I got in trouble for not going to the holiday party, and more

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

1. HR chastised me for not going to the holiday party

Last week we had our company Zoom holiday party and I took a vacation day that day partially due to my boss’s recommendation to use up vacation days before the end of the year. I wasn’t sure if I should attend or not, but it seemed like it wouldn’t be a big deal if I missed it from speaking with my boss other than to make sure HR knew I wouldn’t be able to attend. I was originally planning to attend despite that, but ended up getting ill that night (great timing right?). It wasn’t Covid-related.

I declined the party invite, but received an email from HR saying that the invite was sent a month ago (I requested and got the vacation day approval about two weeks before the party) and that I should’ve planned around this. I told him that I was sick and would attend if it was super critical, and he simply said he’d leave that up to me which seemed like unless I was bedridden and could barely move I needed to attend. My opinion is that, even if I weren’t ill, vacation time is my time and I shouldn’t have been required to go unless I wanted to go regardless of when I sent my vacation day approval. Granted, that could be my inexperience talking (I’m less than a year into my first professional job). Of course, since it was during work hours, I get it being mandated if I didn’t take a vacation day and would have happily attended, but that’s besides the point.

Is it standard for companies to require these types of social events when not on the clock? And what type of social events other than holiday parties are typically required?

Some companies do require attendance at work social events — either explicitly or implicitly — but those companies are usually toxic in various ways. (The exception to this is if you’re in a relatively senior management position; in those positions it’s reasonable to expect that you will make an appearance at big events, like a holiday party.) Even at companies that expect attendance though, you can usually get out of it if you have a conflict with the date (like being on vacation! — WTF?) or if you’re sick (again, WTF?).

It’s especially ridiculous in your case that HR is the one pressuring you; this kind of pressure usually comes from individual managers who put too much weight on showing up, not from HR.

I’d let your boss know that HR chastised you for explaining you wouldn’t be there and you’re wondering what’s up. If I were your boss and heard that, I’d be having serious words with HR — but even if she doesn’t do that, it’s useful for her to be aware they’re giving you crap about something so far from warranting it.

Now, all that said, is is often wise to attend a company holiday party even if you don’t want to, if you’re otherwise available? Yes. Make an appearance for an hour, be seen, leave. It’s good politics, and that can have a real impact on how easy things are for you in that company. But again, only if you’re actually available; expecting you to alter your plans or attend while sick is the province of dysfunctional companies.

2. Should I drop out of a hiring process because they won’t have an answer for a few weeks?

I have been interviewing with a company that I really want to work for. They have been enthusiastic in every interview and have told me I was a great fit and even the projects they’d like me to work on. The final interview was with the VP and she was less warm but it still went well. Human Resources contacted me yesterday to let me know the VP wants to interview more candidates before making a decision so they won’t be able to tell me either way until early January. Some of the advice I’ve read online says that I should move on and let them know I’m not interested any longer — but the truth is that I am and I really want this job. What do you think? Is the fact that they’re interviewing more people after talking to me a bad sign?

You’re reading advice that says you should drop out of a hiring process for a job you still want just because it takes a few weeks longer than you’d like? Who is recommending that?! Whoever it is, listen to them about nothing because that’s absurd and self-defeating.

Hiring often takes longer than you’d like. It often takes longer than the people involved in it expect it well. It often takes longer than they tell you it will. That’s just how it goes. Don’t drop out of the running for a job you still want just to make some sort of point.

And no, it’s not a bad sign that they’re still interviewing. It’s normal to want to talk to multiple candidates before making a decision. It’s possible that they meant to interview five people, did interview five people, and still don’t have anyone they’re sure is right … but it’s also possible they’re still mid-process with others and aren’t ready to make a decision before finishing that. The only thing it means for sure is that you didn’t wow them to the extent that they’re willing to short-circuit their process and hire you immediately, but that’s the case for most hires.

3. Do we have to include people who opted out of Secret Santa in our breakfast?

Our office is doing a secret Santa gift exchange. Out of 25 employees, four are not participating. The 21 of us decided to have breakfast during Secret Santa. We will chip in money to buy breakfast. Are we obligated to invite the four who are not participating to have breakfast with us?

You’re not obligated to invited them — it’s an activity they’ve already opted out of — but I’m curious about why you sound like you don’t want to. What’s the harm in saying, “You’re welcome to join us for breakfast during the gift opening if you’d like”? As a general rule, it’s kinder to offer to include than to exclude. (And you can let them know how much they’d need to kick in for breakfast.)

4. My coworker thinks my name is something it’s not

I am involved in a project with a colleague who is senior to me but in this project I’m the lead. We have great rapport and things are going very well. There’s just a small embarrassing issue, which is that at some point I guess she misread my name and is convinced that it’s a different name. My first name is weird for English speakers and probably her brain just changed it to something that made more sense to her. I’m not offended by this and hoped she would just realize at some point after seeing and hearing the name many times, but that’s not happening. Now it seems strange to bring up. But do you think I should?

Yes. Otherwise you’re going to continue to get called by the wrong name. And at some point she’s likely to figure it out and it’s going to be weird that you didn’t tell her! Just be matter-of-fact about it: “I realized you’re calling me X but my name is pronounced Y.”

She might feel embarrassed! That’s okay. We all feel embarrassed about stuff periodically. She’ll recover, it’ll be fine.

5. My great-grandboss keeps trying to sell me on the company’s credit card plan

About once a month for over a year, I‘ve been getting snail mail from my great-grandboss urging me to sign up for my employer’s credit card. We are a hotel chain; our card is designed for people who travel frequently (think at least 60 nights a year in hotels). I am an hourly employee who can only travel when I have free nights through my job perks. This comes off as really insensitive, but is it meant that way or am I being oversensitive? Does he really think I travel two months a year on what they pay me? Does he just have a quota for credit card signups and is trying anything he can think of? And is there a way to get this to stop, or do I just keep throwing out his letters every few weeks?

It sounds like you’ve somehow ended up on a mailing list he’s using to promote the card. I doubt he’s personally targeting you with individually written letters every month, or that he’s thinking, “When is Jane going to come to her senses and get this great card?” It’s weird that you ended up on the list in the first place, but I wouldn’t read any more into it than that you’re on someone’s mass mailing list.

You can just continue throwing out the letters or you can say to him, “Looks like I somehow ended up on the promotional list for the credit card — I rarely travel, so we should probably take me off the list.” But don’t assume there’s any real pressure here.

{ 371 comments… read them below }

  1. Bob*

    LW1: I suspect HR does not believe you got sick and thinks your just making it up as an excuse.
    That said, it changes nothing about Alison’s advice.

    1. anon73*

      Could be, but if her boss okayed the time off, it’s none of their business whether she really was sick or just told a little fib.

    2. EC*

      Still, a party should not ever be mandatory. Especially not a zoom “party”. I can’t think of much less appealing than virtual enforced fun.

  2. Fiona the Baby Hippo*

    LW1, that is so bizarre, epsecially because it was remote! It’s not like the HR person had to make a per-head deposit at a bar. (and even if they did… people get sick??) I know some offices are sending ppl gifts in advance of holiday parties with things like treats and wine, but that also seems like something you’d want everyone to get regardless if they wanted to stare at zoom more at the end of their workday.

    1. pleaset cheap rolls*

      HR probably feeling pressure to show they are performing, such as getting good turnout for the party. It’s stupid.

      That said think how refreshing it would have been for the OP to say “Yeah, I actually took that day off as vacation to avoid the party – I don’t enjoy parties. I hope it went well”

      I started being more frank about skipping holiday parties after a couple years – changing from “I had something to do” to “I don’t enjoy parties” and it was liberating.

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, I did the same. My first few years at my current job, I attended pretty much every party at the office that I got an invite to, and I also enjoyed myself there. Then, a few years ago, all the Christmas parties became six-hour cruises (all-inclusive buffet, so they could get around the company rule of a maximum of two drinks paid by the employer per person per event, and the cover price was always very cheap), and after one such party, I noped out of attending any more parties that I can’t leave when I’m all peopled out. I do enjoy the occasional drink, even with my coworkers, but I want to leave before people get really drunk.

        Luckily it hasn’t had any consequences for me at work, only about half the office attends these things at the best of times, so I’m in good company.

        This year, they had a virtual party on Skype, or rather several, but somehow I just forgot to sign up because I was so busy. I did hear from some of my coworkers that it was more fun than the in-person parties they’ve attended in previous years…

        1. KHB*

          “I did hear from some of my coworkers that it was more fun than the in-person parties they’ve attended in previous years…”

          I’d be interested in hearing how they accomplished that, if you have any information – because “work party” and “virtual meeting” are, in my opinion, very much not two great tastes that taste great together.

          (We didn’t have a “party” this year per se, but rather a holiday-themed all-staff Zoom meeting with no agenda other than to express appreciation for our accomplishments this year, or some such nonsense. I bailed on it halfway through because I couldn’t stand it anymore.)

          1. Good Vibes Steve*

            My company party this year organised an online escape game, where we were put in small groups and had to solve riddles over video conference… and that turned out to be WAY more fun than I expected. Some of it was with the whole company (over 100 people), most of the time in a group with just 3 other people I didn’t know well but enjoyed getting to know, and then a virtual prize ceremony. I recommend it to anyone trying to figure out remote team-building.

            1. Joy*

              Same! For my group’s little party (10 people), two colleagues organized a work-thematic (we are nerds) virtual escape room and it was AWESOME. Had us combing through our poorly organized shared drive for picture hints, calculating things using various references, finding hidden passwords to documents, etc. For our division-wide party (~50 people), they organized a series of challenges – digital pictionary, trivia in various forms – and had us work with our divisions and compete for points. It got a LITTLE heated but was super well done and I truly enjoyed both more than the usual awkward mingle and snack set-up.

            2. Max*

              Yeah, this year my company did two things. First we hired a guy to play music for us on Zoom. Whatever we requested that he knew, not specific music, and there were only a few holiday songs which was nice. Then we had a virtual escape room which was a lot of fun. Normally I don’t like team building stuff, but this was a great example of doing it right.

            3. Quill*

              Oh, nice!

              … I wonder if I could get one of those going for my family, as my gifts are NOT going to make it to them on time.

            4. DarnTheMan*

              We always do program group specific parties (so each C-suite member does something for the teams that report to them) and ours was fun; all the directors gave short speeches, we played holiday themed Family feud and that was it – fun but short. (And then we all got gift cards for a food delivery app since my city is still in lockdown)

          2. Smithy*

            My team’s holiday zoom party (which was only about 20 people) was actually really fun.

            For a start it was only an hour, and unlike the reality of many in-person holiday parties – those are never just the hour of being there, but travel to/from, and the realities and demands of being physically present. Then the team that planned the party, clearly worked very hard to be mindful of what did work and didn’t. Ultimately it was a holiday scavenger hunt in our own homes with assorted silly tasks (i.e. you have two minutes to turn yourself into an elf) that could all really be done while being on mute.

            There was a way for folks to engage fully and competitively, as well as to be a good natured non-participant. If in future years, I was given the option of an in-person holiday party or doing another one hour Zoom party like that…..I’d pick the Zoom.

          3. Anna Badger*

            My work did a really lovely zoom party – they had zoom rooms for all sorts of different activities. People played games, watched films together, did arts and crafts (i mostly hung out in that room and drew for a few hours), and did a big quiz. they also sent everyone a delivery voucher to get drinks and food in.

            1. Cj*

              We are having games on zoom this morning, like versions of Wheel of Fortune and Family Feud. I think it sounds kind of fun, but you had to sign up ahead of time so you could be assigned to a team, and I didn’t think I’d have time to do it. Our firm has five different locations, which are participating together, but we are also in the office (private offices so plenty of room to social distance), so there will probably be lots of in person laughter heard throughout the building.

              After the games, we are having pizza delivered (again, even in a common area we can easily remain 6 feet apart).

              Since we didn’t get to have our fancy restaurant party, we each got an extra $100 added to our annual bonus, too.

          4. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

            Ours had each team (6 total) and upper management put together a 2-3 minute video as a montage/recap of the weirdness and mayhem that 2020 has been for the team and then we did a toast with the beverage of our choice to a better 2021. Sounds lame, but was honestly pretty hilarious (e.g. manager had a cat on her head because all claws pounced on one call, the breastfeeding support team did a re-enactment of some of the awkward pump support calls they had, top bosses did a whole video of them not being able to start the meeting because of audio, video, sharing SNAFUS). Best part is it was all of 35 minutes and we had the whole day off prior

          5. Ophelia*

            We did one yesterday – it was actually pretty fun. Everyone was encouraged to bring their snack/beverage of choice, and a few people were asked to create activities (trivia, silly quizzes, a game where everyone had to identify British foodstuffs) that were doable on a videoconference. Our team is only about a dozen people, so it was manageable, and fun. And it was during work hours, taking the place of a regular team meeting/running until the end of the day.

          6. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

            My department did a virtual, hosted game room. We were randomly divided onto teams and played through a series of games (trivia, pictionary, emoji decoder) that actually ended up being pretty fun. I did wish I could have left but it would have been so incredibly obvious I had to stay, but I’m glad I did because once we figured out the platform it was actually pretty fun.

        2. SheLooksFamiliar*

          ‘I noped out of attending any more parties that I can’t leave when I’m all peopled out.’

          Same here. I like people and behave myself at office events, but I’m also a total introvert. Once I reach my limit, I gotta go.

          But I sometimes forced myself. I used to bow out of company-sponsored events with the corporate version of a party bus to take us to the venue. Nothing says ‘party!’ like feeling like a hostage. My then-grandboss casually commented that he missed seeing me and some teammates at a recent event, and gave me a certain look. From then on, I went to every other event. It wasn’t always fun, but it was the right, team-buildy thing to do.

          1. Richard Hershberger*

            I used to sneak a paperback into my pocket. When I got peopled out I would go find a corner or a stairwell or broom closet and decompress with my book. Nowadays with Kindles it works even better. Get spotted reading a book and you are a weirdo. But reading a device? It is assumed you are checking football scores or the like, which is OK.

            1. TexasTeacher*

              That is interesting. A bit off topic but I noticed when I take my kids to the park to play, if I’m reading a book, it’s fine. But if I’m looking at my phone, I get the side-eye of being a bad mom not watching her kids!

              1. pleaset cheap rolls*

                And if I’m out with my little boy and when HE is sitting reading a book we tend to get MAJOR thumbs up.

              2. Richard Hershberger*

                Interesting. I never noticed this, back when my kids were of an age to be taken to the playground. This may be a male/female different expectations thing.

            2. Keymaster of Gozer*

              It’s one of the few times I actually like having a disability. I can duck out of any social gathering with a ‘sorry, pain levels, have to rest’. I keep a kindle in my car so I can go sit somewhere and just read :)

            3. Artemesia*

              I got snarked at at a book club for ‘being on your phone’ — I had the book we were discussing on kindle on my phone. Some people are behind the curve.

              1. TardyTardis*

                I hear you, but I love lifting my phone and saying, “the newest Stephen King/Ken Follett book only weighs *this* much”. There’s no way I could have made it through say, Alan Moore’s JERUSALEM in deadtree.

        3. Warm Weighty Wrists*

          One of the things I love about my company is that they understand there are people who do good work who also don’t want to go to parties. At our holiday zoom party there was a whole segment recognizing a guy who’s retiring soon, fully knowing dude has no interest in attending any work party ever and was for sure not on that call. He’s still a valued colleague, we still say nice things about him and recognize his work, and one of his friends will relay the words to him.

      2. Urt*

        We typically only have to say yes or no via Outlook invite, but if I asked I do them the reason since I’m not opposed to the year end party. I’m opposed to the year end party in Nowheresville that doesn’t have a reasonable public transport connection and I’m absolutely not relying on my coworkers when I don’t have public transport as a fallback solution to get home.

        (Nowheresville is surprisingly always near one or the others of the manager’s home, instead of the town the company is in.)

        Should they go back to holding the year end party in town, I’ll show up, because I like free food, the speech is typically not that long and there’s no games or otherwise.

      3. Elizabeth West*

        Same here. If it’s during the workday, I’m happy to show up, but after-hours is MY time. I have no interest in spending that limited time with coworkers, whom I see all day every day.

      4. Veryanon*

        I started doing that, too, as large gatherings of any kind tend to overwhelm me after a while. Of course, now that I’m isolated at home, I’d probably give my eye teeth just to see my colleagues again for a drink or lunch.

    2. Cat Tree*

      Yeah, bizarre is the only way to describe it. It’s…a Zoom meeting. So what if I don’t want to sit in front of my computer for an hour while my coworkers make small talk? And if it’s let than an hour, that’s just cruel.

      One year a coworker came to the department lunch on a vacation day, but we went to a good restaurant and it was paid for by the department. A Zoom party isn’t worth brushing my hair and putting on a real shirt on my day off.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        That’s what I am not understanding about company Zoom holiday parties. Aren’t they just all-hands meetings? At least at in-person parties, there was food and human interaction, and you could choose who you wanted to talk to.

        1. Lily Rowan*

          Yeah, our Zoom “party” was fine — mostly it was the awards presentation part of our typical holiday party — but THEN they put us into random break-out rooms, which was an OK idea, but my group was way too random. We are too big for that to really work.

          1. Richard Hershberger*

            Based on comments upthread, the idea seems to be to have small group activities, which I’m sure is great for people who like that sort of thing. Myself, I would use the time to clear out my email inbox.

        2. Myrin*

          Yeah, barring any kind of activity where people are broken up into smaller groups – like the virtual escape rooms people mention above – I’m having a hard time imagining what an online work party even looks like. At a face-to-face party you can walk around and stop by any random group you like or even have a one-on-one conversation if you so desire but I can’t really see that happening via Zoom where everyone is talking at the same time.

        3. Maggie*

          Our company provides gift cards to order yourself a meal for delivery, which is a plus. We did a Zoom with silly question prompts (small group of people) and it was pretty cheesy but only 30 minutes so I didn’t mind. Oh it was also during the day.

    3. Momma Bear*

      I think it’s weird that HR is taking issue with this. I guarantee that people RSVP to in-person events and can’t attend at the last minute, too. I would mention it to the manager in case there’s some nuance OP missed, but their manager gave them the day off so….I wouldn’t expect someone to call in from their day off for a virtual party. It’s like being out of town.

    4. Womanaroundtown*

      This reminds me of what happened at my company zoom this year: backstory, my agency is very tight-knit and most staff have known each other for decades. There are about ten new staff hired within the last three years, of which I am myself, along with three others on my direct team. Our great-grandboss invited everyone to do a secret Santa this year, sending things to people’s homes. He was also participating. No one on my team signed up for it, as most of us don’t know the rest of the agency very well and didn’t want to deal with buying things for our superiors/senior staff and trekking to the post office (we’re in a city, so it’s not like we can just easily drive. The nearest post office to me is a mile walk with no convenient subway). So then our actual boss tells us that the agency is upset with our morale because our team didn’t participate, and they’re berating her for not fostering a strong team environment. She’s not an amazing boss, but this was not our fault. Fast forward: the holiday zoom is scheduled during a time that my team still has a standing work appointment (court – we’re lawyers, and we’re in court until a certain time three days a week). So despite this, we’re only supposed to miss an hour. Conscious that the agency thinks we’re lacking morale, my coworker and I jump onto the zoom as soon as court is over, an hour after schedule. And within two minutes of jumping on, they end the “party” and all sign off. I have never been so flabbergasted – you accuse us of lacking morale for not participating in a gift exchange, but then when we try to engage to show we care, you make it literally impossible for us to do so. It was so bizarre. Dysfunctional agencies are just even more so during covid.

  3. CmdrShepard4ever*

    OP 4 when I was working retail a seasonal employed called me by the wrong but equally common name that started with the same letter. At the time I figured they were seasonal so I didn’t bother correcting them since they would only be there a few months. But then they got hired on permanently, at that point it was 3 months in I felt bad that I had not corrected them. That was how one employee in the whole store knew me by a different name for the next 2 years.

    In short correct the name issue quickly so you don’t end up like me.

    1. insertusername*

      Oh gosh, this kind of happened to me too. Someone I really liked used a different pronunciation for my name. I didn’t think I would be staying at this job or even in this city very long, and it really didn’t bother me… so I just went with it. Well…I did end up staying in that job, my social and work and volunteer and life circles started expanding and overlapping, I met a personal friend through my job who then knew me by this new pronunciation of my name… he was instrumental in getting me a lead for my next job and introducing me to the new job’s management…. so I kept going with that name… It had gone on too long that then it felt too late and too weird to correct it… well it’s five years later, and now I basically have a new name. My mom came to visit me and I had to tell her to how to say my name in front of people…. and of course she messed it up!!!

      So yes, agree on the post above – curb this early!!!!

      1. allathian*

        Eh, I don’t get it. Unless you somehow actually wanted to change the pronunciation of your name, you had tons of chances to correct people… and just didn’t.

        I’m bilingual from birth. My given name is one that’s pronounced differently in each language. I have absolutely no problem with people who pronounce my name in a way that’s natural to them due to their first language, even if I don’t pronounce it that way myself. But I realize that I’m speaking from a place of privilege, because my name is so common in Europe (and its former colonies) that all European languages have a recognizable version of it. A little effort and understanding goes a long way, it’s certainly worth trying to learn to pronounce an unfamiliar-sounding name correctly, but I’m certain that I probably get names wrong in any tonal language, because I just can’t hear the difference.

        1. OP4*

          If it was just pronunciation I really would not bother, or notice. No one can pronounce my name unless they come from my small home country, not even my husband gets it “right”. The problem here is that she’s made into an entirely different name. Think Jenny/Dennis or similar.

          1. Asenath*

            I sometimes get called by one of a couple of names that are different from my real name – usually one that begins with the same sound, but a different spelling – my name begins with “Ch” pronounced as “Sh”, and several names that are more common than mine also begin with the “Sh” sound, so I sometimes get one of them. My parents liked the name, but there have been so many times that I wished they’d named me almost anything that was (a) more common and (b) had one and only one common spelling, not that there seem to be many names with that criteria these days. When I was a child in school I used to make up different names for myself. Anyway, I did adjust to my name, but I also corrected it first time every time and learned to automatically give the correct spelling if the person was going to write it down or look it up in a database. That reduces confusion and provides an early correction for those who make a mistake with it.

            1. The Rural Juror*

              I’m the same way. If someone asks me my name I say it, then immediately start spelling it if I know they need to write it down (like when I’m at the coffee shop). It’s pretty easy to get mine wrong, even though it’s common enough.

              My parents wanted to name me after my great-grandmother, but her name was an old-fashioned one that was one letter different than a kind of common name. That one letter made the pronunciation different, so had they named me that I would have been fielding mispronunciations for all my life! They ended up naming me the kind of common name very close to her name, which I like :)

              That name is also similar at a glance to another extremely common name, which I get called all. the. time. So I understand your annoyance, OP. It’s not just a mispronunciation, it’s a completely different name! Although, in my case both names are common(ish) to English-speakers. I’ve had to correct people plenty of times, even after knowing them for a while.

          2. SomehowIManage*

            On many occasions (MANY) I have played the role of the kindly third party who has corrected someone, e.g., “His name is actually pronounced Taylor, not Tyler.” Having a third party do it can help save embarrassment for all.

        2. Spencer Hastings*

          I go by a nickname, or try to, but in my masters program I basically gave up. I’d always introduce myself verbally as Nickname, and I’d sign off emails as Nickname…but there’s only so many times you can go “actually, I go by Nickname” before it just gets really exhausting and feels not worth it. (Especially when it happens in a lecture of 50 people, as it often did in my case, it doesn’t feel worth taking the time.) InsertUsername has more right to interrupt and correct than I did, since people were actually getting her name *wrong*, but I understand if there’s a feeling of “eh, screw it.”

        3. insertusername*

          It was my own fault. All of it. The guy was really attractive and it sounded so nice the way he said it, that in my head I was like oh okay, he can say my name any way he likes! It was just a part time job and I didn’t think I would ever see any of these people again. I actually did try to correct him once early on, but I don’t think he heard me or it didn’t register, and I never tried again. Mostly because I was smitten and liked the way he said it. If it had bothered me I would have spoken up. But then all my personal and work worlds starting merging and everyone knew each other and by then it was too late to tell him he had been pronouncing it wrong the whole time. Sigh – anyone else I would have corrected. And then every new person I was meeting in every area of my life somehow knew him or was connected to him, and he made the introduction to the people who ended up hiring me and being my new employer. I know, I know. Somehow this took on a life of its own. I don’t even mind when people pronounce my name differently, it bothers me more when they spell it wrong, but if I could go back in time, I would have made a few more attempts at telling him from the start. Oops.

      2. Deliliah*

        One of my coworkers has a Spanish-looking name – think Jesus – but it’s pronounced like the American/European version. So Hay-zeus versus Gee-zus. He started as an intern and the CEO called him Hay-zeus and he was too scared to correct him. Then he got hired as a full-time employee and a full YEAR later, the CEO referred to him as Hay-zeus in front of others who were like, “Um, his name is pronounced Gee-zus.” The CEO gaped at Jesus who sheepishly nodded and the CEO said, “Why didn’t you tell me?!”

        1. Indigo a la mode*

          Oh man, that happened to a high school classmate of mine who was from Belgium. We all got to know him as Oliver for an entire year. Then in second period of sophomore year, our teacher read the name Olivier (pronounced as in French, Oh-liv-ee-ay) off the roll call, and “Oliver” raised his hand. We were gobsmacked – no one had ever realized or been told that “Oliver” wasn’t actually his name.

          Most of switched over without much trouble, though some did pick up a weird thing of calling him “oh-liv-ee-air” from then on.

    2. Hapax Legomenon*

      At a job a few years ago, a manager called me Jess, and I didn’t catch on for months. My name sounds nothing like Jess, but he was from another state and would say it so quickly I couldn’t tell he was saying “Jess” until it had been a few months. I thought he was using some dialectical variant of “ma’am” or “miss” that I didn’t recognize. By the time I was sure he was calling me Jess, it had been four months, so I decided to roll with it–since I have plenty of siblings, I’m used to responding to whatever name people remember first. Then a girl who went by Jessie started in my section, and someone else corrected him because it was causing confusion, and he mocked me gently for a few months for never correcting him.

      1. Quill*

        I have a very unusual name and a LOT of cousins so I’m pretty used to people hunting for my name at this point.

        Strangers always add more stuff to my name than there actually is, relatives run down the list of people younger than them until they get to me… my favorite is when my uncle, a good ten years older than my mom and aunt, would just start at the top and go down, yelling (Names changed, obviously) “Anne Betty Carol Diana Elizabeth FRANKLIN” despite the fact that he’s started in the wrong generation and he’s not yelling at one of the only two boys in the family. And now my cousins have kids and it’s like playing whack-a-mole because we’re starting to get even more similar-sounding names.

        1. turquoisecow*

          My grandfather on my mom’s side did this. He had 8 kids and 10 grandkids so there were a lot of names and it wasn’t that he didn’t know who you were or had memory issues, it was just that there were so many names. So sometimes he’d run through four or five names before he got to the right one. Everyone found it kind of funny.

          1. Quill*

            Oh, it’s a combination of there being so dang many of us and, er, brain to mouth linkage that runs in the family. Everyone does it once they get old enough. It’s HILARIOUS but also kind of a pain in the butt.

        2. EC*

          This is what my grandmother does. Luckily I’m the first grandchild so she gets to my name pretty quickly.

    3. Batty Twerp*

      I want to point out, from the flip-side of being the person who got the name wrong (we were introduced at the office Xmas party, it was loud, I misheard, and the spelling wasn’t indicative enough to correct itself in my head) it will be momentarily embarrassing. For about 10-20 seconds.
      Conversation towards the end of January went something like this:
      Me: “Hi Z-oh-e!”
      Her: “Um, it’s Z-ooo-ee.”
      Me: “Oh? Is it?! Oh! Oh, I’m sorry about that! Thanks for telling me.” (Mental note to also update my supervisor who had been getting it wrong too!)
      Correct it early and without a huge song and dance, and, assuming your coworker is a reasonable human being (not always a given on this site) she will have a momentary wobble while she recalibrates, apologises, and then gets it right going forward.

      1. TL -*

        One of my new coworkers was telling me about their efforts get to know one of the people they support (they’re an admin) better – they said his name wrong 3 times in the conversation and finally I said, “well, for starters, his name is pronounced X, not Y.”

        I was a little puzzled by how she got the name wrong when she’d be introduced and heard multiple people pronounce his phonetically-spelled name correctly and she grew up in an area where the language his name was in was very commonly spoken, but there ya have it.

    4. OP4*

      Hi!, I’m glad to have my question answered here. I kind of wish I had dealt with this in the beginning but I wasn’t sure that she actually misunderstood the name or if it was just a typo in her emails. Then I thought she’ll catch it soon enough, but now it has been about 9 months or so. My feeling around this is that pointing it out signals “look at me, I’m so important” – weird, I know, but the same culture that comes up with names that are impossible to pronounce also really frowns upon seeming presumptuous!

      1. OP4*

        And I’ll add that if it was jut pronunciation I really would not bother. Not even my husband can pronounce my name. But in this case it’s making it into an entirely different name. Think Jenny/Dennis or similar.

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Think of it as a kindness to her — the longer you let it go on, the more times she’s embarrassing herself in front of other people by getting your name wrong. It’s a courtesy to her to let her know.

        1. Super Admin*

          Yeah, this. I’d be mortified to find out I’d been getting someone’s name wrong for any length of time. OP4, please correct them sooner rather than later – better small embarrassment now than ‘ohhhhhhhh nooooooo, why did you let me call you that for a whole year?! oh god, I’m so sorry’ down the line :D

        2. Not A Girl Boss*

          Yes exactly. I found out I’d been pronouncing one of my best friend’s name wrong for 8+ years…. at her wedding… when I said to her mom “Doesn’t Friend look beautiful?” and her mom was like “that is not how you pronounce my daughter’s name” and stormed off. I wish my friend had just told me!!

          Of course, I say this as someone who is now known by her favorite Starbucks barista as a wrong pronunciation because he is so nice and I didn’t want him to feel bad when he went to the effort to remember me by sight…

        3. Reba*

          Strongly agree. OP4 you can also say “sorry, this is awkward, but I realized you have been calling me X. Common mistake, my name is Y!” Often acknowledging the awkward helps get the needed words out, and you just say it in a friendly way and in a few minutes it will all be over.

        4. GreyjoyGardens*

          Yes, yes, yes, agreeing with Alison and all the other commenters! Correct her now: “My name is actually Jenny, not Dennis.” That will save you having to hear the wrong name and her so much embarrassment – I’d want to crawl into a hole and hide from my coworker forever if I got their name wrong for years and they didn’t correct me.

      3. Dandy it is*

        I had a supplier who called me by the wrong name for 9 months. Even though my emails were clearly signed with my name, he still used the different name. I never bothered to correct him as I figured he would figure out or he wouldn’t but it didn’t impact our interactions much. Until…we were having a problem due to his lack of attention to details. The situation ticked me off to no end that I finally used it as one of the examples of his inattentiveness. I did not foresee him calling me to yell at me that my name was really the name he was calling me and not what I just told him! I replied of the two of us, which one of us would have a better idea of what my name actually is and if you don’t believe me, check the emails.
        I now correct people if they use the wrong name or misspell my name. Not because I care but they get so weird about it if they figure it out later.

        1. Super Admin*

          Wow. Wow. Woooow. What a tit.

          I am someone with a very common English name, which frustratingly has many common short forms. I routinely get people I have never interacted with seeing my full name in my email address, and then addressing me as short-form-name. I tolerate some of these, but one in particular is a less common short-form that my now-deceased brother called me. I am not ok with randos calling me this. You bet I correct them.

          1. DefinitelyEnoughDetailToBeIdentified*

            Yup. (Sorry about your brother BTW)
            It’s almost irrational how being called the wrong name can upset you, but it’s YOUR NAME. It’s part of your identity.

            My name is (for the sake of example) Nicole. I’ve also been called Nicki and Nik (and N by my cousin, Devin, who likes to take the mickey. I call him D in ‘revenge’). I don’t mind Nicki – it’s an acceptable short-form and one I occasionally sign my email by. But you have to be an incredibly close personal friend to call me Nik, and this is never written down at work. So when my ex-boss started doing it, it really got my back up, and I went back to signing _all_ my emails as Nicole. (A touch passive-aggressive, but actually correcting her in the moment didn’t work)

            1. Jay*

              I have the opposite issue. To continue your example, my given name is something on the order of Nicki. It is not Nicole. I can’t tell you how many times paperwork has been returned to me “because we need your full name.” That is my full name. I can follow directions.

              There are also people who feel it’s presumptuous to use a nickname when they don’t know me well, especially at work, so they say “Nicole” because they think it’s more respectful. I correct it immediately, mostly because the long version of my name is very common and I always assume people are talking to some other Nicole and don’t respond.

              And then there are the people who are responded to my EMail which I’ve signed “Nicky” and they start theirs with “Hey Nickie!” Aargh.

              1. KHB*

                I can commiserate on the last one – my name is one where there are two fairly common spelling variants that differ by one letter, but a fairly visible one, like with Sarah/Sara. I sign my emails “Sarah Smith.” The “from” line says “Sarah Smith.” My signature panel says “Sarah Smith, Ph.D.” And yet so freaking many people reply with “Dear Sara.” Sigh.

                I even had a situation like OP4’s, where a colleague consistently addressed me in writing as “Sara.” I thought she’d figure it out eventually from seeing me write it “Sarah” all the time – and eventually she did, but not for almost a year. Six months in, I remember wondering if it was worth correcting her, or if it would be too awkward after letting it go on for that long already.

                1. Sara without an H*

                  You have my sympathy. Up until two years ago, I had colleagues named “Vicky” and “Vicki.” After years of having people email me as “Sarah,” I made a point of taking the extra five seconds to verify the spelling before I sent an email to either one.

                2. curly sue*

                  I have the Alison/Allison issue, where everything – email signature, syllabus, EVERYTHING – has my name spelled with one L, and I can’t count how many people will lead with ‘Allison’ even after being gently corrected. Some kind of massive mental block.

              2. Not A Girl Boss*

                My boss exclusively goes by Nikki but so many suppliers try to address her as “Nicole” as some kind of respect or something… that’s not even what Nikki is an abbreviation for. But I remember agonizing over what to address her by when I sent interview thank yous, because she verbally introduced herself as “Nikki” (soooo many potential spellings, I did not get it right) but her full name was used on the meeting invite.

                Of course, at our tiny company we also have literally 4 Michael M’s and I wish at least one of them would give in and go by an abbreviation or a last name or something because it is so confusing.

                1. Quill*

                  Ah, the curse of the common male name. And in the professional world you can’t solve it like we did in school, with calling them things like Short Mike, British Mike, and Meatloaf. (I was in drama, we named people after food if we had repeats.)

                2. Elizabeth West*

                  We had four Daves at OldExjob, two Dales, two Carls (and one Karl for a while), two Mikes, two Steves (one retired later), and two Marks. The company was small enough that you could mix people up if you weren’t careful. Most people would refer to the duplicates by their full names, like
                  “Dave Fergus went out to lunch. Talk to Carl Warbleworth about the schedule.”

              3. Quill*

                Oh god, same, but also my name is extremely rare so I have a lifetime of substitute teachers trying to make it into a more common name and people asking “but what’s your REAL name?” behind me.

                And then I started working in a very international industry and those questions just stopped. Because everyone is trying to get everyone else’s unfamiliar-to-them names right.

              4. Aquawoman*

                That happened to my son, which has the same kind of name, except that the “perpetrator” was one of the credit reporting agencies. Instead of using the name that he always used, that was on his birth certificate and social security card, they just decided his name was something else. And then he had trouble fixing it because he couldn’t prove he was “Nicholas” because he wasn’t!

                1. Colette*

                  When I used to purchase software, people would “correct” our email address – which meant I’d have to spend too long tracking down our software licenses, since they were sent to an address that didn’t exist. Eventually I clued in and had IT set up an alias under wrong address that redirected to the right one.

            2. Guacamole Bob*

              I was on a training the other day where the instructor called on me using a short form of my name that I never, ever use. Your example of Nicole is similar enough – I sometimes go by Nik in my personal life but everyone at work only ever calls me Nicole. When he called on Nicki I literally didn’t hear it as my name, and assumed he was talking to one of the other dozen people on the video training session. At one point I realized belatedly and unmuted to say “Oh, sorry, I didn’t realize you were talking to me because I go by Nicole and not Nicki” and yet it continued. Fortunately class participation wasn’t required to get credit for the training because at least once I just completely didn’t hear him call me and didn’t answer.

              I’ve asked colleagues a few times about nicknames, if they were introduced to me by a full name but I hear others use a nickname. Even if I’ve known them for years, in some cases: “I noticed that on the call so-and-so was calling you Matt, but I’ve always known you as Matthew. Do you have a preference?” Often people don’t care, but sometimes they really, really do. It’s only ever awkward for maybe 5 seconds, tops, but it’s easy to fall back on being a Nicole who doesn’t like being called Nicky as a reason for asking about it.

              1. Idril Celebrindal*

                Oh gee, I get you on the not hearing it as your name thing. My name is one that has a lot of common nicknames, and I go by one of them exclusively. I still get people calling me by either the full version or one of the other nicknames, and I don’t even hear them as mine. I’ve had people get mad at me for ignoring them when they have been calling me by a name that isn’t mine and I didn’t respond.

              2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

                Yes, this happened to me once on a team meeting! My boss, who should’ve known better, called on me using the wrong name, say Diane instead of Diana. We have a Diane on the team, so I assumed he was talking to her, and walked over to the kitchen to pour my coffee. As I was walking, I heard “Diane? Diane! DIANE! Are you on mute Diane?” Had to run back to my computer to unmute and to ask him if he meant me. (He did.) Awkward.

                1. Guacamole Bob*

                  Video/phone calls are worse for this kind of thing, because you don’t get any of the nonverbal cues that you’d get in an in-person meeting about who they might be talking to.

              3. hayling*

                I had a boss named Christina who only went by her full name. She had a story about being on a conference call with colleagues she didn’t know that well. One person kept referring to “Chris” and assigning work to this person. Christina just thought they were talking about someone she didn’t know. After the call she was horrified to realize that they were talking about her, and she had not thought to write down all the tasks that “Chris” was taking on!

                1. tangerineRose*

                  Chris/Christina are such common names, I’m not surprised she thought they were talking about someone else.

                2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

                  My friend’s son is Christian, shortened to Chris, and people then lengthen to Christopher and wonder why he’s not answering.

              4. Librarian1*

                Yeah, I’m similar. My name has two versions that are really close to each other and growing up there were always tons of girls in my classes who had either my name or the variant, so I learned to completely ignore the variant. If someone calls me that, they will not get an answer.

                On the other hand, I one time knew someone who for some reason called me a completely different name that was nowhere near mine and still forgot sometimes after I corrected her so I just learned that if I hear her voice saying that other name I should answer because she’s talking to me. It was funny. I’m guessing I looked like someone she knew with that name.

            3. Jackalope*

              My work email has my full name (let’s say Katherine) but I go by a nickname (let’s say Kat). I always sign emails with Kat but people from work who don’t know me well never pay attention to that and always call me Katherine. I get so annoyed with that since it’s in my email signature every time. I get where it’s coming from but still. Once I had a coworker in my unit who refused to call me Kat despite me correcting him multiple times; he said that wasn’t what was in the IMs he got from me and he couldn’t be bothered to learn my nickname. I was not sorry when he left our office.

              1. TL -*

                Oh I occasionally email a Michael who goes by Mike and it’s about 50/50 if I get it right. It’s worse because I’ve never met him in person (only over Zoom a time or too.) So the email address I have to search by Michael and then I usually remember it’s Mike after he responds.

                1. ObserverCN*

                  I want my co-workers to call me by my nickname, but I also use my full name for some things at work, so some of them use that (and someone recently used my nickname when I wanted him to use my real name!). I usually know they’re talking to me, though.
                  I have a first name that can be spelled several ways and a last name that’s a little hard to spell/pronounce, so I automatically spell them for people when I’m providing them for the first time.

          2. Cat Tree*

            I usually look at how the person signed off in a previous email and use that. If I’m initiating contact, I usually go with the full first name in the directory. If I’m talking through messenger or in person, I’ll often just ask what they prefer. None of these things are hard to do, and I have little patience for people who don’t bother.

            I have a common name with three common spellings (a nickname exists but is rare). I hate when people get the spelling wrong in email, when the correct spelling is literally right there in the address field. If people can’t bother to glance upward for a second, that is really irritating. And sometimes it’s confusing because my name is so common that there is often another person on the project with a different spelling of the same name, and people who are careless about spelling usually don’t bother to clarify last names. So I have to evaluate the context of every email to determine if I need to take action or just be informed.

            Seriously, it’s not that hard to make a small effort to get someone’s name right.

          3. Richard Hershberger*

            Yeah, all of us with common English given names get this. My username is also my real name, and also what I use. What mystifies me the most is how people decide which of the various common nicknames they will assume I use.

            Then there is my last name. It is spelled entirely phonetically. No literate English speaker should be the least bit mystified by how to pronounce it. But it is a whole three syllables!

            1. BellaDiva*

              I go by Sylvie. That is in my address block and what I sign off with on emails, and introduce myself as. So many people still call me Sylvia (or, if returning a phone call, ask for Sophie, but that could be my accent).

          4. Elizabeth West*

            Mine too, and I dislike certain diminutives of my name because of prior negative associations. For example, there was a gross dude in college who insisted on calling me Beth no matter how many times I told him I do not and never have used that nickname. He claimed he wanted to be “special.” No, buddy, you’re not special; you’re just creepy.

            It’s okay to call me Liz, but to this day, do not call me Beth. I will not ever answer to that.

            1. Richard Hershberger*

              I’ll see your Beth and raise you a Dick. Though in fairness, this is rare enough nowadays that I can take someone using it on me as a deliberate provocation.

              1. Elizabeth West*

                Makes sense; you don’t hear it that much anymore. Another negative connotation is Richard “Tricky Dick” Nixon, although most younger people don’t make that leap.

                I used to work with an older Richard who only went by Dick. He said he decided to just own it, lol.

            2. Guacamole Bob*

              My name also has several diminutives, and I am forever confused by people who just… start using one without asking whether there’s one I go by. I’d never assume an Elizabeth was a Liz because they could also be Lizzy or Eliza or Liza or Beth.

        2. Mel_05*

          I had a pharmacy that always typed my last name wrong. I didn’t fuss at them, because it’s just the pharmacy and I was getting my prescriptions fine.

          But one day they insisted they didn’t have a prescription for me. I insisted they must, checked with the doctor, explained what it was and asked them to check again.

          On the third try one of them finally offered up, “We have that prescription for a Mel Jozes but not a Mel Jones” as if they had not been handing me prescriptions for a Mel Jozes for years inspite of all documentation having my name as Jones.

          1. Tired of Covid-and People*

            I would have corrected this immediately. It is important that all prescriptions for the same person be recorded under the correct name to check for drug interactions and to avoid insurance problems.

            That said, I believe names are important. My name is not common and when misstated immediately correct it nicely by just saying, “It’s whatever”. I don’t get the reticence to correct people mispronouncing your name, or worse yet, renaming you. If I have any doubt about how to say or spell a name, I just ask, especially when meeting someone for the first time. It’s not that hard and take little to no effort. Be respectful of people’s names.

          2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            For me, one such typo escalated in admin and got onto my French social security card, along with a mistake in my DOB. They required me to prove that these were mistakes, so I showed them my passport. They said they needed to see my birth certificate. So I showed them that. Then they said “but it’s in English” and I had to pay a sworn translator to provide a translation even though you didn’t even need to speak a word of English to see how my name was spelled and which figure preceded the word September, which is septembre in French so perfectly guessable.

            1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

              (oh and my British passport was in both English and French, just to make the whole thing even stupider)

      4. TechWorker*

        Wanting to be called the right name does not signal ‘look at me, I’m so important’ (!) it’s just required for interacting with someone.

        Plus how confusing will it be if they need to talk about you in a conversation with someone else and that person has no idea who they’re on about?

        1. Tired of Covid-and People*

          It sure doesn’t! It’s just basic respect, geez, wanting to be called by your actual name is hardly grandstanding.

        2. Empress Matilda*

          Actually, I disagree. Wanting to be called the right name *does* signal “look at me, I’m so important!” And that’s exactly what we should be saying. Because if you think about it, the alternative is “don’t look at me, I’m not important, it’s fine if you get my name wrong.”

          This is not an unreasonable expectation – all of us deserve to be seen and recognized as individuals. There’s nothing wrong with saying “this is important to me,” especially with something as fundamental as your name.

          1. Myrin*

            Not to put too fine a point to it – and I don’t mean for this to be nitpicking at all, but I actually think it’s important for interpreation in this case – but I think what makes the difference here is the little word “so”.
            “I’m a person and I’m important”? Yes, absolutely.
            “Sooooo important, oh, look at what I’ve cooked up now so that everyone has to pay an unduly (!) amount of attention to meeee!”? Not really.
            And wanting someone to call you by the right name is an example of the first case, not the second one.

      5. Myrin*

        OP, I think you need to adjust the way you’re thinking about this issue, even if it might be hard at first – it’s not self-important or presumptuous to let people know what you actual name is!
        And you can largely control the amount of awkardness yourself, really; you can say something like “I just recently realised you’ve been calling me X but it’s actually Y” in a friendly, conversational tone and if the other person is reasonable, they’ll be embarrassed for about half a minute and then it will be over and done with.

      6. I edit everything*

        Does she email you in the course of your work? How does she get your email right, if she has the totally wrong name? Every work email ever has had my full name in it. Maybe she just replies…

      7. BluntBunny*

        It’s never too late to correct them. I had a friend at Uni Zayd I assumed it was pronounced how it is spelt Zay-d and had been saying it that way for over a year. Then he introduced himself to other people as Zed I was like what?! He said yeah that’s how you pronounce my name, I said why didn’t you tell me I was saying it wrong, I had been introducing him to other people as Zayd as well. He said he didn’t mind me mispronouncing it as we are friends it bothers him when other say it wrong though.

        Also I have a name that isn’t common anywhere and is misspelt and missprounced all the time so it is something I am sympathetic about.

      8. MCMonkeybean*

        To be totally honest I think I might have done the same thing in your shoes, but I think even though it very well may be awkward there is a 0% chance of her thinking that you are self-important for wanting to be called by your name! Any potential awkwardness would stem more from her thinking poorly of herself than of you (though there may be a bit of “omg why didn’t they tell me sooner” mixed in, but mostly only as further extension of their embarrassment about how long they have been calling you the wrong name).

    5. Forrest*

      I had the opposite—when I was 19 and in my first job in an office in Germany, the two women who worked in the accounts office were introduced to me as Frau Goy and Frau Colditz and I totally missed the moment to work out which was which, so I just had to treat them as joint entity for the whole six months I worked there.

    6. Cat Tree*

      My last name has a weird vowel order so people get it right only about half the time. Most people in a work setting will either directly ask, or say it with a question mark at the end and leave a little pause in case I want to correct them. But I had a boss at my last job who got it wrong, and confidently said it wrong every time (which is weird in retrospect because his own last name had the same weird vowel combination as mine, but he pronounced that part the same as the correct pronunciation of my name.) He was just a generally strange person.

      Anyway, I knew that I had to correct him. So the next time he hit it wrong I politely corrected it. He seemed weirdly annoyed that I had interrupted him and was kind of dismissive about it. But he got my name right after that. I’m glad I told him even though he reacted worse than most people would.

    7. Veryanon*

      The lady who schedules my daughter’s therapy appointments keeps calling me “Christine.” My name is not Christine. I have corrected her numerous times, and then she’ll go “oh haha I’m so sorry” but the next time we interact, it’s back to “Christine.” Maybe I look like someone named Christine whom she knows? Maybe she’s just a jerk? It’s weird.

    8. A lawyer*

      I used to get my hair cut by the same woman for pretty much my entire life, starting from age 5 (she was my mom’s stylist) up until my 20s. Once, I was getting a haircut around age 20, and she went on this long tangent about how the receptionist kept saying my name wrong and how she had to correct him…except the receptionist had it right and she had it wrong. After 15 years of knowing me. And the worst is when I handed her my credit card at the end, since I presume she saw that she was wrong based on the name on the credit card. I never corrected her, I moved to another city shortly after so I never had to deal with it.

    9. North European*

      I agree with the commentariat that you should correct the name issue quickly. However, I would not have too high hopes that the person necessarily will be able to hear the difference between the right and wrong name versions. They might honestly think they are saying your name right, although it is not even near. I speak six languages and try to give great attention to pronounciation. I also sing classical music as my hobby (numerous different languages as you know), where correct pronounciation is very important. I work in an international team and I am often absolutely perplexed how my colleagues pronounce each other’s names incorrectly repeatedly, despite hearing the correct version. I think they really cannot hear the difference. Luckily it is a very friendly team and nobody is offended and should not be offended. The level of English proficiency is very varying across the countries and everyone is very understanding.

      1. MCMonkeybean*

        It sounds like this isn’t a pronunciation issue so much as saying an entirely different name. I have a pretty common name but sometimes people mishear it as a different also common name. Like if my name were Annie and they thought I said my name was Jenny.

        1. North European*

          Mispronounciation and an entirely different name are on a continuum. There is no black-and-white border, where the first becomes the latter. When people speaking unrelated languages pronounce each other’s names, it can result in such incorrect pronounciation that it actually is another name, like in your example. And sometimes they genuinely do not hear the difference! My everyday work colleagues have Turkish names, Irish, German, Finnish, Indian, to mention some, in addition of the more abundant Biblical names (in one or another form depending on the language). There is no way of telling, when a mispronounced name actually becomes an entirely different name, if you do not speak their language and do not know the choice of existing names in that language.

      2. UKDancer*

        Sometimes I genuinely can’t hear the difference. I had in my last company a Spanish colleague. I will swear I said his name the way he told me to say it. He would swear I did not. I genuinely can’t hear a difference between the way he says it and the way I say it. It sounds the same. I am really trying to get it right but apparently not managing.

  4. TootsNYC*

    I think Alison herself often says “move on” when you don’t get a call back—but that doesn’t mean tell THEM you are withdrawing.

    It means that in your own head, you stop focusing on or investing in this job.

    1. Stormfeather*

      And only to the extent that you’re not constantly fretting over it or making plans contingent on getting it. Still put in any effort (well, not ANY effort, don’t wanna join a bunch of people making dinner for the CEOs during COVID-19) required to get the job, just don’t assume it’s yours.

    2. Aswin kini*

      I agree. But if a hiring process takes multiple months, say more than two, and the company is NOT a big name like Google, Microsoft or , I’d ask the OP to simply move on. I don’t know about the hiring process in the US, but in India, if a company interviews you and keeps you hanging for more than 2 months, it’s highly unlikely they will recruit you unless their original candidate opted out. I faced this with 5 companies out of which one kept me waiting for 3 months. The next time they called me, I was wise enough to not say anything and simply attend interviews from other companies to get alternate offers. Yes, it does suck investing time and waiting for the result, but unfortunately that is how the organizations work.

      1. CoveredInBees*

        This is definitely not the case in the US. In fact, it is far more common in smaller companies where there isn’t staff dedicated to recruiting and hiring. That means people have to schedule everything around their work and various candidates’ availability. I’d love to know that hiring processes would be shorter, but it isn’t feasible in my industry.

        1. CmdrShepard4ever*

          Yes during my last time looking for a job applied for several positions. I did an initial phone interview for one job and the told me they would follow up, I don’t hear back from them so I move on, accept a different position. About 1.5/2 months into the job, I get called for an in person interview. The job I had at the time was not great, no benefits and only okay pay. I went to the interview, and then don’t hear back and move on again. About a month later I get the job offered. Between application, phone screen, in person interview, and being offered the job it took about 4 months. So long timelines do happen. I took the new job even though I had only been at the current one for about 2/3 months because it was so much better.

      2. Daisy-dog*

        Agreed with CoveredInBees – smaller US companies, even those with HR, can take a long time to recruit for positions. Keep in mind that those interviewers are people and have life circumstances in addition to work requirements. Especially this time of year.

      3. Metadata minion*

        It can vary widely by industry in the US. Academia is notorious for taking *forever*, even for non-faculty appointments. Taking a year to get a managerial position filled is not at all unheard of.

      4. Cj*

        You say that if the hiring process is taking more than two months, you’d ask the OP to simply move on. But yet you say that when one company contacted you after three months, you were wise enough not to say anything but just keep interviewing. So you didn’t withdraw from consideration, you just moved on in your head. Which is exactly what Alison (and TootsNYC) are saying you should do.

        For the job I’m in now, which is the most awesome job I’ve ever had in my 35 year career, I started interviewing in the middle of July and was hired at the end of September. There were three interviews, which is about average, IMO, but between my schedule and a partner from another location busy doing extended tax returns and another partner’s wife having a baby, it just took that long. Stuff like that happens, *especially* in smaller companies.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Yes, exactly. The letter sounds like the LW is confused about what “move on” really means. It means YOU move on in your head, so if they call you, it’s a welcome surprise. And if they don’t, it’s no biggie since you’ve already moved on.

      1. Annony*

        I was also thinking that this advice sounds like a misunderstanding of Alison’s typical advice. Don’t count on getting an offer, keep looking but don’t withdraw if you actually want the job.

    4. Wannabe*

      Came here to say this! OP2, “Move on” means you do that emotionally in your own head, not formally (or informally) contact the company to withdraw! Keep job searching since you don’t want to depend on the job coming through, but you don’t need to tell them that.

      1. OP #2*

        OP #2 here – thank you for the insight. It was actually a Forbes article that had said I should withdraw from the process but I am relieved to read otherwise. It is a large company (US based) and the VP who decided to interview additional candidates is not the hiring manager.. but she is her boss so she has some pull obviously. I will try to mentally move on – as I continue to apply for additional roles.

        1. Nanani*

          Either some editor badly misunderstood AAM, or that advice is meant for a very specific demographic of job seekers and is not generally applicable.

        2. CC*

          If you mentally move on, keep searching, and accept another job offer before they get back to you, *then* you call and withdraw because you’re no longer available. It’s polite and allows them to not spend any more time on somebody who won’t accept a job if they decide to offer it.

          But as long as you’re interested in the job and willing to take it if offered, don’t withdraw!

        3. anon73*

          Yes, unless there are red flags that the company is not a good fit, or you realize that you’re no longer interested in the job you should never withdraw voluntarily from a job. Sometimes it takes longer to go through the hiring process, especially this time of year. Don’t give up other opportunities because you’re counting on this particular job, but keep it as an option if you still want it.

    5. Nanani*

      Yeah, I wonder if some AAM ripoff tried to put their own spin on the “move on mentally” advice they read here.
      Move on in the sense of, keep applying for other jobs and don’t assume anything about the current one. Not Drop out!

  5. Pennyworth*

    Secret Santa – it’s always better to be inclusive if you can. Why not just invite non-SS people and tell them it is $x per person for breakfast? As long as they understand they will be standing around watching everyone else opening gifts – which might deter them from attending anyway – where’s the harm?

    1. Viette*

      This is the obvious solution! It sounds like the LW might be annoyed at the idea of the non-gift-givers getting to eat food for free, but they can just tell them they have to contribute to the food money, even if they don’t do presents.

      1. doreen*

        How is Secret Santa inherently exclusive? I’m sure it can be but that doesn’t mean it always is.

        In any event – what the letter writer describes seems backward to me. Whenever I’ve been involved in a Secret Santa , it’s always been that the breakfast/lunch was planned first ,included everyone willing to chip in and then Secret Santa participants exchanged gifts at the party. Or the Secret Santa was entirely separate from the party, But never this, where the gift exchange was arranged and then the participants wanted to have an exclusive event.

        1. Thankful for AAM*

          Secret Santa is inherently exclusive because not everyone celebrates Christmas and Santa is part of Christmas. I don’t know a name for it that is not rooted in Christianity and Christmas.

          According to Wikipedia, “Secret Santa is a Western Christmas tradition in which members of a group or community are randomly assigned a person to whom they give a gift. The identity of the gift giver is to remain a secret and should not be revealed.

          Deriving from the Christian tradition, the ritual is known as Secret Santa in the United States and the United Kingdom; as Kris Kringel or Kris Kindle (Christkindl) in Ireland; as Wichteln, Secret Santa, Kris Kringle, Chris Kindle (Christkindl) or Engerl-Bengerl in parts of Austria; as Secret Santa or Kris Kringle in Canada and Australia; as Secret Santa, Kris Kringle, or Monito-Monita in the Philippines; as Angelito in the Dominican Republic; and as “Wichteln” or “Julklapp” in Germany. “Wichteln” is what a “Wichtel”, a wight, does, a good deed.”

          1. doreen*

            If that’s what was meant , I agree. I thought the commenter meant something about Secret Santa in particular was exclusive , not that it’s related to Christmas.

          2. Mid*

            At the risk of getting too off topic, the majority of my friends aren’t Christian and over 1/3 don’t celebrate Christmas at all, but none have had issues with Secret Santa. There is probably a better, more inclusive name for it, but the anonymous exchanging of gifts is something that 99% of people won’t ever have an issue with. In fact, my friend group is doing a Secret Santa exchange, and only one is actually Christian, and three total celebrate Christmas. The other 5 celebrate Eid, The Solstice, Chanukah, or nothing at all.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Your friends’ preferences are your friends’ preferences, but please don’t extrapolate so broadly from that. I know a lot of Jews (myself included, and I’m not even religious) who wouldn’t do Secret Santa because it’s not our holiday and some of us feel strongly about attempts to fold us into Christmas. Some would be fine with it. Some wouldn’t. But that 99% figure you threw out is almost certainly way off-base.

      2. Annie Moose*

        It sounds like the nonparticipants freely chose not to be a part of it, so I don’t see any way they were deliberately excluded.

        1. Annie Moose*

          I should add, I don’t like this (hopefully unintentional?) implication that, well, it can’t be 100% inclusive so we shouldn’t even try. Even if Secret Santa is exclusionary–whether you meant because it’s tied to Christmas and not everyone celebrates Christmas, or something else–that doesn’t mean that you can’t be as inclusive as possible within the boundaries that have already been set.

          No activity can ever be 100% inclusive. You do the best you can.

        2. Aquawoman*

          I think people need to try a little harder than “not deliberately exclusive” and try to be deliberatively inclusive. Not everything is going to work for everyone, but if the things doesn’t work because of someone’s status as a minority, that should be considered. The LW seems to think that the 4 people opted out out of unfriendliness. Maybe she knows something we don’t. But if any of those folks opted out because they’re non-Xian, then she is faulting them for not participating in an event that excludes them. If anyone opted out because their spouse lost their job and they’re barely hanging on with one salary, same.

      3. Rusty Shackelford*

        But the breakfast is separate from the gifting. I stopped participating in Secret Santa but always participated in the (potluck) breakfast.

      4. Jennifer*

        I guess you mean because it’s a tradition connected to a holiday that not everyone celebrates? If that’s what you mean, I agree. These four may not celebrate Christmas for whatever reason so they may not want to attend the breakfast either. No harm in offering, but if they decline I’d leave it there.

        1. OtherSide*

          They may not have the money for Secret Santa OR perhaps they may not have the space or patience for a chcochky if they do.

          There’s a myriad of reasons for not doing a gift exchange that have nothing to do with Christmas.

          I’m on the other side….I celebrate Christmas but I do not celebrate Santa. There’s an entirely secular version of “Santa/Christmas” that is not religious in any way.

          1. Jennifer*

            I realize all of that as well. But even if some people view it as a purely secular holiday, others may view it differently and choose not to attend. I realize it could be a financial issue as well, but since religion is a protected class it’s really important to tread carefully and not appear as though you’re pushing people to attend something that violates their beliefs.

          2. Librarian1*

            It may be secular, but it’s still Christian. I know that doesn’t make sense, but it’s all related to the Christmas holiday, which is Christian, so even if doesn’t go to church, it’s still Christian.

            1. Anon Lawyer*

              This is a long-standing debate. We kind of all need to accept at this point that it’s not secular for some people but is for others. Don’t pressure into doing something they don’t want; likewise don’t insist your non-Christian friends are doing Christian things if it’s secular for them. I know people of half a dozen faiths who celebrate Christmas and it doesn’t make them less Muslim or Hindu or anything else.

              1. OtherSide*

                Removed. We can’t have this debate here year after year! Please believe people of other faiths when they tell you it’s not secular. You’re only able to see it as secular because Christmas has the privilege of dominance in our culture. – Alison

            2. OtherSide*

              I mean if you want to go historically, Christians just “stole” it from pagans so it was a pagan holiday for millena and then only singularly Christian for about 1,000 years.

    2. sweater weather*

      If you want to be inclusive, make the breakfast specifically non-holiday. And make it clear how much each person is contributing, so those short on funds can make an informed decision. It doesn’t have to be a big deal:

      “Hey, we’re each contributing $10 and ordering in breakfast before the SS, just to hang out, if you want to join.”

      Food first, SS after.

  6. Naomi*

    LW2: You especially shouldn’t read too much into it right now! It’s not surprising for a hiring process to be delayed in December, when the company may be preparing to close for Christmas, or at least slowing down while many people are on vacation. A few years ago I was laid off in November and found that right before the holidays is a terrible time for job hunting. Be patient and let them get back to you in January.

    1. WonkyTonk*

      Agreed! The holidays are a super slow time with so many people taking vacation, even this year. Also, we’re currently hiring at my company and it’s taking forever because not enough candidates made it to the final round, so there was a delay to interview candidates who applied later. I feel bad for the finalists who are waiting to hear back, but the truth is they are still in contention, there just isn’t an answer yet.

  7. Early anon*

    For number 2, any chance the advice you’re seeing means you should *mentally* move on and keep job hunting? And you’re thinking that includes telling them so?

    It’s normal advice never to assume you have the job and to keep hunting (until that happy day of a job offer!) but it would be unusual to contact them and say that.

    1. I take tea*

      Yes, mentally moving on is good advice. If you are actively looking for a job, go on looking, and let a potential offer from this olobe a nice surprise. If you actually end up accepting another offer, you should let them know, but not before, as long as you are still interested.

    2. EPLawyer*

      It’s probably this. However, I took it as one of them gumption thangs. You TELL the company they kept you waiting too long and you are moving on. By gosh and by golly, the company will be so devastated at possibly losing such a go getter like you, that they will immediately hire you.

      It is well within the realm of possibility I overthought this.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Ha, I almost asked you if it was Liz Ryan but thought that would be too snarky … but I see that it was in fact Liz Ryan.

          Which is not surprising.

          I wouldn’t listen to any of her advice, unfortunately. She writes from another universe that doesn’t reflect how things actually work.

        2. Jennifer*

          I also want to add that it’s not that strange for an interviewer to say “This would be your office” or “This would be your manager” or whatever during the hiring process. It’s not the same as a job offer. It seems like the Forbes letter writer jumped the gun a bit.

          1. MCMonkeybean*

            I do mostly agree with you. I think there is a different implication between “would be” and “will be,” which is what it says he said, but I also think enough people are bad at those differences that I would try really hard not to read too much into it.

            I would however be very annoyed it someone “told me they were checking references and preparing a job offer” and then came back and said actually they are interviewing more people. I wouldn’t withdraw over it but I would be pretty upset.

            It doesn’t sound like that’s what happened to the OP though, so definitely they should look at everything that has happened so far in their own process as pretty normal and not a bad sign or a reason to withdraw.

            1. Jennifer*

              Yeah would/will makes a big difference, but at the same time until you have an offer, you shouldn’t assume anything.

  8. Language Lover*

    LW #3,

    Please invite them to your breakfast. People don’t participate in Secret Santas for a lot of reasons. They don’t have the extra funds to buy a gift. They find coming up with an idea for a gift to be stressful.

    Or they could be like me and just don’t want the extra candy or junk that comes with doing Secret Santa. Maybe that makes me a Scrooge. Oh well. Bah humbug.

    But they still might want to get together to celebrate and have money for breakfast in a food budget.

    1. Felis alwayshungryis*

      Yeah, I hate Secret Santas because you usually just end up with another piece of useless junk. Sometimes you get a thoughtful thing, but not usually. (One workplace I had did tree decorations as Secret Santa, which was a cool idea. If you don’t like it you can regift easily and you only see it for a couple of weeks a year anyway.)

      But I’m happy to socialise over breakfast. Invite them. If they don’t wanna be part of it at all, they can just decline.

      1. Pennyworth*

        I dislike Secret Santa because I once saw a very malicious gift used to bully someone. I also hate shopping! But I would be happy to enjoy some Christmas/Holiday cheer with the SS enthusiasts while they exchange gifts, and to contribute to food costs.

    2. Kapers*

      Also, not everyone celebrates Christmas but almost everyone likes a nice breakfast. It’s not rude to opt out of a gift exchange. It’s rude to exclude people.

      1. WonkyTonk*

        This. If someone didn’t participate because of their religion, it’s compounding the exclusion to not invite them to the breakfast.

    3. Rain dear*

      I actually get the don’t invite side. I’ve been at gift focused events where some people opt not to participate. It can be awkward. Some will make a point of explaining their non involvement in a way that can take away the fun from those participating (comments about cost/waste/consumerism etc). Some participants will insist on gifts for those who’ve gone without, even guilting others to give up/split their own gift.

      Obviously, none of that is given. But there can be good reasons to not include a non-participant in an event. Mostly it comes down to knowing the people.

      OP if you want to invite them do so and make sure to be upfront about cost so they aren’t blindsided. If you don’t then don’t – they already opted out so you aren’t excluding them.

      If you are inviting them make it clear it’sa gift exchange breakfast and not just a breakfast so they can decide if they want to be there.

      1. Roscoe*

        I’m with you here. Me and some friends did a virtual secret santa over the weekend. A lot more people were offered to join, but they didn’t. I guess to me it would be weird to invite people to the event when they opted out of the purpose of the event. Like, sure, they could’ve had drinks and chatted. But it was all planned around the gift exchange. I don’t begrudge them not participating, but it wouldn’t have made sense to invite them either IMO

      2. BadWolf*

        Good point about the people who decide to announce why they are participating but show up anyway! I have been there. At best its awkward, at worst, it sucks out the fun. Not that you should assume that will happen — but maybe OP has been burned before.

      3. Rusty Shackelford*

        If people are making a big deal about why they didn’t participate in the gift exchange, then I can see why you wouldn’t want them at the breakfast. But most of us don’t do that. Most of us watch the gift-opening, ooh and aah at the good gifts and silently snicker to ourselves at the bad ones, enjoy the breakfast and the company, and then get on with our day.

    4. Workerbee*

      We did that at my old job. No one felt pressured to participate in the White Elephant, but everyone was welcome to eat the food, whether that year was potluck or we were actually going to a lunch-and-activity kind of place funded by the department’s discretionary budget or whatever they termed it. You could of course opt out of the whole thing and nobody thought of you any differently. Not everyone in that company acted like adults, but I was glad my department tried to!

    5. Bagpuss*

      Yes, invite them, let them know how much the breakfast is, and then they can decide whether or not to participate.

      This is what we have done in previous years – Secret Santa is organized by staff, my business partner and I normally join in but we don’t organize it, but the last couple of years we did pay for pizza and soft drinks for everyone, it was done over lunch and everyone was invited for the food even f they weren’t joining in with the gift exchange.

      There are people who who don’t do the secret Santa but who are happy to socialize over pizza, and one or two who join in the secret Santa but just come for the gift exchange and don’t stay for the pizza, and there is no pressure on any one for any of it.

    6. Over Analyst*

      Exactly. I had two years in a row while in high school where I participated in multiple Secret Santas and ended up either forgotten or a lousy “joke” gift, and for some reason the teachers did nothing. After putting time and energy into four or so gifts and getting junk in return, I very rarely participate in Secret Santas any more. However, I love this time of year, would love to join a breakfast, would be happy to pay my share, and would actually be pretty hurt if I was excluded due to not wanting to take part in a Secret Santa.

    7. LabRat*

      I didn’t sign up for Secret Santa once because I had been working there only a few weeks and didn’t really know anyone. Someone “helpfully” signed me up anyway and I had to buy for a taciturn guy who I had met twice. IT SUCKED. (Also, nobody knew me, so my person got me a Starbucks gift card. I don’t drink coffee.)

      All of which is to say, people have their reasons for not participating, don’t assume it’s about unfriendliness or lack of team spirit.

    8. BluntBunny*

      Or have participated in the past and received a crappy gift. There a lot of extra stress this year I wouldn’t want to participate in a secret Santa. My team usually does a secret Santa but gives advent calendars so all you have to do is choose a type of chocolate and if you leave it in the office we can always swap chocolates if you open a door and you don’t like it.

  9. Half-Caf Latte*

    Letter 3:

    I get that it would be kinder to include than exclude but I feel really iffy about it in this case. There’s still a pandemic.

    If I were invited to do this and knew/assumed about the breakfast up front, I’d be declining BECAUSE OF THE BREAKFAST not because of the gift exchange.

    25 people, presumably in a conference room, with a shared meal and lots of talking and thanking and germ spewing?
    Nopety nope nope.

    1. Rain dear*

      Not sure where the LW is but some of us live in a largely Covid-free bubble. I could very safely join my colleagues for a breakfast and gift exchange (in accordance with the rules).

      For others in Covid-risk areas a breakfast may be very very low-risk and able to be done in a very safe way by staff who have to attend a workplace in person anyway.

      Everyone should take COVID seriously and follow rules, and go beyond the rules where govt isn’tf doing their job to have sufficient safety rules. I just can think of quite a few ways to do a group breakfast without being unsafe even where there is covid in the community. The gift exchange I would find more challenging.

      1. allathian*

        I’d love to hear your ideas, because I can’t. Not unless there’s a buffet and people wear gloves while touching utensils that other people also touch, and queue up one at a time so there’s no crowding at the buffet, and sit at individual desks at least 6 ft away from each other, and wear a mask when they aren’t actually eating. Sounds like too much hassle to be worth it, YMMV.

        1. BubbleTea*

          I would guess the first step is to be in a country that has no community transition of Covid, like Norway or New Zealand. Not something those of us with out of control transmission can emulate, sadly.

          1. allathian*

            Yeah, I’m in Finland and our situation is actually pretty good at the moment, even if the numbers are a bit worse than they were in the summer. We’re also not in lockdown, but there’s a strong recommendation to celebrate the holidays only with people who live in the same household. Our total number of confirmed cases is smaller than in Norway (30K vs. 40K), and our populations are about the same size (approx. 5.6 and 5.4 million respectively). I would not be comfortable with any in-person meetings that aren’t absolutely essential, and holiday parties definitely don’t qualify.

          2. Asenath*

            We don’t have community transmission (right now…) in my area, but I also wouldn’t be going to such an event, and haven’t heard of one being set up. Most Christmases at my last workplace we all used to attend a big Breakfast with Santa fundraiser which I really enjoyed…. Now, sure, some people are socializing more than is recommended, and there have been arguments within families about whether or not traditional get-togethers should go ahead in numbers not permitted by government rules (personally, I’ve decided “no”) but a LOT of people are still restricting themselves, and a communal breakfast like this would not be considered as an option.

            In a non-COVID year, I’d say the secret Santa group could certainly bring some cookies or other snacks to their gift exchange without worrying about excluding those who had opted out, but if they’re organizing an entire meal together, they should invite everyone.

          3. De*

            Did you mean to write Norway? Because Norway currently has an average of about 400 new infections a day with about 5 million people, which is far away from “no community transition”. Norway’s official guidance is to stay away from social gatherings as much as possible and if you have any, it should not exceed 5 people.

        2. Hi there*

          This is pretty similar to how the staff lunch at church is going to work today. (I am part time volunteer staff there in addition to my regular gig at my esteemed employer.) Each person will have their own big table with an individually packaged box lunch and drinks, and the tables are spread apart. I am skipping the lunch portion anyway and just showing up for the part where we open gifts from each other and the church. I had a snack at an outdoor party in October and was worried for weeks.

        3. doreen*

          I can – a lot of the catering I’ve seen recently is not the buffet-table sort. It’s the Panera boxed breakfast/lunch type. No common utensils , really no buffet line. Someone just distributes the boxes, after which people were able to sit six feet apart in the conference room

          1. Thankful for AAM*

            IDK why people think 6 feet apart inside a building is in any way protective. COVID does not stop at 6 feet. Even the CDC says that 6 feet indoors is not enough if you are spending more than a few minutes indoors.

            1. doreen*

              That might be true- but I haven’t seen anything from the CDC mentioning a further distance than 6 feet apart. I’m not going anywhere I don’t have to go ( no restaurants, no large holiday gatherings, no recreational shopping) – but most people at my job are either going to be six feet apart in the conference room having lunch or six feet apart in their cubicles having lunch at least one or two days a week. I don’t see the conference room as less safe than the cubicles.

              1. KayDeeAye*

                Actually, what the CDC says is “at least 6 feet.” That is all well and good, but it’s hardly a ringing endorsement. I have a close relative who is involved in COVID research, and he says his personal minimum is 8 feet. Just so you know!

              2. fhqwhgads*

                Right, because after about 30 minutes together indoors in the same room with masks off, the distance no longer matters. It was never like 6 feet = safe. It’s if you must be near people, keep at least this distance from them while you have to in order to reduce probability of transmission. So the conference room lunch is probably only marginally less safe than the cubicle lunch, but neither of those scenarios is especially safe to begin with.

                1. doreen*

                  I’m guessing how safe they are depends in part on how many people are present – but there’s a certain practicality aspect as well. Whether it’s a celebratory lunch or or an everyday lunch , people at my office are going to be eating either in their cubicles ( where they sit about six feet away from each other) or in the conference room. The break room is much smaller than the conference room and is not usable by more than one person . So I’m not really sure where people should eat lunch if six feet apart in the conference room isn’t good enough and neither is six feet apart in the cubicles.

                2. KayDeeAye*

                  Well, according to my COVID-savvy relative (as well as other experts), the problem isn’t just distance apart – it’s distance apart+duration of exposure. So for example, passing beside someone in a grocery store or on a sidewalk, even if you’re only 2 feet apart, need not be terribly risky (unless they sneeze on you or something), particularly if your masked, because you aren’t around that person or any person for very long.

                  In contrast, eating in a restaurant, even if all the customers are at least 6 feet apart, is riskier because whatever you’re exposed to, you’re going to be exposed to it for a while. Plus, you can’t eat with a mask on.

                  This is why indoor gatherings just aren’t a good idea. Everybody is going to be exposing everybody else, and the duration of that exposure greatly increases the risk.

    2. miro*

      If the LW has good reason to think that the people declined because of the breakfast, that’s different–though in that case I assume they wouldn’t have written in about it. Inviting people doesn’t obligate them to attend, so I guess I’m confused by the argument that there is some sort of harm in doing so.

      As for the pandemic aspect, the LW may be either somewhere like NZ where things are more open, and/or are doing some sort of outdoor + distanced arrangement. In any case, opening the breakfast to the non-gifters doesn’t mean they can’t nopety nope nope out of it, it just means they’re welcome to come to an event at their own dang workplace.

    3. Observer*

      None of which is relevant to the question being asked.

      Either the whole event is just a really bad idea or it’s not. If it’s a bad idea, then NO ONE should be involved. Not in the breakfast not in the gift exchange. On the other hand, if this party is happening in a place or manner that is safe, then excluding people is just not nice.

  10. Nick*

    LW1 – I assume you’re in the US, in which case nothing I’m about to write applies to you.

    However, for UK readers, I discovered something quite fascinating recently. Any gifts given to employees can be subject to income tax unless they meet specific criteria – and one form of non-taxable gift is an “Annual Party” (doesn’t have to be Christmas). However, there are limits to this, and one of the limits is that the cost cannot exceed £150 per head – and that £150 is total for the year, so if there’s a Christmas Party and a Summer Party, they’d only have £100 + £50 each, or whatever split was needed.

    Further, the employer has to keep records of who was invited and who attends these functions, presumably to assure that if £15,000 is spent, that really is only £150 each for the entire company of 100 people (non-taxable), not a super extravagant party for 5 directors (taxable).

    Finally – and bizarrely – if the cost of the party exceeds £150/person, the entire cost is considered a benefit-in-kind, and subject to income tax. This means that if a party is organised for a small company of 10 people, and someone drops out at the last minute, there’s a high risk that everyone who attends would end up due to pay income tax on the cost of the party!

    None of this is likely to apply to LW1 – they are probably not in the UK, it’s unlikely that a Zoom party would have had a high enough cost for tax to be an issue, and in the end, sick is sick, and it’s ridiculous of HR to say anything to the contrary.
    However, now that I’ve learned all this, I’m much more likely to drop in on any company activities – especially online ones where attendance is automatically recorded… even if I turn off my camera and microphone, and drop off again after 10 minutes!

    1. Forrest*

      This is fascinating, but since I work in the public sector I don’t think there’s any danger of my employer hitting £150 a head any time soon!

    2. TechWorker*

      Gov.uk specifically says employers do not need to keep per event attendance records:

      ‘Where there is more than one annual function potentially within the exemption, we do not expect employers to keep a cumulative record, employee by employee, of functions attended. But for each function the cost per head should be calculated. The cost per head of subsequent functions should be added. If the total cost per head goes over £150 then whichever functions best utilise the £150 are exempt, the others taxable’

      I’m not a tax lawyer but this kinda implies to me that the per head cost is calculated based on how the event is planned… I also suspect the chances of HMRC caring that one employee was sick and thus wanting to charge tax on everything is approximately zero, but could be wrong :p

      1. TechWorker*

        Okay reading a bit more:

        You’re probably right that it’s based on number of attendees vs sign ups but who knows whether HMRC would nitpick the difference

        Some social events also fall under ‘trivial benefits’ which are not taxable. (But there’s a bunch of conditions there too)

    3. I'm just here for the cats*

      So if I understand this correctly, In the UK if my employer plans a party for the company and goes over the 150/per person benchmark, *I* have to pay taxes? Why shouldn’t the employer be the one who pays taxes being they are the ones who are planning and everything. It seems like it would be punishing the employees.

      1. Green great dragon*

        Taxes have to be paid. Doesn’t necessarily mean by the employee out of take home pay. We give gift cards for small thank yous for good work and there is tax due on that, but the employer just pays the tax due in addition to buying the voucher so take-home pay isn’t affected.

      2. Yorick*

        Because you’d be getting a benefit that they consider comparable to income. The same way that if your employer accidentally paid you $5k more than you had agreed on, you’d be paying taxes on that.

      3. TechWorker*

        The employer can choose to pay the tax. Some business events are also counted as business expenses, in which case I’m not sure if they actually end up paying more overall or less (Eg, if you don’t pay VAT but then do pay tax on it as a benefit in kind).

        I’ve worked at a few different places that I’m pretty sure exceeded the £150/year limit and never had to pay tax on it. Also haven’t discussed with *everyone* I know but I’ve never heard of others paying tax directly either!

      4. daza mirhsak*

        My company once had a holiday party (with open bar) at Madame Tussaud’s in London, which was brilliant. I am certain it was more than £150 per head, and I never got taxed on it!

  11. revanche @ a gai shan life*

    LW2: I also would point out that even if you did wow them sufficiently, they might be required to complete the rest of their interviews anyway.

    I’ve had to complete interviews for at least some set number of candidates before I could move on to the offer phase to ensure I had two possible top candidates in case my first choice declined the offer. That’s happened more than once for various totally valid reasons: they didn’t think we were quite the right fit or the offer wasn’t good enough or circumstances changed on their end, etc. It’s fine, but we don’t want to be in a position where we have to start all over from scratch either so that can cause some additional delay.

    1. Mockingjay*

      Good companies are thoughtful about hiring choices. OP2, who would you rather work for, Company A which took the time to assess multiple candidates to ensure a fit on both sides, or Company B which rushed to fill a slot? Doesn’t mean Company B is a bad place to work; but quick hiring decisions can create mismatches in expectations. I assume you are currently employed and can take your time looking. Same for companies; when possible they take the time to hire the best fit.

      Concur with Alison and others here: stay in the process while looking at other possibilities, unless you are no longer interested in the company.

      1. OP #2*

        This is a really great point – and you’re right, I would much rather work for a thoughtful company than one who is scrambling to fill a role. Thank you!

    2. Anonymous for this, colleagues read here*

      I have to get my list of Tier 1 candidates (can invite for interview), Tier 2 candidates (move into Tier 1 as needed), and no-way-no-how applicants to HR **first** before I can interview. Once I invite a candidate, I have to interview them (and it has to be a real interview, all candidates must be treating equitably). And a good thing, too — the last search I ran, we got approval for TWO additional positions, so we were able to hire three people from my search. (And when I tell you that I work in an academic adjacent department at a large state university, you will be truly amazed that we got those positions. During a hiring freeze. And a pandemic.)

  12. Julia*

    For question 1: If HR doesn’t want people absent from the holiday party, they should tell the bosses and everyone else not to take/approve vacation on that day. If they don’t do that, then you’re on vacation, and that’s it. WTF indeed.

    1. In my shell*

      Totally agree!

      LW1’s story also reminds of working at my last job where HR was the real power in the company in really odd ways, but most particularly in serving as the be all-end all for senior leadership. I’m wondering if HR in this situation is acting on behalf of the CEO or the like – ?

  13. Dragon_Dreamer*

    The bent metal fastener used to push employees to sign up for their store credit card All. The Time. They wouldn’t listen when I told them I didn’t feel like taking the ding to my credit, and that it wouldn’t be approved. (Whee, student loan debt.) One day, my manager tried anyway, then came back to tell me that she was shocked I’d been declined. THAT lead to a call to HR, who ignored the issue completely, and just told me to improve my credit. 9.9 I couldn’t afford a lawyer, or that would have been the next step, given that she committed fraud with my social security number.

    They finally stopped when employees in other states threatened to sue.

      1. BadWolf*

        I suspect, yes. Like the pressure bankers were under with Wells Fargo Bank to sign up new accounts and were pressuring everyone they knew to open accounts and sometimes opening accounts without permission.

        Also, to the open…ran your application without your permission?!?!??!?! Aaaaaaaaaaaah!!!!!!

        1. Reba*

          I mean, I’ve worked in retail, so I know about the card sales pressure. I guess I’m just fortunate in that no one above me was DOING CRIMES to get the store numbers up!

          1. Quill*

            God I’m glad that when I worked in retail I only did register if I had to translate, so I got to skip the entire credit card section.

            (And lead to one supervisor pointing me at a very patient Indian couple and saying “you speak spanish, go help them!” and me having to apologize for her, because WOW.)

          2. Dragon_Dreamer*

            This was the same manager who assumed MY huge sales numbers were from “hard sells” or things equally shady. Nope, just being honest, knowing my products and how to fix it, and insisting we stand behind our products and our warranties. (And contacting the warranty company ourselves with the customer present if the customer got the runaround.)

    1. BethDH*

      This is insane. For the OP, Alison’s response seems more likely but I think it’s useful to hear from people where the unlikely situation really was happening — it can be so destabilizing to have a tough situation where everyone assumes you must be missing something.

  14. Chocolate Teapot*

    3. I think there is a sense of unfairness at having to pay for other people to eat for free. However, I am aware that some of the people who didn’t participate in the Secret Santa may well be struggling to pay for groceries, and be happy to eat up leftover croissants.

    1. Chocolate Teapot*

      Hmm. On reflection, that does sound a bit mean!

      Obviously, if there are enough croissants and Pain au Chocolat* to go around to begin with, then everyone should be invited to take something. As these are items which don’t keep, it’s better they get eaten up quickly.

      Wasn’t there the story of Stan the Potluck Freeloader on here, which is the worst case scenario?

      *Our standard office breakfast

    2. Observer*

      But the question is not if you have to invite them to join without chipping in, but whether you have to invite them at all.

      You don’t HAVE to, but I think that framing it that way indicates a fair level of social dysfunction. I think it would behoove the OP to think about why this is such an issue.

  15. Green great dragon*

    #1 – obviously you shouldn’t have to attend if you’re sick (!!) but the vacation seems a bit different because you selected that day knowing it would clash with the party and it doesn’t sound as if you had any particular reason for picking that day? So possibly HR was saying you should have chosen a different day to take off, not joined the party on your vacation day?

    Though I personally feel if you want to take vacation to avoid a party that should be entirely your own choice.

    1. KHB*

      If the LW’s goal was to use up her remaining vacation time while still getting all her work done, it makes perfect sense to take the day off on the day that everyone else was going to be at the party.

      Sometimes HR folks get so invested in the parties and activities they plan that they forget that when the rest of us have work to do and are pressed for time, parties are at best a distant second on our lists of priorities.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        Often, in my observation, the Big Boss enjoys cosplaying as Benevolent Overlord holding court. This only works if the courtiers show up. Hence the token appearance: make sure you make small talk with your immediate boss, and with his boss. How far you have to go up the line depends on the organization, but that is the minimum. Follow this by quick circuit of the room, so that if anyone asks “Was Richard there?” someone else will say “Yes, I talked with him.” Then sneak out the side door and go home. It all makes perfect sense as ego-stroking for the Big Boss.

    2. Observer*


      Look, if there were really a significant job related reason why it was actually important for the OP to be at the party, then their manager should not have approved it. But otherwise, people are entitled to choose which day off works best for them.

      And especially when you have “use it or lose it” vacation policies, you really have even less place as HR to pressure someone not to use one of their PTO days when it suits the employee.

    3. Jackalope*

      The letter said that the OP requested that day off 2 weeks before the party date was announced because she needed to use up leave. It wasn’t related to the party at all.

      1. In my shell*

        Agree, Jackalope. I wonder if the manager who approved the time off didn’t catch that it was the party date (and maybe would have mentioned the party date and/or outright denied the request if it really is mandatory) and how OP is paying the price for the manager’s oversight?

      2. fhqwhgads*

        That’s not what the letter says. It says the invite went out a month before, and the vacation was requested two weeks before. But it was approved. And the party wasn’t stated as mandatory up front. So it’s still pointless and bizarre for HR to act like the party is mandatory. I did get the impression the party date wasn’t chosen because of the party, just because it was most convenient day for the LW to be off, and they didn’t factor the party into it – because why should they. So it wasn’t a specific party-avoidance technique, but it also wasn’t chosen before the party was known.

    4. anon73*

      If it was an issue to take off the day of the party, her boss shouldn’t have approved it. And if it was an actual problem, not just an HR department being ridiculous, then they should have chastised the BOSS not the OP. The whole thing is BS. I despise forced socialization, especially at work and have often avoided big work parties because of it and have NEVER been chastised.

  16. ChristmasCopywriter*

    LW2: It once took me 9 months from submitting an application to starting a new job, and for some jobs that can be completely normal! Granted, I’m in the UK, so we have to give more notice (I have to give 3 months in my current job), but the rounds of interviews and negotiation phase just took a long time.

    All that is to say don’t give up on a job you really want, but don’t plan your life around getting it, because it could still fall through. Keep applying for other jobs, but don’t close the door to this one unless you land something else you really want!

    Good luck in your job search.

    1. LifeBeforeCorona*

      I applied for a job and the next week found out that I was pregnant and forgot completely about it. I was nursing my daughter months later and got a phone call offering me the job. It was a government job, they move slowly but I suspect the paperwork just sat on someone’s desk for most of the time.

  17. Mx*

    4 My new boss always wrote my name the English way (think Debra instead of Deborah). It took me a couple of weeks to tell her. One day we were messaging on Teams, I told her “by the way, it’s Deborah, not Debra.” She apologised and now always write my name correctly.
    Mention it casually in a conversation, “by the way….”. The longer you wait, the weirder it will be. I only regret I waited 2 weeks.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Most people want to get names right the first time, which is why most people get embarrassed when they find out they have been using the wrong name.

      Things like this can be corrected the first time you see it, OP. I tend to throw a bunch of softeners in such as, “Yeah, a lot of people do the same thing, so I just tell people upfront.” Or sometimes I go with “Next time it will be your turn to tell me that I have mangled a name or something. Please know that I aim to get people’s names right and I appreciate when someone cues me that I have misunderstood.” Whatever you use for a message softener make sure it’s true.

    2. Sara without an H*

      Having been stung that way in the past, I now try to confirm both spelling and pronunciation with new people. It only takes a minute and eliminates a lot of awkwardness.

  18. Conspiracy-Industrial Complex*

    Re: #1…

    If the company holiday party is mandatory, then it counts as work and any non-exempt employees would have to be paid for their participation (possibly on overtime).

    Just something for the folks in HR to think about.

    1. anon73*

      Exactly. I’ve worked at places where the party was after hours and never mandatory. I’ve also worked at places where the party was during the workday, also not mandatory, but if you chose to miss the party you stayed at your desk and worked. And as I’ve stated above, if this was truly an issue, then HR should have spoken to OP’s boss about approving her vacation, not spoken directly to OP. If I were OP, they wouldn’t have liked my response.

  19. Sled dog mama*

    #4-I see you’ve clarified that the person is calling you a totally different name so what I was going to say doesn’t really apply but I’m going to put it out there for the sake of anyone else experiencing this issue.
    My husband has some sort of mental disconnect that means he gets the way to pronounce a word or name fixed in his mind and no matter how many times I correct him he just can’t get it changed in his brain. So if it was just a mispronunciation (and not the wrong name as you’ve said) you can and should correct the pronunciation but also (as it sounds like you have) be prepared to accept that there are people who no matter how hard they try or how much they want to get your name right will not be able to.
    A great example with my husband is the chef Michael Symon, he always says that the name is Michael Simone.

  20. A Teacher*

    A thing I do not value: objects, especially obligatory gifts from someone who may not know me well. For me it’s usually a thing I don’t want that I’m now obliged to find a place for or to get rid of. So I never sign up for Secret Santas. I also hate getting obligatory gifts for people, especially people I don’t know well. It’s not the money; it’s the waste.

    A thing I do value: spending time with others, including, most of my working life, my co-workers. I’d be kind of hurt and confused to be one of three not to be invited to the breakfast and of course I’d chip in for it!

    And my work usually (not this year, obvs) does a Secret Santa where gifts are exchanged at the company Christmas lunch. I’m one of the few who never participates in the gifts but I really do love seeing what my friends/colleagues get. I enjoy it, honestly, even though I’m not getting anything.

    So, in conclusion, invite them!

    1. The Other Dawn*

      “I’d be kind of hurt and confused to be one of three not to be invited to the breakfast and of course I’d chip in for it!”

      That’s where I’m at. If it was 10 people participating out of 25 then I’d say have your SS and breakfast and don’t worry about inviting everyone. But when it’s 21 out of 25 participating, just be inclusive and invite the other four. Ask them to chip in or bring something for breakfast if you want to, but I don’t think that’s necessary for only four additional people. There’s always tons of leftovers at these things so you likely wouldn’t even need any extra food they might bring.

      1. Sara without an H*

        +1. Do not make choices at Christmas that will start the new year off with personnel problems.

  21. Salad Daisy*

    #4 I co-managed a company with someone for 8 years. They were in charge of the call center and I was in charge of everything else. I have a very common, English language name, but for 8 years he called me “Ummm”.

    #1 Perhaps you could get a standee or do something like Sheldon did on Big Bang Theory with the Mobile Virtual Presentation Device? j/k, HR is crazy.

  22. Scout Finch*

    Wakeen and Joe-a-kwin live!

    OP4 – please correct the person. It could be something like “I might miss something if I don’t realize you are talking to me!”

    I grew up in a small southern town with a good engineering university that had many students (and faculty with their families) from the Middle East, China & India. I was not shy about asking how to pronounce names. Others were patient while I repeated it until I got it right – and seemed to appreciate that I WANTED to get it right.

    Alison’s advice is spot on. Once you get past the initial conversation, the other person will be grateful to you.

    1. Esmeralda*

      Yes, I’ve had colleagues and regularly have students from all over the world. I always say, “Please excuse my clumsy tongue and help me pronounce your name correctly”

      1. ObserverCN*

        I work at academic tournaments with lots of Indian-American and Chinese-American students, so I always ask them to correct me if I get their name wrong.

  23. AdAgencyChick*

    OP1, if your company is like mine, the higher-ups are really into the party because they use it partly for socializing and partly for company-wide announcements. We’re strongly discouraged from taking the day off.

    …that being said, in your shoes I would have hit accept on the meeting invite, then simply not shown up for the meeting. My company is 200+ people, so there’s no way anyone was counting squares. Or you could log in, turn your camera off, and plead connectivity issues.

    (And I think HR is being very silly, especially since you had your boss’s OK!)

    1. EPLawyer*

      You shouldn’t have to plan your vacation day around an event you don’t want to attend just to tune in for a few minutes.

      If the boss’ wanted to make the event for cmpany wide announcements, they should have been clearer. Anyway, someone ALWAYS misses these things. Like OP got sick. If it wasn’t 2020 would she still have been expected to drag her sick self out of bed and attend IN PERSON just because of company announcements might be made?

      HR is being weird for some reason. OP did nothing wrong by not signing in when it was 1) her scheduled vacaation day and 2) she was sick.

  24. TimeTravlR*

    My actual first name has an unusual spelling and pronunciation. I soften the correction by saying, “It’s okay, I get lots of variations, but I only correct people if they matter.”

    1. Carlie*

      Oh, I love this. I get called the wrong name all the time, and half the people who say it right spell it wrong, and the ones who get my first name right mess up my last name. I answer to basically anything that vaguely sounds right. I really like that way of correcting.

  25. LGC*

    Hot take: I don’t know if HR had a problem with LW1 not attending (yes, I know, ~*~believe the LW~*~) so much as they had a problem with her RSVPing no the day before the party! Reading this section over again:

    I declined the party invite, but received an email from HR saying that the invite was sent a month ago (I requested and got the vacation day approval about two weeks before the party) and that I should’ve planned around this. I told him that I was sick and would attend if it was super critical, and he simply said he’d leave that up to me which seemed like unless I was bedridden and could barely move I needed to attend.

    I think that if I were the HR guy and I were getting the decline from the LW, my issue wouldn’t have been that you’d declined but that you’d waited so long to do so. (Especially since you’d scheduled PTO for that day two weeks prior!) I probably wouldn’t have been as passive aggressive about it, but it would have mildly irked me.

    I guess the best analogy I can think of is…like, if your friends plan a Jackbox game night, you plan to visit your parents that same night, and then you don’t tell your friends until just before the game night. (Hypothetically speaking. And not that I’ve ever done this I totally have.) I’m You’re definitely within your rights, and family is important. But declining with such short notice is a jerk thing to do to my your friends, and I you should acknowledge that.

    All that said: the HR guy responded badly here. It’s a Zoom party (UGH). Even if there was any inconvenience, it was probably minimal. Being passive aggressive and all, “Well, we’d really like to see you if you’re up for it, Bethany,” is uncalled for, and also it makes it seem like you really did need to show up (which the answer already gets into).

    teal deer: You were fine in not going, LW, but just work on the messaging next time! I did go more critical because the initial response was so affirming – and I actually agree with everything Alison wrote in practice. It’s just that I think it came off like you didn’t care.

    1. Reba*

      I read the sequence of events differently! OP RSVP’d yes — or at least left it hanging — because they *were* planning to attend, even on their day off. Then, when they got sick, they changed to no.

      So if they didn’t change the invite to decline, they would have essentially no-showed! In general, giving people a heads up when your plans change is good and polite. And in this situation (virtual party) it’s going above and beyond — it’s not like they paid for your meal or were waiting for you to start eating or something.

      I think we can all agree that the HR person is out of line and weirdly attached to this event. I just like can’t imagine getting this message from HR? Who cares????

      1. Washi*

        I thought the same! Also I read the “invite” as something like an Outlook/Gmail calendar invitation. At the places I’ve worked, it’s not really a big deal what you reply to those invites, they’re just sent so you have it on your calendar.

        I assumed OP just left the calendar invite hanging because she wasn’t sure what her plans were, and then when she knew for sure she wouldn’t be attending, then declined. And if HR needed people to respond sooner, they should have followed up with her to ask, rather than chastising her for not attending.

      2. LGC*

        I mean, I can’t argue that the HR guy wasn’t a jerk (even if I wanted to)! Like I said, if I were the HR guy, I probably would have held my tongue (and I would have been out of line if I did not hold my tongue).

        But I read it as that she did not respond at all until she declined, which…I can kind of understand why HR would feel annoyed by that. Although that’s not necessarily clear from the letter, but it kind of makes sense – she says she got sick the night before and then declined the invite. And it seemed like HR’s initial reply objected to when she declined, not that she declined to begin with.

        Now, if she originally accepted in a reasonable timeframe (I’d say within two weeks), that’s moot. But I think that detail affects the answer (and the question) significantly.

    2. miro*

      I think the size of the company makes a huge difference here. If it’s a 20-person org, I could see them being more miffed by the late communication. If it’s a 200-person company where HR is much more distant, the HR guy’s response seems really odd (and I can see from a worker’s perspective, you might figure it’s less important to keep them in the loop if you don’t have a personal relationship with the dept/person).

      As for the timing thing. Either A) the LW hadn’t responded at all until they declined, in which case the fact that they waited so long to decline might if anything be more convenient than waiting long to accept (since presumably HR would have planned without them in mind at that point)
      Or B) LW had accepted previously, then declined when they got sick, in which case what are they supposed to do? Get sick farther in advance?

      This seems fundamentally different to me than the (totally hypothetical) Jackbox party example you gave. It would be more like (in option A) you never responding to the group chat making plans and then saying “sorry y’all, I’m sick” the day before, at which point I suspect the response from friends would be less “urgh LGC waited so late to tell us” and more “sucks that LGC is sick, but it doesn’t change our plans”

    3. J.B.*

      Do people actually respond to your invitations in time? I would think getting an actual reply would be a firm answer, and more than 2 days in advance should be plenty for Zoom. Now if you’re renting this is something else.

      People get really weird on enforced participation. Bah. Humbug.

      1. In my shell*

        right? lately I’ve gotten into the habit of clicking tentative on anything that isn’t truly necessary so that certain (weirdly sensitive) people don’t feel that I “missed” or “skipped” it.

    4. Esmeralda*

      First of all: Work is not the same as your family and friends. It’s a zoom party for a lot of people. No one is going to be crushed or hurt if LW does not attend. Nobody spent a lot of money on food etc that will be wasted (which, let’s be real, all that food gets eaten or taken away).

      Second of all: Invite was sent four weeks before the event. Vacation was approved two weeks before the event. LW got sick the day before the event. What is the LW supposed to do, pre-emptively decline a month in advance because they’re going to get sick the day before?

      And really, how much does LW have to be super nice about messaging? LW was **sick**. When I’m sick and can’t make a work event/meeting/whatever, I call and email: I’m sorry to say that I’m sick and won’t be able to make it. Period, end of discussion. As long as I’m not snarky, noting more is required from a sick person.

      1. JustKnope*

        Completely agree with Esmerelda here. LGC is reading way too much into the situation. It’s a work Zoom party, the feelings need to be notched way down. Even if the HR guy was planning something organized like breakout rooms, one person dropping out the day of is a mild inconvenience that comes with all event planning, even more so with virtual events. This really just should have been a non-issue.

      2. LGC*

        I explained what I meant in a reply! It read to me that the problem might not have been that she said no or even that she canceled, but that she didn’t reply at all until late.

        I’m not expecting anyone to know they’ll be sick two weeks in advance.

    5. MCMonkeybean*

      I really can’t imagine why it would matter thought for a remote party where there is nothing like food to organize where headcount would matter. And it sounds like OP was planning on attending in spite of the fact that they were on PTO until they got sick. You can’t give someone two weeks notice that you are going to get sick.

    6. anon73*

      If it were an in person party, and they needed a head count, then a last minute decline is a bigger deal. But it’s still not something to be chastised for – this time of year is crazy busy for a lot of people and a last minute decline is understandable. HR needs to get over themselves, and if they feel they need to chastise anyone it’s OP’s boss for allowing the time off on the same day as the party. Her being sick is irrelevant – it was her day off and that means nothing work related. And the fact that it was a virtual Zoom “party” makes this even more ridiculous and HR is seriously out of touch with reality.

    7. OP #1*

      Thanks for the advice!

      HR did mention that all other employees were attending (company of around 55). My manager echoed this when I spoke with her yesterday and said that upper management probably would have been unhappy even if she didn’t necessarily care which is why I thought it was more about not attending over anything else..

      But your right that they could have been annoyed with me replying the day before as well. It may have gone over better if I accepted then declined when I became sick or even if I declined right away although HR may have still made a fuss over it.

  26. Spicy Tuna*

    LW 1 – I’ve only gone to company holiday parties when they were during the day and thus, “mandatory”, or part of an annual address to the company by the company president. I think in 20+ years of work, that amounted to 3 holiday parties. It never impacted my ability to network within the company. It probably also helped that I always seem to have a boss that is not party or social-focused

    LW4 – you made me think of Jared in Silicon Valley. His name is really Donald, but someone once called him Jared, so he just went with it!

    I live and work in a city in the US where most people are not native English speakers. I have a totally Anglo name and people just don’t get it right. Ever. It’s along the lines of my name being Gina and people calling me Gia. This happens even if someone is standing outside my office door and sees my name on the little name plate. The guy across the hall from me is Geoff and everyone just calls him George.

    I think if it were one person doing it, it’s kinder to correct them. When everyone does it, just roll with it!

    1. Sled dog mama*

      I get that too! Along the lines of of my name is say Mary and I get called Maria, Marie and many other variations which are not my name.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        One approach is to take these as being the same name in different languages, which after all, is exactly what they are. Names get translated all the time. An English history book will talk about Frederick the Great, not Friedrich der Grosse. If a first-language Spanish speaker translates my name and calls me “Ricardo” I am totally OK with that. A native French speaker is unlikely to be able to pronounce Richard as I do, but would spell it the same way. Is that a translation, or an accent? It doesn’t really matter.

        1. Spicy Tuna*

          Richard, I agree with you, but in my case (and for my office mate), it’s a totally different name, not a language variant.

    2. CommanderBanana*

      Haha, I am American but grew up overseas, and my last name was unpronounceable in the country I lived in because, while a simple, two-syllable name, it happened to have a vowel sound that doesn’t exist in that language.

  27. Bookworm*

    LW1: I’m sympathetic. I’m not sure there’s a lot you could have done, because some people are sticklers about the holiday party. I hate them and don’t go, although I am perfectly aware it looks bad. A Zoom holiday party? Yeah, no.

    No advice, just sympathy from someone who hates all work-related social activities and accepts there are consequences for not going. Good luck to you.

    1. Richard Hershberger*

      I would probably “attend” a Zoom holiday party, but they wouldn’t know that I am spending my time organizing my email inbox or playing Tetris.

    2. In my shell*

      I’m with you Bookworm!! This morning I received a list of initiatives my local industry peers have been doing to help employee morale and as a non-partying going introvert I was gasping in horror that these were meant to be IMPROVING morale (I understand that lots of people like these kinds of things!) – this is just a sampling of the ideas!

      *Created monthly “Constituent” meetings where employees connect and talk about their lives. This past month, the group started the “Wheel of Life” exercise, which is helping them identify what is causing them stress and helping them come to some goals to make it better.
      * All of our departments have been creating appreciation videos to post on our internal celebration page
      * A video interview series with FUN questions from our staff of our senior leadership team.
      * Video recording of senior leadership with a poem or rap session of appreciation.
      * Randomly use our IM and a Facebook page for employees to share things they’re doing on the weekends or at home and share jokes.


    3. Paris Geller*

      I’m an introvert, but I do normally love Holiday parties. However, there is nothing that sounds appealing to me about a work holiday party via zoom. I would also plan my vacation for that day.

      1. Kotow*

        Same here! I’ve declined multiple Zoom “parties” and doubt anyone missed me! Zoom social events are quite painful to sit through.

  28. AvonLady Barksdale*

    LW #5: Unless this letter includes details that are personal to you (beyond your name), it is a form letter/junk mail/what have you. A lot of companies put their employees on their mailing lists. The fact that it is the company you work for does not mean the CEO is personally reaching out to you, and if he were, he would probably just use internal email or some kind of personalized messaging system. To add to that, I think it would look really strange to approach the CEO and ask to be removed from his mailing list, one he probably doesn’t have much to do with beyond approving the text of the letter that goes out with his digital signature.

    Unless, of course, I’m missing something. But really, this is so not worth your time or energy. It’s certainly not worth getting upset or even annoyed about. There’s going to be a lot of junk mail in your life, you’ll learn to recognize it.

    1. Mockingjay*

      I bet CEO isn’t sending these himself; a staffer is probably in charge of sending mass emails company-wide. Anything “From the Desk of Grand Poohbah” is really from the Poohbah’s assistant.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        It’s not an email– it’s snail mail. So she’s getting a letter. Which means it’s probably the marketing department, not even the assistant.

    2. Generic Name*

      Yeah, LW said the letters are “from great-grandboss”, but unless they are handwritten or somehow obviously personalized to you specifically, as mentioned above, I’d assume you got stuck on the company mailing list and it’s junk mail.

    3. Empress Matilda*

      Yep. This is mass mail, and it’s definitely not coming from your grandboss even if it is her signature on the bottom! You can absolutely ignore these types of letters.

      But if you want to make them go away, your best bet is to start with your own boss. It’s not a big deal – all you need to say is “could you tell me how to get my name off the credit card mailing list?” Your boss will direct you to Marketing or whoever is in charge of these things, and then you send them another not-a-big-deal request: “Hi, please remove my name from the credit card mailing list. Thanks!”

  29. LGC*

    And the other letters:

    LW5: The one lesson I learned moving into middle management is that upper management spends drastically less time thinking about you than you do thinking about them. And it’s not that they’re soulless creatures (or not only that they’re soulless creatures) – it’s that because of the nature of the job, they literally do not have the bandwidth to think about every single employee. (That’s why they have two levels between you and him.)

    The corollary, of course, is that employees spend drastically more time and energy thinking about their bosses and their skip-levels than they do, so management needs to be open to how things come across to lower levels. I agree with Alison that your upper-management isn’t doing this at you, but it is kind of tone-deaf to be sending this sort of stuff to your lower-tier staff.

    I’m also making the very charitable assumption that it’s not obviously directly from him (that it’s like a bulk mail with his name on it). If he is personally sending you offers to sign up for your hotel’s reward card…I’d be weirded out for multiple reasons.

    LW4: Please correct her, it’s a kindness. Especially if she’s the only one that’s getting your name wrong.

    LW3: Please invite them, it’s a kindness. Also, I feel like the general rule for elementary school parties (either invite the entire class or less than half the class) applies here.

    LW2: I’m with Alison, please do not drop out, it’s an unkindness to yourself. Also, they’re suggesting that in THIS economy? Uh-uh.

  30. Mephron*

    LW1: your HR person sounds like an overbearing jerk. My last two companies had holiday parties I didn’t go to, because both of them had open bars and young people who drank a lot and I felt very uncomfortable. (seriously, last year’s holiday party was at a place with all-you-could-drink craft beer dispensers.)

    I also had managers who pointed out to me my failure to appear was noted, and I just replied with “I don’t feel comfortable in situations with heavy drinking.”

    (Lest you think I’m jumping to conclusions, at my last job they had alternate weekly all-hands meetings with beer brought in. I had to lobby HR for almost three months before they brought in soft drinks, and put up with water in the meantime.)

  31. CommanderBanana*

    Alison and commentariat – any advice for when you’ve correct coworkers multiple times and they STILL mispronounce your name? I have a name that has never been particularly popular but that I wouldn’t call it that unusual or overly creative, and it’s phonetic. I have some coworkers who continue to mispronounce it despite being corrected both in person and now, over private message. I’m pretty sure one is continuing to mispronounce it out of spite, the others I think just don’t interact with me all that often and never bothered to learn it in the first place (FWIW, those who mispronounce it continually are all white men).

    1. CommanderBanana*

      And just to be clear, I used to very much just be like, eh, close enough, and answered to whatever pronunciation people used. Then I noticed who was asking about the correct pronunciation and remembering it versus people who obviously had no qualms about never getting my name right.

      1. Reba*

        Idk, depending on how much it troubles you, I would continue as you are — no further corrections but it’s information you can file away about these coworkers.

    2. Thankful for AAM*

      I’d be so tempted to mispronounce their names. But don’t do that!
      Maybe you could ask them often, is your name bob or bub or bobby? Like you forget how to pronounce it.

      1. Anonymous, colleagues who read here will recognize it*

        Haha, we did that with a higher up who would not correctly pronounce the name of a colleague from Nigeria. (He pronounced it as it was spelled, not as it was said, even though he had been corrected by many people, including the victim. And it was not difficult to say, either.)

        So we mangled his name — we all agreed on the mispronunciation of his very English name (think something like, John Miller; we changed it to JOE-han Mile- AIRE). Over thirty of us. Took a week for him to get the point.

    3. Rusty Shackelford*

      I have a hard time with names. It is *possible* they’re not doing it out of laziness but just because they got the mispronunciation stuck in their heads, and once you learn the wrong one it’s hard to wipe that out of your brain. Is there a mnemonic you could use? For example, I had problems remembering how to pronounce Kamala Harris’s first name, no matter how motivated I was to do so, because there are different versions floating around out there. Then I read that it’s pronounced comma la. So now I just always remember it starts with a comma. Or are there any famous people who share your name? Is there anything like that you can use? Like “hey, I know I’ve asked you to say my name correctly before – just remember, it’s Mildred, not Millicent. Just like Judge Dredd.” Or “it’s Diana, like the princess.”

      And the one who’s doing it out of spite – have you tried getting his name wrong?

      “Thanks, Leia.”
      “You’re welcome, Ted.”
      “Um. Why did you call me Ted instead of Ed?”
      “Oh, sorry. Thought that was a private joke between us, since you keep calling me Leia instead of Layla.”

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          Oh, well, maybe they’re just dicks. It might be time to use one of my favorite Alisonisms – “that’s weird.”

          “You know, I’ve told you my name is Cady, rhymes with shady. It’s weird that you still keep saying it wrong.”

      1. higheredrefugee*

        I came here to say this! I’ve used the joke bit, and they fixed it real fast thereafter. That said, I have a name that about 5 years after I was born, now has 6 variations with 12 pronunciations, so if I know they have a spouse/child/team member/someone else significant with a variation, and we don’t interact frequently, I usually let it slide. But yes, mine is spelled correctly phonetically, so it drives me crazy too.

    4. Spicy Tuna*

      I posted about this the other day. I had a co-worker that refused to remember who I was. It went beyond the name. If I called her and identified myself as Spicy, she would say, “Spicy who?” and make me say, “It’s Spicy Tuna”, to which she would reply, “I’m sorry, who?”. We worked together for over a year. We went on business trips together. We carpooled to off-site meetings and trainings together. I have no idea if she had a legit mental block or was just a jerk.

    5. Dust Bunny*

      I keep correcting them. One guy I actually stopped him mid-sentence and pointed out that he kept mispronouncing my name and I was pretty done with it. He got it right after that, although I don’t know if it was because I sounded that annoyed and he realized he’d better shape up or if, since I stopped the whole conversation and forced him to focus on it instead of just correcting him on the fly, it finally stuck.

      1. Sylvan*

        They might not get this. Someone did this when I mispronounced her name. I didn’t even realize that she was trying to make a point because I don’t care about my first name’s pronunciation and I already use the English (mis)pronunciation of my last name. She could have told me.

    6. Sylvan*

      Keep correcting them. If you’re being gentle and friendly about it to help them save face, stop. Be matter-of-fact. “My name is X. Please stop calling me Y.”

    7. Mannheim Steamroller*

      Just ignore anyone who deliberately mispronounces your name. If you’ve already told them more than once and they still insist on getting it wrong, then they’re making a special effort to insult me and you shouldn’t put up with it.

      As Lt. Cmdr. Data said after Dr. Pulaski asked what the difference was between the “DAH-ta” and “DAY-ta” pronunciations, “One is my name. (Pause.) The other is not.”

  32. Office Rat*

    LW 3: I have worked at several offices and never participated in white elephants or secret Santa events. Yet, those were usually a festive thing during the holiday party. I would feel snubbed if I wasn’t allowed the option of paying for the breakfast and participating, just because I have my own gift giving baggage and don’t want to play the gift game.

    The breakfast and holiday celebration doesn’t have to be completely attached to wether or not you give gifts. I guess I have been lucky in that the last several jobs I’ve had never attached them.

  33. Observer*

    #2 – Allison is COMPLETELY correct! Please do not follow this advice.

    At best, it’s self defeating in that it unnecessarily takes you out of the running for a job that appears would be good for you. At worst, it has the potential to really harm you.

    So far , it looks like you have made a positive impression which is a good thing, even if you don’t get the job. However, if you withdraw because the process is taking too long, you will cause that impression to be significantly tarnished at best. And if you drop any hint that you have an issue with them interviewing more people, you will cement that negative impression.

    It’s normal and reasonable for them to do more interviewing. And it’s a good sign that they are telling you where they are in the process.

    Sure, move on in the sense that you continue to job hunt and take interviews if you are offered any in companies that you would be interested in working at. But do NOT withdraw from the process.

  34. Dust Bunny*

    Name: I’m a native English speaker working with native English speakers so that’s not the issue, but have a first name that, while established in English-language culture, is uncommon enough that most people won’t have encountered it and will probably flub the pronunciation and/or spelling. Think Amphitrite, which quite a few people know because a lot of people have read Greek myths, but is rarely seen as a first name. I’ve been called all kinds of things that vaguely resemble it but aren’t it (Amber is popular. A lot of women in my age range are named Amber, too, which doesn’t help).

    Just correct her. It’s your name; you deserve to have people get it right.

    1. Threeve*

      I saw someone mention in another column that most American English-speakers can pronounce Tchaikovsky. There’s no excuse for mispronouncing a name just because it’s unfamiliar.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        I can accept that a very, very, small number of people might have a learning disability that could affect this (I have one that makes me a disaster at arithmetic, after all) but so far everyone I’ve encountered just isn’t listening.

      2. Rusty Shackelford*

        True, for the most part. But no matter how different Tchaikovsky may look, it’s made up of common English phonemes, or at least the accepted English pronunciation is (I’ve never heard a native Russian say it). But there *are* sounds that just don’t show up in American English, and it’s harder for English speakers to learn to pronounce them. Or there are sounds that we consider the same sound, but in other languages they are different sounds. I had a linguistics (I think?) teacher who knew a couple from Korea with two sons. This teacher, someone well-versed in languages and very motivated to get the kids’ names right, could not tell their names apart. To their parents, their names rhymed, like Bill and Pill. But to an American, their names were identical.

        (None of that is what’s going on with this LW, I just think it’s interesting.)

        1. SimplyTheBest*

          Even within the United States there are people who have accents that make certain things…I don’t want to say that unpronouncable, but that sound different to someone but don’t to someone else.

          My dad is from the deep south where they have a pin/pen merger. Those vowel sounds are said the same. When my dad says either of those words, he knows which one he is saying and to him they sound like different words. But to me, who was not raised in the deep South, I can’t tell the difference between those words when he says them.

          1. Librarian1*

            Yeah, or like how some accents differentiate between Mary, marry, and merry, but mine doesn’t and I cannot hear the difference or imagine how they’d be pronounced differently.

        2. Observer*

          If you have a good ear, you will definitely hear the difference between how a native Russian speaker and a native English speaker pronounce the name.

      3. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        You know, Tchaikovsky is the classic example for “people totally could say foreign names if they actually tried”, but I always have trouble with it. I have to stop and say it in my mind first- otherwise it gets an L in there. An L!

        All that to say, sometimes names are just hard.

  35. sssssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

    I’m baffled at this “must go to holiday party” attitude some employers have. It should be fun, and if your personality is such that you wouldn’t have fun and don’t want to go, the employer should just say, okay, we’ll miss you and move on. I have a co-worker that goes out of her way to book PTO on any scheduled celebratory event. We don’t hold it against her!

    I’ve never been to a large-scale holiday party where everyone was there. In fact, I take it as a given, having planned a few, that not everyone will attend. Even smaller team-sized parties, not everyone will make it.

    You were sick *and* on vacation. I would not expect you to be there. Just bizarre!

    1. Conspiracy-Industrial Complex*

      “Mandatory Fun” was a nice album by Weird Al Yankovic, but it’s a horrible way to run a company.

  36. Dust Bunny*

    Secret Santa: OMG just invite everybody. My office used to do a white elephant and everyone got it witness it even if they hadn’t signed up to participate (it was voluntary. As was the whole holiday party, I might add). Don’t look for reasons to exclude people.

    1. In my shell*

      This is what I wanted to express – thank you! I read the post twice and still don’t understand the real reason to not include everyone in the breakfast.

  37. lilsheba*

    I just switched jobs this year from a crappy one being a call center slave for a bank to being back in my actual field of telecommunications. While at the bank, about 2 years ago, they were going to do the yearly catered dinner thing they do. It always occurred during work hours, there was never a party with alcohol after hours or anything. Anyway on a work day it was fun to do to break up the work day, and it was only for an hour. But that year it was happening on my day off and they TRIED to pressure me to come in for it by trading for another day off and I refused. I’m not going to come in in my day off for this stupid thing, and they tried to pressure people to dress up for it too. No way. I’m so glad I don’t have to worry about their mandatory little stupid “team building” events anymore. My new company doesn’t seem to do virtual events either and that’s fine by me.

  38. HailRobonia*

    To quote Liz Lemon from 30 Rock: “There ain’t no party like a Liz Lemon party, because a Liz Lemon party is MANDATORY!”

  39. IT Heathen*

    LW#5 – I used to work for a company that did direct mail marketing for credit card companies. I guarantee you every single employee gets this marketing letter – even those who have the card! It is a super common practice to try to get employees of an organization to get the branded credit card. It’s not just hotels, either. I have seen it with airlines, professional sports teams, retail stores, and car companies. The “special deals” they offered some employees ended up being worse than if you applied for the card outside the employee program.

  40. HailRobonia*

    Although I am very much in the “pronounce people’s names correctly” camp, at some point we have to accept that people have accents and that will affect how we say things. My husband teases me because I pronounce Mary, merry, and marry all exactly the same. Hopefully people named Mary aren’t offended.

    This is, of course, no excuse for laziness… for example, the Chinese name Qin is close to “cheen” and if someone says it like “kwin” or “chin” after being corrected they should try to get it closer to the correct pronunciation… (and don’t even get me started on tones…)

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      Yes, I pronounce Mary/marry the same – I’m not sure how you’d differentiate them. Same with Dawn and Don. I went around and around with someone after telling them my friend’s name was Dawn. “Don? Her name is Don? That’s a guy’s name!”

      I do know a Lara and a Laurie who have both expressed frustration with being called Laura and Lori, and I’m careful to pronounce their names as they prefer.

      1. HailRobonia*

        My husband says Mary like “May-ree” and merry more like “mair-ee.” Similarly in his accent he distinguishes between caught and cot which I pronounce the same. (We’re both native English speakers – he’s from the Boston area whereas my background is more jumbled… Ohioan mother, Australian father, moved around a lot including living in Canada for a while during my youth….).

        Again, I want to emphasize that we should all try to get people’s names right. Occasionally I supervise temps in our office and when they come on board on of the first things I ask is how they want to be called… maybe Daniel prefers going by Dan (or hates going by dan), maybe Bianca likes it pronounced “bee-ahnk-ah” not “be-yank-ah”), etc.

        It hasn’t come up yet but in the future if I supervise a new person I would also ask their pronouns.

      2. Homophone Hatty*

        Laurie and Lori, Mary and Merry, and Don and Dawn are three pairs of homophones to me. That’s my accent, not a mispronunciation. To add to that, one of the six names mentioned above happens to be my real name, and I live in a different English-speaking country to the one I grew up in. People here pronounce my name slightly differently to how I pronounce it but that is due to accent. It’d be pretty wild if I went around correcting them because they pronounced it ‘wrong’!

        1. UKDancer*

          It’s funny I had a boss from another country in my last company who heard Don and Dawn as the same name and wouldn’t believe me that to me they sound different. She asked the 3 other Brits in the office who all agreed with me. Then she accused us of bullying her because she was foreign. It was surreal. We accepted that to her they sounded the same but she wouldn’t believe we heard them as different.

          1. Homophone Hatty*

            People are strange, aren’t they? That’s just wilful ignorance on her part! I mean, you could also just say both the names with your accent and they’d sound different. There’s the evidence. ‘Dawn’ and ‘Don’ sound very very different when English people pronounce them. (I’ve an English friend whose niece is called Dawn so I hear that name a lot!)

          2. Homophone Hatty*

            Just realised I said English and you said British. Apologies if you or the other Brits are Welsh or Scottish!

      3. Librarian1*

        I’m a Laura and to me Lara and Laura are pronounced differently, but it’s close enough that I usually don’t say anything about it. Laura is also pronounced differently in Spanish and English and if a native Spanish speaker pronounces it the Spanish way, that’s fine to me too because that’s an accent difference. I do not respond to either Lauren, Lorin, Laurie, Lori, or any variations of those names because I’ve had to train myself not to over the years.

    2. Esmeralda*

      There’s a difference between someone who is trying to get your name right and mispronounces it due to an accent, and someone who is calling you by a completely different name (=the LW’s situation).

  41. HailRobonia*

    New idea: Ask A Manager credit cards. They have a special feature that restricts them for purchasing gifts that employees actually want, restaurants that can accommodate food restrictions, as well as teapots and llama grooming services.

    1. Jean (just Jean)*

      Love this!
      The cards also are programmed not to work if you’re buying a gift for your supervisor.
      I hope other people have additional ideas. :-)

      1. anonymous 5*

        Hmmm…not to work if you’re attempting to purchase Hanukkah balls (or anything in that vein)? Or mudslides for someone who requested wine? Flag the signature authorization if you don’t actually spell your name Wakeen?

  42. Melissa*

    #3, I would be one of the folks who opt out of Secret Santa games. I have some strong social anxiety, and gift exchanging games feel like a huge punishment to me. But, I would have gladly attended the breakfast, and brought some food. It would be nice to include those people.

  43. Copyright Economist*

    Regarding Post #2,
    I have never gotten a job as a professional in less than four months. The Government of Canada rarely hires anyone within six months. If a high security clearance is required, it’s more like 12-18 months. If you need work for income, you may need to take a non-professional job in the meantime (retail, food-service, etc.), but to advance your career you should wait for the process to run its course.

  44. Nice Try, FBI*

    LW5, I once had a boss who was horrified to learn I’d never been to Hawaii (still haven’t because I’m not really a beach or island gal, but that’s besides the point.) He couldn’t get over it and would harass me about it. I’ve been to a lot of places (Army veteran, so not on my own dime), so it isn’t like I’m not well-traveled, but for whatever reason my not having been to Hawaii was some sort of a crime. The last time he bugged me about it, I fired back with, “How the heck can I afford to go to Hawaii on what little you pay me? You want me to go so bad, you send me!”

    He never sent me, but he finally stopped bugging me about it. Some people are really tone deaf.

  45. LMM*

    LW4: Definitely gently correct using Alison’s language, which is perfect! My name is one vowel sound off a more well-known variation, and I am constantly called the better-known variation. As that variation is also a song title, I usually joke that everyone thinks my parents named me Y after the cool rock song, but in fact, they named me after my grandmother, and it’s pronounced X.

  46. Phae*

    LW#3. – I don’t think you meant it this way (I hope not) but in reading the letter it almost reads like..these 4 don’t want to do it and 21 of you just HAPPENED to decided and breakfast and why should we EVEN invite those who DIDN’T include themselves in the secret Santa. It reads like snubbing or punishment. There is nothing wrong with inviting them to breakfast especially (unless I am reading wrong) you have a total of 25 employees in your office. Think about it this way..almost all the office is doing breakfast and 4 people aren’t included. Reads pretty badly right? That because someone doesn’t wish to do an activity of buying a gift for someone they are now excluded from enjoying a meal with their colleagues. Ask everyone to chip in.

  47. OP #1*

    Thanks for the advice Alison!

    To be clear, my manager was copied on the HR email back to me so she knew about it immediately. Her response was with mild agreement with HR stating that I shouldn’t go if I’m sick and not up for it, but it would be good for me to go if I can as it’s “socially important.” She also followed up with me yesterday and said that upper management would have been unhappy even if she didn’t care if I went or not. She also apologized for the miscommunication as she didn’t think much of it at the time, but should have realized it could be an issue. I don’t know if HR and my manager ended up speaking privately about this.

    I actually did end up attending the party and had a good time even if I still under the weather.

    I’ll definitely keep the good politics angle of events like this in mind as it’s something I never gave much thought to. I’m generally not the biggest fan of social events and often times would prefer not to attend. But, going for an hour shouldn’t be terrible.

  48. AthenaC*

    Quick sorta-funny story, related to #4. Once upon a time, back when it was still a common thing to call a family landline to talk to a friend, I called the house of a Chinese friend of mine who had married into an American family.

    “Hello?” answered a woman.

    “Hi – is Alexstraza there?”

    “No, I’m afraid you have the wrong number – who are you trying to reach?”

    I double-checked the number I wrote down as I answered her. My handwriting was messy; it wouldn’t be the first time I misread something I wrote. “Alexstraza Smith – I work with her and I think this is the number she gave me.”

    “Oh you mean Sandy Smith?”

    “… Sandy? A Chinese lady married to Tim Smith?”

    “Oh yes – Tim is my son. I didn’t recognize the name Alexstraza – we just call her Sandy.”

    Well, I’m glad we cleared that up! I have no idea how Alexstraza got shortened to Sandy (changing the names but I think I captured the spirit of the adaptation), but my friend seemed totally fine with being assigned a name by her MIL! And for the record, her MIL is a very lovely person. I just had no idea that she went by the name Sandy at home.


  49. Bill Johnson*

    Was is it about HR and virtual company parties lately? My case was nothing like the OP, but I did raise an eyebrow at multiple blast e-mails from HR this year “encouraging” attendance. I was on PTO too and a little concerned about that next step of individual pressure which fortunately did not come.

Comments are closed.