coworkers keep interrupting my closed-door meetings, is it weird to throw a party for coworkers at your house, and more

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

1. Coworkers keep interrupting my closed-door meetings

I am wondering how to address what seems to be an organization-wide lack of office etiquette. I was recently in a meeting with my boss, the CFO, in my office. We were discussing a serious matter and the door was shut. Yet two staff members felt it was appropriate to knock anyway, for access to non-urgent things like petty cash and use of the corporate gas card. My boss was standing near the door and opened it, visibly annoyed. He made a comment to the the two interrupters about the situation, but this is almost a daily occurrence and those two coworkers are not even the worst offenders. Today, I was interrupted (closed office door) by a staff member from another department asking if I knew where there was a vacuum cleaner they could use! That kind of pushed me over the edge, and the tone of my response was not the kindest. I indicated that I was unaware that cleaning equipment was part of the staff accountant job description and the person left in a huff. This goes on daily, even with a do not disturb sign on the door … even during an audit!

They are usually staff members from other departments. While I consider them peers in that I’m not a supervisor of any staff, in our company chart I am above them. My boss thinks I worry to much about being liked and I haven’t set appropriate boundaries because of this. He’s not wrong! I tend to let things that annoy me build up, until I eventually blow my stack. I know I need to be more direct, but my first go to about this situation was to put a sign on my office door which seems too passive aggressive. Please help before I really lose my cool!

A sign isn’t passive-aggressive; it’s practical and direct. Since you’re apparently working in an office where people think it’s fine to knock on a closed door even for minor things (and in some offices, it genuinely is) and you don’t want them to, put a sign on your door that says “in meeting — please do not interrupt.”

If someone knocks anyway (or if you forget the sign one day), it’s fine to say to the interruptor, “I’m in a meeting right now — please come back when I’m out” or “I’m in a meeting, but I’ll find you later” or so forth. If someone is a repeat offender, address that with them privately later: “When you see my door closed, please assume I’m busy and can’t be interrupted — send an email about what you need and I’ll see it when I’m done.” But none of this needs to involve blowing your stack! When you realize you can assert reasonable boundaries in a matter-of-fact way, you’re far less likely to end up frustrated to the point of losing your cool.

2. Is it weird to throw a party for coworkers at your house?

I work for a company that generally encourages team members to socialize and become friendly outside of work. I didn’t mind this when we were in-office (we have been working from home since March 2020) as this usually meant lunches, early dinners at restaurants, or happy hours near work. However, I have been on three calls this week where someone said, “When we are all vaccinated I’m going to have a BBQ, party, etc. at my house so we can all get together and see each other.” One person was my direct leader, one was my director, the third was a comparable level coworker. I know this sounds strange, but I would feel uncomfortable going to a coworker or leader’s home for a private party or BBQ. I understand COVID has changed lots of things, but I still feel like this is strange. I am polite and friendly at work, but I try to keep my work and personal social life separate. Am I wrong in thinking it would be weird to go to a coworker’s house for a private party? Or is this normal and I just haven’t been invited to any previously?

Another issue I foresee is that I imagine these events will take place on weekends or evening hours and I do not want to cut into my private, relaxation time to go to a colleagues home to socialize. I am inclined to being an introvert and need my free time to recharge. Besides crossing my fingers and hoping these events never get planned, how can I politely turn down any offers for outside of work hours events at coworkers’ homes if they do get extended, especially ones coming from someone above me?

There are offices where this is a thing that happens. It’s often — but not always — offices with lots of young people where the social boundaries are blurred, or a senior exec hosting a relatively fancy event at their home. There are also lots of offices where this never happens and would be odd.

It’s quite possible that the plans your coworkers are announcing will never come to fruition; we’re at a stage where it feels good (to some people) to talk about all the things we’re going to do once we can do them, but that doesn’t mean they’ll really follow through. If they do, though, it’s perfectly fine for you to decline the invitation because you have other plans for that time. That said, if the party is being thrown by your manager or director, it might be politically useful to show up for an hour, be seen, and then cheerfully take your leave … but you don’t have to do that if you’d rather not. People have plans outside of work! It’s okay for you to have a conflict.

3. Is eight interviews ridiculous?

My fiancé just got out of his eighth interview for a position. Yes, eighth. The job is a manager position, but nothing like a director or a VP. These interviews were with everyone from an external recruiter to a VP and have ranged from 25 minutes to an hour. One was more of a test where they presented him with some reports that they used and asked him to find various data. The recruiter has assured him that this was the final interview, but still — it seems like a ridiculous number of interviews. Our city’s offices are almost entirely remote right now, so all of these were video calls, but what if everyone was still in offices? Would they expect him to take time off of his current job eight separate times? We wondered if normally, they’d walk him around the office and introduce him to various people after a regular interview and everyone on the team could get an impression, rather than setting up eight separate meeetings.

Other things have made me wary, though. The company is under 40 people. They have no real HR. Multiple people he talked to have hinted or outright said that they’re dedicated to “the grind” — that people work hard and, sometimes, long hours. They have no time off policy, meaning that, in theory, people can take as little or as much time off as they need. In reality, though, I’ve heard (including from your blog!) that these policies often mean that taking time off at all is frowned upon — and without a bank of PTO that’s baked into a compensation package.

If only one of these things were the case, I probably wouldn’t think twice, but all of it together — plus the number of interviews — has me worried that this company overworks their employees and doesn’t respect their time. Some of our friends who he’s described the process to think I’m overthinking things. Of course, in the end, what I think doesn’t matter as much as what he thinks, and if he wants the job he’ll take it. I guess I just want confirmation that I’m not overthinking this, or that I’m wrong to be super wary. Is eight interviews not as over-the-top as I think it is? Are more interviews becoming more normal now that everyone’s at home?

Yeah, some companies are doing more individual interviews like this since so many people have gone remote. Maybe in the Before Times you would have met with, say, four people in one morning at the company’s office but now those four conversations are being scheduled in separate calls; since you’re not going anywhere to do it, they assume it’s not the same hassle for you that four in-person meetings would be. But eight is a lot. I’d pay attention to how organized they seem overall: Was this number of calls always the plan or did they keep adding on meetings and not seem to know what process they’d use or what to expect next at any given stage? What other signs has your fiancé seen about their level of organization, planning, and decisiveness versus chaos and indecision?

The other stuff could be bad or it might not be a big deal — it depends on details I don’t have. The best advice you can give your fiancé is to do a ton of due diligence — talk to people who work there or have worked there or who otherwise have the inside scoop, and don’t just rely on what he learned in formal interviews.

4. People won’t say my last name

Nobody at work will say my last name. My last name is not pronounced how most people think, and the way it looks like you should pronounce it, is a fairly innocuous word but could be considered an insult. For the sake of argument, let’s pretend my name is Katniss Pygg, and Pygg is pronounced like pie with a g.

So I’ll be in a meeting and the organizer will be doing roll call or reading the team names off a slide, and literally every other name is read “Firstname Lastname” but when they get to me, I’m just Katniss. Sometimes if they’re brave they say a very quiet, muffled Pffg. Because nobody wants to call me a Pig, right?

I’ve tried jumping in and saying “it’s Pie-g”, I’ve told people individually, I’ve even added the pronunciation as my Skype status. I never get upset when people say Pig or ask me how to say it, I usually graciously respond “that’s okay, nobody says it right! It’s Pie-g!” But still every day.. “We have Harry Potter, Mary Poppins, John Wick, uh, Katniss, uh, Jiminy Cricket…” even with people I’ve told before, and people who were in meetings where I’ve told people.

It seems like it’s gotten worse with all remote work, because I can’t smile and catch the person’s eye to let them know it’s okay to pause and ask how to say my name. Do you have any suggestions for how to get people to say my name, or do I need to just suck it up and call myself one of those one name celebrities?

I think (a) it’s probably never going to go away completely and the more you can resign yourself to that and decide not to care, the happier you will be (as with name misspellings), but also (b) it’s totally fine to jump in when you hear someone hesitating over your name and call out “Pygg!” If you notice someone struggling with it repeatedly, it could be worth a quick, private, matter-of-fact, “I’ve noticed you hesitating over my last name! So you’re sure for next time, it’s pronounced Pygg.”

5. Do I tell my internship supervisor that another employee is badmouthing him?

I’m a (remote) intern with a law firm, and I report to an attorney, Peter. I also work with several other attorneys, paralegals, and legal assistants. This has been great, except for the way that one of the legal assistants, Susan, keeps talking about my supervisor when in direct conversation with me.

Several times when working on a project for Susan, I have not known how to do something or been unable to access part of the client file, and remarked that I should ask Peter about it. Every time, Susan immediately and strongly responds by saying that Peter “hates being asked that sort of thing” or in general hates being asked questions. She has heavily implied or outright stated several times that Peter would be angered or upset by me asking him basic questions.

This could not be farther from my direct experience with Peter, who has been nothing but accommodating, friendly, and professional in all of our interactions. He has never discouraged question asking, nor responded in a way that indicated he didn’t appreciate being asked. Sometimes he will tell me to look for an answer myself, but even then it feels as if he is teaching me something, not that he’s annoyed or angered.

Should I let Peter know that Susan is saying these things about him to an intern who reports directly to him? I am confident enough in my relationship with him to disregard what she says about him for the most part — I know I can ask him questions and he’s not going to be upset, and I don’t know what Susan’s problem is — but the next intern might not be, and this could seriously damage their relationship with him and cause problems in the work product as well. (If it matters, there are other indications I’ve seen that things are not totally well with Susan and the rest of the team. For example, I received an email the other day saying, “Hey, Susan was assigned these reports and never completed them. We don’t know what’s up with that. They’re due today, can you get on that for us?”)

I could argue this either way. If I were Peter, I’d definitely want to know — but that doesn’t oblige you, as an intern, to take the initiative to be a go-between on office weirdnesses. And it’s possible there’s more to the situation that you aren’t aware of (like maybe Peter is very different with Susan than he is with you, who knows). So if you’d rather just leave this alone, that’s fine. But it also would be completely okay if you want to mention it to Peter! Don’t do it in a “Susan sucks” way, but more “it might be useful to give other interns clearer guidance on this since I can imagine it causing problems if someone thought they shouldn’t ask you anything.”

One easy time to raise it could be toward the end of your internship as part of a conversation about how things went … but you could also raise it now if you want to, and if I were Peter, I’d rather know sooner than later.

{ 510 comments… read them below }

  1. Anony,ouse*

    Re 3.
    Eight interviews and there are only 40 people in the company?
    Thank them for their time and tell them you have decided to take your career in another direction.

    1. EverAwkward*

      I wonder if this is linked to the remote working arrangements so many organisations are dealing with as the mo as AAM said in her response and has been an effort to encourage better connections between the interviewees and interviewers… that said, 8 is pretty bonkers (although I’ll caveat it this with I’m in the UK and would find more than 2 interviews… unusual!)

      1. ThatGirl*

        At my current job, which I started in January, I talked to… maybe 8 different people? I forget, it was a lot. But the thing is, it was all one round – as Alison notes, it was the sort of thing where I would have spent maybe 3 hours in the office in the Before Times and had short meetings with a few combinations of small groups and individuals. Instead I ended up with 6 Teams video chats over two days. I don’t know if it was truly necessary to have everyone weigh in on me, but I’ve learned that this isn’t uncommon here — they try to build consensus around decisions and get a lot of input. It was a little tiring, but it didn’t drag on for weeks or anything, which I appreciated.

        1. LW # 3*

          Yeah, my own company used to have candidates talk to multiple people, but in groups–candidates would interview with the hiring manager, then the grandboss and other manager they’d work with, then meet briefly with 2-3 peers on their team who could speak to the day-to-day of the job. But these were in groups, usually done in one visit (over maybe 2 hours, depending on the position), and planned that way from the beginning. It’s not the number of people he’s meeting that seems weird but the all of these separate meetings stretched out over weeks, most of which he spends answering similar questions and repeating similar things about his background and experience.

      2. kt*

        At my company, we have folks interview with between 6 and 12 people — and you know how we do it? A *single* 3-hour interview where everyone shows up electronically in their 30- or 45-minute time slow. We just get things organized and get it done. No need to drag people back repeatedly.

        1. michelenyc*

          At my current job, I started in November, I interviewed with about 15-18 people. The entire process took about 8-10 weeks; the wild fires on the West Coast did not help. My recruiter let me know from the beginning that they are company that has everyone meet all of the teams they work with on a daily basis. Almost all of the interviews were the entire department on zoom. In the beginning I was annoyed but in the end I am glad they did it that way. When I spoke to my VP and she acknowledged that the process was long but she wanted to make sure I would be happy since I would be relocating to NYC back to Oregon. Also I was unemployed due to our friend Covid so it was actually something different to break up the week.

          1. Venus*

            I think the key is the acknowledgement from the start. Context makes such a difference. It is harder to assess people when meeting them online, and therefore more meetings during covid aren’t unreasonable, but there is a difference between an expectation of 8 interviews versus two, oh and one more, oh and one more, oh and one more, oh and one more, oh and one more, oh and one more…

            1. LW # 3*

              Yeah, that’s the frustrating thing. This process wasn’t laid out from the beginning, it kept being added to–he’d interview with another person and think he might be done, then it was “okay, now you’ll talk to this new person!” After 6 interviews, they asked for his references, so he was sure he was at the end…then they had him meet 2 more people. This is through an external recruiter, so it’s hard to tell if that person just isn’t great at communicating the process or if the company themselves is super disorganized. His “final” interview just became not-so-final, as the recruiter just told him yesterday that now he has to talk to the CEO.

        2. MassMatt*

          A 3 hour interview with just 1-2 people is exhausting. A 3 hour interview with a rotating cast of 6-12 people is nuts.

          1. Uranus Wars*

            Yes, in this case I would rather 3 hours over a few days than 3 hours at one clip. I would need a nap!

          2. Dashed*

            I once did a 9 hour interview with 15 people rotating in and out, all asking the same set of qustions. At hour 7, i asked the three people now interviewing me why they were part of the process (because it was not clear to me how I would ever interact with them) and there was this…silence before one person finally said, “We don’t know why we are interviewing you.” It was 30 years ago and I still remember it without fondness.

    2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I wonder if they got into the habit of making sure candidates had seen *everybody* when they were a truly tiny company – if you’re hiring the sixth member of the entire team, it makes perfect sense that the original five might want input.

      But eight and possibly not done?! Either they’ve not updated their processes enough, or they should have condensed more interviews into larger groups (eg all the technical people make a panel for one call, not separately).

      1. Not A Girl Boss*

        Yes, in my experience (having worked two ground floor startups) small companies reach this weird between-time where they are used to having everyone interview a candidate, but have grown to a point where that’s really impractical, but that hasn’t dawned on them yet.
        In the before-times, these interviews were scheduled as a screening call, then a day long interview. But now it feels like it doesn’t always occur to people that breaking it up to ‘whatever fits the interviewers schedule’ is incredibly inconvenient for the candidate.

        But you can just push back and request they do a better job of scheduling! I just counted it up, and I had 7 interviews for the position I just accepted. I had a pre-screen, then scheduled HR and the hiring manager back to back but I was able to take an extended lunch. Then they wanted to schedule me to interview with 4 other people. I politely requested that they schedule all those interviews in one afternoon so I could take a half day off work. Then the interview schedule came out and it was split over 2 days. So I replied and said “I’m sorry, this doesn’t work for me because I need to take time off because it will be 4 hours total.” and they ended up bumping all the interviews a day later and I got them all in a row. (Which, is exhausting because when you’re on camera the interviewers don’t really think about you needing a biobreak, but whatever).

    3. Brooklyn*

      I just started a new job at a small offshoot (~10 people) of a larger organization. I started interviewing in October, got the offer in February, and went through even more rounds of interviews that LW3’s fiance. I was particularly annoyed that I would be on an interview with someone from larger organizing who folds origami (as an example), and I’d ask about the origami needs of the project I’m interviewing to work on, at which point I’d find out this person is entirely unrelated to that project and the new company at all. It was infuriating, made only more annoying that most of these interviews were 30-45 minute long chats, but each took a week to schedule and get feedback from. So the process took months.

      Things I learned though: organizationally, they’re still trying to figure out the relationship between NewCo and OldCo and basically had me do two interview processes. Everyone at both places was incredibly committed to the work and genuinely pleasant to talk to. And OldCo had no idea how to hire people in my profession, so instead I got a bunch of behavioral interviews that were frankly very similar to each other.

      It was crummy. It took forever. I now know that they had two candidates they could not decide between and ended up rearranging hiring plans to make us both an offer. And I am incredibly happy, at least so far. Definitely ask more questions about how and why – those should give you a sense of of this is a red flag or a yellow one.

  2. AnotherSarah*

    LW5, I think you could also raise the issue with Peter as a clarification for yourself, and that would also tip Peter off to something being amiss if that’s indeed the case. Something like “I was talking to Susan and told her that I’d ask you X. She said you hate being asked about things like that. That hasn’t been my experience with you, but I wanted to make sure–when I have a question about Y, should I come to you?”

    1. Bagpuss*

      YEs, I was going to suggest something along these lines – it gives Peter the option to tell you if he would prefer you to try other solutions first (although it doesn’t sound as though it’s a problem) and also lets him know that that’s the information you’re getting.

      Depending on his response, you could then add ‘Susan has made similar comments pretty much every time that I have mentioned I plan to ask you something – it did make me nervous about approaching you’

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        I like this approach as well. Making it a clarification of what to do when is a softer way of getting what you need, but also letting Peter know something is up in the greater office as well.

        1. Run mad; don't faint*

          It’s also possible that Peter doesn’t mind answering questions for interns because they are there to learn, but feels his regular staff should know their jobs well enough to not bother him about every thing. That could explain Susan’s reluctance to ask him questions. But whatever the situation between Peter and Susan is, AnotherSarah’s approach is excellent.

          1. AnotherSarah*

            Oh yeah, that’s a good point–the difference in LW’s and Susan’s roles might be a big factor here.

          2. A Poster Has No Name*

            Yeah, I was thinking that Susan most likely had a period where she was asking Peter questions about every little thing or about things that she should know how to do (or had been told several times but still asked about) and he put his foot down with her. Now, in Susan’s mind, “Peter hates these questions” when, really, Peter just lost patience with Susan.

            1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

              Have witnessed that very event this week at my job (and yes I know it’s only Tuesday – it has been building to this point for a while now).

        2. Joan Rivers*

          Why not just say something to her the next time she talks this way?

          “That’s funny, because he’s always been extremely patient when I ask him questions! Where do you get this impression?” Let her justify her criticisms. Because if she elaborates and names names, it would give more info.

      2. TootsNYC*

        ‘Susan has made similar comments pretty much every time that I have mentioned I plan to ask you something – it did make me nervous about approaching you’

        Or, “she was so insistent that I wondered if I’d been reading you wrong. You’ve always been welcoming and helpful, even when you’re encouraging me to find the answer on my own. But her comments were frequent enough that it gave me pause”

        the same point, but it makes you seem stronger

    2. A Simple Narwhal*

      This is a great idea! It lets Peter know what’s going on without feeling like “tattling” (which I know isn’t a thing when bringing up a true concern, but it can still feel like it).

    3. No Name Today*

      My first thought about this was
      “Susan hates interns” because she is giving you awful advice. You are there to learn and she is telling you to flounder on your own and to ignore your instincts.
      My second thought
      “Susan is a shit stirrer.”
      OP you Are a fresh Player in her game of people checkers, not chess because she’s pretty simple.
      I’d just ignore her, keep doing what you’re doing and slip a word to Peter at the end.
      No need to be around if decides to speak to her about it.

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        I’ll add a third option, which is that, in most law firms I’ve worked in (all 100+ attorneys), there is tenor of figuring things out or asking another staff member rather than bothering an attorney unless it’s absolutely necessary. Asking questions is fine and necessary – but they should be specific things that only the attorney can answer. That may not be the case here (because we would also have never have interns reporting directly to an attorney), but the support folks I managed were specifically directed not to ask an attorney every single question they had, especially something like where something was in the case file, but to try another support person first and then go to the lowest-ranking associate on the matter. This may not be evident based on interactions with attorneys – we typically had a no-assholes rule, so even if an attorney is irritated by basic questions, they should still be polite in their response and redirect to an appropriate resource.

        That’s not to say that LW#5’s firm works the same way or that Susan doesn’t have weird ideas about what is/is not appropriate (sounds like she’s got some other issues going on), but Susan may also be coming from a different environment where you were to leave the attorneys to client relations and billing as much as possible and she hasn’t caught up with this place’s culture yet rather than having malicious intent.

        1. Venus*

          I wonder if maybe there was a previous intern who pestered the attorney with questions? Your answer made me think that there could be other situations where Susan’s reaction was reasonable, but in this new context seems less so. Or maybe she worked for other attorneys who discouraged questions?

          Not that her reaction is a good one, but if the typical attorney preference is to only ask questions if they can’t be answered by others then OP might find that useful info for future work experiences. I like AnotherSarah’s suggested wording, as that can be used in future as well.

        2. TootsNYC*

          I agree with this–and as a full-time employee, Susan may be in the habit of asking things she should be able to figure out. So maybe she’s getting pressure about not bothering attorneys for stuff.
          And she doesn’t recognize that an intern is different.

        3. Amaranth*

          This does sound more likely to be a Susan problem, as LW doesn’t say that the general attitude in the office is that Peter is unapproachable and their experience is completely the opposite.

          1. OP 5*

            I’ve heard from several others that I should ask Peter about things, actually! Other administrative staff (I’ve worked with two others at Susan’s level) have seemed generally positive about him.

            1. Not Peter's associate anymore*

              I admit that the last firm I worked for was a bit unpleasant, but I’d consider it a red flag about Peter that he’s throwing an assistant under the bus to an intern Also, pretty much every unpleasant comment I’ve heard and written off as poor performance or personality differences turned out to have been worth listening to. So, I’d be inclined to take Susan’s warning seriously, although it’s poor judgment on her part to say anything to an intern who’s getting buttered up right now.

              If I were older me (now) in OP’s shoes, I wouldn’t treat Peter any differently but I’d guess that he may be two-faced at best and not the best communicator or delegator. There’s literally no situation where it’s appropriate to complain to an intern about your actual employee’s job performance. So I’d look for a more professional and collegial environment.

              Making people sound a little difficult or inadequate in law offices, especially to junior attorneys who will assume they will be the different one, is practically a blood sport. So I think there’s probably more issues under the hood.

            2. Not Peter's associate anymore*

              Update to my earlier comment because I just saw the additional info below, so I take back the remark re: Peter throwing her under the bus. But still watch out for that.

              I can easily see a situation where people are giving Susan a hard time to the intern in order to disrupt Susan’s relationship with Peter. It seems odd (political) that anyone should tell an intern that someone dropped the ball.

              I also think Peter may be worse to Susan because of his training and background. He may have handled admin tasks differently and be rigid. Hard to know. The Peter I worked for was always described as a nice man. But he was an absolute jerk to people in some ways and had a really unfortunate amount of trust in another partner who was tremendously entitled and negative. He got upset at our assistant for not being a good team player when she didn’t agree to work overtime over Christmas, even though everyone at the firm was aware of an overtime ban and she would’ve been fired through admin channels for going along with what he asked. It’s always possible that Susan stood up to Peter about something and the relationship soured.

              The absolute best things to do in law are to keep your head down, keep confidences, and sail on quietly. Good luck to you! (Sorry for typos – typing on my phone)

        4. JSPA*

          Yes; LW may be humored for being an intern, or for being new, or for being “in development,” or maybe LW actually is “all that,” and Peter therefore doesn’t mind. But in many law firms, that’s going to wear off–possibly before the internship ends.

          Susan can be a pickle, and still not be wrong about professional norms in the office. I’m not saying it is so, but it is plausible.

      2. turquoisecow*

        I just figured maybe Peter hates when Susan asks him certain questions because either they have a personality conflict or she should know the answer or how to find it on her own. But since OP is an intern and learning, he doesn’t mind answering their questions.

        If I’m asked the same question by someone who should really know the answer because we’ve discussed it 5,000 times, this is annoying, but when a new person asks me, I’m fine with answering.

        1. I take tea*

          I’m with turquoisecow. Susan might be the type to not bother to look up anything on her own and asks endless questions out of laziness. Those are very annoying. (I seem to remember a post about a co-worker asking seventy questions a day..?)

        2. Renee Remains the Same*

          I was thinking the same thing. Also, maybe it’s just me, but I’m picking up a little bit of an undercurrent of something in the LW’s note. Maybe I’m wrong, but they mention that it seems there’s some kind of conflict with Susan generally. And if that’s the case, it really feels like what Susan says or does should be taken with a grain of salt, especially if the intern is in a position where she is doing work for Susan and Susan is unaware of it. If that’s the case, the intern has more authority or power or information than an intern might typically have. I would just caution the intern not to use that position to generate drama, particularly if they get the impression that there’s a difficult relationship between Peter and Susan.

        3. kitryan*

          Yes, as a law firm person, I feel it’s likely that Peter doesn’t like answering Susan’s questions either because Susan asks things they should already know, he doesn’t like Susan, or he doesn’t like answering staff questions but views intern questions as a different sort of thing, that’s worth answering.
          My most likely scenario is that Susan has legitimately experienced negativity from Peter for asking questions for one of these reasons and is trying to help OP avoid that or keep OP from bothering Peter.

        4. TootsNYC*

          especially because apparently sometimes Susan doesn’t get things done on time.
          So Peter may have a lot less patience for her. Maybe her questions are ways of trying to cover up that she doesn’t get things done.

          I think perhaps that mentioning this to the intern was a way of cluing her in that Susan isn’t always to be trusted.

        5. Neener*

          Yeah, my guess is that it’s something about the way Susan asks questions. I once had a coworker (at my level, started at the same time as me) ask me how on earth I managed to ask a particular supervisor questions without getting my head bitten off. I was like….uh, idk since she’s never been rude to me, but have you tried looking for the answer first and telling her what you already found? And it turned out my coworker had never tried that, this grown woman with 10+ years professional experience was still defaulting to asking her supervisor basic questions without putting any effort in. So maybe that’s Susan.

    4. Cercis*

      Having worked in law offices, I’m curious if the intern is male or female. It is entirely possible that Peter answers questions for male interns with no hassle, but female interns are treated with a sigh and a “you should know that by now”. As a legal assistant, I saw similar issues, to the point where the questions would all be funneled through the male intern.

      1. Jaydee*

        I also wondered this. My hunch is still that it’s probably more an expectation that staff with some length of experience should know the answers and/or know where to find them while interns wouldn’t. But I also wonder if there is either some sexism or elitism (attorneys are ‘better than’ non-attorney staff) that leads Peter to be more lenient with the LW than with Susan.

      2. OP 5*

        I’m a woman! Most of the people at the office are women, I don’t know if that’s relevant at all, but the gender dynamics of this situation are that Peter is male and myself, Susan, and the third person who sent the ‘this was Susan’s assignment but we don’t know what happened with that email’ are all female.

    5. Jaydee*

      Yes, this is perfect wording/tone.

      My guess is that the difference between how Peter treats you and Susan is that Susan is paid staff, while you’re an intern. Especially if she’s been there a while, Peter might reasonably expect her to know the answers to certain questions she asks and gets frustrated when she asks the same things repeatedly or asks things he’s counting on her to handle for him. Peter knows you’re new to the firm and still learning in general. He expects you to have more questions, so it doesn’t bother him because that comes with the territory of having an intern.

    6. JSPA*

      Yes! It’s (at least remotely) possible that Peter is polite to you, but then complains about it to Susan, or at least, asks her to step in so that fewer questions go directly to him.

      “Does not appreciate” and “is unpleasant to your face about” are two different things. He can be welcoming and professional to you, yet ALSO direct someone else to handle the basics.

    7. CoveredInBees*

      Yes. This is what I’d do. It is getting usable information and if Peter wants more detail, he’ll ask for it.

    8. Misc*

      We get billable hour credit for mentoring summer associates but not for dealing with administrative questions for staff, so I’d be way more willing to walk a summer associate through something where I would expect staff to spend the 10 minutes to look it up

  3. Sami*

    # 4 is so interesting to me. I had just been thinking to write in and ask about adding the pronunciation of my last name to my email signature. My own is not pronounced the way it looks (it’s Dutch/Belgian) and not spelled the way it looks. School was fun. :(

    1. Person from the Resume*

      I agree with just letting it roll off your back. I have a similar problem. People always mispronounce my last name (it looks like it could be an English word/name but it’s pronounced as of in a foreign language), when I first join a new team I let people in on how to pronounce it in the beginning but if they can’t get it I don’t bother continually correcting. I guess I’m lucky that my first name in uncommon enough that there are not multiple people with my first name so they need to say my last name for clarity.

      I do tell people I work with when I join a new job or team, but you tried that and it didn’t stick. I stop trying to correct everyone after a while. It’s not worth the effort to me.

      I’d say the one last ditch thing you might could try is telling anyone leading a meeting right in advance of the meeting for a month or so to see if you can spread the word to most coworkers, but it just seems like a losing battle. And then tell new people when you meet them “looks like pig but pronounced pie-g.” I half wonder if the problem is that they at least remember it’s not pronounced pig but can’t remember how it is pronounced.

      1. oes*

        I think you’re right that people just don’t remember unusual (to them) pronunciations. I’m a historian who teaches students about Renaissance Italy and no matter how many times I say the word Medici (MED-i-chi and tell them it’s accented like medical), to a person they pronounce it Med-DI-chi. None of them are Italian speakers, but somehow they recognize that this is unusual Italian pronunciation (which usually accents the penultimate syllable).

        1. NoviceManagerGuy*

          Having grown up in Texas, my mind wants to pronounce all non-English words with Spanish pronunciation rules.

      2. LW4 Katniss Pygg*

        Ah, that’s interesting, I hadn’t thought of that. I bet you’re right that some folks know Pig is wrong but can’t remember what’s right. Not that that solves the problem, but it helps me reframe it a little.

        1. cat lady*

          I have something similar happen with my first name– the first syllable is very easy to pronounce, but the second syllable has a lot of vowels that throw people off. There are a lot of possible pronunciations, and they usually realize that it’s not one thing but can’t remember what it is. Coworkers I barely know frequently just start calling my by the first syllable– think calling Catelyn Stark Cat. I find it so odd to have people imply a nickname-level of familiarity when I’ve only met them once or twice!

        2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

          Oh yes, that moment when you have to say your coworker’s name and you definitely remember that it is not said like the barnyard animal, but cannot remember if it is Pie-g, Peeg, Peg, or maybe Pij, Pie-j, Peej, or Pej, or maybe it’s something else that you can’t remember.

          It’s not like English has standardized pronunciation rules even for words of English origin. Add in all the pronunciations for words from foreign languages and I can’t blame anybody for hesitating. Especially wen some people do react badly when you mess their name up.

          1. Bee*

            Hah, there are certain words/facts where I hold two answers in my head and I KNOW one is wrong but cannot for the life of me remember which. Is the thing that I thought of first the correct answer because I’ve effectively trained my brain? Or is it the wrong answer I’ve tried to train myself out of??

        3. Smithy*

          I have an American-ized Eastern European surname, and when I lived in Israel – the combination of the surname spelled in Hebrew plus the number of people there with their own Eastern European surnames – fighting pronunciation was a losing battle. Even people I worked with for years, every time they’d hear me introduce myself, I’d hear afterwards “oh….that’s how it’s pronounced????”

        4. JSPA*

          Or there are usually-dependable, usually informed, usually believed people (or one key person above you in the chain of command) who says it wrong in your absence / in their presence.

          As a result, they’re see-sawing back and forth between “what Ms. Pie-g herself uses” and what “Charisma Jo(e), Precision Pat or HR Henri(etta) have been drumming into our ears every time they mention her.”

          It can be awkward to say someone’s name correctly to their face when you’ve just let slide–for what you hoped would be a single usage, but turned into several, each more awkward than the last–a boss’s mispronunciation. Even more awkward, to say it wrong. So you don’t say it.

          Alternatively, there’s another Pygg (a famous one, a contractor they used to deal with from time to time, someone’s in-law who’s been talked about at work) reinforcing the baseline linguistic confusion. A coworker is reliably Andy, except when the boss has been emailing with their grandchild Andi–and then suddenly, for an email or two, Andy becomes Andi, as well.

          Human brains, they’re mysterious, and addicted to creating patterns where none exist. We can’t work with dolphins instead, so we make do.

          I’ve found that, “It’s correctly Pie-g, but even some people in our family use Pig. Please use Pie-g, and please tell others that it’s Pie-g, if it’s convenient to correct them. But at the same time, I promise I’m not offended by Pig, as some of my family are Pigs.”

          I also lead off with, “it looks like a typo” before spelling my name over the phone; otherwise, there’s no pronunciation of letters, no “A as in Apple” (or “A as in Alpha”) phonetic alphabet that will override their need to shoehorn in a letter or two that are “clearly” missing, or change one consonant for a different one, to render the name less unusual.

          If you don’t let people know that you’re cool with the fact that there’s some level of visual-audio dissonance by modern-day English language spelling conventions, what they make take from your signature is, “this is a flag that she considers it a high-stakes error, so it’s best to avoid the whole topic.”

          And for people who feel that we “all” learn how to pronounce Sinead because of Sinead O’Connor–there’s the Wakeen / Joaquin gap, where some people’s ears and eyes and brain don’t converge on the answer of, “what I’m hearing and what I’m seeing are two different people” rather than, “Oh, right, that’s how you pronounce Joaquin.” People with business in La Jolla get caught saying La jol-ah when it’s La Hoy-ah. Des Moines. Oregon. People need to learn names, of course! But we do not all start out with equal language facility–or equal cultural exposure. Shaming people for their best try (or assuming ill intent) only reinforces the idea that it’s not OK to occasionally fail or even revert.

          1. Shan*

            Yes, relating to your fourth paragraph – it definitely adds to the confusion when different people with the same name pronounce it differently. I worked with a woman whose last name was Gieck. “Oh, no, it’s pronounced ‘geek’,” she’d cheerfully tell everyone. Since then, though, I’ve met another person with the same name who pronounced it differently, and who was VERY quick to correct me when I confidently said “geek.” So now forever going forward, I’ll be debating which version I should lead with.

            That’s not saying LW’s coworkers shouldn’t learn, but I think people get second-guessing themselves.

            1. Cat Tree*

              Hmm, that’s interesting. In my small, non-statistical study, the ie spelling is usually pronounced like “eee”, and the ei spelling is usually pronounced like “eye”. Clearly it’s not universal based on the person you know, but it’s very common. I have one of those combinations in my name, and sometimes think it’s odd that people can usually guess correctly for a common name like Stein, but not for a less common name with the same letters. But I also realize that pronunciation and spelling are super inconsistent in English to begin with, and then you add a bunch of names that came from a different language at some point. So it’s more of a musing than an annoyance for me.

              1. Myrin*

                I think what you’re seeing is that the names both of these combinations appear in are usually German in origin and in German, “ei” is always pronunced like “eye” and “ie” is always pronunced like “eee” (that particular combination is called “long i”, because “i” by itself is pronunced like English “e” but in words can either be short or long, and the “e” after it always makes it long). In German, “Stein” is always pronunced “shtine” and “Gieck” is always pronunced “geek” but like you say, pronunciation and spelling are inconsistent in English when they really aren’t in German which is probably the reason for the later differences between how different people say the same word.

                1. Shan*

                  Yeah, it was ‘g-eee-k’ vs ‘g-eye-k. I suspect the second is just a case of it being adapted by families who no longer spoke German and/or weren’t thrilled about going through life being known as the Geeks.

                2. JSPA*

                  Anyone else go directly to,
                  “It’s pronounced Frankensteen!”
                  “Do you also say, fro-der-ic?”

              2. Bee*

                I wonder if it wasn’t about the ie at all, but the Gi bit – something more like Jeek than Geek. Or even Jeck!

        5. Lizzo*

          I will +1 this. I am very mindful of name pronunciations (I work with a lot of international folks) and will always ask, but I find as I get older, I forget the correct pronunciation if I don’t see the person frequently. It’s not an intentional slight–it’s just a thing that happens. And then when I am in a situation where I need to pronounce it again…I freeze, because I don’t want to screw it up, but my brain just isn’t recalling the correct pronunciation from the archives.

          LW4, is there some sort of mnemonic device you can offer to help people remember the pronunciation? For example, I had a classmate named Karin, and she would always say, “you put the * CAR in * the garage”. Otherwise people would call her Karen. I met her in 1993 and I still remember this.

        6. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

          It might also be performance anxiety, like “oh crap I can’t remember if it’s Pigg or Pie-gg and I don’t want to embarrass her/myself in front of the group so better not say it at all”. I have a colleague with a last name that is not pronounced as it appears and she has a habit of cheerfully introducing herself with her full name at every opportunity, so before long it became super engrained in everyone on the team.

        7. profe*

          Is there any rhyme that you can use when you introduce yourself? I know a few people who have unusual first or last names but a pat “It’s x, rhymes with y” that is super effective. Or yeah, at least mentally reframe it so it’s less annoying.
          For what it’s worth though, if I were in the position of having to read your name out loud without knowing the pronunciation, I my reaction would be to guess literally any other option but “Pig” rather than call you “Pig” or awkwardly gloss over it, but that’s just me!

      3. Anon because this is kind of specific*

        Yeah, if there’s a little mnemonic device or rhyme you could tell people, that might help. I went to grad school with a woman named Karin, pronounced CAR-in (not CARE-in). When introducing herself she would always say “I’m Karin, like CAR-IN-the-garage.” It made it so much easier to remember! Otherwise I think I would have had this same problem where I remember it’s not the common pronunciation but can’t remember what it is instead.

        1. Ann O'Nemity*

          I was coming to say this too. A rhyme, a reference to something, a little joke… anything to help people remember. “It’s PIIIIeg; I’m not a pig but I like pie!” or whatever works.

        2. Lizzo*

          LOL – did you go to grad school with my high school classmate Karin? (See my comment above that relates the exact same story.)

        3. lizw*

          My friend always introduces herself as “Cheryl, as in Charleston”. One acquaintance was very confused when our group had no idea who “Sheryl Charleston” was.

        4. SweetFancyPancakes*

          As a children’s librarian, it was soooo helpful when I read an interview with Jon Scieszka where he clarified “rhymes with Fresca”.

        5. DiplomaJill*

          I have a unfamiliar but easy to pronounce last name — you say it exactly like it looks like you should, and I created an avatar that shows it. Like SK8=skate kind of thing.

          The avatar shows up everywhere — it’s my slack icon, my jira icon, my email icon, etc.

          When people figure it out (and they do!) they love it and are so proud of themselves they never hesitate again.

      4. school of hard knowcs*

        I have the 3 consonants in the middle of my last name and a uncommon spelling for my common first name. Every new class, they always mumbled. If they heard it first, they misspelled it, if they saw it, they mispronounced both. Wikipedia has it listed, as a place, famous people and fictitious characters. My Dad was to be introduced to speak and the emcee was struggling with saying his name and my Dad made a joke of how to say it trying to help. The guy then introduced him as butz. Yep. It was histerical

      5. MBK*

        That reminds me of the SNL sketch where Nic Cage played a character named Asswipe Johnson and had to keep telling everyone. “it’s AHH-swee-pay!”

      6. Quickbeam*

        Sometimes a mnemonic can help. I had a colleague DeCicco who when he first met you would say “DeCicco” and pull on his cheek. I’m horrible with name retention but I never forgot his.

      7. Renee Remains the Same*

        My last name contains a couple of hard consonants used multiple times… which leads to some interesting interpretations and misspellings. The funny thing is that my name is pronounced exactly as it looks. When they really focus on it and say it slowly, they get it right every time. But in every day conversation -people immediately overcomplicate it and add additional letters so their brain can make sense of it. I’ve given up making a strong case for how to say it. If it’s close enough, I’ll let it go. I will correct them in writing though, as I feel that gets passed along more easily and folks should at least have the correct spelling.

        I will say that it makes me more aware of other folks names and I really try to be precise when talking with those with names that are not quite common.

      8. AntsOnMyTable*

        Yah, people just have problems with names if they using it on a regular basis. I pronounce my first name differently than 90% of people want to do it. My name being pronounced correctly is a big deal to me but it takes about 5-10 corrections before it finally sticks. I float around so I am either seeing new people constantly or don’t see someone for months at a time. I have just given up on the correct name. Sometimes you just have to accept how things are.

    2. Artemesia*

      In my first job, a colleague had a name that looked a bit like a gross scatalogical word but was pronounced differently. I however had only seen the gross word written and never heard it pronounced and had only seen HIS name written and not pronounced and thought the way this guy’s name was pronounced WAS the way this gross word was pronounced. I almost altered it the first time to make it the gross word. I was literally saved by hearing someone else use it. It made me very careful about leaping in with a dangerous last name — and thus didn’t call my colleague Hogge ‘Hog’ later before learning it was Hogue.

      So be gentle to those trying to not be unkind.

      1. LW4 Katniss Pygg*

        I’m always nice about it, I know they just don’t want to call me Pig. I let it go a lot of times, but sometimes it causes a problem because there are multiple Katnisses in the meeting and we don’t know who’s being assigned an action.

        1. Lizzo*

          Don’t forget fun regional differences! I grew up hearing McNamara as “MACK-nah-mare-ah”, and then moved to a completely different part of the US where you say it more like it’s spelled, and thank goodness for that. :-)

      2. EvilQueenRegina*

        That reminds me of the time I got thoroughly confused answering a cold call for my now ex coworker because they asked for “Firstname Howe” – I eventually realised they meant a guy whose name was Hough, pronounced Hoff.

      3. Ginger ale for all*

        I work in a library and one day a guy came in to pay his fine and his last name was Dumas. I pronounced it like the famous author Alexander Dumas. I remember his reaction so well. He was overjoyed that I said it right. It took me a bit of time to see the other way it could have went.

    3. PollyQ*

      My last name is not actually hard to pronounce (because my great-grandparents changed the spelling to conform to standard English pronunciation rules), but it is uncommon, and I guess that throws people off. It drives me clean out of my gourd that so many people see my name and just go with “uh, [firstname]…” without even trying to say the last.

      1. Lilith*

        Could you offer “it rhymes with____?” Sometimes making sure an easily pronouncable word as a rhyming device gives the listener a hook to help.

        1. Liane*

          If so, you’re luckier than me. In my experience with my birth surname (same as a famed disappearing
          grinning cat), people either don’t listen or have never come across the books or movies. Heck, I have watched a few people write it down wrong *as I am slowly & clearly spelling it out* Me: “C H E…” They write: Chae… or Ces… or Shi…

          1. BubbleTea*

            I have a similar issue – my name is a very common word, it is verb and also a noun, and it is pronounced exactly how it looks. I often say “Tea, like the drink” (obviously that isn’t my real name) because people just trip over it repeatedly despite how simple it seems. Maybe they think it is a trick?

            1. londonedit*

              I think some of it is the ‘is it a trick?’ worry. Or at least, people see a name they’re unfamiliar with, automatically assume it must have an unfamiliar pronunciation, and then worry that they’ll get it wrong. I have a friend with a first name that comes from eastern Europe, and it’s pronounced exactly as it looks. However, one of the syllables sounds a little bit like a slightly-rude word, so people trip over themselves trying to come up with an elaborate pronunciation that avoids making that sound. My friend always says ‘Don’t worry, yes part of my name does sound like [word], my name is [pronunciation]’.

            2. NotQuiteAnonForThis*

              “Its pronounced Plant, just like it looks”. I swear everyone thinks I’m joking/funning them.

            3. laundry tuesday*

              My last name is a common word. I have to spell it every single time. I have the reflexive “say the name, spell it, say “like the X”” down since I was a kid, from hearing my mom have to do it constantly to people on the phone.

              1. MCMonkeybean*

                Mine is a common word, but it’s very similar to two other common words so I always spell it out. I think visually people often change one of the vowels (which makes it not only another common word but also I think a more common last name) and uh auditorily(?) they tend not to hear the first letter.

              2. ThatGirl*

                Both my first and last names are 6 letters each, and to me pretty phonetic – they’re said just like they look. But they’re both uncommon so I spell both names Every. Single. Time.

                1. Femme d'Afrique*

                  When I lived in the States it became second nature for me to say my name and immediately spell it out when I was on the phone. When I moved back home I once did it without thinking, and was met with an irritated, “I know how to spell” response from the person on the other end of the line, LOL.

          2. NoviceManagerGuy*

            I have a really simple one-syllable last name that’s also a fairly common word, but people more often encounter it with one extra letter; I’ve had people copy it down wrong from my driver’s license or resume.

            1. Charlotte Lucas*

              My one-syllable surname is one letter of from a much more common name. People often try to add that extra letter. Or the mispronounce the one vowel. But at least people try to say it.

            2. PersephoneUnderground*

              I’ve noticed one-syllable names get misheard a lot. My husband has a very common Chinese last name, Chan, which I thought would be easier for random purposes like reservations than mine, but I end up using mine more often actually because it’s longer and therefore harder to mishear. Reminds me of a trick for reading credit card numbers on the phone- use the two digit numbers like “forty-two” instead of “four, two” because they’re more distinctive. Seems to work well.

              1. HistorianNina*

                That’s really interesting – I have a one-syllable last name that is also a common noun that people mishear often, especially over the phone. I had never really made the connection that a longer name is harder to mishear!

              2. one digit at a time*

                I prefer when people read credit card digits individually rather than as a phrase. If someone is trying to say 1742 and they start by saying “seventeen”, I’ve probably typed the 7 into my credit card gadget before I hear the “teen” — and then I have to clear it out, because the number doesn’t actually start with a 7.

                1. AutolycusinExile*

                  And numbers in the fifties and sixties are virtually indistinguishable by phone, too, so you still have the same kind of problem! Speaking as someone who worked in a call center for years, there’s really no foolproof way to do it other than reading it all, then having the other person read it back to you. The second you think you’ve found the trick to it, the phone will cut out mid-sentence and it’ll be moot anyway :P

          3. Meg*

            haha my last name starts with an F, but everyone always wants to spell it with a Ph (my grandpa tells people Philadelphia is spelled wrong lol). I finally stopped saying my name before I spell it to make it easier–so I’ll say “my name is Megan, and the last name is F as in Frank, etc.” Learned that from my cousin-in-law who went from Smith to our last name

            1. No Name Today*

              I do that too! It’s not worth the extra “but it doesn’t have (letter) in it. It can’t be (name).”

            2. funkydonut*

              I use “f-as-in-frank” for my last name, also, which my husband thinks is weird but I grew up hearing my parents say that to people constantly so I just do it too.

              It does help that someone with my last name because famous in the last decade, so now instead of having to spell it, half the time, people go “oh, are you related to [late night talk show host]”?
              (spoiler: I am not)

              1. Tessie Mae*

                I say “f as in frank” for my last name as well. People often seem to hear it as “s.”

                The first time I had to spell it out, right after I got married, was on the phone at work. I said “f as in . . . ” and paused, because the f-word that first came to mind was that rude one you do not say, most especially at work. We both chuckled and went on. Since then, it’s been “frank.”

          4. English, not American*

            My partner’s surname is an incredibly common English first name, like Thomas, but he still gets all kinds of weird spellings from e.g. Tomas to Tomato. With the added bonus of people thinking Thomas is his first name half the time. I have a foreign surname that’s spelled exactly how it sounds, but people still trip over both saying and spelling it.

            I get the feeling there’s no winning.

            1. Myrin*

              I’m truly sorry but I’m laughing so hard right now at the thought of your poor partner receiving correspondence addressed to “Michael Tomato” – this is very benign but somehow absolutely hilarious to me.

                1. Myrin*

                  That is, in fact, how I pronunce “tomato”, so you’re spot-on about what I had in mind! :D

              1. Cat Tree*

                Sometimes it helps to just chuckle about it, especially in low-stakes situations. My last name is medium-hard to spell and pronounce. There are really only 2 common ways to pronounce it so people get it right about half the time. But when I was a kid, my family treated it like an in-joke and we’d keep a running list of the times that it was pronounced really, really wrong. It’s just a fact of life that sometimes mispronunciation happens, so we tried to make the most of it.

        2. PollyQ*

          It doesn’t really rhyme with anything, and it’s not hard to say once people have heard it, so at least I don’t have the problem OP does. And really, if people would just try and sound it out like they learned in 1st grade, they’d get it right. It bugs me more than it should, and I think the “let it roll off your back” advice is what I need to follow. (But thanks for the tip!)

          1. LW4 Katniss Pygg*

            lol. Mine doesn’t rhyme with anything either. Personally I think it’s easy to say when you learn it, and people always seem relieved that it’s not Pig. Yet still they can’t remember Pie with a g. I’m glad I’m not the only one who is annoyed by being a one name celebrity though, I feel you, PollyQ!

          1. That_guy*

            I had no idea the surname “Orange” was so common. Isn’t it the joke that is the only word that has no rhymes?

          2. JSPA*

            If you extend it to phrases with internal rhyme, or head-rhyme (extended alliteration), the possibilities widen considerably.

      2. EvilQueenRegina*

        A former colleague’s maiden name was Polish, and when she used to get asked to spell it as a kid she’d start out “D-z-” and people would often tell her not to be silly. In the next job after that I worked with a woman who was married to one of that colleague’s brothers, had that last name, and got all manner of spellings of it – she actually ended up going by her maiden name professionally although that may have had more to do with issues about being easily found on social media under her married name (she was in a job where that could have been an issue).

        1. KRM*

          My dad dropped the second Z from our last name, and people still stumble over it. I just tell them how to say it and move on. But I did hate elementary school–for some reason the character limit cut off the ‘a’ off my first name, and nobody could say my last name, so I would get them saying the cut off version of my name and then trailing off at the last name, and I’d have to say “actually it’s FullFirstName and LastName”. It was 100000% effective in weeding out cold calling salespeople at home though.

          1. turquoisecow*

            Yeah my dad’s first name is Guy, pronounced guy, but people sometimes think it’s pronounced Gee, like the French do. It’s kind of humorous listening to telemarketers try to reconcile a French first name with a not-French last name (I think it’s German, but not sure) and completely mangle the last name.

            But it was an easy way to tell the phone call wasn’t from someone he knew or wanted to talk to!

        2. Charlotte Lucas*

          I can only assume this was not near Chicago, where Eastern European surnames are pretty common. (I now live somewhere that people can struggle with Polish names that I consider “easy.”)

          1. NoviceManagerGuy*

            I’m the reverse, I live somewhere now where Pennsylvania Dutch and Eastern European names are completely pedestrian to most people but remain perplexing to me.

          2. EvilQueenRegina*

            I’m in the UK, and Eastern European surnames are a lot more common here now – the first coworker was getting told not to be silly in the 1960s, and the second coworker who was getting misspellings in her correspondence was about 10 years ago.

            1. UKDancer*

              Yes I do struggle with Polish names because they often involve consonants where I’m not expecting them so I can’t immediately see how you’d pronounce it which results in momentary brain freeze. So if you have a name like former Polish President Jarosław Kaczyński I am not sure how to pronounce it properly and whether to say all the letters especially if it’s a long name (Andrzej Duda is a lot easier). Now I just ask the person I’m talking to how it’s said and go with what they say rather than how it’s spelled. That works a lot better.

              1. Blue Eagle*

                That’s really funny because Polish is a language where all of the letter sounds are always pronounced only one way. And if a native speaker would ask how to spell a word, the person they ask would think them uneducated (unlike in the English language where the same letters have different pronunciations – think ear, bear, beard).

        3. TechWriter*

          When asked how to spell her Polish last name (starting with Prz) would just blithely reply “Just how it sounds!”

          And then actually spell it. I always admired the way she shrugged it off.

        4. JillianNicola*

          Ha! My boyfriend has a Polish last name, but it’s not super hard in my opinion? It doesn’t have extra consonants and as far as I’m concerned it’s spelled exactly how it sounds, but people falter on it all the time. He’s gotten used to saying his last name and immediately following up with “I’ll spell it for you”.
          I used to work at a photo lab, and I would fill out the envelopes for people. It cracked me up because it was always the people with a name like Johnson who would say it and then very slowly/confidently spell it out like “J-O-H-N …” and I’m thinking yeah, I know how to spell Johnson? But then the people with the crazy Polish or Russian names would just say it and then stand there and stare at me, making me awkwardly ask “sorry, how do you spell that?”

          1. Drago Cucina*

            My married name is an uncommon, but not hard, Italian name. It’s also commonly taken as a women’s first name. In almost all situations, pharmacy, dry cleaner, etc., I’ll say Drago Cucina, C-U-C-I-N-A. I’ll get a squinty eye, and then the smile. “Oh, it’s spelled just like it sounds.” Yes, yes it is.

            My poor friend from the Army whose last name was Lame (no longer her name) had it rough. No wanted to say “lame”. She had almost every variation one could squeeze out of those four letters.

          2. Tessie Mae*

            I live near Detroit, where Eastern European names are very common, so I am used to the spellings and pronunciations of Polish names. My mother-in-law was Polish, and when I got married, she schooled me on the Polish pronunciation of surnames. One problem? Those who spell their names the traditional Polish way, but pronounce them Anglicized. So in my head I think of two pronunciations: the Polish way and the English way.

      3. Anony*

        My maiden name was German, 14 letters long, and originally had an umlaut in it. You got very used to people pausing, and then coming up with unusual pronunciations. It did weed out the telemarketers though. Fast forward and I am married with a very short, 3 letter, last name that starts with a vowel. Good news it fits in all the forms that have little boxes to fill in. Bad news – no one can pronounce it either (the 2nd letter is silent). I have just learned to roll with it.

        1. Anonym*

          An old friend used her maiden name in the phone book specifically to weed out telemarketers. It was phonetic, but very long, much more so than her married name. Worked like a charm! They’d pause, and then stumble through a usually unsuccessful attempt. Saved a lot of time.

          1. English, not American*

            My favourite telemarketer experience was “Can I speak to Mr….” and they just hung up without even trying. And yet mine’s spelled phonetically, like Rhabarberbarbara (look this up on youtube), usually people stumble but still say it right.

        2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          oh I’m remembering a time when I was speaking with a German translator. He spelt his name for me, and I just said it out loud, using French pronunciation because we were in France. It just so happened that orally it sounded exactly the same as the French for hell (l’enfer), which I only realised as I said it. He very smoothly quoted Sartre at me saying “no, hell is other people” (l’enfer, c’est les autres) then pronounced his name the German way. I immediately promised I would never make the mistake again (but unfortunately never had the opportunity of speaking with him again).

      4. Richard Hershberger*

        Same here. My user name is, in a shocking break with internet tradition, my real name. It is pronounced exactly how it is spelled, with no tricky letter combinations that are in any way unusual in English. But it is three syllables, which is ample to make many people freeze.

        1. SweetFancyPancakes*

          I had a roommate in college whose (Dutch) last name was 4 syllables, and despite it being pronounced exactly the way it was spelled, the majority of people wouldn’t even attempt it.

      5. meyer lemon*

        I have what is apparently an intimidating combination of names, and I’ve just gotten used to spelling out both names for people and assuming they will either mispronounce them or try to avoid saying them. I had one teacher in school who got to my last name and said, “I’m not even going to try saying that.”

    4. Marzipan*

      I guess something else #4 could try is suggesting to the people chairing the various meetings that, since people have trouble pronouncing her last name, perhaps everyone in the meeting could briefly introduce themselves rather than the organiser reading them off a slide. Obviously that’s a bit harder to do on Zoom out whatever rather than in a physical meeting where you can host go round the table, but it’s not impossible to organise that way.

    5. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      I love when people have pronunciation guides in their email signature.

      I’ve been doing the same but I actually worry about my ability to write things out phonetically; I worry I’d make it more confusing.

      Although I am curious what industry you and OP are in that uses last names; I honestly don’t know a lot of my colleagues surnames.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        In my company it’s usually been when we hit the the perfect storm of common names & similar sounding ones — Jamie, Jaime, James, Jane, Shane, Cheyenne.

      2. LW4 Katniss Pygg*

        Aerospace and defense. But it’s not like we go around calling each other Mr. Potter or Ms. Pygg. It’s just a large company with large teams and more often than not, your team has three Johns, two Jims, a couple of Marks, and possibly even two Katnisses, and even if it didn’t, there are several hundred of each one in the company, so if you need to email someone later, you need both names!

        1. I Herd the Cats*

          Much of my company’s business (internal and external) is via email and it’s not uncommon to see something like this in the signature: Katniss Pygg and then underneath: (pronounced “Pie-g”) although that only really works if you can write it out phonetically in a way that makes sense to people – the way I just did it there, you’d STILL get “pie-gee” or something, but I think this is an example not your real name. ANYWAY. If there’s an EASY way to write it the way it sounds, go for it! Your coworkers would see it in emails, and if I had to call you I’d be grateful! Mostly I’m just jealous of your meetings with John Wick and Harry Potter etc., my Zooms are so boring.

          1. LW4 Katniss Pygg*

            Hahaha I was wondering if anyone’s head would explode trying to picture John Wick and Mary Poppins in a meeting together. I literally just blanked trying to come up with fictional characters and those were the first four that came to mind. If I had it to do over again I would be meeting with Tony Stark, Steve Rogers, Bruce Banner, and Carol Danvers.

            I’m loathe to add the pronunciation to my email signature just because we have a standard signature and I’ve already violated it by adding my pronouns. Nobody has said anything about it and I’ve seen some other people about the pronouns, but I think having another nonstandard line in there might draw too much attention.

      3. No Name Today*

        I feel you. We hired two new people while we were remote. I was out both times we had intro meetings, so I sent an email with a hi, nice to meet that included how to say my last name.
        We aren’t big on using them. Team of nine people, but at least it’s out there.

      4. ms. impossiblelastname*

        I briefly had a phonetic spelling under my last name on my business cards to deal with an unfamiliar-where-I-live last name – the email signature idea is nice as well.
        As someone who does public speaking and introduces others by name—and is also a visual learner—I like having a place where I can check back before a presentation or having to read off staff names in person. And somehow seeing it is more effective than hearing it a thousand times…

    6. Antony J Crowley*

      I came thisclose to mispronouncing Cockburn when putting a call through. I was mortified even to nearly do it, but I’m pretty sure it happens all the time.

      For the unaware, it’s pronounced Coh-burn.

      1. WS*

        I have a friend who was a Cockburn, and she was very used to both Cockburn and Cuh-uh-um as pronunciations. (She changed her surname to Coburn.) Likewise, my neighbour’s surname is spelled Dick but pronounced Dyke.

        1. ThatGirl*

          Lot of Mennonites out there with the last names Dick and Dyck. Including a great-aunt of mine.

        2. aceinplainsight*

          Lots of Dutch immigrant descendants too, spelled Dyk. For added bonus, I’m a gay woman.

        3. UKDancer*

          The woman in charge of the London Metropolitan Police is Commissioner Cressida Dick. I’ve always thought she must have had a very strong character to make it through police training and years on the beat answering to PC Dick. Diversity in the police has improved I believe but you’d need a high degree of fortitude to put up with the type of comments she almost certainly will have received.

      2. Daisy Avalin*

        We sell (sometimes) Cockburn port, at work… and my manager mispronounced it – the ‘indecent’ pronunciation. I nearly fell over laughing, and had to say it two or three times till she managed to say it properly!

      3. Drag0nfly*

        TIL “Cockburn” is not pronounced the way it looks. I’ve only seen it written, and I always meant to find out the origin story of that name, but was afraid it would be too gruesome. Turns out, Wikipedia says, it’s just a smashing together of the Scottish words for a wild bird and a stream.

      4. Grump*

        Ha! I was among the unaware until just a few months ago when someone introduced me to the music of Bruce Cockburn. I don’t know that I’ll ever see it written and not hear it in my head as the, uh, wrong pronunciation.

    7. Ritag*

      Same here! I have a Polish last name and even when I write out the pronounciation, people don’t get it right. My manager says it wrong, my coworkers say it differently, but still wrong. It was said wrong at all of my graduations. It’s very annoying and I correct most people in the moment, but it doesn’t stick. I get it. It doesn’t make sense with the English alphabet.

      1. LW4 Katniss Pygg*

        To be honest, I would rather people say it wrong than not at all! I don’t mind being a Pig!

        1. Person from the Resume*

          Ha! So annoying since you could let the mispronunciation roll off your back much easier than them failing to say your name.

          For me there’s one person leading meetings I attend who says my name wrong. I’m not bothered by it until … later (always later) she stumbles over another guy’s eastern European last name (which is honestly pronounced exactly like it’s spelled just not common English syllables) and then has him say his last name name himself because she always struggles with it. And then I grudgingly think, “you can’t pronounce my last name either.”

          She’s lovely and I forget it in a minute, but that sequence of events does bug me a bit. She should be someone I make an effort to correct because we keep ending up in meetings together.

      2. Kaboobie*

        My last name is Anglicized from the original Russian, and the funny thing is not all branches of the family pronounce it the same! It’s a difference between a long u and a short u. The long u is more intuitive, but we use the short u. If someone gets it right the first time I am honestly shocked.

        1. That_guy*

          I have the same issue. My last name is Hungarian (actually very common there) and it has a spelling that makes a sound that does not exist in English, or any other language that I’m aware of. We have all long since given up on hearing it pronounced correctly but there a two different anglicized pronunciations in my birth family and then my wife went with a third one when we married.

          My surname is all of four letters long and I have long learned to spell it out as soon as I give it.

          1. highbury house*

            Hee! My name is Olde English, and the question I get asked most is, “Is that Hungarian?” Which I immediately take as encouragement to go into deep etymology. Which nobody wants, and amuses me both to do it (fun with words!) and that nobody wants me to (be careful what you ask for!).

        2. kt*

          Half spouse’s family uses an oooh sound in the last name, half uses an ah sound, for the same O. I’ve sometimes thought I should draw a family tree and color in by preferred sound and see if there’s a pattern….

        3. ThatGirl*

          My husband’s surname (which is now mine too) is shortened from an Eastern European last name and has a J in the middle of it. We pronounce it as a hard J, like a G. But people often want to soften the J and say it with more of a “zh” sound, and somewhere along the way my husband’s youngest brother started saying it that way. Which … is really funny to me. (Especially since in the original long version, it would actually be more of an I or Y sound.)

        4. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          My maiden name was Anglicized from the original German after WW I, and I can’t count the number of “creative pronunciations” I got over the years (some being extremely rude and not even close to correct). It’s spelled fairly phonetically as well.

          Took my husband’s last name when I married – very common Spanish last name, and I’ve still been amazed by some of the odd linguistic gymnastics people put themselves through to say the wrong pronunciation.

          For people that are honestly attempting to get it right I willingly help every single time. And I do correct people every single time as well. How polite I am while correcting the error is directly related to the attitude displayed by the person I am correcting. I still have very vivid memories of having to pull my father out of the DMV when getting my learners permit because the lady behind the counter said something along the lines of “you all lost WW2, I don’t have to get German names right.” That attitude, regardless of what nationality or ethnic group it is directed at, will get you an arcticly cold this is how it is said, respect people by saying their name correctly every time.

        5. Grace Poole*

          At one time I knew two separate people of French-Canadien extraction with the same last name, except they pronounced it differently. It was along the lines of “Hebert”–one pronounced it “ay-BEAR” and the other “HEE-bert”

        6. Tessie Mae*

          I found out at a family reunion that one small branch of the family (the only one that attended from out of state) pronounces our last name differently from the all the rest of us. Funnily enough, it is very likely that theirs is the “proper” pronunciation, based on the genealogy research my uncle did; looks like the spelling was changed once the family came to the US from Canada. So most of us are pronouncing it wrong. Oh, well.

      3. Orange You Glad*

        My boss has a long polish name that no one can pronounce. At least most people when they forget or don’t want to try to say it will shorten it to the first initial so he’ll be announced as FirstName FirstInitial.

    8. The Other Dawn*

      I don’t even bother correcting people most of the time. The last syllable in my married name is pronounced “ick” but everyone pronounces it “ich” because that’s the way it’s spelled. The only time it’s pronounced correctly is if I’m speaking to someone who’s German, knows German, or I’m in a German restaurant.

      1. Kabooobie*

        My husband grew up in a town that has a large French Canadian population. At his workplace he used to be the one who would enter new employees into the security system. People with French names would be pleasantly surprised he got the spelling right on the first try.

    9. drpuma*

      Re: adding your name’s pronunciation to your email signature – I just heard about a website, that lets you record yourself saying your name so you can add a “click here to hear my name” link to your email signature. This was suggested in the most recent edition of Karen Catlin’s Better Allies weekly email as one way to create a more inclusive workplace.

    10. cosmicgorilla*

      I have a co-worker that adds the pronunciation of their name to their email signature. I found it very helpful when I first met them, and I never got i5 wrong. I am pro adding it.

    11. NYWeasel*

      As someone who occasionally struggles, once I have multiple options burned into my brain, I struggle to keep straight the correct one. I think I remember it but then start second, third and fourth guessing myself. It upsets me too bc I agree that I should be able to remember the right one, but I completely lose the capacity to discard the incorrect ones if I’ve heard them too much. I’m also face blind so I have that challenge going on too…there’s someone in my office who has a last name like Leigh, which could be either “Lee” or “Lay”, AND looks enough like her coworker that I literally can’t tell who I’m looking at if I see one of them separately. (The differences are super obvious when you see them next to each other but it’s like I can’t identify them if I’m not able to compare.)

      With both her appearance and her name, I legitimately have a mental block at this point that prevents me retaining the info. It’s even crazier, bc I’m usually the person who can be like “Oh, we ordered pronated llama bridles in 2004, and the general response was that the groomers felt the bridles gave them less control over the llamas.” when I didn’t even work on the project but 5 seconds later I’m avoiding making an introduction bc I can’t recall if I’m talking to Jane Leigh (Lee? Lay?) or not!!

    12. Aggretsuko*

      I think spelling out in the email signature would help a lot, especially if the name isn’t at all intuitive.

      I used to volunteer with a girl whose spelling of her name and actual pronunciation of said name were 100% different. I had to write down both secretly and remind myself of who she was every time when I saw her name written vs. said.

    13. Just Here For The Paycheck*

      Hello, fellow person with a Belgian (and for me, slash-German) last name. I’ve long since become accustomed to the long pause before my name in any roll call, and am honestly impressed when I hear a new take on the pronunciation of my last name. I used to hate it, but I have to admit the uniqueness has grown on me. I’m a bad candidate for identity theft, at least – ha!

      Was just nice to see another person with a similar life experience here :)

  4. M*

    Access to petty cash or a gas card may not need urgent compared to a meeting with the CFO, but how often is the office door closed? Maybe the staff doesn’t have time to check back every half hour to see if the meeting is over. If people keep knocking on the door, it sounds like it is often close and is creating issues with the staff having access to things they need.

      1. BethRA*

        That assumes people are responsive to email, and some folks aren’t – either because they’re just not good at keeping up, get so much that they CAN’T keep up, or because they intentionally only check at specific intervals (not saying that’s the case with OP). We’ve had great results using a chat feature (similar to Slack) for those quick questions that used to be answered by sticking your head in someone’s door and I really hope people stick with it once people migrate back to the office.

    1. Mialana*

      Also, a gas card or petty cash might be urgent! If you need to drive somewhere and you don’t have cash that’s kind of a problem…

      1. EvilQueenRegina*

        Is there any way that anyone else can be a point of contact for things like giving out petty cash if something genuinely urgent does come up while you’re in a meeting, so they can get their cash from that person and not need to bother OP?

        1. Drag0nfly*

          That’s a very common sense response, and it’s one the OP should strongly consider. If she doesn’t *have* to keep those things in her office, then she should delegate them to someone else. If she *does* have to keep those things in her office, then she needs to either hold her meetings elsewhere if it’s important not to be interrupted, or she needs to make peace with being interrupted.

          1. SimplyTheBest*

            She says she’s the staff accountant so I imagine she is the person responsible for keeping those things secure in her office.

            1. CoveredInBees*

              It’s also very common for office managers or receptionists to handle those types of things.

        2. Clorinda*

          Yes! Things that many people are likely to need on short notice should be in accessible areas–petty cash in the work space of an admin who can track and control it, the vacuum cleaner in a closet everyone can get to, and so on.

      2. Cthulhu's Librarian*

        Sometimes it’s a problem even if you do have cash on hand. I’ve worked for employers where petty cash was a relatively painless process (estimate need, bring back a receipt and change), but if I paid for something out of pocket, even when it was below the petty cash limit, I would have to submit a reimbursement request.

        Doesn’t sound too horrible, until you find out that reimbursement checks had to be approved by three different oversight levels, and were only processed and issued once per quarter, and inconsistently at that. Depending on the time I submitted a request and when the previous one had been issued, I could be waiting anywhere from 1 to 5 months to get paid back.

        Add in that all the requests got lumped into one single payment, and the more than occasional tendency of smaller requests to get lost in the shuffle, and even figuring out if I had been reimbursed correctly was a major production on my part. If my expected payment didn’t match what was on the check, I was in for a couple of weeks of nightmares, where I had to figure out which request had gone missing, and with which of the people. (Do you know how difficult it is to get someone handling a weekly cash flow of more than $1M to care about helping you find a $32 reimbursement request they lost on you? Especially if it’s more than 3 months old?)

        All of which is to say – don’t dismiss the importance of these things to your other coworkers, OP. I get that accounting issues and actual audits feel more significant to you (and are to the business as a whole), but controlling access to a resource someone needs is a big deal, and is probably a large part of the reason that your coworkers have been conditioned not to think of your closed door as “do not disturb” but as a “Knock for what you need” scenario.

        If you do want to condition your coworkers not to interrupt while your door is closed… A sign is a good way to go. Make sure it’s only up when you actually can’t be disturbed, though. Also, try sending out a notice early on if you’ve got something major like an audit happening – If you can say “Hey, if you have petty cash needs this week, try to put them in before 10am, because I’ll be tied up with auditors from 10 to 4 each day” I think you’ll find a lot of people willing to respect that, because they know when to expect a chance to ask you for what they need.

        If that’s not helping, try having the meetings that truly can’t be interrupted in a conference room or the other party’s office – conference rooms especially tend to signal “do not interrupt unless building is on fire” to people.

        Also, it sounds like you’re the only accountant in a business that does something else, and that these folks interrupting are line staff/involved in other aspects of the business – try to remember that many of your coworkers are unlikely to understand what you do, or why you might need to not be disturbed. They likely think of your role as being functionally a bookkeeper or accounts receivable/accounts payable clerk, because that is what most people have experience with. The compliance/auditing/planning/payroll/etc elements of what you do are something that they’ve probably never had explained or been exposed to before – which means they don’t know how sensitive some of the meetings and processes you work with can be, unless you take the time to explain it to them. Tell everyone that you can’t be disturbed until 2pm on Mondays, otherwise everyone may not get paid on time, and it is nearly certain that anyone who says “I’ll go ask Accountant for…” about a non-urgent thing on Monday morning will get told to knock it off and wait by all their coworkers, because what they needed wasn’t urgent.

      3. Cthulhu's Librarian*

        Had a much longer comment in this vein that got swallowed by the ether when I pressed submit *le sigh*. To distill it down because I don’t have the time to type it again before going to work…

        Remember that what seems urgent to you, dealing with the whole business’ concerns, is not the same as what is going to seem urgent to a coworker. Floating $20 in purchases because you were in a meeting can range from a minor inconvenience to a very significant problem, depending on my financial state, and how quickly I’m likely to get reimbursed by the business.

        If it’s going to mean that I have to wait 3 weeks to get reimbursed, and all my personal bills are going to be mucked up because of that? Yup, I’m interrupting you for whatever I need.

      4. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        This! is what I came here to say. Why is the only way to access petty cash or a gas card through one person, who tends to be in closed-door meetings with the leadership (that obviously shouldn’t be interrupted)? if you need gas, you need gas.

    2. Julia*

      Yeah, in an old job, my boss had the key to all the storage rooms, but I was in charge of getting people things. So some high up guy comes and says, “I want this right now” and I have to go get it, but my boss is in a meeting and I can’t get the key. Now I have to apologize to upper ranks dude for inconveniencing them, listen to their grumbling, maybe get told not to make excuses, and be considered unhelpful.

    3. hbc*

      Yeah, I suspect there’s some combination of door closed a lot, door closed sometimes for reasons that aren’t critical and people can’t tell which situation it is, and they actually need the thing now. For the latter case, you aren’t going to win if the person who can hire and fire them told them to go fill up the truck.

      Instead of making it clearer when interruptions aren’t welcome, I’d work on making it easier for people to not interrupt. Put up a white board with the time that you’ll be out of that meeting. Ask people to write down or email their requests–and then you actually go out and find them after your meeting is over. Give the urgent things to others who have their door open more often, or get backups like splitting the petty cash between two people.

      1. JayNay*

        It also seems that people are interrupting the OP’s meetings with questions that more than one person should know the answer to. “Where is the gas card?” shouldn’t be a difficult thing to figure out by yourself if people drive company cars regularly. Maybe this info needs to be more accessible around the office, or multiple gas cards can be deposited with multiple teams etc.

        1. Clisby*

          +1. Why would a staff accountant be in charge of a gas card, petty cash, or where the vacuum cleaner is? That sounds like a job for an office manager or other admin.

    4. The Other Dawn*

      That’s what I’m wondering: how often is the door closed? If it’s closed more often than not, people probably assume that’s OP’s default. Also, I’m not sure why OP is upset that someone knocked on the door when the CFO was in there. I doubt they knew the CFO was in there and that they were have a very serious conversation. They just saw the door was closed.

      1. SheLooksFamiliar*

        I wondered the same thing. In some previous employers, even casual drop-ins became a ‘Come in and shut the door’ kind of meeting. When closed doors are the norm, they don’t indicate the need for privacy and discretion; they signal business as usual.

        Regardless, in many office cultures, knocking on a closed-door is considered respectful and appropriate. If the OP doesn’t want to be interrupted, they need to indicate that with their team. But yeah, also they should consider just how often their door is closed, and if someone else can hold onto the company gas card.

      2. Anti anti-tattoo Carol*

        RE: coming in when execs are in meetings, I think it depends on the office culture and setup. Our office doors are partially glass, and you can see who is in there. If I see that senior management is in a closed-door meeting, I do not knock, unless it’s VERY important. Even then, I’d probably nab one of their assistants first, just to see if this is an “interruptible” meeting. Our senior management are, (almost) to a person, very approachable… yet I think they’d still be slightly peeved if someone walked in when the door was closed and they were visibly seated and engaged. And fwiw, I think that should be extended to all closed-door meetings, regardless of status in the org.

        We have status signs on the office doors and cubicle walls, within our small office culture. It’s opt-in, but almost everyone uses them because they’re helpful. (and it was made clear that if you don’t use them, it’s totally fine). We indicate if we’re available, if we’re in DO NOT DISTURB mode, if we’ve left for the day, etc. Nothing invasive like bathroom use. A lot of people have added things like “BRB grabbing coffee,” but again, it’s an opt-in. I live in an area stereotyped for being distantly polite so the “Do Not Disturb” is respected.

      3. qwerty*

        Plus they knocked and waited for someone to open the door. When I read the headline I thought it was people just barging in.

    5. Bagpuss*

      It can just be habit, though.

      Where I work, the default for senior staff is normally door open – closed means ‘don’t interrupt’ .

      I have been trying for *years* to train people that for my door, I have an actual engaged / free sign and that if the door is closed but the sign says ‘free’ it’s OK to come in.
      I have found that a big paper sign saying @My door is closed because it’s cold, come in’ works about 50% f the time, and equally that some people don’t look and come in even when it says engaged, so I also have a big paper sign which is printed in bright red capital letters (which I use for really sensitive situations)

    6. Not sure of what to call myself*

      In every company I’ve worked at, the default position with employees is “if in doubt, ask accounts”. Doesn’t matter if its wildly non-accounts related, it gets asked to the finance manager. And the same goes with calls that reception don’t know who to forward to. Probably because finance often oversees facilities/office msnagement).

      You don’t mention if you have subordinates to delegate this to (and if its a smaller company you probably don’t) but you might need to accept that people need access to petty cash and fuel cards at times that don’t suit you. If you are controlling them to the extent that they need to ask you for a card each time they need to fill up a vehicle, you need to expect interruptions. By all means push back on the cleaning one, but the others would be legit in most accounts departments.

      As others have said, if you truly want no (even polite) interruptions you need to be prepared to put a “do not disturb under any circumstances” but also remove it and let people have fair access to you and the financial resources you control.

    7. BethRA*

      One of our higher-up finance people is notorious for constantly having a “do not disturb, in a meeting/on deadline/etc.” sign on their door – or, was when we were all in the office. And then it went from happening mostly during specific times (think tax and budget season), to large swaths of time through the year. If the only way to get what you need from someone is to ignore a “do not disturb” sign, eventually people will learn to do just that.

      Don’t know if this is the case with OP (and the vacuum thing? pft.) , but it’s definitely worth considering if you find people ignoring what you think is a clear “do not disturb” message.

    8. Firecat*

      Iny experience this could be:

      Boss is a bottleneck and staff are not empowered to cover these issues.

      Boss is not responsive to emails so you have to ambush them (goes with bottleneck above).

      The department culture is a closed door is a “suggestion”. Seriously I had a coworker bust in on my changing in my own office (lock was broke it turns out) then yelled at me that I should have locked the door (I had) meanwhile I was like “Get out and knock next time!” . Ultimately I got in trouble more then the barger.

      Office culture is focused on completing your tasks = most important and politeness/professionalism is secondary.

      1. La Triviata*

        At a previous (horrible) job, there was ONE PERSON who would not respect my closed door. I only closed the door when necessary (usually when I had to change pantyhose), but she’d barge in. So, when changing pantyhose, I took to putting my guest chair in front of the door … at which she’d force the door open. Then I took to sitting in the guest chair when I had the door closed, which made it pretty much impossible for her to force it open. Which led to her banging on the door and yelling at me. sigh ….

    9. MrsFillmore*

      Yep, I came to say something similar. My big questions were 1) is the only way to access petty cash by getting it from the LW’s office, and 2) how often is LW’s door closed? If the answer to #1 is “yes” and #2 is more than 1-2 a day for 30 minutes or so at a time, then I think this set up is a problem that needs to be addressed. While the petty cash/gas card need might not be urgent, walking multiple times a day to LW’s office to see when they’re free, and delaying the task that requires petty cash until it’s accessible, *is* mighty inefficient and I’d recommend for LW to find an alternative approach for when they need to have closed door meetings.

  5. BuildMeUp*

    #5 – Is it possible Susan is worried it will make her look bad if you’re going to Peter with questions regarding her projects? Are these questions only Peter can answer, or could you be asking Susan first?

    1. river*

      But Susan isn’t saying, “Don’t ask Peter, ask me.” She’s saying, “Peter will be angry if you ask him.”
      That’s the problem, Susan is characterising Peter is a way that a) may not be true, and b) could discourage interns from talking to him when they need to.

    2. Emily*

      That’s a really good point! I had missed the part about LW asking Peter things that had to do with Susan’s projects.

  6. Emily*

    LW #5-I think Alison’s answer is spot on. It sounds like you and Peter have a pretty good relationship and if you can find a way to bring it up to him I think you should. If you have any one on one’s with him that would be a good time to do it. This next part is more speculation on my part based on what you said in your letter, so could very well not be accurate, but if Susan is the type who doesn’t do her job very well (you mentioned her not finishing reports) then it is very possible that Peter interacts differently with Susan than with you. You’re an intern so it’s expected that you would be asking a lot of questions/need a lot of guidance, but if Susan is asking Peter questions that Susan should know the answer to/know how to find the answer herself as the legal assistant and is not completing tasks that she is given, then I can see why Peter would be frustrated with her and would respond differently to you than he does to her.

  7. Liz*

    LW1 – YES to the door sign! Please don’t expect employees to interpret the closed door the way you want without being in some way explicit, especially as this seems to be a “closed door = knock first” office. In workplaces in the past, I’ve got in trouble for both knocking (“How dare you interrupt my meeting! Didn’t you see the door is closed?”) and for NOT knocking! (“What do you mean you couldn’t get the petty cash off Wakeen because the door is closed? Just knock and ask! What’s the matter with you?”) As an autistic person with anxiety, a clear expectation of which is expected in that moment makes a world of difference and stops me from panicking at the sight of yet another inconsistent rule.

    I would also be tempted to add, if you do have a sign, take it down between meetings. A sign that stays up permanently can easily become part of the scenery and people might not notice, or just think “Oh, LW always has that sign up – if we paid any attention, we’d never be able to speak to her so we just ignore it!” and you’re back to guesswork.

    1. Kella*

      Yes this! Unless everyone has a joint calendar, I imagine not everyone knows if you are in a meeting at a given time or when a specific meeting is important enough that a short interruption is a big deal and they likely won’t find out until, after they knock, you tell them you’re busy and to come back later, or whatever one of alison’s scripts you use. I didn’t see anything saying that if the meeting isn’t very important that the door is left open, so this seems like less of a door issue and more of an interruptions issue. Some specific conversations with repeat offenders saying, “If I am in a meeting, you will know because this sign is up. If this sign is up and the concern is not urgent, please contact me later/email me/etc.”

      1. Allonge*

        In my experience even a joint calendar (or IM status) will not deter some people, but yes, without it’s a total guessing game. A sign on the door can be one of those ‘close-to-ideal’ reminders that most people will notice – put it at eye level, put a big stop sign on it and just write a few words, not an essay.

        And, as Liz says, please take it off between meetings as it will lose all purpose otherwise.

    2. Rez123*

      We used to be a door open office. Closed door meant do not disturb. Then the office got busyer and people started to close doors more often just to have less noise. We got “do not disturb” signs. So now we are door open-come in, door closed-knock and come in, sign-do not come in. At first it was a bit awkward to have the sign but there is one in every room so it is not like only people charting higher/management has them so it is not specifically aimed at anyone. Now it’s just part of the office. Some don’t use them at all but then they just have to deal with interuptions.

    3. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      Yes, yes, yes to your second point — make sure the sign is a hard & fast rule, otherwise it will erode over time.

      Also make sure people who interrupt you during meetings don’t get any helpful response. The most they should get is: ‘come back later’.

    4. Forrest*

      Yeah, there seem to be quite a few letter recently in the format: “X is a universally understood office norm; these people are unbelievably rude and ignorant for violating this norm; clearly I cannot draw attention to their lack of manners; do I have any choice but to sit ans fine.” I’d count the “people keep interrupting even though my IM is set to busy” too.

      There ARE no universal office norms around this stuff— different companies have different cultures, different departments have differ cultures within the same company, and even different individuals have different needs depending on the type of work they do or even their own preferences. It’s really OK to be explicit about what you want people to do, either verbally or in writing! It’s helpful to everyone! If you feel like you’re really going against the grain of your office’s culture, by all means check with your manager to make sure that you aren’t violating an important cultural imperative in your organisation, but assuming you’ve got their blessing, go ahead and tell people what you need!

      IME it’s not just autistic people who appreciate the clarity— plenty of NT people do too. And if a few people do moan or feel vaguely affronted, that’s ok: you’re there to do your work, and if that occasionally clashes with being lovely and liked by everyone, that’s OK. They can handle their feelings too!

      1. Barbara Eyiuche*

        I worked in one office where the norm was to just barge into the top guy’s office, without knocking. Everyone did, multiple times an hour. I just could not bring myself to do that, and I always knocked. One of his secretaries even mocked me for this. I could see the boss struggling as to how to respond. On the one hand, he was annoyed at having to say ‘Come in.’ On the other hand, he seemed to be thinking, well at least she’s trying to be polite.

      2. NotEnoughCoffee*

        Yes! I’ve noticed many letters from people who assume their preferences are universal. I’ve tried to be proactive about telling people mine, especially my direct reports. Like, in our office, people tend to expect instant responses to emails and get huffy if they don’t get them. I tell everyone that I can only be counted on to check my email 3x/day to avoid distraction so, if it’s an emergency, text me. It appears to work well but who knows, maybe there’s someone out there silently fuming!

      3. NotAnotherManager!*

        Yes, I notice this, too, and it’s made me go through and update our orientation materials to talk a little bit about our office culture and expectations to be more explicit about how things work. (One thing I specifically mention is the leaving things in people’s chairs. That’s just how we roll, and it’s not a sign of disrespect or insinuation someone doesn’t know how to prioritize. Half our mailboxes are not line-of-sight to offices, and people’s desks are varying degrees of clean – it goes in your chair.)

        I think it boils down to ask versus guess culture. I’m very much in the former category, and most of my problems are with people in the second who are convinced that their unspoken rules of How Things Should Be are the “right” way.

        1. CoveredInBees*

          Yup. I used to report directly to the CEO and VP of my company. Each liked to handle appointment-making in a different way. Both totally reasonable, just different procedures. When I left that position, my handover memo included a note that “CEO prefers to set up and run meetings this way…VP prefers to set up and run meetings this way.”

          They saw the memo and were miffed about that point because they thought anyone who was hired for that job should know how to set up and run a meeting. Again, both procedures were totally reasonable and common, but different. How would someone new to the organization just intuit their preferences? Much of the memo was documenting my own procedures and checklists for that role, so it was hardly out of place.

      4. Dog Coordinator*


        Completely agree, there really are NO universal office norms, and OP is getting upset by assuming that everyone has the exact same knowledge and work background as them. I totally agree it’s frustrating when people don’t read signs, but it sounds like OP is expecting everyone to read their mind and just KNOW what they should and shouldn’t do. Will a different sign stop all the interruptions? Probably not. But OP needs to state what THEY are expecting from office norms.

      5. Rach*

        We have shared calendars and constant meetings, in which we aren’t even always expected to attend, and if we are we are still working (gotta love tech), so our IM is pretty much meaningless unless presenting and “do not disturb”. So I don’t hesitate to IM when it is set to “in meeting” and neither do my coworkers. As you say there is no universal office norm!

    5. AMT*

      I’m a therapist and found a site that will do custom sliding signs. You can make them say anything you want (e.g. “In meeting, do not knock” —> “Welcome, please knock”).

    6. Rusty Shackelford*

      It sounds like the LW already uses a door sign: This goes on daily, even with a do not disturb sign on the door…

      1. Threeve*

        A slight improvement might be to add a hotel-style doorknob hanger–if somebody’s hand has to physically brush something, they might pay a little more attention.

      2. BethRA*

        If this is happening “daily” then maybe the “do not disturb” sign is up so often people feel like they have no choice? Or it’s just become wallpaper?

    7. merp*

      My last supervisor had a sign she could flip that either said “do not disturb” or “please knock” and it was super helpful. I think the letter writer has let this get under their skin but this is an easy fix! I hope it improves soon. I’ve worked mostly in offices where a closed door just meant you should knock first and it would be kind of jarring to get glared at for doing so.

      1. Firecat*

        I disagree it’s an easy fix. Sometimes these cultures become The hill people die on.

        Signed – an office holder in a “barge in culture” whose seemingly simple request to knock first was notated in their performance review the reason why they are only getting a 3/5….

  8. Also a Peter*

    LW #5- If you feel comfortable, mentioning it even offhand to Peter would be very kind. I’ve been Peter before- I had a teammate, “Mary”, who started the exact same time as me, and we were in the same role, but I was hired two levels higher than Mary. In her mind, she thought she should be the same level as me (the difference in level between us was incredibly obvious to everyone else) and held a grudge against me from the start because of it. Then for her first project, our manager assigned me to to work with her as a more senior person to mentor her and help make sure it was on a good path. Needless to say, that didn’t go well. The short version is that she ultimately, she decided I was a terribly evil person and would even periodically ask to speak 1:1 with me to tell me that to my face. I was very quiet about it, intentionally not wanting it to affect my team- so only my manager and team lead were aware of the issues (they both would see stuff happen and also saw it as solely an issue with her behavior, nothing I was causing). I got along great with my other teammates and over time they each started to let me know Mary was badmouthing me to them. And then they’d just start telling me everytime she did so. It was super helpful to know it was going on, how frequently it was happening, and have a vague idea of what Mary was saying. My manager wasn’t effective and never appropriately handled the situation. But knowing it was happening still helped me navigate many situations and realize that if she had spoken to someone who didn’t know me, it would take them a bit to realize I was actually totally fine to work with.

  9. Rara Avis*

    I had up a “do not disturb” sign while pumping and got walked in on. At least they didn’t make that much stake twice!

    1. Sleepless*

      A coworker put up a sign that said “Lactation in progress-enter at your own risk.” She really didn’t care if people came in, she just wanted them to be sure they were ok with coming in right then.

      1. pbnj*

        I had a coworker that would put a sign with a picture of their baby which said “Baby’s time”. I liked this idea since a picture of a baby on the outside of a door is pretty noticeable.

          1. pbnj*

            Perhaps it’s one of those things you need to see in person. It was very effective for our workplace. Coworker recently had a baby and periodically shuts their door throughout the day and puts a baby sign up….I’m not opening that door unless the building’s on fire. Perhaps having a sign with a baby on it that said “pump time” would be less ambiguous. But I do think having a picture on the door does make people pause and look for a beat more than just words that no one reads.

  10. Rich*

    OP4, the only thing to do is speak up endlessly and with endless patience. I have an always-mispronounced and always-misspelled last name. It _looks_ like a fairly common name, but a subtle difference in spelling changes the pronunciation. My life is politely correcting people.

    I find it helpful when I’m the first one to say my name, as I get to put the correct pronunciation out there. So I do try to make a point of introducing myself First+Last where possible, even if I’ve been previously identified in a meeting or intro with only my first name. It’s rarely seen as odd. People often miss the correct pronunciation. But I’ll get people asking to confirm often enough “Is it Pie-g?”, that it’s worth the effort.

    1. LW4 Katniss Pygg*

      Yeah, you know what’s funny is on my old team, most people learned and got it right, but now that I’ve moved to a new position with people I didn’t know previously, it just seems like correcting people is way harder over a Skype than in person, and that’s why people aren’t getting it. I even have people say “Katniss Pig, I hope I’m saying that right” and then just keep talking without giving me a chance to say “well, actually, no..”

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        I feel you. I have a last name that has two accepted ways to pronounce it, one Spanish and one French. I just smile and correct people all the time (and speak up/insert myself politely with the is that correct freight train people).

        I also completely gave up on my maiden name – I always knew when I was speaking with someone who had met the family before because they pronounced the name correctly. My younger brother has put the pronunciation of the name in his email signature – and still spends loads of time correcting people.

    2. t-vex*

      My married name was very easy for English speakers to pronounce but looked daunting when written out. If there was every any hesitation I would just jump in with a smile and say “ty-RAN-uh-sore, easier than it looks.” Worked fine, and I think it put people at ease to acknowledge their struggle.

  11. L.*

    LW 5: maybe ask a third person at the firm about Susan and Peter. I was Susan once – I worked as a paralegal out of college, and the partner I worked for treated support staff very differently from the attorneys. When I told her I’d be leaving the firm to attend law school, she became much friendlier to me.

    1. BlueWolf*

      This is what I was thinking. LW 5 is an intern, so they are there to ask questions and learn from Peter. Susan on the other hand may be expected to just get things done and not ask too many questions. It’s hard to know from the outside if it’s a Susan problem or a Peter problem.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Or third idea – that it’s a Susan’s work quality issue. So she has a different relationship with Peter than anyone else, so the office may be at BEC stage with her. I think trying to discreetly figure out which it is would be a good thing (and this is also something internships are for – the introduction to office politics).

    2. MCMonkeybean*

      I agree, I was thinking it is completely possible that Peter has reacted poorly to Susan’s questions. I’m curious how often Susan says these things, and it doesn’t sound like it is unprompted–so if it has just been a few times and in a way where it seems like she is genuinely trying to help OP rather than being gossipy or something… I think I would feel weird telling Peter about it. Maybe first I would talk to Susan about it, and the next time she says something like that I would say “hmm, that really hasn’t been my experience with Peter! He’s generally pretty helpful when I come to him with questions.”

    3. Bethie*

      I was going to say this. I worked for an attorney who was the funny guy to all the other attorneys and screamed and cussed at me (the paralegal) for minor things and blamed me for every single on of his mistakes. I learned a lot about CYA.

    4. MissMeghan*

      Yep!! Frankly, I think LW 5 just does not have enough information to judge. In my old firm my office was next to an attorney who made at least 3 secretaries and paralegals leave his office in tears. He was not that way with the interns, at all. I wouldn’t say his behavior was the norm by any means, but there’s always a few like that in every large firm.

      If you’re a high achieving student intern, the attorneys are marketing the firm to you while they work with you. They are working to attract talent and will usually have their game faces on with you. It’s a very different dynamic than attorneys and staff.

    5. OP 5*

      I’d love to be able to ask someone else but there’s just no way to do that without kicking up drama, honestly. I’m out of contact with most of the office unless on direct assignment with one of them, due to being remote and needing to directly email or direct message one of them out of the blue to initiate this conversation. I don’t love the look of that, and I’m trying to avoid starting drama at all.
      It’s worth noting, I think, that I’m a paralegal student in community college in a program Peter also attended when he worked as a paralegal before becoming an attorney. I’m not in law school. He could still definitely have a different attitude about support staff and others for sure, but the context makes me think that’s less likely than if he were your standard undergrad to law school attorney working with a law student intern.

      1. shirleywurley*

        It could also be that Peter is being particularly nice to you because he sees you and he “sharing a background story”. This could shield you from any less than stellar behaviour from Peter (if he actually has any) for a while, or for all time.

        Also, being an intern and actually being a paid employee are two very different things, especially in the legal sector.

        That said, lawyers who have worked in admin and/or as support staff (such as a paralegal) before becoming lawyers tend to be far more pleasant to deal with than those who just went straight from law school to being a lawyer. They tend to have realistic expectations and an actual understanding of what the admin/support roles involve, because they have done those jobs themselves.

  12. Dandy it is*

    Why does the name question person have to resign herself to people not using her last name when not using a more “foreign” sounding name or expecting a shortened name for perceived more “difficult” names can be and commonly is a microaggression? People’s names are important to them whomever they are. Saying this as someone with a mildly common name but a less common spelling and a last name that has multiple pronunciations, I question if my lack of caring if people spell or pronounce my name correctly makes it more difficult for others to insist that their names be used/spelled correctly and is an example of my privilege.
    It seems clear that Ms Pygg wants her last name used and used correctly. She shouldn’t just have to resign herself to people not using it.

    1. TROI*

      Is it privilege? I was talking to my fellow POC coworker the other day about how shruggy we are about our last names being mispronounced. We both feel like they’re just isn’t any energy left to care about it. And my company at least it does seem like white people are more into correcting people who mispronounce their last names.

    2. EverAwkward*

      Absolutely this! Why should someone with a non-traditional name have to let others not make the effort?! That’s bonkers.

      At best it’s rude not to ask / say the name but not to listen when corrected is dismissive and I would be upset if someone couldn’t be bothered to try and say my name right… it’s my name?!

      And thinking about it, isn’t this kind of an example of a potentially racist act if LW was to be a person of colour? (thinking of Thandiwe Newton’s recent name change which has opened dialogue about this issue).

      Surely LW should be working with their colleagues and manager to dispel this issue so that people with non traditional names feel valued? Seems like an inclusivity issue which could improve the wider cultures for others?

      1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

        Surely LW should be working with their colleagues and manager to dispel this issue so that people with non traditional names feel valued? Seems like an inclusivity issue which could improve the wider cultures for others?

        I mean, if she wants to do that, that sounds great. But it also sounds exhausting and I think many, many people wouldn’t be interested in that.

        1. EverAwkward*

          Yeah, I think I wrote ‘should’ when I actually meant ‘could’ – my bad. It shouldn’t be on her to change the culture if she doesn’t want to. Thanks pointing that out :)

        2. Aggretsuko*

          Yeah, it’s more like, “is this the hill I want to die on every single day?” I don’t know about you, but I get tired of having the same fights and arguments in my job daily for work-related stuff without also having to fight to get my name said right (not that that’s an issue for me personally) at every meeting.

          I wonder which is more offensive: not saying the name at all or saying it knowing that your odds are high you’ll get it wrong?

          But I lean towards writing out how it’s said on emails and hope that osmosis kicks in with people.

      2. LW4 Katniss Pygg*

        I appreciate this thread. I am white, but I hadn’t thought of this in the broader context of people with non-English sounding names. I don’t want to be a crusader, but if normalizing making people say each other’s names right helps people of color, I will 100% start interrupting Every. Single. time.

        1. Insert Clever Name Here*

          Do you have a work friend (or two) that is in at least some of these meetings that you could enlist to help you? Every time Work Friend has a reason to mention your name in a meeting, maybe they could say “Katniss Pygg suggested we try X” as opposed to “Katniss suggested we try X.” If people start hearing it in that context they may pick up on it. I have a coworker with a non-English last name that also becomes “mumble” in introductions, and if I’m mentioning her in a meeting I try to use her last name.

          1. LW4 Katniss Pygg*

            Not often. I’m usually the sole representative of my group in these meetings. The person who trained me did this though, while I was learning and attending meetings with her. Side effect of me being a fast learner, though, it didn’t happen enough to stick with more than one or two people before I was off on my own.

          2. Qwerty*

            This is what I was coming to suggest!

            If you can focus your energy on just getting two people to regularly say it right, then more people will start hearing the correct pronunciation and they can help with correcting others. Then you can move on to focus on the next one or two people who mess up your name. I recommend the pair being one meeting organizer and one coworker – either someone you are close with or someone who is popular/talks to a lot of people to increase the chances of your name coming up. I used to do this a lot on behalf of coworkers since I had a lot of social capital.

            Or at the very least if they aren’t going to try to pronounce your last name, they can at least refer to you as Katniss P to distinguish you from the other people named Katniss in the group. We did this at one job for a guy who had an Italian last name and the rest of the team was intimidated by the “gn” sound, so we had a John D and a John Doe but no one ever mixed them up.

        2. TROI*

          if normalizing making people say each other’s names right helps people of color, I will 100% start interrupting Every. Single. time.
          I wish it worked that way but I don’t think it will. I think you will only get people to say your name correctly by insisting that your own name is pronounced correctly. In my experience. I suppose you can be mindful that everyone’s name is being pronounced correctly, but I wouldn’t especially expect or appreciate one of my colleagues making an issue of my name’s pronunciation, even if they were trying to be helpful

    3. Allonge*

      Unfortunately it’s not a question of ‘should she have to’ – nobody should have to. It’s that unless you only ever work with the same 5 people, there is no solution that prevents this – if a name is spelled or pronounced weird, people will make mistakes, and trying to control it is like herding a million cats. And Alison’s answers always take into consideration the level of effort required to implement a solution, which I love about this site.

      That does not mean you cannot correct people in the moment, or ask frequent offenders to pay attention!

    4. BRG*

      How is it different from the person last week whose name was getting misspelled? It’s part of life when you have an unusual spelling or name.

      1. EverAwkward*

        I don’t think that it is different to be honest and when working with colleagues and staff who are POC they have repeatedly expressed that by not making the effort to spell or say a name correctly (when this has been gently explained or clarified – no one minds a genuine mistake!) it feels like they’re valued less than those that have easy names (and who are usually, but not always white). For me it’s all a part of building a culture of inclusivity where individuals are valued.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I’ve talked about this before, but it is relevant here. I actually find it easier to learn names that are new to me then I do the specific spelling of common northern European names I grew up hearing: Eric, Erik, Erica, Erika, and Ericka. Brennan, Brendan, and Brandon.
          I also have issues with grey/gray –I regularly changed my software’s dictionary when we sold a product in that color.
          Please don’t think I don’t respect you; just correct me or let it go. (Give me a mnemonic and you give me a chance: the Brendan who said he’s named after a Brenda? That variation stuck.)

    5. jules*

      ?? The advice was to correct people in the moment and talk to repeat offenders, not just suck it up. As someone with a hard to pronounce last name, I’m not going to pretend there’s a solution beyond that and I’m curious what you think it could be.

      1. EverAwkward*

        One of my former team decided to changer her name from her English-friendly nickname to her birth name which was harder to say and people really struggled. It was important to her that we learn this as it was related to her heritage so as a manger, I encouraged her to jump in and explain, but also reached out to other managers we worked with frequently to ensure they were aware and could support their team as well (the employee knew). Since I’ve moved on, I believe that they’ve now said that if people have unusual names, they can include a phonetic spelling in their email signature to help people when making contact.

        1. TechWorker*

          In a company with international workers the pronunciation would be helpful even for ‘common’ names. (There are plenty of names that are common in my country but totally stump some of our colleagues from elsewhere :))

          1. Barbara Eyiuche*

            True. I find it annoying how many people here in Canada cannot spell or pronounce my first name. People from South Korea think it is funny. People from some parts of India either look at me blankly or seem to think my name is Bob. On the other hand, my dentist’s surname is Nwachukwu, which in my opinion is not difficult to pronounce, but even her office staff do not use it.

            1. BubbleTea*

              A client I spoke to by phone thanked me for pronouncing her name right, which I felt was quite sad (that it was unusual enough to comment on). It wasn’t a name I’m familiar with but it was pretty easy to say phonetically. I’ve found a lot of Nigerian names and probably names from other parts of Africa (we ask ethnicity and people don’t normally specify beyond Black African etc) are really simple to say if you engage your brain!

              1. UKDancer*

                Yes. I think the thing is to ask and practice and it becomes easier. I worked with a Georgian lady with a very long surname (as Georgian names often are) which people didn’t want to try and use. It was said exactly as it sounded so I never found it very difficult once I’d learnt it much to the amazement of my boss.

                1. Myrin*

                  I’ve also found that people get way hung up on spelling when all they need to do is listen closely and completely ignore the unfamiliar way a name is written down on paper.

                  Most people I interact with have only a basic understanding of English, including its differing-depending-on-several-factors pronunciation, which can make even pretty common English names seem daunting when you see the “strange” way they’re spelt.

                  My mum had the hardest time pronuncing “Geoffrey” once because she couldn’t get over its spelling. So I went “Listen to me. Ignore the g or the o. It’s ‘Dscheffri’. Listen how I say it and ignore the spelling.” We have all these sounds except for the specifically English r but I told her that’s negligible in that case. I then actually wrote it down the “German” way, like how I spelt it above, and she really only completely got it then but she was still weirdly hesitant to say it. But after a few times, she got it right.

              2. BadWolf*

                My brain definitely seems to panic and shut down on unfamiliar names. It’s very annoying and I’m working on it. They’ve been changing some landmark names in my area and I’m trying very hard to learn them so I’m not all “It’s some funny name, I can’t be expected to say that” when, in fact, it’s pronounced just like it’s spelled and not that hard.

                1. Rach*

                  I had a speech impediment as a child and I still stumble/mix up words, add to that my clinical anxiety, yeah, unfamiliar names are difficult for me! I honestly try and will never be angry at a correction.

      2. Dandy it is*

        The advice here includes the following:

        “I think (a) it’s probably never going to go away completely and the more you can resign yourself to that and decide not to care, the happier you will be (as with name misspellings),…”

        Yes, it is going to happen but her name is her name. She shouldn’t have to resign herself to people not using her name when it appears common in her setting for last names to be used. She is being treated differently.

        1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

          Except it’s true that it’s probably not going to go away completely, and as someone with an oft-misprounounced name, I tend to agree with Alison: the less I care about it, the happier I feel. Otherwise I’m just expelling a lot of emotional energy on something that I have very little control over.

          Now if the offenders were writing in to ask if they could ‘resign’ themselves to not saying it, I think the response would be different, but it’s not, so there are limits to what OP can do.

          If you have advice other than correcting people, I’d be curious to hear it.

          1. Dandy it is*

            I still remember the email from the person I worked with about 20 years ago that included the correct spelling of her name and the reminder that went with it – 2 N’s, 2- T’s, 2-P’s.

            Either people’s names are important or they are not. Yes, this is always going to be a struggle for the LW. However, if the LW didn’t care about people using her name, she wouldn’t have written in. She wants her last name to be used.

            She can say if the culture of our organization is to use last names, my last name is pronounced x. Names are important and it devalues me when everyone else’s is used and mine is not. She could also enlist her manager in helping. Or when she accepts the meeting invite include a response that specifically says to the organizer/chair for the introductions, my last name is Pygg pronounced Pieg, my last name was skipped in the last several meetings.

            I included the last suggestion because I generally don’t read people’s signature lines so I wonder how many people are actually seeing her pronunciation guide. Also, at my company, auto-signatures are removed from internal emails. They are only included for external communications.

            1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

              Ooh, I do like the specific suggestion of including the correct pronounciation with the response to the meeting invites.

        2. Myrin*

          In using that kind of advice, Alison is simply being realistic.
          Of course OP shouldn’t have to resign herself to this but she might have to anyway because there’s a limited amount of things she can do about it; because, frankly, it sounds like she works exclusively with people who don’t give a damn and who would much rather fumble through every roll call instead of simply jotting down once how to pronunce her name (after all, it happens “every day” and “even with people I’ve told before, and people who were in meetings where I’ve told people”). Which is annoying and infuriating and would absolutely make me think less of all of these people if I observed it regularly. But for OP, who is in this specific situation with these specific people, it might just mean that for her own peace of mind, she will indeed have to resign herself to this.
          Again, it’s unfair and aggravating, but unless she plans on socking everyone who ever does this over the head so that they learn her name out of fear, she can’t really do much more than what she’s apparently already been doing all along.

        3. Smithy*

          As someone who worked for years with my surname going through a pronunciation meat-grinder, I think that part of emotionally detaching from it helps in picking your moments when it matters more vs mattering less. If it’s an introduction to an important group, making sure you flag it in advance for the presenter – or designing a meeting so that you introduce yourself and don’t rely on someone else.

          Essentially, it helps calibrate where the energy goes, as opposed to it being a forever sand in the bathingsuit situation.

      3. Lacey*

        Yeah, I grew up with a slightly odd last name and you just keep correcting people and spelling it out for the them over and over. People can’t remember every unusual last name and there’s always going to be someone new to explain it to even if the other people could remember.

        Plus, when I got married I took my husband’s last name and it’s very common (like Johnson or Smith) and do you know what happens? People still mispronounce and misspell it. Not as often, but far more often than I would have guessed. People simply cannot.

    6. John Smith*

      +1. When I worked in a call centre (shudder) and had to call clients with names I wasn’t sure how to pronounce, I’d make a point of doing a bit of research first and practice saying the name before calling them. It’s amazing how many people responded with thanks (and in some cases amazement) for getting their name right – that was brownie points to the company (and a bollocking for me for missing pointless targets). If you aren’t able to work out pronunciation of a person’s name, a polite and friendly request to that person ought to be second nature.

      1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

        This is wonderful, but it’s all advice for the people who are misprounouncing the name, and unfortunately they haven’t written in.

      2. WS*

        My partner is the one in the phone book, because she has a name that looks complicated (it’s actually phonetically spelled and easy to pronounce if you’ve heard it once) and it helps quickly screen callers when they start with, “Ms…uh, P, uh, uh”.

    7. Spencer Hastings*

      Short answer: because you can’t control other people.

      Slightly off-topic, but some people with foreign names do enjoy going by nicknames (hi!). My only problem was that nobody except my close friends could remember that I went by a nickname. I was constantly reminding people that “yes, my legal name is Fullname, but I go by Nickname”…which often ended up with me explaining my life story and what language my name comes from, and no, Nickname isn’t the “official” short form of my name, but I like going by it anyway. Eventually I got sick of that. So, for work/school, Fullname it is. And (maybe counterintuitively) I get fewer weird questions.

    8. AutolycusinExile*

      The racial microaggressions can definitely add up with this kind of thing, for sure. Unfortunately, what you’re asking of the world – universal accuracy, from the sounds of it? – simply isn’t a realistic universal expectation. We’re talking about names coming from languages across the globe – there are going to be sounds for every person that they literally cannot hear and/or reproduce, because the sounds didn’t exist in the languages they grew up learning. Sometimes you can learn to approximate them but often it will still sound wrong. Mispronunciations are inevitable – this is just a fact of linguistics – and it’s usually very easy to tell the difference between someone making a good-faith attempt to pronounce it versus someone who doesn’t respect you enough to try. If the pronunciation is intentional or a microaggression, that racism will manifest itself in other behaviors too and those people aren’t very likely to respond to any attempts at correction, unfortunately.

      Also, lots of people with ‘foreign’ names in fact prefer to go by ‘local’ nicknames! A lot of the international students I went to school with did so intentionally, especially the ones with names that had tones (Chinese, Thai, etc). They often understand that it is not possible to magically teach every American how to hear and then reproduce a language feature that English really doesn’t have, and some of them used an American name because it was fun, some because it was more efficient, and some because they preferred not to hear their given name be mispronounced. As with any demographic, they weren’t a monolith, and many of them even joined you in not caring. Essentially, I want to push back against all the assumptions of universality that you made here – not all people with foreign names are ‘forced’ into a nickname, since many of my classmates would actually take offense at the implication that it wasn’t in fact their own decision. And even further than that, names really aren’t that important to everyone “whomever they are”! Lots of people have contentious relationships with their name, lots of people go by so many different names that no one nickname holds any particular connection anymore, and some of us just genuinely don’t care what we’re called as long as it was said with respect. A lot of it just comes down to individual context.

      Racist or xenophobic microaggressions are exhausting and bullshit. Unfortunately, the people who are getting it wrong for racist reasons are also the least likely to respond to correction. If it irks you it’s definitely worth calling out errors as they happen, but often the simplest path to happiness is to find a way to let it roll off your back. As many people have pointed out, you can only control yourself and your own reactions, not the actions of others. Personally, I respond by making a sort of bingo game out of it – collecting new mispronunciations and treating myself to something if I get enough of the same one – perhaps gamifying it is a strategy that might work for someone else?

  13. voyager1*

    LW2: Alison is correct to say that these types of events can be important. I get you feel your free time is yours, but being social for a few hours with folks who could move your career along seems like a small price to pay. Granted many folks are just wanting to plan parties and what not because well this has been a long year. However this type of question has come up before, and it always surprises me how many folks just can’t see the benefit in being social with the bosses.

    1. anon translator*

      It also depends on how often it happens. If it’s a big do once a year, like a holiday party, I’d go. But if it’s a weekly after work thing, I’d go maybe once a month or once every two months and make my excuses the rest of the time.

      1. Allonge*

        This! Frankly, once it’s safe to have these events, I would expect a higher-than-usual number too, for a few months, and then things will go back to reasonable levels.

        The advantage of having very frequent events is that nobody should blink if not everyone shows up to all of them. Once or twice a year can be a good time investment, once a week (especially with the exact same group) is waaaay too much for a lot of people.

      2. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

        Yeah. My old department head used to host an annual dinner at her home, which was lovely but also useful for meeting people at different levels and building camradarie.

    2. MK*

      I don’t think it surprising that people don’t want to socialize with coworkers; some don’t see the benefit, some resent the idea that their professional advancement might depend on PR, some may be intensely private and want firm boundaries between work and life.

      What does rub me the wrong way (not only in this matter, generally) is the need to confirm your own personal preferences/cultural expectations/whatever as the “normal” thing to do, and label other people’s choices as “weird”. Some people feel their homes are their private space and don’t want professional acquaintances there and would feel uncomfortable going to coworkers’ homes. Others like an “open” house, enjoy hosting and don’t feel inviting someone to your house is a sign of great intimacy. Neither is weird or wrong, people are allowed different values.

      So, OP, yes, you are wrong to think people who want to invite coworkers to their house are weird. You are not wrong (or weird) to not want to go, and you should feel free to decline. For what it’s worth, hosting a get-together for a medium/large group of coworkers is not an intimate affair and it is hardly likely to lead to blurring of work-life boundaries, since there is no expectation of reciprocation, especially given the context of “we can see the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel”; these are likely one-time events. I could understand the privacy concern better if it was a one-on-one invitation.

      1. Liz*

        This is an excellent point. Some people are happy to be social with colleagues and as long as boundaries are respected and nobody is made to feel like they’re “not a team player” if that’s not their bag, then that’s ok.

        Both places I’ve worked have been quite sociable. In my first job, there wasn’t a Christmas went by without at least one staff member attending a dinner party at the manager’s house, because she felt nobody should be lonely on Christmas and would always extend the invitation to anyone who wanted to come. She also dropped Christmas dinner into the office for those who were working.

        In my current job, we’re also pretty pally. I’ve carpooled with colleagues, been to the homes of 3 of them. One former colleague is now one of my best friends and my former manager is a pretty close one. But we also don’t judge those who are more private, nor does the level of socialising/sharing impact the quality of the dynamic. One of our kindest, most considerate colleagues rarely discloses anything about his personal life and if invited to a social event would either decline or be the first to leave. Meanwhile, our prickliest colleague was also the one who would spill the gorey details of his failing marriage to anyone who would listen.

        There are benefits and pitfalls whether you are a social office or not. Personally, I like to have some level of friendliness with my colleagues as I feel I can be a more authentic version of myself and be honest about my worries and insecurities. Having fun gatherings is a bonus!

      2. Smithy*

        I think this is really helpful because there are other plenty of common practices at workplaces that can be more problematic, and relying on terms like normal/weird don’t help articulate the issues.

        It’s pretty normal in a number of workplaces for gifts to flow up to bosses or CEO’s, but that doesn’t mean the normalcy of the practice has to do with why it’s not a great practice. Looking to more junior staff to house/pet/baby sit is certainly something that can be normal, but again – doesn’t touch on why it may also be problematic.

        1. MK*

          Yes, I think “normal” or “weird” most often stands for common/uncommon, and that’s not helpful. It would be better to examine if something is harmless or not.

          1. Smithy*

            Your use of the world “harmless” also brings to mind that depending on the way people are thinking of these activities – it may be a lot easier to be more COVID accommodating in a private backyard than in a number of situations. Reserving outdoor spaces isn’t as easy as an office’s large conference room, and navigating other public spaces like restaurants may be more complicated.

            If at the boss’ backyard event, some staff just want to show up for 30 minutes, remain masked, and eat/drink nothing – it’s easier for that to be graciously accommodated.

      3. Llama Llama*

        Definitely agree the term “weird” is not helpful.

        I work at a non-profit with 12 employees and outside of an annual staff/board holiday dinner (which the staff are paid to go to) we have had occasional social events. One co-worker who is rather high up at the company has twice had a summer time BBQ for the staff. We mostly stayed outside except for the kitchen (which opened to the patio) and bathroom. It didn’t feel inappropriate or intimate to me and it was just fine for people to not want to/be able to come.

    3. Malarkey01*

      I thought it was interesting that Alison said it was more common at younger organizations since it’s been my experience that it’s mid-career stage and age that tend to do this where I am (usually because they actually own homes that can hold 20-30 people in a non-shoulder-to-shoulder way and because they have the funds to pay for food/drinks). It might be more regional too.

      My division usually has people who host a summer BBQ, Halloween party, and holiday thing. For us it’s because we can’t serve alcohol on work premises and the places for happy hours are more drunken bar scenes or places without the ability to network and mingle. It’s fine if you don’t want to socialize, although it can limit you in some offices, but it’s not anything weird. It’s so common it’s a common trope on TV shows (although usually with disastrous events that aren’t common).

    4. TWW*

      It surprises me that some people seem to think that social gatherings at bosses’/coworkers’ homes are inappropriate.

      I always decline, but I’m not offended by the invitation.

    5. retirement is all it's cracked up to be*

      One aspect I haven’t seen addressed is the situation we lived. Small town, Midwestern US, worked at the biggest employer in town. If you want to socialize with people with things in common, you’re probably going to end up going to parties with your co-workers and even people above you. My experience was it wasn’t a problem, everyone knew to compartmentalize and talk about other things than work. The only issue I ever had was a minor one in that my doctor was in the wider circle of friends and that was a little awkward. But even that wasn’t a problem. I can see it would be and feel different in a large city.

    6. scmill*

      Years ago my ex and I hosted several cookouts (in different summers) for whatever team I was working on at the time. We lived out in the country, had a large pool with a gazebo and had room to set up badminton and volleyball. Team members signed up to bring food, ice, drinks etc, and I provided a veggie tray. Everyone seemed to enjoy it, and at least once, I thought they would never leave!

  14. #4 Tangent*

    I have a tangential question related to letter #4. I’m not the OP.

    What would be your advice when a person’s last name is spelled similarly and pronounced exactly like a known and unfortunately way-too-often used slur for LGBTQ persons that starts with the letter F? It’s obviously their family name and they didn’t pick it for themselves, but it always feels awkward to write or say out loud. I tend to default to using their first name for this reason.

    1. stumped*

      Can you try talking to that person about your hesitation to say it out loud? Maybe they’d understand and be okay with just usually going by their first name and if not you can maybe compartmentalize the name as not a slur but just that, a name. Like when people have food names (lame example I know but I’m stumped), you think of the person and not the food and vice versa???

      1. Reba*

        I think you could talk to them, but not to ask permission not to say their name! You could say sometimes you stumble on their name a bit, but you’re working on it and hope they understand. IMO you have to use their name, compartmentalizing is a good tip!

        1. EvilQueenRegina*

          I know someone who said she was going to use this guy’s full name rather than the short form he introduced himself as – she was using Richard rather than Dick, the last name wasn’t Head but was something sounding close enough to that that she felt like she was calling him a dickhead.

          1. JillianNicola*

            I used to do photography for the United Methodist conference in my state, and the bishop at the time had the last name Dyck. Everyone called her Bishop lol

    2. Rez123*

      I think it is one of those things where you can’t feel uncomfortable. It is their name and you should just treat is as that. If you would refer to James Smith with their full name the you should do the same with this person. If the person themselves is uncomfortable and prefer to go by first name then you should follow that. If we had a good relationship then I would ask them (and others).

      I do understand how you feel. I have a hobby that involved interacting with kids and one of them is called Nigga. I feel very weird writing it and calling it out but it’s their name and therefore I need to treat it like Anna and Tom. I fell like I’m not allowed to be weird about it.

      1. Myrin*

        Yeah, I would say that in general, a person’s right to have their name said, and said correctly, trumps another person’s discomfort with that name, even if that name is a slur or a cuss word. There’s a couple who are semi-regular patrons of the inn I work at whose surname is my language’s slightly-less-offensive-but-not-really equivalent of the n-word. It was very strange to call them by their name at first and I’m sure they were fully aware I would initially hesitate/mutter awkwardly but after forcing myself to sound nonchalant and natural a few times, it’s just become another name now.
        (It helps that I’m a trained medievalist and am fairly sure that I know the name’s etymology but that only came secondary; desensitising yourself is the way to go here!)

      2. Aggretsuko*

        But I’d be deathly afraid of if someone who doesn’t know that kid heard me saying that word. Or any other bad words. Because people WILL lose their minds if they hear it, you know?

        I know, you have to pretend like it’s normal. But I would find that really hard to do. I still remember that guy who got canned or whatever for using a similar sounding n-word when referring to someone being stingy.

    3. AcademiaNut*

      I work in a very international environment where names do, periodically, sound like slurs or rude works in other languages. Really, the best thing to do is treat it like any other name and say it clearly with a straight face.

      If the person you’re talking to is embarrassed by their name, or doesn’t want you to use it, they can correct you, or go by a different name, or legally change it. But unless they do, you treat it as their name and use it with the same respect you would for anyone else.

    4. WS*

      This is the name of a prominent family in a town near mine (with a double G but pronounced the same as the slur). They own chain of hardware stores and one of them was the Mayor. I defaulted to being extra-Aussie and using first names only because I just couldn’t make myself say it. If they were a co-worker or someone I interacted with frequently, I’d just have to get over it.

    5. Sara without an H*

      I think I would ask that person: “How do I say your name correctly?” If they’re comfortable with having you pronounce it exactly like the slur, well then, say it. They’ve probably decided that it doesn’t matter to them. It’s their name, after all.

      If it does matter to them, then they’ve devised an alternative and will tell you about it.

    6. Phony Genius*

      It’s an interesting question because while the person whose name it is will not feel offended, it can be a trigger to other people in the room. We don’t get to decide what triggers them.

      Charlton Heston’s surname is a vulgar term in Greek. So they changed his name to Charlton Easton. I don’t think they asked him. Meanwhile, there used to be a famous triathlete whose last name was Pigg, pronounced like the animal. He never asked for it to be pronounced any other way. (Of course “pig” won’t reasonably offend other people.)

      1. Aggretsuko*

        Right, I was thinking the same thing. Strangers hearing me call someone one of those names is going to make me look like a glassbowl even if that is their legitimate, parentally given, legal name. I’m really freaked out at the idea of that happening, actually, since we live in a culture where saying stuff like that ONCE damms you for life.

    7. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I knew an individual of Asian descent who’s name was pronounced “f^uck”, though not spelled the same. It was weird, but he did go by that name, so I just dealt with it. I’m an adult, I’m a professional, and I did not giggle.

      1. Phony Genius*

        A few years ago, there was a Canadian minor league basketball player, born in Brazil, had a name spelled that way, but was pronounced “foo-key.” The TV station that broadcast their games got a waiver to show his name on screen without getting fined.

        1. Filosofickle*

          Schitt’s Creek was an answer on Jeopardy recently, and they flashed up a written spelling of it onscreen just to make sure the audience could see the contestant hadn’t used a swear word.

          1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            My father designed and trouble-shot wastewater treatment plants for a living. One of the offices did have a guy whose name was very ironic given the type of engineering they did (Schietthead – pronounced phonetically).

            This office also well before his arrival had a policy that everyone goes by their first names. They did eventually have to let that guy go – for very documented inability to meet goals and deadlines. The icing on the cake was his constant refusal to accept the office practice on names – and constantly punching down on the support staff.

      2. JustaTech*

        I feel like there was a conversation about this a few months back, with someone who wanted to not call a coworker by the coworker’s stated name because that name was Dick. (The OP wanted to call this person Richard.) And the general consensus was no, if your coworker is Dick, then you call them by their name. If it’s miserably awkward for you, then go home and talk to the mirror until the sounds mean “my coworker” and not that other thing.

    8. TWW*

      Obviously people have a right to be addressed their name. But I don’t think it would be crazy to change the spelling/pronunciation to make everyday life easier. And in most settings, even at work, you’re not required to use your official “government” name.

      I had a high school teacher who’s real name was Mr. Lipschitz, but was universally known as Mr. Lipschultz.

      1. A*

        Sure, if the individual with the name decided to do so on their own accord – but I don’t think it’s reasonable to request or expect someone to adopt a new pronunciation of their name just to ease some one else’s discomfort.

        I am in a global position and work with multiple time zones – across all the languages there are several examples of situations like this. If we adopted different pronunciations for all names that sound like, or are spelled like, something offensive in another language…. almost all of us would have differently pronounced names.

        1. UKDancer*

          Definitely. I mentioned before that the police commissioner for London is Cressida Dick. I went to a talk she gave and she was introduced as “Commissioner Dick.” It would probably be easier and more comfortable to introduce her if she decided to pronounce the name as “Duck” or “Deck” but it’s her name and she’s a right to use it if she wants and pronounce it how she chooses.

      2. Observer*

        But I don’t think it would be crazy to change the spelling/pronunciation to make everyday life easier. And in most settings, even at work, you’re not required to use your official “government” name.

        No, it’s not “crazy” – it’s rude and obnoxious. You do NOT get to tell someone that your comfort is more important that their name. Because this is not about “making everyday life easier”. It’s about prioritizing YOUR comfort over a person’s identity.

    9. Aggretsuko*

      I felt the same about my old optometrist, who has a last name that sounds like a derogatory word for a female body part. I called her “Shauna.”

  15. Chocolate Teapot*

    2. The only time I went to a co-worker’s house was when my then boss hosted a Christmas party.

    Something like a garden party or barbecue where everyone is outside would probably be safer, but it still seems premature to think about these things.

    1. Liz*

      On the contrary, I think planning events that can occur in the not to distant future is a great way to have something to look forward to! Here in the UK, we have only just entered Phase 2 of lifting our third national lockdown but we’ve been tentatively planning a couple of gatherings now for months, eagerly awaiting the time when we get the go ahead. If we have to push it back then so be it, but anticipating being able to see friends and colleagues again is what keeps me sane!

      1. UKDancer*

        Definitely. I think if we don’t have things to look forward to and plan for, it can feel a lot harder to deal with the dullness of lockdown. I am personally planning a very nice holiday which I may not take until next year. Having the plans in my mind make me feel good though.

    2. A*

      I would be afraid to go to something like this, solely because with my luck I’d need to go inside to use the restroom and then accidentally break something.

  16. Fizzchick*

    For #2, definitely add the usual “except in academia” disclaimer. It’s one of the things that I have actually mostly enjoyed about most of the departments I have been in. I should recognize that I have been fortunate to be in relatively functional and non-creepy departments, though – as always, mixing alcohol and constrained transportation with uneven power dynamics has the potential to go really bad.

    1. Geneticist*

      Definitely a thing in academia especially in the sciences – the leader of the lab often might have people over for a BBQ every summer, that sort of thing.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        It does, however, tend to either be among peers, or a more senior person hosting their group/department. It would be very unusual for a junior person to host a department wide event.

    2. Shad*

      As the granddaughter of a retired professor, can confirm. For him, that’s ranged from opening up the drop in tailgates to students and colleagues to including them in holiday gatherings, and that’s just what I know about.

    3. Doc in a Box*

      Common in academic medicine as well. In the Before Times, our department chair would host a BBQ every summer, plus intermittent dinners for faculty and students in order to encourage more students to enter our field (those have a hidden recruitment agenda but the actual event was just social). Once the department bought out a section at the local minor league home game. We also had a Women in [STEM field] group that met quarterly over dinner; we’ve done some Zooms more recently but it’s not the same!

      I did work at one place where people just didn’t socialize outside work — people worked hard, but there was no sense of community or “we’re all in this together.” When I first got there, I tried to organize dinner or pub trivia night among the other trainees, but it fizzled. Because I was new to the city and didn’t know anyone, it was really isolating; I’m introverted so it took over a year of pushing myself to multiple meetups before I found a group of people outside of work to hang out with.

    4. CTT*

      I think there may also be an “except in law” disclaimer here as well – or at least in my and my peer group’s experience. There was always at least one summer associate event at someone’s house; always catered, sometimes a professional bartender, so there isn’t the feel of it just being “whooooo, party at Brian’s house!”

    5. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Ohhh right, right. I dated an academic for two years, and probably attended more of his work parties, that were always at someone’s house, than the work parties for my own jobs in the last, oh, maybe ten years. My then SO hosted parties at his apartment as well (that I helped host). He was in a LAC college in a small town in red country/farm country, surrounded by 30 miles of corn fields on all sides. The nearest big city (mine) was over an hour away. There was really nothing else for the faculty to do for relaxation, other than throw parties and attend each other’s parties; and no one else to socialize with outside of other faculty. I didn’t enjoy them as much as the other attendees probably did, because I was an outsider and got the according treatment.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        ” than the work parties for my own jobs in the last, oh, maybe ten years”

        On second thought, make it 20. That faculty had 1-2 parties a month. Far more than that during the holiday season. I would’ve had coworker overload from that many work parties, but they seemed to enjoy it.

  17. Sleeping Late Every Day*

    #2, Hmm, I didn’t know socializing with colleagues was just for twenty-somethings or mandated by bosses, per AAM. Where I worked for years, we had small groups of people who would hang out at lunch and breaks, and some of those groups would get together with other groups for after-work or weekend social events – and we ranged in age from late 20s through late 60s. Even those of us who have been gone from there for years (retirement or other jobs) still stay in touch with each other and with those still working there. Several people found best friends (and some found spouses) while working. Pre-Covid, we would get together socially at least a few times a year, and we’re all looking forward to doing it again.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      As I wrote of those groups, “often but not always.” But I’m talking not just of socializing, but of parties at people’s homes. (Which may be what you’re speaking of as well, I’m not sure.)

    2. TechWorker*

      I’m also on the side of ‘it’s not that weird to socialise with colleagues’ (though am aware lots of the readership here is aghast at the prospect :p). I would say there is a subtle difference between ‘groups of people who have lunch together and sometimes hang out outside of hours’ (very very common) and ‘ ‘official’ work socials that happen to take place at someone’s house’. I have had the latter a couple of times and whilst there was a slightly weird vibe (being at the house of someone I didn’t know that well), both events were mostly in the garden and it wasn’t that weird. (Nor were they hosted either by the boss or by a 20-something actually, both were middle aged + non-mgmt people with nice gardens who’d offered).

      1. BethDH*

        I have been to events where everyone was invited and they were hosted at a non-senior person’s house and they were pleasant. It’s only been at that one office, and they were typically potlucks so had less of a “hosted” vibe than you might get with a more formal event.

      2. doreen*

        I’ve been at parties at my coworkers houses – but they were never “work events at a coworker’s house” , where only coworkers were in attendance. They were always ” social events at the home of a coworker” which included other people . For example, there was a retirement party that included the guest of honor’s family and non-work friends or people would invite a small group from work to a Halloween party or a BBQ

    3. Bostonian*

      Yes. IME, it’s more common in retail and sales, whereas the letters here are mostly from office jobs. My husband works in sales, and one of his coworkers hosts pool parties at her house for coworkers every summer. That would make a lot of people here cringe, but enough of them seem to love it to get decent attendance!

    4. Lora*

      +1, it is actually extremely normal most places in the US that I have worked (biotech East Coast, South & Midwest) to have non-formal outside-of-work events for all ages at people’s homes: pool parties, organized golf outings with an after-links party at the director’s home, poker games, Halloween parties, fireworks-watching parties, etc. And it’s definitely politically advisable to make an effort to join in for these, as they are a major source of finding out about jobs, potential new hires, which company is struggling and which is doing well…and if you are a woman or minority, it helps to get familiar with senior management so they know you and you know which companies are safer to work for and which are Bigots, Inc.

      In contrast, my colleagues in Europe seem to just do their job and go home. As a result, they struggle to hire good candidates and their staff struggle dealing with Personality Problems, bigots and bullying at work *everywhere* at least somewhat, whereas when everyone is tightly networked there are good (very minimal Personalities) and bad (stuck hiring Personalities because they can’t do any better / are bad at firing people) places to work – which you find out about via your network.

      1. pretzelgirl*

        I don’t see it as weird either. But it can vary industry by industry. Growing up, I went to company picnics and some work events with my parents. They both worked in insurance. When I was in sales it was the norm too. I worked in high end retail and my coworkers and I would often hang out after work all the time. I have some life long friendships.

        Now I work in the mental health field and aside from the yearly holiday outing, no one ever gets together outside of work. Most people are pretty private and I know very little about my colleagues.

      2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        I’m on my sixth job in the US. My first three jobs were small companies with a lot of turnover, and there, it would’ve been weird. My last three jobs were at large companies where people stayed for many years (my first job has so many people with 25 and 30 years of service, they have special dinners and group events for them) and there it was common, either for a manager to throw a party at their house, or for the team to gather at each other’s homes. Back when I lived in a large house, I threw two holiday parties for the department I worked in. Granted, one of these three jobs trended younger when I worked here and there was a bit of a frat-like culture (one coworker party that I attended had a literal keg and a beer pong game going), but most of the time, these work parties were adult and enjoyable events. One job had everyone on a 24/7 support rotation, and required a lot of work travel to the plants to set up our apps there. When you work together literally around the clock, you tend to bond. That place had the best parties. Many of the managers hosted.

    5. PersephoneUnderground*

      Agreed- I also think having such events at people’s homes where it feels more Covid-safe than a public venue makes a lot of sense for plans meant to happen in the not-distant future. You can know all your houseguests are vaccinated by asking, or at least know your risk is the same at the party as in the offiy, but the same can’t be said of a party at a restaurant or bar.

  18. Not A Manager*

    LW4, I suggest jumping in and saying your full name whenever you can. “We have Harry Potter, Mary Poppins, John Wick, uh, Katniss, uh…” just speak over them and say “Katniss Pygg!”

    It might become a bit of a running joke, but I’ll bet not in a bad way. “Let’s hear from John Darling and Katniss – ” “Katniss Pygg!” “And next we’ll have a report from – ” “Katniss Pygg!”

    Either you’ll retrain your colleagues, or at least you’ll know that your full name got out there.

    1. Fizzchick*

      I like this a lot. It was the tactic a friend took every time there was a substitute teacher in junior high/ high school.
      “Huh… Her…?”
      “Hermione. I go by Hermy.”
      Short-circuited all the Hermioni? Herminony? Harriet? Hermy-own? Etc. discussion.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        I had a seemingly-unpronounceable maiden name, and I did this, except for when my classmates beat me to it. Everyone knew what that pause in the roll call meant.

        1. JustaTech*

          In middle school I had a shy classmate with a long last name from a different cultural background that the teachers had a really hard time with. My shy classmate wouldn’t correct them when they messed up (or just didn’t bother) with her last name, so sometimes other people would just fill in the pause. It was one of those cases where it’s easier to pronounce if you hear it before you read it.

          Now, when the English teacher decided to pronounce this classmate’s first name incorrectly, the whole class got up in arms about it. It’s one thing to have a hard time with someone’s last name (but you should still try). It’s another thing entirely to just ignore a student when they tell you how their name is said.

      2. EvilQueenRegina*

        My cousin’s partner was reading Harry Potter to their kids a few years back and I know my aunt said she was mispronouncing Hermione the entire time, although I can’t remember what she got it to. I think she eventually found out the correct pronunciation when she got to where Viktor Krum was getting it wrong.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          I know the first time I encountered the name (decades before Harry Potter), my young brain decided it was French and I mentally pronounced it er-MWON. I mean, if you transpose the i and the o…

        2. Lizy*

          Oh I definitely mispronounced it until Viktor Krum, and still halfway mispronounced it until I watched the movies. I can’t remember what I thought it was before… Her-mine, I think? Her-me-own? I think it was Her-mine.

    2. LW4 Katniss Pygg*

      lol. I’ll have to train myself first to turn my mute button off when the list starts, but that’s a good idea too… engineers love running jokes!

  19. open sesame*

    LW#1, when you have a meeting can’t you lock your door? Is that not allowed or there’s just no locks? They’ll knock sure but you can just give a quick “I’m busy, come back later” holler or as what Alison has said about a sign outside your door but they can’t barge in and disturb you further.

    Some people have weird nuances with doors and unfortunately it falls on you to set up that boundary. And also if it’s closed most of the time, people will assume it’s always accessible since they have no cue as to when they can come in for a drop by or know that you are really not to be disturbed.

    1. Weird*

      I once had a video meeting with a group of people outside of my organisation. I only had access to a shared workspace room. It was a small room, used for storage. Most days about 2 people would go in it total during the day. I told everyone I would be having the meeting at a particular time and the room would not be available. Four or five days before I put a note on the door saying the room was booked from x to y on z date. At the meeting that morning I again told people I would be in a meeting in the room that afternoon and that I couldn’t be interrupted. Before the meeting started I put a note on the door “No Entry. Meeting in Progress.” Once the meeting was underway two people entered, walking in, started talking to me, wandered around and picked things up. Once that happened the second time, I locked the door. Then people started knocking. And when I didn’t answer, they banged, and called and shook the door. The note was still on the door saying that I was in a meeting. The people on the video conference could hear what was happening, despite the fact I was wearing a head set. I had to excuse myself and clearly tell people that the room was in use, and no, they could not come in. Other people in the meeting were horrified at what was happening! At the end of the meeting, one person asked “Would you be interested in working for an organisation that wants staff to respect each other, and where you’d get your own office?”. I laughed and responded that I’d love that, in a joking way. A few days later, the person who asked the question got in touch with me again, sending a job description and saying that they wanted me for the job, I didn’t have to go through an interview etc. In the end I accepted and moved to a much better job – all because I locked my door on rude colleagues, and then dealt with them appropriately.

    2. Orange You Glad*

      Yea, and if the door doesn’t lock, the LW needs to stop giving these people what they want.

      If they knock, can you ignore it? If they barge in, can you react in a way that indicates the interrupter is doing something wrong? If there is a sign up to do not disturb, say something like “are you unable to read the sign?”. Then don’t let them ask their quick question, tell them to come back when you are available and close the door.

      You can shut down this type of behavior without being rude. Just communicate your availability – and of course, make sure there are times you are available to everyone so these types of quick questions can be addressed.

  20. Raven*

    #4, I’m wondering if we know each other IRL. I went to college with someone who had the last name Biatch, but she said it was pronounced “Bite-shh.”

    1. NeonFireworks*

      I went to school with a guy whose last name was pronounced “cray-po” but spelled without the Y.

    2. No Tribble At All*

      I’ve also seen the Vietnamese name Bich be a source of Pronunciation Anxiety before.

    3. LW4 Katniss Pygg*

      Nope, not me. Sorry. Plus this is my married name. With any luck, your college friend isn’t a Biatch anymore. Growing up had to be rough!

    4. TiffIf*

      My roommate once helped a person over the phone (Customer Service job) with the last name “Dumas” which my roommate pronounced the like you would the name of the well-known French author. The customer corrected her pronunciation to “Dumb-Ass”.

    5. Polyhymnia O'Keefe*

      As a teen, I had a friend whose last name was Hoare, pronounced “whore”. People would fall all over themselves to pronounce it differently. Ho-arr-ay was a common mispronunciation.

      She changed her name when she got married.

  21. Who Plays Backgammon?*

    I think calling some people Firstname Lastname, and others just Firstname, especially in a setting where everyone is being called by name, is incredibly rude and demeaning, like some don’t deserve the courtesy and respect of their full names. Or even worse, “This is Pogo Smith. They’re the supervisor of lama grooming” and “This is JJ the lama clipper,” like your title is your name.

    1. LW4 Katniss Pygg*

      Yes, thank you. This is what has been bothering me about it lately. In the past I generally let it go, but in my new position, I have a pretty important position on the teams, hence why my name is written on the slide in the first place. I’m the person all the engineers are supposed to go through with their questions. But I’m just Katniss.

      1. Boom! Tetris for Jeff!*

        I see why that would bother you!
        If you don’t succeed in getting people to say your last name, you might need to go for a one-name personality. Like Cher or Beyonce or Prince. You can be that good that first name is all you need:)

        Good luck!

      2. Pikachu*

        I’m in Toastmasters (virtual!) and this became an issue in my very non-diverse chapter when a woman with an Indian name joined. For 3-4 meetings, there was a lot of “I’m so sorry, how do you pronounce it again?”

        Finally at some point during a meeting, the leader just flat out said, “Let’s make sure we show NewMember the respect she deserves by learning to pronounce her name correctly.” Everyone was asking politely, but how many times should you really be expected to explain your name to people you meet with on a regular basis? Especially in a group designed to help you improve… your speaking skills?

        I don’t think this type of thing should warrant public shaming, but it honestly solved the problem in my group. I think having a third party advocate calling us out on it helped. Because the leader was right–we were actively disrespecting her.

      3. Hillary*

        I get the same thing sometimes even though my last name is extremely easy for English-speakers – I think it’s because I’m the only Hillary at my large company. Most of the guys have to use last names because their names duplicate so much. I just checked the address book for amusement, I work with about 75 people named Bob/Robert, and surprisingly only 200 Mikes.

        I choose to be amused by it – one name and they know who I am. I’m like Beyoncé or Cher.

  22. I guess feds are social?*

    I don’t know if it’s because most the federal agencies I’ve worked for were usually small <10 to medium <100 staffs in rural areas or what, but I honestly can’t think of a single place I’ve worked in 25+ years where at least a division didn’t get together for bbqs or whatever at least a couple times a year at someone’s house. There were always some people who didn’t participate either because of other life stuff, conflicts, or just not being interested & no one ever thought twice about it. My current group is already making plans for when we’re all vaccinated.

    1. Jaydee*

      I think also the norms in government and non-profit workplaces are different. The employer can’t pay for social gatherings. Not that every private sector employer does or should. But at least it’s a possibility. I’ve worked in a non-profit and a state government agency. Both have (well, had pre-pandemic and I assume will have again) strong potluck culture. Like potlucks are an *event* prepared for and talked about for weeks in advance. People have their special potluck recipes. It’s a whole thing.

      There hasn’t been any outside socializing except the occasional group lunch at my current employer. But prior job did have some work parties at people’s homes. Mainly because lunch potluck in the conference room couldn’t include casual attire, partners and kids, or alcohol but holiday party potluck at Wakeen’s house or summer BBQ potluck in Jane’s backyard could.

  23. Allonge*

    LW2 – the parties at people’s homes thing also has a cultural element – in some countries I lived in it happened much more than in others (and even in extremes from ‘it’s a cop-out to invite people to a restaurant and it makes you a bad housekeeper’ to ‘should only invite people to your house if it’s 110% presentable in very specific ways and such a visit creates obligations and so everyone organises everything at restaurants’). So, it’s not you, there are many ways of thinking about this.

    Right now, people also might think that they can control the party environment much better at their house than at a restaurant, which can be a safety thing. Last but not least – for those of us who spent the last year or so doing home improvements instead of our normal hobbies, we want to show off the new!house (yes, I moved in last summer, no, I did not have the chance to have people over yet. It’s good to think about the time when that will be safe. I try to talk about this with people who are similarly looking forward to getting together again).

    1. UKDancer*

      Yes definitely. I think also, as Alison said, a lot of people are excited about the relaxation of the lockdowns that they’re wanting to do everything now and talking about parties / travel plans / adventures. Having been in lockdown for the past 4 months I can’t stop telling everyone how much I want to go to the hairdresser. I also badly want to hug all my friends and kiss their babies.

      Whether these plans actually materialise into the parties people have in their minds is a different question. I’d not be surprised if half of them come to nothing. Talk is cheap, actually putting the effort into hosting a party is more costly.

  24. PspspspspspsKitty*

    LW 2 reminds me of a time that my department had an off site party because they wanted to drink alcohol. I don’t drink, but I was thinking about going anyways to socialize. Then they told me that I could leave early because they were going to hire a stripper for the last part. Turns out they also wanted to get plastered drunk. I decided to not go. I heard their plans fell through and most of the people left early. I’m pretty sure this was a weird and rare case.

    Anyways, if you don’t want to go, don’t.

  25. Oxolotel*

    It’s always interesting how “someone doesn’t say my name or always gets it wrong” has “let it go” as one of the recommendations, but same doesn’t apply to pronouns.

      1. Oxolotel*

        Removed because you’re arguing something no one has said and which will quickly be derailing. – Alison

        1. LDN Layabout*

          There are a number of posts from Alison that cover using someone’s name vs. a westernised version and at no point has the advice been that the person lets it go.

          Pronunciation is a different beast for a number of reasons and as someone with a four letter first name and five letter last name that are literally never pronounced correctly by anyone outside Eastern Europe, yes, the answer is that you learn to live with it. The same way anyone with a ‘th’ in their names would have to cope with it being pronounced with a ‘t’ in my native country.

    1. AcademiaNut*

      Honestly, I agree with you. It is a matter of basic respect to do your best to remember someone’s name, to call them by the name they’ve chosen to be called by, and to do as well as you can with the pronunciation. It’s harder with names outside of familiar cultures, but making the effort is part of being in an inclusive, international society.

      If someone, individually, doesn’t care that their name is pronounced or spelled wrong, or that people turn it into a nickname, or they chose to go by an English name, that’s fine. But it’s their decision. Telling them they’re not allowed to care is no different than telling someone they shouldn’t care when people get their pronouns wrong – it’s a fundamental part of their identity, and it’s their prerogative to care about it.

      The difference I would draw is between random encounters (like Starbucks) and people in your social/professional circle. Trying to get the people at Starbucks to spell/pronounce your name right (or remember your choice of pronouns) is like trying to push water uphill – a lot of effort that’s not going to produce any useful result. But for people you interact with repeatedly – yes, you can make a fuss if they keep getting it wrong, or refuse to even try.

      (The other caveat, of course, is linguistic problems – it’s sometimes impossible to hear the difference between two pronunciations when you’re not a native speaker of the language, which makes pronouncing the name exactly right impractical. There’s a similar problem with pitched languages).

      1. UKDancer*

        I’ve had the last situation of not hearing the difference between two pronunciations. I used to work with a Spanish gentleman. I would swear I was saying his name correctly. He was firmly of the view I was not. I genuinely could not hear a difference between how he said his name and how I said it. They both sounded the same to me. We never resolved the matter satisfactorily but I really was trying.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          You didnt ask but ill reassure you anyway — its valid. Our brains are primed to learn new sounds/languages as children. If you don’t keep encountering new sounds/languages your brain loses the flexibility. In my case, I do well enough with the French I sometimes heard & sang as a child, but a year of Russian in college taught me that I can’t hear & say the differences among the four ch-variant letters.

        2. Rusty Shackelford*

          I had a teacher in college who had a friend who was Korean, I think. This friend had two children whose names rhymed. But to my teacher’s ears, they were the exact same name.

        3. JustaTech*

          I had a coworker from China where I was sure I was pronouncing her name incorrectly because one of the other Americans in the lad said her name quite differently.
          So I asked my coworker to say her name and the other coworker and I said it back as well as we could. And we had what sounded to me like two totally different names, but our coworker insisted that we were both correct.

          I seriously considered going for a hearing test because I couldn’t understand how we could both be right.

      2. Observer*

        Telling them they’re not allowed to care is no different than telling someone they shouldn’t care when people get their pronouns wrong – it’s a fundamental part of their identity, and it’s their prerogative to care about it.

        This is true. I don’t think Alison has ever told someone that they should not try to get people to try to use their name correctly. Just that sometimes it’s easier for yourself to let it go to some extent. And I have NEVER seen her say to someone who doesn’t want to try to get it right, that it’s ok to not make the effort.

    2. Forrest*

      I think the difference here is that people are just not saying LW’s name, in a way that is annoying but ultimately not having an impact on their ability to get their work done, rather than saying it wrong. For me, actively subjecting someone to misgendering or a mispronunciation of their name or misnaming them is more aggressive than just not saying it.

      Although if LW isn’t a white American and part of the reason people are refusing to say her name is because they perceive it as foreign, I do think that’s a microaggression and more serious. Either way, I think LW could speak to her manager about this and ask if they [her manager] can be a bit more assertive about saying her name, making sure that some key people in the organisation know how to say it and are comfortable saying it, and ensuring it gets said properly where that’s possible.

      1. LW4 Katniss Pygg*

        I am a white American. My last name is German in pronunciation. One time I was introduced to a German lady I had only conversed with via email to that point and she got it correct on the first try. But honestly, I would much rather be called Katniss Pig than just Katniss. It’s literally a relief to me when someone tries and fails rather than not even trying.

    3. Observer*

      It’s always interesting how “someone doesn’t say my name or always gets it wrong” has “let it go” as one of the recommendations, but same doesn’t apply to pronouns.

      What are you getting at? Do you really know anyone who somehow has a problem saying only one of he, she, or they? All three pronouns are equally simple (or not) to pronounce and remember. Names, not necessarily.

  26. me*

    LW2: I haven’t seen socializing at someone’s house in my industry or geographic area, but I did experience it growing up in the southeast part of the US, where social norms and expectations might be different than in other parts of the country.

    The first thing I can think of: My parents both worked for different tech companies when I was growing up. At one point, one parent worked with a number of software engineers, many of whom had kids within about a decade of each other, (example: ages 5-15). I remember a few years where there would be a holiday party at somebody in the department’s house and the workers and their families would all be invited for a party that involved cookie decorating, and the person who didn’t have kids volunteered to dress up as Santa. (Note: this was also in the early 2000s, so there might have been some greater need for human connection post-9/11, especially if people decided not to fly for the holidays those years). My other parent’s department never did this (that I know of – they might have declined invitations in favor of spending less time with colleagues!)

    The other instance I can think of going to a colleague’s house for this type of event was when I was a teenager working in an environment with a lot of other teenagers and young people. One of the bosses had a BBQ at his house and all the teenagers were invited to participate in a summer kick-off event. (I promise this wasn’t at all creepy or a ploy to ply underage kids with alcohol. The host’s wife and kid were there, all the upper-level management were there, and it was a good chance to socialize and have fun before work really started)

    Right now as a working adult, in most situations, I think it’s probably okay to decline a friendly get-together but as Alison said, there might be some benefits to showing up with a bottle of wine or a cheese tray, making the rounds, and bouncing after an hour. I think a lot of people are excited by the idea that an end to the pandemic might be on the horizon and are feeling the desire to reconnect with people they used to see every day. As someone mentioned earlier, I think we’re going to see this more often than usual for a while when it becomes safe to do so to compensate for the isolation of the past year. Having an event at home also makes sense to cut costs when budgets are tight, rather than taking the department out for lunch or catering a meal.

  27. Rain queen*

    LW1 Isn’t it normal to knock on a closed door? I thought that was the socially accepted convention – the door is closed so you knock to seek entrance, with those inside either admitting you or not. How else can they tell if you will let them in?

    If you want people to not disturb you while your door is closed you need a clear do not disturb sign AND an alternative means of contact/access for those who need it.

    Also, you need to stop keeping things like fuel cards and petty cash in your office if you need to regularly not be disturbed. You need to hand these over to someone who is accessible (either permanently or on a case by case basis) so that your colleagues can go about their work. If a junior employer needs a fuel card they need the fuel card – your rank is irrelevant at that point as you are simply the fuel card holder. If you cannot be interrupted at your work, then these roles are incompatible and something needs to be reassigned.

    1. WellRed*

      Yes, is there no office mgr? That would make more sense than the accountant. If the accountant is the de facto office manager I’m not surprised you were asked where the vacuum is.

    2. Ellen Ripley*

      “Also, you need to stop keeping things like fuel cards and petty cash in your office if you need to regularly not be disturbed.”

      Absolutely. Either may not be an emergency, per se, but they can be urgent, if you need to go somewhere ASAP or buy supplies for a meeting in an hour. If you’re regularly in closed-door meetings and other people in your office often have a surprise need for things like the gas card or petty cash, you need to figure out a way to let the gas card/petty cash be accessible when you’re otherwise occupied.

    3. Ann Perkins*

      I think it really depends on your role and whether people should have the expectation of being able to reach you immediately (i.e. if you have items like petty cash in your office, you should be available or make sure there’s an alternate). I’m pretty anti-door knocking since I have a lot of sensitive conversations in my role and have my door open probably 90% of the time when I’m not in one of those conversations. But, I use a do not disturb sign sometimes (former pumping mom so it was unfortunately necessary lest people try to yell over the sound of my pump just to ask a quick, nonurgent question).

    4. Orange You Glad*

      I think it depends on the office culture. In my office, if a door is closed that indicates the person inside cannot be disturbed. We also have a culture of keeping our office doors open when not in a meeting. Also, only the highest level people have offices so interrupting them would absolutely get you chewed out.

    5. Goldenrod*

      “Isn’t it normal to knock on a closed door? I thought that was the socially accepted convention – the door is closed so you knock to seek entrance, with those inside either admitting you or not. How else can they tell if you will let them in?”

      Yeah – I always knock on closed doors, I think it’s normal and fine! BUT if there was a sign up that said “Please do not knock, in a meeting,” I would not. I think the OP needs to communicate more clearly to solve this issue (as Alison said).

  28. MeAnon*

    LW5: Two things that make me stop and think are job and/or gender difference. I have heard from friends who work in law firms, that sometimes paralegals are treated differently (and sometimes definitely worse) than others in the office. I would also question the gender aspect, if you are a man, and are having a great experience with your boss, that’s not to say Susan is because of her gender, because unfortunately, sexism against women in the workplace is still very real. It could also just be that Susan is the outlier and doesn’t get along with Peter, but maybe try and talk to a few other coworkers before you think about whether you should say anything to Peter or not.

    1. Global Cat Herder*

      This. I have a couple of relatives who are lawyers, and there is an enormous difference in the way they talk about white male peers (including students/clerks) and brown female support staff (including paralegals). I’m not in the office with them, just at a family reunion BBQ, and I can tell they actually relish being assholes to the Susans of the world.

      1. shirleywurley*

        I agree with both of you. And in my own experience in the legal sector, these awful men treat the white women and women of colour around them just as badly, or almost as badly. It’s vile.

        There is also, unfortunately, often age-related discrimination in play. These men will treat older women badly. (Susan may fall into this category.)

        Basically, unless you are a young (or young-looking) woman that they find attractive, they will treat you like garbage. But the women they want to date will also be treated badly, both because these men will sleaze onto them, but will also turn very nasty if they are turned down.

  29. Yvette*

    Are your meetings small/informal enough that as soon as the presenter begins to announce “Kat…” you could jump in with an upbeat “Katness Pygg here”?

    1. LW4 Katniss Pygg*

      Unfortunately no… sometimes yes, and in small meetings I do jump in, but usually these are formal project kickoff meetings with several dozen attendees.

      1. Anonymoose*

        Can you introduce your self? For example if the introducer isn’t getting it or hasnt met you before and keeps calling you just Katniss:”and next up we have Katniss here to tell us about llama engineering” then you when step up to speak :” yes, thank you, my name is Katniss Pygg and I’m going to talk about ____ today” depending on the situation you could also include it at the end too on a contact slide or something :”alright, if you need to reach me, it’s Katniss Pygg and here’s my email and phone number”

        you could even play it funny (if that’s your jam): ” alright here’s my email, now remember it’s spelled like __ but sounds like ___, you know like pigs in a blanket which we all want to achieve here at llama grooming” or something catchy for them to remember you and the spelling/pronunciation (i apparently am terrible at coming up with something catchy).

  30. Frankie Derwent*

    Alison is spot-on on OP2’s question. People are excited to meet face to face again. My boss has been saying that we’ll eat together when we’re all vaccinated (which, given my country’s leadersip, will probably be in 2027) but we actually rarely ate out together pre-pandemic. The bbq, if it will transpire, will probably just be a rare goodbye, pandemic party. Feel free to say no if you’re uncomfortable with it, but it’s a nice gesture and if you think you’ll enjoy it, do go.

  31. roundroundsquare*

    Is there something wrong about making friends at work?

    Don’t go if you don’t want to. But it is not weird to make friends at work. It comes across really uptight when people go on and on about their work/personal life boundaries like this. Chill out, some people like the people they work with and wish to enjoy some off time together. Making a mountain out of a molehill, it’s just a BBQ.

    Sure, parties can become problematic if they have too much alcohol or promotions is based on out of hours socialising, but in most work places a BBQ among work friends is just a BBQ and people need to stop being so dramatic about their work/personal life. Just don’t go, no one will care.

    1. pretzelgirl*

      I don’t see it as a big deal either. However I have noticed that most commenters here are not big fans of socializing with co-workers.

      1. roundroundsquare*

        That’s fine! Lots of people are too busy or don’t really like their co workers. Normal. What is abnormal is the carry on some people make about not going to social events, acting like being asked to Friday night drinks was some kind of grave offence.

        It’s totally fine to want to keep a line between personal and professional, especially if your work isn’t the place you really want to be. What I find puzzling is the tone some people adopt and the carry on about stuff like never going to a social event, never mentioning anything about their personal life and so on. Guess what, most people are not important and no one cares about your secretive personal life.

        1. Pretzelgirl*

          I get that. I don’t really understand the consensus that is usually in this comment section, that hanging out with co-workers is awful. But oh well, to each their own I suppose.

        2. Willis*

          Yeah, this. No big deal if you don’t want to go to an occasional BBQ or whatever but, unless you’re being pressured to attend, it also shouldn’t be a problem to be invited. It’s a pretty normal thing.

    2. Person from the Resume*

      I disagree a bit. There’s a difference between a work party and a party with friends some of whom you met at work.

      If you make friends at work, it’s usually not with the whole team. If you make true friends at work you invite them to the gathering at your house along with your non-work friends through text, FB, email, etc.

      If you’re having a work party, everyone at the party is from work (or their +1). If you’re having a work party, you invite your coworkers at work at a meeting or through email (email group).

      It’s definitely a different vibe like you should never play cards against humanity at a work party because this still calls for some level of professionalism, but with friends (even some you know from work) you can choose to play because you’re not a work event.

    3. Malarkey01*

      This is always interesting to me because if I hadn’t made friends with people at work in my mid to late 20s I would have had no friends other than long distance former college friends. I totally understand that some people keep work and personal life very separate, but just my general experience we were friends with college-mates, then friends with coworkers, then we became friends with fellow parents in our kids’ schools, and I have no idea what comes next when the kids are grown and we retire- is it hopefully easier to make friends in your 60s? Haha

    4. Heather*

      Seconded. There are some topics on which this forum has become a bit of an echo chamber and this is one of them.

  32. Knope Knope Knope*

    #4 I have a difficult to pronounce first and last name, though both seem simple enough to me. I’m basically a real life version of Chanandeler Bong. Alison is right, it’s freeing just to let it go. I honestly respond to anything in the neighborhood of my name. Since I stopped correcting people o get a lot more people reaching out proactively and asking me how you pronounce it which is nice.

  33. Seeking Second Childhood*

    LW5, One thing you didn’t ask that might be worth doing is to reply to Susan in the moment. She says “he’ll be angry”, you reply “that hasn’t been my experience with him so far” or “he told me to ask him questions”, or “where do YOU recommend I find that information” …vary by context. Her response may fill in some of the possibilities that commenters have been speculating about.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I should clarify — this wouldn’t be you simply telling her no, or saying she’s wrong. It’s possible to do this as giving context and asking her advice.
      She may turn out to have valid reasons; you’ll learn by asking. And whatever Susan says you can still talk to Peter.
      One caveat, if Susan says this is a very hierarchical company and people usually do not skip levels, the first thing to ask Peter is whether he wants you following that common practice. If yes, who is your manager becomes critical information.

    2. feather*

      I agree. Talk to Susan! Don’t make it a big deal with her — don’t go to her to talk about it — but “in the moment” like Seeking Second Childhood says. Be questioning/curious as to why she’s saying that. It’s hard being an intern and questioning a full-timer — been there, done that — but in this kind of conversation, it’s totally acceptable.

  34. Duke Flapjack*

    I have the same issue #4. My last name is Code. Pronounced exactly like it’s spelled. There is a VERY good chance that anybody with that last name is related to me pretty closely, but I have never encountered another Code in the wild.

    Everybody assumes it’s not pronounced like it’s spelled or spelled differently in some way, so long ago I changed my name to Code C-O-D-E. My wife didn’t believe me when I told her it would be a more difficult name than her maiden name (Spizzirri).

    1. Ro*

      My last name is Tims (pronounced like a plural of the male name “Tim”). Everyone tries to make it more complex than it is.


      And variations thereof mean I have to spell it constantly too.

      My boyfriend’s name is Park. He’s not Korean it is Park as in the green spaces outside, everyone thinks he’s Korean when they have only dealt with him via email but its a pure coincidence. We confuse a lot of people given we both have 4 letter easily pronounceable surnames.

  35. Richard Hershberger*

    LW5: The legal profession often is insanely status conscious. It might be that Susan is a problematic employee, but it might also be that the attorney regards the LW as a future colleague to be mentored, while Susan is hired help wasting his time. This might also explain why she has trouble finishing projects. I had a boss like this once. If I had a question, I had to first apologize for taking up his time asking it. It would have used less of his time if I could skip the apology, but that was how it was. Also, we aren’t told the gender of the LW, but this absolutely could be a factor.

    1. Zoey*

      Yeah, and, bluntly, a lot of law firms make intern gigs fairly cushy, although that obviously varies. My first thought was that your boss is being nice to you because you’re an intern, and Susan is telling you what it’s like to actually work for him. Whatever you do, please be careful not to throw this legal assistant under the bus if you do talk to him.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        Excellent point about throwing Susan under the bus. To take it a step further, if this internship leads to full employment at the firm, and if the LW throws Susan under the bus, the LW will enter into his career with a complement of support staff, every one of whom will know with absolute certainty that he is not to be trusted.

        1. shirleywurley*

          Richard, I absolutely agree, one hundred per cent.

          In many industries, and particularly the legal sector, do NOT ever piss off the support staff, especially admin. Their willingness to help you on those time-critical emergencies that are part and parcel of the work is absolutely essential. Be polite and pleasant and they will work as quickly and as hard as they ca to help. If you are a jerk, however….

  36. Getting a PA*

    LW2 sharing an example where it was not as cringe as you’d think.
    I am an extreme introvert and only have one real friend at work, though I am friendly, so understand the need for personal boundaries and space.
    A week before a scheduled and much anticipated team dinner, the only ethnic restaurant serving my home country food, stopped doing so. I ended up hosting at my place where I cooked a multi-course meal mostly from scratch but enlisted an acquaintance to cook some technical appetisers. It was out of necessity and I don’t ever cook my national food as it is elaborate. But it was a turning point in the team dynamics, and people still mention it as one of the nicest things to happen, it even made its way to one of my 360 assessments.
    On logistics, I still kept the original date so it was a week day, people came after work in business professional attire, I took a couple hours early to cook, and I expensed most of the ingredients.
    I did that one more time few months later, and I do think I would keep doing a dinner once or twice per year.

  37. WellRed*

    I’m just fascinated by the idea that there are job s where roll call is a thing. I always try to pronounce the name. It’s weird people are regularly just skipping it.

    1. No Tribble At All*

      I’ve seen it before when you have to document who attends a meeting for legal / contractual reasons. Definitely more common over the phone when you can’t see who’s there!

    2. Cat Tree*

      Depending on the size of the group, we usually introduce ourselves. It’s usually our name, department, and if warranted a brief sentence explaining our purpose in the meeting. For example, if this is a meeting to figure out why our teapots keep leaking, I would mention that I work on designing the seam where the spout is connected to the pot, or that I investigated a similar issue previously. For certain types of meetings, we might even a short icebreaker question.

      We don’t do this for large groups of more than 10-12 people, or for smaller groups where everyone knows each other’s work very well. But this was something done even in the Before Times as part of an inclusion effort. It helps new or visiting people feel more comfortable with the group. It’s also extremely useful for cross-functional groups with representatives from multiple areas. And it’s even more useful now that every meeting is over Zoom.

      But, I work at a huge complex company. This certainly wouldn’t be done routinely at some other places I have worked where people generally already know everyone they’re working with.

    3. Mockingjay*

      We use roll calls so we know who to send the minutes to. Many of our calls deal with multiple agencies and companies.

      Internal calls: we still go down the team list. It’s like homeroom in high school. *bemused look*

    4. LW4 Katniss Pygg*

      Yeah roll call is actually kind of weird and unnecessary since we can all see who’s on the Skype meeting, but it’s a holdover from the Before Times when you would have a dozen people in the conference room and a handful on the phone from other states. The people on the phone needed to know who was in the room, and the people in the room needed to know who was on the phone.

      Also occasionally we get one or two people calling in on phone only without computer access because they are driving or something.

    5. twocents*

      The same and that they bother to say last names on everyone. Even if you had to say names because there are people in the home versus on in a conference room my experience has been that you would say “we have Wakeen, Giao, Mike A, Mike L…” It’s a bit odd to me to rattle off full names when first name will be sufficient for 90% of the attendees.

      1. JXB500*

        We find “roll call” introductions more efficient in many meetings (as in the host calls on people in order to introduce themselves) because it eliminates people guessing when their turn is and talking over one another. Too often that’s chaos.

        1. JXB500*

          And – like the others – we have a lot of situations where who attends is part of the meeting minutes (sometimes very formal requirements). Depending on the meeting tool (could even just be phone), there may not be a report of attendees. Or the person taking the minutes is not the organizer. Easier to call roll, one way or another.

  38. That_guy*

    Re: LW4
    I’m looking through the comments waiting for Hyacinth Bucket (Bouquet) to show up.

    1. Richard Hershberger*

      Ima Hogg is a classic example, and a real person. She was the daughter of the Governor of Texas, and very attractive in her youth, transitioning gracefully to “handsome” in her later years. But best know today for her name, of course.
      Also, many German-Americans named Fuchs threw in the towel and Anglicized the name to Fox.

  39. Foof*

    LW1 – consider having “open door” hours as well (ideally the same time every day) so if people know they need a gas card etc they know what time to swing by

  40. TimeTravlR*

    #5! That brought back a blast from the past. When I was new in an office one of my co-workers said something similar about our boss. Turned out it couldn’t have been further from the truth, which I fortunately figured out on my own. People can be oddly possessive of the bosses sometimes, and want to control information to them.

  41. Buni*

    #4 One of my best friend’s surname is…Kunt. It’s pronounced like you’re trying to say “couldn’t” but without the ‘d’, but I am absolutely sending her a link to this page as she’d find all this highly amusing / relatable…

  42. laundry tuesday*

    #1: We had a serious problem with the maintenance staff coming in to the closed door meetings and starting to vacuum the room during the meeting. We couldn’t get them to stop. Eventually we started locking the door. That worked. Do your doors lock?

    1. CmdrShepard4ever*

      Maintenance staff went into a room that people were already in and started vacuuming? That just boggles my mind. Maybe they had a supervisor that told them they had to get the cleaning done no matter what.

      I have experienced the opposite. Maintenance staff have been apprehensive about cleaning on the occasions that I stay and work late in the office. At first they would all say they would come back, it took a while before I was able to convince them that they could just clean the rest of the office and didn’t need to wait.

  43. Doc in a Box*

    #4: As a person of color whose first name is routinely mispronounced despite repeated corrections, and who now intentionally mispronounces her last name for the benefit of stiff Anglo-American tongues, I am always reminded of Uzo Aduba (from Orange is the New Black) recounting how her mother told her “If they can learn to say Tchaikovsky and Michelangelo and Dostoyevsky, they can learn to say Uzoamaka.”

    (her delivery is, of course, fantastic — google or youtube will get you clips)

  44. SaffyTaffy*

    #4 my friend educated people on the pronunciation of her hilarious last name by just saying it in the correct pronunciation. “So I said to myself, Suzie Assenheimer, get out of bed right now!” and “This weekend at the Assenheimer house was pretty chill.”

    1. LW4 Katniss Pygg*

      Hahaha, I love this! It’s almost passive aggressive, but really it gets your name out there without anyone feeling awkward about it. “Hi, Katniss, how was your weekend?” “Oh, this weekend at the Pygg house was phenomenal!”

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

        I’m not sure that it is passive-aggressive actually – if the issue is (as it sounds like) that they find Pygg difficult to pronounce or don’t know how it should be – dropping it into a story yourself can be a face-saving way of tipping them off!

        Same as if you’re chatting to someone and it seems that they have totally forgotten your (first) name or didn’t get it and now it’s too late to ask… it’s quite handy to say e.g “Oh yeah, I get the dreaded ‘Hi Jane’ and then 5 minutes of ‘so and so is typing’!” or “every day my cats poke me like Jane! Where’s our breakfast!” or whatever.

    2. BadWolf*

      I think this is handy, I know I’ve sometimes been desperate for people to say their name so I can check if I’m saying it right. I am trying to be braver and ask people more directly — especially if I think I’ve been saying their short/long name and maybe that’s not the version they prefer (Dave vs David) as our system defaults to long names and it’s sometimes unclear if someone would rather their short name.

  45. D.C. Paralegal*

    I’m of two minds on LW5.

    First, yes, Susan seems like a problem who’s almost certainly exaggerating the level of irritation that Peter has about being asked questions. Lots of law firms have a Susan.

    That said, Susan might not be *entirely* off base. Something like being unable to access a client file likely isn’t the sort of thing that Peter wants to be bothered with, even if he’s polite about it. If this is a firm with several legal assistants and paralegals and presumably an IT department, those are resources I’d use before going to an attorney, even one who invites questions. (To clarify, there’s a difference between alerting Peter that you can’t access the file or whatever and therefore the assignment might take longer than expected, and going to him for advice on how to access the file.) It’s great that Peter is responsive, but I wouldn’t necessarily take that to mean that you have a green light. I’ll let you decide if Peter occasionally telling you to find the answer yourself is good mentorship or a gentle hint.

    If you’re working on a project for Susan, she should be your first point of contact when you run into something, not Peter. Even if she’s not technically the supervisor for your internship, I’m guessing a lot of the stuff you’re going to Peter with is more her domain than his. If she can’t or won’t help, and also doesn’t want you going to Peter, then put the onus on her as to what the next step is. In the very least, when you do ask Peter for help, try to be able to present it like, “I couldn’t access the client file and Susan had no luck, either. We’re out of ideas. What should we do?”

    As for asking Peter directly about Susan, I would just let it go, honestly. You don’t know enough of whatever backstory exists there to get involved. It doesn’t seem like she’s being abusive or undermining your work, and as an intern, the quality of her job performance absolutely isn’t your concern. Sometimes people at law firms just don’t like each other. Sometimes for petty reasons, sometimes for good ones. If you want general clarification with Peter, you can just say “Hey, I sometimes feel like I’m bugging you with stuff that could be resolved without dragging you into it. If I have a question and Susan can’t help, is there a next step I should try first?”

    1. shirleywurley*

      Excellent comment. You’ve articulated exactly what I was thinking, and done so perfectly.

      Having been in the legal sector for a long time, I’m of two minds as well. The resident “Susan” in every law firm certainly comes in many different varieties and while some of them certainly enjoy the power trip, many of them are trying to save themselves – and everyone else in the office – the brain damage of one of the lawyers being interrupted with something the lawyer will perceive as unimportant, or as something that is less important than what they are currently working on.

      Early in my own legal career, I was the paralegal (and PA) for a very friendly, very gifted and very busy lawyer. He was consistently being interrupted, sometimes due to something genuinely important, but mostly, it was stuff that should have been put into an email to him and/or I, or stuff that should have been directed to someone else entirely first. Neither he nor I liked it, but due to this, I had to become a very polite, but very firm, gatekeeper. (And, I have to say, the interns were some of the worst offenders.)

      A good example of this is the LW’s insistence to Susan that LW should direct inquiries (about the project LW and Susan are working on together) to Peter, when Susan herself is likely the best first port of call. LW, ask Susan first. If she doesn’t know the answer, she will direct you to the next step.

      1. D.C. Paralegal*

        Yeah, I wondered if some details might be missing from that part of the letter. If I’d assigned an intern a project and they ran into a roadblock and their first response was to go to the attorney instead of working with me on it, I’d be some combination of amused and annoyed.

        I don’t expect interns to intuitively grasp this, as their interactions with authority figures to that point have largely been with people who *want* them to come to them with questions (parents, teachers, etc), but a big part of being a legal admin—any admin, really, but especially in fields where time is being billed—is not bothering your boss until you’ve exhausted the alternatives.

        1. Tired Associate*

          I agree with all of this. IT, assistants, paralegals are all experts at certain administrative and research tasks – and a lot of times the lawyers have no idea how to answer those kinds of questions even if they wanted to. They will not be impressed if you come ask them about how to open a file, I promise.

          My two cents on asking questions of senior lawyers: this is a resource to use sparingly. Ask specific questions and think through the answers yourself first. You’re learning and people will be happy to help you but they also want to see that you can think for yourself and that you value their time. The ‘find the answer yourself’ advice is definitely a gentle hint. If it needs to be given multiple times it might not be so gentle going forward …

    2. miss chevious*

      Agreed on the letting go of the Susan part of the question. Law firms are insular places, and the legal profession is a small world, and you don’t want to cause problems (either for yourself or for Susan) by stirring things up that don’t need stirred. Get your general clarification and ask for feedback on your own performance from Peter, and consider Susan’s advice to you as well-meaning if inaccurate (in your case).

  46. shirleywurley*

    Re OP#5, I’m in the legal sector myself and I would seriously stay the hell out of whatever is going on between Peter and Susan. Especially if they have a long history together, either as colleagues or as friends outside work.

    Definitely trust your own judgement regarding your dealings with Peter. Susan could be weirdly “possessive” of Peter as the boss, because she wants to look like a good worker or whatever in front of him.

    But is Susan Peter’s PA? She could just be gatekeeping his time and schedule for him, and she may be getting mixed messages from Peter regarding who is “allowed” to “bother” him. She may be taking this far too seriously. (He may have meant it somewhat as a joke, or only in reference to certain roles or certain types of questions, or even just being asked questions at certain times.)

    However, depending on how long Peter and Susan have known each other and worked together, Susan may also know a lot more about Peter than you do. He may have a mean streak that she is wanting to “protect” people from. Peter may also be openly polite and patient to you when you ask him your perfectly reasonable questions, but he may also complain to Susan about interruptions, which may in turn stress her out. She may also be acting upon old information: perhaps Peter used to get very annoyed by questions, but has calmed down now. She may also have her own case of workplace PTSD, and she is reacting to previous, bad managers.

    All of that said, she may also just be a workplace pain, or a busybody, or an overprotective gatekeeper. Again, just trust your own judgment.

  47. drpuma*

    For OP4 I wonder if you could recruit a colleague or two to help you out. If any of these meetings are recurring, could you approach the lead directly and ask them to make a point to say your last name, and it’s pronounced Pie-g ? Or maybe you’re friendly with a coworker who would be willing to refer to you in conversations with others by both your first and last name for a while.

  48. Mandi*

    OP1 – when my door is closed, it’s locked, for this very reason. People are shockingly rude. I was in my office with HR and another manager discussing a serious issue with one of my employees, with the door closed. The same employee knocked, and I quietly asked the other manager not to open the door. He didn’t, so she barged right in! The HR Manager was shocked, but they do it all. the. time. So I have resorted to locking my door; this way, I can decide whether or not I’m OK with an interruption when someone knocks (which is about 25 times a day).

  49. MCMonkeybean*

    For number 2, I think like regular house parties with coworkers would be odd but as a rare thing I think it’s often fine. My old boss used to have a Christmas party every year and I think they were good. He was my manager but not like super high up the chain, he just had a super nice house that was very well structured for parties and I guess maybe he and/or his wife just like hosting. Definitely different atmosphere than a party with my friends, the socialization between people was similar to at office parties it just happened to be set at a house

    I do think the novelty of this particular situation means that a one-off “yay we can see each other in person” party seems also totally fine to me, assuming no one behaves in a way that would make it weird (which maybe is too much to assume). I do agree with you that if a bunch of different people are saying they are going to have everyone over that would probably be too much, but I also agree with Alison that it is likely most or all of them are just sort of daydreaming and won’t actually follow through with it.

    If somehow they all do, if you like your coworkers then I would consider going to just one of them. You might be surprised to find that you are more excited than you expect about seeing some of them in person too! But it definitely isn’t something you should feel obligated to go to.

  50. RussianInTexas*

    Story about the last name.
    Partner’s step-siblings and his step-father have VERY Polish name. Like, very very. Many consonants in a row So, we are in Mexico, going on a tour of Tulum. The resort provided a van with a driver. The driver is obviously Mexican, Mayan even. Almost no English, limited Spanish. He is doing the roll call: Stephens, 2, Smith, 3, St…St…St..PHIL

    1. Threeve*

      A friend of mine with a common first name and a long polish last name had a story about getting in trouble at school: “Matt Sh…Matt Shz…Matt you know which one you are. Come to the principal’s office.”

  51. staceyizme*

    LW1- the problem with these interruptions is that you’ve rewarded them. If they’ve heard any other answer than “sorry, I’m in a meeting, the door will be open when I’m done…”, then they’ve gotten what they were looking for in the moment. Sure, a sign might help, but so would retraining them. Finally, you can automate some of this stuff by having “office hours” for petty cash or gas card requests. People usually know they’re headed out in the company car or organizing snacks for a meeting in advance of the need. They can let give you the grace of coming by at a mutually convenient time. (At least in many corporate cultures.)

  52. MCMonkeybean*

    For #1 I just don’t agree that knocking on a closed door is inherently a breach of etiquette. I thought the letter was going to be about people just walking into your office ignoring the closed door entirely. Knocking is what you are supposed to do on a closed door. So if you want the closed door to mean “do not disturb at all” then yes I think you should spell that out with a sign.

    To me it seems like the bigger problem is not that people are knocking on your door when it is closed, but that they are coming to you at all for things that you don’t think you should be the one dealing with. I’m not sure how to address that but I think that is maybe what is really frustrating you.

  53. shuu_iam*

    LW2, something that might help the party invites feel more normal is to consider that your coworkers may be delineating private vs. public space differently than you are. In normal times, I tend to do a lot of hosting – so there are portions of the house that basically just live in a one-hour-from-hostably-clean state, and where I’m not going to have anything on display that I wouldn’t be alright with treating as conversation fodder. So for me, inviting random people into that part of the house isn’t something that feels particularly intimate. Then again, there are other parts of the house where guests are definitively Not Welcome and I would be very annoyed to find them.

    If you think of your whole house as an intimate space for close friends, the idea of inviting coworkers over does feel extremely weird and overly personal. But if you think of it as more equivalent to, say, having a favorite coffee shop where you hang out with people by default, except the coffeeshop happens to be inside your house and you have to clean it, hosting becomes much less emotionally significant.

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

    OP1 (interruptions).

    Today, I was interrupted (closed office door) by a staff member from another department asking if I knew where there was a vacuum cleaner they could use!

    I’ve seen this dynamic before where someone (almost always a woman, go figure) gets treated as if they’re the admin/secretary/receptionist and asked about things like vacuum cleaners, is so-and-so in the office today, which company do we normally use for taxis etc etc even though their actual role is totally unrelated to office-admin type things! Could be because of where they physically sit (I was once the de facto ‘printer person’ despite being nothing to do with IT or printers just because I was sat closest), because of gender dynamics, etc.

    I did wonder if there’s a bit of that going on in this situation. Do other people get their meetings interrupted and “do not disturb” signs disregarded etc? I thought it could be that people see OPs tasks as “not very important / can be interrupted”.

    1. Salt & Vinegar Chips*

      I think its more the duties the OP has the other staff may not know the OP is not the Office Manager or the Admin. In my career most people who hold the petty cash box are the office managers or Admins, its a checks and balances thing that the person handing out the money is not also the person balancing the books.

      1. Kevin Sours*

        Maybe. But women being assumed to be secretaries/office managers/general gofers when they hold professional credentials is sufficiently common as to be the proper default assumption.

  55. Wool Princess*

    LW2 – Depending on where you are geographically, I wouldn’t worry too much about the future BBQs. I think as Alison said, people are dreaming of post-pandemic socialization. Realistically, folks will likely want to prioritize seeing family and friends and there are only so many spring/summer weekends. Also, regular socialization will tire us out, even extraverts I’m guessing, after a year+ of relative solitude. So folks who are keen to say “I’m going to have so many parties!” may lose steam faster than they anticipate.

    And if it does happen, Alison’s advice is good as always. It’s totally understandable that you’d have other plans, and if you really feel pressure to attend, you can just stay for an hour and cheerfully be on your way.

    1. Aggretsuko*

      A lot of people say they want to throw parties and then never actually DO it. Don’t worry until you receive the invite.

  56. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

    LW5, let’s start with these two lines: “Several times when working on a project for Susan, I have not known how to do something or been unable to access part of the client file, and remarked that I should ask Peter about it.” and “If it matters, there are other indications I’ve seen that things are not totally well with Susan and the rest of the team. For example, I received an email the other day saying, “Hey, Susan was assigned these reports and never completed them. We don’t know what’s up with that. They’re due today, can you get on that for us?”)
    Reading the lines in my interpretation, you are working on a project for Susan and there are missing elements that Susan should be managing. Susan seems to have a poor track record of being able to manage her work based on the second sentence, thus it could be that she does not want you to go highlight to Peter that you found issues with her work that she should be taking care of. Also, perhaps since LW is an intern and Susan is a full time employee who should be doing these tasks, he may get annoyed with Susan when she asks about how to do her day to day job since he should be able to rely on her to complete tasks without hand holding.

    The other explanation I can think of comes off of this statement; “Sometimes he will tell me to look for an answer myself, but even then it feels as if he is teaching me something, not that he’s annoyed or angered.” Peter may be answering respectfully because he does not want LW to feel like they shouldn’t be answering questions, but could also be expecting that the legal assistants should be helping LW. So the legal assistants may be getting feedback like ‘hey, LW keeps asking how to do ‘super basic task’ why are you not helping her or answering her questions?’ But in that instance Susan should be more along the lines of ‘oh, Peter prefers that you ask us for assistance first, here’s the answer/Mary can assist you.’

  57. awesome3*

    LW1, I generally keep my door open, but because of COVID, I’ve been keeping it closed. So now especially is a good time to be clear with your colleagues and staff. They might just not be getting it, not willfully trying to disrupt you.

  58. LW # 3*

    Hi, I wrote the third letter. The recruiter contacted him yesterday to say that he’s being moved forward…to an interview with the CEO. So much for final interview.

  59. OP 5*

    Hi, OP5 here! I’ll try and respond directly to people in a bit but thanks so much to everyone who’s given me their time and thoughts so far, I appreciate it. A few points of clarity that have come up a few times:

    1. I am specifically a paralegal intern. I am not in law school, I am in community college in a program Peter also attended at one point. He worked as a paralegal before becoming an attorney and has a high opinion of support staff employees in the field, at least insofar as he’s expressed when speaking to my class and to me. (It could be different behind closed doors I’m sure and I’m well aware even people who’ve worked further down the ladder can get weird and hierarchical later, but for what it’s worth, the other support staff at the firm don’t send to have an issue with him. Then woman who did my orientation was a paralegal who told me he was great to work with and I was going to have a good time, for an example.)

    2. I am a woman. Gender dynamics absolutely matter, but don’t come into play here I think, given that.

    3. The projects I am assisting Susan with are, in her words not anyone else’s, to help her get things off her plate. This could definitely be a misread on my part, but my instinct to ask Peter about something rather than her is that it’s explicitly his responsibility to handle me not knowing things, and if she’s already behind and stressed about it, I haven’t wanted to take up more of her time. She’s also been unresponsive and hard to get ahold of when I do have questions for her. The questions are also not directly related to her projects, but to my role as a whole. (i.e. I’m their first remote intern during the pandemic. I can’t access client files because they’re stored on-site, and don’t know how I should proceed with that, rather than not knowing how to access a specific file, which I did ask her first before it became clear it was a wider issue for me.) Other than that, the point about asking her first is a really good one several folks have brought up, and I hadn’t thought past my own reluctance to do so as hard as I should have (don’t want to bother her whereas he directly signed up to be bothered by me about such things, find her hard to communicate with in a way others from the firm aren’t, etc).

    Some misc. details: Don’t know if it matters but the email mentioning someone wanted me to finish something Susan dropped the ball on was not from or at all related to Peter. It was from a third person. Since I am remote, it’s much harder to casually mention things to others at the office, because I would have to directly reach out to them out of the blue rather than being able to bump into them at the water cooler or whatever, which makes me reluctant to stir things up by bringing anyone else into it.

    1. Arctic*

      Do not say anything to Peter about what she’s said. I’m a lawyer I’ve worked in big firms and government offices. You don’t know the dynamic. You are an intern. Do not get involved with this. Peter may be your boss, Susan may be in hot water at work, but she could have a lot of soft power you aren’t aware of it. And it can really hurt you.
      And lots of people put on a kind face to interns they don’t with staff. I would not dismiss what she’s saying entirely.

    2. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

      Yeah, this looks to me that she is having difficulty doing her job and you asking Peter questions is further highlighting her inability to do so. Thus, she doesn’t want you asking Peter for things that she should be able to answer. Even if ‘how do I get access to the files’ doesn’t sound like its under her purview, she is giving you tasking thus she should have some sort of plan on how you can get access. I mean, how is she getting access to the files? I would just keep trying to engage her with your questions, going to Peter when you have roadblocks, and wouldn’t bring up the ‘she said you would get annoyed’ because there is no value at the moment for having that discussion. You are already asking Peter for what you need, he can extrapolate that you’re asking because Susan isn’t telling you. Maybe it would be a benefit when you are done with your internship and are asked about what could make things better for the next intern, but just pointing out that Susan doesn’t want you asking him what you are already asking him to me reads more into starting drama rather than resolving an issue.

    3. shirleywurley*

      Thanks for the extra information, OP5!

      As a former paralegal and now lawyer (who was also an intern in various law firms), I mean this in the best, most gentle possible way: as an intern, do NOT get involved in the office politics. EVER. Especially being remote.

      I absolutely love remote work, but not seeing the specific interpersonal interactions between some people in the workplace can make these sort of issues difficult to judge. Susan may or may not actually be a terrible employee. She may also be great, but currently over-worked, stressed, unwell, or dealing with a serious issue outside of work.

      Office gossip is like a lot of gossip: sometimes true, often completely false or exaggerated, and often stemming from an agenda of some sort. (Some people like to cause trouble, some people want to bring others down over a slight of some sort, including one that exists only in their own heads.) You are an intern. You are remote.

      Unless Susan becomes a serious problem wherein you are being abused or similar and it needs to be reported to someone like Peter, IGNORE IT. (Seriously, one of the best parts of remote work is being able to avoid office gossip and politics.) Do NOT get involved.

      Also regarding Susan, if she is hard to get hold of, either wait, or ask someone else. (Susan is obviously also quite busy.) If you can’t access files, perhaps ask the office manager, admin, or IT? Id there an intern manager you can ask questions? Including asking them which people are the best to go to for certain types of questions? You could perhaps also ask them if you’d be able to work with a few of Susan’s peers, too, framing it as a “rotation” style internship, where you get to work with a number of different practice areas at the firm, etc?

      I’m uncertain if you are being paid for your work. (I hope you are!) But, if you are an unpaid intern at a for-profit firm, it unfortunately bumps you further down the totem pole. Unless you are working on a critical part of a project, the people who are being paid to be there will not have a lot of time available to get back to you. If you are being paid, you are still toward the bottom of the totem pole. It sucks, I know, but it’s the truth.

      You’ve also mentioned that you are the firm’s first remote intern during a pandemic: this is a first for everyone.

      Regarding Peter, he sounds like a great person who is giving back the community. Awesome! That doesn’t mean that he isn’t very busy, and it doesn’t sound like you are actually working with him directly: there appears to be a couple of layers of support staff between him and you. As an intern, use the resource that is Peter carefully and sparingly. If you have a regular or semi-regular meeting with him, save your questions for that meeting unless there is something definitely in his purview and is absolutely critically important in terms of being time-sensitive.

      1. OP 5*

        Thanks so much for your insight, and I’m definitely stowing this for future reference, as I plan to go to law school someday and am sure this won’t be my last internship at a firm! Trust me, I don’t in any way want to be involved in office politics, I want to stay faaaaaar away from it whenever humanly possible – I cringed *hard* when I got that email from the other attorney that said something about it being Susan’s project that she hadn’t finished because it was like ‘must we involve me in this at all’. The only, and I mean *only* reason I am even thinking about bringing it up is because I’m concerned that, given he’s had several interns from my program in the past and will be taking several more in the future, it could scare people off of asking important questions and damage their ability to function in the internship.

        Important context though I think: I actually do almost exclusively work directly with Peter! He assigns me out to whoever needs help with stuff so I have worked with several others in the office, but most of my day to day communication and assignments are directly with him. Our firm is also extremely small – there’s less than ten staff members total, about half and half attorneys and support staff. We don’t have IT, we don’t have an office manager, we don’t have an intern coordinator, it’s a *very* small office where everybody kinda shares everything, responsibility wise. The closest we have to an office manager is the senior paralegal who did my orientation, I suppose, and she’s the busiest person there by a long shot.

  60. Erin*

    Lol @ Katniss Pie-g! I feel you! I have a long and complicated last name that everyone I’ve ever interacted with has a hard time even taking a stab at. In meetings, roll call, etc., I’ve always just been Erin. But I do love when people attempt to say my last name. It always makes me giggle.

    I prefer to think I’m like Cher or Beyoncé. One name is all I need, LOL.

  61. Sangamo Girl*

    LW2: Also add the government workers exception. They can’t even buy us a bottle of water. And some supervisors only allow staff to join in on breaks and lunch. So essentially–nothing fun on the taxpayers dime. If you want to have an enjoyable event, it is VERY common to do it after hours at someone’s home.

  62. Emily*

    #1 – Definitely put up a sign that spells things out more explicitly, like Alison suggests! Maybe this is just the places I’ve worked, but I don’t see knocking on a closed door as an inherent breach of etiquette – that’s just how I find out if someone is around/available. Obviously I wouldn’t open the door or enter the office without invitation, knock more than a few times without response, or refuse to go away if someone came to the door and told me that they were busy, but just knocking once or twice seems fine in a lot of contexts.

  63. meyer lemon*

    For LW5, the most generous interpretation I can think of is that Susan is trying to coach you on being conscious of Peter’s schedule demands and making sure you know how to find information on your own without always having to ask him.

    This may not actually be the case, but it might be helpful to approach Peter with that assumption–that Susan is discouraging you from asking him directly in favour of searching out information elsewhere. You could ask him if he would prefer you ask him fewer questions (or ask them in a different way–for example by saving them up for regular meetings rather than as they occur).

    It might be useful information to have, and could also alert him to what Susan’s doing without badmouthing her.

  64. Nope*

    LW1 – if you are in your office alone, lock your office door… the face planting when people try to come in will be terrific entertainment. Hopefully they will learn their lesson. :) Good luck!

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I’d be willing to bet they will try harder to open it when it does not open on first try. Then *a lot* harder when it doesn’t budge on second try, either.

      I had a coworker scare the living ##$%^% out of me once when I was about to leave work for an afternoon off (actually had a 3-4 hour drive ahead of me and wanted to make it to my destination by late afternoon – early evening), but decided to make one last phone call before I left. I was alone in my two-person office, on the phone, with my back to the closed door, ready to run out the door the minute the call ended, when I heard the unholy banging and yelling “Here’s (my name)!!” swear to god the coworker sounded like “Here’s Johnny!” in The Shining. I yelled back that I was on PTO and about to leave and she went away; only to stop me on my way out of the office five minutes later to ask if I was okay. “You sounded nervous.” You don’t say? I asked her what the racket had been about – she said she’d been trying to help someone who had a database question. There were roughly 50 people in the office that day available to help with database questions. Did I mention how much I love it that we don’t have to all be in the office every day anymore?

  65. Pikachu*

    All I think when I read #4 is “Michael… Bolton? Is that your real name?”

    But I feel for you. Nobody can pronounce my one-syllable last name either.

    1. Kevin Sours*

      Believe it or not, I have gotten into the habit of clearly pronouncing and spelling my surname on the phone because of difficulties in the past. It’s always been something of a mystery.

      1. The Wandering Scout*

        Since I was about six or seven if I have had to say my name out loud I say ” My name is Wandering Scout S-C-O-U-T” which is how my mother introduces herself as well. It’s only 5 letters (and obvs not actually Scout) but whooo-boy do people find it hard.

  66. TootsNYC*

    #1: Coworkers interrupt closed-door meetings

    First, to manage the irritation, and to also provide a “negative punishment” (opposite of positive reinforcement) that might reinforce the idea that they shouldn’t knock or open the door.

    Create a phrase, and memorize it. “The door was closed–I’m not available. Come back when the door is open.” And then you repeat it over and over when they open the door. (use a short version when they knock) Even when they say “I just wondered if you knew where a vacuum is,” you say “The door was closed, I’m not available. Come back when the door is open.” You can shorten it, but don’t come up with different ways to say it.
    The idea is to repeat it word for word, as a way to signal, “You will never get another answer from me, and I’m not having a conversation with you.”
    Don’t allow them to change the subject to whether you’re rude, or whether they meant well, or whether other people don’t mind, or whether it’s just a short question. it doesn’t matter that this exchange might actually be LONGER than answering their quick question. You have a different goal here–you are thinking long-term change to minimize all interruptions, not short-term fix to minimize this particular interruption. You want to send them away unsatisfied, and with a negative experience.

    Then follow up with each person individually at some later date. “Sorry to be curt–I can’t have interruptions when my door is closed, not even a knock. I handle a lot of sensitive stuff, and it also messes up my concentration.” Not right away–because then they’ll just ask their question, and their interruption will have gotten them what they want. Leave it to them to come back and ask you.

    There are other things you can do–you can leave a white-erase board by your door for people to write their name and a brief word about the topic they stopped by for; maybe that would make it easier.
    You can make a point of promptly responding to that, or to any email/Slack about needing you, and literally saying, “Thank you for respecting my closed door. Here I am, right away, without delay, to help you now that I am free.”

    Gentle, friendly but RIGID boundaries.

  67. Michelle*

    LW1: I am very pro the idea of a sign or something else besides a closed door to indicate a need not to be interrupted. Theoretically, that should be intuitive, but I’ve worked in many an office where people (including myself) close doors for other reasons that not wanting to be disturbed. Even now, I will close my door to control the temperature or avoid noise or as a COVID precaution, and I am totally open to people knocking on my door and interrupting me. It may be that those other people are from an office culture where closed doors don’t mean the same thing as they do to the letter writer.

  68. JXB500*

    I realize those of you with less mainstream names have it harder, but simple names don’t get a pass. My maiden name was very common, 4 letters, could also be a word with a couple of spellings. (Think Pole, Poll.) I had to spell it every single time. No pronunciation issues but amazing the number of people who would 1) belt out a line of a song to me or 2) spout a catchphrase from a popular TV ad, both of which feature the word that is my name.

    There’s another, similar name to my super common first name (think Julie va Julia). So – again – have to spell it, repeat it constantly. And people who have known me for YEARS still slip up and say the wrong one.

    On the pronunciation side, I really, really try but am hopeless about wrapping my tongue around the Spanish R or unfamiliar letter combinations. I appreciate someone willing to coach and have a bit of humor (when speaker IS trying). For me, if I’m introducing a presenter, it’s easier if I get the name in writing, phonetically and then only have that version in my notes.

    I had a friend with a less common name. Not difficult once you understood, but not obvious by reading it. She’d always introduce herself as, “Hi, I’m __________, it rhymes with _______.” Was quite effective.

    1. Filosofickle*

      I have a name that is always pronounced correctly but misspelled constantly. There were 3 ways to spell it when I was growing up, but it’s nearly infinite now. I don’t care about strangers getting it wrong but people who’ve known me for years getting it wrong bugs. It’s especially noticeable when they’re replying to an email from me, and my full name is in the email address and in my sign-off, and in the footer…you had three written clues in this email alone plus 10 years of friendship, and you still missed it?!

  69. Jessica Fletcher*

    #5 – Don’t raise this with Peter. I can think of lots of reasons that Peter might genuinely treat Susan differently than he treats you. You really don’t know if she’s had a different experience and is just trying to protect you.

    Have you…asked Susan about this? I think you should just keep quiet and finish your internship, but if you want to know so badly, you could simply say to Susan, “Peter doesn’t seem bothered when I ask questions. Have you had a different experience?”

    1. El l*

      That’s what I’d say, too. If Peter is responsive to questions, just keep rolling with that.

      Telling Peter about Susan is inserting yourself into whatever the Peter-Susan relationship is. The only thing you’ll get in that situation is trouble.

  70. The Wandering Scout*

    OP 5, I used to work as a medical secretary to a doctor who had a reputation of being kind of an ass, and everyone had always said never to call him/text him for things that weren’t extremely urgent etc, and some of these were people who had worked as his secretary in the past.
    I ended up asking about it and phrased it as “We’ve been working together for X months now, and I wanted to confirm – if something is time sensitive enough that it can’t wait for our weekly/bi-weekly meeting but isn’t immediately urgent, how would you best like me to get in touch with you?” We ended up agreeing that we would save phone calls for truly urgent things, but I could text with anything else. It meant he could look at the text, and if he had time/felt it was urgent he could call me back or he could send a yes/no text back if it didn’t need a call.

  71. Eclecticism is a Virtue*

    LW #3, I think it really depends on the content of the interviews. If it’s basically the same interview over and over but with different people, that’s almost certainly a scheduling issue and in office would probably be 1-2 panel interviews.

    On the other things, it really depends on how they do things in practice. My company will tell you we work hard, get the job done, etc. We also have a policy of no official PTO for salaried/exempt employees and they just take off what they want (but hourly do have PTO). But, while we do work hard, rarely does anyone go over 60-65 hours in a week in my office and that’s only at the busiest times. Also, unlike the stereotype of “no PTO” offices, we really do take time off. My director will take 1-2 weeks off at a time and is more than happy when anyone on the team does the same. In fact, my (new) manager just told me if any of his direct reports are about to max out their PTO, he will strongly encourage them to take time off. This came up because I’m hourly and my PTO has been maxed for a while, but I also have an upcoming vacation. It’s really a question of the culture and how they implement policies in practice, not the policies themselves. But that’s what the eight interviews are for! As Alison constantly preaches, your fiancé should use the interviews as a chance to interview them, and ask questions about how the policies are actually implemented. And that is essentially what she’s also saying with the due diligence.

    LW #5, I saw in your letter that you’re an intern and Susan is a legal assistant, I presume not an intern. If I had a direct report or colleague and separately had an intern, my expectations for each would be vastly different. I would expect, and welcome, lots of questions from the intern, that’s the point of the internship. My colleague though, depending on their tenure and role, I would likely expect them to know the answers to most common questions. It depends on what the questions are exactly, but I could see being very patient with your questions, since that’s why you are there, while maybe not being as patient with Susan’s questions, particularly if she should know the answers already.

  72. El l*

    LW #1:
    Is there a cultural difference at play here? In France, for example, doors are normally closed during the working day.

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