update: I hate my boss’s mandatory Zoom happy hours

Remember the letter-writer who hated her boss’s mandatory Zoom happy hours? Here’s the update.

The advice was, in fact, very helpful—thank you.

In the next meeting that was held after my letter was published, with your advice, I just … didn’t attend. I didn’t give an excuse, just declined the RVSP and waited for the fallout. There was no comment made at all, either by my manager in our weekly one-to-one or anyone else. In the next team meeting within work hours, they didn’t seem to acknowledge my presence or lack thereof in the after-work meeting. This seemed to dislodge something else about the situation I hadn’t acknowledged: if one of the others didn’t attend, there would be enquiries as to why and whether everything was okay. For me, they didn’t even seem to notice whether I was or wasn’t there.

I attended the one after that and tapped out after an hour, but once again, no comment was made. I took that as a great signal to go ahead and selectively attend. Now that I realized I was being unnoticed, it really struck a pattern. I can’t lie: being ignored except for being a person to assign tasks to really got me down. There were no chats about how my weekend was or what I was doing or how I was doing as a person; just emails to do XYZ, thanks, and little other acknowledgement from my team. I made attempts to reach out which were politely rebuffed.

After some bolstering, I raised this pattern of lack of acknowledgement with my manager, suggesting that maybe we hold smaller meetings within work hours so I could get to know the team better. He wasn’t interested but did attempt to involve me for the next few times I attended the 2.5 hour meetings. He was promoted from being on its team to being its manager, so I imagine that makes things difficult for him. Unfortunately, that died back down again, even when I raised it a second time. I eventually did grow close to another team—who unfortunately are based in a different country and time zone. (As a quick caveat: I’m not sure if I was being actively ignored, but there was certainly a lack of acknowledgement and interest in me. I understand this isn’t high school and I don’t expect to be friends with anyone else, but some occasional small talk would have been appreciated, or a quiet pointer if I’d somehow caused offense.)

Lockdown ended in my country and I moved cities to be closer to the job. I attended the summer BBQ for the company, held in-person, where I was once again kind of ignored by my team, to the point where they all went off to the pub without inviting me, leaving me behind in an empty office without telling me where they were going. The lack of acknowledgement plus other problems with the company were really starting to frustrate me at this point, so I started to apply for other jobs despite my inexperience—and I got one! At the current job I’m a technical and social media writer; in the next job, I’m a technical author, so something of a role upgrade. It also came with a 7% payrise and a manager who does my role in a senior capacity, which I hope will help. I’ll have been at the first job 18 months when I leave—which according to your own advice is very far from ideal, I know—but I intend to be at this job a lot longer.

Overall things have turned out alright for me—at least right now.

{ 135 comments… read them below }

    1. Hazel*

      Me, too! It’s no fun to be the odd one out in a group, and your manager (and the other people on your team) should have done a better job to include everyone. Congratulations on the new job, and I hope your new company is friendlier!

    1. ThatGirl*

      I’ve been to happy hours that stretched over about 3 hours, but nobody was obligated to be there the entire time! And it was in-person, so people came and went as they needed to. Also, they weren’t monthly.

      1. Covered in Bees*

        Yes. In person with people coming and going, that’s fine. You can still keep a schedule, have individual conversations, etc. Being expected to sit in front of a video call for an unstructured happy hour for more than 45 mounties sounds like torture.

          1. Virginia Plain*

            Co-signing – whenever I’ve interacted with rcmp (on a professional level; I am a U.K. civil servant) they’ve been just delightful!

    2. Good Vibes Steve*

      Right? I have online drinks with my friends occasionally, and I get tired of looking at a screen after an hour – and these are people I LIKE! I can’t imagine doing this for longer with people I barely know and who don’t talk to me.

  1. River Otter*

    Lacking a sense of connection and of being valued both for the work you do and for yourself is a predictor of burn out. You did the right thing leaving this job, and I hope you are more valued in your new position.

  2. Sundance*

    Good for you!

    Fwiw, I don’t know if leaving after 18 months is really a problem. As a young professional, I would be curious to hear (unless this is deemed too off topic) others perspectives, but also it’s your life so enjoy it :-) I thought 1 year was the mark for the beginning of a career.

    1. ecnaseener*

      IIRC, Allison’s usual advice is along the lines of: Two or three years is better for not looking like a short stint on your resume. But one short stint is not going to be a problem, a pattern of them will be a problem. (So LW is fine if she does stay at the new job for a few years, but if she leaves after 18 months then her resume will start to look worrisome.)

      1. Artemesia*

        It sounds like the new job is a promotion too; when your trajectory is clearly up, an 18 month stint is not going to be a big deal. Just plan to stick with the next place for 3 or so years and you are good.

        1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

          Yes, this. As I understand it, the big issue is if there is a *pattern* of short stints.

      2. hamsterpants*

        Does anyone put months on their resume other than a graduation date if they’re applying for a job straight out of school? I always just put calendar years. So then 18 months is indistinguishable from two years.

        e.g. instead of March 2019-Sept 2020, you just put 2019-2020
        You might even get lucky, like if it’s August 2019-Feb 2021 then you simply to 2019-2021 and then it almost looks like three years.

        1. VegasHR*

          As someone who used to work on hiring for my company, I would assume you are hiding something if you don’t put months. That didn’t necessarily preclude me from talking to someone, but like the other commenter says, it feels deceptive.

          1. hamsterpants*

            Wow, good to know. I never put months and I have never had trouble being hired. I had no idea. I never did it to be deceptive, by the way, simply felt like too much information.

            1. Candi*

              For me, putting months will give me something to talk about with the interviewer. I started classes in July! Summer quarter.

        2. Marny*

          If I just saw 2019-2020 without months, I’d assume you were trying to hide that the period was closer to Dec 2019-Jan 2020. I definitely wouldn’t assume it was a 2-year stint.

        3. FormerInternalRecruiter*

          You should include months, it looks like you are trying to hide something otherwise.

          Whenever I phonescreened someone who only had years on their resume, I would ask specifically for the months they started and left. So I could truly tell how long they were there/how much experience they had.

          And I’d only phonescreen them if their resume really stood out.

          1. EngineeringFun*

            As someone who’s has 10 jobs in 20 years. I only put years. I worked as an engineering contractor for the first 6, and started my own company, freelanced, was a professor and got a PHD. It’s all in the story: I am really interested in working on cutting edge research and have found really cool technologies to work on. Some times contracts ends or companies pivot. I’ve learned a lot and ready for the next challenge.

        4. Critical Rolls*

          That example is exactly why this comes across as a shady practice. It’s not only a red flag from a hiring perspective, if you’re in a sector that’s strict about how they calculate minimum requirements, you’ll be required to give them the information anyway and then you’ll be exposed as fudging the numbers.

    2. Sara without an H*

      From the viewpoint of someone who hired and managed people for 35 years: I wouldn’t see leaving after 12-18 months as a red flag for someone who was clearly early in their career. The first 2-3 jobs after university tend to be “training wheels” jobs, anyway.

      1. Wolfie*

        This. LW don’t worry about this in the early years of your career. I have a great young employee just out of university at the moment and feel very lucky we’ve kept her for 18 months. (Unless this is a UK biased view).

      2. Arrghhhhh*

        Also, with COVID, I think views are changing for job movements from 2020 to now. I would expect that to be the case for a while longer or at least until things calm down.

      3. Loredena Frisealach*

        This. I left my first 3 jobs post-college at exactly the 2 year mark! After that my stints were in the 5 to 10 year range pretty consistently. If anything I stayed too long at at least one of those.

      4. Alex*

        I had 4 Jobs in the three years after Uni (this was in the 2009 recession, but still), and am in the 5th now for almost 10 years.. so can confirm :)

      5. Naomi*

        Totally agree. Entry level jobs are normally low paid but people take them for experience. I’m not going to hold it against you if as soon as you’ve gained that experience you leave for something better paid with more responsibility. You also might be working out what you want from your career and it can take a few jobs to establish that.

    3. irene adler*

      It shouldn’t be. Selecting that first job such that it has ALL of the things a job should have, is hard.

      ALL the things a job should have= ample opportunities for enrichment, promotion, productive social interaction, good pay/benefits, long-term business out-look, job tasks turn out to be engaging activities, career support.

    4. WomEngineer*

      As another young professional, I think 18 months is fine as long as it’s just 1 or 2 jobs. More than that starts to look like job hopping. Exceptions are if there are layoffs (which are out of your control but you may have to explain) or internal promotions and title changes. It bound vary by industry, but LinkedIn can help figure out what’s normal.

      I think OP had valid reasons for leaving in this case.

      1. EPLawyer*

        This. The OP is in social media. I imagine that has a lot of shuffling where 18 months might look like a reasonable length of time at a job.

        The stay at least 2 years thing is IN GENERAL. Know your field. if it has a lot of shuffling then shorter stints are okay. And even if longer ones are considered the norm, there are exceptions that you just have to be prepared to explain.

    5. Nanani*

      This varies a LOT by field and location so I don’t think there’s a magic number that anyone could give if they aren’t in exactly LW’s country and line of work.

    6. Egmont Apostrophe*

      Admittedly I come from advertising where people move around a lot– but 18 months is a good long time for me. If you see a better opportunity, you grab it. Now, it helped me that two of my jobs lasted four years, which is a lifetime in advertising, so that demonstrated I wasn’t a screwup getting fired all the time. But people know that you can get tired working on Magic-Kleen Toilet Cleaner for a year or two and seek something out. Also, bosses go around poaching people they’ve worked with all the time. But leaving a little early is better to me than remaining somewhere uninteresting just to hit an arbitrary mark.

    7. Potatoes gonna potate*

      Re: the pattern, has that convention changed with COVID and all the changes coming about (i.e., “the Great resignation”)?

    8. Em*

      I’m a military spouse, and the longest I’ve been at the same organization was 2 years despite leaving college 15 years ago. It does hold you back somewhat. I have had to get very good at selling the links between my different roles and laying out the pattern of progression and experience for employers, in resumes and interviews, because most people won’t see it otherwise. It has worked for me well enough, but it’s challenging.

    9. OhNoYouDidn't*

      I’m in my 50s. Interviewing a newer worker who left their first job would not raise any eyebrows with me at all. But, I also work in social services where turnover can be higher than other industries. But, still, I wouldn’t be particularly bothered by it.

    10. Fiona*

      Honestly I stayed at a company for 23 years and then moved to a new company. I realized that it would have broadened my skills if I had moved more frequently. I worked in tech so always kept up with the latest tech, but just the different ways of working was interesting. I would advise people now to not stay more than 3-5 years in any one organization.

  3. Bookworm*

    I’m sorry you had that experience but am glad to read it seems to have worked out. Hope this is a much better fit and good luck!!

  4. learnedthehardway*

    Sounds like a good decision to leave – congratulations on your new role!

    One or two roles like this won’t hurt you – just don’t make a habit of moving too often.

  5. Falling Diphthong*

    OP, the advice not to job hop is about a pattern, not a one-time better offer. And it’s usually under a year–if you quit the first job 7 months in, then you would want to try hard to stay in the second job oh, let’s say, 18 months. You shouldn’t stay years in a job you don’t enjoy when someone else will pay you more for better work, just because of some idea of how you “must” stay at least 3 years in each job.

    Now, if you discover a few months into every job that it’s not what you want and start searching, resulting in a string of 4-12 month jobs, that resume is going to look like it might be a you thing. But one stay of more than 1 year, less than 2, and the next job a step up? Not even mildly remarkable in most fields.

  6. Xavier Desmond*

    Well done OP. Your previous colleagues sound pretty horrible by the way, I would hate to work somewhere with people like that.

    1. Mister Lady*

      Hear, hear! I can’t even fathom the logic of “you have to attend/participate but we don’t actually want you to be there.” Gross.

    2. Chauncy Gardener*

      Me too! That would totally get my goat AND hurt my feelings, and I’m not exactly a sensitive type

    3. Meep*

      I have mixed feelings. It could be that the old job was cliquey, but… OP didn’t want to be there… which is not that hard to pick up on. It is possible they were giving off a vibe that they were anti-social and disliked their coworkers so people stopped trying.

      They were definitely rude if they were purposefully excluding OP, but I think if it was me I would’ve been happy that I didn’t have to attend these “mandatory” after parties that I didn’t want to attend then look for SOMETHING ELSE to complain about. It comes off as whiny and insecure to say you don’t want to be there and then be mad no one cared that you weren’t.

      1. The Tin Man*

        That’s not really fair to talk about it like OP was looking for something to complain about – they brought up in the initial letter that one of the things they didn’t like about the happy hours was that they were ignored.

        It’s possible to not want to have to go to 2.5 hour happy “hours” every two weeks but also want people to acknowledge your existence as a human being.

      2. Massive Dynamic*

        I think it’s the manager/management team’s fail here. No matter what vibes OP may or may not have been giving off, managers need to make sure that everyone’s invited to the Things. Especially an offsite lunch during work hours.

        1. Your Local Password Resetter*

          And if they were giving off bad juju that drove away the rest of the team, then that’s something the manager should have adressed. Especially after OP explicitly asked for help in that area.

        2. tamarack & fireweed*


          Also, I’m not sure why so many commenters have trouble with that, but I’m surely much less inclined to attend a semi-social meeting at which I am consistently ignored by co-workers than one with people who take a modicum of interest.

          1. allathian*

            Yeah, absolutely. And it was definitely confirmed by the in-person BBQ where the LW was ignored by her team.

            LW, I’m glad you’ve found a new job.

      3. MCMonkeyBean*

        Yeah, obviously OP interacted with these people and we did not so I am certainly not going to say they are wrong–but I will say that it sounds like they had (rightly!) talked about moving or cutting back on the meetings with their boss in the past. So not asking why they didn’t attend doesn’t automatically mean they didn’t even notice! It could just be that they assumed OP skipped out because they simply didn’t want to attend, which is of course what actually happened.

        I guess I’m curious why OP feels so certain that someone else’s missed presence would have been actively commented on in a way theirs wasn’t. Is there something specific to indicate they would really ask everyone else why they weren’t there? That just seems odd to me, but maybe they are an odd group.

        1. Lady H*

          The original linked letter does mention that other people’s absences were commented on and that’s why they felt like these happy hours were pretty much mandatory.

  7. LPUK*

    I’m glad you found another company to move to and hope this works out better. Over my 35 years in business now, I have seen numerous examples of people who didn’t seem to ‘fit’ culture and never gained traction in one company, only to move into other companies where they flourished. No rhyme or reason for it sometimes, but it happened often enough for me to recognise it as A Thing, and to recommend people in your position to do exactly as you’ve done! Hope it goes well for you!

    1. Momma Bear*

      Agreed. I found myself in an awkward place on a small team and am doing much better on a bigger team at a different employer. Even if you don’t have best friends at work, for the entire team to leave you in an empty office is childish and rude. Why would anyone want to work for that clique? I’m glad you’re doing better, OP. I also agree that 18 months is not bad in the grand scheme.

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, absolutely. I don’t need to be BFF with my coworkers, and I’m only human, so naturally I get along with some better than with others. I was bullied by being left out of things in junior high and high school, and I’d never do that to anyone else. I still react fairly strongly to being excluded, but I’m also not going to force my company on people who don’t want to hang out with me, especially not at work. As long as the work gets done, I’m fine.

    1. ecnaseener*

      I didn’t get the sense that LW was trying to stick it to the team or upset that no one was mad, more that noticing no one minded their absence prompted them to notice that even when they DID attend no one talked to them.

      I do think it’s perfectly reasonable to want A) not to have to spend a whole evening talking about work and B) to be included in the small talk when you’re present.

    2. Anononon*

      I think this is really uncharitable to OP, and it really misses a lot of the update. I sincerely doubt that OP not wanting to attend the happy hours is the sole reason why they were continually ignored by their coworkers. OP actively tried to get involved with coworkers. Maybe the culture fit just wasn’t there (and that’s entirely possible), but to place the blame on OP for not wanting to attend a 2.5 hour happy hour (where others sometimes failed to as well) just misses the point.

      1. Roscoe*

        I’m not blaming her for not wanting to attend. Doesn’t sound fun to me either. But when you get the ability to not attend, to then wonder “why isn’t anyone asking why I wasn’t there” just seems a bit much.

        Its like people I know who decline every invitation, then when I stop inviting them, get mad that they aren’t invited.

        She didn’t want to be there, and she didn’t have to go. That’s that. But again, I can often tell when someone doesn’t want to be somewhere or engage, and I have to wonder if OP gave off that vibe to her coworkers.

        1. Lady H*

          You are being very uncharitable to the OP here.

          OP explains that when other people didn’t show up to these meetings they were asked after and it was part of the reason they didn’t feel like they could skip them. Coupling that with the fact that OP was being ignored in the meetings, when their absence wasn’t noted either it was noteworthy to say that in their update since it points to a clear pattern of feeling like they didn’t matter to the team.

          It has absolutely nothing about the OP being hypocritical or needy. It was simply their insight that their team didn’t seem to see them as anyone other than someone to assign work to despite OP’s best efforts to get to know and fit in with this team — attending two and half hour zoom happy hours beyond their work day when they were treated unkindly and ignored is not the sign of someone who deserves the kind of scorn you’re heaping on them.

          OP, your coworkers sound awful. Even if they were doing this unintentionally, you sound thoughtful and kind and deserved more effort from them. I’m so glad you’ll be leaving for a role where it sounds like your talents won’t be unnoticed!

          1. Roscoe*

            I’m not sure where you are sensing scorn. I don’t like think they are a bad person or anything. I even acknowledge that some of the behavior they got from their teammates, especially the in person stuff was rude. But, she made it very clear in her letter that she didn’t want to be there. So my guess is that people picked up on that. I’m not sure what is uncharitable about that.

        2. Anononon*

          Major eyeroll. OP didn’t get “the ability to not attend”. She got a cold-water realization that no one at the job really cared about her either way, unlike their behavior amongst themselves/everyone else.

          1. Roscoe*

            I mean, I can’t really tell if OP cared about her coworkers either way either. Which is kind of important. If she wasn’t doing much to seem engaged in their socialization time, I can totally understand them being put off by it.

    3. Chickaletta*

      This is kinda what I was thinking… Although I can understand wanting to be wanted, even though you don’t want to be there… But I bet the team did get the sense the OP didn’t want to be at their social meetings so I wonder if they felt the tension themselves by that point. Ah, well. I’m glad that OP found a job that’s a better fit overall.

    4. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I have to say I agree with this. I completely get it– the happy hours were not your thing. But they were attended by the rest of the team, so they had value for others, and your boss tried to help you engage. You were fine asking if they could do smaller meetings, there’s nothing wrong with that ask– but it didn’t fit with the rest of the team’s preferences.

      The BBQ thing was definitely rude, but I see this as a situation where the culture just didn’t work for you. And that’s ok, but I can’t blame people for feeling disconnected from someone who can’t meet them where they are.

      What’s tough here is that if you just wanted a work relationship, you got that. But you wanted the personal relationships too, and in that case, this is not the team for you.

    5. Hlao-roo*

      I didn’t read this the same way you did. The letter writer commented on the original post (with username LW*) that part of the reason they didn’t like the happy hours is because everyone else ignored them and they couldn’t participate in most/all of the conversation. So I see it as “upset that people ignored them when they went to the meetings, upset that people ignored them when they skipped the meetings.”

      I do agree with your second paragraph, that sometimes people sense you (general you, not Roscoe specifically) don’t want to be around them and that’s why they don’t reach out. The letter writer could reflect on that a little bit (of course, it’s also possible the team froze the letter writer out because they are all cliquey people–I can’t tell from here).

      1. a tester, not a developer*

        I can see it being difficult to fit in if the rest of the team is of a similar age and does similar work (that is different than what OP does). I noticed it a bit myself in a meeting this morning – the group that first logged in are all of a similar age, with kids in similar life stages. We’ve also all worked together off and on for a number of years. So we talked about “ugh, teenagers” for a while. At least we were all self aware enough to switch to more general topics of conversation once other people logged on.

        1. Just Another Zebra*

          In the original post, OP said she was 15 years younger than the rest of the team, has no kids, and doesn’t drink. That’s a lot of ground to make up for someone who is also brand new to the working world. It’s true that this team was probably a bad fit for OP, but I don’t think there was much she could really do to remedy that, even if she attended every happy hour for the full time.

          1. Hlao-roo*

            I definitely agree that the age, kids, and drinking differences leave a lot of ground to make up and it sounds like the team wasn’t interested in closing that divide at all. I am happy that the OP is in a better job now!

    6. Zephy*

      I didn’t get this read of it at all. My take of the situation was OP didn’t want to go, saw other people being hassled for not going and was worried about having that happen to her, didn’t go and braced for hassling…and then when there was none, she realized she had a whole different problem. I didn’t get the read that OP was mad about it, necessarily, but she’s not wrong to be disappointed that it turned out nobody cared about her. She “got what she wanted” the same way the protagonist making a wish in a fairy tale does – the situation is now as you requested, but not for the reason you were expecting, and that reason brings to light other problems with the situation.

    7. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

      Yeah Iread it the same way. I agree the in person stuff was rude, and the others should have engaged in small talk with OP and should have invited them to the pub. However, perhaps if the OP gave the impression that they were put off by the fact that personnel were drinking during the happy hours maybe they just made an assumption that a pub would not be OP’s scene?

      I mean the first meeting OP sent a decline meeting response. What could have happened is:
      Co-worker 1: Where is OP?
      Boss: OP declined meeting and will not be here.
      Co-worker 1: OK. *goes on to other discussions*

      I also just found it weird that OP made a big thing about not wanting it to be mandatory and then complained that now that it is optional that the others weren’t making a big deal that people were opting not to attend. If it isn’t your thing, then great, don’t go. Sometimes its just a cultural mismatch. But don’t tell people that you don’t want to go and then expect them to ask you to come to something you’ve said you don’t want to be at.

      1. Lady_Lessa*

        The impression that I got was that the OP was trying to take part, but was ignored. Something similar happened to me. The head of customer service invited all of the women in the company to do Christmas lights on a party bus.

        Being the socially clueless type, I took her at her word, but did not know to bring munchies for the trip. I chose not to eat because I consider wrong for me to share when I didn’t contribute. But I noticed that I was probably the only non-customer service woman there and even though I knew them somewhat I was still excluded. That group was one of the more cliquish at the company. (I worked in the lab and had some interaction with them.)

          1. Lady_Lessa*

            You have the bus take you to the best light displays in the area. That part was fun, and I did get to know some of the women better.

        1. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

          When I read the original letter it looked like they didn’t want to participate, which is fine. For the updated letter, they stated that they sent a ‘declined meeting’ response back to the boss, which signals that they did not want to participate. It sounded like when others didn’t participate their work friends asked ‘hey where were you?’ and the OP was expecting people to ask them the same questions. But when they didn’t for whatever reason, (and there could be many, like Fergus knows that Gary loves the happy hour and was surprised when Gary missed it so he would be more likely to ask Gary what’s up, or maybe someone did ask, the boss mentioned OP sent a declined response and people didn’t think it was necessary to go ask OP why they declined because that’s rude) OP seemed to be put out.

          I think we all agree, even Roscoe put in their second paragraph above, that the in-person stuff like the BBQ was rude. However, if you send a decline response to a happy hour and I don’t know you enough to make a joking comment or know about your life outside of work, I’m not going to go ask ‘why aren’t you coming to happy hour’ because I figure you just have other things going on in your life and you don’t have time or want to come. I’m not going to make someone feel uncomfortable with making the choice to not attend an after work happy hour, and I bet some, if not all of OP’s colleagues felt the same way. To me, it just seems a little like OP wanted people to be upset that they were not attending and were offended when they just let OP do what they thought OP wanted.

        1. animaniactoo*

          It’s in the first line of this post. Alison always provides the link to the original letter in the update.

    8. Important Moi*

      I agree with this. I also think some may be objecting to your tone. I don’t have a problem with it.

      To quote someone above me

      “OP didn’t want to go, saw other people being hassled for not going and was worried about having that happen to her, didn’t go and braced for hassling…and then when there was none, she realized she had a whole different problem.”

      I am that person. Once I am aware you don’t want to be around me, I expend little to no energy to acknowledging your presence. Work is a different dynamic, they should have engaged LW at the BBQ.

      1. Roscoe*

        Yep, if I know someone doesn’t want to engage with me, I kind of wash my hands of them at that point. No sense in wasting effort on someone who doesn’t want it.

        1. River Otter*

          That sums up the LW. She tried to engage during happy hour, wasn’t getting a response, and washed the happy hours off her hands.
          That’s when she realized just how little they engaged with her, and she washed the entire job off her hands.

    9. Just Another Zebra*

      So I agree this was a bad fit, but I think this is a bit of a harsh read of the update. Per the original letter, OP is 15 years younger than the rest of the team, has no children when they all do, and doesn’t drink. It’s also her first job out of college. As the new person on the team, her coworkers should have made more of an effort to include her – even just “how was your weekend” can go a long way. I also think there’s a difference between “I don’t want to be here” and “I don’t belong here”.

      And the BBQ thing was beyond rude.

    10. Middle School Teacher*

      I agree. OP made no effort to get to know their team, then complained that no one made the effort to get to know them? You can’t have it both ways.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Excuse me but she did. In the first letter as well as in this update. “I made attempts to reach out which were politely rebuffed.”
        She specifically asked her boss to try to involve her in the conversation, and it lasted only a couple of meetings.

        1. Middle School Teacher*

          They don’t sound very engaged at all. And then got miffed when people stopped engaging with them. This is a natural consequence, I think.

            1. Roscoe*

              I mean, this is all situation dependent. But I started my job remote in March 2020 with a team who already knew each other. I made an effort to speak up in meetings, attend “optional” things (and not reluctantly), and do one on one meetings with my teammates. It is hard, don’t get me wrong. But if I was actively acting like I didn’t want to be at some of the socialization things, I would understand people being a bit chilly toward me.

              1. Just Another Zebra*

                I’m not trying to be snippy when I ask this, but was this also your first job out of college, working with staff 15 years your senior, who all had a significant common interest (children, in this case) that you don’t share, and were getting together doing an activity you don’t partake in (drinking)? Because that’s what OP was working against, in addition to joining the team in a more junior roll.

                I get what you’re saying that if it were obvious she didn’t want to be there, OP could be perceived differently than she intended. But she was also at a disadvantage, IMO.

                1. Roscoe*

                  No, was not my first job out of college. That said, most of my team has kids and I don’t, but there was also not a major age gap.

    11. RagingADHD*

      Yeah, I have to agree. I read LW’s updates in the comments on the original letter, where they said they were playing handheld video games during the calls, and it was obvious because of the screen glare. They also mentioned in the letter that they were annoyed and resentful about the calls. I bet that was very obvious to the team, too.

      I have to wonder if, before their epiphany that they hated feeling left out, LW made any effort at all to engage with their coworkers, ask about their lives, or participate in the conversation without being specifically put on the spot. It wasn’t a natural fit socially, but when you make it so glaringly apparent that you have zero interest in conversing with people, they will follow your lead and skip over you.

      I don’t know if the team ever made an effort to connect, but if you establish yourself as being disinterested and surly, even those who are trying won’t keep trying to engage you forever. The LW mentioned in this letter that they made some attempts to reach out, but only after what sounds like a relatively extended period of open disdain for the team chats.

      There’s such a thing as too little, too late.

      1. Loulou*

        Wow, that detail about the video games is sort of mind blowing. Maybe it’s a chicken-or-the-egg thing, but yeah, I wouldn’t make a special effort to engage someone who played videogames instead of participating in the conversation. At best, I would assume it’s not their thing and leave them alone.

        And you might be right that the resentment translated to coworkers. I was struck that OP wasn’t just uninterested in happy hour (which I would be too) but openly resentful that they were happening at all. It’s sometimes important to distinguish between an inherently unfair situation (like starting a new job remotely during a pandemic and having a hard time connecting with coworkers) and an unfair situation *that’s someone’s fault.*

    12. AngelicGamer, the Visually Impaired Peep*

      My mind is blown that you would not even ask someone how their weekend was if they decided that some work socialization things weren’t for them. The co-workers were not even doing the basic social norms, that Alison does talk about, and the BBQ thing was over the top.

      I’m glad the OP moved on.

    13. Kella*

      OP doesn’t say anywhere in the update that they *wanted* people to be upset that they weren’t there but that they noticed that a. there was no negative or positive reaction to their not attending and b. there *was* a reaction to other team members not attending. Those are pieces of information, not value judgments.

      Noticing these pieces of information allowed OP to notice a larger pattern, of which the happy-hour issue was only one piece. OP also said this: “There were no chats about how my weekend was or what I was doing or how I was doing as a person; just emails to do XYZ, thanks, and little other acknowledgement from my team. I made attempts to reach out which were politely rebuffed.” The larger pattern is what upset OP.

      There is a big difference between expecting people to be upset when you don’t show to an event you didn’t want to go to, and expecting people to offer you the same baseline of social politeness that they offer everyone else on the team. And if the coworkers were not offering this social politeness specifically because OP stopped attending the happy hours, or because OP didn’t enjoy the happy hours when they did attend them, that’s a problem with the coworkers. Not attending a specific social gathering is not a good enough reason to ignore and rebuff a coworker at work.

    14. Batgirl*

      It’s highly likely that people who up and went the pub without her are just insufferably cliquey. That’s just not done.

    15. Dawn*

      That was my initial read as well, but then I went back and read the original letter. The OP’s complaint wasn’t simply that “there are really long Zoom happy hours that I’m expected to attend outside work hours” but “there are really long Zoom happy hours that I’m expected to attend outside work hours and no one is making much effort to include/speak to me.” That would have worn my last nerve as well: You insist I attend and then ignore me for 2-1/2 hours?? The initial letter also mentioned that the OP was being called out when they didn’t attend, so that seems to have changed by the time they tried that approach again after Alison’s advice.

      Given that, I understand the OP’s frustration. They were younger, at a different life stage, and in a slightly different role than their colleagues. The power differential here really puts the ball in those colleagues’ court to make sure that the OP was included. As a young professional, it can feel incredibly awkward to direct conversation away from older colleagues’ topics of interest and toward something where the OP can participate but that might inadvertently mark the OP as young and out-of-touch. (“Oh you write stories, OP? That must be nice to have that kind of time. With remote school, all I have time for is my kids. But I remember those days.”)

      The colleagues leaving for a pub and not even thinking to invite the OP when the whole team was going was what pushed it over the edge for me. Even if they actively disliked the OP, this was rude. Could the OP have made more effort to participate in socializing with these older, more experienced colleagues? Possibly. But the burden of wrongdoing very much rests with them.

      1. Meep*

        OP mentioned they were playing console games during these meetings, FYI. It sounds like neither party made much of an effort.

        1. Lady H*

          I think this detail is kind of a weird one that people are fixated on that assumes we’d all be able to stay engaged for hours at a time every week while being ignored. Doing it from the jump? Rude. But if I was attending weekly 2.5 hour happy hours and kept trying to find a common topic with people who were ignoring, you better believe I would give up and play Threes or Wordle or something on my phone after awhile!

          The letter writer mentions a list of ways they tried to engage in and out of these meetings that were ignored. As far as they could tell, their presence was expected/mandatory but they couldn’t find a way to be included in them. It’s different from an in person happy hour that you can try to find common ground with at least *one* person, but you can’t have side conversations on a group Zoom.

          I admit I have ADHD and social anxiety but I can’t believe anyone in these circumstances would be able to appear engaged for over two hours in these circumstances! Console games clearly weren’t subtle enough (versus drawing/knitting/quiet games like the ones I mentioned above) but it sounds like the OP is pretty new to the working world and I don’t fault them for giving this a try to get through these very boring happy hours with rude people.

        2. Loredena Frisealach*

          Honestly I’ve been known to play match 3 games on my tablet while talking to my family! I’m ADHD, it keeps me more engaged to have something occupying my hands.

          And on a 2.5 hour call where no one is talking to me even when I try to chime in? I’d definitely zone out.

  8. Artemesia*

    when you are unhappy, can’t fix it with reasonable effort then it is smart to realize it isn’t going to change and to job search. Sounds like you did great.

  9. Sara without an H*

    Hi, OP — I think you handled this very well. The organization obviously wasn’t a good fit for you, so why hang around to get the last drop of agony?

    Congratulations, and good luck in your new position.

  10. Jack Be Nimble*

    Sounds like your last job wasn’t a good culture fit! I think your former coworkers probably assumed that you didn’t like to socialize at work at all based on the pattern with the zoom happy hours — skipping social events (or attending and being miserable) can sometimes be taken as a signal that you’re just not interested in making friends at work.

    I hope your new job goes better and you and your coworkers can build a better rapport and have more meaningful relationships :)

    1. Nanani*

      Given that LW did try to make friends with them, just not at the happy hours where they were all talking about things LW can’t relate to, I don’t think the signal is the problem.
      LW was being frozen out – maybe not conciously but that’s what happened.

  11. Admin to the stars*

    Agree 100%. I understand that she is against after hours work hang-outs, but most people are not interested in hang-outs while at work. We all have work to do. I would be pretty annoyed if a new coworker wanted to just hang out with me on Zoom during the workday so they can have a chance to get to know me.

    1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      Agreed. If they’re during work hours, expectations about workload/deliverables have to take that time into account, particularly if they’re mandatory.

      Have had this problem with meetings. It’s a vicious cycle where people are super busy, so they’re working on other things during the meeting (including management) and not giving full attention, which makes the meeting much less productive and annoys people, and leaves us less time to do work/get what we needed during the meeting.

    2. Loulou*

      Social time during work is so tough. When you’re working remotely those opportunities just don’t come up organically the way they do when you actually see each other every day, and I can imagine it being really isolating. I also don’t really know what the solution is. I feel for OP on this one!

  12. bluephone*

    You said 18 months and not *8* months, right? That sounds like a perfectly reasonable tenure in this day and age.

    Congrats and good luck!

  13. autumnal*

    Congrats on your new job and the promotion! Sounds like a good move for you. As a person who went from shy and quiet in my early roles to being the org leader who was the out-front point person, I’d offer this experience/advice. People love to talk about themselves and their lives. Ask questions and *listen* to the answers. Nothing invasive, just friendly. I’m not the best at names but I’m good at faces and link those with the answer they gave. When I ran volunteer programs, I didn’t see all of them regularly but when I did, I could ask how that kid who had just went into college a few months back was doing. Or the new baby, vacation, hobby, work project…whatever we’d talked about before.

    Put yourself out there a bit at a time and most people will reciprocate. Some people will stay at that basic level of interaction while you may find others you have more in common with. As you know personally, people like being acknowledged so be that person too. Good luck in your new position!

  14. Cold Fish*

    I don’t know if I’d agree that this was a “cultural” mis-match. I think the former coworkers showed their true colors at the bbq and are just cliquey jerks who ignored OP. It is hard to get to know others (especially thru Zoom) when the others are actively not engaging with you. And I wouldn’t put that down as the work culture, as the culture seemed to be very lets-be-friends heavy based on the 2.5 hour long happy hour/lets all go to the pub attitude of the former coworkers. Claiming it was just a culture mis-match does a disservice to the OP as it trivializes their experience. It hurts to be ignored and excluded. Good luck OP on the new job and fingers crossed your new coworkers are nicer people.

    1. Nanani*

      Agree with this read, especially given the background in the original letter where LW points out they are significantly younger and the only one wihtout kids and a non-drinker and so on

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        And the only one with her role in the group.
        There’s a reason the Society for technical communication runs a focus group for lone technical writers– it can be lonely.

    2. Lusara*

      Yes it’s a cultural mismatch – the coworkers are jerks and she’s not, so she doesn’t fit in with the culture.

  15. Jen*

    I’m a technical writer and very involved in my product, my product managers are nice and I’ve known them for years… and I would still feel awkward in a happy hour when they only talked product management stuff. Congratulations on the new job! For me, reporting to a documentation person was great when I was early in my career, so I hope it is just as good for you!

  16. Loulou*

    I found it interesting that the first letter said OP got “pointed comments” about why they didn’t attend, but this time around, nobody commented on their absence…which they also cast in a negative light. It’s left me wondering what response OP wanted! Like I might say “hey, we missed you last night!” and mean it sincerely, but that’s exactly what someone who is miffed about the happy hours could interpret as a “pointed comment.” And if I sensed they didn’t appreciate the comment, then next time I probably wouldn’t say anything.

    1. Nanani*

      LW mentions they tried to make friendly overtures outside the happy hours. It sounds to me like they wanted to be friends! Just not by means of 2.5 hours of chatter about things LW can’t participate in (the original letter mentions they are the only childless non-drinker, at drinking events where everyone else talks about their children)

      Getting rebuffed for trying to be friends outside that very narrow mold is not LWs fault.

      1. Loulou*

        Did I miss the friendly overtures detail? I see OP saying they asked *their boss* about holding smaller social events during work hours, but I didn’t catch anything about trying to engage their *coworkers.* Very possible I missed a line in two pretty long letters.

        1. Kella*

          OP said this: “There were no chats about how my weekend was or what I was doing or how I was doing as a person; just emails to do XYZ, thanks, and little other acknowledgement from my team. I made attempts to reach out which were politely rebuffed.”

      2. EventPlannerGal*

        I think that once you get to that “Y is annoying me, I wish that X would happen!” [X happens] “X is also annoying me!” stage, that points to a larger issue/dissatisfaction beyond that one thing. I’ve been there! I think it’s definitely for the best that OP found their new role.

    2. Lady H*

      As far as I am reading it, they noticed the pointed comments for *other people* who didn’t attend and assumed they would also get those pointed comments and didn’t feel like they could skip the happy hours. When they realized that not only did no one return their efforts to engage with them but their absence wasn’t noted by the team in the way other team member’s absences were, they felt (and I agree) that this confirmed they really weren’t seen as part of the team.

      I don’t think it has anything to do with irrational complaining, more that they realized the issue was not really about the happy hours — it was another sign their team didn’t value them.

  17. EJane*

    OP, that sounds like an incredibly disheartening experience, and I’m super excited for you that you’re going to be somewhere that has more promise!

    Regarding the short stay, don’t give my opinion more weight than Alison’s, but your first job post-graduation lasting 18 months isn’t too terrible. I worked at a small tech company immediately after graduation for a year, and then got laid off and was stuck doing a bunch of temp postings for 6 months at a time for the next several years. As long as you have an honest and insightful response for why you left–which you do! It was a poor fit culture-wise and you determined that you prosper in an environment where you’re able to engage authentically with your coworkers–you’ll be golden.

  18. Ellena*

    I just want to leave that here – 18 months is not a short tenure at all! Especially now that the stigma towards the so-calle “job-hoppers” is shifting in favor of employee well-being and even more so in light of the Great Resignation. You did good by leaving an environment where you didn’t feel well and especially for a job that is a step up! Having done that earlier rather than later only speaks positively of you. All the best of luck!!!

  19. Pikachu*

    I don’t think any of this is on OP. You can’t socialize with coworkers on zoom the way you can in person. There are no organic conversations. There’s no way to flit from group to group chatting and mingling. It can be impossible to get a word in without directly speaking over people if you aren’t specifically invited to speak.

    As a junior employee and someone newer to the organization, it’s on the established team/meeting organizer to be more inclusive on digital meetings and make sure people get time to be a part of the group. It is not on OP to butt her way in and try to make room for herself.

  20. Alternative Person*

    I’ve been there with past jobs where I spent a long time trying to make small talk/light conversation with my co-workers and after a while, it became apparent that they either didn’t want to talk at all (at a particularly toxic place) or they wouldn’t return the communication to me, but would with everyone else. I particularly remember the feeling at the second place something was off but didn’t really put it together until I had a week where I was particularly down and didn’t talk more than out of polite necessity, I was just so wiped out that week (not my finest hour, I know). When I came out of my little bubble of misery a week later, I realized no-one had said anything conversational to me that entire week. It really coloured the rest of my interactions and time there.

    In a turn that amuses me looking back, my then manager told me off for not talking to the others, but when I told him I had, and I had tried and they weren’t reciprocating his reply implied I was the problem for not, you know continuously throwing my emotional labour into the void. (long story short, I fundamentally disagreed with my two peers about how to go about the job and they were into middle school bad-mouthing to our juniour colleagues, I was not.)

  21. Thegreatprevaricator*

    I’m sorry, they went to the pub after a work bbq and left the letter writer in an office by herself. That’s where I would have been DONE. So rude, and particularly to someone who is at an early stage in their career. Glad to hear the other job has worked out. 18 months is a totally reasonable tenure particularly at a stage on your career when you’re building experience.

Comments are closed.