to everyone’s advantage. In an office that small, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to duplicate that for everyone. I highly doubt that in an environment that small, people won’t buy even a small gift for their coworkers. Sometimes small financial investments are part of building office relationships. But I’d say be PLEASE, PLEASE reinforce those boundaries. I’d love to read an update on this.

  45. Ariana Grande's Ponytail*

    Re handshake: I have an interview today and am also considering namaste hands as I lean in and use Alison’s script?

    1. OP#2*

      To be honest, for the interview I just sucked it up and shook their hands. It was only two people and I was able to use hand sanitizer after I left the meeting. In an interview situation, I didn’t want to give them any reason to reject me other than not being the best fit for the position. But then, my interview was two weeks ago before we were seeing cases in the US…

  46. Mediamaven*

    LW1- My employee did this to me. Her wedding was out of the country and she very defensively demanded to know if I would be going before I even knew I was invited! She was generally very upset with anyone who wouldn’t foot the bill to go to a country that some people don’t even feel is safe. She still talks about it years later and I casually remind her that you have to realize for many many reasons people can’t always be present at a destination wedding. That said, I went and supported her. I was happy to because it was a place I like and I could comfortably afford it. Although I found out later that her parents and grandparents, who are from a different culture, thought it was bad form that I didn’t give a speech. I found that very annoying. But I’m going to vote suck it up and go. She seems irrationally focused on it.

    1. Observer*

      She seems irrationally focused on it.

      That’s actually a good reason to NOT go. If it does tank her morale to the point that it affects her work for more than a few days, then OP needs to manage her out. Because this is not going to end with the wedding. She’s already pushing boundaries. And she’s beyond unreasonable and demanding something that simply i snot possible.

      Normally, I would be saying “What makes you think that doing this is going to make her happy?” But at this point we actually have a pretty good reason to think that it definitely will not make her happy – The OP explicitly states that they are afraid she’s going to sulk because the rest of the staff won’t all be able to attend.

      You don’t ameliorate wildly unreasonable behavior by accommodating it. It just doesn’t work.

      1. Scarlet2*

        Exactly. Also, the boss sets the office norms. If even the boss tiptoes around unreasonable people’s feelings, nobody feels they can push back. Giving in to boundary-pushing people is the worst thing anyone can do.

  47. Jedi Squirrel*

    #3 — FWIW, The Oatmeal has a terrific cartoon about when he worked in web design, back before he was a successful comic. It is GOLDEN! If you need a laugh for today, here it is.

    Link in follow-up comment.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      • There is no way I believe that a dog is going to send me the toast rather than eat it himself.
      • Rectangles are bad. Was the client mid-20s? As an infant my daughter used to sit on her dad’s lap to play a computer game in which spheres were good but you had to shoot all the shapes with straight sides, and I always figured it would give her some powerful negative programming against cubes.

  48. Janie*

    I’m trying to convince my office to adopt a pharoah mummy/Wakanda forever gesture in the place of handshakes, to avoid spreading germs. No takers so far…

  49. Overagekid*

    13 years experience, and a new job offer has no PTO for their first year?!
    That’s awful!
    Unless they mean they would be giving up the X PTO they had accrued at current job, and would be starting new job with just base PTO and not what they had saved up.

  50. hello*

    #2 I like this one Allison came up with: “We’re probably all avoiding handshakes right now, but it’s very nice to meet you.”

    They might feel relieved if you do this, honestly. Even a more effusive than normal nice to meet you with a head nod might work, but I like the framing she has here

  51. Stevie J*

    Re: Phone etiquette
    I have a coworker who does almost the exact same thing…except she starts talking as soon as she knows the receiver has been picked up! Literally half of her question is done by the time I even put the phone to my ear! And since I normally begin my internal calls with “Hi Sally” or “Good morning John”, I typically don’t even hear her question. Once I greet her though, I usually just wait. She will either finally say hello or good morning…or she will just repeat the question.

  52. Bob Dob*

    OP#3: In my industry, it is common to see “corporate values” on the career page, but those are usually aspirational fluff that don’t reflect the reality of the work environment. It would be great if companies could list some benefits on their careers page, but even that seems to be out of favor. I no longer believe that I can learn about the company’s culture from the promotional statements that the company puts on its website. It is usually more instructive to look on the company’s LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter account, to get an idea of what the company values.

  53. LogicalOne*

    #1. Does your employee watch too much of The Office? I’m kind of serious. There was the episode where Pam and Jim got married and invited everyone to attend their destination wedding at Niagara Falls and this situation sounds similar. But I really hope that this employee isn’t counting on your entire staff on going like if it’s a life and death situation. They shouldn’t use this as a friendship test and I would hope that those who don’t travel for the wedding, not to be treated any differently afterwards. Is the staff member too concerned about showing off their wedding to everyone? Are they trying to create an impression? I would hope the staff member invites everyone as a courtesy but to go into it not expecting anyone from work to show up. Destination weddings are tricky because people feel tested, there’s money that not everyone has to spend, it’s just a very, very slippery slope. I just don’t know how anyone doesn’t feel guilty asking others to travel and spend large sums of money that they may or may not have for them. It’s just not right in my opinion. Yay they are getting married but……

    #4. That’s one of my peeves. I understand once in a while if something is rushed or in a panic not to respectfully greet you, but when someone never greets you and strictly goes straight to business, that’s just rude and annoying. If this person keeps doing this, I would jokingly say, “Well hello to you to haha……”. Maybe you need to initiate the greeting for a while and hopefully they pick up on the hint. Sometimes setting the example helps. Or you could just do the same to them and call them and go straight to business and see how they like it, give them a taste of their own actions. Another part of me says they it’s a power play, in that people who feel like they need to exert authority or power over others, never greet anyone. I stopped saying hi to a coworker here for a few weeks because they never greeted me and only talked to me when they needed something and just kept things strictly business. This behavior of not greeting her anymore and just doing straight business got to her and now she greets me on occasion and will joke with me on a rare occasion as well. People sometimes just need to be shown the way. :)

  54. Observer*

    #1 – I agree with the idea that you need to shut this down – and you need to find a way to let people know that you are absolutely fine with them being direct about not being able to come to her wedding. Sure, they should not be actively RUDE about it. But “Sally, I’m not going to be able to come to your wedding.” is NOT rude. Refusing to justify, debate or “discuss” the decision is also most definitely NOT rude. And if Sally sulks, gets rude, overly frosty or difficult to work with, you need to deal with it as a performance problem.

  55. Clementine*

    The destination wedding one is going to solve itself. I can’t imagine that people won’t object to flying in the current predicament we are in.
    For the handshakes, now is the time to start educating people.

    1. Antilles*

      The destination wedding is next year though – by that time, the coronavirus pandemic will have slowed enough for things to mostly return to normal and get back to “hey, how come you’re not at our wedding” (or if not, nobody’s going to be caring about a wedding, that’s for sure).

      1. Snuck*

        Sure… but the coronavirus will also have put enough pressure on finances, and changed people’s mindsets through adversity and tragedy and novel life experiences… that some perspectives will change too.

        The Corona Virus is going to shake a LOT of things up for a LOT of people. While it’s dangerous for some people with health issues, it’s also going to make a right mess of people’s financial and social lives. Things like this topple governments… for a reason.

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