should I tell my boss I’m in therapy, coworker forged a signature, and more

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

1. Should I tell my boss I’m in therapy and on medication?

I’m a high performer in my department and have consistently gotten high marks in performance reviews. My manager, “John,” and I get along very well. A few weeks ago, John pulled me aside and told me he noticed I’ve been snapping at people recently. This is true. Summer is our busiest time of the year, and we’re working 12-hour days the whole season. I’ve been struggling with my mental health and as a result have been moody and short with people at work.

John’s delaying my upcoming promotion because of this (a promotion I’m not even sure I want, but that’s a different question). I completely understand and I’m so embarrassed this even happened. I’ve worked here for years and have always gotten along well with people, but I’m really struggling. I immediately made an appointment with a therapist. I saw them last week, and they diagnosed me with depression and generalized anxiety disorder (neither come as a surprise). I’ve been put on medication for my anxiety.

Should I tell my manager that (a) I’m taking this very seriously and seeing a therapist to deal with it and/or (b) I’ve been put on medication to deal with the problem? This isn’t to get my promotion back on track. I want to make it clear I know this is unacceptable and can get along well with my coworkers.

I know this kind of information would probably be inappropriate in a normal workplace. But everyone at my office is very close. We are all foreign nationals from English-speaking countries, working in a small country where English isn’t a commonly spoken language. All of us, including John, are under 30. Because few other people speak our language, all of us are friends and we often go out together after work. We all know about each other’s lives. I want to tell John to show him that I’m taking this seriously and taking steps to solve it. But is this inappropriate or weird, even when we’re all so close? This is my first job out of college and I can’t really tell where the boundaries are.

As a general rule, don’t share mental health information with your boss. There’s too much risk of them ending up discriminating against you in some way, whether it’s treating you as too delicate for certain projects or denying you advancement opportunities that you’re perfectly capable of. That can be especially true in offices with lower boundaries; in your situation, it’s extra important not to signal to John that your mental health treatment is in any way up for discussion at work.

More on this here.

The most effective way to show John that you’re taking his feedback seriously is with real behavior changes. That’s more convincing than anything else! But if you want, you can also say something like, “I appreciate you giving me that feedback. I’ve thought a lot about what you said, and I’m taking it really seriously.” Back that up with real changes and you should be set.

2. My coworker forged a signature on training paperwork

I recently moved to a new position at my company and am in the process of training folks to cover some of my old tasks. Our training has a three-step sign-off. A trainer signs off the first two steps, then a subject matter expert observes the person perform the task and signs off if they do it correctly. In this case, I’m the final sign-off.

Well, one of the people I was training didn’t bring their paper with them, so I said bring it by tomorrow so I can sign off. She brought a blank sheet — no names or other signatures. I told her it needed to be completed before I could sign. She came back a few minutes later with it completed. Except … one of the signatures was from someone not there that day. I texted that person and verified they hadn’t come in to sign.

So, following our process, I reported the incident to our supervisors. But now I’m having second thoughts. She did commit malpractice, but I’m pretty sure the training was completed. Her supervisor (my old supervisor) is unlikely to approach it her, and may try to blame me for it. (This is his standard MO when someone makes a complaint against one of his employees.) Did I just make a big career mistake? Should I just have ignored it and signed off?

If you’re saying that your colleague forged someone’s signature, you 100% should not have ignored it, and had to report it. That’s a huge ethical violation! (And it’s so bizarre when she could have just waited until the person was back in the office.)

If your old manager blames you for reporting it, that is a startlingly high level of dysfunction. It’s hard to imagine you really made a huge career mistake, especially when you no longer report to this guy, although I can’t speak to the dynamics in your company. Your best approach is to treat the whole thing as blandly and matter-as-factly as possible — X happened, you reported X as required, he can do with it what he wants, now you are moving on to your new position, best of luck, goodbye.

But any decent manager — even any mildly decent manager — would want to know an employee was falsifying documents, no matter how low-stakes the document in question.

3. I don’t want to have weekly meetings with my boss

My boss suddenly wants to have weekly meetings with me after blowing them off for the longest time. But I don’t feel the need for weekly one-on-one meetings. My job is predictable and routine and while there are of course issues that arise, I do resolve them. A standing meeting once a month makes far more sense to me than a weekly chat.

I’m sure my boss has good reasons for sharing her time with me so I don’t want to come off as adversarial or ungrateful, but I sincerely don’t see a compelling need and I can’t imagine that I even have that much to say on a weekly basis.

Is it disrespectful to ask for monthly or possibly bi-weekly meetings instead?

Wait to see how the weekly meetings go first. If it’s clear they’re not a good use of time for either of you, you’ll have a lot more standing to suggest moving them to monthly instead. If you say it now, before you even see how she wants to use the time, it’s going to seem premature. If I wanted to meet with an employee more often and they were like “nah, I’m good,” I’d wonder if they had a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of our roles.

The thing is, it’s possible that meeting weekly won’t be helpful to you but will be helpful to your bossMaybe she’s realized she needs to be more in touch with what’s going on in your realm (or maybe someone above her told her that), and maybe she has a good sense of how she wants to use that time. Maybe she has concerns about your work and wants to work more closely with you until those are resolved. Or maybe it’s none of that, and she just heard this was a good thing to do and decided to try it out. If it seems like a waste of time after a few weeks, you can suggest lowering the frequency then. But wait to see how it goes first.

4. I don’t use the product of the company that I’m interviewing with … and they want passionate users

I recently was asked to interview with a hiring manager for a great company for a job position that would be great fit for my skill set, is in an industry that I’m super interested in, and (at least I believe) that I’m highly qualified for the position. The only thing is that I’ve been a loyal user of said product’s top competitor for years. It would be the equivalent of interviewing for Android after being an iPhone user for years, or Bose headphones when I use Beats … you get the gist.

Any tips on how to answer the questions “are you a user of X product?” or “what do you love about product X?”

Everything I gather from the company culture is that they want employees who are really passionate about the product and the industry. It’s not that I’m not passionate, in fact I’m able to see where their product is differentiated in the market for the one I’m currently using. I’ve done my research! Truthfully, I think the only reason I have their competitor is it was a gift many years ago and I just stayed loyal for that reason.

If the inevitable question comes up, it would feel wrong to lie, but I’d hate for it to preclude me from being a top contender for this position. I also don’t want to sound superficial or disingenuous in saying, “I actually use product Y, but if you pick me and I’ll promptly move over to product X!”

I’m probably overthinking it, but I know that having a compelling story for why you’re interested in the company or why you’re a great fit can really set you apart … or can hold you back. I feel the better prepared I am for the question, the better chance I have at moving forward.

If you know that the company culture is to hire people who are passionate users of the product, announcing that you aren’t risks being a strike against you. At a minimum, I’d try to get familiar enough with the product (maybe by borrowing one?) that you can talk about what you like about it. You might end up with an interviewer who doesn’t really care … but you also might end up with an interviewer who does. You shouldn’t lie and say you’re a lifelong user of the product when you’re not, but you want to at least sound like a genuine admirer of it.

5. After a layoff, do I have to teach someone else how to do my job?

My employer has terminated our entire group (library services), and now wants my colleague and I to teach the new library management group how to do our jobs in the month we have remaining at work. Do I have to do this? We’re research librarians. Our work is more complicated than our boss and VP understand — or want to understand. I’m happy to tell them about the responsibilities of the job, but not how I do it. It took me years to learn, and I don’t know how to professionally say that I can’t train in an hour.

Also, they gave the three youngest people different jobs in the corporation — but not me and my colleague, who are in our sixties and the most highly paid in the group.

Yeah, you do need to do it as long as you’re getting paid, as frustrating as that can be. But generally in situations like this, they’re not expecting you to transfer all your knowledge in a month, but to show them the sort of logistics you’d show to a new hire — meaning, for example, that they might expect you to walk them through the particular software your office uses, the work that needs to be done weekly/monthly/quarterly, and the status of existing projects, but not to impart detailed info on research methodology or in-depth lessons on developing programs. But if you think they’re expecting something more, it’s fine to say, “I can show you the basics and answer questions, but I want to be up-front that the work is complicated and generally takes people years to learn.”

Also, talk with a lawyer ASAP about the age breakdown in the layoffs — and don’t sign any severance agreement until you do. A lawyer might be able to negotiate much better severance for you than whatever the company originally offered.

{ 379 comments… read them below }

  1. RC Rascal*

    #4– I had a similar situation where I was interviewing with a different business unit at my very large employer. I had one of their products and mine didn’t work right. In fact, the product quality was poor. The company was proud of the product and thought it had a big future. Despite this knowledge I wanted the job because my current boss was a giant jerk.

    I got through the interviews by showing interest in the product category and the future of the category. It worked. While they ultimately decided to hire outside the company for political reasons, I was the leading internal candidate.

    1. MusicWithRocksIn*

      I’ve worked in the automotive industry for years, and one company I worked for kept a company car of the brand of each of the automotive companies they worked for on hand just to drive to any meetings with that company. Showing up at Ford driving a Honda was considered a big no-no. I always thought it was strange because the parking lots of some of those places are absolutely massive, but they were convinced these things were noticed. I’ve also heard that at some of the automotive companies, if you work there and don’t drive their brand of car you have to park in the far back lot and take the shuttle in, they like the parking lot in front to be 100% their cars.

      1. Sandman*

        Enough people take rentals for business travel that showing up for a random meeting in a competitor’s car might not have been a big deal, but working for any of the major OEMs and driving a different brand (especially a domestic OEM driving a foreign car) would for sure be noticed. It’s a good way to have your car vandalized some places.

      2. Jillian*

        Oh, it’s true. I worked in automotive for 30 years, and we ALWAYS made sure to rent the brand of car at the company we traveled to. The big three have special lots for off-brand cars, and the worst lots are reserved for foreign cars. It is a VERY BIG DEAL.

        1. Black Horse Dancing*

          Except most “foreign” cars are American made and most US brands are now made in Mexico. The US automakers are hypocrites of the highest measure.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            I know a lot of people who insist they will only “buy American.” Great, but Fords can be built in Mexico and Kias can be built in the U.S. Are you more concerned about money going to the bigwigs at Ford headquarters, or the people working the line?

            1. Chaordic One*

              In addition to all of the American makes of cars now built in Canada and Mexico as the result of NAFTA, there are currently Buicks made in China and South Korean and Chevrolets made in South Korea. There are Fords made in Turkey and India. There are Jeeps made in Italy and (Chrysler) Rams made in Turkey.

      3. Ashloo*

        My dad’s been an engineer with Ford for decades and has pretty exclusively driven Chryslers and now Lexus to work (not really against Ford quality or anything). I don’t think anything more than gentle ribbing has ever happened, certainly no vandalism or weird parking rules. I can’t imagine anyone is paying attention to what vendors are driving, but maybe it’s the specific setting they’re visiting.

        1. bookworm*

          This is absolutely a thing in at least some settings. My partner (an engineer) worked at a Ford assembly plant this summer in a short-term post-grad position and absolutely did have to park her Toyota in a specific lot, even when the assembly lines were not operational and the facility was mostly empty. The one time she tried parking in a closer lot (while everything was shut down), she came back to find a parking violation sticker on a passenger window that we still haven’t managed to completely remove.

        2. bookworm*

          This is definitely a thing in at least some settings. My partner (an engineer) worked at a Ford assembly plant this summer in a short-term post-grad position and absolutely did have to park her Toyota in a specific lot, even when the assembly lines were not operational and the facility was mostly empty. The one time she tried parking in a closer lot (while everything was shut down), she came back to find a parking violation sticker on a passenger window that we still haven’t managed to completely remove.

        3. bookworm*

          This is definitely a thing in at least some settings. My partner (an engineer) worked at a Ford assembly plant this summer in a short-term post-grad position and absolutely did have to park her Toyota in a specific lot, even when the assembly lines were not operational and the facility was mostly empty. The one time she tried parking in a closer lot (while everything was shut down), she came back to find a parking violation sticker on a passenger window that we still haven’t managed to completely remove.

        4. bookworm*

          This is definitely a thing in at least some settings. My partner (an engineer) worked at a Ford assembly plant this summer in a short-term post-grad position and absolutely did have to park her Toyota in a specific lot, even when the assembly lines were not operational and the facility was mostly empty. The one time she tried parking in a closer lot (while everything was shut down), she came back to find a parking violation sticker on a passenger window that we still haven’t managed to completely remove.

      4. Chaordic One*

        Many years ago, my employer had a labor union as a client, and even though they had nothing to do with the automobile industry, they insisted that my employer have a car from an American manufacturer. My employer felt “forced” to trade her beloved Honda Accord for a Ford, which she then traded for a Cadillac. After she finally retired she kept the Cadillac, but also bought another Honda.

    2. Web of Pies*

      I agree if you do your research and focus on how you might improve the product, that could be a good approach. But DO tread carefully! Some people are VERY weird about this stuff. My personal example:

      I was several years into a position where I would do work for a variety of clients and products, many of which I would never use (think doing packaging design for meat products as a vegetarian, or building a website to sell running shoes when you have bad knees). We got a new project in for an edible product I don’t like, and I casually mentioned to the project manager that I don’t use that type of product after he’d asked me if I’d tried out the client’s product yet. He was AGHAST and immediately went to our boss to try and get me kicked off the project. (the client wasn’t even there and I would obviously never mention it to them, that PM was just truly the worst). Despite seeing me work on all kinds of other clients whose products I personally don’t consume, he just COULD NOT understand how I could do my job for this new one.

      If you’re good at your job, you can work on anything, I truly believe that, but some people feel you can’t do good work unless you have some sort of emotional connection to the product. Proceed assuming you’re dealing with the latter and figure out how to assuage their concerns.

      1. Web of Pies*

        Honestly having someone who is NOT the target demo, or who’s chosen a competitor over your product is a super helpful perspective to have on the team. Non-users/target audience can identify issues with the product/project that fans might be unable or unwilling to identify. (see also: diversity in hiring in general)

        1. The New Wanderer*

          YES. I just put together documentation to make this point about future hiring and WHY you don’t hire people who all have the same specific experience, because it limits the group’s ability to consider outside perspectives related to that experience.

          I was also once dismissed as a candidate for a particular job because I didn’t use the end product. All that told me was the interviewer didn’t really understand what my job’s role was, and how potentially compromised my objectivity would have been had I been an avid end product user.

        2. Eliza*

          Yep. As a lesbian working with companies that mostly publish hetero romance/erotica aimed at men, I’m pretty far from the core target demographic, and I have sometimes wondered whether my feedback on the positives and negatives of a work is actually relevant… but I’ve been told that I bring a useful perspective precisely because I’m coming from a different perspective.

    3. A Feast of Fools*

      I showed up to my first day orientation for an internship at Household Brand Name Soft Drink Manufacturer (that also bottles water, juice, and energy drinks) and, on the walk to the training room, the trainer asked if we wanted any coffee or water or whatever before we got started. I said I’d brought my own water. She whipped around immediately and demanded to see it.

      I had the water in a giant, clear, sports bottle in my backpack. She visibly relaxed and then told us all that we should never, ever bring anything made by a competitor into the building.

      I mean, people would go to, say, 7-11 and fill up a Big Gulp cup with competitors’ sodas, but it was a huge no-no to have anything with the competitors’ names on them.

  2. LabTechNoMore*

    Summer is our busiest time of the year, and we’re working 12-hour days the whole season. I’ve been struggling with my mental health and as a result have been moody and short with people at work.

    I really need to point out the elephant in the room here. You’ve been working 12 hour days for the past several months – that would cause anyone’s mental health to deteriorate, including becoming snippy.

    1. former 12 hour-er*

      It’s the reality of some fields like tax accountants, political organizers near elections, et cetera. They don’t all snap at people. The OP and their boss are right to want to get a handle on it.

      1. Ariaflame*

        It’s common doesn’t mean it’s good, or healthy, or easy, or right. “I had to suffer, so should they” is not a good argument.
        Wanting to find a way to get through it does not negate that the reasons for it are valid.

        1. MK*

          Saying that you have valid reasons to snap at people isn’t a good argument either. And if long hours are the reality of this job, or this industry, pointing it out it out will come out as an excuse at best, especially if the supervisor can’t do anything about it.

          1. LTL*

            I don’t think it’s about having an excuse for snapping at people. Rather it’s about businesses taking responsibility to ensure that 12 hour work days aren’t a thing if they are committed to a healthy and kind environment.

            I know some will say that it’s the nature of some fields and there’s nothing to be done but… there is. Companies can hire more people such that the busy season has, say, 10 hour work days, and the off season has 6 hour workdays. They just don’t because it’s cheaper to have less employees (who will consequently work 8 hour days except for busy seasons where they work 12).

        2. peasblossom*

          I know this is meant well and of course it’s important to be mindful of abusive labor practices, but the reality is that there just *are* fields where these kind of hours are required because of the nature of the job. It’s not all just about creating suffering for others (!!!). Former 12 hour-er isn’t wrong to point that out. The salient point is really for OP to be in dialogue with with their boss. If they needs to reassess whether or not this field is right for them–or if the 12 hours are really necessary–that’s an entirely different conversation.

        3. Well...*

          I don’t think that’s what former 12 hour-er was saying. They aren’t saying people SHOULD suffer and work 12 hours because they did, they are saying the practice is common. Maybe the practice shouldn’t be common, but given that it is, it’s not justification to snap at coworkers. Enough people can do it and see it as a norm that professionalism still counts.

          I’m not a fan of overwork either. I just think sometimes bad things are widespread, and not acknowledging the reality isn’t helpful for OP.

        4. Colette*

          Some industries are like that. Think about farming – you work long hours during harvest, but then fewer hours in February. Similarly, if you organize conferences, you will be very busy leading up to and at the conference, then quiet after.

          1. Married to a Farmer*

            Or, in my farmer husband’s case, you have cattle so that you’re slammed year round because working anything less than 12 hours a day seems incomprehensible.

        5. SheLooksFamiliar*

          I don’t think LabTechNoMore said it was okay for OP to snap at co-workers, only that it was understandable why.

      2. lemon meringue*

        I don’t think the long days are a good justification for snapping at coworkers, but it is worth noting that this kind of schedule would not work for everyone, even if it’s just for a short period of the year. Obviously this facet of the job might be a worthwhile trade-off for the OP, but it may be worth considering if it’s still working for them.

      3. LizM*

        Exactly. A lot of industries have busy seasons – we need people for 12 hours a day for a small window, but if we staffed up, we wouldn’t have enough work to keep people busy during the off season. A lot of this work is highly specialized so doesn’t necessarily work to hire temporary employees.

        In my organization, people get overtime and/or comp time for hours worked over 40 hours a week (depending on whether they are exempt or not, and their preference). I work in disaster response, and the last couple seasons have been brutal. But part of being in this field is to have the resiliency to manage the busy, stressful times. Long hours are not inherently abusive.

        I applaud OP for addressing her mental health. I ended up being diagnosed with depression when my productivity took a nose-dive during a busy season. My therapist was also really helpful in navigating what were reasonable expectations by my boss and where I needed to establish some work/life boundaries.

    2. Ellie*

      But what about the other people in the team? They’re working 12 hour days and getting snapped at.

      OP sounds like they’re addressing it well, I doubt their supervisor is going to hold it against them if they start showing improvement.

      1. LabTechNoMore*

        They’re making a bunch of foreign nationals to work 12-hour days for months on end. It’s amazing that OP is proactively taking care of their mental health. But it’s really not on them that the working conditions are completely unsustainable (and possibly exploitative). You’re defending 12 hour work days and blaming OP for completely unreasonable hours on labor day for goodness sake!

        1. Ciara*

          In an ideal world, sure! But this is the reality for the OP, and they can’t change that, so the advice should be realistic and USEFUL not idealistic and aspirational.

        2. Ellie*

          There’s no reason to assume they observe labor day wherever the OP is. I’ve worked plenty of 12 hour days, and I’m paid well for them. Getting snapped at by your co-workers because everyone is stressed is not fun, you either need to manage it, or go and take a break, then come back in once you’re calmer. Their supervisor isn’t wrong for addressing it.

        3. MK*

          I don’t want to generalize, but a bunch of people from English speaking countries in a country where most people don’t speak English are unlikely to be an oppressed minority. Not impossible, of course.

          And no one is defending bad labor practices, just pointing out that they can’t be used as a excuse to mistreate your coworkers.

          1. Didi*

            Not an oppressed minority, but it can make it difficult (or feel difficult) to get out of a bad job if your qualifications don’t look like everyone else’s and you are in a country with very conservative hiring practices, where employers generally don’t want to roll the dice on an “out there” resume. There is also still a level of “using illegal work practices and hoping employees don’t know the language well enough to learn labour law” among these kinds of jobs where I live, also with English speaking employees (been there, done that).

            My advice to OP1 is to take some holiday soon if you can and really deeply reflect on whether the answer is the really just the admirable steps you have taken so far, or whether there is actually a problem with your job that you are trying to ignore because you are part of a migrant community and that makes it harder to move on. If the latter, please be assured that my ex-coworkers and I have been in your position and have gone onto better jobs and careers without having to relocate – it can be done. A good therapist will probably dig into this issue anyway by asking you about work and personal life.

            Just make sure your mental health isn’t being exacerbated by the bubble community and feeling trapped in your job, because if that is the root cause, it will need to be tackled at some point. Being a migrant (albeit perhaps a privileged one) can be isolating, exhausting and sometimes a little scary, so I really congratulate you for being proactive in taking care of yourself and having so much insight into your reactions at work.

          2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            Hmm I was in precisely such a situation in my 20s, working in a foreign language school. We were all foreigners, mostly English-speaking, lots of Americans, mostly very young, and none of us knew any of our basic rights, like paid leave and sick leave and being paid before the 5th of the next month. The boss exploited us like hell.

            …until somehow a French guy who knew the French labour code off by heart managed to get hired, and got us organised into a union and told us what we were entitled to and got us lunch vouchers because we didn’t have a canteen. The boss tried to sack him (he was stupid enough to say he didn’t need someone with a degree in law) and we threatened to go on strike and the boss capitulated within minutes. A fine moment.

            1. Cj*

              The Americans in particular should have been glad they even had rights to paid leave and sick leave, because in most states in America you don’t (especially vacation leave, and most certainly not parental leave).

            2. Tau*

              My company isn’t exploitative, but I work in a super international environment in Germany and it’s really striking how easy it might be for them to get away with this sort of thing. I’d guess the vast majority of my foreign coworkers have little if any clue about German labour law.

        4. Koalafied*

          There are two separate issues being conflated here.

          1 – the conditions OP is working in are unsustainable and unreasonable, and the effect of that stress on their mental health is a predictable consequence of policies that the employer bears responsibility for.

          2 – the way OP has handled the job stress is not the only way to handle stress, and if they want to remain in a field where conditions are routinely stressful, they do bear some responsibility for figuring out how to manage that stress without taking it out on others. That doesn’t mean never ever snapping or making a poor decision when you’re stressed. It does mean that “developing stress coping skills that preserve good working relationships with my coworkers” is an objective that you need to be making a good faith effort towards.

      2. OP 1*

        I really appreciate that people are trying to give me the benefit of the doubt, but you phrased it really well here – I’m snapping at people. It’s only been a handful of times (people not following rules seems to be my trigger, ugh) but my manager was absolutely right to point it out and shut it down now. Maybe adding in the other stuff diluted from my question, which was how to show I’m dedicated to improving my behavior. I know the long hours suck but that’s not changing.

        1. Speaks to Dragonflies*

          Maybe this seems a bit simplistic, but I think the best way to show you are dedicated to improving it to improve. Not trying to make light of it at all. Best I can explain it is this…You snapped at folks, and it dinged the way your boss thinks of you. Now you have to repair that ding by showing improvement over time. Its somewhat like trust. Very easy to damage, but it takes time to rebuild it. I hope that I explained it well enough.

          1. OP 1*

            I think you’re definitely right! I’m always so anxious, if there’s a problem I immediately want to deal with it. But I totally understand that this will be a long term thing

            1. Eldritch Office Worker*

              I empathize, and I have been the snapper before. I’m actually pretty open about my mental health in the workplace. I’m a high performer and mid-to-high ranked, and feel that I’m in a good position to be honest and do some destigmatizing for others – especially because we have a lot of fresh graduates and such and I want to model mental health awareness. I screen for places that will be okay with this in interviews, and I’ve been successful with it being a boon to my image (doing good work with struggles) instead of a detriment.

              Which is to say, in the long term, if you feel comfortable in this environment and want to be more open with your boss/coworkers, I disagree with Alison that it’s always a bad thing. However, now’s not the time to bring it up. I typically bring it up when things are going demonstrably well – mention something my therapist told me, mention a meds adjustment if I’m not feeling well (especially to highlight I don’t have COVID), say I’m a little anxious but I’m okay if I seem off or if someone asks what I’m doing. That way it’s part of the vibe already and if it DOES become a problem it’s not this big revelation and I can explain what’s going on and the steps I’m taking to fix it. Is this a good idea in all workplaces? No. But it’s important to me in mine, and it might work in yours.

              HOWEVER, not now. Now you can say something like “I really heard your feedback about snapping. I’ve apologized to [person] and I’m taking it to heart and being proactive about managing my stress and my temperament.” That way it’s addressed, you feel like you’ve said something, and the long term can show itself. But bringing up mental health specifically when things are going badly can lend to the stigma, so I recommend not putting it on the table until you’ve shown some sustained improvement (maybe even crediting therapy and medication once you do).

            2. Ace in the Hole*

              I agree with Eldritch Office Worker, they couldn’t have said it better.

              For now, an apology and assurance that you’re working on it is the best way to go… no need to get into details on exactly what work you’re doing. Frankly, from your coworker’s perspective it’s unimportant whether you’re working on it by going to therapy, practicing yoga, meditating, reading self-help books, or taking relaxing bubble baths every night. The key points are that you do take it seriously and you do change the behavior long-term.

              On a personal note though, make sure you talk to your therapist about your work hours as well as things like how much sleep you get, if you struggle to get healthy nutrition/physical activity, etc. I’ve been dealing with some uncharacteristic emotional problems for months that I thought were stress-related until I finally mentioned how bad my sleep schedule is – turned out the emotional/mental symptoms were caused by chronic sleep deprivation. She suggested some ways to improve my sleep and my problems almost vanished in just a couple of weeks. They only know as much as we tell them, so bring up everything even if it seems unrelated!

            3. Just Here for the Free Lunch*

              I agree with Eldritch as well. Someone I am close to had a similar issue to yours – they were snapping at people (badly) and finally their supervisor pulled them aside and told them that it was negatively impacting everyone’s opinion of them and that people no longer wished to work with them. They finally internalized that and went to see a health professional where they were diagnosed with clinical depression and put on medication. It greatly improved their interactions with coworkers. Best of luck to you!

          2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            I agree entirely. However, “not snapping at people” is not nearly as obvious as “snapping at people” so it might need to be pointed out to the manager. “hey John have you noticed I’m not snapping at anyone anymore” might sound weird.
            OP, how about asking someone else to make a comment in John’s hearing, like “OP it’s been a while since you’ve snapped at anyone, I really appreciate the change”?

        2. Tiny Soprano*

          You’ll definitely see a natural improvement with some therapy and especially once the medication settles in. I had a similar experience some years back and had to take time off to work out the kinks in the medication, but once my mental health started improving it didn’t take much effort to be a better colleague. The trick is not to beat yourself up too much about it. You’ve got this, and I believe in you.

          1. OP 1*

            Thank you! I have a bunch of annual leave scheduled these next few months, plus a few national holidays are coming up as well. I’m determined to get better

        3. learnedthehardway*

          You can best show that you are dedicated to improving your behaviour by stopping the snapping, NOT by telling your manager that you have a mental health issue. A) As others have said, you have no control over how that information will be used. B) While you can point out that you’re getting therapy and have been prescribed antidepressants, some people will see disclosing a mental health issue as making an excuse for your behaviour.

          Your best bet is to tell your manager that you’re being mindful about your behaviour, and to simply stop snapping at people. The therapy and treatment for your mental health issues will help with that, but what matters is that you treat people right, not how you go about doing so. ie. results are the important thing.

    3. Emma*

      Yeah… I really hope therapy is useful for LW but I also think it’s important to bear in mind that the terrible working conditions are the root cause of the problem. It would not be healthy for LW to wind up thinking there is something wrong with them, when in fact they’re experiencing a normal reaction to a godawful working environment.

      Of course, if LW chooses to keep going to therapy and keep working here and trying not to snap at people, that’s fine. It’s just important to maintain a bit of perspective so you don’t wind up with – as Alison often says – a warped idea of normal.

    4. OP 1*

      Thank you for all the responses! I just wanted to say that talking about the 12 hour work days was absolutely not an attempt to defend my behavior. This is a normal part of my industry, and even if it wasn’t, being short or snapping with people is totally unacceptable. Like someone else said, everyone else is also working long hours and they’re being snapped AT.
      I’ve worked at this company for a few years and have never had a problem with the hours before, but my mental health has really taken a nose dive this year – I’m sleeping 3 to 4 hours a night, and having a rough time dealing with it. Luckily our busy period has ended – the rest of the year we have much lighter workloads. I’ll have time to get more sleep and see a therapist weekly.
      My question was about how to show I’m truly dedicated to improving my behavior and being a better coworker. I genuinely appreciate that people are concerned about the workload but I’d like to focus on that :)

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I’m commenting to emphasize the OP’s request at the end of this comment — and to ask people to respect it. The OP knows their situation best and it can be really frustrating for LWs to come into the comments and see a bunch of comments misreading their situation, and even more so after they clarify it. Thank you.

        1. OP 1*

          Thank you Alison! Again I really appreciate how understanding so many of the comments are, but this is something that needs to be dealt with!

          1. 'Tis Me*

            Not necessarily helpful but I just want to send you Internet hugs and cookies if wanted for having the self-awareness and insight to recognise that snapping at others is Not Good, and taking real steps to address that. Mental health dings can be tough to deal with, and it sounds like you’re being really proactive at addressing the part of the situation that is within your power TO address.

            I’m also glad you’re hitting a point with better work-life balance and will be able to sleep, because chronic sleep deprivation also does not do wonders for mental health. The last year and a half have been really tough, and if you’re facing them away from family, unsure when you can see them, with little support outside of your colleagues who you see around the clock… Yeah, not a great recipe. I hope you feel more on top of things and in control. Good luck rebuilding resilience so next year, even though the hours will probably still suck, at least you can look at your own behaviour and feel confident that you lifted up the people around you while you were going through the busy times.

            1. OP 1*

              Thank you!! I’m trying meditation and calming apps, tracking my mood, and giving myself more breaks during the day. I’m really determined to get this handled!

              1. Loredena Frisealach*

                This may not be an issue for you, but just in case it is – pay attention to when/if you’re eating during the day relative to when you feel snappy. I’m horrible about eating, I have a tendency to go from not hungry to starving/never fed — and I will find myself feeling really seriously irritable just before the latter point. So, just in case, make sure you get some protein at regular intervals – can’t hurt, might help! (of course, easier said than done, see how bad I am at acquiring a food)

                1. Lady_Lessa*

                  I like your idea about protein. I learned a long time ago to include a chunk of protein with my breakfast. I tend to alternate beans and meat. (Yes I eat beans for breakfast, blame or credit seeing baked beans on breakfast buffets in Europe)

          2. banoffee pie*

            I’ve found that people get over this type of thing quite quickly (depending on how bad the snapping was, I guess) so hopefully if you stop snapping at people, you’ll be forgiven pretty quickly. And a lot of people might even forget it happened if you’re lucky. Especially if you’re all working long hours, they’re probably exhausted too and will hopefully be too tired to hold a grudge ;)

      2. Bamcheeks*

        Oof, this sounds brutal! I hope some downtime and therapy help.

        But do talk about your ambivalence about the promotion with your therapist! Cos that sounds like very much the same problem– are you unsure about the promotion because you’re in a bad place with work right now, and when you’re back on track you’ll be excited about it? Or are you in a bad place with work because you’re not great at saying no and you need to get better at figuring out what you want and advocating for yourself rather than going along with what seems like a good idea to your manager? To me, that seems kind of integral to where you are now rather than a totally separate problem.

        1. OP 1*

          That’s a good point, I’ll bring it up with them! The promotion is my job now + more admin work, like making schedules for our team, communicating with other departments, etc. I really like the job I’m doing now and I don’t think 1) extra work is a great idea for me right now and 2) the raise is tiny. Some of my colleagues have this senior-level job, and during our off season (not summer) they’re usually coming in early or staying late to get all of these tasks done

          1. EPLawyer*

            That’s not a promotion — that’s other duties as assigned. They are calling it a promotion to get you to agree to it because it sounds like a step up in your career. It’s not.

            If you are working 12 hour days during the busy season with your regular duties, then what would your hours be with the so-called promotion? The company makes their decisions in the best interest of the COMPANY, you need to make your decisions in the best interest of YOU. If you are already so stressed to the point you are snapping at people and are depressed, adding more work is probably not the best idea.

            Also, if you are anxious, your FIRST thought is to talk to the person you think best about the problem in hopes of resolving it. However talking is not the solution. Your boss might not even want to know this about you. Which would make this more uncomfortable, which would make you more anxious, wash, rinse, repeat. Therapists are who you talk to, not your boss.

          2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            OP1, I definitely think that you need to do a deep dive personally on whether or not this promotion is right for you. Or even just right for you at the present time (sometimes the promotion isn’t bad – just timing is t right because of a variety of things). I think settling that may also help you get yourself feeling more like “work you” again.

            Also, at work if possible, when you feel the stress coming on trying just to take a minute break to stop, deep breaths, remind yourself everyone is dealing with busy season can help some with the in the moment snaps.

          3. Ellie*

            Unless it is likely to lead to better things down the track, then not getting that promotion is no loss. If you haven’t seen them before, I’d recommend finding some websites or some training around prioritisation. There’s one where you divide your tasks into things that are important, things that are urgent, things that align with your career goals, and things that don’t. You then only take on what is urgent/important, or what aligns with your career goals. If something is important, but doesn’t align, you either delegate or let someone else handle it. If something isn’t important, and won’t benefit your career, then you don’t do it at all, but making that a conscious decision instead of letting it fester in your brain can help to relieve stress. Writing it down (and crossing the tasks off once they’re done) can also help reassure you that you are making progress in a frustrating environment.

            Another thing that a lot of people do is exercise (although it’s hard to find the time for it when you’re working 12 hour days). Some bike to work though, some go to the gym or have a team they play for. If you can fit it in then that should help with your sleep, and it creates a better boundary between work and home.

            A lot of people get frustrated though – if you’re generally good at your job, and are making a good-faith effort, I can’t see this holding you back. Lots of people have these kinds of issues, and its not that relevant what the cause is. Keeping calm and communicating well when stressed is a skill like any other, you can learn to do it.

    5. Anonymouse*

      This is a really good point. I want to expand and say that OP doesn’t need to get into personal mental health conditions. Lean on this, in your mind OP. Work made you act badly at work. And you are working to fix it at work. Separate from your mental health.
      Signed someone who got bit in the butt when the truth came out (that I hadn’t told anyone)

    6. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I’m in a field where you have busy seasons and thus there are time where you work long hours. Yes, people get crabby. You are still expected to act professionally. We’re adults, not toddlers. Emotional regulation is a requirement. If you can’t do that, then either learn how or change fields.

    7. Bipolar*

      I have Bipolar – a serious condition that causes an atrocious temper. If I can work this hard at not targeting people so can the rest of them

    8. quill*

      I feel like this opens OP’s way to discuss with their manager some sort of effort towards workplace stability. Definitely don’t disclose mental health diagnoses, but pointing out that the hours are getting to you more this year and you’re taking appropriate steps seems like it could be a step towards approaching whatever accomodations need to be made in the end. (And it’s basically impossible that you WON’T need to modify your current work / 12 hour day schedule to get anxiety under control. That sort of sprint all summer is barely tenable when you’re in perfect health.)

      1. LizM*

        I was diagnosed with depression about a year ago when my productivity took a nose-dive during a busy season.

        My therapist was really helpful in helping me develop some tools to be more resilient with the long hours, and also to figure out where I needed to draw some boundaries around work/life balance.

        I didn’t tell my boss that I was seeking treatment for depression, but I did tell him what specific steps I was taking to improve my performance. Things like, “You may notice a slight lag in my response times to certain emails. I’ve noticed that I tend to get bogged down by small tasks and I’m not able to focus on the big, important tasks this time of year. Also, this will allow me time to craft a helpful response, rather than virtually snapping at people.” (one of the things I was doing, and had gotten specific feedback that it needed to stop). I didn’t tell him that this is something my therapist helped me come up with – he doesn’t need to know how I develop solutions, only that I am.

    9. PT*

      I have worked in workplaces like this and frankly this is how I fall. Don’t abuse your employees and then be all *shocked Pikachu* when they start cracking from it.

      Just be glad that all you’re getting is grouching and not something that causes serious liability to the company, like a workplace injury due to sleep deprivation.

    10. TeaCoziesRUs*

      OP #1 – Psst… a gentle reminder to apologize to anyone with whom you were crabby or short-tempered. Not only will it show that your taking ownership of your attitude and working to change it, it is also the mature, kind way to human. :) All the love and support as you work through this difficult time! Be kind to yourself, too.

  3. WS*

    We are all foreign nationals from English-speaking countries, working in a small country where English isn’t a commonly spoken language.

    I have been in this situation. Absolutely DO NOT share your mental health information with anyone, because everybody (not just your co-workers but everybody in the company everywhere) will know about it five seconds later and it may well be used against you in the future. Especially if you ever want to make any suggestions about changing things in your workplace.

    1. Artemesia*

      The only time you need to share this kind of info is when it is such a crisis that you need hospitalization or lengthy care and it can’t be avoided. Absolutely don’t share in this kind of insular gossipy kind of environment. No good can come of this. Alison was spot on here — tell them you are aware of the feedback and working on it and then do it and change, but don’t share the therapy/meds part of it.

      1. PollyQ*

        Even there, you can still just tell your employers you’re having a medical crisis and will be out for however long.

      2. Mental Elf*

        I don’t disagree that this may be the case in OPs situation and may be the case in the States, but from my UK perspective (working in a healthcare-adjacent field), it’s incredibly common to share your mental health status with your boss (if you feel comfortable doing so). As a lot of the time it’s exacerbated by work, it can open a dialogue about how to improve it for you, it means they’ll know why you need to leave early once a fortnight for therapy, and they can often refer you to your employer’s employee assistance programme to provide access to limited free therapy. It has never professionally impacted me or my career to share that information. Of course I know that means I am incredibly lucky and privileged, but I also don’t want to forever live in a world where it’s normalised to hide the impact that poor working conditions may have on you.

        1. Quidge*

          It’s definitely a more nuanced decision in most UK workplaces, but even here 40% of people with mental illness have lost a job after disclosing (either fired or managed out), and that doesn’t include the people or jobs where disclosing changed how they were treated at work dramatically.

          Most of my jobs have been very supportive/any differences in treatment were indistinguishable from being female in a male-dominated field. One tried to low-key talk me out of accepting their offer after I disclosed, claimed all of my requested adjustments weren’t possible once I started, and extended my probation period/managed me out citing performance issues such as not being enthusiastic and motivated enough to work two hours of unpaid overtime every day. (Whilst struggling with diagnosed anxiety and depression I was getting treated.) It’s still a risk, and I’m otherwise very privileged.

    2. allathian*

      Yeah, expat communities can be tough. It’s even easier for employers to ask people to work long hours, and for employees to fall into the “my work is my life” trap, especially if you don’t speak the language of the country very well, and most natives don’t speak your language, and your working environment is fully in your own language. It’s very easy to isolate yourself from everyone else except your coworkers when that happens, and if you have no life to look forward to outside of work, and socialize with just your coworkers, it’s almost inevitable that boundaries will get blurred.

    3. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      Agree. Also, OP, paradoxically, the boundary-blurring in your workplace is probably increasingly the likelihood of irritablity and snapping at colleagues, since when we treat people more like friends the expectations from the relationship change, even if we don’t mean for that to to happen.

      This is probably a sign that you need more boundaries with your colleagues (and more connections outside the office) and less closeness. At least for now.

      1. ceiswyn*

        Well said. I tend to be grumpier and less nice when with people who I feel safe enough to be my ‘authentic self’ around – which in practice means that if I’m snapping at someone, that probably means I think of them as a friend more than a colleague. And need to reconsider my boundaries.

        (The other 20% of the time, they’re someone who has repeatedly discounted my professional expertise or independence, and that’s just a bridge I’m willing to burn.)

    4. Nanashi*

      Agree. In my case, my expat teammates know because we happen to have similar values and similar mental disorders, but I do not intend to ever disclose anyone’s mental health issues to local coworker friends, not to mention bosses. Even HR is obligated to share health records with our direct management if requested, so nobody risks formally asking for accommodations either. Just no. On the other hand, I’m pretty open with friends who are not connected to my workplace.

    5. Venus*

      Agreed about not sharing, although I think it would be safe to thank the boss for pointing it out as you want to do better, and say that you are taking specific actions to improve.

    6. Librarian of SHIELD*

      OP, at my last job I disclosed a mental health condition because it was relevant to some work trainings I was required to participate in. My workplace was mostly nice people, but there were some big structural flaws that made things difficult for employees. But once I had disclosed my diagnosis, every time I tried to address a legitimate concern (similar to your long work days or being guided toward a promotion you’re not sure you want) my superiors had a handy reason to wave away my concerns. Clearly, it wasn’t that the organization didn’t have adequate training or support, it was because I had Mental Health Issues and I was just to fragile to hack it.

      I do not want you to be pigeon-holed the way that I was, so I’m going to recommend that you not disclose your mental health diagnosis or treatment with work people unless it becomes your last resort.

    7. Mordin*

      Agree that that situation makes it MORE important that you don’t share this if you don’t want it to become public knowledge now and forever. I know stories about other expats that they definitely did not share with me and would not have chosen to share with me–who is LGBT, who visits sex workers on the sly from their spouse, who has crippling debt, who has ultra-religious sect parents, who is secretly in love with whom… There is no privacy and this will definitely make its way to people you don’t intend to tell!

  4. Salad Days*

    LW#1, if you’re working 12-hour shifts, you probably need a lot more breaks than you are giving yourself or your employer is giving you. I have found that the best way to handle tough situations in the moment is to take a quick break. I sometimes visit a restroom in another area just to get away without signaling that I’m frustrated, irritated or angry.

  5. katkat*

    #2 reminds me of an incident that happened. I was 19 and applying for university. (Not US) there was an additional testing day, and we were also told to bring in copies of some paperwork. The copies must be signed by two people to verify they were authentic.

    During the day, i was chatting with another girl, when she realised she missed a signature. She had her original paperwork with her and I offered to verify the copies for her. But no, she would rather forge other signatures.

    Even back then i thought it was strange, let alone do that at work.

    You did the right thing LW.

    1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      Honestly, I can 100% see myself doing this as a teenager – back when I was old enough to be doing paperwork that felt like formalities but before I had really absorbed why those processes and formalities were necessary. I also think this is more likely to develop as a habit in someone who had a supervisory figure (like a boss or even a parent) who used to ask the person to forge their signature.

      As an adult….I agree it would be a major red flag.

      1. Asenath*

        Well – there’s signing someone’s name because they told you to do so (and, normally, indicating that you’ve done so) which I’ve done any number of times, and there’s outright forgery, as in this case. The fact that this is forgery means that this is much more of a red flag than “reply to this and sign it for me”, or, when something is prepared, being instructed by the boss to “go ahead and sign it for me and send it”.

        1. BigTenProfessor*

          I had this same thought — if you sign someone else’s name WITH THEIR PERMISSION, there’s usually a certain way you are supposed to indicate that (e.g. putting your initials after it, attaching an email where they approved, etc.). I could see someone flubbing the process, but this situation is NOT that.

          1. Persephone Mongoose*

            The format I’ve seen when you have the authorisation to sign for someone else is to use PP, however you still use your own signature, but write the other persons name.

            e.g. p.p. Secretary’s Signature
            President’s Name

            This has the advantages that you’re not trying to copy someone else’s signature, it’s clear it’s all above board as you’re not trying to hide your involvement, and I imagine it also makes it a lot easier to keep straight from an audit perspective.

        2. Despachito*

          I was wondering about the ethical aspects of this.

          When I was a minor, I had once signed a document in the name of my guardian.

          The document was a request to sit for an important language exam which was to help me to be accepted to a university, and it was just before the deadline, so if I hadn’t handed it in on the spot I would have missed the opportunity to take the exam for the year. And, as I was just short of legal age, it had to be signed by a parent/guardian.

          I therefore hesitantly signed it, and immediately afterwards checked with my guardian by phone (that was back in the dark ages before mobile phones were a thing) that he was OK with it. He, of course, was, because it was a mere formality. I think I was in the right to do this but still it felt and up to now feels a bit strange.

          Heck, it feels strange even if I sign a postcard to our kids “Mom and Dad”, although my significant other definitely does not protest.

          So I reckon that it is justifiable to sign on behalf of someone when it is technically impossible for them to do so, I am positive they agree and the signature does not bear any major legal significance, but it still feels like I am entering a grey area. To sign for someone as described by LW2 would be a big NO-NO.

          1. LavaLamp*

            I used to sign my dad’s name to 90% of my forms in High School. Dad knew and really didn’t care, as long as I informed him. I also sign cards from my family (including pets) and that never feels weird, because everyone else in my family does it that way.

            1. Kal*

              I used to regularly fill out school forms as my mom, because she’s illiterate so I was the one reading her everything anyway. It also made me the go-to person to do the same for my siblings as well. I could have taken advantage of it, but why would I do that to my mom (plus, I siblings that could easily bust me if I did ever try nonsense). To me, so long as the person who you’re signing on behalf of has full informed consent, its ethically fine to me, since the meaning of the signature is to show that they understand and accept whatever is being agreed to by the form.

              The main way it can go wrong, though, is if the person later says that it wasn’t them signing and they didn’t know you did it (whether due to a falling out or misunderstanding or memory problems or whatever), which could potentially land you in hot water. So its not something I make a habit of as an adult, and wouldn’t ever do on anything truly important or in any sort of professional setting.

              But what happened in the LW2s is just so much beyond that. Forging the name of someone who isn’t aware of it is just straight unethical, and when its someone who can easily say that they didn’t sign it (like happened here), its also straight up boneheaded. Even with my background of filling and signing forms for other people, its such a clear line in the sand to do that that I would be astounded by someone oblivious enough to not realize they had crossed that line.

      2. Artemesia*

        I can see doing it but not doing it in a way that anyone else would know. It is a fireable offense in any business context.

  6. Stephen!*

    When interviewing at a well known beverage company, I was asked if I liked the products. Not particularly (and after working there, I almost never touch the stuff!) but my boyfriend was passionate about one of their offerings, which I mentioned and then pivoted into a specific question about if I’d get to take products home (no) and benefits in general (which they technically had, but getting to take advantage of them was not easy, though that did not come up in the interview). I suspect it wasn’t a great answer, but it seemed to suffice, as I did get the job. If you know someone who likes the thing they sell, you might be able to use that as a workaround!

  7. ZenApologized*

    #1 – I’m not sure I agree with the general rule. I don’t believe it’s general, I think it is really case specific.

    The unknown variable is your manager, how trustworthy they are, and how you get on with them.

    I worry that failure to disclose ends up being counterproductive. We know that people can only do their best work when they feel able to bring their whole self to work. Burying something doesn;t help that process. If you trust your manager, and have a good dynamic, I would consider telling them. I did when I suffered, and it was nothing but a good experience. I acknowledge that I may have been lucky, but I don;t think I’m in 0.1% of the population, and each situation merits a case by case deal.

    To extrapolate further from the advice – you could apply it to any condition than mental health. I was lucky in that my depression didn;t manifest too too much at work. What was likelier to show up was when my BG was a bit hinky – I’m Type 1 diabetic. Rather than have my manager assume that I was being an ass – well, more of an ass; even on my best day I’m not Mr Sunshine – I told her, and anyone affected that yes, low blood sugar has a bad effect on me and I do my best, but bear with me. If I follow the model in the advice, I should have shut up and let the worst case interpretation be the one to flourish.

    As I said, I was probably lucky, and I know not everyone works somewhere like that, for someone like that. But from my privileged position I do sometimes wonder if the only way we can end the stigma around depression or mental health is to be open about it.

    1. allathian*

      Yeah, but this isn’t quite the same situation. There is a stigma about mental health that doesn’t exist for physical illnesses. In your case, your depression had a clear, physical cause, low BG, and that pretty much eliminated the stigma right there.

      Also, “bringing your whole self to work” is a bunch of crap, IMO. Most people have a professional personality that they show at work, and that’s as it should be. There’s no reason to expect that you can be “your whole self” in front of people who have no choice in whether they stay in the same room with you or not. That said, I do think that the world would be a better place if neurodivergent and disabled employees could safely disclose their condition at work without fear of facing discrimination, LGBTQ+ employees could be out at work as a matter of course without endangering their safety, and POC employees could wear their natural hair proudly without being accused of looking unprofessional, etc.

      1. ZenApologized*

        Uh, no. And if I expressed that badly, let me try again.

        I have had depression.
        I am T1D.
        The two things are not connected.

        And if I may kindly suggest: I’ve had more issues with ignorance and being judged as a result of being T1 than I have ever had with depression. By a simply ridiculous amount.

        1. Speaks to Dragonflies*

          Zen, it sounds like your workplace has a better attitude towards mental health than others. In many workplaces, no one bats an eye at someone having T1D. My partner has it and its accommodated for. But mental health has this stigma surrounding it. Many workplaces dont understand mental illnesses. Some see it as fake and as a way to get out of work. I had a CEO of a company say once of someone with depression “If they think they’re sad now, wait till they dont have a job. Its just another excuse for slacking off.” Its been my experience that its better to hide any mental illness unless your workplace and boss is understanding of it.

        2. allathian*

          I only went by what you said, that your depression was more likely to show up when your BG was hinky, that’s all.

          Good for you if you’re working in a place where mental health issues can be discussed without stigma, and I’m sorry people have been nasty about your T1 diagnosis. I’m not discounting your experience at all, just saying that many others have the opposite experience.

          That said, I know people who are almost sure they’re T2, but haven’t gotten a diagnosis yet because they’re afraid of the stigma that’s attached to what’s perceived as a consequence of their lifestyle.

        3. ThatGirl*

          Your wording was a little fuzzy there – you definitely at least implied that your depression flared up when your blood sugar was low. But if I’m understanding correctly, it’s not depression – it’s crankiness from low blood sugar, which can happen to anyone (though obviously it’s more serious when you’re T1). I’m sympathetic to that, but it’s as much up to you to be prepared and keep snacks/candy/etc nearby and monitor your glucose as it would be for someone who knew they were anxious or depressed to keep a handle on things as best they can and deal with it pre-emptively.

          and in either case, I think letting your boss know “this has a cause, I’m sorry it’s become a problem, I’m taking your feedback seriously and working on it” is about the best you can do.

          1. AnotherType1*

            would just like to quickly point out that low blood sugar can happen no matter how closely you’re watching it and sugar takes a minimum of 15 minutes to start kicking in! I think we need to take responsibility for our actions while we’re low but I don’t love the implication that going low means we’ve messed up somehow

      2. Bamcakes*

        > There is a stigma about mental health that doesn’t exist for physical illnesses

        Not to deny the stigma attached to mental health, but there is *plenty* of stigma attached to physical illnesses, especially chronic and lifelong conditions. It’s really not the case that you say, “T1 diabetes” and everyone immediately treats you with respect.

        1. allathian*

          I guess not, but I bet that people who have T2 are judged even more than those with T1, because it’s seen as a lifestyle disease. Certainly some T2 diabetics who adopt a healthier lifestyle and lose a significant amount of weight are “cured” in the sense that they no longer need medication or insulin, but it’s still a fatphobic attitude. A friend of mine with T2 was told by one of her coworkers that she couldn’t possibly have it because she’s not fat.

        2. EmKay*

          Having been both physically and mentally ill, I can guaran-gd-tee that the stigma is way, WAY worse for mental illness.

        3. quill*

          Yeah, it’s 100% individualized how people treat you. I’ve definitely been the office scapegoat due to being forced to disclose my anxiety, but I’ve also had accusations of being “lazy” because of my chronic pain.

          Same workplace, though. The professionalism level there was doing the limbo in hell.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Unfortunately, there’s still a stigma around mental health issues. I can’t tell you how many people I hear from who disclosed a mental health issue to their boss, thinking they’d be supportive, and found themselves sidelined on projects, not promoted because they “might not be able to handle the pressure,” and otherwise professionally harmed. Believe me, I’d love to tell people not to worry about the potential stigma, but it would be bad advice because it goes poorly for too many people.

      That doesn’t mean it goes badly for everyone, of course. It’s great that it didn’t for you. But I’m not going to suggest people risk the harm that can come with disclosing without some specific need to do it unless they are very sure their employer will handle it well … and even then I’m going to suggest caution. It’s just too common for it to end up causing outcomes the person didn’t want.

      Moreover, you really don’t need to disclose most medical issues at work. Unless you’re asking for a specific accommodation, your health is not your boss’s business.

      There’s a longer discussion of this here:

      Also related:

      1. Windchime*

        I disclosed that I was being treated for anxiety and stress to my boss (at my old job) and it was the beginning of the end. I was demoted and the bosses started focusing on every little thing that I did. They ended up trying to manage me out and, when that didn’t work (I found another job and gave notice), they refused to let me work my notice so I couldn’t say goodbye to coworkers.

        Don’t disclose unless there is no other way around it.

    3. A.N. O'Nyme*

      Were you in an expat community though? Stuff gets around super fast in those, and not everyone has your best interests in mind. Considering the situation I’d advise the OP to keep things vague too.
      Also, if at all possible, I would suggest OP try to learn the local language and make friends outside of work and the expat community, but given the hours worked I doubt that’s feasible.

    4. Myrin*

      I do think it’s situational but I also think that it’s better to tread on the side of a general rule in cases like this – you can, after all, decide to always behave in X manner but then, in a specific situation after much thought and consideration for how this situation is different, behave in Y manner.

      My sister is very open about her mental health struggles and has been from the start, including towards her boss. A huge reason for that is that she wants to actively combat the previously mentioned stigma against mental illnesses. She knows what she’s potentially risking with that and I think it’s incredibly brave and admirable of her to go on and do that. So far, she has been very successful in her endeavour – she’s been a great source (of confidence but also of knowledge and learning consideration) for her teenage coworkers, her best work friend knew how to react when she had a panic attack, and she got promoted and consistently gets recognised for being the most capable worker in her department.

      But the thing is – she has an agenda. I’d think that if one would want to describe her life’s mission, it would be to eradicate the stigma surrounding mental health. She is willing to take on ridicule and even discrimination to get even one step closer to that goal. That’s not to say she isn’t careful and blares her struggles everywhere (she did feel out her bosses and coworkers when she first started out at her current workplace) but in general, it’s something she’s decided is worth it.

      OP is not in that situation. OP had a specific type of feedback from her boss, seems to work in a somewhat isolated group, wants to get back on track, and has to look out for herself first and foremost. And Alison, as an advice columnist, has to give the answer she believes is most likely to be successful for an OP in a specific situation, and I don’t think she can in good conscience give advice to OP which she thinks is likely to backfire (which it is!). OP is free to disregard that advice if she decides she wants to move forward with telling John, but it would be irresponsible and unrealistic of Alison to not give the answer she gave here.

    5. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      I think mental health tends to carry much more stigma than many physical illnesses (although those carry their share of stigma too, and I think we should lean towards normalizing NOT having to share medical details regardless).

      A big thing with mental health is that a lot of people know the ‘social script’ but they haven’t really internalised the beliefs — disclosing your mental health status in those cases can be really risky and there’s not much gain, IMO.

    6. mreasy*

      LW, don’t disclose. I had a similar issue of being snappish. I received an updated mental health diagnosis, started a new course of medication, and disclosed to my bosses, in my close knit & trusting company. From that point on, no matter how successful I was in my job, how much my behavior improved (with my colleagues to back me up), they would nitpick minor issues they chalked up to behavior problems as a reason not to give me a raise.

    7. JB*

      “We know that people can only do their best work when they feel able to bring their whole self to work.”

      Not sure about that one. Everyone I’ve known who really brought their ‘whole self’ to work was an unprofessional, distracting mess.

      There’s definitely a line that can be walked and sometimes that line shifts based on your trust in your boss and the politics in your workplace, but I don’t see any situation where the default should be to tell your boss about mental health issues.

      There’s still stigma around depression and anxiety disorders in many places, and those of us with more ‘exotic’ disorders probably aren’t going to see a better situation in our lifetime. I don’t think it would ever be beneficial to me to tell my boss I have borderline personality disorder, regardless of how sympathetic they are.

      1. A First Rated Mess*

        This. I am honest about who I am at work, but I also curate how much I share. Some of it is because there’s a limit to how much my coworkers can be expected to care about the minutia of my personal life, and some of it is because of the stigma around many kinds of mental illness (bipolar disorder in my case).

        1. miro*

          Yes, I think your phrase “I am honest about who I am at work, but I also curate how much I share.” is a perfect guideline/way to sum this up!

          I feel like sometimes it’s presented as this binary between “bring your fullll self to work!” and “hide everything, lie about yourself” but in reality there’s a lot of middle ground that involves neither lying nor oversharing. And of course, different people will fall in different places on that spectrum (and individuals may fall in different places in different workplaces) but I think in general, at least some degree of self/sharing curation is a good idea at work.

        2. JB*


          Is it nice to feel like I won’t be judged if I say I play D&D on the weekends? Yeah, of course. Is it good to feel like I can mention having a same-sex partner, if/when I do have one? Obviously.

          But I’m not going to sit there telling my coworkers about the specific D&D campaign I’m running, I’m not going to tell them about details of my dating life, and I’m certainly not going to tell them about my mental health.

          My whole self is at work because I can’t physically leave any of it behind, but my whole self knows how to behave professionally during work hours and how to avoid being treated like a pariah.

          1. Despachito*

            This is beautifully put, and worth using both in work and private life.

            As in your example with the D&D, I am never completely sure about where is the line between normal sharing and oversharing. Because sometimes, if someone shares some more information than just the bare bones it can be very interesting and I can learn useful tips for my own next weekend (as if: during the weekend we went to the ZOO, and it was great, there was a brand new lion cub and they sold great mango ice-cream). But it can easily slide into pure boredom (someone telling you at length the escapades of her cats), and I truly fear that I could slide into that without noticing.

            1. JB*

              That’s a skill that it takes time to learn! If you’re worried, or in an environment where you feel the need to be more reserved, a good approach is to stick to a little information – and trust that if someone wants to know more, they will ask questions. I’ve found that people will always ask questions if they’re interested. And that way I know I’m giving them details they’re actually interested in, rather than the ones I assume are most interesting. As I get to know a particular person well (like a coworker, for example) I start to get a better idea of what they like to hear about.

              For example – I have quite a few pets. Nobody really cares what’s going on with my cats, but a lot of people love updates on my leopard gecko (lizard). I talked about her to a couple of people at first, and took my cue from how people kept asking about her and asking if I had any new pictures of her; and I can make sure not to bore people by generally letting them start those conversations.

              1. Despachito*

                That is a great advice, thank you!

                I realize that when I am the listener, it indeed works as you say – if I am interested, I ask questions spontaneously, but if I am bored, I deliberately avoid them for fear they would trigger more and more droning. Now I will concentrate more on the cues of people asking or not asking when I am the talker.

                Oh, and I had to google up what the leopard gecko looks like – seems like an interesting creature!

      2. The OTHER Other*

        I agree, I’m sure the other commenter meant this in a good and healthy way, but the “bring your whole self to work” idea makes me leery. IMO people should have boundaries at work, lots of things people might consider “bringing their whole selves to work” are really no one else’s business.

        It’s great that people want to challenge stigmas against mental health issues and so on, but please, can the meeting about the TPS reports be about the TPS reports and not our various health issues? IMO part of the stigma about mental health is the perception that people suffering from mental issues are incapable of dealing with work or indeed anything outside their issues, people are reduced to their diagnosis. The best thing for OP to do is focus on the behavior the manager noticed, let them know they are working on it, and perhaps mention their attempts to improve/ask for feedback in their next 1-on-1 meeting.

      3. Well...*

        Also like… That feels like more access to my identity than my workplace should have. My whole self isn’t my work, and my workplace’s incentive isn’t always compatible with my self interest.

    8. Eminence #9*

      Zen, I’m suggesting you may want to reflect on something you said: “We know that people can only do their best work when they feel able to bring their whole self to work.”

      Many of us have the opposite opinion, that almost all workplaces and employees are better off if there are boundaries between work and not-working, including the presentation of a professional identity that need not include every aspect of our private selves.

    9. owl10*

      People do their best work when they bring their whole self to work? This idea must stop. Most people’s unrefined whole self is flawed. You must bring your most professional and collegial self to work.

      I work in customer service. I generally do like customers. However, if I brought my ‘whole self’ to work I’d be telling some customers to go jump.

    10. Tuesday*

      “We know that people can only do their best work when they feel able to bring their whole self to work.” Agreeing with others that we don’t know that at all.

    11. sb51*

      Even if we all agreed on “bringing your whole self” being a thing to strive for, we’re not there yet as a society at all, and encouraging people to assume we are is just going to get them marginalized more.

      (I’m mostly in agreement with you, for the record; my life would be a lot easier if different neurotypes were celebrated and accommodated by design rather than something to only disclose in extremis and then as a fight. (Why should one be “good behavior” when it’s as much nails-on-chalkboard to me as my speaking style is to others? I mean, I know why, but I’m tired of being asked to walk on water but also don’t feel safe disclosing so I just continue to look like a recalcitrant ass about a few things in my work. Sigh.))

      1. Despachito*

        I understand “the whole self” thing as “the environment is safe enough for me not to have to essentially lie about any important aspects of my life”.

        Such as, “nobody will frown at me if I casually mention my same-sex spouse/the fact I am single/I keep llamas/ I have a medical condition which may influence my work”.

        If someone understands the “whole self” as feeling free to mention the details of my last swingers party/of the bad sore on my butt/regularly lashing out in anger”, then I agree this is indeed not appropriate to bring to work.

    12. Yorick*

      Right now, OP’s “whole self” is that they get snappy when they’re stressed. They’re working on that in therapy. This isn’t OP’s identity; they’re actively trying to change this. OP just wants to know how to communicate their commitment to doing better. I agree with Alison that just being seen to do better is the best way.

  8. The OTHER other*

    #2 in my industry forging signatures is a huge red flag, as we need signatures on client documents and forging those is verboten even if it’s what the client wants. You might think forging a signature for training is no big deal, but it’s a slippery slope. Is this the kind of person you want to be, and the kind of business you want to associate with?

    With email, DocuSign, and yes, fax, it’s never been easier to get things signed.

    1. Countess of Upstairs Downstairs*

      I agree. I work in healthcare, my understanding is that in my field, training documents are part of the personnel record, and can be discoverable in malpractice and other types of investigations. The completeness and authenticity of signatures on these documents are a big deal. We don’t know LW’s industry, but if their training document requires three layers of signatures, then it sound like there’s some serious business there. It’s extra important that LW maintains their integrity and not let other’s dishonesty influence them.

    2. John Smith*

      What’s worse, forging a signature for something that has been done, or a genuine signature for something that hasn’t been done?

      My ex manager would happily sign things off that hadn’t actually been carried out. One day when he wasn’t available, a colleague forged his signature for a task that had actually been completed. Personally, I was furious when I found out. When he told me the above reason why, I just thought “what’s the bloody point in requiring a signature?”.

      This manager is also someone who, during an audit, changed the result of a test while the auditors back was turned. The auditor noticed and somehow, this manager kept his job.

      I really should have started my job hunting a long time ago….

      1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

        Yeah, there was a supervisor in one of my departments that allowed her staff to forge her signature on certain documents. My Mom also used to ask me to forge her signature on school paperwork — some people are weirdly nonchalant about it.

        Of course, the only way to make sure that nonchalance doesn’t spread is to take forgeries seriously and report them.

        1. FisherCat*

          The school thing is different for sure! I had the same arrangement with my parent because once I was in my teens and managing my own schedule they cba to follow every piece of paper flotsam re: school agenda. In my workplace this would be a fireable offense and probably the loss of the professional credential. No bueno.

          1. Eldritch Office Worker*

            Is that true I’ve never heard that

            I’ve signed my boss’s signature on a million things with permission but I never assumed that would hold up in court or anything

            1. doreen*

              The legal definition of forgery usually includes that it was unauthorized, so that if I authorize my kid or my staff to sign my name to something it is not legally forgery and not a crime. That doesn’t mean that the kid’s school or my employer won’t have a problem with it – although my employer does not in fact have a problem so long as 1) I did authorize it and 2) There is an notation such as “by Staff name” or ” Staff name for “

            2. A Feast of Fools*

              In my company, the boss would have to have signed a Delegation of Authority indicating which specific documents you could sign on her behalf and for how long. If a DoA doesn’t exist and we find it in an audit (I’m an internal auditor), it goes all the way up to the CEO and, most times, an investigation is opened up into every tiny corner of the business you have touched.

        2. EmKay*

          Weirdly nonchalant is a very good way of putting it, thank you!

          I had a couple friends in high school who would sign their parent’s name on tests or whatever, no big deal. My mother? She’d have whooped me (metaphorically) for even thinking of trying that. But she’s a notary, so…

        3. Klio*

          I only ever saw “signed by actual signee in name of other person who did not sign” add. So it was very clear whose signature was there and it was the signers own signature not them faking someone else’s.

          1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

            That seems like best practice to me. The ‘accepted’ forgery just seems to minimise actual fakery — it costs nothing to be a little more clear!

        4. Might Be Spam*

          My mom and I have the same name. She had me sign my sisters’ permission slips for scbool because it wasn’t technically forgery.

          1. Sir Nose d'Voidoffunk*

            I love this, and it reminds me of a family rehearsal dinner a couple of weeks ago (I’m a III). The waitress was running tabs for us and keeping track of who ordered what, and I had to tell the waitress “Not only are there a whole bunch of d’Voidoffunks here, but I’m not even the only Sir Nose d’Voidoffunk you’re going to be dealing with tonight.”

      2. Bamcakes*

        >>What’s worse, forging a signature for something that has been done, or a genuine signature for something that hasn’t been done?

        Depends on the thing, and the level of legal responsibility that signature carries, I guess!

      3. Cthulhu’s Librarian*

        Forgery will always be the worse in my opinion. The genuine signature for something that hasn’t been done still makes the appropriate party culpable (ie, if an issue arises, the signer will have to deal with the consequences). Forging the signature potentially forces liability unto a person who was previously not accepting it for one reason or another, and/or lets them escape accountability for not following the process.

        1. Napkin Thief*

          As someone who worked at a bank for years, absolutely this. The whole point is that the person signing is taking responsibility for whatever they are endorsing. So if it wasn’t done properly – their signature, their problem.

        2. The OTHER Other*

          In my business we have to do hours of continuing education and fill out certifications that we are aware we cannot lie, cheat, steal, etc. One thing I noticed I had to specifically affirm a few years in a row is “I understand I cannot store blank documents/forms signed by a client, with the details of the transactions to be filled in later”. I was amazed this came up so often, because duh. Sure enough, it’s because when regulators audited businesses in our region, it’s a violation they actually found over and over again. Amazing.

        3. Artemesia*

          My husband had a junior lawyer in his firm that went to special training for developing a signature; he was taught how to reproduce his own signature in exactly the same way every time as he signed very important documentation. He tells me bout the time they were investigating possible malfeasance and the other firm argued they had been given permission by his office to do the illegal thing. They flourished the paperwork with this guy’s ‘signature’. They took one look and accused them of forgery — and the fact that this guy had a trained signature meant there was no real defense of their forgery. The junior partner of that firm who had forged the signature ended up fired — don’t know if she was disbarred.

          1. Goober Pea*

            Years ago when I was a Berlitz English teacher, one of my students from Venezuela told me that many people there had a regular signature, and also a “flourish” – an intricate, stylized, difficult-to-copy signature for checks and legal documents, to cut down on forgery which was apparently a common problem at the time. I’ve never heard of special legal signature training – was this in the U.S.?

      4. JB*

        I think forging is worse, personally.

        If someone chooses to sign off on something that’s not done, they’re taking that ethical risk on themselves and only themselves. Nobody else can be responsible, ultimately, for what someone else chose to sign off on.

        But when you forge someone’s signature, you’re putting risk on yourself AND on the person whose signature was faked.

        1. JB*

          Also – having forged signatures floating around out there can make it tough to verify a real signature. So even if this forgery was with ‘good intentions’ (boss reviewed and verbally approved but forgot to sign off, for example) it could later help to cover the tracks for someone forging with bad intentions, if the signature history for this person looks inconsistent.

          1. Lady_Lessa*

            While this is a different reason for signatures, I work the election polls and one gentleman had a very unusual signature, which matched what was in the computer. He explained that he had had someone steal his identity, so he came up with an unforgeable signature.

            (FYI, due to difficulty with signing on a computer, with a stylus at an awkward angle, we almost never rejected a signature.)

      5. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        I’m wondering if you and OP work at the same place.
        (Just because of the level of dysfunction.)
        OP’s reaction, the concern about career suicide, because of one manager who is clearly a jerk, indicates some post stress that is skewing OP’s view.
        I’d be concerned about turning someone in, for lots of reasons. It is stressful. But OP pointing to one particular person in the company as the reason for dread, that’s messed up.

      6. JustaTech*

        In my industry (heavily regulated for safety reasons, you’re welcome), both are equally unacceptable and both (should) get you summarily fired. Both are the kind of thing that, if an auditor finds it, the whole company could be in huge trouble, fined to heck and gone, or even shut down.

    3. Cat Tree*

      I work in a highly regulated industry and data integrity is hugely important. Forging a signature or falsifying data results in immediate firing. Getting required signatures ethically has full support of management all the way to the top, and they will do whatever is necessary to get it done correctly and quickly for time sensitive documents. There is absolutely no reason to forge a signature at my company except sheer laziness.

    4. Lora*

      Yeah, in my industry this is a firing offense, no question. Both manager and employee would be fired on the spot, get your crap and get out. We have official signatures and initials on file – they have you write it several times to be sure of catching slight variations, and you’re required to have unique initials within your organization. For example if you have a Jeff Smith and a John Smith, they cannot both be JS – they have to add a middle initial, and if the middle initials are the same, the second one hired has to pick a different initial or add a fourth initial and learn to write their initials differently.

      This actually came in handy when someone (most likely my extremely sketchy boss at the time) attempted to forge my initial/date on an official document and I had a red-faced screaming director howling about how I was going to be fired for signing off on something, until I pointed out those are NOT in fact my initials, here are my initials.

  9. august*

    LW3 Maybe something came up on your manager’s end that led up to the weekly meetings. My staff also does routine work and I wouldn’t take their time unless someone else, mostly those in higher levels, also take up my time and ask for updates. I agree with the advice and just go with it for now and go from there.

    LW4 If you don’t have personal anecdotes on how the product is better than others, maybe you can ask around from friends or family? It must be something that you can’t just replace on the go and it’s not lying to say that your friend/relative uses their product and likes that feature or prefers using it, etc. And

  10. GNG*

    LW2: In any places I’ve worked, forging signatures on any document is an offense warranting immediate termination. If your old supervisor condones this type of fraud, then both the colleague and the old supervisor has a huge lack of integrity. I hope your own supervisor will be supportive of you for reporting this.
    You did the right thing in reporting this incident. My advice is: You need to preserve your own integrity even though others around you are dishonest. Don’t let other’s lack of integrity warp your sense of what’s normal and acceptable.

    1. Ellie*

      Yes, its extremely fishy that she’d cut such an obvious corner, and I’d be wondering what other corners she was willing to cut. Forging signatures is an instant termination at my work as well, which unfortunately has sometimes had the opposite effect of what was intended, as I’ve seen people sweep things under the rug because they like the person, for someone especially young, or someone who shows a lot of promise. But I’ve also seen people fired and contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars abandoned because it couldn’t be swept under the rug. This isn’t on you, just pass it up the chain and wash your hands of it. If you’d ignored it and then something was said, you would have taken the fall for it.

      1. Amaranth*

        I’m wondering why LW2 is certain the form wasn’t signed previously by the second person and just not brought to training. It wasn’t like the trainee brought the blank official form, they had a blank sheet of paper which plays to the idea the official form was forgotten and they were just hoping to get *something* signed they could staple together. If the signatures were dated or the trainee said they just got them, then its clear. It just sounded a bit awkward to me ‘they hadn’t come in to sign’ on that day, rather than ‘he said he never signed off on Jane’s form.’

        1. LemonLyman*

          OP wrote, “Well, one of the people I was training didn’t bring their paper with them, so I said bring it by tomorrow so I can sign off. She brought a blank sheet — no names or other signatures.”

          The way I read this was that on Day 1, trainee came up to OP with no form to sign. OP said “I need your form with the signatures before I can sign off.” Trainee came back the next day with the form but it didn’t have any names or signatures. OP says “sheet” which I interpret as a form to be filled in with names and signatures, not a completely blank sheet of paper.

        2. Myrin*

          I think the trainee did bring the blank official form, OP just didn’t call it that.

          It’s a bit misleading – understandable, since OP herself knows what she’s talking about – but I think it went like this: “Well, one of the people I was training didn’t bring their paper with them, so I said bring it by tomorrow so I can sign off.”
          And I don’t think the next sentence happened immediately afterwards; after all, they didn’t have their papers with them at all, not just not on their person right this instant. No, the trainee came back the next day (“tomorrow”) and “brought a blank sheet — no names or other signatures. I told her it needed to be completed before I could sign.”. The fact that OP said “it needed to be completed” suggests to me pretty strongly that these were indeed the forms that needed to be signed, not some random piece of blank paper.

            1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

              This is how I interpreted it as well. They also said they checked with the person who owned the signature in question. Sounds like maybe this is more a manager thing than anything else – because the manager is letting this happen.

              Be matter of fact and report it as you should. As others have said keep your professional integrity intact.

      2. LemonLyman*

        Yes! I can’t tell if the trainee is brand new or just new to these tasks. Either way, it seems pretty brazen to forge signatures, especially while in a trainee status. I’m concerned about her barometer for right and wrong and it’s good you told supervisors so that even if they don’t care about this one situation, they can be aware of patterns of additional issues in the future.

  11. Sue*

    #5 absolutely talk to an attorney! The scenario you talk about sounds like a classic case of age discrimination. Even if you don’t have a provable case or prefer not to pursue it, it may well be enough to get a favorable settlement as Alison describes.

    1. Debe*

      Yes, I came here to say just that to #5. Do it now before you get the severance package just to be sure you have your ducks in a row. Be sure to research the attorney too. Google reviews etc. you don’t want a lawsuit, just a nicer chunk of money and many maybe medical insurance if your not 65. Your employer may give you insurance till you turn 65. I’m so sorry this is happening to you. Good luck my friend. Maybe this will be a good thing for you. One never knows.

    2. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

      My aunt was once in a similar situation – new management came in, and wanted to “clean house”. Which appeared to mean laying off long term (read: older than 40) managers.

      I don’t know if my aunt got a lawyer, but I do know she got a very nice severance package – much nicer than they would have ordinarily given. The company didn’t want to risk an age discrimination lawsuit (it’s a big company – there would’ve been bad publicity at minimum), and my aunt didn’t want to pursue a lawsuit when the company was already offering a very nice package and she was nearing retirement age.

    3. Spearmint*

      Genuine question: is it age discrimination if the reason they were laid off was their higher salaries? Because I would think that’s a more likely explanation for what’s goin on than that they hate old people.

      1. Reba*

        In the U.S. the legal concept often applied is “disparate impact” — if they show that a rule or whatever affects people of a protected status more than other groups, that is discriminatory even if the rule itself is neutral. In your example, the rule could have been something like “all salaries above $x gotta go,” no mention of age or tenure at all! But if it can be shown to have a disparate impact on employees over 40, it is likely discrimination. The reason for the policy is not an excuse.

        1. Reba*

          Oh uh, by “they” I mean people who suspect they are victims of discrimination and their lawyers. Of course, most people don’t want to get to the point of proving things in a court case! Even so, that can be a good reason to get a lawyer’s help in negotiating the severance as Alison recommended, to show how serious it is and to get a deal you’re more likely to be happy with. IANAL.

        1. nothing rhymes with purple*

          Check out the discussion of “disparate impact” just above before you say this so confidently.

      2. Artemesia*

        who cares if they ‘hate’ old people. Age discrimination is very often a matter of firing people who have larger salaries. Because salaries most places are tied to longevity the two conflate. THAT is age discrimination.

  12. Felis alwayshungryis*

    LW4: How about something like, ‘I was once given a Samsung Galaxy, and the things I really think iPhone do better are…and this is why I think they’re so good.’

    That way you’re not quite outing yourself as a current user of the competitor, but demonstrating why you think this one is the best in the market (and showing good industry knowledge – it’s no good being a Sennheiser evangelist if you don’t have the faintest idea about Bose’s offerings.)

    1. Krabby*

      I agree with this. Say you use Android because it was a gift, but that if you were choosing your own phone, you would be seriously looking at Apple because you admire features X, Y and Z.

    2. ecnaseener*

      I’m a fan of this distancing language, “I was once given…”
      Especially with the smartphone example, and I assume also true with whatever the real product is, people sometimes use identity-focused language like “I’m an Android user, but…” Don’t do that here – it does make a subtle difference to frame it as something you have or use vs something you are.

    3. Environmental Compliance*

      That was my initial thought as well – “Well, I was once given a Galaxy, and the more I use iPhones, the more I love how they [do XYZ] better [in whatever way].” Shows product knowledge and a more-than-passing interest without out front saying “here, look at me, in all my Android glory”.

    4. Web of Pies*

      LW says “I’m able to see where their product is differentiated in the market for the one I’m currently using” which is different than “here’s why YOUR product is the best.”

      Personally, I’d much rather hear that someone has ideas to improve my product or perspectives on how to win over people who use the competitor over someone who just tells me I’ve already done everything right and things are the best they can be.

      1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        yeah, except if OP is not in the development department, but accounts, they might just think her opinion is worthless. The company have specifically said they’re looking for enthusiasts – they want yes men.

        There’s a huge sports retailer here in France, they don’t ask their staff to love their products but they do insist on their staff being into sports. I was asked which sports I practised regularly when they wanted to hire me as a freelancer! I did mostly get stuff related to the sports I was interested in, and learned a lot about bikes as I did the work, but I mostly worked on textile products because I’m specialised in textiles, rather than the sport the T-shirt was designed for.

  13. Greg*

    Ask the manager to send you agenda for the meetings. They will then need to think about it. Maybe they will keep or cancel the meeting

    1. LemonLyman*

      Good idea and I can add to that!

      I advised (below) that OP try the meetings for a few weeks as advised and then, if she’s saying the same things in the meetings, suggest to her boss that she email an end of week report to replace the meetings. She can work with boss to create a form so she’s certain she’s thorough in her report. The agenda is a great idea and if boss sends the same agenda week to week, used to write the form for the end-of-week report. An added bonus is that OP can create a template report and edit as needed since her job is pretty routine. Boss can ask for additional info and clarification on an as needed basis.

    2. TimeTravlR*

      I’ve seen any number of supervisors who suddenly want to do these one-on-ones because they read a book, or someone else said they should, or something. It almost always ends up following off the calendar after just a few meetings. YMMV and maybe I just know some bad supervisors (I will admit to having some grandbosses who really phone in the stuff the books say they should do).

      1. The OTHER Other*

        This is true, unless there is something urgent to discuss, or the boss is a micromanager, or grandboss is really demanding it, weekly meetings are likely to fall off pretty quickly. Old job bought into an outside consulting team’s version of “Continuous Improvement” which required 1st line managers to have daily check-in meetings with their teams, weekly 1-on-1 meetings with each team member, and weekly meetings between the managers (4-5 of us) and our manager, at which we were supposed to bring issues requiring resolution by higher-ups.

        We had “change agents” assigned to us monitoring our adherence and progress, our manager did not. So guess which meeting happened MAYBE every month? It was discouraging to hear how extremely important these meetings were and how COMMITTED our company was to this process, only to have adherence enforced only at the very lowest level, and middle/upper management treated it as something disposable they would maybe get to if they didn’t have something better to do.

        This was almost 10 years ago, I’m sure this particular management trend has come and gone, replaced by the latest fad. Really these things are much like the diet industry.

      2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        yeah, my boss did this at one point and we just had to sit there as he read a list of all our faults (like not putting the file back in the “current projects” box, when I knew I’d forget to follow up on something because I’m very much out of sight out of mind). I blew up and stormed out at one point and that was the end of that. Boss hated me for it though.

    3. Mockingjay*

      Nearly all the managers I’ve had who instituted weekly meetings for project statuses and performance check-ins kept them for a few months, then changed it to biweekly or monthly. Managers adapt. If nothing really changes in your meetings from week to week, then likely the boss will reduce the frequency.

      Also, a weekly meeting can be a gift. You can have smooth sailing at work for most of the year, but suddenly the project hits a major snag or you need help to resolve an issue with a person from another team. Instead of tracking down a busy manager and trying to arrange a meet, you have a dedicated slot to discuss problems and solutions in depth.

      1. JustaTech*

        I have a standing weekly one-on-one with my boss that doesn’t have an agenda (we haven’t been good about having meeting agendas in years), but it’s also usually a 10-15 minute chat about what we’re doing this week, if any of the projects that I’m on that he’s not have big demands on my time that week, and at least some “so how was your weekend?” It was also nice to have structured check in already in place when we were all WFH, so no one ended up feeling forgotten.

        So they don’t have to be a waste of time, as long as everyone is willing to shorten up the meeting to the amount of information that needs to be conveyed.

    4. Stitching Away*

      I wonder at what’s actually going on, that LW is that defensive about not wanting weekly meetings, but also didn’t just ask their manager what they wanted to use the meetings for. Seems like a situation where using their words would solve most of the angst.

  14. Aggretsuko*

    Well, everyone at my work knows I do therapy. This is because you can’t do talk therapy outside of work hours and I have to move my lunch up by an hour once a week to do it then. I’m not advocating telling your work unless you have to–clearly I had to–but for all the faults of my work, they’ve really been fine with it and haven’t had issues.

    That said, I presume you could say something like “I’m looking into it and working on my issues personally” without being all “Hey, I’m on meds now!” or whatever.

    1. Airy*

      But did you have to? Could you have said it was for a standing appointment to manage a health issue? It is, and that preserves more of your privacy.

      1. LemonLyman*

        Agreed with this. As someone who has received a lot of medical treatments, there’s never an instance where you absolutely have to share with your team the treatment you’re receiving.

        A simple convo with the boss “I have a weekly medical appointment that has to be done during my lunch hour because they are only open during work hours. I will need to take my Wednesday lunches to 1-2. All other days I will still take the standard lunch from 12-1. Thanks!” There’s no need to bring this up to coworkers.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Yep, exactly. You don’t ever need to disclose to your boss the specific nature of a medical appointment (and sometimes doing so will open you up to pressure to move it around because your boss, now that she knows what it is, has decided it’s not as important as the llama grooming meeting that conflicts with it this week).

          1. Aggretsuko*

            I’ll put it this way: standing medical appointment for years that you have to do during lunch = they can figure out it’s therapy. I did not feel like I could disguise it plausibly.

            1. pancakes*

              That same description could apply to physical therapy, therapeutic massage, chiropractor appointments, and numerous other types of treatments. It would fit the lymphatic drainage PT I go to, for example.

              1. Airy*

                Yes, there’s a variety of possibilities for chronic conditions. It might feel obvious to you that’s what it is because you know, but to a lot of people it would just be a vague unknown something or other and, unless they were nosy by nature, they would consider it none of their business if you didn’t bring it up. Obviously levels of concern and nosiness vary widely, but I tend to assume other people’s ongoing health issues are pretty boring (like my own) and I don’t think I’m particularly rare in that respect.

      2. A First Rated Mess*

        I used the “standing medical appointment” wording when I started therapy. Basically what I said was “I need to go to a regular medical appointment every few weeks. It’s not a serious issue, but it is chronic so I need to keep on top of it so it doesn’t become serious.” I’d recently finished physical therapy for an injury, so if they assumed it was related to that, I wasn’t going to correct them.

        (Comorbid bipolar disorder and ADHD. I’ve mentioned the second occasionally but not the first, but bipolar has a lot more stigma associated with it while ADHD is relatively common in my line of work.)

          1. Hazel*

            I go to therapy every week, and I have not told my boss or anyone else at work what the appointment is for. They don’t want to know, and it’s none of their business. I also feel more protective of my “professional-ness” because I’m the only woman on my team, and I’m older than just about everyone else. I only want to be seen as a competent, creative professional. In a different work environment, I might feel less guarded about colleagues knowing more personal things about me.

      3. Lily Rowan*

        Yeah, it could easily be physical therapy — I’ve had more trouble doing that outside of work hours than mental health therapy.

    2. ecnaseener*

      Some of my team also casually mentions that they attend therapy, and it’s fine — but I agree with other commenters that it’s not always going to be fine and it’s almost never necessary. (My coworkers don’t seem to feel it’s necessary, they’re just making conversation.)

      There’s also a big difference between “Jane attends therapy” and “Jane has started therapy BECAUSE her mental illness is negatively affecting her work.”

      1. Let's Bagel*

        This is what I came here to say. While I’ve seen a decent shift in recent years (and especially since Covid began) in the general acceptance of therapy, there is still absolutely a divide between people who seem to have it all together, and proudly attending therapy is just one more way they “practice self care” (e.g., gym, skin care routine, therapy!) vs. people who have a diagnosed mental illness that requires therapy and perhaps medication to keep them stable and functioning. I’m generalizing broadly here on both ends of the spectrum, but you get my point. One is still heavily stigmatized, while the other is gaining more acceptance, but in the more upper-class/privileged/wealthier circles.

    3. A Person*

      > you can’t do talk therapy outside of work hours

      This has not been my experience. I’ve had plenty of evening therapy from different therapists over the years. But I’ve always lived in major metro areas and I don’t know where you live.

    4. JustaTech*

      At my last job I ended up telling my boss I was in therapy partly because he’d had concerns about my emotional status at work and partly because it was every Friday afternoon for a while. But I will fully admit I partly told him in a “you and this job are so terrible you’ve driven me to therapy” way (not completely untrue).
      And because I told him we had a tacit agreement that he wouldn’t ask where I was and I wouldn’t keep trying to submit for my overtime. (Yeah, there was a lot wrong there, but the therapy was great!)

  15. TrackingCookieMonster*

    #2: My dad had a similar story.
    He was the head widget inspector and head of quality control for a mill that crafted the key widget for making teapots. One day, the mill boss told him he wanted to send a lot of materials over to a big teapot client in Europe. The problem was these materials did not meet the specifications for these particular teapots. My dad warned the boss this would get found out as soon as the widgets got there.

    The boss said he still wanted to send the widgets anyway, since it would make more money. My dad refused. This is important, since any international widget shipments from the mill had to be signed off by my dad because of his role.

    So the boss forges my dad’s signature. The widgets get sent to Europe, where the teapot makers immediately will not accept the delivery. It would then take more to ship the widgets back to America then the widgets were worth, so the teapot makers got to keep them for free *and* the company would still have to send proper widgets over.

    Needless to say, the widget company’s grandbosses and great-grandbosses weren’t happy, and went to the mill to investigate. My dad denied signing off on the widgets, and had to have the office secretaries confirm that my dad had not come in to sign any of those types of forms recently, and which point it was figured out what the mill boss had done.

    That particular mill boss did not stay around much longer.

    1. Pennyworth*

      Good on your dad for doing the right thing in the face of pressure. One of my father’s favorite stories was of someone who did something similar. My dad was pretty senior in the military and one time was visiting a very secure facility with a civilian government official. Who didn’t bother to bring his security pass because he was so important and well known. So the extremely junior military guard at the entrance refused to let the civilian in without ID or further authorization. My dad said you could see that the guard knew exactly who he was denying entry to, and was clearly very nervous, but he stood firm and followed the rules. Civilian guy blew his stack (to no effect) but my dad was so proud of what this young guard did that he wrote a commendation to his commanding officer.

      1. sswj*

        All I can think of is the umpteen Mission Impossible scenes where a lowly and cowed/impressed guard passes a VIP into a secure area. Once in and out of sight, the VIP pulls off a latex mask to reveal one of Our Heroes who then gets busy gathering all the secret dirt.
        Hope that guard’s CO was suitably pleased and impressed!

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Person of Interest did this charmingly by finding a doppelganger for the person with high clearance.

      2. Mockingjay*

        I’ve done something similar to the Commanding Officer of the base in a elevator. All areas are controlled by badge swipe access, including the elevators. You have to swipe so you are counted as present in the area (if you don’t have access, door won’t open). “Excuse me sir, you forgot to swipe.” *extends hand to hold the door open so he can’t go any further.

        CO promptly swiped. “Thank you for reminding me.”

        (Never sure whether he didn’t swipe because he was the big cheese in the agency or if he was testing to see if staffers were following protocol.)

      3. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Agreed – very good job following the rules by that guard. And good on the senior officer who was with the civilian for now browbeating the gate guard into bending the rules as well (and even more for writing him a commendation).

      4. TeaCoziesRUs*

        Awww, great job on your dad! It says something about how he took care of his troops that he would take an extra 5 minutes to give that young troop some top cover if the civilian came back down on the troop’s commander. I don’t know why, but stories like this make me smile so much!

  16. John Smith*

    Re LW1. Isn’t mental health covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act(?) and would that not afford protection against discrimination? And the cause of the health issue here seems to be work related!

    In the UK, mental health is a protected characteristic, and those with mental health conditions are protected by law against discrimination.

    On saying that, my manager (and everyone else) knows I have depression and anxiety. Everyone is great with me (treating me normally) except my manager who keeps banging on about my mental health despite pleas not to (he thinks he knows about things he has no idea of). I’ve had to tell him that recently, the sole cause of my feeling low is exclusively him which of course he denies. It’s a double edged sword.

    1. allathian*

      Yup, but LW1 is an expat in a non-English-speaking country, and since they don’t say where, we can only speculate. They do have access to therapy, however, so there’s that.

      1. Well...*

        There are online therapists, and time zone differences can make scheduling therapy around a grueling work schedule easier. Also countries with a decent expat community attract English-speaking therapists. I have friend who who have found good therapists abroad in countries with not many English speakers. I’d guess only in big cities, but that’s also where the expat work usually is.

        1. Naomi*

          There are online therapists, but aside from the time zone difficulties there may be legal barriers. I don’t know the licensure requirements where OP is, but I’ve had to cancel therapy appointments when I go of state, even though the appointments are by video call, because my therapist is licensed in my home state but not the state I’m visiting. And that’s just within the US, without crossing any international borders.

    2. Adam*

      Unfortunately, discrimination being illegal doesn’t prevent it from happening, either consciously or unconsciously. And anything but the most blatant discrimination is very difficult to prove, since it’ll often manifest as interesting assignments or opportunities to grow ending up given to someone else. Much better to not give them the ability to discriminate in the first place, if you can.

      1. tangerineRose*

        Yep. I’ve always kept my depression quiet at work (and with everyone but close family and medical staff). It feels safer, and people can act oddly about this kind of thing.

    3. Maid Dombegh*

      This last paragraph is a perfect example of why it’s usually best not to disclose personal information, especially about mental health, at work. Your boss doesn’t know what he’s talking about, you probably don’t want his opinion, and he is not helping. It’s not about discrimination in the legal sense, it’s about some people are just jerks.

    4. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      A different UK perspective: yes it’s technically illegal to discriminate but I’ve had enough experience with people in the workplace suddenly being afraid of me once they know my mental illnesses to never want them to find out again.

      1. Rainy Day*

        I’m also in the UK and I agree.

        Similarly, I ended up disclosing my mental health with my manager last year when I was struggling. Whilst they were initially supportive and helpful, as time has gone on, it seems more and more like it has become a weapon to use against me. My manager barely speaks to me and if they do, it’s all negative feedback, mostly unwarranted, or genuinely spiteful remarks (such as telling me they can’t give me interesting work because I make too many mistakes with the work I *do* get, and that I shouldn’t be paid as much as I am!).
        I get barely anything to do, I’m treated differently to my peer and I was taken off a project because I “would’ve gotten upset if I’d been involved and things had gone wrong.” I’m actively jobseeking because I didn’t sign up to be treated like a pariah.

        Don’t disclose. It isn’t worth it.

        1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

          Very akin to my experience too, it wasn’t anything grossly discriminatory but a few comments of ‘sorry, but Sheila is genuinely afraid of you now’ and ‘how stable are you feeling today?’ and noooope. I’m so sorry :(

          To offer a ray of light – changing jobs to a place that doesn’t know can be absolutely blimmin amazing. Like weight off shoulders ‘I’m a professional again!’ feeling.

          1. Rainy Day*

            I’m glad you could get away from that, that sounds awful.
            Thank you, though- I’ve just gotten out of an interview that I think went really well, so hopefully I’ll be able to get out too.

          2. quill*

            God, yes. Leaving the pig lab from hell and then people not complaining about me in the next room did a hell of a lot for my mental health.

        2. Quidge*

          Yep, this is how the bad employer did it to me. Weaponised is exactly how it felt. Suddenly there’s no benefit of the doubt, you’re getting dinged on reviews for things your peers do all the damn time with no consequences, or worse, your ACTUAL SYMPTOMS, everyone stresses just how Stressful the tasks you don’t actually find stressful are, then things aren’t working out and we’re so sorry, we just don’t think you’re a good fit.

          My good employers? Occasionally you get the “are you SURE X won’t be too stressful?”, and the usual occ-health dance, but they keep private info private and still treat you like a person and team member.

          You honestly can’t tell which kind you’re going to get during a standard interview process; I’ve kind of made my mind up to disclose soon after starting in future, and just walk if that nonsense happens to me again (admittedly because I am otherwise privileged enough that that’s a viable option – I certainly woudn’t recommend that approach to anyone else weighing the pros and cons).

        3. Empress Ki*

          Sorry you are going through that. Speak to your local Citizen Advice Bureau and to ACAS as they can advise you on what to do.

          1. Emma*

            But also, when ACAS tell you that you have no recourse, ignore them, because they are not very good at their job.

    5. ceiswyn*

      Protection against discrimination is basically only protection against REALLY BLATANT discrimination, though. If you just find yourself coming second for promotions and project roles a lot, it’s kind of hard to price that there’s any discrimination at play. See also microaggressions and gender dynamics.

      I disclosed mental health issues in a previous job, and the result was that my manager tried hard to be supportive – HIS idea of supportive. Being asked ‘is everything… *all right*’ after a perfectly normal dental appointment, or being advised to work earlier hours to deal with medication-related tiredness (?!?) just stressed me the heck out and made everything worse.

      Better not to tell anyone, and not to have to add ‘be polite to people who are making it worse’ to the list of things you have to deal with.

      1. londonedit*

        Absolutely – I haven’t experienced this myself, but I’ve worked with people (in the UK) who have disclosed mental health issues because the company as a whole had a positive outlook, but who have then found that their manager suddenly wouldn’t give them stretch projects to work on (‘I’m just not sure you can handle this right now’) or talk about a promotion (‘You need to show that you can work consistently and be a real part of the team’). You’d probably never be able to prove it was out-and-out discrimination, but it was subtle stuff that undermined them and made it clear they’d never advance under that manager.

        1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

          That’s absolutely how it landed with me. Never ‘you can’t do this because you have X’, never ‘you’re a less worthwhile person because you have X’.

          But a lot of ‘well, we just feel maybe that’s a bit beyond you right now’ or ‘perhaps you could think about how your coworkers feel about your current…err…issues’ or the ‘can’t you just get some exercise/eat plants/take up stargazing’ unwanted advice on how they thought I should handle things better.

      2. Cor Blimey*

        “Protection against discrimination is basically only protection against REALLY BLATANT discrimination”
        Absolutely. Some years ago I was overloaded with work, and on top of that I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety. All of this led to burnout, and for about a month I wasn’t really able to do much work. I just sat there staring at my computer screen.
        I told my boss what was going on and asked for help with the work (at the start of the project they had actually promised that 2 or 3 other people would help, but that never happened.) So finally, with some assistance, we were able to finish the work. But I haven’t really been involved in any projects since then, except for small tasks. They don’t trust me to take responsibility for anything anymore.
        That is the kind of discrimination that’s very difficult to prove, and after a few years it becomes justified, becuase it’s been so long that I don’t even know HOW to do my job anymore.
        No, disclosing this info was a terrible idea. I should have lied

    6. Bagpuss*

      I think the issue is that there are lots of negative ways in which people’s knowledge of or perception of any kind of disability can affect someone, even if it doesn’t rise to the level of [provable] discrimination.

      Also, in the UK, disability is a protected characteristic – mental health is not a specific protected characteristic and not every mental health issue would be classed as a disability for the purpose of the Equality Act and the protections it provides.

      And the protections simply mean that the employer may not discriminate and that they must make reasonable accommodations for the disability, What is reasonable can vary hugely based on things such as a size and nature of the business, so while there are protections, they have significant limits.

      1. Xavier Desmond*

        While I agree with the bulk of your post I will point out that the majority of mental health conditions would meet the bar for disability in the UK (eg the OP has depression and GAD which would class them as disabled under the Equality Act)

        1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

          It only counts as a disability if it had significant impairment on day to day life and the bar for that here in the UK is pretty high.

          (I just had to fill out the paperwork to get my disabled parking badge renewed. That’s a lot of ink!)

          1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

            (Extra info: I class as disabled in the UK because my spine is knackered. I don’t class as it because of the schizophrenia, the depression, the OCD, the PTSD…..)

            1. Xavier Desmond*

              I’m guessing it depends on which agency you deal with I suppose then as the bar shouldn’t be that high. I have a friend who has a disabled badge for her OCD and the rule is meant to be if you have a significant impairment *without* treatment. OCD definitely should meet that bar.

              1. miro*

                This is one of those things that’s true in theory (and seems to appear in most official material on the subject) but realistically there’s often soooo many more layers of paperwork and proof demanded, and the standards they actually use for determining disability are often much, much higher.

                As an example: I’ve been physically disabled all my life and use a wheelchair. I have had to crawl up stairs or steps to justify needing an accessible entrance/option (more in housing situations than in the workplace) and am currently renewing my paratransit access which means boatloads of paperwork from both me and my doctor to prove that yep, I really am (still) disabled. And my disability is visible and my access needs pretty obvious–for people with invisible or less visible disabilities, I can only imagine how much harder it is.

                1. Quidge*

                  Yeah, I’m disabled enough that the Equality Act 2010 applies (and trying to work full-time ends in PIPs and/or sick leave), but I’m galaxies away from being disabled enough to receive benefits. Those shouldn’t be different categories, but they very much are.

              2. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

                In an ideal world I wouldn’t have to fill out huge forms/get letters from my doctors/prove that I cannot walk long distances/endure a lot of ‘but are you really that bad?’ questions just to get the use of disabled parking spaces.

                Alas, this is not an ideal world. Applying for disability benefits? Is that hurdle squared. I’ve never qualified for those.

    7. OP 1*

      This is such an interesting thread, I wasn’t thinking about the potential long term consequences of disclosing. I really appreciate everyone’s responses.
      For some background info – I work in a small city in China. The expat community here is small but tight knit, and luckily there is an international hospital and some and clinics here (where I was able to find a therapist).
      My boss is really great and I genuinely believe he’d offer as much support as possible if I told him about my mental health troubles, but it seems like the risk of unconscious bias is too high. I’m going to sit down with my boss and make it clear that I’m taking this seriously, following scripts Alison and other commenters proposed, but I’m not going to disclose my recent struggles with my mental health.

  17. LemonLyman*

    #3 – I get it. Meetings like this can be a time waster if you’re always talking about the same things. Try out weekly meetings for a few weeks and if you find that you’re saying the same things over and over again or it’s not worth it to meet just to say the same things, propose that you send an end of week report instead. You can even work with your manager to come up with a form so you are sure you’re addressing the specific info she’s looking for. If your job is mostly repetitive, then you can create a template and make changes as needed. It’s also nice documentation for yourself at the end of the year when it’s time for your yearly review.

    Also: are you remote or in person. If remote, she might be wanting to meet bc she feels she needs to speak to you regularly about your tasks to ensure you’re staying on target. A report can help assuage that. Or, it could be she’s getting feedback that she needs to hold regular check-ins.

    #4 – I hate that you have to be a user to show your enthusiasm. I think you can show passion for a product without having owned it. I don’t know the product you’re referencing but something like, say…an iPhone may be financially out of reach for many people. Just bc a person owns the competitor doesn’t mean they wouldn’t love to have the product.

    I’m not sure how great this is (others can com prove this…it’s a start), but I’m thinking you can begin along these lines:

    “I had a really limited budget when I went to purchase my but I hope to upgrade to a(n) iPhone, Tesla, Bose/insert product here> soon because the is best in the industry.” This kind of gets you started with answering the “what I love about the product” question.

    Then talk about how you’ve done research (specify what you’ve done: read articles, watched YouTube videos of unboxing and users), borrowed from friends and family.

    As for the “what I love” answer, it’s possible that other people have only used that product whereas you have used other products, so you have a basis of comparison. For instance, I’ve only ever used an iPhone. I don’t have a frame of reference of how much better an iPhone is at certain things than other phones. So while I love my phone, I can’t show that enthusiasm the way you could. I love how easy and intuitive it is to use but I’d probably be even more appreciative of that if I had previously used a phone that was more clunky and less intuitive. (This will be easiest to do if you have some kind of hands on experience with the product so try to borrow if you can!)

    1. Artemesia*

      too defensive — the suggestions to talk about how the X is so much better than the Y you were given, or an anecdote about how the X transformed your brother’s worklife etc is better. Never give an excuse about why you don’t have an X — plunge right into some story about how great X is. Defensiveness undercuts any positive impression you could make with the subsequent story.

    2. The OTHER Other*

      “I hate that you have to be a user to show your enthusiasm.”

      I can see the value to some extent, at least for certain products, but some companies are really oddly fixated on this. I knew someone who had a family member that worked for a major soda manufacturer and if someone drank/asked for a rival product he would make a huge deal about it, starting with “I’m offended by that!”–What an odd escalation IMO for something most people don’t really care that much about. He would evidently also raise a ruckus with serving staff if a restaurant didn’t carry their products, as though the wait staff decide what beverages to stock. I’m glad I never went out to eat with him.

  18. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

    OP1: When I was a younger person I had various undiagnosed issues and was pulled aside by my boss one day who told me my behaviour was unacceptable (it was, I was angry at the world and lashing out) and I had to sort it.

    I got diagnosed with schizophrenia and a few other things, started on meds. When I returned to work I had a meeting with him and said basically ‘I realised you were right. My behaviour was inappropriate and I’m going to make sure it improves.’

    It did! He was really good at giving me feedback about how I was doing. I’ve never told a manager about my diagnosis, or a coworker. Actually not true, I did *once* and it ended up with people being afraid of me.

    1. Hrodvitnir*

      My sympathy for dealing with a mental illness that’s so heavily stigmatised! I’m glad that in general you’ve been able to handle it in a way that protects you.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        Yup, it’s a really difficult one to have *and* make sure others don’t find out. I often joke about it on this forum, that’s a coping mechanism of mine, but the reality is a lot of powerful meds and having to delineate between thoughts I can say out loud and thoughts that I should shunt into read-only memory.
        I’d like to say, just to the world in general, that it does not mean I have a split personality and that I am not dangerous to anyone else. I just have a part of my brain wiring that’s wrong.

        1. Porch Enjoyer*

          Keymaster, I’m sorry that people are such ignoramuses about schizophrenia and I’m happy you’re doing well; it’s a tough enough illness without the prejudices and false information that exist around it. One of my parents had it as well as a family friend; I am more open about my parent’s illness these days, but the first person I ever confided in subsequently used that knowledge against me when I was having my own mental health struggle, and that was horrible (and they were a horrible friend!) I only feel more confident now to talk about parent’s illness that I’m a bit older, to combat stigma. Even so, I’ve learned not to talk about my own ADHD and depression at work.

          Also, excellent user name!

          1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

            My grandmother had it too, but to a far worse extent. I can’t recall a single time she wasn’t convinced that people were listening to her through the walls/sending her coded hate messages via her daily crossword etc.

            I’m more toward the bizarre, like fearing a hedge is going to come alive and eat me starting with my feet or hearing voices telling me I’m worthless. Thankfully the meds hold that down most of the time.

            I’m sorry your former friend was such a prat. Also thank you! I’m a big ghostbusters fan :)

            1. Hazel*

              I wish that our brain parts that don’t work properly would malfunction by telling us we’re fabulous, that everybody loves us, and that we should get medals for doing our best.

    2. OP 1*

      Thank you for sharing! I can’t imagine how difficult that was. I think that’s a great script, I’m going to follow it when I speak to my boss

      1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        No problem mate and I’m hoping it all goes well for you – both with the boss talk and the mental stuff :)

    3. Generic Name*

      I totally agree with this. You can say that you are taking steps to improve your work behavior without outlining exactly what those steps are.

    4. JB*

      Fist-bump of solidarity from someone who also has a psychotic disorder. This is an excellent example of how to handle a situation like that; nice job.

  19. OutOfOffice*

    #1: My whole team knows I go to therapy. I have a standing appointment that means I come in late one day every week. If they didn’t know before, they certainly could have figured it out during COVID, as I still attend virtually. I have had no problems with this at work and have been going to therapy for years. I receive a lot of support from my manager and my team! In fact, I found my therapist on a recommendation from a colleague and in turn recommended them to another colleague.

    I also worked with my manager to identify the issues I thought were holding me back at work so that I could work through them (via root causes) with my therapist. It has definitely helped!

    This will absolutely vary depending on your employer, manager, etc. – but there are places where sharing isn’t a detriment and therapy is becoming normalized.

    1. mreasy*

      In my city/culture, therapy is totally normalized, and something people will make casual reference to. However, a specific psychiatric diagnosis can be a whole other thing. I trust the OP understands the culture of their workplace around things like therapy, but regardless, I cannot recommend disclosing a psychiatric diagnosis and medication.

      1. Hazel*

        I agree. I was scrolling down to add a similar comment about the difference between “therapy” and a specific diagnosis when I saw that you had already done it.

      2. Aggretsuko*

        Right. I haven’t disclosed any particular mental illnesses at work. And according to my HMO I literally don’t have any anyway. I concur on not disclosing anything, but one can go to therapy without being diagnosed with anything clinical.

  20. FemalePhenotype*

    Regarding the answer to #1, I understand that the best way to prove you’re taking a problem seriously is to basically fix it immediately, but what happens when that’s just not possible in a reasonable time frame?
    When I was trying to treat my depression with medication, I went through five different drugs over the course of two years with varying, often work-affecting side effects (like falling asleep at my desk due to only being able to sleep one hour at a time with 3-4 hours between). Two years obviously isn’t a reasonable timeframe to show improvement, throw in the side effects and the treatment looks like a further deterioration in attitude.

    1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      This one, I wish I knew the answer to myself.

      From my personal perspective of life: I went through literally every antidepressant on the market before they found one that worked – an old one with a ton of associated health risks that the NHS doesn’t *want* to prescribe anymore (to anyone). It’s a horrible long process and some of those meds caused me to become *worse*. The place I was working at the time – I told them that my doctors were trying out different treatments (I didn’t specifically say mental stuff) and that there might be some short term issues.

      But on the flip side I definitely understand that no manager can really accommodate an ‘I’m getting better’ plan that spans years.

      Gods, that’s a tricky one.

      1. Quidge*

        I’m juuuust on the upswing of this – great employer, two years was the point at which we switched from ‘support you through difficult time’ to ‘this is no longer sustainable, here is the first step in the formal shape-up-or-ship-out plan’.

        Fortunately, the right meds + finally returning to office had kicked in and I’m now in “any more problems = actual PIP, but you’re not on notice right now” territory.

        Waiting to see if I start getting more stretch projects/responsibility again, or if it’s time to move on once I feel stable enough.

        1. Quidge*

          To answer FemalePhenotype’s question, I’m pretty sure the 18 months of working with me would not have happened had I not disclosed diagnoses + let them know I was pursuing multiple avenues of treatment.

          You’re basically weighing up three outcomes:
          – 1a Disclose and employer is supportive (most likely, moderately stressful, longer timeframe is a huge relief, company resources like occ health and EAP can be really helpful)
          – 1b Disclose and employer is arsehole (unfortunately still quite likely, incredibly detrimental to your mental health, short to very short time before job loss, likely they don’t have a good EAP either)
          – 2 Do not disclose (moderately to very stressful, short to medium time before job loss if you don’t improve over the course of a few months, can use EAP anonymously)

          It’s very much up to you which of 1 or 2 feels least terrible, but bear in mind recovery usually takes much longer than the initial nose-dive.

        2. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

          I nearly lost a job because they put me on a PIP, then warnings and the whole time I was trying to switch from one antipsychotic to another – but absolutely could not tell them that. The ‘I’m switching meds for a condition I have’ reason worked for a while but after 6 months of it (juggling doses and interactions with all the other meds I’m on) they started saying it just wasn’t acceptable anymore.

          Not a pleasant meeting that one. One of the few times I’ve broken down in ugly tears in front of management. Maybe if I’d said what meds I was on they *might* have understood. Likelihood is they wouldn’t :(

        3. Camelid coordinator*

          Thanks for this answer, Quidge, and thanks for this question, FemalePhenotype. I’ve been thinking about this a lot since I am a manager in this situation. We have some formal accommodations in place once the employee comes back from FMLA but I can’t keep doing what I have been doing informally for them (reminding them of upcoming deadlines and essentially planning their work). It has been years.

          1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

            I think that’s one of the hardest situations any manager can be faced with: the ‘I want to help them but ultimately they’ve shown they can’t do this job anymore to an acceptable standard’ conclusion.

            Saw it once, not under my management but a guy in a team when I was working in London requested some extra leeway because he was dealing with – something we never found out and wasn’t our business and while it was ok at first with a few absences and dropping work onto the rest of us it grew into in a 2 year period he actually did work for a total of three months.

            He was warned several times that unless he could show within X weeks that he could do the job again full time they’d fire him. Eventually he was fired.

            To be honest, the feeling I got as one of the staff having to carry his workload as well as mine for years was relief. I guess it might help to frame it in your head as how it’s impacting others? I’d love to hear Alison’s take on it!

      2. TeaCoziesRUs*

        I feel your pain. I was initially diagnosed with depression, but NO antidepressants worked on me – and I tried them for 4 years before weaning myself off of everything. Most of it was situational, so I was able to function after some intense therapy followed by weekly check-ins with my therapist for a few years. However, when the symptoms crept back in 2019 – primarily overwhelm = shut down – I started looking into a different diagnosis that often has depression as a symptom – ADD. So far, this seems to be the right track. However, it’s still a slog to get to the right dosages, etc. That being said, I work for myself so my only boss is my super harsh inner critic and my calmer inner observer. I have no advice, just all the love and empathy for a crap situation.

    2. Bamcakes*

      Best case scenario: your employers will work with you and keep lots of different options on the table, like shifting to part-time work, letting you concentrate on core tasks and responsibilities which you can achieve, taking time off, moving to lower-pressure work temporarily, and so on. But obviously a lot of employers won’t do this, and it’s a fundamental problem with an entire society that says you have to work to live and doesn’t really take responsibility for people who are too ill to work, temporarily or long-term.

      1. FemalePhenotype*

        I more meant how does it affect the answer when you say “I appreciate you giving me that feedback. I’ve thought a lot about what you said, and I’m taking it really seriously” to avoid disclosing anything, and then become an objectively worse employee as a result of your efforts.

        1. Colette*

          It’s a hard question. I think you need to focus on improving the behaviour while you’re working out the treatment. There is no mental health issue that I’m aware of that makes you snap at people; that’s a behaviour. Mental health issues can make you feel worse/be more easily irritated, but the behaviour is under your control to some degree – so you have to focus on fixing that while you deal with the underlying illness.

          1. FemalePhenotype*

            I’m not the OP, these events are from a few years ago now. In my case the “symptoms” were largely crying in the toilets, or at my desk if I couldn’t stop it before the dam broke. I definitely made other people uncomfortable but there wasn’t anything I could do to stop it, it was the very manifestation of my self-control being exhausted.

            1. Colette*

              Crying is harder, of course. It might be reasonable to ask you to find a private area if you needed to cry (i.e. bathrooms are OK, desk is not), sending you home if you’ve been sobbing for an hour, or to make arrangements for you to work from home. I don’t think “no one is ever uncomfortable” is the bar to hit here, but minimizing the impact on others might be. (i.e. You can’t stop crying, but I shouldn’t have to work next to someone who is sobbing. On the other hand, if you’re sobbing in the bathroom, I can possibly use another bathroom or minimize my time there.)

              1. Colette*

                And this might be a situation where you need disability protection, and you need to work with your employer to figure out what a reasonable accommodation looks like in your workplace.

            2. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

              My sympathies, been there :( I had to take time off in the end when it got to the crying at the desk stage.

        2. feral fairy*

          I have bipolar disorder, so I relate to this question and the struggle to find a medication that works. Ultimately I think it comes down to specific behaviors and how they’re impacting your work. With something like snapping at coworkers, I don’t think that’s just a matter of finding the right medication. Medication helps with regulating your mood when it is working properly, but when it comes to interpersonal issues like how you treat your coworkers, working with a therapist on coping skills is more likely to yield quicker results.

        3. Bamcakes*

          ah, sorry, I missed a step out. What I meant to say was that in that situation you are getting out of the “work is suffering because of ill-health, but it’s basically OK” zone and into “too ill to perform my job” zone– and at that point, the cost-benefit analysis of disclosing may well change. You can handle a medical issue privately when the impact on your work is limited in scope and/or time, but at other times you might need to disclose a disability or a medium-long-term condition in order to access accommodations or support which is out of the ordinary entitlement.

          I am in a role where I sometimes get asked advice on disclosing a disability, and it’s so hard: every individual decision is literally unique, taking into account your personal preferences for candour vs privacy; the amount of financial security you have in that particular job at that particular time; the severity of your condition and the impact its having; the sector you’re in, the role you’re in, the company you work for; how professional, discreet, supportive or prejudiced your own manager is– just such an endless list of factors to juggle. Even for one particular person in the same job the calculation can be different at different times, and I don’t think anywhere really has adequate protections.

        4. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

          That…is sadly a question with no definitive answer. I’ve resisted telling anybody at work about my schizophrenia even when it is causing me issues because while I’d love the ‘okay, we’ll make allowances for this’ stuff it’s far more likely I’ll just get condescended to/pushed out of my job/outright feared because I’m ‘crazy’.

          Given a choice between my mental illnesses and my physical disabilities that cause me pain I’d take the pain and walking sticks any day. It’s easier to explain those to managers.

    3. ferrina*

      As a manager, when I have an employee that’s struggling, here’s what I look for:
      This assumes that you are not disclosing any conditions
      1. Show tangible improvement. (Obviously ideal, but I realize this isn’t always possible)
      2. Don’t ask for additional responsibilities or perks unless they directly pertain to your efforts to correct what’s going on. If you think wfh will help, tell me why you think it will help. I’ve had several people that had serious issues, then came to me saying I needed to give them more responsibility or a special project. Um, no, and that makes me wonder if they understand how serious the issue is.
      3. Proactively check in with me to make sure that we’re on the same page about your improvement. It’s best if you have performance benchmarks or examples that you want to talk through to make sure you took the right steps.
      4. Be open to my feedback, even if it’s not what you want to hear.

      On the employee side, I’ve found that it helps me to focus on just doing my job (not above and beyond, which is what I usually strive for), ask a lot of questions, try new strategies when the old ones aren’t working.

      If you notice your performance taking a nosedive that you can’t correct (at least for a while), I agree with Collette that you need invoke the ADA to get some protection. Hopefully your employer is able to make some reasonable accommodations, or you might be able to use FMLA to get through the worst of the time.

  21. Green great dragon*

    I wonder if #2 lost the form with the first set of signatures on it? She could be thinking it was fine to forge the signature because supervisor had in fact signed off (and not wanting to admit to the supervisor she’d lost the form). Still a bad idea and I agree LW did the right thing in sending it up the chain.

    1. EPLawyer*

      Then you wait a day and get the form re-signed. Thinking “Oh I’ll just sign them because I lost the originals” is still not showing good judgment.

      This isn’t about the form itself. It goes to the employee’s judgment. Which is bad no matter the excuse. Unless specifically told to sign someone else’s name and you always note that with a little “w/permission” you don’t sign off on documents others are required to sign.

  22. Magical Mr Mephistopheles*

    Any tips on how to answer the questions “are you a user of X product?” or “what do you love about product X?”

    If you want to get hired, the only acceptable answer to this question is “yes,” and then you come up with some reasons you learned when you researched the product beforehand.

    If your client is FedEx, you don’t send documents using UPS.

    1. Colette*

      “I’m not, but I’m looking forward to trying it next time I’m in the market because of X, Y, and Z.” Lying is not a good choice.

      1. sthomp0281*

        I don’t think you should outright lie to a magnitude of “I am a devoted sycophant to this brand since I was 3 years old!” but, in my opinion, any company that would turn down a strong candidate just because they may have Beats headphones are a bit cultish. Just borrow or purchase a cheap product of theirs, and now you ARE a user.

        1. Colette*

          It really depends on the product and the job. Think cars – you’re not going to buy a new car so that you can answer yes to that question.

          1. Nanani*

            You wouldn’t expect people to buy a new car to look good in an interview, but it’s also reasonable for a car company to not want to hire someone who doesn’t drive for a role that’s about making the driver experience better.

  23. Speaks to Dragonflies*

    OP 4) It seems that this depends on what the company wants, omeone who is well qualified, a cheerleader for the product, or both. And how much you can stand. If coworkers are going to be cheerleading the product to the point of making you sick, it may not be a good match. But if you really like and want the job, you may have to fake it till you make it.

    1. Richard Hershberger*

      This also seems borderline cultish to me. It brings to mind the Away debacle, where everyone was passionate about luggage, of all things. There is the related element of “if you are passionate about this then we don’t need to pay you to do it.” Sure, if the job is a sales position, the whole “passionate” thing makes some sense. An HR position? Not in the least. Also, this is mandatory group think. It is hard to see how this is a good business strategy.

      1. Spearmint*

        The most charitable interpretation I can think of is that this is a clumsy way of finding employees who really understand the product and why, from a user perspective, it’s differentiated from competitor’s products.

    2. ferrina*

      I worked with someone who wasn’t enamored with what the company’s product currently was, but loved the idea of what it could be. She was excited about the industry, and she identified the best elements of competitor’s products and had a plan to be able to evolve this company’s product to meet the same key needs that the competitor’s products filled.
      No faking, just a beautiful vision of the future. (note that she was a senior level role that did had some decision making power)

  24. Database Developer Dude*

    Considering the (in my opinion) completely and totally unacceptable reactions out there in social media to Simone Biles’ mental health struggles, I would like to add my voice to the chorus saying DO NOT DISCLOSE! Someone, somewhere at that workplace is going to hold it against you, and you might never know it.

    Showing you’re improving is looking at your actions and the effects of your actions, and the boss likely doesn’t care about the cause, no matter how justifiable (or not).

    1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      Oh man, yes, I stopped reading certain sites because of how Simone was being treated. Horrific. Utterly horrific.

      On side note – database hi five! Happiest times of my career were being a SQL DBA.

      1. Database Developer Dude*

        Database hi five right back atcha. Which database? Mine is SQL Server, though I’ve done Oracle a long time ago (9i) and am currently working to try to kill an Access database in favor of SQL Server. Oh, and to be fair, my pronouns are he/him/his, since you gave me yours.

  25. hlinak*

    Q4. It’s not really a comment to help you get a job, but companies should want some folks that don’t use their product too to maybe understand better what is holding folks back and to lead to improvements that aren’t going to be readily available to a staff of lovers.

    1. Nanani*

      It reaaaaally depends on what the product is – changing the product to be more appealing to new users could mean losing your established user base.

      1. hlinak*

        That might be true, but not even listening to contrary voices can cause even positive solutions to go unnoticed. If a company is being well run it shouldn’t rely on a fan club to keep it going.

    2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      Yes of course, but they want to hire those people in the design and development departments. If you’re doing the accounts, there’s no need.

  26. Jamie*

    #3 – Are you remote or in person? My office did something similar after it became clear that we weren’t going to be working in person any time soon. Previously, we had a work environment where you could swing by someone’s desk to say hi, quickly check in, make sure everything was good, etc…and we lost that ability once we went remote for the pandemic. If it’s a quick touch base that doesn’t impede your ability to get your work done I’d just go with it and make an effort to make the meetings constructive.

    And I think someone mentioned this above, but the sole purpose of the meeting probably isn’t just for your benefit. A good manager should have a sense of what their people are working on/struggling with/accomplishments and a month is a pretty long time to go without an update.

    1. Colette*

      I’ve also had one-on-ones booked every week, but in practice they only happened every 2 or 3 weeks when we actually had something to discuss – and they have always been valuable to keep my manager in the loop and raise any issues that come up.

  27. JohannaCabal*

    Regarding training replacements and layoffs, there is something I’ve always wondered about. So, about 15 years ago, I used to participate in an online forum used by IT professionals and a user confessed that when their department was replaced with H1B workers, they got together with their team and intentionally trained their replacements incorrectly. Months later, the former employer started hiring back previous staff because “none of the H1B workers knew what they were doing and keep making mistakes.”

    I wonder how often this happens in these situations. When I heard about the Southern California Edison and Disney layoffs where staff had to train their replacements, my first thought was how well they were going to be trained. Plus, it had to be awkward to be the replacement.

    #5 Don’t do this, though. From what I remember, an H1B worker who had been poorly trained by the person they replaced commented that the experience caused a lot of problems for them and gave them a poor impression of the U.S. Of course, that person got a lot of negative comments on the message board too.

    1. Junior Assistant Peon*

      My company had a similar situation, where my grandboss was flown out to a facility slated for closure to try to learn its entire product line in a day. The chemists there didn’t deliberately sabotage his training, but there was absolutely no need for them to do so because it was impossible to convey many years of experience in a single day. Of course, it turned out to be a disaster when we were forced to make coatings formulations we didn’t understand for markets we didn’t understand. Upper management was oblivious to why this might not be a good idea.

      1. quill*

        It feels like the people writing job ad copy that requires a BS or Masters in chemistry should figure it takes years to learn chemistry…

      2. JustaTech*

        Yup. No matter how carefully and thoroughly I train the people I work with, they can’t know everything I know because the only way to do that would to have been here as long as I have. I spent a good portion of 2020 trying to download my brain on some of the more obscure stuff that doesn’t come up often, and is really hard to find, but that only covers 2 subjects, of dozens.

        If I was told to train someone to replace me I would tell the new person “hey, that can’t be done, so take good notes while I tell you where to look for information.” (Heck, our most basic entry level job can’t be trained in less than two months. How would the harder stuff be faster?)

    2. Starbuck*

      It’s such a tough situation, because the company absolutely deserves whatever mess they’re left with because of it, and I can sympathize both with the laid-off workers and H1B workers, both of whom are pitted against each other because of crappy practices of management and not through any faults of their own – they both just want to earn a secure living!

      But agreed that intentionally giving the trainees incorrect information like OP suggests is not the way to go. They don’t need to bust themselves to try and convey 100% of the role tho, because as they say that’d be impossible anyway. Certainly no need to rush or go above and beyond either.

  28. HailRobonia*

    “As a relatively new user of X, I bring an invaluable perspective as a new-adopter of X and have insights into it that long-term users may not have.”

  29. oh no*

    My first office job involved processing forms filled out by people who did not want to fill out forms. Sometimes I would have to fill in missing details: fine. But my coworkers could not understand why I refused to forge signatures. All you had to do was get them to sign it the first time ffs!!

    1. The Rural Juror*

      I’ll sometimes digitally sign acceptance of proposals for coworkers who are in the field and might have a hard time with internet access or time to pull over in their car to sign something time-sensitive. I have one coworker who understands the importance of calling me and giving me express permission to sign the proposal on their behalf and one that DOES NOT. I will not use my access to his digital signature without 100% confirmation from him that I have the correct version of the proposal and it’s ready for his sign-off. It could cost the company money if I get it wrong! It could also cost the company if he gets it wrong, but I’m not taking on that responsibility for him. Geez!

  30. Julia*

    It’s interesting that Alison’s advice on #1 has evolved over the last 8 years – I was just reading a column from 2013 where she gives the opposite advice. (Link in reply.) I think actually both the 2013 advice and this advice have merit. I’m not totally on board with the categorical rule that it never makes sense to disclose. As it turns out, the LW of that 2013 letter wrote back with an update that she disclosed and it went very well.

    I disclosed my bipolar depression at work several years ago and it was helpful, but I wouldn’t do it again. I had been missing work and was a really poor employee because of my mental-health problems, so basically it had gotten bad enough that there was a strong possibility I’d be fired. I had little to lose. But because my depression is now better-managed (and because I’m starting work in a more conservative field), it makes more sense to say nothing. If I need an accommodation, my plan is to keep it vague with “chronic health issue” and then just get right to whatever I need.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Interesting — I like the script recommended in the post, but I would just say “medical issue” now rather than naming which one. The change is almost certainly informed by how many people in the intervening years have told me horror stories about disclosing.

    1. FD*

      Is it possible that ageism played a factor in why your younger coworkers got kept and you didn’t? Possibly.

      I don’t think that the person is saying it’s the only possible reason, but it’s reasonable to note that the only people who seem to have been laid off were older people. That seems like a pattern that’s reasonable to notice, in the same way that we should side-eye a little if the only people laid off were women.

    2. Eldritch Office Worker*

      What the hell.

      The most likely reason is actually that they’re getting paid the most, which is what OP says. That’s uh…budgeting 101. And keeping younger people who will work longer is an investment. They literally teach this in business school. They also teach to weigh it against the value of experience and loyalty to long term employees but it is a mathematical calculation employers make, and age discrimination is a very real thing on its own.

      You have some stuff to unpack, this is a really hostile response to an innocuous short letter.

      1. Starbuck*

        “keeping younger people who will work longer is an investment”

        Well that is ageism so you’ve contradicted yourself. The point about the more experience/longer term people being paid more is enough explanation.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          No, my point was ageism is baked into business practices and shouldn’t be dismissed.

  31. Firecat*

    #2 From what you wrote here, unless there is additional context, it sounds like you may have jumped to a conclusion about the forging. I think you should have spoken with the person some more before reporting them for forging a signature given their bosses vindictive ways.

    It sounds like this training was arduous, and since you mentioned she forgot her paperwork, is it possible she had already gotten these signatures legitimately before hand? Is it possible she found her paperwork in the car or something after she thought she had forgotten it?

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      OP checked with the person who’s name was on the paper and they said they didn’t sign it, no? That sounds like due diligence to me.

      1. Firecat*

        Per the letter they texted the other person to confirm they hadn’t come in that day to sign. That still doesn’t mean they never signed the form or that the OP verified that the paperwork wasn’t signed in the days prior.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          Possible the signature was dated. I know the training forms I’ve had at multiple gobs were both signature and date that the training was completed. But in any case – the OP knows their job and this person best. I would stick to being as matter of fact as possible.

    2. Firecat*

      #3 Just go to the meetings. Given your boss hardly ever met with you before I wouldn’t be surprised if they stay on the calendar but quickly don’t happen.

      I’ve had a lot of hands off bosses and they all seem to go through a phase of – I need to better understand what you are working on – before falling back into their old habits. It’s best to just go along with it. The last time this happened the only team member to kick up a fuss was also the only team member still having these meetings months later.

    3. LKW*

      I work in a regulated field and those signatures are in place often for very explicit reasons related to ensuring compliance with regulations, traceability of decisions and involvement of designated responsible people who are demonstrably trained to perform certain tasks. There is no justifiable reason for a forgery. If you don’t get it on day 1, you get it on day 2. If the person is out on day 2, you go to the delegated back up or you wait. You don’t put the entire operation at risk.

      1. JustaTech*

        Exactly. IF you’re in a regulated industry this is the kind of thing that can cause an entire federal agency to come down on you like a ton of bricks.

        I think part of the issue here is that there are some companies/industries where signatures aren’t really held as important, and then there are other industries where a signature is the same as swearing/affirming in a court of law – and there are major consequences.

        So training might not seem like a big deal, but if federal regulation says that for safety reasons only trained people can do Thing X, and it turns out that some of the proof-of-training documents have been forged, that can get the whole operation shut down. And everyone should want this for, say, a chemical plant, or a nuclear power plant.

    4. londonedit*

      I think it was pretty clear. The employee firstly turned up with no form at all, then when they were told to come back tomorrow the form they brought was blank when it needed to have been signed by the trainers before OP could do the final sign-off, and when the employee was told that this needed to happen, they disappeared for a few minutes and then came back with a form magically filled out with signatures, including one from someone who wasn’t even in the building.

  32. Me*

    LW1 – I don’t disagree with the advice but I would handle it slightly differently. Mental health conditions are HEALTH conditions. I am bipolar. My work knows I have a chronic medical condition that I am under a doctors care for.

    If I were in your shoes, I would tell my boss something like – I hear your feedback, and I see it and am working on it. It turns our I have a medical condition that has been affecting my performance. I want to assure you it’s nothing serious, and I am working with a doctor to get it resolved.

    1. Firecat*

      This just opens you up for prying I to what med condition makes you snap at people.

      Also a lot of people have anxiety, PTSD, etc. but don’t snap at their coworkers.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        A lot of people have diabetes and don’t fall into comas, conditions impact people differently.

        I agree that it’s not a necessary or good conversation to have in all offices, and I have a much more detailed response to OP about that which I believe is in moderation, but if they really wanted to there are levels of disclosure. “I don’t want to talk about the details, and I’m okay, but I do have a medical condition I’m dealing with that’s been impacting my performance and I wanted to let you know I’m taking care of it and really appreciate your candid feedback” is fine.

      2. Me*

        People can pry all they want, you do not have to disclose your medical condition.

        No where did I say there was a free pass for snapping at coworkers. The OP knows it’s unacceptable hence they are getting treatment.

    2. miro*

      I’m not sure if mentioning that OP has a medical condition actually does her much good. As Firecat notes, snapping at people is not considered a typical or acceptable behavior at work and it’s also not something that will be simply explained away by a vague reference to a medical condition. I could see that being more useful to bring up to contextualize something like being distant, tired, or otherwise unenthusiastic, but I think snapping is a different level of behavior.

      The thing is, as a performance issue, snapping at your coworkers *is* pretty serious (and full credit to OP, she clearly knows and takes responsibility for that, per her comments above) so if she says of the condition that “it’s nothing serious” then it might sound like there’s some disconnect–that is, if it’s not that serious then why is is causing such a serious issue?

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Low blood sugar, low iron, migraines, minor hormonal imbalance – all could make one more prone to snapping or otherwise impact work performance and aren’t necessarily serious. “It’s not serious” simply means “it’s treatable, I’m handling it, and you have no reason to worry about me”.

        1. Colette*

          Prone to snapping, yes – but snapping is still not OK, and is not a reasonable accommodation. And I agree that snapping at others is itself serious, so I wouldn’t use “it’s not serious” to describe the condition. (“I have a minor medical issue that contribued to my moods. I realize I’ve let it get out of control. I’m committed to improving the way I interact with others.”

          1. Eldritch Office Worker*

            Of course! No one is suggesting it’s a reasonable accommodation. And we can quibble over wording but I think the bottom line of “something is lending to this and I’m not quite myself, I’m working on it” is fine for workplace disclosure.

            1. miro*

              I think that makes sense to me–I might have been getting overly hung up on the “serious” wording in my original comment.

              Personally, I’d still fall on the side of not disclosing, but I understand (especially after seeing the diversity of perspectives/experiences in the comments) that some people feel better disclosing and/or have workplaces where it is helpful or necessary to do so. If OP does wish to disclose, this seems like a good framework for phrasing it.

      2. Me*

        Not serious as in it’s not fatal. So leave that word out.

        The point is she’s identified the cause and she is working to resolve it.

    3. feral fairy*

      I have Bipolar Disorder as well. I really don’t think that in the LW’s case it makes sense to disclose anything related to mental health. When it comes to things like how a person treats their peers when they are under stress, actions speak louder than words. If the LW takes the feedback to heart and improves their behavior, their mental health diagnosis/treatment isn’t really relevant. I think the main reason the LW would have to disclose (based on what they wrote here) is to reassure their employer that they have taken their feedback to heart, but telling the employer that they have a medical condition might, unfortunately, do the opposite. It can lead to the employer being hypervigilant about the employee’s behavior. Also, even though it makes sense to provide an explanation for her behavior, it might come across as an excuse to someone who isn’t as understanding.

    4. fhqwhgads*

      I don’t think this really addresses what OP was asking though. They’re asking if disclosing is a good way to show they’re taking the issue seriously, and I don’t think it is, regardless of the condition. It’s likely to come off as an excuse. The way to show you’re taking it seriously and working on it is to snap less frequently or not at all. Saying “I’m seeing a doctor so I will do this less/not at all” doesn’t really accomplish any more than saying “I’ll do better in the future” will. And what the workplace wants is the person to do better in the future, not just saying they’re trying or working on it, regardless of why. The health condition factor doesn’t really matter in this specific scenario.

    5. fhqwhgads*

      I don’t think this really addresses what OP was asking though. They’re asking if disclosing is a good way to show they’re taking the issue seriously, and I don’t think it is, regardless of the condition. It’s likely to come off as an excuse. The way to show you’re taking it seriously and working on it is to snap less frequently or not at all. Saying “I’m seeing a doctor so I will do this less/not at all” doesn’t really accomplish any more than saying “I’ll do better in the future” will. And what the workplace wants is the person to do better in the future, not just saying they’re trying or working on it, regardless of why. The health condition factor doesn’t really matter in this specific scenario.

    6. fhqwhgads*

      I don’t think this really addresses what OP was asking though. They’re asking if disclosing is a good way to show they’re taking the issue seriously, and I don’t think it is, regardless of the condition. It’s likely to come off as an excuse. The way to show you’re taking it seriously and working on it is to snap less frequently or not at all. Saying “I’m seeing a doctor so I will do this less/not at all” doesn’t really accomplish any more than saying “I’ll do better in the future”. And what the workplace wants is the person to do better in the future, not just saying they’re trying or working on it, regardless of why. The health condition factor doesn’t really matter in this specific scenario.

  33. Bee Eye Ill*

    #5 – I was in a similar situation many years ago where the company was downsizing and I was being let go, but my boss wanted me to teach her how to do my job, which was web development. I showed her some things but all she did was complain about it being too complicated. I was lucky enough to find a new job quickly and just got out of there. The company has since totally folded.

  34. LKW*

    LW#2 – if your company is big enough for a compliance hotline, call it if the manager or boss bends the rules. They are usually anonymous.

  35. Recruited Recruiter*

    LW#5, I have been in a similar position. I knew that I was being laid off for innocuous reasons, but it was still unpleasant. I was given two weeks to train my replacement at the location that was not closing on all my responsibilities, but it was distinctly not enough time. They went through bankruptcy restructuring not long after I left, and out of business within 2 years.

  36. DrSalty*

    Hi LW #1! I have been in a similar situation, where I received negative feedback about my attitude at work and part of my solution was personally seeking therapy for anxiety. I basically did what Alison is advising – I assured my boss I was taking her feedback seriously and was working on improving without ever mentioning therapy or mental illness. The truth is an improved attitude will speak volumes for itself and will be self-evident, especially if you are working closely with your boss everyday. Therapy helped me immensely, and I hope it does the same for you. Good luck and best wishes!!

  37. Meep*

    Lw #1 – Are you female by chance? I have GAD and depression (and a springingly of OCD and PTSD) and I notice that despite that, I cannot even ask my former manager politely to be civil towards me without it being construed as a personal attack while if my male coworkers yell and scream, it is perfectly ok. It doesn’t matter she is berating me!

    My point is, I am glad you are getting treated but I would definitely look at making sure you are actually grumpy and not just mildly frustrated. Unfortunately, being a woman means you don’t come off as assertive but as b*tchy 9/10.

  38. Amethystmoon*

    #4 If the product isn’t too expensive, you could just go out and get one, to try it. But if it is spendy, see if you can acquire a free or low-cost sample. Also, some companies make smaller travel-size versions of their products to sell at a lesser price. Of course, that depends on what it is.

  39. Elle by the sea*

    #3 I have never worked at a company where not having a weekly meeting with your boss was an option. I work in tech/software engineering, so it might not be the default in other fields. But I seriously had no idea that that’s considered too frequent.

  40. Nanani*

    #4 – I think this one varies wildly depending on what the product IS.
    You use tech examples, so like if they want all employees to have BRAND phones in their pockets all the time, are they providing the phone? Or are they just expecting people to already have one?
    Kinda like fashion and cosmetic brands who want staff using their products at least for all customer-facing work, conveniently not needing to pay for a uniform because they hired people who wear Brand anyway

    If it’s a more niche product then maybe the brand matters less than just knowing what the product does – you maybe wouldn’t someone who doesn’t cook designing kitchen appliances because they might lack any useful intuition about the user experience. If it’s like that, then being knowledgeable about the product might be enough.

    I guess it comes down to do they literally want you to be passionate about their specific version of the product, or about the product in general?

    Either way don’t buy their product just to score interview points. Being a recent convert doesn’t sound like what they’re looking for anyway.

  41. Baron*

    #5: Hi! I’m a librarian too, and have been there. Our work is so devalued, especially in special / corporate library settings, which I infer is where you work. The “can’t you just Google it?” type is prevalent in that environment. The last special library I worked in, the CEO shut down, fired most of us, and found an admin assistant job for our youngest and cheapest staff member. It’s tough out there.

    1. Academic Librarian Anon!*

      Librarian here as well. And our work is devalued in academia as well, although we (at least at my uni) not to the wholesale layoff stage yet.

      Having done research for over three decades, there is no way that you can pass off even the tiniest bit of knowledge to disinterested admins in a month. Alison would have you do your best, but I wouldn’t bother. Tell them about Boolean and call it a month. One of my supervisors tried to be at the general reference desk but eventually confessed that she didn’t know what she was doing. And that was after shadowing one of us for a couple of months. Of course, we have devolved into where the students are too lazy to even google, much less have actual research skills.

      We had a dean of libraries that said that he was going to stop being a dean and go work at the reference desk…like that was easier? He was not happy with the guffaws he received.

      Depending on your research area, may I suggest looking at data analyst jobs. They seem to be doing the same stuff but paid way more.

      And look into the age discrimination aspect. We have seen the wave after wave of “bright, young thing” that are listened to turn into the “old grumpy curmudgeons” that are not listened to in my area.

      Good luck! May the library ninjas be with you!

  42. NW Mossy*

    #4 – one thing to consider in assessing this job is that if you’re offered it and accept, you’ll likely be working with many people who are passionate about that specific product. Does that prospect appeal to you? If you turn out not to like the product, how do you see yourself working with those who are very keen on it? Would faking it to fit in or being the black sheep be stressful for you?

    As an example, my spouse works for a software company that provides support for multiple platforms. He’s the lone dissenter against support for one of the platforms, based on the cost (high) and benefit (small). It’s difficult because all of his peers and his bosses are enthusiastic fans of that platform in their personal lives, so they’re reluctant to give it up even knowing that it loses money. It’s particularly tough for him when he predicts that specific problems will occur, he’s waved off, and then it plays out exactly as he expected. Thankfully, he has a high tolerance for being the odd one out so it works out over time. But if that’s not you, you may want to give it some thought.

  43. Bookworm*

    #3: Mostly agree with Alison’s response but would add the caveat that you know your boss better. I would also personally recommend waiting but if your boss is the type to get into the habit and isn’t likely to change, you might want to go ahead and head it off, especially if you already feel monthly meetings are good. I’ve been there–where it’s usually better to head the boss off in the first place if you can but again, Alison’s method also might be best. Good luck!!

  44. Alldogsarepuppies*

    Back in HS, I was the stage manager for many plays and would have to collect the “Performance Contracts” for all actors/crew signed by the student and their parents in order for them to be allowed on campus after school and to make sure they agree to safety and education requirements. One day I reminded all the students that hadn’t turned them in tomorrow was the deadline and if they weren’t in by rehearsal the next day they wouldn’t be allowed to attend. One actor came to me a lunch with a contract signed by her and her parent STILL WARM from the printer. It was the most obvious forgery – especially when she had an extra day.

    1. TeaCoziesRUs*

      Just out of curiosity, if she had turned in the form but also shown you a text conversation from her parent that went something like this, would it be okay?

      Actor: Dang it, Dad. I forgot to get you to sign this form that covers rules for being in the building after school. Is it okay if I sign it for you? I sent it to your email.

      Dad: Go ahead.

      (Asking as a forgetful parent of school-age kids.)

  45. TootsNYC*

    1. Should I tell my boss I’m in therapy and on medication?

    You can say, “I’m working on it, and I hope you’ll see evidence of that” without going into details.
    You cna share a LOT of stuff without sharing details.
    And as a boss, that’s all I’d want to hear. I don’t -want- the details.

  46. Blinded By the Gaslight*

    LW1 – I’ve been the snapper, and I inherited a sharp wit from my family that has been known to get away from me when I’m feeling punchy/annoyed/self-righteous – which sometimes leads to hilarious, off-the-cuff comments that lets people laugh at a crappy situation, aaaaaaaand sometimes leads to people thinking I’m a real a-hole.

    Your best bet: first, apologize to the people you snapped at if you haven’t already. Ask to have coffee with them (if that’s a thing where you work), and just acknowledge they needed something from you, and you let the stress of the day get the best of you in the moment, and you’re sorry. Reiterate that you’re available for questions/whatever they needed, and you hope they’ll feel comfortable coming to you in the future. You don’t have to grovel, just apologize and then do better.

    Second, when you’re feeling snappish, find a way to give yourself space or a break – even for a few minutes. Pretend you need to make a phone call or respond to an email, or model good break-taking behavior and say, “I’ll be happy to answer that question, I just need to take a quick break,” and then exit the situation for a few minutes. Get some fresh air, walk around the building, get some water, wash your hands – anything to interrupt that emotional push to snap. If you’re having a rough day or week, add “focus” time to your calendar to give yourself solo work time, and be sure to practice good self-care: drink water, eat snacks/meals, take a quick walk, do some light stretching, deep breathing, etc.

    And then you just have to “earn” back everyone’s trust over time by being as consistently friendly, helpful, and non-snappish as you can. Depending on how bad the snaps were, how many times it happened, and your previous social capital, it could just be a matter of weeks or a few months.

    If you’re snapping because people are doing things wrong, and it’s a consistent issue, then see if you can resolve that problem to prevent it happening: Do instructions need to be more clear? Do people need more training? Do people need to know who their resources are? Try to ask yourself: is this person doing the best they can with the info they have? And remember that you’re all there to get a job done as a team – that can help prevent “othering” people who make mistakes or who need help.

    But DON’T tell your boss you’re in therapy or on medication. It might seem like the quickest way to signal “I’m taking this seriously and addressing it” to your boss, but in my unfortunate experience, that kind of information only gets weaponized later–and you may not realize it’s happened until it’s too late.

    Good luck!

  47. Elizabeth West*

    #4 reminds me of when I had an interview with a company that makes a niche product I wouldn’t mind using but can’t afford. It’s also a lifestyle thing rather than just a product. I didn’t get the job even though I expressed my interest in how cool it was, and I think it did have something to do with me not being a part of that lifestyle.

    If a company wants employees to like their product, that’s fine. But if they eliminate anyone who doesn’t own/love/use/worship whatever they make or do, they risk becoming so homogenous that they’ll never have any new ideas or outside perspective. Most companies will have plenty of work employees can do effectively without being kayakers or painters or whatever.

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