we have to assess our spiritual strengths, a nail-clipping coworker, and more

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

1. My company asked us to take a religiously-themed strengths assessment

My work asked us to take a strengths assessment ahead of a retreat. The test asks you to rate statements on how much they describe you. When I took it, a lot of the statements jumped out at me as religious/Christian or using religiously-coded language. Some examples:
• “I am a spiritual person.”
• “I have been richly blessed in my life.”
• “My faith makes me who I am.”
• “I do not give into temptation.”

After taking the test, it tells you how you scored on 24 strengths. This is another area where a lot of the language seems religious or religiously-coded. The strengths are sorted into six categories: Wisdom, Courage, Humanity, Justice, Temperance, and Transcendence. One of the possible strengths is “spirituality,” and part of the description for that strength includes: “Become aware of your strength: Understand what spirituality is all about so you can begin recognizing it in yourself and others.”

I was born and raised Catholic, and am now an atheist. I can recognize that this upbringing left me sensitive to feeling like I’m having religion pushed on me again. Right now, I’m definitely feeling a little upset that my work asked me to fill out a religious character assessment test and I’m not thrilled about the throwback to my very religious childhood, which used almost all of the same language. I’m also now dreading the possibility of discussing results with coworkers turning into a discussion on the value of religion. Is this a valid thing to be upset about, or do I need a reality check? If I’m overthinking it, please tell me so!

Yes, this is a valid thing to be upset about! Your workplace has no business asking you to assess your “spiritual strength” or expecting you to discuss it in any way. You’d be on solid ground if you want to point out that some of the test is inappropriate — to your boss, HR, or whoever is running the retreat, depending on your sense of who will be the most responsive. And if it comes up at the retreat, you should feel free to say, “Some of the assessment felt religious in nature to me and not appropriate for a work discussion.”

In doing that, you should factor in how much capital you have, how much capital that particular statement will expend in your particular workplace, and how much you care to fight it. But you’re certainly not overreacting if you choose to take it on.

2. Nail-clipping coworker

I’ve never caught him in the act, but I know my coworker is clipping his nails at work. I hear the distinct *clip clip clip* of nail clippers coming from the neighboring cube daily. The coworker in question is older than me and I’ve worked next to him for about eight months now. Before that he was at another end of the office, which was pretty much empty except for him. He is quite the lone wolf and I’ve never actually talked to him (we work in completely different business sectors within the larger company) so I would feel like quite the creep peering into his cube to try to confirm my suspicions. For context, I work in a small office (~40 people) and since the pandemic, there are about 10 of us who come in to work regularly. It’s just me and him in this area of the office so I can’t really ask anyone else if they are hearing the clips too. Maybe I’m just paranoid, maybe it’s the sound of something else? What are your thoughts on clipping your nails at work?

Well, there’s what people should and shouldn’t do at work … and then there’s what you can do when someone doesn’t follow those rules, and the two aren’t always the same thing.

People shouldn’t do a full nail-clipping at work! Snipping one bothersome nail isn’t a big deal, but deciding to clip all 10 nails is a personal grooming project for home, and a lot of people are grossed out both by the sound and the act.

But lots of people do rude or inconsiderate things at work that they shouldn’t do. If you want to speak up, though, there’s no reason you couldn’t lean around his cubicle and say, “I’ve been hearing that noise a lot and it’s driving me crazy. Would you mind doing that in the bathroom?”

Here’s a gross related link, just because:

someone is leaving their fingernail clippings in my desk

3. Should I stop saving time slots for clients who regularly cancel?

I own a personal chef business and have clients I cook for on a weekly basis. Well, ideally at least.

I have three clients that I save a weekly time slot for, whether or not they actually use it. One client almost never cancels or reschedules (only once over the holidays). My other two clients often skip two weeks or even three weeks in a month. Sometimes I don’t know they want to cancel until the week before, which is not enough time for another client to fill their slot. I generally don’t charge for cancellations unless they cancel with less than two hours notice.

I know my clients enjoy knowing they have a saved slot every week, but the loss of income is sometimes too much to absorb month-to-month.

I’m thinking of no longer saving time slots for repeat offenders so I don’t lose business (I’m afraid new clients see a sparse schedule on my website and decide not to do business with me). Should I take away their guaranteed saved slot on my schedule every week, or should I keep going like this and just be grateful I have someone to potentially fill the slot? I don’t want to come off as rude or controlling to my current clients.

It’s not rude or controlling to stop holding slots to people who aren’t paying for them!

You have a bunch of different ways you could handle it: You could charge a fee for holding slots (presumably lower than what they’d pay if they used it, but more than the zero they’re paying for that slot now). You could require clients who want weekly slots held to pay for three out of four slots every month, whether they use them or not. You could require people to confirm their reserved slots X days ahead of time, with the understanding that you’ll open those slots up to others if they don’t. You could do away with holding slots altogether (but could choose make exceptions for clients you know to be reliable). Whatever you decide, any reasonable client will understand that you can no longer reserve your time for them if they’re going to regularly not use or pay for it.

Read an update to this letter

4. Someone left a nasty Glassdoor review using my title

I recently left a job after six years there. At the time I left, my title was director of operations. I left on very good terms. It’s a small company and I don’t believe there has been anyone else at the company with my same title, at least not in the last six years.

Now, someone has posted a nasty review of the company on Glassdoor, and filled in their job title as the former director of operations. I did not post the review and am mortified to think that my former bosses/coworkers will think it was me! What should I do? Please help!

Contact your boss and let her know — “I saw a review on Glassdoor from someone using my old title and I want to make sure you know it wasn’t me! I would never post something like that and disagree with the feedback entirely.” (Or whatever is true.) And if you could honestly leave a positive review yourself, you could also post your own and note that you’re the only who’s held that title in years.

Read an update to this letter.

5. Firms that use job listings to pitch their services

A colleague of mine recently asked for advice on a cover letter they’d put together for a specific type of job I am familiar with hiring for/managing. When I expressed surprise they were interested (they own a small consulting firm), they said they weren’t applying, but pitching their services for some of the job’s essential responsibilities, and wanted a second opinion on the language. I gave them the advice but was kind of taken aback by the approach.

Is this a thing people do now — more importantly, is it a thing business owners/hiring managers respond to? I know it would certainly have turned me off if I’d received it, but I am admittedly not in the target market for their services.

Almost every time I’ve hired for a job, I’ve received pitches like this from firms wanting to cover the work as a vendor in place of an employee. So it’s definitely a thing people try, although I can’t tell you with how much success. It’s always felt like a pretty out-of-touch approach to me (if we wanted to outsource the work to a vendor, we’d be doing that; we want an employee for a reason), but I can imagine a situation where someone might consider it if they were having trouble finding candidates who could do what they needed.

{ 566 comments… read them below }

  1. elena*

    Pretty much everywhere I’ve worked that held reservations that were non-replaceable (i.e. you can’t just fill the time with walk-in customers) charged a cancellation fee or had some kind of deposit

    1. freddy*

      I pay my personal trainer a fixed fee for 4 sessions per month. We generally have them on the same day/time, but if I have to cancel or reschedule, it’s my responsibility to work with him to find a makeup time or just eat the cost. I wonder if such a model could work for this personal chef?

      1. Willis*

        This sounds like a good model for the OP. If clients realize they aren’t going to use the service that much and don’t want to pay for unused slots, they could drop down to fewer times a month and OP could offer timeslots to other people. The current approach heavily disadvantages the OP.

      2. Librarian of SHIELD*

        I was going to recommend something similar. My fitness center membership includes 8 credits to use on classes each month. I pay for those 8 classes whether I use them all or not, and if I book a class and cancel with less than 12 hours notice, I lose that credit.

        OP, would you be interested in creating a subscription model for people who want to hire you on a regular basis? The monthly membership fee could include a certain number of meals, and you could come up with a cancellation policy that addresses the problems you’re having.

        1. Anon for this*

          This is how everywhere I worked handled swim lessons too. You sign up for a session, if you miss class, that is on you, no refunds. (Within reason. If you have some sort of extenuating circumstance like your kid breaks an arm or you need surgery or you’re suddenly moving across the country you can usually get a refund if you ask nicely.)

          Some places will allow you to schedule a makeup class, or they have a makeup day built into the calendar, but that’s it.

    2. Bagpuss*

      Yes, a non-refundable deposit is very common, (and often easier than charging a fee fter the event for no-shows)

      Or, if you don’t want to do that, have a requirement that they must confirm the reserved slot no later than X days in advance – if confirmed, it must be paid for, if not confirmed, if will be released for booking.
      As a personal chef it would be reasonable both to require confirmation a reasonable time in advance so you have a realistic prospect of filing the spot if it is no longer needed, and n terms of deposit / charges, taking into account not only your own time if they cancel at the last minute but also the point at which you buy ingredients as presumably those are then wasted if they don’t go ahead?

      Also, if you do take a deposit (or cc details to allow you to take on) then there is nothing stopping you from waiving that charge on a discretionary basis, for instance for a long standing, normally reliable client who has a brain fart or a family emergency, for example.

      I don’t know whether it’s the case in the US but here in the UK it’s increasingly common for restaurants to require a credit card on booking and to expressly state that a charge will be made if you don’t show up or cancel with less than 24 hours notice.
      I think the last two places I booked the charge was £25 per head

      1. pancakes*

        Yes, some restaurants here in the US do that too. In my experience it’s mostly restaurants that use certain apps for booking. I believe it’s standard with Tock, for example.

        1. Kay*

          I was just going to suggest this approach! I see it a lot with higher end restaurants in CA – there is a fee charged upon booking (I want to say $50 was common), and it will be applied to your bill if you keep your reservation. If you didn’t cancel within a certain time – and it wasn’t last minute, more like 48 hours to a week! – you didn’t receive a refund.

          I thought the week was a little much (obviously not enough to keep me from booking), but the 48 hours I was fine with. If you have people who can afford a personal chef – they can handle the fee. If they balk – they are likely a client you don’t want anyway! With notice people can opt out if they don’t like it, and if they are canceling/not even responding most of the time anyway I don’t see you have much to lose.

      2. T-rex*

        I work at a restaurant and we started doing this with large parties- we require your credit card information at booking and if you cancel within 72 hours of your reservation or if you no-show, you are charged $100. It’s helped tremendously; while previously large groups were consistently no-showing, it hasn’t happened once since we began this policy about 6 months ago. We still get cancellations, but all of them are well ahead of time, giving us the opportunity to re-book the spot.

      3. Snuck*

        This has become somewhat common in Western Australia where there’s high demand for tables and limitations on head counts in restaurants. If you book and no show they can’t always give your table to someone else (in the nicer restaurants) as going out is now a planned activity due to the high demand on booked tables. So if you book now they often take a cc and then will charge a cancellation no show fee if you don’t show, which is only fair as they haven’t been able to fill that *much sought after* table that evening. (WA now also has a vaccine mandate for eating in cafes/restaurants, so if you show without your vaccine certificate it’s considered a no show/cancel as the rules are loudly proclaimed. I’ve watched this play out in a restaurant recently that books literally six months ahead in normal times, and someone tried to skate through on incomplete vaccine status and did NOT like being told they couldn’t be seated. This restaurant is $200/head a night, set menu, so that was a $400 loss the restaurant had to eat because the customer tried to ignore the rules.)

    3. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Whatever approach OP3 uses, I think they need to spend a week or two checking what other private chefs do, thinking through the logistics of those scheduling systems, and then send clients notice that the scheduling will change on X date at least a month (maybe up to two) in advance. This will help keep the clients happy…well, or at least less upset by the change, if 1) the new scheduling rules are not that far out of line with what others in the industry do, and 2) the clients have plenty of time to understand and adjust to the change.

      1. Joielle*

        Agreed. And when the OP lets the clients know, they shouldn’t be overly apologetic in the message. It’s not something awful that the OP is doing to the clients, it’s just bringing their business practices in line with industry standard. If you frame the message to be pretty matter of fact, I think that will help the clients be less unhappy.

    4. AnonInCanada*


      I know of many restaurants that will insist on a credit card while booking reservations on busy days (i.e. Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day) and will charge a deposit of a non-nominal amount, say $50. If you show up for your reservation, the amount of the deposit will be applied to your check. If you call and cancel within say 48 hours, your deposit will be refunded. If you no-show or don’t cancel on time, say goodbye to those $50. I think that would be the way to go for LW#3.

    5. Joielle*

      Same, or at LEAST the deadline for cancelling was way earlier than two hours before the service. Hell, if I don’t cancel a class I booked at my dance studio at least 24 hours in advance, I pay the whole cost – and that’s a service where they often can fill the slot at the last minute. But I’m fine with it because that’s what I agreed to when I made the booking!

    6. Clorinda*

      A friend of mine makes her living teaching after-school music lessons to kids. Each parent pays for the month in advance. The fee is the same regardless of how many Tuesdays (or whatever) there are in the month, so sometimes you get four lessons, sometimes five; if you cancel FOR ANY REASON, no refund. If my friend takes a day off because she’s sick, she rolls 1/4 of that month’s fee into the next month. When she takes a planned vacation, the monthly fee is -25% or -50% depending if she’s gone for one or two weeks.
      She says this policy is the only thing that makes her career possible.

      1. Clorinda*

        Adding: Also, she’s a really good teacher and usually has a wait list, so if parents fuss about the policy, they are welcome to take little Jeremy to somebody else for his saxophone lessons.

      2. Felicia*

        A good friend of mine does the same thing with her music students. You pay for the lessons in advance, and if you need to reschedule, she’s usually flexible, but if she can’t find a time to do a make-up lesson, then the student just has one fewer lesson that month.

        She did the same thing when she was walking dogs (professional musicians often can’t make a living without a second or third job). Clients paid for the week in advance, and if your dog didn’t need a walk one day, no refund. Otherwise, you can’t count on a certain income or plan your budget.

  2. Lowercase*

    Follow up question RE: political capital. Why does it seem like I’m using up political capital for things that I’m entitled to, as either an employee or a human? If I’m requesting a day off, I’m entitled to that day because it’s part of my compensation. This writer is entitled to an environment where they aren’t interrogated about “spirituality”. Yet, as Alison said, most people need to spend capital to deal with these issues.
    On the other hand, when my boss asks me to do something that is definitely part of my job, I don’t feel like I’m doing a favor or collecting invisible Capital Points by accepting.

    1. Mf*

      Agree, this totally infuriates me. I should not have to use political capital to ensure I’m not proselytized to at work. That’s supposed to be my right under the law, not a favor my employer does for me.

    2. Artemesia*

      yeah — that is the way it should be, but it isn’t the way it is. Picking your battles is a thing if you want to succeed.

      1. Rolly*

        And also, people who have the political capital should spend it in pushing for change that benefits others who don’t.

        If I was in OP1’s place, I’d have just stopped answering questions at a certain point, and alerted whoever asked me to do the test that it was problematic. It’s very important for people who can afford to speak up to actually speak up.

        I have done this many times – I just took myself out of a group exercise at work (led by a third party, but with my boss present) by simply saying “I’m not doing that – should I stick around for later parts of the session?” Twice – the event runs over multiple days. I’m hopeful they’ll dial this thing back in the future. Hope I don’t lose my job LOL. Worth it to live like this.

        1. Rolly*

          Oh, remembering I once answered some BS test at work with just picking the first option in each question, then wrote to the administrator and told them I’d done that since the test was required but I did not want to answer. I wrote politely, as if giving them a heads up in case they were averaging results or something, so as not to mess up those analytics. LOL.

        2. catsamillion*

          “Hope I don’t lose my job LOL. Worth it to live like this” is also how I exist, and I would never change it. Thank you for putting it so succinctly.

        3. tessa*

          “…people who have the political capital should spend it in pushing for change that benefits others who don’t.”

          Rolly, you are my friend.


      2. Sloan Kittering*

        Yeah, this seems universally true whether in relationships or business. If you’re asking for any change to the status quo (or something already in motion) you have to weigh the factors involved. Doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it, of course.

    3. Adam*

      I mean, it’s just describing reality. If you ask for things or for changes to be made all the time, people will find you annoying, even if what you’re asking is something you’re entitled to. “Political capital” is just a metaphor for having other people think well of you.

      I think you’re wrong about not building up political capital by doing your job, though. There’s definitely a thing about picking your battles, and quietly accepting job duties without complaining about them gets you seen as a reasonable person, which is then helpful if you want to ask for something later.

      1. UKDancer*

        This so much. I’d call it knowing when to pick your fights and which ones are worth having. I had great difficulty getting one of my team to understand that and also to accept that their capital was not infinite so it was better sometimes saving it for the big battles.

        If you’re reasonable and don’t make waves 90% of the time, you’re more likely to be taken seriously when you do make an issue of something.

      2. Coffee Anonymous*

        Agreed, Adam. One example: I work with clients and colleagues throughout the US. I’m on Eastern time, and several of my clients are on Pacific. If I make myself available through the end of their workday most of the time (which is just doing my job — I’m salaried and this is not a 9 to 5 job), I build up enough capital so no one bats an eye on those occasions when I knock off at 2 or 3 Pacific because I have an evening appointment.

      3. Forrest*

        I think the flipside here is that you feel you’re constantly having to expend political capital fighting to get things which you are fully entitled to or which seem to you like totally normal expectations for an office, it’s probably that your employer is awful and you need a different job.

        1. Forrest*

          *for a job rather than for an office– I originally had examples like particular office equipment.

        2. Smithy*


          The point of asking to use PTO is a case where just showing up and doing your job should mean that the line between asking for days off and telling your boss the days you’ll take off gets thinner and thinner. If you need a week of PTO one month into a job, that’s very often a different request than six months into a job and even less so after a year. All jobs may have different busy periods or coverage needs where you might not get every single day off you want, but showing up and doing your job day after day should eventually have someone feel more like they’re announcing PTO vs asking for it.

          If you work somewhere for a few years and every request for PTO is a battle – that is a legit reason to look for work elsewhere. If you’re regularly on hiring panels for your team and feel like your concerns or praises of candidates are never heard without a fight – legit reason to look for work elsewhere. If this week it’s a religious survey, next week it’s nail clipping, etc etc – again, legit reason.

          The concept of spending capital is certainly a bit more “the way the world works” vs pushing for systematic change about the way it should be. AAM has so many letters over the years about individual staff members trying to change larger employer culture, and it’s ultimately a huge individual investment that may not see payoff. And for at least myself, the encouragement to leave if its too much vs trying to make change is because I find that energy better spent on other activities to see change for good in my life and the world.

      4. Rebecca*

        Adam, I have had way different experiences being the person who quietly accepts job duties! In a great workplace, this is true, but I have been burnt.

        I have found that being the person who doesn’t complain about job duties just gets me more job duties, because my manager doesn’t want the fight or pushback from others. It always looks like a perk, because she just ‘trusts me so much’, but in reality it’s not more responsibility or promotion track, it’s just more work.

        The other problem with it is that the people who often say no or pushback, that becomes normal and people don’t bat an eye. You’d think that if I say yes and quietly do my job 95% of the time, then the one time I say no or have a problem, it would be seen as an outlier and therefore maybe important, but no, usually it just means that I’ve disrupted the status quo and people are surprised and it becomes a whole thing.

        So no, unfortunately, just doing your job well doesn’t always result in better ‘capital’. I learned the hard way that I had to say no to requests strategically at the beginning of a job to not set the precedent that “Rebecca’ll do it, she always does.”

        1. Gone Girl*

          Yeah this was definitely me at one of my first jobs. I was an incurable people pleaser, but the one or two times I was compelled to push back it was seen as “rocking the boat” or causing “discord” because I was normally so compliant. (Rather than taking it as “Oh wow, Gone Girl never pushes back, this must be really important to them”)

          1. Batgirl*

            Some first jobs are graduate/young employee groomers though. They deliberately hire the inexperienced so they can act like no one in employment gets to push back on anything, ever, not even legal issues.

          2. Not Sure*

            This has been my experience too. I’m normally a people-pleaser, do exactly as asked, work all hours, etc etc. And then the one or two times I’ve pushed back on something, I was basically bulldozed. I thought I’d built up capital from being reliable/always willing to pitch in/never complaining/etc… but it seemed like it didn’t work that way.

        2. Meowquis*

          In my opinion it *can* get you political capital by just doing your job well…. but you can’t just do it quietly. Like you mention Rebecca, doing it quietly leads people to just seeing you as a dumping ground for work.

          Over time I’ve had to switch from just doing my job well and quietly (I enjoy being sat in a corner doing my data thing!) to doing my job well while making people aware that it’s perhaps, a favour. “I can do it, but I need to shuffle some things around since I’m swamped in meetings”. “This is a lot of work – I can’t do all of that within your timeframe, but I could perhaps pull x y and z for you so you still have enough to build your slide deck.”

          It’s work I enjoy, and many times I could just say yes and do it…. but unfortunately it needs to be made into a bit of a show of people being aware you’re putting in the effort to do it for them as a favour/something extra. It’s the same workload – or sometimes even less – but it increased the amount of people who went “oh I owe you a beer for this!!” or “with great thanks to [my name] for managing to pull this together in such a short timeframe for me!” a lot. That precedent, as you say, means a lot.

        3. Cold Fish*

          Just like most things, you have to know your audience.
          Old Boss – knew when it was unusual for me to push back and that it was serious and typically took appropriate action when I brought something up.
          Big Boss – totally clueless on what should be taken seriously or not when it comes to intra-office issues. So even though I will only bring up very serious issues, if I escalate an issue he takes it with just as much importance as 100th issue Squeaky Wheel brought up this week. I shouldn’t have to spend extra time and energy to point out that not getting timely responses from Coworker Y is hurting our ability to do our job is more important than the fact that Squeaky Wheel doesn’t like when we use pink highlighters, but I do.
          I have to adjust my actions/responses to who I’m working with. However, I have found that most people will take my complaints more seriously because they know I’m not typically a complainer. And that has helped me in the past.

        4. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

          Rebecca, you became the reliable trusted workhorse that is taken for granted. The trusted workhorse role gets you no extra credit, and as you point out, the trusted workhouse is expected to remain quiet and complacent and stay in the lane.

      5. Just Your Everyday Crone*

        Agree–capital is built by competence and reasonableness. The nature of the disagreements one has and the way they handle them counts for a lot. I bring up issues quite frequently, but in the spirit of, let’s make our workplace better, and I have found that people either appreciate it or at least don’t seem to ding me for it. On the other hand, if someone is a histrionic malcontent, people are less likely to listen to them or consider them reasonable even if they happen to occasionally have a reasonable point.

      6. Cheap Ass Rolex*

        Yes, it’s about picking your battles. Doing a great and reliable job without complaint for a long period of time means that if you ever did complain, people would be likely to take it very seriously because it’s so rare, and because they therefore think you have a pretty high threshold for what merits complaint. Versus someone who picks every battle and doesn’t let small things go may not have any left they really need it.

        It’s like asking favors from somebody- the strength of your relationship is enough to warrant some, but not everything that could possibly think to ask for.

        1. Lunar Caustic*

          As Rebecca points out above, though, doing a great and reliable job without complaint for a long period of time sets up a status quo of, “Lunar will do whatever I ask without complaining.” Then when you do complain, you are disrupting the established status quo–and since humans are weird, they will think you are unreasonable because you violated their expectations. I just went through something like this and I’m still livid.

          1. Philosophia*

            Yes indeedy. AAM has received requests for advice from people who finally decide they need to start setting boundaries after years of being walked all over. It’s not an easy task.

      7. Artemesia*

        I had a colleague whose contract would not have been renewed if I had not expended a lot of my political capital to protect him. He finally undercut me one too many times and so the next time he was up for renewal/evaluation I just kept my mouth shut and he was out. His major problem was NEVER knowing when to take ‘no’ for an answer and he pushed back on every little thing. He wasn’t always wrong but he was very annoying and he had zero capital as a result. I ran the program he was in and barely saved his tail a couple of times until I just stopped doing that and he was gone.

      8. Artemesia*

        I had a colleague whose contract would not have been renewed if I had not expended a lot of my political capital to protect him. He finally undercut me one too many times and so the next time he was up for renewal/evaluation I just kept my mouth shut and he was out. His major problem was NEVER knowing when to take ‘no’ for an answer and he pushed back on every little thing. He wasn’t always wrong but he was very annoying and he had zero capital as a result. I ran the program he was in and barely saved his tail a couple of times until I just stopped doing that and he was gone.

        Being ‘right’ is not enough. There are many things in a week that coulld probably be corrected in any setting — you have to know when to push and when to shut up.

      9. Koalafied*


        I’m absolutely sure that there are some offices/jobs where political/social capital accrues in unjust ways and is required to be expended just to claim basic rights. That’s not inherent to the concept of social capital, though. A screwed up workplace is going to have screwed up mechanics for social capital; a healthy workplace is going to have healthier mechanics; and even the healthiest workplaces are often going to be plagued by the same social disparities that are present in the larger society.

        It’s simply a sociological term for “to what extent are people willing to go out of their way for you, or give you the benefit of the doubt in situations where you’re asking them to trust your word?”

        Most people are willing to go further on those counts for someone who has demonstrated trustworthiness and reliability, which is fair and helps create a positive feedback loop for social groups function more smoothly.

        Less ideally, we also tend to be willing to go further for people who we personally like or have things in common with, people higher in the hierarchy, white people, men, tall people, etc., because we haven’t evolved past these flawed biases yet as people.

    4. T2*

      I am very religious personally. But at work it is all business. This is something that would offend me too. And it is a hill I would die on.

      No one is authorized to force religious ideas on anyone.

      1. Bomm*

        The test sounds like the Via character strengths test, which comes out of positive psychology. I understand OP’s reaction to the names of the categories, but I don’t think the purpose is to measure religious belief. It might still feel invasive and inappropriate to OP, but I thought it might be helpful to test the premise before acting on it.

        1. Cdn Acct*

          I don’t agree, ‘spirituality’ is already way past where your employer should be focused on, religion would just be more focused on an organized doctrine. And those categories, ‘Transcendence’?? No, this is totally inappropriate for work.

          1. quill (and the bees agree with me)*

            Transcendence makes me think it’s not just baked-in cultural christianity, but purposefully has a specific sectarian basis.

        2. feral faerie*

          The temptation question is pretty transparently Christian. Resisting temptation is a central concept in the Christian Bible. Of course there are religions besides Christianity where resisting temptation is important to the belief system. The problem is that this question has a religious undertone overall, and whether it applies to Christianity or a different religion is moot because there will be people who do not subscribe to those religions or any religions at all in most secular workplaces. Ditto on the reference to “blessings”- that is blatantly religious- maybe not specific to Christianity but it still doesn’t belong in the work place because a lot of people do not believe in that concet at all. The only work setting I think this type of survey would be remotely appropriate is in an explicitly religious organization. Based on this letter, the questions are also very leading im that there’s an implication of the right and wrong answer. This would be problematic in any type of survey.

          There is this tendency in the US at least to see Christianity as the norm and therefore not recognize when Christian beliefs are seeping into environments that should be secular. The perfect example is how people who know I’m Jewish have asked me my entire life whether my family has a Christmas tree, if we celebrate Christmas, etc. It’s not inherently malicious but it is alienating and annoyinh.

          1. Lucy Skywalker*

            “The only work setting I think this type of survey would be remotely appropriate is in an explicitly religious organization.”

            And given the LW’s attitude towards religion, I think it’s safe to say that their workplace is NOT an explicitly religious organization.

        3. Leilah*

          I think it probably is that test. This is the total BS (in my opinion as a non-religious person) that they say to defend themselves:

          Scientists have defined spirituality as “the search for the sacred.” While the VIA Survey has only one question that uses the word religion/religious/religiousness in it, a conceptualization of “sacred” is inclusive to individuals who view themselves as religious as well as those who do not. The VIA Survey items tap into different dimensions of spirituality such as sense of purpose, faith, calling, and meditation or prayer practice. No doubt individuals can engage or practice each of these in a number of ways – in nature, in a spiritual community, or at a formal institution such as a church, synagogue, temple, or mosque.

          The very first sentence is nonsense, and by the end it’s just offensive. I personally don’t consider faith (belief without evidence) to be a good thing at all. It should be avoided, and I try to actively avoid engaging with it. I also do not believe in the the concept of “sacredness” at all, and of course I do not participate in any prayer practice. Them trying to tell me that this test and these words are inclusive of non-religious people is incredibly inaccurate.

          1. Clarity Q*

            So, I think the test is just saying that spirituality can mean a lot of things to different people– I do think that we can factually agree that there are some people who say they are spiritual and practice their spirituality through meditation, or any of the other examples VIA gave. I’m having a hard time understanding what is offensive about saying that there are many ways that an individual can engage in spirituality.

            I don’t think the test is saying you HAVE to be spiritual or that you need to be spiritual to be good. They list a whole other range of strengths.

            1. Tali*

              It’s offensive because there is no room for people who do not engage with spirituality at all. I have no purpose, no faith, no calling, I do not meditate, I do not pray. Leilah and I do not believe spirituality is a “strength” or a good thing to engage in, so why should we be evaluated on it?

              This is like giving people of various religions a personality test and scoring them low on “rationality”, saying “there are many ways humans engage with rationality: understanding that there is no soul, no deity/ies, no afterlife and no intrinsic sacredness.” I imagine that would be equally offensive to a spiritual person who cannot find themselves in that list of options and does not want to be graded against that rubric.

        4. Ialsothinkit'svia*

          Yes, this was my thought too! The purpose of the test, as I understand it, is to help you identify what strengths you have in your personality and help you think about how you can use your strengths to excel at work. Agree that I didn’t understand the test to be measuring how religious you were.

          That being said, totally understand that it can feel invasive and uncomfortable–I find those sorts of tests useful on a personal level, but don’t think they’re really appropriate in a work setting.

        5. Nanani*

          But it doesn’t matter whether they intended it to be religious or geared to a particular religion. It’s still got no place in the workplace! “Spirituality” definitely has no business purpose outside some very narrowly defined careers. In churches and stuff.

      2. Trawna*

        Me, too. I don’t want a cheap ass religiousy [sic] discussion at a corporate retreat! It sounds like a disrespectful, boundary-challenged mess.

      3. Artemesia*

        I would probably have refused to do this one too — but I did have the capital to do so and it was an environment in which it would have been possible — the OP has to decide her circumstances. One way to deal with this kind of imposed invasive test is to answer from the persona of a boring middle of the road person — honesty is not the best policy.

    5. hbc*

      There isn’t some law that decrees what costs political capital and what you’re entitled to without people holding it against you. It all really depends on the feelings of the person who set up the thing you want to change and how hard it would be to change it. If your boss thinks you should never take a day off, your boss is a jerk, but you can’t ignore the reality that he thinks he’s doing you a tremendous favor.

    6. anonymous73*

      Just doing your job doesn’t build capital. It’s about how well you do your job, how long you’ve been there, and what kind of rapport you have with those in positions that make decisions. Unfortunately most people just go with the flow and don’t ruffle any feathers for fear of losing their job. If more people were willing to stand up for these types of ridiculous things, you wouldn’t have to always use capital to speak out against bad behavior from the company.

    7. ecnaseener*

      With weird situations like being judged on your spirituality skills at work, *most* people don’t have to deal with that at all. The fact that it’s even coming up means someone at LW’s company (probably someone high up the food chain) has really bad judgment.

      So I don’t really see the issue here as about spending capital…no one should have to ask not to be proselytized to by their employer, whether or not the asking takes “capital.” In a healthy workplace, you don’t have to spend capital on things you’re entitled to, so to answer your question, the fact that you have to do that probably means your workplace isn’t great! (Side note, this is one of the reasons people unionize, so that change doesn’t have to depend on individuals’ capital.)

    8. urguncle*

      Good “spends” on political capital also build political capital, in my experience. If I come to my boss to point something out and I feel strongly about it and I know that my boss will take me seriously, it’s a way that I’m building trust with her as well. Positioning it as “this made me uncomfortable for people who don’t have a connection to religion or don’t want to talk about it at work” rather than a deeply personal complaint, for example.

      If I’m presenting my “complaints” as trust building with my employer and I do it in a way that is politically correct (not in a wider sense, in a political within my company way), it’s an investment of capital, not a spend.

      1. Merrie*

        That’s a great thought. I’m a relentless optimizer who always notices the ways to make it better, but unfortunately stuck for the moment in a working environment where “just do it and don’t make waves” is the driving principle. I would love to have a job where discussing these things with my supervisor got me anything other than a weird look combined with a “well, corporate says XYZ is important”.

      2. Artemesia*

        Really good point. Using power builds power in many circumstances. But it requires exquisite perception and judgment. You have to know when to hold and when to fold em.

    9. Generic Name*

      Yeah, it made me sad to read the part about capital. I know I lost capital when I reported my coworker for sexual harassment.

    10. Macapito*

      Because humans are social animals and tend to exclude/ostracize those who don’t follow accepted social conventions. When I worked as a district non-superintendent administrator in public education in the U.S., the principal signed emails with “God bless,” talked about praying for people, most teachers had Christian decorations, and stand-up meetings always began with Dear Jesus prayers. To my knowledge, School Board meetings still begin with Dear Jesus prayers, and, when someone actually pushed back, were told they could sit quietly or wait in the hallway for the praying to be over. I could have pushed back and reported this. But then I would have been viewed as the school atheist by colleagues and parents; I would have been distrusted and viewed as some nefarious “other”; and I would have found my contract non-renewed and/or my job largely stonewalled, guaranteed. There’s idealism and then there’s reality, and it’s a big ask for people to collapse their careers and professional networks on principle. I left to work somewhere I wasn’t expected to publicly pray to Jesus.

        1. Macapito*

          It’s been 8 years, I moved away, and the state became more deeply red. Legislators have tried to mandate this type of thing in the schools. I’m good.

      1. pancakes*

        It’s also a big ask to expect people to pretend to hold religious views they don’t actually believe in or pack up and move away. There’s no easy answer in an environment as oppressive as the one you describe, but personally I’m ok with being othered and distrusted by people I don’t respect or trust myself.

        1. Macapito*

          Being the perceived atheist who tried to stop good Christian prayer doesn’t work too well in what would turn out to be deeply rural, deeply red Let’s Go Brandon territory. And if that is the culture LW is in? It’s more than political capital; it’s the whole game. I mean, you blend in, get by, and either learn to live with it and do progressive work within the system, or you take your experience and leverage out of the system. I moved out of the country for my spouse, not because of my job, and I would have stayed there in that role/organization, with a church on every corner and 4/5 of the private universities in the area requiring community standard statements, church membership, and value agreements that say you believe in all that Christian stuff. If you can’t trust or respect the majority of the people in that community, that’s another thing.

          This also gets back to idealism vs practicality and “should/must” vs “is.” That pie in the sky sure looks tasty, but good look reaching it.

          1. pancakes*

            That’s partly why I said there are no easy answers in a place as oppressive as what you’re describing. Not everyone is going to have the relative luxury of “blending in,” either. A Sikh family, for example, probably wouldn’t be able to pull that off. And yes, it’s certainly a problem to not be able to trust or respect a majority of people in one’s community. I wouldn’t feel able to trust people in a community where school meetings begin with prayers to Jesus, or where people who don’t happily go along with that are othered. It doesn’t sound like you did either, since pushing back even gently seems to have been a risk to your livelihood and day-to-day treatment that you weren’t willing to take. I’m not sure why you think I’m talking about a pie in the sky by pointing out that moving away is also a big ask.

    11. Amethystmoon*

      I am also not Christian and don’t identify with any major religion. It is not always safe for unbelievers to come out as unbelievers at work. Yes it is supposed to be illegal to discriminate, but we all know it happens and the boss can always say it was not their atheism, it was performance issues or what have you. Good luck trying to prove otherwise.

      Also what if one was a very spiritual Wiccan or New Ager? I’d love to see how that would go at a company like this.

    12. LinuxSystemsGuy*

      Also, for what it’s worth, Alison mentions assessing “how much” political capital this is likely to cost the LW, in addition to whether they want to spend it. As she alluded to, it’s entirely possible/likely that this won’t be much if any policial expenditure. It just depends on the office culture and how married to this process higher ups are likely to be.

      I know at my job if I pushed back on something like this, the cost would essentially be zero, and my boss would probably thank me for pointing out the issue. I’ve had other jobs where higher ups pretty much felt they could do no wrong where it might have cost me more.

    13. Uranus Wars*

      When I think “Do I want to spend capital on this?” it’s usually for something I want to push to change for more than just me.

      I am lucky to work somewhere like taking time off work isn’t going to cost me anything – I generally am just able to do it as long as my work is done and things I need to be sure happen in my absence happen.

      In this case, for the OP, I think the question of spending capital isn’t “do I have it to spend on myself” or “do I have enough to affect EVERYONE”. I refer to it as planting my flag.

      I think some else said this as a reply – if you don’t have the capital you just don’t answer and say “I’m uncomfortable with this for personal reasons”. If you have the capital you say “This is going to alienate our entire workgroup, we should not have to do this, I will not let go of this and have as many conversations as necessary to make sure everyone hears my reasonings. I will plant my flag.”

      I have actually said the “yes, I care about this enough to plant my flag here” before and gotten results.

    14. MCMonkeyBean*

      I think it partially comes down to pushing for something for just you versus pushing for overall change. If OP wants to just say “I’m not really comfortable with this survey and would prefer not to fill it out” I don’t think that would use up “political capital” in the same way that it would to say a more overall “this feels inappropriate for work.”

      I think also it depends on why they were given this in the first place–is this something someone high up in the company personally believes in and will be offended by (very reasonable) pushback? Or is this some kind of third-party thing that just came with the retreat that no one in the company has any kind of attachment to? Obviously the latter is a lot easier to push back on than the former.

      1. MCMonkeyBean*

        To be clear– I agree this sounds inappropriate for the workplace and OP should definitely not have to do it or be put out for asking not to do it! But whether something *should* cost political capital is of course not really the same questions as to whether it *does.* And this might, depending on the circumstances. But it might not!

  3. Talula Does the Hula From Hawaii*

    Could you be an adherent of the Flying Spaghetti Monster?
    The idea being that it would fill most of those categories successfully. If they have any umbrage with it you can remind them that while you never asked for this retreat this is your religious belief and you would appreciate their understanding.

    Read up beforehand on FSM theology so you will be able to explain how Flying Spaghetti Monsterism works.

    1. Anonariffic*

      For full effectiveness, wear a colander on your head for the duration of the retreat, or at least for any individual/group photographs.

      1. Carol the happy elf*

        I prefer a tinfoil cone hat. They can be molded exactly to the shape of my head. That way, the space aliens can’t catch any thoughts that leak out through the gaps! (Such as “My personal spirituality is not your concern.”)

    2. ecnaseener*

      I don’t see how that would’ve helped LW fill out the survey — they were numerically ranking the truth of statements about themselves like “my faith makes me who I am.” You can either answer those honestly or you can lie, it doesn’t matter which religion you’re thinking of.

      Now, if they were trying to join the Freemasons and needed to state which specific religion they believed in, fine. But this assessment didn’t ask which religion.

    3. Gracely*

      I love His Noodly Appendage as much as other adherents, but I don’t think recommending any religion, no matter how satirical, as a substitute is a good idea to recommend to an atheist. Especially telling them to read up on FSM theology…how is suggesting they do that any different, essentially, than reading up on any other religious theology? If the LW had wanted to answer, even satirically, they likely have enough knowledge of catholic beliefs to successfully do that.

      The point is that they shouldn’t be subjected to religious questions, no matter what their answer would be.

    4. Xenia*

      The problem is that even becoming an adherent of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is dodging the underlying problem of needing to fill out religious questionnaires at work. In the vast majority of cases, a person’s faith has nothing whatsoever to do with their workplace. Even for those cases where it does matter–from having a faith-based food restriction to becoming a spiritual official in the faith you belong to–this sort of questionnaire would be completely useless. It sounds more like the campfire songs at summer camps than something that belongs in an office.

  4. allathian*

    The first letter made me itch all over. Just the word “retreat” sounds like something people do when they want to focus on their faith or spiritual life in general, rather than a work event. I hope that the event is held during the workweek rather than a weekend. Horrible boundary stomping in any case.

    I’m grateful that my employer would never ask me to do anything remotely resembling this, and I work for the government in a country with two state churches (Lutheran and Orthodox), so we get Christian holidays off by default, including some more obscure ones, such as Ascension and Whitsun/Pentecost and All Saints’ Day (day after Halloween).

    1. birch*

      We do have “retreats” in other fields–I am in education and my partner is in private sector and we’ve both been on them. We are probably much less likely to be proselytized to at work though, if only because the religious and cultural default is to not talk about it in public (although, as a US-ian originally I was more awkward about being invited to sauna with coworkers–in the US I’m saddened but not surprised by being proselytized to at work). And there’s definitely a point to be made that automatically getting Christian holidays off is not an inclusive way to run a country either.(If I’m remembering right, you and I are writing from the same country.)

      1. allathian*

        I live in Finland, and I’ve never been to the sauna with my coworkers.

        When I was in college, I did go to the sauna with other students regardless of gender, and at least when only other Finns were present, everyone was naked and it was just what we considered normal. With international students we wore bikini bottoms/swimming trunks to make them feel more comfortable, at least during their first visit to the sauna. Many of them adapted and were comfortable with being naked in the sauna when they’d been in the country for a few months. Some never did, and of course, some found their first experience so unpleasant that they never tried again. Finnish saunas are hotter than the typical German sauna, for example, 80 C/176 F is pretty standard.

        I’ve attended development days that were held outside the office. This could include doing a survey or taking a personality test so that we’d discuss the results during the event, but never anything like what the LW is describing.

      2. Artemesia*

        I am watching an old British police procedural starring Richard Griffiths called ‘Pie in the Sky’ and the final episode of the second season involves a retreat for police officers which includes all of the things about HR lead workshops that get under our skin – including a ridiculous ice breaker involving lemons and a psychological assessment. It really nails the whole experience and you might find it amusing in spite of the 20 year old visual quality.

      3. I take tea*

        Cultural differens are fascinating. I’ve been to the sauna both with colleagues and acquaintances, and see that as pretty standard. But religion is a private thing and most people find it embarrassing if someone mentions anything about it.

    2. Asenath*

      It’s actually not the case that “retreat” always means “religious”. I’ve attended, and organized many, get-togethers which contained absolutely nothing about religion or spirituality. The only similarity with a religious retreat was that they were invariably held off-site. The idea was to get away from the office for a day, sometimes a day and a half. I guess they were something like those team-building efforts, but in this case there would be sessions on work-related issues with guest speakers. They were generally focused on what the participants thought would be useful, a social event and a dinner. We used to call them “workshops”, thinking that sounded less like fun and so less likely to be questioned by the finance department, but finally gave up since every other department called them “retreats”.

      1. Anonymous4*

        No, “retreat” doesn’t always mean “religious” retreat, but one that starts with a religious survey inquiring as to one’s spirituality and grading one’s level of transcendence is pretty certain to be strongly religious in orientation.

      2. allathian*

        I’ve attended similar events, but they’re always called development days or workshops. The idea is similar to what you describe, we’ve also had guest speakers at some of them. They were almost always held off-site, but never called retreats.

      3. alienor*

        Yeah, my department at a previous employer would have a management retreat every year–nothing religious about it, just a day in a hotel conference room talking about the strategy for the upcoming year. I went a few times when I was a manager and it was the same boring business stuff as always. We did get a nice catered lunch and snacks, though.

        1. alienor*

          Also they didn’t make us fill out a survey about our spirituality ahead of time, so I think that’s probably the tipoff that this one might be inappropriate.

      4. KayDeeAye*

        “Spirituality” can be a code word for “religiousness” or even “Christianity,” but it is quite often used to mean “I have beliefs but I prefer not to categorize them.” I cannot even estimate the number of times I’ve read a quote or seen someone say, “I don’t believe in organized religion, but I am a spiritual person,” but the answer is a *lot*.

        Now, the OP knows their own workplace, whereas the rest of us do not. So they are really the only ones who have enough data to decide whether it is being used to mean “Christian” or something else.

        However, I think however it is being used, it is an inappropriate topic for a work-related survey, unless of course spirituality in some form or other is part of the organization’s mission.

        1. penny dreadful analyzer*

          I’m a recovering Catholic, like the OP, and while I have also lost count of the number of times I’ve heard people give the “spiritual but not religious line,” the number of times where I’ve been able to discern any meaning from such a sentence other than a vague connotation of “I don’t want to be seen as religiously lacking” is precisely zero. So I’d also be infuriated at a test that asked a whole bunch of questions about “spirituality” without defining it and then ordered me to go “understand” what they were talking about in the results.

          Definition 1 of “spiritual” in Merriam-Webster is “incorporeal.” I don’t consider myself incorporeal. I assume people who ask if I consider myself spiritual are asking me something other than if I consider myself incorporeal, because that would be very silly, but I genuinely have no idea what they are asking if it’s not “religious, but using a dodge word.”

          1. Kay*

            I once had a coworker who swore to me they weren’t religious. This is the same coworker who every day before eating lunch did a clasp the hands, close the eyes, say a prayer riddled with wonderous savior language out loud routine. I was baffled and just assumed denial ran deep.

            1. David*

              That is a thing in some sects, along the lines of “I’m not *religious*, because what I believe is true & so I have a personal connection with {deity} instead. Religions are for everybody else”

              I have my questions, but it’s a thing at least.

          2. Hlao-roo*

            The people I’ve heard identify as “spiritual but not religious” generally mean “I vaguely believe in some sort of higher power/life force but I do not practice any organized religion.”

            1. allathian*

              Yes, this. And that’s why the way the survey phrases things is troublesome, because I’m neither religious nor spiritual.

              1. KayDeeAye*

                Yes, Hlao-roo – that’s exactly how I would interpret it, too. And yes, allathian, for a work-related question, it’s problematic no matter how you interpret it! This is just not something that anybody should be required to or encouraged to discuss at work.

      5. Artemesia*

        Perhaps but as a survivor of the job related retreats of the 70s use of intrusive assessments and inappropriate pressures for disclosure were the norm.

      6. Jaydee*

        That sounds similar to the “retreats” we’ve had at the small state government agency where I work. We rent a nice conference room somewhere off-site, have lunch provided, and spend the day doing non-terrible team-building activities (at our last one, we split into teams and did a trivia contest game about the programs we administer) and talking about the overall direction of the agency.

        This continuously reminds me how lucky I am to work where I work.

    3. EventPlannerGal*

      “Retreat” always just makes me think of the terrible Thought Camp they make Peter go to in The Thick of It. “Am I…… supply-side economics?”

    4. Shiba Dad*

      I realize that retreats aren’t always religious things, but that’s where my mind goes first when I hear the term.

      Fun side note: I recently learned that some churches refer to men’s retreats as “advances” because “Christian men don’t retreat”.

      1. SweetestCin*

        I’m going to take away that there’s a lot of word-bending going on in those churches. Sheesh.

        1. Collarbone High*

          My childhood church held a vote to rename the monthly potluck suppers to “pot-trust,” because they felt it was un-Christian to believe in luck.

          1. quill (and the bees agree with me)*

            And now I understand the cultural context that gave us “Freedom fries.”

            1. Le Sigh*

              Honestly the freedom fries joke never gets old for me, even 20 years later. Bonus points if you use it around tweens or teens who weren’t alive during that period and you get to explain it to them.

              1. quill (and the bees agree with me)*

                I was like, 10-ish at the time and it was funny even then. The fact that a real life adult thought that calling them french fries supported france in any way probably also shaped my political awareness, in that I’ve been convinced most of my life that there is a group of politicians who are no smarter than a loaf of bread.

          2. Anonymous Luddite*

            Reminds me of the town of Kingsville, Texas (where else?) that has been trying to replace “hello” with “heaven-o”. Not joking. “Because the ‘hell’ is right there in the word!”

      2. Puns strike again*

        When I talked to my parents as a kid about my school retreats, band/choir retreats, etc., my dad would jokingly quote that line from the Battle Hymn of the Republic: “But I thought ‘he hath sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat’!”

        A literal dad joke.

        Half of me is incredulous, and half of me is all too ready to believe, that someone had a similar thought but *not* as a joke.

      3. Anonymous Luddite*

        Fun side note: For a VERY long time, I attended a Wiccan church that had a four day ritual event every year. I was not out in any way at work. However, when the time came to put in a vacation request, my pat line was “My church has a four day retreat over Easter weekend.” They never blinked twice.

    5. Rolly*

      “Just the word “retreat” sounds like something people do when they want to focus on their faith or spiritual life in general,”

      You don’t understand the word properly, at least as used in the US. A retreat is a time/place to get away from day-to-day activities. It might be spiritual, but in most workplaces the focus is on other things, with a planning retreat a common example. Teambuilding is another (don’t jump on me – I’m not saying that is good).

      In non-work context, a couples’ retreat is a time for romantic partners to get away from day-to-day responsibilities and focus on their relationship.

      1. allathian*

        Many couples’ retreats are also organized by faith-based organizations. My MIL and her husband met at a singles’ club for seniors organized by their church. Before they got married, they went on several couples’ retreats organized by the church, and they’ve attended at least one such retreat after getting married.

        Granted, there are also secular retreats for couples.

    6. KayDeeAye*

      I have gone to religious retreats, but every place I’ve ever worked has had “retreats,” and none of them were even slightly religious (or “spiritual”) in nature. Not one.

      1. londonedit*

        I’m thinking this must be a linguistic/cultural difference, because I’ve never heard of a work ‘retreat’. The word conjures up ideas of spirituality to me, whether it’s a religious retreat or yoga or a health farm or whatever.

        1. KayDeeAye*

          It very well could be. I have been to religious retreats, but at most of the places I have worked (all in the U.S.), the word “retreat” has been used to mean “A long (and often tedious) staff meeting that takes place away from the office and that is used for long-term planning.” This differentiates them from a regular staff meeting that lasts an hour or two and, at least in theory, has specific, short-term goals.

          I have personally not received much…enrichment from work-related retreats, but as far as I can tell, they’ve all been strictly secular and fairly benign – aside from the time they waste, that is. I’ve never been to a single one that would not have been improved by being shorter. Ah, well.

        2. UKDancer*

          I think so. We have awaydays (where you go away from the office physically or virtually) and the idea is that you bond as a team or discuss the business plan and priorities. Sometimes we use the same words for a team building type activity. I’d never call any of those a retreat because “retreat” indicates something a bit more spiritual.

        3. Gumby*

          Huh, interesting. Divided by a common language situation again?

          I have worked for one company that held annual retreats. They were mostly “company-paid vacation with some team building activities” (and were always optional). We might be on the retreat for 3 days and there would be 2 half-day corporate activities and 2 – 3 planned meals together. The rest of the time was open. They gave us cash to cover the other meals though people supplemented it if they wanted to go to nicer restaurants. Generally a few people would look at what was available in the area and arrange activities during the free time. So when we were in Phoenix and not in the company activities, one group of people went to Taliesin West, another went to ride ATVs, and some people stayed at our hotel to enjoy the lazy river / spa / whatever they wanted to. There was nothing remotely spiritual/religious about it.

      2. Golden*

        Yeah, “retreats” seem to be very common in academia, which (at least in my experience) seems to be pretty atheist/agnostic-leaning, or international to the point where Christianity is not a definite majority.

        We had plenty of lab retreats, departmental retreats, etc.

    7. Macapito*

      A “retreat” is often time set aside for an entire department, unit, or division to meet to discuss a specific topic or organizational need over 1-2 (or more) days. It does not automatically or inherently suggest spiritual or religious purposes.

    8. AnonInCanada*

      In this case, I see the word “retreat” as the action OP should be making regarding this hell-bent requirement. I’m pretty sure freedom of religion includes not being a part of one.

  5. PinaColada*

    Re: #5, it’s definitely a thing people do, and I’ve even had people “apply” to the job posting, & allow me to set up a call with the intention of using the interview slot as a pitch opportunity! Honestly bananas if you ask me.

    1. OP 5*

      Yes, this was their intent! I’m in Alison’s camp in thinking that if I finally get the head count to do this work in-house I am not looking to outsource. I was scratching my head internally for sure.

      1. Le Sigh*

        This would piss me off so badly. Here I am, already with too much work on my plate, and you’re gonna waste my time by bait-and-switching me when I’m trying to hire a FT staffer?

    2. InASuit*

      OP5 Absolutely, we get these pitches routinely.

      Particularly for event management / communications roles.

    3. Virginia Plain*

      It wouldn’t surprise me either – people will try anything sometimes! Slightly different but still touting for business by misusing an ad: I was selling a former property using an online only estate agent (realtor?) and I had a supposed request for a viewing from someone whose profile said they were selling a place and looking to buy one with description like mine. I found out beforehand that they were actually an estate agent themself and that it was a known tactic to pretend to be a potential buyer, get their foot in the door, literally, then try to persuade the seller to sign up with their agency instead. I found our before the appointment and toyed with the idea of letting her attend then taking her to task for lying and posing as a buyer, telling her to get our of my flat before I called the old bill (I wouldn’t have done so of course unless she had actually refused to leave). Just to waste her time too. But I decided I cba and she wouldn’t have learnt from it. I called her out via text when I cancelled (the website site linked you up to arrange the viewing) and she was shameless; “sorry you thought I lied to you”. Ugh.

    4. Sloan Kittering*

      I wonder if this is more successful in our current climate, given the hiring situation right now – I know my boss recently posted a FT position (crappy benefits and low pay, I’m astonished they didn’t find anyone) and then made it PT and then later hired a contractor to do it. So I could see someone getting their foot in the door. Not all organizations are presumably as thoughtful as Alison. However, applying to the job itself – and scheduling an interview! – seems silly. Nobody likes a bait-and-switch. I could see an email to the hiring manager saying, “I see you’re hiring for X role. Good luck in your hiring process! I wanted to let you know that my company offers Y service which may be relevant to you if you can’t find the right match.” I don’t think that would be offensive, although you might not get anywhere with it.

    5. voluptuousfire*

      Yep! Used to see that at my old job. We’d see applications for roles and they would be from recruiters at an external agency we didn’t have a contract with attempting to pitch a candidate for the same role. Thankfully I was usually the one who caught it and let my recruiter know and we’d reject them. Once or twice we didn’t catch it and my recruiter would have to get themselves out of a sales call.

    6. mlem*

      Maybe this is why interviewers ask, “Do you need this job?” — maybe they’re trying to screen out back-door pitches like this!

  6. OP for question 1*

    Thank you so much to Alison for reading and answering my question! It’s very helpful to get an outside perspective on this – no one at my work place has said anything about the test (to my knowledge at least) and I was starting to feel like it might have been a me-problem. Happy to answer questions if folks have them, I’ll just want to keep it non-identifying. I’d also welcome anyone else’s advice! I haven’t decided yet if I’m going to talk to someone at my work about how uncomfortable the test made me.

    1. Midge*

      I recently took the same test! I didn’t like the religious questions/language either. And I REALLY bristled at the questions about the strengths of gratitude, hope, perseverance, and “zest.” They read like depression screening questions to me. Stuff like: “I wake up excited for each day” and “I count my blessings every day.” Fortunately I took the assessment as part of a mentoring program outside of my regular team. So I don’t have to deal with it in my day to day, and I decided to take away a few interesting things and ignore the rest.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        Ugh, if I had to take a screening that mentioned “zest” I would not be happy. Do they want their employees to be people or citrus fruits?

      2. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        Did they have a “not applicable” option? I am not a “spiritual” person in any sense of the word. Or can you just skip the spirituality questions entirely? Never felt it in my life, never felt it’s absence, have been through some very trying and painful times and didn’t need it. I was raised Orthodox, but it was more cultural than anything else and I’m pretty sure if I grew up in a country that recognized that other types of Christianity are a thing, we wouldn’t have even had those trappings. They just got sick of people telling them that 12/25 is Christmas for EVERYONE.

        1. Midge*

          Sort of. You rate a bunch of statements on a scale of “very much like me” to “very much unlike me.” So all of those questions got a “very much unlike me” answer.

      3. alienor*

        Blargh. I said something similar on a post a while ago, but I don’t think anyone wakes up excited for each day unless they’re on Day 2 of an amazing three-week vacation or something. Like yes, making coffee and feeding the cat and sending some work emails is way better than a lot of unpleasant alternatives, but it’s not something to turn cartwheels over, either.

        1. Just Your Everyday Crone*

          It does smack of toxic positivity. I consider myself usually content, but “excited for each day” sounds a little cultish.

      4. Amcb13*

        Lol, a few years ago our boss had us take a survey that included an item like “I am excited to get out of bed each morning.” In general, we scored pretty high on most metrics of like, being happy and engaged at work, but she was baffled by our overwhelmingly “depressed” score as a group. Turns out we all answered pretty literally—our work starts before 8am, so virtually no one was like, leaping happily out of their warm beds at 5:30 or whenever they had to get up! But it wasn’t a reflection of how we felt about coming to work each day—just, who wants to actually physically get out of bed???

      5. Neurodivergentsaurus Rex*

        Oh this test sounds SUPER obnoxious. Also, anyone who’s ever been in an 8am meeting with me knows i do NOT wake up excited for each day.

    2. Raven*

      When you say “not identifying,” do you mean you wouldn’t be able to share the name of the test itself (which I definitely want to know), or just you don’t want to identify yourself and your company?

        1. Eliza*

          Yeah, I looked up the test’s definition of “spirituality” and I don’t like it.

          “Spirituality has been defined consistently by scientists as the search for or connection with “the sacred”. The sacred might be that which is blessed, holy, revered, or particularly special. This can be secular or non-secular: sacredness might be pursued as the search for a purpose in life or as a close relationship with something greater; the sacred might be experienced in the forgiveness offered by a child, a humble moment between a leader and a subordinate, an awe-inspiring sunset, a profound experience during meditation or a religious service, or the self-sacrificing kindness of a stranger. As a character strength, spirituality involves the belief that there is a dimension to life that is beyond human understanding.”

          That passage in particular feels like it’s really selling humanity short. Most of the examples it lists are human actions, and yet the blurb calls them “beyond human understanding”. It reminds me of Alcoholics-Anonymous-style valorization of helplessness, where people believe that it’s not actually possible for humans to do remarkable things unless they’re somehow inspired by a superhuman force. That’s not an outlook on life that I can sign on to.

          1. UKDancer*

            Ouch. That is really not something I’d consider any of my work’s business. Whether one believes there’s a dimension to life beyond human understanding (and personally I am not convinced there is) is not relevant to the ability to function effectively in the workplace.

          2. Erin*

            “Spirituality has been defined consistently by scientists as the search for or connection with “the sacred”.”

            Really? #CitationNeeded

              1. AnonEMoose*

                The categories listed struck me as some sort of combination of building a character for a role-playing game (like “Dungeons and Dragons”) and stuff you find in a tarot deck. I would have been really uncomfortable with this test, too.

            1. L.H. Puttgrass*

              I couldn’t read any further after that. The whole “has been defined by scientists” thing attempts to give the question a sheen of legitimacy by referencing science, while being so vague that you know they just pulled this out of their butts. And since when do “scientists” define what words mean? Are lexicographers scientists?

              And “consistently?” Have the authors of this “test” met any scientists?

              1. RabbitRabbit*

                Actually yes. Check the very bottom of the web page, click the “About” link, then the “People” link within that page. Not sure about the first guy, Mayerson, but Martin Seligman (the other founder) is well-known in psychology. The wording is fuzzy so it’s unclear if he’s still involved but he was with them for at least a decade.

                1. Critical Rolls*

                  Seligman and his positive psychology are well established but definitely not without controversy for, among other things, the appearance of a pseudo-religion.

                2. anne of mean gables*

                  The wording is indeed pretty fuzzy, there. And their psychometrics don’t appear to be peer-reviewed that I can find (I have not done a deep dive). I’m not an assessment expert (and can admit that I tend to approach this kind of thing from a place of skepticism) but there’s a LOT of overlap between the “published papers using this assessment” page and the “about our team” page. I.e. does not look like it’s been widely adopted in the positive psych field beyond the folks who helped develop it.

                  …and that’s as much time as I need to spend on that today, probably.

                3. Rebecca1*

                  To be fair, with that last name it was pretty much destiny for him to go into the positivity field. (Seligman is German for “happy one.”)

              2. A linguistics graduate*

                Linguists are people who study language scientifically, but somehow I don’t think that was your question.

                1. L.H. Puttgrass*

                  But linguists don’t try define what words mean, right?

                  I mean, as I understand it, lexicographers don’t “define” words either, strictly speaking. They write definitions that reflect usage—i.e., the job of a lexicographer is descriptive, not prescriptive. Whether any of them would describe themselves as scientists, I don’t know; all I know about lexicography I learned from Cory Stamper’s blog. Oh, and that book about how the OED was created. And Brian Garner’s Modern English Usage. Look, I’m just an amateur, is what I’m saying.

              3. Katiekins*

                Since when is it scientists that define spirituality? That’s the work of theologians, or lexicographers!

                1. Calliope*

                  I have a friend who is a psychologist who studies religion and spirituality. I’m sure her subfield of psychology has definitions of spirituality and religion they use and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was something like that. Doesn’t make it work appropriate though.

              4. penny dreadful analyzer*

                I guess scientists have the authority to determine what scientific terminology means, but I’m not sure “sacredness” is scientific terminology, and the attempt to frame it as such is deeply off-putting to me!

              1. Calliope*

                Social psychology. I have a friend who does this work. Not relevant to a secular workplace but a valid study in psychology!

          3. Richard Hershberger*

            That there is some high-grade gibberish! I response to this sort of thing, if I think I can get away with it, is a doe-eyed expression and “I don’t understand the question” followed by asking for definitions of each and every term, with follow-up questions for clarification. My goal is to make everyone involved regret roping me into this nonsense.

              1. Polly Hedron*

                I love Richard’s response too, because it’s exactly what I do and Richard described it better than I ever have.
                I hope OP updates.

              1. Mockingjay*

                Works for technical writers too. We want our responses to be accurate, validated, and to cite authoritative sources. *cue cackle of malicious compliance*

                1. Anonymous Luddite*

                  Tech writers using malicious compliance?
                  *doe eyes* But that never happens. :-)
                  Long distance high five, Mockingjay.

                2. L.H. Puttgrass*

                  Lawyers, tech writers—I’m detecting a common theme: two professions that care about language and think words have meaning.

            1. Sara without an H*

              Yes, it’s gibberish, and I say this as a practicing religious believer. I would NOT be comfortable answering any of these questions. If I couldn’t think of a way out of it, I’d try the malicious compliance route and give the most bizarre answers I could come up with.

          4. L.H. Puttgrass*

            That definition of “spirituality” is exactly what a religious person would write if they were trying to say that no, of course, spirituality isn’t just religion (but really it is).

          5. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

            Ugh. Yeah, I feel like the “non-secular” examples are little add-ons to get it past legal or something. Any time you add “belief” in the mix it is religious.

          6. Raven*

            “a humble moment between a leader and a subordinate”

            yeah, I feel the most spiritual when I get yelled at by my boss.

          7. Gracely*

            What’s crazy is I can definitely see how some christians would be offended by a definition of spirituality that reads like that. But at the same time, some of the questions are absolutely drawing from a christian mindset/theology/background.

            It’s like this test is designed to piss everyone off, regardless of spirituality/religion/theism.

          8. Mockingdragon*

            Why is it a *character strength* to believe in another dimension to life anyway? Like fine, if it helps you, great! I believe in things too but it’s not a virtue! It’s just a belief… I have never understood this and I don’t think I ever will.

            1. DJ Abbott*

              I think it’s from the way many religious people believe their religion is something that makes them better than others. So they see someone who follows their beliefs as being of better character.
              I grew up in a fundamentalist area and saw this then and since – people who oppress others are usually enabled by the people in charge because the oppressor is of the same religion so has better character than the person oppressed.
              Not true of course, but that’s the way they operate.

          9. T_of_Santa_Clara*

            I wish people wouldn’t disparage Alcoholics Anonymous like you have, Eliza. It seems clear that you are not a member and do not understand AA. AA does not “valorize” helplessness. And a belief in a “superhuman force” is not required. Each AA member gets to choose their own “higher power” which can help them, but in no way is it required to believe in a deity or anything supernatural. Some AA members think of GOD as an acronym/shorthand for “good orderly direction” or “group of drunks” (in other words, relying on their AA group for inspiration/guidance) or “great out doors”. There are many, many atheists and agnostics in AA.

            1. Eliza*

              I’m very familiar with AA and to be frank, I think it’s a cult whether you call it a religious one or not. Research into its outcomes has also consistently demonstrated that it’s *less* effective than people trying to quit on their own without support. Maybe there are some individuals who have been genuinely helped by it, but the numbers don’t look good.

              1. T_of_Santa_Clara*

                You’re wrong on both counts. I am not engaging in “mental gymnastics”, it is well established in AA that “GOD” can stand for whatever you want it to. If it were a cult, where are the demands to give money? And the membership lists? And the cult leader? AA has none of these things; all contributions are voluntary, no records of members are kept, and all leadership positions rotate regularly…after 2 years at most. And, recent research shows that AA is in fact the most effective treatment. I refer you to https://www.vice.com/en/article/v74x5d/does-alcoholics-anonymous-actually-work-research , published in March 2020.

        2. Eliza*

          Also, wow, one of the other strengths is Love, defined as “I experience close, loving relationships that are characterized by giving and receiving love, warmth, and caring.” That is definitely none of my employer’s damn business.

          1. Just delurking to say...*

            ….especially if the other half of one of those relationships is one of my coworkers….

          2. Anonymous4*

            If someone handed me one of those tests, there would be a LOT of blank places. And I’d be outside my manager’s door, saying, “I’m sorry to bother you but there’s a problem we need to discuss.”

          3. Loulou*

            This was what struck me too. Even if there weren’t any religious overtones, this just sounds so personal! I realize there are mixed opinions on the “bringing your whole self to work” thing, and I certainly will have more personal conversations with certain coworkers, but this feels invasive.

            1. Librarian of SHIELD*

              This is much more personal and intimate than any personality quiz I’ve done in the workplace. Most places I’ve worked use something more like Real Colors, which still completely over-simplifies and generalizes, but it does typically stick to workplace appropriate questions and examples.

              1. Sorrischian*

                I was actually pleasantly surprised when my workplace had us do the Real Colors thing. It is absolutely over-simplified and a bit goofy, but our leadership mostly used it as a springboard to talk about differing communication styles and adapting our approach for different people, and I got some useful knowledge about my coworkers’ preferences as far as feedback, etc.
                This survey, on the other hand, is giving me hives just thinking about it.

        3. RabbitRabbit*

          Wow, took some searching on that site to find anything about its origins. I do see with some relief that Martin Seligman, a well-known psychology researcher who did some groundbreaking research on learned helplessness, is one of the psychologists behind it. His Wiki article describes the test as intended to be essentially the opposite of the DSM (the diagnostic manual used for psychological disorders), basically a way to describe positive traits/outcomes in a person. So I assume the spirituality component would be for positive aspects of spirituality (vs. the persecution/guilt/paranoia possibilities).

          Still. I would be wary of any psychological measure – validated or not* – being used in the workplace, especially if your management gets to know your results.

          (*Not validated includes the Myers-Briggs, which is not a legitimate psychological test and is closer to astrology.)

          1. Not So NewReader*

            As a layperson it strikes me that positive traits can be found using other techniques.

            Annnnddd as a church going person, (and referring to myself), I reconnected with religious practice because my life went haywire. In other words, it’s because of having problems that I returned to church. So does being spiritual mean I am healthy or does it mean I have tied a knot in the end of my rope and I am hanging on?
            Going out beyond just my own story, I see this expression commonly used: Churches aren’t supposed to be museums of perfect people, rather they are hospitals for the broken people. With this concept in mind, I’d have to say that being spiritual is not necessarily a healthy symptom. It can vary just as people’s life stories can vary.

            I have to say this- these tests just plain annoy me. Even if I get them in church- which I have seen them being used- I am still annoyed. Human beings cannot be pigeon-holed. We are all a work in progress. I am not the person I was at 17, nor am I the person I was at 37 and that is irrespective of any spirituality. We grow, we add things to our lives and subtract things from our lives almost on a weekly basis. And the problem with any test is that if one studies the questions long enough, one can see where the test is not comprehensive and it does not give a full picture. It’s a snap shot, not a movie.

            Sorry. mini-rant. This employer needs to mind their own business. And my response does not change even if the employer is a church or other religious affiliate.

            1. Librarian of SHIELD*

              I studied human communication in college, and we took pretty much all the personality tests as reminders that people have different outlooks and priorities and it’s important to be mindful of that if you’re going to be a strong communicator. But my professors also made the same point that you did, that there are limits to how the results of these tests should be used. They can be a helpful exercise in self-awareness and in understanding the people you interact with, but it’s important not to take those results too seriously and use them as limiters, when they’re meant to be descriptors.

              I mentioned Real Colors above, it’s the assessment I’ve taken most frequently. Once in middle school for a gifted class project, once as a junior in college, and twice in work trainings/retreats. I got pretty similar results all four times, but the way I live out those priorities is very different now from the way I did at 13. There are ways in which I’m different than I was then, and ways in which I’m the same.

              I do want to note, one of the workplaces I did Real Colors with handled it very well and the other handled it very poorly, so it’s good to be wary of these kinds of exercises.

              1. Anonymous Luddite*

                “There are two types of people in the world: Those who divide people into two types and those who don’t.”

                1. Scarlet Magnolias*

                  I divide people into 3 categories. Moe, Larry and Curly. Larrys are the most common, Moes come in about 40 percent (but the number rises in hateful warlike times) and Curlys are the rarest (only about 2 percent)
                  Also a Curly can morph into a Larry, but a Larry can never change to a Curly

              2. pancakes*

                Even as descriptors, and regardless of whether they’re handled well or not, these tests all rely on self-reporting. They’re fundamentally compromised.

                1. penny dreadful analyzer*

                  Seriously, I’m looking through the categories playing a mental game of “Who do I know that would give themselves an undeservedly high score on these?”

            2. Empress Matilda*

              The thing that bugs me about these tests is that they all assume you’re doing them for the first time, and your responses will be honest and unbiased. I’ve done this kind of thing dozens of times in my career, and I can’t un-know what I’ve learned from the previous ones. So while I’m (usually!) as honest as I can be, I can’t be unbiased because I know what the questions are trying to get at, and I automatically shape my answers accordingly.

              I also once had an evaluator ask about why it took me so little time to do the test – apparently I spent less than a minute on each question, and apparently this is a problem? One, I’m a fast reader; and two, I’ve done versions of this test dozens of times so I already know the questions and the answers. What’s your point?

          2. Cthulhu's Librarian*

            I’ll point out that Seligman’s test hasn’t been empirically validated either, even if he appears to be an actual psychologist (unlike Myers and Briggs).

            Personal opinion, that actually makes his test being out there in the wild and being used without oversight worse than Myers-Briggs. At least they weren’t actual scientists, and could plausibly say they didn’t realize it could do harm and damage or be misused. As a trained psychologist, Seligman should be horrified of his theories being used this way and in this context.

            1. Dasein9*

              Perhaps OP could email Seligman and see if he would be so kind as to write to company leadership and explain why this is such a bad idea.

            2. pancakes*

              I don’t agree that it’s plausible for non-scientists to claim or feign ignorance of the fact that psychiatry requires medical training to be done properly. It’s not as if Myers and Briggs were hermits who crawled out of a cave with their test.

          3. EPLawyer*

            “Still. I would be wary of any psychological measure – validated or not* – being used in the workplace, especially if your management gets to know your results.”

            Oh heavens yes. Because boss’ are NOT trained psychologists and have NO idea what to do with this information and apply it properly. Oh your spiritual strength is peacemaker — great, you get to deal with our most difficult client. Yes you have no idea about that part of the business, but you are a peacemaker, go do it.

            Urgh, I would be so tempted to say “My spiritual strength is I know to not talk about spirituality in the office.”

          4. ArtK*

            I’m very disappointed in Seligman. But then, plenty of very good scientists can go off the rails, Linus Pauling for instance.

            1. L.H. Puttgrass*

              I know nothing about Seligman, but more than one scientist has decided at some point in their lives that money spends better than reputation.

          5. DJ Abbott*

            I’m so tired of the constant bashing of Myers-Briggs on this site! How much of this is because it was created by two women?
            The Meyers-Briggs test was created during World War II to help place women who had never worked a job before in jobs appropriate to their personalities. It worked for that, and I have personally found it useful. It’s still around because people are still finding it useful!
            It was not created to impress a bunch of snobs who look down on everything that hasn’t been approved by the establishment.

            1. DJ Abbott*

              To continue my thought, this is a phenomenon I’ve seen over and over. In music it’s “[Band Name] aren’t real musicians”. In art it’s “[Artist Name] isn’t a real artist.”
              What’s really going on is people are making themselves feel superior by choosing someone to look down on and not accept into their group.
              That’s what’s happening with Meyers-Briggs. I’ve never seen them mentioned here without the disclaimer that they were not real scientists. They stepped up and did a valuable service when the country needed them, and they deserve respect. Could you have done what they did with no formal training?
              Also it always startles me when commenters here do that, because you all are obviously smart, competent, knowledgeable people and you don’t have to dismiss other smart competent people for that to be true.

        4. Anonymous4*

          I went to that site, had a look around, and now I’m nauseated. I expect that someone thought, “Oh, that’s so nice — we’ll do that!” Someone who has Precious Moments figurines on her desk, and just loooooves Thomas Kinkade.

          Anyone who wants to inflict our department with religiously themed sentimental woo-woo like that is going to be unhappy with the results, but not nearly as unhappy as we would be. There would be an awful lot of, “I’m not comfortable discussing that in a work setting,” and, “I’m sorry, but I don’t understand — what does this have to do with our work assignments?”

          1. CoveredinBees*

            I’m wondering if they found it on a list of personality tests and skimmed the home page but nothing else. The home page makes it look far more broad than the rest of the website and I trust OP’s description of the actual content. I remember getting a link to this and not clicking through when I saw I’d have to pay for the assessment and I was broke.

        5. Annoyed for this one*

          I took a look at the site and wow…just wow. My work has no business knowing about my zest or lack of it. Personally I’m a freaking amazing worker who struggles with depression and anxiety and wouldn’t consider myself even a bit zesty. I’m fiesty and passionate, but this positive psychology BS is so annoying. I think I’d probably end up putting neutral on 2/3 of the test out of protest.

          1. Empress Matilda*

            I have ADHD, so distraction is a pretty constant thing in my life, and yes, I do struggle with self-discipline, tyvm.

        6. 2 Cents*

          Ugh, I had to take one of these personality tests (not this one) at old job and it was ridiculous. I’m sorry you went through this. Fwiw, I’m a practicing Protestant and I wouldn’t want to answer any of those kinds of faith questions (none of your business!) or about my “zest” for life *insert eye roll*

        7. Empress Matilda*

          “My friends always tell me I am a strong but fair leader.”

          Oh, definitely! Literally every day, my friends something like “Oh, Matilda, you are such a strong and fair leader. Thank you for being so wise, and so accepting of our love!!” Honestly it gets a bit tiresome because I don’t like to brag about my accomplishments, but I do feel a profound sense of gratitude every day for my dear friends and their feelings about my leadership qualities.

        8. Batgirl*

          Is this supposed to be a test for primary school children? It’s just terrible! Even the non spiritual questions are just woefully twee. Like “I am never too busy to help a friend” is ridiculous. Every adult is sometimes busy, unless we’re talking life and death. Also “I am a grateful person” is just terrible without the context and nuance of what you’re supposed to be grateful for. It’s also none of work’s business. I might see myself using it for my tween students who still need basic “how to be a nice person” socialisation but I’d be mortified to put this in front of professionals. Is this Via company really who your bosses have turned to? Are they that clueless on how to judge your character? A case of the incompetent leading the incompetent.

        9. Elizabeth West*

          In my opinion and experience, the mere fact that your company’s management has swallowed the heaping spoonful of bullshit these kinds of personality tests present is a bigger concern than the questions contained herein. None of them contain any value whatsoever.

          It’s bad enough when the tests are free, let alone when an employer pays actual money for them. They may be marketed as character or team-building, but what they really are is screening, and not in a good way. To use one that veers so close to religious screening gives me the heebie-jeebies. I would seriously side-eye my company for this.

    3. Ashkela*

      Honestly, if you don’t want to bring it up with regards to religion, you could address it as mental health things as well. A lot of those questions also sound like things you are asked daily in a psychiatric ward, or in that mental health check they give you the first time you go to a new doctor’s office. Depending on how the office is, that might work better, though it (unfortunately) runs its own risks in terms of reactions.

      I say this as someone raised Orthodox Presbyterian, excommunicated at 13, and now Wiccan. I can and have played the devout Christian for a short period of time to get through an awkward moment or meeting with a client, but I definitely consider it worth any capital to keep proselytizing out of my office. Though of course in my case, I just start talking about my own beliefs and wait for someone to complain (invariably someone will) and well then, double standards much?

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Sometimes churches will toss out an entire family because of the actions of one family member, so there’s that.

          Framing it as MH, is just as poor, that’s my thought. To my way of thinking a person either can do the job or they can’t. They are either trainable or they are not. If the job involves thinking through life situations, there are other ways to measure people’s compassion and insight. Then there is and another step and that is their willingness to even have/use compassion and insight.

          1. Ashkela*

            Sorry, I meant that if they wanted to push back without bringing up religion, they could push back on the grounds of it being MH stuff. Definitely either way to push back.

          1. Ashkela*

            Lol apparently my first answer was too long or something else (sorry Alison!). I supported my parents when they decided to formally leave the church due to them demanding my unborn half sister be given up for adoption. As a full member at that age, my choice counted as strongly as theirs and when they rejected my parents’ member resignation, they excommunicated all of us.

        2. straws*

          I’m not the commenter, but I was essentially excommunicated at age 14 from my church (we weren’t told to not attend but were essentially ignored by other members). It may not be as interesting as you think. In my case, it was due to the actions of my father and the entire family was treated differently by association. It was especially difficult for my mother and younger sibling, who really could have used the support of one of the few support systems they had (as the church preferred it) during a difficult time for our family.

          1. Curmudgeon in California*

            Yeah, my church when I was a teen started treating us all differently when my parents got divorced – they picked sides, and just about shat themselves all over my mom when she moved into an apartment with a male roommate (separate bedrooms, no hanky panky.) I left the church soon after that. I’m Pagan, mostly Asatru, now.

    4. Double A*

      So, I’m an atheist, though I wasn’t raised religious so I never had to reject any set of beliefs in the course of developing my own. I’m from California, which is kind of the epicenter of “spiritual but not religious,” so I take these questions at face value that they are asking about general spirituality and not Christianity or even theism specifically.

      From the examples you gave, I don’t find them offensive or really to be pushing religion at all; I don’t think “faith” is inherently religious. Presumably this is a test where they ask you a bunch of questions, and some you’d answer yes, and others you’d answer no. Because faith is a non-issue for you, you’d answer “No” to questions that asked if it’s important, just like you’d answer “No” to a question about if you like crowded parties if that’s not your style.

      Respectfully, it sounds to me that you are struggling some with your atheism, and I understand that it can be a tender subject when you have rejected the religion of your upbringing as you’ve realized your atheism. If this personality assessment is the only time this issue has come up at work, I would try to let it go. If that doesn’t feel right, I would suggest digging a bit differ about what this is triggering in you. Is it really about work? Or is it perhaps triggering some fears about your place in other structures (family, community) in your life? If it is about work, is there something pervasive happening that feels threatening to your non-religious identity?

      This just seems like a small thing, and I find usually when a small thing is bothering us, it’s because it’s symbolic of a bigger issue.

      1. Not Always Right*

        I agree with you. I AM a Christian, and I do not believe these questions are religious in nature. I totally agree that these questions are asking about general spirituality and fall under the spiritual but not religious umbrella. Honestly, I despise these types of questions because they are so NOT a Christian thing. The one time I took this type of “quiz” I simply wrote N/A and moved on. I never got any feedback on them but YMMV.

        1. ThursdaysGeek*

          I don’t know if I agree with the point you are replying to, but I do agree with one of your points: this does not sound Christian to me (as a Christian and evangelical no less), but it DOES sound Christian to those who are not – the ‘spirituality’ and ‘religiosity’ seems to offend all.

          I agree that it is out of place in a work setting. In psychology, it’s reasonable to ask about spiritual leanings (or lack thereof), but not at work.

      2. Eliza*

        I mean, for me at least, that kind of test bothers me because I’m neither spiritual nor religious and I don’t particularly think that spirituality is a “strength”. If the people making and administering the test think that it is a strength, and I don’t have it, does that mean that I’m going be judged as having a “weakness”?

        1. UKDancer*

          I would agree. I’m not spiritual and I’m not religious and I don’t think spirituality is a strength. The people who set this questionnaire clearly think it is. So I’d be judged as lacking on this scale. The last thing I would want is work trying to make me more spiritual or viewing this as something to work on. I mean I’m happy to work on the things I do less well at work (making pivot tables for example) but I’m not happy for them to decide I need to be more spiritual and view this as something they should be involved in changing.

          1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

            I’m not spiritual though I am religious and I still don’t think spirituality is a strength. I may have misunderstood what is meant by “spiritual”, in fairness.

            I agree with another poster that there’s far too much overlap with mental health monitoring questionnaires which are 100% not what I expect to be filling in at work.

          2. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

            Seriously. Don’t have a spiritual atom in my body and don’t see the problem with that. It isn’t an area to improve. Its presence or absence doesn’t make me better or worse at any part of my life. Only time I could see this being valid in the workplace (or anywhere else honestly) is for spiritual leaders of any type. For that role, spirituality is necessary, but for everyone else I see it as more of an interest/hobby/comfort

          3. bomm*

            The survey is about self-identifying areas you value in yourself. The assumption behind it is that people thrive when they lead from areas of strength rather than trying to develop weaknesses. Positive psychology in general seems to about cultivating areas of joy vs focusing on areas of weakness. Spirituality brings some joy, but on the test, it falls under the large category of Transcendence, which includes humor and aesthetic appreciation among other things — none of which might apply to any single individual. I am very skeptical of how workplaces might use tests like these, but I also think OP would be better off asking questions about the test than protesting its religious nature, since I think that premise is wrong.

        2. Psych Pony*

          Many modern tests don’t really measure true strengths in the classical meanings of the term. But they define a strength as something that you have and that’s not detrimental.
          Spirituality is a strength in the sense that for people who have it, it can be a source for motivation or creativity. While not being spiritual isn’t necessarily a bad thing or a weakness. You might as well have other strengths instead that can motivate you or boost your creativity.
          The reason why it is included in some questionaires isn’t to pinpoint how religious you are, it is often just part of a personal self-evaluation and meant to help you find out where your drive comes from and what motivates you, so you can understand yourself better.
          Which case it is here is impossible to say without knowing the whole thing. But it can be quite valuable to learn what drives you and where to draw from and what motivates you in your everyday life.

          1. Eliza*

            Even taking all of that at face value, it’s hard to trust that I could give completely honest answers in a work context and not be judged for them. It doesn’t seem like an appropriate tool to use in the workplace.

            1. misspiggy*

              Yes. Doing the test and reflecting on it at home? Whatever. Sharing results with anyone at work? No.

              I’ve never been asked what motivates me in any work context, although I work in organisations with ethical ‘missions’. I would never disclose my motivations, because they’re nobody else’s business.

              1. allathian*

                For me, it’s the paycheck I get every month. And being able to work with professional coworkers and managers, who are also mostly pleasant people, doing tasks that make me feel like I’ve accomplished something.

            2. Amethystmoon*

              Right, I would feel the need to lie through my teeth. Anything that claims you can only have “character” if you are religious (and I assume it must be a mainstream one) is already prejudiced against unbelievers.

          2. ecnaseener*

            The people designing the test might understand that, but the people interpreting the results (ie whichever kooky C-suiter thought this was a good idea plus all the random middle managers tasked with going over their reports’ results) are most likely going to take “strengths” at face value.

          3. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

            I took it for s*** and giggles and it calls the weak areas “lesser strengths” and for $49.99 I can pay to learn how to improve in those areas. Sounds like this folks who developed this use “lesser strengths” as a euphonism for weaknesses. Otherwise why pay to improve?

          4. Nihil Scio*

            Measuring ‘spirituality’ based on what amounts to a personality test seems completely unprofessional. Spirituality has no place in the workplace (unless that workplace is specifically religious).

            Revealing your personal beliefs to your bosses and coworkers is much like revealing your mental health. Unless you trust them completely, it can open you to up to possibly being ‘othered’ and treated differently as a result. In teacher terms, this is called bullying.

            Also, nice as it is to think of spirituality as a motivator for creativity, following the ancient doctrine of a specific religion or believing that a tin foil hat can connect you to the universe has no impact on how effective and compliant you are at your work. (Ex-Catholic, artist, retired teacher who has given and taken many ‘tests’, the results of which should be taken with a pound of salt but often aren’t).

        3. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          Same. It can make people feel stronger, but its presence/absence doesn’t make you a better or worse person.

      3. Dark Macadamia*

        I don’t think being uncomfortable assessing their spirituality in a presumably secular workplace means they’re uncomfortable with their spirituality in private. That’s a weird take.

        1. IrishMN*

          Yes, as an atheist I agree with you Dark Macadamia. I’m perfectly comfortable with my (lack of) belief and I would be very uncomfortable with these questions. The terminology used is very clearly Christian in nature. I also like what Eliza said. I think it’s pretty clear that if you put your level of “spirituality” at 0/10, that’s going to be seen as “something you need to work on.” Which is ridiculous for a workplace.

      4. Palya*

        I say this with respect, and a 9.9 on the Dawkins scale.

        Questions about spirituality have no place in the workplace. And if an organization is stupid enough to pose them in a survey, they’re likely to be equally stupid enough to take it badly if someone pushes back.

        1. NotMy(Fancy)RealName*

          That’s a pretty strong score since the Dawkins scale tops out at 7. :) I’m a 6.5 myself.

      5. PrettyAnon*

        Since spirituality is like dictionary defined as being concerned with the human soul I would say it’s pretty linked to the umbrella of religion. My ‘soul’ ain’t got no place in a work assessment unless it’s about soul comma music.

        1. The Face*

          Yes, totally. I’m an atheist and was raised an atheist and spirituality and religion sure seem like the same thing to me. I always assumed those people who said ‘I’m spiritual but not religious’ were defining religious as Christian because believing in spiritual things/a spirit/a soul is a religious belief! But in any case both of them make me extremely uncomfortable and have absolutely no place in the workplace.

          1. allathian*

            Yeah, I’m a secular humanist, and I agree up to a point. I see religion as something fairly or very organized, and spirituality as something much more individual.

            1. The Face*

              Oh, interesting. To me it would still be religion, whether organised or not. Hence the need for the term ‘organised religion’.

          2. Amethystmoon*

            Sometimes it means they have stopped believing but don’t want to admit it. Or might be a deist but not Christian.

      6. Bamcheeks*

        I could definitely understand this reading of the test but that still raises the question, what the heck is the reasoning behind ysj it in the workplace? Why would I need to know any of this stuff about colleagues, or discuss it with them?

        It might well be an appropriate til to use in something like individual career coaching when you’re identifying your personal strengths and motivations and thinking about what you want from life. But it’s gathering a bunch of information that’s just not useful in an organisational context. I don’t care about Maeve from Accounting’s personal experience of faith, or how grateful and fulfilled Otis feels when he wakes up each morning.

        Even if you don’t read it as religious, it’s wildly overstepping and intrusive for work to ask about, just the same as all those well-being tests that ask intrusive questions about mental health.

        1. Sara without an H*

          This. Whether the test is scientifically valid or not, I’m very skeptical that it’s going to yield anything useful in the average work place and the odds of abuse are very high indeed. I would want to know why this test was chosen and how the results would be used. And I wouldn’t fill it out until I got satisfactory answers to those questions.

      7. anone*

        Or sometimes things are just proportionately bothersome because they are bothersome things and not “symbolic of a bigger issue”?

        I’d be very upset by being asked to respond to a questionnaire like that because it’s not appropriate. It’s invasive and is making all kinds of unwarranted value judgements (you better believe that surveys like those get interpreted as having “right” and “wrong” answers–it’s literally defining certain things as “strengths”, with the absence of them presumably being “weaknesses”, and according to who are those definitions appropriate?) that are none of an employer’s business (literally). I have hosted retreats for people’s employees and I would never, ever, ever use such a boundary-crossing practice. When I do invite in anything that might be considered a “spiritual” kind of approach (like anything to do with inviting people to be embodied and present in a space can bring up connections to spirituality for many people), I carefully use language meant to give people latitude in how they interpret and put that into practice for themselves and I do not use psuedo-scientific BS to label people’s “strengths” through inane surveys.

        Also, folks who are Christian or have been raised in Christian-dominated spaces even if they aren’t actively Christian now, never seem to get that framings like the ones in this test are *not* neutral. They are *very* Christian-influenced because that’s what’s normalized in places like the US.

        1. CoveredinBees*

          Yes! I grew up in northern CA in an area that was heavy into “spiritual not religious” and these questions rang as very Christian-originating to me. Probably because I’m religious but not Christian so I have a lot of experience of how different theological framing is in other religions. So many people from Christian-dominated areas (eg North America and Europe) seem to think other religions follow the same framework as Christianity but without the Jesus-y bits and someone else in their place. This is no more true than differing languages all having the same grammar but different vocabulary.

          1. quill (and the bees agree with me)*

            A very good analogy, but now I think OP needs some help declining this religion in their workplace.

            (Sorry, took Latin, declensions were the bane of my existence.)

      8. Lena Clare*

        I completely disagree! It’s normal to be upset at this questionnaire because – unless OP works in a religious or spiritual setting – it had got NOTHING to do with a work environment, and the employer making the employee do this in some kind of ‘retreat’ is boundary violating.

      9. Lily Rose*

        It seems to me that OP is struggling with people rummaging around in their non-work-related beliefs (or lack thereof). Double A, your speculation about what this MEANS is more or less EXACTLY what they’re uncomfortable with — which perhaps demonstrates that they are right to be concerned about how their workplace will respond to the survey.

        1. Expiring Cat Memes*

          Yes. I was raised Christian and now identify as atheist/undefined – and I agree with you and I also agree with what Double A said about this being triggering. As a minor, religion was heavily forced on me by family and school, and I was SO relieved to escape that. There’s a definite comfort that comes with the agency of adulthood and the ability to simply say no to it. To feel echoes of that coercion in the power dynamic at work, a place where I ostensibly choose to be, would unquestionably create a problem for me.

          But triggering or not, actually religious vs broadly spiritual or not, it’s beside the point. Work simply has no damn business asking anything about my spirituality.

          If it were me walking into that retreat, I’d be going in armed with the phrases “and this is relevant to my work, how..?”, “this sounds religious in nature so I’ll be opting out” and *stone cold silence with my best judgy side-eye* – but I also have zero chill left when it comes to this.

        2. Everything Bagel*

          Agreed, drawing the conclusion that the letter writer is struggling with their atheism is frankly ridiculous and is not answering the question that’s being asked here. It is absolutely out of bounds to be asking employees about there spirituality or religion, in my opinion. How is having any kind of spirituality related to one’s job unless it’s working for a religious organization?

        3. Dark Macadamia*

          Yep. It doesn’t actually matter how LW feels about their beliefs or why the questions bother them, because the problem is that the questions shouldn’t be asked in the workplace at all. I would’ve responded to this survey differently at different points in my life, but I would never feel that it was appropriate or relevant to my job because it’s objectively not.

      10. Bagpuss*

        I’m agnostic and it very definitely reads as religious to me. And even if you argue that it’s in the ‘spiritual not religious’ category, it’s still wildly intrusive and inappropriate in/ for the workplace (unless your job is directly relation to religion or belief)

        And I think even if I were religious, or considered myself to be deeply spiritual, or both, I would *still* consider this to be intrusive and inappropriate in a workplace or work-related event.

        Whether or not I like crowded parties might, conceivably, be relevant to my role at work, as the extent to which, and situations where, I am a ‘people person’ may be relevant to how I interact with coworker or clients. My personal beliefs and religious practices are not, and they are private.

        I would object to answering ‘no’ just as much as answering ‘yes’ because it is none of my employers business.

        And it’s offensive and inappropriate in that it is based on the premise that belief 9whether in a specific deity or a more general ‘some else’ is a positive and therefore not doing so, not saying , or being indifferent is a negative.

        OP, obviously you know your own workplace and bosses but if you feel that you can, I would definitely say something .

        1. londonedit*

          Yeah, statements like ‘My faith makes me who I am’ definitely read as religious to me. And they’re leading questions – if you answer ‘no’ that’s clearly the wrong answer. I don’t have any faith – which is a word I’d strongly connect with religion – and to me it sounds like that would mean I’d ‘fail’ this test.

          1. RabidChild*

            THIS. I’d also wonder at the nature of this retreat—results of these questionnaires are, I imagine, going to be the basis of the discussions and breakouts, which might mean that people will also be asked to engage at a certain level based on their personal results. Which means your coworkers may therefore know where you fall on whatever measurement or scale the retreat’s facilitators are pushing.

            I’d be wondering why the company thought this subject matter important enough to pay for everyone to attend, and what that says about the company. I don’t know how long you’ve worked there OP, but if it were me this would alter my opinion of the place.

            1. RabidChild*

              I meant to add: I hope you will update us and let us know your experience at the retreat. I personally hate these things because even if they’re useful the companies I’ve worked for never back them up with action so what was the point other than ticking the training-as-benefit box for everyone at once and using up budget that might be better used for allowing folks to attend conferences or whatever

            2. londonedit*

              Definitely – I’ve never heard of the idea of going on a ‘retreat’ with work, certainly not one that seems to be based on religion/faith/spirituality. I’ve done awaydays and team-building and strategy days and whatnot, but never a ‘retreat’ and I’d find that weird unless the company was in a sector where it made more sense (like maybe they ran yoga studios or something, but even then I’d expect it to be yoga-based and not faith-based).

              (I’d also fail the ‘I never give in to temptation’ question. Who the heck can say ‘yes’ to that??)

              1. UKDancer*

                I would also fail at this as I often give into temptation. Also I don’t wake up excited for each day. I wake up excited for my impending cup of coffee. Once I’ve had these I may feel excited but it depends on the day. This survey was obviously written by a morning person.

                1. Bagpuss*

                  I *am* a morning person and I don’t generally wake up excited for each day. It just means that I can wake up, and get up, fairly early without feeling like I am wading through treacle, and can form coherent sentences even before I have my first cup of coffee. I mean, the sentence might not be very polite, if you are standing between me and that cup of coffee, but it will be well-articulated and have actual, relevant words in it.

                  (keep me awake too late at night, on the other hand, and my mental and motor functions go down very steeply, just as the Night Owls are ready o start the evening!)

                2. allathian*

                  @Bagpuss, ran out of nesting.

                  Yeah, I’m the same way. If I’m expected to be up much beyond 11 pm, I can only do it if I’m fueled by plenty of coffee, or just enough alcohol to maintain a nice buzz, or preferably both.

                  I normally wake up at around 6 am, sometimes earlier, and now that I’m WFH, I’m normally at my desk by 7, raring to go after my second cup of coffee. This doesn’t mean I generally wake up excited for each day…

              2. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

                ‘I never give into temptation’

                Me, on my 8th cup of tea at 10:30am: ‘errr…..’

                1. UKDancer*

                  Tea isn’t a temptation, it’s an essential fuel to keep one going so that definitely doesn’t count in my opinion. This reminds me I need to put the kettle on.

                2. Expiring Cat Memes*

                  What even is “giving into temptation” at work anyway..? Oh no, I never give in to the temptation to correct my manager’s typo! I never give into the temptation to overshoot the parking meter by 5 minutes! I never give into the temptation to decline an unnecessary meeting by saying I have too much work on! It’s just such a comedically pious question.

                3. ellex42*

                  Even the word “temptation” has religious connotations, particularly in light of the rest of the questionnaire. What one person might consider “temptation”, I consider a part of maintaining good mental health.

                  Is that slice of cake good for me? No. Do I need it? No. Will it make me feel good? YES.

                  Or, to move away from food and to an actual recent event, was I tempted by that lovely, soft alpaca wool hat? Yes. Did I need it? Not really. Would it make me happy? Yes. Did I buy it, even though it was a little expensive (compared to what I would usually buy)? You know I did.

              3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

                Our management team did a year-end “retreat,” in the sense that we got together in a setting that was away from work and we were more or less free of distractions and able to put some uninterrupted focus time as a group toward addressing specific topics. The closest we got to team building was a (really good) chocolate cake, and no spirituality involved at all.

              4. Rebecca1*

                I’ve never heard the term “awayday” in the US. It sounds like what we would call a work retreat!

          2. Sparrow*

            Not only with religion, but with certain specific religions (probably Christianity in this case). I don’t have any faith either even though I’m religious, because my religion doesn’t put much emphasis on “faith” as a concept.

      11. Leaping*

        As a atheist, to me religion is a subset of spirituality and spirituality is not applicable to me.

        1. Ermintrude*

          Me also. I don’t link awe, quiet enjoyment and contemplation of life and the Universe as spiritual for me.

        2. Dark Macadamia*

          Yeah, if you look at the link to the survey their description of the “spirituality strength” is trying really hard not to sound explicitly religious while repeatedly using the words “sacred” and “divine.” I may find wonder in the ocean or purpose in helping my community but I would NOT use any of those words to describe that sensation.

          1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

            A decent cup of tea is what I call ‘sacred’ or ‘divine’ but doubt that’s what they have in mind :p

            (I’m Wiccan but always up for being phenomenally sarcastic on employment questions I deem ridiculous)

      12. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        How about if they asked ‘do you think having children is important?’. My childfree self would answer ‘no’ but it doesn’t mean I’m struggling with my choice.

        People’s personal lives and decisions thereof are not the business of their employer. What people do or don’t count as ‘faith’ isn’t any business of the employer. People’s medical decisions are not the business of the employer….etc.

        Basically the instant a company starts prying into my personal life I reserve the right to get offended.

      13. birch*

        Uh, no. Your spirituality/faith/beliefs or lack thereof, regardless of religion, is absolutely none of your employer’s business, precisely because people can and do use it, explicitly or implicitly, to discriminate. The language is definitely religious (“temperance” “faith” and “not giving into temptation” are all religiously coded language) and the concepts themselves are also none of your employer’s business. There is no work-related reason for your employer to need to know what you believe or how much you “give in to temptation”–like, what temptation? Extra snacks from the breakroom? Cheating on your partner? Struggling with substance abuse? There is literally no “temptation” in your life that is your employer’s business. No life struggles, personal goals, personality traits or beliefs are an employer’s business until they directly affect your work.

        Can we please stop normalizing the idea that employers are entitled to your private inner life?!

          1. The Face*

            Sorry I should have been more specific above. I was building on birch’s point by pointing out that “temperance” “faith” and “not giving into temptation” are not only specifically religious references, but specifically Christian, especially the first and the third.

        1. Moral Center, my patootie*

          In my younger brassier days, I told someone that I was an atheist. She told me that she didn’t know how to act around me since she now knew that I didn’t have a moral center. What? I told her that I was the same person with my own moral center. I further told her that if the only thing that was making her do the right thing was “Santa in the sky”, she was the one lacking a moral center.

          Needless to say, we didn’t talk much afterwards. Not a big loss to me, but it taught me to not reveal my status.

          And as an ex-Catholic, there is nothing so bitter as an ex-Catholic towards organized (or disorganized) religion. Which is not to say that the OP is wrong, just that her BS (Dewey Decimal classification of religion) detector is enhanced.

      14. Lady_Lessa*

        Thank you for your insight, I was seeing it similarly, but from very different glasses. I was an Evangelical Christian, now Roman Catholic.

        The buzz words that would alarm me are from the Evangelical worldview.

        FYI, I am firmly against talking too much about religion and faith at work, unless it comes up naturally.

      15. Richard Hershberger*

        I agree that a lot of the language here is not typical of Christianity in any traditional sense, but some strains of Christianity–even ones that imagine themselves to be conservative–push the boundaries with “spiritual but not religious,” making it hard to be sure where this is coming from. I am mostly offended by the obvious gibberish.

      16. Not So NewReader*

        Bingo. Triggering is right. These questions can get me thinking deeper about my own life and my own self when I need to just do my job. I don’t expect a therapy session when I go to work. It’s invasive. Eh, but I’d say the same thing of the test if it was given at church, so there is that.

        Part of life is to consider what we are doing and why. That’s normal. But we each need to do that on our own terms and in our own ways. It’s irresponsible of the employer to drag up stuff that should be handled in private.

      17. Cthulhu's Librarian*

        It doesn’t matter how you take the questions, or how much you don’t mind being subjected to this sort of cow manure.

        What matters is how the OP took it, and how they felt about being subjected to it.

        Would you tell someone that they’re struggling with their heritage if they objected to a test about “you might be a redneck if”? Or that they’re struggling with their religion if they were given a work quiz labeled “Signs you might be in a cult?”

        There’s more than one way to be an atheist, and the desire to never be subjected to religion and spirituality is a perfectly valid way to be one. Please try not to invalidate the OPs desire to live their life their way.

      18. Jay*

        I’m spiritual and religious and that test would not just bother me – it would make me very uncomfortable, bordering on unsafe. I’m Jewish. I’m completely comfortable with my own belief and practice and also quite aware that we are a minority in the US. The language in the test and on the website is Christian – it’s pretending not to be, and I’m sure it doesn’t represent everyone who identifies as Christian, but it comes from Christian tradition. In the US a lot of Christian traditions and thought are so normalized and widespread that the Christian roots get lost.

        I’ve done a variety of assessments at work and for other reasons. They’re not all useful and they’re not valid in any truly scientific sense but the worst thing about any of the ones I’d done is that they wasted my time. None of them made me feel targeted or unsafe. This one would. I would absolutely push back. And I’d consider looking for a new job. This is not a small thing.

        1. Rebecca1*

          I mentioned above, it is so odd to me that the language is so Christian when Martin Seligman is Jewish.

          1. pancakes*

            So were many of the writers of many classic Christmas songs. It isn’t all that odd for people to find a market for work that doesn’t directly reflect their own beliefs.

      19. Metadata minion*

        And then on the flip side I’m religious — Jewish — and I don’t think of “faith” as being a particularly core part of my practice or of my life in general. For me that word has very, very Christian overtones that often don’t map well to other religions.

        In the colloquial sense I could say that I have faith in my ability to do something or whatever, but that’s not a word I would normally use and it doesn’t sound like that’s what the test is even going at.

        1. CoveredinBees*

          Yeah. Faith isn’t a necessary part of Judaism the way it is in Christianity. Personally, I love it this way. You don’t lose part of your identity (or possibly even get kicked out) if you stop believing, either permanently or temporarily. Or if maybe you believe some of it but not all.

          I just finished reading a memoir* and the writer was raised LDS and was very happy in it. At some point, he stopped being able to believe in LDS teachings enough that he felt comfortable participating in LDS activities. It also meant he was less able to engage with parts of his social circle (not being shunned but simply not going to LDS activities meant seeing certain people less). This loss was very painful for him, even when his family and local bishop were kind and understanding. This was fascinating because my exact beliefs or “faith” have changed over time and make me no more or less Jewish.

          *The World’s Strongest Librarian. A great book about living with Tourette’s.

      20. ecnaseener*

        I actually read a specifically Christian slant to the example questions, at least from my perspective as a Jew. Mainly the one about “faith” — a very Christian-or-at-least-not-Jewish concept that doesn’t really fit into the framework of what Judaism is for — and the one about “temptation,” which is strongly associated with ideas of a Devil figure deliberately tempting people to evil, again mostly absent from Judaism.

        Not that these concepts are COMPLETELY absent from Judaism, don’t @ me, but they wouldn’t be factored into a measurement of Jewish spirituality.

      21. pancakes*

        Fellow atheist, fwiw, here. I wouldn’t say that I find these questions offensive, but I also don’t think they have any place in a work context. Unless the letter writer and their coworkers work for a church or some other sort of religious organization, this questionnaire is weird, intrusive, and doesn’t have anything to do with their ability to do their jobs. Being asked to complete it by an employer should bother anyone who wants their work assessed fairly and professionally, and/or anyone who doesn’t want pop psychology mixed in with their work.

        1. Leilah*

          What I find offensive is that if you answer in the negative to any of these religious or spiritual questions, they tell you that’s a weakness. They even say on their website that these things are necessary for a good life, necessary to thrive, necessary to be a good person. I am really appalled by that concept, and I am *especially* appalled that they would judge me as a good/not good person on that *at work*.

          1. pancakes*

            There isn’t any aspect of it that I like or respect, and I definitely wouldn’t want to be subjected to it at work, but “offensive” just wouldn’t be my first or main objection. If people with poor judgement to start with want to rely on shoddy tests or shoddy thinking to judge me, of course I’m not likely to agree with their assessment, but given the limitations of their mindset and the process, I wouldn’t exactly be any happier if they reached a different result, if that makes sense. It’s the whole mindset that’s a problem, not just the conclusions they reach.

      22. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        Huh, interesting. To me this is 100% explicitly, religious: “spirituality involves the belief that there is a dimension to life that is beyond human understanding.” and the use of the word “sacred” over and over and over. Belief in something greater than human understanding isn’t belief in physics of math and the mechanics of the universe, because those are understandable. So it is saying that there is something, call it God, Karma, Gaia, Nature, Ancestral Spirits, or whatever, it is a belief that there is an unknown higher power shaping your world. If that ain’t religion, then what is?

      23. Batgirl*

        Personal inner beliefs, or lack of beliefs, are not a small thing to be shared whenever, wherever. They are also quite simply not an employers business.

      24. Curmudgeon in California*

        IMO, the bigger issue here is that they are asking about “spirituality” in a workplace setting. That would make me uncomfortable, even though I *am* religious, just not Christian. Discussing “spirituality” as a stand in for religion still is inappropriate in a workplace context.

        It doesn’t matter why the letter writer has an issue with it. It is an issue because it drags something very personal and individual into the workplace where it doesn’t belong.

        There are three things that are not appropriate for workplace discussion, IMO:
        1. Sex/Sexuality
        2. Religion/”Sprituality”
        3. Politics

        1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

          ‘The goddess of IT equipment that I serve has rules against answering personal questions like that’

          (I’m only half joking. I’m convinced there’s a chaos entity involved in IT…)

      25. emmelemm*

        Yeah, no. I’m not religious, was not raised religious, I’m perfectly comfortable being an atheist and non-religious. What I’m not comfortable with is *clearly* religiously coded things being introduced to a place they don’t belong, like my place of employment.

      26. AnotherLibrarian*

        I think it’s super presumptuous to assume this rubbing someone the wrong way means they are struggling with their atheism. As someone who worked for many years for a religious college, and was not the same religion as the college where I worked, all of those examples scream coded Christian Language to me. At my old job, that would have been fine (we were a private religious college), but at a secular workplace this has no place.

    5. Ermintrude*

      Some of what OP 5 highlighted about the questionnaire are hecking ableist, and reeeaaally not anyone’s business for the asking.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        Oh boy yes. I’ve got more mental illnesses than limbs and a lot of those questions would show I have them…which is something I do not want any employer knowing.

        1. Ermintrude*

          Oops, I meant to append that to a comment I made upstream. But I think the questionnaire is disgustingly abeist a well as intrusive.

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      I can’t be the only one who thought “Obviously this retreat is going to be spent slaying a vampire army.” Like the CEO recently bought a ranch, and discovered it is a portal to the ghostly realms, and figures he can combine the work retreat with the vampire clearing?

      It is not a you-problem. I would be worried if work identified a work problem that they felt could best be tackled by transcendance.

      1. Anonymous4*

        Y’know, when I was interviewing NO ONE asked me about my level of transcendence. It wasn’t something they were interested in, and there is in fact no requirement for transcendence in my job description, nor is it discussed in my annual reviews.

        It might be kind of interesting to point this out, ask when the interest in transcendence emerged, and inquire as to how it would be scored for use in determining raises and promotions.

        If they insist on a circus, there has to be elephants —

      2. L.H. Puttgrass*

        My thoughts about the retreat had nothing to do with a vampire army. I was wondering if the test was a pre-assessment for a conversion attempt. Get everyone together in a remote-ish location, and all the proper God-fearing Christians can bring the heathens (sorry, “stray sheep” or whatever the current lingo is) into the fold.

        Or maybe I’ve been to one too many “social” events that turned out to be evangelism.

      3. quill (and the bees agree with me)*

        I wonder if I can use the periodic table to fight vampires? I’m very convinced of that as factual…

    7. allathian*

      All the religious and spiritual verbiage in the test makes me really uncomfortable. To me all that is completely meaningless, so I’d utterly fail at it. Oh, I can feel awestruck by many things, including art, or a particularly spectacular landscape, or the intricate workings of the universe, but I don’t ascribe any of that to either a higher power, or a human soul for that matter.

      Regardless of my beliefs, though, I don’t think any of these discussions have any place in a secular workplace. I’d certainly feel judged for my lack of faith and spirituality in that sort of context.

    8. anonymous73*

      I would push back HARD. What exactly is the purpose of this retreat? Because unless the retreat is going to be some religious cleansing, I don’t really understand the point of the assessment, and then the retreat would a hard NO.

      If you don’t feel comfortable pushing back alone, I’m sure you have co-workers feeling the same way and there’s strength in numbers.

    9. Epsilon Delta*

      Also a former Catholic turned atheist. I would be quitting over this because it would make me feel unsafe. Where on the scale of “walk out immediately” to “quietly search until I find a great job” I’d fall would depend on how the people at the company acted otherwise, but this is not a welcoming environment. Nor would I be interested in discussing (justifying) my lack of spirituality at a retreat with coworkers. So no, you’re not overreacting.

    10. Mockingjay*

      OP 1, perhaps you could ask what led your company to choose this particular test. I think the answer will be enlightening and help you decide next steps.

      The whole situation reminds me of running Vacation Bible School. There are companies that sell nondenominational kits each summer; churches buy them and voila! instant set up for the week, with lesson plans, activities, decorations, and swag. After looking at the link you provided, this VIA seems like a version for corporations: wellness seminar or employee team building in a kit. Your company’s reasoning for using this test – note, I’m veering into speculation here – might be convenience – an easy way to set up the retreat.

      1. pancakes*

        Convenience in itself is not enough to explain this. A lack of discernment is clearly in play as well. There is no shortage of reputable, non-hokum team building exercises.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        I like this theory–it might be less “Our new corporate thing will be to transcend federal regulations as a team” and more “The boss said I had to set up a retreat and look! This company sells packs that plan it for you!”

      3. Sara without an H*

        Never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity. I think you’re onto something, Mockingjay. Maybe someone in HR was tasked to find a plug-&-play team building retreat program and didn’t really look at it?

    11. Member of a leadership development program that used this too*

      Hi OP! For what it’s worth, I also had to take the VIA character strengths survey, also before a company retreat this past fall, and I have a religious -> nonreligious background similar to yours (in broad strokes, at least). I wasn’t bothered by the survey and just marked the spirituality ones low and the “blessings” one medium, since I read it as being about general gratitude. For the retreat in question, we were supposed to be thinking about how our character strengths would help us become leaders in the company, and to my knowledge, the results were passed down from a leadership education partner organization and not shared with anyone I actually work with, though we were invited to discuss results in small groups during the retreat.
      All that said, though, I think you’re completely valid to have a different reaction to it from me! In my organization, at least, this would take little capital to raise but probably more to change. You might make more headway if you suggested an alternative activity for the retreat, but I realize that puts a lot of effort on you.
      If you happen to be in my organization (small world, worth a try), it could also be worthwhile looping in the leadership education partner organization, since I think they set the curriculum.

    12. Student*

      I always treat these kinds of things as corporate versions of horoscopes or tarot cards. If you look at the blurbs for the “strengths”, I bet they are formatted almost exactly like newspaper horoscopes – here’s a list of vaguely good things so you’ll identify with a couple and dismiss the ones that don’t apply; next here’s a list of vaguely bad-but-not-too-bad things so your friends can take a couple light digs at you on something but no one gets really hurt feelings or feels like they actually need to change anything. All the paragraphs are short, with simple vocabulary, so it feels very accessible.

      It makes a couple people running this thing feel really good and makes them think they’re very insightful and clever, and it makes the rest of us roll our eyes and get on with our lives.

    13. Mockingdragon*

      I was on the fence until I realized it was a *graded* kind of test. If it was just personality then you just say no, my faith doesn’t define who I am, etc, done. But if you’re then getting judged on the answers, yech. I’d be horribly uncomfortable, too. I’m sorta pagan and only out about it to very few close friends. I would not feel safe talking about it in a group that directly asked questions like this in order to explain myself.

    14. Kay*

      You are not alone in being uncomfortable with this! I feel like a shower on your behalf! I probably would have “forgotten” to take the test, and might consider bringing this up in different ways depending on what you know of your workplace. One thing I think you could get away with no matter what is going to your boss and saying something like “That test seemed like it went into religious territory – could we be looking at ramifications for religious discrimination if this goes much further?” in a casual way.

      I personally would have gone flaming Karen with a “HOLY $#itballs!! Did anyone actually read this test before sending it out!!?? Who the hell decided we needed a religious discrimination lawsuit to start off 2022?? Has everyone lost their minds or are we all just covid zombies!?” But I am in a unique position to be able to say such things…

    15. Anonforthis*

      I’m religious (Anglican Christian) and my company (which is a for-profit, not a religious organization) does some stuff that crosses a line for me. I believe in pluralism in public discourse, work, and freedom to practice my religion. I’m happy to share my beliefs when appropriate (like, when someone specifically asks me) and I’m not big on proselytizing. But I don’t feel comfortable praying with coworkers at work sponsored events, or having religious stuff thrust on me at work, partly because I know not everyone is an adherent of a religion and I feel uncomfortable on their behalf, and partly because I do not interpret the maxims of my religion in the same way that other people do, and I’m uncomfortable with assumptions made by the religious conservative right about what it means to be a Christian, especially in today’s climate. All that being said, even if I was an adherent of the religion that the retreat was pushing, I would STILL speak up and say “this is all kinds of inappropriate.” I can only imagine how much more uncomfortable it is for someone who isn’t religious at all! Also, I’m sick of “business leaders/consultants’ trying to “hack” religion/spirituality in an attempt to make workers more “productive/fulfilled.” Don’t get me started on that soapbox.

    16. A former psychologist*

      Hi, just wanted to comment to say that I’m familiar with this survey, and it doesn’t come from a Church-affiliated source. It was developed by Martin Seligman, a well-respected psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania. I totally understand feeling uncomfortable sharing this info with your employer, and you know your company better than I do, but I think it’s unlikely their agenda is to promote Christianity (or even religion more generally) with the test. I’m guessing it’s more general corporate “let’s help our employees find their strengths!” stuff.

      1. pancakes*

        Why should anyone who isn’t religious feel at ease about their employer equating spirituality with strength? Even in a general corporate sense?

  7. Dennis Feinstein*

    “my coworker is clipping his nails at work… daily… He is quite the lone wolf…”

    If he’s clipping his nails DAILY he must be quite the lone werewolf!

    1. MK*

      Seriously though, he can’t be clipping his nails daily, he would have completely removed them in a week. He must be doing something else, so maybe the OP can address this as a noise issue.

      1. KateM*

        I was thinking the same – he can’t have that many nails! Maybe he’s clicking his pen, a good many people do that absentmindedly while thinking (what to write next, or just thinking).

        1. Constance Lloyd*

          When I had a coworker who sounded like she was clipping her nails at her desk daily, this is exactly what she was doing. She would absentmindedly flick the little stick portion of her pen cap while deep in thought.

          1. EPLawyer*

            Why I can’t have clicky pens. I will click them. Hubby handed me one when I was at my desk and I told him no, take it away. he didn’t believe me. So I started clicking it. he took it away.

            I have also broken the stick thing on most of my pen caps because I will flick them.

            I work alone and I am the only one its annoys.

        2. Smithy*

          Thinking something similar. Even if this is a man on the most robust nail vitamin regime where there’s something worth cutting every day – I can’t imagine it taking more than a few minutes. Especially if its every day. Whereas pen clicking/flicking could easily go on for far longer and people who have desktop fidgets are generally more common than daily nail clipping.

          Personally, I found changing my desktop fidget item to a slinky to personally be helpful because it is such a distinctive sound I’m more aware that I’m actually doing it.

      2. Rake*

        My father is a life long nail biter. The only way he’s been able to deal with it is obsessively clipping them whenever he gets the urge to chew. His nails are short but he does have them. If I didn’t know that my father’s company is still remote, I would suspect the OP is sitting next to him!

        1. allathian*

          Yeah. My son’s never been a nail biter, but he clips them to the quick. I’m not saying he’s clipping them every day, but several times a week, certainly.

        2. anonymous nailbiter*

          This is also me. If I can’t clip/file I will bite, which is way grosser. I can’t help it, although I do have a silent cuticle trimmer that usually will do the job so at least I try to be quiet about it.

      3. Retired (but not really)*

        I can think of other things that could be making a similar noise – stapler or hole punch immediately come to mind.

      4. Ali G*

        I once thought the guy in the office next to mine was clipping his nails. Turns out he just liked to obsessively click his pen (Click-in, click-out, click-in, click-out). I liked him otherwise and was able to deal with it once I realized he wasn’t gross.

      5. anonymous73*

        Here’s the thing though…the OP says nothing in the letter about it actually bothering her. It sounds like she just wants to bust him on something he shouldn’t be doing at work. Which is kind of crappy on her part, even if people shouldn’t make personal grooming habits at your desk a thing.

        1. Myrin*

          I’d assume that if it didn’t bother OP in some way, whether it be from an “ick” factor, an “office etiquette” factor, or something else entirely, she wouldn’t have written in! But apart from that, the letter doesn’t say anything about “busting him”, either. Personally, it felt more in line with the couple of “Is this weird?” letters we had recently, simply wanting to know Alison’s thoughts.

          1. pancakes*

            Yes, agreed. And if he is routinely clipping his nails at his desk it’s not crappy to ask him to stop.

    2. Arrghhhhh*

      Entirely possible. I sat next to someone who clipped his nails just about daily. The pen clicking sound that he would do sounded different. I am happy that I no longer sit right next to him but I can still hear it from where I do sit. It is a sound that makes my skin crawl.

      1. MK*

        Eh, nails grow a fraction of a millimeter every day. I don’t even know how someone could clip such an infinitesimal fraction of a nail everyday.

        1. Anonymous4*

          Maybe O’Really’s nail grow really fast. Mine do. And the smallest amount of nail growth is a problem — a string player has to have the end of the finger firmly against the string and the neck of the instrument, and nails interfere with that.

        2. Imaginary Friend*

          Hair grows at different speeds on different people. I see no reason why nails would be different. And you’re replying TO the person who says that they clip their nails near-daily by saying that you don’t see how it’s possible.

    3. AnonMom*

      I have a coworker who clips his nails at the office regularly, and he also loves in-shell pistachios as a daily snack. When he cracks the shells open it sounds exactly like nail clipping, but at least that means I have been able to reframe the sound of his nail clipping to “pistachio shells” which I find far less gross to hear in the office daily.

    4. Worldwalker*

      That was my thought! It takes about six months for a human fingernail to grow from base to tip. Assuming he clipped only one nail each day, he’d still be cutting them completely off!

      Unless the OP is seeing blood on his fingers, I think that he must be doing something else that makes a similar sound.

    5. Toenail Joe's Neighbor*

      I worked with a guy who clipped his fingernails AND TOENAILS in our shared work pod! He was a nearly-80-year-old mostly-retired former partner in the company, and I was barely out of college and didn’t feel like I could bring up the issue, so I just made it a habit to keep nothing on the surface of my side of the giant U-shaped desk, and to use a dust brush to dust everything off everything morning, because I became so grossed out that there might be microscopic toenail particles on my desk or keyboard or something.
      It’s disgusting, but some people just seem to not follow the same social norms, and do disgusting-but-not-criminal things.

  8. toenails :(*

    I had a boss once who used to deliberately clip his nails when firing people. Worse? It was his TOE NAILS! He confided to me (I was his EA) that it put people at ease and they wouldn’t know they were about to be let go when they walked into the room. He thought he was ‘casualising’ the setting.

    Just the tip of the iceberg with that psychopath (he basically thought he was the second coming – I could write a novel).

    1. Myrin*

      I have to say that I personally wouldn’t feel at ease at all if I came to see my boss and she was clipping her toenails at her desk. In your situation, either I would already suspect a firing and as such would be tense upon entering, or I wouldn’t suspect a thing and would be casual no matter what. What weird logic!
      (Also, I’m giggling at your username. The emoticon really sells it.)

      1. toenails :(*

        Completely agree! Plus the employee still ends up being fired, and are going to respond however they would normally respond to that…toenails or no toenails.

      2. Lab Boss*

        Maybe it worked by accident. Like, walking in on your boss clipping their toenails is SO banana-crackers that when you realize the meeting is just for something normal like getting fired, you’re too relieved to be upset.

      1. Not All Hares Are Quick*

        Yeah…boss pokes his head out of his office:
        “Hey, , can you fetch my nail clippers please? Oh, and ask to pop into my office.”
        doesn’t break stride on their way out of the building…

        1. Not All Hares Are Quick*

          That didn’t work. How do you get chevrons in there?
          Try again:

          Yeah…boss pokes his head out of his office:
          “Hey, [secretary], can you fetch my nail clippers please? Oh, and ask [co-worker] to pop into my office.”
          [co-worker] doesn’t break stride on their way out of the building…

      2. toenails :(*

        It was a very controlling environment (cult-ish almost) where he liked to foster resentment and ill-will amongst his employees so he could act as a Saviour and mentor them about their ‘failures.’ So, as far as I can tell, not a single person liked each other and therefore wouldn’t be in contact outside of the office.

        Remaining employees were all told it was a resignation and were instructed not to contact them whilst they came to terms with their unemployment.

    2. Expiring Cat Memes*

      ‘Casualising’ it for him, sure. Brutally callous for the person being fired when their livelihood isn’t worth him looking up from his toenails though. Psychopath indeed.

    3. LizB*

      I just whispered “What the f*ck???” to myself upon reading this. In no universe would my boss clipping his toenails in a meeting put me at ease! Wow!!

    4. AnonInCanada*

      Just the tip of the iceberg with that psychopath (he basically thought he was the second coming – I could write a novel

      Putting the popcorn in the microwave as I speak. Clipping your toenails while firing someone? That’s one I never heard before.

    5. ThursdaysGeek*

      Add it to the AAM Novel “Mysterious Secret Knowledge” that will soon be plotted out in an open thread.

  9. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

    OP1: that sounds really similar to a lot of stuff I’ve filled in for psychiatric evaluation. The difference here is that my workplace has no business knowing if I have something wrong with my brain or what I personally believe in.

    The minimum fuss approach I’d probably use is to only fill out the bits you’re comfortable answering (if this is possible) and if asked where the rest is say “those questions were far too personal and I’m not comfortable sharing that level of detail about my private life”

      1. Sara without an H*

        Yes, that’s the beauty of the Likert Scale — just score down the middle, turn it in, and go on about your business.

        If I had $1000 for every one of these I’ve filled out in the course of my career, I could have retired five years ago.

  10. PJH*

    …but deciding to clip all 10 nails…

    Didn’t you mean all 20? (I’m sure we’ve had at least on story on here where that’s happened…..)

  11. Rosacolleti*

    #2 I can’t get past the fact they have NEVER spoken to the person who sits next to them. For me, him clipping his nails is the least of your problems if that’s the culture of the business.

    1. Perplexed Penguin*

      Rosacolleti, my thoughts exactly! Whether they work for the same division or not, it’s just them in that part of the office. I can’t imagine not acknowledging someone in my shared work space for 8 months.

      1. Mockingjay*

        I shared an office for six months with someone who never spoke to or made eye contact with me. It didn’t take long to figure out it was her, not me; she was standoffish with nearly everyone. I did my best to be a considerate office mate, but boy was I glad when I got transferred to a different work site.

        She preferred to do her work quietly then go home, which is fine, of course. But it was like working with a robot and gave me a chilling glimpse of the worst of AI’s predicted futures.

        1. allathian*

          Yeah, that would be awkward. I know I’d prefer at least some acknowledgement of our common humanity from a coworker, even if they preferred to focus on work and avoid all non-work conversations.

          At one point I shared an office with a former coworker who disliked me intensely. The feeling was mutual, but that didn’t help much. When I started my current job, I needed more support than she was either willing or able to provide. It gets weird when you share an office with someone and only communicate by email, and only about work stuff. She was very much not a morning person, and would literally growl at you if you dared to greet her before noon, just as an example. I was very relieved when she quit for another job, because dealing with her made me so anxious that I performed even worse at my job than I would’ve done otherwise. I got thrown in at the deep end, and realized that my manager and my internal clients were satisfied with my work, even if it didn’t always meet my former coworker’s exacting standards. Without her, I relaxed into the role and was able to use my skills better, because I wasn’t working through constant anxiety anymore, even if it took nearly 6 months to recruit a replacement (my employer’s skills profile for my position is different enough from most other employers in the same field that it can be difficult to find a match).

    2. sub rosa for this*

      I worked at a place like that. Big open-plan office, 20-25 of us in there, and no one spoke. Ever. I didn’t even get taken round and introduced on my first day – I just got put into a chair wedged between two other people, and every time I said hello or good morning to anyone, I got that startled-deer-in-headlights look, and no response.

      We communicated entirely by email/Slack and everyone wore headphones. It was weeeeird and I barely made it out with my sanity.

    3. River Otter*

      I worked at a place like that. It was a matrixed environment, so the people on your project who you worked with were not the same as the people who reported to the same manager as you or the people who sat around you. Desks were randomly distributed according to where there was space. So, nobody interacted with their cube neighbors because they had no work reason to, and interaction with your project coworkers tended to happen over email or phone. I am not even the most social or chatty of people, but this was too isolating for me.

  12. Incoming Principal*

    LW3 I thought to share a booking philosophy that seems to work for an external provider (not chef, but hopefully, you can see parallels).
    In my line of work, we have to produce many presentation decks, so sometimes we use graphics freelancers who can beautify the content we make. I have high utilization and also believe in not making my team do graphics if I can have a professional do it in half the time. You might consider me a heavy graphics user, so my favorite graphics guy holds 2 weekly slots for me at all time whether I use them or not.
    We came up with a color coding on the website: Green means available for booking – Orange means that it is a flexible slot i.e. a 4or 6 hours window where clients can book 2 hours, they don’t get to choose the exact hours but the work will be done within that window at the discretion of the graphics designer – Yellow is is typically held for someone (like me the recurring client) but can be booked for another client by request – Blue is booked
    Sorry if that is too complicated, it took me a while to get used to it but I know it made the life of the graphic designers much easier

    1. Ashkela*

      I am not that LW, but that is such a great idea. My booking scheme (for something entirely different, but same concept) just has three options rather than four. I’m so going to add that in!

  13. Onetime Poster*

    #2 :: Nail clipping at work has always bothered me. I’ve also had friend-colleagues who do it and (because of friendship) when discussed, they don’t understand why it’s an issue. Obviously, there’s a difference in gross-factor perspectives. I see it as two things: 1) the sound itself is irritating because of the interruption it produces to other ‘normal’ and expected sounds in the workplace; and 2) the knowledge of what that sound is producing and that we all know that it can be difficult to capture all those flying bits of dead cells, thus creating a sense of, “where is that gnarly nail going to land?” dread.

    I agree, if you need to get a hangnail or rough edge, that’s not an issue. But if you’re sitting there, using your office time to attend to personal grooming, especially that which may produce detritus that flies about the shared space, you’re clueless.

    And I’ve heard tales of those to do toe nails at the office. I can’t even… smh

    1. Covered in Bees*

      I’ve seen people pull off shoes and clip toe nails on the subway. It’s not that the subway was so pristine to begin with, but watching people do that, especially when it’s full and you can’t escape still gives me chills.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Far too many people use the subway as an extension of their bathroom, and nail clipping unfortunately isn’t even the worst way.

        1. I take tea*

          I never mind people doing their make up, because I find it fascinating to watch, not being a make up person myself. But nails feel more private.

    2. Unfettered scientist*

      I’m actually one of the people who isn’t at all bothered by nail clipping. I don’t do it in the office but would honestly be way more annoyed by loud pen clicking or gum chewing. I think I just got used to the sound as a kid. To me it’s weird that that sound gets prioritized as legitimately annoying and the sounds I’m annoyed by are things where the advice would mostly be “at some level you just have to deal with it”. Weird how we draw those lines

      1. Batgirl*

        I don’t know anyone who would tell you to “just deal with it”! As teachers one of the main things we do is try to stop gum chewing in public situations before it becomes an uncontrollably constant habit (It’s a hard habit to break I think), and it’s just obviously rude and annoying to click away at your pen.

  14. Mannheim Steamroller*

    For #4…

    In addition to leaving a separate review, can OP respond to the negative review and call it out as fake? Or are only business owners allowed to respond to reviews?

      1. anonymous73*

        She’s speculating that nobody has held that job since she left, but she doesn’t know for sure. Alison’s advice is best. Then her former company can report it if it’s fake.

  15. MsSolo (UK)*

    I wonder if LW3 could introduce a model of “paying £X per month guarantees you a weekly slot, and gets you a discount of £Current-fee-minus-X on services” so that it works out as the same cost to the clients if they use the service every week, but it feels like they’re getting a discount because they’re subscribing in a way that gives LW some level of income for those slots even if they’re not used. A bit like buying membership to a cinema and getting a discount on tickets.

    1. Anonymous4*

      But the chef is still losing income. If they want to hire a personal chef, that’s great — but monopolizing the chef’s time and paying less is still paying less.

      I think that if someone can afford to hire a personal chef for a weekly session, they can afford to pay for a weekly session, and if they don’t use the chef’s services for a week or two, that’s on them. Maybe the session can be shifted to another day or another time, but I don’t know of any other professional who would have standing appointments that the client can just blow off at the last minute.

  16. Covered in Bees*

    OP1 you aren’t overreacting at all. I’m someone who would describe myself as religious and would be incredibly uncomfortable with this for two main reasons: 1) this it’s none of my employer’s business. Day to day, I don’t make my religion anybody’s business unless needed (eg days off). What would they do with this information?
    2) As you pointed out, this language is incredibly Christian-coded. I’m Jewish and most of this language isn’t how we talk about things, like using the word faith interchangeably with religion. Or measuring temperance? I’m not even clear on what that means. But this would send the message to me that this is a Christian workplace and I’d start polishing my resume while setting up an appointment with HR.

          1. CoveredinBees*

            It’s actually from an old Eddie Izzard standup about trying to talk around the water cooler at work when you’re a beekeeper. But I like all of these answers.

    1. Sara without an H*

      I’m a Christian and I would be uncomfortable, too, and for exactly the same reasons.

      OP#1, if you’re still reading this far down the comment stream, you are NOT overreacting, and if you can find a way to push back or just not comply, do it. I would also recommend keeping a sharp lookout for signs that this questionnaire is a symptom of more disfunction in your organization.

      My own organization went through a period of multiple personality tests (Myers-Briggs, StrengthsFinder, and a couple of others I don’t remember.) It never led to anything and eventually, senior leadership got bored and moved on. But if stuff like you describe starts to form a pattern, update your resume and get out.

    2. HannahS*

      Yeah, also Jewish, and agree. Also want to hat tip to the OP for recognizing that a lot of the language is specifically Christian, not just blanket “religious” (which generally means Christian.)

    3. AnotherLibrarian*

      Yes, all of this. This isn’t about spirituality (as though that is a work thing at all), it is about how well someone conforms to a very Christian set of values (and language) and a lot of us don’t think of our religion in that way.

  17. Lab Boss*

    “Transcendence” stuck out to me as a spectacularly weird thing for work to measure. Like “well, we want to know your satisfaction so we know if you’re at risk to look for another job, and we want to know how transcendent you are so we know if you’re at risk to suddenly elevate to a higher plane of existence right before a big project is due.”

    1. Not So NewReader*

      “Well, I wasn’t thinking about it before but since you framed it this way maybe I do need to look around for another job….”/s

  18. Spicy Tuna*

    Ugh, that first letter. I am a lifelong atheist raised by atheists. This letter boils my blood. I would definitely make it a “thing” but I was also raised by parents that vigorously protested any overt or subtle instances of public theism

    1. anonymous73*

      I am not an atheist and the letter makes me rage-y. Unless you work for a religious organization, religion should NEVER be a topic of conversation at work, especially when forced on you by management. EVER. And that is a hill I will die on.

      1. londonedit*

        100%. We don’t have an official separation of church and state (quite the opposite; the Queen is officially head of state and head of the Church of England) but in the UK religion is one of those topics that you do not discuss in polite conversation (the others are money and politics). I wouldn’t have a clue what religion, if any, the people I work with practice (apart from those who wear hijab or kippah, for example) and I don’t really know about any of my friends, either – I’ve been to Catholic weddings for a few of them but given the fact that half the time people who get married in a C of E church do so because it’s a nice church/it’s in the village they grew up in, I wouldn’t even take a Catholic wedding as total proof of practicing Catholicism. It’s just not something most people are interested in talking about – and it would therefore be incredibly weird if your employer started bringing in religious/spiritual/faith-based questionnaires and ‘retreats’ like this. My employer has no right to ask about any religion I might or might not practice, unless it’s in the context of making sure I have the right days off and making sure I’m not being discriminated against. Apart from that, no, religion is not a topic for the workplace (unless your workplace is a church or something that’s actually affiliated with a religion in some way).

        1. Bagpuss*

          Yes, my sense is that if the wedding is taking place in a Catholic church it probably means that at least one spouse is a practicing Catholic as I think they usually do ask a bit more before agreeing, although I suspect that in a lot of cases having parents who are active may be enough, but definitely not in the CofE.

          I’d agree that religion isn’t something that gets discussed much and certainly any kind of evangelizing would be seen as impolite.

          The only instances (other than clients raising it, which can sometimes be relevant in my line of work) where it’s ever come up explicitly at work I can think of was when I did an informal internship in a firm which handled all the legal work for the local Cathedral & Dioceses. The Partner I was shadowing made a comment to me after a meeting about the approach of the (Senior churchman) we’d just met with not being very Christian (He’s been advised that while it was legally possible to pursue a former employee about a small debt there were specific policies and allocated funding which would allow him the discretion not , on compassionate grounds, but refused to exercise that discretion in the employee’s favour), but I think in context it wasn’t inappropriate .

          I did once have a Muslim coworker ask me whether I thought other people would be offended if she sent them Christmas cards given that she wasn’t a Christian, and we ended up having a a really interesting conversation.

      2. Batgirl*

        I work for a Catholic school where we might be expected to attend mass, but we would never ever use something so nosy, probing and… Ridiculous.

      3. JustaTech*

        One of the things I really appreciated about one of my former coworkers that was some kind of Evangelical was that when she asked our other coworker and I if we’d like to go to Easter service with her she took our polite-but-unmovable “no” for an answer and never asked again.

        It wasn’t that she never talked about her church again, but it was always in the same context/tone as someone else talking about their weekend hike or their board game group. “This is a thing I do in my non-work life”, nothing to be ashamed of, but also not something you expect to share with coworkers.

        1. anonymous73*

          IME, religious co-workers have often tried to push their agenda on me and that’s why I am so “NEVER” about talking religion at work. If it’s a comment in passing, or you 100% know that you share religion in common with someone, that’s cool. But don’t ask me to pray with you or try to convert me. It’s like politics – having a discussion about it in mixed company will rarely end well and it’s best to just not bring it up at work.

        2. Spicy Tuna*

          That kind of scenario wouldn’t bother me at all, either. Some people are religious and those religious activities are part of their lives just like going to the gym or geocaching are part of other people’s lives. To the extent that people discuss their personal lives at work, going to church, or the gym or whatever is going to come up.

  19. L-squared*

    #2. Can I ask what people find so gross about it, assuming the nail clippings are getting thrown in the garbage. People blow their knows at their desk all the time, which I find far more disgusting. They cough, sneeze, tough stuff, sometimes have shoes off. What is it with nail clipping that bothers people?

    I’m not someone who does it at my desk, but if someone else did it at theirs, I don’t think I’d be bothered.

    1. I should really pick a name*

      I don’t personally find it gross, but I’ve noticed that some people tend to find human bits gross once they’re separated from the human (nails, hair, etc…)

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yeah. Matter out of place. My husband used to say a little bit of blood looks like a lot because we all know blood belongs IN a body, not outside a body. Matter out of place.

        Throw 6 ounces of water on the ground. So what, right? Throw 6 ounces of gasoline on the ground and people start to get concerned/upset. More matter out of place.

        1. L-squared*

          And if the nails were being left there, I could understand it. But assuming you aren’t seeing them, what is the problem?

          I’ve seen people brush their hair at their desk, and a bit of hair comes off. Is that just as gross?

          1. Hlao-roo*

            I have a friend who is grossed out by unattached hair, for the matter-out-of-place reason I should really pick a name and Not So NewReader mention. I am not grossed out by stray pieces of hair, but I would personally find it odd to see someone brushing their hair at work regularly (I can understand the occasional need to touch-up/re-do hair, the same way people may occasionally clip a painful hangnail at work).

            For clipping nails vs. blowing your nose, people can wait until they are home to clip their nails in a way they really can’t wait to blow their nose. So nail clipping hits the trifecta of: 1) matter-out-of-place grossness, 2) distracting noise, and 3) can/should wait for a different time and place.

          2. Batgirl*

            It’s not exactly professional, but there’s less likelihood of hair accidentally boomeranging around the room and being a distracting clippy noise. Some people can quite easily contain their hair too. I can’t (I shed like crazy) so I wouldn’t dream of risking showering the place with hair.

    2. anonymous73*

      I find it more annoying than gross because of the noise.

      Several jobs ago part of my team was an internal help desk. When they got a call from a certain person, they would bargain to see who had to go and help him. He was a boogey flicker. He would pick his nose and flick his boogies all over the place within his cube. Now THAT is gross.

    3. Mockingjay*

      It’s a uniquely distracting noise. It falls into the category of personal grooming, which society has deemed a private matter. A broken nail? Fine to give it a quick trim. A full manicure – go get one on your lunch hour. It’s not appropriate for an office setting and is separate from involuntary body functions such as coughing and sneezing.

      1. L-squared*

        If its about the noise, I actually can understand that a lot more. But just the act being gross seems weird to me.

        1. CoveredinBees*

          I loathe the sound so much I put on headphones or something distracting when I have to cut my or my kids’ nails. Although I think part of the discomfort is the knowledge that sometimes a bit of nail can really go flying and you can’t find until later when you’re not expecting it. People seem to have a similar level of discomfort upon finding stray hairs where they are unexpected but not a hygiene issue (eg food). This is despite the fact that hair on people’s heads is fine.

        2. pancakes*

          Why? Every time the topic has come up here, there are many, many people who find it rude, annoying, a bit gross, or all three for a coworker to routinely clip their nails at their desk. I find it weird that you find this weird.

          1. L-squared*

            Well, this comment section isn’t exactly a baseline for what society at large thinks. in my experience I feel like people here are often far more “I don’t want to do any activity with coworkers ever” and find things annoying that many people just kind of move past.

            1. pancakes*

              Of course not, but people not wanting to see others trimming their nails in public is a widely shared sentiment well beyond this comment section. I’ve lived in NYC nearly 25 years and people complaining about others trimming their nails on the subway, for example, has been common the entire time. It’s not some sort of AAM-specific idiosyncrasy.

            2. Batgirl*

              There’s a big difference between “I can’t move past that” and “other people should just move past something unnecessary and annoying”. If it was just me in the office I could well move past it, because I only find it marginally gross and I find people’s cluelessness quite an amusing lilt to my day. But I also respect that other people are individuals who differ in what they can cope with, but they have to be at work, and that’s why we don’t do weird and annoying things at work. Work is not the place for “tolerate everything”.

          2. Person from the Resume*

            Because it doesn’t bother me at all. Nothing, zilch and to discover as an adult that people on this website think it’s so gross is baffling to me. It’s a complete disconnect from my reality, and no one has explained to me why it’s just so gross.

            I mean, cut nails need to be directed towards the trash, but they were once on people’s hands which are washed regularly (you hope) and touch other people and their own food, etc. There’s nothing gross about them when attached to the body; removing them from the body doesn’t make them dirty or unsanitary (like blood and bodily fluids are).

            It’s like hair. Aare there people grossed out by going to the barber or stylist because once hair is cut it becomes gross to them? I haven’t heard that this is common. That would be as weird to me as this idea that nail clipping is so inherently gross that even hearing the sound (not seeing the action) grosses people out.

            1. L-squared*


              THANK YOU! Its amazing that people are acting like I’m the odd one for not finding something gross. As I said, as long as its in the garbage, I don’t get how these nails attached to hands that touched all the surfaces were fine before, but once they are clipped, now they are this disgusting thing. It makes no sense to me. And the smug tone seemed from pancakes just wildly unnecessary

            2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

              Actually I am grossed out by other people’s “disembodied hair” — I can’t really explain it, I just have a visceral “yuck” reaction to things that used to be attached to someone’s body and aren’t anymore. (Shed pet fur doesn’t bother me, nor my own hair, but other people’s hair does. Dunno. Brains are weird.) It’s not that they’re dirty necessarily (though WET disembodied hair is worse, because it STICKS TO THINGS), it’s just … that used to be attached to someone, and it’s not anymore, and yuck. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

              But the sound of nail clipping doesn’t bother me pretty much at all, other than the way any other repetitive noise like dripping water or a branch tapping on a window might.

            3. Batgirl*

              I find the assumption that an office nail clipper has both washed their hands and scrubbed beneath their nails to be really quite endearing.

            4. Kaittydid*

              Exactly! I can act on the fact that people find it gross and not clip my nails at work, and still be baffled by the strength of some reactions. Idk. I have ADHD, so many, many things that bother me are a complete non-issue for neurotypical people. I change what I can (remove tags, dim my monitors, etc) and deal with the rest. The faint sound of the bass line of a song I can’t otherwise hear drives me absolutely insane. It’s disproportionate to the actual annoyance. I leave the area when I can for that one, and don’t expect other people to agree with me that it’s one of the worst sensory experiences imaginable. I guess it would be nice to see that kind of self awareness in the comments about how utterly, unfathomably vile the act of nail clipping is. Maybe the hyperbolic comments are a chance to vent for the people who think nail clipping is so disgusting? I would probably enjoy a conversation with someone who agreed with me about faint bass lines. I dunno.

            5. SweetFancyPancakes*

              It never occurred to me until I started reading this column that the sound was offensive to some people. I admit that until I found that out, I would sometimes clip fingernails at my desk when I realized they were long enough that I could feel them when typing, but I always would put my hand down into the garbage can so there were no flying bits. If a colleague is doing it, it’s very likely that they don’t have any idea that they are bothering anyone, and like me, didn’t even think of it as grooming- it’s not like I was filing, buffing, painting, or doing anything else that I would have considered “grooming”. Again, I stopped when I found out that it bugs some people, but I bet a lot of people who do it don’t have any clue that others find it gross (I admit that leaving trimmed nails around would be yucky, and toenails would definitely be a no-no).

    4. Myrin*

      I’m probably the only person in the world with this reasoning but for me, it’s the… thing, for lack of a better word, that nail clippers do to your nails. You don’t really use them for humans where I am (so the act itself is somewhat foreign to me but that’s not it) but we used to have rabbits so we had one at home and, for fun, I tried them once or twice and it was absolutely terrible; they kind of squished my nails, made the part where the clamp goes down really broad yet pointy and the whole nail that weird yellowy white you get when you put pressure on it, all of that without actually cutting the nail but still making a noticeable dent, resulting in the most uncomfortable feeling I have ever had the displeasure of having at the tip of my fingers.
      Logically, I know that it’s probably to do with the density/softness of my nails and isn’t like that for everyone but that experience definitely makes me want to yuck whenever I so much as see them at the store.

      1. Elenna*

        I’m super curious – what do you use to keep your nails short?

        Also, maybe the kind you use on rabbits is different than the kind you use on humans? IDK. Or maybe it’s something specific about your nails.

        1. TiredEmployee*

          Not the same person, but I use nail scissors. Nail clippers are awful in comparison, I don’t kmow how anyone can use them.

        2. Myrin*

          Nail scissors for the “rougher” cutting and a nail file to smooth down the edges.
          (To be fair, when I use the scissors with my non-dominant hand, they also do what I described above to the nail on my middle finger – like I said, the original effect probably had more to do with the hardness and shape of my nails than with the clippers themselves – but I’ve begrudgingly learned to deal with that.)

      2. I should really pick a name*

        Not all nail clippers are created equally.
        Bad ones are more likely to do what you’ve described.
        How to tell if it’s good or bad without testing? I have no idea.

      3. Bagpuss*

        That sound like they were not very good / not sharp.

        I use them (not at work) as I find cutting the nails on my right hand very difficult using scissors, and I find it much quicker and more convenient than filing. (I do smooth them with a file after clipping)

        I don’t find it particularly gross but to me it’s in a similar category to shaving or plucking your eyebrows – more appropriate to do in private on your own time.

        I’d actually mind more if someone started painting their nails, though, because t of the smell.

    5. Elenna*

      Yeah, I don’t find it gross either. (I also don’t find nose-blowing gross, as long as the results are safely contained within a tissue that is immediately thrown out. My “gross tolerance” is apparently pretty high.) But we’ve had lots of letters about it being gross so I just make a mental note not to do it in public.

    6. Frog&Toad*

      For me it’s the sound and the flinging off of nails into the air. Pen clicking sounds are just as bad. If I ever have to go into the office again, I’m getting in early and stealing all the clicky pens and nail clippers. Not really, but I WANT to.

    7. River Otter*

      I am fascinated by the cultural divide between people who think that nail clipping should be done at home or in the bathroom and people who put nail clipping on about the same level as hair brushing. I am also fascinated by how convinced the former group is that their rules are somehow written in the universe or something. I am totally Team Clip Your Nails at Home, but I recognize that there is another team so I manage my reactions to it even though I find the sound annoying and the practice gross.

      1. pancakes*

        I don’t see any particular indication that other people who also find the sound annoying and the practice a bit gross aren’t also managing their reactions. I’m not sure exactly what sort of reactions you have in mind though? On the occasions I’ve seen someone clipping their nails on the subway I’ve not seen anyone have some sort meltdown or tantrum in response. I would not expect that to happen in an office either.

    8. RagingADHD*

      I think the fact that someone violates social boundaries about something like that, leads to the assumption that they don’t have appropriate boundaries around other things –like the suspicion that they might not wash their hands after using the toilet, or that they might have poor hygiene in other ways.

      The action itself is not any grosser than sneezing, but because it’s a choice (while sneezing isn’t) it implies that the person wasn’t “raised right” and may have gross habits in general.

      A bare foot stuck into your airplane armrest by the person behind you isn’t any inherently grosser than a bare foot walking past you on the beach. Both people could have sweaty soles, dirty toenails, or foot fungus. But one person is being inappropriate and rude, and the other person isn’t.

      1. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

        Agree this is a social boundaries issue. And sneezing is not a choice. Clipping ten fingernails in your cube is definitely a choice, it’s not work-related, and it’s an annoying sound to plenty of people (obviously from the comments section). Brushing your hair is the same, minus the annoying little noise: It is a CHOICE to do it at your desk and it’s a choice that many people would not make because grooming is more appropriately done in private.

      2. Batgirl*

        This reminds me of a friend’s university roommate who revealed she’d been using the kitchen scissors to trim her toenails for weeks. She was very receptive to not doing it once it was objected to, but all faith in her ability to be hygienic going forward was done with. The way my friend put it was: “What other basic thing might she simply not know how to do?”

        1. RagingADHD*

          “Oh, you mean we’re only supposed to use our OWN toothbrush? Why does that matter? I rinse it off!”

          “Wait, are you saying I shouldn’t let the dog lick the dishes dry after I wash them? It’s clean water! I’d never let him lick soap, I’m not stupid.”

    9. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

      There are a lot of activities, including personal grooming activities, that are generally considered impolite to do in the workplace at one’s desk. Clipping all of your nails. Trimming nose hair. Shaving. Even tweezing. All of those activities involve intentional cutting of body components, and the resulting waste products. None of those activities need to be done at work. Anyone who has done these things knows that the trimmings can fly off, land on the floor, desk and elsewhere. And yes, people find nail and hair trimmings to be gross. And people find the clipping noise annoying. I am conservative enough that I would say even acceptable personal grooming (like brushing one’s hair) should be done in the restroom.

  20. drpuma*

    LW3, I’ve had subscription services reach out to me with a “you haven’t used this for the last # weeks, do you still want to subscribe?” That could be a kindness for these clients. Alternately I wonder if it would be worth your time to offer them a higher-rate plan where they opt IN rather than opting out like they currently do. So you know their preferences, but can assume you don’t have to plan to cook for them until they tell you otherwise. Either way I would encourage you to bump out your notice period – it sounds like 2 hours does not accurately reflect the prep time you need.

  21. anonymous73*

    #1 as someone who was also raised Catholic but is private about my own spirituality, I would push back HARD on that assessment. What exactly is the purpose of this retreat? Unless you work for a religious organization it is 100% not okay to force employees to talk about their religious beliefs as part of a work activity. They’re crossing a line and someone needs to bring their attention to it.

  22. Anonymous4*

    I’m really surprised that OP#3 (the chef) isn’t already charging the clients for the missed appointments. No cooking is being done, but the chef’s time has been monopolized because s/he can’t get another client at short notice.

    I suspect that the regular last-minute cancellations happen because it doesn’t affect the client. But if the client is billed for a certain number of sessions a month whether they use them or not, they can still cancel whenever it suits them and the chef isn’t looking at a reduction in income.

    1. anonymous73*

      Yeah they need to change their policy about not only what they allow as far as taking over a specific time slot, but for cancellations when it’s too late to book another client. Or maybe multiple cancellations in a row. Personally I wouldn’t allow anyone to monopolize a spot knowing they’re unreliable and cancel most of the time.

      Slightly different situation, but my hair stylist told me she had a client once that she had to let go. She was always late, which backed up the rest of her day. She finally told her she could no longer have her as a client. It’s not pleasant, but if your clients are affecting your ability to earn a living, you need to let them go (or charge them for wasting your time)

  23. Tsalmoth*

    Having worked in small-ish university departments a few times, I’ve tried to avoid using my actual title when leaving reviews on Glassdoor, and opted for a more general one (since my actual title would make it obviously me). Wonder if the reviewer was trying to hide their own identity and inadvertently used yours.

    1. cubone*

      Yeah this is what I thought. I left a review recently for Old Job and I’m also one of two people to ever have my title in the last decade. I tried to make it something more generic, like “manager” instead “comms manager” or whatever. Maybe this person was a director in the development area, so that just seemed like the easiest title to put.

  24. CeeKee*

    Oh, yeah…the test in question #1 is the Values In Action Inventory of Strengths. It’s not a religious instrument per se (which is to say, not faith-based) but it’s always so weird and intrusive when workplaces take it upon themselves to dig in to the interior lives of their staff in this way. And especially without taking into account that even if those questions aren’t intended to assess or steer employees’ spiritual practice, it’s still none of their business!

    1. Nanani*

      It sounds like the type of cluelessness that doesn’t realise religions exist beyond mainstream Christianity, which suggests being problematic in a lot of other ways.

  25. EventPlannerGal*

    OP3: whatever you do wrt these specific clients, I really think you need to change your cancellation policy and particularly the 2-hour thing. That’s SUCH short notice, and I’m really surprised that you’re not charging them up until that point. I mean, a lot of restaurants I’ve been to lately take a deposit and won’t refund it if you cancel within up to 24 hours, and those are just random restaurants rather than a private chef! I understand wanting to accommodate repeat clients but if you don’t demonstrate that you value your own time/prep then clients won’t either.

  26. BA*

    OP3 – Putting myself in the shoes of a potential customer of yours, I would definitely be OK with either a non-refundable deposit being charged at booking, a wider cancellation window requirement, or just being charged if I no-showed. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with placing value on your time and letting these and other customers know that they should value your time like you value your time.

  27. Heffalump*

    OP1: Raised Protestant, now agnostic bordering on atheist. The 4 statements you mentioned don’t describe me at all.

  28. Not really a Waitress*

    All I can think is I would be grateful he was clipping his nails in the privacy of his cubicle and NOT at the Monday morning meeting… I worked with THAT guy.

    1. SnappinTerrapin*

      Sometimes we engage in the polite fiction that cubicles are actually rooms, and resist the temptation to police what colleagues do inside their bounded space.

      Sometimes reality reminds us that we really can hear some of what goes on inside those boundaries.

      We each have idiosyncratic notions of which things should be ignored and which should be protested.

      The philosophical conundrum is that we tend to perceive the other person as violating our boundaries, no matter which side of the semi-wall we are sitting on.

  29. Anon all day*

    So what do you do when your ex-boss leaves a glowing Glassdoor review pretending to be you when you quit? Lol, talk about it being the cherry on an awful workplace. (For more info, there’s no actual identifying info in it, so I was never too up in arms. Also, there were only like five employees, and I was the only one leaving and in a very specific job, so it was clear they were pretending to be me.)

    1. cubone*

      This is wild! Do you think your boss suspected/anticipated you were going to leave a negative one and wanted to get ahead of it? Do they just leave all sorts of fake reviews to beef up the company’s image?

      1. Anon for today*

        He was pretty conscious/concerned about online reviews, so while I don’t think he expected I would necessarily leave a negative one, I think he saw it as an opportunity to gain a positive review. It was kinda hilarious because after like one line, it was so obviously more of an advertisement for how great the position was rather than an actual review. Lots of statements about how “You get to” do this and that and “You’ll see that..” instead of “I got to” statements.

        I just checked out some other online reviews, and hahahaha one of the reviews is from a family member. (It doesn’t say they’re a family member – I just recognize the name.)

    2. Meep*

      This is kind of where I am at with this one. That bad review is the truth for someone who is unable to speak up about the pile of sh*t in the middle of the room. I would just say those views expressed were not my opinions and move on. (In both cases.)

  30. allison*

    For LW#2 – I was CONVINCED this was happening in my office too, but I never caught the person in the act. I was so sure that was the noise I was hearing. But it wouldn’t make sense for them to do it every single day. No one needs to clip their nails every day. So one day I went out and TRIED to catch them in the act, but actually the person was just snapping their gum. Maybe that’s what your guy is doing too.

  31. Construction Safety*

    #2. After senior guy retired, next senior guy moved into his office (we share a wall, I can see his door while sitting at my desk). NSG found a pile of nail clippings in one of the drawers. I had heard the occasional clipping, but never dreamed he was saving them.

    1. quill (and the bees agree with me)*

      I’m boggled. On the one hand, there are belief systems where you don’t throw out hair / nail clippings in case they could be used to harm you. On the other hand, if that was the case, WHY DID HE LEAVE THEM BEHIND?

    2. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      I too have inherited a desk at a new job that had nail clippings embedded in a drawer. SO GROSS. I just left them there untouched for four years, and warned the next person they were there.

      1. quill (and the bees agree with me)*

        New rule: forget “don’t drink while reading AAM comments” it’s expanded to “don’t eat while reading AAM comments.” Blech.

  32. LondonLady*

    #LW3 – one subscription service I use which sends a monthly selection box (similar schemes for clothes, wine, books, etc) charges a monthly £10 fee (we are in the UK) which is deducted from the bill unless you buy nothing or cancel the slot at short notice. Could that work for you?

  33. Salad Daisy*

    #1 I recently applied for a job via Indeed. A few days later I was sent a questionnaire which asked me to state my religion and my sexual orientation. Needless to say I did not provide that information and withdrew my application. FYI this was not a religion-based company, it was a real estate agency!

      1. Anon for today*

        There could be state-specific laws I’m not aware of, but federally, it’s not actually illegal to ask questions about protected classes; it’s just illegal to make decisions based on those classes. So, most employers simply don’t ask any such question because it sets them up for a lawsuit whether or not the answer actually factored into the decision.

    1. Box of Kittens*

      Real estate seems to weirdly get away with a lot of blatant discrimination. I applied for a marketing position at a real estate agency after I graduated college and got asked if I was planning on getting pregnant anytime soon with the implication that if I was, I would be out of the running.

    2. Kay*

      Sadly, I’m not surprised. If you want dysfunction, real estate is one of the places you will find a healthy dose of it.

    3. Leilah*

      You mean something different than the standard questionnaire? I have gotten that with 95% of jobs I ever applied for (in the US)

    4. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Since real estate seems to think it’s all about “connections”, I guess they wanted that info from you so they could break into other demographics. “Hey, we have a bisexual Episcopalian on staff now! We can start marketing to them!” Stupid.

  34. Boof*

    OP2 – I admit I’m surprised someone could manage to cut their nails /daily/. Maybe they’re doing something else? It should be ok to ask what the noise is.

    1. alienor*

      I always wonder that about these office nail-clippers too. If I clipped every day my fingers would look like dogs had been attacking them.

  35. desk platypus*

    #2 I had a coworker who used to clip his nails at his desk multiple times a week for several agonizing minutes. We had only a bookshelf separating us as a makeshift cubicle and we both did silent computer work so that made it sound even louder. We barely ever spoke and he was the office oddball so it was difficult to bring up. Eventually I got so fed up I used the “hey can you do that in the bathroom I’m sorry, I’m just so sensitive to that sound” even though I shouldn’t be the one apologizing. After that he went in the bathroom when he needed to (which was literally only a few feet away) but he would slam his desk drawer shut the moment he put the clippers back to let me know he was mad about it. I ended up leaving the job a couple months later and always wondered if he started up again.

  36. Oh No She Di'int*

    #5 There was a letter here a couple of weeks ago from a job applicant whose interviewer insisted that they promise to take the job if it was offered. I’m convinced that that was a misguided attempt to deal with situations like this.

    1. irene adler*

      I think you are onto something.
      Lots of ham-handed attempts to fill positions and stem the turnover tide without actually analyzing the situation to determine the root cause of issue.
      (Gah, can you tell I work in QA?)

  37. Ms. Ann Thropy*

    If I were the boss of any workplace nail-clipping would result in immediate termination. Just thinking about the sound it makes gives me the rages. There is no reason for it to be done outside of a bathroom, preferably your own home bathroom.

  38. CleverGirl*

    #2: Are you SURE the person is clipping nails? You said you hear the sound “daily” and I don’t know anyone who clips their nails daily. Nails don’t generally grow that fast. If I clipped my nails daily I would have no nails left.

    If you’ve never actually seen it happen, it very well could be something completely different that just sounds like a nail clipper.

    1. alienor*

      One of those ballpoint pens where you can click the button on the end, maybe? I’ve been guilty of absentmindedly clicking them when I have one in my hand and am thinking about what I need to write down.

    2. I'm just here for the cats*

      My mom has long nails and absentmindedly will click/flick her nails and it makes a similar sound that drives me up the wall! Maybe he does something similar.

      Or maybe he has a fidget toy or something that makes a clicky sound.
      OP next time you hear it just pop over the cubical wall or go to his desk and say, “Hey I keep hearing a clicking sound and its really distracting for me. Could you keep it at a minimum.”

  39. irene adler*

    I left a “meh” review of my current company on Glassdoor. Typical small company with the usual plusses and minuses.
    Someone else did too.
    Later, the CEO left a glowing Glassdoor review of the company (along the lines of “best workplace ever!”) that has me wondering why. We are not hiring-ever. Given he’s been the only CEO for 30 years, the author of the review is obvious.

  40. Jess*

    Tom clips his nails and has clipped his nails for the 22 odd years he has worked here I am sure. He would LOVE if I said something, bc no life so drama equals attention. I am sure others have told him before, and will since that this is not a normal business practice.

    Bro, I’m outta here in the near so you go on and be obnoxious all you want. Also, continue to complain how you can’t get hired anywhere else out of this “dead end job” at our institution.

  41. quill (and the bees agree with me)*

    LW 1: So tempted to tell people that my “spiritual strength” is recognizing when it is and is not appropriate to discuss spirituality.

    My wisdom score is probably pretty low. (As is my dex, strength…)

  42. HelenB*

    Maybe the nail clipping co-worker just created his own annoying screen saver?


  43. Scott M*

    I have to admit I had never heard of nail-clipping bothering people SO MUCH until reading this blog. That’s just one thing I don’t understand.
    Toenails, yeah, because it involves being barefoot in a professional setting and that’s just unprofessional. But clipping fingernails? Really?
    Anyway – just mentioning this because I never knew that people were creeped out by it. So when you encounter someone who is doing it at the office, don’t assume they are being rude.

    1. RagingADHD*

      Well, they are being rude. They may be doing so out of ignorance rather than malice or indifference.

      It’s like if you step on someone’s foot. Even if you didn’t do it on purpose, it’s still their foot.

      1. SweetFancyPancakes*

        Nah, rudeness implies intention. Someone doing something that they don’t know bothers someone else isn’t rude, just unknowing. It would be exhausting to go around one’s entire life taking umbrage at people just living their lives without knowing how much their actions offend one. I like to offer the benefit of the doubt, and hope others are offering me the same.

        1. RagingADHD*

          That’s a really interesting personal definition you have there, of both “rude” and “offense.”

          I don’t take umbrage, but that doesn’t make inconsiderate behavior magically polite or pleasant to be around. It just means I steer clear of people who don’t know how to behave or exhibit basic social skills.

          1. Scott M*

            But it’s NOT inconsiderate if you don’t know it bothers people. It’s really not obvious. And I wouldn’t consider it a “basic social skill” to know that people are creeped out by nail clipping.

    2. Batgirl*

      I would be more inclined to assume cluelessness. I can’t imagine someone would deliberately do something considered unhygienic at work. It’s just some people don’t consider having bits of themselves lying around to be unhygienic and that other people don’t want to have to wonder how clean those stray bits are. (Also, FYI the objection to toenails has nothing to do with a barefoot person being unprofessional. It’s more to do with feet being an area that gets gross quicker than other body parts, and toe nails tend to collect dirt better than anywhere else on the foot. A comparison would be that it’s more like publicly plucking an armpit hair than being akin to dressing down for the beach)

      1. Scott M*

        I totally agree that its unhygienic to let your clipped nails go flying, or leave them around on the desk. But the actual act of clipping shouldn’t be considered unhygienic, right? For example, blowing your nose in a flimsy tissue doesn’t seem to elicit the vitriol that clipping nails does. In that case a person is essentially soaking a flimsy piece of paper in mucus, and some of it’s gonna get on their hand to be spread around.
        I understand now, that people have a reaction to nail clipping. But I’m pointing out that its reasonable that someone wouldn’t know that

    3. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

      Clipping your fingernails at your desk is generally considered impolite. Along with shaving, trimming your nose hair, etc. These are things that don’t need to be done at work, and shouldn’t be done at work. Yes, people are grossed out by the bodily trimmings flying all over the place. Now you know.

  44. Elspeth*

    I 100% believe that people clip their nails at work and that the coworker referenced by LW2 is probably doing so, but I will provide one possible alternative.

    For a number of months I was convinced that one of my coworkers was clipping their nails at work on a disturbingly regular basis, but I could never figure out who. One day I was talking with another coworker and she said she had thought the same thing until she saw another coworker playing with those little magnetic balls (I think they’re called Speks? People use them as fidget devices). The sound of the ones he had clicking together sounded exactly like nail clipping. I was so relieved.

  45. matte*

    I’m about to mortify everyone, I almost exclusively clip my nails at work and I’m not going to apologize for it. Judge me all you want. (one, I’m in an office by myself 80% of the time) but 2, my nails grow really slow so I don’t notice I need to clip them until they start hurting my fingers while I’m typing and that signals me to clip them. lol

    1. TiredEmployee*

      Yeah, same here, though I use nail scissors instead of clippers. I’ve done it before and I’ll probably do it again. I’d rather potentially make my coworkers uncomfortable for a couple of minutes than be definitely uncomfortable myself for 7 hours.

      1. pancakes*

        I don’t see why it would have to be that particular either/or instead of clipping them in the bathroom, though. No one objects to personal grooming being done there.

        1. TiredEmployee*

          I don’t know what kind of loos you have but at my workplace there’s definitely no space for that. Also that seems a lot more weird, it’s a task that doesn’t require a toilet, sink, or mirror and is much easier when sat down at some kind of table.

          1. Batgirl*

            It’s easier for the sink to catch the clipped nail which is why most people opt to do it there, plus no one eats in the toilets so an accidental stray wisp of nail is not as big a deal. I think aiming at a wastebasket while seated is actually much more difficult than having your hands in the sink. Though, I am talking about trimming only a tiny bit of ragged nail if I have snagged it at work. I wouldn’t want to regularly put a full set of nails into the workplace plumbing which might explain why you prefer sitting down over a wastebasket.

            1. TiredEmployee*

              With scissors nothing flies anywhere, so there’s no need to aim or catch. But yeah, definitely wouldn’t put a whole nail cutting down the sink, that’s extra weird.

          2. pancakes*

            +1 to what Batgirl said.

            It does sound like your loos are considerably smaller than what I’m accustomed to. I don’t think I’d feel there wasn’t enough space even in an airplane loo, though, and those tend to be even smaller. I certainly wouldn’t want to trim all 10 nails there out of concern for keeping other people waiting, but lack of space doesn’t seem like a problem.

            1. TiredEmployee*

              I’d either have to take up a stall sitting on a lidless toilet seat for the duration or stand in the way of the sinks (and anyone leaving the stalls), the hand dryers, or the exit. Add to that awkwardly holding the nail bits instead of being able to collect them on the desk for disposal and I’m far more likely to unknowingly leave a dropped trimming on the floor somewhere, which I’m sure you’ll agree is worse. All because there’s a potential chance that someone might think it’s gross but not enough to actually tell me or get someone else to? Not worth it.

              1. pancakes*

                It sounds like you’re thinking of a more extensive process than I had in mind. If you want to do more than a quick trim of one or two nails over the bathroom sink or trash bin I don’t see why you’d prefer to do that at your desk rather than at home. “No one has told me they think it’s gross” doesn’t make work the best place to do personal grooming, from my perspective.

                1. TiredEmployee*

                  I’m talking about cutting my nails. Like matte, it’s not until they become a problem that I know I need to cut them, and like I said, I would be uncomfortable for an entire work day. If you had a stone in your shoe would you leave it there until you got home because work isn’t the best place to take off your shoe?

                2. pancakes*

                  Of course not, but I don’t think that’s comparable. Taking a shoe off to remove a stone isn’t something that needs to be done fairly frequently as a matter of basic maintenance or personal grooming. If you are frequently finding yourself surprised that your nails have grown to the point of becoming uncomfortable, maybe it’s time to start paying a bit more attention to not letting them get to that point. It seems to me that if you are keeping equipment to trim them at work, you are already aware on some level that they need trimming regularly.

                3. TiredEmployee*

                  Never going to happen. I’m already in a state of permanent autistic burnout without adding “worry about my fingernails” to the never-ending to-do list. It’s not worth it and nothing will convince me it is.

                  I don’t keep anything at work, at all. I have a small case containing a nailcare “set”, plasters, and hairties that I keep in my handbag. Having ready access to tweezers or a small pair of scissors is incredibly useful in all manner of situations.

    2. MCMonkeyBean*

      Personally I don’t think there is anything wrong with it as an occasional thing. If it’s happening super frequently then that does become a bit more obnoxious (and also how do they need to clip that often? maybe they should look into filing…)

    3. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      I guess there is a question to be asked, now that (having read all the way down the comments section this far) you know this sound and act bothers many people, will you alter your behavior? For example, set a monthly reminder to trim your nails at home the last Sunday of the month? So it doesn’t get away from you. LOL image of a long nail chasing you away from your keyboard at work…

      1. matte*

        Would I do it if I worked in a cubicle in a crowded office? probably not, am I going to change now, simply because most people find it gross, even though I mostly work alone in my office? No. that’s ridiculous. If I lived my life based on what the majority of people find “gross” I’d still be closeted and celibate.

    4. Batgirl*

      I think this is a tree falling in the forest example. You’re completely alone, which is a different set of rules than doing something known to gross people out/annoy in a shared space.

  46. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

    For #1: As a person who administers assessments to clients, the first thing I tell them is that “assessments” are not “tests” and that there are no right/wrong answers. They are simply snapshots in time to look at.

    Since the LW is concerned about the pre-work provided before the retreat, it seems like one option would be to go to the organizer of the event and ask about the context of this assessment. Will this be something that the organizers will be receiving and/or “scoring? Or is this an exercise to get participants thinking about particular issues in preparation? How is the “spiritual” stuff going to play into the retreat? Are activities designed to push participants toward a particular “result” or would someone who answers low on the “spirituality is a major force for me” scale be considered to have equally legitimate beliefs to people who scored high on the same scale?

    It’s a retreat, after all. Presumably there’s some ultimate goal in mind.

    Asking the contextual questions could uncover whether this retreat is appropriate in the context of the work that you do, helps you plan the next step. Either you go knowing that you won’t have the God Police pushing you in uncomfortable ways, or you can go prepared with language and boundaries set up to push back if the God Police cross a line, or you can raise concerns about what the work-related benefit is to pushing a particular emphasis on spirituality (and possibly make a case for opting out of some or all of it).

  47. MCMonkeyBean*

    For LW 3–perhaps you could reach out to the other two clients and let them make a choice. Tell them that going forward you will need to either remove their standing reservations and have them book you if you are available in the future like the rest of your clients, or else you can continue holding their spots but will need to begin charging for cancellations with fewer than X days of notice.

    1. MCMonkeyBean*

      I mean, I think you could obviously implement whatever policy you want, not like you need their permission to or anything! But if you’re not sure how you want to handle it and you don’t have a preference, you just know you need something to change, then I think you could discuss it with them if you wanted to.

  48. Kaittydid*

    As far as the sounds that might be nail clipping, just ask if they can keep whatever the clicking sound is to a minimum because it’s distracting.

    The level of gross-out people feel about nail clipping was surprising to me, and some of how people comment on it grates on me. I think it’s that I’m neurodivergent, and I deal with things that are equally as distracting and upsetting most of the time. I change the things I can (remove tags, dim my monitors, etc) and then deal with the rest. I acknowledge my own emotional reaction to it, validate myself, and try to move on. I think the baggage I’m bringing to the nail clipping discussion is that I do this near constantly, so why can’t neurotypical people do it for their (likely fewer) irritants?

    1. alienor*

      I’m not sure I totally get the gross-out either. I can see if someone was clipping their nails over the table at the holiday potluck, but as long as it’s confined to their own work space and they throw the clippings away when they’re done, it doesn’t seem that bad. I did take exception to a former coworker I had who liked to walk around the office while brushing his teeth, but toothpaste spit and bacteria flying onto my actual desk is another story.

    2. Kate in Colorado*

      I was a bit surprised at how many people were bothered by it too! But generally things like that don’t bother me. I once had a co-worker who flossed at her desk after lunch! I thought it was a little weird and kinda gross, but mostly I just thought it an odd little thing my otherwise good co-worker did, and I let it go.

  49. jess*

    Totally. People setting a cancelation policy need to balance industry norms, what is reasonable to impose on the client/customer, and their own business needs. It sounds like here, OP isn’t balancing their needs since the 2 hour cancelation policy doesn’t possibly leave them enough time to fill the slot! My opinion is that it is reasonable to charge a cancelation fee if you cancel within a window of time that makes it hard to fill the vacancy – and that can vary really widely from one business to the next.

    I also recommend being clear and honest about the reason for the change with the clients. Especially if you spin it into something that benefits them in some way (i.e., late cancelations make it difficult or impossible to fill the slot, which negatively impacts access to slots for all of my customers). Appointments with you are a commodity, and it seems that some of your customers don’t appreciate that because there has never been a consequence for late cancelations previously.

  50. Leeann*

    One time at my old job, my manager clipped all of his nails during a client meeting. There were about 12 of us in the conference room, half internal and half clients, and while we were going around the room introducing ourselves, my manager pulled out a nail clipper and proceeded to clip all 10. I was horrified and just stared at him the whole time. This was the same guy who would regularly tell people they weren’t dressed nice enough to meet with clients and even told one of our team leads he needed to get new shoes! (nothing was wrong with that guy’s shoes).

  51. Open planner*

    LW1’s positivity self-assessment reads like a list of behaviors of rich people, and really tone deaf in general but especially on the heels of covid. Do I spring out of bed in the morning with a zesty lust for life and belief that everything will turn out great? Do I f***. I’m a middle-aged renter, with meager retirement savings and increasing living costs, surrounded by affluent homeowners. The future is bleak.

    Lots of people have genuine reasons to be pessimistic in 2022. It’s not a character flaw.

  52. RB*

    #2, so just to make sure I have this right, you’ve resided next to the same person for eight months now and have never spoken?? Not even, good morning, have a nice weekend, could it BE any hotter outside? Seems like the bare minimum of human contact should be established before you ask him to stop doing the thing you don’t like.

  53. Elle by the sea*

    I don’t know how to use a nail clipper, so I use manicure scissors but it’s essentially a 10 mins job or less. If their cubicle is close and people can’t just walk in, that’s not a big deal. But to be honest, I don’t understand why anyone would do such a quick but somewhat messy task at work.

  54. Worker bee*

    LW#4, if you left on good terms, I’d contact your boss to let them know that you weren’t the one that posted the review. Could it be possible that the person who posted the review did so for the wrong company?

    I ask because my company once received a facebook message from a customer that was furious that one of our retail locations had refused to repair and/or replace some outdoor furniture she had purchased that was eaten by squirrels. Our social media person emailed me about it and, though I was 99% we had never sold that particular type of furniture, I double checked to cover my bases.

    After some quick googling, I discovered that there’s a company with a nearly identical name, but located in her area, that does sell that product. I messaged her back to let her know she had contacted the wrong company, gave her the link to the correct company, and suggested some squirrel deterrent products that might be helpful in the future.

    My company has a fairly generic name, so while that was the first time we had fielded a complaint about another company, about once a month, I get an email from someone asking if we can ship “X” product to them. That’s not something we do, but I always try to find a local source for them.

  55. Candi*

    #1- O_o I had a very Christian boss at one point, and the most it ever came into work is I opened Sundays because she and the other worker attended church. (retail) Your work is being very weird, and not the good kind of weird.

    #3- I’ve noticed a lot of people tend to make much more use of their reserved slots if they have to pay if they don’t.

  56. Katie B.*

    I’m late to the party, but regarding #2 – I wouldn’t assume it’s nail clippers. It might be, but I had this exact thing happen in my home office – I kept hearing my boyfriend clipping his nails next door for HOURS, until I finally walked in and asked what the noise was. He had just bought a new pocket knife and was fiddling with opening/closing it (Scouts and their toys…). It could be a fidget toy, some kind of pen/pencil with a clicker, a pocketknife… I’d recommend asking about the noise as though you don’t know what it is and seeing what happens.

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