my coworker insults me when I ask questions, talking to my boss about ADHD, and more

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

1. Company ordered people to quarantine, then told them to use PTO for it

A few weeks ago, we were informed by a client that they were possibly exposed to COVID and were seeking a test. As a precaution, everyone who works with that client (almost half the team) was instructed by the owner to quarantine at home, and would be informed when the test came back or when they could come back in. During that time, which ended up being a week and two days, very limited communication went out to people. Finally, they let them know the test was negative and as long as they felt okay they could come back. I was not one of these individuals, but I did help one of them write a professional email to ask how they would be compensated for that time, since it was a forced quarantine by work.

This is a truly high stress, very physically and emotionally demanding job, and we’re given 40 hours of PTO a year, which is combined sick and vacation. The official response from the company is that the quarantined people can use accrued PTO to cover that time, but the company will not be paying beyond that. I am LIVID. I truly can’t imagine staying with a company who treats people that way. Am I overreacting, since I wasn’t even affected by this? I already started sending out resumes and feel completely differently about a job that prior to this was the best I’d ever had.

No, your company is being crappy. People were potentially exposed via work, and work ordered them to stay home. Telling them to take the time out of their miserly one week of PTO is the act of a crappy company that’s not concerned about being fair or supportive to its workers.

That said, these are weird times, many leaders are panicking about how their companies will survive this, people are stressed, some are still applying old rules rather than adapting for new realities, and it’s possible your company just … got this wrong, without it making them irredeemable. What else do you know about them and how they treat people? Are they open to pushback on this? Given that you said this job has been the best you’ve ever had, I’d look at the whole picture, not just this one thing. (But also, this is a job that gives you one week of sick and vacation time per year, so I’m thinking your bar might have been way too low before now.)

Read updates to this letter here and here.

2. My senior colleague insults me when I ask my boss questions

A senior colleague constantly discourages me from asking basic questions. I will address the questions to my boss, but since we are in a shared office space, the senior colleague will interrupt or follow up my boss’s reply with open negativity. This person will react to my questions with non-verbals (eye-rolling, scowling, and shaking head “no”) or remarks like:
– “Why do you need to know?”
– “Why are you asking Boss that?”
– “You’re not going to be here that specific day, so you don’t need to know about it at all.”
– “That doesn’t concern OP.” (Addressed to our boss while I am still present.)

I have already asked my boss to talk with my colleague about these demeaning comments. My boss is not this colleague’s boss. They are peers in the organization and are both vital to its operations.

I’d like to reply in the moment when my colleague makes these discouraging comments. What phrases would you suggest? All I can come up with is, “I am allowed to ask questions.”

Your coworker is a jerk. I’d just reiterate that you’re speaking to your boss, not to them. Repeat, “I was asking Jane and I’d like to hear her answer” as much as necessary. You could also throw in, “If Jane agrees with that, I’m sure she’ll tell me.” There’s also, “This is something I’m working on with Jane, and I’d like to confer with her” and “This is something I’m working on with Jane, and you don’t have the full context on it.”

Whether or not you can address the jerkiness more head-on depends on the politics in your office, since this person is senior to you. But in some contexts you could say, “When I ask Jane a question, could you please let her respond rather than jumping in? She often has more context on why I’m asking than you do.”

But also, when you asked your boss to address it, what was her response? It’s problematic that she’s hearing all this and not shutting it down.

Last, can you minimize the number of times you need to talk to your boss within earshot of this colleague? Can you IM? Save up questions for a short daily confab in a conference room?

3. Should I tell my boss I’ve been struggling with ADHD since working from home?

I’m in my first job out of school; I’ve been there almost a year. My manager seems to appreciate my work, often thanking me for being on top of projects, etc. This is our busiest time of the year, and this crisis has brought up a lot of old bad habits in me that are likely related to what I’ve self diagnosed as ADHD.

At the office, I have a multitude of very specific coping mechanisms that make my problems pretty much non-existent, and even helpful sometimes. However, I’ve been having problems replicating those coping mechanisms when working from home, and it means I’ve been making more mistakes than usual and I’m far less productive, so I’m working longer to make up for my lack of productivity. I’m working on this problem, and honestly it is getting better. But I’ve been wondering about whether to bring this up with my boss. I do think she’d be more understanding than bothered, but I don’t know if I should make a big deal of it or how to approach that conversation.

It could be helpful to let your boss know that you realize you’ve made more mistakes than usual lately, that you think it’s due to adjusting to working from home, and that you’re actively working to figure out systems that will better serve your work in this new set-up. But I wouldn’t mention the ADHD; there’s too often still a stigma associated with it, and you risk your boss forever seeing you through an ADHD lens — for example, seeing a simple mistake as a sign of ongoing disorganization when she otherwise would have given you the benefit of the doubt.

4. Voluntary furloughs

If you take the voluntary furlough option due to COVID-19, can you just show back up to work when you want to?

No. If you’re furloughed, the company has done that so they don’t have to pay your salary for a particular period of time, and they’ve planned their staffing levels (and who else is and isn’t furloughed) accordingly. You can’t just randomly announce you’re returning; you’ve got to wait for them to decide they can afford to bring people back.

It’s also worth noting that some furloughs become permanent, if the company decides it can’t bring you back at all. How likely that is to happen depends on your industry and how long your company can maintain itself with a partially or completely furloughed workforce.

5. Listing outlier accomplishments on a resume

I work in one of the industries that has seen high demand during the coronavirus pandemic. My question is about how to list accomplishments on my resume that came out of this unprecedented time. My manager just sent out everyone’s numbers for March. In March, I made 82 teapots (for example). Our team average, with my numbers included, was 32 teapots per person.

I’ve always been a top performer, but this is crazy for me. (Granted, I worked 60-65 hours a week in March to deal with the demand, when we can normally stick to the usual 40.) Most months, I’ll make something like 35 teapots, and the team average will be 20.

I would like to include a line about my March numbers on my resume, if only to show how I can step up in times of high demand/crisis. But I also obviously want to make it clear that these are not my normal numbers!

You could say:

During emergency coronavirus response, increased teapot production to more than double the team average (producing 82 teapots in one month, versus team average of 32 per person that month)

Make sure you also mention that you consistently out-perform the team average in normal months too!

{ 442 comments… read them below }

  1. WoodswomanWrites*

    For #1, your company was already treating people horribly even before the virus showed up. Only one week off a year that includes both vacation and sick time? That is terrible to start with, and they have extra gall asking employees to suck it up for a quarantine they were ordered to take.

    1. JM60*

      Every year, my employer gives me 15 days PTO, up to 10 days (paid) sick leave, and 12 paid company holidays. That’s a combined 37 days. I can’t imagine only 5 paid days off a year! That may not even be enough to cover a moderate illness, much less any leisurely time off.

      LW1’s employer is terrible.

      1. Agile Phalanges*

        My current company used to only give five days of vacation (and no sick) AFTER your first year of employment. The Oregon Sick Time Law means we now have to frontload it and call it PTO that can also be used as sick, but it’s pretty barbaric. My boss is old and doesn’t realize that the pay/benefits aren’t as great as he thinks they are. Then he wonders why we can’t find employees. I’m lucky enough to have been here long enough I now get three weeks, but still. I was earning five plus paid holidays at my prior job, and I’ve been at this one six years now…

      2. MsChanandlerBong*

        My boss thinks our two weeks of PTO is extraordinarily generous. Maybe if we had separate sick and personal time, but we don’t. When I had a heart attack, I got no vacation all year because I had to use all my PTO at one time. I really could have used a break after a heart attack!

      3. Kat in VA*

        My company has really stepped up. We originally got 25 days of use-it-or-lose-it PTO a year, along with 13 paid holidays.

        In response to The Vid, they’ve tacked on an additional 80 hours (ten days) of PTO if you get sick or have to care for a sick person.

    2. TimeCat*

      Agreed. I personally hate the practice of combining sick and annual leave (because an illness can cost you a vacation and it incentivizes not taking sick leave. Plus whenever someone I know has had their leave converted it always results in fewer combined hours) and the amount provided here is pathetically insufficient for either alone, let alone in combination. A decent employer should have double that each, as a minimum.

    3. Princesa Zelda*

      In Arizona, we have fairly weak worker protections and our governor may as well wear a wardrobe of red suits, he’s such a dyed-in-the-wool Republican — and one week of sick leave is the legally-mandated bare minimum a company can offer its full-time employees.

      You can still like your job! I like mine, and I get 5ish days between them (cobbling together part time jobs). Just be aware that it’s the absolute bare minimum.

      1. Al*

        Businesses with fewer than 15 employees only have to offer 24 hours of paid sick leave. It’s accrued at a rate of 1 hour per 30 hours worked (hourly employee) or one hour per work week (salaried). I’ve been working for very small companies in AZ for years, so I honestly didn’t even know it was higher for larger companies!

      2. JoAnna*

        I’m in AZ too. What’s also awesome (/sarc) is that once you accrue 40 hours of sick time, you stop accruing it until you use some of it and drop below 40 hours. Because no one can be sick for more than a few days a month, apparently.

    4. WellRed*

      “a truly high stress, very physically and emotionally demanding job, and we’re given 40 hours of PTO a year, which is combined sick and vacation.”

      THIS is the best job you’ve ever had? Do you know how paltry 40 hours a year is?

      1. Archaeopteryx*

        Yes, considering five days is pretty much the bare minimum as far as sick time goes, it’s probably more honest to frame this as “we get sick time but no vacation.”

      2. Tidewater 4-1009*

        Don’t be hard on the OP. They may not have a large variety of work experience. They may have had parents who owned a business or a farm and didn’t get exposure to other jobs. They had the brains and initiative to write AAM, and they’ll learn from this discussion and experience and move on to better things in time.

        1. une autre Cassandra*

          Could also just be great coworkers/immediate supervisors and rewarding work—the PTO sucks, obviously, but maybe the environment and actual activities are great in spite of the stingy PTO policy?

          1. OP #1*

            Yeah I love the people I work with both clients and coworkers and my boss is incredible I care more about those factors than PTO which is why this situation was so jarring and awful usually it’s a great place to work.

        2. Jennifer Juniper*

          They might not have the privilege of getting a better job, especially with the COVID-19 pandemic.

          They might be a woman, a POC, disabled, over 40, have missing teeth, be obese, or any number of things that could result in being kept out of professional jobs.

          1. Jennifer Juniper*

            I know this is illegal. However, employers discriminate at the subconscious level anyway.

      3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        I think this is a rude comment to make.

        Listen. Some people never know a day of paid leave in their career, even though they have what they’d deem a “good” job or their “best” job.

        Not everyone is able to work for places with great benefits packages. Even with impressive work experience, dedication and education.

        I’ve always had vacation, paid holidays and so forth. And most of my friends and family are in awe of that. If they don’t work, they don’t get paid.

        It’s not just farms, family owned businesses or anything that’s apparently “below” so many of the entitled blue bloods around here who think that everyone gets everything they deserve and are worthy of in the working world.

        1. French Pressed*

          It grinds my teeth a little bit sometimes. I was born into a family owned blue collar shop-work business, and that business owner was raised by a farmer – then my other parent who went to work for the health insurance ended up in a grocery store. Then I worked 3+ part time service jobs all through my education to pay bills. I had zero full-time office exposure until after my graduate degree, and my knowledge of norms or expectations were fully-formed by my own initiative to learn them (like coming places by here). When I read the common comments of “I can’t fathom having less than 3 months vacation, unlimited sick leave, and generous benefits!” (exaggerating, but you get it), I feel a little hackled – there were big swaths of my beginning professional life where I couldn’t imagine having two days off in the same 7 day period, cut me some slack re-tooling my sense of norm – as well as a sense of, as I described it to a friend in a different conversation earlier this week – almost poverty survivors guilt? I no longer experience food insecurity, “I Made Rent Today” days, etc. – and although it’s because I took on massive student debt, grinded through higher education, and worked my way into my 9-5 office gig, sometimes I feel almost guilty about leaving the dirt-under-my-nails working class and can’t relate to the sense of entitlement to benefits, even in cases when I think employees SHOULD be entitled to them.

          It’s a weird jumble of feelings and I just dumped it all over you, happy monday I guess!

          1. Amy Sly*

            I totally get you. Hell, I remember being ecstatic when I got my first “comma” check less than five years ago — that is, a paycheck with four digits. And while I got paid decent money doing document review on a contract basis, as a contractor I had no PTO or paid holidays whatsoever. “He who will not work shall not eat” is a way of life for so many people, and being happy about a whole 40 hours of PTO is a real thing for folks getting their first “grown-up” job.

    5. MCMonkeyBean*

      40 hours PTO is so bad that at first my brain processed it as 40 *days* and I was like dang that’s some pretty good PTO, I’d just shrug this off.

      40 hours is absurd. I feel like it’s almost more insulting than having no PTO at all.

    6. RussianInTexas*

      My company offers:
      5 vacation days and 4 sick days for the first 5 years, after the first full year of employment.
      5 paid holidays (not even Memorial Day), which you get after being employed for 6 months.
      Medical insurance – after 3 full months of full time employment which happens after 3 months of probationary period. I guarantee they only offer medical insurance because the company is over 50 people and must do so.
      We had to fight to work from home during all this.
      No, we are not retail or restaurant industry, why do you ask?

      1. Natalie*

        >Medical insurance – after 3 full months of full time employment which happens after 3 months of probationary period. I guarantee they only offer medical insurance because the company is over 50 people and must do so.

        For what it’s worth that extended wait period doesn’t seem to be legal. The final rule on adding orientation periods to the ACA waiting period only allows them to be one month.

        1. RussianInTexas*

          From the article:
          Specifically, the final regulations provide that being otherwise eligible to enroll in a plan means having met the plan’s substantive eligibility conditions (for example, being in an eligible job classification, achieving job-related licensure requirements specified in the plan’s terms, or satisfying a reasonable and bona fide employment-based orientation period).
          So, 90 days of the orientation period, THEN 90 days waiting period.
          6 months total.

    7. Natalie*

      Seriously. The little flooring company I do bookkeeping for, that has 3 employees in a good year, gives more PTO than that. The stingiest company I ever worked for, where the owner didn’t believe in COLAs so anyone who didn’t make a case for a “raise” was losing money after a couple of years, gave more PTO than that. 40 hours wouldn’t even meet the minimum of my city’s barebones sick time law.

      1. RussianInTexas*

        I work in the state that has absolutely no extra laws on top of federal requirements. And the city adds nothing to.
        Basically, it’s literally up to the employer.

    8. Bella*

      I was like Oh 40 days, yeah that’s pretty generous but probably needed for high stress – oh, HOURS??

    9. TootsNYC*

      yeah, when I saw this:
      “What else do you know about them and how they treat people?”

      I thought, “well, they only give people a week of time off, and that includes sick time, in normal years!”

    10. Potatoes gonna potate*

      When I first started at my former company, all PTO/sick leave etc was in 1 bank and it was accrued and nothing rolled over. Some people ended up losing all their PTO at year end, while others exhausted their “PTO” and ended up taking unpaid days. Eventually, as the number of staff grew, we got a real HR and eventually separate banks for PTO (still accrued but now it rolls over), sick leave, bereavement, etc.

      The 1 bank system is aweful.

    11. Elizabeth West*

      100% this. A measly week of PTO is as bad as making you wait a year for any PTO at all. Policies like this are why people show up for work when they’re sick. Hello, contagion.

    12. Pennalynn Lott*

      My company gives us 23 PTO days and “just track it with your manager” sick days. As in, a day or two (or four) here and there doesn’t get recorded anywhere except an email conversation with your boss. If it’s a more serious illness, like the flu or recovery from surgery, my company *might* make you use some PTO if you’re out less than two weeks. After that, it’s just a matter of how you get paid. We have automatic short-term disability that will pay 100% of your salary for 2 weeks to 6 months (depending on length of employment) or you can choose to use your PTO. But at no point do we run out of sick days. (I mean, realistically, at some point a person would need to go on FLMA leave but, shy of that, management just wants to make sure we take care of ourselves).

    13. Curmudgeon in California*

      Seriously. This is stingy even by American standards. I’ve worked for companies that had three weeks combo, and I ended up burned out from lack of leave. (I have some chronic issues.)

      Your coworkers probably work sick all the time, since one cold nukes their vacation for an entire year.

      Under coronavirus quarantine, according to that company they’d have to burn two years leave just to comply with quarantine.

      The pandemic is certainly pointing out the execrable sick leave policies of a lot of US businesses.

      1. Tram*

        Actually, zero paid vacation, sick, or holiday days is the norm for many service industry jobs in the United States. Most commenters here are used to iffice/white collar jobs.

        1. Amy Sly*

          People who work the service industry don’t have the time to check AAM while they’re at work.

    14. Bluephone*

      I so wish I could do the scream emoji on here because that’s my reaction to LW 1’s company

      1. OP #1*

        Seriously guys in every other aspect they are a solid place to work, they support academic endeavors which is important to our field, they have always been so supportive about my chronic medical problems, my boss is awesome, the team is really cohesive and everyone is focused on the goals but still collegial and nice to work with. Like yeah the PTO isn’t ideal but it has never truly bothered me prior to this specific event- like I could deal with the one week when combined with all of the benefits, but this whole nonsense is so out of left field not okay it has me questioning everything.

  2. Gaia*

    I’m sure you’ll hear this a lot, OP1 but your company really sucks. They give you one week of COMBINED vacation and sick time a year. That is bad enough. But to expect employees potentially exposed through their work to use their PTO for a COVID-19 quarantine is just seriously gross.

    You are not overreacting to want something better. You, and all of your colleagues, deserve better. Companies that handle this wrong risk paying the price for years to come in image and reputation damage.

    1. OP #1*

      Yeah seriously I would have never considered leaving prior to this event I think it was totally uncalled for how they’re handling it. I have never had any issues- I have chronic health problems and they have always been amazingly accommodating of all of that, and my boss is a great mentor which is why I went with this company over other ones. The people affected were all either relatively new to the company or people who are open about it not being their forever job- part of me wonders if it’s going down this way because they don’t necessarily care about retaining them? But it looks so bad I feel like they’ll lose the people they care about keeping too. It’s just a mess.

  3. CatMomma*

    Please don’t self diagnose yourself with this and don’t tell people at work about a self diagnose. There’s too much bias and without being a psychologist you don’t know everything about it. I have ADHD and your description sounds nothing like it and just sounds like a giant stereotype about it instead. If you think you have an issue, get it diagnosed, but don’t go using a label that doesn’t apply to you or you’ll just insult those who it does apply to.

      1. COBOL Dinosaur*

        It’s VERY HARD to get a diagnosis as an adult. I managed to finally get my family doctor to prescribe something for anxiety that is also prescribed off label for adult ADHD and that was the closest I could get. I didn’t realize I had ADHD until my son was diagnosed. I really wish it had been discovered when I was younger but I was just ‘a student who wasn’t working to their full potential’.

        1. Blue Anne*

          Anecdata. My anecdata is the complete opposite.

          I was also a “student not working to her full potential” my whole life, and misdiagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder. Really sucked. Before I started my master’s at age 30, I made an appointment with an educational psychologist because it always felt like there had to be some reason my intellect and work ethic weren’t reflected in my grades. Got an appointment by googling for medical folks in my city who could do adult learning assessments, had a couple phone conversations and one of the ones I’d googled recommended the lady I went to. ADHD wasn’t on my radar at all. I thought maybe a processing thing of some kind. Dyscalculia maybe. 30 minutes into the interview/conversation portion of the assessment, psych said she was completely changing the tests she was going to give me because it sounded to her like I had absolute textbook ADHD and she had prepped for dyslexia/calculia. I was floored. Tests bore it out completely, and in hindsight, it makes absolute sense. Psych sent me a report, I brought the report to my GP, he talked with me about it for 10-15 minutes, we tried different meds over a couple months. A year later, 30mg Adderall XR every morning, silent solitary rooms for exams, and so much about my life has vastly improved. I cried the first time I took Adderall. Who knew a stimulant would let me calm the F down? It was the feeling docs had been trying to give me for years with anti-anxiety meds. (Adderall is now the only med I’m on – no more need for anti anxiety/depression meds!)

          I’m in a suburb of a mid-size Midwestern city. It wasn’t hard for me to be diagnosed or get medication as an adult. So I do get annoyed by people self-diagnosing, although not annoyed enough to be rude to them. That said, nothing that OP wrote sounds like a giant misinformed stereotype to me.

          1. une autre Cassandra*

            Well, I mean, just because an astute clinician and accurate assessment were ultimately accessible to you doesn’t mean they’re equally accessible to everyone. I don’t know that you really need to be “annoyed” by people who are trying to figure out their challenges and acquire tools to manage those challenges.

            1. Blue Anne*

              Yes, I agree that them being available to me doesn’t mean that they’re available to everyone. I also don’t think that them being tough to find for COBOL Dinosaur means that “It’s VERY HARD to get a diagnosis as an adult” for everyone. This was my point in mentioning anecdata.

              I also pointed out that nothing OP said sounds like a giant misinformed stereotype to me. I think CatMomma is being too harsh. I think it’s great for people to read up about symptoms they’re having and try to figure out what they think is happening. If I’d done that, I probably wouldn’t have been on a useless-to-me Celexa prescription for so long. But there are also a lot of people who feel comfortable just casually throwing around whatever self-diagnosis they feel like for any number of reasons.

              The comment “I don’t know that you really need to be annoyed” really rubs me the wrong way. I’m being pretty balanced here, and even when I’m annoyed by friends who share none of my symptoms casually saying “oh yeah, I totally have that too” – which is a pretty common and mild example of people being cruddy about self-diagnosing – I’m not rude enough to say anything about it to them. Given all the understandable, valid annoyance if someone casually says “oh yeah, I’m totally OCD”, I’m not sure why you feel the need to tell me that you don’t know that I need to be feeling how I feel about my own mental health stuff in this situation.

          2. BeckySuz*

            I realize this is three days later but I gotta say I had this exact experience. The first time I took adderall as an adult it was like someone had turned on my brain finally. It calms me down which is crazy. I’m now a fully functioning adult. And I don’t need any anxiety or depression drugs anymore either. Turns out I was just depressed and anxious because of my undiagnosed ADHD

        2. ampersand*

          I was just diagnosed two weeks ago and it wasn’t at all difficult—I was actually expecting difficulty given what I’ve heard but it turned out to be quite easy. I’m wondering how much of this has to do with what area a person lives in (I’m in a metropolitan area) plus the clinician you end up seeing? I’m not sure why some of us have no problems and others are having to jump through hoops to get a diagnosis or be taken seriously. It seems unfortunate for those who would really benefit from a diagnosis and medication/additional support.

        3. ShortT*

          I was diagnosed less than a month ago. I’m 41. I had suspicions, but didn’t know what was going on with me. I knew enough to know that seeing my PCP, or asking my SO, who’s an MD, wouldn’t give me the most accurate information, so, I made an appointment with a neuropsychologist. My boss was kind enough to let me step out for two hours for an intake interview that happened to be available the following day. The doctoral student working with the neuropsychologist conducted the intake interview. A formal assessment was scheduled for two weeks later and a feedback appointment with the neuropsychologist scheduled for two weeks after that. My previous diagnoses of depression and social anxiety were reaffirmed. I received a diagnosis of ADHD and advice to seek further assessment for possible ASD.

          I was a good student. I’ve been employed at the same school since 2010. I have a solid professional reputation. People who don’t know me VERY well think I have my act together. What they don’t see is my naturally constant need to nap and my deep-rooted persistent inefficiency in accomplishing what others see me doing well and the resulting exhaustion.

          I’ve been taking 10mg dextroamphetamine-amphetamine twice a day for almost two weeks, as well as doing teletherapy.

          The hard things have been deciding with whom I can feel safe sharing the news of my diagnosis, such as my SO and my SIL, and whom I shouldn’t tell, such as my mother.

        4. Ace in the Hole*

          This wasn’t my experience. I got diagnosed at 18 by the first psychologist I saw. Then lost all my medical records (move, long uninsured period, etc). After going untreated for 10 years and with no proof I’d ever been diagnosed, the first therapist I saw agreed that I had ADHD and referred me to a psychiatrist who prescribed adderall with basically zero fuss.

          I’m not saying you’re wrong, but I think it would be more accurate to say it CAN BE hard to get a diagnosis as an adult. It depends a lot on your location, your health insurance, etc.

    1. MommaCat*

      I’m not the OP, but getting a diagnosis can be very hard. I went through the diagnosis process only to be told my grades were too good in college for me to have ADHD. But… I’m still struggling. At some point I’ll get my act together enough to get a second opinion, but until then I’ll keep using coping methods recommended for ADHDers, because they work better than anything else has so far. Obviously I’m seeing the OP’s struggle through the lens of my own experience, but it’s entirely possible that’s something they’ve dealt with.
      Bringing this back on topic, I agree that you (OP) shouldn’t disclose your suspicions if at all possible, mainly because of the stigma.

      1. Anon for this*

        +1, my partner went through adult diagnosis and honestly we wish we hadn’t bothered. She was eventually diagnosed with ADHD but before that she had people refuse to assess her because she has a professional job, people refuse to assess because she’s female, people saying she’s employed so she’s not a high priority for assessment, and so on. Eventually she had to pay for it privately to get to see anyone at all, and that was only because she had an autism diagnosis and could access an autism provider for further assessment.

        1. Arts Akimbo*

          I went through diagnosis and might as well have not bothered because the meds don’t work well for me. My psychiatrist wanted to try me on Vyvanse but I couldn’t afford it, and while Adderall worked amazingly, potentially life-changingly for… about three to five months?… I quickly built up some kind of tolerance, and now I feel a bunch of annoying side effects but none of the focus benefits that I got in the beginning. So, now I’m back where I started, just behaviorally managing it. :P

      2. Tiny Soprano*

        Absolutely. ADHD and high achievement are certainly not mutually exclusive. The brain just functions a bit differently.

        1. Curmudgeon in California*

          This. I had a childhood dx, and I thought it didn’t apply as an adult, because I was mostly a high achiever. But I’ve been fighting the ADD my entire life in order to succeed. I wish I had been given more help as a kid and teen, but I had to find my own way, and it has cost me a lot in terms of earning potential.

      3. Susie Q*

        Interesting. I didn’t have this experience at all. I think it depends on the doctor. I’m a female high achiever as well.

        1. Autumnheart*

          Same. I was diagnosed at age 42 after a referral from my OBGYN. (I’d mentioned at my yearly physical that I was considering being assessed.) But my doctor herself has ADHD and was, herself, diagnosed as an adult. So I’m sure that had a ton to do with my comparatively painless experience.

      4. Also Anon For This*

        Part of the problem is the diagnostic criteria itself. My daughter is ADHD, diagnosed as a kid. When she went for help as an adult she had a hard time getting it – they didn’t believe the diagnosis because part of the criteria is that it significantly impacts the patient’s life. So if you are doing OK in school, have a job, etc. you will have difficulty getting a diagnosis. (Fortunately for my daughter, I had all the paperwork from her original diagnosis for her to provide to her Dr., which convinced him she wasn’t just seeking drugs for recreational use.)

        So for OP, I agree with Allison – without a diagnosis blame it on the shift to WFH knocking you out of your established routines and the difficulty adapting. If you want a diagnosis find a Dr. who specializes, and go in armed with what symptoms you have and why you want the diagnosis (accommodations at work vice drugs) – see if it helps.

        1. TootsNYC*

          this is why my son couldn’t get any ADHD accommodations in high school–his grades were too high.
          He was stressed to the max, and he had NO time or energy to do anything but the homework it took to keep those grades up (and he was incredibly inefficient at it), so no help.

          1. Arts Akimbo*

            Inefficiency, that’s exactly it! I’m a high achiever, but I take six times as long to do anything as my peers (or so it seems!). I have achieved what I have largely because of pulling all-nighters, which is terrible.

      5. Aquawoman*

        I agree with the point that people should not lazily apply mental-disorder criteria to themselves. BUT I have had the opposite problem–I realized that I had ADHD and that led me to realize my son had ADHD and it was REALLY hard to get anyone to take it seriously. His school counselor and teachers were like, nah, and his primary care doctor told me he couldn’t have ADHD because his grades were too good. It took me probably 4 years from my first suspicion to the time I got a diagnosis, and in the meantime, he was miserable when faced with chores or homework, had an explosive temper, and life was just a lot harder for him than it needed to be. I don’t have a diagnosis, but there is no question in my mind at all that I have ADHD, not based on “oh, sometimes I’m distracted,” but very thorough reading and understanding of the symptoms (interest-based attention, no working memory, etc).

        1. Quill*

          For ADHD and Autism… self diagnosis is the primary way that adult women end up learning enough about their problems to get any sort of support. Because depending on your age and location (and whether or not you did well in school) it can still be vanishingly uncommon for a girl to recieve a formal diagnosis during childhood.

          So let’s not jump down OP’s throat about the self diagnosis because professional diagnosis is out of reach to many and we’re supposed to trust OP’s word that they’re reasonably assessing their situation here and taking this seriously.

          1. Ice and Indigo*

            And with autistic adult men, too. If your impairments are mild enough to have got missed in childhood, odds are the professional diagnosis only happened because you self-diagnosed and then somehow made it through all the systemic obstacles to a doctor who confirmed it. Which can be next to impossible, depending on where you live. Ill-informed self-diagnosis is bad; well-informed self-diagnosis is completely reasonable.

      6. Perpal*

        It can also be a mark against you; I pursued eval and management for (mild) ADHD pretty much because I was struggling a bit and wanted to try medications (I personally didn’t find it that helpful and had too many strings attached) – and many years later when I went for extra disability insurance, they forced me to have a rider that I couldn’t get disability for “mental health conditions”. It lasts two years so hopefully comes off soon but I was flabbergasted that doing such a minor thing counted against me in such a way.
        I probably could have just not told them, it was so minor I almost forgot about it, but I get nervous if something did happen and they had to pay up they’d try to sniff out anything in my past that they could use to say I lied or something.

      7. Snow globe*

        I am floored that someone told you you couldn’t have ADHD if your grades are high. Get tested by someone who specializes in this. My son was tested and found to be both ADHD and gifted; the psychologist explained that many times ADHD can be masked in people who have high intelligence, because they can figure out ways to compensate. But no one who is knowledgeable would say that you can’t have both good grades and ADHD

        1. Probably Taking This Too Seriously*

          Mine as well. Hyper focus can be a symptom for some people with it.

        2. Blue Anne*

          I think this is really the key. I can imagine that a lot of adults who appear to be pretty functional would have problems if they just went to their GP and said “I think I have ADHD”, unless the GP happened to be particularly knowledgeable/open to the concept. Get to a specialist.

      8. She's One Crazy Diamond*

        I have ADHD, diagnosed as an adult by accident when I went in for panic attacks, those of you who can’t get diagnosed, are you trying your PCP or are you going to an actual psychiatric professional? I see a PMHNP and she could tell I had it just from the way I talked and moved. But no PCP I’ve ever had even suspected it.

      9. AverageJane*

        Hell, I have a friend who’s GP was like “I know you’ve had a diagnosis previously, there’s a genetic component and your kid has a diagnosis, and you exhibit all the characteristics, but… you’re managing to keep your head above water [note: she does, but BARELY and it takes way more energy/time/missed sleep than most people], so I’m refusing to write you a prescription unless you submit to the entire diagnostic process again”

        I have another friend who sees a psychiatrist who more or less told her the same thing as my other example, and that professional is supposed to be an expert on the subject (google reviews echo my friend’s experience).

        Even with a diagnosis in place, basic treatment can be difficult to access because we’ve bought into “big pharma is drugging kids who don’t need to be for profit” BS. ADHD is SUPER responsive to treatment (effective treatment rates for ADHD make the ETR for Depression and Anxiety look like child’s play) and we don’t treat people, because: Ritalin makes kids robots and is only used by parents who don’t want to parent.

        Drives me…

    2. MommaCat*

      Also, great username! Is it sad that I didn’t notice how similar ours are until after I posted?

    3. Princess Deviant*

      We don’t know enough about the OP and their difficulties to be able to say that their self-diagnosis is wrong.
      It can be helpful to diagnose oneself, to know what one’s difficulties are, in order to get help as an adult.

      OP, I don’t have any work-related advice for you, I’m sorry, because I am wondering the same myself. I would recommend a formal diagnosis, though, if you possibly can get it, if only for the reasonable accommodations you can get as a result.

      All the best.

      1. CC*

        Heck it can be *necessary* to self diagnose so you know what to pursue or what screenings or tests to ask for in order to get a “real” diagnosis!

    4. Homo neanderthalensis*

      Getting diagnosed with ADHD (or autism) is expensive and time consuming and likely to be a dead end (Especially as an adult) even if you are a dead ringer for the disorder(s) because of the biases and limitations of the medical system. “Girls don’t have this” “you’re just drug seeking- keep talking about this and I’ll put that in your chart” “your grades were good, so despite having 99% of the signs I don’t think you have it”
      Because of this increasingly in ADHD (and autism) self-advocacy groups self-diagnosis is increasingly accepted. It’s not insulting to people that had the privilege to get a formal diagnosis that other folks without that privilege can use a label that likely does apply to them to try and help themselves at work or school. That being said- the bias is very real, so OP should mention symptoms rather then the disorder itself in an attempt to avoid problems.

      1. Mike C.*

        Name those self-advocacy groups that are perfectly fine with self-diagnosis in place of a actual medical work.

        And yes, it is insulting when someone goes around with a vague idea of a stereotype of ADHD and claims to have it. It’s not well understood outside of a limited number of folks and I’m certainly going to be wary of anyone who isn’t a medical expert claiming that they’ve “done their research”.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          The OP isn’t asking for opinions about her self-diagnosis. It’s been flagged as an issue for her to consider, and I’ll ask that you leave it there.

        2. Homo neanderthalensis*

          I have suffered far more at the hands of “Medical Experts” then at the hands of people who diagnosis themselves in lieu of unavailable doctors in order to better understand themselves and how to interact with the world.

          1. Fikly*

            Exactly this. I cannot tell you how many “medical professionals” have told me you don’t look like x.

            And yes, for the record, I have actual diagnoses by medical professionals.

          2. Ice and Indigo*

            Yep. Studying something as an academic subject does NOT automatically give you a better understanding of something than living with it all your life.

        3. Aquawoman*

          So, people should not be allowed to use coping mechanisms that work for them unless a doctor tells them it’s ok? Also, it’s very hard for women to get diagnosed with anything that’s considered a “boy problem.” If you aren’t aware of discussions of self-diagnosis re autism then YOU haven’t done any research and shouldn’t be projecting that onto others.

          1. Senor Montoya*

            That’s not what people are saying. The advice to the OP is, don’t talk about ADHD as possibly being a source of their difficulties because (1) in many places there’s a stigma and (2) it’s a self diagnosis, which, however valid that may or may not be — I;m not speaking to that issue — is very very unlikely to carry weight when discussing with their boss.

            Alison’s script is perfect for this situation.

            If OP wants to get accommodations under ADA, then they will have to get documentation. Which is hard to get, but that’s the law.

            1. Marthooh*

              I think Aquawoman was replying to the commenter who said “…it is insulting when someone goes around with a vague idea of a stereotype of ADHD and claims to have it.”

      2. Entry-level Marcus*

        And often, ime, therapists are reluctant to give formal diagnoses for adhd or autism. They seem to think that formal diagnoses don’t matter that much, it’s much more about treating whatever you’re struggling with. And honestly, I kinda agree with them. If you’re not seeking medication, formal diagnoses don’t matter that much as an adult, and are costly and time consuming to get.

          1. Wisteria*

            No, that is absolutely not true. Exactly the opposite is true. Per ADA, you are not required to provide any personal medical details. What you are required to provide is an explanation of the accommodations that are necessary for your condition. You do not have to say what the actual condition is.

        1. cryptid*

          I was formally dx with autism and informally with ADHD (at least, it doesn’t appear in my chart but I have a psych who handles meds and agreed verbally that it’s the correct dx) and while it was nice to be validated in my self dx, it didn’t change much of anything either way. The accommodations I need are unusual and can be done informally, so it hasn’t come up that the ADHD isn’t on paper.

        2. Kuododi*

          I can help with that question. I can only speak from my experience as a Spanish speaking licensed mental health counselor/pastoral counselor.
          The clinicians who trained me regarding diagnostics drilled in my head to start easy with a diagnosis then staff the case and make appropriate changes in dx and tx plan

          (After all, it’s easier to update a treatment plan diagnoses rather than trying to “undiagnose’ a person.. particularly when faced with child/adolescent treatment planning and the stigma associated with certain issues.

          1. Blue Anne*

            Thank you for mentioning that. It’s really interesting. Reading your explanation, it certainly makes sense to do it that way – but no wonder people get frustrated with the process.

      3. KoiFeeder*

        My mom has autism. It definitely runs in the family, we (my mom, myself, maternal grandmother, maternal great-grandmother, maternal great-aunt) all have pretty similar autism so it was obvious once I was diagnosed that yup, that’s what it was. But my mom can’t get an Official Diagnosis because she was over forty by the time I was diagnosed. ADHD, where stimulants are an accepted treatment, is probably nearly impossible to get an adult diagnosis for.

    5. Mr. Forklift*

      What description? All OP said was that they have coping mechanisms that aren’t working as well as they did in the office (and rightly so, since they’re asking Alison for advice on working from home, not a diagnosis). You don’t know what led them to their decision.

    6. Ask a Manager* Post author

      The OP didn’t share any details that led her to her self-diagnosis, so I’m not sure why you’re saying it sounds nothing like ADHD. (And others have shared some of the issues with getting formally diagnosed.)

      Regardless, she isn’t asking for opinions about her self-diagnosis. It’s been flagged as an issue for her to consider, and now I’ll ask that we leave it there.

    7. TimeCat*

      My Dad is a physician specializing in childhood neuro issues and he encounters a lot of kids whose teachers or parents have “diagnosed” them with ADHD are wrong (and just don’t understand children aren’t little adults). Sometimes he has to take kids off medication their general pediatrician put them on.

      Everyone us having trouble focusing right now. Don’t self diagnose (and especially don’t self medicate).
      It’s really not a self diagnosis thing.

      1. AlsoAnon*

        Kids being “diagnosed” by parents because they’re hyperactive or whatever and an adult who realises “I have problem X”, looks into ways to deal with that and discovers that Problem X is massively endemic to Diagnosis Y, looks into Diagnosis Y and discovers that Diagnosis Y explains not only why they’ve had Problem X all their lives but also why they do A, B and C are two different things.

        I’m in my thirties. Three years ago I read an article on adult women with Autism and went “yeah, same”, got curious and did a ton of research on how Autism presents in women and pretty much went down every tick list going ‘do that, do that, hate that, hate that’. I interacted with a lot of people who were Officially Diagnosed Autistic and we had so many common experiences it was a little scary.

        Because I live in a country with sane healthcare a little under two years ago I was able to go to my GP and talk about the fact that I thought I might be Autistic. They were able to refer me to a specialist who officially diagnosed me as Autistic. Since then I have been able to get accommodations which have pretty much saved me from the nervous breakdown I was teetering on the edge of.

        If I lived in a country where healthcare was insanely expensive and difficult to access I might not have chosen to go that route because of cost and stress. I would still be Autistic, I’d just still be self-diagnosed.

        My mother, who is in her eighties, is also quite probably on the spectrum. She doesn’t feel the need to get an official diagnosis but it’s been immensely helpful to both of us in planning for the future.

        If I hadn’t read that article I don’t know where I would currently be but I doubt it would be a good place. Why? Because without my self-advocacy I would never have been diagnosed. Doctors are getting better at diagnosing issues as they present in girls/women but that still leaves a fairly sizeable portion of adult women who don’t have a name to put to why they do the things they do.

        1. DW*

          One problem with self-diagnosing ADHD is the high rates of commorbidity and symptom overlap with other disorders. Even non-specialist psychiatrists get them confused a lot. My sister struggled with insomnia last year that got so bad that her executive functions started breaking down, and her doctor saw that and suggested the insomnia was caused by ADHD. She’s since recovered and has no executive function issues, because her psychiatrist was wrong. And if a professional could be wrong, then I don’t think you can put reliable stock in a layperson.

          The other problem with self-diagnosing is, as Alison said, the stigma. A lot of it is stereotypes about being lazy, but another big part of it is about the drugs. The drugs are really really strong and a ton of people without ADHD use them to get a leg up on academics or work. I’ve known people who lied about having ADHD to get drugs. If I were the employer, that’s what I would be most concerned about – at this point, without a proper diagnosis, you just can’t tell.

          1. BBA*

            And one of the benefits of “self-diagnosing,” even if you later come to discover you’re Similar Condition Y rather than Assumed Condition X, is that you understand yourself better than before, you can begin to learn to work with the way your brain functions rather than denying it, you can develop strategies that you never would have imagined before, and you can find ideas and support from a community that has similar experiences to you.

            But I agree that it’s wiser to not disclose ADHD in a work setting, and that a lot of times there is additional stigma that people face when they disclose they don’t have a clinical diagnosis.

          2. Lalaroo*

            This is wild to me. Why would her employer care AT ALL about whether she was self-diagnosing to access drugs?

            Also, as someone with ADD who takes medication (and has multiple friends and family who do as well), the drugs don’t work that way for us. They bring us up to the “normal” level of ability to focus, they sure don’t give us an edge.

          3. Dahlia*

            Self-diagnosis as a way to find coping mechanisms is not the same as lying to seek out drug. Wtf?

        2. Quill*

          Honestly with mental health if self diagnosis gets you to coping mechanisms that work, then we should encourage self diagnosis (in a thoughtful and well researched fashion, of course.)

          Skimming through the comments I see a lot of people whose scabs over a mental health diagnosis just got torn open and… folks, put a bandaid on it. Don’t assume that because a doctor told you what’s going on in your head that people can’t have the same problems without a doctor turning up to validate their diagnosis, don’t assume that OP is making a joke about your diagnosis (OP would probably NOT be writing Allison about accomodations and stigma if they weren’t taking this seriously,) and above all else hop over to the Autistic Self Advocacy network and learn about self diagnosis from people who do neurodiversity advocacy.

          1. TimeCat*

            If OP wants to research ADHD techniques and use them, that’s fine (my admonition is 100% don’t self medicate, which is very different). But telling her boss she has ADHD based in a self diagnosis is a bad life choice.

            1. Quill*

              Yeah, though disclosing to your boss is a minefield to begin with, self diagnosis or no. (And for the love of god don’t tinker with your own brain chemistry!)

              Do use the self diagnosis to concentrate on specific trends that you think you can find a workaround for instead. (Example: while at home I have less access to program X so I may need an extension on projects that use it heavily, or could we consolidate questions or requests so I can deal with them a few times a day rather than being interrupted with them unpredictably, etc.)

            2. Dahlia*

              It’s not like you can just go pick Adderall up off the grocery store shelf. It’s a controlled substance. I think “don’t do illegal drugs’ is a little unnecessary.

      2. Aquawoman*

        I had the opposite problem–I thought my son had ADHD for years and was pooh-poohed for years. He has ADHD. And my self-diagnosis is what made me realize that HE had ADHD. Assuming people are stupid and ill-informed is not really a good look.

        1. Aquawoman*

          OK, that last sentence was harsh and I apologize. Some of us in seeking to understand ourselves and what’s “wrong with me” really come gradually to these conclusions after a lot of reading and reflection. AND it doesn’t really matter if she’s diagnosable–that self-diagnosis has led to increased coping and better functioning, and telling people to stop trying to udnerstand themselves and improve their own functioning is wrong, and especially wrong in a country where the healthcare system sucks and the mental healthcare system even more so.

          1. Tau*

            Yeah, people can be really nasty about self-diagnosis and unwilling to admit that there are people and situations where it makes sense and where the self-assessment can be solid. I was self-DXed with Asperger’s for five years before getting my official diagnosis, and I still remember how my first reaction when I had the piece of paper in my hand was “thank god, now people will stop being absolutely horrible to me about it online.” Not, you know, “I can finally get the support I need to hopefully not fail out of university” – the online awfulness had left a bigger mark. It really sucks, and I’m sorry you went through that re: your son.

            And this is really something OP should be aware of. Be very, very careful when talking about your self-diagnosis of something. A lot of people do not take it well at all.

            1. tetris replay*

              Absolutely. I almost skipped the comments section for this one because I had been expecting a pile-on.

          2. TimeCat*

            I am in no way saying people who self diagnose are stupid, but they don’t have the training toolbox they need to properly diagnose these issues.

            With children particularly the consequences can be high. Hence why taking a kid to see a specialist like my Dad can be crucial. My Dad receives letters from kids regularly thanking him for turning their lives around.

            1. Vicky Austin*

              “I am in no way saying people who self diagnose are stupid, but they don’t have the training toolbox they need to properly diagnose these issues.”


              1. Kuododi*

                For the record I am licensed and qualified to make initial diagnoses and work with an MD/ PhD as supervisor to maintain accuracy of treatment plans and recommendations. I still refuse to diagnose myself or anyone who has not signed consent forms to be my client. I will refer folks to a specialist based on their stated needs. Blessings.

            2. Ice and Indigo*

              No disrespect to your dad, but one reason he turns lives around is precisely that so many people reflexively reject a self-diagnosis, even if it’s one a doctor would confirm if you had the resources to see one. An official stamp helps a lot.

              But why are kids assessed in the first place? Because an amateur in their life thought there might be something developmental going on and got them to that point. Amateur assessment is where it always has to begin – and sometimes, that’s as far as the system allows you to go.

              I support several families with SEN kids, including going to diagnosis meetings, as well as having an SEN kid myself. Believe me, the self-diagnosis of a well-informed amateur is consistently the same as that of a professional.

          3. Quill*

            Harsh? No, not really. I don’t know what the Family Brainweird is but I’m sick of fighting with people online who want to be holier than thou about how Nothing Can Be Wrong With Your Experience Of The World Until A Doctor Says So.

            Half my problems are from people being shitty to me because they clocked that I was “weird” while the experts determined me “not weird enough” so forgive me if I’m ready to fight for people who are in the same position.

            People in the comments yelling against self diagnosis need, in all honesty, to sit down and realize that they’re projecting their anxieties (that people think their symptoms are a joke, that people will think that they’re lying if people without the official doctor’s note say they have their same disorder) and not helping themselves or OP.

            1. TimeCat*

              No one’s saying OP can’t use calming techniques or whatever. But self diagnosing in a work context (and especially self diagnosing and self medicating) is a horrible life choice that can cause professional and medical problems.

              People not trusting doctors gets people killed, like people who are trying to self medicate with malaria drugs right now.

              Don’t confuse google with a medical degree.

              1. Lalaroo*

                What do you think self-diagnosing is? You in particular keep bringing up children, which is totally irrelevant to the discussion of SELF-diagnosis and the OP’s letter.

                It seems like people are assuming self-diagnosis has huge consequences, but in actuality it’s “Oh, I think I have this condition, let me read up on it and find things that have been useful to other people with it, and maybe discuss it with my doctor and see what they think.” That’s not ruining anyone’s life. Medication can’t be accessed without a prescription (unless you go illegal, and nobody here has advocated that) so in order to overmedicate a doctor has to be involved, which is what you want. Seriously, what is the harm?

                1. Tau*

                  Agreed – my Asperger’s self-diagnosis was hugely helpful to me at the time, letting me reframe and conceptualise some of the difficulties I was having and also borrow existing toolkits from other autistic people who’d faced some of the same problems I had. I don’t even want to think about what would have happened to me if I’d had to navigate that without being allowed to think about myself as autistic if a doctor didn’t say so. Especially because there was no way I’d have been able to manage getting a DX at eighteen. I barely managed it five years later, with outside support.

      3. KoiFeeder*

        And I was diagnosed with ADHD by a specialist who turned out to be wrong (and sent me to an idiot who prescribed 40mg of adderall for a kid, but that’s a different bed of worms). I have the symptoms that overlap with autism, but none of the ADHD-specific stuff like RSD.

        I mean, yeah, OP absolutely should not acquire stimulant medication without a prescription, that stuff will mess you up even if you do have ADHD if you muck the dose up! But self-medication can also just mean constant caffeine consumption and a predilection towards adrenaline-producing activities, and if that help, that’s not gonna ruin OP’s day.

        1. Blue Anne*

          40mg of adderall for a kid?! Ouch. That’s horrid. I’m sorry you went through that.

          1. KoiFeeder*

            Yeah, “keep increasing the dose when it doesn’t work” is never a good idea, but why would you use that tactic with adderall?

            If it makes you feel better, he is no longer practicing- I think he actually lost his license after the lawsuit.

            1. Blue Anne*

              I’m really glad to hear that. I keep saying “40mg for a kid” to myself… nightmarish. I’m so sorry. I’m on 30mg as an adult and it’s a marvelous dose for me, but even then I sometimes skip it on the weekends to treat myself to a really great night’s sleep later. 40mg for a kid… ugh. Ugh.

      4. Ice and Indigo*

        By the nature of the work, physicians see the cases where someone was diagnosed wrongly: those are the kids under a medical eye. The many, many children whose symptoms are missed or misunderstood … are invisible from that viewpoint. They don’t get taken to the doctor. They’re the ‘naughty’ kids, the ‘clever but lazy’ kids, the ‘attitude problem’ kids, the ‘bad-tempered’ kids, the ‘weird’ kids. The ones who get blamed.

        It doesn’t mean they don’t exist. It means that it’ll take until adulthood before they’re able to research for themselves and think, ‘Hey, that would explain a LOT.’ And if they then get told, ‘Adults shouldn’t self-diagnose,’ they’re just getting punished for having been unlucky in childhood. It’s just adding cruelty onto misfortune.

        There’s a reason a lot of SEN families are a bit cynical about medical authority!

    8. MK*

      Whatever the OP’s condition is or isn’t, from a practical point of view the fact that she is self-diagnosing should change the advice from “it’s probably not a good idea to tell your boss” to “don’t tell your boss you have a condition you self-diagnosed”. If they ask for documentation or even ask more questions and it comes out you diagnosed yourself with the condition (when even doctors aren’t allowed to diagnose and treat themselves), you are going to look at best “quirky”, possibly a hypochondriac, and at worst a liar.

      1. TimeCat*

        I will say I have worked on multiple ADA accommodations for people I have supervised (including getting special equipment and other accommodations) and it would definitely not be a good look if it turned out a condition you were claiming (and wanted your boss to know about and take into account when assessing performance) was self diagnosed.

        1. Newly commenting*

          This is a really good point– if you’re asking for different treatment due to a medical condition (even if it’s more like sympathy or leniency than more measurable accommodations covered by ADA), then you need to show that you have that condition. You can’t do that with a self diagnosis.

          1. Wisteria*

            No. ADA applies to actual or perceived conditions. You are not required to provide, and your employer is prohibited from asking, any medical details. You are required to provide documentation that you need particular accommodations and what the accommodations are. For example, if you have a service dog, you would need to provide documentation that your service dog is required for your condition. You do not need to say why you need the dog or what the service dog does for you.

    9. Swampy*

      +1 This.

      It’s fine to suspect and try to get a diagnosis (which can take time), but definately don’t disclose until you have an official diagnosis. You might get to the psychologist and find out it is something totally different.

    10. PVR*

      OP did not provide details about why she has self diagnosed ADHD, only that coping strategies available at work are not in place at home and it is affecting her work… that is pretty vague and not a “giant stereotype” at all. It’s perfectly plausible that a person with ADHD might have to adjust coping strategies at home to be as productive as they are at work.

      1. Atlantian*

        Take the ADHD all the way out of it and just say, basically, working at home is different and I’m having trouble adjusting. Not so much coping strategies, but even adjusting from the work week to the weekend can sometimes be difficult for me. For example, for some reason, while I am at work all day, I regularly drink about 2 gallons of water without really trying. No idea why, it just happens. But, on Saturdays, I frequently get to about 4 or 5 o’clock in the afternoon and start to wonder why I’m feeling particularly crappy and I realize the last time I drank water was Friday afternoon, before I left work. So, I drink a big glass of water and wa-lah, I magically feel better. Home and work are different, and trying to work while at home is even more different still. And any conscious or unconscious coping mechanisms, whether they are for keeping you focused and productive, or just hydrated, will OF COURSE need to be adjusted when you all of a sudden have to work from home. ESPECIALLY if you never would have chosen that option for yourself.

    11. MCMonkeyBean*

      I disagree, the OP knows her situation better than we do and there are infinite resources available online. I only realized I had it back in November of last year. And I have since had my self-diagnosis confirmed by a therapist and a psychologist–but getting a diagnosis as an adult is difficult, expensive and time-consuming. For a lot of people a self-diagnosis is all they will ever be able to have. I think the self-diagnosis can help a lot with the way you look at your actions and how to create coping mechanisms (which is sounds like OP has already done at work).

      I do think though that a self-diagnosis is probably not enough to tell your boss about it.

    12. TechWorker*

      The OPs description was brief in the extreme (they feel less productive and are making some mistakes) so I’m not sure that translates to it being a ‘giant stereotype’.

    13. HoHumDrum*

      The LW didn’t actually describe any specifics of what is happening with them, so I don’t know how you can say that what they described isn’t ADHD or is stereotyping. If LW is jumping to conclusions, then so are you in dismissing them.

      My therapist diagnosed me with ADHD and everything I read about how ADHD most often manifests in adult women matches me, but I’ve never been officially diagnosed because the tests are expensive and my insurance has been spotty. I can see other commenters are pointing out similar stories. Obviously self-diagnosis is ver problematic, but saying “not diagnosed = not real” is equally problematic.

    14. Chatterby*

      As someone with ADHD whose productivity has also gotten flushed down the toilet due to working from home, I am going to suggest:
      1) install apps or software that block your phone, personal computer, and all of the fun websites during your work hours. I recommend Cold Turkey and Lock Me Out, since they allow you to make a schedule for the week of times to block you. If you have tv/video game problems, take the cords and put them out in your car. Tell yourself you’re too lazy to get them when you’re tempted to go get them.
      2) set a strict schedule, with very loud timers, for start, breaks, and end of work. Set a separate “make up” alarm time in the evening, in case you did wind up wandering off and getting distracted, and need to make up the time.
      3) exercise and try not to eat too much junk
      4) have a “it’s work time” cue, such as putting your hair up, or opening the curtains.
      5) acknowledge that even with all of this, you’re still not going to get as much done.

    15. AverageJane*

      As a fellow late-in-life diagnosed member of the community: there’s no where near enough detail or information in that post to say “It doesn’t sound anything like ADHD” (or even “That sounds textbook ADHD”)

      I mean, I am not maligning that you’re encouraging OP to try really hard to go get an actual diagnosis -that’s a good idea and means they’ll be more likely to get the support they need (medication, therapy, etc) they need to manage it – but I’m a little baffled that you’re so certain this is NOT ADHD when the only details provided were “I’m less productive because my usual coping mechanisms have failed me now that I’m WFH” (actually that makes me lean more to “Yeah, they probably meet some diagnostic criteria” because it’s common for people to struggle with this change to their routines, but most neuro-typical folks are only dealing with partial failure of their “productivity tools”, not a total collapse like OP described).

      And definitely want to echo another person who responded: there are TONS of medical professionals out in the wild who think ADHD is fake, or ADHD is not something adults can have.

      If OP is female, getting someone to take her seriously enough to test is going to be even harder (because women and girls often don’t have the “hyperactive” component which people seem to think is THE defining characteristic – leading to women/girls actually being chronically under-diagnosed) – compound that difficulty if they don’t have a living parent around to validate that their “checklist” behaviours have been occurring since childhood.

      That said, the advice given is good, because pretty much everyone is having *some* struggles while adjusting – even OPs boss, no doubt – so they should be able to get some slack cut while not getting into the details.

  4. Heidi*

    Re: LW3. If you’ve done well with your job for a long time before now, your boss might cut you some slack. It’s been a rough transition for a lot of people. If you must give a rationale, I’d describe your symptoms (difficulty with focus, for instance) as opposed to saying that you’ve diagnosed yourself with ADHD. I have no reason to suspect that it’s not the diagnosis, of course, but a lot of people will give you some side eye if you say you’ve diagnosed your own medical condition.

    1. NerdyKris*

      I agree, I’ve had multiple occasions now where I’ve forgotten that I’m working because Home = Not Work in my head, shored up by years of having to set boundaries with crappy jobs. So far I started cleaning the bathroom after using it, sat down on the couch for a minute and ended up taking a nap, browsed the internet well past what one should be doing when they’re busy, and forgot I was on a conference call and started playing with my cat. I don’t have ADHD, it’s just the result of the situation at hand.

      Managers should be aware by now that the number of distractions in most people’s home is going to result in a learning curve on how to avoid them, and may not be able to completely eliminate them.

    2. Generic Name*

      Agreed. A lot of people I work with are struggling, including myself. I just had a long talk with my boss about it yesterday. We started talking about a coworker who has a grade schooler and a baby who is normally a top performer, and she just can’t do it all. I have a 13 year old who technically can handle his schoolwork independently, but he has been needing more comfort and attention lately, and my boss doesn’t even have kids and she’s struggling with productivity. We are in an ongoing crisis with no end in sight and it’s normal and understandable to not be at the top of our games.

    3. She's One Crazy Diamond*

      I have ADHD and normally I am more productive working from home, but I also don’t usually have my husband also here working from home with me. I’m so thankful I don’t have kids right now because this is hard enough as it is. I’ve barely been getting anything done and I’m normally a high performer.

  5. Princess Deviant*

    Re #3.
    Do you think the same is true for autism?
    I have a diagnosis and have told HR and also asked them to keep it from my boss for now which they have agreed to do. I rang HR because working from home has really affected my routine, which I normally need to be ‘just so’.

    I’ve been wondering whether to tell my boss and the peers on my team?

    1. MommaCat*

      I think Heidi’s advice above would hold true for your case, as well. You can describe your symptoms rather than getting into the diagnosis. “My routine has been thrown way off, and I’m having trouble regaining my equilibrium,” or something along those lines. Most people are dealing with the same thing, though maybe to a lesser extent.

      1. Fikly*

        Exactly this. The best way to avoid stigma is to describe the problem without mentioning a diagnosis.

        Plenty of people are being thrown right now because they’ve lost their usual routine. The vast majority of them are not on the spectrum. No one is going to leap to that as what is behind the issues you are having.

        1. Vicky Austin*

          I was told the exact opposite. I was told that if you tell your supervisor, “I have trouble paying attention, so I’m going to need accomodations,” they’re likely to say something like, “We all have trouble paying attention sometimes. Just try harder to concentrate.” However, if you say, “I have ADHD and so I’m going to need accommodations,” that lets your supervisor know that you have a legitimate medical condition that makes you eligible for accommodations under the Americans With Disabilities Act.
          However, the ADA only allows accommodations if you have an official diagnosis from your doctor.

          1. Wisteria*

            No. That is not true. The ADA requires you to provide documentation that you need certain accommodations. You are not required to say what your condition is or provide a diagnosis. The ADA will cover accommodations for real or perceived disabilities. For example, a person might use a wheelchair. The perception is that they have a disability. The person using the wheelchair would provide documentation that they need a lowered desk height. They do not need to provide a diagnosis of paraplegia.

            1. Sue Wilson*

              No this is inaccurate. The ADA law requires that the disability or impairment be recorded by someone qualified to do so for accommodations at work.

      2. EH*

        Yep. I have chronic health issues and don’t like to tell people anything beyond the basic symptoms, and even then I like to keep it to when they have an impact. I use “under the weather” a lot when saying I have to take a sick day.

    2. Sally*

      I think you could use Alison’s suggestions for the OP. A lot of people, with and without diagnoses, are struggling to work from home, so a manager shouldn’t be surprised to hear that. I may be overly cautious, but I figure you can always give your boss more detailed information later if you choose to, but you can’t un-say anything you tell them now.

    3. Tau*

      Honestly, I’m sorry to say, I would expect the stigma to be worse for autism. I would generally avoid disclosing to your job if you can possibly avoid it. You can try just describing the symptoms, like MommaCat said, but tbh the current situation is weird enough that I’m not sure you even need to go as far as “my routine has been thrown off” – a lot of people have been suddenly sent into WFH who don’t like it and are struggling, so something as simple as “I’ve been discovering WFH isn’t really for me” might be enough.

      In general, it’s worth keeping in mind that for disability things like this the best-case scenario is that you get what you need from your company without disclosing. That’s both because of stigma, but also because ideally, your boss should be receptive to “I am currently having X difficulties, how can we work around that?” without needing a diagnosis to be attached! I know it’s tempting to explain properly – also autistic and you have no idea how many times I’ve had to bite my tongue here because it does put a lot of things I struggle with in context – but bringing up a disability brings in the looming specter of HR and disability accommodation laws and lawsuits for many people. The office environment will probably be more comfortable if you don’t, and if you find you *have* to in order to get what you need that’s already a concerning sign.

    4. Beth*

      I think the same is true for most or all mental health related things, as unfortunate as that is. Disclosing to HR when you need official accommodations is one thing; that’s a self-protecting action in response to an active need, and also comes with some degree of protection from retaliation. But I don’t think it’s pretty much ever worth disclosing a specific diagnosis to a manager or coworker. There’s too much potential for stigma (some people won’t care at all, others will make immediate assumptions, a lot will not care upfront but may have it niggle in the back of their minds in ways that aren’t obvious even to themselves) and too little to gain from it.

    5. Swampy*

      I think there is more stigma around autism than ADHD, so I think you have done the right thing if you are concerned about stigma.

    6. LGC*

      Hi, fellow autistic person!

      So, it really depends on how you feel about it. Do you feel ready to let your boss and peers know? I’m guessing there is a reason you haven’t disclosed until now. I don’t know you or your boss or your peers, so I don’t feel comfortable telling you what the right decision for you is. (I err on the side of caution, personally.)

      More important is what do you need? Or rather, what can they reasonably do that will help you make the most of this? For pretty obvious reasons, maintaining your normal routine is a non-starter. But you’ve already taken the first step with HR, so you can now discuss ways to make things a bit more workable until you get back to a regular routine.

    7. WhatDayIsIt*

      My two-cents as an autistic person who has disclosed at work:

      I brought it into the conversation because I was having some challenges and wanted to be open with my boss. We also work with students with health concerns so I felt she would handle it better than others might. I was diagnosed as a child, so there was no issue of a ‘self-diagnosis stigma.’ I am also open with her about my anxiety disorder and that I now go to a therapist (would have to anyway, I flex work time for the appointments).

      However, I was a bit unprepared that telling my boss meant that all of leadership in my unit was told (3 people) and HR had to be brought in — I should have looked into it and realized that the disclosure would cause a paperwork/HR thing. So be aware of that!

      I would definitely wait until you have an established relationship – I waited past my 6 mo probation to share, and it ended up being a positive for me. We don’t talk about the diagnosis, but my boss has the background knowledge to understand me when I request no sudden changes to my schedule unless necessary and that on rare occasions I need to work in private because the open office setting is overwhelming.

      This is all super dependent on your relationship with your boss and your office culture. I work at a university in an office that is HUGE on diversity and thus it would be highly hypocritical if they didn’t at least try to be accommodating. HOWEVER. I have never disclosed to my coworkers and do not plan to do so. There is a business need in my mind to share with my boss, but coworkers don’t need to know and have made judgmental comments without realizing the implications about autistic people in front of me. I will advocate for autistic people openly but I will not share this information.

    8. Tinker*

      From my experience, I wouldn’t necessarily say “no, never”, but I would advise caution.

      When I got my diagnosis, I disclosed it in social contexts as well as sometimes to my managers in the context of a broader discussion of how I’d been put in a position that was not a good fit, and it didn’t make sense to assume I couldn’t do work that I am logically qualified for and have done before by observing that I am not very good at other work that plays against my strengths.

      My intent there was to convey the point that I have a disability that affects specific things disproportionately and strategizing to avoid those things has historically worked very well for me. However, my managers did not have the same understanding of the disability/neurodiversity model as I do now — in retrospect, I really should have anticipated this — and what they seemed to come away with was something a bit closer to “Yes, I’m just kinda bad at life but I have an official ticket for why that isn’t my fault.”

      Had I to do it again, I probably would still have had the person-to-person casual conversations, but I would not have brought it into the dialogue with my managers unless I had a very specific and outside-the-norm need from them (such as needing an exception to the dress code or to expectations regarding headphones) that I was framing in disability accommodation terms.

    9. Princess Deviant*

      Hi everyone and thank you so much for the very thoughtful comments.

      I think, given the opinions from both NT and ND people here, I will take the general consensus of erring on the side of caution and not mentioning it to my boss until reasonable accommodations are needed in the office, which is not right now. I’ll keep my colleagues out of it too.

      I have spoken to HR because I’ve needed support at this time, and they were brilliant. I work with disabled people and so they’re really hot on supporting diversity within the workforce, so I felt secure in HR (and also in my boss to be fair, although I think she won’t understand as such, she’ll just do her best to support).

      I think it’s been really helpful to frame it in terms of “what do I need?” so that’s something to bear in mind for future interactions.

      Thanks again all, and have a great weekend.

      1. Quickbeam*

        I’d definitely recommend spending the time and resources on a formal diagnosis. My husband and I are in our 60s and so his educational experience preceded help or diagnosis with spectrum issues. They just pushed him through.

        In our 40s we went to a regional medical center and he got testing and a diagnosis. He was in a long term job where they knew and loved him. So we put it in the file cabinet. In his mid 50’s his entire work group was eliminated completely. After 25 years in a job, he had to transfer and start with a whole new work group and task flow. Issues arose and were were able to get accommodations for him *based upon the diagnostic work up from years before*.

        It all worked out….but would have been a disaster without a formal diagnosis.

  6. Thinking Out Loud*

    LW 5: You can add that, but i think the fact that you regularly output mower than your peers is at least as compelling as your one (admittedly) amazing month, personally. I’d say something like “regularly produced 150% of average team teapot output,” and then I would add the recommended coronavirus statement above.

    1. LF*

      I wonder if it’s better actually for LW 5 to not specifically highlight his/her coronavirus period output – consistently outproducing colleagues is already impressive, and I wonder if people might think that maybe LW outproduced during this period more so because others were unable to be as productive as usual due to needing to care for kids at home, needing to care for sick relatives, financial stress, etc., rather than because LW is exceptionally hard-working and talented? Not saying that is actually the case, but I feel like that’s a potential takeaway.

      1. Avasarala*

        Yes, that is what I would conclude. OP did more because everyone else was sick or out. Still great of OP to step up, but that doesn’t necessarily indicate that OP was so great in a normal month. I would def pair these “I’m great in a pinch” numbers with “I’m always great” stats as well.

      2. Joielle*

        Yeah, I actually think it might be better to stick to the usual production numbers for the resume, which are really impressive! Then in the cover letter I might highlight the fact that during the coronavirus crisis, I stepped up and worked long hours to increase production of a high-demand product and cover for coworkers who had other responsibilities – more to highlight “I’m a team player” rather than “Look at my numbers.” I feel like the actual numbers in the high-output month don’t matter so much as the willingness to pitch in during a crisis.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      the line I have on my resume is “regularly chosen for special projects due to high productivity scores (consistently 200%+ of established standard)”.

    3. MCMonkeyBean*

      I agree! Especially if you are at all concerned they might respond with wanting you to put out 82 teapots every month.

      In fact, a percentage is probably better than specific numbers anyway because the specific numbers may be fairly meaningless to other people if they either aren’t familiar with the specifics of what you do, or if they do something similar but with different equipment or systems so they have a very different monthly average or something.

    4. drpuma*

      I wonder if LW5 knows or has ever calculated what the team average would be *without* their contributions. I would be curious to see what the “team mean” is. I’m picturing like a 5-10 person team, but if LW5’s output is truly that much higher there’s no way their performance isn’t also skewing the overall team results. I sure hope their team (and management) appreciates them and shows it appropriately!

      1. Spencer Hastings*

        Yeah. Assuming that the LW’s numbers actually represent something else (like IT help tickets, for instance) rather than just being made up, she’s producing about twice the amount that you would get by averaging everyone else without her:

        Let’s say she has 5 teammates. Then (5x+35)/6 = 20, and x = 17.

        As the number of teammates increases, their average without including LW increases, but not by much: if she has 10 teammates, (10x+35)/11 = 20, and x = 18.5.

  7. Dutch Oven*

    OP2 – It sounds as if the “senior colleague” isn’t really senior to you, at least to the extent they are not in the same chain of command. If so, then you shouldn’t hesitate to push back. I would be VERY blunt and not hesitate to say something like, “Go f___ yourself.”

    1. JessB*

      That would go down extremely poorly in a lot of offices and could either tarnish the OP’s reputation at that company for the rest of their time there, or even result in their instant dismissal at some organisations.
      Surely there’s a middle ground between doing nothing, and following your advice. It might even look a lot like Alison’s advice…

      1. Dutch Oven*

        The senior colleague has already opened the door to this kind of thing by the way they’ve repeatedly treated OP with disdain and disrespect. With people like that, sometimes you have to be aggressive and blunt. It’s the only thing they understand.

        1. MK*

          That’s the same crap wisdom that says if you stand up to bullies they back down. It’s usually not true, but it conjures up a satisfying picture of you calling out bad behaviour and the other person just hangs their head in shame.

          Maybe agression is all these people understand. It certainly doesn’t follow that faced with agression they will go away with their tail between their legs, they are more likely to double down. Especially since they are senior amd have more power.

        2. SheLooksFamiliar*

          Things I heard and saw on playgrounds when I was a kid:
          ‘Oh, yeah? Who asked you?’ (throws punch)
          ‘Fight fire with fire!’
          ‘Eff you!’ ‘No, eff YOU!’
          ‘She started it!’ (shoves She Who Started It)
          “You’re not the boss of me!’

          And so on. Maybe the Law of the Playground says all this is okay, but adults can find better ways to respond and/or get their point across.

    2. Princess Deviant*

      My ability to gauge how to respond appropriately to stuff like this, and boundaries, can be way off, but even I know that this is terrible advice!

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      What? No, you don’t do that at work, to anyone at any level.

      And the colleague is a peer of the OP’s boss, so at least one level up.

      1. Dutch Oven*

        The senior colleague may be at a higher level, but it sounds as if OP doesn’t report to them, even indirectly. That is, I think, the whole problem here – the senior colleague is sticking their nose where it doesn’t belong.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          People can be senior to you even if you’re not in their chain of command. A CFO is senior to an assistant in Marketing.

          And yes, they’re sticking their nose where it doesn’t belong, but you don’t tell people at work to go fuck themselves, particularly as your opening move.

          1. TimeTravlR*

            I did once tell my boss to go f… himself and did not get fired. I did, however, later get fired for saying “fine!” (Yes, lots of attitude behind that “fine!” and yes, I have grown up since then and won’t even type f… let alone say it, particularly to my boss!)

            1. Catosaur*

              I also once told my entire office to go eff themselves and walked out. This was after a day of sexist “clean the kitchen” jokes when I was the only woman in the office.

              Not only did I not get fired, that boss eventually started a new company and I’m one of the first people he hired. (He called to apologize for the rest of the guys that day and no one ever crossed that line again.)

          2. PB*

            Yep. The chain of command is really secondary here. If you tell anyone in your office to “go fuck themselves,” you can be fired.

        2. BuildMeUp*

          The OP may not report to them, but if the senior colleague is at a higher level, 99% of the time that means they have more power than the OP. The OP also says the colleague is “vital” to the company’s operations. Challenging this person outright doesn’t sound like a good idea.

          If you’re cool with telling someone at work to f off, that’s cool for you, but it’s just not actionable advice for most people who want to keep their jobs.

        3. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

          That’s irrelevant. The colleague may be an asshole, but there’s a level of respect that needs to be maintained when dealing with a colleague on a higher level than you. Yes it needs to be handled, but in a civil and professional way.

          1. Database Developer Dude*

            Civil and professional yes, agreed, but there has to be a line somewhere, otherwise you invite abuse of the kind OP is receiving, just because someone’s above you in the hierarchy.

            Being above someone in the hierarchy is NO excuse to treat the person with disdain and disrespect as a person. You’re not better than them because you’re above them in the hierarchy. Not even in the military is that allowed.

        4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          I work in a blue color industry that swears regularly…

          And if ANYONE says to ANYONE else to “go fuck themselves”, they’re getting in extreme trouble. We don’t allow aggressive behavior and that’s aggressive AF. Let alone saying it to someone who’s in a higher position than yours.

    4. MK*

      That’s really not hierarchy works. Just because someone isn’t in your chain of command does not mean they are not senior to you (!) and that you can be rude or even blunt to them without consequences.

      1. Lance*

        This. Them being outside OP’s direct chain of command does not free OP from consequence, both for treating colleagues with respect in general (never tell someone to ‘go f___ themselves’ in the workplace if you don’t want to get fired, barring extremely unusual circumstances that it’s not worth getting into), and for them just generally having more influence in the company than OP does.

        1. Mike*

          Extenuating circumstance: You are an actor and “Go f___ yourself” is a line in your script :)

      2. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

        And really, even if this was the janitor butting their nose in, you shouldn’t just curse them out.

    5. Rita K*

      And then, anywhere I’ve ever worked, you’re be fired. On the spot.

      This is dreadful advice. OP, ignore this self-aggrandising nonsense and listen to reasonable people elsewhere in the thread.

    6. Anonymous to stay anonymous*

      I had a nesting fail. Short retype version, I got put on a PIP for saying ” F me” to MYSELF in my cube and being overheard. So Dutch oven’s living dangerously.

      1. Mike*

        What was the story here? I’m pretty sure you weren’t going to file a complaint against yourself.

    7. OP #2*

      Senior Colleague is vital to the org and a terrific ass-kisser to Boss. I did not follow your advice, but when my position was cut due to budgetary reasons, I did not look back.

    8. Database Developer Dude*

      Saying “Go f___ yourself” is an absolute last resort, when nothing else works, and you must walk away after you say it.

      First resorts can be sharply worded, but profanity cannot be used as punctuation. It loses its effectiveness in conveying the message.

      1. biobotb*

        It’s only a resort if you want to get fired, and in that case, you might as well just quit.

    9. kittymommy*

      Um, yeah, no. This is very bad advice. One can be senior in an organization without having any supervisory duties over the other person. My direct boss is the highest ranking person in the organization, but there are lots of people senior to me. Sure I don’t answer to them and if they ask me for help it has to be in line with what my boss would do (and I can refuse), but if I told any of them to go f*** themselves I’d be fired on the spot. And quite frankly, if someone tells anyone in their office to go f*** themselves, boss/superior or not, the office should seriously consider firing that person. That’s not how adults should handle work relationships (some caveats to this of course).

    10. Richard Hershberger*

      This is, as the others have pointed out, terrible advice. Serious suggestion: Go with a silent blank stare, followed by a bemused “Huh!” then walk away. It gets the idea across without giving anyone an excuse to fire you. And even if it doesn’t get the idea across, it doesn’t give the jerk any real satisfaction.

      1. Auntie Social*

        “Really. Bob *encourages* questions. He has never told me not to ask. He’s a great boss that way, there are no misunderstandings. Do you do something different with your team?”

    11. Quill*

      I think, unfortunately, that telling senior colleague to duck themself is a one way ticket out.

      However, telling them directly but without agressive tone or language that they should mind their own beeswax is less likely to get your stuff thrown out the front door in a box.

    12. I'm just here for the cats*

      That is not a good idea. And just because the senior doesn’t report to the boss that doesn’t mean they are not to be respected. For example, anpast job there were 3 main teams. Each team has 2-5 senior members and then the others. Above the seniors was 1 manager (so like 4 managers) and then the department head. A senior on another team would have a different manager than I did but that doesn’t mean that I could treat them badly to even if the are rude and butting in. It doesn’t matter if they are in the same command or not, you can’t say at work to go eff yourself, or anything similar.

      I think the real problem is that OP’s boss is not shutting this down in the moment. Maybe they are new to the roll and has not come across this situation before. Maybe there are other politics that are going on that is stopping the boss. Like maybe because this person is under another boss there has been backlash when she disciplines an employee under someone else.

      1. Paulina*

        OP’s boss may be having difficulty shutting it down because the comments aren’t just insulting to the OP, they’re insulting to the boss (interfering in their management of the OP and implying that the boss can’t handle things themselves).

  8. Random IT person*

    @ op1 (and others):
    “This is a truly high stress, very physically and emotionally demanding job, and we’re given 40 hours of PTO a year, which is combined sick and vacation.”

    40 HOURS? 40 HOURS?
    I know these days the world is in a rollercoaster – but really – if you can – get out.
    How can ANYONE do a draining job – and not get enough ‘downtime’ to re energize..

    You cannot keep this up long i`m afraid.

    1. Nobby Nobbs*

      People are working sick in order to protect their single week of vacation, I guarantee it. Not that I blame them! I’d do the same if I was in that position and couldn’t quit. Or maybe they’ve developed a martyrdom culture, we’ve seen that around here before.

        1. Quill*

          I formally apologize to my coworkers for all the colds I’ve brought in over the years I’ve worked as a contractor, but I REALLY cannot avoid it with no sick days a year and all days business is closed unpaid.

          1. LeahS*

            Yes, this is our setup too. Technically it’s only 5 days vacation and 0 sick. It’s a setup that’s just asking people to spread germs around.

    2. RC Rascal*

      In my very first job I worked for a company with this policy. It was a very large company you have definitely heard of. But there was a catch:

      It only applied to the lowest level workers. (They had every one divided into 4 Levels; with Level 1 being the lowest and Level 4 being senior executive office). PTO and designated sick time increased with Level. Level 4s got lots of sick time, Level 1s got 5 days PTO total including sick time. Basically, the senior folks were allowed to get sick AND go on vacation, while the peons were allowed to neither get sick nor go on vacation.

      I quit after 90 days.

  9. Shhhh*

    LW 2 – I was half convinced you are the person who was hired into my old position until the detail that the senior colleague isn’t in your chain of command. I don’t have any advice beyond what Alison said, but I feel for you.

    1. OP #2*

      It’s horrible to be the new person AND expected to walk on egg shells. In my situation, it just revealed how deeply insecure Senior Colleague was. SC was weirdly possessive of Boss’ attention. Well beyond my pay grade to fix SC’s personality problems.

      1. Them Boots*

        Yeah, your situation really stinks. Try Alison’s suggestions/phrases that make sense for you, then, if all else fails you might try this (because 1) you’ve already tried standing up for yourself as well as redirecting and 2) as you’ve stated, sc has issues you can’t resolve): if the weird & nasty comments continue, make eye contact with SC, total blank face for the length of time it takes to *mentally* say “dude, you are a mess” then go on with your own stuff like SC hadn’t spoken. I’ve had pretty fair success with this in similar situations. The eye contact plus lack of reaction seem to freak them out and makes it uncomfortable for them while getting no joy (your stress) from the digs. Good luck!

        1. Just J.*

          Yes, this is good advice from Them Boots. Follow this sequence exactly. I’ve used it with success and I have advised others to use it. Then ignore, ignore, ignore you obnoxious coworker. He uses his negativity to give himself a power trip. Take that power away by ignoring him.

          And OP, you are right, that fixing this situation must come from above. That’s why I encourage you to keep your boss in the loop on SC’s obnoxiousness. It may finally register with your senior management that SC’s actions are hurting morale and therefore impacting productivity.

    2. Confused*

      I’m not convinced LW 2 isn’t in my old workplace…the “senior” colleague wasn’t in my chain of command, only became “senior” a month after I started because he felt some kind of way about having me work as his equal. Constantly was rude to me and talked down/condescended to me in front of my colleagues during meetings I myself was facilitating. I am SO HAPPY I quit. Does his name rhyme with Schmichael and do you work for the government?

  10. 'Tis Me*

    LW2 – I hope this senior colleague doesn’t have any direct reports of their own – what an unpleasant, discouraging attitude!!

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’m wondering if OP’s manager used to work for the commenting senior colleague, that would explain why they don’t shut it down.

      1. Confused*

        I SWEAR you are working with my coworker! No direct reports but REALLY felt some kind of way being equals with a 30 year old woman (he was mid-fifties) when his peer group were actually directors. Definitely took it out on me and acted like my boss. I asked during my interview who I reported to and what my title was and it was the same title as him, reporting to the same director. My JD reflected that as well. OP, if your coworker is anything like mine, they are just an insecure loser seeing their peers succeed while they don’t and just need to make themself feel better/more important by condescending to you. If your boss doesn’t step in (I had three bosses during my time with this guy and only one told him he was crossing the line) then quit. Their actions are not about you, they are just insecure and probably jealous.

  11. Peter*

    I can’t imagine only having one week off period – and imagine you get seriously ill for a few days – there goes all your time off for the year.

    Seriously guys, in Europe we have five weeks PTO + pretty much unlimited sick time. And companies are doing fine. The average productivity per employee is fine. The economy does fine. And people’s living standards are fine. Take a hint.

    1. TimeCat*

      Agreed. Burned out people aren’t productive. A high stress physically demanding job with a week of combined leave is a sick joke (and yes, I realize lots of people in the US have no leave at all and that’s a sick joke too).

    2. Tiny Soprano*

      Yeah last. time I worked corporate I got 2 weeks sick leave. Which got blown on glandular fever. Then I needed two weeks for another serious illness. One week TOTAL a year is bonkers.

    3. Nobby Nobbs*

      Yep, exploitation is definitely the workers’ fault because we can’t take a hint. You are a very insightful European. Thank you!

      1. Lance*

        That’s not at all what they mean; the ‘take a hint’ was toward the employers, not the workers.

        1. Nobby Nobbs*

          Sorry, I was definitely being disingenuous to Peter there. But this pattern of an Enlightened European popping into the comments section every time PTO or health care comes up to explain to the Ignorant Americans how shocked! and appalled! at how exploited we are as if they’re the first person to ever inform us of this fact is getting a little tiresome.

          1. Health Insurance Nerd*

            This, 100%. We get it, our healthcare system stinks, our paid time off policies stink, etc… unfortunately picking up and relocating out of the country just isn’t a realistic option for most people!

            1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

              No, but our options are:
              1. Advocating for the policy changes we want to see through either assisting or donating to organizations working on these issues
              2. Boycotting companies that don’t provide the benefits you support
              3. Voting for people that put the policies you support front and center
              4. Where possible, pushing for change in your own organization

            2. pancakes*

              If you truly don’t think there are any ways to improve US labor standards and work culture short of every badly-treated worker moving to another country, why not sit the conversation out and see what people who are more thoughtful and less simplistic have to say? This should be a cue for you to learn about the history of unions, for starters, rather than to interject that you know so little about the subject as to have only wildly impractical and unconsidered ideas about it.

          2. Confused*

            ^ This. Do educated Americans with any sense of politeness and common sense go around commenting on other countries’ faults to their citizens’ face every time they get an opportunity??

            Like, we get it. You’re better. Sorry we can’t disentangle our post-capitalist system to get to your level. It’s super nice and helpful to constantly rub it in our faces how much better your country is. You know Americans don’t have these things so I don’t see why it’s helpful to constantly point it out to us. What exactly is OP supposed to do with the information that you have five weeks of vacation? I also have more vacation that they do but how the f*ck would that help them?

            Look, I know Europeans hate our government and political system, which is fair, but most of us are just normal people trying to make it and disentangling a system that has been expertly designed to be as complicated as it is over decades isn’t something that just happens. You had several hundred years’ head start. Hopefully we’ll figure out by that point.

            And you and I both know that you aren’t the first person to tell OP how much better workers have it in Europe. So what was the purpose of this comment?

            *insert Cardi B “WHAT WAS THE REASON??!!” gif*

            1. pancakes*

              This is a wildly disproportionate and maudlin response to that comment. Way over the top. Simply pointing out that U.S. employment standards are much less worker-friendly than in otherwise comparable countries isn’t an expression of hatred.

              1. Femme Cassidy*

                Eh, maybe the part about hating the US govt is a bit much, but I really resonate with the overall mood of the comment, personally. Having seen this kind of comment show up in AaM countless times, and in my own life having Canadians and Europeans informing me about how their systems work as if I didn’t know – including the same person doing so multiple times – got to be extremely grating. It started feeling less like “I want to help you know there’s a better way to do this” and more like gloating and condescension.

              2. James*

                You’re looking at individual instances. Confused is looking at trends.

                Think of it this way: If a man commented that a woman looked a little rough today, it probably doesn’t rise to the level of being actionable. It may be annoying, bu it’s a minor annoyance and can be brushed off or ignored. If a large number of men in the office comment on how a woman looks every day, often in detail, along with what the woman should do to look better by their (the men’s) standards? That’s a hostile workplace. And the excuse “But my specific comment wasn’t hostile, I just gave her some makeup tips!” would merely demonstrate how tone-deaf and out of touch with social norms and basic communication skills the person making that excuse is.

                Every time PTO comes up we Americans get to hear about how crappy our system is. Every time we get to sit through a few score comments about how much better Europe is. Individual comments may not be hostile (though many do come off that way), but in aggregate they certainly are. It’s tiresome, it’s boorish, it’s pointless, and it would be considered wildly inappropriate in any other context.

              3. pancakes*

                Femme, take a step back and look at what you’re saying: That the comment resonates with you because it reminds you of other occasions you’ve felt condescended to. Those are very real feelings and I’m not asking you to pretend not to have them. I’m asking you to consider whether or how you’re ever going to be able to have a policy-focused rather than emotions-focused conversation on labor standards with this mindset. If you happen to know one, two, three, or a dozen Canadians and Europeans who make you feel bad, is it fair for *that* to hold back the rest of us from advocating for higher standards in the US? It doesn’t seem at all fair to me. It seems very small-minded and senseless.

              4. Nobby Nobbs*

                Pancakes, you do realize that “advocating for higher standards in the US” means unionizing and pushing for better legislation, not making condescending comments in an advice column comments section, right?

              5. pancakes*

                James, that’s not a good analogy. “You’re looking rough today” and “the labor standards of the US are way out of whack with other wealthy countries” are not comparable. Do you see why? One is extremely personal and the other isn’t about you. Even if you hear it half a dozen times in a single day it’s not about you. It’s a huge mistake to try to make it about you.

              6. pancakes*

                Nobby, I don’t think the comment was condescending, and I think the comments section of a popular work-related blog is as good a place as any to advocate for better labor practices.

              7. Confused*

                What was the purpose of the original comment? What was the need to point that out? Are we just assuming LW 1 is so stupid that they have no idea that Europe has better worker protections? How on Earth is pointing out how much better Europe has it helpful in any way? Is OP supposed to put a gun to their senator’s head until they pass federal legislation for more paid leave?

                That comment was completely needless and not helpful in any way whatsoever. It is not new information that Europe has better worker protections. Even if it was, it’s still not helpful. Can OP just move to Europe and reap these benefits? Probably not.

            2. The Other Dawn*

              Thank you. I really wish these comments about how our country sucks, our healthcare sucks, our benefits suck, etc. would be shut down. I’m so damn tired of seeing these comments on here.

              1. James*

                Agreed! Such comments add nothing, get us nowhere, and drag down the tone of the comments overall.

              2. M*

                Totally agree, it does nothing to help the letter writer and the comment is condescending and pointless.

            3. Blueberry*

              Do educated Americans with any sense of politeness and common sense go around commenting on other countries’ faults to their citizens’ face every time they get an opportunity??

              Actually, yes, I see that online a lot. Along with Americans insisting we have the best country in the world, which I think it’s kind of obvious we don’t on many metrics.

              I think this is a bit fragile, for Americans to live in and speak from the perspective of such a culturally and politically dominant country and then wail when someone criticizes it.

              1. Confused*

                Do Americans do that? Of course. There’s a lot of us and we have a higher number of idiots due to sheer population size. Do educated, polite Americans do that? No, they don’t. They’re usually constantly apologizing for healthcare and gun rights and maternity leave and a whole other host of shitty issues, which are, yes, shitty, but we are in a system that makes it as difficult as possible to fix these things. Personally I don’t know anyone who would go to a Chinese person and be like, “hey, your internet censorship sucks, you guys should really do something about that? Why is it like that? Why do you put up with it?” Because that would be rude and most educated people realize that the Chinese political system would make it difficult for citizens to change that.

                1. Blueberry*

                  Personally I don’t know anyone who would go to a Chinese person and be like, “hey, your internet censorship sucks, you guys should really do something about that? Why is it like that? Why do you put up with it?”

                  Heh, this is topical. One of my hobbies is fanfic writing, and one of our recent newsworthy events was that the Chinese government banned a major fanfic archive from its Internet. If I had a dollar for every comment I saw along the lines of your example comment, often citing the US Internet as ‘uncensored’, I could probably buy a new computer.

            4. Daisy*

              ‘Do educated Americans with any sense of politeness and common sense go around commenting on other countries’ faults to their citizens’ face every time they get an opportunity??’

              This is such a ridiculous comment I laughed out loud. Yes, Americans do this constantly. They’re famous for it. Seriously, how oblivious can you be?

              1. Confused*

                I said “educated Americans with a sense of politeness and common decency.”

                Yes, I’m well aware that not all 330 million Americans fit this category. Most normal polite Americans (which again, IS NOT ALL OF THEM) don’t write shitty condescending comments about other countries under the painfully transparent guise of being well meaning.

                Saying “oh dear me, I could NEVER live in YOUR COUNTRY” is rude. Yes I’m sure hundreds of millions of Americans are rude. Does that make the original comment okay?

          3. RussianInTexas*

            This. I used to work for a company with fabulous benefits for 14 years, and I did not leave it voluntarily.
            After the 9 months unemployment stint, boycotting and advocating was seriously not my primary concern.

          4. Erika*

            My spouse interviewed with some European companies last year in the hopes of getting all those great benefits. He was actually told by his dream company that they would have loved to hire him, but he’s an American and Americans are workaholics who don’t care about work/life balance. And a better work/life balance was exactly the reason why he was looking in Europe!

        2. Massmatt*

          No, it wasn’t, it was a condescending reply to a comment on a post by an employee who has terrible benefits. The employer offering terrible benefits did not write in.

          It’s Sadly predictable and tiresome to have Europeans chime in about their great benefits when someone with terrible ones asks for advice. It does nothing to help the advice seekers and to the contrary, undoubtedly makes them feel worse.

          Would it help if someone wrote about a terrible famine in their country and I chimed in with “There’s PLENTY of food here in the US! Take a hint”?

          1. Blueberry*

            Would it help if someone wrote about a terrible famine in their country and I chimed in with “There’s PLENTY of food here in the US! Take a hint”?

            I’ve heard/seen people say pretty much that in both online and in-person discussions, actually.

            1. Confused*

              Sorry you come across a lot of idiots online, there’s a ton of them and yeah a lot of them are Americans. I don’t think that makes the original comment okay. Are we all just supposed to shit on each other’s countries?

    4. Miso*

      I’ve once been out for almost three weeks with what basically were just very bad colds. Well, two in a row.
      I can’t imagine if that was all the time I got off that year. Oh, and probably two weeks of it unpaid…? Seriously, I think if I had to work in the US, I’d probably get burn out after a year, max.

    5. SweetestCin*

      What I’ve witnessed (spouse of a small business owner here – can I just add that small businesses are sometimes getting absolutely horrific advice from advisors who should freaking know better?!?) is that it will have to be a wholescale, everyone “jumps on board on Monday” type of deal. Probably needing legislation. Definitely requiring absolute zero exceptions. Otherwise, you’re going to have holdouts who still refuse, and they’ll manage to undercut the market price on whatever service it is because they will refuse.

      My spouse would absolutely love to offer X, Y, and Z benefits. But they’re not standard benefits around here. The market price for his service does not support offering X, Y, and Z benefits. Could they help in hiring? Absolutely, but when customers refuse to pay a premium to support his offering “premium benefits”? There won’t be hiring, because there won’t be business.

      1. Penny Parker*

        I am sorry but this response reminds me of people who go to restaurants and do not tip because “they can’t afford it”. If you cannot afford to treat employees reasonably, and have reasonable benefits, then you have no right to be owning a business with employees! Do it yourself or pay a reasonable rate. Otherwise, you are indeed exploiters of other people’s labor and time.

        1. Fikly*

          +1000, but without the apology.

          If you can’t afford to be in business, you shouldn’t be in business. Having a business is not a right.

          1. Colette*

            This kind of attitude is why things aren’t improving in the US.

            Most small business owners aren’t making fortunes. They have businesses where paying 5% more for employee salaries and benefits than their competitors means the business goes under (putting those employees out of work.) Expecting businesses to pay more than the market rate is just not going to do it. You need to raise the market rate (through legislation).

            But freedom!


            1. Name Required*

              Yes, agreed. “Don’t have a small business if you can’t afford to pay for premium* benefits.” … and then the same people will turn around and ask, “Why is Amazon taking over everything?!”

              *Premium in the current market

            2. Blueberry*

              This kind of attitude is why things aren’t improving in the US.

              Because people want livable pay and benefits is why things aren’t improving in the US? That’s a …. take.

              1. Quill*

                At some point we’re going to have to drop the disingenuous national argument about “what can small businesses afford?” and realize that the problem lies in governmental policies that allow large corporations to pay next to no taxes and lawmakers to spend years busting unions and workers’ rights laws.

              2. Massmatt*

                People want low prices and convenience, and most are not willing to pay premiums for businesses that offer better wages and benefits to their employees. Thus the rise of Wal Mart and Amazon.

                Many consumers bemoan low wages yet vote with their dollars for… low wages. Then wonder why local business x doesn’t offer better pay. This is why local businesses are getting squeezed more and more, and why restaurants are increasingly financially precarious.

        2. SweetestCin*

          Perhaps I was not clear – I’m not talking about the barest of wage-slave benefits here. I’m not even sure where the commonality with refusing to tip comes in, because that is on a special kind of folk.

          Its the “European level” of benefits to which I refer. That is what spouse would prefer to offer, not just what is “standard” to the industry. However, until the entire industry comes around to that, it won’t be feasible. The reasonable rate for service X does not support anyone, even the largest providers of the service, providing the European level of benefits.


          1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

            Technically they probably could if they cut staff or pay. If industry average is 100 employees making $X for Y benefits doing Z amount of work per person, to offer the benefits without raising prices they could have 75 employees making $X for Y+ benefits doing Z+25% amount of work per person.
            Or 100 employees making $X- for Y+ benefits doing Z amount of work per person. Is that a trade-off that benefits employees? Maybe yes, maybe no, maybe some, maybe not others

        3. No Longer Working*

          “If you cannot afford to treat employees reasonably, and have reasonable benefits, then you have no right to be owning a business with employees! ”

          I have worked for small, medium and large family-owned businesses. They all are in business for one reason only, as are all non-profit businesses – to make money. The worst of them – and the largest (2000 employees worldwide) – did not treat employees reasonably or have reasonable benefits. People took jobs with them as a last resort only. They did not pay well and started people out with only 1 week vacation plus 3 sick days, which increased the longer you stayed. They often violated labor laws but got away with it most of the time. They used pirated software for as long as they could, which I was so tempted to report them for. Instead of giving employees what they needed and valued, they would have a yearly barbecue (mostly potluck) and monthly bagels.

          Why did people stay? It was casual and comfortable, and in my department, laid back, low stress, and insulated from company politics. If your family had other income, your low pay might not be a deal-breaker. I took the job to learn a particular skill and went on job interviews while there, but nothing panned out. The best people eventually left, as did I. I liked the work, and most of my coworkers, but hated the company and the greedy family that owned it.

          My point is, companies do have every right to be in business to make money, but for the ones that exploit peoples’ labor and time in order to do so, I can only hope the owners get what they deserve in the end.

    6. Aquawoman*

      Yeah, but if you start treating your employees as if they’re actual human beings instead of subhuman serfs, that might lead to all sorts of policy changes!

    7. Confused*

      Yeah we get it, we know Europe has better leave policies and universal health care and paid maternity leave and us Americans don’t have that because we’re just too stupid. Thanks for the helpful comment.

    8. NewWorkingMama*

      It’s so company based. I have 6 weeks PTO plus 10 paid holidays. I’ll have been with my company for 4 years soon. Yes, it should be mandatory. Yes it should be every job, but it’s not all the barren wasteland it’s often described as.

    9. Rachel in NYC*

      I can’t go back to a normal job- I’m terrified of it. I’m in university administration in the States (non-union)- we start with 20 vacation days, 2 personal, 5 sick leave days (for doctor appointments), and unlimited sick time.

      I do anything less- it honestly terrifies me.

    10. Tidewater 4-1009*

      Peter, if you know how to take the power away from the elites who are paying lobbyists and and politicians to make laws that give them this power, please share. Also if you know how to get the voters to see what’s really going on and stop being fooled by the lies, please share. Thanks!
      Many of us have tried…

    11. TootsNYC*

      A boss of mine once made the point that in many industries, time off is the cheapest benefit possible.
      When someone is out in my field, you work a little harder before and after, and you all pick up the slack for one another.

    12. Temperance*

      I’m American, and I get 7 weeks combined. My husband has unlimited PTO and sick time. I promise you, we don’t need to be condescended to by non-Americans.

    13. Lora*

      Peter my dude, let me break this down for you:

      Huge swathes of the US, most of the actual land mass, is what the rest of the world considers a Developing Country:
      You cannot drink the tap water, it’s too polluted. There is little to no wastewater treatment, wastewater is sent to open pits or overloaded, broken, ancient, leaking septic systems.
      There are only 1 or 2 major employers, and the state only got you those by offering massive tax breaks that cost the local government $100,000/job/year in revenue, for jobs that only pay $25,000/year with minimal health insurance or no health insurance until you’ve been there for years. If the employees at those jobs decide to unionize, the employer picks up and moves to a different state…that offers them $110,000/job/year in tax breaks.
      The only health care is a sketchy understaffed ER multiple hours’ drive away, with an all-volunteer ambulance crew and one ambulance that may or may not be an hour away when you call, that may or may not be busy and you just gotta die when you call.
      There is no public transit. There aren’t even sidewalks to walk safely out of traffic, anywhere.
      Utilities regularly go offline in storms, which are frequent in certain seasons.
      Major disasters such as floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, blizzards and ice storms etc. are a regular feature of life, from which you may or may not be rescued if you are stuck in one.

      That’s not some rare corner of the Midwest, that’s an awful lot of America. The question most of my European colleagues ask is, why aren’t Americans protesting in the streets, and the answer is – we tried that and nobody cared. Form a union – sure, if you want to get fired, just ask Amazon warehouse workers! Heck, ask actual health care staff in the middle of a pandemic who are getting fired *right now* because they complain about the lack of PPE and pay cuts to news reporters!! There’s a LOT of serious personal risk for people who protest their labor conditions in the US.

      There are currently wildcat strikes (much of the media is calling them “protests” as most of the strikers are not actually unionized or the union has not sanctioned the strike) ongoing for healthcare and other essential public-facing workers to receive PPE and hazard pay, for companies to repurpose laid-off and furloughed workers to manufacture health care supplies (GE), for grocery store workers and other essential public services folks to receive health insurance benefits given their huge exposure to coronavirus infection. They haven’t been very successful yet. Striking and protesting doesn’t seem to achieve much in the US, frankly.

    14. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I don’t have it in me to remove 50 separate comments so I guess this is staying up, but truly it’s exhausting to hear every time benefits come up. We know. It’s not news to anyone here. Nor is it any way useful or constructive for the LW.

      I’m closing this thread.

  12. rudster*

    Re. LW5, I wouldn’t necessarily be impressed unless someone specified how exactly they made those numbers. Did they simply work insane hours? Anybody can do that. Are all their co-workers lazy, incompetent or poorly trained/managed? That doesn’t tell me a lot about the resume writer’s accomplishments. Or did they achieve the super productivity by streamlining existing processes or creating better ones, reducing error and rework, or recognizing and fulfilling some theretofore unmet demand? That would be rather more impressive. To me, a blanket statement like “I did twice as much as anybody else”, without any specifics as to how or why, comes across as a bit self-important and disparaging of their colleagues.

    1. MCMonkeyBean*

      It’s a resume; I think a bit of self-importance is not only expected but encouraged.

      It’s not disparaging to colleagues to say you outperform the average. It’s just a fact.

      1. Senor Montoya*

        Somebody’s got to be above the average and somebody’s got to be below it. That’s how averages work. Unless everyone is at exactly the same level.

    2. Joielle*

      I mean, regardless of how they made the numbers, they were demonstrably better than their colleagues, which is a good thing to include on a resume. I might also include a line about quality, if that’s something that can be measured (just to make sure nobody assumes that they were cutting corners and producing shoddy work). Self-importance is a key feature of a resume – it’s not the place to downplay your accomplishments!

    3. Madame X*

      But the LW is demonstrably better than her peers? I suppose she could add in a line on her resume about streamlining processes to increase her productivity. However, the specifics of how she achieved being a top performer an be elaborated in the cover letter or the interview.

  13. gracers*

    LW #2 – everything that Alison suggested! I would call them out right on the spot in front of your boss (and whoever else within earshot) and say, “I do not appreciate you speaking to me like that”, or “That sounds like a put-down”, and see how they react. The constant negative commentary, scowling, and eye-rolling amount to workplace bullying, IMO. I’m sure they’re well aware that they’re being disrespectful and take advantage of you staying silent so far. But who knows, maybe they have no idea how their actions are affecting you? I’m wondering how you’d feel about speaking to them in private and asking why they take issue with you?
    I also think your boss may feel awkward about smoothing this out for you because they’re peers and the senior colleague isn’t part of your reporting line. I suggest trying to resolve the conflict without involving others first. It may blow up into something else if they feel you went “over their head” or “told on them” (in my experience, difficult people tend to react irrationally and make situations worse). Maybe it’ll be a productive conversation and they had no idea you noticed the eye-rolling etc. and you’re bringing this to their attention now. At least you can say you tried talking to them if the behaviour continues…
    So sorry this is happening to you; I hope it gets better soon!

    1. Not So NewReader*

      OP, I do find people who discourage questions very worrisome. Currently, I have a boss who is at the opposite end of this situation. She says that employees who don’t ask questions are people she does not want working for her. This meshes well with our line of work, something can look like an orange and it can look like other oranges. But it is actually an unusually large tangerine. Part of my job is noticing when something is different and telling the boss, “I don’t think this is an orange. Please look at it.”

      One place I supervised had the fastest pace workflow I have ever seen. In order to get good final products I was totally dependent on the people to tell me when they noticed something was off. There is NO way I would have caught it all by myself, there was too much stuff and too many people. I encouraged questions. To emphasis my desire to have them ask me things, I went as far as telling them that it is okay to ask the same questions. If I hear the same questions over and over I know that means I am not doing a good job explaining and I need to do something different. I drew it back on myself, it was MY responsibility that they knew what to do and how to handle the various situations that came up.

      As some one who has busted her butt to answer people’s questions, I have a very low view of your boss’ cohort. This is not a person who should be in charge of people. Maybe he is annoyed by the interruptions, if that is so, then he could just put on headphones. But basically he is interfering with operations in another department and he needs to butt out. He could even be a detriment to the company.

      Maybe you can gain some ground by asking your boss if you can call or IM your questions instead. I hope I can encourage you that you are NOT wrong here, at all.

      1. Solana*

        I’d also be curious about the boss’s reaction to questions. Mine told me straight out that she’d rather have me ask twenty questions than mess up something. (I work with lab animals, including in biohazard, so I asked plenty.) She gave me a compliment on my review for asking questions, said she trusted me to do things right and to answer questions for others because of it. Now, they’re begging me to be a trainer. :)

      2. OP #2*

        I did start to email Boss questions directly. I no longer work there (further explanation below). Senior Colleague seems to adore Boss. So rather than address SC myself, I asked Boss to talk with SC. I framed it like something like this, “SC does not seem to like it when I speak up. Will you talk with SC? Let SC get their problems off their chest? I don’t need to hear what you two discuss because SC’s behaviors don’t seem to be about me personally. Just lend SC air their grievances in the hope of a better office vibe.” Boss had noticed SC bad behaviors and did have a discussion with them about best practices in open offices. (SC’s background is old-school – private offices, linear chain of command, retirement pins, the whole 9 yards.) After that, SC did bite their tongue and waited until alone with Boss before friviously (sp?) complaining about me.

        1. Them Boots*

          Op2, I see that you managed to find a workaround and a professional discussion with your boss! Good job! But honestly, your boss should have shut this down by the third verbal comment with a private convo “OP2 works for me. Please refrain from directing & distracting OP2 and come to me privately if you have concerns while OP2 is learning their way around their responsibilities for me.” I have heard a few of my bosses say something similar to their peers on my or another colleague’s behalf. And guess who consistently made their numbers because their staff went above & beyond for them? Yep. There are bosses IRL who step up. Hope you find some!

        2. Paulina*

          I find it odd that SC adored your (then) boss, since to me his put-downs of you come across as undermining your boss in their management of you. If it’s both (adores yet undermines), and you hadn’t already left, I would suggest that your boss could use that as a tactic with SC (“I’m sure you don’t intend this, but when you reprimand one of my reports you undermine my management of my staff and our projects,” or similar).

  14. Myrin*

    OP #2, for whatever it’s worth, I think your proposed “I am allowed to ask questions.” is actually a very good comeback! What are they gonna say, “No you aren’t!”. I mean, that’s certainly possible, but it would make their dumb attitude even more obvious spoken out loud!

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Love it. I call this forcing the point. OP, here is how to drag the issue out into the light of day.
      Part of the problem with situations like this is that the person is being so dense, it feels like nothing will break through that brick wall of thinking. In cases like this, sometimes we can call it out by identifying the behavior OR we can drag more people into the situation and that will diffuse it.

      There are times where a likable person can dig their heals in on a particular point. In these cases I like to repeat back to them what they just said. I say it slowly and in a non-judgmental voice and I let my voice trail off at the end. This can be enough to jar them back to reality that their statement was off base.

      “Soooo…. you are saying…. that … when X machine overheats…. we should NOT unplug it from the wall?… Are we sure this is how we want to handle the overheating?”

  15. Beth*

    LW3 – In these circumstances, I think all you need to say is that working from home is really throwing off your routine, that you’re aware of the mistakes, and that you’re working on developing a structure for yourself to prevent similar mistakes going forward. The current situation is extreme enough that you don’t need any further explanation than that! Anyone with the slightest amount of awareness that their employees are human beings and not robots will be sympathetic; odds are your boss is experiencing some of the same struggles, even, though perhaps to a different degree or in different ways.

    If you hit a point where you feel like you need to get official accommodations, that would be a good thing to go through HR on if you have it. But for the moment, I don’t think you need any further disclosure than a simple statement that you’re struggling with the unexpected and unusual circumstances.

    1. TimeTravlR*

      It has been about three weeks of 100% telework for my team. I find that those who aren’t used to it, even high performers, are just now getting into a rhythm. It takes a while! I have been working from home at least part of the time for many years and I still tweak my set up to make it easier/better.

    2. EPLawyer*

      Keep it to how the change affected you. Everyone is adjusting. Heck I work from home most of the time, but not having the deadline of a court hearing has led to a lot of strangeness. I’m trying to keep to my usual structure as much as possible, but sliding here and there happens.

      Also, I don’t think bosses should expect the exact same level of productivity right now. So slow down and take your time. That will help catch the mistakes and give you a little room to adapt.

      1. MarchwasMay*

        My problem isn’t errors, but depression/anxiety rearing up HARDCORE, so I’m feeling like my work is useless. Everything we do is SOOO bottlenecked that nothing matters. (We *almost* have our web page up for the employees we support re: teleworking — after a full month of the whole organization moving to all-telework.) So my normal ongoing project, which involves troubleshooting and documenting a specific application, probably draft deadline is in another 6 weeks… plus we can’t work after 6PM (strict interpretation of the contract, even during all telework)… I can’t focus or think and all that fun stuff… I don’t even know WHAT to ask for from my supervisor to help me telework. (Teleworking 1 day a week was great, but in-person, we don’t collaborate like I was promised, and our team is too isolated from other teams to ideally suit me, but I guess despite introversion, I needed a moderate amount of random interaction to help.)
        Sorry I’m just rambling here.

        1. Starbuck*

          Yeah, I’m having similar issues – my work has a creative side to it (coming up with ideas for projects and then executing them myself) and what you said about feeling the work is pointless/useless definitely rings true. My work was largely based on in-person/outdoor activities so I’d also need a lot of brainpower and focus to basically re-create my work into a remote/online version and that brainpower is just not there!! Plus that niche is something other people/orgs have been specializing on filling for decades and it’s brand new to me so it’s not like what I create will measure up… Also the stress/anxiety is boiling away all my creative juices! It sucks.

    3. revueller*

      This. As someone else with ADHD, I’m having a horrible time adjusting to WFH and genuinely thought I was the only one at my workplace who was suffering. I later learned that was not the case.

      I’d also agree with Alison to err on the side of caution when sharing your medical conditions. Sometimes it’s helpful, but sometimes, people I thought would be cool with it get weird enough for me to regret sharing. If it’s useful to explain uncommon symptoms that might puzzle your manager (like lots of absences or a need for accommodations), definitely do so. If what you’re experiencing is common enough (like readjusting to your new work routine), you can leave it as “Due to The Circumstance.”

    4. c72*

      Curious, from the employee’s perspective, is it even worth calling this stuff out if their boss hasn’t said anything?

      1. New Jack Karyn*

        Yes, especially if it’s framed as trying to alleviate an issue before it becomes a problem. The boss can help them prioritize, move tasks around, find something that works. If the boss and/or team has the bandwidth, possibly more frequent check ins, brief video chat meetings, etc. Possibly the boss is in a position to say that LW isn’t the only one struggling, and offer some encouragement and empathy.

        I think that opening the discussion with an attitude of knowing this is an issue, and asking for help in strategizing around it, can lead to a positive outcome. With a reasonable boss, that is.

  16. Drag0nfly*

    At first with OP #2 I thought it could be a case of “let me Google that for you,” where the OP is asking questions whose answers she should be getting on her own. I thought that was why “Jane” wasn’t intervening, because she was using “Goofus” as a proxy for saying “lmgtfy,” which is one kind of red flag. But the “You’re not going to be here,” and “That’s not your concern” removes all doubt. And that makes the boss into a different, bigger problem to me.

    Not only stand up for yourself, OP, but also sit down and have a conversation with your boss about why she tolerates this behavior. I have a no-assholes policy, and if I saw that my boss allows Goofus to treat people like crap, even when they’re *her* people, it would be a red flag. Fire engine red. If the boss won’t look out for her own team, that’s a problem. It doesn’t just affect you in terms of how Goofus treats you, it also means that Jane won’t go to bat for you to get raises or promotions or opportunities, either. Doesn’t matter if Jane is a coward who “hates confrontation,” or if she approves of Goofus’s behavior, you need to know where she stands.

    I’d be especially worried if she objects to you taking Alison’s advice when you stand up for yourself. People who expect you to tolerate being treated like crap are people you don’t need in your life. Especially if those people can affect your livelihood. Have a talk with Jane, and see if this is a Goofus problem, or a culture problem.

    1. MK*

      It’s not even about looking out for her people in my opinion, he is directly undermining her authority. If the OP is asking too many or the wrong questions, it’s her boss’ place to shut it down, not her peer’s to insert himself in their supervisor/employee relationship.

      1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

        This. And OP’s boss is the real problem here. If the senior colleague is treating OP this way and boss isn’t doing anything to shut it down, that’s a bigger problem.

    2. EPLawyer*

      This is not a Goofus problem so much as a boss problem. Your boss is aware of this behavior. You have talked to your boss about it. Yet it continues ….

      Your boss is okay with happening. That tells you a lot about what you need to know. It’s probably not happening much right now (assuming you are not essential and so not going into the office) but when you go back to the office, talk to your boss one more time. If there is still no change, time to polish up the old resume. Your boss sucks and is not going to change, nor is Goofus.

    3. OP #2*

      After more observation, I realizes SC was weirdly possessive of Boss’ attention. And Boss low-key liked the adulation. Luckily, I’m no longer at that workplace. They can have each other! XD

      1. Them Boots*

        That’s kind of sick…& to let some innocent person be the recipient of the *metaphorical* whacks that both of them get off on. Ewwwwww! Yeah, you are better off done with that place. Eep!

    4. linger*

      We now know OP2’s position was later eliminated.
      This opens a possible alternative interpretation:
      (i) the seniors both knew OP2’s position was going before OP2 did
      (ii) Senior Colleague’s reaction was, we don’t need to waste any more time training OP2. (Consider especially that line “You’re not going to be here then”.)
      (iii) Boss wasn’t in a position to be open, but possibly agreed, so didn’t shut it down.

  17. CouldntPickAUsername*

    One option for number 2 is the look and repeat.
    You ask Jane your question.
    Idiot speaks up and you look at him with a completely blank face and no emotion at all.
    he finishes his question, instead of replying to him at all you just turn back to Jane and repeat the question.

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Personally, this would probably be my approach, since coworker has zero standing to butt in when LW#2 asks her boss a question. Pretend like you can’t even hear them — not to be petty, but because they’re playing a passive-aggressive game, and the only way to win is not to play. If they get frustrated and escalate, well then you would have something more egregious to complain about to boss or HR, but IME bullies often get bored and move on when they don’t get the desired reaction and drama. Poking back often has the opposite effect, as mentioned earlier.

    2. Starbuck*

      Yes, I like the idea of starting out with trying a cut direct here. So satisfying too for those who deserve it.

  18. Nat*

    LW 3, for some reason it feels like I’m literally the only person who has flagged my ADHD with my boss at both jobs I’ve had since I was diagnosed? Maybe I just have very chill workplaces (I work in music copyright) but both times the boss in question said they were glad I told them & that if I was having a bad day I should just let them know rather than trying to act like everything’s fine & having it look like I’m just slacking off for kicks. It also helped no one question the numerous fidget toys on my desk or the way I HAVE to get up and walk around the office relatively often otherwise I go absolutely spare. I will say I’ve also been struggling with working from home; my fragile attention span has been blown to pieces by not having the accountability of knowing someone can SEE me not working & I definitely mentioned this to my boss, fortunately I would say a LOT of people are struggling with that at the moment and you definitely don’t need to bring your self diagnosis into it to bring it up (I get it, I wasn’t diagnosed until I was 28 because I’m a woman and we tend to more commonly have inattentive ADHD rather than the hyperactive type that people usually think of, I also live in a country with actual healthcare and even then seeing a psychiatrist for it was expensive.) I would love to say after 5 years I have a ton of great coping mechanisms to share but honestly a lot of it is just making a lot of lists, setting a lot of reminders and trying to be gentle with yourself, this isn’t a normal situation and if anyone’s expecting normal levels of productivity right now they’re dreaming.

    1. MayLou*

      I don’t have a diagnosis of either autism or ADHD but both have been mooted as a possibility by people more qualified to know than I am. I’m on the waiting list for diagnostic assessment. I’ve got other diagnosed conditions though and have disclosed those. That was sufficient to get me access to support from a work coach through the UK government scheme, and most of what we worked on was actually more about neuro diversity stuff than the “official” issues. My employer is very supportive though. I did have a previous boss who was told by one of my colleagues that I’d been claiming to be autistic (based on a conversation which I suspect the boss had misinterpreted rather than the colleague misrepresented, but I wasn’t impressed at her betraying my confidence by reporting it to our boss either way). She told me that they couldn’t support me unless I had a diagnosis. Given that her idea of “supporting” me as a carer for my partner was refusing to let me change my hours to drive her to a hospital appointment, and her idea of supporting another colleague as a parent was refusing to let her change her hours to BE WITH HER SON WHILE HE HAD SURGERY, I doubt a diagnosis would have helped. Some people are terrible and others are not, and a diagnostic label doesn’t alter that.

      1. Quill*

        I disclosed my panic disorder exactly once (the only one I have a diagnosis for) and it lead to becoming the office scapegoat (please note that this office already sucked, hence why I was forced into disclosure)

        I’ve had better luck with requesting specific things like being allowed to wear headphones to avoid distraction by everyone else’s noises, never having to have my back to the cube entrance, etc.

    2. Jostling*

      You’re not alone! My experience has been much more similar to yours than to others listed in the comments. I think one of the keys is approaching it as “this is a thing that is different,” not “this is a thing that is worse.” Also, 100%, “it is just making a lot of lists, setting a lot of reminders and trying to be gentle with yourself!”

    3. Blue Anne*

      I told my boss too. When I switched jobs, it was 3 months before I was eligible for health insurance. I had a great 45 day review, then I ran out of meds and started taking way too long to finish things. When my boss brought that up, I let them know that I have ADHD, my meds are very effective, and unfortunately due to the health insurance switch I was going to be out of them for a couple weeks. When I got my meds back my performance went back up. When I have really bad focus days I make a note on my timesheet and make up a couple hours another day. It’s been fine.

      I think the important thing is for your boss to know your work is good before they know you have ADHD, for you to be clear and factual about what the effects are and how you manage them if it comes up, and for your boss to see that in fact the plans you have to manage it are effective. And don’t let them bum any ritalin even in tax season. ;)

  19. LGC*

    …I’m just leaving the very contentious post about LW3 upthread alone. But yeah – the first thing that struck me was…with all due respect, LW3, what exactly are you looking for if you tell your boss you have ADHD? What, exactly, do you think your boss can do for you with that information? Because – to be frank about it – I don’t see that there’s much that will come out of it, especially without a formal diagnosis. (And yeah, I’m sorry that it’s like that, but your job might not be able to do that much for you without a formal diagnosis to begin with.)

    I mentioned this in response to yesterday’s short answers LW3 (who didn’t want to work at home because of multiple reasons), but a lot of people are having issues with working from home right now. You almost certainly shouldn’t need to specify the ADHD part. We’re living through difficult times, and I myself am less productive than I want to be. This isn’t to discourage you from speaking to your boss – you definitely should and mention that you’ve been having trouble focusing. But…one thing I’ve learned is that you do need to be cautious with disclosure (or at least, I need to be cautious).

    1. Myrin*

      I’m not sure OP wants her boss to necessarily do anything about this – it seems to me like she wants to make it clear to her boss that she’s aware her work quality has slipped recently and that she’s working on reining in the amount of slippage. And I really like Alison’s first sentence in her answer; I feel like it basically encapsulates everything there is to say and do here.

      And I concur very much with your second paragraph. I can imagine that right now, boss has several subordinates who are suddenly struggling with WFH, maybe even cases of illness, and OP’s case might not be oustandingly severe in the context of the whole company and situation. I don’t think it would be bad for OP to mention her struggle – after all, it’s always different if someone makes mistakes and seems to be completely unaware of them versus when they make mistakes, recognise them, and own up to them while explaining what they’re doing to improve – but I don’t see how the ADHD angle would add anything to that, especially since it might not be as obvious or impactful as OP – who naturally only has her own work to compare to – thinks.

      1. LGC*

        I’m not sure OP wants her boss to necessarily do anything about this – it seems to me like she wants to make it clear to her boss that she’s aware her work quality has slipped recently and that she’s working on reining in the amount of slippage.

        Good point – I’m just extremely function-oriented and want to fix ALL THE THINGS. I’ll admit, my own first reaction would be to ask what I could do to help! (This…is something I’m working on, I’ll admit. I’m not sure whether it’s my autism or the fact that I get a thrill out of fixing things.)

        That said…you actually did get to a point I should have gotten to, which is that disclosing she has ADHD wouldn’t add that much to LW3’s story, I think. And it’s not because it doesn’t matter – it’s because it’s just one of many reasons she’s struggling. Plus, if she’s salaried…it sounds like she’s still getting stuff done, so it’s not directly impacting results right now.

      2. Chili*

        I completely agree that the goal is to demonstrate that OP recognizes the problem and is working to address it so that the boss is aware and they could potentially have a discussion about what the current standard should be. Because while it’s great that OP is trying to reduce their slippage, if I found out anyone on my team was working longer hours right now I would want to make it very clear that there is no expectation they would do that and right now we consider 75% productivity the new 100%.

      3. AverageJane*

        Well, there’s two particular scenario I’ve experienced where disclosing added value for me: the person I reported to also had the same diagnosis and with that context would give me a little more leeway in certain spaces – like taking longer to do certain tasks than it took others (and he made sure others were doing the same without being explicit as to why).

        The second was a manager who took the opportunity to do some research without prompting and figure out how to work with me so we could minimize the negative side effects and capitalize on the strengths (like, giving me work that was more about being creative and coming up with ideas or improving processes, but handing the last 20% of the work off to someone who was a stronger “project finisher” than I am).

        However, in 12 years in my career, this has been the exception, not the rule – so disclose after very careful thought on risks/benefits and only after getting a good sense of the people who would be in the “know” (and even then… you’d be surprised how many open-minded, rational people still eat up the notion that ADHD isn’t real)

    2. Actual Vampire*

      Yes, this is how I’m feeling. Everything is so chaotic now that I think if LW brings up her ADHD, the response from her boss is more likely to be “ugh, why are you bringing up another problem to me? I’m supposed to accommodate this right now?” rather than “oh, that explains so much, thank you so much for telling me!”

      I will say from my own experience – I once worked on a project with a dear friend, someone I love very much. It was chaos. It was such a disaster. She was constantly missing deadlines, missing meetings, telling me she would work on one thing and then working on something else entirely, redoing work I’d already done, ignoring decisions we’d made together, etc. Finally at one point she revealed to me that she has a learning disability, but that she was not pursuing any treatment or therapy for it (for various personal reasons). I have to admit, as much as I love this person, it was hard for me to react positively to that. It basically changed the situation from “this is a problem we’re dealing with together” to “this is a problem caused by the fact that Friend isn’t managing her disability appropriately, and I have to deal with all the fallout.” I’m worried that LW’s boss could have a similar reaction – especially since, given the circumstances, I doubt LW could get much medical treatment right now even if she wanted to.

      1. Actual Vampire*

        (And I just want to add – I don’t necessarily think there is an “appropriate” way to manage a disability – if Friend doesn’t want to do therapy or treatment, that’s fine with me. But she didn’t provide any solutions for how she was going to deal with her own disability without messing up my work. That’s why I think LW shouldn’t mention the ADHD. Focus on what you can do to solve the problems you’ve identified with your work, not what the cause of those problems is.)

      2. LGC*

        To be honest, I think that if LW3’s boss took her ADHD as yet another burden, that’s a sign that there are bigger problems at hand. (Specifically, with the boss. It’s part of their job to adjust.) And here, the problem isn’t so much LW3’s ADHD, it’s that she can’t use her regular coping mechanisms and has to figure out new ones.

        (Myrin is far more articulate than I am, and she says this above.)

        Likewise, it seems like the problem with your friend (at least from my perspective) isn’t her learning disability, it’s that she seemingly refuses to address it even in the light of glaring problems. I’m not going to lie, I’d have been mad if I were in your place too, but I think LW3 is trying to address her issues, which makes a world of difference in this case.

        All of this is to say…I don’t think the consequences of disclosure are quite that dire in and of themselves. I don’t know for sure, but I don’t think they are.

        1. Actual Vampire*

          Oh, of course! I didn’t really mean that the boss would take the ADHD as a burden necessarily… just that if LW starts the conversation by talking about ADHD, the boss’s brain might think “new diagnosis = new problems” rather than recognizing that LW is trying to explain how she is addressing the problems that are already present in her work. Especially since, from the letter, it’s not clear that the boss even knows LW is having problems with her work.

        2. Actual Vampire*

          Oh, and with my friend… the problem was that she thought she was addressing it. The way she presented it to me was that she was doing her best to deal with her disability by herself. That’s why I felt stuck between a rock and a hard place – I absolutely didn’t feel like I could criticize her treatment plan (or lack thereof), but I also didn’t want to tell her her best wasn’t good enough.

          But yeah, it sounds like that is not LW’s situation.

    3. J.B.*

      I thought that post went off the rails quickly. However, if LW3 is self-diagnosed I would recommend that (s)he seek additional diagnosis when possible. There are a lot of things that can be similar, with different coping strategies. I have anxiety which can look like ADHD in some situations, (especially with the world exploding). Some of my coping strategies overlap with ADHD and some are different – like reminding myself to take breaks, and it is actually ok to do something not quite last minute but later than I would otherwise get started.

  20. Mannheim Steamroller*

    [This is a truly high stress, very physically and emotionally demanding job, and we’re given 40 hours of PTO a year, which is combined sick and vacation.]

    You get only ONE WEEK of combined vacation and sick time? What cheap-o company is this? That alone is reason enough to quit (or reject an offer), and certainly warrants a scathing Glassdoor review.

    Next question: Were the employees in question expected to work from home during their quarantine? If so, then that time should have been paid normally instead of being charged to PTO.

    1. OP #1*

      This is not a job that can be worked from home, like at all, so there’s no way the employees even could do that as an option.

    2. Rebecca*

      I totally agree with the Glassdoor suggestion. In fact, when the pandemic is over, I wish Glassdoor would have a section about just this – how employers treated employees during the pandemic. I would never apply for a job at a company that did this! Or provided just 5 PTO days a year. That’s ridiculous.

  21. OP #1*

    Hey, I wrote the first letter here. I have a totally serious question- do human services jobs ever offer more than one week PTO? I’m relatively new to the workforce, and even my last position which had a director title and was salaried exempt only gave one week, and I have always kind of assumed it was human services and that it came with the territory. Am I totally short selling myself?

    1. SweetestCin*

      Near certainty.

      Did it for years myself. Last time I was interviewing, I negotiated hard. Granted, what I have for PTO would be considered a bare minimum on the other side of the ocean, but in the US, four weeks of paid vacation out of the gate is pretty significant.

    2. Harper the Other One*

      I don’t know your area, but here that would be WILDLY low. Granted, there’s a lot of variation between human services jobs – a practicing Psy.D. will get more time than a behavioural aide – but one to two weeks vacation pay and 3-5 days sick time is considered standard here for retail and food service.

      And honestly, for services that are particularly physically and emotionally draining, many places here would offer far, far more than that. Our local hospice unit requires staff take a week off every three months to ensure they don’t burn out.

      It’s possible the standard is very different where you are, but personally, I think that’s an absolute travesty and if you are at all in demand, I’d encourage you to try negotiating for more paid leave the same way you might negotiate a higher salary.

    3. Morning reader*

      Not sure what “human services” is but 5 days is inadequate for any job. That’s one illness and one long weekend… how do you ever go anywhere? And if you have any other family members to take care of, what do you do when they get sick? (In library jobs, which I would think would be “human services,” the standard is 4 weeks for professionals, 10-12 days annual sick time, and generally includes a personal day, 10 holidays, bereavement leave, short and long term disability insurance.) In general, low paying and demanding “human” jobs should have good benefits to counterbalance the poor compensation.

      1. OP #1*

        This is more a medical/social services type job I don’t want to identify the exact field but that’s what I mean by human services

        1. Amethyst*

          OP1, I work in the medical/healthcare field and my organization gives us 2 weeks paid vacation time to start + 6 paid holidays every year. At year 3, the vacation goes up to 3 weeks. If you stay for 4 years, you get 4 weeks. Sick time is accrued on a percentage of your time worked per paycheck and is separate from vacation time. We are allowed to keep 85 hours to roll over each year.

        2. Babyface SLP*

          I work in direct patient care (I’m a speech-language pathologist) and get two weeks off a year in a rural location where that sometimes means that my patients just do not get seen while I’m gone, and I’ve gotten absolutely zero pushback when I go to schedule my time off with my boss. You’re being so, so shortchanged.

        3. Perpal*

          I am sure there is better out there. One can only hope you can negotiate with your employer and say something like “in order to stay, I really need (4 weeks vacation + 2 weeks sick leave – or something comparable)” and encourage everyone else to do the same… and meanwhile keep looking around for other jobs that will actually let you recharge and be healthy!

        4. Archaeopteryx*

          Our healthcare org starts people at 17 days PTO, all in one bucket but you get two more days per year as you gain seniority.

          1. Archaeopteryx*

            *we do get a separate bank of extended illness time, though, so if you’re out more that three consecutive days in a row you can pull from that and not lose more than three days of vacation. That bank doesn’t pay out on leaving, unlike pto. Only downside is you have to remember to request to use your EXT time or it will come out of PTO; I’ve forgotten that more than once after a long flu.

    4. Grits McGee*

      Are you currently working in the public sector? If not, I would look into it. Most city/state governments start with at least 2 weeks leave, plus more for seniority.

    5. EPLawyer*


      I would like to also add, that it is most definitely not an overreaction to decide to start looking when you see others treated badly in your company. What they do to others, they can do to you. Smart people see the writing on the wall and get out before they get treated badly (if they can). Put yourself in the smart people category. Also, since you have a job — granted at a sucky company — you can be picky about your next job. Do not take another job for less than 2 weeks vacations on start.

    6. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      5 days a year for both sick time and vacation is not even close to being okay, especially in a high stress job. That guarantees that people are coming in sick when they should stay home, and that you’ll be burned out in a very short period of time. I can’t speak to your specific type of job, but I have never gotten less than 2 weeks of vacation combined with additional sick time and paid holidays at any job. It’s insane to expect people to stay in a job for any length of time with that little time off.

    7. Anono-me*

      Op1: Human Services is so vast that it is hard to say across the board. In my experience, for HS people providing direct care to people in a nursing home or group home environment, the benefit package tends to be very skimpy and 40 hours paid leave is very ‘normal to generous’*.
      Hopefully there will be a rethink on this across the board, but if you do work in human services providing direct care, you may want to look at hospitals, the VA, public schools (student aide), or Nursing Services that facilitate private care as those employers may offer better compensation.

      * I think this is a horrible ‘normal’, for a multitude of reasons. However, I am not and never have been in a position to improve employment structure in that field.

    8. irene adler*

      OP: one of the “tools” for employees to successfully manage a high-stress, demanding job is plenty of PTO to recover and recharge.

      When management is miserly with PTO, they take away the very thing that keeps turnover low. I’m sure they can justify this with a “we can’t afford to give more PTO” excuse. Weighing generous PTO vs. high turnover- no brainer. High turnover is more costly to a business. So right away, any company that cannot offer the PTO necessary for their employees to do their jobs well, is not a management that genuinely cares about their employees.

    9. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      Mine does. I get 4.2 hours of PTO every 2 week pay period which is just about 2.75 weeks of PTO and I just started in October. In year 3 it will go to 6 hours

    10. Natalie*

      Yes, there are definitely many jobs in this field that offer more leave. In my (US) city you wouldn’t even be meeting the minimum statutory sick time, which applies to all employers with more than 5 employees.

      The healthcare org I work for employs some social workers, outreach workers and similar, and we start with 15 days PTO, extended leave bank, and 8 weeks parental.

    11. Prairie*

      My first two jobs were in nonprofits that were in human services. The first (in New England) had three weeks of vacation and six sick days. The second (in the Midwest) had two weeks vacation, eight sick days, and four personal days.
      Like some of the other commenters mentioned, human services can be draining; many employers know that time off is vital to retention.

    12. Blueberry*

      My first job was in healthcare as well, and I got 2 weeks combined PTO and sick time, and I thought they were being terribly ungenerous but I needed the job. You can definitely do better and I hope you will be able to soon.

    13. Flustered*

      I’m in human services, and positions *tend* to have less PTO than corporate jobs, but that being said it is rare to find an agency (in my region at least) that only offers 5 days of PTO. I am hopeful that if you do initiate a job search that you’ll find an employer that will offer you more time off. Definitely make a point of confirming time off available prior to accepting a position. It also may be good to find out how long it takes to accrue at a higher rate. (Some employers may try to entice you by saying “as you climb up the ladder, you can get 20 days of PTO per year” but you have to stick with the organization for 6 years to realize that benefit. This is practically an eternity in human services since people tend to burn out and want to change to a different organization/different subfield of human services. So it might be good to ask if the prospective employer can give you a chart with PTO accruals for length of service. If my last employer would have let me accrue at a higher rate starting my third year, that may have been incentive for me to stick around. But because it took so long to accrue, I had to get out of there!).

      I’d be wary of human service employers that only offer a combined pool of PTO (in opposed to vacation/personal/sick time) UNLESS they give you a good number of combined days – 15+. I’ve worked at agencies like that before, and everyone is always getting each other sick . It’s also a huge safety hazard with patients/clients who may be infected by employees.

      Hang in there! The field can be frustrating sometimes, but it is rewarding. If I would have judged the field on the basis of my first position, I would have been out of the field within six months! Do stay clear however of employers that insist that working in the field is its own reward, and therefore do not provide appropriate compensation, benefits, or days off.

    14. Shenandoah*

      Even my retail management job had 2 weeks PTO.

      I hope you get more PTO soon, OP – 1 week SUCKS.

  22. Multiple*

    LW3 – I will echo what others have recommended to keep the focus on the difficulties you are currently having without attaching them to a label. I have always suspected ADHD, OCD, and being on the Autism spectrum. But I made it through college and had a job and lived in countries where these conditions are not taken seriously.
    Few months ago, I settled in a new country and finally got the official ADHD diagnosis and with all the WFH, it is acting up despite staying put with my prescription and trying my best to cope. I did not disclose at all to my management
    I am not seeking an OCD diagnosis but my practitioner has started me on CBT for OCD though she did not put a formal diagnosis. I only disclosed the CBT bit to HR so they understand why I am unreachable for one hour everyday and why I want to be less involved in all the pandemic response publications that we are producing right now. I did not tell anyone in my team.
    The autism bit is really scary, people have so many stereotypes. I don’t know where to start but I know for sure that if I get a diagnosis, this is something I will never disclose.

    1. Harper the Other One*

      If it helps, I think attitudes towards autism are changing significantly. Both of my kids are on the spectrum and while we’ve run into some unpleasantness, most people are more on the “oh, that’s interesting” side.

      And good luck with the CBT! My partner has OCD and it has made a world of difference for him.

    2. OP #2*

      Oftentimes, my questions had to do with scheduling and events. Boss controlled the calendar and carried a lot of information in their head. I adapted by writing my questions down and either asking them during the weekly staff mtg or emailing Boss directly. Both circumvented SC’s snide commentary.

  23. Susie Q*

    #3 – I have ADHD and was diagnosed. I am also a woman who has had no problem holding down professional jobs, graduating from college, etc. I highly recommend speaking with a psychiatrist who specializes in ADHD/ADD so you can get a proper diagnosis. If you do have ADHD/ADD, medication can be incredibly helpful and you can’t get those prescriptions without a diagnosis. I also recommend reaching out to a therapist who specializes in attention disorders to develop new coping mechanisms. I was pregnant and am currently breastfeeding so I can not take my normal medication. It was a rough adjustment but I worked with my therapist to develop very specific coping mechanisms. Am I as good as when I can take my medication? Not quite. But the coping mechanisms are insanely helpful.

    1. Vicky Austin*

      “I was pregnant and am currently breastfeeding so I can not take my normal medication.”
      Yikes! Going that long without my ADHD meds is not an option for me. Heck, going more than a day or two without my meds is not an option, either. That is (one of) the reason(s) why I never had kids.

  24. Madeleine Matilda*

    #2 – I must admit that I sometimes get frustrated by people asking basic questions that they should know the answer to or should know where to find the answer. But I would never say something such as is being said to OP. My frustration comes from people asking basic questions when they could easily find the information themselves or should even know the information already. I think Alison’s advice is good for dealing with your senior colleague, but also consider if you are asking the types of basic questions that you could find the answers for without taking up your boss’ time.

    1. MK*

      If the OP’s questions are so frequent that it becomes distracting to the other people sharing an office, then he should have taken it up with the OP’s manager and asked them to find another way to communicate.

      1. Reba*

        But the person being rude is not even being asked OP’s questions, whatever the merit of the questions. The rude person is butting in when they are not part of the conversation! If the rude person is really inconvenienced by the question asker, they should address that with their peer (the OP’s manager) not belittle the OP.

        1. MK*

          Eh, if they are sharing an office, them not being the one asked the questions isn’t relevant. If I was sharing an office with a peer and her subordinate, and the subordinate kept asking inane questions every few minutes, it wouldn’t make it any less distracting or annoying that the questions weren’t addressed to me.

          1. Starbuck*

            It’s completely relevant. The coworker has no standing in the questions between OP and their boss, and neither would you. If hearing the questions is bothersome, it’s up to you to find a way to ignore them or tune them out. You could perhaps make a request based on the noise/frequency of speaking alone (ugh, open office plans), but trying to address the content of the questions themselves would be wildly out of line.

    2. Spencer Hastings*

      What someone “should” know or be able to find out also depends. I asked a lot of questions to confirm my understanding of internal office procedures at a new job, just in case there was some information security consideration or something that meant that my initial instinct was not the way to go. So it might have looked like I had no common sense or was asking stupid questions, but it would have been worse if I hadn’t asked and then got it wrong —people would have thought “doesn’t she know that’s not a secure way to scan documents (or whatever)?”

      1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

        True, but IME people are mostly lazy and they know where to get the info, but they think it’s faster to just ask. Or they’ve made no effort to document it and forget how to do it. If you’re new, its reasonable to assume that you don’t know the procedures and it’s no big deal for you to ask the question once (or even twice). But if you keep coming to me and asking the same thing over and over, and have made no effort to remember or write it down so you can reference it later, then I’m going to get frustrated.

        All that being said, I think the bigger issue in this letter is the OP’s boss. They should be shutting down the behavior by the colleague. Whether OP is asking things they should already know or not, that’s between OP and their boss, and none of the colleague’s business. And the fact that the boss seems to be letting the behavior continue is worse than the behavior itself IMO.

      2. Quill*

        Yes, especially when you’re new to the workplace. People with more experience are notorious for forgetting that there is no universal office protocol that someone teaches you in school – and that you just cannot learn a protocol or technology until you’ve used it a few times.

        For example, one of my first bosses made fun of me for not knowing how to use a Fax machine. I have legitimately never needed to use a fax machine in my professional or personal life before or after, mostly because scanner printers exist and, more importantly, come with an interface that will give you instructions.

    3. OP #2*

      Most often, my questions had to do with scheduling and events. Boss kept the calendar and carried a lot of details in their mind. I adapted by writing my questions down and later, either asking them at the weekly staff mtg or emailing them to Boss. Both circumvented Senior Colleague’s snide commentary.

  25. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    OP2 – I get the vibe that the senior colleague is actually trying to insult and belittle your boss. You’re just the handiest mechanism for it. Those comments could be interpreted as your boss failing to do their job – failure to train you, failure to communicate expectations/schedules/roles, failure to keep you in the appropriate silo.

    When you spoke to your boss, and got no change in the situation, is it possible that your boss feels just as bullied by this person as you do? Approaching your boss in a “what can WE do to keep this jerk from interfering in our work” mode might work better than “boss, please tell jerk to stop doing that”.

  26. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

    #1 Please tell me that was a typo and that you really don’t just get 5 DAYS of PTO per year? That in and of itself is ludicrous before we even get the into the way your company handled the forced virus leave.

    1. ynotlot*

      It’s really not uncommon. I get 8 days a year and that’s considered generous. I have worked places where we got 5.

      1. Elizabeth Proctor*

        Doesn’t mean it’s not ludicrous. And who considers 8 days “generous”? Those people need to re-calibrate their expectations. I can’t find a link, but I know Alison has said two weeks PTO should be considered the bare minimum.

        1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

          I think even 2 weeks of combined PTO is unacceptable. 2 weeks vacation with separate days for sick time, sure. But even 10 days is pushing it if you’re only taking care of yourself. If you have kids or a relative that needs care, you’re screwed.

          I realize some people can’t be that particular when it comes to a job, but if you have a choice, aim higher.

          1. Elizabeth Proctor*

            Thanks. Wasn’t sure if it included sick time or not and didn’t want to overshoot.

          2. OP #1*

            I feel really dumb I honestly have always just accepted the one week thing as part of the field I chose like the compensation isn’t great but it feels meaningful but clearly I’m just choosing not great places! Thanks for the eye opener everyone!!

            1. Lentils*

              <3 You're not dumb, your company just has a bad PTO policy and you didn't have the know-how to spot it. It happens, and it sucks, but you have this knowledge now and it'll help you out moving forward.

              1. OP #1*

                This is the fourth human services job I’ve had with that amount of PTO, I truly thought it was what to expect in the field since the compensation is pretty low all around

        2. Quill*

          People consider it that because the bar is being set at the level I’m currently dealing with, which is zero.

        3. Lentils*

          At my current job our PTO is all in the same bucket, and I did the math – I can earn up to 8 days a year. (We also get 7 federal holidays unpaid, when the office is closed and we are not allowed to work/earn PTO hours.) At my last job, we got 5 days vacation our first year plus 1 floating holiday, plus whatever sick time we accrued (I think it was 1 hr every 30 hrs worked), and then the second year we got 10 days’ vacation, and also paid federal holidays. The job before that, I had zero PTO because that company never bothered to upgrade me from contractor even though I was technically management status (that place also had unpaid federal holidays, like I tried to enter Memorial Day as a paid day once and HR contacted me and ordered me to change my timecard).

          Anyway, uh, that’s how 8 days/yr sounds generous, lol.

      2. Perpal*

        I am really wondering, are these outside of the USA (and, obviously, europe)? I thought first year residency was extreme, and that was 2 weeks total (sick time + vacation). Or maybe this is some kind of hourly/shift work setup? I know waiters etc don’t get PTO, they either work and get paid or don’t…

      3. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

        “I get 8 days a year and that’s considered generous”

        Considered generous by who?

        1. ynotlot*

          Small business owners :(
          I’m not saying I agree with it, just that I would be looked at like I have 3 heads if I suggested to my boss that it was inadequate. The way she looks at it, she’s already paying people for 8 days of not working, when she’s not legally obligated to pay us for any. The job where I had 5 days was a small business too.
          Again, I agree that way more PTO should be the norm – but considering that many, many readers have less than 10 days PTO per year, it’s hard reading people’s SHOCK and DISGUST at how HORRIBLE and UNREASONABLE our jobs are. Like, we make tradeoffs when we accept jobs. My previous job gave me 3 weeks, but I almost committed suicide while working there because of the intense pressure they put on me. My job before that gave me 4 weeks plus we were closed for 4 separate weeks out of the year paid, but the founder wasn’t committed so we all lost our jobs when the place went under. I wish I could still have THAT job just with a more practical amount of PTO.

  27. Spencer Hastings*

    For #4: I’m not saying this is true of the LW, but how do you deal with something like this when you are decidedly on Easy Mode compared to your peers? That’s my situation right now — the recent changes have made my working conditions worse, but a lot “less worse” than they’ve made most people’s. (I’m above average in work product quality anyway, I’m told, but under the current circumstances these things are now incommensurable.) I figure I’ll have to deal with this in performance reviews, etc., as well as on resumes later.

  28. Robin*

    about the working form home focus problem- part of this could be the emotional content of why you’ve been asked to work from home. global upheaval has emotional consequences. also your home probably has a lot more distractions, and that’s ok to note without necessarily having to give it a diagnosis.

    1. WorkingGirl*

      Yeah. I’m normally able to focus super well when WFH one day per week; lately I’ve been setting alarms to get up and take a break, since I’m having trouble focusing for hours and hours on end.

  29. Anonymous to stay anonymous*

    Nononono that’s a one-way ticket out the door. I got put on a PIP for saying “oh f**** me I hate it when I do that” to myself in my cube. To myself. (And nope I’m not a regular user of 4letter words and it’s not an ultra conservative area.)

    1. pancakes*

      It wasn’t to yourself if you said it aloud, though. It was to anyone within hearing range.

  30. OP #2*

    I sent in question #2. Luckily, I no longer in that toxic office. As weeks went on, I realized two things.

    1) Senior Colleague had trust issues due previous employees behaving badly (for example: video evidence of stealing cash). No matter how professional or productive *I*, Senior Colleague could not see past injustices. During my reamaining time there, I only spoke to Senior Colleague to exchange pleasantries.

    2) Turns out Boss was a deeply dysfunctional manager but better at concealing it. Utimatley, the hyposcrisy of wanting to modernize the organize while being resist to change lead me to decide to apply elsewhere. I had been taken in by the Boss’ lip service during the interview process, only to be underutilized (and frankly, bored) on a day-to-day basis.

    The silver lining is that, my position was cut due to budget shortfalls which lead me to unemployment just before the COVID chaos broke out. I left on good terms, and Boss is a well-connected reference to have.

    1. Blueberry*

      May this layoff be the springboard to better opportunities!

      … that sounds a bit buzzword-y but you know what I mean, I hope. :)

  31. Rebecca*

    OP#1 – I don’t know if your coworkers could set up an unemployment claim perhaps? They were told to go home, and not to work, that turned out to be a total of 7 working days, with no set return date and no wages. I’m just throwing out a suggestion here, at least they’d be signed up and in the system should this go longer and they do get laid off. In PA, they used to call it a “waiting week” if I remember correctly.

    I hope you and your colleagues are paying close attention. This is not a great place to work, high stress, emotionally and physically demanding, and you get 5 days off per year? I want to crawl into bed and pull the covers over my head just thinking about that! I’d brush up my resume and start looking once things die down.

    1. OP #1*

      I have been sending out my resume, when it isn’t a pandemic I’m in a pretty solid position I have high demand credentials and good experience, but I truly love what I do and the people I’m doing it with now and I worry that that’s part of how they get away with things it’s hard not to be emotionally invested and make it work to continue providing excellent services even when circumstances aren’t super great

  32. ynotlot*

    #1 If you’re in the USA and your company has less than 500 employees, this should fall under FFCRA Emergency Paid Sick Leave. 10 days (80 hours) for certain virus-related reasons, including self quarantining under a doctor’s order while waiting for a test result. They are not allowed to force you to use your PTO first.
    Surprised this wasn’t mentioned? Maybe I missed something

    1. SweetestCin*

      Honest question: FFCRA had a start date of April 2, correct? Was it retro-active in scope, meaning it’d apply to a situation like this in March sometime?

      1. Natalie*

        At this time, no – the temporary rule that is currently in place indicates it covers the period from the effective date (4/1/20) through 12/31/20.

    2. Natalie*

      The law didn’t become effective until April 1st and doesn’t apply retroactively. Based on “a few weeks ago” I think this leave probably occurred in March.

    3. OP #1*

      They weren’t ordered by a doctor and no one had symptoms so it looks like they won’t qualify that was my first suggestion to my coworker too!

  33. RussianInTexas*

    LW1 – your company is somehow crappier than mine, congrats! Mine at least adds 4 sick days on top of 5 vacation days per year.

  34. YellowSubmarineHome*

    To ADHD: Yes! Throwing off a routine with those coping mechanisms destroyed my work life for the first two weeks of isolation. But I will say— anytime I told any coworker about my ADD, they have brought it up on later occasions or let it slip to others. I have seen some people joke about themselves and their attention issues, and then they BECAME a joke to their coworkers. The stigma is real. Working from home is a challenge for most everyone, and that’s good to remember. Developing a routine, setting up a home “work station”, and brushing your teeth before starting work have helped immensely. One last thing that helped for me— guilt. When I get super antsy or start scrolling Instagram, I TRY to think of the people that are out of work right now. And it guilts me back into my job. Ok now I have to get to work!! You will get through this!!!

  35. No clever username*

    I am not a lawyer (and definitely not an employment lawyer) but if OP1 is in the US, they might be entitled to more paid time off? I thought the Families First act guaranteed time off to people who were needing to quarantine because of potential exposure. There are a lot of limits (company can’t be too big or too small) but it’s worth looking into. Also, supposedly employers who have to pay this time out get some sort of tax credit (because of course they do) so they can’t grumble too much about it.

    1. Natalie*

      That law didn’t go into effect until April 1st, and the LW says this happened “a few weeks ago”, so probably before it was active.

  36. AdAgencyChick*

    #1 is infuriating. That a company would ask workers to burn PTO when they were potentially exposed to the virus ON THE JOB is…infuriating!

    A family member of mine works for a hospital whose policy was: If you’re exposed to the virus, you must use PTO for your quarantine. Like, seriously, WHAT? Again, where is she most likely to get exposed to the virus? ON THE JOB!


  37. c72*

    #3 – Allison’s advice trumps mine, but IMO – don’t ever preemptively call attention to minor mistakes and/or decreased productivity. I think there is very little that can be gained from that — either your boss hasn’t noticed or she has noticed but has decided not to say anything for the time being.

    (Major business impacting mistakes, of course, you should be honest about; I’m saying don’t tell your boss you lost an hour browsing Reddit when you were still able to get your work done.)

    If you have a one-on-one where she checks in on how things are going, that’s an opportunity to use Allison’s script.

    1. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

      I’ve told my boss I’m less productive now with the WFH and home schooling of kids.

      I am. It’s better he hears it up front, because he’s going to see it. It shows I’m aware.

  38. Employment Lawyer*

    1. Company ordered people to quarantine, then told them to use PTO for it
    That may not be legal.

    In most scenarios, a company can force people to use “paid vacation” time, which is to say “time where you are getting paid for not working.” (Remember, the law does not usually require any paid vacation at all. So when a company gives its employees “free paid time,” of its own volition, the company has a lot of discretion about how that time is used.)

    However, the red flag here is “COMBINED sick time and vacation time.”

    In states which have paid-sick-time laws, there are sometimes exceptions which allow employers to avoid giving extra sick time if they already offer sufficient paid vacation. Those employers are allowed to “classify” the time in both categories.

    But here’s the rub: When they do that, they may well lose the ability to treat this as “normal” vacation time. Which is to say, if they play the “sick/vacation” combination, they are quite possibly bound by the stricter of the two laws–and that may prevent them for forcing you to use up your sick time (or, at the least, it may prevent them from denying a sick time claim in the first place.)

    What state are you in?

    1. OP #1*

      They aren’t ordered to use their PTO, they just won’t be compensated in any other way. We are all non exempt and work in a job that is hands on direct care- not something that can be done from home. Essentially they can take it unpaid or use their PTO if they want to, but aren’t being forced either way.

  39. Employment Lawyer*

    2. My senior colleague insults me when I ask my boss questions
    A good reply is something akin to “XXX, you’re not part of this conversation,” “XXX, why are you joining this conversation?” “XXX, is there some reason you feel the need to comment here?” “XXX, I see you keep interrupting and interjecting into our conversation. Can you explain why you feel the need to do so?” etc. Ideally that reply would be made by your boss. It will take one or two times of making XXX feel like an idiot for interjecting and they will stop. It’s a bit harsh but the behavior deserves a harsh response.

    3. Should I tell my boss I’ve been struggling with ADHD since working from home?

    1. Perpal*

      #2, I agree in general colleague should be told to butt out, though if they are senior/on the level of LWs boss then they might have to be a little more polite about it. Ie, just shoot them a puzzled look when they interject and say “oh don’t worry, we got this!” etc. If they snort or grouse “hey, are you ok?” etc.

  40. Name Required*

    Wondering if worker’s compensation comes into play when you’re exposed to a virus at work, and if it would cover any of the time at home, since you’re quarantining for medical reasons?

  41. Not One of the Bronte Sisters*

    OP#1, I hope your employer does not survive this crisis. It doesn’t deserve to.
    OP#2, I’m so glad you’re out of that situation. However, I don’t see how being upset that a previous employee stole translates into belittling someone for asking her manager questions.

    1. OP #1*

      What’s so hard is that what we do is important for the families we do it for, I’m exhausted from working kind of wild hours currently but it’s worth it to ensure we continue desperately needed services. I am mad at the company but I would hate for them to fail because then the people hurt the most are our clients.

      1. anonymous 5*

        Are you in a field where a licensing board/accreditation agency/oversight committee might be receptive to hearing about how this company treats its workers (as in, putting them in a position that ultimately jeopardizes the quality of care/services)? Even if the company doesn’t go under, the clients who are receiving services are receiving them from people who have been overworked to a point that they’re not actually able to provide as high of a standard as they could.

        1. OP #1*

          From what I’ve read in at least other job ads having PTO at all is a selling point it might just be this job. There is a board but I’m not sure this rises to the level of unethical that I would want to present it to them- this isn’t coming from my boss, this is the higher ups who get to work safely from home and I don’t know if knowing that is coloring my opinion on this too like we’re literally risking our safety to continue services and it would be really cool to have that acknowledged especially after a close call like that

          1. pancakes*

            What does coming from higher-ups vs. coming from your boss have to do with ethics? Higher-ups aren’t somehow exempt from the same ethical guidelines that apply to the rest of the field.

            1. OP #1*

              I meant more my boss is great and I know she wouldn’t be treating it this way if it were up to her, I am really bothered by the higher ups who currently get to work safely from home and not expose themselves but act like we should be grateful for the opportunity.

  42. Justin*

    #3 is the opposite of me, I’ve been much more productive at home, similarly with very obvious in retrospect lifelong ADHD issues (that medication wouldn’t likely help, since they can be controlled with mechanisms, and my mechanisms fail when I’m uncomfortable, as I am at my job, which is a much bigger issue).

    I agree not to mention it. Sometimes I want to tell my boss when I have a lapse, but then I’ll be that guy forever and I’ll be in a box. Shame, and good luck to you. They should be understanding during this time, I think.

  43. Blueberry*

    #3, maybe the actual issue you should discuss with your boss is how difficult you’re finding it to focus and organize your working from home and strategies to better do so, without bringing up the ADHD? I just say this because I’ve seen people run into trouble at work once their supervisors know their diagnoses, and because the work-related part of it might be manageable without reference to the diagnosis. At any rate, good luck, and yeah, it’s hard for many of us to focus efficiently under these conditions. I’m cheering you on!

    1. Blueberry*

      … or in other words, what Allison said. *laughs at myself* I thought I had more to say before I started typing.

  44. Argh!*

    Re: #3

    There are bound to be more distractions at home than at work, so just saying you’re adapting seems like the way to go. The only way you learn that your supervisor and HR are ignorant is the hard way. Where I work, mentioning a condition results in a canned response designed to thwart any possible litigation in the future.

  45. Jostling*

    OP #3, I think there’s more nuance at hand than a blanket “no.” My workplace (and industry) features a lot of people with attention/personality quirks, so we are fairly open about talking about things like this. When I started ADHD medication, I mentioned it to my manager just so he would have an explanation if he noticed any changes in my work, and he appreciated the heads up. The self-diagnosis piece is tricky to navigate, but in my mind it absolutely doesn’t invalidate your concerns because it can be very difficult to get an adult diagnosis. Given that a good manager and company will be anticipating WFH challenges right now, I don’t think it would be at all inappropriate to discuss general “problems with attention” or ADHD with them, if your relationship allows for it. You may be surprised in their willingness and ability to offer suggestions and/or accommodations for you! Managers also tend to react better to poor outcomes when they are kept in the loop throughout the process – telling them, “I am struggling [with x, y, z] while working from home” NOW allows them to be proactive, rather than seeing than your work suffering without explanation and having to react to it two months from now in a more dramatic fashion.

    Obviously, ymmv with this type of transparency, but I was pleasantly surprised when I opened up with my colleagues about my ADHD. When you have the opportunity, I would recommend looking for psychiatrists in your area who specialize in adult ADHD, or ask your GP for a referral. Therapy, coaching, and medication have been really helpful for me, as has ADDitide Magazine’s website in terms of validating my self-diagnosis, finding resources to get a formal diagnosis, and understand how some of my personality quirks and behaviors are actually ADHD-related behaviors or coping mechanisms. Good luck!

  46. Giant Squid*

    Great answer to #3–a lot of people, myself included, have learned the painful lesson that perceived wokeness doesn’t equal tolerance. Even if you find out your boss has ADHD, even if your boss’s kid has ADHD, spouse has ADHD, whatever–do not disclose mental illness of any kind unless you absolutely have to for an accommodation reason. Talk about your issues by all means, but always code it in vague temporary terms.

    You’re not depressed, you’re “down”. You’re not autistic, you’re “adjusting to the new work culture”, or “still getting to know X”. You’re not bipolar, you’re “off your rhythm”.

    I just appreciate the pragmatism so much. It’s not about what the world should be, it’s about what it is.

  47. MissDisplaced*

    #1 Isn’t there some relief for people in this situation? Can they file for Unemployment for that week?

    #2 This person is being a real jerk. I agree that maybe it’s better to ask via an IM or email direct to your manager.

    #3 On the plus side, you are SO not alone with this right now! However, during your next one-to-one with your manager, you should mention that you feel you’re having some productivity issues while adjusting to the new WFH model and that you’re trying to work through them. If your manager is a good one, they’ll accept that some of this is normal and to be expected during this time, and help you with some ways to work with it. Heck, I’m more used to WFH than some, and I have days where I find WFH extremely distracting for a number of reasons that were never reasons before: (husband is home, pets, news cycle, etc., etc.). I think, you know, you just have to keep trying to do your best and that isn’t a perfect situation for anybody.

  48. I'm Trying, But Probably Failing*

    #2: This doesn’t sound like your case, but I’m throwing this out there because it might be helpful for others in similar positions to yours to consider their context. I manage someone who often asks questions similar to the ones in your question, except they ask them when overhearing a conversation between other people or when they otherwise become aware of something that isn’t directly their task. The answers to their questions typically cause more questions because the person doesn’t have the background to understand 1) why the initial conversation is taking place and 2) the answers to their questions. The person is very invested in understanding anything that confuses them, so what started as a quick 5-minute update between two other colleagues turns into a 30-minute session of explaining background, answering this person’s questions, and trying to provide context for the nuance of decisions to prevent incorrect conclusions being formed because of the person’s lack of context and experience.

    That lack of context and experience also makes them a liability when they interact with customers because they are still learning the difference between explanations given to colleagues and what we tell customers. That means for every answer we give them, I have to be sure to explain, “The answer is A+, but when talking with customers, say only A.” It’s exhausting and I never feel confident that they understand correctly. (Is “you take up too much of my management energy” a good reason to fire someone?)

    As a manager, I typically encourage people to learn more and it is important that everyone in our small office have a basic knowledge of what everyone else is doing, but I’ve had to hold a tight rein on my expression multiple times when I wanted to declare, “This doesn’t involve you. You don’t have the experience to understand. Stop paying attention to others’ conversations, as hard as that is in an open office, and focus on your own work. You don’t have to understand the details of everything; it’s enough for you to know that X is happening, not all the reasons why.” I did once sigh and roll my eyes in frustration, but the next day apologized to them.

    I’ve had private conversations with the person to try to explain how it is a problem that their behavior causes all work to come to a screeching halt while we try to answer all their questions, but yet not make them feel like they can’t ever ask a question. I’m pretty sure I’ve only caused more confusion. How to teach someone judgement (or if that’s not possible, manage them out) is one of the managerial challenges that keeps me up at night.

    1. Paulina*

      Have you tried addressing how he’s asking questions rather than their content? Eg. could you have a specific meeting (not in the moment) with him and let him know that he needs to allow colleagues to have their discussion without inserting himself into it, that keeping himself out of it will help those colleagues deal with the open-plan situation (since if they had offices he wouldn’t hear it at all), but that he should make note of questions that he has about items and ask you about them separately?

      Who knows if he’ll do it, but it would focus on a specific problem (the interruptions where he derails others) that could be reprimandable. If he does make note to follow up later, he’ll be thinking about things more, possibly notice how much he’s wanting to know, and also potentially letting some or even many of the items drop. “I want to know now” is much easier on the questioner than asking later, but not on everyone else.

  49. CW*

    #2 – I had a coworker like that. She was a real b****. There is no sugarcoating it. She encourages you to ask questions but every time I did, she talks down to me like a 5-year-old. It was really distressing. My boss told her again and again to tone it down, but it was like talking to a wall. Eventually, I quit because of her. I have anxiety and working with her just made it shoot through the roof.

  50. Vicky Austin*

    #3 If you think you have ADHD, make an appointment with a psychiatrist or neurologist who can give you an official diagnosis. If you get diagnosed, then you are eligible for accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act. However, if you just say, “I think I have ADHD that’s self-diagnosed,” that’s not going to fly. Your supervisor is likely to think you are lying and making excuses, like people who say, “I’m feeling a little ADHD today.” As a person with ADHD (I was diagnosed by a psychiatrist at the age of 8), it really annoys me when people say things like that. You either have ADHD or you don’t. No one can have “a little ADHD today” any more than they can have “a little cerebral palsy today.”
    Another advantage of an official diagnosis from a physician is that you can get a prescription for Ritalin or other ADHD medications. Medication has been very helpful to me.

  51. Jennifer Juniper*

    OP3: Since you said your ADHD was self-diagnosed, I would NOT mention it to your employer. The employer may ask you for proof so they can make accommodations for you. Of course, you have no proof.

    Worse, your employer could think you were malingering if you come to them with a self-diagnosis of ADHD.

  52. Wisteria*

    Alison, there are so many misconceptions about ADA and what a person needs to disclose in order to request a reasonable accommodation here in the comment section. I have noticed that sometimes you bring in an expert to discuss a common workplace issue. If you have an expert in requesting accommodations and the documentation that needs to be provided for that in your network, I think it would be really helpful to the commenters here to get an understanding of what really needs to happen. Anyone can look it up online, but sometimes hearing an expert weigh in can provide more nuance.

  53. Harvey JobGetter*

    Sounds like OP2 is in an open office. OP2 therefore needs to carefully consider if they are in fact asking the boss lots of unnecessary questions. If they are, that is incredibly distracting for a lot of people and she needs to stop doing that. Co-worker ALSO needs to stop being a jerk, but there is definitely a major need for self-reflection by OP2 here.

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