my boss hasn’t talked to me in months

A reader writes:

Since I returned from vacation a few months ago, my manager hasn’t spoken to me. We are in different offices and she would usually drop by most days to catch up before, so it feels very strange to have a whole month go by without anything from her. I know that her schedule has been very full, but she still makes time to talk with the rest of my team and those outside it. The contrast with how she relates to me is startling. Nothing happened to cause this that I can identify. I’ve gone over things in my head and can’t see anything that I may have done.

I have been trying to convince myself that if I had done something wrong she would have told me directly, but I’m finding this lack of communication very troubling and stressful. I don’t know whether I am reading too much into a busy schedule/manager stress (I’m the most experienced worker in the team so maybe I don’t need the same oversight as others) or if this is something I should be concerned about. My anxiety is making the thought of speaking to her about it a scary prospect; I’m worried about seeming needy or attention seeking.

I answer this question — and four others — over at Inc. today, where I’m revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago (and sometimes updating/expanding my answers to them). You can read it here.

Other questions I’m answering there today include:

  • Is declining a reference call a red flag?
  • I received an anonymous complaint about politics
  • Canceling an interview after hearing terrible things about the interviewer
  • Should I expect a response to a thank-you note?

{ 98 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. MechE*

    Maybe it is just me and my work culture, but it seems weird as heck to put personal things, especially after work activities, on a work calendar.

    Reply
    1. marxamod*

      It’s pretty common at my company to have people put holds like “gym” or “doctors appt” on their Outlook calendars. The calendars are accessible to anyone else at the company to see and it’s an easy way for people to know you won’t be available to meet at that time. Plenty of people add them marked as “private” so it’s just a block, which is what I do. Also pretty common to use the work calendar to invite others to social events if they also work here. I don’t want to maintain separate personal calendars when I already have all this info on my work one.

      Reply
      1. Mockingjay*

        Yes, simply mark as “Private.” Others who view your calendar will see only that that period is blocked out.

        Reply
      2. PeteAndRepeat*

        Same at my company. It’s important to add your appointments, because we often have meetings with multiple participants and the organizer will look at everyone’s calendars to find an open time slot. However, people should be aware of privacy settings when adding personal events! I have stumbled across personal info when checking colleagues’ work calendars, because they created public events that included details. (Custody schedule, medical appointments with identifying information about the doctor’s speciality, etc.) My calendar events are public but I title personal stuff vaguely, like “Medical appointment” or “Unavailable.”

        Reply
      3. Shad*

        My coworkers really only include things that involve work hours, but they definitely put more detail than strictly necessary–doc appointments are sometimes marked as “out – colonoscopy”, sometimes even with emotive notes about whatever’s going on with them (along the lines of “finally! Diagnosis!”, not graphic details).

        Reply
      4. Beany*

        I just put “BUSY” on my work calendar to let colleagues who can see it know not to try to schedule anything or contact me during that window.

        Any necessary details I reserve for my personal Google calendar, which none of them can see.

        Reply
    2. A Person*

      Ditto. (I mean, in the past I sometimes put stuff there because it’s the calendar I see most often, or I needed a reminder that I’m not going directly home from work, but I marked it as private because it’s irrelevant to anyone else.)

      Reply
    3. Lora*

      Eh, that’s definitely you and your work culture. Many places I’ve been, people will block out doctor appointments and such on their calendars so nobody tries to send a meeting where their presence is really needed for those times.

      Reply
    4. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I put the personal things on my calendar as out-of-office when I know there’s an expectation for me to be available. But they are all “appointment”. There’s no way I’d put “controversial political candidate’s rally” on my calendar any more than I’d put “hot date yay!” on it. (FTR, I do support a controversial political candidate, and will be voting for them soon. But haven’t told anyone at work. And, as someone working with a lot of people whose political views are the opposite of mine, I’m thankful to them for doing the same. Seeing a slew of something like “OOO – MAGA rally” on my teammate’s work calendars would make me twitch, not going to lie.)

      Reply
      1. Former Child*

        There’s a difference between posting “Dr. appointment” and “Colonoscopy”
        just as
        there’s a difference between “time off” and “MAGA rally.”

        It’s odd to me to put “book club” on the work calendar. And is it during work hours? I don’t get it.

        Reply
        1. Firecat*

          I put all my non worm appointments and my bills on my work calendar but they are all set to private.

          It’s definitely helped to get a reminder at work that my anniversary is in two weeks.

          Reply
          1. Elizabeth West*

            I assume you meant “non-work;” this typo sent me into a giggle fit imagining what worm appointments would look like.

            Reply
        2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          If I’d have to leave work right on time in order to make it to the book club, it’d be on my work calendar. But as “appointment”.

          Reply
        3. generic_username*

          I sometimes put evening plans on my work calendar with a long alert lead time (2 hours, generally) to remind myself to leave on time. So “Book Club” often appears on my calendar. I usually mark them as private, but occasionally forget.

          Reply
        4. OyHiOh*

          I put after work stuff on my work calendar because – my boss sometimes asks me to work days or times I’m not normally here (part time/limited funding for hours) and the reminders of when I have other things scheduled is helpful for both of us when planning schedule adjustments. Like, I absolutely cannot stay past a certain time one day a week, or come in before a set time a different day because of long standing therapy appointments.

          Reply
    5. Person from the Resume*

      I agree that its odd to put after work things on my work calendar. After work I am not in front of my computer. Non-work activities go on my personal goggle calendar and alert on my phone.

      But I do put personal appointments during the work day on my calendar because during work I am online and in front of my computer all day long. That’s where I want the reminder to pop up.

      Reply
      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Depending on the workplace and on the role, there may be an expectation that people are available after hours unless otherwise specified. There isn’t one for me at this time, so anything I put on my work calendar would have a start time at or before, say, six pm (because people might assume I’d still be working at six, and ask me a question or send a request that I won’t see).

        I put all my personal stuff on my google calendar as well, to have a record of it later, and because I can save the address on there that I can then open with google maps to get directions and so on. The ones on my work calendar are strictly to tell my coworkers when I cannot be reached.

        Reply
      2. twocents*

        I don’t think it’s weird to put a reminder for after work hours, like if you have a dentist appt.

        Reply
    6. PT*

      I used to do this, because I worked somewhere that would schedule stuff during times that were well outside your normal work hours and then harangue you for not being able to make it. “I’m saying you need to be here why can’t you come, you can’t tell me you can’t come.” Uh because I do not have two modes, working and sitting at home twiddling my thumbs waiting to work?

      If it was personal I would just block it out as “Appointment” though, no details.

      Reply
    7. Boadicea*

      I do it because to be honest if it’s not on my work calendar, what with the pandemic making my personal calendar almost completely pointless to look at, I’ll probably totally forget it’s even happening.

      That said, I put those ones as “private” if they’re genuinely nothing to do with work, or maybe put them on my second, secret calendar that only I can view. (Highly recommend anyone reading this to consider making one of those! You can do it in Outlook)

      Reply
    8. Cora*

      It’s pretty normal at my company, especially for things that you have to leave right on time for or a little early, like an appointment.

      We have flexible hours, so while core hours are all thats required, sometimes its good to let people know when they absolutely cannot even try to contact you. Like if you’re planning to be in the middle of a protest.

      Reply
    9. Sara without an H*

      I did this regularly before I retired, since I learned that hard way that trying to keep both a personal calendar and a work calendar was a recipe for disaster. But if you’re using Outlook, you can adjust the settings so that all your colleagues can see is whether you are “free” or “busy” at a given time. I’m not sure why the OP’s office doesn’t do this — it seems like an easy solution.

      Reply
    10. I should really pick a name*

      I’m not clear if these activities are during work hours or not.
      If they’re not during work hours, I’m not sure why they’d be on the work calendar.

      Reply
      1. James*

        I think that’s part of the company culture. In a company like mine–or at least a role like mine–the concept of “work hours” doesn’t make a lot of sense. I’ve had conference calls at 7 pm on Sunday evening, because Monday morning at 0730 we had someone showing up to do work and we needed to make sure we were ready. I travel 90-95% of the time; what else am I going to do in the evenings?

        In that sort of situation having personal stuff on your calendar is useful because it affects work.

        Reply
    11. Recruited Recruiter*

      At my previous job, everyone put their personal stuff on work calendars because so many people would regularly schedule meetings/project time outside of regular business hours.

      Reply
    12. PeanutButter*

      I work in medical/biological research, so we’re often coordinating meetings with other researchers around the world. While we have normal “core” hours when most everyone is in the lab, if you don’t want a conference call scheduled during your date night you need to block it off on your work calendar. (I even have some livestreams I don’t want to miss scheduled. No one can see them as they’re private but I’m also NOT AVAILABLE.)

      Reply
    13. AnotherAlison*

      I used to travel for work, and it was nice to have that reminder that I had “Mom’s birthday party” on Sunday evening before a trip was scheduled over it. Same with weekday doctor appts, etc. If my job requires me to put their Outlook software on my phone (which it does, and I get a stipend for that), then I’m going to use their calendar. The privacy feature* is there if you need it.

      *I am still waiting for the bull sh*t meeting feature, where we can tag all the meetings that we really don’t need to be in so people’s real availability was known and we could schedule 30 minute meetings sooner than that one window 2-3 weeks out.

      Reply
      1. LC*

        “I mean, I guess I technically have a place to be at this particular moment, and I’ll be there if I don’t have anything else going on, but seriously, I’d be happy to work around it for literally anything even a little more interesting.”

        Man, that’ll be a nice feature. I’d also like a more chill way to mark private appointments. “Private” seems …. incredibly private to me, I’d like an option for “I’m just busy, sorry :shrug:”

        Reply
        1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          Isn’t that what the “tentative” mark is for? I use that mostly for when I’ve offered someone external their choice of 2 or 3 meeting times and am waiting for a response, but also when I’m invited to something like a weekly recurring meeting that I really don’t need to be in every week (so I can remember when it is and go to it if it fits my schedule).

          Reply
    14. Don’t hide my straightener*

      We have an employee that does it consistently and it makes me insane. These are real recent entries:

      Birthday lunch with Tiffany
      Theatre practice
      Drinks with niece, Ginocchio, 7pm

      I don’t care, and it clogs the shared calendar.

      Reply
    15. Tamarack with a phone*

      I put personal appointments that happen during what’s normally work hours onto my calendar as “(my name) blocked” with a parenthetical 1-3 letter label of what it is for my own memory. I’m an academic, and it’s ok to leave at 3 to take a dog to the vet and return to finish my day in the evening, but I want my coworkers to know I’m unavailable.

      More to the LW’s situation, I would also put outside-of-work activities that are vaguely work-adjacent. Like volunteering for science fairs or going to programming conventions on my own time – stuff that could come up in a job interview under “outreach”, but most of it is off the clock.

      I guess, my judgement depends a little on the nature of the job.
      • Is it explicitly partisan-political (representative X’s reelection campaign, party Y national committee IT infrastructure)? It would be all but impossible to avoid hearing about co-workers’ involvement for the part and its candidates.
      • Is it something that, while not carrying a party label still explicitly furthers goals that one political side favors and the other one opposes (a counseling service trying to persuade pregnant women away from getting an abortion, a private industrial pollution watchdog – maybe not the best examples, come up with your own)? It would still be utterly unsurprising that the staff would see their job as part of their political engagement (and personally if I have string feelings about these goals, I wouldn’t work there).
      • Or is it looser in that the job is somehow self-selecting against people from one political persuasion without being all that political in itself (nature conservancy, women’s shelter mining industry association)? This is I think where the employee has some more point to it and where the co-workers’ political engagement could come across as unnecessarily alienating. (“I don’t really mind being the lone conservative at the wetland restoration project / pinko at the small business association. But it’s a little grating to be exposed all day long to my co-workers off-the-clock efforts to get candidate X elected, which has nothing to do, in my view, with my job.”)

      Reply
    16. James*

      I’ve seen it both ways. At the jobsite where I work we have a calendar specifically to mark with personal days–vacations, holidays, “I can’t stand you people anymore” days (it’s construction crews; you need those). When I work in a more office-type place I generally don’t see people put personal stuff on calendars unless there’s a reason, like folks are trying to schedule something and specifically ask people to mark when they won’t be available.

      I once put on my calendar “Call with wife”. I was traveling and folks kept trying to push the end of my day back further and further, and having that on the calendar was a way for me to push back against it. They’d see that I had that time blocked off and not schedule stuff at 7:30 pm.

      Reply
    17. introverted af*

      My company does this and it’s helpful for me as an admin assistant – I know that not only are you not available during that block of time, but there will be travel time around it and I’ll need to adjust accordingly.

      Reply
    18. Creative Developer*

      I just recently discovered that our calendars at my newish job are not private. I was shocked. In my opinion, nobody except me and the people I have a meeting scheduled with need to know what’s on my calendar. All they need to know is if I am blocked or not.

      Reply
      1. James*

        This is why I keep a paper calendar. I can put whatever I want into it, and the company gets no say in it. I put stuff on the company calendar only when it’s stuff that the company needs to know about.

        Reply
    19. Esmeralda*

      I put “out of office” in the label and a short note in the description, such as Dr. Blofeld, 2 pm, and the phone number, or Get DarlingSon at airport, 8 pm. It’s helpful to me when previewing my day/week. Been doing it for years.

      Reply
    20. Filosofickle*

      It isn’t weird to me. I work in really casual, personal environments and most of us us the work calendar to for personal events, even after hours and weekend. It’s just easier. The less I have going on, the more likely I am to just throw those couple of items on the work calendar instead of trying to track multiple Google/Outlook accounts every single day. (I don’t have kids or a busy social life so it can literally be one thing every week or two. Right now there’s a ton going on so I’m juggling two work different calendars and a personal calendar and it’s tedious.)

      Reply
    21. MCMonkeyBean*

      I put anything on my calendar if I want the calendar to remind me to do it. That includes stuff after work if I need to remember to leave a little early or just not to drive home.

      My office has calendars set that other people don’t see what you have though other than “Busy.”

      Reply
  2. GMan*

    For the “I received an anonymous complaint about politics” one, is it really OK to put after-hours political activities on your work calendar when other people can see them?

    If everyone has stuff like “going to anti-mask rally” or “vaccine roll-out protest” on their calendar and then you put something like ‘COVID shot appointment’ on a visible work calendar, you might get uniquely singled out.

    Reply
    1. Libby B*

      Right? I might block out the time and put a generic description like “appointment”, but no description beyond that if others can see.

      Reply
      1. dealing with dragons*

        I do like to make blood draw appointments with the subject as “BLOOD” for my amusement, but at most I have private apointments with just dr and maybe where it is to remind me

        Reply
        1. Gumby*

          I do refer to blood donation appointments as “visiting the vampires” and they might show up with that title in my work calendar… But my massage appointments? Are merely “appointment” because why invite that kind of scrutiny? We have flex schedules so I do put personal things that are on the edges of a work day there because it wouldn’t be weird for someone to want to schedule a meeting at 6 p.m. I am not sure if other people can see my calendar details. I assume not because I can’t see theirs, or maybe I can and I just haven’t really tried but they aren’t visible by default. Still.

          Reply
    2. EPLawyer*

      But if everyone has obviously political stuff, you can’t single someone out for just because of a different viewpoint. Political opinion mght not be a protected class but that doesn’t mean treating people differently is good managing.

      If you allow it for some viewpoints, you gotta allow it for others.

      Reply
      1. GMan*

        Yeah, so I advise either making the work calendars private/only visible to managers, or a mix of public/private calendars, or setting up after-hours events to be private, etc.

        Politics is very polarizing, especially right now.

        Reply
      2. Black Horse Dancing*

        I think you mean you should. It is perfectly legal for companies to quash one viewpoint and not another. It’s done all the time.

        Reply
      3. not a doctor*

        >If you allow it for some viewpoints, you gotta allow it for others.

        There’s a sizeable group of people in the US who believe that a certain public figure is the only thing standing between society and a pack of ravenous Semitic child trafficking lizard people.

        I’m cool with not allowing that in the office.

        Reply
    3. kittymommy*

      I think it’s office dependent. Where I’m at now everything is public record so most people hide it as private but some don’t (technically IT doesn’t support any personal info on work calendars). I’ve worked other places it would be perfectly fine.

      Reply
    4. Creative Developer*

      That’s exactly what I was thinking about it. If it just said something generic that’s one thing. But sometimes these activities have offensive or derogatory event names. And even if they don’t, some people just need the break. I am at my white end with American politics and I really do not want to be reminded of everything daily. I also do not want to know which of my coworkers have views that I disagree with for moral and ethical reasons. It impacts my opinion of them and can make it difficult to work with them. I know I’m supposed to leave that stuff at home and not let my opinion of someone impact my work. But when someone’s opinion is derogatory towards specific groups of people, I can’t simply forget that kind of bigotry, even if it’s not overt.

      Reply
    5. tamarack and fireweed*

      I would give different answers to this if the job is in a campaign office vs. the legal aid society.

      Reply
  3. mcfizzle*

    Ugh the gall of people to expect a (good? glowing?) reference after a poor performance always amazes me.
    I had a former coworker who was a huge problem from the start. My boss is entirely too nice and offered to give him a good reference when they were offering bad coworker the option to either resign or be fired. I was/am so upset with my boss for pushing the sh*t forward. Worse, 5 full years after toxic employee left, he apparently was interviewing somewhere else and asked my boss if he could use him for a reference. I guess at least he asked? (Boss declined that time.)
    Honestly, if someone is so clueless / arrogant to think they’re going to get a good reference, especially without even asking LW first, they fully deserve the bad reference!
    I would consider it a kindness to the company asking to be honest. Or at least hesitant / silence (which speaks volumes on its own).

    Reply
    1. Person from the Resume*

      I honestly suspect that he was asked to supply the name and contact info of his former manager. Not that he thinks the LW would be a good reference, but the hiring company requires it.

      Reply
      1. mcfizzle*

        I almost added another comment wondering if this could be the case. If so, it does change my snark, but not a huge amount since he still didn’t earn a good reference. Still – what an “interesting” new company if they cold-called a former supervisor!

        Reply
        1. MassMatt*

          It’s not at all unusual for prospective employers to contact prior employers. In fact, it is an essential part of due diligence for many jobs to verify you worked there, and in the position claimed. Many many terrible hires could have been avoided with this very simple step.

          Asking for references is really not adequate in many cases; a dishonest person can simply give the names and numbers of friends and confederates who then claim to have worked with him.

          But I agree that the person in the letter deserves a bad review/reference. I hope the LW learned from this terrible experience; when an intern performs poorly, sometimes it’s best to fire them than have the issues continue for months. But I kind of doubt it, even in retrospect, LW’s primary concern seems to be a terrible employee might actually have to suffer consequences for their behavior.

          Reply
    2. Recruited Recruiter*

      At a previous job, I had a former co-worker put me down as a reference without asking/telling me. After I received the call, and gave either honest or hesitant answers to the questions, I received a call from former co-worker on my work line, demanding to know why I wouldn’t cover for her.

      Reply
    3. Gap Year Anon*

      I think this ties a lot into the immaturity and inexperience of the former employee. In my role I’ve overseen four interns over the years, all in late college or early grads and a lot of the stuff in the letter reminded me of them, even the interns that did great work and I’d happily give references to. But the one thing that surprised me is that multiple of them listed me as a reference without telling me so I unexpectedly got random calls for the next few years for job postings I didn’t know anything about. My department is very niche so none of the careers they moved into where even in the same field.
      The most annoying is one of the former interns moved into recruiting and a potential hiring manager (that he did not give me a heads up about) called and asked a whole bunch of questions about my org, which I thought was to gage how closely our work aligned to his work, but he was sleazily getting information to then switch into a hard sell pitch that we should hire his recruiting firm. I was so appalled, and he was so pushy. Even asking when I would be at the office so a colleague could “drop their business card off” eww!
      I reminded the former interns repeatedly to give me a heads up when they were listing me as a former manager but they just didn’t. They all came from disadvantaged backgrounds, and we good people so even though I was annoyed I still wanted them to be employed and do well so I didn’t write them off. At least at this point, they all have enough references that I’m not called anymore. It seems like something clueless new workers do? I don’t know.

      Reply
      1. Black Horse Dancing*

        Many applications require Supervisor’s name and number. They surely wouldn’t contact you every time they filled out an application. I mean, if someone fills out 50 apps a week, do you want 50 emails from that person?

        Reply
        1. MassMatt*

          Most applications do ask for work history, but don’t start the process by calling prior jobs, they interview the applicant(s) first and then decide who they want to move forward with. Contacting prior employers and references is generally the last step. It’s unlikely someone applying for 50 jobs will get 50 interviews, and even if they did, they probably wouldn’t generate 50 reference calls. In any case, the courteous thing to do is to let your reference know you are applying for jobs, and at least generally in what field so they know what sort of questions are likely to be asked.

          Reply
        2. ErinWV*

          Yes, but job searching is a generally a discrete activity isn’t it? You go through periods of applying, and then periods of being employed where you are not looking. At the beginning of an applying period, just send one email early on. “Hello, Former Supervisor! Just wanting to let you know, I am job hunting again, and if you don’t object, I will be putting you down as a reference. Fingers crossed, you will get some emails or calls about me soon! I have attached an updated resume for your reference. Thanks very much, and I hope you are doing well!” etc. etc.

          Reply
    4. Artemesia*

      Someone who struggles but was on an upward trajectory AND were obviously doing their best, maybe, even if they were not good. And you can also say ‘this is a guy who struggled at first but really committed to improving his performance over time and is very reliable.’ Guy who betrayed your support by slacking off and then ghosting? Why would you want to support his future efforts? If you are kind you say ‘it has been so long, I really don’t recall his work.’ If you feel a commitment to integrity with other employers, you give an honest review.

      Reply
    5. Global Cat Herder*

      Worked for a while where those of us in IT had to walk through the (large) warehouse to get to our office. Sybil was a sysadmin who wasn’t performing well and was put on a PIP. She decided to go out in a blaze of glory. Rammed a forklift into the conveyors so hard we couldn’t ship product for two days, kicked holes in the wall every other step to the door. Left the building, took off the mandatory steel-toed boots and threw them through the glass entry door she’d just left, and stormed away in her socks.

      It’s still the fourth-most legendary exit from that warehouse.

      Two years later, boss gets a call. Sybil had put him down as a reference! The hiring manager kept telling boss he had to be making it up, she couldn’t possibly have done that, and could boss please get serious. Boss walked out into the warehouse, yelled “remember Sybil?” and then just … held out the phone.

      Sybil did not get that job, y’all.

      And that’s how I learned a fairly large percentage of people think nobody will ever check their references.

      Reply
  4. RC Rascal*

    LW 1:

    Watch your back. I’ve experienced the boss freeze out before , and watched it happen as well. Usually it means one of these reasons:

    1– Boss hates you for some reason unrelated to performance.

    2- Boss plans to can you as part of an upcoming restructure/ realignment

    3- Boss has becomes threatened by you because you are too good at what you do.

    Reply
    1. Henry*

      This was my experience with my former boss (the CEO of the company I worked at). They were was extremely conflict avoidant, to the point of being in active denial of their responsibilities and what the effects were of their actions. To cope in their own way, before firing me for probably all three reasons you mentioned, they just avoided talking to me as much as possible, similar to LW1. At best, it was awkward.

      I really hope this isn’t the case for LW1, but their situation sure doesn’t sound good and I would be (and have had the experience of being) super anxious, too.

      Reply
    2. Daisy-dog*

      I have had a truly clueless boss who just didn’t think to connect with me until he had a new task for me. He traveled to our international sites for 6 weeks and then still didn’t have anything for me for weeks after that.

      We did talk about Game of Thrones though because it was that era. But only 2-3 times.

      Reply
    3. Mister Meeble*

      I was just informed today that my position (only person in a 100+ person company with this role and title) is being eliminated. And for the past two months I have noticed my boss being a little standoffish. My 1-on-1 was removed from the calendar a month ago and not rescheduled. I requested one and got it, had a nice conversation and was told I’m doing fine, good work, etc. I took that at face value. I had no negative feedback, or any other indication that I was being removed.

      The company is going through a LOT of changes, and given the odd treatment by my usually-chatty boss, I’m not completely shocked by this turn of events. I was also given a very generous severance and a good amount of notice. So no acrimony on my part. I will finish my projects and document the various things I do for future employees before I leave. I’m treating it as an opportunity than a punishment.

      To the person who asked, it may be nothing, but it might be something. It’s worth having a frank discussion if you want to know. You might not like the answer, or like me, you might not really get any indication up until something happens.

      Reply
  5. Heidi*

    For Letter 5, if someone wrote me a thank you note, I would probably write back with something like, “I’m glad you found our meeting useful. We’ll make our decision about the position soon (assuming that’s true).” But my response should not be considered a sign that the applicant is a front-runner. Also, the employer could be receiving lots of notes like this, and it might not be efficient to respond to all of them. It doesn’t mean that the OP is no longer in the running.

    Reply
    1. Ishta*

      I don’t think it would occur to me to respond/expect a response to a thank you note, primarily because the applicant may then feel they have to reply to say thank you for acknowledging their thank you and it all starts to get faintly ridiculous.

      Reply
      1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        Yes, I think this has been addressed by Miss Manners several times. It could get ridiculous.

        Reply
    2. No Name Today*

      I was surprised about expecting a response to a thank you note. Reading your comments, I see now that OP’s real concern is the post interview radio silence. Dear OP, it happens. It sucks. Like Alison says, put the job out of your mind. When the call, be prepared but pleasantly surprised.

      Reply
    3. GraceRN*

      There are really so many variations about how thank you notes are treated. I am not sure why LW was expecting a reply. Makes me wonder if they read somewhere that not receiving a reply is a bad sign or something?
      At my organization, interviewers are instructed not to reply to any thank you notes that we might receive. If there are any further communications to candidates (2nd interview invitations, job offers, etc), we need to send them through talent acquisition. Even without such a rule, many interviewers wouldn’t see a need to reply.

      Reply
  6. AnotherAlison*

    The “Canceling the interview” one got me thinking. I would probably choose the option to go and decline an offer with a plausible excuse that would allow me to re-interview later. Also, OP said this unbearable guy was a PM. IME as a PM, we weren’t hiring managers, and our project teams were always different. I might have the same lead work for me for multiple jobs, but if it was not a fit either direction, the functional departments could work that out so that he worked for a different PM and I had a different lead. Staff changed just for specific skill set needs for specific projects, too. (Sounds like their structure is different, but I’d want more info before turning down a good opportunity.) Also in my experience, the jerks wouldn’t last if the culture was otherwise good, so his presence could mean a bigger problem, or he might only last a short time there.

    Reply
  7. Elliot*

    I think I would be uncomfortable too with some political talk or event discussions that indicated a stance that went against anyone’s basic human rights – so this is where I’d try to draw the line and make a distinction. I would think it’s fine to hear coworkers talking about “Going to the Whig Party Event,” but would be troubled by hearing “We’re going to yell at women outside of Planned Parenthood” or “Attending a Unite the Right rally.”
    Similarly, there’s a major difference between hearing “this new school charter bill irks me” and “I wish gay marriage was never legalized.”
    While you shouldn’t restrict people talking about their interests and involvement, you need to make sure that it doesn’t go against someone else’s humanity and feeling of safety.

    Reply
    1. nothing rhymes with purple*

      I totally agree with you, but unfortunately we can end up in the weeds over issues like “feelings of safety”. I still remember a conversation with my father I endured, where he talked at length about not feeling “comfortable” working with “a homosexual” who might hit on the other men and thus disturb the office, etc, etc, etc. How do we separate that kind of misuse of the concept of feelings of safety from how rightfully uncomfortable a gay coworker would have felt overhearing my father’s diatribe? (Real question — I think there are ways but they are often complicated.)

      Reply
      1. Elliot*

        Woww….. so if the issue is working with people attracted to his gender… did he also feel unsafe working with straight women?

        Reply
        1. R*

          It’s generally been my experience that guys with this attitude actually have very little to worry about on the subject of people of any gender being attracted to them.

          Reply
        2. nothing rhymes with purple*

          ahahahahah let’s just say he told me he thought Mike Pence had a point. I try very hard not to discuss politics with my parents. Very hard.

          Reply
    2. PeteAndRepeat*

      It’s opening a huge can of worms for an employer to try and arbitrate what stances deny someone else’s humanity or make them feel unsafe, though. It’s incredibly subjective (anyone can claim that someone else’s opinions make them feel unsafe, and who decides whether that’s justified or not?), and will probably piss off people on both sides.

      Reply
  8. RJ*

    LW1, schedule some sit down time with your boss ASAP to talk. This same thing happened to me after receiving a glorious performance review, excellent feedback from project managers and a 5% salary increase. He restructured me out of my role two months later. I thought I was on the road to a promotion, stupid me.

    Reply
  9. Girasol*

    Can LW3 scan the team’s online calendars? Seems like it might be helpful to know whether they say “Democratic committee meeting” or “Meet with College Republicans,” or if it’s something more like “Antifa shooting practice,” “Kill the liberals rally,” or “White supremacist knot tying class.” It might help to tell whether Anonymous is overreacting to everyday political disagreement or has seen something that would cause a reasonable person to be afraid for their safety.

    Reply
  10. TimeTravlR*

    Rule #1 – if your friends are not Alison Green, you can ignore most if not all of their job hunting advice!

    Reply
  11. AJR*

    LW1: that happened to me too, but I don’t think I could have applied any of Alison’s advice in my situation. In my case, I was the most inexperienced person she managed – and therefore did really need support in learning the ropes of my organization and the industry – but, relatedly, was also the absolute least important of all her direct reports (of which she had many). She was my only supervisor and I did not really have any teammates, especially anyone who was located in my region or doing my same type of work. We were supposed to have weekly meetings but she regularly would skip at first 2-3 weeks at a time, and then 4 or so weeks at a time (the record for the longest we went was 8 weeks). I could not drop by her office – she suddenly moved me out of her office suite and changed my passcode so I couldn’t access it (without letting me know beforehand), so I had to get through two layers of receptionists to get to her.

    I don’t think she had any animus towards me. In fact, I don’t think she thought about me at all. I worked hard to make new contacts in different divisions and tried to set up informal alternative supervisory arrangements with them, but to be honest it wasn’t their job (they were kind enough to share some time with me anyway). I got pretty depressed, found myself crying most weeks, and wound up leaving that job after just 1.5 years. I loved the organization, the region, and the industry, and wish I could have figured out a way to salvage it, but I don’t know what I could have really done.

    Reply
  12. Grr (because I’ve worked with this guy)*

    I really wish LW1 would do the reference. Employees like this aren’t just bad for business, they’re bad for morale. Other employees have to work with this guy. I also think he deserves to know that he can still lose out on a job if he behaves that way at a previous job. I think OP should call the employer back and give an honest reference and then email the employee and say “I was contacted by this reference and felt I needed to give them honest feedback. It would probably be best if you remove me from your references.” Or something along those lines.

    I get OP doesn’t want to do that and I really appreciate her desire to see this person succeed. He will be much more likely to be successful if he continues this behavior and/or learns this lesson sooner than later.

    Reply
    1. Beany*

      Though if you’re contacting the unreliable ex-employee to let him know you can’t supply a good reference, perhaps you should tell him why (or at least offer to summarize the reasons). He’s most likely not going to see what you send the prospective new employer either way.

      Reply
  13. Meep*

    Re LW #1: I am not saying it is your case but I had to drop a work friend because of how extremely toxic and abusive they became. This person literally gave me PTSD. I have a diagnosis and everything. I admittedly didn’t tell them and ghosted them but it was for my sanity. Therefore, unless I need something from them that is work-related or if they have a work-related question, I don’t talk to them. They are dead to me. They have to be. They tried to kill me as far as I am concerned.

    Again, I am not saying it is the case. And regardless, they are your manager. They should be at least being professional, even if they aren’t being friendly. But something was clearly found out while you were on vacation, or perhaps someone talks to them about how they were too familiar with you? Either way, I would let it go unless they refuse to talk to you about business. Then bring it up with HR.

    Reply
  14. Hiring Mgr*

    On the reference letter: I agree that this guy certainly squandered his shot at a good reference from you and you certainly don’t owe him anything, but I don’t think you should return the call and give an honest reference (one of the suggestions). There’s no need to actively tank his chances..

    Reply
  15. kayakwriter*

    Re Office calendars: at OldOldJob, one of my female colleagues was also an endurance athlete. She’d entered the days of her monthly cycle into the calendar as it affected her training schedule. Somehow, it got sent the entire office (about a hundred people) as a series of invites…

    Reply
    1. Victoria, Please*

      Oh no!!! How really dreadful. For pretty much anything personal, but especially something considered *that* personal. I hope everyone had a good sense of proportion about it, deleted the invites, and the response boiled down to “Outlook, amirite?”

      Reply

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