my boss won’t speak to us and says “please” is disrespectful

A reader writes:

I started what I guess you can call my “dream job” six months ago, and it’s been going well except for one thing: my new boss. My boss, Jane, is a highly uninvolved person, and I am struggling to figure out the best way to communicate with her.

When I started my job, I spent the first two weeks on my own reviewing training documents because Jane was too busy to meet with me. When I finally met with her, our first meeting was less than 15 minutes and all she talked about was herself and she simply told me to keep reviewing training. That was the last time I have met with her. In the six months I have been here, I have tried to email and call her to set up meetings with her or ask questions about work to no avail. She is always “busy” and will either ignore my attempts to reach out or give me a one-sentence response that doesn’t give me any clarity on what to do.

My coworkers have been very supportive of me and have tried to help me out as best they can. I should also point out that the issue isn’t me in particular; my coworkers have similar problems with communicating with Jane and have just told me to hang in there.

Well, today I reached a breaking point. I emailed my boss to ask her to please review and approve an assignment I worked on and instead I get something else. My boss, who never communicates with me or gives me any feedback, just sent a mass email to the entire team where she sets some ground rules on communicating with her. In her email, she claimed it is highly inappropriate and disrespectful to use the word “please” when sending emails to her and that the phrases “please approve,” “can you please review,” etc. are unacceptable. She said those statements are orders and her staff should not be giving her orders. She also claimed she will not respond to any emails with those words/phrases to her.

In the years that I have been working professionally, I have never heard that the word “please” can be considered an order. And if that’s the way Jane wants to interpret that word, it’s fine, I can adjust how I communicate with her, but I need her to be clear on what her expectations are and to address this with me directly instead of sending an angry email to the entire team! It’s frustrating that in the six months I have been here, she has never once said anything to me about how I communicate with her and instead she has been stewing in her office and ignoring my emails when she sees the word “please.”

I’m at a loss at how to communicate with her. This and other issues with my new boss have made me question if this “dream job” is worth it. What should I do?

Yeah, this isn’t a dream job! It can’t be a dream job when your boss refuses to speak to you for six months, thinks “please” is rude, and proclaims she’ll ignore all emails that contain it (!).

There’s so much here that’s troubling but this is what really gives away who your boss is: “She said those statements are orders and her staff should not be giving her orders.” That is … a remarkable interpretation of “please,” and it’s also an incredibly bizarre thing for her to focus on. She’s far more invested in her emotions about authority than in actually using her authority to make things run smoothly (see: ignoring you and others for months).

For what it’s worth, I don’t agree with your supposition that she’s been ignoring your emails this whole time because you used “please.” She’s ignored your emails this whole time because she apparently ignores everyone. It’s far easier to believe that she’s just a crappy boss who can’t be bothered to train, guide, or manage her employees than to believe that she’s been nursing a grudge over “please” for six months and secretly punishing you for it by never responding to you. (I mean, it’s possible. We’ve seen far weirder things. But it’s just not nearly as likely.)

Things you’re not going to get from this job as long as you report to Jane:
* Clear expectations
* Clear/any guidance
* Communication
* Transparency
* Common sense

The best thing you can do for yourself is to see that really clearly and decide if you want the job long-term given those conditions. You might decide you do! Maybe there are enough other good things about the job to make it worthwhile. But take a really clear-eyed look at who Jane is and decide if you can live reasonably happily with that or not — because this isn’t someone who you’re going to be able to get to change (not that you’d ever have the opportunity to try, since she won’t bother to meet with you).

{ 383 comments… read them below }

  1. Office Sweater Lady*

    Wow! I would be tempted to write back to the boss again, saying “Please don’t mass email the entire staff when you have something to say to me directly”, but I suppose that probably wouldn’t help matters.

      1. irene adler*

        “Kindly do not mass email the entire staff when you have something to say to me directly.”

        I’d add a “Thank you” except that I can’t imagine how she’d respond to that.

            1. Cthulhu's Librarian*

              I didn’t think it was code at all – I had always been taught that phrases like “Would you kindly Do X” or “Kindly refrain from Y” were synomous with the longer statement “It would be curteous of you to do x” or “it would be polite of you to refrain from Y” – which is to say, kindly is performing the function of making the sentence into an imperative statement aimed at the other person.

              1. TechWorker*

                Technically yes. In reality ‘kindly refrain from y’ has a heavy overtone of ‘I shouldn’t even have to ask’. In a way that ‘please don’t do y’ doesnt, depending on tone.

              2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

                In my experience, “kindly” is often an indicator that they are holding on to their temper by their fingertips and you’d better pull your socks up.

                “Please refer to earlier correspondence for pricing” = pricing can be found in the email thread

                “Kindly refer to earlier correspondence for pricing” = you useless waste of oxygen, do I have to spoon feed you every single thing, it’s right there ffs

                Context: am British. The politer we sound, the angrier we are.

                1. Catherine*

                  This feels very regional to me. A lot of my colleagues in Southeast Asia (mainly Singapore and the Philippines) start with “kindly” in initial emails when you haven’t even had a chance to get on their nerves yet. It can sound a little stilted but rarely indicates temper in my experience.

                2. Lizzie*

                  An Indian doctor who referred clients to me would always finish the letter with “Kindly do the needful” which always amused and charmed me.

                3. allathian*

                  Yup, there are regional differences. To me, kindly sounds borderline sarcastic and I’d never, ever use it in professional emails in English. Granted, the vast majority of the emails I write are in Finnish or Swedish. In each language there’s an equivalent word to “kindly”, “ystävällisesti” and “vänligen”, which put me in a very unfriendly frame of mind when I see them. Come to think of it, the people who’ve used “kindly” in emails to me were all Asian. I shrugged it off as a regional difference and wasn’t offended.

                  There’s nothing impolite or disrespectful about “please”.

          1. JM in England*

            “Kindly” was a sort-of catchphrase with a former manager. So much so that myself and coworkers at that job would have a sweepstake as to how often he would say it during staff meetings!

      2. ecnaseener*

        “Dearest Boss, I would be ever so grateful if you would consider my humble request to speak with me directly when I have displ– pardon me, when I have failed you in some way.”

      3. Amaranth*

        I would print it out along with a few examples of OP’s ‘can you please help me as a new employee/give guidance/approve work’ emails and put them aside for possible show & tell if OP ever gets a negative performance review.

    1. MusicWithRocksIn*

      I am trying so hard to think about how you would ask her to do something that is, you know, her actual job to do. Maybe:

      If you feel predisposed to it and feel you want to could you review the attached document? It needs approval above my level before it can be sent to a client, who is expecting it by next Monday, the 2nd of August. If you do not feel that you should or can review the document, are you able to let me know who can approve it on your level? Thank you for your consideration.

      I appreciate anything you can do,

      Maybe not enough groveling? Or perhaps:

      As a new member of your staff I would find it very constructive if you would let me know how you would prefer me to address things with you that require your approval or guidance? I can refrain from using the P word, but things like X and Y do require A and B from you, how would you like me to frame those requests?


      1. Redd*

        Maybe you just phrase everything as a question?

        “As part of the upcoming project launch, I am required to get a manager’s review and approval. You are my manager. This project is essential. My documents are attached. What would you like for me to do next?

        PS all hail Jane I am not worth etc.

      2. GraceRN*

        Me too, I’m racking my brain here trying to imagine how Boss wants OP to say it. Would it be something like:
        Your Majesty,
        I am prostrate at your feet asking for a favor to be granted from your exalted lips. The undeserved presence of my email in your glorious inbox undoubtedly soiled your eminent eyes. However if you can bestow upon me the favor of your gracious opinions on my proposal draft, I shall forever be grateful to Your Majesty.
        Your humble and faithful servant, OP.

        Boss: Off with her head! How dare she approached my throne unsummoned! Guards, 40 lashes to OP and forever banish her from my court!!

      3. LKW*

        I’m in the boat too. How do you ask someone to do complete an activity without actually requesting they complete an activity?

        I’ve no doubt that if the LW requested an example how Jane would like this framed all the LW would bet back is “You figure it out”.

      4. Siege*

        Her actual job is to not do her job, I don’t know why anyone is trying to figure out the phrase that works. She doesn’t do work.

      5. Baker*

        Most worshipful Manager,
        Though I am not worthy, thy humble servant most respectfully begs the favor of a reply.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I think the boss isn’t getting caught up on the actual word please, the pass is getting actually caught up on the verb form. It’s a bit of a stretch, but if possible she wants them to ask “will you Xyz?”

      1. Simply the best*

        I would just stop making requests all together and just send things as a statement of fact. Instead of “please approve” I’d send “this needs approval.” It’s not ordering her to do anything, just letting her know of that particular project’s status. Then it’s up to her to do her job.

        But really this is dumb and I would also be going to my boss’s boss to let them know that this is dumb and start job searching because this is not something I would be willing to continue with.

        1. Amaranth*

          It sounds like OP might no longer even need Jane’s participation in order to be effective, so maybe it would help to ask the peers who have actually taken on OP’s training what they do for approvals. It might be they’ve created a de facto department lead or go around Jane altogether.

    3. nonethefewer*

      Speaking of ideas that would absolutely not help at all and so don’t follow them: I don’t recommend setting up a giant whiteboard in a common area with a list of keywords to test and what responses have come back.

      “Okay, LW sent one with “please” and got a response. What happens with “kindly” or “thanks in advance”?”

    4. Emma*

      You’re all very nice! I would choose to assume that Jane wants you to go the other way:

      Hi Jane,

      You will review these documents.


      P.s. this is not an order, I can see the future

    5. TootsNYC*

      This actually just proves Jane’s point, this sentence. The word “please” can absolutely come across bossy. It does in this sentence—this reads like an order with “please” tacked on the front. It’s all in the tone, and email always has the rudest tone.

      I think Jane is aware of exactly how high and dry she is leaving her staff, and being internally defensive, she gives these the worst interpretation

    6. bopper*

      I had a similar situation…a report couldn’t be issued unless the boss signed off…he was so behind on email…after a few attempts I put “PLEASE REVIEW: SIGN OFF NEEDED” or something in all caps and he told me not to put stuff in all caps…i think it is projection…they feel guilty so they project their anger on you. He was also very busy so what we ended up doing is printing out the document, watching his IM status and when it turned green…then asking a nearby coworker to check if he was in his office and then run over and then casually ask if he could sign off on the document.

      1. TardyTardis*

        I once gave a Big Boss’s assistant a document that needed to be signed and a chocolate bar. I’m not proud (and I knew the assistant anyway, he was a sweetheart).

  2. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

    Well, technically nightmares are dreams… There have to be better work environments than this for you, right, LW?

    1. quill*

      OP, you are about to discover that you have been taking a test for a course you were never enrolled in, in a foreign language you don’t speak, without pants on the ENTIRE TIME, and then fall a few million feet after tripping over a doorsill.

      Get out before you hit the ground and wake up!

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        And that toilet you have been using, it’s a one-way mirror to the outside. And there are clowns.

    2. Boo Radley*

      I was definitely thrown by the juxtaposition of the title and that phrase. For a little bit I thought Alison had accidentally posted the wrong letter under the wrong title. You can’t have a nightmare mentor in a dream job. That’s like having a “dream house” without any roof or floors.

        1. Barbara Eyiuche*

          Maybe the boss comes from a dysfunctional family where ‘please’ and other polite words were used to mask anger. The more my father said things that would have sounded polite if written down, the angrier he was. ‘I wonder, if it’s not too much trouble, could you …, please.’ meant he was seething with rage.
          Maybe try just baldly asking the boss to do something, without ‘please’ or any other softening language.

          1. quill*

            I mean, even if boss has reasons… so far we haven’t seen any evidence that they’ll respond positively to any sort of workaround.

          2. Sparrow*

            If there is no softening language, doesn’t that make it MORE like an order? I can’t possibly imagine her being ok with that, either. It sounds to me that she’s just saying, I will never do any work you think I should/need to do so don’t bother emailing me about it.

    3. PeanutButter*

      It reminds me of the section in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader when the ship lands on the Isle of Dreams…and the crew is excited until they realize it’s the island hosts ALL dreams.

  3. MMMMMmmmmMMM*

    How has Jane lasted in this position? At any point, has anyone spoken up to either HR or Jane’s boss? That would be my next step.

    1. another wack NP office*

      I had a supervisor like this once in non-profit setting. What they lacked in office interpersonal skills they made up in charm applied to donors. The amount of money they brought in was unfathomable. I left in a few years. They are still there.

      1. PT*

        I had a boss like this in nonprofit too. She didn’t last long, maybe a year. She took work off the executive director’s plate, and it was the work the executive director was bad at. Some changes needed to be made and people don’t like change and they get angry at change, so she became the “bad cop” who did that because it didn’t bother her.

        But she also spent a ton of time micromanaging people, hoarding work, blocking people from doing their jobs, stalking them, and creating weird interpersonal in groups/out groups so people were constantly paranoid their coworkers were spying on them for her.

      2. Cafe au Lait*

        My husband’s former boss is a nightmare. Before he left she put him a PIP for not turning projects as quickly as she wanted. An equivalent: if they worked at a TV studio, she was asking him to create, shoot, edit and release an HGTV quality show about remodeling houses in ten days. He had a shoe string budget, no assistants or peers to help.

        She was elected to a government job in a landslide. Hubs said she schmoozed anyone she thought would help her move to the next level.

      3. Smithy*

        Also had a boss in a similar vein to this in a non-profit. Basically week one he explained that he didn’t like managing and thought 1 on 1’s were a waste of time and I’d be able to figure things out as I went along.

        Best I can guess is that at least in nonprofits, that because salaries only really increase as people move up the management ladder – that there’s often a push for people to get leadership roles regardless of whether or not they have any leadership proclivity. It’s also not uncommon for these people to have had bad managers themselves, so it can be a case of not having a lot of good management or mentorship to learn from and a distaste for that piece of the job as is.

    2. HotSauce*

      That’s exactly what I was thinking. I’m not a big fan of going over someone’s head, but I think it’s definitely needed in this situation.

    3. Cat Tree*

      Jane’s boss might be nearly as hands-off and doesn’t want to deal with it. I’ve had bosses that rarely spoke to me (not as extreme as Jane though). And their managers either don’t want to or don’t know how to manage it. So they just don’t.

    4. ThatGirl*

      Yeah, it all depends, but if this sort of thing happened to me, I’d ask for a meeting with my boss’ boss and just lay it out in a factual sort of way and see what they said.

    5. Monty & Millie's Mom*

      Agree. Maybe talk to coworkers for more clarity about this – perhaps they have already tried that and it didn’t go well? But maybe they could band together, especially if any/all of them have a paper trail or email proof or something.

      Definitely decide if you can live with someone like this, but I’d say that going this route – HR or grand-boss, via coworkers – might be a good way to at least gather intel about what to expect going forward. If someone can and will address it from above to get changes, it might be worth it to stay. If the answer is clearly that this is it, forever, she’s never gonna change, then yeah – that’s also valuable info.

      1. HarvestKaleSlaw*

        I like the “band together” option sometimes, but here, I think it would be a mistake. You need to be asking for something, when you organize. But what would this working group ask for?

        Fire the bad manager? That doesn’t happen.

        Force the bad manager to be more involved? Imagine how well being forced into hands-on management is going to go, with someone who sees “please” as the filthy peasants daring, DARING! to give orders.

        There is clearly a very, very great deal wrong with this manager, and having her sealed inside a vault where she can’t communicate with the outside might be the GOOD outcome.

        I would suggest the OP develop relationships across departments and levels, so they have references when they leave the job and also so they can get a better sense of how the wind blows at that company and why that terrible manager is where she is.

    6. Meep*

      I have a Jane. Won’t do her job. Refuses to check emails if it doesn’t benefit her. Even if it does, she will make you send 10 “fresh copies” (never loathed a phrase more) because she cannot be bothered to check more than the first email. She gets annoyed when you copy her boss, but she will actually respond because she is forced to. It doesn’t matter he won’t check his email 9/10 times. I would start by copying her boss too. So at the very least, there is a visible paper trail.

    7. SuperDiva*

      Same. I would be making an exit plan, but I’d also be printing out the “don’t order me around by saying ‘please'” email and taking it straight to HR. This level of BS is way above LW’s pay grade.

    8. Koalafied*

      Seriously, as a manager who frequently struggles to balance my non-management work demands with making sure I’m available to my direct report when she needs me, I’m flabbergasted that this could be allowed to go on for so long. My direct supervisor and my direct report are the only two people in my department that I go out of my way to respond to any/all emails and chats during work hours promptly, regardless of how busy I am or what else I’m in the middle of, because it feels like it would be such a huge failing if I didn’t.

      If other people were to complain that I’m too hard to reach, I feel like you can chalk that up to me having a lot on my plate and having to triage and them just not being in the top triage category, which sucks but I can’t imagine would get me any more severe consequences than my manager talking to me about how we/I can improve my response times. But if my direct report were to complain that I’m too hard to reach, I feel like that would be a Serious Problem that I would be told to immediately fix if I wanted to get a satisfactory or better mark on my next annual review. I consider it that much a part of a manager’s core job. You can’t just not do a core piece of your job!

    9. Mandycake*

      Can the LW go to the boss’ boss with this. Someone needs to know about this disfunction.
      I had a boss that I pretty much only heard from when I did something wrong. It pays with your head.

    10. Nicky*

      I was surprised that nowhere in the response is the suggestion to talk to Jane’s boss about this, or HR, just “decide if you want to keep working like this”. This seems out of character for a page which is usually very helpful.

  4. AdAgencyChick*

    I’m really curious as to what Jane thinks IS an appropriate way for an employee to ask for necessary reviews. Or maybe she just doesn’t think anyone should ever be asking her for anything. Eek.

    1. MMMMMmmmmMMM*

      Thats a possibility! Respond to her email asking, “How would you like us to request you review/approve materials from here on out?”

      … Though I suppose with a boss as unhinged as Jane she wouldn’t respond.

        1. NotAnotherManager!*

          Heck, I’d be tempted to forward it to her boss (or leave a copy of it on the boss’s chair). If one of my managers was behaving that way, I’d sure want to know.

          Jane would give my boss and my director of HR an aneurysm as well as cause for termination.

    2. Dust Bunny*

      I suspect that the only “appropriate” way to ask is not to ask, so she doesn’t have to do this particular part of her job.

      I wonder if she’s really that busy or if she’s filling time to avoid real work.

    3. Kitano*

      “Dear Glorious Leader Jane,

      I humbly request the honor and privilege of thine esteemed attention on the quarterly expense report, though I know that such tasks are below the gaze of one so excellent and wise as thee.”

      With deepest admiration and respect,
      Letter Writer”

      Something like this, maybe?

      1. NotJane*

        Could you please find somewhere to work the phrase “eternally grateful” into the script?

      2. Arabella Flynn*

        Technically, not quite. “Thee” is actually the second-person singular familiar pronoun. In dialects that still retain the distinction, like in some Mennonite communities, “you” is used for both singular formal and plural informal situations, like tu/vous (French), tu/Usted (Spanish), or du/Sie (German), if you speak any of those languages. I wouldn’t risk it with someone who is already plainly unhinged over asserting her authori-tah.

        1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          “Thou” is the English second person singular nominative. “Thee” is accusative. “Thy” is genitive.

          Thou art my friend.
          I brought this cup of coffee for thee. Thou shalt find the creamer in the ‘fridge and sweeteners in the cabinet.
          I don’t see thy car in the parking lot; didst thou carpool today?

          In modern English, it’s reserved for intimacy, not reverence, respect, or formality, so +1 with Arabella. It doesn’t work with the type of individual this boss is.

          1. Nanani*

            The usual reason people get this wrong is they associate thou with ~high art~ (even though e.g., Shakespeare was definitely low art at the time it was written) and with prayers; since if your dialect doesn’t use these words anymore you’ll only see them in special circumstances, it’s easy to think this is Special Fancy Word for Special Fancy times.

          2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

            It’s also used for talking to God, fwiw. She might like it on those grounds.

        2. knitting librarian (with cats)*

          The history of pronouns in English is actually quite fascinating. Some members of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) still use thee as an in-group indicator, from a tradition of maintaining the singular/plural distinction of thee/thou and you, as well as the social class distinction that the two had at the time of the start of Friends (1650s/1660s). The use of thee or thou as the singular varied a bit by what area of England a person was from.

          Going back to the letter ~ in my experience, adding please is used to change the meaning of the request from ‘Do this!’ to ‘will you please do this?’ In other words, please makes a request instead of an order, so it seems like the supervisor actually has things the wrong way around ;-)

          1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

            That’s very interesting; I had never heard of thee supplanting thou in the nominative. Thank you.

          2. Sasha*

            Still widely used in some dialects as well – Yorkshire, famously, and I think some Scottish ones as well.

    4. Keymaster of Gozer*

      She probably believes that since she’s paid more money than her staff that they had better approach her like someone…

      ..I was going to say like greeting a monarch but our Queen Liz wouldn’t be *this* rude.

      1. Chris too*

        I’m sure our Queen Elizabeth wouldn’t be rude at all! And we know she spends a lot of time reviewing papers. She would be a big improvement.
        Honestly, I’d be inclined to just not worry about having anybody review my stuff, as long as I understood what the aims of the job are. It’s not like you haven’t tried.

        1. SarahKay*

          Yep, I reckon our queen Elizabeth would consider it the height of rudeness to ‘kick down’ like this manager is doing.

          1. Bagpuss*

            True, although you do have to curtsy or bow when you meet her, and walk backwards leaving her presence, so I’m not sure she is the ideal management role model…

    5. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Exactly. Does she expect a passive voice announcement?

      “The new Llama Grooming Manual has been completed. It needs to be reviewed.”

    6. Nanani*

      I think it’s the second one. It’s not reasonable so she picked a completely abnormal reading of a common word as an excuse, but the underlying message has got to be “Don’t send me any work ever”.

    7. hbc*

      I’ve been known to write some strictly informational, request-free emails when I’m trying to wash my hands of something. I might go with, “Jane, the Peterson document is attached. The finance team’s due date for receiving the reviewed copy is next Friday. I’m happy to answer questions or make revisions should any come up.”

      1. Kim*

        I think your approach is the way to go. Well done .Professsional and to the point. The other sarcastic approaches are fun to say in your head , but will likely get her fired.

    8. Catalin*

      That was my thought. Would something like…”Dearest Jane, I desperately need your assistance. Without your guidance and input, this project will stall. Only you can save us, Obi…”, no, wait.

      Just…how? What verbiage is acceptable? “We will proceed once you’ve approved”? “We will proceed after your feedback?”

    9. Archaeopteryx*

      It would sound like talking down to a child: “Hi Jane, here’s the XYZ document. The next step in the process is typically for you to review and sign off on it, should you so choose.”

      Your mission, if you choose to accept it: Do Your Job, Jane.

    10. Librarian of SHIELD*

      I don’t think there’s a way for an employee to ask Jane for something that doesn’t end up in a reaction like this.

      I worked for a version of Jane in the past, and she had basically decided that her job was to do the things she wanted to do. If you asked her to do a thing she didn’t want to do, the kindest possible response was a brush off, but there were certainly emails like the one LW describes as well as private meetings for scoldings, and sometimes public meetings for scoldings.

      The Please Email is a red herring. She doesn’t care about the word please. What she’s really saying is “I decide what I do and you don’t get to try and change my mind.” Unless this company has a really great HR, I think Jane’s just gonna Jane and LW has to figure out whether they’re willing to work around her for the rest of their time in her department.

    11. SnappinTerrapin*

      Jane doesn’t want to work. She doesn’t want to be reminded that she has responsibilities that need to be met in order to draw her pay.

      Maybe, if senior management realize how poorly she performs the core function of her job, to-wit, managing the workload assigned to her team, they might find a suitable position for her. Maybe being locked in a vault, as someone else suggested, where she at least doesn’t undermine the efforts of this team.

    12. Benton Fraser, RCMP*

      I’m given to understand that requisitions for office supplies must be filled out in triplicate, with your initials on each page and your signature on the last. The necessary papers are attached to this memo and I would be grateful if you would initial and sign them at your earliest convenience.
      Thank you kindly.

  5. WonderMint*

    I had a boss that took issue with the word, “Sure” It was just the tip of the iceberg in his quirks, and he was eventually let go for anger issues…

    1. Cat Tree*

      I had a boss who disliked the symbol # or the abreviation “no.” and insisted we spell out “number” every time. It was mostly just a weird quirk, but could hold up time sensitive documents when he insisted we change it before he would approve, and then it had to go back through the previous 3 reviewers.

      1. Nea*

        Paperclips. I had a boss who didn’t like paper clips. You had to put a little piece of buffer paper over whatever you were clipping, and put the paper clip over that.

        1. Phony Genius*

          We had an employee who hated them too. She had been in the Army and explained that paper clips were completely banned in the Army. Staples only!

          1. Dust Bunny*

            Ha ha ha I work in an historical archive and we haaaaate staples and, especially tape. At least paperclips are reversible.

            1. JustaTech*

              When I worked Preservation at an academic library they hated paperclips more than staples, because when the paperclips rusted (happened a lot) they left a bigger and more damaging mark on the paper than a staple.

              The solution was to put anything loose in an envelope.

              And you could only use wooden pencils for labeling, because the graphite was more durable than ink. It was an interesting summer job.

              (Personally what I hate is people who paperclip or staple things within a binder, so you go to run the binder through the scanner and then it gets hung up on a staple that doesn’t even need to be there.)

            2. NotAnotherManager!*

              Rubber bands are also awful. I’ve worked with enough documents returned from a client’s offsite records storage warehouse to know that rubber bands are not made for long-term use. I much prefer the ones that dry rot and crumble to the ones that get gross and sticky, though.

              My industry is big into binder clips of all sizes.

          2. SnappinTerrapin*

            Well, another option is to fold down the upper left corner of the multi-page document, slice two parallel cuts, perpendicular to the diagonal edge, and fold the resulting tab in the opposite direction from the original fold.

            That will hold the pages together in order, without wasting scarce steel.

    2. Rob aka Mediancat*

      I had a co-worker once who detested the word “what” when it meant either “I didn’t hear you” or “I didn’t understand you.” Not merely when said in irritation, but under all circumstances. She tried to teach me to use “excuse me” instead.

      Which I did. With her. Everyone else kept getting polite “what”s.

      1. Bagpuss*

        I can understand that one more than some of the others – I was taught that ‘What’ was impolite, so I tend to avoid it and do occasionally have to remind myself that it’s not (or no loge, perhaps) generally seen as rude.

        I have one co-worker who has a habit of putting documents into plastic sleeves – not the kind to use in lever arch files, but the kind that are open on two sides and just keep the paper clan. I hates them. But I also know that that’s a me thing, not something that it’s legitimate to get pissy with people about. (I have asked her not to do it what they are documents she needs me to sign/check, and when she remembers I appreciate it, and when she forgets, I just get on with it because it’s not reasonable to get grouchy about.

        1. The Original K.*

          Yeah, I was raised not to say “what.” I can hear my elders now: “don’t answer me ‘what.'” We had to say “what did you say?” or “excuse me?” I think I tend to say “what’s that?” when I don’t hear someone.

          1. Koalafied*

            Same. “What’s that?” was drilled into me from a young age as the more respectful way to ask for something to be repeated.

            1. SnappinTerrapin*





              The questioning inflection indicates a request for repetition or clarification.

              In two-way radio communication, “Say again” is appropriate when “10 codes” (10-9) aren’t used.

              In that context, “Repeat” could be misinterpreted by an artillerist to believe one is requesting a repeat salvo on the same target.

              But I understand if someone asks “What?”, “What’s that?”, or “Excuse me?”

      2. nona*

        I had a boss who’s short-cut to “stronger” writing was to demand the removal of the word “that”.

        Now, I’ll admit, in many cases, removal does make a better sentence. But there were some instances where it was just too hard to write around and avoid the word made for an annoying sentence. But she would Ctrl-F for “that” and would send a document back for edits to remove it. No suggestions on “how” to reword it (thus demonstrating why it would benefit from removal), just to remove the word and reword the sentence.

        (Note, I almost used “that” a couple times in writing this because its my informal head voice, but editted it out because typing this up made me self-conscious about using it)

      3. Sasha*

        Interesting – in the UK, “what?” Is the more upper class version, and “excuse me” either means “oi, move out of my way”, or is seen as lower class. I tend to go with “sorry I didn’t quite hear you there”, which is less abrupt.

      4. MCMonkeyBean*

        Fascinating–I feel like “excuse me” in that context usually means something more like “I heard what you said but I cannot believe that you said it, how dare you”

        1. MCMonkeyBean*

          I’m now sitting here muttering to myself trying to say “excuse me” in a polite way rather than a WTF-did-you-just-say-way and honestly I’m struggling haha. But I see other comments that they say it that way so maybe I’m the odd one out.

    3. Koalafied*

      What’s the consensus these days on, “That was my bad,” in the workplace? Assuming you said it in the same tone of voice you would say, “That was my fault,” and that in either case you would be following that statement with an explanation/plan for remedying the error/plan for preventing the error, all the stuff that’s appropriate to do when you make a mistake.

      I seem to remember a decade ago being told that “my bad” sounded more flippant than “my fault” regardless of tone of voice or anything else you said about the mistake, and should just be straight-up excised from my work vocabulary, but my sense is that it’s become more normalized. Curious what others see/think these days.

      1. Me*

        Yeah I think ‘my bad’ is still too informal for real errors. It doesn’t sound contrite at all. There was a rather famous example of a politician her (Australia) who committed a monumental stuff up and excused it in an interview as ‘my bad’. Didn’t go down well with the voters.

        1. MCMonkeyBean*

          Yeah, I think it’s a scale thing for sure. Probably reasonable for “who left this milk in the fridge too long” but not so much for “who accidentally emailed all of our clients’ personal information to the public mailing list?”

      2. Sparrow*

        I would never say “my bad” to my boss or to a coworker I didn’t have a particularly friendly relationship with. “That was my fault” or “that was on me” are fine, but even though I think there are ways you can make “my bad” sound more serious/genuine and there are some circumstances where it would be fine at work, I personally find the phrase itself too flippant for most formal situations. (And I’m in my 30s so I grew up with “my bad” – I still wouldn’t say it in the vast majority of work settings.)

    4. cncx*

      i had a boss (also who wouldn’t talk to me like OP’s boss) who laid into me over email for using the word “rubric” on an internal email (i could have maybe seen a justification of it was something external or a presentation) but didn’t tell me what word she wanted me to use in its place, like “section”? I don’t know, not a mind reader

      i’m happy to say this person has had karma handed back to her in spades

    5. Elizabeth*

      As a young grad I had a supervisor who was annoyed by affirmative words (‘ok’, ‘right’, ‘got it’, etc) when she would dictate a list of changes to documents/drawings/etc.

      I felt that it indicated I was following along and paying attention. One day she literally screamed mid-session, ‘stop saying OK and right!’ I stammered an apology and from then on sat in silence.

  6. Threeve*

    Unless she owns the place, there has got to be someone else in the organization to forward that email to; it’s absurdly unprofessional and unkind, and her “management” style can’t be anything but detrimental to the department’s productivity.

    1. Artemesia*

      This. Print the thing out and get a meeting with the uber boss, her boss, the CEO depending on how big and how flat the organization is — And lay out the difficulty reaching her, your various failed attempts, your need to have her sign off on things you have done and her response to your request — and hand the boss the print out of the ‘please’ memo. And ask their advice on how to deal. And if you can’t move within this organization time to start up the job search again.

    2. The New Wanderer*

      Absolutely. Forward the email to her boss and ask what strategies the grandboss has for an effective working relationship with this so-called manager.

      1. Esmeralda*

        Given Jane’s temperament, I’d find a way to send that email to the grandboss anonymously. Print it out and mail it anonymously?

        1. Eat My Squirrel*

          Never a good idea. Better to just include that you’re afraid of retaliation and could they ensure that doesn’t happen.

  7. Escaped a Work Cult*

    I’m stunned honestly by this and almost wondering if she wants a “may you kindly” a la Bioshock. Other than deciding if the job is worth it, is there a grand boss to appeal to over this?

      1. Perfectly Particular*

        I worked for a guy that had this same hang-up about “please”. It seems that he took any version of “please” to mean “puhhhh-leeaasse” like we were all sassy teenagers. So we reworded to “Document xyz is in your inbox, and needs to be approved by Friday”. This went over fine.

        This won’t help with the rest of the non-communication though – how weird and awful when you are just trying to get settled in!

    1. Lime green Pacer*

      If you would deign to favour me with a little of your precious time, I would appreciate your valuable feedback on this TPS report. If it’s not too much trouble.

      1. SheLooksFamiliar*

        Aaand now I’m hearing the prayer from Monty Python’s Meaning of Life:

        O, Lord, ooh, you are so big. So absolutely huge. Gosh, we’re all really impressed down here, I can tell You. Forgive us, O Lord, for this, our dreadful toadying, and barefaced flattery. But You are so strong and, well, just so super. Fantastic. Amen.

  8. The Original K.*

    Yeah, this isn’t a dream job! It can’t be a dream job when your boss refuses to speak to you for six months, thinks “please” is rude, and proclaims she’ll ignore all emails that contain it (!).
    My first thought was “this doesn’t sound like a dream job to me!” You may like the work but if you’re not getting feedback, you’re not going to be able to grow.

    In your shoes, I’d be trying to get out from under her – if the company is great, maybe move to a different role within it, or onto a different team doing the same work where you’re not managed by Jane. But you can’t reason with her; she’s showed you that over the last six months. She’s a bad boss and she’s not going to change.

    … This is so weird to me – she never meets with any of her team? Ever? And that’s OK? What does her manager say about it? She just … never gives feedback? How does stuff get approved?

    1. Dasein9*

      Right? How do annual evaluations get done?
      This would worry me quite a lot, since that’s usually what raises and advancement are based on.

        1. the Viking Diva*

          thank for that typo, intended or not. Changing the name of the folder now… so at least “annual evils” will make me chuckle *before* I groan

        1. The Original K.*

          Not just that, but … stuff. Who signs off on invoices over a certain amount? Who approves web content? Who approves purchase orders or vendor contracts? Does she show up at meetings?

          1. Koalafied*

            Yeah, maybe it’s because I work with a bunch of overachievers anyways, but I just can’t fathom how this works. Most of our work is self-generated and myself, my boss, and my report are all SMEs in different areas, so it’s not even that my report needs me to approve stuff very often (other than PTO and expense reports) or that I need my own boss to approve stuff, because approvals tend to be based on cross-departmental functional teams. E.g. every department has a Pickle Chopper, and the Pickle Chopper reports to a Plate Manager in the Plates Department and the Bowl Manager in the Bowls Department, but Pickle Choppers would get their approval by a Senior Pickle Director in the Garnishes Department.

            But like. People talk to each other. I can’t imagine it would take my report more than 2 or 3 days – if even that long – before she asked someone else if they had heard from me recently and mentioned she was having trouble getting ahold of me or started asking around for what to do if she can’t get a response from me. And the fact that she was going around saying/asking those things would get back to my own boss pretty quickly and the my own boss would be having words for me!

    2. Despachito*

      Yes, this, and it means the team is absolutely able to function without her, which leads to a conclusion that perhaps her position should be eliminated – the company would suffer no harm as she does not appear to do anything, and moreover they would save her salary (they could possibly distribute it among the rest of the team who are doing REAL work).

      OK, I’ll stop dreaming and return back to the real life.

    3. Letter Writer*

      You are right, I guess this really isn’t a “dream job” with all this craziness with Jane. My goal is definitely to move to another role in my company as far away from Jane as possible. Unfortunately I have to stay put for a few more months until I complete my probation period.

  9. Amy Farrah Fowler*

    What on earth? Can you forward her email to her boss? Or is Jane the owner of the company? I just don’t understand how this has gone on this long. Jane should be fired.

    1. Spicy Tuna*

      Yeah, she so nicely documented her issues for you, I say forward that email to someone who can get things done. Even if you’re new and/or haven’t interacted with that person very much, this rises to the level of forwarding up the ladder.

    2. vampire physicist*

      +1, if there is ANYONE above Jane (ie, if she’s not CEO/owner) I’d forward this and maybe get some coworkers together since it sounds like this is a problem.

    1. Radio Girl*

      My best advice would be to start job hunting. Meanwhile, nourish those coworker relationships.

  10. Bee Eye Ill*

    When you finally resign, be sure to put “Please accept this letter of resignation” in your written notice.

    1. Snailing*

      LOL yes! I’d be finding all sorts of ways to work in “please” from here on out. This is just too bizarre

      1. Dee Dee*

        This is pure awesomeness!! (I’m glad you pointed out what the first letters of the paragraphs spell, I wouldn’t have picked that up on my own!)

  11. anonymouse*

    She hasn’t been nursing a grudge over “please.” I think that is something she pulled out of thin air today. I bet in another six months, someone will send her an email with “I need to confirm…” and she will reply to all that her staff will not demand things from her.
    And hopefully the person who gets that message is not OP.

    1. Controlling controller*

      Seconded! I had a boss like this and she would fly off the handle at such infractions as people: leaving papers on her chair instead of her desk, getting to work early, getting to work late, being too detail oriented, appearing too happy, taking a long lunch, not taking enough lunches, and on and on. Basically just looking for an excuse to share her misery! Sometimes it would be a group email, and sometimes an angrily whispered conversation with whoever wasn’t on the naughty list. She was eventually asked to retire but some of us still have leftover ex-boss anxiety!

  12. Hiphopanonymous*

    Get out. As soon as you can. I worked at a job where I spent the first six months waving away all sorts of similar red flags from a bad boss. It was an absolute confidence-shattering experience after that and I still have literal nightmares about the way my boss treated me. Leave now while your sanity is intact, or prepare for things to get worse from here.

    1. Meep*

      THIS. Sooner the better. I am still not out but I am experiencing PTSD symptoms. I had a full-blown panic attack when I found out my current manager might be leaving and I might have to work under my abusive manager again.

    2. cncx*

      yup i needed therapy after the boss who did me like OP’s boss did (down to criticizing word choice) and i was only there six weeks. Six months…woo wee

  13. pcake*

    I’d forward that email to Jane’s boss or another higher-up and to HR, saying only that all Jane’s employees received this email. Let her words speak for themselves.

  14. Delta Delta*

    How… are you supposed to get anything done? I’m envisioning something that requires her sign-off, like an expense report or something. Sending to her and saying, “could you please take a look?” seems like a … normal way to ask someone to do something that helps the company function. What even is this?

    1. anonymouse*

      Yes, what part of manager does this person not understand? Oh, all of it. Her job is to manage the people in the group. If she can’t be bothered interacting with people “below” her, she can find an independent contributor position somewhere.
      Preferably on the moon. I hear there’s transportation now.

    2. Aggretsuko*

      I assume in this job everyone just has to work around Jane. I wouldn’t ask her for anything that she doesn’t absolutely have to be the only person doing it.

      That said, asking someone to do something at work IS an order, really, whether or not you say “please” first. But Jane has no intention of doing anything anyone else wants, so….. there we go.

      1. SnappinTerrapin*

        No, when you advise your manager that the work flow has reached the stage where she needs to do her part, that IS NOT an order. It’s simply a piece of useful information, which she can handle as it “pleases” her.

        On the other hand, if it becomes necessary for HER manager to instruct her to perform her duties, THAT is an order, whether it “pleases” her or not.

    1. Lucious*

      I’ve seen this movie before. Spoiler alert- the grand boss usually doesn’t care or is even worse on the toxic manager scale.

      1. Butterfly Counter*

        At least then OP would know. It feels like this is the moment they find out if this company actually functions. 1. They go to grandboss who talks to Jane and things move ahead for OP or 2. Grandboss ignores OP, leaving them exactly where they are now (or worse if Jane retaliates).

        If it’s 2, sounds like now is the time to cut bait.

        This is a missing stair scenario. If OPs workers have all just learned how to work around the missing stair, the grandboss might not even know. But if OP brings it up, it might lead to actually fixing the issue.

      2. Nanani*

        Or she’s really good at kissing up (to grand boss or to donors or something like that) and that’s why the higher ups don’t care that working for this manager is miserable.

  15. learnedthehardway*

    Is there anyone in a more senior management position or in HR that you can contact? Because that is straight up NON-management, with a dollop of nastiness on top.

    Also, I would dust off your resume and start looking for a new role. Sounds like nobody has managed to solve the problem of your manager before you arrived, so I would guess the issue is unlikely to change.

  16. RabbitRabbit*

    At least using “please” gives the veneer of asking. I’d consider making the same requests but without the word “please” if she really wants to see what orders look like.

    1. Snailing*

      “Hi Jane, I need this confirmed by Tuesday. Thanks – OP.” Just wait for the conniption fit after that….

    2. Batty Twerp*

      Yeah, she’s got it totally back-asswards if she thinks using “please” is an order! *Not* using “please” is usually interpreted as an order (at least by the rest of the sane world).

    3. Pippa K*

      I don’t know, I think phrasing can make something sound like an order or a request with or without “please.” If I say to my grad assistant, “please check the citations in this paper for accuracy,” I’m definitely giving an instruction; I’m just polite about it. If I say to my chair, “hi X, here’s the budget request. It’s due Tuesday, so if you could approve it before then, that would be great, thanks” I’m making a request. It sounds to me like OP’s boss isn’t really hung up on the word “please” but over-sensitive to phrasing that she finds insufficiently supplicant-like. It sounds like an awful place to work and I hope OP finds a better situation!

      1. Phony Genius*

        Only potential problem is that if she hates “please,” then how might she respond to “thanks?”

        1. Pippa K*

          Oh who knows, with this particular boss. I’m just saying that “please” and “thank you” are ordinary politeness in both requests and orders, and most people can tell the difference from phrasing rather than the presence of those words. In fact, the only time I give orders without “please,” I’m either talking to a dog or a horse (no one says “whoa, please!”), or I’m very angry indeed.

      2. AnonForThis*

        Yes but the crap communication from the boss makes it tough to figure out what her actual problem is.

        My boss had previously told us that we need a 24 hour response window for all emails, even if it’s just to say “I’m looking into this.” He clarified there was no need to check email on weekends or late at night, that kind of thing. Then a couple weeks ago, he handed down the message (via a manager who had no additional info) that for those of us who have a flex schedule around core hours (some start extremely early, some work very late) to make sure to respond in a timely fashion – and I have no idea what that means.

        I’m assuming one of us is not following the 24 hour rule. Or maybe there was something urgent that needed faster response than 24 hours and it took a while. Or maybe he does want to check work email outside of our work hours now. Or something. But we don’t know!

  17. Bluesboy*

    I wouldn’t agree with the boss, but I could vaguely see an objection to imperatives which happen to include the word ‘please’. I mean “Please send this to Wakeen” or “please make any necessary edits” are phrases I can see a manager using to an employee – so I can see how she might see them as an order, and so inappropriate to use employee to boss (don’t agree with her though).

    But if she objects, as in OPs example, to ‘can you please review?’ as a question rather than an imperative…then that leaves me completely lost. How could an employee ever ask their boss help with anything if they can’t use either an imperative or a question?

    1. HotSauce*

      I think that’s the point the boss is trying to make: never contact me for any reason. She sounds like a real piece of work.

      1. Nanani*

        My read as well. Asking for her time at all is “rude” and she’ll take any (un)grammatical excuse.

      2. SheLooksFamiliar*

        Exactly. Please or no, she doesn’t want to be bothered by her team asking for things.

      3. SnappinTerrapin*

        Piece of something, but my impression is that “work” is not in her vocabulary.

      1. The Original K.*

        Yeah, I tend to be brief in my requests for review – I put “For review: [document]” in the subject line and then “Please find [document] attached for your review” in the body, with maybe a bit more information if it’s required. (E.g. “Legal says we can include the section on [whatever]; there was a question about that in our last meeting.”) I guess Jane would have an issue with my use of the word “please” there.

        1. Richard Hershberger*

          The problem is that “Please find…” is an instruction. “…is attached for your review” is simply a declarative statement of fact. The practical question is whether any action by Jane is required, or if the sender can take silence as assent.

      2. Jules the 3rd*

        This. OP, ask your coworkers if talking to Jane’s boss / forwarding the email might get a result. If they say it won’t, here are some sample scripts to try, but don’t get your hopes up. General format is Action; Appeal to authority; Background:
        1) [Document] attached for your review / approval. Customer / grandboss is looking for response by Y date.
        2) Customer / grandboss would like to know your decision on X. The options are A, B; analysis of the options below.
        3) I’m working on A, B this week. If you have other priorities I will be happy to add them.

        I do recommend a weekly “here’s my priorities, but I can change them if you tell me to”. At the very least it will come in useful for reviews and resumes.

    2. londonedit*

      I was thinking the same. It’s petty, definitely, but I can imagine the boss taking umbrage at people sending emails that just say ‘Please review’ or ‘Please update’ – those definitely sound more like the sort of command-type emails a boss would send to their direct reports, not the other way round. I agree that ‘Would you mind taking a look at this and approving?’ or ‘Could you please review this and let me know if it’s OK to send out?’ would be better ways of phrasing those requests. But taking umbrage at any sort of request for anything at all, and objecting to the very word ‘please’ in and of itself? That’s not at all reasonable.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        It’s unprofessional and weird.

        My employer is set up so that general employees and 1st level managers generate a *lot* of data, and 2nd level / above managers are generally expected to review / understand the data, and use it in their decision making. If it’s about $$ above a certain amount, or templates for stakeholder communications, or other items that need to be in line with company strategy or regulations, it’s required for them to review and approve. This is in line with the norms in every place I’ve worked, from the 8-person retail to the 10 person non-profit to the 100 person tech co to the 100k person tech co.

        Employees asking ‘please review’ is totally normal for many kinds of output, and managers pushing back on that don’t understand the role of management.

        1. londonedit*

          Whereas my industry isn’t really to do with data, it’s to do with words and books, and we tend to be a lot more conversational/collaborative in our communication. If I received a ‘please review’ from my boss it would feel very cold, and it would be very unusual. The only bosses I’ve worked for who did send those kinds of emails were absolute nightmares to work with because they were micromanaging dictators who didn’t collaborate. I’d never email a colleague or a boss with ‘please review’ – I’d always couch it in ‘Hi Tabitha, the sample pages for Llama Grooming For Dummies are in – would you mind having a look and letting me know whether they’re OK to approve?’ language.

          1. JustaTech*

            Its interesting seeing the various perspectives on this, because at lot of it looks like it’s very context driven.

            For example, at my work we might generate a half-dozen reports a week that need to be reviewed by someone else on the team before they’re released. It’s all very routine work so it makes sense to send an email with the subject line “Llama toe trimmer maintenance report #875 – please review”, and then have they body be something like “Hi Bob, Here’s the LTTMR #875 for your review. Thanks!”

            Or if my boss and I have been verbally discussing a report then when I email it to her the email might just be “Here’s the X report draft.”

            But when I’m emailing people outside my immediate group, or it’s not something we’ve already discussed, or it’s more work than usual, then I’ll use more words in my request.

            I feel like if there’s anything that 2020/2021 has taught me, it’s that a lot of people have a hard time understanding the difference between a request and an order.

    3. Dust Bunny*

      No even halfway-reasonable boss would object to “please”. This woman is looking for reasons to be mad.

    4. Spencer Hastings*

      Yeah, I generally don’t use imperatives with people who are senior to me (e.g. “Can you sign this when you get a chance?” instead of “Please sign this”). But if I see someone else doing it “uphill”, I figure that they may be from somewhere else or otherwise just have different norms — not that they’re being deliberately rude.

      (That said, I don’t often use imperatives with people junior to me, either…I just find that there’s usually a more elegant way to say it.)

      1. Guacamole Bob*

        I don’t use imperatives with people who are senior, either, and like you often avoid them with others, too. But the thing that’s really amazing to me here is that Jane has the idea that she holds 100% authority and that her employees don’t have any standing to make requests of their manager. That’s… not how functional management operates. I make requests of my manager all the time! Ask so and so for such and such because they aren’t responding to me. Review X document. Tell me how to respond to Y situation. Find out for higher-ups what the deal is with the new policy. Approve my timecard or leave request or expense report or other admin thing. Clarify what you meant when you asked me to do Z.

        The idea that requests only flow one way is so weirdly authoritarian and dysfunctional. A manager can say no or push back or divert or ignore a request, but it’s part of a functional relationship with a manager to ask them for things!

      2. Purple Cat*

        I love this column to get perspectives on other places. In my company, there’s absolutely no need to dance around simple requests (above or below you). If a senior person needs to sign something, then you send an email saying “please sign” With additional context if necessary. But, “Please sign this when you get a chance” is just so wordy. And (to me) comes across as being apologetic for asking people to do their job (and make sure you get your job done as well).

        That being said, my boss knows if I’m asking him to PLEASE get something done, it’s because he’s ignored my previous requests for help and I’m stuck.

        1. GraceRN*

          I agree. I wouldn’t care at all if my staff keeps it brief and to the point with just a “Please see email below” or “Please sign.”
          In the old days before electronic signatures/approvals are common, staff would just leave paper documents on my desk with little sticky Redi-Tag flags that says “Please Sign” and “Please Initial.” Maybe some people here remember those. I actually like them because it’s so to point – No phone call to ask me to sign would have been necessary. But I guess OP’s Boss would have refused to sign those too.

    5. I'm just here for the cats*

      I’m sorry but I don’t understand where you are getting that these types of phrases are demands. “Please send this to wakeen” is a nice way to ask, just leaving off the “could you”.

      If the OP or someone needs the manager to do something how are they supposed to ask?

    6. hbc*

      There’s definitely a way people can speak a “please” and make it sound like “I’m losing my patience with you.” Imagine your mother making a request for the fourth time and saying, “Can you PLEASE pick up your socks?”

      But Boss is nuts–it’s not as if removing “please” makes the statements less of an order. “Can you pick up your socks?” is no more or less a request, and “Send this to Wakeen” is 100% an instruction/order.

      1. Former Young Lady*

        This. I live in a region where it’s more common to hear “please” and “excuse me” deployed sarcastically, rather than sincerely, when out in public. (People also tend to substitute “can I get” for “may I please have,” or skip straight to “gimme,” which is grating.)

        Still, it’s not the people using “please” in a sincere context who are being rude.

    7. Lily Rowan*

      I worked with someone like this. Luckily, she wasn’t my boss, but she was senior to me in the organization. One time I sent her something for review and asked if she could possibly review it by next Wednesday, or let me know what timing would work for her (not the exact words, but that was the gist.) She went to my boss because she had NEVER been so DISRESPECTED in her LIFE! Apparently I had given her an order, despite every attempt at diplomacy. My boss and grandboss both came to me to say they knew this was her, not me.

      In that case, I thought it might be cultural, as we were not from the same country, but on reflection, I think it was just her.

      1. Lily Rowan*

        PS: That job was also a place a lot of people thought of as their “dream job,” but the management was terrible and the whole place was basically full of bees. I was in one mostly functional corner, but that wasn’t enough to keep me there long-term.

      2. meyer lemon*

        Once someone pulls out the word “disrespected” it’s usually a sign you’re dealing with a highly fragile ego and nothing you do to placate them will be enough.

  18. Richard Hershberger*

    So how to replace Jane’s functions with respect to your own job? Since you can’t ask her to do anything, instead inform her of what you will be doing unless she instructs you otherwise. Do this by email, of course, and keep an easily accessible record of these emails, for future CYA purposes. I would suggest even printing out hard copies and maintaining a physical file.

    1. Chris too*

      Yes! A previous boss was a real micromanager, a terrific guy, but it was his family business and nobody could have worked harder than he did. After a few months of us driving each other nuts, I said, you can give me these precise orders every day, but it’s more mental work for you if you don’t think I’d do these things anyway. Why don’t I just tell you every day what I plan on doing, and you can tell me if I’ve left something out? After a couple of weeks he’d just wave his hand and say oh, you know what to do.

      1. AJR*

        That is a great strategy. I’m not in that kind of situation now, but I need to file this away mentally for when I am in the future.

    2. TreeHillGrass*

      “Maintaining a physical file” yes and I would add At Home if your industry privacy guidelines allow.

  19. Apocalypse How*

    I want to lock this manager in a room, No Exit style, with the coworker who would respond to every request with “Only if you say please!” Will they cancel each other out?

  20. Heidi*

    So does Jane think that Oliver Twist was ordering the workhouse cook to give him more gruel?

    I think that Jane doesn’t want to answer these emails and requests and is jumping on this completely imaginary point of etiquette as an excuse not to.

    I’m also wondering what the OP means by “it’s been going well.”

    1. EPLawyer*

      Jane doesn’t want to do work. So she … isn’t. All her excuses that she is busy are as valid as her complaint about the word please. It’s an excuse to avoid actually managing people. How are you supposed to get anything done OP if you have no clue what to do and can’t get approval? check with your coworkers how they manage around jane.

      But Heidi has an excellent question — how are things going well at this place? You didn’t get proper training (reviewing materials is not the same as being TRAINED), you have no direction and your boss refuses to meet with you. What is exactly going even decent, let alone well?

      1. JustaTech*

        And how is the OP being assigned work? Does it come from peers or from other departments or external clients?
        I mean, I had a boss once who was bad about using nouns (one time he said “I need you to analyze the data on that thing, and I need it by 5 and I’m in meetings all day” and left before I could ask which of the three “things” we were working on that he wanted me to analyze), but he at least gave you *some* idea of what he wanted you to do!

  21. an infinite number of monkeys*

    “Please” isn’t the word that constitutes a directive, “review” is. “Please” just softens it from a directive to a request.

    There’s no reasoning with this. Maybe you could try “Jane, it is with the utmost humility that your unworthy supplicant beseeches you…” but if the bit that follows is something she needs to do, you’re probably out of luck…!

    1. Spencer Hastings*

      To my ear, they’re both directives — it’s just that one is more likely to be used than the other.

      1. ecnaseener*

        “Please” doesn’t make a sentence into a directive if it’s not already.

        – Review this. / Please review this. [both directives]

        – Could you review this? / Could you please review this? [both requests, not commands]

        If the boss has a problem with “commands” and needs everything phrased as a question, banning “please” will not make a difference.

  22. ElleKay*

    Depending on how your team is working right now it sounds like the only thing you haven’t tried is just sticking your head into her office.
    If you’re in the office (and so is she) I would pop into her office and say “Hey Jane, quick question:…” and see if that works better. She may be a person who does better with person-to-person communication or may answer your question to get you to go away; while emails are easy to ignore/overlook/get distracted from.

    One note: This is not a system that will work for “big” topics but if it’s “I read X in the training manual but it looks like Y is happening- which do you prefer?” It might!

    1. Richard Hershberger*

      Jane doesn’t strike me as a “stick your head in her office” type. I suspect that the way the team really is working right now is by consensus to get done what needs to get done, or perhaps one person is the de facto leader and everyone else defers to them. This can work so long as it is routine stuff, but the potential for running off the rails is great, as soon as anything non-routine comes along.

    2. quill*

      I wouldn’t stick anything I wanted back into that office.

      Try with a pencil first, make sure that she isn’t lurking by the door like a giant spider waiting to strike.

  23. Lucious*

    Sometimes it seems jobs should have a yellow “eject” button. Because just like broken fighter jets, some problems must be escaped instead of solved.

    This is a manager who is unwilling to complete basic tasks such as training or communicating with new employees. She is not going to change, and I suspect filing grievances up the chain will go nowhere. Someone above this grandiose manager approved their promotion, after all.

    It is time for LW to find a better job, and don’t waste time extending this unprofessional boss 2 weeks notice. If she’s this bad on the job, Grandiose Boss is going to take it up to 11 when the LW leaves.

  24. Dutch*

    I’d be interested to know what Jane actually does, if the workplace can apparently function for 6 months with no input from her.

    And if it does function with zero, or near to zero, involvement from her I’d be tempted to cut her out of the loop entirely. No emails, no messages, or certainly none asking for a response. See what happens. Embrace the chaos.

  25. fiona the baby hippo*

    This is making me think about how we are trained to think about “dream jobs” in terms of job descriptions from a young age onward, not how we are treated once we get there. Not that it’s LW’s fault for taking the job, but I feel like so many ppl I know have gotten stuck in “dream jobs” far too long bc of poor treatment from management/complete lack of work-life balance/etc. I know ppl love to bemoan the lack of practical education in high schools in America, but I wish that conversations around careers weren’t focused as much on finding your ideal fit via a description on a listing and more about finding fulfillment in places that treat you well.

    1. Cordyceps*

      Yes, absolutely. Took me a long time to figure this out on my own.

      Certainly, I want to work on things that utilize my experience and education, but that is a pretty broad scope of potential work activities. I’ve come to realize that being a on a good team, with a good manager, in a constructive work environment is FAR more important than any specific tasks.

    2. Threeve*

      The “dream job” is a recipe for many, many unhappy people.

      And because so many people think that a dream job inherently means a famous, prestigious organization, it means that those flashy companies are less likely to see consequences from treating their employees poorly (cough cough Tesla).

    3. mreasy*

      This is why companies in “glamorous” industries can treat employees terribly and pay badly! It can take a long time for people to get to a stage where they can see through it. Source, my entire career in the music industry until my current job.

    4. Joielle*

      Yeah, this is a great point. I stayed in a “dream job” for several years too long and was completely burnt out by the time I left. The work itself was my dream, but the work-life balance was terrible. A lot of my identity was wrapped up in that job and it took me a long time to let go of it. I finally just could not take it anymore and within two weeks, I had an offer for a job using similar skills, similar pay, but the workday ends at 4:30 pm on the dot and doesn’t start again until 8 the next morning. It’s not exactly what I envisioned doing when I was 15, but it pays the bills (and then some) and it’s a reasonably pleasant way to spend 40 hours a week, which is honestly what my dream should have been all along.

      It’s hard to spend your whole adult life working towards something, and then you get it, and realize it’s not as good as you thought it would be. But it’s even worse to stick with something awful just because you really thought you would like it.

      OP, now that you have some experience on your resume at this “dream job,” it will help you find the next “dream job” with a similar job description but hopefully a much better manager.

  26. Goldenrod*

    My boss is like this. For the first two and a half years, I struggled with her weird behavior but decided the other parts of the job made it worth it.

    But: I’ve reached my limit! I’m looking for other jobs now. Bad communication is a really, really difficult thing to deal with in any job. And Jane sounds like a horrible person. I would think seriously about looking for other opportunities.

  27. PJS*

    Before deciding to walk away from your “dream job” I would try to find out more information from longer-term coworkers. How long has Jane been there? What is her work history? How do other people at her level and above view her? I have what I consider pretty much a dream job for me. High pay, great benefits and a pretty painless commute. I’m not going to find anything that pays better in my niche specialty without going to a much larger organization with more responsibility and stress. I also got a new boss just over a year after I started. She was crazy, to put it bluntly. Not in the same ways as Jane, but still. She had never stayed in one place for very long and she had a story for each that painted her as the victim who was forced to leave. I could tell that other people saw her the way I did. I thought about leaving a few times but I decided that I was not going to let her make me walk away from an otherwise fabulous job. Especially when I had a feeling she wouldn’t make it here long term and I had a lot longer to go until retirement than she did. I was basically waiting her out. Sure enough, she was gone four years later. Of course, my situation didn’t really cause me a ton of stress or worry (luckily she seemed to love me), so I realize things may have been different if she had been greatly affecting my mental health. Point is, don’t bail on an otherwise great job without at least considering how well you think you can deal with Jane’s “quirks” and how likely it seems that she’ll be your boss long-term.

  28. Jean*

    How do people like this keep getting promoted into positions of authority? For that matter, how do they make it into adulthood without being beaten to death by an angry mob?

    1. quill*

      Often they will be able to moderate themselves somewhat until they reach a position of power.

    2. Lucious*

      My list:

      A) social connections. Family, school friend, etc are Big Shots in the org.

      B) They Know Proprietary Stuff. Some key piece of business knowledge is in the jerk manager’s hands and senior management is unwilling to replace them.

      C) The management culture is toxic by default, so only toxic people are selected for promotion.

      1. GraceRN*

        This. It is infuriating that people like this even get to keep their jobs. They tend to focus their energy on 2 things on their list:
        1. Punch down
        2. Fail up
        OP’s boss didn’t want to review any documents sent by OP because the actual work of reviewing is not on this list, but note how Boss did use the opportunity to punch down on OP to keep her beaten down and demoralized.

      2. JustaTech*

        I had a boss who was a B. He wasn’t a jerk per se, but he had never had any formal (or really any informal) management training, and he just wasn’t good at running a team. But he had been around since the beginning of the company and he Knew Stuff. (He might have also known things about people, but mostly he knew Stuff.)

        Frustratingly, part of the reason that only he Knew this Stuff was that he was *terrible* about writing up reports. If something didn’t work or a project was terminated he just wouldn’t write up the last report, nor let anyone else write it up. And when he finally left he hid all his files (which I didn’t discover for years). So now he is my universal blame repository.

  29. Betteauroan*

    You have to get out of this job, but before you do, try to take it up the chain to her boss and let him/her know what is going on. This is untenable. She can’t expect to never communicate with her employees. And saying please is rude? Wth? That makes no sense. She has a few screws loose and needs to be outed to her boss. Send that email to her boss.

  30. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    Jane is a loon.

    OP, how do and your coworkers even know what you’re supposed to be doing? And if Jane isn’t doing anything to manage your workload, or review your outputs, then why on earth is she a manager?

    This whole situation is nuts.

    1. NerdyLibraryClerk*

      This is what I’m wondering. Along with whether things are really carrying on just fine without Jane’s input, or whether there are a lot of unseen problems piling up because the people she “manages” have been improvising for an unknown amount of time. (No slight to OPs coworkers, mind. But if there’s been no training or review for some time, it would be really easy for none of them to even know about some of the things that should be being done or know how to do them properly. There could be an entire pasture of llamas none of them even know about!)

  31. Campfire Raccoon*

    I don’t think Jane could have documented her poor behavior any better. I don’t usually believe in going up the chain, but it’s time to go up the chain. If that is not an option, it is time to start looking.

  32. J.E.*

    It’s worrisome that the other employees are telling the OP to just “hang in there.” It sounds like they have become used to Jane’s ways and no one has taken her to task about it. She may be a symptom of larger issues the OP just hasn’t seen yet.

  33. However comma*

    Jane strikes me as someone who may have some mental illness going on because the behavior is so unusual. What do you all think? I’m not sure it makes a difference, because the situation is untenable, but I’m always curious about why people do the things they do.

    1. quill*

      Hey not to run afoul of the nitpicking language rule here, but given that we’ve run into this CONSTANTLY at AAM this summer… can we all agree that being rude is not a mental illness and that mental illness is not the only cause of bad behavior? And perhaps stop making comments like this?

      Many people are cruel, callous, selfish, and rude independent of however their brain is wired.

    2. Nayo*

      I think it’s bad to speculate based on the info we’ve been given. People can be weird and rude without it being pathological.

    3. Jules the 3rd*

      We try really hard not to speculate on mental illness, it basically just derails the conversation for no effective outcome. We’ll talk about it if an OP says, “my illness causes X problem, any advice”, but only if specifically asked.

      The problem here is Jane’s behavior, and in a professional setting, the responses are usually the same no matter her reasons. In general for employees:
      1) Always discuss the behavior politely, and focus on the behavior.
      2) Documentation (date, time, exact wording, witnesses) may be helpful.
      3) Think about addressing directly and 1-1 first.
      4) If direct / 1-1 is not an effective option, take it up the chain or with a group.
      5) If up the chain / group is not an effective option, assess whether you can live with it or not. If not, job hunt.

      In this case, I’d see if coworkers would go with me to Jane’s boss, with that email and a list of things that Jane is supposed to review and hasn’t, and the impact to the business. It’s up to the boss to figure out how to manage it.

  34. Siv*

    I’m surprised the advice wasn’t to address this with her boss’s boss. Any reason why not?

    1. cmcinnyc*

      Because LW has only been there 6 months? I would hesitate to recommend that a newish employee with spotty training and a poor relationship with her boss go above said boss’s head as an opening move. At my job, you need to put in one year before you can apply for an internal transfer. I don’t know how standard that is, but I don’t think it’s unusual. I think LW is, for now, on her own.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      The OP is new, presumably without much/any capital built up, and unless the boss is outright fired over this*, it’s more likely to just make the situation worse for her. She’s better off seeing it for what it is (not a dream job) and seriously considering getting out.

      * It’s possible the boss could be outright fired, but I’m very, very doubtful — because the management above her is what has let this go on. If the management above her were competent, they’d be aware that this person wasn’t speaking to employees, ever. They sound as hands-off as she is.

      1. Lucious*

        Agreed. If OP makes it a “them vs dysfunctional boss” choice, the company will side with the tenured boss. Replacing a manager incurs a higher direct cost than a line employee.

        Even experienced employees with these concerns are dismissed more often than not for this reason , to say nothing of someone without even a year on the job yet.

      2. AJR*

        Also, it seems like it would be hard to advise this step without a really good understanding of the relationship between Jane/grandboss and without having a better sense of what grandboss’s role is. I ran into a very similar issue with an absentee boss who had idiosyncratic, difficult-to-meet communication preferences. But in that instance she was the second-in-command of a 1600-person organization and grandboss was the CEO, who was joined to her at the hip. (For reference, I was roughly at the level of wormdirt relative to them in this situation.) I would never have been able to escalate my difficulties no matter how much capital I had built up, and I’d have been stupid to try.

  35. FrivYeti*

    Count me in the mass of posters who would be tempted to become extremely passive-aggressive, in a manner that would almost certainly get me in immediate trouble:

    “It would be my most humble honour if you would take the time from your busy schedule to review these reports, that I might complete my work by deadline.”

    In all seriousness, though, this definitely seems like a situation where your choices are escalate (and risk retaliation), leave, or decide if you can work with a broken boss forever.

  36. C Average*

    How does this woman still have a job? She must either be Deeply And Importantly Talented or have naked pictures of God. Possibly both?

    1. quill*

      I’m giggling at “naked pictures of god,” because if you believe in the “made in god’s image” part, this could be pictures of literally anyone.

      Or, you know, some sort of eldritch black hole monstrosity that looking upon would turn you into a pillar of salt…

    2. Jules the 3rd*

      Or her employees are good enough / in a routine kind of position that her shortcoming hasn’t been noticed. A lot of people don’t pay attention to back-office stuff, for example, as long as the paychecks get out and the balance sheet looks ok.

      1. irene adler*

        And no one has lodged any complaints- about the manager or the dept itself.

        This manager takes the “hands off” approach too seriously.

    3. Hen in a Windstorm*

      Ha! Excellent Breakfast at Tiffany’s reference. I love that scene. Gracious!

  37. Ace in the Hole*

    1. Your boss is horrible! What a rude, inconsiderate, arrogant person. Nothing you did made them this way and nothing you do can change them… best to just start fresh somewhere else.

    2. I actually can see “please” sounding like an order sometimes. For example, “Please approve,” or “Please come by my office at 2pm.” In phrases like that I feel like please is softening the command, but not necessarily making it a request. “Can you please” or “If you have a chance, please” and such come across as clear requests to me though (not at all commands). However, the ridiculous thing is your boss thinking staff should never make imperative statements to management! She’s the boss… all she has to do is refuse any order/instruction from you that she doesn’t like! It’s not like there can possibly be any force behind your “commands.”

    1. ecnaseener*

      Even so, boss could’ve communicated that point by saying “Don’t order me around. Adding ‘please’ doesn’t make it not an order.” Instead she took the absolutely bizarre stance that the word ‘please’ should never be used!

  38. Former Retail Lifer*

    Your boss has this backwards. It seems like an order WITHOUT the word please. Emails are way more harsh without that word.

    1. elle*

      Even something like “Good morning Jane, would you be able to take a look at this for me? Thanks!” or “Hello Jane — could you sign this for me when you get a chance?” Etc?

      1. Delta Delta*

        The problem is that regardless of whether the word “please” is used, she’s going to interpret this as a “command” which she says she won’t respond to from someone beneath her. She’s telegraphing to everyone that she is not going to do anything.

      2. Former Young Lady*

        She’d probably just scream at the OP for questioning what she was “able to” do.

        People like Jane enjoy finding imaginary rudeness in “polite” language because it puts their target between a rock and hard place. Jane has already decided that OP can do no right. If it weren’t this, it’d be some other harmless word she used.

  39. Nayo*

    In her email, she claimed it is highly inappropriate and disrespectful to use the word “please” when sending emails to her and that the phrases “please approve,” “can you please review,” etc. are unacceptable. She said those statements are orders and her staff should not be giving her orders. She also claimed she will not respond to any emails with those words/phrases to her.

    I’m just wondering how tf she expects you to communicate with her then?!? I mean obviously the answer, based on her attitude, is “don’t talk to me about anything ever,” but this is just so unprofessional and counterproductive…

    1. Myrin*

      I mean, probably through questions: “Could you approve/review/send me X?”.
      She’ll of course answer “No.” then.

  40. Persephone*

    I had a coworker, who technically reported to me, get angry than I asked them to “please let me know if you have any training on X and, if so, send a link or point me to it so I can get back to a client about Y.”

    Why were they angry? Because I was “telling them what to do.”

    1. quill*

      Had a classmate like that, group projects were a nightmare until a teacher just bluntly told her “Telling you what to do IS MY JOB.”

    2. Sigrid*

      I’m an academic physician. We had a resident a few years ago who ultimately got fired (note: it is VERY uncommon to fire a medical resident) for a number of reasons, but the primary reason was that he was unteachable. He had a serious attitude of “you can’t tell me what to do” towards the attendings, when….telling him what to do was in fact our jobs. He was in training. We are there to train him. That’s the job.

  41. Dream Jobbed*

    I am so sorry LW. How heartbreaking to get to where you dream of being and have that happen. I am glad your coworkers are supporting you. Hopefully she will be gone soon, but utilize the support you have in the meantime. If you can live with it try to hang on. I had an abusive boss my first year in my “dream job,” but they are gone now and a much better one is in place. It can get better, but Alison is right in that you have to figure out if it is worth it. Hoping for the best for you.

  42. elle*

    Okay, I know I’m a weirdo but I also view “please” as rude — it just feels rude to me! I assume it’s because my parents were never big on that kind of thing and would only ever say PLEASE in an exasperated tone if they were already angry/had already asked for something three times. I am also autistic so sometimes I really ingrain strange things. I struggle so much with saying please (I rarely use it, but I do use other phrases so I don’t come off rude).

    However, I’d like to point out that I fully acknowledge this is a weird hangup of MINE, that the vast majority of English speakers disagree with (in fact, this is the first time I’ve ever heard anyone say they feel the same way I do). I would never, ever try to push this onto others.

    1. JustaTech*

      Which makes you a kind and considerate coworker!

      If Jane really had an issue with the word “please” specifically she could just send an email saying “Do not use the word “please” in email correspondence with me.” But she claimed that the use of a standard polite phrase was “disrespectful”, after having been very disrespectful to her team by not responding to their emails for months, which is why she’s a jerk.

      It’s not just the word, it’s the totality of her behavior.

  43. Prefer my pets*

    Talk to your coworkers.
    When I took this job I was warned in advance by my contacts that the supervisor simply didn’t manage. (Unlike Jane they are a nice enough person though). They never, ever made a decision. They never assigned work. They refused to set priorities. A prime example of someone who was a good individual contributor but utterly paralyzed when they were promoted to management. Fortunately the rest of the workgroup was really competent and basically they just made all the decisions as a group without even involving the supervisor and took on all the on boarding/training/mentoring of new staff. It was a weird but functional set up if you were someone who didn’t need a ton of direction.
    Amazingly, there was a re-org & the supervisor (voluntarily) got moved to an upper level non-supervisory position & they now are hiring a new supervisor. Took about 4 yrs for them to be moved out though!

  44. PeanutButter*

    How weird! I have some quirks about language that drives me up the wall (example: anyone giving me a completely legitimate order couched in “would you like to” type language so I have no idea if it’s an actual directive or a suggestion…arrrrrrrgh) but “please” being too forceful is…a new one.

    1. Former Young Lady*

      One of my first bosses was from China. I was young, American, and oblivious, and it took me way too long to figure out that when he said “Do you want to (do Task X)?”, what he meant was, “I am assigning you Task X, but I come from a background that values face-saving language. The only acceptable response is an enthusiastic Yes!, because I’m your boss.” Things improved dramatically once I figured that out!

      One I’ve run into lately is a senior colleague (to whom I don’t report) saying “We definitely need to do Task X,” and leaving me to wonder how much of “we” is me. In this case, it’s someone from the American West, so I could forever overthink whether it’s passive-aggression vs. an offer for collaboration.

      1. Aggretsuko*

        In a work context, “Do you want to do X” is literally a forced assignment, regardless of country. Bartelby the Scrivener wouldn’t be able to get away with that shit these days.

        1. quill*

          Eh, sometimes it’s “I want you to do X but also we need to talk about if we can fit it into the timeline”

          The answer is never “no” but it is sometimes “Do you think the assistant llama groomer could handle it? My next client is famous for spitting in people’s faces so the only way we’re getting that grooming done is if I take the face shield and spend my whole afternoon on it.”

        2. PeanutButter*

          Nah, sometimes it’s “There’s a lot of tasks that need to be done, you can have your choice, but would you prefer to do this one?” from a co-worker who is not a subordinate or a superior. “Would you like to” is horribly ambiguous language and after being in an environment with highly structured closed-loop communication and accepted unambiguous vocabulary/syntax for communicating what needs to be done and the task’s priority, moving to an academic environment where interpersonal communication is much more lax has been an adjustment. People got the passive communication drummed out of them really fast where I worked previously, because nobody would think they needed help at all when they talked like that and would prioritize the requests that were coming in with appropriate verbiage for their urgency.

          But this sort of thing drove me nuts even as a child and honestly Bartleby was my teenage inspiration that gave me the idea that finally broke my mom of the habit of ambiguity when she was telling me to do something. This reduced the friction in our relationship when I was a teen by a significant amount.

    2. mf*

      This is a hang-up of mine as well because I often can’t tell the difference. Are you asking me if I want to file the TPS reports or are you telling me to just do it already?

  45. The Other Evil HR Lady*

    Are you working for my former boss? You just described her to a “T.” She was so “busy” on Facebook all day that she didn’t have time to train me and simply told me to read up on the training manuals, which were severely out of date and… there’s only so many times you can read something. Are you working in HR? If so, that’s my former boss and I feel for you.

  46. Emi*

    I think you need to have a candid discussion with some coworker(s) (whoever would be most candid) about the “so what” of this ridiculousness. Whether you can live like this really depends on whether it’s “Jane is ridiculous, so nothing really gets done but she gives us all five stars on our annual reviews anyway,” or “…so nothing really gets done and she yells at us every review season,” or “…so we just get Marsha to approve things instead,” or “…so we forge Jane’s signature and we’ll all go to jail if the inspector general finds out” or what.

  47. Hei Hei, the Chicken from Moana*

    I just came here to say in all caps, HOW DO THESE PEOPLE HAVE JOBS?????? I haven’t been fired for cause, but my position was eliminated in part, I think, b/c I wasn’t worth the trouble. I’m flabbergasted at the number of these stories I read and also I hate everything kthanxbai.

    1. irene adler*

      They have jobs because their reports do all the work needed to get things done. It is assumed that their manager guided things to success. No one is the wiser so things just continue.

  48. Perfectly Particular*

    I worked for a guy that had this same hang-up about “please”. It seems that he took any version of “please” to mean “puhhhh-leeaasse” like we were all sassy teenagers. So we reworded to “Document xyz is in your inbox, and needs to be approved by Friday”. This went over fine.

    This won’t help with the rest of the non-communication though – how weird and awful when you are just trying to get settled in!

  49. Wisteria*

    I wonder what the actual words of the email were. I’ll take it at face value that Jane said that “please” is disrespectful, but I’m really sure that the word “please” was not the problem. I’m pretty sure the words “review” and “approve” were the problem and the words “can you please” did not mitigate, in Jane’s eyes, the disrespectful (in Jane’s eyes) nature of telling (in Jane’s eyes) your boss to do something. I am sure of this because I have worked for a Jane, who found it disrespectful that I told (in his eyes) him to do things that were his job as a lead to do.

    Jane has given you tactical information. The right way to ask her for things is going to be something like “Jane, this TPS report needs your managerial review and approval before it can go to the next step. If you have a chance to look at it, that would be great. Thank you so much.”

    Does it suck to have to grovel? Yes, yes it does. But that is the situation you are in, so the best thing is to do it.

  50. Crabby Patty*

    “She said those statements are orders and her staff should not be giving her orders.”

    And it seems Jane has no business being anywhere near a leadership role, or other people, for that matter.

  51. Nora*

    I had a boss just like this – we had multiple meetings and changed all our templates because she didn’t like the word “pending” (e.g. “Item x is pending signature”), and she once sent an angry email to the whole staff because she overheard someone call her our “manager” but she wanted us to call her our “supervisor”. But any time anyone tried to approach her about actual work stuff she would say she was too busy because she had so much responsibility.

    Fastforward almost a year (yes we brought all this up to her boss but he told us to work around her) and it turns out she had absolutely no idea what she was doing and I guess was too embarrassed to let anyone help her or admit that there was anything she did not already know? So she was covering her lack of knowledge by nitpicking unimportant things and acting angry every time anyone tried to talk to her about her job. Also she was still doing work for her previous job on time charged to her current job. She was asked to resign based on the last part, and did.

    1. Former Young Lady*

      I’ve met a couple of that type, too. Always with the theatrics about how overloaded they are; people skills reserved for higher-ups only; any random word in the dictionary could be their Pee-Wee Herman Scream Trigger du Jour…

      And sure enough, when they finally get escorted off the premises, it turns out they weren’t actually doing their work, because they had no clue how.

  52. mark132*

    Cynical me thinks since she doesn’t care what you do, you could start your own small business during work hours. It’s not like she’ll notice. (note: I’m not serious)

    1. Blazer205*

      Right. This woman doesn’t want to be bothered by aspects of her job – management! You probably really could start a business at work and I’m not joking! LOL! Thank

  53. TiredMama*

    Somewhere along the way I learned to be direct with the people above me.and keep it fact based. I have done my part and the deadline is in the body so they can prioritize accordingly.


    Attached is the document that does y. It is due z date and therefore requires approval by a date so that it can remain on schedule.


  54. I've Escaped Cubicle Land*

    I can feel my grandma and all the great aunties spinning in their graves at the very idea of people not using the word “please” in a request. Sorry Manager, I can’t drop the use of “please”. They will come back to haunt me in a very disapproving way.

  55. Jimulacrum*

    Your boss is probably incompetent for her job and is definitely a little mentally unhinged.

    I’d already be applying for a new job and/or reaching out to my boss’s boss about this. There’s really no other direction to go.

  56. Van Wilder*

    I expect my staff to tell me exactly what I need to sign off on and by when, and bother me if the deadline is getting close, because I’m too busy to manage assignments and timelines. This woman is definitely insecure about her authority and maybe not as busy as she claims, if she can throw a little fit about this.

  57. GuineverePettigrew*

    So, I have actually had arguments with my Dad over the politeness of “please”. My Dad is English, I’m Scottish and we live in Scotland. I have to absolutely force myself to say “please” because it sounds so bossy to me. I think it’s cultural – I asked a few Scottish and English friends, and the Scots saw “please” as a command, and the English found it really rude to not say “please”. Your boss isn’t Scottish is she?
    Nevertheless, I’m sure she was simply irritated at being contacted at all and found a pretext to scold you as an outlet. I’m sorry!

    1. nnn*

      Can you tell us more about how you’d make a non-bossy polite request in Scottish English?

      Also, when I was a child (in Canada), my parents were relentless about trying to drill saying “please” and “thank you” into us. What’s the equivalent for Scottish children?

      1. GuineverePettigrew*

        You know, thinking about it more, it really is a mess of contradictions. Scottish kids are trained to say please and thank you. To me using “please” signifies “this isn’t a request” so in situations where I have to really choose my words carefully I am reluctant to use it. If I wanted to make a request I felt was a big ask, I would say something like “Would you be able to drive me to the airport?” or “Can I borrow your laptop?” (in a very polite, kind of soft tone) . But if I felt I had a right to ask something, like “I need to make lunch for everyone, so can you go the shop for bread please” or if it wasn’t really a big deal and I wouldn’t expect them to say no, like “Can you get that down from the shelf for me please”.
        Basically, genuine request where I feel it could be a yes or no answer = no “please”
        Softening language for command = use “please”
        The conflict with my Dad came from, when I don’t say “please” I feel I’m being more considerate, and he feels the opposite.

    2. Beany*

      I see “please” as essentially polite, and use it whenever possible.

      But I also know that when attached to a command or instruction, it’s just a veneer of politeness — the velvet glove around the iron fist, or whatever. It softens the command, but doesn’t change its essential nature. And if people find this veneer hypocritical, I can kind of see why they’d object to how “please” is used most of the time.

  58. Blazer205*

    Jane and a previous boss of mine would be at odds with each other. She told me once in a performance review that my email correspondence was too stern and I needed to say please when making any request. (Even if it’s a necessary and routine task). Seemed redundant then but old habits die hard. I still always use please in workplace communications and will always use please.

    1. Beany*

      When I was in (high) school, we did our classwork and homework in “copy books” that had ruled lines, but no ruled margin — we were expected to draw that ourselves with ruler & writing implement.

      I had two teachers one year with directly opposed standards for the margins and handwriting. The Latin teacher wanted the margins in red ink, and the actual work done in black ink. The French teacher wanted the margins in pencil and the actual work done in blue ink. (“Boys, black ink is too mature for you.”) I preferred the “mature” red & black, even though the French teacher was a better instructor (RIP Mlle Brotelande).

  59. hayling*

    OP, I would strongly encourage finding a new job. Not only is it going to continue to be unpleasant under Jane, but it’s going to hamper your career growth. You’re missing out on feedback and coaching, you don’t have someone advocating for your raises and promotions, nobody helping you prioritize your work to make sure you’re having the maximum impact, etc. Also working in a dysfunctional system for too long makes you pick up bad habits that will haunt you at your next job. (For example, I had a micromanager boss for several years, and at my next jobs I came off as really needy and unsure of myself at first because I was so used to getting her approval for every little thing.)

    1. GraceRN*

      OP, I hope you will consider these excellent points. Being immersed in such a dysfunctional environment can cost you in many insidious ways.

  60. Sinister Serina*

    Please is rude now? Is it backwards day? And I just read to my mom, who said “that manager is nuttier than a fruitcake”. She’s 95, cut her some slack.

  61. Vanessa*

    This also happened to me. I wrote my supervisor: “Please see attached for your approval. Thank you.” and was reported to HR for insubordination etc, and it resulted in me losing my annual increment in salary.

    Now I say this: ” Dear X, Submitted for your kind consideration is a draft document on X. Respectfully, Vanessa.”

    And I have to make sure the attachment has draft on top of each page, because otherwise I am assuming that my work is the final document and the submission was not sent to my supervisor for review and corrections.

    1. Paris Geller*

      Wow, that’s ridiculous! Reported to HR for insubordination for saying “please see attached for your approval?” Losing your annual increase? Such an overreaction. Sounds like your have a very power-hungry supervisor.

      1. Vanessa*

        Well its really the organization culture, not just my supervisor. New staff are trained during orientation in internal communications procedures to speak/write to senior staff like this. Maybe after all these years I have been institutionalized, but I don’t see it as a big deal anymore.

        1. Ginger Baker*

          From an outside perspective, I lean strongly towards “you have internalized your office’s particular dysfunction as “normal” after being immersed for years”…

          1. Vanessa*

            Awwww,,,,, yes, I can see definitely that, and acknowledge it.

            But I am cool with it and love my job :)

          2. Paris Geller*

            Agreed. I think the additional information makes the situation worse! I could never survive in an environment like that, and I am pretty flexible in the environments I *can* survive in.

    2. JustaTech*

      Good grief! Your boss is completely over the top about what constitutes “respect” and “insubordination”, not to mention super insecure, and your HR is out to lunch.

      I’m really sorry this happened to you!

    3. KeinName*

      Is this public service or a private company? Sounds like military (in a historic European monarchy, haha), but at least they explain the expectations!!

      1. Vanessa*

        Yes, its public service and senior staff have official titles etc kinda like the military service.
        Also yes, guidelines and code of conduct is very specific and measurable

  62. Christmas850*

    Forgive my ignorance; is this a northern thing? I live in the south where it’s very respectful to use “sir” and “ma’am” but I’ve heard that it’s considered cold/rude in northern areas!! Maybe it’s similar?

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      It’s not a Northern thing. Sir, Ma’am and the like are considered formal unless you inflect them to sound sarcastic (not unlike the teen “puh-leeze” noted above).

      If anything, “Yes, sir” and “Yes, ma’am” are likely to come across as enthusiastic.

    2. JustaTech*

      Even out in the damp Northwest where “sir” and “ma’am” are rare, “please” is still the baseline of polite!

    3. Book Badger, Attorney-at-Claw*

      It’s not a Northern thing, we Yankees say “please” and “thank you” like everyone else!

      Though, just on that topic, as a Northerner who used to live in the South: the thing about “sir” and “ma’am” is that it’s impersonal and extremely formal. Like, if I see a guy drop his wallet on the sidewalk and I’m trying to chase him down to give it back, I would say, “Sir, you dropped this!” because I don’t know his name. Or if I’m trying to disengage from someone yelling at me, I might say, “Ma’am, your language is inappropriate” – “ma’am” here being formal but also indicating a clear disconnect between me and her. “Ma’am” or “sir” is a stranger; Mr./Mrs./Ms. is someone you know personally but are extremely respectful of (it’s what a student would call their teacher or how I’d refer to an elderly neighbor); the first name is for people who are at least nominally on the same footing as you, power-wise.

      So it’s not necessarily that it’s rude so much as it indicates a lack of familiarity with the person and/or a huge power imbalance where you see them as being far above you in the social hierarchy, which can be respectful, but can also make people uncomfortable. Incidentally, this is why I prefer my clients call me Book, rather than ma’am or Ms. Badger (…that and my last name is a lot less easy to pronounce than “Badger”), especially if they’re a lot older than me: it feels like I’m getting treated with more deference than I deserve.

    4. More dopamine, please*

      Sir and ma’am are offensive on the west coast of the US, in my experience. Ma’am, in particular, will anger many women because it communicates that they look too old to be assumed a Miss. Add to this that you may be mis-gendering a stranger by randomly calling them “sir” or “ma’am.” Ugh.

      But I’ve never, ever, heard a complaint about please!

    5. gmg22*

      In New England my experience is that “sir” or “ma’am” are fine in very specific customer service-type contexts, but you would be very unlikely to ever hear them in more personal contexts. The one I have particularly in mind is that it’s expected for Southern kids to call their mothers “ma’am,” but to the New England ear that is very jarring. (I’ve had to explain to my poor mom a bunch of times that when my little cousin from North Carolina replies “Yes, ma’am” to his mother, that doesn’t mean she’s raising him amid a reign of terror, it’s just considered good manners.)

  63. WFH with Cat*

    Is it wrong that I want to send Jane a ridiculously fawning email, ask for a multitude of things without ever saying “please,” and end it all with “Thanking you in advance”?

  64. Lesley McCullough*

    Lynn Murphy, the wonderful linguist at Separated by a Common Language has written about the difference in the use of please and thank you in American English – which to really over simplify seems to be more order driven – and Commonwealth Englishes which are more request driven. One is not more polite than the other but they diverge in how they see the use of “please” and “thank you” as in American English it is often seen as unnecessary – at least in a business or service context – or even sarcastic because a person has to do what is being ordered while in Commonwealth Englishes, which operate in a context where the equality of the actors is perhaps not assumed to the same degree, to make a request without saying please or to not acknowledge it by not saying thank you is rude. I’m Canadian so I say please a lot and will continue to do so but I have got over my distaste for American visitors to my territory – who are otherwise lovely and kind people – not saying please or thank you.

    1. gmg22*

      This is very interesting! As a speaker of American English I admit that starting a sentence with “Please” and then the verb, as opposed to “Could you please,” can certainly feel like I’m being given an order.

      It also made me think of the related debate among American English speakers about “You’re welcome,” which many younger speakers don’t use because it feels too formal to them, but older speakers then sometimes get quite irritated at being told “Sure thing” or “No problem” (I’d note that getting annoyed by the latter seems especially petty when it’s the way that a number of other languages literally say “You’re welcome”).

  65. Tobias Funke*

    Wow, I have never encountered this outside my family of origin. It came with such other chestnuts like “there is no such thing as an accident therefore every minor mistake or slipup is intentional and willfully disrespectful” and “private conversations are unacceptable because you’re talking about me”. I feel bad for anyone sucked into a situation like this.

  66. nnn*

    I realize this is not the real problem in this letter, but if anyone is trying to figure out ways to add politeness to a request without using “please”, the conditional tense is your friend.


    – “Could you take a look at this?”
    – “Would you be able to review the approvals by Friday?”

    The advantages of this structure are it does add a layer of politeness and it is deferential (clearly a request and not an order), but it also isn’t in any way self-effacing and doesn’t diminish the importance of the request.

    1. 40 Years in the Nonprofit Trenches*

      Yes, this is what I came here to say as well (further comment separately).

  67. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

    ok, so I understand why Alison is not advising LW to go over her boss’s head and talk to the boss’s boss (it might be better to go with HR, and if there is any anonymity possible, the boss probably wouldn’t know it was OP since she does this to everyone; but there is no guarantee of anonymity). But what about your other colleagues who have these issues? Have any of them ever tried to discuss the issues with anyone higher up? And could you guys potentially do it as a group? I don’t know if it’s likely to be worth it, but I am just curious what all they have to say about it or why it hasn’t been communicated to any higher ups before (or if it has, what exactly happened).

    Regardless, save the email and document everything, every effort you have made to meet with her, etc. That way, if she ever gets in a situation where she wants to throw you under the bus, you have backup where you can say, “I am sorry if I did not do X correctly, but as you can see, I am not given the direction or support I need from my manager and so am left to try to get the job done without any guidance.”

  68. 40 Years in the Nonprofit Trenches*

    Uh yeah, this is a thing. I have a grandboss who is *always* behind on the things he needs to do in order for the organization to function properly, but I have to be super-careful about how I communicate the ask, let alone the inevitable follow-ups. I liberally use “it would be great if you could…” or “I know you’re incredibly busy but…” and “I am so sorry to bother you about this” etc etc etc. Also being able to deflect to an external stakeholder deadline is always helpful: “XYZ [whom you care about, as opposed to me, whom you do not] has let us know that they need this deliverable by Thursday at noon” bracketed by the other “it would be great/incredibly busy/sorry to bother you” bla bla. Fragile egos suck, but that’s why they call it work.

    1. Vanessa*

      Yeah, this is my work culture too. We were taught some standard phrases and also to use the third person eg. “The drafting committee should be grateful for your kind consideration of the attached mock template…”

    2. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

      I’m sorry but when I read “it would be great if you could…” my brain spontaneously changed it to “If you could just go ahead and (fill in the blank), that would be really great!”

      Effing Office Space has rearranged a few of my brain cells, it seems! :-D

  69. CatPerson*

    That email from Jane was beyond the pale. I hate that passive-aggressive B.S. I had a passive-aggressive manager once, and I absolutely loathed him. He was a bad person posing as a human.

  70. El l*

    Makes me wonder what exactly Jane is doing during her working hours.

    Because based on what you’ve seen, it’s very possible she does nothing.

  71. Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii*

    Boss seems to be interested in some kind of fiefdom there her subjects are to be seen and not heard. Yet do what she wants when she wants it. And know how clairvoyantly.
    Where is the rest of the business in all this, other managers, bosses boss, HR, CEO, owner?

  72. fluffy*

    This is one of those letters which made me say “What?!” out loud.

    I’d be tempted to point out to the manager that “please” is short for “if you please,” i.e. “if it pleases you.” It’s very much the opposite of an order!

  73. Sara without an H*

    Hi, OP —

    To borrow a phrase from Alison: Your boss sucks and isn’t going to change. While I don’t think you need to run like the wind to get out of this job, you should probably make sure your resume and LinkedIn profile are current, and work on relationships with colleagues who could give you references in the future if necessary. Job searching always takes longer than you think it will, so it’s good to have the preliminary documentation ready to go if something turns up.

    While I don’t think you have a long-term career here (and face it — would you want one?), you might look for projects or development opportunities that would strengthen your resume when you eventually make your exit. You said this was your “dream job.” What about the job makes you think that? Is it the whole job, or just some aspect of it? Try to focus on the part of the job that plays to your strengths and build a record of accomplishment that will help take you forward.

    As to why Jane is still there, well, there are several possibilities: 1) She’s fabulously brilliant at some aspect of her job that doesn’t involve management; 2) Senior management are as incompetent as she is, so she doesn’t look bad to them; 3) She has pictures of the CEO doing something unspeakable with a goat. Don’t waste your time speculating — focus on getting enough out of this position to set you up for your next one.

  74. ObserverCN*

    Almost all of my work communication is through Slack and e-mail, so I use “please” and “thank you” a lot to avoid coming across as harsh. I’ve never heard anyone call it rude before!

  75. KeinName*

    I agree that you are dealing with a highly unprofessional boss here. However, where I work (very old-fashioned hierarchical culture in part) we got the same complaint once – in German. We are not to give orders but to politely ask, since we are not in a position to make requests. This was not from a manager though, thank god, just from a person with *some* status in the institution.
    I also am very careful with how I word the requests for review I send to higher ups, and do it like someone wrote above, without directly telling the person what to do. Like: before this can go to the board we would need a review by you and X… or similar.

  76. Sparkles McFadden*

    Your boss is a kook, LW. Accept that’s the case and adjust accordingly. Having worked for a kook who was bad at her job, my emails would consist of facts listed in bulletpoint form, as in:
    – Completed the vendor contact (attachment #1). It is awaiting your review and signature (due May 1, 2021). I will drop it off to legal after you have returned the signed copy to me.
    – Finished hardware inventory (attachment #2).

    We all functioned just fine without the boss’ input most of the time, but I had far more time at the company than Kooky Boss. Not sure how I’d feel about being the new person in that situation. It depends on your coworkers and how you feel about the work. It took years for someone to fire my Kook so I wish you luck.

  77. joss*

    OMG, I would be so tempted to write in any future emails “as this is a time sensitive project your approval is required NLT…” and then I would probably get walked out the door I know. This is just flat out ridiculous

  78. SnappinTerrapin*

    Jane is a nut.

    She is also lazy, rude and incompetent.

    If LW want to try to salvage this job, she and some equally disrespected coworkers might consider meeting with Jane’s boss. I suspect the time and effort would be more effectively invested in looking for a better job.

  79. Former HR Staffer*

    have a skip level meeting with her boss, bring the email, and address your issues there. also suggest they talk to other people on the team who’ve voiced the same concerns.

    be prepared that they may not take action or care (perhaps she is there for reasons you’re unaware, such as connections to someone), so it may be your only option is to transfer to another team/dept or start looking elsewhere.

  80. Prof Space Cadet*

    I may be reading too much into this particular situation, but my experience has been that when a boss refuses to meet with employees and/or has communication preferences that completely go against common sense, it’s a symptom of much deeper dysfunction happening beneath the surface of the organization.

    20 years ago, I had a short-term job with a small nonprofit. The daily work was fine and I got along well with my immediate manager, but I had the most bizarre grandboss. If she said “hello” or “good morning” to us as she passed through the office, we were to respond, but if we said “hello” to her first, it would in a steely stare or snarky remark. She would work in her office with the door closed and lights off and come out only 2-3 times during the day and virtually never spoke in staff meetings. I even to said to my immediate manager at lunch one day, “What’s her deal?” and boss shrugged and said “it is what it is.” It took a while, but I eventually figured out that grandboss was a nepotistic hire forced through the executive board, and that most of the staff considered her eccentric and totally useless, but begrudgingly tolerated her. The real reason that no one crossed her was to avoid drama with the exec board.

  81. No Name Today*

    I grew up with a mentally unstable parent who only used the word “please” when issuing orders and about to give punishments. If she’d say, “Hey, pick up your room” or “refill my coffee,” it was just like, “Would you mind doing this while you’re up?” But if she said “PLEASE clean your room” or “do the dinner dishes PLEASE,” that meant she was about to appear in my room with a garbage bag and throw away my stuff or refuse to let me go to extracurriculars or see my friends because she was angry about the housework.

    When I went away to college, a few of my friends (including my now-husband) commented that it was weird that I was the politest person they’d ever met, but that I never said “please” and got tense and overreactive when other people asked me totally normal things using the word “please.” My boyfriend (now-husband) was a bit more direct and told me my behavior was rude and offputting, and listened to me talk it through as I figured out I was overreactive b/c of my parent’s untreated mental illness and her use of please only as a form of threat.

    I first focused on not overreacting to other people saying “please,” which took seriously half a decade, at first reminding myself that it was meant to be polite and consciously refusing to give voice to my overreaction, and gradually becoming less reactive as I noticed most people DID mean to be polite. Then I worked on using “please” myself, which was harder. I’m still more likely to ask, “Would you mind …?” or “I have a big favor to ask …” with people I’m close to, because it FEELS softer and more polite to me. But I think I’m pretty good about using “please” now in formal/regular settings.

    I have noticed this behavior in some other people, especially women, raised in cultures where women aren’t “allowed” to show anger or to be direct — when they’re angry or need something, they’re expected to soften, soften, soften, and say things like, “It would be good if we could get the living room clean today” (subtext: BECAUSE WE HAVE GUESTS COMING) or “It would help me out if you could do the dishes tonight” (subtext: I HAVE A GIANT DEADLINE AT WORK AND YOU ARE A GROWN-ASS ADULT WHO IS CAPABLE OF LOADING A DISHWASHER I SHOULDN’T HAVE TO DO IT ALL THE TIME). When they get very angry and frustrated, they will actually say something direct, but have to soften it with a “please.” “Do the dishes, PLEASE!” And it IS understood as rude, manipulative, or too-direct, because they’re asking for what they want without over-softening it so men in their lives never feel like women are issuing orders.

    Anyway, my guess is that Jane had a tough upbringing. Which I’m sorry about, if it’s true! But she needs to deal with her own shit and her own cultural baggage around the word “please” and how appending it to requests turns them into rude, angry orders. Not an appropriate way to manage, and really not an appropriate way to interact with other adults.

  82. KRDixon*

    I hate to speak to the rationale of a crazy person, but… “please review this” is an order. One that’s phrased politely, absolutely! But it’s a statement, not a question. The problem isn’t the word please, it’s that she’s telling her manager in a statement “review this” instead of asking “could you please review this?”

    I’m not saying this makes her manager’s actions defensible (absolutely not!), but I’d definitely advise OP to ask instead of telling.

    1. WhoKnows*

      Ok I was starting to think I was crazy, but I think this too. I have a co-worker who does this and it drives me absolutely insane. He is 100% giving orders and expects them to be received as such (not that he has the authority to do so) – he is not viewing them as requests.

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