Ask a Manager in five languages

1. All the foreign editions of the Ask a Manager book!

Top row: U.S., UK, Poland.
Bottom row: Ukraine, South Korea, China.

2. Separately, an announcement: When you are reading a letter in the archives that later had an update, you will now see a note at the bottom of the post with a link to the update. For example, here and here. (Many thanks to regular commenter Elizabeth West, who let me hire her to sort through more than 1,000 updated letters to make this happen.)

{ 130 comments… read them below }

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      That was a huge project — and it’s going to be a great addition to this website.
      Kudos to you both!

    2. Mobius 1*

      Not a word of a lie, I sometimes fantasize about being hired to do this exact thing as a temp gig or something. This gives me the most unexpected hope I think I’ve ever experienced.

  1. MissM*

    Congrats on both! The recommended articles on updates usually leads you back to the original, but that’s super useful to have it work both ways

  2. Thank you, Gracias, Merci, etc*

    Thanks Elizabeth West! Reading the updates is one of the best parts of advice columns IMO, and I wish more of them would connect them clearly and easily like this.

  3. AppleStan*

    First of all, so amazing that your book is published in so many languages (well, just 5 so far, but it’s a start)!

    Second, kudos to Elizabeth West. I had noticed that the linking starting tapering off after the early years, but just saw a post from 2018 that had a link to the update and I said….WHOAH! So really…that’s huge!!!

    It definitely will help newcomers!

    1. Jean (just Jean)*

      +1 to everything AppleStan said!
      Alison, mazel tov on being translated into 5 languages/introduced into at least 5 new countries! (Suggestion re the Polish edition: market your book to Polish speakers in Polish emigre communities).

      Elizabeth West, FANTASTIC! Great to see you using your skills and interests this way! May your work on the AAM site become just the beginning step in your journey back to full-time employment, or the equivalent if you can assemble a full-time income with part-time employment + your own writing projects!

      Now I look forward to going down all the rabbit holes & secret passages (reminds me of the “Clue” game playing board) connecting original comments and updates. :-)

      1. Elizabeth West*

        assemble a full-time income with part-time employment + your own writing projects

        Nooooo, I need healthcare, lol. How about my own writing projects and my celebrity crush husband’s insurance instead? ;)

  4. Littorally*

    Oh nice! Links to updates are something I know a lot of people have been wanting, and I’m glad Elizabeth West has done the work to get that done. Is that going to be the case going forward too?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’m going to try to make it so, yes! Either I’ll add them as I do updates going forward or I will hire someone (hopefully Elizabeth if she’s up for doing it again) to do them in batches once a year or so. (It’s easy to do them myself when it’s just a single update here or there, but the system breaks down in December when there are so many.)

      1. Can Can Cannot*

        Any chance there could be a way to highlight responses from an OP within a posting? I know that adding the hidden “*” to the end of the name makes it easier, but the name of the OP uses can be a challenge to figure out. Are there any other options?

        1. JustAThought*

          Perhaps as a general thing, and if they happen to think of it, letter writers could ID themselves in the comments with a username including “LW.” The letters “op” often travel together, but “lw” is easy to search on.

          (Though I’d hate to see someone get pounced on for not doing this; I am always delighted when LWs respond in comments.)

          1. Keener*

            This has been my thinking too. If the original poster typically adopted a convention for their user name, it is easy to search. I agree that OP happens too commonly in words, but LW works well in the cases where they have adopted that user name.

            My other favourite comment section on the internet is SmittenKitchen dot com. When you post a comment you can tag it as a “question” or “I made this”. These comments can be viewed on separate tabs. (Not sure I’ve explained it well, but just go look at the site). Maybe something similar could be developed for this site.

        2. My Brain Is Exploding*

          I agree! It’s ready to lose a reply from the LW in the comments; they might use OP or LW or some other long name. Also sometimes it’s a reply to another comment, so if you aren’t expanding the comments, you miss it. There must be a way to do this; going forward perhaps standardizing LW as handle for the letter writer. In the archives, IDK … Go Elizabeth? Maybe a block of color the way Alison’s comments are always blue. So you could expand, scroll fast, and stop at the green text box.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Mine appear in blue because I’m logged into the back end of the website when commenting, but there’s no way to do that for individual letter-writers, unfortunately (there would have to be individual logins created for every letter published, people provided with login instructions and passwords, etc. and then their comments would appear that way on other posts too if they forgot to log out — a big mess).

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Not consistently. I don’t read all the comments so I don’t always know when a LW is commenting and some days I’m not in the comments at all so there’s no practical way to do it on a consistent basis (at least not without increasing my workload/time commitment).

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Hell yeah, I’d be happy to do it again. Thank you for thinking of me!

        It was fun—oh so many wacky letters I’d completely forgotten about! And some very old ones I hadn’t read. A very entertaining project. :’D

        I thought the update to “go get your dog” should say “Read a pupdate here,” but that wasn’t my call, lol.

  5. Kiwi*

    As a habitual archives crawler I am *very* excited about this update! Thanks Alison and Elizabeth!

  6. Uranus Wars*

    I don’t know if I am more excited to see the book translated into so many languages or the fact that Alison was able to help one of our commentariat add this to their resume! Thank you both!

  7. Bob*

    I always liked posts that mentioned update here at the bottom.
    Are posts that were updated more than once also included?

      1. Bob*

        Cool. Though one could argue that you should link the next update in sequence since that is how they should be read.

        That said i am very happy to hear about the update linking, i often hit surprise me then search for the result’s title to see if there was an update, this saves me the trouble of doing that over and over again!
        Updates are perhaps my favourite part of AAM.

  8. Rusty Shackelford*

    I’ve been going through old columns during some downtime and I noticed more links to updates. Love it!!!

  9. Sami*

    I hit “Surprise Me” A LOT. And have noticed the update link. Thank you Elizabeth!
    I can’t imagine how long that took.

  10. Swivel Servant*

    OK, I have to ask how the US and UK editions are different, other than the “colour” of the cover. Thanks for being an awesome resource that I’m now pointing my adult children to.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Different publishers (Ballantine/Random House in the U.S. and Little, Brown in the UK), so different covers, different layout and typesetting, Britishized spellings, etc. Anything more micro than that, I don’t actually know — my U.S publisher worked extremely closely with me on most details, but the foreign publishers kind of did their own things.

      1. SarahKay*

        So in fact you’re now available in six languages, since clearly American English is a different language to British English ;)

        I’m thrilled to see your reach is extending across the world.

        Plus, of course, a huge thank you to Elizabeth and you for the links to the updates, which is fabulous news.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          So in fact you’re now available in six languages, since clearly American English is a different language to British English ;)

          Obviously, since Americans would say it is different from British English. XD

      2. Swivel Servant*

        Thanks for satisfying my curiosity and congratulations on getting the word out there, no matter how it’s spelled!

    2. H.C.*

      Not sure if the original edition refer to any U.S. specific labor/employment law, but I’d imagine the international editions to remove those references (or make extra explicitly clear that Alison is referring to a US law).

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

    How awesome to be translated into so many languages! I’m curious, if you don’t mind sharing — do the translations account in any way for cultural differences in work norms? Or in the end, are the differences not as much as I might have naively guessed?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      They definitely do not since I have no expertise in other cultures’ norms. My agent explained that the foreign publishers say their book buyers are interested in learning about American business norms.

      1. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

        This is true. My husband translates English books into German and the new norm for the 50 and under demographic is to “retain the American intention” as much as possible. Otherwise, readers actually worry they’re not clued into the author’s true meaning.

      2. Nanani*

        That tracks, the Chinese cover has a tag line saying this book is about specifically American management. Probably being marketed to people who deal with American companies a lot?

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Ooooh, if anyone can translate the full texts of the covers, I would love to know what they say. I could post photos of the back covers too, where I have no idea what has been written!

          1. nnn*

            Amateur translation of the Polish:

            Ask A Manager: how to handle difficult situations with your supervisor, subordinates and colleagues.

            1. nnn*

              I can’t manage a translation of the Polish back cover today (too many words, bad eyesight day) so if someone else is able to take that on, do feel free!

              1. Seeking Second Childhood*

                Very cool, I’ll share that.
                (No idea why my ^edit got hung up unsent until now….must be PEBKAC on my end I’m sure.)

          2. redwitsch*

            Polish back cover – It is amateur translation, but I am Czech, so Polish is like half cousin language. 8D
            One of the basic skill in work is art of communication. It turns out , that subordinates are avoiding difficult, but important conversation so much, because of manager behavior toward them. And it’s not just a demand to adapt to new or increased requirements, but problems such as presence (or lack thereof) on social media, sensibility to parfumes , or not really funny jokes from older colleagues. As a result, the number of people who feel terrible at work is growing. They are frustrated, hurt, exhausted – but they don’t talk about it because they can’t. The irritation is growing and the problems remain unresolved.
            This book was based on questions from various people how to deal with problems in workplace. It is written from perspective of experienced manager. It will tell you how to behave in many awkward situations that can happen to anyone: you sent a controversial email to the wrong people, you missed an important deadline, a colleague treats you like an their assistant, someone is presenting your good idea as their. You will learn how to defend yourself in various unpleasant situations, whether in dealings with the boss, subordinates or colleagues. An interesting approach to the topic and a great deal of humor make it a very pleasant read – and also useful and extremely inspiring.
            How to lead difficult conversations when:
            You have a problem executing the command.
            You do not want to agree to new responsibilities or you want to receive more interesting tasks.
            You have to answer too inquisitive or rude questions.
            The boss is constantly questioning your authority.
            You must fire a subordinate or want to leave your current job.
            You want to negotiate some perks during hiring process.

            Alison Green is author of blog, where she is answering questions from readers concerning problems with management and work in the office. Blog has 2 million visitor monthly, questions and answers are republished also in USA Today, Wall street journal, Glamour, CBS news, Green also have column in New York magazine, where she is giving advice about problems in work. Her zodiac sign is Taurus and she is happily married woman.

              1. nnn*

                Did you include your zodiac sign and your marital status in the bio that you provided, or did the Polish bio writer add their own twist?

                1. nnn*

                  That is so weird!

                  I got super curious wondering if it’s a cultural thing, so I went to the publisher’s website and clicked on other random books, including many by female authors (in case it’s a gender thing), and I didn’t see any other sign of zodiac signs or marital status.

                  Caveat: I read Polish like a preschooler, so I was basically skimming for keywords rather than reading every word.

                  The Polish branch of my family (from whom I acquired my rudimentary Polish) immigrated too long ago to have any insight on 21st century cultural norms for author blurbs.

    2. Lil Fidget*

      I totally had the same question! Not knowing anything about it, I would assume the norms are extremely different in Japan vs the US vs any company in Europe. BUT, it totally makes sense that the readers want to get an American perspective and understand it’s oriented that way, per Alison’s comment above.

      1. Jen*

        Not that different! I’m in Europe, been reading AAM for many years, and I have learned so much about being a good coworker and a good boss!

        1. An American Abroad*

          Hmm, I think I would say that some of it tracks to where I am in Europe, but some of it does not. So, for example, lessons in communicating expectations clearly works well, but some of the wording for handling different kinds of rudeness doesn’t work very well. And the laws are totally different, so anything in that direction isn’t helpful at all.

          Having worked at a very international company, I’d also like to say that “Europe” isn’t a good category! People worked veeerrry differently between the various countries, which often times was totally fine but sometimes caused (solvable) friction.

          I will say, though, that people where I am are often very interested in the American perspective–one of my companies worked closely with an American company, and my coworkers would have benefited from learning some of the stuff in the book.

          1. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

            Yes! I taught corporate communication classes to then-current-C-levels and my task was to teach them American business norms.

          2. Bluesboy*

            Yes, you can’t really group ‘Europe’ together easily, we’re very different.

            Italt/America work wise, obviously none of the laws are relevant. Anything about lack of healthcare, maternity, sick pay, holidays etc. is not really relevant. Some cultural differences obviously, the trickiest thing for me being when Alison says ‘this person needs to be fired’ and I’m like (sigh) ‘yup, so he shot someone, I can give him his first warning letter, just two more to go…’

            But I don’t read AAM for the laws or conventions. I read it because it’s essentially about dealing with people, and doing it firmly, but also correctly, courteously and morally, and that’s important wherever in the world you are. I can pick out the advice not relevant to me, but most of it is pretty universal.

      2. Grace*

        I know that UK vs US, it’s not the norm here to send “thank you notes” or follow-ups after interviews, and would likely come across as pushy. Any advice relating to legal protections and ability to fire people would obviously different, as well. Minus the legal stuff, the other norms that might be significantly different are things like drinking at work/with coworkers (pub culture carries over into the workplace, too) and all the differences between British CVs and American resumes.

        1. NoMoreFirstTimeCommenter*

          I think anything related to application processes (CV/resume, interview tips etc – even how to dress for an interview!) is very very culture specific. In that situation you want to impress, and if you study the norms for the wrong country you may fail very badly. Communicating with coworkers and (to some extent) bosses is more generally human, and even in the same country and area, different people may react differently to saying the same thing so culture isn’t such a big deal for this.

    3. LunaLena*

      Oooh now I’m curious about that too. I might have to try to get hold of the Korean edition so I can read it and see. But I would imagine they didn’t change anything to account for cultural differences – there are a lot of people who wish to go into international business and therefore are actively trying to learn other countries’ business norms. Back when I lived in Korea there was a book series about American business and culture explained for Koreans and vice versa (the same series included Japanese business and culture, and I’m sure there are even more now), so I can totally see them using Allison’s book to teach American business norms.

      Also, does anyone have translations of the book titles? I’m always fascinated by how book and movie titles are changed in other countries. Sometimes the titles are direct translations, and sometimes they aren’t. The Korean title of Allison’s book actually translates to “Practicing Career People Talk” for example.

      1. An American Abroad*

        Oh gosh, I would hope they didn’t change anything for cultural differences! I don’t think it would be the same advice, then. I can’t even imagine how they could! That wouldn’t work very well where I am at all…

      2. LunaLena*

        Also want to add – I just checked the zoomed-in image of the covers, and the Korean one also says: “How to speak without causing unhappiness, hurt, or misunderstandings” “150 real conversations with proper career people” and “the only solution to every and all problems in the office, is conversation!”

        1. daeguowl*

          The back cover translates as:

          (In Kakaotalk format, a popular Korean whatsapp-like messaging service)
          Life is tough because I have too much work. :(
          I want to get a pay rise.
          I don’t want to hang out with my colleagues after work.
          My colleague stole my idea.
          People keep passing work off to me even though it’s not my responsibility.
          My staff has a bad attitude.
          What should I do to resolve these problems?

          “Speak up!”
          “Be assertive, not aggressive.”

          (Blue): The secret to working well for everyone from the office newbie to managers.
          (Red): Practicing dialogues for office-workers to achieve smooth communication

          All kinds of things happen in the office. Things might seem small or trivial but nothing is easy. So what should we do? Communicate. Say what you want to say in a calm and composed manner. The point is to communicate without being hostile. Getting upset and making verbal attacks makes the feasible unfeasible. Therefore, even office-workers need to practice communication. Practice how to speak in a way that gets your point across efficiently and without causing offence. This book gathers the best 150 examples of good communication from 10,327 submissions to an office problem page. Whenever you have a problem, open up this book!

  12. An American(ish) Werewolf in London*

    Elizabeth is a star! It would be fabulous if there were some way of seeing whether there have been updates in the comments (as not every OP uses the same username) but I suspect that would need a veritable ARMY of Elizabeths.

    And congratulations on the books! I’m in the UK – I’m now intensely curious as to what (besides spelling) differences crept in between the US and UK editions…

  13. Brett*

    Are there plans to offer the books in Hindi (most of my indian coworkers, both onshore US and offshore), Portuguese (for the people I work with in brazil), or Spanish (the rest of my latin american colleagues)?

    1. Brett*

      Also, how do we buy the other editions? Especially the South Korean and Chinese editions?
      French would be really good too!

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I think my agent is done shopping it to foreign publishers, so this is probably the end of the foreign editions. (A foreign publisher needs to decide to buy it to make each of these happen.)

      You can buy the UK version on Amazon UK. For the others, you’d need to go to an online South Korean/Chinese/etc. bookseller.

    3. Mephyle*

      I was wondering the same thing as Brett, particularly Spanish – I’d bet the market for that would be huge, given the number of Spanish speakers in the US, let alone the rest of Spanish-speaking Latin American countries. It would be better if a Latin American publisher picked it up (unfortunately most literature translated into Spanish is translated and published via Spain, which is a smaller market in terms of population).

  14. Jessica*

    I don’t imagine Elizabeth West is looking to change her handle now that she’s our hero, but I will nonetheless note that “A veritable ARMY of Elizabeths” would be a great commenting ID, or indeed band name.

    Many thanks to Elizabeth for the linkage! December is 9 months away and I can already smell the popcorn just thinking about the updates. :-)

  15. Princess Trachea-Aurelia Belaroth*

    This is awesome. It used to be that pretty much universally, the “you may also like” suggestions included any updates, but that is happening less recently.

    Also, I have recently discovered the only subreddit I need, r/BestRedditorUpdates, and the main poster over there has been on a cross-posting spree gathering all the most satisfying updates from here. This will be appreciated by the redditors there.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Not anywhere I know of; these are foreign publishers selling them in their respective countries. You might be able to buy them at a foreign online bookstore though? Not sure!

  16. Always Late to the Party*

    I am jealous of Elizabeth – getting paid to organize AAM posts sounds like a dream. Grateful for her work, too!

  17. Elizabeth West*

    Congrats on the new editions, Alison! \0/ Now more people can benefit from your awesome advice. :D

    1. Antilles*

      I hope this is fair game to ask, but were there any updates that particularly stuck out in your head? I’m assuming when you linked them, you probably also at least glanced at the posts, so any ones that particularly were like “man, this was great to walk down memory lane and remember how crazy X post/update was”.

        1. LunaLena*

          Oh my gosh, there was an update to the Duck Club??? I have to read it now!

          Thanks for all your work on this, I have always wondered if there were updates to the letters in the archive that I missed and now I’ll be able to find them!

  18. Maxie*

    Alison, I’ve been wishing for update links for a long time. I’ve noticed them recently and love it. Thank you for doing this, or rather thank you for making this large investment in having a reader do it. She did a great job. What a gift to us.

  19. germank106*

    Great work on the translations. If you ever need it translated into German let me know. Thanks to Elizabeth for working through the updates.

  20. some_coder*

    I’am very interested in the opinion of the asian readers about this blog about the books. Especially because of the difference in social norms and work culture (e.g. strong hierarchy in companies and so on). Because everything i know is from online novels, netflix and manhwa and this might not be how it is in real life.

    1. Roci*

      I think the books specify they are American cultural norms–there are many books here (in Asia) about understanding “international” or US business culture so I can see it along the shelf next to those.

      You are right that social norms and work culture are very different! Sometimes the advice is not always applicable but you can get to the same destination in a different way.

  21. Mimmy*

    Congrats Alison on getting the books published in multiple languages and a big congrats and thank you to Elizabeth!!!

  22. Isabel*

    Wow, that’s amazing that you had your book published in so many different languages! Congrats Alison on the success of your book and your blog.

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