CEO wants staff to buy his wife’s book, junior assistant keeps calling me “hun,” and more

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

1. CEO is pressuring staff to buy his wife’s book

I work in a small to medium sized charity in the UK, and recently the CEO sent an all-staff email to ask everyone to buy as many copies of his wife’s book as possible to artificially inflate book rankings on Amazon.

I asked around and a few of my colleagues were taken aback by it, and a few felt pressured to buy it. The senior HR person responded to the email chain saying, “And don’t forget to review it positively too!”

I sent him a short email back using some of your wording around asking for personal favors, saying that his power over employees makes this a strange favor to ask. He responded back very defensively saying no one else questioned it and that his tone in the email was fine. Is this fine? Should I just drop it because he’s the CEO? Or is there anything else I can do?

It’s not fine, but it’s not worth the personal capital you’d need to spend to push it further.

It’s inappropriate for the CEO to use his staff to prop up his spouse’s book, and his response (“no one else questioned it”) misses the point entirely, which is that he can’t assume that others would speak up because he’s in a position of power.

But you’ve said your piece and there’s not much benefit in continuing to push it — this isn’t something like pay or working conditions where the stakes for you and your coworkers are high. I mean, yes, it’s a problem to have a CEO who’s clueless about power dynamics, but you’re better off saving your capital for other battles.

2. Junior assistant keeps calling me “hun”

There is a junior assistant on my team (I am senior, with around 10 years more industry experience and many levels above her in the industry). I am not officially her manager. We officially report into the head of department. I oversee her workload and make sure everything is running smoothly.

During lockdown and working from home, every single morning she sends me a message saying “hey hun” or “morning hun.” I know for a fact she would never speak to the head of department like this. I admit I have said it to her once or twice, but it does feel different in my position. However, despite that, I stopped saying it to her some time ago, hoping it would phase out, but it still continues. I have not directly said to her that I have a problem with it. She does it in emails too, but only to me.

She’s only 24 so perhaps the lingo is different I didn’t mind it in-person as much as it’s a bit more casual face-to-face and we and the other team are all friends and we socialize outside of work.

But it feels purposefully condescending, especially as it’s every morning without fail and within a private chat. I’m not sure if she’s just oblivious or in a bad habit, or if she’s doing it a bit more maliciously. I don’t want to appear petty but it is bothering me. I don’t want to be a hypocrite as I’ve called her hun in the past. I wouldn’t mind if it was occasional but it’s every morning.

I wouldn’t want to be called “hun” at work either, but the reason she thinks it’s okay is because you have said it to her! You can’t expect her to read your mind and know that you now feel differently about it when you’ve said it yourself in the past. You wrote that it feels different coming from you to her, but it shouldn’t. It’s really not appropriate for work regardless, but if you’re going to say it, there’s no “the senior person can say it but the junior person can’t” rule.

If you’d like her to stop, you’ll need to tell her. Don’t hint or expect her to read your mind. Say it directly. For example: “I know I’ve used it myself in the past but realized I’m not a fan of ‘hun’ at work — would you mind just sticking with Lucille?”

3. I need to stop trying to solve problems that aren’t mine

I’m in an industry where presenting options and solving problems for consumers is part and parcel of my role. Whether it’s ingrained in my personality or environmental conditioning, I do this automatically and it does help me excel at my role.

However, I notice that I take on a lot more pressure and stress than I need to by doing this in areas outside my job functions or sphere of influence. Often, they’re not even my problems to resolve, but I’m just keen to help. For example, my branch director will mention a problem he has and I’ll immediately start trying to find ways to resolve it.

I have a few concerns about this behavior:

• Is my active listening suffering because I’m already thinking about what I can say to resolve the problem for the person? (It’s worth mentioning this has nothing to do with me trying to impress them.)

• The person might be only looking to vent some frustration and probably has an idea for the solution.

• I’m also aware I most likely don’t have all the information my director does and whatever suggestion I make he has probably already considered in some form. So essentially, I’m wasting his time.

Once I started noticing this, it became apparent that I also do it in my personal life to a lesser degree. I always considered myself a decent active listener but I’m starting to question that and think there’s room for improvement on this. What advice would you suggest?

Oh yes. When your job is to help find solutions to problems, it can be very easy to go into that mode by default, whether or not it’s what the person you’re speaking with wants from you. Ask me how I know!

It can be surprisingly revolutionary to simply ask, “Do want advice or do you just want to be able to vent right now?” Just that one question can prevent you from springing into problem-solving mode when it’s not what the person is looking for.

But the might not be the right framing for your boss. There are some boss/employee relationships where that would be fine and others where it would feel a little off (partly because your boss may not want to think of himself as venting to employees). So another way to say it is: “Would it be helpful to try to brainstorm some solutions or do you have it covered?”

Also, I wouldn’t assume your boss will have already considered any suggestion you could make! You have a different perspective than he does — as well as a different brain — and both of those things mean you might think of different ideas.

4. Salary and benefits when returning after being laid off

After 10 years of employment, I was one of thousands of full-time employees laid off from a large company due to Covid. After six months out of work (now that my severance had been fully paid) my previous team has asked me to come back as a freelancer, which I have a feeling will eventually lead to becoming full-time again. If this occurs, can I/should I negotiate to be reinstated with same or greater salary, with all vacation time and benefits that I left (at the level of a 10-year employee) or do I have to suck it up as a new hire? After all, it was none of my doing that led to my layoff.

You absolutely should ask to be reinstated at the same salary and benefits level. Many companies will do that in this situation, and even if yours doesn’t it’s still reasonable to ask for it. (Especially for the level of benefits accrual — if new hires get 15 days off a year but at your seniority level you were getting 25, there’s no reason you should start at the new hire level again.)

5. Should I take my college jobs off my resume?

I am 26, and have been at my first “real” job for two years, after graduating college and then doing about 18 months on a fellowship. I am starting to search for a new job, but because I only have my current one and the fellowship post-college, my resume still has my college part-time jobs (writing tutor, research assistant, etc.) on it. These jobs are relevant since they show skills that I don’t use as much in my current role, but I worry that it makes me look unprofessional or just inexperienced/young. Should I remove them?

No, keep them! You’re only four years out of school; it’s perfectly normal to still have college jobs on there, especially when they show relevant skills and especially when you’d otherwise only have two jobs listed. It’s fine to keep including them! You can reassess with the next job search after this one.

{ 481 comments… read them below }

  1. Aj*

    The sucky senior HR person is sucking up to the sucky CEO. It all sucks. 100% care less about it.

    1. allathian*

      Yeah, this. The CEO’s behavior is gross and I wonder if he’s trampling all over appropriate professional boundaries in other ways as well.

      I’m wondering how big the company is and if the CEO is also the owner? In that case, HR probably can’t do much as I don’t think the CEO is actually breaking any laws or risking liability to the company. At most, he’s driving away people with options who’d otherwise be happy working there.

      The only thing to do here is to ignore the CEO’s requests and maybe look for a new job. When you find the new job, leave a Glassdoor review about the CEO’s weird demands.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Eh, unless there’s a lot more going on, I wouldn’t encourage anyone to job search over this. It’s inappropriate and annoying but it’s pretty low on the scale of things bad enough to provoke a job search for most people.

        1. Fran Fine*

          Right. Just ignore the email, OP, and keep it moving. Unless they threaten to fire anyone who doesn’t buy the book and then leave a positive review, I’d pretend from this point forward like I never saw the email.

          1. Emily*

            Exactly! I think ignoring this and/or choosing to find it funny (this seems like something Michael Scott from “The Office” would do, and sort of did do with Jan’s candle company by trying go get Jim to invest in it) is the right path to take unless this gets escalated to a point where the CEO/HR is threatening to punish/fire people who don’t buy the book and/or leave a positive review, and there is no evidence of that so far. (This letter made me think of the letter where the boss wanted his employees to sign up to be a liver donor for his brother and was threatening to fire them if they didn’t. That was way more high stakes/*way* more innapropriate.) It is amazing how many bosses are so oblivious to power dynamics or willing to exploit power dynamics for their personal/their family’s benefit.

            1. Observer*

              (This letter made me think of the letter where the boss wanted his employees to sign up to be a liver donor for his brother and was threatening to fire them if they didn’t. That was way more high stakes/*way* more innapropriate.)

              That wend so far beyond “inappropriate” that it just doesn’t make sense to use it as a bechmark.

              1. Yorick*

                You’re right, but this isn’t equivalent even if we replace “donate your liver” with “buy the wife’s book.”

          2. Allonge*

            That is what I was thinking – people forget or just plain don’t read their emails all the time. This one is a prime candidate for ‘wow, oh, I remember now, I meant to do that’ if anyone ever follows up.

            (Ok, maybe OP would have to come up with something different as they already called it out, but for everyone else…)

            1. Insert Clever Name Here*

              I wouldn’t even say “I meant to do that” if anyone followed up. “Oh shoot, I forgot about that email and darn — I’ve already used up my budget for books this month.”

              1. Richard Hershberger*

                The key from the OP is “buy as many copies of his wife’s book as possible.” I haven’t used up my budget for books this month, but I have for books I don’t want to read. So I have already bought as many copies as possible.

                1. JustaTech*

                  I feel like there’s a huge difference between the pride of “hey, a person I really care about did an amazing thing, please buy her book!” and “please help my wife scam her Amazon rating.”

                  The first one I will completely forgive – goodness knows I’ve bought books my friends have written only because they are my friends, not because I’m interested in the topic.

                  The second is trying to use people you have power over the game the system, and that’s not cool.

                2. Kevin Sours*

                  The problem is that there *isn’t* a huge difference when you are the CEO and addressing it to your employees.

              2. Pennyworth*

                If it wasn’t possible to just ignore the book buying request I’d go for “How do I get reimbursed?” or “I’ll need the money upfront before I place an order. How is that being handled?” Just blandly assume that the CEO would not be asking employees to spend their own money, but is trying to spread his purchases so they are not obvious.

          3. allathian*

            Yeah, that’s a fair point. But I still think it’s a bit of at least a yellow flag to keep in mind if the CEO crosses professional boundaries in other ways.

            Ignoring it is probably the way to go at least for now, but if the CEO starts pestering his employees to buy and to leave a positive review with repeated requests, maybe looking elsewhere is worth considering after all?

            1. EPLawyer*

              Definitely something to note for the future. Especially because HR was all on board with it too. HR’s job is to protect the company, which does not mean the CEO personally. But on its own, its not job search worthy.

              It’s especially skeevy because its a non profit. It should be a little more ethical about things like this. I would REALLY worry if the CEO decides the Amazon rank isn’t high enough so he authorizes the non-profit to buy the books. Not that there is any indication in the letter, but keep an eye for it. Just in case. THAT you would report straight to the Board of the non profit.

              1. Kevin Sours*

                Yeah. I can’t help but think that this is telling you that you work for a place where the CEO exhibits poor judgement and there are no effective checks on that. That’s not really a reason to immediately pull the eject cord but it should be warning to keep your eyes wide open.

        2. Chocolate Teapot*

          I once had a friend email her contacts to inform us her husband had written a book, and it was now available on Amazon. Having a boss do the same is very off-putting, unless it was a book that I legitimately wanted to read, such as the wife is an expert on a particular topic, or how she handled a particular set of circumstances (dealing with a serious illness etc.)

          1. MK*

            Eh, one could argue that the CEO sincerely believes the book is brilliant and would benefit everyone to read it. There is no way to know who would want to read a book, and I wouldn’t be more tolerant of a book about, say, fighting cancer, in fact I would be more manipulated.

            I think people who publish (and sometimes their loved ones) can lose perspective about what is acceptable promotion and what is skeevy. I wouldn’t be bothered by an email announcing the publication, but urging employees to buy and review it?

              1. H2*

                The funny thing is that it’s hard to imagine a scenario where the employees of this company can buy enough copies to make an actual difference in a book’s ranking!

                1. LQ*

                  Eh, it depends on the sub-genre. In some smaller niche genres, a few dozen pre-orders can make a difference. Especially if this is pre-order time it can make a difference, once the books out it’s a lot harder.

              2. Artemesia*

                If it had just been an announcement of the ‘I am proud and you might be interested’ variety — ok. But to ask them to buy multiple copies and then leave positive reviews is gross. And the utter tone deafness of a boss who says ‘no one else complained’ is astounding. People don’t complain to the boss and his reaction is one reason why. In fact people don’t complain TO the person who errs in general — How many people hear directly from guests that they are offended by the dollar dance? (where it is not a local custom)

            1. SheLooksFamiliar*

              A couple of friends published novels through Amazon, and I bought a copy of their book because they’re friends, and also because they didn’t relentlessly promote themselves or the book. I got one email announcing the publication date with a nice request to considering buying a copy ‘if you’re interested in (subject of the book)’, and that was it. Both books were, um, challenging to read but I’m glad I made my friends happy.

              Had I gotten a full-court press, with manipulation to buy the books and leave a glowing review, I would have ‘forgotten’ all about it. I’d use the same approach with an overstepping boss, too.

              1. Artemesia*

                Same. I’ll do it for a friend even if ‘novelist’ appears not to be one of his strengths. For the boss’s wife? Please.

              2. JustaTech*

                I bought a book a really good high school friend wrote, even though the topic was in no way interesting to me (though I was more interested after reading the book, which speaks well to his writing). Honestly I was relieved that it was a short business book and not the 1000 page epic fantasy he’s been working on since 9th grade.

                But he’s earned that by being a really good friend, and not relentlessly pushing his book or company. More like the pride of a new parent “look at this thing I made!”

          2. Princess Trachea-Aurelia Belaroth*

            I think just alerting people that your book/your spouses book is out is fine, even if you’re the CEO. Honestly, it would be weird to conceal the fact that you put out a book from your colleagues.

            It’s the “everyone needs to buy this, buy as many as you can, and remember to leave a review!” that’s bad. Even just saying “please consider buying it” is a little eh. You can’t create pressure or imply that you’ll be monitoring who’s buying it. But letting others know that it’s out, either for them to buy if they’re interested or just to congratulate you, as they would for any other life event or accomplishment, I think is fine.

        3. Observer*

          It’s inappropriate and annoying but it’s pretty low on the scale of things bad enough to provoke a job search for most people.

          True. The real question is whether this is a signal that other problems exist. Given HR’s response, I think that there is a really good likelyhood. Certainly, the OP should keep their eyes wide open.

        4. NYC Taxi*

          Yeah, this is one of those emails I’d roll my eyes at and move on. Not worth any political capital to chastise my CEO about and certainly wouldn’t trigger a job hunt. Our CEO’s wife is a “musician” and he sends us emails when she puts out new music. No one feels obligated to buy it, we just laugh about it amongst ourselves. Not everything needs to be called out or made a big deal over. Save it for the things that matter.

      2. Bagpuss*

        I wouldn’t look for a new job over this. The CEO can’t force anyone to buy the book.
        I think LW has already done what she can by responding, and the only other thing she can do is to try to let others know they don’t need to – especially anyone who is junior to her or who she thinks feels pressured – even a comment such as “I can’t believe that CEO thought it was OK to try to pressure us into buying his wife’s book! I really hope no one felt they had to spend their own money on it just because he wants to boost his wife’s ego”

        I’m not clear whether OP copied HR in on her e-mail – I think in her position I would probably have raised it with HR rather than with the CEO directly, and I think she could still do that if she wished, to say that she was concerned as from speaking to coworkers some did feel pressured to buy the book and so whatever the CEOs intentions were, the effect is that people feel uncomfortable not buying it, even though it isn’t part of the job or funded by the employer.

        (I think that, as this is in the UK, LW has a bit more standing to push back as it would be more difficult for the CEO to get her sacked in retaliation than it might be in the US, but of course it does depend on how much personal capital she wants to expend on this)

        1. pleaset cheap rolls*

          Yes. The incident is data.

          Is the CEO and company usually pretty good ? Then it’s no big deal, but keep your eyes open.

          Are they bad? Then it’s more evidence – work harder on leaving.

          Unclear? Keep your eyes open.

        2. TechWorker*

          I agree about making it clear to others it’s not expected to buy it but your script honestly sounds quite gossipy and, tbh, rude. (Even if you believe the CEO is ‘trying to boost his wife’s ego’ – bitch about that with your partner or non work friend, not your junior colleague!). If it comes up something like ‘oh of course it’s ok to ignore that email, the CEO can’t actually ask us to buy it or even check if we have’ is more professional.. :)

          1. Colette*

            Agreed. “Yeah, I saw the, but it’s not my thing so I’m not going to buy it.” would also work.

        3. Observer*

          I think in her position I would probably have raised it with HR rather than with the CEO directly, and I think she could still do that if she wished

          Given HR’s response, I would not do that. They CLEARLY don’t get it and I highly doubt anything the OP can say will cause an epiphany.

          I think that, as this is in the UK, LW has a bit more standing to push back as it would be more difficult for the CEO to get her sacked in retaliation than it might be in the US,

          That may be true, but there is little doubt that an unscrupulous boss can make someone’s life extremely difficult, even if they don’t get fired.

      3. Virginia Plain*

        I think it’s important to note that this is in the UK – there is no risk to the OPs job because firing someone or pushing them out for something like this is point blank illegal here, it would be unfair dismissal and the CEO would up before a tribunal (or more likely, writing written apologies withdrawing any such threat and basically begging OP not to bring such a case) if he so much as hinted at it.
        So in essence OP isn’t really under any pressure here; I can’t see any bad consequences from just ignoring it. Sure it’s annoying and inappropriate and I think OP was right to make her point (perhaps she was giving CEO the benefit of the doubt and opportunity to say, oh good grief, everyone, i didn’t mean to make you feel pressured, just buy the book if you like stories about brave young women starting their own otter farm, haha!) , but the CEO is clear he thinks it’s fine and is not going to withdraw such requests, so why bang one’s head against a brick wall?

        1. Observer*

          there is no risk to the OPs job because firing someone or pushing them out for something like this is point blank illegal here,

          In this particular case, it would probably be illegal in the US, too. That doesn’t mean that the organization would not try something. It’s not like the law s followed 100%, and the process of holding the company accountable is not exactly a piece of cake. Which is to say that while the risk to the OP’s job is not high, you can’t say that there is no risk. Keep in mind, you are dealing with a company that seems to have a shaky understanding of appropriate ethical lines.

        2. LunaLena*

          Even if you can’t get fired, that doesn’t mean the CEO can’t make life miserable for the OP or anyone else who openly protests, which is probably why it’s best if OP doesn’t spend any more political capital on this. For example, Japanese business practices make it very difficult to legally fire people, so they came up with another solution: strip unwanted employees of all responsibility and human contact, put them in a windowless room, and assign them menial or even no tasks at all until they quit of their own accord. For C-suite people they can’t do this to, I’ve read of a business that employed professional seducers – companies (or individuals wanting a divorce) could hire them to seduce an executive, put them in an embarrassing situation, and then make them resign in disgrace.

          1. Virginia Plain*

            I must disagree. If the CEO makes life miserable for you so you have no choice but to leave (e.g. like the Japanese example you give, or milder) this is constructive dismissal, is illegal, and the company would likewise end up at a tribunal. Remember the youngish manager who had one older report who didn’t go to get beer with the rest of the team and he didn’t like her, so he said he was “unmanaging” her in the hope she’d leave? Had he been in the U.K. this would have been a textbook example of constructive dismissal and he would have literally posted a confession on the internet.

            1. Virginia Plain*

              PS I would also think a tribunal would take an extremely dim view of setting someone up with a “professional seducer”.

      4. Ladycrim*

        Amazon might also appreciate being tipped off that someone is trying to inflate the numbers and reviews on [title of book].

    2. MissManager*

      We at least got a discount code when our CEO wrote his book. Everyone in the executive office C-suite was required to buy 10-15 (I don’t remember exactly) books so it could get on The NY Times Best Seller list. All this to say… OP you aren’t alone.

      1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

        People who compile these lists frown upon shenanigans like this. The New York Times has dropped books on several occasions for fraudulent sales.

      2. nonegiven*


        My aunt wrote a book and I bought it. She had done most of the research pre-internet, so that was impressive. It was based on truth but fictionalized.

        I think a boss could write an email that he is proud to announce his wife published [book,] it’s about about x or it’s this genre. Here is a link, if anyone is interested.

  2. Unfettered scientist*

    #5… when do you stop putting college jobs on your resume? I’m a grad student now so I really just have college jobs and will only have my first “real” job starting in a few months. It’s been 6 years since college. Is there a hard time window for college jobs or a # of jobs passed window?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Nah, it’s individual. I mean, you don’t want them on there when you’re two decades out of school, but in the first, say, 5-10 years I’d say it depends on what jobs you’ve had since then and how many of them, and how relevant the college ones were (and also how long they lasted — the further away they get, the less weight something that was only a semester-long will carry).

      1. Jack Straw*

        +1 for “how relevant” — I’d say it’s the same for including “not your real job” jobs on your resume, too.

        ex: While teaching high school, I was a summer camp instructor at a local college for 9 years. My teaching/education resume includes that job. My non-teaching/business resume does not.
        I also do part-time/weekend, seasonal event planning and staff management (the de facto ED) for a NPO. My teaching/education resume does not include that job, but you better believe that my business one, especially if I’m applying for anything with events, has it included.

      2. MPH Researcher*

        I’m 18 years out of college and still have 2 separate college jobs on my resume – because I worked for that particular company for 3 years in college and 15 years afterward and leaving them on my resume shows my progression and duration with that particular company. Now, the college jobs of “teapot clerk” and “hamburger assistant” don’t have anything more than a title and start/end dates (no wasted space on descriptions or accomplishments that far back), but it does tell the story about how I got into my current industry and shows that I can stay with a company long-term.

        So as Allison said it’s really individualized- if the college jobs will help you get your next role, leave them on! But if they aren’t relevant and you have lots of more relevant recent experience, take them off. That will likely be a separate calculation for each person.

    2. Fancy Owl*

      I think it helps to think of it in terms of space on your resume instead of years sometimes. If you’re updating your resume and it already seems decently sized and thorough without including the college jobs, just leave them off. That’s how I decided when to drop mine. Whereas if you only have one other job on your resume you might want to leave them on to show you have a longer work history.

      1. Elizabeth McDonald*

        And there’s the interim stage, where a college job is still on there but more condensed than it was in the past – maybe just one or two bullet points that highlight skills that aren’t as represented by the more recent jobs.

        1. ThatGirl*

          Currently, my first two jobs out of college are still on my resume with one line each – but assuming I don’t get laid off from my newest job tomorrow, they’ll almost certainly be removed the next time I update my resume, because I left the second one 14 years ago.

      2. Lily Rowan*

        Yeah, I was thinking that — if they fill out the page in a useful way, sure, keep them on.

      3. Ama*

        Yeah, I no longer include the jobs I had before grad school on my resume — that was nearly 20 years ago at this point and they were largely clerical and reception work that don’t have anything to do with the career trajectory I have been on since grad school. But right after I graduated they were extremely useful in showing I was already very familiar with 9 to 5 office culture and entry level clerical work.

        1. Sled Dog Mama*

          I’m the same way. I’m 11 years out of Grad school now. I have substantial accomplishments that demonstrate my skills much better and in a more current way than almost everything pre-grad school. There’s one skill that isn’t represent post grad school and if I was applying for a position that needed that skill I’d find some way to include it (probably my cover letter) but it’s not terribly relevant to my current career trajectory.
          But 3 years out of grad school (even 6 years out of grad school) those jobs were still there for 2 reasons, 1) they showed more work history than just the 1 job since grad school 2) they showed skills that I have no other good way to demonstrate.

      4. Lindrine*

        As a hiring manager, if you are new or only have some experience under your belt, I would like to see any college or other previous experience that shows a track record of achievement and growth. Did you lead projects, win awards or were recognized in some way?

    3. Akcipitrokulo*

      I guess it’s “does it show evidence for my suitability for this job that I don’t have something better for?”

      1. Cat Tree*

        Yes, this is a case where it’s helpful to customize your resume for the position. I no longer include my college internships, but I would consider include one with a brief job description if one of the niche things was relevant for the job posting.

    4. twocents*

      I kept mine on until I didn’t need the reference of the skills/experience from them.

    5. Marion Ravenwood*

      Personally I would work to a 10-year timeframe – so if the college job was more than 10 years ago, I’d take it off. The exception to this would be if you’ve had a lot of jobs and keeping these jobs on your resume would take it over two pages, in which case I’d either condense it or take it off entirely.

    6. Grey Coder*

      I have a couple one-line items for internships from 30 years ago, but that’s because they were at SuperPrestigiousCo at a time when SuperPrestigiousCo was at the top of everything. Think “lab assistant, Marie Curie Labs, 1898.”

    7. Brett*

      Stop putting college jobs when you would no longer use them to respond to behavioral questions.
      When I am interviewing, and asking behavioral questions, I will frequently ask “in your role at x…” or “in the past two years…” or “any point your career, whether at x, y, or even in your grad assistantship…” and then have them provide examples of things such as convincing someone of their viewpoint, making a wrong decision and what they would do differently now in the same position, cooperating with a difficult personality, a technical decision they made that benefited the whole team, etc.

      Often some of the best answers come out of college experience, because you have a lot more autonomy in those roles that you don’t get until later in your professional career. If you don’t have your college jobs on your resume, I won’t know to ask about what you did there, and it will seem slightly confusing that you are suddenly referencing jobs not on your resume to answer questions (you will spend time just explaining what the job was).

      So, once you hit the point where you stop referencing those jobs in interviews to provide examples of your skills and abilities, you can take them off your resume.

    8. I'm just here for the cats*

      I was wondering this too. I’m not a grad student, but I graduated in 2014 but I only have 3 jobs since college, 2 call centers, and my current role as an admin assistant. In college, I was a student manager and was a tutor. if I applied to another position that needed manager experience or teaching experience I think I should put that in my resume.

    9. Paris Geller*

      I’m about to turn 30 and I took my college jobs off of my latest job search, but kept the ones I had in graduate school. For me, my career progression went: College (with summer jobs & multiple internships) -> 1 year temporary job -> grad school/part-time job in field -> full time job in field 1 -> full time job in field 2. I didn’t take any college jobs off until I started job searching for full time job in field 2.

    10. Tafadhali*

      I’m eleven years out and I still have one of my college jobs listed. It was a four-year job and is relevant to my current field. It is basically one line at this point, though — I have it under an “Other Library Experience” heading that includes things that show a range of experience that might interest an interviewer, but which aren’t as relevant to my specialization as a school librarian (e.g. on-call public librarian work, longterm volunteering, archival work, etc.). It may come off after I have one more school librarian role under my belt… but it doesn’t take up much space, so maybe not!

      On the other hand, I took my 3-year school newspaper job off my resume after grad school (~5 years ago) because it wasn’t as connected to my field.

      1. RecoveringSWO*

        Yeah, I think those “closely related to the work field” college jobs can be good to keep and they definitely show a prolonged interest in the field. In an informational interview, my future boss specifically pointed out my experience in that college department and we connected over our shared experience as college student assistants in the field. I had previously dropped that job from my resume when looking for work outside of that field and was so happy I thought to include it when trying to return to the professional service aspect of that field.

  3. HiHello*

    #2 I don’t understand why the OP thinks it was ok for them to call the junior person ”hun.” It is extremely unprofessional and inappropriate. It would make me very uncomfortable if someone called me like this. The condescending part works both ways. I am not your hun no matter how senior you are.

    1. Em*

      Call me petty, but I would 1000% weaponize “hun” right back at anyone who called me that at work until they realized how condescending it is. Since the OP says they’re friends with this person outside of work, that doesn’t seem to be what’s happening here, but I think not using endearments like this for colleagues is a good lesson learned either way.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I have to wonder if OP isn’t still using it with other people, possibly without realizing it.

      2. I Herd the Cats*

        I’m an executive assistant and my boss (the CEO, retired military officer) and I started communicating regularly via text during the pandemic. Imagine my horror when, several weeks in, I realized that my phone was autocorrecting his (short) name to “hon” — as in, “hi hon don’t forget you now have a call at 3pm” or “hey hon your timesheet’s due” FORTUNATELY he has a sense of humor and also he said he assumed that’s what was happening. Whether or not that’s true, at least it made me feel less awful when I apologized and explained. Then I went into my phone settings and fixed the issue.

        1. Claire*

          At least the autocorrect spelled “hon” correctly! Unless you are speaking to Attila the Hun, it’s “hon.” Something about seeing “hun” as shorthand for “honey” makes it a pet peeve of mine.

          1. SimonTheGreyWarden*

            My brain weirdly mispronounces “hon” so I would probably put hun if I used that (I don’t). In my mond, “hun” has the sound of “honey” while “hon” sounds like “honk” without the k.

              1. Amaranth*

                Now I’m picturing autocorrect making it ‘hunk’ like ‘hey hunk, lets meet up tomorrow to inventory the supply closet…’

            1. OhNo*

              My first thought was that “hon” is pronounced the way people often use it when they are faking a laugh in a very bad French accent (Think: “Zis is a very bad ack-sent, hon hon”). I’m really glad no one I know uses it, at work or otherwise, because I would not be able to take them seriously if they did, “correct” spelling or no…

      3. Womanaroundtown*

        That was one hundred percent my first thought – junior didn’t like when senior called her hun, so she’s using it to try and make senior realize how obnoxious it is. I very well might be wrong! But that was what struck me reading it.

        1. Marple*

          That’s exactly what I thought also. She’s making a point because you’re obnoxious in calling her that at work. If it annoys you, it annoys her. Just apologize and say you get it.

        2. Honey Bunches of Oats*

          yup, i thought the same! tbh i might do something like that to an annoying and condescending senior colleague…

      4. Clisby*

        I also wondered whether that was going on. OP, is it possible that this junior person is bothered at your calling her “hon” that she’s doing it back to make a point? If so, she has a point. You need to knock it off, too.

    2. allathian*

      Yes, this. I think that when the OP asks the junior employee to stop calling them hun, they should also explicitly apologize to them for doing it themselves.

    3. Tussy*

      I don’t think it is outside the realm of possibility that the junior employee didn’t like it and decided to make the point of how it feels on the receiving end by saying it back.

      Pure conjecture, obviously, but definitely my first thought when LW said she used to say it to junior employee.

      1. Julia*

        Same. The second OP mentioned they had used hun before, my mind went “Aha!”
        It’s like calling someone “boy” who keeps referring to you as “girl.”

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

          Eh. I wouldn’t encourage OP to think there’s malicious or passive aggressive intent behind it. Not to say it isn’t possible, it’s just that finding more ways to assume the worst of their colleague isn’t going to help OP deliver the message in a calm and matter-of-fact way.

          1. pleaset cheap rolls*


            But the other person doing turnabout is not the worst – it’s the best! I LOL’d when OP said she’d used the term first. If the other person sent it back like that, it’s pretty funny.

          2. MCMonkeybean*

            I agree, I think it is highly unlikely that it is pointed, especially if OP stopped calling the other person hun a long time ago. OP said the fact that it’s every day is what makes her feel like it is pointed but I kind of think the opposite–to me that makes it seem like it’s really just a habit and that she has no reason to think it’s not okay.

          3. Tussy*

            I don’t really see it as malicious or passive aggressive – it’s probably the most gentle way to rebuke it to your boss, the easiest way to test whether there is condescension behind LW saying it and it’s also the most good faith interpretation of LW saying it from Junior Employee’s point of view.

            But I did couch what I said in a lot of caveats because we just don’t have enough information. I just don’t think it’s outside the realm of possibility and said so because it illustrates that there shouldn’t be a difference between who can use it at work.

      2. Lady Meyneth*

        Honestly, it’s dead center in the realm of possibility, even probability IMO. But I hope OP doesn’t see it as purely passive aggressive and gets even more upset at the junior person.

        OP, please think over how it feels for you to be called hun, and consider this person (intentionally or not) has taught you a valuable lesson here. It is condescending to be called hun at work, no matter your carreer level. And specifically with a very junior newly hired person, it might be difficult to have an actual conversation with your superior and ask them to change their behavior (remember, you haven’t even said anything to her, and she’s lower than you on the food chain!). So please don’t assume maliciousness on her side!

    4. Overripe Banana*

      This stuck out to me too. If they feel like it’s condescending coming from a junior employee, imagine how it must feel coming from a senior employee.
      I worked in an office where the VP liked to refer to people, especially young women, as “hun” (she fully admitted she used nicknames etc. as a way to assert her dominance) several of the young women took to calling literally everyone in the office “hun” as a response and it turned into a big joke. Perhaps not the *most* professional way of handling it, but it removed the condescending power behind the word “hun” and it was eventually phased out by everyone.

      That whole workplace was a mess though lol.

      1. Fran Fine*

        she fully admitted she used nicknames etc. as a way to assert her dominance

        Oh jeez.

        1. SheLooksFamiliar*

          I worked with an older man who claimed he called everyone ‘dear’ or ‘honey’ because he just couldn’t remember their names. This was said with a wink, smile, and/or headshake over his poor memory.

          You guessed it, he could remember the names of men he worked with just fine, but not women. A woman peer pressed him on this, and it somehow came out that he claimed women loved terms of endearment because they felt warm and appreciated. IIRC, he used the term ‘hothouse flowers’ to describe women at work.

          He got some coaching sessions about his chauvinism. Don’t think they did much, he eventually quit.

          1. Fran Fine*

            What in the world?! Lol. “Hothouse flowers?” Some people should just learn to be silent in the workplace.

            1. A*

              In additional to being gross and unprofessional, I don’t even understand what that is suppose to mean. You look very… floral and sweaty today! woot!

              Like, ok Mr. Deep Freezer Bark. ugh.

          2. Zzzzzzz*

            Serious question! A boss I work for routinely mixes up the names of young women he works with. Is HONEY or DEAR better than that? I think it might be! Obviously, for a person in this situation, just DON’T USE A NAME IF YOU’RE NOT SURE is also a 100% better way to handle it.

            1. Violette*

              Dear godz, no! No, “honey” or “dear” isn’t acceptable in the workplace. Period. Especially not from a a man in a position of power over younger women. Holy sexism, batman!

              Does he mix up the names of the young men he works with?

      2. MusicWithRocksIn*

        Exactly. If the senior employee is feeling uncomfortable pushing back on this – imagine how the junior employee would feel when it was used on her. It’s so much harder to say something! I’ve been called a lot of cutsie nicknames over the years at work, and coming from anyone senior to me makes me feel so deeply uncomforble (usually men senior to me, ugh) but someone my gender and my level or junior just feels friendly if misguided. Though I will say I’ve worked with a British guy who called me ducks and I loved it, but maybe it’s because it makes me feel like I’m on the BBC.

    5. John Smith*

      It is unprofessional, but I’m wondering whether this person calls anyone else “hun”? I have a friend who calls everyone – and I mean everyone -“love” (doesn’t matter who you are). Where I’m from, names like this are common (duck, pet, love, sugar, sausage, sweety etc). It’s used very much in the same way as the word “mate”. Whilst very informal, it is not intended to be condescending. In fact, if you aren’t called by a petname or nickname, you’re generally out of favour and there are some people who I’ve know only by a nickname or petname.

      I’d be more concerned about how this person interacts and treats with me than by what they call me. By all means ask them not to call you hun, but be aware they may have other names they may have other names they can refer to you by.

      1. MsSolo (UK)*

        Yes, it slightly depends on where junior co-worker is from. Terms I would have bristled at where I grew up, like hun and luv, and basically verbal tics in others parts of the country and are applied equally to friends, shop assistants, managers and MPs. It was very weird the first time I visited my sister’s in-laws and her FIL called me “My Lover”, but he’s Cornish – he’s calls the milkman My Lover, and he’d probably call Boris it if he didn’t have a rather harsher epithet in mind!

        1. London Calling*

          My ‘andsome. My flower. Me lover. (Devon girl here, grew up being called all those). Not at work though. Now I’m in London and it’s more likely to be ‘mate.’

          1. Foxgloves*

            OMG A FELLOW DEVON GIRL!! HELLO! And yes, “flower” “lover” “lovely” are all totally normal in the vernacular there, including at some places I’ve worked there! I’m also in London now, and I sometimes use “lovely” with colleagues I’m close with at work, but generally just with peers. Agree that “mate” is much more common!

            1. londonedit*

              Good afternoon, Westcountry massive! Also grew up hearing ‘my lover’, ‘flower’ and ‘handsome’ and I’m also now in London where it’s more likely to be ‘mate’. I work with plenty of people from various parts of the North, and they often say ‘Alright duck?’ or ‘Thanks love’ and it’s just a quirk of speech. I might say ‘Thanks my dear’ or ‘Cheers lovely’ with work friends/close colleagues, but not with people I don’t have a close working relationship with (or my boss, for example).

              1. WookieCookie*

                I worked in Bristol for a long time and honestly a West Country accent “my lover” just brightens my day!

                1. Foxgloves*

                  I will also just add to this that as a result of this thread I just greeted my Cornish boss on Zoom with “Alright my flower?” said in my best south west accent and he nearly fell off his chair with glee. (Though if he greeted me that way all the time, I’d be pretty miffed)

            2. London Calling*

              Bideford, left years ago, watch every programme I can about ut and still homesick for the county in spring. I was planning to walk the Tarka Trail last Easter but events…..

            1. London Calling*

              Needs to be said with a rolling west country accent for the full flavour. And it’s ‘my ‘aaaandsome’ with the same accent. Especially charming and heartening when used to those of us who are past our first blossoming, so to speak.

          1. Elysian*

            Yeah, came to say this – if this office or the coworker are from Baltimore that would important important context. There might be other regional differences.

            1. TotesMaGoats*

              Agreed. I instantly went, oh they are from Baltimore. Where this is generally accepted language. It’s a local gender neutral singular.

              1. Joan Holloway*

                Me too!!! I left Bawdymore over 25 years ago, but sometimes that Hon slips out. Not at work, but elsewhere.

              2. Claire*

                Wait what?! I’m so curious about this Baltimore thing. So in Baltimore, people call their managers hon? Including male managers? Do men say it to other men?

                1. TotesMaGoats*

                  It is a strange place. Probably more used by women for anyone they speak to. But still equal opportunity use in a general sense.

                2. RecoveringSWO*

                  Yes, I’ve seen men use it with other men in the region, but not everyone will. It certainly adds a really interesting layer to the movement to stop pet names as a reflection of gender discrimination.

                3. Aitch Arr*

                  When I visited New Orleans as a teenager with my parents, the doorman at our hotel called my mom “babe”. Then he called my dad “babe” as well. ;)

              3. MtnLaurel*

                That’s the first thing I thought of too! “Hon” is just generic there. I’m guessing though that if OP were from/in Baltimore, it wouldn’t be an issue.

          2. Just Another Zebra*

            I thought this too! If OP is in the Baltimore area (or her colleague is), that frames this differently for me.

          3. DataSci*

            Came here to ask if anyone in that story was from Baltimore! My first thought was that junior person was but LW was not, and that junior person needed to be politely informed that it’s a regional term and comes across very differently anywhere else, and should be avoided in non-Baltimore office settings.

          4. Coyote Tango*

            I’m from the Deep South and I have had to REALLY work not to call everyone “hon”, “sugar”, “sweetie”, “sweetheart”, etc (regardless of gender — everyone is a sweetheart).

            1. STG*

              I had the same problem! I moved across the country when I was 18 and let sweetheart slip in conversations a few times at work. I got really reamed for it once (appropriately so) and that experience broke me of the habit. Being a male, I was mortified when I realized how it was being interpreted as sexist (and also appropriately so regardless of my intent).

              It was very difficult to break though.

            2. HR Exec Popping In*

              I have a coworker who calls everyone these terms. I didn’t realize this was a southern thing and that helps me put it in better context because it honestly makes my skin crawl every single time she does it.

              1. Coyote Tango*

                It’s funny how jarring names like that can be when you’re not used to them. I’ve had several Indian coworkers who routinely called people “dear” and I objectively know it’s used in the same way (because they apply it equally regardless of gender or rank) it still sounds wrong to me when I hear it.

                It’s definitely hard to break out of the habit of it when you grow up with it. I often don’t even realize I’m saying it. That and the infamous sir/ma’am. My husband once asked if I realized I’d just called our friend’s dog “ma’am”.

            3. Clisby*

              I’m from the Deep South, too, and I know those terms are fairly common, but I’m 67 and don’t know in what century they would have been considered appropriate at work. Unless, of course, you were a kindergarten teacher addressing your students.

              1. Coyote Tango*

                I didn’t actually say they were considered appropriate, I pointed out I had to work very hard to extinguish them. :)

                But for what it’s worth, I’ve worked at an academic healthcare institution for roughly a decade now, and the basic science PhDs I primarily work with have never seemed terribly bothered when one slipped out because the context in which I used it was very clearly a regional affectation of speech.

              2. nonegiven*

                How many restaurants have I been in when the waitress walks up and says, “What can I get for you ‘sweetie,’ darlin, honey, sugar, etc?

            4. pope suburban*

              I worked with an older lady from the South and she was the same way. It didn’t bother me because a) I grew up there so I was used to it, and b) she didn’t treat me like a child or like I was lesser in any way. That was her method of speaking and it didn’t interfere in any way with her ability to work with me and show me respect as a colleague. I still get this from patrons at work, mostly retired folks, and it doesn’t feel condescending from them either- I’m in a community-based profession, and we occupy a quasi-family niche for a lot of people who are a bit isolated, or who don’t have family around. Again, they never talk down to our staff, they just feel comfortable here and feel positively toward us. The rare occasion when someone has done it at work to put me in my place, or while treating me like an incompetent, I bristle for sure. I’m just lucky that most of the times I run into this, it’s someone who has a good grasp of norms and just has a different speaking style than I do.

              1. Cal Ripken Forever*

                I also immediately thought anyone using ‘hon’ at work might be from Baltimore. I haven’t lived there in 18 years but I still slip sometimes. I try to immediately correct myself and explain the regional usage, but I’m sure there have been times when I haven’t noticed. Because of this, I always try to extend a little grace to people who have speech patterns that seem off to me.

                1. Trish*

                  Yes! I am in Maryland and it’s a reflex. Hon applies to all genders and all ages. It’s like saying “you.” If they’re from Maryland I would bet the regionalism is so ingrained they’re not even aware of it.

        2. Jennifer*

          The ex-receptionist at my job called me “luvey” all the time and IT DROVE ME NUTS. She was not British. I HATED IT.

        3. Anonolover*

          I lived briefly in Devon and remember exactly how I learned the range of usage of “lover”: a burly middle-aged male bus driver greeting his burly middle-aged male colleague at the shift change with “hello my lover!” My brain noted in fascination “ohhh, it’s not gendered!”

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

        In fact, if you aren’t called by a petname or nickname, you’re generally out of favour

        This, I was coming to say something similar. In my part of the world, hun (et al) are terms of endearment reserved for interactions with your “good” colleagues, wherever they sit in the hierarchy. I’m personally not a fan of perpetuating gendered petnames in the workplace, but I know it’s intended warmly and is just part of an overall casual vs formal personality style.

        I am wondering though – I can’t tell from OP’s letter if it’s specifically just the word “hun” that bothers her, or if it’s the casual tone in general coming from a junior assistant. There’s a strong hierarchy/rank focus in this letter that makes me wonder if there’s more to it.

      3. EventPlannerGal*

        Right, it could just be a personal/regional quirk (to some of my colleagues any woman of any age or rank is “hen”). I can understand finding it annoying but that seems a lot more likely than it being malicious. From their letter the OP strikes me as a very formal person and very concerned with rank/seniority so I feel like this might be more of an overall personality clash than specifically a problem with “hun”.

      4. Insert Clever Name Here*

        I think it’s fair to consider if this is a regional term, but it’s also fair for someone to say “please don’t call me that” if you aren’t actually working in the region where that is the norm. And in the case that it *is* a regional term being used outside its native region, the appropriate response is for Junior Colleague to apologize and do her best to stop using that with OP (and likewise for OP to recognize that an occasional slip means Junior Colleague is a human whose brain sometimes short circuits).

      5. Xandra*

        I have never heard “sausage” used as a term of endearment, but pretty sure I need to start using it now!

        1. ThatGirl*

          I’ve never asked an actual French person about this, but I was told in high school French class that “mon petit chou” – my little cabbage – is a common term of endearment there.

          1. The French Girl*

            Actual French person and I can confirm that yes, it is, but it would absolutely never ever be used in a work context, except maybe in entertainment or fashion. It would be very out of place anywhere else.

          2. SimonTheGreyWarden*

            I think of it as using, like “pumpkin” here Stateside. Or like I called my son “Potato” and sometimes “Tater Tot” when he was little.

            Never would use either at work, but they’re definitely funny terms of endearment here.

        2. Forty Years In the Hole*

          I was on a military training session, and one of the participants was a lovely British-born nurse; everyone/everything was “poor little sausage.” Just so charming.

    6. Asenath*

      It struck me as a kind of term that might be used nearly universally in some area. I can think of equivalents in my local area, although “hun” isn’t one of them. This would put in more in the “inadvertantly too casual” category than outright offensive or condescending. That doesn’t mean that OP can’t say she doesn’t want to be called “hun”, but she needs to say it, she can’t assume that the person will merely take hints, especially if OP has also used “hun”. Maybe the others who aren’t called “hun” have said they didn’t like it, or they didn’t respond with “hun” at some time in the past..

      1. pleaset cheap rolls*

        Stuff like this that is used nearly universally in all directions of hierarchy seem like no big deal.

        But in this case it’s directional – OP thinks it’s OK used on less powerful people. It that’s the common way it’s used, use of the term should be examined a lot more deeply, and perhaps it should stop.

        1. Trish*

          Whenever I hear someone use the word hon I think “tell me you’re from Maryland without actually telling me you’re from Maryland.”

    7. Sleeping Late Every Day*

      At this point, I think OP#2 should just mention that the term isn’t professional and should be retired. And I thought I caught a few whiffs of over-emphasizing how senior the OP is and what a lowly position the junior has. Maybe the junior has also noticed this. I worked in a hospital once, and one of the very young residents was barking orders to an older nurse (the other residents were respectful but friendly to the nursing staff). The nurse kept her cool and answered “Yes, dear” to every order. The resident kept looking younger and sillier with each response.

    8. Czhorat*

      I think it’s even worse from a senior person to a junior person; in general I dislike things that emphasize the power dynamic. That kind of language makes it seem that you’re trying to hammer home the message that you’re their superior.

      It feels disrespectful, in a way I’m sure the LW didn’t mean.

    9. Cj*

      OP says they called her hun “once or twice”. I believe it was *way* more than that (possibly without even realizing it, as it can become a habit) and her co-worker is doing this to show her how annoying it actually is.

      1. Amaranth*

        I also wouldn’t be surprised if the junior employee saw it as a sign of friendliness and congeniality so this is basically returning the sentiment. “Hey, we don’t just work together, we’re friends who hang out!” I think if junior wanted to make a point it wouldn’t just be the morning greeting.

    10. Washi*

      This is is interesting, on my first reading of the letter, I assumed that the junior employee had started the hun thing, OP said it back a couple times, then realized that was just as awkward and stopped.

      But on a second reading, maybe OP did it on purpose in a totally unrelated context? In which case, the OP definitely should apologize if she’s going to ask the junior employee to stop too. But I doubt the employee is doing this to make a point. When I worked in DC, I ran across several people who used hun basically universally for anyone they were friendly with.

    11. Threeve*

      I feel like the easiest non-awkward way to address it is “hey, I think we should both probably stop using ‘hun’ over chat.” We. Plural. Because they have both done it. One has been doing it more frequently than the other, but they should both stop.

    12. twocents*

      I’m a bit curious if she actually would be okay with a more senior person calling her “hun” or if she wouldn’t like it then either, but would feel like she didn’t have standing to complain.

    13. Dust Bunny*

      I was just getting on here to say this:

      “I admit I have said it to her once or twice, but it does feel different in my position.”

      It’s not.

      Don’t call anyone “hun” at work. It’s too familiar for juniors/reports to use with seniors/supervisors and it’s belittling for seniors/superiors to use with juniors/reports and it’s really just too informal all around.

      1. Weekend Please*

        It does feel different. It is the difference between being condescending and being condescend to. I really hope that if she asked her coworker to stop she also apologizes for having done it herself.

      2. A*

        Agreed. And even if it is considered regionally acceptable I generally assume most people will at some point in their career collaborate with individuals outside their region so it is a risky habit to keep up.

        I’m in a global based position, and this is something we have to coach some of our new hires on because terms like this can translate in a very uncomfortable manner (in addition to being unprofessional at best).

    14. AnonInTexas*

      Maybe I’m just a stickler, but
      NO terms of endearment in the workplace. Not Hun, not Sweetheart, not Love, none of it.
      Not unless it is someone’s preferred nickname and they’ve stated that preference. And even then, I’m not sure.

      Yes, oftentimes people have a collegial relationship with each other and agree to use some of these terms. But it can make others around them uncomfortable.

    15. Lyra Silvertongue*

      Then I would recommend never going to the UK because that’s what you’re going to get from half the people you encounter, especially in the north. I don’t see this as inappropriate or unprofessional at all, and I don’t understand why someone would kick up a stink over it.

      1. KayDeeAye*

        Maybe, but if you (generic “you,” not you personally, Lyra) don’t like being called whatever-it-is (“hun,” “sweetheart,” etc.) yourself, you definitely shouldn’t call other people that, regardless of their office ranking.

        1. Lyra Silvertongue*

          Oh yeah sorry I misread the main post – I don’t think it’s inappopriate or unprofessional to call someone ‘hun’ (I think in general we need to have more space for cultural and regional differences in speech), I do think it’s wild and unprofessional to deliberately weaponize a term you don’t like towards a younger and more junior colleague.

      2. A*

        Definitely not true across the board. I’m in a global position and have a large number of colleagues in the UK (including in the north) and this does not come up. Perhaps they use terms like this internally, but certainly not outside of that. These kinds of terms can translate very poorly and occasionally in an offensive manner. Part of being in a non-local position and organization is being culturally sensitive and minimizing opportunities for misunderstandings, things getting lost in translation or misconstrued etc.

        Obviously not everyone is in a global position, but I think this still holds true when looking at closer proximity regional differences.

        The same way that everyone in my area uses the term ‘wicked’, but not often in business settings as it’s overly casual and easy to misinterpret. Adaptability, and not taking things like this personally, is key.

    16. Middle School Teacher*

      “I admit I may have said it to her once or twice”

      I’m gonna go out on a limb and say it was more than once or twice.

    17. LTL*

      Honestly, it doesn’t seem like a weird thing to call someone in person at work though putting it in IM seems to place a weird emphasis on it.

    18. Artemesia*

      I had a colleague from Maryland who used that expression and claimed it was a local custom there — I didn’t work with her often enough for it to be worth fussing about, but if I hd to deal with it daily would have said something.

    19. Faith the twilight slayer*

      Pet names from anyone except your mom and/or your SO are creepy AF.

  4. Mrs. Hawiggins*

    I’m not a fan of “hun” either, and if I’m called that at work, it would turn me into the Atilla kind.
    The coworker just needs to be told directly that being called hun isn’t something she likes – Alison’s advice is 100% spot on. I had a coworker call me honey 3 times while explaining a spreadsheet to me and I asked her if it was time for recess yet. Ugh.

      1. Cosmicgorilla*

        Allathian, I came in here to say that!

        I never understood “hun” for “honey.” I always want to make Attila references as well. With people who type “viola!” instead of “voila!”, I always want to ask, “why not cello?”

        Completely doesn’t matter to the context of the question, but that’s where my brain goes.

    1. Rara Avis*

      I was seen by an extremely young-looking resident for an ear infection. She called me sweetie and asked when I had last had an ear infection. I was tempted to say, “Before you were born!” (A true statement) but I refrained. In truth, I was more amused than offended.

      1. PhyllisB*

        I’m a southerner and I have been called dear, sweetie, honey and the like all my life, and it doesn’t really bother me, but when a hostess at a restaurant addressed me as “Baby Girl” that just took the cake. I wanted to say, “I’m 70 years old!! Do I LOOK like a baby girl to you?”

        1. Unkempt Flatware*

          aww for some reason that endears me lol. I think I’d enjoy that and would be bemused hehe

        2. Clisby*

          I do say something like that. I despise hearing that kind of nonsense. I’m 67, and am not flattered by being called “young lady.” Especially since, in my experience, a “young lady” or “young man” is a child who’s just gotten into trouble. As in, “Listen to me, young lady/man! I’d better not ever hear that from you again!”

          1. Elizabeth West*

            To me, that sounds really patronizing. A very young store clerk called me “Miss” and then explained that he likes to say that to women his mom’s age so they feel flattered. If he’d used his damn brain (or asked his mom), he’d realize that ain’t how it works. I am not flattered that you think I look old, whippersnapper!

            1. Not So NewReader*

              “then explained that he likes to say that to women his mom’s age so they feel flattered.”

              Me: The problem is that there were a 1000 people before you who ALSO thought that this was a clever way to flatter an older person. PSA: This card has been over played and it’s time to stop. It’s not new and it’s definitely not clever. And the recipient reads it as, “I think you are old.”

              If they want to make any person feel good, how about just using basic human decency and a pleasant conversational tone.

          2. Claire*

            Ugh, I pray for the day when getting old isn’t viewed by society as something bad and shameful.

      2. Artemesia*

        I actually dropped an opthalmologist who used ‘sweetheart’ about ever 3 sentences in her interactions with me — I was older than she was, but I assume she did this to everyone. I couldn’t watch that British mystery show ‘Vera’ for the same reason — I am told it is a good show, but the constant use of this endearment got under my skin. Probably bothered me more than some because it is a term I use for my husband.

    2. Keymaster of Gozer*

      I have to admit, if I’m not paying attention I do slip into calling people ‘hun’ or ‘darlin’ (UK people – try to work out which county I’m from!) which is why at work I really, really watch what I’m saying.

      I have slipped a few times and Alison’s wording is pretty akin to what I’ve had said back to me. It’s good, not hostile and just factual that actually no, that word isn’t a good choice here.

    3. LTL*

      I had a coworker call me honey 3 times while explaining a spreadsheet to me and I asked her if it was time for recess yet.

      This is a really passive aggressive response. Why not just ask your coworker to not call you “honey” after the first time?

        1. LTL*

          If a colleague snapped at me when they could have kindly communicated their boundaries (which I would have been more than happy to oblige), it would look bad on them, not me.

  5. M*

    #2 any chance the person started calling you hun after you called her hun? It might be a way she is pointing out (passively aggressively) that hun isn’t right for the workplace.

    1. ecnaseener*

      If she was trying to make a point to get OP to stop calling her hun, she’s long since achieved that. I really doubt she’s STILL doing it to make a point that no longer needs making.

  6. Riley*

    I’d think twice about someone who had more than 2 years experience listing college jobs on their resume. Internships are fine for entry level experience but they don’t mean much after that.

    1. Anononon*

      This doesn’t make sense. It’s entirely likely that they’ve only had one position in those two years of experience post-college. So, are they only supposed to list one position on their resume?

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Right, exactly. And these college jobs can be highly relevant. If you’re, say, a reporter writing articles for the alumni magazine, you don’t need to take that off just because you hit the two-year mark. (Also, these can be jobs, not just internships.)

        1. Jackalope*

          Yes, I had one job (not an internship) that lasted through pretty much my entire college career, and had skills that gained me part of my positions in my future work. While at this point it’s been long enough that I wouldn’t include them on my resume, I definitely did the last time I applied. I also had an internship in college but I don’t think I listed it anywhere except when later hiring for that same organization; it was good experience, but part of the experience was learning that this wasn’t something I wanted to keep doing.

          1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

            Yes, when I was about 3-4 years out of college I still listed my biggest college job because I had worked my way up to managing the other student employees (scheduling, training, and even once firing), ordering supplies, etc. However, I don’t think I ever had a resume where I listed the job I had watering plants at the bio department greenhouse, because that was just a way to make a bit of textbook money.

          2. Amey*

            Yes, I had a job in college that was not a typical ‘student’ job (I was the only college student there) and was promoted and helped run the training programme in the year I worked there. I kept that job on my resume and that experience was directly relevant to both my first and second post-graduation jobs.

            1. Cranky lady*

              Yup. One of my college jobs, I was the second most senior staff member in an office of 7. I ran certain accounts and managed small projects. That stayed on my resume for a while because it was directly related to my field.

          3. Lily Rowan*

            I wasn’t promoted (it wouldn’t have been possible), and the skills weren’t transferrable, but I still think showing the same job for four years of college looked good to prospective employers for at least four years after college! When you’re hiring, you want someone reliable and who knows how to keep a job, you know?

        2. College jobs still count!*

          I spent most of my college summers back in my home town doing temp work. Like actual work that applied to offices and stuff. I think it was relevant for a couple of jobs after college. I didn’t do internships or anything. Just actual office work. No reason to have not had that on my resume. 18 years down the road of course I don’t, but 5 years down the road I found it was very reasonable to keep on my resume.

          1. SweetestCin*

            I believe I finally took my “college job” off; it was my “college job” transitioned into “first real post college job” and the skills I learned there are still quite relevant to what I do, believe it or not (frightening). The department I was in had an incredible mentor for the entry level positions, she saw our “entry level positions” as completely worthy of being taught “senior teapot designer level skills”. Why not? We’d be there someday, was her hope.

        3. TootsNYC*

          I helped a soon-to-be-graduate with her resume a few years ago, and I was pretty impressed that she’d been the one to institute an refrigerator-inventory-tracking system at her dining-hall job. Lots of the jobs and duties she had from college were indicators of systems ability, attention to detail, responsibility, workflow management….

          Maybe 8 years down, they might not be.

          My own college jobs were cleaning and being an office aide. But I didn’t consider them to be that powerful next to the other stuff (some of it from high school, actually), so I seldom used it.

      2. curiousLemur*

        For the interview for my first professional job, I was able to answer one of the questions (about dealing with annoyed customers) by talking about how I dealt with annoyed customers when I worked in fast food (I generally hadn’t annoyed the customers, by the way). So stuff can translate from one type of job to another sometimes.

    2. Fancy Owl*

      This has a similar energy to me as people who say they reject candidates over thank you notes. Not everyone receives the same advice and I think thinking twice about someone including college jobs is a bit extreme if the resume is otherwise well put together. After all, some young people are told they should include unrelated college jobs on their resumes to show that their work history is longer than two years, even if the experience is unrelated.

    3. Allonge*

      Two years? I listed my college jobs in an application when I was nine years out of college, as I had no other way to demonstrate that I worked in multinational environments. No, they did not care that I did arts and crafts with a bunch of Girl Scouts in a summer camp; yes, they did care that I did this on a different continent and with people from over a dozen countries and not in my mother tounge.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        You may also wish to demonstrate that you haven’t had any significant gaps in employment. Full time education obviously isn’t a gap, but university vacations are long enough that most people expect to fill them with something.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          So that no one worries about this: that’s not something you should expect to be an issue during school, even during breaks (or afterwards, if we’re only talking about a couple of months here and there). You really don’t need to demonstrate that you have been engaging in paid labor in every free moment :) The deal with gaps is just that you might be asked what you were doing with them if they were long, not that they’re inherently prohibitive. (I’m stressing this because somehow that’s gotten turned into people believing any resume gap could be a problem for them.)

          1. Anima*

            Thank you Allison! I went like “uhm, hello, I’m doing a CS degree with an average 46 h study week, I’m looking forward to do absolutely nothing in August!”, you worded that a lot more polite. Also, on is, in fact, immatericulated in Uni etc. during the breaks (at least where I’m from), so this is *not* a resume gap…

          2. Audrey Puffins*

            I work in education recruitment, so we’re SUPER hot on making sure gaps are accounted for, for safeguarding reasons, and even we don’t expect people to have to account for university vacation time. Gaps aren’t a problem, you just need to be able to account for them.

            1. Audrey Puffins*

              (That last sentence should have been a separate thought, really, I just realised it makes me sound like I’m contradicting myself!)

          3. General von Klinkerhoffen*

            Thanks for clarifying, Alison.

            Some people wish to show they have worked for a long time. I should not have implied that that’s what everybody ought to think.

        2. CRM*

          If you were a full-time student, I think that most prospective employers are okay with school having been your primary responsibility during that 4-year period (or whatever the time frame is). Part-time jobs during the year, internships, and summer jobs are highly valuable for additional experience, but ultimately you were there to get a degree. Also, those short breaks during the school year should be used to actually take a break! You can’t just take a vacation whenever you want during the semester, and (in my experience) you are usually working more than 40hrs a week between class and homework assignments.

      2. MissGirl*

        Right, I went from working in plumbing supply in college to book publishing after. You might not think there would be any correlation, but you’d be wrong. I got a lot of practice on how to deal with diva authors by working with diva plumbers. Every job with a client relationship aspect gives you great experience in dealing with difficult people and keeping long-term clients happy.

    4. Carol K*

      That’s poor reasoning and leads to poor hiring decisions. If you are in a position to hire, I hope you’ll seriously reconsider and reflect on what this bias says about you.

      I suspect you’re not coming from a position of a lot of experience in hiring though, or you’d already have learned how foolish this is.

    5. pleaset cheap rolls*

      “I’d think twice about someone who had more than 2 years experience listing college jobs on their resume”

      That’s bizarre. They’d probably end up just one or two jobs post-college as work history, giving the impression they’ve barely been working.

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Consider that some students pay their way through college. That’s a work ethic & resourcefulness I would want to reinforce with my hiring process. Not eliminate.

    7. Smithy*

      I think that blanket statements like this really don’t work because they don’t reflect the full gamut of what a college job can be and how that can speak to a larger resume.

      For a start there are college jobs that can directly correlate to certain areas of work – like someone who’s been an RA and then seeks work with teens/young adults whether those are gap year or other enrichment programs. My senior year, I had a job with the university hospital doing data entry – and that helped me with job hunting for a job hunts within the first 5-6 years after school.

      I think that looking at part-time college work or internships the same as full-time employment is the bigger problem. If a job description is calling for someone with 5 years of work experience, and a candidate is counting that as two years post college + three years of part time work/internships during college – that’s a miscalculation. But not listing the work on its own.

    8. Former Intern*

      When I got my current job, I was about 8 years out of college and still had a college internship or two on my resume. It turned out that the hiring manager had interned at the same place several years before me and we were able to bond over that in the interview, so I was glad it was on there! I should probably take it off now that it has been closer to 10 years and I have even more experience. But I think it was helpful at that time. And as others have said, without any internships or college jobs, I would have had only 2 jobs listed, one of which wasn’t as relevant as the college experience was.

  7. Observer*

    #1 There is a REALLY good chance that you will have other battles to fight. Because your CEO what your CEO is doing is NOT ok, and he just doesn’t get it. And the bigger problem is that not only is HR not stopping him, HR is *actively* backing him!

    Drop it. But know that your top management has some really significant problems. And “keep your powder dry”.

  8. tra la la*

    #1: Are you 100% sure that the CEO wasn’t kidding? My great-grandboss frequently makes jokes like this — it’s a shtick — and I can totally imagine our HR head playing along. It isn’t great in terms of power dynamics, but I’ve had to learn to roll my eyes internally and just disregard.

    1. tra la la*

      Hit submit too soon. That’s not to minimize the power issue at all — I was thinking in more concrete terms about whether or not you’re actually expected to buy the book.

      1. Fran Fine*

        The OP said the CEO’s response to her email was defensive – if he was joking, I imagine he would have said so.

        1. tra la la*

          See, my ggboss would have gotten defensive in response to being called out because they expect us to just know that they’re just joshing. It’s really uncomfortable because it’s this very kind of thing — i.e., not funny and actually quite problematic — and it’s taken me awhile to learn to tune it out. I still check with colleagues sometimes to make sure it’s a “just joshing” situation.

          1. Bagpuss*

            I think that as a boss, you need to learn that that kind of joke needs to be very, very obvious – if there’s any doubt at all abut whether they are just joking they shouldn’t be doing it.

            So I think that both for this CEO and your GGBoss, if they have a situation where they intended something as a joke but people took it seriously, it’s totally inappropriate for them to then get defensive, they need to own the fact that it was mis-judged, clarify that it was intended as a joke, and make sure they don’t make similar ‘jokes’ in future. Otherwise, as you say, it’s uncomfortable and unsettling for their people who aren’t them.

            Also, I think they need to be very aware that it is the most

          2. hbc*

            Well, I guess in that case, it’s not a “my boss is pressuring me to spend money on his family’s pursuits” but “my boss makes bad jokes and gets defensive if we don’t catch on.” Which means you still have a “my boss is being a jerk.”

            Plus, I’m pretty sure no one has ever made a “joke” like this without actually meaning it, and they’re just using the humor as a fig leaf.

            1. LTL*

              I don’t think tra la la was trying to defend the CEO. It’s still a crummy thing to do, but it might be easier for OP to roll their eyes and not stress about it if the CEO’s “just joking.”

              1. tra la la*

                Oh, this is absolutely what’s happening and ggboss is a problem in many ways. Ggboss wouldn’t actually expect us to buy the book though.

              2. tra la la*

                Oops, nesting weirdness. Not at all defending CEO (or my ggboss!), just suggesting thinking of it as both CEO and HR person “just joking” in order to shrug it off.

          3. allathian*

            Yeah, this whole genre of humor is very problematic and there are few things that people find more offensive than being accused of having no sense of humor.

    2. Allonge*

      Even if it was 100% serious, treating it like this is not a bad way to go. (Wow, you actually meant this? I thought you were kidding, ha ha [eyeroll]!)

    3. Keymaster of Gozer*

      It’s not outside the realm of probability but also not a statistically significant probability.

      (One small firm I worked for briefly had the CEO once ask us all to frequent the chain of adult shops he also owned. I really wish I’d kept that email)

        1. Keymaster of Gozer*

          Yes. God, that dude was creepy af. So glad he’s in prison these days.

  9. AS87*

    #1. I’m more bothered by HR going along with the CEO instead of at least telling him to respect employee choices. Seems like it foreshadows a toxic workplace.

      1. pleaset cheap rolls*


        If the CEO’s wife wrote a book and the message was “My wife wrote this – if it’s of interest to you, consider buying it through Amazon which helps with sales” AND he wasn’t abusing power in other ways, it’d be no big deal. Soft promotion with as little pressure as he can use.

        The HR chiming in was poor.

    1. bananab*

      Amazon is eerily good at sniffing out personal relationships between reviewers and self-pubbers and can wipe reviews. And since it’s likely a violation of their TOS, they can also ban the author. That banned author is effectively then banned from other outlets because no one wants someone Amazon banned. And they definitely do care more than just nabbing a couple extra sales, because they are very sensitive to perceived shenanigans on the platform.

      1. bananab*

        (I do work with self-published authors and “how do I get more reviews?” and “why was my account banned?” come up semi-frequently in those communities.)

    2. HR Exec Popping In*

      We need to remember that when it is the CEO, that is the HR person’s boss as well. I agree the HR person should not have supported the comment and encouraged good reviews but they are also dealing with a difficult power dynamic. That said, a good HR person would know not to encourage and would be able to influence the CEO on such things – but that is not always easy.

      1. Observer*

        It’s one thing that HR didn’t call the boss out. But the additional piece really is over the top.

    1. Fran Fine*

      This kind of thing happens all the time on Amazon with self-published titles (I’m assuming this is a self-pubbed work anyway – I may be wrong).

        1. MsSolo (UK)*

          Unless he’s telling everyone to return the books afterwards, they’re happy! People run out of friends and family quickly, and most people don’t have enough to compete with a traditional marketing campaign. Amazon offer tons of different subcategories with the intent that people doing this might get top ten in one precisely in order to encourage this sort of thing.

        2. Andy*

          They don’t mind it all that much either. There are massive fraud with fake rewiews going on there and they don’t do much.

      1. JohannaCabal*

        I agree. The only issue would be if CEO’s wife tried to game her way onto the NYT bestseller list like a YA author years back.

        1. WFH with Cat*

          That’s an interesting side-matter.

          I got curious about the “NYT bestseller” claim of a verrrry bad book I read recently, and found out it really is a bit of a game that publishers, marketers, agents, and authors play. The “list” (which is one of several the NYT uses/publishes) is determined thru an editorial process not based on hard sales data. In fact, the NYT was sued by a writer whose book had sold well over the required 10K books but whose book was not selected for the list — and the newspaper won the lawsuit by arguing that bestseller lists are editorial content not factual content. In other words, the newspaper picks and chooses which writers/books they want to highlight thru that list.

          There are a bazillion articles online about how it all really works — at the NFT and elsewhere — and what authors and publishers can/should do to get on the list. I suspect the YA writer you mentioned was singled out for having done what countless others have done before. It is a fundamentally unfair system that people with power have been using successfully for many years.

          Honestly, it was a bit disappointment to me to learn all this … I used to take “The NYT Bestseller” as a genuine mark of quality.

          1. pancakes*

            It wouldn’t be a genuine mark of quality even if sales were scrupulously tracked, though – at best it would be a genuine mark of popularity.

          2. Claire*

            I’m willing to bet that NY Times Book Review editors have better taste than the average American… so I think it still is a mark of quality.

    2. Allonge*

      Unless OP works in a really really really large org, they are unlikely to notice.

    3. Harper the Other One*

      I think you’re referring to the 5-star/best-seller ratings here, but the honest truth is that Amazon doesn’t care. I look at Amazon products regularly for my work and ratings are manipulated all the time. You get products with tons of 5-star ratings, none of which are from confirmed purchasers, and products with skewed averages because there’s been some sort of crusade against a particular movie/book/whatever (there are still dozens/hundreds of 1-star reviews on Captain Marvel products that basically amount to “why does Marvel have to force a female superhero down our throats?”)

      Amazon considers these ratings to be for the customer’s benefit only. They’ve made a few half-hearted efforts to fix issues with fraudulent or irrelevant reviews but only because customers protested. So unfortunately, the answer to your question is that Amazon wouldn’t even shrug at the idea of one organization’s worth of people leaving 5-star reviews that weren’t merited.

    4. pancakes*

      Several publications have written about this and/or conducted their own investigations over the years, including the Financial Times, NY Times, and Buzzfeed. It’s not as if Amazon doesn’t know this is an issue. From a 2019 Buzzfeed article:

      “Davide Nicolucci, founder and director of the Amazon marketing consulting firm Growth Hack, has been critical of black hat tactics on Amazon. He told BuzzFeed News that the marketplace has become so competitive and fraught with black hat manipulation that some sellers feel compelled to break the rules and employ these tactics.

      ‘Amazon is so slow in responding to cases, by the time Amazon resolves your issue, you’ve lost so much money you might as well do black hat,’ he said. ‘It’s crazy. It’s a war.’”

    5. Aquawoman*

      Do I really need to be concerned about the multibillion dollar juggernaut that is Amazon?

    6. RagingADHD*

      1) Many authors cultivate a large email list of “insiders” – often longtime readers, moreso than family and friends- to buy and review on the first day of lauch, to create momentum in the algorithm. This is a well known practice, and it works because the algorithm makes it work.

      2) If the author/publisher has a lot of reviews from email accounts traceable back to the author’s personal friends and family, Amazon will remove those reviews. Since there’s likely no connection between the wife’s publishing account and the husband’s employees, this is unlikely to get flagged.

      3) Amazon is not the only place where the system is gamed by organized purchases. The NYT bestseller list is so frequently gamed by bulk self-purchases, it’s not even news.

    7. Jennifer*

      I highly doubt they care. People do this all the time, not just on Amazon. I’ve read articles about publishers buying copies of their author’s books to get them on the bestseller’s list.

    1. Save the Hellbender*

      I’m from a big city in the South, and I’ve heard “hon” used in a genuine, non-condescending way between peers (always women FWIW) in a lot of places – my hairdresser, for instance, calls me and all her coworkers hon. I totally get why it bothers OP2, but I wouldn’t assume malicious intent or disrespect!

      1. SAinthebooks*

        Yeah, I was going to say that “hun” reads as a very Southern thing to me. I had a landlady call me “hun” — or, I think maybe “honey”? — once. It’s weird if you’re not from around here, but people don’t mean anything by it.

      2. Sleepless*

        Same. I’m from a small town in Georgia and I still hear it a good bit in Atlanta. I honestly don’t think much of it when women say it. On the other hand, I had words for the male cashier 10 years younger than me who managed to call me “sweetheart” four times.

    2. Joan Holloway*

      This was instantly my thought. Geographical vernacular. It probably shouldn’t be used in an office, but it is forgivable.

    3. Coffee Owlccountant*

      1000% assumed Baltimore, after four years living with my favorite college roommate who called literally everyone that. It’s definitely a regional thing. That doesn’t mean it’s appropriate for the office, of course, but if Jr hails from Bawlmore it’s just a readjustment, not anything malicious.

      I’m born and raised western PA and I still apparently say my questions incorrectly and sometimes call our robovac a “sweeper”.

  10. miscellaneous1099*

    Please make sure your freelance rate is set at an appropriately high subcontractor fee to account for having to pay self-employment taxes and other expenses. Don’t make it cheaper for them to have you “freelance” than to hire you back and reinstate your benefits.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      This! Make them cover your overhead, and dont even consider it an increase. There’s been advice here before about setting freelance /contractor rates. They’re significantly higher than an employee’a rates because of all the add-on things they’ll no longer pay for. Right on down to unemployment insurance.

    2. Freeduh*

      Yes, agreeing as well! Your rate should at MINIMUM be equal to the total cost of your salary+benefits. In fact, it should be a bit higher so that they have a reason to hire you back. Please don’t let them act like they are doing you a favor.

      1. HR Exec Popping In*

        Yes, many freelance folks don’t realize they should base their hourly rate off off salary, a percent of benefit costs and a few percentage points for payroll taxes. You can google typical benefit loads to get a general understanding of the ranges – which are broad – but I would assume at least 30% of salary.

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

      Agreed. And OP should also realize that she has the leverage to set ALL work parameters in this relationship. They CANNOT treat her like an employee — set her schedule, require her to work on site, set/approve her vacation or sick leave, etc. I know that after being laid off, the impulse is to do anything to get rehired, but by bringing her on freelance rather than rehire, THEY give up the benefit of having an employee at their beck and call.

    4. Mid*

      Yup. Freelance rate should be at least salary + benefits + overhead + 30% taxes.

      So if your take home pay is $40,000, your hourly rate is ~$20. Lets say benefits are worth $500/month, working from home costs $100/month, that’s another $7,200 a year. Adding on 30% for taxes, your freelance rate should be at least $31/hour, assuming a 2000 hour work year. Given that it’s freelancing and you likely won’t get nearly the same number of hours, you should probably ~double that number again, for $60/hour freelancing, if you want to stay close to your current take home pay of $40k.

  11. General von Klinkerhoffen*

    LW4 – when I returned to an employer without having worked for anyone else in between, I negotiated to have them consider it an uninterrupted period of employment. That later became crucial for qualifying for the company pension before it closed. It also made my CV look cleaner.

    (in my case it was to do with a cross-country move – the similarity with the LW is that it was circumstantial rather than a deliberate choice to part ways, and the decision to go “back” was positive and mutual)

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

      Curious how this works with things like background checks? as the fact is that the employment wasn’t continuous and there was an unaccounted for “gap” regardless of what the company considers it to be.

      1. doreen*

        I’m guessing that it works similarly to how it works at employers that offer very long unpaid leaves – for example, one of my employers allowed up to 4 years unpaid for a first childcare leave and up to 3 years unpaid for subsequent children. *You could stack them, so I knew of people who were on unpaid leave for five or six years. I would assume that if I had started in say 1990 and took childcare leave from 1994-2000, worked another 2 years and left in 2002 that the records would have my dates of employment as 1990-2002 just as taking a one month unpaid leave wouldn’t show as an employment gap in their records.

        * Yes, it was in the US and I worked there in the late 80s-early 90s.

      2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        Background checks aren’t exactly a thing in my country for most jobs (except e.g. criminal records checks for certain jobs, and that’s highly regulated so for instance a shop owner can’t request one for his new cashier but a principal must request one for a new teacher). In any case, they could in all truth say “Gen v Klink started with us on [earlier date]”.

        It was more that they kept my start date for internal purposes, and sort of recategorised the intervening period as an unpaid sabbatical or something. It was less than two months in total, so might be a different thing for LW, particularly if their jurisdiction does not support it.

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

      Curious how this works with things like background checks? as the fact is that the employment wasn’t continuous and there was an unaccounted for “gap” regardless of what the company considers it to be.

    3. Keymaster of Gozer*

      I can understand that. I’m holding onto my final salary pension via similar means.

    4. Fran Fine*

      when I returned to an employer without having worked for anyone else in between, I negotiated to have them consider it an uninterrupted period of employment.

      I worked for a major insurance company that does this automatically, no negotiation required (and even if you left voluntarily). They have a ton of boomerang employees because of it.

  12. 0870GS*

    #4 – see if you can get a copy of the company policy on this, if there is one. An old firm of mine would treat an absence as an employee of less than a year as a non event in terms of comp, benefits and any tenure related policies. Other companies may have a different time limit and it may be worth being aware of it before going through the rehire process.

  13. LDN Layabout*

    But it feels purposefully condescending

    Alison’s advice is great, but also examine for yourself why it feels ‘purposefully condescending’ when your colleague (not your report, even though they’re less senior than you) does it and ‘different’ when you do it.

    1. funkydonut*

      Yes, this stuck out to me, too. Perhaps since they report to the same person, the colleague feels they’re equals. (Though constant “huns” would still drive me crazy from an equal-level colleague, honestly.)
      But it doesn’t read as condescending to me – it just reads as overly familiar/someone thinking we’re closer than we are. And inappropriate for work, no matter what.

  14. Don’t call me hun*

    #2 I was totally on board until you also said you call this person “hun.” Nope. It’s a work place and you don’t get to call someone “hun” because you feel you are superior to them and then be upset when they also call you “hun.” If you understand how obnoxiously patronizing that is and regret it then for sure it makes sense to tell the other person you realize your previous reference to them is inappropriate and that “hun” is no longer on the table I will get behind that. But nope. Don’t call people hun as a power move. It’s annoying. If I were taking to the other person I would say 100% you don’t have to deal with someone calling you hun. But also I would not personally reciprocate by saying the same to you. But I’m a bit more calculated than some people. Sounds like she legit might be calling you “hun” because she thinks it’s an ok thing. Why would she not? You’re senior and you say it.

    1. Don’t call me hun*

      Sorry for sounding harsh but also omg I have spent so much of my career being called things like “hun.” Legit yesterday after almost 20 years in my industry an older lady called me “baby girl.” Like come on. I am a manager with a masters degree and I’m smart. Also I am not young. While I sometimes enjoy that people assume I’m 35 rather than 43, and a baby face isn’t worst as I get older, it’s super annoying to have people talk down to me no realize it’s different because I’m legit in a higher position than these people, but I’ve been dealing with it my whole career. Also I don’t loom 25. Looking 35 is a whole different non “hun” or “baby girl” situation in my opinion. But also ugh for people who think hin or baby girl are appropriate it’s usually women keep other women down without realizing they are doing it.

      1. Don’t call me hun*

        Sorry for the typos. My iPhone usually has a mind of its own. Hope they aren’t too difficult to navigate

      2. T*

        I am 25, and if someone called my baby girl (at work or socially, but also AT WORK?) I would promptly throw up on their shoes.

        1. Bean Counter Extraordinaire*

          I work with a woman (late 50s/early 60s) who calls another woman (probably mid-50s?) baby girl ALL. THE. TIME. and it makes me a little queasy just hearing it!

        2. Allonge*

          I think the cutoff for baby girl is like 3 years old. If sufficiently irritated, my answer could be ‘only Master gets to call me that’.

          1. JustaTech*

            I call my 18 year old cat that, but she’s a *cat*, not a human, and certainly not a coworker!

            (In my mind I have called people “honey child” or “sweet summer child” when I was really frustrated with them, but only in my head, not out loud.)

      3. Crabby Patty*

        I guess you missed the part where the LW said it wouldn’t bother her if her co-worker used “hon” only occasionally. But co-worker says it all the time, apparently, and that seems to be the origin of the LW’s annoyance.

        Also, what is the word “legit”? Is it short for “legitimate/-ly”?

        1. twocents*

          Technically yes, but it can also be used as a form of adding emphasis, like DCMH did here.

        2. Don’t call me hun*

          Thanks for checking, but in spite of my phone’s love of autocorrect making it seem like I don’t have a grasp on the English language, my reading comprehension skills are fine. I’m just saying if someone called me “him” it would annoy me and I don’t consider it appropriate at all. And if someone called me that I might use it back. Again, don’t call me “hun.”

          And “legit” is generally accepted for emphasis so nitpicking it seems excessively pedantic.

          I stand by my original sentiment.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      My under-caffeinated media-saturated brain keeps playing a line out of Mulan: “Let’s get down to business and defeat the Huns!”
      On a more serious not, there have been two times in my career where I have resorted to using the word boy to refer to a coworker. Both times, it was in immediate reply to my team being called “the girls”. One time the engineer sputtered to my manager who raised an eyebrow and replied “and what did you say just before that?” It did not recur.

  15. Akcipitrokulo*

    OP1 – you need to have the backing of a union. You also need to have joined one *before* CEO or HR act against you (if they do) as unions can only help with problems that arose while you are a member.

    Unions that include the charity sector include Unison, Unite, Prospect (science & specialists), GMB and Community.

    Please get protection. If things go sideways, you want someone to pay for your lawyer at the very least! and thye do offer a lot more besides. I’m in Unite personally.

    1. Anonnie*

      Unions are great but this is not something that requires a union. OP can just ignore it.

      1. Akcipitrokulo*

        Not yet.

        But if there is any kind of retaliation – and there are enough red flags that there might be – it may be a situation for one. And if not in one when they do (legally questionable thing) then it’s too late to get their representation if you then join.

        And being in a union is a good thing anyway!

        Also… you often don’t need them to bring in the big guns. Being able to have your rep call you for a quick chat and get the expert opinion on situation is very helpful.

        Not to mention the reaction in making someone back off. I had a potential issue brewing – I asked manager (in simple, information-gathering tone) “Should I bring my union rep along?”

        Suddenly there wasn’t really a need for meeting and the issue went away :)

        1. pleaset cheap rolls*

          Unions are great but the “if” and “might” are working hard in your comment.

          1. Akcipitrokulo*

            Youbwear a seatbekt so you’re safer *if* you are in an accident.

            Doesn’t mean if is working hard in advice to clunk click…

            If there is retaliation – you’re covered.

            If all is fine – all is good. And other benefits!

            1. pleaset cheap rolls*

              You you wear safety glasses walking in the street? You *might* get hit by a flying object and *if* you do you’ll be ready.

            2. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Move on from this debate please!

              (I agree this is far from territory where the OP needs to be planning on taking any kind of action whatsoever. Ignore the email. That will almost certainly be the end of it.)

      2. Bagpuss*

        It doesn’t need a union right now, but it would be sensible for OP to join one anyway, not least because one thing this incident shows is that the CEO has boundary issues and the HR is not great, so the risk of incidents where she might want support in future is definitely there.

        And anyway, there’s literally no downside to her joining a union (OP is in the UK, it’s possible to be a member of a union which is not explicitly linked to a particular workplace, and being a union member is a protected right so it is unlawful for employers to dismiss or treat an employee less favourably because they are a union member. There’s a a right to have your union rep. with you in certain meetings, such as if you are being considered for redundancy or subject to disciplinary procedures, and they normally have free or reduced cost legal advice and support for their members )

        1. Akcipitrokulo*

          And you don’t need to tell anyone you’re in a union until/if you want to.

          Technically the few quid a month are a “downside” but it’s not much, and there are financial benefits.

          But zero workplace downsides and so worth the insurance.

          1. UKDancer*

            Definitely. It’s always worth joining a union if you’re in the UK. You may not need it but, like a seatbelt, it’s a good thing to have in case.

            Also they provide other services, e.g. I got my will made for free because the union was running an offer and I’ve had some great deals on shopping vouchers.

            1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

              yeah my brother moaned like hell at having to pay for the union (closed shop) but then when he was made redundant he admitted that they really stepped up and negotiated hard for him.

          2. allathian*

            Yeah, same thing here in Finland. There’s a fee, but it’s 100 percent tax deductible, and if you ever need an employment lawyer, you get some consultations for free and a lot of help at a hefty discount, and you can also get a discount for other things you might need a lawyer for that aren’t directly related to employment, like making a will. I switched unions when I got my current job, but the one I was a member of before provided really great discounts on travel insurance.

    2. hbc*

      I like unions, but if there isn’t one already, I doubt you’ll be able to get people to rally based on this incident as the tipping point. It’s just not that big a deal–I consider it in line with the new boss who gave a presentation about his horses. Completely obtuse and out of touch, but unless and until there’s blowback for single digit book sales, not really actionable.

      1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        It is, from what I understand, a good bit of work to unionize. I certainly wouldn’t feel moved to put in that work by this incident. It’s just not worth the trouble.

        1. Akcipitrokulo*

          10 min online to pick a union & sign up & few quid a month direct debit. I get impression harder in US, but dead easy in UK.

      2. UKDancer*

        I think as the OP for this is in the UK you don’t need to get other people to do anything. If you want to join a union you just join the union (which is a thing some of us would recommend to everyone). I don’t think you need to get other people to join as well in the way you do in the US. You can join whichever union represents your sector.

        1. Bagpuss*

          That’s correct. Employer can officially ‘recognise’ a specific union which would normally mean that the union has a place at the table to negotiate on things like pay or contract changes, so it’s normally going to make sense for that to be the union you join, but you an join a union regardless of whether one is officially ‘recognised’ by your employer, and regardless of which union other employees are in.

          Some unions (Equity, for instance) are limited to particular trades and sectors, others, such as the GMB accept members from any field.

          You don’t need to persuade (or even tell) anyone else (Obviosuly if you were in a situation where you wanted your Union rep with you at a meeting with your employer, you’d need to tell your employer at that point, but other than that it’s completely up to you!)

          1. doreen*

            Ok, I’m coming at this from the perspective of someone in the US who has been a member of unions in the past – and although I’ve seen statements like this before, it’s not clear to me what the benefits are of belonging to a union that the employer doesn’t recognize and that doesn’t negotiate contracts. Unless it’s something like the organizations for local and state government managers I’ve seen in the US – they can seek to persuade the employer to do something or lobby the legislature to do something , they can get discounts on a variety of services and they can even be with you in a disciplinary meeting – but there isn’t any sort of negotiation or even a contract

            1. Akcipitrokulo*

              Two main areas of help if company doesn’t have formal relationship with union (where they do negotiate contracts – mostly public sector these days) – various discounts & offers, and representation & legal advice.

              If you get a disciplinary, you have right to have your union rep there. They will talk you through everything and give advice in advance.

              If you have messed up to point you’re probably going to get sacked, they’ll negotiate best possible severance.

              If you are being treated unlawfully, they’ll arrange legal representation. If you need to go to a tribunal, they will pay any costs involved.

              Discounts/offers may include free legal services like wills, discounted credit cards or mortgages, car insurance – also some have counselling or training.

            2. Akcipitrokulo*

              When company was pressuring me to change hours, and wanted to meet about it, I asked “should I have my union rep with me?”.

              Subject was dropped.

      3. Akcipitrokulo*

        OP is in the UK. Not sure how works in US, but here there is no need to unionise the whole/part of workplace.

        You just go online, pick one, sign up & arrange a direct debit (sliding scale based on income – I get paid well and it’s under £20, but starts a lot lower).

        No-one ever need to know if you don’t want them to (and trade union membership is specifically protected in equality legislation).

        So yeah, if you had to go round rallying support, might not be worth it – but 10 min online & a few quid a month? Yep, it’s worth it.

  16. Akcipitrokulo*

    OP2 – if you want her to stop calling you “hun”, you have to apologise for doing it to her. ​

    ​”…but it does feel different in my position.” – because you are senior? Older?

    I can hear Chidi saying “OK, but that’s WORSE. You do get how that’s worse, right?”

    You are in a position of authority, even if not directly in her chain.

    Maybe she’s pointing out to younthat that language is not ok! Maybe she is assuming that that is a business norm because *you told her it was*.

    Say something like “hey, I need to talk to you about calling each other hun. First, I need to apologise for calling you hun in first place – can we go back to using names as it’s not ideal in work situation?”

  17. Jeanne*

    Argggghhhh!! How often have I heard from people in power: “No one else has complained” / commented, is concerned etc?
    Of course they haven’t!!! They’re all too scared of your reaction and any repercussions.

    1. disconnect*


      TO ME



      1. cmcinnyc*

        Sigh. As my department’s designated complainer, I feel your capital letters, and I offer you a virtual cup of tea.

        At this point, we’ve formalized it: tell me, and I’ll stick my neck out with the brass. Because I can. And more to the point: I will. But is not always a barrel of laughs.

        1. JustaTech*

          Yup. Why do we still have a Cinco de Mayo party (not this year, obs)? Because I used up my capital on making our “winter holiday” party not a straight-up Christmas party.

          “But no one’s complained!”
          Of course not, if you complain you get stuck with being on the party committee. And/or grumbled at by your coworkers who are totally fine with a Christmas party/gift of a ham/ think it’s fine to wear a sombrero and giant fake mustache. (We have a mustache holiday! It’s November!) You’re “no fun” “can’t take a joke” “too sensitive”.

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

      Yeah, my response is “I’m complaining. I’m a person; I count. Count me as a complaint.”

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

    OP1 (wife’s book) – This is against Amazon’s policy and they can potentially take action up to throwing the seller out of their program. There’s probably a way to report a seller…

    1. Metadata minion*

      It’s against their policy but it’s also really, really common; I highly doubt Amazon is actually going to do anything about it.

      1. Fran Fine*

        This – I know for a fact they won’t as I’m a part of the self-publishing community and know many people who have self-pubbed books and got everyone they ever met to do exactly what the CEO is trying to get his company to do. Amazon is not checking for this issue.

    2. I'm just here for the cats*

      I wouldn’t report her to Amazon. It’s the husband who is doing this. We don’t know if the wife even knows or asked! It could Bert we’ll be that the husband is all worried that his wife’s book sucks, doesn’t want her hopes crashed and is desperately asking everyone to do this without her knowledge. It could very be that she would be mortified if she found out.

    3. pally*

      Sure! Just write the review to include statements like:
      ” Incredible read! The author should be proud of her work. I’m so glad my boss (the author’s spouse) ordered me to buy this book-as many copies as possible! I couldn’t be happier with my purchases.”

    1. Madame X*

      bing bang bong, sing sang song, ding ding dong, UK HUN !

      One of the few times that RPDR actually produced a hit song!

  19. Forrest*

    LW3, if part of your job is finding solutions and offering options, do you also do something like a needs analysis / exploration with your clients before you start offering solutions? Things like, “What have you tried already?” “How much do you know about XX?” “Do you know where you’d find that information?”

    (ok, that was the questioning part, normally I would wait for your answer before moving onto solutions, and they would be BETTER solutions because now I’d know more about the problem! :) )

    These are all part of active listening, and help you engage with the problem in more depth. This might not be relevant for your day job, if the problems tend to be relatively straight-forward and there’s a focus on solving them quickly, but they’re a good way to expand your active listening skills in other situations.

    1. Mockingjay*

      OP 3, consider your audience, too, when listening and presenting solutions.

      Clients/consumers: follow @Forrest’s advice on needs exploration. Tried and true.

      Coworkers/peers/friends: follow Alison’s advice and ask – do ya just need to vent or do you need help? [90% of the time, it’s vent ;-) ]

      Boss/manager/director: hear them out completely, then ask what you can help with. When Boss says X, that’s where you apply your suggestions. You are correct that senior level people don’t always need solutions, they might simply be providing context for a task they’re giving you.

      Listening with problem solving is a learned skill. I’m pretty good at the first and third scenarios I listed, but I still struggle with the second. Just keep working at it.

      1. Forrest*

        Actually, I find it works pretty well with peers, friends and family too — obviously you wouldn’t ask the same questions, but, “has he always been like this?” “ugh, and what does school say?” “what a nightmare! Are you going to put in a complaint?” and things like that really signal that you’re engaging with what they’re saying and also help you figure out the size/scope of the problem and whether they’re looking for solutions or just ranting. I also do this with my managers if it’s a 1-1 conversation.

  20. Keymaster of Gozer*


    Alison’s words of “ When your job is to help find solutions to problems, it can be very easy to go into that mode by default” are like a beacon of truth here.

    I work in IT where it’s my job to fix things or repair them before they break down. I…find it hard to speak to people when they’re ranting or complaining about something outside of that (like emotional issues, family issues) immediately try to offer solutions – which has caused a few disagreements between me and my friends, my family, husband, coworkers..

    I’m working on a lexicon of more appropriate responses, like “that sounds hard” etc – to express I’ve heard but I’m not offering a solution or anything. It’s…one of the things I read this site for: I’m not great at emotions.

    For work issues that I’m not qualified to fix (I’ve heard enough rants from Finance!) I tend to keep silent if at all possible. If I think a bit of software I have a few spare licenses for might help I’ll offer it but otherwise I know I’m not really going to be appreciated if I butt in.

    (Side note: plz give IT some more budget you guys, I can’t have 99% uptime with bottle caps)

    1. Ray Gillette*

      When it comes to not trying to solve problems that aren’t mine to solve, I compartmentalize by thinking about what is and isn’t in my scope to fix. It’s not even so much about qualifications as knowing where to draw the line for myself as much as them. I can’t fix someone’s computer if the problem is that the power in the whole building is out, it’s not physically possible for me to fix that. Likewise, I can’t fix their relationship with their dad if the problem is their dad is being unreasonable.

      1. AnonAnon*

        With some work audiences, a good question to ask is, “Would you like me to take any action related to this problem?”

    2. Crabby Patty*

      Sounds like you know how to maintain healthy boundaries, Keymaster. That’s a highly admirable quality in a person.

    3. Filosofickle*

      A few years ago, I realized that the exact skills that make me amazing at work — being highly critical/analytical, solving problems, intuiting whole stories about people out of single data points — are, more often than not, counter-productive socially. It’s so hard to unwind that.

    4. Andy*

      I think that the key is to realize that you are as unqualified to help with those personal/emotional problems as with the work problems you are silent about. And that is probably why people get angry on your suggestions too – you act as if you had solutions, but you know very little about that situation and likely very little about their exact kind of problem.

      A lot of common stock advice about emotional and personal problems are things that sound good … unless you are actually in that situation and find out advice is nonsense.

  21. Mannheim Steamroller*


    Write a review on Glassdoor from the perspective of a colleague:
    “The CEO has ordered everybody to buy his wife’s book (at our expense) and HR has demanded positive reviews, both to artificially inflate its ranking. One of my coworkers complained and got shut down because nobody else had complained (presumably because everybody else was afraid to).”

    Then write a similar review on Amazon from the perspective of a colleague:
    “The author’s husband is the CEO of the charity I work for. He has ordered all of us to buy this book (at our expense) and HR has demanded positive reviews, both to artificially inflate its ranking. This is that review.”

    1. traffic_spiral*

      Yes, do this – but only if you can feel reasonably sure you won’t be penalized.

    2. Sleeping after sunrise*

      This response is a bit over the top.

      The CEO shouldn’t be promoting the book at work. HR shouldn’t be asking people to leave positive reviews. They are in positions of power and those dynamics are at play. They should be mindful of that.

      But I think “demanding” and “ordering” are over the top characterisations of what has occurred.

      Writing Glassdoor reviews and negative Amazon reviews is a petty response. Really, OP would be potentially burning bridges with that company just for the benefit of feeling self righteous. If there’s any repercussions because book sales are low that’s an entirely different matter.

      But right now, I’m betting what they see happened is that CEO shared something exciting in their life, totally ignoring the dynamics of being boss. HR responded as a friendly colleague (again ignoring the dynamics). Neither was likely issuing an order.

      OP your best option is to just move on. You’ve pointed out the dynamics, they disagree. To harp on it, or follow up will reflect more on you than then at this point given it is a single isolated incident.

      1. Czhorat*

        I agree with Allison in that this is not the battle worthy of fighting. Unless it’s part of a larger set of issues then it’s best to shrug it off as a thoughtless and unreasonable thing the CEO did, laugh about it, and get on with your life.

        If it IS part of a larger problematic culture, then look for ways out. But there’s no point in escalating THIS petty abuse of power.

      2. Mannheim Steamroller*

        By definition, the CEO and from HR are powerful enough that their words are perceived as orders (and thus become orders).

        1. Sleeping after sunrise*

          The culture is very different where I am. I would take this as – someone enthusiastically promoting a book. Not something likely to lead to disciplinary action or career trouble if I just – don’t.

          I get these sorts of emails all the time (vote for blah in the people’s choice award / blah is on the news tonight make sure you tune in etc). I just ignore them. Or if I’m interested – take a look.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      Please don’t put that on Amazon. The author may not know her husband is doing this and she’s the one who will get the backlash.

  22. bryanjonker*

    To add to that… (and hope this doesn’t duplicate)

    Deborah Tannen talks about language as either building status or connection. By going into problem mode, you lose that ability to built rapport with that person. Having shared experiences (“oh, you stubbed your toe, I stubbed my toe last week and it hurt, so I know what you are feeling”) builds connections and makes it seem less like you are on a hierarchy with one person controlling the other and more on equal footing.

    I’m also not good at emotion, but I can emulate a person pretty well.

  23. I'm just here for the cats*

    Does no one use hun as a general term and not in a romantic way? Like hiya hun how was your weekend?

    Ive worked in customer service and Hun, or dear were good, general he set neutral terms. Even in my job now, if a client (student counseling) comes in I ight call them dear especially if they are waiting. For example one person was waiting for a counselor, they were upset. I went over to them and said dear If you come with me you can complete paperwork and the n the counselor can see you.

    1. Metadata minion*

      I think it’s pretty strongly regional/cultural. In my workplace, pet names like that are very much Not a Thing other than possibly in-jokes among people who are friends outside of work. In some other parts of the country, I’d almost expect to get a “hon” in a customer service setting.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Yeah – I counted once, and on a 1.5 hour layover in the Atlanta airport, I got four “hon”, three “sweetie”, and one honest to god “honey child.” (That last from a lady selling me a fried chicken biscuit, no less. I was like “My Midwestern ass is definitely in the South today.”)

        1. I'm just here for the cats*

          That’s odd because I’m from Minnesota and I hear Hon all the time.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          Off-topic but now I want to know where I can get a fried chicken biscuit in ATL.

          1. Solana*

            Ooh, me too please! I use that airport often on the way to the Atlantis and I LOVE biscuits!

    2. Sutemi*

      If this is just the way you talk, then it an be OK but I personally find it annoying. It is definitely not done in some cultures and done in others.
      One key is that you have to treat everyone the same with pet names: men and women, senior and junior employees, young and old, all ethnicities.

      1. Anononon*

        Huh, is it a Philly thing? I’m from the Philly area, and I’ve been reading through the comments, finding it interesting because I don’t find it that offensive or grating (but other pet names, yeah….)

      2. Just Another Zebra*

        I live just outside Philly, and it can def be a thing! Although we’re more likely to just call every person/ place/ thing “jawn” and be done with it (I hate that word, FYI). There’s definitely a regional factor to this letter.

    3. Sleeping after sunrise*

      Where I work that’s be odd. Bit that doesn’t mean its odd everywhere.

      I’ve noticed my sister uses generalised endearments that in my head are overly personal. But we live and work in different communities. When I visit her, she fits in to the norm. Is probably sound incredibly rude and distant with my go tos.

    4. ecnaseener*

      No one’s saying it’s strictly romantic (at least I haven’t seen anyone say that) — I would also expect a parent to call their child hun. Still not the right dynamic to emulate with colleagues!

      1. I'm just here for the cats*

        I wasnt saying that it was STRICTLY romantic. It just seems like a lot of the comments were against using hun and I was trying to point out that for some people Hon is a go to name that can have no sexual connection.

        1. ecnaseener*

          Yeah….it doesn’t have a sexual connotation, just an affectionate, condescending connotation aka parent/child.

        2. Heather*

          I don’t think people dislike it because it’s sexual in any way. It’s just slightly condescending, like calling a grown man you don’t know very well “sport” or “buddy”.

    5. New Job So Much Better*

      Yes, in Baltimore it’s used all the time, to refer to pretty much anyone. There’s even an annual “Hun Fest.”

    6. Archaeopteryx*

      In areas where it isn’t a pre-existing regionalism, it’s also becoming associated with women who are members of MLMs. As in, “Hey hun! Haven’t talked to you in years! Anyways do you want to get involved in my scammy business?”

      I can definitely see it being casual or not noteworthy in some regions, but in places where people don’t usually say it, it comes across as cloying. But this definitely doesn’t seem like the biggest deal to correct in the workplace – yes it’s not ideal, and OP can definitely ask her to stop using it (no not without a dodging that she’s used it herself! It would be super weird not to!) but it seems on the minor end of things you shouldn’t say at work, not nearly as problematic as most casual/gendered nicknames.

    7. Paulina*

      I’d be far less surprised with it being said in passing, as ornamentation, or in situations where it’s being said in place of an unknown or changeable name (eg. customer service). The coworker of OP2 is texting it, though, which to me makes its use seem heavier.

    8. Nightengale*

      I am still, 25 years later, angry with the nurse who asked me “are you stressed, dear?” at my college Student Health Center. I felt infantilized, dismissed and disrespected, and use of “dear” definitely added to that rather than making me feel comfortable. This was just one symptom of the problems with our Student Health Center, and I later interviewed other people about their experiences for a senior anthropology class titled, “Are you stressed, dear, or are you just pregnant?”

      Shortly after college, I finally flat out asked a nurse at my doctor’s office to stop calling me “dearie.” She said she did it to everyone, including elderly people, but I again felt infantilized, dismissed and disrespected.

      I would strongly recommend erring on the side of not calling people “dear” in health care/mental health care settings, especially working with students who may feel like they aren’t being seen as adults.

    9. Ari*

      I’ve not really heard it around New England, except for use by some female food service workers in coffee shops.

      To me, “hun” definitely has an overly familiar and possibly romantic connotation. I would never think of using it to refer to coworkers or even other people I know.

  24. Oh hello*

    OP1- just a note that you may want to reconsider how you view and treat women who are younger than you in the workplace. It sounds like you’re a senior assistant and are very resentful of this person who is “junior, several levels below, much less industry experience, only 24”. I realize it could have been to add a lot of context, but you told us several times in your letter exactly how you’re “above” this person you don’t even manage. It also sounds like you started calling her hun to really make her feel as junior as you see her and, understandably, regret that now that she started doing the same. After having a conversation with her and not using hun anymore yourself, you might take a really hard look at if there are other things you might be doing to make this woman feel as beneath you as you describe. There were women who were “much more senior, with much more industry experience” when I was only 24 and new to the working world who were downright cruel to me. Coincidentally, their careers seemed to stall out at some point. Now that I’m in my 30s and have had a lot of career growth myself, I try to be very conscious of how I treat the women behind me who are just starting out. After a decade of experience, I’ve realized there’s always going to be someone younger, taller, prettier— who cares? There’s room for all of us to succeed.

  25. Lunchtime caller*

    OP2, I think the advice is spot on, but also want to flag that you sound very insecure about your position. All this near paranoia about if she’s being malicious when you can’t name a single other mean or condescending thing she’s done, you seem fine with the nickname IRL but not in messages, and you used it first! I’d investigate why you feel so insecure (perhaps a boss that doesn’t appreciate you enough? A sexist workplace?) and address that, instead of over analyzing messages from the well meaning.

  26. Elliot*

    I had a client who inappropriately called me hun, dear, and babe repeatedly, including in emails, and some of the advice I got (advice that I wasn’t brave enough to take) was to call him pet names back to highlight how odd this is.
    OP2, stop perpetuating the idea that young women at work need to be okay with being patronized and subjected to pet names. If it makes you uncomfortable, you need to absolutely stop condescending to younger employees as well. Your years of experience don’t matter here. Sounds like this young woman offered you the stellar gift of recognizing how inappropriate this is!

  27. Jam Today*

    LW2 I feel alone in the world for thinking this but the junior employee’s use of the word “hun” is 100% passive aggressive revenge for the OP *doing it to her first*, and its absolutely hilarious. I strongly approve.

    1. pancakes*

      You’re not the only person here to have considered it! A couple commenters have mentioned it and it seems like a distinct possibility. And yes, if that’s what’s going on, good for her.

      1. Captain of the No Fun Department*

        This was my thought exactly! I used to have a manager who was 75 to my 30 who, even though I had a manager title myself, insisted on calling me “kiddo”. I adored him as a manager, but I still would have been absolutely delighted to turn that around on him occasionally.

  28. BRR*

    #1 hats off to number 1 for speaking up! At this point I’d probably just ignore it. Maybe let some coworkers know casually that you spoke up (I’m going to assume 0 people are happy about this). And if it comes up again you can say “I bought the number of copies my budget will allow” which is 0 because you didn’t have a budget line for buying your ceos book.

    1. pancakes*

      I think it’s unlikely the CEO is going to try to pursue this further, but if asked it would be fine to say, “no, that doesn’t fit in my budget right now,” or “no, I already have too many books in my to-be-read pile,” or whatnot. It’s a pushy enough question that any old excuse will do.

  29. Colette*

    #3 – I used to work in tech support, and one of my colleagues really wanted to help the people who called – i.e. make sure he’d checked everything on our side before he called in another team. The problem was that once he hit a 90% possibility that the problem is elsewhere, he was delaying the solution by trying to confirm the last 10% – and this was in an industry where minutes mattered.

    So, when you try to help with issues that aren’t yours to solve, are you speeding up a resolution or delaying it? Are you taking time away from the job you’re getting paid to do to work on problems that are supposed to fall elsewhere? Do you have the expertise to solve the problem?

    It can help to channel your desire to be helpful to suggesting where to route the problem (i.e. “Oh, that sounds like an IT thing, have you opened a ticket?”, “In the past when I’ve had problems like that, Julie in Marketing knew what to do”).

  30. Shhhh*

    LW #5 – I included two jobs I had in grad school on my CV during my last job search (at age 28, 4 years post grad school). They were directly relevant to the positions I was applying to and showed I had experience working in an area that I hadn’t had the opportunity to work in during my first professional job but would be useful in the jobs I was applying to. Based on the feedback I got during the interview for the job I’m now in, it was for sure the right course of action.

  31. Jennifer*

    #2 I think it’s possible that there’s no passive aggression involved. They both made mistakes. The OP needs to apologize and correct this employee. Simple.

    1. SomebodyElse*

      I promise this isn’t nitpicky of your word choice (well it kind of is) but more of my take on the content and feel of the LW’s comments.

      I think ‘correct’ is the wrong word here, the LW isn’t the manager in the dynamic. And I’m not sure if the “Senior” thing is real or is a perceived elevation in the LW’s mind. (I kind of think it’s the latter). But I’d be wary of advising this OP to ‘correct’ anybody. The tone is off and I think is part of the problem for the LW. They already feel superior to this coworker, so I would be more inclined to advise them to apologize and “ask the employee to stop using hun”

      1. Jennifer*

        I hear you. Correct does sound like a kindergarten teacher talking to their students. She just needs to tell her she doesn’t like being called hun at work and apologize for inappropriately using it herself in the office.

      2. Crabby Patty*

        I took Jennifer’s use of “correct” as “make things right,” not to correct a person.

        I think it’s far more generous to give people the benefit of the doubt than to bother with semantics.

        1. SomebodyElse*

          Yeah, and that’s why I explained it the way I did… If the LW didn’t have the hangups they did with the perceived authority over the coworker I wouldn’t have commented at all, in fact I agree with with it on the surface.

          It’s the word usage with the LW’s questionable judgement surrounding how they act with this coworker that is problematic. The last thing you need is “I admit I have said it to her once or twice, but it does feel different in my position.” and advice to be more authoritarian :)

    2. Gman*

      If OP of letter #2 considers the use of ‘Hun’ to be condescending, why do they use it with other people?
      Food for thought, there.

  32. Jennifer*

    Also I have an older coworker who calls everyone ladybug, dearheart, sweetheart, etc. There’s no malicious intent. Just how she speaks. My boss talked to her and it’s over. Isn’t it exhausting assuming the worst of everyone for relatively minor offenses?
    But on the bright side, no one has called the police yet…

    1. Colette*

      “No malicious intent” is not incompatible with “unprofessional”. It’s not about assuming the worst of people, it’s that many people are not comfortable with being called pet names at work – especially people who may already be dealing with being seen as young, or not as technically competent.

      1. EventPlannerGal*

        Right, but the OP literally is wondering if this is being done maliciously. Her words! It’s right there in the letter. Wondering if someone is calling you “hun” with malice aforethought when you are all friends outside the office (also stated in the letter) and you have also called them “hun” in the past really does seem like assuming the worst.

    2. Colette*

      I should add that in your coworker’s case, we know there is malicious intent – because if you don’t intend to hurt people, you stop when they tell you to stop. And, if I understand your situation correctly, she’s not stopping.

      1. Jennifer*

        “My boss talked to her and it’s over.”

        She’s stopped.

        I get that people don’t like to be called pet names at work. I don’t either. But some people do use pet names in their everyday speech and forget to turn it off or “code-switch” when they are at work and need a reminder. Sometimes it’s just as simple as that.

    3. Crabby Patty*

      “Isn’t it exhausting assuming the worst of everyone for relatively minor offenses?” [And also Jennifer’s code-switching post below]


      Jennifer, your big-picture thinking and very forgiving tone means you are my favorite person today. BINGO. Life is much to short to get frazzled over – and anaylze to death – what is likely just some people’s way of endearing themselves and otherwise fostering comeraderie. It’s one thing to treat someone as inferior; that’s a problem. But to verbalize an endearment and that’s all there is to it? What’s the fuss?

  33. Prof Ma'am*

    #2 Please keep in mind that this person might be from Baltimore where ‘hun’ is used ALL THE TIME and not at all meant as disrespectful. It’s like people from the south calling someone ma’am or sir (albeit ‘hun’ is more informal). I’m not saying it’s OK to use at work, I’m just saying maybe don’t read into the intent so much.

    1. Prof Ma'am*

      and yes, it’d be ‘hon’ not ‘hun’ but most people would have a hard time telling the difference

    2. pancakes*

      I know it’s a Baltimore thing (and personally find it charming in that context), but the letter writer said, “I know for a fact she would never speak to the head of department like this,” which suggests it’s not regional. People who use regional terms of endearment tend to use them for everyone. The letter writer also mentions having called the junior employee “hon” a couple times themself, and I feel like a person who grew up using it would mention that.

      1. Grumpy*

        I find the “I know for a fact she would never speak to the head of department like this” part of the letter really perplexing, to be honest. The head of department probably also never referred to this person as “hun”, either, which LW#2 did.

        I don’t mean to seem dismissive, but this reads to me as a non-issue that LW#2 themselves created when they called their co-worker “hun”, and they now seem to be reading it as a sign of disrespect.

  34. LQ*

    OP #3 One of the things to listen for is if the item is closed. If the item is closed it can be that it is in the past, or that the decision has been made. But listening for is this item open or closed can be helpful. It can also help if you’re looking for what can be fixed because sometimes the item is closed, but there is another problem you have to find what is still open.

    I also think it’s easy to slip into solving the problem with the most likely problem and solution, but that means you’re not solving this problem that someone’s bringing to you, you’re solving the problem of having someone in front of you with a problem. (Aka you’re solving your problem, not theirs.) It’s easy to slip into but having that am I solving my problem of needing to help you, or your problem of whatever you’ve brought, can be a useful way to reframe it for yourself. Especially in your personal life.

  35. blink14*

    LW#2 – it could just be habit. If you’re in the US, there are certain regions of the country that use “hun” very frequently as part of the local vernacular. Very common in New England, for example. I equate to, for example, the UK use of “love” – like “You alright, love?” It often really doesn’t mean much in terms of affection between the speaker and the the person they are addressing.

    1. Jennifer*

      Same with sir/ma’am. People assume the worst and think people are being disrespectful when in many cases it’s just a habit.

      And if you’re the one that moved to the region where it’s a commonly used term, you have to just get used to the fact that people speak differently depending on the region.

      1. blink14*

        Absolutely! And something like hun can be more off putting to certain people, because it can imply a closer relationship then exists.

      2. Distance Learning*

        As a resident of the Appalachian South, I just want to thank you for your last point. If you choose to move here, that’s great and welcome, but you don’t get to decree that we change our speech habits to match the ones where you came from. Our’s are not automatically wrong or inferior by virtue of location.

  36. Kesnit*

    A lot of people are pointing out that “hun” is commonly used in Baltimore. It is also very common in MLM’s, which was my first thought. (So much so that some anti-MLM-er’s call them “hun-bots.”) If the junior employee has a background in MLM’s, it would be perfectly natural for her to refer to other women as “hun.” (The term is used with women both up and down the chain.)

    1. Lyra Silvertongue*

      This feels like such a bizarre assumption. The stereotypes of how people in MLMs speak aren’t BECAUSE they’re in MLMs, it’s because these MLMs overwhelmingly target/are made up of (usually) working-class women and so tailor their messaging/language to the speech patterns of this demographic… It’s an incredibly common non-specific casual term and being like “oh she must be in MLM” is so weird to me.

      1. Kesnit*

        I didn’t say she has to be in an MLM. I said it is a term commonly used in MLM’s and if the younger woman has a background in MLMs, she may have gotten it from there.

        1. Lyra Silvertongue*

          I’m not sure how those two things are significantly different, and I would reiterate the points in my original comment.

  37. Heidi*

    I’m actually kind of curious about this book the CEO’s wife wrote. I notice that the CEO did not seem to say anything about the book being good or that he expected his employees to actually read it. It might be slightly entertaining to ask him what his favorite parts of the book were. You might also ask him to explain the religious symbolism (you know, for your online review). Don’t read it, of course, just ask about the religious symbolism as if it’s obviously there. :)

  38. Don't wanna get fired...*

    #1 ! I had a very similar experience about 15 years ago. The head of our organization wrote a book- it was not self-published and our boss in fact went on a pretty extensive promotional book tour over the following year, including television appearances. We were instructed (not requested) to purchase multiple copies of the book, preferably in the names and addresses of family and friends as well to raise the ranking, and we would be reimbursed from the organization’s budget for these purchases. The rationale was that the book doing well would raise the profile of our boss which would raise the profile of the organization which would lead to more business for the organization so it was a legitimate business expense.

    1. Reba*

      This is such a weird little side of publishing! I have read about this with politicians’ books, I suppose it’s no surprise that this is a strategy for business books, too.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      This is the kind of thing that makes me think I will never be able to write full-time even if I do publish the traditional way. Because, ya know, I don’t have a company or a trust fund.

  39. HarvestKaleSlaw*

    #3: Are you me? Should we start a support group? Oh no – you probably already see the potential flaws in that plan! Here’s what I’m thinking of, in terms of HIPAA compliance…..

    1. Knitting Pandas*

      I was going to comment the same… And reading #3 post makes me now question if I’m a good active listener. Also, I feel like this behavior is intrinsic in HR.

      I now ask (at work) – do you want me to help you solve your problem or are you here to rant?

  40. Crabby Patty*

    Re: LW1

    Haven’t read most of the comments, so I am sorry if I’m adding to an already exhausted refrain (but not sorry enough to proceed nevertheless!):

    Aside from the sheer lack of professionalism by the CEO – and a pathetic lack of trust that his wife’s work can’t stand on its own, apparently – is it even legal in the UK for a boss to require employees to spend their EARNED money in a specific way? I wonder how that would fly here in the US, legally.

    1. londonedit*

      I’m not sure the boss was ‘requiring’ staff to spend their money on these books. We don’t know exactly what the email said, but if it was something like ‘Hi everyone, I’m excited to tell you that my wife’s new book, Llama Training in Corporate and Farm Scenarios, is being published next week! Please can everyone buy as many copies as possible – we need to get it flying up the Amazon rankings!’, which I can well imagine, then there’s no requirement there. Yes, you could say it’s inappropriate, and I don’t think OP1 was wrong to point out that people were feeling icky about it, but unless the boss said ‘Every employee is required to purchase at least 10 copies and distribute them to friends and family for review; we will be requiring proof of purchase from everyone, no exceptions’ then in my opinion it’s not hugely egregious or worth OP1 getting seriously worked up about.

      1. Crabby Patty*

        Thank you, londonedit. You’re absolutely right. I re-read the LW’s post and yes, it does not seem anyone is required, which is great!

        I guess my over-reaction was that I was thinking along the lines of the ‘company town’ metaphor, as it occurred in coal mining towns in the US during the late 19th/early-mid 20th century, where coal miners were required to spend their wages at stores owned by the coal mining companies. But thanks again for your response.

  41. Grumpy*

    At the risk of sounding dismissive (which I don’t mean to be), I am at a loss as to what exactly LW#2 is truly upset about.

    LW#2 called this co-worker “hun”, so the co-worker obviously thought that was okay with LW#2, and was possibly even a preference of LW#2. By the looks of it, the co-worker never actually used the term “hun” until LW#2 referred to the co-worker as “hun”.

    It also sounds like the co-worker is only referring to LW#2 as “hun” in private (as in, when no one when in the workplace can see/read it), and is doing so in a friendly – but not unprofessional – manner.

    (Also, depending on exactly where this co-worker is from, too, counts here: my favourite manager of all time was from Baltimore and called absolutely everyone “hun”. My second favourite manager was Australian and called absolutely everyone “darl” – as in, “darling” – and one of my favourite co-workers was British and called absolutely everyone “love”. No disrespect or malice was meant.)

    LW#2 is not this person’s manager, but is senior to her, and – as Alison says – appears to be expecting this person to a mind reader regarding the use of the word “hun”, which she likely wouldn’t be using in the first place without LW#2’s prompting. It also seems clear that the co-worker likes LW#2. At least, she does at the moment.

    I think LW#2 runs the risk of damaging a relationship with a co-worker over a non-issue that LW#2 themselves caused. I’d seriously consider dropping this. It will likely eventually sort itself out.

  42. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

    “Here’s your report, Hun.”

    “Thanks, Visogoth! Say ‘Hail’ to Vandals and the Picts for me!”

  43. Sarah*

    @#2: I do think she might be just using a term that you used. It’s fun feeling connected to coworkers in that sense. One coworker and I keep trying to one up our pet names; it started with “hun”, then “dear”, then “my sweet” and now it’s something like “supreme empress of the universe, first of her name, unparalleled in excellence”.

  44. Lyra Silvertongue*

    I am so weirded out that people are jumping to elaborate and nefarious assumptions about why somebody might use terms of endearment in the workplace. It’s probably just the way that they talk? If it’s truly so inappropriate for your workplace, fine, but let’s not pretend that it’s an objective wrong – it’s just that we act like workplace and WASP etiquette norms are so often one and the same. Some people speak differently to you. It is okay.

    1. Elliot*

      I disagree – I think it is objectively inappropriate to use terms of endearment in the workplace. I think they’re unprofessional and make enough people uncomfortable that the general norm is not to use these. Further, any terms of endearment that are mostly used toward one gender increase a feeling of patronizing and belittlement, normally to women, especially young women.
      For instance – if you wouldn’t call my 45-year-old male manager hon or sweetie, then it is absolutely also inappropriate to call me hon or sweetie, despite me being 26 and female. It’s absolutely sexism, and the general consensus is that sexism is objectively wrong.
      If you have an extremely abnormal coworker who indiscriminately calls people of all work levels, ages and genders hon (including the CEO, etc) and no one you work with prefers their name to a pet name, that would surprise me, but okay – Just don’t expect that to carry over to other professional environments. In the vast majority of professional environments, I’d consider this harassment.

      1. Lyra Silvertongue*

        Harassment. For using the term ‘hun’ at work. I’m sorry but I’m not buying it, especially since the circumstances you are putting forward are entirely unlike those of the LW.

  45. Workfromhome*


    Two options:
    1. If asked about it “Yes I bought as many as possible. Since you pay me peanuts I have no extra $ so it was possible for me to buy 0 books.
    2.I’d be happy to help. Should I come by your office to get the $ you are supplying me to buy these books or will it be deposited directly into my bank account? As soon as I have the $ I’ll go to the bookstore.

  46. El l*

    Re Hun:
    This is a great example of my First Rule of Sanity:

    “Before you get any more angry or frustrated, stop and ask yourself: ‘Have I tried just asking someone for what I want?” (In this case, stop calling ‘hun’)

    Because at least 50% of the time – no, I haven’t.

  47. yllis*

    #2 ” I admit I have said it to her once or twice, but it does feel different in my position.”

    It’s not.

    Tell her that you want it to stop and then you stop doing it to others. Model the behavior you want.

    1. Unkempt Flatware*

      First acknowledge and apologize for calling her that ever then say you’d like it to stop all together.

  48. WantonSeedStitch*

    I just want to salute LW #3 for their self-awareness! As a new parent, I get a loooooot of unsolicited advice when I comment or gripe about some issue with my baby, most of which is stuff I’ve already seen with a simple internet search, and some of which is stuff I’m absolutely unwilling to consider for reasons of child safety! I’ve had to learn to prefix social media posts on these topics with a note that I’m NOT looking for advice, just griping. I also, to be fair, have to remind myself not to offer people advice when they haven’t asked for it.

  49. SherBear*

    LW #3 – yes please stop doing this. I have a coworker who I can’t ask a simple question as she’ll go into ‘problem solving mode’ when really all I need is to know if a system is working on her end or not (as I know how to troubleshoot myself). I’ve even said “thanks, have a great weekend” and she’ll still keep making suggestions. It makes me go to other people whenever possible and I’m positive you are unintentionally driving other people insane!

  50. Elizabeth West*

    Gaaah, I would be mortified if my (mythical) husband told all his employees to buy my book. I’m not sure how I’d feel about it if he even just mentioned it. A sale is a sale, but the power dynamic inherent in senior management suggesting something to subordinates just feels, well, icky. The disingenuous attempt to inflate sales figures is also gross.

    This leads directly to an employee’s point-of-view: I probably wouldn’t buy it for that very reason. Conversely, if the CEO knew it was the kind of book I personally enjoy and suggested it to me, that would be different. Let’s say I read romance novels at lunch and he said, “My wife wrote a romance under the name Crescent Lovebottom; you may like it.” Then I might check it out.

    I’m not even sure I’d be comfortable mentioning my own book to the whole company. Let it come up in conversation naturally. Besides, half the people who buy a book because they know the author never read it anyway. And if they don’t like it, the awkward is real.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      *suggesting something to subordinates*
      Should be “trying to force it on subordinates,” editing fail.

  51. Pikachu*

    Pro tip: if you feel pressure to buy someone’s book but you don’t want to, you can request that your local library purchase a copy or two for their own shelves. They don’t always do it, but it gets you out of having to buy it yourself and is a pretty cool thing for the author.

    1. pancakes*

      It’s not cool for the library or local readers if there’s otherwise no interest in the book. They don’t have unlimited budgets.

  52. Lady Lyndon*

    LW#1 – I am kind of taken aback by how aggressively everyone is in criticizing this CEO. Yes, it’s wrong to ask employees to buy the book, but LW’s reaction is way too strong. This is so peripheral to core work functions that LW could have easily ignored it as opposed to taking it upon themselves to chastise the CEO. If anything, it just makes LW more open to heavy scrutiny with little to no gain to show for it. LW could have ignored the request and face zero consequences. Very strange overreaction IMO.

    1. Kevin Sours*

      Pressuring subordinates to buy something is *way* out of line. It’s not an overreaction to push back on that and somebody with standing in the organization absolutely should. Unfortunately it doesn’t look like anybody with that standing will.

      1. Lady Lyndon*

        “All-staff email to **ask** everyone to buy as many copies of his wife’s book as possible.”

        LW spent much more capital chastising the CEO in writing than if he’d just let it go. Again, asking everyone to buy a product is tacky, but I do not see evidence of the pressure everyone seems to perceive. Its akin to a boss asking the office to buy girl scout cookies. Tactless, yes. Abusive workplace practice that merits sticking one’s neck out? Ummm no.

        1. Kevin Sours*

          When you are the CEO asking is pressure. Whether or not it’s *wise* to stick your neck out a consideration but it’s not an overreaction to object. The CEO is way out of line here.

          1. Kevin Sours*

            A CEO who does not understand the power dynamics involved here show a gross lack of judgement. One who *does* is intentionally abuses their position.

    2. Workfromhome*

      ” The senior HR person responded to the email chain saying, “And don’t forget to review it positively too!”

      Its not just the CEO saying “buy girl scout cookies” You also have pressure coming from the senior HR person . HR has major influence over your reviews, compensation etc. That’s absolutely an instance of over the line.

      1. Lady Lyndon*

        Again, all of this pressure appears to be tacky but nothing written indicates that LW would be singled out for just ignoring the request. They singled themselves out. Also, if it’s an HR issue, email HR, not the CEO. Seems like poor judgment.

        1. Czhorat*

          It’s absolutely an abuse of power by the CEO and, as others have said here before, a request from the CEO carries a certain weight. He is misusing his authority in sending a request that would be tacky from anyone in the company, but is a bigger misstep from the CEO.

          That said, I don’t disagree with you that this is not the battle worth fighting. Even the first email from the LW was, in retrospect, probably a misstep. It spends capital and labels them as a contrarian for no potential gain.

            1. Sam*

              Definitely not the point your words are making; you’re failing to distinguish between a moral issue and what a practical response would be.

    3. D3*

      Your being “taken aback” by her saying something is way more of a pearl clutching overreaction than her “hey this might not be a great idea to do given the power dynamics”
      Very strange overreaction IMO.

      1. Lady Lyndon*

        I left my comment on a website and that’s the same as emailing the CEO of the company to chastise them. MKAY.

  53. Just @ me next time*

    #1 – The CEO should just make it easier for everyone by docking the cost of his wife’s book automatically from their paycheques and calling it the “CEO’s spouse’s self-esteem surcharge.”

    1. D3*

      I think if it like giving someone a piece of your mind or writing an opinion piece for the paper.

  54. MCMonkeybean*

    For LW#4, if it’s a large company I think it’s highly likely they have had people leave and come back before and are already set up to take that into account–but definitely ask about it! I quit a job I’d been at for 7 years in 2019 and then ended up coming back to the same company just 7 months later. I asked about this and they said they have some formula to calculate your “tenure” with the company (I mean, I’m not sure why it wouldn’t just be the 7 years I was there before + the 1 year I’ve been there now, but okay) to calculate things like benefits. I just checked to make sure I would still have my same level of PTO and they confirmed that would be the case.

  55. DKMA*

    So I can’t get past LW2 not only having used “hun” previously but thinking that “it does feel different in my position”. Don’t think this, don’t do this, absolutely not. You acknowledge that it feels patronizing when she does it to you. It sounds like you stopped calling her “hun” already, but did you apologize? Are you sure you are not being patronizing yourself in other ways?

    Frankly, your co-workers use of “hun” back to you seems like it was a very effective response to being patronized. If this is what happened she will for sure stop when you ask, but if you want to improve your relationship with her you should also provide a sincere apology without any of the “but it was different when I did it” included.

  56. hamburke*

    Is the Jr assistant, perhaps, from Baltimore? I lived there for ~2 years and everyone calls everyone “Hun”. It is as grating at first but did grow on me.

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