avoiding political talk when working in politics, telling my boss not to call me on vacation, and more

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

1. How to avoid political talk from family when working in politics

I’ll be graduating from college in a few weeks and am looking to start a career in progressive politics. I care a lot about the work I do and have deep personal connections to many of the causes I (will) advocate for professionally.

My issue is that many of my extended family members are on the complete opposite end of the political spectrum than I am. This normally wouldn’t be an issue but I recently moved and am temporarily living with some of this extended family and will now also be regularly seeing other family members who vehemently oppose not only what I believe in but also the type of work I want to do. I have never brought up politics or my work with my family before to avoid conflict but now that I live here and am starting my job search, a lot of my family is asking what my plans are. There’s one family member in particular that I know will try to instigate an argument with me and I desperately want to avoid this but don’t know how to pivot the conversation when he undoubtedly asks me about my post-graduation plans. Any advice?

You might be able to sidestep it for a while by being vague about the type of work you’re looking for — for example, “public policy work” or “public service” rather than “politics.” But at some point you’ll probably have to say more, and at that point you’ll need to hold firm that you’re not going to debate politics with them, period. Things you can say:
* “I’m exhausted from talking politics. Thanks for understanding.”
* “Let’s not talk about work when we’re relaxing. Tell me about (subject change).”
* “I don’t want to argue with you, so I’m not up for getting into it.”
* “We see it differently and we’re not likely to change each other’s minds. Can we talk about (other topic) instead?”
* “I’m really burned out on politics. Let’s talk about X or Y!”

Follow all of these with a subject change, ideally about something they really like to talk about. In fact, I might save up tidbits that you know will be especially irresistible to them so that you can immediately pivot to, “Did you get the sense something’s up with Phoebe and that priest she brought to dinner?” or whatever your family likes talking about. (In my family, it would be gossip about other relatives.)

But if your family members are especially argumentative or strident, they may keep pushing. In that case, keep repeating “I’m not up for debating politics” over and over. Leave the room if you have to. If you don’t give them anything to respond to, at some point most people will move on. (If not, take a lot of walks.)

Read an update to this letter here.

2. How can I tell my boss not to call me on vacation?

I’ve been at my company for almost six years. I do payroll and billings, which for our industry (oil and gas construction) run weekly. Every single damn Monday. I have never missed a Monday. In six years. I have also never taken a full working week off.

In the pandemic I straight up burnt out. We were busier than ever and I was working six days a week. Now we’re in the slow part of the year and I have booked a real week off! My boss will be covering my duties which should be minimal that week, like 25% of what I would usually do. It’s manageable without me and nothing will be pressing or can’t wait until I’m back.

Here’s the rub. How do I tell my boss not to call me? He has a bad habit of calling me for every little thing. I desperately need the time away to unplug. He is a nice enough guy but not a good manager. He will not use the resources I give him to find his own answers if he knows I will have an answer more quickly. I will not have access to any of my files during this time so legitimately I won’t be able to answer most of these questions.

The ideal option, of course, is telling the truth: “I really need to unplug right now and haven’t taken a week off in six years, so I’m going to be really disciplined about answering calls or emails while I’m gone. Let’s talk about what I can prepare in advance since you won’t be able to reach me.” And then follow through on that; don’t answer calls or emails while you’re gone, period. Consider reinforcing the message with clear language in an auto-reply and on your voicemail explaining that you are unreachable until whatever date.

But if that won’t work with your boss, then do what you have to do — such as announcing plans that will make you unreachable (remote locales, cabins with bad cell reception, etc.). For some people and some bosses, it’s effective to cite family (“I promised Bob and the kids I’d fully disconnect from work”). It’s annoying to have to do that, but you’re entitled to real time away so do what works.

3. I don’t want to give my personal cell number to customers

I work in a client-facing role at an early stage startup tech company. We don’t have work numbers, so all of my colleagues have listed their personal cell numbers in their email signatures. I have not done so because I prefer email to communicate with clients, but also because I have a support aspect to my role and frankly, I don’t want customers reaching out to my personal cell phone especially at odd hours (I have customers around the globe), weekends, or days I’ve taken off. I’ve also shied away from sharing my cell number with anyone outside of my immediate team for work-life balance reasons. My industry is such that nothing is a true emergency that cannot wait until after lunch or the next morning. I’m very responsive over email and Slack, so my keeping my cell number to myself hasn’t been an issue so far (as in, no one has brought it up with me.) If a client asks me to call them, I set up a Zoom meeting. And if a colleague asks me to call them, I’ll call them over Slack. But I am generally curious: is my approach here appropriate, if we consider that the company doesn’t provide VOIP numbers nor pay a portion of our phone bills? Or am I a phone-grinch?

If you can do your job effectively without giving out your phone number, sure. If you can’t, then ideally you’d raise that with your employer to figure out a solution — which really should involve them paying all of you for the business equipment you’re providing them with. It’s BS that they’re happy to let employees shoulder a business cost. (It is true that it’s increasingly common for people to use their personal cell phones for work, but employers should be reimbursing at least part of their phone bill in exchange for that.)

One other option, though, is setting up a Google Voice number that you use for work, since you can turn that off when you don’t want to take work calls.

4. Giving input about rude job candidates

I am a newly-minted assistant manager (hooray!). Right now, my manager is focused on finding a replacement for my old role. Over the last few weeks, I’ve fielded many calls about the job and run into a fairly consistent problem: interested parties will talk over me when I try to explain the application process. This, at least in my mind, is a pretty big red flag.

I’ve had to pretty firmly remind some hopefuls that I am trying to help them and can’t do that properly if they don’t listen. In one particularly egregious case, I took note of the person’s name and asked my boss not to hire them as I questioned their ability to take directions.

I have since been wracked with self-doubt. My boss hasn’t said anything, but I’m worried that I overstepped my role and might seem too sensitive (being interrupted is a pet peeve). Any advice on how to navigate this?

You’re not overstepping. I’d sure as hell want to know about it if a job candidate was rude to someone when they called.

Are you going to be managing the new hire? If so, it’s especially not overstepping — you should be having a lot of input on the hire. But even if you’re not, that’s the kind of input any decent manager would want to hear.

“Be polite when you inquire about a job” is such a bare minimum expectation that if someone doesn’t do that, it makes no sense to consider them further — just like if they gave you the finger while walking by your desk or pooped in a potted plant in reception. If someone’s rude / talks over you / won’t listen to instructions when they’re presumably trying to make a good impression, it’s not going to get any better when they’re working there.

5. What did this rejection call mean?

I recently interviewed for a large corporation. They sought me out. I had a nice conversation with the hiring manager, and I know they were moving quickly because of a personal situation with the hiring manager. I got a call from the recruiter today and was told they aren’t moving forward with me because “they found someone who ticks all the boxes.” That’s fine. There was no feedback other than that and “they insisted that you get a phone call instead of an email and that they’re very good about remembering candidates.” What does that even mean?

It sounds like they’re trying to be gracious and not treat you as a widget on an assembly line — they felt you’d feel like they’d treated you better if you got a call instead of an impersonal email. (That’s up for debate; lots of people really hate rejection phone calls. But that’s where they were coming from.) The part about being good about remembering candidates likely means they’ll try to reach out in the future if something comes up that could be a good match. (But even when people say that, they often forget to do it — so if you see another job with them open up that interests you, don’t wait for them to make the first contact.)

{ 329 comments… read them below }

  1. Eric*

    #1, pleading the need for work/ life balance can also be helpful once employed. “I spend all day at the office taking about this, I really try to disengage from politics on my down time”

    1. allathian*

      Yes, this. I do hope that given the pandemic, the LW will be able to avoid seeing the family member who insists on arguing about politics, although if most of them are on the conservative end of the spectrum, that’s unlikely given how politicized the pandemic has become.

    2. Clorinda*

      There’s always the gray rock. “Hm, interesting [vocal tone expresses no interest whatsoever but not in a rude way], I’ll have to get back to you on that.”
      And if you have a private space away from the constant Fox News, stay there. “I’ve got to work on my stuff right now, can’t join you in the living room till later.” Later being until the TV changes channels or hell freezes over, whichever comes first.

      1. Joan Rivers*

        And if you feel like waving the Red Flag, just before you leave, you can ask how they like their healthcare, or whatever issue you know their party doesn’t do well and they complain about it a lot.

        You can agree that this issue is a problem and you don’t know why their party refuses to “xxx.”
        Because s/he can probably see the problem and just don’t want to admit it. So you can find common ground if you know what they complain about, by talking about “ideas” instead of identity politics.

    3. Uranus Wars*

      Yes! I do this all the time. I work in a field (not politics) that a lot of people have opinions about. Especially people in my family and it can get politically charged.

      I was also going to advise deploying the “I have to live this 40+ a hours a week, I really need to talk about something else when I am off.” It usually works for me.

    4. Colleague’s Dog’s Viking Funeral*

      I find myself getting sucked into fewer “conversations” like this when I tell myself, “You don’t have to attend every argument you are invited to.”
      I have the right to say no, I am not discussing this.
      I have the power to walk away.
      I have the ability to work through my own discomfort at standing my ground.
      And so do you, OP.

    5. Lady Catherine de Bourgh*

      I’m wondering if LW works for an organization like Planned Parenthood where her family members object to the organization’s very existence. In that case it’s harder to be vague about your work. But I think a blanket “let’s not discuss politics” followed by a flat refusal to engage is a good idea.

      1. sofar*

        I interned for a reproductive rights non profit years ago. You’re right, it’s really hard to navigate, given the fact that there’s practically no middle ground when it comes to reproductive rights! And a lot of my family/significant other’s family at the time were very religious and conservative.

        If you try to be vague and say you do communications work for a non-profit, people will be curious and ask, “Which non-profit? What type of work? My daughter works for [fill in non-profit in town], is it that one?”

        If you come right out and say, “I intern for Planned Parenthood,” it brings the conversation to a screeching halt or an argument.

        So, I’d usually start with, “Oh, a small non-profit that deals with health care.” That gave them the chance to read between the lines, take the hint that I didn’t want to get into it, or just nod and smile.

        If they dug deeper, I’d give them the full truth. And that was their problem if they couldn’t handle it. Under no circumstances would I argue — and generally went the, “We’ll never agree about this, can we talk about literally anything else?” route.

      2. Smithy*

        Having had such a job where the existence of the organization itself was the problem – the issues aren’t typically around someone being like “how can you still work for bad place” – but rather someone looking to bait you into an argument. Whether they find it amusing or think this is how they’ll get someone to change their mind, it’s more like “I heard this story in the news, and don’t you think it’s wrong/how could you possibly support the other side of the issue/what do you think?” Anything to get you sucked into debating the issue.

        It’s often very possible to have an issues based job, while your own day to day experience can often exist of “Gah! Why on earth can’t I connect to the VPN!” But the real risk is when you know you have a relative who itches for a debate/fight, and just never letting it start.

        1. Marie*

          I worked as a political organizer for Planned Parenthood and my affiliate made it easy. We had an organization-wide policy not to engage in debates with opposition, period (unless you were cleared to lobby to an anti-repro rights politician). I got so used to ignoring the protesters outside our clinics, it made it easy to apply the same attitude towards family members. “Since I professionally represent this organization it wouldn’t really be appropriate for me to debate this with you. If you want more information about our work or policy you can always look at our website”, or “I promise you that I did my research before accepting this position, and I guarantee you’re not going to bring any new information to the table that will convince me to quit my job. What did you think of last night’s football game?”

        2. Jack Russell Terrier*

          Yes – baiting! I remember sort of Family friend asking me a bit after Obama elected ‘so how do you feel now we are going to live in a Socialist country’. She’s definitely a mean etc stirrer and (like my grandmother) has popcorn at the ready to revel. There was glee in here eye. I replied ‘I grew up partially in the UK, I have no problems with Socialism’. No way was I going to touch that one.

        3. Fricketyfrack*

          I have family who loves to do that. It was always along the lines of, “how can you believe ____, only bad people believe that.” I got so sick of trying to argue or make my point when I knew we were never going to agree that I finally just started responding in cheerful affirmatives to whatever they were “accusing” me of being or doing, no matter how frothy or over the top they got. Partly it was because that tactic annoyed the ever loving crap out of them, but also because it did actually get them to stop doing that when they finally figured out I wasn’t going to argue.

          I no longer speak to any of them, but I still use this method when someone tries to argue in bad faith on the internet (if I bother to engage at all).

    6. Keymaster of Gozer*

      That’s a useful phrase for many situations – the ‘I do this all day, I don’t want to do it when I get home too’

      (Note to family and friends: I love you guys but I’m not gonna fix your computer software issues for you all the time. I get paid to do that normally!)

    7. JJ*

      I just had this conflict with a family member. They were determined to be either right or be the victim, and among other things, pouted about how I’d blocked them on social media. I responded that I blocked them because I know politics is something we will never agree on, and since I want to retain a relationship with them, I felt staying out of each other’s feeds was best. Since they wanted a fight (not to find common ground) there’s been complete silence since then.

      So, not an ideal outcome for me, but I think emphasizing that you care about the relationship and know this will be a wedge that you wish to avoid is important. I think some of Allison’s scripts could be interpreted by a determined relative as having a “right now” at the end of them (i.e. leaving the potential for conversation open at other times), so I’d be a little more definitive about shutting it down permanently, and for me the way to do that is to express love and care for the person and cite that as why you are banning this topic.

      Also, I think it will get better in time as things settle down politically. You may be seeing an “extinction burst” of this kind of talk, once you show you’re not going to participate at all, and once life gets back to normal(er) it will be easier. Hang in there!

    8. Maggie*

      I’ve worked in Congress for the last 10 years and am in the same position of having family members on the other end of the spectrum. I’ve had success by telling them, “Talking politics is my job. I’m visiting you because I’m on vacation. When you start talking politics, I immediately fall into work mode and that’s not relaxing for me.”

      Frankly, my family of the opposite beliefs of mine is the least problematic. It’s the family that agrees with me that always wants to provide suggestions, ideas, and recommendations – which then really feels like work when I have to analyze that. I have to be stronger with them and even put time limits on it. “We’ll talk politics for 10 minutes/just over this one meal/whatever.” I’ve also found success in saying to them, “I hope you see there’s more to me than my job!” And then taking on the responsibility of talking about a TV show, book, or just anything else to prove I’m not only my job.

      1. HerGirlFriday*

        Same boat. My father and I often work together, and when we’re together, the talk always turns to work.
        My mother and spouse hate it.
        I love this idea and will try to use it more often. The time limit is perfect for all of us.

    9. JSPA*

      They don’t even have to know that it matches your politics, if that suits you. “It’s a job” and “I want this on my resume” are unusually compelling reasons, at the moment. It may mean they shower you with other job opportunities, but…so what?

      If it comes to the point where you risk being thrown out of the house, and if you can’t afford that, there’s always the option of looking mysterious and saying, “You know, it’s important to have people on the inside” or whisper, “don’t blow my cover.” Use with care, as you don’t know who they’re going to say that to…but if they think you’re stealth, and they’re willing to shut up about it, you’re safe, and the topic is off the table.

    10. Matt M.*

      #1 – I used to work in politics and I had the same issue – not just with family, but literally anyone who asked me what I do for a living. This is a smart-ass response that a lot of people (most people) won’t appreciate, but it will get them to drop it:

      “Look, I have to listen to this sort of thing all day at work, so I’m not interested in having this conversation unless it comes with a retainer.”

      After you say that, make sure you follow it up with “Re-taaaaaiiiinn-aaah! RETAINAH.” like Chucky from Good Will Hunting to really drive home the point.

      Seriously, though, if they don’t drop it after the first warning, they will get the hint after that.

  2. Steeb Djackson*

    As someone who works in progressive politics and has a bunch of family members on the other end of the spectrum, it doesn’t come up as often as you’d think. They know where I stand and I know where they stand and there is an unspoken understanding that no one is going to change anyone else’s mind so let’s not waste time. If someone does try to confront you with “well your boss said XXX on twitter”- my go-to line was “Why would I want to talk about work? Do you bother accountants about tax code on their days off too?”

    Also, if you’re just beginning your career, you’re likely doing grunt work. When I was starting out, instead of trying to defend my boss’ vote on gun control etc, I would just tell stories about the crazy constituent letters I had to respond to or how I got the tech dept to rat on staffers who watched porn at work.

    It’s a lot less glamorous than it seems.

    1. MK*

      I don’t know about accountants, but as a lawyer I can tell you that people would definitely bother me with questions about legal issues that they have or their hairdresser’s cousin had or they heard on the news on my day off, if I let them.

      1. Just My 2 Cents*

        My brother is a nurse and his daughters joke that the thing they heard him say the most while growing up is, “I’m off the clock.” – he always did it in a kind way and quickly shut down shop talk.

      2. Lady Heather*

        In the supermarket, a doctor runs into a lawyer.
        Doctor: “Do you also get patients and clients bothering you about professional advice when out in public, all the time?”
        Lawyer: “Very much so. Less so since I’ve started charging for it.”
        Doctor: “Oh, does that work?”
        Lawyer: “Yes, it does!”

        One week later, the doctor is opening his mail and finds an invoice from the laywer.

        1. Dasein9*

          He pays it promptly, since good advice is a valuable thing, and uses the invoice as the template for his own.

      3. NotAnotherManager!*

        I think the expectation that people discuss work (or do free work) outside of the office is pretty common, and people don’t think much about it unless it’s someone asking them to apply their expertise and effort for free.

        I was not even a lawyer (just worked at a law firm), and I got asked for legal advice aaaallll the time. That I was wholly unqualified to give. And people got miffed about it! Why would anyone want my never-been-to-law-school hot take on a legal problem?

        A mom acquaintance is a pediatrician, and one of the moms on our mutual soccer team used to corner her all the time to ask her to look at some rash or malady one of her kids had one the sidelines of a game. Literally every game – it got embarrassing to watch the doctor try to set boundaries and suggest making an appointment with the office and the mom get pushier and pushier about “just this one little thing!”.

        And my spouse worked in tech, and if we charged people for their advice/tech support, we could retire. I don’t recall the last time we visited somewhere that they weren’t asked their opinion on some hardware/software/service or to “look at the [insert computer equipment here, it’ll only take a minute!”.

    2. BB*

      Accountants definitely get bothered with tax questions on their time off. It is even funnier because most accountants know nothing about tax. I am in tax, but I don’t touch individuals. All the questions I get are about individual tax…

    3. LW 1*

      Thank you for the advice! And you’re right I completely forgot how much other people can enjoy my stories of wacky constituents, good point!

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        There’s never been an occupation that, in my experience, doesn’t have some wacky tales!

        (My sister has loads from her accountancy job, Mum has loads from HR, Dad from engineering, me from tech support. I’m working to collect some into a book for the family)

      2. JSPA*

        Uh, it’s really not ideal, professionally, to talk about “wacky” constituents as entertainment. It’s not illegal, like a nurse or doctor talking about patients in an identifiable way, but it can and it does come back to bite you in the ass. Yes, people do it, all the time; but medical people also used to habitually talk about the private medical details of clients (and some still do).

    4. singularity*

      I’m a teacher and when people find out, I get relatives, acquaintances and even strangers who want to rant about ‘kids these days!’ and their ‘millennial entitlement!’ and ‘participation trophies’ and all the problems that they perceive that I could potentially fix about the state of public education. As a high school teacher.

      It’s either that or sympathetic looks and comments like, “Oh, that sounds terrible! What do you think about school shootings?” Or they want to tell me ‘stories’ about how their child’s teacher is ‘just a nightmare’ and won’t respond immediately to their emails at 10pm on a Saturday evening.

      1. anonymous 5*

        This. It never ceases to amaze me how many people latch onto my profession as a reason to *talk at me* and try to tell me *alllllllllllllllll* about my own area of expertise but can’t seem to be arsed to, y’know, asking me to share my actual experiences and expertise. I would love to be able to share (and possibly sometimes vent) if people would actually be receptive. I tend to sort out people by whether they’re more interested in asking or telling; and I generally try to shut things down with the latter. OP1, it is 100% fine to draw a similar boundary!

      2. Not playing your game anymore*

        Librarians and computer people get it too. And as someone at the public trough I find many people feel entitled to my time and attention 24/7 and I don’t have the option to send an invoice. I use “let me make a note of that, and I’ll see what I can find” works most of the time. But of course they aren’t asking for my opinion generally or trying to start a discussion, most of the time. Unless they want to argue about a book we have or do not have in our collection.

        1. Not playing your game anymore*

          Got interrupted. Sorry. For the letter writer specifically. As someone in the “I pay your salary” bracket, I’d come up with some vanilla responses. 1. someone complaining about liberals in general but with maybe a good point or two: That’s an interesting point. Let me make a note of it and I’ll pass it on to Sen. Gobsmacked.
          2. someone just mindlessly ranting: As you know I can’t speak for the Senator or for the President, but let me send you a copy of the Gobsmacked / Appalled whitepaper on that {conspiracy} theory.

          Take some quick action then change the subject. After that you can feel free to sign them up for a new liberal cause fund raising campaign every time the ambush you.

        2. OhNo*

          As a university-based librarian: same. I can’t tell you how many times friends and family have asked me to “just look up some info real quick” for them. I usually tell them that, unless we both have time to sit down for a proper reference interview, I don’t know enough about the topic to find them what they’re looking for.

          Plus, Google Scholar is free, y’all. Unless it’s a student asking me during work hours, I’m not using my mystical database connections to get anyone the good stuff.

          1. Not playing your game anymore*

            Yep. I’ll give you a search term to plug into google or something quick like that and suggest you send me an email or give me a call tomorrow… but unless you helped pay my library school tuition? Ask me when I’m at work.

      3. Keymaster of Gozer*

        Oh lor, there’s a few family members who rant about their kid’s teachers and it’s invariably stuff that actually isn’t the teacher’s fault at all! Like, your kid refuses to sit for their skype lesson/do their homework and instead goes off to play Xbox and you think the teacher should stop this?

        Unless all teachers are X-Men and have mind control powers and I didn’t know?

        (I don’t have kids but believe teachers really got an impossible task this year)

    5. TheseOldWings*

      I’m a media buyer and have worked several stints in politics. My husband’s family is very much on the opposite end of the political spectrum from me, and they just never really brought it up. They still won’t typically discuss politics with me, which I guess keeps everyone from completely hating each other, haha. But I think a lot of this is going to depend on how much they typically engage you in political discussions. If they are the type to want to chat about your job, I definitely agree with deflecting about constituent letters or telling them you don’t want to talk about your job during your downtime. Hopefully they will respect that!

      1. CJ*

        I’d like to introduce you to my favorite all purpose response “hmm. I’ll keep that in mind.” You have to say it as blandly and as uninterestedly as possible. Works for absolutely everything and when you say it enough, people start to realize it’s code for “you’re nuts!” which is what I really want to be saying.

  3. pcake*

    LW2, I have used Google Voice for years. You get a dedicated number that you can use to call out from your phone, and if you forward to calls to your phone, you can receive calls on your phone – well, any phone, really – but when you’re done for the day, you just unforward your Google Voice number and it goes to the voicemail that you record.

    I use it when I sell things on Craigslist so I don’t have to give out my phone number, and it works perfectly.

    1. Blaise*

      Seconding Google Voice. Teachers use it all the time! I don’t use it anymore but did when I used to teach adults, and I just had it permanently set to go straight to voicemail. So my phone never rang, but I was able to get voicemails, which were much easier for my ESL students than emails were.

    2. Anonariffic*

      Another nice thing about it is that you can port the number out to a different mobile provider if your job ever decides to provide actual phones to employees. I set up a Google Voice number for the exact same reasons, and it was especially handy when I worked nights and didn’t want anyone calling and waking me during the day. When I was promoted to a position that requires being on call for emergencies I was given a work cell, and for something like $3 Google released the number so that it could be ported to the new phone. Worked great and I didn’t have to deal with updating everyone with a new number.

      1. pancakes*

        It’s not free for businesses that use it as part of G suite, so they are getting some direct revenue from it. From individual users, presumably a huge set of data to be used to refine voice-to-text products, similar to the way the old Goog-411 service was used. A quote from an exec about that:

        “The speech recognition experts that we have say: If you want us to build a really robust speech model, we need a lot of phonemes, which is a syllable as spoken by a particular voice with a particular intonation. So we need a lot of people talking, saying things so that we can ultimately train off of that. … So 1-800-GOOG-411 is about that: Getting a bunch of different speech samples so that when you call up or we’re trying to get the voice out of video, we can do it with high accuracy.”

    3. Not A Girl Boss*

      Hmm. When I started my new supplier-facing job and found out my company wouldn’t provide a phone, I set up Google Voice but have been super disappointed. Maybe I’m doing it wrong??

      For me the Voice rings exactly the same as my normal phone number, so I can’t tell if I am getting a work call or not. And I haven’t figured out a way to turn off forwarding at a set time every day, so I always forget. Plus, its not like I don’t get voice notifications if I turn off forwarding, its just a different ring. I wish there was a “do not disturb” scheduling setting like my normal phone has.
      But I do have a Google Pixel, so maybe its more integrated than most phones. I’ve considered just using an old cell to do Google Voice calls over wifi, and if I don’t have wifi I don’t get the call.

      1. Haha Lala*

        I used Google Voice on my iPhone while I worked from home, but it’s worked great. It does ring the same as a call to my real cell #, but when I pick it up I get an robo voice saying “it’s a google voice call from ### do you want connect?” or something along those lines— then I can decide to answer or send straight to voicemail. I made a habit of switching the ‘do not disturb’ while I was turning off my laptop (or logging on in the morning). I don’t get any notifications when I have the DND turned on.

      2. RagingADHD*

        You dont turn it on and off manually every day. You can preset a schedule to ring different numbers.

        This setting is in the panel where you enter the additional numbers for forwarding.

        There’s no separate ring because Google Voice doesn’t control your phone- you would have to set ringtones yourself.

        One option would be to set a specific ring for people who are in your contact list, or only for certain friends & family members. Then you can assume any other calls should be answered in businessvoice.

        1. Not A Girl Boss*

          Argh, I don’t have that option so I looked it up, and it looks like the feature is only available if its a work or school account, not if its the free one.

      3. Washi*

        Yes, Google Voice is better than nothing, but the free version does have some drawbacks. I also found not being able to tell which number was being called annoying, so I ended up changing the settings so that rather than showing who the caller was, if someone was calling my Google voice, it was the Google number that showed up on my phone. (I found directions for this on the internet, and I think I had to do it on a web browser in the old but still accessible version of Google Voice). That way at least I knew whether to answer just “hello” or “This is Nonprofit, Washi speaking.”

        Luckily I didn’t get a lot of calls in the evenings and I could easily ignore the ones to the Google number, so I didn’t bother disconnecting after hours. The other annoying thing was that I had to connect the number to my personal email because work didn’t have gmail, so all the notifications and stuff went there, and I had trouble getting rules to work that would consistently forward them to my work email.

        I didn’t work at that place for long luckily, because I really found it to be an extra hassle! For the amount of time I spent futzing with Google voice, the nonprofit could have gotten me a cheap flip phone with prepaid minutes.

        1. Phone Grinch (LW3)*

          Washi, this has been my experience with Google Voice as well! I realize that I should have mentioned in my original email to Alison that I had played with Google Voice as a solution early in my tenure, but ran into these same drawbacks (we also don’t use G Suite at my organization.)

          I very recently found that there’s a VOIP service through one of the paid outreach services my company uses. I might give that a go. :)

      4. Sleepy*

        I set up Google Voice but I don’t have it installed on my phone and haven’t set up call forwarding to my number. When I’m on the computer and have my gmail account open, it rings through my browser and I take the call on the computer.

        I had a coworker with SUCH boundary issues who was actually inducing panic attacks when she called my persona number. I told her I was changing my phone number, blocked her on my phone, and gave her the Google Voice number. It’s really helped my mental health now that I can physically only take calls from her via the computer.

        1. Phone Grinch (LW3)*

          This is an excellent idea as well – I’d prefer the route of not having anything ring my phone. I’m so sorry to read about your boundary-violating coworker and glad that your mental health has improved since.

    4. ET phone home*

      LW2, you can’t just tell customers that you I sit on communicating only over email Slack or Zoom. There are many, many times when I need to speak to a service provider verbally, not by email.

      Have your employer get you a second phone, or barring that, use Google voice.

        1. Temperance*

          I imagine because the customer has to reach out and set up a call first for Zoom, rather than a client reaching out via phone for assistance. It’s the difference between making a phone call and sending an email request to set up a phone call, and then talking.

          1. ET Phone Home*

            Exactly. You’re creating more hassle for the customer by demanding Zoom calls be set up beforehand.

      1. Phone Grinch (LW3)*

        Hi! I think this one was for me :)
        I hear you. I’m quite often in pre-scheduled meetings with clients, so phone calls would turn into phone tag. For context, I had the same role at my previous company, but the previous company provided VOIP numbers, and I was almost never (less than 5% of the time) able to pick up the phone and chat on the fly.

        I’m exploring a VOIP function that I just discovered in a sales outreach service my company uses.

      2. saassy*

        Eh, I think this depends a bit on how they’re set up & the norms in their industry/company. Asynchronous communication norms are becoming way more common, especially in tech/remote industries, even on the service side. Phone’s pretty much useless as a medium for me, too much chance of time zone issues.

        Slack calls in the moment are super convenient; just hit the call button or command in Slack same as if you’re calling someone, with the added benefit of knowing if they’re online/having the context if you’re been messaging about an issue/screensharing if you need it. There’s an option to switch to call in on a phone if you want to not use mobile data and are out & about. Won’t expose your number. (Caveat is you have to both be in Slack, which it sounds like is fine for OP: we have shared channels with all clients at my work, which enables this, not everyone might.)

        We’re also set up so instead of emailing back & forth to schedule further out/wait for a call, or just jumping from messaging to a slack or zoom call, the middle ground is we have calendly links in our signature/slack profile so clients can grab time on my calendar at any point within my or my team’s office hours. That’s hooked up to Zoom and calendars so it all just ties together nicely.

        That stack (zoom/slack/google calendar or similar/calendly or similar) is a pretty common setup for my corner of tech and OP might be similar in a startup. We work with a pretty broad range of clients by company size (5->20k), maturity and stage (startups -> unicorn/1B and from <2 to 30+ years in biz), & team location (/continent… or even remote-only/remote-first. Australian and Indian time zones are always the trickiest from the east coast.)

      3. ET zoom home*

        When you have a support component to a role, but you are not a customer support rep, you sometimes need to prevent people from calling you, because it can be unmanageable to be both the company’s receptionist and do whatever role you’re doing. I’m in a similar situation, I work for a startup, have a support component to my role (but I’m responsible for a lot more than that). I can’t just answer a support call when I’m in a meeting with another customer, or one of our suppliers. I’ve also never had a customer upset because we didn’t have a publicly available phone number — every customer who has ever requested a phone call or meeting has not blinked an eye at asking to set up a zoom call.

        It doesn’t really matter what would be convenient to the client here — if you don’t have the time/resources to do it, it just isn’t there. The problem will still get solved.

      4. Autistic AF*

        Google Voice is only available in the US so it’s not an option for most of the world. You can call someone in Hangouts or Teams just as easily as you can phone them, however. Even then, it’s not like a quick message to request a Zoom meeting is a problem the vast majority of the time – it’s also much easier for those of us who struggle with task switching.

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      If you do this and your clients are across the globe, consider adding your core working hours *with time zone* into the signature.

  4. many bells down*

    I did the Google voice thing as soon as we knew we were working from home. Depending on where you are, you may not be able to get one in a local area code. They all went fast in my area.

    1. pcake*

      True, but these days having an out of area number isn’t unusual. Lots of people keep their cell phone numbers as they move from state to state. I’m in Los Angeles, and a local business owner uses a Hawaii number, and we periodically get calls from delivery guys outside our house from Florida or New York numbers.

      1. I Herd the Cats*

        This. I am the only person in our team of 20+ people that has a “local” area code because I’ve lived here forever. I think we’ve reached a point where phone numbers are just a series of random numbers and nobody bats an eye over the first three digits.

        1. londonedit*

          For some reason I find it endlessly fascinating that mobile phone numbers have area codes in the USA. Here, they all just start with ’07’ – landline numbers have area codes but not mobiles! I guess it’s because we’re such a small country in comparison, but it’s odd to think that someone would be able to know where in the country I was from thanks to my mobile number.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            By now it mostly says where you first got the phone number. Landline phone numbers can be transferred to cell phones.

          2. Colleague’s Dog’s Viking Funeral*

            I agree it’s crazy. I live in Pennsylvania. There are 67 counties. Over 20 years ago, my county had to come up with a new area code and draw a virtual line through it. People living a mile apart have different area codes. Really messed up people who’d just paid for print materials. They got a letter saying your company number is now…
            My drive to work is the average 20-25 minutes. My office number has a different area code than my home.

            1. OperaArt*

              I’ve had three different area codes on my landline without ever moving. We were on the wrong side of the new dividing line each time.

            2. TardyTardis*

              You should have heard the screaming when Portland, Oregon divided up into two area codes–you could switch by crossing the street. The Simpsons had an episode about (though I don’t think the pile of burning tires was from real life. I hope).

        2. Jackalope*

          I had to laugh because that’s so not the case where I live! We are super proud of our area code; if it’s 111, we have businesses like 111 Realtors and 111 Consulting and One One Won Legal Firm and so on. People have bumper stickers on their cars and Christmas light decorations with 111 worked into them. If you had a random area code on your cell phone used for business you might be okay, but if you have the area code from one of the next counties over then you’re shooting yourself in the foot since everyone will pass over you for someone local.

    2. StrikingFalcon*

      I’m also far more likely to answer a call from a non-local, unknown number, because at this point, local numbers are 90% robocalls and spam. I actually preferred when I had a non-local number myself, because that made the spam calls easy to identify – the real calls had area codes local to where I was and the spam calls had area codes local to where I got my phone.

      1. TardyTardis*

        Our phone shows the local phone number, but has V+random phone number to show where they’re really calling from.

  5. BWM*

    #1 “I’ve spent years living in a progressive world, learning from progressive professors, talking with progressive students, engaging with progressive activists, and now I plan to get a job working for progressives. I want to help force my family members to live under laws and policies they vehemently disagree with or even find outright immoral; my question is, how do I go about doing that without them trying to give me different perspectives, or ask me for my perspective to better understand what I fight for, or presenting new and contradictory information that I need to be aware of in order to make good decisions? Clearly there’s no need for communication or fact-checking in politics; I already have all the answers to all the problems, and I just want them to shut up so I can help other people dictate their lives to them.”

    And yeah, I’d say the same thing for conservatives. The good advice would be to stop living in a bubble, hear from other people, and learn how to get along with those with whom you disagree. It’s fine to want to avoid talking politics if you are a welder, but if your very job is politics, aka, to force laws onto other people, it’s only proper you learn about what you are doing from all angles, and to accept criticism of your work (just like a welder should accept criticism if his welding is bad). If your only way doing politics is living in a bubble and condescending to anyone who wants to question you, you are the very last person who should be in anyway involved in politics.

    1. Analyst Editor*

      I agree with you in general, i.e. that “if you picked working in politics you should expect to be talked to about it”, especially if it’s something controversial – kind of like if you have a weird or high-profile job, people will ask you about that too. I also know the pull to raise the discussions, because the most painful thing about the current times is how you can’t talk to anybody about anything candidly because of endless taboos and talking past each other and even reading different news.

      But I also totally understand this person’s desire not to get into conversations, because a lot of times someone who waylays you with arguments isn’t engaging in Good Faith Let’s Explore The Issue and Arrive At Truth; they kind of blind-side you, in a context where you’re not equipped to summon up your research and positions and make a good-faith response. You’re just mumbling something, or mouthing off canned responses if you’re good at that (which I’d guess LW isn’t). And if LW is living with these people, and presumably feels some amount of gratitude for their hospitality, it is a poor return to the hospitality to get into political fights with them and destabilize their domestic tranquility (especially if arguments distress other members of the household). So I have sympathy with the LW, and credit them for not also going off on what awful human beings their relatives are for disagreeing with them.

      1. Jessen*

        I’ve heard comments from several people that it’s uniquely difficult to have political discussions with anyone who changed your diaper. There’s often something particular about people who remember you as a little kid they needed to educate that makes it hard for them to have political discussions. Lots of people do fine talking politics with friends or even strangers, but don’t want to get into it with family because it just doesn’t work out well.

        1. UKDancer*

          It is. I learnt this early on. My grandparents were (in my opinion) factually incorrect on many political issues and shaded into racism in places. There was absolutely no point trying to have a political discussion with them because they still perceived me a small child who needed help tying shoelaces. It would be a futile activity trying because they would not have an adult discussion with someone who they perceived as a child.

          My time with them got immeasurably easier when I accepted this fact and we were able to spend time together in more enjoyable pastimes. The time we had together was shorter than I’d like and I think it’s better to have spent it having fun. I don’t remember any of the detailed political debates but I do remember an amazing holiday we had together to Budapest in their later years.

          I think it’s good to discuss politics and have intellectual debate but you can’t do it with everyone all the time. It’s also ok, if you do a politically involved job, not to want to talk about it some of the time.

        2. Trillian*

          When I was a teenager, around the time abortion finally became legal, I argued abortion with my physician father. I was pro, he was con, and he put me down the hardest he’d ever done (and he was usually a good person to debate with). We never talked about it again. A long time after, my mother told me that he had raised the topic with his colleagues, and they had made him rethink his position. So sometimes the influence is indirect.

        3. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          Truth. And it is easier to cut contact with others than it is family, especially if you live in the same house

      2. pancakes*

        If you don’t have any people in your life you can talk candidly about your politics with, that’s on you. That’s not a universal problem.

      3. Tía Teapot*

        No, I…..no. Taking a job which other people disapprove of, even if that job is in politics (or one of the many non-political fields which have been politicized – like being a health care provider!) is not the equivalent of opening yourself up, at all times and in all situations, to “be talked to about it”. Especially when the “discussion” is in essence “let me harangue at you about how wrong your entire life’s work and choices are.”

        Elected officials should be prepared to engage with constituents pretty much whenever they’re in-district (or tell them for ex.: “I’m just here with my kids, here’s my card, office number is ###, I have a town hall scheduled for XXX” as appropriate), but even they should be allowed to have an “I’m not on the job” life. People who aren’t representing the community in political office, even more so.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      No, and this is bizarrely accusatory and combative. There’s nothing to indicate that the OP isn’t open to talking to people with perspectives different than her own, but she’s perfectly entitled to choose not to do it with these particular people (who she may already know to be rude, aggressive, or otherwise not constructive on the topic) and to choose not to cause tension in a living situation, especially one where she’s a guest with an obligation to keep things harmonious. Being open to other perspectives does not equal “be willing to talk about your work at any time and with anyone, including with family members who you may already have a history with.”

      1. LW 1*

        Thanks, Alison. You’re exactly right, I’m not at all saying I’m never open to political conversation with those who disagree with me (that would be pretty strange for someone in my field!) but political discussions in my family have become so tenuous that some of my family members are no longer speaking to me or members of my immediate family, and I’d liked to avoid a similar situation if possible! Also, it’s strange to assume I grew up in some “progressive bubble” when that certainly has not been my experience. Thank you to all the commenters defending my decision!

        1. Colleague’s Dog’s Viking Funeral*

          Naw it’s just like if you were a baker and everyone wanted to tell you that homemade butter cream is better than store bought. ALL. THE. TIME.

          1. Jennifer*

            Not really. I just don’t think a baker, or teacher, or IT professional has the same kind of impact that someone who works in politics may have. I don’t know if that’s a fair comparison.

            1. Not playing your game anymore*

              But it does have the same negative impact on the baker, the butcher the candlestick maker if they can never get away from the complaints about the frosting and the high cost of meat.

              1. Jennifer*

                Sure, but I really don’t care if about the negative impact on a politician’s life if they are complicit in policies that really hurt people. The people that were harmed don’t get a night off. Why should they?

                1. Seriously*

                  That’s a huge leap to assume that someone who is looking for their first job in the field is somehow responsible for harming people or will be in the future.

                2. Jennifer*

                  I was referencing politicians, not anyone looking for an entry level job. Sometimes letters here can spark other relevant discussions.

                3. Wintermute*

                  You should be careful what you wish for because NOT ONE DECISION doesn’t injure someone, this doesn’t end the way your fantasy does with politicians you don’t like run out of town on a rail and harmony and peace ensuing.

                  Even things we all can probably agree are a good thing to do hurt somebody. Before the Harrison Act, there were people who put food on their family’s table and a roof over their heads selling fantastically dangerous patent medicine full of class-A substances, before the NFA there were people that made their living and fed their families selling machineguns through the mail.

                  I think most people can agree that it was a net gain for society that you can’t buy morphine at the corner store and machineguns in the mail, but that still hurt someone it hurt a lot of people in fact, should they get the right to go Harangue poor Harrison any time they want because they can’t sell their patent medicine anymore or because they can’t get their patent medicine of choice?

                  Too many people go “well this is different I am **right** so the rules of civility should go out the door” but never forget, there’s a lot of people that think they’re right and you’re wrong.

        2. Carlie*

          Exactly – if you had been raised in a “progressive bubble”, then… you wouldn’t have this problem. There wouldn’t be any family members who disagree with you and want to argue about it. It’s the “we didn’t raise you to be this way” arguments that are the worst to deal with!

        3. Marie*

          I mean I have to ask then, why did you choose to live with these people? Do you find their views abhorrent, as many people on the opposite side of the aisle do? Do they feel that way about yours?

          I am on one side of the aisle, my father’s family is on the other. I would not live with them if I worked in politics; it’s asking for trouble.

          1. pancakes*

            The idea that only one side of politics in the US finds the other side’s views abhorrent is very strained and strange.

            If you put some thought into it (and perhaps re-read the letter), I’m sure you can think of a reason a recent grad might be temporarily living with family in 2020.

            1. Not On A Break*

              And if the recent grad finds living with relatives with different political views so burdensome, they can do what recent grads have done for years — move out and get a place of their own. Yes, it is possible even in 2020.

              1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

                But it does help to have a job to do that. LW1 is living with the folks while job searching, which may take some time as a new grad in 2020

                1. UKDancer*

                  Also the OP appears genuinely to love and care for their family. They are quite happy to live with them and are just seeking ways to manage the political differences in a manner conducive to harmonious and comfortable daily life. I don’t think that’s unreasonable.

                2. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

                  @UKDancer. I totally agree. I think LW1 is being very thoughtful trying to deal with a potentially very fraught situation. She’s doing her damnedest to try and have her chosen career while trying to maintain a relationship with people she truly cares about.

                  LW1, please update us!

              2. pancakes*

                It’s not as possible this year as it has been in years past, no. Pew Research crunched the census numbers and did some additional research very recently, and found that “[t]he share of 18- to 29-year-olds living with their parents has become a majority since U.S. coronavirus cases began spreading early this year, surpassing the previous peak during the Great Depression era.” To be more precise, it’s 52%. You can pretend the economy and the rest of the world recent grads are living in is the same one you graduated into, but it isn’t.

                1. Esmeralda*

                  Yup. I’m postponing my retirement because I’m pretty sure my soon to graduate kid is going to need assistance.

          2. Jackalope*

            I mean, maybe because the OP wants a roof over their head and regular meals? A new grad student might not have a lot of other options, especially since COVID has made inviting people into your home so much trickier. The LW may want to preserve relationships with family (I know I disagree with my family on politics a lot but I still love them deeply and want to spend time with them), and part of that is having the ability to be a good housemate (washing dishes and picking up your dirty laundry and so on) and part of it may be in this LW’s case not talking about politics. Saying that a) it’s not possible to live with someone on the other side of the aisle with a political career and b) the OP must choose between letting relatives make their life miserable with constant arguments or not having a place to live (which may or may not be the case but is very possible here) is a false choice.

            1. LW 1*

              Not that it’s really relevant to the question but my family was kind enough to offer me a place to stay as I look for a full-time position and for a plethora of reasons I couldn’t live with any other family at this time. I love my family very much and have so far enjoyed living with them – for years I haven’t been able to see them often and now that they’ve invited me into their home it’s been very nice for both of us to spend more time together. Though we strongly disagree with each other’s political views, we value our relationship immensely and put family before politics.

          3. PVR*

            Can you not love people you are related to and disagree about policies and politics, even if you find some of their views abhorrent? This idea that we need to cut out people completely out of our lives when we find some of their beliefs problematic is just so exhausting.

            1. alienor*

              I mean, if they’re truly abhorrent then…not really? There are problematic beliefs, and then there are straight up “I don’t believe that people in this demographic are fully human/entitled to rights/deserving of existence” beliefs. In the first category we can agree to disagree, in the second category they get cut out of my life.

    3. Batgirl*

      Your underlying point about being open to debate is a good one, but it has to be a constructive and respectful transaction. If it’s anyone using deeply panicked, fear laden language like OP wanting to “force” laws, or disrespectful accusations of OP being “condescending”, or telling her that she should be “questioned”, then she should probably nope out of debate with that person.
      Respectful debate is not a personal attack.

      1. Cat Tree*

        And somehow it’s never “debate”, just open rants of conspiracy theories without a chance for me to get a word in edgewise, or a stranger randomly threatening to call the police on me for existing in public while Democrat when I wouldn’t engage with him after he accused me of bizarre things (FWIW, I politely told him it’s his right to call the police if he feels that a law was broken but he never did because I’m sure he knew how ridiculous he was being).

        Genuine, two-sided, good faith debate is fine. Ranting needs to be shut down real fast.

    4. Allonge*

      Ok? But that is the job part of life. LW is asking about the home / non-job part of life.

      I assume you have a job, or had a job at some point. Would you want to debate the sheer legitimacy of that job every night with the people you live with? I certainly would not want to justify the existence of libraries to my roommates at any particular time, let alone when I am tired and just want to watch something stupid on Netflix. I will not bring it up either!

      In some jobs, you have obligations to perform duties when you are off the clock – if you are a doctor, you have to assist in certain situations even if you are on leave. But even doctors are not obliged to a free consult every night. Why would you expect anyone to have to work outside of hours?

      1. Grapey*

        Looking back to when I was younger, I wished more of my “progressive” family members spoke up around kids. It’s one thing to assume relatives your age and older are stuck in their ways, but I think it’s an adult responsibility to not let younger family members be exposed to such echo chambers when it comes to things that affect people’s lives.
        One doesn’t “have” to, but that’s what being an ally is IMO. Whenever I cringe at hard conversations I think about the people who are actually affected.

        1. Allonge*

          Fair enough, and I don’t think LW1 wants to keep silent forever, but as a relatively young person living with relatives, it’s also very reasonable that they don’t want to have this discussion every day, especially as some of the relatives involved are not reliably civil about this. It’s the ‘put on your own mask first’ thing. Once LW1 has a job and their own place to live, they can consider this too.

      2. Cassidy*

        Allonge brings sanity to the discussion!

        It’s about preserving boundaries between work life and home life.

        It’s weird that some commenters here are turning this into a “You owe your family members discussion about your job 24/7 because of the nature of it.”

        Come on.

    5. Anononon*

      As someone who does a rather controversial job, nope, I don’t need to discuss or debate it with anyone I don’t want to. And I’m sure it’s a field that many of my friends have issues with, but they’re lovely people who let me have work/personal life separation, so we generally do not discuss what I do.

      1. UKDancer*

        Definitely. I don’t have a problem discussing different perspectives on some political issues but that doesn’t mean I want to discuss them all the time and with all of the members of my family.

        My Uncle Paul (whom I love) has a very different set of political opinions from mine as became very clear during the Brexit vote. I don’t want to spend the few times I see him having difficult and stressful debates about our respective opinions. I’m not going to change his mind, he’s not going to change mine. I’d rather spend our time together playing table football and drinking shandy and have a good time.

        It’s very hard discussing political issues with people when you have emotional issues in the balance. I can’t be dispassionate with Uncle Paul and we just upset each other. It’s a lot easier to argue with my friends in the pub because we don’t have the same depth of feeling. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to decide “no politics with family”

        1. londonedit*

          Totally. My family all have broadly similar political views, but for Christmas 2016 we banned any mention of the words Farage, Brexit or Trump. Mainly because we were sick to the back teeth of hearing them, but also because we wanted to have a nice family Christmas and pretend for five minutes that the world wasn’t going to hell in a handbasket. I expect we’ll do something similar this year, but the banned words will include ‘coronavirus’!

          1. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

            Yes. I had to tell my mother that it seemed as though we were passionately in agreement, so let’s stop shouting at each other because the politicians aren’t listening, and talk about something else.

        2. Bubble Teacher*

          For a moment, I wondered if we were cousins, as my “Uncle Paul” is also named Paul, but then read your username and Brexit comment so nope! Despite being on opposite sides of the Atlantic, my experience is the same. It’s much better to get him talking about his boat, his dog, the farm or adventures in small town government, than bigger politics, especially since we’re also from different countries and he feels the need to defend his country to the confused and disapproving northern nieces.

        3. Totally Minnie*

          I have a situation like this with a close friend. Eventually I had to say “I love you so much. I don’t want to hurt you and I know you don’t want to hurt me, so these particular topics are going to have to be off the table now. Let’s enjoy our time together and not spend it fighting and forming resentments.” Sometimes it’s what you have to do if you’re interested in preserving the relationship.

          1. UKDancer*

            Yes definitely if religion is a divisive issue. I mean my family is all too British to talk about religion in the theology sense (rather than the “what cake to take to Harvest Festival” sense). So it’s never been an issue because that’s not a thing you talk about even with family as religion is private. Grandma and Grandpa went to church, Aunty Mary goes to chapel and the rest of us don’t really bother.

      2. Sandman*

        Agreed. I work in an advocacy role and absolutely don’t need to discuss it with everyone – or figure out how to reply to uninformed rants while preserving a friendship. This can be taxing work. Everyone deserves a break.

      3. Shan*

        Agreed. I work in a pretty controversial industry, and many of the people I know have Big Opinions about it, but I don’t talk about it outside of work. I don’t even talk about it much *at* work!

    6. Anononon*

      As someone who does a rather controversial job, nope, I don’t need to discuss or debate it with anyone I don’t want to. And I’m sure it’s a field that many of my friends have issues with, but they’re lovely people who let me have work/personal life separation, so we generally do not discuss what I do.

    7. EventPlannerGal*

      I mean, I think this is a great example of why OP would prefer not to have these conversations. You know absolutely nothing about the OP but you’ve jumped in with all these very sweeping and aggressive assumptions about her life, background, political intentions, etc. For example, you’re going off about the OP having “lived in a progressive world” with nobody ever questioning her beliefs – if most of her extended family is totally politically opposed to her beliefs then it seems pretty obvious that she has NOT lived in a universally progressive environment and she has probably heard their opinions on these matters many times. It’s bizarre to start lecturing others about not writing off the political opinions of others when your entire comment is based on totally unfounded, uncharitable assumptions about OP’s position.

      1. Mel_05*

        Great point. The OP clearly has talked politics with this side of the family (or at least heard them talk) because she knows what they believe about them.

      2. Tired of Covid*

        Very well said. Boundaries are always appropriate and are especially so in this case. The assumptions made were ridiculous. You can know upfront that some discussions will lead to nowhere productive, and may actually damage the relationship, so why have them? I have a dear Jehovah Witness cousin that I must take this stance with, since after many years when I finally told her how I really feel about her religion after she tried to force it on me, she took it badly. I’ll never discuss religion with her again.

    8. Mr Jingles*

      You use the example of a welder in this context and I heavily disagree that any welder has any duty to talk about welding and its quality on their private time with family members. A welder just like any person is entitled to quality time and to be able to decompress in their free time after work.
      So why would LW have to discuss politics in their private time with family members? Don’t they ever have the right to be outside their work just because it’s political? Does political work somehow mean they’re not human anymore and don’t deserve to be left alone at anytime just because someone might disahree with them? Do they really have to be willing to be reduced to politics whenever anybody decides they want to discuss that right now, even though they are not on the job that moment?
      It was your comparison and not mine.

      1. londonedit*

        Exactly. I know that people who are doctors, for example, are often incredibly reluctant to talk about their work in social situations, because inevitably people just want an on-the-spot consultation or they want to talk about their health issues or whatever. Doctors shouldn’t be expected to spend every family gathering dispensing medical advice, and OP shouldn’t be expected to spend Christmas talking about politics just because they have a job related to politics. In fact, anyone who doesn’t want to talk about work outside of work shouldn’t be expected to have to talk about it.

      2. Slinky*

        Yes, exactly. If OP had said, “I’m hoping to work in politics, but don’t want to talk about politics at work,” then that would be a problem. They didn’t say anything like that. I’m a librarian. If I had a relative who felt that libraries are a waste of money and they should all be shut down, then I wouldn’t talk to them about my work, either.

      3. Bubble Teacher*

        Teachers are a bit of an exception as many of love to talk work any time, any place. Even that has exceptions, though. I’m not going to talk about educational policy with my hard-core homeschooler relative in most social situations as it’s just not going to end well.

    9. JustKnope*

      A welder would accept criticism that their work is bad from their supervisor or if a client is dissatisfied; they are NOT obligated to listen to every relative’s opinion on their welding. Especially if they are aren’t informed about welding or come to welding with an aggressive and intractable point of view on the best metals to use and call you very terrible names if you disagree!

      1. Threeve*

        This gives me a mental image of some rando wandering onto a construction site just to shout “hey, I know all about welding because I’ve seen Flashdance, and your welding definitely has room for improvement. You’re welcome, bye!”

    10. Wow, you're acting like a total......*

      BWM you could be my brother. The last time we saw each other several years had gone by. Before I could get a word out he told me, the progressive in the family, everything you said in paragraph one. It’s like he thought I sacrificed small children to the Dark Lord for being liberal. Yet he was the open minded person because he listened to Rush Limbaugh all day and used terms like “FemiNazi”.

      We’ve been estranged for over 10 years now.

      1. Tired of Covid*

        Yep, dialogue is impossible with bombastic, my way or the highway type fanatics be it about politics or anything else. Such folks are a vexation to the spirit. Sorry this happened to you.

      2. Gazebo Slayer*

        Given all the QAnon conspiracy nonsense making the rounds, I wouldn’t be surprised if he DOES think you sacrifice small children to the devil, now.

        Good riddance to bad rubbish.

    11. Lucy Day*

      I think we need to trust the OP to assess their own situation. If they feel that debating their family members will be too divisive that’s probably based on past experience. I would also say that just by living in the home of a conservative family, they have likely already been listening to their family members discuss their views. They may even be hearing conservative radio or television playing in the home. OP’s duty to understand the other side is part of their job, not part of their very being.

      I happily debate policy with my husband and best friend all the time. We all have the same core values but our views on many issues – student loans, healthcare, gun control – differ. Our backgrounds inform our views – my husband grew up in the rural mountain west where guns are part of the lifestyle (hunting for food, defending pets or livestock, etc) whereas I grew up in NYC surrounded by creatives and never knew anyone who had a gun. This leads to interesting discussions of perspective and cultural norms. There are some people I won’t have these conversations with because their views aren’t based on experience or policy, they’re rooted in religion or even blind hatred for the other side, as though the political parties are sports teams. Views like that aren’t really debatable because they’re stemming from emotion or faith. If the OP’s family members fall into that category, any political conversations would be incredibly emotionally draining and unproductive.

      1. LW 1*

        You hit the nail on the head about the conservative radio and television – it’s on right now as I sit and write this response! And honestly, it’s not a problem for me because this is my family’s house and they can listen/watch whatever they’d like! But yes, I have found that discussions with my family are not at all constructive debates but rather emotionally draining and ultimately futile! Thank you for your kindness!

        1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          I have a friend that works for Planned Parenthood in a very conservative part of a very conservative state so she has had to negotiate this with family, friends, church members, etc.. It isn’t easy, but it can get to the point where you can reach detente with most people. For the ones you can’t, they gray rock of, “Nope, not discussing this” works. Also, one day you will probably move to your own place or a place with friends/SO/spouse, so this is really just a temporary situation. You can do it!

        2. Keymaster of Gozer*

          I got an old school friend who is very, very anti-anything I believe in really and we got tired of every single conversation turning into a pitched battleground (he’s got religious objections to LGBTQ, any religion that isn’t his…etc.etc) which only stressed everybody out because neither of us were gonna back down.

          So, I just started changing the subject abruptly. We can talk about computer games for hours and not get into a fight which is honestly such a relief. I hope you manage to get away from the ‘oh man do I have to fight this battle again?’ feeling soon mate!

    12. Politico*

      I agree with this. Saying things like “I’m not up for talking about politics” when that’s what you do all day (and night) professionally will come off as condescending and arrogant to relatives. If you work in politics you need to develop a thick skin and understand that people (including people close to you) will disagree with you. If you can’t stomach that it’s not the career for you.

      1. Jackalope*

        Not really. It’s appropriate and reasonable to have boundaries between personal and work lives and to enforce those with three people around you. Doctors aren’t required to do medical consults with every person they meet, professional sports players aren’t required to give coaching lessons to every athletic kid with stars in their eyes, IT workers aren’t required to fix all of their friends’ computer issues, and those working in politics aren’t required to debate the issues they’re working on with every family member they hang out with. And honestly, my own personal experience with debating politics with family has mostly been okay, but I know people whose family uses politics and political discussion as a bullying tactic, with a primary desire to put the other person in their place instead of have an actual discussion. Don’t know if that’s the OP’s situation, but they totally get to nope out of that sort of discussion no matter what their job is.

        1. Uranus Wars*

          Yes! Boundaries are necessary, no matter what your profession. Normally this site is very pro work/life balance, this advice is really an extension of that!

        2. Jennifer*

          I partially agree. If you work in politics and you have something to do with a policy that is having a horrible impact on people’s lives, people are going to bring it up outside of work. That’s why I really didn’t care when certain politicians got confronted when they were out to dinner or whatever. Kids don’t magically get reunited with their families at 5 PM so you don’t get the night off either. Sorry not sorry.

          However, in the OP’s situation it sounds like the conversation wouldn’t be productive. The relatives aren’t changing anytime soon and neither are they. So turning every family gathering into a big fight is unnecessary.

          1. Keymaster of Gozer*

            I really disagree with the idea that politicians should be hassled out of working hours just because of the job they do. They are still people with a right to a private life – just like it wouldn’t be acceptable to go up to a doctor in a restaurant and hassle them for why there isn’t a cure for X disease yet, or why you want your bill reduced.

            1. MissElizaTudor*

              Doctors and politicians are very different, though. Politicians choose to go into a career that not only turns them into public figures, but that gives them the ability to exert control over other people’s lives, sometimes in extremely harmful ways. They have a certain amount of power over other people, whether those people want them to or not, which is usually not the case with doctors.

            2. pancakes*

              Individual doctors don’t make policy, though, unless they’re also elected officials, which is quite rare.

                1. Tired of Covid*

                  In private they do. Part of the cost of being a celebrity or other person in the public sphere is a loss of privacy to varying degrees. If they can’t stand the heat, get out the kitchen.

                2. pancakes*

                  A low-level person, sure. A congressperson or other high-level politician who has sponsored legislation, campaigned on it, opted to become the face of it, I think it’s fine and fair for constituents to speak to them about it when they’re out and about.

            3. Jennifer*

              Honestly, if someone was in a really desperate situation and had been seriously harmed by a doctor, I would understand if they interrupted their dinner. Or if they were a CEO that looked the other way while their company polluted a city’s water supply. I could go on and on. My point is if you have ANY job that causes severe, intentional harm to people it’s silly to expect that it’s not going to spill over into your outside of work time. If you don’t like people accosting you at Applebee’s, don’t do evil crap.

              1. Keymaster of Gozer*

                We’re discussing the right of a person who works in politics to not have to defend their views/job 24/7. It’s not a case of ‘well, you shouldn’t do that job if you don’t want people harassing you outside of work’.

              2. Jackalope*

                I’ve been thinking about why this logic doesn’t sit well with me, and I just can’t go along with the idea of harassing people constantly for their job outside of work. My thoughts are partly based on recent situations like govt officials getting harassed for trying to put masking ordinances into effect (a recent story involved an angry crowd going to a councilwoman’s house while she was in the meeting voting on said ordinance and having a demonstration outside her house, with guns, while the only person home was her son [or perhaps her son and her husband, but either way, not her]), which I just don’t think is okay. And anyone who is in a position to have power over someone else is at some point in time going to cause harm. I don’t believe that accosting (verbally or physically) a doctor who botched your surgery, or the lawyer who lost your case and you just got out of jail, or the social services worker who denied your food stamps application is a good way to try and get what you want, nor do I think that people doing said jobs should need to worry that if they make a mistake (or do something that a client thinks is a mistake; just because they went to jail or didn’t get food stamps or still can’t use their arm doesn’t mean that the person involved made a mistake, but it’s probably going to feel that way to the client) they will be threatened or harassed. I would extend that to politicians as well; they should be able to have a life outside of their job even if they’re making decisions I completely disagree with and am harmed by.

                1. Jennifer*

                  Of course, violence or any kind of abusive language is wrong, as well as going to someone’s home or harassing their family, but anything else is fair game.

                2. Jennifer*

                  Also, there is a difference between a doctor making a mistake and causing intentional harm, that’s why I included the world intentional in my comment. I wouldn’t want a low level government employee just doing their job to be harassed either. I’m talking about politicians here. They made the choice to be public figures. Them’s the breaks.

                3. Keymaster of Gozer*

                  That’s my thought. I’ve got an old university friend who went into medicine and provides services at a women’s clinic – and does certain medical procedures that some people find ‘evil’

                  I can’t see her being confronted at a restaurant with her family and called a murderer or immoral or whatever to be a good thing. If you think someone is doing something incredibly immoral then that’s what the law is for.

                4. Autistic AF*

                  This idea of “anything else is fair game” is so problematic. Female politicians are verbally harassed and abused at far higher rates then their male counterparts, which deters women from getting involved in politics. Research published by the Centre for Economic Policy Research and the World Economic Forum earlier this year suggested that female-led countries were more effective in countering COVID-19.

                  This notion also normalizes cyberbullying, and blurs and weakens that line of what constitutes “violence or any kind of abusive language”. There’s a lot of privilege baked in as well – a BIPOC is more likely to be harmed by, say, a doctor’s decision, and less likely to be taken seriously speaking up in the manner suggested.

        3. Kelly L.*

          Yeah, I think there has to be room to say “Aw, man, I’ve been talking shop all day, but how’s your new dog doing?/how ’bout them Sportsteam?”

        4. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

          …IT workers aren’t required to fix all of their friends’[*] computer issues…

          Much like the lawyer in the joke Lady Heather posted above, the number of people asking me to fix their computers went way down when I started telling them my hourly rate. (Twice what I make per hour at my job, one hour minimum, billed by the half hour.)

          *Also applies to friends of family members and family members of friends.

          1. Keymaster of Gozer*

            Or asking a techie how they can live with themselves working with products X when everyone knows the owner of that software firm is intent on putting mind control devices in medical treatments etc.

            (By FAR the weirdest conversation I’ve had with a cousin of mine. She’s convinced IT is the work of the devil, yet asks me to fix her internet issues often. Not without paying me!)

        5. Momma Bear*

          I think it’s like a doctor not wanting to check out your weird rash at the dinner table. Plenty of professions draw the line between office and home, so LW should feel free to do so as well.

      2. Dasein9*

        Piffle farts.
        (As is all talk of how others “need to develop a thick skin” to accommodate those who clearly do not know what they are talking about.)

      3. Uranus Wars*

        Yes, but if the OPs family is anything like mine they aren’t up for a “discussion” and that is why OP is writing in.
        They just want to say things like the following (in no apparent order) statements but with no actual examples/information that we could discussion varying view points on:
        -“you must have no brains in your head if you wouldn’t consider voting for a democrat”
        -“its a shame you/your parents wasted money on an education when it clearly didn’t do any good”
        -“my political party has only ever struggled because your party creates policies that are unsustainable”
        -“everyone shouldn’t have equal opportunity for jobs/education because then the balance of power would shift”
        and it goes on and on and on…but it’s never: “oh, but X policy led to Y” or “if X happened and did pass, then we could accomplish Y” which would be welcome.

        And…just like any other job, it’s exhausting to talk about your work 24/7. My brother (the welder ironically) is not interested in working 50 hours a week and then coming home to help my grandmother weld something, only to have it picked apart because she has decided the way he welds is not good enough for her even if it gets the job done.

      4. MCMonkeybean*

        It is extremely normal to say “I’m not up for talking about [work]” when that’s what you do all day in literally any field. It is so, so normal and reasonable to not want to think about work outside of work. How is that condescending? How is that arrogant???

    13. Jennifer*

      Whaaaa? If the family is conservative, it sounds like they have been exposed to opposing views their whole life and chose to go the opposite way. That’s not living in a bubble.

      1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        Seriously! She is living in a conservative household, has what sounds like multiple branches of family that are conservative, etc.. That is whatever the opposite of a bubble is

        1. Gazebo Slayer*

          People like BWM think we all live in a bubble because something something Not Real Americans something (insert various racist, homophobic/transphobic, anti-urban, and/or anti-intellectual remarks here).

    14. Ermintrude*

      Someone’s gotta do government. They pointed out at least family member wants an argument, should the OP just blurtpolitics at their family too?

    15. M*

      This is incredibly hostile toward OP, and frankly, toward anyone who leans progressive. This is probably exactly the reason that OP wrote in.

    16. WFH with Cat*

      Saying this as respectfully as I can: Perhaps you should stop making assumptions about, and attacking, other people’s personal and professional decisions based on your own dislike and distrust of politics — a dislike that was perhaps created/strengthened by your own bubble/echo chamber of like-minded people? It seems to me that that would be a very helpful component in any attempt to “get along with those with whom you disagree.”

      Also, and this is a general statement to all: I think it would be helpful to put the kibosh on the idea that anyone with a staunch political stance has had it fed to them from birth, has never deeply considered other viewpoints, has never voted on the other side of the aisle, etc. I, for one, have voted Republican, Democrat, and even Libertarian. And I’ve voted mixed tickets in multiple elections. Over time, I have become a much more hard-line liberal/progressive — not because I live in some kind of bubble but because the GOP has, especially at the national level, become increasingly jaded, cruel, and unjust in my view.

    17. Nanani*

      OP is literally writing about their *family members* whose politics they know to be different from their own, and your advice is “stop living in a bubble”? What exactly do you imagine a “bubble” is? Because OP has plenty of people with different political views in their life so you clearly aren’t using the normal English meaning of the term.

    18. Keymaster of Gozer*

      This is a rather large logical fallacy: the idea that anybody who feels X way about an issue/works in X field/has X experience has an obligation to ‘listen to opposing viewpoints’ all the time in order to be seen as acceptable.

      We se it with movements like MeToo, BLM – the idea that pople aren’t ‘asking for what they want in a frindly manner’ and ‘not considering other viewpoints’

      On a smaller scale we see it with victims of oppression who are told to consider the feelings and situations of the people hurting them.

      Whataboutism isn’t something to promote.

    19. tiny cactus*

      I mean, I don’t think the letter writer is interning for Stalin. If you think politics are combative by nature (each party trying to force unwilling constituents to cower beneath its mighty fist), I’m not sure what you think will be achieved by having entry-level workers submit to the haranguing of relatives.

    20. Temperance*

      Uh, that’s not how this works. I’m liberal. I support abortion on demand, I support LGBTQ+ marriage and family rights, and basically any law that you would call ‘progressive’.

      For most of those things, really, it impacts those who disagree with me not at all. No one is making my conservative family get abortions or gay married. It just means that other people get the same rights that they have.

    21. JustaTech*

      BWM, this is at least the third time you’ve commented with the least-charitable-possible interpretation of a LW’s position/question.
      LW1 is asking for help on how to *be respectful* and *keep the peace* with her family. That’s the very opposite of “dictat[ing] their lives to them”.

      Have you paused to consider why you assume the very worst of people who write in for advice?

    22. JSPA*

      Hunh? Trust me, if you work in constituent relations–or for planned parenthood,* for that matter–you don’t lack for chances to hear every side of every issue. Your clients espouse the entire range of stances, and it’s your job to listen, in a professional and respectful manner.

      That’s got exactly nothing to do with being endlessly browbeaten, with literally no ability to opt out, at the whim of any person who shares your DNA, despite the fact that you’ve grown up hearing their talking points, and could recite them forwards and backwards in your nightmares.

      *The students whose school busses them in to protest at one of our local clinics have been known to show up at the same clinic, when in need of services. And a month later, be back outside, protesting.

    23. NotAnotherManager!*

      Impressive. This manages to assumes facts not in evidence, ignore statements in actual letter, and say more about you than it does about OP all in one diatribe. Points for irony on lecturing OP about being “open minded” yet making all sorts of unfounded assumptions yourself.

  6. Talley*

    “Did you get the sense something’s up with Phoebe and that priest she brought to dinner?” Hahahaha! Nice reference!

  7. Jennifer C.*

    Re “I don’t want to give my personal cell number to customers”

    I had the same problem and solved it by getting what I call my “drug dealer phone.” It was $10 and I spend $15 a month for 500 minutes and 500 texts or something like that. I give that number out to “work people” who I don’t want to have my real number. And then when a phone rings in another room, I can tell by the ringtone whether its a work call that I’m going to ignore, or a personal call that I’ll get up to answer.

    1. pancakes*

      Clearly other people besides drug dealers use this type of phone for work. Why not just call it a work phone.

      1. Tired of Covid*

        A common term is “burner phone”, as they are untraceable and commonly used by those in the drug trade and other criminal activity, although certainly there are legitimate uses for such phones also, such as in this case.

    2. Sour Grapes*

      Hah! I also used to call it my drug dealer phone – I used to have a pay as you go phone for talking with friends out of the country so I wouldn’t get surprise charges. Buying a cheap flip phone and getting minutes will last a surprisingly long time for very cheap, and you could even just leave the phone at work so as to not worry about getting calls on your personal time. But as cheap as it is, even that is a business expense your company should pay for.

    3. Clorinda*

      My regular phone IS that phone. My students laugh when they see it–it’s a flip phone! On slow days they ask to look at it. “Show us your trap phone, Miss C!” (They think I don’t know what that means, bless their hearts.)

  8. Bob*

    LW1: Do what Alison suggests but also start saving to move out using your first few paychecks. Discuss this with no family members until you have signed a lease.

    LW2: Cell phones don’t typically like water. While yours might have a waterproof rating most don’t.
    Also when your on vacation replacing your phone was not your priority. Wink, wink
    Removing the SIM card or blocking your bosses number temporarily or sending it directly to voicemail (if you have that option) can also serve you well.

    LW4: how many of these are gumption attempts?
    (I just read an AAM article on gumption with LOTS of comments yesterday)

    1. Gray Lady*

      Gumption or, a related thing, where someone has told them or they believe for some other reason that they Absolutely Must get certain points across in the initial contact. My mind went straight to something like that.

      1. NW-planner*

        If at all possible just turn it off. I have a friend who turns it off on her ‘getaway’ vacations and let’s certain people know to call her spouse’s phone if emergency.

      2. Bob*

        Do you have an old phone you no longer use?
        Put 10% charge on it, change the display to always on, open an app and drop it in a bucket of water.
        Give it a minute to be sure.
        Then remove and dry.

        If it still works repeat.
        Add soap or salt if necessary.

        When removing the phone dump the water away from the phone (don’t fish it out) and use waterproof latex/nitrile gloves to make sure you can’t be zapped.

        Joking aside tell boss you are taking a 6 years worked, well deserved vacation. So he better plan on how to not call you because you cannot be contacted.

  9. Jessen*

    #2 I have developed a habit of doing a thing that requires turning my phone to silent and then “forgetting” to unmute it. Repeatedly. It’s a little passive aggressive but it usually trains people after a little while that they won’t get a fast answer. Granted I used it on obnoxious family, but it’s something to consider if you don’t want to make up a new excuse every vacation!

    1. My Dear Wormwood*

      My workmates are used to seeing me head into the stairwell with a hiking pack on to do stair training…I can confirm that this both makes you very fit and well and truly trains colleagues to think you won’t be contactable on vacation!

    2. EPLawyer*

      This is the key. boss calls because he thinks asking her is quicker than looking for it himself. So … make it not quicker. Send him straight to voicemail, set up a temporary filter on email that sends his emails to a folder. Then check it at a set time each day. Once he realizes he is not getting an immediate response he will start looking things up for himself as the fastest way to do things.

      The only downside to this is you are still thinking about working on your vacation. You might see the call come in and instinctively check voicemail. Or even having to remember to check email and voicemail at 2 every day can cause your day to be centered around that. But if your boss is genuinely a good guy, he will learn eventually and that will go away.

      Signed someone about to take 3 days off. I may turn off my google voice too.

    3. virago*

      “It’s a little passive aggressive but it usually trains people after a little while that they won’t get a fast answer.”

      LW 2: I affirm Jessen’s tactics x 1 million.

      A possible script:

      You come back from a long weekend.

      Boss: “I called you a couple of times Monday afternoon about the Farquhar file, but you never returned my messages.”

      You (small gasp): “I’m always doing that! I set my phone to vibrate when I went to sleep the other night, and I never turned it back on!”

      Wait a moment, then add: “How’d you get it straightened out?” (NOT: “Can I help you with the Farquhar file?” That implies that if Boss keeps asking, eventually you’ll capitulate, even if he’s referring to a matter that’s well within his wheelhouse.)

      You may have to go a couple of rounds with this approach, but if you stand firm, Boss will figure out that it’s easier to do it himself.

      Good luck!

    4. KoiFeeder*

      My phone’s always on silent because I have a startle reflex where I throw things away from me if they make sudden noises. I’d rather miss calls occasionally than throw my phone into a wall (again…).

  10. AppleStan*

    OP#3: Google Voice is a LIFE SAVER for many reasons…please take Alison’s suggestion and look into it. The ability to screen calls, text, set “work hours” for the number, and have it forward to some, all, or none of your other phones at any time is priceless.

    On a personal note, I actually go so far as to argue every parent should have a Google Voice number solely for giving to their kid(s)’ schools. I have 3 kids in elementary and middle school, and each school has that Google Voice number…but if they call, it rings my work desk phone, my cell phone, my house phone, my mother’s cell phone, my father’s cell phone, my parents’ landline, and my sister’s cell phone…all at the same time! This was amazing when one of my kids got sick, I wasn’t in the office, and I had forgotten my cell was on mute. While I didn’t take the call, my parents were able to, and were able to get to my kids with no problem. In other words, with this system, this school didn’t have to track me down or dial multiple numbers. They were able to reach someone, and reach them quickly.

    For work purposes, my Google Voice allows me to screen calls if I’m out of the office, and if you’re listening to someone as they leave a voicemail and you want to answer it, you can “pick up the phone” as they are leaving a message. You can also set different outgoing voicemail messages dependent upon who is calling you.

    It really is a great system!

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        Oh smeg, you can’t? I need to look for a solution here in the land of tea and crumpets if anyone has suggestions?

    1. NotQuiteAnonForThis*

      And….I’m looking into this immediately.

      I do NOT understand why:
      1. The program our district uses keeps overwriting changes
      2. I’m not priority one on the call sheet (I’m an hour from school, the other adult in the house who happens to be their parent and happens to be my spouse? Five freaking minutes) but I am ALWAYS the first call

      Perhaps Google Voice will solve ALL of this.

      1. Wine&Baseball*

        Are you mom? And is spouse dad?

        In my previous role I could never leave work and my husband could pretty much always leave. So my kid getting sick meant I got called, then called my husband, then he went to get my kid.

    2. Yorick*

      I have a Google Voice number that doesn’t forward to my phone. People can text it or call and leave a message that I’ll see a bit later.

  11. Mr Jingles*

    #LW 1
    When it comes to setting boundaries with family it is really helpful to call them out on their behaviour. If someone still pesters you after you used Alisons advice you should adress their behaviour and tell them that it is disrespectful and rude.
    Family members sometimes tend to really push boundaries just because they believe family should cut more slack while forgetting this swings both ways. Sometimes they need to be reminded that they are gamily to you too and you deserve their support and respect just as much as they demand it from you.
    So I’d add as a last sentence for overstepping relatives.
    I’ve clearly told you I do not wish to discuss politics, how come you still push me despite knowing that? Please respect my boundaries!

    1. Paralegal Part Deux*

      They could also get a place of their own and not have to worry about living with family if this is going to be an ongoing issue.

      1. Totally Minnie*

        I’m guessing that, as with most new graduates, getting a place of their own is an item on LW’s to-do list. But that’s one that can’t be accomplished until one has a paying job, and the LW is not being unreasonable by trying to keep their living situation as harmonious as possible until then.

        1. UKDancer*

          Definitely, getting a place of your own can be difficult. In London deposits can be quite high for rental properties. I’m not surprised that someone at the start of their career might be living with friends or family to save up the money from a first job to be able to move out. I mean the only way I could afford to move to London at all to take up the job I’d been offered was to borrow the money from my parents to pay for the deposit and first month’s rent.

          Life isn’t perfect or ideal and sometimes living with family members with differing views is a compromise one has to make to be able to live in the vicinity of the work one does. I’m sure OP would prefer a place living elsewhere but that’s not always viable to begin with.

          1. LW 1*

            Yup exactly! In fact, I haven’t officially graduated – I take my last final in an hour! But my campus closed down after Thanksgiving so I had to go somewhere!

      2. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

        This is at least the fourth comment to the effect of “grow up and get your own place” that I’ve seen today. Do commenters on this site really think new grads are moving in with relatives for fun? Wake up and look around, housing is vastly more expensive than it was 30 years ago and wages are the same. Many industries are shrinking and there is zero safety net in the US, especially for freelancers and contractors which is what many jobs are becoming because it’s cheaper than an employee. All that was true even before Covid hit, and now it is literally impossible for many people – both young and non-young – to get by on their own. The lack of understanding of others’ situations here is astounding.

  12. Batgirl*

    There can also be a really damaging dynamic where older people feel almost duty bound to lecture a fixed position to younger people; it can be really unconscionable when said people have financial power over the younger person. But even when it’s peers and the difference in political position is slight, the mere fact that you’re related can make everything more fraught than it needs to be. Some relatives can talk politics with ease, but it’s not a given.

  13. Duvie*

    Op2: You’ve trained your boss to expect you to answer his questions, so you may have to take drastic measures while retraining him. If the remote cabin with spotty cell service doesn’t feel like it will do the trick, tell him you’re going on a spiritual retreat that doesn’t allow cell phones at all. Then actually go. A meditative retreat is a great way to short circuit burnout .

    1. Not A Girl Boss*

      I agree- begging people to respect my boundaries (especially ‘vacation’ boundaries) has never worked. I have to set them and stick to them and not give into the emotional manipulation. Eventually they start to believe the boundaries are actually boundaries.

  14. Green great dragon*

    #2 – if you do these things and he *still* calls you, would other family members pick up and politely explain you’re not available right now, maybe you could call back in a few hours, and ‘LW said she left you documentation of everything”? The general idea being to make it less convenient and quick than *looking at the instructions you left him*.

    1. Urt*

      If you saddle someone with replying instead of just temporarily blocking your boss, have them stop after “not available”. No calling back later, no doing work later.

    2. Workerbee*

      No answering the phone, period, when the boss calls. Someone else answering OP’s phone still gives people like that the expectation that it’s a gateway to OP, and the calls will continue.

  15. Mx*

    I was actually to recommend something like this, as I have this kind of retreat at least once/year and you don’t even keep your phone with you in these places. But with the Covid, the boss may have a hard time to believe it is happening. In normal times, that will be the perfect excuse !

  16. Juniper*

    “Just wanted to remind you that I will be unreachable during the next week. If you have any teapot billing emergencies, you can contact X employee. Otherwise it will have to wait until I get back, and I’ll make sure it deal with it first thing next Tuesday.”

    1. Momma Bear*

      This. I’d even put it in the sig line. In Outlook you can specify internal and external away messages. For internal emails, say that they can talk to x or y person about a or b things. Hopefully that will remind the boss that there are other resources, even if OP is the first one they think of. We also specify here if we are on PTO but somewhat available or not at all. I’d encourage OP to be “not at all” available. Try to anticipate the questions for the boss in advance and then enjoy the week off.

  17. Cal B*

    #4 No you haven’t overstepped, as a hiring manager it’s good to get other people’s impressions of candidates. In the past if someone has called in for a job and is speaking with our reception, I will often listen in to how the conversation goes (you can hear both sides pretty clearly on our office phones) – a lot of people are quite rude/aggressive/dismissive to reception but nice as pie to me directly! I will always ask the impressions of other in the office who have spoken/met a candidate.

    1. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

      When we were still in the office, after candidates left our office from the interview, we would always ask our receptionist for her opinion. While she didn’t have any hiring authority, anyone who was rude or inappropriate to her got removed from consideration. Some things are absolutely worth being deal breakers, even when it’s not the hiring manager who witnesses the behavior.

    2. Alldogsarepuppies*

      Besides all the human reasons not to be rude to the receptionist – it doesn’t make sense from a selfish person’s POV to be rude. If you get the job this person will be someone you work with daily – how do these people think its going to work for them when their receptionist hates them.

    3. Michael Valentine*

      I once had to call a candidate to reschedule her interview with my boss, and she was so rude! I told my boss she was not happy about the change. He wanted a total rundown of the convo and said that he’d consider the interaction when deciding whether to hire her. She was not hired.

    4. Joan Rivers*

      If jobseekers keep interrupting you, have you asked yourself why that could be? Could it be you?

      I always get introspective when the same problem comes up repeatedly. If I’m not interrupted by peers, maybe I act different in interviews? A bit more “pontificating” to jobseekers than w/coworkers?
      Are they interrupting to express interest? Or to speed me up? Or is it this stressful time we’re in? And you’re in it too.
      Because you say this keeps happening, and you’re the common denominator. But so is 2020.
      Who’s booking these rude people? Do they get interrupted? BUT rudeness is never OK.

    5. Alice's Rabbit*

      While working in retail in college, I often had job candidates drop off applications with me at the counter. My boss asked me to jot down notes in the margin about their behavior, etc. “Nothing special” was fine. But if they were rude, dismissive, or relying on Mommy to do all the talking? Better believe that got written down. However, if they were especially polite, that got noted, too. Same with their behavior as a customer.

  18. Cal B*

    #2 – Early the week before remind the boss – “As you know I’m on leave next week and won’t be available to you, so I am hoping you’ll have a chance to look over these notes I’ve made – that way we can run over any questions you have and make sure you are fully equipped for next week when I am not here. Please keep in mind that if there’s any hurdles they most likely won’t be too urgent, so we can always address them when I return the following week”
    Set the boundaries early!

  19. Retail Not Retail*

    Lw1 – you can and should follow the advice here, but you never know what will trigger a rant from someone about your work! I worked in a grocery store when my area allowed wine sales and at the time my relative was randomly managing a liquor store (he retired from something completely unrelated), so that spring when my friend and I visited oh we heard about how bad it would be (it has not been).

    I also know you’re not working now and maybe you’ll be working post covid but right now we’re all stuck in a political minefield wrt masking. We’re requiring it from the public to the point of giving maskless adults stickers so they don’t get pestered – I know if I told certain family members, I’d be chewed out for the policy.

    1. Joan Rivers*

      WHAT stickers? Please be aware that the public is willing to be responsible and wear a little mask for a minute, just like we wear a seatbelt when we drive to your store. Do you want customers who won’t wear a seatbelt? You know they’ll probably shoplift.

      1. Retail Not Retail*

        Oh we don’t have people who are “just” customers! This isn’t euphemism corporate speak ha, people are here safely for hours and it’s safer if you have a damn mask on.

        They’ve had to wear a mask in spaces where they are more strictly speaking customers since May and they comply.

        If you slap a sticker on your coat, I won’t say “please put a mask on” and get told why you can’t, and then ten minutes later the same process won’t repeat itself because your sticker announces you don’t have to wear a mask.

        This is all theoretical frankly because we’re dead during the day right now and this is a new directive in an anti mask part of the country. However i do know of someone who got an attitude and got kicked out! It cracks me up because you had to have the mask on to get here, we know you have it.

  20. Willa*

    #4 hiring managers want to know when someone is rude on the phone/during the process or any red flags. I’ve been on both sides. The hiring manager at my first job always asked us to write sticky notes on applications if anyone was a problem when they dropped off an application.

    Cw: fat phobia ahead

    When I was hiring for my last company we would direct the people who were interviewing to our retail location then we would bring them up to our office for the interview regardless of the position. After one interview the store employee called the two of us interviewing and told us a story.

    The woman we had just interviewed mentioned our floor was squeaky. The store employee said yes well the building is old etc etc.. The interviewee said to her “my house is as well which is why I don’t have fat people over”.

    Luckily she told us because she was our #1 top choice so far.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      We once had a woman call to ask about a position in my department. She called a more general number (not a huge deal but our department number is readily available online) but then was snotty to that department about being transferred to us. Luckily, one of them asked us what she was like with us on the phone, which was a strange enough thing to ask that my boss pressed for more information. We’re a reference-ish department: We can’t hire condescending jerks. (Besides, she was the one who didn’t bother to look up the number for the department she actually wanted.)

    2. Keymaster of Gozer*

      Speaking as a rather large lady I’d find it hard to not fire back some choice insults if someone said that to me! How’d the employee handle being told that?

      1. Willa*

        Sorry I forgot to come back to this. The two of us I interviewing her were also on the larger size but the employee she said it to was very slim which is why I’m sure she felt comfortable saying that to her. Cant imagine what she thought of us when we came to get her for the interview.

        The employee she said it to was horrified.

      1. Joan Rivers*

        Yeah, some insist on wedging a random bigotry in for no reason. Never good. “Fat” is one, and another is “Raging Atheism.” No need for them but other epithets are not OK any more so they cling to these.

  21. GDM*

    For LW1, do you have the kind of relationship with at least one of the relatives where you can just lay it out on the table, and say, “We have political differences, but I love you to pieces/I respect you/we all need to get through the time that we’re living together. Can we please agree not to talk politics?” I’ve worked on some controversial things, and I did this with my in-laws, whom we see all the time. We keep it as a rule for ourselves, and my MIL runs interference with dinner guests when we’re all together. I’ve found that my FIL is someone I can have abstract political discussions with (historical trends, big ideas) as long as we avoid partisan politics, and my MIL is happy to talk about the day-to-day stuff that makes up so much of work (annoying co-workers, successful meetings) regardless of the content.

    1. Twisted Lion*

      +1 for this. My spouse and I are political opposites and we jokingly tell people that we just cancel out each other’s vote. We try to avoid talking about politics but it does come up often especially this time of year. We just agree to disagree on how to solve problems.

      1. Carlie*

        Same. This year has been SO HARD. We each just remind ourselves that the other person is also trying very hard to avoid these topics.

  22. Guacamole Bob*

    OP#4, do you generally have problems with a lot of people interrupting you? You mention it’s a pet peeve – are these callers as a group ruder than others you interact with regularly?

    I ask because I have a coworker who would probably describe himself as having a pet peeve about interruptions. And I’ve never been able to put my finger on it, but I noticeably annoy him by unintentionally interrupting on a semi-regular basis, and I’ve never in my life gotten feedback that I have a problem about interrupting overall. Something about the rhythms of conversation with him just leads to it – he’s slightly rambly, a little repetitive, and doesn’t always pick up on nonverbal cues that I’ve the point he’s making and it’s my turn to talk now. And I think normal conversation often has some degree of interruptions that most people don’t notice because of how they fit the conversational flow, but which are like nails on a chalkboard to him. (As are laggy conference calls. He’ll leave meetings with audio problems that the rest of us tolerate because it’s basically physically painful to him.)

    If these callers are genuinely rude, then definitely pass that on to the hiring manager. But if there’s any chance that you’re overexplaining a very simple process (as my colleague would), not letting candidates get a word in edgewise, and/or are just very, very sensitive to interruptions, maybe keep your perceptions to yourself. The fact that such a high proportion of your candidates come across as rude to you made me think of my coworker, where it would be a shame to kick people out of the process based on his unique assessment.

    1. Mel_05*

      Yes, I have a friend who often pauses in such a way that I think he’s made a complete statement – but he has not. Then he gets annoyed that I’ve interrupted him. But he truly seemed done talking!

      I do think it’s also possible, depending on the tone of these interruptions, that people just get nervous and start talking too soon. I’ve done that in an interview. I was super embarrassed about it, it’s not normal for me, but it is a thing I’ve noticed I do when I’m nervous.

      1. Guacamole Bob*

        Yes, nerves could be making this worse.

        Having multiple candidates where you actually have to say “I am trying to help you and I can’t do that if you don’t listen” strikes me as a sign that something is off somewhere – even in jobs where I answered the phone a lot more than I do now, I don’t think I’ve ever had a call with a stranger that devolved to that level. And I’d probably find it frustrating and condescending to be told that, to be honest. I have pretty normal, professional conversational skills, so the kind of circumstance in which I imagine things going wrong like described in the letter is when someone tells me repeatedly that I need to apply by attaching a pdf resume but I’m calling in the first place because the system kicks me out unless I submit it in Lotus Notes.

        So I think OP should be pretty introspective here about their own communication style. They may well have hit upon a run of rude candidates, but there are other possibilities.

        1. juliebulie*

          Oh – that is a good point. It is really irritating when I call someone with a question, but before I can ask it, they tell me a lot of things that I already know. I want to say, “I already read that on your website. Here is my actual question which is not addressed by the website.” Maybe something like that is happening.

      2. juliebulie*

        Yes, some people pause a little longer than others, and that longer pause makes it seem like they’re done talking. I’ve gotten burned on that a few times with people I didn’t know well.

    2. Dust Bunny*

      I wonder, too, though, if the applicants don’t have in mind that they’ve reached some lowly desk jockey and don’t need to listen. I get that sometimes from people who think they should be able to have my department head on call all the time (we’re medical adjacent and sometimes deal with doctors who are big cheeses locally. One of them is so bad that my boss once hung up on him mid-sentence).

    3. EventPlannerGal*

      I think this is a really good perspective. For what it’s worth, taking phone enquiries and explaining things in detail over the phone is a BIG part of my job and although I’ve certainly had many interruptions, I don’t think it’s ever risen to a level where I’ve felt the need to admonish people to stop interrupting. It obviously isn’t impossible that the OP has just had a bad run of these people, but it does make me wonder if this pet peeve might actually be making OP react rather more vehemently than most people would to these interruptions.

      I also find (it’s been very noticeable during lockdown WFH) that people who I know IRL to be very polite, not-interrupting people often end up interrupting accidentally on the phone or on voice-only calls because of the lack of visual cues that would normally show them that you haven’t finished speaking. (I’m thinking of things like being able to see someone inhaling to continue talking, seeing that they are just looking at notes or their screen, etc.) They also interject with things like “uhuh”, “okay”, “sure”, “I see” etc where IRL they would be nodding, smiling, or otherwise showing visual signs that they’re following the conversation. It’s just part of talking on the phone where they can’t see you. Are these applicants actually cutting OP off mid-sentence and other full-fledged interruptions, or is it more like a lot of cross-talk and “I see”? The former is problematic, the latter is a bit annoying but also what I have always found to be a pretty standard part of how people talk on the phone, and not really something that I think reflects on anyone’s character in a meaningful way.

      1. stiveee*

        I’m glad someone said this because I’m the interrupter. It’s hard for me to judge via zoom or phone whether someone is truly done speaking. The minute I realize they aren’t I stop talking so there are a lot of false starts. I’m not nuerotypical so even in person, I have to be very vigilant because I don’t always read social cues correctly.

        1. Guacamole Bob*

          There’s a reason that if you google “conference call bingo” most of the cards have a square for “no, you go ahead”. Two people starting to talk at once is just a thing that happens a lot on phone and video calls.

        2. Ophelia*

          Yeah – I think it sounds like the OP does have some people who are railroading her on the phone, but it’s possible others are having this issue (I definitely do it, too, and am NT). I also have had a lot of meetings this year where there’s juuuust enough of a lag in bandwidth that this is exacerbated. So maybe consider both the interruptions themselves and the tone with which they happen?

      2. Pixel Slinging Boss*

        Hi, LW4 here. It’s a lot of being cut off mid sentence. I spend a lot of time on the phone, especially now, and I’ve learned to tell the difference.

        1. Pixel Slinging Weirdo*

          I may be particularly annoyed because the candidates are almost exclusively men, and I am not. The field I’m in has some problems with sexism.

          The instance that really stood out was an applicant who had trouble filling out a web form from his phone. I had to restart my sentence five times before I finally got out, “Can you try it from a laptop or desktop?”

    4. CatsOnAKeyboard*

      This was my first thought, too – that or the OP and the callers are having two different conversations.

      “Over the last few weeks, I’ve fielded many calls about the job and run into a fairly consistent problem: interested parties will talk over me when I try to explain the application process.” – this makes me wonder if the callers are calling in to ask about the job (culture, job duties, hours) and the OP is starting too early with “you’ll send in a resume and we have xyz rounds of interviews” – and they’re interrupting not out of rudeness but the opposite, they want to make sure they’re not wasting OPs time until they know they that the job is something they’re interested in.

      1. Reba*

        Still, though, it would be fine at this point for the OP to direct them to the hiring process — those kinds of questions can be answered in a later stage. She’s not obligated to help people who want to get in a mini-interview before even submitting an application (*that* is wasting OP’s time!).

        I wonder if saying something like “I hear that you have questions, we usually address these at X step of the process” might help?

        Are the same questions coming up repeatedly, if so maybe that’s something that should be in the job posting.

    5. CM*

      I had the same question reading OP#4’s letter. If this is happening frequently, and you know you have a pet peeve about being interrupted (me too!) it’s worth trying to recalibrate your response — think about the actual words the person is saying, and whether someone else hearing the conversation would agree it was obviously rude.

    6. boo bot*

      Yeah, I definitely struggle with people who make long pauses; leaving a pause makes me feel like I’m not showing any interest in what the other person is saying! I grew up in an interrupting family, and it took me a while to understand that it’s a whole mode of conversation – you can only speak Interruption with other, willing Interrupters!

      I’ve mostly retrained myself, but I still tend to feel like I need to fill “dead air,” especially on the phone. The OP did say “talking over me,” so I’m inclined to think they’re dealing with more than accidental interruptions, but I do think it’s wise to be thoughtful about their own reactions.

    7. Joan Rivers*

      Thanks! I said this but less explicitly. My feel was LW might be reveling in being “in charge” while talking, or acting like the company culture is the world [and s/he is the authority figure].

      If candidates KEEP interrupting it’s a sign. Maybe LW isn’t listening to their actual question. What are they saying when they interrupt? We don’t know.

  23. Richard Hershberger*

    LW1: To reinforce Alison’s advice, my go-to tactic for dealing with people who want to have a pointless conversation is to have a short, unhelpful response that doesn’t naturally lead to further conversation, and to repeat this response every time, using exactly the same words and intonation. My end of the conversation might be repeating this response half a dozen times. Eventually even the slowest person figures out that this is all they are going to get, and will wander away looking for another victim.

    1. Mr Jingles*

      I’ve heard this ben called the broken record technique and used it on my parents. It’s annoying as heck and veeery effective!

  24. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    #2 – I had that situation once. I was taking a trip to Britain for two and a half weeks. This is before cell phones. My manager asked, “can you file an itinerary, where you’ll be, with phone numbers?” I told him that other than the first two days, when I’d be at a B&B in the north of England, and the last three days (London), I had no itinerary.

    One co-worker asked “well can’t your tour planner give you one?” I said “the Anon-2s are free spirits. We have rented a car. We don’t have any specific plans or agenda.” Further dialog – we’re not on a “tour”, no, not a Magical Mystery Tour, we’re doing what we want to do. One staff member thought it was strange that we’d do it as we did.

    Odd people.

    #3 – in my last job – I carried my personal cell phone but we had a conflict because the company wanted me to carry a cell phone – but , the company wouldn’t pay for it! They started mumbling about “policy” and I said there’s a de juro policy here – the company won’t pay — the DE FACTO policy is, the manager can waive it, it’s been waived for EVERYBODY ELSE, and I’ll get one when the company treats me like everybody else.

    Because I made that complaint, the management “stuck to their guns” and wouldn’t waver, so – gee – the customers were the ones who got burned. And they couldn’t bother me.

  25. Construction Safety*

    LW2, depending on the relationship & relative criticality, I might put him on a progressive discipline schedule:
    1st time he calls, wait at least 2 hours to call him back,
    2nd time he calls, wait at least 4 hours,
    3rd time = 6 hours…

  26. Cris*

    Talking with your family is not a deposition! My first real job was for Planned Parenthood, and my family is Catholic. Vagueness is your friend. I learned very quickly that saying “I work for Planned Parenthood” regardless of audience, would invite the person to tell me their personal views on abortion and sometimes try to debate me. Saying “I work in healthcare” and then if they pressed on “I help people get insurance” was the way to go when I wanted to avoid a conversation about it. They will get bored when you give extremely uninteresting answers.

  27. Ray Gillette*

    LW3, I know this doesn’t address the management aspect of expecting you to use your personal phone, but if your company is already using Zoom, adding Zoom Phone to your plan is not a lot of money – something like $10 per user per month. If they push really hard on you needing a phone to do your job, you can pull that option out when you push back and say “okay, if I need to be reachable by phone, you should provide me a phone.”

    1. Nanani*

      They should also pay that 10$ a month. Work costs are work costs and LW should not voluntairily pay any of them without a clear reimbursement plan.

    2. Phone Grinch (LW3)*

      Oh, this is really good to know! I didn’t realize Zoom had a Phone function.

      The funny thing is, my company has never explicitly asked that we share our personal cell phone numbers. It’s just something that almost everyone else did of their own volition.

  28. Lily Rowan*

    The “tidbit” suggestion in #1 reminds me of Thanksgiving 4 years ago, when I really didn’t want to talk politics with the diverse family group, so had in fact stored up some conversational gambits. At one point, I said generally to the table, “Does anyone else watch Jane the Virgin?” (or something similar) and the distant relative next to me lowered her voice and said, “I like SAMANTHA BEE!” I laughed, since at that point I didn’t actually know her politics….

  29. been there done that*

    #1 is interesting. I find that I don’t have as much of a problem with it as you would think. Everyone wants to talk about it of course, but I’m proud and excited by what I do, and not about to debate that with family members. Your extended family members are always going to disapprove of something, whether its your boyfriend or your children or your job. I think the standard techniques – not giving too much information, lots of “that’s interesting”, “I’m not discussing it” – and then changing the topic etc – work here too. If you do want to try and change their minds, more power to you, but its not necessary. You would be surprised at how many people in progressive politics have very conservative relatives.

  30. Former Retail Lifer*

    #3, I’m also going to tell you to use Google Voice. I’m in property management and neither I nor my maintenance guy are issued work phones, but he is literally never at a desk and I sometimes work from home or at another location. We can call who we need to call, but after work hours we have everything set to silent with a voicemail that says “This is an unmonitored Google Voice number” and gives the office number and an emergency number to call instead. It works perfectly for us, and we can write our phone costs off since we do have to use them for work.

  31. PO'd about PTO*

    Hi OP#1! Worked in public policy for many years, in the Capitol, on campaigns, and now I do government relations (aka lobbying, just sounds better as government relations). The best advice I have is to set a rule, the no talking about politics after hours rule. Be strict about it. Just explain to people that however many hours of your week you already spend talking about, thinking about, and worrying about politics for your job, you don’t like to talk about it in your non-work hours. That would be like you making someone talk about their job and only their job everytime you see them. One time at a bar a friend of a friend started yelling at me about some policy, I think it was school choice, I kept saying I didn’t want to talk about politics until finally I threw my business card at him, told him to call between the hours of 8-6 because at least then I would get paid for putting up with his yelling and left. But seriously, it is important to be able to tune out work during non-work hours so I don’t read or watch the news outside of work, don’t discuss politics with friends or family regardless of whether they agree with me or not. I have found that it is a really important boundary for me to set to avoid burnout.

  32. HRBee*

    #3 – Like Alison said, I’d be curious to know if they reimburse any part of your personal cell bill. My company also requires everyone to use personal cell phones, though we do have company provided office lines as well. However, we also receive a monthly cell phone reimbursement depending on the level of expected use of our personal phones ($25 for those only expected to use it during work hours, $50 mostly for managers expected at any time, but still not too often outside of normal hours, and $75 to $100 for directors and c-suite who will use it constantly).

    1. Phone Grinch (LW3)*

      Hi there! The company does not reimburse any portion of our cellphone bills.

      My company hasn’t explicitly asked us to share our cell numbers with customers, it’s just something that almost everyone else has decided to do of their own volition. More of a company culture thing than a hard rule.

    1. PO'd about PTO*

      I am guessing you meant to respond to me? Anyways, keep your chin up. Public policy is one of the most rewarding fields there is, at least in my mind. You can affect change at a local, state, or even national level. I’m not sure exactly what sphere of public policy you are going into, but one of my favorites was always constituent work. Yes, you get people who call you all sorts of names and yell at you, but then every once in a while you get to genuinely help people. I would write down little sticky notes of everytime I actually got to help someone and put them in a folder for when I felt bogged down by the bureaucracy. Like one time a victim of domestic violence called my former office in the Capitol because her ex husband had turned off the utilities to her house, they were under his name and in order for the company to switch them over to her they needed his consent (which he obviously wouldn’t give) so my office ended up finding a work around and passed legislation to streamline the transfer of utilities in cases of domestic violence. While it may not help many people, it can help some and at least now my state has measures in place for those cases. To paraphrase the words of Invictus by William Ernest Henley, at the end of the day your head may be bloodied, but it will remain unbowed.

  33. CubeFarmer*

    #3 is easy, and it’s what I’ve done in the past before our phone system allowed for forwarding: get a Google Voice number. That number became my “work cellphone” and since Google Voice was so easy to control, it was very easy to simply turn the number off “You’ve reached Cube Farmer’s cellphone, which is not accepting messages, please call my office line at…” when I wasn’t on the road.

    #1 is harder. My boss and I have a pretty good arrangement. We only call each other on vacations when there is an enormous emergency. I will say that one time recently, during WFH, I freaked out about something and called her completely forgetting in the moment that she was on vacation. I apologized, she was chill about it, and that was that.

  34. LogicalOne*

    3. If your company has the budget for it, you may want to consider trying to get your company to get you your own work smartphone for business purposes. You may be able to get a discounted rate depending on the phone company you go with and the industry you’re in. I used to work for a company where the folks upstairs had their own smartphones to be used for work purposes so no one could bother them at home (unless it was an emergency).

  35. Bookslinger In My Free Time*

    LW 2- I have one of those jobs where when we are busy, I work from home if I am sick because my backups can’t cover my job and theirs effectively- the calls, emails, and texts really don’t stop. So as this year was epically rough for many reasons, I announced in April that I was taking the full week of Thanksgiving off (because by then it was our slow season so I wasn’t throwing anyone in the deep end) and that my work phone would be off, no calls would be forwarded, no emails checked. I put that in all my out of office messaging and did exactly that. They handled everything fine, and what did come up didn’t come to me at all. I find being really clear and firm helps curb the “I just have one thing to ask” that inevitably turns into “it’s just faster if I do this” (I am bad about that, so I have to be firm on my own boundaries too- I actually did not charge my work phone while I was out for that week just to keep from checking it).

  36. The Rural Juror*

    For LW #3: We do use our personal cell phones for work, but are paid an allowance to cover part of our phone bills. Even then, I STILL don’t give my cell number out to everyone. All my clients have it, but they’re all local and are good about not calling after 5:30 or so. I am selective about giving it to our subcontractors, and I definitely don’t give it out to any vendors.

    I’ve only ever had one or two people abuse the privilege of having my cell number, but it was enough to leave a sour taste in my mouth. One subcontractor used to call me at 7am pretty often, even after I told him multiple times I’m not in the office until 8:30. In your case, with clients and contacts across multiple time zones, I’d recommend being VERY selective (if you give it out at all). Or, like Alison suggested, have your company pay for a Google number. Hopefully you can set it to ring during a window of time where you’re keeping office hours. Good luck!

  37. Lisa Babs*

    LW1. You might even be able to get away with being even vaguer than Alison suggested. Just say that you are “applying to a range of jobs that would utilize my new major. You have to cast a wide net in this job market.” Say it cordially with a smile and then move on to the weather or some other subject.

    1. Lisa Babs*

      and if you want to include more you can say something like “mostly public sector and non-profits”. Whatever very generally describes the jobs you are applying for.

  38. Cthulhu's Lawyer*

    OP1, I’m an elected official in a very progressive area in a progressive state in the U.S. I have dealt with this problem before, though not while also living with my conservative relatives. In addition to Alison’s suggestions, something that has worked for me is to say “Politics is my work, and I prefer to only discuss work at work. I’m sure you’re the same.” Of course, our political work is also what we’re passionate about! But drawing that hard line of leaving work at work for your family may help. Good luck!

  39. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

    LW5, my old boss used to love doing rejection phone calls. When he and I were interviewing for a job working for me, it came up in our director’s meeting (him, myself, and my two counterparts who reported to him) that interviews had concluded and I had personally contacted the non-selects. When he asked why I emailed instead of called, my two counterparts backed me up that there’s nothing worse than getting a call from a hiring manager saying you DIDN’T get a job, since everyone expects you’ll get a call for an acceptance but a rejection is in writing. he was a bit sheepish and said he thought it was “nice.” We assured him it was NOT nice. We are also HR so he would refuse to give concrete feedback, too, for all the reasons Alison has noted in the past.

    Really, he just hated email.

    If he wasn’t retired, LW5, I would seriously think you had interviewed with him!

    1. TheRejected*

      It was the first time I’d ever received a rejection call. Even another job I was a finalist at the week before emailed. When I saw the number I was excited, but then had to maintain my professionalism after just getting a huge disappointment. The person that called me was nice and respectful, and the hiring manager sent me a LinkedIn request, so I suppose they do think highly of me, but it was a real awkward situation for me.

  40. HerGirlFriday*

    LW1 – I also work in politics in the public sector and my extended family is on the opposite side of the aisle as it were. Alison has offered some great tips. If you do want to share some of your work with your family, focus on projects. There is a lot of work in “politics” that’s not actually bipartisan. Construction projects, parks/rec facilities, solid waste and recycling management, etc.
    When my family asks me something that’s controversial about my work, I usually deflect. “Oh, that’s not in my wheelhouse.” “I’m not working on that, so I’m not really sure.” And then redirect. Doesn’t matter if I am privy to details. I just say I’m not. If pressed, “I’d really rather not talk about my work.” “I think we need to agree to disagree and change the subject.” “I’m not at liberty to discuss those details.” “Let’s not argue while we’re trying to enjoy our time together.”
    Normally, I would say it’s okay to be a little more confrontational and challenge their opinions and beliefs. But since you’re living with them, it’s important to focus on keeping your home life peaceful.
    I highly recommend journaling if you’re stressed. It’s very therapeutic to dump all your chisme and frustrations some place that’s secure. It’s also a good outlet for sharing anything that’s got you excited at work.

  41. Cassidy*

    #5 – I so feel your frustration.

    I was once unemployed for a whole year, and it was a very scary and demoralizing place to be. Of the 12 or so in-person interviews I went on, 11 rejected me, and 2 of those CALLED!!!

    I couldn’t believe they were so clueless. It it so unkind to not give people the space to react naturally to a rejection – which is exactly what an email does allow for. It was so painful for me to still have to be “on” for the sake of the people who called; I was sad, mad, and desperate, all at once, but mostly furious at their insensitive policy to CALL a candidate to say “Nope, sorry.” In fact, in one of those two case, the caller waxed poetically about the candidate who did get the position (not her qualifications, but HER). Just….clueless! At least the other person who called seemed like she didn’t want to, so she was just doing her job.

    DON’T CALL, people!

    1. TheRjected*

      Yeah, I am used to it. I work in a highly competitive field. You don’t get most jobs you apply for. I’ve gotten some really funny rejection letters. One large company sent me an email explaining how applying for a job works. Another was tone deaf and just terrible. I could at least laugh at those because they were a good indication about how they view their employees, but I was just like you. It’s tough because you can’t react. You have to be professional and basically grin and bear it.

    2. Email please*

      Tangential story… Last summer I got called in to the job I’d been working from home for months, only to be told I was going to be laid off permanently. I had started a temporary layoff a week prior and I knew finances were in rough shape, but I was expecting to come back in a month with a pay cut or extra work duties and the news blindsided me completely. I sat there stone faced for a moment, and barely made it to my car before breaking down. Why did I have to risk my safety for something that could have been said in an email?

  42. Duckles*

    LW1 I would really, really try to find alternate housing. I went to stay with my far-right parents the month before the election because wildfires/smoke where I had been living had gotten so bad, and the constant stress of living there was actually worse— I actually left early to go back. It’s a fine suggestion to change the topic /if they have other interests/ but unfortunately politics are some people’s main hobby and it’s impossible to avoid and a horribly draining way to live. I would plan for the worst.

  43. Phone Grinch (LW3)*

    LW3 :-). I so appreciate all of your thoughtful suggestions and anecdotes!

    I had explored Google Voice early in my tenure at my current company, but had trouble with figuring out how to use it solely on my computer (and not have it ring my phone) and have the voicemails sent to my work email (we don’t use G Suite.) I’ve learned so much from the comments section (you all are great!), so I’ll look into this further and certainly share insights with others like me!

    I recently discovered that there is a VOIP component to a sales/service outreach platform we use. It’ll give me the ability to dial out and receive calls on my computer without going through my phone, so that’s something I am leaning towards.

    For some additional context, I think the “root cause” of why I am so protective of my cell phone number is from my time working at a nonprofit early in my career. I was entry-level and making less than my city’s minimum wage if we factored in unpaid overtime, and I was the only person working on one of their seasonal programs. My cell phone number was shared with all program participants without my knowledge or consent as the “emergency number”. For weeks each year, I would be woken up at 2-5 am with phone calls that were important but not emergencies. It’s been almost 10 years, but I think my time there fundamentally shifted my approach (or protectiveness) surrounding work-life balance.

  44. "I work for a non-profit"*

    LW 1: Co-sign Allison’s advice and the folks who’ve said it really doesn’t come up as often as you’d think. That being said, it’s definitely helpful to just have a stock vagued up answer ready to go… not just for family, but for other kinds of small talk when you don’t feel like getting into a political discussion (for example, cab drivers, parents’ friends and co-workers, etc.). I work in reproductive rights advocacy and my stock answer is pretty much some version of “I work for a non-profit” or “I work in policy” or just “I’m a lawyer.” When family members who I know don’t necessarily approve of the subject matter of my work ask about work, I also end to veer in the direction of “I really like my co-workers” or “It’s been busy!” — very standard/relatable workplace talk.

  45. Wintermute*

    #3 Regarding personal cell numbers I ALWAYS preach the praises of Google Voice call forwarding. it’s brilliant for a number of reasons but basically you can forward a google voice number to your personal cell number and give out the Google number without having to give out the personal cell.

    It gives you a lot of great capabilities, first of all you can know when a work call is coming in so you can answer appropriately without having to always answer your personal phone like it were a desk phone at work. You can also disable the forwarding when you don’t want to be reachable by work for a period of time, whether you’re on vacation, attending to personal business, whatever. And it also gives you the ability to, if needed, put a voicemail message stating you’re no longer with the company on the google voice number, stop forwarding it, and both professionally and permenently handle the problem of clients of a job you had a decade ago still calling you because they wrote down your number in some rarely-used document someplace and never updated it.

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