my younger staff prefer communicating by text, boss keeps missing our meetings, and more

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

1. My younger staff prefer communicating by text

I manage a team of five younger professionals (all between the ages of 25 to 30). I have noticed that each member of my team prefers to communicate with me almost exclusively by text message or through the chat feature in our organization’s collaboration software. Conversations by phone, video, or in-person only happen when I initiate them with an employee.

When I initiate an in-person conversation or phone call, my employees don’t seem opposed and typically are very engaged, but if left up to them it seems like all of the interaction with me would be via text or chat. In my own career, I’ve always valued being able to talk one-on-one with my manager, whether it’s during a formal meeting or impromptu. Is the preference my employees show for engaging with me by text or chat generational or should this be warning sign that my team does not view me as approachable or doesn’t place much value in one-on-one time with me as a manager?

I’m not a fan of broad statements about generations because people are individuals … but in general there has been a cultural shift away from phone calls and toward other methods of communication. Not just among 20somethings, but more broadly. And since your employees’ entire time in the workforce has been since that shift started, it makes sense that you’d see it reflected in them.

Since they’re very engaged when you initiate calls or talk in-person, I wouldn’t worry that they don’t find you approachable or don’t value their time with you. Those communication methods just aren’t their go-to’s. If you want, you could always ask them about it; maybe it’ll turn out that they think of calling or stopping by in-person as more of an interruption to you, and think they’re respecting your time by not doing it. But lots of people of all ages have just fallen into this particular set of preferences, and that’s likely all it is.

2. Can I renegotiate salary when my job changed right after starting it?

I recently started a new administrative job and negotiated a salary in the middle of their posted range, since I lacked some of the finance skills they were looking for but checked all the other boxes.

In my second week, I got the news that my hiring manager is leaving the organization and won’t be replaced. A lot of wide-ranging projects that I was initially going to support him on are now MY projects, and I’m reporting directly to the founder of the organization who’s directly told me the financial stuff “is really annoying” to him, and that he won’t be able to help me with those specifics. I’m trying to learn everything I can before my manager leaves.

I want to renegotiate my salary since my duties keep expanding and I no longer have a mentor/manager, and also because I found out that a similar role to mine in the organization is receiving a higher salary for fewer hours. My probationary review is three months in — can I bring up a salary renegotiation then? I feel like the job I’m ending up in is not the same job I was hired for. I want to keep my frustration out of the conversation but I also want to set some firm boundaries.

This is one of the few situations where it makes sense to ask to revisit your salary before you’ve been there a year. They hired you for one job and now they’re assigning you a more senior job with more responsibility. They should pay you accordingly. In fact, I think you can bring it up now, rather than waiting for your three-month review.

I would say it this way: “I’m willing to pitch in and cover these new responsibilities, but this is now a different job that the one I was hired for originally. If I’d known from the start that this would be the role, I would have negotiated salary differently. Can we talk about a fair salary for the new role I’m taking on?”

3. My boss’s boss keeps missing our skip-level meetings

I like my job pretty well. It’s steady and challenging while not being too stressful, which I’m really thankful for during these crazy times.

Last year, my manager and their C-suite boss decided I should have a skip level meeting with the C-suite boss on a regular basis, so I could get better visibility into some things and ask questions. It seemed positive and I have looked forward to the meetings: the C-suite rarely speaks to anyone not directly reporting to them.

Out of the last nine meetings, C-boss has only attended three, either cancelling last minute for the others or just not showing up entirely. I used to feel invisible but now I feel insulted. They’re too important and busy to talk to me, I get it … but is there any polite way to request to cancel this recurring joke of a meeting? I really dread them now. Or should I take this as a bigger sign and start looking for the exit?

I get why you feel insulted, but try not to. Yes, they’re being rude by not showing up at all. (Do they ever contact you afterwards to acknowledge it or try to reschedule?) But canceling at the last-minute … that’s just the way it goes for some senior jobs when higher priorities are always cropping up and you’ve got to adjust on the fly. They might be making the right call when they end up needing to prioritize other things in that slot; the rude part isn’t canceling, it’s not acknowledging it to you or trying to reschedule.

But there’s still value in meeting with them when they do show up — value in being able to ask questions, value in what you hear, and value in the additional visibility it gives you and your work. Ideally you’d just take whatever you can get out of it and not get bothered when a meeting doesn’t happen. (In fact, assume when one is upcoming that it may or may not happen, and decide it’s fine either way.) Definitely don’t quit your job over it.

All that said, nine a year is a lot. It might be worth saying, “I know your schedule has gotten in the way of some of these. Would it make more sense to do them less frequently, like quarterly? Or is there another time that’s easier for you?”

But don’t ask to cancel the meetings entirely. If you do, it’s likely to look like you’re taking something personally that you shouldn’t be, and it could make them less inclined to invest in you in other ways.

4. My company won’t take my job listing down

A few months ago, I started working at a new company. What I do for work is pretty niche, and those who also went down my line of work make up a pretty small, close-knit community across the country. After I started, I noticed that the job posting I responded to was still up across multiple job seeking platforms online. I reached out to my boss, HR, and recruiters and asked if they were planning on hiring another individual with my same title, and brought to their attention that the job listing was still up. All parties let me know that the job posting was supposed to have been removed but had just been forgotten, and I figured that was the end.

However, it’s still up. Not only that, but the job posting seems to be freshly posted every couple of days instead of just sitting there. With my professional community being so close, people looking for new jobs have seen that I am an employee at this company and reached out to me for help applying. At first, I apologized and told them the company wasn’t actually looking, but after months of it still being up, I’m starting to feel insecure in my position and wondering if there’s more to this. How can I handle this matter without sounding redundant or insecure to my superiors?

I’d say it this way: “You mentioned the post for my job was supposed to be taken down. It’s still up and looks like it’s being freshly posted every few days. Since the llama grooming community is so small, people have been contacting me with questions about applying to it. Any way to get it taken down so I’m not fielding questions about it?” Say this to your boss, since she probably has the most interest in you not having to deal with this (and also because she’s the one most likely to realize how disconcerting it might be to you).

After that, though, I’d let it go even if they don’t fix it. It doesn’t make sense to spend capital continuing to follow up on it.

5. My coworker keeps trying to borrow my login credentials

My coworker and I each have personal accounts on a system that we have to use for our work. It is not a system that is managed by our company; it is managed by a government organization.

For almost a year, she’s been saying she can’t get into her account. I did some of her work in the system for her, but I’m now very busy and don’t have time to do her work.

The last time she sent me something, I said she needed to figure out her own account. She claims that she’s called and emailed but gets no response, and then she asked to use my login credentials. I said our employee handbook has a stipulation against sharing passwords. She’s brought it up again a few times and I’ve brushed it off, but I’m not comfortable with her continuing to ask for my password.

I feel it’s her responsibility to get this resolved, and even though she’ll be the first person to complain that she’s “dumped on” I feel like she’s dumping on me — either I give her my password and resolve it for her, or do her work for her. What do you suggest?

Say this: “I can’t let you use my login because we have a policy against it. If they’re not returning your calls or emails about your own, can you talk to (manager) about what to do next?” If she hasn’t really made much of an effort to contact the organization that manages the database, hopefully this will prompt her to. And if she has, she needs to figure out a next step anyway.

{ 563 comments… read them below }

  1. Catherine*

    OP 1, it might not even be generational so much as a desire to have reference to the topic. It’s helpful to be able to double-check my chat logs to see if I can answer my question myself before I go to my boss for clarification!

    Additionally, my boss changes his mind frequently about things, to the point that notes I take during in-person conversations have to be discarded when he claims he “didn’t say that” or “didn’t mean that.” Having a timestamped paper trail via WhatsApp and email to demonstrate what directions I was given has been vital to keeping my job.

    1. Mellow Yellow*

      Same here. When dealing with some people it’s a CYA tactic, with others I want to be able to reference stuff later. I’ve been a habitual note-taker since grade school so I love that most everything is done over text nowadays. It saves my hand from cramping up!

    2. SassyRam*

      I know that is one of the biggest reasons that I personally prefer text based communication. I have been burned one too many times by not having an “unbiased” reference back to face to face communication. I want EVERYTHING to be in writing that way I can prove what was or was not said.

      1. anony*

        I don’t think that’s an attitude that will fly in a healthy workplace. Some conversations need to be conversations, like brainstorming for example. You can’t do /everything/ in writing.

        1. Eliza*

          I don’t think it’s impossible if both the nature of the work and people’s work styles are compatible with it; there are certainly people who can brainstorm in a text-based chat app just as well as or better than in person. I’ve been at my current job for several years and communicated entirely through emails or text chat, since it’s the most practical way to communicate when you’ve got people from different time zones all over the world who need to be looped in on a conversation, and there hasn’t been a time that I wished I could speak to someone over the phone or face-to-face (although admittedly I have a pretty strong preference for text-based communication in the first place).

          1. Allison Wonderland*

            Yep. At my job, our work involves words. I can ‘brainstorm’ better if I can see the words in front of me. So even if someone is throwing out ideas in person or on phone/video chat, I often want to ask them to type it into to the chat so I can actually see and evaluate it. But everyone works differently, I think, so it’s good to have multiple options for communicating.

            1. sb51*

              Me too. Even when brainstorming in person pre-pandemic, I was always the person who got up and started taking notes on the whiteboard (I’d photograph it after and transcribe). Or paper. Or something.

              I won’t remember it if it’s all talk — it’s not making permanent memories, I have to have seen it to remember it.

        2. Juniper*

          Agree. I get the CYA mentality, but in a healthy workplace (emphasis on healthy, since I know many aren’t), as you note, it shouldn’t be necessary to have literally everything in writing. First, if that’s the general atmosphere, then the kind of free-flowing dialog that leads to risk-taking and innovation is likely to be impeded. Second, a good workplace will recognize that honest mistakes happen and unless they’re catastrophic or recurring it doesn’t much matter how they happened as long as they’re fixed. I heard a great quote recently: “Never explain. Your enemies won’t believe you and your friends won’t need it”. In a workplace that values its employees, you just don’t need to produce evidence to back up your version of events (and I would argue could even backfire).

          1. Mimi*

            You don’t necessary need the stuff in writing to prove your version of events, but there have been a lot of instances where I’ve been glad we hashed something out over chat or I sent a follow-up email about a conversation, just so *I* have a reference for what we agreed on or what the process should be. I won’t necessarily retain verbal details, especially weeks later, and if they’re written down, I don’t need to retain them, I just need to be able to find them again later.

          2. AnonEMoose*

            My workplace is fairly healthy in terms of my coworkers…but when I’m dealing with customers, so to speak, I want it in writing. The reason being that some of the issues I deal with can be kind of escalated, and there can be a “hear what they want to” tendency. So I want to be able to show what I actually said.

          3. Autumnheart*

            Not everyone has the freedom to only work in healthy work environments. Sometimes you have to navigate a dysfunctional workplace, because bills need to be paid and options are limited. Having tools to mitigate the dysfunction is useful.

          4. Red 5*

            I think that there’s a middle ground that people are somehow missing, I don’t think this CYA is some sort of “I’m gonna need to have my own back covered because somebody’s gonna stab it any second.”

            An example: there’s a situation I’m dealing with right now at my workplace. I’m not entirely sure how to describe it without getting in the weeds of what happened, which I don’t want to do. But the short version is that I’m in a situation where if I had only done face to face meetings, as a particular coworker prefers, I would not be able to show in any way that I wasn’t responsible for a mistake that was made. It would be my word against his, and while I know that my boss would believes me without having to read any records, it could easily become one of those open questions of “well who knows what happened, we’ll all have to be more careful in the future.” No lessons learned, no real substantial changes made. Except, perhaps, to write more things down I guess.

            Instead, because I do things over email for my own reasons (mostly because I prefer a written record that I can reference) I can show about 75% of the conversations that happened in detail so that we can see exactly where the breakdown happened, where that part of the project went wrong, and what needs to be done to fix it in the future. There’s no he-said, she-said because our managers can just read almost all of what was said. And yes, it is CYA in a way because I wasn’t the one who made this mistake and the coworker has probably forgotten they were involved, so I can show I’m not to blame. But there’s only a part of this that is about blame, I’m putting together the record of what happened so that it doesn’t happen again. Was it an honest mistake? Maybe. Probably. But do I have time to do it again? Nope.

            1. SimonTheGreyWarden*

              Yes. Several years ago I had a situation, it wasn’t between myself and a coworker but between myself and a student I was tutoring through my school. Part of tutoring here is, while I offer corrections and feedback, I always tell the students “your instructor may have other rules or requirements they expect; these are just suggestions.” I also always remind them to listen to the instructor over me; I can offer general feedback about types of assignments, but the instructor ultimately has the say over what they want.

              It wasn’t done in a CYA manner, but when the student would come and meet with me she would often spend most of our time complaining about her (entirely online) instructor, and most of it was BEC stuff. She assumed tone from all of their communication. The instructor was blunt, but none of her emails or comments were rude/sarcastic. Due to this, I was never sure the student heard all of what I said, so I would send follow-up emails to her that she could refer to and so that the next time we met I could reference them. She would also reply to these, sometimes emailing her papers, sometimes just complaining more about the class and seeking sympathy.

              When she brought one of her papers to me, she asked me after we went through it what grade I thought it should get. I do not ever answer that since I am not evaluating the work and have no control on how other teachers apply their rubrics. I told her honestly the paper had come a long way and that she should feel good about the work she’d done. When she submitted the paper, the instructor gave her a low score and said that she had misinterpreted the assignment.

              The teacher went to the Dean saying that I had told her she deserved an A on the assignment and that the teacher was “out to get her” and entirely misrepresented anything I had said about the instructor (I never speak ill of other instructors regardless of what I think of their assignments; the most I may do is say something like “I can hear you are frustrated with this assignment/this class” or, if the relationship has deteriorated like this one did, “you just need to finish the course, don’t let your feelings about the instructor distract you from that.”

              The fact that I had all the emails of our conversations where it was clear I had never told the student the things she said I did was useful; while I know the Dean believed me when I told her about the interactions, it was good to have that to provide evidence and refresh my memory.

        3. traffic_spiral*

          Well obviously not literally everything, but “not everything has to be ______” is so universally applicable a statement that it’s pretty much useless. There’s always an exception to the rule, regardless of the rule.

          However, as a rule, it’s better to have things in writing. Even in an office full of kindly snugglebunnies, memory is faulty. Also what you meant, what you said, and how the other person interpreted what you said can be three very different things. Plus you can do a group text to avoid having multiple conversations.

          1. Juniper*

            Well, the person above them literally said they want EVERYTHING in writing, so I think anony was responding specifically to that.

            1. Red 5*

              I tend to say I want “everything” in writing when what I mean is 90% of things, mostly because that’s about the only way to get people to give me 50% of things in writing. If you say “most things” they default to “not this thing, I’m sure!” So it could just be a quirk of speech.

              I can’t speak for anybody else, but I want everything in writing (including taking a TON of notes during meetings) because I have a health condition that means I have ADHD like symptoms. It’s the only way for me to be a productive and functional employee. I’ll even do that thing where I get back to my desk from a meeting and I send an email to everybody that summarizes the meeting.

              I do it because of my memory and need for organization, but you can bet it’s saved me from a few sticky situations. I think assuming that wanting everything in writing, even if you do mean everything, means that your workplace is toxic is a bit of a leap.

              1. female peter gibbons*

                i want everything in writing and i agree with you. So what if that’s the mark of a dysfunctional workplace? That’s not really the fault of the worker.

                A coworker taught me to recap phone conversations by saying I will email you what we spoke about.

        4. Akcipitrokulo*

          And then at end you send “to summarise decisions…” email.

          It’s not (necessarily) assuming ill intent. Things get forgotten or misunderstood. It’s basic good practice to make sure everyone is on same page.

          1. Juniper*

            And that’s a great way to have the best of both worlds! I didn’t get the impression that anony was against writing things down to make sure people were on the same page, only that the expectation that there should be an unbiased record of all communication as a form of “proof” is not always practical or indeed desirable.

          2. A*

            Exactly. We have meeting minutes sent out after ANY meeting we have, even if it’s just an ideation session. Not only does it serve as a CYA tool, but it also ensures we are all on the same page / places accountability on each contributor to review the notes and call out any discrepancies. If they don’t review the notes and walked away with a different understanding than the rest of the team they will be accountable in a way that is much more challenging to pin down based on he said/she said backtracking.

            I’m surprised at some of the comments pushing back on this as an unreasonable or unhealthy expectation – it’s only been beneficial in my experience. It’s not a situation of ‘have in writing via written communications only’ or ‘100% verbal without documentation’. Those are just the ends of the very wide spectrum of options available.

            1. Juniper*

              I don’t think anybody is in disagreement about the benefit of having written documentation after meetings with action points (though in my office there would be pushback against expecting written summaries after every meeting). What I’m reacting to, at least, is the implication that every discussion or decision needs or should be documented in writing. Perhaps we’re not so far apart on this as you might think, since I’m a big proponent of meeting protocols, and I always take personal notes. I can only speak to my personal experience, but as exec assistant to CEOs and govt officials, having to produce this kind of documentation for any kind of ad hoc discussion (so excluding organized meetings, of course) would indicate a level of reliance on external confirmation that just wouldn’t have flown.

              1. Perry Mason*

                I’m a big proponent of meeting protocols, and I always take personal notes.

                Ah, you are the stuff of a power litigator’s dreams.

        5. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          Everything work-related? Sure you can. And with brainstorming, I sincerely hope the team is capturing the results in writing, otherwise they’ll forget what they’d brainstormed about before the work day is over.

          With me, it’s not as much about the lack of trust as it is about the fact that everyone I work with is juggling multiple things at the same time at work (plus, I assume, multiple personal things on top of that) and will not be able to commit them all to memory at all times – I know I can’t. I keep notes for everything.

        6. Autistic AF*

          Ugh, this perspective is ableist. I need to write things down or I won’t remember anything – I have a stellar long term memory, but my working memory is poor, which is common for autism. This doesn’t mean I do everything in writing, but text-based communication removes much of that burden from me. My neurotype is not “an attitude”! A healthy workplace encourages diversity, not compliance.

          1. EH*

            I didn’t know that was a common autism trait, thanks for bringing it up. My fibromyalgia has had a similar effect on me, if I don’t write things down almost immediately I will probably forget them. I take meds for it, but they can only do so much.

            Also this: “A healthy workplace encourages diversity, not compliance.”


            1. Red 5*

              EXACTLY. There’s some abelism simmering under some of these comments that makes me uncomfortable and it would be nice if people maybe sat back for a second and asked themselves about their assumptions and where they’re coming from.

              My health issues can have similar side effects to fibromyalgia, so I’m the same. I take my meds, but I also need coping strategies and reasonable accommodations. Doing things in writing is really, really reasonable and it’s good for everybody in the end usually.

          2. Juniper*

            I can only speak for myself, but if someone indicated to me that they needed more notes/documentation than I usually provide, I would make every reasonable effort to accommodate that. To your other point, I would argue that a workplace that tries to avoid a general over-reliance on written documentation for everything does this precisely because they value diversity. This would likely have the opposite effect with regards to cultivating a compliance culture, and certainly doesn’t preclude the ability to accommodate people with more specific needs in their work contexts.

            1. Autistic AF*

              One other issue with autistic folks like myself is trouble understanding unspoken expectations. What is a normal level of written documentation for me often comes off as “over-reliance”, which forces me to either struggle with less, or take the risk of opening up about my needs and be stigmatized (like David and HR back on AAM last month). I don’t expect everything to be documented for me, I just make copious notes – I have done exactly what you suggested to address other needs and been denied, however. In my experience, a lack of written documentation has repeatedly meant “we haven’t done this thing before so we can’t now”, without actually considering said thing or its impact.

              1. Juniper*

                That’s unfortunate that you’ve had that experience. I think this really comes down to workplace culture, rather than an inclusivity thing. I myself am a fan of copious note taking, and am a strong proponent of having written documentation. At the same time, some conversations and contexts don’t always lend themselves to written follow-ups. My comments aren’t meant to deny the value of documenting important things in writing — quite the opposite, in fact! But if you feel that the workplace isn’t accommodating your needs then you absolutely have grounds to speak up.

                1. Autistic AF*

                  It’s absolutely “an inclusivity thing” – DEI is part of workplace culture.
                  Please consider the impact of your words over your intent: I’m sure you’re coming from a good place, but these comments still carry the implication that I don’t understand my experience or what to do about it.

          3. Rachel Morgan*

            For me, it’s a relict of a TBI (traumatic brain injury) that can make my memory faulty. I prefer to write everything down and communicate through email and texting/messaging for that reason.

        7. yala*

          I mean, I’ve done a fair bit of text-based brainstorming socially. My job isn’t exactly one that involves a lot of brainstorming, though, but there was definitely that pushback to the idea of having text-based conversations to keep things neutral/unbiased. Maybe it’s not really an attitude *needed* in a healthy workplace, but I also think a healthy workplace would be willing to go with what works best for communication depending on the employees.

          It just seems so much better to me, though, because you have something to refer back to?

        8. TardyTardis*

          If you had the manager I once had, you’d want something solid to back you up, too. It took two times of ‘I didn’t tell you to do THAT” for me to confirm everything by email.

    3. scmill*

      I’m retired now and in my 70’s, and most of my prior teammates communicated via txt for years pre-retirement. We could get a lot done with short messages and had a paper trail. Also, most of us worked remotely (IT) across the USA and India, and we had a LOT of design and review sessions. Multiple backchannel conversations were just the norm.

      1. Rarely do I post*

        I’m early Gen-X and some of my early jobs were phone-intensive so now I use other means when possible. Sometimes it truly does need to be a phone call vs email/text, but now that’s the exception rather than the rule. I actually miss quick office drop-ins; that’s something I didn’t do too much of before, but I appreciate their value more now.

        1. Llama Llama*

          I work at a small non-profit. I miss office drop ins so much. They were frequently used for short questions (or even long, complicated questions) at my work place. After us going fully remote I can see how bad about 50% of my coworkers are to answering internal emails or being able to fully answer questions via email. With about half the people I work with the only way to really get your question answered is a phone or zoom call because they either are overwhelmed with email and read but don’t respond or respond a week later, or only partially answer questions. Then it takes another week for follow up questions. In an office that heavily relied on verbal, in person communications the change to mostly email has been VERY difficult.

          And no, we don’t use chats. I tried to explain the value of them to senior leadership, but they didn’t understand how a chat function (in google) was different from an e mail.

    4. raincoaster*

      I’m GenX and I always prefer email/text/IM because there’s a written record of everything. I have something to check against later when I’m doing whatever we discussed.

      There’s a written record of everything in Slack too, but good luck finding it.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Also GenX and text/work chat is so much more convenient than phone or in-person. My biggest pet peeve about in-person inquiries was that, typically, a coworker would barge in when I’m in the middle of something (which of course they cannot and shouldn’t be required to know), with a burning question about some completely other thing not related to what I was working on at the moment. Then they’d stand there and wait for me to instantly pull the answer to their question out of their brain, like a rabbit out of a hat. Sorry, not happening! 90% of the time, our in-person sessions ended with me telling them I’d pull up my records/do some research and get back to them later – an answer they would’ve just as easily gotten via text or IM.

        In the before times, I did like impromptu brief in-person chats about how a coworker is doing, their family etc. But that’s probably not easily translatable to phone/video, now that we are all remote.

        1. MusicWithRocksIn*

          My biggest pet peeve is when someone fricken emails me (or responds to an email) asking me to call them, then when I call them they need some info it takes me a few minutes to frantically look up while on the phone. If they had just said call me to discuss X or I need to know Y then I could have had that info ready. I don’t mind being on the phone, but if you are gonna email me anyway things would be a lot easier if you would let me know what to have ready in that email.

          1. raincoaster*

            That is the WORST next to emails asking you to call them and you do and…they don’t remember what it was about so they waste ten minutes of your time with blather.

        2. Charlotte Lucas*

          Also Gen X & totally agree with this. My team uses Zoom chat channels now for some of these impromptu conversations, but I get so much more done when I don’t have to field random drop-ins & phone calls. (I sometimes miss the social aspects of the office & look forward to going back, but I’m hoping we move to a hybrid model of mixed in-office & WFH.)

          I should mention that writing, editing, & formatting are big parts of my job, so text-based is my thing. And I’ve worked for government or government contractors most of my adult life, which means documentation is really important.

        3. NotAnotherManager!*

          Another GenXer who would never talk on the phone, if that was an option (though if we’ve exchanged more than two messages and are not on the same page, that’s usually the best way to to resolve it). I will not use my personal text messaging for business communications because I have worked in litigation discovery and have no interest in having my phone collected and reviewed if there is ever any legal dispute related to my work. Having your phone imaged/reviewed is very invasive – it’s by far the hardest collection we have to do from both a technical and emotional perspective.

          I find it easier to search my email for historical information – with text/IM, I have to scroll and look for things, but I also work in a field where sending a short summary email to confirm plans is typical, so I don’t necessarily need all the back and forth, just the final decision.

        4. ellex42*

          I have a lot of difficulty with “switching gears” mentally, so I vastly prefer communication that doesn’t require an instantaneous response. That way I have time to finish whatever I’m doing (or find a natural pause in my work) and then find the answer. I write almost everything down to the point that I make instructions for myself and then pass them to whoever else wants them (nearly every boss I’ve had has been absolutely awful about written instructions or procedures, and the current one is, if anything, worse about it). But that doesn’t mean – as so many of my coworkers seem to assume – that the information is always on the tip of my tongue.

          I also take in information visually much better than I do aurally, so I want any instructions coming to me to be written.

          This work from home thing has been great for that – nearly all my conversations are via email or Skype/Webex text.

        5. Shan*

          I *hate* how people always seem to expect me to immediately have the answer to whatever they’re asking. Do I look like Google? Sometimes I actually can answer right away! But no, co-worker, I don’t have the entire background to some issue that we last talked about six months ago ready on the tip of my tongue, especially not when you interrupted me while I was focused on something else. And don’t stand around expectantly when I’ve bluntly told you that I’ll need to look into it and get back to you. I wish everyone would just send me an email as step one, and then we can talk about it.

          1. ellex42*

            This! This. So much this.

            Working from home has been great since it means people can’t do this to me anymore. The stupid questions that they could have answered for themselves if they looked at their written instructions have dried up too, now that I’m not beside them or across the aisle. It’s clear to me that the cause of the stupid questions was because it was easier to ask me, and now that they have to send an email or a text or initiate a call, asking me has become too much trouble.

            Also I won’t respond to emails or texts if I’m in the middle of something.

        6. Law librarian*

          Yeah, this – I work as a research librarian at a law firm and while I was expected to take drop-ins for reference interviews (and did take them) in the before times, the nature of much of the work I do is that half the time I’d end up saying “can I send you an email with some materials and links in a few minutes?” Like, I can’t fully produce a complex research strategy that will involve multiple databases and treatises in a matter of moments (and I certainly don’t want some lawyer or law student standing around watching me put it together). Even in the before times, most of my assignments came to me via email (and very occasionally by phone), which just makes vastly more sense for this type of work.

          As a side note, I’m a millennial (31) and definitely prefer text as a mode of communication (preferably email) over phone. I type very quickly and express myself well in writing, and it never hurts to have a record of a conversation I can pull up later, or save for my own reference, as the nature of my work means continual learning, and I have to know such a wide variety of stuff that it just makes more sense to be able to have my email as its own little archive of ideas I can draw on later. Plus, the CYA stuff.

        7. yala*

          “90% of the time, our in-person sessions ended with me telling them I’d pull up my records/do some research and get back to them later – an answer they would’ve just as easily gotten via text or IM.”

          That’s why I never understood the pushback I originally got to wanting to email questions etc. Because not doing so almost always meant interrupting someone, and almost always ended exactly like that, with an “I’ll check and get back to you.”

        8. Rainy*

          Same here–GenX and prefer chat or email. It’s handy to have the reminder of what we talked about etc, and I type really fast.

        1. Clisby*

          Agreed. I’m a boomer, retired 5 years from a 100% WFH job. I way preferred email/IM to phone calls. Generally speaking, I’ve never much like talking on the phone.

      2. Sylvan*

        Millennial and same here. If I have a question about something, I search for it on Teams to see if people in my department have discussed it before. When we used Slack before moving to Teams, I saved posts and messages with instructions and other info in them. It’s pretty handy.

      3. Perry Mason*

        I am an one of the oldest millennial. I much prefer phone calls and dislike texts, so several reasons.

        First, texts mask many of the vocal and visual cues that allow us to read a room.

        Second, calls provide a way to solidify warm relationships with customers.

        Third, if you need something done quickly, a call is top of mind. And email can be “missed” (either genuinely or deliberately).

        Fourth, I can plan when to take calls, whereas texts are always distracting from deep work.

        Fifth, texts are inefficient at communicating complex information.

        Sixth, you can’t subpoena an oral conversation.

        1. raincoaster*

          You don’t think so, but you don’t know as much about Anonymous as I do. Wiretapping is as old as phones.

    5. That_guy*

      I also generally prefer email and messaging, but I try to have at least one phone or in-person conversation with my regular contacts every day. It helps me feel connected to my colleagues, especially in today’s workplace where we are all constantly masked.

    6. Librarynerd*

      Yessssss. I’m a teacher and I’ve Had principals who will specifically have phone or in person conversations so we don’t have “proof” of things for the union to file a grievance

      1. Tired of Covid-and People*

        Yep, I only call when I don’t want a written record and then, don’t leave a voice mail message.

      2. PT*

        I had a job that had a compliance component, and we definitely switched to in person conversations when we were unable to meet some of the compliance standards. Ex: Fergus barely passed his llama grooming skill drill. We should suspend him pending retraining but we have no one to cover his shifts next week and we’re not allowed to cancel any grooming appointments, what’s the next best way to handle this?

      3. Self Employed*

        My landlord always wants to have meetings instead of email because he knows it’s illegal to harass people on the basis of disability (especially to see if you can irritate someone into being unprofessional and issue a lease violation for that).

    7. Snow Globe*

      The OP says that they also don’t use the organization’s IM system, which would be a preferred method for saving conversations, since it is on the company system rather than a personal one.

      1. Lyudie*

        OP says “through the chat feature in our organization’s collaboration software” which might the only corporate IM they use. My company uses Microsoft Teams for IM exclusively as well as for meetings, sharing files, etc.

        1. A*

          That was my interpretation as well (my employer also uses Teams, so maybe that colored my perspective). I would feel differently about this situation if it’s actually just text messages to work phone. If it’s via IM it’s just the most efficient method especially if you have a meeting intensive schedule. Best of luck to anyone trying to get me on the phone without booking a meeting out a few weeks in advance, usually the only availability I’ll have is in short bursts in the evening between calls with different time zones. Luckily, once people pick up on that they stop pretty quickly because even if their preference is phone over IM or email, their interest quickly diminishes when they realize it would need to be at 10 or 11pm.

          Text messages though? Totally different ballgame. I have my work phone in my line of site at all times, but I’m definitely not checking the messages while in meetings. If it’s time sensitive, they’ll IM.

        2. yala*

          gonna say, while teams is pretty good, it is a flipping PAIN that you can’t just…copy paste a whole conversation, or at least Ctrl+F in the chat to find all the relevant things.

          1. No Sleep Till Hippo*

            YES!!! I’m honestly astounded that Microsoft hasn’t implemented a “search in chat” function. That would increase my productivity way more than their creepy productivity analytics.

            1. yala*

              The other day I went and made a list of all the feedback I’ve gotten on this one project over the past year and it. Took. Hours.

              It’s ridiculous. I just wanted to be able to see everything laid out clean, but you can’t even select more than one TEXT box at once!

      2. Grace Poole*

        I definitely prefer communicating with colleagues by Slack or email, but the text message isn’t my favorite, because it takes a work conversation and puts it on my personal phone. I don’t have work apps on my phone as a rule.

        1. Llama Llama*

          I hate getting work texts to my personal phone unless that is literally the only way to reach me (sometimes it is, I often work in the field (outside in the woods) where there is enough cell service for a text but not a call/email and something important comes up.

          I also can’t get group texts or image texts on my phone when I’m at home because we have next to no cell service. so like, put it in an e mail guys.

    8. LeahS*

      I have… not the best memory, especially if I have to process information from a verbal conversation. So it is super help to have things in writing from the get go!

      1. Anonny*

        Same here, if someone asks me to do something via phone, it probably won’t get done. My brain does not process phone calls. If it’s a simple task like “take chicken out of freezer” or if I initiated the call then you might be in luck. Most workplace tasks are more complicated than that though.

          1. YetAnotherAnalyst*

            The boss’ preference wins, generally speaking. Between peers my gut reaction is that it’s going to be industry-specific, but that probably the text-preference folks win until speech-to-text tools get on par with text-to-speech. I know in my industry it would be more career-limiting to not process text well, when all the documentation is text-based, than to not process speech well for the occasional meeting. And if you’re willing and able to read a text-based blog (even if you’re always secretly wishing it were a podcast), you’re probably processing text well enough for requirements in most jobs!

          2. Anonny*

            Do you mean it’s more difficult, or do you mean the information just straight-up not go in? Because that is literally what happens with me and phone calls/video chat. I can have a conversation with someone and if you asked me what it was about as soon as I put the phone down, it would be just “I spoke with Alice about… uh… work? The address book?”

            I literally only call people for small pieces of information I need right now because of this.

      2. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        Nod. It sounds annoying to be constantly saying ” I have no idea what you said an hour ago. Can you go back over it?” But if I have a text or an email I can look without bothering anyone

      3. Jaydee*

        I think this is (at least a large part) of why I hate phone calls so much. I have to put so much mental energy into the conversation – listening, processing the words, planning a response, figuring out when it’s my turn, responding, then repeating the process for as long as the conversation lasts, all without any of the visual or other non-verbal cues that exist when you’re in-person or even video chatting. Unless it’s a very short, one-topic conversation, there’s a huge chance I forgot possibly 50-80% of what we talked about. So I try to take notes, but that further divides my focus, so now I’m capturing more information (yay!) but probably missing some information or forgetting something I was going to say (boo!). It’s a net benefit in terms of the productivity of the phone call usually. But also exhausting.

        Email and chat have their own challenges. I tend to overthink even the simplest emails, and I can click and mean to reply but then forget. But generally email and chat are much less exhausting because I only have to do one or two things at a time. Read the email and process the information. Think about my response and start typing it. And I don’t have to separately worry about taking notes because I’m creating the record as I go.

      4. aebhel*

        Yeah, same. I don’t really like talking on the phone in the first place, but just for practical things it’s a lot easier to keep track if I can refer back to previous messages. If I’m on the phone, I have to either write everything down or I just won’t really retain it, which is frustrating.

    9. HailRobonia*

      This. I like having a record of communications that I can go back to for information… and also because my previous boss had a terrible habit of making decisions without documentation (e.g. telling us verbally “we’re setting the price of X at $3000”) and we often need to figure out when the change was made, and also what the decision really was (she would then forget the change was made and accuse us of making mistakes).

    10. CheeryO*

      Yep. My boss prefers face-to-face, but I try to stick to email so I have things in writing. He loves to brainstorm and think out loud, but his off-the-cuff answers are often wrong, or he’ll contradict himself down the line and act like someone else had the original idea instead of him.

    11. Greg*

      I had a boss who was INCREDIBLY forgetful so he would task me with a project and then when it was done yell at me for spending so much time on something that was pointless and a waste of time. After the second time of getting written up I confirmed everything in writing (and then found a new job).

    12. Spicy Tuna*

      Yep. I have a bad memory too. Even if I take notes on a phone call, chances are I won’t have enough context in the notes to remember 100% what we discussed. Having things in writing helps me refer back. And I often find it helpful to have convos over text/IM so I can go refer to a document for an informed answer before responding to my boss or whoever.

    13. Lucy P*

      In our property management business, most if not all of the tenants, from early twenties to late fifties, prefer texting. They may answer the phone if you call them, but they never pick up the phone to call you unless it’s a serious emergency. They also don’t do email. If you send an email, if has to be followed-up with a text message saying “check your email”.
      On a side note, there is a manager in our office that is famous for saying “that’s not what I said” or “that’s not what I meant”. On a recent occasion, they had written instructions for a coworker, by hand, and presented them to coworker. When they fussed at coworker for not following instructions, coworker produced the manager’s written instructions. Manager took instructions, tore them up, tossed them into the garbage, and then continued to berate coworker. Thus, I see your need for a timestamped digital paper trail.

    14. Curiouser and Curiouser*

      This is exactly where I am too. I want directives in writing. I want us to agree to them in writing. I actually don’t have trouble talking on the phone or Zoom or in person, but I want those to be catchups or brainstorming sessions. If you are talking to me about a project or directing me to do something…I want to get it in writing.

    15. not owen wilson*

      I’m an old gen Z (22, just started my first post-grad job last May) and this has been my thinking as well. My working memory isn’t always the best, so it’s incredibly useful for me to have a written log of decisions or tasks I need to finish that I can reference. Plus, my manager is just stupid busy with virtual meetings right now. I don’t think it makes sense for me to add more to her plate when I can get an answer just as easily with a Teams message. This also allows her to answer it when she has time in her day. It’s worked out pretty well for me — she and I have a really great working relationship!

      1. A*

        “I’m an old gen Z (22,”

        Oh dear lord, I swear I just saw my life flash before my eyes. I’ve never felt so old. I still think of Gen Z as infants (not in an infantilizing way, I mean that I literally still think of it as the youngest generation).

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

      I’m in my 40s and I vastly prefer chat/email/or text. My memory is pretty good but it’s nice to have a reference for later — even if it’s just that we’ve already had this discussion. But also, SO SO SO MANY conversations/meetings could just be a chat/text — I don’t want to “discuss” it or need to do the dance of polite chit chat, I just need an answer so I can complete the task.

    17. Koalafied*

      Also, the busier people get, the more inconvenient/burdensome synchronous communication becomes. Texts, chats, and emails can be fired off in a spare minute in between meetings and you can look for the response later, or you can chat with someone while you’re in another meeting. Setting aside time for a f2f meeting is a big ask of someone who already has too much to do, as OP #3’s situation demonstrates.

      It may be that OP #1’s staff would love to have more sit-down/face-to-face meetings in a parallel universe where they had time for such things.

      1. Perry Mason*

        On the contrary, psychologist after psychologist has said that humans are very bad at multitasking. The phone calls is a way to focus on the task at hand.

        1. Koalafied*

          This isn’t an issue of multitasking – it’s more like only having 5 minutes free here and there unpredictably throughout the day and very few long uninterrupted blocks of time that can be used to get work done, and every meeting eats into those blocks when it could be divided up into a few minutes of email at a time when transitioning between longer blocks of work – or being stuck in so many meetings that you don’t even need to be in, where the conversation is irrelevant to you and nobody needs your input. You can work through the meeting quietly but you can’t schedule a video chat or call during the pointless meeting.

          I’m not making any argument in favor of this, by the way, I think it’s one of many terrible consequences of the squeeze to get more work out of people for less time or pay. But it is a reality for a lot of people that dedicating a half hour to every conversation where it would be helpful to have one is a luxury they don’t have.

        2. KateM*

          My mind wanders away much more probably while at phone. I tried a video course and nope, I better read the text than listen to it. CC is my friend at videos.
          Plus my cell phone makes my head ache in ten minutes.

    18. Works in IT*

      Very this. I’ve been burned So. Many. Times. By people making promises over the phone, and then either not doing them, or doing what they thought they were told to do. If it’s in email, text, or chat, no one can come back later and say but we agreed that team A would handle Llama Grooming now and have team A say no wait, all we agreed was to schedule appointments for team B’s Llama Grooming sessions!

    19. tangerineRose*

      Having a paper trail is one reason why I like e-mail (also it gives me more time to think). I’m surprised how many people like texting when e-mail is available – I can type SO much faster than I can text. Texting is useful sometimes, but it tries my patience clicking the little buttons and watching to see if it guesses my word before I finish it.

    20. yala*

      I INFINITELY prefer communicating in a written form. It’s so much easier to double-check for clarification than to trust my own memory (or even my notes), and it’s a little less anxiety-inducing because I don’t have to feel like I’m interrupting anyone (or worry that my tone will be taken as me either being aggressive or scared–tone is something I’ve always had a problem matching and reading)

      Honestly, one of the silver-linings of the whole WFH thing with the pandemic has been FINALLY being able to switch to email/chat as our primary communication. When I’d previously proposed that as a solution/accommodation, I was shut down pretty harshly. But now we do it, and it’s just…so easy?

    21. HR Survivor*

      As one who had extensive work experience before e-mail and the internet, using the phone is second nature. Snail mail, interoffice memos on paper, short notes/post-its on a hard copy document, even face-to-face conversations were the only other ways to communicate with co-workers and clients. Good phone skills were an asset. If something for which a record was needed after a phone or in-person conversation, it was summarized in a letter or memo between/among the parties. E-mail was a game-changer and provides a record (and certainly saved a lot of paper file space. I like phone conversations because it is a rapid way of communication in a back and forth manner. Questions and comments that often turn into a long e-mail thread can be answered in real time and discussion of issues and solutions are immediate. Anything for which a written record needs to exist is handled in a follow e-mail. (example: “As you and I discussed this morning, for the next month teapot handles will be blue instead of pink. You said you have an adequate supplies of blue glaze to implement this change and that you will notify the teapot handle painters about the change.”) As part of one job I held, I had to maintain regular contact with about three dozen contract sites scattered over a large portion of the U.S. Making phone calls established friendly working relationships with my contacts at the sites and proved invaluable when providing information or tackling issues. It is not easy to establish the same mutual rapport in a text.

      1. Perry Mason*

        Making phone calls established friendly working relationships with my contacts at the sites and proved invaluable when providing information or tackling issues. It is not easy to establish the same mutual rapport in a text.

        Precisely. And I suspect a lot of this pro-text commentary is from introverts and/or people who are not customer-facing.

        1. sb51*

          Or those of us who grew up oursourcing our working memory to digital copy, *and* who have worked with a lot of people that *don’t* send the follow-up email/letter/whatever, but expect us to remember a wide-ranging phone conversation verbatim. Nope. It’s gone, it’s not coming back. I’m happy to chitchat to build rapport, generally, though I’m much better at it in-person than over a phone line, but not if I need a record of the conversation.

          And I did (and was very good at) a year of providing phone tech support — but there, it was completely acceptable to tell the customer to hang on a second while you took down their details! It’s not in a lot of work context, because the other people think “this is simple, you’ll remember” and launch into a series of unrelated and complex decisions. Sigh.

          I wonder if it’s partly self-fulfilling — only the really audio-oriented/phone people want to do the phone thing now, and they’re the ones that can retain that information. And then they go faster/do not stop for those of us who need to write it down DURING the phone meeting or we won’t be able to send that after-memo. And at this point we’re just like…this could have been just the after-memo?

        2. aebhel*

          It’s not easy for people who prefer to talk on the phone to establish mutual rapport via text-based communication. Those of us who prefer text-based communication generally don’t have trouble with it.

          I am in a customer-facing role, FWIW, and I’m perfectly capable of talking on the phone, as are the OP’s reports. I still prefer text-based communication when I have the option. There’s no need to make snide insinuations about people’s social skills just because their preferences differ from yours.

    22. Allura Vysoren*

      ^^This. This. This.

      I work for a company where it’s not uncommon to have to dig through emails for something that someone said once a year and a half ago. We’ve had situations where certain members of management prefer to communicate in meetings or phone calls, and then there’s no way to prove what was said when it comes up later.

  2. A Genuine Scientician*

    I’m 40, and if I could never talk to anyone on the phone again in my life, I would prefer that. My nearly 70 year old father feels pretty similarly.

    There are some generational differences at play here; text-based communication has been fast and convenient for a much larger portion of younger people lives than those middle aged or older. (Though, in fairness, my friends and I were communicating over instant messenger programs back in high school). But as Alison says, it’s not just a generational thing. I suspect that there are a lot of people who have always hated the phone, but dealt with it because there was no reasonable alternative. Now there are.

    1. Anonymous Cat*

      Also—text and email are a life-saver if you have hearing problems.

      I use website chat features whenever possible so that I can understand, and when my parents’ hearing got so bad they were practically deaf, they would communicate by text message.

      1. Clewgarnet*

        I work with people with a wide variety of accents, some of which are very strong. Sometimes text is the best way for us all to understand each other.

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          That too. I have one myself, but I still cannot say I understand every accent under the sun, or that all my coworkers understand me.

          1. Nanani*

            Everyone has an accent. There is no such thing as un-accented speech.
            Having a different accent from people around you is one thing, but linguistically not having an accent at all is not a thing.

        2. X. Trapnel*

          I’m in my late 50’s, a Glaswegian Scot living in New Zealand and I have my own small farm contracting business.
          I much, much, much prefer dealing with clients via text. Most Kiwis don’t understand my accent so text avoids any “but you said you were coming on Monday” mishaps when I actually said Thursday but they didn’t understand my accent.
          In my experience, phone calls tend to magnify accents and I end up an unwilling player in an irritating verbal ping-pong match. This is made worse because I tend to get flustered when a phone call comes in unexpectedly and I haven’t got the information required at my fingertips. I just hate talking on phones, period, lol.

    2. Still Here*

      Yes! I prefer IM. And I am in my fifties. Voice has its uses, but it is disruptive. And I mostly dislike casual conversation via IM at work. Again, it’s disruptive.

    3. alienor*

      I’m 49 and feel the same way. Plus, text-based communication has really been around for my entire career–I got my first post-college “professional” job in 1997, and the company I went to work for already had a well-established email and instant message culture–so it’s always a little weird to me when the media, etc. present it as a millennial and Gen Z-only thing.

      1. I Herd the Cats*

        I am LOVING the discussion on here this morning re: chat vs. phone. My kids (teenagers and 20-somethings) are deeply uncomfortable with the phone — a skill I’ve told them they need to work on, because sometimes you’re going to have to call X about a repair to Y so you you can get Z working again. HOWEVER. Over the past couple of years (particularly during the pandemic) I have really come to appreciate the nuance and utility of chat and text features. Our org doesn’t have Slack, but we use chat features in various ways — chatting via Teams. Using the Zoom chat feature to ask a question or remind someone (just them, not the group) they wanted to mention A Thing on this call. Meanwhile several of us are using our own phones (most of us have each others’ numbers) to chat about things more “offline” that we don’t want mixed into the Zoom chat, or on record in Teams. Teams chat has proven particularly useful if I need to go back and check on a detail I’ve forgotten, information that I know has been shared with me before. It’s sort of replaced taking notes for me. Also, at least on my laptop (I think this is a Mac thing and not PC?) I can type all my chat on my keyboard, I’m not hunting and pecking it out on my phone keyboard. The few times I talk to my boss on the phone is when the topic is sensitive and we don’t want a written transcript. I’m a convert to these chat features, and I’m still surprised about it.

        1. Llama Llama*

          I found a contractor (like for building projects on my house) who does business basically all over texting with only an occasional phone call and it was a like finding a unicorn.

          1. Frideag Dachaigh*

            My car mechanic started offering texting recently and I LOVE it- I had a bunch of work that needed to be done, and getting a text with all of the work they were recommending and prices let me think about it, research my options, ask questions, etc in a way that if it was over the phone or in person, I think I would have been more likely to let them walk all over me or fall into a fast talker trying to convince me/confuse me.

        2. Arabella Flynn*

          It’s now a Windows feature too! Windows 10 comes with a thing called My Phone Companion that lets you access sms and other notifications on your Windows or Android phone, similar to how iCloud lets you access your iPhone.

    4. AcademiaNut*

      Thinking about it, I feel very differently about phone calls compared to something like Zoom or in person. Straight up phone calls are pretty much my least favourite way of communicating, but for many discussions being able to share a screen or write on a whiteboard makes things much more productive that email or chat, or you need a synchronous discussion.

      There are also situations where you’re discussing something sensitive, and you don’t want a written record (or crafting a written version that’s tactful and won’t cause hurt feelings or misunderstandings if it goes public takes a ton of time and effort). That’s the flip side of not putting anything in email that you don’t want on the front page of the NYT, as the saying goes – if you don’t want a conversation to go public, it shouldn’t be written down.

      1. A Genuine Scientician*

        Yes, I would *far* rather have a Zoom call than a phone call, though I understand people feeling screen fatigue.

        Talking on the phone requires enough of my attention that I can’t really do other things at the same time except walk, unlike with chat. But the lack of any facial reactions or body language means that it’s not a high enough density of information that it actually takes up all of my attention, so I get antsy and bored in a way that I simply do not in person or over video. Further, interrupting or talking over people on the phone is so much more jarring than it is in person or over video.

        I really just hate talking on the phone. I always have, even when I was a teenager.

        1. Ace in the Hole*

          It’s the opposite for me… I would much rather prefer a phone call to zoom. On the phone I can pace around, look at other things, get up to find a file, etc. On zoom, I have to sit in my chair focused on the screen the whole time. That kind of focus takes a lot of energy and makes it much harder for me to pay attention to the content of the conversation.

      2. Llama Llama*

        I must be the only person who wants to talk on the phone rather than zoom. I keep having one person want to have a zoom call with me and I’m like…before the pandemic this would have been a phone call, why can’t it be a phone call now, there are only two of us.

        My main reasons for this are:
        1. I don’t have to look at all presentable for a phone call
        2. I don’t have to stare at my screen anymore than I already have to
        3. I can pace around, stand outside on the deck, the other day I cut up vegetables to add to the crock pot and no one needs to know

        1. FlyingAce*

          I’m glad my office culture is not big on keeping video on at all times. I’ve joined many a Zoom meeting on the phone while I tend to other stuff around the house.

    5. allathian*

      I’m almost 50, and I vastly prefer text for most purposes. I’m in a good office culture so for me it’s not a CYA tactic, but it’s simply that if I need to retain anything from that convo, I need it written down. If it has to be written down anyway, why not do the whole convo in writing in the first place? At work we get all of our assignments in writing, so there’s no problem there.

      Granted, some things are usually better dealt with in person or on a video or phone call, though. I’m fine with scheduled calls, even if it’s just a quick IM: “Hi, I need your input on X, can you talk?” But I absolutely hate unscheduled work calls because they throw my focus and it takes much longer to recover, than if I’d had the warning of an IM to collect my thoughts.

      On my personal phone, I only answer calls from people on my contact list. Everything else goes to voicemail, which I rarely, if ever, listen to. If someone really needs to contact me, they’ll text. Obviously, if I’ve sent in a job application or something, I’ll answer the phone even if it’s an unknown number.

      I do text quite a lot with my friends, but when it’s not possible to meet in person, I love talking with my friends on the phone. But that’s because I rarely need to retain any particular information from the convo, and conveying emotions is more important. But if someone calls me to invite me someplace, I want that invitation in writing as well. If I have to write it down myself, I keep second-guessing myself if I got the time and place right, and I prefer to avoid that if I can. So I’ll text them to confirm if they don’t text me.

      My dad, who’s 75, absolutely hates the phone, and always has. But for most of his career, there really wasn’t any other way to reach someone quickly. We text each other. He’s not deaf, but he’s always hated calling people on the phone, especially those he doesn’t know very well or complete strangers. My mom schedules all his medical appointments for him, for example.

    6. Matt*

      This, this, this. For decades we only had two means of communication: snail mail for “slow” things and phone / personal talk for “fast” things. Now we have introduced two further “intermediate” states, email and IM/chat/whatever, and the point is that most communication falls into those. Most issues are not that urgent that they really warrant a phone call, and if it’s not necessary because of urgency, one should not force one’s coworkers to drop whatever they’re doing and talk to you RIGHT NOW, but always use the “minimal invasive” form of communication. Even if fast responses are expected in one’s culture, if it’s IM you still have at least a few minutes to wrap up what you’re doing in this moment and think about your answer. On the phone, even a few seconds of thinking seem awkward. “Hello? You still there?”

      1. Lacey*

        Yes! I’ve always hated phone calls or just “dropping by”, so when unlimited texting became a thing it was like suddenly stepping into my perfect world. So many things don’t require a phone call, they just need a little digital note.

      2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Honestly, when my family calls me on the phone, I immediately assume someone’s dead or in the hospital (as it has happened before when I’ve gotten calls from family), or a similar kind of crisis. If my boss called me on the phone without a heads-up, I’d probably assume the worst too. It really is mainly being used for emergencies at this point.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Yep. If my husband calls me, I answer the phone “What’s wrong?” Because he knows I hate phone calls, and the last time he called me, I think, was … well, my phone’s actual record goes back through November 2020, so it was before that. But the last time I *remember* him calling me was when he was in a car accident (no injuries to anybody, but he managed to total the car and take out a light post) in January 2019. :P

            1. FlyingAce*

              Lol… when I went into labor and was in the way to the hospital, I sent an email to my husband to let him know, since I knew he wasn’t allowed to have his phone with him at work. The paramedic was puzzled and asked a couple of times if I wasn’t going to call him instead.

              (He left the office and called me as soon as he saw the message, and managed to get to the hospital on time – just as well, since our son was born half an hour after I arrived!)

        2. ThatGirl*

          My mom calls me all the time just to chat, but when my dad calls, it’s usually bad news (unless it’s my birthday or something) so I definitely have a moment of dread when I see his name on my screen. There was a stretch there where EVERY time he called it was because someone had died or was dying.

          Anyway – to loop back to work, I prefer IM/email for quick and easy things, Zoom/Teams video chat for more complicated things, but phone has its place. And I’m Old Millennial at almost-40. I remember at my first newspaper job I would have AIM running which … may not have been the smartest thing, but in my defense it was an easy way to communicate with reporters and editors at our sister paper. I think my fellow, somewhat older copy editors were startled the first time I had info from someone across the river without having made a phone call.

      3. onco fonco*

        Yeah, I think there’s a lingering tendency to view IM as, I don’t know, not really a proper way to communicate compared to face to face or on the phone. Like it’s a cop-out or something, and people should just grow up and talk to one another properly. But there’s a reason lots of people are more comfortable with it! You can take a few minutes to finish what you were doing before you respond, you can think about your answer, look stuff up without an awkward silence – and if you need to, you can check back to see exactly what was said. It’s really, really useful.

        There will be times when it’s not the right medium, and we all need to learn to cope with a ringing phone (speaking as someone who hates the phone), but a lot of the time IM is great.

    7. Medusa*

      I’m a couple of years away from 40 I’m exactly the same way. I don’t think it’s generational. Some people really hate talking on the phone. My boss calls me on nearly a daily basis and it drives me absolutely up the wall. A co-worker also called me every day once we started working from home until I told her to stop. There was genuinely no reason for it and she and my boss are exceptionally long winded. Phone calls are unnecessary 9 times out of 10 and take up far more time than a quick text exchange would.

      1. AcademickChick*

        I am flabbergasted by the cross-generational preference for e-mail/txt/IM I read above.

        For me, a phone call actually allows me to focus entirely on the conversation at hand and my own tone of voice and responses without the distraction of a video screen.
        But NOTHING beats seeing / talking to a person IRL, where you get all of the cues and body language plus other subliminal signals.

        Also, I really do not like the fact that people want written accounts of everything, which I think is getting more and more common. Some things/agreements, yeah, for sure. And when issues arise, definitely start keeping records.
        But looking back, I was confused by my former bosses’ ideas and suggestions all of the time and I realize that in the end, this actually helped be figure out which of their comments made sense and which I could/should have ignored. Many jobs (ones that require some creativity and innovation and original thinking) are not about blindly following orders – and also not about waiving a “but last week you said X” in your supervisor’s face (or at least, I hope they’re not).

        1. Matt*

          I think it’s not against *any* phone call / personal meeting, but against *unscheduled* phone calls / personal meetings.

          As far as I see, anyone would agree that there comes the point when it’s time to jump on a call. It’s just about defaulting to it for non-urgent issues.

          1. Charlotte Lucas*

            It’s also about unnecessary phone calls for things that could just as easily be handled via text or email.

            I used to work with someone who used phone calls to spring unexpected requests/ideas on people. When I saw her name show up on my phone I specifically would let it go to voicemail. If it was one of her gotcha calls, she’d leave a really general message: “This is Jane. Call me back when you get a chance.” I always responded to these with an email. There wasn’t enough time in anyone’s day to listen to her “great idea,” explain why the change was impossible/ridiculous/completely against current standards, then have her argue her side while trying to get you to agree to her (often wildly unusual) point of view.

          2. MCMonkeybean*

            Yep, that’s what I was going to say. I am interested that the options the LW mentioned are basically phone or text, and I’m not sure where email falls which is definitely the main form of communication at my job.

            We definitely hold meetings over phone somewhat regularly (or Teams or Skype or whatever) but they are planned in advance. I feel like it’s almost rude now to call someone out of the blue. Less so if you are their boss of course, but even then it’s nice to send a message like “hey, do you have a few minutes? I would like to call you to talk about X.” Gives people a chance to say “sure, just give me two minutes to wrap this thing up” or even to let them run for some water or to use the bathroom if it may be a longer call.

            The only time I would call someone without anything scheduled at work is if I needed something from them fairly urgently and they hadn’t responded to previous emails.

            Honestly, even *outside* of work the only people who call me unprompted socially are generally my parents. With my sister and a couple of friends we usually schedule a time for a call to catch up.

          3. Not playing your game anymore*

            Yes. I am 60. My teenage years were spent on the phone. I LOVE talking on the phone to friends and family (when I have things set up so I can hear them) But strangers? Business calls? No thanks. Email me for longer more involved things, let me text my quick question to you. (one of the worst things to happen during the pandemic is people learning to zoom, and using it for things that used to be emailed) at the same time, one of the best things is the fact that people don’t ambush me to troubleshoot their PC when I’m on the way to the rest room. I miss casual conversations at work, but…

            It’s great to be able to look back and see that we said 10 am on the 9th, not 9 am on the 10th. To be able to confirm that I’m to let Patty A know and not Pat C. It’s not even about CYA if things go wrong, it’s about keeping the wheels on the bus.

          4. Archaeopteryx*

            Yes, basically the default should be the least intrusive/ easiest to go back and review form of communication, with a rising threshold depending on the specifics.

            FYIs, simple task discussion, confirmation of plans, etc? Email or Teams/Slack/Skype depending on the specifics. Especially for questions not needing to be answered in the next 15 minutes and which might require the person to look stuff up in order to answer.

            Issue needing immediate, realtime, possibly back and forth distance with vocal nuance? Phone or zoom is ok.

            Performance evaluation, career discussion, moderate-to-significant coaching/counseling? In-person when not in a pandemic.

            Basically, don’t default to intruding on someone via phone call if it would make them go, “This could’ve been an email .”

            1. A Genuine Scientician*

              This is a lot of why my friends and I prefer chat over calls in the first place. If we’re logged into the chat program, that’s an indication that we’re open to being pinged about something. Most of us don’t have alerts set up to let us know if we got a message when we’re not logged in, and so there’s never any expectation that someone would see it unless they were open to seeing something non-urgent then. It’s also fine for people to just stop responding when something else comes up, in a way that would be harder to do in a phone call without risking hurting someone’s feelings. Particularly as we’re no longer as deeply aware of each others’ schedules, it’s nice to not have to wonder whether someone is feeling trapped in a conversation and unable to end it easily.

              1. KateM*

                Yep, yep. My birth family is living all over country and a group chat has been for about 20 years the place to talk to each other, everyone in their own pace and availability. No need to try to remember what else I wanted to tell because I tell as soon as I want to, no real life put on hold while I chat, no awkward pauses when neither wants to hang up but there’s nothing to say anymore really.

        2. Juniper*

          Yeah, I’m surprised by how many comments are focused on this need for written accounts. Sure, it’s definitely useful to have notes to refer back to, and agreed-upon action points from meetings typed up. I’ve caught mistakes, both in myself and from others, because details were written down. So I’m not poo-pooing the importance of documenting certain types of details. But an overreliance on physical “proof” sends the wrong signals as an organization and doesn’t foster a work environment that promotes creativity and independent thinking.

          1. Birch*

            It’s not about proof or catching people in “gotcha” moments, it’s about not having to rehash all the background info or do more work. These in-the-moment phone calls are rarely catching both parties at an optimal time for focus and can be intrusive to people who need uninterrupted work time, and what often happens is that one or other party doesn’t remember or doesn’t have the needed background info handy, so you end up spending more time going back over what you wanted to talk about in the first place, and then in order to have any of the decisions documented, you have to then write everything down again. People are just saying it’s more efficient to have those kinds of conversations in text in the first place. Obviously conversations without defined action points, or scheduled phone meetings, are completely different.

            1. Juniper*

              Some of the comments have specifically referenced the need to CYA, which is why I touched on that aspect. And I would never argue that an impromptu phone call is the ideal way to hash out a complicated issue where both parties need time to prepare and set aside a chunk of time, so that part of your response I’m in full agreement with. I’m simply pointing out that there are certain types of conversations and interactions that don’t lend themselves to written mediums, or can be more productively accomplished if there isn’t the need to exhaustively detail everything. Only speaking from personal experience, I can get about twice as much done for my boss on the days when we’re in the office together as opposed to when I’m working from home. Our off the cuff conversations, poking our heads into each others’ offices, and simply being able to read his body language does more to further my understanding of his priorities and projects than any emailing or texting could.

              1. ceiswyn*

                Sure, but those are in-person interactions, not phone calls. You can’t read body language over the phone, and there’s no way to poke your head into someone’s office and withdraw again on seeing they’re busy over a phone line.

                I don’t think anyone’s arguing against in-person interactions. But phone calls are a very different beast.

                1. Juniper*

                  Fair enough, probably not the best example. But my point being that sometimes conversations (whether they happen over the phone or in-person) can be a way to quickly gain a better understanding or clarify something in a way that isn’t always possible over text or email.

                2. ceiswyn*

                  Yes, I agree that sometimes real-time conversations can be better. But phoning isn’t superior to text-based conversation, it’s just different. And in-person interaction is an entirety different beast to both.

                3. New Job So Much Better*

                  Agree. But the worst is all the required small talk with phone calls. Texts you get right to the subject at hand.

              2. A Genuine Scientician*

                On the CYA angle, my approach whenever I was in a situation I felt needed that (thankfully, my current one does not), was that I’d send an email after an in-person or phone conversation that was basically “To summarize, I should XYZ, with the goal of having A done by (date) and B by (date). Please let me know if I have misunderstood.” I’d initially done that because I worked with some absent-minded academics, but it turned out useful with the aforementioned Boss 2 for other reasons too.

                I have one family friend who is an older woman who loves long phone calls, so I suck it up and deal with them every so often because I know it makes her happy, but I still very much hate them. And I am one of those “I live alone and have been working from home for more than a year now and not seeing anyone in person” people — now that it’s warming up again I might be able to go on masked outdoor walks with some people, but I live in Michigan so winter is a thing — and I *still* hate the phone. Thankfully most of my friends are also people with a Zoom/Slack/IM preference. But I also suspect some of that is self-reinforcing. Those of us who hate the phone probably don’t have a lot of friends who love it and vice versa, because the people who love it find it a great way to connect while we don’t, and a mismatch in how you connect leads to friendships that don’t deepen as much.

                And when I say work chat/text, I typically mean Slack or Teams. I rarely send SMS texts, even to my friends, but especially work based. It’s more that the communication medium is text rather than audio.

        3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          It’s not as much “blindly following orders” as it is “adhering to the technical or business specs”.

          You don’t want the people building your health insurance apps, the software in your car, etc. to just wing it based on the best of their recollection of a talk they had a week ago. You want it to be precisely to the specs.

        4. Lacey*

          Ooh boy, I don’t know what creative jobs you’ve had, but I’ve been doing design & illustration full time in-house for 15 years and freelance on the side for 10, you need those notes when you’re in a creative job.

          You have information that has to be included, sizes that the materials must be, and, after you’ve gone three rounds over whether it makes sense to include a cartoon pig on an ad for a carwash, you’re sure going to want it in writing when the customer comes back at you angry because the pig they insisted on is a stupid idea.

          1. AcademickChick*

            @ Lacey: I might have forgotten about stuff like that. I think I tripped over the CYA tactic which I guess I read something different in. Clearly I am in academia and not in business…

    8. Rainer Maria von Trapp*

      +1 — and (Gen X/Millennial cusper here) text/chat just usually feels or turns out to be a much quicker way to communicate. There’s no small talk expectation that might come with a phone call or Zoom — it’s just right to business, get the answer, done. If I have further questions or need more in-depth info, I’ll go for a call, but otherwise, it feels more efficient.

      1. Should I apply?*

        I find this interesting as previously I would have said I hate phone calls, but I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that was most phone calls I had were with people I don’t know well, like sales people, not the quick conversations you might have in the office. Now that I have been working from home I appreciate that sometimes it is a lot quicker to have a quick call to answer a question rather than typing out a long back and forth on IM. However, almost always its starts as a question on IM, and then “are you free to talk now?”, not a random call that I am not expecting.

    9. EngineerMom*

      Me tooo! 44. Hate talking on the phone always have even when I was a teenage girl. I am very outgoing and love talking to people in person but I loathe talking on the phone. My current boss loves it. 45 minutes of a nothing chat makes him very happy. Stresses me out.

      1. Tired of Covid-and People*

        If not for the phone during the pandemic, I don’t know where I would be. I live alone, work alone at home (have for years), and phone calls have been my primary human connection for the past year. Texting is good too, but less personal. I’m glad my friends and family are not phone avoidant.

      2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        I haven’t had a home phone until I was 29. Maybe that’s why I never got into the habit of chatting on the phone for hours. When I was in college, I’d often stay overnight at my aunt’s place that did have a phone, but it was a communal apartment that she shared with three other older, single people, and the phone was in the hallway. You just didn’t hang on it for hours. My parents would sometimes call me at my aunt’s, but it was always to give a message, which they kept extremely brief, because they called long-distance from a pay phone. You had to feed that thing a new coin every three minutes or so. Not very conducive to chatting.

    10. Snow Globe*

      I prefer IM or email; for work conversations during the work day, I do not want to use my phone for texting. (I also find texting more of an interruption than email.) Fortunately, the culture in my company is also email or IM. For security reasons, we are asked not to use our phone for texting about company business.

    11. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      My mom is in her 80s and looooves to talk on the phone. To be fair, she has a flip phone that is a pain to text from, even if she knew how. I just put my wireless earbuds in, call her, and go on a long walk/do that thing around the house that’s been on my todo list for a week. She’s pretty much the only person I have long phone conversations with. My adult chidren and I text/chat/skype.

    12. CheeryO*

      Phone skills are also use-it-or-lose-it, I think. I’m in my early 30s and talked to my friends on the phone non-stop as a younger teen, until texting became more ubiquitous when I was in high school. I more or less stopped talking on the phone, and now I hate it. If I get into a stretch where I’m making a lot of phone calls, they start to feel less bad, but I still prefer email/text.

    13. Dezzi*

      Phone calls stress me out so much!! Honestly, if I could get away with it, I’d change my voicemail to say “Hi, you’ve reached Dezzi’s voicemail. It’s 2021, so I’m probably not going to hear your message for at least a week, please hang up and text me like a normal person. Thanks!” :P

      1. Just no*

        I don’t think there’s anything wrong with doing this! I called someone recently whose VM prompt said something like, “Hi, you’ve reached Dezzi. If you need a fast response from me, please send me a text, and I’ll be able to respond much more quickly.” I thought it was great.

      2. Salsa Verde*

        Ha – one of the characters on a show I watch has that as her voicemail message – Hi, this is Laurel, you can leave a voice mail but I probably won’t listen!

    14. Slipping The Leash*

      Oh my lord yes. I’m 50. In the early weeks of Covid no clients could be sure what phone number to use to reach people — the office? the cell? A mystery! — so they just emailed us, and the habit stuck. Glorious, blissful silence from my phone. Rings maybe once a day. Plus when I answer the dumber questions I tend to get, the client has a record of my response and hopefully will use that as a reference instead of calling again with “I know you explained this the other day, but….”

    15. Sparkles McFadden*

      I agree. I have always disliked the phone for a variety of reasons. Even when I do need to have a conversation by phone, I schedule it with a text message: “Is now a good time for a phone call?” That way, everyone is prepared for a conversation.

      That said, if a text or email thread goes on too long, I make sure to speak via phone or (in the before times) face to face. The downside to text and email is that there’s no nuance and people can take some texted statements the wrong way.

  3. voyager1*

    LW1: Some other things to consider why text/chat is more popular. It provides a record.

    Also as more companies use software like Teams and Slack, people are just getting more comfortable with it.

    Lastly I like using chat with my boss so I can send her things without actually disturbing her. I can see if she is available or in meeting or do not disturb, via chat and then not worry as much about sending that chat vs a actual phone call. So I am using the chat more out of respecting my bosses time so to speak.

    Hope this helps.

    1. Anonymous Cat*

      +1. “Without disturbing her”

      It’s odd but nowadays it feels almost intrusive to call anytime. With a text or email, they can answer when they have time and not just because the phone rang.

      (And yes, there was always that option before but people still rushed to answer a ringing phone! )

      1. Lilli*

        If the phone rings and the person doesn’t leave a voice mail I have no way of knowing what they wanted to talk about and how long the actual phone call might take. So I don’t really know if I have time for that particular call before I call back and ask what they wanted to talk about…

        (And I really don’t like knowing that someone wants to talk to me while not knowing what they want to talk about…)

        If someone sends me a question via e-mail I can think about the answer before I reply, so it’s more efficient than answering a missed call.

        1. Tired of Covid-and People*

          I don’t answer missed calls without messages. Why would I? Must not have been important.

          1. sacados*

            Exactly. If it’s a missed call from someone that I know, but they didn’t leave a message, I’m much more likely to just text back with something like “hey sorry I missed you, what’s up?” rather than calling them.
            (If it’s a situation where I literally just missed picking up the call in time, then I might call right back but that’s about it.)

          2. Archaeopteryx*

            Yes I’m in my early 30s and no one I know my age or younger returns missed calls with no voicemail. I’ve been repeatedly and openly baffled when my parents do that. If it’s important/not spam/not a misdial they would’ve left a message!

      2. pleaset cheap rolls*

        I’m on the oldest side of Genx and very rarely text in my personal life.

        But at work, our internal chat system (on MS Teams) is much more effective than phone calls for most quick stuff. And if we need to, we can turn a chat into a call.

        Even when we know a call is needed, we’ll chat “Can I call you?” (for a quick one) or “I’m sending an invite for…” for a longer scheduled piece.

        Adding to @Lilli – some people where I work do call (on Teams, not phone) and don’t leave a message. I know it’ll be a short convo, since they would have scheduled it if it wold be longer. So I’ll either call back OR chat “Can we talk at 430” or whatever.

        Oh – to the old Gs here. For internal conversations, email is usually the worst option. We use chat for informal stuff and posts for more formal stuff within particular teams/channels on MS Teams.

      3. katertot*

        Yep- this is exactly why I use text/chat as well- I can send my boss something as an FYI or just when she gets to it, that wouldn’t be the case with a phone call or video chat. Our 1:1’s are still on Teams video calls so we have that face time, but with how much she and I communicate, we’d be calling each other alllll the time for little things. Also to someone else’s point, having her responses in chat is something that I can refer back to- not as a CYA, but in case she sent over document changes or something in chat vs. email then I at least have it to refer to.

      4. Cat Tree*

        I have two brothers and one prefers text while the other prefers phone calls. It’s much harder to stay in touch with the phone call. Phone calls ARE intrusive. He called a few weeks ago and I couldn’t answer because I was in the middle of something. Sure, he left a message. But I know that he will only be able to answer during a small window of time (his commute) because he also won’t be able to drop everything he’s doing to pick up the phone. I can’t call him while he’s working, or having dinner with his family, or before while he’s getting ready, or after dinner when he’s getting his kids ready for bed, and certainly not at night while he’s sleeping.

        So can either set myself a reminder so that *I* can drop everything and call him when I know he’s available (which often includes rearranging my own plans so I can be available then). Or I can call and leave a message and then he can call and leave me a message and around and around. The third option is to keep intending to call back but never actually doing it, which is where I am now.

        My other brother texted me around the same time, and over the course of a day we gave each other life updates.

        1. Emma the Strange*

          Out of curiosity, is there a reason you couldn’t schedule a regular catch-up phone call? I do this all the time with my family?

          1. Cat Tree*

            Well, our lives aren’t interesting enough to warrant a standing weekly or even monthly standing phone call. For the one-offs, I would love to preschedule first through text, but then he would actually have to text.

        2. Koalafied*

          It’s similar for me with my parents. My mom is more proactive in general and will call from time to time when there’s a lot to say, but she’s comfortable with texting which means we’re in pretty frequent contact. There are so many little things/updates that are interesting enough to send a text but not worth clearing 30-45 minutes for a phone call (because that’s how long they will end up taking regardless of the original purpose of the call). My dad only really does voice calls and I pretty much only talk to him about 5 times a year on major holidays and birthdays.

    2. GammaGirl1908*

      In addition, a phone call requires us both to be available at exactly the same moment and for exactly the same length of time. A text means that I can send it when it’s convenient for me, and you can reply when it’s convenient for you. This is the reason I prefer text. Calls have to happen in real time. I absolutely hate having to drop everything to answer the phone when the conversation could have been had over text at more of our mutual convenience. Obviously I don’t always drop everything, and I let calls roll to voicemail (note: I DO hate listening to voicemails), but if I know it’s my boss calling, I feel like have to drop everything.

      1. Still Here*

        I hate of voicemail of the “Call me when you have a moment, I have a question” variety. All of a sudden the onus is on me to follow up with you. My usual response is to send an email: “Hey, got your voicemail, what’s up?”

        1. GammaGirl1908*

          OH MY GODDESS YES. You don’t even tell me what you want in the message so I can be prepared when I call you back. You deserve a written message in return.

          Or even worse, a voicemail from a friend saying, “Didn’t want anything, just saying hi.” GAAAHHHHHH. Thank you for wasting my time twice not to have wanted anything.

          (Obviously I am delighted to hear from my friends, but not leaving a message is what would have let me know that you didn’t want anything. Instead, I had to consider answering the call, and then I took the time to listen to the voicemail.)

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I agree this is annoying and it would be better for people not to do it, but it’s a pretty common thing in a business context, especially when you’re dealing with senior people, and it’s better for your quality of life to just roll with it than get stressed out by it.

            1. allathian*

              This depends a lot on the culture of the organization and on the job. In my current job, I’ve never had a phone call from an exec, and I wouldn’t expect to. I do get assignments from them sometimes, but always in writing. I have a company-issued phone but that’s mainly for emergencies, I get maybe one call a month, if that. I only used it to call my former manager when I was taking a sick day, because she wanted to be informed by phone. My current manager prefers to get such messages by email or text, which is what I also prefer.

              I do a lot more voice calls on Skype, but they’re far less anxiety-inducing, because very few people call me out of the blue, most check with me on IM first. I also prefer calling others on Skype if possible, because then I can see if they’re busy. Some of our offices have also been remodeled so they’re activity-based, and if you’re sitting in a quiet area, phones must be silent. Of course, now that most of us are WFH this logic doesn’t apply, but it’s helped to eliminate the expectation that people are always reachable by phone.

              1. anna banana*

                But are you yourself senior? The more senior my job gets the more I get calls like that. It’s not worth freaking out about. Jeez.

            2. EPLawyer*

              GRRRR. It’s polite to give some context. Just “please call me back, I have a question” doesn’t really help someone prioritze the call. If you get even 5 phone calls a day from people leaving that message, how do you decide whether this ia drop everything and return the call thing or it can wait for a convenient time.

              I get clients who do that all the time. So I call back and find out … they just wanted to know when the next hearing is. You could have emailed that question.

              Phone calls are intrusive. Even if you let it go to VM, unless your phone is on silent, you still hear the ringing and it interrupts your focus. IM, email are much easier on the work flow. Unless it is absolutely urgent — Wait weren’t the teapots supposed to be GREEN not red? We just painted 200 of them red before someone noticed, what do we do? It can be an email, or an IM.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                I don’t disagree. It’s better to give some context. My point is that it’s not worth stressing out when people don’t. Some of the reactions I’m seeing here seem bizarrely overblown and frankly a little self-indulgent (not all of them, but some). Whatever anyone’s personal preferences, it’s far better to be able to just roll with this in a business context (and if you don’t need to in a current job, be aware you might need to in a future one).

          2. Pennyworth*

            I don’t use my phone much for work, but for my personal phone I have always used voice to text for incoming calls and have never used voicemail at all. Is that something that would work in an office setting?

            1. Salsa Verde*

              I find that this feature is absolutely terrible for me. Every voicemail to text I get is so misinterpreted as to be at least partly unintelligible. And that’s from human professionals (dental office) as well as computers (prescription notifications) to my mom’s elderly accent. I’ve been using Google Voice – is there a better tool?

              1. nonegiven*

                I found that with GV, I could get the gist by context and guess, and usually only need to listen to the vm if I needed to call a different number that was given in the message. It seemed to get better at southern accent and I was donating calls to them.

            2. Koalafied*

              The president of my company has a last name that is basically one vowel sound away from a coarse word (not profanity – similar to if his last name was Fort, which is one vowel sound away from Fart). Every time I get a voicemail from him or somebody else that mentions his name, auto-transcribing never fails to take his name down in the transcript as “Wakeen Fart” instead and it cracks me up every time.

          3. Crowley*

            God, if one of my friends called and I missed it and they didn’t leave a voicemail I would assume something was wrong! I’d far rather they left a message.

        2. Matt*

          This so much. If the Unscheduled Phone Call is the Seventh Circle of Hell, this is easily the sixth.

          Even if it’s not a voicemail, but an IM. Suddenly it’s me who is obliged to follow up with you. Please give me at least the slightest hint what it’s about.

          1. RabbitRabbit*

            We’ve been getting emails wanting to set up a meeting, lately. Zero topic what it’s about. (Or if there is, it’s about “llama grooming” when yeah, that’s all we do. Have we seen this llama before, what in particular were you wondering about, etc. etc.?)

        3. Juniper*

          And then I would respond by calling you back. If I’ve called you in the first place, there’s a reason for it. Either it’s sensitive and not something that necessarily should be written down, or because it requires a lengthy explanation with the opportunity for on-the-spot discussion. If people are leaving these kinds of vague voicemails on the regular, then I get that it’s annoying (especially if it’s just for a simple question). But for some people the phone call is intentional and an email response just prolongs the back-and-forth.

          1. Your Local Password Resetter*

            All the more reason to tell people what it’s about in the voice-mail.

            That way people know that this requires a conversation, and they can prepare themselves for that important and/or complicated issue.

            1. Juniper*

              Oh, I agree. Only that sometimes people forget, or have several points to discuss, and my point was the responding by email doesn’t necessarily help move the process along.

              1. nonegiven*

                At least tell me in the vm, if you want me to call to visit with you about family business or if you want me to call because you need me to drive you to the emergency room, Mom. Don’t just say, “It’s just me, call me back.”

        4. Archaeopteryx*

          Yeah if you have a question (especially at work), TELL me either what it is or what it’s generally regarding before you call or (worse) mysteriously ask me to call you.

          “Call me when you get the chance” in your personal life usually means someone’s in the hospital or something. It doesn’t become less stressful at work.

          1. Archaeopteryx*

            *unless, as noted above, you’re my boss or higher, in which case of course I’ll do it. But if you’re, say, on another team and have a question? Context!

    3. Keymaster of Gozer*

      I work tech support and absolutely hate using the phone. I can give a stand up talk to a lecture theatre without any fear, I’ve never worked first line, but I can read far faster than anyone can talk.

      So at work I prefer to use a text format. Slack is great. It avoids the ‘dead air’ bit when I’m on the phone and trying to think, it gives me a reference point to the start of the conversation if I go off track (which I’m prone to), makes it easier to share a file/link/image/reference/bit of code with someone, avoids the stammer I have when I get stressed, and generally makes it a lot easier to avoid misunderstandings.

      Unless it’s sarcasm of course. That doesn’t come over well in text.

      (Gen X, will happily never talk on a phone if she could get away with it. Am professional when I do though)

    4. Detective Amy Santiago*

      My boss has to be on a lot of calls, but she’d not always required to be an active participant in those meetings, so she is sometimes able to be responsive to instant messages while she’s listening in on something else.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        Many a time I’ve been on a conference call and been solving one issue via email and chatting to a friend via slack at the same time.

    5. Beany*

      I like something like Slack, Teams, or e-mail for the “record” part, but actual phone text/SMS less so. How do you integrate it with your work records & documentation?

      I also hate text-speak, emoji, predictive text, and the truncated mobile keyboard. I need the larger canvas of a proper computer interface to work properly.

  4. moress*

    I would almost never initiate a phone call with my bosses just cause I find it intrusive and I don’t know if my boss is free enough to talk with me at that time, so text, email and chat is my go-to. They can take their time to respond to me at their own pace which I find easier on my conscience that I don’t disturb them unless it’s really an emergency.

    1. Double A*

      When I initiate a call I… first send a chat to find out what a good time to call is. Calling out of the blue would be VERY out of step with our company culture.

      1. moress*

        I do that too when it calls for it depending on the urgency of the situation. Plus I know my bosses are always swamped with virtual meetings here and there and sometimes can’t answer my phone. Also like those comments above, I do text what I would be discussing about like, “Hey boss, can I call about project y?” Now it’s on them if that’s priority enough to call as soon as they are free or put it on hold for the next day.

      2. Indigo a la mode*

        Same here. I find it a little unsettling when someone Teams-calls me out of nowhere. Especially since that involves video! It’s funny, I wasn’t nearly as weirded out by someone showing up at my cubicle in the office, but this feels more like suddenly knocking on my front door.

        Even with my closest teammates, we always send a quick “Got a minute to talk about X?” chat before we call.

        1. Coenobita*

          Same! There is exactly one person at my job who I have a impromptu-video-call relationship with – if anyone else video calls me without checking in first, my immediate assumption is it’s a butt dial or some other kind of mistake.

          I’m in my mid 30s and personally I enjoy talking on the phone, but I do prefer calls to be scheduled or to be prefaced with a quick “hey, want to chat about X” message. I don’t even call my best friend for a social chat without checking in first to make sure it’s a good time! I guess I like how the modern workplace makes a lot of communication tools available, to use in various combinations for various purposes.

      3. Sylvan*

        Now that I think about it, same here. We always let each other know that we’re going to call, even if the call is scheduled.

      4. CRM*

        Same here! It is especially the case now that we are all working from home because you can’t just stop by someone’s office to see if they are free. We are very reliant on slack, and I personally prefer it that way (as others have mentioned, its nice to have a track record of conversations in the event of a miscommunication).

    2. Frankie Derwent*

      Same. I agree with Alison on this:
      “maybe it’ll turn out that they think of calling or stopping by in-person as more of an interruption to you”

      I only call when it’s something that only requires a lot of back and forth, and only after I text if it’s a good time.

    3. Cheerfully Polite Grey Rock*

      This is also me, my manager has a lot more meetings than I do and I don’t want to interrupt when are in the middle of something which is almost certainly more important. I don’t seem to have this problem in person, but I think that’s because it’s easier when you can see that they’re between tasks and more likely to be free for a quick question.
      There is also very little in my job that needs an answer Right Now, so I generally just fault to email/chat message and they can respond when they have a moment.
      Also there are plenty of people with phone anxiety, particularly as phonecalls just aren’t as prevalent nowadays with so many other options.
      If your team are happy to chat by phone or face to face when you initiate it OP, I wouldn’t worry about it. It sounds like they simply have different preferences when it comes to communication, and that it isn’t impacting on their work or relationships.

    4. CCSF*

      I do this with my bosses and with my 25YO daughter who has an active social life. I love talking with her, but I can’t think of the last time I called her unannounced.

      She’s also a teacher, so no calls during the workday so I let her call me or I’ll text to see if she’s available before calling. I work from home and have a more regular/scheduled social life (book club on Tuesdays, volunteering on Wednesdays, etc.) so I’m almost always available when she calls.

    5. twocents*

      Same! If I need to call and speak to my boss, something is up. Otherwise, if it’s too long/complicated for a quick IM, it’ll wait for our one on one.

    6. Lizy*

      This. My boss is constantly on the go and in meetings. My preferred method is email. I’ll text if I need a more immediate response or if I want to include him on communication with staff that don’t use email. (I know… that’s a thing?? But they’re fuel drivers so yeah – they’re not sitting there checking email every minute)

    7. Daisy-dog*

      +1 – My boss is always in meetings – and those meetings often run long (sometimes an hour or more – why those meetings aren’t scheduled for longer is a mystery to both of us). If she isn’t in meetings, she is often on unscheduled calls for any number of issues/projects.

      My mom also doesn’t call me (except in an emergency) – she’ll text or send an email. She lets me call her when I want to.

    8. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      I’ll just text, email, or IM “Requesting a callback re: Work_Issue” or “re: Private.” Then I’ll let my supervisor call me at their convenience.

    9. Texan In Exile*

      I also would never call without checking first, which is a huge change in how business was done when I started my career. We were so happy to get voicemail because that meant we didn’t have to rely on what the receptionist had written down.

      Someone at my new job called me out of the blue and I was really annoyed! Turns out he was trying to sell me something.

  5. voyager1*

    LW5: I work in a bank. Using a login for someone else would get me fired.

    More then likely though she just wants you to do the work. Which is not cool.

    1. The Dude Abides*

      Seconding this. Used to work at a CU, and saw people fired on the spot for this exact reason.

      1. anony*

        At both my last 2 jobs people shared passwords all the time, not for logging into our computers but for stuff like outside services. Some offices are very rigid about it but not all are.

        1. On a pale mouse*

          At my current job there’s one system that I will log into for a co-worker to use because they are inexplicably slow to set up access for people who move into this area. It’s bad practice, and we’re not supposed to, but it’s temporary and I’m usually there while they’re using it. I have other passwords that I would share with my boss in an emergency (though it’s not likely to happen). I have a security system code that I won’t share with anyone (when I got it I signed an agreement that they can terminate me if I do). There are different levels. For a government owned system, I’d err on the side of never share unless specifically told otherwise by the managers of that system.

          1. jasmine*

            Yeah, I’d never, ever give someone a password for a government owned system. Unauthorized use of a computer system can be a felony under federal and state law, and some people have been prosecuted for fairly insignificant actions.

          2. ellex42*

            I let a coworker use my log in for a couple of days – with our immediate manager’s permission – because contract employee’s log in credentials have to be renewed each year (usually around their start date), and sometimes it’s hard to get the over-boss who has to give the official permission to IT to do it in an timely fashion, and sometimes it’s hard to get IT to get it done. My coworker was locked out of the system for an entire week because multiple people were on vacation at the same time and apparently no one who was left could give permission or renew the credentials.

            To be honest, I’m not sure anyone noticed. But technically, it’s supposed to be a firing offense because we have access to a lot of our clients personal information.

            1. Krabby*

              I think the “with our immediate manager’s permission” is the key here. LW could even shove it back to the manager and say, “since it’s policy, I don’t feel comfortable giving it out, but if you can get Boss’s written okay I’ll gladly share it.” Then it’s on the co-worker to get permission, and the manager to shut it down (or not) as they see fit.

      2. On a pale mouse*

        Yeah, firing offense in many places, and since the system is managed by the government, that just increases the possibility that sharing your password is a criminal offense too. Don’t do it! (Whether it actually is criminal or not depends on what government this is, and other details, but really the answer is don’t do it regardless.) As Alison said, if the people who are supposed to handle it aren’t responding, she needs to escalate through her management. You say sorry, I can’t share my password and I don’t have time to keep doing that work for you, you need to get your credentials sorted.

        1. Mockingjay*

          Exactly this! I log into Government systems in my job and there’s been a real crackdown lately on monitoring credentials and proper access.

          Don’t do this.

          1. No Name #1*

            I did a social work field placement at a mental health day program and it was really important not to share log in credentials with anyone. It’s a major issue with HIPAA and every HIPAA compliance training I have completed has gone over the importance of not sharing login credentials with colleagues. Most of these trainings even have a quiz question similar to LW’s situation where a coworker asks to borrow another employee’s account and the answer always involves telling the colleague that they should speak to management/IT if they are having issues with their account.

            I think the LW would have stated if they were working in a healthcare setting bound by HIPAA but I am bringing this up because there are reasons for companies having these policies. It’s a major confidentiality issue. Once a colleague has your log in information, who is to say that they won’t tell other people or write it down so that they can continue to use the account without your knowledge? And it’s unreasonable to have to change your password constantly because someone needed to use your account. I agree 100% with Allison’s suggestion to tell the coworker that it’s against the company’s policy and that the policy exists to prevent unintentional privacy violations.

            1. No Name #1*

              Also, as other comments have suggested, this is a serious issue on multiple levels and I do think that LW needs to alert her manager.

            2. Artemesia*

              It is often really hard to get fired for being lousy at your job but there are a handful of behaviors that can have you ought the door in a trice. They are usually clearly documented unlike ‘lousy at job’. They include any time sheet irregularities and sharing logins. I saw a long term employee who was considered important to the organization come within a hair of being fired for time shifting on time sheets — no cheating, just a rigid system that made it hard to manage limited comp time — only the aggressive support of the boss kept them from being fired. And it is easy to refuse because it is against policy; you just have to do it.

        2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          Agreed. I have access to a few government maintained and monitored programs – and they all explicitly state that only you may use your credentials. They all also have a “click here/call this number” to get assistance if you have been locked out of the system.

          Your coworker needs to get this sorted out and use their own credentials. You have said it yourself, you are too busy to do their work for them.

      3. Lady Meyneth*

        Back when I was a naive 23yo in my first real job and offering my login and password to my boss. She was having some big issues with her account, IT was dragging their heels to fix it, she needed something done urgently, and I had to leave a little past end of shift for an appointment and couldn’t stay to do it/login for her.

        I still remember the horrified look she gave me, before telling me to go just ahead to my appointment, and they’d figure something out. She explained the next day that, very kindly, that IT issues weren’t mine to solve and even if the document was sent late (and it was!), my login was mine and sharing it could get me into serious trouble. That’s one conversation that’s served me most well in my carreer.

    2. ceiswyn*

      Also, if your colleague uses your login details and anything goes wrong, any auditing the system has will lead back to you.

      1. Chinook*

        This to me is the practical reason for personal logins and not sharing them – auditing. I even insisted on getting one when I covered in my mother’s store for 2 weeks. I could have used her login (heck, I was doing her IT support at the same time and ev. Had the store keys), but I wanted my own so that, if there are issues, they can be tracked back to me and not someone else. There was no practical CYA aspect, just good business practices and habits.

        But, I am also paranoid enough to wonder why I coworker keeps needing MY login – are they trying to cover their tracks or blame something on me? Have their credentials been limited for a reason and, by giving them my credentials, they are able to do that thing they have been locked out of doing? And what confidential to me information do they have access to as me?

        The last point gives me flashbacks to when I was required to give everyone who covered the reception desk my login and a coworker who was rude and nosey found the email to my boss from me about her behavior and complained about me complaining about her. She had found it by digging through my emails where I had filed it in the same “personal” folder that contained pay cheque information. It was a final straw that had me immediately quit mid shift and onjy tayed when they guaranteed me my own personal login (which everyone else in the comoany already had).

        1. Code Monkey, the SQL*


          I work in Data (see the name). There are fields where sharing logins is a Fireable Offense, no second chances, and where it’s just not recommended, and everywhere in between. But it’s never something that should be the default solution to a problem, and audit and security are two of the most important reasons why.

          If a co-worker works under your name, there is literally no way to separate what they did in the system and what you did. And while that might not be a big deal for you, or for them, it can become one in the blink of an eye or the click of a mouse. Please OP, don’t let your co-worker log in as you – insist they sort out their access issues with the proper people.

    3. allathian*

      Yeah, this. Our security is very strict about this, and using someone else’s login and password would get you fired instantly and the person whose login and password you used suspended pending an investigation. If they handed over their login and password voluntarily, they’d also get fired, if it was due to carelessness, they might get fired but more likely put on a PIP. It’s just not okay to do under any circumstances.

    4. pleaset cheap rolls*

      I work in a much less formal organization, and no one would be fired for this for innocuous reasons. The OP is in government, so probably closer to the bank in terms of strictness, but just sharing another data point.

      That said, the OP’s colleague is either lazy or incompetent. A YEAR. That person should be escalating this. It’s absurd and unacceptable.

      1. identifying remarks removed*

        Yes – I had new coworker who was supposed to get system access to be able to create ID Cards. He kept telling me he was in the process of getting access so all the ID requests had to be sent to me in the meantime. Usually only takes 2-3 days so after 2 weeks I was pretty sure he was lying. I escalated to our supervisor saying I was concerned he was having so much trouble getting access – turned out coworker didn’t think he should have to do that part of the job and had never submitted the request. Supervisor was not impressed and coworker’s probation period was extended. Lazy and stupid – not a winning combination.

        1. Slow Gin Lizz*

          This ties in nicely to the letter from…was it yesterday?…where Alison recommended giving your coworker the benefit of the doubt when they did things you suspected were foul play. Or at least appearing to give coworker the benefit of the doubt, even in cases like this where you suspect coworker is lying.

        2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          We briefly at my current job had him – he didn’t make it to six months because of those stunts.

      2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Hard agree. I’ve dealt with a few slow IT departments in the past (normally only slow because the were understaffed for the amount of work they had to do), but a year is beyond reasonable. Something is going on, and it seems really suspicious.

      3. Anon Dot Com*

        This. Even if it would be totally fine for LW to share their login, it’s not their problem to solve. The coworker needs to either figure it out, or loop in their manager for help. (Personally, I suspect the coworker is trying to pass of work to LW and they have not actually been trying very hard to get IT support.)

      4. LavaLamp*

        Same, at my old place the program we used gave you extra logins for new people/temps so it would be stamped with my login name, but it would record that it was like Lava2 instead of LavaLamp. Plus we initialed all our work so if something came back we could see who actually did it and hand it off to the right person/handle it ourselves if that person wasn’t around anymore.

    5. Allie*

      I just received an IT Security training at work and we were specifically given this as an example of what not to do. Like down to the “I’ve tried resetting my password and it’s not working” details.

    6. We're in IT together*

      LW5. As an IT person of many years, I would report you to your manager and HR for this. If anything happens as a result of them logging in, YOU are responsible for this security breach. Anything done with your Login details attached is your faultas well, no matter who has done it.
      I would change your password now in case she has seen you inputting it then contact whoever assigns Logins to say that hers needs a new password or whatever so this is officially logged in the system. If she then uses your Login after this, report her.
      You may think I’m being over the top but this is the classic way that malicious damage and sabotage is done to a company, if she is that bad and gets a hissy fit or decides to quit – what damage could she do using your login ? People have been jailed for letting other people use their Logins. Don’t let her and CYA by notifying people she needs her own resetting.

      1. Here for the Randomness*

        Second this. Report this to their manager. It is a government system, so they are risking your companies contract with the government that allows use of that system.

      2. teapot analytics manager*

        also if she is asking to share your login, then there’s nothing stopping HER from sharing YOUR login to someone else, since she doesn’t take security seriously.

        It’s not just her making errors or doing unauthorized things you have to worry about – it’s anyone else that she decides to give the access, either on purpose or through carelessness.

      3. Bagpuss*

        My reading of the letter was that LW had refused to share her log in, despite repeated requested, but I agree that it is something she needs to report to her manager – the fact that the co-worker is putting pressure on LW to break the policy despite having been told no, is an issue, and if there is a genuine problem with coworker’s access then that’s something her manager needs to be aware of.

        I do agree that OP should change her log in if she has any reason to think coworker may have been able to see what it is.

        1. Expelliarmus*

          Yeah, my understanding was that OP had been using her own credentials to do what her coworker was asking her, but has repeatedly refused to use the coworker’s credentials.

      4. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Honestly I would take a slight benefit of the doubt approach, and email supervisor saying that “Coworker still is having access issues, and has been for a year. I of course am not letting them borrow my codes, but I am now too busy to keep doing X task for them. Can you assist them in getting this untangled?”

        Gets the information to the boss, makes you look like a security conscious team player, but mostly lets the boss know that coworker hasn’t been doing the job, and you’re done bailing them out.

    7. Cat Tree*

      I work in a highly regulated industry, and sharing login credentials is considered fraud because it looks like the work was done by a different person. The first lesson on Day 1 is the importance of our signature, which includes electronic signatures. Sharing info is one of the few things that my industry that is immediately fireable. If regulators think we are playing fast and loose with e-signatures, they really can’t trust anything we show them.

      I also used to work in a different industry and had a security clearance. Sharing logins there was also really bad for a whole host of other reasons.

      1. pleaset cheap rolls*

        I work in an industry where sharing logins for a short period of time is no big deal. Just another data point.

        consultinerd gives some good perspective at 11:45 today.

    8. Texan In Exile*

      There was a county clerk in Wisconsin who had all three of her subordinates using the same login to get into the voter system – the place where voters are registered and sent absentee ballots. I was sickened at the thought that she thought this was OK.

      She didn’t even lose her job over that! It took, IIRC, her using her own system of handmade spreadsheets for vote tracking instead of using the system the state-wide elections commission had established – and her reporting her county’s votes incorrectly – for a furor to be raised.

    9. consultinerd*

      Great policy for a bank. Great policy for HIPAA data or election systems or judicial records. Dumb policy for a lot of mundane, non-private systems.

      I do government consulting work and there are data resources we depend on for projects are administered by people who go months without responding to email/phone calls. Or the position responsible for a system is unfilled, or the person is out on leave, or someone has an arbitrary policy that they only give one credential per vendor. We could waste weeks of progress schedule trying to wrestle a credential out of the bureaucracy… or the boss can say “here’s the login, get it done.”

      Not saying this is necessarily LWs situation, but some contextual judgment (preferably from their manager) is in order here.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        I’m going to include FERPA as well for everybody best have their own account/login.

        FERPA stands for Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act, and covers who and when students records can be disclosed to – or even who a school or university can talk to.

    10. Momma Bear*

      Also, anything done while someone is logged into your account is traced to you, not them. I would not do it and I would shut her down hard if she ever asks again. Her inability to get her account sorted after this long is not your problem.

  6. PspspspspspsKitty*

    LW 5 – In my industry (food production) you can get fired for sharing log in credentials. In some cases, there can even be legal ramifications. You can tell her to escalate it to the manager. If she did, you can go to your manager yourself and tell her that your coworker keeps asking for your login credentials for a year.
    My go to when someone asks me to do something against the policy, I ask them to send me an e-mail with the request. However, I only use this when they aren’t taking my “No” as end of discussion.

    1. MJ*

      Yes, if they can’t log into the system, maybe there is a reason why they can’t. If they need to get access, they have to go to their manager and/or IT department.

    2. Ama*

      Yeah this feels like OP’s coworker either is so conflict avoidant she can’t bring herself to escalate it, or there’s a reason she doesn’t want the manager to know she doesn’t have her log in. (Of course at this point, the first might have led to the second if she now doesn’t want to have to admit she hasn’t been able to log in for however many days/weeks/months it has been.)

      OP needs to hold firm on this — keep telling her to contact IT again and if IT doesn’t respond to go to their boss to get help. Under no circumstances should OP offer to do anything for her coworker to help solve the issue — in my experience, coworkers like this are trying to see if they can get someone else to fix their problems for them and if OP gives in at all coworker will just lean on OP next time she has a problem.

    3. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Yeah, the fact this has gone on for a year is what is standing out to me. Something just doesn’t sound/smell right here. Hold firm and do not share your accesses OP5.

  7. Yvette*

    Just about any place I have ever worked, sharing the login and password combination with anyone would result in immediate dismissal. Asking someone for their password would have the same results. Even system admins did not have access to passwords.

    1. Daffy Duck*

      Yeah, this is so unusual I wonder if the coworker is doing something underhanded. Just about every login has some system set up for forgotten passwords and such. Even if it is a high security system there must be someone to talk to.

      1. Ginger ale for all*

        That was my take as well and then I started feeling guilty because no one else brought that up. Wasn’t this a plot point in Ghost and spoiler alert, the consequences of it was worse than getting fired?

        1. SK*

          Yeah. I don’t think I’m an overly suspicious person in general, but something about the way she’s approaching this is setting off alarm bells for me. I don’t think it changes how OP should approach it, but you’re not the only one wondering if she has an ulterior motive.

      2. On a pale mouse*

        I think she just doesn’t want to do the work and hopes she can keep getting LW to do it for her. Which I guess is underhanded, if not exactly in the way you meant.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          That’s some extremely hard working laziness there. But yeah, I think we’ve all had that coworker who works just as hard at avoiding the task as just doing the task itself would have been.

    2. LKW*

      100%. In any company I’ve worked for or with this would be such a huge breach of protocol / policy because anything done under your login is tracked. There are audit trails behind almost all of the systems you use.
      Tell her to escalate to her manager if it’s not getting resolved. If she approaches you again, escalate to your manager – they need to be aware that there is an issue with her credentials. As a manager, if only from a productivity status, I’d want to know that someone can’t do their work efficiently.

    3. Cthulhu's Librarian*

      To be fair, sys admins don’t typically have access to your passwords because they don’t need them; their login should allow them to do almost anything they need – and if they really do need to be logged in as you for what they’re doing, they usually have the tools to unilaterally change the password on your account and get in that way.

      But yes, using a coworker’s passwords and logins from others should be grounds for immediate dismissal anywhere – I’m kind of terrified about the responses that have said “oh, my company doesn’t/wouldn’t fire someone for that.”

      1. Guacamole Bob*

        It really, really depends on context. In many contexts it’s a big deal, but there are also a ton of small nonprofits where two different people log in to the Staples account to order office supplies using the same info and it’s just normal. Or small businesses where one person manages the state unemployment insurance filings and if they went on vacation they might just leave their password for whoever’s covering. In that context, the attitude is that the credentials are for the business, not the individual user.

        Small businesses probably shouldn’t operate this way, but many do.

        I’ve also seen it happen where someone embeds credentials for, say, a public API that requires registration into their code and then shares the code with a coworker. No one would do that with their network login, but “you have to create an account to access this open data portal and our data analysts all use the same credentials in their shared code repository” is a thing that happens. It’s not a great practice, but it’s not a firing offense, at least not in my particular context.

        1. Chinook*

          But access to a company account on a 3rd party site for ordering is very different because it should be tracked a different way, whether it be via PO’s or credit card or even a note in the order about who is receiving it. I have done this in nationak companies and it makes sense because it can still be tracked to my own company login via IT.

  8. somi*

    I ended up in the same situation as LW2 and only because my manager got hospitalized and I was relatively new to the Company. What I was expecting to be handling in 2 years, I suddenly got dumped with in 6 months. Good thing it was around the time of my probationary period and I got a small increase to make up the influx of duties

    1. Garrett*

      I just started a new job and my manager left about a month in. Wasn’t planned – a new opportunity fell in her lap so I’m not mad but I was a bit stressed. Luckily, people understand I’m not expert yet and there are others who have pitched in on things but it was a bit scary. No raise for me though as they intend to replace her.

  9. The Dude Abides*

    #1: Will add to the pile of replies referencing there being a physical/electronic record, both for CYA and searchability if I need to find something days or weeks later.

    1. WorkingGirl*

      YES. I handle edits to the copy we send to clients – even if we discuss it on the phone, I request all edits also sent to me via email.

  10. I am Jack's Something-or-Other*

    LW5: I would absolutely never share my login credentials, and I have been asked a few times over the years by various parties (including once by a complete stranger working in a different regional office across the globe who reached me via the office IM). They all had different excuses. Your system access is obviously a required tool of your colleague’s job and they’ve gotten away with not doing that part of their job for almost a year. That should be cause for disciplinary action and I would escalate it to management right away, forwarding any relevant emails or chat messages. You’ve tolerated it for way too long.

    1. IndustriousLabRat*

      I think you’ve brought up a REALLY good point. If the credentials are required to do part of Coworker’s job, and LW has been doing it for a significant length of time, Coworker may very well be frightened that by requesting a PW reset from IT, and acknowledging that a login from that set of credentials has not occurred since X date, they will essentially be shining a spotlight on their own slacking, and who knows what else hasn’t been getting done. Which, of course, is Coworker’s problem, not LW’s.

      In my field (aerospace manufacturing), access to the System is HEAVILY tiered, on a strict need-to-know basis, and requests to move up a tier go through both HR and IT in tandem, usually initiated by the employee’s manager. Does Employee NEED it to do their job? Also, has Employee demonstrated that they are deserving of trust? Using someone’s login credentials to access a feature not approved for one’s level is immediate termination, and there has even been one incidence which I know about in which criminal charges were pursued. Think about it like an internal security clearance system, meant to prevent both sabotage and theft of proprietary information. Not to make light of the situation, but even going into an external vendor account and say, cancelling an order for a seemingly inconsequential shipment of cardboard boxes and bubble wrap, could shut our shipping department down and get us in a world of pain… yes, even our account with the Bubble Wrap Guy is locked down tight. Coworker may not be up to anything more nefarious than covering for their own slacker habits, but still…

      LW, just frame it very blandly when you raise it to your manager; “Coworker has been having a lot of difficulty logging on to X system; from what they’ve told me, they haven’t had much luck with a reset request. Can you please follow up with IT and see what they can do to help?”

      1. Ellie*

        This is what I immediately thought of… the coworker is worried they’ll be exposed as a slacker, whereas this way, they can explain that its IT’s fault and they’ve been working around the problem by logging in as their co-worker. And now it is impossible to know who’s done what and who is the slacker. They probably see it as a way out, and don’t realise that using someone else’s credentials will get you fired a lot faster than incompetence will, at any company I’ve ever worked at.

        Either that or they’re a spy of course, or a thief, its not as unusual as you’d think. Is that likely OP, in your field of work? If you work in Defence or finance you need to be extremely careful, and report this to your manager right now. And if you don’t… I’d still report it to your manager. They’re asking you to violate policy to avoid a slightly awkward phone call, they don’t deserve your help.

  11. Dan*


    I’m 40 and I don’t really have a phone anymore, it’s just VOIP through my computer + headset. My physical phone is back at the office and I haven’t touched it in a year now. TBH, I hate that thing, mostly because how intrusive it is.

    I’m a computer programmer + data analyst, and I use whatever is most appropriate for the task at hand. My team uses slack for the “hey can anybody help” types of questions, or routine/non-urgent communications. But for things that are urgent (like I’m stuck on something or I need my boss to ok a particular direction I want to take) we’ll do impromptu voice chats, sometimes clearing it first, sometimes not.

    There *are* some things that are better left to voice. Giving detailed, technically correct instructions via writing takes me way to long. It’s easier to talk through it, and give the recipient a chance to digest stuff a bit more piece-meal and ask questions as opposed to having to process a huge dump of info.

    That said… one mindset I would suggest you think about shifting away from is the “I would never…” framing. As boss, you do get some deference, and if you want certain things done in particular ways, well “rank has its privilege.” But think hard about whether it’s better for the business overall or just your personal preference, and cut people some slack if style preference is the only real issue. By letting people work in ways that are best for them, you will get better results more quickly… and foster employee happiness by not being a micromanager.

    1. allathian*

      I would probably be very unhappy working for you, then, because I can’t follow instructions unless they’re in writing. If nothing else, I’d ask you to speak more slowly so I could be sure to get everything written down, before I could process the information or have any chance of retaining it. Letting people work in ways that are best for them applies to you, too. :)

      1. Juniper*

        That’s a pretty dramatic response to a nuanced, considerate approach by TS. I got the impression that they would be more than happy to work with you in a way that aligns with your learning style and the material at hand, while not placing an undue burden on themselves. If you require long, technically detailed information with many variables to be transmitted in writing, then you may have to make special arrangements for this to be accommodated.

        1. lost academic*

          I don’t think I’d ever suggest that “long, technically detailed information with many variables” be transmitted in ANY other way than in writing – that is not a situation where you want to allow for someone’s memory and immediate understanding to take the place of appropriate documentation and instruction. I don’t think it requires a special arrangement – I would expect good documentation to be standard. Training via oral tradition alone isn’t a good business practice.

          1. Juniper*

            I’d like for TS to chime in here, but my understanding of their example is that troubleshooting certain kinds of issues simply don’t lend themselves to being written down. When we start getting down the “if a then b, but if c then d, except for when d is actually e” road it simply is not conducive to try and communicate this info by writing down every conceivable angle. There is plenty of long, technically detailed information that absolutely SHOULD be written down. But not every situation can be neatly addressed with a reference guide, and it sounds like that it was TS was referring to.

            1. Dan*

              I’m not sure who TS is, but in the thread I started, yeah, that’s what I was getting at. *Good* technical documentation is a lot of work and needs to be recognized as such. But in the course of day-to-day activity, I am definitely not expected to write emails with that level of clarity. (And most people won’t read them anyway.)

              You want the database connection string to connect to our internal data base and automate some data pulls? Email away, it’s four lines I can copy/paste. You want me to explain in detail how to set up the guice bindings for the new module you’re adding? No. By the time I’ve written those instructions with that level of detail, for all intents and purposes, I’ve practically set up those bindings.

      2. hbc*

        Huh. I find that most technical discussions require some back and forth to begin with, or you end up writing a textbook to cover all possible angles. Then someone (usually the person who has to take action next) can write up a quick summary as a record and to make sure there’s mutual understanding.

        I mean, I’ve had people who need to be walked through “Save as” in 10+ individual steps, and others where I can say “make a local copy.” Neither one wants to read the instructions I would write to cover both guys’ capabilities.

      3. SongbirdT*

        I think the disconnect here is maybe a misunderstanding of how technologists must work to create and / or fix a widget.

        Most of us are used to technology that is well-documented steps to achieve a particular outcome. But before that, someone had to hash out what those steps were before they could be documented, often pulling from an extensive catalog of knowledge on how widgets work in general. The process is normally collaborative (so multiple knowledge catalogs) and verbal, and goes something like this:. My doodad doesn’t work –> Try idea 1 –> weird outcome –> Try ideas 2-37 –> get something that kind of works –> modify 17 small details —> it works! — simplify the process to the steps that actually worked –> document lightly —> pass to technical writer for full documentation.

        That process is genuinely cumbersome to execute fully in writing. Folks with this skill set need to see outcomes and talk through problems so that the detailed documentation eventually works when it gets handed to you.

      4. Dan*

        In the statement above, I was referring to my peers. In which case, you’re not working *for* me but *with* me. At most orgs I’ve worked at a peer can *ask* a peer to do something, but that’s about it. So you can ask me to write a detailed technical email that’s going to take me 2 hours to get correct, and I can say, “no please call me. We can get through this in half an hour.” Then, if you need my instructions or information to do your job, and I won’t send it to you in writing, you’re free to call (ahem, email) the boss and say, “Dan won’t tell me how to do this.” And then I can say to boss, “I offered to set up a meeting with allathian but they refuse, and *require* everything to be written down in painstaking detail. I don’t have time for that, because I’m going to get the detail wrong and we’ll have to follow up anyway. It’s much better to do this together, and I offered to meet with allathian at their convenience. I’m still waiting.”

        Ball is in boss’s court at that point, but let’s just say that I’m not afraid of having that conversation with the boss.

        1. Queer Earthling*

          So if someone says they require things being written down, you assume it’s just out of preference or possibly to annoy you? What a neat take!

          1. Dan*

            I never said anything about assumptions about peoples’ motivations. That came from you. Which is kind of the whole point about writing not being the best mode of communication for everything, it leaves too much for interpretation.

            I don’t care why a peer wants to make more work for me. If it’s really cutting into my productivity (and painstakingly technical emails do) then its my bosses job to sort things out. Maybe I have to, and that’s that, but in exchange, my boss gets to decide what parts of my other work won’t get done so I can write that painstakingly correct email.

  12. Not A Manager*

    OP1, I am older than dirt. I have happily moved to text and chat for almost all business and personal communication and I haven’t looked back.

    When I call someone, I wonder if I’m intruding. When someone calls me, frequently they *are* intruding and it takes me forever to get my focus back. I’m guilty of letting texts and emails interrupt me, but it’s easy to glance at the screen and get the gist, and then decide whether to respond immediate. Placing or receiving a phone call feels to me like automatic Level Eleventy Billion Urgency.

    When I do need to call someone, I will send a text first to see if they are free. I give them a sense of the topic, and how long I expect to need to chat, and I ask what’s convenient for them. Otherwise, text it is! And text has the advantage of being something that you can walk away from or unilaterally end. Once someone gets you on the phone, you have literally no idea how long they are going chat at you.

    1. Not A Manager*

      Also, when I send a text asking when someone is free to chat, frequently these are people that I am “senior” to in some way. I can tell that they appreciate the heads-up and that I don’t just barge into their work time.

    2. Quoth the Raven*

      I’m 34, and this is me as well, both in work and in my personal life. I never call anyone unless I have to, and if I’m calling without texting and asking first, it’s because it’s THAT urgent. In general, I’ve found most people I interact with follow the same logic.

      I have ADHD, and I can “ignore” texts and/or emails and get to them when it works; I can’t ignore phone calls as easily because there is this “why are they calling, is something wrong!?” sense of urgency in my head. It then takes me forever to focus back on what I was doing before. Written communication is also better sometimes because it allows me to go back and check the information if I have any questions.

      That said, if I need to make or take a call, I’ll do it. It’s just not actively my style.

      1. A Genuine Scientician*

        In the past three years, I think the only times I have called a coworker without some sort of text-based thing first have all been either “Critical Tech for Time Sensitive Thing is broken, here are the alternatives I can think of that we can use Right Now” situations, or one instance of “I have been looking for a parking space for 30 minutes even though I have a parking pass, could someone let people into the room for the thing I am supposed to be handling in 10 minutes and let them know I will be there as soon as humanly possible?”

        (I’m not tech support, just the most tech-savvy person on my team, so for urgent stuff…)

    3. Cat Tree*

      Also, our work phones are through our computers. When I was working on site, I always had ear buds in to listen to music. So if someone called without warning, not only did I have to drop whatever I was working on, I had to get my headset, remove something from a USB port, plug in the headset to my computer, pause my music, remove ear buds, put on the headset, check that I’m not double muted, then finally answer the call. And hopefully I remembered to save the document I was working on. It was very rare for me to answer in time, so then we’d end up in the phone tag game.

      Or that person could have just emailed me. Or if it’s too complex, they could have scheduled an actual meeting during a time when I’m available and let me know the topic ahead of time so I can come prepared rather than scrambling to catch up while they wait on the other end.

    4. Anonym*

      I’m in my late 30s, and any out of the norm phone call during work (i.e. not my mom or my boss) turns me into Rose Castorini from Moonstruck: “Who’s dead?!”

    5. 3DogNight*

      48, and this! Also, in text we can stay on topic, and the conversation is much shorter! If I am open for longer, I’ll suggest a call. But, seriously, if I never have to talk on the phone again, I would not be sad.

  13. Dan*


    It’s 2021, and IT security being what it is, I don’t think you need to soft peddle or be diplomatic about this. “No” is a complete sentence, and sufficient. If they keep this up, you go to your boss and have them deal with it.

  14. Viki*

    LW 3

    I have standing skip level meetings with my SM, and my VP and they get cancelled. Last week, I got told it was cancelled as I was launching the meeting.

    Their time is more valuable than mine. And a skip level meeting for a project I’m running doesn’t always need face time.

    And that’s the key point, you get face time with your boss’s boss. That’s great, that’s valuable because you become a known quantity. People are willing to bat for you, open doors for you. And you lose that by taking a missed/cancelled meeting personally.

    When my SM and VP miss a meeting, I shoot an email to them with the quick points of what I was hoping to discuss and put it on the next agenda.

    Skip level are a gift for growth and network, don’t take it personally.

    1. SheLooksFamiliar*

      I totally agree with this take on skip-level meetings. The leader in question has a lot of demands on their time. As important as these meetings are for engagement purposes, priorities shift in realtime. A last-minute cancellation is not an indictment or insult, and I wouldn’t take it that way.

      OP3, take the long view on this, please. If you get even quarterly skip-level meetings, you’re doing better than most!

    2. Trotwood*

      Agreed–my director has quarterly meetings on the calendar with everyone in our department. It’s well-understood that if she has time to meet with you, she will, but don’t be surprised if it gets cancelled. She has way too many competing demands on her time to be able to prioritize these meetings. It’s certainly not personal, it’s just how things work when there’s one director with a ton of responsibilities.

      1. OP LW3*

        OP here – I totally agree and I completely understand that C-suite boss’s time is more important! I’m not surprised about that at all..

        It’s the lack of followup nor rescheduling, combined with their general demeanor & not talking in meetings/email to anyone who doesn’t report to them directly that has started to bother me. I was wondering if this was one part of it that I could eliminate. But it’s better to suggest making it quarterly or just leave it alone.

        Or tell myself they’ve been cancelled and be pleasantly surprised when one does happen? I mean.. it’s only been 3 in a year anyway? haha?

        1. Qwerty*

          It sounds like these meetings are mostly for your benefit, so odds are that these meetings are not really on the CEO’s radar or priority list. Which is not a judgement on you!! It’s just the way these senior roles are designed with meeting packed schedules so that they are always running over or dashing from thing to thing. Part of the reason I hated being in senior management was because I was late to every meeting, assuming I was even able to show up. So many 1×1’s got cancelled and I was grateful to my team for understanding when I was MIA. (Fortunately they knew me before I was promoted into the crazy-busy role)

          Can you reframe these missed meetings as unlikely to happen, which is why they are scheduled so frequently? When I met with really senior people, I often would schedule twice as meetings as we needed because I knew half would be cancelled last minute, so it might be that in order to meet with your CEO once a quarter that you need to have a standing monthly meeting.

          Also, how much initiative are you taking on the follow up or rescheduling of these meetings? If the CEO is a no-show, do you send a him a (friendly) chat after 5min asking if it needs to be rescheduled? When he cancels it and you had questions that you needed answers to, do you follow up with an email either listing the questions or asking to reschedule? This communication is new to the CEO, so if you take ownership in establishing a relationship, it’ll become more of a habit to him and he’ll start remembering you more (or just remembering you as the person who has project X covered!)

        2. Naomi*

          I would just keep going as scheduled, not expecting anything to happen, and be pleasantly surprised if it does. You say it happens about quarterly as scheduled, but if you go down to quarterly it may be cancelled just as much percentage wise, in which case it would be like once a year!

        3. JustaTech*

          Three in a year is pretty good, honestly. I have a good (long-standing) relationship with my skip-level and we only meet quarterly, and that’s usually plenty. If you’re not in a position to suggest to ease back from monthly to quarterly then yes, I’d go with “pleasantly surprised”.

          As for the not remembering to tell you they canceled or re-schedule; does this C suite have an EA? If so, could you ask them if the meeting’s been canceled and if the C suite wants to reschedule or just wait for the next meeting? That might get you a more prompt answer.

          What was the c suite thinking scheduling *monthly* skip-level one-on-ones? How many people does this person expect to meet with? Where do they expect to find the time? (That’s not your fault at all, that’s poor planning on their part.)

  15. Sleepless KJ*

    OP #1: I’m 61 and text messaging is my favored communication method. Phone calls have their place but disrupt my flow and take a chunk of time I don’t always want to give up. For quick questions or updates, texting is a godsend.

  16. Anti-text*

    I think text is a highly unprofessional means of communication for an office job. What happens if you lose your phone, or the company doesn’t provide you with a work phone — those business text could be lost permanently. I am okay with IM for quick questions but prefer email. It strikes me as more professional and it’s also easier to search, forward, save as a stand alone document, etc. I don’t mind phone calls — there are some things you don’t want to put in writings, or are too complicated/tedious to type out in an email.

    1. Willis*

      I don’t like texting for work either. We use Slack and I’m good with that, or regular old email, phone call, in person meetings. I prefer to keep my business-related communication in one place that’s accessible via computer/online. I’ve had a few clients that text me but find that kind of annoying (esp when it’s not anything urgent) and try transition to email.

      1. Asenath*

        I feel the same way – my work preferences were email (both for convenience and record-keeping) and phone calls (with, if something was agreed on, concluded with a request for or offer to send a summary of what was agreed on by email). Text doesn’t even make the list – I didn’t have a work cell phone, and generally refused to give my personal cell phone number as a work contact. I didn’t want some discussion on a work topic by text and some by email and some by phone – it made it so much harder to track the discussion if something went wrong. I’m mildly puzzled by the fact that so many people find text more convenient for messages – if they do manage to get my personal number and text me on it, I probably won’t even see it the same day since I usually don’t have notifications on my personal cell phone turned on when I’m working. Most of my work involved people who weren’t at my site or even city, so I rarely if ever saw them in person. Most of them didn’t phone unless there was something that needed to be discussed at some length. Almost all my work exchanges were by email. Well, except for a few places that liked to fax me!

    2. ceiswyn*

      What do you mean by ‘more professional’?

      Are you sure you don’t just mean ‘old and familiar’?

      1. Myrin*

        I mean, it depends on where you are (both geographically and field-wise) – emails are definitely seen as “more professional” where I’m from, and I decidedly don’t mean “old and familiar” by that (although that might well be the root cause behind it but if so, that’s a whole cultural feeling, not my personal one). Texts are viewed as casual and, to a certain extent, personal (as in, for your personal life) which is not the case for email at all. We do have a different attitude towards phone calls also, though, so I’d guess that communication as a whole simply works differently depending on what you do and where you’re from.

        1. Mockingjay*

          Depending on industry, texts on personal cells might be discouraged for audit purpose. We use approved chat programs because those retain logs. The company doesn’t provide work cell phones.

          Phone calls are usually followed up by a recap email or notes captured in a text file.

      2. Anti-text*

        I mean when people send emails they usually attempt to use proper spelling, punctuation, grammar, etc. Texting is full of shortened words, emojis, bad auto-corrects. I find texting about work issues on a similar level as a phone call — I feel like it demands a response RIGHT AWAY even if I am in the middle of something whereas email can be reviewed and responded to according to the urgency of the message, my schedule, etc. My job necessitates that I have a paper trail for auditors, finance, hr etc. so having random work related texts in my personal phone is not something I want.

        If I need to print out documentation for back up an email is going to look aesthetically more professional that text bubbles. Email looks like a professional document.

        I also agree with Daisy-dog, if my co-workers text me something more than “running late” or “are you in the office today?” I will ask them to put it in an email. Like Asenath, I don’t want info about the same project/topic partially in IM, partially in text, and partially in email. Email is the primary method of business communication so that’s where I want everything.

    3. allathian*

      Text can be on an app, such as WhatsApp. I use text and IM pretty interchangeably, although IM for me is more on the computer than the phone and text is mainly on the phone.

      For the reasons you state, I don’t text on sensitive work topics from my personal phone, I’m simply not allowed to discuss identifiable cases using my own devices.

      There’s very little I wouldn’t feel comfortable putting in writing on my work email. Technically IT is able to check them, but they don’t, because it’s illegal in my area unless the messages have been subpoenaed by the court or there’s an internal investigation. There must be a suspicion of serious wrongdoing before anyone else gets to check your job email account. That’s why ticketing systems or role-based email addresses are essential, all business is supposed to be conducted through those, for those coworker got hit by a bus situations.

    4. LifeBeforeCorona*

      Several months ago I bought a new phone and the salesperson lost my text messages and contact list while setting up my new phone. I managed to retrieve my contact list but a year’s worth of texts disappeared. They were personal and not work-related but I’m still peeved about it. I can’t imagine losing a trail of business texts.

      1. Tryinghard*

        They do make text archiving solutions. Also note that in some industries work related texts are automatically backed up.

    5. Alex*

      I don’t think “text” in this context means “SMS”, but “written word” vs “voice call”

      1. Guacamole Bob*

        This entire comment section has been confusing for me for this exact reason. It seems like a lot of people are saying they love using SMS for work, and that does seem really strange to me.

        I love email. I love chat – we use MS Teams and it’s been great as we’ve all gone to work from home. I hate phone calls. Actual SMS text messaging, though? Not for work, unless it’s “I’m running late” type stuff. It’s not searchable, not archived, it’s mixed together with my personal communications, it means switching back and forth between my phone and my computer so I can’t copy/paste info between them. Just ugh.

        1. Anti-text*

          Yes, when I read “text” I think it is specifically referring to SMS on phones. If people mean “text” as any method of written communication other than email then that’s quite different. Other than something printed on nice paper (e.g. heavy weight, watermark), I would still consider email the most professional form of communication.

        2. Joielle*

          Same here! I much prefer written to phone communication, but I hate typing out long messages with my thumbs so I don’t actually *text* my coworkers aside from something very short. It does seem strange to me to use actual SMS text messages, but maybe people are doing that!

          1. Anti-text*

            Agree — I have wide thumbs and am a terrible texter (and I refuse to use text shortcuts, I write texts exactly like I write letters or emails — completely spelled words, punctuation, etc.). I still miss my old Blackberry; it was so much easier to text with a raised keyboard.

    6. Bluesboy*

      I’m not sure I understand why text is unprofessional because you could lose the text, but phone calls (where you are guaranteed not to have a record of the substance of the call) are not?

      Not every communication needs a written record. I texted my boss yesterday basically to say “I tried to contact Dave, as you requested, but no luck yet. I’ll keep you updated”.

      A phone call to tell him that I hadn’t actually managed to do anything yet would have been ridiculous. An email would have been ok, but I know he’s often behind on his emails. A text on the other hand let him know that I was dealing with the situation and not to worry about it instantly, taking 30 seconds out of our day, without any need for follow up from him. And I can’t imagine a situation where I will have a problem if I lose the record of that.

      1. hbc*

        Yes, “texts might not always have a record” is a weird response to a letter that whose thrust is “we should be having more in-person or phone conversations.”

    7. Jay Beal*

      It really depends on your industry, the situation, and the context of the text. For example, my CEO is known to text the team looking for a quick stat or a bit of information if they are in a meeting, in the middle of a project, and/or just don’t have the time for a phone call or to sift through emails. There’s no need for a “paper trail” in these situations. If more detailed information is needed or there needs to be a “discussion”, email is used.

    8. Daisy-dog*

      I refuse to use my personal cell phone for work purposes. I do payroll and in a previous job people would text me about corrections needed. I would respond and tell them to email me that exact message because it cannot be tracked for the records on my cell phone.

      I am okay with limited texting with my boss or a close colleague for some things – like when I had no power for 2 days.

      1. Autumnheart*

        My team has a group text going, and that’s basically what we use it for. “My VPN won’t connect.” “I can’t get into Teams.” “I’m feeling awful this morning and going to take PTO for the first half of the day, hopefully I’ll be able to log on this afternoon.” Basically stuff for when we can’t communicate via normal methods, and/or where it’s just more efficient to send the text, rather than boot up and log in just to say you won’t be on.

  17. Trilby*

    I’m 40 and miss easy phone calls so much. I find it so tedious and unsatisfying – personally and professionally – to type everything. It’s 10 times easier to just talk. I especially hate the back and forth you have to do now to call someone – text/IM “are you free? Can I call you?” ahead of time. It’s like everyone is the queen and we have to be so darn respectful of their preciousness on being disturbed. Don’t get me started on scheduling phone calls with friends. I hate that so much. If you had told me as a young teenager in the early 90s, that when I was an old person I wouldn’t be talking to my friends on the phone every night, I would not have believed you. The birth of texting has caused so much sadness and loss of real connection in the world! It’s so not the same.

    1. Trilby*

      That being said – my friends barely text me anymore, and sometimes don’t respond to mine. Where is everyone communicating these days? Are texts becoming so spammy that people ignore them now? Like what happened to emails? Of course, it’s always possible my friends just don’t like me much . . .

      1. Green great dragon*

        Mine are all on the group whatsapp/signal. It’s lovely! We can have conversations between 10 or 12 of us, even though we are never all free at the same time. News to me that it’s not real connections.

        I’m older than you.

      2. Tinker*

        Most of my communication with friends is on messenger apps, sometimes in group chats. Actual SMS texts are pretty uncommon.

        I will say that if I had someone in my social circle who lamented texting as a loss of real communication, I probably wouldn’t do all that much texting with them either, and that “It’s like everyone is the queen and we have to be so darn respectful of their preciousness on being disturbed” about negotiating voice calls is the sort of thing that would get a person on my “politely and vaguely keep at a distance” list.

    2. Dan*

      Yeah, I won’t do emails anymore that require too much technical depth. Too much to type and think through on the writing end, and too much to think through and process on the receiving end. What happens when you half way through and “need clarification”? Boom, another email or a phone call. So much time wasted.

      It’s possible I have an auditory processing disorder, because I find unwanted/unexpected audio to be really distracting… e.g., the ring of the phone, especially if the caller ID is blocked. (I have the annoyance with email/slack/skype/teams audio alerts for text too.) I do so much better by routing all of the audio to my headset and then just leaving it out of the way. And then, when somebody calls on whatever VOIP service they want (slack/teams/whatever) I have a nice, quiet visual notification that someone wants to talk. If I don’t/can’t? I just click “decline”. TBH, I find it wonderful.

      1. JustaTech*

        It’s very interesting that you prefer technical depth to be over the phone. I guess it depends on what you’re doing, but for me, I really prefer technical things to be in email so I can go back over them again. I’m not great about catching a lot of detail from a verbal technical description unless I’m taking notes.

        But I do agree that for things that are a back-and-forth, eventually verbal is the way to go (phone, webex, in person) because most people still talk faster than they type (even if I read faster than most people talk).

    3. Matt*

      Well, “everyone is the queen” … and before “everyone was the king” and if the king called, his servant had to drop everything and run to the phone: “Yes, Your Majesty”? (Even if it wasn’t actually the king, but you didn’t see who called and it could be.) We still see this culture today with people who absolutely HAVE to answer their phone even while checking out their groceries at the cash register.

      You can call me without texting first, but you have to expect that I won’t answer the phone straight away, it’s that simple.

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, this. I think that spontaneous phone calls have gone the way of the dodo pretty much because when you have the phone with you, it’s just so hard to ignore. I’d rather check if someone’s free to talk first before calling, because when I call and someone doesn’t answer, it bothers me much more than if I text and they don’t answer right away.

        This is further compounded by the fact that when most communication is done by text or IM, when someone calls, it usually is urgent. I only call my mom and my MIL “just because” these days. My dad hates the phone, and I love my WhatsApp convos with my friends, although we’ll speak on the phone occasionally.

        At my org people are expected to keep their calendars updated, and especially now with so many Skype meetings, everyone is at least flagged as busy when they’re in a meeting.

        1. Anon in Canada*

          The main reason spontaneous phone calls (esp. social calls) have all but disappeared is because of the switch from landlines to cell phones. When calling a cell phone, you never know if you may be stumbling on someone that is out, and in a situation where answering a call is highly awkward. After people went cell-only and stumbled on this issue a few times, they just stopped making spontaneous social calls – and more recently this has spilled over to many non-social calls as well.

          This also explains why Canada is a few years behind the US in moving away from calls, since Canadians have held on to landlines for much longer that Americans did (around 65% of Canadians still have a landline – and this number is much higher in Quebec and Atlantic Canada). Most Canadian Gen X’ers do not “hate” calls the way that many posts here suggest. My Boomer parents are still a landline-only household and handle almost all their communication with friends/siblings via the phone, which is still very much the norm for people their are.

          You want your friends to feel free to call you without hesitating because they might be disturbing you? Get a landline. It’s much better to miss a social call than to feel compelled to answer while you’re out and have an awkward call because you’re in a situation where you just can’t talk.

          1. Archaeopteryx*

            There was a great article in the Atlantic about this, and also about how cell phones (smartphones especially) aren’t shaped for human hands or ears and lose a lot of vocal tones. When everyone had landlines it does make sense that you could have meandering hourslong conversations with friends without discomfort (and also… didn’t have any other options).

            But now, yes, it is precious to decide that people should pause their movie/ make noise in a coffee shop/ walk and talk on the loud sidewalk for non-urgent social calls just because you think the magic goes out of it when you… check when someone’s actually available?

            Of course, you can say the onus is on the answered to decline the call when they’re busy. But become unscheduled voice calls are rare they usually have slightly more urgency/ time sensitivity to them so people will go, “Well I’d better see what this is!”

      2. Dwight Schrute*

        Yes! One of my jobs is to call people back about an aspect of our business they inquired about. So many people answer the phone and say oh I’m busy I’ll call back later… and I’m like ok just don’t answer the phone if you can’t talk! Let me go to voicemail

        1. Chas*

          I’m probably one of those sorts of people, because 90% of the time when I get a phonecall at work it’s either spam that I can hang up on immediately, something that takes less than a minute to deal with, or it’s urgent enough to warrant me dropping work, which makes it worth me quickly taking the call, rather than igoring it and worrying what the call was about and what to do about it (Or continually getting interupted by someone trying my phone multiple times).

          But it’s unfortunate that if it turns out it’s actually XYZ company who needs to spend 10-20 minutes discussing my insurance policy or something, then I have to turn around and say ‘sorry, I’ve not got that much time right now, can you call back at [Convinient time] instead?

        2. Archaeopteryx*

          I had a patient scream at me because we called with an update on his (pretty crucial) medication while he was in Japan on business and it was night there.

          If it’s night there… turn off your phone! Do you think the whole country knows where you are at all times?

          1. Dwight Schrute*

            Ah yes I’ve gotten that too! How would I know where you are, turn your phone off or don’t answer if it’s inconvenient for your time zone

    4. Scarlet2*

      Well, everyone gets to have their personal preferences, so not sure about blanket statements like “The birth of texting has caused so much sadness and loss of real connection in the world!”.
      I’m 47 and I love that people don’t feel they can interrupt me everytime they have to communicate something. For some of us, it’s pretty hard to re-focus once we’ve been interrupted. If people called me everytime they needed something from me, I’d never be able to get anything done…

      If it means I consider myself “the queen”, so be it. I’m just grateful my friends and colleagues are actually respectful of my time (or my “preciousness” as you call it).

      1. Nicholas Kiddle*

        Also I think you can get much more “real connection” out of a thoughtful email or text exchange than a phone conversation where you’re distracted because you were in the middle of something but felt it would be rude not to answer, or where you have one eye on the clock because your dinner is in the oven or you’re just worn out from work and really needed a decompression break before you were up for chatting. Phone calls are not inherently more connected.

      2. SimplyTheBest*

        Right? My family and I have a group text chain. We text constantly throughout the day. Its not intrusive, we can mute the conversation if we need to, we can respond to things in our own time, we can post things that would be too small and silly to have a phone call about. I haven’t been able to see my family in a year because of the pandemic, but I have felt connected with them the entire time. If we only had phone calls, that absolutely would not have been the case. Some people don’t like texting that’s fine, but it certainly not causing a loss of connection.

    5. ceiswyn*

      I’m 44 and regard an unexpected phone call as you basically walking up to me and shouting what you want to say.

      I mean, interrupting is rude. A phone call is always interrupting. How ‘precious’ is it of you to insist on interrupting people just because you like spontaneity?

      1. Anononon*

        I mean, this is clearly field dependent, and I also find it a bit strange. I’m 32, and while I’m able to do about 85 percent of my job over email, I find phone calls to be an extremely necessary tool as well. There is a small but persistent subgroup of external people I work with who rarely and/or sporadically get back to me over email, so if I want a response (that is often time sensitive), I need to call.

        1. ceiswyn*

          That’s basically you escalating because someone is ignoring you, though. It’s not defaulting to the rude interruption.

          1. Anononon*

            Eh, I will also call people sometimes as the first contact. I just don’t think we’re at a place right now where phone calls (no matter if they’re scheduled or for specific reasons) are per se rude.

            1. ceiswyn*

              They’re not considered rude by general society, no – but I’m explaining why it isn’t ‘precious’ for individuals not to like them.

              1. Anononon*

                Many, many people don’t define a phone call as “unnecessary interruption.” This is something that you’ll never find full agreement on.

      2. Juniper*

        I don’t get why this is such a dramatic thing. Someone calls me and it’s not convenient, I ignore it. A simple ringtone quickly silenced is no more intrusive than a text pling. Then I see I have a missed call, and call the person back at my convenience. This fussiness about insisting someone text first to see if you are available, for you to then respond that yes, you are available, and them to call you up strikes me as overly tedious and, dare I say, precious.

        1. Quoth the Raven*

          I suppose it depends on how you communicate mostly. To me, mentally, a phone call and a text are not the same. Since in all contexts of my life the default is to text, when someone does call, it tends to be urgent, and it’s harder for me to ignore that (especially if people call repeatedly). This is true even for my boyfriend, for example, who I call every day. And in a work context, I freelance with a translation agency and I think they’ve called me ten times in almost six years; if the phone rings and it’s them, it means something needs fixing or needs to be done NOW, but if they text or email me, I know it can wait.

          I text and check if people are available before I call because I find it to be considerate., just like I would never show up at someone’s place unannounced. I don’t know people’s schedules, and I don’t know if they are busy or simply not in the mood to chat (the latter doesn’t really apply to a work context, admittedly). Most of the people around me operate under that logic.

          1. Scarlet2*

            Yes, it’s exactly the same for me. Even more so since a couple of close family members got seriously ill and spent time in hospital a few years ago and every phone call was filling me with dread because I thought it might be bad news…
            For me a phone call has an urgency that a text/IM doesn’t have and it’s a lot harder to ignore.

          2. Juniper*

            The cultural aspect about this is fascinating! Even though I’m in introverted, uncommunicative Scandinavia, the barriers to communication seem to be lower than what I’ve observed among the comments. In general, it’s no big deal if someone shows up announced (though I wouldn’t say it’s common, and don’t be expected to be invited in), and calls without checking in first are the norm. I’m curious though, do you do that with your friends or just in a work context? I’ve literally never had someone text me first to see if I was available to talk on the phone (unless it was a friend trying to get a hold of me during working hours), so I’m trying to understand this concept!

            1. Bluesboy*

              The cultural aspect is certainly interesting! I’m in extroverted, communicative Italy, and I was told a few years ago by someone working for one of the mobile phone networds that Italy was about 5 years behind the rest of the world in starting to use text messages – apparently a lot of people felt that it was just too impersonal.

              1. Juniper*

                Fascinating! And maybe not surprising, given my (admittedly limited) knowledge of Italian culture. I suppose at the end of the day it comes down to adapting to the wider culture, and, I suppose, not getting overly attached to your preferred communication method.

            2. ceiswyn*

              My friends don’t call me on the phone. We chat over Messenger, on Facebook, or in real life.

              If one of my friends wants to have a chat with me by phone, then yes, they do email or text me to arrange a good time to do it. That just seems sensible and polite. Why would you take a chance on interrupting someone in the middle of something and then not getting the chat you want, when you could take two minutes to text and arrange a nice chat when you both have the time?

              1. Juniper*

                I guess I don’t understand why a chat has to be a production. My best friend and I usually call each other when we’re on our way to work or in the evening after dinner. Sometimes I catch her while she is knee deep in getting two kids out the door, sometimes she calls when I’m wrangling my toddler into the bath. Usually we don’t pick up in these moments, but sometimes we’ll answer the phone just to yell “call you back in 5!” In low-stakes communication, that’s actually easier for me then arranging a time over text.

                But I think what it comes down to is, do what works for you! Sounds like you have a nice dynamic going with your friends, and it’s not for me to question whether or not that is the “optimal” communication form. By the same token, it’s not being insensible or impolite for others to prefer a more relaxed approach. Simply by trying to take the other person’s preferred communication style into account I think most relationships will find a natural balance.

                1. Chas*

                  I agree it comes down to people having different balances as to how they prefer to communicate. I’m in the UK and I find it depends both on who’s calling and in some cases HOW they’re calling as to whether or not they pre-arrange a conversation or not. My sister and friends always default to text and pre-arrange any calls/in person meetups in advance. Whereas if my Dad wants to chat, he’ll just start a video call out of the blue when he’s got time for it (And even if I try to arrange something with him, it’ll rarely be more specific than ‘let’s chat this weekend’). And my Mother and my boss both prefer video calls/meetings to communicate, but neither is comfortable starting one without pre-arranging it with me first, so we’ll do the whole text/email to organise a conversation thing… except for if they want a quick response, then they’ll just do a voice call instead.

                2. biobotb*

                  Why do you consider making sure both people have time to chat “a production”? Many of my loved ones live far away in different time zones and have very busy lives. If I relied on intuiting the magic moment they have an available moment that corresponds to my available moment, we’d never talk. Not sure why that would be better than just… finding a mutually agreeable time beforehand.

                3. Juniper*

                  You’ve found something that works for you, and I’m in full support of that! I myself also have to deal with multiple time zones, and am not unfamiliar to having to plan phone dates on the regular. But yes, for some relationships, it would be a production. With many of my friends, it is much easier to call, even at mutually inconvenient times. Texting would mean throwing a monkey wrench into the whole affair. But that’s our dynamic, and I would never describe it in terms of not being “sensible” or “polite”.

            3. Quoth the Raven*

              I’m from loud, extroverted, communicative Mexico (Mexico City in particular). I do it for work and with friends — I would actually find it more alarming if a friend were to call me without texting me first than my work doing it! Unscheduled calls don’t necessarily mean catastrophic bad news (for example, it might be something as harmless as “I’m here and I can’t see you, where are you?” or “I’m at Starbucks, do you want anything?”), but they do convey a sense of “this needs tending to right now” among my circle. Among my family, the one exception is my mum, who will call if I’m out and about ever so often to ask what my general plans are, but a call from my dad or my sister will rise to the same sense of urgency.

              I do text my friends a lot virtually every day, though, and we all get to it when we get to it, whether in group or individual chats. And when I do call one of them, even if scheduled, I won’t call again if they don’t pick up and wait for them to either call me back or let me know they’re ready. I know it sounds kind of tedious, but it actually flows pretty organically!

              That said, there is a cultural aspect. Mexico City and other larger cities in my country operate with wildly different rules than smaller towns or rural areas, where it might be more common to call socially and for work. I do think we live a very fast paced “go, go, go” life, so that might be an added element to that.

        2. Willis*

          Agreed. I understand why people schedule calls of course, but it’s not a big deal to me if I get unscheduled calls. And being responsive to external clients is an important part of my job so if I got upset about every unplanned call, it would make for some bad days. Not that I answer every one immediately, but it’s not a big deal to silence the call and return it as soon as I can.

          1. Juniper*

            Reading the comments, I wonder if this is industry- or organization-specific? Or perhaps has more to do with the types of roles people have? It just never occurred to me to be annoyed by phone calls, and I say that as someone who prefers the written medium!

        3. ceiswyn*

          People who know me send me emails and texts. A phone call is therefore likely to be something urgent or important, so I’m going to worry about it until I find out what’s up.

          I also don’t have texts set up to ping, because I glance at my phone relatively regularly anyway and I don’t want to be pinged at every two seconds while I chat over Messenger. Ringing is the only time my phone makes noise at me, so it IS more intrusive.

          1. Tired of Covid-and People*

            It’s more intrusive for you because you set it to be this way. Hardy a universal experience.

            1. ceiswyn*

              True, I do tend to look funny at people whose phones are pinging every thirty seconds because they haven’t set it up that way :)

        4. hbc*

          I would say anyone at either extreme is being tedious and dramatic, but I find a lot of people who hate the pre-text are ignoring the convenience aspect. When the phone rings, I have no idea if it’s a call I want to take this second, something non-emergency but time-sensitive, something that I have to set aside a half hour for, or any number of things. You might leave a message, but a lot of people don’t, and even then I have to wait to listen to the message so that there’s a second interruption.

          It’s so much easier for everyone if I can see “Customer without hot water, call me about arrangements” versus “FYI, Jim is out, we should talk about his reliability soon.” Phone is the right medium for the follow up, but it’s better for everyone for me to have the context.

          1. Juniper*

            I can see that! I myself never leave voicemails anymore, only because I know how annoying they are to listen to myself. I’m frankly just so used to people calling without pre-texting that I haven’t given it much more thought beyond “can I take this now?” or “this is an unknown number, I’ll look it up first before answering.” Sounds like there’s room for middle ground, taking into account the relationship and context!

            1. YetAnotherAnalyst*

              …Out of curiosity, what percentage of calls are scams or robocalls where you are? I *always* leave a voicemail if I call, because if someone calls me and doesn’t leave a voicemail I won’t call them back unless I recognize the number. But on reflection, that’s because about 80% of calls on my personal phone are scams or robocalls (and probably somewhat higher on my work phone).

              1. Juniper*

                Good question. I get about one a year when someone from India calls me because my computer has been hacked. So spam/robocalls are not an issue (I actually think there might be a law against them)

                1. Le Sigh*

                  There are definitely laws about them in the U.S., but there was a period around 2016 where I got on some list and was getting dozens a day (sometimes one every three minutes), so much that I had to just leave my phone on silent. Even now I still get a lot of calls spoofing a local area code (more like 3-6/day). You can’t block them effectively, so I just have to ignore them.

                  Basically, I only return calls to numbers I recognize or leave a legit voicemail or text. Or, if I know I’m expecting a call, I will sometimes pick up or google the number to be sure. But it’s such a pain.

                2. Tinker*

                  Yeah, I am on the Do Not Call list and I’m pretty sure there are laws about calls to cell phones, and I get spam calls at a rate that is hard to estimate but is definitely measured in calls per day rather than per year.

                  There’s also someone who for some reason seems to use what is my cell phone number — which has been my number for quite a while — as their contact number for a store rewards program and also maybe other similar things (it’s unclear whether the other calls I get for that guy are because he used it elsewhere or because the store sold the list), and there are more people who occasionally use it mistakenly, once for a classified ad offering puppies.

                  (Let me tell you, there is a sinking feeling in your stomach when you answer the phone and the person on the other end is saying “hi, I’m calling about your ad in the paper about the puppies”.)

                  On top of that, I’m in a swing state and what laws exist about spam calls have loopholes for political calls — I believe they still have to be made by a person, but there are apps such that political campaigns have arrays of volunteers using their personal phones to make these calls in bulk, and then sometimes there are things like polls (actual polls or polls where the questions are constructed to promote a political message) that either work under some other exception or are sufficiently confident in their ability to avoid relevant consequences. Result: the aspect of my phone that is connected to the public phone network, SMS and voice both, is a straight-up shitshow if there’s an election on.

        5. Generic Name*

          Yes, if taking a phone call is inconvenient, let it go to voicemail. I was sitting in urgent care with my husband the other day, and a client called so I let it go to voicemail. I called her back a few hours later and it was nbd.

          1. Quoth the Raven*

            That’s also another thing. Where I live, my plan does not include voicemail. I have to pay extra to hear the message, so I always ignore voicemails.

      3. NotAnotherManager!*

        If someone calls and I can’t/don’t want to talk to them at that moment, I just hit “decline”. It’s no different than not looking at an email or text the second the notification dings or the new message alert pops up on my computer screen. It’s FAR less disruptive than the pop-ins that I got all the time when still in the office. My personal and work phones also have a Do Not Distrurb feature I can turn on to mute alerts if I’m in a meeting/in the middle of work where alerts might be disruptive. (I did find it irritating when one of my direct reports insists on calling me when my status icon clearly shows I’m in a meeting/on another call, but I just talked to him about it directly and he’s mostly stopped doing it and will IM me if my status indicates I’m otherwise engaged at that moment.)

        FWIW, I’m also in my mid-40s and generally hate talking on the phone. But someone reaching out to me via phone is not “interrupting” me and I have control over whether I take the calls or even have my ringer on.

    6. Clara*

      It’s not the same – and that’s freaking wonderful! Because people like you may have found that joy and connection through phone calls, but for people like me, those same calls caused stress, fear, anxiety and sadness. The birth of texting for me has created hope, opportunity, joy, freedom, community, friendship and connection where before there was none.

      It was ten times easier for you to talk? It was a hundred times harder for me!

      1. onco fonco*

        Same. I’m a very few years off 40 myself, I grew up with the phone, didn’t text until near adulthood, and I have always hated the phone. IM is a godsend to me. I can engage with people at a pace that is slower, more relaxed (to me!), that doesn’t stress me out by putting me on the spot. I connect with people 100 times better this way. I’ve formed whole friendships over text that probably would not have happened any other way.

        Phones still exist. Those who like ’em can use ’em. But there are lots of us out there very thankful for alternative options.

    7. MK*

      Eh, even if texting was never invented it’s unlikely that you would be speaking to your friends on the phone every night. Because you are not teenagers anymore. I doubt your parents did it then.

      1. Anon in Canada*

        It’s not necessarily an age thing – just think of the huge amount of phone time seniors have. My (stay-at-home) mom has continued spending tons of time on the phone with friends well into adulthood and now leading up to senior years.

        No one could have predicted these technological changes, even in the first few years of the Internet in the late 90s. For most of the second half of the 20th century, the phone was literally the only way to communicate that didn’t involve delays of several days. It took a few years for alternative communication methods to truly take hold, but when they did, many people who were then still young were just too happy to adopt them.

        This is similar to the slow disappearance of broadcast TV – who would have thought, in 2000 or even 2005, that by the mid-2010s, young people would have largely stopped watching live TV, would not have cable, and that some wouldn’t have TV sets at all? No one saw it coming.

    8. hbc*

      Ask your parents how much time they were spending on random friend calls in the ’90s.

      Don’t blame society for changing when it’s primarily the fact that we’ve aged and have responsibilities and jobs and completely different availability than we did as teens.

    9. Juniper*

      I will sort of agree with you. Perhaps this is out of step with the times, but I still call my friends on a regular basis and even have certain friends that I speak with almost every day. With other friends, we have naturally slipped into texting/messaging, partly because significant time differences make live conversation difficult. Then when we want a good, long conversation, we’ll schedule a time since it can be hard to navigate a 7 hour time difference. So even though I prefer phone calls, texting has made it easier for me to stay in touch with my long-distance friends and I can definitely see how many people prefer this mode of communication. Though I will agree that this new attitude some people have about viewing phone calls as being “disturbed” is not a great direction to be moving in.

      1. Scarlet2*

        Why is it a problem for society to move in that direction though? People just communicate differently and those who prefer phone calls to text are still free to call…

        1. Juniper*

          I think you misunderstood! I meant the direction of viewing phone calls as a rude intrusion, rather than, as you say, just a different way of communicating. I’m all for texting/emailing/messaging!

        2. Tired of Covid-and People*

          It’s a problem because it’s viewing people wanting to connect as a problem, that buffers are required no matter what. Devaluing human connection.

          1. ceiswyn*

            It’s viewing interruption as a problem. Not connection.

            I see it as rude for you to value your desire for immediate interaction over whatever else I might be doing right now. You see it as rude for me to value my concentration, real life conversation, or other activity over your desire to connect right now.

            Is either of those obviously objectively right?

          2. YetAnotherAnalyst*

            Even as a child way back in the olden days, I was taught it was rude to call during specific hours because you were likely to be interrupting folks. The only thing that’s really changed here are that hours are more variable, people have their phones on them all the time, and callers have the ability to chevk if the time is convenient before they call (…unlike all the times my friend’s dad chewed me out for calling during dinner at 8 PM).

          3. meyer lemon*

            It’s just the difference between setting up a convenient time in advance or possibly having to call back and forth a few times instead. Many people find it more convenient to avoid “telephone tag” but I don’t really see how it makes a major difference in communication one way or the other.

            For example, my friend and I usually set up a time well in advance to talk, but that’s because we know we’re going to be talking for multiple hours and don’t want to be interrupted. I don’t think that’s devaluing human connection.

          4. SimplyTheBest*

            I’m connected with my friends and family all day everyday through text. Not a single phone call is needed.

          5. biobotb*

            I don’t think it’s devaluing human connection to realize that the person I want to talk to might be too busy for a phone chat, but free enough to text back and forth to find a good time for that longer, more in-depth phone chat. Who knew wanting to have quality time with a person was devaluing them!

          6. Tinker*

            If someone walks up to me while I’m riding a horse and starts slapping my ass to get my attention, then if they do not have a truly urgent problem they are about to have at least two.

            This is somewhat mitigated if the slapping in question is delivered by phone, in that it’s not immediately obvious what specifically the person is interrupting and I have some additional options for introducing limits on my end, but regardless there is never going to be a direct connection between the smallest whim to connect with me and immediately acting to raise that desire in my presence without limitation on the means, and there are always going to be ways of acting on that desire that are out of bounds even if I don’t render them impossible.

            We can certainly have a dialogue about how much of this we implement in social protocols and how much we implement by technological means — at a certain point if it’s that imperative for my phone not to ring once, it’s on me to make sure it can’t — but the resulting balance is likely to call for some degree of discretion and individual negotiation, and will certainly call for being able to sit with the notion that wanting is fine but wanting is not always getting.

          7. Elsajeni*

            But someone dropping by your house to chat is also someone seeking a human connection, and yet we widely agree that it’s rude to drop by someone’s house unannounced. More people are starting to move unscheduled phone calls into the same category of interruption to their life as unscheduled drop-in visits, is all.

      2. boo bot*

        I think one issue is that it’s just hard not to assign symbolic meaning to our preferences, because they’re preferences about something as deeply important as human connection. To one person, an unscheduled call might be annoying, because it’s interrupting something else they need to be doing; to another person, it’s a welcome sign of closeness that their friend or coworker can reach out without having to plan ahead.

        I’m an avid reader of advice columns of the past and present (uh, clearly) and I’ve read the same arguments about the practice of dropping by someone’s house without warning as we’re seeing now about calling without a text: calling before you stop by is unfriendly; you must think your time is more important than other people’s; nobody values human connection anymore, etc. I think it’s an understandable reaction – when boundaries shift, it can feel distancing, but really, I think people just wanted a chance to make sure the house was clean and the option to set limits on their own time.

        Personally, I like scheduling phone calls because it’s easier for me, but I like it symbolically, too: it means I’m actively making time to talk to the other person, I’m *prioritizing* my connection with them, because I want to talk when it’s convenient for us both and I have the ability to focus on our conversation, the way I would if we were hanging out in person. But if I have friends or family members who value the symbolism of calling me randomly, that makes sense to me too.

    10. SnappinTerrapin*

      If a text exchange reaches the third round, it’s past time to push the green button and have a quick conversation so both parties can get back to what they were doing.

    11. Colette*

      So your complaint is that you want to be able to disturb people?

      I’m busy; I work full time and have activities 4 or 5 nights a week these days, and often on the weekends. I’m happy to talk on the phone with people, but if you call me out of the blue, you are likely to disturb me, even if I don’t answer. If it’s important, that’s OK! But if you just want to chat, I’m not going to be thrilled.

      1. biobotb*

        Yeah, most of my loved ones are busy parents in different time zones. Scheduling a phone chat ensures we actually get to talk to one another. Not scheduling just ensures that we play endless phone tag.

    12. Spicy Tuna*

      Forgive me for my ignorance but your description of typing as “tedious and unsatisfying” makes me wonder…is the act of typing difficult for you? As a mid-20s, I learned how to type when I was 6 and am better at it than both handwriting and speaking. Typing allows me to choose my words wisely and keep track of complete thoughts.

      In my personal life, I find a well-written text more satisfying and a deeper connection with a person – who took the time to think about what to say to me – than a phone conversation where we’re both speaking on the top of our heads about likely nothing of importance.

      1. sb51*

        Yes! I can type as fast as I can talk, or faster, and read WAY faster than I can hear. (I never understood the appeal of audiobooks, because it’d take 3-4x times longer to listen to an unabridged story than to read it, etc.)

        The times when I do love voice conversation is when screensharing is needed — I’m typing and mousing and narrating together (or watching someone else do so).

        1. A Genuine Scientician*

          I listened to audiobooks when I had tedious but essential tasks at work. Like, counting all of the bacterial colonies on hundreds of petri dishes. Most of my friends who listen to them regularly either have long commutes, or are dyslexic.

          Now that that isn’t a major part of my working life any longer, I listen to almost no podcasts or audiobooks, though will make the occasional exception when I’m doing a deep cleaning of the house, or sometimes if I go for a long run outdoors.

          1. sb51*

            I can’t listen to something with plot and drive, at least not in significant traffic — can’t concentrate on both well enough. (And, thankfully for everyone on the road, I lose track of the plot rather than the cars around me.) I will listen to radio news, but if I’ve lost track of the story, they’re on to another story in a few minutes, and they tend to reiterate stuff a lot and not require you to keep track of information — who was that character from a half-hour ago? No idea, I was being tailgated and missed that section. Etc.)

        2. Autumnheart*

          I only got into audiobooks within the last few years, for largely the same reason—I read a lot faster than I listen.

          Basically the appeal of audiobooks is that 1) a well-narrated book is like your own personal radio play, and a good narrator can make even a mediocre book into an really entertaining listen, and b) I can listen to audiobooks while doing things that require my eyeballs. I listen a lot while driving, while taking walks and exercising, and cleaning. I also like them for sleep hygiene, because I don’t want to look at a screen for the hour before bed, but I still want something to keep my mind entertained while I get ready to go to sleep. Audiobooks fit nicely in that space too.

          I still read print books plenty, but now I joke that I like reading so much that I do it with my eyes AND ears.

    13. JustaTech*

      You don’t have to IM me before you call my desk phone, but you also can’t be frustrated when I’m not at my desk and don’t answer your call. If I’m in the lab it won’t matter what phone you call, I can’t answer it (for safety reasons), so you will be stuck with an asynchronous communication.

      If we’re having a *discussion* I am more than happy to talk verbally (phone or WebEx). But if you’re just sending me a piece of information, then it is much easier for me for you to send me an email.

      (I was also a teenager in the late 90’s, and I hardly ever spent the evening on the phone with my friends. That just wasn’t something I did.)

  18. Squirrely*

    LW #1- I love, love face-to-face convos with my boss but in a virtual world we always ping each other first (Google Hangouts or text).

    Today, my boss pinged me to see if I had availability to debrief right after a larger group meeting (good because I needed to wrap something up quickly), and then an hour later she pinged me to talk about our org’s meh response to anti-Asian violence (good because I was coming out of a client meeting). In both times, the unscheduled face-to-face discussion was super fruitful, but would not be replicated by text.

    I think a good analogue is drop-bys when we were in the office. Sometimes, when I had a non-urgent question I wanted to talk about, I’d check my boss’s calendar and then swing by to see if she was in her office and alone. That’s what chat lets me do now!

  19. chersy*

    OP 5 – Is there a way your manager can help her escalate it to the concerned organization? Sharing log in credentials is a grave offense in every company I have worked in. If coworker insists, please refer her to your manager. I also hope that when coworker emails stuff for you to do because of her lack of access, reply and cc your manager so that they are aware that coworker is shirking her duties due to the access.

    1. Salsa Verde*

      Yes, it feels like the manager is the missing piece here – OP should definitely mention this problem to her manager, and also direct her coworker to the manager. And in keeping with the “lets figure out what’s going on here/confusion” that was discussed yesterday, if the OP feels pressured, she could even say, “Oh, let’s pick up the phone and call manager now, and maybe she will be able to solve this situation right now!”

    2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Yeah – I think at this point it’s been a year, time to escalate this to manager. If coworker is just dodging work it will come out, but if there really have been issues getting the access fixed then maybe manager can undo the Gordon’s knot.

  20. Kiitemso*

    LW #1, I think if you are in a field with different designations of urgency, you should definitely ask your team to communicate with you accordingly. I find a phone call signals urgency, whereas people might take a while to get to a text or an email. An IM on the instant messaging app can be replied to quickly but on the other hand, some people are in meetings a lot and cannot type a reply during those. As long as people have a grasp on the right level of urgency and don’t signal everything as urgent, top priority, it is a good policy.

    I got a new colleague last year who still hasn’t quite mastered the order of urgency in our field. I’ve tried telling her we have a lot of field workers or staff who do look at email, but because the volume of email is so big, anything that has to be done by the end of the day or that feels very urgent, should not be left up to email. We have an online directory where you can type in anybody’s name and get their work phone details, so calling somebody is very simple and easy. Of course, not everything is urgent, some things can certainly wait and you can text non-urgent stuff to field workers (who have their cell phones with them in the field) but if it feels urgent, it’s imperative to just make the call.

  21. Myrin*

    Ack, #5, your coworker! She has some nerve being helpless in the face of her non-access to a vital system for over a year (!!!).
    Definitely don’t let yourself be sucked into thinking along the lines of “either I give her my password and resolve it for her, or do her work for her” – no, no, no, those aren’t the only two options! Really, you can just wash your hands off her completely since this is neither your fault nor your problem – think about it, you actually have literally nothing to do with this! Although that’s harder to do, of course, when she keeps coming to you about using your data (and good on you for standing firm!), that basically means she’s involving you against her will, and as such, I’d highly recommend Alison’s suggested wording. But most of all: stand firm and don’t give in to her demands!

  22. Stephen!*

    As to #1, I much prefer text for people who talk too much. I had one coworker who took forever to get to the point on the phone. He’d still respond with a wall of writing over text, but not 15 minutes worth!

    1. ALM2019*

      Seconding this – I have a coworker who will ask if I have “5 minutes for a quick question”. What that really means is a 15-20 minute phone call where only 1 minute is the actual question. He loves to ramble. If I say no send an email it’s usually a one sentence question with an easy answer.

      1. JustaTech*

        I had a coworker who would ramble so long (usually about work, so it was harder to put him off) that the people in his office used to sneak into a spare cube and call the desk phone of whoever he’d trapped for an “urgent meeting”.
        When he got on the phone you could expect at least an hour on the subject, and often the only way to get off the phone was to interrupt him “I am late to a meeting.” and just hang up. His emails and presentations were equally lengthy.

        Another coworker (who hadn’t interacted with him yet) once asked me why he was so rude and horrible. “Oh he’s not rude or mean! He’s the nicest guy! He’s just a firehose of words.”
        You can skim an email. You can’t skim a phone call.

  23. Crowley*

    Tell you what, I know it’s a separate system in #5, but this makes me SO VERY GLAD that about half of our systems now have single sign on. I just remembered the last organisation I worked for where pretty much everything except Office had passwords. Don’t miss having to type in a password for my email every day. (Also don’t miss Lotus Notes!)

  24. cncx*

    RE Op1 in my 40s and also find phone calls really intrusive- because you’re making the person stop whatever it is and listen to you, whereas a text can be asynchronous, people can look at it when they look at it. So i don’t usually call my younger boss, there are a lot of texts/emails like “call me when you have ten minutes to talk about x”

    Also, i work in IT, it’s a pain in the ass to ticket a phone call. I also have one user who absolutely loves to call her tickets in, for two reasons: one, i can do whatever bs she wants immediately (which i think is disrespectful if it is not a show stopper, because she’s basically line jumping her colleagues who more often than her have actual real business critical problems); two, she really expects me to sit on the phone and just wave a wand and fix something while she sits there and like- i may have to open up another portal or console, i may need to check my notes- I can’t just drop everything and do it because you called, i’m not a hotline and i don’t get paid to be hotline or overtime.

    So i’m an old lady but i also think calls are too intrusive and make too many assumptions about someone’s availability. For me a call means, “this is an absolute deal breaker show stopper my computer done broke” and not “how do i change the printer margins on a word document”

    1. We're in IT together*

      I know what you mean, I worked in direct IT for 30 years and have only recently stopped. We had someone taking the calls to log them to cut down on the verbal abuse. We would then reply through the logging system to check somethings and only call as a last resort. The reason ? You cannot ever trust a phone call unless it is recorded. People deny what they said, deliberately lie, “forget” what you told them last time. All you can do is have a written record. I refuse to call people nowadays, I will sent you an email and you can reply via an email. If you ring me, I will detail the phone call on an email and send it back to you to confirm. Then when you claim you actually meant something else I have proof.
      This is what you have to do working in a service industry like IT.

      1. Tired of Covid-and People*

        Nope. I called an HR type with very quick retirement-related questions I was unable to find the answers to myself (Federal retirement is extremely complex and convoluted). This rep refused to call and the delayed responses just added to my anxiety about the whole process. A different rep had no phone avoidance and we had really helpful conversations. Phone avoidance in a service industry is not always good, and can lead to less than optimal service

        1. cncx*

          See though, your example is different- you did all the googling and research you could, then you called. That’s ok in terms of disruption for me. Calling me for something and wanting an immediate answer for when i may need to google myself or call up from my notes, those are completely separate issues, and what frosts me with phone calls.

          On the one hand, phone avoidance is bad. On the other hand, people not being judicious with their phone use is also bad. I have other tasks in my day that aren’t opening a webex to show someone how to move a print margin in word. I can’t have eight hours of “quick questions” all day every day. There’s a difference between someone calling once they exhausted other options and someone calling to outsource their brain/ get immediate gratification/ avoid a paper trail, which is what i and i think We’re in IT Together was getting at.

          Also i’ve had people lie to me on the phone so like, there’s gotta be at least one email to cya.

        2. Yorick*

          Why couldn’t you email your questions to someone and have them respond in an email? Or at least ask them to call you to talk about this specific question?

      2. NotAnotherManager!*

        I work in a time-sensitive service industry, and insisting people go back and forth only via email is a recipe for frustration and waste of everyone’s time. My team is to answer calls and, if they have an email back and forth with someone that lasts more than two to three exchanges, they need to pick up the phone and call. I don’t need twelve emails to document basic troubleshooting when it can be knocked out in a five-minute phone call. If it’s an IT issue, if the person will share their screen with you, it’s far easier to resolve, too. For project calls, we do a quick, “Thanks for your time to speak with me this afternoon, per our call we’ll be doing X by Y.” email for historical reference. If you have to have a phone recording as backup of every interaction, then your organizational culture is not healthy.

        I also have a couple of people whose tone comes across much better in voice communications rather than email. Their emails sound like they’re lecturing people and think the recipient is dumb; their phone calls sound like they want to help solve the problem. (And we are certainly working with them on email tone, but in the near term, the phone is a better choice for them if it’s not a quick and easy answer.)

        1. cncx*

          That’s fair, and there are times when phone avoidance isn’t the best route, but if i’m opening a webex for every IT problem because people can’t read screenshots, i will never be off of webex, which has happened, actually. I also think it’s not a healthy organizational culture when people just think every single minor non show stopping problem is worthy of a phone call. At least check in…

          You’re absolute right about the email tone, however. I work in a country and with another country where emails customarily have greetings, even short ones. Most of the Americans in the office just send the email info and no extra flowery hello, goodbye, thank you, etc and a lot of people took it the wrong way :)

          1. NotAnotherManager!*

            Oh, yes, cross-cultural communications add a special layer of challenge! One of my best people, who in-house teams love for their responsiveness and efficiency, was perceived by a client in another country as terse (lack of flowery hello/goodbye/niceties as well) and pushy (following up within two days of requests, which was far to fast for the client organization). We basically ended up writing a template for that team for that client that included the customary greetings/closings and they could just plug their normal message into the middle.

  25. FashionablyEvil*

    #3–I had a boss who was super flaky about meetings, always late or cancelling on short notice. For a while I got annoyed about his lack of respect for my time, and then I just decided to assume he wasn’t going to show, planned to do something else during that time, and then treated it like a pleasant surprise when he did show up. Made a big difference.

    1. OP LW3*

      OP here:
      This may be what I need to do. I don’t usually take things at work personally, but this person is just generally uninterested and nearly disrespectful to anyone below them.. I was just DONE when I wrote the email to Alison. I’m glad to have the feedback and perspective I’m reading here! I can just keep rolling with it.

      1. Also fed up*

        OP3, I think you’ve provided some useful context here. It sounds like the meetings are just an example of a larger behavior pattern that is frustrating.

        My boss is consistently late to EVERY meeting. I’m in meetings with him 3-4 times a week and been working with him for multiple years, and I can count on my fingers how many times he’s been on time. There is no reason I should expect him to be on time or not having double-booked and forgotten to reschedule, but every time it annoys me and I have similar reactions to what you’re describing – but that’s because I also think he’s underqualified for his role, doesn’t know how to manage, and generally talks down to women. On the other hand, I had a skip level meeting with his boss that got canceled, rescheduled, canceled, and then finally rescheduled and happened – and at no point did I feel that frustration because I generally find him competent, thoughtful, and interested in other people – he did just have higher priorities than me.

        It seems like the meetings are just an easy target, when it’s really about how this person interacts with you and others on your level in general. I think you (and I) would be best served by remembering that it’s not about the meetings and thinking how to change your overall interaction with this person.

        1. OP LW3*

          yeah – this is definitely part of it.
          only small talk about “inside club” stuff, doesn’t speak to anyone not directly reporting to him. I’m in other meetings with this person regularly!!! I report program updates and give matrix-project feedback, and work on deliverables with/for people at this level every week!!!

          it’s the 1:1 meetings and emails that are ignored more than half the time, and I realize I shouldn’t take it personally but it just feels weird in the context of everything else.

  26. Sunflower*

    #1 It’s not generational. I’m older and prefer written communication. I frequently can’t think fast and end up sounding like I don’t know my own job. Written communication allows for me to formulate a smart and professional response.

  27. Helvetica*

    LW#1 – the topic of text vs email vs phone calls always seems to bring heated discussions in this commentariat. I am 31 and I do like phone calls but if it’s really quick things, like confirming something, I do use chat with my colleagues and also my boss. I know my boss has preference for calls and I don’t mind her calling me so maybe that’s also the case with your team that they don’t mind you calling but they wouldn’t disturb you with calls.

    One thing I have noticed with work from home is that many people tend to send texts now to ask if you’re available for a call. But my problem here is that I don’t look at my phone all the time and I miss texts way more than I would phone calls, so I actually have realized I prefer to be called and then I can decide whether to pick up or not. I’m very reactive over e-mail but I just sometimes don’t look at my phone, even if I’m not necessarily busy.

    1. Juniper*

      No kidding! I had no idea people felt so strongly about this topic, one way or the other. And this tiptoeing around phone calls is honestly a surprise. My company culture is that no one expects you to be immediately available to take a phone call, but that you call back at your convenience when you see you have a missed call. Easy and straightforward.

      1. Helvetica*

        I think my organisation culture is very similar! Phone calls are not an obligation but they are the preferred method of communication, along with e-mail. No one thinks they have to drop everything to answer the phone so it’s no big deal if calls are missed. But my experience in AAM has shown me that this is the expectation seemingly in my companies/organisations, which fascinates me to no end.

        1. Juniper*

          Good point that it might be the organizational culture coloring their views on phone calls. If my company expected me to pick up every time my phone rang for whatever reason, I’d probably think the same! I notice you type organization with an “s”, so you’re perhaps not in the U.S.? Neither am I, in which case that could play a part.

          1. Myrin*

            Yeah, it took me literal years to understand why people on AAM felt so strongly that phone calls are interruptions – if every ring of a phone is a direct, unavoidable summons, of course you’d feel that way! Where I’m from, you just let your phone ring its course if you’re not available right then so it’s not much of an interruption generally (although of course there certainly are people who would feel interrupted by a single chime of a nearby phone but in an office environment there are probably other noises on par with that as well so one might need to find a way to deal with that anyway). Very illuminating!

            1. Juniper*

              Very apt descriptor: “unavoidable summons”. Phone calls have never been that way for me, so I guess I’m speaking from a place of phone privilege!

              1. Matt*

                Yes, that’s the way I “grew up” office-wise. On my first day as an intern and again on my first day as a regular employee one of the first things I learned that if you’re there and the phone rings, you take it. And if you’re there, your coworker next to you isn’t there and their phone rings, you use the button to take his call on your phone. No worse mortal sin than an unanswered phone. (I remember one coworker getting heavy flack for consciously not answering his phone while the caller could see him through the window in the opposite building.) And we’re talking about internal communication here, not covering customer support.

              2. Tired of Covid-and People*

                I have ignored phone calls for decades. I pay for my phone service and it is or my convenience. For work, there is voice mail. Nota slave to the ring but I don’t consider it a crime to call either. The feelings here are rather strong.

                1. Bagpuss*

                  I think there is a difference between personal calls and work calls, though.
                  In your own time and your personal line you can do what you want, but in a lot of jobs, answering calls is part of what is expected of you.

                2. Juniper*

                  Yeah, I find some of these extreme reactions to getting a phone call baffling. It’s super easy to adapt your own calling habits to fit your own personal preference/relationship dynamics, so making it a value judgement is odd. (I’m referring to personal calls here, know not everyone has the luxury of ignoring work calls).

            2. Generic Name*

              I feel this way too. It’s like people feel they can’t have boundaries when the phone rings and are compelled to answer. Or else. If you can wait to respond to a text when it’s more convenient, you can also let a phone call go to voicemail. Conversely, if you don’t leave a voicemail, don’t expect a return call. I get a ton of robocalls, and although I normally do answer if I’m available, I won’t dial the number of a missed call because 9 times out of 10 it’s some stranger’s number that’s been spoofed by a scammer.

            3. onco fonco*

              I’m UK based but I’ve never had that experience at work – I’ve always been in a position where the person calling could be a client, and hell yes I’m supposed to answer. But I’ve never held a particularly senior position, so maybe that’s why.

          2. Helvetica*

            I’m not from the US, indeed, but rather Eastern Europe, and the differences in many things in work culture are way more vast than I would’ve expected. It’s fascinating though.

      2. LDN Layabout*

        The reason a phone call feels insistent to me is that all our ‘phone calls’ are now over Teams.

        So what will happen is that I will be working and out of nowhere I get pop ups and my laptop making noises at me. It’s why the company culture, even from very senior people contacting people, is to do a quick check via the chat function to see if people are available before calling.

    2. Nanani*

      Having the phone ring already breaks my focus though, so “just screen calls” is the worst of both worlds.

  28. The Other Dawn*

    RE: #1

    OP, what industry are you in? And do your employees have company-provided cell phones? I think chat and email are fine, and even preferred sometimes, but I’d probably steer your employees away from texting if you’re in a heavily regulated industry. And if there are times when you need to talk something out, and email, chat or text would make that way more time-consuming and/or difficult, you need to explain that to them. They need to understand which type of communication they should use and when.

    I’m in a compliance-related job in banking, and there’s no way I’d be texting with coworkers, my manager, or my team about something job-related, unless it’s someone texting me to say they’ll be late or absent that day. Especially since none of us have a company cell phone (some people do, but we’re not a department that needs them). Chat or email is best because I can easily retrieve the “paper” trail for reference or provide it for an audit when needed. Obviously, though, there are lots of times where we do need to get on the phone because we need to talk out a complex scenario or need to brainstorm. We’ll then follow it up with an email confirming that yes, we decided to open or close that case, or file that report.

    1. New Job So Much Better*

      Exactly the same in the mortgage industry. Emails make a great “paper trail.” But if a coworker is sick or late, a text is fine.

  29. Chriama*

    I’m a millenial and my order of preference for communication is chat > video call > in person > phone call. Phone calls are the worst. Text chat is super convenient because of typing speed and because if I’m working on the computer anyways then it’s super easy to alt+tab to the text software and back to whatever I’m working on. Video vs in person really depends on the scenario, whether I have to travel far, and what I have to do. Phones are just the worst. No body language or ability to see expressions, issues with audio distortion, none of the advantages of face to face contact and all of the disadvantages of long distance contact. I’m so happy for iPhones because I can FaceTime my parents and they don’t need to understand how to do anything.

    1. Tired of Covid-and People*

      I have a blind coworker, so f-2-f contacts offers no advantages with them.

  30. Hotdog not dog*

    For those of us with imperfect hearing, email/IM/text is a godsend. Especially now that I can’t read anyone’s lips anymore even on the rare occasions that they’re in the same room as me. It’s also a huge time saver to preface a phone call with a quick message because it allows me to stick my hearing aid back in, get rid of any background noise, and gather my thoughts for the topic at hand ahead of time.

  31. Detective Amy Santiago*

    LW #3 – I’m curious to know what industry you’re in and if it’s one that has been particularly impacted by the pandemic. The past year has been uniquely challenging for a lot of people both personally and professionally so while I believe Alison is correct that you shouldn’t be taking these missed meetings personally, I do wonder if there is a larger context to it.

    1. OP LW3*

      NOOOOPE. We’re doing just fine.
      This isn’t pandemic related.

      You’re right though, I shouldn’t take it personally! I can work on remembering that.

  32. Bluesboy*

    I realised a few years ago that many people can’t successfully manage the contrast between short and long term priorities.

    A long term priority is something that I believe in, that I know I want to get done, but that are not urgent. For example, in a non-English speaking country, for a lot of executives, English lessons fall into that category. Cancelling one English lesson isn’t the end of the world, even if English is an important priority.

    A short term priority will always take precedence over that English lesson – so the lesson gets cancelled. The problem is when there are continuing short term priorities…so lots of English lessons get cancelled. Net result: the executive doesn’t learn English, even though they genuinely wanted to, and were genuinely motivated to do so. The short term priorities crush the long term priority.

    I think your meetings with the grandboss might fall into that category. The grandboss wants you to have this opportunity – otherwise the meetings would never have been set up in the first place. You ARE a priority. No C-level exec is going to commit to repeated meetings with you for visibility and questions if they don’t think it’s important – you said it yourself “the C-suite rarely speaks to anyone not directly reporting to them”. It’s just that you are a long term priority, and so missing a meeting for a short term priority is reasonable. The problem is that there are too many short term priorities.

    As for how to manage your situation – if you have any input into scheduling I suggest trying to make the meetings first thing in the morning, so it’s less likely that other priorities will have cropped up during the day. I suggest, as Alison said, proposing making them quarterly. When they are monthly, it’s much easier to cancel one because there will be another next month anyway. If you have questions, think about emailing them to the grandboss before the meeting to help them prepare, and potentially make them feel more committed to the meeting as they know they will have important topics to address with you. And make sure that you go into the meetings (when they happen) ready and well-prepped. If the executive sees that it’s a fruitful discussion they are more likely to do their very best to make sure it happens than if it feels more like just a chat with an up and coming employee.

    1. Chriama*

      I feel like I heard something like that in a summary of The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People or a similar book. You can put tasks into a grid with 2 axes of important/not important and urgent/not urgent. If something is important and urgent, it’s an emergency. If you have so many emergency (important + urgent) tasks that you can’t get to the important non-emergencies, you have a workflow issue. The non-important but still urgent tasks should be redistributed, and the non important and non urgent tasks should be put out of your misery and just axed.

      Or something like that, anyway! I think that decreasing the frequency could decrease the importance of these meetings, while reaching out to the boss ahead of time with an agenda or key questions could help increase his sense of urgency.

      1. Archaeopteryx*

        Yes! It’s called the Eisenhower Matrix and I am obsessed with it. A great explainer of it can be found on the blog Wait But Why (see yesterday’s post about lateness)

    2. OP LW3*

      This is great perspective and I think captures what’s happening here really well. Lots and lots of short term emergency types things.. the effect is that we aren’t really having the meeting.

      Since I’m preparing for them anyway, I could email questions or points I wanted to follow up on, while not expecting them to answer emails either.

      I really think quarterly has a lot of benefits. Just need to figure out how to approach that request.

  33. Chilipepper*

    I’m really struggling to say why I prefer texts – I feel like we don’t have the language for what I mean but that has not stopped me from trying to explain at length, below.

    I am almost 60, a boomer, and I much prefer texting for most personal and many work communications. I am perfectly comfortable on the phone and using email so I’m not texting or using our work TEAMs chat due to stress or unfamiliarity with the old ways. It is just better for some things. Also, I have not listened to a personal voicemail in years, if I see there was a call, I just call people back, or more likely, I text them. I really hate voicemail and begrudge the 30 seconds of my life I’ll never get back from listening to someone ramble uselessly.

    Text/chatting feels like a real convo, email feels like the guy who gives a lecture every time he talks at work or at a party. You cannot get a word in edgewise. And phone calls just imply I expect to interrupt what you are doing. I don’t call anyone at work unless I do need to interrupt what they are doing right now and I actually don’t call family and friends very often without making a kind of appointment to talk. For example, I’ll text my SIL during the day to say, want to talk tonight? Half the time she will be busy and suggest a different day or time.

    When I say texts are more like a convo and emails are more like a lecture, I’m not fully capturing what I mean. Texting, or any short back and forth communication, changes the interaction in a key way. Texts are, to me, much more collaborative and informal. Texts are not a single, full message, like an email. You would not email a sentence, get back a sentence, email the next sentence, etc. You could, but we mostly don’t. But you do do that with texts. It means the convo can unfold with back and forth, it can change direction and flow more like a conversation. But like a stretched out convo that allows for pauses to think and do other things. Email at work is often like a short paper with a full idea spelled out. In texts, an idea can be developed and misunderstandings clarified. My boss is super busy and is unlikely to fully read most emails and not infrequently thinks you mean x when you mean y. With texts, which are short, she reads them, and we have a convo in which I can tailor my responses to what she is saying.

    If we were texting, you would have responded very early in this long a** diatribe with an enthusiastic yes, thats right, or a confused, what about this? And I could have cut most of this out or adjusted to make my meaning clearer and shorter. And you might have given me an idea that imporved and clarified my own thinking on this.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Interesting. I can see your point.

      But counter-thesis: sometimes text conversations are like two people talking past each other. Which happens in larger meetings, too – often because people are trying to say something to score points, and not listening to their counterparts.

      There are times where starting with a chat that then goes astray means that I need to move either to a phone/video call or an email. For example, if I have information or context that the other person doesn’t, and I think that’s the reason why their responses are non sequiturs, then it’s incumbent on me to provide the background in a long email. A conversation isn’t the right way to do that – a ‘lecture’, to use your term, is. I’m an engineer, and I work with medical professionals, so 4 paragraphs of dense text with some footnotes or a diagram or a chart are just part and parcel of the job. Informal is not what you want when you’re discussing why one approach is 5% more precise but 10% more expensive.

      So bottom line, Slack/Teams/chat/etc are a good place to start, but in my experience 15% of the time we need to move to another form of communications.

  34. Forrest*

    LW1, I think it’s interesting that you make a step distinction between speech and text, but not between planned / interrupting. I love having conversations, bu to assume that most people have their time mapped out and you bc any just interrupt someone in the middle of whatever they’re doing! Even my manager would IM before phoning to ask if I’m free. I’ve been working with someone this year who just — phones!! when he wants to ask me something!! A d it’s a constant surprise to me. I don’t object to it but tbh this person is super disorganised (lovely, very capable, but disorganised) and I kind of classify it along with the rest of his disorganisation.

    So yeah, I certainly appreciate regular meetings with my manager, but I’ll always default to IM or email for spontaneous contact or raising and issue.

    1. Nanani*

      LW is the manager so they can get away with interrupting because they’re the one with the power.
      The staff probably would be very relieved if manager would just write down what they want and email it (or text, or whatever else the company has available) and stop interrupting them in the middle of a train of thought.

  35. CTT*

    I just typed out the longest comment to LW 5 and then page refreshed! My short version is that while I agree with Alison and the commentariat’s input, I was in a similar situation as LW’s coworker, and when it’s an outside organization’s site, it is really hard to get the issue solved if emails don’t work since there’s rarely an IT number listed to call. If it’s anything like my experience, the coworker is probably going to have to spend several hours trying to get it fixed. She should, for all the reasons mentioned, but I can see wanting to avoid that.

    1. GreyjoyGardens*

      Still, I don’t think the LW is obligated to the coworker in any way; especially if there are very strict procedures around log in security (as many other commenters have pointed out). No way should LW risk anything for this coworker. It’s on Coworker to figure out how to get things done, with the help of her manager if necessary.

      I know that dealing with this kind of red tape and hoop-jumping is a huge pain, but still, it’s Coworker’s circus and Coworker’s monkeys. If Coworker needs additional help, then it’s time for her to escalate up the food chain (to her boss, etc.) and not beg her peer/coworker to please please pretty please do me a hyuuuuuge favor.

  36. Jam Today*

    OP#1 — GenX here and I need things in writing so that I can understand them. I can read, re-read, go back later and re-read again. I can process the information and get it into my long-term memory in a way I can’t do when people are talking to me.

    OP#5 — What on earth? She hasn’t been able to log in to a necessary function of her job for a YEAR? No, no, and no. In my industry sharing a login would get you termed, and there would be major legal repercussions around traceability over access to data. I would imagine since its apparently a government-administered database or function, the same would apply in your industry. If something goes wrong, your login = your fingerprints: everything points back to you.

    1. YetAnotherAnalyst*

      Seconding the memory thing! I get migraines, and they ruin my vocab and my short-term memory for a day or so. So if you catch me on a bad day with a two-minute question followed by the usual social niceties, by the time I get off the call I have only the vaguest idea what we talked about.
      Conversely, I’ve repeatedly saved the day by doing a quick search in Slack and finding out yes, we have seen this issue before, and last year we solved it by doing X, so let’s try that first. At this point, I only use a phone call if I need an answer *right now* or if the subject is sensitive enough I explicitly don’t want a record.

      1. James*

        “I get migraines, and they ruin my vocab and my short-term memory for a day or so.”

        Huh. I wonder if that’s what happens to me….I get migraines, and I’ve noticed that the after-affects can jumble my brain pretty badly. I also have a notoriously bad short-term memory–like I put something down and immediately have no recollection of ever touching it. (Oddly I can identify a rock that I saw 15 years ago, often down to the drawer it was in at the museum.) I never put the two together, though. I’m going to have to check into that. Thanks!

    2. CCSF*

      And seconding the processing thing. As someone with auditory processing issues and/or ADD, written communication is a godsend. I can only take in a certain amount of auditory information, but can go back and read to my heart’s content.

    3. Keyboard Jockey*

      On #5, not only is it likely an immediate term issue, it’s also a HUGE security risk and likely violates the terms of use of the government system. Security and compliance is a whole thing in government systems, and depending on the contents/security level of the system, this could get your entire company in trouble (including potentially losing access completely) if the gov found out.

  37. hbc*

    OP3: If it helps, I have a lot of smaller meetings that are scheduled at a greater frequency than they technically need to occur so that one getting cancelled isn’t an emergency. I can probably get by with one-on-ones with my direct reports once a month, so either side is free to cancel or reschedule our biweekly if something more urgent comes up (or there’s nothing to talk about.)

    Nine meetings in a year would be a *ton* for a skip level like this. I don’t think I’ve had more than a couple grand-boss, non-project-based meetings in 20 years, even when I was officially being groomed for higher levels. I think you need to treat it like a quarterly opportunity and make peace with it. But then, I’ve never understood the whole “If I’m not getting enough of this, I’d rather have none” approach.

    1. Emilitron*

      Agreed, I was just coming in to say that I just established a monthly meeting with my grandboss (not C-suite, just the most senior of our management as opposed to the manager of my projects), and because he often cancels it’s turned out to be bimonthly, which is just about right.

      1. OP LW3*

        Yeah, it isn’t what I’m used to, but that seems to be the general consensus. It’s good to hear what’s normal elsewhere, so I can view it as such.

  38. Miniature House*

    I’m 38 and I strongly prefer text if something doesn’t require a long discussion. The office manager is in his 60’s and will call about every single little question and it drives me crazy. I don’t need to talk to him at dinner time for a yes or no question. Funny thing is we do text a lot during the day because I’m not always available to answer the phone, but when I’m not actively engaged with a client here comes the phone call. It just feels like extra formality and a waste of time.

  39. Miss Betty*

    Nearly 58 and I far prefer text, email, and messaging over phone calls, even socially. I’ve found that there’s less opportunity for miscommunication using written media but also, I’ve also found over the past 15 years that so many people who used to be able to have conversations over the phone now only seem able to have monologs. The number of “conversations” where I can’t get a word in edgewise – or when I keep getting interrupted when I do talk – has grown immensely. I don’t know why. But it sure seems like when people call me (mostly socially) it’s just so they can talk at me, not with me. Its a relatively new phenomenon – about 15 years, as I mentioned – and a very annoying one. Oddly, it coincides with when most of my friends and family members began getting cell phones.

    At work I also prefer written communication – briefer, more clear, less awkward, and it’s not an interruption on either side – though of course there are times when a phone call works better.

  40. jen hen*

    For me, a text/chat message is like leaving my calling card for the butler. You can reply when you’re available or it’s convenient, or when you’re done with your afternoon tea.

    If I’m calling you, it’s urgent and I need you NOW.

  41. Workerbee*

    OP #1, in addition to the “it’s not generational” advice, of which I wholeheartedly cosign and agree with, consider that these are, in fact, real conversations that your employees are having. They just happen to be online. Sure, they may look a little different or even seem too informal, but I’ve noticed over the years how online convos among groups of people develop their own shorthand, cadence, nuances—in short, massive loads of info are being conveyed concurrently as people work, without as much interruption as attending a traditional meeting or a phone or video call often entails.

    At least, that’s how I prefer to work. It feels more streamlined to me and I get tons more done more efficiently.

  42. hiptobesquare*

    #5. As an IT pro, my money’s on that she has never called for support. Changing a password can be done in seconds. That or she struggles with tech to an alarming degree. Raise this to your supervisor for sure.

      1. hiptobesquare*

        If she lost her privileges then it’s unlikely she should still be working. I can’t think of any reason we would disable an account without the supervisors/HRs directive.

        1. Cthulhu's Librarian*

          Eh… I can definitely point to a few times where I’ve been involved in disabling accounts with directives from higher ups – usually when a security audit turned up accounts with permissions they shouldn’t have had (ie, an employee whose account had been given elevated permissions while they were covering another employee’s maternity leave), or old accounts that had never been properly purged from a system/service. On a couple of occasions this has broken things (ie, I once disabled an old account which had a username for former employee X, which was still being used by current employee Y, who had never gotten their own account configured. Current Employee Y should have had access, and did need it for an ongoing set of tasks – but they should have been using an account for them, not their former supervisor’s account), but usually management has said they’d rather I broke things when I saw something that was a security concern, than leave a security hole in place while waiting for them to tell me how and if it should be resolved.

          And I’ve definitely been told to remove someone’s access to systems while they were still employed, if the responsibilities for that system/service were being given to someone else. Sometimes the employee in question wouldn’t know that reorganization was happening or had happened until they next tried to login. Supervisors and HR were definitely involved when that was done, but it didn’t necessarily mean the person who had lost privileges was being laid off or demoted.

    1. Forrest*

      There’s various other things that could’ve gone wrong— someone with a similar name left and the wrong account got suspended, there was an update that left a bunch of mostly-defunct legacy accounts behind and she has had her account long enough that it got caught up in that. If it’s a system you only use a handful of times a year, it’s quite easy to think, “oh, I’ve got to get around to sorting that” but the helpline tells you to call back when it’s less busy and they never seem to pick up your email, and it’s never enough of a priority to devote the several hours it might take to chase it up properly. You don’t have to struggle with tech for this stuff to be something you work around if possible!

      1. pancakes*

        That’s true, but the solution is the same: The coworker has to get her log-in issues sorted out. Using someone else’s credentials is unacceptable.

    2. Orange You Glad*

      Yep. LW also mentions it’s a government website they need access to. The coworker probably needs authorization from someone higher up in the company to get access and may be too afraid to ask for it.
      I’ve been in these situations before where you fill out their help ticket and never heard back. At that point, you find any number you can call and you don’t get off the phone until you speak with someone that can help.

  43. Anon100*

    For LW #1, I think it depends a lot on industry culture and your preferences. The AAM crowd is always more in favor of email/text/slack/whatever, but it definitely isn’t always the preferred way of communication of my bosses and my clients.
    I personally think your staff should defer to YOUR preferences, especially if you’ve directly told them things like “please call me, I rarely look at texts and I’m buried in emails.” Maybe I’m old-fashioned even though I’m early 30s, but since my bosses have straight up told me that they don’t answer texts or slack messages, I don’t do those things to get in contact with them. I call them and leave voicemails because that’s what they want. On the other hand, I honestly don’t care how junior staff tries to contact me – calls, emails, text, slack, I will eventually get to reply, although my favorite form is in person (obviously not available now).

  44. CCSF*

    In my team of three, one of us is almost always in a meeting, in a training, or away for [insert reason here]. Using Slack is how we get things done–because if it’s a phone call between two of us, the third person is left out of the loop.

    OP1 didn’t specify whether this was 1:1 communication or with a team, but it’s another angle to consider. In the above situation, not communicating by phone/verbally actually make us more productive because we don’t have to spend time catching the other(s) up.

  45. Fed-o*

    Government manager here. I’m going to answer as if you have access because you are a government contractor, because if you are this is potentially very serious already. If this is just a government database (like permitting) that private enterprise has access to, the concerns may not apply as stringently. That said, if it’s government-related, don’t take chances.

    If you work for a government contractor: I encourage you to report it to your manager. I’d expect staff to tell me (or their direct manager) if someone was pressuring them for logon information. That in and of itself is a potential reason to remove an individual from a contract–it’s a major security risk. Maybe she did forget her password, but that doesn’t make sense. There’s always a way to reset it. But given the nature of government information, and the reason that logon info is so tightly controlled to begin with, the whole situation raises red flags for me. e.g. Is she trying to access something without tying it to her? Frankly it would raise concerns if an employee being pressured didn’t tell a manager about something that is so beyond the pale in government work. I get that some industries don’t have that level of security, but no matter the level of government, we are often dealing with PII, contract info, internal deliberations, procurement, etc. That’s your info and your tax dollars and we have a legal and moral responsibility to protect both. It’s not throwing someone under the bus to report this.

    Okay, now if this *isn’t* that type of situation…I’d suggest you forward her instructions on resetting her password. Yes, it’s her problem to figure out, but if you do that and she asks again, it’s easy to report that:. She’s asked you for your credentials, you provided the info so she can solve the alleged problem, and then she asked for credentials again. That’s a reasonable thing to bring up the chain. Going to your supervisor now without doing that step is also just as valid.

  46. Grump*

    LW2 – I second Alison’s advice and thank you for writing because my spouse needed to see her answer as well! He’s in a similar position at the moment – he was told on his first day that he’d be supervising staff after accepting what he thought was an individual contributor role. There was nothing in the job description about supervisory responsibilities and no discussion about supervision during the interview process. His salary is totally inappropriate for what has essentially become a department head position and, to top it all off, the higher-ups keep dumping work unrelated to his field on him because they don’t seem to know who else to give it to. In three months, his position has become unrecognizable from the job description he relied on in accepting it. He’s miserable but has been afraid to tackle it directly with his supervisor.

    I’m wishing you good luck and success in dealing with your situation!

    1. LW2*

      LW2 here – thank you so much for your comment! I’ve had jobs before where it felt like I had no choice but to accept the unfair situation, and this time I’m determined not to let them set a precedent of being able to add responsibilities without the appropriate change in compensation. Good luck to your husband as well!

  47. Mimi*

    A note about the concern that your team not see you as approachable — in my experience (as a 30-something who’s mostly worked with 20- and 30-somethings), while chat can be the method of reaching out with the lowest barriers, it’s also more likely to be used with people who are seen as approachable. In my experience, if someone has a tech question that they’re embarrassed about or that they don’t think is worth a formal ticket, they’re more likely to chat whichever tech they feel most comfortable with, rather than going through the formal ticketing process.* I’m happy to chat my boss, but I would email or schedule a meeting with a higher-up I found intimidating or felt unsure with.

    That said, I have also noticed that people will default to texts when it’s hard to get a manager’s attention, but they will reliably respond to texts. I don’t see any evidence that this is the case here, but my old grandboss would ignore multiple emails, and might acknowledge something in a meeting and not follow through, but if I texted him he’d almost always do it right away.

    *Side note: Your techs would probably much prefer a ticket. It’s not “bothering them,” it’s allowing them to manage their workflow all in the same queue.

  48. Sharikacat*

    I find that texts/e-mails are good for quick, non-time sensitive questions. I don’t need to potentially pull someone’s attention from important work for something that can be answered in a couple texts or to deliver an update. Most people are good about checking their phones often that unless I need an answer *now,* I’ll hear back soon enough. On top of that, it doesn’t require people to have all of their information for follow-up questions ready, which goes back to being aware of the other person’s time. Same with chats. It allows for multi-tasking. So while it may seem impersonal, communication via texts can be more respectful of the other person’s time in that you are not demanding a block of time with a voice or video call but allowing them to respond in a quick and convenient manner when it suits them.

  49. BlueBelle*

    Are these skip level meetings supposed to be monthly? That is too many. I would suggest once a quarter and it should be well organized with the help of your current manager or the talent and leadership development team. Each of the four meetings should have a set topic and agenda to talk about. If it is just a general “book a meeting and chat” someone at level isn’t going to have the time or patience for it. My suggestion for topics: their career path, how did they get where they are? What do they wish they knew when they were at your level? YOUR short term and long term career goals, their advice on your development. Business acumen. Industry trends and direction.

    1. OP LW3*

      Yes, the monthly meetings were planned for me by boss and grand-boss.
      It was not my request, it was their idea and design.
      They clearly over-estimated, LOL… I think quarterly would be a good solution.

      Aside from that point: The speed of our current business won’t allow for much patience on the “tell me about your career path” type of conversation, but luckily I have great mentors for that!

  50. HLKHLK1219*

    Do NOT give your password to your coworker. You are absolutely correct that this is a 5-minute phone call with Tech Support. The fact that she KEEPS insisting? Do you know what can happen to you personally/professionally, and the extent of the liability you could face if when she uses your account to do things she is not allowed to do? Like tell the C-suite to go f-themselves, or to wreck your work products, or modify the systems in a way that looks like you did it.

    LW – you NEED to go to HR and report this immediately. There are reasons for forbidding employees from sharing passwords, and there are also reasons why the sanctions for those who disobey are harsh. I know this from personal and professional experience, having watched the extent of damage that an employee who seems like a “really really nice guy” tried to do to others when he used their accounts to lock the company out of our primary accounts and send communications that looked like they came from others.

  51. theletter*

    #5 – just take care of this now. Find a recent email where she’s asked for this, reply to her and forward to both your bosses that you cannot share logins. Requests for login access should be considered a security threat.

    1. Cthulhu's Librarian*

      Requests for login access should be considered a security threat.

      Emphasis on this part – because they are one.

    2. HLKHLK1219*

      This. GREAT Advice.

      I know most people aren’t going to be evil elves trying to wreck others’ lives or careers, but the problem is that the harm that can occur from trusting the wrong person is too great to risk it. The worst month of my entire career was when the (now-ex) employee took our company hostage. It took us weeks to try to regain access from vendors, and then took years to recover from the harm that he did during his time with our company.

    3. Catabodua*

      And I would add – do it every single time you get an email request like that. Forward it along, with the note that you can’t share your credentials and they need to contact xyz to resolve.

      1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        The simplest thing to do to document something like this in most cases (might not work here because it’s an external account) is to reply to the message and cc IT on it. Your reply would be something like “I can’t let you use my login because that’s a security issue, so I’m looping in IT so they can help you get yours working again instead.” This loops in someone whose job it is to care about Not Sharing Logins and who can also presumably fix the login issue. It also will probably discourage the co-worker from ever asking for your login information again.

  52. Ruby*

    LW1, when the phone was first invented, there was hand-wringing about how rude and disruptive it was. So you can look at it like we are going back to more civilized, written communication.

  53. Hiring Mgr*

    I don’t understand #5… How can a year have gone by and the employee is unable to login, or to get answers on how to do so, or on why they can’t?

    1. Asenath*

      I suspect the employee finds it a lot easier to get OP to do the work than to get her own login fixed – and it’s never been difficult anywhere I’ve worked to sort out any problems with my login. Or else #5 co-worker is doing something she doesn’t want on her record. Like so many commenters, I’ve never worked anywhere that it is permissible to use someone else’s login credentials – even when the same workers use the same email account (tracking and responding to general inquiries sent to the office email account, for example) they all log in with their own credentials.

    2. Catabodua*

      We have been remote for a year and have an employee who regularly claims the VPN won’t work. It works fine when she’s on the phone with her manager and IT, but then gosh darn it, stops working again the very next day.
      She’s simply not working and management is letting her get away with it.

      I suspect the same sort of thing is happening here.

    3. Ellie*

      Well, I had a situation like this, where I had a login that was for a specialist system, and every single time I tried to use it, something would go wrong. This lasted about six months, and eventually it was found to be a combination of things (different versions of software conflicting with other software, bugs on their end, incompetence on both our ends, me not realising that the password reset rules were very different on this system than on every other one we deal with, etc. etc.) The difference was it wasn’t my core login, it was a specific privileged account, so I could still do 95% of my work. Also, I kept raising it, again and again, until it was fixed. It would never have occurred to me to ask to use someone else’s credentials, as I was well aware I would be fired and probably banned from ever working in that industry ever again if I had.

      So, it can happen, but the co-worker is still taking advantage.

  54. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

    OP4 (listing for own job continually being left up / refreshed) – I would also find this highly disconcerting (to the point that I’d start to wonder what the ‘real’ reason was and if I was being fobbed off, after a while). Clearly someone or something is posting this ad every couple of days!

    When you discuss this with the boss I think it’s worth mentioning that aspect – not just hoping that the boss is close enough to it to realise that on their own.

    OP4, has the same thing happened for other positions (that have been filled) in your organisation or is this something that’s only happened for you?

    1. Esmeralda*

      It’s more likely “something” (automated) than “someone” because “someone” would have to take the time to remember it and do it, over and over, in which case why not take the time to turn it off.

      1. serenity*

        Every organization I’ve worked in (to this day), it’s been a manual process for HR to post or re-post job listings. I would find this disconcerting too, and even more so if it’s continuing (and across multiple platforms it sounds like?).

        Presumably, some of those same folks reaching out to OP4 have applied to the listing if it’s still live. Either there may be something more nefarious (the org is continuing to collect CVs in case they think OP may not work out) or HR does not care or closely monitor incoming applications. Either is…odd.

        1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

          Yeah, that’s the part that gave me pause: as you say, presumably some people are applying to this (either after contacting the OP, or just ‘independently’). So HR/whoever receives these applications are getting people applying for the Llama Groomer position and… what? Rejecting them? Ignoring them? “Not having a vacancy at the moment, but keeping them on file”? (As the HR person I’d be getting annoyed with receiving these and putting a stop to it myself, I think!)

          I wondered if it was some automated process and it does seem most likely but it could also be something like a manual review every few days of a list of open positions and just pressing “re-submit” on all of them perhaps.

          1. serenity*

            Exactly. I mean, without knowing more, maybe this isn’t a big deal and it’s a well-run org and it’s only HR that’s a little off. But I would side-eye a business that leaves open positions (or constantly reposts them!) for months that they have no intention of hiring for….and just not bothering to clean this up.

    2. Sylvan*

      Probably more likely to be “something” than “someone.” Some job sites pull listings from other job sites, and they keep automatically copying one another and reposting their own versions of listings even after the original job listing has come down.

      1. DJ Abbott*

        From what I’ve seen in my job search, this happens a lot. I cancelled google job alerts because they were giving me old or fake listings from boards I never heard of. One job I saw several times was for a company whose web site didn’t work! These stupid automated boards will keep reposting it till we’re all gone.
        If only smart competent people were using the internet… sigh.

  55. Nanani*

    Lw1 – A lot of people have covered written records and interrupting, but another advantage of not-phone is that with an email, text, or any other asynchronous message, I can take my time to think through what I want to ask – or the response to what I’ve been asked – and often come up with a better message than if I was on the spot doing it in real time.

    Many times, half way through composing an email, the answer will come to me or I’ll remember a piece of context.
    Then I can just, not send it, instead of having interrupted someone, gone through several minutes of “how are you” and introducing the topic and so on, only to have wasted two people’s time when I remember it myself.

    Some people clearly get a similar affect from talking AT their colleagues or the reports and I promise you a non-zero number of them hate being a human sounding board.

  56. Elmyra Duff*

    I’m in a similar situation as LW2. I already negotiated a raise after three months at my current job, which ended up being way more than the job description described. Now six months in, my job is changing entirely starting next week. I can’t decide if I should try to negotiate again or not. It’s a small agency and the owner already holds it over my head that she gave me a raise. I’ve been applying for other jobs, but I need to hold onto this one for now.

    1. LW2*

      LW2 here – It’s changing as in they’re adding more responsibility? Oof, I don’t like that the owner isn’t letting the original raise go.

      1. Elmyra Duff*

        Yep! Going from creating social media content for like 3 clients to running paid ads for 15+ clients. And she’s…a lot to deal with.

  57. Esmeralda*

    Boomer here. We can use the chat in our work gmail accounts — I love it. I just have to remember to turn on the history. Faster than email and more likely to be seen. Closest thing to popping over to someone’s office without actually being there.

    I love texting as well. My family texts a lot, we have a big group text and I can tell when they’re on lunch break or getting off work because my phone starts tweedling!

  58. JC Denton*

    #1: It’s often faster to communicate via text. It’s also asynchronous, so there’s no impact to multi-tasking. I also find that people who want to use the phone over text have a terrible habit of simply messaging, “hello,” and then nothing else for five plus minutes when they do text! I guess it’s fair to say that I’m thoroughly entrenched in the #nohello camp. (FWIW, I usually say something like, “G’morning, so and so! Any updates on XYZ?”) There are definitely some conversations better suited to voice and even some that require face-to-face, but your corporate culture will help suss that out.

    #3: It’s sadly been a few years since I’ve regularly browsed AAM. I noticed tea pots are now frowned upon. Are llamas the new standin replacement?

    #5: If she’s actually asking for credentials, that’s usually a huge no-no and likely a reportable security incident. I’d highly advise checking your security policies and consider whether an incident report of some sort is necessary. Some people will say this is jumping the gun, but something seems off with her being unable to get what seems like a simple account issue fixed.

    1. Adultiest Adult*

      We alternate between teapots (usually chocolate) and llamas these days. :) But Jane, Fergus, and Wakeen still show up frequently.

  59. Elenia*

    Part of it is cell phones too. We traded crystal clear sounds on our landlines for fuzzy calls, dropped calls, and not clear sounds but convenience and portability. I HATE talking on my cellphone. It is never going to be as good or as comfortable as a normal handset.
    I am firmly Gen X (45) and I could do without my phone ever ringing again. I don’t mind making phone calls, but I don’t like anyone to call me without letting me know ahead of time. Texting/IM/Email is so much better.
    Even in collaboration meetings, when you write on this big sticky pads, or whatever, do you not take a photo of them at the end? Do you copy everything by hand? Or does someone eventually….TYPE IT UP AND PASS IT AROUND? So why not use a digital whiteboard if you can?

    1. James*

      “So why not use a digital whiteboard if you can?”

      Because my notes aren’t going to be useful to you, and vice versa. If I’m the head llama breeder, and you’re the head llama groomer, we may need to be in the same meeting about llama welfare but we’re going to get very different things out of it.

      There’s also the fact that people take notes differently. I do a fair bit of doodling in my meeting notes. Okay, yes, sometimes it’s me bored out of my mind on my fifth call that week. Just as often, though, I’m doodling information about the meeting. It’s part of my background; by my nature and training I’m a visual thinker. Sometimes it helps others wrap their heads around things, but most often they have no interest in it.

      Maybe my job is unique, but I doubt it. It’s very, very common for us to have meetings where we pull people in specifically to get this variety of experiences and backgrounds and perspectives, and often we each go away with a list of tasks unique to our role in the project. Our notes simply wouldn’t be helpful or useful to other members of the team.

    2. Orange You Glad*

      I actually have the opposite problem re: phone clarity. The phone system in our office is terrible and frequently it’s just fuzzy. When those calls are forwarded again to our home phones, they become almost unintelligible. I end up using my personal cell phone a lot because it’s reliably clear. WFH this past year has finally gotten most of my company using IM/video calls via Teams and it’s so much easier to communicate now.

  60. Fiona*

    Re: #5, I heard this phrase once and really liked it: your colleague needs to stop treating your brain like her external hard drive.

  61. Empress Matilda*

    OP5, I’m in an IT-adjacent field, and your entire letter is giving me hives. I can’t believe the coworker thinks this is an okay thing to ask even once, let alone multiple times. No wonder you’re so annoyed!

    I agree with the others who are saying to change your password, and do not even for one second entertain the thought of sharing it with her. Then I would do a couple of other things as well:
    ~Alison often advises people to address the pattern, rather than each specific incident. You could say something like “You keep asking me to give you my password – you know the employee handbook says it’s not allowed, right? I want to be clear that I am never going to do this, and you need to stop asking.”

    ~Also, this is the kind of thing that you absolutely should escalate to your manager. Because really, it’s so incredibly inappropriate to be asking people for their passwords – and it’s not like this is some big secret rule that nobody knows about, it’s literally the entire reason we have passwords in the first place. The fact that she asked once is a problem, but the fact that she *keeps* asking is a Really Big Problem. If you don’t have a good relationship with your manager, or if she doesn’t address the problem, then your next step would be an IT manager.

    And you don’t need to worry that this is an overreaction. It’s not about her not doing her work (which I’m sure your manager would also like to know about!). It’s about her deliberately and repeatedly trying to get around security protocols, which are clearly spelled out in the employee handbook. Any halfway decent organization would want to know about this, and shut it down immediately.

    Good luck, and please let us know how it goes!

  62. Ash*

    Pre-pandemic, it was nearly impossible to get anyone on the phone. It’s very rare in my field (healthcare) for people to be at their desks for extended periods of time. And it seems that *no one* checks their voicemail anymore. So email or chats/Slacks/etc. seemed to have a more consistent response rate.

  63. Pumpkin215*

    I’m GenX and much prefer chat, text or email over phone calls. There are 2 reasons for this:

    I had a previous boss that was a complete Chatty Cathy and I could not stand being on the phone with him. A quick question about work meant I would be held hostage for 45 additional minutes listening to what he ate for dinner last night, that his kids were acting up, his snow blower wouldn’t start, his upcoming doctor appointment, what he thought of so-and-so in the company, why he deserved a raise, why someone else didn’t, and BLAH, BLAH, BLAH.

    Second, the same boss liked to “forget” things he said he would do by a certain time. Or certain directives he gave. He literally admitted to not wanting “a paper trail” so that nothing could be held against him. It was easy to claim he “never said” something when there was no proof he actually did. He was the worst manager I ever had.

    Documenting items are great for future reference and emails can be answered when it is convenient for me. An unscheduled phone call demands attention and may last longer than anticipated. For me, it is about efficiency.

  64. Bookworm*

    LW1: I would say it could be generational or it could be the “go to” method of preference. I’m more of an email/chatter rather than phone/video (or text, really). I find it easier when I have it in writing but do concede that sometimes phone/video is better for tone, facial expressions, etc. You could always ask. I’ll admit to finding a former supervisor intimidating but he was always open to chat/email/face to face meetings.

    LW2: Rooting for you! No advice but hoping you get that raise.

  65. OyHiOh*

    RE LW 1 – I’ve come to heavily rely on text/chat/email for communication at CurrentJob, because the industry is brand new to me and while the generalities of a task are no big deal – lets say, send an email to a niche group of stakeholders – getting the specifics right involves language and concepts that are still unfamiliar to me. Having an email or chat to refer to helps me get my work done without needing to run multiple drafts by my boss.

  66. Mike*

    If the posting is being refreshed every few days, there’s got to be something automated going on, no way is a person manually refreshing a posting for a job that was filled months ago. I could see being worried if it had recently reappeared, but it sounds like it never got pulled at all.
    This won’t get fixed until it becomes someone else’s problem. Every time someone reaches out to you about it, you need to forward that message along to your manager and/or HR with a confused note: “I thought you said we weren’t hiring any more llama groomers, but apparently there’s a live posting for one, so I’m passing this along to you.” Keep repeating with every inquiry you get until someone finally takes action. If your boss or HR tells you to tell the person you’re not hiring, push back and say “I don’t have any visibility into staffing or hiring decisions and I don’t want to potentially give incorrect information. This news is best coming directly from [manager/HR]. Thanks!”

  67. Rusty Shackelford*

    Just don’t be the guy who doesn’t like to call *or* email, but prefers to wander into my office unannounced, expecting me to drop whatever I’m doing to talk to him. I don’t like that guy.

  68. James*

    LW #5: Something to consider is that depending on the line of work you’re in, you could face fines, prison time, and/or prosecution if you give your coworker your password and they see something they’re not supposed to. There are multiple laws (HIPPA’s a big one, but not the only), and there are certain headings work falls under (such as Critical Energy Infrastructure, various levels of personal data, confidential records, classified information [yes, private contractors can get access to this]), where unauthorized people even seeing the information is a crime. I’m not allowed to have certain information on my desk if I walk away due to this.

    Even asking is a HUGE red flag. In many companies asking once is supposed to immediately trigger elevating the issue. Asking multiple times is ground for disciplinary action, including termination.

  69. Clisby*

    Am I the only one who has a landline where I can turn off the ringer and a cell I can set to vibrate/no sound? Nobody can disturb me with a phone call unless I allow it.

    1. James*

      Even if it does ring you don’t have to answer it. My father was notorious for letting phones ring while he worked. Folks would say “You have to answer that!” He’d respond “No, they have to leave a message. I’m busy.” He also carried around a hard-copy pocket calendar, a habit I’ve copied, where he kept everything that he needed to keep track of–due dates for reports/proposals, important milestones, birthdays, anniversaries, everything. He used to joke that folks who kept track of this on their phones would look for a solid two minutes for the info, while he’d just flip to the page and there it was.

      Old-school, yes, but not necessarily a bad thing.

      1. Nanani*

        That’s kind of worse though?
        The ringing is still disruptive, and playing voice-mail tag is more annoying. Re-listening to voice messages to try to catch a phone number or meeting time that got garbled by background noise is painful. And the whole process has now wasted both your time and theirs.

        1. James*

          Dad wasn’t the type to easily get distracted. I know for a fact he once had a knife blade jammed into the bone of a finger, and he didn’t get it treated until his task (home maintenance, not on a job) was completed, on the grounds that a knife wound is a minor inconvenience not worth noticing. Others would find a ringing phone more distracting, yes.

          And generally Dad didn’t play phone tag. If someone just left a voicemail “Call me” or “We need to talk about X” or something he simply wouldn’t answer–his attitude was that any such calls were an indication that you hadn’t sufficiently thought this issue through, and he wasn’t going to waste his time dealing with half-formed ideas. Partly this was because he was too busy, partly because (and he made no bones about it) he was too good for such crap–and if you were competent, so were you. He was a civil engineer, and took the view that since people lived and died based on his work the minimum standard was perfection. If the message required him to take some action he’d do it and let you know when it was done. If the message DID require a response, he had time scheduled in his day for emails and phone calls; he’d get to it then.

          It can be a pain, yes. I’ve had to call him in a semi-official capacity a few times over the years, and had to deal with his quirks. But we all have our quirks, and his are no worse than most.

          I’ll grant that most of us can’t get away with that attitude. Dad did because his role was very self-driven and didn’t involve a lot of contact with folks outside his group, and he was good enough at it to get away with his behavior. But I do agree with him that the issue is cultural, not inherent in our technology. There’s no reason you can’t leave me a voicemail saying “I reviewed the teapot QC data, I need you to check the gauges because we’ve got an unacceptable amount of variance.” Simple, actionable, doesn’t require me to call you back until I’ve done the thing. For the issues where you do need a response from me, it’s vary rare–far more rare than people think–that the response actually needs to be immediate. Most of the time, it can wait until my schedule allows me to respond. I’d say that 8 out of every 10 “I need a response now” contacts (email, phone, text, IM) I get aren’t actually that urgent. And I work in a role where responding to immediate issues is literally part of the job.

          Most of the time what I’ve found is that the person emailing, IMing, or texting is treating their view that this is a high-priority issue as somehow universal. Part of this is sloppy planning–because we can communicate so rapidly, we tend to under-plan things, from field work instructions to requests for data, on the premise that we can always contact the person later and revise it. This causes us to ask for incomplete data, or to not give enough lead time to complete the thing, or the like. I know I’ve fallen into that trap, and I know a few managers have as well (and told me openly that this is how they work). Part of the issue is that everyone thinks their own stuff is critically important (otherwise why would we be doing it?), and therefore everyone else should as well. There are no doubt other factors playing a role as well. But at the end of the day, that has nothing to do with technology; it’s people that are the problem.

    2. The Other Dawn*

      I agree, Clisby. If I don’t want to be disturbed, I just silence my phone or silence the phone/meeting app on my work computer.

  70. Iliana*

    To LW3,
    I really relate to this. I think it’s not personal to you that they are cancelling on you, they probably are just too busy but I would argue that as the ceo you should make time they have already committed to. The best CEOs make time for investing, coaching and mentoring so if they are treating those people they’ve committed to that way, then they are probably not the people you want to learn from anyway. You sound interesting, curious and ambitious don’t let a grand boss determine your career. You’re much a much MUCH better than that

  71. RussianInTexas*

    GenX here.
    I hate phone calls with a passion, even though sometimes I have to take them – life in the customer service.
    In my current job, it’s almost exclusively Slack inside my department, e-mails only between departments, calls never happen. If it’s not in an email, it didn’t happen. We don’t do video calls at all, as in never ever.
    In personal life, I can’t remember when I talked on a phone to a friend, it must be over 10 years. Texts, IM, e-mails only. Same for most of my family, texts or Whatsapp. The only person I talk on the phone are video chats with mom who is overseas. My dad loves texting.
    For me phones are super awkward. And I always feel people don’t understand my accent, wherever it’s true or not. In person it’s totally fine.
    If someone I know calls me out of the blue I would think someone died or something.

    1. James*

      “..calls never happen. If it’s not in an email, it didn’t happen.”

      That’s precisely what makes phone calls so valuable. ;)

  72. A*

    OP 1: I would also take into consideration whether your reports have meeting intensive schedules. In my line of work we are almost always in meetings, and IMing is the only way to multitask in the immediate (we receive hundreds of emails a day each so email is not very efficient for internal one on one convos). That being said, I do agree that there is value in having more open ended verbal conversations – everywhere I’ve worked we’ve had 1:1 meetings setup with our managers ~once every two weeks. Aside from that we IM as needed.

    If I was expected to call my boss every time we needed to communicate – we’d literally never get anything done. Unless we schedule ahead of time a few weeks out, there’s usually only 2-3 half hour blocks throughout the month where we are both readily available.

    This might appear to be generational to a certain extent, as to Alison’s point this has been the norm for long enough now that a decent portion of the workforce has only known it to be as it is now. But that’s where the generational influence ends. I work with people of all ages, different countries, different walks of life – and we all are on the same page in wanting to fulfill our job requirements in the most efficient way possible. (one exception being an older colleague that still prefers FAX, but he’s on his own as most of our suppliers and internal folks don’t even have a fax machine or know how to use one)

  73. Queen of Bananas*

    OP #5 this maybe a time to look at the post from yesterday regarding how to professionally call BS.

  74. Jessica Fletcher*

    #5 – Forward her request (or send a new email if she doesn’t ask you via email) to your manager, with her copied. “Susan has been trying to resolve IT issues with her login credentials for several months, to no avail. Are you able to help escalate the issue with IT?” If it’s really a problem, this should help solve it. If it’s BS, it exposes her under the guise of being helpful.

    Absolutely do not share your password on a government system (or any system, for that matter!) You will be liable for anything she does while using your login, and even the act of sharing passwords puts your organization at risk when it’s inevitably discovered in a system audit.

  75. Perfectly Cromulent Name*

    I’m 40, but I’d MUCH rather text/Teams/Slack/Email than talk on the phone. If I never had to talk on a phone again, it would be a dream come true. Talking in person is fine, but I hate the phone and avoid talking on it as much as possible.

  76. Mayflower*

    LW#4: The websites that have job ads, rental postings, dating ads, etc. are absolutely horrible at taking down posts. They want users to feel like they have a lot of “inventory” so they purposely keep ads long after they expire. Even worse, they re-post each other’s ads! As someone who’s posted job and rental ads, I can’t tell you how hard they make it to remove your post (or impossible if it’s a re-post). So your company may not be at fault here.

  77. All Outrage, All The Time*

    Exactly. This needs to be escalated to their manager to solve. It’s not OPs problem.

  78. Chickaletta*

    #3 – Your friend here is C-boss’ EA. Reach out to them first, if you haven’t already, in a friendly manner to ask if you can/should reschedule your meeting the next time it gets missed or canceled. The EA knows C-boss’ situation better than anyone, what their preferences are, what they want to do vs. need to do, etc. and they can help get you a meeting if that’s what everyone wants to have happen. If C-boss doesn’t want meetings with you any more then the EA can help communicate that too (and please don’t take it personally if they don’t! C-suite execs have a meeting schedule that would make your head spin and they have to fight for bathroom breaks sometimes, no joke. I actually think that monthly 1:1s with someone who isn’t their direct report was probably a little ambitious – quarterly sounds about more right). Anyways, good luck and do make connections with the EA, they can really help you in this situation.

    Signed, an EA.

  79. RebelwithMouseyHair*

    OP1 I’m not “younger staff”, but I will almost always text people rather than call them. As an introvert doing a job that requires long stretches of uninterrupted concentration, I hate being interrupted and thus also hate to interrupt. At my previous job I think I called my direct manager only once in seven years without setting the call up via text first, and that was because a tramp had elected to sleep next to our front door, making it impossible to raise the shutter to get light in, and also obliging us to walk past him to get in and out. I was working alone with one other woman in that office at the time, so this wasn’t viable for us and I felt that the manager should know that we were in danger from a scarface swigging beer at 9 am.

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