my boss keeps telling people I’ve had COVID, employee apologizes all the time, and more

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

1. My boss keeps telling people I’ve had COVID

I contracted “mild” COVID earlier this year, and was significantly unwell — thankfully, not badly enough to be admitted to the hospital. For around a week, I was pretty much unconscious, and for some time after that I was able to do only a minimum of work. Months later, I am still not back at full health and tire easily, but I have managed my full workload for many weeks.

Fortunately, the worst period fell during a naturally quiet phase at work, particularly since the agencies we do most work with were officially locked down. Most of my external contacts didn’t even notice I was gone. My work has also been entirely remote throughout the Plague Times, with full flexibility for caring responsibilities, etc.

I haven’t kept my illness a secret in my personal life: on the contrary, I have felt an obligation to talk candidly with friends and family about my experience to counter the messages of “just like the flu” or “it’s only mild for most people” or “young people don’t get COVID.” My boss and I have a good relationship and many friends in common, so we have discussed it a few times and it’s no internal secret either.

But she has started telling our external contacts that I’ve had COVID and am better, and it rubs me the wrong way. I can’t even put my finger on the reason I don’t like it, but it’s partly because it’s not her news to tell, and partly because what she’s saying is not quite accurate. Am I being precious, or is this off? If it’s off, given how great she has been about the pandemic in general, how can I politely ask her to quit it?

You’re not being precious. She shouldn’t be sharing your medical info without your permission, and that’s before we even get into the fact that she’s framing it inaccurately. She probably doesn’t intend to violate your privacy and just thinks of it as interesting news — but it’s not hers to share.

Since you have a good relationship, be direct with her. You could say, “Could I ask that you not share with people that I’ve had COVID? I’m not trying to hide it, but I’d rather not have my medical info shared around.” If she seems surprised, you could say, “Mainly I don’t want medical info shared without my okay, but I also worry about people who don’t hear it from me getting the impression that it wasn’t a big deal. I’m still not fully recovered and I don’t want to reinforce the way some people think it’s like the flu.”

2. My employee apologizes all the time

We recently hired a new employee for a front desk position. We hired her knowing she doesn’t have the technical knowledge for our field, but she had great customer service. Her training was interrupted by Covid, but overall I am happy with her progress and have tried to communicate this to her.

One thing I have noticed is that she apologizes a lot. And while I appreciate an apology for a mistake, she often apologizes for her lack of knowledge or for asking questions. I want her asking questions, because I know she is still learning. We are a small government department that covers lots of things, so there are lots of little things to learn. Another example was she made an error with a costumer that was easily fixed. She apologized multiple times to the customer, where I felt one would have been sufficient. As her manager, should I address this? If so, how best? I definitely feel she needs to build confidence, but I also wonder if it is a habit that should be broken.

Yes, address it — especially the multiple apologies to customers, because that will annoy people and/or undermine their confidence in her.

I think from your email that you’re a woman, so one way to address is it to point out that women in particular tend to over-apologize and that it can make them seem less confident and less authoritative than men, and tell her you’d like her to work on not apologizing for questions or routine work hiccups. About the questions in particular, you could say, “Asking questions is a good thing! When you apologize, it makes me worry that you’re hesitant to ask other questions, and that would worry me.” It might help to suggest language she could use instead (for example, “that makes sense and I’ll do it that way going forward” or even just “got it, I’ll make that correction”).

Excessive apologizing tends to be an ingrained habit, so don’t expect that it will stop overnight — but as it recurs, try saying, “This is what we were talking about — no apology necessary. Now, let’s tackle how to do this.”

3. My boss accidentally screen-shared a message about a coworker’s performance problems

I work on a sales team. A coworker, “Sheryl,” joined our team late last year, with a long and successful sales career behind her. On our team, she has been less successful. She has made passing remarks to me that indicate that she knows her job could be in jeopardy.

We are all working from home due to Covid. On a team call recently, our boss was sharing his screen to show us something. Once he finished showing it to us, he did not stop sharing even as the conversation shifted to other topics. An instant message from my boss’s boss popped up: “Are we moving forward with a PIP for Sheryl?”

My boss didn’t seem to realize he was still sharing his screen (his camera was also on) and pondered for a moment before responding in IM that he was on a team call and would call later. He then minimized the messages.

I have no idea who else saw this. Should I say anything to anyone about this? Give my boss an FYI that the team, including Sheryl, may have seen it? I’m pretty sure that I shouldn’t say anything to Sheryl, as she already knows her job may be in trouble, and will know soon enough if she is out on a PIP. Am I making too big a deal about this?

You don’t need to say or do anything. But if you have a good relationship with your boss, it would be a kindness to let him know, so that he knows to be more careful with screen-sharing in the future. You don’t need to make a huge deal out of it — just tell him privately that you wanted to give him a heads-up in case he wants to check his settings to keep it from happening again.

Unless you’re very close friends with Sheryl (like outside-of-work close), this isn’t something you should alert her to. It’s a private matter between her and your boss, despite the awkward slip-up, and you shouldn’t get involved (and there’s a risk of causing drama if you do).

4. My company wants me to connect my personal Facebook account to our business page

I am in a bind. We want to link a social media service to our Facebook business account. The problem is, we don’t have a shared Facebook personal profile to connect – we used to, but we lost access. (I used to use this shared account.) My coworkers have the business account to tied to their personal accounts.

I REALLY don’t want to connect this company page to my personal account. I prefer to keep my professional life and social life separate as much as possible. Should I bite the bullet and just do it? I’m fearful this will open a can of worms where they will assume I will have the responsibility to connect future apps that require a Facebook connection.

No one else is offering to submit their passwords to connect to this social media service (and why would they?). For whatever reason, even though I’m not the social media manager (it is managed via a third party and a couple of my coworkers), they want ME to hook this up.

If you’re not the one managing the page, why on earth are they asking you to set it up? You should push back on that basis alone.

But more generally speaking, Facebook is set up strangely in this regard; they require personal accounts to manage business accounts, and their rules prohibit creating secondary personal accounts to do it — which puts people in exactly the bind you’re in. Ideally you’d just create a generic Facebook account (perhaps using a different name than your real one) and use it to connect to/manage the business page, but if they catch you they can suspend any of the accounts involved.

So another option is to just say, “I have massive firewalls around all my personal social media, and it’s been drilled into me never to compromise that. So I can’t be the one to do this. Sorry I can’t help!” Whether or not that’ll fly depends on your office — but if you’re not even involved in managing social media, it should.

5. Asking for a job I’d earlier turned down

After months of searching for my first full-time job, I received two job offers almost simultaneously in mid-March. I took Job A and turned down Job B, and was set to start when a quarantine order was issued for my area. Needless to say, I haven’t actually started Job A apart from a day’s worth of remote training, and have been on unemployment benefits since. Today, I had a call with my boss at Job A where they let me know that because of decreased revenue, my once-temporary furlough is now indefinite. I’m still on the books, but they recommended I start looking for other opportunities since they can’t promise they’ll ever be able to bring me back.

I know Job B is still hiring, because they’re reissuing the same job posting every month as part of their team’s ongoing expansion. I want to re-apply but I’m not sure how to approach it. I did really like Job B, and would have been happy to take it if I hadn’t gotten a unique opportunity with Job A, but to be completely honest I am only asking for this job again because I can’t do Job A. I’m not sure that I wouldn’t quit in six months if Job A asked me back. But I like the work at Job B, there’s no guarantee I’ll ever be asked back to Job A, and my benefits are shrinking significantly soon — all good reasons to revisit this opportunity.

You’ve advised before that hiring managers will probably be skeptical of someone asking for a job that they previously turned down, but has that changed in the current climate? How should I approach this request, and how can I be convincing in a way that’s still truthful about my situation?

It’s true they’re likely to be skeptical if you can’t explain what changed your mind — but that’s not the case here! Go ahead and contact them and be up-front. Say something like, “When you offered me the job back in March, I’d just received another offer. It was a hard decision but I ultimately went with the other offer because of ___. Then, of course, Covid struck, and I never was able to start the other position as a result. I see you’re still hiring for the role and I’d love to throw my hat back in the ring if you’d be open to that.”

Just be judicious about the reason you use to fill in that blank. It needs to be something that doesn’t sound like you’re only coming back to them out of desperation (so it shouldn’t sound like you’d be unhappy with the work or other key elements of the job).

{ 242 comments… read them below }

  1. Social Media Ninja Maven Rockstar*

    Facebook ties any business page to personal accounts. My guess is that’s why you lost your business Facebook account. You’re not supposed to use a common sign in.

    It sucks and they recently made it even worse, but you’re not providing your information to your company. The admin assigns roles, and it’s likely they want you to be a backup, or be able to respond, or even evaluate ad performance.

    1. Mid*

      I wonder how social media managers handle this issue? I know some people who do that full time and manage multiple business’ facebooks and instagrams. Maybe it’s worth reaching out to your social media person and asking them? But don’t use your personal account for this.

      1. Former call centre worker*

        I used to be involved in social media for a fairly large company and our Facebook was connected to an individual’s personal account. It was someone quite high up so appeared that they’d taken the hit themselves rather than make someone lower down do it. We only rarely needed to log into Facebook directly in my team as we used an aggregator.

      2. Divyesh Mistry*

        As a social media manager, we just know it’s part of our jobs (it’s often the comms people who were around pre-social media that balk at this, I’ve found). Note, it’s not just Facebook that does this, it’s also Linkedin.

        I find it’s not quite as obtrusive as people think it’s going to be, and there are tools that people use to manage it easier.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          It’s extremely weird. The very design means that a company could lose access to a business asset if an employee quits, is fired, goes on medical leave, dies… or simply deletes her FB page because a family argument went nuclear.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            I should have read further down before sputtering… Jackson Codish already addressed this. Thanks JCod!

        2. Social Media Ninja Maven Rockstar*

          I don’t mind it as much on LinkedIn. That’s supposed to be for business, and LinkedIn is much better at separating everything. Getting notices to my personal (albeit spam) email address that we reached our billing threshold never doesn’t annoy me.

        3. SK*

          Agreed, it’s an accepted part of the job and we usually don’t think twice about it. Most social media managers I know also barely post on their personal Facebook accounts, for reasons a lot of people have commented in this thread.

        4. Bedtime*

          It’s pretty obtrusive, though. We recently outsourced our social media/web analytics and had to give out my partner’s social media password to get everything set up. When they asked for it, I was appalled – I’m usually pretty easygoing, but it was a hard no on giving anyone access to my account; it was shocking to me that this was how they typically handled it. It’s one thing is you are pretty public with your Facebook – mine is pretty locked down, though, and though I don’t use Messenger much now, there are piles of really personal conversations from before I realized what a privacy risk it was to use.

      3. MarfisaTheLibrarian*

        I’m not sure what personal account my library set up our business account under. But there are 6 people who post to it, and we use Hootsuite so it’s not necessary for us all to link our personal accounts.

        1. Social Media Ninja Maven Rockstar*

          Hootsuite is great for posting, and managing multiple accounts, but the last I used it, you couldn’t use it for buying ads, which is really why most companies are on Facebook at this point.

          There are some great enterprise-level tools, although you still need a few people tied to the Facebook account to make sure you don’t lose access, but for smaller companies using your personal account is the best solution.

      4. Indigo a la mode*

        I created a second Facebook account, using my work email, that I use only for work. Someone else I know created a second account with the name Firstname Companyname to distinguish from her personal account.

        1. xtine*

          I did the same. Over time, I tightened up the privacy on my personal profile and removed my last name from it. My business profile was strictly used for the company’s Facebook. However, when I left the company, I took that profile with me and transferred ownership of their Facebook page to another person. It’s still a strictly professional profile.

          Based on Allison’s response, it sounds like that might be against Facebook’s rules but I’ve had the secondary profile for nearly a decade so I must not be tripping any red flags.

      1. pancakes*

        It’s been weird from the very beginning. It was initially meant to be a way for college students to rate one another’s looks, and developed to monetize every aspect of interpersonal communication it can insert itself into. (It’s been known for years that it tracks even non-users, people like me who’ve never had an account, via cookies). I don’t see any good reason for a business to center its internet presence around a Facebook page rather than a freestanding website. It functions as a malevolent and often inscrutable tollbooth between the business and its clients / users.

        1. bleh*

          Why people cannot wean themselves from fb after all the evil that has been done, terrifies me. It’s as if they can see the light, but they just cannot reach it. Of course, the same is true of Amazon. By purchasing from them, you are encouraging their terrible labor practices. But people are addicted to their next day shipping or whatever, just like they are addicted to fb. It makes me sad.

          1. New Jack Karyn*

            What’s the alternative? I like keeping in touch with friends, especially those who are now far-flung. They post stuff about where they live now, and I get to see global perspectives. I get to see my friends’ kids grow up. I’m in several groups on FB, and they’re not moving anytime soon.

            These connections are important to me. What’s the replacement?

              1. GrumpyGnome*

                That requires the others in the social circle being willing to use those groups, however.

              2. Hrodvitnir*

                Because Facebook, despite being evil and making itself less and less user friendly, is basically the only platform that allows continuous, low-key interaction.

                Sending an email or even a message is far more of a commitment. Relationships are built and maintained significantly on proximity and I have found Facebook GREAT for the ability to interact with someone’s life and build a relationship.

                I’d love an alternative, but even with the mass exodus from Facebook/using Facebook in any kind of genuine way, getting buy-in on a new platform seems impossible.

                Particularly since the only way to prevent being the product is paying, and no one is going to do that. :/

          2. Queer Earthling*

            You mean like when my spouse needed medical equipment that we could only afford at Amazon prices? I mean, I guess they could have suffered instead, that’s cool.

            People have reasons for what they do, and not everyone can follow your particular values. Being judgmental and superior really doesn’t help anyone.

        2. nona*

          Frankly, I kind of judge businesses that have a Facebook account, unless they’re really small businesses. It just…doesn’t seem professional?

          1. Kares*

            You mean instead of a webpage? We have a Facebook account in addition to our webpage. People are weird. They will not go to the webpage for basic information, but ask on these questions on the Facebook page. We try and nicely steer them to the webpage with its info and interactive calendar.

            1. Uranus Wars*

              This is where I fall. I am only on FB because of some work I do there for a organization. If someone can figure out how to drive people to the web at this point I’d be happy…but that’s just not how it works for most people these day.

              People ask questions, or look only to Facebook and if you aren’t on there you miss out on getting some key messaging around events and important updates – even if that information is pushed out via email, snail mail AND a website. It’s just a necessary evil at this point. Or for some businesses a necessary survival tool, which I think is an important consideration regardless of size.

            2. Dahlia*

              Facebook is updated a lot more regularly than most websites though. It’s how I’ve found out about a LOT of closings and changed hours due to covid.

              1. pancakes*

                This really depends on the business and/or niche of the internet at hand. I find out about closings and changed hours in my neighborhood from an award-winning and advertising-free blog. They put together a map in March and have kept it continuously updated.

              2. Facebook Isn't Always Faster Though...*

                That’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. People are forced to check Facebook because businesses refuse to post elsewhere first (or sometimes at all), therefore businesses see more traffic going to Facebook, businesses prioritize Facebook, people are forced to join to get basic information.

                It’s kinda creating a huge legal definition of “agreement” problem, because “No” is ceasing to be a valid option for Facebook’s ToS. If you don’t sign up, engaging with basic life is getting *hard* to do in some places.

                Thankfully, *some* businesses maintain separate and official presences outside of third-party platforms. They’re getting harder to find, but given I still exist outside of Facebook, I can attest to these businesses still existing… for the moment…

            3. pancakes*

              If there wasn’t a Facebook page they’d have to use whatever “contact us” information you put on your site.

              1. TTDH*

                This is true, but depending on what type of business you are and how common your business’s name is they may have a lot of difficulty finding your website in the first place. For example, I often order Chinese food in a city that shares its name with another more famous city – think Kansas City KS rather than Kansas City MO. Within that city, my favorite delivery place has a name that is shared with many other restaurants, even some within the same city. With a common name, odds are low that their web domain will be intuitive like RestaurantNameKansasCity dot com, and if I type “Restaurant Name Kansas City” or even “Restaurant Name Kansas City KS” into Google, I’m going to get a lot of other hits to wade through and try to determine if they belong to the restaurant near my home. However, when you search on Facebook their filters help guide you to businesses that are closer by, and it’s often easy to identify a business by the cover photo that pops up with the result.

                For what it’s worth, I detest looking on Facebook to find a business and would personally rather remember the URL or use Maps to try to get to the website (provided it’s listed correctly), but many people don’t feel that way and will find another place to shop. Pushing all inquiries through your website works if consumers would specifically seek out that specific business, but if it’s one that relies on a lot of casual business it may hurt you.

            4. Amaranth*

              Apparently a lot of college kids now share info and look up everything from menus to local events on Instagram. My daughter is a senior and tells me that absolutely nobody she talks to uses FB. I have noticed an increasing number of web pages have links to FB sites that are no longer seriously maintained.

      2. Tidewater 4-1009*

        It may be because they’re making a big effort to discourage fake accounts operated by robots, accounts that are in another name to run scams, and the like.

    2. WellRed*

      Hmm. Our company has two Facebook pages ( two separate publications) and they are managed through a fake personal account, but with someone’s real work email. It was all set up years ago.

      1. Nonny*

        Yeah, it’s a common approach, but it’s still not technically allowed by Facebook’s rules. If they find your dummy/fake account, they’ll shut it down pretty fast.

    3. notacompetition*

      I manage multiple pages and ad accounts for multiple clients. I actually deleted my personal FB two years ago because I hate FB, but that’s beside the point.
      I have a “dummy” account tied to a work email with a bio that says “I use this to manage client accounts. Please don’t friend me!” It has worked well for years–I have been using it since before I deleted my original, personal account.
      Also, in general, it’s just a best practice to have multiple people with page access and ad account access. With clients, I make sure someone on payroll at the organization–ideally one senior level person and one admin–have access for transparency’s sake. At full-time job, my whole department has access for transparency’s sake and for emergencies.
      A business account with ad privileges is a thing unto itself. Both types of pages should be able to be accessed by at least 2-3 people in case someone dies or gets fired or is sick on the big campaign launch day. OP, you should push for multiple access points to these pages as a best practice.

    4. HairApparent*

      To piggyback off this comment, an app like Sprout Social or Hoot Suite might be helpful. Whoever currently has access to the company’s social media accounts can link them to an app like these. They enable to post to whichever social media accounts you choose all at once. Part of why I like these apps is it shows posts as “posted by App Name” rather than “posted by My Name.”

    5. noahwynn*

      Yeah, I wanted to delete my Facebook profile and then realized this. I’m like a backup to the backup to the backup at work for anything social media. I’m in safety/emergency response and we have a set protocol in the event of a major incident or accident. Usually this will be handled by the social media team, but my team also has “just in case” access.

      I eneded up posting a message on my wall that I was going to be unfriending everyone on a certain date and they were welcome to follow me on other platforms. I deleted all my posts, removed all the mentions and photo tags, and then unfriended everyone. I made a profile note that I won’t accept friend requests.

    6. Cam*

      yep also my experience as I do scoail media for a number of companies. My social media is locked down water tight re personal info and I don’t befriend colleagues.

  2. PollyQ*

    #2 — Ask her to ask herself if a “Thank you” wouldn’t be a more appropriate sentiment most of the time, and point out that while saying “I’m sorry” (when nothing was actually done wrong) can make people uncomfortable, “Thank you” almost never does.

    1. MC*

      I use this at my cashier job every day! Instead of apologizing to customers for a long wait at the register, I thank them for waiting. Usually, they’ll say, “No problem” or “You’re okay”, etc. :)

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        Yup: I learned this decades ago, in my retail days: Not “Sorry for the wait” but “Thank you for waiting.” Both acknowledge the wait, but call for different responses.

    2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Switching in “thank you” for “sorry” has been revelatory for me over the past year or two. It’s definitely worth considering.

      I’m British, so “sorry” is kind of a reflex (we routinely apologise to furniture and similar inanimate objects, not to mention where we are patently the innocent injured party) and tricky to unlearn. But in many cases it’s more appropriate to show gratitude than regret.

      1. Kat*

        I’m so glad to hear other people apologise to furniture! It feels so ridiculous but really is a reflex at this point

        1. SheLooksFamiliar*

          Same here! I live alone, no pets or even houseplants. But ‘Oops, I’m sorry’ just comes out of my mouth when I bump into my furniture. So far, nothing has responded yet, which would be a whole other issue.

      2. nona*

        I say “ouch” as a reflex, when I’ve run into things, even when something doesn’t really hurt…

    3. The answer is (probably) 42*

      I came here to comment exactly this, re-framing as “thank you” has helped me with over apologizing quite a bit! It took me a while to figure out how exactly to use it, so here are some frequent ones I use:

      “Sorry for the mistake” > “Thanks for catching that! I’ll get right on it.”
      “Sorry for having to ask a question” > “Thanks for the info”
      “Sorry for not working faster” > “Thanks for being patient while I’m learning to do this!”*
      “Sorry for not being able to do this myself” > “Thanks for your help!”

      *Use this one sparingly, only in when slowness/lateness is due to inexperience or high workload, not when it’s due to error or poor judgement. In the latter cases a (brief!) apology IS warranted.

      1. Chronic Overthinker*

        As a total over-apologizer, this seems like a brilliant tactic. It enforces the customer service aspect and minimizes the potential to be seen as under-confident or lacking skill.

      2. Cj*

        These are all good suggestions as a way to use thank you instead of I’m sorry. However, wasn’t there a recent post where the OP was annoyed that their new employee always said thank you instead of I’m sorry?

        1. juliebulie*

          There was, now you mention it, but that was a little different. OP here says “And while I appreciate an apology for a mistake, she often apologizes for her lack of knowledge or for asking questions.” In the other letter, the employee was saying “thank you” to her boss for pointing out mistakes, which might actually have called for an apology, an explanation, or a promise to do something to prevent the mistake in the future. It wasn’t clear that the employee was taking the mistakes seriously.

          In this letter, however, the employee is apologizing to customers for asking questions even though she’s actually supposed to be asking questions. As a customer, I would find this tiresome, as it seems the employee is more worried about what I think of them than about dealing with my problem.

        2. Nonprofit Nancy*

          If you personally have truly made a fairly significant error (not just that a process is annoying for the person you’re dealing with) and you don’t acknowledge this to your boss, it can read as you not caring or trying to escape responsibility for an error. Even then though, you would apologize once, not multiple times. People who are chronic over-apologize-rs probably need to adjust downward by like 85%.

    4. Hotdog not dog*

      I was taught this years ago, and when I made the switch from sorry to thank you it made a world of difference! Words really do have weight.

    5. WorkingGirl*

      Yeah, I’ve worked on transitioning “sorry for being late” to “thanks for your patience”; “sorry for that typo” to “thank you for catching that typo.”

      1. Jack Russell Terrier*

        I’m not so happy with thank you when you had it in your control – like being late. This is a bugbear of mine, because I keep hearing friends who are constantly late say that. I’d like them to apologize for putting me out and keeping me waiting. I made the effort to be on time yet your being late was out of their control so I just had to sit there and be patient. It’s about putting someone out. To me, it’s like if I accidentally spilt tea on someone, I’d apologize – because I put someone out. I wouldn’t immediately say ‘thanks for being kind about the tea on your top’.

        I make a distinction between a run of the mill thing that happens – like a typo – that’s doesn’t really put someone out and can even actually a benefit to you, and something you have some control over that does affect someone, like keeping someone waiting. To me that’s the ‘sorry’ and ‘thank you’ difference’.

        1. Myrin*

          Yeah, I know that on AAM, I’m a minority in this, but I’m really not a fan of the “routinely say ‘thank you’ instead of ‘sorry'” mentality. Like you say, there are definitely situations where I’d go the thank you road (like your typo example, where I am indeed thanking the person who caught it for sparing me from having an embarrassing typo in a release I published) but I don’t think it can be applied quite as broadly as many make it out to be – it seems quite ill-fitting to me in several of the examples people usually make to emphasise how great it is, but there might be cultural differences at play as well.

          1. Kiki*

            I definitely agree that this advice can be off-putting when over-applied or misapplied, but I think the advice is solid for true over-apologizers. But yeah, I’ve definitely been annoyed when someone who did NOT need this advice decided to take it up.

            1. Nonprofit Nancy*

              Yeah there are plenty of people who need to apologize MORE (typically a … different demographic than the over-apologizers) but there is a definite type of person who apologizes all the time for everything and it is noticeable and honestly kind of irritating.

            2. Myrin*

              I can see that. And in fact, that might be the reason it often feels so “wrong” to me – I’m not an over-apologiser at all so the examples generally simply don’t apply to me which makes them seem more stilted than they might if I came from a different personal background.

            3. MCMonkeyBean*

              I think it’s kind of like the advice that “no” is a complete sentence. It is very good advice for certain situations, but then some people started whipping it out all the time, acting like you should literally never explain anything to anyone ever.

        2. SeluciaMD*

          I think this is an important distinction and I think your framing about where the control lies in a situation is spot on. To wit, I think there is a difference between personal lateness and institutional or organizational lateness. I often have to route documents for signature or approval through several departments (like legal, finance, etc.) and when it takes a long time – and it often does – I will thank partners for their patience because I have no control over how long that process takes. But when I’m late with something that I had control over, I agree that apologizing is the right way to address that situation.

          Overall though I do think the “thanks” instead of “I’m sorry” is a really helpful tool for us chronic over-apologizers! I was a total people pleaser as a child and even into the early part of my career. My first female supervisor was the one who pointed this out to me and it made a huge difference for me personally. I was amazed at how much my confidence grew over a short period of time just from changing this framing – because changing my language really changed my mindset.

          1. Nonprofit Nancy*

            I had a boss who took every time I said “I’m sorry” as a true admission of guilt on my part – like, I had clearly done something wrong and caused the situation I was apologizing for. Let me tell you, learning to say something else was essential to my career!! Most of the time I was apologizing as an expression of empathy for the frustration or delay, not because I had literally screwed something up. And even if I had under-estimated the time somebody else would end up taking, my apologizing made me (in his eyes) more responsible than the person who had dragged their feet.

          2. whingedrinking*

            This is a good point. I’ve had students – typically young and female – who would say “sorry!” whenever I corrected their pronunciation or grammar. In some cases, it took quite a lot of persistence to get them to understand that making mistakes when learning a language isn’t a moral failing, and my correcting it isn’t an inconvenience or an irritation – it’s literally my job. Teaching them to say “thank you” instead was a good way of shifting things to a more positive outlook. “I’m happy I learned something” rather than “I’m embarrassed that I made a mistake.”

        3. Yorick*

          I agree. Say “thank you for waiting” if the wait was because of a long line or something. Say “sorry for being late” if you were rudely late and making someone wait to start a meeting (even if the lateness wasn’t your fault, you can say “sorry i’m late, there was traffic” or whatever).

          1. Indigo a la mode*

            I agree. If you personally actually inconvenienced someone, you should apologize for that or else a thank-you will probably rub the wrong way. Tardiness is a big annoyance for me as well (it’s not a personality trait; if you’re always running late, it’s on you to figure out, not on me to understand/accept about you), so on the rare occasions that I’m late, I feel terrible about making people wait.

            But at work, I think most situations can be resolved with a thanks followed by appropriate action. “I appreciate that feedback and I’ll make sure to do X going forward.” “Oh, okay, I understand now! Thanks for your time on this.” “Whoops! Thanks for the catch. I’m making that edit now.”

      2. EventPlannerGal*

        Honestly I would find it FAR more irritating for someone to thank me for my patience when they’re late. That just seems like you’ve already decided that they must be okay with you being late, and ignores any inconvenience that you’ve caused them. Endless apologies can be irritating but I don’t think thanks are always an appropriate replacement.

        1. Kiki*

          I agree that it’s presumptuous and rude to thank someone for their patience when you’re late, unless you’ve already apologized. As an over-apologizer, I often feel compelled to apologize multiple times which is generally not necessary and tends to make people uncomfortable. I’ve found that I apologizing for being late and then thanking someone for their patience seems to be a good combo. It allows the lateness to be apologized for and acknowledged without the self-flagellating aspect of multiple apologies.

          1. EventPlannerGal*

            Yeah absolutely, I think that’s a perfectly good combo! I just think on a lot of occasions it needs to be a combo, not a replacement.

        2. Ace in the Hole*

          Depends on the situation.

          I’m a few minutes late to a meeting, late picking up a friend, late to dinner? “Sorry I’m late!” Same scenario, but I’m more than a few minutes late? “Sorry I’m late” plus explanation or more serious apology.

          I’m late to a customer’s appointment because I was responding to an actual life-threatening emergency, because my boss assigned me something that prevented me from being on time, or because the office staff double booked me? “Thanks for waiting/thanks for your patience.” Again, with a brief explanation if it was more than a few minutes. Same for delivering late work when something completely outside my control prevented me from finishing on time.

          My expectation of employees/coworkers is that they’re doing their best to be on time. Unless it’s a chronic problem I assume they’re late because of something beyond their control. If it is a chronic problem, then apologies are just as irritating!

          1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

            A few minutes late to a meeting can be worthy of a profuse apology!
            Think about it like this: Person X is late by 10 minutes. 6 other participants are on time, so the latecomer wasted a full person hour.
            I had a grandboss once who threatened to charge this, at full billable rate, to the department of the last confirmed participant to arrive, so 10 minutes late could cost your department’s budget $250.
            Just thinking like this – waiting time costs the company money – helped rein in the tardiness to a manageable level.

            1. MCMonkeyBean*

              For one thing, I think most people would consider 10 to be more than “a few” minutes.

              But also–no, I do not think that is not generally a reasonable way to look at it and that is not how time works.

    6. Newgovemployee*

      +1 on this. As a recovering chronic apologized this is my go to. It’s so easy to get caught in a sorry loop—saying sorry and then saying sorry for saying sorry all the time! It’s helpful to have a different script to fall back on to get out of those language patterns.

      1. Nonprofit Nancy*

        Yeah the reason it’s helpful is because telling someone to stop apologizing may result in a wave of new apologies as they struggle to adjust their behavior, or at least they will WANT to apologize very badly and be distressed that they’re not supposed to. Focusing on what they *should do* instead of what they *shouldn’t do* is often easier for everyone who is trying to change a habit.

    7. OP*

      I appreciate the idea of an alternate script. That would help her when she feels compelled to say something. And yes I am a woman and I think i see myself in her. Ive had to work on not overapologizing, because I think it does give the impression of a lack of confidence or unnecessary blame.

    8. Wintergreen*

      I have been trying to ween myself from apologizing too much, I’ll have to try this! I often don’t know what to say but know I really shouldn’t be apologizing so its just awkward.
      On a side note, it took YEARS but I finally trained myself to just say “Thank You” when receiving a compliment, rather than make a self-depreciating comment to minimize it.

  3. HelloHello*

    Re: Facebook, if you’re not the one using the connected app, then it makes sense to push back here. If you are, though, then it’s likely you’ll have to connect your personal Facebook page. Facebook’s new rules around business accounts require a personal page be connected, largely because of the pushback they’ve gotten around bots/political ads in recent years. It’s a ham fisted way to address the issue, but there isn’t an easy way around it at this point.

    1. Jackalope*

      I think I would still push back anyway. I am 100% not interested in having my personal account connected to my job and I don’t think that’s generally a reasonable ask. I understand that some people feel differently, and some wouldn’t care, but for a lot of people it would be a huge issue.

    2. MK*

      It requires “a” personal page, not the OP’s specifically. That should be the owner of the company, not a random employee who might not be there this time next year.

        1. AcademiaNut*

          The risk there is that it’s against the terms and services, and could get the owner of the account banned from Facebook. If they do this, it should be the company that makes the fake account, not a random employee.

          I do wonder what happens when an employee leaves, though, and takes the connected personal account with them. If they leave on good terms, they might be able to transfer things officially or unofficially, but what happens if they leave on bad terms. Can the company get access to their Facebook page back, or does it stay with the ex-employee?

          1. Jackson Codfish*

            You can have multiple personal accounts serving in different roles for the business page, and just change the roles around when people leave. Your personal account isn’t tied to the business page forever! I manage FB pages as part of my job, and when I’ve left one employer I just transfer my admin role to another employee. It’s easy.

            A business or organization should NEVER have just a single person running its social media accounts. If that person quits, gets fired, gets sick, goes on vacation, etc., you need someone who can step in seamlessly.

            Quite frankly, it sounds like OP and the employer may not completely understand how this all works. It’s not a big deal, and the people already running the page should be able to handle this.

            1. Harper the Other One*

              As someone with an admin role on an organization’s page, though, it’s not just about your personal account being tied to the business forever. I get those “boost this post to reach more of your audience” offers on my personal feed, and because I’m connected to that page, I get different ads/suggested pages to follow/etc.

              It’s completely valid for someone who only uses Facebook for personal purposes not to want their account connected in that way, particularly since OP sounds like they won’t really be running the page.

            2. Wakeen Teapots, LTD*

              We have five employees in marketing (including me) and a principal of the company who are attached, with our real accounts, to our brand pages. Because your back up has to have a back up. which in our case has a back up. This is true for FB, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram,etc. Even Pinterest has a couple of us.

              Don’t screw around with your social media presence ownership. Stories of doing it otherwise make my hair stand on end.

              As far as the OP, asking her to be one back up, well, I mean okay, but the OP does not sound like the right person. Several higher ups/principals are the right people. They don’t have to touch a thing. It is for “in case”. “In case” happens!

          2. Jackson Codfish*

            Oh, forgot – there is theoretically a way to get a page back if it was solely administered by a single former employee, but it’s hard. There are a lot of hoops to jump through.

          3. Allonge*

            Does anyone have experience with how likely this is to happen? How does FB monitor it anyway? (Serious questionn, by the way.)

            1. pancakes*

              Presumably the same way it monitors everything else, from third party data-scraping à la Cambridge Analytica to the use of its platform to facilitate genocide: fecklessly.

      1. Dave*

        Our company owner is the admin. The problem is their use of technology sucks. Unfortunately 10+ years later and several role changes in the company I am still one of the Facebook admins and constantly have to be the one to add or delete people. I keep trying to give the role to someone who does day to day management (and is a manager themselves) but it never actually works.
        If the LW gets stuck as the page admin I would definitely use a work email and make a new account. I hate all the notifications and sometimes the friend suggestions get creepy.

        1. Persephone Underground*

          This sounds like a classic case where the boss’ account should *be* the company account. They give the social media person their password and done. Granted, this only works if the boss doesn’t use their personal account for personal things and/or trusts the designated person not to mess with it, but as a former admin assistant logging into things technically under my boss’ name wasn’t unusual, so this seems similar. If the secondary access is only given to one person they know they will be on the hook if anything goes wrong with the personal account, so the risk is lower than it may at first seem.

    3. NotAnotherTeenLibrarian*

      I haven’t read through everything, but here is my work Facebook account”horror” story. We were required to set up Facebook accounts using specific work email accounts, this is partially due to open records request and working for a government agency. Facebook figured out it was a duplicate account and would not let me sign up with my work email, without connecting my personal cell phone number. My job does not require a work cell phone for any reason, and I wasn’t going to fight this. I went to my boss and said I’m not connecting my personal Facebook account to the work account, as I’m just a second or third person to manage the page. We did manage to find a work around, but part of it is not in line with my organizations rules, and part of it is not in line with Facebook’s rules. So it’s more than just connecting a personal facebook account- they can and will lock you out with out your cell phone number.

      1. Nonprofit Nancy*

        I hate, hate, hate tying my cell phone number to anything. That is the next-level-intrusive, IMO – and increasingly common.

      2. Facebook Grinch*

        Agree with this. I started a new job in 2019 and tried to set up a dummy fake account with my work address, as many many people have in years past. I attempted to use a fake photograph(a cute internet baby), name (Basically FirstName WorkName), email (MyName@WorkName), and pretty sure they wanted a phone number.

        Do not do this in 2019+post years.

        My work email has been banned from creating a Facebook account. I ended up needing to use my personal account anyway. I am *supremely* salty about this but I am the first person on the social media responsibilities.

        1. NotAnotherTeenLibrarian*

          Exactly, Facebook Grinch, my work email is banned from creating a Facebook account, and our new Social Media person can not set up an account with her work e-mail because it’s tagged as “suspicious”. We are using non-work approved e-mail to do work, and I’m not sure what we will do if it doesn’t let her add a personal account at all. It might also be that we are on our 3 social media person in about 3 years, but that’s another story.

        2. Persephone Underground*

          Maybe an account that’s as real as possible, save the work email (or a fresh email created for the purpose like socialmediacompanyname@gmail.com) would do better? Fake names and pictures seem more likely to trip filters than an account that’s real but shares a first and last name but nothing else with another account (your personal one). The phone thing is dumb but can probably be updated or the account can be closed if you leave, as long as it’s one of many accounts with access.

    4. Kuddel Daddeldu*

      At a previous company, the owner’s dog and our office mascot, a goldfish, had their own FB accounts that were used for the (really low key) FB presence. “They” posted human interest stuff as well as days we were closed etc.; as a business consulting firm, Facebook was not important at all for us. That was years ago.
      At my current job, we have a professional social media team, but LinkedIn is definitely more important than FB – I’m not even sure if we have a presence there.
      Myself, I had a FB account once for two weeks or so as it was needed for one specific thing. I only ever used it on a browser installed for the purpose and later uninstalled, so all traces are gone.

  4. Courtney*

    LW#2, it’ll take some encouragement to unlearn this. But I managed it and now I confidently say things like ‘may I interrupt you for a minute – I have a question/didn’t understand/etc’ instead of ‘sorry for bothering you’, and I no longer apologise for mistakes, I acknowledge them and state how to avoid it in future, ‘Ok, so X can’t receive things via post because of the lock down in their area, I will email this document to them, and let them know the paper copy is in their PO box when they’re able to get it’. This really helped me feel more professionally confident and I believe it also helped me in my personal life :) Good luck to you and the new hire.

    1. Marni*

      I trained myself to say “Thank you for understanding” or “thank you for your patience” instead of “I’m sorry [for letting you down]”

      1. Courtney*

        That doesn’t flow as naturally for me, but I definitely see that as another positive alternative

        1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          I’ve started doing it, and although it doesn’t feel natural I’ve noticed that people glow when thanked, rather than feel annoyed at the reminder of your slip-up when you apologise. I love it! I have an uber-apologiser as a friend and I’ve been known to scold her for excessive apologising and begged her to thank me instead, it works sometimes and we laugh it off and move on and it’s getting better with every laugh. She now joke-apologises so we laugh even more, but in other situations she is now managing not to apologise at all (she reports back to me in mock patient style as if I were her non-apology coach/therapist about how proud she felt refusing to apologise for this or that with various people)

      2. KateM*

        I have seen it too much used as “of course you are understanding, right? it’s no biggie I let you down, after all!”.

        1. EventPlannerGal*

          Yeah, I’m not a huge fan of it as a catch-all replacement for “sorry” as I think it can often come across as quite presumptuous. It definitely has its place, but there’s a lot of contexts where I would kind of side-eye someone using it.

    2. AthenaC*

      This is helpful – particularly when “sorry” is used as an opening, it helps to insert something else instead. “May I interrupt you for a minute” works great, as does a simple “Quick question – ” or “May I ask – ” or “Can I clarify quickly – “

      1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

        For this I’ve been taught “Excuse me” – does this now sound dated? I’m not a native speaker.
        And I don’t mean the passive-aggressive version that is used to signal someone offended you, rightfully or not.

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          I’d say “excuse me” is fine – it does also get used aggressively or ironically, but in most English-speaking regions it’s perfectly suitable.

    3. Mimmy*

      I am a chronic apologizer myself and definitely need to work on being “professionally confident”. For example, instead of saying “sorry to bother you”, I’m starting to go with “do you have a second/minute?”. I have a long way to go though because I’m always asking questions and I get upset if I make a mistake, especially if it’s during an interaction with a coworker or consumer.

      1. Nonprofit Nancy*

        For me too, I do have to consciously adapt how many times I’m interrupting / asking questions – I can’t just fall back on using “sorry” as a way to do it with slightly more socially acceptability! At least it shows some self awareness – but honestly for me I sometimes just need to try to stop the behavior!

      2. Ann Nonymous*

        I sometimes say, “I see I made a mistake/made an error/put the wrong info in…let me correct that.”

    4. Jen*

      As a tangent to this, many years ago I consciously trained myself to say “pardon?” instead of “sorry?” when needing to ask someone to repeat something that I didn’t hear the first time. It’s another way to cut down on the use of “sorry.”

  5. SJZ*

    LW #4: Can you create a similar account, like if your personal Facebook is Regina George, maybe create one for the business, ReggieAnn George or make it clear it’s a personal account to be used for business? It may be against FB’s TOS, though, not sure. What about using one of my favorite of Alison’s strategies, and say, “Oh, what an odd request–you know I keep my personal and business lives separated on purpose. Sorry, I won’t be able to do that.” (In the breezy tone that of course they’ll understand and let someone who doesn’t have that set in place.)

    LW #3: My boss has dual screens set up, and has her IMs come to the screen she is not sharing. It’s not fool-proof and I’ve seen stuff I probably shouldn’t have, she was aware and moved that program to the non-shared screen, and we both moved on, without ever discussing since I am discreet and it wasn’t my business. Maybe sharing that information with your boss is a way to subtly let your boss know you saw, and giving him a way to prevent it in the future, if he doesn’t already know how to do that.

    1. SJZ*

      *let someone who doesn’t separate business/personal like the company’s owner or someone with a bigger stake in it create the account and then let you or someone else manage it if they can’t/don’t want to.

    2. KayEss*

      That’s how we did it when I had to create a Facebook account to be a backup on work social media functions. Use a name that could plausibly be yours—like your middle name and last name, or a nickname/variant of your first name—and populate it with a bare minimum of corroborating details. The key was to be able to convincingly assert that the account represented the name/details on your ID, because the most basic level of checking Facebook did at the time if they had reason to suspect an account was to lock it until the owner provided “proof” that a real individual represented by the account exists. That was a few years ago now, but I’d imagine that unless your business page is doing something shady it would still likely slip under the radar. They can’t check EVERYONE. (The business page should always have multiple accounts linked to it, though. People quit or become unavailable, and replacing an existing business page with a new one is a nightmare.)

      Of course, in this case the LW should absolutely just push back on this weird demand unrelated to their job duties.

    3. Batgirl*

      When I was a reporter I did this genuinely; it was my page, but it was the page of my work persona. So for example, superman news and business connections took place on one account, connecting with Smallville family and friends on another. I named both as Clarke Kent but added my nickname to the personal account.

      1. blackcat*

        Yeah, a reporter friend of mine does this with FB and twitter. “Nickname LastName” is personal and “First MI last” is his professional stuff.

      2. Guacamole Bob*

        My former boss did this. He had a wide network related to our work, many of whom he considered friends, and wanted to be able to accept their friend requests. But his personal friend circle was largely connected to a specific subculture in our city and half of them were shirtless in their profile photos and otherwise acted very different online than most of his professional friends, so he wanted to keep his worlds separate.

    4. Nonprofit Nancy*

      Unfortunately, the “what an odd request” route isn’t going to work here, as sadly this is standard practice now for social media. You may come off as the one who doesn’t get it.

    5. Kuddel Daddeldu*

      NEVER share your primary screen (the one with the clock in the lower-right corner), that’s the one getting the pop-ups.
      Better yet, share an individual program/window, like PowerPoint or Excel. This way you are in full control of what you are presenting.

  6. Lilyp*

    For #2, try to keep the focus on the substance of your employee’s reactions/behaviors and don’t get distracted trying to ban the word “sorry” specifically. She needs to know that it’s expected and ok to ask questions, that one calm apology to clients is more professional, that she’s not going to get in trouble for minor mistakes, etc. Policing how she speaks won’t solve the root of her anxieties and will just give her another thing to worry about! Besides, “sorry” has legitimate colloquial meanings besides “I’m taking responsibility for an error I made” — it can mean “excuse me” or “I know I’m interrupting” or “I’m softening the awkward thing I’m about to say” or “I’m showing sympathy for something bad that happened to you”, and I think people are too quick to jump to telling people (especially women) to never use it at all.

    (Background: as a woman in a male-dominated field I used to worry a lot about these kinds of language rules and unconsciously undermining myself, and I spent a lot of energy second-guessing the way I spoke and wrote. I got a lot happier and more relaxed when I decided that since there was no one perfect way I could talk that would stop people from being sexist, I might as well just talk however came naturally to me and let the cards fall where they may. I think pointing out patterns women fall into because of gendered socialization can be useful, but it can also edge into focusing too much on changing/policing women’s speech or behavior instead of focusing on actual systemic sexism or pushing back on sexist attitudes in the rest of the world.)

    1. Lilyp*

      New rule: anytime you advise a woman to change a speech habit because of a gendered pattern you need to tell three men to think about that same gendered speech pattern and reconsider how it might make them take people more or less seriously and how they can change that attitude

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Ideally yes. But I can only control my own actions.
          At least until I’m appointed generalissimo (generalissima? generalissimx?), in which case I’ll make it a requirement for wearing adult clothing.

        2. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

          In some places, eg Canada, men are quite likely to apologize reflexively. The attitude I’ve seen on the internet is still generally, “you should stop apologizing so much.”

        3. Spencer Hastings*

          This. I’m aware of the movement for replacing “sorry” with “thank you”, but to me, in a lot of cases, “sorry” signals “I am aware of my actions’ effects on others” while a “thank you” for the same thing feels a bit like forced teaming. So yeah, if men apologize less, then maybe they should consider the effects of their actions on other people a little more.

          1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

            I habitually apologize to visitors for my home town’s frequent if light rain (think Seattle).
            Totally out of my control, of course, but as a host I feel responsible for giving my guests an enjoyable stay.

    2. Alice906*

      Thank you for this reply!! You perfectly put into words my feelings about the current critiques of “sorry.”

    3. Ali G*

      I disagree! Sorry is an apology. Just because it is used in different contexts doesn’t make it anything other than an apology. If you didn’t do something to apologize for, don’t apologize! That’s the whole point. Women tend to apologize for things that do not require an apology and it makes us look weaker and lacking confidence.
      If you want to say excuse me, say excuse me, don’t apologize for it.
      If you need to ask a question, ask a question, and don’t apologize for it or for taking someone’s time. Thank them for taking the time.

      1. juliebulie*

        Yes!
        But maybe it’s hard for some people to process those distinctions when they’re in the moment. I’m sure it takes some practice.

      2. Nonprofit Nancy*

        That’s the point though, is that it’s a common use of the phrase to say “sorry” when you mean, “I realize this is inconvenient.” Most people understand that it’s not truly a literal admission of guilt and error when used this way. Instead of policing the cultures that use it this way, we could also investigate why one use is “right” and the other common use is “wrong.”

      3. JB (not in Houston)*

        But it’s *not* always an apology! Saying “I’m sorry” is just describing a feeling the speaker has. It literally means “I’m feeling distress or regret or sympathy about something.” The feeling could be in reaction to regretting doing something wrong, or it could be feeling sympathy for another’s bad situation. When you use it express sympathy, you’re definitely not saying you feel compunction or regret! And sometimes you use to express a feeling that is very slight or isn’t there at all. You could be feeling a little bit bad for interrupting someone, knowing that it’s not always a bad thing to do but also knowing that the interrupted person might feel taken aback or inconvenienced, and so you express feeling a slight bit of regret as social lubricant to smooth it over and acknowledge what just happened. But in that case, you are still just expressing your feelings about something. That’s why people use it to get out of making actual apologies, so they can say they apologized without actually saying they were wrong. “I’m sorry that you feel that way,” e.g., as opposed to “I apologize for making you feel that way.”

        “I apologize” is an apology. “I’m sorry” is only sometimes an apology.

      4. EventPlannerGal*

        I think that’s very literal and not really reflective of how many people use the word. I also think that a lot of people use it because they do lack confidence, or instinctively as a result of anxiety/trauma, and I don’t see how overly literal nitpicking of their word choices is supposed to help build that confidence, especially when you’re framing it as letting the side down.

      5. MCMonkeyBean*

        This is just flat out inaccurate. Lots of words have multiple meanings, and “sorry” is one of them. “Sorry” is simply an expression of “sorrow.” People feel sorrow for many reasons. Merriam-Webster actually lists the sympathy use of the words as the first definition. then the second definition they list is the one about “feeling regret or penitence.”

        It is very odd to say “people may try to use it for the other meaning but they are wrong and only the meaning I personally intend is reasonable.”

    4. EllieN*

      If my manager needs to correct something about my behavior, I’d prefer he or she not assume that my error is because I’m a woman. That would make me doubt the objectivity of the manager and wonder if he or she is sexist, honestly. I was surprised to see Alison suggest that.

      As an aside, I had a manager who was really into horoscopes. He’d frame feedback like, “I know as an Aires” (or whatever) “you’re inclined to handle conflict in X way, but with this client I need you to do Y instead going forward.” Drove me nuts. Obviously, genders aren’t astrological signs, but something about bosses assuming my motives or the origins of my behavior has always rubbed me wrong.

    5. Koala dreams*

      I think this is a good point. English is not my first language, and it took me a long time to learn the meanings of sorry beyond apologies. I was confused when I first heard “Sorry, do you have a minute” (I expected “Excuse me” instead”) or “I’m sorry for your loss” (Why would you apologize in that situation?).

  7. Kiitemso*

    #4 I hate FB for reasons like this. I have a duplicate account linked to my work’s Business account and thank god, too, since for aeons nobody at my work knew how to stop the notifications from the Business side from appearing on their personal accounts. The duplicate account was ‘locked’ for a while because I hadn’t uploaded a profile picture (another dumb FB requirement) but eventually I was able to use it.

    If you’re not a big business running customer service via Facebook then I don’t really see why anybody except the marketing people/social media manager needs access to the FB Business page so really I would push back on the idea overall.

    1. Belgian*

      At an old job we had a personal account we shared to use the business page. The personal account got locked because there was no activity on it, but it was used to access and post to the business page. Facebook is really annoying about this.
      I think professional social media managers mostly use Facebook Business Manager to keep their personal account separate from the pages they manage.

  8. MC*

    #2 -I read/heard somewhere that over-apologizing can be a sign that someone’s dealt with some sort of trauma. I don’t know how a manager would deal with it if that was the case, though.

    1. AcademiaNut*

      Excessive apologizing and self-denigration can both come out of trauma or dysfunctional family backgrounds (along with a bunch of other issues that can affect work). But I think you deal with it pretty much the same way you would otherwise. You address the behaviour and why it can cause a problem professionally, and it’s up to the employee to figure out the details. I suppose you could discreetly suggest that seeking out professional help, but I have trouble thinking of how to word “Maybe you should see a therapist about that” in an appropriate professional context.

      Ultimately, it’s not a manager’s role, or professionally appropriate, to provide psychological therapy to their employees.

    2. I'm A Little Teapot*

      While yes, it can, it’s far more common for it to be a bad habit. And really, in a work context, the way you address it shouldn’t change.

    3. D3*

      Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t, but there’s no need for you to jump to those conclusions, especially if you’re not that person’s therapist.
      Please don’t assume that someone who apologizes a lot is doing it because of trauma. That’s a HUGE and probably untrue leap.

    4. Jennifer Thneed*

      Well, sure, people have lots of ways that they react to trauma. But “I read/heard somewhere” does not inspire confidence in that idea, and besides lots of folks are just really insecure or very anxious. I prefer to check my memories before posting stuff like this so I can be sure that my memory is accurate, and more than once I’ve found out that I was slightly or completely wrong. In any case, I just did a search on “over-apologize sign of trauma” and got back some really interesting-looking search results. I’m not linking here because that would hang up my reply in moderation, but I recommend it.

  9. RebelwithMouseyHair*

    OP1 please do set the record straight with your boss, especially as she seems unaware that you are still struggling with symptoms! Tell her when you’ve had a hard night or coughing fit or whatever, she should know that you are battling on despite covid rather than you recovered fully.

    And I wish you a full recovery too, it’s really not fair that you have still to contend with this sh1t.

    1. LW1*

      Thanks! I’m doing so much better than many people that it feels kind of churlish to complain, but honestly? Long-tail COVID is a menace.

      I did actually manage to drop ongoing symptoms into conversation today but I chickened out of using Alison’s full script. I’m grateful to Alison for responding so quickly, because I now have that script for when it comes up again. It will definitely come up again.

      1. MicroManagered*

        Personally I wouldn’t see my boss telling people I had covid as “sharing medical information” quite the same as like, sharing that someone has infertility or HIV or takes bipolar medication–something that’s understandably private. (Others are entitled to disagree and of course the boss should keep it 100% private if that’s what you want… this is just my opinion.)

        The bigger issue to me is that she’s spreading misconception about how bad it was. This: “For around a week, I was pretty much unconscious, and for some time after that I was able to do only a minimum of work. Months later, I am still not back at full health and tire easily” is pretty serious! And a lot of people think it’s not this bad.

        If it were me, I’d try to correct her in the moment. Next time she says “Jane had Covid but she’s better now.” I’d say “Oh nooooo actually I still have (symptom) pretty regularly and get tired very easily. They’re finding that even people who recover from covid sometimes have long-lasting symptoms, some even have permanent damage to their lungs!”

        1. BadWolf*

          I was thinking similar “Well, I’m working towards better. Definitely improving.” But that’s probably better for internal use. For external, it might make your clients nervous (is LW unwell? Contagious? Are they making LW work when unwell?) and generally dings your boss in public where you probably want a united front.

        2. Bubble teacher*

          I don’t know, I really empathize with OP coming at it from the other side. My workplace is only providing PPE to folks who are high risk. I’ve never been at all reluctant to talk about my illness and do so openly, but being one of the few people visually singled out as high risk makes me really, really uncomfortable.
          Best wishes for your continuing recovery OP!

          1. Keymaster of Gozer*

            That’s really inappropriate of them. Covid can kill the healthy and low risk just as efficiently as it does is higher risk people. They should provide PPE to all.

          2. MicroManagered*

            What you are describing sounds like a different problem. I’m saying I wouldn’t think it’s a huge deal if someone knew I had covid and recovered. Your job is singling people out instead of providing PPE to all, which is what they should be doing.

          3. IrishMN*

            That seems really odd, because things like masks are actually to prevent a person from getting others sick. So everyone wearing masks actually keeps the high risk people (and everyone else) safer.

      2. BadWolf*

        Is she telling this to new clients? If so, I might say “Hey, I don’t want my new clients to only ever think of me as the person with COVID — I’d rather they think of business-y stuff first.”

        But I would be annoyed too — even if I’d recovered 100%. If it were to explain a long illness that impacted long term clients, I could understand it (to assure them there was a reason I was gone, but I was back and business is stable). But telling random clients for no particular reason when you’re not magically well, totally annoying. And I might be concerned that Boss is expecting me at 100% work product when I’m maybe not there yet or thinks maybe I’m slacking or milking it if I need extra time off.

  10. TechWorker*

    For the Facebook one, surely everyone who currently needs access should have their personal account connected. Then no-one needs the log in details of another’s personal account (you can sure as hell bet I’m not giving those my employer). The owner (or someone else senior) should have access *too* so they can remove/add people as required.

    (If someone says ‘but I don’t have Facebook’, well even better, create your account solely for this purpose without going against the T&C, and don’t add any ‘friends’)

    1. Phoenix from the ashes*

      I don’t think you appreciate how strongly us FB-refusniks refuse to use FB. I wouldn’t set up an account in my own name for an employer for any money, and it’s a hill I absolutely would die on. I’ve lost friends over it, because so many people only use FB and nothing else. It’s a huge shame, but I won’t use FB.

      1. JSPA*

        Seconded. I was around for the first days, didn’t like the sociology of it (nor trust the minds or algorithms) it back then. Not going to start now.

      2. Harper the Other One*

        I get people who don’t want to use Facebook! But this is about a job managing social media. I think it’s reasonable either to assume that people managing a business’ social media account either already use social media, or for an employer to say “because this is part of your responsibility, you need a Facebook account.”

        Of course you as an employee could decide not to set one up, but if you’re firmly in the “I do not use Facebook and never will” camp I’d be a bit surprised if a business would select you as their social media person!

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          But OP is NOT the social media manager! OP just needs to use an add-on function that has gotten linked to FB.

      3. TechWorker*

        There is a difference though between feeling mandated to use Facebook to respond to friends messages, or people only organising things via Facebook (both annoying if you don’t want your data out there) and having an account solely for work. No-ones making you sign in…?

      4. soon to be former fed really*

        I’m with you. No Facebook, not now, not ever. I refuse to participate in Mark Zuckerberg’s world domination of fakery. It’s the least I can do to have some semblance of privacy, although I know it is a lost cause really. Everyone assumes everyone else has or wants an FB account, and they should stop it.

      5. LifeBeforeCorona*

        I have a relative who has no social media presence at all and refuses to have a cell phone. They will use email, thankfully, otherwise they are cut off from family. I have FB because we do have a large extended family and it’s the only way to keep up to date.

        1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

          I don’t have Facebook. For family stuff, we used to have WhatsApp, now moved to Signal; for business there’s LinkedIn and Yammer (internal to the company).
          If I needed to use Facebook for business, I’d not only set up a bland, 100% professional account with no “friends” but also install a separate web browser (e.g. Firefox) that will used for Facebook only, and never log in to FB on my “personal stuff” (Brave) or “business” (Edge) browsers. FB is notorious for tracking, and I would give them as little data as possible. The Facebook browser I’d also set up so that all cookies will be deleted when I close it.

    2. Aglaia761*

      Business Manager was created exactly for this reason. There’s no need to create a fake profile.

  11. Alice's Rabbit*

    Op5, “It was a shorter commute.” is a great reason. Vague enough, especially if you don’t give details about which company you went with, but it doesn’t say anything negative about job B. Or “I could carpool with a neighbor/roommate who works nearby.”

    1. BTDT*

      As a business owner the “shorter/longer/too long commute” is a huge red flag. You took the job knowing the distance. Unless the company moved to a new location it shouws a serious lack of judgement and, at least in my experience, is a sign of a flake. To the point I no longer hire people who use that excuse for changing jobs. Be truthful/tactful, we all get that the current time is extraordinary and it shouldn’t hurt you at all. Alison’s response is perfect.

      1. londonedit*

        But they’re not saying ‘I left my last job because the commute was too long’, they’re saying ‘Your offer and Job A’s offer were so close, but ultimately the only thing that swayed me towards Job A was a slightly shorter commute. However, thanks to Covid, Job A is no longer viable, so I’d love to have the opportunity to throw my hat back into the ring for Job B if you’re still hiring’.

      2. Karo*

        Alison’s response requires a reason, though. And the key difference between this instance and the other ones that you treat as a red flag is that the OP’s not using it as a “excuse for changing jobs,” she’s using it as a small, non-business-related reason why she took Job A. She’s changing jobs because COVID effectively cancelled the position after she had accepted. I’d rather hear that the commute was a factor than she didn’t want to do the type of work she’d have to do at Job B, or didn’t like the people or the company.

        Also, I’d encourage you to rethink your stance. People’s circumstances change. They may have successfully done the commute for years, then had a baby and wanted to spend more time at home or got a puppy and needed to be home by 6 to let the dog out. Maybe they had to move for a family member or to get out of a bad situation. Maybe the public transport that they used changed and now they have to take 3 busses instead of 1. Or maybe they legitimately thought they could handle it and realized they made a mistake.

      3. Anononon*

        This sounds a little extreme. There’s a major difference between intellectually knowing that a job is, say, 20 miles away and knowing that means an hour drive through awful traffic.

        Also, people’s situations change where a shorter commute is more necessary than it was, such as having children or a family member they need to care for. (And, often those reasons why a shorter commute is better aren’t ones that the person will directly want to share.)

      4. soon to be former fed really*

        This is a bit harsh. The job could have been accepted because of desperation, and it is not a lack of judgement to accept work far from where you live when you need employment right now so the distance isn’t your first consideration. People do what they have to do to survive, I’ve done it too. I’m hardly a flake, LOL. People do the best they can until they can do better. Have a little compassion, it won’t hurt you.

      5. Generic Name*

        Ouch. I guess I’m a flake because I left my first job after grad school job that had an hour plus commute when I was pregnant because I didn’t want my infant in daycare for 11 hours a day? Nevermind that I’d been in that job for several years and was in my next job for 3+ years and have been in my current job for 9 years. Yep, total flake.

        1. Colette*

          I don’t think it’s flaky – but I do think that it’s not a great reason (even though it’s true)! In your case “ready for new challenges” would have worked.

          1. SwitchingGenres*

            Why should she have to say something as vague as “ready for new challenges” when “my commute becane too long and I need to prioritize time with my family” is true and more specific? I’ve been on hiring committees and to me the latter is concrete and tells me something about the applicant. The former is so bague as to be meaningless and I’d probably ask a follow-up question about exactly what challenges. (Nor would I want to work for someone who automatically thinks everyone who gets tired of a long commute is a flake.)

      6. MD*

        I’ve always thought that wanting a short commute should be viewed positively, or at least not negatively. If I have a short commute I am a much more flexible employee–I can stay a bit later and be more available to others because I don’t have to worry about catching the last train or traffic or daycare late fees or missing out on family/personal time, etc. I also don’t end up feeling like all I do is eat, sleep and work, which can lead to burnout.

        Commute also eats into compensation. An employee with a log commute spends more money on public transit or gas and car maintenance. With the ability to work from home 100% of the time since covid hit, I have been saving +$300/month on public transit, as well as 2hrs 40 mins of my personal time. That is nothing to sneeze at. Obviously, a long commute did not stop me from taking my current job, but it really is one of the only things about my job that is dissatisfying. If two job opportunities are otherwise equal, I will take the shorter commute hands down every time.

        1. LifeBeforeCorona*

          I worked two jobs for a while. Job A which I loved was a 40 minute commute and Job B was okay but it was a 5 minute commute. If I had to choose I would take Job B because of the time spend on the road even though Job A was a lovely country drive.

      7. Yorick*

        People’s lives change and a long commute can become worse, even though the commute time is the same.

        Also, you don’t always take a job knowing the commute you’ll have later – people can move after they’ve taken a job, and they don’t always have complete control over the location.

      8. Name Required*

        What a strange thing to be a red flag. People need to move — to take care of family, to get their kids into a better school system, to buy a house within their price range, to be near specialized medical care — for reasons that have nothing to do with a serious lack of judgement. Good jobs with good professional opportunities and fair compensation aren’t also equally divided over the land. Sometimes commuting is the only option available to either find an available job at all, or to find a suitable position for a specific professional background.

  12. MistOrMister*

    Talk about an awkward situation with OP3!! I think I would say something to the boss because it seems like he might not be tech savvy enough to have realized what was going on and really, no one wants these types of things to happen. The poor coworker!! I cannot imagine how embarrassed I would feel to be on a screenshare with the department and have a message about my potential PIP come up for all and sundry to see. How awful!!

    1. The Other Dawn*

      I agree. I’m a manager and I’d want someone to tell me if I accidentally shared something I shouldn’t have, or forgot to stop sharing my screen so I’m more careful in the future. It’s easy to make a mistake in meeting apps. In our meeting app we can share either a document or a screen. More than once I didn’t realize I was sharing only the document when I meant to share the screen. It made for a confusing meeting the first time because no one spoke up about it and I didn’t realize I’d made a mistake.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Same here. I became compulsive about sharing only the monitor that doesn’t display email & Skype notifications.
        That said, I understand how it might happen if they’ve just migrated to a new communications app. We recently switched to MS Teams, and the chats are TOO integrated with calls & screen presentation. I am still getting popups from time to time and haven’t figured out why.

        1. noahwynn*

          Yes! We’ve had multiple cases where someone typed a message in the Teams meeting chat that was meant for an individual. Some were benign but at least one was soemthing that proably shouldn’t have been shared with the group and caused hurt feelings.

    2. Ali G*

      Yes they should definitely tell the boss. Even better if they know how to mute the pop-us while in meeting they should let their boss know how to do that. Zoom has settings where chats don’t pop-up and notifications are muted, etc.

      1. Alexander Graham Yell*

        Yep, or even just a heads up that it’s best to share an application vs. a screen – it won’t block the pop up from coming in but it will block it from appearing on the screen and it’s not a huge change. (It’s a bit clunkier when you have to switch between screens while you’re sharing, but I’d rather deal with that and know that nobody is seeing things they shouldn’t.)

        1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

          Agreed, share an application so you are in control.
          When you really need to share a screen (like when working together on multiple documents), get a two-monitor set up and share the non-primary screen (without the clock in the taskbar).

    3. Generic Name*

      Agreed. I’m wondering about the mix of programs your company uses. My company uses teams and it’s set up to not show any notifications (chats in teams, email or calendar alerts) when your screen is shared. I wonder if there’s a setting your boss (and everyone else) could change to stop this from happening again.

      1. LW#3*

        The mix of programs is definitely a contributing issue! Boss was sharing with Teams and got the IM in Skype. We are in the process of switching from Skype to Teams. We are supposed to use only Teams now, but some people (including my boss’s boss) still IM with Skype. I myself keep Skype open so that she and others who are looking for me don’t think I’m offline… sigh. I’m hoping IT will just remove Skype at some point.

        1. Gumby*

          Teams *does* let you share just a window/app rather than your whole desktop. It might be a good interim solution while not everyone is fully switched over. I almost never share my screen unless I know I’ll need to switch back and forth between programs multiple times. Otherwise I just share one window.

  13. cncx*

    RE OP3, AAM’s base reasoning is the right one (it’s not your problem it’s your boss’) but also, depending on how poor/toxic your HR is, i wouldn’t say anything at all. Something similar happened once where i was the one who saw the info about me. I resigned and mentioned it in my exit interview, HR basically gaslit me and said i didn’t see what i saw and that i was lying for drama and so on…that hurt worse than the actual slipup.

  14. anonanna*

    I also had COVID (last month) and thankfully it was really mild- low grade fever and no taste/smell for about a week. I’m 22 and rarely get sick so the worst part was having a fever, since I’m not used to it! (And being really pale and sweaty in Zoom meetings but not being able to tell anyone why!) Thankfully my bosses were really discreet and accommodating. I haven’t told many people in my life that I had it but I’m trying to be more open about it- I feel like the only time I see COVID reported on in young people is really scary, so if I can share my experience while still advocating caution I’m glad to do so. All these COVID queries on here make me so thankful for my job and how they handled it!

      1. soon to be former fed really*

        Yeah, this type of secrecy contributes to the virus spreading. People you have been around need to know if you have a positive covid-19 diagnosis, that’s the premise of contact tracing, the lack thereof which has contributed to the almost 170,000 deaths and counting in the US (this number is likely low). Tragic and reprehensible. The present government is not ever going to do right, so individuals must dowhat they can to protect publich health.

        1. Allie*

          This seems like a stretch. They were working remotely, who said this person was even seeing her coworkers

        2. Lemon Zinger*

          I strongly disagree. If you work remotely full-time, there’s no need to tell anyone you work with that you’re sick, unless it affects your work– and then it’s only between you and your manager.

          I WFH full time and haven’t seen my coworkers in person since December, so why would I tell them anything about my health? I don’t dictate how they act in regards to COVID as their personal lives are none of my business either.

      2. BadWolf*

        The top reason I’d be concerned about telling people is if they wanted to pick apart where I got it and where I went wrong (like the nosy/judgy version of contact tracing). Or being told it was a conspiracy and I didn’t have it. Or being the reason people can’t visit Grandma.

        I am glad you really did have the mild version! I hope you have no continuing symptoms!

  15. Grim*

    #1Wouldn’t your manager, who is sharing your personal medical information, be causing a HIPPA violation in this case? Wouldn’t they need your permission first?

    Maybe Allison could chime in.

    1. noahwynn*

      HIPAA doesn’t generally apply to anyone besides insurance companies and healthcare providers and business associates that contract with either. In general, unless the person is involved in healthcare, they are not a covered entity.

      Doesn’t mean it isn’t unethical and rude to share personal medical information of others, but it is not a HIPAA violation.

    2. JKP*

      HIPPA only applies to specific medical professions and people who handle your insurance. HIPPA is not a blanket medical privacy law.

  16. Sher_Bert*

    Using Microsoft Teams for team meetings will keep this pop up incident from happening. When you’re sharing a screen in Teams, it defaults to Do Not Disturb and prevents IMs from coming through. Highly recommend!

    1. Spencer Hastings*

      We primarily use Teams, but we use Zoom and Webex sometimes as well. (Based on what I’ve heard, I think there’s a limit to the number of people who can be in a Teams video call, and that’s why we use Zoom for larger meetings.) Teams only blocks the popups when you’re specifically sharing your screen through Teams, I believe.

      1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

        Yes, Teams has a limit of 300 (active) participants in a meeting and 20,000 in a planned event (can be upgraded to 100,000 by a call to Microsoft). That’s enough for us; I don’t know Zoom’s limits.

    2. LW #3*

      We use teams but still have Skype on our computers, and boss’s boss usually IMs with Skype. Anyone know if we can block Skype/other notifications while presenting in Teams?

  17. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

    It’s the MULTIPLE sorry thing that truly gets my goat.

    Apologies for things like not knowing a thing that you don’t know are bad enough. But when I have to listen through a whole lot of grovelling before I can find out what someone needs my brain starts curdling.

    I find myself responding to my Sorry/So Sorry/Maybe I Should Come Back Later colleague with less than gracious and more than impatient “You and I are here to work, and this is a work question, so please just spit it out” responses.

    And my other colleague … the Let Me Send You an IM to Thank You For The Tiny Bit of Help You Gave Me Yesterday Now That You’ve Completely Forgotten the Moment … same darned thing.

    Enough already. They’re definitely not doing it to be performative but I often experience it that way.

    Sometimes my coaching on the issue goes something like “hey, I’m more than happy to help, and you know I like you, just say the thing. No apologies necessary and they’re just getting in the way of much more interesting things we could be saying to each other.”

    1. BonnieVoyage*

      I think part of the problem is that if you’re the sort of person who says sorry a lot, when someone snaps “this is a work question so please just spit it out” at you, your first instinct is going to be… to say sorry. And then maybe say sorry even more the next time you have a question because you know that this person thinks you’re annoying. It’s a kind of an unfortunate feedback loop.

    2. Actual Vampire*

      The thing that really gets me about the over-apologizers in my life is that they don’t seem to understand the difference between behavior that warrants a true apology and behavior that warrants an instinctive “sorry!”

      I’ll get “Omg sorry I have a question” and “Omg sorry I killed your dog” from the same person and there’s no difference in the tone or seriousness of the apology. There’s also no indication that they will change their behavior now that they have apologized.

      It makes me wonder about their judgement and decision-making skills. If you over-apologize every time you ask a question, why are you still asking questions? Do you think asking questions is necessary but shameful? In that case, you’re not a trustworthy employee, because what if someday you’re too ashamed to ask a very important question?

      Or do you think your specific questions are actually unnecessary and not worthy of asking? In that case, why are you interrupting me to ask instead of choosing a different way to find the answer? If you think what you are doing is wrong, why are you doing it?

      1. MarsJenkar*

        ‘The thing that really gets me about the over-apologizers in my life is that they don’t seem to understand the difference between behavior that warrants a true apology and behavior that warrants an instinctive “sorry!” ‘

        This may actually be the case for some people, especially if it turns out they’re on the autism spectrum. I remember reading a comment about someone who *was* on the spectrum (I wanna say the comment was on this site), and he defaulted to apologizing too much because the alternative for him was *not apologizing at all*. The reason it was all-or-nothing? He couldn’t read any social situations well enough to tell when it was necessary to apologize and when it was appropriate not to. He defaulted to over-apologizing because it was the safer option.

      2. Grapey*

        +1

        I’ve avoided pulling certain people with this behavior onto some of my projects (roles where they would need to collaborate with external customers). The way they use ‘sorry’ is meant to deflect criticism, not as a genuine expression of regret/something to learn from, and that’s super unprofessional to me and not what I want to present to customers.

    3. D3*

      Asking someone to “just spit it out” is rude. You should apologize.
      But seriously, as a woman in the workplace, sometimes you can’t win. Sometimes you get chewed out for not phrasing things pleasantly and sometimes people snap things like “just spit it out!” at you. I have had both happen to me ON THE SAME DAY.
      Can we please just let people communicate their way and stop nitpicking how people – especially women – communicate?

  18. Venus*

    OP1: There is no need for you to share medical info with your boss, coworkers, or clients. It’s fine that you did, but your boss shouldn’t be! Yet your boss may be surprised, as you are sharing your experience with friends. I would tell her that it’s the difference between friends you choose and know to be supportive, rather than clients who aren’t chosen and some people can be really weird about illness.

    1. LW1*

      Thanks!

      I mainly wrote in for a sanity check. COVID has affected everyone’s daily lives whether infected or not, so I was wondering if it was kind of a special case in other areas too.

      1. mgguy*

        FWIW, I spoke with a friend last week who I hadn’t talked to since March, and when I called him he sort of shocked me by saying he and his wife both had come down with “mild” cases. Their symptoms sounded like what you describe-essentially unable to get out of bed/function/dead to the world for a week or so and my friend on the cusp of going to the hospital(O2@90%) but didn’t actually go. When I spoke with him, he was a month and a half “recovered” but said his energy level was still not where it use to be and also ended the conversation a lot earlier than he wanted(~20 minutes) and after a lot less time than we usually talk because he said he just couldn’t talk for long periods of time now(short of breath, raspy throat, etc). He specifically said “Please share my story with all the details with as many people as you can-including that I’m still not over it because I want people to know this is real and serious” and I’ve done that, but I wouldn’t have otherwise.

        Of course, I would expect my boss to not share anything medically related unless I’d specifically told them it was okay. Two weeks ago, I came down with a cough on a Saturday that I knew was allergies-I called my boss, told him that, and he said “I want you to get tested if you can on Monday and don’t come in until either you’re not coughing or you have a negative.” Fortunately it was negative(although it was a tense couple of days waiting) but I was glad that when people asked where I was he just left it at “Out for a few days”, as I would expect for any sick day. I told my close co-workers(and of course would have told anyone I’d been in contact with a few days prior if I’d been positive), and in fact did so while I was out just to warn them to watch, but that was my choice and not my boss’s. I know that’s not remotely the same as your “mild” case, but still again is how I would have wanted to handle it.

        I am sincerely glad that you “recovered”(in quotes just because you said you’re still dealing with the remnants of it) and hope that you do eventually clear up completely or at least to some semblance of what you were before. This thing is scary for sure, and I’m glad that you’re sharing your story and that you want it to be no holds barred.

      2. Keymaster of Gozer*

        Thank you for being open with those around you that it’s not a ‘case of the flu’ and leaves long term effects though. It honestly does help save others the more people are informed that this really is a serious virus and they must take precautions.

        One less ‘oh I don’t need to cancel travel/wear masks/social distance because it’s not serious’ person is a good thing.

        Your boss however should be more concerned with making sure workplace safety is adhered to than splashing your medical history everywhere! Unless there is a chance that an infected person was in the office (and even then you don’t give names, just quarantine people) there’s really no need to involve others.

    2. Lemon Zinger*

      100% this. It’s the same thing as any other illness. I had food poisoning last week and had to take a day off. I would have been so embarrassed if my boss had shared that with others! All anyone needed to know was that Lemon Zinger was out that day.

  19. I'm just here for the cats!*

    I had to jump on here for the letter about apologizing worker. It sounds like she came from customer service background. From my experience you are taught to bend over backwards and apologize like your life depends on it when you make a mistake or there was a mistake made. My first job out of college was a call center that answers for a cell phone company. Even if the issue was the customer’s error, like overages, we had to apologize and coddle the customer. This also leaked into your reactions with management. Depending on your team leader you would get yelled at (actually yelled not just talked to) if you asked too many questions or brought any problem up.
    It’s my experience that customer service, depending on the place you worked at by it can mess with what you think is normal.

    1. Amy Sly*

      Agreed. Even when you have trained yourself to stop, stress can revert you back to the over-apologizing.

      I’d suggest approaching her with an “apologies are for big things; this wasn’t a big thing” tack, as well as the suggestions for opening lines and swapping perfunctory apologies for “thank you for bringing this to my attention.”

      Anyone doing operant conditioning can tell you this: training the subject to not react to the stimulus is extremely difficult. Training the subject to switch to a different reaction to the stimulus is much easier. (e.g. training the dog to sit when you open the door as opposed to training the dog to not jump when you open the door.)

      Same concept works with people. You can’t just tell her to stop doing what is an ingrained reaction to interrupting people or getting criticism. You have to inform her of the correct action in those circumstances, and help her swap out the over-apologizing with more appropriate words with gentle reminders as needed.

    2. juliebulie*

      But apologizing on behalf of the company is a quite different than constantly apologizing for yourself and for asking relevant questions, isn’t it?

  20. Richard Hershberger*

    LW4: Who is “they”? Why can’t “they” use their own accounts? This is not a rhetorical question. It is what I would be asking “them.”

  21. CM*

    For Facebook, you can set up a business manager for your business’ account. You’ll still have to link your personal profile to the business manager account but your personal page won’t be viewable to the public. This will also make it easier to disconnect your personal page if you leave the organization.

    1. Aglaia761*

      Yes! Facebook created Business Manager for exactly this reason. So you can use a generic company email like info@ or contact@ to set up the main company business manager account.

      The BM account owns the business facebook page.

      You then add users via email, not their facebook profile and give them access to what they need. This allows users without a personal facebook profile to still access the business page and settings.

      Now if the business eventually wants to run ads or boost posts, then a personal FB profile is necessary for verification and authorization. Barring that you can use an agency to run your ads who will have the necessary authorizations set up already.

    2. bishbah*

      I managed social media for my last job, from 2011–2016. At first, I was required to connect my personal account directly to the business page and its various groups. There were also some auto-generated “place” pages that required proof of affiliation for me to take over and merge with our page, so I also had to add my work email address to the personal account for verification reasons.

      By the time I left, the Business Manager had just become available broadly to organizations, so I shifted everything over there. My replacement was not yet on board, so I set my boss up in the system and moved all admin rights over to him. Handed him instructions and a three-page sheet of passwords for the various official accounts I managed, and left.

      But I forgot to unassociate my work address from my personal account. The replacement shows up some time later, and for whatever reason, ignores the pages of instructions and passwords (or was never given them), and proceeds to reset the password to my PERSONAL account using her access to my old work address. She then starts posting to the page under my personal identity (since I was NOT an admin).

      After a panic-inducing moment when I received the reset notifications at my main address and thought I’d been hacked (which, to be fair, I had been), I got everything reset, deleted, and BLOCKED.

      Do not cross the streams. Ever.

  22. Cori*

    To #1 – I too have had COVID. I am 53, in good health, and in my case I thought I had seasonal allergies (thanks Texas)! I never missed a day of work, and was only under the weather for a total of 2 weeks. I think it is important that people do know that COVID hits people in different ways (it is not all doom and gloom, but it is not all sunshine and roses either), but absolutely agree it should be you do the telling, not your boss! My boss knows I have had COVID, but I know he values my privacy and has not told anyone else.

    Good luck navigating this with your boss.

      1. Cori*

        Hmmm – did I say that? Wow – way to leap to conclusions. No. I work from home and have done for 23 years. Also, wore a mask whenever I was out.

        1. The Supreme Troll*

          Cori, if you knew & kept it “discreet” when going out (even if you were wearing a mask – and this was not for going to the hospital as well as being open & honest regarding symptoms/being potentially Covid-19 positive)…then this isn’t really cool.

        1. MissGirl*

          Now you know why people are hesitant to tell their story. When they do, people make all sorts of judgements and accusations about them without knowing the facts. The writer didn’t know she had COVID and thought it was seasonal allergies. When she went out, she wore a mask. No where does she say she knowingly spread it.

          1. Cori*

            Thank you! I did not knowingly spread it. I saw my doctor for what I thought was allergies – and it was COVID. I already work from home and only venture out to go to the store. Once I got the diagnosis I quarantined until I got a negative test.

            You’re right about not wanting to share my story because of the exact leaping to conclusions that happened here. Thank you MissGirl for being a voice of reason. But I’m out.

          2. Jennifer*

            It happens a lot here and it’s really discouraging. People jump to the most horrible conclusions about people with virtually no information about them instead of asking questions or just moving on.

            Thanks for clarifying, Cori, and I’m sorry this happened.

    1. Dachelle*

      I had a similar situation – I woke up with a sore throat and congestion and thought I had a sinus infection, so I went to urgent care, where they gave me a Covid test but assured me they didn’t think I had the virus. By the time I got my test results back my symptoms had resolved, so I was shocked that I tested positive. Luckily I primarily worked from home even before the pandemic, and most of my coworkers are actually in other states. I did tell my supervisor who kept the information private, just in case my symptoms worsened and I needed time off. I’m sure if we were physically in the office it would have been different but if you’re remote and there’s no chance of transmission to coworkers/clients then there’s no reason for that information to be disseminated.

    2. LW1*

      I’m sorry to hear that you’ve been sick, Cori.

      For what it’s worth, I didn’t think I had COVID-19 either. But where I live we were on lockdown, with whole households in quarantine if ANY household member had a fever or cough of any kind. So at the first sign of a cough we holed up. I think it was about day 5 when my spouse called telehealth equivalent to see if I should go to the hospital, and they said it definitely was COVID-19 but please stay out of hospital until you’re closer to death.

      And then I got worse.

      I think some of us who have had the virus attract unwelcome attention because of magical thinking. We must have contracted it because we did something wrong. It doesn’t matter that you can have kept your distance before it was mandated, worn masks when people still believed they were useless, been young and healthy, etc. I scared people by being ill, and some of them felt/feel the need to punish me for that.

  23. You can call me flower, if you want to*

    I hate Facebook. I deleted my account years ago, and I’m so glad I did. However, I’ve definitely had the same problem that you are having. My solve was to create a personal page but don’t do anything with it. I didn’t connect to anyone, there isn’t a photo of me (I think I put a generic nature photo to make it slightly less sketchy.) I don’t used my last name. I use that page to connect to our business page. Now, Facebook has shut my page down before since obviously I’m not using it the way they intended, but I just created a new one. I know this isn’t a perfect workaround, but do not give in to connecting your personal account if you’re uncomfortable. This is just another reason why I hate Facebook. You should be able to manage the business page independent of a personal page. Ugh. Stand your ground OP you are not off base here.

  24. Jack Russell terrie*

    Thanks and yes – love your personal and institutional – excellent. Yes overall the thank you concept is very useful.

  25. Pigeon*

    If I could propose an alternate script for OP1… “I’m not trying to hide that I had COVID, but I would prefer to retain the right to decide who is told about my illness, and what they are told about it, as I would expect with any other medical issue.”

  26. Mama llama*

    Over-apologizing is a hard habit to break! One thing that helped me was replacing “Sorry” with “Thank you”. It really helps to have something to SAY to smooth things out when you’re used to saying sorry, and for an added bonus, it’s usually what you actually mean. Maybe LW2 could suggest this to her employee.

    1. Mama llama*

      Oops. I scrolled too fast on mobile and missed the conversation above.

      Wish there was some way to sort by question.

  27. Darcy*

    I work in an office that is allowing WFH for the time being. They’ve made it clear that this is temporary and that they’d prefer everyone be “butt in seats”. Some co-workers have started going back in to the office for face time but I have not. I much prefer WFH for both productivity and health reasons.

    If I were to contract a milder case of Covid and could recuperate while still working remotely, I’d keep my diagnosis a secret. I wouldn’t want to hear “You can come back to the office now that you don’t have worry about catching or transmitting Covid again”.

  28. BenAdminGeek*

    For OP #2, Alison’s advice is solid. One thing I would add is that even if the OP is not a woman, he can still raise that there can be a gendered component to things like apologies. As a man who manages women, I try not to shy away from topics like this- my employees and I have had conversations about how gender dynamics can play out in the workplace. Not to mansplain to them, but to ensure that they are getting support in dealing with interactions and building a professional career and not being held back because of their gender.

  29. Jayess*

    I did not know that about Facebook secondary accounts. I had a mild case of cyber stalking last year and while the stalker got his act (mostly) together, and I blocked him, I ended up feeling very nervous every time I logged into FB. I ended up creating a secondary account to log into our business account, and now I guess I just hope that I don’t get busted.

Comments are closed.