coworker is throwing a tantrum over having to interview for a promotion, inviting coworkers to your wedding, and more

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

1. Internal candidate is threatening to withdraw if he has to interview for the job

We are hiring for a senior manager role in my organization for the second time in a year. The last round of interviews were a year ago and one of our C-suite execs (Sterling) sat down with the internal finalists and promised a mentorship if they were unsuccessful. He’d work with them to address any weaknesses that were identified during the interview process. It was implied heavily that due to the mentorship, they’d be seconded into the senior manager role if it became available. Basically, the way it was described, they’d just be moved into the job. I know what was said because I was one of the candidates last year (the successful one, I’m pleased to say, thanks to Alison’s advice!) and got the same promise as the two unsuccessful candidates (Nate and Sophie).

However, Sterling is notorious for changing his mind and forgetting what he said. We’ve also had a lot of change in the organization,. which has meant higher than usual turnover in senior management level and we’re hiring to replace that role. The hiring manager has started to schedule interviews and Nate has pushed back very strongly. He doesn’t believe he should have to interview at all and thinks he should just get the role. Nate and Sophie are by far the favorite candidates, but there are other people interviewing who are also strong candidates and would do a good job.

I can understand Nate’s disappointment, but this comes across as a tantrum, especially as he’s threatening to withdraw if he’s not listened to. Sophie, on the other hand, has just continued on and accepted that she has to interview. Is this tantrum a red flag for Nate? Is this something that potentially warrants a closer examination of his general approach to work? I’m not sure I want to work on a team with someone who throws his toys out of his pram if things don’t go his way. It’s a stressful enough job without an extra layer of crud that comes with having to manage your words to someone. I have a really good relationship with the hiring manager. Should I say something?

Yes, it’s a red flag.

If Sterling implied to you, Nate, and Sophie that you were all shoo-ins for the job, that’s on him — and someone should talk to him about the false expectations (and apparently resentment) he created by doing that. But that doesn’t mean Nate is justified in throwing a tantrum (particularly when there’s already been a lot of change in the organization and one might assume that it would affect this role too). Nate could certainly express confusion or disappointment politely, but asserting that he shouldn’t have to interview at all and threatening to withdraw if he’s asked to says that Nate is … well, something. Immature? Unable to handle disappointment? Unable to handle things changing? I don’t know which it is, but I’d be wary of working with him too. At the very moment he’s being asked to show he’s well suited for a promotion, he’s showing he doesn’t have the very characteristics it takes to move into a senior leadership role.

You’re in a senior role yourself, it sounds like. If you have a vantage point on Nate that the hiring manager might not have and/or if you’d need to work with him if he gets the role, you have standing to pass along your feedback.

Read an update to this letter.

2. Do I have to invite my coworkers to my wedding?

My fiance and I got engaged back in June! Since then, we have moved to a new state for his job, but I have continued to work remotely for the same company I was with when we got engaged. We are planning a wedding in the city where we met, and where the home office of my small company is.

Overall there are about nine people I work closely with and six of them work from the home office. My coworkers have made a couple of passing comments about my wedding recently and it has led me to believe they may be expecting an invitation. Originally, I had not planned to invite them to the wedding as we are work colleagues and have a great relationship in the office, but we do not spend our time off work together. I am trying to keep my guest list to 130 people and without them on it, I am already planning on inviting closer to 160. I know some of the people I plan to invite will not be able to make it, but I still am worried that inviting them and their spouses will put me over budget. Do I have to invite my coworkers to my wedding?

You don’t need to invite your coworkers to your wedding. There’s no etiquette rule requiring that you invite them, and it’s very common not to! If you feel awkward about it, you can say things like, “We’re really struggling to get all our family members on the guest list” or “we’ve had to limit it to just family and close friends.”

3. Correcting people about my pronouns at work

I am in a creative industry that is very much a small world. I have been in it for twelve years now and have long-standing relationships with people in my field. I have known myself to be non-binary for several years, but only recently am I making the switch to they/them pronouns. Most people are perceptive enough to notice pronouns in my email signature or to ask what I use, but I also receive a fair amount of people reaching out or resharing my work while adamantly misgendering me (think: “you are an amazing female role model” “it’s amazing to see a woman excelling in this field”, etc). The compliments are nice and well-intended, but I would appreciate some scripts for acknowledging their kind words while also correcting their perception of my gender.

Matter-of-fact is good. For example: “That’s very kind of you to say. I’m actually non-binary (they/their rather than she/her) but thank you for the sentiment!”

Related: how to get better at using a coworker’s nonbinary pronouns

4. Do I have to list my current boss as a reference?

I’ve been with my company for three years now, and I see myself staying for a couple more years before moving on, since there is no opportunity for growth. I really like my boss and my colleagues, and ideally, when I start applying for new positions, I won’t have to tell my boss that I am looking elsewhere. But, I joined this company a year after completing graduate school and it is my first “real” job in my field. Because of this, I worry that when it comes time to apply for a new position, I’ll be forced to list my boss as my most recent reference, since she is the only boss I’ve had in my field post-graduation. Would it seem odd to a company not to list my current boss as a reference? How would you approach this? I’m afraid if my boss knows that I may leave, my work environment would become very awkward.

Nope, it’s very normal not to list your current boss as a reference; most employers understand that you won’t want your current employer to know you’re looking and are used to this.

Are there other people who have worked closely with you who you could list instead? Someone senior to you who has left the company but can speak to your work with nuance is a good choice, if such a person exists! Employers will generally want to speak to someone who has managed you, but it’s okay to list managers from jobs before this one, even though this is your first post-graduation job and even if those other jobs don’t feel relevant at all. Again, hiring managers will generally get it; most people don’t have a vast array of references when they’re leaving their first professional job for exactly this reason.

5. Can I take the home office deduction on my taxes this year?

How on earth will the home office deduction work with so many of us suddenly having an office at home, except it’s not really what the IRS probably considers an office?

The home office deduction for most workers was killed with the 2018 tax cut. You can still take it if you’re self-employed, but if you’re an employee it’s no longer allowed.

{ 408 comments… read them below }

  1. staceyizme*

    For LW1, who was successfully promoted and who now takes issue with someone else’s response to having to interview- why is it necessary for you to say anything? If he HAS to interview to be considered, then he’s already out of the running, right? This could be his attempt to draw a big red circle around a broken promise or it could be that he is really that naive. But I don’t know how well it would go over for you to intervene unless they’re in danger of hiring him and you’ve seen other evidence that he’s unbalanced. Your assessment is correct, in my view, that it’s troubling to see someone behave unprofessionally. But it might nick your own credibility if you object unnecessarily on the possibility that it might be a problem for you in the future. Maybe seeing how much corrective pressure the interview process brings to bear would be informative.

    1. Mr Jingles*

      He might suppress his outburst when push comes to shove or he might be able to wiggle his way into the position somehow withput interviewing. His boss might get soft and intervene for him.
      Trying to bully oneself into a position is not something I’d like to work with.
      It might have been feasible the moment the first offer was made, but LW made clear a lot has changed and this is not showing great judgement if this guy doesnt see and understand that and is so unflexible. I wouldn’t want a manager who is so rigid and silly. I’d be glad if someone intervened and protected me from being supervised by someone like this. He’ll be unreasonable and rigid in every case for sure. Pass over talented candidates because they promised someone with more tenure is never a good thing to do. It’s highly unfair and will breed rightful resentment.

      1. EPLawyer*

        especially because the other candidate is going along with it. Probably not thrilled but accepting this is now the process regardless of what was said before (probably she realizes that the other boss was exactly as LW described so didn’t count on just coasting in).

        This is a piece of information that the hiring committee very much needs. What they do with it is up to them. They might say Well I would be irked if it was me too. And do nothing about it. Or they might consider how both candidates approached being thrown something different than they had planned on and how they handled it.

        I certainly would not wnat to work with somone, in senior management no less, who behaved this way over somethign that while not great is not a HUGE change. What happens when they upgrade from Windows 365 to whatever the new system is. he was PROMISED that he would be using Windows in his job. Or they start using Slack instead of Windows IM (or whatever its called now). This is on about that level of change and he is behaving like a 3 year old whose favorite toy has been taken away.

        1. Archaeopteryx*

          Yes,I wonder if Nate thinks Sophie should be able to just get the job without interviewing, or whether that only applies to him for some reason…

          1. Sparrow*

            This was my thought, too. Does he not know that Sterling said the same thing to all the candidates? And if he does know…obviously they can’t both get the first available promotion, whether they interview or not. I guarantee he’d also be throwing a tantrum if they’d promoted Sophie first, even knowing that she was equally “owed” this position. I think OP should be very wary of this guy and that they should let him follow through on his “threat” to withdraw from consideration.

            1. I'm just here for the cats*

              I was thinking this too. Also, Sterling may have been correct at the time, that they wouldn’t have to interview. But now that a position is available they need to interview both of them to see who is going to be the best fit for the role. It doesn’t sound like they have to do a whole application process or anything. Just sit down and talk.

        2. Uranus Wars*

          I’m still stumbling at offering to mentor 2 people for a senior management position and indicating it would be an automatic appointment. If the position came open and they were both still there…unless they were willing to create two positions, it would make sense only one of them could get it and would have to interview. Unless I am the one misunderstanding this scenario.

        3. Esmeralda*

          As someone who’s chaired a fair number of hiring committees: I absolutely would want to know this. It probably wouldn’t be enough to knock him out of the running, but I’d know to probe re professional conduct, ability to manage unexpected change, ability to manage disappointment, etc

      2. Cat Tree*

        Also, this just seems like a really bizarre hill to die on. It’s an afternoon of awkward interviews with people you work with, not a Survivor-style contest or a request for his firstborn child. It’s fine to be a little miffed while you put on your big-boy pants and just do it, but ragequitting the whole process is such an over-reaction. If this is a big enough problem for him to have this reaction it really makes me wonder how coddled he had been the rest of his life. What does he normally do when he has to out in a slight effort to get what he wants? I just don’t trust his judgment in general.

      3. JSPA*

        If he successfully pulls himself together, than he’s only guilty of temporarily grousing. At which point, I suppose it really depends how long, how forcefully and how distractingly he went on about it. (“very strongly” can be one very strong statement; a few days of grumbling for a minute or two per day, in the break room; or weeks of fricking endless jeremiad and crossness.)

        If it was / is brief (even if it was a strong reaction), I’m highly ambivalent.

        The boss regularly forgets and reneges on promises. Per LW, the coworker didn’t misunderstand or misinterpret.

        So frankly, intentionally or otherwise, coworker was strung along. He SHOULD be getting ticked, at least cumulatively, if not for this one thing. They should all be ticked about having to deal with “can’t trust me” boss.

        It would serve boss right if coworker got the job, and used the promotion to sweeten his resume and glide on out from under over-promising, under-delivering boss (leaving boss to re-start the process).

        I’d frankly let this one play out by itself, as there’s presumably no more than a 50% chance he gets the job, and if he’s peeved, he’s likely to move himself along.

        Besides, if you speak up, you end up being presumed to be a supporter of the other internal candidate (or more unlikely, one of the externals, I suppose). That’s not terrible, of course. But a) it can look like the wrong sort of office politics and b) if the other person gets the job and they then don’t perform excellently, you catch a little of the side-eye. If you speak up and complaints dude still gets promoted, someone is going to clue him in, and then you have a work-politics foe (not to say enemy) on your tail. If he get promoted and leaves after you complain, you may be blamed for him leaving.

        Unless he’s being disruptive of work in his displeasure, or making people uncomfortable–different issue entirely–this doesn’t rise to the level of “need to inform.”

        1. pancakes*

          I don’t agree that preferring a candidate who manages their own emotions like a professional to one who doesn’t signifies “the wrong sort of office politics,” and don’t see any reason to believe that whoever the letter writer speaks to about this, if anyone, is likely to be as indiscreet about it as you seem to be taking for granted.

        2. Alice's Rabbit*

          Um, no. Anyone who throws a tantrum in the office is out of line. Period.
          That is not professional behavior in any field. And for someone being considered for a promotion, it’s completely unacceptable.
          You’re entitled to your emotions, whatever they may be. But how you express those emotions at work needs to stay mature and professional.

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

      Sounds to me like Nate is absolutely terrified of finding out that he’s not good enough to land the senior role a second time around, and that he’s literally fighting or flying.

      If he’s going to handle challenges like a toddler, at best he’s still too emotionally immature to be a senior manager. At worst, he’s an entitled ass who will be awful to work with. I don’t think it’d undermine OP’s credibility at all to matter-of-factly relay what they’re seeing to the hiring manager.

      1. Elle by the sea*

        Well, I have the same feeling. If you are truly confident in your abilities, you will be happy to interview (even if an interview is a stressful situation for most people). If you honestly think that you are the right candidate for the role by merit, you don’t go and try to strong-arm yourself into that position. So, yes, it’s definitely a red flag.

        1. Alice's Rabbit*

          I wouldn’t go so far as to say one should be happy about having to interview. It’s fine to be frustrated when you think something is a sure thing, and it ends up not. But how you express that frustration is key.
          “I was told that wasn’t necessary, as the promotion would be automatic once there was a vacancy.” – fine, mature, and reasonable. You had been told one thing, and now it feels like they’re pulling a fast one. You have a right to raise that concern.
          Throwing any kind of tantrum, however, is not okay. Especially if you want a promotion. The hiring/interviewing managers need to know about that.

      2. SuperScout*

        “Fighting or flying.” Good point. It’d be easier for him to say he rejected them than to go through the interview and get rejected once again.

      3. MK*

        I get the temptation to think someone who behaves unprofessionally is also incompetent, but life doesn’t work that way. Nate may or may not be great for the job, but his refusal to interview doesn’t have to be a sign of insecurity, it may well be (grossly unprofessional) reaction to feeling he has been strung along.

        1. Junger*

          Although behaving professionally is part of the job, so he’s incompetent in that part at least.

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Nate bugs me, but all I can offer is agreement that OP should mention this, even if it’s just “so, Nate got pretty upset when he learned about the interviews. What’s up with that?”

          Two people went into mentorship; one position opened. If nothing else, there has to be SOME formality to pick between these two. And senior management often requires the ability to present yourself well as the face of the company–I’d EXPECT to be asked what was learned through the internship!

          1. SimplytheBest*

            I wonder if Nate would react differently if that was all this was, a formality of picking between him and sophie. But OP makes it clear that there are other candidates in the mix now. That’s a totally different thing.

        3. Student*

          You’re assuming that Nate is doing this because he’s unhappy with the process. He may be trying to strong-arm his way into the position, to the detriment of his co-worker Sophie and the other candidates. I lost out on a promotion due to similar work-the-ref behavior to pre-empt an actual interview by a colleague against a hiring manager who was conflict-averse and eager to get the process over with. Nate may have connections to the hiring manager or know their personality such that he thinks this ploy may work – and sometimes, it does.

          1. Autistic AF*

            It seems quite reasonable to assume that if someone doesn’t want to do a certain thing, they’re unhappy with it. Why would someone try to strongarm themselves out of a process they ARE happy with?

            1. JSPA*

              the process may be immaterial.

              Whether or not he hates or is neutral on the process, “it feels like you lied to me, prove to me you didn’t by hiring me” can sometimes work, when there’s the right dynamic between boss and protégé.

              If he plays that card, and the other internal person doesn’t, he’s gone from having a strong shot (at best) to, well, having the job. And also, having successfully played a weird dominance/bonding game on the boss. Think of them as dogs rather than people, and the dynamic may ring true. It’s the “appeal to something other than rationality,” so those of us who don’t have much insight into that crud, and presume a fully rational process, don’t otherwise recognize it in real time.

          2. kt*

            This is what it seems like to me, as well. I have also encountered this behavior, and a weak or conflict-averse manager indeed will just give the tantrumer the position and then say to Sophie, “Well, it just didn’t seem like you wanted it as much.”

              1. TardyTardis*

                But sadly normal. We’ve all see those commercials where women just somehow never seem to make the cut.

        4. Anonym*

          For senior management roles, professionalism, big picture awareness and self control are fundamental to competence in the role. Not in all cases, but certainly in this one, those things are one and the same.

        5. Sparkles McFadden*

          It might be frustration. It might also be from a sense of entitlement that some people seem to have.

          I once had an internal candidate refuse to supply a resume. I explained that I needed to review his resume before interviewing him. He still refused, saying “That’s for outside people. I don’t have to do that.” I said “I have a job you want. I am telling you I need a resume for you to be considered. In a situation where I have all the cards, you are refusing to do what I am asking you to do. Why would I hire someone who won’t do what needs to be done?” He complained to my Grandboss who required me to interview him. At the interview he said “I already work in the company so of course I am qualified so I don’t see why I have to waste time talking to you.”

          He was shocked when he didn’t get the job.

    3. Sue*

      I don’t really understand the situation anyway. It sounds like two unsuccessful candidates were both promised future promotions and now with one opening, this guy thinks it’s his? What about Sophie? She just doesn’t count in his thinking, I guess. His entitled attitude would certainly concern me.

      1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        Removed because there’s nothing in the letter to substantiate this.

        To the commenters asking why I allowed that comment to stand earlier: As I have repeated many times and as is stated in the commenting rules, I do not see every comment; there are far too many for me to read them all. If you think a comment violates the site rules, please flag it for me so I know about. Do not simply come here and complain that the comment is here; that will do nothing.

      2. Viette*

        That’s what I was thinking while I was reading it. (Nice name choices, OP.) If there’s one role, and Nate and Sophie are by far the favorites, why is Nate for some reason just gonna get the job without interviewing? Even if it was down to only Nate and Sophie, they both got the same promise from Sterling. Did Nate just forget she exists?

        1. Myrin*

          Yeah, forgetful or not, this was a very strange “promise” for Sterling to make to begin with:

          “It was implied heavily that due to the mentorship, they’d be seconded into the senior manager role if it became available. Basically, the way it was described, they’d just be moved into the job.”

          I bolded this because yeah, there it is: we are definitely talking about two candidates (or three, really, with OP being one of them) being a shoo-in for one job – how exactly was that supposed to happen? I can understand an offer of mentorship to all candidates, sure, but actually implying they’d both somehow magically get to fill one-and-the-same role? Strange, strange.

          As for your last question, yeah, Nate does sound like someone who is so entitled and selfish that he does indeed forget that his coworkers exist.

        2. Snow Globe*

          I believe Sterling’s thought was that either Nate or Sophie would be picked, but since they’ve both previously interviewed and have been mentored, the choice would be made without the need to further interview either of them.

          1. Washi*

            But if Sophie were just picked with no interview for either of them, Nate sounds like the kind of person who would complain about that too!

            It sounds like Nate is making what might have otherwise been a tricky choice much easier. If he wants to refuse to interview, that’s his prerogative, no need to cajole him into it.

            1. Birdie*

              Oh yeah, he would 100% be throwing a fit about Sophie getting the job without interviewing, even though she was equally “owed” the position.

        3. Some internet rando*

          I had the same thought and it smells like sexism and male entitlement… that Nate thinks it would go to one of them and since the other person is a female, it would go to him. That alone would make him difficult to work for.

          I hope he is not promoted. Think of the message its sending: Throw a tantrum and you get rewarded. Be like Sophie and follow the rules, and you will get nothing.

      3. Elle by the sea*

        It’s possible that the two people don’t know that they were not the only ones offered that position. I’ve seen cases like that.

        Getting upset at being turned down from a position you were promised (!) is not a red flag, per se. A manager being so inconsistent is more of a red flag.

        Having said that, it is indeed a red flag to react angrily and passive aggressively to a new opportunity of qualifying for the position. He should take it as an exciting challenge and an opportunity to prove his fit for the position. If I were the hiring manager, I would immediately disqualify him from.

        1. BekaAnne*


          That’s one thing that Sterling was clear on – all the candidates knew that the same offer was being made to the other unsuccessful candidates.

      4. Joielle*

        Yeah, this was my thought too. Even if he wasn’t expecting there to be external candidates – obviously he’d have to do SOME sort of interview process because there are two internal candidates for one job. He seems like an ass.

      5. BekaAnne*

        OP#1 here: you’ve gotten it right.

        Basically multiple people were promised the next role – unofficially by someone who is in a position to make it happen. Nate’s kinda demanding that his past interview be considered – but it was a year ago and a lot of things have changed in the organisation.

        Sophie has done A LOT over the year. Nate’s just continued doing the same things that he did last year. I think this is why he’s feeling a little vulnerable and throwing a tantrum.

        1. Parenthesis Dude*

          How long is the interview process at your company? If it’s a huge long process, I can understand not wanting to go through it again. If it’s an hour, then that’s a red flag. But I mean, I’ve gone through interview processes where I’m stuck interviewing with every single person on the team separately, and it wastes ten hours of my life. I’m not willing to do that multiple times.

          It sounds like Sophie is going to beat him out anyway. You’ll learn a lot about him based on how he takes that loss.

        2. staceyizme*

          That’s an interesting bit of additional context. So, it’s not exactly a case of level competition and one slot. Nate basically spent the year treading water and Sophie grew significantly. It would explain Nate’s reaction and not in a favorable way. Sterling sounds like he kicked the can down the road, but not constructively. I hope that you are able to update us about results after the hire is made!

        3. cabbagepants*

          Oh my goodness. So Nate really *is* trying to manipulate those around him into giving him a promotion that he himself knows he might not deserve. I hope very very much that you are able to convey the tantrum to the hiring manager and that your organization takes the behavior as the red flag that it is.

      6. Yorick*

        Well, it’s possible the boss didn’t tell him that both he and Sophie were going into this “mentorship program,” so he might think he was the runner-up that time and the next promotion was his.

        He still needs to grow up, of course.

    4. Tara*

      I find it so funny that he’s threatening to withdraw if he has to interview. Like surely you just make him interview, and he withdraws, and Sophie gets the job? Unless you really want him at the company, anything other than “thanks for letting us know, as we do need to interview for the position, should we consider this as you withdrawing from the process?” from the hiring boss is just awarding bad behaviour.

    5. Glitsy Gus*

      Yeah, I’m thinking Nate may talk his way out of the promotion all by himself on this one.

      The one place where I could see OP’s input may be relevant here is if Nate is talking about things promised to him by Sterling and the hiring manager is confused about what on earth he is talking bout. OP is in a position to clarify what was said, since they heard the same spiel during the last hiring round. You could let the hiring manager know what was said in those meetings clarifying that while a certain level of preference was implied it was never indicated that they would not be required to interview in the future for a possible promotion or that said promotion was a guarantee. That kind of thing.

      If hiring manager asks your opinion, feel free to be candid, but if he’s going to withdraw if he has to interview but Sophie and the others don’t feel the same… well, I mean, problem solved?

      1. BekaAnne*

        #OP1 here.

        I’ve spoken to the hiring manager about what was discussed previously, but I’m probably going to speak to her again about this.

        I’m not 100% convinced that any mentoring actually took place during the year so I think it was just retention strategy – don’t lose people when they don’t get promoted.

        1. JSPA*

          Well, uck all around, then.

          Glad you’re doing OK, I mean…but that’s all in all a mildly user-ish, end-to-end. Don’t let too much of it stick to you and normalize, while waiting to be in a position to encourage more actual mentorship (where mentorship is promised) and the keeping of promises, when made.

    6. Older and bolder*

      Soooo… if neither Nate nor Sophie needs to interview, which one gets the job? Who decides, and how? Isn’t this the essential question to point out to Nate? The same promise was made to Sophie. Ergo, the game has changed.

        1. SimplytheBest*

          I mean it does sound like he has some reason to be annoyed. He was told he would be mentored into this position and then above you say you don’t think there has been any mentoring. And now it’s not even coming down to between him and Sophie, there are other candidates in the mix.

          He sounds like he’s acting a bit pompous but I also would probably think hard about what hoops I want to jump through when the things I’m promised don’t come to pass.

    7. Daffy Duck*

      One of the major duties of a manager is to deal with unexpected difficulties in a smooth and competent manner. Mentioning the promise with an “I want to clarify” attitude is fine, but coming across upset in any way shows he isn’t ready to manage at a higher level.

      1. TardyTardis*

        True. However, management is not coming through well either. Jerking people around just to keep them from bailing is bad form, too.

  2. WoodswomanWrites*

    For #2, I will never understand the situation where people think they should be invited to their co-worker’s wedding when their relationship, however positive, is restricted to their workplace. A wedding is a special event for the couple that they’re typically spending money on themselves. They only weddings I’ve attended for a co-worker were when we met through work but our friendship extended beyond that. And it’s really up to the couple whom they want to invite regardless of the circumstances. I can’t imagine dropping hints to be invited. I would be embarrassed.

    1. Shira*

      I don’t mean this to be a nitpick because I do think there’s a real difference – they might not be dropping hints so much as unconsciously assuming they’ll be invited. Who knows why – might be a cultural element (where I’m from, weddings with 300-400 guests are the norm) or they might think they have a closer relationship with LW than LW thinks – but they aren’t necessarily intentionally fishing for an invite.
      Which doesn’t change the practical advice for the LW but maybe will help her feel better in politely setting them straight, if it is indeed just a misunderstanding. Decent people will understand “we’re keeping it small.”

      1. Zandt*

        +1. Some people just assume that because weddings are celebrations, the bride and groom must want to share it with as many people as possible. My mom is like this. Whenever her coworkers or other acquaintances tell her they’re going to get married, she always assumes she’ll be invited.

        As an interesting aside, I currently live in Asia and twice I’ve been invited to two weddings by people from other departments whom I’ve never even met. I literally don’t know who they are. The invitations were dropped at my desks (before Covid).

        1. 123Rew*

          Yep. Where I am from 80+ person wedding is considered a big wedding. A friend of mine is from a Place where you invite everyone you and your parents know. She was marrying a someone from wehre I am from and it was hilarious to hear them talk about the guest list. I think at the point when she added her sisters swimming instructor to the guest list, her now husband started to draw the line. Just a different culture.

          1. The Rural Juror*

            That is EXACTLY why my sis-in-law told her parents she would absolutely not get married in her home town. After my brother proposed, her parents started “helping” with the wedding planning. They were like, “Welp, looks like the only place that will hold everyone we need to invite is the fairgrounds.” They had it in their mind that they would invite everyone in their church, all of her dad’s customers, all of her mom’s fellow teachers, etc. My SIL put her foot down and said NOPE.

            Their wedding was lovely, in a small historic hotel a few hours drive away from her hometown. I think there were about 40 people. It was perfect.

            1. Joielle*

              The fairgrounds!!! Omg, I am dying at that detail. Like, there’s obviously no other option, I guess we’ll just have to have your wedding in the same pavilion where they judge cattle. Oh and most of the people there will be strangers. Weddings make people do weird things.

              (I’m sure there are actually some nice buildings at the fairgrounds, it’s just a funny mental image!)

              1. Unladen European Swallow*

                Just as a bit of cultural context, whereas in the U.S. a wedding is (mostly? usually?) about the couple and celebrating them, in my native country’s culture, the wedding is most often viewed/accepted as the culmination of the work that the parents have put in to raise their children to this adult stage in life. Therefore, it is expected for the parents to invite just about everyone they know and to whom they have some sort of connection (through work, church/religious org, networks, etc.) This is how you get weddings with a guestlist in the hundreds. Basically, it’s a celebration at the family level, with emphasis/honor given to the parents and so they call the shots.

                1. kt*

                  And this is important to be aware of — I was born in the US but with recent (European) immigrant heritage and while all my American friends with less-recent immigrant heritage (and the media and the advice columns) were telling me “this is your day! it’s all about what *you* want!”, the whole thing went much more smoothly (and I was happier) when I realized that no, it is a celebration for the community. We invited the entire ethnic-club (published the invite in their newsletter) and our entire church, and served them all lunch. It was nice, and for me, less stressful than putting my entire self-worth and self-expression on picking flowers that truly represent *me* and My Dreams (way easier to buy flowers that are “nice enough for a party”, and the community I’m from doesn’t get too judgy about how things look — they just want a lot of good food).

                2. Uranus Wars*

                  I am from the US and where I am from 500-700 person weddings are the norm. My best friend estimated she didn’t know half the people at hers. Forever and ever I have told my parents if I ever get married I shall invite immediate family only.

                3. Unladen European Swallow*

                  @Uranus Wars, oh – I totally get it. My parents immigrated to the US when I was just over 1yr old and the wedding would have been expected to be something with a very very large guest list. I was not about that AT ALL and so my husband and I eloped instead. And I have absolutely zero regrets. My mom was upset at first, but now she has a grandbaby so all is forgiven. My youngest sister (who got married before me – which made my parents uneasy to have their daughters married “out of order”) had a small wedding because they wanted to pay for it themselves to have complete control. The parents have gotten over it all.

            2. AKchic*

              Sounds like my mom and my current MIL. Both have very big opinions on who should and shouldn’t be invited to weddings. My mom: every single family member, family friend that is still topside, and person she knows. My MIL: every single family member (minus their wives/girlfriends because she doesn’t like female competition and she is the ONLY woman in the family and everyone had better remember it thankyouverymuch), all of her friends (yes, both of them), her employer, her enemy (to prove that she’s better than they are), that one internet person she’s fighting with (again, to prove she’s better than that person).
              We arranged everything ourselves, paid for everything ourselves. My mom knows better and stayed out of it (it was my 3rd marriage and she didn’t attend the first two, she was lucky to be invited at all). My MIL had *opinions* and I was no longer accepting her calls on the subject. She decided to reserve a banquet hall and invite 60 of her family members that my husband hadn’t seen or spoken to in a decade and then told him that it was her “gift” to us. He told her to enjoy her party and hung up on her. I have no idea what she told all of those people or if she got her money back. We never asked. A few years later, I went completely No Contact with her (and I absolutely love it).

            3. Lizzo*

              Yes, this is exactly why we did not get married in my husband’s hometown, though it would’ve been 1) geographically convenient and 2) much more affordable than the city we currently live in. The expectation of inviting everyone from church + all friends in a town they’ve lived in for 4+ decades was…not something I could get on board with from any perspective, but especially financial. I’ve been dating your son for three years; if I haven’t met these people yet and spent more than 5 minutes chatting with them, they’re not making the cut.

              1. AKchic*

                That’s how I felt about my current husband’s family. We’ve been together for 14 years. He has 37 cousins on his mother’s side. I’ve met 3-4 of them. In passing at the store. I was friendly with one of the (now ex) wives, and that was because she was a nurse at my doctor’s office, and we only knew that because she recognized my husband when he came to a visit with me and recognized *him* from her wedding. I literally met his uncle at his brother’s wedding (where he glared at me from across the room the entire reception and never spoke to me, even though I was the officiant). I met the aunt when his mother randomly brought her to our house to show off OUR house to her (we’ve since moved, and neither of our families have our current address).

                We live in the same geographical area as these people. His mother’s need to be the only woman in her sons’ lives, combined with a lot of other dysfunction in the larger family has created a really weird dynamic and I’m just not wading into that mess. I am 100% hands off.

      2. Joan Rivers*

        Esp. after a Pandemic. At least I HOPE we’re talking “after.” When are we talking?
        That would deter most from wanting to go to another state.
        I thought coworkers just as often feel alarmed they might HAVE to go.

      3. WoodswomanWrites*

        This is a good point. Reading your comments and others in response to what I wrote, I can see I was making some cultural assumptions. I appreciate all the comments about that, which has been a good opportunity for me to broaden my lens. Thanks to all.

    2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      Yes. We had a lodger once who was engaged, and for some reason my partner kept talking as if we were to be invited. He hates weddings so I’m really not sure why he made those comments. I upbraided him, in front of our lodger, so that she wouldn’t feel obliged to invite us. She did invite us though, and my partner proceeded to moan throughout the whole ceremony :rolleyes:
      Also, if you don’t have different levels of intimacy with your colleagues, like there aren’t any you ever see outside work, if you invite one you’d have to invite them all. My colleague invited us all, and the woman she worked closest with turned up in torn jeans, too late for the ceremony, but not too late to be a messy blotch marring all the group photos.
      Invite who you want not the people who think they should be invited.

    3. MK*

      Restricted to the workplace, a.k.a. where people spent more of their time than at any other place with people that may have more influence in your life and future than many relatives? Angling for an invitation is crash, but I am pretty sure most people don’t do that, they just assume they are close enough to one of the couple to merit an invitation; and it can be pretty jarring to find out you are wrong about the level of friendship you have with someone.

      That being said, OP, don’t interpret passing comments as people expecting an invitation; unless they say something that implies they will be there, they are probably just making conversation.

      1. I should really pick a name*

        You may spend more time with coworkers, but you’re not choosing to spend time with them, it’s part of the job.

        I like my co-workers, but at my current job, there’s only one that I consider a friend and would see outside of work (pre COVID)

        Frequency of interaction does not equal closeness. Some of my closest friends are people I might only see in person once every two months.

        1. MK*

          Sure, but just because a relationship is restricted to the workplace doesn’t mean it’s not close either, it may just mean that you don’t feel the need to schedule other activities when you already see each other all the time.

          1. I should really pick a name*

            True, but to me, just being a co-worker doesn’t qualify as a close relationship. There has to be some deeper level of connection.

            To some people it does, and that discrepancy is probably the source of many advice column letters.

        2. TillieGotBack*

          You don’t pick your family members either, and much of the time you spend with them, like weddings and other family gatherings, isn’t 100% by choice. And yet many of them are invited to the wedding, often out of obligation.

          1. anonymous 5*

            Pretty sure it’s more common for people to remain related to their family members for their entire lives than it is for people to remain in the same workplace for the rest of their lives, though.

            1. lapgiraffe*

              But remaining related and remaining in touch/in good standing are different things. Some people do successfully cut out family members who are abusive or just don’t serve them, and those people aren’t getting invites to holidays much less weddings. Just as others have mentioned cultural differences, many of us live in a time and place where we can choose our family in ways that have nothing to do with bloodline. In fact I could list 50 current and previous coworkers I would invite to my own wedding before inviting one particular (first snd only on this side!) cousin and his family.

              1. UKDancer*

                Definitely. If I had to choose between the 2 coworkers I get on really well with and consider friends and the 2 second cousins I’ve not seen since Grandma’s funeral, I’d pick the coworkers every time.

          2. I should really pick a name*

            My main point is that simply spending all day in an office with someone does not warrant an invitation to my wedding. The actual personal relationship I have with them is what matters, and it has to be more than “Hi, how was your weekend?”.

            If the sole reason to invite someone is that I’m related to them, I wouldn’t invite them. I’d invite the relatives that I have positive relationships with (and I’m someone who’s lucky enough that I have positive relationships with pretty much all of my close relatives)

      2. Pennyworth*

        Its important not to sound as though you are expecting to be a guest when you discuss colleagues wedding plans. I’ve worked in offices where some co-workers had been invited to a wedding and some had not (for perfectly good reasons to do with out-of-work friendships) and it was a bit tricky trying to sound interested in wedding talk without giving the impression I was angling for an invitation.

    4. Mockingjay*

      Thirty years ago my husband and I were planning our wedding and also trying to keep the numbers down – we were paying for it ourselves. I didn’t plan to invite any coworkers. My supervisor, who knew my then-fiance slightly socially, was dying for an invite and eventually asked him if she could attend.

      She’s a terrific person and we’ve kept in touch to this day, but back then I was quite annoyed. A wedding is not an open house party invite. If you’re not asked, you don’t get to go.

    5. Batgirl*

      I think it’s geek social fallacies when people assume that of course you wouldn’t want to exclude anyone/it’s socially supportive to express interest in someone’s celebration. It’s a bit of a social anomaly too – you usually don’t mention for example, that you have an upcoming birthday party to people who are aren’t invited. It’s often a sign of naivety of what you’re trying to pull off: anyone who’s paid modern wedding prices and tried to wrangle a guest list and seating plan knows it’s a big ask. Other people think it’s more like a house party, only with more significance if you don’t make the cut.

      1. TardyTardis*

        It depends on the wedding, too. If it’s a church wedding where the refreshments are the ice cream/7up punch, little dishes of nuts and mints, and the wedding cake, a large number just means you cut the wedding cake in smaller pieces. Now, if you’re going to have a sit down dinner, yeah, you need to control those numbers.

    6. Pretzelgirl*

      I do think it depends on the person, their position in the company etc. When I got married, my mom wanted to invite some co-workers. It was the norm in her position and industry. She was C-Suite employee and invited her boss, colleagues and assistant. This is the norm where she worked.

    7. irene adler*

      Interesting. I agree. Simply being co-workers shouldn’t be an automatic avenue to a wedding invitation. Let it be up to the couple to decide whom to invite.

      I had a report who was getting married. One morning, she handed out wedding invitations to every person at the company (~ 20 people). She said that her mother insisted that the proper etiquette was to invite all co-workers to one’s wedding-especially the C-suite individuals. So she did as she was told.

      So I’m thinking, had we been a company of 500 people, would this still hold? That would be money better spent on the couple’s future (down payment on a home, purchase home furnishings, etc.).

      (annnnnd, maybe this was a gift grab in disguise **shrug**)

      1. Not a dr*

        Also, my partner and I are planning a wedding of literally 24 people. If it was bigger I may invite the 2-3 people on my immediate team, but not the whole company.

        We are inviting 22 people! That workplace would be our entire wedding.

      2. Aquawoman*

        I wish the whole “gift grab” idea would die. I’m sure it happens but I think most people are just trying to plan their wedding. I really doubt many people come out ahead on gifts vs cost of a wedding.

        1. EPLawyer*

          I had a classmate in law school who openly complained that people showed up at her wedding without gifts/low cost gifts considering how much SHE spent on the wedding and the cost to feed the guests. She was not pleased when I pointed out the purpose of inviting people was to celebrate your wedding with them, not get gifts.

          1. Aquawoman*

            I’m not saying it doesn’t happen. I just don’t think it should be assumed for everyone who wants to have people at their wedding. Most of the people I know wanted to celebrate.

        2. Student*

          There’s some cultural differences. Lots of people are just trying to plan their wedding. There really are people who look at it as a financial plan to come out ahead while establishing a household. My mother has very firm ideas about how weddings, baby showers, etc. should “pay off” for the guest of honor. I disagree with her – but I also understand why she holds that position and where it came from. My family was/is poor – but I got a solid job out of college and am now well-off.

          If I was still as poor as my parents, throwing big parties and hoping to get a net pay-out in gifts might’ve been my only realistic hope to establish a “nicer” household (or prep for a baby’s needs, etc.) and move up the social/economic ladder a little bit. However, since I had a solid income by the time I got married, I didn’t need other people to chip in to get my household going – so I didn’t care about or need gifts from my guests, and didn’t sit there and do a cost-benefit analysis on my guest list to see who would fork over the best gifts.

          1. Malarkey01*

            I agree with this and there’s such a regional/generational/income difference in how people view these. Showers specifically, at least as we know them today, were started in immigrant communities where people didn’t have large established families to help young couples literally receive the things they needed to start a home. Without them they would not a pot to cook in or a blanket to wrap the baby in. The entire point was literally to shower the family with gifts. It was the way those living in poverty could navigate life’s big changes.

            Some of those older needs and attitudes clash a little for those of us that marry later and have established homes already or are in better financial shape.

        3. Fooey*

          When I was planning a wedding, I turned it into a gift grab…. my mom came in and took over and I gave up fighting her, she was just too overbearing. When she wanted me to change the date so her three sisters could attend (who I didn’t even want there or care to have there), I told my fiance we would change the date to satisfy my mother and get her three sisters there and guarantee $100 minimum each in gifts from them.

          If I couldn’t have my damn wedding the way I wanted it and had to capitulate to demands from others, I was going to take advantage of it as much as possible and that meant sucking up the gifts.

          (Fortunately the wedding didn’t happen for a range of reasons, and since then I’ve managed to get away from mother being overbearing, she’s had very little say on my decisions since but 22 year old me didn’t have the backbone at the time to push back.)

    8. SomebodyElse*

      Without specifics on the ‘hints’ I’m wondering if the LW is taking innocuous comments as hints when they aren’t?

      LW: We picked a venue for the wedding, we’re getting married at fancy place downtown
      CW: Ooo… that sounds nice, it should be a great day
      LW thinking to themselves: Oh crap… they are expecting to go
      CW thinking to themselves: hmmm did I forget to bring salad dressing for my lunch (in other words nothing about the wedding and no expectations of an invitation)

      At any rate the advice doesn’t change… no one is obligated to invite coworkers if they don’t want to and I would argue that in most situations coworkers shouldn’t be invited because it can bring up awkward situations around gift giving and obligations (to attend, to be interested in the planning, to not attend, etc.)

      1. Reba*

        Yeah, wedding talk is a bit tough, because while normally it would be a faux pas to talk about a party with those not invited, it’s pretty common to talk about wedding planning with friends and coworkers (and I think female-presenting betrothed people are particularly likely to be asked, at least in my area). It may just be chatting about a big thing going on in your life, which many would consider to be showing supportive interest in a colleague.

        Some people may expect an invite, some may not expect it and look on an invite as a gift grab!

        If it is just hinting, well, you don’t have to do anything! If someone hints, they haven’t actually asked and you can just be politely clueless :)

        FWIW we invited a few friends who happened to be coworkers.

        Another kind of tricky thing about that is if you invite one, you might feel you need to invite all? The kindergarten rule.

        I’m also thinking of the recent update where the LW went to the clients wedding and it was considered as a huge deal professionally, ugh.

        ANYWAY just try to invite people you care about, I guess that’s my advice!

      2. Cascadia*

        I’d also be careful about how you’re talking about the wedding with your coworkers! If you’re having weekly conversations where you fill them in on the latest vendor you booked, or asking them advice about which dress you should get, they may expect to be invited. I’m not saying the letter writer is doing this, but since they are worried about people assuming they are invited, they should stop all talk of the wedding at work. If they get asked about it in casual conversation they should say “nothing new to add!” and then subject change.

    9. Sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

      Most of the weddings I attended in my 20s (in jthe 90s) were coworker weddings, mine or my husband’s. It was a thing.

      But I never had any automatic expectations of being invited and I would never sniff around for an invite unless I was very close to the person.

    10. le teacher*

      I have found that sometimes people getting married read a little too much into others’ comments and assume everyone wants to attend their party, and that is often not the case. Just sharing this perspectives.

    11. Heffalump*

      Some years ago a coworker invited me to her wedding, and I didn’t feel that she and I had been close at all. I politely declined.

    12. Quiet Liberal*

      I don’t understand it either. At my old dysfunctional job, my son and his fiance invited my grandboss’s sister (who didn’t work there, she is just a friend of the family) to their wedding. When grand boss found out, he was visibly hurt at work. I’m a “fixer” by nature and hurriedly had my son send an invite to grand boss and his wife. Because the dinner was $30/plate, paid for by the kids, I paid them back for my grandboss’s and wife’s dinner. I shouldn’t have done that, because they didn’t show up and the dinner went to waste. I felt like such a chump.

    13. BetsCounts*

      Excellent point. Also, given that wedding planning is typically AT LEAST a 12 month process, you may not even be working at the same place when it comes time to send out the invitations! Agree that Allison’s breezy ‘gosh we’re not even going to be able to invite all our family members’ is the best way to go.

      1. Alice's Rabbit*

        Agreed. Even if the wedding ends up huge by some standards, there’s nothing wrong with telling people (especially coworkers or random acquaintances who ask how wedding planning is going) that you’re keeping it small. Because you do have to set a limit somewhere, which makes the guest list smaller than it could be.
        And saying things like “we’re trying to keep it small, just close friends and family” will soothe a lot of ruffled feathers.

    14. SusanIvanova*

      I had a very new co-worker invite all of us on the team to her reception, which happened a few weeks after the wedding – she’d gotten married just before we hired her.

      She told us the dress code was garden party so we turned up in linen suits and summer dresses. I don’t know what she told her family, but they showed up in their sharpest rodeo gear – fringed shirts, big belts, new jeans. I’m not mocking that – I actually owned a satin fringed shirt at the time!

      It was as cringey as you could imagine. We suspected she did it on purpose to rub her new high-paying job in her rural family’s face. She made a bad impression with us and, sad to say, future events solidified it.

  3. anon for this*

    You might not be able to invite 160 people considering you know the plague going on currently?

    1. ForReal*

      In some major cities weddings are planned at least a year in advance, possibly more, and things book out that early. It isn’t unreasonable to assume things will be normal again someday.

      1. Caterpie*

        Things do book this far in advance, and a good number of brides and vendors in my wedding planning group (mine was 2020 but was postponed and then cancelled) are working to put extra clauses in their late 2021 or 2022 weddings that would allow for easier cancellation or postponement if the pandemic is still going on (or God forbid another similar situation occurs).

        1. The Rural Juror*

          Several couples I’m close to got married at City Hall this summer (pretty soon after they became engaged), but want to do their ceremonies and all that late this year or in 2022. All of them with contingency plans!

          1. MCMonkeybean*

            Yeah that’s what my sister did; it’s a weird spot to be in when quarantine means you can’t hold the big happy party but also a global pandemic makes the need for a marriage license feel more urgent in case of medical emergencies etc.

      2. GS*

        A lot of folks are expecting the few public venues that have financially survived covid to be very, very booked for a very long time once it subsides, as everyone catches up on all their weddings/family reunions/etc.

      3. PT*

        I booked my wedding venue a year in advance and had a tough time booking subsequent vendors because “less than a year is much too short notice, most brides are booking cake/dress/photography/etc 18 months out or more.”

        It got to the point that I was calling around and saying, this is my timeline, does that work for you? And if they started lecturing me about how I was too incompetent to plan a wedding I’d say, “Well it sounds like this isn’t going to work out, thank you for your help,” and end it.

      4. MCMonkeybean*

        I would expect that people may need to book even further in advance than usual right now–the number of people all fighting for the same spots must be significantly higher since so many weddings had to get pushed back, plus I imagine a fair amount of venues have gone out of business (I know the place my sister had planned to use did).

      5. Mid*

        Yup. In my city, wedding venues are booked at least a year out, often longer (3+ years) for higher demand venues in high demand seasons (like a chalet in the mountains during ski season, for example.)

    2. Self Employed*

      If the wedding were imminent, that’s certainly true. However, weddings are usually planned a year or so ahead even in non-pandemic times, and it’s not that unreasonable to assume we’ll be out of the pandemic by then.

    3. Mellow Yellow*

      My friends are planning their wedding right now for May 2022! They had to put down the deposit and choose the room (so they had to know the approximate size of the guest list) back in October.

    4. EvilQueenRegina*

      To be fair, OP didn’t mention the date of the wedding, for all we know it could be in the second half of next year or something.

      1. UKDancer*

        Yes my cousin is planning his wedding for 2022 so I had assumed the OP was thinking in a similar vein. Apparently dates then are already starting to book up. I would imagine by then things should be more normal and hopefully we won’t have a pandemic.

      2. Littorally*

        Right, and particularly right now I would imagine that bookings for late 2021 or early-mid 2022 are extremely competitive. There are a lot of postponed events!

    5. Myrin*

      The OP makes no mention of a timeline whatsoever.
      But also, the last time this topic came up here, it quickly devolved into a moderator’s nightmare and I can imagine Alison doesn’t want a repeat of that, so let’s not speculate unfavourably and unnecessarily.

    6. Batgirl*

      Even people who have cancelled their weddingsfor the foreseeable are still getting “how would this wedding of yours theoretically go?” conversations with colleagues. At least, my co-workers are.

    7. Pretzelgirl*

      Can we not with this? She didn’t come to ask about when her wedding would take place. For all we know its 2-3 years from now.

    8. Wow*

      Condescending much? Also, you are aware that the plague and COVID-19 are two different things, right? Just clarifying since you seem to think weddings can’t possibly be planned for the future.

    9. justgettingby*

      Hi! OP here– My guests’ safety is my first priority and I will not have a big wedding while COVID restrictions are still in place. Like some other people have commented, I am trying to do some planning in advance because venues book quickly and my vendors need an idea of guest count to ensure accurate quotes.

    10. The Other Dawn*

      1. OP doesn’t mention when the wedding will be. Weddings are generally planned well in advance so I highly doubt this is an early 2021 wedding.
      2. Do we really need to keep seeing comments like this? It’s getting really tiresome.
      3. And do we really need to keep calling it “the plague”? The plague is not the same as COVID.

      1. pancakes*

        I don’t see any reason to believe people who refer to it as the plague to add a bit of levity to conversation are unaware of the differences between covid and the actual plague. Have you not noticed that “the plague” is used as a tag on covid posts on this site? There’s a list of tags at the bottom of the page.

          1. pancakes*

            The idea that it signifies confusion rather than a sense of humor that differs from your own is a bit of a reach.

  4. ForReal*

    #2 – It’s fine not to invite your co-workers, but I’d be careful with the phrasing if there’s any chance they’ll see photos from your wedding. I wouldn’t ever expect an invite anyway, but if someone said “small” I wouldn’t expect over a hundred people. I’d come up with an excuse that fits the optics, if you’re worried they’d be offended.

    1. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

      Exactly. And also remember that if you use this phrasing, you’ve definitely got to avoid inviting even one coworker. “I heard Jane from accounting was there!”

      1. Forrest*

        Surely at some point you’ve got to assume your colleagues are grown-ups? I mean, yes, wedding lists are fraught and sometimes people’s feelings are hurt (on both sides!) but anyone who litigates the invitation list like it’s supposed to be based on objective criteria really needs to get over it.

        1. UKDancer*

          Err yes. We’re not in junior school where you have to invite the whole class to your birthday party.

          It’s fairly normal for people at work to be closer to some colleagues than others. In the before times one of my colleagues got married and she invited me and 2 other team members she was close to. Another colleague got married and he invited his best work friend (in a different team) but nobody from our team.

          I mean I wouldn’t do something like invite everyone except one person because that might be a bit harsh but if you’re in a large company and you invite a couple of people because you’re closer to them, I think that’s normal. My company has several hundred employees I think you can’t sensibly expect everyone to be invited.

          1. doreen*

            There’s absolutely nothing wrong with inviting a couple of people because you’re closer to them. But there’s a big difference between telling people my 200+ person wedding was a small wedding and telling them that I’m only inviting family and close friends. The second is true almost by definition ( the people you invited are closer to you than the people you didn’t invite) and people have feelings when people lie to them . Not just hurt feelings over not being invited – there’s also “If she lied about something this minor , what else will she lie about” or ” What does she think of be, that she feels she has to lie to me?”

            1. GothicBee*

              If you’ve got 100+ people, I’d probably lean towards saying something like “we have a hard limit on the guest list” instead of saying “we’re keeping it small” because no matter how many people you invite, you can only invite as many as your budget allows. But the only time you’d need an excuse like that is if someone directly asked if they were getting an invite, which is kind of rude in the first place and I imagine most people won’t do that.

        2. Brad Fitt*

          Wow this is such a weirdly dismissive take! The advice is “don’t tell really obvious lies” and I don’t see how the hypothetical person asking about the obvious lie is the one who’s being childish?

          I mean if someone said they weren’t inviting coworkers to an event and I respond “Oh I thought Sheila was invited,” that’s not me trying to litigate an invite, that’s genuine confusion. I’ve never known someone who lied brazenly about inconsequential things that wasn’t also a drama vortex and absolute timesuck. (Avoid.)

          1. Spencer Hastings*

            Personally, I think I would take it as the soft no it is and drop it at that point.

          2. EPLawyer*

            Saying “Oh we are keeping it small” is polite for “You are not going to be invited.” it is not an commitment to any number or even size. If someone inquires after that and tries to challenge the definition of small, then the person challenging is committing the faux pas, not the person who was trying to be polite.

            If someone challenges my polite turndown, I am going to be so happy they are NOT on the invite list.

          3. EventPlannerGal*

            Even if it’s an obvious lie, the takeaway is that you are not invited. It doesn’t really matter whether they’re giving you an accurate explanation of why, the result is still the same. Continuing to push once you’ve received the soft no is pretty tacky – if anything I would consider the person going “oh, you said you weren’t inviting coworkers but what about Sheila??” to be the one instigating drama.

          4. Oryx*

            It’s rude to say “You’re not invited” so we as a society have developed soft and coded language to get the point across without bluntly telling a person they aren’t invited.

            Also, while it might be semantics, if you are my colleague and I am inviting you to my intimate wedding, I don’t consider you a co-worker; you are a friend. In my mind, I separate the two. I have friends I hang out with and see outside of the office (I mean, not now obviously. But we manage virtually). While, sure, they are coworkers of mine I view them as friends and we happen to work at the same office. I don’t put them in the same category as that random person in another department I maybe talk to three times a year for a project.

          5. Heather*

            In that exchange I’m pretty sure most people would think of the person who goes “Oh, I thought Sheila was invited (so why can’t I come?)” as the “drama vortex”…

      2. Cat Tree*

        The vast majority of people understand soft no’s and will move on with their lives. If someone is petty enough to try to rules-lawyer into an invitation, or get upset about it after the fact, they are the one making things weird, not the newlywed. We don’t need to bend over backwards and drastically shift guests lists or lie to cover up a perfectly normal wedding just to avoid one awkward conversation with a person who refuses to accept a polite no.

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

      I really don’t think OP needs to worry about it this much! It’s quite likely that the coworkers are asking about the wedding because it’s exciting, because they’re happy for OP, because it’s polite to acknowledge big stuff going on your coworkers lives and because weddings are a much nicer topic of conversation than our era of general crappiness. It doesn’t necessarily mean they’re fishing for an invitation!

      If anyone does ask directly about an invitation, I’d go with a mildly surprised “Oh, we’re just keeping it to family and friends because of the numbers, sorry!” and leave it at that.

      Don’t feel the need to play down your happiness or worry about what photos they’ll see, OP. It’s a happy moment, enjoy it!

      1. UKDancer*

        Definitely. Life can be a bit depressing at the moment. I’m not particularly interested in weddings, babies or cats but quite frankly when my colleague talks about her wedding next year and shares dress patterns it’s an amusing diversion, as it is when my other colleague shares pictures of her cats wearing hats.

        We’re stuck in lockdown again and there’s not much to look forward to at the moment and not a lot of fun diversions going on. Something nice and happy and cheerful like wedding plans makes a wonderful change from the depressing weather outside and the depressing news on TV. So I am more interested in things like wedding plans and animal photos because they’re a lot more fun than thinking about the pandemic.

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

          Heaven forbid if I had a coworker with a cat…
          …and she photographed her cat, wearing many hats.
          My work would be abandoned, I’d be fired for a fact!
          And all due to that cheeky little cat in a hat.

          Sorry, I’m in lockdown. I’ll see myself out. Or back in. Whatever.

          1. kittymommy*

            This may be my favorite post of all time!

            And definitely not because it’s 100% relatable. ;)

      2. Guacamole Bob*

        Yes, this. Plus, “small” means such different things to different people – and a lot can depend on your family size and structure. My wife and I were lucky that our families aren’t huge and we didn’t have to stress about it, but I have a friend who has 75 first cousins before you even start counting the cousins’ spouses and kids, and all the aunts and uncles, and everyone else. People can have all sorts of complicated family situations, friend groups, close family friends, etc. that make it hard to draw lines around their guest lists.

        Reasonable people will take the hint and understand – wedding guest lists are fraught and not being invited doesn’t mean your coworker hates you, it just means that they aren’t inviting coworkers.

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

          Yes, the “reasonable people” part here is really worth reminding yourself of too! The vast majority are, actually, very reasonable and understanding about weddings.

          I can relate to having an almost obsessively irrational worry in the lead up to my own wedding about what unreasonable reactions and feelings I would need to deal with from others… it occupied an annoying amount of my headspace. Mind you, we eloped and we didn’t invite or tell anyone (not even the closest of close family) until after we’d done the deed, so there is that.
          But OP if you’re reading, all that worrying about what others will think is just wasted energy. People who Have Feelings about *your wedding* are going to have them regardless of whatever reason you give them. You can’t predict or control it, there’s no point trying. If a lack of invitation makes for an awkward moment that’s ok – it’s your coworker’s presumptuousness making it awkward, not your lack of watertight explanation. So screw worrying about it and focus on having fun getting married!

          1. justgettingby*

            OP here– Thank you so much for your kind words! Planning a wedding is much more stressful than I imagined. I never expected so many other people to have an opinion about our wedding! You are right it is OUR day and if other people assume they have a say, that is their faux paus. I just hate not being able to include everyone because both my fiance and I are the type to put others first.

          2. Lizzo*

            +100 to this! OP: your wedding, your choices…not to mention *your* budget! Anyone who has an issue with this or is trying to angle for an invite has issues that have nothing to do with you and everything to do with them. They may have expectations about weddings that don’t align with yours, and that’s just fine, but they can apply those expectations to a wedding they choose to host.

            If you have a colleague who you consider a friend–someone you engage with outside of work, and who you expect to be in touch with long after you’ve ceased to work together–invite them if you want to. But please don’t be persuaded to include anyone you genuinely don’t want to have there. The reasonable colleagues will be happy for you regardless of their invitation status.

        2. Jackalope*

          Yeah, I think my side of the family, just immediate family and aunts/uncles/cousins, worked out to be about 60 people. 20 close friends for the two of us, including their spouses and children, was about 50 more. We had a few more people than that, but especially with partners and children it can add up fast.

        3. Joielle*

          Yeah, we had what I considered a “small” wedding of about 100 people. Of course many people have objectively much smaller weddings than that, but compared to our total number of family and friends, the guest list was VERY limited.

          If someone tells you they’re having a small wedding, it’s a polite way of saying you’re not invited. It’s not an opening to quiz them on how big the wedding actually is and whether anyone you know will be there.

      3. avocadotacos*

        Yup. Came here to say this. It’s nice to have something exciting to talk about, and if you read through the archives of ask a manager, a lot of people hate wedding talk at work, so they may be initiating it as a way to signal that it’s a conversation topic they are interested in. When “how are you” becomes such a fraught question, it stands to reason that people are falling back on something in your life they know is happy and interesting.

      4. ForReal*

        I wasn’t saying OP should downplay their happiness or worry about the photos, and I doubt the coworkers are fishing for an invitation anyway. But if you say “Oh we’re keeping things small” and they see pictures of a large wedding, they’re more likely to have thoughts/feelings about it. It’s not necessary, but even if OP doesn’t need to worry about upset coworkers, it’ll just be smoother if the excuse actually seems legitimate.

    3. Washi*

      I think it was Miss Manners who said something like any wedding to which the person you are speaking with was not invited can be called a small wedding.

      OP, this is why Alison’s advice is great. Any time you mention the numbers, no matter what they are, someone will question you on the appropriate size adjective! (I had about half your number, which people variously told me I should not call small or should not call large.)

      1. Elizabeth Proctor*

        Yes! I was going to comment that too. I thought it might have been Emily Post, but I can’t find the quote.

    4. justgettingby*

      OP here– Thanks for this comment! I agree trying to find an excuse is a bit tricky. I will be inviting one former co-worker, but he was my roommate for a while before we ever worked together and has since left the company. I do not think anyone would take offense to him being invited and not them. It’s just trying to figure out how to tell them they won’t be invited!

      1. Cascadia*

        Don’t tell them anything unless they ask! You don’t want to pre-emptively tell people they are not invited to an event. Also, try to stop talking about your wedding at work. Don’t bring it up on your own, and if people ask about it, just say “nothing new to report” and change the subject. If you stop talking about it, hopefully people will take the hint. If they keep bringing it up and keep implying, then you drop the line of “oh yes, it’s been hard because we have a limit on the guest list but I think we’re figuring it out.” and then go from there…

        1. Lizzo*

          Yes, this is a great recommendation about how to handle this!

          I recall a difficult conversation with a friend and former college roommate who got married a couple years before I did. I was in her bridal party as one of eight (!!!) bridesmaids. When it came time for my wedding, I only had three: a different roommate from college, another close college friend, and my sister. The friend who wasn’t asked was disappointed (I may not have been super graceful about saying we were keeping it small, though I definitely wasn’t mean about it), and it may have been problematic for our friendship in the short term, but in the long term it’s been fine.

          Wedding = one day.
          Marriage = many, many days where those around you can be supportive and celebratory.

      2. Heather*

        Honestly, don’t tell anyone they’re not invited! That can only be awkward. People are probably just taking an interest and not really angling for an invitation.

    5. Green Goose*

      Good point. I got married five years ago and was on a team of ten people, and I was super close with three of them, liked five of the others, and did not like my boss at all. He was mean and belittling, and there was no way that I wanted him at my wedding but I couldn’t think of a way that I could invite everyone else and not him without fallout. And then I started trying to think if I only invited some of them and not others, and in the end it seemed like too much potential for drama and I went with “I’m not inviting anyone I currently work with”.

      I’m still a little sad I didn’t invite the three that I was the closest with, but I just didn’t know how things would play out at work.

    6. Alice's Rabbit*

      You could always say “We’re trying to keep it small, which can really be a struggle winnowing down the lists from both families.” Then your backside is covered. Because everyone understands that tension which can arise from trying to balance the wants of new in-laws vs what the couple wants and can afford. And sometimes, it’s worth inviting your grandmother-in-law’s sewing circle if it keeps your new relations happy, even if that means you have to cut other acquaintances (like coworkers you don’t socialize with) from the list.

  5. Self Employed*

    Every time I see a letter about “how to talk to people at work about your pronouns” I am reminded of this season’s episode of Star Trek: Discovery where Adira Tal, a non-binary crew member, corrects Lt. Commander Stamets. He had complimented Adira, using female pronouns, who simply responded that they prefer “they/them”. He just nodded and thanked Adira for letting him know.

    1. Brad Fitt*

      Yeah, this is the way to go. All the decent people will just make a mental note and move forward.

      1. Dahlia*

        I mean, sure, but you don’t necessarily know if someone is going to be a decent person or not when you’re debating whether to correct them. And plenty of people who seem “decent” still throw fits about they/them pronouns. I’ve even seen it in the comments here.

        So let’s not be harsh on people who struggle with that mental struggle, or act like there isn’t a good deal of risk involved.

      1. The Rural Juror*

        That’s one of the reasons I’ve liked watching the show “Billions” on Showtime. It’s about a bunch of machismo dudes working on Wall Street, but they still have the decency to say the correct pronouns for a coworker because their boss leads them to do so. Not that that boss is a good person…but at least they’re putting it out there that it’s totally uneventful and normal to do the right thing.

    2. mary s*

      Yes, just let people know, and I would also assume most people are not reading down to your email signature, especially if you are working with them all the time and exchange a lot of emails. I just realized a few weeks ago that a coworker uses a different pronoun, and I only know it because we happened to be chatting about their hobby outside of work and they shared a link to a hobby-related website that mentioned different pronouns for them than everyone uses at work. I felt terrible I’d been saying the wrong thing, but I truly had no way of knowing!

      1. Joan Rivers*

        If we interact and you tell me, I’ll be glad to try to remember whatever you like, whether it’s your pronoun or calling you “Ms.” or “Mrs.”
        But I don’t assume everyone is fascinated w/my personal preferences and try not to take things personally if I don’t know they’re meant that way.

      2. Trillian*

        I’d be inclined to ask the person themselves, rather than assuming that if they’re out in the hobby, they want to be out at work. It may be they’ve chosen to fly beneath the radar, perhaps until they’ve achieved some level of status or security.

        1. mary s*

          Oh definitely – I have not used anything specific at work yet until I talk to my friend. (We were both out of the office for holidays).

  6. Zoe*

    Would love to know why Nate thinks he should get it and not Sophie. They were told the same thing but there’s only one position, right? Ergo, they have to interview. By being a d*ck he’s already got one strike against him, maybe two.

    1. Bagpuss*

      Maybe he thought that as they already worked there the bosses would make a decision based on their knowledge of his and Sophie’s work, rather than by way of a formal interview?

      Although it does seem odd as I would have thought that for an internal candidate an interview would be an opportunity to make sure that all your skills and achievements were being taken into account, and so forth.

      However, if Nate’s position is that he doesn’t want to interview than in some respects it makes life simpler – interview Sophie and any external candidates, Nate’s taken himself out of the running.

      1. doreen*

        I think that all the time- people who have known me and my work for twenty years shouldn’t need to interview me for an hour or so to make a choice between the other candidates they have also known for twenty years. ( only internal candidates). But as much as I think it’s a waste of time , I wouldn’t throw a tantrum or refuse to interview.

        1. Washi*

          When I’ve gotten internal promotions, the questions have been less of the “tell me about your background” and more about my vision for the role, my career aspirations, how would I approach certain challenges, etc. Stuff that probably wouldn’t come up in your day-to-day work but is relevant to assessing fit. Plus a promotion often means working with people who don’t know your work or you as well, and it’s their chance to have a say.

          So I don’t mind the internal interviews, what I really wish I never had to do is an internal cover letter, those I find awkward and not that helpful if I’m going to at least get a courtesy interview regardless!

          1. Weekend Please*

            Yes. If the interview is geared towards the specifics of the job and how it is different than the current job, it can be useful. If it is a promotion to a job very similar to the current job then it is less helpful.

            1. BekaAnne*

              #OP1 here.

              It’s moving from a client facing role into a management role, so there are some big differences. @Washi is right, it’s very much looking at what they would contribute to management, what their vision of the role is, how they are going to motivate people, etc. It’s different than the day-to-day job that they do.

          2. Joielle*

            Yep, this is exactly it. Internal interviews aren’t about getting to know the candidate as a person, but about how the candidate would fit into the new role, with different responsibilities/challenges/politics. Important info.

          1. Joan Rivers*

            If the Receptionist interviews to be Exec. Asst. you don’t see a need for that?
            Exec. Asst. to Manager?

        2. Cat Tree*

          I work on tons of projects throughout my work network, and my boss knows about them but neither of us have the time for me to give every detail. Of course I highlight my accomplishments during performance reviews, but the interview is a chance for me to expand further and highlight the parts that are relevant to the position I’m interviewing for. And since we use behavioral interview questions, I can give more background and context to fit the question, so not just the outcome but the initial problem and my approach to resolving it.

          1. Guacamole Bob*

            Yes, being able to draw lines for people between the project you’ve worked on and the new position is very helpful, and hearing how you’ve thought about it can be helpful for interviewers because they might be coming at the position or your experience from a different angle. (“You know, you’re right. I think of the work you’ve done with the llama contract as data analysis experience, but I hadn’t thought about the amount of project management involved, too, and how that would be good experience for this new role.”)

            I’ve found that the opportunity to spell out how experience from prior jobs might be related to the new role is also helpful. I have coworkers who have no idea what I did for my first ten years out of college, and I’ve been able to use internal interviews to highlight the relevant parts of that.

        3. Analytical Tree Hugger*

          I disagree, internal interviews are very useful from the *candidate* side, assuming it’s not something like “Otter Cuddler” to “Senior Otter Cuddler.”

          An interview is a conversation that I, as a candidate, can learn more about the vision/plan for the position, what the day-to-day is like (even if I had observed the previous person, there’s more to learn and they may change some things), and how it differs from my current role. Plus, I’d want to discuss changes to my compensation package.

          So there are many reasons I would want to interview for an internal role as a candidate.

        4. starsaphire*

          I was asked to interview for an open position that was the identical job I’d been doing as a contractor for years.

          What I *thought* was: Wow, this is kind of a waste of time.

          What I *said* was: “Great! Looking forward to it.”

          What I *did* was smile, look enthusiastic, and wear a blazer that day.

          So yeah, I’m right there with you. It’s a world of difference between thinking it’s stupid and letting anyone KNOW you think it’s stupid. ;)

      2. Guacamole Bob*

        Yes and no. If the promotion is just the same role but more so – somewhat bigger projects of the same kind or what have you – then just knowing the person’s work may well be enough. But if the role would be a step up or a change in responsibilities, it can really help to be able to talk to the person about their career goals, how they think they’d handle some of the challenges of the new role, what they think the person in the new role should prioritize, etc.

        Especially if it’s a step up to management or something with more responsibility for big-picture strategy or goal-setting and such than the person has had before, it can really help to talk about that in an interview.

        1. Guacamole Bob*

          This landed in a weird spot in the thread, sorry. But I agree with Washi above about the usefulness of internal interviews, at least sometimes.

    2. Shrek is an ogre*

      I wonder if it’s his ego – he might be an insecure dude who’s scared to be the last pick and is instead trying to circumvent the process. He might not even be doing it on purpose/ it might now be malicious… sometimes people do stupid things when they’re scared or trying to protect their pride. Of course that’s NOT someone I’d want to see in a management position, being able to (theoretically) empathize with why someone is the way they is might explain BUT doesn’t excuse their bad behaviour.

      1. BekaAnne*

        It’s a good point.

        It’s well known in the business that Sophie has achieved a lot this year, so maybe he’s feeling vulnerable. Good thought Shrek.

  7. Baker's dozen*

    I’m also non-binary and, in the early days, found it awkward correcting people at work. Practicing your correction phrases out loud by yourself and with friends until they come out easier should help.

    I also thoroughly recommend recruiting supportive colleagues to do the correcting on your behalf. It’s less of a burden on you, and gives the possibility for people to get their “oops I messed up” embarrassment out of the way out of your presence.

    1. warmeverythingbagel*

      I was going to add the second part of this too! My sibling is non-binary and they were pleasantly surprised when their new coworkers asked if they could help share their pronouns with people. People also may be more likely to misgender you when you aren’t in the room, since they’re referring to you in the third-person, and not directly (“Oh, what’s his favorite color?” vs “Oh, what’s your favorite color?”). Recruiting coworkers/acquaintances/people you trust can be really beneficial in shutting that down and like Baker’s Dozen said, saves everyone some awkwardness. Just be explicit that you want their assistance so they don’t feeling like they’re outing you!

    2. Snarl Trolley*

      (I don’t want to derail, so Alison, please feel free to remove this; there’s just not many places to get weigh-ins on this particular niche experience!) but – Baker’s Dozen, I came out several months ago as non-binary to my colleagues and management, which happen to be 98% cis women. Despite them all being warm, progressive-minded people who have all expressed their support for and acceptance of my being non-binary, it’s taking…….quite a while for them to remember my pronouns and to not use feminine-gendered language when addressing me or referencing me. As in, I came out in September of 2020 and there’s still multiple instances of misgendering a week from someone or another on our staff. Higher management say they want to help but…they often don’t actually catch the misgendering in the moment, and I have to step in, yet again, with another correction.

      tldr – Did you have any similar experiences when you came out, ie, well-meaning people who despite all the good intentions, still keep messing up, and do you have any advice on handling that if so?

    1. Putting the "pro" in "procrastinate"*

      When I saw “Sterling,” I hoped it would be an Archer reference. But it turns out to be a reference to something I don’t know (which is not unusual as I don’t watch all that much TV). Oh well! If I ever have a reason to write into AAM, though…

      1. kittymommy*

        It’s Leverage. And a really good show,( although best one ever needs to go to Homicide: Life on the Street). :-)

    2. Stabbity Tuesday*

      Double points for being in character for all of them lol. Can’t wait for the new reboot premiere date to drop, p sure the fantasy of bad guys getting their comeuppance has been the only thing getting me through all the *gestures at general state of the world rn*

    3. AngelicGamer, the Visually Impared Peep*

      I mostly want to know who OP1 identifies as. :D Another Leverage fan here who is rewatching and cannot wait for the reboot / continuation. I’m never sure how to word it as 4/5 of the cast is coming back (we get a new Nate in the form of Noah Wylie).

      1. BekaAnne*

        Probably Hardison to be honest. :)
        Try my best, sometimes go a little overboard, can adapt to situations but it’s not fully natural, techie, and can call BS on techies in my business trying to sell me on something impossible. :)
        And I put together awesome briefing memos/presentations.

  8. SuperScout*

    #1: Wait… This man thinks the job should be given to him without a new interview and the woman is willing to go in for the interview with no issue/resistance. (I get that someone else seemed to promise them something in the past, but did that person have that kind of unilateral authority?) I’m a bit confused. Is he saying this to the people doing the hiring? Or just to you? And when you say “should I say something” who are you asking about?

    I would have absolutely no patience for the man’s entitlement, bravado, and cavalier attitude, especially right now. He needs to go through the process that everyone else has to go through or sit down. It’s really up to him to tell the hiring manager or the person in HR that he’s working with if he’s not going to interview or not. But if this is a thing that’s known by others, definitely say something! You say he’s be on your team so talk to whomever you need to about how that entitlement could be disruptive to a team atmosphere.

    If he does decide to interview, see if you can turn that scenario into an interview question (“You originally shared you felt you should be offered the role and didn’t want to interview for this position, but here we are now. Tell us a little more about that.” Leave it open ended and see if he speaks to how he has learned how to handle disappointment in a professional environment, etc.

    1. Mockingjay*

      The interview question is a great idea.

      If I was told that I was being promoted and then informed that senior management wanted to talk to me one more time, I’d be fine with it. I support leadership that wants to make certain that someone is the right choice for the job, especially a manager’s role. (This site exists because most companies don’t do this!)

      Nate should take the interview as an opportunity to discuss the role in-depth and figure out what’s changed in the last year. Maybe the reporting structure above him has changed; there might be new limits on the role’s authority, etc. Nate should explore these things; he may conclude that he doesn’t want the job in its present form.

    2. Colette*

      Eh. The answer is likely to be “you said I had to interview” – I don’t think you’re going to get any useful answer out of that question.

      1. Some internet rando*

        That is a useful answer. Tells us that he should not be hired. I would write down “does not play well with others.”

        1. Roscoe*

          I don’t think it means he doesn’t play well with others. Its about not being able to be honest. The honest answer is “I was told the job was mine, then you decided to break your promise, so yes I was upset. But here we are”. But of course, honesty in interviewing is frowned upon

          1. BekaAnne*

            @Roscoe: #OP1 here.

            Is there a time limit on it though? It’s been a full year since that promise was made, there’s been a lot of churn in the business. A lot of differences between now and then. What’s the statute of limitations on a promise for a specific role?

            1. Roscoe*

              I mean, a year, when promised a promotion, IMO isn’t really that long . Especially if it was “when the role opens up”. To me that isn’t about a timeline. Its saying “this may be 6 months or 2 years, but its yours”.

              I think you are giving your boss too much of a pass here

              1. BekaAnne*

                Maybe… I definitely agree that Sterling probably holds most of the blame here for setting an unrealistic expectation. Maybe, because I know how Sterling operates, I put less weight on his words than Nate did. It’s a definite possibility.

                I just consider a year a long time. Maybe I’m wrong in that. Especially when most of the roles become vacant due to “dead men’s shoes” – someone has to leave a role for it to be filled. It’s a level of management that doesn’t come open very often through growth.

                1. Yorick*

                  I think a year is not long at all, especially when someone has to leave for a role to be open. He was told he’d get the next promotion, and he knew he’d have to wait for someone to leave, so he was probably happy it already happened and then disappointed that it wasn’t automatically his like he was told.

                  Sure, the fact that he’s throwing a fit about it is a red flag. But the fact that he expected it isn’t.

              2. MCMonkeybean*

                I agree, I was prepared from the headline to think this guy was ridiculous but unless there is a lot missing about his tone it doesn’t seem like a tantrum to me. It seems to me that after being told he would get the job and then not being given it, he’s likely got one foot out the door. If his position is basically “they told me I would get the job and now they are going back on their word so either they need to give it to me like they said or I’m going to be looking elsewhere,” then I think it would be a waste of everyone’s time for him to go through the interview process.

          2. Des*

            He isn’t saying he is upset-but-here-we-are though, he’s saying he will withdraw his candidacy if he has to interview.
            To which I say: let him.

            1. Eh from Canada*

              Exactly. It would be a different story if he wasn’t trying to hold the hiring manager hostage with his demands.

          3. I'm just here for the cats*

            I think it kinda depends on how long the reaction is. I can understand being upset when first learning that he would have to interview again and saying something in the moment. But I inferred that Nate is continually saying things and making a bigger stink.

          1. HD*

            I think it does get at what you want to know. You want to understand his attitude toward the process and how he sees himself in relation to the other candidates for the position. I think it’s a very direct and straightforward question and will get the interviewer a lot of information no matter what he actually says.

              1. Roscoe*

                No. The question, as worded, doesn’t get to any of that. Basically, this is (as worded) to see how he reacts, and nothing more. If you want to ask “how do you see yourself in relation to Sophie”, then ask that question. Or even “why do you think you are the best person for this role, knowing who we are interviewing”. But “you didn’t want to interview, tell me more” doesn’t actually ASK for any useful information

                1. HD*

                  I don’t really have a problem with asking that question to see how he reacts. I certainly understand that other people do.

              2. HD*

                If you come out and ask him, “You didn’t think you should have had to interview for this position. Tell us more about that” you’re directly asking him to explain himself and account for his thought process. Whatever he says you’re going to get useful information.

  9. Ponytail*

    Reading Ask a Manager for the last few years has been a real eye-opener but today’s letter 4 has amazed me with how different the job hunting process in the US is, compared to the UK. I cannot imagine getting a job offer if I hadn’t given my current employer’s details as a reference! There are rare occasions where I think a candidate could get away with it, and the standard, in my experience, has been that you can ask recruiters not to contact until after the interview (by ticking a box, not a special request).
    I have even had a ridiculous situation where I’d been offered the job, had paperwork going through, been given a starting date etc, and suddenly HR contacted me and said I needed to give reference details for one of my current employers (I had two part-time jobs), even though they’d received good references from the other current employer. I’m not joking, they wanted a reference from a baker (who laughed his arse off at the request but did it) to gauge my suitability for a professional librarian post, when they’d already received two references from my other employers, both library directors!
    Not giving your current/last employer as a reference would be considered very far from the norm in the UK. (But I still love reading the site!)

    1. embertine*

      I work in construction in the UK and I have never given my current employer as a reference.

    2. Xavier Desmond*

      I’m also from the UK and I’ve always been asked for current or most recent employer as a reference. However, most big companies just have HR write a basic ‘Employee worked at the company from this date’ so it’s not quite the same.

    3. londonedit*

      Yes, but my understanding is that in the US, it’s more common for employers to contact referees much earlier in the process. In my industry at least, when you’re offered a job it’s ‘subject to references’ and then it’s at that point that you provide your reference details (and the understanding is that it’s at that point that you’ll let your current employer know that you’ve got another job). So you wouldn’t give your current employer’s details at the beginning of the process (or if you did, as you say you’d make sure you tick the ‘do not contact until after the interview’ box) and the company wouldn’t contact referees until after they’d extended a job offer. Whereas in the US, I believe an employer would contact someone’s referees before they offer them the job.

      1. Brad Fitt*

        I’m in the US. Contacting references is typically the final step before an employer offers you the job here. Some of them will give you an offer contingent on good references, some don’t check references at all (most low paying jobs). It’s rare to ask for a reference from a current employer, and it’s a big red flag if they do it without a real job offer attached.

      2. Regular Reader*

        In the days in the UK when references were often requested at the interview stage, when job searching, I always ticked the ‘do not contact until after the interview’ box to avoid my referees having to write multiple references for me during my search.

      3. Ray Gillette*

        Yes, I hired recently (small tech company in the US) and I called the references for my finalists. It was an important part of the decision-making process. I didn’t call any current managers or supervisors because I didn’t want to jeopardize the employment of the candidates I didn’t hire.

    4. Bagpuss*

      I’m in the UK and I wouldn’t find it surprising if an application didn’t give their most recent employer as a reference, if they were submitting a CV with named referees at the application stage.

      At the point were we were making a offer subject to reference we might ask and give them the opportunity to say if there was an issue with contacting the employer.

      I wouldn’t say that not giving your current employer would be outside the norm. Maybe it varies a lot by sector?

      It’s been a while since I last applied for a job but I didn’t give my employer at the time as a reference last time I was job hunting. (Partly because my employer at that time was a lunatic and a bully, but none of the places I interviewed queried the fact that I hadn’t provided it)

    5. Batgirl*

      I never give permission to contact my current manager in the UK and it’s never affected my chances. I simply dont provide the info on CV or cover letter. Sometimes forms request their details but you just tick the box saying “do not contact”. One time an agency sought a reference from a current boss. Not only was I hacked off, but they were mortified theyd broken such a convention.

    6. jm*

      i’m from the US and the response was very surprising to me. when i applied for the job i have now, i intentionally used past supervisors because both people above me were the reason i was leaving, and HR made me list someone from my current agency anyway.

    7. Deborah*

      It’s probably because US employers often won’t give a reference, other perhaps to confirm employment dates.

  10. Maggie*

    Since we’re asking tax questions and I’m so brain dead from the pandemic… is the first stimulus money taxable 2020 income?

    1. Lifelong student*

      No- it is an advance refundable credit for the 2020 tax year for federal purposes. I believe most states have also indicated it is non-taxable.

      1. Generic Name*

        Does that mean that if I were originally getting a $500 refund for 2020 and I got $1200 stimulus (numbers are made up because I forgot the stimulus amount) I would owe the government money?

        1. Parenthesis Dude*

          No. The stimulus money is a new tax credit that is effective solely for this year. You get that refund regardless of your withholding status.

          Likewise, you don’t have to repay the money if you received stimulus money due to your 2019 income that you wouldn’t have received based on your 2020 income (i.e you earned $40k in 2019 and $400k in 2020).

        2. TortalHareBrain*

          No, this was considered an additional credit. So if nothing else changed you would still get the $500 refund.

        3. Student*

          No. Your taxes (owed or refunds) will not change due to getting either stimulus check. The only time your tax paperwork is impacted is if you are filing to get the stimulus money in the first place because they didn’t just send you your check. Then, it’s just additional paperwork that you’ll have to file and it’ll either decrease what you owe or increase your refund.

          The Moneyist is a financial advice column that’s done several letters about the stimulus checks – if you browse their archive you may find answers by somebody who’s a little less internet-rando than I.

        4. Massmatt*

          Your understandable confusion is partly over the term “refundable tax credit” which has a specific meaning in the tax code different from normal usage. In normal speech, saying something is “refundable” means you pay something and can get some or part of it back.

          In the tax code, a “refundable credit” is a credit you collect whether or not you owe any tax. This is much better (and until recently, much rarer) than the “nonrefundable credit” which will only be paid up until the tax you owe. So a nonrefundable credit can get your tax bill down to zero, but never put money in your pocket, while a refundable one can.

          TL; DR–The stimulus checks are not taxable, don’t worry about it!

    2. EPLawyer*

      Neither stimulus check is taxable. I checked with the Taxgirl at Forbes (she’s a friend so I can ask tax questions without worrying I sound like an idiot).

  11. Helvetica*

    LW#2 says “My coworkers have made a couple of passing comments about my wedding recently and it has led me to believe they may be expecting an invitation. ” But what does this actually mean? Do they ask about wedding preparations and you take that as an implicit expectation that they should be invited? Unless they’ve said things like “I hope there’s an invitation for me!” I would treat this as the kind of social small-talk people make without any expectations on you. And if you do have co-workers who think passive-aggressive hints about your wedding will entitle them to an invite then you are free to ignore it and cheerfully continue talking about your wedding if they ask.

    1. Hekko*

      Are they asking how much time OP will be spending in the city, perhaps in hopes that they could meet for a lunch? They still work together, but remotely.

    2. Kippy*

      Yeah, if I know someone’s getting married I’ll ask about planning details but I don’t expect an invitation! Wedding planning’s just a benign topic I know the planner will (probably) be happy to talk about.

    3. Washi*

      I agree. And in fact, the more sure I was that I wouldn’t get an invite, the more likely I would be to ask certain questions! Like I wouldn’t ask a medium-close acquaintance what the food will be or how many bridesmaids, because I would worry it might come across as assumptions about my role. But if I ask a coworker about whether she’ll have bridesmaids or whatever, it’s because I’m very confident that I’m not going to be one!

    4. Curly*

      This is a good point. One of my remote team-mates is getting married and has already postponed his wedding once. On our team meetings we ask him about the planning, how it’s going, fittings (he’s having a custom-made kilt from Scotland). But none of us expect to be invited. We’re just interested.

    5. Generic Name*

      Yeah, when one of my coworkers I was friendly but not close with was getting married, I was asking him stuff about his upcoming wedding while we were chatting, and I got the sense that he was worrying I was expecting an invitation. So I made sure to say things that made it clear I was not expecting an invite. People like to talk about weddings, and they may just be making friendly conversation rather than angling for an invite.

      1. CTT*

        I was once talking to a close-casual friend at an event that was taking place at what would be her wedding venue and I was interested in how weddings worked there (it was an art museum) and I made sure to add “I can’t wait to see the pictures!” at some point to really get across that I wasn’t angling for an invite. And I agree that most people just like to talk about it (if only because it’s an easy small talk topic) rather than hoping they’re getting invited.

    6. le teacher*

      I agree. Sometimes brides and grooms get very swept up in wedding planning and might assume that anyone asking friendly questions is angling for an invite, and that is often not the case. I think OP should be careful before assuming people are expecting invitations.

      1. Joan Rivers*

        Yes, driving to another state during or after a Pandemic is not everyone’s dream. People try to act positive but that doesn’t mean they’re dying to attend.

  12. Bookworm*

    LW1: I do think it’s a red flag and perhaps not a sign he’ll take on the larger responsibilities very well. I’ve been in position (not necessarily for an internal promotion, but re-interviewing at the same place for another job, etc.) but it was either made clear to me or it told me that they were going to make me through the process all over again. Wasn’t happy because they were making me redo the process, but also wasn’t going to have a fit over it. If Nate felt he was misled then fine–which means overall this might not be a good fit either party.

  13. Haha Lala*

    LW2- Don’t feel pressured to invite your coworkers, they’re probably just making small talk about something much more pleasant than current events.
    I got married just before COVID hit, and pretty much daily a coworker would ask about how wedding planning was going. For people that did assume they’d be invited, I found it easiest to blame the venue capacity for not being able to invite people. “We’re already at venue capacity with our families and close friends, but we would have loved to have you there!” It might make you feel better to drop that in a conversation now, so you don’t have to worry about their expectations going forward.

    If numbers weren’t an issue, would you want your coworkers there? I had more people decline than expected, so about a month before the wedding we were able to invite a few more people. We picked a few neighbors and newer friends we had gotten closer to while we were planning, and they were all local to the wedding. We talked to them directly, and said that we had space open up and we’d really love for them to celebrate with us if they’d be able to make it, and apologized for the short notice. Some people might get offended by being invited late, but just being honest and thoughtful worked for us.
    But— if you don’t actually want them there, then don’t invite them!

  14. Bob*

    Nate’s entitlement is backfiring.
    If there are two candidates for one job then you need to decide and thats already 50% against him, and if he was promised the job he should approach it diplomatically.
    Chest thumping and entitlement does not work well in non dysfunctional workplaces.

  15. Roscoe*

    I don’t really agree with #1. Look, I get that its not the best look. But when someone is essentially promised something only to have it taken away later, I’m not going to fault them for reacting poorly. That is a sign of bad management. And he isn’t saying he’d quit, but essentially “i was told I had this, now I don’t, and if you are going to make me apply for it, what other promises will you break? And do I want them?”

    Your manager made a mess of this. I’d look at all of his previous work, not this instance of him reacting badly to a broken promise

      1. BekaAnne*


        Kinda – it’s one of those reading between the lines/borderline explicit promises. Not an explicit “The job will be yours” but definitely the expectation being to just get the job in the future.

      2. Yorick*

        Yes, Sterling told both of them the same thing. But did he say “I’m going to mentor both you and Sophie so that one of you will get the next promotion” (this is what most commenters seem to think) or “look, Nate, we decided to go with OP this time, but it was very close, I’m going to mentor you so you’ll be ready for the next promotion that comes up, you won’t even need to interview” (this seems more likely to me)

        1. SimplytheBest*

          It’s not even just between Sophie and Nate anymore. OP says there are external candidates in the mix as well and that she doesn’t think the mentoring that was promised even happened.

          And I hear people’s points about withdrawing his application being a tantrum. But I would think real hard about whether I wanted to take on more responsibility at an organization that doesn’t keep its promises or would I rather stay where I’m at and look for better opportunities at an organization that does.

    1. Alianora*

      I have to agree. Sophie is reacting more professionally but I wouldn’t necessarily hold this against Nate outside of the interview process. Like I don’t think his current job should be at risk over him being disappointed and reacting badly.

  16. Not So NewReader*

    OP #1. I have a bit different take on this, probably not very popular. Nate was led to believe that he was a shoe-in for the next opening. Now he finds out that wasn’t true. Of course he is ticked. How many times does this happen in the work world? All too often. “I promise you X” and then a while later, “I never said that.”

    I think that it’s pretty insulting that the Big Boss can’t remember telling Nate this. The conversation was hugely important to Nate and obviously it was not even worth remembering from the Big Boss’ perspective.

    My punchline is to just leave it alone and let the two of them duke it out. NO one has perfect behavior here.

    The boss needs to learn to be very careful how he says things AND he needs to learn to actually remember what he tells people. (If he often leans on the excuse that he can’t remember then maybe he should not be leading people.)

    To Nate I would say the correct response to anything that sounds like a promise is to tell yourself, “Okay, sounds good, let’s see how this works out.” In other words, absorb the information with HUGE amounts of cautious happiness. Don’t get your hopes up, Nate.

    While I agree that Nate’s reaction sounds very poor, I counter that with, the boss SHOULD have known that people can get upset over broken promises (real or perceived). It was up to the boss to speak clearly, “There are NO promises here.” And the boss should know by now that telling people he forgot Very Important Thing can be received as an insult to the listener. The boss would never accept “I forgot” if Nate was saying it in regard to something he (Nate) forgot.

    I can’t count how many times I have seen this happen in workplaces. And it causes angry people. We are savvy enough now to understand how this works.
    Not your circus/monkeys, OP. However do watch. Because it’s not far-fetched to realize that how Nate gets treated here can telegraph more of what you might see happening in the future at this place. Nate will probably move on, he’s probably burned out at this job and that burnout is spilling all over the place. But I’d have to ask myself what has Nate seen/been though in order to reach this point.
    Both Nate and the boss have to be responsible for their words. I don’t see a happy ending here for Nate.

      1. SomebodyElse*

        Because Nate doesn’t care about Sophie. I wouldn’t if I were Nate. I think it would be a rare person who said… “No, I don’t think you should offer the promotion to me… there are many candidates who should be considered and I’d like you to evaluate me against all of them.”

        This is the real world… if there’s an opportunity for a promotion and there’s a chance that I can get with a shoulder tap vs. an interview, heck ya I’m going for it.

        1. HD*

          Honestly, I would try reversing the situation and see if Sophie would seem sympathetic if she were behaving the way Nate is and Nate were professionally and diplomatically agreeing to interview for the role. I really think the idea of defending her would be laughable and just about everyone would happily say of course Nate must be the better candidate. We all have selfish and entitled feelings sometimes but we’re not equally likely to get sympathy for them.

          1. SomebodyElse*

            I’m trying to understand what you are saying. I don’t think anyone really sees Nate as sympathetic in this situation, look at all the comments here saying he’s an entitled jerk.

            I’m defending anyone who puts themselves first in a situation like this when it comes to jobs/promotions/raises or any other career advancement.

            If Nate were actively sabotaging Sophie, that would be a different situation. There is nothing to indicate this is the case. But advancing himself and speaking up for himself… Absolutely I will defend that as I would if it were Sophie or any other person. I think it’s laughable that anyone wouldn’t do the same. This silly ultra altruistic expectation is just not realistic.

            1. pancakes*

              Eh? The comment from Not So New Reader at the top of this thread is very sympathetic to him. Sympathetic beyond reason, in my view.

              1. SomebodyElse*

                My comment was originally pointed to this question “But what about Sophie? Why should Nate believe he was the shoo in over her?”

                I do see now that the overall thread was from that counterpoint.

              2. Not So NewReader*

                Sorry, apparently that wasn’t really clear. I would say the same for Sophie also. In a nutshell: Everyone deserves to be told the truth and in a clear manner. And everyone deserves a boss who does not forget what they have stated.

                This does not make Nate all good here. I see the boss as having poor behavior also.

            2. pancakes*

              I want to add, I also don’t agree that behaving professionally in these circumstances would require altruism on Sterling’s part. It would / should only require him to have the same basic good judgment and self-control expected of everyone who works in a professional environment. Making his anger known instead is both unprofessional and self-sabotaging.

              1. SomebodyElse*

                He very well may be self sabotaging his chances or he may be the squeaky wheel who is seen as the one who is fighting for the promotion, with Sophie being seen as passive and not overly interested.

                It’s one of those ‘time will tell’ sort of situations.

                1. pancakes*

                  If he was being seen that way, the letter would reflect that. He’s being seen as someone having a tantrum.

            3. HD*

              My comment wasn’t expressed very well, but I was basically asking you specifically if you would have defended Sophie if she were behaving like Nate. I see that you just said you would. I was trying to understand if your response specifically would be different if the genders were reversed. I see that most commenters here are not sympathetic to Nate.

        2. tiny cactus*

          I don’t know, if someone had made a similar promise to me and a colleague, I wouldn’t feel great if I felt I got an unfair advantage over the other person. Particularly if, as in this case, there could be discrimination in play if one candidate is given preferential treatment, since both candidates should be on pretty equal footing. That wouldn’t sit right with me.

      2. Nia*

        He probably doesn’t think she needs to be interviewed either. They’ve both already interviewed for this position and I’d argue that was a waste of time too. If you don’t know which of your internal candidates is the strongest without interviews then something is wrong with your existing evaluation system.

        1. Colette*

          I disagree. Yes, you know who is best at their current job, but this is a different job, with different skills, and you may not know what experience your candidates have that they aren’t currently using. You may also want to talk about what the role will involve and get their thoughts on what they’d tackle first, etc.

      3. Roscoe*

        If he was told he was going to be next, why should he care? Maybe he didn’t care how it happened, but now he feels that a promise was made and broken. If boss made the same promise to both of them, that isn’t a Nate problem, that is a boss problem.

        1. BekaAnne*


          We’re in a small office and it was a secret who was in the running, so obviously everyone knew ;)

      4. Yorick*

        He might believe he was the shoo-in because the boss told him he was, and the boss probably didn’t tell him anything about Sophie during that conversation.

      5. PersephoneUnderground*

        The letter doesn’t seem to address that, and we have no evidence he’d have a problem with competing with just Sophie. Honestly, I think Sophie should have pushed back too! Women are often socialized to be doormats, when she was legitimately wronged by being promised a promotion (either her or Nate) but is going along with a process where now it’s open to external candidates.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      “The last round of interviews were a year ago and one of our C-suite execs (Sterling) sat down with the internal finalists and promised a mentorship if they were unsuccessful. He’d work with them to address any weaknesses that were identified during the interview process. It was implied heavily that due to the mentorship, they’d be seconded into the senior manager role if it became available. ”

      Assuming this is what was said, though, that still doesn’t tell Nate he was a shoo-in, it only says there wouldn’t be an interview. There were still at least two finalists, interview or not. Sterling flubbed the no-interview part but Nate is making an absurdly big deal out of something that wasn’t guaranteed to him whether there was an interview or not.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        Also, from somebody who once had a boss who never, ever, remembered what he told us . . . Nate is far too invested in a “promise” that he probably should have known wouldn’t stick. Yes, it’s annoying that Sterling does this, but if he’s known for it then Nate looks even worse for his inability to deal with it like an adult.

        1. lapgiraffe*

          This. I can understand if things were more formally outlined but it sounds more like a general soft landing of a let down (and frankly some direct mentorship sounds like quite a nice parting gift for a rejection). “But you promised!” belongs in the land of you can have candy if you stay quiet while mommy has her zoom meeting today.

          Also, while it’s unclear from details provided, it seems like Nate is pushing back on people other than Sterling, and it has big vibes of someone berating a customer service rep for a corrosive policy they have no control over. I bet Nate would yell at a waiter because the chef told him to come by when the new restaurant opens and dinner is on the house, only to arrive without giving chef a heads up and expecting the waiter to know this casual arrangement and take it as gospel truth. But you promised!!!

          I get it, if my expectations were dashed I’d be upset too, but I’d also want to absolutely kill it at that interview to prove I’ve earned it. If Nate feels this strongly he should have a conversation with Sterling, but honestly he should have a come to Jesus moment with himself first about understanding that promises are just nice words and not actually binding contracts.

          1. BekaAnne*

            #OP1 here.

            Sterling is Hiring Manager’s boss. So they are at two different levels and Hiring Manager has been left in charge of filling the role. Sterling gets final say/approval, but is removed from the actual hiring process (interviews, etc).

            He hasn’t said anything to Sterling directly, just to Hiring Manager, his future team (if he gets the role) and his own line manager (who reports to Hiring Manager).

          1. Joielle*

            Agreed! “Implied heavily” means nothing. If the boss had actually literally promised the position to Nate, I would understand him being upset now – but it doesn’t sound like that was the case. (And even if that was the case, complaining like a child wouldn’t get him what he wants anyways.)

            MAYBE Nate could have mildly expressed that this process is different from what the boss had outlined to him earlier, but this level of pushback is completely out of line.

    2. Older and bolder*

      I would agree completely if not for Sophie, who was also promised the same thing. If Nate said it should be between the two of them, I’d be in total agreement.

    3. Eh from Canada*

      I’m going to chime in with a different perspective here – what if, after mentoring both of the internal finalists for the past year, management isn’t convinced that either of these people are ready to take on the role at this point in time? Aside from Nate’s attitude problem, there could be other things going on behind the scenes that prompted management to run a competition instead of choosing one of the internal finalists from the last hiring process.

      1. Cat Tree*

        Right. In the US nobody is guaranteed to even stay in a job they’re already doing a year later. So there’s especially no guarantee for a job a year later if they don’t even have an official offer in place. Employers charge their mind for a variety of reasons.

      2. BekaAnne*

        #OP1 here

        I’m not 100% convinced that much, if any, mentoring actually took place for either candidate by Sterling. The business changed and restructured during the year and it’s meant that Sterling is taken up with things other than focusing on people development. :(

        Also, Hiring Manager is someone who reports to Sterling and will be the line manager for whoever is hired. While she’s worked with both of them, it’s not been super close either. There’s another element of hierarchy between Hiring Manager and the candidates as it stands. (We have a lot of levels of management! Definitely not a flat hierachy…)

        But also because of our industry, there’s a lot of making sure that everything is above board, so I think the decision is made to have everyone interview so that it’s all transparent. Also, it’s been 12 months which is a long time to completely change your performance. For example, while Nate has just continued on doing what he was doing, while Sophie kept driving forward and taking on new things.

      3. Bostonian*

        This is where I come down. Even if there was an expectation laid out by Sterling, it’s been a whole year since then. Enough has changed that it makes sense to re-evaluate everything (and everyone)! If Nate can’t understand that, I don’t think he’s ready for the promotion.

    4. Generic Name*

      Wait. The LW used the phrase “implied heavily” and did not mention any promises being made other than mentorship, so I’m not seeing this as a situation of righteous anger over broken promises.

      1. EvilQueenRegina*

        Wondering now how it was actually worded, maybe OP can clarify – is there any way that Nate could have interpreted what Sterling said as a promise when perhaps it wasn’t quite like that?

        1. BekaAnne*

          #OP1 here

          It wasn’t a promise when it was shared with me. It was basically saying that there will be future opportunities and that the goal was to mentor us over the next X months and then when the next vacancy comes along, you’d move into it with no interview.

          It wasn’t a “you’ll definitely get the next promotion” but reading between the lines, the difference was infinitesimal unfortunately. Sterling did say that they’d move into the role, with no interview. But he also said that he was saying the same to the other candidates. So I understood it to be that there would have to be some selection criteria – maybe taking the input at the last interview or conversations with line managers, another conversation even if not a full interview. How else can you make that decision?

          I have to admit, I would have been pissed in that scenario, but I’d probably be more like Sophie – privately annoyed but keep the smile on my face and suck it up.

          1. starsaphire*

            I touched on this in a comment above, but yes, your response is exactly what I did in a similar situation.

            I was a contractor for years. After a few months, I was outright told (not implied, told in so many words) that the very next job opening would be mine. I had worked hard for it, I deserved it, and my boss and grandboss would be batting for me.

            I got interviewed, passed up, interviewed, passed up, laid off, recontracted, interviewed, and passed up again before I got the job that was flat out promised to me.

            I kept the smile pinned firmly on my face and sucked it up. And I finally got the job. Because internal politics five levels over my head were not the fault of my boss and grandboss; they made it clear they wanted me in the job. What good would acting in any other way have done?

            (I’ll tell you what it would have done. Another contractor in the next department threw a massive temper tantrum when no one would tell them exactly when their permanent spot was coming open. They got asked to leave at the end of that week.)

          2. Not So NewReader*

            I agree with your last paragraph. I’d probably suck it up also. But the boss said there would be no interview.

            The boss really set himself up for some messiness here and now things are messy in so many ways.

    5. Massmatt*

      I was actually scrolling down to say something similar. I agree Nate is acting poorly but really dislike the language people are using about him (“tantrum”, and especially “toddler”) while Sterling’s awful behavior is mostly treated as a missing stair.

      It sounds as though Sterling did a terrible job communicating what was going on with the job and what the expectations would be for the next opening, and that he has a habit of making promises etc he “doesn’t remember” later. This is awful behavior, and no doubt Sterling has no trouble “remembering” what is said or promised to clients or people above him. Sterling sucks.

      Nate’s ultimatum seems to be about not interviewing again, not just being offered the job over Sophie or other candidates. He probably figures he’s a known quantity, and that there’s no point going through this process again. I think he’s wrong, especially given he didn’t get the job the 1st time around doesn’t mean he was the 2nd choice then, and the whole point of the “mentorship” (if that ever actually happened) would be to build up skills for the next opening. Why not take the opportunity to say why you are a better candidate now than last time?

      1. GothicBee*

        I’m also wondering if some of the push back from Nate is more because of the fact that not only are he and Sophie interviewing again, but they’re interviewing people outside of him and Sophie. I’d be pretty annoyed if I was effectively told that either myself or my coworker were going to be moved into the next position that opens up and yet the company then decided that we’d be interviewed along with a host of other people too.

        And I agree on the infantilizing language. I feel like it clouds the question because I’m not sure if the LW is being hyperbolic or if he’s *literally* shouting/throwing a fit over this.

        1. BekaAnne*

          #OP1 here

          Hyperbolic – sorry. It is a little bit of throwing a fit, raised voice, throwing up hands, complaining to everyone who will listen but yeah, maybe an overuse of the infantilizing language – common expressions where I’m from to describe this sort of thing.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          I assumed it was more hyperbole than actually tantrums because OP did not mention specific over the top actions. Usually OPs are good about not skipping that detail.

          If I were given the strong (very strong) impression, or worse, promised that I was next in line for an opening then I found out that I had to interview (after being told I did not have to interview) and there were several other applicants. I’d be miffed. If the boss said he forgot saying it to me, I’d feel gaslighted and think about dusting off my resume.
          And apparently big boss did not do much to mentor Nate either.

          OP, the more I think about it, the more I have to say, watch what is happening with Nate and assume at some point you might be treated in a similar manner.

    6. Let's Just Say*

      I agree. I think Nate is reacting poorly, being immature and unprofessional, and it’s not going to end well for him. But I do understand his frustration, and senior leadership should own their responsibility for creating the situation. This is a management failure by Sterling and by anyone in authority who allowed the “promise” to stand, and then gave a pass to Sterling forgetting what he said, to the detriment of internal candidates. Great way to destroy the morale of high-value employees.

    7. PersephoneUnderground*

      Agreed- I don’t like the conclusion that Nate is “unprofessional” for saying he simply doesn’t want the job if he has to interview for it. It’s declining to participate in a bait-and-switch, which is his prerogative. If he’s been loudly moaning about it around the office in unprofessional language but not actually communicating with management about the situation etc. *that* would be unprofessional, but saying “keep your promise or I’m not interested” actually is pretty decent standing up for himself. It’s too bad Sophie didn’t feel she could afford to put her foot down in a similar way (OP says she’s not happy either, but going along). Of course, this hinges on it not being a bluff/threat, but a boundary- that he really doesn’t want to be involved in a process where he’s being jerked around. (And when we’re talking promotions and careers, 1 year is nothing.)

  17. peasblossom*

    For LW3, I also recommend enlisting 1-2 people you work with regularly or who might see your work being reshared to help correct people who are misgendering you. Not only does that help take some of the burden off of you, in my experience it can help spread the information about your pronoun use faster.

  18. HB*

    Here’s my question about Nate/Sophie:

    Being ushered into the job was predicated on the mentorship actually happening. Did it? Has Sterling been meeting with Nate and Sophie regularly, discussing any weaknesses that came up in the interview, or otherwise helping them develop their strengths?

    Because if Sterling is all about the broken promises, THAT would be where the break occurred. If the mentorship never actually materialized, then Nate is actually even more out of line.

    If the mentorship HAS happened, then I would want to know what discussions Nate and Sterling have had. Thing is, I seriously doubt that the mentorship has happened, or that Sterling has repeated this promise since Nate’s response would have been “Sorry, I’m confused… Sterling told me X.”

    Plus the bit about there being two candidates and if there’s only one job so Sterling’s promise wasn’t actually a promise because it wasn’t performable.

    1. BekaAnne*

      #OP1 here:

      From what I can see – and I’m close with both of them – not really. The only real interaction between them, as far as I’m aware, has been based on specific projects. Definitely not what I would call mentorship or coaching. It’s been left down to their line managers to help fill the gaps as part of a standard development plan.

    2. SimplytheBest*

      If the mentorship hasn’t happened, then I would say Sterling is even more out of line. He’s offering these promises as retention, but not following through. If I was Nate I would also withdraw my application. And I’d be looking for a new job with a company with management you can trust.

  19. Not a Blossom*

    About the home office deduction: What if you’re an employee but work from home full time? Also, ugh.

  20. Elizabeth*

    Nate seems to be fogetting that another person had the same promise made, Sophie. If someone is just going to “get” the job, whould should it be him and not her? Frankly, that may be one of the reasons for the interviews, promises were made to two people, but only one slot opened.

    Also, not timeline has been given, how long have Nate and Sophie been under Sterling’s mentorship? If it’s been a year or less, he may not think they’re ready and wants to do interviews to address that. Even if it’s been longer, neither of them may have progressed in their areas of weakness as much as he wanted, or other areas of weakness could have surfaced. It’s also possible, that with all the changes the company is undergoing, that the needs of the role are different than before. Which is possibly why they are also looking at other candidates as well.

    Now, Sterling being so changeable isn’t great, but there may be legitimate business reasons why in this case.

    1. Eh from Canada*

      I agree – conducting interviews in a situation like this is the best way to go if you want the process to be fair to everyone involved. That said, I also wondered if there were valid reasons for running another competition for the role, like concerns about whether the finalists from the last competition are ready. Just because someone is in a mentoring program doesn’t mean they will develop to the point they’re ready for a manager role, some people just aren’t built to be leaders, and it takes a lot of emotional intelligence and self awareness, something Nate seems to lack.

    2. Saberise*

      He may not even know that Sophie applied for the other position and was told the same thing. He may think he was the only one that was “promised” a senior job if it opened up.

      1. BekaAnne*

        #OP1 here

        Sterling did disclose to everyone that the same offer was being made to all the unsuccessful candidates, and we knew that there were three candidates and two would be unsuccessful.

        Also, not 100% convinced that any mentoring/coaching actually took place.

  21. SlightlyStressed*

    LW 4, I’m in a similar situation. Took a job at a small company right after college. The company prides itself on retention (reasonable in our industry) so as long as I’ve been here, nobody has left the company. Alison, to what extent is it reasonable to give references from undergrad mentors when it’s been 3-4 years since then?

    1. KB*

      LW 4 here – I’m anticipating a similar situation to yours. Our company culture is very much “stay until you retire”, and it’s likely over the next five years I will be the first one from our department to leave (my manager and colleagues have all been with the company longer than I have). It’s common in our industry to stay in a job for at least five years (if not longer) before moving on, so my only concern with future job searching is that if I do not list my current manager as a reference, a hiring manager will have to assume I am doing a good job at my current company and base the references on short-term positions I had several years ago.

    1. Viks*

      I have already counted the number of days that qualify for my husband and I. Yes – I am a tax nerd.

    2. Rebeck*

      Australia simplified the deduction, too – 80c per hour, flat rate to cover everything including office furniture etc. Just hoping it remains in place for the 20-21 tax year, as normally there are a whole lot of really complicated rules around this stuff.

  22. RagingADHD*

    OP2, since you aren’t inviting coworkers to your wedding, you need to be very careful not to talk about your wedding plans with them at all.

    Ideally, they wouldn’t even know that you’re planning it in the same city.

    It’s really rude to talk about a party in front of people who aren’t invited. So if you’ve been excitedly chatting about the plans (an easy mistake to make), then it’s reasonable for them to assume you’re planning to include them.

    Now, some people are so pushy that they start making assumptions the minute they hear about an engagement. But either way, avoid the topic yourself, and be super-vague if anyone asks you a direct question.

    If you did accidentally give the wrong impression, you have time to correct course.

    1. Generic Name*

      Huh. I’ve happily discussed coworker’s upcoming weddings and not once have I hoped or assumed that I would be invited. While I am quite friendly with many coworkers and “outside of work friends” with some of them, I still wouldn’t expect an invitation.

      1. UKDancer*

        Likewise. I think sharing information about your wedding plans is a fairly normal topic of conversation. I’ve discussed their plans with several colleagues and have never assumed this constituted fishing for an invite, any more than I assumed my colleague who was discussing his 50th birthday Star Wars party was going to ask me to show up dressed as an Ewok. I just liked hearing about the decorations, the cake and the details.

    2. Hamish*

      I don’t think that really applies to weddings and coworkers. It’s a different situation than just generally talking about a party in front of someone and not inviting them.

      1. Clisby*

        Even in talking about parties, sometimes it would be weird for anyone to feel hurt they weren’t invited. If I’m telling people how much I’m looking forward to hosting my book club at a costume party where we dress up like characters in our current book, it would be very strange for a co-worker to feel bad that they weren’t invited.

        1. Pennyworth*

          It would, however to be rude to talk about a party one co-worker was invited to in front of another co-worker who wasn’t.

    3. Cat Tree*

      That is a perspective I haven’t heard before. A wedding isn’t just a party; it’s a major life event. It’s perfectly normal to make polite conversation about it with coworkers. But even regular parties are fine to mention, especially when some conversationally asks if you have plans for the upcoming weekend. A coworker could tell me about a 1920’s themed cocktail party they are planning, or a beach trip reunion with their college friends and I would never expect an invitation just because they mentioned it, nor would I consider it rude. This isn’t elementary school, and I have my own interests and social life so I don’t sit around stewing that someone is having fun without me.

      1. Malarkey01*

        I agree with the point that many coworkers talk about social parties outside of work with people that aren’t invited. If it was the after hours coworkers Halloween party I definitely wouldn’t talk about that with an uninvited coworker, but pre-CoVid weekend plans and parties we were throwing and attending were common conversations around my office.

      2. Washi*

        I agree! I think this rule really is more about whether the person has some reasonable expectation of being invited. Like if I had a coworker I had regularly hung out without ouside of work, I wouldn’t talk to them about a party where they weren’t included. But if I have no social connections to a coworker, I don’t think there’s any problem with mentioning “I’m having a game night with friends this weekend” or whatever. I certainly wouldn’t assume I should be invited if someone mentioned that to me!

        1. Lizzo*

          Even if you do have social connections to a coworker…don’t folks have different social circles that may or may not overlap? I have no problem mentioning plans with my running friends to friends from my music school. Heck, I have no problem mentioning plans with specific running friends to other running friends in the same group. Nobody gets offended by other people’s relationships or social lives because we’re all adults.

    4. Watermelon lip gloss*

      I agree its rude to talk about a party your having and not invite the people your talking to. However a wedding is different and the same rules do not apply here.

      That aside this is more of a know your audience thing, if you have co-workers asking about their invite or that have been upset in the past over not being invited to weddings then you should stop or at least slow the talk about your wedding at work. Its like anything else (a disability/disease, your SO/boyfriend/husband, etc) if you talk about it at work your opening up the discussion. You can always stop the discussion but once you open it up you don’t get to choose your co-workers reactions.

      My advice to the OP is to only answer questions about your wedding, and keep it short and sweet. Too many details starts envy and you don’t know what another persons limit is and that’s too much to deal with at work. Personally I took the chicken route and blamed by mother for not being able to invite my co-workers when they started asking about invites.

      1. embertine*

        I would honestly find it extremely bizarre if I mentioned at work that I was throwing a party that weekend, and all my colleagues were like, “Oh what time should we get there?” Is there really an expectation that if a party is mentioned in front of you that means you’re invited?

        1. Watermelon lip gloss*

          Mentioned in the conversation or answering asked questions no, I wouldn’t have any expectations. If we are chatting at the coffee maker my co-worker mentions she needs a red skirt for her party on Saturday there is no expectation that I will be invited. However if she comes to my desk and talks about the food she is having, and what they are going to do without prompting from me then I would kind of expect to be asked. It really depends on the conversation if we are casually talking about what is coming up for us no, but if you are coming to discuss only your party then yes.

    5. Alianora*

      I totally disagree. When it’s work it’s normal to talk about activities and parties that you’re planning without your coworkers. Especially weddings. At my workplace we throw wedding showers for the people who are getting married (nothing huge, a gift is provided by the office), and no one expects to be invited to the wedding. There’s no need for all this secrecy and avoidance.

    6. Heather*

      No. Talking about a wedding is just like talking about your kids or your ongoing home renovation – it’s a major thing in your life and it isn’t Covid or politics so it’s appropriate small talk fodder for the office. I’m not suggesting that anyone should drone on about it to people who don’t care, but that applies to anything.

      In my experience, once you’re engaged a lot of people assume it’s all you can think about and start asking questions about it anyway, to be nice and take an interest.

    7. EventPlannerGal*

      I think that’s a little silly, honestly. Does OP really need to treat her wedding like some kind of covert op just to avoid the distant possibility of upsetting someone? It’s a huge life event! I don’t think it would be at all reasonable for her coworkers to just assume they were invited because she talked about wedding planning in front of them – it would be really weird, actually. These are adults, not kindergarteners getting upset that they didn’t get invited to someone’s birthday party.

  23. Nobody important*

    Re: LW1.

    The letter states that it’s not just Nate and Sophie, but that other people are being actively interviewed for the job. Are we entirely certain that Nate’s anger here isn’t related to that issue? People are assuming that he’s angry he’s having to interview against just Sophie and ignoring that the candidate pile was expanded beyond them.

    1. Roscoe*

      Yes, exactly.

      I imagine someone who only stuck around because he was promised this job, and now finds out that its basically an open competition. I’d be pissed too

      1. JustaTech*

        I think it’s perfectly reasonable for Nate (and Sophie) to be pissed!

        But the professional thing to do is to not express that frustration at work, but to 1) talk to Stirling about the promises he made last year and what has changed and why, and then 2) roll with the interview. Like Sophie did.

        1. PersephoneUnderground*

          Or 2) decline to interview if the discussion with Sterling doesn’t change anything about his position or yours. Perfectly professional to decline to be jerked around.

    2. Dust Bunny*

      That doesn’t explain why he’d be so angry about having to interview, though, unless he’s just being childish. If anything, it should make it even more clear to him why he would need to be interviewed.

      1. Nobody important*

        It does because he was told that the next position was between him and Sophie, and now it’s between him, Sophie, Arya, Ramsey, and Wakeem.

        It definitely feels like the LW was already biased against Nate and is emphasizing the interview portion over the “other people are now in the pool” portion

        1. BekaAnne*


          I’m not necessarily biased against Nate – I’ve just worked with people who have the same attitude and it makes it such hard work.

          Personally, I love him to bits! Sophie too.

          The interview portion was based on how he described the issue – he didn’t specifically mention anything about the other candidates, but it could indeed be a factor. Good point.

        2. Dust Bunny*

          Well, no, it still doesn’t, unless, again, being childish is the answer. He was never entitled to less competition for the position. It’s his employer’s prerogative to find a good candidate and if they’re not complete sure they have one in-house, they can and should interview outside candidates and/or find out more about their in-house ones.

          So any way you slice it, he’s out of line.

          1. Nobody important*

            OP confirmed in a previous post she was being hyperbolic. Nate has just discovered that it’s very likely he was lied to, and that lie may have lead to him passing up other opportunities.

            In all honesty, I’d consider Nate to be the canary in the coalmine for Sterling’s terrible management practices. I expect Nate to announce he’s leaving soon, and I’d bet he’s not going to be the only one.

          2. SimplytheBest*

            OP has said above he and Sophie were told they’d move into the role without interviews. So this doesn’t sound to me like it’s him being upset that he has competition and sophie. He already knows that. But now all of a sudden he does have to interview and he’s interviewing against external candidates. So yeah. He was lied to. I’d be pissed too.

  24. sadbutnotbad*

    I have a followup to the pronoun question; I came out at NB at work lately, and not only do I get misgendered A LOT even six months in, but I get group emails addressed “hello ladies” and often fight the urge to reply “I’m not a lady.” Any tips?

    1. Generic Name*

      I think you could reply to the sender only and say something like, “Hey, I’m sure word hasn’t gotten to you yet, but I’ve recently come out as non-binary, and my pronouns are…..”

    2. MMMMmmmmmmmMMM*

      Could send a gif of Janet from the good place saying, “Not a lady.”

      (100% a joke, btw. I’m sorry your coworkers are being frustrating)

      1. Another Good Janet*

        I (also nonbinary) actually love this idea. It’s a pop culture reference people generally like and recognize and gets the message across. If you’re not comfortable with this, I’d follow Generic Name’s advice above with the good faith, “I’m sure you haven’t heard yet,” etc.

        1. peasblossom*

          Agreed! I think the Janet gif is both clear and charing.

          Bonus: I think if you do this once in a reply all being matter of fact/gif-y you’re much less likely to have this sort of mass email happening. Otherwise, a gentle heads up to the worst offenders with a request for their help in letting others know goes a long way toward changing office culture.

    3. Student*

      You know your work culture, so I don’t know if this is relevant to you or not.

      I’m female. I work in a male-dominated industry, to the point where I’m often the only women in the meeting, on the email, etc.

      So my co-workers often default to things like “Hello gentlemen” in their correspondence, opening meeting remarks, etc. It’s what they type on dozens of emails every day; it’s what they say in ~4-5 meetings a day. It’s generally not personal – it’s not meant to exclude me, even though it clearly does exclude me. It’s habit and it works for them most of the time. I know this isn’t personal because there’s very often a moment of recognition when they are looking around the meeting, where the guy will see my face, realize he’s just made a dumb mistake, and will attempt to correct (with varying levels of social grace achieved).

      On emails, that doesn’t happen so often, because they can’t or don’t “see” me – they aren’t scanning the email list for individual names to make sure they get pronouns right. Again, it works 90+% of the time for them and it’s the way they’ve always done things. Still, I sometimes get the follow-up private email apology to indicate they know they made a mistake.

      The men on the other end of my meetings and emails have never been the only man in a meeting full of other gender identities. They literally cannot imagine being the only one of their “kind”, how isolating that can be, and how easy it is to make that different individual feel more isolated. I’ve spent a multi-decade career being the only woman in the room most of the time, whereas this might be the first time they’ve worked with a woman as a peer in the last month, year, or even in several years.

      Do your co-workers treat you with respect? Do they recognize your gender identity in more individual communications and in person? I’d urge you to pick your fights around this, to balance moving the office forward with cutting people who treat you with respect a little slack for their bad habits. It’s been more important in my field to get positive recognition/inclusion in meetings rather than emails, and more important in smaller emails (directed at a couple people or at you specifically) than in large group emails.

      The former, meeting acknowledgement, matters more because it means you’re recognized as an important part of a group of people who are able to hear your voice, (maybe) see your face. The latter is more of a bad habit of your co-workers rather than a personal affront, like humming in a cube or frequent cigarette breaks. If you approach those problems differently, and invest more effort in fixing the former than the latter, you’ll both feel less excluded and not waste as much time trying to change things that may not budge.

      1. Queer Earthling*

        Just because it’s not personal doesn’t mean it’s not hurtful, though? And nonbinary identities are different in that there are people who refuse to acknowledge they even exist, and the dysphoria aspect can be hugely draining psychologically.

        1. sadbutnotbad*

          Thank you, that’s it exactly. The fear of seeming oversensitive, and tropes about “snowflake” enbies who take some kind of malicious pleasure in calling people out are actually things that kept me in the closet for a long time (I’ve been aware of being enby for most of my life, it isn’t a new or invented identity and I’m not using it to trap people into error). Every day I already extend a fairly exhausting amount of patience toward people misgendering me in all sorts of circumstances (and yes, it does stoke the low-and-slow burn of dysphoria). I think asking people to stop using “hey ladies” is not that big of an ask. I don’t need convincing on whether or not it’s worth fighting for, I was just looking for scripts/strategies.

        2. Snarl Trolley*

          Seconded so hard – I’m in the same boat as Sadbutnotbad, working in a gendered environment as an out non-binary person. It’s the same as someone dropping a brick on your hand. Oh, of course it’s not personal – it’s an accident! They never meant to hurt you! But you’re still left with a broken hand.

          And worse, when it happens repeatedly, an ever-deepening sense that despite “good intentions”, despite constant correction, people simply just don’t care enough about breaking your hand to not keep dropping bricks on it.

      2. Pennyworth*

        Surely we should be past using gendered greetings on emails in 2021. There are so many gender neutral salutations like ‘Hello Everyone/Folks/ People/Y’all’, or my personal favorite ‘Greetings Good Gentlefolk’.

      3. PersephoneUnderground*

        Yeah, I’d be pissed if people regularly addressed my department as “gentlemen” (I was the only woman for a while, now one of two)! What am I, chopped liver? There’s no harm in pushing back and gently correcting them every time. Maybe suggest they adopt the habit of using gender-neutral salutations like “everyone” or “llama groomers” to avoid the entire need to check every time- the entire assumption that we’re all men is hurtful and a bit dated.

    4. Joielle*

      I AM a lady and I still hate being addressed as “ladies” in an email (or ever). It’s so unnecessary and weird to address emails according to gender. The last time it happened at work, it was an email from a new-ish guy in a different department who had only been with the agency for a few months but had already shown himself to be kind of incompetent and definitely sexist. I ignored one “hi ladies” email, and on the second one I asked the other “ladies” if it bothered them as much as it bothered me. It did. So I emailed back something like:

      Hi Mark,
      Thanks for your email – if you could refrain from using “ladies” in the future we’d appreciate it. Just stick to the generally professional “hi all,” “hi everyone,” or our names. As to your question…

      He didn’t acknowledge the correction but he stopped using “ladies” in emails, so I guess it was a win? And, although he continued to be kind of an ass the rest of the time I worked there, he never condescended to me directly again. Ugh that guy was awful.

    5. Lizzo*

      At my work, we’ve had a discussion about using non-gendered language to refer to groups of people, e.g. folks, colleagues, team, everyone, and my favorite: y’all. Are there colleagues who can help shift the cultural tide with respect to these gendering habits (so that it’s not completely on you to do this work)?

  25. Khatul Madame*

    LW1 – it looks like there already are several good candidates for the promotion, so Nate should be allowed to withdraw. If the LW is concerned that the hiring manager may give in to his tantrum, she should say something.

  26. MMMMmmmmmmmMMM*

    I do find it insane that coworkers would want to be invited to a wedding. Unless I’ve hung out with you outside of work, why?

    But, I guess for some people its important. Get it out early that you’ve got a limit to keep to (“of course I’d like to invite everyone, but finically that’s not possible…”), so they’re not blindsided a week before the wedding. Congrats btw!

    1. juliebulie*

      I think it’s only awkward if you invite some coworkers and not others. No matter how careful you are about that, someone will feel slighted if they’re “excluded” and someone else isn’t.

  27. Little Swan*

    Are you sure that “he thinks he should be hired without an interview” is Nate’s exact statement, and not something you think he said? Or does Nate think they should just choose someone, and not waste time on internal interviews?
    To me, even though Nate’s reaction might be out-of-touch or somewhat unprofessional, the characterization of this as a “tantrum” and “throwing toys out of the pram” is excessive, and speaks at least in part to your personal dislike of Nate.

    I think this response should have addressed the possibility of Nate being promised something, and you misinterpreting his words, rather than just jumping to “red flags”, and I certainly don’t think that his withdrawal from the position should be viewed as a permanent black mark on his character, for his current job or for future opportunities.

    1. Des*

      I can’t imagine a situation where a candidate being asked for an interview says “well I shouldn’t have to do that”. How does such a candidate respond to any other task in their job that they don’t want to do because someone promised they wouldn’t have to? Jobs/priorities shift (especially over the course of the year) and at minimum this shows inflexibility and bad judgement.

    2. BekaAnne*


      Sorry they’re common phrases for that sort of thing where I’m from. I actually don’t dislike Nate personally, just this behaviour. I actually didn’t expect this from him, to be honest.

      And yes, he objected to being asked to interview again.

    3. PersephoneUnderground*

      It sounds like he’s using “interview” to cover the entire concept of having to compete with a group when he was promised a straight promotion (or at least to be one of two people considered for a promotion).

  28. Des*


    Call Nate’s bluff and let him withdraw. And definitely speak to the hiring manager.
    If this is how he talks to people at the same level/higher than him, just imagine how he manages those under him.

  29. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

    I’m not necessarily condoning Nate’s behavior, but I can empathize just a bit if he feels they keep moving the goal posts and he’s decided that it’s not worth it to him to keep playing. If he had calmly stated that he’s no longer interested in the promotion, no problem, after all the top level sounds like a shit show currently. I’ve also always thought it a bit odd to have to go through an interview for an internal promotion unless it was an unrelated career-shift type position. Interviews are to get to know an unknown person and ask questions about their job history and skills and personality type. If he’s internal, they already know and it seem performative.

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      They company could still be using the interview as a sort of dressed rehearsal.

      1. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

        In what way though? The dress rehearsal for how he works is how he’s worked in the past.

        1. Bostonian*

          Not really since he’s never been a senior manager before. He needs to be evaluated for the job he wants, not the job he has.

          1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

            Not really since he’s never been a senior manager before.

            That’s what I was thinking. E.g.; today I’m a Programmer, so I act as a Programmer. I follow decisions made above me faithfully. If I want to be a Programming Supervisor, I need to demonstrate in an interview how I’m going to make those decisions that Programmers are going to be expected to follow.

            I do think it sounds like someone’s ego needs stroking to start Nate out in the preliminary interviews again, but I also do get Nate needing to perform the final interview(s) again. Plus, he’s had a year to learn and grow, so he could perform better this time… but the letter and attitude make me suspect he’ll perform worse.

  30. Antonia*

    OP#2 When I started reading your letter I was thinking why not just invite your coworkers on Zoom? Then I got to the number of expected guests and was like this must be a covid-free area. But still if you are sure a good number won’t be able to come anyway why not both a “regular” wedding and a Zoom wedding? And tell your coworkers that you are limiting the physical guests but that they are welcome to join them on Zoom if they are interested?

  31. voyager1*

    LW1: Does Nate have a good reputation with the hiring/decision maker? If you go to him with this allegation of Nate throwing a tantrum, is he going to believe you? I mean you and Nate are competing for the same position correct? I know I would be skeptical if someone came to me if they were competing for a promotion.

    I would only raise this tantrum issue if I knew it would help me. This could backfire so easily.

    Lastly it is easy to judge people when you see a “tantrum .” If you have never been jerked around or misled when going for promotion, it is really hard to know how you will react.

    1. Clisby*

      LW and Nate are not competing for the same position. Nate and Sophie (and possibly others) are in contention. LW has already gotten a promotion to that level.

  32. LH in SD*

    I’m confused.
    Where is the temper tantrum?
    Did he kick over a trash can, cuss people out, send out evil email or walk out and slam the door?
    Or did he just say that now that this is the new process, that he may consider removing himself from candidacy?

    It sounds like the last time, things were whittled down to 3 people and you got it.

    The other two got mentoring and the promise that next time, it would be one of them.
    Maybe he stayed at the company, passing over other career opportunities based on the promise that when it was time to hire for that level again, just him and one other would be in the running and now he feels lied to.

    Because, ummm.. changes or not…even sort of according to you….he sort of was.
    Regret some..?

    Lets be adults here.

    Sometimes managers say stuff like that to keep a good employee from leaving …..and it works.
    Even on me.

    So is openly considering withdrawing your name really a tantrum in that circumstance?
    Is considering leaving the company a tantrum?
    Is deciding that you no longer want to do the “extra work” for a promotion that is a moving target, a tantrum?

    How many people have covered for a manager or supervisor with the promise that when the supervisor left, they would get the job?
    Only to be told that not only would they have to interview for it but that they would be competing against open recruitment.
    How much of the mentoring was actually doing the job that they wanted to be promoted to?
    How much extra work did he pick up because of management turnover and short staffing based on this promise?
    How much extra stuff did he do just to look a little better then one other person?
    and now you say he has to start from scratch against the other candidate, plus everyone else.

    So yeah,, having seen people throw office phones through windows for less,,,,I’m kind of curious what your definition of tantrum is?

    Sounds to me like his only mistakes were trusting a lie and questioning out loud if he should try again here if this was going to be the process.


  33. PJH*

    #5. Can I take the home office deduction on my taxes this year?

    For any UK readers, you can still claim for £6/week WFH allowance (for the whole year, even if you’ve only worked from home for just one day) – works out at £60 for the year (£6×52×20%) or £125 (for 40% higher rate taxpayers.)

    MoneySavingExpert has details here for anyone who didn’t know about it, and how to claim:–working-from-home-due-to-coronavirus–claim-p6-wk-/

  34. AKchic*

    Weddings: I never invited my coworkers to any of mine (3).

    My last one was the only one where it turned out that coworkers actually WANTED to be there. I got married and being the type of person I am… I didn’t say anything. I wasn’t changing my name, so there wasn’t anything to really update at work other than my insurance. Our HR person let me fill out the paperwork and that was it. I wasn’t taking time off, so management didn’t know.

    About 4-5 months later, my husband updated his facebook status… which triggered MY facebook status being updated automatically. One of the c-suite and I were friends (because we did political/activism things outside of work). He saw the backdating on it. Confused, he wanted to know if he’d missed something. Photos, an announcement, something. CEO heard. *She* was disappointed because we were actually close and I hadn’t said anything to her and why didn’t I invite her? (For those curious – we’d canceled our original plans the year before due to an emergency surgery my 2nd ex-husband was having and I was traveling across country with our son, instead; so we’d eloped roughly 6 months later just to get it out of the way so my husband could get on my medical insurance).

  35. Chickaletta*

    RE#1 – as someone who works in a c-suite (as an EA) Alison’s perspective is spot on. Executive candidates are scrutinized heavily, and for good reason – they make major decisions, drive the culture and atmosphere for the rest of the company, and not to mention they are expensive. A medium to large-sized corporation will spend 6 to 12 months filling a position. They may be in the final stages of making an offer to a candidate and things may fall through and they have to start all over. It happens all the time. So they’re right to look at every red flag they can – especially at the beginning before all the time and money gets spent trying to get that person on board. Sure, an internal candidate can be brought on much quicker and cheaper – but they still influence the direction of the company heavily once they’re in position.

    Executives are required to handle sticky, uncomfortable situations with professionalism and grace all the time, and not give up at the first sign of conflict. How will this person handle conflict in the middle of tense negotiations? How will they handle a lawsuit, or a significant HR event? How will this person handle an unexpected catastrophic event to the company like a cyber attack or god-forbid another pandemic? If he gets so frustrated that he QUITS after being asked to do something as small as an extra interview, then he’s probably not the right personality for the job.

  36. Cis Female*

    #3 I’m glad you know that the comments were well-meaning. If someone told me “it’s amazing to see a woman excelling in this field” in a random email, I would find them odd and condescending.

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